Saturday, February 27, 2021

Our First Travel Adventure of 2021!

We left South Dakota on a Monday morning and pointed our jeep east. This would be our first adventure in….(7 years?) that we did not take a house on wheels with us. Instead we packed the jeep to the ceiling, put the Dakota in the back seat and we were off! The weather forecast showed that we had a tight window each day to avoid more of the nasty white stuff. A few hours ahead of us there was a storm that left dozens, if not hundreds of cars in the ditch through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. We drove down the interstate looking at all the cars in the ditch commenting on what it would have been like to be in that car or this car. “That one spun a few times”, “Look how far that one went into the ditch”, “That one is on its roof” and so on. Luckily by the time we came through the roads were clear and we just got to witness the aftermath.

Our first day took us from Pringle to Clear Lake Iowa. Roughly 9 ½ hours and 637 miles. This was not a sightseeing trip, we were on a mission. That night we stayed in a Super 8 that was anything but super. It was adequate however and we were on the road by 7:30 the next morning. Another 9 hour 600+ mile day found us just east of Indianapolis. Along the way we went through many towns that I had visited during my working life. On the occasion I visited these stores it was usually not for good reasons. Sioux Falls, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Peoria and Bloomington Ill, Indianapolis as well as Dayton and Columbus. It brought back lots of memories when our company bought, sold and closed stores; you are rarely greeted with open arms. 

Day 3 was a shorter day, 8 hours and less than 600 miles. We arrived at Jessica and Shane’s a little after 4:00. They had just purchased and moved into this house a few months ago. So after hugs all the way around we got a tour of their house. Very interesting house dating back to 1860 with several additions throughout the years. One section has plaster and horsehair walls in some areas and whole log beams in the basement. Other sections have sheetrock and more modern construction. It has 3 fireplaces none of which are currently operational but we might try and change that while we are here. A very interesting house to say the least.

The days before our arrival Jessica and Shane had been working on getting their camper ready for our arrival. The only problem being that it was in the middle of a snow covered field and they needed to get it in their driveway. It took 2 days and a few swear words but they got it there!

This is the result of the end of day 1

The snowstorm that was chasing us across the country caught up with us that night dumping several inches of snow on the ground along with some freezing rain. The next two days were snow days for the kids so we lots of grandkid times the next two days. I will be the first one to admit that going from having no grandkid time to a lot of grandkid time is an adjustment; 90% fun, 10% grandpa had to go out to the camper for a timeout. I would go read a couple chapters of a book, reenergize and come back in. Man, those kids have a lot of energy! On top of that they do not have TV working in their house yet so taking this old man who is used to his TV time and replacing it with a 6 year old and an 11 year old is quite a shock to the system!

As far as school goes they have in-person classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Virtual on Wednesday. Since we got here last Wednesday they canceled both Thursday and Friday. It was not too bad as it has been over a year since I have seen them but by Sunday I was looking forward to Monday when they were in school plus Jessica took the week off so we would get to spend some “adult” time with her.  We woke up Monday morning looking forward to a day of hitting breweries and antique stores only to look out the window and see snow falling from the sky. Noooooo!

Yep, they canceled it again. Since all the kids are set up with tablets for virtual days they cancel school at even the slightest threat of snow or ice. Convenient for the teachers, hell of the schedule for parents. If both parents are working, I really don’t know how they can do it.

Luckily I had a couple of projects to keep me distracted. The first was putting some lights in Kendall’s room. She only had lamps and outlets, not even a switch to control an outlet. Should be pretty easy, just need to crawl up in the attic, find a hot wire, tap off that to a switch then to the lights.

What I did not think about was that this house was built in the late 1800's and not a lot of thought went into lighting and wiring

So up in the attic I went. Not a single wire to be found….anywhere. What I did find was some pretty interesting and old timber frame construction. Their trusses are rough sawn 3x3’s with a wooden pin holding then together.

Kinda dark up there but there is the wooden spike through the truss

Plan B, try to find a wire in a wall and tap off of that. Shane and I found one and were able to fish it up the wall into the attic. From there I was able to fish it down to the switch location and get to work. 5 hours later we had working lights!

