The RV full timing Adventure – 2014
We officially became full time RVer’s on July 10, 2014 when we closed on the sticks & bricks. But on July 21, 2014 is when we pulled up levelers, and pulled out of the state of NY, where my husband was born, raised and worked and I lived most of my life. Our journey now begins.
April 30, 2015
My blogger Class of 2014 fellow full time RVer from Campers Chronicles reminded everyone that it was one year ago that we all met each other at the RV-Dreamers Rally in Sevierville, TN. One year ago. Wow. When I think about that rally and where we are now, there were new friendships forged and the connection of the process of leaving civilian life for full timing life is shared. And that is a valuable thing. All of us are in that transitional spectrum at different places. I started thinking of it as a comparison with civilian life, because the same ‘rules’, expectations, relating and ‘work issues’ are so different in the full timing lifestyle. Our project work- as I like to call it- at this beautiful park is not ‘work’ in the civilian sense. Issues arise when people bring that civilian work culture into the work camping culture. For example, you bring from the civilian world a work ethic hopefully you are proud of into the work camp job, but you don’t bring the civilian work culture of gossip, competition and being in it for your self-serving agenda. It’s a fascinating way to re-frame your new world view in the full-timing lifestyle. So I find myself here: I don’t consider this ‘work’, but because of the ‘work’, I also seem to enjoy more intensely the free time Ruski & I have together when we are not ‘working’, and that’s a civilian thing. Enjoy the video of our first kayaking trip around the Point. We have been blessed with rain to refill Lake Tawakoni, and I like to think its because of all the ‘work’ we have done.
April 4, 2015
On the first day of spring here in East Texas, spring really started. The buds on the trees came out, the grass started greening up. The field in front of our lot sprung up with these thousands of beautiful tiny flowers and covered it so it almost looked like snow. Up north, the first day of spring usually had too much snow on the ground. We have had some beautiful days – and the lake is about 75% full. The boat launch is now usable and we have had a ton of campers and fisherman and boats come out to the park. We are busy and it is wonderful to see this beautiful park come to life. We have had some help with work campers and continue to undertake the massive cleaning up process of the park. But we are hearing all great comments from the campers and that is what matters the most.
This little guy was creating a ruckus one morning when I was trying to work. It is a male Red-bellied woodpecker. I have a new admiration of photographers that specialize in taking pictures of birds because he would not sit still for me at all! He must have been showing off for a female. We had our first fire of the season last weekend, and baby Armadillo’s were chasing each other around and almost went under our chairs! They have such poor eye sight.
So one of the projects was renovating one of the cabins and it was finally completed this past week.
We will be getting rockers for the porch.
The kitchen has a dishwasher!
I need to get a ‘before’ picture from another cabin. But believe me when I tell you, when we first arrived, these cabins were in shambles on the outside and the inside!
It was really a team effort to get this done. It’s rented for the first time this weekend, as are all of the cabins, and we will see what the feedback will be.
So spring storms are a welcome site. We have been here for 6 months now, and we can’t help ourselves – we have to see this project through. It has become far more than a “work camping job”. This beautiful park deserves to be revitalized.
February 23, 2015
What better day than today to update the blog – the first real winter storm for us, and its the infamous ice storm of East Dallas. Ruski took off on the golf cart to go work, who knows if he’ll make it back. Texas doesn’t have road salt or clearance like up north. I’ve never driven a golf cart in winter weather like this so who knows what will happen. It was a team effort early this a.m. when it was icing- Ruski, Tasha & Corky made it down the steps somehow, but it was a team effort getting them back in. Ruski took out the middle bar of the porch to the right of the stairs here, lifted Tasha up onto the deck – no problem. He didn’t want to scare Corky, so I was summoned out of an awesome deep sleep dream to go out onto the porch and help with the Corky getting in without incident. Oh, the adventures. Jakey & Carly don’t have to worry about all that.
So we had our beautiful weekend two weekends ago and we had a lot of people in the park – it was really awesome to see. Everyone was inspired and upbeat. Returning park-goers had great feedback for us in seeing such a change for the better. We have returning local high school softball teams inquiring to return to the two ball parks that were in shambles when we arrived but are great now. We have the local Orinthological Society – bird watching group – wanting to return and they have large groups.
You can’t read the letters on this sign yet, but it was just placed at the entrance and when it gets painted, I am going to get a staff group picture with it- it was a source of pride for all of us working our tails off here. We have work campers here and arriving, which is much needed as there is always work being done. One of the cabins is being renovated so more pics to come on that.
This was a well deserved bottle of wine our boss found- what a label! So Ruski continues to work hard to get this campground back to her glory. We are anticipating Spring break folks to come and camp. By then there should be no more ice storms and in the 70’s. Myself? I am working more in the campground office as we lost some help there and our boss, Ryan, had a new baby boy- the day after Valentine’s Day, I lost that bet. I did get a blanket & hat crocheted on time however.
I have also been doing well with the chart review job and have not returned to the hospital. I think I have come further with “retiring” from nursing – I am more comfortable away from it. I mean, how do you “retire” from something that is in your blood? I enjoy the chart reviews as that seems to satisfy that intangible habit of nursing. Turning to something new and investing in this park that is going to be great has helped a lot with the transition to our new lifestyle. With that, I will leave you with this video I got of a buck crossing- watch the lake in the background & you will see a fish jumping out of the lake several times – what a catch!
