Almost Time to Travel

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Malcolm finished a couple more weeks of work as of today, so we’re off the next two weeks. Instead of hauling the trailer somewhere (we had been thinking Kentucky), we decided to buy a pair of plane tickets to Seattle and fly out to see our daughter and family. We’re heading out Monday afternoon to spend the night in a hotel in Atlanta and catch an early morning flight on Tuesday. We’ll be out there 8 days, then flying back home.

The rest of the week has been pretty quiet after we got the new truck home. Malcolm listed the old truck for sale on a Ford truck forum but hasn’t gotten any bites yet. However, we’ve arranged to sell Val’s car to some friends of ours. We were going to sell the car around the time the house was sold, so we’re hanging onto the old truck for a bit longer.

It’s actually been a blessing still having the old truck around. For example, Malcolm was able to transfer the rolling cover off the bed of the old truck onto the new one. New rolling covers run around $1,300 or more, so that saved us some money. And of course, selling the truck ourselves, we can get a lot more money than what the dealer had offered us on trade.

We dropped the new truck off today with a local hitch and trailer company to get bed rails mounted in the bed of the new truck. Once it was home, Malcolm and David transferred the hitch to the new truck. It fit perfectly. The new bed rails are much beefier than the ones in the old truck. Malcolm moved the rolling cover over afterwards. We’ll need some weatherstripping, etc. to tidy up the installation, but otherwise the cover transferred right over.

Hitch mounted on new rails

Hitch mounted on new rails

One feature that our truck has on it is the tailgate step. Malcolm loves it. It does make it easier to climb up into the truck bed.

Tailgate step

Tailgate step

We were going to have a drop-in bedliner put in by the folks that installed the hitch rails, but they had gotten the wrong size. Malcolm was leaning towards a spray-in liner, instead, so that worked out and gives us time to decide which way we’ll go. The old truck had a drop-in liner. We may even just go with a mat on the floor.

New Truck

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

On Monday, a plan came together at lunch. We’ve been debating going ahead and trading our almost 12-year-old truck in and getting a newer model. It was a difficult decision, as we’ve put so much money in the older truck to make it reliable. A lot of it is money we wouldn’t get back out of it in a sale, let alone a trade-in. Also, as the truck continues to depreciate in value, expensive repairs, whether preventive or not, are seeming more like money out the window.

It may not have been the smartest move financially, but we went ahead and drove our truck to Malcolm Cunningham Ford in Atlanta, Georgia to purchase a 2013 Ford F-350 that they had listed on Auto Trader for $48,000. The sticker price was nearly $61,000, so we got a fairly good deal on the new truck.

The new truck, waiting for detailing.

The new truck, waiting for detailing.

They only offered us $5,000 on trade-in on our truck. A clean trade, according to NADA, would have been between $9,500 and $10,300, so we decided to keep the old truck and sell it ourselves (clean retail is close to $14,000). So, we each drove a truck back home.

Stopped for a late dinner.

Stopped for a late dinner.

By the time we got out of the dealer, it was after 9:00 eastern time and we hadn’t eaten since lunch. So, we made a quick stop at a nearby McDonalds then hit the road for the 2.5 hour drive back home. We arrived back at the campground around midnight and then had trouble getting to sleep for a bit. Then, Malcolm woke back up at 3:45 am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so he has had a tiring day today.

Malcolm had a dentist appointment today to do a couple of fillings. After that, he stopped by a place that installs hitches and other truck stuff and got parts ordered to put hitch rails and a bed liner in the new truck. After that, he headed to the trailer for lunch and found Val and David returning for an exercise excursion in the park (David is trying to build up for basic training in February). We ended up driving over to the new Zaxby’s nearby and eating lunch there.

Val drove the other truck up to the house (at lunch-time, we had all four of our vehicles at the campground) and took care of some things at the house. After work, Malcolm stopped by the house and we cleaned some items out of the old truck to put in the new truck. Malcolm also removed the tire pressure monitor system sensors and base unit from the old truck. He will install all that on the new truck soon (even though the new truck has a factory tire pressure monitoring system).

