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About dsimpson

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  • Birthday 03/10/1946

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  1. Another Texas Co-op?

    There is a book in the libraries of many of the Escapees Rainbow and Co-Op parks that describes the history of Escapees. The title is "History of the Escapees Club" and was written by Kay Peterson. One chapter is devoted to the creation of the co-op parks and describes the many challenges that the early Escapees had to overcome to build a park. The two major ones were the costs of land and the regulatory burden.
  2. The park is as you described it. Some of the streets are one-way single-lane and too narrow for larger RVs to maneuver into a site. Friends of ours bought a nice lakeside lot for $30,000 in 2013. We now spend our winters in Arizona but would return to Ancient Oaks if we stayed in Florida. Finding the right lot for rent can be a frustrating process. The park website lists the sites for rent along with the lot owner's name and phone number and maybe an email address. That is all the information available. If you are not familiar with the park, you will not know if a particular lot is suitable for your RV, i.e., is it on one of those narrow streets that makes it impossible to back you 37' fifth wheel into? What is the length of the lot? What is the daily, weekly, monthly rate for the lot? Does the rent include electricity? Any amenities available, like a washer or dryer? You have to contact the owner to get this information. This makes it inconvenient to "shop around." In 2011. we stayed in a site on a narrow street and it was very difficult getting into the site because the lot across the street had an awning that extended to the curb. In 2013, when we were familiar with the park, we found a beautiful corner lot with an easy back-in and had the use of a washer and dryer located in a small shed on the site.
  3. Happy Trails RV Park (Suprise, AZ)

    This link is another forum post that discusses Happy Trails. One issue with rentals is the use of any casita or Arizona room. Owners often refuse to include the use of these features. If you can find a rental that does, Happy Trails may be just what you are looking for.
  4. Happy Trails is as you described it - a very nice RV community. We stayed there for five months two years ago. But I have two issues with this park for anyone contemplating the purchase of a lot. Growth in the Surprise area has exploded in the past 10 years and traffic on the local streets has become heavy, especially during baseball spring training. This is especially true of Bell Road which is the main east/west artery for Happy Trails. When we left two years ago, construction was beginning at the intersection of Bell Road and Grand Avenue to relieve congestion in this area. Although many stores are nearby, the closest mall is 12 miles east at Arrowhead Town Center Mall. All this may be a minor issue but I began to dread the drive to the mall because of the 12 mile drive through all the traffic on Bell Road. The other issue is the price of the lots as carl2591 pointed out. It seemed that many of the lots for sale were bought as investments and the owners have priced them far above the market value. The lot we rented was owned by someone that owned several other lots and didn’t even live in the park. This lot had been on the market for about 3 years and the asking price was $95,000 which was typical for lots of that type. But, according to the real estate office in the park, recent sales of similar lots were in the $70,000 range. Friends of ours had bought a similar lot a year earlier for $55,000 when the owner passed away and the heirs were looking for a quick sale but this was a rare exception for a lot like his with concrete paving and a full covered roof. Lots with a listing price of less than $50,000 are bare bones with little or no concrete and no covered roofs.
  5. Excessive Internet Data Usage

    After several days of using Networx to monitor data usage, it is beginning to look like Facebook is the major data hog in our case. We turned off the videos but Facebook is still using a lot of data. My wife has agreed to deal with that by visiting her Facebook page only once or twice a day. We'll see what happens.
  6. Excessive Internet Data Usage

    Thanks, Jack. I didn't know that the user had any control over Windows 10 updates.
  7. Excessive Internet Data Usage

