Johannah

 

By now you are likely wondering why would it  EVER be your last?  Well during this extended outing we had some issues.  That’s all I am going to say – you can imagine anything you like, but it just wasn’t working out for everyone involved.   So we talked it over and decided that this might not be a good fit for all of us — and that we might then have to sell the motor home.

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If I didn’t mention this before —  this motor home is owned by the ORIGINAL DREAMERS — my son and I.  We each own 50% of it.  We both used money we have saved to purchase it.  But we both understood one another and knew going in —  that this was something we were going to TRY — and knew that there could be some issues along the way.

So near the end of the second adventure we decided to put it up for sale.  It has been used since that decision was made, and truthfully if I felt confident driving it (it is a tractor trailer size) — I would have been gone “somewhere” every week while it was up for sale!

If we were able to figure out and hook it up to a good internet connection — which we have yet to master (despite our many efforts and purchases in an attempt to do this)  — hubby and I  even considered living in it and using the 14″ garage portion for our office as we traveled the country!  If I have said this once, I have said it 100 times… darn it,  I love that truck!

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My son also loved the truck, despite the issues and said one day…. I wish I could just pack my bag and take off in the truck.  I really want to go on a trip and I said — don’t you dare go without me! So while it wasn’t working for all of us, we still looked back fondly on the adventures we were able to experience in it.

Now that I am away from the truck (it’s parked at my sons house) I dream about learning to drive it, so that I can take it a place or two before it sells.  I loved being in it, I loved the whole darn adventure each time — but also when I get over to my sons and look at it…. I realize that the truck is HUGE and I have many doubts at my age about being able to safely drive it.

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Update:   We did put the truck up for sale – and we sold it in a couple of months.  It is now with a new corporate owner who is using it in association with a well known motorcross team across the country.  I couldn’t be happier that it found a good home — though I still am dreaming of finding another motor home more suitable for us!

And in answer to the question in the title…. we did have one more stop after this one in GA on our way back home — but that was indeed our last trip.

 



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I know, I know.  This was going to be so much fun.  And we (hubby and I) were planning on long term trips with the extended family …. but not all dreams come true.  PLUS —  we knew from the start that this was an experiment — and that we had to see how it all worked out.  The dream was my eldest sons, and mine, and none of us knew if it was going to work out.

This Adventure was our only our second trip out in this gorgeous truck —  but it was also our longest trip experience together.  We planned to start in South Carolina at the Carolina Adventure World, then we headed to Georgia and finally a stop in North Carolina before heading back home.

Our first day on our second trip started out with a LOT of driving.  Let’s just say 7 hours in a truck with 2 little ones, is a long haul.   Did you catch that… 2 little ones?  The trip wasn’t really 100% planned in advance, but when my granddaughter arrived early and there was nothing to stop us from traveling — we packed up the truck for a week worth of camping, the ATV gear and started out.  And while both children were in their safety seats strapped in for the majority of the time (except for the rest stops and other reasons along the way), the 3.5 year old was not happy to be in that seat for long periods of time.  I guess I don’t blame him — we were all kinda in our seats for a long time to cover that distance and still get to South Carolina with enough time to hook up, and take an ATV ride before dinnertime.

Our first stop when we got to South Carolina was at  the Carolina Adventure World – it was a nice clean place and had nice amenities.  They had good size parking spots for our huge truck and trailer – and provided fire pit area, picnic table and nearby showers and bathrooms — as well as a restaurant,  and general store … in case you forgot anything!

DSC06016It’s hard to see our RED truck in this photo, but you can see the amount of space you get per “lot” and the amount of space around the rig so that maneuvering – thankfully –  isn’t like parallel parking.  There were some amazing people here and we totally enjoyed our time.  This place has lots of trails and lots of riding possibilities.  We noticed a lot of side by side UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicles) and many were “decked out” with what looked like comfortable seats and built in coolers! There is supposed to be 100 miles of trails on their 2600 acres of private land at this park – and while I stayed home at the motor home most of the day, I am sure my son navigated and likely saw them all!

