Is It The Places or The People ?

We are closing in on finishing up our 3rd year of living the full-time RV lifestyle.

The road has been a good one to us. Not that it’s been all fun, frolic, and laughs but it has brought us closer together – not only physically but emotionally as well.

Kathy and I just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary with an Amtrak trip to Glacier National Park. During our lifetime together, a lot of that time was “alone” time. In one of my early career positions I was gone “on the road” nearly every weekday, sleeping in motels Sunday through Thursday nights somewhere in my multi-state territory.

Even when I was at home, my time was consumed with working on the “work” business from home involved in conference calls and drafting of sales proposal letters along with being active in the only real hobby I ever had … local ham radio clubs and events.

Me in my ham radio “shack” in the early ’80’s

Kathy had a handful of different jobs over the years (most importantly raising the kids and keeping the house together) with most of the time working in the school system so she could be off work and at home when the kids were at home. We were fortunate because with her job schedule we didn’t need to hire child care.

But now our lives are a polar opposite of that earlier time. We are together ALL THE TIME. We travel side by side, we share meals, we do the mundane tasks of grocery shopping, house cleaning and laundry together, and we sleep next to each other. I think we have both come to appreciate each other far more than earlier in our marriage. We’ve always had a lot of mutual love and respect for each other – rarely raising our voices to the other. But before … we had other things to occupy our time. If we felt the urge for some “space”, we could easily separate ourselves from the other. Now on the other hand – it’s not so easy. After all, we live in a 300 sf box with a little bit of green space around us.

Our three years together in our “Green Machine” Airstream motorhome has given us the luxury at this stage in our lives of … in a way … becoming one.

45 years and still “Livin’ & Lovin'”

When we started this lifestyle three years ago, we realized that in order to travel from place to place and enjoy the local life, we needed to have some assistance with the household budget. We sold our house, paid off what little remaining debt we had and decided we would live off our social security income and a small pension Kathy had from working at the school system. We decided we would keep the retirement nest egg (IRA’s, investments) alone for future use when (if) we get off the road. Oh sure, it’ll happen sometime. We will either run out of good health or run out of our love for the road, but by leaving our investments alone so they can continue to grow, at least we won’t HAVE to come off the road because we’ve run out of money.

Although I had no employer monthly pension income (I was self employed the last 20 years) we had purchased an annuity years ago that could now provide a supplement to our Social Security along with Kathy’s small pension.

Yes we could “make it” on those income sources alone, it was going to be tight. We’d have to always be scrutinizing the budget each month and we’d have little room if any for any emergency expense or extravagance.

Somewhere, somehow … we discovered Workamping/Hosting/Volunteering and the opportunities it can provide. These experiences have given us the opportunity to travel and have rent-free sites and utilities. In addition, these opportunities have given us something else that we never really expected … new and lasting friendships.

Workamping/Camp Hosting/Volunteering opportunities are generally long-term commitments. What I mean by that is that most often (but not always) your “employer” would like to have their “staff” on board for the season or even year-round.

Starting out, our first gig was 6 months long – the winter season in Arizona.

Kathy at the registration desk at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ

Although our owner/managers (George & Sigrid) were wonderful to us, treated us so well – like family … we ultimately decided when making arrangements for future opportunities we would look for more “short term” commitments. We’ve since been working one-month to 3-month gigs.

This way we can continue to travel around the country and have more new experiences and make more new and lasting friendships. If we worked for 6 months in each location, we’d be 130 years old and still not have completed our Bucket List!

Here’s a U.S. map showing where we’ve AT LEAST stayed overnight in the last three years. You can see we’ve still got a long way to go … we need to spend more time along both the east and west coasts.

Oh yeah, earlier I mentioned this part about friendships but then I got off track – excuse me. We have discovered that working (volunteering) as we travel allows us to meet, get to know, and build lasting relationships with lots of wonderful people from all over the country.

Right now as an example, we are acting as tour guides at DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish, South Dakota (Black Hills and Badlands area)

There are 10 couples here, all living in our rigs side-by-side in Volunteer Village at the Spearfish City Campground right across the street from the hatchery.

