It’s nice when there are multiple birthdays and anniversaries in the same month. It makes it easy to remember them. But it is really sad when you start adding deaths to that list.Continue Reading
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.Continue Reading
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!
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.
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
When we started our winter travels from Virginia on January 4, 2017, to stay
somewhat warm, we really had no idea how our travels would turn out. We are still a bit gun-shy, so we don’t like to make reservations until we are on our way to a particular RV park/campground. We’ve had four family emergencies in our three years on the road where we’ve had to cancel our reservations, turn around or set aside our travel agenda for a time. When we started this winter series, I wasn’t too optimistic about coming up with a way to label our travels. So if you have been following along, you can see I have modified our titles, which means things are getting a bit more exciting!
We are now in our eight RV Park/campground since we
left fled the snow in Virginia. We know reservations in the warmer parts of Florida between January and March are tight, slim, and expensive. Thus, we have been bouncing along, not staying anywhere too long. Although, we have not paid the high prices we thought. Anyway, we had planned to spend a month in Gulf Shores, Alabama with friends we made last time we were at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama. We called the couple a few days before we made the reservations in Fort Pickens. They said they would have the scoop on where we could stay….only to learn the husband had just passed away. 😢 You know, it just puts life into perspective! So our plans have again changed, but then, we really didn’t have any plans set in stone.
Another one of our destinations this winter was to spend a week or so with my mom. She is splitting her year between one sister in Virginia and the other sister who lives in the Florida Panhandle. We had an easy drive, 150 miles and 2 1/2 hours, to our next destination, Emerald Beach RV Park, Navarre, Florida from Three Rivers State Park (post about it is here). We stayed here for 8 days. This was the perfect place for us to have our mattress shipped, as we discussed in our last post. Continue Reading
We mentioned in our last post, in order to be a successful/happy/content full-time RVer, one must be flexible! Bill likes life a bit orderly, no surprise to those who know him, “let’s plan and do it!” I’m more of a spontaneous person, ready to rock and roll to most of life’s punches. Or is it the other way around? 😉, anyway, we are a great team!
We continue to reflect back on what an ideal summer we had in Kentucky! (If you missed the posts, start reading here or just for our recap, read about it here.) A well needed action-packed summer full of lots of miles, parks, hiking, sightseeing, etc. We thought after nearly two months of family time, six weeks in Myrtle Beach would be a relaxing break. And besides, we planned to be back in Fredericksburg for six weeks, from Thanksgiving to the New Year (to include the all important Christmas with family). We’d get in at least a five mile beach walk most days, Bill would complete a number of minor repairs/modifications to our RV, plus finish polishing it! Ah, life is good 😊! Continue Reading
Our day started relatively early. The sky was so strange, as it if was mourning our leaving. Our backside neighbor was leaving today as well. He said he already missed it and hadn’t left yet! We were in Myrtle Beach for 22 days. It was a great time, but when it is time to go, we never mourn, unless we are leaving our grandsons! And then it only takes a day or two to get acclimated to our lifestyle back on the road.
What can I say about the best 10 years of my life in a small city? We became residents here in November 2004. Then we became full-time travelers in 2014, but Sebring is still our legal residence. Please note, this is really more my post than Bill’s. For me, I have an emotional and spiritual connection with this precious city. I’ve been trying to think how can I capture its essence, more than my factual based last post about it or about the County in general?
Family History. In 1996, we drove around the Sebring downtown circle with Bill’s Uncle Norm and Aunt Posey when we moved Bill’s mom here. They loved living near Lake Jackson and showed us all the sights. Nothing really grabbed our attention at the time. They became snowbirds here in 1989 and full time residents in 1995. Then in 1996, we visited over Christmas break with our then 14 year old daughter – the Circle was decorated for Christmas (Carousel of Lights) in all it’s glory! We began to notice a unique charm. Once we moved here, we made it a tradition to attend the yearly Christmas parade and when they “light up” the circle. We began to visit here once or twice a year for the next eight years – and slowly, we grew to love the area.
More Family. My mom remarried in July 2003 after being widowed for five years. She married a man that loved the RV life, as did my mom. They became full time travelers, until March 2005. One of my sisters and her husband also owned a motorhome, so they traveled some with them. They all came to Sebring to visit and my folks bought a manufactured home where they could also park their motor home for free! That meant they could still travel some. Soon after, my sister and her husband sold their motorhome and bought a “snow bird” home here in Sebring. And then the month we sold our home to become full-time travelers, my step sister and her husband moved to Sebring. That was not planned as we independently didn’t know what the other was doing until the plans were finalized!
Sadly, both Uncle Norm and Aunt Posey passed within our first two years here. In their day, they were the life of their mobile home park. Norm said he knows moving here added five years to his life. They both were very active and loved helping others. And like Bill’s mom and my dad, both were veterans of WW II. They were treasured and we are grateful they found Sebring for us!
Holidays. Holidays became a blessing for us as Bill and I never lived near family. We always traveled on the holidays but now, we had plenty of family for all the holidays. And with our new extended family, that brought more family to celebrate at various times during the year.
