The Reality of Downsizing

This is my view of retirement

My followers know that we recently sold The Beast and moved into our little piece of paradise in Florida. In my last blog, I spoke about sharing impartial and free advice for entering the Full Timer scene, meaning; hindsite 20/20. The first step of going FT is actually making the decision. (Please refer to my last blog: Hindsite 20/20, if you have not made a firm decision yet.) In this episode of Live & Tell, I will cover the next step of turning your dreams into reality; Downsizing. So, listen up my lady friends- this blogs for you! Put on your big girl panties, grab a big pour and cheers to you!

Forget about the step by step list you found on another blog for a moment. Clear your mind of all your worries or concerns, and ask yourself the question all women ask. How many shoes do you really need? If you are laughing out loud or spit out your drink, don’t say I didn’t warn you and continue on. Seriously, how many shoes do you actually think you have in your closet? My husband guessed 50 pairs for me. It was actually a tad more than that. In all honesty, I used to be an Account Executive for luxury brands and had to look the part for work. In comparison to many of my colleagues, 50 was rather conservative. But be realistic now for just a moment. Forget about your past and concentrate on the lifestyle you are about to enter. Think of your last camping trip. What shoes did you use on that trip? Do you hike often? Do you walk on the beach? Do you like to dress up and actually go out to dinner, or cook camp-side? Now, get up and go to your closet(s) and gather up all your shoes into one place and start 3 piles; 1) shoes you will definitely need, 2) shoes you definitely won’t need, and 3) the maybe pile (usually the mother load in comparison).

Now, get another large pour because sh!ts about to get real! Count how many shoes are in the 1st pile of definitely need. If you have more than a dozen pairs in that pile, you will suck at this! Just kidding!! But here is the truth ladies. You will need 10 or 12 pairs of shoes ever, and a couple of those will be stored in an undercarriage compartment (the basement) for a future family wedding, funeral, or different weather than you usually travel in, like perhaps a pair of boots when traveling in cold weather areas. My list was this: 2 pairs of tennis shoes (walking and one cute/basic pair), 2 pairs of flip flops (one for shower shoes, one for good), beach shoes, slippers, hiking boots, slip-on mud shoes (for frequent wet, muddy situations), dress shoe/sandal, casual shoe/sandal, winter boots, and a pair of kick-ass cowboy boots I could not part with. I never wore the dress shoes- ever, stored the hikers, cowboy boots, and winter boots because we were primarily in warm weather. So, I wore about 6 pair of shoes on a more daily basis. The pair I used the most was the slip-on mud shoes for when it rained at muddy camp areas. And there you have it! You will need only 6-10 pairs of shoes. If that scares the hell out of you, you might not become a Full Time RVer.

If you make it past this silly first exercise I’ve put before you by laughing instead of fretting over the loss of your 40+ pairs of shoes, than this is how you will attack everything else you own. Three piles will turn into one smaller pile, which will need to fit into your RV. The other two piles are reduced, first by family, friends and neighbors, second by selling what you can, and third, and most likely, given/donated to whoever needs it. Don’t be offended if nobody wants your stuff! It’s just the way it is in today’s throw away society. Everyone wants to buy new stuff these days. They were not raised with hand-me-downs, and not accustom to using someone else’s stuff. It is what it is. Post Covid will only make this more prevalent.

Now for the gentlemen in my group. Have a shot and a beer, because you may have thought the shoe exercise was pretty funny, or laughed at your lady pillaging thru her piles. But, when it comes to your life’s accumulation of tools in the shed/garage, you might not be laughing for very long!

Fact one; tools and yard equipment are the best-sellers at garage sales. If you have them, they will come. However, fact two; nobody wants to pay you for what they’re worth. Remember, I am your hindsite 20/20. (an example of a regret, is that you should have taken that first offer on your house, and you ended up making less because you thought your house was worth so much more than your realtor said, so you held out longer. Just sayin…) So getting back on track; divide your shed into three areas, similar to our shoe discussion; 1) tools you will definitely need 2) tools you definitely won’t need, and 3) the maybe tools (you want them, might not ever need them- but don’t want to get rid of.) My husband ended up with 2 small tool boxes and two plastic tote containers (for additional supplies) all of which need to be stored in the basement. This end result was after going thru a life-time accumulation of everything you need to take care of a house and 2.5 acres of land for 30 years. If the thought of downsizing all of your tools and supplies to 3 or 4 containers scares the hell out of you? Perhaps now is the time to have another beer and build a bonfire…or perhaps have another discussion before it’s too late.

Everyone’s situation is different, but these exercises are pretty much the same for every FT RVer. You can’t take it all with you. Your discussion at this point should look something like this: What is your long-term goal? Where do you want to be for retirement years? Do you have the means to purchase a sticks & bricks or would you rent, should the need or desire arise? Will you want/need any of the piles that you can’t take with you at a later date? Can you afford to replace all of your furniture and other necessities if you decide to sell the RV down the road? Can someone store family heirlooms you can never replace without it being a burden? Once you have made decisions about these very important questions, you can relax and do what is necessary to downsize. Purging all the things you will actually never need again certainly does feel extremely good! I loved shredding and burning 20 years worth of files from having a home office! All of our important papers now fit into one portable file box (hard plastic one that doubles as a side table) and a brief case for original documents that you can escape with fast in case of emergency. A fire-safe is also highly recommended if you have a closet in the back of a diesel pusher. We’ve all seen it time and again, what engine fires can do, and no one is immune to the possibility.

To sum it up, our house sold so quickly that we really didn’t take the time to discuss all of these options, and it created anxiety down the road when we made the decision to own a sticks & bricks house again. Once you start looking at a bigger, better and beautiful upgraded RV, all of these decisions fade away like an early morning fog lifting to blue sky and bountiful sunshine. You can’t wait to hit the road! So if you passed this test with flying colors, have fun downsizing and enjoy planning for your FT RV life! I promise you will not miss all of those shoes or tools! (Well… except a hammer. If you accidently get rid of all 6, you’ll probably miss the hammer! We did!) If your stomach is in knots just thinking about all of this? Perhaps you should remain a part time RVer. No one will judge you. It’s your life and you can enjoy your RV, just the same. Travel, explore, and come back home, if you must. Either way, make the best of the journey we call life! There is no rerun, so make it great the first time…

Hind Site is 20/20

ALL PACKED AND READY FOR THEIR MAIDEN VOYAGE IN OUR BEAST

Today was the day! The Beast was sitting on consignment and is SOLD. The license plate will be transferred to our truck and will now be a memory of driving down the road with Six Wheels Down.

So what’s next? Do I end my blog? Do I stifle my thoughts on FT RV life? I am not exactly sure what is next. What I am sure of is, that I have so much knowledge on the subject, and there are a lot of newbies coming on the scene that might appreciate my hind site 20/20. I might give you ideas or I might encourage or discourage, only you, my readers can make that judgement call. I still have much to share about the lifestyle, and for now, will keep my blog going. So for anyone that is thinking about owning an RV, or has one, and not sure if you want to vacation in it, live in it part time, or make the leap into full time, I am here for YOU! So, for today’s session of (what I shall call from now on) “Live and Tell”, please read on about the very first thing you will have to do.

MAKING THE DECISION

There are many reasons that people end up living in an RV, and whatever your reason may be, it is unique to you and your situation. The first mistake many people might make when trying to decide if the lifestyle is right or not for them is; ask other people that are doing it. I know! That sounds hilarious, right? Especially after the statements I just made about sharing my knowledge with you! But thinking back, the number one reason I probably made the decision to do it, was that EVERYONE doing it bragged about how wonderful it is. They constantly told us “You will LOVE it!” or “You’ll never look back!” and “Just get rid of your stuff because you won’t need it!” And one of my favorites, “It’s liberating!” I could go on and on and on. But you do realize that everyone’s reason for making this life-changing decision is unique to them and has NOTHING to do with YOU. It makes me think of when people say “you will LOVE the way I fix liver! You won’t even know your eating liver!” Trust me, I know liver no matter how you camouflage it, and I DON’T LIKE it!

