Friday, April 29, 2016

A Family Reunion and Wrapping up our last few days in College Station, Texas…


As we near the end of our month long stay in our former hometown of College Station we reminisce about what we have done during this stay. It always amazes us how fast time flies when we return here and this stay was no different. We spent our first week visiting old friends and old places as well as showing our new RV friends around town.


Each week was filled with fun and friends but as also is typical there were a few friends we had hoped to see that we missed this time around. We will make an effort to seek out those we missed seeing this time when we return next year during our next visit. We understand that everyone we know (well most of them) are still in the working phase of their lives and as such their non-working time is limited and precious often making visits a challenge.


We always love visiting here but we both recognize that we no longer consider this town our home. Our home has become our lovely efficiency condo on wheels. Nevertheless we really do enjoy our stay in Bryan-College Station, Texas. When visiting here we highly recommend dropping by the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau for suggestions as to what to see and do. The staff is friendly and helpful with plentiful knowledge about happenings in and around town. Please say Hello to our dear friend, Shannon Overby when visiting. It was through visiting the bureau that we learned about many of our new favorites for Happy Hour craft beer such as Grub Burger Bar, Rough Draft Whiskey Bar as well as tasting some really delicious wines at the beautiful Messina Hof Winery.  Thanks, Shannon!


Our last weekend was highlighted by our full out family reunion of sorts. Our daughter Katie and her boyfriend Brooks flew into town from North Carolina.  In addition our son, Jason, and his family drove up from San Antonio to stay with us for a long weekend. What fun it was having our family all together once again. Seeing our two grandchildren once again was quite a delight and we very much enjoyed showing Brooks around while we got to know him better.  He fits right in and in fact, is making plans to visit us again this winter with Katie!


We attended several events in town such as Earth Day (the kids loved it), we volunteered as parking attendants at Chili Fest (heard great music), marveled at the renovations and upgrades during Kyle Field Day and of course took several walking tours of Texas A&M University. I even spent a good deal of time repairing our rent house including re-building the backyard deck. Evening dinners,socializing with our family, get-togethers with friends and experiencing the friendliness of the people here was a real treat for us making this a really memorable visit. We will see Jason and his family again next weekend in Lockhart State Park but we won’t likely see our daughter until we winter in San Diego.


With only few days left in town we are starting to wrap up our stay here and getting ready for our next stop…

[I am still a bit behind on the blog as we are in Lockhart State Park now… more on that later]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finishing the Repairs on the RV…

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I am behind on the blog (once again) but I will continue the thread with more details about the remaining repair of the damage we encountered after hitting a tree limb (and simultaneously damaging our back end on a rock pile) in Florida. After installing the new satellite dish and the new radio antenna I needed to waterproof these items. I had removed some brackets that were drilled into the roof from the old satellite dish and had to drill new holes to mount the new satellite dish.

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Those new and old holes in the roof must be waterproofed and the best product to do just that, according to Tiffin Motorhomes, is a CSL515 Self-leveling Form-in Place Gasketing Silicone Sealant/Adhesive. Specifically designed for fiberglass and for self leveling this flexible adhesive was perfect for the job.  I ordered mine from Tiffin’s parts store in Red Bay Alabama. Using a caulk gun I was able to apply what was needed to keep the water away from the inside of my roof!

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We also had to deal with a small dent and long scratch on the driver’s side rear two bay doors. All the damage was confined to the lower one inch wide panel at the bottom of each bay. First, I used 80 grit sandpaper on a sanding block to get down to the bare metal. Once I was satisfied with the sanding job I mixed up some Bondo and applied it with a flat scraper to the body to fill in the scratches and begin repairing the dent.  I purchased the Bondo Body Repair Kit from Amazon and it had everything I needed for this small job.

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After each application of Bondo I would sand with 180 grit and reapply more Bondo until I got the desired result. The deeper the dent the more applications of Bondo are needed. When I was happy with the results I used some 300 grit sandpaper to smooth it out before painting some grey primer paint on the door edge. I was able to get matching finish paint from Automotive Touchup by sending in my paint codes.

