Friday, November 3, 2017

5330 No Name Rd, Youngstown FL Part 1

I wasn't too keen on the idea of spending thousands to build on my lot as I didn't think I'd recoup the value upon selling. So I started looking at other options. I found a cool-sounding property at 5330 No Name Road, Youngstown FL listed at $67,999. It was an old (1994) RV trailer roofed over with an addition that had a sunroom, bedroom and bathroom. It had water frontage on two sides on canals of Deer Point Lake. It seemed a little pricey for an almost 25 year old RV with an addition of undetermined age and quality, but I decided to go look at it.  When I got there with the realtor I found it wasn't in nearly as good shape as the pictures appeared. First thing I noticed was a tree had fallen on the roof and put a huge dent and a hole. While the place had been vacant for years, it was obvious they knew about it as they tried to tie some of the siding in place with some wire. Which was very rusted so it had been damaged for a while.

The second thing I noticed was that the well house was all distorted, either from subsidence or from just being poorly built. I was hoping the same guy didn't build the addition. (That's supposed to be a flat roof.) The well wasn't in there, just the pressure tank.

The water filtration system was in pieces, with one tank leaning up against the trailer.

The air conditioner looked awful too. The lack of maintenance was obvious. Plus the skirting was buckled in some places, leading me to wonder if the trailer had settled and might settle some more. I never did get to look underneath and see if, god forbid, it was still sitting on tires. Or how well it was blocked if they had taken the tires off.

We found the septic tank by following the exposed pipe to the mostly exposed tank.  Which was right next to the fence/property line. That may have been ok decades ago, but not now. The tank has to be 5' from the property line. Plus other setbacks from the foundation, potable water lines and 100' from the water.  I was pretty sure this would be a problem as the county here is not exactly consumer friendly and I doubted they'd approve a permit to repair or replace it where it was, and it was hard to see where I could put it and comply with all the other setbacks without ripping out the structures.  I thought the lid was cracked, it turned out it was just ancient. The septic guy told me they stopped using 3 piece lids in the 70's. (It did fail the septic inspection, by the way. Quite spectacularly. He pulled up one piece of the lid, took one look and walked away. But that's a story for another day.)

When I took these pics I had never seen a septic tank like this so I thought it was broken. Turns out it's just how they did it almost 50 years ago. :-( 

One of the storage sheds was in poor shape, with the floor all rotted out.

The hot water heater was outside, under a kinda weird cover that didn't seem very weatherproof. Unsurprisingly, though the breaker appeared to be on, there was no hot water.

The shed with carport, while mostly in good shape (though FULL of mud dauber wasp nests and surrounded by fire ants) but it was weirdly placed. It was jammed up against the corner of the addition and they cut a section out of the carport roof to make it fit. Just odd. 

The view was not quite as nice as the pics either, they must have been taken after a lot of rain. There wasn't nearly as much water when I looked, and the annual lake drawdown wasn't starting until the 20th of November. 

The other canal was full of lily pads and seemed like skeeter central. :-(

We went inside and then the real fun started.  Pretty much the first thing I noticed was the largest spider I've ever seen anywhere. Ever. Eeeeee......  The second thing I noticed was the gaping hole where they yanked out the fridge, tearing up the vinyl floor and leaving a piece of rotten, water damaged plywood exposed, along with a hole in the wall. This was kinda fortuitous as it exposed how haphazard the wiring was, and the fact that they just stuck a piece of plastic over the hole where the old RV fridge had been vented to the outside. The opening is only 24" wide so there aren't many options in fridges that will fit. 

The pic is blurry since most of the lights in the camper didn't work. The built-in ones are 12v and the 12v system wasn't functioning. There are lots of reasons that could be, my guess was a failed converter.  I never found a breaker box or panel inside the rv to check.

The addition looked great, on the surface.  When you looked more closely at it, problems appeared.  I didn't realize it at first, but the walls in the addition were not wooden beadboard like I thought, but plastic panels made to look like it.  I'd never seen that before. So much for my idea of painting it. :-(  When I looked under the vanity in the bathroom I had a couple more surprises.....first of all, the back of the vanity had disintegrated. Like the fridge, this was kinda fortuitous as it revealed some poor workmanship in the form of another hole in the wall. It also revealed that the walls were a styrofoam sandwich! Plastic panel, plain, uncovered styrofoam, and another plastic panel. No drywall, no foil or other covering on the styrofoam, nothing. I had to wonder how that would fare in a fire. I really wonder what the home inspector would have said about that, though I never got to that point.

The floor in the bath was pretty badly stained too. 

I found the VIN plate showing the year and model of the RV trailer, it still had a license plate on it. I wondered in passing how that worked....was there a title for the RV and a deed for the land or how that worked. I figured that was something for the seller to take care of. (It turned out that I was right to wonder about that......they did need to transfer the title of the RV to me.....and they never got one. I guess when they bought it they didn't do title insurance or a survey or anything and didn't know to get the RV title. And the lady they bought it from had died. This could have been a real headache.)