Kendall played on the ladder while I installed the lights

We did get out on a couple adventures. The first was when I went to Waynesboro to get the Jeep fixed. Jeep fixed you ask? Well, on day two of our journey out here Barb was looking out the mirror and said “Our fender flare is about to fall off”. We stop at the next town and sure enough 7 of the 10 tabs holding on the left rear fender flare were gone and it was about to fall off. It was still below 0 so I basically ripped it off, threw it in the back of the jeep and we carried on. When we got here I looked up Jeep repair shops and came up with on just a few miles away in Waynesboro. I called and they bring it on it and they will see what they can do. Little did I know that the place I was taking it to was Hauk Design, a world famous Jeep fabricator. Apparently they have a TV show and do upgrades and fabrications for jeeps all across the country. I had never heard of them and am curious if anyone else has. They were super nice, had me drive into their heated shop and got to work on fixing it. As they were working on it they gave me a tour of their shop and showed me some of the “projects” they were working on. Our jeep and I were definitely outside our pay grade but they got it fixed and I was back on the road within 30 minutes for less than $100. I could not have been happier!

We have been out antiquing a few times and I picked up an old wooden ammo crate, a couple of vintage wooden decoys and three cast iron tractor seats for Farmer Bob. Whenever I would find a seat I would text it to him and I was able to few that he was interested in. He made me promise not to mention it to his wife DeAnne so I definitely will not do that. I think he might be giving one to her for her birthday or something. I am sure she will be super excited!

With all the snow we have been outside doing as much as we can; playing hide and seek, sledding and building snowmen.

Jessica about to tip over

Dylan on his way down

Little Kendall just flew down the hill!

We are about 1/2 way through our adventure here, who knows what the next week will bring!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Worst Week of our FT'ing Lives; February 2015

Brrrr! That is the only word (Is that a word?) that describes this week. Although not as cold as many of our northern friends it certainly was cold for our area. 

For you southerners believe it or not these negative temps do not stop most from getting out and enjoying the outdoors. As long as you are dressed for it, you can go out and do anything you would normally do. Barb has been still taking Dakota for walks and we used the hot tub every night this week except one. Getting in is a bit chilly, sitting in there is heaven and getting out is not too bad as all that residual heat stays with you while you run inside. On one night we were out there and it was -8f. It was a clear windless night and steam was rising off the hot tub. We had a nice enjoyable soak until Barb went to get out and her hair was frozen to the side of the tub! She eventually got it loose (leaving a few strands of hair behind) and scampered into the house. 

Out of curiosity I checked our electrical bill to see how much it is costing us on a daily basis. We got the hot tub in November when temps were in the 30's. It is hard to really compare as temperatures and other factors impact our usage but from the graph below it looks like we were using a little less than $1/day in electricity. You can certainly see when we got the hot tub and it was heating up where we hit $3 usage that day. Then it leveled out to just below $2/day except when the temps (the black line) really dipped this past week where it is hovering right at that $2/day mark. So on average it looks like it is costing us about $1 a day.  We are getting well over that amount in enjoyment and relaxation so I would say it is worth it!

The deer have been especially furry during this cold weather and have been eating a lot more needing the extra energy to keep warm.

The majority of the week was spent working inside. No pictures this week as most of what we did was trim, staining and varnishing and as exciting as that sounds, it was just not picture-worthy. As much as we enjoy working on the house, we are ready for a break. A break from the house, a break from the cold and a break from the snow. So where are we going? Well, to Pennsylvania where it is cold and snowy to work on our daughters house of course! 

Remember a few weeks ago I had posted how every Hallmark movie basically has the same plot? Well, someone had sent me a link to a very funny YouTube video that I just have to share... Every Hallmark Movie Ever - YouTube

Now, the subject for the title of this post......

The other notable thing that happened this week made us shutter. You know how Facebook pops up memories once in a while? Well we had one pop up this week that we will never forget as it changed our lives forever....... First I shall set the scene.....

