April 29, 2014

Random Thoughts About Everything

"Mr Floyd ... please come in and sit or lie on the couch if you choose"

Instead of adding these thoughts to different future blog posts based on subject, I thought I'd just throw these out there for comments and general discussion. Some of them may be outside the title of the blog 'Hounds and RVs'. It's good to branch out occasionally. Probably nothing more than to clear my head and may have very little interest to others.

Google Plus
     I'm not really a fan of it. I'd much rather see my postings written by 'bhounds" instead of my full name. It may be better than Facebook eventually but so far after six months or more using it, I have no urges to do anything with Google Plus that I have done on Facebook. It replaced Google Friend Connect, so basically that is why I went to Google Plus, just so everyone could have all options to follow my blog if they chose to do so. ... I'm still not a fan of the Google Plus. I do like Feedly and I like Twitter to keep up with all of my sports.

     I honestly thought after a couple of weeks I would MIGHT have periods of freaking out, second guessing my decision, bored out of my mind, sleepless nights and possible regret. That has NOT happened for one second since the day I left work. I love having my own schedule even if nothing is on the schedule. Like I read somewhere last week "I have nothing to do and all day to do it". Changes that I have noticed in the short time I have been "unemployed" .... no longer living on Tums anti-acid tablets, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, no 'Sunday night blues', and relaxed.....plus the hounds get to go outside more, as requested. They still sleep the majority of the day.

The House
     Yes, those thoughts  of selling it and traveling have come back at times very recently. Then I think I'm stupid because it's paid for, not a bad location, I've been here seventeen years, great place for the hounds and low cost of living area. Still, I don't plan to ever be here again between November through April after last winter's performance. I don't like the high humidity for a couple of months during the 90-100 degree temps in the summer. So that leaves only 2-3 months out of the year that I really enjoy the weather living here. I received my property tax bill yesterday that showed my property value has decreased for the 3rd year in a row but this year they decided to raise my property tax by 27% from last year.  I don't care for that trend.

     As with any ownership, house or trailer/rv, there seems to be always something to do. Usually in my case it is nothing major with the house, just little things to pick up after the winter weather. Maybe some minor repairs due to normal wear. During the spring I'm probably mowing the yard twice per week whereas in July I'm asking myself where did all that nice green grass go. Many days I am not enthused about yard work. Some people enjoy it but most of the time I think it's a PIA, time consuming, and wasted time .... I have other things I could be doing. The list of "to do" with a house never ends, as I found just three more things today that I need to do this week. Those are three days I could be traveling somewhere, instead of trimming hedges.

     Very helpful to a 'newbie' like myself. After reading Glenn's story on Yahoo Business page in October 2011 the RV bug hit me big time. I spent every waking hour reading peoples blogs from their first day all the way through their most recent day. Of course every blog had their blog roll, which gave me more blogs to read and add to my blog roll. They were like compound interest, always multiplying. Every blog was different, some full-timers, 40' motorhomes towing toads, Class C's travel trailers, 5th wheels and a few that live in cargo trailers...even vans. A few of them have pets but no blogs that I have found have a bloodhound and that breed is one of a kind ... like kind of in the obnoxious breed category if you define that as being funny. They have a great personality but she can get into so much stuff while I am gone. Bloodhounds go where their nose leads them. What would Sadie do while I was out hiking, mountain biking or at the grocery store?  Would I have a trailer left when I got back?  LOL

     Blogging also did something I had not planned on ... I opened, not a lot, but part of my life to the public, people I didn't know, have never met ... something I've never been a fan of. At the same time some of those people became online friends and could potentially meet in person if I ever get on the road. I am friendly towards others but mostly private at the same time. I can spend time alone at my house for days without starting a car/truck and days where the tv is not even used. Blogging at times makes the writer feel obligated to their followers. The blogger feels that they should write something not every day maybe but on a fairly frequent basis, even if there is nothing exciting happening. When you are not traveling yet, many days are just a normal day, nothing that deals with RVs. Still readers are are following your blog for a reason, so they deserve some sort of regular communication.

Blogging is addicting ... reading or writing ... but blogs are a good source of information.

Junk eMail
     I have all kinds of filters, different gmail accounts for different things and even one account for junk email. It still doesn't work in preventing junk email. My home email account gets hundreds of junk emails per day, automatically filling my Apple mail program junk folder...hundreds. I hate that. I am careful on where I use my main email address. Do companies really make that much money selling their customer's email addresses?

The Perfect Vehicle/RV/Trailer
     There is none. That is probably one of the main reasons I have not made a decision on what to buy. Everything thing had to be perfect when I grew up. Everything analyzed. That process still continues today even if I don't want it to. Everything else I have bought such as my iMac, large HD TV, my hounds, and some of my vehicles ... it was researched, then buy it ... fast. I never went back and forth with "what if's" buying those cars, trucks, electronics or hounds ... I just did it. The RV niche is entirely different. I have read where others have taken just as much time researching, looking at and sitting in their rigs before making the purchase. What is the reason for in depth analysis? What do most people go through more than a few rigs before they find the one that is right for them? Are we all nuts? Maybe the words "living in it", gives it a more permanent feel, thus more analysis.

