12.27.2011

on christmas day in the morning

So I was fortunate enough to combine hanging out with a friend and a hike into the same morning. We picked my favorite place, the Holy Jim Trail near Trabuco Canyon, CA. I used to hike it every other weekend when I lived here and really missed it a lot after I left. They (sorta) named it after a man called Jim Smith who went by the nickname "Cussin Jim". He lived there in the late 1800's and was a beekeeper. The trail was officially named "Holy Jim" instead of "Cussin Jim" when it came time to list the place on a map. I guess they did that so it wouldn't offend anyone. I'm also guessing that Jim's original nickname was presumably because he did just that whenever he was stung by the bees he kept. That's my educated guess since the history on it is scarce. I digress.

This was just what we all needed given how much we were eating over this last week. My schedule has been a continuous parade of work, spending time with family, spending time with friends, and sharing meals with them all. Funny how things change while you're away because I saw minor improvements and tweaks along the way in. In summation, it was a beautiful day lined with good company and conversation. And now it's picture time ...

Bridgette
Leader of the Lewis and Bark Expedition

This took hours to cross.
Mostly because it was scary to me.
Strangers in a strange land.
We were frightened, very frightened. No really!
In the end, this is what we chased.

12.22.2011

catching up

I'm a bit late addressing some of these items but wanted to touch on each of them still. I'm spending this Xmas with my family in California and even though I'm still working (remotely) I've got more time to get a lot of these loose ends tied up.

[Happy Anniversary]
I created the blog in Oct 2010. Unfortunately it took me about a month to figure out and get to posting the opener. If you happen to go back and read it .... Yeah I know, I can't believe that took me a whole month to come up with that. Good thing I've been able to come up with slightly more interesting posts since then and even be kind of funny in writing. Friends say I'm much more entertaining in person.

[The Great Purge of 2010]
It was this time last year when I finally got around to reducing 16 moving boxes of stuff down to 3 (that will go into storage when I hit the road). I'd thought that there was going to be another great purge in 2011 but am happy to report that (over the last year) I have done a great job in not adding a single item. The only things I did find that needed to go were some clothes. 

[Significant Other]
I really wrestled with this one last year. I think the thing that made it so hard is that I was kind of missing the things a relationship can bring you. It'd already been about 4 years past a pretty bad breakup I'd gone through. I avoided it during that period and thought I was ready again with everything else in my life getting back on track last year. I examined things and decided against pursuing anything with anyone. That was until I met a girl a little into the new year. Even though parts of me (guess which ones - tee hee) were willing to pursue her my heart wasn't into it and we only ever remained friends. That tested my resolve but I'm glad to say that that, and time have shown me that I'd made the right decision. It's not that I don't ever want a relationship again. I really do. I reevaluated my decision about not dating at all when I hit the road and decided to open myself to the possibility at that time. To Mrs right, I really hope you're out there and will be ready then. I'm a little bit tired of waking up to find myself spooning beagle. Don't get me wrong because I love her to death and she me. It's just not the same.

12.21.2011

why are you doing this - leftovers

What's the matter, cat got your tongue?

When I wrote about this last June I thought I covered things fairly well. I didn't. I realized I left out a sub-group of friends whom I've nicknamed "The Silence". These are the people who listen quietly and say nothing. When pressed, more often than not, their opinion is not a favorable one. At other times they simply don't have an opinion, but this is the exception rather than the rule. The unfavorable opinion spectrum runs from general concern to an immediate and condescending change of opinion about you and the lifestyle change. I have a handful of friends who fell into this category. I understand the wisdom of saying nothing when you have nothing good to say. This makes sense if you don't know the person and it's none of your business but it's absolute rubbish when it comes to friends. Positive or negative, something you say might be a missing piece of info they'll need.

Why wouldn't you where a friend is concerned?

Ok this part was added after the fact. I felt I had a bit more to say when I read what I'd written this morning. I realize this is just a me thing, but it irks me so I'm getting it off my chest. I've had a few occasions where the mere mention (direct or indirect) about my plans results in "the silence". I guess this is one of those times in life where I'm learning who my real friends are versus the fairweather friends.

12.20.2011

the slabs

On my way to see family for Xmas in CA I had an opportunity to visit a friend this weekend. I've been anxious to see the place ever since I'd first read about it. There's plenty of material about the place so I'm covering just what I saw and experienced there. The drive in takes you through the sleepy farming town of Niland. The place looks like the great depression arrived eighty years ago and never left. There's a two lane mile long stretch of desert road which separates the town from it. The first thing telling you you're going the right way is an old decoratively painted concrete guard shack. A little after that you see Salvation Mountain, and then you finally see the Slabs. Parts of it was kind of like being in a third world slum or shanty town. It's one thing to see pictures or video but nothing comes close to experiencing it in person. I arrived about an hour before the sun set so I didn't get to see much until the next day. My friend and I spent the time getting caught up over dinner, and then had freaky nasty sex to marching band music. I'm kidding and just making sure you're still with me. After dinner she took me to "The Range" where there was live music and the best mix of people from all walks of life having a good time. It's located at the slabs and is an open air stage where anyone can go up and perform. Even stray dogs are allowed up there. I meant to take more pictures but kind of forgot to on account of the great time I had that night. Even despite an allergy attack. In the morning I toured the place while my friend gave me the low down on the place and it's politics. We went to the Oasis where most of the camp was having breakfast already. It's basically a donation only restaurant from what I'm told. This is how they get around having to get a business license and have to deal with the health department. I got to talking with a few people about what brought them there and how they manage. All I'm going to say is that there are some who have great pensions and others who have brilliantly worked the system to their advantage. It really is such a unique and complex place that defies any conventional definition. I realize that description is kind of a cop out, but I'm pretty sure anyone whose been there would agree with me. I spent one night and half a day there, but it is a place I plan to go back to and stay a while.




