Tying Up Loose Ends

We were in Biloxi this week and so, of course, had to hit a casino.  Brent is very lucky (he would say talented) and always manages to win, while I do my part by balancing us out!

But the evening went south when we got our bill.  Apparently a senior is anyone over 40 in Mississippi?

When the all you can eat Seafood Buffet turned ugly!

Yesterday we left Biloxi for a small campground in Scott, LA.  We were able to catch some of the Ohio State game even though the picture on our t.v. was super snowy and it was hard to tell which team even had the ball.  Still, you have to admit, it was a good day to be a Buckeye fan!

So ugly he’s adorable!

We got to our campground yesterday only to discover that it was the official night for trick or treating.  I have missed seeing a lot of kids in our travels but we more than made up for it as there were probably 150-200 kids running around. 

It was the perfect set-up  since the RVs were literally feet apart and almost everyone participated.  Brent teases me about my candy stash but it came in handy and I was able to share with what my daughter, Molly, would call a “happy heart!”  (She has three kids four and under!)

Such fun to see so many kids in one place!

 

Beauty or the Beast

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about perspective. Do we side with Belle (the beauty) or the townspeople when looking at the Beast?

I think it’s partly because whenever you look at a review online, whether it’s a restaurant or product or campground, you get people who couldn’t live without the said thing or experience and others who hate it so much they would “give it zero stars” if they could! Brent and I sometimes laugh, but it’s fascinating to me how differently we see things.

So…. I thought I would do a little experiment.  If these were your choices of a view, which campground would you pick?

I’m guessing most of you picked the one with the ocean view.  As a matter of fact, that’s why I chose the campground where we are now!  The online photos showed motor homes in a serene park just steps from the ocean.  What’s not to like?

But, as you’ve probably guessed, all the pictures above are from the same campground! 

These are basically views from the north, east, west and south, taken just steps from Fred. Kind of funny, right?

It reminds me of when you are dating someone and you always try so hard and then once you have been married forever out comes the Super 8 view!

 

The 8 Best and Worst Things About RV LIfe

Greetings from rainy Biloxi.  Nothing like starting off your day with a tornado siren blaring right outside your door.  On the plus side, I now know what a mesocyclone is! 🙂

I will share more soon about our week in Alabama but thought I would throw this random post in here now…

Things I miss the most:

  • Real toilet and shower
  • Tennis, Tennis, Tennis
  • Our king-sized bed
  • Sunday dinners with my kiddos
  • Counter space
  • Screened-in porch
  • My Jeep Wrangler and easy access to stores
  • Hanging out with friends and colleagues

 

Things I Love:

  • We eat well
  • Naps
  • If you don’t like a certain place, you don’t have to stay there
  • Adding new states to the back of Fred (we are at 22!)
  • Having time to write and research things that interest me
  • Meeting fun and interesting people
  • Only agenda is the one we set
  • Being on the “younger” side of RVers (older guys…and I mean 70 and over… have always had a thing for me!)

So, surprise, surprise…it’s a trade-off, just like all of life.  But overall, I’m very happy with where we’ve landed.

 

Sweet Home Alabama

Hey y’all!

Am writing this as we head across Florida and into Alabama.  I had a wonderful time at the tennis retreat.

It was nice to get away from Fred for a few days (no… that is not a code name for my husband, it’s our RV) and do something different. 

Four of us rented a condo on the beach and it was a lot of tennis (my heel was grumpy!) but sometimes you just have to suck it up for the greater good…

I was hoping to lose a pound or two with 4.5 hours of tennis every day but the fantastic food apparently was the great leveler!  We did sneak away from tennis on Saturday afternoon (it had been raining on and off all day) to go shopping in Fernandino Beach.

I know this isn’t really a travel blog but I have to recommend this little town if you ever get to Amelia Island. 

It was adorable (think Franklin, Tennessee’s main street only longer and with an ocean view) and lunch at a little place called Timoti’s Seafood Shak was fabulous.

Now we are slowly making our way to a little town just north of Houston called Cleveland.  Not sure yet how long we will be in Texas, but we are looking forward to putting a gigantic state on our map.  I must admit, this is yet another time I was wrong.  (Dang it, that’s twice this year!)

