2013 January 22

2013 January 22

This is Tuesday.  However, it has felt like Saturday to me all day.  I had coffee with the guys here at Shady Oaks Riverside RV Retreat this morning.  And then came home to find that Ella was eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  This is a break from routine.  Generally I fix breakfast (for both of us) eat mine and then go to coffee while she catches the last hour or so of sleep.  This morning I didn’t get up until a little after 7.  Well, the gang gets together for coffee at 7:30 so I didn’t eat before I went this morning.  I had in mind to come back and fry some sausage and eggs for our breakfast.  However, since she was eating cereal, I also had a bowl.  Strangely, I seldom eat cereal for breakfast.  I might have it for supper if we’ve had a large lunch or I might have it for a bedtime snack, but seldom for breakfast.

I spent most of the morning importing old blog entries from two of my preexisting blogs: Home Is Wherethe 5th Wheel is and North Pole News.  The original intent of the first one was to give advice to fellow RVers and encouragement and insight for newbie RVers.  While the reason for the second blog was to chronicle our daily lives (mostly for our family and friends).

These two blogs were both inspired by blogs that I formerly had through AOL.  However, AOL discontinued that service and most of the information I had posted there was not recovered.  (Lesson learned … back up everything)  At any rate, what has become evident over the last several years is, I can’t compartmentalize our lives that easily.

We are fulltimers.  We live in our RV(s) all the time, all year.  Therefore much of what happens in our daily lives is directly linked to RVing.  So, here I am creating this new blog, RVing Fulltime With Tom And Ella, which will be a more complete story of our lives.  I will keep the Home Is Where The 5th Wheel Is blog going and copy some of the articles from this blog back to there.  I plan to also add a “Page” on this blog that deals with some of the do it yourself, repair, maintenance, joys and problems of RV living.

This afternoon Ella and I drove to Marble Falls for some shopping.  I needed some items from Lowes and groceries from WalMart.

At Lowe’s I purchase Elmer’s wood glue and clamps to repair a broken cutting board/sink cover.  I also bought some Reflectix insulationwith which I will make sun-blocking window covers for the Hitch Hiker we will leave in Texas.  I’m told it gets hot in Texas in the summer!  I’ll post photos and more info on that project as I go.



We returned home from our shopping just about supper time.  We had pancakes.  And, as I was eating them, I remembered that I am to ‘fast’ after midnight for some blood work tomorrow.  I hope that the syrup is out of my system before they check my blood sugar (I’m pre-diabetic) and have been able to keep it in check with diet and meds.  And no, it wasn’t sugar free syrup, and I usually don’t put syrup on my pancakes.  I like them with just butter/margarine.

After (the unfortunate choice of) supper, I worked on moving more files.  I now have archives for 2010 and 2011 available for viewing by going to the ‘Pages’ tabs at the top of the blog.  It is now a little after nine p.m. and I’m going to post this and then get off of the computer for the night.

2013 January 20 Sunday


This is a panorama shot of the special missionary presentation during Sunday school time at Highland Lakes UMC

(I wasn’t as steady as I needed to be and ended up with the gal in the purple top, twice in the same shot.

This giant pink rabbit was my pew buddy for today in church. I say he was mine however the truth is that he sat on Ella’s lap most of the service.  These stuffed animals are scattered all over the sanctuary at this church.  How friendly is that!

Later we had lunch at 

Highlander Restaurant Llc

in Burnet.  Good eats and fair price make it a nice place to visit for a Sunday buffet.

The rest of the day has been spent transferring posts for the old blog to the archive section of this blog.  So far I have only gotten 2010 January through August transferred.  Still a lot to go.

>>>Note from 2017 I have been transferring posts from 2013 to this new new blog. Now I wonder where those posts from 2010 are?<<<

The rest of the day has been spent transfering posts for the old blog to the archive section of this blog.  So far I have only gotten 2010 January through August transfered.  Still a lot to go.

2013 January 19 Saturday

The photo makes this glorious pre-dawn look almost foreboding.  It wasn’t.

Yesterday (January 18 – Friday) after our morning coffee groups, we took a drive.  We ended up in Burnet (for those not from these parts, it is not pronounced Bur-net.  It is Burn-it and pronounced very quickly).  We stopped and refilled our empty 3 gallon water jug at Consolidated Water Resources.  (The water at the RV park is filtered and softened … which makes it technically potable but not very tasty.)

