Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale


Oh, how I love these boulders!

Makes me feel so small!

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!

One day old

One day old

“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

An ideal travel day in the life of full-time RVers – Staunton VA KOA


IMG_1997As 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:

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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!

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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!

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How Our RV Travel Adventures Started


Bill on top of a peak in Stokes County, NC

Bill on top of a peak on Hanging Rock in Stokes County, NC. This is significant because he is terrified of heights!

Click here for a post about us going full time, which was official on July 15, 2014

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.

 

KOA Fredericksburg, VA, 10/10-11/19 (40 nights)


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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 tIMG_3883his 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!  : – )Grandpa

IMG_3877I 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!

North Fork RV Resort, Front Royal, VA 5/1-5/2/2014


Entrance to the National Park. There is a $10 fee for 7 days use. Once you hit 62, you just pay $10 for a lifetime pass. Something to look forward to....

Entrance to the National Park. There is a $10 fee for 7 days use. Once you hit 62, you just pay $10 for a lifetime pass. Something to look forward to….

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:

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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.

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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.

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So while we are here, it has only been a day since we saw Colin, we still received an updated picture of him! I think he misses us already!
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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.”

Chapter 23 – Aspen!


The most photographed place in Colorado, The Maroon Bells

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!

Just a few of the photographers.

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….

Our quest in life is to live as we believe God intends:

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!

Chapter 20 – Why be married?


During Vacation Bible School, I had a conversation with a friend about marriage.  We talked in general and due to time constraints, ended with “Why be married?”

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.

Hiking in the Smokies as we celebrated 37 years together!