The first time I heard of the Ozarks was when our friend, Larry Hurst, accepted a job transfer there. At least how he described his families new home – AMAZING. Now we know and understand the beauty of this part of the country.
I developed my wanderlust as a young child,exploring a ranch around Colorado Springs. So no wonder I really enjoy hiking. Bill grew up hunting and exploring the great outdoors. So when we want to take a bit of a vacation, we look, or actually, he looks for places to hike. Somehow, that is a skill he developed when we started traveling in an RV.
Now that we have decided not to buy a Class B or any RV now, we are taking trips “resort” style. To buy the Class B we wanted, it was going to cost at least $120,000 IF we could even find that one. Yes, they are hard to find right now. So let’s divide that up and see how many “vacations” we could take in the next five years for the same amount of money. Let’s start with easy math: $120,000 divided by 5 = $24,000 a year. We honestly only want to go for a week approximately four times a year. At our age, we do prefer the routine we have at home. BUT in traveling, we hope it will keep our minds and bodies sharp and in shape. Anyway, that equals $6,000/week. We can certainly enjoy a vacation/trip for that amount! HOWEVER, if you know us, we are budget shoppers and we are pretty good at finding budget vacations (click to see our two Colorado vacations in 2011 and 2012). So our bottom line to a Class B, we also don’t want all the head aches associated with them and we want flexibility. So with that said, here is our first vacation/travel blog!
You may have figured out from our last post, when we said we were lost in the woods, we found our way out. If you missed it, click here. We had taken a short hike, about two miles, in a heavily treed park nearing dusk. We did finally see enough daylight to find our way out! And perhaps you may also have figured out, I can hike! We haven’t been in the mountains since March 2019. Let us continue with recent travels that took us to the Beckley area of West Virginia and in particular, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (NRG).
Day 3 August 24, 2021
Miner’s MuseumOur friends from Beckley highly recommended we visit the Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum in the City of Beckley. It is the #1 activity according to Trip Advisor and it was well worth it! We bought our tickets and had about 45 minutes before the underground mine tour began. We enjoyed the quaint museum. We always like to learn local history. We certainly appreciate what miner’s did for our country to provide fuel for heat and energy for transportation. So this really was beyond anything local! Continue Reading
December 2018, when we decided to sell our motorhome and “get off the road” Bill asked only one thing. He wanted to take at least 3-4 road trips a year. I agreed but I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Long story short, it hasn’t. We did manager a few fabulous hiking excursions while we traveled to see family. Otherwise, the travel/hiking bug began to bite us big time. BUT we just didn’t know how to make it work. Finally, it looked like buying and traveling in a self-contained Class B would make it possible. We wrote two blog posts, Is it Time to Hit the Road and Van Life – Pros and Cons, as we began to seriously consider it. This blog post will explain why we decided against it. We figured it out when we took a side trip in West Virginia on our way from Pennsylvania where we attended the funeral of a precious relative, Bill’s second cousin, to attend my mom’s Celebration of Life service in Virginia.
A few people thought we were going to sell everything again andtravel full-time againin a camper van. I should clarify and this post will give us more opportunity to contemplate as we work through this process. As a reminder, it took Bill five years of research before we bought our first Recreational Vehicle (RV). We also attended RV camper shows during those five years so once we bought, we were pretty well educated. We are also known to take our time before we do anything major – well, sort of! Anyway, we’d love to hear some feedback if you are so inclined.
Sometimes decisions are easy to make. We have made a lot of major decisions in our 46 years together. But this one is going to take more time, prayers and thought than ever before. We are now committed to attending the Hershey RV Super Show this fall!
Lessons learned from our past: I’m so grateful for the legacy Bill’s parents instilled in him. We were reminded of this Sunday – to be good stewards with EVERYTHING God has blessed us with. So for Bill to want to make a BIG purchase, he has to run the numbers, count the cost and be as educated as one can be. In one seminar we attended at the Tampa RV Supershow, we learned your first RV is your “education.” That helped us to buy small to start and it paid dividends:
1. We miss the RV life style full of adventures!
2. We miss traveling on the back roads, through small towns and looking for the EPIC view on our hikes.
3. We are now into a routine that needs a bit shaken up.
4. When we visit family, we stay in hotels for multiple reasons. Mainly that at this time, none of them have a guest bedroom. So we will be able to not only bring our own bedroom, but also our own kitchen and bathroom!
5. We have a lot more family we need to visit but all of them live very far away. So we could smell the roses on our way and bring our own guest bedroom! Who wouldn’t want to have us visit?
6. We want NIMBLE. We don’t want to tow a car nor do we want to tow a camper. Been there done that. These are our personal preferences.
7. An RV offers the sights and sounds we can’t get traveling to and from a hotel or resort. We have been trying for the past 2 1/2 years. We just can’t get motivated nor have we been willing to take the time to travel as Bill asked us to do when we sold the motor home.
8. We prefer to eat at home. We bought an electric 42 quart cooler to haul with us when we travel. In and out of the trunk and in and out of the hotel. Our last hotel stay, we left the electric cord behind. It has a 12 volt one connected to it and then you add the plug in one. So didn’t notice until we were hundreds of miles away. The hotel would happily mail it back, as long as I sent them a postage paid address label. As of nearly a week later, the hotel is having a hard time getting it sent back to us….So a Class B means we will now have a refrigerator with us! Not to mention things to cook with.
9. We are work-a-holics. Granted, we are retired, but we sure find a lot of work to do….And that is the routine we need to shake up.
1. Cost. Been there and done that! When we sold the motorhome, we literally “threw” in every “extra” thing we bought. Bill said he was done. So now we have to buy a lot of little things – but we don’t know what we will need. He bought as we went along.
2. We formerly traveled in the lap of luxury. Meaning, we had a king sized bed (I am like a built in heater in the summer and winter.) We had a residential refrigerator! We had a full sized washer and dryer. The shower was big. We had a toilet in a closet with an extra sink. Now that was a luxury. If one of us couldn’t “wait” we could always go to the campground restrooms. BUT if we travel the way we want in a class B, we won’t be in many campgrounds.
3. After a full day of outdoor activities, especially hiking, we both need a long, hot shower and a comfortable chair to kick back in. Bill had a leather deluxe lazy boy. My passenger seat turned around so it became my lazy girl!
4. So that brings up the issue, do we really think we could we survive in a VERY small environment? We are getting up there in years and while we are active and in good shape, we wake with aches and pains….
5. VERY little storage space. We found a GREAT list by another #vanlife couple. They spelled out exactly what we need so maybe we can really be minimalists – but I can’t find it now.We successfully downsized from a sticks and bricks home into a small 28′ fifth wheel. We only bought four of everything, imaging the day our grandson(s) would join us or even friends for a meal. We managed and we actually liked to call ourselves minimalists. But then we bought the motor home and somehow, we began to add more and more stuff….then we sold it and moved back into a sticks and bricks home. Now we are used to stuffing our residential fridge more than we dared to in our MH and we are now used to so much stuff again. Basically their list suggested only bring two of everything, ie., two bowls – no plates. What ever you can eat on a plate, you can eat in a bowl. Bring two spoons. Whatever you can eat with a fork, you can eat with a spoon! Only bring two pans. Bill will pick those out! Get the picture?
6. Dealing with the RV industry again. This is considered a luxury industry so our “needs” are at the bottom of the totem pole. That was a rough lesson when we first started and so we know what to expect. So that helped us stop RVing.
7. RVers are the proving ground/testing victims for their improvements. Too many parts wear out prematurely. Too many people have added sumo springs, for example. Heavy duty shocks, heavy duty tires, etc.
We don’t know what we don’t know! So we will continue to engage with others traveling in Class Bs as we come across them. Continue to read blogs – there are some fabulous ones. And then attend the next big RV show and get educated by the RV manufacturer reps and meet class B owners and wannabes! Please feel free to add your thoughts below in our comment area.
My go to verse when I don’t know which path to take:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
We both agreed it was time to get off the road in our 2010 Tiffin Phaeton in December 2019. Only one thing Bill asked was for us to agree to take a road trip a few times a year. We have only been able to make one such road trip since then. We have made several trips to see family but never seem to make the time to stop and smell the roses on the way there or back.
I know I am dating myself, but I loved this Clint Eastwood movie. So when I told Bill this was our next topic, he was surprised! He asked, “Is there bad and ugly in our marriage?” Men don’t see life the same way us women do, in case anyone reading this does not already know this! (smile)
Bill never thought there was anything wrong with our first marriage. I used to say he had his head in the sand. But did he really? He never wanted to see the bad or ugly. And he still doesn’t. We have learned so much and our second marriage is heavenly – but not perfect! There is no perfection on this earth – we only get to look forward to it in our afterlife!
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
I love my husband so much! He is so funny! My next post was going to be called, “the good, the bad, the ugly.” But life this morning was just too amazing so a preview of the good, the bad and the ugly, so I have to share a quick blog.
