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Nothing Like a Little Pressure!

Today's mail brought an item that added pressure to this neophyte blogger's effort. It was a brochure from South Dakota, delivered by our trusty rural mail carrier. I know some of you are skeptical that a brochure from South Dakota has the ability to push a pressure point, but as you will see, South Dakota is no small travel task. We had planned on being in the Dakotas for two to three weeks and then moving on to Washington and spending a couple of weeks there, but that has gone down the drain. Unless I miss my guess, the Dakotas will take at least a month, and that appears to be moving at a fast pace. As an example, are you aware the ranch where Teddy Roosevelt moved after his wife died is a national monument? I didn't even know it was in the Dakotas. The big thing for me is all of the Native American sites, which we have heard about for most of our lives, are there for the experience. I would really appreciate comments from anyone from the Dakotas or from those that have visited the area. Let's see, there is Mount Rushmore and Sitting Bull and .... Okay ( the old high school English teacher would skin me for using that word), now our carefully laid out trip, which we so dutifully wrote in Jell-O, has to be replanned. I think the smart thing to do is to hit the lower part of South Dakota on the way back in the fall. We had talked about seeing Yellowstone on the way back, so a little zag up through South Dakota would be doable. I understand there is a not to miss scenic road going North from Yellowstone, so if you have any knowledge about it, please let us know. The next entry will cover how we plan a trip and some of the resources we use. Around our neck of the woods, trip planning is similar to backing into a campsite in the dark. For you guys out there, the secret is to say, "Yes maam" and just make the trip last longer. Works every time. Hope to see you down the road.

Roodriver

Roodriver

 

Life's little challenges

First, let me say I appreciate the comments to this blog people make. I may not respond to all of them but I do read all of them. One such comment said, if our relationship can survive parking directions it can survive anything. That brought a smile to my face. I can appreciate that. But it also started me thinking. In all honesty, since we got some walkie-talkies a few years ago, parking hasn't been that much of a challenge for us. (It does make you wonder what the backup camera folks are thinking though -- putting a microphone in a backup camera that is mounted directly above a diesel engine - like I am supposed to hear what my wife is saying above that noise?). Our challenge is unhooking the Saturn toad. I love my little Saturn. It's a great car. And my Blue Ox tow bar works well. However. I have learned the hard way that the pins are nearly impossible to remove unless the car is straight. That has led to my usual practice of letting my wife register for us when we arrive at a campground while I unhook the car. So far, so good. Then the fun begins. You see, our Saturn is a 5-speed manual, and my wife is not comfortable with driving a manual transmission. If the ground is level, all is well, no problem. But if there are hills anywhere in the campground, ah, that's where her anxiety goes up. So then we have to negotiate how we are going to do this -- do I try to calm her anxiety, do I drive the motorhome and then come back and get the Saturn. What are we going to do? She is NOT going to drive the motorhome, despite my many attempts to get her to do it, so that's not an option. We always come up with a solution, so what we do must be working for us. But it's amazing how life's little challenges always seem to present themselves even in the most long-expected and pleasurable of circumstances. Guess it really is true as I always tell my students -- Murphy was an optimist.

RelationshipDoc

RelationshipDoc

 

Going Full-Time

This is new for me, so if I goof, please let me know. We are Ken, Nancy and Katie Too and have decided to "go for it" and hit the road full-time. We have a 40-foot diesel Dutch Star fondly known as "Miss Froggy." We tow a Saturn "tad pole" and have just recently become the proud owners of a three-wheel golf cart which we named "little bit." So far we have traveled around South Carolina, Georgia and made short visits to Florida. Starting the 28th of this month, we will be traveling full-time, volunteering at state parks, and since Ken is retired military, we will have access to bases in every state. The one big drawback that we see so far is how to get our mail. We have signed up for paperless billing on most everything, but there are still going to be some things that will get mailed. Any suggestions from any of you experienced full-timers? I hope to get some photos posted soon. For now, thanks for any suggestions.

stevens4957

stevens4957

 

Why We Travel the RV Way

Some people just don't get the RV lifestyle, and wonder why we enjoy our motorhome so much. When we tell them about the fantastic people we meet on the road and the fun we have at rallies, their eyes kind of glaze over, and if we are lucky, they make some sort of intelligible sounds. Well, the other day we received one of those, "If I had to spend two days couped up with ... much less five months, I'd go crazy and probably kill her" comments. Then the big question, "What do ya'll (we're Southern) get out of it"? Of course, "it" is our summer travel. So for him and anyone else who might be interested, here is my explanation for why we want to spend our summer in about 400vsquare feet of traveling home. Something you must learn about Pat and me is we like to eat varied and unusual foods. Well, they don't have to be so varied or unusual. I guess you can say that we like to eat. To give you an idea, while in NewFoundland, Pat fell in love with a dish made from salt cod, mashed potatoes, onions and bacon. It tasted great but was cholesterol city, better known as instant heart attack. Before last summer's foray to the Outer Banks, Pat heard on the NPR show, Splendid Table, about the best Bar B Q in North Carolina, so we checked it out on the way down. This pulled pork wasn't the best I had eaten, so we didn't try any more Bar B Q in North Carolina. I have always been a history buff, thanks to Mr. Barfield in high school. At one point in our lives, we would stop for every roadside history marker, but now, due to the size of our rig, we only stop where there is room or when we are in the towed. It never ceases to amaze me about all of the history we are not taught in school. This is one of the reasons we stay on the back roads, so that we can get some of this historical flavor. It may take us longer to get somewhere, but we really enjoy the journey. No matter where our ultimate destination is, we always start by going to visit Pat's family and our friends living in Indiana. To some, it is weird, this thing we have for traveling 400 miles, making a U turn and then heading out for a destination a thousand miles away. We have also made a number of friends in the RV world, so it isn't unusual to detour for a visit. It is funny how many good friends you can make at rallies and campgrounds. The RV experience has taught us the importance of stopping to visit friends when you have the chance. Some things just shouldn't be put off. This last one was tough to put in order of priority, since it sometimes sneaks up on us. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I can't help be amazed by some of the places we go. Some of the most fantastic sunsets I have ever seen were in Monroe, Louisiana, and some of the most awesome storms were on the Outer Banks. Bear in mind, we haven't been all over the country yet, so the best places list may change. We love waterfalls and mountain overlooks, so we don't pass many of these by. By the way, does anyone keep count of the waterfalls that are billed as the highest east of the Mississippi? There are just so many things that can't be seen or sampled from an airplane or traveling on President Eisenhower's road system, so we go by RV. Perhaps we are just gluttons for the sensual pleasures this mode of recreation offers or perhaps we are just experiencing what life has to offer, if you are willing to look for it. That 400 square feet looks really good right now.