Getting advice from fellow RVers you really enjoy being around, or believe you know very well, or even family, is going to profoundly affect your judgement more than a complete stranger, like myself. Consider me your impartial and experienced expert giving out free advice. (I don’t even get paid anything for writing this blog!) Since I have already walked in your shoes, you can trust me on what I say. And here’s another thought you might better relate to; your spouse/partner will affect your judgement on this far more than anyone else. The person you love and trust the most can gently persuade you without you even realizing it. You trust them and care about them more than anyone else, right? So why wouldn’t you go along with him/her on a great idea? Because I am telling you now, if it was not your idea, and it was not in your heart, it might not be part of your course. Once you realize this, you will be able to speak more intelligently with him/her and perhaps avoid a costly mistake. I say costly, but it is not just material things you may lose. It will change your life’s journey drastically; financially, mentally, and physically. Better to have the disagreement before you get rid of all of your stuff, than afterwards, while sitting in a small space wondering what the hell have you done and how do you get your old life back. You can never retrieve your old life. Those possessions are gone forever. BUT, you can lean on one another and take one day at a time creating a new life similar to what you liked best about your old life! Never blame the other for what you entered into together. NEVER. Unless you were hogtied, gagged and dragged into that RV, YOU and you alone are responsible for the decisions you make.

In our situation, we agreed to do the FT thing for 3-5 years before settling down in a small house, but many people enter it with no clear plan of ever changing it. That is okay only if that is how you both truly feel about it and agree. But I believe you better discuss this in depth before buying that RV. Once you step foot in that beautiful Beast, your thinking becomes distorted. I made it to 3 years almost to the day, but just barely. I knew in my heart after one year had passed that I missed being grounded, so to speak, with a sticks & bricks home to return to. But trying to explain my feelings and intuitions to hubby was a daunting task. I knew I’d be damned if I did and damned more if I didn’t, and a lot of money was at steak. But RV life for me, as wonderful as it can be, should have remained a part time obsession for exploring new places and not a full time life. There. I said it and I don’t regret it. I absolutely loved many things about it and have so many cherished memories. But it’s a good thing hubby and I are strong willed, determined people or we could have lost much more than our material possessions in this decision, if you know what I mean.

So here I sit writing in our new retirement home in Florida, barely 48 hours after the Beast has sold, and reflecting on the entire experience. I am, in essence, your hind site 20/20. For all of you that have so many questions as you are selling your homes and a life-time of possessions and memorabilia, I will be imparting free advice and information over the next couple of months, and I promise you that it comes from the heart, as I remain filled with passion on the topic of Full Time RV Life. Six Wheels Down will forever live on in all of you!

PS. It has been 3 months in our house and still, nothing has broke! (Just a little RV humor…LOL)

Things I’ve Learned

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We say goodbye to our Tiffin Allegro RED

It has been a very busy couple of months for us as we prepared for the next adventure in our lives. Big changes have consumed our time and a lot of our money, but as I sit here looking back, I just wanted to share a few things I’ve learned with all of you.

We started RV life in 2011 as part timers in a Class C after meeting each other in October of 2010. We learned a lot about each other and shared our dreams, ideas and a very small space while on the road. We had a beautiful home on over two and a half acres in the country. We both worked hard and spent a great deal of time in the yard, which left little time to enjoy RVing. We were married in 2012 and became snowbirds in 2013, upgrading to a roomier, slightly bigger Class C. I became semi-retired (which meant, 5-6 months in Key West and working 6-7 months seasonally upon returning to Ohio.) Because my hubby is a retired Veteran and was landscaping seasonally, this was an easy transition for him because he didn’t have to work during the winter. During those years, life was a roller coaster of packing, preparing, living on the road, unpacking, and then redirecting to a sticks & bricks life with a job and all the responsibilities of “normal” life. All the while, the RV sat in the driveway waiting for us to get on the road again. We desired to be on the road more and live the “normal” life less and progressed to full timers June 1st, 2017. We bought the beautiful Class A Tiffin Allegro RED pictured above to live in 24/7, 365. Just shy of 10 years experience with RV life on the road and trying to keep enough money for our retirement house (which was always a part of our long-term plan), and we are done. Enough stress, enough debating, enough of the “what ifs” and “where to go.” We now have a small retirement home in Florida and The Beast is currently on consignment at an RV Dealership up the road. We are no longer FTers.

If you have kept up with my blog, you will know that I have shared so many things for all those living this dream or hoping to do so in the future. You already know that I have honestly shared the good, and sometimes, with a bit of sarcasm, shared the bad. If you are reading this blog for the first time, please read on to learn some of the things I’ve experienced to help you in possibly making your own decisions.

The number one questions in every RV group I am a member of is; How do you know if this is the right lifestyle for you? How do you downsize your entire life to fit into an RV? What did you do with all of your stuff? Do you have any regrets? The short answers are; You don’t know until you try it. You simply sell or give away almost everything you own until all you have left is a necessity. Nobody wants your stuff, not even your kids. You won’t know if you will regret it until maybe one day in the future, you do. But perhaps you never will. So, what have I learned over nearly 10 years? Far too much to put in one blog, but let me continue with the “Reader’s Digest” version as best as I can.

Life is a constant challenge and that doesn’t change no matter what you live in or where you are, so if you think going FT is going to change this? You have already failed. However, if you love life and deal well with all the challenges that go with it? That is a very good mental place to be starting out.

There’s a lot to see and do out there, but you need deep pockets unless you like to hike and to work. Everything costs money, even if you’re just looking.

It is a cheaper alternative ONLY if you own your RV. It is NOT a cheaper lifestyle. Don’t try to ask what it costs on a monthly basis in groups because everyone will tell you a different story, based on their individual situation. You are trading one set of expenses for another, not eliminating them. But it IS a simpler lifestyle.

Your unborn children and your pets may or may not love the lifestyle as much as you do. Remember that because they can’t answer that question! Also remember that nobody loves your children and pets as much as you do.

It’s very boring after days of rain and being inside an RV. You better have a hobby or love watching TV, or you may need to buy a bigger RV when the next child is due. Seriously, get a hobby because you can’t drive somewhere else every time you get bored.

Don’t ask general questions to RV groups. They don’t have all the answers. Google your route and listen to your gut. Hopefully, you have one. If not, you will live and learn the hard way. Switchbacks are not for newbies that need to ask “the route” question. It’s like skiing; Would you want to ski the steepest mountain if you have never skied before? If so, don’t be wasting experienced skiers time with stupidity. Just do it.

It is easier to buy a luxury coach than to sell one. It doesn’t matter how well you took care of it, it is never exactly what the Buyer wants and there’s a never-ending supply! The people that tell you how quickly they sold theirs didn’t owe the bank a balance and had more room to negotiate. The truth is, you do not make money on coaches. Rarely ever. If you are that one person who did and want to argue this point? You got lucky. They are depreciating no matter what name is on it, just some quicker than others. Ask me why our beautiful Tiffin is sitting on consignment. Never had kids, pets, or smoked in it, and in excellent condition, if you’re interested…

Warranties are very expensive. So are repairs. Your choice. Pay now, or later.

It is important to have general knowledge of maintenance and repairs or I would highly advise the warranty.

If you are the couple that never argues and gets along great, all the time, I applaud you. We used to be that couple too! Space is important. Period. THE END. But nobody died.

I LOVE my new kitchen! It is fairly small, but super efficient. I do NOT need to dig for anything anymore and my back thanks me every time I cook.

Organizational skills are an absolute MUST for FTers. If one of you is messy, living in small quarters will definitely be a huge stumbling block for your spouse/partner.

I also LOVE my own shower and not sharing the scents from each others bathrooms on a daily basis. Our house is less than 1600 SQFT, but a split plan- with bathrooms on opposite ends and it’s wonderful! We had a bath and a half in our Tiffin, but sorry, still not enough space in between for 365 days/year for me.

