Images, Old Diary

Gone Walkabout, sort of

Not really, ‘Walkabout’, just a little more walking!  I’d like to think we are walking a lot. But truth of the matter is that we don’t walk nearly as much as we did 10 years ago.  Still, it feels good to get out and it’s good for us to get out and get as much exercise as we can.  incline treadmillThe warmer temps we are finding here have us walking more than in Milwaukee and the uneven terrain and good paved roads have us walking more inclines — so we can pretend we’re on our cross-trainers!  NOT!

By the way — do you see the Christmas Wreath on the driver’s side mirror?  Mike sent that along with us when we left Milwaukee.  It’s an annual big thing for him, making wreaths.  He’s a whiz at them too!

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There is something wonderful about being almost alone in a big old park!

But seriously,  we are getting out a little more and getting a little more physical exercise. And a good thing that!  We have two more days of decent forecast and then Grenada is in for a long bout of rain and inclement weather — right after we leave.  We’ll not be eluding the weather forecast though — by the time we get to Fort Pickens we may be socked in for much of our stay.

Serendipity is feeling quite at home here.  She likes being cuddled up to the edge of the pond as she is.  Great for morning sunrises!  And for communing with geese and a few dabbling ducks.

Today is Friday; we leave on Sunday.  We’ll get a little laundry out of the way today; we have to get back into the rhythm of RV’ing.  Our long stay in Milwaukee somehow lulled us into an alternate universe of cycles and repetitions.  We were more into our normal rhythm after 10 months at the Siuslaw forest than when we were after 3 1/2 months in Milwaukee.  We may lack some of the regularity of living in sticks & bricks — monthly bills aren’t so much ‘monthly’ as periodic.  On the way down we filled our diesel fuel twice.  Before that we hadn’t put any diesel in the tank since August.  On the road we tend to pay for camping every one or two weeks instead of making monthly ‘rent’ or utility payments. It’s a different routine — but a routine just the same.

When it comes to routines though, there are always things you don’t think about.  For example, there’s the thing about freezing temperatures.  After 3 1/2 months in Milwaukee hooked up to a heated water supply the idea that the temp was going to dip to 30º overnight didn’t sink in. This morning, for the first time ever, we found the water supply to the coach frozen at the hydrant.  I can turn on our on-board water pump and get water flowing but there’s no supply from the source.  Usually we ‘drip’ 1 faucet overnight and that’s all we need to do until the temps hit 25º or so.  But not here, evidently.  Tonight we have another night of 30º forecast temps, so a-dripping-we-will-go!  Actually, our high today is only forecast for 47º!  But it’s still warmer than what we left behind, and 47º here feels warmer the  47º– 800 miles further north.  Maybe it’s all in our head, but that’s the fact of perception!

Well, the little lady is getting hungry, so I guess it’s time for breakfast. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Images, Old Diary

Every Sunrise is Different and isn’t that Great!

I guess I’m in a particularly thankful mood of late.

One could say that I ought to be upset about our wonky slide topper — seemed we had gotten everything ‘fixed’ and we finally had the prospect of smooth sailing for a while and now that happens.  But the reality is that maintenance is an ongoing reality and buying a 10 year old coach means that some things are going to need replacing.  Maintenance is nothing to get upset about.

And, we are finally heading South.  For the Winter.

Hooray!

We are much more the ‘Early Birds’ than the ‘Night Owls.’  I love sunrises and it seems as if (when we stay in this campground and in this particular site) that I want to photograph the sunrise every single morning.  Maybe that’s because every single sunrise is different. 

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A few years ago some old geezer said to me that

Any day you wake up
on the right side
of the grass is a good day.

It seems that since hearing that I have embraced that idea even more than I had in my youth.  I’ve never been one to stay sad or depressed for very long.  Well, aside from one major even in my life.  I’m pretty much happy all the time; or most of the time anyway…

I appreciate what we have, and the life we live.  I never, in all my imagination, dreamt that retirement would be this much fun.  When we were working I gave away a lot of years of productive labor to causes; at the time I pretty much thought (as unreasonable as it might have been — who says I have to be sensible all the time) that I would work until I couldn’t work anymore.  Circumstances changed, Peggy needed to leave her job — for her sanity’s sake — and so we retired.  When we ran the numbers and realized we could be comfortable and even take a few chances with our retirement life we were both surprised as heck.  And maybe because we are living better dreams than we ever dreamt, we both wake up in the morning eagerly, looking forward to what most days have to offer us!

