Monday, May 31, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
When I originally called in early May to change our service from our house to the RV, I was told it was not possible and that we needed to be in one location at all times with a permanently mounted satellite. After going round and round with the guy, we finally agreed the best course was to suspend our account until we could find someone who knew what they were doing.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Kevin found a local DirecTV installer who was able to get us exactly what we needed. She shipped the satellite, the tripod, a DVR and a regular receiver for our two TVs. An installer came to our RV and hooked it all up. Finally, success. Now the only problem was we had two DirecTV accounts. I still needed to deal with the suspended account.
This is where the hour long phone call came into play. I thought I would go crazy :) By the end of the call, I had been transferred to three different people. The first person told me the accounts had to be merged and transferred me to a "merge specialist". OK, that sounded reasonable.
After holding for some time, the merge specialist came on the line. He went ahead and merged the accounts. After he was done, he told me one of our old receivers had to be transferred to the merged account. I explained our situation AGAIN; that we already had two receivers and didn't need a third one and how the original person I spoke to could have avoided all this mess if he only knew what he was talking about. Well, after going round and round, I was told an old receiver had to be transferred. The "system" would not allow anything else. No overrides were possible. I asked for a supervisor. He would not transfer me to a supervisor!! By now I was growing weak from hunger and exhaustion. I agreed to the receiver transfer figuring I'll just call a few days later and cancel the extra receiver. You guessed it, I now had to be transferred to an "activation specialist".
More time on hold. I asked the activation person if she could get around the "system" since I didn't need the receiver she was transferring. She told me to call a week later and cancel it. That's what I had already figured I would do. I have NEVER encountered such unbelievably screwed up customer service!!
The following day I received a call from a survey company asking about my DirecTV customer service call. You can imagine the earfull she got. She assured me someone from DirecTV would be calling me and solving this entire mess. That was on Wednesday; still no call from the magic person who can fix things. Go figure!
My blood pressure is now back to normal. Actually, the rest of the week was great. We have had the most beautiful weather the last several days. This has been very unusual for May in Wisconsin. Average high temps are 72 degrees. It has been in the 80s for an entire week. The Memorial Day weekend forecast is fantastic.
The campground sites are all reserved. I'm sure we will be quite busy this weekend.
I also want to report that I have had a visitor to my hummingbird feeder. I'm so excited! I'm trying to get a picture, but it never stays long enough. I don't know exactly what kind it is, but is has a green neck :)
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Monday, May 24, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Reader Merikay has asked us to tell about our duties as camphosts. In order to become camphosts we signed an agreement stating we would be available 3 hours a day, 5 days a week and that we would also be available when we were in the campground.
Our main duties are selling firewood and renting canoes and kayaks. The canoes and kayaks are not in the water yet. Supposedly that will happen this weekend. We are expecting a heatwave with temperatures in the high 80s this weekend and next week. This is extremely unusual for Wisconsin this early in the year. I'm thinking those boats will come in handy.
We are co-hosts at the park. The other host's site is right next to the wood shed. She has been on vacation for the past 2 weeks so we have been selling the firewood. Once she is back, I think most people will be buying from her as she is right there. Things here are very laid back, so I'm not sure how it will work exactly. I was thinking of suggesting we have some assigned times for the firewood so we aren't always wondering if we should be up there.
Today Kevin spent about 1-1/2 hours doing some weedwacking. That's the first time they asked him to help with that, but he doesn't mind. That's about it. We pick up garbage when we take walks and answer questions people may have. Tough job, but someone's gotta do it :)
Here's the scoop on the dog bite. Last Saturday evening Kevin and I were taking a walk. We were in the middle of the road. As we passed a campsite, this big boxer dog came out from behind the truck and bit me in the butt! I never even saw it until it was charging at me. I was very startled. It was tied to the bumper of the truck, but the leash was long enough to reach the middle of the road.
I was stunned. I felt a sting and wasn't quite sure what had happened. The owners were yelling at the dog. They never said a word to us. We just kept going. I wasn't even sure what had happened. I felt my leg and didn't feel anything wet so I knew I wasn't bleeding. When we got back home, I looked in the mirror. There were 2 red bumps. It definitely nipped me, but didn't break the skin. Now I have 2 bruises where it got me.
