Monday, December 23, 2013

5 Year Retrospective - Year One

Johnson City, Texas - December 2009

Hi all, Dianne here.  December 2013 marks our five-year anniversary of hitting the road full time in our RV.  There have been a lot of changes since then (different dogs, new home base, new friends) and several things that have stood the test of time (our RV, Charlie the Cat, old friends).  Also many lessons learned!  I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane and pick out some favorite places, photos, and highlights of our five-year journey and our new life.  We'll start at the beginning, and this blog entry will cover Year One.

Note:  I'm new at Google maps, and can't figure out how to make the left panel disappear.  To see the route under the panel, you can move the map to the left away from underneath it. 
This first year our home was still on the market and so we made loops back and forth from Indiana to keep the house ready for showings.  We started out by heading north from Pendleton, Indiana to Elkhart (Bradd & Hall) to have our old analog TVs switched out and the cabinetry altered.  When we finally left Elkhart on December 6, 2008 it was 13 degrees!   We headed south and made haste for Charleston, South Carolina.
One of our favorite camp sites that first year was site 26 at Edisto Island State Park.  We were there in December, so there were no gnat troubles and we were able to get a great site between the marsh and the beach.  

 We took daily walks with Jasper and Chaplin (the "Travelin' Whippets") on the beach and marveled at just how nice it was to be able to be outside in December in t-shirts and shorts!

Favorite food:

Our very first Christmas away from home and family was spent strolling around Savannah, Georgia with Jasper and Chaplin.  
We then spent a month at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida (outside Fort Lauderdale) in order to get our Motosat Datastorm system installed.  The campground was in a city park and the sites were grassy and spacious.  What made it really nice, though, was "Barkham at Markham" dog park.   We quickly became "regulars" at the park and both dogs loved it.
Chaplin the "Chick Magnet"

While at Markham Park, we took day trips to the Miami Metro Zoo (awesome!), South Beach,
 and also several trips to Everglades National Park.

One of the most memorable experiences that first year was the 15-mile bike trip at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.  This was before we had bicycles of our own and I hadn't ridden a bike for years.  Before we even got to the point where we were riding around lethargic alligators laying in the roadway, I lost control of my bike, ran into an elderly tourist, and took a hard fall on my knee.  There is still a knot on my knee, a permanent souvenir of that day.  If you want to read all the gory details, here's a link to that blog entry:
Shark Valley Bike Trip  It was truly a day to remember!

Worst camp site of the year award:  KOA in the Florida Keys:  

  Best camp site of the year award:  Site #10 at Franklin Locks COE park near Fort Myers, Florida:

Jasper, Chaplin, and Lemon Tree
We spent a week with our friends the Gemmers in Fort Myers...

Chuck & Cindy

Jay & Nancy
...and a weekend with our friends Jay and Nancy at their then-condo in Naples.

We spent a week at Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney World.  Amanda and Kaia flew down from Indiana to join us there (Robyn was performing on a cruise ship that year and couldn't come).  

Kaia, my Punkie Pie

After they flew home, it was time for us to make our way north in time for yard maintenance at our house in Indiana.

On the way, we stopped at another favorite that year, St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle:
With stops at Lake Lanier in Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, we finally made it back home to spend several weeks in Indiana at state parks, driving back and forth to our house for yard work.  We didn't stay there because I didn't want to have to keep it constantly clean for realtor showings and also, it no longer felt like home.  

We were asked by the local garden club to place our home on the annual garden tour that summer.  We readily agreed, since it would bring foot traffic to our house.   By that point it was nearing a year and a half on the market.  (Lesson learned:  Don't try to sell your home at the bottom of the worst housing market in a generation).

If you have too much time on your hands, here's the Entire Garden Tour blog entry.

Trip number two that year sent us toward New Orleans for a wedding, then to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to change residences, then back to Indiana for yet more yard work:

We drove the Natchez Trace from Nashville, Tennessee all the way to Natchez, Mississippi.  

The wedding in New Orleans took place at the famous St. Louis cathedral, then a jazz band led the wedding party from the ceremony to the French Quarter reception.

We danced through the streets waving white scarves behind the band and the bride and groom.  The bride (Jennifer) had been a fixture at our home since grade school, and we wouldn't have missed her wedding for the world, even if it weren't an awesome New Orleans affair.

Chateax aux Arc Winery near Altus, Arkansas
Then it was back to Indiana via Arkansas and  a side trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.  Lesson learned: There have been wineries near Altus, Arkansas since 1880 -- our first winery tours, and good ones, too!

August was a very busy month that year.  I drove a U-Haul to Florida to help our daughter and granddaughter move, then flew back just in time for our annual kayak trip at Turkey Run State Park with the Gemmers, Patterns, and our other camping friends.

The best news of late summer was that our house finally sold that August.  We spent the rest of the summer  selling almost all of our furniture. 

My Texas friends might recognize the secretary, since it's now in our little coach house in Texas.  

We also held yet another garage sale at the little house our daughter had just moved from, to get rid of many of her things and what was left of ours.  Since we owned that little house, we were able to park our motor home in the driveway.   We actually thought at that time that we'd spend our summers there at the little house and travel in the winter months.
The last of a zillion garage sales
In September we traveled a little bit east to Celina, Ohio to attend Nick Russell's Gypsy Journal Rally. From there we drove straight to Coffeyville, Kansas to spend two-and-a-half months workcamping at the Amazon fulfillment center there.  

  We took this job (our one-and-only workcamping experience) before we knew that our house would sell.  Here I am soaking my feet in Epsom Salts after work.  Roger and I worked separate shifts because of our dogs, and he met me at the door with a foot bath and a glass of wine.  Whatta guy!! If you want to know what that job was like, read this blog entry:  Dianne's Perspective.

When our stint was over, we made haste to get south before bad weather struck.  A quick stop in Arlington, Texas to see Roger's cousin and her family gave us our first real taste of Texas.  Then we went on to spend our second Christmas on the road in Kerrville, Texas at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort.  The opening photo was taken on an organized trip from Buckhorn to have dinner and see the Christmas lights in nearby Johnson City.  They truly were the most awesome Christmas lights I've ever seen.  

The final photo for this Year One Retrospective was taken the day after Christmas at our very first visit to our favorite winery, Grape Creek, outside Fredericksburg, Texas.  (Note how slim we still were from our Amazon job.)  Here's to you and yours for a very Merry Christmas!
Roger is working on his own "best and worst" blog entry retrospective and I'll do Year Two when time permits.  This blog is our virtual scrapbook, and it's fun to look back.  

The pet pictures of the year are a compilation of a few of my favorites from Year One, with captions:
My Three Sons

Charlie playing in front of barely-filled-in US map
Naptime for My Three Sons
Hey, Dad's eating Steak!
Ice Cream in Key West
We sure miss you, Jasper and Chaplin....


heyduke50 said...

funny we bought our motorhome at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort from a fellow who advertised it on craigslist... small world!

Bill and Nancy said...

Hard to believe it has been 5 years!! Wishing you continued happiness and wonderful adventures!!

Steve Conrad said...

It is fun to go back and look at where one has been, done and with whom. Thanks for your trip down memory lane - year one. I sometimes use your blog as a road map. As we had to the northwest after Quartzite we will be active on you old trail following in your footsteps..