RIP Hobie

In a world where 3,000 people are dying a day from Covid it might seem strange to be so deeply impacted by the loss of a pet, but as many of you know pets can often have more impact on our day to day lives than most people.  Yesterday the friends we are staying with lost Hobie, their dog of 14 years, and although he wasn’t my dog I find myself incredibly sad and missing him.  Over the last six years of travel we have spent more time with Cori and Greg than anyone else, and for most of those years when we didn’t have a pet, Hobie filled some of that void in my life.

For anyone who ever met him he had a larger than life personality and definitely was the boss in the Cori, Greg, Hobie relationship.  We affectionately called him “Thug Dog” because he ran the show like a gangster, and although there wasn’t a mean bone in his body he could let you know in no uncertain terms when he was displeased.  When I talked to Greg yesterday he mentioned that Hobie was the reason Jack came to us and that is absolutely true.  I wanted a dog just like Hobie, and although I knew that was unlikely I bought Jack (same breed and look) in the hopes he would have some of the same characteristics.

Watching Hobie take the young puppy under his wing was both fascinating and a little frightening.  Jack is a pretty good puppy, but when he got around Hobie his ornery side would definitely come out.  Hobie was amazingly tolerant of the new puppy antics and showed Jack some tricks of the trade like lifting his leg to pee, hiding toys, and reproachful looks when displeased.  When Hobie got sick a couple of months ago, we were worried that Jack would make him feel worse, but as dogs often do he was solicitous of his friend and seemed to be looking out for him.

It’s easy with animals to see what you want to see, but all I know is the night Hobie died Jack woke me up at 4am and when I took him outside his behavior was very unusual.  Believe what you want, but I think he knew something was wrong, and I know he is sad his buddy is gone.  We are all sad, because the loss of a beloved pet can often be worse than a person.  They provide unconditional love, are with you more hours than most people you know, and definitely provide something unique and special that nothing else can.

We loved you buddy, and we are grateful you were in our lives.  Jack is a living legacy of the impact you had on us, and you will be missed.

Here are some of my favorite Hobie memories.

Before we had Jack I would buy Hobie a toy every time we were going to see him.  When  I bought him stuffed toys he would destroy them immediately to get the squeaker out. It became a game and we would time him. This frog he destroyed in less than five minutes and he was so proud of himself.  The great hunter!

 

The first time Hobie met Max was very interesting. Max is also a Cavachon and was a beautifully coiffed, smart dog. Max could do some pretty cool tricks, which Hobie never deigned to do, and the attention Max was receiving was not to Hobies liking. As Max showed us all how he could catch a ball in mid air and we oohed and aahed, Hobie decided enough was enough. When it was his turn to catch the ball, he instead trotted right over and peed on it. #thugdog was born that day and continued through the rest of his life.

When Jack and Hobie first met there was definitely some tentativeness. It didn’t take long for Hobie to firmly establish that he was in charge, but he was nice about it and it helped settle Jack down a bit.

 

When Hobie visited he would gather the toys he wanted and they were his for the duration!

 

Last April we spent several weeks together in Utah and the puppies got tons of love and had a wonderful time.

 

Although they were both pink the entire time from the red sand.

 

We are all grateful that we got to spend time with Hobie and be with him until the very end.

 

Best buddies forever

 


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Getting Crafty

With all this extra time on my hands I decided to get serious about a craft I have wanted to do for years.  For a long time I have been looking for a US map shaped corkboard and several months back I ran across one for $9.99 at Hobby Lobby.  My goal was to print a picture from every state we had visited and then glue it on the board to make a 3D wall hanging.  This sounds easy, but was more complicated than I thought, as I realized when I first started selected pictures.  I spent hours combing through the pictures I had looking for ones I thought would work with the specific states.  Then I needed to print them out (correctly sized) and I used tracing paper and an X-acto knife to cut them into the right shape.

 

After many starts and stops I was starting to make progress, but soon realized that the smaller states would be a real challenge.  The bigger states out west were pretty easy but oddly shaped states like Virginia and Ohio were simply not going to be an exact fit.  I knew I could live with that, but was VERY concerned about filling in the gaps and ultimately I had to admit that no matter how careful I was my finished project was going to look like a kids 5th grade school project.

It’s hard to back away from a project after so many hours invested, but if the end result wasn’t going to be worth the hours I realized it was better to just stop.  Plus I had an idea.  We use Adobe Photoshop for our pictures, but I have always known we have barely scratched the surface of what it could do.  I thought perhaps there would be a way to accomplish my goal in Photoshop and asked Lee if he would mind looking into it for me.

This turned out to be more of a challenge than either of us thought but after two days and several hours worth of research he figured it out!  We purchased a template for $10 with all of the states and the larger map and cropped each state into an individual template.

The template we purchased

 

Here is the cropped version of Vermont

Once we had the “mask” of each state I could start putting my pictures in.  This sounds simple but requires multiple steps as you have to make the mask outside areas transparent and then pull in the picture and align it properly.  This leaves you with a picture like this.  (The checkerboard area is transparent).

Once you have the picture, you then pull it onto the larger state map and carefully align it onto the state.  Because you can make the section larger, it makes it a little easier and by scaling and rotating you fit it like a piece to a puzzle.  The only problem is that for some reason the state cut-outs are not an exact match of the states on the larger map.  I know that’s crazy but they just aren’t so I got as close as I could and then use  a cleanup tool in Adobe to fill in the gaps.