I have been wondering if we did the right thing in not saying anything. We are so new here and didn't want to make waves. I'm not sure the dog's owners realized I got bit. I'm fine, but I keep thinking about the dog biting someone else. What if it had been a child?
In "hindsight" I think we should have reported it. I am not anti-dogs. We have had dogs in the past. I do have a problem with people not having control of their dogs. I sure hope no one else gets bit by that dog! Oh well, it's over.
Kevin likes to have me walk next to him closest to the side of the road for safety reasons. I told him from now on, I'm walking in the middle of the road as far from the side as possible. I figure I have a better chance with cars than I do with dogs :) Big dogs scare me, and I think they must sense it.
Hopefully, this weekend we won't have any dog bites or drunks stealing wood. Most of the reserved sites this weekend will be a camping club called the Milwaukee Jaybirds. We have been members of this club since 1981. This is the first time the club will be camping in our "backyard". It will be fun to see our club friends!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I still can't say if I would do it the same again. As I mentioned in a previous post, there were pros and cons with using an estate sale company. My recommendation to anyone else out there preparing to fulltime is to get rid of as much as you can as soon as you can!
Yesterday Kevin and I went to the house for the last time. The Veterans Association came and picked up the furniture we had left to donate. It almost filled their entire box truck. Then we loaded up the back of the pick-up with the mattresses and some miscellaneous garbage we had left and took it to the dump. The house is now empty!
Kevin mowed the lawn for the last time. It was a beautiful day and he got some sun :) While he was doing that, I ran some errands. At the end of the day, I sat on the front stoop and reflected on the great years we had at that house. I can't say that I felt sad. We spent 26 years there raising our boys. The memories are wonderful, but we were so ready for the next chapter of our lives. All I saw now was the work to be done at the house. It was definitely time to let it go :)
We left the house and went to pre-sign our closing papers. The buyers sign tomorrow at 9 a.m. and the check will be wired to our account. If all goes well, we'll have the money in our account before the end of the day tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for us! We are so very close :)
After that we took our son, Eric, out for dinner. He really helped us a lot at the end with moving furniture around and letting us use his address to forward our mail. He's a great guy if I do say so myself :)
I sure was exhausted by the time I got back home to the RV.
On Tuesday we attached a hummingbird feeder to the back window. Today I have seen a hummingbird twice hovering around the feeder. So far, it has not landed. Maybe it's still a little shy :)
Here's a picture of our home. The building behind us is the office where campers check in. I put a hanging plant on a shepherd's hook in front of the little tree. We have our solar lights out and our garden flags. It feels like home :)
Next time I'll post about our duties here at the campground, and how I got bit in the behind by a dog last weekend. Bet you can't wait to hear about that!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
First of all, I wanted to show you a picture of our upper cabinets. I previously posted a picture showing how see-through the frosted glass doors were. We didn't like that we could see the stuff behind the doors. We bought some frosted window lining and placed it on the back of the glass doors. It took two layers, but I think it looks much better. You can still see a shadow, but it's not nearly as unsightly as it was. Hint to the RV designers. The glass doors may look nice in theory, but they are not very practical.
The county has a ban on bringing in any firewood due to the Emerald Ash Borer problem in neighboring counties. Therefore, we sell a lot of wood. I was the only one here for much of the day yesterday and I sold a LOT of wood. There is a large sign stating wood sales are between 8am and 8pm. Some of these young groups bought $20 worth of wood which is 44 pieces. You would think that would be enough for one night. :)
Around 12:30 pm last night, there was a knock on our door. It was the camp attendant's husband. He had caught some young men who had climbed the fence of the wood shed and were trying to help themselves to some more wood. They claimed they had knocked on our door, and we had not answered. He was just checking out their story. Of course, they were lying. The sheriff was called. I'm not sure what happened to them as I went back to bed. Hopefully, this is not a sign of things to come. We have been assured that this is a quiet park, and there are usually not many problems. I understand things like this will happen; I just hope it's not very often. Here's a picture of the fence these guys climbed. Maybe barbed wire will need to be added at the top! :)
It's a beautiful day today. The sun is shining and temperatures are expected to be near 70 degrees. It's 10:30 in the morning and the mass exodus of campers has begun. When Kevin and I used to do weekend camping, we always tried to stay as long as possible on Sundays. For some reason, Sundays were often the nicest day of the weekend! :) We never could understand why so many people leave so early on Sundays. We're not going anywhere today. Just going to enjoy this beautiful day in our new life!!