Traveling in an RV is simply the BEST way to experience travel! Having your own bed and kitchen every day has a whole new meaning during a pandemic. We recently had to travel by car and stay in hotels for a funeral. It reminded me of all the advantages of RVing that brought us to love the lifestyle. No loading in/out of hotel rooms wondering if the sheets were even clean. I lived out of suitcases all during my career days. I don’t miss them.

Fact: Being a passenger in a car flying down the highway causes me zero anxiety compared to being a passenger in a Class A 40′ motorhome.

The friendships you make as you travel will continue no matter what lifestyle you choose! Good people are good people. Also, bad people are everywhere. You can be parked in the middle of nowhere and need I say more…

There is nothing wrong with being a Part Timer. Almost every single Full Timer we ever met over all these years are no longer FT. It’s OK. If you are doing it just because everyone else is? DON’T!

My knees hate the steps. We now live in a ranch. I am still a happy camper!

All the people that constantly remind you that living in an RV versus a house is no different? They are wrong. We have owned our house for over 30 days and nothing has broke!

Choosing where to live in a house is as complicated as choosing where to park the RV for winter. Too many choices, but in the end, your pockets will guide you where to go.

I know people are going to ask if I have any regrets. Some already have. I definitely have some regrets. However, I also feel blessed in so many ways that I will always LOVE the experiences I’ve had and how I pushed myself to keep going strong. I have done things that most people never will. I have seen every state in the US except for Alaska and Hawaii, and that could still happen. Not all were seen in the RV, but most were. I have been on some of the most feared bridges and lived to tell. I have traveled thru the mountains and camped by the sea. I have lived the dream that so many are still only dreaming of. How fortunate that I have learned so much and did not give up, even when nothing was going right. We somehow dealt with everything that life on the road could throw at us. Never let anyone else’s story be yours! Not all Good luck is yours to have. Not all bad luck will ever be yours. Make your own story. It’s your life, the one and only.

Sh’t breaks. In a house, in a car, in an RV. Eliminate one and you still have two things that will break. If you think traveling without a toad (tow car) makes things any easier? You’re wrong. Even if you only have one thing- your RV, it will break and you’ll need a car. Are you going to have them bring it to you in the middle of the desert or on top of the mountain? If so, I want to read your blog.

We almost bought a house last year, but the financial task was easier said than done. We were able to make it happen here in Florida, and I am so happy to be close to many of the places I love and people we enjoy. My biggest advice to anyone contemplating the decision of going FT is this; NO ONE can help you make the decision. Only YOU can decide what is right for YOU. Be sure that you will always have some money set aside for the day you might have to change course, because I am certain you will. BUT, by all means, DO IT if it feels right and DON’T if your doubting everything along the way. In the end, you will have lived your best life!

IMG_20200613_POOL  Our Pool in our new backyard

 

 

 

 

Bizarro World

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Palm Island Park, City of Mount Dora

Life has certainly been challenging over the past month or so, especially for those of us living FT in our motorhomes. If you were traveling during the Pandemic, being on the road became very difficult, and if you were stationary, isolation brought on a whole new meaning, even if you have enjoyed it in the past. I believe that everyone EVERYWHERE has stories they can share, but I honestly believe we are living in BIZARRO WORLD!

For my FT RV readers, you will easily relate to what I write, and I hope you have found a place to live comfortably as state-wide shutdowns continue. For those of you wishing to become FT, or who live in sticks & bricks, I believe you may feel a bit better about where you sit during this pandemic once you read on.

We are stationary during this stay-at-home period, but many of our friends are not. I don’t think anyone realizes how bizarre this has been for those that travel the country, and suddenly travel is forbidden! Think about that if you are not currently an RVer. Every reason you have ever had for wanting an RV has to do with travel. Now we are told NOT TO TRAVEL. It is your home, but you can’t easily find a place to park it! So here is where it gets tricky…

We know people who winter in Florida from Canada, Nova Scotia, New Finland and Labrador, etc. They pay rent for the season to park their RV’s in Florida. When the Government announced closing the border, many were still here in Florida. They must be back in their country before their time-limit of being out of their country expires or they lose their insurance benefits. For obvious reasons, they had to figure out how to get back home. So Canada and surrounding areas had an influx of people traveling back home from the US. This is complicated by having extremely limited over-night parking available, as State Parks and Rest Stop facilities closed in large numbers. Financially, this caused a strain for many, as CG’s are cancelling reservations, but not all are giving out refunds. Some are issuing credit for future dates, but sometimes, you don’t have an option to return, as things change. This can be hundreds of dollars for some, and thousands for others, but not a good scenario.

People that own winter lots or homes in the south want to isolate here in the south, where the weather is warm and sunny. But suddenly, their state says it is forbidden to leave, or the state where they’re traveling to says we don’t want you! You must isolate or else! And forget about coming to the beaches. They are closed even to Florida residents!

People in military family CG’s all across the US were given just days to vacate due to non-essential personnel being laid off during the Rona virus. They try to find other CG’s to accommodate a lengthy stay, but private CG’s began closing their doors to new reservations, including ours. They also found themselves having to wait in long lines for check points along the highways to enter certain states, and then told they must quarantine for 14 days if they enter. Only, they haven’t found a place to park the RV yet for 14 days, or simply can’t stay long enough in the state requiring it. Some places that used to let RV’s park overnight are no longer permitting them to do so (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, etc.), which forces them to find a CG. It is simply a mess and quite frustrating for those trying to drive their RV’s to any place to hunker down.

For those of us that are stationary, we are sick of being isolated! It is a much smaller space than a house and most of us are very social and outdoor people. Suddenly, they say not to gather in groups. You can go outside, but if it’s raining, you can’t. So we sit in a one-room house and wait for the rain to stop. When I cook or bake, our refrigerator is positioned past the TV, and I cross in front of it to get into the Frig. (need I say more). Normally, we go shopping, dining at the beach, drinking with friends or whatever social activity you can think of. But now we can’t. We have to socialize at one’s RV with fewer people, 6 feet apart. I have my own lung issues even when the rest of the world is great, so I am very cautious.

I’m so tired of isolation, sick of the news, and sicker of the word Covid-19! It is Bizarre to think that all of this is going to go away after the curve starts to flatten. We talk about the “New Normal” like it’s going to be a good thing, yet, I walk around everywhere with people in masks and gloves (when it almost 90 degrees) and feel like I’m in a movie just to run into the Dollar Store! I highly doubt that anyone is going to be excited about travel, going to the movies, going to a casino, getting on a plane, working again in close proximity to anyone, or dining out ANYTIME SOON! Bars may be closed indefinitely!

THINK ABOUT THIS: Remember all the impatient A- holes you lived with before Covid-19? THEY ARE STILL ALL OUT THERE! So imagine this; you are waiting in a TSA line to get on a flight. Remember those long lines? They are GOING TO BE LONGER once they spread us all out 6 feet apart! Remember getting on a wait list to get into your favorite restaurant? You are going to be waiting LONGER! They will have to do extra wipe-downs disinfecting everything everyone before you has touched! Remember going to your favorite amusement parks? Would you want to stand in line all day waiting for the next 50 people to be able to enter? “I’m sorry, we can only let 50-100 people in at a time.” Yeah, the impatient dude behind you is going to burst wide open at the seams, and 6 feet is NOT far enough away for me to be around him when he does!

Lines will be longer, disinfecting will drive you crazy between customers, you may or may not have a job to return to, because they might just realize that NON essential personnel are never going to be as essential as they once were thought to be. Whatever you thought was normal before, will likely never be normal again (that is what they are calling the “New Normal”) and the impatience will make it very ugly out there, so we might as well get used to a new normal of highly agitated and ignorant people, only they must stay 6 feet away from you! That is the only consolation. The thought of all of that just might make you crazy enough to drink your Lysol or Bleach! Did I just say that out loud? Sorry, I was just being sarcastic. Haha! Don’t try it because you can’t sue them now that they put it on their labels not to ingest or inject it.

