More Home Maintenance and Furniture Sales

Only three more days before our house goes on the market, so we’re scrambling to complete our “homework” list of repairs and maintenance items that the Realtors assigned us.

Last week Andy spent several hours painting the baseboards in the kitchen and breakfast room, after they had been scraped up pretty badly from the recent tile installation. The hardest part was getting to the baseboards in the kitchen counter toe-kick space, but he got it done.

Andy painting the baseboards in the kitchen

On Friday we had Todd Jordan come by to clean the roofs on both the house and the workshop. He advised against pressure washing because of the damage that the high pressure can do to the shingles, and instead he used a bleach solution to kill the mildew, mold and moss that had accumulated on the roofs. The workshop was especially gnarly since it had big clumps of green moss growing on it. Todd bleached it good on Friday and let it soak up the sun for the rest of the day, and then he came back on Saturday and applied another soaking of the bleach solution.

Todd applying bleach solution to roof to kill mold and mildew

The roofs were already looking much better, but he said that the next good rainstorm would wash all the dead moss and mildew away. Well, we certainly got that rainstorm this afternoon, and the roof does look much better! Another task completed!

Next item on the list was to continue cleaning up the shrubbery beds and putting out fresh pine straw. Both Andy and I worked our butts off in the heat and humidity on Saturday morning, pulling weeds, mowing, weed-eating and sweeping. This morning, Andy was back out there, distributing pine straw in the beds. It was so miserably hot and humid that I talked him into stopping at lunchtime even though he still had one more bale of straw to go. He will complete the job tomorrow, since he had to go get more pine straw anyway. I also bought some new flowering plants to put in the pots under the crape myrtle tree.

Andy adding fresh pine straw to the rose beds

Next on the list were a couple of spots on the ceiling where old leaks had left brown patches. The first one was in the kitchen, and it had been there since before we moved into the house in 2011. The Realtors had suggested we try dabbing it with bleach, so I mixed up a half-bleach-half-water solution and gave it a shot. And it worked! You can hardly tell there was ever a spot there. They said it might take a couple of applications, and to just let it dry in between, but I don’t think a second application will be necessary.

The other spot was in the garage, and was a result of the leak that we just had repaired last week. This spot was much bigger and needed more drastic measures. So we had our old contractor, Ben Jackson, do the work for us (he did our bathroom remodel for us last year). He came over today and replaced the section of the ceiling that was damaged, and got it mudded. He’ll come back tomorrow to texturize and paint it.

Ben working on ceiling repairs in the garage

In addition to getting all these repairs done, I listed a couple more pieces of furniture on Facebook Marketplace this weekend, and both are already sold!

SOLD – Antique armoire converted to entertainment center

SOLD – Desk chair I’ve owned since about 1992

So things are continuing to move quickly toward getting the house put on the market this week. I have just two weeks of employment left before I retire, but they are loading me up with work to do until the very last minute. I have a lot of company-owned equipment that will have to be shipped back to Baton Rouge, but they are sending me all the boxes and packing materials, and will have UPS come by the house to pick everything up on the Tuesday after I’m cut loose.

So that’s all the news for the moment. Andy and I need to sit down tonight and fill out all the paperwork to complete the listing agreement on Tuesday evening. It’s going to be an exciting week!

Home Repairs and Good News!

Handy Andy has been a busy bee this week, lining up contractors and repairmen to handle our punch list of items that need to be addressed before we list the house.

On Monday, we had Keith Martin come over to repair the leak in the roof around the chimney. While he was on the roof, he also cleaned out the gutters. He charged us $125 for the work, but Andy gave him a $25 tip for being punctual and a good conversationalist.

Over the weekend while we were in Lowe’s, we ran into the contractor who remodeled our bathroom for us last year. We told him we needed to have a portion of the ceiling sheetrock replaced where it had been stained by the roof leak. He came over on Sunday evening to check it out, and said he would be back later this week to take care of it.

Yesterday, we had the electricians come in to install GFCI outlets where needed. We had to have three installed on the counter near the kitchen sink. Fortunately, they found that the outlets in the two bathrooms were already GFCI at the breaker box, so they did not need to be replaced.

New GFCI outlets in the kitchen

While the electricians were here, they also took care of some light switches that didn’t work, and made sure that all the breakers in the breaker box were properly labeled (something that was noted on the 2011 inspection report when we bought the house but we had never taken the time to address).

Total cost for Tuesday’s electrical work – $305.66.

After the electricians left, Andy started working on installing the new ceiling fan in the master bedroom. However, when he removed the old fan, he found that all the wires coming out of the ceiling were white, so he had no idea which one was hot. Since wiring is not his forte, he did the wise thing and called the electrician that had just left to get some advice. In the end, the electrician came back this morning and did the fan installation for us for $50.