We work side-by-side, share most nights of the week around the campfire cooking smores and enjoying each other’s stories and even have monthly pot luck meals along with weekly free music festivals in the city park just a few hundred feet away.

One of our pot luck meals at Volunteer Village
Brooksie entertaining us with one of her stories while Matt prepares his Smore
Enjoying one of the weekly free “Canyon Accoustics” concerts
Sometimes it’s a smaller group out to share a meal together

When we have to say goodbye and hit the road again, we stay in touch with our new friends as we travel using both Facebook (groups) and a Facebook-like app made just for RV’ers called RVillage.com. Both of these are great resources to keep up with our buddies and see what their next adventure is and maybe where we might apply to work/volunteer in the future.

We’ve already had at least a dozen experiences over the last three years where we have volunteered with folks in say, Livingston Texas and met up with them again in Burlington Vermont or Ludington Michigan (or somewhere like that). Sometimes it’s planned, but more often it’s serendipitous!

But what about our family and “old” friends? Do we miss our kids and grandchildren? You bet! It would be great if we could do what we are doing AND fly back home to Ohio at least once or twice a year to spend time with the family. But, fact is we just can’t afford to that. Life is often about sacrifices (and opportunities!)

It really depends on where we are working and how long the commitment is and where the next commitment will be. We don’t plan our work locations based on traveling back home once or twice each year. We plan our work locations on where we have NOT been, what we might like to see, and how appealing the location and job description/compensation package is.

We were last in Ohio April of 2018 for a month and we will be back there summer of 2020 so we’ll have plenty of time to catch up. The photos below of the kids, grand-kids, in-laws and old neighbors might be a couple or a few years old, but they’re some of our favorites.

And of course, we post LOTS of info and pictures on Facebook, videos on You Tube and posts here on the blog for family and friends to see what we’re up to.

So yes, it’s great to travel the country and see all the great exciting new places, but we’ve found that the wonderful personal relationships we’ve developed with all our new friends as we travel and volunteer are the larger perk of the RV lifestyle that we embrace.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Workamping and volunteering experiences, just scroll on up to the top right hand side of this post and enter either “volunteer” or “workamp” in the search box and hit “enter”.

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Storm Came Through Our Park (Video)

We had a severe rain and wind storm a couple nights ago here at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort near Baldwin, Michigan.  We knew it was coming and went around the RV park to warn folks and tell them to take in their awnings and secure any lightweight items like plastic chairs and such.

The newscast said winds would be about 50-60 mph so we were expecting it, but it came up SO FAST!

Kathy was out just as the storm was moving into the area.  She was directing the ladies that were arriving to the clubhouse for the Ladies Golf Outing Dinner – showing them where they could park.

Sara and I went over to the pavilion to watch the storm – she and I always use to enjoy sitting on the porch or out in the garage watching a good storm – the more thunder and lightning the better.

Just as Kathy’s parking duties were done, she walked over to join us at the pavilion and then it hit – and the power went out. Good thing the ladies dinner was a pot-luck and the clubhouse has plenty of windows!

The video shows how strong the wind was, although it seemed a LOT worse there in person than it does on the video.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words … and these new digital cameras are amazing but still, they just don’t show the true enormity or depth of the experience in person.

The power was out from Tuesday about 7 pm when the storm hit and power was restored Wednesday night about 10:30. Since the park has well water, no power meant no running water either. Many of us keep some water in our fresh water holding tank so we could shower and use the commode, but had to make sure our gray and black water holding tank valves were closed so that nothing went into the park sewer system. If the power is out, then the sewer system pumps don’t work either.  Others took advantage of the 5 gallon buckets placed at the swimming pool so they could carry pool water back to their units so they could flush the commode.

I was told that one individual even took a bucket of water from the hot tub (still warm) to shower at the shower outside the bath house!

After the storm, many hands made light work as we cut up tree limbs and removed the debris down to “the pit” where it’ll all be burned during the winter when there’s no chance of starting a forest fire.

