September 29, 2013

Oil Leak Update - No News

The day started with rain and it has rain lightly all day. I didn't feel like working outside even under the RV to figure out the oil leak problem in today's weather, but a couple of comments, a few emails and a couple of phone calls led to some pretty good advice. I will start tomorrow after work while it's sunny and dryer than today.

One consistent thing said by all that replied, email or called .... they did not think it was anything serious. If fact it might not be oil at all...possibly power steering fluid from the connectors that connect the hard line to the black hose. I did not know from the pictures those were lines to the power steering.

Yesterday when I saw the leak, I went immediately to check the fluid levels of oil, power steering fluid and brake fluid .... all were at normal levels, so nothing on the dipsticks showed I was losing a massive amount of fluid.

Tomorrow I will get home late afternoon and clean up all the sprayed fluid residue and anywhere else that is not dry. Then I will put some cardboard underneath this area to see what drips for the next 24 hours. If there are no drips on Tuesday afternoon, I'll take a short 20 mile round trip and then look again and check the same area for any leaks or blown residue.

Once that last check is done on Tuesday afternoon, I'll go from there.

The seller did call me today and said he had not seen any kind of leaks like that, the 7 months he owned it. He did say the only trip they made was a 800 mile trip to Mississippi and back to Indiana about a month ago. So, one trip in 7 months, that's a lot of time being parked. Maybe it's just a seal that need to be reseated after being driven?

Probably nothing more than just coincidence I had a leak right after I bought it. I don't believe the seller was trying to hide anything in the transaction. I did not notice anything the night I test drove it and I didn't notice any leaks on his drive where it was parked.

So it sounds like a minor problem and should be an easy fix.

I deleted my post about my old blog url being back in use. From that post I received over 2,300 views and most of those were spam emails from anonymous senders. Since the number of views has increased today after I had changed my comment settings, I decided I would delete the post for good.

September 28, 2013

More Downsizing & A Surprise

After waking at my normal time around 7:30 am, a cup of coffee while the hounds are outside checking for any overnight visitors in their yard, I went through a long list of stuff to do this weekend. The list is long and I need to get started early just after this cup of coffee. There are two demons that may jump out at me that may make it hard to accomplish anything. These are a couple of photos I took at 7:30 as the sun was trying to get over the trees. It looks like my neighbor's corn is a few weeks away from being picked. Cool temps this morning.

The hounds are always doing their morning search of new smells around the perimeter of the yard...except Heidi who is the sleep monster of the crew and is not even out of bed at the time this picture was taken. She seems to always know when its a weekend and she can sleep late. That is why only 2 hounds are pictured.  

A few people are telling my by email that I am crazy for thinking of selling my house with the property that surrounds it. That is why it's always been a hard decision for me in deciding whether to sell the house or not and what vehicles to sell.

The 1st demon I warned you about jumped out as I was drinking coffee. The INTERNET ... reading email, blogs, sports blogs, sport forums, rv forums, get the picture. Before I  knew it 11am was almost here.  I hate when that happens. I know when I have things to do on a weekend, I have to go straight to the list and don't even look at the computer. There's always tomorrow.

So a late start. I wanted to check on the manufacture date of the tires. I knew I was looking for a 4 digit number that would be the week and year. The tread on these tires were new, hardly used, no cracking or dry rot on the side walls. Seller said they were a couple of years old. I even used a small led flashlight that night I looked at the rv tires. I later found that 4 digit number not on the back side of the tire but the front side of the tire, so that information from the rv forum was incorrect I guess.

The date of manufacture did not matter to me because just for my own peace of mind I was planning to installing brand new tires on any RV that I would buy. Since you have read this far you need to know the date....July 2006 .... which makes them at that 7 year mark and needing replacement. I am glad I was planning to install new tires anyway. Still the date surprised me a little.

Here is the SURPRISE ...

As I was crawling under the rv, I wanted to see where all the tubes and tanks were connected and I wanted to do a little more in depth inspection just out of curiosity.

What I saw next was not what I expected. Oil residue all over my oil pan, the new oil filter that was changed less than a 1,000 miles ago and a couple of hoses that looked fairly new...

I kept moving forward to where I thought I was at the front of the engine, when I found the source.

I am NOT a mechanic but it seems there would have to be quite a bit of oil leaking to have that much blowing residue on the oil pan, filter and hoses. I am guessing its a seal that needs to be replaced. Hopefully one that can be replaced without pulling the engine.

I have sent these pictures out to a couple of friends of mine that are 'gearheads' and see what they say. I will definitely call the local truck mechanic and have him take a look on Monday.

I don't think its anything major but what concerns me are the "little" discrepancies" I am finding after buying the rv compared to what the seller told me....such as:

1. "I have had this rv for a little over a year, bought it a year ago spring".... title says he bought it just 7 months ago in February 2013. Makes me wonder if he sold it because of the bed size and location like he said or this leak.

2.  "Tires were put on just before I bought it, they were new so probably a couple of years old at the most".... good tread, no cracking or dry rot on the sidewalls, but a manufacture date says the 28th week of 2006...mid July 7 years ago. Time to be replaced.

3. "I'm old school when it comes to maintenance, I like doing all my repairs and change the oil every 3, 000 miles".....if I were doing all my repairs I think I would have noticed this leak.

