We're here at another Escapade.
Glad to be here!
We met Frank Drew in our very first year RVing. He had a company called Coach Connect that installed Wi-Fi in RV parks and we worked for him doing support. The best part of all that was becoming friends with Frank, he was a young person in our world full of energy and ideas. That was 20 years ago and he now has 2 kids - with even more energy! Whenever we travel west we make a point to stop by Waco for a visit. Here are blog posts from previous visits in 2017, 2013. We consider the Drews, both Frank and his parents, Frank Sr. and Carol, our family in Texas.
This time we got to visit with all 3 generations of Drews because they all happened to be in the same house for the weekend - add 2 geeks with their RV in the driveway, and we had a 3 day party!
|Frank and his son Fuller|
|Here's something we've never seen before - kids in our camper.|
|Frank's daughter, Claire with her 'baby yoda' that Jim 3D printed before we left home.|
We always make sure to carry bathing suits with us when we travel, but they rarely get used - except for the occasional hot springs. It takes kids to get us into a pool - and we had a blast.
Thank you SO much for your warm and loving hospitality. We love visiting our Texas family.
After leaving Eric and Tami's in Mobile, our next planned stop was Waco Texas to see our good friend, Frank Drew. That's a distance of about 650 miles and it took us 3 days.
In Vicksburg, we found an Elks Lodge with RV parking. We use the Allstays website to find them. This was lodge #95 which means it's pretty old!
The next stop was a regular RV park, called the Hitchin Post. Really, it's a trailer park, with lots of people who obviously live there permanently. We find a lot of these that have one section for transient RVs. It had hot showers, good electricity, and even decent Wi-Fi.
We were comfortable enough that we could attend our normal Friday morning meeting zoom call, and then kept the setup going to record some screenshots that Jim needed for a Toastmaster presentation for the Virtual Toastmasters conference this weekend.
Next stop - Frankie's!
With a tropical storm hitting the gulf coast - right where we're heading - we decide to hang out in Florida a couple more days. This would give us an opportunity to visit a couple of friends.
Some people think that the RV lifestyle means leaving all your friends and being lonely on the road. Our experience is exactly the opposite! RVing gives you the chance to meet new people and to visit old friends where they live. What a treat!
Our good friends, Nick and Terry Russell, were fulltime RVers for 18 years. We got to know them quite well over many of those years and they are 2 of our favorites! They have since hung up the RV keys and bought a house in Florida. We decided to take advantage of their driveway hospitality and visit for a day as we slowly made our way out of Florida.
It is a joy to see such a happy couple. They've been together a long time and supported each other thru good times and bad, fun times and hard work. But, we all know the real key to a happy marriage ... she laughs at his jokes!
Next along the route is my old high-school friend Alex. She lives in Melrose, just outside of Gainesville, and she has convinced several other folks from our high school to move there as well. We have looked at property there, but Alex says she sees us more often than the people who live there! So far this year, we've visited 3 times! This time we got to meet her new rescue dog, Chloe.
And we went out with her and her husband, Jim. It's always a joy.
Next stop, Mobile Alabama where our TechnoRV friends have a driveway spot waiting for us!
We stayed in their driveway for 2 nights because we had plenty of work to do during the day. We live-streamed our Google Photos Q&A session from our van. We seem to be getting back into the swing of work and travel with no problem.
Then, later in the evening, we visited in their RV, had some dinner and watched a baseball game. Normally, I wouldn't say that watching a baseball game was a very exciting thing. I'm not a big fan and don't follow baseball, but listen to this story: Tami's nephew, Tanner Allen, plays for Mississippi State and they are in the "World Series of College Baseball." That is what was on this night. For the first 7 innings, Virginia was winning 4-2. Tanner wasn't doing so good, he didn't even get on base for most of the game. Then, in the 8th inning, Mississippi got 2 players on base, and Tanner came up to bat. HE HIT A HOME RUN for the win! OMG was it exciting! We had so much fun.
When we were newly-minted full time RVers - back in 2004 - I remember having to unlearn the need to pack for travel. We would be living in our RV in a park for a few weeks, or even a month, then it would be time to move on. My brain would get busy thinking of what I needed to pack for the trip, then I'd shake my head and realize that wasn't necessary! I was taking everything, including the kitchen sink, with me. We were driving our house!
It didn't take long to get used to that. I LOVED traveling in my house. Wherever we were was home. When we're ready to go, we just stow everything in place, turn the key and head on down the road.
Now I find myself in the opposite situation. It's time to get on the road - we are booked to give seminars at two RV rallies in Wyoming in July - and I want to just turn the key and go.
Not so fast.
|The kitchen stays fully equipped|
We keep our little camper van fully stocked with everything needed in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. We have a full set of silverware, plates, coffee cups, wine glasses, coffee pot, and cookware that stays put in the cupboards and drawers of our Roadtrek. Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. stays put in the tiny bathroom, and a full set of bedding also stays in place. We even leave a few clothes in the closet so we can be ready to leave on a moment's notice in a hurricane evacuation or other emergency.
But, we're going to be gone for 2 months. We need more clothes. We need our computers and various technology. We need food.