It was at this park that we first let our grandson, who would have been about 3.5 years old at the time, ride his 4-wheel ATV all by himself.  It was in a huge open field and his parents had been riding with him now for some time showing him the controls and how it worked.  He mostly went “straight” during his first outing on the 4 wheeler alone — but the time we got to Georgia, he rode almost like a seasoned pro around the kids track.   Below are some pictures from the Carolina Adventure World.

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Back Line of the Motor Homes

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Doing Bike Tricks

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Relaxing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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General Store

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Bath House

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

So did we have a good time?  Yes, we really did.  There were some bumps in the road and we learned things we couldn’t have known about pre-trip.

As mentioned in Part 1 – there was the electrical cord issue but there was more.  Here are some of the things I learned:

1) You may have to settle for less than 50 AMP service.  Breezewood Proving Grounds only had 30 Amp service.  On 30 Amps you can do just about anything you need, but you cannot run both of the trucks air conditioners.  We found this out the hard way,  of course trying to put it on.  My son was using the garage to get into his gear, instead of the small bathroom inside the truck — and it was hot — so he turned it on.  And blew the breaker!  Of course, the air conditioner in the garage wasn’t necessary to run — and so we learned that unless we do have a full 50 Amp service or the generator on… we better just run one at a time.

2) You may not have to use your generator.  It’s another choice we had with regard to the electrical power.  We could have run our generator for the garage air conditioner, and even used it for the refrigerator, and other things, but we instead did without it.  There will be times we will NEED to have it on…. for example, on longer trips because there is no air conditioning in the truck without the generator being on!

3) You can use Propane.  We used the propane for heating the water and running the refrigerator and freezer.  We also used the trucks propane for the grill, having bought the needed connections in advance.  This worked really well, the propane made hot water in no time flat for dishes, or showers and we never had to think about the refrigerator or freezer. I love that most of our essential items will run on either the propane, the generator – or the electrical hookup.

4) Figure out the shower in advance. I had to go outside and get hubby to show me how the shower worked.  It was funny till it wasn’t.  I nearly ripped off the shower knob — thinking it had to move one way or another to turn on the water.  Turns out the switch for that is in the handle of the shower head — I never would have found it, and he had a hard time finding it too.  Something to think about before you are in there … and can’t get it to work!

5) Don’t depend on the campgrounds Wi-Fi signal.   Breezewood has wi-fi — but it wasn’t sufficient for most phones, let alone our laptop or TV.   We did have a Rogue Wave and wireless router.  It advertises it can get you a signal for up to 7 miles – and we were able to “sporadically” hook up to Breezewoods’ signal —  I even deleted 30 emails before it cut me off.   The Rogue Wave might have to be — line of sight — to be at it’s best.  In any case, Breezewood is in a valley between two mountains and that might have been part of the reason we had issues.  It made us realize that we might not always be able to hook up to a wi-fi in our camping locations — use our phones and/or computer and that, like at Breezewood, we might just be able to have one TV channel to watch.

6) Bring Movie DVD’s  – We brought kids DVD’s but we totally forgot the adults.  This is one thing we are going to remember next time, especially if we can’t get a wi-fi signal to use — as we would have loved the option of a movie over the one TV program choice — The Stanley Cup Playoffs.

7) Make Lists  – Make a written checklist of everything you need to check before you go.  Each time till you get used to the routine, this will let you know if you forgot something.  While not unplugging is a big one… which we didn’t forget to do, we did go home with the key to the electrical box!  I called them and mailed it back the next day — but I am hoping that’s because we are still novices that we can remember to return everything before we leave next time!  Other lists to make are things you didn’t remember this time that would make the trip better next time (like DVD’s, more snacks and coffee creamer).