Could it had just happened....coincidence with purchasing? Yes it could.  When I said in my post last week that I had looked underneath it, I did no crawling....just looked underneath for anything out of the ordinary, saw the new Blistein Shocks, no damage on the skid plates, no leaks around the tank connections....I just didn't crawl far enough to find this....if it was there last Wednesday.

So I will move this leak as my top priority and get it fixed before anything else. After that I'll have new tires installed. 

I will close with saying, the 2nd demon showed up around football on tv.  By that time I had found the oil leak, had cleaned the house and looked around at more stuff to sort, sell or give away.....finding out "stuff' multiplies while you sleep during downsizing. I have not bought anything new ....but the more I look the more I's like I ever started downsizing this past year.

After all that I found by 3pm, I decided I deserved to kidnapped by the college football demons and call it a day.

September 27, 2013

Loading the Rig and Downsizing Thoughts

I had to take time out today when I arrived home from work for something I wasn't excited about anymore. The yard needed mowed. The shrubs will get their annual trim tomorrow. This is an activity I use to really enjoy. I have a push mower and it takes about 45 minutes to finish, nothing major. Anymore it's a task I dread. Either its too hot and humid that you can barely breath or its cool and dry where there is more dust in the air, so it's hard to breath. I guess the real culprit could be me, being out of shape!  Anyway, I haven't enjoyed mowing much the past few years.

I decided earlier in the week that I would start moving things to the rig as if I were getting ready (I actually might be) to head west.  I did this for various reasons.  I wanted to see how it felt moving stuff out to the rig from the house and see if at any part of this moving I would feel hesitation or doubt. I also wanted to see just how much of my traveling list that I could fit in the rig. Before I get started it looks like I will have plenty of room for storage. The last thing I wanted to see, was how much stuff would be left in the house that would have to be sold, given away or taken to the goodwill.

Since 2011 I have downsized in different periods of effort (motivation) or as my mind changed.  I would say I am really down to just one room where I am sitting now. It has my computers, indoor bicycle stand with bike mounted, a closet full of my sports jersey collection, winter clothing and jackets and more stuff to throw away. I have downsized A LOT over the past year....still looks like a lot to go.

A lot of the furniture is spoken for when I leave, lamps, tables sold, other stuff sold and will be picked up when I leave. Tonight I see a lot of stuff that can be sold on eBay. I see some things that may be stored in a box somewhere.

In the meantime I have hauled a lot of stuff to the rig. I have a plan in mind that I will follow. I'll keep you updated on how this progresses. There should be more answers as I get into the process.

I will leave you with this though. I think at least the hounds are ready to travel fulltime. Why do I say that? How do I know?

Every night this week, I have left the coach entry door open as we do the daily hound walk through the hay field in back. On the return about 100' from from the yard I stop and unhook the basset and the bloodhound from their leashes...Winston, the old hound walks without a leash. So, EVERY night this week after being unhooked from their leashes, all three hounds sprint (ever see a basset run?) toward the house but all make abrupt left turns jumping into the open coach entry and all are inside the rig by the time I get to the door.

What do you think?  Are they ready?

Two days ago when I pushed the domain name to my blog I started getting hundreds of anonymous comments from spammers. I have had to adjust my comment setting to not allow anonymous comments. I apologize to those that are honest people but are blocked from commenting.

September 26, 2013

Even Where the RV Sits My Options Increase

I was telling a friend today, this past week I have been having thoughts that I had in October 2011 after reading Glenn's story on Yahoo Business page. Of course if I were paying what he was in rent in the Los Angles area I may have had the same thoughts that Glenn had when he started his downsizing.

With the RV sitting here next to the house, it opens up a lot of options and one option that I had not thought about until my friend that is a fulltime traveler, blogger on the side bar and a reader of my blog, brought up a new option. Load the RV as if you were getting ready to leave, then if you are serious about selling your house again, it is empty, move in ready while I live in my RV right outside using house power and house water (if desired).

While driving home from work (no traffic jams), I was thinking also....I had always wondered if I did get rid of everything except what I was wanting to travel with, would that put me on the road without just "trying it".....just going for it full speed ahead. Like a follower has told me more than a few times in his comments ... if it doesn't work out, you can always go back and start over with what you have left.

It also hit me last Sunday afternoon when I returned home from the hounds's shakedown cruise and I am up on the roof cleaning out the gutters as well as seeing some missing shingles from the last high wind/thunderstorm. I remembered how many times in a year I do this exact same thing, clean gutters and repair the roof from high wind storms. During my walk around house inspection I could see things I need to do to the house in preparation for the winter. I realized once again that I am tired of normal house maintenance and yard work.

My spreadsheet analysis even shows that selling out and fulltime to be the best option. That is even a better option than retiring, keeping the house and not RVing.

Could the answer be that obvious?

I have discussed this many times on whether to sell everything or not via emails, blog comments, phone calls, etc. I know that the right decision is what works for me.

September 24, 2013

Some Backyard Training

With a job I have to put up with until May 2014, I am not able to do much camping during the week, still that doesn't stop the training for the hounds and I. I have not taken any pictures of the hounds while we are in the Class C at night because I need the flash to do that and they will wake up from their deep sleeps, in some cases snoring occurs.

I know it's only been not quite four days since the purchase but I really think I can say by their response and actions of the three hounds .... they love this RV. If they hear the keys, as they go out the house door all three of them head for the coach door wagging their tails waiting for it to open.

