A Week With My Dad

It’s pretty unusual for Lee and I to be apart overnight in this lifestyle. As a matter of fact I would say this has only happened a handful of times in the last seven years and in almost all cases they were for work. This time Lee had a work trip to Florida and I decided to spend that time with my Dad. He has been living alone for the last few years and he has a yard large enough for me to put the RV in so Jack and I decided to hang out with him. He and Jack are buddies, so I knew that would be fun for them as well. In no time at all Jack was running the place and he desperately misses that leash free environment as we have moved on as of this writing. Still it felt slightly uncomfortable being in a sticks and bricks house for so long and I “visited” the RV at least twice a day. It truly is my home.

Both Dad and I are working so we stayed home quite a bit, but we did get out a few times. My brother and his family are still in the area as well so they came over one night and we went over for lunch another day. I even got to eat lunch with my brother on my birthday at my favorite Chinese place, Ding Ho’s. They have absolutely the best Won Ton soup in any place I have ever been and I have been to lots of places.

Hanging out with Lex was lots of fun and he is old enough now to remember me from last time. I went out and pushed him on the swing for awhile and we talked about first grade. He has this really cool Skycurve platform swing that I loved and definitely am going to get one for my grandsons when the timing is right.

Dad and I also went out together a few times. We went to Tony’s Coneys a really old ice cream and hot dog place. The hot dog and ice cream were fantastic! And we went to dinner with my Aunt, Uncle, and his cousin and her brother. My family (like many) are split on vaccines and mask wearing so my general rule of thumb was to not hug anyone who wasn’t vaccinated. Yes I know it is their choice, but they are also in their late 70’s and frankly I don’t want that on my conscience. Thankfully my 90 year old grandfather is vaccinated so I felt comfortable seeing him and giving him a hug.

I didn’t get pictures of everyone I visited but I did get pictures of my good friend Ted. He was the best man at our wedding and I was able to see him for lunch one day and what a wonderful visit that was. We went to El Vaquero, my second favorite Mexican restaurant, and I had my absolute favorite desert sopapillas. If you are seeing a trend of friends/family and food there was a lot of that and I did my best to at least maintain my weight this week. I tried to stick to lunches as much as possible and that helped.

Dad lives out on a farm and all week was a little bit like wild kingdom. The first morning I was there I saw a beautiful coyote and from that point on had to watch Jack closely. I also saw a deer and another morning a giant blue heron landed in his back yard. Dad says he has gotten them occasionally, but I have never seen one in Ohio before.

One of the best parts of the week was when Cori and Greg stopped by on the way to Pennsylvania. They stayed overnight in the front yard and finally got to meet my Dad. Trip and Jack hadn’t seen each other since Trip was really small but they got along great. It was constant running around and you could barely tell the two of them apart. It was a lovely visit made more so when Cori gave me a cake for my 55th birthday and they sang happy birthday to me. It was so sweet and so nice to be with RV friends on my birthday!! Love those guys! They were sad to miss Lee but we carved out a couple of days to see them in Pennsylvania so he wont miss out all together.

I had a terrific visit and Lee had a great work trip as well. Most live events have been cancelled due to COVID so it was great to see they were starting up again. He looks pretty serious in the picture below but he had a great time and the extra money is nice too!!

One last thing. Because I am 55 and smoked for 30 years I am now eligible for a CT Scan on the lungs covered by insurance. It was a super quick test (about 5 minutes) and as long as you don’t wear a wire bra you remain clothed for it. They found one small nodule in my right lung, but it has a low chance of malignancy so they will just watch it. If you are a former or current smoker I highly recommend checking with your insurance to see if this test is covered. The rules changed relatively recently and if you are eligible I highly recommend getting it. I am claustrophobic but because it is open on both ends it didn’t bother me at all.

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First Time at Menno-Hof

Although we were very busy while we were in Shipshewana, Lee and I found the time to visit the Menno-Hoff Cultural Center. It tells the Menonite and Amish story from both a religious and historical perspective and regardless of your religious feelings the historical piece was fascinating. It was also very well done with numerous sections and pre-recorded historical information. The only part I didn’t like was the movie at the very beginning. It is severely outdated and a little preachy, but the rest of the tour was pretty cool

Every group had its own tour guide who guides you from area to area until the end. I always prefer self guided tours, but this building is a bit of a maze so I understood the need for a guide. The most interesting thing he added was telling us that the Shipshewana Amish are called the “Hollywood Amish” by the other communities. Between the RV industry and booming tourism they are much more affluent than many of their peers in other areas. This affluence brings its own issues though because a core tenet of their religion is being humble and as many say it is hard to do that with a ton of money in your pocket.