New ceiling fan in the master bedroom.

We have someone coming over on Friday to pressure wash the roofs of the house and the workshop, and we’re waiting to hear back from the fence company about getting the chain link fence repaired where a huge branch fell on it last week.

This huge branch took out part of our chain link fence on July 1.

So things are progressing nicely on the repairs!

And then this afternoon, I got some GREAT news!!

I just found out that the neighbors on our east side are moving in two weeks. I was told that they are selling the house and moving to Plantersville. I have no idea what will happen to the house after they move out–if it will just sit empty, or if it’s been foreclosed–but at least we won’t have to listen to the fighting and yelling all the time. The property is in pretty bad shape, so it still concerns us as we’re getting ready to go on the market, but we’ll see what happens.

I have twelve more working days until I retire, but who’s counting?

And I miss Lizzy!! It kinda sucks that we can’t actually enjoy our time RVing while we’re getting ready to become fulltime RVers, but the sacrifice will be worth it!!

 

 

Prepping Our House for Sale

We had our first meeting with our Realtors on Thursday evening, and they have given us some homework to do.

On the positive side, they said the house, workshop and property were in very good condition, and they feel confident that we should be able to sell fairly quickly, possibly even get into a multiple offer situation. The inventory of houses in our price range here in the Tupelo area is very tight, which works in our favor.

Of course, there are always things that need attention and repair, and so the things that they pointed out to us did not come as a surprise. Most are minor things, but we’re going to try to hit them all if possible.

The list includes:

  • Spot on the kitchen ceiling – it was there when we moved in, probably from an earlier leak that had been repaired. They gave us some tips on how to remove the stain from the popcorn ceiling.
  • Roof leak over the garage ceiling – Andy has tried to fix this a couple of times with no success, so it’s time to call in the professionals.
  • Power wash the roof on both the house and the workshop.
  • Clean up the shrubbery beds and put in fresh pine straw.
  • Replace mini-blinds in the garage windows.
  • Replace the ceiling fan in the master bedroom (it died a few weeks ago).
  • Repaint the baseboards in the kitchen/breakfast/laundry room area which were scuffed up when the new tile was put in.
  • Have GFCI outlets installed in the bathroom and kitchen to bring them up to current code (these were called out in the home inspection when we purchased the house, but we went ahead with the purchase without the previous owner doing the update).

Our Realtors also left us some paperwork to fill out (i.e. disclosure form, etc.). They will be back to visit with us on July 17 when they will take photos for the listing, and then the sign will go in the yard on July 18 when we officially go on the market. At that time, we’ll nail down the asking price that we want to go on the listing.

They gave us a list of local contractors and repair guys, and Andy has started calling them up to get on their schedules. We can take care of a lot of things on the list ourselves, but roofing and electrical work are better left to the pros.

This morning we had the roofer come by to see if he could find the leak that’s causing the spot on the garage ceiling. He thinks he found the problem around the chimney, and will be coming back on Monday morning to do the repair. Andy will pick up the materials at Lowe’s for him this weekend so we’ll be ready.

Having the roof inspected to figure out where it’s leaking

I spent several hours this morning pulling weeds in the shrubbery beds and dead-heading the rose bushes. Fortunately it was overcast so the temperatures were bearable, but it was still very humid and miserable to be doing that kind of activity. Can’t wait until we can walk away from all this yard work!

We have a “challenging” situation with the neighbors on our east side. We may have to resort to some creative solutions to lessen the negative impact on our curb appeal, but we’ll see how that goes. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

So, we’re starting to move forward very quickly now, as the pace accelerates. I still have three more weeks to work before I’m officially retired. It’s going to be the longest three weeks of my life, I think! But when we think about everything that needs to be done to free ourselves of the house, our stuff and our responsibilities, it doesn’t seem like there’s nearly enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

But no worries, it will all work out just fine, I’m sure! Keeping our fingers crossed that the house sells quickly for a fair price!

How We Plan to Sell our Stuff

You just don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to get rid of it all.

Now that we’re starting to really get serious about The Big Purge, we’ll be using several different avenues to liquidate our belongings:

