Dayton means Eagles!

The nesting pair of Bald Eagles in Dayton has been the object of attention and affection for the past three years by a small cadre of observers who called themselves the Eastwood Eagle Watchers. The eagles have finally been successful this year in hatching and raising two babies, and the youngsters are due to fledge (fly for the first time) any day.

What better weekend to hold a cookout at Eastwood Lake?

And we were there. Robyn was a supremely faithful Eastwood Eagle Watcher each year….right up to the point where we moved into the Taxi and took off. Today was a warm and wonderful reunion for her with the four or five others who have been such faithful supporters of this pair of eagles. Ho ho, and the food was great! She even managed to eat some of the softer stuff.

But the topper was when everybody grabbed their cameras and binoculars, and headed to the nest.

As you can see, no adults, just the two immatures on a branch off the edge of the nest…..just itching to fly!

Robyn’s dental work


No more wisdom teeth for Robyn. All four pulled this morning, plus another problem tooth, and she’s already demonstrating a fine recovery. Dr Daniel Cobb’s office staff did a superlative job, and Robyn is a superlative patient.

Ahh, but another key ingredient in this mix was dear friend Ann Barker, who performed taxi driver chores so the Big Taxi could stay parked and minimize upheaval for Ross & Ryan. She was superlative as well, and did so much more than provide transportation!

It all adds up to the best comfort possible.

We get to share all the best!

Although we keep on the move, it allows us to skim the cream.

We spent a day with Grandma Fell in Kokomo, then left her yesterday morning and made the big drive to Dayton for an afternoon appointment about the twins. At 150 miles, that’s double our usual max for a day. Busy day, too. Had to fill the diesel tank, and stock up on provisions in preparation for Robyn’s dental work this morning and the possibility we would be immobile for many days.

Also had to catch big brother Jared’s softball game at Delco Park in Kettering. Great park on a lovely evening!

Had a chance to get Ross walking on his own, just following Robyn’s voice. Rare for him, but he did very well!

Also rare for the three brothers to be together! Got to watch Jared’s game while parked alongside the curb, windows open just outside the outfield fence….could hear the banter of the players and the smack of the ball as it hit Jared’s catcher mitt, even with our air conditioning running!

It was a day filled with the best!

A quiet walk

We usually find ourselves in new surroundings….that has been a major point of this whole arrangement with the Big Taxi. Sometimes you’ve gotta be careful what you ask for!

New surroundings means you spend time getting your bearings, finding where basic needs can be met, and figuring out where the good stuff is and where the bad stuff is. We can spend most of our time getting, finding, and figuring….where’s time to actually use the information?

But what’s our rush? We rarely have a schedule. So we take our time.

On the other hand, we also find ourselves stuck in a circumstance without the ability to know ahead of time or to be prepared.

Today, for example. We came into Bremen, IN last Friday evening on a whim, at the invitation of the new friend we made at the generator service company in Elkhart. He was heading to a shop that he said did really nice paint and repair work (Precision Painting & Interiors), where a bunch of its employees previously worked for the company that built our coach (Travel Supreme). In fact, Precision Painting had painted all of the factory’s coaches (true, their sticker is in our coach).

We were scheduled in two weeks with another shop for repair or adjustment of issues we bought with the coach; maybe Precision could deal with them now.

Sure enough, if we’d wait a day, they could do our list. We waited at their big new shop, plugged in to 50 amp electric, access to fresh water and sewer dump right there, huge expanses of concrete to walk on, surrounded by mowed lawns. What’s the rush, life is good!

Today we drove the half mile to the other shop: classic scruddy automotive repair shop, room for 10 coaches inside, dreadful brief parking lot, no berm or sidewalk on the narrow street. They decide to work on our rig in the parking lot!

Well, at least it’s a lovely day and we can stay inside the coach.

Their guys work hard, work steadily, work with a sense of humor, and even accept some help from me! I even remember another issue to fix: a little wind sensor on the roof that brings in the big awning when the wind gets too strong, even if we’re not there….it was broken when we bought the coach. Sure, they can fix it because it’s easy and they have a replacement in stock. Ho ho, sure they do….it’s worth its weight in gold: $180! But it could save a $6000 awning.