You pull it to the general area and then scale it down and rotate so it fits.

The good news is it is MUCH easier to fit two states together, and even better, if it doesn’t look right you can easily delete a picture and start all over.  Yes it is a bunch of work to start over, BUT you can change just one state.  What excites me about using Photoshop is as we travel and I get better pictures I can change them out and reprint versus with the original plan I would not have been able to do that easily.  Plus the steps get easier the more you do it and I was able to do several states in a few hours.

 

So far I am pretty happy with the results and once it is done I can either print it on canvas of print it as a poster.  I also like that it has Alaska and Hawaii, which the cork board map did not have.  This kind of project is something I would rarely have time to get up and running, but now that I have the basics I can add to it at any time.  Really grateful that Lee spent so much time helping me get started and feeling good about doing something positive with my furlough time.

Oh and one more thing.  If this is too technical for you, I also treated myself to a Nordic Heritage bundlette pan.  I have been watching The Great British Baking Show and was inspired to try some lower calorie baking. I decided smaller sizes would be helpful with that so invested $28 in this cool baking pan.

I have to say I am absolutely thrilled with the results.  I made lemon cake budlettes first and one box of cake mix makes twelve of these little beauties.  I dusted them with some powdered sugar and lemon zest and they were absolutely yummy.  Plus the smaller size makes it much easier to make the cakes calorie friendly.

They turned out perfect and were only 260 calories!

 

Then I made Pineapple cakes with a pineapple slice under the base and cherry juice sprinkled with a cherry in the middle!

Trying some lower calorie recipes next, but I have to say I am thrilled at the results.  Who knew a little pan could make baking so much prettier? And I definitely feel fancy with my stylish deserts. Once again just glad to be doing something fun with my extra downtime.  And it’s nice to have something pleasant to write about.  Stay safe everyone.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Jack Turns Two

Finally a post with some lighter news in it, as Jack turned two last week.  I am sorry to say the milestone passed without us recognizing it, but his vet sent a happy birthday E-card which reminded us.  He has made such a positive difference in our lives, far outweighing any inconvenience.  Here are a few Jack pictures to brighten your day!

Jack and Hobie being good boys!

 

Usually their relationship is more like this 🙂

 

Jack and Hurley.  Hurley is super patient with him.

 

Love this picture of them running through Goblin Valley.

 

Finn and Jack..best buddies.

 

Doggie Day Care with Peyton, Jack, Sammy, and Hobie.

 

Me, Oliver, and Jack. Oliver and Jack are both sticking their tongues out!

 

Jack’s first hike

 

Jack at the beach

 

 

Jack in Oregon

 

Jack staring down the cows

 

Jack’s first Christmas

 

Zoomies

 

Jack Gate Guarding

 

The day we picked him up.

 

We both had major concerns about getting a dog after five years without one, but I am so very happy to have him in our lives.  Hope these pictures made you smile and have you a little sunshine today!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Covid – Playing the Odds

I wish I had something else to write about, but it seems that all aspects of my life right now are colored by the virus.  I know I am not alone in this, but since I write about what’s on my mind and I am not sleeping well I thought I would spend some time sharing my thoughts.  Almost every day I wake up and spend some time in the morning looking at the data.  People get their news from a variety of sources but looking at the numbers grounds me.

Despite assurances by multiple sources that we have turned a corner the data still scares me.  The most credible source I use is Johns Hopkins. It is not the friendliest view for sure but I trust the data and they have added some new pages including critical trends.  I don’t spend much time comparing us to other countries, mainly because I don’t trust their reporting, but I do look at areas of the country where I have friends and family and see how things are going there.  I can also see the mortality rate, which is a key statistic for me, because at the end of the day what matters the most is how many people die. Currently we are at 8.66 deaths per 100,000 people which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t look that bad.

But then I dig a little deeper.  I look at a dashboard that a person in Seattle has run since the beginning and look at the overview. 2M confirmed cases worldwide, 135K confirmed deaths, and 28,554 deaths in the US alone.  I like trends though so I check out the NBC graphs that show the number of US cases per day.    Yesterday we had 30,000 cases, which is down from the high of 35,000 cases but when you look at their curve it looks like this.  Definitely not flat.

That’s the big question really.  Have we flattened the curve?  I watch the briefings almost every night and he and the experts talk about we have flattened the curve.  They used projections from this website and again I have no reason to not find it credible.  But the pictures don’t match.

 

According to this site the peak is over and as a nation we are starting in the downward trend.  That supposes stay in place measures are happening, but so far it seems pretty accurate.  When the president talks about each state’s reaction and the differences he is using this data.  For example Texas, with its rural areas and dispersed populations is doing pretty well so far, but it’s peak isn’t estimated to be for another  14  days.

 

 

 


Even though it isn’t for another 14 days the projected death toll per day is relatively low.  At peak it is 71 deaths per day, which in a state as large as Texas is objectively not that high.  As conversations ramp up around getting the country back to work, believe me I understand the need for folks to get back to normalcy.  We are spending trillions of dollars to keep some money flowing to people, but even with those additional funds, individual people will start getting desperate soon, if they aren’t already there.  The question then becomes do we accept the deaths (and perhaps more) by lifting the stay at home measures or do we hope we have passed the peak in enough areas and roll the dice.