Brent wanted to put a map on the back of our RV so we could track the states we had visited.  This is really stupid but go with it, I thought.  Of course, now that we have been to 21 states I’m having a ball with it.

The only sad thing is somehow we missed West Virginia.  It was never close to any of the highways we were on so we will have to backtrack and pick it up later.

Poor West Virginia! The funny thing is that when talking with other campers, apparently WV gets missed a lot!

For the next three days we will be boondocking at Big Daddy’s Grille in Fair Hope, AL.  My life just keeps getting rougher and rougher… LOL!  #seafoodbinge

 

The Green-Eyed Monster

This is what I’ve discovered after five weeks on the road.  You can run but you can’t hide…from yourself!

I readily admit there were a few things about myself that I was hoping would change once we got underway.  I don’t think I’m particularly materialistic but (if I’m being honest) I do like nice things.  My Jeep Wrangler, for example.  Yes, it’s a 2008 but I didn’t NEED a Jeep, I just wanted one.

So… I was hoping with all this downsizing and with literally everything we own now either fitting into Fred or our 5×10 storage unit that maybe that monster would be “put down” or at least have been dealt a sizeable blow.

What did I find instead?  I’ve just found new things to be jealous of!  Did you know that some Class A’s have washers and dryers in them?  I know…  Or that they have huge “basements” (RV lingo for the storage outside your unit) with storage that’s actually accessible?  Totally unfair, right?  I’m also jealous of people towing cars…how nice would that be to be able to make a Target run whenever you felt like it? (We do plan to add our Jeep at some point.  Just not sure when.)

In other words, I did not suddenly, miraculously become a new and better person when we left on this trip.  Rats.

Even worse, when I was organizing every day, I got compliments on my work and my clients appreciated me.  Same with my tennis friends who were always encouraging.  Now it’s just me and my computer and not a lot of meaningful interaction with people who adore me.  (LOL)

I’m still super friendly and reach out but you don’t have deep friendships when you move every few days, or every few weeks.  So that has been an adjustment that I never considered.  And my daughter Molly keeps sending adorable grandkid pictures (the nerve!) which makes me think that if they lived anywhere other than Indiana I would just chuck it all and move back to my hometown.

I guess I can look at this one of two ways.  Either I need lots of “atta-girls” (it’s all about me) or I just want to be in healthy relationships with people I care about.  Hmm…probably some both, truth be told.

Which brings me to the third annoying thing about myself.  I (as already admitted in another post) can be a bit of a pessimist and I was hoping to get a better handle on the whining which obviously isn’t happening. 

A while back, I did go one day without complaining (at least I think I did) but it took so much effort that I can’t see that happening again anytime soon.  I say that half joking but sadly, half serious.  I think we just get into these habits and can’t see ourselves for who we are or maybe the way others see us.

As usual, I don’t have any answers for all this.  Just questions.  I guess I can at least put one thing in the plus column about myself…I’m honest!

 

Fred our Winnebago: On a Good Hair Day

Awhile back I posted some pictures of the inside of Fred our Winnebago, but didn’t show all of him, so I’m adding some shots.

Here is the bathroom.  It has two doors which is nice so you can enter from the kitchen (I use this term loosely!) or the bedroom.

 

 

The kitchen is very small and has almost no counter space. 

The fridge is across from the stove and is only 7 cubic feet.  I have figured out a few hacks to make it work better.  I bought two cutting boards at Walmart that fit perfectly over each sink and that helps but it’s still kind of a pain.

 

 

The bedroom has a whole wall of drawers and a great closet.  The window faces the back of the camper.

 

The only other thing we would change is our short queen sized bed is a little cramped.  Our next RV we are going for the king-sized bed.  All in all though, Fred has been a wonderful first camper.

If He Ain’t In It

I want to introduce this blog entry with a disclaimer. 

Although its purpose is NOT to proselytize and I promise not to ask you to bow your head and say a prayer at the end of it, from time to time I am going to talk about my relationship with God.  It’s central to the core of who I am and I’m not embarrassed about that.  If you don’t know me, I try very hard never to push my beliefs on you, but at the same time I don’t apologize for them either.