Travel Plans
     I have a major plan for traveling. Like all other RVer's, I want to stay one step ahead of the weather. I also realize there will be times mother nature surprises and we are stuck until that mess clears enough to travel away from bad weather. Since I have lived out west and also have driven through many of the western states I would be staying in, I have a pretty good idea of my seasonal plans. Boondocking will be my goal most of the time.

     Spring - Moab Utah area.  Summer - Pacific Northwest, Oregon coast, Yellowstone, Black Hills of the Dakotas, Wyoming. Fall - Back down through Utah, Nevada. Winter - Borrego Springs Ca, Arizona, the Q at least once, maybe New Mexico at their vacant SP. I don't think I'll cover more than 8,000 miles per year once I get west. Surprising to many but that is all I drove annually when working.

     I plan on traveling very light. I have spent the past two years downsizing and really cut out clothing, dishes and cooking utensils last summer/fall. The local Goodwill customers loved me I'm sure. I gave away a lot of nice stuff, too lazy to sell it on eBay or Craig's List. I have more to give away or sell since I have stopped working. With the Class C I had, there were  plans of fitting my large screen HD tv for use but over the winter and more recently, TV is just not that important anymore. So currently TV's are up in the air. Lynne over at Winnie Views has some good ideas on how to fit a large monitor/TV into a small space. My computer is a hard decision to make. I have a 21" iMac and a second 27" Apple monitor as my main screen. I know I can buy and download my total hard drive in a MacBook Pro or Mac Air or I could use my iPad just for email and internet reading .... but .... I LOVE that big monitor. Even having the iMac as one system setup would be nice. So I am thinking after I buy the trailer, taking out the dining set and installing a desk like I have now for eating and internet. I rarely use my kitchen table to eat meals. I know that may be hard to understand to some but being single  ... happens all the time.

     I know I have too many hounds. Three is too many, two would be nice, probably only one would be perfect. The last hound I bought in 2011 was not planned. Finding her on the basset hound rescue site, hit me upside the head and I bought her the next day and picked her up on the following Saturday. I couldn't believe the rescue service pulled her out of a dog shelter. Who would voluntarily turned in a basset hound to a shelter? Don't ask why I bought a 3rd hound, I don't know but she has been a great addition to the crew even if she is the "couch queen". The bloodhound and the oldest basset hound were planned. All three dogs are great, no issues and I have no doubt would travel well. Yes, they have been a factor in my decision making process on what rig to buy.

     Ticks are the worst I have ever seen in the seventeen years I have lived here. My backyard borders eight acres of hay, some woods and slight deer traffic. I knew tick season was going to be a bad one this year when my hounds came inside this winter with snow on the ground and they had ticks on their necks. In snow??  After the rage on Facebook with fellow bloodhound/basset hound owner groups, even traveling by RVs with pets group talking about ticks ... I have moved from buying tick prevention at the vet to a mixture of white vinegar/water and mix in some oil for personal use before walking through the field on daily dog walks. I'm lazy so usually that mixture is not applied as it should be.

     I grew up in Indiana, graduated from college in Indiana but loved the 20+ years I lived out west in southern California, Washington and the short 10 months in Colorado. I moved back to Indiana for employment reasons in 1994. I have thought of leaving this area various times since then but it seemed a pay raise always changed those plans. The small beach town was great in southern California but now that area is wall to wall people and bumper to bumper traffic. Washington was great in the summer months with lots to do having beaches and mountains nearby. Where I lived, it didn't rain as much as it did in Seattle. Summers were even on the cool side at times but no humidity. Colorado would be another nice place to visit during the summer and I plan to. Plus the Bay Area of California is one of my most favorite cities in the world, it's always nice to visit there.

     There is just something about the western states that I like. Maybe I have been back here too long and need a change of scenery. Traveling will give me that. I do wonder at times if I can really afford a house and traveling full time at the same time. Do I need to decide one or the other?

Other Thoughts
     Nothing I can think of. I think I have covered about everything that's on my mind. I was told once "you have to be a little crazy to keep from going insane" ... I think I am half way between those...LOL

"This counseling session has concluded, you can get up from the couch now" ... have a good day!

The Search Continues but Down to Two Specific Manufacturers

After much thinking and having discussions with a few full-time travelers and others that have/had truck campers ... I have ruled out the truck camper as a full-time option. I would love to travel that way, I would love to think I would spend ALL of my daylight hours outside along with the hounds and I would love to think we would have enough room when the bad weather hits ... but as someone told me that is full-time traveling in a trailer, you have to be able to separate what you want vs what you need. In my lifetime those two have never matched. So it's something I have to be aware of while continuing my search.

I feel the only option that I will be happy with ... with be a trailer between 18'-24', high clearance for traveling down a two track road if needed, and a big back window.  I know that last requirement might be a little different but it makes a world of difference to me after the trailers I have looked at and sat in and those trailers not having enough windows.