8) You may need to play Musical Beds – Never having slept in a camper we knew there might be adjustments we might have to make.  My husband and I snore. We had no clue how this would affect any of us.  Neither did we anticipate that I would not be able to sleep in a bunk – which was from part claustrophobia, and part heated conditions (not enough air flow into the bunk).  My son had no idea how “soft” the pull out sofa would be and that he would not be able to sleep on it.  So the first night a few of us changed places as the night went on.  Second night, we rearranged, and hubby and I loved the soft sofa bed and the kids loved the bunks – and they even said the snoring wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

 

 

 

We  were anxious to get going on our first trip — but we knew we had to do the repairs/reviewing and checking.  There is nothing less fun than getting out on the open road, headed for a cool place to camp and finding out something serious is wrong with the truck.  Especially for newbies like us!

At the least it’s a delay, at the worse it’s a trip killer.

So we worked as hard as we all could checking and rechecking things.  Making sure everything was in good working order on the truck was primary, but also we made lists of things we needed to bring with us for a comfortable trip.  Things like my tailgating grill, food, snacks, paper products – pillows, blankets, towels — you get the idea.  When you are first starting out with a motor home,  you just don’t have a feel for everything you might need!  I am thankful for a friend who does have a motor home,  and the time she spent letting me know about some very important items to make sure you have with you.   Some of those items included a first aid kit, bug spray, sun screen and loads of paper towels!

The first trip was just going to be to the Breezewood Proving Grounds. DSC05903 It’s located in Pennsylvania — and lets say about 100 or so miles away.  Breezewood is an ATV/Motorcycle park which allows you not only to ride around the grounds with your chosen mode of transportation, but also has 3 “race” tracks for you to ride on, a campground with and without plug ins and other amenities.

The first spot they assigned us to park in…  wasn’t working.  We couldn’t back in to hook up because we had to be able to get the Razor, and ATV’s out of the back garage — and we couldn’t pull in because we didn’t have a long enough electrical hookup cord.

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We learned from that, and was able  to park “sideways” in a different spot at this park, but made a note to get an additional electrical cord for our next adventure.

Additionally, a pull thru spot might also work for this huge truck — so it’s something we will look for in the future.

We didn’t take the “extra” trailer we have talked about taking to carry a car.  This trip we weren’t expecting to have to make any trips outside the park or to any other location — but there will be times we will need an extra vehicle.  We would have had to park the tow vehicle in another location – because even being sideways there would not have been enough space right behind our truck for it.

This park was relatively empty when we arrived and we were the only one in the RV lot – but as the weekend approached, so did the other campers.  We learned there are some who come by each weekend to ride, party and camp.  I am thankful even though they were close to us and we could hear the music, it was not overwhelming and did not stop us from going to bed early or “eventually” sleeping.

 

The first of our preparations are all centered around the motor home being “road ready”.  So we set about looking at all the systems to make sure they were in good working order.

WHEELS

First, we had the wheels all aligned, as the truck “felt” like it needed it when it got up to speed on a highway.  And those with “super trucks” like this one, already know that you need a real expert to do that well.  We thankfully had one within a short distance away – and took the truck there.  It did need it.  The alignment was adjusted, and while there we also paid extra to have the “steering wheel” re-aligned correctly.  That little additional aspect will help with knowing more about how the wheels are turned without getting out, or having someone else get out to look. To us it was important as first time owners.

Additionally, we are considering new tires even though the ones on the truck are in very good condition — the reason is that they are “worn” a bit funny from the alignment being off — and new tires would make the vehicle experience less drag and therefore better gas mileage.  The current tires would/could be sold to make up a good portion of the new price – and so at this point it’s a consideration, but not a necessity.

LEVELING SYSTEM

There was the small matter of a continuous beeping noise.  A sensor  was beeping and for a LONG time we couldn’t find out what it could be causing it to do that.  Out came the manuals and we had to read what it could be, run through them and start to rule things out.   Turned out it was the leveling system.  Some of the the stands under the rig needed to be welded and a few needed more serious re-threading work.  We could do this work ourselves (or should I say the “men” could do that themselves!) and so this was minor in costs.  We had to buy a tool or two to help with this but you know men love buying tools so that wasn’t a problem.

