Monday, September 15, 2014

Lots to do

The countdown is on and the packing has started. At least for me it has. Chuck is leaving most of his stuff in the company apartment in Dickinson. There are things I am leaving in the RV, especially duplicates of what I have at the Catalina house and the extreme cold weather items.

We are towing the Escape back and using it as a storage trailer. Most of the boxes and tubs will be put in it and it can hold quite a lot. The Explorer will carry only the items we will need during our journey to Catalina. It is also roomy enough with the seats folded to actually sleep comfortably in the back. Sort of car camping although it will be primarily to save on hotel charges. Also Cooper can hang out in back.

Speaking of Cooper he was groomed Friday and his schnauzer cut has begun.  We kept him pretty much shaved while he's been in Tioga, just no time or a nearby groomer to keep it up. All we did was bathe him. Oro Valley Marketplace Petco has a great grooming service so we will use them as the cut grows out.  He did great at the Minot groomer and they love him. It was wonderful to find them.

I learned that there is a hurricane in Baja which will hit Tucson during our trip down. I hope it is nearly over by the time we reach there. Our property is prone to what is called sheet flooding. It means that due to the clay soil and the flatness of the area water run across the property in sheets. I have seen these be as much as 3-5 inches deep. The one time I remember it being a great thing was when we first moved out and Chuck had seeded the yard with grass seed. About two or three days later a heavy rain happened and the sheet flooding washed the manure from the neighbors horses across our grass seed.

It grew in a matter of days.

I am waiting for Chuck to arrive, and I am ready for a big hug. I hope my insomnia will go away. It has been terribly hard to get only an hour or two of sleep, or wake every hour all night. I have taken to drinking chamomile tea every night and this has helped.

Nature knew what she was doing with that one.

I am the type who remembers my dreams and this is how I know how well I sleep. I thrive on my dreams and the trips I take with them, especially when I dream of my father. I pray for dreams of dad. They are comforting since they usually involve hugging and kissing him, hearing him laugh and explaining things to me.

Oh Sarge.

I sincerely feel dreams are my mind's way of telling me what I am struggling with and the revelation of my stresses. I mull them over throughout the day as they slowly fade from my conscious mind. I have recurring dreams that happen when a certain anxiety is upon me. These are my getting away and going nowhere dreams. However since the location changes of the last several months I haven't had those. 

I guess I am a bit of a wanderer.

-N

Monday, September 8, 2014

FICM and Polar Vortex

I ordered the part for the Truck yesterday. It is the FICM, a type of truck computer and that puppy is not cheap. I was told they would ship it today by next day mail, and that is good since I have to get it and drive it down to Dickinson so Chuck can install it.  Then the old one will be returned for a refund of the core charge.  This is all rather a nuisance but it is necessary.  If we can keep the truck going for a while longer that will be very helpful financially. Of our three vehicles we are only making car payments on one of them. 

Besides the fact that I will have to transport the part to Dickinson once it arrives is that it is expected to arrive while a very cold spell is to be here.  Not exactly a polar vortex type of storm, snow is not expected, but it will be below freezing over night Wednesday and Thursday. I would rather not be driving back with the iffy roads even though the Explorer is a great vehicle with 4wd.

It looks like folks in and around Phoenix should start watching for an ark. My sister living there has posted photos of flooding. The hard desert ground can only handle so much rain at a time and many roads are closed. Tucson has seen flooding like this in the past. 1983 and 1993 both had what were called "100 year" floods.  Both were also related to low pressure weather activity from the Pacific.

Time to do some laundry.

-N

Saturday, September 6, 2014

So far its tough

Last night was not a good one. Insomnia struck with a vengeance and I got up this morning feeling really rough. I know I slept some because I remember two dreams. These were spaced between awake times and I know that it took me at least two hours to finally doze off. The last time I looked at the clock it was 1am and I must have slept for an hour because when I awoke it was 3am, then at least another hour passed before I slept again and woke at 4:30 with a painful shoulder and a headache. Got up to take advil and lay back down. I woke the last time at 6am and laid there waiting for Cooper to shake his collar, a sign that he needs to go outside. At 7:30 I let him out and got back in bed. Then Chuck called with news that the truck is causing trouble.

Now we have to spend money.