My favorite part though was the history lesson in particular the importance Martin Luther played in their movement. As a Lutheran I am particularly interested in the role Martin Luther has played in religion, but didn’t pay that much attention to the other groups that sprung up around him. The tour did an excellent job of laying out the timeline of the break from the catholic church.

I didn’t really understand that the crux of the break was over infant baptism. According to the tour, the bible does not mention infant baptism and the Roman Church started it to help the Roman Government with their census. Get baptized and go in the records all at the same time. The Anabaptists were a large group that later splintered into multiple sects and they believe that baptism should only be done after the child was old enough to consent. These beliefs were important enough to these groups to break from the Catholic church which led to significant persecution.

In order to flee that persecution many fled to the Netherlands and eventually to the American colonies. William Penn, a famous Quaker, invited the Mennonites to settle on a piece of property he owned in Pennsylvania. That is why the most concentrated groups of Amish and Mennonites are in the Pennsylvania/Ohio area, although they are all over the world.

This is probably a good time to talk about the groups under the Anabaptist, but keep in mind I found this a little confusing so I may get some of it wrong. Initially there were two main groups, the Mennonites and the Hutterites. The Hutterites live a communal lifestyle and all property is jointly owned. These groups settled mainly in the Wisconsin and Canada areas. The Amish actually came later and broke from the Mennonites in 1693. The split came from religious innovations by the Mennonites and has existed to this day. There was a great display that showed the differences between these two groups. I have included a couple of the panels below.

The one display that helped me the most was showing modern day religions and their relationship to the original Anabaptists. They are more ties than I would have originally thought.

Despite these differences in lifestyle and religion the two groups often work together, with the Mennonites providing services that the Amish cannot provide for themselves (ie: transportation of goods). Speaking of goods, they had wonderful displays of craftsmanship and an example of an Amish eating area. The gift shop was also really great.

Overall we really enjoyed it and I certainly learned a lot. I highly recommend a stop if you are in the area so you can learn more about the Amish and Mennonite culture.

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First Time Replacing Shower Doors

As nice as Shipshewana is, the main reason we are here is to get some RV work done. Finding good RV repair techs is a chore for almost everyone, but we really lucked out when Lee ran across Danny. Lee is very active in the Open Range repair forums and virtually met Danny (who originally worked at the factory) on them. Danny is a very helpful guy so when we needed our slide floor replaced we traveled to his home in Texas to get him to do the work. He did an excellent job so Lee kept in touch and when he moved back to Indiana, we planned a stop to get some additional work done.

Our primary need was the adjustment of our slide pulleys. We intentionally bought a rig with a slide pulley system (rather than hydraulic) because Lee wanted something he could work on himself. What we didn’t know is the pulley systems can be fussy and over the years Lee has replaced a few of the cables. The replacement is relatively easy once you know how, but adjusting them is more art than science and Danny is an expert. Lee wanted all of the pulleys adjusted by an expert and Danny was happy to help out. While they were working on it, we discovered a few trouble areas and Danny replaced one of them. We carry 3 spare sets in our RV now, just in case, because losing a slide at best is a pain to travel with and at worst can stop you in your tracks until a replacement can be found. These are not standard parts available at the hardware store.

You can see the darker spots that show wear from not being adjusted properly

As stingy as I am with money, I did want to mention that spare parts and good technician work are absolutely critical in this lifestyle. I would rather spend money up front than deal with an emergency which ALWAYS costs way more. Since Danny was only able to help in the evenings after his day job, Lee also took the opportunity to finish some home repair projects. Being in the mecca of RV building has it’s advantages, because you can find almost any part you might need. Lee’s first project was to upgrade the fan in the kitchen to one with a remote control (we were using a broom handle to turn it on and off) and then moving the one that was in the kitchen to the bathroom, which we can reach. Finally he took the bathroom fan and put it in the living room where we only had a vent, but no fan. Having three fans going sets up a nice breeze and will hopefully will allow us to leave the air off and open up more often.

Adding the third one in the front was a much bigger job because Lee had to add the wiring for power. It took him awhile to figure out the best place to get power from, but eventually it was all done. It really impresses me when Lee does stuff like this especially when I think about all the money and hassle it is saving us.

