Connection

I am about to tell you a story about almost a whole day I will never get back:

It all started with a move from one small town to an RV park in a big city. We requested moving our Internet/WIFI service as well as Direct TV…you see…we wanted to keep the “bundled” rate.

We originally moved to a small site in our park while having our eyes on a larger, corner site. Low and behold…the larger site became available. I called and put the Internet installation on hold until we were settled in our permanent space. They were going to charge $99 and we didn’t want to have to pay that twice. Smart right? Mind you…we had already set up the installation in the original space and the service was available. All was well. Not really, but stay with me because there will be a solution that may help you in the future.

As our move date got closer, I received a letter stating I had better send back all of our equipment by a certain date to avoid a hefty charge. But wait! I never cancelled our service, remember? I put it on hold until we moved again (3 spaces down). Here is where the trouble started:

I called the phone company to reschedule our installation. Hold please. No really…hold…my business is important to them. Tick…tick…tick…as the hour goes by. FINALLY, a real person with an accent answers. He informs me the new space does not have service. WHAT? The site we were in was 50 feet away, yet had service. Hold please. “No – I’m sorry, you can be right across the street and not have service”, he said. So my question was, “how do I get service?”. He said, “a survey” will have to be done. “How long will that take?” No answer…more runaround. The more he “apologized” and avoided answering my questions, apparently not listed on his script, the more agitated I became.
Three hours later…I began multi-tasking. We had errands to run. So now we are at Sam’s Club…I have been on the phone this whole time without a break. I have asked to speak to the department manager – after being transferred three times and beating a dead horse. I finally gave up and hung up exasperated with the manager who would not answer my questions either.

I think the cashier at Sam’s Club could see it all over my face. How typical that my feelings were written all over my forehead. Knowing that, I asked her, “Have you ever spent almost four hours on the phone with a phone company without a resolution?” She said, “Yes, you should just go to the store. Make them make the calls for you. They have to help you there”. We did a high five, she looked at the big smile on my face, I told her co-worker she needed a raise for the best customer service ever, and we drove straight to the store. Why didn’t I think of that myself? This is why I’m sharing with you!

So little Kia, at the store, hooked us up. We have Internet and WIFI today and Direct TV is coming tomorrow. We have saved big bucks on a new bundled rate for all of our services. Oh and by the way, I have to tell you, Kia looked at me like I was crazy when I was telling her about how the whole thing started. I’m sure I was pretty animated, but I assured her I wasn’t taking it out on her. I only wanted her to know exactly what I had been through before standing in front of her. Then she called Direct TV to arrange transferring our service and installation. Poor thing. She got a taste of my angst with the “WORST customer service person ever” (Kia’s words). BTW – both services are owned by the same company. The lady was actually rude and lied to her own co-worker. This drove home the fact that I was not exaggerating about my day! See how this came full circle?

The moral of the story is…forget customer service via phone. Go straight to the source – in this case the store. If the company wants your business, they will help you when they see you are a real person. It would have saved me over four hours including the time I spent at the store.

SHEESH!

Staying Connected

How do you stay connected while on the go?

I sure don’t know everything about technology – mostly enough to get into trouble.  I originally hoped this blog would also be a learning tool for us as well as a vehicle to share with our followers. We would love to receive contributions from fellow travelers! Participation and brain storming are great tools, but how do we make it happen?

I believe the most difficult question is: What is the best way to stay connected on the road? The answer keeps changing with the times.  Technology and the digital world evolve way faster than we do! More and more people are buying RV’s and working remotely, but how? What equipment is being used?  What services?

I have researched this subject TO DEATH.  I found some great information…until learning the article was written in 2014. So here’s what I want to know:

What do you use for Internet service? Cell service?  WIFI? TV reception? Do you use power boosters? Tell me how you work on the road.  What is the best setup?

 

 

 

 

Uh…yeah…The Instant Pot

So…I couldn’t wait to get my new Instant Pot. I figured it would be a great replacement for the old crock pot, rice cooker, steamer and a pressure cooker I was never inclined to buy. Actually, the thought of using one was terrifying.  You see…my grandmother and her sister-in-law blew up tamales all over the kitchen once.  So my grandma never made them again and died with her tamale recipe. This could never happen to me if I never used a pressure cooker. End of story.

The above story probably happened over 50 years ago.  Surely technology and safety have both come a long way since then. The fact that the Instant Pot had pressure cooking as an option was not a deal breaker either way.  I have always made good use out of a crock pot – even made an outstanding lasagna in one more than once.  The rice cooker I had to let go had seen better days as well.  I might walk through some fear if by some slim chance I learned how to use the scary feature on this new gadget.

So I dove in.  Sink or swim my grandpa used to say. Why not see what all the hype is about and why don’t we do it on Saint Patrick’s Day with a corned beef?  A corned beef that was supposed to take an hour cooking time and 20 minutes of a “natural release”. I had to look up what that meant as well as “quick release”…and “venting” and…it goes on and on.  I think my initial issue was the seal around the lid.  Now it’s getting late and Mimi’s Cafe was having a corned beef special that night.  Off we went like starving animals in search of a quick meal.