Even after seeing all these problems, I thought the lot had potential.  I felt that I could use the structures as they were until maybe some day I wanted to build something better.  It would have been nice to kayak around and watch the sunset. I didn't realize the drawdown was going to make the kayaking impossible.

(I did go back after the first drawdown and the water was pretty hard to see from the house. The 'boat ramp' (if you can call it that) was already unusable. When the lake is fully drawn down in December it's probably just a mud flat out there until March. Since I'd only be here in the winter......that was a big negative.)  

I went home and started researching. I found that the sellers paid $25,500 for the property in 2012 and all the improvements had already been done before they bought it. (I was never able to find a single permit for anything.)  I also found that the entire lot was in a flood zone, AE elevation 8 feet. In other words, if I ever wanted to build or put in another manufactured home it would have to be above 8' elevation. In fact, it sounded like if you even wanted to add another room it had to be 8' up. Most of the other lots on the street had a bit of land out of the flood zone where people had built but this lot didn't. So that was a negative about the lot.  After giving it some thought I offered $40,000. I felt that was a fair offer with all the problems, giving the sellers a $15,000 (almost 60%!) profit. Plus I was a cash buyer, so there was no uncertainty about someone getting a mortgage. Though I doubt any bank would finance something like this anyway. So now I just had to wait.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Catching up.

I've been in Florida for a while, and since sitting in Mom's house/yard is not ideal, I've been trying to work out a better solution. I've been getting quotes on building on my lot and also shopping for other property.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

One of my beginning efforts in learning to record my flutes and create videos. I created the music using GarageBand for IPad & Audacity. The high flute is one of mine, a B flat PVC. The low flute is by Pat Haran, a low B flat in flamed boxelder. It's a gorgeous flute.  This composition is not that great and everything needs a lot of work. It only gets better from here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

3/2/2016 Mesquite to Virgin

My stay at the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite was uneventful. It was quieter than I expected, although a fair amount of people started rolling in between 5 and 6 AM, some making an inordinate amount of noise.Of course I had parked facing the wrong direction the night before, so the sun was shining on the south side of the rig. It's better for it to shine on the north side due to the orientation of the solar panels. Plus it really helps to not have it beating down on the fridge and the door. I thought about just leaving it, but decided there was no reason to waste the sunshine so pulled up the jacks and turned around the other way. It turned out to be a good thing I did. I wandered in and got some Starbucks, and considered breakfast but didn't see much that appealed to me. Especially not after gorging myself at the buffet the night before. I took my coffee back to the rig because it was not pleasant to sit at the Starbucks due to the cigarette smoke from the casino.

When I got back out to the rig, I was happy I had went through the trouble of moving it. It was getting warm, and having the entry door in the shade meant I could leave it open and enjoy the breeze. There was not a huge difference in the amperage coming into the panels from switching it from one side to the other so it's good to know that it's not required for that reason alone. Once I finished my coffee I headed down the road. 

Driving into St. George I saw a Pilot gas station and decided it might be a good idea to get gas where I knew it would be cheap. I stopped at another Starbucks, because I was trying to get some of these stars built up before the program changed. I'm not sure why. But anyway..... It turned out there were quite a few interesting stores in that area. I went to Dick's Sporting Goods, and Petsmart since I needed some more material for the composting toilet, and then spotted a Redstone olive oil store. What a place that turned out to be! I spent at least an hour in there and probably drank a half a gallon of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, as I tested just about everything in the store. Lots of fun. They had some amazing combos and best of all, they had very small bottles of everything. I don't have the room for giant bottles of balsamic and olive oil. These little bottles, while they may not be the best value, can fit in the drawer. I got coconut vinegar, Persian lime oil, maple vinegar, Kalamata oil, all kinds of stuff. It will be fun to make dressings and whatnot out of those. I did some other walking around bought a cheap sweater, a piece of chocolate with cashews, and a frying pan. Yeah, I know...random.  Then finally headed to Starbucks for coffee and Wi-Fi. By this point it was late enough that I was considering spending the night in St. George, but it didn't look like there were a lot of good options. I decided to shoot for the red Cliffs BLM campground near Leeds Utah. It looked gorgeous. 

The drive there was pretty interesting. I knew there were two low tunnels under the freeway that you had to go through. They said they were 11'6 clearance and I'm 10 feet high so I knew it would work. What I didn't expect was how narrow they were! I wasn't sure I would fit. I'm sure I had more clearance than I did, but criminy it looked close. As I was approaching the recreation area I had some jackass in a car on my tail. After coming to the entrance gate I pulled over and let him by. This turned out to be a tactical error. When I got to the campground, that car was pulling into a campsite. It turned out that that was the last open one. Lesson learned. No good deed goes unpunished.  I'll never do that again.  Next option was Quail run State Park, which looked interesting, on the shore of a little reservoir. It was gorgeous. It was also full. Sigh..... 

