This moment in time…

A journal of our travels and how we arrived at this moment in time!


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Rolling merrily along…

Blue Ridge, GA

May 20-31, 2016

On May 20th, we lifted our jacks and moved merrily along from Hoover, AL to Morganton (Blue Ridge), GA.  Anyone into tiny houses?  We saw this as we headed out.

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Guy and Sue are in the right-hand lane

I could totally live in this tiny log cabin.  And if you didn’t notice, it has a front porch on the other side.  This was not the only tiny house we saw, so their popularity must be catching on.

Sue was our navigator and decided that we would take the backroads, for the most part, instead of major thoroughfares.

Those drives are always awesome, but RVers must do their homework and determine if there are any 6-7’ bridge clearances along the way.  Those can prove to be catastrophic, especially since the majority of our rigs are over 13’ high.  Fortunately for us, there were none.  However, the roads twisted and turned, but nothing we could not handle.  It just makes for a slower drive, that’s all.  And what’s so bad about slowing down?  Nothing, actually!  It’s a much better way of getting to actually see the countryside, instead of driving through it.  And, who’s in a hurry, anyway?  Good golly, we’re retired!  Just gotta love those back roads!

Our destination was Guy and Sue’s property in Morganton, GA, a small mountain town located within the Chattahoochee National Forest in Northern Georgia.  What an absolutely beautiful/peaceful/serene place it is.  This is where we would call “home” for approximately the next three (3) weeks… Camp Alexander!

Guy and Sue purchased the property approximately 1 year ago and have done a tremendous amount of work preparing it for future visits, and to share with friends and family.  They have installed three (3) full hook-up RV sites with 50 amp service.  What a beautiful place it is!

Our drive from Hoover was approximately 4-5 hours. That is a relatively short travel day for me and Craig in comparison to some of our previous record-setting days.  :)  (We’re going to have to work on that!)  Guy had just one more day of treatment on Monday, May 23, but he wanted to make the move to Blue Ridge, anyway.  His plans were to drive to and from his last treatment in Birmingham by himself.  Sue, Craig, and I held down the fort while he was gone.  After his return later that day, we shared dinner together and afterward I surprised Guy with homemade cinnamon rolls in celebration of his final treatment!

20160523_201000But, there was still work to be done!  For the next two days Sue, Craig and I got busy putting the final coats of paint on the storage building. Guy was busy cutting and installing skirting so LaciLou would not be tempted to race under the building to attack wild animals who might be hiding underneath.  The entire project turned out very nice, I might add!

20160524_152159During our stay, Guy and Craig cleared a good amount of fallen limbs to add to the woodpile…

20160530_11251220160530_112815…they built a structure that would support Sue’s swing…

…and Guy went crazy with these men-in-a-tree ceramics for his kids and grandkids to discover when they come up to the property.

He purchased 2 or 3 of these at a fair we all visited in downtown Blue Ridge.  After hanging them in the trees, he liked them so much he went back for more the next day.  So, there is now a total of about 6-7 tree men on their property. Pretty cool!  I love the element of surprise in the unexpected.  He does, too… obviously!

A couple days later we went into town to visit Mercier Orchards.

 

 

As you can see behind us in the above photo, the place is huge.  And what you see is only a tad portion of the entire orchards.  We purchased some veggies and a bag of yummy peaches, and we were on our way back to Camp Alexander. We passed this lake along the way to the orchards.20160526_143305Later that evening (05/26/16), we loaded up our lawn chairs, bagged some snacks and drinks, and headed for Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville, GA.  Every Thursday evening, 6:00 PM to dusk, May through September, there are live jam sessions right there on the Toccoa River.  I failed to get the name of the group, but I believe this group is from Bethany Church in Epworth, GA.  Apparently, they have been jamming here for quite some time.

Well, I didn’t mean it that way, but they have been performing at the park for quite some time… really!

One thing I had wanted to do for a while is take a train ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad.  Yeah, kinda touristy, but I didn’t care.  I love train rides!  How else are you going to see these parts if you don’t take the train?

The 4-hour, 26 mile round trip winds along the beautiful Toccoa River.

 

 

There is a 2-hour layover in the quaint sister towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN.  After exiting the train in McCaysville, GA, we walked a couple of blocks further into town where we had lunch at a Mexican food restaurant… in Copperhill, TN.  As Sue said, we went to Georgia to have lunch in Tennessee!

