We are off!

Time to go
Our original departure window was January 7-9.  An unexpected turn of events made it important that we be in Portland, OR on January 10.  So we moved our departure window up to January 4-5 and with help from very gracious friends in the Houston area we were able to find a place to park the coach for four nights, plugged in and in a secure area while we hopped a jet to Portland.
Kansas City, MO
Turns out that was probably a good thing.  Sunday morning the 4th was below zero when we got up. We were gone in an hour and a half heading south towards Kansas City, MO.
Best buds, ready to go.
The drive was uneventful, cold but clear skies, windy, some blowing snow but no drifting or packed snow on the roadway.
Southbound from (in) the living room.  
We made a pair of movable fans to help with first-thing-in-the-morning window frost.  They work quickly.  And in the summer will keep us cool.  We take turns driving, 100 miles or a couple hours seems good.
The other driver.
It really helps. We stopped just as the sun was setting on the outskirts of KC at Camp Walmart.  We went in for a few store laps, got some milk and back to the coach in time to see Downton Abbey. We are not entirely hooked on it but sort of want to see what happens.  The historical context is interesting.
Dennison, TX 
The next morning was much warmer than the prior morning but still in the 20’s.  We were quite comfy and warm.  Got up fairly early, had some coffee and breakfast, did our normal preflight checks, oil level, coolant level, tire pressures, lights, that sort of thing and were ready to go. Southbound towards Joplin.  Susan drove through Joplin and then west towards Oklahoma.  She pulled into a truck stop, into the big boy fuel lanes and we added 50 gallons of diesel. I think that was her first time doing that. No problem.  So the further south we went the warmer it got.  40°, 50° then 60°.  Nice.  We were going to stop in Atoka, TX at a Camp Walmart but it was a small Walmart and not easy to get in to so we went another 50 miles to a much bigger Walmart in Dennison TX about 50 miles north of Dallas.  
Camp Walmarts are ok, there is a store nearby, but often there are trucks and other stuff that makes noise.  This one had us sandwiched between semi’s that all seemed to leave about 5 AM.  
We got up and got going about 9 hoping to miss most of the Dallas traffic heading for an Army Corps of Engineering campground on a reservoir near Ennis, TX a short 120 mile drive.  We went right through downtown Dallas looking left and right for the Ewings.  Never saw them but there was construction, narrow lanes and lots of traffic.we perservered and made it to the COE campground in time for lunch.  50 amp hookups, water, quiet and almost deserted. $8/night.  60’s.  Shorts! Perfect.
We drained out all of the water lines and tanks, flushed everything out, flushed it again and then added about 40 gallons of water.  Then we hooked up the hose and washed the road grime off the coach and Jeep.  Not a perfect job but we got off the salt spray and rinsed out the wheel wells.  Perfect enough.  Actually looked pretty good. All of those chores took about three hours.  Then we walked for an hour or more around the campground, a nearby picnic area and a marina.  We made pizza for dinner, watched NCIS, read for a while and went to bed.
It was about a four hour drive to the east side of Houston where we had a place to park the coach.  Another fuel stop to fill up, the price is going down as we head south. There was a lot of construction heading into Houston.  They just cram four lanes into three and have at it.  But no problem, right towards downtown Houston, around on I610 and the east in I10 to the far side of Baytown.  Houston is huge!
We parked at Ralph’s place on a lake with full hookups available. They were very accommodating and gracious hosts.
Views from Ralph’s.  Before we left for Portland and the morning after we got back.  There is a 45ft coach in Ralph’s barn and a lot more.
So this is the first leg of our travels to elsewhere. 
More to come.
Roger and Susan

Getting Ready to Go.

End of October, 2014.

When you think about being gone for a long time – for us this upcoming adventure will be about four months – you might think there is lots to think about.  There is. What clothes, what food and so on.  Actually it is much more about things to make life easier on the road and esier to be away from home.  Clothes aren’t too hard, something warm, some t-shirts, some pants, some shorts.  If we don’t have it we will get it. We take less food to start than we would for a long weekend.

We have folks watching over the house. Helpers to call if needed. The snow is being plowed. The mail is being forwarded. Monitors watch temperature and power in the house.  We have flooding detectors too.  These will alert us if there is water on the floor.  We have remote cameras watching that detect motion and send us emails when that happens.  We can remotely access those cameras for a look-see of our own.  Pretty much good to go on that front.

The coach has had all the needed and scheduled service done, systems checked and all is thumbs up there.

We put in a new refrigerator in September and gave that a test trip.  It works fine but we pulled it out and redid the exterior access hatch to improve insulation and reduce air infiltration.  I also rewired the circuit that powers the refrigerator so that the outlet that the refrigerator plugs into is now behind one of the kitchen drawers.  For whatever reason this refrigerator does not have an on/off switch. So I wired the outlet to a new switch on the front end of the kitchen cabinets and while I was at it added another 110v outlet next to the switch.  This lets us turn off the refrigerator without cutting power to that circuit.

We have just about completed our conversion to all LED lighting.  The last to get done are the insides of the inside cabinets and closets.  Just a couple left to do now but this makes a big difference.  They are on switched 12 volt circuits and have sensors in the doors so when the door is open the light is on and when you close the door the light goes off.  It really makes it easier to see what is in there and find stuff.  
I have also been adding LED lighting in the basement storage bays. These are areas that needs all the light they can get.  I am even adding lights to interior equipment bays, the engine compartment and the generator bay.  All of this makes working with the coach easier.
We were able to get TV reception in many areas in the SE US but we are pretty sure that won’t be the case out west.  So after a lot of debate we decided to add a DirecTV dish and receiver. If you want this at home you just call and they provide everything and hook it all up.  If you want this on your motorhome you buy all the parts and get someone to install it and set it up at your expense or you do it yourself. I of course chose to do it myself.
The dish is mounted on the roof.  It folds down while traveling. There are control boxes and inside wiring as well.  When you deploy the dish from the storage position shown, it rises up, unfolds and starts rotating and tilting and automatically finds the correct position to receive data from three satellites simultaneously.  It takes about 5 minutes.  
There is a Genie DVR receiver in the coach.  It can record and watch five different programs at once.  I also added new over-the-air antenna signal strength displays and amplifiers and lighting.  We still have the Bose surround sound system, cd player and blu-ray player as well.  We also have about 40 blu-ray discs with us too. And way too many remote controls.  We can be well entertained when needed.

I added new drawers under the dinette for more organized longer term storage for supplies.

We also upgraded the coach’s wifi network and 4G access to the internet.
And then we unloaded everything that was in the coach, sorted, removed, added, organized, repacked and reloaded what was left.  We ended up with more space
So all of that done we winterized the coach, put it in the barn and started our departure countdown about 8 weeks away.
More next time.
Roger and Susan