He knows what is wrong. It is a part that needs to be ordered and programmed by the vendor before it can be replaced. We have a week until we need that vehicle to tow the RV to storage. Once it is running the truck works. But the problem causes a drain on the batteries when it is parked. He has to keep the engine block heater plugged in and a charger on the batteries so it will start. Currently the truck is at his work site because it wouldn't start yesterday morning. He is getting rides. I really hope we can get it repaired so we can eventually get a new one.

All of this while he is working the night shift. It may delay our departure.

Once the RV is stored it can stay there as long as necessary. I told him that it might be a good idea for him to keep the Escape for his use rather than taking it back to Tucson. If the truck is going to keep giving us trouble I don't want him to be stranded in the freezing winter of North Dakota. He has to have a reliable vehicle. It is a bad sign when a vehicle starts to require repairs. It can nickel and dime us to death. If we have an RV we have to have a good, strong truck.

We will keep to the plan and pray that all goes well. Chuck is a pretty resourceful man and I know he understands what is required to make the repairs.

We will see.

-N

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I was protected

Yesterday was a faith builder for me. You see, one of my fears living in an RV is the threat of severe storms here in Tioga. We have had them during these six months of my stay and at first, in the winter my only anxiety was brought on by strong winds which brought with them the snow and ice. 

I have a dreadful, near phobia of wind. Strong wind.

This, I think goes back to my experience in the Philippines where my father was stationed while in the Air Force. We endured the effects of two hurricanes (cyclones in the Pacific) that caused a lot of damage. But I had a heart stopping fear of the wind. The unceasing sound of nonstop roaring and the pounding of the house by this wind and what it carried assailed me. I remember standing in my bedroom trying to stop the deluge of rain from pouring though the windows. The howling and screeching was magnified at the sight of the roof lifting six inches from the wall and slamming down again, and the rain would soak me and my things with each gale.

It was dreadful for a 14 year old girl.

I have since realized that when the wind blows, more than twenty miles per hour I am fearful and feel extremely unsafe. I cannot relax or sleep. I must wait it out because otherwise I am not prepared for the worst.  I know this seems extreme, but this fear is extreme. I would almost call it a handicap. It makes me emotional and in some situations unreasonable.

It is worse when I am alone.

In the spring we had a close call with a storm that skirted us and moved south. It produced a tornado that did great destruction to an RV park near Watford City, ND. Chuck and I watched it's progress as it crossed us, building as it went. I told him at one point it looked very unstable. We were listening to the weather radio and watching weather apps to track it's path.  It was then that I realized how precarious our situation would be should a storm like this one hit us directly. All I could think was how to get the important things to safety. After that storm Chuck and I devised an evacuation plan. His calmness and reason helped me. But by far the greatest help was my faith in God protecting us.

I have relied on that belief and those prayers dozens of times. I cannot say how many times I would see a severe storm aimed right for us and I would call out to God for his protection-even that he would change the storm's direction and severity. I have been stunned to watch this very thing happen. Without explanation a storm would move north or south, or it would lose it's powerful hail and wind strength. My prayers have always included those who might be affected by such events.

But Chuck has been with me, by my side. An earlier blog refers to one occasion that happened when he wasn't here, but my sister Mary spent the better part of an hour on the phone keeping me from panicking during one of these events. As I prayed and spoke to her the storm broke apart and moved completely away, leaving a nice refreshing rain in it's wake.

Yesterday.

It was around noon and I had the radio on listening to classical music and writing my blog, when the station gave a warning that our area was to experience a series of severe thunderstorm with the possibility of large hail, heavy rain and damaging wind with the chance of isolated tornados. My thoughts went wild with the idea of this. It was early and I didn't see any sign of a storm so I waited, trying to be busy.  Around two in the afternoon I was startled when the front door slammed shut with a strong wind gust. I checked it to make sure nothing had broken and sat back down at the computer. I looked out the west window across from me and saw that there was a large area of clouds due west. They were fairly dark so I figured they would be on the radar. I finished the blog, which was nearly completed and opened my weather app.