Another important point is I don’t expect Lee to be able to do any of these repairs. Early on we invested in RV tech school for him and in my mind that meant he would be able to do all of our repairs. This was a pretty unfair expectation for a variety of reasons, but unfortunately I was slow to let go of it. That caused a lot of tension and angst for both of us that was largely unnecessary. The deal is, Lee does what he feels comfortable with and other repairs we need to have done by an expert which is no different than the way it was when we lived in our house. Just because an RV was smaller doesn’t mean working on it is easier, in fact it is often quite the opposite. Tight spaces, unusual parts, and nonstandard engineering can make what looks like a simple repair pretty difficult. With this in mind I was very hesitant to ask Lee about replacing our shower doors, but since they were really bothering me I went ahead and asked.

I knew this was a huge job, but let me explain why it was so important. Our shower doors (like many RVs) did not open on both sides. This meant that the area between the shower and the vanity was almost impossible to get clean and worse the track at the end where the shower head is couldn’t be cleaned either. Despite my best efforts, there was lots of mold in that section of track and it was really gross. Was the shower functional? Yes. Did it really bug me? Double yes. So I asked Lee if he could look into it.

He did a ton of research and ultimately found an upgrade to our shower doors. This was no small feat as not all sizes are the same and since they don’t make our original doors anymore he had to be extra careful that the newer ones would fit. He not only found a set of glass ones that fit, they also open on both sides which I was crazy excited about. Plus he found a local wholesaler that had one in stock and for $150 cash Lee could pick it up. This is half what it would have costs us retail not to mention hefty shipping costs to have it delivered. Since we had access to Danny if things went wrong, Lee went ahead and picked it up.

I thought he would just put the doors in the existing track but it wasn’t that simple. Lee had to remove the existing track, and scrub down the entire area, and remove all the silicone. That was a hug job in itself. Then he put in the new track and we had to let it sit for 24 hours. This meant the shower was down for one day but it was a small price to pay.

The new track…nice and shiny
Lee used the bedroom as the staging area. YES, my guy reads instructions!

Once the track was in and set, Lee had to do the doors. This is definitely a two person job and because the bathroom is a small space very tricky. After much discussion, Danny set the doors in place while Lee held their entire weight while he did so. I think this would have been impossible for Lee and I to do together so I am really glad Danny was here to help.

Danny and Lee talking through the game plan before starting
Lee attaching the handles after the doors were in place. I didn’t take a picture while they were putting in the track because I didn’t want to distract them. Plus seriously this is a small space.
You can see from this pic the door opens now on the vanity side. Hooray!!!

I am absolutely thrilled with the finished product and really grateful to Lee for taking this on. It was challenging and definitely outside of his comfort zone, but he made it happen and saved us a lot of money in the process!! The room actually seems bigger with the clear doors (the other ones were frosted) and of course less challenging to clean! By the way if you are in the Shipshewana area and are looking for a good RV tech send us an email (camperchronicles @ gmail.com) and we can hook you up with Danny. He won’t take on a job he doesn’t think he can do and the work he does is solid and reasonably priced. To be clear we don’t get anything for the referral, just think he does an awesome job and know how hard it is to find good techs.

Ta Da!!! The finished product.

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Staying in Shipshewana

Anyone who is a serious RVer knows where Shipshewana and Elkhart are, and has probably passed through this area at least once. Elkhart, Goshen, and Shipshewana are a mecca of sorts for fulltime RVers because most of the RVs (and their components) are made or distributed in this rural area of Indiana. It’s also Amish country and because of those two things it is a fun place to visit and stay while you are getting work done on your RV.

This is only our second visit and this time we scored a campground site right in the heart of things at the Shipshewana Flea Market campground. It’s hard to stress how different this area of the country is, but the sight of huge RVs being pulled next to a stream of horse and buggies might be a clue. It’s an interesting mix of the new and old and I really enjoyed visiting the area and exploring the sites. The last time we came through we got our Mor Ryde system and had limited time to explore but this time we were able to get out and see more things.

And of course the food. It is no exaggeration that I gained 4 lbs in a week eating in Amish country. All the butter and sugar was yummy but the Amish can eat that way and stay slim because they physically work every day. Still it was totally worth it and we ate out several times including the buffet at the Gates Restaurant.

