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

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart

Forty-Seven years ago I had no idea what being married for 47 years could be like!  I was young — in those days at age 19 I still had to be signed for by a parent if I wanted to marry.  And, OH! — I was marrying an older woman.  She was all of 21.  The world was our oyster — but at our age neither of us had ever eaten an oyster, or even shucked one for that matter.

And today, 47 years later I can’t imagine life without Peggy.

We have always heard about how difficult it is to make a marriage work but we’ve never found that to be true.  We surely have been blessed, but as I’ve shared before, ours was not your typical courtship — I proposed to Peggy  we ever went on a date — and we were married a scant three months later.  What we had were commonalities in our view of life and our purpose on earth from there we started building a life and I really can’t remember the last time we disagreed on much of anything.

There is something good about sort of ‘growing up’ together.  Who we were becoming was still very much in a state of flux but we grew together and we have pretty much always done almost everything together.  She was the woman I wanted to spend my life with and even though there were long periods of time — months on end — that work kept me away from home — there has never been anything I have wanted more than just spending time with my bride.  And now — for the last 4 years we’ve been able to do that every single day — and I still can’t get enough.

Sweetheart, I know you read my blog of a morning, with your first ‘cuppa’ that I usually bring you while you spend a few extra minutes in bed and I clatter away on the keyboard.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.  Thank you for being the great constancy to control my whims. Thank you for being the constant cheerleader for my hair-brained schemes.Thank you for coming along on this Life Unscripted.

No one knows what the future will bring, but I know two things.

You can always count on me.

I can always count on you.

In a world where trust seems so hard to find the intimacy of those two sentences is almost more than can be borne.  To come, 47 years through life, without breaking trust is a miracle in itself — at least it seems so when we hear of all the stupid things people do to each other.  But this is the way life is “supposed to be.”  We meant what we said 47 years ago and we’ve lived what we said.

I love you, thank you, and you get breakfast in bed this morning (seeing as my blog is on just the right day for a change).

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And to the rest of you….

Thanks for eavesdropping and I’ll talk to YOU tomorrow.

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Old Diary

A few thoughts on proximity

Snowstorm EngineIt’s time for a few reflections on proximity.  Proximity is the one variable that — it would seem — is not easy to ‘test’ before making the commitment to an RV lifestyle.  And proximity might have more to do with whether a couple continues RV’ing or gives up their dream.

If you are retired I don’t have to explain the sudden enlightenment that comes along with partners suddenly being in close proximity day after day after day after day.  When you, me, all of us, were working we enjoyed married life — at times — more like two blind people bumping in the  night than two canoeists paddling together towards a unified destination.  We have our job/s; there are family pressures and obligations;  there are community obligations — and we fit all of those into our lives along with spending time with our partner whom we vowed to love until death does us part.

But if you are not an RV’er, then the degree of proximity that you will experience when you take off in your newly purchased dream home will probably come as a revelation.  If you are living together in 200 or 300 sq ft, and you are with each other all the time, everywhere, in all climate and emotional upheavals then what your life will have become may come as a slap in the face;  or kick in the stomach;  or maybe a delight.2014012603210677

Peg and I have talked for years (before retiring) about finding some ‘job’ we both liked that we could do together so as to spend more time together.  We actually still like each other and our entire 45 years we have been looking for ways to spend more time with each other — rather than less time together.

But even in the best relationships life isn’t always easy:

  • That helpful partner of yours can sometimes be overly helpful when you live in 200 sq ft.  You can be simply moving along a series of little steps on the way to a bigger one — only to find that your beloved spouse has jumped ahead of all those little steps and has already finished what you were about to do.
  • Living in such close proximity often leads both of you to the same thoughts, at nearly the same moment and bodies collide while reaching for the same thing.
  • One of you spends too much time thinking and not enough time doing — and the other is standing around in a small space waiting on the other.

These are just three of a million little things that can occur in which your partner — not having the luxury of a lot of physical space — flows over into what you consider to be YOUR space and there is that momentary impulse to feel upset, offended, hounded, (insert appropriate adjective here).

The fact of the matter is that no relationship is perfect, no more than any single person is perfect.  And sometimes we just have to remember what it was about your partner that made you fall in love in the first place!  Those little bumps in the night aren’t nearly as important (I hope) as the qualities of your partner that made you love them at the beginning.