12.08.2011

a new career path?

This has been a subject that's been on my mind since I moved away from CA almost 4 years ago. It took me a little over a year for me to figure out what I wanted to do. I simply haven't figured how I want to make a living at it yet. The what is working with or helping animals. When this was first realized I toyed with the idea of becoming a vet tech, but was dismissed a year later. Since then I've been in a bit of a quandary as to how. The reason being is that the work traditionally anchors you someplace. Yes there are mobile alternatives but the work often dictates where you go. I'm hoping to find something where I can retain the freedom of choice to go where I want to when I want to while still finding employment there. Within reason of course. Since I still haven't figured it out I've decided that I when I start this life I will then volunteer at animal sanctuaries in my travel paths. This should help me see my way clear.

I hope.

11.30.2011

keeping my nose to the grindstone

Work has been keeping me busy lately, hence the lack of posts. Things are supposed to slow down soon so time will be on my side again. Since my trip to NM I've had nothing but time to think and think I have. Most of it has been devoted towards figuring out a new career since I've had little resources for anything else. I'll cover this in my next post in better detail.

This was a bonus check month as well as a milestone in my debt relief. I payed off a consolidation loan this month which was taken out in January. Now is when that snowball starts rolling faster towards debt freedom. I do have one last hurdle in that I'm hoping I'll be approved for a credit union credit card so that I can balance transfer debt from a bank credit card. Right now, even though I'm paying $100 over the minimum monthly due, I'm being hit by a finance charge which wipes that clean. I'm through with major banks and am moving all my accounts to the credit unions I belong to before the end of next year. Regardless of how that turns out I'll be paying off 3 major loans in the next 6 months and freeing up over a third of my income.

11.23.2011

happy birthday sweetie paws

11 weeks old
My little baby girl, Bridgette, turns 7 tomorrow and officially becomes a senior citizen. I really don't have the words to describe what she means to me and leave it to those of you who have or had a pet that meant the world to you. That being said I look forward to sharing my life with her for another 7 or more years. If you haven't picked up on it already. My beagle, one of the notorious gluttons of the canine world, was born on Thanksgiving day. Yes, she's gonna have a turkey dinner with all the trimmings too!

10.22.2011

City of Rocks: Part II

Saturday afternoon is when things warmed back up. Brian had told me about a little town north of Silver City that had a great restaurant bar. He'd said that it was in an old adobe building that's stood since the mid 1800's. Being into the old west and a foodie I was dying to see the place. If you ever go remember that the place is easy to miss the way the streets and signs are laid out, and to make a right turn when you see the adobe wall.. The first place we went into was the museum/gift shop. I was amazed that the building has managed to stay up all this time from what I saw outside. When you walked inside the first thing I saw was an old iron stove that was keeping the place nice and toasty. The place was packed with books, blankets, rugs, baskets, and other assorted Indian trinkets. 

Somehow I don't think it's up to code

Exhibits

Some things never change
We did the tourist thing and I got a real indian made blanket for only $20. The tag even said "Made in India"!  Robi purchased a pair of decorative Indian wall rugs, and Susan a tiny bag. Their stuff was only Indian'ish because the tags said "Made in Pakistan". We stashed our uber ethnic quarry in the truck and went straight over to the Buckhorn to celebrate.

The Buckhorn Saloon
We only had a few drinks at the bar and some appetizers, but they were all great. Even though we didn't stay for dinner I can tell you that what they were preparing for that night smelled incredible. Especially the BBQ they were carrying in from outside. I wish I could show you what the place looked like inside, but the pics I took didn't come out. I blame all it on the booze. 

Robi & Susan

I'm not all there, see?
Ok so I only had two beers. I have no real excuse other than I was on vacation. I was having fun is what counts! The girls met and talked to the proprietor/head chef of the place and he had told us to check out the Opera house next door when we had a chance. There was even a connecting passage between them, but I still went in through the front doors.

Pinos Altos Opera House
 
The stage where I recreated the ending scene
from Gunga Din to honor the local tribes.
I really wished we had stayed that night because they do dinner shows there every Saturday. I really would've loved to try out their BBQ. No worries since that's all the more reason to go back. The street is short so there was only two more buildings to see. One was a corner store that was closed and the other a cabin that may have been lived in by Judge Roy Bean according to the plaque outside. The sun was starting to set so we headed back to camp for some bean soup, wine, convo, while huddled around the fire pit. That next day Susan departed for her next destination. We exchanged hugs and said our goodbyes. 