 

And this just cracked me up! 20160527_125521Yes, I did manage to get Craig to sit down and have a little chat with this guy.  He tried, but no response.  If you know Craig, he can talk to a fence post… just not an Indian!  LOL!

On the other hand, I simply asked the guy to pose.  And he did!20160527_125615Back at Camp Alexander, we planned to have dinner with Guy and Sue’s neighbors, Jo and Bob.

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Jo and Bob’s beautiful cabin!

20160607_175706_resized_2We drove back up and through Blue Ridge to the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant.20160527_184446And here’s Guy trying to figure out which door to use to get into the restaurant.🙂20160527_195748Although we chose to dine inside, there was also dining outside.  The view was absolutely beautiful, but too many flies out there.

 

Craig had shrimp and grits which he said were de-lish20160527_192719… and I had the fried trout.20160527_192725Although my plate of food is beautiful, I prefer my fried fish to be somewhat crispier.  As I began to eat my dinner, however, I also realized it came with a little something extra.  (No charge!)  See that piece of non-food item between my bread and fork in the upper left-hand corner?  I think it was the plastic seal off a spice bottle.  YUCK!  Oh, well.  Could have been much worse, right!

We were on a roll… The very next day (05/28/16) we attended a fair in downtown Blue Ridge.  While the weather was gorgeous, it was hot!  After walking around a while, we departed the vendor area and wandered downtown.  There, we hit the olive oil store…

… while our guys were in day care!20160528_161506Later that afternoon, Sue took me on a tour of their “neighborhood”.  We were able to walk through some of the unfinished cabins and the view was simply breathtaking!  Made me wish I lived there.  Kinda sorta.

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View of the Smokey Mountains out on the horizon

 

A special “THANKS” to Guy and Sue for their hospitality and sharing their beautiful place with us!

Be blessed!


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Continuing on, yet backing up…

Just a little!  I got so excited about catching up with my last blog that I overlooked some pictures I want to share with you.

May 04, 2016

As so many of you already know, my Sweetheart is wired like an engineer.  He is also an explorer at heart.  (I fondly refer to him as my ‘lil ‘splorer! J) So, while we were at Sloss Furnace (see previous post) we came across a really old steam shovel.  I suppose when I say ‘steam’, that alone should imply it is really old, right?  Anyway, my ‘lil ‘splorer could not contain himself.  The piece of heavy equipment wasn’t completely behind the fence so my ‘lil ‘splorer thought it was fair play.

Up, up, and up he went until he was standing behind the controls as so many had done before him.

He was absolutely giddy with excitement and that, I suppose, got the best of him.  He was not going to let this opportunity pass him by.  Soon enough, however, a couple of security guards came running in his direction, insisting he remove himself.

But at least he can now say he has driven a steam engine… if only in his heart and mind!  That’s my Sweetheart!

Oh, on another note…

Check out this display at the Birmingham Zoo.

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Really? Since when has this become zoo attire???  She even experienced some difficulty climbing up the steps onto that platform.  I just had to shake my head in disbelief.  Oh, well.  To each his own, right?

And we had some time to relax…

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Guy snoozing…

And take pictures of silly things…

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This is wild! Can you find the bug? He’s looking at you!

And the boys found this diner in downtown Birmingham where they/we had breakfast a few times prior to Guy’s treatments…

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May 16, 2016

We received an invitation to join Guy and Sue on a visit to see their friends, Marty and Debra.  They own a beautiful lake house on Lake Martin where Guy and Sue lived prior to going full-timing. Marty and Debra’s home is absolutely gorgeous

… as was Guy and Sue’s!

And they took us on a boat tour of the lake.

And, then, we spotted a beautiful painting on the rocks…

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After a delicious meal with Marty and Debra, the four of us headed back home to Hoover, AL.  It was an absolutely lovely day, and one that we won’t forget anytime soon!

Be blessed!

Farmstead in field of corn


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Dis, dat, and de udda…

Alabama

May 4, 2016

The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we were looking for things to do that we had never done before.  We came across Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, AL.

Sloss Furnaces produced iron for nearly 90 years, which gave rise to the city of Birmingham, AL. Now recognized as a National Historic Landmark, Sloss Furnaces, with its web of pipes and tall smokestacks, offers a glimpse into the great industrial past of the South and our nation.

