Sunday, January 25, 2009

MURPHY’S LAW IS ALIVE AND WELL~~~the rant continues!

And another computer bites the dust! At least it is down on one knee and I’m having second thoughts about giving up my America Online internet provider connection. Without it, this morning I would be on Phil’s old Dell trying to post because his new computer is in transit back to us (more about that in a minute). My desktop computer’s Internet Explorer software has contracted a virus of some kind and refuses to let me connect with the internet. According to the on screen pop-up warning, all my links including Google are a danger to my computer. This pop-up (that found its way through my pop-up blocker as if it wasn’t there) tells me I should buy new anti-virus software for “only” $49.95 and as far as we can see, there is no apparent way to close or delete the screen. Of course, I already have every virus, spy-ware, worm and phishing program known to man running but somehow, this thing got by it! We will be looking for a computer repair place in Casa Grande when we get there and hoping we don’t have to go to Phoenix. However, for all you lucky readers … AOL seems to be working fine so I can still get to Blogger and such as it is, post on my blog this morning.

We were supposed to leave for Casa Grande this morning. NOT! When his new computer failed, Phil spoke to the HP facility in Houston and after agreeing to send it in for repair—gave them explicit instructions saying in order to get our current address to call before shipping. We were sure they understood because the representative on the phone repeated the instructions back to him. I must admit I was a little uneasy when I saw they had written “phase D-4” instead of “space D-4” on the address label of the empty box they sent us for shipping our computer. Hmmmm…. was English the reps second language after all, even though he spoke perfect English? Just as a reminder, we also put a cover letter inside the computer, again, telling them to CALL before shipping. Of course, they completely ignored our instructions, fixed the laptop and shipped it Fed Ex over night back to us here in Yuma. Well… guess what? We have to wait four days for the “overnight” to get here (according to their website and tracking number) which puts us two days behind our scheduled departure date. That would be okay except our site rent is paid in Casa Grande beginning today so that means we are also paying a daily rate here in Yuma ($36 – ouch!) for the two extra days, while we wait. I know … it’s not the end of the world just aggravating. Then to top it off, my computer gets a virus! Okay, what’s next Mr. Murphy?

Phil arrived home last Sunday and within five minutes, our 12-volt problems were solved. You can believe I watched and listened this time. If it ever happens again … (even if I have to crawl around on the floor with a flashlight in my teeth) I know I can fix it myself! The most embarrassing part for me was realizing the next morning that the fuse was blown for the bathroom and bedroom only. The lights in the front part of Penny were fine but since I didn’t try them, I assumed they were out as well. As it turned out, I wasn’t completely in the dark after all and that’s how much I know! I have been scanning and sorting and filing and writing all week. We spent some time visiting with our loved ones and getting a good puppy fix from cousin, Nada’s Blessing Way. Phil has picked a good supply of oranges, lemons and grapefruit from Aunt Elaine’s citrus trees but there are plenty left that we worry will go to waste. There is a possibility that her sons might come down for awhile and if that’s true they’ll take care of them I’m sure. We are more than ready to move down the road but with my computer problems, we are glad to have the time at the next stop to get it fixed. Of course, we’re also looking forward to the Gypsy Journal Rally. This is our third rally with Nick and they are always a lot of fun and we just might learn a thing or two while we’re there.

Our dear friend, Don in Payson, AZ. Phil visited him this past weekend and found him looking good and feeling great!

Saying goodbye to my youngest daughter, Bobbie's half-sister (and my former step-daughter) Roxy and her husband Marv at The Happy Greek Chef restaurant in Yuma.

L-R: Phil, Joy, Roxy and Marv.

How could you NOT love this face? Blessing Way (or BW for short) was thrown away like garbage when he was a baby. Rescued by Nada, he is a gentle, loving and very smart young fellow that needs a lot of food (he is still growing) and grooming! This lucky fellow has found the perfect home.

Our cousin Nada and her baby boy dog, Blessing Way posing for his glamour shot!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


You may not have paid it any mind, but for the most part—I try to keep my mood positive when I post my Sunday morning blog. Phil and I are so grateful for our lifestyle, our health and our good fortune—to be able to do what we want to do when we want to do it—it seems childish to complain.