  • Yard Sales – We already had a large and fairly successful yard sale back in the spring, but we were still holding on to a lot of things that we use on a daily basis in our house. Now it’s time to let that stuff go as well, so our next yard sale will have a whole new selection of items that we didn’t offer last time. Some of our neighbors are already salivating. Right now it looks like our next sale will be the first weekend in August. It will be hot and miserable, but we need to get it done.
  • Goodwill – Whatever doesn’t sell in the yard sale will be going to Goodwill or the landfill. In fact, we already took a load last weekend of things that we didn’t think would do well in a yard sale–I think mainly we were just tired of looking at them and wanted them out of the house. But Goodwill is going to be seeing a lot from us.
  • Social Media – This will be the main place where we sell larger furniture items, and possibly even the Prius. I had always used Craigslist before when we lived in larger cities, but it doesn’t seem to deliver the same results here in a mostly rural area. So this week I tried listing a couple of things on Facebook Marketplace, and we were very happy with the results. I got rid of two milk crates of miscellaneous office supplies, along with our very nice leather recliner. I’ll be listing some more furniture items next week.
  • Specific Facebook Groups – Andy is listing a lot of his lapidary inventory in a Facebook group specifically related to that hobby. Not much luck so far, but we’ll see how it goes.
  • Freecycling – If someone we know and love has expressed an interest in anything that we’re getting rid of, then in some cases we’re just giving stuff away. For instance, yesterday Andy gave his big charcoal/gas grill to our next door neighbor (the good one!), as he has always been so willing to help out when Andy had his broken leg and when we needed someone to feed our feral cat while we were camping. They were so happy to get the grill, they fired it up last night and had a big cookout! Last week I gave my sewing machine and a bunch of sewing notions and supplies to my niece, as her daughter has started learning to sew. It’s nice to know that the things we give away will be used and enjoyed.

Tomorrow evening we meet with our Realtor to get started on the process of listing the house for sale. We’re trying to get it ready to show by cleaning, decluttering and repairing a few things that need attention.

The downside to all this activity is that we don’t have any time to actually take the RV on a road trip. I still have to work through the 27th of July, but maybe we can sneak in a trip in August after the house is listed. I wouldn’t mind heading up to the Smoky Mountains while we’re still in this part of the country.

We’ll see!

 

The News is Out! Full Steam Ahead!

For the past few months we’ve been a little vague about our future plans here on the blog, but as of today we can share what’s going on and where we’re headed.

Yes, we are on our way to becoming full-time RVers, living in our 24′ Class C Thor Chateau 22E and driving our Toyota Tacoma with camper shell as our chase vehicle. We plan to spend the foreseeable future traveling and exploring the United States (and maybe Canada and Mexico as well) for as long as we’re healthy, happy and enjoying the experience. Our plan is to be on the road by the time I turn 60 in mid-October.

And those plans took a HUGE leap ahead today!

This morning I submitted my resignation at my job with Humana. I gave them four weeks notice, and my last day of work will be Friday, July 27. These remaining four weeks will be extremely busy as I do a lot of traveling around the northern third of the state for work, but fortunately most of it will be day trips with only one, maybe two, overnight trips. And by the end of the day on July 27, I will officially be retired!

I didn’t want to say too much in a public forum about our specific plans until I had formally announced my resignation at work. The timing was driven by my becoming fully vested in my company 401(k) plan. Humana matches the first 6% that employees contribute to their plans at a rate of 125%, but you have to work two years to be vested in the matching funds. My two year anniversary was this past Tuesday, and that was the date that we were waiting for to put all this plan into motion.

So now that I’ve turned in my notice at work, what’s next?

We have an appointment with a Realtor next Thursday evening for him to come look over our house and property so he can give us an idea of what we might expect to sell it for. This is the same Realtor that we used when we bought this house, so he’s familiar with the property and the area. We hope to have the house on the market by the third week of July.

Because I still have four weeks of employment left, Andy has to shoulder most of the burden of getting the house ready to sell. We’ve done a lot of decluttering, I’ve digitized hundreds of photos, we’ve already had one big yard sale, we’ve sold some furniture and my piano–but there’s so much more to do. I’ll help out as much as I can in the evenings and on the weekends, but until I’m free from my job, Andy will be tackling most of this stuff on his own.

As far as the furnishings and other possessions go, we’ll be having at least one more yard sale, and we’ll be listing larger items for sale in all the usual places. If you’re in the Tupelo area and you’re looking for a dining room set, a large entertainment center, a big screen TV, a leather sofa, blah, blah, blah…..hit us up!

We will be selling my beloved 2007 Toyota Prius as soon as we get a contract on the house. It’s a wonderful vehicle, has about 139,000 miles on it, runs like a top, and still gets around 46 MPG. Make us an offer!!

Andy will have a lot of tools to sell, and he’s liquidating a lot of his jewelry-making inventory. He does plan to keep some tools and materials so that he can continue to do some filigree work on the road, but doesn’t plan to continue the lapidary work (stone cutting and polishing).

We’ve had these plans for about a year now, and it’s hard to believe that we’re almost at the point where we’re totally committed. Quitting my job, selling our house and almost all our possessions–those are serious decisions. But every time we let something go, we feel lighter and less burdened by all the “stuff” that we’ve accumulated. We look forward to having the bare minimum in terms of material possessions so that we can have the maximum number of hours together accumulating experiences and memories.