It doesn’t hurt that, now for example, we are in a nearly deserted park with beauty around us. We’re feeling healthy (regardless of what the reality may be).  We’re happy to be together; and to spend time together.  And we’re happy to meet new people and have new experiences every day.

That point about being together is one that’s particularly important for RV’ers to consider.  There’s not a lot of places to hide in an RV.  If you barely get along with your Significant Other then taking off in a rolling home is not going to make your co-existence any easier.  It really helps if you have a good relationship, enjoy each other’s company, and take pleasure in similar kinds of activities/things.  If one of you has something happen to them, the other is going to be right there to chime in and like it as well, or dislike it.  In my case we just seem to fit each other really nicely.2015121608270113

After writing yesterday’s blog I thought to myself, “I hope Kathryn doesn’t feel that we think Milwaukee isn’t home any more.”  The fact that this visit  — with it’s doctor induced stress and it’s NeverCold induced stress was a sort of one-off experience.  Oh, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel as if the climate of Milwaukee is welcoming again.  But that’s just my little bugaboo, my phantasm,  my little obsession.  The fact is that being near her is always the most comfortable place to be.  And Michael too.

What I am coming to appreciate more over time is how much Peg and I are changing, and have changed, through this experience.  I guess I look out at some people and they seem to hold tighter and tighter to this world as they age.  And I guess I feel, increasingly, as if I’m letting go of more and more things.  I have my likes and dislikes, but I’m willing to tolerate more than I have been in the past.  Which seems contradictory because as I age I also notice the foolishness and stupidity around me more than I once did.  Or things and people are just getting more foolish and stupid.  (Not sure about that perspective!)

man-looking-through-binocularsWe started out looking for a place.  Now, the place is less important.  Being who we are is and always has been our thing.  But perhaps we never thought about it.  Living life on our own terms — as much as possible — is what we’ve always wanted, and pretty much what we’ve always done.  Perhaps me more than Peggy.  She was the stable one in our life together.  She was the one who stuck with a single employer for 33 years, and I was the one who kept finding new adventures.  But still and all it was about being who we were and not pretending to be something else.

go-back-to-being-meRV’ing is the best place to be who you are.  On some levels there’s less pressure to conform.  (Although if you really believe that you’re buying into RV myths that the reality of RV’ing will knock out of you in a big hurry!)  RV’ing give you the impression of freedom!  But we still have our budgets, our physical limitations, our lifelong habits.

For a week, or maybe a few weeks, I’m quite happy to have nothing much going on.  Every morning Peg asks what I have on my agenda for the day, because I usually have an agenda for the day.  But lately my answer has been bupkiss, zip, nothing!  Which I’m quite happy with. It’s nice that there are ups and downs in life.  Flurries of activity, downtimes, times to coast and times to trudge up the hill: variety is a cliche but that “spice of life” thing has some weight to it, and I’m enjoying every spicy bit.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll chat with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary

Recombobulation Area

Our third day in Grenada and life is good.

I am always amazed when certain places just reach out and grab me.  This time around Grenada feels even more the right place to be at the right time than it did last year.  And the folks in town seem even more friendly than they did then too!  Just this morning I was reading a blog entry from Ingrid (LiveLaughRV) and she was making a similar comment.

At General Billy Mitchell Field, the Milwaukee Airport, someone had the idea to put extra seats beyond the TSA screening area so that people who had to remove their shoes and partially undress in order to get through screening would have a place to put themselves back together.  They raised a sign and call it the Recombobulation Area!

I feel like I’m re-combobulating.  It feels good.  In fact, it feels great.

recombobulationWhy is it that I should relax more here than I was able to do at the State Fair RV Park?  I have no idea.

I’m serious.

We seemed to be busy all the time while in Milwaukee.  Much of that “busy”-ness was self-inflicted. We chose to be coming and going. There were stresses about figuring out my health needs, and of getting my body to adjust to a brand new medication regimen. But the fact of the matter is that we kept active so as not to be spending all our time thinking about the negatives and uncertainties. So being ‘busy’ was not the fun kind of busy.  It was more the nervous energy kind of busy.