But we quickly realized how hard this move was going to be on our 22 year old daughter, and our only child. So I guess I can honestly say, it was very hard on me. While looking through old pictures, I found an old letter I had written around this time. I said had we stayed in Virginia to be close to her, she would have fell in love with a Marine and moved away….wouldn’t you know, she had just met and was falling in love with a young man from the area with deep family roots? They finally married and have now given us two adorable grandsons. And that propelled us into our “Full Time RVer” lifestyle! But I digress. We were sitting in the airport with our daughter for her to return home to Virginia after her whirlwind her three day Christmas visit here in December 2004, Bill realized the two women in his life needed something to look forward to. His idea? A cruise in March 2005! Woohoo! The plans started. We also reached out to family members and invited them. Here we are on the cruise:
Great memories. And then we began to enjoy Florida to the fullest once we got over the first big holiday. We will admit, initially, we were not impressed with cruising. But in time, we decided to give it another try. Jessica and Shane didn’t get the honeymoon they wanted, so we offered to help them plan for a cruise to celebrate a few months later while we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We absolutely loved the Princess Cruise!
We also enjoyed every holiday by celebrating with family. They say once you move to Florida, be sure and have a guest bedroom as everyone will want to come visit! And what a blessing all those visits were. My one sister bought a snow bird home here with her husband and eventually, our step sister and her husband moved here permanently.
I’m planning on another post to talk about all of the fun times we had those ten years! We can’t count how many great three day mini-vacations we took all around the state, riding our motorcycle. Our favorite such trip was to Key West! And then, we saw parts of the state many native born Floridians didn’t know existed, such as the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary!
Living in south central Florida was literally central to everything. We became regulars at the Orlando Airport after I retired. Before that, we used the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Oh, talking about planes, trains and automobiles, I had to blog about one of those crazy airport trips.
But where my heart became so attached was when I became involved in the community. First, it started with our church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, PCA. We became involved in 4M, Monthly Morning Mercies Ministry. We quickly appreciated the legacy of the founder of Sebring. He wanted to find a low cost of living place where pastors and missionaries could retire. There are a number of Missionary Retirement Villages in the county. And our church was blessed to have at least 25 of them from Serving In Missions (SIM) attend our church. One of our favorite places for 4M was to do things for these saints in there homes and around their yards. Oh, and we also learned, missionaries never retire! They continue to serve Him, our Lord and Heavenly Father! What a rich experience it was coming along side these saints.
But after this work-a-holic was retired for a year and a half, the volunteer work and helping Bill with our rentals was not rewarding enough. So I took our Sheriff up on her offer to come work for her after I retired. It was a match made in heaven as I began working part time as the Coordinator for Drug Free Highlands, a coalition for the stakeholders in the community to help keep teens off of drugs, which includes alcohol. I began to meet so many people and truly found the heart of this community. After four years, the funding ended for me to work for her, so I transitioned to some very part time work with the school district and became a volunteer with Youth for Christ (YFC). And then more volunteer opportunities came around.
Probably some of the most rewarding and significant work I did was help with the YFC Quarterly Prayer Vigils and Blessings of the Businesses with the Mayor of Sebring. More on that below.
City on the Circle. Here is a slide show that highlights downtown Sebring, known as the City on the Circle. Let’s drive there and then take a walk around it. I have so many great memories of fun events we’ve participated in downtown. And of course, love the Circle Theatre, stores and restaurants:
Let’s now take a drive out of the city and go to Veterans Beach. When we first moved to Sebring, the water in Lake Jackson was very high, but there was a beach. Then there was a huge drought and the lake waters were dangerously low. As a member of the YFC Prayer Vigil team, at a County Commissioner meeting, we requested the support of the County Commissioners for one of our quarterly prayer vigils. Coincidently, if you believe in such things, there was a presentation that evening about how hopeless it was to “fix” the low water levels in Lake Jackson. We presented soon after that presentation and said we had the solution! And it wouldn’t cost the small fortune predicted. PRAYER! Ok, so we got a few smirks and polite nods from them. So guess what? There is hardly a beach left because the water is now so high! Thank you LORD!
Let’s continue our tour as we leave downtown and head around Lake Jackson to Veterans Beach:
The People. There are so many people who made Sebring super special to me. One was such a privilege to work with on a variety of events for the betterment of the community, the former Mayor of Sebring, George Hensley. We met when I was the coordinator for “Drug Free Highlands” through the Sheriff’s Office. We held Town Hall meetings in each municipality, which enabled me to work with each Mayor. The Mayor of Sebring and I really clicked and he invited me to work on another project, Blessings of the Businesses, and then we became partners in several more. I came to love and respect him and his most amazing wife, Nancy. Here is a great article about them both: Mayor George Hensley and his lovely wife.
And one other dear friend is Kevin Roberts. He is a mover and shaker for the children of the county. Again, I met him while the coordinator of “Drug Free Highlands.” He has so many dreams for the county and Sebring. One was to restore the historic Circle Theatre. And he made it come through against all odds. He wasn’t just satisfied with the one dream project, he wanted the ugly vacant lot next to it. And wow, I lost track, but what a great surprise to walk downtown last week and see another dream of his come true, the Garden of Joy! Here are a few recent highlights about Kevin being honored:
The chamber’s 2015 Individual of the Year award went to Kevin Roberts, executive director of The Champion for Children Foundation.
“This man has a heart as big as the downtown Sebring Circle,” Elwell said of Roberts, adding that the Individual of the Year award was the highest honor the chamber can award any one person for a lifetime of excellence.” From Highlands Today.
