July 3, 2006
This business of establishing a home base has been much more complex then we ever thought it would be. First off the house is much larger then we had originally thought we needed for a base camp. We were looking at 1,000-1,300 square feet, tops. This place is 1,616 square feet. Not a whole lot larger, but an extra 300-600 square feet we have to furnish and keep clean. The good thing is how much we like the house and how comfortable we've managed to be in it, even in the absence of some necessities such as a sofa and chair. Until our new sofa is delivered, we're using our outside Camping World chairs from the motor home. They've proven to be surprisingly comfortable for our evening TV watching and hey, they even recline! Our hats are off to the RV industry for providing us with such comfortable, multi-purpose chairs.
But it's the small details about furnishing a new place that seem to take the most time. Take buying pillows for example. We decided to leave our regular day-to-day (night-to-night?) pillows on the motor home and purchase new ones for the house. Lots of luck. The trick is to find pillows that are comfortable and fit just right when they can't be "road tested" in the store. You stand there with a plastic, vacuum wrapped pillow in your hands, stamped with markings like "hard", "medium", or "stomach" (for people who like to sleep on their stomachs or whatever), but with no place to lay down and actually try the pillow out. The result in our case is that Margo managed to find the perfect pillow on the first try, but I wasn't so lucky. It took the purchase of several pillows before I could find one that allowed a good nights sleep. Now we have some rejects that can't be returned, but will most likely be turned into "guest" pillows.
Then there's the matter of whether or not to continue on with the laptop as a home (base camp?) computer or whether to spring for a desktop unit with a proper monitor. After looking around in the stores, we decided to set up a desktop unit, but on a very limited budget. To cut to the chase, we bought a very inexpensive computer tower, but splurged on a 20" flat screen monitor. After 9 months of looking at a laptop screen, the new monitor is just plain amazing. It's almost like going from a 21" television to going out to the movie theater.
Then there's the matter of the City of Las Cruces. We loved Las Cruces the first time we saw it, but the most pleasant surprise of all, has been the people here. They have to be the friendliest, most wonderful people anywhere. We've lived in California, Indiana and Florida, but never encountered such a collection of friendly neighbors. They knock on our door to offer help, bring bake goods by, and just stop to introduce themselves. It's wonderful but we wondered if it might not be too much of a good thing with people ending up being a little too friendly. We needn't have worried because once the introductions were made, things returned to normal with friendly waves being the most contact we've had. Oh, except for one couple who invited us over for a glass of wine and some conversation.
They're names are George and Lucy and they live across the street from us. They lived in our favorite city of San Diego for over 30 years and George was the Commodore of a yacht club there. Since Margo and I are avid sailors ourselves (we sailed San Francisco Bay for over 20 years), it only took a few minutes of boat talk before we became fast friends. We expect that George and Lucy will continue to be friends as well as great neighbors for years to come.
We were told when we bought this place that we could have a storage shed erected behind the house. Of course we would have to pay for it, but I got to thinking that it would be a great place to build-in a small workbench. In my mind I envisioned a somewhat crude little structure, where I could run in an extension cord for a light and the occasional power tool. Imagine my surprise when we were told that the "shed" would come equipped with a window, two electrical outlets, an indoor light as well as a porch light. The clincher was that the little 10'x10' structure would even be dry walled! We were given the choice of a wood floor or having it built on a concrete pad. We choose the concrete.
So here we sit with our home over in storage while we work to get this new "base camp" set up. It feels strange to be off of the motor home even if it will only be for a short period of time. The good thing is that we know we'll be back in it shortly as we have a trip to Colorado and Indiana planned for next month. The Indiana portion will include a trip to the Monaco factory for some warranty work, as well as a side trip to Indy to see my dad. We both miss the RV and it will be good to be back home again.
July 15, 2006
I don't think we really knew what to expect before we went into fulltime retirement mode. To tell the truth Margo and I didn't talk much about it before we decided to pull the plug. We probably had similar visions of what it would be like, but retirement is like anything else in life that hasn't been done before. It needs to be experienced before a person can decide if it's the right thing for them or if they're doing it the right way.
I think many men picture their retirement years puttering around in their dream workshop crafting future heirlooms, while spending what spare time they might have out on the golf course or rearranging their wardrobe of white belts and pastel slacks. Ladies might see themselves as part of a quilting society or working on a new hobby that will miraculously provide high quality Christmas gifts for the entire family. I don't think those were Margo's or my visions, but you get the idea.
In our case we decided to forgo those types of activities or at least put them on the back burner until we could get up close and personal with this wonderful country of ours. Seeing the country via an RV is really wonderful and full timing is the ultimate RV experience. But as much as we were enjoying full time life on the road, I think we had two things that were starting to bug us.
The first is that when it got right down to it, we really didn't want to give up our dreams of hobbies or "home" life. We thought we could do it but we have too many things that we enjoy doing away from the RV and some of them were things that we had planned to do when we finally got around to retiring.
