January through March

With a new year came new laziness in updating our blog (you probably noticed). We’ve been in Florida the entire time, or at least the RV has. Well, you’ll see below. There will be a lot of pictures and some accompanying text just to catch you up.

Dishwasher Installation

We installed our countertop dishwasher in a more permanent fashion in the trailer. We cut a hole through the kitchen wall and used a difficult-to-reach bathroom cabinet to contain the dishwasher. It just fit in the space. Malcolm had to move one shelf up a couple inches in the top bathroom cabinet.

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Construction Starts

We took out some of the decorative woodwork around the opening in the kitchen and put a shelf above the dishwasher. That more than made up for the slight loss of counter space in front of the dishwasher.

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First Test Fit

With everything trimmed up, we’re happy with the results. We’ve been using the dishwasher quite regularly since (and using less paper plates and bowls).

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Malcolm’s (First) Trip to Houston

In mid-January, Malcolm flew out to Houston for a week for work. It was a pretty non-descript trip. The hotel was nice and served a hot breakfast, and on most evenings, a hot dinner. United Airlines is the primary airline flying direct from Orlando to Houston. Malcolm said he liked it OK, but the seats were a little more cramped than Delta or Alaska airlines, so he upgraded his seat coming back home.

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Camping at Fort Wilderness

At the end of January, we pulled the trailer the 15 miles to Disney’s Fort Wilderness for our annual camping trip there (our first trip in 2013 was to Fort Wilderness and it has since become a tradition).

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Our buddy Bullseye is excited to be checking in

David came down and joined us for the majority of the trip. He left his kitties home with his roommates. We visited Disney parks a couple days.

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We also took a trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa one day. David got all of us free tickets with his military pass.

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Malcolm went horseback riding at Fort Wilderness while we were there – another tradition. (Val can’t ride anymore due to knee issues).

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We took advantage of our Disney Vacation Club privileges to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the top floor outdoor balcony at Bay Lake Tower (next to the Contemporary lodge). It tried to sprinkle rain on us, but we braved the chilly drizzle to see the fireworks from a fun vantage point.

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Other Goings-Ons

We also took advantage of our Disney Vacation Club privileges and attended the Moonlight Magic event at Magic Kingdom. At these events, the park closes to the general public around 8:00 PM but stays open until midnight for Disney Vacation Club members that reserved admission ahead of time. The entire evening is free and they even fed us dinner. There was also all the Mickey ice cream bars you could eat. Not to mention, all the rides were open with the longest wait at 10 minutes.

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We both entered chili in a chili cook-off at our neighborhood club house. Neither of us won but all the chili was good.

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The theme was Western Night. As you can see, there were very few cowboys and cowgirls there. Malcolm wore his entire outfit, complete with hat and boots. If they had a costume contest, he probably would have won.

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Malcolm’s Second Trip to Houston

Malcolm had a second trip to Houston at the end of February to complete the project he traveled there in January for. He was happy to find that Hertz had a Ford pickup truck for rent. As a Hertz Gold member, Malcolm gets to pick out any vehicle in the Gold parking lot at Houston airport, so we picked something familiar.

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Visiting Friends at Disney

Right after Malcolm got back from Houston, some friends of ours who attended church with us in Alabama were in town with some of their family. We met up with them all one day and visited both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. It was a whirlwind day, but we all had fun and it was great seeing the Huffmans again.

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Tim and Debby Huffman

Anniversary Time

We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on March 8th by staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for two nights. We had a savanna view room. There were wild animals outside our balcony. It was fun seeing all the different animals just steps away from our room (all the rooms are at least 15 feet above ground level).

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Our Room

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Wildebeest Outside Our Room

Malcolm took his good camera setup with him and had a great time photographing a lot of the wildlife around the facility. He posted quite a few pictures in his gallery here: [LINK].

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David’s Graduation

The Thursday after our anniversary trip, we headed up to stay at David’s house in Panama City, Florida. He was graduating from ACS and was officially becoming a Staff Sergeant (ranking up from Senior Airman). He asked if we would “pin on his stripes” and we, of course, said “yes!”

