In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Scale.”
Photo taken September 24, 2014 outside of Lenoir, NC.
We love the outdoors, so most of my pictures are either from our fun outside adventures, or of our grandson. He’s not only so special because he is our first, but because his birth helped us do what we really wanted to do, travel full time!
So in his honor, here is my “scale” of him at one day old, taken by his mother who is in awe!
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
As we write this (January 23, 2015), we have now spent 347 nights in our RV, changed our location 44 times, have stayed in 29 different RV Resorts, and towed our rig around 12,000 miles! So far, we have only been traveling around Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. We became official full-timers on July 16, 2014 after we sold our home. We have been asked what is it really like living in an RV full-time. First of all, we must love it as we sold our home after nearly a year of extended stay RVing (we’d stay in some places for a month or two). But most important, we are now about to start on a 10 year plan, hoping to do this at least 10 more years. We’re discovering with this type of commitment, a Class A Motorhome is in our near future for multiple reasons.
We digress, let’s look at our perfect travel day in our world of adventure. We keep a handwritten journal about each stay with enough notes to remind us of the adventure. So just a page from our journal on one of our nearly perfect travel adventures: ]
On May 3, 2014 we woke up about 6 am, excited about our next adventure, to travel from Front Royal, Virginia to Staunton/Walnut Hills KOA, Staunton, Virginia. (Click here for our official review of this park.) We ate our normal breakfast, fresh fruit, grains and protein. Then we packed up and secured the inside of the RV for the trip. Debbie generally does all the inside work while Bill goes outside and does the harder things such as cleaning out the black and gray tanks! We’ll spare you all the details, but Debbie has the better end of the deal! But it is all team work, working closely together to make sure every thing is secured.
The weather was perfect so no glitches and within an hour, we are locked and loaded up! We make an easy lunch to carry, simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chips and water. We love only traveling 200-250 miles a day, but for this, it was only about 90 miles. But we drove on the Scenic Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park (cost is $10 but the pass is for a week or so. Next time, we will be eligible to pay the same price but the pass will be for a life time. A benefit of being over 62). This is a 35 mile per hour road with fabulous scenery and many winding turns. What could have been a quick trip, under two hours, we took our time, driving for over four hours. It was simply amazing as you can see in just a few of our pictures:
We originally had planned to stay on Skyline and then onto the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. But we were going to meet friends to camp near Asheville, NC on May 9. We could have taken a week to make the trip whereas we needed to make better time!
Our arrival at our destination was about as good as they get! We were greeted with enthusiastic KOA Staff. They did everything to make us feel welcome and refreshed us by saying we had a prime spot (for no extra charge). This is the beauty of traveling “off season” and during the week! We have a nice big window that rarely has a great view and they made sure we had that view of the lake!
We each have designated jobs, again Debbie setting up inside and Bill outside. Again, as a team, all jobs were done with Debbie preparing dinner. For those who know us, know Bill is really the cook of the family. But he likes to cook once and eat twice, so Debbie only had to make fresh salads and heat up leftovers!
After dinner, we were ready to take a nice long walk around the park. Debbie was so excited about the trip, she stayed inside and downloaded pictures and journaled while Bill visited with our very interesting neighbors.
We always start our day with prayer and at the end of the day, give thanks to our Lord for another safe travel day! We went to bed around 9 pm, ready for a good night sleep so we could hit the mountains for lots of great hiking!
HOW OUR RV TRAVEL ADVENTURE STARTED: In August 2013, we turned a new chapter in our lives as we both began to turn 60 (Bill first). Two things happened: Our first grandchild was born, and, we came out from under “work” obligations (we owned rental properties but Bill officially stopped working in the “real” world in Nov. 2004 when I was transferred to Miami and I retired in February 2006. And then I worked part time for our local sheriff and school board for five years).