PROPANE TANK

We found as we went from one system to another checking “everything” like it was an airplane getting ready for a flight, that our propane tank was empty.  And old.  That meant that we would have to have it “tested” and certified before they would fill it up with propane.  It’s a safety issue and we knew it had to be done.  However, we found out that we could replace the tank with a totally different configuration using 2 tanks and it was less expensive than testing and refueling the old tank.  It would also be easier to hook up to our tailgating grill, DSC05911so we set about doing that.  We now have 2 new tanks and they are full of fuel for less than certification and fuel was for the old one.  Even better these are more or less removable and refillable at any propane location.  I am guessing that the old tank (from 2005) was the best way to do it at the time, but technology has advanced since then.

AIR BRAKES

These were leaking — and we have had to reseal them.  Right now they are holding air, yay!

Phase 1 — Complete!

Phase 2 – Taking it out for a night or two coming up.

 

 

Well, it’s one thing to think about it — another to plan it out — but it’s really amazingly fun to actually do it.

So far there are no regrets, and we are hoping that all works out well with this new adventure.   It has technically begun with the purchase of the RV/Motor Home that we will be traveling in — and here he/she (yet to be determined) is!

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The plan was always to get one of these amazingly built motor homes that use a Diesel Cummins engine and which can pull with ease and travel a million miles or more!

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AND…. yes, that is RED – and we understand the first owner had it painted that color on purpose and we LOVE it.   It’s a home that sleeps 8, and has a 12 foot garage on the back with wonderfully made and built in tool boxes.  The interior isn’t as colorful – but over time that could change (smile) as we laugh, and sing, cook and enjoy our adventure.

One thing I can be certain of — you will see us coming and recognize us wherever we go!

 

This is more scary post to write than an annoying one.

Everyone ages and we all have to face the retirement or not portion of our lives.  Some of us have saved – some of us have yet to start – but I’ll bet most of us are somewhere in between.

In my case, I have an IRA in which I have saved for retirement, and I will be old enough to qualify for social security in just a few years ( and …if it’s still available).

The scary part is that my husband and I have always worked and provided for ourselves – we worked for a company that we started over 30 years ago.  I still do.  This company provided everything we needed to live and raise our family.   And in the good years provided for quite a few others as well.  It will feel both strange and unusual to have money coming in to our bank account, or out of our IRA’s without working  — because taking it out, using it up – even though that was the intention when we saved it – seems contrary to everything we did up till now to prepare for this phase of our lives.

One thing I am not consciously worried about is making it on that amount of money.  Besides always trying to live “under” our means, and saving, we have for the last five to seven years cut back on everything.

But the reality is, that in the next year or so, we are going to officially, fully and completely retire from life as we have known it for so many wonderful years.

What are we going to do with ourselves?  Glad you asked.  We are right now looking into obtaining a Motor Home” to facilitate our desire to see the United States from end to end.  A bucket list item that was impossible to fulfill when you own your own business and it’s the only source of your income.

We will buy a used  motor home specifically designed to fit our needs.  We need to have a “garage” so that we can fit the gear (4 wheelers, etc.) that we want to take with us, as well as our sons family.  We will travel the US, stopping and staying for a periods of time and then moving on.  With no clock to punch, no deals to make and no familiar annoyances – I think we might even enjoy this thing called retirement while we are all still “young” enough to do it!

And maybe… I’ll blog about all the annoying things I find along the way!

 

 

I am getting older — oh… wait, we all are getting older. See already I might be confused. I know I didn’t think for one minute that I was the only one getting older, or being confused. Right?

With all the gadgets hitting the market today – is it any wonder that for someone my age it’s not intuitive anymore. I used to think that I could figure things out. Figure anything out. That there was always a simple way to accomplish just about anything, by usually just proceeding one step at a time – in the right direction.

However, I just don’t get it anymore. Do you reach an age where this happens to everyone, or is that the “brain power” needed just doesn’t want to cooperate to figure it out anymore.

