Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekly Update

Another week at Amazon down.  Not that any of us are counting or anything... lol

Really it's not too bad... So long as you don't expect to change anything.  We're busy the whole shift, so time goes fast.  And I continue to be amazed by the huge variety of products shipped out of the Coffeyville facilty.

We took a ride up to Pittsburg, Kansas Thursday evening to check out the chicken at Chicken Mary's.  Jim and Jacque had seen the place mentioned on a show on The Food Network.  The collective opinion was that it wasn't worth the drive, but the company was good and the drive through the Kansas farmland was pretty.

Friday we played golf.  Johnny played all 18 holes again and didn't suffer as badly afterward as the week before, so that's good progress.  It was really windy, but unfortunately none of us could blame our scores on the wind!  

Today was college football day.  We had thought about driving up to Kansas City for the NASCAR Nationwide race, but since LSU was playing we decided to chill at the park.  I had wanted to make a brisket, but couldn't find a nice one.  So I picked up a boneless pork roast instead.  We decided to share dinner with Jacque and Jim.  I did the pork roast and made a chocolate cake and Jacque made some great sweet potatoes and broccoli and carrots.  After dinner they taught us to play Wizard.  I won the first game and Jacque won the second.  They're going to teach us how to play Hand and Foot next.  They're prepping us to be real full timers!  lol

Back to work tomorrow.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Welcome to Amazon, Coffeyville KS

Welcome to our new followers: Good Idea at the Time, Good Luck Duck and Jammin' Along.  Hopefully we'll get in a better routine of posting.  For now I'll start at the present and work backwards... 

We're still missing our puppy, Sage, but we're slowly adjusting.  I still look for her every time I get up at night to make sure I don't step on her.  And now I have to clean up those things that drop on the floor while I'm cooking.  Travel days were especially tough, but as I said, we're adjusting.  We'll miss her every day.

I survived my first week at Amazon.  It wasn't too bad.  I'm working nights which is really just fine with me, since I'm not much of a morning person.  I work 5 pm to 3:30 am Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday off for now.   The time goes really fast as there is really no downtime.  You're busy all the time and I'm sure that it will only get busier as the season goes on.  I'm working in an area called Crisplant.  I'm responsible for a line of chutes.  After a picker pulls an item for an order it gets put on a conveyor belt and eventually ends up in one of the chutes. Once all the items for an order have arrived in the chute a light at the end illuminates and signals me to come pack it up.  I make up the appropriate size box for the order, check that all the items are there and in good condition, put them in the box along with the packing material, seal it up and send it on it's way to shipping.  Each shift I look for the most interesting order of the evening.  Even though I've been a loyal Amazon customer since the beginning I had no idea they sold some of this stuff!  Now if only they would carry RV parts...

Update:  Make that survived first 2 weeks!  Spent the 2nd week packing singles.  The advantage of singles is you don't have to look for missing items. The disadvantage is that you mostly stand in one spot.  I've asked if it's possible to transfer to an area with more walking.  Will see how that goes.

We're staying at Big Chief RV Park.  It's a FHU park but pretty no frills.  It has 3 main advantages for us:

  1. There's nothing to block the DishTV satellite signal.
  2. It's right across the street from Amazon, which means if I get off work at 3:30 I can be in bed by 4.
  3. There are lots of other Amazon WorKampers staying here and they are all very friendly.  It's almost like a rally without the sessions...  Now if we could only figure out how to organize a potluck.
Update:  Lots of great Workampers here.  Played golf with some on Friday and then went to dinner at Jack's Place.  Had a campfire on Thursday night and met some more nice folks.  Tonight we'll do the campfire again and put a TV outside to keep track of the college football action.  Parked in our area are LSU, Iowa, Nebraska, OU and Texas fans.  Of course I'm an NDSU fan, but they are seldom on TV -- Except for last week when they "whooped up" on University of Minnesota... Go Bison!

We had a somewhat eventful trip up here.  We had a tire blowout on the 5er between Temple and Waco on IH-35.  For those not familiar with the area, it's about 75 miles from the house and one of the busiest interstate highway sections in the nation.  Thank heavens for roadside assistance!  We were pretty fortunate in that we didn't have huge amounts of damage.  It did take out the propane line to the refrigerator and stove, so we had to get that fixed.  
We finally found someone who could make up the necessary line and I installed it.  We added some zip ties to keep it up and got back on the road after a 2 day delay.  We still have some repairs to take care of but nothing too major.

When we finally got back on the road, we made it to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area outside of Sulphur, OK.  We had a beautiful campsite there with water and 50 amp hook ups.  No sewer but we were only there for 2 nights so it was fine.  They do have some FHU sites, we just didn't spend enough time finding them.  With the Golden Access Pass we paid $11 a night.  We visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center while we were there.  It is a beautiful facility and very interesting.  We recommend a stop at both if you are in the area.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lost Our Baby Today

(I apologize for the rambling post tonight...  It's been a long day and I'm rambling, but needed to get this out...)
We lost our baby, Sage, today.  She died quietly about noon today at home.  She was 14 1/2 years old and the best dog we could imagine.  Her heart just gave out.  She had been a bit slower than her normal self last week.  Then we had the fire at Bastrop State Park.  She just never really came back after that.  We worked with her and thought she was doing a little better yesterday.  She was drinking on her own yesterday.  But this morning she wouldn't take any water or anything.  She got up about noon and went in the bedroom, laid down and that was it.  
We miss her already.  It really won't be the same when we hit the road in a couple of days.  She LOVED to travel.  Forget that -- she just loved to be in the truck!  It didn't have to move.  You didn't have to be in it with her.  So long as she was in the truck, she was happy!

