Breaking in the Bikes

We are parked in a lovely quiet spot right next to the trail on friends’ property. This is our view from the bus.

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They garden seriously and extensively and pretty much feed themselves year round with the bounty of their very hard work. Some of the goodies we have partaken of…

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Sweetest corn so fresh.

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New potatoes
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Zucchini grilled to perfection on our little Hibachi

Along with tomatoes, cucumbers and tonight a delicious offering of Marni’s famous hot slaw. We ate the entire container.

They feed the birds all year long and when I saw all the hummingbirds, I dug out my hummingbird feeder (yes, I brought one), filled it up and within minutes the familiar little birds were buzzing about. We hung it on the awning right in sight. Pretty sweet.
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On to the biking. We are really liking the new bikes. The Katy Trail is a great place to get used to a new bike and we have put about 100 miles on them since our arrival. Yesterday we rode into Columbia and rode around town a little. It is a lot different than when I was a bike commuter there, but the routes and distances all doable. More traffic though. Also, more bike lanes. Many more.

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Some scenes along the trail; Hartsburg

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Toward McBaine. Everybody knows the Big Tree. It has changed over the many years I have visited it but still standing, with fewer branches. It was 150 years old when Lewis and Clark came through these parts in 1804.

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Providence
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Helping a fellow traveler
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Near Easley
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In Wilton
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The day before we arrived, Eric rescued a hummingbird who had gotten caught up in Tanglefoot and damaged a wing. They have nursed her back to health and both she and Eric have succeeded in cleaning her wing. She lets Eric take her out of her box. After six days, she has progressed enough that she is flying around their house. We went up and hung out while she was out flying around and feeding inside the house. He is very excited, with good reason, since a couple of days ago, she was starting to fail and not feeding. He moved her box over by the window so she was stimulated to feed and now she is queen of the kitchen. So very cool.

On the Road Again…

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We are going somewhere! After being comfortably ensconced at Mark & Marilyn’s for six weeks, it is time to hit the road. The FCA Convention is over; I have successfully retired and we are ready for some downtime.

We are pulling out today for Columbia to stay with friends on the river and ride the Katy Trail. Finally time to make use of our new bikes! I only have 30 miles on mine, but that will be changing soon.

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We sold the truck, now we are down to bus and bikes. Yikes!

This place has been a great soft landing for us and the kitties, providing a most excellent transition between the house and being on the road regularly. We have been so fortunate to be able to help with the mowing, garden and pool. Mark and Marilyn are exceptional people, friendly, happy, laughing and so caring and sweet. How to thank someone who has made such a difference in our lives at this crucial juncture? We are eternally grateful and will extend to others the kindness and hospitality we have been showered with. Not to mention that we have been treated to a parade of Mark’s cool cars. Every time he pulls out, we are anxious to see which beautiful classic he is driving this time. Marilyn too!

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Some friendly Falcon club folk welcomed us with this sign… Hmmm… Names blurred to protect the innocent.

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The view across the road is very nice and Kansasy.

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The zinnias are going crazy. So are the hibiscus.

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The lilies are having a banner year due to so much rain.

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The pool has been very inviting.

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Our parking spot. They even said we can come back.

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Tikita got another lion cut; only lasted three months! Before and after.

We put some stuff in the trailer we are storing. Except for what we have in the bus, this is the total of our material possessions! The horses are very friendly.

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We visited Jim’s mom and dad for the last time in a while. Then we met friends for dinner. So many goodbyes! We are concentrating on the hellos!

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This is my garden now…flowers and plants along the bike paths.

See you on the river!

 

 

Finally…Some R&R

June went by fast! We moved the bus from the house on the morning of June 2 when the estate sale people came to set up. We landed in a lovely spot at friends’ where we are work camping while they travel intermittently during our month+ here. They have five acres, lovely grounds, garden and pool. So we are mowing, watering the plants and taking care of the pool while they are gone. Work camping for friends. Win/win.

The house closed on June 10. On the 12th we met with Amber, our wizard financial advisor and she laid out the very good news that we have plenty of money to live to be 100. GAH! So more than enough to make it to 85 or so. Then we went out to celebrate, which was the first time we had come up for air in many months. It felt good and we ate and drank to our hearts’ ycontent.