Friday, May 14, 2010
I won't say our estate sale experience was a good one, but it wasn't a terrible one either. Since we have no previous experience to compare it to, I can't really say if it went well.
I still don't have a dollar amount, and that will definitely make a difference on how I feel about it. The owner told me she has turned the paperwork over to her bookkeeper, and I will have a check within two weeks.
The owner did tell me that I had less stuff than they usually work with, and it was borderline that she would do the sale. I had four different organizations come to give me quotes, and two of them turned it down due to not enough inventory. I went with the company I used because they have a consignment shop for some of the better items that don't sell on the day of the sale. We had several pieces of furniture that did not sell, and they have taken them to the shop along with some Hummels and wall prints.
The pros of having the estate sale are:
They went through all our stuff and priced and displayed everything. They told me I should just leave everything in the closets and cabinets and they would take care of it all.
They held the sale and dealt with the public. They took care of the advertising. I did offer to put an ad on Craigslist for them.
They boxed and bagged all the leftover stuff and put it in the garage for us to donate to a charity. They didn't move any of the furniture they didn't take to the shop. Actually, they would have done that for an extra fee, but our son helped us instead.
They cleaned the entire house after everything was out, and they did a good job.
The cons of having the estate sale:
The fee is 33% of the total sales if the total was $6,500 or more; 50% if it was less than that. I'm assuming I'll have to pay the 50%.
It seemed to me items were overpriced and much more could have been sold at lower prices. Also, they had the sale on Mother's Day. I think a different day would probably have been better.
Although they did box and bag everything and put it in the garage, I felt they could have done a better job of it. Everything was just thrown together in a huge pile.
I didn't feel they communicated well. I had to keep calling.
If you decide to go the estate sale route, make sure you are comfortable with the company you hire. Do a lot of checking and contact references. I've heard many horror stories of people getting majorly ripped off.
If you have the time, I would recommend selling as much as you can on Craigslist and having a rummage sale for all the household items. We were in a Catch 22. The realtors tell you to stage the house for sales purposes. Then once you have an offer, things go fast. There wasn't time to sell the big stuff on Craigslist. Also, we live in a rural area and rummage sales don't do well. If I had to do it again, I think I would have sold more of the furniture ahead of time even if it meant some of the rooms were empty. In this market, it took a year to sell our house. I really don't think staging had anything to do with it. I think the main thing was the house was move-in ready. We had repainted almost every room, and replaced much of the carpeting. It looked good.
Either way, we may have ended up with the same amount of money. Rummage sale prices are much lower than the estate sale prices were, so it might have come out about the same. And, I didn't have to do any of the work setting up or cleaning up afterwards. That's a big bonus especially since we were already living in the RV which is an hour's drive from the house.
It's emotionally hard to see all your stuff thrown into bags and boxes. Our donate stuff has almost filled our 2 car garage. It's hard to get my head around donating all of it. I really don't want any of it, it just seems like such a waste to give so much away. Of course, we will have quite a tax right-off this year :) I had to make the arrangements for the donation. I think most estate sale companies take care of that, but since our sale was borderline, I agreed to do that part of it. It was harder to get someone to come out and take all the stuff than I thought it would be. The Veteran's Association is coming Monday for the household stuff and Wednesday for the furniture. They don't do both pickups the same day.
So, the lesson learned is don't buy so much stuff. And if you do, check Craigslist for used stuff first. There is so much quality used stuff out there for a lot less money. From now on, I'm not giving gifts just for the sake of giving something. If they want something specific, fine. Otherwise, I'll be more creative and either give gift cards or something consumable. Who needs all that "stuff" anyway :)
Monday, May 10, 2010
Our RV is set up for a washer and dryer, but at this point we don't think we're going to get them. We may change our minds, but for now, we'd rather have the storage space.