    I considered this unlimited plan but the Verizon store salesperson told me that this plan began throttling data at 10 GB. How has this worked out for you?
  8. As a full-time RVer traveling around the country, I rely on a Verizon Jetpack for Internet access. I use a 24 GB monthly plan because the unlimited plan starts to throttle data at 10 GB. But I am startled to discover that the 24 GB is not enough. Two years ago, I was using an old 3G air card with unlimited data getting about 1 Mbs speeds on average. At the time, that seemed to be fine since I didn’t stream videos. But as I made a trip across country from Tucson, AZ to Virginia Beach, VA., my speeds dropped to about 130 kbs. That is not a typo. It’s about twice the old dial-up speeds – way too slow for the web pages of the time. So, I bit the bullet and upgraded to 4G and the Jetpack. My data usage exploded. Where my wife and I were using 5 GB/month under the old 3G plan, we quickly went to 16 GB/month with the new 4G Jetpack. The faster 4G speeds were great with one exception - web pages that might have taken a minute or more to load were now loading in a few second – too fast to abort when I saw that the content was not something I wanted to see. I have also noted that more web pages are running videos. In the past, Adobe Flash Player ran a lot of the videos and I discovered how to tell the Flash Player not to run videos without my permission. That no longer works. Most videos now seem to use another program. Also, my wife bought a new computer a year ago with Windows 10. This version seems to download updates without any option to postpone the download to a more opportune time when I have access to free Wi-Fi. These things seem to account for some, if not all, of my increased data usage. I use a program called Networx that monitors, in real time, my wireless data traffic on my laptop. When I am connected to my Jetpack, this helps me keep track of my Verizon data usage. I recently installed Networx on my wife’s computer and was amazed at the data usage when she viewed her Facebook page. It seemed that half her “friends” had videos running and this was using data at a rapid rate. My wife found a way to stop these videos. This morning, after a few minutes of downloading and reading emails, she used 400 MB. I assumed that Windows 10 had downloaded an update. The first 5 months of this year, we were in campgrounds that had good wi-fi and we rarely used our Jetpack. Starting July 5, we began using our Jetpack exclusively and discovered that our 16 GB plan was not enough. We went to the local Verizon store and increased our limit to 24 GB and even that was not enough last month. Any suggestions on why we are using so much data and any solutions to this problem? We do not stream videos. We even stopped watching the occasional short You Tube video.
  9. Another useful, free product is Networx. It not only displays speed but it also displays data usage over a selected period of time.
  10. Goodyear Endurance Tires

    Look at the Forest River forum. I think one of the posts said they are made in Alabama. Another post said the 614 is made in China.
  11. I was at Discount Tire yesterday and another customer was telling me about a new tire that Goodyear introduced earlier this year. The guy at the register confirmed what he said. This post on the Forest River forum describes this tire in more detail. The 255/85R16 replaces my Goodyear 614 but is only about half the price ($192 vs $353). The only drawback is the Endurance has a higher profile than the 614 so these tires cannot be mixed - I would have to replace all tires, including my spare. The next time I have to replace two or more tires, I may switch to the Endurance. The Endurance 255/85R16 is a load range E at 80 psi but has a load rating of 4080 lbs. Here is the Goodyear specs.
  12. Military Pensions and IRA withdrawals

    Traditional 401k. With a Roth IRA, the taxes are not deferred.
  13. Military Pensions and IRA withdrawals

    I hear you, bigjim. Anyone with a pension or any type of additional income can end up in my situation. My mandatory minimum withdrawal caused the taxable amount of my social security to increase by almost an equal amount. So, not only am I paying 15% tax on my IRA withdrawal, I am also paying a 15% tax on the extra social security that is taxable.
  14. I turned 70 ½ this year and began making mandatory IRA withdrawals. I received a big surprise when I began to file my tax returns. I am retired military and, for 16 years after retirement, I worked for a civilian company and made contributions to a 401k plan. During my peak earning years, my marginal tax rate was 25%. The money that I was putting into my 401k would have been taxed at that rate. I retired from that company and when eligible, I made a couple of withdrawals from my 401k to supplement my military pension. The year before I began drawing Social Security, I made a 401k withdrawal which raised my federal income tax an amount that translated to a 14% tax on the 401k withdrawal. And that illustrates the advantage of the 401k tax deferred income – income that would have been taxed at 25% was actually taxed at 14%. As the above example illustrates and I was led to expect, when I began making 401k withdrawals, my marginal tax rate would be lower than when I made my contributions into my 401k plan. And that remains true today for me. My marginal tax rate this year is 15%. But when I start making mandatory withdrawals from my 401k this year, I will be paying 27% of that in increased taxes. How can that be? The amount of Social Security that is taxable depends on income. Since I receive a military pension, a portion of my Social Security is taxable. So, even though I remain at a marginal tax rate of 15%, my taxes increase much more than 15% of my 401k withdrawal because the taxable portion of my social security income will increase by a large amount. This year, my taxes will increase by 27% of my 401k withdrawal, higher than my marginal tax rate when I made the contribution to my 401k plan. Now, I’m not expecting any sympathy for a triple-dipper. I just wanted those in my situation to be aware. If I had it to do all over, I would have made much larger 401k withdrawals each year prior to starting Social Security and delayed drawing Social Security until a later age.
  15. Interest in an SKP coop in New Jersey?

    There is a book in the libraries of many of the Escapees Rainbow and Co-Op parks that describes the history of Escapees. I can never remember the title but I believe it was written by Kay Peterson. One chapter is devoted to the creation of the co-op parks and describes the many challenges that the early Escapees had to overcome to build a park. The two major ones were the costs of land and the regulatory burden. I think these two items might be a major issue in New Jersey compared to the rural areas of the southwest where many of the existing Escapees parks are located.