For those who don't know, Sage was my dad's dog.  He was a long distance truck driver and she spent the first 5 years of her life traveling the country with him in the cab of his truck.  He taught her 2 things:  1)  She could sit up and beg for hours.  Never move a muscle.  Just sit there on her haunches.  2)  Never ever, under any circumstances would she go to the bathroom in the house. He had her on the one bathroom stop a day plan.  All I can say is she had an amazing bladder!   When she got older she developed a little incontinence.  She was always mortified when she had an accident.
When my dad died in 2002, she came to live with me.  I NEVER planned to have a dog.  But no one else in the family wanted her.  She was a handful.  Smart.  Big.  Energetic.  And no manners whatsoever... except the sitting pretty for treats of course.  She cost me over $1000 in the first week.  I had to get all her shots updated, a vet's okay for her to fly, a kennel big enough for her to travel in and then board her for a week while I went to North Dakota for Dad's funeral.  

Sage also had never spent much time with other animals.  She really didn't like them at all and rumor had it she had killed my mom's cat.  There was no evidence... just a hunch.  Part of why no one else wanted her.  At the time she came to live with me I had 3 cats.   So she spent the first couple weeks sleeping on a 6 foot leash tied to the foot of my bed.  What a start to our relationship!  Eventually an uneasy truce was formed and a few years of peaceful coexistence followed. 
Then a couple years later I met Johnny.  He had a teacup chihuahua.  Sage was a 50 lb. Australian Cattledog / Dingo mix.  He wasn't too sure about her.  She wanted to make sure he was okay and gonna stick around before she made friends.  But they were buddies in short order.
After a run in with a neighbor's dog I decided to get some help and after a few visits with the local "dog whisperer" / doggie therapist, she was a much better dog to live with.  Mostly he taught me a few things and she no longer jumped on everyone and I could take her for a walk without having my shoulder pulled out of the socket.  Not that she would heel or anything... She was too smart and stubborn to learn more than she needed to...
She ended up going to West Virginia for a work assignment with Johnny.  It was the first long road trip we'd been on together.  I remember she would wake up and start whining just before we hit each state line.  It was like she somehow knew there was a rest area coming up.  After I flew back to Austin, she kept him company -- and helped keep him warm in the bed :-)  I think that trip solidified their bond.  He really never thought they would be buddies.  But they loved each other a great deal.  She would lay with her head on his foot while he watched football.  
Sage was incredibly smart.  Annoyingly, incredibly smart...  She would learn the things she wanted to learn and nothing else.   And it took exactly 1 time for her to form a habit.  Every night she had to have her dinner, then her pills, then her treat bone.  And you couldn't do those things out of order.  If you gave her a treat before her pills, you were going to have to give her another treat after the pills... 
Once we started spending more time in the 5th wheel Sage was a much happier dog. She loved the 5th wheel.   I think she was always a little nervous in the house. It was a lot of space to keep track of when you grew up in an 18 wheeler...  She couldn't see where all her people were.  In the 5th wheel, she would sit at the top of the steps in the bedroom where she could see where we both were at all times.  Unless  of course it was hot outside.  Then she would just go back in the trailer to the AC!  We could stay outside by ourselves -- she was no dummy for sure.

So when we hit the road in a couple of days it will be really hard.  No Sage in the back seat.  No stopping for potty breaks.  We'll miss her everyday, but travel days will be hardest because she was SO HAPPY to go for a ride...  We know you are happy going for a ride in the BIG diesel with your first Dad Sage... Give him some loves from me...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Working on Plan B... or is it C or D?

Just a quick update.  We left Arkansas after making a day trip to Hot Springs area.  I started a blog about that, but need to finish adding pictures, so it sits waiting...

We headed down here to Austin, TX a week ago today.  We made it a 2 day drive by stopping in Tyler.  We're attempting to learn to travel more slowly...LOL

Wednesday afternoon we pulled into Bastrop State Park and got set up in what has been our favorite RV spot to date!  It had plenty of room for our 40ft 5th wheel and truck, a lovely patio facing the woods and since it was one of their accessible spots it was all very level and paved.  Johnny had a doctor appointment to check on his eyes.  He has cataract surgery in his future -- probably January.  We had dinner with some local friends and we spent some time reorganizing and sorting out what needed to be in the RV and what we just don't use...

Sunday, fellow "gonna be"s," Jerry and Carol invited down to the New Braunfels area where they were having a family reunion.  There we also met Tom and Donna who have been on the road a few months now.  (Donna and Carol are sisters.)  We had a great time visiting and talking about future options for gategaurding, travel, etc.  

We got back to Bastrop State Park about 11pm to find it had been evacuated due to a forest fire.  The rangers let us back in to get our dog and pull the trailer out.  So about 12:30 we were hooked up and wondering where we are going now...

Right now the trailer is parked in front of the house and we're trying to figure out our new plan.  Johnny has doctors appointments here in the Austin area on the 8th, so we need to stick around until then.  Then we'll head north to Coffeyville, KS.

In the middle of this, Sage has gotten sick, so we're trying to get her back on her feet.  Hard with a 14 year old dog...  Last night was the emergency animal hospital for $200, fluids and antibiotics.  Hoping she perks up soon...

Just heard from the Texas Park Service that the camp sites at Bastrop did indeed burn, so it's good we were able to get the trailer out.   

We'll let you know where we're headed next as soon as we know!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Days in Arkansas...

At least for now...  I have 5 days left on my workamping assignment here -- tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and next Monday.  Not that I'm counting or anything...  Friday I had the opportunity to help interview my replacement.  There was supposed to be another young lady interviewed, but she FORGOT about the interview.  Never a good sign...

I'm getting anxious to move on.  It sort of feels like our official start of fulltiming.  We will still have things to take care of at the house, but this next move signals a shift for me.   While we're heading back to Austin for a couple of weeks, we will be staying in the RV rather than the house as we work on the continuing downsizing project.  We're hoping to have some friends over to the RV  for a barbecue so that they don't worry that we'll be one step away from living under a bridge and that we will actually be quite comfortable in the RV!

