Old Diary

Great American Roadtrips

Have I shared this with you before?  I know I have had it sitting around here for some time  but I don’t find it in my index…. so here you go.  We’ve done parts of some of these, most recently the Loneliest Road from CO to CA.

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Old Diary, RV Living

Simple Pleasures

This way or that way, or that way and this way…

I turned my attention to routes from Los Fresnos,  Northward in May and then again back South at the end of summer.  I don’t know about you but I find it harder to plan a shorter trip than a longer one.  And I find it hardest to plan a trip where I have a firm start date and end date.

I’ll get it figured out.  What I’d prefer is to make both trips without reservations…. just taking each day as it comes.  This spring it will still be early in the vacation season.  This fall the kids will be back in school and some parks will even be preparing to shut down before we wend our way towards the equator.  Even though I’ve been up and down so many of these highways most of those times were in a car or a truck — not in an RV — and we are still learning the ropes about RV seasons.  I’m not going to fuss about it. Eventually all will fall into place.

We are still planning (some of those set-in-gelatine plans) to take in the Blanco Lavender Festival in mid-June.  I wish I could find enough information on the festival to decide whether we really need reservations at State Parks that are 20 or 30 miles away from the festival.  For a guy who a.) tends not to value things in the same way as others and b.) who is unfamiliar with local customs this is one puzzle that comes up every time we are planning a trip:  how to balance our desire to wing it, without getting stuck with 55 feet of coach and tow vehicle and no place to park it for a few nights.  If necessary I’ll make reservations but I’d rather not need to.

Blanco was not always known as the “Lavender Capital of Texas.”  The idea of Blanco farming lavender did not take root until Robb Kendrick, a National Geographic photographer, and his wife Jeannie Ralston visited Provence, France some years ago and noticed the land there was very similar to their own in Blanco, Texas.  Robb returned to Texas and planted 2,000 lavender plants and started conducting seminars on how to grow lavender.  People listened and then, in 2005, the first Blanco Lavender Festival was held.  And now, it gets bigger every year, and it’s not just arts and crafts; it’s arts and crafts, music, food, farms, and seminars.

We are pretty sure that after Blanco we’ll stop in Livingston to check out Rainbow’s End and the Escapees.  We are members but we have not had anything to do with them yet and still don’t appreciate all the services they have to offer.

Simple Pleasures

I awoke, this morning,  to the sound of silence.  Well, the sound of near silence…. Peggy was purring away beside me in that wonderful, contented, semi-snore that she does.

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Our old school/home

Silence — it’s a wonderful and rare commodity — something we didn’t hear much of in Milwaukee. (does that make sense — hearing silence?) There were always sirens, airplanes, trains and the constant drone of traffic on the highway.  Even when we lived in Cudahy — as far from the Interstate as we could get, and as close to the lake as we ever managed — still there was no escaping the constant drone of the city.

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this was my old office in Cudahy — I loved the color even if some of my family members didn’t. And NO — I am NOT colorblind.

I woke in a reflective mood.  The RV park has been working on cosmetic touchups  (which is to say that workampers and volunteers have been doing the work) — remodeling this, and painting that.  Part of their sprucing up includes repainting the entry vestibule at the office.  The color brought back memories — they chose almost the same paint color as my old office.  Lime Green.  Some people might not have found it pleasant but I enjoyed it tremendously.

Anyway…. back to silence and other simple pleasures.

This time of year with temps in the 50’s overnight we don’t leave the furnace turned on — consequently we sleep in silence — no noises, no blowers, no fans, no rushing air or furnace sounds.   Silence is golden.

Our school had hot water heat — (it did after we PUT it in shortly after buying the property).  I LOVE hot water heat, and radiators, and anything that’s not blowing. Blowing  is why I don’t like convertibles and why I don’t like driving with the windows down — too noisy!

baseboard

We had these baseboards with a zillion aluminum fins to dissipate the heat — and the heating and little fins made a lot of noise.

radiator

We had one of these in the kitchen – silent as the day is long — but that was no help when the bedroom baseboards chattered. sigh

Hot water heat is supposed to be silent. The baseboard in our bedroom was not silent.  Whenever the heat came on the baseboard crackled — heating and cooling, expansion and contraction noises.  And every morning it woke me up.  It wasn’t a loud noise.  It was hardly a noise at all.  But it woke me up.  Every single day.

I’m finally learning to sleep a little later in the morning.  I  never used to be able to stay asleep past 5,  usually not much past 4, and sometimes not past 3 — so I’ve spent plenty of  hours enjoying the morning peace.

