Category Archives: Pre-flight

Farewell to Mesa

Today is our last full day in Mesa, Arizona. Yesterday, I spent the morning preparing for travel. I cleaned and treated the tires on the right side of the coach with 303 Aerospace. I polished the alloy wheels with Nevr-Dull. I drained the 20 gallons or so of fresh water that’s been in our tank for a while and refilled it with 100 gallons of fresh water. I checked the tire pressure on the coach and trailer.

I checked the lug nuts on the trailer. With my torque wrench set at 100 ft/lbs, a few of the nuts moved slightly. I don’t know what it is about trailer lug nuts that causes them to loosen, but I know checking them for proper torque periodically is necessary.

I cleaned the windows and installed new rubber inserts in the wiper blades. The inserts I bought didn’t match the old ones. I had to reset (that means bend) the metal blade to fit the new inserts. Next time I’ll need to replace the complete blade assembly.

Donna rode the scooter to WalMart and Staples. She was out for a couple of hours shopping and came home with the scooter fully loaded. She stocked up the refrigerator and also bought some office supplies. One of the things she bought at Staples was a Targus Lap Chill Mat for my laptop. My laptop has been running hot. It sits on our dining table. Lately, we’ve used coasters to prop it up and allow air to circulate underneath. The lap chill mat lifts it at an ergonomic angle and has a fan that plugs into the laptop USB port. Hopefully this will work better.

I made my last stop for the year at the Red, White and Brew and said my goodbyes to the crew there. It’s a great pub. I always meet interesting, friendly people there. The Offshore Tavern and Grill in San Diego is the only other place that compares in my opinion.

We’ve really enjoyed our time here. The boondocking at Phon D Sutton was a great find. We’ll go there again. We also want to return to Usery Regional Park again next year. The climate and scenery are hard to beat in the first quarter of the year. But now, it’s time to move on.

Palm trees in the neighborhood

Palm trees in the neighborhood

Last night Donna and I sat outside and enjoyed the evening. We grilled an old favorite – jerk chicken with mango salsa. Later we sat with our neighbor across from us and had a nightcap. She is leaving tomorrow as well.

Grilled chicken with mango salsa

Grilled jerk chicken with mango salsa

Donna went out this morning for a farewell bike ride with her friend, Dara. When she returns, I’ll pack the trailer. I want to have everything in place so I’ll only need to load the scooter later. We’ll make a stop at Lucky Lou’s for lunch. It’s their 10th anniversary celebration and a few of our friends reserved tables. We’ll say our goodbyes until next year, then finish packing.

Tomorrow, Donna will do her usual job of organizing the interior of the coach while I dump the holding tanks and disconnect our sewer and power. I created a checklist to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything. We’ve been stationary for so long, we might forget part of our routine.



I’m looking forward to kicking the tires and lighting the fires. Our route tomorrow will take us west on the Carefree Highway (AZ 74). We’ll make a stop at Lake Pleasant and have a look around. We may boondock overnight there, depending on what we find. Our next stop will be near Wickenburg, Arizona at the Escapees RV Park. I’m not sure if we’ll have good Internet access in the next few days. I’ll post again when I can.

Selling Everything

Donna here. Mike told me this morning that he wasn’t planning to write a post today, so I figured this would be a good time for me to make an appearance on the blog. As a cleaning and organizing expert, I’ll chime in from time to time on those subjects as well as general RV lifestyle topics such as cooking (it’s all about the food for me).

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you what it was like selling our home and everything in it in preparation to hit the road as full-time RVers. We made the decision to do this in late March and for the next four months, selling everything became my second job. I assured Mike that I would make it all disappear. As the author of How to Declutter and Make Money Now, I knew what I needed to do. But I didn’t realize how much work it would be, especially at the end.

I started by photographing some of the larger, pricier items and listing them on Craigslist. This resulted in the quick sale of our living room furniture, guest bed, gas grill, wicker patio furniture, lawn tractor, and other items. I also created a photo album called Moving Sale on my Facebook page and invited my friends to take a look. One of the items – a genuine black bear skin rug – sold to a friend in California who was willing to pay for the cost of shipping. Our washer and dryer also sold through Facebook to a friend’s son who was willing to wait on picking it up until the weekend before we left. Suh-weet. I sold books and a few other items on Amazon. Between Craigslist and Amazon and sales to friends, we made about $14,000.