A couple of manufacturers come to mind and are at the top of my list.

After my return trip from Camping World in Indianapolis last Friday I knew there was nothing there as far as new, used, or by brand name that I liked ... nada. It didn't matter if it was a 5th wheel or a travel trailer. That was one very important realization because now I had cut out a lot of possibilities when looking online in the future. The only trailer that I stepped into last week that was made with good quality materials was the Sunny Brook trailer I looked at last week, down at a small dealership 50 miles SE of me at Monroe City RV. It was a 'new' 2012 but while sitting on the lot for two years it had floor damage under the couch, water leaking in the slide out area. They were in the process of repairing the damage. They were also adding some repairs that they thought would prevent the damage from happening again.

I spent time since my last post, looking at forums, talking to people, gaining more information on what would be possible with me and three hounds traveling at least six months out of the year if not nine months. All of us knew no one that full-timed in a truck camper. Most of us agreed on the length of trailer I needed and most of us disagreed on whether a slide-out was good or bad. All of us agreed that trailer ground clearance was important. All of us agreed that I should keep my house until I had experience traveling, even if I were to spend only three months out of the year at the house.

Another reason I chose to move away from the truck camper option, was the use of my truck bed as storage. Otherwise I may have had to tow a small trailer with the truck camper for additional equipment/storage. Yes, the pictures of truck campers being tucked away off the grid, or traveling down 4x4 roads, with beautiful views were very magnetic. I wanted all that but knew long term it was not a valid possibility.

Northwood Nash and Arctic Fox are the two trailers that I am focussing on.

April 25, 2014

A Trip to Camping World to Look Around

Early morning thunderstorms woke me about 4am. I have all my windows open, so it was windy and things got a little wet. The rain and overcast clouds almost talked me out of my trip to look at rvs, trailers, 5th wheels and truck campers. By 11am the sky had cleared, it was sunny and even though later than I wanted to start ... I decided I needed a road trip. I knew Friday would have heavy traffic. From where I live there is not a direct route to the nearest large rv dealership.

The largest dealership closest to me is Camping World in Indianapolis. They have a large selection of all different kinds of rigs to look at and it's pretty nice when you do not have a sales rep following you and you have no intentions of buying anything. I wanted to go see a few used and new 5th wheels, also some used and new trailers in the 24' range. I really don't have any desire for anything longer than that, so my truck may be a little overkill. I bought the truck basically for 4x4, crew cab for the hounds to travel comfortable and the price it was offered at. 

It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to arrive. I said it last time I went but this time the parking spots to camp overnight were packed, the spaces on the lot waiting for service of some kind was completely full, as well as the service bays. Maybe it's normal to start the camping season, with most schools not out yet for summer vacation.

I'll not go into detail on what I saw or didn't see, except to say NOTHING I looked out, sat in or thought about excited me. The used ones were either priced too high or were in bad shape. I was surprised in some cases that some rigs were actually for sale due to their condition. Mostly trade in's I guess. Of all the trailers and 5th wheels I sat in I can say the truck campers felt the best. Small yes, livable yes, room for the hounds yes and hard to believe yes.

So I decided to take the long way back to drive around any possible city rush hour traffic. I stopped to eat inside a restaurant instead of drive-thru. Combine with my time for my meal and the time it took to drive home I had a lot of time to think. Based on what I have looked at today and last Monday and in previous months, I have a few that stand out that I like more than others. That includes all types of vehicles to live in.

By the time I got home, fed the hounds and did the daily walk ... the yard has grown enough to be mowed tomorrow for the second time this week. 

Have a good weekend everyone, wherever you are located and be safe traveling. 

April 24, 2014

Is a Fifth Wheel a Possibility?

First of all, not related to the title but a pretty important event happened today. I had a call from my company's HR department asking if I would like to move my exit interview from tomorrow (Friday) to to today? I thought about sprinting the 10 miles to the office but decided a shower and driving a vehicle might be a better alternative. So it's official ... I am retired, no longer on personal vacation nor working. My job now is to let my dogs in and out a of the house a million times a day because they know a good deal when they smell one.

Like now, I am stepping away to let Winston out, where the other two hounds will follow.

A comment on my blog post yesterday brought up an option I had never looked at, because I want to boondock most of the time I am on the road. I always pictured this option as not doable. they always looked too big to be driven out into the boondocks. Nan asked if I had ever considered a 5th Wheel? I have a couple of local friends that have them. One friend lives in theirs full time, even in this past Indiana winter where there were winter storms one after another. The other parks theirs at a SP for the summer as a weekend getaway. They told me they were easier to hitch to, back up, to maneuver and would give me and the hounds a lot more room. They never looked like the rig that would be used for boondocking. So I of course had to start looking at whats available, anything near me? What forums are available to discuss this option? I wanted to find some images with the 5th Wheel in a boondocking location or a lot of locations.