I guess I let the sudden revelation that what was wrong with me could have killed me get the best of me for a while.  Interestingly, my blood pressure (which had been quite stable for the months in advance of arriving in Milwaukee) jumped up a bunch of points from the time of my first Cardiology visit.  I didn’t really understand why but I guess my body knew better than I how stressed I was about what I was hearing from the doctor’s lips. Interestingly, after getting the green light from the specialist, my BP readings went back down to where they had been before getting to Milwaukee.  Personally, I think it’s all about getting back to our own lifestyle in our own kind of surroundings.  (P.S.: All the readings taken on the same blood pressure cuff. this is not a case of calibration!)

Once we had the fridge installed and a new supply of meds in hand, life changed.  I was exhausted after our Saturday drive; no surprise about that — it was a long day.  I was tired after the Sunday drive too.  Monday I just puttered around with little details.  And today, Tuesday,  I took a nice long nap — but I FELT much better.  I really don’t like being out of control; and I don’t accept it easily.

With temps touching 70º here at Grenada we had time for a lovely walk.  This is such a beautiful campground.  Sitting on the park bench and looking out into the lake I was quite content.  The sounds of critters and the wind in the pines spoke to my heart.  I could feel the stress sloughing off as I sat there.

On the other hand….

I’m a little skittish about our stay in Ocala.  We aren’t big RV resort people.  We like parks: state, federal, county, city, any kind.  We may ramble on about having a heated pool at the RV resort and how nice it is, but the fact of the matter is that we love the setting of a good old fashioned “park.”  I’m sure that Ocala North RV Park (which bills itself as an RV ‘resort’) will be just fine for a place to stay.  I guess I’m having the same doubts about this new place that I had last year before we arrived at Palmdale.

Could it be that four years into our RV adventure we are clarifying our likes and dislikes without ’trying?  Could it be that now that we’ve lived through 4 years of retirement without the dead weight of a house and a life time of habits and routines that the obvious has always been there just waiting to be recognized?  What we have really wanted is just to be together — wherever we are.  Our perfect place is being together for as long as we can make that happen.  The where we live is less important than the with whom we live.

For example. This summer, while we host at Highland Ridge we’ll be in one place of 5 months.  Almost twice as long as we spent in Milwaukee, but whereas the time in Milwaukee dragged, I’m looking forward to Highland Ridge!  It’s a slow pace.  It’s a park. In every sense of the word. There’s nothing fancy about it. The people who stay there are pretty much like we are in a lot of ways.  And, like this place, North Abutment Public Use Area — it just fits us well.

When we leave Grenada we’ll spend three nights at Service Campground in Silas AL.  That is another COE campground.  After leaving Service we’ll be at a Gulf Islands National Seashore.  It’s been a while since we’ve camped in a National Park or something similar. I’m curious to see whether we feel the same about other kinds of ‘parks.’  We have tended to stay away from National Parks.  National Parks are so popular that they tend to be more congested than our first choice of campground. Our visit in Moab, at Arches National Park was nice but there were a lot of visitors there in an off season.  This is a different kind of national Park so I’m interested to see what the vibe is all like.

We’re having a lot of fun experimenting with different camping options.  We haven’t yet done any real boondocking.  We have tried a variety of state and federal properties.  We have looked at several city and county properties — they’ve been nice but so far we’ve just looked at them.  Same with Passport America and Escapees — we joined but we never really got inspired to USE their services.  It seems they simply aren’t what we’re looking for.

The mud seems to be settling in our RV pond.  The depths are clearer as time goes on.  And the best part of RV’ing has been he people we have met, and gotten to know along the way.  RV’ing is a great way to live for the right personality.  And we are loving every minute.

Thanks for stopping by, and let’s talk again tomorrow.

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Old Diary

Could use a little water!

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2014

We’re hearing a little about how ferocious this el niño is and I have been focussing my attention on the areas of greatest interest to me — namely Florida, Texas and Arizona.  But it’s easy to be distracted from reality by one’s own biases.  For example, there’s the LACK of precipitation here in Mid Mississippi.

When I look at the longterm forecasts for the winter and I focus in on the projection that Florida may get significantly more rainfall than normal — I forget about the fact that we are passing through Mississippi and the situation is very different here.

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Same scene — 2015

The top two images are taken from nearly the same point, one year apart.  As you can see water levels at this dam are significantly lower than they were last year.  Momma Nature can be very unequal about her distribution of her favors!