Instead of having a lawn to be mowed and tended, our front yard can be anything from the Grand Canyon to the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains to the Sonoran Desert–it will just depend on where we decide to park the RV that week. Instead of being stuck in the same location through a hot, humid Southern summer, we will chase the good weather, moving to the warm Southwest in the winter and to the cooler mountains and Pacific Northwest in the summer. And of course we will be free to travel to where we can visit family members at any time without having to wait until I have enough vacation days accrued on somebody’s payroll.

Making that phone call this morning to my boss, setting these wheels in motion, it’s been a very exciting day. Just the first of many, many more to come, so stay tuned! We’ll be posting much more regularly from now on since we don’t have to keep things on the down-low anymore, so be sure to subscribe! It’s gonna get CrAzY!! 🙂

 

Gut-Check Tour – Let’s Review!

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

I finally had a chance to sit down at the computer and review all of our data from our 16-day Gut-Check Tour, and thought I’d share some of the interesting statistics.

For those of you who are new to the blog, we travel in a 24′ Class C RV which Andy drives, and I follow behind in our 2004 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner with a camper shell. We also travel with two cats.

We left Tupelo on Saturday, April 7, and returned on Sunday, April 22. I don’t have the actual miles traveled on either vehicle, but according to Google maps, the route for our trip covered 933 miles. This would be the miles that the RV covered ONLY, and would not include the miles that we drove in the Tacoma for side trips.

Here are some of the numbers for what we spent:

Campsite Fees (including taxes, miscellaneous fees)

We stayed at five different sites on our travels, and were able to get discounts at four of them. Our total campsite fees were $382.96, which were broken down as follows:

Gasoline

We started our trip with over three-quarters tank of gas in the RV, but we haven’t refilled the tank since we returned. Therefore, these figures don’t accurately reflect the amount of gas that we used for the trip, but only shows what we spent while traveling. The total amount spent was $316.42:

  • For the RV – Two stops, $184.40 for 74.6 gallons, average price $2.47/gallon. (On the second stop, the pump cut off at $100, so we didn’t actually completely fill the tank, and that has prevented me from calculating our MPG until the next fill-up.)
  • For the Tacoma – $132.02 for 51.97 gallons, average price $2.54/gallon

Attractions and Entertainment

We really enjoy our sight-seeing excursions, but we didn’t try to go somewhere or do something every day. We’re perfectly happy reading a good book, walking on the beach or taking hikes, which are free. But we also enjoy learning about new places and their history, so we allowed time and budget for exploring. In addition to the list below, we also spent $24 playing the penny slot machines in Biloxi, Mississippi, but we won more than we spent, plus we got free drinks, so that was more of an investment, right? The total for attractions and entertainment was $85:

Food and Drinks

One of the best things about RV life is having access to a full kitchen for all your meals. We eat a primarily whole-foods, plant-based  diet, which means a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, oats and other whole grains, big salads, beans and legumes, and nuts/seeds. We do splurge occasionally, especially on Sunday mornings when we have Pillsbury cinnamon rolls baked in our convection microwave oven, and we did eat out a few times when we were sight-seeing during the day, but most of our meals were in the RV.

Total food cost was $341.03, broken down as follows:

  • Groceries – $181.36, including stocking up on the day before we left.
  • Wine – $21.99
  • Dining out – $137.68, includes four meals plus two treats (Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream in Biloxi, and beignets and sno-balls in Panama City Beach)

Other Miscellaneous

We picked up a few new items for the RV, most of which will be used after this trip, but I’m throwing them on this report anyway:

  • Consumables (dishwashing liquid, cleaning supplies, toilet paper) – $9.92
  • Equipment (step-stool for accessing the over-cab area, windshield mount for iPhone) – $48.89
  • Furnishings (shoe organizer, matching towels to cover dinette cushions to protect from cat hair) – $23.65

Adding It All Up

And that brings our total spending on our trip to $1,207.87. I don’t think that’s too bad for a 16-day vacation for two people and two cats!

What We Learned

While this was a vacation, the main purpose of the trip was to give ourselves a gut-check, to make sure that we can be happy living in and out of a small RV for an extended amount of time, without having a concrete plan or schedule of where we’re going to be for the next week or two. We needed to see if we could function without getting on each others’ nerves too much, and if we could deal with the inevitable stress that comes when things don’t go exactly as planned–things break, campsites are not as advertised, weather gets nasty, cats want to be fed EVERY MORNING at 5AM. Just the little things in life.

And I think we came through with flying colors! This trip only reinforced our decision to follow our dream of twenty-five years and pursue full-time travel while living in an RV. We feel like we’ve done our homework and due diligence, and that we’re making an informed decision concerning how we want to live our golden years. We’ve saved money all our working lives, and we’ve invested in vehicles and equipment that will serve us well in the future. We’ve educated and tested ourselves, and now we’re both excited and anxious to get this show on the road, literally!

