Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017 is here and we have lots of news to share!

January 17, 2017

As the title states we have lots of news to share!  This will not be posted until the end of March or sometime in April (life has a way of changing things - as tomorrow will be Sept 1 - and now today is October 1, 2017) when we put our house on the market.  We have decided to sell our house and live in our RV full-time.  We are in the planning stages of obtaining property to park Bentley when we are in the Oswego/Parsons/Columbus area due to our family and friends here.  Last year we traveled almost 5 months in Bentley and nearly 6 months the year before.  We are extremely comfortable and totally enjoy living in the RV when we are on the road.  Once we make the transition to full-time living, if we decide we want to take off for Branson, meet up with an RV friend or group, or want to take off on a longer trip we just have to unhook and drive away - no more hauling stuff in and out.  We plan to do more extensive travels where we will be gone several months at a time.  Fortunately being in the center of the country it allows us the opportunity to stop as we crisscross the US in order to visit family and friends.

Living with only the things you need as we must do in the RV due to space limitations has been extremely freeing.  Our RV has many windows which we love.  When we are parked in a beautiful setting we can enjoy some wonderful views, sunsets, sunrises, etc., however it limits our wall space  in the way of wall decorations.  We have three decorative signs that were given to us near the time we retired - they are the extent of our wall art to date.  I plan to add a family picture of each of our kids that will be placed on a wall somewhere in the rig.  One additional item I will find room for---my granddaughter made me a "travel picture using scrapbooking items along with some of her own creative ideas" that fits our wandering style.

We had originally intended to winter (Jan-Mar) in Texas this year (2017).  However, with the decision to sell the house in the spring we decided to stay home and do a few upgrades before putting it on the market. We are currently painting the kitchen cabinets, and we have already made some changes to our laundry room. We tackled these two projects first as they were the ones on our list with the most work involved.  We expect the others to be completed by the end of March, or at least we hope!

Painting the cabinets gave me a chance to go through all of our kitchen appliances, dishes, pots and pans, etc. and there will be very little going back in the cabinets.  I do plan to keep some items that we will store at a location to be determined in the next few months.  My daughter is going to receive a number of these items and my sisters will get a chance at what they want before the remainder is either sold at a garage sale or given to charity.  A few things will go in the RV but there will also be a few things come out as well.  We'll try to stay with that rule as time goes by.

One of the biggest items to tackle is what to do with all of our pictures and papers!  I'm not sure I'll get it all done before we actually begin our new adventure but hopefully I'll have a place to store them and can work on them a box at a time until they are completed.  I recently purchased Mrs. Geek's Guide "Google Photos..Your Lifetime of Memories Effortless and Free" by Chris Guld of Geeks on Tour.  I hope to utilize her recommendations to build a wonderful picture file that I can eventually carry with us on our computer (saved in the cloud) wherever we go.

Of course there are many other things to consider - what clothes to take; what, if any furniture should we keep; what important papers should we keep and the best way to maintain them; changing addresses; and I'm sure many more as we begin the process of going through closets, drawers, cabinets, the garage, etc.

We intend to maintain our residence in Kansas.  While property taxes on real estate and vehicles are high, we will only have the new truck (high), my 8 year old van (reasonable), and the RV property (reasonable) taxes.  As a government employee I do not have to pay state taxes on my retirement so that is a plus but we must live in Kansas to get this benefit---unless another state does not have state income tax.  When I retired I was able to continue on the city's health insurance program as a retiree and that also somewhat dictates our residence here. Even though I have to pay an administrative fee of 125%, it is still $100 less than what I would have to pay if I went with the Affordable Care Act. It's a good plan and affordable so it helps make the decision easy. Since we have three children in this area, as well as a number of our family members it is a great place to have a place to park for a period of time.  We cannot imagine ever being gone between Thanksgiving and Christmas in order to spend the holidays with our families, but it won't take us long to pull up our jacks and head south soon afterwards.  We plan to winter in Texas each year (Jan-Mar), and possibly Arizona or Florida in the future.

We have decided to make use of mail service provided by UPS.  One of our RV friends recently retired and told us about this option.  They use the Pittsburg, KS location which is nearby.  I do dread the thought of changing our address!  I should begin keeping track of our mail now - it might save me some time in a few months.  While all of our routine bills are automatically paid they will still need our address, phone number, etc.  What is really nice, I can have the mail service toss the junk mail before I ever receive it!  I love that idea.  By the way, if we are traveling, all we have to do is contact the Pittsburg UPS office and let them know where we will be and have them send it to the location we give them.  We will probably do this every 3 weeks or so. 

