Week 1 at our Southern Home Base (a diary)


As most everyone knows, we limped into our current “home” for the month. We are now in our official home residence county, but we are trying out a new campground – for us. Normally, when we arrive in a new place, we are excited and I start taking pictures of the entrance and all the cool things in our new “home.” But not this time. We arrived exhausted and right before dusk. We had a glitch in our GPS, which took us into a golf course. Initially, I’m imagining a gorgeous campground…and then we realize the address was wrong. We have to unhook the car in order to turn around. Most of the people were kind to us. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture as it was a beautiful setting…..And it would have been funny with the golfers pointing at us and laughing! ¬†ūüėĀBut we were anxious to set up camp which was close to the golf course. And it was getting late….

As we settled into for the night, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful sunset on the lake. But I was just unable to capture its beauty. Here is where the previous post left off:

Imagine the blow out also took out the electric outside stair mechanism.

Imagine the blowout also took out the electric outside stair mechanism.

As you can see from these dreary pictures above, we are not on a flat site, compounded by the fact that our steps aren’t working. The tire blowout damaged the mechanism for them to extend. A neighbor has lent us auxiliary steps. We were not happy with the site and are trying to get moved, but that has additional issues – there just isn’t a site big enough for us. They have offered us two sites to pull into, but it will be an ordeal to maneuver into them….

But there is good news! This is the friendliest and most helpful group of campers we have experienced in our two and 1/2 years of camping! And this quaint “village” is nestled between a lake and an orange grove. We can’t wait to enjoy the beauty….hopefully, soon.

Friday, January 8 ¬†First thing we discovered when we got in the car to go to my mom’s home was a cracked windshield, ¬†across the driver’s line of vision! Is this a sign of things to come????

Bill took me to mom’s and had a nice visit. Then he had to to start working on tire replacements (we’ve decided to replace them all), he needs to figure out how to repair the exterior steps, and he decided to level the motor home better since the jacks had to be fully extended, which isn’t good. And of course, we also had to call in a claim for our windshield.

One of my dear friends dropped in to meet mom and pray with us. Then I started helping mom with the millions of things one must do after the death of a spouse, as well as begin preparing her to relocate. We ran some errands and then I brought her by our motor home. She has wanted to see it since it is finally here in the county. We had been offered a different lot, so I had hoped Bill moved it there so mom could see inside. But no, he didn’t feel it would fit. So mom was only able to see the outside since the entrance was a bit high for her to try to climb! She’s a former full-timer herself, also in a motorhome.

Saturday, January 9 I had the energy to start my day with a walk. I wanted to explore the campground so I went for a little over a two-mile walk. It was still overcast, so no pictures yet!

My sister and I met at mom’s house and we rolled up our sleeves. So much to clean out and to prepare her for an upcoming move. It’s hard selling a home as anyone who has been through it knows. But for mom being legally blind, it is even harder. Thankfully, mom has three daughters who are willing to do all we can to help. ūüíĖ

Sunday, January 10 It was wonderful to return to our home church! Mom came with us so that was a bonus. Neighbors of hers attend our church, so they enjoyed seeing her and giving her a hug. One husband helped take down the Christmas decorations outside. The community mom lives is known as a “Christmas Village” so there is a lot of peer pressure for everyone to fully decorate – and they help each other.

The sermon was just what we all needed as well. As usual! I really like the life of Joshua. He was mentored by Moses and became a great leader. But he was very insecure. So we hear several times, the Lord assuring him: ¬†“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)¬†And we, too, need not be afraid for the Lord our God is with us wherever we go!

We went out to eat after church. We are so unoriginal, we went to Bob Evans. We are now in “peak” season here in Sebring. The population really grows January through March and you notice it most in the long waits at the restaurants.

My step-sister and her husband came over to mom’s house after they got off work. They are semi-retired, so trying to match our schedules wasn’t the easiest. We were looking forward to playing Trivial Pursuit with them, my sister and her husband, as well as other friends, enjoyed playing last year.

Monday, January 11 Marsha and I started our day walking together. It was so refreshing and a great way for us to strategize as we see we have a lot of hard work still ahead. But at the same time, we want to take some time for exercise and for quality time together. We took mom out to eat at Panera Bread before we started working. We are trying to not work her too much, nor ourselves.

My sister and I ready to take a long walk.

My sister and I ready to take a long walk.

We had Safelite come to the campground to fix our windshield. What a great service! Bill also continued to try to figure out what parts he needed to fix our steps and trying to decide what tires we should go with. We’ve decided all the tires must be at risk, so we are replacing all of them.

Tuesday, January 12¬†Marsha and I again started our day walking together. We’ve made some progress on the house. We are in a very boring routine, but it is still a great time of bonding as we work together. We are trying to keep it light and laugh as much as we can. And for us, there is a lot to laugh about as we see how forgetful and clumsy we are!

There is one fun thing we enjoy when we are here in the winter. My sister and our step-sister live in a golf course community. Every Tuesday evening for 6 or 8 weeks, they play Trivial Pursuit. We were looking forward to it….but sadly, we had to miss it due to unforeseen circumstances. Hopefully, next week.

