Missouri Showed Us

July 8 to 9, 2019 – Country Gardens RV Park, Odessa, Missouri

When we got up this morning, Malcolm planned on taking our trailer tire over to a local tire shop to have them check to see where it was leaking. Knowing they would just spray soapy water over it to check for leaks, Malcolm decided to make up his own soapy spray with a spray bottle we already had. It just took a few seconds to find that our aluminum rim was cracked inside the rim.

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This is the third rim that we’ve had do the exact same thing. This is also one of the replacement rims they sent to take care of the previous cracked rims. Malcolm decided to drive over to a local tire place to see if they happened to carry standard steel rims like our spare tire is on. They didn’t but recommended us to backtrack back to Paducah, Kentucky (about 30 miles the wrong way) and a place there would probably have it.

We decided to instead just drive on toward our next destination on what we had (no spare available) and count on roadside assistance if we needed it. Malcolm looked up several RV dealers near our next destination to call once we got there. We packed up and headed out.

We arrived at our destination in Odessa, Missouri without incident and set the trailer up around 3:15 PM.

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Malcolm called the first RV dealer on his list and they indicated that a nearby tire store, OK Tire, almost always carries rims of all types so they always send people there, instead. Malcolm called OK Tire and sure enough they had a rim in stock. They even said if we brought our current tire and wheel over that they could swap the tire to the new rim for us right away. Malcolm headed down the road to the tire store.

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Once there, they jumped right in and started working. 15 minutes later, Malcolm was driving away with a new rim with our tire mounted on it. All for $63 (rim, mounting charge and metal valve stem).

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Now we’ll have a working spare in case we need it along the rest of our trip west. Once we’re settled out in Washington state, we’ll decide how to proceed with wheels. We should be able to get the aluminum rim replaced under warranty, but how many more times will we possibly have to go through this?

 

Adventures in RVing

July 7 to 8, 2019 – Shawnee Forest Campground, Vienna, Illinois

We got up early this morning to hook up the RV and head on up the road to our next stop in Illinois. It was a 460 mile trip, so we wanted to get going as soon as we could.

We were out getting things ready to go around 7:00 AM when Malcolm turned on the tire pressure monitor system as part of his routine. It started beeping about low pressure, supposedly on the front-left trailer tire. A quick check with a pressure gauge verified the bad news. So, our early start was delayed while Malcolm put the spare on the trailer and tossed the bad tire in the back of the truck.

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Being a Sunday, there wasn’t much we’d be able to do with the tire so we decided to go on ahead on the spare and take our chances. We made it to Illinois without any further tire issues. While inspecting the low tire, Malcolm didn’t see anything in the tread or sidewall area. It might be yet another cracked wheel (would be our third one). We’ll know when we get it checked.

The campground we are staying in is pretty nice. It is brand new (opened on Memorial Day weekend of 2019). The owner met us at the entrance and, finding out about our tire issues, offered to contact RV shops for us tomorrow if we wanted him to. We told him we’d let him know.

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The sites here are built on the side of a hill and, while generally level, are still a bit uphill and off-kilter just a bit. We see this a lot. Regardless, the utilities work and we’re not too far up in the air on the low side.

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Malcolm identified a couple local places that do tire work. He’s thinking of taking the low tire in to one of those places as soon as they open to see if they’ll at least give it a look to see what the issue is. If they can fix it right away we’ll put it back on the trailer.

Otherwise, if it turns out to be a cracked wheel, Malcolm can at least start contacting the wheel supplier for, hopefully, another wheel (if the replacements are under warranty). We’ll see. We might end up buying a steel wheel (like the spare wheel) to at least get us across the country so we have a spare tire available.

To the best of our recollection, today’s trip went through more states in one day (four) than we’ve done before (we’ll have to look back and see). We started in Alabama and traveled through Tennessee and Kentucky on the way to Illinois.

 

 

Visit With Friends in Alabama

July 4 to 7 – Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

We ended up leaving a day earlier than expected and headed north on July 4th. We drove almost 500 miles to land in our old hometown of Wetumpka, Alabama. We had one of our favorite spots reserved for us at Fort Toulouse by the staff, who also indicated we didn’t owe anything for the stay (I think we last left with a few nights prepaid from our last monthly stay).