January 18, 2015
Happy New Year! Oh, I know, we are way past that. New Year’s Day was quiet and uneventful. We have been watching the “winter” here in Lone Oak, Texas. It has been pretty chilly some night’s. Ruski reinforced some more places with Mylar inside the RV to help with underdrafts. The water hose is nicely insulated and has warming tape on it, plus our tanks are heated. It has been a good first experiment with our new rig and the cold. We hope to not test it in the snow of course. So I completed covering vacations at the hospital and I just started my new job working from home doing medical chart audits – we will see if it produces enough work for me to not go back to the hospital. Plus, I am doing a small amount of hours in the campground. Ruski remains very busy with the boys getting the grounds ready for the upcoming season. The park continues to look better and better. There were a lot of folks in the park this weekend – it was really nice to see. One of the RV folks paid high praises for how nice the park is looking and how he hasn’t seen it so nice in many, many years.
This past weekend we enjoyed sunshine and upper 60’s weather and played outside: this time doing some metal detecting. Look at this lady bug-type creature that landed on my boot. Its a lady bug in Neon! There were a few of those around and really tiny small flowers in bloom in the grass – perhaps east Texas early spring? In January?
Here is Ruski metal detecting. He got a new detector and I inherited his.
Ruski’s first time out with his “gold standard” metal detector got him a 10K gold ring! I am still very new at it- but I did get some dimes and pennies yesterday.
Ruski found this strange looking coin today that appears to have *correction: unknown writing on it. We will have to research what this could be. I found 2 dimes and everything – cans, cans and more cans (come ON people, stop littering already!) – including almost the kitchen sink:
Treasure hunting is fun, gets us outside and we do something together. We look forward to checking out beaches and such. I can tell this will be an almost seasonal activity to do: hard to imagine hunting in 100+ degree summer weather. We had a bunch of rain and the lake come up maybe about a foot- we need a lot more. I can not wait to kayak it. Later in the Spring when it’s a little warmer – February perhaps?
December 25, 2014
Our first Christmas day as full timers. We have a 183 acre park pretty much all to ourselves. A couple of folks rented cabins for the weekend, what a different and nice way to celebrate Christmas for them. It was a very windy day, but sunny and warm in the upper 60’s. Ruski decided to take his metal detector to an old swim area in the park and search around. It will be interesting to see what he finds, especially in areas where the lake has receded. No gold yet though. I wanted to test out my new hiking boots, finally try my hiking poles and see what it feels like to hike with an almost full pack. Its about 20-30 lbs –
it felt more like 100 lbs after a short 2-3 mile hike! I am showing off my Rubarb color hiking boots with my not-clashing Gaters – there is red in my backpack so I really am styli’n. My adjustable hiking poles are a God-send. Really, even if you don’t hike with a backpack, I highly recommend hiking poles or at least a walking stick – it really makes a difference with load distribution and saving your back and knees. I learned that climbing a mountain side in the Adirondacks, my best friend’s husband gave me a walking stick (a branch of a tree) to climb with and with my at-the-time smoking lungs, it saved my life.
Here is Ruski styli’n his back pack and trying his poles out for the first time (lacking the Gaters of course- I should have remembered, that would have made a great Christmas gift). There used to be a carousel and a small train that rode around this park, so we set out to see if we could find remnants of it through some wooded areas. We did not locate anything, but this will be a continuing process. We went down by the beach, and I really didn’t want to mud-up my new boots, but quickly had to stop wining about that. All-in-all, this was yet another great try out of our hiking equipment. We will do more and also do a hammock tent night out to test out other equipment we have. Ruski went back out to do more metal detecting and I did the phone calls to the family & friends. We miss them a lot, and we are so blessed to be where we are at now in our new lifestyle, it has been a mix of much emotion- as are all Christmas’s. The wind died down enough to get the grill going for our Christmas dinner – thanks to Ryan, our work camping boss, who was so thoughtful and got us some steak & lobster & wine! Now this also stressed this inability-to-cook-undomesticated female, but I found a olive oil, lemon and dill recipe to marinate the lobster and steak with and I must say, it turned out excellent!
Now, the wine Ryan gave us I will save for New Year’s – I just had to have a Texan wine in a Uncork New York glass for our first Christmas as full time RVers! We discovered – finally – a great little winery in Greenville that has a lot of great reds and I became a member immediately. Hope all of my family & friends enjoyed the Texas wine we sent ya’all for Christmas! We hope everyone had a peaceful, joyful and blessed Christmas.
December 14, 2014
The leaves finally fell off all the trees and now Ruski and the boys are busy trying to get them off the RV sites – along with the piles of leaves never cleaned up in previous years – makes for much work for the boys. We have had a couple of cold days, usually just in the morning and then its tolerable for working outside. We have not missed the cold and snow of up north.
The Christmas season has been very quiet and peaceful. I think we are enjoying our solitude in this park, because we know it will not be this way once spring hits.
I will probably be increasing my time working at the campground, I may have found my elusive work from home job so I can decrease, if not eliminate the hospital job – that’s all I will say about it for now. Anyway, it’s easy to be with the real meaning of Christmas, I’m listening to Christmas music whenever I can. We hope everyone is at peace and enjoying the season. We miss everyone. Merry Christmas!
December 2, 2014
People actually came to the park to RV or stay at a cabin- taking advantage of the holiday time off. That is unusual for us, as all the camping and campgrounds would be shut down in Upstate by the end of October. So we grilled steaks and bacon wrapped shrimp with veggies for our dinner – yummy. I started with Christmas decorations, feeling awkward and challenged on what to do, given a RV space to do it in.