I remember the first Marriage Bible study we took was under Rev. Paige Young and his wife Sibby at Ferry Farm Baptist Church. They became our role models! Anyway one block was on learning to describe your marriage through illustrations (Jesus taught by parables because our human brains can’t grasp how deep and wide His love and creation is). Bill said I was like a bulldozer!!! Can you imagine how I felt? He quickly added, “in a good way!” He then went on to compliment me on how I get things done! Phew, I was worried for a…
The last post I shared some of the things that killed our relationship. Today I want to share one simple formula and principle which restored our relationship, our marriage and our love life – again from Love Life for Every Married Couple – how to fall in love, stay in love, rekindle your love. I will guarantee if you incorporate these basic principles into your daily life, you will see other relationships improve as well. I know this works because it worked for us and I am a HUGE testimony about how this simple phrase can change your life. Anything good that has happened to me by my own will and chosing to do RIGHT thing (I have made horrible and destructive decisions and thank God I am forgiven) is based upon the Bible.
In Romans 12:2, we are told to
… not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I believe this scripture with my whole being and Bill knows that I have allowed it to work to improve our marriage. However, he will be the first one to tell you, I still have a lot of renewing to do!!! It is never too early or to late to put this into practice.
As a reminder, I used to do some husband bashing. I focused on everything bad about Bill. I stopped looking at his goodness and all the traits I initially “fell in love” with and began to not like him. I gave up on our relationship, felt it was hopeless and sought the divorce. I did not previously write that when we divorced, it was three strikes and Bill was out. There were two other key times when I cried out to Bill there was something wrong in our marriage.
In our seventh year of marriage, called the typical “7 year itch” that I was not happy with the direction of our marriage. So after lots of heart to hearts and lots of yelling and acting out (we also were not in a church or even really looking to God for direction at this point), Bill decided it was time to have a baby (yes, my biological clock was ticking and I really wanted a child for years. Bill was holding off until he thought we could “afford” a baby.) I did love Bill and he loved me and we wanted a child. But our marriage was on shaky grounds. I really wanted to be back in church, but Bill was still soured on some bad past experiences.
I looked to God during this time and even prayed “Hannah’s prayer.” We read about it in 1 Samuel that Hannah was greatly loved by her husband but she was unable to become pregnant. She became more and more distraught and we find the account in 1 Samuel 1:10-11 “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.'”
While I did not look this up and fully identify, I remembered that Hannah really wanted a child and prayed this prayer and offered her child back up to the Lord. And that was what I did. I did not ask for a son or a daughter, I simply asked God to give us a healthy child. God gave Hannah Samuel and we know the rest of that story, hopefully! Well, God gave me Jessica and those who know her know, what a blessing she is to everyone she meets! She has a heart of gold and helps people everyday in her work. She helps her friends and her neighbors. But mostly, she loves her mom! Oh, and she also loves her dad and her husband (note added: She has since had two boys and she loves them as no other mother could!)….she is amazing and to know her is to know love!
After 10 years of marriage, I “cracked up” again and tried to separate. We went to counseling for one session. The marriage counselor said we had to tell her what we wanted her to do. Did we want her to help us restore and save our marriage or did we want her to help us dissolve the marriage? I said I didn’t know, I wanted her to tell us what we should do! Needless to say, we never went back and somehow we muddled through and did all we could to be the best parents possible! Jessica was such a good child and so easy to raise, she really was the glue we needed at that time.
But as you read in my earlier posts, things came to a head again and I just decided the marriage was over. I had tried to get Bill on three separate occasions to change as he promised (each time he knew he needed to do something, but honestly, he just didn’t know what he needed to do! ) No one told us there was a marriage manual (the Bible or if you need it spelled out succinctly, Dr. Ed Wheat has done all the hard work and put it in an easy to read book mentioned above), so our marriage fell apart…but our God is faithful! He not only restored our relationship, He gave us the new and improved version! We continue to praise Him and thank Him everyday for our miracle!
So what did we learn to make our lives better? Not bash my husband nor he cut me down. How I now wish I not only applied this to our marriage, but to other relationships – at least the BE part of the principle. So under conviction, I am now going to stop bashing ANYONE!!! Ok, even politicians. Our Lord knows they need our prayers and love more than anyone, jerks that most of them are…OK, so I am a work in progress….
Before Dr. Wheat gives this principle, he hopes you have accepted all the five ways of loving and he devotes several chapters to each of the different ways a couple should love each other. He even gets pretty explicit with the sex part, so buy the book as I am not going to post any of that part!
Here is our SECRET!!! Starting in his Chapter 13, page 237, Prescription for a Superb Marriage, he says this involves a practical course of action for husband and wife (but trust me, it applies to all relationships) that is both uncomplicated and effective. “You will be able to remember it easily because it is called the B-E-S-T, acronym which represents the four positive elements that will transform any marriage. These are not steps to be tried one at a time, but four measures to be taken simultaneously and maintained consistently. If necessary, they can be implemented by either partner alone. In many cases you will have to make the first move without any promise of cooperation of the other (my note: if your marriage or relationship is on rocky ground). So if you want the best marriage possible with the mate you have chosen, then give your partner the BEST!”
So after we learned this principle and allowed God to renew our minds about each other, we no longer cut each other down or bash each other to others. Think about it, if you know either one of us, have you ever heard us say a negative thing about each other? Or heard us even jokingly cut one another down? If one of us started down that road, we simply whispered lovingly, BEST, and the bad words stopped!
I have summarized the principle and keep it handy on my computer to share with anyone as needed. So not quoting directly from the book, here it is:
1) Blessing – Perhaps you have never thought of blessing as a practical element to be introduced into marriage. The principle of blessing is a biblical one, and the Christian is commanded to practice it, most particularly in response to annoyance or provocation. Learning this important technique of response will carry you through the difficult moments that occur in any marriage and will bring peace to the troubled waters of your relationship. The practice of blessing puts an end to the volley of sharp words that mars so many love affairs, and that is only the beginning of its benefits for you.
The word “blessing” (eulogia) in the New Testament is based upon two Greek words: eu meaning “well” and logos, meaning “word.” The first way of blessing your marriage partner is to speak well of him or her, and to respond with good words even when your partner’s speech becomes harsh, critical, or insulting…..To put this in the most practical terms, you have the power to bless your marriage by the words you speak to your partner. You can also bless by learning when to be silent.
Three other aspects of blessing are found in Scripture. You bless by bestowing practical benefits upon, simply by doing kind things for another person….You also bless by showing thankfulness and appreciation….Finally, you bless by calling God’s favor down in prayer.
To sum up: 1) through your good and loving words spoken to him (her) about him (her); 2) through your practical behavior, which shows loving kindness toward him (her) in actions large and small; 3) through conveying your attitude of thankfulness and appreciation; 4) through your prayer to God on your spouse’s behalf. Good words, kind actions, thankful appreciation, and intercessory prayer for your spouse.
Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
2) Edifying – A biblical term often used in the New Testament, refers to the building up of individuals…in every aspect of your spouse’s personality, cheering him (her) on in every area of life, and increasing his (her) sense of self-worth with the result that his (her) capacity to love and give of himself (herself) would be increased as well….
The New Testament Greek word for “edify” is oikodomeo, a combination of two words: oikos, meaning a family, home, or house, and demo, meaning to build. While you are edifying and building each other up, you are also building a home together….We find as we study the New Testament passages that speak of edifying that three golden strands are interwoven: personal encouragement, inner strengthening, and the establishment of peace and harmony between individuals….
”Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). 1 Corinthians 8:1 sums up the matter of edifying: “Love builds up” (NIV).
But how do you build up your mate? A careful study of New Testament principles and the example of the Song of Solomon indicates that husbands and wives each have their own ways of edifying. In brief, the husband edifies his wife by praising her. The wife edifies her husband by her loving response to him.
Husbands are commanded in Ephesians 5 to nourish and cherish their wives. This is at least partially accomplished through the giving of verbal praise and encouragement. A wife’s sense of her own beauty depends greatly on what her husband thinks of her. She needs to be nourished emotionally with praise and never diminished by criticism, especially in the areas where she feels most insecure and vulnerable. She needs to be cherished in public and the test if this is how her husband treats her socially…. Remember, edification builds up, never tears down. So love gives your partner freedom to grow and develop as a person without fear of failure and fear of hurtful criticism.
Biblically, the wife best edifies her husband by her response to him. In the full meaning of the language of the Greek New Testament, the wife is told to respect, admire, be in awe of, defer to, revere, adore, esteem, praise and deeply love her husband….God has designed marriage so that a husband is dependent on the affirmation of his wife, the appreciation she shows him for all that he gives her, and her demonstration of respect for his manhood.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
3) Sharing – The more ways you can find to be in relationship with each other, the stronger your love will become. Sharing should touch all areas of life—your time, activities, interests, concerns, ideas, innermost thoughts, spiritual walk, family objectives, goals, etc. Sharing demands giving of yourself, listening to your partner, and as you live life together, developing a sensitive awareness of moments that offer possibilities for deepening the love between you. Yes, this too is a biblical principle as the husband and wife are to become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
4) Touching (non-sexual) – God created us with hundreds of thousands of microscopic nerve endings in our skin designed to sense and benefit from a loving touch. A tender touch tells us that we are cared for. It can calm our fears, soothe pain, bring us comfort, or give us the blessed satisfaction of emotional security. As adults, touching continues to be a primary means of communicating with those we love, whether we are conscious of it or not. (My note: I think the more non-sexual touching a woman gets the more of the other the man gets!)