View of the road from the visitors center
The park was quiet and peaceful again now that a lot of the weekend campers left. I took advantage by exploring parts of the park I hadn't yet seen and checked out the visitors center one last time. That night I had a nice dinner and convo by campfire with Robi and the dogs. We decided to leave a night early and spend the night at an RV park in Deming. The park lacks a dumping station and Robi needed to get her rig looked at. The bonus for me was in getting a chance to check out the Low-Hi RV Ranch. I'd first read about it in a blog, and then suggested the place to Robi as a pit stop before City of Rocks. She stayed there the week prior and confirmed that the people and place were both great. If you've never heard of them before you should check them out as they have chapters all over the US. Since we arrived on a Monday dinner was provided by the park patrons being that it was pot luck night. I got the chance to meet with a lot of great people who were full of great information about this lifestyle. 

What really did it for me was the stories many of them had to tell about their lives. My stay there was too short and it really pained me to have to leave without a chance of getting to know everyone better before I had to leave. A lot of the old timers repeatedly asked me if I would be joining them in the future and how they needed new blood in the club. This brings me to what I hinted at in part I.

The beagle had a hard time deciding where to pee

When I arrived at the park 5 days prior. I was simply excited to be out on the road and in the great outdoors again. It was during my first day there that I was struck with a pang of doubt about full timing. Is this really what I want?  Can I really make this work? Do you really want to give up your old life? These were the kinds of thoughts that plagued me that first day. It's funny how I can get so caught up in all the preparation and then still manage to feel this way when I'm about to live in my rig for 6 days. Then I realized I'd become comfortable in the 9-5 job/apt lifestyle again. This was all about comfort zones, and I wasn't in mine any longer. This is a new life I'm learning to live and it's going to be uncomfortable at first. This vacation was also about working the kinks out and learning new ways of doing things. These epiphanies got me back on track and cleared away any doubts I had. They never returned and I feel much more confidant about it all. 

My truck and rig at Low-Hi RV Ranch

10.15.2011

City of Rocks: Part I

This was a great trip where so many things were learned and experienced in too short a time for me. The best part were the epiphanies which helped me to see my way clear again, but I'll get to that later in Part II.

The drive out was long and uneventful, but it was great just being out on the road again. I arrived close to 9pm and was greeted by Robin (http://tumbleweedsandlemonade.blogspot.com/), Susan (http://minnieminerva.blogspot.com/), and Brian (http://manywheelsbrian.blogspot.com/). It was the absolute best to finally get to meet them all in person. I really enjoyed their company on this trip and look forward to doing anything with them again. First I gave them a quick tour of my rig, and then we went over to Susan's where she had made us all a tasty dinner of Au Jus. Thank you again Susan! After dinner we a had fun getting to know each other type convo until everyone dropped out to crash for the night.

The next day started out sunny and warm but got cold, gusty, and rainy by lunchtime. We did manage to get a nice hike in and met and mingled with some of the neighbors before the weather turned. We wound up back at Susan's for some more good convo before everyone retreated to their rigs for the night. The temps unexpectedly dropped to the low 30°'s. Even though I was sharing the bunk with the beagle and had extra blankets, it wasn't anywhere near warm enough and I had to use the furnace before we froze. Luckily this wound up being the worst thing that happened on the trip.

I slept in this morning and sadly learned that I missed Brian's early departure. He was having some battery issues and didn't want to risk it getting worse. I really meant to hang out with and get to know him better, but it didn't work out this trip. I really hope to sit down and swap stories with him on our next encounter.


And now for a few pictures ...

My site number and name.
All the sites are named after constellations.

Fourteenth thing I saw that morning

Bridgette geared up for a hike and yells
"Let's Goooooooooo!!!!!"

A dirt road

There were more RV people than tent campers

On our walk, Bridgette and I invented
a game called "Find Moammar Gadhafi".
She didn't find him behind the big rock :-(

A very quick tour of the inside of my rig. 

The multi-purpose room.
As you can see it took us no time to settled in.

The kitchen, bar, and tea station.

The bedroom & adjoining bathroom

10.06.2011

just can't wait to ...



I'm sitting at my desk sipping some earl grey creme tea listening to Willie Nelson's "On the road again" while going over my trip checklist. In about hour or less I'll be making my way across Texas to New Mexico for a long overdue vacation. I'm very excited because I'm going to meet up with several full timers and spend a little time with them on my trip. Two days earlier I was in overdrive and stressing because I was trying to get a few work projects done before I left. Yesterday was the same and I was planning on leaving after work to maximize my vacation time. I even started packing like a madman when I got home and realized that I should be taking some advice I'd given a friend. Rather than continue packing at my breakneck pace, then drive as far as I could before stopping someplace random to crash for the night, I slowed down and slept at home instead. The revelation hit me that if I'm really to make my future full timing life work, the first thing I have to do is to end a few bad habits from my current life. Sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day lives in this rat race that we forget the simplest of things.

