Freedom Isn’t free?

Most think that retirement means ‘freedom’ – freedom to do all those things that work and family responsibilities constrained over the years. Reality may present issues with that notion.  Is it free in a monetary sense? Is it free in an emotional capitol sense?

Being able to recognize and pay for all the costs is pretty fundamental to gaining that freedom we worked for. Well, it’s pretty easy to do the accounting for the monetary issues. Money in – money out will define the options and limits.

Deciding to become house-less and full-time travelers in our new motor home brought focus to a range of other issues.  It’s a test of priorities and relationships. We learn things about ourselves – not always as positive as we’d like. If we’re careful observers, we see a steady flow of changes that come with all the new experiences each day, and with introspection about our life’s choices. We discover there may be new and better ways to approach life given these new circumstances. And, we aren’t 20 something anymore, so limits on some activities can be frustrating.

Above all, the single most important quality to cultivate, when sharing the confined space of a 38ft motor home, is a robust sense of humor! Days will rarely go as planned. The second quality is patience, followed quickly by flexibility. New places won’t always be how the brochures and web pages describe – occasionally better, sometimes not.  I’m reminded of a saying taught to me by my wise old dad … ‘patience is a virtue, seldom found in women, never found in man’ – thus the reason I place sense of humor first!

Lest this becomes a dreary post, here’s a bit of an update,. With these thoughts in mind, we arrived near Kansas City for a last family visit till the holidays. It was a wonderful two weeks filled with fun activities. We toured a distillery, a brewery, a zoo and a museum among other assorted activities.

We found a delightful RV park a bit south of the city that met all our expectations.

It was a quiet spot, clean with full utilities and pleasant neighbors.

The Kansas City zoo is spectacular with an assortment of interesting critters…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.. and fun for young and old(er) …

 

Too many pics to include of the tours, but learning how some of our favorite adult beverages are brewed was fascinating.

 

Both tours were very well done and generous with the sampling!

 

Long days were topped off with good visits with the kids and pleasant evenings. As it turns out, we were there for our wedding anniversary. Kids ‘baby sat’ the dog while we had a wonderful dinner at a delightful restaurant ……..

 

We’re now parked in Wamego, KS, a short drive west of KC, and a different experience….more in a minute. We stopped here to visit good friends who we hadn’t seen in several years – always fun to catch up. They are both experts on grasslands ecology and its denizens, especially upland game birds (one of my favorite topics) and local history of the Kansas Flint Hills.

Wamego is the capitol (or is it a portal?) for OZ and a classic mid-west small town. A beautiful town park, well done monuments and of course an OZ museum…

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

-Scarecrow was always my favorite…

 

Back to Calvin.  He developed his RV park surrounded by Caterpillar’s largest factory, several rows of storage sheds and an active railroad line just across the street. The 4am train announces it passing with an extended whistle. And we got to sample  the tornado siren test in mid-day….. just balance for the previous digs! In any event, all the local bird life and rabbits are keeping Cricket – our Brittany pup – quite busy.

One more stop, a bit to the north in Nebraska, then on westward…. more later

On the way now – really!

On the way now – really!

 

       RVing is daily routine, interrupted by remarkable moments of joy, beauty and other life affirming experiences. Learn to appreciate the routine as valued balance, and to view the calm as valuable as the special moments.
Accept the occasional crisis as impersonal and inevitable.
I’m reminded of the Hagar cartoon — ship wrecked in the middle of the storm he asks “why me?” And gets the answer from the sky “why not?”

At last we’re on the road – well actually since May 26. All the local home and business stuff is done, and weather is cooperating. Our first stop was in Verona, VA at Shenandoah RV Park on the Middle River and convenient to visit Tom, a friend and professional colleague, just down the road. We spent a pleasant evening at his home. Our dogs got some serious play time, Tom and I got caught up, and Tom’s wife provided an outstanding dinner – all-in-all a delightful evening and a good start.  The Park was a very pretty spot if the sites were a bit tight. The Falls, fishing and rabbits compensated!

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Next stop was Williamsburg, VA at the American Heritage RV Park. We treated ourselves to a ‘premier’ site and spent 10 days visiting with family – Abby and Jim.

Topping the list of activities was a night of steamed Blue Crabs  FB_IMG_1492344608706

 

 

 

 

 

…Also, a re-visit to the Williamsburg Winery, and a day at the Maritime Museum and beer fest. IMG_2967

And, one year old Cricket got a birthday cake (May 13th) – Thank you Abby!