Well, I’m sorry but I am perturbed today! On Friday morning, Phil left on a three-day trip to assist someone we love, take care of a bit of personal business. He will not be back until late this afternoon. I am usually a very competent person and do just fine when he is gone but even I have limits. When Phil worked for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA he traveled a lot. One trip he was gone for almost six months with a short break to come home for Christmas. We talked on the telephone every other day or so and of course, I missed him but I managed just fine. If our big old house gave me trouble, usually I knew what to do. But, if not, he could generally talk me through the fix over the phone or if it was serious we would agree when it was time to call a professional. There was not a lot of them but I did have several problems over the years, including the washing machine that quit pumping, an old car that wouldn’t run, plugged up garbage disposer, leaky pipes upstairs dripping through the hall ceiling, animals that were injured, sick or died and a catastrophic roof leak during a long rainy season that resulted in water coming through the ceiling fixture in the entry.

So … whenever he leaves home for more than a day, I always suffer a bit of well-founded anxiety. Most of the time, all is well and everything is fine when he gets back. Not so this time. Last night when I went to bed, I tried to turn on my bedside 12 volt lamp and the bulb was burned out. The last time I tried to change the bulb, I blew a fuse and Phil had to rescue me but I decided to give it a try. I’m a big girl, right? I can manage a tiny task like replacing a small 12-volt lamp bulb, right? Wrong! First, the shade finial was so tight I couldn’t get it unscrewed (remember I’m doing this in the dark with a flashlight). Okay, get a flashlight and a pair of pliers. The lampshade is off, I then went looking for a bulb. First I stole the one from Phil’s side of the bed. It worked but wouldn’t stay on … I wiggled and turned; it would come on and go off and then I went to Phil’s “junk” drawer and found a new bulb in a package. I went to put it in … it came on for a second then the whole 12-volt system in Penny went dark~~! Oh boy, I’m in trouble now! I can tell you right now, replacing those lamps has moved to the top of the “to do” list!

I do not have a clue what to do now. I looked at both electrical panels and they look fine to me but you realize that ALL of our light fixtures are 12-volt so we are in the dark until the sun comes up. I took my flashlight to bed and decided to sleep on it. This morning, still no clue what to do but fortunately, all of Penny’s plug ins are 110 which is still working, so the really important things, the computer, the coffee pot, the TV and our one lamp have power. I will call Phil in a few minutes and wait to publish this rant until he tells me what to do so I can pass it along to you, dear readers. Oh boy, here comes the sun … let there be light!

Well, I called Phil. Perfect timing, he was up and drinking his first cup of coffee. Now I know where the 12-Volt fuse panel is located (it is hidden BTW) but let’s see now, you have to get down on the floor (not easy with my knees—down is do-able, getting up is a whole ‘nother ballgame) and try to see what you’re doing through your bifocals and guess what? Oh yes, did I mention I’m holding a flashlight? I can’t tell which fuse is blown and if I could, my arthritic fingers cannot pull it out of that tiny little thingy and I’m not going to poke a pair of needle nose pliers (my third hand for everything the past few years) in there. My darling told me, “I guess I’ll have to buy one of those fuse pullers for you.” He didn’t say “Since you seem to have a penchant for blowing 12-volt fuses!” bless his heart. But, even though Phil told me where the new fuses are … this too will wait for Phil to get home. Hopefully, he will arrive before dark.
In the fall of 2007 we experienced this sunset in western Nebraska. I use "my pictures" as my screen saver and everytime it comes up on the computer it takes my breath away. I have no new pictures to share this week so I thought I would show this spectacular vista to you ... THIS dear reader is the sort of beauty we get to see regularly as we travel around the U.S. A. and why we consider every day of our lifestyle so wonderful!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Question of the week: What color was Coca Cola originally? (answer at the bottom of the post)

The sun is shining this morning and at 8 am it is nearly 60 degrees. The wind has died down after a three day blow and it would be nice if it stayed this way for the next two weeks before we leave Yuma on the 25th. Phil has raised and lowered our awnings so many times since we’ve been here, he has his awning expertise fine tuned and I think he could do it with his eyes closed. We have rented a private lot for a month just down the road from the Pinal County Fairgrounds outside Casa Grande where the Gypsy Journal Rally is being held. Had we known, we could have saved a little money by buying day passes but by the time we found this site to rent, we had already sent in the check for our tuition. I suppose Nick would have given us a refund but we realized it is more fun to park with all the other rally attendees anyway so decided not to ask.

We have had a very quiet week. Our only excitement has been Phil’s new laptop (purchased in Sept. 2008) computer going into the shop at Circuit City. He has been using his old laptop since then and is reminded continuously why he bought a new one. He finally uninstalled AOL which has helped some. Using them for our internet provider the past four years is a tale I won’t bore you with except to say it will come to an end this coming April. That will be a $240 raise for us per year. (Hey! That’s a tank of gas!) Like I said, it is a long (somewhat embarrassing) story!