Dinner was a quick and easy dinner (ramen noodles and apples) since neither one of us was terribly hungry. We popped out to Bed, Bath and Beyond to look at some plastic organizer bins to help organize the bottom of the huge center console in the truck. After that, we stopped by Starbucks to get a coffee, then headed back to the trailer to relax and unwind.

Church and More House Work

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Today, we got up and headed to our home church – First Presbyterian Church in Prattville, Alabama. It was great to see folks we hadn’t seen in a while (though we had been to the funeral service here the day before). Since the choir special was a song we both knew, we robed up and sang in the choir today.

After church, we stopped and ate lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse. While there, one of the servers walked up to our table holding an appetizer and asked if we had eaten yet. When we said no, he indicated that the appetizer was an extra and that he was told to go give it to someone, so we took it. It was a spicy dish, so Malcolm got it to himself. Speaking of appetizers, we ordered the pretzel sticks (a new item on their menu) and they were awesome.

After lunch, we headed to the trailer and changed into work clothes, then headed to the house. Malcolm use the new hedge trimmers we bought yesterday to trim all the bushes out front. Then he got the tractor and trailer and a rake and cleaned up the clippings. A quick sweep of the sidewalk and he was done for the day. Did we mention that it is hot and humid?

After the yard work, we headed back to the trailer to relax and scrounge up dinner from leftovers that we had around. Malcolm grilled a couple of hot dogs outside. Val enjoyed a bag of microwave popcorn we picked up in Indiana in June (Amish). It was really good.

Callie showed her displeasure with the new furniture piece we bought to hide her litter box by doing her business on the carpet near the entrance to the container this morning. We opened the door and she has now decided that is an acceptable means of ingress and egress. We’ll keep an eye on it and see if we can talk her into using the official entrance in the future. If not, it’s not a big deal to leave the door swung open.

Litter box container with door open

Litter box container with door open

Getting Things Done

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Friday was another busy day. Val was over at the house sorting through things. She met the contractor who was sent over by Home Depot to measure the exterior doors we will soon order and have replaced. Malcolm had yet another appointment, this time at the optometrist. Time for new contact lenses. We love the optometrist at our local Costco. She’s always so thorough and recommended an excellent brand of contact lenses for Malcolm when he complained that his always dried out.

We had received a new cat litter box for Callie from Amazon which David dropped off with Malcolm before he left the office. Once Malcolm got home, we ate dinner in the trailer, then headed over to the grocery store and Walgreens to get a prescription filled. The rest of the evening was just stuff around the trailer and relaxing.

This morning we got up early and got dressed to head to church for a viewing and funeral service for a dear church friend that we called “Pop” as he was almost like a grandfather to us and the children. It was a beautiful service and we saw a few people we hadn’t seen in a long time as well as a lot of folks from church that we hadn’t seen since June.

David had an early meeting with his Air Force recruiter to start working out. He quickly found out how out of shape he is. Afterwards, he headed over to the church to sit with us during the funeral services. His recruiter gave him a date when he will be heading off to basic training – February 11th. That makes our Christmas planning much easier now.

After the services, we headed to Mellow Mushroom to get some pizza and salads for lunch. From there, David headed home and we headed to the trailer to change into work clothes and headed to the house. Val sorted through things inside while Malcolm did some yard work out front. David and Malcolm used the truck and some chain to pull a couple smaller trees out from around the back of the house.

Once we got done at the house, we headed to Home Depot to pick up some furnace filters for the house as well as a new set of electric hedge clippers and some parts for a shelving project (more on that in a future post). Being tired from the hectic day, we fell into Cracker Barrel and had a relaxing dinner.

Once back at the trailer, Malcolm assembled a nice cabinet that hides Callie’s litter box. It will double as small coffee table next to the couch when we’re parked. We got the cabinet from Amazon – LINK. We got the Walnut colored one.

