Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Travel Stats

This past month has been the most intense traveling of our full-timing life so far. On May 20 we were in N. Platte Nebraska. We decided to take a northern route back to Florida because there were lots of Coach Connect parks we wanted to visit along that route. There were some upgrades to do and general visits. We wanted to be in Florida for the best diving weather which is July/August. And, as long as we were going to be there by July ... I set the deadline for June 28 because of my Women's Executive Club retreat. WEC is a club I've belonged to since 1983. Other women in business, and a wonderful group of friends. I'm so glad we made it in time. So, in just over a month, we traveled over 3500 miles (450 gallons of gas, $935). We covered 17 states and visited 12 Coach Connect parks. Whew! So, when I say we're glad to be home - keep that last month in mind. Oh! And, the number one way you know you're really home?!?! You can go to a hairdresser you've been to before! And, just say "you know what to do". I just love the way Marysia cuts and colors my hair. NO! We are not hanging up our keys! We are still full-time RVers. We hope to be in New England for the Fall colors. But - home is good for a while. Gotta visit all those doctors that our insurance will only cover here. (Don't even get me started talking about health insurance!) And, as wonderful as it is to visit farflung friends around the country, it's SO important to stay connected with those folks you knew for years and years. I'm reminded of the nursery rhyme: "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, the other gold." Here we are in our 'home' RV park, Paradise Island.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Home is Where You Park It?

The founder of the Escapees (a RVers club we've been meaning to join), Kay Peterson, wrote a book called Home is Where you Park it. It is generally recognized as the first 'bible' of full-time RVing. We have been living by those words for the past 14 months. We've been at 'home' parked in a friend's driveway by the bay, in a National Forest campground at 9,000 feet, in a luxury RV resort on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and in a cow pasture! But, once we got to Florida a few days ago - we realized that there are different degrees of being 'home'. You know you're really home when: 1. Your toll pass device works: we were so envious, in Pennsylvania, of the people who just whizzed thru the toll plazas because they had the 'EZPass' device which lets them 'beep' on thru. We had a SunPass for Florida toll roads when we lived here. When we were about to get on the Turnpike, Jim told me to find it and put it up in the window. Yeah - right - like I can find it ... and, like it will really work. I did. And, it did. Cool. 2. You don't need the GPS and mapping software to find your way! 3. All the license plates look like yours. 4. Your cell phone is in it's home area code. People who call us, using the 954 area code, might believe that we're in S Florida. But, we had the same number even when we were on the Oregon coast! Something to get used to in this age of cell phones. 5. When you want to practice your favorite sport (scuba diving from our kayaks - more about that later), you know exactly where to go and what to do. AND ... your friends will be there to join you! 6. You can visit your stuff in the storage closet. 7. You can visit 'the boy' (Jim's son Devon) and see him at work. 8. Jim can spend some very precious time with his family. His Mom is quite sick and it feels like a very important time for the family to be together. 9. We can stay in a park where I've spent time since I was a teenager. Easterlin park is where I would go, look at the RVs parked there, and dream about doing that myself 'someday'. 10. And, the most obvious way to know that I am really 'home' .... my mother can come over to MY house and visit! Omigod ... gotta clean up ... oh - who am I kidding? It's my Mom. She knows I don't keep a clean house! Hi Mom!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Greetings from Florida

Right back where we started from! We are SOO looking forward to scuba diving and seeing all our family and friends. One might almost think we're homesick? Never thought it would happen! The first order of business was to stop and see my Dad since he lives in North Florida. For people who think Florida is just Disney World and Miami ... here's the *real* Florida. River areas.

And gators:

This is Tom and Candy's place, but it's also known as the headquarters of Odie's Fan Club! He is treated like a king here. His special toy (a 'puffin') is waiting for him. Of course, it's hidden, but he finds it right away. Hmmmm - blogger has made some major changes in how photos are handled. Maybe it's a good thing - but, dontcha just hate it when a computer procedure, that you're really comfortable with, doesn't work the same anymore?!?! I gotta figure this out. Back at ya later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Greetings from Georgia

