Sidelined For Now…

We have had an incredible year. Since our last post, we’ve been dealing with health issues that have prevented us from traveling as we’d hoped to do.  Most of our trips have been to doctors and hospitals, although, thankfully, we have had a few opportunities to spend time–happy time–with friends, enjoying great meals, or seeing movies we’ve enjoyed, or spending a great New Year’s Eve out with friends, or just “hanging out” at home with each other.

All of that came to an end on Saturday, March 10, 2018 at approximately 8:15 a.m. when Frank’s earthly life suddenly came to an end.  It was truly unexpected.  There were no real signs.  We saw no warning.  We’d spent an incredibly wonderful evening in Tampa, FL at The Straz Center. We shared an absolutely scrumptious meal at Maestro’s Restaurant and then got to see the fabulous production of “The Color Purple”. An awesome evening.  Frank loved every minute of it.  Raved about it. He was so excited. So animated. So happy. And he talked about planning our next trip there to see “Hamilton”.  Who knew that it would be his last evening? Certainly not either one of us.

Although I am heartbroken, I am so grateful for the almost three years we had of our retirement and travel together. We saw some beautiful places. We met some extraordinary people. And we settled down in the best community ever–Travelers Rest Resort and Golf Course–for all of our neighbors not only welcomed us and immediately made us part of the family, but they have come to my aid and have been so loving and supportive during this difficult time.

It was an honor to love Frank in life. It was an honor to hold him in my arms as he transitioned quickly and smoothly from this world to the next. My memories are too many to count and they surround me with each passing minute.

Perhaps the time will come when, once again, I will be living our dream…., on the road. For now, I will remain sidelined. There are many small trips I can make. Many beautiful places still left to discover in Florida. And, he’ll be right there with me, as he continues to reside in my heart. Love never dies.

Rest eternally in peace, my love…, until we meet again.

Amazing Tennessee

We are in absolute awe as we continue on our journey in Tennessee. The mountains here are so beautiful and I am beyond thrilled to be able to drive through them, over them, around them, without the anxiety that I felt last year during our stay here. We’ve been blessed to travel around/through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Cosby, Dandridge, Bristol and Lenoir City with intimate views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. They just take your breath away.

 

This year’s stay has been a bit rainy, and when the rain comes, it is heavy. For the first time since embracing the full-time lifestyle, we’ve had to move from a site to higher ground because of flooding at the campground. We have been safe and have had very few issues, although we are investigating some leaks that we’ve discovered. As we head back to Florida to take care of some health matters, we’ll stop off to have “Little Mama” checked out, too!

 

Because this is a holiday weekend, Soaring Eagle Campground, our current location, is totally full. There are full-timers, weekenders, singles, families, tenters abounding. Some of us are parked on “higher” ground, while others are lakeside. Storms, possibly dangerous, at times, have been predicted, but the sun is still shining, so we’re all keeping positive thoughts.

 

Our dash cam has decided to “go on strike”, so we’ve begun “negotiations”, re-reading the owner’s manual in hopes of doing some reprogramming so that we can share some of these beautiful sights with you.

 

Stay tuned….

Update….

We’re giving a very special “shout-out” to Smoky Mountain Mobile RV Repair Service”. They came out to Shadrack Campground here in Bristol, TN, and fixed the nose of our camper. Seems that there may be some water issues that opened up part of the seam leaving the possibility of water getting in-between the outside and the inside. They replaced some screws and then caulked the seam. The cost of the repair was minimal and the repair team was great–friendly as well as helpful!

There are a couple of other things going on, including some health concerns, so we’ll be heading back south to Florida when our stay here in Bristol concludes at the end of the week. Hopefully, once we get some things taken care of, we’ll be back on the road, headed north, again, to see our family and friends.

As usual, stay tuned….