I don't have to live this way!

10.02.2011

Yelp!

She hates going to the vet!
Earlier this week, the beagle and I were horsing around as we always do. Things got too rough, she yelped loudly, and this ended playtime for us. Over the next few days there was more yelping, but only when she moved in a way she didn't know that would hurt. She was normal otherwise, but I did give her a thorough body check. Nothing was broken anywhere and it wasn't a back issue. She didn't cry out in pain as I poked and prodded her. I figured it was a pulled or strained muscle and that she would self regulate her motion until she was 100% again. I had given her some k9 aspirin which helped. It wasn't until this afternoon when she came to lay down beside me on the couch and let out a really loud one that I took her to the vet. $55 later we were sent home with a weeks worth of Rimadyl and asked to return in two weeks. The vet performed pretty much the same exam and came to the same conclusion I did. She suffered some tissue damage, but the main difference is that he's licensed to prescribe the good stuff. My little girl is feeling much better and recreating a beagle version of the peyote scene from Young Guns on my couch for me.

9.28.2011

catching up

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been feeling uninspired to write lately and the lack of movement where the trailer upgrades are concerned hasn't helped matters. I blame it on the 100° plus weather we're having here in Texas. Thankfully that's all coming to a close and I've got a few things to talk about again.


Yesterday I ordered a new kind of LP tank to replace the one that was stolen. This one won't be stored with the trailer for obvious reasons, but I have a few new ones to add now. I paid $99 for it. It's superior to the steel LP tanks in a couple of ways in that it won't rust, weighs less, and is see-thru! It's due to arrive in another day or two and I look forward to breaking it in this weekend.

I bought a new screen to replace the one over my heat exhaust ports on the trailer. The springs they use to hold them in place last about a year before they give out. I'm thinking now that maybe I shouldn't have and instead made something to replace the springs. I know I can always return it, but I hate back and forth travel for anything more than food.

One of the things that happened recently was losing a hard drive in my laptop. I replaced the hard drive but had to order recovery discs to re-image it. I procrastinated and bought a netbook to use in it's stead. When I finally got around to ordering/receiving them, the discs were damaged. ASUS was kind enough to overnight a new set to me which will arrive today. I'm hoping these will work and I can get my old laptop back up in time for the trip. The netbook, although very handy, is too small and murder on my eyes. Getting old sucks this way and I know I'll break it in half if I have to use it much longer.


Next week I have a trip to New Mexico where I'll get a chance to meet a few full timers in person. I'm very much looking forward to the trip and meeting some of my fellow bloggers in person. More on this later.

9.16.2011

well this sucks

On my way home from work today I stopped by the RV storage place where my trailer is at. I usually do this mid week to check in on, and on weekends to work on or wash. The last time was Tuesday of last week, and I didn't make it out over the weekend. Some complete and total ass-hat who probably has never touched human female breast other than his mothers stole my propane tank.

MISSING
Have you seen me?
Color: White
Height: 12.5"
Weight: 20 Pounds

If you see my LP tank please report it's whereabouts back to me ASAP. If the thief tries to leave with it, you have my permission to incapacitate the thief in any way necessary. And by necessary I mean pick up the tank and strike him behind the base of the skull or squarely between the legs with it.

Thanks
Steve 

9.01.2011

narrow escape

My sister texted me that they were being released late yesterday afternoon. Shortly after that I received a phone call. Turns out he didn't have pneumonia after all, but it was a severe case of asthma. This is what she was attempting to explain to me via text earlier this morning but didn't get a chance to explain in full until she phoned me later. I'm glad it's not as serious as we all thought it was and is thankfully over.



8.30.2011

you are the best thing

This is what trouble really looks like.

This is my nephew Blake, and this morning I got a text from my sister saying she was taking him to the hospital. The text said that his breathing was labored and that she was up all night watching over him. After a couple of hours she texted me with an update on his condition. Turns out the lil guy has pneumonia and has to stay overnight at the hospital for observation. They began treatment immediately and started him on antibiotics. The upside to all of this is he pulled the monitor lead off his foot this morning, and has been fighting the nurses every step of the way. This has been a tense day for the family, and hope tomorrow will be better for us. Especially for lil bubba!

We're waiting to hear back on some test results this morning, and hoping the antibiotics work fast against the pneumonia. It's the waiting that's the hardest part. My sister hasn't left his side or slept much since this started and I honestly don't think I could even imagine what she's going through. I don't know how parents handle this.

8.29.2011

shelter

August is (thankfully!) almost over and we're due to get some rain this week too. I'm feeling better about my lateral promotion now that a little time has passed and I've gotten to know my new boss. Given what I've gone though in recent years, any changes in the work place make me nervous. I know that if I lost my job for any reason, I would have nothing to worry over since I'd simply start my plans sooner. It's the interruption in finances which in turn affects my plan to pay off bills that would really bother me. Things are good for now, but I will win my freedom!

