Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jack and Gail and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...

The last 24 hours have put me in mind of the title of a children's book by Judith Viorst,
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day so, with apologies, I am borrowing her title.

Yesterday, our second day here in Wilmington, NC started out as a good day.

I went to spend some time at Becca's and had a nice visit with her and the kids.  Played Connect Four with Jackson, and Katie made me a beautiful picture that said, "I Love You" - now proudly displayed on my wall.

Later on, I accompanied Jack to a much needed doctor's appointment to see about getting his back pain managed.  He got some new meds and a radiology appointment as well as an appointment with a pain management doc in a few days.

We were hungry when we left the doctor's office and headed over to El Cerro Grande for Mexican, the first decent Mexican food we've had in three months.  Then home to relax and watch NCIS.

I was cruising online for a while before the show started then, about 7:45, fifteen minutes before NCIS, the lights dimmed...a lot.  It was a strong brown-out and quickly became a power failure.  I unplugged our laptops and went to look for Jack, who was outside emptying tanks.  It was then that I saw smoke at our bedroom door and smelled something burning; I yelled for Jack, which got him in the house (fifth wheel) quickly.  We traced the smoke to the bedroom TV and unplugged it.  I then noticed a burning smell coming from the living room, ran to that TV and saw smoke. We got that TV unplugged and turned to the convection/microwave oven.  Jack opened the door and the turntable was going around...kind of freaky. We quickly unplugged it.  Somewhere in all this, I noticed all the lights flashing on my washer/dryer.  I  hit the off button and they stopped.

We needed help!  I got on the computer and posted a HELP! on several RV pages I frequent.  We got a lot of opinions and advice and Jack checked our power cord for a fried plug (it was okay) and did a lot of flipping circuit breakers.  We ultimately ended up unplugging the RV from shore power. A Facebook friend, who is an RV Tech, found a local number for us to call.  We left a message and got a call back from the tech.  He said to leave the RV unplugged and he would be out first thing in the morning.  We discussed going to a hotel, but it's hard to find a room that is pet friendly, so we opted to stay in the dark trailer.  We had a little power from the 12 volt battery, but it wasn't going to last long enough to run the furnace through the night...and the temps were going down into the thirties.  It was a long and very cold night.  The indoor temp in the morning was fifty-four and I turned on the furnace for a bit to try and warm things up.

The RV Tech showed up as promised.  After much inspecting, following wires, measuring amps, and flipping breakers, it was decided that the 50 amp plug on the power pole was recessed and didn't maintain a good connection, causing an interruption of power which caused something referred to as "open neutral"...and it is an appliance killer.  Got power restored to the RV, got the campground staff to look at repairing the pole and hooked up our Progressive Industries EMS Surge Protector which, ironically, had just been delivered Tuesday.  Had we had time to connect it, it might have prevented the damage...two fried flat screen TVs, a dead convection/microwave and a dead washer/dryer combo.  The power strip our laptops were plugged into died saving our laptops.

I spent the day talking with Jason, our insurance adjuster; he had a field rep come take pictures and document model numbers and will get back to me tomorrow with estimates for replacing our damaged items.  We shall see how that goes.

So, no TV, no microwave, and no washer/dryer for who knows how long but, at least we have lights and heat!

Oh...and I had to cancel my hair appointment! (lol)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Stop in Savannah...

When we left Pensacola, we visited Savannah on our way up to Wilmington.  We stopped along I-10 at A Stone's Throw Campground for an overnight enroute to Savannah.  It is right off the highway and advertises all pull thrus so one doesn't have to unhook.  We were not impressed.  sites are overgrown and it's hard to tell where each one ends.  We had a hard time finding one long enough for our forty foot fifth wheel and our F-450, but we did find one.  The office is mostly unattended. You just pick out your site and put cash in a provided envelope...$28 with Good Sam. There is traffic noise, but we expect that when we stay right off the highway and don't mind it. The campground served its purpose, but we would probably look elsewhere next time.

After we left Savannah, we stayed overnight near Dillon, South of the Border Campground. South of the Border has been there since 1950 and has grown from a gas stop to a large compound and kitschy tourist trap.  It is even listed on Roadside America's website!  I'm not sure when the campground was added, but it is ideal for an overnight - long, level pull thrus, right off the highway. There are some amenities if you want them and they offer a Good Sam discount. We would stop again.