Roodriver

Roodriver

 

Planning for the Summer

I'm Ward, my bride is Pat, and we love to get in our Fleetwood Bounder and hit the road. One thing you will notice about us is we stay off the interstate system as much as possible. Pat is a big fan of a number of travel books like "America From the Road" and "Off the Beaten Path" so we have been known to take 200-mile detours because she has found something that sounds interesting. Once, we drove from Southern New Mexico to Northern New Mexico so that we could get some bread baked by Native Americans in traditional earthen ovens. Patty and I like to volunteer our time at government facilities around the country. Because we give our time and effort, the facility provides us a site for the motorhome and provides electricity, water and sewer, and hopefully the companionship of fellow RVers. Since we have only been retired for two years, our experiences have been a little limited, but truly enjoyable. The first volunteer experience was at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Monroe Louisiana. This small refuge is a really neat place and I would recommend a visit there when you are in the area. It was also a neat place to work because the staff and local volunteers are so dedicated and fun to be around. Last summer we volunteered at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Cape Hatteras. This refuge is a must stop for anyone going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If you go in that direction, make sure to stop there first and pick up a list of things to do on the refuge. There is something going on at Pea Island every day, especially for kids. They offer family canoe trips, turtle talks, bird walks, wolf howlings and bear watches to name a few. The gift shop is one of the best we have ever seen. Fantastic place to work with some really neat people. This year we will be volunteering at a lighthouse in Newport, Oregon, so this blog will concentrate on that experience. We live in Suches, Georgia, which is in the North Georgia Mountains, so our trip will begin here. Since this is a favorite vacation area for many people, I'll try to post some pictures of the area and write about places to go around here before we leave. We anticipate leaving Suches the first to third week of April. I have a little medical procedure that may cause us a delay of a week or two. From Suches we go to Decatur, Indiana, to visit Pat's aunt and cousins. Aunt Jean is 83 years young and is a real treat to be around. She has a strong inquisitive mind and an adventuresome spirit. We'll have a couple of fun posts while at her house, so stay tuned. Leaving Decatur, the plan is to go up the Upper Peninsula of Michigan cross the Mackinaw Bridge and pick up U.S. Highway 2. We will take US 2 across country to Washington State with numerous side trips along the way, and will arrive in Oregon June 1st. We will be in Oregon until around the first of September. We haven't thought about the return trip, but it will probably be through Los Angeles and back across Utah and Wyoming etc. The next few weeks will be devoted to trip planning and the process we employ. I'll talk about books, websites and other sources of good information. If you have suggestions of places to visit, please leave us a comment, and if we are going to be in your area, let's have lunch or coffee. See you on the road. Ward

Roodriver

Roodriver

 

Adventures in the Ozarks by RV!

RV Adventures in the Ozarks of Arkansas By Pam and Bob Stephens The Arkansas' Ozark Mountains are stunningly beautiful and offer views that are hard to beat anywhere else in the world, but nature is just where an Ozarks vacation begins. There are tons of things to do in this area, and one of the best ways to get a taste of it all is to pile into the RV and give RV camping in the Ozarks of Arkansas a try. There's a little something for everyone in the Ozarks, making it the perfect family getaway. Of course the natural beauty is what first drew people to the Ozarks in the first place, and there are many RV parks in the area that cater to nature lovers hoping to soak it all in. Places like the Denton’s Ferry RV Park, http://www.whiteriver.net/dentonrv give RV travelers with a love of the great outdoors a home base from which they can explore mountain trails, fish in one of that many rivers in the area, like the Bull Shoals and the Buffalo, go white water rafting or even scuba diving. Those who simply want to get away from it all can kick back at these nature loving resorts and take it all in. For people who prefer a taste of local culture, RV camping in the Ozarks of Arkansas can be a delight as well. Pull into the White Buffalo Resort http://www.whitebuffaloresort.com or the Blue Heron Campground and Resort http://www.blueheroncampground.com , and head out from there to enjoy the high life in nearby Harrison or across the border in Branson. You'll find great shopping and restaurants ranging from international to down home. Most RV parks in the Ozarks are in easy reach of local attractions, but they tend to fill up quickly during the summer months, so booking ahead is a good idea. If you're traveling during the off season, call ahead and make sure your park of choice is open. Contact us if you want any further information! Bob@campgroundimages.com

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Perfect Getaways - Arkansas RV Camp Sites