Mom at the Jacaranda

My beautiful young mom at 92, enjoying Christmas decorations still out at the Jacaranda Hotel.

Wednesday, January 13 Marsha and her husband took mom out for the day, so the above picture was from that outing. Mom had a blast and was happy to not think about moving. We have been pushing her a bit and didn’t realize it. Mom can only go but so fast with this major life transition.

We had planned to attend the 2016 Florida Super RV Show in Tampa. We’ve attended it the past three years. And since we need a few parts and need some ideas, we took the day off to attend the first day of the event. Mom had wanted to come with us as she also loves the RV life. But she had an appointment that she couldn’t change so Marsha took her to the Jacaranda after her appointment. And as it turned out, it would have been too cool for her to be outside all day. And we pushed ourselves, walking about five miles. We did learn from the past visits to bring our own lunch and some snacks.

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The last thing we thought we needed was a Tire Monitoring System. But we stumbled upon a presentation and realized, had we had one, we may have been able to head off the blowout. So we invested in it. But we couldn’t decide if we should add it to the car as it is towed. Anyone other RVers have any suggestions?

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My iPhone is nearly three years old and has been giving me some problems. For some reason, they just don’t make them to last. It’s been sluggish and the battery¬†only lasts a short time. I had to keep an external battery attached on a day like this. Wouldn’t you know Verizon had a booth and were offering GREAT deals! So early in the day, I spend some time getting educated on the specials. I then thought about it most of the day and ran it by my daughter. She recently upgraded, too, so she was very encouraging. So we stopped there at 4:30 on the way out….

But since we were there until 6 pm, we were desperate to find a place to eat, knowing we still had a two-hour drive home. We also don’t like eating that late and had hoped to eat somewhere special. But knowing the crowds, we ended up in a food court in a nearby mall. How pathetic. But the good news was that there was a Verizon store in the court! And I needed a few more pointers with my phone….and I forgot to mention, Bill also upgraded his nearly 10-year-old flip phone. ¬†To a modern flip phone. It turned out the battery in it was borderline dangerous….it was “swollen.” ¬†And we couldn’t figure out a few things with it.

So off we headed for home. We were surprised there wasn’t much traffic. We were pleased we were making such good time. ¬†It was pitch dark as we got close to our park. Suddenly, we realize we’ve made one wrong turn. We added about 20 minutes to our ride…and are we ever tired. We realized we really hadn’t recovered from our journey here!

Thursday, January 14¬† We can’t believe we’ve been here a week and haven’t even checked out the campground. I needed to use wifi to transfer all my data and apps to my new phone. So I headed off to the community center to use it and hoping I can get a good walk in. But the wifi was slow so it took me an hour just to back up my old phone to my computer (using iTunes). My new phone needed updating so I decided to take it to mom’s and use her better wifi. Marsha and I meet over there and continued to clean out while I updated my phone and transferred my data. We also had an appointment with a realtor to talk about listing the house. All in all, a productive day.

And Bill had been waiting all week for the needed part to be in to repair the external steps. And sure enough, it arrived in the late afternoon. I picked the part up on my way home – only for Bill to say it isn’t the right part after all! He’s waited nearly a week for it. ¬†It is not easy “hoisting” ourselves into our home….But finally after dinner, we take a walk and begin to see the serene beauty which surrounds us!

Next up, how GEICO responded to our incident. You never know how good an insurance company is until you use them….

2015 Year End Summary Review


boomerang

Boomerang

We haven’t been as good at blogging the second half of this year. At least we can catch up with a review of our year. The main thing we’ve learned is that we probably misnamed ourselves, The TumbleLees. Perhaps the Boom-a-Rangers would have been better! We had high hopes of visiting many more places and states by now. Instead, we have re-visited some of our favorite places. Much of our travel this year ¬†included trips to help family, especially to our daughter’s home to help welcome to the world our second ¬†grandson in August 2015; selling our first RV and buying our second one in May 2015; and, exploring many state parks in Florida. In spite of not traveling to more states, we have had a GREAT year.

Here are some of our stats:

In 2015, we slept in an RV 331 nights (several family visits for a total of ¬†34 nights away from our RV) for a total of 697 nights in a camper since we started in September 2013. ¬†We moved in and out of 31¬†campgrounds in 2015 with a total of 70 since we started. We hit a glitch in keeping up with the mileage as our truck was wrecked and we didn’t get that mileage before it was turned over to the insurance company as a total loss. Wow, that sure doesn’t happen every year – but it was very timely as we had just sold the 5th wheel it towed. We can guesstimate we drove the truck 10,000 miles between Jan and May 2015. We know we towed our 5th wheel a total of 12,000 miles from September 2013 to May 2015.

Our biggest hike ever, 9 miles in Callaway Gardens, Georgia

Our biggest hike ever, 9 miles in Callaway Gardens, Georgia

If you know us, you know we love to ¬†hike! But we haven’t been very good at keeping a written journal of our hikes. But I do use the Map My Walk (or hike) app. While it didn’t work for every hike (either battery went dead or we were in an area without any cell phone towers), it calculated we hiked¬†or walked on at least 220 occasions, for at least 608 miles¬†in 10,686 minutes!¬†Sure wish I had kept the stats of our hikes for the past 12 years. ;-{

Our 28' Keystone Cougar XLite 5th wheel and F-150 Ecoboost Ford Truck.

