12/30/2016: The backsplash was complete when we arrived home, photo below. The remodeled kitchen is a pleasure to work in. We weren't planning any house projects this last summer, opting to putting off replacing the windows until next year. Then a window salesman from Erie Construction knocked on the front door. He commented "It looks like you need new windows". We signed up for an in home demo of the windows they build. The large man standing on the triple pane window (they make their own glass) pretty much sold us. They told us it would take 5 - 6 weeks, we told them we're leaving in 8 weeks so if it isn't done by then they could install the new windows next May. They got the job done on time, they look great (we can see out of them).
10/1/2014: I didn't post much here over the summer. The big project, updating the kitchen was supposed to take a few days. Complications turned it into the summer project. We didn't quite get it finished before leaving for the winter. The backsplash behind and around the stove will be done while we are gone, hopefully this month. The product we chose was back ordered. Kabinetree Konceps will be doing the work. These photos show the new granite counter, appliances, and resurfaced cabinets - before and after.
9/26/2013: With the shed constructed, the stumps removed, and the culvert access to the back road installed, we decided to order the fence from Home Depot so Charlie could play in the yard off leash. We decided black vinyl coated chain link would be much more attractive than the plain galvanized look. Home Depot uses a company called Anderson for the installation. The sales guy said it would take 2-1/2 weeks - it took 2-1/2 months. In that time, we finished staining the decks, with about 1-1/4 gallons left over. We did use stain left over from the original staining job for the lattice work under the back deck. We also bricked in the fire ring to make a nice fireplace. The last job of the season was to have the 2nd story trim on the south side painted, and removed the old TV antenna, we employed Jim Valentino of Y-Knot Handyman Services (989-745-2951). Except for that last job, everything was completed in time for a visit from friends Jim and Jo Callen. During their visit we played games in the evenings, went to Traverse City and explored the Mission Peninsula wine region, the Leelanau Peninsula, the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, and Frankfort. Jim and Steve also played tennis, and golf at The Fox, and the Ye Old Country Club.
The garden grew well this year, and because some of the herbs were perennial, we decided to expand the garden into the yard, in the space between the two stairs to the back deck. My sister Sal and her husband Ron came up to visit just before we were ready to start getting ready to hit the road. My cousin Bobby and his wife Cindy came over for dinner while Sal and Ron were there.
I should also mention we had the septic tank emptied. Our neighbors to the east were working on their house and discovered their septic system was blocked so they called for service. Our back fence wasn't in yet, but the culvert was - the septic service truck used our drive to get close to their tank. I had a conversation with him about septic systems while his pump was working. He recommended having the tank emptied every 3-4 years to avoid a more expensive proposition in the event it backed up. He used a poker to locate and mark out tank, and quoted $190 if he didn't have to do much digging. We thought about if for a couple of days, then called him back. We had no idea when it had last been serviced, now we do.
Here are some pics from the projects:
7/26/2013: This is a brief post because I want to log some data. More information and photos will be here soon. The back deck staining and back yard fence could be finished as soon as Monday. We will still be working on the front deck staining. I did a rough calculation of the square footage of both decks, including the stairs, balusters, railings, and deck itself. The back deck came out at 1023 square feet, not counting the lattice trim and took 3-1/2 gallons of Sikkens SRD Translucent Teak stain. The front deck came out at 408 square feet. We have 2-1/2 gallons of stain left, should be plenty. We're thinking another maintenance coat in the spring, just on the decks themselves. We used Flood Wood Finish Remover to take strip the old stain because we waited too long, 3 years - 6 gallons for the back deck, 3 gallons for the front. We started the staining project on July 5th. We ordered the fence from Home Depot on June 2nd.
6/10/2013: A post about our activities since arriving home on April 21 is on the main page. Here are some photos of the progress this spring.
