Second Level Moochdocking

I’m in Indiana this week hanging out with my sister, Jane, and her family — my daughter, Molly, and her family — and my son, Jon.  Ben and Marta came up from Indy for the weekend and that was awesome.  We were only missing the Nashville contingent.

We are staying at the family farm which Jane and Brian bought after my parents died. We are thankful that the farm is still in the family and that they have made such an effort to make us feel welcome.  We have our own slab in front of the barn (with newly poured concrete) and electricity (30 amps no less) so we are feeling spoiled.  And speaking of spoiled, this

 

is all I contributed to the Thanksgiving meal.  Either Jane really had things under control or she was terrified to have me in the kitchen! 🙂

Tomorrow Brent and I are watching our grand kids while Molly and Joel go to Indy for the day.  Joel turned 30 on Thanksgiving so we are giving them the gift of time together.  I’m a little nervous because Fynn is only five months old and isn’t really used to bottles, but he is a very happy little guy so we are hoping that trend continues.

My next stop is Hawaii (I leave on the 1st) and since that isn’t RV related I probably won’t be posting again until the middle of December.  I figure that will give everyone the chance to get caught up with previous blogs.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to the Christmas holidays…

Everything about Nothing

Okay, there might seriously be something wrong with me.  I was surfing the internet last night, came across a title about toilette etiquette in an RV and thought, huh, this might be worth looking into.

It’s amazing the things you Google when you’re on the road all the time.  Here are some other tidbits of totally useless information that nobody will probably ever use.

In a pinch, you can turn on your RV and let it run with the heater on full blast if you are desperate to warm the place up and your house battery is dead.  (It’s probably 45 degrees in Fred right now.)

Eggs can be hard boiled on a GRILL!  I know… game changer, right?

Lyft and Uber aren’t offered in the only places you need them, the middle of nowhere.

The “middle of nowhere” seems to be a place we frequent a lot! 😊

There is an unholy alliance between campgrounds, trains and highways.  If we can’t see the interstate or railroad tracks from Fred, we feel like we have picked a winner.

If you are afraid of a mouse infestation you should put a dryer sheet in every drawer or cabinet.  (Hey, this one might even be useful if you live in a “sticks and bricks” home!)

I know, don’t get me started on my new RV lingo!  Of course, Brent put a little damper on this one because he doesn’t want his food or stuff smelling like lilacs, but he will change his tune when the hordes descend!

Walmart is no longer the scourge of the planet.  When we lived in Fairview, Walmart was the only inexpensive shopping option near us and I hated it.  Now that we have been on the road for three months I’m changing my story.  Not only are Walmarts usually located near highways, they have food and things for RV life.  This one stop shopping is very convenient and about once a week, on a travel day, we will stop at one.

Brent, who would rather be mauled by a bear than shop, goes to a nearby restaurant and gets us lunch while I’m cruising the aisles.  It’s a win-win, and since our options for eating out while in a campground are pretty much confined to whatever pizza place will deliver, we now look forward to our Walmart days.

As I have alluded to earlier, even though full-time RVing is gaining popularity among millennials, the average age of an RVer is still 76.2.  I’m thinking as we head west that average may fall, but, for now, we are enjoying our status as the young ‘uns!

Okay, I guess that’s enough meaningless talk for today.  But I’m sure I can come up with more in a later post!  For now, thanks for sticking with me on this adventure.

By the way, I’m doing a new Beth Moore study and her definition of an adventure is “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.”  Hmm…sounds a lot like life in general but it was a good reminder to continue to expect the unexpected…and be thankful for the Walmarts in my life!

Welcome to our World

Well, as luck (or God!) would have it, I’m being tested on this willingness to go with the flow as far as our schedule is concerned.  We were supposed to head north this morning into Missouri, spend the night and then head into Illinois on Sunday.  The new plan (sound familiar?) is to stay here until Monday afternoon and then get to Indiana as fast as we can.  We are here the extra days waiting for a new converter.  It’s the right thing to do and I’m grateful it’s getting done, (Brandon you are an angel), but I’m not loving getting out of here two days late.  And the stupid part is that I’m only “late” in my own mind as if we get to Indiana by Thanksgiving, things are good.