We took our motorcycles to a local BMW dealer to sell on consignment. When we first talked about becoming fulltime RVers, Mike said he was going to sell his bike and I burst into tears. He said, “You don’t have to sell yours!” We both had touring bikes and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we didn’t need bikes that big for our new lifestyle and we hadn’t ridden much in the last few years and probably wouldn’t ride much as fulltime RVers. It was time to sell them and get a scooter that would be big enough to carry both of us, but not too big for me to ride on my own. The funny thing is that way back when I told everyone I wanted to get a motorcycle, I didn’t realize that what I really wanted was a scooter! But we did have a lot of fun on our bikes over the years and I’ll always have those memories.

“What about your clothes?” my friends asked. I sold a lot of clothes at my favorite consignment shop. I ended up going through my closet about six times and every time, I was able to let go of more and more, especially once I decided against keeping any items that required ironing (so I could ditch the iron). And shoes? According to a survey by The Container Store, the average woman has 40 pairs of shoes. I am no longer average. My everyday shoes (mostly sandals) fit neatly in a 10x10x10-inch bin. I packed all of our dress shoes in a larger bin that we store in the basement of the coach. Rearrange as I might, I just couldn’t close the lid. So I decided to eliminate one last pair of pumps. Problem solved.

The next phase of our downsizing plan was to have an estate sale. I considered prepping and running the sale myself, but then decided to hire an estate sale company and I’m so glad I did. If you ever want to do this, be sure to book your sale well in advance. The first two companies I called had no availability prior to our departure date. But we found a company that did a great job for us. The gals from Kane’s Estate Sales spent three days at our house, pricing and setting up for the sale. They did a great job with marketing. And they had four people on site every day of the three-day sale. We could not have done what they did with everything else we had going on and we were happy to pay them their 35% commission. Our share was just over $7,200.

By the way, I kept a spreadsheet on what we sold, to whom, how, and for how much. Page two of that spreadsheet itemizes what we bought – everything from bedding, kitchen and bath items and organizing products to our new Kymco Downtown 300i scooter and a 10-foot cargo trailer that we use to haul it.

The final phase of our move from real estate to wheel estate was the hardest — what to do with everything that was left. I listed a couple of desks and a bookcase and some other items on Craigslist at rock bottom prices and they sold pretty quickly. I gave away some glass art and an antique side chair to a couple of friends who had admired those items. It felt good knowing that my stuff was going to good homes where it would be loved and appreciated. Mike gave two high-end guitar amps that he had built plus a 212 speaker cabinet to his friend Gerhard. We donated a whole bunch of stuff to two charities — an animal rescue organization and an organization that helps abused children. They came and picked it all up and gave us a tax receipt that we will use to offset our 2013 income taxes.

At that point, there was still quite a bit of stuff left, including just plain junk. I put it all in the garage and posted to that I was giving away “Leftovers from Our Estate Sale” to anyone who would come and take it all. The first person to respond said they had a 19-foot trailer and would be happy to come and collect everything for a church yard sale to benefit their youth organization. I chose to believe them and we got our garage cleaned out for free.

And then the only stuff that was left was the stuff we had yet to pack into the basement of the RV and our trailer. Amazingly, it all fit. Barely. The crazy thing is that I am quite sure that we will downsize again down the road.

We have yet to miss anything (though we are still searching for Mike’s cordless power drill and charger). Are we bound to miss something eventually? Probably. Meanwhile, we have everything we want and need to live and work on the road — laptops and smartphones (and a Verizon JetPack for WiFi), printer/copier, my digital piano, Mike’s guitars and amps, hundreds of books on my Kindle reader, our bicycles, my hoola hoops, Vitamix, and other wouldn’t-want-to-live-without things.