The final thing we need to consider is tasks to perform around the house to leave it ready to withstand a hurricane while we're gone. Bring items in from the backyard that could fly away. Close the shutters, make sure a neighbor has a key bring in our mail, and to keep an eye on the place. etc. etc.
We start a week or so in advance, both Jim and I set up a "staging" area where we put things as we think of them, like the couple of Baby Yoda figurines that Jim 3D printed for our friend's kids that we'll be visiting, and my coffee table Blog book that I like to use as show and tell during our seminar. Things that aren't necessary, but they're important.
Then I start to stress out.
After this past year of covid confinement, travel has gone from being commonplace to unthinkable. What are we doing? Why are we leaving our comfortable home? What am I forgetting? Why did we say yes to Wyoming?
I decide that we should stay the first night at a local campground, so we could go back home if we discover we forgot something. Good idea right? But, I think it just prolonged the stress. We drove the couple of miles to Easterlin Park - one of our favorites anywhere - and had a delightful night. Ahhh, our comfy, cozy camper van with all the necessities of life. We only forgot one thing - the Berkey water filter - a necessary item. Since we use it in the house as well, it's something we need to remember to take back and forth. Maybe we should just get another?
We had planned to go back to the house once before actually leaving. We left a few tasks, like closing shutters and running the dishwasher, for the morning. Now I am worrying all over again, what are we missing? Will everything be ok while we're gone? Oops, I need to run the dishwasher, but Jim wants to shut off the water - so we have to hang around for a while. More time for me to worry! We look at the weather and see a tropical storm headed for the gulf coast - just where we're heading. Should we wait a couple of days for it to pass? But, we're all ready to go. How about this - we could leave now but visit friends in N Florida for a couple of nights. But, what if the storm comes to N Florida? Decisions, decisions.
"I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure."
Well, we got everything taken care of (I think) and we got on the road. The sound of the tires on the highway is like a lullaby - erasing all my cares. If we forgot anything now, we'll just have to do without, or find a way to buy it. All is well. We're RVing.
We ended up visiting with 2 different friends in N Florida - Nick and Terry in Edgewater, and Alex in Melrose. I'll write another post on that. Suffice it to say, we like friends with driveways!
I went to a high school named Nova and one of my classmates, Alex, has a talent for getting people together. She has property near Gainesville, FL and we love parking our RV there. When she is able to gather classmates together, she calls it NovaPalooza! We've attended twice before, once in 2012 and again in 2015. She had hoped to put together an event for 2020 but a global pandemic brought that to a full stop. It will be late 2021, or maybe 2022 before that happens now.
Meanwhile, we keep hearing about our friends - mostly over age 65 - getting vaccinated. That paves the way for real get-togethers again! When one - Jeff - successfully beat not one, but two bouts of cancer, Alex wanted to celebrate and she put out the word and 3 days of a Palooza-lite began.
A core member of the group is Cary Tennis who now lives in Italy. He actually considered getting on a plane to be here, but his doctor said no. He is still recovering from a bout of Covid. (read his story here) So, we did what we've been doing all year and brought him in via Zoom. Here we are in Alex's living room with Cary from Italy and Arynne from California on the TV ...
As much as we like our townhouse in Fort Lauderdale and as much as we've been enjoying this year+ of alone time, there's still a big part of us that is bothered. We have a need to get away, do something different. Thank goodness, our friend Chloe, gave us a reason to do just that.
Chloe lives in North Carolina and runs Big Mill Bed and Breakfast where we've stayed a few times. In her past life, she lived on boats all over the Bahamas as did her friend, Joy. These days they make a point of traveling to the Florida Keys for a week each year to get their boat fix. They booked a condo thru VRBO and invited Jim and me to join them for a night or two. It took us all of 30 seconds to say, "Sure!"
|Jim and Chloe|
We drove our camper van down to the keys, but we took them up on the offer of the bedroom in the condo to sleep for the night. It takes less than 2 hours to drive to the north/middle keys but you really feel like you getting away.
The first night, they took us out for a sunset boat ride.
|Chris and Chloe - I like to ride in the bow|
|Jim and Joy - Jim likes boats from the captain's point of view|
The next day, we went to lunch by boat to a "Keys-perfect-funky" place called Robbie's. One of the main attractions is all the Tarpon - BIG fish - that swarm around the dock waiting to be fed. That also attracts one of my favorite birds - the pelican. With Joy's help, I remembered all the words to the poem I used to recite as a kid:
A marvelous bird is the pelican
His beak can hold more than his belly can
His beak can hold all of his food for a week
And I don't know how in the hell he can
Easter is traditionally a family affair with the Gulds. Jim's sister, Debbie has always put on a big spread and invited multiple generations over to get together and celebrate.
We didn't "do" Easter last year ... or Thanksgiving ... or Christmas. This year, since the 4 old folks have all been vaccinated - the meet up was ON. The 3 younger folks were also invited but told to keep their distance. It felt quite normal, and the food was awesome!
I was especially impressed with the orchids they had around their house. What a beautiful flower! And, nothing says spring, like beautiful flowers.
Thanks for being such a great host Debbie!
My contribution was making some fun JibJab videos: