Friday, February 27, 2015

50 Shades of Grey/Update on the Duchess

Connie and I "finally" went on our Valentine's Day date this afternoon. With Valentine's Day being on a Saturday, we decided not to venture out with the crowds that day. So today we went to an actual movie house at one of the local Alamo Draft House Movie Theaters and saw 50 Shades of Grey. Now that we are retired we can go see a movie in the middle of the day during the week. Connie had listen to the audio book and wanted to see how they adapted the book into a movie. She thought the screen writers did a good job on the writing and enjoyed the movie. I managed to stay awake for the entire movie (which is usually hard for me) and thought it was OK. I'm not sure how the S&M adds to the usual boy meets girl, boy gets girl and then boy looses girl. Only this movie ends without the boy getting the girl back. So, I'm sure there are setting all of us for the sequel.

The Duchess has been in the shop for the last two weeks. We kept getting a warning light that the transmission needed to be checked. The shop where we took the motor home to called today and said that after extensive testing (including changing out the transmission fluid & filters), the warning light for the transmission is still coming on once the transmission warms up. They are recommending that the dealer we bought it from replace the transmission since the error codes the computer reads on the transmission indicate there is damage within the unit itself. I not sure if we will be able to do this here in Austin or if we will have to take the unit back to the dealer we purchased it from. We should know something early next week. One of the "bumps in the road" in our journey.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting the Jeep Ready

About 18 months ago we purchased a 2002 Jeep Liberty that we will pull behind our motor home. We looked at all of the vehicles that could be towed "4 wheels down" and narrowed the list down to Jeeps and the Honda CRV. We liked the Jeep because you sit a little bit higher and you do not have to disconnect a fuse like you do in the CRV when you have it attached to the motor home. We ran across this Jeep Liberty on Craigslist and decided to buy it. The Jeep was taken to a local shop where a base plate was installed to match the tow bar we purchased to connect the Jeep to the motor home. We also purchased a Blue OX Brake Buddy system to be used when the Jeep is connected to the motor home for assistance in stopping the Jeep and saving wear and tear on the tow bar.

Last week when had new tires installed on the Jeep and today I took it to have the front end aligned. I also ordered a bike rack that attaches to the spare tire on the back of the Jeep and holds both of our mountain bikes. We are looking for a cover that would keep the bikes out of the weather when we are traveling.

One more item (the Jeep) that we can check off from our list of stuff we need to accomplish before starting the great adventure.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cold here in Austin/Scanning Photos

Today when we woke up the temperature outside was 29 degrees. I know most of the country is suffering under much worse conditions, but we don't like freezing temperatures here in Central Texas. When Connie and I were going to our yoga class this morning there was a 10 car accident on the way due to some ice on one of the overpasses. The normal 20 minute commute to the gym took almost an hour.

We are trying to scan a number of our photos into computer files so that we will have access to them on the road, but not have to carry them around with us. Connie and I both inherited a number of photo albums from our parents, so it is a challenge to go through all of them and decide which photos we will scan into computer files. After looking through the photos, there is no need to scan 50 photos of a distant relative. I spent the afternoon reviewing several albums and tried to pick out some representative photos from each set. Once we finish with all of our scanning, we will give all of the photos to relatives (if they want them). We are using a Canon printer/scanner/copier to scan the photos in. It does a good job of scanning, but since each photo has to be placed on the flatbed scanner and then processed, it takes a long time. We will save any editing for a later date.

From the time Connie and I married in 2003, we have always had digital cameras so all of photos we have taken are already in digital format. The last few years most of the photos had been taken by our digital cellphones. We are still trying to decide where to backup the photos on the cloud in case one of our hard drives fails us.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How we ended up with The Duchess

Both of our parents have owned motor homes. Connie's parents owned two different motor homes after they retired. One was an Itasca model and the other was a Pace Arrow. They used their motor homes to make extended trips during the summers to escape the Texas heat along with shorter trips to places like the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Both of their motor homes were gas powered models. They had their motor homes for about 15 years before they decided that they were "too old" to continue to drive them.
Connie's Dad with Itasca and toad
My parents owned a series of motor homes. They started out with a Class C motor home and then purchased their first Class A MH, an Airstream Land Yacht. After owning the Airstream for a few years, they traded it in on a 36 foot Foretravel. A couple of years later, they moved up to a 2003 Foretravel U295 that is 40 foot long and has one slide. Soon after they had purchased the 40 foot Foretravel, they sold their house and moved into the motor home on a full time basis. They spent a lot of their time working with a church associated group called "The Sojourners" as well as traveling around the USA. My mother passed away a couple of years ago and my dad continues to live in the motor home.
2003 Foretravel U295
Connie and I purchased a small 5th wheel trailer in 2011. It was a 30 foot Jayco Eagle SuperLite that we pulled behind a Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck.  Our neighbors, Frank and Connie Mays, owned a Rockwood 5th wheel and we liked the size and how it pulled behind their truck. We took several trips with them before Frank retired. It worked well for us during these short trips. However, we learned quickly in the Texas summers we needed more than the one air conditioner that The Eagle was equipped with.
Jayco Eagle SuperLite 5th Wheel
After owning the 5th wheel for 2 years, we were started looking for a Class A motor home. We were able to sell the 5th wheel and located a 2004 Newmar Kountry Star gas powered motor home that was 37 foot long and had two slides. We purchased the Kountry Star from a couple in Georgetown (a few miles north of Austin) in August 2013. It was after this purchase that Connie and I started seriously considering becoming full-time RVer's. We took a number of trips in the Kountry Star although the longest time we were gone from home was 10 days. My job did not allow me to be gone for extended periods of time, so we took a lot of 4 to 7 days trips. 
2004 Newmar Kountry Star
Once we made the decision to become full-timers, we decided that we would like to have a larger MH. There were several features that were on our wish list: (1) washer/dryer, (2) four slides, (3) king size bed, (4) pantry in kitchen plus larger work surface in kitchen, and (5) something with more storage. We also decided that a diesel pusher would be better for us than a gas powered MH. We looked at a number of MH, but kept coming back to the Newmar products. When we came across The Duchess, she fit almost all of the items on our wish list (there is always something you have to give up when you only have 450 square feet). Hopefully, The Duchess will be with us for a long time.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

First Post in our Blog:

Hello everyone. This is our first post in the blog we are starting to chronicle our travels across the USA and Canada in our 2008 Newmar Dutch Star motor home. We purchased the "new to us" motor home from a dealer in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area during the first week in February 2015. Since we have met a number of people who have named their RV, we have decided to call ours "The Duchess". Not all that original, but it seems to work for us. The Duchess is 43 foot long with 4 slides.

Connie and I are retired. Mike's last day at work was January 31st. Our home sold quickly in December 2014 thanks to a hot real estate market in Austin. We spent some time living with friends and then started house/dog sitting from mid-February until late March. We will be moving into The Duchess on a full time basis around April 1st. In future posts we will discuss the process we have gone through to make the decision to become full-time RVer's and also talk about our experiences in going through the down-sizing from a 2,400 square foot home to a 450 square foot motor home. Hopefully we will be able to post to this blog on a regular basis. We have been following a number of people who full-time in the RV's through their blogs during the last few years and have learned a lot from their postings.