Not only the limited space in the RV is a consideration, but having the Zoo also presents Zoo-destruction-proof decoration strategies.
Okay, I am deluding myself on that point – but so far, nothing has been knocked over – yet.
Some cookies turned out okay – I just have to get to know this oven I guess.
So, the Christmas season begins, our first as full timers. I have a very peaceful sense about it so far – like it will be very special and blessed.
November 23, 2014
A quick video on our first beach walk at Wind Point Park.
November 17, 2014
The work crew here at Wind Point Park is making such great progress! A ton of mowing, tree removal, debris and garbage pick up has really made a great difference. Ruski is working hard (“this IS retirement”) and he continues to love it. During the month of November, the season so slowly changed into a newly defined fall for us. We had some beautiful warm days and mild nights. We decided to test out our Hennessey Hammock tents ( http://hennessyhammock.com/) and set up right on our site. Ruski’s tent is on the left and I am directly front in this picture. The hammocks are under the tarps, which are a must to keep wind and any possible moisture & flying things off of you.
This is Ruski’s tent with the bug screen zipped closed. Since you are off the ground, you need a warm something to wrap under your hammock, which we had Mylar tarps for, but they ended up not being enough to keep me warm anyway. Of course you use goose down sleeping bags with a closed cell Mylar pad under you inside the hammock to help with warmth too. If you lay diagonal inside the hammock, you actually lay flat. The first night was about 47 degrees and the second night about 10 degrees cooler, that was when we decided we have to upgrade and get under-quilts, which we will – some day. Why do we even have hammock tents you wonder? Because we may take a hiking overnight trip some day. From a prepper perspective, if God forbid a natural disaster took out our rig, I for one, will not stay in a shelter. We can sleep anywhere in these hammock tents. We had fun just the same. We had one tree in our site change color. It has progressively become colder and last night we actually had some snow! It was a brief dusting. Well
you can’t help but to wonder if maybe next winter we will go further south. We shall see. We have done some extra insulating in the bay area and covering our ceiling exhausts with Mylar and finding draft spots to try to insulate. The slides are the hardest and most challenging, we are using one space heater in the living room and one in the bedroom. I just found a propane place today that will come fill our 90 gallon (Trilogy’s have permanent tank attached underneath) when we need to – that is a relief from not having to get a larger, separate tank that you would have to pay rent on. I think we are ready for the winter now. Especially since we got our new, modular and portable deck! This is our last big investment and we really wanted it for ourselves and for Tasha who is slowly and will surely have a harder time managing steps. And these 4 RV steps are a challenge!
We purchased this deck from Sun Rise Decks (www.SunRiseDecks.com ) from Mike who builds these decks and was fantastic to work with. He was located about 50 minutes away from us so we saved shipping costs (got a discount too) by picking it up. Mike had it all set up for us and spent time showing us how to set-up, take down, etc. We decided having this will be worth the extra weight (which depends on the size of the deck, ours is not over 200 lbs.). But we got it put up without a problem. The frame fits together with no screws, washers or bolts.
The little 7×7 pavers helped with the slightly uneven ground and will if we are ever on grass, but the legs telescope to size to your door way. We put hose insulation along the edge that goes up against the RV- don’t scratch that paint job!
There are 4 plank sections to this 57×57 deck. It is made of this composite material that is cleanable and will last until the end of time. The color is a super light grey – along with powder coated black – went perfect with the colors of our rig. I’m already planning for some Christmas lights for the railings.
Tada! What an incredible difference to walk up these stairs. The knobbed
screws you can see on the end of these stairs are all that you use to put the whole thing together. It is amazing! And this is what I now see when I open our door:
We are really happy with it. Tasha is great with it. Now Corky? Not so much. Greyhounds are famous for being nervous with stairs and he is with these. We have put skid-free tape on the steps and this may help. But you know, if Corky ever realized he is a Greyhound, he would know he could easily leap from the bottom of the stairs to the top deck very easily!
So that is all of our excitement for the month. I am working about 2 days a week in the hospital and two days for a few hours at the campground office or cleaning cabins or other little projects: like I will get to measure and map out the RV sites – a project for warmer weather! I have some paracord projects going for sale for Christmas gifts. Check out these belts that I did for my friend’s friend:
True prepper belts that are 100 ft. of paracord. I have other projects like bracelets, key chains and fish-hook flies that the owner agreed to see if they will sell in the camp ground store – nothing to get rich by but something that is fun to do and to share. I even broke out the crochet hook and was working on a ear muff for Corky – never mind. Anyway, we continue to see every day as our journey – even though we are standing still right now – and are loving it.
November 2, 2014 – part 2
Finally got this video edited – enjoy the ride!
November 2, 2014
Ruski came home the other day and expressed how much he loves the work here. There are 3 guys who are working their tails off in this huge park to get it going again. It makes me very happy that Ruski is happy – its really all that matters to me. I completed the hours at the psych hospital that the boss was allowed to give me for orientation. The usual ‘census is not up so I can’t justify budget…’ blah, blah, blah… so I may not see many hours except to fill in for folks. I keep looking for other jobs, I applied to Home Depot & Lowes and no one has called yet – I am going to go in person & see what is up with that. I am attempting to go into a completely foreign territory for working, and it makes me a bit avoidant – but I shake it off and attribute it all to the adventure that it all is! I am learning the office stuff and have started getting the cabins ready on Thursday’s for the weekend folks that come in. Learning the software for reservations is great experience – the other workcamper that is building the database for it is a retired CFO. Well, I am a stumbling ding-dong head when it comes to math & counting money – she just is wonderfully patient with me. I thank God for computers and calculators every day. What I have discovered is that I do prefer to be outside and taking care of the cabins. The cabins are in desperate need of gutting and do-over – so the challenge is to work with what we got. The boys got a lot of mowing done and what a difference! I know we are on track when folks returning are commenting on how much better the place looks – that is great to hear.