After 36 years of marriage (ok, on and off, as we did divorce but we have been together in one flesh since April 11, 1975) we testify that this prescription will help your marriage be as full and loving as God intended it! We call this the BEST principle!
35th Anniversary Picture
We are celebrating 46 years years of marriage as I type this, 4/10/2021 – a day early. Needless to say, I am way behind on blogging. And now I really need to decide what to do with this blog since we are no longer traveling (much). But this month, as we celebrate, I am reviewing, updating and re-blogging our Marriage Blog Posts. We are still so passionate about the state of marriages. I plan to download these and put into a “table”book for our old age! So if anyone sees any typos or errors, let me know. It will be much appreciated. To catch up if you want to start at the beginning or see why these posts are still relevant, we now have a “Marriage Blog Posts” link on our header.
Near Pawley's Island on a warm winter day, February 27, 2021. Perhaps we should buy new hats to celebrate our anniversary!
I’m way behind in blogging. And now I really need to decide what to do with this blog since we are no longer traveling (much). But this month, as we celebrate 46 years of marriage, I am reviewing, updating and re-blogging our Marriage Blog Posts. We are still passionate about the state of marriages. I plan to download these and convert them into a “table”book for our old age! So if anyone sees any typos or errors, please let me know. It will be much appreciated. And sorry, this is five chapters behind. But to catch up, we now have a “Marriage Blog Posts” link on our header.
Most couples start off madly “in love” where they only see the good in each other, right? I know we did. I don’t think anyone becomes a couple with the idea they will break up one day. I know we professed our undying love for each other and I know we vowed to love one another until death do us part. So what happened? Why did we divorce? We don’t think we are the exception to the rule. We think what happened to us, happens to so many others. A general once said, “The only way to win a war is to prevent a war.” And that is true in marriages: the only way to not divorce (or break up) is to prevent a divorce! Again, I highly recommend Dr. Ed Wheat’s book, Love Life for Every Married Couple how to fall in love, stay in love, rekindle your love to EVERY…
Our grandsons spent last summer with us, written about here. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I included how the boys wonderful summer ended.
Both boys are healthy, active, and are very typical BOYS. They love activity, anything outdoors, running, bike riding, roller skating, playing in the sand at the beach and riding the waves! And they have the need for speed….But none of that had anything to do with either injury. I will say, we were toughened up when Bryce cut a slice near his eye last summer. But oh, deja vu when on…..
July 7, 2020 our oldest grandson took his first trip to an Emergency Room. Surprisingly, Colin had very little pain after the initial fall. UNTIL I had to get him in his car seat and buckled in! OUCH he was screaming! I felt like calling 911 – but he said NO. He’d be ok so he did settle down. He didn’t understand how cool it would have been to ride in an ambulance – I think he just didn’t want to have to get out of the car after we struggled getting him in. Continue Reading
Our daughter drove our grandsons 1/2 way to Myrtle Beach. Bill drove up to get them. Happy reunion!
I’m behind in blogging – I’ve recently written about 10 posts – in my head since my last post! But alas, as with everyone, the Pandemic has thrown our lives off kilter. Humm, according to Merriam Webster, that means not in perfect balance. Maybe I need a stronger word to describe not only our lives, but I am sure nearly everyone can identify with this since the pandemic: our lives are upside down!!!!
As with all families with young children, the pandemic turned first turned their lives upside down when schools and daycares closed in March. Both parents were considered “essential” so they were able to continue to work – which was good in one sense. But then that meant they had to find someone to take care of both boys and “continue” their education.
Since Bill was recovering from the surgery he had on March 20, we could not step in to help them out. But we decided as soon as he felt he could, we would bring the boys back up to Myrtle Beach. In the meantime, they were “sheltered in” with a babysitter/tutor to keep the boys home and working on “school.” Colin had “virtual” classes in reading and math so that was good. But for a 4 year old? He was struggling with learning the alphabet. Thankfully, we learned on August 6, 2020 he needs reading glasses to help his focus! But more on that later.
Bill was healing quicker than expected so we were about to send for them when I tore the meniscus in my left knee. Uh oh! So after six weeks with the babysitter, we finally brought them to Myrtle Beach. They loved their summer here last year so it was “natural” for them to come a week earlier than originally planned had it not been for the pandemic.
While most activities were closed, we at least had the beach as a place to go and go we went! After all, we moved to Myrtle Beach for the beach – and our grandsons love it as much as we do! But then, the rainy season began – so the beach was out for many days. We had gone to Fun Warehouse last year so we tried it again – and it opened just in time. We discovered they had a GREAT summer pass, with unlimited use on the skating rink, go karts, bounce house and laser tag room. Colin was just able to drive a go kart himself – and did he ever love it. And both boys became determined to learn how to skate – which they did!!! The bounce house is always a favorite but laser tag became a favorite for Bryce, our younger. While driving the go-carts were Colin’s favorite. What a great place to spend rainy days. While a huge part of it is “open air” we felt safe with their cleaning standards. Here are a few pictures in a slide show of various activities during the pandemic:
Another great summer activity – but only in dry weather was the mountain bike skills park. We only made it there once, but no problem for Bryce to master it after he saw Colin successfully go around it.
If we got out early enough on days that we knew would not be good beach days, we also enjoyed Savannah Playground. It finally opened on June 1. We had a few great times there, but the weather became too hot. And those were about the only activities we could enjoy. Compared to good friends back up in Virginia, it was so much more than what is opened there. It’s so hard on children to not be able to play and enjoy summer activities.
The worst thing for us was our neighborhood swimming pool not opening. We have a fabulous amenity center, gymnasium, tennis, bocce and pickle ball courts. But the swimming pool was the biggest hit last summer. Eventually, the outdoor courts opened and the swimming pool with one horrible stipulation – aside from having to sign up for an hour or so a day, it was only open for residents. No guests. Which meant no grandchildren! And so many of us have grandchildren that come to visit. We heard a YMCA indoor pool was open and they had swimming lessons. Well, sign us up!
So on July 6, we were blessed for them to start two weeks of swimming lessons. The boys loved it and both were committed to really learning how to swim properly. Our summer was starting to beat to a new rhythm – we were going to survive this pandemic yet!
And then on July 7, after our second great day of lessons, off we went to Fun Warehouse. Another rainy day. And then it happened. A grandparents worst nightmare for their grandchild, who is in their care, to get seriously injured. But Colin was a champ. He was only whimpering but the elbow was starting to swell. And I could see a bone fragment sticking out on the underside. Ugh….
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7
Bill hoped to dig for hidden gems mine for gold while we traveled full time in our Motorhome. We never did, but we still have plans! We hope to take our grandsons on adventures where they will join us in this dream! In the meantime, I just found some hidden gems that are worth more than gold to me!
My dig started when our grand niece arrived from Missouri to spend a few weeks with us. In my last blog post, I alluded to something special happening to help us with our grandsons while I recovered from surgery – and this is our GREAT news! As with most areas, so many fun things for children are closed. Thankfully, here in Myrtle Beach, things are slowly opening. If nothing else, the boys and their cousin will enjoy bike riding and the beach! Continue Reading
I had dropped out of college after completing my junior year, met Bill, and here I was meeting all of his family.
We thought we experienced about every facet of the worst during the Pandemic. I’ve written about my mom’s passing (where I learned Funeral Homes are not considered essential), traveling and surgery in the past few blogs. Just when we thought it was about over – for us that is. So this post is about how we are fairing with our overall health and now our next issue – the need for another surgical procedure.
When I started college, I had to figure out how to “protect” my heart. I developed rheumatic fever when I was five. I was told I had to take penicillin for the rest of my life and I should NOT “stress my heart” by running. Imagine telling that to a five year old!
But when I went to college, I was no longer under a doctor’s care. My roommate was a nursing student and an athlete. It didn’t take me long to learn how important exercise is for a heart. So I began to workout – after all, I had to lose the Freshman 15 when I returned home for the summer. Once I began to run, I was quickly addicted. BUT my mom warned me I would wear my knees out….What do mother’s know? I said you can’t wear out your knees. How how naive I was….”Mother’s are always right” – eventually we see that truth. Continue Reading
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalms 19:1 Sunset, Jacksonville Beach, March 19, 2020.