In the last few years there have been lots of changes – not only in cell phones but in everything. Now things that are just a year old in some cases are already becoming obsolete. Hey I remember when fax machines were a novelty and we all thought that might eliminate the need for mailing any paperwork again…ever. It was just the 1980’s when microcomputers were just getting into the hands of “regular” people…. and it wasn’t that long ago that almost everything started to become “wireless”.

But for me life isn’t becoming easier or less confusing. Part of that is because I didn’t run to get each new gadget as it appeared on the scene, and I am still not sure of some of the technology. It may save time, but at what risk to you or others.

I am thinking about a woman found dead in her garage some six years after she had passed away. All the money she had was “used” up by the companies who had access to her bank account for payment of her bills. So month after month while she decomposed in the garage, her bank account was paying for things she didn’t need, or want, or could even use. No one came to look for her, no one seemed to care if she lived or died – and it wasn’t till everything she had was used up that they finally checked on that house (after foreclosing on it) and found her dead. I think the whole scenerio was caused by this new technology craze. If she didn’t have “automatic” bill pay – they would have found her so much sooner and her heirs would have had some inheritance, and closure. So while this one “technology” inspired “service” takes some pressure off us humans, it can also leave us dead in our garage while it cleans out our bank account.

And that’s just the beginning of the confusing part for me. If you think about some of the other “advances” in the way things are done, you can see that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The pressure however is on. The credit card companies want you to have automatic bill pay… so you won’t forget and they won’t have to charge you $39 for being late, and 29.9% interest. But what most people don’t realize is that they can “manipulate” their side of the system, so they make you late, and cause you that problem a few times…. and then make you feel pressured into signing up.

In my case it has happened at least twice. AND their “standard” answer is, “sign up for auto pay”…. and mine, “NO way”. I am signed up for reminders and I don’t get them. I go online and set up a payment and it never happens… it just never happens that the payment actually gets made. Their answer: “Oh there was a computer issue that day”…. or “Oh your session might have timed out before our system took the information”, or “Oh there was a solar flare that day…” etc. I cannot believe for one moment it’s only my account that is subjected to such manipulation.

I remember having an AMEX card and cancelling it after my payment (back in those days it was a check you mailed in) .. took more than 20 days each month to get to them. NO … I never thought it really took that long, I think they just didn’t process the payment, or mark it PAID till it was late. Why? To get the late charges and interest, which many customers still today do not question or request they remove.

After it happened twice, I cancelled the card.

If you know me, and maybe you don’t – I pay on time, in full and I don’t play games. That might be the reason I was and am a target for the credit card companies to hassle. I don’t ever pay to have a card, and I don’t pay interest ever and sometimes I even get benefits.

They don’t want a customer like me — and that confuses me.

 

It’s been awhile since I participated in a giveaway event. I thought about it a lot (as I too love giveaways) but I prefer the ones that give away a cool prize with a real chance to win. I think this one hits it right for me. So what are you waiting for? Enter today to win!!

Welcome to the “Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway Event” sponsored by Tip Hero and featuring some great bloggers!

We’re giving away a Kindle Fire HDX (ARV: $199) to one lucky winner!
This giveaway begins on June 24th and will run until July 7th at 11:59pm US Eastern time. It will be open to residents of the US only, 18+. Winner may choose to receive a brand new Kindle Fire HDX or its value’s equivalent in an Amazon gift card. Use the PromoSimple form below to enter, and make sure that you take advantage of the many entries you can gain. Also, be sure to come back daily for more chances to win. Good luck!

Disclosure: Its-Annoying is not responsible for prize distribution. If you have any questions or concerns, please send an email to kira@tiphero.com. All entries are optional, but if the winner task is a task that you did not complete, a second winner will be chosen. Winners will be notified via email. If a winner does not respond within 48 hours of the time when the email is sent, another winner will be chosen.

 

I know that most of you are looking for something annoying to read – sorry not today.  Instead,  I wanted to share my Harris Teeter Super Doubles Shopping trip because it shows that anyone really can do it.

First, if you want to just go to the store with all your coupons and walk around checking prices and matching – that’s certainly up to you, but I much prefer the prepared approach.  Why?  I don’t have to keep walking around the store finding the great deals or spend hours in the store — I let someone else do that for me.