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Some of the Graduates (David 2nd from left)

There was a nice presentation ceremony. They typically do a complete banquet, but this class was much smaller due to displacement of many of the troops after hurricane Michael severely damaged David’s Air Force base (Tyndall). Instead, it was a short ceremony with certificates handed out and a couple of the higher-ups speaking.

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After the ceremony, we pinned on David’s stripes while one of his roommates took our picture for us.

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Finally…

Other than those events, we’ve pretty much settled into a routine here. Yes, we are still going to be traveling and continue to live in our fifth wheel RV on our lot here in Florida. Most of our trips this year will be shorter “staycations” as seen in this post. Our only big trip this year is our annual trip out to Washington state this summer to visit the grandchildren and family.

Part of the decision to stay “close to home” for the most part is financial. Over the past few years, we’ve lived like tourists and now it is time to catch back up while Malcolm still has a good income. We’re back on a budget and working on paying off everything over the next couple years. All of this will help us later blend into a retirement income down the road.

 

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Christmas and New Year

Dates: December 23, 2018 to January 2, 2019

Location: Our daughter and son-in-law’s home near Tacoma, Washington

We headed into Christmas with Malcolm catching yet another cold after our flight back from Hawaii. That ended up turning into a full-fledged sinus infection on Christmas Eve afternoon. Of course, nothing could be done until the day after Christmas (aside from an emergency room visit), so he soldiered on through Christmas festivities as best he could.

We had a really nice evening service at church on Sunday, the 23rd. The evening service had the children singing and presenting the Christmas message. Elizabeth played the flute and Scarlet and Violet were up on stage. Violet had a speaking role, as well.

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Children’s Choir

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Violet Speaking Her Part

After the choir presentation, the children came down to sit with their families and the remainder of the service was a candlelight service as we sang a couple of familiar hymns.

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Val and Scarlet

On Christmas Eve, we headed over to Cole’s parents’ house for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. A lot of the family and some friends stopped by. Malcolm relaxed with one of his friends.

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Malcolm and King

On Christmas morning, we all opened gifts. Our son David joined us via FaceTime since he had to stay home and work on getting insurance matters straightened out in getting his house fixed.

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Malcolm got a set of socks, one pair for each day of the week and an extra pair for “laundry day”. Since Christmas was on Tuesday…

Later on Christmas Day, we headed over to Cole’s parents’ home again for Christmas dinner and to do the annual gift exchange.

The day after Christmas, Val drove Malcolm to the doctor’s office to get checked on. He was prescribed antibiotics and nasal spray to relieve the symptoms. He was feeling better after a couple days on medication.

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After Christmas, Malcolm stayed home and the rest of the crew headed out to the mall. The girls had gift cards for lunch and for Build-A-Bear.

We didn’t do a lot of activities, but did end up going to the zoo on the Saturday after Christmas. Bullseye the horse left clues around the house and in the car for the girls to figure out where we were going.

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It was cold and started raining while we were at the zoo, but we had a good time anyway. Many of the animals and exhibits were inside, so we enjoyed those. Malcolm took his camera with him and captured quite a few pictures and put them in his gallery: [Click Here].

We let the girls stay up for a while to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve, but found out it was delayed two hours so it would be 11:00 before they could see it, so it was off to bed when they got really tired.

Our flight home left late in the evening on Wednesday, January 2nd, so we got to spend most of the day with the girls and Elizabeth (Cole had gone back to work). Scarlet had woken up that morning sick, so we took Violet out to lunch while Elizabeth and Scarlet stayed home. It was Violet’s choice and we ended up at McDonalds.

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Scarlet was feeling well enough to eat part of a kids meal, so we picked on up on the way out the door and took it home to her.

On Wednesday evening we said our goodbyes to the girls and Elizabeth a little early to avoid disrupting bedtime too much. Cole took us to the airport and dropped us off. We were more than 3 hours early and the lines for security were really light (plus we have PreCheck, which helped as well). Our plane left a little late, about 11:15 PM and got to Orlando a little late, around 8:00 AM eastern time.