There it was! It was a massive storm covering western North Dakota and eastern Montana. It displayed rotating thunderstorms and in the middle the white tell-tail sign of hail.  This one was not going to miss me! That was when the first prayer went up. Now, I could not stop my storm tracking. The wind was growing, the trailer buffeted in the gusts. Not as bad as some of the winter gusts but the storm was still 30-40 miles away. I decided to distract myself somehow. I opened the weather apps on my phone and opened Netflix on my computer. I have been following this one murder mystery program so I started watching it. I sat there with the window coverings open so I could follow the advancing storm visually and as well as on the apps.  More prayers, rather pleading at this time. "Make it go north, make it drop all that hail in the vast prairie to the west, don't let the winds be more than thirty miles per hour, help me be calm and clear, don't let hit Chuck while he is working outside." On and on it went.  If someone had seen me they would have thought that crazy woman is yelling at herself. It kept building and I could see the horizontal clouds sweeping across the front of the storm.  It was tall and getting darker by the minute.

Chuck sent me a text saying he saw the radar and it looked suspicious. I replied that I was tracking it and could see it.  More prayers. It was still building and to the north the clouds looked dark green. More prayers.

Then I noticed the direction of the rotating area had changed slightly from due east to north east. Could it miss me? Then more wind, but no rain or hail.  It was close, probably ten miles, but the sky overhead was solid dark grey clouds.  More praying.  "If it is coming this way could it just skirt us?" The hail will be in the middle of this mess and that might keep me out of it. By this time I had watched an entire season one and was starting on season two.  The radar said there were more storms behind, though not at big but they were rotating as well. I remembered once hearing a meteorologist (I think it was Jim Cantore) say that many of these storms rotate but they don't always produce tornado's just a lot of downdrafts and microbursts.

Ok.

Chuck sent another text asking how it was going. I told him it was over me but only the edge of it. He said it was windy and raining there but passing quickly. I told him I was not going to be able to sleep and he said I could stay up with him. He is so good.  At that point heavy rain started to fall.  It was pounding making it hard to hear the program.  I got up. I had to look to see if there was hail. I opened the front door slightly and in the porch light I could see it was just rain, heavy Arizona monsoon storm rain.  This works for me.  It rained for nearly an hour. Cooper and I just sat, listening to the rain and the program. Watching the weather app on the phone. In the thick darkness out side the lightning was ferocious, the thunder very close at times.

Then it stopped. 

I waited a few more minutes and after a couple of small showers of short duration it stopped. I waited again and then I opened the front door-I saw stars and the moon!! It was past me and the other storms behind it had either broke up or veered south. More prayers this time of thankfulness and praise.

Chuck sent a text that they shut down due to lightning but it was past them now and things were up and running.  Thank you God.

I went to sleep.

-N

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two week countdown!

Chuck left for Dickinson to start his next two weeks on and I have my two weeks to get the RV ready for storage and determine what comes to Catalina and what stays in the trailer. Started with cleaning and sorting, there is a lot to do however, it is for the most part, the same thing. Personal items. 

Clothes and shoes, vitamins, tools and media.

I've been scheduling in my mind the logistics for moving from here to Tucson. The mail -  we have a PO box and mail forwarding. Close the box first then stop forwarding, or stop forwarding then close the box. What to keep in the RV while in storage - it will be freezing so I have to make sure any liquids are out of the trailer. Will dish soap freeze?

It was 49 this morning.

Chuck took most of his stuff to Dickinson, he has a very full room. He likes clutter. It comforts him in a way I cannot understand. To me space is clean. I don't want a counter full of stuff. Put it in a cabinet or pantry. If there is nothing on the counters it is easy to clean.  Chuck would have every appliance we have on the counters. They would be full and there would be no work surfaces.

If I'm not using it I don't want to look at it.

This is also why I don't want him cooking. I clean as I go so that once I am finished with the process the only item left is dirty dishes and many times I've done those along the way as well.  He will use every bowl, pan and utensil he can and they will be left in the sink, not rinsed, until I get to them. To me this says "Nancy clean this up" and thus my no cooking rule for him when we are together.

This also applies to the dishwasher.

Chuck's philosophy - it is a dishwasher so why wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher? He is referring to rinsing them prior to placement. I told him I always rinse the dishes before washing even if I am washing by hand. You would think he would understand that un-rinsed dish debris clogs the drainage tubes but he insists it is dissolves before it drains if the dishwasher is any good.

It is an ongoing debate.

Let's not even go into clothes washing. Just suffice to say he has killed a few washers by loading them so full and making them so heavy they don't agitate.

But he's mine!