I've been living vicariously thru Robi of Tumbleweeds and Lemonade since she hit the road over a month ago. She's had a bit of a rough start but is working the kinks out and starting to get the hang of things. It's been a great learning experience for us both even though I'm only doing this via phone calls w/her. I think the main thing I've taken away from her experiences is that I'm right to want to stay clear of major cities (guard shacks too). I swear that people living in large clusters are sometimes absolute dicks. Anyone living a mobile lifestyle in one knows what I mean by that. Maybe I'm just getting to be a grumpy old man, but I don't think so. I'm completely enamored with being in the desert, taking in everything around me, and (most importantly) simply slow down to enjoy it all.

8.25.2011

weekly sundries

Hi guys! I know, I've been missing in action. A lot of recent changes kept me busier than normal these last few weeks. Here's a brief run down of what's occupied me. I was moved to a new team at work (same pay unfortunately), I was ill (not fun at all), I started talking longer walks (to help lower that bad cholesterol of mine), and resumed an old online habit which is known to siphon life away (eve online - for anyone interested (no it's not porn)).

I've gotta run to work now, but there's more to follow shortly ...

8.04.2011

garbage on my mind


One of the things I wondered about was how to handle garbage in a full timing life style. I know RV parks have trash bins and can dump anywhere I travel making this a non issue. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about extended boondocking stays where there are no trash dumpsters. This got me to start thinking about how deal with garbage. The first thing I remembered was reading about how one full timer said he trashed unneeded packaging (after shopping) into the supermarket dumpsters. He also mentioned cutting out and saving any directions that hadn't yet been committed to memory so you avoid guess cooking food. It's a great starting place that helps reduce some of the bulky stuff. Over the last year I started putting into practice that and a few other ideas. My main push was to reduce the amount of trash generated. This is something I (we) take for granted growing up with weekly pick up and normally never give much thought to. I altered my grocery purchases by getting items that came in resealable bags (which are reused later) and/or items with minimal packaging. The difference was dramatic and I was no longer generating as much trash as before. Next I had to solve the issue with the smell and any bugs looking for a free meal. The last thing I want is for my trailer or truck to be overrun with flies or ants or both! For this I started reusing resealable/ziplock bags to hold discarded veggies, trimmed animal fat, and/or empty cans. As an extra precaution I tie them up in leftover cellophane market bags (double bagging it sometimes) to keep kill the smell of spoiling scraps. Also, make sure to squeeze the air out of each bag before sealing to reduce it's volume as well as smells. I've practiced this for the last year or so with great results. It now takes me two weeks to fill a 13 gallon trash bag versus 2 of them in a week. Perfection! I'm figuring the longest I'll sit anywhere before I have to restock is two weeks.

Since nature has a way of proving us wrong repeatedly I decided to put my practices to the test. I placed a full bag out on my patio to see what would happen. No bugs and better yet; the local cat and raccoon population never messed with it after sitting out for a few days. I hope this works with the coyotes, mice, squirrels, and the chipmunks in the desert. I'm not sure what I'll do in bear country and am thinking of just avoiding those areas altogether when they're not hibernating.

If anyone has any ideas that help please share them.

Steve

7.31.2011

hunting and gathering

I thought that everything I needed was all picked out, but I was wrong, Looks like I'm going to spend a little bit more money in order to save it. Food and gas are creeping back up again so I started thinking about a long term solution to reduce the costs of both.

Ruger 10/22

Something I've been meaning to do is to hunt for meat. I lucked out in that many of my coworkers are long time hunters and their experience saved me a lot of time. With their help I narrowed down my choices to the rifle above; a scope will be added to take advantage of its range. I picked jackrabbits as my prey of choice because of their high availability and are always in season. They're a great red meat substitute for beef recipes. Males weigh about 9-11 pounds with the females at 11-13 pounds.  The cost of the rifle and scope totals under $300 with the ammo at $14 for 50 rounds. The best thing is I can hunt other similar sized animals with this rifle to vary the menu. In case some of you find this disagreeable. I don't enjoy killing. I have no illusions about what I'm choosing to do and only do so for self sustenance on a limited income. Which leads me to my other money saving goal.

Honda CT110
With some of the meat covered I needed a cost saving way of gathering veggies (until I learn which desert plants are safe to eat) without having to drive my gas guzzling truck to the store. I have Brian of Many Wheels to thank for this one. I saw a picture of one on his blog and knew instantly that it was what I've been looking for all along. Before this I was torn between getting a scooter or a bicycle, but decided against the bike in the end. The exercise aspect of a bike is great but doesn't work if the nearest store is too far to get there and back in a reasonable amount of time. I'll rely on hiking and rock climbing for my exercise since I'll have more time later. I was originally looking at getting a Ruckus (Honda) or Zuma (Yamaha) but they cost too much (3k). The discovery of the CT is perfect for my needs and well within my price range. They're not made any more and only available used (around 1k average). I really love the semi vintage look and hope to find one that's slightly beat up so it'll be overlooked by any would be thieves. In the event anyone has designs of liberating my CT from me I've already got a security system in mind.

