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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our last TRAVEL POST

In the process of preparing Hope Church for a new pastor the leadership repeatedly told itself and the congregation that THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE.  Don't fear it- prepare to adapt with constant prayer.

We've been praying lately, and especially today.

This is our last travel post.

Why?  Because as of 5 pm today we stopped traveling, at least by coach.

No, Bob Simcox, I did NOT wreck it, drive it into an alligator lagoon or into the Everglades.  We have just driven it until our budget for major maintenance repairs almost ran out. Today.

We had considered an extended warranty on FROG when we bought her but in our entire year of ownership have never seen one that looked good enough to buy.  So we self insured.

We put $20,000.00 back to cover any on road major expenses after we hit the road June 8.  You do the math.  We've been on the road seven months and have about $4,000.00 left after buying our 10 new batteries today and another new water pump (labor not covered in the new last month pump warranty), TV antenna repair.

And the $20,000 was to last not one, but at least two years.

This has been a hard day. I have learned the hard way that unless you have more ready cash than we had, or are able to do most of the labor on your RV yourself, as the former owner could, this life will empty your wallet.  And that kind of 'living the dream', as Mona recently said, can become 'living the nightmare'.

 A year ago we thought we'd done our home work to a T, but at an average of one $2,000 shop visit a month, in addition to regular oil changes and service, we just can't continue this adventure on the road.

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You may remember we had decided last week to look for a HOME BASE here in Alva.  Next Monday we have an appointment to look at a HOME.

We will still travel.  But only as we can use our Marriott Hotel Reward Points and timeshare program.  Unless Mona lets me buy us an umbrella tent so we can revisit the good old days!









Thank the Lord, we are so glad we found Alva before we found only $4,000 left in the repair fund. The community, the church, and the people.  Who of course ARE the community and the church.

And then there is the long, easily boated Caloosahatchee Waterway/River with the marina  at the foot of our mobile home park.  The turquoise water Captiva Island beaches an hour away. And did I mention the people of Alva?

Anyway, we have begun the process of researching local coach consignors.  There are two biggies right next to each other just 20 miles from Alva.  The two largest in Florida.  So while we will take a loss on the coach, it should be much less than if we tried to sell it ourselves, and
                                                                                    it should sell much faster.

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We want to thank you all for joining us on this fascinating trip across a small part of this amazing land called America.

And to so many of you we did not get to visit yet, who knows.  Our future home, and our future travel, are all in God's hands.  And so far He has not disappointed!

Happy New Year!

-Ken

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hanging around Alva a little bit longer

This is post number 248 to this blog, almost 200 of them posted once every day of our journey since we left Douglassville, Pa on Sunday June 8, 2014.  This will be the last post which will be religiously sent each day.  We will continue to post, but only as we come across easy to access free WIFI on the road. 

Today we dropped our Verizon Broadband package from 30 gigs to 15 a month, saving almost $125.00 a month in the process. But to stay under 15 gigs we can’t keep using Verizon cell towers to post to the blog every night.

Never fear, we will still post to Facebook all of the pictures we feel our followers might be interested in, and we will post blog articles in more detail when free WIFI is available.

However we have not seen enough response to the Book Blog which we’ve been posting just as regularly so that will close now.

Let us know if you will miss it and if enough folks want it, perhaps Mona will bring it back.

The impetus to make this change is today’s decision to actively pursue a possible contract to purchase a mobile home in Oak Park, less than a mile from Alva UMC. We can’t discuss any details or show pictures of the home at this time as the owner is very unsure about selling it at all.  But they have set a price, so they are that sure at least.



I can say the home is a triple wide with spacious neatly trimmed tree shaded lawns on all sides. The interior has had many upgrades and the large Lanai/Florida Room faces considerable open space. If it comes on the market it will be sold with all furnishings as is, possibly including the CLUB golf cart now in use by the owner, and definitely including the large flat screen HD TV & Surround Sound system (ahhhhhhh).

No rush for us. As each day passes we are more sure this is where we will soon call home base, and if not in this house, then in another.

After beginning this possible purchase process we relaxed ourselves by going once more to one of the nicest Laundromats we’ve been anywhere in these contiguous United States.  Then a really delicious pizza and bruschetta lunch was enjoyed by all next door to the pretty laundry.  Next we discovered Franklin Lock, on the Caloosahatchee Waterway, about eight miles down stream from Alva and Oak Park’s marina.



