Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rigs everywhere…

We wanted to leave our town early on Saturday morning but as all good plans have happen… Caca Occurs! We got a call from a realtor who said that someone wanted to see our house on Saturday at 1:00 pm.  So we decided to perk up the house before we left for Houston and as a result we didn’t leave our home till after 11:00 am. This pretty much meant we would only be visiting one dealer in Houston, PPL.

We pulled into the PPL lot about 1:00 pm and man was there a lot of motorhomes and 5er’s crammed into this lot.  We had a list of 6 to 7 that we wanted to look over pretty closely as we have been narrowing down what we are wanting in our “perfect rig.”

My last blog apparently stirred up quite a few comments. Some suggested we use the RV Consumer Group evaluations – which we have been doing, thanks! Many wished us luck and reminded us we may have to make concessions as to which I agree.  We are still five months from full timing so we are being patient (maybe overly patient) in trying to find a rig that meets most of our needs. Yet others reminded us of things not to overlook for full timers such as larger holding capacities for grey/black water tanks or making sure we are protected from the winter via basement heaters or double paned windows.

We learned a lot about motorhome that day and we learned a lot about how little storage there really is in a motorhome (especially for large pots/pans and cookie sheets etc).  We also know now that the range of 35-37 feet will meet all of our needs.  We loved the Tiffin’s and the WInnie Adventurers but a few older models caught our attention such as the Rexhall’s. The comment by Margie in my last blog hit the nail on the head when she said “This is such an exciting time.”…

she is right – but it is both exciting and scary :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Searching for that “perfect rig”…

This weekend will begin our true quest for finding our future home… we have done all the research we need to do.  So now it is time to actively and aggressively pursue finding the “perfect” rig for us.  It begins this weekend as we travel to Houston, Texas down to a large RV consigner called PPL.

dinnette no dinnette yes



Currently there are five rigs at PPL that require closer scrutiny.  Up to now we have been narrowing our choices based upon quality for the buck, convenience, preferences, and wants… Now it is time for us to go visit the RV’s on our short list and immerse ourselves in each one of them.  The instructions are simple for our task…

2 door no 4 door yes



  • closely look over the outside of the rig for anything that may bother us (imperfections, bubbles, etc)
  • scrutinize the storage and envision putting our items in the bays (will the chairs fit? what can put in each one…)
  • evaluate each space inside the rig for the “feel of home”
  • visualize ourselves in each space (what would I be doing here in the morning, afternoon, night etc.)
  • what expensive modifications would have to be done for it to meet our needs
  • lastly, does the rig have the “it factor”
As you can see we have our work cut out for us… We hope to have a rig by Christmas if not sooner… wish us luck!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Migrants…

acorn woodpecker As I may have mentioned before I used to be a Biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife and as a result I have always had a passion for nature and the greater outdoors.  I love looking at everything… insects, plants, rocks, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.  Recently on the national news there was a small story about how the migratory birds had started to begin their trek north (about the same time some snowbirders are beginning to plan their trek south :) )Red Billed Gull Ushuaia

Well, this story focused on a well known birding spot along the Texas gulf coast known as the Boy Scout Woods located in High Island, Texas. This is one of the first stops for migratory birds making the long flight  across the Gulf of Mexico. So this means the birds aregentoo penguin and chick now hanging out in High Island fattening up so they will have enough energy to continue their trek north.  I am fortunate as I live in the direct path of two of the migratory flyways that these birds take north. So it won’t be long and I can gaze out into my backyard searching the trees for those birds not endemic to this region. So for now I can always login to Texas ebird to see what other birders are seeing in their counties.  This helps me better know when the birds might start showing up in our region of the state. For now this will entertain us, but soon we hope to be moving about the country much more following some of these birds back to their migratory homes in the Spring…Magnificant Frigates.

Happy birding…

Thursday, September 16, 2010

House update…

What is ahead for us? Well, as everyone who is trying to sell a house knows… the economy is in the crapper! The housing market in our town was never really hit  by the general slowdown in the economy… until we put our house on the market! Then there were stories about slow downs in the local looking forwardeconomy, layoffs, less housing being built. You know when we first thought our house had been sold (which caused us to commence  much frenzied activity) we were beginning to think all the omens had aligned and we were well on our way to full timing… Then the buyers backed out at the last moment leaving us with…  well? A house! Which isn’t a real bad thing since we aren’t retiring until March, 2011… and we still need somewhere to live :)

what's on the other side...What’s on the other side? As a result of attempting to be prepare to move out of the house in July we did a lot of departure related things and have now noticed that the days have begun to creep along slowly.  Many of the things we needed to do to leave our house have been done leaving us to only contemplate our ultimate departure. Since then, however, we are having a fairly steady stream of folks who want to view the home and even had a couple of people who seemed very interested only to ask about owner financing… Ughhhh! PhotoComingSoon

What is the picture of our future? So here we are in mid-September  where I am secretly hoping the house doesn’t sell until 2011… This would allow us one last Thanksgiving and Christmas in the homestead. But, if it sold earlier we would likewise be delighted… so here we are… one of the many future full timers in limbo...

May it work out heavenly for all of us!

Monday, September 13, 2010

One last vacation… a cruise to a far away place…

rhapsody of the seasWell since we are now less than 6 months to our retirement date we decided it would be best if we crammed one more vacation into the time we have left working for the man… After my bride read through my blogs on my two “trips of a lifetime” she wondered when she was going to get her trip of a lifetime.  So this cruise will be it for her… we have booked a 12 day cruise leaving Sydney Australia that will visit five Islands in the south pacific… for her a “trip of a lifetime… ” for me,fun in the sun!