So, isolation, social distancing or a vaccine. That is what we’ve got for now and what we hope for tomorrow. That’s it folks. The Rona is not going to just disappear. It is hard for me to make fun of anything right now because I haven’t been laughing much during a period of 30 days of isolation. Some people probably believe that to be too harsh. But I call it saving lives. The people you have in your RV community going to grocery stores, Drug stores, Doctors, Hospitals and where ever else you gotta go, that have no symptoms and congregating together, all feel safe. But the more you run around, you increase the odds that someone may come in contact with the Rona and pass it on. I am missing a lot of people, but wasn’t willing to risk it. An Em-path will understand. The more you care about people, the more you do to protect them.

I always leave politics and religion out of my Blog, and I usually try to infuse my writing with humor and a scent of sarcasm. I’m just going to say it folks. There IS NO REALITY anymore. You can’t believe anything you hear because “they say” everything is “Fake News.” If you can only believe certain news channels, which ones do you believe? Do you have a crystal ball that says the one you’re watching is the real news, and mine is not? Is this when you phone a friend and advise them that what they just watched was the fake stuff, or you’ve just been punk’d? We are living in a Twilight Zone of events where the entire world is making fun of our Leaders. People believe this is Okay. It’s not. It started long ago when social media thought it was cool for our President to be tweeting and on Facebook. It is NOT! It allows adult bullying and disrespect like we have never seen or tolerated before in our lifetimes. It exposes our weaknesses to the entire world. This is NOT a good thing and you are not going to pray it all away. So I can say with all honesty that the new normal is not a good place. It is very hard to be an Em-path in a world full of Narcissism and bullies. I want to go into hiding for whatever the election brings because I cannot bare witness to it. This is that one time in your life when “the good ole days” really were much better, and I wanna go back. Please come back!

There is going to be no better time to buy an RV than once the travel bans are lifted! Hit the road and don’t look back Jack! Get in your toad with the windows down and let your hair blow in the wind! Enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and LIFE! It’s too precious to waste, but isolation is going to be a good thing for many people that cannot tolerate the stupidity that is coming like a plague. It could be worse than the pandemic itself inflicting hatred and fear. You can pray about that all you want, but even God hasn’t stopped the Stupid, (free will clause) and we will be surrounded by it!

AS for hair appointments, manis and pedis, eating out, and all the things Non-RVers usually worry about? FT RVers don’t give a hoot about those things! Let your hair grow, get some sunshine highlights, trim your nails and go El naturel! I don’t miss any of those things as much as I miss family and friends and the way life used to be! I miss the world as it once was, full of kindness and respect. If you think it’s back? Just you wait and see when this is all a memory. WE will all have to work really hard with absolutely no pay to get any of that back, but that would be a reward worth working for. Don’t ya think? Maybe they will come up with a vaccine one day to fix Stupid. One can hope, but that day is likely never to come. So go get yourself an RV and be free….

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Isolation Walk

 

 

Covid 19 and Full Time RVers

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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historical Site, Cross Creek, FL

These are certainly different times we are living in folks; wouldn’t you say? As I sit here in our Beast writing to all of you, I know many people are in a scurry to vacate State Park CG’s, Military CG’s, some private CG’s, and even some BLM public lands! The question on most Full Timer’s minds today is; “where do we go to isolate?” Ironic, since most FTers are pros at this on a daily basis. We are “self-contained” most days of our lives when the rest of the world is not. We can supply our own electricity, store water, contain waste, etc. for weeks at a time in the middle of nowhere, but suddenly there is nowhere to be! We live in close quarters every single day of our lives, so this situation is not new.

Luckily, for us, we made the decision a long time ago, to have a Plan B. Anyone that has read my blog in the past would have expected me to say that. It’s very TRUE! WE own a Lot in an RV Resort that has been available whenever we wanted or needed it! I believe we all should have a home base of some sort to have for the emergency that hurricanes, devastating fires, unexpected illness, and even death of your spouse/partner that eventually can and will wreak havoc in our lives. But, who knew it would be an invisible enemy of war against our entire world that would inflict such pain and suffering among us? I can already see the motion picture in my mind that will one day be in theaters around the world based on this very true story. Oh, the spin they will put on it will be worth the money to see it!

I promise to my readers that I will not be political, racial or religious in this blog. But, I am going to try and be a bit funny with my usual twist of truth and sarcasm. If you are a returning visitor, you are expecting me to make you laugh. If you are new to my blog, everything I write is based on my opinions or truth, and as such, not intended to be negative. Kindly move on if you don’t like my style. You’ve been advised.

So, here we are facing an invisible monster, sort of like a “Predator” movie in my own mind, trying to destroy us all! We are all affected, but hoping NOT to be infected, as we tune in to the news, TV, or social media daily for updates on a plan of attack. I am sure I am not the only one that has anxiety issues that I try to keep in-check daily, even long before this war started. I am also a bit of a germ-hating being, but not a total germaphobe. I do however, relate with “Sheldon” on The Big Bang Theory in many instances! I sort of wish they could bring back the show just to see a funny version on COVID-19 and Sheldon’s reaction to it all. Could you just picture someone sneezing and his facial expression in slow motion? I certainly can, and I am laughing right this minute! However, I am probably guilty of that same look whenever my DH sneezes in the motorhome. It could be black pepper, but I still shutter.

Getting back to the current situation, I am curious to find out what everyone is doing. I wish they would spend more time actually interviewing people like FT RVers and how all of this “sheltering in place” has up-rooted them from many of the parks and CG’s, leaving them basically homeless. Let’s talk about the truck drivers that are delivering supplies that keep the hoarders happy! Let’s talk about the communities coming together (but not physically together) to come up with solutions for getting things done, especially for elderly people and families in need. Oh, but NO! The media must stay focused on the real picture and keep us scared to death! Why don’t they just put up pictures every evening like at the military recruiter’s office, “COVID-19 WANTS YOU!!” or, “Spreading faster than flies flock to shit!” with our favorite poop emoji surrounded by flies. I’ll stop with that.

In my world of how I deal with reality, I must add a taste of humor, or I would be huddled in the corner with a canister of Lysol, scared to step outside! I still feel like doing that some days, but I am obsessed with doing the right thing in my life. I stay informed, but we get in our car and take a harmless drive thru the country to rejuvenate our mind and soul. (The photo above was taken on one of those drives recently.) We gather in very small groups to have a happy hour with the people in “Our Bubble”, as we like to call it, on one of our RV sites. We have not been very welcoming to any “new” folks lately, and that kind-of sucks, but we feel comfortable with each other’s daily task of being careful! If we don’t know you, (you’re out of our Bubble), now is not the time to get to know you, and we apologize. We’ll catch ya later after the war is over.

I mostly tune out from the news and watch light-hearted TV shows. I do a bit of shopping to support local small businesses back home. I plan meals to cook conservatively so I don’t have to replenish groceries often. I go on Facebook and communicate with friends and family, but I avert many negative or mean conversations on Facebook, or I find my blood rushing thru my veins enough to almost pass out (or did I just get off the recliner too fast?) Disasters will always bring out the best of people ONLY in the best people. (read that again) Disasters will always bring out the worst in people ONLY in the worst people. Disasters will always bring out the cynics ONLY if they are cynical. NEVER fails! EVERY SINGLE DISASTER, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

So, why does it surprise so many people when you see it or hear it happen? That is my question. The media will blow everything up EVERY time, and this surprises anyone? If you think that CNN (insert any news channel you dislike) should go to jail because of their line of questioning, wouldn’t they already be in jail? If you didn’t like our leaders before this war, how do ya like them now? If you thought people sucked before, I am certainly not going to ask how you feel about them now. But I have lived thru the Great Recession over a decade ago, so this is not my 1st rodeo with losing my ass and economic disasters, nor is it my first time being among the ignorance that goes along with every disaster. But, this is my 1st Pandemic, and I pray it’s my last. NOT that I wouldn’t want to live through this one, I just don’t want to see another one in my lifetime, so you get the gist!!