“…the 2015 George Hensley Citizen of the Year Award went to Kevin Roberts for several decades of helping thousands of people through the Children’s Services Council, the Champions for Children Foundation, the Children’s Advocacy Center, the Highlands County Domestic Violence Shelter and Lindsay’s Wish, and his work with the Garden of Joy, the Kids Tag Art annual fundraiser and the annual Judge Clifton M. Kelly Champions for Children Awards Gala.
“It’s incredibly touching — incredibly touching — that the chamber would choose to honor me,” Roberts said. “It’s because of so many people who surround me and guided me.”
Roberts said he almost didn’t attend the banquet. He was at the “Own the Stage” youth talent competition finals at Champions for Children Circle Theatre that night when his son-in-law, county tax collector Eric Zwayer, called and persuaded him to come.
“The Champions for Children would not be a success without the private sector being involved,” Roberts told the 255 business leaders and professionals gathered for the banquet. From the News Sun.
And that is as brief as I can be to share a little about the heart of Sebring and how special it was for me to live, work and volunteer here. And now I am so happy to be able to call it my home town!
But you may be asking, “how could you move away?” Lots of people asked that of us. All we can say is that our priorities changed when we had our first grandchild….
Next up will be more fun things to do while in Central Florida.
We moved to Highlands County, Florida in November 2004. It’s located 80 miles south of Orlando and is located dead center in the state.
Our gently rolling hills, orange groves and charming small towns make this a relaxing country getaway…
We first learned about this precious county in 1989, after Bill’s Aunt Posey and her husband, Norm, bought a “snow bird” home here. They became full time residents in the fall of 1995. All we heard about was the beautiful lake (Lake Jackson), great weather, friendly people and a low cost of living.
In February, 1996, Bill’s dad passed away. Posey and Norm invited his mom to come visit them for a month, so she did. Soon after, Bill got a phone call, “Bill, what would you think if I moved to Highlands County? Would you come visit me?” Bill’s dream before our marriage was to move back to Florida. He not only said “YES” he said he would help move her there. So within months, her home was sold in Pennsylvania and Bill drove her and her household belongings down here. I flew down here with our then 14 year old daughter to help her get settled in.
The area seemed pleasant enough, but we thought all the houses were trailers/mobile/manufactured homes. And, Jessica couldn’t believe EVERYONE in church had white hair. It was not love at first sight for us and our daughter was not really enthralled with Florida. But things got better for her when one of her childhood friends moved to Clearwater, Florida. Whenever we came to visit his mom, we arranged time for them to get together. We had a great relationship with her parents – he was the Pastor who performed our re-marriage ceremony.
As we began to visit here regularly, once or twice a year, we begin to find beautiful neighborhoods and our love affair began. Eventually, Jessica’s friend and family moved back up north. She then began to dread the visits other than special time with her grandma. We tried to do something fun with her each time she came. Bill’s dream to once again live in Florida became very strong and to make a long story short, we finally decided to move to Florida in November 2004. Actually, I was able to get a job transfer to Miami, but the real estate market wasn’t very good. Sadly, by now, Jessica had a good job and was in love….needless to say, she wouldn’t move with us. That was a very tough decision – to leave her but she was over 21 after all. We never knew how complicated it would make things eventually….
We ended up buying a home here in this county and I began a year long commute to and from Miami. Then I would retire and start my dream of being an early retiree. We had always wanted to become involved in our community, outside of church. We began to become more involved in the community. It was a great fit.
So now a little bit about Highlands County and from the Convention and Visitors Bureau website:
The Heart of Florida… Highlands County. Here in the center of the Sunshine State, you’ll find crystal clear lakes for fishing, boating, skiing and sailing, and more than a dozen golf courses. Our gently rolling hills, orange groves and charming small towns make this a relaxing country getaway – and our central location provides easy access to Florida’s best attractions without the hustle and high prices of the major tourist areas. It’s the best of both worlds – within two hours of most major attractions yet removed enough for that get-away-from-it-all feeling. Come discover Highlands County for yourself!
We took advantage of the central location to visit nearly every part of the state on our motorcycle. Our favorite trip was to Key West. Hopefully, I will write a post about it, but that was before we began blogging.
But a little more about the county. It is a rural county, population roughly around 100,000, so it doesn’t have all the shopping “shoppers” may enjoy. We are not shoppers – that never bothered us. When we first started visiting here, US Highway 27, a major north/south road (for truckers especially because it is free as opposed to the turnpike), was just a four lane highway with two or three stop lights. Now it has doubled in size and there are more stoplights than I can count.
The “gem” of the county is Highlands Hammock State Park. We had friends from Miami who camped there every January for years. We then got to see it from a campers standpoint. They loved it. We weren’t into camping then, but it sure seemed ideal. Our church had it’s annual picnic there for a few years and we really enjoyed it. We found out they have a trolley ride with a State Park Ranger as the tour guide. We’ve found the best tour guides are Rangers! Here is from the above website:
Home to a park system that wows with outdoor wonders, Highlands County naturally allures visitors. Otters, alligators and deer take shelter in our hardwood forests, pine flatwoods and cypress swamps, giving visitors a glimpse of wildlife along our nature trails. Boat ramps, fishing piers and swim centers provide easy access to our waterways from public parks. You’ll also find playgrounds, cycling paths and plenty of room for picnics within Highlands County parks.