I loved that time: for reading, for writing, for being alone with my thoughts.  RV’ing brings a new dimension to peace.  I don’t consider the sounds of nature to be ‘noises.’  I love the chatter of birds early in the a.m., and the sound of tree frogs and owls;  even the breeze in the trees.  Somehow the sounds of nature don’t strike me as noises.  Those sounds I welcome.  We have no forest noises here; but we do have a good number of birds.

Now that the switches on the Norcold are ‘fixed’ the alarm doesn’t go off in the middle of the night — that’s nice too.  Funny, how after 3 or 4 days of periodic alarms being able to go to bed and not even think about the fact that the alarm won’t go off is another blessing.

Simple things.  Quiet.  A hot cup of coffee early in the morning. Time to think about things:  big events, big ideas, the ebb and flow of life.  And to listen to the sounds of birds.  Without sirens…. that is heavenly.  To me, anyway.

In those few years that I drove truck I saw too many terrible accidents.  For 2 years I hauled meat from Madison (Oscar Meyer) to Boston.  Saturday night and Sunday were rather like  a movable feast.  About 20 of us drivers seemed to meet up with each other just east of Chicago over a space about 50 and we all drove together for most of the trip to the PA/NJ border.  There we broke up, some going East into The City, others heading NE towards Boston, Bangor, Hartford, etc.  One of my good friends during that period was cut off by a car near Hartford, he swerved to avoid hitting the card and plowed into a bridge abutment.  There was a lot of fire;  he was terribly burned and died a few weeks later.  Ever since the sound of sirens has brought back unpleasant memories and I have wanted to be as far away from sirens as possible.

Sounds are strange things.  We form associations with noises that have nothing to do with the sounds themselves.  Where we heard them, and why, the time of night (or day), etc..

Another simple pleasure is the compactness of our ‘house.’  Living in 40 feet sounds hard but living in 40 feet is almost the easiest thing we have done.  I am so happy we made the choice to downsize.  I can still mess up my desk.  We still have things sitting around that aren’t put away, but housekeeping 40 feet is much easier than keeping a couple thousand sq ft of house and caring for a lawn or garden or grove of fruit trees.  I love being 10 steps from everything!  I love that we don’t have as many ‘everythings’ as we used to.  I didn’t need them and don’t miss them and I keep trying to find ways of shedding even more of what we carry with us.

There is some traffic in and out of the park.  Not a lot — but we are on the main park road and we pretty much see every vehicle that enters or leaves.  There aren’t that many of them.  But I find that I miss the periodic sound of campers arriving and departing that accompanies staying in state and federal campgrounds.  The lot of us arrived several months ago and most of us are still here — other than the UPS truck, the FedEX, and Waste Management there aren’t many trucks coming or going.  Getting accustomed to not being part of the workforce, and consequently not caring about things that used to be part and parcel of life is an ongoing process.

Sitting in the sun — something we aren’t getting as many chances to do as we hoped but something I almost never did at when I was still working — I was always fussing and puttering — it’s another simple pleasure that I’m coming to really enjoy.  Sometimes with a book, other times just to watch the ‘neighbors’ parading back and forth.  I never thought I could learn to enjoy such little things.   My parents in their retirement loved to visit National Parks and part of their ritual was to find a bench from which they could just watch people passing.  I don’t even need a National Park.  Watching people is always fun.

I like the fact that retirement is changing me.  Change is good — even if we aren’t always of a mind to welcome it.  Some people have a plan for their retirement  — places they want to go, things they want to do.  Some folks seem surprised that we are quite happy to make our plans whenever we make them and not to have things plotted out very far in advance –– but why should we?

I’m finding that the longer we’re retired (and the less I have to deal with customers) the happier I am. I love people and I enjoy them — but in much smaller quantities than I ever had to deal with when I was working.  In good weather and in bad every day of retirement, and every day of this mobile life has been wonderful. Whether we went one meal a day or four, whether we sleep 4 hours a night or 10, whether we talk to 100 people or no one  this has been a wonderful 3 1/2 years and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Even the worst days (not that there have been ‘worst’ days) have been pretty doggone great.

Those of you who aren’t yet retired, who may yet have to make your decisions about how to spend your retirement — all I can hope is that you end up being as comfortable about your final choices as we have been.

Grumble, grumble, grumble

It happened to me on Sunday. For the first time in my life I had to choose NOT TO READ A BOOK because the print was too small.  I never thought it would happen; and to be forthright I do think that the print in that particular book is exceedingly tiny — but geez,  I’m too young for this.

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow!

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