Bill’s eyes well up with tears whenever he thinks about these past four months (January 1 – April). He said last night, “I know I’ve said it already, but again, I don’t know what I would have done had it not been for you these past four months.” Bill is not an emotional guy. In fact, he fights his emotions like his dad did. And it has not served him well. He knows his dad ended up with health problems because he bottled them up inside. But he’s working on it. “We are all works in progress!” Continue Reading
Our travels 3/19/2020 to 3/31/2020, from our home town, Myrtle Beach, SC (MB) to the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL, back to MB; then to my mom’s former home, Newport News, VA
I thought I had the Google Map tracking feature on my iPhone but it must have fell off during an update. This map only shows the “ideal” routes we traveled – not what we actually traveled which were longer distances and much longer times. But for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll just show the 1,101 miles or 17 hours 4 minutes we traveled most recently, more or less. First some background about my husband’s and my mom’s health decline that lead to these long miles during a less than ideal time to travel.
My mom was a very easy going person. I only remember her losing “it” once, soon after my dad passed away. I don’t know why I don’t take after my mom in that way. Let’s see, which of her fine traits do I have? Hummm….the only thing I can think of is faith. Mom was a woman of faith.
Nothing tugs at our heart strings more than a child in need! One of my nieces, Rachel, has been a good friend to Clara’s mom, Lori since 2007. They met in Mexico while serving as teachers after college. Eventually, both accepted teaching positions in Colorado Springs. And then both went on to have three children each. Eventually, as is common in our culture, both of their families moved apart but they are “virtually” connected!
Clara turns 11 on March 26, 2020. Rachel’s mom, my dear sister-in-law Linda, has been kept up to date on Clara’s life since meeting her a few years ago. Linda has a memory of seeing Clara, her little sister Ana Cecilia and Linda’s grand daughter, Hadassah, running and playing on their farm. No one suspected an unknown and undiagnosable disease was lurking in both Clara and Ana Cecilia.
I’ve missed blogging, both on this blog and on our Travel Adventure site. I usually say these posts are more for me – as a diary of where my life was going, where it went and where it needs to be (this site is more for where it needs to be). As I am aging, I see more and more the need to have these events documented somehow. I am so sad I never blogged about all of our motorcycle adventures (many were pre-blog days) nor do I have a good journal of our early years in Florida (2004-2011). I started a few journal entries to keep our daughter informed of those times – but until I actually began blogging, those memories are now about lost except on some digital and paper photos “somewhere.”
I missed posting on December 15 – Bill’s anniversary. We both have been blessed by the “radical” lifestyle change he had to make. We want to be able to really enjoy our grandsons. We’ve discovered good health and fitness really help! 😏
My blogging has slowed down since we’ve settled down. But I still have so much I want to share – and this one has taken me a few months to finalize! My mother-in-law was such a huge blessing to her family. She was so humble, she never would have wanted us to share her life story. But it is an important one and for the sake of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, her story needs to be told and re-told!
Ruth A. (Brunner) Lees, 98, formerly of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania died Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Mount Vernon, IL. She was born March 17, 1921 in West Newton, a daughter of the late Walter and Minnie Louise (Huber) Brunner and was also preceded in death by her husband Earl Lees, and siblings Rosella “Posey” Fulmer and Warren H. Brunner. Ruth graduated from Westmoreland Hospital School of Nursing in 1943 and served in the Army Nursing Corps during WWII serving as a Lieutenant. She worked as a private duty nurse after the war. She was active with her late husband in the 9th Infantry Division Reunion Group and was a Red Cross volunteer for over 45 years. Ruth was a professing Christian and humble follower of Jesus Christ. She demonstrated her faith in daily practical help to those around her. She was a member of…
Bike riding with our grandsons in our district. Our oldest grandson likes to strike a crazy pose to show his “crazy” side. He gets that from his dad! Our youngest learned how to ride without training wheels this summer!
I can’t believe I never finished our last series (click here) about our first automobile road trip after we stopped RVing. For some reason, it’s harder to blog now that we live back in a sticks and bricks home….I have a draft blog started on the end of that road trip which stopped with us traveling through Indiana. I just have to select the pictures and finalize it. And as usual, I have an abundance of photos. Hopefully, I’ll finish it one day as it includes a stop with a tour of the State Capitol. In the meantime I am compelled to write an update. Continue Reading
We were able to visit the Governor’s Executive Office! Each Governor gets to select what pictures he wants displayed. She explained to us about two but not who the man was in the middle. Or else we forgot!
Our first stop after a family weekend in Mount Vernon, Illinois, Bill’s mother’s birthday celebration, was to visit Indianapolis. We stopped at the Capitol Building for a tour and then headed south to Bloomington to do some hiking. We really enjoy history and where else can you get a great history lesson? This was our 5th such Capitol tour: Frankfurt, Kentucky; Montgomery, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin; and, Harrisburg, PA. While our tour guide was good and we were able to go into the Governor’s private office, he was away, this one ranks 5th as far as “wow” factors. But it was still a very good visit and we would recommend it.
Our two top tours tie for #1, Madison and Harrisburg showcased history and the majesty of the physical buildings. We would put Frankfurt next followed by Montgomery. All were enjoyable and we are grateful we saw each. Indianopolis was lacking in the amount of history we cherish and the building wasn’t showcased like the others. But there were many things that set it apart from the others. It was pretty cool they were in session – first time we’ve seen it.
Indiana is one of 8 states that have all three branches of government working in the historic capitol building. All seven Executive officers, 100 members of the House and Senate and five Supreme Court Justices have working offices in the building.
From our home in Myrtle Beach, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee; to Mount Vernon, Illinois; to Indianapolis, Indiana; to Bloomington, Indiana; to Newport, Tennessee; back to our home. 30 hours of driving time and 1.848 miles.
We’re on a two week road trip, which we didn’t spell out in our last blog post (click here if you missed it). We’ve been working hard on our new home (closed on it on 2/1/2019 in Myrtle Beach), getting it ready for our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons to spend their Easter Break with us. We needed a bit of a vacation break, but more importantly, we needed to spend time with Bill’s mom – to celebrate her 98th birthday and to be supportive of Bill’s brother and his wife. They have been her caregivers for the past five years. We are trying to cram as much as we can into two weeks while driving from Myrtle Beach through the Smoky Mountain National Park; to where his mom is in Mount Vernon, Illinois; to visit the State Capitol in Indianapolis, Indiana; to do some hiking near Bloomington, Indiana and then to spend one night in Newport, Tennessee to finish our drive back home.
We left you with a cliff hanger last blog post, so without further delay, let’s see how our third hike in the SMNP turned out! Continue Reading
Newfound Gap Overlook and trailhead to Charlie’s Bunion. It was a bit chilly up here!
Wow, so much has happened since our last blog post. We are still getting settled into our new home – as well as changing our domicile to South Carolina. I really want to write a post on what one has to do to become a resident of this great state – it’s not as easy as it was to become residents of Florida. I don’t want to forget and who knows, maybe one day some family members or friends will want to move here. It would be great to have the steps written down for them. But onto more exciting things!
When we got off the road, we knew we weren’t through traveling. Just like when we first bought our 5th Wheel on September 4, 2013, we didn’t know how our travels would work out. And now we can say the same thing about “settling” down – we know there is still so much to see in our great nation and so many things on our bucket list to see.
One such place was Smoky Mountains National Park (SMNP). We first visited the area in 2012. We stayed in a cabin in the Pigeon Forge area with our daughter, son-in-law and grand pup. Sadly, I didn’t write a blog post about the trip but I have pictures posted on my personal FaceBook page. We did a few of the same hikes, so I wanted to refresh my memory about them – but somehow, those pictures now seem to be lost in the outer spaces of the internet. Anyway, we knew this was a place we would return one day to do more hiking. We actually tried to get here several times in our motorhome but something always came up to hinder us….
Sunrise walk on January 9, 2019 in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Our son-in-law titled this – when we told him and our daughter our news. He said he was glad we were going to finally settle down! If you follow us on our FaceBook page, found here, this is no surprise. We have been posting some of the process but perhaps a post to help explain how this went down might help others. Or at least help us! Most of our family and friends were surprised by this – and so were we! Continue Reading
He’s just too cute isn’t he? I am sorry, I just can’t help but be one of those typical grandmas who carry too many pictures of their grandchildren.
We’re still here in Myrtle Beach! We arrived on October 24, 2018 with our three year old grandson. You can read about his trip by clicking here. What a treat it was for all of us to have him here. This blog post is supposed to be “Myrtle Beach Through the Eyes of a Three Year Old” – and it will be in part. We have written so many posts about Myrtle Beach, we will add a list of all the posts from the 10 times we have been here since we started RVing five years and four months ago, but who is counting? 😏
Believe it or not, as of the date of this post (12/12/2018) we have been here in total 207 days, nearly seven months since September 2013. The only place we’ve spent more time is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The reason we started this journey was to be with our grandsons (and their parents) – and that’s where they live! Continue Reading
Our Tiffany, named on honor of our precious dachshund. She’s a Tiffin motor home or coach. We love the palm trees here.
