Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Monday, March 29, 2010

Much Needed Vacation

Our family is leaving for a vacation to Seattle on Wednesday! We'll be gone for a week. I love vacationing with our adult children. We have had some great times. They are very appreciative and there is no more "he's on my side of the seat, he's looking out my window, he's picking on me" to listen to. :)

Every few years we have taken our adult boys on a trip. It started in 2004 when I told my husband that we should take them on a trip because it would probably be the last time we would go on a family vacation since they were adults and had girlfriends and would be too busy to go. We decided to go to San Francisco and had a great time. Then in 2005 Kevin turned 50 and our youngest son turned 21. Kevin enjoys Vegas so I just had to plan a family trip to Vegas to celebrate his birthday. This would surely be the last trip both boys could take with us. Two years ago Easter was very early. Spring training was still in session during Easter break. This is a rare occurrence. Our entire family are big Milwaukee Brewers fans. So, of course, we had to go to Arizona for spring training. Since we were pretty sure we would be fulltiming sometime in 2010, it made total sense to plan one last family vacation before we were on a more limited income. I asked the boys where they would like to go. I was expecting a cruise or Disney. Instead, they said we had never been to the Northwest; so Seattle here we come. I can't wait!!! I'm sure this will be the last family vacation we take them on (wink, wink).

We had showings 33, 34 and 35 of the house this weekend. Showing #36 is this afternoon. Still keeping our fingers crossed. I think they may stay permanently crossed after all this time. We appreciate all the support we've received. Thanks!

From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, however, makes a life. Arthur Ashe

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

RV Accessory Shopping

Last Saturday we drove to Camping World in Madison to purchase some items for the RV. It's items we will need while camphosting this summer at Astigo County Park in Columbus, WI.

Our site has 50 amp electric, but no water or sewer hook-up. That meant we needed to buy a sewer tote. For those of you who aren't familiar with RV camping, let me explain. You know when you use that toilet and shower in your RV, the waste has to go somewhere. It goes into holding tanks attached to the underside of the RV. Some RV sites have a sewer pipe in the ground. When your tanks are full, you just hook up your sewer hose to the pipe and flush away. If you don't have a sewer site, but you only camped for a short period of time, you empty your tanks at the dump station.

The park we will be staying at has a dump station, but that would mean we would have to hook up the entire trailer every 5 to 7 days to dump the tanks. Somewhere along the line, someone invented a portable tote to take care of this nasty little chore. You empty your RV tank into the tote, hook it onto your hitch at the back of your vehicle and pull it to the dump station. Then you use your sewer hose to make the dump. This will definitely be Kevin's chore!

We also bought another fresh water hose to put water into our fresh water tank. There is a water outlet near where we will be parked and we should have enough hose now to fill from there. If not, we may need to buy a water bladder. I didn't even know there was such a thing. It hold 45 gallons of water. It folds up into a 12" x 12" x 4" square when not in use. You put it in the bed of your truck, fill it up, take it back to the camper and fill your tank.

I also bought a 200 watt inverter so I can use the laptop in the truck while we travel. We have internet through our cell phone so can be online while we travel as long as we get cell phone service. Cool, huh!!

We have never stayed at a place for any length of time without water and sewer hook-up so this will be a new and interesting experience for us. We really didn't want to turn down the opportunity for this camphosting gig because we will get some experience and it will be a resume builder. Plus we really like the park. Our site is right on a river. We'll be sitting under our awning looking right at the water.

Our main job will be to rent canoes and kayaks. We are required to work 15 hours a week (3 hours a day for 5 days). That's it. We don't get paid, but we get a free campsite, electricity and firewood. We will be co-hosting with someone who was there last year. We may also help out with some registrations and selling firewood.

We're excited to get started. Today are showings #31 and #32 of the house. Now all we need is an offer. Keep your fingers crossed for us :)

There are two primary choices in life;
to accept conditions as they exist,
or accept the responsibility for changing them. Denis Waitley

Monday, March 22, 2010

Decisions, Decisions and What Ifs

Last week we had temperatures in the 50s and 60s. If you have been raised in Wisconsin or anywhere in a northern climate, you know that this is considered a heat wave for March. Kevin and I decided to take advantage of the balmy temperatures by taking some walks after work. I absolutely love going on walks with my husband. We do some of our best talking on these walks.

