Author Archives: Rat Race Retirees

First Trip of 2018

I work full time writing software and spend part time maintaining the software I wrote for a previous employer. They never hired someone to replace me and instead pay me to fix what comes up. The upgrade to Windows 10 has been a boon to my savings account. So when I found out I have extra vacation time to burn from my full time job, I volunteered to show up for a week and catch up on things.

My boss there has 40 acres on the Platte River and said if I bring the RV I can hook up to his power and stay out there. He would give me a ride to work in the mornings and back in the evenings. Sounds good to me.

As I wrote before, it’s been a hectic couple of months. I just barely had time to dewinterize the RV and didn’t have a chance to check it fully before taking off.

I made the trip without any real issues. The fridge wouldn’t cool down on propane so I need to look at that. I turned the water heater on when I got up and didn’t have warm water after a while. I had to leave that to look at after work. The good news is the air conditioner and microwave work, and so does the water pump.

When I got back from work I checked the water heater again. I accidentally left it on all day and it was plenty hot. The best I can figure is I turned it to heat on the electric instead of the usual propane and it must take longer. I will have to get up earlier in the morning and maybe have breakfast first.

I still need to clean the air conditioner filters, change the batteries in the smoke detectors and CO detector and a few other things. But if you’re going to work on things then this isn’t the worst place in the world to do it.

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De Winter Blues

It’s finally spring and time to get out the RV. We had a really long winter and I was really desperate to dewinterize but had to keep holding off because of the temps. In early May I figured we were finally able to get out our baby and dewinterize.

Our schedules have been crazy this last April and May so this was easier said than done. We had a graduation in Illinois coming up over Mother’s Day weekend and I needed to use the RV the next week so I had to get it done the week before Mother’s Day. I picked up a checklist on how to dewinterize and it suggested when I sanitize the lines I let the bleach sit in the lines for 12 hours.

I had a time getting out in the mornings because for some reason I kept having reasons to be to work on time so being late wasn’t going to cut it. I finally found a morning that would work and the evening before I cleaned the antifreeze from the lines and added the bleach and water. That next morning I let the water tank drain and got to fill it up with clean water a couple of times.

I dumped the tanks in the yard, which was a mistake. I must have broken loose some toilet paper from the black tank. Oops. I cleaned up what I could. The neighbor that takes care of that side of the yard isn’t going to be too happy.

I checked the tire pressure the day I was supposed to leave for my business trip. Another mistake; I should have done that earlier. The tires were all low so I took it to the RV dealer in town. I needed more propane so they added that. They checked the air pressure and agreed it was low but wouldn’t fill up the tires. I found a mechanic down the road that said he’d take a look at it. He filled up what he could but couldn’t get the inside duallies to take any air. Sigh. I called an RV dealer in Council Bluffs and they said they don’t do tires, they hire a local place close by. I called them and they said sure, bring it in. I did and they got the rims off and the inside tires filled up quickly.

I should have scheduled more time to get all this done. I also need to print out a list of steps and what I’ll need so that I can have everything together and a better plan in place.

Expenses for Our Rocky Adventure

We just got back from our trip to the Rockies and today I sat down and tallied up what we spent.

Getting Some Gas

The biggest expense, of course, was gas. We spent $335 on gas to drive from Omaha to Denver and back, with some stops along the way. According to the spreadsheet I kept for our travels we got 14 mpg on our trip, averaging 75 mph on the interstate and doing plenty of mountain driving.

Feed Me!

The next highest expense at $92 was food. It was strictly eating out and buying us and the kids some coffee before dropping them off. We didn’t include the money we spent on the food we took with us. We cooked breakfast in the RV each day and supper for two nights, and bought meals every other time. We could have done better on this point.

Staying Over

Next up was our campground expense. We only spent $56 on that for the two nights we spent in campgrounds. We could have done better on that, too, by not spending the night in North Platte.

Miscellaneous

The last expense was miscellaneous expenses and that amounted to $34. We paid to get into the park and bought a few things along the way.

Final Thoughts

We had a great trip and even though it was rushed, it was fun. We definitely couldn’t have taken it in Cousin Eddie where we got 8 mpg on a good day. And we couldn’t have fit into our campsite with Cousin Eddie. Trading off to get Sparky was a great choice and it fit us well.