I’ve always had a love affair with music.  I wrote my first (um…and only) song in the second grade.  It was about God’s Holiness and won an award at my school.  I was in the choir growing up and can’t remember a time when music wasn’t important.  You name a song from the 70’s and I can tell you what was going on in my life at that time and, like many of you, certain songs transport me back to specific situations. For example, I can still tell you exactly where I was (Sherry’s basement the summer before 6th grade) when I discovered rock/pop music.  Elton John’s Philadelphia Freedom started another love affair (one-sided though it may be!) that is still going strong. I know… I know…he’s already married but do you think if I could win him over he would sing me to sleep every night?

Anyway, all joking aside, music still defines my life in many ways and when I lost both of my parents recently within a year of each other it was a song that brought comfort in each instance. What I love about this is that I don’t look for them; these songs come to me.

I’m sure many of you understand.  You hear a song for the first time and feel like it was written for you.

So, when I heard a song by Danny Gokey recently, I knew it was the one for this adventure. It’s called “If You Ain’t in It” and I know it’s hard to get the feel for a song with just the lyrics but the refrain says…

I don’t wanna have it all, write my story any way I want.

Everything would just fall apart if you ain’t in it.

I don’t wanna get my way, no I don’t want to run this thing

Cuz I know it all ends the same if you ain’t in it.

The rest of the song is just as awesome and conveys the message that we need to follow God, not hope that He follows us and that’s a reminder that’s always timely.  I want to start every day asking God what He has for me and listening well as the day progresses.

We have an amazing opportunity, not just to see the U.S. but to speak into peoples’ lives and I don’t want to miss out on anything He has for us because I’m trying to call the shots.  On the other hand,  I’m sometimes guilty of not doing anything because I only want to do “big” things for God, but I think He purposely has me slowing down and concentrating on just being available daily in the little things. 

I’ll keep you posted…

Where in the World is…Barb Eimer

Okay, not quite as catchy as Carmen Sandiego, but it will have to do.  Do you remember that? My kids were obsessed with that computer game which I think later became a t.v. show.

Anyway, we have had a good week.  We spent three days in the D.C. area in the nicest campground we have stayed at yet…Cherry Hill Park.  The best part was that it offered easy transportation to D.C.  We took a short bus ride to the Metro and then hopped on that and got out a few blocks from many of the Smithsonian buildings. (Embarrassing side note: I thought the Smithsonian was one museum!  Oops. Only off by 18!)

The highlight of our time in D.C. was a bus tour of the city that started at dusk.  We got to the capitol building just as the sun was setting and it was truly spectacular.  Next, we went to the White House which was bathed in pink for breast cancer awareness month. 

Then we saw the major monuments and memorials including the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.  As I hadn’t been to D.C. in 40 years, it was great to experience again.

 

Yesterday we drove to the middle of North Carolina and spent the night at a vineyard.

For those of you who might want to do a long RV trip, we found this organization called Harvest Hosts.  You pay $44 for a year and can stay with any one of hundreds of “hosts” across the country for free. They are almost all vineyards, breweries or working farms, although I think a few museums also offer their parking lot. 

It’s nothing fancy and you are boondocking (no hookups) but it’s a fun way to meet people and experience new things.  They ask that you support your host which usually involves buying a few bottles of wine.  Well, okay…if we HAVE to!

Actually we have a system now where when we boondock at someone’s home (another option similar to Harvest Hosts called Boondockers Welcome) we give our hosts a bottle of wine from our last Harvest Hosts stop.  These are both great options for one-night stops when you are on your way somewhere and don’t want to have to pay for (or set up at) a campground.

Today we are on the road again.  We are spending six days at Hilton Head on our way to Florida.

Okay, I admit, a lot of the next few months are more of a vacation than work.  But after my extended girls’ tennis weekend in Florida we are heading to the Houston area to help. 

We found a mission group that’s actually based in my hometown of Fort Wayne and they have different teams coming in and out of Cleveland, Texas (just north of Houston) so we will join up with them.  I’m a little nervous about it as I’m not sure what exactly I will be doing but this whole year is about getting outside my comfort zone so I guess I just need to dive in.

I Gotta Be Me…Everybody Else Was Taken

I suppose if you know me or have read any of my blogs you might detect that I’m a Type A person.