Our motorhome, Tiffany, was four years old when we bought her in May 2015. She had two previous owners and neither used her very much. We were pleased with the condition of the mattress, although we hated the thought of a “used mattress.” We washed the fully enclosed cover it had on and we bought a new mattress cover. Either we are getting older, or the mattress has finally worn out – we are both waking up with new aches and pains! Actually for the past six months we’ve noticed it. Buying a replacement RV mattress is NOT easy. We are experienced, we had to do it for our 5th wheel as well. But that hasn’t helped us other than for us to know it was going to be hard to do since we are moving targets.
On my mom’s birthday, when she turned 90, she was there for her first grandchild by her only grand daughter. She has four grand children, seven great grand children and her first great-great grandchild is due in a few months.
So much to write about, so little time! Yes, not enough time to keep our blog updated. We just blinked and three months have flown by. Our last postended with a teaser of the birthdays we celebrated in August while in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We also had two anniversaries to celebrate. And then our oldest grandson started kindergarten and that was a reason to celebrate. And then he learned how to ride his bike without training wheels! And then there were the issues….Where to start? With the best of the best!
We had three celebrations on one date! Let’s start off with a bang! We had a joint birthday party for my mom and our oldest grandson. She turned 95 and he turned 5. What a gift for her, her only granddaughter to give her a great grandson on her birthday, her 90th as pictured!
Our FaceBook post using the check-in app when we flew on July 4, 2018.
How exciting to attend our oldest great nephew’s wedding in California! As much as we would have liked to drive our home there, it’s just too far for us the way we like to travel – since we prefer to be back in Fredericksburg every three months.
It’s a big deal to figure out where to park and leave our motorhome – safely. This is not our first time to leave it. We’ve been fortunate it has always worked out for us. This time, we had also had to figure out which airport offered the best direct flight options. There were so many airports to pick from! So the wedding helped confirm Pennsylvania as the place to go for our summer travels. We didn’t want to go too far since we had to be back by August, to celebrate both grandsons birthdays and my mom’s 95th.
And bonus! My mom was flying to the wedding with my oldest sister, grandmother of the groom, from the Florida panhandle. We’d be together for the wedding and then she flew back to Virginia with us. More on that later. Continue Reading
We only had about 80 miles to go from Cook Forest to Black Moshannon. See all the green – those are more state and national forests. We would have loved to visit each place.
We are a bit behind in our blogging-it’s been over a month since our last post! Hopefully, I can still do justice to our last two stops in our wonderful Pennsylvania summer travels.
We arrived at our next stop, Black Moshannon State Park, on Father’s Day. We were there for eight days. We were able to attend church at Cook Forest before we hit the road since we weren’t going far. Check-in (and out) time in the Pennsylvania State Forest Campgrounds is 3:00 pm. Our trip was only 80 miles and took us just over two hours since we also fueled up. We couldn’t rush out so it was great to attend a worship service church at the campground – and then fellowship a little with some of the attendees.
We prefer to not travel on Sundays, let alone a holiday. But it doesn’t seem like Father’s Day puts as many people on the road as Mother’s Day. Wonder why? One thing we learned here in Pennsylvania – and it does seem to be common in many other state and federal campgrounds – they book up on Friday and Saturday nights. You have to book ahead unless you don’t mind changing sites or just going Sunday – Friday. Continue Reading
Bill drove our motor home 800 miles over the nearly two months we were in Pennsylvania.
We’re in the Wilds!!! See the bottom picture in our last blog post to see how Pennsylvania is broken down regionally. Anyway, trying to decide where to finish our last two weeks in Pennsylvania was no easy task but we felt the Wilds calling our name. So much to see, so little time!
We’ll admit, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we’ve enjoyed this beautiful state. Surprised because it is Bill’s home state – he never really “saw” the state! Bill had hoped to make it up to Lake Erie and to the Allegheny National Forest, but the clock was ticking, we needed to return to Virginia on June 27, 2018.
Bill’s focus this summer, after reviewing places to hike in Pennsylvania was to find state parks where we could start our hikes from our campsites. Our last two weeks, we finally stayed in two locations where we could do this and we loved it! Continue Reading
Our next travel adventure in Pennsylvania, while in New Stanton, took us to Ohiopyle State Park. When Bill was a senior in High School, some friends asked him one day if he wanted to skip school and go to the rapids to ride a raft. He was always game to skip school – so off they went – with a rubber raft. A cheap rubber raft. I’ve heard this story for years – how he almost drowned! Now I get to see where he almost met his waterloo. Here he is looking at the place they jumped in with their rubber raft: Continue Reading
Fredericksburg, VA to Dillsburg, PA, via Warrenton (B) to get us on US Highway 15 and avoid DC traffic, then to Dillsburg, PA (C) to Shawnee State Park (D) and now to New Stanton, PA
Bill is from the New Stanton/Greensburg, Pennsylvania area. Sadly, it takes funerals to reconnect with family in our culture today. We all seem to move and it’s not easy to go back – until we grow up. So we returned on May 23, 2018.
After we were married, we lived in Bill’s hometown – for 1 1/2 years. I’m so grateful as it gave me an opportunity to get to know Bill’s parents and extended family. We both come from small families so it is nice to remain close to the few family members we have – and that is not easy since we all live so far apart. But for the funeral of Bill’s Uncle Warren in November 2016….
We drove our car up from Myrtle Beach to attend Uncle Warren’s funeral – our motor home was safe there for a few days. We reconnected with many and it was as if we hadn’t been apart for 40 years! One second cousin has a fifth wheel Recreational Vehicle (RV). They camp in it at Myrtle Beach every summer. So it was easy for us to connect and share adventures! She also said there is some good RV campgrounds in the New Stanton area if we ever decide to bring our motor home. So that started the wheels turning our heads….
Our drive from Dillsburg to Shawnee State Park, 113 miles.
We are enjoying our short drives from location to location to maximize our adventure days this summer. (Click here to see our short drive in our last post.) We never know what we may be facing driving our 40′ motor home towing our car, so Bill likes to be cautious with the routes he takes. This may not have been the most direct route, but in the mountains, we needed the safest.
The 119 mile drive to Shawnee State Park was uneventful so we made record time, arriving by noon time on May 17, 2018. On the way, we decided to call the office to ask if there had been any cancellations. For the six days we would stay here, we initially booked two sites, our first two days we’d be on an electric only site and then we’d move to a full hook up site. We’ve noticed in most state parks (and many federal parks as well), the weekends are always booked, which means we may have to change sites for our week-long stays. It seems the prime spots in this case, sites with full hook ups are booked on the weekends during “peak” season. We know this is a reality so we’ve learned how to work around it. The weather forecast wasn’t Continue Reading
Our drive on Route 15 from Fredericksburg to Dillsburg. We drove 151 miles and took 3 hours 22 minutes. Compliments of Google Maps Timeline.
We will be flying to attend a wedding in Sacramento on 7/8/18. This has dictated our summer plans – we don’t want to be too far from our home base, Fredericksburg for multiple reasons. More on that later.
Our summer travels will be to see as much of Pennsylvania as we can in 52 days! Although Bill is from Pennsylvania, he has never appreciated the state like we now do after traveling to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Bill’s goal is to see enough of a state to really grasp it’s essence. We’ve had grand plans, but a month has passed as I write this and we haven’t begun to see the state as we originally hoped. Mainly, because we are traveling “slo-mo” to really enjoy each stop. Continue Reading
Spring in Fredericksburg! The dogwoods were beautiful.
We started RVing, right after our first grandson’s birth, in September 2013. We were living in South Central Florida at that time and our daughter and family were (are) in Fredericksburg, VA. So we were 900 miles away or a 14 hour drive! Once we decided to travel full time, Bill promised our daughter we’d come see them at least four months a year.
We decided to come in the month of April because it’s our daughter’s birth month and our first wedding anniversary (married 4/11/1975). The next month we visit is August – both of our grandsons birth month and our second wedding anniversary (8/19/1989). Then we visit a week before Thanksgiving and usually through New Years. We add on a week or two to our times in April and August because of extenuating circumstances.
If you follow us on our public FaceBook page, you know what is coming! Bill had offered to remodel the boys (and guests) bathroom. He thought it would be simple job – would only take two weeks to finish. WRONG. Best laid plans…..
He has remodeled more bathrooms than I can count! He said he wanted to see if he still had it in him….Well, he still has it in him, but he had a few obstacles: tools, tools and the right tools makes a huge difference! When we went full time, he sold most of his tools. Plus, the fact the family was living in the area, so he had to clean up everything every night. Of course, for safety, so the boys wouldn’t get hurt and to keep it somewhat livable.
Let’s stir in that deadline matter…but a bit of background. It took us two years, but we finally found a place to park our motorhome hassle free with full hook ups and no other amenities – which is ideal for us. There are only six RV spots. They used to have maybe 30 or 40. They’ve changed to a manufactured homes park. We managed to snag a spot which gives us the flexibility we need with our comings and goings. It’s complicated and we are not at liberty to share the details of our “deal” but let us say, our “deal” expired on April 30 – so we knew we needed to leave by that date.
