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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My "exciting" life - Day 1334 (Year 4, Day 239)

Williamsburg, VA

Another 2 weeks have passed since my last post.  Hard to believe; it feels like I just posted a few days ago!  How do we keep time from flying by?

Obviously, not much exciting has happened as it's been work, work, work.  Mitch has had quite a number of days off due to the rain and very muddy conditions (very thankfully, not more snow or ice).  At least this gave him an opportunity to catch up on a number of back burner projects he's been meaning to accomplish, and I also gave him some work for my company (A-Z Admin Solutions: www.AZAdminSolutions.com, in case anyone's interested!).  We both agree that it would be wonderful if I could hire him full time, but alas, the workload isn't enough right now to warrant that.  Although, admittedly, a huge project has come in that I don't have (1) the desire, or (2) the time to complete myself and have hired a really awesome subcontractor to help me with.

My "excitement" of the week has been discovering a bald eagle!!  Very sadly, I don't have a camera that could zoom in close enough to get a good shot, although I was able to clearly identify it using binoculars and various bird identification tools.  Here's the best I could do photographically zoomed (it is really majestic when it's flying):



One thing I do find disappointing is our lack of seeing wildlife.  For example, this campground is divided into the front and back sections.  There are loads of deer in the back section (we're in the front) and I have yet to see a single one.  Mitch said he saw baby bears in Asheville (I didn't) but other than many different kinds of bugs, we haven't experienced much.

Regarding synagogue services, we have not gone for quite a while.  I guess we both sort of decided that it just wasn't worth the 25 mile schlep.

This past weekend, as seems to always be the case, the weather was miserable.  We ended up on Sunday just running a bunch of shopping errands (including a trip to Michaels to buy a replacement clock mechanism) and then spent the remainder of the day watching downloaded movies.

Regarding next steps for travel:  it was suggested to Mitch that our next assignment will be in Salt Lake City, Utah.  On one hand, this sounded really exciting as we haven't been out west before.  On the other hand, it's a 5000 mile round trip.  Three out of four parts of our cursed Ford 6.0L engine have been replaced to date but we were warned the last part (the head gasket, the most expensive of all) is due to blow at any given time.  Since the trip would take us 50% of the way through "fly over country" -- the Midwest with nothing but farmland and tiny cities hundreds of miles apart (kind of like our travels in the Dakotas), and then the rest of the way through the mountains and steep grades (towing 20K pounds), we decided we didn't really want to take the risk of this kind of travel at this point.  Mitch asked his supervisor to please keep us on the east coast, which he agreed to.  We will most likely be here until some time (end?) of March but it's unclear where we'd be going next.  So far, it seems like the highest possibilities are either NJ, or Asheville or Raleigh, NC.  Will keep you posted....

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Finally got out! Day 1319 (Year 4, Day 224)

Williamsburg, VA

I can't believe it's been over 2 weeks since I've written.  I guess life has just been that boring, particularly due to the extreme cold and snow.  Even taking a little walk around the campground is a bit difficult without heavy boots because we're in the woods and with the exception of gravel on our site, everything else is dirt, which turns to mud when the snow melts or when it rains (and it takes days and days to dry up).

For the past few days, the temps have finally gotten above freezing.  In fact, it was in the mid 60's over the weekend, and in the low 70s today.  It was semi-dry on Saturday, so Mitch and I took a little Shabbat walk around the campground, although it was somewhat limited where we could go due to a lot of mud.

On Sunday, it was another gorgeous day, so we decided to return to Colonial Williamsburg and visit the art museums.  The museums are housed in a building that used to be a mental institution (hospital) back in the 1700s.  The entrance to the museum starts you off going thru the hospital (mini-museum).  It was really quite horrific the way those with mental illness were perceived and treated (worse than criminals).

The museum is actually 2 separate museums: 1 dedicated to folk art such as sculptures, kitch, instruments, ceramics and paintings.  The other is dedicated more towards fine art including furniture and antiques.  Unfortunately, we didn't leave home until 1:00 pm.  We had hoped to park closer to the museum rather than at the visitor's center (where we'd need to take the shuttle bus, and the museum is the 2nd to last stop on the loop).  Unfortunately, this area is not at all truck friendly, so we landed up at the visitor's center anyway, thus wasting about 45 minutes.  It was nearly 2:00 by the time we got to the museum.  There really is so much to see there, but we were only able to visit about 4 galleries.  Definitely need to return there again.

Yesterday (Monday) was another relatively nice day; in the 60's and partly sunny.  I have a large workload but did force myself to take a little walk in the afternoon.