10/13/2012: Still planning to organize some photo albums related to illustrate our travels over the past 18 months, but for now just this update. We arrived safely back in Northern California after 8 days on the road, 2 of which were spent with Jim and Jo Callan at their 2nd home in Dillon, Montana. We are now guests of theirs at their primary residence in Belmont, CA. We made stops in Escanaba, MI - Fergus Falls, MN, Miles City, MT, then Dillon MT Sun. - Tue. nights, then Twin Falls, ID - Sparks, NV, then back to Alameda in time to pick up mail, check in on Spirit. I ran the engine, the cooling water isn't flowing, needs to be debugged. We met our new broker, Jeff Leonard of New Era Yachts. We began making arrangements for Jeff to move Spirit to Alameda Marina onto dry land in mid December if it hasn't sold yet - before diving into the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic to get to Belmont. We don't miss that part at all. This is our first time (in a long time) traveling with a pet. Motels charge between $5 and $30 dollars extra, typically $10 or $15. We liked the Super 8 motel in Sparks the best, friends from our old yacht club, John Sterzer & PJ Bingaman, stopped by for a visit while we were there. We watched the VP debates on the TV in the room, then walked to the restaurant in the casino next door for dinner. We like Dillon, MT alot. We're looking forward to getting back to traveling with the trailer in tow, and RV parks though. I will move posts for the next few days back to Spirit's page while we are in the bay area. Here are a few pics from the trip out...
Note for future reference, the deck stain on Jim and Jo's deck is really holding up well. Pratt & Lambert Stainshield.
9/20/2012: No updates in 2 months??? Wow, busy and very enjoyable summer, my how time does fly. Must post some pics...
Just made some updates to http://www.searspirit.com/almondsears/index.html. Photos has been updated, and John and Lydia Highfield, and Family Tree are new links. Thank you Ron Lathrop for the scanned images!
Just added this Soft Sandwich Buns (Bread Machine) recipe to the recipes page.
A new plan is starting to form, about what to do this coming winter. Since Spirit hasn't sold yet, we were thinking about going back to CA and living on it for the winter again - however, we have updated those thoughts. Instead, we've listed Spirit with a new broker and are having the bright work done to make it show better. We plan to drive the truck out to CA as empty as possible, stay with friends while we have the Honda shipped back to MI, then empty out the storage unit and drive it back to MI before it gets too cold. Then close up the house and tow the trailer south for the winter, to explore what people do when they go south for the winter. Timing is good if we leave by Oct. 5th to spend a couple of days with Jim and Jo Callan at their Montana retreat, and possibly snag a couple more trout:-)
7/20/2012: Updated the picture of Breezy's galley in the top banner with the one below. There is certainly more to do on the galley, but we don't think we will do more than think about it and make plans. The vent and light over the new stove is still the old Kenmore (though the stove we just replaced was Montgomery Ward). It's electrical wiring goes to an appliance cord that comes out of the back of the lower cabinet the plugs into the wall outlet behind the refrigerator. We will likely want an electrician to remedy that at the same time an outlet is installed behind the stove. For now, the new stove plugs into the wall outlet in the galley. This work will likely be timed with redoing the tile work behind the stove, which we will have to figure out the design first. These seem like the likely next step, before executing on the cabinets, sink, and counter. For now, everything is working great, we're calling it home sweet home. Also, I moved the 2011 entries from this page to their own page with a link to it in the left nav.
7/19/2012: The new GE Adora gas range arrived today, and was up and running before 9:00 am. Nice! (user manual)
7/17/2012: Charlie got her first haircut yesterday. All in all it turned out OK, but we miss her cute bangs - with the warm weather, and she couldn't see through them so it was for the best. Her hair will grow back. The garden is growing quite nicely too. We had Charlie's grooming done at Tina's Tender Touch Pet Service in Prudenville. When we picked Charlie up, we were offered, and decided to take them up on dog obedience training classes. Starts next Tuesday for 6 weeks. Pics of Charlie's new do and the garden.