We knew what we wanted to do – live the RV lifestyle. We knew what we had to do to get here – sell everything. We did it and now here we are enjoying a beautiful summer day at a campground in Wisconsin, getting ready to head to Minneapolis tomorrow morning – right after the pancake breakfast.

Closing the door to our sticks and bricks home

Closing the door to our sticks and bricks home

Opening the door to our new life

Opening the door to our new life



No Rest for the Weary

We started our day Monday, July 22nd full of optimism and believed we could start our journey a day ahead of schedule. Before breakfast Donna said, “10 hours from now we’ll be on our way.” I think I better get used to things not always going according to plan.

We buckled down and started packing things. It seemed like odds and ends kept multiplying – where was all this stuff coming from? It took me a couple of hours to finish moving things from the basement of the “sticks and bricks”.. home and find space to load it in the basement of the motorhome. Around noon I loaded a couple of amplifier heads and a 212 cabinet into my Touareg and took them over to Gerhard Rauch. Gerhard is a good friend and leader of the band “Backtrack.” I gave him the equipment but he insists that he’s just holding on to them for me.

From there I drove up to Romeo and collected the proceeds from our estate sale. This gave me the opportunity to see our new friend Nancy and mumble another goodbye. It also robbed me of about an hour of time I needed to continue loading the motorhome and trailer. Meanwhile Donna kept plugging away at the paperwork she was sorting through.

I made arrangements to leave my Les Paul guitar with Jeff Quartuccio, Jeff plays guitar in the band Planet of Fun and also taught me guitar lessons. I was supposed to meet him at the studio at 4pm. I also needed to return the Comcast DVR box and router but I wanted to hang on to them as late as I could for an internet connection. This wasn’t too smart. I have a Verizon Jetpack (which is how I’m online now) and should have returned the Comcast stuff earlier. I didn’t realize I would have to go all the way out Hall Road to Macomb to return it. Around 3pm I asked Donna where the Comcast place was. She only had a vague notion of it being on Hall Road. For some reason I thought it was nearby on Van Dyke. I did a Google search and it showed the nearest Comcast store in Sterling Heights south of 16 mile. This was no good, it would take me an hour to drive there and back. Donna was sure that wasn’t right, I decided to go down Hall Road and try to find the place she remembered. While I was driving she was on hold with the Comcast phone-bots.

Donna finally got a live person on the phone and got the address while I was driving back and forth through the usual Hall Road mayhem trying to find Comcast amid the endless strip malls there. She phoned me and gave me an address – now I can rant about street numbers. Building after building on Hall Road have business names but try to find an actual street number. I finally found the place – it’s not called Comcast, it’s the Xfinity store!

By the time I dealt with Comcast (Xfinity) and dropped the guitar off I’d lost a couple more hours and it was time to turn in my Touareg at the dealership in Rochester. Donna drove the Touareg there while I rode the scooter. Another hour lost.

We were home and back at it by 6pm. Once I loaded the scooter in the trailer I was able to finish packing the remainder of garage items fairly quickly but I knew there was no way we would be on the road today. We ordered a pizza from Dan Good pizza and finished loading, By 8 o’clock we were finished and showered. I was beat once again, settled down with a couple of cold ones and called it a day.

We’ll hook up the trailer in the morning and the journey will truly begin.

Work Hard – Play Hard

So far this retirement gig has been hard work! We’re making the final push to pack everything in the motorhome. I thought we had done a really good job of downsizing but it turns out we still have too much stuff. In the last week, Donna happened to connect with two women who run non-profit organizations that help 1) animal rescues and 2) abused children. So between the two of them, they are taking most of what’s left for good causes. We also posted more stuff on Freecycle. This worked well. One evening we had a visit from a guy I tagged as a “Freecycle gleaner.” This is someone that shows up to pick up a particular item that was posted but ends up looking around and asking “what about this or how about that?” He was a nice guy but I had hunch when he drove up in a van full of stuff with an empty utility trailer in tow that he does this kind of thing often.

Saturday night we took a break and attended a lobster fest fundraiser at Upper Straits Lake with our friends, Bill and Cindy. It was fun; the lobster was mediocre but there was lots of it! They also had live entertainment — a classic rock band that was really good.