Huggers are in distress. Haters are hatin. Promoters are promotin. Scammers are scammin. Gamers are gamin. Tweeters are tweetin. Preachers are preachin. Whiners are complaining. Complainers are whining. Social media is crazy and politics are the same as usual. Rebels finally have a cause. If you hated our President before this war, he’s not winning your vote. If you loved our President before this war, it doesn’t matter whether he’s right or wrong, he already had your vote. Germophobics are staying home, as we ALL should, but College kids think they are invincible and crowding our beaches. Shelter in place, or flock to Florida. The blamers are playing a great blame game. Are you willing to cast the 1st stone? If you think COVID-19 is a hoax, providing you don’t get infected, or die, it’s certainly was a Hoax. We should be doing more! We are doing too much! Officials are over reacting.  Officials are not acting fast enough. If millions of people die, no one focuses on the stock market. If millions of people don’t die, was it worth crashing our market? If you were broke before the war, you lost nothing. If you were rich before the war, you’re still rich. We have nothing to lose, but if we die, we had nothing to gain. Some will win and some will lose. Some are just simply losers. Some will run. Some will hide. Some will get sick and some will die.

Nothing is going to change unless you change the way you think! NEVER! So for what it is worth, be cautious, be safe, hurt no one purposely, and try not to hate. Be willing, be fair, help who you can, and if you’re hoarding, PLEASE spare a square!

I hope by my next blog that this war is over, and I truly hope all my fellow RV friends have found a temporary place to park and hunker down for now. As for me and my hubby, we are hunkering down permanently in Florida. We are selling the Beast, and perhaps one day in the future, will downsize the motorhome to travel more economically. And maybe we will just have to try a hotel room from time to time! But one thing is certain. I will always be able to turn to the ocean when I need to, because I will never be that far away! I just continue to believe that we will survive this war and enjoy a new home and the beach will mean so much more on our very next visit there…

Good Luck to all of you, where ever you may be!!

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Our New Home

 

Let’s Get Snarky

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Crows Nest at Grand Lake RV and Golf Resort

I am a member of several RV Groups on Facebook and each one targets a specific group of RVers; “Full-Time RVers” is for anyone living in their RV. “Tiffin Motorhome Owners Group” is for Tiffin owners seeking technical advice or simple solutions from fellow Tiffinites (owners). “Tiffin Motorhome Lifestyle” is for Tiffin owners that don’t want to talk shop, but rather talk travel delights and share ideas and photos. Negative issues will get you tossed out or un-friended. “Tiffin Motorhomes For Sale” is a great resource to list/sell your Tiffin or for owner wannabe’s to purchase a used one.

For anyone owning or just thinking of owning an RV, there are many groups available to choose from varying in the level of expertise and experience from other RVers. I believe the reason for my Blog having so many readers tuning in, is that there are wanderlust folks craving the lifestyle, but many have questions and endless curiosity about it. I am here to tell you, (and my followers already know this), I talk the truth and nothing but the truth on the subject and share my personal adventures with FT RV life! That said, be careful what Group you choose to be a member of and follow because Snarky is the name of that game!

You might be reading my blog for the first time and asking yourself, what makes her an expert on the subject? Experts say, it takes at least 10 years to be considered and expert in your field. For the mathematicians out there: Based on a normal job (52 weeks at a normal 40 hr work wk, minus 120 hrs for holidays/vacations = 1960 hrs/yr) x 10. That is 19,600 hours at a job to be considered for the title of Expert. However, the hours you spend living in an RV is 24 hrs/day, 365 days/yr, so it adds up more quickly. I have 24,840 hrs as a FT RVer, and approximately 6800 hrs as a PT RVer, for a grand total of at least 31,640 hours in an RV. So I am considered to be at the top of the class, if nothing else.

So why are we surrounded by idiots in most of these groups? I’m sorry! That was rude! That is, to say; idiot responses to most questions! All FT RVers know most of all the day-to-day answers to “shits gone wrong” questions because we have all experienced shit going wrong at some point. But, every now and then, a mind boggling situation occurs. For instance; An odometer reads 27,721. One drives over 1000 miles south, parks the motorhome for winter, and doesn’t look at the mileage again for quite some time. When one looks at the odometer again and it reads 22,781, the wife doesn’t have to do the math and shakes her head. What is wrong with this picture? Wife gets up and looks at the odometer herself because she knows there is no freaking way that number is correct. Wondering just how many beers “one” has had, wife sees with her very own eyes that he is correct! (Face of bewilderment.) Moving on, one gets on Tiffin Motorhome Owners Grp (the site for technical advice.) Let’s just say, when I came across this story, I had to read it, and found it to be astounding! Please allow me to share some of the answers to the mathematical story problem stated above:

“Time machine..lol…or maybe it’s on trip mode.” I laughed, because that was expected, but funny! “Space time continuum?” What else could it be?? “Seriously cumulative leap days?” “Did it read 28,000 before or after happy hour?” Seriously, that was FUNNY! “Looks like you’ve driven a lot of miles in reverse. Try the D button on your selector!” “Sorry, but I don’t have a clue as to why this should happen.” “Part DeLorean?” All of this is quite an amusing read, but this poor guy needs an answer. The fun continues. One of my favorites: “Keep driving. Pretty soon you’ll have a brand new rig!” “Somewhere along the way you hit 88 mph and 1.21 Jigawatts…” All very amusing, and the laughing continues. And then…the idiot rears his ugly head and says, “You know you can call Tiffin instead of trying to make Tiffin look bad.” Hmmm. So remind me, why do we have a site for Tiffinites to ask technical questions???? Someone else reads what I saw, and replied, “You must have misunderstood the issue (nice way to say idiot), otherwise, your comment would seem unnecessary on an overwhelmingly positive site where lots of folks go for help and give help.” Another nice guy says, “It doesn’t seem to me that he is trying to make Tiffin look bad. He’s just trying to get some help.” BINGO!

This is just one site and one circumstance. I could write for days on this subject!! Another Lady tells the sad story of her husband’s passing and wants advice for if she continues to RV with her doggy companion. She expresses that it scares her to read all the technical problems that arise daily on the road, as she has read on the Tiffin site. One lady gave good advice to; “Ignore all the snarkiness on these sites.” But some others were frankly not good advice at all, in my opinion. If you knew the woman’s mental capacity, money situation, and ability to drive the rig? Maybe, just maybe, you could give her some intelligent advice. But these comments are not good advice without the facts: “Don’t be afraid of problems. They are all part of the adventure!” Now, if you were a licensed therapist and gave this advice to a patient that had severe anxiety or depression, I would ask you; “When is your last day not counting tomorrow?” Or; “Let me tell you where you can apply for unemployment…” This is like leading a lamb to slaughter if she’s not experienced, or at least capable! Here’s another good one to ponder; “Things will happen, just like in your home.” Well, what if her husband used to take care of everything that broke? Does she know how to fix a broken anything? If not, does she have the funds to call Ghost Busters every single time? I also liked, “Anything that breaks can be fixed.” YES! And I have ENDLESS amounts of cash to fix it! How about; “The joy is in the adventure!” Again, do you know what gives this Widow joy? I’ll bet, if you asked her face to face, she would have included her husband in that answer without thinking. But if traveling brings her joy? Wish her well on her efforts to continue, but give her some real advice, to save enough cash for a “plan B” if it doesn’t work for her. Be realistic folks. Even a “couple” can have a hard time keeping up with all the stuff that goes wrong! How about this for advice; “Don’t spend your life worrying about what if.” Haven’t you heard the stories that when someone is given just months to live and wish they wouldn’t have worried so much? They let go of all their worries for the first time in their life and just LIVE like there’s no tomorrow? That’s because they know there is no tomorrow! It is very sad, YES! But for many of us, there is a tomorrow and it is O.K. to plan intelligently for the future, within reason! This Widow knows that tomorrow isn’t promised. Her husband has left her behind. ALONE. It is okay to travel and live life. But it’s always okay to plan your trips, isn’t it???

