Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mission Accomplished

When we first purchased my cute little Bianca back in August of 2006, I made the statement that I wanted to keep her until she hit 200,000 miles.  At that time, I thought the goal was unachievable seeing as my last new car had hit 85,000 miles and was nearly falling apart! A few short years later, she hit 100,000 miles with very little maintenance required.  I then decided I wanted to see her hit 250,000 miles.  Closer to 175,000 miles, I decided she would probably last until 500,000 miles!

Front of Bianca
2007 Toyota Yaris 3D Hatchback

Back end of the cutest car ever...
As of May 28, 2014, this adorable little car hit 200,000 miles.  I have never owned a car with more than 145,000 miles on it.  She has been SO reliable and has needed next to NO maintenance.  Heck, she is still on her original clutch which is unheard of for a standard vehicle!  She survived a suicidal deer almost 2 years ago with minimal damage (considering how big the buck was!) and consistently gives me 42-45mpg!  I wish I didnt drive as much as I do, but I am glad I have the car that I've got.

Dont mind the dust... :-)  
Woot! Woot!
How many people can say they watched their car hit 200,000 miles?!?
When we hit the road full-time RVing, we would like to get a 4 door sedan so that the puppies can easily get in and out of it.  My thought is that if Bianca is still going strong at that point, we should keep her for as long as she is a reliable source of transportation!  And c' have to admit, she is so darn cute!!

Here's to another 200,000+ miles, Bianca!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our First Experience Boondocking

For our 7th Anniversary, Todd and I decided to lay low and take our first camping trip in the RV without water or electric hookups.  We found a place southwest of where we live that was FREE and was supposed to be gorgeous.

We were supposed to leave Thursday, May 1st after Todd got off of work - but we were not even close to being ready to leave.  So we pushed it back to Friday.  After a rough start to Friday and pure exhaustion, we decided to push the trip off until Saturday.  I wasnt happy about it, but it was the best thing for both of us as we werent rushed to get everything into the RV and to get on the road.  We didnt know how the RV would drive towing a vehicle, so I took the puppies and we drove in another vehicle behind the RV the whole way.  I'm glad we did!

Not a mile down the road, I noticed one of the compartments of the RV flapping in the wind.  I honked my horn and motioned for Todd to pull over.  He secured the compartment.  Phew.  We stopped to get gas and to stretch our legs about an hour and a half into our drive.  We got into our vehicles and I noticed another compartment door was open!  So, there I go beeping my horn and motioning to Todd.  We got it secured.  After some very large hills, twists and turns, we finally made it to the first campsite we felt safe parking the RV.  It was out in the open, and it was easy to set up camp for the evening.

Home Sweet Home (for a few days) 
Kids at the next campsite loved playing with Lana and Buddy.
I love this action shot.

Just so you can see how much fridge and freezer space we've
 got in the RV - it's quite a bit!

The pups insisted on following Todd to the bathroom.
After a loud night on Saturday with the campers next to us, we decided to go looking for another campsite to stay at for the remainder of our stay.  On Sunday, we took our toad (a vehicle you tow with your RV) and drove all around the campgrounds until we found a beautiful site that would be easy to pull into.  The gentleman on the site was packing up and getting ready to head out.  He had stayed for 2 1/2 weeks.  Todd and I learned quite a bit from this gentleman.  For the past 3 weeks, it was mushroom season here in Ohio!  Many of the campers have been set up hunting for morel mushrooms which sell for up to $50/lb!  We were wondering why everyone seemed to be talking about mushrooms since we arrived!  We asked the gentleman how you know where to find them and he said to look for the sycamores.  Todd and I looked at each other and asked, "What do sycamore trees look like?"  The gentleman pointed out into the distance across the lake we were overlooking and said, "The white trees!"  We learned two new things on Sunday!!

After helping the gentleman pack his stuff up to hit the road (he was elderly and had a hard time walking), we brought over the RV to park it on our home for the next several days.  The pups just LOVED having access to water all.the.time!

The new spot we chose to camp at for several evenings.

Puppies loved having access to the lake whenever they pleased.

We decided to go into town and we could see our RV spot!
Do you see the RV in between the trees?

Adorable gingerbread house for sale in McConnellsville, OH

I cant help put enjoy these old painted barns in the country!

We stopped at the Miner's Memorial: this is big Muskie - it was used to dig
coal out of the lands we are staying on.  It was enormous!

Miner's Memorial 
Todd and I decided to go try to find some morels of our own!
(with no luck whatsoever)

Resting back at the campsite.
Monday was cold and rainy.  My mom came to visit and we wanted to do some things in town only to find out the historical sites were only open on Saturdays between 10-2!  So, we drove around and enjoyed the scenery, and then came back to the campsite to enjoy lunch before mom headed home.   Later that evening, things started to get a little weird with the RV. The generator wouldnt start no matter how hard Todd tried. Our batteries were dead all of a sudden for no apparent reason.  We had a decent charge throughout our entire stay without having to run the generator.  Then, we lost all power in the RV and the generator refused to start.  Todd stayed up most of the night reading a repair manual by flashlight trying to fix the battery issue so we could have some heat (I know, we really were "roughing it" on this trip, werent we?) and for anything to work in the camper.  He finally got it fixed at who knows what time and then the carbon monoxide detector kept going off.  Talk about scary.  Todd swears it was because the batteries were so low.  So...first thing Tuesday morning, Todd got the generator up and running somehow and we did this while the batteries charged:
Todd eating breakfast while watching The Hobbit on DVD while the generator was running.