Written by Pam and Bob Stephens A vacation in Arkansas can mean different things to different people, but no matter what your ideal Arkansas vacation is, a good way to experience it all is by RV. RV parks are scattered all around the state to let you get a taste of the beautiful scenery and the local culture and heritage of the area. If you're looking for a place to berth your RV so you can settle in right now, check out these Arkansas RV camp sites: • If you are craving a completely peaceful, tranquil getaway with none of the distractions of the modern world, then Hog Heaven RV Park http://www.hogheavenrvpark.com in Jasper is the one for you. This camp site is on the famed Scenic Highway 7, which has been heralded in many travel journals as one of the ten most scenic spots in the world. You get the best of nature for a bargain price at Hog Heaven. • If fine dining and shopping are more your cup of tea, then consider the Arkadelphia Campground http://www.arkadelphiacampground.com near Hot Springs. From this base, you'll be able to take in beautiful, historic downtown Hot Springs, and you'll also be well within reach of the major outlet mall center in Branson, Missouri. • For water sports lovers and fishing enthusiasts, it has to be His Place http://www.hisplaceresort.net on the White River Resort. This place is all about the river, and they offer many activities on site to help you take advantage of it. There are also hiking trails and mountain bike rentals on site for those who prefer dry land. (We are so taken with this one! Check out their website and slideshow! Amazing fish, colors, oh let’s pack up the RV and go right now!) Which Arkansas is your Arkansas? With these Arkansas RV camp site options, you don't have choose just one - load up the RV, hit the road, and experience a sampling of everything Arkansas has to offer.

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Want to Get Close to Nature in the RV?

written by Bob and Pam Stephens Want to Get Close to Nature? Here’s some great ones! You can't beat seeing the state of Arkansas from the comfort of your RV. From the Ozarks to the Delta, this state is rich in natural wonders. What better way to enjoy it all than at a great Arkansas RV campground? The state is chock full of places that you can use as home base for your RV as you bask in the surroundings, and many of the Arkansas RV campgrounds not only offer a safe and friendly place to stay but many amenities like horseback riding and water sports on sight. For a great Arkansas adventure, give these RV campgrounds a try: • For a family adventure in the Ozarks, pull up to the Shady Oaks RV Park and Campground http://www.camptheoaks.com This Harrison based scenic resort offers a swimming pool, shaded hook up, pull through sites and stunning views. It's convenient to local attractions like kayaking in the Buffalo River, Silver Dollar City and shopping at the Branson outlet mall. • Any fishing fan will love a trip to Lake Poinsett State Park http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2588/places/45288 in the Delta of northeastern Arkansas. There are tons of water sports to be had on site, lots of room for cookouts and picnics, and plenty of space for camping. • To see the scenic Ouachita part of the state, near Hot Springs, Arkansas, go for the Cloud 9 RV Park http://www.cloudninerv.com (see our aerial slideshow here which Bob and I took), or Hot Springs RV Park. This family friendly RV resort is open year round and combines natural beauty with proximity to the picturesque town of Hot Springs. There's something in Hot Spring for everyone from the art lover to the history buff - this is one Arkansas RV campground you don't want to miss. A tip for enjoying these RV parks: they fill up quickly, especially during the summer months, so book ahead so you're not disappointed!

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Southern Arkansas RV Camping from A to D!

Southern Arkansas RV Camping- From A- Alligators to D- Diamonds! by Bob and Pam Stephens From Alligators to Diamonds…I know which one I’d prefer! Southern Arkansas is more of an agricultural farming area, with fields of cotton, soy and rice. There are Cypress trees growing out of the water and many dead tree stumps sticking out of the water, reminiscent of Louisiana's swamps. The lakes are not for waterskiing in some cases or swimming. Some of the lakes have dangerous residents: alligators, snakes. Whatever you choose to do in or around the water make sure you check with the local officials for safety precautions. The South Eastern area of Arkansas, adjacent to the Mississippi river, is a great area The Community of Lake Village was very nice. There were several Campgrounds in close in: Lake Chicot State Park and Chicot County Park. There were no trees standing in the water so it appears to be ok for swimming and waterskiing, but always double check with local officials at the park. The downtown area has a great feel; historic sites. Do you love steaks and grillin’? The town of El Dorado has the best steak cook off once a year. Enter your own, or pay a fee to purchase steaks to eat for dinner that have been entered in the cook-off contest. Many people come to this, and it is known far and wide, so have your reservations make early as RV Parks fill up fast! Magnolia is close by for campers and is very nice, with some RV parks available. Along the Arkansas River in the Southern part of the state are several Corps of Eng. Parks. One area that is nice is the Pendleton Bend area. Park your RV adjacent to the river and have fun. A very nice lake in the South West area is Millwood Lake. It is about 45 minutes North of Texarkana. It's a big lake great for fishing. I've been told, but not confirmed, the lake has some alligators in it. The lake also has many trees in it. Around this lake are several nice Corps of Eng. Parks and a State Park. It's a nice area, so go visit. If the wife is asking for diamonds this year, try your luck at the Crater of Diamonds! You may find a diamond and you will pay for your whole trip! Or not! See their website: http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com “In 1906, John Huddleston, the local farmer who owned this property then, found the first diamonds near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, and started the diamond mining rush. According to the history of Crater of Diamonds State Park, after a series of ill-fated mining ventures, followed by tourist attractions, the site became an Arkansas state park in 1972†(from the Crater of Diamonds website). Contact us at Bob@campgroundimages.com

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Wondering What to Do with the Grandkids?