So, Here’s What’s New…

In my last post, I talked about the issue of my anxiety, being debilitated by a panic attack and my desire to “return to the scene of the crime” as a means of overcoming the issue.  I am happy to report that a return trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with me in the driver’s seat, proved to be a success!!! Accompanied by my husband and our friends, Chris and Cherie, I was able to drive us from Sevierville, over some winding roads and elevations, to the park.  Once there, we started the journey up the mountain, about seven miles, and took the scenic route on the Cade’s Cove Loop.  It was an absolutely amazing experience with incredible views of the mountains, as well as the historic sites in the valley.  Because it was Mother’s Day, we found many families choosing spots in the area for family picnics.  But what was best for me was the fact that I had absolutely zero anxiety while driving up and down and around the one-lane mountain road. My prayers were answered!

Further evidence for me has been our trip from Sevierville to Bristol, TN. The road we drove was parallel to the Cherokee National Forest and the park in which we are presently camped is just next to Holston Mountain. There have been no further issues and I’m really enjoying my time here, just learning how to relax.

Of course, everything cannot go perfectly in life. We woke up this morning to a very heavy rainstorm. Although brief in time, it rained enough for me to discover that we have a leak in our roof. Further, I took a look at our 5th wheel and have noticed what seems to be a slight separation on one side of the cap. We’re not sure of the cause or if there is any major significance, but we’ll wait for a mobile RV service tech to give us an idea and take it from there.

In the meantime, we’re just going to stay in “relaxation mode” and continue living our dream…., on the road.

We’re Back!!!

Interestingly, one year ago today, while in Sevierville, TN, we began a trip to Bryson City, NC to take a train sightseeing excursion. Leaving Sevierville took us, unplanned, through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, to its top. Totally unprepared for that adventure, we discovered that I have an incredible fear of heights—one that caused a full-blown panic attack. As irrational as it was, there was no convincing me that I was not going to fall off the mountain into the abyss below. Frank worked hard for the twenty minutes that it took to convince me to get out of the driver’s seat of our truck so that he could drive us back down to the bottom of the mountain. Little did we know that I would be adversely affected for the duration of the months on the road from Tennessee to Vermont and back to Florida. Any mountain, or hill for that matter, that we encountered was the cause of tremendous anxiety. We thought that it would be the end of our life on the road. It certainly caused us to rethink and subsequently cancel our plans to caravan to Alaska, at least for now. Further, it stopped me from writing and keeping up-to-date with our blog, because I just couldn’t write about the experience and anytime I wanted to write, the memory of the fear would come rushing back.

 

Well, we’re back in Sevierville, TN, and I am determined to overcome this issue. So far, things have gone pretty well. I drove through some of the area that caused an issue last year, and with the help of our friends Chris and Cherie, we drove over one of the many mountains here. Although a bit nervous, the anxiety has not yet returned. We’re actually going to do another test by returning to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the next couple of days.

 

So…., stay tuned, my friends.

We’re Back…., On Line, That Is!

It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since last we communicated.  So many things have happened, that, in truth, I became a bit overwhelmed.

For those of you who know me, you are aware that it’s very difficult for me to “keep still”.  If I’m not doing something,  I get “antsy” and “fidgety”. We were involved in all of our activities here at the park – Frank with his boating and pet lovers club, me with my sewing and singing – and that was great.  That kept us quite occupied until everyone at the park started getting sick with colds that turned into flu, or upper respiratory infections, or stomach viruses, or, in the case of Frank and quite a few others, pneumonia. And the “TR Crud”, which we fondly named it, just didn’t want to go away, lasting for weeks. On top of that, I began to suffer from insomnia. I just couldn’t sleep; couldn’t turn my head off at night. Couldn’t stop thinking about “stuff”. Is our house back at home ok? Is the family ok? Are things going smoothly at the school district from which I retired? Did I forget to tell anyone anything that they need to know? Is everyone doing okay without me?

Well, finally, everyone started to heal, and, finally, I was forced to learn how to rest and take it easy. After much prayer and conversations with friends here and at home, I came to the realization that none of the issues I was worrying about were in my control. My job was to be retired and enjoy my new life.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing for this past little while. Working on getting it together. We planned out a summer travel and in the next blog, you’ll hear about our first trip out. Then, you will, hopefully, be able to follow us as we continue our travels throughout the summer.