Across the street from Consolidated is the Knot Hole Antiques and More.  We wandered around there for a while and admired how clean and organized it is.  After our experience the other day with some “Junk” stores on highway 29, it was a pleasure to find such a nice place to shop.

From there we went to the Dollar General in Burnet.  They have discounted the Christmas items by up to 70%.  That made it perfect shopping for us.  Ella picked up a lot of items that will go into Christmas stockings (both for Christmas in July in Iowa and Christmas in Texas next winter.)

Today (January 19) after lunch, we again went for a drive.  We’ve been doing this every since we arrived in Texas.  It helps us to become familiarized with the area.  Anyway, today we ended up in Sunset Beach which is located along the shore of Lake LBJ.  We found many roads that ended in ‘dead end’ signs and one highway that just ends by going into someone’s drive.  We eventually found our way to an intersection with highway 71 which I knew went through Llano.  The sign at the intersection said that if we would turn left we would end up in Austin.

We turned left.  However, a short way down the highway was a sign saying ‘Austin 55 miles’.  We didn’t feel we had time enough left in the day to go to Austin and back.  So, we made a U-turn (actually a 3-point turn in a driveway) and headed back toward Llano.

     As we were coming into Llano, right after crossing the river, we saw another Dollar General.  More Christmas items and I also bought Christmas plates and cups which we will use as everyday dishes while in Texas.  Now I have enough for ten place settings.  The real trick is … I don’t know where I would set ten people in our fifth wheel.  But there is plenty of room in our “backyard”.

The Beginning Part Five

Friday, December 9


I had written earlier about the unpleasant surprise we had when we went to move our Road Ranger fifth wheel and how that was causing us to rethink our plans.  Since that time we have been looking (mostly online) at fifth wheels and travel trailers.  A couple days ago, while online, Ella found an older Excel at Plaza RV in Bondurant.  There were lots of photos of the trailer and it looks like it is very similar to the Road Ranger in size and layout.  The biggest difference is the placement of the entrance door.  The Excel’s is near the rear of the trailer (like the Hitch Hiker’s) instead of in the middle like the Road Ranger’s.  Today, being a bright sunny day, we decided to drive over an take a look at it in real life.  The battery was down and the slide out was in and the baggage door locks were frozen shut, so we didn’t see it quite as completely as we’d hoped.


I told the salesman that we were not ready to buy and that we’d check back in the spring.  If it is still there, we’d be interested.  The salesman said that if we’d take it now, he’d knock $1,500 of the price.  I said I did not want to have to store it until spring.  He said he’d store it for us.  Darn!  Now we have to decide what to do.

Insert passage of time here.

Later that same day.  We decided that we needed to take another look at the trailer.  I called the dealership and told them that we would like another look with the slide out and with the baggage doors open.  Dave, the salesman, said to give him an hour to ninety minutes and he’d take the trailer inside to thaw out.

So for an additional hour, we did some praying, soul searching, some considering “what ifs” and then went back to take another look.

We looked it over very carefully, looking for bowed or warped walls, soft spots in the floor, rust, damage, excessive wear etc.  We opened every door and drawer, tried every light and inspected all appliances.  The only thing I could not check was the roof, because there is no roof ladder.

We really liked it, partially I think because it is so much like our Road Ranger, which we really have enjoyed.  The only part that I’m not thrilled about is the ceiling height in the living room area.  The ceiling is only about 6’6”.  I’m 6’1” and a lot of my family are taller than that.  Well, I guess we just won’t be doing any jumping around it it.  Dave gave us a lot of ‘alone time’ to discuss it and we decided to buy it.  We’ll go Monday to get the money out of Ella’s retirement account.

We Did It!

We went to Plaza RV in Bondurant and wrote them a check for the 1995 Excel RLJM 5th wheel trailer that we looked at the other day.  This wasn’t a trade deal.  We still have the Hitch Hiker that we are living in.  Plaza RV will store the Excel until Spring.  At that point we will move the HH off of our seasonal site and set the Excel in place.  It will become our Northern/Summer home.  The HH will follow us to Texas in the Fall of 2012 and become our Southern/Winter home.  The plan is to leave the HH in storage in Texas when we return to Iowa in the Spring of 2013.