We are so blessed that these two things happened at the same time and in fact, have to give Glory to God as it all was really a miracle! So we now had a dilemma, our grand baby boy is over 800 miles from our home. Bill is now ready to enjoy the retirement we planned for many years ago and be able to enjoy our grand baby. AND we want to travel. So we bought a 5th Wheel and now take our home with us wherever we go, which includes frequent visits with him!
We are now both in our sixties (just barely) and we see a need for Adventure Travel columns or blogs to help us along. We actually subscribe to a few and decided we would add our own flavor. Maybe we can inspire someone else. We welcome comments, questions and individual contact.
This is our 5th campground since we bought our RV on September 4, 2013. At the conclusion, we decided these were the best 40 days of our life! We arrived a few days before Jessica went back to work after maternity leave and before Colin’s 3rd month of life. We were only six miles from them, so it was convenient.
We got a 30 day discounted price, but we ended up staying a bit longer as well. We decided it was worth the extra price as this is a very nice campground. We could walk about two miles every night, if we didn’t mind a circle or two! Here is a picture of Jessica walking with her dad and pushing Colin when we first arrived!
We also began hiking with Jessica and Colin on Saturdays. We had several birthdays to celebrate, so we meet my sister, her husband, her son and grandson two times, once in Richmond and once in Williamsburg. It is great being close to them. The picture to the right is a picture of my sister and her grandson, our daughter and me (Debbie) during our visit to Richmond. And to the left is Bill, grandpa, holding our precious Colin! We think he likes us because he smiles at us all the time! : – )
I like to end with a spiritual note of some sort. So as we think about 40 days (or nights) I think of the spiritual significance of this number in the Bible! We know Jesus was tempted in the desert for the same length of time! I’m sure during that time, it felt like forever – but then the Lord knows what forever is, so it was maybe like seconds for him! For us, this time also flew by but at the same time, we savored every minute!
We lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia from 1996 – 2004, but never visited this quaint town before now. In fact, we didn’t start really enjoying the Shenandoah Valley or the Appalachian Mountains until our last year there. We discovered hiking in July 2003 and loved it – but we moved to Florida in November 2004.
So now was our chance to go back and enjoy some great memories and hike! And we planned to drive the entire Skyline Drive, which we mistakenly thought was also the Blue Ridge Parkway, which near the Virginia/ North Carolina state line. Our ultimate destination for this trip was to meet friends at Campfire Resorts in Asheville, NC.
The North Fork RV Resort, part of Passport America’s discount program, so the price was great and the location perfect for what we wanted to do. BUT we were pretty shocked at the resort and the front office staff when you either call to make your reservation or when you arrive. They were not friendly or welcoming. We now see how important this first impression is and how it sets the tone for your stay. But first a few positive statements: the price was perfect and the location was great – oh, I already said that….OK for the cons: This is an owner operated resort so we don’t think they really like “visitors.” We were clumped in one area and there was not much room for parking our truck. Fortunately, it was off season so we had room, but for some reason, our second night there, we had a neighbor right next door and then we saw how there really was not much room! Funny, there were so many empty spots, why put someone right next to us? And RULES and SIGNS every where telling you what you could and couldn’t do. I should have taken a picture of a few of them….It was more annoying than any thing and we vowed to not stay here again….
Here is a slide-show of our drive there and then at the RV resort:
We had a GREAT time as the below slide show reflects. We were close to the entrance to the National Park which was ideal. We paid $10 for unlimited entrance to the park for 7 days. It is our plan to drive the Skyline Drive to North Carolina, so we would have had to pay the fee then anyway.
So here are pictures of our first afternoon – the benefit of a short drive to a location! We had all afternoon to hike! We hiked what is called “Fox Hollow” and Snead Farm, for a total of 5.5 miles! We saw lots of deer and learned more about the history of how the National Park “took” over the homes of about 450 mountain resident families. What we visited at the remains of a barn and root cellar. Learn more here.