A Quick Trip to the Rockies, Part 2

We woke up around 3:30 a.m. to the sound of some light rain. We slept a couple more hours and got up to walk the dog.

We weren’t in the hours to run a generator yet so we warmed up some water on the stove and used the hot water to make coffee. We made some breakfast and packed up. We wanted to get some pictures of the park before starting to head home.
coffee and eggs

We started off for the visitor center, stopping at some overlooks along the way. We were heading up in elevation and Mother Nature wasn’t in a good mood. We passed a warning sign about icy roads and then it started snowing. We got pulled over at the visitor center by the park rangers, who had closed the road past that point. They said there were too many wrecks there.

We hung out in the parking lot for an hour or so with some other people who stayed with us to keep warm. They were running low on gas.

icy conditions.pg

The rangers later told us we could backtrack and leave the park through Grand Lake. It was a roundabout way to get home but we took it. There was still a lot of nice scenery out there.

fall colors

We took Highways 34 and 40 through Grand Lake and Granby and caught I-70 west of Denver. I-70 is sure a pain to drive out there with all the traffic. The road was taking us past where I used to work when I lived out there so we stopped. I used to be a photo lab manager for Wal-Mart and the store outside Evergreen, Colorado, was my first lab. We did some shopping and looking around, and then it was time to hit the road.

walmart

We caught I-70 to I-76 and followed that to I-80 in Nebraska. We stopped at North Platte, Nebraska, for the night and got a shower. We had a quiet night there at an RV park and hit the road.

We had a quiet drive back in time to pick up the kids at 3 and head home.
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A Quick Trip to the Rockies, Part 1

We had a wonderful opportunity this last weekend when the kids had a three-day weekend. They were going to be out of town and we decided to treat ourselves to a quick trip somewhere. We packed up Sparky and made the decision on the way to drop off the kids.

We got the kids dropped off just after 6 p.m. and drove west on I-80. I just love driving Sparky because of the big windshield. We filled up at a truck stop and got some supper on the road. I called an old friend and took him up on his offer to spend the night. We pulled into Kearney at close to 10 p.m. and had a wonderful night in the quiet country.

Friday morning we were up early and made coffee. We walked Toby around the property and packed up to leave. We were only half an hour from where I used to live so we stopped where I used to work and visited with everyone. I told them when they leave their front door open people like me walk in.

We took Highways 6 and 34 west across the southern side of Nebraska and caught I-76 and some side roads to Estes Park, Colorado. We stopped at the Rocky Mountain National Park Visitor Center and got our national parks book stamped. We got our daily pass and drove to the other side of the park to get a spot for the night. We stayed at Timber Creek Campground, which doesn’t take reservations. We got the last spot for the night.

I was sick as a dog on the way up there. It has been a long time since I have been up that high and it wasn’t treating me well. We got set up, took the dog for a walk and had a quick bite to eat before calling it a night.

We did get some pictures and driving to the campground and within the campground. We even had some elk walking through the site.
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Moochdocking At Its Finest

While on our way from Omaha to the Rocky Mountain National Park, we stopped at a friend’s house to spend the night. He and his wife have close to 40 acres of land just off I-80. He always said we could stop by and stay with the RV so I called him up and drove on over.

We got in at close to 10 pm and chatted a bit. Toby loved playing with their dog Myah as they ran all around the open field. Maybe we need to take him to a dog park.

Jim has a light pole with a 50 Amp hookup so we pulled over there and plugged in. We didn’t need the A/C because it was a cool night. We opened the windows and had a great night of sleep. It was dark out and no noise whatsoever.

I had the alarm set so we got up and made some coffee. We took Toby for a walk near the RV and went to see a tiny cabin that Jim and his wife have as a rental. We have considered buying some land in Tennessee and putting a tiny house on it so it was nice to look around and see how it fit.

Stopping there was a great idea. We had a great night and it was free!
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Less Stuff

We are still a few years from hitting the road but that hasn’t kept us from dreaming and watching others that are living it right now.

We watch YouTube videos and spend time out camping. Some of the channels we keep up with are

One of the things they all have in common is they minimized their stuff before taking off. And they all realized they needed less stuff on the road.

Getting rid of stuff is definitely a step we can take now to get ready. Giving stuff away helps reduce stress. It doesn’t seem right but clean up a mess and see how you feel looking at that empty space.