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Next stop was a Harvest Host site – The Tennessee Valley Winery.  HH is a neat program which allows a small number at a time, usually 1-4, RVers to boondock at farms, wineries and other such private places. Sampling and purchasing the products is encouraged!

 

We lucked out on their schedule and got a live music program right next to the coach…  While stays at HH site are generally for only one night, the kind folks at TVW offered us an extended stay – then, we did really like their wines !    20170513_204039.jpg

Made new friends … 20170513_175827

So, after a one day stay, we moved on heading for the Tiffin factory in Alabama. Seems Lookout Mountain is about at the half way mark near Charlottsville, so we took a couple days at the Raccoon Valley RV park. Not far from Lookout Mtn – well worth the stop should you come this way.

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With doggie day care close at hand, we also spent a fascinating day at the Maritime Museum. Where part of the fun was watching the otters……

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Then it was time for Red Bay and our very short punch list of items to correct. Tech folks there were great – efficient and helpful. “Camping” at the Tiffin service center is a parking lot, but with full hookups and lots of knowledgeable Tiffin owners. It also afforded the opportunity to tour the factory to see these fine coaches being built (way too many pix to post! )– and to visit with the owner, Bob Tiffin, who was very generous with his time.

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Not too far from Red Bay is the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery established on a favorite hunting camp. I’ll grant you that would seem to be a pretty minor blip in otherwise adventurous travels. But that’s only if you don’t understand the high regard with which sportsmen hold their dogs – whether treeing racoons, pointing upland birds or retrieving waterfowl. This was a must see! And so, here are a few picture memories from there …

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Cricket paid her respects to fellow working dogs ……

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As Memorial Day would arrive soon, flowers were found on20170517_145351 nearly all the markers. The markers themselves were varied and some quite unique…..the camera found a flag behind Daisy’s  metal cutout marker …. seemed quite appropriate.

 

 

 

 

**Note: Key Underwood buried Troop here in 1937 after 15 years of a hunting partnership. Others followed. Only ‘coon’ dogs are allowed to be buried here– lest the ground be ‘contaminated with assorted lap dogs’.

 

Every Labor Day there’s a celebration to remember these remarkable dogs – I think it may mean a trip back!

So now we are at a pleasant RV park just south of Kansas City – a planned stop to visit kids and one of our favorite grand kids. More particularly, we are at the Peculiar Park Place RV Park.  Think I’ll leave that hanging……google Peculiar, MO if you just have to know more!

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And as a sat down to work on this post, the severe storm alert sounded…..heavy rain, hail and a bit of gusty wind, but no harm done and all’s well again.

Heading mostly west in a couple weeks. More ramblings later……..

Ready , set….. and her side

What have I done!!  We chronicle the outward steps of dreaming, buying  an RV, selling a house , sorting, packing, planning.  We fret about insurance, how to get our mail and Wi-Fi connections.  Those day to day problems we must handle take our time and energy, leaving us with nothing but the dark hours of the night to face the real issues.  I have five children, their spouses and eight grandchildren.  That is 18 people that enrich my life.  I have worked for 30 years with friends who have supported me through professional and personal adversities. I have a 97 year-old father for whom I have provided support and comfort for the 21 years since Mom died.  How can I walk away from that?  How do I shake the feeling I am abandoning them?  Where is my strength to leave the friends that support me? Who will help me find the balance when my husband and I fight?  What if I am not there to see my grandchild beam with pride after an accomplishment.  What if those I love need me! How do I leave the life I have built?

And – I am tired.  I have hosted 21 years of Christmas gatherings.  Despite the support and help from my children, I ran full out for the days of their visit.  Then I washed every sheet and towel I owned before heading back to work.  Then I did it again  each summer. At work I gave my all, often for more then eight hours a day.  On  weekends I trekked to check on my father. I have lived the busy life of a working woman with a husband, home and responsibilities.  I knew it was taking a toll on my health and I ignored the signs.  I did not know how to stop and was afraid of what I would lose.

We have all heard the advice to live in the present. Look forward, not back. Savor the moment. After tears and angst,  I accept it is time for me to rest and heal.  I will trust that my bonds with family and friends will endure. I believe that others with more energy than me will step up to keep my small world turning.  I bow to my age, say “yes” to this next stage in my life.  Let the RV roll and the adventures  begin!