After going through the "for sale" websites, now it was time to find some images and information. I found out I could do all of this research on ONE website. Ray and his wife have been traveling for over 3 years in their 30' 5th Wheel with some pretty favorable reviews. Ray reviews, teaches, and his wife photographs some fabulous places. They also started their travels with two beagles. So I started my research here last night and am getting ready to read more, look more after the sun goes down tonight. The weather is too nice to be inside these past couple of weeks, so my computer desk time is either first thing in the morning and after dark.

In the meantime I have found one that I want to go take a look at tomorrow. The pictures look nice but you never know until you can see and touch in person. The end photographs concern me, looks like the skin of the rig is rippling or bent? Please post your experiences or comments about this option. I know that Dave from Flip Flop Vector suggested this set up last year before they pulled off the road.  The one I am looking at is only 25' long.

2003 Forest River Sierra 25RLSS

The ripples in the lower end will be the deal breaker

So I will get an early start after people leave for work tomorrow, drive up to this dealership to take a look around. Large range of inventory, so I can not only see this rig but other options. 

April 22, 2014

The Sunny Brook "Harmony" 21FBS Trailer

Since having time off, I no longer multi-task. It's one project per day. Today was borderline because I did two or three things to get them out of the way. I started the morning off by taking the newly purchased truck back over to the dealership twenty-five miles away to pick up the title. The plan was to transfer my plates from my 1994 Chevy truck to the 2006 Chevy truck since I had just paid for new truck plates for 2015. That did happen without a problem later in the afternoon which is a surprise because nothing is easy at the BMV. While at the dealership I was talking to the owner about his experiences in towing trailers and truck camping trailers. He normally will use them on hunting or fishing trips for a couple of weeks in the year.

He said an interesting thing about trailers, campers, Class C and even the huge Class A. It was something I noticed while I sat in the Class C while it was covered in snow this winter. He said "the longer you stay in them the smaller they FEEL" ... no matter what the RV is. I made note of that. The 2500 HD 4x4 truck rides nice, is quiet and very comfortably cruising down the highway, so I decided to multi-task, go on a mini-road trip.

I decided to go about 50 miles further south of my house to check out a trailer I had seen on the internet. This place was out in the country, small town and I can't say if the highway it was on was a major one? It was out in the middle of nowhere, very little traffic but this place was servicing Class A's that cost $250K to $500K. They had a good selection of trailers. The person showing me the trailer was not only honest but possibly a little too honest to be in sales ... if you know what I mean.

2012 Sunny Brook Harmony 21FBS

One of the admins on the rvforum dot net, mentioned that Sunny Brook made good quality trailers and might be something to check out. As far as the quality of components, flooring, couch material and bed mattress he was right. This 22' trailer had a small slide out which gave the trailer enough floor space to get me to consider this. It had much more room than my Class C and it was a "new" 2012 model, no longer made. Then he said something interesting that was a deal killer. "We have had some water damage to the floor under the couch due to a leak in the slide out". They were repairing it and correcting some things to prevent it taking place a second time but I didn't want to take that chance.

The ground clearance was another issue. Standing back looking at the trailer, the ground clearance looked acceptable for what I am wanting. When I looked at the leveling jacks that were retracted, a lot of the ground clearance was gone. But the deal breaker happened as I turned around the corner from the rear. The gray and black tank connection for dumping was exposed by design to the edge of the trailer but the problem was, from the bottom of those connections to the ground was only four inches.

I could not see this trailer surviving long on a dirt, gravel or uneven roads. I probably wont go to the extreme of staying in place like Sebastian does but similar to AL & KELLY, Paul & Nina and RVsue. At times I'd like to do what Chinle does over at the Spotted Dog Ranch leaving the trailer at the camp and tent camping further off the grid for a few days in good weather.

As you notice this post is about a trailer, not a truck camper. I was kind of leaning this way after I got an accurate measurement of the bloodhound while she was sleeping last night, snoring through the measurements I took. I quietly got my Stanley tape measure out and went from the tip of her nose to her hips ... she's long ... LOL.  I went from top of her hips to the bottom of her feet as she laid on her side, she's taller than the truck camper isle is wide. She would take MORE THAN the majority of the floor space in a truck camper. That doesn't include the other two basset hounds which are also long, even with extremely short legs.

So dogs win ... it has to be a trailer.

Two that come to mind ... Nash and Arctic Fox. A couple of the bloggers I follow travel full-time in an Arctic Fox while Sebastian full-times in a Nash Trailer.

The choices are decreasing and the options are down to a couple I believe.

April 21, 2014

My Sanity Has Returned

I wrote this post earlier this afternoon but tonight my enthusiasm is still with the Truck Camper  :)

As much as I would love to do it, once again the hounds play a factor in my decision making process. The truck camper is no longer an option. The tape on the floor following the floor plan of the favorite 4-season camper, shows that it cannot be a option for full-time travel and hounds ... even if they chose to travel alone.

