Please NOTE: To see several hundred photos of our self converted coach during the main build process click here: 

We are now enjoying the beautiful and famous Michigan summer. We've already experienced strawberry, cherry, and peach season and are looking forward to apple and grape season. The highlight so far of our summer has been having bus neighbors for the past three weeks. Sean and Angie Shanks are new full timers along with their cute little tribe of four kids. They call themselves the "Herd of Turtles" and though Heather and I weren't quite sure why before, we are sure now. The family of six has traded schedules, timelines, and the general rat race for a slower pace that might actually help them to live longer, and their relaxed atmosphere can best be described as a "Herd of Turtles". We have sincerely forged a deep and permanent bond with this family and we are already planning our next visit with them. Visit their blog and learn more about this amazing family who loves Jesus and loves life: www.herdofturtles.org

In other bus news, we've finally purchased windows, installed them and even purchased day/night shades for them. Here are some photos of the results:

After 5 months in Mt. Vernon, OH, we are back home in Michigan after a nearly 20 month tour away from home. We will be here for the next 11 or 12 months singing, sharing, and just enjoying being home before heading out again...on a much longer tour. So far, the bus has been good to us. We have enjoy mostly trouble-free travel (with a few memorable exceptions) and have now spent our first real winter in the coach. We've learned alot during our first winter and if you have any questions on how to winter in a coach, please don't hesitate to email us (click the "contact us" link tab). Now that we've done it, we are ready for anything. We've managed to stay toasty and dry and keep our water plumbing from freezing even in single digit temps and heavy snow. Here's a few shots of where we're at now (March 2013):

We are now in Mt. Vernon, Ohio and loving it. Mt. Vernon is a little town situated slightly northeast of Columbus and boasts of hilly roads, plenty of bike paths, and our three favorite stores: Lowes, Aldi's, and Walmart. We are slated to give a series of concerts here that will take us through until March of 2013. This is exciting, but we also take a moment to pause and ponder that this will be our first winter in the bus in a northern clime. Our first "first" winter in the bus was in Orlando, Florida...not exactly the snow capital of the world, but here in Mt. Vernon, we have been told by the locals to hope and pray for a mild winter. Apparently a few years ago, this area received quite the winter beating and we're slated to find out just how interesting it may be to really winter in our bus. We have plans to heat the plumbing bays as well as the coach living space. We also have plans to heat our water lines and sewer lines...but if something goes wrong...it could be a cold, wet job fixing it. Fall is in the air and though we're enjoying how cozy our coach can be (especially with our new double padded carpet now finally laid down) it's also a sobering thought to realize this town has seen 12 in snow storms in the past. If you don't hear from us until spring, you'll know we got snowed in and our internet died. Here's a shot of our current domicile until March of 2013:

It's been a while since we've shared any updates on our life on the road. nearly 5 months have passed since we said goodbye to our little winter oasis in Apopka Florida for a two month stint in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While in Wisconsin, I gave concerts throughout the state, sang for our campmeeting there, and led a team of young people as they shared literature with others door-to-door. 

We parked behind a school on the outskirts of Milwaukee. With only a water and three separate 20 amp connections, we had to be creative in how we lived our life this summer. First, the three 20 amp connections were independently breakered. This was good, but to make use of them, we had to split our 50 amp power needs three ways. A splitter allowed us to do that for two connections, and the third connection I merely hardwired to our electric water heater. Viola! Problem solved...except now we had to use one major appliance at a time. Of course the refrigerator had to stay running 24/7 so that left the microwave, dryer, and a/c unit orphaned. When we wanted to cook...we turned off the a/c. When we were hot, we stopped cooking and turned on the a/c. When our clothes needed drying, we turned off the a/c and didn't cook. We were hot and hungry, but we had dry clothes :-) The summer was very busy with more stories than I care to tell on this blog, but all in all it was a wonderful memory shared with some of the best people we know, Matt and Amanda Hasty. They were with us on and off throughout the summer as they led evangelism teams all over the state of Wisconsin. When they were with us, we created some fantastic memories that we'll never forget...when they were gone, we missed them sorely

Our last memory of our stay there wasn't so pleasant. A nice patio set that was given to us by some adopted parents of ours (Dad and Mom Anderson a.k.a. "Uncle Bert") was stolen right in the middle of the day. Apparently witnesses say a father and two sons drove up in a minivan while we were gone and just helped themselves. Anyway, we said goodbye to Wisconsin and our patio set and began to head to Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Before we left Milwaukee, we met a man and his wife at a truck stop there whom we had met before at a church concert I gave. They had been blessed beyond measure and wanted to help us on our way....so to our utter disbelief and grateful amazement, they filled our empty coach fuel tank with fuel! I won't say how much it was, but we have a 180 gallon capacity and well, you know what diesel prices are right now. Thanks to them for their kindness! It's rare to see this today. On our way we stopped for a week in Michigan to catch up with old friends and be in a familiar place just long enough to miss home...and then we were off to our next 6 month stint in Mt. Vernon, OH.