Last night and this morning we had torrential downpours.  Although it's in the 70s today and by the afternoon, bright and sunny, there was no way I could go out walking as there was way too much mud to even approach the road.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tires, but not much else - Day 1303 (Year 4, Day 208)

Williamsburg, VA

I do wish I could post lots of photos of fun places we've been to, but life is "a day in the life" and nothing at all exciting.

We have not been going to shul lately because the services just don't seem to warrant the 1/2 hour schlep (and construction zone stress).  For the past 2 weekends, we also haven't gone out to explore because I just didn't feel like going out in the cold.

Mitch has had lots of time off since the last posting due to the weather - lots of snow.  It finally melted and he was able to return for a day or 2, but now there's another storm.  He worked today, but I'm sure he'll be off again tomorrow.  I'm not sure how much comfort I find in the fact that most of the country, including the southern states such as TX and FL, are also experiencing this severe winter weather, so I don't feel as terrible not being assigned there.

Regarding the tires, since the last post, he had another flat tire, also most likely due to the ditch incident.  This week has cost us about $700 in tires.  We also needed to replace a monitoring sensor which was lost in the ditch.  Sigh.  I suppose it could still be a lot worse.

I'm also starting to feel isolated and lonely.  Although I have nice neighbors, I'm not comfortable just knocking on their doors to say hi (although I'm gearing up to do that.  In fact, as I write this, I think tomrrow I may go to Nancy/Steve on the left and Carol Leigh/Chuck/Janice on the right and set something up for all of us to just hang out.  Be nice to do over a campfire but it's way too cold for that).  Due to the harsh cold, I have had no inclination to take my daily walk in sub-freezing temps (I still don't own a heavy winter coat). I have "hitch itch" already, although it does look like we'll be here until March.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

One of those (expensive) days... Day 1297 (Year 4, Day 202)

Williamsburg, VA

First, it should be noted, that Mitch has been off of work most of this week due to the snow we had, then ice, then everything being too wet for the equipment to work properly (yes, at least he's still getting paid, and I'm getting to see what it will be like someday when we're both under the same roof 24/7!!!  No comment, 😀).

Mitch attempted to go to work this morning (he always leaves between 5:30 and 6:00 am).  The road to the highway is a narrow, 2 lane road with a lot of curves - for about 2 miles.  There was a car coming from the opposite direction, going way too fast and appeared (in the dark) to be over the divider.  As a knee-jerk reaction, Mitch swerved right to avoid being hit.  Unfortunately, to his right, was a deep ditch.  This is how Mitch landed in a very muddy ditch (note the 45 degree angle):



Fortunately, he wasn't hurt and there didn't appear to be any damage to the truck. He called a towing company to pull him out.  Fortunately, it was another called off day at work due to conditions still being too wet, so he saved having to travel 60 miles round trip to find that out (like he did for the past 2 days).

Anyway, he was home for a bit.  We needed some groceries and my work load was on the light side, so I decided to join him on a trip to the supermarket at 11:30 am.

He fell into the ditch about a mile from the campground.  I drove, and he asked me to stop -- to pull into the nearest side street -- so he could attempt to find the tire sensor that came off in the mud (he looked and decided to forego it as there was just too much mud and he'd never find it; just need to buy another $50 replacement).  Anyway, he got back into the truck, I turned the corner, and heard a loud POP -- the front passenger tire blew out.  Probably had something to do with the earlier accident.

We were on a residential street and were able to pull over in front of someone's house.  Apparently, the owners were home and heard the pop, and came out to investigate.  Now, we have a spare tire but we keep it in the the basement of the rig as there's no room in the truck.  It's a good, full sized tire (not an emergency one).  The gentleman from the house graciously offered to give Mitch a ride back to the trailer to get the tire so roadside assistance could just switch it out instead of us having to get a tow to somewhere (THERE ARE STILL LOTS OF GOOD PEOPLE OUT THERE!!!).

Anyway, it took about an hour, but the company finally came and switched the tires.  We drove to the closest supermarket.  When we went above 20 mph, the truck shook like crazy.  No clue why.  However... knowing that there's heavy rain in the forecast for tomorrow, Mitch suspects there's a 99% chance he won't be working again. He made an appointment for a local diesel mechanic to do our oil/filter change (our neighbor, Nancy, will drive him to/fro).  We will purchase a new tire from them and have them check out why the vibrations (may have something to do with the settings for 4 wheel drive?  It only started once the tire was changed).