We are enjoying the sounds of nature, and the wildlife.  Last year we didn’t see any deer at all around Lake Grenada — we were 45 days earlier and there were a lot of campers in the campground.  This year there are 9 camping units set up — and that includes three units for the different loop hosts. — So, really, there are 6 campers in this lovely site.  Last year I thought they were open all the way through the winter but this year I see recreation.gov shows no availability from 1/1/16 to 4/31/16.  Evidently something changed.  It would be interesting to see what winter would be like here.  I know that some of the hosts have stayed through the winter during previous years.

2015121510302703Back to my tale about critters…

Last year we saw no deer.  This year we saw some right away on the first day.  There are a lot of Canada Geese here — whether to over-winter or just in transit I have no idea.  A couple herons have been seen as well as cardinals, jays and a variety of other birds we recognize, we hear numerous woodpeckers, and there are at least half a dozen bird songs that we have no idea what they might be.

The catchment basin that we are parked alongside is nice because it doesn’t seem to vary as much due to water level fluctuations.  It seems to stay fairly full most of the time.  There’s a swimming area, and a pier for fishing — taken more advantage of during warmer weather I’m sure.  I don’t believe I want to go swimming this time of year.

We made one brief trip into town for provisions.  I think we’ll stop over again on Sunday to top off the fridge before heading to Silas but we’re good for now.  I forget that it’s hard to find wine by the box around here — Mississippi is clearly BEER country — Oh well….

When we first sold the house and went mobile we had planned a 2 week stay to decompress after the stress of selling and legalities.  This stop in Grenada seems rather like the same thing.  I can feel the stress just sloughing away and it feels good.  I had some projects I intended to take care of on our first or second stop — they may wait until we get to Gulf Shores.  I’m enjoying being retired.  Peg’s enjoying sitting out side — something she didn’t do at all in Milwaukee for the last 2 1/2 months since the temps started dipping.  This is just a nice homey place for us.

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

P.S.:  it’s now a couple days later since writing this and the current 10 day forecast includes 8 days of rain — maybe they’ll get a start on filling this reservoir!

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Old Diary, Travel

Gettin’ Ready to Move

Our 28 days have come to an end.  As I said before, this is one of those rare USACOE where you can get an extension to their 14 day nationwide limit and stay 28 days, after October — and we have used up our time.  It’s been good to be here, but it’s time to move further South.

Before talking about our departure I want to highlight how much things can change in 1 short month.

The foreshortened shoreline when we arrived

The foreshortened shoreline when we arrived

The shoreline now after a month with very little rain.

The shoreline now after a month with very little rain.

When we arrived there had been a period of decent rain.  Since arriving we have seen  significant rain one night and one day of very light sprinkles.  In that time the shoreline of the reservoir has receded a couple hundred feet.  At the time of the top picture I had no idea I would want to document the shoreline so this was taken from a raised section of the campground overlooking the shore in the distance.  The lower image was taken from right down there where the campsite is and the water is easily a couple hundred feet from where it had been earlier.

Also,  In all my days, never did I ever think I’d be a resident of Mississippi — not even for a minute — not even for a month.  But I have to say that living here for a month has been a very interesting experience.  I have totally enjoyed the spirit of the Mississippians we have met.  They have been friendly and welcoming.  Now that’s not unusual in campgrounds — you are, after all, meeting people when they are in a good, getaway, mood.   But in all fairness I have to say that the in-state campers we’ve met here have been warmer than in numerous other states.  (and if you don’t know how I know they are in-state campers — well, all I had to do is check the vehicle licenses).

This campground is profoundly Mississippian.  In 27 days we saw a grand total of 5 RV’s  from outside Mississippi.  I expected more transients — Snowbirds en route to the South — but we did not see them.  What we saw were campers who come back weekend after weekend even into the fall — to enjoy a very pleasant place.   Considering the number of RV’ers out there I am continually surprised that we are as spread out into every nook and cranny as we are.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s CURRENT Racial Makeup

Milwaukee Diversity

The Milwaukee – Chicago Corridor clearly is a melting pot.

Then again,  let’s talk about diversity.  I grew up in Milwaukee WI during the middle of racial reform in this country.  When my daughter was going to public school in Milwaukee we were being told that Milwaukee had the worst racial segregation in the nation.