As a person who likes to work and was raised to be a productive member of society I want everyone back to work as quickly as possible.  That’s not about my individual 401K portfolio, or my loss of income from partial furlough, but about understanding that the long term impacts of being out of work for some people could last for years.  Unfortunately those desires are at war with the reality of what I am seeing on the ground.

I personally know many people in our healthcare communities, and when I reach out to them they are still telling me that they don’t have access to basic protective equipment.  For example a daughter of a friend works in trauma at a hospital and is forced to wear the same gown and face protection all day.  Before Corona they changed gowns between every patient , but there still aren’t enough supplies for them to do that.  I know a doctor who was exposed (through no fault of their own the patient lied about having symptoms) and doesn’t have access to a test.  In many parts of the country if you are asymptomatic you simply cannot get a test unless you have had a fever for two days.

In addition to the healthcare situation, we still continue to see hot spots bubble up.  In the last few days we have seen that they are putting bodies in refrigerated trucks in Detroit and they closed down a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, SD because of 300 cases.  Those are just the examples that made the news. With examples like those it doesn’t seem like the danger has passed, although I can allow for the possibility that they are isolated cases.

Except personally I really don’t believe that.  We are a country that takes our personal freedoms very seriously, and I can’t believe that if we lift restrictions folks are just going to stay in one area and keep to themselves.  Airline travel will start up again, and even if we don’t allow folks from the outside into the US we have plenty of opportunities to cross contaminate ourselves.  I personally have numerous business trips that have been delayed due to corona and have to believe as soon as the bans are lifted I will be back to flying.

Then there is Lee.  He has a summer job he is really looking forward to at Crazy Horse Memorial  in South Dakota.  At first glance this seems like a great place to be, but they are expecting record crowds this summer despite delaying their opening until Memorial Day.  Since few people will vacation internationally, they will likely vacation in the US and just like after 9-11 our National Parks and Memorials will probably see record crowds.  Since Lee is doing lighting at the show this might not be a bad thing, but in order to get his 40 hours he will also spend some time each day taking tickets.  The memorial gets one million visitors per year (most in the summer) which means Lee will be coming into contact with thousands(?) of people each day.

These folks will be from all over the country and I have to believe some of them will be carrying the virus.  No matter what protections are provided, and they will probably be minimal, chances are he could contract it.  But even if he did only 8 out of 100K die, so those are pretty decent odds right?  Maybe, but at least in our case we have a choice.  For now at least I have a job that pays our bills so he doesn’t have to work this summer.  Or he could try and find a less risky job somewhere else.  We are lucky in that respect at least for now, but I am fully aware that this is not the case for many Americans.

As much as we are about choice and individual freedoms, there is precious little of that when you have bills to pay and kids to feed.  Despite any reservations many people might have they will be driven back to work by necessity. The immediate concerns of making rent and putting food on the table will fully outweigh the outside possibility of getting sick.  Those of us who have jobs where we can work from home will continue to do so for awhile, but eventually the pressures of the need for business travel will outweigh our concerns as well. We will travel, we will expose ourselves and others, and perhaps will we see more hot spots bubble up over the summer.

The problem is we simply don’t know and we don’t live in a perfect world were we can reasonably say with certainty what will happen.  Personally I would feel a lot better if the antibody test was widespread, but even when it is what will that solve?  Will people who have never had the virus expose themselves under controlled conditions, like we did with the chicken pox?  Would businesses understand that there is one set of rules for those with the antibodies and those without?  Doubtful.

There will be risk in the upcoming months regardless of what we do.  Best case scenario you have the disease and didn’t even know it and are carrying the antibodies right now. For us, since we have some choice, we need to talk about what we want to do.  How much risk do we want to accept? When will I be willing to get a haircut, walk into a crowded store, or get on an airplane?  To some extent life will make those choices for me.  The pressure to normalize will be very great, and it will be harder and harder to push back against those forces.  We are already seeing that and when they start opening things back up it will be much worse.

As always, we will let you know.


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We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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March 2020 Budget

Sorry this took me so long to get out, lots going on.  I would say this month could in no way be considered normal but wanted to share what we saw anyways.  COVID is changing the way we all live and since it is part of the story I decided to go ahead and report it.  Just don’t use this as any indicator of what normal (if there is such a thing in this lifestyle) looks like.

 

 

Alcohol – As a perfect example of an unusual charge when this all started going down we stocked up on alcohol.  We aren’t big drinkers but the thought of liquor stores closing (which never happened) had us running to the liquor store.  Turns out Texas had the biggest liquor sales of any state.  We were obviously part of that 🙂

Campground Fees – We are staying with friends but helping with the electric so those costs will be in this section.

E-Cigarettes – Again over concerns about not getting supply I bought tons of these.

Dining Out – Even though restaurants all closed we were still able to blow our budget in these categories.  Most of these purchases happened earlier in the month and we have gotten carry out a few times.  Our personal rule is only carryout on items that we can microwave before eating and we are doing very little of that at this point.

Entertainment – Early on we purchased several board games in anticipation of needing something to do.  We also ordered a few books online after the Half Price Book store was closed down and consequently needed to pay full price.