On this trip, we got lots of experience at finding enough wireless signal to enable us to use the internet to research campgrounds and parks where we wanted to stay. We got more experience at managing our gray and black tank capacity when staying at a site with no sewer hookups. (I wish we had done more dry camping, but we’ll save that for another day.)

We tried some new recipes for the Instant Pot, we found places to refill our drinking water jugs, we verified that we can stock enough fresh leafy green vegetables in our small refrigerator to make our huge salads, and we confirmed that we can easily stick to our WFPB diet while living on the road.

We also discovered that there are some gorgeous city parks (specifically Bonita Reservoir Park in Meridian, Mississippi and Johnny Henderson Family Park in Enterprise, Alabama) that make wonderful spots to stop for lunch on travel days, providing a place to rest and revitalize while getting a good home-prepared meal.

Finally, we confirmed what we expected, that once we go full-time we will want to stay put for more than just two-three days at a time. Not only are moving days more stressful for everyone, including the kitties, it’s also more expensive to move more often due to fuel costs. The beauty of full-time RV life is having the flexibility to park your house in a different place on a different day. In the future, when we find a spot we like, we intend to stay as long as we’re comfortable there, or until we hit the time limit for the site.

What’s Next?

We will definitely be moving forward with our plan to become full-time RVers. We’re not ready yet to publicly announce anything as concrete as a date, but we’re already in the process of downsizing and getting rid of our “stuff”. We’ll be ready to give more details in the next 60 days, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, we’ll be taking a few short trips locally, since that’s what fits into my work schedule for the time being. We have a few maintenance items to take care of on/in the RV – fixing the drawer that won’t close all the way, replacing the stabilizers that got bent up in Alabama, implementing some storage/organization solutions in the bathroom, etc.

But, yeah, we’ve definitely stirred up our nomad blood, so the rest of this year is going to be EPIC!

Gut-Check Tour – Day 16, Back to Sticks and Bricks

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Sunday, April 22, 2018 – Tupelo, Mississippi

Well, we’re back at our sticks and bricks home, and already I can feel the stress piling up. The difference is so stark.

We started off the morning at The Woods RV Park and Campground in Montgomery, Alabama after spending our third night there. We had our usual Sunday morning RV breakfast of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls and coffee, and then got busy preparing to hit the road.

As usual, I handled the inside of the RV, including putting fresh linens on the bed so it will be ready for our next trip. I really hate changing the sheets on that bed–it’s hard to do when you can’t walk around the sides of the mattress, and you’re trying to smooth out the sheets while you’re kneeling on top of them. Andy took care of things on the outside–dumping the tanks, unhooking the utilities, etc.

We pulled out of the campground just shortly after 10AM, and headed north toward Birmingham. The forecast had called for rain, but fortunately it was just overcast when we were preparing to break camp. The drive up I-65 was fine, and we only stopped once so I could put gas in the truck.

We drove straight through Birmingham and hit I-22 West toward Tupelo, and only then did it start raining. There is almost nowhere to stop and park on the side of the road on I-22, so we wound up pulling into a Love’s Truck Stop near Jasper for lunch. We parked in the back lot, in the middle of the big rigs, and had our chopped salad, chips and salsa, and other odds and ends that we wanted to nibble on. We used the restrooms in Love’s and I got a cup of coffee, and then we were on the road again.

It rained pretty heavily on us all the way in to Tupelo, and when we pulled up to the house it was still pouring down. We crated the kitties so make sure we got them in the house safely (didn’t want them to squirm away from us in the rain), and then we only unloaded things that we might need tonight or tomorrow morning. It was just raining too hard to totally unload Lizzy.

We’re home, safe and sound! #rvlife #lifeisgood

A post shared by Suzanne Hight (@suzanne.hight) on

We took Lizzy back to the storage lot and plugged her in so the food in the fridge will be fine. Andy will drive her back to the house tomorrow since the rain should be ended by then, and  he’ll finish the unloading and do the final cleanup then.

The dreary, cold rain was a perfect metaphor for how I felt now that our trip was over.

I logged in to my work email and took a good look at my schedule for the next few days. I’m going to be driving all over North Mississippi from one small town to another, so I had to take care of getting a rental car reservation and getting my schedule organized. No such thing as easing back into work on this job. I can feel the stress in my neck and shoulders just thinking about it.