Since our house still hasn't sold, we talked about the what ifs. Our real estate listing contract will expire at the end of May. The federal stimulus money for home buyers will expire at the end of April. What if we get an offer before the end of April? That would be the best news, but how will we coordinate the start of our volunteer camphosting position with cleaning out the house. Will Kevin have to stay at the campground, and I will stay at home to take care of details. That could work.

Worst case, what if the house hasn't sold by the end of May. What will we do? We discussed several options. Kevin is no longer employed. My job is becoming more unbearable by the minute. Could we make it work if neither one of us was working anymore? That's a huge what if. It seems like this is all we ever talk about.

We have had a nice couple interested in a lease to own option since last year. The husband is in graduate school and will be finished in about a year. He has a job lined up, but they can't get a mortgage until he is officially employed. It's a scary thing to contemplate. What if they didn't pay? What if they trashed the house? What if, what if, what if????

We are not irresponsible people. We have weighed every option from multiple angles. Financially, we could make it work until the house sells. But, do we take the risk? Is starting the dream now worth having less money for a rainy day? How safe should we play it? In this economy, it appears that thinking outside the box is required. Probably some risk-taking is also required.

We have now had 30 showings of the house. It is amazing what buyer's expect and want. Our home is older and priced to sell for its age. It is priced under assessed and recently appraised value. This still doesn't seem to be enough for buyers. They seem to want a new house at a used price.

What if the people who looked at it over the weekend make an offer? Wouldn't that just be great!!!!

Keeping my fingers crossed in "balmy" Wisconsin.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Brother

Yesterday was my "little" brother's birthday. He is my only sibling and is 9-1/2 years younger than I am. I thought I'd share why there are only two of us and why he is so much younger than I am.

My parents were born and raised in Germany. My mom lived in East Germany and my dad lived in West Germany. They met at the confirmation of a mutual family friend. They married in 1956 when my mom was 18 years old. My dad really wanted to get her out of East Germany as quickly as possible so they didn't have a long courtship.

A little over a year later I was born. They lived in a very small village far from any hospital or even a doctor's office. I was to be born at home with a mid-wife in attendance. Well, I ended up being 3 weeks late. I weighed about 11 pounds (can you say huge!) My mom was in labor for a very long time. The mid-wife was very afraid we would both die. Finally, the mid-wife told my mom to give it one more try and push as hard as she could or the baby would probably not make it. My mom gave it one more heroic try and miraculously I was born. My mom had to stay in bed for an entire week because of blood loss and other complications.

A year later they immigrated to the United States with my dad's parents and brother. So now they were in a new country with a baby, didn't speak English and didn't have much money. But, this was the land of opportunity. Well, it wasn't as easy as they thought. They struggled to find jobs. Eventually, they found jobs, worked very hard and were able to make a decent life for us.

My dad had always wanted another child. My mom was having none of it. She never wanted to endure that experience again! Finally, almost 9 years after I was born, she agreed to try for another child. So, in 1967 I finally got my little brother. He was born in a hospital and everything went very well. I was the happiest little girl in the neighborhood. I had waited a very long time for a sibling, and I mothered him to death.

You can see that he is special to me. I'm sure he wasn't always thrilled to have a big sister mothering (or should I say smothering) him, but he didn't complain too much. So, Happy Birthday, Ron. I wish you many, many more!

A brother is a friend given by Nature. ~ Jean Baptiste Legouve

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day

This is for you mathematical types out there. I am a school secretary in a middle school. On Friday one of our math teachers reminded us that today is Pi Day. As in pi = 3.1415....
Get it: 3.14 as in March 14th. I am math challenged so it doesn't mean anything to me, but I thought some of you might want to celebrate :)

We had 2 house showings this weekend. Our agent tells us that things are getting much busier because the home buyer incentives will end April 30th. Many buyers are now window shopping in the hopes of finding a home they want to make an offer on before the end of April. The closing can be as late as June 30th. So, we are still keeping our fingers crossed.

It seems there have been so many times in our lives that things happened for a reason. When looking back, we understood that by being patient, everything worked out for the best. I believe God has a hand in these outcomes. Hopefully, He has a great outcome in the works for us regarding this house selling business because waiting is so VERY hard :)

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us" Author Unknown

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home Inspectors - Are They Worth It?