Gifts – Some of this was purchases for our hosts and other gifts were for our grandson.  I am missing him terribly and little gifts really help make me feel better.  The largest chunk was when Lee bought wire shelves for Kyrston.  He was going to help her build shelves when we went to visit her, but since that trip got cancelled he purchased her something that she could put together herself.

Groceries – I was wondering how much this category would be and $1,140 does not surprise me.  We had no idea how much food would be available and had access to freezers and a larger refrigerator so we stocked up on everything we could.  I would not do this any differently if I had to do it again, but I am now wondering if I should donate some of this stuff since the food banks are struggling so much.

Healthcare (Out of pocket) –  I had a difficult time setting up my HSA account because they would not recognize my mailing address as a real address.  There was a significant delay but eventually I got it sorted out and am now putting away $300 a paycheck.   These were the last of the bills that had to be paid out of pocket.

Home Equipment and Repair – At the very beginning of the month we went to the container store and bought some items to go with our newly remodeled rooms.  Plus there were some trailing costs on the carpet replacement.

Pets – We were planning to stay at a military campground and Jack had to get a completely updated shot record.  Along with that we purchase two packages of flea chewables which are not cheap.

Truck Fuel – Check out how low our fuel costs are.  Combination of not going anywhere and the lowest fuel prices in years.

 

April should actually be more interesting  because we will be in full on lockdown for most of it.  Stay safe everyone.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

First Time on Furlough

We are living in extraordinary times.  My company, as with many companies, are trying their best to keep people employed during the crisis.  In my case, as a salaried employee, we were put on a ten day unpaid furlough over the next 6 weeks.  Our choices were to take the time off in 5 day increments or to work 3 out of five days per week.  Based on my workload and personal preference I chose to take Tuesday and Fridays off and today is my first day.  Honestly I feel really lucky that we are able to continue to work as I can live on 3/5ths pay indefinitely.  That is a major advantage of our lifestyle, debt free position, and ability to live on less.  For my coworkers with mortgages and children it is much harder, but everyone is trying to make it work.  This decision has allowed our company to avoid laying people off at least for the time being.

Speaking of my coworkers, every one of them who is a working parent deserves a medal.  Not only are they working very long hours, they are also home schooling and taking care of their children.  I love my kids but I am incredibly grateful that they are grown and out of the house, because this would be so much harder with them in it.  Even with just the two of us, it is still difficult.  We live in a small space and we used to give each other breaks by going to the store, running errands etc.  That’s a rare occurrence now and I feel particularly bad for Lee because he is listening to me talk all day about things he doesn’t really care about.

That’s because we are very busy.  Even before shoving five days worth of work into three days, there was lots to do and now we are doing the best we can to get it all done.  Things will be left on the table though.  It’s unavoidable, and for all of us Type A’s that can be particularly difficult.  But the company clearly stated no work phone or computer on our days off so I am left with some time to fill.  I want to make sure I don’t spend it focusing on the unpleasantness around me and instead I am trying to find positive things to do.

I recently discovered Tik Tok, which I think is super fun, and even made a couple of Jack videos which you can see @jacktheflyingpupperking.  I wish I was living in a Tik Tok world where folks are dancing and singing and trying to make the best of things.  Obviously those folks are only showing you a small slice of their lives, but I want more moments like that and less moments of worry and fear. I also purchased (before the crazy) a corkboard map of the US.  My idea is to take my favorite picture from each state and print and cut them out to make a collage.  This project is harder than it sounds (just picking my favorite picture is rough), but I am going to try and tackle it.

Other than that we are trying to stay safe and practice social distancing.  This is actually harder than it sounds because we are in Texas and despite everything that isn’t really a thing here.  More times than I can count, when we are receiving packages, I have had to back away from delivery people and ask them to set the box down.  They almost always give me an odd look as if my behavior is abnormal.  That’s pretty concerning to all of us and we actually stopped doing pickup at one local grocery store because they weren’t practicing social distancing.  As with everyone it’s been a crazy ride and we are just waiting for it to be over.  What the fallout will be long term, it is hard to say, but personally I don’t think things will just go back to normal.  If nothing else being isolated with people says a ton about those relationships and they will either be much stronger or weakened when all of this is done.

In the meantime I continue to try and be as kind as I can be to everyone I come into contact with, but that gets somewhat harder as the days go by.  I am just thankful that so far my family is safe and I am employed, which puts me in a really blessed position as compared to so many people.  Take care of yourselves and the people in your lives as best you can.

Trace

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Thoughts Regarding Covid – 19

As events unfold very quickly I have been hesitant to write a post, mainly because I am fully aware that this post might be outdated before the proverbial ink is dry. But I have always written when things have been difficult and obviously for most of us that is the case.  Even if you are not directly affected by the pandemic, it is hard not to have anxiety.  And I would guess at this point hardly any of us are not indirectly affected.  We all have people in our lives that we worry about and those people may be at greater risk than we are.  Personally many of my family members are in the medical field.  As proud as I am of what they are doing, I am of course concerned because they have greater exposure to the virus.  Essentially we don’t live our lives in a vacuum and even if we are safe and healthy those outside forces can cause pressure.

