Welcome to the OddEssay Blog



The Preparations:

Our journey actually began in November of 2007 when we thought we were going to take to the road and see the rest of the US. As it turned out, I got a new job in December and started working for Hover-Davis Company in January of 2008. Now, 33 months later, we again take up the journey. We are starting this blog as we get ready for our journey even though we do not expect to actually start traveling until November. I am retiring in late September and our current lease expires at the end of September. We will spend October living in the OddEssay getting used to living in the travel trailer and fine tuning what we are taking with us before we actually get too far away from our storage area. We hope you enjoy traveling with us. Stop back often. We will try to update the blog whenever our circumstances change, or we move to a new location, or we see something interesting, although we don't promise any regularity.


June 18, 2010                    We finalized our decision to retire and go traveling today. I notified Human Resources and my boss of our decision. There are lots of questions yet, plenty of potential for problems, and many chances for hair raising adventures, but we are satisfied with our decision and are looking forward to the future.


July 3, 2010                       We went looking at travel trailers today and settled on a used 2006, 27 foot Kodiak travel trailer. It is hereby christened the "OddEssay," although we did not bang a bottle on it as we did not want to add any dents. It isn't quite as impervious to smashed bottles as a Navy destroyer. If you are wondering about the name, consider that I have been doing Technical Writing since 1987 and Julie thinks I am a bit weird. Put that together with the fact we will be journeying and, well, you get the idea.


Disclaimer: This is a blog, not a technical document. I reserve the right to leave typographical errors and even spelling errors (especially since the keyboard on this laptop needs the strike force of a 500 pound gorilla to make sure all the letters appear) and I may even use incomplete sentences, or sentences containing the word "you," or sentences ending in a preposition.


July 8, 2010                       [Odometer: 232108]           Today we added two new leafs to each of the rear springs in the Suburban plus rear Timbren Enhanced Suspension Systems, for additional support and additional load and anti-sway assistance, and new heavy-duty shocks. It rides a bit stiffer with no load, but we should have plenty of steering control when we add the tongue weight of the trailer plus other items loaded in the Suburban.


July 10, 2010                     Today we went to look at the trailer and took pictures and measurements to help us start figuring out what we want to put where. We then went to look at a couple of local campgrounds. We will decide on one tomorrow or early next week and then make reservations for October.


Julie takes a rest on the sofa at the front of OddEssay while Jeff is busy finishing up the photographs.


August 1, 2010                   We were supposed to pick up the trailer yesterday but this was not a good weekend. One of the time consuming items on the work order got overlooked, so we had to leave the trailer there while they finish up the work. However, this was probably a good thing because it meant I did not have to drive the trailer back home yesterday. Friday night I picked up a severe case of diverticulitis and I have not been in very good shape all weekend.


August 25, 2010                 [Odometer 234425] A lot has been happening in our world in the last three weeks as we get ready for our journey. My health is back on track, Julie's wound is healed, the trailer is sitting in the parking lot at work waiting for us, and the suburban is in the best shape it's been in for months. It now has a new catalytic converter, a rebuilt front differential, a rebuilt rear differential, a new mirror control switch, a new passenger door window switch, two extra leaf springs on each side in the rear, new heavy-duty shocks plus a kinder system, and several new seals.


We have been busy sorting and packing. Normally when one moves, things are put into boxes with the expectation of taking them out again at the other end of the move. In this case, every item has to be looked at and judged: take, sell, or store.


On the work front, my time is winding down. Only 16 more working days to go and I doubt I will accomplish much on the last day. One very unique thing that happened concerns my replacement. The company wound up hiring my eldest son to take my place. It seems like old times training him for his new job.


Today we met with a man who is going to quote us a solar electric system for the camper. Assuming we can afford it, this system will give us much more freedom to camp on National Lands where there are no services. We'll know in a few days. If it works out, we will have a bank of four 108 Amp-hour batteries and two 200 watt solar panels plus related controls, circuit breakers, switches, etc. Now all I need to do is find someone who can install a battery isolator in the suburban.


September 7, 2010            [Odometer 235200] This weekend was Labor Day and I certainly did that. It was actually a very productive weekend as I played carpenter and got a lot of projects done that we needed to do to get ready to travel.



The first project was a set of leveling ramps for the trailer for times when we don't have that perfectly flat camp site. (Can you say "level never happens"?) When not in use, they have a permanent home on top of the Suburban.



The second project was a set of steps for the trailer. The stock stair for the travel trailer was one metal step creating two 9 inch rise steps which are only 7 inches deep and open at the back If the trailer is leveled by raising the door side the maximum of 6 inches, this would create a bottom step with a fifteen inch rise. The new wooden steps are deeper (11.5 inches), with only a 6 inch rise per step and they come to within a half inch of the doorway. If the trailer is raised on the door side, the worst scenario is just a fourth 6 inch step to get into the traler. The added plus is that the dogs are not afraid to use the closed steps as they were with the open steps.



Project three was a new larger seat for the dogs over the center console. It may seem a little thing, but hundreds of miles of travel with two dogs vying for the center seat can be a real nuisance for Julie. Now our new copilot seat is big enough and stable enough for both dogs to sit or lay on at the same time. Covered with one of their favorite blankets fro the bed, they have adapted to it quite quickly, although Taz still thinks she should get to ride on Julie.



The fourth project is a new 6-position cup holder. One of the original two cup holders had long ago broken off and one cup holder was just not enough for long trips. The new unit has room for six cups plus two bags of fries or other snacks. I am not really satisfied with the standoffs because I did not cut them straight enough (both miter boxes were packed) and intend to redo them when I have more time.

September 14, 2010          I can't believe I only have three more days until my working career is over. Preparations are moving on, but there is still a lot to be done and very little time to finish it. Last Thursday I had the battery isolator, purchased off the Internet, installed by Resch Automotive. Friday, Ewing Graphics added the OddEssay Graphic that was designed by Tom O'Brien to the trailer. The photo shows Tom and Sean (of Ewing Graphics) congratulating each other on a job well done. One unique feature added to the graphic was the distressed look to the scroll. The theory is that the two notches at the bottom of the scroll were caused by the mountains in the Kodiak logo. Tomorrow I take the trailer to Brockport where it will get the Solar panels and new batteries installed.



September 17,2010           It's official. I'm retired. It is still a very unreal feeling. The last day at work was pleasant. They had cake for me and a card and gift and a lot of well wishes from my co-workers. I left with a lot of very good feelings. Below are the images of the card I received.





September 19, 2010          The solar power is all installed and working well. However, there is more work to do. We thought there was an inverter in the Trailer. After all, that is how it's supposed to work, right? Surprise! No inverter . The only connection between the 120 vac achieved by plugging in at a campground and the 12 v battery system is that there is a charger for the battery from the ac. So now we need to add an inverter. Unfortunately, that can't happen until after we move into the trailer. Ah the joys of transitions.


September 23, 2010          [Odometer 236000] What a perfect time to flip the odometer over to a new "000" value. Everything is in the trailer (actually way too much is in the trailer) but it will take us days to sort it out and get it stowed. The following pictures are shots taken by me and by Phillip as we get ready to depart the Hover-Davis parking lot and make our way to Frost Ridge Campground in LeRoy for our first month shakedown.





If you don't have time to play ball with us, we'll use the flinger ourselves.

The bikes are loaded and we are ready to roll.





The bow of the vessel.

The Crew





The OddEssay Departs.

I Love Blueberry Smoorthies.