This is going to be a bit of a rant on our recent experience with a home inspector. So get ready!

Our house was built in 1977 and we moved into it in 1984. That means the house is 33 years old, and we've owned it for 26 of those years. It is priced to sell as a used home; not a new one. It is in excellent condition. We have worked hard to maintain it.

About a month ago, we received a low-ball offer from some buyers. After 4 counter-offers, we finally agreed upon a price (still a very good deal for them). Now to the home inspector. He came in and wrote a 26 page report. He actually found only a few minor items that needed to be repaired (which we have since done). However, on every section of his report he wrote "potential for failure" and recommended having a licensed electrician, plumber and HVAC service person inspect all the mechanicals. One pipe in the basement had a bit of rust on it so he wrote there was a possibility of a substantial leak behind the wall and this too should be inspected by a licensed contractor. He charged the buyer $420 for this report in which he took no responsibility and passed the buck on everything.

The buyers went nuts. They now wanted us to pay for licensed contractors to come in and check everything. They also wanted us to purchase a home warranty and replace items that were in perfect working order. They became so unreasonable, we had to back out of the deal.

When we bought this house, there was no such thing as a home inspection. I think the original idea of having a professional inspector check to make sure there weren't any hidden problems was a good concept. Our real estate agent told us that in the past few years some inspectors have been sued because buyer's felt they missed something so now some inspectors are recommending contractors inspect everything to cover their behinds.

So, what was once a good idea to protect buyers has now become a nightmare for sellers. I'm sure not all inspectors are this ridiculous, but here is another example where our litigious society has gone haywire.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has had this experience with a home inspection. Well, we have another showing on Saturday; maybe this is the one.

Trying to stay hopeful .........

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stuff, Stuff And More Stuff (And A Few Treasures, Too)

One of the most daunting projects when changing your lifestyle to fulltime RVing, is what to do with all your things.

I've read many other fulltimers blogs, and it seems everyone has a different way to accomplish this task.

First, I offered our sons whatever they wanted. They didn't want much! No matter how much I told them that my Hummels, collector plates and other treasures should be considered family heirlooms, they just weren't interested. Neither are married. I think if they had wives, they would have taken more. I decided I would not keep things "just in case" they wanted them later. I will keep a few personal treasures, some Christmas items, our tax returns and a few other special items. These will fit into several storage bins. Our son has agreed to keep these for us.

You may have noticed I did not mention pictures in the items I am keeping. I have scanned all of our pictures and slides (thousands of them) to our computer. I also purchased a program that allowed me to transfer VHS tapes to the computer. We had over 50 hours worth of taped band concerts, baseball games, soccer games, etc. saved on VHS tapes. It took me months to accomplish this because I edited as I went along. I kept just a bit of each event and created a file for each year. I really had fun doing this. No one had watched those tapes in a long time, and it was fun watching my little boys grow up all over again. My biggest concern was losing the files if my harddrive crashed. So, I bought three external harddrives. I copied the videos and pictures onto each one. Now each son has a copy and I have a back-up copy as well. THEN, I threw away the VHS tapes and the pictures. That was one of the hardest things I have done. At first I was going to save them, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized no one was going to look at them. They would just sit in a storage bin. So, out they went. I can hear some of you gasping as you read this. If you want to save your pictures, by all means do so! Everyone has a different tolerence for what they let go.

We began planning for our lifestyle change over three years ago. At that time, I discovered selling on ebay. It has been a very successful outlet for me to sell quite a bit of our stuff (Kevin would call it junk). I have been amazed time and time again what people will buy. It was not difficult to set up an account. I started small with a few items, and worked my way up. There is a time commitment involved; cleaning your items, taking pictures, downloading pictures, preparing well written and descriptive entries, communicating with buyers, packing the items, and then shipping them. I feel it has been extremely worthwhile. I have made over $2,000 selling our old stuff on ebay. There is no way I would have gotten the same prices at an estate sale or rummage sale. Most of what I sold were older items we had laying around from the 70s and 80s. Old toys our sons left behind fetched a nice price. My 1960s Barbie items sold for an astonishing amount. The Barbie accessories (case, clothes, kitchen) sold for more than the actual doll. Frequently, I was going to throw something away or give it to charity. At the last minute, I would decide to research it on ebay first and wind up getting a pretty penny for it. Things like used blank cassette tapes, old toys, slide projector and trays, a turntable and other old stuff laying around all sold for a decent amount. I encourage everyone to give it a try if you have the time before you must get rid of all your stuff.