My narrowed choices today are travel trailers and using my truck bed as storage, etc. The truck will have a lid installed before I leave. Since I plan on spending more time boondocking than campgrounds, I need a trailer that is well built. In most cases from the pictures I have looked at over and over and over these past two years, the 4-season trailer seems to rise to the top. If it were just me, I might go a different direction. Even though my hounds are not destructive, having a trailer as our domicile all the time, a trailer that is built well is a priority.

The list of three are:
1.  Bigfoot Trailers
2.  Northwood Nash
3.  Northwood Arctic Fox

A couple of the bloggers I follow both travel full-time in two of those trailers and have written of their experiences and how the trailer has performed. The Bigfoot trailers seems to sit a little low to the ground, not enough clearance to go down a two track road. So that brings me to two to choose from. Length will be no more than 24'. A lot of these two trailers seem to fall in the 22' range more than 24'. Some of the longer models I do not care for due to the bed being in the rear corner. I just sold a Class C with a rear corner bed.

So the search continues but at least my options have narrowed a lot ... I might be able to get something productive done now.

For those with any experience in trailers other than those listed, I would love to hear your comments and experiences with the brand of trailer you had. I don't have plans to camp in the snow or the mid summer heat of the desert ... I can stay home and do that. I hope to stay one step ahead of bad weather, just like everyone else but I do realize there are times you cannot beat mother nature. Plus, the 4-season trailers I have looked at seem to be built with better quality.

Mowing the yard was my main activity today. It wasn't any more fun than I had last year. It's a pain more than enjoyment. I continue to downsize possessions.

Trailers and Campers

First of all I have been having some really strange internet connection problems since last Wednesday. I've called my local provider for setting up an appointment with the AT&T phone people to come out and check their lines. They did the same thing in February or coincidentally the same time I was told my monthly fee was increasing $10 per month like the wireless plan I cannot have with them due to my location. Still I had to pay for that plan because their DSL plan was going away. I have no choice other than LAN lines for DSL or the HughesNet Satellite. What is strange is the period of time my connection has been intermittent. In the early morning hours up until 9am and after 9pm, it's a strong fast connection. I guess that is a way of telling me to back away from the desk and get outside.

It's another great weather day here in the 'tropics' of southern Indiana. The only thing I have planned for today is mowing the yard this morning after the sun dries out the morning dew. The hounds are still waking me up to go out in the dark morning like it's a normal work day. I guess they didn't get the memo that I have stopped working a job. Then ten minutes after that morning "dog bone" when they come back in, they are all sound asleep for the rest of the morning. Life is rough for these hounds.

The times my internet connection was working, I spent the weekend nights looking at forums that discussed trailers. I looked at trailers, all different lengths, different distance from my house, and different brands. I had a few phone calls to discuss different options, had a lot of private email offering suggestions and a few comments on the blog.

Whatever length of trailer I decide on, I am working with 80% of my towing rating so I can stay inside the safety zone as well as a little less weight for a mile or two added to the mpg. I'm not sure if that even makes much difference. I'm am finding out the longer the trailer is, the easier they are to back into a spot. Still with a 19+' truck, just a 21' trailer, I am looking at 40' going down the road. What's strange about that distance is, I would not want a 40' Class A. Am I looking at that the wrong way? An off-grid friend says 24' would be about the max they would buy based on how and where I want to camp. Other's suggest the bigger the truck, the bigger the trailer. So I guess it might depend on what is my priority, comforts of home or better off-grid navigation possibilities?

Included in this thought process on what length to buy, are the hounds. What will be enough room for them? Do I need just one slide out? I know from looking at photographs that one slide out in a trailer makes a world of difference. Like anything else there are pros and cons of having a slide out. Yes I can park the trailer where I am camping, unhitch and use my 4x4 truck for exploring, trips to the store or any emergency runs. That is one reason I like the truck/trailer combination. Still, it's hard to decide just on what length to buy. Priorities again.

By Sunday afternoon I had a brand new option to consider. Many of you will disapprove, some will think I am all out bonkers and have fallen off the deep end and other's will get their morning laugh. I even laugh to myself when I think about it. A clue is, I've always wanted the "EarthRoamer" but never had a spare $250K - $400K to buy one. So yes, the new option was a truck camper.  How did all of this come to the surface? While reading an rv forum yesterday in the "truck camper" section, someone posted they traveled with their wife and 4 dogs ... one of the dogs being large. Two adults and 4 dogs inside a truck camper for many months at a time (6 mos minimum).   I replied to that post asking if it was possible to travel that way with one less adult but one big dog, over 80 lbs. (my bloodhound) Not only did I get possible replies to that posted question, I received positive emails and private messages on that forum.

I knew someone I could ask, a friend of mine follows my blog, has been traveling with dogs for many years and by the pictures sent in the past of their truck and truck camper, it COULD be possible. They said it would work. Of course a ramp will be needed to help the hounds get into the camper and also save my back from lifting them. I was going to need ramps with a trailer and also helping them into the crew cab of the truck, so ramps are ramps.

