Thursday, February 25, 2010

7th Anniversary - Tioga George

7th Anniversary - Tioga George
I was thinking about how I got to my 7th anniversary with Tioga, and wondering if you would like to read about the beginning of our journey?

Tioga and George's first camp
On the morning of February 25, 2003, I was scheduled for an appointment with my cancer doctor. I suspected that my doctor was going to give me the word that I was in cancer remission, and I was right! My doctor laid out a five year plan for my after cancer treatment. I told my doctor, "Right after I leave your office this morning, I am driving to pick up my new RV home. When the time comes for my first appointment for the five year plan, I might be camping up in Montana. Thousands of miles away."

My doctor smiled at me and said, "Good for you, George".

A few weeks before that appointment, I drove to Manteca Trailer & Camper in the Town of Manteca, California to put down a $1,000 deposit to buy a 1991 Fleetwood Tioga Class-C RV. I liked the floor plan of this Tioga, with two single beds in the rear. I planned to convert one of these beds to a computer workstation.

After leaving the doctor's office that morning, I returned to Manteca Trailer and paid the $17,000 cash balance for Tioga. Then I drove back to my apartment in the City of Concord. I moved clothes, food and other stuff from my apartment into Tioga. I planned to be an RVing fulltimer from that day on.

I needed some screws and hardware stuff for Tioga. So, I drove to the Ace Hardware Store to buy these things. Out in the Ace Hardware parking lot, I did whatever repairs were needed. Then I wondered where I should go now? That was the first time that an astounding concept popped into my brain. "I was already home!" What an amazing thing to come to understand! No matter where I would go from that day on, as long as Tioga was with me, I would always be home. Man-O-Man!

Tioga and I spent the nite right there in the Ace Hardware parking lot. Our first dry-camp. In the morning, I saw Ace's assistant manager walking toward Tioga. I thought that I was in for a scolding for camping in the lot over nite. However, the manager only wanted to know about Tioga. He wanted to buy an RV himself, and wished to look inside!

Searching for adventure!
On June 7th, 2003, Tioga and I headed north. We were finally on our BIG adventure! During the past three months, we had been busy installing stuff. Mr. Datastorm got installed, so did a couple of Mr. Dometic refrigerators [one failed]. Mr. Levelers is now onboard.

There were a ton of other things that we did too! We went on some shake down trips to learn what Tioga was all about. We drove all the way to Southern California for the Datastorm installation. What a challenge that installation was for us because the Datastorm did not work at all for about two weeks!

Although I was having the time of my life going to new places in MsTioga, I had hard times too. I was completely inexperienced camping with Tioga. On July 1st, 2003, I drove Tioga down a forest road where I should not have been and came to a dead-end! I could not turn around. My blog post for that day did not disclose how upset I was by the challenge of that day's trip. But a note to myself shows how fear affected me. That note is still taped to the wall of Tioga today.

My creed
I don't run away from my dreams
Because of my fear of what "might" happen
I have faith that no matter what
Fate brings me, I shall overcome.
1 July 2003

Our transmission nightmare
During these first months on the road, we gradually had Tioga checked over. There were no records of maintenance for Tioga. We figured on checking everything little by little in order to begin to collect our own maintenance records. That was why when we got to Portland, Oregon, Tioga went to have her transmission fluid changed.

The tranny shop manager showed us a small mound of sludge in the transmission's pan. He said that this was a sure sign that our tranny was about to fail. We now know that this "about to fail" prediction was likely false. $3,200 was paid to rebuild our tranny. Two months later that rebuilt tranny did actually fail. The spline shaft on the tranny's torque converter stripped out. When the tranny shop refused to honor the warranty, a rebuilt tranny was installed at a Ford dealer. Another $2,700!

Not enough $dough$
Even though our cash reserve was now terribly low, we continued our journey. We had to believe that somehow, someway, we could make it financially and stay on-the-road. However, it was not until several months later that it became clear what the cost to keep Tioga on-the-road would be. And that cost was more than our income!

Reader Bob to the rescue
On March 31, 2004, I wrote to you in a blog post that I'd have to stop searching for adventure and go get a job. The maintenance for Tioga was so much more than anticipated. I figured that I'd get a job at WalMart or something.

Many emails arrived from Readers encouraging me to stay on the road. But one email from Reader Bob had a solution. Bob suggested that income could be earned with Google's AdSense program. I knew nothing about AdSense, but Bob seemed to be an expert. Back in those days, AdSense was different. There were no easy ways to understand AdSense as there are now. But Bob kept after me thru email communication, coaching and urging me on.

I was putting in several hours a day with AdSense and only earning pennies per hour! My first month I earned $108.09 from AdSense. I wanted to quit this AdSense. I thought that it was not worth it. All that work for so little money. Bob keep after me. He would not let me quit!

I have no clue what I would be doing today if it were not for the dogged determination of Reader Bob. He saved me. In December, 2004, my AdSense cracked thru the $500 barrier. I was now earning more than my expenses!

How the blog began
During May, 2003, I was still going to weekly meetings of my cancer support group at the Wellness Center in Pleasant Hill, California. It was clear that sometime soon I would be heading out with my RV. There would be no more meetings!

Betty Phillips was one of the members of Group. Betty wondered how they would know what became of me when I was off wandering around in my RV? She suggested that I begin a blog, so that my Group members could follow me on the internet.

That's how this all began!
George and MsTioga
Camped in Benicia, California
April, 2003