Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nothin' Could be Finer than to be in Carolina!

Home - on the beach and settled for an entire 5 weeks - yeah!

The trip from Jacksonville, FL to Lumberton, NC was easy - the sun was shinning and the temps were warm. I was up early on Wednesday morning to make the quick, 2-hour trip to the beach and get settled in at Winner's RV on Carolina Beach. Glenda & Shorty, the park's managers greeted me and stopped me from running into a low tree and tearing off my awning - phew! Got me parked, leveled, hooked up and all set.

I spent about an hour getting stuff out of drawers and making Winnie look like home, then called my hairdresser, who is all of a 5 minute walk, made an appointment and got my hair cut! Then I walked 5 minutes the other direction, renewed my library card and made a quick stop at the Sea Merchants grocery store to stock up on a few essentials.

With bread, milk, juice, 3 new books to read and 3 DVD's to watch (the only thing this park doesn't have is cable access), I was ready to just relax.

Friends Marty & Laura came over yesterday afternoon for a visit and to see my new home. They both loved it and wanted to run away and join me! Think Dave and Bill might object, though.

Darling Son #2 sent a large packet of mail and today I will spend time going through all that, then dinner with my good friend Beth this evening. Doctor appointments set for next week, made a call off Craig's List for a cute little Viking machine that I can travel with - can't go all summer without the ability to sew - and this afternoon Laura is going to swing by and run me over to my storage unit so I can rescue my golf clubs, some clothes and a few household items I returned with from St. Kitts.

So normal life resumes. Even without a car, I can walk almost everywhere I need to go and a good friend just up and offered me hers whenever I needed to run an errand off the beach or go to the doctor's. I do not even begin to know what I would do without my girlfriends!

I probably won't update my blog now until I am ready to 'wheels-up' the first of May unless something really spectacular occurs. Right now that would be the rain to stop, the sun to come out and me being able to walk across the street and enjoy the beach!

Until next time....take care of each other.


Monday, March 23, 2009

What Sun?!!!

I woke up this morning to rain, clouds and wind. It was time to head out and all I wanted to do was to crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. Carrie and Don wandered over to say good-bye and Don repaired my broken door handle and made sure I had assembled the new water filter I had purchased.

I got on the road later than planned, 9:15 a.m. and rolled into my Jacksonville campsite at 4:40 p.m. Not a terribly long way, but with torrential rains, large gusts of wind and smoke and fog (large fire mid-state), the day was terribly stressful. My neck, back and hands where clinched and it was hard to get out of Winnie when I arrived.

But what a pretty campsite, I just had to post some pictures. It's huge, with a lake in the middle with a water-spout and a wonderful flock of white birds soaring around. Had dinner at the on-site cafe - bar-b-cue ribs, slaw, fries and a local brew for $10. A whole group of RVers from The Villages are here and reminded me of why Carrie and Don and I hated this place so much last year when we spent 4 days there. Rude, loud and obnoxious. While standing in line to order dinner, some man just stepped in front of me, demanded a beer, and didn't once apologize or even ask. And people wonder why I travel alone?

The Weather Channel says only 'lite showers' tomorrow (which was their prediction for today, as well). I will traverse Georgia, South Carolina and get about 17 miles into NC before spending the night in Lumberton. That gives me about a 3-hour drive to Carolina Beach - Yeah! I'll be glad to park, relax and enjoy being 'home' for a month before wheel's up again.

Until next time ....take care of each other.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Basking in the Florida Sun!

For the past 5 days I have enjoyed the bright, warm sunshine of Central Florida - Ft. Myers to be exact. Because of the weather delay in Texas, my trip to The Keys was canceled and I drove to Ft. Myers to spend a wonderful time with my good friends Carrie & Don. They have a beautiful home right on the water where on the inland in the channel 1000's of wood storks and egrets are nesting. Winnie was parked just a short 3-minute walk from their door.

We had a great time catching up, going to garage sales (I got a vacuum for $3 and a small crock pot for $2!) attending Florida's largest flea market, and eating fresh grouper that Don and Carrie had recently caught. As you can see, Winnie (who still needs a name!) has gotten a bit more colorful with the addition of pillows and throws. Carrie took pics of me behind-the-wheel from the inside, and out.