I think I'll name her Madeleine

It's been too long since my last one and I sorely miss having a german shepherd. I've wanted to expand my family for a while now but circumstances never allowed for it. The time will be right next year! What about "the beagle"??? The dogs will compliment each other well since they're both working dogs and I'll have plenty of work for them. I'm still researching this one and haven't made a final decision yet. I'm only undecided because of unknown challenges of raising a pup on the road. Still, I'm leaning very heavily towards doing it. I've got a year so we'll see how things develop.

7.23.2011

blogger comment issues

I've changed commenting from an embedded to a popup window. I don't know if this will fix the problem or not but lets hope it does. If that doesn't work you can use the "Anonymous" option (Thanks Bob for testing and showing that it works), and don't forget to sign it so I know who you are.


Steve

7.17.2011

washy washy clean?


This was probably one of the longest weeks I've had in a while. I was in a windows sysinternals training class learning more than I can possibly ever remember. I'm positive parts of my brain are liquified now. Concentrating in class was hard because there were so many things on my mind. The main one was how the class exacerbated the mistake of remaining in this career longer than I should have. I knew I wanted to change careers well before I left CA; I just hadn't figured out to what yet. My debt and later unemployment held me here longer than I'd wanted, but it did lead me to learn about full timing. I'm not complaining because it's provided me with everything I've ever wanted in life. I am saying that my priorities have shifted leaving me wanting different things now.


One year more is all I have to endure. The original plan was to leave when they ended my contract and tough it out on the road. I was expecting them to cut me loose around March, but instead they hired me. When that happened I decided to stick it out for at least 6 months to a year to pay off a few bills. The debt review (last month) made it clear that I should leave in September 2012 since most of it would be paid off by then. However that increased my time here to a year and a half. The upside to that is the bonuses my company pays out will cover the cost of a few extra luxury full timing items; with the rest going to the next egg. Sounds great, right? It is except that I'm going absolutely stir crazy now! This is where I have to thank someone who's become not only a good friend but is helping me get through this rough patch. 


I think life has a way of bringing the right people together when needed the most. About two months ago I met Robin of Tumbleweeds and Lemonade. The first message she posted screamed NOOB! I sent her a private message offering a helpful suggestion and it took off from there. It was a good thing because there was a lot that she didn't know about; my two plus years of research really benefited her. When she told me her real timetable I thought she was freaking nuts! In a good way though. Still, I'm impressed with her ability to digest all that info and pull it all together in such a short amount of time. Doubly so because of her story leading up to this. It's a good one and up to her if she ever chooses to tell it. I'm real happy (and jealous) for her because she hits the road in the following week. Way to go Robi! She wasn't the only one who benefited from this. I learned so much more in being able to geek out with her about RVs. It hasn't me hurt none to hear her say I'm doing the right thing by sticking around long enough to get the bills paid off. 


So what does the title and pictures have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing! It's something I grew up hearing my dad say after getting out of the shower. My rig was dirty so I spent a couple of hours in the hot sun washing it yesterday. Doing stuff like that always helps me zen out enough to make sense of things and sometimes brain dump it here. It made sense to call it that since this has been kind of a mental washing too.

7.13.2011

tech support

It's come to my attention that some of you are unable to post comments. I've been wondering why comments have been a little on the light side. If you're one of those who can't post please send me an email about it (from my blogger profile) and I'll do what I can to help you.

Steve

7.11.2011

area 51

No, not the secret Air Force base in Nevada that everyone knows about. This is the model name of the computer I bought 6+ years ago. The motherboard died towards the end of April, leaving me without my workhorse. I have a laptop but it's horribly under-powered for what I do. I do have plans to get an ├╝ber laptop but there's no sense in it since I won't be leaving until next year. The same goes double for my defunct PC. The next best thing was to replace the motherboard since I only need it for another year. Easy! Well, that's what I thought at the time and never expected what was to come next.

After shopping around I managed to find the exact same motherboard for $40 (including shipping) on an Amazon storefront. I ordered it on the 5-8 day shipping cycle and it arrived with a day to spare. I cracked it open only to be sorely disappointed because it clearly was used. I emailed him requesting that it be replaced with a new one or I wanted a refund. I even included my phone number so he could call me to work it out. The reply he sent was a poorly worded manic bluster where he threatened to sue me for libel and slander. This was hysterical to say the least. I contacted Amazon about it and they instructed me to open a case and also report him to their fraud department. I did both. Over the following week I received a barrage of more blustering emails from him. The thng that worked in my favor was that all emails are routed through Amazon. You get to avoid the he said/she said bullshit because neither party shares email address' directly with each other and they have a copy of every communication. In the end Amazon sided with and granted me a full refund. I had plans to ship it back (at my own cost) until a good samaritan phoned and informed me of what he did next. The clown had setup a blog raging about how both I, Amazon, and some other customer he pissed off had swindled him. Normally I wouldn't care but this jack ass posted my home address and phone number in it and all but asked people to either pay me a visit or mail me something. I contacted Amazon via phone and quickly got this escalated to their legal department to deal with. I also contacted the blog provider and got them to remove his blog for a TOS violation. Both parties dealt with him swiftly and got all my personal info removed from the public eye. Oddly enough, like Area 51 itself the (tin foil hat wearing) seller is based in Nevada as well. 