Sadie the bloodhound takes her seat on the couch, Heidi under the table on her blanket and Winston the oldest basset on the blanket in front of the refrigerator.  Tonight though I caught him sleeping in the driver's seat. I guess he figured if I wasn't going to drive, he was.

Daily after work I try to spend as much time as I can looking at as much as I can to learn everything about this rig. I am learning more and more each day. (remember I'm a rv rookie) Then we sleep with the windows open, mid 40's by the time I get up to start the day of work... all is good. The hounds have adapted very quick to the change in sleeping location and still know when it's a day of work for me. After more number crunching, the best time for me to leave will be May 2014. I would love to leave earlier but everything seems to be falling into place for a May 2014 departure, could be a couple of months earlier. Those months will fly by, I still have more things on my downsizing list to take care of before I leave.

Some blurring nighttime photos ... I didn't realize my hands moved that much trying to hold the camera still.

September 22, 2013

Shakedown Cruise With the Hounds

First of all I really appreciate all of the great comments that have been posted the past couple of weeks and especially the past couple of days. It may start being hard for me to reply to each one due to the increase in comments, but I will. I wanted to let you know that I do read all of them, I note your suggestions and appreciate them.

Second ... since I have finally bought a rig, even though long term travel may not happen until next spring, I will return to blogging every couple of days or when events occur while the RV (no name yet) sits here teaching me all it can before I leave next spring. When I said I was going to stop blogging after my Arkansas trip, I really didn't think I would be buying a rig this soon so that is why I didn't know when I would return to blogging.

I have posted some different pictures on a couple of Facebook groups I follow, so some of the pictures I post here may be duplicates to those that are either in the Bloodhound Group or a few different RV Groups that I have joined.

The hounds seem to really like the rig. No hesitation going in and all three have claimed their spots. Saturday afternoon was a "get acquainted" day for them. I left everything as was, no furniture throws, no blankets ... just as is and let them sniff away. Last night we all moved out to the rig, opened the windows and spent the first night in the backyard. There were no problems, and they acted as if they were in the house sleeping during the night.

Based on the Bloodhound Rules (linked in the Labels on the right), Sadie decided the couch was hers.

This morning I wanted to take them on a shakedown cruise, maybe 2-3 stops along the way. To all that have commented in the past weeks with suggestions on handling the hounds on the road, some suggestions were implemented with successful results. All three hounds had on their 6' standard cloth leash attached while driving. At 51 miles I had found a spot to pull off the highway in a closed business parking lot. I stepped from the cab, walked to the living room door and walked out BEFORE them...when I said "stay", they all stood there wagging their tails ready to go outside. 1st one out was Sadie, the bloodhound...she stepped out, stopped and then waited for the other two. Out of curiosity and not being near traffic, I let the other two bassets out, holding their leashes as they stepped down the steps. All three hounds did not run....simply started walking with their noses to the ground.

After about a 10 minute walk with no problems, no leash tangles, some switching hands..I dropped the leashes to the ground and said "get in". The bloodhound being a typical bloodhound....went first, sat down inside and waited for the bassets. The other two hopped inside and went to their chosen spot. 27 miles later, saw a place to pull over .... same "fire drill" with the dogs....same successful results.

We returned home after 110 miles, with absolutely no issues. Between today and the trip in the H3 Hummer 2 weeks ago, it was like night and day.

First impression ... I really feel good about buying a Class C instead of towing a small trailer with the H3. I know there is a lot more to go and longer time on the road, but right now there seems to be enough room  for the hounds and I while inside. On those good weather days, we will be outside the majority of the day.

The rig itself ran great as expected through the hills of southern Indiana corn country (yes south of Indianapolis a lot of hilly country). The pictures just show the corn country, not the hills. I know the rig has the new Blistein shocks installed and that probably makes a difference, but this rig rides so much smoother than the other I test drove over the past year or so.

It finally rained Friday night so that was just one of the reasons I wanted to lower the awning and see what was there. There were different rows of water on top and inside the awning. The awning was in great shape as well as the awning structure. I wiped down everything, left the awning up for the day to air out, opened all the roof vents, windows and let the nice cool air today flow through the rig. The awning was easy to lower, luckily all of the original manuals are with the rig along with the owners manual. We rookies need all the help we can get when it comes to rig operations.

So I am at the point of familiarizing myself with the rig and all the accessories included. After spending almost two years reading forums, emails, asking questions it is amazing how much you can't remember when it's time to apply all of that knowledge. Luckily all the important stuff is in my notes or sites that are bookmarked. This is why I want to use my backyard as my classroom as well as local trips as much as possible before leaving next spring. I would love to be in Quartzsite AZ or Borrego Springs CA this winter but I'm not sure if I will be able to leave that soon.

After a tough day, Heidi decided a nap in the sun would be perfect.

Sadie is practicing her "stay command" ... no leash attached while in the backyard. You can see her enthusiasm.

In summary, everything about the decision to change directions in what type of rig to buy feels good. The hounds seem happier than they did in the H3 and I like driving the rig. Now, to decide to tow or not and if so, which vehicle to tow. I am already receiving different feedback from people on that question.

September 21, 2013

A Completed Transaction!!! 2004 Coachman Freedom 258db

A deal has been completed!!! 