I’m just anxious to get to Fort Wayne, see my family, hug Riley (or is it hug my family and see Riley?) and then get settled for a while, first in Nashville, and then in Destin.  We have been through 26 states in less than three months and I’m just ready to slow down.  The funny thing is that we will add Missouri and Illinois on our way back to Indiana and then won’t add a new state until almost March.  Yes, you can see the handwriting on the wall, can’t you?  By then I will be itching to get going again.  There truly is no end to how difficult I can be! 😊

I think my other issue (well, of the ones I want to talk about today!) is that I’m not sure where this blog is going.  You know how you go to the grocery and suddenly there’s a new fruit out there that’s just a cross between two old fruits?  (The tangelo comes to mind.)  Well, my blog feels like that.  Like someone (um…that would be me) combined a travel blog and a personal journal and called it a new fruit and I must decide if that’s legal and/or okay.

I’ve read that when certain authors start writing a book the characters take over and the author feels like he or she is just along for the ride.  While I wouldn’t say anything that dramatic is happening here, I truly don’t know where it’s headed… probably because, like all of us, I don’t know where my life is headed! But somehow, I need to make peace with that and either live with the unknowing or figure it out.  Basically, what’s happening is that the fun, creative side of me is about to have a knock-down, drag out fight with my Type A personality.  It will be on pay-per-view in a few weeks followed by a rerun of the Mayweather/McGregor fight!

View from my walk today. Can you say fall in the Ozarks? Woke up this morning and it was 68 degrees and it’s supposed to be 40 by late afternoon!

 

Strangers in the Night

Do you remember last week I said there are certain things you don’t want in your camper and one of them is loud noises?  Well, we’ve found another one.  Open doors.  Specifically, wide open doors in the middle of the night!  This picture is a re-enactment as I don’t know why Brent didn’t have the presence of mind to stop and take a picture of our open door at 3:00 a.m.  😊

As usual, I must back up.  We have been having problems with our door not shutting or locking properly for more than a month, but have been dealing with it very maturely by slamming it harder and harder until it seems to be closed.  Well, one day about three weeks ago, we were having breakfast and our locked door just swung open.  And because our screen is magnetically attached to our main door, when one opens they both do.  I’ve secretly had this fear of cruising down the road at 75 mph and having our door fly open and be ripped off by the sheer force of the wind.

(Side note: Did you know that on one of the highways in Austin the speed limit is 80?  Really? In a city of about a million people? And, no, I’m still not over the trauma of driving there.  That would make a fun list, though, huh?  Things that terrify me.  Driving in Austin.  Bobcats.  Open doors.  Oh my!)

Anyway, no doors were ripped off but when Brent woke up in the middle of the night he noticed that it was wide open.  Now, thank goodness, I don’t think Arkansas is bobcat country or I would never sleep again, but I did lay perfectly still for the next 30 minutes listening for the scurrying noises of smaller animals. And this morning I made Brent look under the front seats for snakes.  You think I’m crazy but at our house in Fairview we had a back porch that was only accessible through our back door.  There were no outside stairs to it and it was about 20 feet off the ground, held up only by square posts.  I thought  no animal could ever get to it, but once found a pretty good-sized snake under our grill.  The ONLY way it could have made it up there was to shimmy up a SQUARE pole so now I’m suspicious of what snakes can do.  Yes, we can formally add snakes to the list.

So far, the only uninvited guests in our RV the last few days have been flies.  Tons of them.  I’m calling our campground Lord of the Flies, even though I know that isn’t what the book is about.

I digress, but I’m hoping to have an upbeat entry tomorrow because I have good news!  Fred is out of critical condition and can best be described as stable. The owner of the small campground here knows how to fix RVs and is coming by today to check things out.  (The RV version of a house call!) Yesterday he fixed our outlet issue and is moving on to the compressor.  (Eventually we also need the leveling jacks fixed and, of course, the door… but one battle at a time!)