Located in Central Florida, Highlands County occupies the southern end of the Lake Wales Ridge, a 100-mile-long range of sand hills, scrub and freshwater lakes.
Once a group of prehistoric islands, the County is home to dozens of rare species of plants and animals. (To learn more, visit www.archbold-station.org)
Wildlife, including alligators, deer and wild hogs, can be observed in different parts of the County.
Birds, including scrub jays, swallow-tailed kites, bald eagles, osprey and sandhill cranes, all in their native habitat, can be seen and heard.
The county has extensive bikeways, including several routes through the very beautiful and popular Highlands Hammock State Park, as well as routes from 10 to 100 miles long on other scenic roads.
There are hiking, canoe and equestrian trails in the State Park and on the grounds of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Archbold Biological Station, the Avon Park Air Force Range and the Royce Preserve – all large conservation management areas covering thousands of acres. (For more information: www.avonparkafr.com)
The County’s Blueways, Greenways, Trails and Bikeways Comprehensive Master Plan, completed in 2002, calls for expanding and connecting these trails, thus making all of them more accessible to County residents and tourists.
As I read this, I wonder why did we have to leave the county? Aside from the motorcycle, we could have just enjoyed all this county has to offer!
This county has three distinct municipalities. The county seat is Sebring and that was where our residence was from a post office viewpoint. We really lived in the county. To the north is Avon Park and that is where our motor home is currently parked. To the south is Lake Placid. I was so privileged to form relationships in each of the municipalities so I could always say I was a resident of the county….not Sebring. There is a High School in each one and that has created real sports loyalty to each “part” of town. It was always safe to say I just lived in the county.
I only remained “retired” for 1 1/2 years. I had met the Sheriff before I retired. She was a guest speaker in Miami. I couldn’t believe I could met “my” sheriff in Miami, so after her talk, I introduced myself. She said after I retired, if I ever wanted a job to come see her. So I did and I worked on a community project for four years. Needless to say, I was in each part of town on a regular basis so now you may better understand why I was just a county resident!
We really grew to love Sebring as that was our orientation. Everything was five minutes away and there was never rush hour (except when all the snow birds double the population from January to March). But we also bonded and felt the special “love” in Sebring. I will dedicate a future post to my official “hometown”.
A little about Avon Park:
Whether you enjoy fishing, boating or other water sports; golfing at one of the area courses; hiking, biking, or just relaxing; you are sure to find just what you’re looking for here in Avon Park our “City of Charm.” From its mile long mall highlighting the downtown, to the business and activity along US 27, Avon Park people always take the time to welcome visitors and to lend a helping hand. Ours is a growing city … one that grows on you!
Avon Park is really a low profile community (from my standpoint). It proudly houses South Florida State College. It’s highlights are to visit the Avon Park Depot Museum, 3 North Musuem Avenue 863-453-3525; The Museum of Florida Art and Culture at SFSC Website: mofac.org; and SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts Website: performances.southflorida.edu.
Lake Placid on the other hand, has made a national name for itself as “America’s Most Interesting Town” in 2013. You can watch the video here that explains how this happened! This is a must see stop if you are in our county. We never really appreciated it until Bill’s brother and wife came for a visit. We had a blast taking Bill’s mom around to the larger than life murals. But to really appreciate them, one must start by visiting the Chamber of Commerce (info below). But it has bankers hours more or less, Monday – Friday, 9-4, except they are extended from January to March. Here is the list of “must sees” in this quaint small town:
Henscratch Farms and Winery
The Murals of Lake Placid
Toby’s Clown School Museum and Gift Shop
Caladium Arts & Crafts Co-op
Lake Placid Historical Society Depot Museum, Inc.
Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce
18 N. Oak Avenue
Lake Placid, Florida 33852
Phone: (863) 465-4331
Coming up next, our official hometown, Sebring, Florida!
Once, after proofreading one of our posts, Bill commented, “This is really good!” ONCE. Then I began to take Blogging 101 courses to improve my blogging. I’m now proof you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
Our last post reflected our mood, so to speak. We were still reeling from our blowout, the weather was either dreary, raining or cold. And every day was “work” except for the day we took off to attend the Florida RV Super Show. And that was a real treat! And perhaps when things began to look sunnier!
I am enjoying time with my sister. Especially when we get to walk together. But we are so glad we have each other to help mom clean out her house and prepare for a new adventure in life (a drastic lifestyle change).
Day one of week 2 started off with a tremendous rainstorm. And we had a 9 am appointment with our GEICO Insurance Adjustor. We were really nervous about them as an insurance agency for our motorhome. You never know how good it is until you need it and then you pray you never need it! All I can say is so far so good! From the initial phone call (Is everyone OK?) to our adjustor’s arrival….and departure.
Here is our disclosure, though. Our daughter works for GEICO as an insurance claims adjustor. And she’s good! No brag, just fact, based upon her performance appraisals, etc. Whenever we need to look at our insurance policies (we normally use USAA since we can), I always get quotes from GEICO and she gets a credit for it. Whether we insure or not. And the few times we have switched, we have saved a ton of money. And these have been for hard to insure things – like in Florida, rental properties are very hard to insure if you have seven properties in the same county! They say it increases their exposure….if you understand such things. And then our motorhome. Both times, we were most surprised and have been very pleased.
OK, this is getting boring but I do want to give GEICO some kudos! And if you’d like a quote just to compare your coverage, let me know so I can give you our daughter’s associate number so she can get credit for it.
