Are we living the dream?


Photo by friend, Gerald Voigt “Hawkeye” on July 6, 2017 in Omro, Wisconsin. He and his wife are amazing photographers. Visit their FaceBook page to get connected: https://www.facebook.com/rvnomads/

Finally, I have been inspired and have the time to write a blog post after two months. We are so overdue and are so grateful for new followers – although we haven’t written anything to follow for two months! We had hoped to write more about our travels in Wisconsin and about the end of our summer travels back to our “home” base, Fredericksburg, Virginia.  We have been on the go since we arrived here, not a spare minute to compose a post (nor the energy)….

First, I have to thank virtual friend, Ingrid for her inspiring post, Trouble with the Dream. Their story is so similar to ours. We never dreamed we would live full time in a Recreational Vehicle (RV).  Neither of us had any idea how we’d get addicted to this lifestyle nor how long we’ll do this.

We just celebrated four years of traveling in an RV, which started in September 2013. Our first year wasn’t full time, it’s called extended stays we learned in a seminar. We’d travel for 2-3 months and then return to our sticks and bricks home – which was actually our retirement “dream” home. It didn’t take long, but we began to dread going home….Can you imagine as this was our home:

Our dream home with a swimming pool in the back yard and on a golf course.

It was a beautiful sticks and bricks home on a golf course with an in-ground swimming pool in south central Florida. We loved the lifestyle in this wonderful and quaint town of Sebring, in Highlands County. One thing Bill wanted was to live in a town where they didn’t have traffic reports! Do you know what we mean?

If you followed the weather channel, Hurricane Irma blew through the county on September 11, 2017, leaving it as the second hardest hit county in Florida. They say 99% of the county lost power and it was one of the last counties restored to full power. The schools were closed until September 20. My heart was aching but thankfully, no loss of life. But homes and dreams were shattered while we are “living the dream.” 😢

Or are we? Like our friend, Ingrid, and her husband, this never really was our “dream.” Granted, Bill did want to travel in some way, shape or form. His parents bought a Scottie as they approached the “empty nest” syndrome, although they had tent camped before (not Bill). His parents also took a yearly trip to see some interesting sites with the 9th Infantry Reunions. And Bill used to watch the Charles Kuralt show where he traveled off the beaten path and thought that would be great!

Bill’s parents with their Scotty, circa early 1970s. They traveled with “Morris the Cat” – always on a leash!

Being in the military, our family moved and so we did travel whenever he was transferred. I was born in Wyoming then at age 2, my dad was transferred to Germany. I didn’t get to see the sites, but saw the pictures and my parents enjoyed Europe! Then he was transferred to Colorado, first to Pueblo, then for a second tour, to Colorado Springs. Oh we sure enjoyed our six years there! Then off to Tokyo, Japan, and of course, we saw some great sites there, too! Then back to the US, this time, Langley Air Force Base in Hampton. That’s where my love for history began as we toured all the Revolutionary and Civil War sites, My dad took me tent camping and fishing a few times. I loved it! But once we were married, Bill let me know he wasn’t into sleeping on the ground anymore (he did it a lot just under the stars as a kid). In 1982, my parents bought a travel trailer and a membership at Indian Cove Resort, near Virginia Beach, Virginia. This was where we would vacation, visiting family for 14 years.  It was a great place for our daughter and her cousins to “camp” or maybe this was more glamping! While at my parents campground, Bill saw a motorhome and that planted that seed. Funny, I saw a 5th wheel and heard my mom raving about it…and that planted that seed!

Summer 1982. Oh my, what a picture! Bill and I with our daughter at my parents campsite. This spoiled Bill and he decided this was the only way he’d “camp” with our own “facilities.”

As for retirement plans, I only knew I wanted to retire young and “fit” and to become more involved in our church and in our community.  We did have a fleeting fantasy for a few years of through-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT).  That was how we had hoped to start our retirement and then figure out what we would actually “do”…. Bill saw a PBS special one time that followed a group of people who did just that.  I said we couldn’t go until they invented a cell phone that could be charged via solar power (so they finally did it)! I’ve always wanted to be “connected” to our daughter. I ended up getting transferred to Miami, Florida so that actually changed that dream as it accelerated Bill’s retirement – he once again became self employed. And, realistically, neither of us could rough it on the ground and without a daily hot shower!