It’s all over now, but was plenty of excitement while it lasted and some sore backs and leg muscles after the cleanup was all done.
Many thanks to all that helped.

And now on to the Labor Day weekend festivities !!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Workamping Near The River Fun

On this particular Workamping gig, we work Thursday through Wednesday .. 7 days on duty and 7 days off duty.  At least one of us needs to be here at the park all 7 days, while the other can run into town for grocery shopping, a visit to the barber or other needs as they arise.

But on the 8th day … we’re free to take off and do as we please.  And this has been a wonderful benefit of Workamping.  We work about 3 hours each of the 7 days we’re on duty in exchange for our RV site, electricity, wifi, cable TV, heated pool and hot tub.

We have 2 weeks every month to come and go as we please and see the sights … and since we grew up here in Michigan and lived in Ohio the last 35 years before we hit the road, we’re fortunate enough to have friends and family visit.

Our first visitors were our daughter Sara and son in law Stu (along with Dulaney and Arlo)

Herb, Kathy, Dulaney, Sara, Stu, and of course .. Arlo

More recently we had a visit from my sister Betsy and brother in law Bob.  They live in the Virgin Islands and were up in the Detroit area visiting their sons and were able to take a couple days to come up to Pere Marquette RV Resort to visit us.

Herb, Kathy, Bob and Betsy

My other sister Marilynn lives in Jacksonville and it’s always great to hook up with family and our visits are too far and few between.

Marilynn’s husband Rick was at work

 

 

 

This time we took a rafting trip down the famous Pere Marquette River.  The river is 65 miles long and runs from Baldwin to Ludington and on out to Lake Michigan.  We traveled only about a half mile as the crow flies, but it took us just about two hours to go from the landing at Green Cottage to Gleason’s Landing.

The Pere Marquette River is know far and wide for it’s excellent Trout and Steelhead fishing and since much of the river is in the Manistee National Forest, there’s a lot of wildlife throughout the area.  The video below illustrates our relaxing ride.

So if you ever find an opportunity to visit northern Michigan, make a stop in Baldwin and take a great ride down the Pere Marquette River.  Baldwin Canoe Rental is the ONLY canoe rental on the PERMITTED portion of the river and they know what customer service is.  They’ll spot your car down the river so it’ll be there ready and waiting for you when you get to your appointed stop.

Tell ’em Herb & Kathy BALDWIN sent you … see if they’ll give you a discount (yea right)

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Great February In Florida

NOTE: We are currently back at Livingston, TX for a couple weeks while we volunteer at the annual CARE Center Health Fair at the Escapee’s RV Park.  We’ll be leaving here Mar 31st and heading back to Ohio (for a bit).

WOW!  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  Now that we’ve got good wifi for the next couple of weeks, maybe I can get caught up a little, eh?

We were Workamping at the Escapees “Rainbow’s End” RV Park in Livingston, TX from mid-October to mid-January and then we took off to Florida for the month of February.  A little vacation for us with no “work” like we’ve been doing since hitting the road fall of ’16.

What a great time we had …

Our reason for going to Florida was not only to get a little better (warmer) weather than what we’d had for the last 3 months in Texas, but even more so to be able to visit family and long-time friends.  Some of these folks now live in Florida full-time while others are either regular “sno-birds” or maybe are just on a short vacation from the frigid north-land to warmer climates.

In any event, thanks to Facebook, RVillage, and GMail we were able to actually meet up with and spend time with 15 different couples as we enjoyed our Florida getaway.  You can click on any of the pictures to see the caption of who it is we visited and where.

While traveling and workamping have their rewards (being able to see the sights and helping to pay the way), by far the best part of this full-time RV lifestyle is the opportunity to hook up with old friends and meet so many new ones along the way.

We are blessed to have this opportunity to travel.

Our plans for the near future include; heading back to Ohio in April to visit family, then up to our Workamping gig in Michigan for the summer at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort, while fall of 2018 will take us to Albuquerque, NM where we’ll be working at the annual International Balloon Fiesta, then on to our leased lot at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ for the winter with an excursion in mid-January to Quartzite, AZ to work at the “Big Tent” RV Show.