Sunday we packed and cleaned most of the day. I serviced the scooter while I still had a garage to work in. We finally took a break at 7pm and went to Da Francesco for Italian food. I was beat. After dinner I downloaded the Moto GP race at Laguna Seca and watched that. If we can finish packing, return our Comcast box and drop off one of my guitars by this afternoon we’ll probably hit the road this evening.

Buffet Line at Lobster Fest

Buffet Line at Lobster Fest

Large Lobsters!

Large Lobsters!

Lobster versus Bill

Lobster versus Bill





Classic Rock

Classic Rock


Upper Straits Lake








Saturday Club

It’s strange how time can seem to pass slowly yet speed by all at once. My last week at work was like that. In some of the meetings an hour was agonizingly long but by Friday it seemed like the week flew by. The passage of time accelerated throughout the day, I tried to stay on course and do the things that needed to be done but truthfully it was difficult not to be distracted.

Thursday the guys on my team took me to lunch at the Rochester Chop House. Very nice! I struggled for words and mostly just made small talk. They’re a great group. As a manager I’ve always tried to assemble the right group of people and give them the opportunities to develop and grow into their careers. These guys have a great future ahead of them.

Yesterday I had lunch with my boss and fellow managers. Again I couldn’t come up with anything to say other than the usual banter. I sent a delegate to my last meeting of the day and quietly slipped out. I went to our old watering hole (Grand Tavern) and had a few beers while some of the crew stopped by. A couple of years ago this was our Friday ritual but not so much anymore.

When I think about the passage of time it seems incredible to me that I’ve been with the same company for 29 years. Next year will mark my 40th high school reunion! I feel like the years blew by in such a rush that many things got by me unnoticed. I plan to slow my pace and take some time to smell the flowers and savor every day.

Right before I left the office I posted to Facebook “from now on everyday is Saturday.” My friend and fellow retiree, Ed Brubaker commented, “Welcome to the Saturday club.” I like that…this is a club I’m pleased to join!

The heat and humidity this past week has been almost unbearable. Since we are sleeping in the motorhome I’ve had to fire up the generator and run both A/C units for a couple of hours in the evening to cool the coach. When we go to bed I shut the generator down and run the front A/C off a 20 amp outlet by the garage. This has worked well and we’ve slept comfortably.

In a few days we’ll drive away from here and join the full-time RV world. But, before we can do that we still have some loose ends to tie up. Donna has been burning the candle at both ends to meet a writing deadline and get our household organized and cleaned up at the same time. She’s amazing. I still have to sell a couple of amps and a nice Gibson Les Paul G0. I’ve reduced the asking price on my BMW R1200RT to fire sale levels and hopefully that goes this weekend. If not, it’ll stay on consignment at BMW Motorcycles of Detroit. I’ll service the scooter while I have a garage to do it in. The forecast calls for the heat and humidity to drop over the next few days which is a relief (if the weather guessers have it right).

So, although I’m in the Saturday club, I have much to do!

Getting Wound Up and Winding Down

Last week seems like a whirlwind now. Wrapping things up at work, dealing with the estate sale and trying to carry on as normally as possible. I’ve read about the stress a major life change can create. Well, we’re making multiple life changes at once.

Retirement – I’ve held various jobs since I was 15 years old. If I only count the years in the auto industry, I’ve been getting up and going to work for more than 1,800 weeks. Now I’m counting down the last week – 4 more days as I write this. It’s a little weird to think I won’t get up and go to the office after Friday. A colleague asked me what I would miss about working – I couldn’t think of anything other than some of the people.

Selling our house and its contents – I’ve bought and sold several houses over the years and it always creates some stress. Add to that the prospect of selling all of our “stuff.” Our three-day estate sale concluded successfully last Saturday. Successfully in this case means we no longer have any furniture in the house and the cupboards are bare. We still have a few items left over that will be donated or distributed through While this was going on I still had to go to work. We had the spare bedroom closed off and I kept a few work clothes in there. Most of our clothing, kitchen utensils and whatnot are in the motorhome where we are sleeping now that our bed has been sold. But we’re still showering and cooking in the house. It will be better when everything is in the motorhome and we’re not running back and forth trying to find things.