In my former life — I’ve talked about this before — I was a bi-vocational pastor.  And when counseling young couples wanting to marry I had one bit of ‘homework’ that they were all required to do.  Before I would marry them they both were required to give me a list — sealed in an envelope — that I hoped never to have to open.  On that list which I hoped never to read  they were to write down the things about their soon-to-be partner that they loved most AND the things about their partner that they DISLIKED.years are garments

My reason for this was very simple.  In the privacy of your own moments we all realize that our partner isn’t just the exact person we might have wanted.  Perhaps they have too quick a temper, or they are boisterous, or maybe they forget to be kind… But to ourselves we can often see the weaknesses that we will never speak about to anyone else.  (Or at least that we ought not to speak to anyone else about).  So, if the married couple ever got to the point that they were upset with each other and wanted to talk about divorce I wanted them to load their own guns and have already thought about what drove them bonkers.

Of course, knowing me, there was an ulterior motive.  If they got married in spite of the fact that there were things about their partner that they didn’t like — I wanted them to be able to confront their own fore-knowledge and decide whether what might be driving them apart at a time to be determined in the future could be just the same thing they knew about before ever taking vows.   RV living can be something akin to that kind of soul-searching.

This morning a couple of our ‘neighbors’ in the RV park left.  We had been standing around chatting and someone who is ‘just’ a weekend RV’er asked whether we still like full-timing after 2 1/2 years.  My wife smiled and said “of course.”

And that’s the true test… As time passes are you still just as happy to be living in a glorified tin can?  We haven’t been at this ‘long’ — but so far we’re lovin’ the life we’re livin’.    We have been doing it long enough to be aware of the pitfalls; and the pitfalls aren’t enough to distract us from all the advantages.

I think that for us our time on the Forest was a good test of our longterm ability to RV.  It was probably the single longest time we worked on a single project elbow to elbow day in and day out without a break.   We learned new nuances about each other that neither of us knew before.  We saw each other reacting to other people in a more intimate way than we had in the past.  I learned some more of Peggy’s wonderful traits; she learned more about mine.  Whether or not we do another volunteer gig we have benefitted (ourselves) as part of the volunteer process.  That’s something to be thankful for.  And we are.

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

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Old Diary, Travel

Getting Back Into the Post Holiday Rhythm

At the moment I’m writing a few days ahead due to a variety of causes. Soon I’ll be back to needing a post for the next day — but that’s just the way life goes. So, as it goes today was the first day back after the Memorial Day weekend.motorola-barrage-v860-xl-2

We lucked out; no phone calls all weekend after Friday evening.  Everyone did not have that good of a weekend.  There were two fatalities on the dunes over the holiday;  people doing stupid stuff and paying the price for their own actions.  It’s sad that ‘fun’ activities so often result in accident and death but there are no cures for alcohol induced stupid behavior or for disregarding the laws of physics.

On a positive note, after seeing a forecast for overcast skies today we still wanted to get out and get some campsite photos taken.  We fled the office about 10:30 and managed to get photos taken at Bluebill and Wild Mares as well as picking up the missing campsites from Lagoon and Waxmyrtle campgrounds that were occupied last week when we made our first round for photos.  r116-hv-bibs

55232F-pThe shipment from Grundens showed up today.  Finally.  Our local supplier is great about getting rain gear ordered and Grundens is usually good about shipping quickly but this time they let us down.  Our Driftwood Caretaker has been getting soaked to the skin for way too long and I was happy to get her outfitted properly!   I swear these High Visibility outfits are so bright that they almost hurt your eyes looking at them.  In a few weeks the color fades a little and then they are OK,    but the first few wearings are really something to get used to.

I hope to speak with the Collections officer tomorrow to find out how we are going to upload all these photos.  How this plays out will have some impact on our future plans.

I am still wondering what we’re going to do about the volunteer location guide.  The Forest Service seems to want a guide volunteers can pass out to visitors, but we are more interested in a guide that will help us recruit more and better volunteers — getting better volunteers will be better for the guests in more ways than providing them with tourism hints.

