Monday, December 31, 2012

We Lost Our Virginia-ty

Steve's last day of work was on the 26th. We flew to Rapid City, SD on the 27th, returned on the 29th, and watched the Redskins BEAT those Cowboys on the 30th!  Wow, this retirement stuff is wearing us out.

On Thursday we flew out of Richmond, VA to Rapid City, SD via Cincinnati and Minneapolis to establish domicile in SD. While there we obtained our new SD driver's licenses, titled and registered the MH and Fit, registered to vote, and even obtained a public library card.

We were one of the last flights to arrive at approximately 11:00 pm on Thursday night.  No problems, however, as a shuttle took us efficiently to our hotel.  It was 0 degrees when we arrived. Got up early on Friday morning and took the shuttle back to the airport to rent a car for the day.

Yes, that is snow and it was way too cold for us "easterners".   You know it's cold when the rental car company leaves a note and window scraper in your front seat.

We first went to the SD DMV office.

The time from walking in the door to walking out with our new SD licenses took us a total of 15 minutes!
That would never happen in VA.  Plus our driver's license pictures were much nicer looking.

Next stop was the Rapid City courthouse complex to title and register the vehicles.  We thought we were in trouble when the clerk wanted a "physical" address for the registrations.  We had done our homework on the proper paperwork to bring with us by reading the information posted on the Americas Mailbox website. Americas Mailbox is our chosen mail forwarding service and their site is very specific to what items are needed to accomplish the things we needed to get done.  When we told the clerk that we were Fulltime RVers and selecting SD as our legal domicile state she called over her supervisor who knew exactly what we were doing.  After that everything went smoothly.  Total time to title and register both vehicles was about 30 minutes.  Again, we were amazed.

Traveled down to the other end of the courthouse building to become registered voters.  Completed an application form, showed the clerk our new driver's licenses and consumed another 5 minutes.

Next we were off to the public library.  This is certainly not a requirement for establishing legal domicile, but we just wanted to take a look at the library.

Karen with new library card in hand.
The total time to complete all of the things described above was approximately 2 1/2 hours.  We were impressed!  It was now noon, but we still hadn't visited our "home" yet at Americas Mailbox.  A short drive and we were there.

Hard to believe that 3500 people "live" here

One Brave Soul (Actually, the rig was being stored here,
but the owner was elsewhere.)

Americas Mailbox has a small FHU campground
behind there building which is actually quite handy for someone coming to the area to do what we were doing, or for touring the area.  There were many attractions we wanted to see in this area, but will need to return when it's a bit warmer.

Now on to see our new "home".

The neighbors are friendly and very quiet!

Other than the flights (which we have really come to detest through the years) the trip went well.  All of the people we met were very helpful and friendly.  The offices were much more efficiently run than those I've dealt with in Virginia.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot to speak to today's blog opening title.  (Which Karen thought up, BTW)

We returned to Richmond late Saturday night and had to get up early Saturday morning and install those new license plates to make our vehicles official.
The Honda Fit

Tiffin Phaeton

 We are now South Dakotans!




Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Last Work Day!

Well the day has finally arrived. 

After 30+ years of being a police officer for the Prince William County Police Department, December 26th was my last day.  A bit of excitement and apprehension.  The area received our first bit of snow/rain mix throughout the day and it put somewhat of a damper on my last day.

I spent the morning in court (hopefully from only the prosecution side) as I have done many, many times throughout the years.

The afternoon was spent turning in final gear and checking out.  I thought we had accumulated a lot of stuff in our house throughout the years, but I certainly had a bunch of gear that I had gathered and it all needed to be turned back in.  I knew I was getting close to the end when they took my police ID cards, took a new photo of me, and the new ID card read "Retired".

Back to the station to turn in the car, exchange final pleasantries with a few members of my squad, and make a call to Karen to come pick up "civilian" Steve.

Now to begin our new life as true Fulltime RVers!
We hop on a plane on Thursday evening out of Richmond, VA and head to SD to obtain new driver's licenses and to title and register the MH and Honda Fit.  We'll fly back on Saturday evening, watch the Redskins BEAT those Dallas Cowboys on Sunday evening, then head to FL on Monday.  Wow, I sure hope this fulltiming life slows down a bit or I might return to work to get some rest.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and hope you can all spend this special day with friends and loved ones.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Until we meet again....