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Sunrise Over North Florida

Dates: January 3 to 7, 2019

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Our neighbor, Jim Lee, picked us up at the airport and brought us home. We dropped all our suitcases in the guest house (to sort through later) and ended up napping the rest of the morning until past noon. We headed out and grabbed some lunch, then picked up our mail from the post office. Malcolm got a little bit of work in during the afternoon and again on Thursday.

On Friday, Malcolm didn’t have any work assigned to him, so he decided to tackle the dishwasher installation in the trailer. He worked on that Friday afternoon and most of Saturday. We’re pleased with the installation. Malcolm will detail that install in an upcoming blog post.

For now, it’s just back to work for Malcolm and the usual life around here for both of us.

 

 

 

Christmas Trips

Dates: December 7 to 10, 2018

Location: Our daughter and son-in-law’s home near Tacoma, Washington

On Friday, the 7th, we got up super early and packed our luggage into our neighbor Jim Lee’s car. He was nice enough to get up super early to drop us off for our 7:50 AM flight out of Orlando to Seattle. We breezed through check-in and security (that PreCheck paying for itself again) and boarded our plane on time.

When we arrived in Seattle, our son and daughter were both at work and both grandchildren were in school, so we picked up a rental car for the weekend. We spent the weekend visiting, making cookies, etc.

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We also went with the family to church on Sunday. We got up early Monday morning, loaded up our rental car with some of our luggage and headed to the airport for part 2 of our Christmas trip.

Dates: December 10 to 17, 2018

Location: Disney’s Aulani Resort, Ko Olina, Hawai’i

We had visited this resort back in 2016 for our 30th wedding anniversary as cash paying customers. This time we decided to go using our timeshare points from our Disney Vacation Club membership.

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Our flight arrived an hour early (yay, Alaska Airlines) and we surprised our shuttle company. They were waiting for other passengers, but ended up taking us to the resort instead.

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Our room was advertised as Island Gardens view (i.e., the back side of the building). However, it wasn’t much of a stretch to see the ocean and our balcony faced the sunrises each morning. As an added bonus, we could see the stage for the luau that they had a few nights while we were there and could clearly hear the music and narration.

Sadly, the first day we were there, Malcolm came down with a cold. Fortunately, it didn’t hit him as hard as they usually do, so we managed to do a lot of relaxing outside. Val caught the cold a couple days later and managed to suffer through, as well. Housekeeping left two extra boxes of tissues with us at our request.

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Cold Medicine

We spent most of our time at the resort, taking advantage of the various swimming pools, hot tubs and the lazy river.

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Adult Hottub View

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Lazy River

We did take one organized excursion around the island of Oahu. Our bus left the resort at 7:30 AM and arrived back at 5:45 PM. We saw many different sites along the way. Malcolm took his big camera and posted the pictures from that journey here: [Click]

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Our Ride for the Day

We also had a special dinner at the sit-down restaurant at the resort on Friday evening to celebrate Val’s “special day”. Val was adopted and her special day celebrates when she came home to live with her adoptive parents.

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On Monday, the 17th, we checked out of our room around 11:00 AM but our flight wasn’t set to leave until 11:25 PM that night. Aulani lets you stay around all day if you want and they even have a lounge with attached bathrooms (complete with showers and lockers) so that you can go swimming if you want, then change into travel clothes before you leave. That room closed at 6:00 PM, so we changed around 5:00 PM and caught a cab to go to the airport fairly early.

We arrived at the airport at 6:00, figuring we’d get checked in and head to get something to eat. Unfortunately, we had to wait until almost 7:30 PM outside with our luggage. The USDA checkpoint was closed until then and you have to put your checked bags through their machine before you can drop them off with your airline.

We finally got back to our gate around 8:00 PM to find out our flight had been delayed and was now going to leave at 1:00 AM. We napped, watched videos on our phones, etc. until we could board the plane. We both ended up napping the whole way back to Seattle, arriving around 8:00 AM. We rented another car for the rest of the week so nobody would have to come get us at the airport.

Dates: December 18 to 22, 2018

Location: Our daughter and son-in-law’s home near Tacoma, Washington

The final part of our Christmas trip is back here in the Tacoma area visiting family for Christmas and New Years. We ran around with Elizabeth on Wednesday while the children were still in school. We wandered through a few different antique stores and had lunch at Lucky’s, dining in the bus.

