I got back to my folks place on Lake Buchanan on November 17th, and had about 7 weeks to get a bunch of stuff done before heading out the next trip. The biggest things were to do some improvements on my RV (like adding solar) and to get rid of the stuff I had kept after selling my house. Also, I wanted to volunteer with Austin Sheltie Rescue and see my friends. And, of course I wanted to spend time with my family.
First, I needed to figure out the equipment needed for the solar and get it ordered. My dad is an Electrical Engineer, but had not worked with solar systems before. I had some websites saved from my research (like solarrvpanels.com) that we looked at, and my dad figured out what equipment we needed and how to put it together. [ For RVers looking to do solar – the system we decided on includes: 2 100 Watt panels from AM Solar (includes mounting hardware and wiring harness), 2 tilt bars from AM Solar, Blue Sky 2000E Charge Controller (MPPT type) from Infinigi, Trimetric 2025 Battery Monitor from Infinigi, Xantrex Prowatt 2000 watt inverter from Marine Parts Source, and various wires, mounting boxes, fuses, shunt, etc. ] Also, we removed the non-working Onan generator and added 2 additional 6-volt batteries from Interstate Batteries in Marble Falls in that compartment.
The neighbors were more than happy to help. Don has the “Garage Mahal”, with lots of great tools/equipment and we did some of the work over there. He and Alan came over to the house to help on the day we installed the panels on the roof of the RV:
We also spent time replacing the drippy kitchen faucet, and adding a new TV antenna, which was problematic due to an apparent break in the cable wire which runs from the roof antenna to the wall socket. We had to run a new coaxial line from the roof, behind the microwave and through the compartment above the couch. Not fun. Dad also rewired my backup camera. And we put in 2 new outlets in front and back to work off of the inverter.
In the mean time, I was making runs into Austin (3 hours round-trip from Bluffton) to clear out my 10×10 storage space, where I had put some furniture and stuff in case I might need to set up an apartment or house again. Also, I signed up for 3 shifts doing gift wrapping with Austin Sheltie Rescue. Barnes & Noble has groups come in and do complimentary wrapping for customers and we (hopefully) get donations for our efforts. Riley was a good ambassador for the group. He liked the attention, but wasn’t crazy about being cooped up in the x-pen for 3-4 hours while I wrapped. Leann tried to get him to smile for the camera:
While in Austin I got to have lunch after the gift wrapping with some friends. First was with Lori, who is with Dun & Bradstreet and is the Account Executive for the Dell account. We always enjoyed working together, and I was so glad to be able to meet her for lunch and catch up.
On another day I got to have lunch at Chipolte with Sanjukta. We worked together in Marketing, in my last year with Dell. I also got to meet her husband and new baby.
I had lunch with friend and former co-worker Lynne at Chuy’s (I LOVE Chuy’s) but forgot to take a picture. Darn it!!
After wrapping with the Shelties, and lunch with friends, I would go to the storage space and pick up as many boxes and stuff as would fit in my car and take back to the house. I’d sort the stuff out on tables to figure out what to do with it all. For the furniture, I didn’t really want to post for sale on Craigslist and then be running in to Austin every other day, so arranged to have Next to New come pick it up and put it all on consignment. And I made a few trips to goodwill. Eventually I got it down to a small stack in the garage and a few boxes in the spare bedroom closet inside.
I also took the RV in to Georgetown to Mike’s Automotive. Mike’s a family friend and a great mechanic, so I always trust him to check things over before heading out on the road.
I wish I had time to do more while I was there, like seeing more of my friends and having time to sell my car, but I completed most of my list before heading off. On Friday, January 4th, I took off across west Texas, heading for Quartzsite, AZ.