Send Your Kids or Grandkids to Arkansas Summer Camp! By Bob and Pam Stephens Do you have your grandkids for a part of the Summer? When you are traveling through, stop awhile and let your kids go to camp. They will have a great time, traveling with you and attending a great camp! Why not think about this: Summer camp is a right of passage for many kids. It gives them a chance to have tons of fun away from their parents, but it also gives them a chance to learn new skills, make new friends, and become a little bit more independent - all in a safe environment. While summer camps for kids have been around for quite some time, in recent years there has been an explosion in the different camping options out there. No matter if your child dreams of being a professional chef, a movie star or just wants to spend some days on the lake in a canoe, there is a camp out there to cater to them. In Arkansas, summer camps are especially popular, thanks to all of the beautiful countryside in which to have them. If you're thinking of an Arkansas summer camp for your child or grandchild, consider these options: • Camp Ozark is one of the best known camps in Arkansas and is visited by around 500 campers from all over the country every summer. This nondenominational Christian camp is a traditional kind of camp that simply gets the kids away from the video games and outside, moving around and playing games in the great outdoors. Camp Ozark is located in Mt. Ida. • For your little golfer, the B. Williams Golf School Camp in Bella Vista makes a great choice. This overnight camp invites golfers of all skill levels and gives them a chance to train with professional golfers and college golf coaches. • Camp Subiaco, located in Subiaco, offers go-cart racing, archery, and more. This one is for boys only. The choices for summer camps in Arkansas are almost endless. Keep an eye on your local paper in the spring when ads for summer camps start popping up so you don't miss out on any. Or do a “google†search for camps in the state of Arkansas! Park your RV for a week or so, enjoy the surroundings and let the kids have a “camping†experience like no other! Contact us at Bob@campgroundimages.com

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Home Away From Home?

by Bob and Pam Stephens Looking to Find Your Arkansas Home Away From Home? When you plan an RV trip to Arkansas, the problem won't be finding a decent place to pull up your RV - the problem will be deciding which RV Park you want to call home during your stay. Arkansas RV parks are dotted all over the state, and many of them offer world-class amenities and activities for everyone in the family. The easiest way to narrow down all of your options is probably to figure out what kind of vacation you want. Are you looking for a quiet escape-- some place far away from emails and TV? Do you want to experience old southern charm and heritage? Are you dreaming of reeling in the fish of a lifetime? Arkansas RV Parks are ideal for all of these vacations - you just have to choose which one: • Tom Sawyers' RV Park http://www.tomsawyersrvpark.com in West Memphis, Arkansas, is the perfect place for escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Relax by the Mississippi River or wander the nature trails without a care in mind - and don't even think about firing up the Blackberry. • KOA is well known name in camping, and the KOA Hot Springs RV Park http://www.koa.com/where/ar/04106 provides a great camping spot within a stone’s throw of the historical district of the town of Hot Springs. You'll be able to take in the museums, the shopping, and the fun and then head back for a round of miniature golf on the campsite. • If fishing is your bag, then the White Buffalo RV Park http://www.whitebuffaloresort.com is your place. This RV park is situated where the White River and the Buffalo River meet, and the fishing is legendary. For those less than enthusiastic fisher-people in your group, there are plenty of other activities in the area. Because Arkansas RV parks are so desirable, they do tend to book up quickly. Advance reservations are always recommended to avoid disappointment. We’d love to help you find just the right spot! bob@campgroundimages.com

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Getting accustomed...

It is not like I have not been around the motorhome crowd for a long time. I have worked at Family Motor Coaching magazine since 1989. But it's one thing to write about it, or meet people who know about it, or learn the difference between a converter and an inverter. When the motorhome is sitting your backyard, it's personal. And since I'm the only person in my household, save for one cat, it's really in my face. There's nobody between me and Minnie's generator issues, or her water tank, or the fact that something sticky somewhere is keeping me from knowing exactly how full that black water tank is. I am Minnie's problem-solver, galley-filler, trip planner, and chooser of tunes to play as we travel. This morning, gorgeous frost covered everything outside, and the sun gleamed on Minnie with promise. It may be too cold now, but summer is on its way and we will be also....

Peggy

Peggy

 

What makes our relationships good?

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I am doing some research into what makes marriages strong for those of us who RV. I still have a lot more work to do, but I thought I would share some preliminary results with you. So far, I have found 3 themes. These are in no particular order. The first theme is, "Vacation time." Going out in the RV is like going on vacation. People who affirm this theme say that it's the shared excitement of doing something together that keeps their marriage strong. The second theme is related to the first. It's "Goal setting." Going RVing gives the couple something to look forward to, something to work jointly toward. It's the joy of working together for a common goal that brings them together. The third theme is "Communication." Going RVing gives these couples an "excuse" to talk - something they say they often find difficult to do in their "normal" life. These couples say they find that it is talking together that makes their relationships strong. I am sure there is a lot more to learn. That is why I will be interviewing many more couples over the next few months. If you are willing to help me out, send me a message. I'd love to be able to talk with you. Or, if you see our SeeYa in a Southeast campground, come say howdy. We'd lot to chat. More on the results as I have them.

RelationshipDoc

RelationshipDoc

 