And, my favorite response and FT’er subject of all; “It’s just like a house!” O! M! G! Gets me fired up every time I hear someone say it! NO! IT’S NOT! You buy a new house. How many times did your electrical system fail you in the first ten years? Water heater? Did your roof ever leak in the first ten years? Did your slide ever malfunction in your house? OH, yeah, there are NO slides! Problems with your jacks? House not sitting level? RIGHT!! Your house doesn’t move! Did you have to replace not one, but two AC units in less than 5 years when they failed? Oh, your house has an attic fan? I bet it doesn’t break and send debris flying through your vents at 2:00 am, sounding like a plane just landed on your roof! And if you didn’t have the money, could you just put a window unit in temporarily because your family is visiting tomorrow? Did your steps ever fail you in your house? Yeah, concrete doesn’t move! Did you have to wait over two weeks for your new microwave to be installed? Oh, you went to Walmart and got a cheap one temporarily and use it for your garage now. Yes, RVers on the road don’t have that option. So, are you telling me that if this recently Widowed woman was in a house, and her refrigerator failed, that it is no different? I’ll bet she has to wait for a comparable unit to be ordered. That is, after making call after call to find a reputable RV dealer somewhere close to her to install it. Then, she will probably have to pack up her house and move it to the dealership for installation. If they are not “pet friendly”, she has to remove her doggy companion for the day and entrust her house with that dealer for the day. Oh, and if they run into an issue? She might have to find pet-friendly over-night accommodations. Did I mention, she has no refrigerator for what seems like an eternity? Me; said widow, living in a house scenario: “Shoot! The frig isn’t working!” Quick, close the door so it will stay cold. Feed the dog. Measure the refrigerator. Drive to Home Depot or Lowe’s while doggy is safely in the house. Pick out a lovely new refrigerator with the latest features. Actually upgrade to the Stainless Steel one I really wanted! Pay by credit card. Arrange for delivery later that day, tomorrow, worst case scenario, because it’s in stock. Go home. Doggy is happy to see me! Order pizza. Open a bottle of good wine. The only call I had to make was to my sister to tell her all about my beautiful new refrigerator being delivered in the morning. WOW, I’m exhausted! I think I’ll watch Hallmark and go to bed because I have a NEW REFRIGERATOR being delivered first thing tomorrow!!

NOT! THE! SAME! PEOPLE!   

Quit giving stupid advice! I believe I will have to end my visits to these sites before I loose my mind completely. We existed before them, and I believe there is life happily ever after…

P.S. My DH just asked me to help him move the house back about two feet. Wheel covers off, disconnect the waste hose, start your engine, slides in, jacks up. Let me hear you you say it:

“JUST LIKE A HOUSE!”

Reality

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L T’s Land & Sea (That’s me, Painter of Shells)

I was recently kayaking down one of the many rivers here in North Central Florida with some friends on a warm sunny delicious day! I am not a very experienced kayaker. In fact, I have only done it once prior to this down in Key West on calm Gulf waters, but I learned how to do it correctly by a pro, so I was confident to do it here on a calm river. It was beautiful and awesome, but suddenly, things went very badly. I can’t recall exactly what happened, but in the blink of an eye, I was in the cold water thinking, “WOW! What the hell just happened?” Did a manatee just flip my ass right over or what? This was certainly an unexpected turn of events! My friends were just as shocked as me, from the blank expressions on their faces, or was it because they were looking to the bank of the river at something else? I turned my head to look at the shore as I was treading water that was deeper than I thought it would be. It was in slow motion, as I recall, that I met the eyes of several alligators basking in the sun, when one of them suddenly slithered down the steep bank like a stealth fighter entering a watery battle zone! All the fear a person can fit into one lifetime reached my heart like an explosion and my adrenaline kicked in very hard! I swam until my feet finally reached the swampy bottom of the riverbank and realized my friends were now screaming at me in horror as they sat in their kayaks helpless. I never looked behind me during this eternity of clawing my way up the steep rocky mucky bank to get up completely out of the water and safely on shore. I never even thought about the other alligators that must have been watching this whole scenario as they waited patiently for their next meal to get closer to them! But, I was praying “Dear GOD and ALL THINGS HOLY, PLEASE GET ME SAFELY OUT OF THIS RIVER!!!” I woke up in a hot sweaty mess in my bed, heart still pounding, but very safe and very alive. Isn’t it amazing the fear you can experience in a dream or a nightmare? I am not sure that I will ever want to kayak again, and to all my friends here who do, STAY SAFE and don’t get too close to those alligators! I’m talking about you, Gary!

I felt like I was the leading lady on “Swamp People” starring in an episode called Death by Alligators! I can hear Troy shouting “Shoot him Liz, SHOOT HIM!” The reality of these shows though are certainly not what they seem. Thankfully, many are staged and no one is in as much danger as they portray on TV. I feel that way about my FT RV life many times. It is simply NOT what it seems like to most of the people that don’t know anything about it. I read a fellow blogger’s post last month and it made me laugh. She also felt this way, so I am certainly not alone. I would like to share a few of my thoughts with my readers on this subject.

It is a total reality that we do have fun and we have made great friends. We have just celebrated another beautiful holiday season here in our Florida RV resort with a great group of people we call friends. Christmas Eve, we shared a wonderful evening of hors d’oeuvres and Italian Wedding soup, ending with a game called “Catch Phrase”, and had many laughs. Christmas morning we held a brunch at our clubhouse with great food, eggnog and a fun gift exchange with about 15 people. That evening, we were invited to a wonderful dinner featuring beef tenderloin cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth! New Year’s Eve was a martini evening with snacks followed by a delicious lasagna as the main course. After eating till we were all contented, we played a game called “Heart to Heart” (the conversation cards) that bring about some great adult conversations and hilarious laughs! I don’t know how after several cosmopolitans, but I did manage to see the New Year ring in on TV and texted my sisters. Good Times, eh?!

But it’s not always shits and giggles. The other reality is, that when the holidays are over and we are just living life, day in and day out, we’re dealing with all the same things people with sticks & bricks (houses) deal with. We pay our bills, which are rarely ever less than when we had our house. We deal with cold or rainy, windy weather just like everyone else, no matter that we are south away from snow. When it is crappy, we are stuck in the same room together all day long. You almost feel like you’re being held captive when it’s rainy or cold because no one wants everyone in their motorhomes, and no one wants to have happy hour in the windy cold outdoors.

Repairs are certainly a reality. At around 2:00am, our air conditioner’s fan (the plastic one that they call “squirrel cage” or fan blower) decided to break, which sounds like a continuous splitting of your rig’s roof and will certainly start your adrenaline flowing or give you a heart attack! Of course, when you are startled out of a sound sleep, you are trying to figure out what you’re hearing, as well as what the particles are being thrown at your face from the AC vent! It doesn’t take you long to find the AC switch in the dark and shut it OFF, which I find rather amazing that your brain can function that quick under duress. Attention all RV owners: You may want to order a spare one of these fans before you need it because you will be without a heat pump or AC unit, and finding one in the middle of nowhere is not what you want. Everyone we know has some sort of repair to deal with pretty much all the time, so if it isn’t us, DH is helping someone else.