Hitting the road full time – This is something we’ve never done before. We think we have a pretty good idea of what it will be like, but the truth is we’re venturing into the unknown. Somewhere I saw a quote that said “If it excites you and scares the crap out of you at the same time, you should probably do it.” After the events of the past few weeks, I think hitting the road will be a relief.

Yesterday we were able to relax and unwind with our friends, Tom and Nancy. We went to their place on Long Lake and took a couple of relaxing cruises around the lake on their pontoon boat.  Then Tom pulled us around the lake tubing behind his Malibu ski boat. I’m feeling it today, will probably really feel it tomorrow. We grilled steaks and enjoyed dinner on the patio. It was great way to unwind and spend our next to last weekend in Michigan. Tom and Nancy are really fun. We’ve only met them recently but it feels like they’re old friends.

Michigan was always intended to be a temporary home for us. When we moved here in 2009 due to a work assignment, we always figured it would be a four-year stint. A friend of Donna’s asked her what she will miss about Michigan. She replied that she really won’t know until we’ve gone! But despite not being altogether thrilled about leaving Arizona for Michigan, she found a lot of things to like here – from cycling through lush green summer landscape to discovering Eastern Market, Belle Isle and other gems in downtown Detroit to gourmet food shopping and enjoying Michigan cherries and peach pie. And then there was that motorcycle tour through the UP, and of course, the great friendships. I guess we’ll have to come back and visit!

Nancy and Donna

Nancy and Donna

View of their dock and Long Lake from the deck

View of their dock and Long Lake from the deck

Steaks off of the grill!

Steaks off of the grill!

After dinner cruise with Tom, Donna and Nancy

After dinner cruise with Tom, Donna and Nancy








The Dress Rehearsal

On Thursday the 4th of July, we packed our gear and drove 17 miles to Addison Oaks County Park. We had reservations for the long holiday weekend which were made back in January. This was our dress rehearsal; next time we pull out of the driveway in our coach, we will be full-timing it.

Donna’s done a good job of downsizing her wardrobe and kitchen stuff. She had everything packed into the coach that she intends to take with us. My stuff…well not so much. I just packed clothing for the weekend and essentials in the basement – a few tools, fishing gear, grill and a couple of coolers filled with beer. I loaded the scooter into the trailer but not much else in there either.

I’d pre-scouted our site at the park the week before. Dropping the trailer in the parking space adjacent to our site was going be a bit tricky I thought. Scouting the site was a good idea; I had a plan and no worries about getting myself into a position that would be hard get out of. With Donna directing, I was able to put the trailer right where I wanted it with no drama. Our site had 50 amp service and fresh water, but no sewer hook up.

50 Amp Service

50 Amp Service

Once we got settled in, we hopped on the scooter to check out the park. By now we were getting hungry so we fired up the Weber Q and put on a rack of lamb and asparagus. We also had sweet potato. As usual, Donna did all the preparation. All I had to do was grill it.


Even though it was the 4th, fireworks were scheduled for the following night. It seems like a Michigan thing where the fireworks start the last week of June and every community has fireworks on different nights all the way up ’til the weekend after the 4th.

Friday, July 5th I was up by 7am and let Donna sleep in. I brought her coffee around 8am.  After breakfast, Donna had some projects she started on while I wandered around the park. I showered at the park facility. The showers were large and clean – 25 cents for 5 minutes. After lunch I took a short nap in front of the TV.

We had guests arriving later for dinner and the fireworks. Earlier I noticed a sign that said no vehicles would be allowed to enter the camping area after 5pm. This could be a bad deal as we were located a couple of miles from the park entrance. So I texted a message to my colleague from work, Justin Rose, and advised him of the situation. He said it wouldn’t be a problem because he and his wife Jennifer would leave as soon as their 9 month old son Andrew woke up from his nap. They expected to arrive around 4pm. Our other guests, Jason and Danielle Bates, would be cutting it a little closer as they were working and had to get the their twin boys ready. We worried that they might not make it, but they entered the park with a minute to spare.