The hounds are ready and excited to travel in the new vehicle.

After returning home 11 days ago, 1,100 miles without the trailer I was planning to buy, I wondered and doubted my rv plans. My last blog post said I would not blog again until I was traveling. I didn't know when that would be because at the time I felt there was no way I could travel with my bloodhound. That assumption was based on traveling in my H3 Hummer and towing a trailer. After a couple of days of getting away from blogs, 4sale sites, pictures of traveling, etc ... I returned to read my blog roll, look at some Class C's and Class A....but no trailers. These were the types of RVs I was considering in 2011 and 2012 before I thought of going smaller. I was just looking with no intentions of buying anything until my dogs were gone or at least until next spring.

Then this past week, Al over at The Bayfield Bunch, not knowing anything about my bloodhound dilemma, wrote and posted pictures about the first time he and Kelly traveled towing a trailer with 3 dogs in the back seat of the pickup truck. They said it was not a good combination and moved into a Class A after their 6 month trip with much better results for them and their dogs. Al's pictures made me think a little more about having the right rig, maybe the bloodhound would be a better traveler in a different rig??

I went to the Bloodhound group I am a member of on Facebook and asked if there were any bloodhound owners that RV'd or camped with a bloodhound. All responses were positive. So it was possible? I continued to look and think. Long time blog readers know that is a dangerous combination for me...thinking.  LOL

That thinking process had been going on for about 8 days, looking a lot at Class C and Class A RVs. Then on Tuesday night I decided I would do a search for Class C's within 50 miles of my zip code. Three Class C's for sale showed up after that search but one of the three was very interesting ... 16 miles away ... but only 1 picture on the ad ... never a good sign. I thought about it, then forgot about it, then a couple of hours later I emailed the seller asking for more pictures of the interior.

The interior looked to be in mint condition. I never wanted to buy a RV that was from the Midwest because of all the stories you read about rust, mildew, more wear and tear from the extreme weather changes even when the RV had been stored inside. Still, I emailed the seller back, telling them I would like to see this rig as soon as possible. By the looks of the pictures, and the price ... I didn't think this rig would not last long.

The next day, this past Wednesday I got the call from the seller and drove over to look at it inside, on the roof, underneath. The test drive was smooth and quiet. Interior was spotless and in brand new condition.

I called the seller back the next morning telling him I would buy it and we could arrange payment and pickup around both of our busy work schedules. That day happened to be early Saturday morning, September 21.

Just some highlights:

- 25' of living space
- New TempurPedic Mattress
- New Blistein Shocks
- New Fantastic Fan installed center of living area
- A new tow package and brake controller that was never used
- Backup Camera
- Maintenance performed as scheduled
- Preventive roof maintenance this summer
- LED lighting installed
- Wired for multiple batteries
- Microwave/Convection Oven
- All appliances look like they have never been used, they are that clean.

This is the rig I could not pass on ... in great condition. It's a 2004 Coachmen Freedom 258DB

The seller is the 2nd owner of this rig while the original owner bought it new and drove it every winter all over the western states before they would return to their Wisconsin farm to work between April - November. The original owners were an older couple and by the time they sold it in 2012, 8 years later they were in their 80's had put on close to 75,000 miles on the rig. While in Wisconsin the rig was parked inside their barn out of the weather. It was used as designed and taken care of.

The seller owned it for a year, made a few trips and loved it. He told me he had been towing trailers all his adult life when camping but after this first Class C, he would never go back to towing a trailer. That was good to hear, kind of reaffirmed I was going the right direction compared to where I had been.

Currently my plans are for local camping trips with the hounds on weekends. I do have some great state parks in a 40 mile radius from where I live. The seller also mentioned a spot locally where they boondocked, so I will definitely find and try that area.

The only 2 mods I see doing presently are making the overhead bed area some sort of entertainment center/storage area and later installing solar panels on the roof. Everything else is great.

So, my plans for traveling are back, stronger than ever and I really believe I have the right rig to accomplish those travels while having enough room for the three hounds. I plan to retire and travel no later than next spring as I originally planned in 2011, with a desire to move that departure date up before the Midwest winter weather hits. The house stays as a base camp.

What a long, strange trip it has been, backing out of 3 different trailer purchases in the last minute with funds in hand to complete the transaction... but things look like they are finally coming together and moving in the right direction.

September 10, 2013

A 584 Mile Trip Full of Excitement

Sunday morning the H3 is packed, dogs are happy being able to go for a ride, they just don't know this ride is longer than the 11 miles to their veterinarian. The AC is already turned on high as we leave the driveway at 930am local. I realized I was leaving later than I had planned but I wanted to get there a late as I could due to the mid 90s temps that would be waiting for us. Little did I know what would be waiting for us.

My first plan didn't work out .... A year ago I had planned that I would slide the seat of the backseat forward, as designed and leave the back up to keep the dogs and storage separate. The space left after sliding my back seat part forward was too small for my bloodhound, let alone two other basset hounds. So I folded the back of the seats down, packed my sleeping bag, tent, bag of clothes, bag of dog stuff and my camp chair in the space between the front seats and the folded down back seats.