Savannah is a beautiful city, not unlike Wilmington, NC or Charleston, SC, but with its own flavor and style. I have been there several times, but it was a first visit for Jack.  We stayed at Hardeeville RV in Hardeeville, SC.  It is about eight miles to downtown Savannah, has nice roomy, level sites and is very reasonably priced with a Good Sam discount.  It was ideal for our needs.

We only had two days in Savannah and couldn't see everything. We mostly wandered around River Street and enjoyed the views, the shops and the restaurants.  We ate on a second story deck overlooking the river at Tubby's and at Barracuda Bob's, a new restaurant, where we had awesome Fried Green Tomatoes.  Enjoyed both.

We will definitely go back for another visit as there is so much more to see!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Home Again, Home Again...

Now I really do feel like retired folks...we spent three winter months in Florida!  We had some cold weather, but no snow and no ice.  Works for me!

We really like the campground where we stayed in Pensacola.  Pensacola RV Park.  I think I wrote about it in an earlier post.  It's the first time we've left a campground and hugged the owners good bye!  We will definitely return next time we head to Florida's Panhandle.

I had a birthday just before we left.  We kept it quiet and low key.  I lazed around most of the day and then we went to dinner at the Five Sisters Blues Cafe in the historic section of Pensacola. I liked the place and dinner was good, but the service left a bit to be desired.  We're still looking around for the birthday gift I want...a camera.  I love taking pictures and want something a step up from my phone...which actually takes pretty good photos.

We had gotten tickets for Cirque de Soleil / Verekai while they were performing in Pensacola. Jack has only seen them on TV and I'd never seen them.  We looked forward to the performance for weeks...until the day finally arrived.  The show started out great...then an interruption for "technical difficulties" which lasted about ten minutes.  Another ten minutes of the performance followed by another interruption for "technical difficulties" and I started to get worried.  After the third interruption they announced that the show wouldn't go on.  What a disappointment!  Now, I'm waiting for the next credit card bill to arrive and show the ticket refund.

Another thing we did just before we left was put two new tires on the front of the truck.  Ouch! I had no idea how much tires cost for an F-450!  So we are over $800 poorer, but much safer. Necessary, but not my idea of fun shopping!  Next, an inspection and new plates.

In the meantime, we arrived in Wilmington today...with a two day stopover in Savannah on the way up. Jack's back has been bothering him more and more, so we decided to come home for a bit and visit the doctor.  A delay in our travels, but it brings the bonus of another visit with Katie and Jackson, as well as Rebecca.  A great silver lining!

Tommorow...a visit with Becca, Katie and Jackson for me and a doctor's appointment for Jack.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Battleships, a Submarine and a POW...

USS North Carolina
USS Alabama
One of the things we've done while in Pensacola is drive to Mobile, Alabama and visit the Battleship, the USS Alabama, and the Submarine, the USS Drum.

We visited the USS North Carolina in Wilmington in January (although I just realized the visit never made it into a blog post) and, to me, a battleship is a battleship, but Jack wanted to see how the two ships might differ and I'd always wanted to see a submarine, so off we went!  Jack found many differences in the battleships (please don't ask me what they were), but all I can tell you is that the signs for the self-tour were laid out much better on the North Carolina than on the Alabama.

USS Drum
Bunks above and below torpedoes

After touring the battleship we went to tour the submarine.  I knew they were compact, but this exceeded my expectations.  There were bunks packed in everywhere...even among the torpedoes...can't imagine sleeping either above or below a torpedo...and the doors between sections were so small it was hard even for my 5'3" self to get through. There were a few areas where we had to walk sideways in order to navigate through them!

Being able to see the inside of a submarine was very long as you aren't claustrophobic!

Before we left, we visited the gift shop.  I'm not much for souvenirs but I always like to look and we had the good luck to happen upon a book signing.  Former World War II POW Col. Glenn D. Frazier (Ret.) was autographing copies of his book Hell's Guest.  I bought a copy for Jack and we both thanked the Colonel for his service.  Jack finished the book in two days and really enjoyed it and I've added it to my "to read" pile.