P.S.  Googled it and there ARE bobcats in Arkansas!  In fact, they are in parts of 48 states.  Doesn’t that seem improbable?  I think I’m going to have to revive the shotgun conversation with my hubby.

The One That Got Away

Don’t you hate missed opportunities? I tell myself to let go and live in the moment but that’s so hard for us Type A’s.  It’s strange really.  I can run off and commit to living in an RV for a year, but you ask me to alter our schedule by a day or two and I totally freak out.

As we were getting ready to leave the state park in Texas a few days ago a bunch of guys pulled in.  As we were literally the only people at that end of the park they came over and said hello.  Before long we were talking, and they explained they were there for an intense four-day fishing experience. It was five father/son teams and as each person was allowed to pull 25 (yes, I said 25) catfish from the lake per day the goal was go home with roughly 1,000 filleted fish.

At first, I thought they were “pulling my leg” as my dad used to say, but as they set up I decided they were serious.  Fishing boats pulled up, tents were pitched, and large coolers came out of nowhere.  It was all very impressive.

(Of course, you know at some point I had to bring the conversation around to my bobcat paranoia and when I asked how prevalent they were in the area one of the younger guys responded by showing me a picture of one he had killed nearby.  Again, an opportunity missed as I should have had him send me the picture to show you, but it was B.I.G.

“What did you do with it?”  I asked.

“Oh, it’s home in my freezer,” he answered casually.

“OHMYGOD!”  I said.  (And I thought I had it bad when Jordie used to kill and skin squirrels and put them in our freezer in Fairview.)

“Where is it going after that?”

“I’ll have him mounted eventually,” was the reply.

Of course, Little Miss Curious had to know how much that costs and it’s about $400. (Totally worth it in my opinion.  Can you imagine what stories that would spark?)

But the real missed opportunity is that we should have stayed a few extra days and watched the fishing drama unfold. I think it would have been fascinating.  (Plus, I’m guessing we could have mooched a few free meals!)

I just read an ebook that a fellow full-time RVer wrote.  She and her husband got in their RV four days after they were married and are now in their fourth year of RV life.  Reading her stories was SO helpful for me.  First of all, they have had exactly the same issues in getting their RV (Franklin!) fixed and they made some of the same dumb mistakes.  But, all in all, it encouraged me that we are doing a lot of things right.

Still, we had eight days to get up to Carmel, IN to visit our son Ben and then another day to go the two hours to Fort Wayne for Thanksgiving and I shouldn’t have been fearful about staying on schedule when the whole point of this is to not have a schedule.

I feel like some sort of accountability would be a good thing but who needs permission to not stay on task?  Or am I just overthinking this?  🙂

 

 

 

Home, Home on the Range

Well, we are on the move again.  We left Anne and Layne’s house this morning and made it to our first state park.  We are spending the next two nights at Cooper Lake in northern Texas.  It’s almost totally deserted which is a little creepy but, I think, in general, I’m going to be a park girl over campgrounds.

Since I can’t play tennis yet, I try to walk 3 miles a day.  I didn’t walk yesterday and was feeling guilty so took a walk in the park, as it were.  I wasn’t five minutes in when down by the lake I found a very large, very fresh, paw print.  One thing I will say is that after watching hundreds of hours of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with my dad, this was not the paw print of any domestic animal.

Don’t panic…don’t panic, I told myself.  Just because you are totally defenseless in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a whistle for protection, I’m sure things will be fine.

I will stop and interject here that when we boondocked near Houston a few weeks ago and I was going to walk, our host casually mentioned that bobcats sometimes roamed the area.  Yikes!  Today, I did manage to walk for another 30 minutes but I’m afraid the paranoia set in and I gave up.

I have a walking stick that my dear friend Pam gave me so will try it tomorrow and even if it doesn’t provide a ton of protection, I will somehow feel empowered.  I probably have a better chance of being attacked by a deer but, like I said, as the impressionable 10-year-old I once was,  after you see a big cat pulling down a racing gazelle on t.v., you feel like your chances of actually getting away are slim to none.

