February 26, 2015

Less Paper

I'm not quite ready to go paperless so I'll do the next best thing - less paper.

I guess I'm somewhat 'old school' about paper.  There are bills, receipts, even calendars from years past stored in our house and at our business.  There's even more at the shop because we need to keep records of previous employees, finished projects (in case we need to repeat them), government filings and so on.

At home I keep all of our paid bill stubs in an organizer.  It's been my system ever since I can remember.  The bills that are due are kept in a separate organizer.  In the before photo to the left, the organizer is bursting at the seams.  Yet there is another pile of current stubs that need to go INTO the box.    

The solution is simple.  Time to toss out the old stubs.  I go through each and every folder, taking out stubs from the year 2013 and older.  I keep the mortgage receipts for slightly longer, just in case.  Some of the stubs date as far back as 2008!  I suppose it's been awhile since I've had to empty it out.

WOW -> 5" of paper
The result is a whopping 5" of paper ready to get shredded.  Although it weighs just 8 pounds, the pile seems mighty small to bother taking it to the shredding company.  I decide to go through the boxes of old receipts at the shop.  I need to keep records for seven years.  It's the recommended amount of time according to my tax accountant.  I toss out the yearly bookkeeping materials for years 2006 and 2007.  I toss out the employees files too.  We haven't had employees in quite awhile I realize as the folders are dated 1998 and 1999...

All together I had 64 pounds of paper to shred.  Now that is worth the trip to the shredding company.  They charge 79 cents per pound.  Such a bargain, in my opinion.  I can't imagine how much time it would have taken to manually shred all of that.   

I'm thinking eventually starting today I'll scan my paid bill stubs and shred them myself as I pay them.  Then in another year when I'm ready to toss what's left in the organizer, it'll be the last time.

February 21, 2015

Ghost Mountain Ranch Resort

Just the name conjures up images of sitting around a campfire.listening to a good story or song.  I remember camping as a young teenager and the many campfires we would have as a family.  On the weekends when my step-dad would have his daughters, Cathy and Wendy, Cathy would play her guitar and sing songs at the campfire.

singing around a campfire sparks as many memories as the fire itself

Our family belonged to an RV group and we would camp together once a month.  One Christmas Cathy was asked to play and sing as the evening entertainment at our potluck.  She asked me and my sister, Suzie, to join her and Wendy in the singing.  We had a great time figuring out which songs to sing, rehearsing and then finally putting on our show.  I remember we had some of the audience crying as we sang touching melodies for our family and friends.      

Great memories...  back to topic...

Last October when we went to the Pomona RV Show I entered into as many drawings as I could.  You never know when they might 'pick' your name.  Just last night I received a call saying that I was a winner of 20 nights camping, an Android tablet and $100 fuel card.  The caller said there was a resort campground in my area called Ghost Mountain Ranch RV Resort.  Of course Ron and I will have to attend a 90 minute presentation in order to receive our gifts but after looking at the website I'm thinking it might be a fun afternoon.

The Ranch was originally built as a set for the popular 60's TV series "The Virginian".  The location is in the Sierra foothills just outside of Pollock Pines.  It's 325 acres offers many amenities including a swimming pool, BBQ area, old west feel 'ghost town', hiking/biking trails, horseback riding, nearby lakes and golf courses, ice cream parlor, old west style saloon and more.  What more could a girl want?!

It's about an hours drive from our home to the resort.  We have a golf cart tour of the grounds scheduled on an upcoming Sunday afternoon.  We plan to enjoy our day by driving up the hill, eating our lunch at a local restaurant and then taking the tour of the resort before heading back home for the evening.  Of course, we'll probably fall in love with the place.  We'll have to stand our ground and say No Thank You to whatever offer they may come up with for us to join their membership.  I wonder how much it costs...  Guess we'll just have to wait to find that one out.

In the meantime, when I went searching for Ghost Mountain's website I found another website just as interesting.  Campground Membership Outlet offers a variety of campground memberships for resale.  It sounds like a good website to purchase memberships at a reduced price and a way to sell your membership that you aren't using anymore.  Ghost Mountain is part of the Colorado River Adventures group.  Right now the CRA membership resells for $475 on the campground outlet website.  Not that I'm ready to buy into that either.  After all, we don't even have our trailer yet.

I'm hoping that Ghost Mountain Ranch Resort will be the perfect location once we do get our RV.  It's local enough that we could use our 20 nights of free camping on weekends while we are newbies learning about the trailer and the RV lifestyle.  I'll be sure to bring my camera when we visit in a couple of weeks and share the details with you all.           

February 14, 2015

My dreams...

" Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. " ~ Mark Twain

My reminder sits atop my PC: DREAM everyday!!

I am and always will be a dreamer. 

I dream of our future together on the road. 

I dream of seeing our children/parents/siblings for weeks at a time.

I dream of exploring more of this country than I thought possible.

I dream of living life without regrets.