Out With The Old, In With The New (Furniture)...

Our long-awaited furniture has finally arrived!  Our fifth wheel is only a year old but the couch and chairs that came with it were quite uncomfortable...and none too pretty.  The fifth wheel is our home and we decided we need to be able to relax on our furniture.

We sold the old furniture to the grandson of the people who own the RV Park where we are staying, but had our doubts whether or not we'd be able to get it through our twenty-eight inch door in one piece!  It was touch and go for a bit and for a while my mind was thinking chainsaw!  It took four guys to wrestle that heavy couch out the door, but they succeeded!

This is the OLD furniture.  It's not horrible looking and it was functional, but very uncomfortable and unforgiving, especially of old, aching backs!

Getting the new furniture in was easier because it was all La-Z-Boy, two rocker recliners and a recliner love seat, and the backs come off all their recliners.  We've had the furniture three days now and we love it.  I also think our living room looks so much nicer now.  For whatever it's worth, I posted photos on Facebook and got over a hundred "likes" :-)


Here we are enjoying our new furniture!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Time, Trips and Tidbits...

I can't believe it's been nine months since we went full time.  It's surprising how fast the time has gone.   The days seem to fly by, whether we do something interesting or just hang out around the 5er.  I've always heard that once you are retired this happens, but experiencing it is really strange.

The other day we went to the Naval Aviation Museum at the Pensacola Naval Air Station thinking it would take maybe an hour and a half to see everything.  Got there at around 2:00 pm and started wandering.  Lo and behold, by 4:00 pm, we had only seen about 3/4 of the exhibits and were pooped from all the walking and standing.  I couldn't believe we spent two hours at the museum and didn't see the whole thing.  It was the fastest 2 hours we've spent sightseeing since we went to the Newseum in Washington DC.

The thing that amazes me most is that while we were in Navarre, Florida for a month it seemed a bit longer than that to me.  I guess there just wasn't enough to do there but, looking back now, it doesn't feel like a month.  How weird!  Since we've been in Pensacola time has really flown by but, then again, there's a lot more to do here and things are not that far away like they were in Navarre.

We made a trip to Mobile, Alabama to visit the USS Alabama battleship and the submarine, the USS Drum, that they have on display.  The sub, which is from the second world war, was very interesting.  Since I'd never been to Mobile, I was looking forward to the trip.  It's about 40 or 50 miles from the RV park, so it was a hike, but certainly worth it.

The other thing that has been dragging out is waiting for our new La-Z Boy furniture to arrive.  That's the reason we extended our stay in Pensacola.  The furniture that came with the 5er is not the least bit comfortable and, since we live in our 5er 24/7, we might as well be happy with our interior surroundings, right?  The furniture's supposed to arrive around the first week in April, if all goes well.  The people that own the RV park have said they'll work with us if we need extra time; that's so wonderful of them, they're such nice folks.  It seems we've been waiting for 6 months instead of about 6 weeks.  Another incidence of time passing slowly yet, in some respects, fast.

Before the furniture arrives we have to figure out how to get our couch and two recliners out through the 28 inch door so we can bring in the new.  As I'm writing this, I found out that our new furniture will arrive Wednesday 2 April.  We got lucky and found someone here at the RV park that wants the old stuff and will come get it Tuesday evening.  Things couldn't be better.  Did I mention that the folks at the park are going to help us remove the couch and recliners?  These folks are quite super!

Once the furniture issue is settled, we will be heading north to North Carolina and doctor visits to see what we can do about my back troubles.  Which way we go north depends on whether an old California friend of mine is still living in Jacksonville, Florida.  The last time I was in contact with Al Follette was about four years ago and he was in bad health.  I lost his phone number and have not heard from him since.  If he is there, and well enough for a visit, we will spend a day or two in Jacksonville.  If he is no longer around or is too ill to visit, then our trip north may take another direction.  I do hope he is not in ill health and able to visit with us.

Anyway, time is moving along and so are we.  It will be great to see Gail's daughter and her family again.  Not looking forward to the medical side of our visit but whatever happens, happens....Jack