The Beginning Part Four

We purchased the second RV, a 2001 Hitch Hiker.  We intentionally purchased a smaller fifth-wheel (30’) because it would be easier and less expensive to tow to Texas.  Since we would be living in the Hitchhiker (from now on referred to as HH) for only about four months of the year, it would not have to have all of the storage space that the RR had.  We did chuckle to ourselves that the trailer we bought to take to Texas is a full four season and the one we were leaving in Iowa was only a three season.  Little did we suspect the changes that were in store for us!

We purchased the HH and made arrangement to have the RR moved from our seasonal site at Cutty’s.  The RR was going into storage so that we could give the HH a good ‘break in’ period.  The plan was to live in the HH through another Iowa winter, spring, summer and fall before heading to Texas.  That would let us become accustomed to the trailer.  The reality of what happened was; the slideout on the RR refused to slide in.  Upon examination, it was discovered that a corner portion of the slideout had suffered water damage and ‘dropped’ several inches.  It may be repairable.  However, since the RV is twenty years old, the cost is likely more than the trailer is worth.  The Cutty’s maintenance staff was able to tow it (with the slideout still in the out position) to the on site storage area.

Now we are left with the possibility of moving all of our belongings from the RR to the HH when we had planned to only move a portion of them.  We now need to make plans to either tow the HH to Texas AND BACK or to purchase yet another new RV.   There are other options also such as renting a place to stay, abandoning the idea of moving with the seasons or …. ?

We’d just have to see what God had in store for us.  For now we are settled in for another Iowa winter in our new home, the HH.  We have already had our first snow of the season.  One to five inches of very heavy, wet snow that took down trees and power lines as well as snarled traffic with accidents.

The Beginning Part Three

I’m not an expert – just experienced

Imagine downsizing from our Big Old (built in 1890) Victorian home to a 35′ RV

Cutty’s Resort remains open it winter so it was possible to go ‘full time’ in the RV.  That same year we sold our 1890 Victorian home and became full-timers.

Our dream had been to retire to a ‘mobile lifestyle’.  I envisioned it being something like, waking in the morning and flipping a coin to decide if we were to travel left or right, forward or back.  We were still several years from being able to retire but we were beginning to live a version of the dream.

Our friends and family were concerned for us to the point that when we said we were going to live in the RV during the winter they asked, “Won’t you be cold?”  To which we replied, “I don’t know, ask us again in the spring.”  Well, thanks to following the advice of other full-timers, we made it through that first winter with only minor difficulties.  And, “No” we were not cold.  We learned to use foil-backed foam insulation to skirt the trailer.  We also learned to use ‘trouble lights’ to provide just a little heat behind the RV refrigerator. (Unlike household refrigerators which use a compressor, RV refrigerators rely on evaporation and must have heat to work.)  We learned to use plastic film to cover the windows.  We learned how to depend on the fresh water tank for water and how to keep the water lines from freezing.  But most of all we learned how beautiful God’s world is in the winter.

We watched the leaves on the trees around the lake turn from green to bright fall colors and then to abandon the trees for the winter.  We watched the sunlight sparkle so brightly on the lake that it almost hurt your eyes.  We watched the geese and ducks invade and then leave as they passed through to warmer areas.  Gold finches changed to their drab green fall color.  Rabbits, raccoons, deer and hawks became the winter time entertainment replacing the song birds of summer.  We discovered that the winter sun shining on snow and ice mimicked the sunlight sparkle of the summer lake.  We discovered how little we needed for us to be happy.

For the next couple of years we made the resort our home base.  However, we also were able to volunteer as camp hosts at a couple of Corp of Engineer parks around Saylorville Lake.  We both were still working full time (though we were both doing temp work).

In the years since then we have both retired.  Ella was tired of waiting for new temp jobs to open.  I had a heart attack that made me even more aware of how quickly things can change.  Since retiring, we have done more work camping and some part-time jobs.

Now that we qualify for Medicare it will give us more freedom to travel without worrying about whether our insurance will be honored.  Our plan is to travel to the Austin Texas area for the winter of 2012-2013 and then return to Iowa for the summer months.  However, we’ll see how those plans work out.  They have already gone through some revision.  The original plan was to purchase another RV to take to Texas.  We would then leave that one in storage in the south and return to Iowa and live in the RR. (to be continued)