We haven’t planned spring and summer of 2019 yet, it’s a little too early to start nailing anything down, but we hope to be somewhere in the northwest U.S.

 We hope you’ll ride along!  Oh, and by the way, feel free to comment down below – it’s great to hear from you TOO!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Merry Christmas!

Kathy and I want to extend a special “Merry Christmas” wish to you and yours.

Although we won’t be with family this year (since we’re in Texas), we’ll be spending some time with a hundred or so other campers here at the park and we’ll enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner on Monday.

We hope that you are able to be close to family and good friends at this special time and that you appreciate and enjoy that time together.

And of course our best wishes to you for a wonderful and rewarding 2018 too!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

WOW! What a Blast – Friends We’ve Seen Along The Way

The reason (or so we thought) that we embarked on our full-time RV lifestyle on Labor Day of 2016 was to fulfill our desire to travel and see as much of this beautiful country of ours that we could.

We’ve seen a lot of sites since then, but there’s still so much more to go and we could spend a lot more time in any specific area to allow us to explore more deeply, so it’s very likely we’ll be going back again to many places in future years to do so.

A HIDDEN BENEFIT

But what has really turned out to be a wonderful benefit of traveling and not being on a “vacation” type schedule (running from place to place) is that we’ve been able to meet up with and spend time with family and “old” friends (not to say they are OLD by any means!).

This blog post features some pictures of those we’ve met up with along the way. Some are “NEW” friends and some are our “OLD” friends.

Unfortunately, although I had every intention of taking a “selfie” of us altogether at every meetup, we occasionally parted company without remembering to shoot a pix, so I’m listing those folks as well.  If I’ve missed you in this post, I apologize.  If you’re reading this and you can send me a picture of yourself, I’d really appreciate it.  My email address is herbsells@gmail.com

I know many of you won’t know any of these folks, but I also know it’ll be fun for those that are in the pictures to see some of the others and remember times past along with the brief time we spent together in the last year or so.

I’m going to post the pictures into a collage, you will be able to click on any individual photo to enlarge that particular picture to see a “zoomed in” view.  The zoomed-in view will also let you see a brief description of who they are and our relationship.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

What we do about health care

There is a lot of discussion online in the RV world about how different folks handle their healthcare issues while traveling around the country.  On Medicare or private insurance?  In Network or Out of Network?  Prescriptions, routine doctor visits, diagnostics, and more issues to consider and work out.

I thought I’d share how things are working out for us.

Employer-Offered Group Plan

Before we hit the road, we had been “self-pay” for about 10 years.  That is to say, we had no medical insurance and we had to pay our own way.  Kathy had worked for the school system for 25 years where we used the group plan offered there, but the last 5 years or so of her career the school made the decision to terminate all the teacher’s aides and have them re-hired by an outside contractor that did not provide any health benefits.  

I had a heart attack in 2003 and as a result could not find any affordable health insurance plan for the both of us once Kathy’s plan was cancelled because of my pre-existing condition.

Since I owned my own small real estate business (an LLC), I was able to find an insurance broker who was able to form a “group of two” for Kathy and me to get some coverage.  First year it was $750/month, 2nd year it went to $1000/month, and the third year it went to $1250/month and that was in 2008 when the real estate market was collapsing in Ohio and sales were way down and we had to drop the plan.

We were once again on our own, hoping that nothing catastrophic came along.  We continued to pay our own; office visits, prescriptions, diagnostic tests, etc and just prayed that neither of us had a stroke, was diagnosed with cancer, or some other terrible (and costly) disease or ailment.

In 2010 Obamacare was introduced and in due time it became the law of the land and everyone was going to be required to sign up …. or else.

The Obamacare “Silver” plan was going to cost us about $1250/month AND $12,000 out of pocket for a $27,000 annual total cost before they picked up the rest.  No thank you sir ….

And then it happened …

In 2013 Kathy was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  It was detected early, a total radical hysterectomy was performed and to this day she is cancer free and was not required to go through any radiation or chemo-therapy. We were (and are) truly blessed.