As a guy who has always gotten long with pretty much everyone that has always bothered me, and it had a lasting impact:  one thing I notice when I travel is what sort of racial diversity exists in a place. I am accustomed to diversity and I miss it when I don’t find it.   Now, don’t get me wrong…. I’m not a novice traveler.  I know from experience that camping in general and RV’ing in particular are activities that are far more popular among Whites.  But frequently we will find some other ethnic group mixed in among the campers.  For example, during our stay on the Oregon Coast there were significant Hispanics and Asians sort of balancing out White population — no in equal numbers but enough to be noticed.  (And to cause consternation because the Forest Services signs and literature was written only in English — and our volunteers often ran into problems with Spanish speaking campers)

US Population Diversity

National Diversity Map. Click on the link to go to the City-Data Interactive Chart

So, it was very apparent to me when we arrived here that diversity was something missing.   In spite of Mississippi having the second highest Black population in the country (after Washington D.C.) we saw NO Black campers, and only 1 family of Asians.  ?????   Considering how noticeably mixed the town of Grenada is — 6 short miles away — I found that perplexing, perhaps even troubling.   From the map it’s easy to see that we are moving into areas with more diverse than what we are accustomed to.  I’m eager,  curious,  to see what we find, and maybe to taste some more interesting food!  Right here it’s been a little bit bland.

Time to move on

Nov12

A simple route

We have no reservation for our next stop.  We’re hoping to find a place at Bayou Segnette S.P. for 5 days. Checking recently they were 50% booked — so we should be OK. You may remember that our early plan had been to spend two weeks there and two weeks in Grand Isle but changing family plans have resulted in this fore-shortened stay.

Bayou SegnetteAs you know we aren’t big nighttime people; we’re pretty low key.  I’m looking forward to some seafood,  a little time in NOLA and a drive to Grand Isle to check it out — all within 4 days on the ground — and without breaking a sweat.  That’s some tall order.

However, this won’t be our only visit to NOLA. I feel no compulsion to see a lot.  We’ll experience whatever we experience of New Orleans.  The immediate draw for me is checking out Louisiana State Parks! So, this as less of a visit to the City and more of a chance to get to know the two parks, and get the lay of the land for future visits.  Doing that on our way to S. Texas; two birds, one stone:  sounds like a bargain to me!

If we get an early start we’ll stop in at Camping World in Hammond LA. It’s not far out of the way. A little RV store window shopping might do me good.  Inspiration is where we find it, right?  Maybe they’ll have a Flagpole Buddy in stock, and I’m still puttering around trying to store our belongings in places where we can remember where we’ve put them so ideas are always welcome.  (God’s Honest Truth though — we have a better idea where things are in this coach than we ever did in our HOUSES!)

Back to the subject of overnight stops for a moment.  As you may remember we thought  stay at more campgrounds along our way South.  There are other Louisiana and Mississippi State Parks.  But the decision not to do so was based on the idea that good old RV’ing adage:  SLOW DOWN!  We were having a good time where we were. We didn’t need a change, so we decided to save those other stops for another trip/s.

Yet another example of how PRE-mobility ideas about RV life morphs over time.  We transitioned from single nights in one place (even from TWO nights in one place) in favor of longer travel days and fewer setup/departure days. Neither of which changes the number of intriguing places to visit or the things to be done in every state.  Next time through we’ll be free to choose either new stops or you’ll hear us spout nonsense about returning to places we have liked in the past claiming them as our ‘favorites’ when in fact we have no idea of the other options.  < no, I’m  not really being sarcastic, just thinking about some of the comments we’ve heard along the way. >  It’s a wonderful luxury not to feel the need to see everything or do everything on the first time.  All that we need to remain happy RV’ers is to enjoy each stay to the full, and while there to do a little reconnoitering for future visits.

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

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Old Diary, RV Living

I Fixed It! (Continuously Learning)

First I have to share another grocery shelf item. Slap Ya Mama I saw this today and I stopped dead in my tracks! What a name for a product!  As you can see it’s a Cajun Seasoning product and we are definitely within range of cajun cooks. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A few days I actually purchased a bottle of Gumbo Roux, with which I have been very happy thus far.  It’s so fun taking time as you wander through a grocery.