And what a glimpse it was.  I could just feel, see, and hear the workers back in the day.  Here is a smattering of our self-guided tour through the furnace grounds.

By the way, that skull was left over from a Halloween event that was held at the furnaces. Many events and concerts are booked and take place there.

As if we hadn’t already walked enough, the four of us (Guy, Sue, Craig, and myself) decided to go on another walk once back home.  We came across blackberries that were ripe for picking.

And, of course, I made dessert with them!

I cannot even begin to recall how many years it’s been since I last picked blackberries.  As a child, my father would take all of us kids blackberry picking next to the railroad tracks back home.  From time-to-time we would come across something foamy on the bushes and dad would tell us it was snake spit.  I have never learned if that was the absolute truth, but it did keep us kids on our toes!

May 5, 2016

I was very excited about our date this evening.  Sue and I had this planned for quite some time and the day had finally arrived!  We started out with dinner at Southern Kitchen & Bar in the Uptown Entertainment District in downtown Birmingham, AL.  Our varied meals were very tasty, including the Key Lime Pie some had for dessert.  Then… THEN we all went to see a Celtic Woman concert at the BJCC Concert Hall a few blocks away!

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Yes, I took that photo.  It was the only one I took because, as you know, photography was not allowed during the concert. I have absolutely adored this group for a long, long time and never, ever dreamed I would have an opportunity to see them live in concert!  I must say, they were absolutely wonderful and mesmerizing!  I was just a teeny bit disappointed, however, that Máiréad (the highly energetic violin player) was the only remaining “original” within the group.

May 6, 2016

It had been quite some time since I had been to the zoo.  Any zoo.  As a matter of fact, it had been years.  So, as we were planning our trip to Alabama, Sue had asked what I might be interested in doing when we arrived there.  It didn’t take long to spout, “The zoo!”  For so many years, during the prettiest seasons of the year, I wanted to go the zoo.  I was thinking of the zoo back home… the Houston zoo.  The seasons came and went and I always seemed to let time get away from me.  Then, it was either too cold or too hot or too many kids to bother going.  This went on year-after-year until we arrived in Birmingham and, finally, had an opportunity to visit the Birmingham Zoo.

 

First, Birmingham is a beautiful place and the zoo was very nice.  We were a tad bit unlucky that particular day in that when we arrived there were school groups there on field trips.  However, that was not long-lived and the place began to clear out soon enough.  We walked from one end of the zoo to the other and got to see, I think, every exhibit.

 

 

But my favorite was the interactive bird sanctuary.  These beautiful creatures really won over my heart and were so personable…

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Oh, please don’t poop…. please don’t poop!

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This guy was trying to nest in my hair!

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OK. OK. If you wait just a minute I’ll take your picture!

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Fast asleep…

 

 

… including these playful little guys.

 

 

And, of course, Mr. Doolittle had no problem attracting friends of his very own…

 

 

May 7, 2016

 

This morning was time for a little clean-up because we had another date night!

 

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We were returning to Alexander City (or thereabouts) to attend a Kentucky Derby Party.  It was held in a 100+/- year old home belonging to friends of Guy and Sue.  It was an honor to be invited and we had a wonderful time!  Craig and I placed a bet on the race… and won!  Well, it was only $18.00, but we still won!  I think our ‘profit’ was $6.00.

 

Allow me to share some photos of this lovely home…

 

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They even prepared Mint Juleps for their guests…

 

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… but CAUTION!! This is what can happen if you have too many!

 

 

 

Silly, don’t you think! Some of us outgrew this years ago!  (I can honestly say I never fell down.)  Her natural reflex kicked in and Sue tried to catch this guy as he was falling and ended up pulling a muscle.  I’m just glad she didn’t suffer a more serious injury.  Lesson to be learned:  Never try to catch a falling drunk.

 

And, this is MaryRush.  Yes, that’s her real name.  She’s a true Southern Belle and can really put on that ‘suthun cham’.  She was one of my favorites.

 

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And, finally, this is a home across the street from where the party was held.  I was told that someone from Chicago has purchased it and that it needs a lot of tender loving care.  What a work of art!

 

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Hang in there with me.  I’ll be back, soon, with more! Thanks for coming along for the ride.


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Where, oh where…

Alabama

03/31/16 – 04/26/16

Where, oh where have we gone?  Where have we been?  What in the heck are we doing? Well, hang on tight and I’ll begin to tell you!