Bill had two plans to fix our motorhome. The first plan was to do most of it himself. After all, his background and training meant he could do it. Back up plan was just to take it back to the factory at Red Bay, Alabama. We did love our time there after we first bought it. But the timing would be an issue in the middle of winter. Maybe we would have to wait until May?
For nearly a week, Bill tried to get the part in to repair our steps. That is really the biggest concern. After my glorious three mile walk around our campground, we decided to take some pictures of this issue.
Our adjuster gave us another option after Bill’s attempts to get the part needed failed. Oh the RV industry is not an easy one to deal with. I guess I should mention that Bill used to also be an insurance claims adjuster, was an auto body man and ran an auto body shop among a few of his past jobs. He KNOWS how to get parts. But not RV parts….
We learned there is a GEICO “preferred” repair shop not too far away! That spoke volumes to Bill. I went on over to mom’s to work while Bill went to check out the shop. He was so impressed and excited. First the bad news, they are swamped this month. Then the good news, they can fit us in on February 8, the day we hit the road from here. And it’s only about 45 minutes from mom’s home! So hopefully, I can still have time with her and my sister.
And more good news! They can sell us all the tires we now need, fix the steps AND do the body work. We will then have peace of mind as we really don’t know if our wheel is really safe. On our way back from the RV show, we clocked how far we drove on it after the blowout. At least 1/2 mile (.08 kilometers). We planned to take pictures of that drive, but it was dark when we returned home.
So below is a photo gallery of my three-mile walk around the park on Saturday.
Love the palms, the blue sky, and the pleasant environment, between an orange grove and a freshwater lake! These photos are not in the best order, took them as I walked from our site and back.
Week two continues….and we can’t wait to attend church in the morning!
We had planned on writing a fun and exciting blog about our safe and relatively uneventful trip from Virginia to Florida. Sort of like our blogging friend, Ingrid’s post. But, “oh my my my,” to quote our favorite detective, Lt. Joe Kenda!
It was just one of those journeys. We were fleeing the cold of Virginia, heading south to Florida to start our winter wanderings. Our destination was 858 miles (1380.82 kilometers), or a little over 13 hours if you drove the speed limit and made no stops (in a car, not a motor home 😁). We decided to stop overnight at two campgrounds on the way. While we needed to get to Florida to help my mom, we were also in a hurry to get to warmer weather.
But we will not travel foolishly and we always hope take little time enjoy the journey. First stop was Florence, South Carolina, which is a tad farther than we prefer at about 337 miles (542.349 km). The second stop was in St. Mary’s, Georgia, approximately 263 miles (423.257 km) and our final leg to Avon Park, Florida at just over 260 miles (418.429 km). As most full-time RVers will say, we prefer to only go 150-250 miles a day. Periodically, we make an exception. And every morning, we do have prayer time and ask for travel mercies on our journey (along with a few other requests)! So here is how the trip went:
Monday, January 4 We are starting 2016 with our RV odometer at 24,633 and our car at 38,837. (As an aside, we bought both in May 2015. Both are used. The RV reading was 21,958 and our car was 23,000. So in seven months, it’s easy to see we’ve about gone 2,675 miles in the RV and 15,837 in the car, which included a trip to Illinois and back to Sebring without the RV.)
Remembering we only bought the RV seven months ago, not driving it or tearing it down the six weeks we were in Virginia meant we were a bit rusty. Thankfully, on January 1, we had a “shake down” trip. We had to drive it to “The Tire Shop” at a Flying J Travel Center in Ruther Glen, VA. It was not too far away and we had to figure out why one tire was going flat. It was a valve stem issue. They also checked the air pressure on all tires, inflating them evenly at 110 pounds and confirmed all looked fine. In fact, every time we have it in for service, we ask for opinions on the tires since they were five years old. We also decided to get weighed on the CAT scales. We actually weighed less than the original owner, who only used it for recreation. These scales don’t weigh each axle, so that is something we hope to do in the future at one of the rally’s where it is offered.
This “dry” run to the tire store helped our confidence on starting the journey and tearing down camp. Now we just had to remember how to hook the car up. Note: it was very cold at 34 degrees as we were hooking it up. We realized we were leaving just in time as it had been a mild winter up until this week and was to get down to 16 that night. We just had weather in the low 70s.
Long story short, Bill was behind the RV waiting for me to pull the car up. I drove as close to him as he directed me – for the tow arms to reach the car. I was waiting for him to tell me to pull closer or back up a bit. It looked like it was ready for him to hook it up. So I jumped into the passenger seat to do something. But not realizing I was on a slight decline, I put the car in neutral (that’s how we get it ready to “flat tow.” Can you guess what happened next? The car began to roll into Bill! Poor guy thinks I am driving it into him (my my my)…and then he sees me jump out from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat to put the brakes on! Not a good start to our journey. Was this a sign of things to come?
We arrived at the Swamp Fox Campground in Florence, SC in about five hours and 40 minutes! Hardly any traffic, so an uneventful trip so far. The weather was much colder than we had hoped for, but we were ready. We now have a heater hose attached to our water hose in freezing weather and we took other precautions for a possible freeze. We didn’t unhook the car, which is a real time saver. We were both exhausted and it was just too muddy and cold out to take a walk. That is never good for me, Debbie. I need my daily walks!