It was our first year on the road and as fulltiming rookies we were excited to attend our first rally and meet some like-minded people. Little did we know what was in store for us. The location was sunny Florida and we had just arrived at the rally. We were a little late and all the good spots were taken so the only spot left were on the outskirts of the group next to what looked like an old abandoned 5th wheel that someone had discarded years ago. 

As we drove around it, the first thing we noticed was the stench. OMG, did something die in there?!?!? It was like someone had left their black tank valve open. That is when  we noticed a sewer hose across our path. We had to swerve to avoid it but as we did the truck started sinking in this pool of "sludge". I kicked it into 4WD and powered through, sh#t was flying everywhere...literally. 

We finally got around it, found some dry ground, parked and got out. We had just started setting up when the door of the "abandoned" 5th wheel flew open and this woman stumbles down the stair. She was wearing the shortest Daisy Duke shorts I had ever seen and a halter top that left nothing to the imagination. It was barely big enough to cover the pack of Marlboro she had tucked in there. Her long dark hair was in pigtails that pretty much stuck straight out from not being washed in quite a while. In one hand was a Pabst Blue Ribbon and the other was a stub of a cigarette. She staggered over to our trailer in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a 60 year old sailor said "Well, hi there big fella, we don't get many visitors out here". I quickly jumped behind Barb to protect me when I saw something else emerging from the trailer. It is hard to describe but I will do my best.... Picture if you will a muscle shirt 5 sizes too small stretched over a frame that had no muscle at all. The bottom of the shirt did not even come close to covering the hairy beachball he had hiding under there. 

He too staggered over and his lips started moving as though he was trying to form a sentence. I leaned in to try to hear what he was saying when he let out a huge belch that knocked the hat right off my head. At that very moment I thought that sludge pool behind their trailer did not smell so bad after all. Without saying a word, he finished the rest of his beer, threw the can on the ground, hitched up what I am guessing used to be grey sweat pants and turned and walked back to his rig kicking other discarded beer cans along his way. As he got to his trailer he turned and yelled "Woman, get back in here, I need some breakfast!" 

Be thankful smells don't come through pictures!

She gave me a wink and a smile that made me throw up in my mouth a little, turned and staggered back to her rig. Barb and I stood there in disbelief. Did that really just happen? We finished setting up and started talking about our new neighbors. Barb and I like a good challenge so we took it upon ourselves to see if we could socialize these two beasts. Over the next week, although we never got them sober we were able to get them somewhat cleaned up and presentable. 
Barb, teaching Lisa to use a straw and glass

The night started out well with Dino wearing pants and us teaching him how to smile

But sadly, we lost control and it ended like this

We even snuck them into a few rally events so they could socialize and communicate with other people!

We even got them near water!

When we left there Barb and I were quite proud of ourselves having set some poor lost souls on the right track. I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending but sadly they reverted to their old ways. Last I heard they were living in a shack somewhere in the north woods of Minnesota. My advice to you, is that if you are ever driving a lonely desolate road up there and see a woman in short shorts and a halter top hitchhiking along the road speed up, do not stop, it is a trap!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

You know You Are Getting Old When.....

There is no denying it we are getting old, and for some reason this past two weeks I have been feeling it. Some days we wake up and jump out of bed ready for the day, others we roll out of bed and limp, moan and crack our way to the couch where we will sit for an hour trying to convince our bodies into action. 

There is nothing wrong with getting old, in fact we have embraced it looking forward to growing old together. We have also noticed changes in our routine, bodies and other signs of aging over the years. I thought I would share a few of our observations. Most of these relate to our lives while others we have observed in friends of ours. 

So without further ado here is our list of signs you are getting old. 

You know you are getting old when...

You are coming home for a night out on the town and you have to stop and wait for the school bus to drop off kids in front of you.

The main topic of conversation at dinner with your friends relates to doctor appointments and aches and pains. 

Before you go out to dinner you and your spouse have a conversation on which meal you are going to split. 

When you have to go to the bathroom, you have to go NOW instead of waiting until the next commercial.

You wake up to use the bathroom at night for the first time and you could still catch the 9:00 news.