I officially retired in 2006 – and I began living my dream. Bill and I became active in a ministry to help the elderly in our church and community. We had invested in rental properties so we worked it around my retired lifestyle. Bill just wasn’t ready to actually stop working. After a year and a half, I became a bit bored and went back to work part time. I could say that part time job was really a dream job and it opened so many fabulous doors for me since we were new to the community. The thought of ever traveling full time just didn’t compute with me. We had a bad habit of not taking “real” vacations our working lives. We lived far from family so we usually traveled to be with family and keep our daughter connected with family. But finally, we had the freedom to travel.

So while in Florida, our main mode of travel was on Bill’s Ultra Classic Harley Davidson. I’m sad I didn’t document all of our trips on it, but we covered most of the state of Florida on it, except the Panhandle. We did talk and dreamed of traveling the USA on it! But of the three long trips we did take, twice we had a major weather issues and once we had a medical issue. And then, we really don’t like to eat out, so we couldn’t figure that one out either. We met people who towed a little trailer, loaded with a tent, sleeping bags and a few necessities to camp. Was that the answer? No, Bill just couldn’t imagine towing a trailer no matter how small behind his motorcycle. And it was back to the idea of sleeping on the ground. We now joke how we still want to through-hike the Appalachia Trail, but we know we can’t sleep on the ground and we’d miss our hot showers….

We made it to Key West in 2008. One benefit of our tourist vehicle being a motorcycle there, they have preferential parking!

We were also the caregivers of Bill’s mom there.  She no longer drove once we moved to Sebring. In fact, she was the reason we moved there. We took her on a weeklong family cruise when we first moved to Florida. We wish we had taken more cruises as Florida is the place to live and take cruises (saves your flight $$ to the ports). We took one other cruise with our daughter and new son-in-law (to celebrate our 35th Anniversary and their marriage) and we flew to Colorado twice to hike in the Rockies. Then Bill’s mom’s health began to deteriorate and we decided we couldn’t leave her for longer than a few days – so we began to take mini, three to four day, vacations on the motorcycle. And that really worked for us as we felt we needed to be in Church every Sunday. We learned how our first marriage fell apart, it was now important for us – more than just the “church” but how it kept us grounded.

March 2006. From left Bill, me, Bill’s mom, our daughter – Jessica, my mom, my step dad, my sister and her husband. We never thought we’d enjoy a cruise as everyone talked about the food. But once we discovered the formal dining room, we really liked it. The idea of the multiple course meals, with small portions and very well balanced satisfied us! We see cruises in our future….

We did venture out of the state of Florida on our motorcycle, once, back to Mobile, Alabama. We lived there from 1986-1989. It had great memories for us, but also a bit of a tragedy as our marriage crashed and burned there. The reason we started this blog was to share about our marriage, divorce, reconciliation and remarriage. And then to keep it real by sharing our everyday struggles as well. And that is the point of this post, to see if we are really living the dream as we are told by many.

In early 2013, we had a dilemma. FINALLY, we were going to be grandparents. Now we had to figure Bill’s retirement out – he was a work-a-holic and was his own worst boss! Our grand baby was going to be 14 hours away by car, or 900 miles. And the guest room was being converted to the nursery. Bill had actually been fantasizing about a motor home after seeing that one back in 1982. But I really thought they were ridiculous and never encouraged it….until our dilemma!

Things began to come together.  We had actually discovered the Tampa RV Super Shows. They were fun to ride there on our Harley. We stayed overnight in a near by hotel so I “humored” Bill’s fantasy. But now we had to get serious about looking at RVs. That would solve our problem of not eating out as we traveled, we’d be protected from the weather and we’d have our own bedroom when we went to visit our grand baby!

The problem was, we had a small pick up truck, a Toyota Tacoma. We tried to find a trailer to pull and for Bill to be able to stand up in (at 6’2″) but small enough for our truck. Oh how we searched and searched… So when that didn’t look possible, Bill wanted to look at motor homes. I just had a thing against them. For one, to get out of the state of Florida from our home, it would just about be a days drive. I talked him out of it. He really didn’t want to buy a new truck….but that was what we had to do when we finally compromised on the 5th wheel (hehehe). We reconciled with the fact, we would not take the motorcycle camping with us. After almost two years, as much as we did like how nimble it was, we really just outgrew it. Once we went full time, and sold our home, the motor home was realistic!