After repairs were made the day we left San Felipe, TX, we headed to Livingston, TX.  We needed to pick up our mail there, anyway, so we stayed overnight at the Escapees RV Park on our way to meet up with Guy and Sue.  Guy and Sue are friends we met at an RV-Dreams rally in Sevierville, TN back in April 2014, making them unofficial members of our Class of 2014.  I say “unofficial” because are no “official” members, really. As I have mentioned in the past, we are a group of like-minded individuals who attended the above-mentioned rally who went full-time in 2014, and who remain in contact to this day.  Even though we tend to scatter, our paths do cross from time to time.  Sometimes even frequently.

Guy and Sue were at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, AL the first week in April.  This is the location from which Guy would begin his thirty-nine radiation treatments that would continue through May 23.  We spent a week together at Oak Mountain.

What else do firefighters do?

Sue, and Guy... strummin' on his old banjo

Sue, and Guy… strummin’ on his old banjo

The day prior to our moving on down the road, Lee and Tracy (Class of 2014) dropped by for a visit. (So very sorry. I didn’t get any photos.) It was good to finally see them again since we last visited in the Outer Banks about a year prior.  Lee and Tracy had recently spent time in Louisiana with Bridget and Pat.  Although Bridget and Pat are not quite full-timers, we do consider them as part of our Class of 2014.  Bridget is a professional couture cookie crafter and makes the most amazingly beautiful and delicious cookies you can ever imagine.  (Visit her Facebook page here.)  It was so thoughtful and kind of her to send a care package to me and Craig.  Here’s what Craig thought about Bridget’s yummy works of art!

Almost too pretty to eat!

Almost too pretty to eat!

OK. I took a bite... and it's oh sooo DE-LISH!

OK. I took a bite… and it’s oh sooo DE-LISH!

We then moved on closer to the center where Guy would continue receiving his treatments.  Destination: Hoover, AL.  Our “home” for the next six weeks would be at the Hoover Met RV Park.  Sue tried to prepare us by repeatedly telling us that it was “just a parking lot”, but we found it to actually be a very nice parking lot.  We parked at the end of an aisle, door-to-door so that when our awnings were out we had a totally covered courtyard outside our doors.

Being at the end of the aisle provided us with a very pretty view of trees, trees, and more trees which made us feel as though we really were camping in a state park.  We were happy with the location, but even happier that we could be with Guy and Sue and lend them our support.

During our six weeks in Hoover, we had plenty of time to do many things.  Once again, Craig attempted to thin out, clean, and reorganize the basement.

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I can’t promise it still looks as nice as it once did, but an attempt was made nevertheless.  Craig managed to release his grip on many items and we were fortunate enough that Guy and Sue’s daughter, Kristi, agreed to come pick up the excess and take it off our hands.  During the visit, little Craig was in awe of big Craig’s firefighter helmet.  Little Craig was so excited when big Craig asked him if he would like to wear it.  What little boy doesn’t want to be a firefighter!

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Too cute for words!

Isn’t this the cutest thing you have ever seen!

Guy seemed to be holding up well through his radiation treatments, better than any of us had imagined, so we ventured out often. We were invited to join Guy and Sue for a church fundraiser on April 16 at White Acres Farm just outside of Auburn.  On the way, we saw this tiny house.  It even has a screened-in porch.  Yes, I could live in it!  So cute.

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The farm was such a beautiful place that I’m not quite sure which pictures not to post.  Here are some of the best of the best!

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The event was outstanding and a great time was had by all.  Because the fundraiser would take us later into the night than is our “normal” routine, we decided to spend the night in a local hotel.  (Thank you Guy and Sue!)

The next day we returned to our homes in Hoover, but not before Guy and Sue took us to the marina on Lake Martin which is where their last home was located before they, too, hit the road.

The boys kept busy…

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… and there was always plenty of food!

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Finally, Sue and I had a ‘girl’s day out’. We went shopping, had lunch, and played Bunko after dinner with a group of ladies from her church.  I had never played Bunko before and, believe it or not, I came in second.  Again, another wonderful day with lots of fun!

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Stay tuned.  There’s more to come!


