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Friday, March 14, 2014

ADIOS

The ritual of spending a few minutes posting on this blog, or often, much more time in front of the computer each morning, is coming to an end.   It's been almost exactly 5 years since this electronic journal began, and I've accomplished what I set out to do.  The documentation of our travels, the home improvement projects, the time behind the badge, and glimpses into our daily experiences, has given our kids a multi year window into our lives.  That was my primary motivation when this all began, and with the yearly publication of a book, our 3 boys and grand child now have a written, pictorial record, that will stand the test of time.

Thanks to all who have followed our sometimes crazy lifestyle.  This decision has been in the works for sometime now, and it wasn't taken lightly.  Going back to a part time job these past few weeks, punching an early morning time clock, has brought this subject back to the forefront.   So, with some regret, the daily posts have come to an end.  I'm certain there will be occasional updates, particularly when we're back in the motor home, or when some other event is noteworthy, but for now.......it's adios.  


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DRIVING DIFFERENT MOTOR HOMES

I officially became a "driver" yesterday morning at La Mesa RV, when I returned to work.  Still teamed with a more experienced driver, I was told by the transportation supervisor to start driving.  The big move of remaining RV's, from the fairgrounds back to the dealership was completed yesterday, and I drove 6 different motor homes, one of which was a gas powered class A.

It has been a lot of years since I last drove a gas powered class A motor home.  Our last gas rig was a 98 Bounder that didn't stay in the stable very long.  Due primarily to a lack of power, it was replaced by our first diesel powered rig, a 2000 Discovery.

Most all of the gas rigs today, are built on the Ford chassis, with a V10 engine.  The first motor home I drove yesterday, was a 34 foot, gas powered Tiffin class A, and even though the V10 Ford engine has more power than the 98 bounder, it's still nowhere near a diesel.  Then, there's the difference between the ride of a gas RV, versus a diesel chassis.  The diesel is much more stable, and with the engine in the back, it's a lot quieter. 

At some point farther down the road, I thought that we might downsize to a gas motor home, but after driving one yesterday, I'm not so sure that's ever going to happen!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BACK TO WORK

With the quick trip to Georgia now in the rear view mirror, I picked up several gallons of paint yesterday, in preparation for the job of matching the new tractor port with the rest of the garage.  Painting the roof extension by hand, is not a good option, so I checked into renting an airless paint sprayer.  With the rental cost somewhere around $75 - $100 a day, I decided to check out the cost of purchasing a sprayer.  I found a Wagner airless pro sprayer on ebay for just under $150, so it will soon be added to the tool collection.  

It's been close to a month since Coast to Coast Carports put up the RV shade cover, and still no word on when they're going to return to finish the job.  I sent them an email before leaving for Georgia, along with pictures of the anchor bolts that were installed incorrectly, but no reply as of yesterday.  How this company stays in business is beyond me.

Because the hole wasn't drilled deep enough into the concrete, washers were used to tighten the bolt.  Two of the 8 anchors were incorrectly installed this way.

Last night, Patty took a recipe out of Miss Terry's new cookbook, available through the Gypsy Journal link, and made pizza.  It was delicious, and there were no left overs for breakfast this morning, as I get ready to go back to work at La Mesa RV.

Monday, March 10, 2014

CHANGE IN PLANS

 My Grand Daughter, and my Grand Dog yesterday morning in front of the fire.

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of relaxing, and watching the Las Vegas NASCAR race on Mike & Amy's 70 inch big screen TV.  That is........until Marc checked the flights for today, the day we had planned on flying back to Arizona.  All of the flights were booked solid, so he started checking to see if there were any open seats on yesterdays flights.  He found a couple of flights from Charlotte, N.C. (about 170 miles from Augusta), to Phoenix, that were only a little over half full.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that the flights from Augusta to Charlotte were sold out.  Since we had plenty of time to get to Charlotte, we decided to rent a car, and take a short road trip.

 56 more miles to Charlotte, N.C.