A Place for Everything & Not Much Is In Its Place

Full-Timing was an easy choice. It was the only choice if we wanted to enjoy winter sun in the South and summer's cool breezes in the North. We had burned our bridges behind us. There are no regrets, only vibrant memories of spending our days on the water, then touring on land to new horizons. Not only did we have to consider our ages, but also there were unknowns. Then, at 88, how long would Cor be able to renew his driver's license? How long would my eyes hold out? Or, should I say "eye" as I'm down to one good one, and I am being tracked for a "freckle" on that one's retina. Like the motorhome, the several boats we've owned are affectionately known as "Wasting Assets." One is rarely able to make a profit on either. It was necessary to assume the Dolphin we were admiring would probably be ours for life. We didn't feel we could start small and work our way up because of dropping trade-in values, and that was pre- the current state of affairs. Planning our Get Away took upwards of three months. First order was figuring out exactly what would fill our meager space in our National RV Dolphin motorhome. Beginning at the back of the bus, bedding was needed. The unit had a perfectly presentable innerspring mattress. We gave that to Pete’s RV to use on another used rig. Why? We were very happy with our new 3†thick memory foam topper. This was suggested by my doctor, who informed me the hip pain I was experiencing each night was caused by pressure. Eureka! The topper was totally successful, so it must go with us. The combination of that and the original mattress was too thick to fit under the closet when we pulled in the slide. We needed something thin to go under the king-sized topper. The built-in queen-sized platform is a ¾†plywood board; thick enough to hold us firmly, but more stuffing would make it truly comfortable. Thus began the wild goose chase. We checked out out futon mattresses, but found they are very thick these days. Finally, we remembered Willy D’s, a great discount furniture store in Colchester, VT. Willy told us he had discarded a mattress in the back of the store. It was lying in the snow waiting to be hauled away. We found the wild goose! Wielding my favorite carving knife, while Cor pulled the pillow-top away from the mattress, we hunched over in shin-deep snow and triumphantly performed the separation, all the while praying none of our “normal†friends spied this cannibalization. The exercise was successful – almost. We did need a couple of blankets on top of the board. But that was a good place to carry the extras. Incidentally, have a bad back? This is a great cure – flat but soft. Worth a try. No sagging. Moving forward to the bath compartment, we found plenty of space to store most of our toiletries; soaps, toothpaste, prescriptions, first aid supplies, ad infinitum – much too much as we had belonged to Costco and bought ridiculous quantities of everything from Hydrogen Peroxide to Irish Spring soap. We’re learning to live like the French; go to the store often and buy only what you need…an admirable quality. When it came to cookware, I did practice what I’d learned from living on boats – less is more. We found a nice camp set on sale at Eastern Mountain Sports – two pots, with two pans that doubled as lids. The removable handle is interchangeable. One caveat: when tipping a pan full of food, the handle tends to twist its way out of the bracket. Solution? I found a great 12†heavy teflon-lined frying pan at Goodwill for $2.50. At Page Hardware in Guilford, CT, I found a neat little navy-blue-with-white-speckles double boiler. So much for saving space! But a cook’s gotta have what she needs, right? I regretted leaving my favorite china bakeware in storage, but between space and breakability, they had to stay. One of the things we liked about the Dolphin was the microwave-convection/gas cooktop arrangement. It left us more drawer space, important when we’d be here full-time. I needed all my spices, custard cups for popovers, mini-chopper, egg slicer, whips and ice cream scoop. You know – essentially unessential, but When I Want Them, I Want Them. I don’t like the oven. It is too easy to burn the top of anything you bake as the heat is so near the food. And I can’t broil. If I store the baking things in the oven, we have to remove them every time we just want to microwave a cup of water. That’s where the bed comes in. Maybe that counts as exercise. Moving on, the dinette would be fine if we could find it. Right now, it’s beneath the printer, a bowl of fruit, last week’s mail, five or six road maps, a bottle of Nasonex, two boxes of Baker’s dark chocolate and the molds to cool them in. Cor read the greater the percentage of cocoa in chocolate, the better it is for you. Put another way, enough cocoa and you can rationalize your daily fix. So, he now makes his own chocolate disks using Baker’s, Equal sugar substitute and a little bit of butter. Without the butter, it sticks to your teeth and palate, forcing you to make funny faces. I don’t know how long this will continue. I must go sample his latest batch, so I’ll leave you for now - Arrivederci! I love Italian. We named our first sailboat “Andiamo†- the dinghy was “Derci†and thus, endeth the lesson.

gailandcor@yahoo.com

gailandcor@yahoo.com

 

The Signs Along the Way!

By Pamela Stephens Have you ever noticed that road signs are a lot like life? We’ve gone down the road in our motorhome and sometimes I get bored, just sitting! Big surprise! Sometimes I am reading, sometimes I am crocheting, but sometimes I am lost in a daydream. At other times, I am “observing†the signs of life! • “Wrong Way†or “Do not enter†are important signs when driving a 38-foot motorhome! You really could end up where you don’t belong! A one-way road is definitely hazardous! • “Watch for Falling Rocks!†— And what will you do if you see them falling … hey, good one ... I’d give that a 7.5! Yes, these could really damage our traveling home! • “Dangerous Curves Ahead†— They are not talking about mine! Curves are tricky in a stretch limo and most certainly in a 38-foot motorhome! • “Yield Right of Way†— To whom? Oh, that 53-foot semi truck barreling down the lane we are trying to enter! Yes that is a good thing to do! • “Turn Lights on Next 5 miles†— Is it dark for the next 5 miles? Are there drivers ahead that are worse than the ones we’ve dealt with so far? Well, then, what about the rest of our trip? • “Run Away Ramp†— Is this a ramp that is rebellious? Just how does a ramp run away? And why? Is this the ramp I take when I want to run away? It put me in mind of a book I had read quite some time ago, Milo and the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Perhaps you’ve read it too! It was a fun read, and tongue-in-cheek humor absolutely, but it had so many real truths about life! For instance, there were some destinations on this road where the tollbooth was: A sign along the road said, “Welcome to Expectations!†We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you are going. Of course, some people never go beyond expectations! “The Doldrums†was another area along this highway. “The Doldrums are where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes … where it’s unlawful to think, think of thinking, surmise, presume, reason, meditate or speculate; where the daily schedule consists of daydreaming, napping, dawdling, delaying, lingering, loitering, putting-off-until-tomorrows, loafing, lounging, dillydallying with almost no time left for brooding, lagging, plodding or procrastinating! Perhaps “Dictionopolis†would be more to your liking? “A happy kingdom advantageously located in the Foothills of Confusion; caressed by gentle breezes from the Sea of knowledge, where the ‘word market’ does business and the Minister's Cabinet consists of the Duke of Definition, the Minister of Meaning, the Earl of Essence, the Count of Connotation, and the Undersecretary of Understanding. In Dictionopolis you can pick fresh if’s, and’s, and but’s and get ripe when’s and where’s — juicy words for sale!†What about a visit to the “City of Realityâ€? Or to the “City of Illusions?†In the latter, there are “mirages- things that aren’t really there that you can see very clearly — often easier to see than things that are!†Or then there is the “Island of Confusion†… so “how did we get here? You jumped, of course! — that’s the way most people get here … every time you decide something without having a good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like It or not. It’s such an easy trip, I’ve been here hundreds of times, but getting back isn’t so easy.†I sense the quietness I haven’t heard for awhile, and realize we have stopped for a break. My husband asks why I’ve been so silent and where I’ve been: â€Oh, first the Doldrums," I repllied, "and then the City of Illusions, from where I jumped to the Island of Conclusions … while I’ve been right here all the time!†He looked at me pretty funny, but then dismissed it. He knows me!