On Saturday we drove to Ft. Myers Beach to visit with old friends from MN. How fun to see Jim, Carol, their son Jimmy, meet his beautiful wife and 2 children. And
I had the chance to spend Sunday afternoon and enjoy a delightful dinner with an old high school friend, Marcus Zillman, whom I hadn't seen in way too many years. Dinner was spent catching up and bringing up names from our well-spent youth. We both decided we turned out pretty good for a couple of kids from Danville, IL.

Tomorrow I start the trip back to Wilmington where I will spend the month of April at the campground on Carolina Beach. With no car, it's the perfect location as I can walk to the grocery store, the library, my hairdresser, the movie theater and....the beach is just across the street. I plan to depart for my summer home/job in Wyoming on May 1st.

Not a bad life, this mobile life of mine.

Until I arrive and settle in NC.....take care of each other.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You've heard that song....

"I've been everywhere" - well, that's what I feel like after 3 days on the road. I've been to AZ, TX, LA, MS, AL and now FL. Weird to drive through 3 states in one day, but that's what I did today.

But I will back up. Finally got out of Kerrivlle, TX on Sunday morning. Still lightly raining and very cloudy. Got through San Antonio early in the morning but hit Houston about 2 p.m. - even on a Sunday, lots of traffic, and with rain, lots of fender-benders. ARGH. Overnighted on the west side of town and drove out of that great, big, wide state and into, out and through Louisiana and just inside Mississippi where I spent last night at the Bay St. Louis Marina and RV Park on the Gulf Coast. This lovely little spot was totally whipped out during Hurricane Katrina and now has new owners who are doing their best to bring it back. Almost all of the RV sites are for long-term boaters who come down for the weekends to fish and hit the casinos.

Arose at 6 a.m. and to my surprise - sunhine! This was the first sunny day since I arrived in TX a week ago today. Continued eastward through Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida. Tonight I am a 'Tallahassee Lassie.' Really pretty park, most of it completely filled. Each site has a big tree and picnic table.

Someone emailed about what it costs to spend the night in a nice park - ranges from $23 - $38. That amount includes full hook-up, which is electric, water, cable TV and sewer dumping facilities. Cheaper than a hotel unless you take in the cost of what the gas costs to get here.

I did learn a few things on this drive. I don't like going over high bridges spanning lots and lots of water and tunnels are a little scary as well. The views from those bridges were magnificent, if I took my eyes off the road in front of me for 2 seconds. Most states have fairly good highways, AZ being the worst and LA 2nd. Otherwise, the ride is smooth. It's fun to stop at a park or rest stop for lunch - stretch, walk around and even take a small nap. Most interesting part of the ride was in Louisianna crossing the Atchafalaya swamp and bayou. Just the thought of the people who plunged into these waters to build the 18-mile spillway across this snake and alligator-filed waterway amazes the imagination.

It's cocktail time and time to kick back and enjoy a relaxing night - that is, if the kids next door quite down when the sun goes down!

Until next time....take care of each other.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Saturday Morning - from TX!

Yes, still in Kerrville, TX where the weather has been just awful. Now that's coming from someone who would really like to be on-the-road heading East. The locals are so happy for the rain (over 5" since I arrived) that they can hardly stand it. This part of Texas has been hard hit by drought and they are overjoyed when they receive any type of precipitation. But even they are not thrilled at the low temps (40) and the winds. The local weatherman says...clearing late this afternoon and continual improvement with clear skies for the next 10 days so it's wheels-up in the a.m. and onward to Florida.

I must say I really lucked out when I stumbled into Buckhorn Lake RV Resort. It has the nicest people who have bent over backwards to make me feel welcome and not 'alone.' First it was a home-cooked pot roast dinner the night I arrived, then Thursday was a home-cooked chicken parmisian dinner. Then it was the fuse I blew by plugging the in toaster and the space heater at the same time and not knowing how to reset it. Next was my gas pilot light blowing out and no hot water. Being leery of anything gas, I was afraid to attempt to relight it. Monte from LaCrosse, WI and his lovely wife Julie were next door and Monte had both little problems fixed within, literally, 2 seconds. Duh! But now I know what to do. Life in an RV is just a new learning curve that I'm slowing mastering. I did say slowly, right?

Last night 33 of us went out for a nice dinner in Kerrville and then onto Fredricksburg where we attended a live performance at the Rock Box Theater- 2-hour show featuring good, ol' rock n' roll. This morning one of the ladies I met last night is picking me up and taking me to WalMart, lunch and to visit Kerrville's very well-known fabric store! It's time to start insulating Winnie with a fabric stash. I just think of all I could have sewn if I had a little machine and fabric to play with the last 4 days!