Since I knew I needed to be here through mid-July for the FCA Convention, we thought we had a place for this month-long sojourn set up with another friend at his landscape business. When I went to make the final check and arrangements, he nixed it, saying he just wanted to “keep his head down” after bankruptcy and forced sale of the land. He is leasing it back now from the new owner, so understandable.

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The universe knows best, however, since this place we landed is really a gem and worked out so much better. Quiet, private, even 20 amps of power. Not only that, we are totally saving on the black tank since we have our very own outhouse! Seriously! We swim in the pool and shower up there too, so we have only had to take on water and dump once in over a month. That was when we went to Carthage to replace the busted awning.

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During that month, I had to make a whirlwind eight day trip to Minden, Nevada for the NAOC National Meet. Got picked up here in KC by some friends and hauled ass every day till we got there. Then four nights at the hotel and then back. I thought I had started to recover somewhat from moving, but that trip wore me out. The convention was good though, and the country interesting. It was a good transition trip between the house and the bus, and when I arrived “home” I was ready to be back, believe me.

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This Fourth of July weekend was the first time in months that we actually got to relax and do nothing. Kind of disconcerting since I don’t really know what to do with all this free time. I think we will adjust though. We swam, sunned a bit, watered and mowed, rode our new bikes, drank beer and relaxed. For our Fourth of July entertainment, there were three separate fireworks displays, all within view, that went on for hours. What a great deal! Jim barbecued steaks and we had baked potatoes and avocados for dinner. Yay Freedom!

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I have really enjoyed taking care of the garden and plants, since I got no garden this year.

After the Falcon Convention, where I am retiring and introducing the new Editor, we will head for Columbia, Missouri to ride the Katy Trail for a week or so. We have a great parking spot at friends on the river but if it is too wet, we have a backup plan. As Jim says, it’s always good to have a plan.

Then off to South Dakota to establish our residence, get licenses, insurance, all that fun stuff. Plus update our wills. Are YOU getting cut out? Kidding! You were never in it anyway…

Besides, we are going to spend all the money.

Storms: 2, Awning: 0

Lesson learned, as our friend Howard Best succinctly said. We had the awning out and left it out when we came back to the bus and went to bed. It had been raining like crazy here and we thought the awning was lowered enough to have the water run off. Wrong!

In the morning, Jim went out and it was filled with water.  He tried to poke it up with the broom and both the broom and the awning broke. We knew a trip to Carthage, Missouri was in the cards. We called Colaw’s and found a 20 foot awning. Our old one was supposed to be 20 feet, but it was only 17 when we got it installed.

The guys at RV Consignment saved the day and installed the new one. We stayed in their lot overnight before heading back the next day and it was a good thing we did. When Jim tried the new awning in the morning, the pull strap broke off. Colaw’s sent over another one and the Consignment guys attached it.

We will be more prudent in the future.

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We tried to grommet it, attach some ropes and have a Hillbilly awning for a few days until the storms got that one too. Jim finally cut it off and we headed to Carthage.

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The new awning:
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A Very Busy Time Indeed

The last few months have really flown by. And it’s a good thing they are over, because we are exhausted.

On April 1, we put our house up for sale. By April 10, it was under contract. The good part is that we sold it ourselves and received a full price offer. By the time we put the sign in the front yard, we had been preparing the house and landscape for a few months. That was a lot of work.

During this whole time, Jim worked a 40 hour week getting his parents into skilled nursing and an independent living apartment, dealing with home health care, hospice, long term care insurance and all the related senior issues. Of course, since there were two levels of care involved, the expenses and time spent went way up. And he isn’t even the DPOA, just the one with the drive and energy to get it done. His family offered us very little to no support. No phone calls, no “How’s it going?” Everybody acted like because Jim is retired, he had more time to do all this. They are just as much their parents’ children as he is. And his older brother, who actually is the Power of Attorney, is also retired.

As an aside, we visited a friend in Columbia in early May, who was going on and on about his daughter going to college and how much work it was for him and how stressed he was. When I mentioned that we were a little wound tight too, he actually said, “Well, this is something you chose.” Like it wasn’t stressful if you picked the path. I reminded him that having children was his choice too. No answer.