You start naming the deer, birds and other wildlife that visit your feeders.

You have conversations with said deer, birds and wildlife.

You spend more money each month feeding the wildlife than you do feeding yourself.

Several of our deer friends stopped by for breakfast

On another morning the turkeys joined them

You look forward to your next birthday because you qualify for the America the Beautiful Pass. 

Last but not least, Your kids start calling dibs on stuff in your house when you die.

I could go on and on but there is no doubt about it and no stopping it, we are getting old. So why not embrace it and make the best of it! 

We have not been out doing too much, just working on the house. The projects we have been working on have not had a significant visual impact but are steps to reaching our end goal and getting things done. 

Installed the tile backer in the dog wash area.

Just need to seal the seams and build the base then we are ready for tile!

Barb painted the can light covers so they blend in better with the bug wood.

The light covers used to be white

And we installed the corners, stair lights and 1x6 diagonal sections going up the stairs. 

The corner (on the left side) was cut out of a 2x2 I hollowed out and wrapped around the corner. The lights are above every other stair tread and the diagonal goes up the right side of the stairs. 

One day we spent several hours cleaning the garage. Over the past few months it has been our main work and storage area. We installed some wood storage shelves (on the far wall), swept, vacuumed and got everything cleaned up so we can get it dirty all over again. 

All clean ready to mess up again!

We also got the under-cabinet lights installed in the kitchen!

It has been 3 weeks since we lost Daisy and we still miss her everyday. Life is....just different without her here. I cannot watch my favorite hunting show without thinking about her. No matter what she was doing she would tear into the room and attack the TV when she heard the theme song for the show and sometimes I swear I see her out of the corner of my eye while walking around the house.

Barb saw this image on the internet the other day, we were both a wreck after seeing it. 

Dakota is getting better, she has seemed to have perked up and getting back to normal. We take her for more walks which she loves, she is always happy when we go for walks. One big change we have noticed in her is that she is a lot more aggressive when someone knocks on the door. She barks like crazy where in the past she never used to do that. 

Saturday morning Kevin and I went Mountain Lion hunting. We had received several inches of snow overnight which makes it ideal for hunting as you can cut a track and then follow it and hopefully get the mountain lion before it gets you. But we did not cut any tracks so we basically just spent the morning driving around. The hills are so beautiful after a fresh snow....

That afternoon Barb, Kevin and I went into Rapid City to the annual stock show and rodeo. Despite the pandemic they had record attendance. I guess people are really itching to get out! In one area we found show participants primping and prepping their cattle for a judging event. It is amazing the level of detail they go through to get their animals ready.

We checked out each of the booths before heading to the main reason for our attendance. The evening rodeo performance!

We just love watching the horses perform. It is amazing at how well some of these horses were trained! It is hard to say which is our favorite events. Barb's is definitely barrel racing while if I had to pick, I would say bull riding. It is amazing that those guys can stay on those beasts. 

It takes a well trained horse to run with a flag and sparkler!


Calf Roping

This saddle broc'er did not last too long 

Steer wrestling

Team roping

Barb's fav, barrel racing!

There is one guy who actually trained his horses and a zebra to climb on top of his horse trailer!

We did not get home until after midnight, that was a first in quite a while!

Sunday marked a milestone. The 12,775th day that Barb and I have been married. Yep, 35 years! I told her it feels like we met just yesterday and with a somber and defeated expression she replied "Really, it feels like 2 lifetimes ago to me" I took that to mean that she loved me so much she wanted to spend multiple lifetimes with me!

We celebrated the day by having Kevin and Cheryl as well as Doug and Lisa over for The Big Game. That reminds me, you know you are old when you have no idea who the half time performer was. We were hoping for a little more competitive game but you have to give it to Tampa's defense shutting down KC like that. And Tom brady? Well, he is Tom Brady. It was cool to see Gronk get 2 (almost 3) touchdowns. Not bad for a retired guy!

It had been a bit on the cool side the past few days with highs in the single digits and lows below 0 but nothing like our friends in North Dakota and Minnesota are getting! Guess it is a week for more indoor projects!