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

I've Been Thinking...

Written by Pamela Stephens I was just thinking…I’ve posted a lot of our RV photos taken throughout Canada here on the FMCA website, (see Album “Oh Canadaâ€) and it really made me feel like I had just taken the trip all over again! And it put me in a very nostalgic mood remembering some of the things that we spoke about in the days before it took place! During the planning of our trip, all of us got together to consider what we wanted to do “as a group†to make it a terrific experience! It’s always good to do this when traveling in a caravan or shall we say RV-avan! We would have two fifth wheels and one 38’ motorhome and you just don’t turn these things around on a dime, you know! But yes, you DO know if you’ve been doing this longer than one time! We had not gone on a RV trip together any of us, however, that is not to say that we were strangers! You see, there were three siblings: two brothers and a sister and their spouses! Now, I want you to know these are not wishy-washy siblings. These people are decisive, forthright, not shy, and certainly no one need ever wonder what they are thinking! So to sit down and talk about where we were going and what we wanted to do, the only ones who were pretty laissez faire, were the three spouses of the three siblings! The Siblings-- all had an OPINION about everything! But in the end, we knew generally, where we wanted to go: the Jasper-Banff area, because “Lake Louise is wonderful we hear,†and Glacier Park, (after which we would all head for our separate home states) and anywhere in between! Now, one of these brothers (he is the oldest-therefore out of respect for him and his dear sweet wife, he shall remain nameless) has often regaled the others with his stories of adventures on vacations. Well, adventures might not be the right word! Think Perils of Pauline here! Not necessarily “Oh boy, we had a great time†stories, but the “OH my Gosh we were nearly killed stories!†This brother could have taken Robin Williams’ place in the movie “RVâ€..if you’ve seen it, you understand! In fact, it’s possible the movie was based on his life! If we were writing about his escapades, some of the chapter titles might be: “December’s Festival of Lights in Newportâ€â€”or better known to us as, “Jumping in the ocean NAKED to push the boat off the sandbar in December;†or “How to avoid shipping lanes, while fishing in the Pacific†known to us as “I told him not to fall asleep while on watch for large ships!â€; or even ‘Whose Dingy Is It, Anyway?†known affectionately as “How not to lose the only dingy while on an island;†or “How I almost personally eliminated a son-in-law, a daughter and a fifth wheel on one day while attempting to park!†I digress! (But stay tuned for further adventures in upcoming blog entries!) The two other couples (ourselves and Sister and husband) made a pact that we would have E.B. (Elder Brother) go into all “campsites†first, get parked and then WE would come in! Also, if E.B. said “I’ll fix it,†“trust me!†we would all RUN!! Well, we had a great time on that trip, but we made E.B. sit down and watch the movie “RV†with us at our first opportunity! Needless to say we all laughed over it..and I am still not sure E.B. sees the “connection.†Do you have similar stories?

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Up And Running At Last

We survived YEAR ONE and learned a lot in the process, including some "Don'ts" and plenty of "Dos." This blog is directed toward people who have said to us, "I wish we had the courage to do that." To do what? To realize that time plods on and if you have any unfulfilled desires, you'd better act on them. For better or worse, we did just that. Our timing was classic. We bought a used 36-foot National RV Dolphin LX. Within weeks, National went belly-up. We planned to drive to Denver to check out my daughter's new digs. Gas topped $4 a gallon. But, back to the start. Cor is my husband. We have been married 11 years. Between us, we have seven children, 23 grandchildren and five greats. We spent the first five years together plying the Intracoastal Waterway between Venice, Fla., and Colchester, Vt., on first, a 40-foot Irwin cutter, and then a 36-foot Albin trawler -- so we KNEW how to live in small spaces. This was useful in selecting the right size motorhome. In 2003 we realized the spring necessary for jumping from dock to boat was leaving our legs and the dexterity needed for quick line-handling was waning. We had also seen enough days of meandering through the southern marshes and swatting green flies. Time to come ashore. We settled on a senior living community in northern Vermont. It was lovely; nice view of Lake Champlain, great food, wonderful people. But we were used to moving around, meeting new people, seeing new sights. We escaped to a downtown apartment in Burlington, right on the bike path and next to the waterfront park. Lots of people, lots of dogs, lots of fairs, boat and bike races, fireworks, action! And don't forget Church Street, the five-block-long brick walkway filled with boutiques, restaurants, strollers, galleries, musicians, skipping children, peppy dogs and benches for whiling away the afternoon. It was heaven ... for three-plus years. Then the nagging gypsy blood started to work its way through our veins. Cor was 88 and I was 9+ years behind. Would we still be sitting here five, six, seven years from now, wishing we had ventured some more, but unable? And that's where our life in a motorhome began. I write this blog for those who are thinking, Should we take this leap of faith? Should we really cut the strings and free-wheel it for a while, for a couple of years, forever? I can't say what our timing will be. Right now, it's great, but the specter of diminishing health, eyesight and money is everpresent. When do we drag everything from the storage locker and settle down to watch the sunsets? So, to those who see yourselves here, let me say what worked for us (so far.) We were stuck with a leased car for two more years; no towing allowed. Buying it out and/or buyng a truck were out of the question. That eliminated fifth-wheels and trailers, so we concentrated on motorhomes. But what model? The first one we saw was a neat new Class B Lexington with three slides. (Slides were new to us -- boy, were we newbies.) Not only was it out of our price range, but when we got down to reality, it would not do for full-timing, our only choice. Enter the 36-foot National RV Dolphin LX, a used 2004 model on the lot at Pete's RV in Burlington. I didn't like the dark Victorian decor or the pungent smell of cigarette smoke, but I was won over by the four-door fridge, the turn-around captains' seats, one-piece washer/dryer, the amount of storage space and the seat in the large, glassed-in shower. We hedged a lot; I could handle the upholstery (covered it with a blanket we bought in Santa Fe), but the smell was BAD. Pete's got to work washing, spraying, etc. It still smelled. Finally, after we had installed a dozen open boxes of baking soda, they tried one last measure -- fogging! It worked! An aside here: during this process, I had taken two cushions home to work on. I used Clorax. I buried them in snow, then left them to dry in the sun. I sprayed with Fabreze (which to me, by the way, smells as bad as the smoke). When we were done, the motorhome and furnishings were fine, but the cushions that I had taken home still smelled. A year on the road has cured that now, to our relief. We were pleasantly surprised by some of the Dolphin's features: solar battery charger for one. Cor commented there are so many exceptional quality items, it's no wonder National went broke. Ahead: What to store, what to take? Simple itinerary planning. "What does that sign say?" for less than optimal eyesight. Driving in tandem using Bluetooth. Updates on our search for the perfect cinnamon doughnut. Quick and easy overnight stops. Medical help en route. How to get cash without being hit by fees. And then we added a dog! Are we nuts?