Update - January 28, 2017

I wish I would have made a note when we started working on the kitchen - I think it's been nearly 3 weeks and we are ready to get it finished.  All of the cabinets in the kitchen are painted and the trim was put up today.  We are working on the cabinets in the dining area now.  Dean is reworking some of those as a couple of boards cracked when we took the old top off of them.  I wish I had taken a picture of the before and after here.  These cabinets set under the dining area windows facing the south. The top of the cabinets was original to when the house was built almost 60 years ago.  There was some ugly grey linoleum on top with metal trim around the edge of it.  We have talked about redoing this since we moved in almost 10 years ago but never could decide what change we wanted. We have finally decided to go with a laminate on top that will compliment the wood of the windows. It will slide right under the window sills,  The cabinet top is not wide enough for window seating, and making the cabinets larger to accommodate that would just take up too much room. We'll make a run to Lowe's tomorrow afternoon after church and hope to get all of the materials so we can get as much work done as possible before the laminate arrives, since we'll have to order it.

I have some areas to touch up with paint in the kitchen after Dean put up new molding this afternoon and then I will put a new coat of paint on the walls---I'm not changing the color.  I'll include a few before and after pictures when we are done.  Notice the sink in the second picture.  It is original to the house when it was built and is quite wide.  I love this sink and replacing it was not an option due to cost.  Originally, I had it painted black to match the appliances.  We recently had it redone to match the color of the cabinets.  The lighter color (as opposed to wood) has really brightened the kitchen area.

Cabinets after we painted them

Pallet wall Dean built.

New laminate on cabinets in dining area.  Kitchen/Dining walls were repainted (same color).

We are going to have some fun and goof off this Thursday (Feb 2).  We are going to the Tulsa Boat & RV Show.  While they have more boats than RV's, they do have a nice selection of various brands and types of RV's.  We always enjoy looking even though we love what we have, but most of all, it will be good to get out of the house for awhile.

Dean told me the other day he had "hitch itch" and I've had it since the end of December, so we are anxious for March to get here, so we can head south for a few weeks.  We are hoping all of our remodeling work is done before we leave.

Update:  March 6, 2017

While we have stayed very busy we still have work to do, however the big projects are done.  In the meantime Dean built a beautiful feature wall in our kitchen/dining area with pallet boards.  It was a blank space that needed something and we think it really added a lot of character to the room.  Dean has also changed out several of the light sockets/switches so they all match....something we've been meaning to do for quite awhile.  It's amazing how many little things you can let go once you are living in a house after working on it for three months straight before you were able to actually move into it.  Those little things do not seem so important, but now we want to take care of all of those "little" things we never got around to finishing.

Yesterday my sisters and my Aunt Lil came over to go through some kitchen items and the clothing I no longer want or need, before I donate it.  My aunt (my mom's sister's) and her family attend the Community Bible Church in Chetopa, KS.  Their church accepts donations of household items and clothing.  If a family is faced with a situation where they need items (fire, tornado, etc.) they can come in and obtain items to help them begin rebuilding at no cost.  They also hold "rummage sales" every few months.  The money is used to help support different programs they offer to the community and surrounding area.  My cousin's wife Sherry is very involved.  When we first retired one of the first things I did was go through every cabinet, closet, drawer, etc. and got rid of LOTS of STUFF!!!  I had a big garage sale and even though I've always had pretty good success with these sales and I held it in conjunction with our citywide garage sale it was a bust.  Overall the number of people attending was down considerable so I'm not sure if it was that or what I had to sale. Afterwards, I found out I could donate to the church and that is what I have done since then.  There is a lot of work to prepare for and hold a garage sale.  It is much less work to load the same boxes, containers, etc. I would have for the garage sale into my van and transport it 8 miles south and unload it.  Last year I went through everything again and took another large load down, and this one will be as big as the first two if not larger, and will probably require a minimum of two trips.  (I've since made another trip and will have one final one to make when the house sells.)

Once we have all of the "stuff" out, my sister Cindy will help me "stage" the home to put it on the market.  I would love to stay in Bentley during the time the house is for sale - for minimal cleaning purposes.  Having to make sure everything is constantly ready for showing can be pretty tiring when we still have many other things to do in our final preparation of a move, once a sale actually takes place.  Of course we hope a sale will happen soon, but you never know how long it may take.  If we only had to deal with keeping everything "perfect" for a few weeks that might not be too bad, but if it continues for a longer time, I'm for living in Bentley as it's quite comfortable.  We'll see how that all shakes out.  (Update:  we have been staying in Bentley since we returned from a trip to see our son Matt, his wife Megan and children Josh and Sarah to Kentucky and Ohio---I wrote about that trip on the blog.)