Whew! Another record day - 410 miles. You know what that means? I actually had to drive! Jim does almost all of the driving. I am the relief driver. But, since we usually don't travel more than 200 miles in a day - no relief is needed. I actually kind of like driving - our rig rides so smooth - maybe all that $ spent on shocks, tires, and sway bars pays off huh? And, the roads are MUCH better here than in the north. The Savannah river marks the stateline between S. Carolina and Georgia. Beautiful. I still prefer being a passenger though. On-the-road time is my relaxation. No computer. No work. Just watching the scenery go by. Browsing the map. Cuddling with Odie in my lap. Listening to music on our Sirius satellite radio. Sometimes we turn off the radio and ... *gasp* ... talk. Odie's getting pretty pushy about the passenger seat. He has a pillow on the floor between the driver's and the passenger seat. But, when I'm not sitting in the seat - he's there. And, when I am, he likes to be on my lap.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

North Carolina Camping

It's been perfect weather here. 80 during the day, 60 at night. We're at Lake Myers RV Park. Here's the lake. And, here's Jim checking the WiFi signal around the park. ummm, golf cart war driving? And, this is work? This is a big, beautifully forested park. Most of the spaces are occupied by travel trailers that don't look like they've moved in a while. Lots of the people who come here live in Winston-Salem or Charlotte. It's really a big weekend party place. Peddle boats, canoes, huge pool with a rope swing and diving boards. Live music in the Rec Hall on Saturday nights. Miniature golf course, and kids on bicycles everywhere. These folks are rebels and partiers! Oh, and the signature flower around here is the tiger lily.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

GPS and Mapping Software

Wondrous stuff, this technology. I love maps, to explore and plan where we want to go. We have the Rand McNally Road Atlas (large print edition!) and it's almost always on my lap while Jim's driving. It's the best way to see at a glance what's in the area. They have spent years revising and revising again and they've figured out the best way to indicate the most number of features in the smallest, most understandable way. But, the GPS with mapping software is by far the best way to see exactly where you are and how to get to where you're going. The GPS is just this little device that plugs into a USB port in Jim's laptop computer - then you place it on the dashboard, or, in our case up in the cab-over area. Then you need mapping software on the computer. The most popular software for RVers is Delorme's Street Atlas. We have that but we use another one from Microsoft called Mappoint. Mappoint is intended more for businesses that want to plot data on a map. It is more expensive and really a bit overkill for RVers, but we have it anyway due to Jim's status as a Microsoft Partner. We like Delorme for the speaking capability - it will verbally alert you when you are within a mile of your next turn, for example. But we like Mappoint better for it's built in data. We can query for 'all campgrounds within 10 miles' and we get a lot more results than with Delorme. Plus, being a Microsoft product, the interface is just more familiar to us. Here is what your screen looks like while you're traveling: The heavy green line is the route that you've planned. The little car in the red circle is you. It is so cool to watch it as you're traveling. That little car moves along the route, letting you know, every second, exactly where you are. You can zoom out for the big picture of the whole state, or you can zoom in close enough to see city blocks. You can get a comfort feeling just by glancing at the screen and seeing that the little car is following the green line. But, where it is invaluable, is when you get off the green line. In other words, when you're lost, you know exactly where your are! For example, yesterday, we saw big signs on the Interstate advertising a Winery with tours at exit 100. Hey, we haven't visited a winery in a while, let's go see what North Carolina has to offer! So we got off the highway and made the turn according to the big signs. We're not on the green line anymore! We're on one of those little gray lines - SR 2143 or something. And, we don't see anymore big signs for a winery. If you were just driving a car, this is not a problem. You simply find a driveway, pull in and turn around. But, when you're in a 30 ft motorhome, towing a car, you don't have that option. You need to keep driving forward. The only way to turn around is to find a large open parking lot, and there were none to be had on county road 3937! Because of the GPS and Mappoint, I could see exactly where we were and instructed Jim which little roads to turn on to get us back to the highway - going forward all the way! This has saved our **s many times! I wouldn't travel in a motorhome without it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Greetings from The Virginias