Downtown St. Thomas Now we have done several other cruises in our lifetimes and spent all of that time visiting places in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.  We have sailed together on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland American, and Celebrity. My bride went on Norwegian for an all girls trip and once for an office function.  I sailed on the Le Diamante as I mentioned in an earlier blog as a volunteer for IAATO. We love the white sandy beaches and all the snorkeling the Caribbean offers.  The South Pacific is suppose to offer even better beaches and snorkeling… we can hardly wait!

this is why we do it... The airfare to Sydney is a wee bit pricey but since this a trip of a lifetime for the bride we just got to do it. Frequent flier miles will lucis boatget us to Los Angeles and we will pay for the rest (going to have to work camp somewhere someday to make up for this).  We will spend two and one half days before the cruise in Sydney. There is much to see and do in Sydney; not to mention we will have to recover  from the jet lag. So the bride will get to visit Australia, Fiji (Suva and Lautoka), Vanuatu, Ile des Pins, and Ile Lifou. This should be a fitting reward for her for working for the last 35 years and putting up with me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Been there….done that… by the Mrs…

Texas Reds 09 09057 I love the community we are in. It has been a wonderful place to raise our two children. Situated next to a major university has been great because we love college sports. As an added bonus, my DH has been a statistician for football and basketball so I often am able to attend games for free. The weather is not bad except in August (SOOOO HOT) and in February (GLOOMY, RAINY AND COLD). My job with a local dentist has been very rewarding and the 33-year relationships I formed with our patients still warm my heart.

friends before kids  So what IS the problem? The problem is that this community, my job and I have grown apart. Our friendships were initially other college students; then after children it was the parents of our kid’s friends. Next came camaraderie with travel team parents when our youngest played Gold level softball in Houston. Alas our oldest child married and moved away and our youngest received a scholarship out of state. Over time we have lost touch with many of our friends. In my profession, I have achieved the highest level possible and now find myself feeling the kids restless.. Within the community, sports are still exciting but we have visited and enjoyed every hiking and biking park and identified every bird ever seen here. Texas is vast and to go anywhere else scenic requires a very long travel day or a weekend stay. So that feeling of been there, done that, is stifling me because I love trees, rivers, mountains and especially the beach and the sea. I yearn to leave the feeling of being trapped and starved for diversity.

softball friends Imagine my elation when my DH suggested RV full timing. A home on wheels giving us freedom to relocate and the affordability to see all of our youngest child’s senior season of softball and subsequent graduation. Wow! Of course I jumped on it. So much to see and experience! I accept the sacrifices. The downsizing was initiallyoffice friends shocking to me but in retrospect, it feels cathartic. I love the way the house looks. You just don’t realize the clutter and overage of STUFF you have until you begin to purge. It is really a great  experience because it makes me pay attention to the fact that STUFF does not matter at all. Why did I think it so important to keep acquiring stuff when the relationships I enjoyed have given me the happiest of memories? The new simple lifestyle we are planning for will help me be present in all my relationships as well as the beauty and majesty of nature without the distractions and pressures of our former life. I am so looking forward to enjoying and savoring the experiences I anticipate we will have. For now I have to be content with the promise of tomorrow. Sigh…….this been there done feeling will just have to be the way it is until March 2011.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Toad odds and ends… the analysis…

My toad choices for now are as follows:

- 2010 Wrangler Unlimited Sport RHD 4x4- Net MSRP $28,680 15/19 MPG (or older used model)

- 2010 CR-V EX Total MSRP as built $26,499 21/28 MPG (or older used model)

So the analytical and practical side of me does the following comparison based upon this assumption--> If I drive 8000 miles per year in the city and 12000 per year on the highways the costs of each will be the following based upon $3.00 per gallon fuel costs:


  MPG Miles $ per Gal Cost Total Cost
Jeep Wrangler 15 8000 3 1600  
  19 12000 3 1895 3495
Honda CRV 21 8000 3 1143  
  28 12000 3 1286 2429

So the total cost of ownership for just fuel is $1000.00 per year more for the Jeep. Now we all know the lighter the tow vehicle, the better since this helps decrease the stopping distance since more weight makes it more difficult to stop and requires more gas to tow.  So lets just say that it costs an additional $300 in fuel per year to tow the heavier jeep.  Let’s also assume about $100.00 more to insure the slightly costlier Jeep. Total annualized cost to own the Jeep over the CRV then is my best guess estimate of $1400.00 per year.

crv toad So if it costs $35.00 per day to rent a Jeep when we are in serious 4 wheel drive country then we could rent one for 40 days and it would result in a breakeven amount of $1400.00.

So it sounds like I am going to be the proud owner of a Honda CRV as my toad since I can’t imagine I will do some serious four wheel more than 40 days in a year… will I?

Talk me out of it…

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Toad - Jeep Wrangler 4WD…

jeep and kayak1 I mentioned in an earlier blog that for us a toad had to have the following:

  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

jeep stuck  So why am I considering the Jeep Wrangler 4WD as a towable vehicle? Well in a nutshell because it could be the most fun toad available that meets most of my criterion.. The biggest problem with a jeep is when it gets stuck… baybee it is STUCK!!!

The Jeep Wrangler 4WD can be towed with all four wheels down without any major modifications. This is according to what the manufacturers specifications say. Like the Honda CRV all we would need is a tow-bar and base plate along with a suitable brake system and we are set. The specs are as follows:

  • Base Curb Weight : 3760 lbs
  • Towable with both a manual and automatic transmission
  • Mileage (City/Hwy) : 15/19 
  • Retail price range is  : $20-30 K

See the official site for more information.  I will end this blog with a picture of the jeep I once had when I was a college student living in a trailer house… sure wished I had it now…