Just like with our Instant Pots that pressure has to go somewhere and it is interesting how different people are when they are letting it go.  Some spend hours on the internet dissecting every scrap of information and others bury their head in the sand and pretend its not really happening.  Those are the two ends of the spectrum of course and most people fall somewhere in between.  Even day to day I find myself careening between those two extremes and it has been hard to find a balance.  I want and need information, but it is disappointing how difficult it has been to find credible information.  That gets a little easier every day, but even sources I trusted in the past I am not so sure about in today’s world.  I find myself missing the news casters of my childhood.  Where is  today’s Peter Jennings?  I vividly remember after 9-11 him having a kids show with a giant map on the floor explaining where Iraq was and telling us why we would be safe.  He was calm, impartial, and factually accurate.  I yearn for those days.

At this point my personal most trusted source of data is the John Hopkins site.  This map shows the current number of case and is the source being cited by many other news organizations.  Because they are an independent medical facility of the highest caliber I trust them for information and medical advice.  They are a little dry and there isn’t the sensationalism you see in other places, but that allows me to draw my own conclusions based on facts.  I know its tempting to allow others to hand you the conclusions, but I believe in this ever changing environment that is dangerous.  For me at least facts calm me and sensational journalism does not.  Please don’t read anything political into that statement by the way.  There is plenty of sensationalism on both sides of the aisle and when real lives are on the line that is the last thing we need.

So what are the facts telling me?  Despite efforts to flatten the curve internationally that is not happening.  Perhaps it was inevitable no matter what we did and the best we can hope for is to flatten the curve in specific areas.  There are hot spots in places like northern Italy and New York City where the death toll will be very high.  Personally I am grateful we are in a remote area as it makes social distancing easier.  All social distancing does though is slow things down.  Eventually a large percent of the population (and we don’t know how many yet) will get the virus.  The good news is 80% of those people can be treated from home.  Of the the other 20% only 2-4% will be critical.  Don’t get me wrong that is a ton of people, but statistically the odds are pretty good.

The problem with those stats is that it doesn’t account for people who are impacted by corollary problems.   For example a person needs dialysis treatment, but cannot get that treatment because hospitals are filled with other patients.  Someone has a heart attack and ambulance aren’t available because they are treating other patients.  Those types of scenarios are actually scarier to me because they happen everyday and rely on our medical system at full capacity to get the best treatment.  That’s why the folks in the medical field are so agitated.  They are looking at projections and understand they can’t give the best care if they are overwhelmed and don’t have the people and equipment necessary to meet the need.

Which takes me to leadership.  In many aspects of my life I have found leadership (and I am not just talking political here) lacking the last two weeks.  I am however starting to see various leaders sharing their plans with us.  Work was happening behind the scenes but not surprisingly communication of those efforts lagged behind.  I see this all the time in my life and it is unfortunate because in the absence of solid information people just make things up.  I am particularly impressed by how local leaders are starting to get on television and talk to people. It is obvious that most people truly care about what is happening and want to do their best but many of them are woefully under skilled in handling something of this magnitude.

In all fairness not many of us have the skill set to easily deal with a disaster of this magnitude.  We live in an instant world.  Instant results, instant gratification, and instant information.  Even those of us who remember a time where that wasn’t so, anyone else remember going to the library to look up a fact, we have gotten used to getting what we want instantly.  And not being able to do that is not surprisingly manifesting in some unusual ways.

Thankfully we had planned ahead and gotten a months worth of basic supplies in advance, but yesterday I ran our of conditioner.  It was a stupid little thing and something I had just overlooked in the stock up runs, but for me it was a big deal.  In order to avoid going out I looked online but saw they were charging $15 on Amazon for a $4 bottle of conditioner.  That enraged me, so I jumped in our truck and went to Dollar General where I found it for $4.  The problem was while I was at Dollar General I was exposed.  There is no way to go into any store without running the risk of being contaminated and my competing desires of not getting financially fleeced, not wanting to expose myself, and wanting my conditioner right damn now were raging in my head.

It’s hard under those circumstances to not snap at people, or blame others, but that is one thing I am trying very hard not to do.  Those poor people at Dollar General are bearing the brunt of this and it shows on their faces.  The last thing they need is me taking out my anxiety on them.  To the contrary in my mind those front line people are the quiet heroes in this scenario.  Every day they go to work in grocery stores and gas stations and put themselves at risk.  They are also doing it for far less money than I am making working remotely from home.

These are complicated times and people’s true characters come out under stress.  I want to be a person who lifts people up instead of placing blame.  I want to be a person who is selfless rather than selfish.  But it is hard. Because it is scary.  Everyday I see the death count grow and although I intellectually understand that people die every day this is different.  Not just because of the risks to us individually, but because of the risks to us as a species.  Will we survive this, of course.  Will we remain unchanged I hope not.

Personally I believe our larger society was in need of a wake up call.  It is a harsh lesson to be sure, but when history looks back I believe this will be a pivotal moment in our cultural development.  One day we woke up and the world had changed and it happened very fast.  How will we respond to those changes?  What will be the long lasting impacts especially for the next generations?  Will this further tear us apart of bring us together?  As an optimist, I am hopeful that long term those changes will be a good thing, but the cost is so very high.