We've done next to no sight seeing while we've been here in Arkansas, so we're hoping to get out and see a few things before we head to Austin.  Maybe a day trip to Hot Springs and a visit to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.  Maybe I can manage to add a few pictures to our next post... 

Welcome to our new followers:

  • Lee and Loralie: Thei blog Ready to Roll has some great pictures of the NW
  • JoBeth and Catherine & Grace:  I've been following your blog,  R-V Crazy Travel Journal, as you too shift to fulltime travel
  • Loretta Perno: I couldn't find a blog for you Loretta, but if you comment I will add it.

Oh, and if anyone knows how to add a "Contact Us" link to our blog I would like to add our email contact info.  I can't seem to find an easy way to do it yet!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Found a new blog to follow...

It's so cool to find we have new readers!  Especially ones whose blogs I've been reading.  Welcome to Doncat and Cheryl.  They are shopping for the perfect motorhome.  Oh how we can relate to that!  :-)  

Also want to welcome more fellow Texans, Jerry and Carol.  They have a 5er and are doing some remodeling that I'll be anxious to see.  From what I've read, Carol and I not only share a name, but also a love of sewing.

This afternoon I was busy at my workkamping job (By that I mean I was reading blogs while I was waiting for the sales people to sell a membership so I could spring into action.) when I ran across a new blog to read.  I was catching up on the adventures of some other recent Texans in their blog, On the Road of Retirement.  He mentioned going to visit some friends at their workkamping gig, so I decided to check out their blog, Two Tools and a Dream.  A little reading and I was hooked.  Very entertaining.  Still not caught up, but I had to share something posted last year...   Jill's title works just fine for me as it's also not from me but it made me laugh too much not to share...  Hope there's something here that makes you laugh as well...

Not from me, but too good not to share

Truths for Mature People

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your
computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize
you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I
know how to get out of my neighborhood.

6. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person

7. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

8. Bad decisions make good stories.

9. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when
you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of
the day.

10. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't
want to have to restart my collection...again.

11. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I
want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not
make any changes to.

12. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to
answer when they call.

13. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday
night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

14. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

15. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

16. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and
smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

17. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to
prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

18. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not
know what time it is.

19. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys
in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but
I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about
1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

20. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the
first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to
realize that their brain is also important.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Continuing Education Done!

Since the weather is ridiculously hot and Johnny's in Louisiana I decided today was a good day to tackle my continuing education requirements to maintain my Texas Real Estate License.  So the day was spent in front of the computer plugging away.  Just finished a few minutes ago.  My license is up for renewal the end of August so I finished a little better than in the nick of time!  Good news is that I'm good for another 2 years now.
Welcome to our new followers Rollie & Gina and Phil & Rudee!  I've been reading both of your blogs for a while now -- just don't comment very often.  We're thinking we will spend some time in Louisiana early next year so maybe we will see Rollie & Gina down that way as we both appear to have relatives there.  And Phil & Rudee seem to be in a similar transition to us (RV living but still working), although I think you guys have gotten rid of the house all together.
Johnny spent today babysitting the other 4 young men in my life...  They spent the rest of the day in the pool.
Bennett (the littlest one) Conly and Preston (back to the camera)

The other thing I did today was spent some time playing with the blog layout.  It's getting closer to what I want to see.  Still need to tweak it some.  Trying to find a good location for the "Blogs I Follow" list.  It's so long it doesn't fit well any where.  But similar lists on other folk's blogs is where I've found most of your blogs so I want them to be visible.  Any ideas?
I keep playing with our Amazon store.  It's sort of fun to piddle with when the weather is too hot for other things.  I've figured out how to add some of our favorite products.  I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to put a note about why we've included each one.  I think I would appreciate that if I were looking at it.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Working on Odds and Ends

Welcome to our new followers!  It's so much fun to meet folks virtually and I'm enjoying your blogs tremendously!  I'm hoping that our chosen lifestyle will allow us to meet live and in person some day down the road.
Johnny is in Louisiana this week visiting his daughters and the grandsons.  I wish I could have gone with him, but I'm committed to be here for my work kamping assignment and that meant we couldn't take the 5th wheel down there. Since we couldn't take the RV we couldn't take Sage, so I'm here working and puppy sitting.
I'm hoping to get a few things more organized on my days off and do a little cleaning in preparation for hitting the road again.  So far I'm off to a very exciting start.  Had to defrost the refrigerator for the first time in the 3 1/2 years we've had this RV.  Not too bad.  About 30 minutes with the hair dryer and one thing crossed off the list.
I also downloaded a cookbook software the other day.  My old one apparently doesn't work with Windows Vista which is what I have on this computer.  So I downloaded a 30 day trial of Living Cookbook.  So far so good.  I love cooking, recipes and trying new dishes.  Since it's tough to take the cookbook collection along in the RV, I thought transitioning to an electronic cookbook would be a good idea.  Besides, sometimes I take ideas from a few recipes and put them together in MY version.  Unfortunately, I can't always remember what I did the next time I go to make whatever dish it was I came up with.  So far I'm very happy with it.  It's easy to copy recipes that I try and like from the web into the cookbook so I can find them later.  It also lets you add pictures and notes and change the portions.  Added features are the ability to create menus and shopping lists.  Not sure I will ever get that far, but I have been able to clean up one little pile of printed recipes!  I'm also hoping it will let me publish recipes that turn out particularly well to this blog.  Not sure if it can do that or not yet...