-N

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Transition RV park culture

You've seen the photos and videos of the beautiful, pastoral mountain vista, with lush emerald grass fields and majestic pines, painting an idyllic setting for the family in the tricked out travel trailer. You watch scenes of the children happily playing on swings and slides and the family smiling and laughing, sitting around a camp fire cooking s'mores, while a large dog slumbers nearby. You know the one I mean.

Well that's not the one I live in.

First off no grass or trees, but weeds aplenty and they grow well. At one time gravel was probably put down in the spaces but it has long since been driven over, shoveled under and piled in corners. The road is dirt, not too bumpy and the spaces are roomy enough, but the trailers are a mixed bag of all different sizes, ages and styles. Almost all of them have skirting for cold weather insulation. This skirting ranges from the nice, custom, heavy duty vinyl that's color coordinated and firmly affixed to the trailer to pieces of plywood, OSB and insulating foam (blue or white) attached with screws and/or expanding spray on foam adhesive.

Nearly everyone has a satellite dish, and some have two with cables running everywhere. Heavy duty extension cords run from electric pedestals, under trailers and through the sides of the RV pop-outs, and used to power who knows what. Some folks have large buckets with tomato's and other vegetables growing. Some have work areas for car repairs and many have mud rooms built over the front door to catch the filthy, muddy boots and work clothes and to keep freezing air from blasting into the trailer.

When an RV pulls out the empty space is swarmed over by various tenants set on recovering left behind items like plywood, insulating foam board, water hoses and structures like mud rooms and sheds. The only item no one takes-generally-are left behind used sewer pipes. The manager hauls these off.

There isn't a sense of community here.

It's as though you really don't want to make friends since this isn't home and you really are transient. Everyone is from somewhere else. Sometimes a couple of people will work together on moving something, vehicle repairs or hauling something off but it really isn't that kind of community.  But, considering the options for RV living in Tioga, this place is as good as any and probably better. They are constantly working on various improvements, but a very short outdoor working season means the priorities are handled first and after that it's putting out fires. This isn't a place you want your children to live in for very long. People with families go back home. If the family comes they don't stay long.

I haven't minded too much. Tioga the town is a welcoming and pleasant place.

Our 5th wheel RV is a nice size (32ft) for extended living with room to spread out, lots of storage and everything works. If it were set up in one of those picture perfect sites it would fit easily, but it is going into winter storage. I must say I am looking forward to being back in Catalina just for the space alone. I will miss Tioga. Chuck will be pretty well set up in his townhouse in Dickinson since after this much time he has figured out what he really needs to be comfortable is a bathroom, refrigerator, washer/dryer, plenty of food and drinks, laptop, TV and movies.

Transition.

-N

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What's next?

Chuck and  I have spent the last three days planning, laughing and getting jobs done. We have been making lists of things he is taking back to Dickinson when he goes back to work and what we will haul back to Tucson. We need to make the RV as light as possible for the trip to Bismarck. It will be easier on the truck.

Chuck will be taking the small refrigerator we put in the RV since he shares a townhouse with 3 guys their fridge is pretty full. He is taking a 15" flat screen TV so he can watch DVD's. This isn't the big one that came with the RV. He will be taking all his clothes and personal things that he had left here.

After he goes back I will have two weeks to get my stuff together. Since the RV won't be going back to Tucson I won't need my cold weather stuff so it will stay.

I am feeling a bit better about him being by himself since he learned from me how to organize his time for laundry, cooking and stuff while I took care of him. Also the good thing about where he is now is the work load is much easier on him physically and he likes his crew. It seems to be a good balance.

Skype is great. It was such a good thing when I was in Catalina and we have used it since he relocated. We don't feel so distant.

I can't believe how well I am sleeping since he got here.

I have bad insomnia, it's pretty chronic. Since he has been here I haven't had it at all. Of course we stay up much too late but I did that before and it didn't help. I get nervous sometimes at night, especially if I hear people walking around. It is close quarters in an RV park. I asked him to put some sort of security lock on the screen door. Cooper is not a dog to bark if someone is walking around or comes to the door so he is no help as a warning.

I will be ok.

I had a chat with my nephew and he said the Catalina place is a jungle of weeds. Since the first of July they have had seven inches of rain!! Of course I leave and we have the best monsoon in years. Was watching video of flooding north of Phoenix. Looks really bad. We are expecting three days of heavy rain here starting tonight. Highs will be in the low 60's and Sunday the low temps are forecasted in the 40's.

This is my kind of weather.

-N