Long story short, he didn’t anticipate how off the walls were, so he thought, why not also tear out and install new dry wall? Dry walling isn’t his favorite way to remodel, but he knows how to do it. Thus the two weeks he anticipated it taking turned into five! Bill was sweating bullets because he was no where near ready to leave as the month began to wind down. He always aims for 30 days but this time, it was 43 days.
We arrived on Thursday, March 29, 2018 and left on May 9, 2018. Bill set some parameters with me – no weekends – that was before he tore out the walls! Our tradition upon arriving is to set up our “home” which includes washing the car, cleaning the bugs off the front of the bus and putting on our window sun screens and cover the tires (when we stay anywhere for two weeks or more). Then we go to their house, let the dog out, get the car seats and then pick the boys up, getting them out early. We also cook dinner unless Jessica has it already planned for our first night. But this time, as soon as we arrived, Bill was anxious, so he didn’t take time to clean the bugs off the front of our bus – always mandatory so anything else. In fact, he never did. But in the end, our daughter and son-in-law were pleased and the boys we really excited about it (because their PeePaw did it and they got to touch his tools).
Bill had most of the bathroom emptied by Saturday, in time for our son in law to finish it up. Sunday was Easter, but Bill ended up working some more on it in the afternoon. He took the next weekend off and they realized, he would never finish by April 30 – so he began to work seven days a week. Granted, he only worked 4-6 hours a day. He had a good pace once he started each day. Another hindrance was the fact it was on the second floor and our daughter wanted the shower and floor tiled. Bill uses a “wet” saw so that was set up in the garage – each day while he was cutting some of the tiles to fit. We wish had a step tracker – he must of went up and down the stairs a dozen times a day!
I forgot to mention, in addition to the deadline, Jessica and Shane had new flooring installed downstairs, during this same time! Of course, they had scheduled it before the two week project became five weeks. So that meant Jessica and Shane had a huge project as well. They emptied out all the furniture – then after done, they put it all back. Then Shane put down all the new quarter round. Of course, no project is just one easy day install. We had to have the installers back twice! So we handled the additional things for them.
Here is a slide show of some of the remodeling and finished product. No one thought to take a “before” picture. It was a dated bathroom, very basic with a leak somewhere….It needed a new floor!
While Bill and our son and law worked on the weekends, our daughter and I took the boys on a few excursions to have fun. Please note I had over 600 photos of the boys and our fun to pick from. So here are just a few pictures to capture some of our fun moments:
We like to let the boys take turns spending the night with us over the weekend. They require a lot of energy – so we had to cut back on how much we had them over. Since Bill was fully engaged in the remodel, I took over the responsibility of cooking dinner during the week. Jessica cooked every Sunday. If you know us, I stopped cooking a decade or two ago – so I am slow and it zapped me! Because Bill is now particular about what he eats, we give them a break – while we can stay on target with his heart healthy diet. Needless to say, we limped out of Virginia and are now trying to get back into the travel groove. But we can’t wait to get back in August for Bill to make up for some lost time with the boys!
Our daughter was trying to get the boys to cooperate for our farewell picture. I said just let it go! Bryce had grabbed my cup of water and was determined to use it as a prop! Colin loves his monster poses!
Next up, our summer travels! We’re not going too far away this summer. But we’re going high….
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
It’s officially Spring so time to end our Winter Series posts! As mentioned in a few previous posts, we really weren’t sure how our winter would go – but we never imagined all the freezing, literally freezing weather we were in and that we dodged a tornado! That post, it is written here if you missed it.
But first, let’s look at the conundrum Bill felt. He is the “driver” and the one most knowledgeable about what he can handle on our journeys. He does ask for my input but I usually say, “whatever you can handle (driving) is fine with me.” He does a spectacular job and since we want to do this for a long as possible, why should I try to muck it up? Continue Reading
Red Bay RV Park, 820 4th St., SW, Red Bay, AL 35582, Site # 4.
It was time for our annual trek to Red Bay, Alabama, home of our Tiffin Motorhome, named Tiffany after our precious tween dachshund (1982-2006). We had a few pressing things Bill wanted to get done and if the weather cooperated, we would go this winter in March, rather than May. We didn’t set any winter travel expectations – it depended on the weather. And it looked like the weather would cooperate. As with most full time RVers, we avoid snow and freezing weather. But we never thought we had to consider tornados in March!!! This post will be in three parts: 1) RV repairs/maintenance/remodeling; 2) Hiking in Tishomingo State Park; 3) Weather issues such as a tornado!
Site 32. Nice corner site. I’ve circled our old-fashioned Satellite TV antennae in red. It was an easy set up here.
On February 26, 2018, we drove from Gunter Hill US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Campground to Foscue Creek Park COE, Demopolis, Alabama. It was an ideal distance, just under 100 miles and only took two hours 15 minutes. It was ideal, State Highway 80 in rural Alabama.
Friends had highly recommended it since it has full hook ups and is only $13/night with our America the Beautiful pass. (NOTE: the price went up $1 on March 1 and they expect another price increase soon.) Bill took a look at the map and decided it would help get us in a better position to drive up to Red Bay, Alabama. See our map in our last post here to see our route.Continue Reading
The drive from Fort Pickens to Gunter Hill Park was 179 miles and took approximately 3 1/2 hours drive. Then to Foscue Creek Park, only 90 miles, taking about two hours due to the speed limits. The drive up to Red Bay was 173 miles and took just under four hours, again, due to speed limits!
Last winter, we discovered Gunter Hill Park, Montgomery, Alabama, an US Army Corps of Engineers Campground (COE). It met all of our basic requirements for a long stay, so it was tentatively penciled in for this winter. It depended on the weather and our hopes to make it up to Red Bay, Alabama. The weather turned out to be good enough for us to make it happen. We’re glad we have been “winterized” as we’ve adapted to a cooler winter than most “snowbirds” seek when they head to Florida or Arizona for the winter.
We departed Ft. Pickens on 1/16 and stayed at Gunter Hill Park for 10 days until 1/26. Friends highly recommended Fescue Creek Park, it fit our route nicely. We were there from 1/26-3/1/2018. The distances and times are in the caption of the map, which were all about perfect for how Bill prefers to drive. And it’s really about all my body can stand as well! We both have the common age-related lower back aches but it seems to bother me more than Bill – or else I just am more vocal. I can at least get up and move around a little while he is driving. Continue Reading
Continuing our journey, now along the Florida Panhandle and along the Gulf of Mexico. First stay was at the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Gregory E. Moore Campground, then onto Fort Pickens Campground. While it was only 65 miles, it took nearly two hours due to construction, stop lights and general traffic along Highway 98.
Wow, it’s been a month since we last updated our winter travelogue! As we said in an earlier post, click here if you missed it, we really weren’t sure what our travels plans would look like this winter – so we’re glad we didn’t set any expectations. This past month has been a whirlwind.
We love the beach and knew we wanted to spend a month on the beautiful beaches off of the Gulf of Mexico. This much we knew and planned back in July. My mom lives in the panhandle with my oldest sister so we knew this was a primary destination in January. To get good sites for the two weeks in each location, you have to reserve six months ahead. First stop is Topsail Hill State Preserve Park Gregory E. Moore RV Campground.
Our first day here! It was a cool 51 degrees with a nice breeze. This is the walkway over the sand dunes from the campground to the beach. It’s nearly a mile walk from our campsite. They do run trolleys from the campground to the beach – but we aim for walking 5 miles every day.
This year, we arrived on January 16 and stayed until January 30, 2018. Two weeks is allowed per camper in the Florida State Parks. Once I get as old as Bill, we can stay for a month here, two weeks under his driver’s license (proof of Florida Residency and our age) and two under mine. But no rush! LOL
Here is a slide show to put things in perspective a bit:
Putting our winter in perspective. We fled Fredericksburg on December 26, 2017. The cold seems to have followed us!
Love the tide charts for the Gulf of Mexico.
We wanted to see it all, so here is our route from our campsite, to the beach and then around the lake and on the nature trails.
Isn’t this beach beautiful!!!
So now you may see why this is a favorite destination for us! We fell in love with it our first visit in March 2015. We talked to a couple there who were work campers. It sounded like something we would like to do. My mom would only be an hour or so away so we could spend a month or two or three here! We interviewed for the job and it looked like we were in….but then the Ranger who “hired” us (it’s a volunteer job with free “rent” in exchange) ended up changing jobs before we could cinch the deal. We’ve pretty much decided it probably wouldn’t have worked out for us….😢
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park beach on the Gulf of Mexico our second day here.