Since we didn’t have groceries in the house and it was so cold and rainy outside, we decided to just order a pizza for delivery. I ordered from Papa John’s using the iPhone app, and was told that it would take 29-39 minutes to arrive. An hour later it wasn’t here, and I had not received the usual email receipt from Papa John’s, although their app showed the order had been placed, and I had received an email from my credit card provider showing the charge. I called Papa Johns, and they said that it was on the way and should be here any minute. Fifteen minutes later, still no pizza, so I called again. This time, they asked if I wanted to speak to the GM, and I said “Sure”, and then they hung up on me. I called right back, and as I was speaking to the person who answered the phone, the pizza delivery gal showed up in the driveway.

I still had the GM on the phone when I answered the door, and I’m sure they could hear my conversation with the delivery gal. I asked her how long the pizza had been out of the oven and she said she didn’t know. I asked her if it was still hot, and she said yes, but said we could check it. Andy checked it and said it was only slightly warm. She offered to void the charge, and I said that was fine. Anyway, we warmed up the pizza in the microwave.

As depressing as this afternoon and evening have been, I have to say that this was the best two weeks of vacation that I’ve ever had.  And yes, I’m totally ready to move forward toward full-time RVing as quickly as possible. Andy agrees, so it’s a green light.

After a couple of days of getting back in our normal groove, we’ll sit down and map out the next steps. We have a few maintenance items to take care on Lizzy–replace the bent stabilizers, fix/replace the non-working taillight, fix the pantry drawer correctly, track down the source of the drip in the vent hood. Then there are really major things like selling the house and the car. But now that we’ve had a taste of the lifestyle that lies ahead of us, we can’t wait to get started!

Gut-Check Tour – Day 15

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Saturday, April 21, 2018 – The Woods RV Park & Campground, Montgomery, Alabama

This was another one of those days when you just know that you’re where you’re supposed to be at just the right time.

We started the morning with some coffee and refrigerator oats, then we both got showers in the rig. For some reason, this morning it dawned on me just how bad it might be if one of the cats jumped up on the kitchen or bathroom sink and bumped the water faucet while we were gone. The holding tank would quickly fill up and start flooding the RV, and no one would be here to stop it. I mentioned it to Andy, so before we left to go sight-seeing, he turned off the water at the faucet outside. This will now become SOP (standard operating procedure).

Our first stop on our tour today was the Rosa Parks Museum and Library, but first we had to find a parking place. The only public parking we saw that wasn’t metered was a lot that charged $10 for the day. It was covered parking, so we took it, as it was almost directly across the street from the museum.

The Rosa Parks Museum and Library is part of Troy University and is located on the very corner where Rosa was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus to a white person. There are two main parts to the museum, but we only toured one, the main exhibit dealing with her arrest and the resulting bus boycott (we also toured a temporary exhibit of artwork while we waited for the main tour to start at 11 AM).

The tour was more of an “experience” than anything else. It started with a short movie that introduced the social reality of 1955 Montgomery, setting the stage for what happened. The movie was shown in a small room on three overhead screens. The walls of the room were covered with pictures and descriptions of the main characters in the boycott.

As soon as the movie ended, two double doors opened to the next room and we walked through to find a reproduction of the bus that Rosa was riding. They had it set up so it seemed as though we were standing on the sidewalk looking into the windows of the bus. Inside the bus, the scenes were projected (like a movie through the bus windows) showing Rosa entering the bus and getting seated, then the bus pulled to the next stop and more people boarded, looking for seats. Another stop later, white people were grumbling to the driver because they were having to stand, and then the driver stopped and told Rosa and the three other black people in her row to move.

It was a powerful experience because of not only the truth of the story itself, but also the way it was presented. It really put us right in the scene, as if we were witnessing it as it happened. The scene continued until Rosa was arrested and led off the bus, and then we moved to the next exhibit that replicated the Holt church where mass meetings were held to organize the boycott. They had actual recordings of the speakers, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the congregation singing in the meetings–very powerful.

From there we moved into the next room where they presented the timeline of the boycotts and how they worked. They talked about the car pools, about how the white employers would provide transportation for their black maids and employees, and how the white power structure tried everything in their power to break the boycott.

I learned so much that I didn’t know about this particular part of the Civil Rights movement, and the day was just getting started!

We left the museum about 12:30 PM, and my plan was to go to Touch of Soul Cafe for lunch, but we found it closed (even though their website said they were open on Saturday). Right next door was the D’Roads Cafe, which I had read good things about, so we decided to go there. From the outside, it looks like a decrepit storefront, but inside it’s beautiful. There were just a few other people there, and the waitress told us  we could sit anywhere. Our only complaint was that it was really cold, so Andy had to go back to the truck to get his jacket.

The server showed us the day’s menu written on a small whiteboard (it changes daily based on what’s in season). It all looked and sounded good but wasn’t vegan, but at the bottom of the board was written “Vegan, vegetarian and paleo options available.” I asked the server about those options and she said she would have the chef come out to discuss them with us.

