10 Things I learned in Our New RV

Well it’s been a while since I last posted, but believe me it’s been a busy couple of months. We picked up our brand new RV back in March and have spent the weeks since hopping around from campground to campground and resort to resort trying to work the kinks out. Not only that, but also to orient ourselves to our new and much smaller surroundings. It’s amazing what you can do without, but also what things you must have. Anyway, I thought it was time to post a quick list of 10 things I/we have learned in our RV on our maiden voyages.

1. When you think you have it all figured out you don’t – This is pretty much straight forward.  After pouring over all the manuals and guides that are supplied with the RV, I thought we had a good handle on things. Turns out things don’t always work the way they do under perfect conditions in your driveway at home. There is no substitute for real life. So take the time necessary to get well versed in everything before venturing too far away. Ask lots of questions of other RV’ers as you meet them along the way.  Their knowledge is a great resource.

20170408_1219272.  The convenience (or not) of free WiFi – “Free WiFi” as well as “WiFi available” seem to be fairly loose terms and definitely open to interpretation.  The term “free” is accurate and appreciated by all. After all who doesn’t like something for nothing?! The trouble is, and what they don’t tell you, is you may only be able to get the WiFi in front of the office or some other obscure area other than in your RV when you are trying to log onto Netflix. Available WiFi has the same pitfalls and it may mean you are logging in and checking emails while sitting in the laundry room. laundry-1

3.  Navigation Systems – This one always makes me laugh because I think more often than not our Navi systems are meant to get us lost, take us down roads we don’t want to go, or nag us into pulling over and giving up for the day. The Navi system in our new RV is not what you would call “user friendly”. Once we finally get the coordinates entered into her memory she constantly tells me what to do and when I don’t listen (sometimes I don’t hear too), then she wants me to make a “legal” U-turn when safe to do so. A safe U-turn, with a 25 foot RV, while driving down the open highway?  I could drive for an hour before I arrived at a truly “safe” place to U-turn. Sometimes I find myself arguing with her and finding I need to justify my actions.  If I was married to my Navi system it would definitely be divorce city.  Remember, there is no substitute for a beautiful wing-“woman” sitting in the chair beside you as you travel down the highway. Take what Miss Navi says with a grain of salt and move on.

4.  Camping Mats and Skylights – The addition of a great outdoor camping mat not only provides a great look and feel to your outdoor space but they also are nice to walk on with your bare feet. Built in sky lights in your RV roof provide great sun light into the RV which is especially nice on those early morning travel days.  20170510_184924I have learned the hard way that this is not the only function they serve. It seems that from the air both provide great targets for flying bombers of the bird variety. 20170528_180132It wouldn’t be so bad if they only dropped their turd bombs on the glass, but they also complete bombing runs on our outdoor mat – of course usually right after I have just laid it down on the ground or swept it. Make a note – bucket for washing needed and a stiff brush.

5.  Hot showers – The vast majority of RV resorts and campgrounds provide showers for your use and in some of them they are free of charge.  The ones that charge (usually a dollar) will take quarters or “loonies” in Canada and will last 5 to 8 minutes. The part you can usually count on is once you have deposited the money in the slot and the water has started it will take you the next 3 to 4 minutes just to regulate the temperature.  Next you get shampoo on your head and soap on your body just in time for the money/time to run out.  Now you will find yourself blindly feeling around trying to get a loonie or 4 quarters into the machine hoping you don’t electrocute yourself.  Moral of the story is wash fast.

6.  Drinking and Cooking – Now this hasn’t actually happened to us and we hope it doesn’t, but definitely could have. StoveThis warning comes from some friends we met at an LTV (Leisure Travel Vans) rally a few weeks ago.  They had finished a nice dinner (and wine of course) and didn’t realize they had left one of the propane stove burners on really low (almost invisible to the naked eye).  They closed the glass lid that covers the stove and went outside.  At some point they went back into the RV to find the glass had heated to the point that it shattered. This is the type of lesson that should never occur more than once, that’s for sure. P.S. – things like this are not covered on warranty.