We had a campfire for the second weekend in a row – its really cooled down to the low 40’s at night and barely getting to 70 during the day. The leaves fall, but don’t change color – I don’t know if they ever will. I killed my first Scorpion the other day. There are flocks of pelicans on the lake, apparently we are in a migration zone for them. And last night, we watched two deer bucks sparring with each other with their antlers – that is a site you rarely get to see. The nature here is just awesome – I am also grateful to God for.
So my laptop is slowly dying, Ruski’s did a week ago- they just aged out. Expenses that give me heartburn like you would not believe. So, I hope it will be a smooth transition to a new laptop, but in case you don’t see a posting for a while, you can contribute it to that.
October 18, 2014
While Ruski is working hard at helping to fix up Wind Point Park, I am working to help patch up broken people. Needless to say we have been a bit busy and it feels great. As promised, here is a site picture:
One of my projects to fix up our site, and it is work in progress, was to take a pile of rocks that was once a fire pit and rebuild us a fire pit.
And behold, who knew there would be real Texas brick underneath the dirt. The large amount of wood you can see in the site picture, comes free as benefits of the job. Ruski and the boys cut up trees on clean up and we take the wood. For some reason, it is not allowed to be sold in the camp ground. One of the things to be aware of when doing this kind cleaning up, besides biting red ants, fire ants and scorpions – there are also several kinds of snakes. I personally have only seen one baby scorpion and fire ants of which I have had the pleasure of being bit by. That happened when I went to drive to say ‘hi’ to Ruski when he was working, and I heard a big ‘pop’ in my back right tire and knew it blew. I pulled over and I was standing there mad at my third flat of the year and apparently stood on some fire ants that got mad at me and bit me a few times, then I got mad at them. Ruski just laughed at me but he had to change the tire. This is what was pulled out of it today.
I suspect the Authority (the State workers who also still work in this park) may have lost one of their tools, and I will inquire if they did. It’s about 8 inches long and was completely inside of the tire.
So we had our first camp fire last night since we left Owego. I know! Why? It was just circumstances, how we traveled and the weather. It has been way too hot since we got to Texas but this week it has been in the 80’s during the day and 50’s at night – just perfect. It can get pretty windy here (hence the name) so we finally had a calm, clear beautiful night last night to use our great rebuilt fire pit. We had a stray cat visit, two Armadillo’s and about 12 deer hang out right in front of us. There were two bucks and mom’s with their babies. The deer are much smaller here than up north. It was awesome that they didn’t run and hung out with us in the quiet, star filled night.
Here are some pics of the shore line that should be covered in water but it is not.
I have a GoPro bike ride video I am working on, I have to shorten it and am trying to figure out how to do that. So, that has been our calm, quiet and peaceful full time life so far.
Just as a side note in case anyone is wondering: about the Ebola stuff in our area. We are about 65 miles east of the hospital that had the first victim. I am working in a free standing facility that is not an acute care hospital (so no Emergency Room), but a psychiatric facility. We have to do a screening questionnaire of the patients being sent to us from the area hospitals and for the “walk ins”. I do not feel panicked, but I am alert and trying to stay informed from multiple sources. We are preppers and feel we are in the best place ever. I promised Ruski I would not come home if there was ever a question of my being exposed – or else ask him to set up my tent hammock in the yard, by the fire pit I built and he can throw me food and water. If at any time I feel that the facility is not doing an adequate job of being “prepared” (so far I give them a ‘poor’ rating), I will simply quit. That is the beauty of having full time freedom~
October 8, 2014
So much activity in so short a time! We moved from Lake Fork to Lake Tawakoni in Lone Oak, Texas on October 1st. Ruski started work on that day and has not stopped. I started work per diem at a local psych hospital and will be doing 20 hours a week at least for the month of October and helping out in the office of our new camp ground. This is a beautiful place, that has been neglected for far too long. So that is why a ton of work has commenced, and will be going all winter to get it in shape for next summer. Here is a picture of what we see from our rig.
Wind Point Park does not have its web site up just yet. It is a 180+ acre park that used to be a state park in its day. There are RV sites, tent sites, cabins, bungalows, pavilions and plenty of deer. This lake is of course affected by a 4 year drought plus the thirst of Dallas.
We needed to continue our sunset rides, so we made the tough decision to go ahead and get a Red Chile Pepper.
So, I will get pics of the site processed – when I have ‘time’ ?! Strange thing to say after a month of plenty. We are really looking forward to being a part of bringing this park back to her glory. Here is a video I did on a discovery cruise in the Jeep. Hang on….!