The other thing I'm playing with is creating our own personal Amazon store.  It seems like a good way to share products that we've found particularly useful, fun or interesting.  AND if you order something from Amazon via our blog we get a small paycheck.  (I'm sure most of you already know that, but I had to say it anyway...)  Hopefully it won't be too distracting on the blog as I figure it out.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Change of plans...

Lots of things have happened since I last posted.  I'm not sure why I haven't been better about updates.  The only thing I can figure is that things have been so up in the air I haven't quite known what to say...

We're still in Arkansas for now.  Johnny is no longer working.  While the surgery on his leg was a success, and the place he was working agreed to the restrictions the doctor stipulated when he returned to work, they then ignored the restrictions and he was on his feet and walking way more than the doctor wanted to see.  The excessive walking was causing more damage to the other bones in his right foot.  So the doctor said no more of this job until he can see if the bones in his foot will stabilize.

So that has left us trying to figure out Plan B.  Plan A had been for Johnny to work out this project which would wrap up sometime in 2012 and I would continue the work kamping gig here at Millwood Landing.  That would've allowed us to pay off all the debt except the RV and the house and save the down payment we need to transition to a diesel pusher.

While we haven't worked out all the details of Plan B, we have put some things in motion.  We needed to generate some more income asap, so I sent an email and had a phone interview and next thing we knew I had a job as an "Elf" at's distribution hub in Coffeyville, KS.  I start on September 18th and the plan is to work through December 23rd.  Along with pay, overtime and a completion bonus if you stay through the season, Amazon also pays for your campsite and utilities.  They also say you can walk 10-12 miles a shift, so I'm hoping that along with putting some extra money in the coffers I'll lose 10 lbs or so before the holidays!

I've given notice here and my last day will be August 29th.  It's been a nice gig and I like the people.  It's an interesting business and I've learned a lot of useful things about campground memberships.

Our longer term plan is for me to get back into doing some consulting.  With the flexibility of the RV I think it will be pretty workable.  So I'm putting feelers back out about that.  We're hoping to find a camp host spot in Louisiana for the beginning of 2012 so we can spend a little time with Johnny's kids and the grandkids.

In the meantime, Johnny will be doing the laundry and grocery shopping and taking it a little easier to see if his foot will stabilize and he can get around without being in pain.  If not we will have to look closer at the amputation option.  Better to have 1 foot and be able to walk without pain than 2 feet and not be able to get around without constant pain.

We'll be headed to Austin, TX for the first couple weeks of September and then  off to Kansas for a few months.  Will try to fill in a few other missing pieces in the next few days.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back to Work

Johnny started back to work last Friday.  He's working days now which is nice in lots of ways.  It's nice to be able to have dinner together and snuggle up at night.  His first day was a bit rough, but I think he's doing better.  I think it's hard for him to tell because he's tired, but there's less swelling in his leg/foot when he gets home.  The only downside of him working days is that I get to get up with him before he goes to work at 4 am and bandage the one incision on his heel that still needs bandaging.  Just call me "Nurse Carol."

I also started our (my) first workkamping gig here at Millwood Landing RV & Golf Resort.  This is actually a membership park -- part of Ocean Canyon Properties.  They were looking for a part time sales admin person in their membership sales office.  I talked to them and viola! I'm now workkamping.  24 hours a week.  My job is to greet tour participants when they arrive, get their basic information and make sure contracts are completed correctly, payments are collected and recorded correctly and all the files are up to date.  So far I'm setting my own schedule based on when they have tours -- primarily Friday, Saturday, Sunday and now Monday.

I started training Saturday and worked Sunday and Monday.  We're actually paid here through May 15, so I'm looking at this as "banked hours" for those times we need to go back to Austin for Johnny's doctor appointments or our trip to Daytona Beach, Florida in July.

Since Johnny's here working and I'd much rather be here with him than not, I decided workkamping makes sense.  At least I have something better to do than just sit around all day everyday.  And the site and utilities are covered.

We really like the park here.  The only downside is there is no laundry room... so it's off to the laundromat today for me.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Healing Update

Johnny had another follow up appointment with the surgeon.  Things are looking good.  

No sign of the strep infection they found 2 weeks ago.  The doc wants Johnny to keep taking the Keflex for about 4 more weeks just to be sure it's all gone and doesn't flair up again.  The incision on the back of his heel continues to make good healing progress.  The switched it to a dry dressing and hopefully that will speed things along.  He has 1 incision on his shin where they had to chip away at the broken bone in order to straighten it(apologies to the more squeamish of our readers) that is taking it's time healing.  But it's slowing getting there.  The doctor thinks a vacumn (?) treatment might help speed that along, so he talked to the VA about getting that going.  But given the way that goes, it will probably be healed by the time they make the arrangements!  That's okay, so long as it heals.  So now I'm going to need to do a wet to dry dressing on that one.  I'm learning a lot more about nursing than I ever thought I would!

Johnny's going to try to go back to work on Friday so we're headed back to Arkansas tomorrow.  I'm going to start working in the sales office at the campground as a workkamping assignment.  That should be interesting and I'll get a bit of the inside scoop on the whole membership campground scene.  Figure it might be useful to know more about those things someday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday in Austin

I was apparently confused about dates and Johnny's follow up appointment is Tuesday, not Monday, so we will be here in Austin at least an extra day.

The neighborhood association here had a garage sale yesterday, so we put some things out.  Not a very focused effort, but we did get rid of some things and made about $150.  Not too bad for a thrown together effort.  We took some of the leftovers to Goodwill and called it a day.  I think I'm going to try putting some things on Craigslist.  The only issue is that we're heading back to Arkansas, so I'm not quite sure how to manage the logistics of everything.

I've been trying to find a small computer desk that we can use in the 5th wheel for our desktop computer.  It's a great computer and while we know we eventually need to replace it with a better laptop, for right now it might make more sense to find a workable desk.  

