2015 Year End Summary Review



We haven’t been as good at blogging in 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 Service 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 on 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 to 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 did my dad succumb 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.” Joshua 1:9

Our First RV Resort: Tampa East, FL 9/5-7/2013

After three years of dreaming of owning an RV and traveling, we finally did it!  The road here was not easy, but was bathed in prayer!  And many things came together and we have to give God the Glory as it was all miraculous.  So I’ll try to categorize this to make a long story short.

A slide show follows this narrative.  But first, few pros and cons about the resort.  Pros:  location was perfect, just two miles from Camping World, where we bought our first RV; it really was a resort and we were in awe of the beautiful pool and amenities; the office staff was outstanding, really helpful; the bath and laundry area were kept clean.   Cons:  It was rainy season and the lots were mainly dirt with some grass so it was hard to level the RV.  Will we return, probably not because Tampa is not our favorite vacation location in Florida!

The dream:  Bill wanted one of those Class A vehicles that are like a bus and some are on a bus chassis.  He wanted to carry his motorcycle on the back on a lift and tow our small Toyota Tacoma truck.  So for three years, we went to RV shows and looked in side 100’s of them.  Bill also searched on line for a used one, looking for the perfect one.  My sister and her husband bought one around 2004 and traveled with our mom and step dad for a year or two.  She wanted us to buy one and said she KNEW we’d love the life style.  I hadn’t retired from work and that was the last thing I could think about, but it looked attractive.  I’m not sure when Bill decided that was what he wanted, but it was years later.

The push:  Our first grand baby was due the end of August 2013.  So that caused us to say, it’s time to start traveling, mainly to see him or her.   We got serious but we still were bogged down as landlords.  Although we had sold all but one, we just didn’t think we could leave until it sold – and miracle of miracles, it sold right out from under us mid-August.  The pressure was now on to buy, so we actually found one that fit his dream, offered to us at a bargain price ($150,000 something for a mere $109,000).  As tempting as it was, we had to figure out the financing and sleep on it.  We actually just lost that much and more in our real estate ventures, so that gave us pause.  Plus, after I sat in the driver’s seat, I freaked and said I could never drive it!   Our precious grandson arrived early, August 19, so we were there for about 10 days.  Since I didn’t want him in day care at age 2 months, I offered to come for a month when our daughter went back to work and would watch him until he was 3 months old.  So we returned to Florida knowing we needed an RV soon!  So I called on some used ones and learned the market was flooded with them and all for sale we the balance owned on the loan!  We only wanted to pay $50,000.  So Bill was so discouraged but I had faith!  So off to one last shot at a small RV show.  We pulled up to a couple in their brand new Ford truck.  We asked how they liked it and they loved it and were there to buy something to tow.

The decision:  Bill decided he would look in every different RV vehicle this time.  So the first one was an extra light 5th wheel.  In my mind, this was the way to go, but I kept quiet.  It was fabulous!  Love at first sight!  WOW, who would have ever thought?  But then Bill said we could never afford the truck to pull it, when a man came in and said, just think, my F150 ecoboost truck can pull this!  Bill said, “really?”  And that was when we realized we could live the dream and travel more economically.  You see, just to get out of Florida from our home is a one day drive in an RV.  That didn’t seem feasible with all the time we wanted to travel to see our grandson.   So we then set out to get the best deal we could and we did!  With on a few days, we bought our truck and new 5th wheel.  I had heard from one sales center they will let you stay in a campground nearby for 2 days to make sure you can set it up and take it down before you head home.

Our sales man set us for two nights and three days at the Sun RV Resort called Tampa East.  We had no trouble setting up but had a few questions and realized we needed a few more items from Campers World, where we purchased our RV.  Our sales man came our first night, even though it was raining out, and gave us a warm plate of home made brownies with carmel and chocolate!  Sweet!

So here is a review of both our campground, where we are steps from a fabulous pool that we had to ourselves (it was off season in Florida) and the nice nature walk we took at Lettuce Lake Park, near University of Central Florida.  Just an interesting side note, while walking around the lake, we heard a lot of helicopters and sirens.  I said I bet a fugitive is loose – and it was a horrendous situation.  He had killed one person and he ended up dying in a gun battle.  Sad ending to a wonderful weekend.  Kiss and hug your loved ones!

Meet our grand son then the slide show of the Resort:

Six days old

Six days old

Sorry these are not really in order, I’m new at this!

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