The next day, we decided to visit the Shenandoah Caverns in the morning and hike in the afternoon. We loved the Luray Caverns, so why not? We read the reviews and they said not as nice, but we figured how bad could they be? Maybe a bit pricey and not as cold! We did enjoy them, but Luray Caverns were definitely bigger! I log how long our hikes are, so even monitored it in the Caverns, which was a total of 1.8 miles! Then we hiked to the Fort Windham Rocks for another 2.4 miles.
Loving being in the mountains!
Psalm 125:2 “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.”
We recently traveled to the Colorado Rocky Mountains for a vacation (September 2012). We spent one day in Aspen, having timed our trip to capture the shimmering gold Aspens during the peak fall season. Little did we ever expect we would stumble on the most photographed peaks in Colorado!
We used TripAdvisor to help us select places to hike and to see. We were warned that while this is the most beautiful sight to see, it is very popular and to expect crowds! Well, not on the day we went! While there were a number of people taking similar photographs, we felt we were nearly alone once we began our hike up the Maroon Scenic Trail Hike. This spot is the trailhead to at least two different hikes. So after taking several pictures we started off to the left for our easy hike. There was a much more strenuous hike to the right, but we knew as we were still adjusting to the altitude, it was to the right for us!
One the hike, we were so pleased to enjoy the solitude! For the most part, we were nearly alone on the hike. That is our preference as I am sure it is with other hikers….
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
We are most sensitive to His calling in our marriage, so we are not only sharing our struggles and victories in our marriage with this blog, but we are honestly trying to be a better husband and wife to each other!
So as the peaceful setting is disrupted, almost out of a television sitcom, we hear a woman saying, “I thought you knew which way to go! This is not right! Where are we? I knew I should have taken the lead! I HAVE been here before. This is ridiculous!” Or something to this effect! Here we are in this most tranquil setting and this woman is chewing her poor husband out! We ended up stopping to chat with them for a few minutes and learned they were looking for Crater Lake Trail. We had looked at it and at this late in the day, 3:00 pm, to try to tackle that hike would not be wise. It is considerably higher, much more strenuous (although this hike was nearly a walk in the park) and the weather could turn severe without warning! The woman informed us she was an experienced hiker, hiking many 14ers (mountains over 14,000 elevation)! Her husband did not look as fit as us, remember, we live in Florida at sea level and the most we hike is over a sand dune! But she insisted they needed to find it! Bill remembered the sign and they went off on their merry way, well, the dog seemed merry anyway!
It was so disturbing to witness her berating her husband, we vowed to say the word “Aspen” IF and whenever one of us steps out of line! “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (or spouse to be politically correct) Proverbs 25:24. But honestly, Bill has never been the quarrelsome one and we think the Bible knows it well, it seems the wife is usually the one to do the nagging! So on our way back to hour hotel, fully grasping the beauty of the day, we vowed to never need to say to one another, “Aspen!” May we continue to live in the peace that passes understanding!
Seeing successful marriages is our passion. Our hearts break every time we hear about another marriage about to break up. If only we could put all of our lessons learned and our recipe for success in a pill. We are very open about our marriage and the fact that we divorced after 13 years of marriage, only to be reconciled miraculously, and remarried one year after our initial separation (and now married 37 years). Our purpose in this blog is to help encourage couples and to enhance marriages. We are so grateful we were able to reconcile and thank God every day as we go through life’s challenges together.
Every couple’s relationship is unique and ours is no exception. I love working with people (I am the social one), from babies to the elderly. But if we had an expertise, it is in marriages because we not only have succeeded in our marriage we have also failed. We learned from our mistakes and came up with a recipe for success (see Chapter 7 – RX for the BEST marriage) which we try and share frequently and often. It is our blueprint for the success we now enjoy in our marriage.
