Dash - n. The symbol between the date of birth and the date of death on a tombstone, which represents a person's life.
n. abbr. (dashboard) Panel beneath the windshield of a vehicle containing gauges for the use of the driver.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Xscapers

One of the frustrating things about being a family on the road is the lack of resources. Most RVing information is geared toward the retired RVer. However, the number of people still working and either living on the road or traveling part time seems to be increasing. We run into other families on the road everywhere we go. Kimberly over at Fulltime Families has done a wonderful job of creating a resource for those of us who seem to be left out of the bigger clubs.

Every month we get magazines from Escapees and FMCA, and I just barely glance through them because most of what is in them doesn't apply to me. This has always bothered me. I know that Escapees was founded back in the 1970s by a couple in their 40s, full-timing with their kids. I page through their magazine wondering where the working travelers are represented. Same thing with FMCA. FMCA actually stands for Family Motor Coach Association. However, again I page through their magazine wondering where the families are. I'm not at all saying that the clubs need to change and become all about working and raising kids on the road. I just want to be included.

So I was excited the other day when Techomadia and Escapees announced Xscapers! Finally, one of the "big clubs" is recognizing us! From what I understand, this is not to be a separate club, but a club within a club. Which is great! I still want to be part of the big picture with all RVers of all ages and life-stages. While there are certain aspects of RVing that are different for retired vs working; there are still many things we have in common. It looks like now Escapees will provide the resources that are more geared toward the retired set, and Xscapers will provide the resources that are more geared towards those of us still working. Anyone can be a part of either "club" or both. Kudos! I am looking forward to this new all-inclusive Escapees.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Whole Foods Tour

As much as I love to travel, it has been very nice to be in one place for a few months. One things I miss while we travel is the sense of community. When we are always on the go, I never really feel like we are a part of something. Since we are in one place for the winter, we have joined a local homeschool group, and have been able to take advantage of the field trips they offer.

The other day we were able to take a tour of a local Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods is already one of the stores I shop at because I like their selection. After the tour, I have a new appreciation for their company. As we toured the store, someone from each department explained to us where the food comes from and gave us samples.

In the produce department, we were shown the selection that came from a local organic farm. While sampling scrumptious local oranges, we learned about the farm. Buying local when possible is important to me, so I was pleased by the large selection. They also pointed out some out of the ordinary produce that we may not have heard of, and told us how to prepare it. One such unique plant is the watermelon radish. I thought it looked just like a turnip, but when he sliced it in half, we were surprised to see a pretty shade of watermelon pink! We were told that it tastes just like candy. I just had to buy some to try. I'll keep you posted as to whether they really do taste like candy!

 Next we went to the meat department. Here we were given samples of yummy barbeque chicken and smoked fish as we learned where their meat comes from. The employee from this section brought out a flatfish to show the kids. What is unique about the flatfish is that they are round when they are born, but as they grow they become flat, and one eye actually moves to either the left or right side of the fish. This is so they can see while they are lying flat.

He also discussed their farm-raised salmon. I've always read that wild-caught fish is better than farm-raised fish, so I was surprised to learn their salmon is farm-raised. He then went on to explain their standards and how they avoid the problems usually associated with farm-raised fish. When buying fish, I always look for "wild-caught", so after we got home, I looked up their website to learn more about their farm-raised fish. (Click here to read it.)

The yummiest sample came from the frozen foods section where we sampled some local ice cream. While enjoying the ice cream, we were told the company is one that benefited from Whole Foods' Local Producer Loan Program. Whole Foods is giving low-interest loans to help local businesses get started or grow their business.

One of the questions that came up during the tour was about their GMO policy. I remember when Whole Foods Market was called out recently for marketing as a health food store, but allowing foods with GMOs. They are not moving to have all vendors remove GMOs from their food. However, they are moving toward having all of their food items labeled by 2018 so their customers will know whether or not they are purchasing genetically modified food.

The other question that was raised was the "whole paycheck" question. Whole Foods Market has earned the nickname "Whole Paycheck" due to their prices. Our tour guide informed us that while many of their specialty items are higher priced, their store brand 365 Everyday Value items are comparable to and in some cases even cheaper than other store brands. He also told us that employees get a 20% discount, and can qualify for an even bigger discount by participate in health incentive programs.
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Photo credit: xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, October 16, 2014

CurrClick Autumn Specials

CurrClick is one of my favorite resources for homeschooling. They have homeschool ebooks at discount prices. Many of the major curricula is available through them. They also offer some wonderful online classes. My son has taken a few of these. They are actual virtual classrooms with children from around the world. Anyway, since I love their site so much, I wanted to share with you that right now they are having their Autumn Special, and many of their already low prices are reduced even more! You won't find this on their web site, but if you enter the code LEAVES when you check out, you will get an additional 10% off!! Who doesn't love a deal like that?! Hurry, the sale ends October 21, 2014! Just click on the image below and start shopping!
http://www.currclick.com/cclick_autumn.php?affiliate_id=75616
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Disclosure: Since I believe CurrClick to be such a wonderful resource, I am an affiliate of theirs. I do receive a small percentage when an order is placed through one of my links.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Croc Soup Co: A Restaurant Review

http://www.crocsoup.com/
Photo courtesy of http://www.crocsoup.com/
We are always looking for restaurants that serve something a bit healthier and fresher. We found the perfect restaurant in Golden, CO - Croc Soup Co! It is a soup, sandwich, and salad place. According to their website:

"We're consumed with making soup. It's a passion that stems from an Italian heritage and a love for food and flavors from around the world.