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Our Shady Spot

On Friday the 5th, we hit a couple of the local antique and flea markets before picking up pizzas and taking them over to our friends, the Miltons, for lunch. Val helped sort out extra yarn from the prayer shawl ministry while Malcolm kept the Miltons’ grandson, Jay, entertained.

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Checking out Malcolm’s Watch

We had dinner with the Miltons (grilled chicken, etc.) and visited into the evening before heading back to the trailer for the night.

On Saturday, we headed back over to the Miltons so that Malcolm could take pictures of their grandchildren. They fed us lunch and we visited until mid-afternoon (naptimes) before heading back to the trailer.

We went to San Marcos, our favorite local Mexican restaurant, for dinner then filled up the truck with fuel, grabbed some cash from the credit union (that we still bank with) and headed back to the trailer to start packing everything down for our continuing trip on Sunday.

 

April Through June

Another long delayed update to the blog. Mostly just stuff going on around home, so we’ll summarize here.

April 8th through the 10th, we utilized our Disney Vacation Club membership to reserve a room at Copper Creek (part of Wilderness Lodge). We mainly spent a relaxing two days lounging around the pool, stopping at the outdoor lounge a couple times and making tie-dye t-shirts (a relative bargain at $16 each).

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Lounging by the pool

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Our room

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View from our balcony

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Our building

After our stay at Copper Creek, Malcolm set about doing some modifications to the entertainment center of our RV. First up was to remove the glass inserts in the upper cabinet doors and cover the door frames with vintage looking speaker material.

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Before

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After

Next up was to remove all the cabinetry below the countertop.

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Before

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After

The de-construction was to make way for a new entertainment center unit that we ordered through Wayfair. They delivered it to the trailer (in a box). The delivery guys were initially pretty skeptical about delivering a big box to an RV.

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Though we measured twice, the unit was actually wider than advertised. Fortunately, it was just narrow enough to squeeze into the empty space. Malcolm moved the stereo equipment to the middle of the cabinet. He also made a slide out shelf for the turntable.

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On April 25th, our son David came down to visit for the weekend. He also brought our two grand-kitties along.

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Maui

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Siren

Our daughter Elizabeth flew in on the morning of the 26th. We all spent the weekend at Disney World for Dapper Days. With Elizabeth primarily dressing in vintage style on a daily basis, this event was right up her alley.

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Elizabeth at Animal Kingdom (Friday Morning)

On Friday, we went to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Though it wasn’t officially Dapper Days until the next day, we pretty much dressed up in various outfits.

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Hollywood Studios (Friday afternoon)

Saturday was Dapper Day at Magic Kingdom park, we off we went for the day.

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Gift Shop Picture

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Holding the Balloons

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Brother and Sister riding the Carousel

Sunday was Dapper Day at Epcot. We all wore somewhat matching outfits.

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It was a fun weekend and was the first time the whole family got together to go to Disney World. We were especially excited that Elizabeth got to come down. She flew out Monday morning. Sunday evening was kinda sad.

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Drama Llamas

On May 2, we headed over to Epcot first thing in the morning to see the Blue Angels fly over. We took a bunch of pictures then headed back home so Malcolm could work.

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June 9th through the 15th, a friend of ours, Michael, from Pennsylvania came down with his three teenage daughters to camp out at our place. The three girls bunked in our guest house and Michael slept on a cot in our trailer. We had a great time visiting. We all went to Disney World one day of their visit. They also did a lot of local sightseeing the other days they were here. Micheal used to live in the area years ago.

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The Whole Crew at Magic Kingdom

Other than those highlights, we’ve mainly just been doing normal day to day stuff. Val’s been working on various projects. Malcolm has been working pretty regular hours for his job (29.5 hours a week to keep his part-time status).

As we post this, it is July 2nd. We’re hitting the road on the 4th for our annual trip out west to visit Elizabeth, Cole and the granddaughters (and other family) in Washington state. We’ve been preparing everything over the last couple days and will do some final pack up tomorrow before heading over to Magic Kingdom for the 4th of July fireworks (they have them on the 3rd and the 4th).

We’ll get up early on the 4th and head up the road to Alabama for our first stop. We’ll try to post a little more frequently during our trip out, our visit out there and our trip back (we should be back in Florida the last week of August).

 

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.