Tuesday, January 5 The next morning, as we broke down camp, we started the car to warm up for at least 5 minutes as the directions say. And off we went. We are really praising God as we moved down the road as the traffic was minimal both days. And what a surprise, it was still so cold! And sadly, we had agreed to accept a 30 amp site as we didn’t think it would be so cold. That means we have to watch running too many things at the same time, like an electric heater, Keurig and toaster!
Since we stayed two nights, Bill unhooked the car at the office check-in area. And guess what, the car battery was dead! Not to name names, but the person who started the car said he had trouble turning it off. It’s a keyless start ignition….AND we always turn everything OFF whenever we stop it, radio, heater/ac, whatever. Once he got it charged up (which turned out to not be an easy task as there was no 110 power close by for his battery charger), the wipers and radio were both on! Strange…
So we begin setting up. We needed to run an electric heater as we began carefully preparing dinner. We then ate and took a walk! Soon after coming back inside, the circuit blew. We thought we misjudged the amperage. We began using more caution as we proceeded to move around inside. Then the circuit blew again. Bill went outside only to learn the entire camp was dark. There was a campground wide problem, but we all were told it would be fixed within the hour. Brrrr, it was so cold and we were grateful we could run our generator. And in an hour, all power was restored and off to sleep we went.
Wednesday, January 6 Our day off from traveling. Bill lived in Jacksonville, Florida before we were married. He loved Florida, after relocating from Pennsylvania for the warm weather. He has many fond memories there, so whenever we get the chance to stop there, we do. So our plan was to go have lunch at the Metro Diner, visited by Guy Fieri. Bill saw that show and knew he had to try it. We visited it soon after. We had to go back….well, he had to go back. We are not foodies but I am less than he is….and he is on the hunt for the world’s best hamburger. He didn’t try one the last time there, so this time, he did. His opinion? He said if only the bun had been grilled, otherwise, one of the best ever.
Sadly, the weather was not conducive for a walk on the beach at Little Talbot Island. We have walked on it when it was cold and when it was windy. We just weren’t in the mood to do it again on this day. So we searched for a place inland, with no success. We did know we could get a decent walk in around the campground, so we returned home and took a good walk. We just ran out of daylight! So this was a relatively mild day with a great meal out. And there was time to hook the car up, so it would be ready for the morning.
Thursday, January 7 The weather wasn’t bad, so we managed to start off without incident. We ran the car and were careful to warm it up, put it in neutral and turn it off properly. Traffic was not bad again. Since we had driven to Jacksonville the day before, we knew the better route to take to avoid construction. We hate traveling exclusively on interstates, but to make time, we had to on this journey south. We have traveled on I-4, around Orlando, many times. We knew we had to be on it in midday to avoid any type of “rush hour.” We did pretty well, but the road construction seemed extra annoying this time. The road was so torn up with “detours” around patch work. And going 60 mph while not getting blown off the highway by the big rig trucks who manage to go much faster!
They day was still very overcast but we were starting to feel warmer. We had worn our winter coats at the last rest stop. We made it off I-4 and onto US Highway 27/98 for the last leg of the journey. The sun actually started to burn off the clouds. We are actually “cruising,” just enjoying how smooth the actual driving was going. No real traffic issues! I’m on social media and posted this picture, saying how great the trip was going:
And then it happened: BANG! Bill hollers, “what happened?” Then, “I can hardly keep the RV on the road!” And I’m praying out loud, ‘Lord, help us!” My ears are ringing, it sounded like a shotgun went off right at my head. Oh my my my….
Bill was driving 60 mph on this north/south rural highway which is heavily traveled by tractor trailers. But they seem to come in groups. We were approaching an overpass and by now we realize a tire blew. I am so serious, we need divine intervention as Bill is hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life. There is nowhere to safely to pull off the road – if he could even pull off and the fear of stopping right over a blind spot is terrifying. But over the overpass we go and he’s still on the road. And miraculously, there is a turn lane!
Let us count the miracles this day: This happened on an open stretch of road. The traffic seemed to clear off the road for us. Bill kept the rig on the road. We didn’t fall off the overpass. We weren’t on I-4 or I-95 for that matter! A professional driver on his day off saw us and came to offer assistance. He checked our rig over and said we only needed a new tire. We should be good to go – at least to our destination which was about 20 miles away. The damage was minor. The weather was beautiful!
I had read Genesis chapters 22-24 on this morning. One story really stuck with me, about Abraham when the Lord told him he would have to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The Lord was really just testing him to see if he would obey him completely. When the Lord stopped him at the last minute and provided a ram, “Abraham bowed down and worshiped the Lord.” And this scenario was repeated. Every time the Lord answered his prayers, Abraham bowed down and worshiped the Lord. That was about all we could do….
For tips on how to handle a blowout, check out this site which has links to a few videos:
PS Our car looked fine after the incident. The next morning when we came out to get in it, the windshield was cracked!
Anyone else every live through a blowout? I actually had one in a van. That was an interesting story, but later….
I saw another blogger, Christina, share her report and liked the idea! What I plan to do is focus on my most active commenters and encouragers to thank them and give them a shout out! The rest of the report is below and it is a bit interesting.
Vibrant – I just wrote about Anand on my personal blog, so won’t repeat…just visit that blog to see how this amazing man from India and I connected!
placestheygo – Pam and John, two retired teachers living the full-time RV dream, traveling, hiking and enjoying life to the fullest!