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The Dining Bus

Lucky’s is all take out drive-in type food. You order at their stand and, if you want, can sit in their bus and eat. The food was tasty and it was a unique place to eat.

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We also ran across this cool 1947 Dodge in a parking lot in Sumner, Washington. Since Elizabeth was dressed in period clothing, we decided to do a little photoshoot. The owner of the car was in the nearby barber shop and came out to let us see the car, hear it run and for Elizabeth to get pictures in and around the car.

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The granddaughters’ last day of school until after the first of the year was on Thursday, so we’ve had more time to hang around with them since then.

Today, the local fire department came down the street with Santa Claus in tow. He stopped and gave the girls candy canes. It’s a cool tradition and lots of fun.

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We’ll be seeing lots more of our son-in-law’s family over the Christmas holiday and will be here until January 2. More to come…

 

Rolling Through to December

Still with us? Yeah, it’s been a while. Quite a few things going on around here since we last posted in (gasp!) October.

Dates: Oct. 21 to Nov. 2, 2018

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Here’s our latest RV project – a dishwasher. We had looked at small built-in units, but they run around $600-800. After thinking about it for a while, we found a spot where we can install one. After shopping around again, we found that countertop units are $200-300 and are roughly the same size as the built-in units.

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It holds a decent amount of dishes for its size. For now we are running it as a countertop unit, but eventually will install it through the wall next to the refrigerator and into the bottom of the bathroom cabinet on the other side of the wall (very top-right part of the above picture).

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Since the installation is going to take a bit of work and we were getting ready to travel, we decided to hold off on installation until a later date.

Dates: Nov. 2 to 3, 2018

Location: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, Madison, Florida

On November 2, we hit the road heading north for our annual volunteer effort at Fort Toulouse.

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We decided to split the trip in half on the way up and stopped for the night in Madison, Florida (east of Tallahassee). It was a cool, yucky day, but the rain held off when we arrived. We decided to just keep the truck hitched up overnight.

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Dates: Nov. 3 to 11, 2018

Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

On November 3rd, we left Jellystone and stopped at the Love’s Travel Center at I-10 and US 231. David drove up from Panama City to grab some supplies from us. We brought him extra bedding (in case any of his Air Force friends needed a place to sleep) and our MiFi unit so he will have unlimited Internet at home (he had tapped out his phone’s limit).

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Note in the above picture how many trees were blown over. This is about 60 miles inland, north of Panama City. We saw quite a few blown down trees across the panhandle on I-10 and for several miles up US 231 to just north of the Alabama state line.

After having lunch with David, we headed on north to Wetumpka and set up the trailer in our usual spot at Fort Toulouse.

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Most of our time spent in Wetumpka was helping out at the annual Frontier Days re-enactment event they put on in November. Malcolm parked cars as usual and Val helped direct the busses full of school children. We did this on Wednesday through Friday.

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Malcolm parked cars on Saturday and Val wandered around in period dress, visiting with friends we’ve met. Malcolm took some time Saturday afternoon to get some photos. They are all in our photo album at this link: [Click Here].

We left on Sunday morning with plans on stopping on the way home whenever we got tired of driving. We ended up making the whole trip home in one day (around 500 miles), arriving back to our spot around 5:00 PM. We got the trailer all set up before it got too dark.

Dates: Nov. 11 to Dec. 6, 2018

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Shortly after we returned from Fort Toulouse, Malcolm had a Dermatologist appointment to remove a spot on his back. Part of that procedure involved stitches and Malcolm was told to not do anything strenuous (including trying to install a dishwasher). The return appointment for removing the stitches was two weeks later (near the end of November).

Shortly after the surgery, the main air conditioner on the trailer started making a lot of noise. Since Malcolm couldn’t climb up on the roof of the trailer, we called in a mobile repair person. He did a great job of cleaning out a bunch of dirt and debris from the fans in the unit, but the motor was pretty well needing a replacement (it was badly out of balance and the shaft had lots of play in it). We decided that we would order a replacement motor off Amazon and call him back out when the motor arrived.