September 20, 2014
Everything is fairly routine at this time. I am still job seeking, Ruski is still enjoying his work camping job. It has really settled into a tranquil, peaceful ‘routine’. What no one talks about and what is not prepared for, is that part of the adjustment to semi-retirement and full timing, is that you are faced with getting to know someone you have not paid attention to very well through the career years: yourself. I am doing a ton of reading (Atlas Shrugged), walking and re-visiting myself – decompressing does not seem to stop and I wonder what I will find on the other side. I really am enjoying the peacefulness here at Lake Fork – I feel we have been led to this point for a reason. Anyway, I am enjoying our GoPro, here is some more footage of where we are. This weekend was a big bass fishing tournament, kind of busy so it was not a good time to do more kayaking. It’s in the 90’s during the day, upper 60’s at night – I am having seasonal adjustments too. FROG-in it.
September 11, 2014
This is the 13th anniversary of the attacks on America. I pray for the victim’s, families and also the military who has paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving our country to go after the evil that is always at our doorstep. May God bless America.
So, Ruski got me an early Christmas gift – a GoPro. He had been talking about getting one and I said sure, when we have income coming in. Well, he surprised me with one anyway. So, I will post my first video here. Now be patient with my fingers- the GoPro is little. Just wait until I do vids from the head, lol. Also, the sound is terrible. Essentially is going on our nightly sunset cruises on Blue Belle. Enjoy.
August 31, 2014
One week at our first work camping site at Lake Fork, Alba, Texas ( http://www.lakeforkrvparks.com ) on Paradise Isle. Ruski has been happy to be ‘going to work’ again, he generally works 8-12 with the maintenance manager and since it has been in the upper 90’s, well quitting at noon works out well. I had an interview at a local psych facility to do admissions on a PRN (as needed) basis; they seemed to like me and given the upcoming holiday’s, I would think I would see some work. I am also still applying for work at home case management jobs and hope something more permanent comes through. Getting to Alba was our final destination, and the brakes have been put on, and the realization of full timing has started a major adjustment.
A continuing adjustment to living in our RV, Ruski happy with his work camp job and me, well waiting. Here is what our site looks like. It is quite large, there is lawn with a fire pit to the left as well. It is a partly shaded spot and level. We do not have a full lake view but I guess we can not expect to have that as work campers. Paradise
has annual leases and folks put their RV’s or tiny homes on lots, then build elaborate decking around them and stay put. It becomes their vacation spot on the lake. We finally got to paddle the lake and here is the view of some sites . We took one kayak at a time on top of the golf cart to one of the launch areas – we are quite close to do that, but it was funny. Meet Blue Belle – named by my sister. When we got the cart – perk to Ruski’s work camp job – she was kept under trees and was an absolute mess.
So, I spent a few hours cleaning her up, put a little flag on her and this is our transportation around the campground. I have never driven a golf cart before, nor would I ever imagine doing so – ever. I have fun driving her, but is not going to help my led-foot – the 70 mph roads around town sure do! She has already been in the shop because she failed to restart after hitting a bump. She is fixed, but the headlights don’t work.
So, off kayaking we went, I had to get a new kayaking hat and hey, a Texas original too!
We did an evening paddle as it is too darn hot during the day and it was still quite warm. But after a week of adjusting to not doing anything during the day, I welcomed this paddle like you would not believe.
I am still fascinated by the giant lily pads. I tried to get a picture of a comparison to my hand, but hey, that ‘I might tip over’ feeling just comes along and I only got a partial picture. They have beautiful flowers. This lake was man made in the ’80’s and right now it is in a drought, so there are a lot of areas where these lily’s have taken over.
The drought is exposing these trees and making some lake front docks inaccessible to boats for those folks, but the natives tell us that the lake will fill back up. That means we look forward to a lot of rain. There is so much more paddling to do on this lake, and we will do so. Paddling is such a comfort to me, and much needed while adjusting to this new lifestyle – in Paradise.
August 24, 2014
We left Kansas in sweltering heat and headed to Oklahoma, towards more sweltering heat. Dagny did her best, we were able to keep her about 20 degrees less than it was outside. Several campgrounds we stayed at were treeless. The winds were too strong to put the awnings out, so it was a challenge to stay comfortable, but we did it. We basically got to the bottom of Kansas, and did an overnight stay at the Oasis RV Park in South Haven, KS ( http://www.kansasrvparks.org/rvpark.php?page=camp/oasis_rv_park ). We pulled in, and quickly realized we were the only ones there, except for a few non-occupied RV’s and the ‘camp host’ RV. I went into the office, which was open, lights on but no one was there. We weren’t sure what to do, so we just picked a site and set up. I said to Ruski, I feel like we are in a Steven King novel. We finally met the Camp Host and owner, Chet, who was very nice and we ended up talking for almost two hours. Was it windy! The next stop was to do a small piece of Old Route 66. We stayed at Oak Glen Mobile Home & RV Park ( http://www.oakglenrv.com ) in Chandler, OK. We were able to get there early, set up and then take the Jeep out onto the route. We found a couple of the old gas stations that you see and read about.
There was this Phillips 66 station that was under renovation, it was ran by the owner from 1928 to 1978.
That was about it. We must have not been on the most scenic stretch of Rt 66, that may be out west. The towns and villages looked a lot like downtown Chandler – we are not used to seeing pull in parking like this.
So I had to have some ribs in Oklahoma, so we did a rare treat and had dinner at Dan’s BBQ Pit. They were delicious.