gailandcor@yahoo.com

gailandcor@yahoo.com

 

Where Is Your Mate's Head??

by Pamela Stephens Sounds like the question that was popular many years ago, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your child is?†Perhaps this is a sore subject, but do you know what your spouse has planned for their (and thus your) retirement? Okay, he wants to fish and whittle toys for grandsons. Great!! Eventually that will wear off! You can only fish or go bowling so many times before coming to the conclusion that this isn’t what you thought it would be! Have you had the discussion about what your vision of retirement looks like? Or maybe you have calculated what you believe to be your spouse’s plans, not even considering it may be quite different! One of our “couple†friends found themselves in exactly that position. He had been a faithful employee, had earned kudos for his expertise in his field. He had been living in a particular area for some time, just waiting to “break free†and see the country! Dreams of owning an RV of some kind danced in his head! It just so happened that the wife in this story, began to be acknowledged for her expertise and wanted to expand her career and broaden it into a partnership with others in her field. Retirement was about three years ahead for her husband at this time, but she was “amping up†when his mind was “winding down†career wise. In the first couple years of her business, there wasn’t an issue. But needless to say, as the last year began before his actual retirement, issues arose that caused great concern. So much so that heated “discussions†became ultimatums. While this was eventually rectified and has a happy ending, it isn’t what we want to look forward to, and could be avoided if discussed before we get that far! Or perhaps, you are retired already…I can hear that female contingency say, “He’s always under my feet!†I remember when Bob first was at home 24/7, I was running a business out of my home at the time. He walked into my office and said, “What’s for lunch?†I recall saying something like, “I don’t do lunch…unless I’m out shopping.†And then there was the time I returned home from an event to find that Bob had been “helping me outâ€. I opened the pantry to get something out to fix for dinner, and couldn’t find it on the appropriate shelf! Then I realized that none of my “pantry items†were in the same location as before I left. Oh, and my spices were all alphabetized! (I always kept the ones I use all the time close together) When I inquired as to what happened, I was informed that he made everything fit into a practical and more efficient area. I never knew how inefficient my system had been for 30 years! Any of these issues sound familiar? You are not alone, as they say. But, what do you do about it all? We would suggest you sit down and with all the finesse of an expert tennis champ, broach the subject. Ask lots of questions in a very non-threatening way. Now I know you may want to jump up and down over some of the answers, or say ridiculous things like, “You’ve got to be kidding!â€, but restrain yourself…perhaps it will save you major disappointments up ahead! Here are some really good ideas for you: • Understand there’s a difference between a wish and a goal. Often before we retire, we have wish lists that are not realistic. Even realistic goals remain wishes without a plan! • You know what they say about “assume-ing†things right? It makes an “a… out of u and me!†Sit down with your mate and discuss future plans, not assumptions. Decisions shouldn’t be made upon assumptions by either party. • Get a clear vision of what “your retirement†will look like. Create a financial plan that will carry you through. If you don’t know how to do that, consult a professional. • Are you ready to call it quits? Are you sure? Many of us can’t wait to say aloha to a long career, but often finances can call us back; or some just can’t quit altogether, they still need “something†to do to give purpose to their lives. Know what skills and strengths can translate into just such a new position. Perhaps you could keep your hand in things part-time, or tele-commute from home and still earn a pretty penny doing so. It's better to talk about retirement with your mate BEFORE plans are made and feelings are HURT! Do you relate to any of this? Let us hear from you!

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Depression can kill you

Here is some news you can use. I just read a study from Sweden that showed that people who are depressed are significantly more likely to have a stroke. Seems that being depressed can literally kill you. Fortunately, we know that having an emotionally significant relationship and being physically active are powerful protectors against depression and against heart disease - and if this study is correct, against stroke, too. As those of you who read this blog know, I am investigating what it is that enables those of us who RV have better (read "emotionally significant") relationships. If you would be willing to participate in this study, please contact me. Whether you want to participate or not, now is a good time to get with your spouse or significant other (gotta cover all the bases in this day and age) and do a relationship checkup. Do we do physical activity? Check. Do we enjoy being with each other? Check Check. Good. You may have just taken a big step to making sure you don't become one of the many Americans are suffer from stroke each year.