Even with a trailer, the majority of time in my day will be spent outside. We just need a place to stay at night and during bad weather. I would take a screen room tent for me and the hounds to use if needed only during the daylight hours. If I ended up needing more storage I could tow a small cargo trailer or off-road trailer. I know that option is hard for some of you to swallow but it's always the way I wanted to camp ... off the grid. This has many advantages, too many to go into during this post but it might be a post later on after the "flames die down".

If it didn't work out, I would do what everybody else does in this area of rv, trailer traveling and what I have done once so far .... if it doesn't work then sell it and buy something else.

My hounds do not do much but sleep, sleep and sleep. I have had a better chance this past week to witness their schedules and it doesn't change whether it's a week day or weekend. The only times they are awake and active are 15 minutes in the morning, around noon to go out and mid afternoon to play, eat and a walk afterward. At night they are up for a short time but always asleep somewhere by 8pm. Although last week we walked twice per day. When we are outside, the bloodhound scouts ever smell she collects while the older basset lays in the sun .... and sleeps!!! Heidi, the "queen of the couch", doesn't like outside because the couch is inside, thus the majority of her time is sleeping. She does let me know by barking if I have gone past the normal time of feeding them.

So there is today's thought. Plenty of time to decide what to do, trailer or camper. I really don't want to hit the road until at least two of my vehicles are sold. Both were detailed over the weekend. The old '94 truck is getting visits, the '06 Mini Cooper is getting calls and texts with questions. In the meantime, I'll work in the yard, downsize more stuff inside and enjoy my new freedom.

Here is my idea of a great camping spot for weeks at a time

April 18, 2014

First Week Off Is a Success

It was week ago today when I sent in my letter to the company to let them know I was retiring. It's been a fast week, with NO stress of any kind, and a lot of things got accomplished. In fact I have not thought about work or my past job for one second. If I didn't have my exit interview appointment on my iPhone calendar, there would be a chance that I would forget all about it. I did get a lot of emails from co-workers that either worked at home on Monday when I was there or didn't realize that I was sneaking out without the goodbyes. They didn't realize I finally did what I warned them about ... retirement. All of them understand and are excited about my future plans. A majority of them wished they could do the same thing.

This week I started looking at trailers and trucks to replace the Class C I sold last week. I ended up with a good truck as a tow vehicle. I have my 1994 Chevy Truck cleaned and sitting down the hill by the highway with For Sale signs, a new bench seat cover, two new floor mats, plus the oil filter and oil was changed just last Saturday. I would say the future new owner will be happy with their purchase. It is also listed on Craig's List. My Mini Cooper was also washed today, will vacuum the inside Saturday morning. I've had one caller from Indianapolis, 70 miles away, wanting to drive down and see it Saturday. In these kind of sales you never know who will show up and who will not.

That is one thing I like so far about being away from work, there is no pressure to get something done that day. Normally I would have spent more time to finish the vacuuming and spraying the stuff on the tires to make them look great ... but today after washing a truck and a car, I didn't feel like finishing it today. A dog walk was a better option on a beautiful day. As far as the potential buyers, if they show up fine, if not, doesn't matter. The Mini Cooper is also listed on Craig's List, a few dollars below the NADA value because of a few cosmetic blemishes I would fix if I were to keep it.

I've looked at trailers most of the week online. Talked to some people on the phone and via email for trailer ideas and opinions. I have narrowed the search .. I think?? I have had some people send me some pretty good ideas, all of them considering the fact that I will be traveling with dogs which one of them is pretty good size. Of course the majority of trailers that I like are 1500-2000 miles west of me. I like that idea of sitting inside a trailer before I buy it, kind of visualizing what it would look and feel like living in it with my hounds. I would like to kind of get a feel for it, what kind of vibe I get when I am sitting in the trailer day-dreaming. So, will that distance play a factor in my purchase? A lot of people buy trailers, rvs from a distance. I have bought old VW buses from a distance and paid for them just by what the pictures showed and what the owners told me. It seems different doing that with something you are going to be living in.

At least if I have to travel to check them out, I don't have to ask for a day off from work to travel...LOL

So to end the week, I have great weather, happy dogs because they can go out anytime they want now, a couple of vehicles for sale, a great new to me truck, and a plan that is in action while not even being May 1 yet.

Thanks to those for the helpful emails, blog comments, phone calls, .. all very helpful information.

One thing I forgot to mention. This past week is the first time in years I haven't gotten up multiple times during the night. I have slept through the night from the time I got to bed until the time the hounds wake me up. Currently normal time because they think I am going to work. Instead of staying up until 1-2am and getting 4-5 hours of interrupted sleep, like I have for years, I've been getting close to 8 hours of un-interrupted sleep. I am also noticing some diet changes taking place showing the proof that stress did play a part in the junk food I ate on a daily basis.

April 16, 2014

Bought a Tow Vehicle

As much as I like my 1994 Chevy 2500 Cheyenne truck and it's temptation to use to save some money, I thought it might be uncomfortable for not only the hounds but also myself. Traveling on a single cab bench seat might not prove to be the right decision a 1,000 miles down the highway. The hounds love the ride in the truck to the vet but that is only 24 miles round trip. A lot different than traveling 1500 miles to get there and then through the western states. The more I thought about it, the more I knew three things.