Todd mentioned wanting to go home a day early because he wanted to get the lawn mowed (which means he had to fix the lawnmower that has been out of commission for nearly 6 months!).  I agreed, and we decided to try to make the most of Tuesday after the batteries were back up and running!

We hiked a part of the Buckeye Trail.

As the puppies enjoyed running through the creeks!

When we got back to the site, the puppies dashed out to the lake for another dip in the water!
While they were there, Todd was fixing a vent fan that broke while we were camping.
The guy never gets to have a vacation! :-)

Two wet, happy pups!

I feel like I did dishes the entire trip, but when you can only fit 2 plates and 2 bowls in the dryer,
it takes a few loads to get each meal's dishes washed!
We had a great time relaxing outside watching the pups enjoy the water and had a huge bonfire for our last night camping.

By Wednesday, we realized that we slept great while camping!  We both went to bed around 10 each night and woke up around 8 each morning.  Todd NEVER sleeps in until 8!  I made breakfast while Todd started to tear down the site.  We both got our showers (again, it's such a rough life camping) and got ready to leave.  Going home was a lot less stressful, but after we stopped to fill up again (because gas was super-cheap), we left another compartment open in the RV and had to stop to close it!  You would have thunk that we'd learn our lesson the first two times...

Buddy was pretty pooped on the drive back home!
I think he needs a vacation from his vacation!
(Me too!)

We made it home safely and were talking over lunch about if we can see ourselves doing this full time.
We both agreed that we had our doubts at times on this trip, but we both agreed that we can do this and we still WANT to do this.  The RV needs some things done to it to make it handle better on the road (brakes, possibly shocks, etc.), extra batteries added to the generator and we would like to replace the carpet with waterproof flooring, but we could so live in the RV.  We both had a great time.  As Todd mentioned, this trip was more of an adventure and learning experience than any other trip we have gone on.

I know this is long winded, but that was our 5 day trip dry camping for the first time.  We are looking for places to stay in the next couple of weeks to try it again, but hopefully in Pennsylvania this time!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lucky Number 7

It is hard to believe that as of tomorrow, Todd and I will have been married 7 years.  I wish I knew where the photos from our wedding day are (we got a disc only – no prints), but I don’t.  It is very possible that I may have thrown the disc away. Oops.

They say the first year of marriage is the hardest.  This was not the case in our marriage.  The first 6 ½ years were difficult!  There has been yelling, tears, anger, frustration, and nights slept in separate bedrooms.  There were (many many) meetings with a counselor, slammed doors, denial, blame games, flying objects, appointments to view other living arrangements, threats and ultimatums.  Our marriage has not been a picture perfect marriage by a long shot. 

But we stuck it out.  It has not been ALL bad.  There were really great times thrown into those bad times.  I think it took us 6 ½ years to figure out each other’s (odd) personality traits.  We have learned that when we start to lead separate lives (he does his thing, I do my thing – only coming together to kiss each other good night and fall asleep), explosions in our marriage start to take place.  When we spend time doing things such as taking a walk with the dogs, watching a movie together, doing yard-work and planning for the future – things are a lot smoother in our marriage. 

We have the dream of full time RVing in the next year and a half, but I will admit, I am afraid that Todd will drive me absolutely bonkers!  We both have a tendency to be goofy at times.  Sometimes he is the corn-ball, and sometimes, I am beyond punny (funny puns)!  But we are committed to making this work.  Sometimes I don’t want to work any more on our marriage, but we do it anyways.  We forgive even though we don’t necessarily forget.   We have had too many good times to throw it all away over the bad ones.

As is tradition, we are going away for our anniversary this year.  This year will be our first camping trip in the RV – boondocking!  We are trying to determine if we are really cut out for a life on the road without electricity and running water.  It can barely be called “roughing it” because the RV is just gorgeous on the inside with a kitchen, bathroom, lights and two television sets!  Heck, it’s nicer than our home!

In years past, we have done the following for our anniversary trips:

Honeymoon: Alaskan Cruise (in-credible!) & Seattle, WA
1st Anniversary: GatlinburgTN
2nd Anniversary: Lancaster, PA 
3rd Anniversary:  WashingtonDC  and Chesapeake BeachMD
4th Anniversary: BeverlyWV 
5th Anniversary: Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon
6th Anniversary: Columbus, OH

I have fond memories of each of these trips as I'm sure I will have fond memories of this one.  As a counselor once told us: "Plan for tomorrow, you havent screwed that up yet!"  I love this quote, because that is all we can do.  No matter what today may  bring - we always have tomorrow to look forward to.