Just an update on that toaster oven that we bought a few  months ago.  We have in fact been using it much more often than had we used the old toaster which got left behind in Milwaukee. AND, it lives on our next-to-the-dining-table counter so that it’s much more convenient to use.  toast r oven

Time till our departure for New Orleans is dwindling. I’m enjoying being retired.  Puttering around, getting more exercise, cooking, talking with my wife.  I had been asked a couple weeks ago how long it takes to get over the guilt about being retired and enjoying life so much.  I don’t think I had even thought about post-retirement ‘guilt’ until the question was put to me.  And the more time passes since the question was put, the more I realize how much I like being retired.  We both worked long hard hours to get to this point and a good number of our contemporaries have passed from the scene, or will never have the freedom we are enjoying right now.  No one knows how long this period of life will last but it’s sweet.  When Peggy worked for Aurora Healthcare she worked 50+ hours every week for years, their offices were moved into places that I never could believe the O.S.H.A. people hadn’t shut them down.  Their organization grew so rapidly that they were moved from one industrial setting — being remodeled  to offices — to another one.

I worked long hard hours during the years I drove commercially, I worked long hard hours when I was self employed.  I’m finally getting to the point that I don’t wake up every day at 4:00 a.m. ;  occasionally I actually sleep in until 7:30 — I can’t remember how long it’s been before the last few weeks that I could do that.  Guilt?  No.  No guilt at all.

Can you fix it if it’s not broken (and you just don’t know how to work it?)

When we bought Serendipity we knew she had surround-sound installed — the dealer had it all cranked up while we were touring it the very first time.

When we took delivery of Serendipity the last thing on my mind was worrying about the surround sound when there were so many other completely different and new things to be learned.  To be honest we were several months and on our way East from Oregon before I even thought about it again.

In the meantime I had disassembled the old tube-type television installation and replaced it with our new LED TV.  There were an excess of speaker wires that I lost track of from whence they had been disconnected — not a good practice (not to label as you disassemble) but there you have it, I’m not much of a mechanic.

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Now when our son in law Micheal comes to visit (hopefully this winter) he can listen to GOOD sound!

Well, yesterday I got to thinking about our lack of Surround sound — I mean we have a 12 x 12 x 10 woofer box taking up most of one of our few precious lower cabinets and doggone it all I wanted the use of that cabinet or that woofer was going bye-bye.  I spend a good part of the morning thinking about it when my central processing unit was sharing cycles (I was multi-tasking).  Then it dawned on me.  We have not been using the BluRay player that lives in the same upper cabinet as the satellite box. Could it be that some setting on the BluRay box might be the switch to activate the surround sound?

It took a while, playing with the machine setup menu until I found a combination of settings that turned on the Surround Sound.  So, to make a long story short, I got it to work but it wasn’t ever really broken — just “operator error.”

But — we now have better sound.  As you know, as you get older your hearing goes. 🙂

And there you have it — that list of projects keeps getting worked on one item at a time.  It’s not going down quickly; but it’s going down!

By the way…. we moved some of the kitchen storage around yesterday.  A plan of attack is beginning to formulate for one of the upper kitchen cabinets using that same closet shelving that our friend Bob Flanigan used in the basement storage — except I’m thinking of dividing the cabinet above the sink for better storage of dishes, cups, glasses, and wrapping materials (waxed paper, plastic wrap, and aluminium, & parchment paper).  We would not tackle that project until we arrive in New Orleans, or perhaps until we arrive in S. Texas.

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

 

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Old Diary, Travel

What’s Up With Morbid Curiosity?

Why do I do it?  I can’t seem to stop myself.

Internet-addiction-300x200I know I don’t want to follow through.  I’m still shell-shocked from our recent experiences  (not literally ‘shell’-shocked, but  metaphorically tired of having to deal with people as a representative of anyone). I am not ready to put myself back in the same situation.  But I can’t help looking at the listings on Volunteer.gov!

I guess I’m no different than thousands of drivers who slow down to look at car wrecks or who go to boxing matches hoping to see boxer beaten to a pulp or going to a stock car race to see a collossal wreck.  I just get weird kicks checking out volunteer gigs on offer.

Morbid Curiosity:
When curiosity and common sense collide:
Enquiring further about a subject
when you know you really
don’t want to know the answer
The key here is continuing to enquire after you have already drawn a negative conclusion.  I’m a junky on Volunteer.gov. So, other than spending too long on Thursday looking at gigs I wasn’t really interested in anyway it was a good day.

Lonely Camp Hosts and Other People

It’s good to have friends.
It’s better to have a partner who’s really your friend.