As of this moment 19,725 people have died from Covid-19.  Those are the ones we know about.  Many of them would have died soon anyway from other causes, but what is one day worth to a person?  One week, one month?  They aren’t anyone I know personally, but they could be.  The longer this goes on they probably will be.  I can’t stop it from happening, but I will do what I can to slow it down.  I will stay in place, be selfless instead of selfish as best I can, and be ready to help pick up the pieces when this is all over.

 


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  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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First Time Replacing Bedroom Carpet

The third thing that Lee did in the renovation was replace the bedroom carpet.  Originally I had said we could skip it because it saw little use, but Lee wanted to do it all.  That’s how he does things, throws his whole heart into them, and since the remnant piece was just big enough I thought why not.

The only downside was Lee had to take the bed apart and he wasn’t sure he could get it done in one day.  That meant we would have to sleep on an air mattress and originally Lee thought he would wait until I was out of town to get it done.  I was scheduled to leave for work for a training class, but that was cancelled due to Covid-19 (more on that in an upcoming post.  So Lee committed to getting it all done in one day and once again I largely stayed out of his way.  I’ve gotten pretty good at that!

(First step was to remove everything from the room, it’s very tight in there and not really enough room to maneuver carpet around if there’s ANYTHING else in there. While I was emptying out the rear under-bed storage, I noticed that for some reason they didn’t fully carpet underneath it in the slide box, which was weird. But there was also a 12v power line for the slide box lights that I had to cut in order to remove the bed box. – Lee) 

 

 

(I also got to see for the first time what held the bed box to the slide. The top 1/3rd of the bed sits inside the slide box, and the rest sits in the room. So when the slide goes in or out, the bottom 2/ – Lee) 3rds of the bed just sort of gets dragged with it. That told me that the bed was attached only to the slide, and that the other part was likely on rollers, but I wasn’t sure where or how the bed box was attached to the slide. It turned out to just be a couple of screws on each side and across the back. – Lee)

 

(The next issue was the lid to the larger under-bed storage. That has 2 70lb gas lifts on it so that it can be lifted easily with the mattress on it, but that also meant that as soon as the mattress was off it was spring up and be almost impossible to close again. So with the mattress on and just pushed a little to the side, I screwed down the lid. – Lee)

 

 

 

 

First Lee and I moved the mattress out

 

Thankfully it fit in our kitchen although refrigerator access was tricky!

 

Then he pulled up the base and thankfully Bill was able to help him move that. I think I would have had trouble.

 

They moved the table

And then brought it in

 

 

 

Once the room was empty he was able to pull up all of the old carpet.

 

 

 

Nest Lee removed the carpet.  Getting it off the slide was tough.

It helps to have a completely empty space because padding is bulky and hard to maneuver.

He put down the new padding

 

And the padding

 

And the new carpet

It was hot in the small space and Lee had the AC cranked

 

Once again the air gun and compressor came in handy

 

Lee decided he wanted to carpet the hallway

 

Which was challenging

 

The remnant piece wasn’t quite wide enough so a tiny bit of patching was called for.

 

The slide was also pretty tough

One of the problems was that in some places the new thicker pile carpet made things too tight where the original wood had been cut and fitted for a thinner carpet to wrap around, in particular the false front edge of the closet slide. It hangs down to conceal the wires and hoses for the washer and dryer, and when the slide is put out, it also acts as a “sweep”, keeping the wires and hoses in line. With the new carpet the piece hing down too low so had to be removed and trimmed so it wouldn’t bind the slide. That took hours to correct.

 

 

Looked great when done though

 

One last thing Lee took this opportunity to fix the mirrored slide.  He needed to raise it so worked on that as well.  We discovered that they no longer make the mirrored version but they do have a wooden version with the same specs and we may replace the entire thing in the future because it has not held up well.

Next up living room slide and other odds and ends!

 


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We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Dealing with Covid-19

I am going to take a moment and let you know our status as it relates to the pandemic.  First and foremost, we are safe, and currently with friends. I feel extremely blessed that we have a safe place to stay with access to power, water etc.  That is not the case for everyone who lives their life on the road so I wanted to walk through what the last week has looked like for us.