Make no mistake this is Amish country and the stores and restaurants cater equally to the Amish residents as they do to the tourists. This makes for a really interesting mix of stores and restaurants with lots of products that you wouldn’t necessarily see anywhere else. It’s amazing how many products now exist that can be run off a battery and Lee and I spent a ton of time in a local stores that sold many products targeting Amish customers. In particular I found the grocery store interesting because it was a mix of bulk foods, closeout items, and the most varied section of baking products I have ever seen anywhere. Also buggies are everywhere. This calls for careful driving but certainly added to the overall experience for me.

I will say that I am extremely glad we are vaccinated. No one is wearing a mask here and although this is pretty common in rural areas, it is further complicated by the amount of Amish people. Despite the fact that there is no explicit restriction against getting vaccinated less than 10% of the Amish population has received the vaccine and the community at large is generally very resistant. That has led to a large group of people achieving some level of herd immunity as an estimated 90% of households have had COVID. A price has been paid though because death rates spiked to 125% of a four year average, but for this largely healthy group of people that seems to be acceptable.

The problem though is how it has impacted the non Amish who live and work in the area. To be clear I completely respect and appreciate the Amish way of life, but their choice to not wear masks has made things very uncomfortable for the non Amish who live and work with them. Vaccines took a long time to reach all age groups in the general population here in Indiana and the people 50 and below were at risk. We have met people who had severe cases here and in some cases a level of resentment has built up between the “English” and the Amish. It’s always been an uneasy alliance between these two groups, but COVID has exacerbated things.

I mention it because until we arrived it honestly never occurred to me and and this small area is a stark example of the differences in rural and urban populations. We have certainly seen these differences while traveling, but COVID has added an additional wrinkle into things. Even with the variant on the rise, we are still comfortable traveling, but if we were not vaccinated I would not be here. Furthermore I don’t think anyone who is high risk should come here until COVID is resolved. All that being said it is a lovely place and if you haven’t been it is definitely worth the stop.

One of the cool things you can do is stop and see the quilt gardens. They are made up of flowers in a quilt pattern and the couple I saw were really pretty. I also highly recommend going to some of the smaller stores. My absolute favorite was Dutch Country Market where you could watch the noodle making. I bought some of their product and it was deee-licious!!!

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Saying Goodbye to Elliott

Now that we have two grandkids in two states, our grandparent life is more complicated. It doesn’t help that our three kids all live so far away from each other or that they both live in areas that either get super cold (Minneapolis) or super hot (Charleston, SC). Then again maybe that is good in a way, because it makes our choice on where to be and when somewhat easier. Still it is always hard to say goodbye, especially since Elliott is so young, but campground choices really forced the decision.

Our favorite campsite Dakota County Fairgrounds closed for their annual fair and the only place we could find to stay was at Mystic Lake Casino campground Sunday – Thursday. I generally don’t travel on work days but since that was our only option we moved on Sunday and that gave us a few additional days. The campground and casino were pretty nice but the $40 a night rate was steep. Still this allowed us a few more precious days with Elliot and a chance to see our daughter Kay who was with Kyrston, Jeremy and Oliver in Charleston, and then turned around and flew up to see Kat and Elliott.

Kyrston (my oldest) and Kay (my youngest)
Kay with Lee and Elliott
Kat’s neighbor across the street is a retired artist and she drew a picture of us

The time was more about the baby though and we visited a couple more times with Kat, Adrian and Elliott. My work schedule was pretty nuts so the visits were limited, but baby snuggles are the best.

Lee’s birthday present was baby snuggles
He makes the greatest faces
Such a cutie!!!!

Adrian and Kat are figuring it out and we did the best we could not to give too much advice. They are grownups and certainly capable of making their own decisions so unless asked we kept a firm hold on our tongues. I highly recommend this for visiting grandparents. It’s not cool to pop into someone’s life and then pop out imho.

Kat
Adrian

The last day was super hard though, but honestly what are my choices? Even if I wanted to live in Minneapolis, then I would hardly ever see Oliver or vice versa. One of the benefits of this lifestyle is we can stay for longer visits and even if it is only once a year we will spend more time than if we only saw them on vacations. I don’t know if saying goodbye will ever get easier and yes, there is face time (which I am grateful for) but nothing is the same as in person baby snuggles.