The chef came to our table a few minutes later. She was a short Latina (Cuban?) woman wearing a tan drivers hat, and she was so helpful. She talked about the different vegetables she could prepare. We asked her if she could fix fried sweet plantains, and she smiled a huge smile and said “Of course!”. Then she asked if we were picky eaters, and we said “No, as long as it’s not meat.” She said, “Don’t worry, I’m gonna fix you something beautiful!”

And she did! A little later the server came back with two plates of different vegetables, seasoned slightly spicy, with lots of onion. There was also a small cornbread-type bun, split almost like a pita pocket, that was stuffed with fresh spinach–it was scrumptious. And a little later, the chef came out with the fried plantains, done perfectly.

After our meal, she came back and talked with us for a bit about our RV life, and how she also wants to travel by RV after her daughter gets out of school in a few years. She gave us her business card and told us to keep in touch. Janett Malparlida, thanks again for a wonderful experience at D’Road Cafe!

After lunch, our next stop was the Freedom Rides Museum, located in the old Greyhound Bus station a few blocks away. When we entered the museum, we were greeted immediately by the receptionist, who told us that there two actual Freedom Riders visiting today. She introduced us to Al and Kredelle Petway, brother and sister, who were part of the Freedom Riders movement in 1961. They were in town because Kredelle is participating in a panel discussion about the Freedom Riders tonight, so they had stopped by the museum to visit.

It just so happened that a small group of students and their teacher from Georgia also showed up at the museum at the same time, so they set up an impromptu question-and-answer session where we could all learn about their experiences. Al and Kredelle, along with their father, didn’t ride a bus (I mistakenly thought the Freedom Riders were all on buses). They actually flew on a commercial flight from Montgomery to Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested upon arrival (other Freedom Riders also took trains).

I knew vaguely about the bus bombing, and about the mob violence in Anniston, Birmingham and Montgomery when the buses would pull in. But I didn’t realize that Jackson became the focus of the movement when it became apparent that it was too dangerous for all of them to try to continue to New Orleans. Over 300 people were arrested and held in Jackson jails and Parchman Penitentiary. Their treatment was horrendous. It sickens me to think about it.

We felt so fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to meet Al and Kredelle. They were so gracious and generous with their stories and experiences, and the young students especially were enthralled. I know I’ll never be the same because of today.

After we left the museum we walked around downtown some more, looking at the architecture. There are some beautiful old buildings in Montgomery, including the First Baptist Church and the First Presbyterian Church buildings. There’s a wonderful fountain in a traffic circle from where you can see the State Capitol building up the street.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of downtown Montgomery, but we started feeling a few sprinkles and decided we had better get back to the RV since we had left windows and vents open. We got home and set up our lawn chairs on our “porch” and enjoyed the afternoon–I eventually came inside and took a short nap.

We ate leftover Spaghetti Puttanesca for dinner, did a little route planning for tomorrow and called it a night.

I checked my work schedule for next week, and sure enough, Julie has me booked up with travel on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so there won’t be any re-entry recovery time. It’s going to be a huge shock to the system, going back to work next week. 😦

Gut-Check Tour – Day 14

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Friday, April 20, 2018 – The Woods RV Park & Campground, Montgomery, Alabama

Today was just a day for staying around home, getting some chores done and taking care of some maintenance items.

I spent my early morning working on some bill-paying and bookkeeping, as well as blog entries. After Andy woke up I did some house-cleaning.

While I was making the bed this morning, I noticed that the vent cover on the fan over the bed had a lot of mildew on it. I told Andy that I would get up on the roof and clean it as soon as the wind settled down a little bit. He decided to tackle it himself, so he gathered the cleaning wipes and paper towels and headed to the roof. He did get it pretty clean, but of course the paper towels and wipes were blowing off the roof, so he had to walk around the park picking up his trash when he finished.

He also decided to try and fix the pantry drawer that wouldn’t shut all the way. He did get it to close but it’s still just a little bit wonky and he says he will probably just replace the slider hardware when we get back home. For now we’re leaving the drawer empty in case the extra weight might damage it further. We have what few grocery items we have left stored in bags.

We both did some walking around the campgrounds for some exercise, and were surprised to find a herd of cows grazing in the pasture right next to the campground. Such a bucolic scene!

Cows!

We also explored the small lake at the back of the campground, and it seems like it would be a perfect place for smaller rigs to boondock or for tent campers to set up.

Lake at The Woods RV Park

We had a big salad and some black beans for lunch, and then decided to go out for dinner. I did some research to find out what vegan options there are in Montgomery, and there aren’t many. I found a Thai restaurant, Noodle Cafe in northeast Montgomery that looked good, so we tried that. It’s about a 15-minute drive from the campground, mostly on freeway, and it’s located in a nice strip center.