Tomorrow I’ll probably go into the office alone.  I need to talk with Da Boss about fall recruiting and to make some changes to my Volunteer database.  I have found a replacement for one of our Driftwood II hosts — that’s good.  And I learned today that Fred & Polly will be returning in October.  They were the father/daughter caretakers who left us unexpectedly in April, two weeks early because of an accident involving Fred’s son/Polly’s brother.  The son/brother is making progress, they are up in the Columbia Gorge caretaking there, and are still on track to return.

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EXCEL has become ubiquitous here.

I am still flummoxed by the lack of a useable database program. So much of my ‘job’ here has involved finding my own resources and I hoped that I could ‘find’ a database that was available to me that would allow me to customize my own fields for use building a resource for future volunteer coordinators.  Two calls to the helpdesk have failed to offer any solutions.  Does everyone use EXCEL instead of a database now?  I know you can customize EXCEL with macros and ‘stuff’ but this MAC aficionado doesn’t know enough about EXCEL to get that job done.

On the subject of computer problems, these government machines download their own updates, and install them too.  At least that’s what is supposed to happen.  I have a program that has been trying to install itself for a couple days and it’s stealing processing slices slowing down my computer.  I tried to get some help from the helpdesk but they told me that they didn’t know what the problem was and gave me a phone number at the Forest Service to call for specialized help — except the phone number gets forwarded to someone else’s extension – so I’m not getting any help at all.  Hmmmmm…. what to do, what to do.

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On the topic of future travels, I think we have decided that IF we head East in the Coach that we’ll probably stop off to see Peg’s brother once again.  We’re all getting older and as long as we are ‘only’ 900 miles away we might as well make the extra stop.  We had talked about Kathryn coming out to visit and then return with us in the CR-V for my annual doctor’s appointment.  But changing plans might change that plan as well.  All of this is up in the air — but we’re thinking.

My inquiry to AM Solar was referred to a different party —  to one of the partners.  So, until I hear back from the company about a solar installation the timing of everything is up in the air.

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

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Old Diary, Travel

A Few RV Repairs and a Chill Holiday

RV’s need repairs too.  And Monday give us the opportunity to do a couple repairs (other than remounting that TV) and to do a little more gardening.  We picked up a couple more flower pots for tomatoes, a cana lily that Peggy wanted to get, and some marigolds.  And she got busy planting.

I went to town on re-routing some water lines to the coach from the water supply and replacing the leaky end of the retractable filling hose.  I noticed a few days ago that the handy-dandy retractable potable water hose that comes with the coach was leaking.  Not just a couple drops but a small triclle.  So, time to get out the tools and fix it.   Finding the repair kit was easy — though making sure that we had the right size — 1/2″ Female is what we needed. The replacement only took a few minutes.

With the leak fixed that gave me a chance to run the retractable hose over to the water hydrant and to remove the  20′ hose and insulation and heat tape we had installed last fall.  If we are still here this winter we’ll re-run the heat tape on top of the retractable hose; if we have left — then that’s one job that’s already done.

hose repair kit

I took this at the store, but what we needed was 1/2″ and not 3/4″

I also used the sunny afternoon to switch off of ‘City Water’, to fully fill our onboard tanks, (finding out where the overflill drain is so that we are ready for filling on the road whenever that happens) and to play around with our water tank compressor pump.  We haven’t used it at all since buying the Ambassador and its not a bad idea to make sure everything works.

I also took the time to go through our box full of Ambassadors owners documents — something I’d not done since taking delivery.  I had some to throw away — like those for the RCA tube TV’s we replace and some to replace with newer ones (LCD TV’s and a couple personal add-ons).  At least now I know what documentation I have now. I do believe in reading manuals — just not necessarily first thing. 🙂

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The official All US Corps of Engineers Campground map.

We also got out our all-U.S.A. Corps of Engineers campground map.  They have not reprinted this map since 2006, so they are hard to come by, but I find it invaluable when planning new trips. And we used a good part of the morning to talk about were we actually WANT to go in the next few years.

As much as I love my wife she’s not the easiest person to get to tell you what she actually wants.  So, we took a good part of the  morning highlight places she doesn’t care to go.  That seemed easier to do than to pick where she wanted to go.  It’s not my preferred methodology; making decisions by negatives. But for the moment we need somemethodology that will get us past relearning what we’ve forgotten in the last year and get us back onto the road.  That said — ProhibitionSign2I think we’ve taken San Diego off the list of sooner-rather-than-later places to visit.   That’s Ok — too many people there anyway! 🙂

 

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