The second is that maybe fulltime RVing was too much of a good thing. We love spending extended periods on the road, but I think we were both starting to feel like it was too much of a good thing to do it all the time. It's hard to explain, but consider a person who eats in a good restaurant every night. At first it's wonderful and new, but soon it becomes the norm, it's not a special treat anymore. I think that's the way we were starting to feel about RVing. It was becoming mundane and routine when it was supposed to be special. We want to be able to look forward to our time on the road and have it be a special treat. The answer for us is to periodically spend some time off the road thus our new home base.
Our decision to have a home base solves any and all concerns about spending too much time on the road and it automatically puts us in perfect surroundings to enjoy our hobbies, at least on a part time basis. In other words, dividing our time between this place and the motor home just might be the perfect lifestyle for us. It may have taken us nine months of fulltime RVing to figure this out, but if we're being truly honest with ourselves, I think we would both agree that this is the case.
The amazing thing is that we found Las Cruces as the result of our RV travels. We just love this town and can't ever see ourselves taking it for granted. Not a day goes by when either of us doesn't thank our lucky stars that we found this wonderful little community. So here we are, back to making runs to the Home Depot and Lowe's and working hard to get those new towel racks installed perfectly level. HGTV is once again the manual by which we live (at least part time) and deciding where to put the furniture is once again a big deal. Despite all of this we find ourselves missing the motor home more each day. It sits baking in the New Mexico sunshine only a few blocks from us and seems to be calling us back. We run by and check on it occasionally and it still feels like home because it is. But now we have a place where we can fall back and regroup. A place to yearn for the open road and once again make it a special place to be.
August 14, 2006
Our apologies to family, friends and fellow RVer's for being so tardy in performing our usual daily weblog updates. The truth is that we've been very busy with both personal business and working to establish a base of operations for our RV and other travels. Frequent visitors to the website will notice some changes as we make the transition from this being a pure "fulltimer" website to one that is more oriented towards frequent RV travel with the occasional break from the road thrown in for good measure.
Having said that, we're looking forward to departing on our next RV trip which will take place later this month. Our destination will be the Monaco factory in Elkhart, Indiana, birthplace of our Monaco Knight. While there, we plan to have some warranty work performed on the coach as well as to schedule some time to visit both the Monaco and Roadmaster (chassis) factories.
We have an appointment scheduled with Monaco for the warranty work but we're not exactly sure what to expect in the way of service from them when we get there. We've been compiling a list of items to be repaired and this will be our first factory warranty service with any RV. We're hoping for the best but rest assured that we will report the results of our visit right here on this website. We've read many stories about factory warranty service from a variety of RV manufacturers with some being good and some being bad. We promise not to sugarcoat what we find at Monaco.
During our last few months our motor home travels have been limited to having the coach serviced at a Cummins "Coach Care" facility in El Paso, TX (64 miles east) and using the motor home as a pickup truck to transport some bulky items for the new house. There is only so much that will fit in the Mini so the motor home has been pressed into service several times as a somewhat expensive and ill-suited pickup truck. Items carried have included a large rug, a framed print and some 2x4's and plywood from the local home center. It always feels so good to get in the motor home and get it rolling even if the trip is just a few miles down the road and back.
Our service at the El Paso Coach Care Center was great except for having to negotiate the usual crosstown traffic. The service included an oil and filter change, fuel filter change and chassis lubrication. The service wasn't due quite yet but I always like to schedule maintenance before it's due, especially the first service which I feel is critacle in removing residual manufacturing debris from the engine and transmission. The El Paso Coach Care Center has a comfortable lounge for RVer's to relax in while they wait for their service to be performed. There are Coach Care's located around the country and we would recommend them at this point.
Coach Care Service Centers: (http://www.funroads.com/service/coachCare.jhtml)
August 15, 2006
For years we've lugged around a large (and very heavy) wooden box containing hundreds, maybe thousands, of unsorted family photos. Most of the photos are directly related to our family but we also have some ancient pics of people we don't recognize. Some might call it an unsorted family archive. There are snaps of the kids when they were little, shots of us at the holiday table complete with steaming turkey and the inevitable posed family stills with some wise guy (why you looking at me??) forming their fingers into a 'V' giving some unsuspecting person rabbit ears. Every family has these pre-digital photographs stuck away somewhere and they seldom get a second glance.
But not around here. After years of procrastinating on both of our parts, Margo recently started in sorting the pics into groups and artfully arrainging them into photo albums. In our case this is no small job. The entire dinning room and part of the living room have been given over to photo sorting and arranging. When Margo sets her mind on something she works hard until the task is complete and this photo sorting job is no different. We just got back from buying more albums and I think she can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. I thank her for her monumental effort from the bottom of my heart because if it was up to me we would be lugging that old box around forever. Thank goodness for digital camera technology and CD burners!