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Homeward bound…

San Felipe, TX

By Saturday, January 30, we had thrown all of our belongings into the rig and planned our departure from Shipshewana, IN.  We were headed home to Texas!  When I say “thrown”, that is exactly what we did. There was no time to put anything in its place as we had, understandably, grown weary of the whole situation we had found ourselves in and were more than ready to get “home”.  And, after all, home is where the heart is, right?  Besides, Bill and Kelly were passing through Texas on their way to Arizona and we certainly did not want to miss out on another opportunity to spend time with friends of a feather.  After all, how many ‘plans’ have we already had to cancel since last summer while our lives were put on lockdown?

Our plan was to take 3 days getting home.  We did not leave Shipshewana until around noon, and drove 8-9 hours the first day.  The second day we drove 13.5 hours, and 4 hours the third day.  The last day also included a stopover in Livingston, TX where we had our new home and the truck inspected, and the rig registered.  We stayed in hotels along the way for the simple reason we did not have a bed to sleep in.  Actually, we do have a bed but it was rendered unusable because it was heaping with stuff we had thrown on it when we threw everything in!  Lucky for us, Lifestyle paid for our hotel rooms along the way!

Although our trip home was long, it was pure relief to be back on the road again.  And even though we had a lot of work ahead of us setting up our new home on wheels, we were finally able to relax and take things… one day at a time. But not before we experienced this at a truck stop.

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Oh, poor fella!

I was so overwhelmed with embarrassment for him that I had a conversation with Craig about whether I should inform him that he had a hitch hiker on his back… or not.  Craig said “not”!  So, I kept my mouth shut.  But, I’m still humiliated for the guy!

We had reservations at our favorite state park in close proximity to family.  Our original reservations were two weeks in my name, two weeks in Craig’s name, and the final two weeks, again, in my name.  (A fancy way of skinning the cat, as they say!)  Well, that was our original plan!  As many of you know, state parks generally limit a stay for two weeks at a time, then you must leave for two weeks before you can return.  That was not the rule in our case.  The staff at this park have come to know us as not only past guests, but for the things Craig (mostly) does for others while we are staying there.  For example, the park director was fresh out of surgery and back home when she noticed a leak in the house she lives in at the park.  Craig was summoned to check it out. In no time at all, he had the leak fixed, preventing a major disaster. On another occasion, a park visitor had just arrived at the park for the weekend to celebrate her teenage daughter’s birthday when she locked her keys in her car.  The park host (who was parked next to us) told the lady, “No problem.  I know just who to call!”  A short while later, Craig had broken into her car, retrieved her keys, and they were happy campers!  “They can stay as long as they want”, the director told the entire staff. And that’s what we did.  We ended up staying there for two solid months, and loved every minute of it.

Upon arrival at the park this time around, we had our work cut out for us.  I was working on the inside while Craig was outside.  Did I say “working”?

 

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Working hard… or hardly working?

Soon, I began to overhear conversation. “Who in the world has he found to talk to already?”  So, I stuck my head outside just to see a couple of familiar faces.  It was Peg and Michelle whom we met at the 2014 Spring RV-Dreams Rally in Sevierville, TN!  Yes, folks, it is a very small world!  They were originally going to stay at another campground, but decided to go a bit farther down the highway and check out this park.  When they parked across the street from our site, they saw “Lifestyle” on our rig and thought it might be us.  Then they looked at our truck and decided it probably was us.  That is when they walked over and I heard Craig chatting with them outside.  Needless to say, I was shocked to see them standing there!

Now, the Class of 2014 (consisting of those of us who met at an RV-Dreams rally in Sevierville, TN and went full-time in 2014) has an unspoken rule of etiquette whereby if it is a travel day, dinner is cooked for the travelers by those they are traveling to meet.  Not in this instance, however.  It was obvious to Peg and Michelle that we were in over our heads and in no shape to even think about dinner, much less cook it.  So, they offered to have us over for dinner.  And it was de‑lish!  Thank you Peg and Michelle for the scrumptious dinner and wonderful hospitality! (Sorry! I was too tired to even think about pics.)

Still plodding along, we only had 2.5 days remaining to get set up enough to welcome Bill and Kelly who would be visiting us for about 4 days.  By the time they arrived, we were settled ‘enough’ to cook for them.

A couple of days later we all decided to check out Mardi Gras in Galveston, TX…

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… and had a nice lunch together at Yaga’s on the Strand…

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Liquid lunch?

… just across the street from the Galveston cruise ship terminal.