7.  Sewer hookups vs Sani Dumps – This is kind of a silly one but I will chalk it up to being a newbie RV’er and not always thinking before doing.  When we have been booking campgrounds we always try to get full hook-ups (electrical, water, sewer, etc.). We like the convenience of having water and power during our stay.  We choose not to hook-up our sewer lines and only use the holding tanks during our stay. Again, I blame this on being a newbie as well as comfort level with the whole black water tank idea.  Anyway, the funny part of this is that the first time we took the RV to a campground, even though we had a sewer line right beside the RV, we drove to a separate sani- dump station after we packed up and left the campground. DUH! Why would anybody do that…..lol. Lesson learned.

8.  Pre-delivery Inspections – This one is for the new RV owners.  Once you get your RV home check it, check it, check it….and then once more. Case in point. We bought ours brand new and not only did it go through a pre-shipping inspection at the factory it also went through a full pre-delivery inspection to make sure everything was in working order.  We took possession of ours in March and in our first 4 or 5 short trips we never had any real warm weather.  But then we spent a week in Osoyoos in southern British Columbia and the temperatures rose to around +34 degrees Celsius. We go to turn on our bright and shiny new air conditioner and it failed.  It functioned well and blew lots of air, just not cold. After operating it for a while, the temperature actually went up in the RV.  So even though you may not need it at the time, try all or your appliances, furnaces, water heaters, etc. “before” you go out on your first trip. Thankfully our RV Dealer and the manufacturer have been fantastic about addressing everything that has needed attention.

9.  Micro Wave and Convection Ovens – Our RV has a combination microwave and convection oven.  This is a great convenience to have on the road because it allows you to bake and roast things or just simply use the microwave function to warm things up.  Where you get yourself into trouble is when you try to do both one after another.  On one particular occasion we had just baked some chicken breasts on convection in the oven and had just removed them.  We also had something to warm up in a Tupperware dish so we put it in the oven and turned on the microwave function not realizing the oven was still very hot inside.  Not only did we warm up the item, but we also managed to permanently change the shape of the Tupperware dish!  Moral of the story is to use the microwave first!

10.  Batten Down the Hatches – You usually spend a lot of time getting the inside of your RV ready to go before your first trip.  5161956You put everything into the cupboards, storage areas, cabinets, and most importantly the fridge.  As a new RV owner what you’re not thinking about is when you make everything just right at home in your driveway, you aren’t moving, or turning, or going over a speed bump in a parking lot.  So as you start your engine, put on your new Ray Bans, turn on some Jimmy Buffett music and smile over at the love of your life, take one more second and ask yourself did we batten down the hatches?  If not, the first crash you hear will like be everything falling over in the fridge followed next by every spice jar and can in the pantry cupboard. Every time you put something into storage, think of how it may launch itself into the stratosphere as you pull out of your driveway and onto the big open highway?

I am Feeling Consta-Patient-ed – Are You?

Have you ever gone through a time in your life where you feel like your patience is constantly being put to the test almost to the point of breaking? I am not talking about the normal work week or life event that brings about some level of frustration but them quickly subsides as you move on to something else.  I am talking about a slow-moving, restricted and inhibited intolerance for delays and/or problems “without” becoming annoyed or anxious. If I could Google a definition or get a prognosis for this overwhelming feeling I believe it would come down to “Consta-Patience”. No matter how many times you bite your tongue, take a deep breath, sigh, or send a positive message to the universe it doesn’t help. There are days when it seems like (on the surface) that everyone is there just to annoy me and press the last nerve I have.  This is, of course, is not the case and often a well-timed knock on the side of the head can do wonders to snap me back into the present.

In life there will be lots of challenges that come our way and test our resolution.  They will stifle our ability to breath while drowning in a pit of “will you stop bugging me”?  In the not to distant past I had my many moments of silence seeking hope where I could take a moment to catch my breath.  I needed to take stock of what is important, focus on those things and the many gifts I have in my life that I am truly thankful for.  I have great kids, the love of an amazing woman, good health that has followed me into my early retirement, and recently a relocation to an oasis of outdoor beauty with opportunities to grow. These are the things I need to focus on and keep myself steady, all while taking deep breaths and remembering to “slow down” in a sort of smell the roses kind of way.  As the great American poet Jimmy Buffet says, “go fast enough to get there and slow enough to see”.

 

Not Shaken or Stirred – Part 2

Quite some time ago I posted a blog article on mastering the architecture and construction of the perfect vodka martini. Today’s lesson focuses on its close second cousin the Gin martini.

