Wow, it’s over already? That was a fast year! They say that as we get older time goes faster, and I think that must be true. So what was 2016 like for us?
We started the year in Tucson, Arizona, where I was getting follow-up treatment at the VA hospital for a medical issue that had found me hospitalized in Temecula, California a few weeks previously. We were on pins and needles waiting for the results of an MRI and other tests, and once I got a clear report we were more than ready to hit the road. But before we could do that, we had to wait for a winter storm system to pass through, and it seemed to hang on for days.
Eventually the weather cleared up and we made it out of Tucson and made a quick run to the Escapees Lone Star Corral in Hondo, Texas. We spent a couple of days there while we visited with my author friend Billy Kring, who lives in nearby Sabinal. We had a good time visiting and sharing a meal with Billy and his pretty wife, Elizabeth.
Our next stop was the Colorado River Thousand Trails preserve in Columbus, Texas, where we spent a couple of days hanging out with our dear friends Greg and Jan White. This is one of our favorite parks in the Thousand Trails system and we would have liked to stay longer, but we were eager to get further east. So before long we were back on the road again.
After a quick overnight stop at Poche’s RV Park in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana and another at Benchmark Coach & RV Park in Meridian, Mississippi, we ended up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where we spent a week hanging out with my son Travis and his wife, Geli. It’s always nice to have time with them and we really enjoyed our stay in spite of the bad weather that we seemed to have brought with us from Arizona.
From Tuscaloosa, we went south on two lane roads to Summerdale and spent a week at the Escapees Rainbow Plantation co-op, another of our favorite RV parks.
We had made the decision to switch our legal domicile from South Dakota to Florida, and when we left Summerdale we went to the Escapees Sumter Oaks RV park in Bushnell, Florida. While we were there we changed our domicile to Florida, using the Escapees Mail Service as our mailing address. The campground was busy and we saw a lot of friends there, spent some time hanging out with our pal Al Hesselbart, caught a few of the jam sessions at the park, and then it was time to hit the road again.
But it was a quick trip, just 45 miles or so to yet another of our favorite places, the Orlando Thousand Trails preserve in Clermont. We spent a couple weeks there, then went down to Bradenton and spent a month at Horseshoe Cove RV Resort. It was a busy month and our friends John and Kathy Huggins from Living The RV Dream and Charles and Chris Yust from C&C Insurance were also there. And then, Jim and Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour stopped in for a couple of days on their way to somewhere else. We also ventured across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge a few times for some more medical checkups at the Bay Pines VA Hospital, and a family reunion with my late brother Jack’s sons and daughter.
After over 17 years of fulltiming we were starting to feel the need for a home base and future retirement home if we ever decided to hang up the keys. My health scare intensified that need for me, and we spent a lot of time looking around Florida for just the perfect place. While spending a week in Port Orange, we discovered the charming community of New Smyrna Beach and were hooked. We knew that if we did find a place to purchase, it was going to be in that area.
June 1 found us camped at the Elks Lodge in St. Augustine, but just for one night. We had planned to spend a week there, but it had turned terribly hot, so we shook the Jello that all fulltime RVers’ schedules are written in, and instead went back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to surprise my son for his birthday. We spent a week there, where it was just as hot, and then hit the road again, headed for Elkhart, Indiana.
We have been going to Elkhart Campground ever since our first year on the road, and owners Bob and Gita Patel treat us like family. It was nice to spend a couple of months there. We were scheduled to attend the Escapees Escapade rally in Vermont but I still needed to get some follow-up medical stuff and wanted to be in one location long enough to get everything taken care of, so we reluctantly canceled Escapade to get that out of the way.
Sitting still for all that time also allowed me to crank out a couple more books, and for Terry to get some weaving done. We also had some family time, going up to Muskegon, Michigan for a week’s stay at Fisherman’s Landing, a city-owned marina and campground, while we visited with my cousin Berni Frees and her husband Rocky. They are two of our favorite people in the world and we always have a good time when we’re together with them. Rocky is a volunteer at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, crewing on the tall ship Friends Good Will. He arranged for us to take an afternoon voyage, which was a real treat for us.
While we were in Florida, we had looked at a home in Edgewater, about 7 miles south of New Smyrna Beach, that we really liked, and in September we made an offer on it and it was accepted. So we returned to Florida to close the deal, then had to evacuate to the Florida Panhandle for a few days while Hurricane Matthew made its way up the coast. There was considerable damage to our area, but fortunately, not to our house.
The house is about 1400 square and also has an 1100 square foot garage, which is about three times the size of our Winnebago motorhome. One of the house’s rooms is about as large as our motorhome, and it has become Terry’s loom room.
The little manufactured home community we are in has its own private 300 foot fishing pier and boat launch on the Indian River, which is part of the Intercoastal Waterway. It’s nice to be able to go down and fish, dip shrimp, or just watch the dolphins and manatees playing in the water. To paraphrase an old Jimmy Buffett song, we have found us a home.
So here we are, all settled in and getting used to flushing toilets with a handle instead of a foot pedal. I know some people are speculating that this is the end of our RVing days, but it’s not. The last few years we spent anywhere between four and five months a year in Florida, moving from campground to campground. Now we’ll spend five or six months here, give or take, and when it starts to get too hot we will hit the road. Life is about change, so we might as well embrace it.
I hope 2017 holds a lot of fun, joy, and love for all of you. And somewhere along the way, I hope we see you in our travels.
Have you entered our latest Free Drawing yet? This week’s prize is an audiobook of my friend Ken Rossignol’s Pirate Trials: Famous Murderous Pirates Book Series: THE LIVES AND ADVENTURES of FAMOUS and SUNDRY PIRATES. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – Everything you want is on the other side of fear.