We’ve been slowly adding some re-decorating touches to the trailer in a more mid-century modern style. One thing we recently added was this vintage “radio”. It was an inexpensive eBay find by Val. It was non-working, so Malcolm gutted it and it now houses a Bluetooth speaker. It also coordinates pretty well with the other items on the table.

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While perusing Facebook, we found out that a high school classmate of Malcolm was in town with his wife. We met up with them for lunch one day at Disney Springs and walked around with them for a few hours of shopping and chatting.

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David decided to come visit us for Thanksgiving as both of his roommates had gone home for the holiday and most of his co-workers were scattered about due to continuing rebuilding efforts from hurricane Michael. We readied the guest house for his arrival.

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David arrived with both of his kitties. This one is Siren. She is less than a year old and recently learned how to fetch a ball and bring it back to you. It turns out she loves it so much that she will keep bringing you a ball until you stop what you are doing and actually play. She will chase the ball for a half hour or more.

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This is Maui. His favorite activities include eating and lounging about the place. He also likes to hide behind our theater seating unit when it is time to go to the guest house for the evening. He ended up spending the night in the trailer with us most every night.

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On Thanksgiving, we ate our dinner at The Wave bar and restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. They had a great buffet along with a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

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Dinner with David.

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After dinner, we rode the monorail around to the Grand Floridian resort to check out the life-size gingerbread house they have in their lobby. It was pretty awesome.

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We also played a round of miniature golf one day and visited a couple of the Disney parks.

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Morning breakfast line.

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Our air conditioner motor arrived right after Thanksgiving over the weekend. We called the RV guy the following Monday to set up an appointment for him to replace it.

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On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Malcolm had his stitches removed. The spot that was removed was benign, so we’re glad for that.

While we were out one day, we decided to get our flu shots (we missed getting them last year). The local Publix grocery store offered a $10 store card for each person getting a flu shot. Insurance paid the bill for the shots, so we picked up some needed groceries for next to nothing.

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The RV repair guy came out and replaced our motor for us. The air conditioner runs better than it did before. On the day he was working on it, we had a cold snap the night before so it was only in the 40s that morning. A couple days later, we had temperatures back in the 80s and got to test everything out pretty well.

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On the 29th of November, we headed to Disney’s Magic Kingdom for the Very Merry Christmas party. We collected lots of goodies and treats and we got to ride several rides with minimal wait. We stayed until the park closed at midnight and came home with very tired feet.

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We went back to the miniature golf the other day for another round.

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The last couple of days we’ve been busy packing for our upcoming Christmas trip out west. We fly out this Friday, December 7th to Seattle. It’s earlier than we usually head out but we’re doing things a bit different this year. More on that coming up soon!

 

Remembering Our Wreck

It’s been a little over three years since we had a wreck while driving our RV down the road on our travels. While some people may have done things differently, this was our experience and we think it might provide some food for thought for other full-timers to think about. We hope you never have an accident, but if you do, maybe you’ll have some wisdom to carry forth from this very long blog post.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015. We’re returning from our annual trip out west to visit family and heading to North Carolina for a family get-together. We left Odessa, Missouri in the morning with a planned stop at Diamond Lake RV Resort near Owensboro, Kentucky. It was a nice, sunny day.

As we approached the intersection of US 41 and Boonsville-New Harmony Road just north of Evansville, Indiana, a minivan in the opposing left turn lane started moving into the middle of the intersection, so we slowed down to see what they were going to do (they had a red turn arrow signal).

Just as we were getting to the intersection, we realized that the minivan is turning left directly in front of us. We had nowhere to go, so we laid on the brakes and t-boned the van directly on the passenger side. We ended up pushing it off the road and into the grass before we all came to a stop.

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We were unhurt. Two occupants in the minivan – the ones sitting on the passenger side – were injured. One required brain surgery later that evening. Though the minivan had side curtain airbags, we assume that passenger might have been resting with his head on the side pillar next to his seat.

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The police came and took reports. Fortunately for us, three different witnesses gave the same report to the officer that the minivan ran the red turn arrow and drove right in front of us. One even indicated that they knew we had nowhere to go and couldn’t stop in time to avoid an accident. At least one witness made sure we had his number in case we needed to talk to him at a later time.