With all of this going on we have limited our travels this year to two BIG rallies - the Escapade rally in Tucson.  We will leave a week from today (March 13) for approximately 3 weeks.  When we return we will hit the final items on our list - mostly deep cleaning inside and out before we post the listings on various internet sites:   Facebook; Zillow; and puting a For Sale Sign in our yard.  We get a reasonable amount of traffic on our road as it connects to a couple of roads leading outside of Oswego, but in a community of less than 2,000 people news travels fast once the word gets out.

We have also signed up for the National rally for the Heartland Owners Club - our Bentley is a Heartland Bighorn.  This is our first national rally and we are really looking forward to it.  It is in June and will be held in Goshen, IN.  We will be gone approximately 4 weeks.  Other than that we just plan to attend our local chapter of Escapees casual campouts once a month and visit Treasure Lake RV Resort in Branson. Hopefully we get some of the kids/grandkids to visit us while in Branson.  Treasure Lake has a number of cabins available for rent, allowing members of owner's families to stay.  The rates are very affordable and allows us all to be near each other during their stays.  We intend to purchase annual Silver Dollar City tickets with the hope we get to enjoy those visits with our grandkids.

Update:  August 31, 2017

Well by now many of you know our house IS for sale, even though our timing was not quite as quick as we originally had hoped, but we believe it's all in God's timing.  We have a big FOR SALE sign in the yard, it is posted on Zillow and today we posted it to Facebook.  That really got things moving as we had our first showing this afternoon.  We also had several people ask why we were selling - so the word is out-- when the house sells we plan to full-time in our RV (Bentley).  This is something we've talked about since we first bought the RV but it wasn't until we had spent so much time on the road and realized how much we truly enjoyed traveling and how simple our lives were without so much "stuff" that we thought we could really do this.

We've spent the last couple of months doing some deep-cleaning, working on the flower beds, Dean power washed the chimney outside (from ground to top), and the house.  We've changed out outdoor lights, power washed the patio, and lots of little things just to spruce things up. 

Another thing that occurred since my previous update in March was a little health scare I had after we returned from Arizona.  We returned to Oswego on April 1.  About mid week I started coughing.  We watched our grandsons in Wichita that weekend and by Sunday afternoon I was feeling awful puny.  By Monday I felt horrible. I've only had the flu once or twice and that's what I assumed I had. I've never run a fever, chilled, ached or was in such a fog as what I was Monday and Tuesday. Dean wanted me to go to the doctor on Tuesday and I didn't argue at all.  They gave me an antibiotic and by the weekend I had large red spots start showing up on my legs and arms with a raised small, hard nodule in the middle of them.  I called the Dr. office on Monday to see if I could come in but the doctor was out of town attending a conference.  The receptionist called me back though and said I needed to come in first thing the next day because the Dr. wanted to see me.  At first they thought I might have Stevens Johnson Syndrome.  I had a horrible cough and I had been coughing for over a week ALL THE TIME and VERY VERY HARD, and my left side hurt when I coughed or laid down. The only thing that kept me from coughing was sucking on a cough drop.  I was getting really tired of them by now, but believe me it was much better than coughing.  Because of the cough and how sick I had been they also had me get a chest x-ray.  It came back saying I had a prominent mass in the left lobe of my lung and indicated it was highly suspicious for a neoplasm (Tumor of some kind). It also said I had pneumonia and that I have had it before - if I was ever told this in the past, I do not remember it.  They highly recommended a CT scan which my doctor scheduled immediately for the following Wednesday.  She had the results for me on Friday and the CT scan also indicated a possible tumor suspicious for bronchogenic carcinoma.  Bless her, as she already had me scheduled for a needle biopsy on Monday morning.

