Hurricane Michael and Our Home

It’s been busy here. We are living on the Florida Panhandle and as you may know, or remember, we experienced the landfall of Hurricane Michael just about six months ago. When Michael hit my wife and I had evacuated with our truck and camping trailer to Troy, Alabama which was west of the storms path. On the day that the hurricane actually made landfall and was moving up toward our hometown we were camped and fully plugged in. We had WiFi and cable TV.

We weren’t so far away that we didn’t experience some of the heavy rains and buffeting winds and so we were inside the trailer for the day. Some of the winds were strong enough that I worried that perhaps I hadn’t taken us far enough out of harms way, but that was just anxiety. We were fine.

So we were in for the day and had the TV on and had our iPads out watching the storm as it approached our home and tried to get any information that we could from the TV broadcast. Unfortunately, the TV stations were concentrating upon the storm events as they related to more local towns and cities in Alabama and only gave broad coverage of what was happening in Florida, and that was mostly about the coastal areas that took the greatest hit. We live fifty miles inland and in a tiny community, so didn’t have any real direct references in the news that day.

Our conversations that day where about our home and what we would have left after the storm. We have hurricane insurance but had never had to use it and wondered if what insurance we had purchased was adequate, if the insurance company was viable and strong enough financially to pay us, and what we’d do if our home was a total loss. It was an interesting and anxious day.

Well coming back to today let’s just recap. It’s no fun dealing with the insurance company. It’s difficult to see our home which we had lovingly restored over the last several years damaged as it was. We still had a home, but it had severe damage. There were five large pine trees laying on the roof when we finally got back home after the storm passed. Those trees have been removed and the roof has been covered with tarps and we’ve worked hard to clean up the property. Still our home remains damaged after these six months. Now we do have electric and water. Our kitchen, the bathrooms, and many areas are unaffected, and are still usable. So we aren’t suffering. But we’re also in limbo.

We have four or five roof penetrations. Some are quite large. Our foundation piers have been crushed into the ground on one corner of the home. Essentially we need to start with that. The foundation needs to be repaired and floors need to be re-leveled before walls that are damaged, windows that are damaged, and roofing etc. can be put back in place. We have weekly walk throughs with contractors and with engineers to get pricing, and to get a go-ahead from the insurance carrier to get the work underway and funded.

In short, we’re trapped.

We want to do more traveling and camping. We want to advance the finish work on the house. But we can’t do much of either until we get past this point were the contractors can get in and started.

As much as I am complaining though, others are in far worse shape. We’re safe, we have a dry home, we have air conditioning and heat as needed. Some are still in tents down in Panama City just south of us. Those who had beautiful homes at Mexico Beach just to he east of Panama City have nothing left. Now for many it was a second home, but perhaps half or more were full time residence and were wiped out. Many will simply leave and never return and rebuild. I can’t blame them, it’s hard to have confidence after something like this.

The other sad thing is that the landscape around us is semi-permanently destroyed. Millions of trees are flattened and broken. They will be visible of decades to come. Most of us will not see the final recovery in this lifetime. What was pleasing to the eye is now a sore spot.

So we’re doing our best. We have lots to do. I’m just adding a couple photos to give some context. These storms take a long time to recover from. I would guess we will not be back to ’normal’ for at least a year. I think that ’normal’ won’t be as previously envisioned either, but we’ll adapt.
I will get back to writing about our topics of trucks, trailers, tools and toys – never fear. These thoughts were on my mind though and I thought that I’d share them.

Photos of Camping Trips and Special Places Visited

It’s a little sad that we don’t have a lot of photos from our travels and camping trips when we were younger. Digital photography is so wonderful. What a difference in just twenty years or so.

Before this millennium our photos were on film, what few we took. We didn’t have the money when raising our family to shoot and develop lots of photographs and only wish we had. The photos that we did take are precious to us. This must be true for almost everyone.

Here are a few old photos with the old tent.

Well as a result,  we don’t have pictures from many of our camping trips. We don’t have photos of vehicles and events that could be shared here either. These few excepted.

I suppose that the next generation will lament not having taken high definition videos as often as they will wish in their older age. What next – holograms? Perhaps. 

Well I got to thinking about this when looking for photos of us tent camping. That wasn’t so long ago.  But we have been camping since the 1970’s. Our old cotton duck Eureka tent was a big part of our recreation. Trucks came only in the 1980’s. At first we camped out of a  Volkswagen beetle.  Later we had a minivan.  I used trucks in my work, but we didn’t camp with them until about 2012 or so. By then it was just Beth and I once again.  Empty nesters. 