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However, before I finished the painting I still had to repair about a foot long crack in the fiberglass near the damaged bay doors. I bought the 3M 420 Fiberglass Resin & Repair Kit from Amazon and after watching some YouTube videos I was ready to tackle the job. After cutting out the damaged fiberglass I sanded it to a rough finish (using 80 grit) and then applied the new fiberglass onto the damaged section.

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repairs 002After sanding and then filling the small remaining pockets with some Bondo and some more finish sanding I was ready for the final painting. First I used masking tape and old newspaper to mask off the area I wanted to paint and applied the grey primer to it all. Some light sanding with 300 grit paper and I was ready to apply the finish coats. After each coat dried I used some 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper with water to make the layer smooth. After three layers I then fished it off with some 2000 grit sandpaper.

Although I have never done this kind of work I decided after watching YouTube videos I could do these seemingly more complex repairs. I thought why not try as I figured if I could make it look nice enough then we could later have it professionally finished at our leisure. We will have someone apply the clear coat later as we are both satisfied with the end result of my efforts. It isn’t perfect but you really have to look at it carefully to detect where exactly the damage once was. Now I am ready to get back on the road and have some fun!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Replacing our AM/FM antenna and some running lights…

We had our tree limb accident in Florida and damaged a few items on our roof along with a little body damage.  We decided to call our insurance company to receive a check for the damage and soon thereafter schedule the repairs. Well, insurance claims are not so simple when you are a nomadic full-timer and actually live in your RV. We notified our insurance company shortly after the accident since we were on our way to Louisiana where we had reserved a month-long stay. After their call back we agreed to have an insurance representative come there to assess our damage.

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After a bit of miscommunication, it took about two weeks for the guy to arrive for the inspection. He was a nice, efficient fellow but since he was a contractor for the insurance company he could not give me any information about how long it would take to hear back from the company. He explained he would submit his report and then the company should contact us.

A few more weeks passed and by then we were in Texas for our current month-long stay here in College Station. I kept calling the insurance company discovering there were delays in acquiring estimates as RV parts and repairs are a bit more difficult to get bids for. We finally received our settlement which we felt was pretty fair and even after our $1000 deductible we felt we would have enough money to do all of the repairs especially since I planned to do most, if not all of them,thus saving the labor costs.

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Some relatively easy items to repair and/or replace would be the radio antenna which sheared off the roof and the running lights that were broken by the tree branch. Also I figured I could replace the satellite dish without too much effort. The body damage I would read about later and see if I could repair it as well or at least determine if we needed to have someone else repair it on down the road.

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I had to order the running lights from the Tiffin store in Red Bay and while I was at it I ordered some side lights (that were disintegrating – see top left photo) as well. The AM/FM radio antenna I ordered from Amazon since it matched the other one I had on the other side of the rig. The only challenge I had installing the items was with the antenna. The antenna on the RV had a unique connector (called a Shakespeare Connector) and since I couldn’t find any adaptors locally to connect the Shakespeare Connector to the radio antenna’s connector I simply cut both ends off, stripped the wires back and soldered the two together. A little black electrical tape and I was almost done.

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The lights were simple to install as there were only a few screws to remove and then I cut the wires from the old lights. Using wire strippers I cut back the insulation and then used heat shrink wire connectors and electrical tape to replace the old lights with the new ones. I was happy it looked good as new and was done with no labor costs!

The damaged satellite dome was a King Dome Model 9702 stationary roof mounted one. After speaking with King Dome the recommended replacement for me was the King Quest Model VQ4100 which is a  Portable/Roof Mountable Satellite TV Antenna. I ordered that and will install it next.