Notes: Make sure you get some solid witnesses. It wouldn’t hurt to get their contact information. If any of them have a dashcam, ask if you can get the footage from them. If you don’t have a dashcam, it might be a good time to think about getting one. Take plenty of pictures, avoid talking to the others involved in the accident, don’t try to help any injured persons unless they are at risk before emergency crews arrive.

Our truck was obviously totaled as was the minivan. Both were towed off. Our trailer hitch broke loose from the truck bed and the trailer slammed into the back bumper of the truck during the impact of the crash. This action bent the frame rails at the front of the trailer as well as the kingpin plate on our MorRyde pinbox.

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The trailer, fortunately, was towable. Full-timing friends of ours were ironically staying just ¼ mile away in the Vanderburgh 4-H Center campground. They helped us unload our belongings from our truck and used their truck to pull our trailer to the campground. They also ran Malcolm over to pick up a rental car and took us out to dinner.

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Notes: Most places don’t have the equipment to adequately tow a large travel trailer or fifth wheel. In our case, we were fortunate that ours was towable by a regular pickup truck and that friends happened to have one nearby. Otherwise, it might be a while before your rig can be towed somewhere safe.

Once back at the trailer, Malcolm started calling both insurance companies. We have State Farm for our truck and (at the time) National General Insurance (through Good Sam) for the trailer. Since we were pretty sure the truck was a total loss, Malcolm also started truck shopping on AutoTrader and found a great deal on a brand new 2016 model about 3 hours away.

On Wednesday, September 30th, 2015, we picked up our new truck in Nicholasville, Kentucky, dropped off our rental car in Lexington, Kentucky and drove the truck back to the trailer. Also, on Wednesday, we tried calling the adjuster for the trailer whose number we were given the night before from the insurance company. The number kept coming back as disconnected.

On Thursday, October 1st, 2015, we finally got ahold of the insurance claims agent. She informed us that they didn’t have any adjusters in the Evansville area or, for that matter, within 3 hours of there. She asked if we could find someone local. We called a local RV dealer and the indicated that they could look at the trailer and prepare an estimate. We put it all on hold so we could continue on our trip to North Carolina in the truck (leaving the trailer behind). The insurance company agreed to pick back up once we returned in a few days.

Note: If the insurance company indicates they don’t have anyone to come out and look at your RV, push them to find one. RVs are harder to provide solid repair estimates for than cars and trucks. Just grabbing a local adjuster may not net you a solid repair estimate. Once submitted, the insurance company will pick over the estimate with a fine-tooth comb, which may take a while.

While on our trip to North Carolina, we made the executive decision that even if our RV was repairable (there were doubts due to the obvious frame damage) we would rather have another one instead. So, while on our trip, we started shopping for a replacement RV. On our way back, we stopped and looked at RVs at three different dealers. We decided on one we found at the last dealer, which happened to be fairly close to Evansville, and put a small deposit on it the next morning.

On Tuesday, October 6th (only a week after the crash), State Farm called and indicated they were declaring the truck a total loss. They paid off the truck loan and sent us a check for the difference within a couple days.

Once back in town, Malcolm went over to the RV dealer on Wednesday, October 7th to make an appointment for them to come over to look at the trailer. He also set up an appointment for having a hitch installed in the truck. They couldn’t get to it until 8 days later, on October 15th. Two people from the RV dealership came over later in the afternoon, took pictures and notes and said they’d start on an estimate the next day.

While we were sidelined at the campground waiting on insurance, etc., we took a little vacation away from it all for a couple nights and got a room at a bed and breakfast up in Brown County Indiana. It was enjoyable and relaxing to get away from all the phone calls and paper pushing.

Once back at the trailer, we decided to start moving everything out in preparation for moving into the new one we had agreed to purchase. On Tuesday, October 13th, we rented a smaller U-Haul box truck and ultimately ended up filling it completely up as well as putting things in the back of the truck and the passenger seat of the U-Haul.

Notes: You don’t realize how much stuff you have with you in your RV until you have to move it all out.