My dad started working for pay on a farm at age 10 (there were seven children in his family and his dad had died in a fire when he was six) and I guess in my mind I’ve always thought of it not so much as being a Type A as being a hard worker.  Laziness is the one trait (well, that and dishonesty) that I can’t abide in myself, my friends or my family.  You must be busy, productive, and get things crossed off the list!  (I know this sounds bad even as I write it but, you know, the whole tells the truth thing!)

Of course, after having six kids in six years (Was that on my “to do” list?) I didn’t have any trouble staying busy.

Once they started leaving the nest I added working outside the home to an already crazy schedule.   Then five years ago I started Yikes Organizing which added another element. Finally, in 2015 my mom was diagnosed with cancer which meant almost monthly 14- hour round trip visits to Indiana.

So….can I say that this is really a big deal for me to do this RV thing? The pace of life in an RV is about a tenth of what my “normal” pace has been and work is totally being redefined.  But like so many other full-time RVers before me have discovered, life as “usual” wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.

It’s a huge challenge and maybe that’s what drew me to it in the first place.  In the beginning, there was still busywork to do, buying and organizing everything we would need for life in 300 square feet.  But now that we have been on the road for a while, I’m realizing that sometimes it’s okay to just be.

On the second night in our first campground I left my phone outside in my camp chair overnight.  When looking for it the next morning I knew that a tectonic shift had taken place.  The “old” me wouldn’t have been able to get to sleep unless my cell phone was by my bedside and charging.  Now I find I go hours at a time without checking it because there are no business calls and if my kids really needed me and I wasn’t seeing the texts they would call.  It’s freeing and terrifying all at the same time!

Can I turn myself into a Type B person?  Is that the goal?  Should it be or is that a very Type A thing to say?   Stay tuned as I try to figure it all out.

50 Shades of Brown

Since the plan is for Fred be our home for the next year I’m insistent that he be “homey.” So not only did these RV newbies need to decide between class A, B and C campers, we had to find one that had a decent interior.  I can’t tell you how many hours I researched to find something acceptable.

In fact, if most RV interiors were a paint chip color I’m pretty sure it would be “poo brown!”

It was downright discouraging with even new RVs looking like they were designed by 80-year-olds.  (When whining to one RV sales person, he said that’s because the heads of the major RV manufacturers are a bunch of old white guys.  Hmmm… it’s all starting to make sense now.)  But honest to goodness, some of these campers are stuck in a serious time warp!  Vintage is one thing but ugly is another.

After looking for six weeks online through every available outlet, in June I finally found a suitable RV in Missouri.  Sadly, we were 8 hours away in Indiana at the time visiting my daughter and her family but THIS WAS IT so off we went.  It was a little scary putting down a deposit on an RV we had never seen in person but this one had a gray interior (paint chip: mountaintop at twilight) and I had a good feeling about “him.” Thus far Fred is exceeding expectations but I did have to put my own touches on him.

The first thing I did was to get rid of the awful (silver sludge) valances. 

This was easier said than done because unfortunately some very expensive shades were bolted to them so when you lost one you lost both.  And the system of how they were attached to the wall was different on all three of the windows being de-valanced which made it more complicated.  In the end, we had no valances (yay!) but no curtains or usable shades either.  This is okay if you live in the country but a little less okay when if both my neighbor and I opened our windows and stuck our arms out we could hold hands!

The first few nights I was careful to be “decent” but by the end of the first week I decided nobody would have a heart attack if they saw me in my (adorable) owl robe and bear slippers!

 

 

For better or worse, I was not deterred by the valance debacle and hired someone to make bunk bed sheets for me.  Our granddaughters are 4 and 21 months and when we visit them I thought it would be fun if they “camped” with us.

So we covered the boring bunk bed cushions (there is a such a thing as too much gray) with something more kid and camper friendly.

 

Overall, I’m having a lot of fun decorating our new home and Brent has been very gracious to let me do what I want.

P.S.  Although Fred is dreamy on the inside (and getting more handsome every day) on the outside he is dead average.  Actually, that’s too kind.

He looks like a giant caramel macchiato gone horribly wrong.

I guess you can’t have it all.  Black RV’s are my favorite but I never found one in our size and price range so if your RV has a black exterior and gray interior keep your doors locked…I’m just sayin’!