Ironically, this was the view out of Fred a few minutes after I got back.  You know you are in a bad place when even Texas wildlife is ganging up on you!

MERCI MINGI TO ALL VETERANS

Are there ever times in your life where words don’t seem to be enough?  I think this is especially true when someone dies and all you can say to those affected is “I’m sorry” which doesn’t seem to even scratch the surface of their pain.

I’m feeling the same way today about our Veterans.  How do you properly say “thank you” to those who have given up SO much?  It’s so easy to talk about their “sacrifice” when we don’t know individual stories, but it’s hard to enter someone’s pain.

We lived in Congo in 1992 and the national language was French but the Congolese we knew spoke French and several other languages, including the national language, Lingala.  They had a saying that combined both French and Lingala to mean “thank you so much.”  If it was just a regular thank you, “merci” would suffice, but if somebody did something awesome and you really wanted to show your gratitude you would say “merci mingi.”

I can’t even pretend to understand what it’s like to have a spouse or child in the military, let alone overseas in the military.  The closest I ever came to that was when my oldest daughter, Kaitlyn, who was 18 at the time, committed to a “gap” year in Yetebon, Ethiopia, working with friends of ours at a mission called Project Mercy.  The hardest moment of my entire life was taking her to Ethiopia, dropping her off in what truly felt like the middle of nowhere and then being driven away.  There was no specific danger to her, and we had lived in Africa so that part didn’t scare me, but leaving her there and knowing I wouldn’t see her for at least 9 months was absolutely heart-wrenching.

Again, please hear me.  I’m not trying to compare that with sending your child off to Afghanistan or Iraq because I know they are completely different, but I do know that letting go of your child is painful.  I missed her 19th birthday, a Thanksgiving and a Christmas and those holidays were difficult and painful, even though my five younger children were still around.

Yesterday Anne and I went to a local park, where they had put out 1,400 American Flags.  You could buy a flag and put your loved one’s name and service information on it.  The idea came to me that I can’t pray for every person by name, but kind of continuing with the starfish theory, I can pray for one.  So Lt. Charles Katalenas is who I randomly picked and who has been added to my daily prayer list.  Of course, I thank God for every person who has or will serve in our military but since I don’t know anyone personally who is serving right now, this is my little way of being a part of things.  It was an amazing thing to walk among those flags and realize how many thousands of men and women they represent.  I can’t understand what they have given up, but I know enough to be humbled.

Fixer Upper Fix

I have a confession to make. I love HGTV, especially The Property Brothers and Fixer Upper.  I’m not sure how many shows I’ve seen, but if you could get a PhD by watching remodeling shows, you would be calling me Dr. Barb!

So there is no way I could be 75 minutes from Waco and not see the whole Magnolia complex, silos and all.  Anne has never seen the show but was happy to go with me yesterday and check it all out.

Naturally, I had seen the episode where Chip and Joanna had purchased the silos and the one where they were opening the bakery, so my expectations were high.  (I know… I know… I’m a slow learner!)  We have friends whose daughter graduated from college and her graduation present was a trip to Magnolia Market (from Indiana!) so I was ready to be impressed.  And in a way, it was cool.  You couldn’t go into the silos (which I seem to remember were  offices?) but the market was big and the bakery was nice but not outstanding.  I will say everything, from merchandise to cupcakes, was presented flawlessly, but I think Nothing Bundt Cakes has way better cupcakes.