I will pen a follow-up blog to detail the remaining repair/replacement process and although there were quite a few delays in the beginning, the timing actually was perfect since this spacious site here at Holiday RV park along with its proximity to all the supply stores I might need has made this an easier process.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sharon Says Some People Still Don’t Get It!!!

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I guess some people just don’t get it.  We are currently spending a month in our old home town of College Station Texas enjoying time with old friends and familiar haunts  At one of these haunts at happy hour one of our long-time friends asked incredulously, “Aren’t you ready to settle down yet…after all you live in a tin can”.  Gee whiz. I was speechless for a moment.  Then I replied that I was NOT ready to settle down nor did I feel I lived in a tin can.   It did make me pause to think about why it is so hard for old friends to wrap their minds around what we are doing.  I guess they saw that we, like many of our peers with growing families went from starter home to big and bigger homes.  So I guess this friend was flabbergasted we could go “backward”.


Upon reflection I remember we started out in a small rental apartment, moved to home ownership with a small trailer house and then sold it for a profit for our first “starter home”.  This was a 1500 square foot house with three bedrooms and two baths (1500 square feet) and was brand new!  We enjoyed that house with our toddler son for 6 years until our daughter was born.  Suddenly in short order, this once loved house soon became too small.  We kept the house as a rental income but purchased a much bigger 3 bedroom home which John, with his building expertise, expanded to a 4 bedroom 2 and a half bath 2400 square foot home.  We loved this house with the large glassed in atrium in the center filled with tropical plants and a pond. It also had a huge front and back yard. It was our American Dream….that is until the kids grew up and left.  How empty and huge it seemed without them there.  What a drag it became to clean and maintain.  I suffered quite a depression in my empty nest.


Next I had the idea we should purchase an RV to give us the opportunity to sell our big empty house, see all of our daughter, Katie’s collegiate senior year softball season then travel together as retirees!  John fully embraced the idea and as he always does he researched, gathered our funds and made a plan.  The house I once loved became the albatross of STUFF we had to sell, a place to spruce up for potential buyers and an overall speed bump to being where I wanted us to be.  With patience and hard work we unloaded the albatross and downsized enough to fit into our new condo on wheels.  Off we went and we have never looked back.


What is not to like?  Yes, it is smaller than any our former homes but I cherish that I have had a different view out of my windows every single month in these last 5 years.  I have seen beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts, meadows, and valleys.  I have met the most interesting and wonderful like-minded people I would never otherwise met had we not chosen this path.  I have no regrets and no desire to stop anytime soon.  I know that friend of mine can’t in any way see nor understand why I like this lifestyle. It makes me sad for him because I love my “tin can” and I wish I could put into words for this friend to not worry about me.  I am more than happy in this simpler, smaller house on wheels than I ever would have been had I stayed here.  How lucky I was I had John who helped us move beyond the maybe to the yes we can! I know there are legions of us that “get it” and love the opportunities offered in this nomadic life.  It’s not for everybody, but it sure is for me…

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring Wildflowers, Lick Creek Park, College Station TX

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Since we always pass through Texas on our trek from the east coast to the west coast to see our grandkids who live in San Antonio we always make sure to do so in the Spring. Spring in Texas is magical and we both feel it is the absolute best time to visit. Despite the occasional severe thunderstorm the temperatures are mild and the vibrant Spring green is evident everywhere. Not to mention Texas is one of my favorite places to see wild flowers and this is the time when they are prolific.

The best known Texas wildflowers are the bluebonnets (the Texas State flower) and there have been years where the countryside is blanketed in fields of blue. That isn’t true this year as there are fewer bluebonnets in southeastern Texas than I can ever recall. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other beautiful wildflowers taking advantage of the mild springtime temperatures in Texas. There are more Indian Paintbrush than I have seen in the past so the fields of blue are fields of red this particular season.

One of our favorite places to go for a long spring time walk in the Brazos Valley is Lick Creek Park.There are miles of trails and lots of wildflowers. Since I have blogged about this park before I will end this post with a series of pictures taken this month at the park…

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