7/15/2012: Progress got set back on 2 fronts - leaking under the house, and dry rot in the trailer. Before leaving last fall, I had built up some rotting wood in the front right section where the molding screws into with wood epoxy - that repair appears to have held through our journey. The left side was in a different state - one that deteriorated over time. A gap continued to widen between the edge of the aluminum siding and the molding strip exposing more and more of the wood frame. I re-caulked the gap when we got to La Paz, but by the time we were on the last leg coming east from Washington, we could see the siding billowing out as air was flowing behind it as we drove down the road. Once back here, I started taking things apart to explore the problem and found quite a bit of the frame work wood completely rotted away. I watched a few related you tube videos and determined I needed some expert help to get it repaired. After exploring several options in the area, we decided to take it in to Jim's Collision, in Roscommon. I took some pictures of the problem in on my iPad to start the discussion, and had a pretty good feeling about working with the people there. The next step would be to bring the trailer in and leave it.
At about that point, Marsha's sister-in-law Barb called to say her sister-in-law Deb invited us to join them all at their lake house for the 4th of July holiday (Deb and Barb's brother Mike joined Marsha's brother Bob and Barb to visit here last summer). We decided to take Taylor so I screwed everything back together, plus a few extra screws into the siding so it wouldn't fly away. We loaded up provisions for a week or so, and headed down state to their house just outside of Battle Creek, an area of the state we had never been to. We had the air conditioning running the full time we were there, 3 nights, as a 102 degree heat wave occurred. We could walk down their back yard into the water, which everybody did alot. Charlie got a lot more water time in than ever. We had her out on a floating toy and she jumped across it and landed and got balanced on a foam surf board all by herself. Too bad nobody was taking pictures. There were 3 young children around, Callen and his 2 cousins Nathan and Grace (grandchildren of Barb's sister Veronica, children of Brian and her daughter Cindy - all were there including mom - Pat). They all loved Charlie and vice versa. Lots of beer and food. Having traveled so far, we decided to go spend a couple of days in another place we hadn't been to before and ended up with a great spot in Ludington - space #63 at the Vacation Station RV Resort.
When we got back home, I just backed the trailer into the driveway instead of maneuvering it all the way back onto the pad next to the garage so it would be easy to drop it off the next day at Jim's Collision. I discovered it was much easier to unload our stuff from it while it was parked that way. We dropped it off on Tuesday with the understanding it wouldn't necessarily look pretty, but it wouldn't leak, and it should be ready by the end of the week. The repairs were completed by Thursday and cost $200 - not bad.
While the trailer was in the shop, I stained the leveling boards and used a pile of bricks leaning against the back of the house as pavers for a landing for the entrance. This made me start thinking about gravel and paver bricks for the entire pathway to the trailer entrance from the house.
Regarding leaking under the house, I had ventured down in the crawl space under the house to change the furnace filter and noticed dripping underneath the bathroom, near where main line exited the house. I crawled over to have a look and could see a crack in the PVC pipe.
I was about to call Donn's Plumbing and Electric about running a gas line and stove hook up so when we were ready to replace the oven with a gas one, it would be set for Home Depot to deliver and do the install. So the call had more stuff involved, and a leaking house gets some priority so Bill and Aaron showed up the next day to fix the leaking pipe as well as take measurements for running a gas line (the house already has natural gas for heat and for the dryer). They found the problem, and another small leak, spending about 3 hours on the repairs. The gas line would come in after the 4 of July holiday (being on a Wednesday, it was as much as a 9 day holiday depending on how you celebrated it). They came back with the gas line on Thursday the 12th, the same day as the trailer repairs were completed.
We were now free to order a new stove at will. By this time, we had decided on the model we wanted, the GE Adora 30 in. Self-Cleaning Freestanding Gas Convection Range in Stainless Steel, Model # JGB605SETSS. It will be here Thursday of next week:-)
The warm weather was still holding so Friday after lunch we loaded chairs and beach toys into the truck to go check out the new dog beach at South Higgins Lake State Park. It was early enough to beat the weekend crowd so we got a great spot to park our chairs on the beach with a picnic table. Charlie liked the doggy raft we got her, like the one she got to play on over the 4th, but she really liked chasing the tennis ball into the water - couldn't get enough of it. A great spot, we plan to go back as many warm weekday afternoons as we can.