The hardest part of all of this was telling my kids what was going on.  I have to admit that as much as I tried to stay strong, positive and upbeat it was hard to do, and it was hard for them and Dean.  The weekend was busy through the days and I did great but on Sunday night before the needle biopsy I woke up in the early morning hours.  I was really struggling even though I had felt God was with me and just knew it was going to be okay.  I had downloaded some Bible verses about feeling anxious and trusting God.  I got them out and I read these over several times. That helped me a lot.  I also talked to God and told him that whatever he had in store for me I was willing to accept it - if this was leading to my time to go, then I understood.  I hated the thought I might have to leave my husband, my kids and my grandkids who I love dearly but we all have a time to go.  I just felt God told me then and there it would be okay and I was able to go back to bed and slept fine until morning. We arrived at the hospital and after giving me a wonderful beverage to drink for the cat scan in order to do the biopsy - it wasn't too bad since it had a slight banana taste to it, they took me on back for the biopsy. I have to say everyone there was wonderful and so very kind.  They had to do another cat scan to locate where they needed to insert the needle.  I waited for quite awhile and I could see everyone looking at something in the cubicle where they could see the results on screen and talking.  Finally the doctor came out and asked me if I had been sick in the last few days. I told him no, I had not been sick since the first week of April.  He told me that the mass was not solid, it was "breaking up" - and that was a good thing.  It was not cancer!  I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and I still get a little choked up just thinking about this because God is so very good. They called my doctor and she still wanted the doctor to take some biopsies of the area so we could determine exactly what was going on and they did that.  Other than a little pressure as they inserted the needle I didn't feel anything.  I was pretty emotional the rest of the day just thanking God for keeping his hand on me and bringing me through this time.

Two days later I met with my doctor again and she told me that what I had was sarcoidosis - a disorder that causes tiny nodules (granulomas) of inflamed tissue to develop in the body's organs - in my case, my lungs.  It almost always starts in the lungs but can also affect several other areas of the body.  The cause is not known.  It frequently causes mild symptoms and resolves on its own, and the most common symptoms are cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.  I had a horrible cough and pain in my upper left side especially when I coughed or laid down.  I was at a doctor's office at least once a week for most of April and May and periodically on into June.  My doctor was wonderful and since my insurance year ended June 30 her office worked diligently to get me into see a lung specialist and an ophthalmologist as sarcoidosis can also affect your eyes.

I had to do two tests at the lung specialists - one was a 10 minute walk around their office - I about wore the nurse out on the walk - no lie! and I passed the breathing test with flying colors - all GOOD NEWS!  The good news is my primary doctor had started me on prednisone within a week of the first time she saw me which the lung specialist said was perfect - but the BAD news is he upped it to 40mg a day.  I had no idea what this would do.  He wanted me to come back in 4 weeks but we would be gone on our trip to Indiana for the Heartland Rally.  I asked him if we could do it in 5 weeks - but he was going to be gone so he said 6 weeks. That worked for me and he saw no problem with us taking our trip as planned.  Well, by the time we arrived in Indiana I was starting to notice my face was swelling, my neck, my upper back, my upper arms, etc.  Ugh!!!  I do not like prednisone but unfortunately it is necessary at this point in time.  Dean and I had started walking as soon as I felt like it without having to cough too much - that was probably toward the end of May and we were soon walking 2-3 miles a day in our city park.  We continued to walk during our travels to Indiana and almost every day of the Heartland rally and on our way home.  The doctor was very glad we were doing this and said keep that up!

I saw an opthamologist on June 23rd and discovered the pressure in my right eye was higher than it should be, which can be a sign of glaucoma.  He told me that however it could be due to the predisone, and has scheduled me for a field test in December.  "Taken from the Glaucoma Research Foundation---A visual field test is a subjective measure of central and peripheral vision, or “side vision,” and is used by your doctor to diagnose glaucoma and if present the severity of, and monitoring of your glaucoma. The most common visual field test uses a light spot that is repeatedly presented in different areas of your peripheral vision."  In the meantime, Dr. Slokum, my lung specialist reduced my prednisone from the 40 mg to 20 mg a day.  I feel God is going to bring me through the eye issue just fine. 

I just saw my lung specialist again last week (August 22) and I'm doing so well that he has ordered a new CT scan and breathing test for me.  If everything looks good he will start decreasing my dosage of prednisone below the 20 mg.  I haven't coughed since around the end of May and my side has not hurt for several weeks now.  I've never really had a problem breathing except for when I was coughing.  I just believe that God has healed me from this.  I was blessed to have my primary doctor that stayed right with me through this entire experience.  I feel so blessed to be doing so well considering what I could have been facing.  I just have to give God thanks for keeping his hand on me and carrying me through this trying time.  It has certainly strengthened my trust in God and what he will do for us if we just believe in him and let him take control of our life.