The forecast is for rain here tonight / tomorrow morning... keep your fingers crossed.  We will gladly take any extra rain the rest of the country would like to share!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Survived the storms

We haven't been very good about updating this.  No real good excuses... just life getting in the way

First of all, our condolences to Donna (aka Froggi) on the loss of her stepson.  It's terrible to lose someone you love and our prayers are with the whole family in this difficult time.

Next, we survived the storms here in Arkansas.  It was really strange.  We spent the whole evening watching the weather radar show storm cells and tornadoes go just north and just south of where we are here at Millwood Landing Golf and RV Resort.  We got a little rain and not much wind.  Watching the devastation all around us reminds us of how lucky we are.

Today is a clear and sunny day so I'm hoping to get some things cleaned up outside the 5er before we head back to Austin, TX tomorrow.  It's time to put up the winter hoses and all that stuff.

On the recovery front with Johnny we had a little setback.  Johnny probably tried to go back to work a little too early and had one of the incisions in his foot open up and get infected.  If you're not in the know about these things, any infection near hardware in your body is a very scary, dangerous thing.  The good news is that it is a very treatable, not resistant strep infection and they put him on the right antibiotic right away, so it seems to be clearing up well.  No longer red or puffy or tender.  He hasn't had any fever so that is also good.  He goes back to the doctor on Monday and hopefully what I see as good signs are confirmed and he will be able to go back to work soon.

While we've been here at Millwood Landing I talked to the management team here and provided all is good with Johnny's leg for him to go back to work, I'm going to start doing some workkamping for them in exchange for our site.  They need some help in their membership sales area.  24 hours a week in exchange for the site.  I need to ask them if we can include free golf along with the site!

So we're headed back to Austin tomorrow for Johnny's doctor appointment on Monday and a neighborhood garage sale on Saturday.  Hopefully we can make a dent in the stuff in the house!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Update --- Slide issues

I'm afraid we've been busy running, but not much interesting to report.

Johnny had his surgery follow up this past Tuesday.  They said everything is looking good and gave him the all clear to start walking on his right leg.  But no shoes yet, which is awkward to say the least.  They don't want him to wear shoes yet because one of the incisions on the back of his heel isn't quite healed up yet.  He goes back on this coming Tuesday and hopefully will get the all clear to go to work.

Bob Jones RV also called on Tuesday to say repairs to our 5th wheel were finished and we could come pick it up.  So we were off to Houston on Wednesday morning to pick up the 5er and head to Louisiana to take care of some paperwork with Johnny's mom and and a quick visit with the the kids and grandkids.  Bennett was showing off his basketball skills while his baby brother  Barrett practiced is bouncing skills.  We also got to watch Preston play baseball -- he got 1 hit, but was thrown out.   He did make a great catch in the outfield and saved them from getting scored on.  His team eventually won before the game was called for time at 9pm.  I'm not sure who was more tired -- the players or the audience!  We didn't get to see Conly's game on Friday night, but maybe next trip.

First, let me give you a heads up if you have slides in your rv.  They ended up pretty much rebuilding the living room slide on our 5er.  Turns out there was a water leak we had no idea about.  The service techs said it's not an uncommon issue with lots of manufacturers.  The way the slide was originally manufactured allowed water to seep down the trim piece on the outside corners.  They rebuilt everything and double sealed the corners to prevent a future problem.  Since we have 2 other slides we asked them whether we needed to be concerned about those.  The answer was yes and they suggested sealing the corners with silicone as a preventive measure.  So while we're still here in Austin on level ground, guess what I'm doing?

Our trip to Louisiana was fairly uneventful.  We arrived at Poche's Fish N Camp (I wouln't mind staying here again when we have more time) while it was still daylight and I had my heart set on some boiled crawfish.  So we went about setting up the trailer.  All went well until I went to hook up the power.  I couldn't find the power cord anywhere!  I looked in the trailer and in the basement, but no power cord!  Of course the RV shop that did the repairs was closed by this time, so nothing to do but use the generator.  We decided to go get something to eat and some dog food to replace the container that had somehow flown out of the back of the truck first.  When we got back we went to start the generator but no luck.  It would not turn over.  Several hours later we finally got it started.  It died sometime in the night, but we at least got a couple hours of sleep.  

In the morning I got up and went to boil some water for tea.  No gas to the stove.  I figured the technicians had not opened the valves to the tanks as we had had them fill the propane tanks while we were there.  I went outside to turn on the gas and guess what I found?  The power cord in the compartment where the propane tanks were supposed to be!  One problem solved only to be replaced by another!  After a couple of phone calls the rv shop agreed to replace our 2 30# propane tanks locally.  We just had to find a place to get them and they would call with a credit card to pay for them.  Problem 2 solved.

We got the paperwork taken care of and had a brief visit with the family before heading back to Austin yesterday.  When we got home last night I noticed that the rv techs had also removed our ladder from the 5er and not replaced it!  Guess who we have to call on Monday morning!?!

I have to say that Bob Jones RV did an excellent job with the repairs to the 5er and worked with the insurance company to get the insurance to cover the over $6000 in repairs -- something that can be difficult with water damage.  We checked the actual repairs and they were all done satisfactorily.  What we didn't check was that all the perifory things were back where they belong.  We spoke about filling the propane tanks several times to make sure it was done, but never thought to check that they actually put the tanks back in the 5er.  And we NEVER remove the outside ladder, so it never occurred to us to make sure it was on the trailer.  Especially since there was no reason to remove it to  take care of the repairs they were doing!

Someday's I get really frustrated with people's lack of attention...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Healthier Eating...

I grew up in house where great food was a priority.  My mom was a great cook and dad was a long distance truck drive who often bought an extra halibut or box of king crab legs to the house.  So anything that feels or tastes like a diet is hard for me to swallow (pun intended.)