This new lifestyle still has me in awe. There are so many beautiful places to visit, and so many absolutely wonderful people to meet. Admittedly, there may still be some times when we seem to be a bit quiet. That may be because of internet issues, but it may also be due to the fact that we’re just taking a moment to take it all in.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures – living our dream – on the road.

A New Year…, A New Dynamic

Amazing! After some really fun holidays, enjoying our new home, new neighbors, a new lifestyle, we’ve begun a new year. How strange it seemed to hear and sing Christmas carols, while enjoying the warm temperatures of central Florida. Instead of pine trees, we’re looking at palm trees and citrus trees. Instead of boots and overcoats, it’s flip flops and shorts. Two years ago, we’d have said “no way”! Now it’s “what took us so long?”

As the new year rolled in, so did many of the park residents. It’s great to watch the place fill up. And it’s truly enjoyable to watch as old friends reconnect, sharing hugs and kisses as they run into each other at the post office, or the ice cream social or the morning coffee social. The more than 100 weekly activities on the calendar are now in full swing. Because we’re “newbies”,  easily identified by the red dot on our name badges, we are warmly greeted and overwhelmed with invitations to join the many clubs and activities. We’re making every effort to be “team players” while finding gracious ways to decline, when necessary, without offending anyone. If we were to say “yes”to every invitation, we’d never sleep until April when the season ends!

So far,we’re taking a digital photography class together. While Frank is now part of the Sailboat Club, the Power Boat Club, and the Car Racing Club, I’ve joined the Quilting Guild, the TR Lady Builders (preparing for a home build with Habitat for Humanity), and the Travelettes (a senior women’s choral group that brings musical entertainment to neighboring nursing homes and veterans facilities).  Not to be left out, Snowball is also becoming very well known as she gets the opportunity to run and play at least 3 times a day in our puppy park with a group of puppies as well as older dogs that have developed a friendship of their own.

We are predicting that the next few months here are going to continue to be quite entertaining as we become more and more acclimated to the park as well as to the surrounding area and all the things that are waiting for us to experience before we hit the road for our summer of exploration.  Stay tuned for there will be lots more to come.

Life, So Far, Is Just Great

We are really enjoying our new  home and our new place of residence.  Our fellow residents have done  so much to make us feel welcome and accepted as members of this community of RVers.  

The fellowship is amazing.  You can be as social, or nonsocial,  as you choose to be. As mentioned before, there are over 100 activities offered right here at the park so there’s always something to do. You are also close enough to activities outside of the park, if that’s your preference. Frank  and I have different interests so we’ve chosen different activities to investigate although we’ll both golf and attend the digital photography sessions to learn how to operate these cameras we have more efficiently.  We will also take an offsite puppy training class with Snowball to “enhance” the obedience training she had before we hit the road. She’s having a blast, by the way!!

We had a wonderful time at the Thanksgiving Day gathering, a potluck event filled with all the great fixings shared by the residents who attended. Every Sunday night is the ice cream social followed by live entertainment of some sort.  Ice cream is 75 cents ($1 if you need a bowl and spoon). Last night was the Christmas Feast which was actually the holiday staff appreciation dinner. The park residents use this dinner to express their thanks  to all of the park staff for their hard work during the year.  There were more than 300 in attendance which included some of the residents, some of the park employees and their families.  Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand to greet everyone. After dinner, the children were called individually to sit on Santa’s knee for the photo op while a parent read the letter to Santa that described whether they’ve been bad or good and what they’d like to receive this Christmas. The evening ended with a carol sing. Next up will be the Christmas Day potluck dinner followed by the New Year’s Eve dinner and dance.

Yesterday was also moving day for us. The site we originally leased for the year was really nice and spacious. Unfortunately it also got sun all day. Even with the awning out there was no shade which made it a bit difficult to enjoy sitting outside and also made the RV hot. The air conditioning ran constantly but we only began to cool off once the sun went down. We were able to secure another site that is absolutely beautiful.  It is situated on a corner so now we have a “side yard” as well as our patio, huge driveway, concrete parking area for the golf cart (which we found to be a necessity), and the storage shed. There is a beautiful trellis on the side that separates the patio from the driveway.