Here’s another reality check. Several people die every year on the road and a spouse is left behind wondering what in the hell they are going to do. Eventually, health usually dictates the need to get off the road. Like a fellow FT RVer recently stated in a post; “Buying a home while you still have the money is not a waste.” Some will argue this point forever, but I am 100% in agreement with this guy! Your RV depreciates every single day and all of its mechanical parts will go to heaven eventually…

And one of the biggest FT RV reality checks? We don’t travel all the time! In fact, most of us are doing the same thing people without RV’s are doing; spending winter somewhere warm and going back to hometowns in the summers to be with family and friends! That is probably the biggest disappointing statement to those wanting to do this, but just like looking at beautiful ocean-front cottages, only a small percent of us can actually afford to own one. We can’t travel all the time because it is expensive. Unless you want to boondock on BLM  land (Bureau of Land Management- public land) conserving water and constantly in search of a dump station (or dumping illegally, which happens more often than most will ever admit), most people just can’t afford the lifestyle they imagined. So we live in upscale parks with Six Wheels Down and a few road trips here and there. And for those that really can own it all? The latest and greatest in the South is to buy an RV Home (house with RV garage attached!) They own a house, store their RV on their own property, and travel up North to see family in the summer, returning South in the winter, Yes, Florida residents and snowbirds too! Can you spell $$$$$?

Finally, I’d like to share an exciting reality for folks back home. I would like to share this with our Superbowl fans: In our hometown, there is a young  man that went to Cloverleaf HS and played football with the Colts. He went on to Harvard, played football and graduated with honors. In 2013, Kyle was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and was a very successful Full Back. In 2017, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, also as a Full Back/Running Back. (Also a 4x Pro Bowl player) Kyle Juszczyk #44 is one of the most successful Full Backs in NFL history and helped win the Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. He is now about to play the game of his life, Superbowl 54 on Sunday February 2nd, 2020! He is our neighbor Shari’s Son, and we couldn’t be more excited for her and all of Kyle’s family! We want to wish Kyle and the Niner’s much luck and a successful game for a Superbowl Championship!! WE love you Shari and we will be watching #44!!!!

GO NINERS!!

Temporarily Out of Order

Dear Readers,

I am temporarily without my computer, which is why I have not written a January blog. I have plenty to tell, but I don’t write on my phone, so please be patient with me. We actually purchased a computer for me over a week ago and went to pick it up Sunday (yesterday). Would you believe they could not take it out of “safe mode”? Oh how that makes me laugh! My whole life in this RV has been lived out of “safe mode”! But a computer won’t let you in unless it’s safe!🤣😂

So, the reality is, I may not have a computer for another week. This is one of the busiest Best Buy stores I have ever been in, so once they figure this all out (or give me a new computer and start all over again), it may be awhile before they can schedule my pick up.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and a good start on the new decade! I hope to post my next story soon so keep an eye out for it and hope you are somewhere safe and warm! 😉

A Love / Hate Relationship

We have been so busy since arriving in our Florida winter destination that this is my first blog since November! We experienced hazy, hot & humid summer days upon our arrival for several weeks, which led us to the pool daily and many evening happy hours. We had some catching up to do with our friends here at the RV resort, and also with some annual lot maintenance. We celebrated Thanksgiving this year amongst our resort friends at our Social Hall on the premises. This was the first time in a long time that I did not prepare a large feast. It was rather nice not having all the clean up and enjoying the camaraderie of good friends, as we are all without family members from up North. So here we are entering another Holiday Season with Six Wheels Down.

With the arrival of Thanksgiving and reflecting on all that we are grateful for, I go through this unsettling feeling every year that we have been away from our hometown over the holidays. It is very hard to explain how I can feel euphoric, and yet, depressed all in one day. I now call this strange eventful feeling the “Love/Hate Relationship” with FT RV life. There is so much to be thankful for, yet so much I dislike. And that’s how the fight started! No, Hubby and I are doing fine. The fight is within my own mind and the struggle is coping with the changes that RV life has forced on me over the years. I figure that many FT RV’ers are reading my blog, since I have many followers, so perhaps you can relate. Even if you are just contemplating a Snowbird lifestyle, you might want to follow along this journey. So let’s begin a little game of Love/Hate & Relate.

I love the beauty of a warmer climate during the cold brutal winters that our Northern and Midwestern folks deal with. I was just sitting outside in the sun to dry my hair after a shower and I love not having to blow dry my mop of hair! We enjoy getting in the car on cooler days and going for a drive to explore new things. We never worry about slippery wintery roads or rain turning to whiteout conditions. We don’t own or ever need a snow blower. Need I say more? But, I hate that decorating for the holidays feels like Christmas in July! If I don’t play Christmas music, I’d feel like a senile old lady that can’t figure out what month it is. When I do play Christmas music, everything I hear is a “white” this and a “white” that, and I feel like if I don’t have a fire blazing, that I can never achieve the merry and bright! No matter how many wonderful friends we have and celebrate with, there is always that yearning for the “ones you love” and cannot be with. I won’t be home for Christmas, and it most certainly won’t be a “white” one. However, I have less stress, and no need for a little black dress. Merry, Bright and casual every day.

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Christmas Tree 2019

I love never having to pack up anything to go on vacation. Everything I need is with me all the time. So if we decide to go “South” for a week or so, it’s like pulling up anchor and off ya go! Just FYI; When you live in Florida, going South means Key West. Going to the grocery or liquor store to stock up on a few things is as much preparation as I need. I also love it that wherever we go, we know someone there to meet up with and socialize with. We have met so many good people since 2011, that we never go anywhere that someone isn’t close by. In fact, we get in trouble if we forget that someone is near us and don’t make that call! But, I hate driving down the road with my house and car in tow. I know that sounds funny if you’re a Full Timer, right? But in a Class A, our house and all of it’s contents are in ear shot behind us. We hear everything shake, rattle and roll as we travel America’s roads, and they are not all great roads! Birmingham, AL and some areas of Indiana and Ohio come to mind. If you have been following our adventures, you’ll remember that we lost our tail pipe after miles of bouncing along I65N. I sometimes sit in the passenger seat quietly wondering just how much our home is depreciating every time we travel. I worry that if something expensive breaks, will it be covered by our insurance? Will we have to be towed? If we have to be towed, where will we stay if we have to wait for days or weeks for parts? Will the contents of my house be safe? And then I thank GOD for alcohol. Our tradition of toasting at the end of every travel day started on day one in Tin Lizzy; “Here’s to another safe day of travel!” Life is good.

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All past gifts I cherish

I love that life is so much more simple living in an RV. Less area to clean, less clothes and shoes are needed, and if you don’t like where you are living, you just move on to the next area of interest. If you have a few plants or tend to a little garden, your watering is done in no time at all. Decorating for a holiday doesn’t take days or a lot of money, it usually takes a few hours and a little imagination. You never have to worry about entertaining large groups of people, because you can only comfortably fit up to 4 or 6 people. But simple doesn’t always cut it. I hate that the things I used to take for granted are no longer available or easy to come by. Good Healthcare becomes so important with age and is never guaranteed when you travel. You don’t just pull up your PCP’s number on your phone and make an appointment. You may have to wait forever to get an appointment, so you go to a Jack in the Box Doc for emergency care and hope for the best. Don’t even get me started about a dentist! (I am scared even when I go to my dentist I’ve known for years!) I feel like we better stay healthy until we can return to our health care professionals up North or we are at the Mercy of Dr. Whatever. I can hear my Dad saying “When it’s your time, it’s your time.” But nobody ever wants it to be “their time!” Thankfully, we have only had a couple of emergencies over all these years and we both lived to tell. There is something to be thankful for!

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Childhood Santa Winky cup

So how many of you can relate? Is this a familiar story for you? Do you miss celebrating Holidays at home with your family? Do the blues pass when the holiday is over? For me, I believe that if you come from a close, loving, caring family, rich with tradition, as I did; You never really get over it. You deal with it, as best that you can. But this is not only something that RV’ers deal with. This is life. This is me getting older and missing the good old days. My Mother left from this world over 13 years ago, and my Dad almost 4 years ago. This leaves me yearning for the days that they were here with our family making all the traditions that I dearly miss. The huge Christmas tree that my Mother would beg my Dad every year not to get so big that it filled the entire room, but still loved him when he did! The unbelievable amount of delicious cookies we baked and food served over a perfectly set table with linen and lace tablecloth and candles atop! The endless hours of music that emanated from our house, as our parents were both musicians that taught us all to play an instrument or sing for enjoyment. We had endless outdoor fun in the snow, making snow Angels, snowmen, forts and ice skating. Bells were always ringing, as the Elves were always watching us to see if we were bad or good. These are just a few of my favorite things, but, as we have all experienced, life changes and there is no stopping it. Every day is what we make it, no matter where we are, so try to live them good!