Hi!  This is Karen......Steve has been "hogging" the blog, and I finally got a chance to speak! :-)

Over the past week or so, we have both been treated to lunches and dinners from friends and coworkers wishing us well in retirement and in the adventures that lie ahead for us on the open road. (We seriously need to diet after we leave! LOL!).  We have both been blessed to have worked with amazing people during our careers, and have formed friendships that will hopefully last for many years to come.

Cards We've Received

Since we both have family in the area, we will be back to visit from time to time.  I am keeping my Virginia dental hygiene license, so while we are here, I can maybe earn a little money as well.  We will reconnect with friends while we are in the area, so it really isn't "goodbye", but more of "until we meet again...."

We are down to our last week here in Virginia.  As Steve has mentioned in the previous post, we are trying to find space for things that we brought from the house.  We both had to part with things that meant a lot to us at the time, but as time has passed, we have hardly missed those items.  I think it will take a year or so of fulltiming to see what we actually need, and then we will purge some more. This will definitely be a work in progress.....

As I write this, I am cooking our Christmas turkey breast in the convection/microwave in our coach.  (I am still trying to get the hang of that thing!).  Due to our personal schedule and Steve's work schedule, I am preparing our dinner early, and will enjoy it during the week ahead, before our trip to South Dakota.  I thought we would have had more time to relax once we had sold the house, but that has not been the case.  There have been a lot of loose ends to wrap up before we leave.

"Until we meet again"......thanks for stopping by, and feel free to leave a comment!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Road Is In Sight

Wow, we can't believe that we'll actually be "hitting the road" in a bit over a week now.  Still SO much to do before that happens, however.

We had rented a storage unit after moving out of our stix and bricks house at the end of October.  This was done mainly to give us a bit more time to narrow down the items we wanted to keep and/or take with us.  We've decided that we will not be storing items (with the exception of a few boxes of things at relative's houses) while fulltiming.  This all means that we have to be pretty selective in what we take with us.  Well, I'm happen to report that the storage unit rental was completed today.  That doesn't mean we're settled in with our stuff in the rig yet, however.   Far from it.  Any suggestions for storage tips would certainly be appreciated!

Holy Crap!

A few days ago I thought we were going to really be delayed in our quest to "get on the road" by the end of the year.  When we sold the house, the buyer's father was very interested in purchasing my Chevrolet 2500HD pickup.  He advised me to give him a call when I was ready to sell.  Everything seemed good.

I emailed him last week and due to conditions beyond his control (truthfully), he would not be able to purchase the truck.  Well, here I am ready to pull out of Virginia in a week and a half and now I have a Honda Fit to pull behind the motorhome, as well as a full-sized pickup truck to do "something" with. A bit of panic is now beginning to set in.

I decided to do what we had done to sell many of our larger items.  I posted a classified ad on Craigslist.  I posted the ad on 12/17/12 and to date have received ONE reply.  Now I'm really getting nervous.  As it turns out, however, you only need one reply to make a sale.  I closed on the truck today and all went well for both parties.  Really sorry to see that truck go as we had many enjoyable RV trips while pulling our 5th wheel trailer with the truck.

Last View Taken from the Fit

Now if we can just figure out where to put all the rest of our "stuff"..........

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Gathering of Friends

Karen finished her last day at work today after 34.5 years in the dental field. She will have a separate post on this tomorrow.

Tonight Karen and I attended a retirement dinner put on by my current squad for me.  Attendees included my current co-workers and several fellow officers I had worked with in the past, along with my current Lt. and Captain.  A very nice time was had by everyone.  The food at Giorgios Family Restaurant near Montlair, VA was very good and the company was even better.

My official last work day will be next Wednesday, but that day will be used to turn in equipment and perform a myriad of final check outs. I'm sure that the first few weeks after leaving my old job of 30+ years will be a bit different, but we are really looking forward to this new adventure ahead.

We will be flying to South Dakota next week to obtain our driver's licenses and to register the motorhome and Honda Fit.  We know it will be cold out there, but really want to get all of these details taken care of before the end of the calendar year.  We will be heading to Panama City Beach, FL for the month of January.  We have what seems like a million things to finalize before we pull away from here on December 30th.  We hope to be in Panama City Beach on January 1, 2013.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Fit Gets a Hitch

With a pair of road bicycles and a pair of folding bicycles we had to have a way to transport everything between campground stops.  Already shown in a previous post was our solution to the transport of the road bicycles inside the Fit.