Our new truck and 5th wheel. We were about to head out on our “maiden” voyage to Port St. Lucie on 9/17/2013.

My mom and step dad, Cliff, moved to Sebring after our family cruise in 2006. Cliff and his first wife owned every type of RV over the decades. His wife never wanted to travel full time, so they never had a motor home. After her passing, he traded in what he had (I think he had two small ones) and bought a motor home. My mom had hoped dad would want to go on the road – after all, they once had an Airstream, traveled a little in it and lived in it while dad was under transfer to Florida from Michigan (I think – that was before my time.)  Long story short, my sister and her best friend decided to “hook” our parents up as Cliff was looking for a traveling companion. He was headed to Indian Cove from his home in Ohio. Well, it was a match made in heaven, they married and soon after, became “full timers.”  So Cliff became Bill’s mentor and helped plant the bug to one day own a motor home. And he was our biggest fan of us hitting the road….

So now about our current dream? We are now reflecting on our travels. We really never knew how things would “shake out” but Bill promised our daughter we would come see them four months a year. As for me, oh how I was hooked on becoming a grandma! And our little Colin was the best baby – oh how we love him. We’ve been encouraged to continue to live our lives and Bill is not ready to give up his travel dream. It’s not a source of conflict but it is the reason we’re still on the road and will be for some time to come. We just can’t agree where to “settle down” since Fredericksburg is out….

Bill admiring Colin at five days old!

We lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia from 1996 – 2004. And we lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia from 1977 – 1986. As far as Bill is concerned, that is enough time in this state. His main opposition besides the fact they will tax not only our pensions, but our Social Security as well, is the traffic. That’s his nemesis. He grew up in a small town with no traffic issues. He moved to Jacksonville, Florida soon after trade school – back in those days, there was very little traffic there.

We had little to no traffic in Sebring, Florida (only a little bit during the snowbird season, January  – March). Every thing was only a 10 minute drive, to the bank, to the dentist, to any and all doctor, to the grocery store, to the hair salon….Here and Fredericksburg, everything should only be 10 minutes as everything is close to our current RV site, but thanks to traffic, it can take 30 minutes to get anywhere. He just hates wasting the time in a car…..

Our first four months visiting our grandson (and then grandsons) has turned into six months twice, due to a few times Colin was sick and then waiting for the birth of grandson #2. And by the way, Bill is gaga over these two little boys!

Don’t we look happy with the birth of our second grandson! We both are shocked when we see the extra weight we were carrying back then….

We hear it time and time again when we tell people we live in a motor home and travel full time. “Oh how we’d love to do that.” Or,  “You are living my dream.” Probably 90% of them are envious and say they’d love to live this dream. It’s funny, one of our doctors and two friends have said they couldn’t live this close to their spouses full time! It is tight quarters, but we love it! And being minimalists (we’ve blogged about that here and here), it really works for us. But it’s not for everyone!

REFLECTING

The beauty of our travels is we are off the “beaten path” and we go where we’d probably never go in “normal” travels. When we started traveling in our 5th wheel, we decided so see as many places as we could in between traveling from Florida to Virginia to see our grandsons.  We were like grasshoppers. We would only stay about three to four days at each location. It was exciting, but were we really doing justice to our travel dream? This map is of our travels starting in 2013. We were excited we’ve expanded it a bit, but still so much more to see!

Our current map of our campground/RV parks. Click on it to go to the live and interactive map.

Granted, we saw a lot but we began to realize we’ve passed a lot of places on our way from point A to point B. In our 5th wheel from 9/2013-5/2015, in addition to about four places in Florida excluding the panhandle, we breezed in and out of Georgia, South and North Carolina, Here are most of the cities we traveled to in our 5th wheel – alphabetical and by state:

Georgia: Columbus, Jekyll Island, Kingsland, Midland, Millbridge, Woodbine; South Carolina: Charleston, Myrtle Beach (ok, we did go there a lot and stayed longer and longer – but we’ve decided to not return anytime soon), St. George and Dillon; North Carolina: Advance, Asheville, Cedar Point, Emerald Isle, Four Oaks, Franklin, Lenoir, Maggie Valley, Mt. Airy, Selma, & Sylvia.  In Virginia, we usually only visited places on our way to or from Fredericksburg, Front Royal, Natural Bridge, Staunton & Waynesboro.