But as you know, Ross & Ryan cannot simply stay in the Taxi all day, no matter how nice the breeze, how good the Clapton music, how wonderful Robyn’s food. They’ve gotta walk.

Robyn, she wants a nice, quiet walk, especially for Ross.

What Robyn wants, she usually gets, one way or another.

A quiet walk just half a block from our outdoor repair site (notice the sign):

Lies, damned lies, and…..statistics

We stand (sit, actually) at the end of two full months of living full time in the Big Taxi, and find we’ve accumulated a bunch of numbers during that time:

0 times stranded by breakdown
1 urgent repair
4 nights camped in state parks
4.3 miles moved per gallon of fuel purchased
7 nights camped beside churches
9 service events
9 stops for fuel
12 nights camped at service providers
14 nights camped at Wal*Mart, Home Depot, Kroger, or Lowe’s
24 stops for fresh water & dump holding tanks
59 miles per day
249 hours of Hydro Hot diesel burner water heater
264 hours of diesel generator
668 gallons of fuel
$2,785.56 spent for fuel
2871 miles traveled (started keeping track late; that’s for only 7 weeks)

The misleading statistic is 4.3 miles per gallon: diesel fuel we purchase also runs the generator (usually 2-4 hours per day to recharge batteries, more when we need AC), and runs our heater (just last night!) which also heats our water.

Mileage! always grabs peoples’ attention, but we empty our 100-gallon water tank in just days and are constantly looking for good sources. We usually stop for fuel only about once a week just to keep the 150-gallon tank full enough not to have to buy in Indiana where the taxes on diesel are about 20 cents per gallon higher than Michigan or Ohio (Indiana station signs announce the price without any tax!)

Priceless: all the time Robyn and I have spent so comfortably doing life with Ross & Ryan!

And with each of you.

Just a hint….

We’ll be in Dayton this Thursday afternoon, and Robyn will have all 4 wisdom teeth pulled Friday morning. Your prayers will be much appreciated.

She is so optimistic about the outcome that she’s scheduled us to participate in an Eastwood Eagle Watchers potluck on Sabbath (Saturday) at Eastwood Lake Metropark!

Stop on by!

We’ll be in the woods section with a shelter, not on the lake. Look for the Big Taxi!

It isn’t always what it seems

We often find something wonderful in the midst of negative.

Generator quit Wednesday and that took out our 3 rooftop ACs, right in the midst of near 100 degree heat in lower Michigan. Only 50 miles from a great shop that sells these big diesel generators.

HA, they couldn’t schedule us before next Tuesday!

We still went to their shop, because they had a “campground” out back where we could plug in. But their plug is only 30 amps, and we need 50 to run everything. Double HA, we could run only 1 AC that night, and frequently had to switch it off in order to run something else big.

They got to us on Friday!

Good news, it was only a $15 belt! Ouch, 3 hours labor!

Bad news after 2 hours: they don’t have the belt. Can’t get it before Monday. We’ll spend the weekend out back.

Good news after 2 more hours: they’ll take one off a new one in the back, and we’ll be on our way!

Here’s what was wonderful: another customer with a coach nearly identical to ours got to talking with us, and we made a good friend. He has already introduced us to another very good shop to do some of the specialized work we might need in the future (and we’re “camping” with him at that shop this weekend, so we can talk to the staff on Monday).

It also turned out that the generator shop staff worked very hard for us, the bill was quite reasonable, and we found they are equipped and trained to work on another of our crucial systems. We will begin seeing them for routine maintenance of these two systems which will probably avoid emergencies such as we experienced.

God helped us keep cool and collected (a number of customers and staff commented about our pleasant demeanor throughout this dreadful process) and we made it just fine through a very challenging several days.

Had to completely revise our plan for 7 days, but really, what was so important about that plan? Interestingly, the change in route on Wednesday night brought us to the edge of quite a storm system, so by Thursday morning we almost needed our heater! And you’ve gotta wonder how severe the storm MIGHT have been where we had been headed for the night.

We’re finding that what seems like a good plan isn’t always, and what seems like a really dreadful circumstance isn’t always!