When we got into the Charlotte airport, after dropping off the rental car, we discovered that we might possibly get on an earlier flight that also had a bunch of empty seats.  We just made it to the gate, getting on a U.S. Air flight that left a little before 6pm.  We chased the sun, touching down in Phoenix a little after 7pm.  There were still 3 more flights from Phoenix to Tucson,  but yep, they were either sold out, or close to being sold out.  We decided not to risk being bumped from all 3 flights, so we waited in line (last picture) for the rental car shuttle bus, and rented our 2nd car from Avis.  We stopped for a quick bite to eat in Casa Grande, IN N OUT of course, and we were back home around 11pm. about an hour quicker than we would have been, if we had made it onto that last flight from Phoenix to Tucson.

Even though the return leg of our quick trip was a bit hectic, it was all worth it.  Getting my two boys together, and seeing Mike & Amy's beautiful new home for the first time, as they say, was priceless! 
 

One last footnote - I've resisted the temptation to upgrade to a smart phone, but after this trip, I might be having second thoughts.  Marc's Iphone allowed him to quickly check the flights for available seats, and with his preferred status at Avis rent a car, he reserved a car in Phoenix while we walked through the airport.  When we got to the Avis desk, we avoided the long line, going directly down to the car.  On the way home, the Interstate 10 traffic alert signs started flashing "Highway closed at Warner Rd, use alternate route".  Just as we hit the stopped traffic, Marc used the GPS feature on his phone, and we exited the freeway, taking city streets around the huge traffic jam.  Yep, I might just have to enter the 21st century, and get rid of my dumb phone!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A FATHER, SONS PROJECT

 Amy and Mike just before we all stuffed ourselves.

Just like the old man, Mike, along with Amy's help, cooked up a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, & pancakes yesterday morning.   We needed the fuel for a small concrete project that we tackled later in the day. 

 Laila found a temporary new pet near Uncle Mike's woodpile.

 My two sons, Mike and Marc.


In the desert, these plastic foundations under air conditioning units, only last a few years.  This one is still in good shape, but it was beginning to slant downhill, and it was only a matter of time before it started to deteriorate.  Marc and I came up with a way to raise the units off the ground without disconnecting anything, pour concrete underneath, then set it back down on the permanent foundation.   We did this under Marc and Chandra's two air conditioners last year.


With two jacks and some lumber, we carefully raised the A/C unit off the ground.  Once in the air, some digging underneath prepared the area for the wooden frame.  Mike became the designated concrete mixer, and after eight 80 pound bags, the new foundation was on the ground.  I did some finishing, and edging work, and except for removing the wood, the project was done in just a few hours.


We thought we might have to get another bag of concrete, but the 8 bags finished the job, with just a little bit left over.

 This woodpile is primarily from the downed trees we cut up a couple of days ago.

 A view of the back of Mike & Amy's beautiful new home on 2 acres.


Mike just had this 24' x 36' structure built to protect their boat.  He had it built big enough, so that another large vehicle, like a motor home or trailer will also fit underneath. 

Once the work was out of the way, we took it easy for the rest of the day, watching some racing on the tube, and enjoyed some BBQ'd steaks later in the afternoon.  The weather warmed to 70 degrees, so it was time to ditch the long pants, and get back into shorts.  Today is our last day here with Mike and Amy, and we've thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  Tomorrow, Marc has to figure out the best route for us to fly back to Tucson.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

FIRST DAY IN GEORGIA


I thought I had more pictures to post, but they mysteriously disappeared from the camera.  I suspect the SD card slipped partially out of it's slot, and the photos didn't get saved.  Mike, Marc, and I cleared some downed trees from the recent ice storm that did a lot of damage in this part of the country.  Fortunately, Mike & Amy's house escaped any damage, but others in the area were not so lucky.   We used the little tractor and trailer to move the cut wood over to the wood pile, and Laila was having fun riding in  the trailer.



I refer to Mike and Amy's beautiful German Shepherd as my "Granddog".  Tige (pronounced Tiga), has all of the protective qualities of a German Shepherd, but is mellow enough to allow Harley to eat out of the same bowl.   This is Amy's baby, but I told her to watch out, because I might just steal him if I thought I could get away with it. 


 Harley, just hanging out.

Sarah, is the other kitty.

Today, the boys and I are pouring a small concrete slab under the air conditioner condenser outside, to replace the current plastic base.  We did the same thing at Marc and Chandra's house, and as long as we can safely lift the unit, without damaging the copper line going to the house, it should go smoothly.  Notice I used that famous word "should".  Stay tuned.................. 
 