On top of all that, I am retiring as FCA Editor and was working with the new Editor, my sister-in-law, all that time to turn over the magazine over to her. That took more time than just doing the issue myself, but the prep proved to be worth it and she was approved by the FCA Board of Directors in record time, five days. We had been working together since October;so the transition was fairly seamless.

Then we had the estate sale. Then we sold what was left over from that. Made a bonfire of everything else. Then we closed on the house.

By the end of a solid month of twelve hour days, we were operating on vapor. We were so tired when we woke up in the morning that it was miraculous that we were able to function. We just kept telling ourselves it was only for a few more days, weeks, whatever.

As much as I loved our house and landscape, I was looking forward to that part being over. And one good thing is that when you move, you normally don’t get to carry stuff out to the driveway and put it in your new residence. I guess I should be glad for that. If I had worn a pedometer during those times, I bet it would have come to 50,000 steps a day instead of the desired 10,000.

In the meantime, we also bought new bikes that we have barely had a chance to ride. I am really looking forward to putting more than 12 miles on that dude. A trip to the Katy Trail is definitely in the future.

The irony of moving into the bus is already twofold. The very first day after we closed on the house, Carmella managed to escape from the bus. It took me a half hour to coax her out from under the bus. But she finally squeaked and came within reach so I could grab her and get her back in the bus. Whew!

We are very fortunate to be parked at good friends until the FCA Convention in July, which will be my swan song. And the ultimate irony is that the day after closing, we spent three hours helping them mow their lovely property. Who mows a bigger place than their own AFTER they sell the house? They will be gone a couple of times while we are here and we are happy to be here, helping them.

It really is true that friends are the family you make for yourselves. That’s why we got the bus in the first place and it is already proving true.

More after I sleep for about 100 hours.

 

It’s Kitten Outdoor Time…

The cats have been staying inside for the past two and a half years or so. This is because before that, Astrid ate some kind of creature outside and got very sick. She almost died, plus it cost me about $800. We think it was a diseased vole. She basically was on the vole-a-day program which wasn’t a problem until she got a hold of this one. She was dehydrated and very feverish and limp, not eating or drinking. The vet had no idea what was wrong with her. They did bloodwork ($$$) and tried the usual pick-me-up, a cortisone shot. 24 hours later, she was worse. I took her in and they kept her overnight, hydrating her by IV. The next day they said she was better and she came home. It took quite a while, but she came back to health. And so, what? I was going to let her go outside all over again? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Astrid adjusted pretty well to being inside and Tikita was fine either in or out. But Carmella never forgot. Every morning and evening at the time they always used to get harnessed up and go out, she ran to the door, squeaking and crying. Not so much in winter, but when spring came, she became adamant. She actually became depressed, I think. I know what the “experts” say about how keeping the cat in is so much better. For the human maybe, but it was time to think about the cat.

So we decided to take them out in their harnesses and on leashes like we did when they were kittens to get them used to the yard. All I have to do is shake the harness and sing the Outside Song, which I hadn’t been able to for ages. They have a very predictable routine. Astrid runs down the steps and throws herself on the bricks, rolling and talking. Carmella heads for the Grass Patch and Tikita usually just settles down after a brief walkabout.

They are so good! We couldn’t believe it. Mostly they want to eat grass and throw up. They don’t get to go back in until they do. Astrid has been a little more timid but all are progressing nicely. They pretty much stick right on the patio with us and actually let us know when they are ready to go inside. We have had a few slipped harnesses but no escapees yet. They run for the house, not away.

We are looking forward to being able to let them out when we are on a long bus trip if it’s quiet and unpopulated. We will have to start orienting them to run for the bus instead of the house. Mostly, they just stick with us.

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Carmella relaxing by the pond

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Tikita after slipping her harness. We also got Tikita a lion cut – what a difference!

 

I Forgot about the TV

We got a TV for the bus, mostly because I am a hopeless sports fanatic. Mostly football, college and professional and college basketball. Jim probably realized life would be miserable with me during certain seasons unless we had access to television. So, as usual, he went into action. Got a TV and mounted it on an articulating arm so it can fold up and be unobtrusive (most of the time). Or it can be fully articulated with angling up and down of the screen. And we had a cover made for it.