In the last two days Peg and I have been accosted by lonely people.  I’m sure it’s happened to you;  someone comes up to you and no matter how hard you try you just can’t break away from them!

Wednesday it was Don from Missouri.  Don’s a nice guy; Don’s a lonely guy.  He knows more about fishing than I know about a lot of things; he makes his own lures — by his own admission he has some 1,000 fishing lures; and he loves telling fishing stories.  Peg and I had decided to take showers at the campground showers and Peggy went ahead of me while I finished up what I was writing. I headed off to the shower a few minutes later and by the time I showered, dried, dressed and walked back to Serendipity there was my poor wife trapped by a talkative old guy.  She’s way too polite to break away abruptly and so she had to stand there listening, or pretending, while Don went on at length about topics she couldn’t care less about and there was no getting in a word edgewise.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust

Thursday it was the both of us trapped during our morning perambulation around the campground by…. you guessed it… the camp host.  Charles is a real Southerner — a lifelong Mississippian  — a hard worker all his life and quite the chin-wagger!  We learned about HAM radio on Thursday.  Did you know at 10 miles distance the earth’s curvature is dropped 66 feet.  No wonder you can’t see much more than 7 miles straight ahead on the surface of the earth — in that distance the earth has curved some 34 feet and anything shorter than that would be hidden by the curvature of the earth.  We learned about Charley being on his army unity’s  Rifle Team, and the fact that he was a records clerk…. we learned all sorts of things about Charley and scarcely had a chance to actually share anything from our own lives.

The funniest part, however, was that as we walked past Charles 5th wheel I could hear him inside scrambling to get his shoes on and get outside to talk with us before we got too far!  Charley’s a peach of a guy!  I like Charley.

But Charley and Don highlight a fact of RV’ing.  Don’s an itinerant — he travels about here and there as the spirit moves him. Charley and Dot have been camp hosts for more than 2 years.  They don’t move around so much.  But Don is lonely, and so are Charley and Dot.  There are a lot of lonely RV’ers.

i-dont-like-himWhen we were at the Oregon Dunes part of our Volunteer job was to spend time talking with volunteers.  I did not do that part of the job as well as I might have.  As so often happens with me I had “things” to do and I didn’t spend as much time with the people as I might have.  It’s a character flaw.  But it’s also a reality that volunteers need encouragement — they’re out there on the firing line and they need some personal contact with people they aren’t supposed to be overseeing.  The nature of volunteering sometimes means that they are ‘stuck’ in a campground much of the week and they just want to talk with someone who doesn’t want something from them and at a time when they want to talk too.

Old-womanI suppose I could say that there are a lot of lonely old people.  While that may be  true it’s the RV sector that I’m thinking about.  By virtue of having gone RV’ing they display that they are facing aging proactively.  They are trying to keep themselves young and alive by keeping life interesting and varied.  But in the words of the Old Testament, “Time and chance happen alike to all” and some RV’ers are a lot better off financially than others.  I see some of the new RV’s going down the road and the difference between them and us is  a whole Fort Knox.  Then again I think back on the RV’s that some of our volunteers on the Forest had and there’s a Fort Knox of difference between what they had and what we have…. and our coach is 10 years old already!

Lonely-SeniorFor some RV’ers volunteering is their own choice.  All RV’ers can’t afford to be driving hundreds of miles very often.  Some can hardly afford the fuel it takes to keep their pickup filled with fuel   They live humble lives and the contact they have with campers may be their primary human contact at this point in their lives.  That’s not an easy situation to be in.  Some of our volunteers at the Dunes were a lot like Don and others were a lot like Charles and Dot:  nice people, vibrant people, but lonely ones.

Many-older-peopleThere have been times that I have thought about returning to the Dunes — to see if we could do a better job for the Volunteers and not as much of a job for the Forest Service.  But the fact of life is that loneliness is a factor of old age regardless of where you are in the world.  There comes a time when the world is going faster than you are and your contemporaries — your friends — pass from the scene one by one.