Best of all are the incredible neighbors in this part of the park. One gentleman (Tom) volunteered his power washer to clean up the concrete at the site. Then he came over and drove our fifth wheel to the new site. With his 37 years of truck driving experience,  the rig was parked in a snap. He’s promised to give me lessons on how to maneuver in and out of the tricky spot. He even took time to trim some leaves from the tree to ensure that they didn’t scratch our paint!  We’ve also had visits from most of the block to welcome us and to let us know that we are going to love being here. We think they’re right about that for sure!

Today we established our relationship with the medical facility in the area. We’ve met a very lovely young doctor who was very thorough in getting our information and taking charge of our care while we are here.  The staff was extremely friendly and caring, as well. We left the office feeling very confident that we will be in good hands.  Added to that is the fact that we have emergency first responders here on site. Each of us is given a vial of life in which we must place our medical and emergency contact information.  Both of us have our own vials which are kept in the refrigerator door. We also keep vials in the glove compartment of the truck. A great idea that we pass along to you for your own use.

So, as we enter a season of celebration and holiday cheer, we wish you all love, joy and peace.  

…So Much More

We’ve been “on the road” for almost two months. Some of our friends and family have asked how we’re doing, what we think and feel?  “Is it what you expected?” The only answer we can give is that it’s what we expected and SOOOOOOO much more!!

As we continued on the journey to our Florida destination, we were afforded the opportunity to travel on roads off the interstate.  What a mind-blowing experience!! Some people don’t like the two-lane roads that pass through towns and farmland but what a fantastic sight! How awesome it was to see humble trailer homes next door to the fancy mansions across from the silos down the road from the acres of corn and cotton.  We know some would find it to be incredibly irritating to drive along at 60 mph to then hear the GPS announce “speed limit reduced ahead” and have the speed reduce to 45 mph and then, in just a few hundred feet, drop to 30 mph. We were having such fun checking out the landscape that we began to look forward to the speed reductions!! We knew that we would see some of the beauty that is America, but what we saw was so much more.

Certainly, having some issues with our home on wheels while on the trip threatened to put a damper on our fun, but we were determined that nothing–absolutely nothing–was going to steal the enjoyment of our lives that we had planned. Having a tire develop two bubbles–one which burst–was definitely NOT in the plan. Determining that it would be in our best interest to be safe and purchase four new tires to replace the ones on the RV that we’d had for less than a month was not something we thought we’d have to do, but we were so grateful that the issue occurred before we got on the interstate. Having to make arrangements to replace the fender skirt that fell off as we were driving was not in the plan, but we were grateful that we were able to save it before it was totally destroyed.

Driving onto the road of our destination and seeing Travelers Park RV Resort and Golf Course for the very first time was absolutely breathtaking. It looked exactly like the photos on the internet (www.traverlersrestresort.com) and it was an absolutely gorgeous sight. Because we had been delayed several hours dealing with the tire issue, we got here just before dark and missed the office. We knew the number of our site but had not a clue as to how to get there.  These wonderful angels in a golf cart saw us stopped in the roadway, came up, volunteered to help and got us “home”. Additional angels came out to help us get parked because, at this point, it was dark and we really couldn’t see well.  

Waking up the next morning to the realization that we had arrived at our new home locale was overwhelming. This park and the surrounding area are just so much more than we imagined or expected.  There are over 100 activities on site. There are three lakes, three ponds, a creek, a golf course, tennis courts, a brand new pool, picnic area, gorgeous garden, pet walk, exercise and bath compound (which Snowball is LOVING!!), post office, and fire station.  Shopping areas, although not just around the corner, are within reasonable traveling distance and the view on the way is not to be missed, for the area has horse farms, cows, wooded areas and park-like settings. (By the way, Snowball has made friends with many of the dogs and puppies here, but her new BFF is a cow from the neighboring farm.)

