Saturday, May 29, 2010


Saturday, May 29, 2010

So just when I thought i was going to get to do some research on toads the stuff hits the fan.  My next blog was to be about the Subaru Outback my other potential toad... but nooooooooooo... that all got changed by a phone call!  You see some time ago I put a bunch of photos of our house along with a description on because I was getting things ready to put my house on the market. This is a real estate site that lets you list your property for free and has different pricing structures for more services.  Well the really cool thing about this site is the fact they let you list a "Make me move!" price when you first set it up... so I did!  So I put a make me move price on the house and that was over 3 months ago but recently I get a call from a  lady who says she saw my ad and wanted to know if I really wanted to sell the house... of course I said "Yes!"... so she wants to see the house on Tuesday.  So that sounds great ehhhh... well you see the house is not nearly ready for a showing because it still needs about 50 hours more work to get it ready.  Tuesday is only 72 hours away... not good ... lots of work to do...


So we spent much of this fine Saturday scouring floors, mulching beds, moving stuff to the garage for the future garage sale... and 8 hours later we both felt like someone beat us up... so here we are and we get to do it all over again tomorrow. But there is a bright side. Even if they don't want the house this made us accelerate getting it ready so we can officially list it for sale sooner than we planned. So after a few cold adult beverages and a good burger  at a local tavern we are now re-energized and ready for another grueling day tomorrow... wish us the best...

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Currently we own a Toyota Camry and an old beater of a pickup truck. Neither of which will provide us a toad that will do what we want to be able to do. So what do want in a toad?

  1. It has to be able to go off the road – not extreme off roading but capable of going on neglected dirt roads
  2. gas mileage should be over 20
  3. it has to be light weight
  4. it has to be readily towable with all four wheels down
  5. it needs adequate storage
  6. it needs to be capable of carrying two kayaks

The lighter the tow vehicle, the better since this helps decrease the stopping distance.  More weight makes it more difficult to stop. The cost of acquiring a toad doesn’t stop at buying it… one can expect to add upwards to $3,000 to get your toad towable. So what is needed to make it towable?

  1. A tow bar : Typically the tow bar is mounted to the toad and connects to the RV by a 2″ trailer hitch. Blue Ox is a very popular brand of these.
  2. A wiring harness : All lights on the toad need to be connected to the RV. This is so the signal lights, brake lights and tail lights all operated correctly.
  3. A braking system : A braking system allows the toad’s brakes to be applied when the RV’s brakes are applied. Braking system help eliminate jackknifing during any sudden stops. Brake Buddy is a popular brand of these.
  4. A drive shaft disconnect : A drive shaft disconnect allows the toad’s wheels to spin freely when the transmission is in park. or a lube pump : If the toad is an automatic, significant damage can occur if the moving parts in the transmission aren’t lubricated while moving. The lube pump will circulate the transmission fluid while you are in neutral and in tow.
  5. Some type of deflector shield : This will protect the toad from rock chips or any other debris that the RV throws up from its tires.

N ow on the RV itself you want to be sure to check the rating of the hitch receiver to know what it is rated for as the heaviest load it can tow.  This helps determine what toad you actually want to get. The toad I am leaning towards is a Honda CR-V AWD.  It can be towed four wheels down without any major modifications having to be made. We will need to buy and mount the tow-bar and base plate and then install a braking system on it. We also need to follow all manufacturers specifications while towing this toad.

  So why the Honda CR-V AWD?


It has a base curb weight of only 3500 lbs. It is towable with both a manual transmission and with an automatic transmission. It gets good gas mileage of 23/30 (City/Hwy). The only limitation is the manufacturer suggest the max speed while towing is 65 mph.  Guess that means I won’t be able to take it for tow in Daytona for a lap or two… :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

their loss... was our gain…

Well we made the fast dash into Florida but we had decided to leave after work on Tuesday to shorten the 800 plus mile day we had planned on driving Wednesday. So we drove into Lafayette, La and spent the night before heading out on Wednesday. Since we were passing through Lake Charles we decided to stop by the casino L'Auberge du Lac and take a break. This is the nicest casino in Lake Charles and we needed a bit of fun before moving on. We are not big gamblers but for $20.00 or less we feel we get adequate entertainment by gambling a wee bit. Well the omens were starting to tell us this was going to be a good trip as we played for about 40 minutes and we turned our $20 into $100! Good for gas money for the trip!

 Gulf-FritillaryDay two of the trek ended with us in Lake City, Florida. Along the way we stopped at Berryland Campers in Ponchatoula, LA. Here we saw our first 2006 Suncruiser Class A Motorhome 35U by Itasca by Winnebago RV.  I had always thought this model might work for us and being able to walk through one just convinced us that this model can also make our short list (another good omen). Now I will have to read up on it too see what the web wisdom has to say about its drivability and track record.