We didn't really want to take up additional space inside the basement of the MH, so we decided to carry the folding bicycles on a rack mounted to a hitch on the rear of the Honda Fit.  Unfortunately, there is no hitch receiver on the Fit so today's blog is about the installation of a Draw-Tite 1 1/4 inch receiver-style hitch.

I purchased the hitch from  Shipping was fast and free.  I always like free.  The installation instructions which come with the hitch are certainly not the best written. (Have you ever encountered that before?)  Fortunately, has an installation video of an installation on a 2011 Honda Fit (no differences for the 2012 model) and it was very good.

Pre-hitch Install

After watching the video, the installation went pretty smoothly.  A third pair of hands would be helpful during the installation.  The hitch is not that heavy, but a pair of hands on each side would allow a third person to assemble the hardware to the frame and make the job a breeze.  Karen handled one side while the use of a floor jack allowed us to keep the hitch near the Fit's frame while I bolted it in place.  The instructions estimated approximately 40 minutes to complete the install.  We did it in about 60, so I am pretty happy.

Finishing Up the Install

The Fit sits pretty low front and rear and the wheels rolled onto a set of ramps was very helpful.  A Dremel tool is a very handy tool to have.  I used it to quickly trim a piece of the plastic wheel well trim and to make the "key hole" slots to enable the metal spacers to be pushed up into the frame.

Up on Ramps

Finished Project

Ground Clearance

All in all, the installation went smoothly and without any unpredicted problems.  I'll take a few pics of the bike rack and the folding bikes once we go down to the storage unit to pick them up.

Should you have any specific questions about this install feel free to email me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wrapping Up Many Loose Ends

Not a whole lot of "cool adventures" to write about at this point.

I (Steve) is still working until 12/27/12 and we're still trying to figure out how to get all of the "stuff" we want to take with us in the motorhome.  I took almost everything out of the basement storage areas and tried to find us more room for those things we need (want) to take with us. I think we'll have to double tow a small trailer behind the Honda Fit.  Believe me, that is NOT going to happen.

There are still many loose ends to tie up before beginning our FTing journey.  Changing over accounts for direct deposit of pension retirement checks,  making sure that we've updated addresses with folks that need that information, and wrapping up many, many things at work will keep us busy right up until the 27th.

We are really looking forward to heading south shortly as it's beginning to feel like December here in northern Virginia, although it has been a very mild one to this point. We have concluded that our motorhome is not nearly as insulated as our previous 5th wheel (Arctic Fox), but I guess that's why we have wheels under the rig!

In our last post, I spoke about carrying the road bikes inside the Honda Fit.  We also carry two folding bikes for travel in and around the campground.  I decided for now to carry them on a bike carrier which will be attached to a receiver on the rear of the Fit.  It should be arriving today or tomorrow, so I'll try and get that installed in the next few days.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bikes in the Honda Fit

One of the reasons we decided upon the Fit as a toad was because of the generous amount of interior storage space.  The rear seats can fold down entirely flat and the area behind the front seats is unobstructed. We like to ride bikes, but transporting them without exposing them to the elements and possible theft takes a bit of thought.

We have decided to take a pair of true road bikes for longer rides on asphalt surfaces and a pair of folding bikes to be used around the campgrounds and on less than smooth riding surfaces. The challenge was in how to transport them.

We really didn't like the thought of the road bikes being exposed to the weather as we travel down the highways, so we decided that these would be carried inside the Fit.  Although I'm still considering a couple of alternatives, the folding bikes will be carried on a hit mounted to the rear of the Fit.  Because the Fit has a very low towing capacity, only 1 1/4" receivers are routinely encountered.  I'm looking at a hitch made by Curt and a similar one made by Drawtite.  In the end it will probably come down to which one is easier to install.

  Back to the topic of today.  An inside carrier for the road bikes.  I did not think of this idea on my own, but have seen several variations on the internet.  I finally chose a pair of front fork carriers made by Delta and

Delta Front Fork  Mount

 installed them on a piece of plywood.  After trying to fit the bikes inside the compartment in various configurations I decided to mount the rear tires forward and angle both handlebars to make certain that no contact occurred with the rear glass.