7 Gallons of H2O & Hound Sleeping Area

So it's beautiful, sunny, very little traffic all the way to St. Louis where I make my first major error. I am not sure why, nor what I was thinking about as I always have taken the bypass freeway around the city going in either direction but today I spaced it out and had stop and go traffic through downtown St Louis for 1 hour 15 minutes....they are rebuilding the intersection of I-64 and I-55. I wasn't the only one though...just as we moved down to one lane at the end, a truck pulling one of the largest 5th wheels I had ever seen, merged right in behind me. The driver did not look happy. The picture is a few miles from the city (you can barely see the arch above the middle green sign) and we are already stopped in traffic, with 3 dogs wanting to get out..... because "we were stopped".... and 1 hour and 15 minutes to go.

Just East of St. Louis - Arch Barely Visible Straight Ahead
We take our first rest stop on the west side of St. Louis on what I call a "high speed" rest area, where you exit the freeway from the left lane. So even though the park is set up nice for the hounds, their own area, parking at the curb....I find out really really quick what is an eventual issue traveling with 3 dogs.  I have opened the back door to put 3 different leashes on, of course as soon as the back door is open, the 2 bassets jump out NOT LEASHED.  I scramble getting leashes on both then step on the leashes so they don't move. To add to the excitement, with the semi truck noises, high speed freeway traffic noise that is very loud since we are in the middle of the freeway so to speak .... my 90# bloodhound is TERRIFIED!!!  She freezes, doesn't want out but does because the 2 other hounds are out of the H3. Her front paws are on the bumper but she's afraid to jump. Howling in her best bloodhound voice, I help her jump out of the truck. By the sound of her you would have thought I was hurting her.

As soon as she hits the pavement, she takes off sprinting, luckily to the grassy dog section, but that 25' retractable leash stops her in her tracks with my hand attached. IF it had been 50' she would have sprinted that 50' in a nano second. IF I would have had her on the standard 5' NON retractable leash I believe she still would have sprinted 50' and dragging me 45' of luckily I didn't have the standard 5' cloth leash on her. The 3 hounds and I get to the grassy area, all their noses are to the ground BUT...BUT...they are all going different directions, wrapping 3 different leashes around my lower legs. Fortunately I was able to step out quick enough that they didn't tie me up....LOL. Yet, I had 3 different leashes to untangle and 3 hounds all moving in different directions. The purpose of the stop was successful so all is good.

Before The Leash Tangling
Now back into the H3. I lift the 2 50# bassets into the back of the H3. They are NOT people so they DON'T move forward....they stand at the edge of the opening, where I have a 90# bloodhound that does NOT want to get back in....she is squatting onto the pavement as I try to get her to stand up, get her paws on the bumper so I can left her heavy ass up and get her in the H3, while rest park traffic is moving past me like it's a Indy500 or a NASCAR pit are flying into this park, a few feet behind me and the bloodhound.

All is safe....we are back on the road heading west.  That gives me at least 4-5 more hours to think about this dog situation I am in. The next time I stop for gas (H3 got 18.3 mpg on this trip), they all want out...why....because the truck is stopped, they think they are home. 

I drive onward across the state of Missouri turning south at Joplin onto I-49 after the delay through St. Louis and then a wreck delay after that. For those that have never been through this part of Arkansas, (NW) this is only my 2nd time and I will tell you....beautiful country. We arrive in the northern part of Springdale Arkansas ( NEW) with daylight and even though it's in the 90's, it feels a lot less humid than Indiana. I decided to head to McGaugh's RV dealership since there was enough daylight and take a look at the LiL Snoozy if I can. There it is ... ready for hookup in the morning.  I unload the hounds and we do a walk around, peeked inside the windows, looked underneath the trailer ... The LiL Snoozy is fantastic and I cannot wait until tomorrow morning. The trailer looked much bigger inside than the pictures I had seen.

I get 2 of the hounds on leashes, Heidi seems to be enjoying the grass so I leave her unleashed as the pictures show. As I am getting the dog food out and filling the water bowels, I turn around and Heidi is nowhere in sight....gone!! I put the other two leashes over the fence poles to keep 2 of the dogs there and go off yelling her name. There are a few houses that border this RV lot, she may have headed over there. Still cannot see her  .... yelling her name but no dog.

McGaugh's RV - Springville Arkansas

The Lil Snoozy

I go back to get the other dogs to take them with me on my search for Heidi. Usually the bloodhound will pick the scent up and find the missing dog when this takes place at home. Just as we move into the grass lot of RV trailers to start the search, here comes my basset sprinting like she was a Kentucky Derby winner down the home stretch. She wants to eat.

After 8 Hours of Sleeping it's Time To Relax

The Grass Feels Better Than That Blanket
 As you can see from the picture below, my bloodhound is very stressed out. She has her tail down, a look of all looks on her face, panting heavy, and a long tongue falling out of her mouth.  A dog that normally eats her bowl of food in a couple of minutes and then stands over the other dogs until they come up for air so she can eat their food ..... does not even eat one small kibble of food.  A dog that can drink water by the gallon at home, isn't interested in even getting her tongue wet. She doesn't want anything to do with what is being offered. The bassets never miss a meal....they eat at normal pace, guzzle water....and look at me and say "what's next?"'s time for a walk around the grassy lot.