By the way we have decided not to purchase property at this time but when we are in the Oswego area we will stay in the local RV Park which my cousin Todd is buying from my Uncle on Sept 1. We expect to spend 2-4 months here throughout the year - 3 of our children and their families live in this area and it is important and necessary for us that we get kid and grandkid fixes a few times a year!!! We also look at this as a way to spend more time in the Wichita area as well since 2 of our children and their families are there, and to visit our son and his family in New York every other year, at least.  They typically come home once a year for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Having family scattered around the country is another bonus of this mobile life.  We can include stops to see them as we move around! 

So there is our news!  Keep us in our prayers that all of this comes together as God would have it.

Update:  October 1, 2017
Last night we had a second showing of the house to the couple who looked a few weeks ago.  They have looked at a lot of houses here in Oswego and other neighboring communities, and still like ours. We are trusting God to provide the right buyer.  We hope this is the one, but if not God will put another one in our path when the time is right.  Fortunately we do not have to sell the house, however when you consider how much we pay in insurance and taxes, along with upkeep that goes with a home it just makes sense to sell it until we decide traveling full-time is no longer an option for us.  We may as well be saving that money each month.  It's always a problem making sure the lawn is taken care of while we are gone.  Fortunately we have good neighbors and during a bad wind storm earlier this year our neighbor noticed we had lost a piece of siding off the house.  He retrieved it and put it in a safe place until we returned.  It will be nice not to worry about things like this while we are gone, especially when we are on extended trips for several months at a time.

In a follow up with my primary doctor about 4 weeks ago, we discovered that while prednisone is a good medicine to combat sarcoidosis, it can also create other issues - since starting it I've had to increase my blood pressure medication, however it is now normal again; my recent blood tests show I am pre-diabetic so that is the reason for the new low carb diet, and as of last Tuesday I have lost 13 pounds and my belt has gone down 4 notches so that is a good thing (I really needed to lose weight, so I look at this as God can use any situation to improve other areas of your life.)  My cholesterol has also shot up but hopefully the low carb diet will also bring those numbers down.  I will go back in 2 months for a follow up blood test to see how things are going but I expect to see a big change.  The alternative is to begin medication and I do not believe that will happen.  Just knowing medication is an option is enough to keep me on this diet - which really has not been that difficult to do.  Sweets are hard but there are ways to still get sweets without having all of the carbohydrates in your diet.  We are trying to walk a minimum of 2 miles every morning and when we can, we walk an additional 2 miles in the evening.  With the cooler evenings it is much easier to do.  I know that "this too shall pass" and life will move on it will be just "a moment" in the big picture of life.  God really is good!

Thanks for letting me share our big news about our new way of living and what all God has done for us.  We serve a mighty God and I'm so thankful we have his assurance that he is always there for us.

I know this post has jumped around quite a bit as I have shared a lot of thoughts over the past 9 months while we work through all that has been happening.  Remember, I always look forward to any comments or questions you might have, so don't hesitate to comment on the blog at the bottom of each post.  Thanks so much for following along.

1 comment:

  1. What a cool idea to post-date a blog page. I've been thinking about you guys and especially Cheri and the medical issues. You can't do any better than putting your trust in God. The doctors, family, friend and you are given strength that is needed to work through it. No doubt you know where you are headed someday and it will be glorious. But we all want you here for a bit longer. Stay positive and avoid the depression of not being able to do everything you want to do for a short time. That's hard to do. I'll bet Dean is a huge help.

    It may not be fair to compare people against one another but Karen and I both will admit you are among our favorites in the couples that we have met exploring life in an RV. Just last week we visited a couple from California who camped just down from where we met you guys in Blue Springs the last time. I'll admit spending at least a little time thinking back about the visit with you guys while at the campsite. You are setting the example for folks like us and we both appreciate it very much.

    Good luck on the house! Here at our home there never seems to be time to get at the stuff on my list. Working 50 plus hours a week does not help. Karen recently enrolled for social security and says she is spending some of her money to hire a guy to get some of the work done. She is doing that for me and it's been tough to let go of those projects. I know I can do the work and would actually enjoy it. But, it takes away from other priorities.

    I may have a little jump start on you guys in terms of scanning documents and photos. Wish we lived closer to one another and I would loan you our fast scanner. Are you guys renting a storage unit? We are leaning towards a 5x5 or 5x10 climate controlled unit at first. And maybe leaving two boxes at our daughters. We know we should get rid of it all but the money for a unit for a couple years is a fair price to pay for insurance should we not find life in an RV is what we want then nothing much lost. Besides, we want to store a few things we might not be sure we need on the road. Then during trips home we can change stuff out.

    I could see us buying a lot or something with a shed someday should we stay on the road past say six years.