My mom, grandma and great-grandma all have/had diabetes and Johnny also has diabetes.  So far I've been able to keep my blood sugar in check without making too many lifestyle changes.  But with all the pain and stress of the issues with his leg, Johnny's blood sugar has been running a bit high lately.  So I've been putting a bit more effort into trying to find some new recipes that taste good but are a bit healthier.

A few days ago, Laurie mentioned a recipe website in her blog,  Semi-True Tales of Our Life on the Road.  The website is Gina's Skinny Recipes.  Gina started to blog in 2008 when she couldn't find a website with good recipes that included Weight Watchers points.  As she works out recipes, she says she tries not to sacrifice taste to get the points/calories down.  It's about finding the balance of good tasting food with healthy ingredients and keeping the points low.  She uses the minimal amount of fat needed for the best results and sugar rather than Splenda.  In addition to listing the Weight Watchers Points and Points+, Gina also lists the calories, fat, fiber, carbs and protein.  

I liked the sound of that so started looking through the recipes.  The first recipe I tried was Chicken and Mushrooms with Garlic White Wine Sauce.  That one was winner.  Yesterday I tried Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken.  This one we were a bit disappointed in.  I think I ended up with a can of tomatoes with hot chilies instead of mild -- and in spite of being from Louisiana, Johnny is not a big fan of hot things!  When I was looking at the comments I noticed someone suggested using taco seasoning in place of the individual spices.  We decided that the recipe was worth trying again making sure to use tomatoes with mild chilies and a package of taco seasoning.

Tonight I tried a side dish -- Baked Zucchini Sticks.  These were a definite hit. We didn't even use the marinara sauce.  They were very good just plain.  We had them with some pan sauted tilapia and twice baked potatoes.  It was a quick, easy tasty dinner.

So I'll be spending some time checking out Gina's website for new tasty treats.  She appears to post a new recipe almost every day and you can search by ingredient, category, WW points, etc.  As an added bonus Gina includes nice pics of each recipe.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Surgery is Done!

The big news for the week is that Johnny had surgery to fix his right shin (fibula) on Wednesday.

Tuesday he had all his pre-op tests.  That took the better part of the day.  On the way back to Austin from Temple on Tuesday evening IH35 was closed.  We saw a big plume of smoke up ahead.  Luckily the rest area exit was just north of the problem and the Highway Patrol directed traffic off, through the rest area and back on the interstate south of the problem.  As we went by we learned the problem was a motorhome fully engulfed in flames on the northbound side of the interstate.  It looked like everyone got out safely, but the MH was a goner.  That was pretty scary and got us thinking we need to research those fire extinguishers that go under the refrigerator...

Back to the surgery...

Johnny had to be up at Scott and White hospital in Temple at 7:30am, so I was up at 4am to gather up things and make sure we were to the hospital on time.  They were supposed to start the actual surgery around 9:30 and they expected the procedure to take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Well, the surgery before his took a bit longer than planned so they didn't get started until about 10:30.  The staff at Scott and White did a good job of keeping me posted with news that all was going well, it was just taking longer than planned.  Finally at 3:30 I got a call from the surgeon saying that all had gone great.  Some of the screws holding the old pin in his leg had broken and others had bone grown over the top, so it took longer to get the old rod out of his leg.  But once that was done, they were able to straighten the broken bone and get it all lined up with a new, longer rod put in his leg.  

After recovery and a brief stint in post op they sent him home with me about 7:30 on Wednesday night.  Amazing!  We went from a recommendation that the best thing to do was to amputate his leg in January to an out-patient surgery this week!  He has a splint on his lower leg and the doctor doesn't want him to put any weight on his foot until his after his post op appointment on April 5th.  That's because he had to put an incision the bottom of his heel to take the old rod out and he wants that to heal up well and make sure it doesn't get infected.  Assuming it's healing well on April 5th he should be able to walk on his leg after that!

The resident (we're pretty sure the nursing staff calls him "McDreamy") who assisted with Johnny's surgery came by to check on him before they sent him home and gave us print outs of the before and after x-rays.  We could see his leg was straightened out even through the splint and dressings.  But with the x-rays we can really see that the surgery was successful!

Johnny's doing pretty good.  His leg hurts, but what can you expect after they went rooting around in the bone the other day!  The only glitch was with the nerve block they gave him after surgery.  It was supposed to block the pain in his lower leg for the first 24 hours.  Unfortunately, it seems the anesthesiologist hit the wrong nerve and numbed his thigh and butt (and a few other parts) instead of the lower leg!  So it took a little while for the pain meds to catch up to the pain level.  But he's doing better now and just started backing down the pain meds some.  Will see how that goes.

Thanks to everyone for all your prayers and well wishes.  

Now if we can just get the repairs to the 5th wheel finished we should be good to go!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What to do with that old camera?

Yesterday I wrote about how to get rid of that old, unused cell phone.  Pidge (The Frugal Travelers) commented, asking about what could be done with old, still working cameras.  The funny thing was that I had thought about writing about places to recycle your old digital camera in that same blog, but decided to keep things simple!

So in honor of Pidge, today's topic is how to recycle that old digital camera.

Even if you camera is slightly worse for the wear or outdated, you might still be able to sell it. will buy it to recycle or sell for parts.  It works similar to in that you enter information about your camera and the site gives you a price quote.  It will then send you a prepaid shipping label or box depending on the camera's size and weight.  Payment is by check or PayPal.

If your camera still works and you would rather donate it, go to for shipping information.  The Global Classroom Connection  sends used cameras to schools around the world.  If you include your email address you will get a picture from the class that receives your camera.