This year, we had a real treat – something we have wanted for a while, to bring a grandson on another road trip! We had our oldest grandson, Colin, with us for ten days in Myrtle Beach soon after his brother, Bryce was born. We wrote a little about that wonderful time here, in case you missed it. We cherished that time with him and look forward to another journey with him. Our decision to go get our youngest, he’s nearly 2 1/2 years old now, was a bit spontaneous. We had to have a luxury car just for situations like this. So the biggest downside of Topsail for us is it’s a LONG way from our grandsons (and their beloved parents)! So this month, we drove our car 2,300 miles to get him and return him, taking us 36 hours of driving time! But it was so worth it. Both of our grandsons also love the beach so we look forward to many more fun travel days ahead!
We were on site #66. Bryce felt right at home!
We really weren’t sure how Bryce would travel. Thankfully, he did great as long as we let him out to stretch his legs every few hours. He’s potty trained so it helped us make sure he got his exercise. He is also a GREAT sleeper, needing 2 to 3 hour naps and he sleeps 10 to 12 hours a night. So we got the rest we needed as well.
This one pictures says it all!!! It was a bit cold, but so sunny and this kid loves it!!!
Bryce’s response when he realized we were leaving the beach for the day!
But he was easy to get back on track! He loved riding around the park on his trike
There was a playground near our site so of course, Bryce had to go every chance he got!
Bryce wanted to “touch” every dog he saw! He made lots of friends as he learned how to safely approach a new dog! He’s probably a dog whisperer…
What little boy can resist climbing a ladder? He loves helping his papa!
Bryce was actually only at this location for one week. Bill and I had a week here by ourselves when we decided to go get him. Then it was time to move closer to see my mom and sister, only about 65 miles away, still on the Gulf of Mexico.
On January 30, 2018, we moved onto Fort Pickens Campground on the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park. We stayed here last year, but didn’t discover it until near the end of my time with my mom. We wrote about our time in the Florida Panhandle – when we discovered this treasure – written about here.
I drove Bryce in the car and we left ahead of Bill so he could disconnect everything without a little “helper.” If you know what we mean! Bryce and I stopped in to see my mom, sister and her dog Ruby before we met Bill at the campground. Bryce is my mom’s 7th great grand child. It was time she met him.
Bill and Bryce checking out our new homesite. We thought it was longer than in reality. We just fit. And now having Bryce on a blind corner will mean he must not be out of an arms length. Thankfully, the speed limit was 5 MPH and most every drove very slow.
We arrived here in Fort Pickens on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Our reservation was for two weeks, ending on February 13. My mom saw Bryce twice, but fortunately it was before she was contagious. Mom wasn’t feeling very good our third day there, so I went to see her alone. Sadly, my mom had contracted the flu and was hospitalized that night. The hospital was close by, so I spent two days visiting her there – and then I came down with it! What a miracle neither Bill, Bryce nor my sister caught it.
Our walking here was on the nature trails. This entrance was right by our site. Bryce enjoyed our nature walks and especially all the dogs who were also out for their exercise.
Bill is compelled to walk at least five miles every day. Bryce accompanied him everyday, by giving Bill an “extra” good workout once Bryce’s legs needed a break.
This campground had lots of doggies! So of course, Bryce got to meet each and every one!
Boys will be boys! Bryce managed to break the kitchen sink sprayer connector, just being a boy! Thank goodness for Amazon, we found the replacement part and Bill repaired it quickly. While Bryce was napping!
Bryce loved riding around the campground, checking out the other vehicles. This one sure caught his attention!
Bryce kept asking to go to the beach. It wasn’t as convenient from our campsite to get to the Gulf of Mexico. But this trail was close by to the sound. It was sandy, so he was happy!
We were just exploring so we didn’t know what to expect. Bill took him back another time with his bucket and shovel
There wasn’t a playground at this campground. But we found something just as much fun. A hill of pebble gravel when it was too cool for the beach.
But he asked daily to go back to the beach. He loved playing in the sand.
The water was crystal clear on the sound side as well. Much calmer, too.
So how did I get sick while Bill and Bryce were OK? As soon as my symptoms started, I saw a doctor and was put on Tamiflu – was told to rest for a week and wear a mask. It was recommended Bill get on it as well, so his doctor got him started. And then I wore a surgical mask to keep the germs to myself. I also wore it in the hospital, but I must have contracted it before she was in the hospital. (Do you think I rested? Oh how I wanted to….)
Ugh, the first time I’ve had the flu in decades! So this was how I kept from spreading it.
Bryce had to get into the act and copy his MeMe! He was so funny wearing it and it helped him not be afraid of me!
We arrived here in Fort Pickens on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Our reservation was for two weeks, ending on February 13. She had two days to see Bryce, but fortunately it was before she was contagious. Mom wasn’t feeling very good our third day there, so I went to see her alone. Sadly, my mom had contracted the flu and was hospitalized for five days. The hospital was close by, so I spent two days visiting her – and then I came down with it! What a miracle neither Bill, Bryce nor my sister caught it.
Using FaceTime, Bryce spoke to and saw his mom, dad, brother and his doggie, Ollie, every night. He especially was excited to talk to Ollie and kissed him good night! He really loves dogs. All good things had to come to an end, so it was time to get him home. Since I was still sick, our daughter decided to fly to Atlanta and we meet her there to return him. Bryce enjoyed the airport and was so happy to see his mom. He wouldn’t let go of her for a minute – except to hug us good bye! We loved our time with him in spite of me being sick.
We knew we needed to extend our time here so I could see my mom more. Sadly, this very popular campground was booked, but miraculously we found a really good site back in Campground A – where we stayed last year. At first, only two nights were available – then we checked it the next day and managed to get three nights in a row on the same site.
We stayed on this site from 2/13-16/2018. It’s in Campground A, site #16. It’s a smaller campground as you can tell. Our neighbors had moved out. We have more room on the right because the nature trail path is there, but not shown in the picture. The dump station, dumpster and bath house are only a few hundred yards from any site. Very convenient, but smaller sites and the trees can interfere with your parking.
Mom was finally feeling good enough for a little outdoor time. So I brought her over to see our new campsite.
There are a few of downsides to Fort Pickens. Mainly, it only has water and electric, no sewer. Last year in Campground A, we were close to the dump station, so Bill just carried a five pound bucket of gray water over each day. And we were right by the showers. But in Campground E, we were as far as you could be from the dump station. So he broke down and bought a blue tote tank. Sadly, the weather was so cold here our first week or so, we didn’t use the bathhouse – besides it wasn’t that close to us either.
This is a National Park, so they honor the “America the Beautiful” Passes. We didn’t mind only paying $10/night last year, but the price doubled this year. And it’s really a drive to go to the grocery store. But there are a few restaurants nearby. We haven’t tried them, but others said they were good. Here is the link to the campground for more information and reservations: Recreation.gov< strong>After that whirlwind of a month, we headed Montgomery, Alabama. We stayed here last year and decided we would return for 10 days on our way to the Tiffin Service Center for a few minor repairs to our home.
Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly….Proverbs 17:6
Connect this to our last map. We arrived from Dillon, SC to the Jacksonville area, first stop over New Years Eve long weekend at Sunny Oaks mobile home and RV Campground, then Hanna Park & Campground for two weeks, to Jellystone RV Park, Madison for one night to Topsail Hill State Preserve Park, where we’ll stay for two weeks..
In our last post, we said we may talk some about what is ahead for us for 2018. We only dropped a hint or two and to be honest, we don’t really know what is ahead for us! I recently read the blogs of two couples we have been following since we began on the road: The Lowe’s – what we love about their blog is their details about all of their hikes – which we also love to do; and, Wheelin’ It – they give such practical advice and great tips for the full – time RV lifestyle. The Lowe’s just posted their 2018 travel map and plans – which we all know is always subject to change, but at least they know their general direction. As for Wheelin’ It – they usually do the same! But their current blog tells us why they are not this year and that they areselling their motor home, carand all that goes with it – to move to Europe and travel there. If you want a fully decked out rig with all the latest and greatest plus a car and hitch, check out their blog! Be sure to mention you learned about it from us and we can split the $150 “referral fee.” LOL
So it is with a little envy we read others exciting travel plans. It seems we are now in a routine and so far, our travels aren’t changing much from last winter. We enjoyed our time this year (January 1 – 15, 2018) in Hanna Park and Campground, we planned to write a post about it. But never had time! We did write a bit about it some last winter, first here where we discovered it, and then here, when we stayed for a week last March. We (Debbie) vowed to return! Bill, not so much since he’s the one who drives the motor home and was concerned about taking a tree down – or it taking us out. Anyway, there isn’t much to add to the two posts, except one thing. And it is still that slice of heaven we found last year! The only difference is the sustained freezing cold weather here – but then the whole east coast and probably the midwest are in the same freezing boat. 😱 That wasn’t the one thing, btw.
Our site this year, down two from last year.
This was on our day two and it remained cold the entire time here!
Back to our winter clothes and bundling up! But we’re still happy.
it was so cold and windy on the beach, we hit the trails – conveniently located from our home!
Day three, out on the beach but we have to get used to the tides and sand here.
The majority of our stay ended up being like this! We got in five miles nearly every day after three days.