In 2010, Daro Hyder quit his job as a big five consulting firm executive to pursue his dream of opening a gourmet soup shop. Using ingenuity in the kitchen, favorite family recipes, and recipes derived from chats with famous restaurant owners across the country, he launched a full alphabet of soups at Croc Soup Company in Golden, Colorado."

Their soups are made fresh daily, and they have vegan, dairy free, and gluten free choices in their soups. You can even taste them before deciding which to order.

We enjoyed their food so much, we went twice in the three days we were in Golden. The first trip, just Hubby and I went. He had a large Croc Soup Gumbo (spicy), and I had a small Broccoli Gruyere soup with a half Italian Croc sandwich. The next trip, Hubby and Son both had a large Potato Cheese soup; and I had a small Chicken Rice soup with a half Italian Salad. Everything was delicious ... even the Chicken Rice soup! So often, chicken soup in restaurants has little to no flavor. Not so at Croc Soup Co ... lots of wonderful seasoning.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Feeling Grateful After a Horrible Couple Weeks - Part 2

Continued... (Click here for Part 1)
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As of a couple days ago, our family is reunited. Looking back on the last couple of weeks, although they were horrible, I can see how God was looking out for us through it all. For each thing that went wrong, a lot also went right.

The hydraulics for our slides - We were expecting a major fix, but it turned out to be simple. Rather than a bad pump, the problem was a bad valve. What Hubby thought was metal flakes in the fluid turned out to be bubbles. What we thought would take days and thousands of dollars to fix, to half a day and cost less than $400. For all of that we are grateful.

The death of our beloved Schatzi - We are grieving the loss of this wonderful dog, and our motorhome feels very quiet and empty without her. However, that could have been worse as well. When we were in the vet for Tinker, we explained what happened to Schatzi. We already knew Schatzi had a bad heart. From our description of her death, the vet's best guess was that she died from heart failure. He told us that even if we had gotten her to an animal hospital, there wouldn't have been anything they could do for her. We were relieved to hear that information. We had also wondered what we would do with a pet that passed away while we were traveling. Where do you go with the pet? We were staying on the property of a friend of my sister-in-law when she died. He had a place on his property where he had buried pets that he had lost, and let us bury our Schatzi with them. Best of all, she spent her last couple days doing what she loved best - exploring outside. For all of that we are grateful.

Tinker getting sick - While Hubby had to take the motorhome to be fixed, we had a place to stay since it happened in a city where we have relatives. There was also another Fulltime Family staying in the area, so we were able to visit with family and friends during that week. We also had our own vehicle to get around in. The doctors and staff at The Animal Emergency Clinic were wonderful. They called every specialist they could think of, and even did research during their off hours to figure out what was wrong with Tinker. They all bonded with our dog, and gave her lots of love and attention while she was there. Best of all, while she is not completely out of the woods, she is getting better. For all of that we are grateful.

The hydraulics for the power steering and brakes - Hubby was driving in construction when the hydraulic line blew, and was able to get safely pulled over to the side of the road. Also, the big rig service shop was able to locate a replacement hose and have everything fixed within a few hours. For all of that we are grateful.

Our family is back together now and ready to put the last couple weeks behind us and enjoy a few days of fun before heading back to work.

Feeling Grateful After a Horrible Couple Weeks - Part 1

I am glad the last couple of weeks are over with. It was a period of time for us when one thing after another went wrong. We took our motorhome and trailer to pick up my sister-in-law in Tennessee and move her to Wyoming. No big deal, right? Load up her things in our trailer, drive across country together, unload her things. Well, not so easy.

When we got to Tennessee, the hydraulics that operate our slides quit working. Not that big a deal, as our motorhome is fully functional with the slides in. However, that also operates the nose of the coach which needs to slide out to gain access for fueling up. Big problem. Hubby took a look at it, and decided that the pump would need to be replaced. He also saw metal shavings in the hydraulic fluid which meant the whole system would need to be cleaned out. This meant a trip to HWH Corporation in Iowa to get it fixed.

Then came the heartbreak. Our second morning in Tennessee, our dog Schatzi started having trouble breathing. The closest vet that was open on a Saturday was almost an hour away. We loaded her up in the car and started heading there, but she died on the way. Words cannot express how lost and helpless we felt.