So once we bought the motorhome, our travel style changed drastically. We discovered you can get a better rate if you stay seven days and even better rates if you stay 30!  There are just too many places  to list from our two months each in Kentucky and Wisconsin, but you can see our maps here and here. We have slowed down, but we are still covering a lot of territory! We’ve extended our travels outside of the above four states in our motorhome to:

Alabama: Eufala, Montgomery, Red Bay, Robertsdale; Mississippi: Ocean Springs; Tennessee: Bristol, Chattanooga, & Jasper; Illinois: Benton; Utica & Thomson’s Causeway (where we visited two places in Iowa: Clinton & Le Claire, Iowa); and we’ve added a city to North Carolina: Salisbury; South Carolina: Spartanburg; and to Virginia: Wytheville.

While this has been so much fun, as Ingrid pointed out, there is the downside. Let’s just say, this lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it is working for us. Mainly, because we can’t decide where to live – and there is no rush to “settle” down at this point. So what are the challenges or the downside to this lifestyle? We’ll look at that next time as we look at how Bill sets our itinerary, what are the downsides to this life style and what have we been doing for two months here in Fredericksburg? Here’s a sneak preview:

In August, our grandsons, Colin turned 4 and Bryce turned 2. Our daughter was teaching Bryce how to blow out the candle!

We went to Corolla Beach, North Carolina for a week with our daughter and family. We are so blessed we have a great relationship with our son-in-law! These two working parents needed a vacation so we are trying to help set their pattern to enjoy a family vacation every year!

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

15 thoughts on “Are we living the dream?

  1. Welcome back and thanks for the update

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  2. Great update! I really enjoyed all your pictures. You truly are “living the dream.” I enjoy living the dream with you through your blog posts.
    Camping and traveling is one of our favorite things to do. Roughing it and sleeping on the ground is getting to be a bit much, so I call it glamping. We need a glamorous, raised air bed, and a coffee pot in our tent. The secret desire of my heart still, is to see more of America. You could never explore it all. 🙂

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  3. Loved hearing your back story. We do have a lot in common. Thanks for sharing your story and the blog love. Here’s to more adventures.

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  4. You were in story telling mode this week, too! I’m so glad we met you and Bill! When was it that we met? Jerry and I were just talking about that. I think it was at Green Mountain, Lenoir, SC. I remember walking the park with you. Jerry thinks it was in Fredericksburg. Anyway, it was a treat spending time with you this summer in Omro and I’m thankful we could reconnect.

    Thanks for your sweet comments and linking out to our Facebook page! And I loved reading your backstory.

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    • Yes, it was in Lenoir, but Bill remembered seeing you at the KOA in Fredericksburg! Your photography is just amazing….we only dream of the pictures you two take. I guess we needed a photography lesson while we were there! And perhaps a better camera….
      I thought I’d write so much more while “recovering.” but it was too hard to sit in one position….and I just didn’t feel good enough. It takes a lot of energy to write these in a historical way….when I write as we travel, it is so much easier. I hope our paths cross sooner rather than later. Bill is dreaming of Arizona….

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      • Isn’t that funny … we’re both right! Thanks again! I’m such a beginner with photography. I can see the shot, but getting it to actually record what I see is a challenge. Jerry is a good teacher though, so that helps.

        We’re heading straight to Arizona for the winter, as soon as we’re done in Colorado. Next winter we’re thinking of returning to Florida. Need to mix it up a bit!

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      • I can tell he is a good teacher! You are catching on fast. 😃
        We’ll have to talk about Florida!

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  5. It’s interesting to hear all our different stories how we decided to retire with a house on wheels. Your grandchildren are so cute:)

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    • Thanks, we think they’re pretty cute, too. We can’t wait to take them on some great excursions! The oldest may spend a month on the road with us next summer! I’m dreaming of a new bunkhouse MH!!! Lol
      It’s fun to hear how and why others ditched their sticks n bricks!

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  6. Glad you are back! Interesting story!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is great that you share your adventures with us. I enjoy what you post and learn. Thanks for sharing.

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