Tonight, my last night, is pizza night at the Barn. I've placed my order and paid up my account this morning so I can depart early tomorrow morning. I also 'dumped' all by myself for the first time. It was so easy and fast that I now don't know what I was worried about. But I'm anxious to get moving. If the weather had been nice, I could have opened out my big awning and sat outside and met the folks walking their dogs (seems that ever RVer has at least 2 dogs per rig). Instead you do get a little stir-crazy sitting inside for 4 dark, dreary days. But I read 2 good mysteries and watched a lot of TV. The resort has 3 stations where they show a choice of 3 different, first-run movies each night at 8 p.m. You make your choice, pop your popcorn, click and there you go.

Tomorrow I will make it through San Antonio and Houston, stopping on the far eastern side of Houston for the night. Figured the best time to go through big cities is a Sunday so really the weather has worked in my favor. By Monday I will overnight in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and Tuesday in Tallahassee before arriving in Ft. Myers on Wednesday. Have canceled my trip down to The Keys because of the weather delay, but it's definitely on my list for the future.

Must make my shopping list so will sign off for now. Have a good weekend and until next time ....take care of each other.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Summer in Yelllowstone!

I applied for a work/camp job online this morning and got a call and hired this afternoon! As of May 10th, I will be manning the front desk at the Yellowstone Valley Inn and RV Resort just outside Cody, WY. You can check it out at http://www.yellowstonevalleyinn.com/

Teddy Roosevelt said that this hidden valley, located just 30 miles from the entrance to Yellowstone Park, was the most beautiful 50-mile valley in the entire US.

I am totally excited. There are 4 other work/campers besides myself, one couple and 2 single women, plus kids from all over the world.

You're all invited!

Soon-to-be Cowgirl Re

Stuck in Texas!

With thunderstorms and wind gusts up to 35 mph, I made the decision to stay put at the lovely Buckhorn Lake Resort in Kerrville, TX (just west of San Antonio). As you can see from the picture taken last night, that this park is really neat.

The big red barn is their activity center where I enjoyed a home-cooked pot roast dinner ($9) in the company of a really nice bunch of folks from WI.

Today I'll do some re-arranging of stuff, scrub my floor, take care of my finger - which I sliced almost to the knuckle yesterday when slicing some chicken for lunch. Thank goodness I had bought a First Aid kit. I got those steri-strips out and patched myself up - had thought for a while I would have to find an emergency room and get stitches. Plan on doing some reading, napping, and just let this weather system pass before I head out to conquer the cities of San Antonio and Houston.

Tip of the Day from fellow RVers - the power of Scrubbing Bubbles. Yes, the bathroom cleaner. They use it for everything. When my tech guy did the walk-thru with me, the carpets were still damp from cleaning and he didn't take off his big boots which were filthy with dirt and grease. They said spray the carpet with Scrubbing Bubbles and rub - it worked!

Until later....take care of each other


Monday, March 9, 2009

Under the Big Texas Sky!

I drove 341 miles today which included going through my first 'big city' - El Paso. I gripped the wheel so tight I thought it might break, I ground my teeth and wanted to just pull over and throw up! But I didn't and I finally started breathing again once I was out in the wide open country - which happens as soon as town ends.

Texas is sure big - and the Guadalupe Mountains are a beautiful backdrop the the brown flat land. I had planned to stop in the little town of Balmorhea at the state park but when I called they only had 'back-in sites' - NOT! - going forward to hard enough.

So I kept driving until I reached Ft. Stockton. I'm in a very nice, family-run campground. No cable tv but a very cute, nice little restaurant where they serve homemade mashed potatoes (which barbecued spareribs for $7) and in the morning they make fresh, homemade biscuits & gravy ($4). And temperature sure warmed up as I drove further East. It rained all night in Deming, NM and was quite chilly. By the time I arrived in Ft. Stockton I tore off my long-sleeved shirt and threw on a pair of shorts.

Tomorrow morning is a biggie - I'm going to 'dump' for the first time. A very nice lady across the way wandered over and helped me attached the sewer hose and now, before I take off in the a.m. I will perform the dreaded deed for the first, but certainly not the last time.

I did want to share with you just one picture - Winnie all lit up at night, under a full-Texas moon.