At that point I decided to head for some other BLM land that I had read about in the Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking. It was kind of getting down to the wire at that point, it was getting close to sunset. I found the turn off okay, and the dirt road wasn't too bad, but all the turnoffs to the dispersed sites had me driving into the sun and I couldn't see what I was getting into. That's not optimal. I did find one that was not too far off the road at an angle where I could see where I was going and that's where I ended up. It's a nice spot. Beautiful views around, and very little noise. I've seen quite a few cars go by, but no other RVs and I don't see anyone else camped anywhere. It got really cold really quickly when the sun went down, and I headed inside shortly thereafter.  I was a little skeptical of these guides but some of the sites, like this one, aren't in any of the other resources I use. So they're definitely valuable. (I do get a commission if you use the link above.)

Later I got an email from the flute school with a 320 page flute textbook. What a great book. I read about 100 pages and played for at least an hour. The nice thing about being in such a remote area, no one can hear me play. Otherwise, there is no way I'd be playing the flute until 11 o'clock at night. Even inside the rig, I would worry that I was disturbing someone because sound does carry. 

I'm going to head to the park tomorrow, hoping to get a site in either one of the campgrounds. I would like to see a little bit of Zion, and after I looked at the flute schedule again I won't be doing any sightseeing during the school. So tomorrow and Friday will really be it for sightseeing. If I don't get a site there, I guess I can always come back here. I think it's about 15 or 18 miles. I went a bit crazy shopping online the past few days between Amazon and Ebay.......I got two new flutes, a case, a new laptop, a tent and some other assorted stuff all coming to the school hotel. They're gonna love me. :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2/17/16 Deming

I got up a bit earlier, than the day before, had soup for breakfast, packed up and headed down to the border. I had been here before and it's not much of a border town, but I had a few things to pick up. Sadly, they didn't have the tequila I was looking for and the restaurant was jammed. I looked at a few things, bought some cookies, and antibiotics for my recurring sinus infection, and headed back to the USA.

I headed north to Deming, with the idea of staying at the St. Clair Winery there. I had just rejoined Harvest Hosts and was anxious to try it out. But I had a bunch of errands to run first. I had 2 Amazon returns to do at UPS, and then Fedex my new iPad back to Apple. For $500+ it wasn't THAT much better than my old one and after only 2 weeks I was having trouble with the home button. No thanks. Well, this turned into a dog and pony show. I don't have a printer so needed them to print out the prepaid labels. I have done this before. Not in Deming. The place that was doing the Fedex told me they'd do it....for $3.50 per label. The UPS guy told me he couldn't do it and to go to the library. So I did. One hour, and 45 cents later, I had 3 labels, and got all my stuff shipped back. Of course now I was running late for the winery as they closed at 6pm. I got there 20 min before closing, checked in, and got to do a quick tasting. I fell in love with their Mimbres Pink and bought a few bottles. Including one chilled one. :-)  I went out to the rig, pulled out a chair, uncorked the wine and enjoyed the solitude. Their wines are sweet (at least the ones I tried were) but really yummy. I'm embarrassed to say I put away most of that bottle. :-)  Might have been the whole thing if I hadn't knocked it over. :-)  It was definitely a relaxing night.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2/16/16 Pancho Villa SP

I slept in....I was tired from all the driving. I had planned to head down to the border and walk across but just couldn't muster the energy. Around 12:30 I decided to WALK there. Not sure what I was thinking. :-) I made it about 3/4 of a mi and turned back, so at least I got a little walk in.  I decided I deserved a break and a day of rest and just watched Doctor Who and read and whatnot.

For dinner I fired up the Instant Pot and made a fabulous stew. I used 1 can salsa style diced tomatoes, 1 bag of the frozen brown rice, 1.5 cans water, 2 chopped zucchini, some sliced dried garlic (love that stuff in soups), some onion soup mix, turmeric (for health benefits and it hides well in stuff like this :-), one bag of frozen mixed mushrooms (I think I got them at Walmart a while back and they were good in this soup), and chopped up one of those links of deer sausage the neighbor gave us. I added some other herbs and spices while tasting, you know how it is. Since the salsa tomatoes were a bit sour I put a little maple syrup in. Probably wouldn't have to with better tomatoes. Threw it in the pot, hit "Soup" set timer for 10 minutes, and left it alone. It was great. Would work great in a crockpot too I think.

2/15/16 Fort Stockton to Pancho Villa SP, Columbus NM.

I didn't realize it, but I had never driven through El Paso proper before. I'd always come down from the north and you miss most of it. I found out that "miss" is a mis-nomer in this case. Yet another horrible Texas city to drive through. Not as bad as San Antonio but close. Let's see.....let's take a ton of traffic, let them drive at 65-75, and let a ton of traffic get on the highway, with no room to merge. Either put in some acceleration lanes or lower the speed limit. (And enforce it.) It's not rocket science here, and just putting up signs bragging about how many people have died on your roads does not really help. Sigh....

I decided to head for Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus NM as I'd heard good things. After the misery of El Paso the wonderfully straight, flat and deserted border road highway 9 was a joy to drive. There's pretty much nothing for 60 miles. Pancho Villa is an odd little park. It has a weird layout and there's nothing really there, but it has a good feel. There are tons of doves and roadrunners. Lots of yucca and other desert plants. Annoying showers though, you have to turn the water back on every 20 seconds. Ah well. For $14/night for a site with electric, you can't beat it.