RelationshipDoc

RelationshipDoc

 

Nesting

Well, we finally received that long awaited call. The local Cat dealer got the starter for our generator, and our SeeYa was ready for duty again. We could hardly wait to get back on the road. It was interesting. The very first trip we did not go far from home, and we hardly ventured out of the motor home the entire weekend, except to take our daily 4-5 mile walk, plus a bike ride or two. Other than that, we both were busy nesting. Making our baby "ours" again. Nesting is something that usually gets associated with women, but I found I needed to nest as much as Donna did. We were in this thing together. I am still looking for many other RVers to tell their stories of what makes their marriage work while RVing. What I have learned so far is, most of us are the same. Both partners are, well, partners. The motor home is theirs. Maybe, just maybe that is one of the things that makes RV-ing different from living in a "bricks and sticks" house. That sense that "we are in this thing together" in more ways than one. I still have lots to learn about what keeps relationships good while RV-ing, but already I am convinced that, in one way or another, we all jointly "nest" in our RV. And have fun doing it.

RelationshipDoc

RelationshipDoc

 

We've Still Got It!!

By Pamela Stephens, baby boomer As Baby Boomers, we have collectively set quite a few trends and even a few fads. Because our ranks are many, Boomers have lined the pockets of many a toy maker with the likes of hula hoops, Davey Crockett coonskin caps, Tiny Tears dolls, and Tinker Toys; and many a gal my age had a poodle skirt or two and watched the phenomenon of American Bandstand, oohing and aawing over the latest teen idols and their hits. It seems as Boomers, our generation is doing it again: We are taking the “tired†out of Retired! We are all just too young to “Retire.†Yes, we want to “downsize†into condos or town homes and get a motor home or fifth-wheel, but Pah-leeze, don’t call it retirement! That equates with “old and tired†or “sick and tired†and after all, we are just looking forward to traveling, and spending our kids’ inheritance! As for retirement centers, phooey! We are much happier if you call it “active-adult living†with a country club atmosphere! There are about 24 million of us active adults here in the good old U.S. of A, which means about 9 percent of our population! And guess what, as all of us Baby Boomers age, that will expand to roughly 40 million by the year 2024! And honey, we are mobile! We are well-educated, affluent and concerned about maintaining our health (in between Krispy Kremes and our Mocha Lattes). Now we are lining different pockets; those of the “active-adult†building industry! Developers have catered to our whims of wanting communities which offer lots of activities, a simple, stress-free lifestyle, while owning our own individual homes, often without having to maintain and garden the yards! No two-stories for us! Give us plenty of living area, a great-room rather than a formal living room, with a split bedroom plan that allows our guests to be on the opposite side of the house for privacy! And we want beautiful surrounds…set in the woodlands, or waterfront areas, or at least with a golf course view or a lake/waterscape to look out at! Be sure to give us a “lodge†to gather in, a card room to play canasta, oh…and how about some craft lessons, tap lessons, two-step or line dancing? The boomer guys want a woodshop, perfectly maintained and well-oiled for making those grandson’s wooden airplanes and trains! Boomer gals want to create, so give us ceramics classes, oil painting or watercolor lessons, or quilting classes, thank you, kindly! Of course it must have a state-of- the-art gym where we can sweat to the oldies with Jane and learn that new thing called “pilates.†And to keep us safe, we’d like a gated, guarded environment to keep the owners and boomers away from those who would just like to “browseâ€. Oh and by the way, can we have a spot to store our motor home, 5th-wheel or “toy†hauler? Because several times a year we want to heed the call of the open road…I can almost hear ol’ Willie singing to me now…â€on the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road, again!†Yes, we may be of the age to retire, but to us that just means it’s my bedtime! Bob and Pam Stephens can be emailed at: bob@campgroundimages.com or psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

psstephens@aol.com

 

Going through withdrawal

Some years ago, when I was still in the active duty Air Force, I was an avid runner. I found out just how avid when I was hit unexpectedly by an illness which kept me from even walking much, much less running, for several weeks. I recovered from the illness and returned to running but I never forgot what it felt like to go through that withdrawal. Lately my wife and I have been going through a similar withdrawal. Our beloved motorhome has been in the shop for several weeks because the starter on the generator went out and the local Cat dealer doesn't seem to be able to find one. This isn't about the dealer. It's about us. We have been been edgy lately. It's easier to fly off the handle. We're going through withdrawal. Since we recognize that, we have been taking extra steps to be nice to each other, to say kind words to each other, and to be very understanding of each other. It isn't easy. Going through withdrawal never is. But we keep hoping for that phone call which will tell us the part has finally arrived, and we can have out baby back and we can get our "fix" of motorhoming again. In other words, we keep practicing the skills we know will help us, or anyone, through any sort of high stress time: accentuating the strengths in the relationship, actively trying to catch each other "doing something right," and keeping the focus on the future. This is one addiction that we have no intention of kicking. But now, we'll do the best we can, loving on our "fur kids" and letting them help us get through this withdrawal together. That's what a relationship is all about.

RelationshipDoc

RelationshipDoc

 

Hello FMCA

We already have several blogs, but I still love to try new systems - they just keep getting better. We`ve been living in our Motorhome fulltime for 5 years now. Our first FMCA convention was during our first year, and we`ve only missed one since. Here we are at the St. Paul convention this past summer. We present the seminar Èvery RVer Needs a Blog! I guess we`ll have to update that to include this new FMCA community!

GeeksOnTour

GeeksOnTour

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