A Stressed Out Bloodhound
3 tangled leashes later we finish our 20 minute walk around the edge of the trailer lot, thought #2 hits me .... Have I been wrong in thinking I could travel with 3 hounds, especially the bloodhound??  I and a few other friends have always wondered if it was possible or not. There is nothing HEAVIER than a stubborn bloodhound that doesn't want to co-operate. You can't change their mind.....I even tried to bribe her tonight with "milk bones"....didn't work.

The bloodhound is not a happy camper.

With the sun going down I stop to fill up with gas so I will be ready to leave in the morning. I check the tires, etc. Campgrounds were my first choice to stay at Sunday night, thus the reason I brought my tent. After arriving in the area, I see where the campgrounds are further away than I want to be on a Monday morning, it's now after 9pm central time and I haven't decided where to spend the night. I am thinking of just staying on the RV lot, dogs inside the truck and me on the grass in a sleeping bag...then Monday morning shower at the Shell mini truck stop a mile away. About that time headlights pull into the lot, pull in front of me 20' away and turn on their bright lights...thought it might be someone that worked at the lot. As I get out of my H3, they drive off. An hour later, now around 11pm, same headlights pull into the lot, they drive over to the building's front door and stop. I get out and walk over to the jeep just as they are pulling away. I introduce myself and find out I am talking to the original owner of McGaugh's RV lot. The man I am talking to "built it 45 years ago from the ground up". He sold it last year to the sales rep I have been speaking to this past week. From speaking to both men I can tell John McGaugh and Charles Hamilton are great guys.

John tells me I cannot stay on the lot overnight but there is a place about 2 interchanges down (4 milesaway) where trucks pull into a vacant store parking lot, across from the Walmart. I decide to stay there overnight, no traffic and no lights....the lights from the the Walmart parking lot across the street are bright enough for both lots.

I repeat the steps of getting the dogs out with the same amount of hassle as previous times. The 3 leashes tangle around each other every time the dogs get out of the H3. By this time it's dark and around 11:30pm. I also started thinking again if I was going to be able to travel with my dogs, especially the bloodhound. I didn't feel I could travel with just the bloodhound, even if she was the only dog. STILL the thoughts if the dogs would work or not, did not play into my plans for picking the trailer up Monday morning at 8am. I was tired but was excited and I couldn't wait for tomorrow morning to pick up the trailer and hit the road.

I figured a long walk will wear the 3 hounds out so they would sleep all night, so once again at 12:30am, the dogs are unloaded and off we go. Only this time the leash of the running basset Heidi slips out of my hand and she is sprinting off into the darkness. Once again after yelling her name, no dog. About 5 minutes later as I had put the other 2 dogs into the H3 so I could track her down, Heidi is sprinting out of the the darkness. Little did I know at that time, into the early hours of the morning, would it continue to say hot, even with the windows down. The bloodhound spent most of the night panting, not sleeping, but would sleep with the engine running and the A/C on. I was in full agreement and slept the same way...AC on, car idling. I could not sleep with the windows down.

I was sleeping in 30 - 60 minute intervals. The times I did not sleep, I spent thinking of my travel plans the next day. I would either go north on the freeway just long enough to get to US60 and head east or to go the back roads in the eastern direction, through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Between 3am - 3:15am for a few minutes, I finally realized traveling with the dogs could be a problem. A new potential issue occurred to me. With the trailer hitched to the H3, there would very little if any room to swing the back door open to let the dogs out. Even if I could swing that door open part of the way, would the 3 hounds be able to jump out the back of the H3 and miss the steel hitch? Getting them out the side back doors was even more impossible, because that would be one dog at a time and with the seats folded down, the "floor" was an additional 6"- 8" taller than what they were jumping off of in back. That was a reason I did not use the side doors earlier in the day.

I didn't think about the dog problems anymore and went back to sleep. Before falling back to sleep I had nothing but plans of meeting the owners in a few hours at the RV dealership (consignment sale), going over the trailer with them, paying them and heading east with a week vacation planned.

Around 5:15am Central time I bolted up out of a deep sleep like a lightning bolt had hit me, even wide awake after a pretty sleepless night…..KNOWING I COULD NOT GO THROUGH WITH THE PURCHASE. I couldn't travel with 3 dogs was the main thought. Even if they were to adjust to the traveling routines, the process of getting in an out of the H3 would be the same. Even with a pickup truck with the larger cab, the process would have been the same. I didn't feel the bloodhound would be a good fulltime traveler. Not only from her performance today, but other issues she has at times with separation anxiety, even as a 5 yr old bloodhound. What I feared years ago, today had provided me with my answer. It was not possible to travel with my 3 dogs.

After waking, I had decided to leave and head back to Indiana. I let the hounds out, going through the exact same routines as before and Sadie still scared to jump out. Once again I am trying to keep the two basset hounds near me by stepping on their leashes and trying to help the bloodhound (big baby) out of the H3.….luckily this deserted parking lot had small islands of grass inside concrete curbs, so all my hounds did their morning deed and we got back in the H3. During that 5-10 minutes when the dogs were out, I kept going over my decision of not making the purchase. I knew I couldn't buy the trailer, even as much as I wanted it. THREE dogs were a major issue….just ONE BLOODHOUND and no basset hounds would have been an issue. I did not see any way for this to work and there were a few things that would never change traveling with 3 hounds, but also 3 hounds that are bred to follow scents.