Tomorrow I'll head to Kerrville, which will put me right outside San Antonio and the next night, Brookshire, which is just west of Houston. This way I can tackle the last 2 big cities in the morning around 10 a.m. and hopefully miss at least the rush-hour traffic. Then it will be out of Texas and onto Louisiana and Arkansas before finally reaching the Sunshine State.

Until later - take care of each other.



Sunday, March 8, 2009

Whew - Driving Winnie Sure is Fun?!

I woke and began my check list to 'unhook' Winnie from a campsite and prepare for my first day of driving. Thanks to Al, who helped me put together a list of what I had to do to 'decamp'- making sure my hoses were detached, TV antenna down, steps in, all those little things that you don't want to leave up, down or connected when you pull out of your campsite, all went well and I was on I-10 heading East by 8:30 a.m.

What's it like driving a big, square box down the highway? Hard! There have been wind advisories in the southwest for several days and though it has died down enough to drive, big semis make their own wind. The first time one of these big rigs went screaming past me (did I mention I am driving at the very staid and easy pace of 55 mph on an interstate who's speed limit is 75?) I screamed and grabbed the wheel so hard my knuckles turned white.

I held on to the wheel for dear life most of the day, and pulled into the first rest stop I found, just to breathe and stop my knees from shaking. Got a lot of chuckles from RVers parked next to me when I explained why I was just standing next to the door and taking deep breaths. They assured me that I would be up and running with the big boys with a day or two - NOT! I also filled the gas tank - all 55 gallons worth. Sure hope as I cross the country the price of gas will drop from the $1.89 a gallon I paid.

I stopped at almost every rest stop along the way and you will see from the pictures that Winnie and I have been traveling across the a little bit of Arizona and into New Mexico - all desert, sage brush, flat and brown except for some amazing rock formations. Winnie, and even the big rigs, were dwarfed by these huge, red rocks. I kept expecting to see Indians or John Wayne come riding into view.

Made it all the way to Demming, NM for the night. All of 187 miles from Tucson. Al had suggested this RV park. When I questioned why I should stop after such a short drive, he just laughed and said - you'll be ready! And was he right. The stress just wears you out and I was so happy to see the exit for Roadrunner RV Park. Of course, had completely forgotten that though Arizona never changes it's time, New Mexico 'sprang back' last night and I had lost an hour when I crossed the state line.

So here I am, all snug and plugged in, watching 60 Minutes, having a nice glass of wine, getting ready to install my new printer and thinking about what to eat for dinner. Tomorrow I'm going to hope to go about 300 miles - which at my great speed is only a 6-hour drive. But I look at this way - I'm not chugging through as much gas as those who are flying by me at 75!

Thanks for everyone who emailed me and said they were glad to be 'on the road' with me. I appreciate it and for those who asked, the Cruiser got traded in on Winnie. I just couldn't imagine towing a car behind the coach before I learned how to drive the coach.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm Homeless!

As you all know, because of major safety and security issues on St. Kitts and differences that could not be easily resolved between the PC and it's older volunteers, I returned to the States on January 20th to resume my normal life. Ha!

Major problem was that my house in Wilmington is rented for the next year and a half. Wonderful friends and son stepped forward and allowed me to bunk in their spare bedrooms for a few days and even a few weeks at a time, but of course, I couldn't continue living out of my car and a suitcase. So what options did I have? Well, I could rent a furnished apartment and stay in Wilmington; I could rent a furnished apartment anywhere I wanted and stay there. But hey, why stay in one place when the option of trying out new places is available just by driving and taking your furnished home with you? How cool is that?!

So I decided I would become part of the very large, full-time RVer bunch. First I did a lot of checking on the web to see what I thought I would like best. Fell in love with Airstreams but couldn't get over the fact that I would have to trade the Cruiser in for a truck, learn how to hook and unhook and pull a 6,000 trailer behind me. So started looking for what is known as Class C's. These are drive inside, turn-around and walk into your living space. Rated extremely safe for women traveling alone. My first choice was a Winnebago, the oldest and still considered the best-made coach on the road. (They're manufactured in Iowa and made one-at-a-time.) I knew I didn't want to buy a brand-new model as wasn't willing to pay the depreciation as soon as I drove it off the lot. So started in looking on-line for a used, Winnebago, Class C Minnie Winnie but soon realized I needed to see what all was out there by attending the Spring RV shows. So....