Wandering Dawgs – This couple calls themselves life-long Bull Dog fans! They don’t travel in their RV full time, but they sure have a lifetime of great traveling they have done!
Ingrid – She and her husband are also full-time RVers, living the full-time RV dream! Ingrid also has a personal blog with cooking tips and healthy recipes and she is one amazing photographer. They enjoy hiking as much as we do, too!
littlenuggetbignugget – this sweet mom, Jasmin, captured me as she counted down to the birth of her second little nugget! She caught my attention as I watched my own daughter doing the same.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
What a blessing Clifford Duncan was to our family. He and my mom married in July 2003. Mom was beginning to lose her vision, but he gave her a new vision: Travel!
My mom and dad were married 54 years when he passed. Cliff and his first wife, Hazel, were married 49 years when she passed. So both knew the joys, tribulations and blessings a long marriage brings. Losing his wife was difficult. Talk about lonesome! He told me he prayed for a wife. And did I ever imagine my mom was praying for a husband? No, but in spite of living near family, she was lonely and with her loss of vision, her life was becoming more lonesome.
So that was the scenario when my middle sister and Cliff’s oldest daughter “fixed” them up after he had recently lost his wife to cancer. He and Hazel traveled extensively in an RV around the country, including to Alaska in a motor home! They started small and owned about every type they make. My parents owned a travel trailer, but they kept it in an RV resort. Mom always wanted to take it on the road, but my dad was a home body….so she finally got on the road with her new husband.
They dreamed of traveling cross-country together. While Cliff and Hazel traveled extensively, it was mom’s dream. Mom especially wanted to make it to California to see one grandson and his family. He and his wife had four children, but it had been years since she saw them. Did I mention their ages? Mom was a spring chicken at the age of 79 and Cliff was on the older end of 69! You really couldn’t tell they were 10 years apart in ages. Oh, if mom could see and read this, she’d be mad I’m telling her age (she’s now 92). So shhhhh…..
They began their journey, after selling his home, to be full-time travelers. And at the time, that was the last thing we ever dreamed of doing, ourselves (ha and look at us now). But we did admire them. My middle sister and her husband bought a Class A motor home and traveled with them for a while. And much of the time was spent in Florida so my husband and I would ride our motorcycle to visit them.
They weren’t on the road long when they began to think they needed “roots.” Cliff had heard about a place in Alabama, where you could own your land and have full hook ups for your motor home. I said, gently, at your ages, you may want to live near one of your six children! Mom had 3 and he had 3. Well, since we lived in Florida, I always say we won that lottery! They moved near us. And my middle sister bought a snow bird home there was well. And eventually, Cliff’s oldest daughter and her husband semi-retired and moved there as well. So we had lots of great family times and especially for the holidays.
We kids helped put on a beautiful and simple wedding. Then we entered the life of a blended family with six adult children.
I loved Cliff right away because one thing he told me early on was that he reads the Bible every morning and had since 1994. And then he began reading it to my mom every morning. He was a regular church attendee as well. Mom always wanted the continuity of church membership. Cliff became such a wonderful blessing to her, how could I not learn to love him like a dad? And at my age, that was not going to be easy, but we quickly bonded.
Cliff and mom became active in their new church. It had an outreach ministry to the community with a used clothing store. They worked in it faithfully until it closed. I can’t begin to say all they did, but they were very active until recently. They even began to bowl with a group of friends from Sunday school. Imagine my nearly blind mom bowling. Yep and she wasn’t too bad.
Their days of traveling in the motor home soon came to an end after mom suffered a serious fall in one of the parks. It was so sad to see them have to slow down, but at their age, it was worrisome to all of us kids to know they were on the road full-time. They really didn’t plan their trips, just started driving, and then used an RV membership to find a place to stay over.
Eventually, Bill became more vocal about wanting a motor home, so Cliff helped him want it even more. They could talk for hours about the dream. We fell into a rhythm, where we mainly were together for the holidays. They did take occasional trips and eventually, their favorite place was Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
We did little things for them around the house that were difficult for them. In particular, I helped maintain Cliff’s computer. He amazed me at how he liked to stay up with everyone via email. We even got him and mom on Facebook to better stay in touch with family. But mom really struggled with it due to her vision loss. Bill considered him a friend.
Cliff was a real patriot. I love seeing the American Flag hanging outside of homes. It seems the only people who fly the flag were in the military. And that was Cliff. He served a tour of duty in the Army.
What was there not to like? He and mom were very loyal to each other. But they never imagined Cliff would pass first. But he did have a number of health issues. He is survived by five siblings, with only two siblings older, and he was the first to pass. He was just so engaged in life, it was just hard to hear that he was terminally ill. He was diagnosed the end of March. He called each of us kids to let us know. We were in Talbot Island, Florida at the time, getting ready to head to Virginia, to be at our daughters April 1. What should we do? We didn’t think long about it. We turned our rig around and headed south and spent a week with them. It was tough. He was told he had two months to live, maybe six if he took treatments. He decided to fight it and survived over eight months.
We also managed to visit them over Mother’s Day, then spent a month with them in September. We all thought the end was near, but he seemed to improve and the hospice nurse finally said he could last six more months or even six years. So he had a second chance and he began to get out and walk as well as change his diet to help his body heal from the radiation and chemo. He began to gain weight and felt like eating out again.