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July Budget 2021

July was another steep month with costs around $9K. For those of you who are looking at these posts to decide whether or not you can afford this lifestyle here are my thoughts. Seven years ago we put together three annual budgets. $36K, $48K, and $60K. Since we have been on the road we have lived for awhile on the middle number but never been able to get to the $36K mark. Others have for sure, but for us that required changes we were never willing to make. The $60K budget (around $5K a month) is very comfortable for us, but it is worth mentioning that to net $60K you need to make around $80K give or take. Even with two people working that is a steep goal and we have only been able to manage it when I was working corporate jobs for all or part of the year.

What I have found is when I am making corporate money we are spending way more than $5K a month. Part of that is every time we want something we give ourselves permission to do it while the money is coming in and the other reason is we are “making up” for those years spent living very frugally. For us it is completely sustainable because I am making the money to cover it but we also aren’t putting much money in the bank which will make the next frugal period that much harder. This month the big X factor was an unexpected truck repair. We have been very lucky with our truck in general but it needed a power steering pump and a transmission gasket which was not cheap. Much better than a blown engine of course but quite a whack to the budget. Please see the below spreadsheet for the detailed charges.

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We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

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Elliot Arrives

Sorry it’s been so long since I have written, but things have been a little crazy here and I didn’t want to write about it until everything was resolved. Our daughter Kat was 10 days late and getting loads of tests at both her birthing center and the hospital when they discovered she was low on amniotic fluid which forced the delivery from the birthing center into a hospital. This was disappointing as she had planned for a completely natural birth, but ultimately she made the best decision.

The next two days were a roller coaster as the hospital tried everything they could to get her labor started. After 30 hours, Kat decided to get a C-section because of the stress the baby was undergoing. When he came out he was a healthy 8lb, 5oz but his lungs didn’t completely inflate which prompted them to move him into the NICU. Kat only got a few seconds to see his face and then they whisked him away, which was really rough again. Under normal circumstances I would have been in the hospital on standby but because of COVID she was only allowed Adrian so we stayed at home waiting for information. Adrian did an excellent job of keeping us posted but it’s hard not to be there when your daughter is going through something like that.

Initial contact
In the NICU

This event started a seven day stint in the Children’s Hospital NICU which was incredibly stressful. First I should say the doctors and nurses did an excellent job, but it is a very busy unit with over 48 beds. They were near capacity and doctors and nurses changed frequently so it was tough getting solid information. Initially he was on a CPAP, catheter, and feeding tube, but one by one they removed those devices. Because of the C-Section Kat was still in the labor unit next door, but because it was two different hospitals she had to go back and forth frequently. She was trying to pump and eventually breastfeed but was required back in her room for tests every three hours. The logistics of it was a nightmare, even more so because we weren’t allowed to visit her in her room but could visit Elliot in Childrens. Two hospitals and two different sets of COVID rules, but we worked through it and on the second day were finally able to hold the baby.

This is a nice hospital but they do charge for parking which can start to add up. Since it is in the city there is really nowhere else to park other than the garage. We would arrive, park (usually at the top of the garage because the truck is so big and then provide ID and get a badge before we could get into the NICU. Totally worth it!
Holding him and not disconnecting all the wires was hard. Snuggles were great though.

Over the next several days we watched the doctors struggle to understand why his sodium levels were low. This can be a pretty serious condition and they ran test after test to rule things out. My daughter was finally checked out of her hospital room which made things a little easier. They were spending most of the day at the NICU though so she could try and breastfeed. Initially they carefully controlled what he ate, so he had to bottle feed, and Kat pumped at the same time. One thing I was grateful for was they had plenty of donated breastmilk so the bottle feeding still gave him the special nutrients. They have done studies that vaccinated mothers are passing anitbodies in the breastmilk which helps with COVID protection.

Lee loves feeding babies
Milk drunk babies are so cute 🙂
One of my favorite things was he had homework everyday lol.
First bath in the NICU

This is my first time dealing with a NICU baby and it was really hard on everyone. The stress is near constant and the limited time to visit made it worse. In order to not overwhelm them we only went every other day (Adrian’s mom took the other days) and usually stayed less than two hours. It was an hour each way to get there and get in the room so each visit was a 4 hour block, but the baby time was pretty limited. No matter when we went there were always other things going on (ie: feedings, tests, etc) so pure baby time was maybe 20 minutes a visit. That time was precious though and again worth the hassle, but obviously it was a way different experience than if they had been allowed to take the baby home right away. And I really hated all the tubes and was incredibly grateful when they finally removed the feeding tube on his cheek. He is a healthy size and weight thank God, but the wires made him feel incredibly fragile. Our best visit was one day when he was super alert and I was reassured that he was looking at us and even tracking Lee’s voice with his head.