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The photo below is for the benefit of our inner circle.  You see, our friend Greg has been “licking” things along his and Cori’s journey, so some of us will occasionally “lick” things for Greg’s benefit.  This one’s for you, Greg!

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Kelly licking the smoke stack of a Carnival cruise ship

It was great seeing Bill and Kelly, again, and catching up.  So long, friends.  Until we meet again… 20160208_112012 (2)

During our two months back home, we had many opportunities to visit with family.  Usually, we have as many of the family out to the park to visit so they can “experience” our lifestyle.

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We were so very pleased that our nieces and nephews got so excited about camping that they came back the next weekend to camp with us; however, not before purchasing a tent, etc. on Amazon Prime.  They were so excited that they cut their work day short on Friday to get to the park.

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We were even home to celebrate my sister’s birthday…

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I love you!

… and Easter!

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Each time we return home, it makes it just that much more difficult to leave.  Especially this time around.  Two months is a long time to be with those you love.  In a GOOD way!  I must say… I do not miss the traffic or the traffic jams!  Give me a cornfield in the middle of Shipshewana, IN any day of the week!

A few days before leaving Texas Craig was having trouble pushing the handle to the black (sewer) tank back in. We didn’t think anything major was wrong… that it just wasn’t working the way it should.  The day before our departure was a different story, however.  While emptying and cleaning out the tanks, Craig found a 6” screw in the hose.  OMG!  So that’s what the problem was… or was it? The next morning as we were packing up and getting ready to lift the jacks and hit the road, we noticed the black tank was leaking.  Oh, geez.  What to do now…

As I was walking to the dumpster to offload the last bit of trash, I said a prayer.  I told God that I just couldn’t do this anymore and asked for a sign, a resolution… something.  We are so tired of the issues we have had over the past 9 months.  Where do we go from here?  Well, I returned to the rig, hopped in the truck, Craig put it in “drive”, and we were headed off.  Where, we had no clue.  Lo and behold, at that very moment a mobile RV tech pulled into the site directly across the street.  Literally within minutes of praying, my prayers were answered!

Craig spoke with the guy about our issue.  Turns out, he was the owner of the RV repair company.  He said if we would go to his shop he would be there as soon as possible.  So, we drove the 7.4 miles away and waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Finally, he showed up, but had not eaten lunch.  So after his lunch we were finally able to back into his shop to find out why the black tank was leaking.

While waiting in the truck, Craig decided to go into the rig and get us something to drink.  The windows were down and we were “enjoying” the beautiful weather.  Shortly thereafter, I heard Craig calling me with a panicked voice.  “Dear, you need to come here quick!”  I ran back to the rig to find out what was wrong.  He said, “You’re not going to believe this!”  I said, “What?”  He replied, “Take a look at the refrigerator.”  I did.  The refrigerator had fallen backward and the doors were pinched opened slightly.  WHAT??? Yep, the framing around the empty space at the bottom that supports the flooring (if you want to call it that) under the refrigerator had busted loose and the entire surface had collapsed, causing the refrigerator to fall backwards. Uh, REALLY?  No way. Yes, WAY!  The shop would look at that, too… maybe.

20160331_121126Getting back to the black tank issue, the RV tech crawled under our rig and began working on the black tank.  As he was pulling the gate valve off the black tank he noticed something quite unusual.  Something he had never seen before.  Neither had we!

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Yes, that is what you see!  The other end of the 6” screw Craig found just the day before.  A full-size screwdriver in the black tank!!!  WHO in their right mind…? Oh, never mind!  So, a new gate valve was installed prior to the final clean-out of the contents insulating the black tank.

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Can you see stuff running off at the bottom?

Words cannot describe how very sorry we felt for the poor fella who had no idea what kind of $hitty job he would run in to that day.

There was just enough time to fix the black tank, but not the refrigerator.  They did, however, prop it up enough for us to travel to our next destination, but not before someone’s knee used to push the refrigerator back put a big dent in the front of the freezer door.  Having finished repairs for the day, it was already 5:30 by the time we left.  And we still needed to fuel up.  After a quick stop for fuel and fuel (pizza to go), we were on our way to Livingston.  Luckily, the new section of the tollway had just opened a couple of days earlier, saving us at least 30 minutes in time, not to mention avoiding traffic all the way around Houston.  Who needed that?

See.  There is a silver lining to every cloud!