Surprise Package

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Yesterday was a fairly quiet day. Malcolm went to work and Val ran more errands. Malcolm had his yearly physical and everything looked good. The only concern that the doctor had was that Malcolm seemed a little too short for his current weight.

Malcolm stopped by the house after work yesterday to pick up some mail and a package for Val. While there, he decided to jump on the riding mower and mow the front yard real quick. We recently had our road widened to allow for bike lanes and as a result, there are a lot of gravels and rocks down in the culvert at the front of the yard.

Malcolm figured mowing right through the rocks wouldn’t be too bad of a deal. As a result, we now have a broken window on the front of the house. Fortunately, it only broke the outside pane. The inside pane is intact. One more thing to fix on the house.

Today, David stopped by the office and rode with Malcolm to pick up Val at the campground. After a fine dining experience at Taco Bell, we headed down to the courthouse to take care of tags and other paperwork. Since Malcolm had financed David’s car, but it is now paid off, we gave him the car so it will be fully in his name now. He got a new tag and they’ll mail him his title later on.

We got Val’s car, the truck and the trailer tags done, so we’re all set for another year. Total damage was $511 (about half of that was the trailer tag renewal).

Malcolm dropped Val and David off at the campground and they went shopping. Val stopped by the house and found two packages on the porch for Malcolm (he was expecting one). When Malcolm got home after work and pulled the packages out of the trunk of the car, he found that one of them was from Heartland RVs. Last Friday, Malcolm had emailed Heartland service about the fading furnace cover and the broken landing gear switch. Today, the parts arrived. Excellent service.

New parts

New parts

While hamburgers cooked on the grill, Malcolm replaced the landing gear switch (and took pictures in the process). The first steps involved removing the old switch. Four screws and some sealant hold it on. Once those were removed/cut through, the switch was loose.

Old switch with screws removed

Old switch with screws removed

Cutting through the sealant

Cutting through the sealant

Switch is loose

Switch is loose

Looking behind the wall, Malcolm found four colored wires (red, blue, yellow, green) that matched the wires on the back of the old switch as well as the new one. To keep wires from shorting against each other, Malcolm removed the tape from around the wire nuts and clipped each wire on the switch side.

Four wires

Four wires

Tape removed from wire nuts

Tape removed from wire nuts

Malcolm shortened the leads on the new switch (they were almost 2 feet long) rather than having to bundle up a bunch of extra wire. The switch was mounted to the front of the coach and the screws reinstalled. Then, he removed a wire nut and the scrap wire from the old switch and attached the wires, one by one, to the new switch using the existing wire nuts.

New switch mounted

New switch mounted

New switch wired up

New switch wired up

At this point, Malcolm gave the switch a quick test to make sure that Up was Up and Down was Down. All worked fine, so it was time to tidy up the wires and retape them and then apply sealant around the switch plate outside (not shown).

Wires taped up

Wires taped up

The entire process took about as long as it did to cook hamburgers on the grill. After dinner, it was time to tackle the furnace cover. Malcolm didn’t take any step by step pictures of this process, but it mostly involves removing screws. The screws holding on the vent plate were removed (they are odd-sized Torx screws that a T-15 removed, but would spin inside them). The four screws holding the cover on the coach were removed and the entire assembly was wiggled off. There is a long tube on the bottom vent hole and a short one on the top vent hole.

While trying to reattach the vent assembly onto the new cover, Malcolm found that the T-15 Torx bit was just not going to grab the self-tapping screw well enough to get it started into the hole on the cover. So, a quick trip to Lowes to buy equivalent Phillips self-tapping screws was successful. They ended up being #10 by 3/4″. Once those were used, the entire thing went back together easily. A plastic bezel was included with the new cover, but the one on the coach was fine, so Malcolm didn’t replace that.

Here’s a before and after shot.

Before: Note faded cover on right.

Before: Note faded cover on right.

After: Now both match

After: Now both match