Without any particular comings and goings when I think about what to put in the blog I have “too many choices.” However, I must remember that what I think to be fascinating is quite possibly of little interest to the people who read this blog for “travel” news. My recent report about my plans to work on digitizing my genealogy files has been put on hold for a few days because it seems I did not install my new HP 3-1 printer properly. I don’t know this for sure but it appears I didn’t “check” a certain box to install the OCS part of the new software so consequently, it will not scan text that will be editable—photos yes but that is only part of my files. That is a deal breaker for me so if uninstalling and reinstalling (correctly) the software doesn’t fix the problem it looks like my printer will be going into the shop as well.
We have dear friends in Tennessee that recently informed us they have made the decision to sell out and go fulltime. They have been our cheerleaders and constant companions since the day we started down the highway; meeting them through our blog then getting together in person when we stopped to see them on a trip through TN in 2005. We spent 90 minutes on the phone the other night and they asked us many questions. We did our best to give them good quality info even though, in the big scheme of things, Phil and I are new-bees. There are many, many fulltimers that have been on the road for 10-15 or more years. We have found that the longer we live this lifestyle, the more we like it and that seems to hold true with the genuine fulltime pioneers. We shared as much of our expertise as we could and volunteered to be available for anything else they wanted to know—we are very excited for them.
Answer: Green (eeewwwwww! Yuk!)

Until next time ...

January 7, 1984 my dear niece (and namesake) Julie and her new husband Doug.

Happy 25th anniversary!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

SAYING HELLO (in my own way) TO 2009

As I begin this 70th year of my life, I am amazed looking back (again) and realizing how fast the time has gone by. The other [revolting] development I have noticed is that each year goes faster than the last which seems to coincide with my advancing age … hmmmmm? I guess that means the older I get, the faster time will pass which brings me to this tidbit of advice we have on a small placard inside Penny the Pace: “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave in a well preserved body. Rather to slide in sideways, with a drink in one hand, a chocolate in the other, totally worn out and shouting, holy #$%&, what a ride!” For myself, so far—so good … how are you doin’?

We have been living full time in our motorhome, Penny the Pace since 1 October 2004. However, we did not actually start rolling down the highway until after Thanksgiving that same year. Since then we have chalked up some significant additional miles on our already lovingly-used Penny. I don’t track every penny we spend and I have never shared our statistics before but have decided this year to give you a few loosely calculated numbers in case you are curious about our lifestyle and certain expenses. Of course, every RVer is different and you pretty much live the same way you lived in the sticks and bricks once you go fulltime so you must realize these numbers are very individual to the way Phil and I move through our lives. About the only “vice” we continue to embrace is our love for seeking out great restaurants as well as frequenting “Drive ins-Diners-and Dives” (one of our favorite Food Network shows) so feeding the two of us is literally the biggest part of our budget.

After our first couple years, we reduced our miles traveled annually and with higher gas prices we have been moving more slowly so our gas budget is low compared to some. We have solar panels (and a big generator) on board and satellite internet and TV so we could park in the boonies for as long as the whim held our fancy with the purchase of a blue boy (tow-able septic container) to dump the waste water tanks. However, in due course we discovered our original notion to live off the grid for extended lengths of time was not our preference so our RV park expenses might be higher than for more frugal travelers. We do belong to several RV camping clubs and Phil is a member of the B.P.O. Elks in our former home town and many Elk’s Clubs across the country have low cost RV parking, so we have gotten better over time at finding more economical places to park. Our recreational activities are a small part of our budget and include Phil’s fishing, my genealogy work and writing as well as sightseeing across the country even though it sometimes includes a hefty ticket price. Our discretionary needs are few as we are both pretty content in our own skins and doing “nothing” (reading, surfing the net, napping and watching TV), sometimes for days at a time is not uncommon in our lives, ~just like before we retired~LOL! As always, I will be very interested in your comments!


Gas purchased (approximate): 456 gallons—our mileage divided by Penny’s average consumption: 8 MPG (with prices all over the board—I didn’t keep track of the cost)
Parking Penny the Pace: $ 5,243 (about $14.50 per day or $439 a month and this includes utilities)
Daily cost of food (eating out and groceries purchased): $ 7,450 or $21.00 per day
How many times we moved Penny: 22 times
Miles traveled: 3,651

Until next time,

We do not buy gifts for each other at Christmas but we could not resist this adorable solar light for our dear Penny that we found at the Yuma Farmer's Market.
Penny the Pace and her Christmas present, a solar powered porch light.