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Here it is without the arm extended or the cover. He added the velcro tab at lower left because we noticed that when you turned the bus, the TV tended to swing out. Velcro is awesome.

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Partly extended.

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With the cover on. Screen side will be toward wall of bus when covered.

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Stored and velcroed to wall. We may have to work on the velcro a bit, should have had Rebecca do that.

It’s been kind of a busy spring around here, so wanted to add this before I forgot.

Our Chairs are Gaining Weight

The slipcovers are finished. And the chairs are back in the bus. I swear those chairs get heavier every time we have to wrangle them in and out. Hopefully this is the last time.
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On the studio floor

We went up to Weave Gotcha’ Covered to pick them up April 25, they were a few days ahead of schedule. We went over the workings with Rebecca and Jessica and the ways they solved some of the problems were really ingenious and everything fits together well. I should have smoothed out the fabric before I took the pics; they fit well.
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Driver’s seat back in the bus. The slipcovers go so well with the dash.

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Passenger side

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Jim adjusted the seat belt receptor so not so much stress on the fabric. They were a little different. That’s why they need your chairs.
Before:
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We had ordered a Crypton waterproofing treatment; that only made sense. It was $100 per chair and when we saw the sample of a treated piece of material at the shop, it was like the old days. Remember when the thermometer “accidentally” broke and you could roll that lovely silver glob of mercury around in your hand? It never sunk in, just a shiny rolling disc in your hand.

When we saw that we thought, “Why wouldn’t you do this?” So the Crypton treatment people came out to the studio and sprayed it but when we tested it before leaving the shop, the water sunk right in! Hmmm. Not what we expected. The red wine would be staining our new expensive slipcovers. And yeah, I know about the Dawn/peroxide/vinegar mixture. That seems to work depending on how red the wine is. Or how much vinegar you use.

Jessica promised to get to the bottom of it and we are sure she will. It has been a pleasure to work with these women. We first contacted them in early fall of 2013. Jessica kept in touch through their busy holiday season and got it done at the end of winter. Highly recommend. Although when we told Rebecca, the person who actually created this phenomena, that other bus people might want some too, she sort of cringed. She tried not to, but she couldn’t help it. I don’t blame her. A science/engineering/spatial art/fabric project, all in one.

Except you have to take the seats out of your bus. Why are they so heavy?

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We salute you! Jessica, Rebecca, Kelly. Thanks for making it happen.

 

And One is Done

We went up to North KC today to check out the first completed slip cover for the passenger chair. Jessica had emailed us pics of the progress so far and it was looking good. Today we saw the real deal in person. You guys, this is more like an engineering project or a science project than a simple upholstery project. And, I know, who ever said upholstery was simple? Apparently we have happened upon a gem of a slip cover maker, Rebecca, to the extent that when they see her work upholsterers ask, “Is that a slip cover?” I don’t know all the ins and outs of the fabric world but to finesse the seat belt holes, skirts, pockets, piecing, Velcro, and fitting the way she has done so far, I say Hats Off!

It is actually two separate pieces, the back and the seat, with a solid and scientific but simple system of Velcro and elastic to make everything a cohesive unit.

We are looking forward to getting the driver’s seat done soon, since we definitely need to have the driver’s seat to take the bus to a big annual party on the river in way early May. And re-install the seats. Hopefully, for the last time; Jim has taken them out more times than he would have liked for various projects.

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First pic looks like a pocket but really is an access that allows you to get to the controls of the chair, recline, etc. Next pic really is a pocket. Stash your iPad here until the next turn. Maps in the old days. Magnifying glass may still apply.

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The back with a bigger map/whatever pocket. Rebecca recreated it perfectly. We are excited to see the next one. And to test them out. We are going to have them waterproofed, well, water resistant-ized, after the fabrication. So hopefully the red wine doesn’t soak in before it is sopped off.

Stay tuned.

 

One More Progress Pic

After I posted the previous photos of the slip covers, Jessica sent me another one with more progress. She says in her email, “She’s done a wonderful job with the seat belt hole!  Her seaming is beautiful!”

Here is the latest.

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