In conclusion of this post, I'll mention we've finally broke down and decided to get Charlie a hair cut. We're scheduled an appointment to have her groomed next Monday afternoon. Bows are cute, but eventually she works them out and eats them:-)
6/22/2012: The first step in remodeling the kitchen has taken place, with a new refrigerator. The old Kenmore's self defrost system was malfunctioning, causing frost to build up in the freezer, which was blocking proper air flow for the refrigeration function to work properly, thus ice would stop making, and milk would start curdling - etc. Turning it off until the frost melted would bring it back to life for a few days, but then the problem would resurface. The 3rd time it started frosting up again, we decided it was time to get a new one rather than invest in having the old one fixed. We chose an LG Model LSC27925ST, Serial # AFN73972006. Home Depot delivered it and carted off the old Kenmore. Happy birthday Steve! (user manual) (It really makes the old electric Montgomery Ward range appear antiquated:-)
6/15/2012: With the chicken wire removed, we now have our deck back, complete with gates that offer more privacy. What is even better is how we've trained Charlie since we've been back. Last summer, the wired in deck was also the doggie bathroom. We would hose it down immediately but still it took something from the effect - and Charlie had trouble distinguishing the outside deck wood floor from the inside hardwood floor. While traveling in the trailer, Charlie was very good at telling us she had to go out for a walk. When we got back home, we decided to take her out front for a walk down the street. Rainy weather modified that plan to always go out through the garage - best for dumping the doggie bag in the trash on the way back in. Installing hooks for the rain gear and leash helped. So, now the deck is really back as our play room.
The next projects are paver bricks for the base of the deck steps. If that doesn't seem like too big of a project, we're also planning paver bricks to make a walk way to Taylor the trailer's door, and entrance landing. The next projects after that likely involve Donn's Electric and Plumbing - to 1) run gas to the stove so when we order a new oven to be delivered, they can just swap them out - and 2) install a water softener system.
6/14/2012: Starting to work on the deck. This year, Charlie appears to have grown big enough to not fit through the balusters which means I can remove the chicken wire I had put up around the deck last year. Good timing because it's time to stain the deck gates I added last year. We've also started a small deck garden, with 2 tomato plants, rosemary, cilantro, and 3 kinds of basil. I installed an automatic drip system so the plants will get watered while we're away for an upcoming weekend downstate.
6/3/2012: We arrived back at Breezy last Sunday afternoon, May 27th - 25 days after leaving Alameda. On the morning of Saturday the 19th, we got an early start on our way heading East. We were relying heavily on the RV park review site, http://www.rvparkreviews.com/ to plan our next anchorage for the following day, which with wifi availability in RV parks being now more pervasive than cable TV, was easy to do. We stayed at the KOA campground in Missoula, MT that night. It would have been nice to have stayed another day there and tour around a bit, but we decided to push on. The next night, we stayed at the Old West RV Park in Reed Point, Montana. Other web sites we used to research our destinations were Passport America and Good Sam. Membership in Passport America is $44 per year, and if your stay fits within the particular site's date restrictions, you get a 50% discount. Since crossing the boarder in San Diego, where we stayed 2 nights at a high end park and saved $70, I'm guessing we've saved at lease $250 in discounts. But their sites are not everywhere. Next is Good Sam, though their discount is only 10%, their camp sites we've stayed at have all been good. Annual membership ranges between $17 and $25 depending on how many years you sign up for. Good Sam has also taken over Camping World's Presidents Club, (which used to be a separate, additional annual membership fee) so it gets you 10% discounts on pretty much anything you buy from Camping World, so it doesn't take long to realize you need to join that program too. With those 2 bases covered, AARP and AAA never came into play. The Old West RV Park accepts Passport America. I needed to use my 50 amp male to 30 amp female power adapter that I had bought at the KOA camp store in Joplin, Missouri here. That's a great piece of diddy to have in your kit when you need it.