But how did we handle the financial burden associated with such a catastrophic illness?

We found, since we were self-pay, that at the time of registration at the hospital they asked for a small down payment ($500) and a commitment to pay monthly some “agreed upon” amount.  At the time I was still working and we agreed to pay $500 every month until the total bill was paid off.  We could have committed to as little as $25 monthly. After her surgery and during recuperation the bill came at just about $35,000 but was discounted to approximately $22,000 because we were self-pay.  We paid more when we could and got the bill paid off in about 3 years.

Click on this image for a larger view that you can read

We’ve since found an alternative to paying our own way and/or group health insurance.  We found Medical Cost Sharing through Christian Healthcare Ministries.  Here’s a quick synopsis of CHM’s programs.  We pay $300/monthly for BOTH of us to receive GOLD coverage.  Because we also subscribe to their Brother’s Keeper Program, our reimbursement per illness is unlimited.  The Brother’s Keeper additional quarterly donation varies, but is usually around $30-$50 per quarter.

With CHM, we are the “Financially Responsible Party” and the bill comes directly to us.  We ask for self-pay discounts up front and we generally get them.  We submit our bills to CHM and in 2-3 months we are reimbursed.  Since it’s a religious based program, this qualifies for an exemption from the requirements of Obamacare.  Here’s a link to a 5 minute YouTube video explaining how CHM works.

Urgent Care

Although our doctors are back in Ohio, when we were in Arizona it was necessary for me to go to urgent care for treatment.  They had a program where you become a “member” almost like a gym membership and pay a monthly fee so you can go anytime without further cost and you can cancel anytime.

The visit would have cost me $650 (there was a small surgical procedure involved), but under the membership program they offered, I only paid $105 that night (for the first 3 months) and then would have continued to pay $35/month after the first 90 days, but we cancelled the program since we were leaving and heading to Michigan for our summer workamping gig.

Here in Michigan, I again needed to visit Urgent Care at the local hospital for what I thought might have been a sprain in my left hand/thumb.  We were greeted and I was served right away (it was an early morning visit), vitals and history were taken by the Physician’s Assistant and then the Doctor met with me and diagnosed Tendonitis.  He prescribed rest and a mild inflamatory, and installed a splint.

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We walked out the door paying nothing at the time of service and were billed later a TOTAL of only $100!  I believe if I were covered by insurance, the bill would very likely have been at least a few hundred dollars.

Prescriptions and Medications

We pay our own way on prescriptions and medications.  We’ve found however, the value in comparison shopping.  Again, when we were in AZ last winter, one of my meds was going to cost $453 at CVS, but we got it at Fry’s (Kroger) for $32.  Here is a clip I just took from GoodRX.com this afternoon just to show you an example of the varying prices.  When you are paying cash for meds, this can make a big difference in the monthly budget.

Kathy uses an insulin pen and has found coupons online for a $100 discount on a 5-pen pack.  Although we still pay over $300 for that med, the $100 discount helps.

Last week I needed to refill my statin and found that Meijer offers a FREE 90 day supply.  I asked when this offer expires and the pharmacy tech told me it has no end date.  Guess I’ll be going to Meijer from now on for that!  Free is good!

All in all, we’re pretty pleased with the “HerbnKathy” medical plan.  So far this year (Jan-Sept) we’ve spent;

Kathy and I both had need for chiropractic when we were in AZ which made up about $700 of the $1567, and we won’t be needing that any longer.

The other large cost is the $1200 for medicine.  We use generics wherever we can, but Kathy’s diabetes pen is brand name, not generic hence the high cost for meds.

Still I feel comfortable with the $800 average monthly costs.  Hopefully we can stay generally healthy, at least until Medicare kicks in at 65, (two more years down the road).

I know there’s a lot of different ways to get the health care we need and this is just the way we do it.  It’s not the least expensive, it’s not perfect, and there’s always the “what if”, but if we lived our lives around the “what ifs” then we’d live a pretty sheltered life … not the one we choose to live.