Nearly every young girl dreams of one day being married. I remember conversations as a teenager about my future husband, about how many children I wanted, what kind of wedding I would have, how many bridesmaids. Bill, on the other hand, said he and his friends never talked about these things! But yet, he is the one who says he loves being married and the reason is to be with his wife. We love being together as much as possible! We had much in common when we first came together and we have had to work at keeping things in common. It takes a yielding and a desire for oneness.
We had talked about having our own business before we were married so we could be together all the time. But that was a fantasy….until I retired at the age of 52. We finally had the opportunity to work together. It lasted 1 1/2 years! I loved physical labor, so I tried to hang with him while we began to invest in real estate. As it turned out, I sort of got in his way and it was easier for him to work alone. I was his gofer, but that became too unrewarding and I soon went back to work part-time. So we are apart anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a day. We also rarely travel alone. He says, “why be married” if we are going to travel apart. During my career, we were apart a lot and that was hard on us.
I say all that to say, we go through phases of life. Before you are married, you want to be together all the time. After you are married, you get into a routine. Unless you are in business together, you go your separate ways during the day. And then the strength of your marriage depends on how you spend your time together after work and on weekends. And then we all live for the freedom of retirement, right? And that is when you once again can be together all the time, like before you were married. How many of us think about how that will work? We planned for that day and just assumed we would enjoy our time together. It is then, if not sooner, you find out the strength of your marriage. Do you still have anything in common? We knew this would be important and we worked hard at keeping our commonalities strong. We know because when we divorced, we had grown apart! So we try and do everything possible together!
So why be married? Here is our list: It starts off with our prescription for a GREAT marriage, the BEST principle – to be a Blessing, to Edify each other, to Share life with and to have that warm Touch. God tells us in His Word, in Genesis 2:18:
Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
We know and understand each other’s aches and pains. We have each other’s back! But as Bill likes to explain, it is the intimacy of marriage that is the most important component to keep us living “happily ever after.” He explains what makes our relationship so special is that we have things that we only do with each and this is the glue that keeps us growing together.
We had no idea what we were in for when we made our reservations at Beaver Creek, Colorado. We are bargain shoppers, believing we should be good stewards with what God has given us. “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Luke 16:15. I know by many standards, we are wealthy, but we only have any wealth because we began to live by God’s standards in our 14th year together. We have both always worked, Bill doing “side jobs” for most of his life to supplement our income. We should have been “rolling in dough” but in fact, we lived pay check to pay check until after our remarriage. We just didn’t understand the theory of reciprocity: The more you give the more you receive! What really solidified it for us was Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.” We did not want to be borrowers and slaves! And finally, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)
We just heard a great teaching by Pastor Andy Stanley. To simplify it, he showed how he has taught his children to divide any financial gifts into thirds, putting the money in jars: 1/3 to give, 1/3 to save and 1/3 to spend. He was surprised to see how his children’s spending jar stabilized as their giving and saving grew! And that has been how it is with us. The more we give, the more we save, the more we have!
All this to say, we bargained shopped for this vacation! Bill has subscribed to TravelZoo.com, where we find many bargains! We had two free tickets to fly on Jet Blue (that is another story) and I have been wanting to go to Colorado. Bill saw a bargain at Beaver Creek. I asked some relatives about Beaver Creek and none had been there, but heard it was nice…so that was all we needed. Upon arrival, we found out that is a very elite ski resort! We can’t imagine what it would be like during the ski season, since we don’t like the cold (or snow), the off-season was perfect for us!
Reminiscing, if we had to pick a year to be the best year of our lives, where we consistently were blessed with goodness, it would be 2003 – 2004. What made it so special was that we decided to start hiking. We were only about an hour away from the Shenandoah National Park where the Appalachian Trail meanders through hills and valleys! We were both on great shape and life was sweet! Soon after, we moved to Florida and our hiking stopped. We wanted to recapture that with our vacation and we did!