Day three put us in DeLand Florida where we got to watch the Atlantic Sun post season tournament.  Our daughter had a good tournament but unfortunately the team lost both their games and were thus eliminated from further post-season play. This will be the first year our DD won't get to play in the NCAA regional's.  But as I said in the title... their loss turned into our gain. But first we had a nice dinner with our DD before they headed back to campus the next morning.

cape canaveral ship channel at peaceSo what were we going to do now that our daughter’s team lost and she had left?  We have a few days to kill before going back home so we had to figure out what to do in Florida. Well as the omens were telling us this was to be our lucky day. I was watching the morning news on day four and guess what was going to happen today that we just had to go see? The shuttle Atlantis was going to launch into space on its last journey at 2:00 pm. We just had to go see this and it was on my bucket list! So we left early and headed to the Canaveral National seashore, packed a lunch and some adult  beverages, and spent the day on the ship channel by a draw bridge. Another omen appeared as we were gazing over the blue green waters and spotted large groups of manatees... something that was on my bucket list to see also. Score! So we laid in the sun and had lunch and watched the manatees and kayakers share the water with million dollar yachts and the like... as 2:00 o'clock got near we made our way up to our vantage point on the draw bridge where you could see the launch pad off in the distance.  This was as close as we could get without entering restricted air space.  As an added benefit the draw bridge tower blasted out live radio of the launch which made the day even better as we now knew what was going on and could participate in the countdown... and then  it began...  10...9...8... and then 3... 2... 1... and then "We have liftoff"... and then simply AWESOME... AWESOME BABY…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another break... Florida bound…

Well just when we were gearing up to get all of our stuff marked for our upcoming garage sale my daughter’s team did the unexpected and actually qualified for the year end conference tournament. This weekend was to be our first garage sale to get rid of more stuff unsellable on craigslist.  Instead we will be headed to Florida to watch a softball tournament in the northern part of the state. miami guard stand Last week it seemed the task was insurmountable for her team to qualify for one of the six remaining berths in the tournament. But as the week unfolded it seemed as if each team did exactly what it took to allow her team to make it into the tournament…. and so they did… and so we won’t be having a garage sale this weekend. If I don’t sound too disappointed, it is because I am not… I HATE  garage sales. :)

So now the plan is to drive the 1000 or so miles over to Florida.  I hope this is the last of the long drives I make that are time dependent.  My future drives will hopefully be shorter – less that 300 miles – and never be time dependent… Some conversation my future should have…

“Hey Honey I really like it here do you really want to leave tomorrow?”… She says “Not really let’s just stay, I like it here too.”

or this conversation is one I hope to have…

“Hey that park we just passed looks intriguing why don’t we just stop here and stay for a few days or a week”… “Okay, sounds great.”

In the meantime it will be an 835 mile dash on Wednesday to get us into Florida so we can have a very short morning drive over to the tournament and catch her first game…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I checked on the blog today and what was I greeted with?

The days left until we retire...299 days to go until we are FREE!

We finally broke through that 300 day barrier.  Now I recognize that 299 days is still a long time but I also recognize that this number represents the longest it will take since we are not dependent on a  specific date.  We are more dependent on other things such as whether or not we are ready to travel, what the weather is like where we are and where we intend to go to, what our daughter’s fast pitch schedule is like and where she will be playing.  So in actuality we are more realistically looking at anytime from mid-to late January to March 2nd for the retire date. So on the closest side it is about 255 days or so…. sounds better doesn’t it? ;)  Then we will be ready to be free as bird...


So in the meantime all we have to do is:

  • have garage sale number 1
  • put the house up for sale
  • sell my truck
  • have the house inspected and appraised
  • have garage sale number 2 (optional – depends on #1 sale)
  • sell the house
  • buy a rig
  • move into an apartment or the rig if we have one
  • buy the toad (Honda CRV or a Jeep for now)
  • modify the RV
  • sell the Camry
  • have our last garage sale
  • get the heck out of dodge

So much to do…  so little time…

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Things I have learned about tires…

Reading through the many blogs one becomes painfully aware of the fact that between you a good time is where the rubber meets the road… it is your TIRES! Tire blowouts are apparently no fun at all and can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the underside of your trailer or rig when they occur.  So what did I learn form reading all the blogs that talk about their experience with blowouts?

Three key things:

  • Learn how to determine the age of your tires
  • Install a Tire Monitoring System or develop a plan to always check tire pressure
  • know what to do if you have a blowout before you have one

Why do I need to know the age of our tires? Well the older the tires are is one of the key factors that contributes to tires failing. Blog wisdom suggests that If your tires are more than seven years old they need to be replaced. So how do we know how old they are?  We need to know what the DOT number is on the tires (Easy to remember if you think DOT=date of tire :) DOT numbers are usually on the inside sidewalls so use a flashlight to find them. The last three to four digits of the DOT number tell us how old the tire is. If the DOT has three numbers they are older tires and the first two tell us the week of the year that the tire was made while the last number tells us the year it was made. Newer tires have four DOT numbers. Like before the first two numbers are the week it was made and the last two tell us the year. How useful is this! I was looking a a 2005 Winnebago Journey recently and was told the tires were less than two years old.  After looking at the DOT numbers on the tires and seeing 2104 I knew I was being told untruths too since the DOT number told me the tires were made on the 21st week of the year 2004.  This small untruth meant that I would need to spend two to three thousand dollars to replace tires on top of the price of the rig.  Also, it suggested there may be more untruths being told to me about this rig … needless to say I didn’t buy it.

Also, I plan to install a PressurePro Tire Monitoring System on my future home as well.  Again the blog wisdom suggests that no RV should be without a tire pressure monitoring system.  And from what I have read the PressurePro System is one of the best. It consists of a monitor and tire monitoring sensors.  The sensors screw onto the tire valve stems in place of the the valve caps. This allows us to always see the tire pressures before traveling and while traveling on the road we could be alerted when tires experience low pressure helping us avoid costly and dangerous tire blowouts. A must have in my opinion…

… and a last item about tires that is good to know is to better understand what to do if you experience a blowout…