We have been keeping up with our work while on the road. If a bunch of stuff to do comes in, we stay put with a good internet connection until we're caught up, then move on. I did have a web seminar I needed to participate in coming up on May 24th, and for those the internet connection needs to be both good, and reliable. We were also hoping to be set up in Escanaba such that we could go out to the Stonehouse restaurant for dinner one night, they are not open on Sundays. Escanaba is a good place to stop the night before making the last 240 mile leg to Breezy. We had been thinking about just checking into a hotel in Fargo, ND for the night on the 23rd, to have a good reliable internet connection for the webinar, then I spotted a comment on the rvparkreviews.com site about excellent internet at the Country Campground RV park in Detroit Lakes, MN. Thinking about finding a motel where we could fit the truck and trailer in their parking lot, then moving stuff into a hotel room wasn't sounding like fun, so we set our sites on Detroit Lakes as a the destination to camp for a while to catch up on work. We stayed at the North Park Campground, in Dickinson, ND on the way. Nice enough place, very few of the sites were overnighters. It looked like pretty much all of the Travel Trailers and 5th wheels belonged to contractors that were working and staying there for a while.
We had driven through the Detroit Lakes, MN area on the way home last year, and remembered it as pretty and inviting. We found the Country Campground easily enough and signed up for 2 nights, the 22nd and 23rd - with a strong possibility of a third night on the 24th. A very nice place with friendly people running it. We started testing out the wifi getting our work done on the morning of the 23rd, but soon I started seeing undesirable wifi hanging up effects. Marsha's machine was working OK, but rebooting my computer didn't help mine, so I called the camp site office. Todd came to visit and after explaining my problems, he agreed to reset the router, which fixed everything - the connection was good again. However, I lost all confidence in the connection's reliability, and after a couple of hours of angsting about trusting it to work for a one hour webinar, we decided it would be best for me to just get a hotel room for the night as an office, while we stayed in the trailer in the campground. I found a reasonably priced hotel 4 miles away, made arrangements for a 1:00 PM checkout time the next day (after the webinar would be over), then drove to it to check in and test the internet connection that afternoon. It was solid, and the room had comfortable furniture, a coffee set up, a refrigerator, and a bathroom. Problem solved!!! We ended up staying at the night of Thursday, the 24th as well. We were concerned we would still be on the road for part of the Memorial Day weekend, when things started getting crazy with everybody kicking off the summer vacation season, so we called ahead to make a reservation as close as we could to Escanaba for Saturday night, then make 6:30 reservations at the Stonehouse. We were able to reserve a spot at the Pioneer Trail Park and Campground in Gladstone, MI - about 4 miles from the restaurant, a back in space with water and electricity. We then found the Turtle Lake RV Park in Turtle Lake, WI as a site about half way between Detroit Lakes and Escanaba for Friday night.
Dinner at the Stonehouse was great, and Cindy was once again our waitress. The place is very busy on Saturday night at that time. We experienced a great thunderstorm with lots of rain that night. I was able to get a little bit of a wifi signal with the long range antenna early the next morning. Then we got hooked up between the rain drops and pulled out to make our way home that afternoon, 25 days after leaving Alameda. Breezy seemed to fair well over the winter. There were several large fallen branches in the yard, as well as the yards on either side, but everything in the house came back to life in short order. There were only a few dead flies to vacuum up this time, much less than last year.
We concluded, though this was much more the style of traveling than racing cross country in 4-5 days, it still isn't at the point we want it to be. Though we stayed 5 days in Anacortes, it wasn't enough. We're thinking any place we make it to that's cool, stay a week, or how ever many days it takes to get to the point where we say to ourselves, "OK - it's time to move on". We'll factor that thinking into plans we make going forward, but for now we're going to enjoy living in a house and staying put for a while.