Sunday, September 11, 2011: We arrived at our resort around 2:00 pm. The ride there took our breath away, but upon arrival, we continued to be in awe of the majesty of God’s creation! The sky is so blue in Colorado, unlike our blue Florida sky’s, a deeper blue! Check in is at 4, but our room was ready! We couldn’t wait to unload our car, change clothes and go for a walk. We needed to acclimate to the mile high or so elevation above sea level. So a nice stroll around Beaver Creek was in order, plus drinking lots of water!
The mountains took me back to wonderful childhood memories of living in Colorado Springs from about age 3 to 9. Bill loved the mountains we had in Virginia, but they were nothing to what we were experiencing here. We couldn’t wait to go hiking! But first, we had to get acclimated. So we strolled downtown and found Beaver Creek, the creek runs right through the town! It was so refreshing!
Once at the top of the tram, we had time for lunch before the cave tour. This was the view we had. I wish I had a 3D camera!
So my favorite picture inside, as you can imagine, was of an illuminated cross! My picture was not the best, but it was so cool to hear the cave guide point it out to us! Ah, as Louie Giglio shows us, our God is Indescribable and He is everywhere, from the end of the universe, the Hubble Cross, to Laminin, the rebar of the human body! Bill was given a job as we went from room to room, to close the door as we all entered the different rooms! There were about 15 of us, including one young child. He did amazingly well! A highlight was when the tour guide had us turn off all of our own lights/cell phones and then she turned out the interior lighting. It was pitch black. I thought the child would cry, but his dad had him prepared! Here is a picture of us as we exited one part of the caves onto the side of the mountain!
Also on the side of the mountain is a ride, a huge swing that goes 55 mph! No thanks, we passed and were just happy to stand on the ledge!
Next was to go to the hot springs lodge and enjoy the huge swimming pool from the natural springs! What a joy to relive a childhood memory!
I didn’t remember the swimming lanes. But I certainly used them on this day! The water temperature is always 105. That works best when it is cool or even cold outside. In fact, I remember being here with snow on the ground! It was about 85 degrees but the air was still cool, a bit of a breeze. So as I finish out, speaking of breezes, two neighbors came over for coffee and tea yesterday. We sat out on our lanai (or patio for northerners) and enjoyed a nice breeze rustling in the trees. Eileen said it reminded her of a scripture, Psalm 96:12: “…let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
We have lived a charmed and blessed life. But we have not taken enough vacations, so this is one of our best as we start to enjoy retirement! Our past has given us much time and perspective to look back on our lives as well as to look forward to how we can make the most of what time we have left on this earth. But I am reminded of Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” So first, a bit about our marriage as we try to fit vacations into our work-a-holic lifestyles.
As we began our trip, Bill read about a man who was conflicted on attending the funeral of his ex-mother-in-law. The man wanted to attend and thought it was the right thing to do even though there were many obstacles. His new fiance, who is asking for the advice, asked if flowers and a card would be enough. The response was that if the man thinks he should show up, as the newly beloved, she should make it as easy as she can for him to do what he thinks is the right thing. Bill liked the answer which included, “help him achieve what he values rather than telling him what to value.”
If you love your spouse, you will help them do what they feel is right and then you will support them in their decisions even if you disagree. And our postscript – if it turns out to be a bad decision, love them, please don’t say, “I knew it was the wrong decision.” This is part of our BEST Principal (see Chapter 7 – RX for the BEST marriage). But even better is to pray as a couple about what is right and what WE should do! We do like to do things as a couple, what is best for our relationship, for our health, our safety?
This is where we are in our lives. It has been a journey trying to figure out how to live happily ever after, let alone in these tough economic times! How do we fully support each other in our hopes and dreams? We started out young, dumb, naive but in love! But we had so many problems early on (wanting our own way or neglecting to ask each other our opinion) so it was hard to support each other. Sadly, like so many, we did not really know or understand what love is. (see Chapter 5, “Just what is love anyway?”) We have now figured it out and are doing all we can to support each other!