Our 28′ Keystone Cougar XLite 5th wheel and F-150 Ecoboost Ford Truck.

The first half of the year was pretty wild as traveled and we tried to sell our 5th wheel to upgrade to a motorhome on our own. Whew, that was a real chore, but it all worked out perfectly. The full details are here¬†and here. Traveling in our 5th wheel, from January to May, we visited¬†20 private RV campgrounds/resorts,¬†one KOA, and 8 State Parks (in Florida). Of these, seven were repeat stays. We learned we love camping in state and county parks as this was the first year we managed to do so. We also figured out there are some state parks with sites to fit a 40′ motorhome. ¬†County parks may be a different story as we have learned. You can’t accept the word of the person who answers the phone…..

We bought our Class A motor home, a 2010 Tiffin Phaeton QTH 40′, in May 2015 as well as our flat tow, a 2013 Cadillac SRX. As of December 31, 2015, Bill drove it 2,613 miles. We slowed our pace down considerably, considering we were averaging 2,000/month in the 5th wheel! ¬†We visited 11 campgrounds total: eight private parks and then three unique experiences in the 40′ bus, one more state park in Florida,¬†one County Park in Tennessee and one Sevice Center in Red Bay, Alabama. ¬†We stayed in two repeat campgrounds, near our daughter and at Myrtle Beach. ¬†While we did fit into the County Park, we realized it may be more of a challenge than we thought. We were told they could handle a 40′ motorhome, but the lots were not very level as depicted in this photo:

Lake Marion County Park, Jasper, Tennessee

Lake Marion County Park, Jasper, Tennessee. Normally, we don’t need that step!

We also had many family visits, which were both good and sad. We spent time with Bill’s mom, with Bill helping his brother select an assisted living facility for her in Illinois near his brother. ¬†This visit is not in the map since we didn’t take the RV. We visited my mom and stepdad¬†three times in Sebring (home base) as he battled cancer. Sadly, he lost the battle on December 2, 2015. We are so grateful we had the flexibility to spend as much time with him as we did! And the good and best family times were with our daughter. We were there for her last months of what turned out to be somewhat of a difficult pregnancy, then we were there for the birth of our second healthy grandson. Our daughter stayed home with him for three months. We traveled some during this time. Then we returned to watch him for six more weeks. ¬†He was 4 1/2 months old when he went into daycare and we had to head south. That was a lot of family time. And we managed to visit some dear friends along the way.

Click below read the posts about some of the exciting places we visited: (The numbers signify the campground stay since we began.)

68) Pirateland, site 158, 5401 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC, 29575 Dates: 10/7-11/11/15 (34 nights)

65) Waynesboro North 340 Campground, Eastside Highway, Waynesboro, VA 22980 Campground office: (540) 943-9573.   6/22-24/201

62)Allegro Campground, Red Bay, AL 6/11-6/18/2015

53)Talbot Island State Park, 12157 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32226. Phone: 904-251-2320. Site 16. 3/21-25/2015 (4 nights)

52)Torreya State Park, 2576 NW Torreya Park Rd., Bristol, FL 32321. Site: 008. 3/17-21/2015. (4 nights)

51)Ochlockonee River State Park, PO Box 5, Sopchoppy, FL 32358. Sites: 024 & 027. Phone: 850-962-2771. 3/14-17/2015 (4 nights)

50) Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, Fl 32564 Phone: 850-983-5363. Sites 024 & 020. 3/8-14/15. (6 nights)

49) Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Fl 32459 Phone: 850-267-8330 Site, Loop: 083, 102 3/4-8/15. (4 nights)

48) Fallings Waters State Park, 1130 State Park, Chipley, Fl 32428 Phone: 850-638-6130. Site 017 Dates: 2/27-3/4/2015 (5 nights)

47)Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL 32446 Phone: 850-482-1228. Site 006, BH1 Dates: 2/23-27/15 (4 nights)

46) Crystal Isles RV Park, 11419 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429. Phone: 888-318-1243
Dates: 2/19-23/15 (4 nights)

44) Tampa East RV Resort, 4630 McIntosh Road, Dover, FL 33527 (866) 786-6298. Dates: 1/13-20/15 (7 nights)

In spite of all these great camping and hiking experiences, we have had to rely more and more on the Lord for our strength as we met the many challenges this year. We were blessed to be able to attend church nearly every Sunday, missing only two or three times due to our travel schedule. The last time we had such a challenging year was in 1999 when not only my dad succumbed to cancer, but I also lost my dear brother in law, who was truly like a big brother to me.  He entered my life when I was a struggling 7th grader. He tutored me when I was failing English. During that year, the lesson we learned was that God was in control even when life seemed out of control! These verses became more and truer to us this year:

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.‚ÄĚ Joshua 1:9