I needed:
   -  4x4
   -  Crew Cab
   -  1500 or 2500HD or F150

The crew cab for the hounds and the HD and 4x4 to keep me out of trouble.Now I can tow anything I want. I have no desire to tow a 'house' but at least this gets me out of the range of 18' trailers.

It's strange how putting pictures of things you want work, but a few weeks ago when I decided to sell the Class C and go the truck/trailer combo, I changed my desktop picture on my iMac to my friends picture of his 2003 Chevy Silverado towing a trailer in Utah. Well today I bought a 2006 Chevy Silverado about the same color as my friends.

The day started with me heading to Bloomington to check out a truck I had seen on a local website. A Chevy 2500 4x4 that was priced fair but since those lower priced (less than $25K) don't seem to hang around long in this area, I realized there was a chance it might be sold. I was right. I got to the car lot early Wednesday morning to find out it sold the night before and had not been updated on the dealer's website yet. So I drove down the street to a friend of mine's car lot, one where I have bought a few (my addiction) cars from him. He usually has a good choice of used trucks to choose from.

So really for the first time in my life, I pretty well knew what I was looking for and what price range I would settle for. He will budge some on his prices but not much. As I pulled in he was taking pictures of a truck that had just been detailed that morning and had been parked not 5 minutes before I got there. He had the trucks I had seen on his website but they were more than I wanted to pay. I didn't drive over to look at those. I was wanting to see if something might have just come into his lot or at least let him know what I was looking for.

He was taking pictures of a 2006 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 4x4, Crew Cab (4 doors), short bed. It was one of my favorite colors, light between a silver and gold. I checked it out from bumper to bumper, including scooting on my back to check out the underside of the truck. It had only a couple of small dings in the body, nothing major and to be honest I always like a truck that has kinda a used look to it. Not trashed out but not showroom quality either, because it is going to get used off-road and about once per year I make a mistake (joke) that causes slight damage.

By the time I crawled out from under the truck, with a satisfactory inspection, he was back from his office tossing me the keys and told me to call him if I got it hung up someplace. Good salesman eh?? He already knows I have the bait in my mouth and very close of being hooked. Well to say the least, it drove like a dream. Smooth quiet and had power when I needed it. A lot of room inside front and back. Great condition. No rust, which is rare for a Midwestern truck.

So here is the new tow vehicle with the hounds starting their inspection:

Now that has been taken care of, it is time to find something to live in. My plans seem to be moving on right on schedule. This retirement life isn't a bad deal, I like it.

April 14, 2014

Retirement Has Started Early

Last Friday when I sent in my resignation, I didn't want to go back to work.  I had a great weekend, great weather, had a close friend visit that I had not seen in 18 years....and by Sunday night I mentioned that I had no desire to return to work. So would I sacrifice some vacation pay to start my retirement earlier than April 25 and keep my sanity?

By late afternoon Monday I requested and received approval to take 9 days vacation, all the way up to my 1pm exit interview on the 25th. So starting tomorrow morning, the iPhone alarm clock will no longer be going off. That doesn't mean I will not rise early, it just means it may not be until right before sunrise. The hounds will be happy being able to go out multiple times per day everyday, instead of sleeping all day. I will be happy because I am finished with a job that I couldn't stand by the end of the day.

I come close to meeting the retirement date I stated on this blog in October 2011 and that was to retire in May 2014.

So I have been going through the gauntlet of vehicle possibilities. Not trading trucks but what to buy as far as a camper or a trailer. I know with the hounds, it looks like a trailer. As a couple of fellow readers suggested by email, with the hounds I have, nothing less than a 24' trailer.

So it looks like I am trailer bound. No answers back from my questions on the used Nash trailers I have found for sale. One Bigfoot trailer possibility. Of course nothing in my Midwestern location for those two brands of 4 season trailers.

Don't forget the lunar eclipse later tonight/early morning.

April 11, 2014

I Sent My Resignation Letter Today

After years of analyzing and the past few months of thinking about it, analyzing all the personal financial information on my spreadsheets and trying to make it until May 30, 2014 .... I decided today "enough is enough".  I had been unhappy in my job rut for quite a while but liked the money. I'm not sure if I was burned out but there were just too many new plans that I wanted more than just making more money.

I sent the required resignation letter to my HR department and Department Manager today, stating that April 25 will be my last day of work.  I had a quick response from the HR department and they will set up my exit interview and the processing of my separation package.

Major relief was felt on the dog walk this afternoon.

I've been spending time looking at the All-Weather trailers made by Bigfoot and Nash. Thinking of hooking one of those up to a 4x4 pickup truck and going with that combination. I can say that I feel much better that the RV is sold, than I did when I bought it.  I was happy I bought it but I am thrilled that I sold it. With the recent weather changes of cold weather at night in the SW and Southern Texas, I thought an All-Weather trailer would be the way to go.

The plans may have changed recently but they look clearer and closer to happening than they have ever been.