Bill wants to travel to places he has never seen (that is just about anywhere) and I want to combine our travel to visit family (we have family all over this country that we need to see)! Bill likes a slow pace, easy-going, no hassles, no schedules, no obligations. I love life in the fast lane, so much to do in so little time and I am an organization freak! Give me a schedule and I flourish!
Do you see any possible conflicts? But after over 36 years together, we have learned to dance in the kitchen (he is the cook and I am the cleaner upper) and in our travels. Caveat – I can’t keep tune to the beat of any music, so I am not talking ballroom dancing! I just figured out how to pace myself to him, while keeping myself otherwise occupied or rather, out of his way as he whips up our dinner in 15 minutes or less!
This past week in Colorado was only our second really exciting trip in the past six years – since I retired. Until this week, one of our best and a rarity, was to celebrate our 35th anniversary with our daughter and new son-in-law on a cruise. In fact, as we look back, we have not taken many week-long vacations! We’ve actually only had about 5 one week vacations in all those decades. We got into a habit of long weekends, three or four days. Why? Because we are workaholics and just did not feel we could “afford” to take more time off!
So on September 10, 2011, off to Denver we flew! A week in the mountains – what could be more exciting? And the bonus, we have a nephew in Denver and a niece, her 3 month old baby and husband in Colorado Springs. More exciting is that I lived in Colorado Springs for six years, from ages 3 to 9 (or thereabouts). Ah, the wonderful childhood memories I was able to relive! Bill was not sure about some of the things I wanted to do, but he supported me. So we danced together to make this a fabulous vacation!
If you know me, you know I love babies! Upon arriving in Denver, we meet our niece, Rachel, her husband Fernando and three-month old Hadassah for lunch! I snatched Hadassah from Fernando and began loving on her! She is so beautiful and easy to love! I held her as much as possible and only had to give her quickly to her mom when she was hungry!
So to make things even more special, we were joined by Hannah, Rachel’s cousin. Hannah, a college student, is a gifted dancer! She is using her talents to grow closer to the Lord in a dance troupe of like-minded students. We missed her first performance by a few hours, but she sent us a link to watch it! We are all so proud of her!
After we ate, we ventured downtown without Hannah. I don’t remember Denver being such a beautiful and clean city! And I even forgot it was the Capitol – I think the elevation got to me! We walked around a Memorial Park to Veterans and then strolled downtown.
Bill is musical and performed a sweet melody for me! Then off we went to our hotel and had a great night sleep to prepare us for our journey to Beaver Creek, a very nice resort in the Rockies. We had no idea how exciting the drive would be to our destination! When we lived in Virginia, we enjoyed Shenandoah National Park, taking day hikes on the Appalachian trails.
We are trying to stop and smell the roses. On our journey there, I discovered I needed more gum to help my ears acclimate to the mountains. So the first exit we see is to Buffalo Bill’s grave and a museum on Lookout Mountain. Bill was hesitant to stop there, saying they did not advertise a store….How many times have we been to a museum and they did not have a store? So he reluctantly took the exit and we had one of our most exciting times of the week!
Exit to Lookout Mountain. House on a hill. Water Carves Canyons.
The view up to the top of the mountain was breathtaking, as was almost all of the Rockies and the blue sky! It was a long, winding steep road up to the top. Amazingly, we saw hundreds of bike riders on the way up and down! That is what these people do for fun!
Anyway, at the top, we took time out to learn about the legendary Buffalo Bill (a scout, showman and visionary), saw the grave site he picked out (because he said you could see four states from the view) and visited the informative museum. It was well worth the diversion from our trip to the resort. And we were able to buy me some gum to help my ears in the elevation!
Later that day, we arrived in one of the most beautiful resorts we could imagine, Beaver Creek. It is nestled in Avon and just down the road from Vail.
Click here for the next blog with more pictures and details about our fabulous vacation. I will also be able to relive some of my favorite childhood memories!