We left the next day, and my trip planning did not go the way I wanted it to as we only went about 1 1/2 hours away to our next campground. I really did not mind it so much, but we were quite bored. Anyway, we stayed at the Catfish Round-Up & RV Park ( http://www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.1144 ) in Prague, Oklahoma. This was a restaurant and good little RV park that was perfect for a lay over. Again in no shade and it was 102 degrees out (I am not complaining!). Now, people from our area always ask: is it humid? The answer is ‘no’, it is very dry but it is very, very hot! We treated ourselves for dinner again that night, for you know what – catfish. No, we did not eat this huge albino one, there was a very large aquarium with very large catfish in it. I really was not sure how I felt about that. Onward to the bottom of OK state to Ardmore, where we stayed at Hidden Lake RV Park ( http://www.hiddenlakerv.com ). It was another overnighter, in a open wide site in windy, 100 degree weather. Oklahoma was nice to drive through, I enjoyed seeing the drills, the farms and the ranches with the western arches over the ends of the driveways; some with names, some not. Yesterday, when we crossed over into Texas, it was really, really exciting. We made it to our work camp destination – finally. It just felt like we had been travelling forever! We are in Paradise Isle RV Park ( http://www.lakeforkrvparks.com ) which is a ‘long term’ RV park. Lake Fork in Alba, Texas is actually a reservoir for Dallas. They have not been able to drain this lake for their drinking water because the machinery failed. I am glad. I can’t wait to paddle this lake and it’s already about 2-3 feet low due to the very hot and drought conditions, so I want the lake to be full! These lily pads are HUGE.
We can not say enough about the truly awesome Texas hospitality. We were greeted by the CG maintenance manager and he helped Ruski meander thru the park and back in to our site. More pictures and description of the park later. Then the owner came down to greet us. Both are very nice. It looks like Ruski will be the work camper – I will find a job. But working for the cost of your site? Priceless in my opinion. We will see how it goes. We are in shade, the wind is not here and it was 102 yesterday and we can put out the awnings. We are very grateful to be here.
August 17, 2014
We left South Dakota on the 12th and arrived at Pine Grove RV Park & Campground in Greenwood, Nebraska ( www.pinegrovepark.com ). This was another nice campground with level sites so we did not have to unhitch. They also had their own little restaurant, which we decided to partake in a pizza and beer. The owners are a military family, Marines and Army, and had great décor honoring the Military. The cornfields, thousands of miles of them, are well over my head.The drive to Kansas was not bad at all, except in Omaha, where you continue on Rt 80 and it was a bit confusing. I think we have our ‘system’ down with my following Ruski and all the work going into trip planning has so far paid off with good routes and good campgrounds. We arrived in Junction City, Kansas by way of mostly Rt 77. Now this was a lovely drive in my opinion. I just loved the rolling farmlands and not a suburb or big city in site. I felt completely at home. We arrived at Owl’s Nest Campground( www.owlsnestcampground.com ) on the 13th to stay and visit with Ruski’s Army son and his wife. This campground, I knew, was not picked for its views but for the practicality of being close by to where Josh lives. I tried to get into Milford Lake State Park, but it was full. I am really looking forward to getting to a site with no road or highway noise! So, we got a tour of Fort Riley and that was very interesting. This park and monument was built to honor the 1st Infantry Division in downtown Junction City.
Josh and his wife, Hanna, have military housing on base, in the oldest section. It is not horrible, they have not liked it. Josh says they are planning on tearing it down and building new apartments. I hope that happens, our Military deserves the best. Josh will be honorably discharged in September and we are very proud of him.
I have found that when I do our trip planning, I have been doing it soon after arrival at a destination so I don’t have to think about it again for the remainder of a stay. Our next plan is to head down to Texas. We decided we would take some time to drive a small section of Route 66 between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We should arrive in Texas to our work camping job by the 23rd. I am surprisingly looking forward to not travelling. So far, we have been traveling to take care of business stuff, coming to Junction City and then planning on a relaxing, meandering travel to Texas is to see the sights and avoid the big highways going through big cities – finally! But I am ready to be planted for a while. When I get planted, I will have to figure out why I want to be planted and see how long it takes to want to travel again. I think part of it is we are not working, and seeing funds go out with nothing coming in is a bit weird – even though we budgeted and planned on it – the sense of it is just strange. I have landed a interview at a psych facility to do admissions in Greenville, Texas, close to where we will be work camping. It is a PRN (as needed, fill in for vacations and such) position. We shall see, it has been a few years since I have done psych nursing, I actually am looking forward to doing that again and we can use the added income. So the weather is calling for some 100 degree or more days when we leave on Tuesday – that is going to be new experience!
August 9, 2014
We are officially South Dakotan’s now. We went to Madison to get our mail and complete our vehicle and voter registrations and get tags from the Lake County Treasurer. We then had to go to Mitchell, SD to get our driver’s licenses. It was all very different how it is done here. Once we left Mitchell I think there was another landmark accomplished and it just felt great to get it all done. I also got the vehicle insurances done. You are allowed to renew your license online in 5 years, but need to be physically present the 5 years after that – so we technically do not need to return to SD for 10 years! There is no inspections, so when hubby scrapped off all the stuff on our windshields from NY state, it was even more liberating. After what seemed to be days of driving and travelling, we finally got some kayaking in today.
There is a state park near Salem, Lake Vermillion, where we chanced the wind and irritable weather to get some paddling in. I really wanted to ‘stretch out’ so to speak. Here Ruski is quietly approaching a very, very large heron or crane? Not sure but it was very tall.The lake looked calm here, but the wind started picking up and we paddled back in a strong head wind and then I really got the work out I was seeking.
This turtle on the rock was wondering where the sun was! Since we arrived it has been warm but raining off and on. This was a great day to get out and enjoy some of what our new home state has to offer.