The plan was that we would take two days to get to St. Louis with the motorhome and trailer, while my sister-in-law would take one day in her car. We would spend a day together in St. Louis sight-seeing and visiting relatives and friends. We had purchased an older Toyota 4Runner in Wisconsin earlier this year and left it with some friends for a few months. They brought the vehicle to St. Louis for us. From St. Louis, my sister-in-law would head for Wyoming, and Hubby would drive the motorhome to Iowa, with me following behind in the 4Runner.
My sister-in-law with the RV and trailer hauling her household

Well, our first morning in St. Louis, our other dog, Tinker woke up coughing and wouldn't stop. We went into panic mode and started searching for an animal hospital that was open at 6:00am. The closest hospital couldn't take us because the doctor was in emergency surgery. Again, the next closest hospital was almost an hour away. We rushed to get her there where they admitted her for testing. We were told she had pneumonia, and her platelet count had dropped very low. They were worried about spontaneous bleeding and wanted to keep her for a few days. We were supposed to be in Iowa the next day.

So, the following day, my sister-in-law headed to Wyoming, Hubby headed to Iowa, and Son and I stayed with relatives in St. Louis. The whole week was up and down for Tinker. After running several tests, they decided that the low platelet count was probably a reaction to some medication she was on for a skin rash. They discontinued the medication, and within 24 hours here platelet count started to recover. Good news ... or so we thought. The next blood test showed elevated white blood cells, and liver enzymes. Her liver enzymes were dangerously high, and they could not figure out why. An ultrasound didn't reveal any clues. At this point, she had already been in the hospital for several days. When I went to visit her, it was obvious she was really sick. She could barely hold up her head. The only alternative they could come up with was to send us to a specialist that was two and a half hours away to have a liver biopsy done. At this point, we were starting to make the decision that we had put her through enough, and maybe we should just take her home and keep her comfortable. However, we were having a difficult time processing the fact that we may lose both dogs within a week. But then, we were given one small sliver of hope. We were told that in very rare cases, one of the antibiotics she was on could cause liver problems. We decided to discontinue that antibiotic and see what happened. That night I received a phone call from the doctor saying that she seemed perkier. The following afternoon, we were told she was much better and after a week in the hospital, we could finally take her home! We are so happy to have her back!

In the meantime, Hubby had the motorhome fixed and was on his way to Wyoming. He was within an hour of his sister's when a hydraulic line for the power steering and brakes blew. There he was stuck on the side of the road, waiting for tow-trucks for the motorhome and trailer. When Hubby called to say he had broken down, I started laughing, because at that point it was either laugh or cry. We were wondering what else could go wrong with this trip.

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To be continued... (Click here for Part 2)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Christmas in the Keys

We had a wonderful Christmas! We had some business meetings in Naples, FL, so we made the loooong trek from Port Aransas, TX to Naples, FL for a few days. We weren't very impressed with the Naples area, but it's possible we didn't give it much of a chance. Way too touristy for us. We went over to Marco Island, and couldn't even see the beach. Just hotel after hotel.

Considering the area is mostly city, we were surprised to hear of the wildlife in the RV park. We were warned that there was a bear in the park. Yes, you read that right ... we were surprised too. A bear in an RV park in Florida! Apparently the night before we got there, it came into the park and tried to make off with someone's grill! We were also reminded of the alligators in the area one day when we were out for a walk. We could hear something rather large splashing around in the storm drain. Another day while we were out walking, we came upon some very interesting birds. (If you can name the birds, please comment and let me know.)
From Naples, we headed down to the Keys to spend Christmas with our good friends the Travaglinos from Fulltime Families. We had a wonderful time! Ok, I know what you're thinking - "Isn't the Keys about as touristy as it gets?" Well ... yes it is, but in a much different way.  You can still enjoy the ocean view in the Keys. Besides, while the rest of the country was in a deep freeze, we were enjoying sunny 80 degree weather!

The day we got to the RV park, Hubby took a walk down to the pier at the cove. Shortly after I get this phone call saying I need to get down there right away. I run down to the pier and there is a family of manatees right there! Mama and calf swam right up to us ... it was amazing! Papa was there too, but stayed back aways. We saw manatee several more times and even had a bull swim between us for awhile when we were out in the kayaks.

We had a great time - enjoyed friends, kayaking, sunsets, etc.
Oh, and saw several iguanas!
We stayed on Key Largo, but took a day and drove down to Key West and the southernmost point of the continental United States. At that point we were actually closer to Cuba, then "home" in Key Largo!
Did I mention yet that we had a great time?! My family had to drag me away as I did NOT want to leave. I'm looking forward to going back someday and spending more time snorkeling, parasailing, etc. (The day we were supposed to go snorkeling it was windy and the water was too choppy.) I've realized that I could very easily become an island girl!
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