April 10, 2014

The RV is SOLD!!

The 2004 Coachmen Freedom 258db was sold last night and the buyer picked it up today, cash in hand. Now before you 'sprint' to the comment section, let me explain.

"She" fought hard to stay. The buyer did a very detailed look over, even on the roof. Let the engine idle but turned down my offer of a test drive. ONLY LATER after he left I found out why his refusing the offer was a GREAT idea. See even from the first day of buying this RV, Murphy's Law has always been sitting on my shoulder and last night was a glowing example.

The buyer left, gave me a deposit that was not asked for and said he would be back today to pay in cash and pick it up. I thought I would drive down to the local station and top off the gas tank for him, as I did just a couple of weeks ago when I checked tires.  Only this time while the RV had been sitting on leveling blocks on ground that was more than saturated from the winter weather but this past Monday we had 2" of new rain.

You are getting the picture.  Here is a hint ... don't laugh too hard.  :)

Yes, you're right ... The 'sold' RV was stuck in the mud. So with a calm response (surprising), a shovel and some plywood .... and time ... I was able to drive it out of the muck. 

That lead to another hour or so, hosing off the under carriage, in between the dual tires that had solid mud between them and the tire sidewalls inside them and outside. By the time I finished everything looked like new, including my Keen shoes.

The Coachmen never felt like the right vehicle. I had buyer's remorse very soon after the purchase. The more time I spent inside with the hounds, the bigger the hounds looked and the less space the RV looked like it had. The more I looked at my list of things to take, the storage was an issue. I'm not planning on taking a ton of stuff but just the basics. I would have had to tow to travel off the beaten path once camp is set up plus have a vehicle for emergencies without packing everything up and driving only the RV.

I basically bought this RV 11 days  after swearing last September I would not buy anything until I got down to just one basset hound and giving any of the hounds away was NOT an option. It was local buy, only 12 miles away which had me thinking of the $1,000's of dollars saved by not buying out of state. It was in great shape, yada yada yada.

All the options of towing or not towing were analyzed beyond the norm. I didn't want to tow the Mini Cooper because that would be a terrible off road vehicle. Towing the H3 Hummer with the 5.7L and camper weight was borderline at best. Storage was the next concern. With what I would need to take with me, just traveling with the RV was out of the question, very little storage in that model of Coachmen.

I plan on selling my all of my vehicles, raise more cash, combine that will my vacation pay that is owed and other separation pay I will receive when I leave my job on May 30... then buy something for cash.

It is great to be shopping again for addicts like myself.

I have a plan in place to still hit the road. I still plan on retiring May 30 and at the minimum take the 3 hounds out west on a 'vacation' in some sort of camping vehicle.

Of course one of my local friends suggested keeping my Mini and towing something like this ... LOL.  The trailer does fold out into the tent that is pictured below.

Stay tuned for future developments! I've got to get to Utah no matter what.

April 01, 2014

The Blog is Back - RV is DE-Winterized

(Editor's Note: Not an April Fools Joke)

As you look at the home page you will notice the most recent posts I did are gone .... not sure why? A week or so ago I decided to delete my blog, get out of blogville so that is where I've been. At times it bothers me with the amount of personal information that is online. Also soon to be retired the question kept bugging me on how much or how many commitments do I really want after I retire. Will more followers/readers require bogging on a more frequent basis. Would I want unexpected visitors while traveling, like I have read recently on other blogs.

So the easy way was to just delete the blog and forget it. Still there are times I do enjoy writing. It's kind of like a journal for my whole process of "bad brain" thinking and at the same time a source of information for others that are looking for trailer info, towing info, motorhome info and traveling with dogs. So maybe all of my gibberish may help someone in the future if it hasn't already.

As of today and for the future the blog is back and I'll try to blog on a regular basis. I just find it hard to post since the weather has FINALLY changed for the best here in the Midwest plus I am not traveling yet.

So there are many days I don't have anything I feel would be interesting to my readers to put on the blog.

Last Saturday it rained most of the morning with a good weather forecast tarting last Sunday. My 10 day forecast looked like the over night freezing temps were over for the year, so I decided to de-winterize the RV.

Since I have been paying for road side service via insurance (too high), I decided to call and have them come out and repair the flat tire I had from sitting in the winter. I am glad I did because the lug wrench would not have worked. He used an impact wrench to get the lug nuts off and had the spare installed with the valve extensions, without a problem. He then aired up the flat tire because I had told him it sounded as if the loss of air was from the extended valve. 24 hours later the tire still the full amount of air in it, so it is a bad extended valve that caused the flat.

Sunday I started early with the de-winterizing process and It took less time than the process of winterizing. Then I pulled the chalks, fired it up, headed down the narrow drive with just enough room to miss the corner of my house and headed to the local air pumps to bring the tires up to the required weight. I took about a 12 mile test drive and the rig rode smooth and quiet. I wanted to keep going without going back to the house, it was that enjoyable.

So the blog is back, the rig is ready to hit the road and the weather has been great for a change.