Skip ahead a month, I finally got over my gun shyness and bought another motherboard. It costed me about $60 with shipping but was worth it after what I just went through. A coworker swapped the motherboards for me on Friday. I got it home around 7pm and after a few setbacks had it in full running order. I didn't realize how much time had passed until I looked at the time and realized it was 5am. Needless to say the following morning was a late one for me. I pretty much geeked out the entire weekend on it but not before finishing the last Stargate SG1 episode that night. 

Nobody puts baby in a corner!

It feels damned good to put all of this behind me!

7.06.2011

debt redux

I recently did a mid year review of my debt status. As always there's good and bad news. The good news is that I'm down to 24K owed, and will get to keep more of the money from the sale of my land to myself. The bad news is my piece of land has not yet sold, and I'll have to keep working a while longer. That isn't really so bad since it reduces the work I'll have to do when I finally hit the road. The consolidation loan I took out in Jan will be paid off this Nov. This means that money will go to pay off the next credit card and so on until they're all gone. Worst case scenario is I keep working until my land finally sells, and given the way things have been going it doesn't look like it'll happen until next year. At least I can keep tossing bonus checks and next years tax return into my savings.

In other news I've almost finished my Stargate SG1 marathon. Just in time because a lot of my summer shows are starting up now. I've also been using this time to shop for the best prices on all the remaining RV upgrade parts I wanted. My apartment is starting to look like an RV parts shop or an episode for the next Hoarders.

6.30.2011

that's my soul up there

It started last week when I came down with a cold, and even though I went through the worst of it last weekend, it's still with me. I had a quarterly project due at work this week and the cold wasn't helping. Still, not a problem and I almost completed everything right before turn in time. Unfortunately my workload was doubled at that same moment which sent me scrambling. Because of the surprise I now had to learn and complete two additional tasks. I really didn't need the additional stress. Thankfully I was given two extra days to complete everything. Somehow I managed to finish and turn in everything on time.

A recreation of how I feel

Right now I'm on the couch sharing peanuts with my beagle after a long day. She always manages to help me find my center. Ironically it's these moments that remind me how I'm not living life so much as just existing. I used to say "there has got to be a better way" to myself often. Now I know. I'm almost there, but it does little to comfort me knowing that it's a year away. On the upside I have one day of work left and a three day weekend to look forward to.

6.23.2011

why are you doing this?

This was the first question everyone asked. I think they all have parrot DNA in them. My expectation was that everyone would try and talk me out of it. I told my little sister and closest friends first. The sister figured it out before I said a word. I love her for it and for always supporting me even when she doesn't agree. That being said her questions were more out of general curiosity than a grilling. The reactions from friends was pretty mixed with most of them being accepting in the end. My parents are alright with it. Mom figured it out also. She put up a fight and wasn't for it, but respects my decision. Mostly because she now knows I would be in Quartzsite for the winter and a 4 hour drive away from her. Dad only cares that I'm happy in whatever do. He's not gonna visit me anytime soon, but it's not a me thing so much as a lack of Chinese restaurants in the wilderness.

Explaining can be sometimes hard when you're close to someone. I had a few that were not accepting at first. Keep in mind that most people simply can't accept the idea of willingly living without a formal home. Some can be downright hostile about it. Most conversations started off with direct challenges rather than actual questions. It was usually a barrage of logistics and safety questions. The thing that helped was spending a year'ish learning all I could before I said anything. This made it possible for me to answer questions calmly and intelligently. By the end any hostility is usually diffused and they are at least understanding if not accepting.

The really cool thing I never anticipated was meeting new friends and having to explain it to them. The dynamic is a little different in that they're much nicer about it since I'm not someone close to them. This seems to make them generally more curious and accepting of it. The cool part is the ideas and suggestions exchanged with them whereas it's been Q&A with friends and family.

All in all I think I was very fortunate with how things had turned out for me in the end.

6.19.2011

i've fallen into a hole

The Chapa'ai

Not a black one so much as a worm one. Since it's been too hot outside to perform any upgrades on my trailer I'm finally catching up with Stargate SG1. All 10 seasons or 214 episodes from beginning to end. While I'm on the subject has anyone else noticed the resemblance between Apophis and Obama. I'm just saying someone should be checking the man for a worm living inside him.

6.16.2011

mind soul and zen

I've been stir crazy ever since my failed New Mexico trip. I'm dying to get out of town, even if it's only to one of the local state parks. My biggest obstacle is that it's been over 100°f every day here for the last two weeks. I hate the heat! My smaller obstacle is finding a local state park that has electric in their RV spots. If I can find one that does I can run the AC and am so going!