We came back home and let the new kitchen appliance slow cook all night instead. Meat was good – cabbage…not so much.  I’m not giving up, but now I’m a bit obsessed in getting it right!  By the way, there are some great You Tube videos on how to properly set up an Instant Pot.  WAY BETTER than the instruction manual. So I’m going back to the drawing board and You Tube for more information.  Then I’ll come back here when I know something!

That’s my story – that’s my plan – and I’m sticking to it!

 

 

 

 

“Home”


What does home mean? Is it where you sleep? Eat? Keep your clothes? Store your stuff? All of these have applied to my various homes. I grew up in a brand new, small, three bedroom, two bath home with an attached garage.  My first home away from home was a two bedroom, single-wide mobile home. There’s something familiar about that! Since this first sign of independence, paying my own bills and playing grown up, I have lived in apartments, condos and have owned a few homes.

Life has taken on many different forms including the places I have previously called home. Ideas of where I would finally settle have also changed.  Most of my adult life was spent within a ten mile radius of where I grew up. Leaving the area was something I had not considered until I was 38 years old. My husband and I made a huge choice and life changing decision to move 100 miles away and buy a house in a strange town. This moment was when I learned big change, although scary, could be a good thing. We were happy, successful and financially stable…for about 20 years.

Sometime in the midst of adulthood, getting our daughter raised, changing career fields a couple of times and life happening, we were making other plans.  We dreamed of retirement…someday. The thought of being old enough to enjoy the thought of not working always seemed so far in the future and untouchable. It seemed easy to dream about something that was so far away. Surely money would be less of an issue by then. We could sell our house, liquidate, buy an RV to travel and live in for the rest of our lives, and live off…wait. Live off what? Our 401K’s? Will Social Security still be available? What will healthcare be like in the future?

Then more of “life” happened.  The market tanked. Our house decreased in value. My husband lost his job and got sick temporarily. We lost our house and moved into a small apartment, closer to both of our jobs, saving around $800 in gas money.  The meaning of home had changed yet again.  Phase I of downsizing began!  Less furniture, less collectibles, less clothes…less everything.  I never expected to feel so free letting go of stuff. We were still happy…as happy as The Bickersons could be.  We are still working on that!

We have learned STUFF does not make a home. In fact, getting rid of STUFF makes a happier home – for us anyway. Enter Phase II of the downsizing. The hard part is letting go of things I’ve had all of my life. The purging is so much easier once the claw marks have made their way down them. Letting go is really not that bad, although truthfully, our daughter is now the owner of our most treasured things; i.e. an oak entertainment center made especially for us by my father-in-law.

I love our new home.  It represents everything we have worked hard for, our new life together, a dream of travel, but most of all, freedom from anything tying us down.  Our new address will be whatever we make it – geographically, physically and emotionally.

The bottom line:  We can always go back to sticks and bricks if it’s not for us after all. For now…we’ve made our bed and we’ll be lying in it until it no longer serves us!

Our 2017 Grand Design Reflection

We have a new family member!

exterior-back

floor-plan

exterior-back

After researching for months – wait – probably more like years, we have finally made a choice.  It’s funny how our wants and needs have changed over the years.  It was all about size for me at first.  I was looking at huge units with kitchen islands, king-size beds with huge wardrobes, front living rooms with enormous entertainment systems and the list goes on and on.

We have decided we want to be able to go ANYWHERE.  We want to boondock as well as fit in any campground.  Going big meant staying home. This rig has everything we need and gives us the freedom we need to see everything we have dreamed about.

Here are some interior shots:

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A few details:

8150 lbs, Hitch Weight* 1516 lbs,GVWR 10995 lbs, Length** 30′ 11″, Height 12’0″, Fresh Water Capacity 60 Gal, Grey Water Capacity 75 Gal,
Waste Water Capacity 43 Gal, Water Heater 6 (17.8 GPH Recovery)
LP Capacity 60 lbs, Furnace 35000 BTU, Fireplace 5000 BTU
R-Value (Main Floor) R-30, R-Value (Walls) R-9, R-Value (Roof) R-40
Construction Aluminum Cage, Awning Length 13′,
Std. Bed Dimensions 60″ X 80″ Queen.

Now….what shall we name her????

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We have a new look!

Check out our new digs at lostinamericarving.com

We are getting back on the horse with a new website and definitely new plans. And by the way, we got a new horse! Pictures to follow as well as some new tips we are going to share.

exterior exterior-back

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Dutch Oven Cooking

I love the idea of baking with a Lodge cast iron dutch oven.  I must admit I’m intimidated by them, though. Just the thought of cleaning the darn thing put me off. So I eased into learning everything I could about them. Have I put any research into action yet?  NO – but I have big plans.  So far I have baked potatoes and made appetizers in ours.  There were decisions to be made before beginning this “idea”.