I hope you found some value in this discussion that will help you as you weigh your health care options in your full time RV life.

Safe travels, good luck, and by all means …. have fun!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Old Home Week in S.E. Michigan

We left our “old” home in Mount Gilead, OH on May 1st and headed north to Wixom, MI area where we stayed at Proud Lake Recreation Area State Park for the week.  Our intent was to relax and enjoy the spring weather and see some long-time friends while we were there.  I wrote this earlier post with some pictures of the park.  It was COLD and RAINY nearly all week, but we had a great time nonetheless because we were able to hook up with friends from WAY BACK.

Sandy is the first little girl in the bottom row, I’m the kid in the top row, 3rd from the right, striped long sleeve shirt

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We had wonderful visits with old friends.  Some of these folks we haven’t seen in 30 or 40+ years.  Thanks to Facebook, we’ve been able to reconnect to lost friendships.  It’s so easy as we get busy with our; jobs/kids/school/sports/hobbies/parents/ etc.  to lose touch with those we once considered “very good” if not “best” friends.

We left Proud Lake on Sunday May 7th and had two more visits on our agenda as we continued our travel north to Baldwin, MI for our summer workamping job.

Trip Map From Proud Lake Rec Area to Delton, Spring Lake, Baldwin, MI

Who’s in Delton you ask?  Thanks to Facebook, I was able to find George Williston.  I hadn’t seen or even talked to George since 1960 when my family moved from Detroit out to Redford Township.  I had attended Kindergarten and first grade in Detroit, where I met George.  I lived with my folks and two older sisters on Monte Vista and George lived with his family on Pinehurst, next street over on the other side of the alley.  George and I used the alley as the shortcut from his house to mine.

13116 Monte Vista, Detroit
The home I grew up in from 1954 to 1960 – Now just a shell

It’s a shame to see what the house and the neighborhood have become.  I have some great memories of that home, our neighbors (the McGraw family) where there’s now just an empty lot, and my time playing (and causing a little trouble I’m sure) with my best friend George Williston.

Kathy and I met George and his wonderful wife Kelly where we enjoyed a light lunch in their beautiful home nestled in the woods.  In addition to having been a Wood Shop Industrial Arts teacher, George is also an accomplished writer.   You can order his book “This Tribe of Mine” on Amazon.

After our lunch and a nice walk around the property, we said goodbye to George and Kelly and headed further west and north to Spring Lake, Michigan where we met up with Brian Barker and his wife Connie.  Kathy and I went to Junior High and High School with Brian and we had a lot of great memories to talk about.  I had seen Brian and Connie when they lived in the Cincinnati area back a while but it’s been at least 20 years.  Kathy had never met Connie and hadn’t seen Brian in at least 35 years.

Herb, Kathy, Brian, and Connie

Brian and Connie live in a beautiful home just across from Spring Lake.  Great view and it’s easy to carry their kayaks over for an afternoon cruise.

Again, it was great to spend time with old friends and catch up on some mutual memories.

My next post will be an introduction to Baldwin, MI and Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort.

That’s all for now.  Stay happy.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Familiar Faces in New Places

It’s been a wonderful two weeks since we left our (new) good friends at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ.

After spending 6 months there living and working side by side with these folks, they became more than just “other RV’ers” and we’ll certainly miss them and look forward to when we are out in AZ again and can renew those friendships.

But, it was time to head east (and north) so we can see friends and family in Ohio and then on to Michigan for our summer workamping gig.

The trip so far has been uneventful (with regard to problems) and that’s a good thing.  The coach has performed flawlessly and we are hoping that we have now addressed all the issues there and that we’ll have smooth sailing for the foreseeable future.  We know that something will happen eventually, but treating her kindly (gentle driving and regular scheduled maintenance) will hopefully serve us well as we continue this new journey in our lives.

By “Uneventful” I meant that the parks we stopped at along the way were, for the most part very nice parks, the roads were smooth, there were no traffic jams.