Because the park is so huge, most of the residents travel from place to place in golf carts, depending on where you live and where you have to get to.  There are about 4 miles of roadway! It’s great, as you’re moving along, to see your neighbors wave to you. That’s also true when you go to the grocery store! People wave to you from their cars, and speak to you, pleasantly, in the store. So unlike what we’re used to. We’ve even had store managers walk up to ask if we’ve found everything we’re looking for.  If you say no, or ask for a particular item, they will walk you to the area!  Amazing!! Our favorite store, right now, is Publix Supermarket. Not only do they bag your groceries for you, but they take the shopping cart, walk you to your car, and help you unload the groceries.  REALLY????? That’s customer service to the ultimate, don’t you think?

We have become official Florida residents, going to the County Clerk to title and register our vehicle and RV in Florida, get Florida driver’s licenses, and register to vote. It was a painless experience, to say the least, and really took no time at all.

Currently, we’re looking over the exhaustive list of activities to determine which ones we really want to check out. Many of our neighbors, those that live on our street, and those that know we’re “newbies”, (everyone in the park has a name badge; ours have red dots because we’re new) have stopped by to introduce themselves, offer any assistance we might need, and invite us to some of the things going on, including our weekly block party. The park administration has also been fantastic in answering any of our questions and helping with anything we need (including re-parking our RV so that we would have the ultimate usage of our assigned space).

How are things going and are we satisfied with our decision?  On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re at 12!!  We are, indeed, living our dream…., on the road.

 

Reflections – On The Road

With a bit more than half of our trip to our new home state completed, and a nice quiet Sunday, perhaps it’s a good time to take a moment to reflect on our thoughts so far.

Many, including us, have categorized our move as a “new adventure”. And, it is. But it’s really more than that. This is a brand new lifestyle. Perhaps an adventure because we’re doing something we’ve never done before, in a manner that we’ve not fully experienced before. Yet, this is our new life. We may not travel every few days to new locations once we’ve settled in at our home base, however, we are no longer living in a house – a “stick and brick” – a stationary residence. Our home is on wheels, capable of being stationary when necessary, and capable of being mobile when we desire it to be.

The RV parks and areas we’ve visited during the past few weeks have not necessarily been “tourist” visits. They are parks and areas selected for their location along the route necessary to get us from Point A to Point B. We’ve been fortunate to have two stops along the way which afforded us the opportunity to visit briefly with close friends in the area – friends that we would not necessarily see had it not been for this change of lifestyle.

We’ve also been blessed to meet people along the way who have also chosen this lifestyle of RVing, some full-time, some close to full-time (more than 7 months of the year on the road). We’ve heard basically the same things from each one we’ve met. It’s a great way to live! The observation has been that those of us who choose this lifestyle are no longer interested in the hustle and bustle, the hassle and stress that so often come with living in our homes. Some of us are retired, while others may still be working but we all seek the peace and tranquility that comes with this life. We enjoy being out and around the beauty of nature, sharing the experience with like-minded people. We can sit around the campfire, if we so desire, or enjoy a potluck dinner, if we so desire. We can take our dog to the pet run and allow him/her to have the pleasure of running free or playing with other pet friends for a while. We can appreciate the comfort and privacy of our home. We can change the scenery, if we so choose, simply by getting behind the wheel and heading off to some place that holds interest for us, if we so desire. No grass cutting. No leaf raking. No snow shoveling.

Has the transition been easy? There are days when it seems to be surreal. Many call it our very long vacation. Maybe that description might hold true as we make the trip south. But the reality is that this is now our life. We are enjoying it and we are learning more about it each day. We are learning how to take care of our home. We are learning about reading maps, a “must-do” for being totally GPS-dependent is not necessarily the way to go. We are learning how to shop more sensibly, getting the things we need rather than buying what looks good at the time (whim-shopping). We are overcoming being “germ-phobic”, using public Laundromats after 35 years of having our own laundry room. We are learning how to search for TV channels when the RV park does not have cable. (Our satellite is refusing to function so that will be addressed once we reach our final destination and can arrange for a service call.)

Overall, we’re having a blast. There are no regrets about our decision. We are truly living our dream—on the road.