  1. Our first decision was to stay in place.  This was difficult for us because we had a planned route and reservations for 6 weeks of travel to see our family in Charleston, SC, Washington DC, Columbus, OH, and Minneapolis, as well as an RV Dreams rally in TN. It was very hard for us to not barrel ahead, but ultimately we decided to stay because we weren’t sure we wouldn’t get stuck somewhere, or have some other travel related problem.  As containment zones might spring up we realized we could get stuck en route in a strange place and worse as campgrounds close we could find ourselves with no place to stay.  Thankfully our family understood and more than agreed with our decision.  My daughter who lives in DC in particular had concerns about us visiting and since one of our campgrounds was a military one inside a base chances were high that the base would be locked down prior to our arrival, leaving us nowhere to stay, in an area not really packed with campgrounds or RV parks.
  2. Making sure we had supplies.  RV’s don’t have a ton of storage space and I was concerned about having enough food for a self quarantine period.  Thankfully where we are there is space, and between us we coordinated to make sure we had the basics covered.  Two of our friends were out of town temporarily with family and we also reached out to them to see what they needed.  Ultimately we made sure we had enough supplies for six people for a month and we managed to do that without going crazy and overbuying.  We spread our purchases out between a variety of stores and personally I was careful to not take the last of anything.  The sole exception to that was a bag of rice I bought, but since I only bought one I felt OK about that.  We had the supplies in place early in the week so didn’t have trouble finding anything.  I also stayed away from the major grocery stores and went to places like Dollar General and smaller stores.  They ended up having everything I needed and the prices were reasonable.
  3. Having a medical planBased on a variety of factors, my assumption is that eventually all of us here will get sick.  Thankfully we are all reasonably healthy and are able to take care of each other.  We made sure we refilled our prescriptions and have plenty of aspirin, flu, and cough medicine available.  Since you can’t cure it but only treat the symptoms that is what we focused on.  We also made sure everyone had sanitizer and wipes in their vehicles and started wiping things down when we went out in the world.  We all tried to limit those trips, but things had to be done so we were just as safe as we could be.  Going under my original premise that this will just delay the inevitable, it is still a good practice.  We have talked quite a bit about the importance of flattening the curve.  That concept is our healthcare systems can handle this if everyone doesn’t get sick at once.  Hopefully if we do get sick we will be able to treat it without needing to go into a medical facility.  Those resources should be saved for the most needy.
  4. What happens if services are interrupted?  We did talk about what to do if we lost power.  Thankfully we all have solar on our RV’s and are completely self contained.  You can decide how far down this path you want to go, but in my case I considered it a good mental exercise.  Being in an RV has both pros and cons in a situation like this.  Yes, you can move from place to place but you also need fuel to get there, and a place to stay.    One of the biggest advantages in my opinion is being able to get away from large concentrations of people.  Thankfully we have a place we can stay and as I mentioned I feel very grateful to be here. I am also very grateful that I have a job I can work remotely and it is in a largely recession-proof industry.  If we were gate guarding this would be a completely different situation.

We are safe, we are with friends, and we have supplies.  That doesn’t change the fact that we have family and friends spread all across the country and of course we are very concerned about them.  Many of my family members are in the medical field and are on the front lines of this.  My son-in-law is self-quarantined, and two of my daughters work in the restaurant industry, and probably will not see a paycheck for awhile.  My youngest is in the military in DC and may find herself in a lock down situation.  It is hard to be away from people you love during times like this, but the best thing everyone can do is stay calm, be safe and not make things worse.

Take care everyone, and know that this, too, shall pass.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Fireplace Surround and Reclaimed Storage Under the Stairs

Although the living room carpet itself wasn’t so bad, Lee has also spent a ton of time on the smaller areas.  This project has expanded to include lots of extras, which is great from a refresh perspective but is definitely taking more time than either of us thought.  On the plus side, I am finally getting lots of little improvements that I have wanted from the beginning and my absolute favorite is the tile on the fireplace.  The original “tile” was pretty bland and we have talked about replacing it for years.  Lee has never done tile though and it seemed like a frivolous project all by itself until we were in full project mode. (The “tile is actually a piece of MDF board with a coat of white paint on it, and then little squares of gray linoleum were glued on. After a year or so the adhesive started to show through, as you can see in the image below. Ugly as hell. – Lee)

Original look is pretty bland

The first thing we did was go to Home Depot and take a look at what they had.  We spent well over an hour looking at all the tile samples and it was really hard to pick.  Thankfully I had brought a piece of the new carpet with me and it was a little easier to narrow down.  Finally I selected Treasure Trail and at less than $5 per 12″ x 12″ sheet we brought several home.  Lee also purchased a big sponge, and some adhesive Simple Mat and premixed grout at the recommendation of Cori and Bill who had both previously put new tile in their RV’s.

First Lee used the simple mat to cover the old material and give the new material something to stick to.

 

The back of the tile has this sticky stuff and it went on easily. It also stuck well although he had to be careful about keeping his lines straight. Since it was in small squares he could easily cut it into smaller pieces. That was important because he didn’t want to get into trying to cut larger pieces of tile

 

Once all the tile was on he taped the area to protect the wood and fireplace from grout.

 

Laid down a towel to protect the new carpet

Then he did the grouting, and I will say he absolutely hated it.  A direct quote, was “I am never tiling again”!  Thankfully it was a relatively small space and it didn’t take that long.  Basically he put the grout on then wiped the top of tiles with a damp sponge.  Then it sits overnight and the next morning you buff it to get the shine.  I loved the finished product!

(Hands down this was the most bang for our buck from an improvement standpoint. It only took an hour or so to do, and only cost around $50. – Lee)

Finally Lee worked on the stairs.  It has been driving him crazy for years that he could not recapture the space and finally today was the day.  I was happy he was going to get to work on it, and largely tried to stay out of his way because this was another tough one.

(Before we start talking about this I want to point out that this part includes some working with electrical lines, both 120v AC and 12v DC. I have been working with electricity my entire life, and while I am not licensed, I have an excellent grasp of the fundamentals, and more importantly, I understand the risks and I know the limits of my knowledge and I NEVER exceed them. Electricity can be incredibly dangerous, and more so in an RV because of the mix of AC and DC, and the movement and vibrations. Any time I do ANY electrical work I keep in mind that everything will be moving and vibrating, and I take extra care to securely tack everything down and check for points where things might rub and wear through. RVs are a fire waiting to happen, and most of them will burn to the ground in less than 15 minutes. They are also generally poorly built, EVEN THE EXPENSIVE ONES, and I over-engineer ever chance I get, because who wants to die in a fire??? Anyway, if you are not 100% comfortable with electricity, just don’t do mess with it. Have a professional do it. – Lee)

This is what it looked like before we ever started, before the kitchen carpet was even put in!