Friday, March 7, 2014

ACROSS THE COUNTRY

  We lucked out on the Phoenix to D.C. flight, sitting all together.

I picked up Marc, and Laila yesterday morning, for an early morning, 7am flight from Tucson to Phoenix.  Flying standby is always an iffy thing, but Marc had previously checked the passenger lists, and everything looked pretty good.  We got on a U.S. Air flight from Phoenix to Washington D.C., where we caught another U.S. Air flight down to Augusta, GA.

 Missing a few days of school, Laila did some homework on the long flight.


 Landing at the nations capitol.

Mike was waiting to pick us up at the Augusta airport, after darkness had already set in.  We went from a bright sunny sky in Tucson, to a cold, rainy evening in Augusta, but it was great to see Mike, despite the 35 degree temperature.   When we got  back to the house, big hugs were shared with Mikes wife Amy, where we scarfed down some pizza, and visited late into the evening. 
 
The Washington Monument from our aircraft, as it taxied into the terminal.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

FROM WARM TO COLD

The high temperature today in Tucson is supposed to be 80 degrees.  The forecast for Augusta, Georgia, is 41 degrees.   Marc and I will experience the difference, as we're flying back east this morning.  Our connecting flight goes through Washington D.C., where it's supposed to be even colder, with a predicted high temp of 35 degrees today.  I guess I shouldn't whine too much, but what the heck, I'm going to anyway!  The dreaded long pants, and the even more extreme jacket, will be part of the attire for the next few days.  Yep, we Arizonians are spoiled, no doubt about it.

We're both looking forward to a visit with Marc's brother Mike, and his wife Amy, before we return to the desert on Monday.  Mike's third deployment to Afghanistan begins next month, and he's scheduled to return sometime in August. 

Because Marc works for the largest regional airline (Skywest) in the country, we both fly free, but it's standby.  In other words, if the flight is full, we don't go.  The flights from here to Phoenix, Phoenix to D.C., and from D.C. to Augusta all look pretty good, so hopefully we'll get there sometime this evening. 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

MOVING MOTOR HOMES

It wasn't much after 7am, when the big move began.  As I mentioned previously, part of the training process for new drivers at La Mesa RV, is spending the first week or so with another driver.  I spent yesterday with Ken, learning how to inspect, and move motor homes out to the fairgrounds, the location of  La Mesa's RV show this weekend.  Two drivers were assigned to vans, the method of transporting drivers back to the dealership. 

Except for a couple of breaks, we kept up this round robin, starting first with the Class C motor homes, and finishing the day with the moving of several Class A gas motor homes.  I'm not sure how many rigs got moved, but it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of about 60.  We'll continue this process today, with the show starting tomorrow.  When La Mesa last did an event at the Pima County Fairgrounds, they sold 30 something rigs, so it seems as if the logistics of this big move of inventory is well worth their effort. 

Hey Nick and Terry.  While waiting for the van to take us back to the dealership, I saw you guys pull into the fairgrounds, but didn't have time to walk over and say hi.  Tell your idiot neighbor that the world doesn't revolve around just him! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BACK TO WORK

When I walked in the door at La Mesa RV's transportation office yesterday morning, I discovered that I wasn't the only newbie, starting his first day of work at this large RV dealership.   I was introduced to a fellow named Milford, who it just so happens, also worked as a transit bus driver at the Grand Canyon, during the same time period that I did.  We hadn't seen each other since early September of 2012, when after two summers of driving buses at the canyon, I said goodbye to the millions of annual visitors.  It is sometimes indeed a "small world". 

Milford and I spent most of the day with a couple of other drivers, who oriented us to various aspects of the job.  One of our mentors was a retired airline pilot who flew 747's, and the other was a retired Army Command Sergeant Major.   That is of course, after we filled out another stack of forms, each about 1/2 an inch thick.  I thought for a moment that I was buying another house!

The day passed quickly, and before I knew it, 4:30pm rolled around, time to punch out on the computer time clock for the second time.  Today, at 7am,  most of the 30 something drivers, including myself, will start moving RV's out to the Pima County Fairgrounds for a weekend RV show.  This process will be repeated in reverse when the show is over.  I think this part time job is going to fit pretty well, especially with the flexibility to still do some traveling in our own motor home.