August 6, 2014
Well, we made it through Route 80 in south Chicago without too much bad traffic. Of course, we forgot there would be a time change while we were traveling from eastern standard to central standard time, so it was like changing the clocks two times a year; the animals were ‘off’, we were ‘off’. So I can’t tell how long it took us to get to Davenport, IA, but it was way longer than the trip planner I used (Good Sam’s). I have used a bunch of different trip planners and NONE of them give accurate travel time frames. It isn’t the time it takes for bathroom breaks for the Zoo or for the humans, but if I tack on 1-3 hours then maybe the travel time gets more accurate. So much for trying to limit our drive times to 3-4 hours. Anyway, the first campground we overnighted in was Interstate RV Park in Davenport. They do not have their own website. It was a nice pull thru spot.
I was quite pensive about the drive to get here, and the next morning, it was all gone. I think I am transitioning gradually, like going through a tunnel and not quite out the other side yet. We are on a mission to get to SD to get our domicile done, and maybe this new full timing feeling will all be different once residency is done. So, we had a well deserved and rested sleep here. Our next stop was about 5-6 hours away, in Onawa, Iowa. The campground was On-Ur-Wa RV Park ( http://www.onurwarvpark.com/ ). They had level, pull thru spots so we did not have to unhitch just for an overnight stay. As it turned out, the owners of this park are from Watertown, NY, about our age and they became owners of this park after we stayed in it 4 or so years ago when we went to Yellowstone. Two great things about this park: they had a fenced in pet park for Tasha and Corky to roam about unleashed and second, Iowa makes their own wine! They even make it from their own grapes. This “Marquette” is their version of a dry Cab Sauv-
and is it dry! I love dry wine and this one challenged me for sure. It was sold right in this RV park office. Coming from a really blue law state of Indiana, state stores in PA and only alcohol sold in liquor stores in NY – this was a real treat to have this so accessible! Anyway, it was a lovely park and we hope to stay on our travels here again.
Today, we arrived in South Dakota. Again, that sense of being on a journey, more relaxed, calmer feeling but not quite ‘through it’. We are calling SD ‘home’ – even if we don’t stay very long. Despite our windy, rainy trip today, SD looked beautiful. We arrived at none other, and very appropriately named, Camp America Campground in Salem, SD ( http://www.campsalemsd.com/ ). We will be here for the next 6 nights – ahh, no driving for a while and a nice rest. This CG also has wonderful pull thru, level spots. We put together all the paperwork and ID’s we need to go to Madison tomorrow. I am very excited about getting it all done.
This is a picture of postcards, yes, postcards – the nice ladies in the office gave me the top one for free and is a aerial picture of the campground, the second I purchased for a quarter. The ladies were a bit rattled from dealing with a nasty camper before us and they had a bad time with tent campers last night for the first time ever. We had a nice chat, I like to think it restored their faith in the fact that most RVer’s are not nasty and disrespectful and I made them a promise that Ruski and I will become good SD residents. They kindly welcomed us.
August 1, 2014
Well, what a week. So we arrive at the Mor/ryde facility, and stay Monday night in their parking lot. Not too bad, 50 amp electric was available. I was nervous about hubby walking the dogs, but he managed. We had to be up and ready by 0700 Tuesday morning. It was confirmed in the morning that once the rig was in the garage, the slides had to stay in and it was not recommended that the dogs stay in the rig, but the cats would be okay. So, we left the kitties in the rig. Then they had hubby back the rig into their garage, o-m-g. Well, he was guided very carefully by the staff and he did very well – a huge sigh of relief when that was done. It was unusually cool out, so the dogs hung out in the truck: Tasha tethered in the front seat, Corky in the back. They had frequent walks and visits by the staff – everyone loved them. One of the staff took us on a tour of their facility, and then we saw our beloved Dagny. Her wheels removed! Her axels removed! And who knows what else that only the guys understood! THIS is what we were going to sleep in tonight? The poor kitties are in there! I was assured that everything is “okay”. Well, it was quite the challenge to have the dogs get out of
the rig – hubby had to lift each dog in and out to get the stairs right. When we went in for the night, the kitties were just fine. Everyone ate, we had terrible 3G service- I made sure to suggest to place another WiFi in the garage. So, I was advised we had to get up at 0430 because the guys wanted to get to work at around 0600. Okay, well, the sooner they get done, the better. I was psyched to get up and be able to get out of there on Wednesday. Hubby added a pin box install, but that was not going to delay getting out of there. So, another nice cool day, I hung out in the office lounge. We met another couple who had been full timing for 12 years and talked a lot to them. So the afternoon rolls around, and hubby said “do you want the good news or the bad news first?”. Why does that question make my stomach twist a bit? The good news? They were done! The bad news? Well, apparently, the staff discovered they were “off” on the axle replacements by about 1 1/2 inches. Those who know me, would know the expression on my face at this statement, and also know what I said to it, which I can not write here without having the NSA throw me in Gitmo. The bottom line: we had to stay in the garage one more night. And so we did, but we had the routine down a bit. We had a scare inside the rig when it ‘moved’ a bit – hubby went out and put the remaining levelers down. Right. We did wake up- again – at 0430- still level in the rig- and let the guys fix what they needed to. These guys were very professional, they felt awful for what happened. They had integrity, honesty, accountability and did the right thing. So we did get out of there by Thursday morning. Headed back to the Elkhart Campground again and are staying until Monday, when we will head out for South Dakota. While we were at the Mor/ryde, we went to the International Flag Store and I finally found my flag pole.