First – what size should I get?  DO’s range from 8 inches to 24 inches. 12 inches is a good choice if you plan to feed 8 to 10 people. I chose a 10 inch because, like I said, I was easing in and we aren’t usually feeding a small army.  Why spend the extra money for a larger one if I decided not to master the art and give up anyway?

Next – all my research told me what was most important:  1). a rimmed lid. You don’t want ashes and dirt sneaking into the oven.  Most of the coals are placed on the top which must be turned consistently for even cooking by avoiding hot spots. All the pesky things you don’t want in there are dying to get in, 2). a tight-fitting lid to keep steam in and prevent burning. Finally,  3). a must – three legs to keep oven above the coals.

The brand and type is a personal preference.  I found my Lodge to be of good quality. They must know something after all these years too.

I must admit – I’m still in the testing stages, but I have to tell you –  I am looking forward to getting really good at it.  I even found a way to make the process less scary:41ulpnlrklDutch Oven Liners

Click on the above link to check them out.  They are inexpensive enough to be so worth it.

The below chart makes it so easy to see how much charcoal is needed for your recipe. It works, as long as you turn the lid every 15 minutes.  If you’re sitting around doing nothing anyway, it’s not a big deal – kinda ceremonial and feels like camping to me. Sure I could throw some potatoes in the oven, but what if propane is running low, or what if I don’t want to affect the temperature in the RV?

dutch-oven-temp-chart

This whole blog post is actually putting in black and white what I want to master. I’ll be posting recipes later on, but for now, my husband is aware of what’s ahead. He thinks our oven has become a heavy, useless tool sucking up valuable storage space. I’ll show him! HA!

Feel free to share some of your tips and recipes here.  I’d love to see them!

 

 

Do you decorate your RV for Christmas?

We can only dream of having Christmas on the road yet.  So I would like some participation from all of you RV enthusiasts!  I could have stolen – AHEM – borrowed so many pictures of interior and exterior shots of holiday designs, but I thought it would be more fun to see yours. There are some great, festive ideas out there.  Will you please share yours?

I have found some RV decorations useful for us now since we have already sized down (Phase I) for retirement. We already live in a smaller space with very little storage.  I can never figure out how to display our Christmas cards. The picture below is one of the ideas I can use now AND later:

card-holders

image source: tipjunkie.com

We have already downsized our Christmas tree as well. Hubby already knows it will be coming on the road with us!

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Our tree this year (4 ft. tall)

This little tree will look perfect in the following scenario:

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image source: pinenearpark.blogspot.com

I can’t wait to decorate like this. But while I’m dreaming, this is what I’d like the outside to look like (I wish I had designed it):

palm-trees-and-flamingos

image source: calamresortsblog.com

Our RV is different – and the one we will choose to go on the road with will be different as well, but that part doesn’t matter.  I just think this festive look will be great when we become “Snowbirds”!  We plan to be in warm weather when it’s cold in California. My husband will probably hate it, but I think it fits our personalities just fine.

SO LET’S SEE WHAT YOU GOT!!! Ready…Set…Go!  Please like and share and visit our blog.

Merry Christmas!

A winter adventure I’d love to have…

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December Writing Prompts

December 3, 2016

Write about a winter adventure you would love to have…

My mother always wanted to take Michelle and me on a winter train ride to Reno.  She talked about it every year, but never felt well enough to make the trip.  I remember thinking a holiday train excursion sounded magical; especially a scenic trip through the Sierra Nevada.  Certainly, the Christmas spirit would be in the air as well as beautiful photo opportunities.  I wanted to take this trip with MyChelle as one of our mother and daughter times, but we never got around to it. I don’t even know if I have ever mentioned it to her either.

Now everything has changed – for the better I might add. Reno, Nevada is not one of my favorite places.  I’d like to take my mother’s wish a step further, or carry it out in a different way at least.  How can I not take my grandchildren on the journey of THE POLAR EXPRESS?  I can’t imagine anything more festive.  Even my favorite actor, Tom Hanks, played six different roles in the 2004 film based on a children’s book.

The magical train ride to the “North Pole” is only an hour long.  I suppose one would have to see the movie before understanding the meaning behind it.  I’d like to be there to enjoy the story with our little LauraSue. The event comes complete with hot chocolate, cookies and characters from the movie riding along with passengers.  Santa Claus even shows up on board giving each passenger a silver sleigh bell as the “first gift of Christmas”.

The train departs and ends at the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.  Holiday songs are sung by all on the way back to the station where photos can also be taken with Santa Claus.  Tickets sell out fast every year – it’s quite a popular event.  This year would have been too early for our six month old, but it’s on my bucket list when she’s old enough to appreciate the whole celebration.

I can’t WAIT!!!

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