 


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Homelessness, and 217 nights later…

Birmingham, AL

Do you ever auto-recall certain thoughts that crossed your mind at some point during your life, even if they were a lifetime ago?  I do.  When I was 26 years young, I recall saying to myself, “Self, I wonder what it would be like to be homeless.”  Well, maybe I should have somehow done everything in my power to erase that particular thought from the ‘ol memory bank because I now know what it is like.  Well, to an extent.  Yes, we were homeless for the first time in our lives… for 217 nights!

Recall…

We spent a total of a little over seven (7) months in a hotel in Shipshewana, IN due to a frame break on our Evergreen Lifestyle 38RS fifth wheel.  She was not an old rig.  After all, we had her built to our specifications, purchased her on September 10, 2014, hit the road on September 11, 2014 (an easy date to remember), and were only living in her ten (10) months before returning her to the repair center in Middlebury, IN for minor repairs.  Two (2) months later we learned that our Baby Girl was doomed. She would be no more.

Fast forward…

The year 2015 ended and we welcomed the New Year in with a bang.  We attended a party hosted by the Farmstead Inn, at the Farmstead Inn.  It was a lot of fun and, as usual, we helped do whatever we could to assist the staff.  The next day we even helped clean up.

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After ringing in the New Year, a few more weeks rolled by and we eventually celebrated Craig’s birthday.  Well, the hotel did!  We woke up to this note on our door…

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… and a birthday surprise!

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I’m telling you… the employees at and the owners of the Farmstead Inn really stepped up to the plate.  They all treated us like family (royalty, really) and we fell in love with them all.  It is difficult to put into words how much they went out of their way for us, showed how much they cared, and how much they mean to us!

Just a few short days later, on Thursday, January 28, 2016, we closed on our new Evergreen Lifestyle 39FB.  (The transaction was what is known as a “substitution of collateral”.  This means we did not have to pay sales tax on the new rig, thank goodness!)  Long story, but it was the only fifth wheel available at the factory that would even come close to resembling Baby Girl.  They fixed her all up for us with upgrades and minor modifications.  They even had our entire solar system removed from Baby Girl and installed on the new rig.  They pretty much did whatever we wanted. Yes, that was nice of Lifestyle, but was it worth being homeless for 217 nights?  I don’t think so!

Most full-time RVers name their rig… something.  We have named our new rig “Gracie”… for two reasons.  One, she is mostly grey and, two, it is only by the ‘grace’ of God we made it through to the end.  One might imagine that being cooped up with your husband/wife in a hotel room for months on end might make some days, well… longer than others; that things might get a little tense at times.  That was not really the case for us.  We had our moments (albeit very few), but we also knew we were in for a long ride so we might as well hold on tight to each other and face each and every new day as a blessing.  And that’s exactly what we did!  It not only strengthened us individually, but as a couple. I have long had issues with patience.  I was like my Grandma Hazel.  As a child I remember her saying, “Patience, hell!  I’m going to kill someone!”  I take after my grandmother in that regard.  Actually, I should say I took after my grandmother.  You see, I prayed and prayed and prayed some more that the Good Lord would teach me patience throughout our very long ordeal, and I believe He has pretty much accomplished His goal and answered my prayers, too!  And maybe, just maybe that is why we were stuck in a hotel room for so long… He had a LOT of work to do!  I no longer resemble my former self, for I am now so much mellower.  Many of our friends have questioned how we could not be upset by what we have been through.  I answer them in one simple word… G-R-A-C-E!

A final word…

I read these words on a poster in one of the little shops in Shipshewana and wanted to share them with you:

 Try Jesus!

If you don’t like Him…

 … The Devil will always take you back!

Life is short,

Death is sure,

Sin is the cause,

Christ is the cure.

                                                                                 A-men!


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Answered prayers…

Shipshewana, IN

Once again, we rose early and headed straight to the factory. We arrived shortly before 9:00 and walked straight through the front door in to the back where we met Jesse at the rig. Of course, we had no clue what to expect as far as progress. Sometimes, Jesse’s time is not his own. I must say, however, things certainly looked different than they did the last time we visited. With all my lists in hand and after the cordial greetings, I began walking around the rig checking things off. We went over everything with a fine tooth comb. Then, it was… Jesse, can you tweak this? Sure! Jesse, can you tweak that? Sure! A little extra trim here, please, Jesse? Sure! A couple more trim nails there? Sure! Can you drill a hole here for our plug? Sure! Jesse, can you add a little more…? Sure! Can you adjust this, please? Sure! Jesse, I can’t open this window. Can you help? Sure! Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Oh, and the last window has been replaced! Six hours later, I am so very happy to report… mission accomplished. Yes, everything on our lists has been checked off and the rig is finished!