Photos from the Smokey Mountains. We were tent camping and had our bikes on a rake at the back of our 2009 F150 STX 4×4.

What I found though was that my old body didn’t still enjoy setup and knockdown of camp. I wasn’t thrilled with sleeping on a cot either. And I didn’t like getting out of the tent and to the campgrounds bathroom in the wee small hours of the night. I didn’t need to when I  was younger. 

So we evolved to trailer camping. Turns out we had a truck for towing. We could afford it, and having a bed, a bathroom, heat, and air conditioning turned out to be necessities not luxuries. Our truck made it possible to keep camping. 

Our first travel trailer. We did a lot to clean it up when we bought it on eBay. A 2008 FB189 Funfinder.

I actually wrote a short book about the experience. Here is a link to it at Amazon

And here is a link to a video that I did back then.

So we continue to enjoy the outdoors.  We take lots of digital pictures.  We have a good time. 

A Short Trailer Camping Trip

Beth and I just returned from a short camping trip up into Georgia. We were attending an event and so we took the camper to make the trip easier and less stressful. The drive was only 2 1/2 hours one way. That’s just enough to be too much for me round trip and with a lot of hours in between.

Our New Theatre Recliners

So we relax, went to dinners, and tried out our new theater seating in the trailer watching a movie one night, and PBS Masterpiece Theatre the next.

I like reading in the morning on my iPad and drinking coffee. The recliner and the cup holder I can report pass the comfort test that matters most to me.

The TV arm that extends and allows the screen to tilt towards us needs to be swapped with a longer version. We sit at a right angle to the screen and need to bring it out further to reduce the strain on our necks. I have one already picked out and frankly expected this problem, but I wanted to be sure it was necessary. It’s debatable, but I am striving for perfection, or something like it. That’s still alluding me.

Goodyear Endurance Tires

New to this trip was a set of new tires as well. We invested in a new set of Goodyear Endurance tires. Our OEM tires were getting old, at three years, they had 15,000 miles on them, and one had some excessive wear from a slight alignment issue. I feel a lot better knowing they are new and safe. I’ve had new tires put on my truck, Beth’s car, and now the trailer. I am feeling a little bit tire poor at the moment.

My next trailer project is to grease the hubs. I have been watching YouTube videos and think I can do it. We’ll see.

Mobility & Seasonally Good Weather

A Tiny House that’s truly mobile

Since we first started looking for a home in Florida I have been attracted to this sort of idea. We saw the pole barn frame for this idea in Port St. Joe, Florida probably four years ago. It was bigger than what’s shown in this photo and was probably for a fifth wheel trailer.

Here’s what I like: The main ingredient is mobility. I can see us moving up to Maine during the summer and fall and then back to Florida from November through May. We can stop where we want both coming and going. I can envision a setup either in Florida only, or at both ends of the migration. In both places we would leave behind outdoor furniture, a grill, some landscaping tools, and such. Add a modest sized shed for storage to the plan in both places.

This would certainly be modest living, but it might be fun and affordable.

At Home with a Blue Roof

Hurricane Michael got us. We were hit pretty hard. My wife and I evacuated a day before the storm with our truck and camping trailer, so we were safe.

While the photos show the effect of the hurricane on our home we are grateful that the damage wasn’t worse. We do indeed have tarps on the roof at the moment, just like most of our neighbors. Almost no one was spared damage in our little town on the Florida Panhandle.

The scene throughout the area is shocking. Hundreds of thousands of trees are broken, tilting over, uprooted, or just snapped in half. Trucks to haul away the debris, heavy equipment for loading, and the sounds of chainsaws, demolition crews, roofers, and sirens have filled the air here since October 10th when the hurricane came through. It’s much calmer now, but a lot remains to be done. Reconstruction is only beginning now. We ourselves hope to start soon at our place.

We think that we are doing fine, but it’s interesting how our minds and emotions work. There are up days mostly, but we both have emotional crashes, and then there are the days where the emotional exhaustion takes over and we have to veg for a day.

The positives are there. We’re insured. We didn’t get hurt. We still have a home and we can live in it. Uncertainty and a sensation of not being in control grip us though. It’s a new sensation. Also, what about next year?