So as my truck idled and my A/C got the inside cooler, I was thinking to make sure, if this was what I wanted to do, back out of another trailer deal? After some soul searching while the H3 idled, I knew what I had to do, no matter how much I wanted to live the full time RV lifestyle. I sent both the RV dealer and the trailer owners, an email telling them I could not buy the trailer because I found out my 3 dogs were going to be a problem in the traveling mode. I also explained I did not find this out until after traveling 584 miles to buy and pick up their LiL Snoozy trailer. I was going to call McGaugh's RV when they opened up at 8am Central time but by the time I had a chance to call while driving, I got an email from the dealer and the trailer owners, both of them asking me if they reduced the sale price, would that make a difference. I was almost to Joplin MO and headed home by the time I had received their emails. I hated backing out of my decision and what effects that had on both the dealership and the private owners. I was also losing a great trailer at a great price.

Within that first hour of driving, I thought of nothing else. Could I find a way to make it work with 3 hounds? I had the time to turn around and get to the dealership before they opened if I could decide of a way traveling with the hounds would work. Could I buy the trailer and then take small trips with the hounds for the next few months? I felt even with the hounds adjusting to travel, the side doors etc ... I still felt I could not travel with 3 dogs. I could with 1 basset hound, not 2. I doubted I could travel with just the bloodhound alone.  She is just too much dog. Plus, every time yesterday I had 3 leashes tangled up beyond belief.

So the question I asked myself, before I decided not to turn back, should I buy the trailer now, since it's a great trailer at a good price...then park it (where I don't have a lot of room). Then use it for short trips to see if the dogs adjusted and/or keeping it for the time I would hit the road alone, without dogs. I felt as long as I had 3 hounds I would not be going on any kind of camping trips, long or short.

The final answer was no, I shouldn't buy it. Let someone that was going to use the trailer buy it.

Was fulltime traveling really fair to the dogs? Even at a boondock camp site out west, they would have to be tethered. The hound bred is not like terriers, shepherds etc....they are scent dogs...their noses go immediately to the ground and they are off once they lock onto a scent. Around home they will stay in the area most of the time off leash but just one rabbit or deer has sent them off on a high speed run ... no warning. Heidi had already ran off twice on this trip alone.

I finally realized what I suspected all along, but I kept pushing the thought off to the side …. even as good as my hounds are, well mannered, slept most of the way while driving….traveling for any length of time would be a problem with all 3 hounds. I spent the next 8 hours driving knowing that I was going to delay my travel plans. That was quite the letdown. It was very sad to finally find out I cannot travel at this time in my life.

Still I did find out this answer early enough before making a purchase. I do have a place to return to that really is a great place to live, minus the humidity and a few extreme cold winter days. Still, it will be very very hard reading bloggers that do travel and knowing that I cannot do the same at this time.

This morning as you can see below, Sadie is back in her element ... a little more peaceful and quiet than that "high speed" rest area on I-64. She is back to being a happy camper.

Back Home Again In Her Field - She Feels Better

Like the blog sub-title asks ...

"The decision process in deciding to RV full time, what kind of RV to buy and if this travel can be done with two basset hounds and one bloodhound?"

This blog was a decision I made 22 months ago when I decided I would open my thought process to the public. Maybe this blog would help someone that was thinking of traveling fulltime with dogs or for the first time and save them some research. I decided that I would be honest and tell both sides of my decision making process. It would also be my eventual traveling journal, something I could look back and read years from now. This blog turned into a mental rollercoaster at times only because I was being honest with my thoughts, those were available to the public to read. Being exposed at times bothered me, because I really am a very private person.

Still, back to the blog sub-title ..... The answer is no. Personally I feel I cannot and I have chosen not to travel with my 2 basset hounds and 1 bloodhound.

So my travel plans, and any kind of trailer/rv purchasing plans are delayed. I will not travel with 3 hounds and I will not buy a trailer or RV until I am ready to travel with only 1 basset hound or no hounds.  How long that will be, I have no idea. The option of giving the hounds away just so I can travel is NOT an option.

So that's it .... This will be my last blog post until I decide to travel, ...when that is I don't have any idea.

My decision is really not what is best for me but best for my hounds.  Non pet owners will find that hard to believe or understand, but that's the way it is.

Your dog .... "He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. Your are his life, his love and his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion"  ~Unknown author~


September 06, 2013

First Trip in Final Planning Stage

{editor's note:  I have changed my mind and will try to blog daily from my iPad on my return trip}

Things are falling into place rapidly. It's to the point I am beginning to wonder if there are enough hours in a day before I leave on Sunday morning. I spent the past few days trying to plan around my job, but like most jobs, there is never an end to ongoing or unexpected tasks, requirements or never ends. There is never a time to leave because at work there are constant roadblocks popping up for any personal schedules.

So today I got started early and sent off my request first thing in the morning for 5 vacation days starting Monday. After it was accepted by my corporate manager, I sent out an email to my department about my absence next week....LOL  (duck)...from the flood of return emails to the notice and one visitor at my desk within 45 seconds after sending out the email .... you would have thought the whole world was ending, just because I was taking 5 days off.

Some of these ... "But what about....", "you can't...", "who is going to do ....?" etc, etc, etc.