Still, it was fun to see and I’m glad we went but don’t plan on going and spending the day as there isn’t that much to do.  Predictably, the highlight for me was the food trucks! I’ve had grilled cheese sandwiches twice from food trucks, once in Nashville and once in Waco and each was magically delicious. 🙂

P.S.  And in a totally unrelated matter, no matter how much I like Drew, he should NOT have advanced this far in Dancing With The Stars… I’m just sayin’! LOL

 

I’m Alright…Nobody Worry ‘Bout Me

I can remember whining to somebody once when the kids were young that I just wanted 24 hours with no tears or anything bad happening.  I know you are probably thinking you should have thought a little more about those probabilities BEFORE having six kids and that’s, sadly, kind of true.  You can’t have an immediate family of 15 (I’m counting Rachel as she and Ben are engaged) and go very long without something going wrong.  Heck, Brent and I can create quite a bit of drama in our own lives, without needing the “support” of the other 13! But if I’ve learned anything over the last 50 plus years, it’s that nobody has an easy life.

I’m at my sister Anne’s house this week and her pastor gave a great sermon on contentedness and the reasons we are discontent.  The first thing he mentioned was unrealistic expectations.  Dang it.  Do you ever hear a pastor speaking and swear he has prior insight into your life? In the days since we got to Anne’s house, Fred has had a total nervous breakdown.  Poor thing, or “Bless His Heart” as I should say being a Nashvillian and all, it wasn’t entirely his fault.  We stopped in Houston for one night on the way to Austin and boondocked with an engineer of all people! He had electrical hookups and we were thrilled as that’s always easier than running the generator.  We plugged in and turned on the air and it sounded funny.  Minutes later I plugged in the coffeepot and we heard a big popping noise.

Let me just regress for a moment and say that you never really want to hear loud noises when in your motorhome.  They almost always mean something bad has happened. And sure enough, we blew the wiring (power surge?) and nothing on Fred’s left side worked. (I know I keep comparing him to a person, but it almost felt like he had a stroke and was partially paralyzed!) We got to Anne’s house and the fridge decided he needed a break too. Then the battery TOTALLY died and now we can’t even run water or use the toilet.  Brent is in Orlando all week, so he keeps getting my dire updates (which I’m sure are totally pointless when he can’t do anything from five states away.)  But it does remind me of early in our marriage when he used to visit missionaries all over the world and every time he got to a different country, another appliance in our house would die.

Anyway, it hasn’t been the best week as far as my “expectations” concerning Fred.  (Maybe I need to give him a middle name, so I can yell at him more effectively when frustrated!) On the plus side, a lot of other good things have happened.  I’ve been able to get back into organizing a bit, helping my niece with her room and revamping a large supply closet for the Austin Disaster Relief Network, an amazing organization that meets the needs of those affected by disasters, great or small.

I have to say overall, though, I’m not a huge fan of Texas.  It’s too big, the roads are too complicated (with construction and toll roads everywhere) and the drivers are just MEAN! I lived in Nashville for eight years and nobody ever honked at me and here I’m apparently not doing it right!

I’m also deciding I want to live in a climate without humidity.  Not that Austin is super humid but after Nashville and roaming through the south I’m feeling like a month in Arizona would do me good.  It’s very hard to keep Fred dry when everything IS working and without being able to run the AC every once in a while, all my stuff feels perpetually damp.  Yuck!

Okay, this is getting too long and rambly. It’s always bad when I haven’t written for a week because I have all this important stuff to say! 😊

Do want to give a quick shout out to several of you who texted last week and said you are reading this.  Yay!  It’s way more fun to write if I feel like it’s not just getting lost in cyberspace…but, again, realistic expectations Barbie! :/

Until next time…

Best day ever!!

For about the past ten years now, November 1 has been my favorite day of the year.  There are many reasons for this.  I don’t love all the hype leading up to Halloween and it has never been my favorite holiday.  Fall, however, is my favorite season and when we lived in Nashville fall never really started until about November 1 because it stays so warm during October.  Although I’m not a huge fan of freezing, chilly is good and November is a great campfire month. Added to this, I started Yikes on November 1 and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

So, I thought I would have a little fun with this blog and show you my favorite “campers” (I’m obviously using that word loosely) from the past few months.  Here they are in no particular order…

One of my favorite things about being in a new place every week is seeing how different people live and vacation.  The second to last picture is a bus type vehicle that came over from Germany.  It holds and sleeps FORTY people!  Yikes!! 🙂