Ready, set,……set,…….

First step was an early delivery. Back last Fall we committed to the decision to go exploring the Country as soon as Denise could retire. We cemented that decision with the purchase of a 2017 Tiffin Phaeton 36GH motor home. Since it was a factory order and had yet to be built, we planned on taking delivery sometime in March of this year. Then the phone rang in November. Seems our coach would be at the dealer in N Tonawanda, NY by the end of the month .. ‘when did we want to come get it?’  So, ready or not, off to NY we went after scrambling to get a towable car.

 We were now the proud owners (along with the bank) of a brand new Tiffin motor home – no looking back.

That set in motion a series of related activities and what we assumed would be time consuming delays. House went on the market expecting at least a couple months breathing space. House sold in 2 weeks. A short timeline to get what we were keeping into storage and disposing of the rest. The process of upgrading my driving license to comply with Maryland MVA rules took a bit longer, and actually was accomplished just days before we had to vacate the house, move into the coach, and move it to an RV park – step 2.

Granite Hills RV Park – Fairfield, PA

Given the early season, the closest open  park meant an hour commute for Denise to work. It was about 10 days before a local park opened, which is where we sit as I write this (Yogi Bear RV Park).

Finally, step 3, the day came for her official retirement, and life began to improve.  

That said, she had promised to remain available for training and consulting for at least a couple weeks.

Fellow traveler, Cricket, was beginning to become impatient…….

 

So, now we wait. Time is spent doing the odd errands, arranging and re-arranging addresses, insurances (never simple), and planning our early travel with stops on the way to the Tiffin factory in Red Bay, AL – a visit with friends, a stop to see family, and a bit of sightseeing.

With all arrangements done and reservations made, our departure date is finally set for April 27th ! Barring last minute issued, it is now a “Go” – step 5.

Stay tuned for reports along the way: Verona, VA, Williamsburg, VA, FT Chiswell, TN and Loudon, TN, Chattanooga, TN for a few days, then Red Bay.

 

Reviews:

Granite Hills RV park (Fairfield, PA) – 10 day stay, FH 50a. Friendly, helpful folks. Pleasant atmosphere and scenery. Modest, roomy sites on gravel – well maintained. Did not use bath/shower facilities.

Yogi Bear/Jellystone RV park (Williasmport, MD) – Friendly staff, lots of kid activities, store and café. Gravel sites, easy in/out, well maintained. Sites, a bit narrow for the price, included table and fire pit. Opening weekend – lots of kids! Then dead quiet ……

New times, new places

New times, new places

It’s just days now before we move on. Full time RV living is on the very near horizon. Scrambling to sort, pack and move to storage those things we intend to keep – that is, what we will want if/when we move back into a house. Working our way through the list of all the last minute preparations: set up bills for auto pay, changing address to our mail service, stopping home electric, fuel, internet/tv, pest control et al …. and all that needs to be timed with our scheduled settlement on the house – just days away as I write this.  Then, it’s all just mechanics. The real ‘moving on’ isn’t about this.

How to balance the sadness of leaving a long established home and removing an ‘anchor’ for your adult children who still think of this place as home against the excitement of new adventures. After gathering the family here for so many holidays and other celebrations, it’s time to pass such traditions on. Many have done this.  We certainly are not alone. Yet each finds their personal way forward. Getting past the highs and lows can be a challenge. The highs feed the energy that’s essential to keep the processes moving, and encourages the planning for visiting new places, revisiting old favorite places and looking up distant friends. Inevitably, the lows arrive about 2 in the morning and you begin racking up a troubling sleep deficit amid all the second guessing. There are much deeper, personal issues that nag and come to the surface unbidden, often unwanted, at not always convenient times. This is the real stuff of ‘moving on’.

Lest friends worry about some apparent depression, rest assured we’re finding that balance, and are focusing on the exciting times ahead. Having been retired for several years, I am soon to have my wife join me. We will have the precious commodity of time together – a gift, we know only too well, that lacks any certainty.

If you’ve read this far, you will recognize the emotional aspects of the leap we are about to take. Writing this for me is but one piece of the balancing. And, perhaps it shares something of value for others who find themselves in similar transitions. In any event, it helps to know that we will look back on all this at some point with a good ration of humor – so, you’re welcome to laugh now either at or with us later!

Here are a few pictures of our beautiful motor coach, and we will have good times making it our home for however long it works…… you’re welcome to follow along here!

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