To quote the famous super spy James Bond, “It’s time to get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini!” Well even if the person you are preparing the martini for isn’t soaking wet or in a bikini, it is always nice to prepare the perfect dry martini (the dryer the better in my mind).  By perfect, I mean perfect according to The Retiree Diary of course, as the classic martini tends to be beauty in the eyes of the beholder and the taste buds of the mixologist.  My wonderful fiancé and partner in life introduced me to martinis years ago and they are something that have evolved over the years as my tastes changed and evolved.  Now I am very picky (we both are) about this somewhat sophisticated libation. Regardless of the real time they come out (before dinner) it will always be known as “Toonie Time”.  To be perfectly honest they taste wonderful regardless of time zones or locations as long as you have fun and practice safe sipping.

Before I get to the actual recipe – do you call it a recipe?  I have to say that the alcohol you use has a lot to do with how great the finished product tastes in the end… or the beginning.  Mr. Bond preferred vodka martinis and we are the same, although we do go back to gin martinis once in while and thus the subject of today’s lesson.  For our gin martinis we use the one and only Bombay Sapphire!wpid-dsc_0304.jpg

wpid-dsc_0007.jpgLike other relatives of the libation nation you ALWAYS keep the gin in the freezer to keep it as cold as possible. Great gins (like vodkas) are so smooth when they come straight from the freezer and I find this to be a critical element.  To go with your frozen gin is a frozen martini glass, so ALWAYS keep the martini glasses in the freezer too.  Have you ever tasted a martini in a warm glass?  It’s not cool (no pun intended) and unfortunately most bartenders don’t place enough emphasis on this point.  Some will chill the glasses ahead of time with ice cubes but this is a poor substitute.  So get those sexy martini glasses in the freezer with the gin.  I titled this blog post, “Not shaken or stirred” and I will tell you why.   Bond got it wrong either way.  In both cases it introduces water into the gin and can bruise it when shaken.  Why would you want to pay for an expensive gin and then water it down before you get to taste and enjoy it?

My next important point is the added introduction of vermouth.  With our vodka martinis we NEVER use it and prefer the vodka just straight up and frozen. For our gin martinis we do like a mild hint of vermouth.  For this reason we prefer to use a vermouth sprayer wpid-dsc_0009.jpgto gently mist the vermouth over the already poured gin or directly into the martini glass before pouring the gin. We usually add just one or two squirts.

The final piece to this marvellous puzzle is the crowning glory, the olive (s)!  We prefer (love actually) olives hand stuffed with orange and lemon peel.  The citrus flavours of the orange and lemon go wonderfully with the characteristics of the gin.  A perfect combo every time.

So there you have it Retiree Diary readers.  The perfect gin martini and your homework for this weekend.  Cheers!

Retirement – Step One

Step one – get your house in order and I mean this figuratively.

Stepping into retirement really is about steps. Lots of them…treadmills, parks, pathways and beaches. I have known people over the years when asked about what the first thing they are going to do is, say “get their house in order”! Well, Ok this follows a quick second to they would sleep for a week. I can’t count the number of people that said to me in the first few weeks I was off work, “hey its a little early for you to be up isn’t it”? I just smiled and said “nope”! They would go on to exclaim that if it was them they would sleep for a week or more. As Sam Elliott put it so eloquently in the CLASSIC movie Road House, “I’ll get plenty of sleep when I am dead”.

I remember when my Dad retired after almost 38 years he and my Mom had a list of things to do around the house. Fix this, paint this wall, organize the storage room, etc. This truly was getting the house in order but I suspect for them it was also therapeutic in many ways. My Dad told me that I would be amazed how much energy I would have after six months of not working. He is a very smart Man and was bang on.

For me getting my house in order was/is about mind, body, and spirit. After my own 33 year career not paying enough attention to how and why I tick it was time to tune-up the old chassis. Too much time behind a desk, attending meetings, flying to places I didn’t really want to go can take its toll on the old paint job. The great philosopher Jimmy Buffet prophesized in one of his many great literary works how some people treat their body as a temple, and that he treats his as a tent! I think all of us can or have been able to relate to this at some point.

So I have been getting my house in order and let’s just say it is a work in progress. Each day sleep comes easier and is more restful, clothes fit better or need to be taken in, energy levels rise as do the corners of your mouth when you remember on Sunday night, “hey I don’t work tomorrow “!
It’s a great feeling….

Should you get your house in order?