The changes to the diet and exercise have improved my blood pressure in a weeks time. My blood pressure at the time of the exam was 140/108. My average results today have been 123/88. Alcohol was a major contributor to my cholesterol/triglyceride spike which I'm abstaining from for the next few months. I'll retest in about 2 months. For the time being the recent positive changes in health has me at peace.

About 4 years ago I read an article about a guy who gave up money. It wasn't just money that he gave up. He gave it all up about 10 years ago and has resided in a cave somewhere near Moab Utah. I found out he maintains a blog and I've been keeping up ever since. His story has spoken to me on so many levels that it's hard for me to explain my fascination with it. I don't agree with everything he says/believes, but do appreciate his point of view. He goes by the name of Daniel Suelo. Google news him if you want to read some of his interviews. If you're really brave, roll up your sleeves and check out his blog http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/. I hope to someday meet the guy and have a nice long conversation with him.

6.10.2011

circadian rhythm interrupted

Sorry for the sporadic updates these last two weeks. I've been worried to the point of distraction and fell behind. This is what's been going on with me.

A few weeks ago there was an open registration for a free health screening where I work at. I signed up for it because they would be coming to the office to do the examination. How could I refuse a free examination while still being paid. I have had health care since being hired on in April, but not since my lay off in 2007. The four year gap without a checkup was a cause for worry, mainly because I haven't taken very good care of myself since landing in Texas. The exam was on Wednesday and consisted of taking my vitals and a little blood. My blood pressure came in at 140/108. I've read and heard how being nervous can affect those results and that was the cause. We have a test machine in office and my BP came in at 131/95 later on. They told me the results from my blood work would take a few weeks and arrive in the mail. I would get to keep worrying a little while longer. Great, Thanks!

When I lived in CA I used to hike year round. When I moved to MN I was still able to hike during the spring, summer, and fall months. When I arrived in TX I thought it would be like CA but was so incredibly wrong. The high summer temps and insect populations love affair with Chinese food made it difficult for me. I did try in the fall and spring but the bugs TX bugs are vicious. Winter has been the only time I can get out and hike safely. Alternatives like bug sprays and treadmills didn't work out due to their own complications with me. In short, I gave up. I really wished I didn't do that because what came next, probably, would have been avoided.


My phone rang as I was just driving into the office. One of the health counselors was calling me to discuss the results from my blood work. I knew this couldn't be good and makes for a shitty way to start out your day. The first thing she told me was that they were forgoing mailing my results to me and would send them via secure email. The next thing she told me was that the majority of my results in my blood work came back as normal. Ok, so far so good but where's the but? That's when she started going into finding a doctor to review my results with as soon as possible. She told me that my cholesterol levels were at 517 and triglycerides at 3570. It was at that moment that I couldn't help but notice that she sounded really cute, for a harbinger of bad news, over the phone.Yeah I know, my mind always does that when I'm stressed. She finished covering the details, said I could call her back anytime, and then hung up. My results arrived via email about an hour later. After looking over my test results, some dietary changes are in order. I had changed it a few months ago, but need to make them a bit more drastic to reverse the damage. I know it's not the end of the world but it is in my nature to not feel at ease until things are back to normal. 

My life is going to kind of suck for a while.

6.05.2011

product reviews

Kindle, not recommended to start campfires.

After I began planning to full time I knew that I would have a lot of free time to read again. Weight is a constant concern so I knew taking my collection with was out. Enter the E-reader. There are many to choose from but I immediately went with the kindle because the options offered are far superior to the competition. It's light weight, can carry several thousand books, has the longest battery life, offers many online options, and is easy to read. The only thing I dislike about it is the lack of that book feel in my hands that I'm used to. Aside from that, I've had mine since January and it has not yet disappointed me. The cost of e-books is for the most part cheaper than standard books, but the availability of free e-books is impressive.

I've named mine Samantha.

The first thing I want to say about this is that it is pure awesome! My first time using one was on a camping trip last year when a friend brought hers along. I was impressed and wanted one of my own right then and there. The cost is what kept me away at first, but REI had a sale price I couldn't refuse. Normally the Jetboil Flash retails at $99.95, but the sale price was $69.95. Ok so that's the Asian in me but in this economy I'll take every penny I can save. I digress. The speed at which these things boil water is crazy fast. I boiled 16 ounces in under 90 seconds, and 32 ounces in 150 seconds.The fuel efficiency of these is impressive as well. They make two fuel can sizes for the Jetboil, 3.5 oz ($3.99) and 8 oz ($5.99) jet fuel cans. There are after maket brands you can buy but it's not recommended and the already low cost makes it senseless. I'll skip all the applications of hot water because there are enough recipes and just add hot water processed foods out there that make getting one a slam dunk. Two additional things worth mentioning is that it comes with a built in igniter and an attachable cooking stand if you wish to use (something other than the companion cup) camping cookware instead. Get one, you will never be disappointed.

In summary if you had to choose between the two I would say get the jetboil over the kindle. However, if you can, get them both even if you have to wait a while between the two. We all need to eat to live, but reading is just as important to really live.


Steve