The weather was cold and rainy over the weekend, so we hung out inside and took it easy; played some Wii, watched movies, played games, did some reading and just relaxed. We played a game called Blokus 3D. I'm not that great at strategy games so Kevin beat me. I'll keep trying :)
Other than being lazy over the weekend, we've been very busy. I don't know how I ever found time to go to work :)
We've been taking walks almost every day. Sometimes, twice a day. One of our goals as fulltimers is to lose a little weight and become more physically fit. It's a little over 2 miles if we walk the roads of the park. We also walked a circular route along the roads outside the park. It's very beautiful around here. The park is on a river with lots of pretty scenery. I'll take some pictures next time we walk. It's supposed to rain the next three days so it may be a while :)
While we were in town we checked out the local library. I just love libraries! The town we are closest to is Columbus with a population of about 4,500. I've noticed how friendly the people are. It seems to be true that people in small town America are nicer than the big city folks. The librarian was so helpful. It turns out there is some kind of library consortium in southeast Wisconsin so she was able to piggy back onto the card I already had. We checked out some movies for today. When I have a little more time, I'm going to enjoy browsing through the books.
Last Friday we went to the hardware store to see if we could buy some glass film for our storage cabinet doors. The man at the hardware store was also very friendly and helpful. The parks employees have also been really nice. Everyone is pretty laid back. I think we're going to enjoy our summer here!
What this world needs is a new kind of army - the army of the kind. ~Cleveland Amory
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I had seen a desk that fits over part of the kitchen table on an RV forum and thought it was a great idea. It was made by an Amish company in Indiana. The cost was $800 plus shipping. Kevin and I started brainstorming whether we could make our own.
The Amish one had a wood file cabinet on one side and a cabinet with shelves on the other. We searched office furniture stores in person and online. All the file cabinets we found weren't tall enough. So we went to Menards and started walking the aisles for inspiration. We found the cabinets you see below. They are actually upper kitchen cabinets. They were almost the right height and they were unfinished oak. Our wood is maple, but we thought the oak would work. Then we bought an oak board to make the top. Kevin cut it on my dad's table saw and then I stained and finished all the pieces. I found a stain color that matches really well. We had to put an extra piece of board between the top and each cabinet for a little extra height. Otherwise, it was sitting directly on the table, and we were concerned it would scratch the table too much.
We also put a piece of wood on the floor between the two cabinets. I was planning on putting the printer and scanner down there. As you can see, our printer is quite big. It's the one from our desktop we had in the house. We'll keep it for now as it works fine. Someday, we may get a smaller one. Both the scanner and this printer wouldn't fit below so the scanner is in a different cabinet. We still need to do something with all the cords :)
There are 3 shelves in each cabinet for keeping our office supply items and for some added storage. We're using the 4th chair next to our island as a type of bar stool.
If we need dinner seating for more than 2, we can pull out our table extension and still put all 4 chairs at the table. We haven't traveled with this set-up yet. We think we'll be able to put the 2 extra chairs upside down on top of the other 2. If not, we'll find a place to put them while we travel.
I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. And, the best part is it only cost us about $200.
Do you like my flowers? They are from my last day at work and still look good. I especially like the green plastic cup as a vase. I didn't want to keep the glass one figuring it would break. It's at the house as part of the estate sale stuff for tomorrow :)
It sure has been cold lately. Highs in the 40s and tonight we have a freeze warning with temps expected to be in the low 30s. We are staying toasty in our new RV home. We're using 2 electric heaters and haven't had to use the furnace.
Friday, May 7, 2010
It's been a busy week. I was able to organize the closet, the bathroom cabinets and the cabinets in the entertainment center. I still have some upper cabinets to organize. I have also found that the storage areas can get messy very quickly. It's important to put everything back the way it was right away.
The cabinets above our couch and recliners have frosted glass in the doors. You can see the stuff behind them and it doesn't look very nice. We're going to see if we can buy some type of film to put on the back of the glass to make it less see-through. Kind of like the stuff they put on bathroom windows so you can't see through them. We'll see how that works. Here's what they look like now.