I feel you Elliot!!
Some nurses made us wear masks others didn’t. The room was small and kept uncomfortably warm so not wearing one was much better for me.
His Mom sucked two fingers just like this 🙂

Don’t get me wrong I kept all of those feelings to myself while we were there and tried to portray love, support, and confidence that everything would be ok. The last thing Kat and Adrian needed was dealing with my feelings so I waited to fall apart until it was just Lee and I. Finally though they gave him a diuretic and his sodium started to rebound. After 8 days they decided he could go home and follow-up on outpatient and all of us were overjoyed. Now the real transition starts and hopefully we can see him more, although we are almost out of time here. Despite all the challenges I am incredibly grateful to have a beautiful, healthy grandson who by the way has the exact same birthday as my other grandson Oliver. I can see some big joint birthday parties in our future!!!

Adrian and Elliot
Kat and Elliot

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Waiting on Baby

After Kansas City, we arrived in Minneapolis. Our daughter Kat was due July 7th and we wanted to arrive early just in case. Turned out we all had a lot of waiting to do as her due date came and went. We made the most of the time celebrating her birthday and Lee catching up on lots of RV stuff that he had been putting off. Plus Jack was super happy because the Dakota County Fairgrounds where we stay is one of his favorites. Not only is it a really nice piece of land, but they have a dog friendly policy and there are lots of places we can take him off leash.

We snagged a spot close to the dump station so Lee could use the macerator pump and long hoses and didn’t have to use the blue boy. I was concerned about possible smell, but it is super clean and we never smell anything. And it’s one of the very few spots that have shade trees in what is otherwise a giant open field.

As soon as we arrived we went to see Kat and I was amazed at how big she was. She’s the smallest of my girls at 5’2″ and she is all baby. Her hair is normally a bright color (it changes with her mood), but with the birth coming she cut it short and went back to her natural color which I think was really smart.

All belly

Kat and Adrian (her partner) have been working on getting ready and I was happy to assist by dropping off all the shrink wrapped clothes I have been buying. For several months in our travels I have been buying baby clothes at thrift stores and garage sales and resale shops, and between what I bought and what my older daughter Kyrston sent she should have enough for a year or more. I also finished a cross stitched baby blanket for her and was happy to give that as well.

So many clothes
Really happy with how this turned out but its a good thing babies take 9 months because I am super slow.

So what do you do with a VERY pregnant daughter in July heat? Go out to eat of course. We went to a great place for southern fired chicken one day and another restaurant for her birthday brunch.

One thing I did want to do was find a Jade plant and Kat and I went to a greenhouse where one of her best friends works. Bachman’s had a great selection including some very high end rare plants. One of these was actually a $750 plant which blew me away, but I spent much much less on my super cute jade plant.

Largely though we just gave them their space and Lee and I went about our normal lives. Lee spent hours reorganizing all of our cabinets and storage compartments, and doing a mini purge. I have to say they look absolutely fantastic! He is a master at organization and is always coming up with new ways to make things easier, and make things fit better.

Since we will be here for awhile, I joined the local Farmington, MN Facebook group and Lee and I have been exploring the small town. Turns out there is an excellent ice cream shop with locally made ice cream here and we went to a $1 book sale that one of the locals had.

Another day Lee and I were wandering around and stumbled across a store called Shady Deal. It had all kinds of weird closeouts and lots of mannequins throughout the store. Very strange but they had some unique items I have never seen anywhere else.

And lastly we went to Mall of America. The last time I went was at least 10 years ago but we pass it almost every day and finally decided to stop. Mainly I wanted to check out the indoor amusement park for future trips with Lil Bean (as we are calling the baby) and I was thrilled to see it had a Nickelodeon theme. It also has a fantastic Legacy Toy Store (Lee had to drag me out of there) and an Amazon Prime shop which is full of items that are trending and 4 plus stars on Amazon. Frankly you could spend days in there, but after 8,000 steps I was ready to leave.

So we are just waiting and hopefully the baby will come soon. Unfortunately we have to leave no later than 8/1 because they are having the county fair this year and clear the campground to prepare the grounds. It’s the only downside to staying here, but since we will rarely come in August we are huge fans of staying here when in the area.