I packed up the Cruiser and headed to Charlotte. Thanks to my wonderful friends, Rich and Sandy, for once again hosting me in their lovely home. The RV show was fairly small and I didn't find anything I really liked, but I did meet a very nice dealer from Hickory. So headed out one bright, cool morning and made my way to Carolina Coaches. Took a good look at what they had and still wasn't thrilled, so......

....I headed West to St. Louis. My dear friend Ellen invited me to stay with her and attend their much bigger RV show the coming weekend. Easy drive and how fun to be invited one night over to my high school buddy, Carol's, for a great dinner and to meet all her friends. Ellen and I had a great time attending the show and especially checking out the $250,000+ 'pushers' which are HUGE and have everything from fireplaces, granite countertops, massive flatscreen TVs to washers and dryers! A little out of my price range and when I sat behind the wheel of one, I was totally intimidated! All that glass - I felt like I was driving a Greyhound bus - and they're just as long. Just a wee bit bigger than I needed. But we did see a couple of really nice Class C's, including several Winnebago's. We visited a couple of dealerships but still didn't find my perfect home.

One of things I did when I decided this was what I wanted to do, was contact my good friends and our old neighbors from MN, Al & Sue. They have RV'd for many years and knew they would be an excellent resource. Al suggested I check out the RV dealerships in Tucson and low and behold, prices were much, much lower West of the Mississippi. So when they said 'come on out' I once again headed West.

With a night in Weatherford, OK and another night in Las Cruces, NM (Al had me take the little known, but beautiful, 4-lane, Hwy 70 out of Amarillo, across the the mountains into Las Cruces.) Perfect day, top down, even when I saw snow still lingering under the trees at the top (6000 feet). Sue and Al winter in Voyager's RV Resort. They have a beautiful home (with a very nice den/guest room) and welcomed me with open arms though we hadn't seen each other in 9 years. Al directed me to 3 of the largest RV dealerships in Tucson. How fun! But a great saleswoman at LaMesa told me about a 29' Minnie Winnie they had just taken in on trade at their Yuma location. We looked at pictures online and 'she' looked perfect. They offered to have the rig driven up to Tucson for me to see - and it was love at first sight!

So with a few days of lots of paperwork, the detailing and repairs of any all little things that needed fixing, I took off for Phoenix and a visit with my cousin Nancy and her husband Tom. How great that her sister, Rita, was visiting from CO, so we 3 cousins had a blast catching-up and shopping.

Yesterday I took possession of my very first and very own 'mobile home.' I spent 2 hours doing a walk-through with LaMesa's tech guy. I took copious notes and pictures and do I remember anything? It was total overload and when I pulled out of their drive and drove across the street to spend 2 nights in the big campground directly across the street, I swear I forgot everything.

I managed to check-in, find my spot and not hit anyone or thing when I parked. Then came the hooking-up of the electric, the water, the TV, finding the switches for city water, water pump, pushing out the 2 slides (living room and bedroom). Thank goodness for nice 'neighbors' as I didn't know you had to throw a switch for the electricity once you plugged-in and could not remember where the water connection was. Between my fellow-campers and surprise, the instruction manual, I managed to get everything running. The next few hours were spent unpacking and finding places to store all the 'stuff' I had to buy to equipment my new house. After a late dinner, I fell exhausted into bed and lay and listened to all the new sounds I will have to get used to. In the middle of the night the temperature dropped into the high 50's so had to figure out how to turn on the heat. Blowers are loud but the coach warmed up nicely and I went back to sleep until the sun came up at 5:30 a.m.

After breakfast, Al and Sue came over and we ran to Camping World (the RVer's answer to everything camping.) We picked up a few little items I was still missing and needed and then Al and I had a long talk about 'dumping.' You do not want to know the details - neither did I, though I realize it's something I will learn to do - yucky - if I want to keep my home sweet smelling and operating correctly.

It's a little after 1:30 p.m. and here I sit- sun shinning, watching golf on cable, thinking about what to have for lunch and loving being in my own space once again. Tomorrow, depending on the wind forecast (a biggie you have to take into consideration when you're driving a big, flat box down the highway) I will head out on my first road trip - from Tucson to the Florida Keys! Good friends Laura and John finally bought their dream, retirement home and invited me down for a visit. Laura took pictures of their driveway to show me that it's plenty big enough for me to park!

So off we go - again. I hope you enjoy the ride!