Life was good…and then, a few weeks ago, he became miserable with pain. The hospice nurse came and had another nurse come to help him. They ended up sending him to the Emergency Room. He took a turn for the worse….and in about two weeks, he quietly passed from this world into the arms of Jesus. My oldest sister traveled there to help mom as my sister and I were unable to go help. But we were there in prayer. Mom stayed with him in the Good Shepard Hospice House for the 10 days he was there. My oldest sister traveled there to be with her as his local daughter had a prearranged travel obligation arranged with her sister. They were both with him over Thanksgiving. They thought they would see him when they returned. But no, he didn’t make it.
So now to reflect. Just like my dad when he was terminally ill, he never cursed God for the disease. And more important, like Job as told in the Bible. Both accepted their fate. And Cliff kept his faith to the end, saying he didn’t understand it, but he accepted it. He and mom tried their best to be prepared, but there is just no way to really prepare for the loss of a loved one.
We seek our solace in the Bible. We understand life is short. And our bodies are only temporarily here on this earth. We know we will be reunited for eternity.
LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Psalm 39:4
So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
I am sure this is but one of many, many tributes to the amazing life of Larry Hurst. But I know Larry would not take any credit for helping us in our reconciliation; he would first say it was the work of our Lord and then he would give all the credit to his wonderful wife! And all that is true, but I saw a side of Larry that many may not have seen.
He bragged about being ornery and I used to tell him he was not – at least I never saw that side of him. So what a surprise to read that attribute made it into his obituary!
The first time I heard of the Hurst family was when I was under transfer from Mobile, Alabama to the Philadelphia office of the FBI. I was a newly divorced mom of one daughter, almost 7 years old. The FBI office sent me a welcome kit to help me as I began my house hunting trip, via long distance. The kit had a package about the various counties and suburbs of Philadelphia, with a contact (usually the spouse) name and phone number to call for information about the area. There were at least 20 names on the list. I didn’t have a clue about Philadelphia nor the suburbs, so I just started at the top and called each number – no answer time and time again, until the last name on the list, Cheryl Hurst, wife of SA Larry Hurst, Camden, New Jersey. That really was the last place I was interested in, but this sweet (and I do mean sweet) woman answered the phone and was most happy to brag about her neighborhood (and her husband, and her church, and her children!).
Well, do I need to say more? Of course, I fell in love with this woman and couldn’t wait to meet her husband; I knew he would be a co-worker due to his assignment. So I chose the realtor she recommended (from her church) and there I was, looking to live near the Hurst family and maybe even attend their church! That was one of my priorities! I knew I needed to get into a good fellowship! You see, the main reason I divorced my husband was because our daughter had never been in church and it didn’t look like that was going to change. I had accepted the Lord at a young age and I knew I wanted her to do the same. I thought I had married a Christian man and that would be a priority in our lives. But alas, my husband was frustrated with organized religion and we just slipped away from other believers, a church family and finally from the Lord – thus the divorce!
So I finally walked into my new office after the move and looked up Larry. Wow, he makes such a great first impression! He wanted to learn all about me and he did mention something about being ornery! He was one of the most important people I surmised because he told me about all the work he had done to computerize the office. I had taken to computers, which were relatively new – so this was way back in the olden days! : ) He and I now had a common interest at work as well as I needed his advice as I learned to maneuver around Philadelphia and new cases.
One of the first things he did was invite me to church and then to their summer cottage prayer group. Well, maybe he came on a bit strong as I decided I best get to work and worry about socializing later! I don’t recall how long it was, but he had me in their Wednesday night prayer meeting…and unbeknownst to me, he had already told them ALL about me and they had been to praying our marriage would be reconciled! See, God had already begin to show me that way, I Corinthians 7:10-11:
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
To make a long story short, to me, Larry was not ornery, he was persistent! He was being used by the Lord to exhort me to good works and to reconcile with my husband. Ultimately, it was his wife who helped make a breakthrough. How many of you, his friends, have had a meal in their home? Perhaps in recent years, they slowed down, but when we lived near them, they were known to have someone over for dinner every Sunday after church! How Cheryl did that every week, I don’t know, but it was so amazing to be in their home and be “served!” Within a short period of time, it was with great pleasure I announced to our Cottage Prayer meeting that I was engaged – to my former husband! So being new to the area, the group began to help me plan the wedding and reception.
And the icing on the cake? What to do with our daughter while we went on our first real honeymoon? No problem! Jessica stayed with them and they had one big sleep over for her and no telling with other fun that I never learned about!
Larry and his wife became our role models! We loved that first meal in their home and then began to open our home as we saw they did! Larry loved the Bible and taught me to also read it regularly, and he showed us the value of being a part of an organized church fellowship. He also helped me at work, pointing me to the right resources and to always be a man of integrity!
Bill and I have now been married a total of nearly 38 years, with a year break in service! We have moved twice since Philadelphia and each time, we immediately found a church fellowship to become involved in. We never forget the kindness and love that ornery Larry showered on our family!
It is with great pleasure I have been able to see what wonderful adults and parents his two children have become – even–if we have lived hundreds of miles apart, thanks to Facebook! I have enjoyed watching their families grow and I know Larry looks forward to ALL of his family, children, grandchildren and all, to one day join him as we pass from this temporary world and into eternal life with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!