On Wednesday, October 14th, we drove the U-Haul and our truck to Clarksville, Indiana and got a hotel room across the street from the RV dealer. They promised us we could take delivery on Friday morning. The credit union where we had our first trailer loan from agreed to loan us money for the second trailer, as well.

Notes: Alliant Credit Union is a great place to finance your RV if you are full-time. Very few banks or credit unions will loan money on an RV if you are full-timing. If they do, they have to take and put one year’s worth of insurance money in escrow while you have the loan with them. Plan on that extra expense.

On Thursday, October 15th, Malcolm drove back to Evansville to have the hitch put on the truck. After the hitch was installed, he pulled our trailer over to the RV dealer who had agreed to store the trailer on their lot for us pending insurance disposition. He then drove back to the hotel that evening.

On Friday, October 16th, we did our walk-through on the new trailer, loaded everything in it from the U-Haul, took the U-Haul back and were on the road by lunch time, heading to Nashville, Tennessee to join some friends for an RV rally there.

At this point, we owned two trailers – both of which had loans on them. Fortunately, we had been paying ahead on the loan for the old trailer so the next payment wasn’t technically due until the following fall.

As we got into November, we still hadn’t heard anything from insurance on the trailer. Malcolm called a few times and each time was told that they were still looking over the estimate. The sticking point was the frame damage. The RV dealer’s adjuster wrote up the estimate as if the trailer would be getting a new frame, putting the estimate total at $40,000. Of course, an estimate that high needed to be carefully looked at. The biggest problem was that even though National General insured RVs, they often didn’t have to try to fix something with frame damage.

We eventually realized that the trailer would need to be winterized for southern Indiana’s winter weather, so we had the RV dealer do that and paid for it over the phone as well as another month’s storage fees.

Notes: Our insurance, once they found out we were paying to have the RV stored and winterized, reimbursed us. Make sure you find out from your insurance if you will get reimbursed for such expenses.

Also about this time, State Farm contacted us to let us know that the badly injured passenger in the van was suing the driver of the van, the owner of the van (who was riding in the van at the time) and Malcolm for medical expenses. Many people, when they heard this, asked why they would sue Malcolm since fault was obviously with the other driver.

This is fairly common practice since if the insurance companies didn’t come to some type of agreement, the case might go to court. In court, some percentage of fault may end up being assigned to the other driver based on various circumstances, so it never hurts to get everyone involved listed as defendants. In this case, at least, State Farm was the insurance company for Malcolm, the driver of the other vehicle and the owner of the other vehicle, so it was all pretty much staying in-house.

The attorney for State Farm told Malcolm what to expect and that he would pretty much be handling everything for us. We only had to let him know when we were served with the official lawsuit papers. Of course, service would be to our address of record which was a mailbox at the Escapees headquarters in Livingston, Texas – a place which we rarely ever visit.

Notes: If you are a full-timer using a mail service as your domicile, things like getting served papers for a lawsuit or other legal actions become much more complicated. Note that the burden of finding and serving you is usually on the plaintiff’s attorney.

By mid-November, with no apparent forward movement being made by the insurance company, Malcolm left a message on the Good Sam RV forum in the area regarding RV insurance and indicated his concern and displeasure with how the claim was being handled. This got the ball rolling and Malcolm was soon contacted by the head of the RV insurance division at National General who promised to get things moving and to keep in touch with us.

The main problem, according to the head of the RV insurance division, was finding someone qualified to give a proper estimate on repairing the frame of the trailer and who could actually do the work. Not many RV repair places want to attempt that (including the one that came out to work up the original estimate on ours).

Finally, in December, the insurance company indicated that they were going to have the trailer towed to Goshen, Indiana to Lippert Industries, the company that originally made the frame on the RV. Lippert agreed to look at the trailer and give an estimate to repair, if it could be repaired. The trailer was towed to them shortly before Christmas, so it sat until early January, 2016.

Notes: Up to this point, we could technically have continued to live in the RV while waiting on insurance, but we chose to buy another RV and just move on. You’ll note that it has been three months at this point. If you couldn’t live in your RV while waiting for insurance to take action, make sure you know where you are going to live. Note that our trailer insurance only offers to reimburse up to five nights at a hotel or a maximum of $500 while the RV was being repaired. Check your coverage now and think about where you (and your belongings) might stay in such a situation.