We're still trying to figure out the best way to get satellite TV. Everyone we talk to has a different answer. I think we're just going to have to pick something and see how it works.
We had some beautiful weather this week. Both of us have gotten a start on a tan. Hopefully, my legs will never be this white again! :) Today it is raining and the high is predicted to be only 50 degrees. There is a frost warning for tomorrow night. We have a small electric heater and our fireplace running. It is nice and cozy in here.
Yesterday I spent the entire day running some errands and finishing up at the house. The estate sale people were there preparing for the sale on Sunday. I hope that all works out. I was surprised to see some of the things they threw away. It seemed random and some of the things were still in very good condition. For example, they had some Tupperware containers and some perfectly good blankets in the trash.
Speaking of trash, I have some venting to do. I contacted Waste Management to let them know we would have extra trash today. When we contracted with them many years ago, I was told we could have extra trash once in a while, but we had to let them know so they could make sure the truck had enough room. I seem to remember being told there would not be an extra charge unless it was something really big like furniture or appliances. I have 15 extra bags this week. That's it. Nothing big. When I called, I was told it would be $7 per bag for the extra bags. After complaining, they lowered it to $4 per bag. When I explained that this was the only time in all the years we have contracted with them that we have had anything extra, they didn't care. When I pointed out that there are many weeks when our bin is half empty, they didn't care. When I pointed out that we have had a number of weeks when we were on vacation and we didn't put out any garbage, they didn't care. Not once have we ever received a credit for not having garbage, but the one time we have extra, they are going to charge us. That just stinks! I told them I would not be contracting with them at my new home. They don't have to know I won't have a new home and will not have to pay for garbage anymore. :)
"0-60 in 5 miles" (Bumper sticker seen on the back of a motor home-too funny!)
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
No fears! It passed. We did have to have a baffle replaced, put an extender piece under the cover because codes have changed, and have some kind of meter put on the well. It may sound strange, but I was happy to pay the $900 to have this work done. Much better than the roughly $15,000 a new septic system would cost. I think it paid to take good care of it. The inspector said he recently passed a system that was over 80 years old. So anyone out there with a septic system, make sure you maintain it. It pays off :) Also, I highly recommend JR's Excavating in Hartford, WI for septic inspection, repair or installation. He was a very honest guy who wasn't trying to rip us off. After our home inspector nightmare, it was refreshing to do business with Jim from JR's.
I have now spent 2 days of retirement at the RV as a fulltimer. I still love it :)
Today was 80 degrees. The average for this time of year is in the low 60's. We took a walk and just totally enjoyed the day. I also spent about an hour today organizing my clothes. I think I may have kept too many :) I got everything to fit, but it's pretty tight. I kept some office clothes in case I decide to do some temping. It's hard to know how much cold weather clothing to keep. Even if we go south in the winter, it still gets cold. I'm sure we'll end up getting rid of some clothes as we go. For now, they are at least organized. Tomorrow I will tackle the bathroom items and toiletries. How did we accumulate so much stuff???
We also made a trip to Camping World. We're trying to get DirecTV for the RV. I know it's possible because many other fulltimers have it. We're having trouble finding anyone who knows what they are talking about. The guy I talked to at DirecTV had no clue. I finally just had him put our account on suspension until we can get it figured out. I didn't think it would be a big deal to change from our permanent position to being mobile.
The guy at Camping World didn't know much more. All we want is a portable dish we can mount on a tripod and take with us. We don't want to mount anything on the 5er. We know it can be done, just can't find anyone to help us get it done. We now have a phone number to Winegard. They make a dish we think will work for us, but we have to find out how to get the service from DirecTV. Kevin will call and try to get it done. I am frustrated already!
We are now at Astico County Park. We have met the park attendant and the other host. Everyone has been very nice. Our job will be mainly to rent the canoes and kayaks. They're not out yet so not much going on. Just enjoying the view of the Crawfish River right outside our front door. We found out we may not be staying all summer. There is a possibility they may now move us to another park. I'll let you know when I have some concrete information. We'll just keep going with the flow :)
Retirement is wonderful. It's doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it. Gene Perret