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Crocheted by my Grandma and my Mother used for Santa’s Elves

My wish for all of you is to enjoy your Holidays no matter what you do, who you’re with or where you are. Have a Happy New Year and may all your dreams come true! Thank you all for following my life on the road this past year and I hope you’ll continue along with Six Wheels Down in 2020!

Merry Christmas

 

 

 

 

2019 Southern Route

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East River Tunnel, Bluefield, WV

We started our trip south this year on October 18th. The roads weren’t too bad and we were lucky not to run into much construction or heavy snowbird traffic. Every now and then, a little “white line syndrome” snuck up on me, like the East River Tunnel crossing on the West Virginia Turnpike (pictured above). We had Billy Big Rigger in the right lane and we couldn’t get passed him enough to move into the right lane before entering the tunnel. So, he decided to pass us on the right while we were in the tunnel just to remind us that trucks rule. Needless to say, I was feeling a little boxed in for these moments as I focused on that white light at the end of the tunnel! Phew!

We took I77S to I26E to I95S to I295S Beltway, to arrive in Jacksonville, FL on October 21st. It normally takes us 3 days to arrive at Pelican Roost CG (Military only, and one of our favorite stops!) but for 3 years in a row now, we have run into delays prompted by Hurricanes & tropical conditions. For this year, we would have had to drive right thru the cone of “Nestor” to arrive in Walterboro, SC. It was only windy and rainy conditions, but when you don’t have to do it, why do it? High profile vehicles are heavy and you don’t think of them just blowing over, but they do! I do not want to be one of those RV’s that you see laying on their side in the middle of the interstate on the world news. Those are usually the people that think nothing can ever happen to them…and yes, it does. Safe is always better than sorry, which is another way of saying; Smart is always better than Stupid. Sometimes my DH thinks out loud and will say something like “it’s just a little wind and rain.” I just remind him of the smart/stupid rule and that we really have no schedule. So, we arrived safely this year one day later than usual, and all was well.

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Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge over the St. Johns River

I always hate this bridge (pictured above) on I295 going into Jacksonville over the St. John’s River, but we have safely crossed every year on route to our destination. Roger used to stay in the right lane, but has kindly obliged my request to stay in the middle lane until we exit the bridge. I can breathe so much easier for that minute or so, which feels like 10 minutes when you suffer anxiety like I do. He now just says “Yes Dear” upon my lane request. I answer with a “Thank you Dear” and life is good!

We stayed 6 nights and had a wonderful time! Our friends, Cheryl and Dave, from our Key West adventures met up with us and stayed for 3 nights. There was Happy Hour every evening at 4:00pm and daily shopping! St. Johns Town Center is an outdoor, pet friendly Mall, and has everything you could ever want, including Tiffany or a Tesla! Yes, there is a Tesla dealer and the boys really enjoyed that part of shopping!

The other Mall that Cheryl and I ventured out to by ourselves was called Regency Square. To quote Cheryl, “AKA, Zombie Land!” Allow me to explain. We arrived 10 minutes or so before 10:00am, so JC Penney was not opened yet. We drove around to the main Mall entrance and Food Court area thinking we would get coffee or tea, and were surprised to find a nearly empty parking lot. We parked the car and entered into the Food Court. Nothing was opened to buy coffee or tea. Almost every gate was down in front of the restaurants, with only one or two employees making preparations to open. One lady with a child-stroller sat in a very large cafeteria space with many empty table & chairs. We walked around the entire area and finally asked a woman if anyone was opened or could sell us coffee. She told us the pretzel place in the mall might be opened, but most food places don’t open until 11:00am. We walked into the mall and saw the pretzel shop was making preparations to open, but not really opened until 11:00am. No coffee or tea was available. So we skipped that idea and walked down to JC Penneys, which has now opened. Success! We had a lovely time shopping and looking, as we both enjoyed conversation and laughing. I am guessing we spent an hour or more there and we decided to move on and shop the rest of the mall. As we exited Penneys, it looked just like it did before 10:00am! Gates were still down and barely a soul around, as if nothing was opened yet. ???? We stared around, and then back at each other, as if we just stepped into the Twilight Zone! We were literally mystified and waiting for Zombies to come out in plain sight! We started to laugh out loud, but too weird to explain how laughing didn’t even feel appropriate, as if Zombies truly were about to come out for a mid-morning snack! Cheryl made the comment that you might have to “open the gates if you actually WANT people to come in and shop!!!” We did bust out a laugh at that moment and headed toward the opposite end of the Mall toward Belks and Dillards. According to the directory, we were standing right in front of what should have been Belks, and there was nothing but a wall! It was gone! All gone! A sign indicated that construction was in progress, and obviously, Belks was gone. So we decided to try one more store. Dillards. Yes! We will go to Dillards! So we walked just a little further and peered down this long, narrow empty hallway, which was the equivalent to a dark alley if it were outside, but closed in. We stopped and looked at each other again, totally shocked. Cheryl asked me “Do you want to go to Dillards?” “Nope! Not going down there! Definitely Zombies down there!” So eerily strange that we could barely laugh, so we turned around and headed back to the food court (where most gates were still down) and back out to the car. We decided to drive to Dillards instead of walking thru the obvious Zombie lunch trap tunnel!

Now, here comes the funny part. We could see Dillards from our car, but once we drove down to the store, there was not one car in the parking lot! NOT ONE! There were weeds growing up in the parking lot everywhere they could! It was like a scene from an apocalypse and we drove right onto the set! Still leaves me speechless, but Cheryl drove to the other side of the building, not sure what to expect, but expected something! And again, nothing! We saw a small sign on the door that said they opened at noon and that it was some kind of “sales center”, like a sales outlet center of some sort. But we opted to leave the Twilight Zone and get back to the real world and enjoyed a very nice lunch at The Olive Garden. We will never forget this bizarro-world experience EVER, for the rest of our lives because we survived Zombie Land! Nothing was mentioned about store closings or the possible closing of the mall when we Googled it, so you’ve been warned! Do NOT go there if you’re traveling in that area….

After our very pleasant stay in Jacksonville, we made it to our RV Resort on October 27th, which is our Winter home for this season. It is always so nice to meet up with old friends and make some new ones, as well! This is our seventh year in a row of Snowbirding for the winter in warm areas of Florida, but it is our first year to experience a beautiful outdoor wedding upon our return. On Saturday, November 2nd, a fabulous wedding took place here in our resort, and we were lucky enough to experience their outdoor nuptials with many friends in attendance! The Bride was dressed in an absolutely stunning off-the-shoulder, sweetheart neckline, ball-gown styled dress, with a sparkling tiara and mid-length veil, with a brilliant sparkling necklace! Her attendants wore peach, coral and soft teal dresses, also with necklaces that sparkled elegantly in the sunlight. Two adorable granddaughters were flower girls, and her sons and grandsons walked her down the street and onto a sheer white runner up the drive to meet her handsome Groom. He was dressed in black trousers, black patent shoes and a crisp summer-white shirt. They were married under a gorgeous floral archway with family and friends standing all around them to witness their vows to love one another for their lifetimes. Afterwards, we all attended a lovely reception at our Social Hall, where we enjoyed cocktails, dinner, dancing, and of course cake! All very lovely and Congratulations to the happy couple! So beautiful to see all your friends and family come together for your special day!

That’s a tough act to follow, so I will end right here, for now. Stay tuned my friends for more snowbird adventures, as we have several months to enjoy the winter in Florida. As always, thanks for following me with Six Wheels Down…