Next step… PDI (pre-delivery inspection). I just received an e-mail from the Director of Service & Warranty, Sherry, who said the rig will go to PDI on Monday; however, PDI probably will not happen until late Tuesday. I replied that we need a day to clean the rig (more on this to follow), two days to move in, three days travel time to get home, and we wanted to be on the road no later than this coming Friday, January 29th, at the very latest. So, I could very easily see things going this way… Monday – clean; Tuesday – PDI; Wednesday – close on rig and begin moving in; Thursday – complete move-in; Friday – leave town; Saturday – 2nd day of travel; Sunday – arrive in Livingston; Monday – register rig, inspect rig and truck, and complete final leg of our journey home. Now, that is how I would do it. Let’s see how it really goes down! I explained our timeline in my e-mail and stated my plea, requesting that everyone make the most efficient use of time over this next week. We shall see how that goes.

As far as cleaning the rig, yes, I want to clean it. Here’s the deal… we all know how much people care about their job and providing excellent customer service nowadays, right? Ain’t happening. I’ve lost all faith. So, I would rather they just stay out of my house, and let me clean. Period. I would still have to clean up after them, anyway, right?

And, we just need to get home. Kelly and Bill will be passing through Texas on their way out west on February 4th, and not only do we want to see them, but we just need to see them. We all need a hug. I love Bill’s hugs, and Kelly loves Craig’s hugs, and I love Kelly’s hugs, too! Bill and Craig don’t hug. LOL!

Remember “Jesse”? Well, I have permission to reveal his true identity. His is one of the original Carriage employees and has worked in the RV industry for more than 30 years. Interestingly enough, he has sulky raced competitively for the past 23 years. His horses are his solace after a long day in the factory. He said the first thing he does when he gets home from work is visit his horses. They keep him sane. Without further ado, I am very happy and pleased to announce who I believe is the best RV tech in the entire world… Marlin!

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See that box on the far end of the counter? That is a goodie box from my mom in Texas. She baked for two solid days, filled up the box, and sent it USPS… along with a thank you card to Marlin. (Yes, she is that excited about the rig finally being finished!) We were sweating the delivery (after all, it was sent via US Postal Service) and kept making phone call after phone call back to the hotel waiting for the package. Nothing. Eventually, the hotel called us to let us know the box had been delivered, but to the wrong address. Did I know where Shipshe Harness was located in town? Of course! So, off I went. It was already 1:00 and the plant crew leaves for the day at 2:00. I was on a mission.  I walked into Shipshe Harness and the guy said, “When I saw Craig’s name on the package I was wondering how it got delivered here!” Lo and behold, this is the gentleman we met a while back and who we helped with turkeys for Thanksgiving! So, everyone here, it seems, knows our name! By the way, Craig’s goodie box was held up in South Bend, IN. Mom sent him one, too, for his birthday which is Monday!

Marlin was taken aback, for sure. He loves sweets and when he opened the box and began to realize what all was in it (including pralines!), his grin grew wider with each individual package he picked up. When he saw the Snicker Doodles, he stuck one in his mouth and was quite happy, wishing he had another cup of coffee. He deserves every bite, I must say!

After leaving the plant, we celebrated this major milestone by having lunch and sharing an ice cream sundae at Dairy Queen!

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Sure, it’s obvious that I am more excited about introducing you to Marlin than anything else right now. Yes, a huge burden has been lifted and I have seen the proof with my own eyes. All repairs/mods are finished. So why am I not jumping out of my skin with excitement? I can answer that in four little words 1) the 2) last 3) seven 4) months.

The Auction Restaurant (where we stripped earlier this week) will be open for business tomorrow.  We already have an invitation to have breakfast there and then attend the horse auction. Afterward, we will go to the local Amish grocery store and load up on herbs, bread flour, and other miscellaneous items as we begin preparations to wind down our journey here.  All I can say is… it will certainly be bitter sweet!

This week will be crazy busy so I will post updates as I can. Thanks for visiting!