So the great news is, I will spend tonight and tomorrow, tweaking the travel plans. I will leave early Sunday morning for the 588 mile trip to McGaugh RV in Springdale Arkansas, where the trailer was being sold on consignment. I will be taking all freeways to get to my destination. After picking up the trailer early Monday morning, I will start my 1st trip traveling with a trailer and the hounds, driving the back roads through Missouri, Illinois to southern Indiana. The return trip will be much slower and I will probably be staying at camp grounds on the way back so I'll have full hookups. It will give me a chance on the road to learn about the trailer and time to see how the hounds do, plus how I do.

Some of my return trip, just by coincidence,  will follow some of the highways I took in the summer of 1976 on my solo cross country bicycle trip, going east this time instead of west, through the Mark Twain National Forest into the farm lands of Illinois and Indiana.

I am really looking forward to this trip. Not only am I excited about picking up my trailer but also enjoying some much needed peace and quiet. I think by the time I finish the return trip of over 600 miles, I will have a much better idea what will work, what doesn't and what I need to bring with me. All of these 22 months of reading, studying, looking at pictures from other people traveling and asking them a million questions...will finally be on the road.

I will take pictures along the way but I may not post about my trip and the pictures that will go with it until I return home. I am going to try to attempt the trip "computer free".

As I sit here looking at all the maps the computer, on a large Mac monitor ... there is still something about holding, turning the pages and looking though a USA road map sorted by state with all the campgrounds marked, etc. That is coming from a computer geek, that has his whole life on his hard drive, iPad or iPhone.

So as of Friday night, that is the plan. I must say that after the events this past week when I decided to make a purchase, everything has fallen into place at the right time.

If only the hounds knew what they were in for this weekend. They get excited just for the short trips around town, barking, jumping and then sprinting to the truck knowing they are going to go. Only this time I have a feeling they will be sprinting to the wrong vehicle.

September 04, 2013

My First Trailer ... 2012 Lil Snoozy LS3

Editor's Note: I ended up not buying this trailer, only because I changed my mind about towing a trailer with my dogs in the vehicle. See post about the 584 mile trip for the reasons why.

I hadn't thought anymore about this trailer, the Lil Snoozy LS3, after I looked and read about it over a year ago.  Thought it could work but didn't pay a lot of attention to the dimensions or anything because it was an all electric trailer. No I moved on even though last year it looked bigger than the Casita's trailers.

So the past few weeks I have been looking at other trailers, back and forth on the Starcraft, even made sure I didn't want a Class C. Sometime over the weekend a friend that full times and was in the process of buying a trailer after selling hers, emails me about a 2012 LiL Snoozy that she likes. I started thinking, this lady has been full-timing with dogs and cats for a lot of years in all kinds of trailers, different trucks and she is considering the LiL Snoozy as a full-time trailer???

I went back to their site, looked more, paid attending to the exterior and interior measurements. There were a few things I liked about it last year and those features were still attractive this year. Once my friend told me she was going to buy something else but thought this would be a great trailer for what I was looking for and what I was wanting to do .... Knowing how many years experience she had living on the road, I spent the rest of the time researching, looking at pictures again and reading forums to find out any kind of information I could. I wanted to see all the good and bad things about this trailer. I could only find 1 used LiL Snoozy trailer for sale all over the internet and this was trailer was the one.

So, we are to the point of dotting the I's and crossing the T's. It is located 584 miles from me, so I plan on loading the hounds into the H3 sometime this weekend or early next week, drive down and pick it up and then spend some days traveling the back roads through Missouri and Kentucky on my way home to Indiana. It should be a good "shake down cruise" for the hounds and I.

Am I "hearing" SHOCK and AWE from the crowd?  Surely not ... not after everything you have read here in the past ... LOL

Was it this past March I was within a day of test driving a 32' Class A and buying from a local family but they were in Florida for spring break, holding the test drive back a day?? The the Starcraft AR-ONE 17RD was declared the winner twice, but on two different occasions I had changed my mine, once with the check in hand.

So you have to be asking yourself why this trailer instead of the Starcraft AR-ONE 17RD.

1.  Same size bed
2.  A COUCH !!!!
3.  If needed a TV already mounted for travel sitting across from the couch.
4. Aisle is wider
5. 3" taller inside
6. 2'5" shorter inside
7. Plenty of room to mount solar panel(s)
8. A lot bigger Fresh Water  and Gray tanks
9. A floor plan that I love (hounds will have plenty of room)
10. Can be towed by the H3
11. Good storage
12. It's different and cool looking

I do not need a trailer big enough that I can do the same things in the trailer that I do in my house!! I've never wanted that. If I need to stretch my legs I will do what I do here at home, tell the hounds "lets go outside" and walk around. I decided a long time ago in this process that I wanted something small that I could get to places off the grid, unhook the H3 and still go scouting in a 4x4. I the "entertainment center" will be good for those days/nights your are stuck inside with storms outside. I will not miss propane, I have other ideas for a heater, stove etc.

So here are some photos of the new purchase and yes I will be taking pictures on pick-up day and the return trip.

I believe I have looked at every possible option over these past 22 months before I finally came to a conclusion that I like and one that will work for what I want to do.

I have already sold a lot of my possessions, the buyers agreed take ownership on some of the stuff when I leave.  I have talked to the real estate agent and will place my house for sale when I leave so she can show the house empty and move in ready. I am selling my Chevy truck and my Mini Cooper. As soon as the Mini Cooper sells, I will be giving my 2 week notice at work and hope to hit the road before mid-October.