I tried to sell my old Canon PowerShot A80, but didn't want it.  And it doesn't work so donating it to the Global Classroom Connection doesn't work either.  I'm still looking for a way to get rid of that one.  Remember, putting old electronics in the trash isn't a good idea.  If anyone has any other ideas on how I can responsibly dispose of my non-working camera, please pass them along!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Getting Rid of Old Cell Phones

In the process of cleaning out closets etc we've found an amazing number of old cell phones.  It's really amazing considering I never even had a cell phone 10 years ago.  Now I have at least that many old ones!

I've known that we could donate old cell phones for the troops to use or for use by organizations that combat domestic violence.  If you have an unused cell phone and are in an area where you're not sure where to donate it I found this organization that makes it very easy.  Log on to and click on "Call to Protect" tab to get a prepaid mailing label or find a local drop off location.  They will refurbish and resell your unneeded cell phone, donating 100% of the proceeds to organizations that combat domestic violence.

If you have fairly new cell phone, I also found a place that will buy your used cell and as an added bonus they plant a tree for each cell phone they buy.  Go to and answer a few questions about your phone, it's quality and list any accessories you have.  They will give you a price quote and you can print a prepaid shipping label.  Box the phone and any accessories up and drop it by the post office.  Then watch for your payment to arrive by check, PayPal or Obopay.  Easy as that.

I know you can always put your phone on ebay but for those who want an easy way to get rid of some excess electronics and don't want to hassle much I thought these were some good options.  We're currently waiting on our $50 for my old PalmPre.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Free Fridays -- NOOKbooks

First, welcome our new readers, Jay and Jill!  I didn't see that you folks have a blog, but if you do please comment and let us know what it is.  We'd love to see what you are up to as well.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that Johnny got me a color NOOK for Christmas.   I had thought it would be a good thing to have when we hit the road fulltime.  I'm loving it!  Johnny says he thinks I've used it more than any other gift he's gotten me -- except maybe the NDSU golf bag he got me a couple of years ago.

After much research we decided on the color NOOK because of the availability of electronic magazines.  The NOOK lets you either buy individual issues or subscribe to many of your favorite magazines -- a great feature if you're traveling fulltime.  The magazines look just like the paper version -- full color, pictures and yes, advertisements (boo.. hiss...)  Right now I subscribe to a couple of food magazines because I love trying new recipes.  We're anxiously waiting for golf and motorcycle magazines to be available.  The good news is that every day the list of available magazines grows.  The price varies depending on the publisher.  None are more than the paper subscription and some are cheaper.  

One of the other things we liked about the color NOOK is the children's books available.  Great for having something to read to the grandkids when they visit!

I also like that it is backlit and lets me read before going to sleep at night.  It automatically goes to sleep a couple of minutes after I fall asleep and doesn't bother Johnny the way turning on the light to read does.  Besides, I can make the print bigger so I don't need my glasses to read in bed.  I just have to turn the page a lot more often!

I recently learned Barnes and Noble offers a FREE NOOKbook every Friday.  I'm finding it's a great way to try new authors and always make sure I have something new available to read.  B&N has other books available for free everyday, but the Friday Freebie is a book that you normally would pay for, but they are offering for free for one day.  Most of the books seem to be one in a series by that author.  Obviously a strategy to get you hooked and then buying more books, but who cares if it introduces you to an author you enjoy.  Just click on the link above to check out this week's free book.  Some people complain that it's hard to find the actual book to download.  I found that if you just click on the book cover it will take you to the download page.  If you find that link doesn't work for next Friday, just search for "Free Fridays" in NOOKbooks and it will take you to the current Friday's book.

So now when Johnny goes for surgery next Wednesday I'll carry along 15 or so magazines and a dozen books... All in my little NOOK.   So much lighter than the tote bag I used to haul around!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not Much to Report

Afraid we don't have too much to report these days.  Just working on things around the house and waiting for Johnny to have surgery to fix his leg.  Good news is the surgery is scheduled for March 23rd so there's only a little while more to wait.  Waiting is the worst!  So many things to get stressed about while you are waiting...

Welcome to our new followers.  Sorry we haven't had much to post about lately.  I expect things will pick up after the surgery is done.

Besides waiting for surgery we've been trying to finish up things for taxes.  Since we both do contract work and have associated travel expenses it can get complicated.  It's funny how we categorize expenses differently.  Is it "work meals" or "groceries?"  "Entertainment" because I golfed with a business associate or just plain "Golf" for fun?  I just spent the afternoon trying to reconcile entries so we can avoid any audit triggers!  Hopefully we can wrap things up before the weekend on this stuff.  

Speaking of golf, I was able to play a few rounds last week.  Some rounds were better than others...  Someone said practice will help with consistency.  I'm still skeptical on that one.  Maybe it's because I don't like to practice...

It's starting to feel like spring here in Austin.  That's great for the golf.  Not so great for allergies!  

Johnny has a couple of doctor's appointments this week -- Rhuematologist and ENT.  Just getting some more routine appointments out of the way.  And I figure he'll have a pre-op appointment one of these days...

Other than that, I think we'll try to have a garage sale this Saturday.  Maybe we can unload a bit more stuff while we're here...  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Finally some good news!

Early yesterday morning Johnny got a call from the VA asking if he could be in Temple at Scott and White Hospital that afternoon for an appointment with the head of Orthopedics there for a consult on his leg.  Of course we scrapped all previous plans for the day and headed for Temple.

For those who've been following along, this is appointment is for the second opinion the VA said they didn't do...

After taking X-rays and reviewing them the doctor said he's about 85% sure he can fix Johnny's leg.  Good news number 1!  Then he described how he would go about it and said that barring infection Johnny should be able to go back to work within about 3-4 weeks of surgery.  And he'd be able to walk on it almost immediately.  Good news number 2!  Good news number 3 is that he didn't think it would matter if he had the surgery now or in 6 months or a year.  Chances of success are about the same (of course barring any unforeseen accidents).