There are still 5 or 6 posts Lee needs to write about places he went while we were in Kansas City, but he’ll do those later, none of them really matter in the chronology of our life.

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TWA Museum

When we arrive in a new city I start doing research and often there are pleasant surprises. That was the case when I learned that Kansas City had a TWA Museum. Yes, Lee loves planes and flight museums, but TWA is something special because his father worked for and retired from TWA. He worked third shift as a ground crew member and Lee’s entire childhood was formed in some way because of that job. So even though I don’t care that much about flight museums generally I definitely wanted to visit it with him.

It was open on Saturdays so went went first thing in the morning and it was a little hard to find. It is in a building that currently hosts Flight Support, but after a couple of wrong turns we found it.

The Flight support was to the right upon entering and the TW museum was to the left. Once we got inside the signage was good.

The hallway leading up to the museum had lots of cool vintage posters and several pictures and medal cases. That was all free, but the $10 to get into the museum itself was a bargain, especially with the significance it had for Lee. The only thing we didn’t like was we had to be led by a tour guide because the museum is actually in multiple rooms and in order to get to them all you need to go into the working hangar. Makes sense because of the design, but we would have much preferred being allowed to walk around alone.

These beautiful model planes were found in various places and beautifully restored
This was in pristine condition, surprising given its age
One of the coolest things I saw was a complete set of First Class china including little TWA matches and cigarettes.

I should probably mention at this point that when Lee was a teenager his father moved to Florida while Lee stayed with his mother in Columbus. Using his fathers flight pass he flew for free many, many times on TWA and always sat in first class. Back then they didn’t pay much attention to his age and he was able to drink and eat elaborately on these many first class flights. Think Leo DiCapprio in Catch Me If You Can. That was Lee’s flying experience. He was very happy when we found some old menus from First Class because it proved he wasn’t misremembering the experience. Check out these menu items. On todays flight you are lucky if you get pretzels.

As I stated earlier we walked out into the hangar and walked into nearby rooms, which had multiple training stations for crew members and pilots including a complete mockup of an Ambassador Club.

Lee’s favorite part was the full size training cabin and he immediately sat in his favorite seat…1A. He also found a crew jacket on board which his father wore every single day and that made him pretty emotional. It’s funny all the memories old items can bring back.

Lee’s seat
The jacket

All in all it was a great museum, but my absolute favorite part was the gift shop. They had lots of actual TWA items for sale here and the vintage stuff was really cool. Lee’s favorite was one of the flight bags, which he had as a kid, his Dad was very thrifty. I absolutely loved all the TWA gift bags which had tiny travel size stuff in them. Ranging from $2-$5 I bought several and laid them out when I got home to look at them. Don’t ask me why tiny stuff gave me such a thrill but I went crazy over the little TWA stapler!

The bag!
They had jackets for sale but they were pretty pricey so Lee settled for a few shirts instead. Everything was never worn but old.
I really liked this air stewardess scarf but it was a little pricey for me. Probably should have bought it though.
I had to throw away the some of the stuff but I kept the stapler!
The Address book cracked me up
And the flight socks were great

You are either old enough to remember flying as it used to be or you are not, and either way I think the museum was well worth the entrance fee. For us the trip was filled with nostalgia and I am really glad Lee got to experience it.

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.

June 2021 Budget

I know that many of our readers look forward to this budget updates, but for me it has become a major chore. Since we are no longer pinching every penny our costs have gone way up and I feel vaguely guilty abut that for some reason. I know that is silly, and I also trust that you can separate out what are base costs versus extras, but it still feels like I am justifying myself every month. I have thought about only doing an annual report-out, but I know people would miss these, so I will continue to post, but I am not necessarily going to go through every line item. For those of you who are looking for a lean budget picture I would point you to our Budgets page and years 2017 and 2018.

I did want to add one note about groceries. I am super confused. Lee and I have gone to only eating one meal a day and we are drinking a protein drink for dinner. How we could be on this diet and still spend a thousand dollars is absolutely beyond me, but I do know part of it is waste. We have been buying food like we used to eat and have been really focusing on buying smaller quantities so we will see how it goes in July. The dining out went way up because we are only eating one meal a day and often want to eat out for that. Hoping this will all settle in next month, but its been a major change to our eating habits and I am not surprised it is taking a bit to settle in.

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.