I had the pad thai with tofu, and Andy had the fried rice with tofu/no egg/extra pineapple. Both dishes were very good. We planned to order mango sticky rice for dessert, but were told that they had run out–all too typical for Thai restaurants in our experience. Don’t put it on the menu if you aren’t going to have it!!

The campground really filled up last night with lots of big rigs pulling in. It seems like every rig parked near us has at least one dog, and so Maggie and Molly are spending a lot of time at the screen door and the windows making sure they know who’s in charge around here.

Tomorrow is our last full day on the road–so sad! I’m hoping to visit some of the important Civil Rights memorials here in Montgomery, depending on what’s open on Saturdays.

Gut-Check Tour – Day 13

This entry is part of a series recounting our experiences on a two-week RV trip we took to southern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Florida. The goal of this trip was to test ourselves, our two cats, and our rig to make sure we all have what it takes to be full-timers. While we posted highlights of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, these entries are some behind-the-scenes notes on our trip and experiences.

Thursday, April 19, 2018, The Woods RV Park and Campground, Montgomery, Alabama

It’s moving day again, and we’ve arrived at the last campsite of our journey.

I got up fairly early this morning and fixed some refrigerator oats for our breakfast, giving them time to let the chia seeds gel while I updated my journal. We had breakfast and cleaned up the dishes, then I went to get a shower. This time I used the showers in the newer ADA restrooms. These are cleaner and roomier than the ones in the older bathhouse, but only the handheld shower head really worked. The shower head that was fixed higher on the wall was just barely spitting water. Regardless, I got a good hot shower and felt refreshed for the day.

I started getting the inside of the RV cleaned up and ready to move while Andy got his shower, and then he got things ready to go on the outside. This time we did not have any of the issues we had on the last move–he remembered to raise the stabilizers before moving Lizzy off the leveling blocks, and he made sure to disconnect all the hoses and fittings and put them away.

We pulled out just a little after 10:30, but had to stop at the dump station on the way out to empty the tanks. Then we were on our way. I hated to leave Falling Waters State Park, it was such a beautiful spot!

We headed north from Florida into Alabama, and made our lunch stop at Johnny Henderson Family Park in Enterprise, Alabama. This is a beautiful city park that has numerous baseball and softball fields, a lake with swans and a walking bridge, several playgrounds and a splash pad for kids, and a walking track that goes around the lake.

We got a parking spot near the restrooms and had our lunch of salad and pinto beans. It was a beautiful sunny, breezy day with low humidity, so we opened the windows and the door and were completely comfortable without the air conditioner.

After lunch we took a walk around the park on their walking track, and could not get over how gorgeous it was. This was one of the most beautiful city parks I’ve ever been to, and would love to be able to walk here every day.

After our walk we got back on the road. Andy needed to stop for gas for Lizzy, and Apple Maps wasn’t really cooperating with either of us, but we finally got to a gas station where he pumped $100 worth of gas before the pump shut off (37.894 gallons @ $2.639). He doesn’t think she was completely filled up, but it was close enough.

We came into Montgomery from the southeast side, and the part we drove through did not appear to be the best part of the city, although we haven’t seen the rest of it for comparison yet. We got to the RV park just before 4:00 PM, got checked in and assigned to site #205. It’s a typical RV park, with gravel pads, full hookups, and no shade. It’s near the freeway so there’s the background noise of traffic but it’s not that noticeable inside the RV. There’s a small lake at the rear of the property but it’s not visible from our site. They have three washers and three dryers at $1.50 a load. And, they have GREAT Wi-fi!

After we got hooked up and settled in, we relaxed on our front porch for a bit with some wine and snacks, and then I cooked dinner. I made Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca with Chickpeas and Artichoke Hearts, one of my favorite one-pot dishes. I didn’t have any capers to go in it, so we just spritzed it with lemon juice on the plate. It was a good, warm, filling meal, and there’s enough leftovers for our last night here.

The evening was cool and breezy. We tried taking a walk around the park after sundown but it was uncomfortably cold and windy so we only made one loop. We spent the rest of the evening listening to music and reading. There’s nothing I love better than getting into bed with those speakers right over my head playing some good music, and reading a good book until I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s so relaxing!

There’s a lot to see here in Montgomery related to the Civil Rights movement, and I’m hoping that we can do some exploring tomorrow. This is the city where Rosa Parks inspired the bus boycott, where Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored as a young man, and where the Freedom Riders made history. There’s also the first capitol building of the Confederacy which doesn’t interest me at all. Oh, and there’s the Hank Williams museum and memorial. That’s enough to get us out of the RV for a bit.

I’m sad that this trip is almost over! But it has been amazing, and has given me a small taste of what our future life will be like. It will be AWESOME!!