I dream of making new life long friendships.

I dream of a simpler life.

I dream of learning new skills.

I dream of volunteering and making a difference in the lives of others.

What do you dream of?

February 12, 2015

Dreamy Day

It started out like most any other day...

Except that we were going on a field trip...

We loaded up the Suburban with our equipment and tools so that we could do an on-site repair at an elementary school in the Sierra foothills.  The drive was uneventful so nothing to report there.

The repair went smoothly.  In fact, it was a brand new client and he was thrilled to have found us.

After the repair was complete, we were both hungry.  It was just past 2 in the afternoon and we had skipped lunch.  We planned to take a familiar road down to the town of Auburn to find something quick to eat and then we'd head back to the shop.  This particular road is the one which Ron used to travel all the time when he was a time-clock-punching guy 20+ years ago.  We decided to drive past his old job and see if it had changed.

Yes, it had changed...

Quite a bit!
Knee Deep Brewery, tasty options await

The back end of the building was sub-divided and now there was small brewery located there.  The tasting room was open so we stopped to check it out. 

The entrance is on the side and there are shaded benches.  It was such a nice day and we were hoping to sit there, but alcohol is not allowed outside of the building.  Too bad...

Ron is the beer drinker between the two of us.  Although he doesn't drink often, he does enjoy a good beer every now and then.  As for me, I haven't really found a beer I like so far.  Perhaps today will be different.

Knee Deep Brewing Company started in 2010.  The owner started small and has grown over time.  This facility opened in October 2013.  They serve several year round beers, seasonal beers and even some experimental beers.

menu board
Rene' enjoys her first beer...

Since we weren't sure what we would like we were given small samplers of two different types.  I liked the Citra.  Yes, Rene' actually ordered AND drank a beer!  Ron liked one of the experimental beers called Dryhopped American Barleywine.  There was music playing in the background, other people enjoying their flights or glasses of beer and workers making new brew batches.  One gentleman was reading on his computer while his very fluffy cat sat next to him on the bench.  I wish I had gotten the cat's photo...

Citra on left, Barleywine on right
they were both delicious
You may wonder about the title of this post.  Why Dreamy Day?  The reason is because in my mind, this is the way our life will be once we're on the road full time.  I envision days filled with working, playing, exploring and finding new places to enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as a first beer. 

February 8, 2015

Plan B

Plan B is sometimes considered a bad thing.  In our case Plan B is going to get us into an RV sooner than we first expected.  So, for us, Plan B is awesome.

Background -> In order for us to live full time on the road we will need to sell our house so we can afford to buy a large truck and 5th wheel.  There are some very real concerns with this plan.  What if business isn't as good as we thought it would be while we travel the country?  What if we can't service our customers in a timely manner?  Would we be able to attract new clients?  What if we don't like living in such close quarters?  Where would we live if we didn't have a house anymore? 

After weeks of dreaming/thinking/talking we've come up with a solution that we believe will work for us.   

Here's what our Plan B looks like:

Step 1 is to get out of our rented shop building.  Working from the house will save us a bunch of money every month.  We'll concentrate on getting new clients when we're not servicing our existing clients.

Step 2 is to buy a smaller travel trailer which we can tow behind our Suburban.  We'll take it out for weekend or week long trips while servicing local clients.  We'll be able to start locally and grow from there.  We'll keep our house for this step and return as needed.

Step 3 is to keep growing our clientele list.  We'd like to have a calendar full of appointments.  We estimate that if we can make 8-10 service calls per week that we would have enough work to keep us in the black.

Plan B has heightened our anticipation for getting on the road.  We've spent a few days at a couple of local RV dealerships and walked through some nice trailers.  We have to keep weight in mind.  The Suburban has a tow capacity of 7300 pounds.  We want to keep our overall loaded weight about 1000-1200 pounds under that so we're looking at trailers with a dry weight between 5000-5500 pounds.  

We've done our research and know the ranking of several brands .  Northwood, located in Oregon, manufactures travel trailers, 5th wheels, light weight trailers, truck campers and toy haulers.  Their line of travel trailers is rated #2 in the 'above average' category.  In our researching we discovered that a local dealership is one of their distributors.  We went and visited the dealership.  To our surprise we found a trailer that we think will serve us well for the interim between part-time RV travel and full-time RV living.
Here's a few photos of the trailer we hope to purchase in the upcoming months when step 2 takes place.

floor plan of Nash's 24M
passenger's side from front
driver's side from front
the bathroom is just inside the rear door
view when stepping into the trailer
a dinette is across from the couch
the queen size bed is located at the front of the trailer
there's a separate door to the bedroom and plenty of storage for two people
view from the bedroom
March 12-15 there will be a large RV Show at the Cal Expo fairgrounds featuring several local dealerships and their inventory.  It's a good time to walk through and tour hundreds of RV's in one spot.  We'll definitely be viewing other RV's to see if we find something that tickles our fancy more than this one.