Rear Tires Behind Front Seats

I constructed a PVC spacer which I placed between the rear bike racks, then will use a lightweight tie down in opposing directions connected to the rear seat hooks (not being used with the seats in the down position).

Fork Mounts Secured to Plywood
Forks Turned to Prevent Rear Glass Contact

A test of the mounted bikes proved successful.  I am very happy with this project.

Should you have any questions or more additional details, just leave a comment or drop me an email.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

January in Red Bay, AL?

Well, we hope it won't be all, or even most, of January, but it appears that our first destination as Fulltimers will be to the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, AL instead of the beaches of Panama City Beach, FL.

Unfortunately, we really don't have much of a choice in this matter.  We have an interior plumbing leak somewhere inside the bedroom area of the rig which we have still been unable to narrow down and locate. Water leaks are something we take seriously as only bad things can occur if a leak isn't addressed as soon as possible.  Believe me, we would MUCH rather be heading to Panama City Beach!

On a positive note, however, we'll finally be fulltiming and we really have no where which we have to be for several months.

Not a whole lot of new things happen to us currently as we're just biding our time in a local campground until we leave the area (and the work life) near the end of December.

We decided that the Honda Fit would serve our needs best as a toad vehicle behind the motorhome, so in June of this year we purchased the Fit.  When we were in Red Bay last February we had a gentleman named Brannon Hutcheson (Custom RV, Inc.) install the SMI Air Force 1 supplemental braking system on the coach.  After reading thru all of the instructions I thought it would be a cinch for me to install the AF1 equipment in the Fit. didn't turn out to be as easy as I'd hoped.  The Fit's engine compartment is very tight and instead of me doing some damage in there I've decided to let Brannon handle the install when we return to the Red Bay area.  He has done other work on our coach and does excellent work for reasonable prices.

Up until recently, I had used wireless tow lights placed on the rear of the Fit.  I only went this route because our previous toad was a Honda Accord and we didn't want any type of permanent installation on that vehicle because we knew we would be looking shortly at the Fit.  I finally got around to installing a very nice setup from a company called Tow Daddy.  Their kit allows you to "T" into the rear tail lights with OEM connectors and then route the typical 4-wire harness to the front of the vehicle where a standard plug-in cable is used to receive lighting power from the motorhome.  I was very satisfied with the ease of installation and the very complete kit as supplied by Tow Daddy.

Still working at this point, so it's time to hit the rack for tonight.

I promise you that we'll have more exciting adventures to discuss in the future.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our Many "Firsts"

Welcome to the "first" post on our new blog.
This blog is intended to allow our friends and family to follow the many "firsts" we'll experience.

Not only is this our first attempt at blogging, but as of October 31, 2012 we are now houseless, but certainly not homeless.  We have just begun the Fulltiming RV lifestyle after several years of planning.

Since the end of October we have been living in our Tiffin Phaeton in a local campground until we retire on January 1, 2013. Our current plans will take us to Florida for the month of January, but a recently discovered interior plumbing problem in the rig may alter those plans.  As the saying among fulltimers goes "our plans will be written in Jello".

Both Steve and I will be contributing to this blog and currently we are not certain as to the frequency of posting, but we'll just see how it goes for a bit.  There really aren't too many exciting things going on currently while we wait for our retirement date to occur.

We placed an order for our new 2010 Tiffin Phaeton 40 QTH motorhome on December 23, 2009. Actual production on this unit began February 24, 2010. Karen and I traveled to Red Bay, AL to watch the initial production stages up until the unit goes to Belmont, MS for painting.
The new rig was delivered to Sherman RV in Sherman, MS on 4/6/10. After an 880 mile drive home, the new coach is (was) sitting in the driveway.

The pictures below were taken on 4/6/10 at Sherman RV, Sherman, MS. This was the first glimpse of our new rig. We stayed for a couple of nights exactly in the spot you see the rig. We were hooked up to electric and water and wanted to make sure that the systems worked before venturing away. Karen seems pretty happy so far.

Our First Sighting

At Sherman RV, Sherman, MS

1st Night Out for Dinner