We stayed 3 nights at the Escapees “Rainbow Plantation” in Summerdale, AL and one of those nights we decided to take advantage of their invite to dinner.  There were 140 of us in the clubhouse for lasagna dinner that night and one of the name tags caught my eye.

The name “Don Phelps” sounded familiar and so during dinner I studied his face trying to figure out if I knew this man.

After dinner I was nearly 100% sure this was “the guy” and so I approached him, asked if he used to live in Michigan, and if he

Don (from Xerox) and Elaine Phelps at the table next to us.

had served as a Field Service Manager at Xerox in the Detroit area.  Yes, this was the guy I had worked with at Xerox when I was there in the ’70’s !

After visiting the historic railroad museum in Foley, AL the next day and driving down to the beach in Gulf Shores, AL to see the ocean we then packed up and moved on east to Pensacola, FL where we took in the National Naval Museum and what a treat that was.  Not only did we get a free guided tour, but the Blue Angels had just returned to the base and we got to see them in action during their practice flights – super impressive!

After the museum, we drove a little further east and checked in at Eagle’s Landing RV Park at Holt, FL just a little west of Crestview.  That night we met my sister Marilynn and brother-in-law Rick at a nearby Cracker Barrel for dinner.  They live in Jacksonville and were traveling from

Herb, Marilynn, Rick, and Kathy

home to Pensacola for a Florida Dental Association mission work trip and so we were able to hook up along the way.

We stayed another night at Eagle’s Landing and spent most of the day Thursday with Dave and Robyn who live at Crestview, FL.  Dave and I have been friends since about 4th or 5th grade.  He lived a few blocks north of me in Redford Township, MI and once we were old enough to ride our bikes off our block, we met and have been life-long friends since.

Dave and Robyn

Dave and Robyn took us on down to Destin, FL where we boarded an excursion boat and went through the harbor and out to the gulf where we spotted dozens of bottle-nose dolphins.  Then enjoyed each other’s company some more at a great local seafood restaurant.

Here’s a few pictures of the harbor and our search for dolphins.

Friday we left Eagles Landing and drove to Jacksonville, FL where we checked into Fleetwood RV Park, spent a quiet night and then Ed & Sandy drove up from Orlando on Saturday and the four of us spent the day together at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Ed and I met in 1962 when our family moved in across the street from Ed in Redford Township (a suburb of Detroit).  We still talk almost weekly.

By the way, all three of us are ham radio operators.  We all took the same class back in the late 60’s and our original call signs issued by the FCC were WB8BHK, WB8BHL, and WB8BHY.

The Jacksonville Zoo is beautiful .. they have a lot of boardwalks that are suspended above the animal pens so you can really see a lot.   Here’s a video playlist of some of the zoo and then there’s a slideshow of more of the animals.

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After seeing everyone in FL, we headed up I-95 through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and now we’re in Tennessee at the Escapee’s Raccoon Valley RV Park.

We’ll probably stay here a couple days, work our way up into Kentucky for Thursday nights stay, and then back in Mount Gilead on Friday.

It’s been a long trip (I’ll tell you how many miles when we’re done), but it’s been a great adventure, we’ve met a lot of wonderful people, and we’re excited about what’s to come.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Goodbye Arizona

This morning we’ll be heading out, leaving all our new-found friends at Rancho Verde RV Park at Camp Verde, AZ.

This park was our first workamping experience and we came here full of excitement but also a little anxiety not really knowing what to expect.

We’ve been blessed.  We were very quickly accepted as part of the “family” here at the park.  The owners and managers have been wonderful to work for and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone here.

Some are full-time residents, while we’ve had a fair amount of those that come and go every few days.  We’ve tried to make a point of meeting as many as we can because in life, it’s the people that make the difference.

So now it’s on to Florida to visit friends and family, then back up to Ohio by the 1st of April where we’ll spend a few weeks with the kids and grandkids, and then up to Michigan in May where we’ll be workamping for the summer near Ludington.

I’ll try to post more as we travel east and north, but it’s often more difficult because of some limited wifi and less time to sit at the keyboard – more driving and sightseeing stops.

 

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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