We sat together and visited, and enjoyed appetizers. Donna prepared an excellent guacamole and a spinach dip. Around 7pm, I fired up the Weber Q and grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken which was served with mango salsa. We also had pasta salad that Justin and Jennifer brought and an orzo pasta that Jason and Danielle made. There were also peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that Jason made; I hear they were good but I missed out. Oh well, I had a milkshake chocolate stout for dessert (Rochester Mills Brewery).

Around 10pm, we walked over to the lake to view the fireworks (it doesn’t get dark until 10 or so around here). We found a trail through the vegetation to a small private spot at the water’s edge and had excellent seats to see the show. It was a grand fireworks presentation and everyone agreed we couldn’t have found a better vantage point.

Scooter and trailer

Saturday, July 6th I was up around 7am again. I watched the news and had Greek yogurt. A couple of hours later, Donna whipped up a great breakfast of jalapeno scrambled eggs and cheese between two corn tortillas with salsa and avocado on top. I decided to take the scooter and make the 35-mile round trip back to the house to pick up a Netflix movie from our mailbox. After I returned, we rented a pedal boat and went fishing. The lake had a lot of aquatic vegetation and was a little hard to fish in some areas but with the boat we found a good spot. I caught a few largemouth bass; two of them were really fun as they had some size and put up a good fight on the light tackle. We also caught several bluegill. We released all of the fish we caught. The boat rental seemed to be expensive at $5 per half hour. I checked my watch and told Donna we were going to go over an hour. We couldn’t make it back in time so we decided to go ahead and use another 1/2 hour. When we returned the boat, I was charged only $5 total!  Not sure how that worked but I didn’t question it.



Every day the clouds would threaten rain at times but for the most part it was sunny and warm. The rain seemed to detour around the park every time. The humidity was high so we had the A/C units cranked up all day. Sunday, July 7th that changed. I woke up to rain and we had drops off and on all morning. After breakfast we started packing up. Donna worked inside the coach while I took care of the outside – packing up basement stuff like the outdoor carpet and coolers, fishing gear, etc.  I rolled up the awning and loaded the scooter in the trailer. We had everything packed up, slides in and ready to roll in an hour. This wasn’t bad considering Donna also cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed the coach during that time. We dumped the holding tanks on the way out of the park and had an uneventful drive home.


After unpacking the coach and trailer I started working on getting things organized in the garage. I moved my tool box into the trailer and realized how much more stuff I would need to jettison. The lady running our estate sale came over so we could discuss pricing of a few items and what needed to be done by Thursday. By Saturday evening, with any luck, we will have an empty house and I’ll spend my last work week in the RV in the driveway.

I know this is a long post, but I had some catching up to do. My goal once we hit the road is try to post daily.





Monday, July 1st started for me like most Mondays…alarm at 6am, shower, breakfast, drive to the office and fire up the laptop at 7:20. It was just another day at the office but with a new twist. The countdown has begun in earnest – 18 more days on the calendar, 12 more office days until I leave this desk for good.

Donna had reminded me several times over the past couple of weeks that the estate sale people would be at our house today to begin to inventory our household goods for sale. For some reason, I had a hard time finding motivation to really buckle down and start organizing my garage and basement (man cave) stuff. I did get a start on it over the weekend because she told me they would begin with the garage. So I made sure I sorted through tools and whatnot.

After work, I pulled into the driveway and hit the garage door opener, then hit the brakes. In garage #1 (we have two garages) where I usually park my Touareg, there were tables set up with items arranged for sale! I entered the house to find more of the same. Our basement was half cleaned out. Wow. I felt like I’d been smacked with a 2 x 4. I should have heeded Donna’s warning and gotten ahead of the curve. I thought, “This is really happening and happening soon.”

I’ve been okay with letting go of possessions up to this point, but now I have to make the hard decisions. Which guitars and amps will go? What can I keep? How much can I pack into the trailer and basement storage in the motorhome?

Procrastination catches me out again.