Another excellent avenue for selling has been Craigslist. Items that were too large for ebay sold very well on Craigslist. When we began staging our house for selling, we sold some of our furniture. We have also sold yard items, outdoor Christmas decorations, and snow fence. All for cash, of course. No checks or money orders. Did you know crooks are now passing fake money orders? We even sold our previous 5th wheel on Craigslist.

The final step will be an estate/moving sale. I have interviewed several companies that do these types of sales in our area. After all is said and done, they end up with somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of the total sales. It sounds like a lot, but in return, I don't have to deal with it. We live in a somewhat rural area and rummage sales just aren't that successful. So, once we have a firm closing date on the house, I will set a date for the estate sale.

Speaking of selling the house; still no luck. After accepting two offers, it is still not sold. The first buyers are still trying to sell their house. The second buyers just didn't work out. So, it's still being shown. To date, we've had 26 showings in 3 months. We have 5 or 6 who say they may come back for a second look or that it is in their top 2. Come on people, make us an offer!!!

We've had temperatures in the 40's the last few days. I've got spring fever! :)

"The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Something's Not Right

I have been following the trip journal of fulltimers Jo and Fred Wishnie for about a year now. They are also from Wisconsin. We have never met, but have corresponded a few times. I look forward to meeting them in our travels once we get on the road.

A few weeks ago Fred posted that Jo was in the hospital. She was quite sick and needed to stay for a few days. It turns out she has diverticulitis and it has been getting worse over the last few years.

Here's where the something wrong part comes into play. Jo retired before she was eligible for Medicare. During her career, she paid all of her health insurance premiums. When she retired, she had a difficult time finding an insurance company that would cover her. Eventually, she found a policy that would cover her, but not her diverticulitis as this was considered a pre-existing condition. She has been paying over $400 a month for this policy. She now needs surgery to correct her condition. You guessed it. The insurance company won't cover it and she will have to pay the entire costs of the surgery. She took the risk that this might happen when she bought the policy. But, why did she even have to make that choice?

I know there are many people in this country who are opposed to changes in health insurance. I think some politicians and the lobbyists for the health insurance industry have done an extremely good job scaring people. I believe the health care system in this country is very broken. There are two main issues that really bother me about health insurance.

One: Why is it that in our travels, whenever we come into a city with a downtown, the largest buildings always belong to banks or insurance companies? These same companies that needed our tax dollars for a bailout. Something smells very fishy!

Two: Why is it that our tax dollars can pay for our police and fire protection, but not our health protection? I don't hear anyone complaining about equal protection for fire and police. People from every income level get the same protection. Isn't protecting our health just as important? Can't our politicians find a way to protect all of our citizens?

I don't have the answers, but I know something stinks about the way things are now. I feel bad for Jo and Fred. I hope things work out for them. It doesn't make sense to me that they are even in this situation. I give them credit for not letting this get them down. They have an amazing spirit!

If you would like to read the details of their story, here's the link to their blog.

With something to think about......See you soon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Garbage Truck People

I was cleaning up my desk and found an email someone sent me a few months ago. I remember printing it because I thought it was so true. I thought I would share it here.

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.

I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe what happened next. The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face. And for emphasis, he threw in a one finger salute, as if his words were not enough.

But then here’s what really blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck.”

He said: Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.

As I said, I got this in one of those emails that has been forwarded around the globe. I don't know who wrote it, but it struck me as so true.

In my experience, I run into garbage truck people at work more than anywhere else. Getting away from these type of people is one of the primary reasons the fulltime RV lifestyle appeals so much to us. From everything I've seen in forums, travel journals, blogs, etc. it seems fulltimers are friendly and relaxed. Friendships are quickly formed; everyone is accepted for who they are; your career, size of house, how many toys you have mean nothing. I can't wait to get away from so many garbage truck people!

Have a great day!