Peg & I are lucky in that we are each other’s best friends.  We don’t have to go out and catch people to talk to because we talk with each other.  We are also lucky in that we don’t need a lot of people around us to feel content; whereas those who like groups, who have been part of groups all their lives — for them the transitions of age can be challenging.  And for those who are considering the move from Sticks & Bricks it’s another factor to consider:

  • can you be happy with the people you are going to cross paths with along the way?
  • will there be enough of them?
  • will there be too many of them?

old-man-cThursday morning when I was browsing the Volunteer.gov postings I had been looking at a number of BLM listings.  A common factor with many of them was their remoteness;  not just being nearly off the grid, but being entirely off the grid.  I wonder about the kind of person who volunteers to be that reclusive.  This past Spring I had hired a volunteer caretaker for one of the Dunes positions.  He was in his early 40’s; a vet with disabilities, wanting a way to make a difference in the world and he had just completed a year long volunteer gig for the BLM out in the middle of nowhere where he was 100 miles (one way) from the nearest town, with spotty cell service (only at specific locations on the BLM property).  He’s a great young man (by comparison to myself), but I can’t imagine shutting myself off that much from humanity.  I suspect I’d go mad — even WITH my wife around!  I need contact with people.

There are no conclusions to today’s blog.  I’m just thinking about the folks we’ve been meeting — the Don’s and the Charles’.  There have been similar individuals in pretty much every campground/RV park we’ve visited.  I think too about those volunteers we left behind at the Oregon Dunes — dear people I learned to care about — a lot!

As we took a walk today I was saying to Peggy that before we retired I really WANTED to volunteer and to have an impact on others in ways I could not when I was working.  After having done a couple gigs I find myself saying “I would like to volunteer, but I don’t want to do THAT.” I’m wondering whether this is going to become a sort of pea under our mattress thing?  I’ve always given a lot to others — it’s been who I am — but I’ve been looking, wondering, waiting for a new outlet. And I’m wondering why this one aspect of life has been weighing on my mind for months now.  I don’t know if it’s something I want to change about how we are RV’ing, or just about how we spend out days while RV’ing.  I don’t know.  It’s a topic on my mind.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow. 🙂

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Old Diary

Wild Goose Chase

nov 5As we wind down our time here at Grenada we’ve pretty much wandered around as much as of the local area as we want.  We’ve gone N, S, E, and W  but Wednesday’s road trip was a wild goose chase.

Flagpole Buddy

Flagpole buddy components

Truckers AntennaIf you’ve been hanging out with us long enough you know that I sometimes use an external antenna to boost the cell/data signal to our phone and MiFi box.  In the past I used a 16′ extendable pole to which a trucker’s antenna was attached and the improvement was quite satisfactory.  The availability of 4G LTE signal boosters has had me researching that subject all over again but one of the changes I wanted to make was a real flagpole holder — instead of what I had been doing which was wire tying the pole to our permanently mounted ladder on the back of the coach.  It worked, but it was kludgy.  I saw a wonderful, easy to use bracket on the rear of several coaches at the Oregon Dunes but never got around to doing anything about it.Flagpole Buddy  I liked the fact that it was simple to use:  two brackets permanently attached to your coach ladder and off you go.Flagpole buddy 1  So when I saw one on the back of our camp host’s 5th wheel I decided to inquire.   The host was very helpful and gave me the catalog of the company that he bought his from.  What he didn’t tell me — and what I guess I missed in paging through the catalog was the fact that the store was online only, and had no retail showroom.  So…. when we decided to take a drive some 70 miles to Starkville MS imagine our surprise when we arrived and found nothing but office space.   <sigh>

Oh well, we had a nice drive out of it.  We saw another quadrant of Mississippi countryside.  And we had a nice Chinese buffet to ease our frustation.

I don’t really mind those wild goose chases.  It’s beautiful country even if it is poor country.  We wanted to see the U.S. of A. and we are seeing the U.S. of A.  What’s to complain about?

On another front I came across something I think a lot of RV’ers might be interested in.days of week  It’s a day of the week clock.  Have you ever gotten up in the morning and had no idea what day of the week it was?

Amazon.com has the solution you want.  If it wasn’t selling for between $40.00 and $50.00 I might be tempted to buy one.  But for $40.00 worth I can get out my flipping calendarcalendar and tick off the days in ink, thank you very much. It might not be as technological but I think I can hack using a pencil.

I’m thinking that in the few remaining days we’ll stick close to the house.  We’ve done enough exploring and I have projects I still haven’t completed.  It’s nice to look around and see what other people call ‘life’ or ‘normal’ but sometimes it’s nice to simply “be.”

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

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