In early January, 2016, Lippert submitted an estimate for around $6,000 to repair the RV, including the frame. The insurance company gave them the go-ahead and also sent a check to Lippert for the amount of the repairs minus our $500 deductible.

Notes: Insurance companies typically send a check directly to you to take to the repair place when the repair is done so you can inspect the work and pay for it once you are happy with the results. Why they sent the check directly to Lippert is a mystery to us.

We were happy that the insurance company had finally moved forward and that our RV was now being repaired. Sadly, we found out that repairing RV damage is as fraught with delays as is taking an RV into a dealer to get repairs done.

With work having started the first week of January, 2016, it was June 24, 2016 (nearly 6 months later) before Lippert indicated that the trailer was ready to pick up. Their excuse during most of the repair time was that they were waiting on parts from Heartland (to repair the bodywork underneath the front of the RV).

When Lippert called on June 24th, they indicated that when we came to pick up the RV, we should have our insurance check in hand. When we indicated that insurance said they had sent the check way back in January, Lippert said they’d look for it and to come on up to pick up the trailer. When Malcolm arrived the following Monday, he looked over the work and agreed it was acceptable. Lippert never found the check and indicated they would contact the insurance company to have another one sent.

On June 29th, we parked our first trailer next to the second one at the same RV park and got it ready to sell. We cleaned it all up, emptied tanks and pulled any other accessories from it that we wanted in our new trailer.

After the July 4th holiday, on July 6, 2016, Malcolm pulled the trailer down to Houston, Texas to PPL Motorhomes for them to consign the trailer. Before he left, he called National General insurance, who still had the policy on the trailer, and asked if they would insure it while it was on the consignment lot. They said they didn’t insure consigned trailers, so we had to find another policy.

Notes: Check your RV policy to see if it covers consignments if you are planning on selling your RV in that fashion. Don’t let the consignment lot tell you it’s no problem to not have insurance on it or to not tell the insurance company the trailer is on a consignment lot for sale.  

Our trailer garnered some interest at PPL, but we kept having to lower the price little by little before it finally sold on October 26th (almost 4 months after dropping it off and 13 months after the accident). We ended up having to pay the difference between our loan on the RV and the net amount from the sale at PPL.

Once we received the final settlement papers from PPL (too late to do anything about it), we noted about $300 of repairs were done to the trailer after they took it in. The items supposedly repaired were burned out lights, the seven wire trailer pigtail and the emergency breakaway switch. All of these items were working when Malcolm drove to PPL in July but were not verified there when the initial inspection took place while Malcolm was there. Lesson learned.

When we dropped the RV off to be consigned, Malcolm asked the National General claims agent about how we might go about claiming diminished value on the RV if it sold for less than we owed on it. National General said we would have to talk to the insurance company for the other driver about that (which we never bothered with).

The lawsuit from the accident was resolved in early September of 2016. We were never served papers. The insurance attorney indicated that the other parties had settled out of court (via insurance) and that we had nothing more to do with the settlement. We were sent a copy of the court order to release the suit and told to keep a copy forever to prove we were no longer liable for any damages regarding that accident.

Notes: Keep paperwork for everything. Insurance estimates, traffic accident reports, lawsuit correspondence and so on. Most everything we had was via email or PDF, so we kept it all in a cloud storage location as well as locally.

In August of 2017, we received a $500 check from State Farm, representing our deductible on the truck. They obviously collected something from either the van owner or driver. This brings up a good point:

Notes: You should check your insurance coverage for your vehicle to make sure that you have uninsured and underinsured coverage equal to or greater than the value of a complete replacement vehicle and RV. Most people on the road don’t carry enough insurance to pay for a totaled diesel pickup truck, let alone the RV behind it.

We hope you get some takeaway from this. I think the biggest takeaway that a full-time RV’er should get is thinking about where you and your things will stay if you are out of your RV for several months due to repairs and/or insurance red tape.

If you want to see the entire gallery of photos from the accident, they are located at this link.