PREPARE FOR LANDING!
Hard or soft? Sooner or later? Where? When Cor and I opted for a life on the open road; we envisioned roaming the US at a leisurely pace, pausing long enough to savor the essence of north woods, prairie mountain, mesa, and bayou. Arrival at new campgrounds was exhilarating: so much to learn about the area. There were chutes in Ontario, fossils in Wisconsin. The first sight of the Rockiesâ€™ ridgeline at sunset was breathtaking. We had loved meandering by boat; so why not by RV. At least we wonâ€™t sink.
Marina life buzzed with excitement, meeting new people, learning of their ports and sometimes storms. So it was with our early campgrounds; neighbors gathering by the fire, singing songs, exchanging stories. Keep moving, keep learning. Reality set in when the stock market dove. Weekly, even monthly rates were not going to be sustainable. We decided to try the season in Venice, FL, our old hometown. Camp Venice was delightful, under the shade of live oak trees, along a shoot of the Myakka River.
Visits to our former doctors kind of alerted us to what lay ahead. Mine sent me off with the admonition that falls are the biggest bugaboo to the elderly. (Iâ€™m beginning to accept that term.) Corâ€™s doctor wanted him to return for balance problems, but Cor forgot the appointment.
We began to write our customary lists of â€œPros and Cons.â€ We love our very comfortable National Dolphin, but it takes dexterity, stamina, and strength to set up, take down, maintain, and maneuver -- especially when you realize you arenâ€™t 60 anymore. As Cor has often said, â€œIf others knew some 90-year-old geezer were tooling down the highway at 70 miles an hour in this beast, theyâ€™d probably head for a ditch.â€
What are the criteria for a landing site? First -- friends, but they, like you, are getting older and canâ€™t be â€œforever.â€ Family: We have two families (his and hers.) The majority live in New England -- CT and MA. Another lives in FL and the one we thought weâ€™d be settling near, moved to CO. Somewhere along I-95 would be good for most. Climate: We tolerate cold (in front of the fire) better than heat. Access to medical facilities: Face it! We need them now and will need them more in the future. A town where we could get around without a car. A town with some action, be it music, library, senior gatherings, or just plain sitting in a park to watch the squirrels and listen to the birdies sing.
Now to find this town of our dreams. Where do we start? Since all our furniture has been stored in Lebanon, New Hampshire, (to be accessible to the daughter who promptly moved to Colorado) and our car and motorhome are registered there, we looked for a campground to take us for the summer while we searched. Ever-reliable Google turned up Exeter Elms, nestled along the banks of the Exeter river, a heavenly mix of hardwoods, evergreens, ferns, chipmunks, and songbirds. Even in this Spring of rain and cold, it provided a serene haven in which to once again â€œget organized.â€
Within a week, we began to appreciate what this town has to offer: exquisite architecture (my college major,) a first class hospital, central â€œdowntown,â€ new library with large print books, senior center (never thought Iâ€™d need one,) good supermarkets, walk to many parks as well as the riverfront, an active bandstand, theater groups, concerts, farmerâ€™s market -- you name it! Everybody smiles here. Amazing!
Again online, we found an apartment plunk in the center of town on the main street overlooking all the action (weâ€™re great watchers now.) We even enjoy the weekends with a steady stream of motorcycles cruising through town on Rt. 27 -- who would have thought?
If thereâ€™s a message here, I guess it is to THINK AHEAD. While you are enjoying your rambling (especially full-timers who have given up a home) keep your eyes open for a good place to land. Make a list of your presumed priorities (they may change with time.) When you are in a town or city, take note of the shopkeepers and people on the street -- are they smiling and helpful? Are drivers pushy, or do they signal for you to enter? You will be calling this â€œhome,â€ so make it happy.
We still have the rest of the season at the campsite, but our apartment lease started July 1, so weâ€™ve moved our stored â€œstuffâ€ down from Lebanon to Exeter. We are taking our time emptying the cavernous bays that carried more "stuff" -- will we ever learn? Now to do the final cleanup here. If anyone is interested in the perfect full-time motorhome, and a prepaid site on the banks of the Exeter River through leaf-peeping season, take a look at our website. Never underestimate the power of the Internet! We found our apartment on Rent.com; found the campsite on Google searches once weâ€™d picked a state to live in; checked out all the tax consequences and medical facilities on various state sites; and still keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook. Call me a wired junkie, all thanks to my Verizon Air Card. It has allowed me to get online almost everywhere. No more eating a hamburger just to get a few free minutes of access at MacDonaldâ€™s.
LIFE IS AMAZING, ISN'T IT?