This is also not my regular shopping trip – the trips this week are specifically tailored to the Super Double Event.  To prepare I read several blogs that list the “Harris Teeter match-ups”.  I find these by just typing into my search engine “Harris Teeter match ups and the date the sale starts”.  These blogger sites go to almost extreme lengths to not only to find what’s going to be on sale, but also which coupons match up with the sales, and therefore can get you the best shopping trip …ever (or at least a really good one!).  Some of the sites just match up a few of the best deals for the week, and others provide more — like unadvertised sales and coupon match-ups.  Some even provide the “free with coupons list” or the “under $1.00 lists”.  I find all of these valuable and am so glad they are able to do them for me and the other Harris Teeter shoppers. 

While searching their lists – if I find something I want or need, I will use the provided link (if there is one) and print out a coupon for that item.  I also go up to the Harris Teeter website and check out the E-VIC (their loyalty program) to see if there are any coupons I want to add to my card (these are called ZVR).  ZVR coupons are taken off automatically at the register when you use your card and buy the specific products and are in addition to your printed/doubled coupons.  These sometimes will make an item totally free, and other times even make you a small profit. If you have other cards that give you points, bonuses or rewards or where you can add coupons to your cards – you might want to check those out as well.

NOTE: You must have an E-VIC card to be eligible for the Super Doubles, and sign up online to take advantage of the ZVR coupons.

I always read several of the blogs looking mostly for products I use (first choice) and then for products that with the coupon are free.  Sometimes there are tons of choices, and sometimes not so many.  If there are only a few deals I can do, I don’t even go unless the products are everyday ones we use (think coffee, paper towels, toilet paper, cat food). If I find a lot – I will usually make up to about 4 trips in the 7 days of the sale.  Remember, coupon redemption is limited to just 20 which can be doubled in a day, and so 4 trips = 4 different days.

When doing this I make as many 20 coupon lists as I can.  I go with one list, which has the product, the price, and the coupon I have that match up (and I put the coupons in the order of the list).  I know I should put the list in the order the store is laid out, but I find there are differences in the different Harris Teeters and so far I haven’t gone that far — and haven’t needed to!  If they are out of one of the products on list one, I then go to the next list and pack of coupons to see if I can find something in that one to substitute.  I am rarely prepared to take advantage of a surprise sale on something, but I always can get my 20 items – which makes the trip more efficient for me.

My 04/24/14 Harris Teeter Super Doubles Trip

My 04/24/14 Harris Teeter Super Doubles Trip

So let’s see what I was able to do this time.

3 Quaker BIG Chewy Bars, 6 Old Spice Deodorant (one coupon for 2 products), 3 Colgate Toothpaste, 1 Bar of Lava Soap, 3 L’Oreal Advanced Shampoo or Conditioner, 2 L’Oreal Advance Styling Products, 3 Vidal Sassoon Styling Products, 1 Dr. Scholls full innersoles, 2 Mahatma Rice Products (1 coupon on 2)… and then 2 Venus Razor Refills and 2 Snickers bars.  The Venus Razor refills were marked down to $6.24 each and I had one $4.00 coupon and one $5.00 coupon which I used on those (you almost never find them marked down) and I used 2 free coupons for the Snickers Bars.

Grand total for my trip?  $6.78 (tax was $2.97 of that).  You can see on my list I had a ZVR of $2.00 taken off this trip.   It says coupons tendered $105.43, but that might include the sales items, and my extra coupons for my Venus refills, snickers bars and ZVR.

Harris Teeter receipt

Harris Teeter receipt

Yes, I totally enjoyed that trip.  Thank you Harris Teeter for having the Super Doubles event, and especially for not being out of stock of the coupon items.

So do you have a Harris Teeter by you?  Or another store that doubles up to $2.00 face value? 

**Disclosure: I was not paid by anyone to write this article, nor was I influenced in any way – all opinions expressed here are 100% mine.

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