It was an appropriate symbolic thing to do to fly that American flag – freedom from the garage! Although I would not recommend this experience for others with a Zoo, the quality of the work has my hubby happy, the rig hauls better and is more stable. This is our house after all, and it needs to last us for a very long time – heck if that couple we met has been full timing for 12 years, we will be as far as we can tell for at least that long. It is worth getting quality safety stuff on your RV home in our humble opinion. Oh, and a Mor/ryde t-shirt.
Today, we went to get groceries, but not before going to the RV Museum – it was only about 15 minutes away. It will probably be the only museum I will want to go to, it was very interesting. They have overnight parking for RV’s – but you are not allowed to put out your slides – that is not very helpful for over nighters.
Anyway, I planned out our trip and made reservations at our stop overs for going to South Dakota. It seems now the journey is going to begin – but then again – we’ve already started it! Hopefully, it won’t be in a garage again for a very, very, very long time to come.
July 26, 2014
It has almost been one week since we left Hickories, and it feels like it has been so much longer. Ofcourse, Ruski & I had to look up what day of the week it is today. The trip from Lake Milton to Elkhart was planned on being a little longer than 3-4 hours, but it was 5 to 6 hours and that was way too long. We are still hammering out a really good system to navigation. My hubby uses the GPS for 18 wheelers and I have the printed out trip in my hand.We communicate by radio. I have to admit, I really dislike this arrangement. I do not mind driving, I mind not being with Ruski. For now, and with the Zoo, and not knowing if I will need the Jeep to get to work assignments, this will have to be the arrangement. So we had our first miscommunication getting to Elkhart, which I will call ‘the radio silence’ afterward. I had declared the exit number to get off and for whatever reason, it was missed (I was following the RV, it seems to work better?). Anyway, we ended up going on Route 33 north leading to Elkhart. After apologies, ‘the radio silence’ ceased and we enjoyed really driving this route. It was rolling hills of farms and cornfields, which is apparently in a very large Amish community. Then we knew we were heading in the right direction when a lot of RV’s went by us, more and more as we got closer to Elkhart. We got separated once, and so the plan emerged from this that I can always put in a GPS route for myself and get to where we are going. So we finally arrived at Elkhart Campground ( http://www.elkhartcampground.com/ ) and Ruski immediately recognized it as a campground we stayed overnight at when we came out West on our Yellowstone trip. So we have full hook ups, a level spot and all is good- just not the most scenic. My brain fog lifted from driving that long by the next morning. So Monday, we go get the Mor/ryde suspension and breaks. Apparently we boon dock camp at the installation place. They start work on Tuesday morning. We can leave the cats in the rig while they work on it. I do not think Carly, pictured here, will be especially pleased with this arrangement.
She is the noisiest when crated in the back of my Jeep. Jakey just goes to sleep, he has picked up on the traveling thing very well. Carly at least will be in the RV and not in her crate. I worry too much about them, they tend to be more adaptable than I at times. So while the rig is being worked on, we have to find something to do – with two dogs. So, we are thinking of finding a park and hang out if the weather permits. Then, we return to the rig, in the garage, and sleep in the rig, in the garage. We apparently will at least have 50 amp electrical service. We are given a pin number to the door of the garage that Ruski will be going in and out of to walk the dogs. Okay, I admit it, I had major anxiety attacks about this yesterday; we took a drive to where we are going to see the place. I am better today.
I can take some lessons from Corky and Tasha to chill out. The good Lord will not give us anything that we can not handle and I have to FROG it and drink wine. All will be okay. This is the one and only business thing we have to do and be in this predicament. Then it’s onward to South Dakota. I do love the adventure – just not the one leading into a garage.
July 22, 2014
So it must have taken us 3 hours to pack up and finally leave Hickories Park in Owego, NY. We were there just over a month and wow, I can not believe how much we had to pack. So with the dogs in the pick up, the cats in the Jeep with me, we head out. We had to pull over at the first rest stop because our radios were not working. That was a must because I had printed out directions from the Good Sam Trip Planner and hubby had the GPS for trucks. Well we finally got going and then it got close to our first destination, and hubby’s GPS bounced signal all over the mountains and took us on a highway way out of the way. Finally getting to our destination, running on fumes. We set up, got the animals situated and then went on another adventure just to find gas. Oh, brother. Well, the GPS is fired and my print out directions are the final word from here on out! The very first place we stopped was at Nittany Greyhound kennels in Port Matilda, PA ( http://www.nittanygreys.org ) This is who we adapted Corky from, and wanted to meet his foster crew and get his paperwork. Toni and her wonderful family put us up on her front yard to mooch-camp. We had some neighbors that entertained our kitties.
These folks do wonderfulrescue and have a beautiful farm. We are so appreciative of their hospitality. I knew Corky wanted to come with us when he smiled and ran to us when he was in a dog run. Poor Tasha thought she was going to be left behind; both loved getting into the truck to go this a.m. The kitties do not like the travel, I don’t think any do. So we try to go 3-4 hours at a time. We pulled into Green Acres Lake Park Resort in Lake Milton, OH ( www.GreenAcresLakePark.com )today, for a two night stay with electric and water. We used the Passport America benefit for the first time and it did pay for itself – 1/2 price for both nights! It is a sweltering 95 degrees. From here we go to Elkhart, Indiana for suspension and brake upgrades. We are thrilled to begin our journey throughout America.