The year 2017 was a game changer for us. Bill had to learn how to live with heart disease. He has done exceptionally well and his doctor is his biggest fan (next to me, of course) and knows he can continue on. What it has meant in addition to how he eats and exercises is how he manages stress. Now that’s been a battle, especially when things happen he can’t control like two flat tires on Interstate 95 (one of the busiest highways on the east coast). Actually, he did much better than he did with our first blowout on a state road in Florida – but also a busy highway. And now with sustained freezing cold weather – since we LEFT Virginia on December 26 – when we thought we were fleeing freezing cold weather. Actually it just hitched up to our bumper and has followed us. ❄️❄️
This new life style has meant we had to change how we travel – more or less! We had decided before hand, we prefer to only drive the motor home roughly 200 miles between stays and to stay about two weeks. This is most desirable. But there are times it isn’t feasible. We have to balance our travels with our budget and still try to keep our nightly stays around $20. We learned if you stay a week or two, you get a good discount – thus our desire for that as well as we want to get to know the area and see all we can see.
But this past year, we seemed to be consumed with our exercise routine and cooking fresh. So we aren’t sightseeing as much as we once did – although we hit a home run in Wisconsin this past summer. It’s ideal to be able to get in his “mandated” walk of five miles a day straight out our door. We did that beautifully in Hanna Park – and we do that at Pirateland. And then we still remember how disappointed that Wilmington, NCwon’t be our future home when it is time to get off the road. We continue to obsess a bit over it….so that means while at Hanna Park, we had a revelation.
The beach at Hanna Park is every bit as good if not better than Myrtle Beach! And like we did at Myrtle Beach, we decided to look up the beach to see if there isn’t a place we could call home. We did look down to the south and decided that lifestyle wouldn’t fit us. So what beach is up the coast? Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island:
It was love at first sight – or actually a re-look. We did visit Amelia Island years ago. It didn’t really strike us as a future home. For whatever reason, this time, after we really checked out the beach, did we see the potential. GRANTED, it is way too far from our daughter and her family. We do still hope and dream they will see the light and move to Florida….
Our first view approaching Amelia Island from A1A. We approached it from a different road when we came a few years ago. What’s not to love?
Then we began to drive on a beautiful road like this – with a walking trail next to it the entire length!
We saw the sign for this, so looked it up on the web. Looks fabulous, but we want some place realistic….This is “just” a resort!
Of course, we had to hit the beach! We didn’t see this when we came before….didn’t really know what we missed.
We could easily walk five miles on this beach. And like Atlantic Beach at Hanna Park, the tides didn’t really affect the times of our walks.
We talked to a resident of the area. These condos are each a cool million or more! So much for that lifestyle….
uh oh, what are we doing? This neighborhood is in our price range….
I won’t elaborate any more except to say, we are now going to look at more places up and down the east coast, in South Carolina and Georgia, as potential places to eventually settle. We think we have now ruled out North Carolina. While it will be farther than I would prefer, Bill just can’t handle continuous freezing weather. We’ve acclimated but it’s just been one miserable winter.
And now, back to our plans for 2018? Not that we feel we need to have that exit plan in place should we need to get off the road, let’s just say it has a less stressful feel to it to think about it. For now, we just hope to enjoy each place we visit – which now seems to be more for a purpose than just “adventure” – although we still think life is nothing but full of adventure!
We are starting 2018 on the same route as we did in 2017! It’s “Trip One” to start our warm winter travels! Fredericksburg, Virginia to Dillon, SC to Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s that time of the year, so Happy New Year! We enjoy reading a snapshot of others’ year end blogs so hope others enjoy ours as well. And writing ours helps us keep our travels in perspective. We are still enjoying our lifestyle in spite of the challenges we’ve had this year. But that’s why it’s even more important to look back.
First, it helped us to look at what we wrote last year (click here if you missed it).WOW, our start this is is the same as last year. Once again, we started the New Year fleeing freezing cold temperatures in Virginia. We forgot how bad it was last year when we tried to close our slides to leave Fredericksburg. The slide toppers were frozen with a sheet of ice! This year, we had the slides pulled in for over two weeks to stay warm which we have never had to do before. The winter storm Benji arrived ahead of any other storms we’ve fled from in these four years of traveling. Continue Reading
Bill went to bed after we logged his 364th day of food, exercise and weight losses (and gains – he went up a pound or two here and there). We used the Lose It App and recommend it. Very easy to use once you get the hang of it!
It’s hard to believe it was a year ago when Bill received devastating news: He was at risk for a massive heart attack and/or had heart disease. WOW, what a shock since he was asymptomatic. I guess that’s why it’s called the silent killer. We’ve written a number of posts about the diagnosis and how he’s learned to live and THRIVE with it. The “Table of Contents” is found here if you missed the posts. I wrote about it in my personal blog as we tried to keep this one for our travel adventures….but then, this was an adventure, just a different type!
I decided to “interview” Bill for this post – after he said he didn’t want to write it!
What’s the first thing you thought of as you approached your one year anniversary? “I’m alive!”
Hallelujah! That was our goal and he’s hit a home run!
But maybe he didn’t understand exactly where I was coming from. I asked him, “Remember when we started this journey and I asked if you could do this (eat a heart healthy diet, exercise more vigorously, and manage his stress) for the rest of your life? You replied, “Ask me in six months.” I did ask him at six months and he said there was no turning back. But now at a year, I wanted to know more.
It was an ordeal to drastically change how we lived, ate, worked out, managed stress – while not thinking you could drop dead any minute! But he did it and is THRIVING! Continue Reading
Bill realized the value of slide toppers when we had our Extra Lite 5th wheel. It seemed no matter where we “parked” it, the three slides were covered with leaves and/or other debris. He is a keen observer. He’d see what other people had on their RVs and what tools they used. One thing we quickly learned as new RV owners and avid travelers, you have to clean off your slide tops before you bring them in. Otherwise, you bring that debris into your RV and/or jam up the processes as they come in. We asked for an estimate to have them installed on our 5th wheel – the price was way too high. So Bill just bought a light-weight leaf blower someone else used as well as a 5′ lightweight ladder to climb up to blow the slide tops off before I brought them in. You’ll see the ladder he used to get up there in a later picture as he still uses it. Continue Reading
The start of our journey in our new to us motor home with our new to us toad! Read the linked post about how long it took us to get it hitched up and how many miles I had to follow Bill.
Our six weeks in Myrtle Beach are coming to an end. As we mentioned in a previous post (or two), we had declared we wanted to see lots more new places. Thanks to an unexpected surgery, it turned out this was the place to go after all – great area to heal! And for those who know about Bill’s heart health journey, he is to live in a low stress environment. You’d think that was what we have been doing here, right? Nope, we’ve been consumed with a few issues, the main one was what to do about our TOAD?
That’s the car towed behind our motor homes, affectionately called TOADS, short for tow-ed. Some even call them their dinghy. We wrote about our decision making process in selecting our Cadillac SRX here. So how has that worked out for us? Read on…..
As a recap, we didn’t have much time to make a decision on what car to buy to serve as our TOAD. Our truck had been totaled while we were in the midst of the selling of our 5th wheel and the purchase of our motor home (affectionally called Tiffany for our precious ‘tween dachshund 1982-1999) . When we started our research, it looked like the two main options for us were various Jeeps and the Honda CRV. Continue Reading
A sweet, quaint college town on the coast! Near several beaches. Mild Climate. Low (sort of) taxes. An airport. Shopping. Health care. Not much traffic. Only five hours from our daughter and her family. That’s all we are looking for.
That was our vision about Wilmington, North Carolina.When it is time to switch from our dream life traveling in our motor home, we are dreaming about the perfect little dream town to settle down. How we hoped it was Wilmington. It has been on our radar for years, we just never could get there. A few times while here in Myrtle Beach, we thought about running up there. We thought it was only an hour or so away (in fact it’s 80 miles and took us nearly two hours). We just never could justify leaving this beautiful beach….Yes, we are still in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Until the horses returned to the beach for three days last week. That means, no walking on the beach as it’s too trampled and people and horses don’t really know how to share the “beach” to our satisfaction. You can read here our write up about it last time we tried to share the beach and one “hot dog” challenged me! We pretty much vowed we wouldn’t be here at the same time. Even if it is for a worthy Continue Reading
Sunrise, 7:00 am at Myrtle Beach State Park Pier taken on our daily walk
While trying to think about our next blog post, we reviewed our year (and then our past four years on the road). People have asked if this lifestyle is cheaper than living in a “sticks n bricks” house. The general guideline is, if you are like us, it’s about the same cost. If you want to live cheaper, there are ways (such as installing up front expensive solar panels and then live cheap “boon docking”) but that’s for others to write about. We know those ways weren’t for us. Our basic budget is about the same now as before we hit the road. We are striving to live at the same or slightly cheaper lifestyle while traveling full time. And just like in a house, RVs need major repairs. You hope to spread them out! Continue Reading