We stayed, night before last, in West Virginia. Right now we're in Virginia, and tonight we'll be in North Carolina. We're travelin'! We had to stay in West Virginia, you see, because it was a blank spot on our map! So, even though our route only took us thru about 30 miles of West Virginia - we made sure it was a night stop. That's the rules for putting a state on your map, you must stay at least one night. Lookin' Good: Besides, the night's stop was at Harper's Ferry. There's a National Historic Park there. We took our morning walk on the Appalachian Trail! Then we visited the park. It's located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac Rivers. Gorgeous scenery. And, the history here is SO rich. Not only did it figure extensively in the Civil War - it changed hands 8 times! But, it was also prominent in the Lewis and Clark expedition. This is where Lewis got provisioned for the journey. We walked around a bit. And worked up a powerful thirst! Aha! What's this? I'll tell ya - the microbreweries in this country know how to make some mighty tasty beer! We felt very patriotic here drinking our Blue Ridge Red Ale in a white dining room! Then we got back on the road. We passed right by Shenandoah National Park with their Skyline Drive. We decided there just wasn't enough time. The speed limit on that road is 35mph! And, I understand that you really should go slower. We had some pretty nice scenery on the wonderful (especially compared to northeast highways!) Interstate 81. The Blue Ridge Mountains: Then we found a delightful park to stay last night. It's a Yogi Bear / Jellystone park at a place called Natural Bridge, Virginia. It's also a Passport America (1/2 price) park! What a beautiful evening! We grilled and ate dinner outside for the first time in a long time. aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh Another wonderful walk in the woods this morning - then we're back on the road.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ocean Air

After spending most of the last year inland, that wonderful ocean air felt like a magic potion as soon as we crossed the causeway. Something to do with ions, right? And the delightful coolness of course. There's a reason they call it 'Long Beach Island'! It goes on forever. We didn't spend much time walking on the beach this time, but we hope to return in September and I'm promising myself that I'll walk all day long and see how far I get! Meanwhile, we had a very nice visit. We did go look at the ocean. We visited with some of Jim's old friends. Here's Tom and Betty - Jim's known them since the early years of high school. And their daughter Jamie with Tyrone. And, we thought we'd died and gone to heaven with this view out the front windows of our motorhome. Here's the guy who makes it all possible for us. THANX Jimmy! Now we're on our way south - to Florida and scuba diving!! We have a few parks to visit on the way - New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia and Orlando. Then, we hope to find a boat to take us diving over the July 4th weekend. We want to be underwater for our anniversary!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Segway by the Bay

While waiting for Odie to get groomed yesterday (we went to the same groomer we used last time we were here. She looked at his card and said, 'yep, you were here exactly one year and one day ago!') we saw a sign on the main street of Beach Haven that said Segway Rentals. Jim had heard that this was available here so we readily looked at each other and said, "Let's do it!" We've been fascinated with this invention ever since my Mom told us to read about 'Ginger' many years ago. Both Jim and I have gotten on one before, but just for a few minutes. This operation in Beach Haven is just perfect. First you get some personalized instruction. Then, you get to practice on an indoor 'course'. Swerving in and out among the cones gives you practice using the hand control on the left handle bar. Twist to the left and you turn left, twist to the right and you turn right. Sounds simple enough, but it can be surprising how easy it is for your brain to get mixed up between left and right! The really simple part is forward, backward and stop. It's almost as easy as 'think about going forward' or 'think about going backward'. Just lean your body a little bit in the right direction - and you go. Straighten up, and you stop. While we were just standing on the Segway listening to Paul, he pointed out that we were kind of 'rocking' forward, back, forward, back. He said that's the sign of someone getting comfortable on it. Well, cool! After the training and practice, the instructor takes you on a guided 'glide' (it's not called driving or riding - but gliding). So, we gave him the camera! The only unexpected part of the experience was that, when you're going down the street and you lean forward to go faster, it would lean back! Basically saying, 'no, no, no, you're going fast enough now.'

Friday, June 10, 2005

Greetings from New Jersey

We're spending a few days at Jim's old buddy's house on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, where Jim grew up. We spent a month here last year. And, of all the places we've parked our home since, we can't think of any place that has surpassed this. It was a beautiful drive getting here as well. The song 'Country Roads' was written about West Virginia - but I think it fits this road in Pennsylvania, don't you? And the Amish farmland countryside was so picturesque. Then we drove right thru the middle of Philadelphia. And entered New Jersey on the other side of the Delaware river. Back home for Jim! Here's our 'site'. I tell Jimmy (he lives here) how much we love his place. He reminds me that I wouldn't like it so much in January when the bay is frozen over! hmmmm - that's true. OK, LBI in the summertime, and the 'Quartzsite homestead' in the wintertime. I can see how RVers that do this for several years tend to settle on one or two particular places for particular seasons. We hope to continue traveling all over for at least a couple more years. But I feel so lucky to be able to spend time in such wonderful places.