So now we just have to get the VA to agree to send him to this doctor for the surgery!

Talk about your highs and lows... We've gone from working out how to deal with the VA recommended amputation to a prognosis that says while it's not an easy case, it should be fixable with a relatively quick recovery!

By the time we got home we were both exhausted.  Even good news can take it out of you...

Monday, February 28, 2011

February is gone! How did that happen?

There hasn't been too much going on around here.  Just been getting Johnny caught up on doctor's visits so long as he is here in Austin.  He got his custom shoes and brace on Valentines Day and so far it is working out well.  He's getting used to walking with it and it seems to be working.  He had another appointment with a different orthopedic doctor who thought it would be even better if his brace went above the knee.   So we're working on getting that done.   He's also working on a referral to a specialist who is one of only about 3 doctors in the US who does some sort of Russian procedure that might be an option to rebuild his shin bones.  So we will see how all that works out.

While that is all going on, we're waiting on the trailer being fixed and trying to get some stuff done around the house.  Oh and doing a bit of motorhome shopping.  We've found a Travel Supreme in Florida that looks really good and is a better price range for us.  Only problem is that it is in Florida and we're in Austin!

I've been working this week with a very nice real estate client and trying to figure out options for working on the road.  I've talked with a couple of agents who found they really didn't enjoy actually working with clients and ended up leading teams of other agents who dealt with clients.  While I really enjoy working with clients, I'm exploring this as an option that I can continue once we are traveling full-time.  It's looking like it could really work and would leverage my experience and investment already made.

The weather has finally gotten very nice this week, so I'm hoping to play some golf and get some work done in the yard.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

I feel bad about not posting more often.  We've had a run of bad luck the past week or so...  It's not much fun to write about the bad stuff, but you can't really ignore it either -- much as we'd like to!

Before we left Austin my friends, Rhonda and Michael, hosted a wonderful 6 course birthday dinner for me complete with wine pairings.  My date Johnny had more wine that night than I think he's had the whole time I've known him! Dinner was absolutely fabulous!  Thanks guys!
Our wonderful hostess, Rhonda.  Somehow we missed Chef Michael on camera!

Things started to go wrong when we hooked up the 5er to head down to Louisiana to visit the kids and grandkids.  For some reason we just weren't entirely in sync and Johnny tried to back the truck up before I pulled the hitch pin.  Oops!  Recovered from that, got things hooked up and headed now the road.  

Eight hours later we were unhooking at Lakeside RV Park in Livingston, LA.  I think Dee and Jim would like this park.  Nice large, level rv spots and not too many trees to maneuver around!  Apparently, we still weren't quite in sync.  Normally I put the front jacks down on the trailer before I pull the hitch pin and Johnny pulls out.  For some reason we tried to make sure the pin would move first.  It jammed and when it finally came loose the trailer rolled back a couple feet and dropped on the truck bed.  Scared the cr@p out of us, but thankfully the only damage was to the truck bed and later we learned to the bed slide mechanism in the trailer.  Oh well, we were taking it to the shop later in the week anyway...

Over the next couple of days we had a good visit with Johnny's kids and grandkids.  We met the newest grandson, Barrett Andrew.  Played with big brother, Bennent Anthony, whose current favorite phrase seems to be, "You no hold that baby, you play with me!" 

Paw Paw Johnny and Barrett Andrew

We also had custards with the older boys, Conly and Preston and got to see Preston play basketball.  Unfortunately they lost, but Preston played well.

On February 10th I celebrated my 50th birthday Johnny's daughters, Keri and Kelli, Kelli's husband Shane and their older son, Bennett at Hello Tokyo Sushi and Hibachi Grill.  Johnny was skeptical about the whole idea of raw fish, but went along since it was MY birthday.  He found out he really likes Japanese grilled food!  I knew he would, but had to find a big enough reason for him to go along and try it.  Seems my 50th was an occasion he couldn't say no to... I resisted the temptation to order him some sashimi.  lol

My Junior Birthday Date, Bennett

No, the hat isn't for me...

On Friday morning we headed out to Houston to drop off the trailer at Bob Jones RV Repair for some needed repairs.  (Thankfully, our ineptness from earlier in the week seemed to have worn off and got on the road incident free.)  We had to get the bed slide mechanism taken care of and also some ice/water damage from when we were up in the Arkansas rain, snow, sleet and ice in early January.  There's some debate about whether the ice/water damage will be covered by insurance.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!  By the way, if you ever need RV service or a repair and are in the south Texas/Louisiana area, we highly recommend Bob Jones RV.  They are great!  Not cheap, but they have things done when they say they will, they're done correctly and they will work with you to find a good solution.

The trip through Houston, dropping the trailer and the remainder of the trip to Austin was smooth.  Right till we stopped at Chuy's for some local Tex-Mex  before heading to the house.  That's when the transmission in the truck went away.  We just found out it will cost $5750 for the replacement transmission.  Oh joy!   Nothing to do but fix it.

On the upside, we've had a very nice Valentines Day together so far.  The weather is lovely.  I gave Johnny the watch I had picked out for him a couple of months ago.  He showered me with a variety of fudge, a pretty nightgown and robe and a blue topaz bracelet.  And the very best thing is we picked up Johnny's brace so we can see how that is working.  So far so good.  He needs to work up to wearing it full-time, so we're in the process of doing that now.  An hour or so a day to start with.

Tonight we're going to a local sushi and Japanese grill -- Johnny's request this time... I might have created a monster!  That's okay though, cuz now I get sushi without having to wait for a girls night out... lol

I keep telling him the presents are beautiful, but all that really matters is that we are able to spend the day together.  I love him more than I thought possible.  Sure hope he knows that!