Oh - about the title - expensive because instead of calling either one of 2 of our roadside assistance plans this morning, Mitch found a local towing company and had them pull him out.  Not covered if there's no pre-authorization.  His rationale was that they could come out immediately so he could return to work, rather than wait 1++ hours for somewhere else to be dispatched.

We returned from shopping around 3:00 pm.  When Mitch had to get the tire, it required removing pretty much everything from the basement.  He spent the rest of the afternoon not only trying to put everything back, but also taking out our power washer and trying to get all the mud and leaves off the truck.

As I said... what a day!!!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Chillin' - Day 1293 (Year 4, Day 198)

Williamsburg, VA

Actually, it's the wine that's chilling:



As for me, I'm frigid.  During the night on Friday, we ran out of propane in one of the tanks so we woke up to the room being 30 degrees!!! (we have a thermometer, so I'm not exaggerating.  We could see our breath.  It was very painful to get out of bed, at least until Mitch was able to go outside and switch over to the other tank).

I HATE the winter and really don't want to be here for the duration.  I haven't even desired to go out and do touristy things as I just don't want to step outside in the single digit temps.  Mitch is going to ask his boss if there's anything in FL or AZ but I'm not too hopeful.

At least tomorrow it'll be in the 40's, 50s Tues and up near 70 on Thursday!!!  Then back to freezing by Monday.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Winter :( -- Day 1291 (Year 4, Day 196)

Williamsburg, VA

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate winter??? (then again, I hate any extreme temperatures).

As mentioned in my previous 2 posts, most of the US is experiencing an Arctic freeze.  Over the last day or 2, there was a huge storm along the East coast that produced not only below zero temps and wind chills, but snow -- all the way down to Florida!!!

Here in Williamsburg, we were not spared.  Fortunately, not as bad as some other parts of the country, especially New England, but still pretty bad.  Mitch was off of work Thurs and today (Fri) due to the snow and ice.  Here's a photo from our back window.  We only received about 3 inches, but still.... we never planned to be in this type of weather when we decided to full time. As always, "man plans, God laughs."  Pretty, and thankful that we don't need to shovel the driveway, but still -- would prefer to be in a warmer climate. 



Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years 2018 - Day 1287 (Year 4, Day 192)

Williamsburg, VA

We rang in the new year last night, sort of.  Like the previous year, we just hung out and didn't even break out the Scrabble board.  We did play some music and even danced a little, and we made a nice batch of low carb vegetarian nachos (using almond flour, the way I make my crackers, and without the beans) and drank wine (no mixed drinks like in the past). Then we watched a movie - the totally wrong one for a festive day:  "Manchester by the Sea."  It was an excellent movie but an extremely depressing story (I had thought it would be a "feel good" movie, but boy was I wrong!)  The movie ended just on time to watch the ball drop (on tv, of course).  It was extremely quiet here; not even a single fire cracker (then again, it's about 10 miles to "civilization" and the campground here is officially closed except for the quiet section we're in which is for long termers -- mostly seasonal contract workers like us).  We went to bed at 12:30, got out of bed this morning at 10:00!  Taking it real slow, easy and lazy today.

We're also in the middle of an arctic freeze.  Wind chill this morning was 8 degrees!  Pretty much the whole country is feeling it, and much of the northeast is getting hit hard with a lot of snow.  We need to keep the water running in the sink so the lines don't freeze up (it did a few days ago because I accidentally shut it off and remembered 2 hours later, by which time it was all a block of ice in the hose and at the spigot.  Fortunately, it warmed up to about 36, so it melted the ice.  Water has been left on ever since).  We're also using at least 1 40# tank of propane per week as the furnace automatically kicks on at around 35 degrees (otherwise it's the electric heat pump which is part of the a/c unit).  Normally, when we're not in a winter climate, we use a 40# tank about every 6-8 months; sometimes a bit more frequently if we boondock a lot or have electrical problems and need to run the generator (which we don't that often).  I hate extreme temps, but am grateful I get to stay indoors (even though I wear a 2 long sleeve shirts and a sweatshirt with a hood, gloves, and sit in front of a space heater), while Mitch has to be outside working in the biting cold.

As I look back on 2017, the world became a very scary place.  I pray that things take a turn for the better this coming year.  For us, personally, it was a productive year work-wise and we did get to visit some interesting places.  I'm hoping that 2018 brings us a bit farther west; particularly to Arizona and/or New Mexico.  We've been at the beach, by lakes and in the mountains.  Haven't done the desert yet.