September 1, 2011 (most of this letter was drafted prior to 9/1/11 with my intention to forward it during early September. It is now October 17 and I’m having severe pangs of guilt—especially since I spoke with Pat and told her that I would get this done. Oops, I have been very negligent in email. We were unable to utilize email in several locations. Easy for me to do, since I am the “official brochure reader, filer and documenter”.
We were also fortunate to meet 2 sets of friends from MD—1 set in NY (totally unexpected), 1 set in MASS (all prearranged). We had some great days to “just be tourists, share meals, spend time together”—we have never had the time to do this. Retirement is providing benefits that we never really expected.
We continue to learn more about living full time in an RV. I don’t think I mentioned that I have now granted Greg a new doctorate. He now has additional initials to add to his name, PMD. Pooh Management Doctorate. I will not bore you with the details; however, it is one of the most important routines to learn and to routinely follow procedures (and problem solve when equipment breaks down). Use your imagination and you might get the picture. Plus, we have 2 pups who need walking and business time each day and night. Even though it sounds unpleasant it really is not—everything is so mechanized that we continue to be amazed.
One of the more amazing features that we have learned lots about is the WASHER-DRYER combination. It is so easy to use, just like the washers and dryers that we have in our homes, with one exception. One must plan to allow the joint time for washing and drying. And, one must remember that only “tiny” loads can be washed. It not only has a small tub (front loaders), it also conserves water. Those Europeans really know how to conserve! I can only wash 1 king size sheet at a time and when washing our clothes, I wash usually 5 or 6 items. So, I usually wash 2 or 3 small loads each day, with the hot weather. But, the amazing part of this is the fact that this is a really “SMART” washer/dryer. If we turn the electric stove top on while cooking, the washer/dryer automatically stops. And, then when we turn the stove top off it automatically turns itself back on and resumes where it left off. Plus, we have realized that if we have one of the stove top eyes on simmer—the washer/dryer will come on then (however, if it needs to replenish the hot water because we just stepped out of the shower; it will wait until the hot water tank is fully heated and then switch the electrical current to the washer/dryer again). AMAZING!!!!! I cannot imagine what the newer technology in the Holiday Rambler RVs must be now—this is a 2004, so it is 7 years old. Just think of how much our technology has changed during the last few years via IPhones, Ipads, Tweeter, etc.
We continue to follow our regular routine pretty closely regarding eating out. We usually either prepare all of our meals at home, packing lunches on those days when we are out at museums, historic sites, traveling most of the day or just out for the day. And, as usual we usually eat out on most Friday nights. We of course make exceptions when special opportunities arise, such as meeting friends for dinner, lunch or breakfast or when we have had a “difficult” day—thank goodness we have had only 1 or 2 difficult days. For example, after a long day of travel and then we learn that we must run an errand (20 miles to the nearest store) to get a super-long sewer extension!!
We really did enjoy the Family Reunion and the following week, the 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration of my Aunt Texine in Mississippi. I was able to be part of the planning of the Video Montage of the entire 50 years contributing some of my family photos that my aunt did not have. When she saw the assembly of photos she was brought to tears—lots of great things happen over 50 years, along with a lot of heartaches. Of course, we only included the great things. We were integral in the setting up the community room of the church. I never thought we would need such a big place (about the size of a super wide basketball court—probably 2 courts wide). It took 8 of us almost 5 hours to set it up. Then the following day—there were 9 or 10 of us preparing the food. No catering for this family. Only the 3 cakes Wedding Cake, Death by Chocolate and Red Velvet Cake were backed by a professional. So, we spent another 5 hours just slicing, dicing, stirring, etc. And, then the BIG DAY arrived. It took us a good 2 hours to pull it all together with 10-14 family members to get all of the food ready to place on the tables and to complete any last minute preparations and details. IT WAS A BIG SUCCESS—THERE WERE CLOSE TO 200 INDIVIDUALS THERE—at least half of them were my family. I may be an only child, but my extended family just keeps on growing. I only took 2 or 3 pictures—it was just so much fun to reconnect with some of my most special cousins (one or 2 of them I had not seen in over 30 years. I had a BLAST—hearing about their lives and getting to know them all over again!!
The anniversary celebration was on Sunday and we then packed up and left Mississippi on Tuesday. We stopped or an overnight stop in Alabama then headed out to Nashville. After one night on the road we found a great prehistoric mound near Mussel Shoals, Alabama (northern part of the state). It was so tall, much higher than any we have seen other than Cahokia Mounds in Illinois. Plus, a very small museum that was crammed full of artifacts. We learned that a new museum would soon be built and new displays designed to focus on the anthropological development versus just the discovery of prehistoric artifacts.
We continue to buy more books as we find treasures along the way. We are always building and adding to our Prehistoric Native American Library as we discover books and authors along the way. We continue to read books and brochures and discover more sites; learn more history and add to our database of knowledge. The prehistoric native Americans were so in tune with the earth, its bounty and the community and family. So interesting to know that so many of the Europeans were so impressed with their love of family and community as well as their desire to share their wealth and knowledge with the Europeans—and yet we (the European settlers, explorers and political leaders) only wanted their land. If I begin to tell the story here it will take too many pages to give even the smallest amount of details—more later!
We were in Nashville for 3 nights—had the chance to spend part of one day with our daughter, Jennifer. We arrived Wednesday night. On Thursday, we did laundry—cleaned the RV—got Direct TV—had a few hours with Jennifer, then pulled out on Friday and were on the road for 3 straight days; traveling each day and parking just for overnight stays, arriving in western New York on Sunday, August 14. The countryside is so beautiful and ever changing. So many crops, so many people and such topographical differences. We were actually parked next to a golf course. Greg was able to play three times. We made a new friend and will be staying in the same park in Americus, GA in March 2012, as we begin to work our way back to MD, after wintering in warmer climates in FL, GA, SC, NC and back to Baltimore for a June wedding (our next door neighbors in Rodgers Forge will finally tie the knot—they’ve been going to school, dating and beginning their professional careers for the past 4 or 5 years).
After talking to several RVers and 2 cousins who have driven to Alaska; we have decided to postpone our original plan to drive across the USA and on to Alaska in 2012. We’ve learned that there are RV caravans very much like the wagon trains that headed West during the 1700s and 1800s. There would be 10 to 20 RVs with a “Leader” and a “Gunner”. The leader maps out the trip, the overnight stops, locations for diesel, grocery shopping stops, sightseeing stops, etc. I personally think the “Gunner “ is equally important to the leader. He brings up the rear (the RVs do not literally line up, but are scattered along the way—knowing the daily itineraries and the stopping locations (room for a few deviations from the day’s itinerary—or a little extra time for a stop.) If an RV does not arrive by the designated time, the Gunner returns to locate the RV and insures their safe arrival. (He insures that any necessary repairs or troubles are solved—kind of like an insurance policy). We therefore will spend more time in the northeast again during the summer of 2012 (back to NY, NH, CT). Alaska will just be on the back burner for 2 or 3 years. (We need to get more specifics before we can begin planning this trip—more RV time on our own will be a good thing before participating in such a time consuming and exciting trip). More details later.