We are excited to have been the featured family of the month on Families On the Road.com! Made our week! Here's the link to this great and informative site:http://www.familiesontheroad.com/index.html

Hello Apopka, Florida

The last few weeks have left us a little bedraggled and I've finally succumbed to a minor cold. We left PA October 17 and drove down to Silver Spring, MD that day to park the coach at the General Conference Office parking lot. From there we flew out to Tucson, AZ so we could give a concert at the Tempe Church 65 year reunion celebration weekend. From there, we flew back to Silver Spring, MD, filmed for a day at the Hope Channel, then jumped in the coach and drove down to Apopka, FL over a 2 and a half day time frame. Along the way, the coach overheated twice and shut down in the middle of the road. Then while we were driving, the generator exhaust pipe came loose and was sticking straight out the side of the coach into the next lane. When we finally arrived, we were more than thankful to have made it safe and sound. These are some photos of our current location...and our home for the 

next 6 months.

Saying Goodbye to PA

4 months have trotted past without so much as us noticing. And the piece of private, wooded ground we've called home during that time is about to be left vacant as the winter approaches. Truth is, we're ready for a change. We're headed to Florida in a couple of weeks and will be traveling there for the first time together. Up until now, Heather had to follow me in the car as I drove the coach since the coach didn't have a hitch, we didn't own a tow system for the car, and the coach wasn't equipped with a tow lighting system. Now that all three hurdles are overcome, we're ready to enjoy this 1300 mile trip together. Translated, that means I can now ask my sweet wife to pretty please make me a sandwich while I drive on :-) That's going to be pretty neato I must admit. We're anxious to get on the road again, but will miss our little quiet piece of heaven on earth here in Hamburg, PA at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Thank goodness for memories.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Odd and Interesting

Friday, Heather and I were out and about in Hamburg, PA and noticed this interesting work of RV art. Not sure exactly what we thought of this beast, but found it interesting nevertheless. Took these shots out of a moving car with a cell phone camera so the quality suffers:

People love to have homes on wheels...we all do it differently I guess. On another note, we've had so much rain in the last 24 hours (between 3 and 4 inches) and the shale beds here in the mountains cannot absorb the water. So the gravel drive we use to get to our coach everyday is now officially a river. It's so washed out, our Camry is scraping bottom as we try to navigate through the ruts to get in and out. I saw a guy driving a backhoe around here last week. I think I'll track him down and ask him if he would be so kind as to level this out a bit...or we have to get a 4 wheel drive.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Stop: Hamburg, Pennsylvania

After nearly a year and a half of on and off blood, sweat, & tears invested into a 40 foot piece of metal and wood (click here to see our coach build progress photos), we've jumped off the ledge and taken a nearly 700 mile drive to the first stop in our Coach Life adventure. Hamburg, Pennsylvania is a cool little town near Reading and Allentown (my birthplace) and at the foot of the Appalachian Trail. Our current location is the Keystone camping area of Blue Mountain Academy. This is a really nice, quiet, heavily wooded camp site that has a level concrete pad and full hookup. Now that we're settled in here, we've been able to get a few things done. First thing we did upon arrival was cleanup of the pad. Once it was swept to our satisfaction, we backed in the coach right to where we wanted it and shut it down for the first time in almost 13 hours.

Next task on the list was to install our newly acquired Sears/Kenmore 30 gal 110v single 1650 watt element water heater. I had all of the cold water plumbing completed, but the hot water side wasn't done. Once we brought the water heater back to the coach I plumbed it in a day and had hot water that night. Here's a shot of the water heater installed in the water bay. Ignore that hanging loose wiring. It will be run through metal conduit, so stop cringing you master electricians.
Another seemingly minor irritation was actually quite major to me since I just really hate the whole concept of RV sewer systems. Nevertheless, we had a 20 foot hose that would just fill with blackwater and expand but not drain when we opened our dump valve. We knew this was because there wasn't a gentle downward slope from our dump valve to the sewer connection on the pad.

So up to yesterday, our solution was to open the dump valve, and then together we'd work the sewage down the hose into the sewer connection. Yuck. Super yuck. If you think I'm being wimpy, imagine holding a thin hose that is sludging your own waste through it. I have new respect for the septic tank emptying guys *shiver*.

There are, on the market this cool little slinky-like sewer hose supports that will create the gradual slope, but we didn't like them nor their $36 price tag. I wanted something better, so I (with Heather's help and brains added to mine) decided on a simple solution of cutting a 4 inch dia pipe down the middle, nesting the two halves inside each other for telescoping action, and resting the sewer hose inside of them using a brick or two to create the gentle slope. Works perfectly! Now, I just lift the dump valve, and viola, the "stuff" drains without me having to feel it travel through the hose in my arms. Did I say yuck?

Some of us in life love the rut. We love the familiar and predictable. We love to know that "some things just never change." Yet some of us love just the opposite. We get excited just driving by an airport. We tingle when we plan a vacation. We can't sleep the night before a big trip. That's us. We love making new places home...and before long, we begin to itch to make an even newer place home...and so on.

Hamburg, PA will be our home for 3 months as we tour the area and share our inspirational concerts with as many as we can before heading south to Florida in November. We'll make a quick, car-only, dash to Arizona for a couple of weeks in October before returning to PA and then on to Florida where we'll be until May of 2012.