 

First he removed the existing carpet

Again he had some helping paws

Then he organized and cleaned the inside. The wires were just thrown in there

(As you can see, because it’s an area not normally seen by owners, they didn’t even clean up after themselves during the manufacturing process, they just left cut up pieces of wood and other detritus. That really bothers me. In the picture below you can see that where the 120v and 12v wires go through the void, they take the shortest possible route, diagonally THROUGH the stair riser frame, instead of straight across between the two holes at each end. Some of the wiring is in the front, and some is in the back, and in order for me to use the space at all first I had to clean it all up and then reroute some of the wiring.  – Lee)

(Here’s what it looked like after I took a minute to vacuum it out so I could see what I was dealing with. One of the problem areas was the 3 12v DC lines going out of the picture in the lower right corner. Another was the lack of suitable framing for the upper riser. – Lee)

 

(Another problem was the wiring going into the cabinetry on the right. You can see where it crosses over a sort of wooden threshold, which keeps the wire up pretty high and makes it hard to use the space. I had to cut that wood down so the wiring could be as flat and close to the floor as possible. In the picture below note that there are two holes for the wiring going into the floor. I cut through the small connecting piece to allow me to cluster the wiring together and keep it lower. – Lee)

 

 

 

(These are the wires the I need to reroute because the went THROUGH the stair riser frame, which involved removing the frame, because while I could remove the AC wire from the power center, the DC wire area of the power center was just too tight and crowded and I didn’t want to end up spending hours dealing with it, plus I was able to rebuild the riser and make it a little more stable and secure when I put it back together. It was assembled with just a few long staples, and I used 2 1/2″ coated deck screws, which really tightened it down and stopped it from squeaking. – Lee)

 

(In order to reroute the wires and make the area safe to use I had to pull out the power center, which is just above the stairs, to disconnect a 120v circuit.  Luckily there were was’t THAT much to do, but it still took a while. A few of the 12v wires were actually left over from when we did our solar install. They were well capped and taped from when we disconnected them, so I just  coiled up the excess, zip tied it securely and tucked it into the roomy void of the cabinet that holds the power center. – Lee)

Moving the wires took quite awhile as he had to be careful

(Here you can see where I cut out the wood to allow the wires to lay flat. – Lee)

 

 

 

(Still a mess with the riser removed, but at least now I can get things arranged to allow for use of the space. – Lee)

 

Removing the riser frame.

(This is the rear, taller riser void, cleaned up and ready for a new “floor”, with the wires separated, flattened out and secured. – Lee)

 

(With the riser back in place, I was able to secure the two wires in the front up and out of the way of what would be stored inside. – Lee)

 

 

(I used the old treads as a template to make new treads, slightly smaller to allow for carpet to wrap around them, and in pieces to allow for lids that would clear the odd curved shape. Also note on the right side I had to use small pieces to slide the doors left enough to clear the protruding power center. A lot of engineering, but I love reclaiming space! – Lee)

 

And he cut pieces of oak to replace the existing stairs. ( he is hanging onto the old stairs just in case.  As you can see he made cuts so part of it could be lifted.

 

(Piano hinge on the lower tread to allow the tread to be lifted. You can fit a LOT of canned food (over 30 cans!!!)  into that space. – Lee)

 

(In order to clear the wiring in the back, and protect it, I used 2×2 stock to make a new slightly higher floor in the rear. It’s twice as tall as the front tread compartment, so I didn’t mind losing 2 1/4″. I also cut and notched some 1/4″ plywood so I got to keep as much of the floor space as possible. – Lee)

 

You can see in the upper right corner the framing I added to support the lid and the lower framing for the false floor.

 

 

Even the farthest and hardest to reach space got a higher floor.

 

 

 

(Below you can see the door/lid on the second tread. It’s pretty small because once you reach the curve in the wall a lid won’t open. The entire area is accessible , it’s just a relatively small hatch. That area will get things we rarely need. It also looks crooked, but it’s not, the wall curve starts very gently and then tightens up. – Lee)

 

 

Next he carpeted!

(Carpeting the stairs was really hard and took forever. I wanted the fit to be as tight as possible between the framing and the lids, so I had to test it and check it with each staple, and cut away excess 1/4″ at a time. Corners also had to be wrapped and trimmed and carpet at that scale is really stiff and hard to work with. Overall I was pretty happy with how it turned out. In my mind there was no discernible line where the lids meet the frames, but in reality that just isn’t possible. Over time I think it will blend a little better, but for now I can live with it, because, HUGE storage reclaimed, and that’s the name of the game. – Lee)

 

And finally the finished product.  The carpet shows some lines but well worth it to us to recapture all that space.

And finally, carpet on the inside and then filling the newly gained space with stuff!!!

These two items both took quite a bit of time, but again well worth the effort. There are still a few odds and ends and the living room desk slide, but those will be in the post after next. Next up, the bedroom carpet gets replaced!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.