Here the US  Corps of Engineers maintains a truly pristine campground, nature park, and lock system for all water traffic across the state of Florida and a white sand beach.

Today we saw turtles in the water (stay clear, they snap) and Mona thought she saw a manatee.  They sometimes come up river even east of Alva.




We saw only small recreational craft use the locks, in both directions, today, but they were fun to watch go through as we sat and read on the beach.

We will be hanging here at Alva UMC  a bit longer still.  We now need to purchase 8 new high capacity coach batteries and 2 new commercial starter batteries for the engine & genny.

We’ll get the sporadic cycling of the water pump in order then, and the TV antenna fixed, as well.

There’s a Camping World nearby that offers a 10% discount to Good Sam folk. I’m a good Ken, most of the time, but I always carry a Good Sam Card.

Stay tuned!


-Ken

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Home base? Really??

We were almost late for church this morning! Too much early morning Facebooking to finish I think. But we made it just in time for the 8:30 am traditional service.

Martha opened and led the service for Ralph, who was finally feeling well enough to travel and flew north yesterday to Pittsburg to see his kids. She preached a powerful message of personal testimony concerning the value of heart knowledge over head knowledge of Jesus.  They are a both/and thing.






Between services Pastor Joey lay at the feet of all who attended welcoming them to the House of the Lord.














Sunday School followed the overloaded refreshment table between services and today Buddy led the class.  Mitch and Myrna could not make it as Myrna was busy all night at the Fort Worth ER.  Her blood pressure was spiking.  But she came home and was resting today.




The children’s bell choir led us in a rousing carol during the offering at the second service.  They have these cool colored bells and follow a very simple set of color coded cards to ring the right ones.  Beautiful!




In the first service Martha asked me to lead the offering and pastoral prayer time for her.  At the second contemporary service, which without the Praise Team this morning was pretty traditional itself, she allowed me to lead the church in gathering around a dear young woman who was rededicating herself to Christ after hearing Martha’s message. What a time!









 
Such a beautiful day did not go unnoticed by Mona who posed for a pic between the Christian Ed and Worship Buildings at Alva UMC.





Well, we have been en-tranced.  The lovely and well laid out manufactured home community called Oak Park about half a mile out of town attracted us today to have a more than cursory look about. Its location on the river and its neat and well spaced homes are part of the attraction.  Its seclusion from any major highways yet easy access to them via the drawbridge in Alva is another.

These are homes we now know we can afford, as opposed to the homes in the Hilton Head area.  And buying one could allow us to retain the coach for long trips of exploration away from a new Alva home base.

While visiting homes for sale, all of which are only for sale by owner (these homes sell off the MLS grid to friends and family so there are no agent fees then, either) we met a couple who just got married Christmas Eve.  In fact, Bonnie and Pat attended the Christmas Eve service and Ralph introduced us to them just before he began their private service.

We were looking at a home and next door out popped Bonnie and Pat with a new sign they were putting up in front of what had been her home.  So they allowed us to photo them and make them famous.








We saw several homes for sale that might have worked and two that are good possible, but we aren’t ready to sign on the dotted line just yet.  We’ll be talking to a local broker who is a member at Alva UMC tomorrow so that we can determine just how we should proceed if one of these homes come up that God sends us to look at.

When we arrived back at Alva UMC there was a tiny backpacker’s tent pitched under a tree near Pearl Street.  We heard the church youth group having fun around the area so assumed the tent was theirs.  Not so.

Dan is a Physics instructor at a boarding school in Boca Raton, and is taking a school holiday while his children are not (they are in a Hebrew School. No Christmas holiday). His wife is working all week as well so he’s bicycling out to Pine Island, etc, for four days.  He’s camping here at Alva Church for a reason similar to ours.  He was attracted to the little town across the river from the major highway, and it’s church lawn.

Tomorrow is laundry day, and we’ll also be visiting the Oak Park office to ask some questions we could not get answered today about the community. And to see if any of the benefits we saw for a home base today were imagined by our desires to become a part of this very interesting community.

We never imagined, beyond an agreement that if our budget tight enough we could live in a manufactured home, that we would ever be looking seriously at manufactured homes.

We never imagined we’d be looking at South Florida as a home base. Isn’t Florida all Disney, gator-ramas, and crowds?

But this weather!  And we are only 8 hours drive from Hilton Head, and we know a church up there that has invited us to come back and dry camp with them any time. And only 20 hours from Pennsy (plus sleep time!).

If this is a God-thing, then He will show us the way.


-Ken