On the Road Again –  North to Maine (Maybe?)

On the Road Again – North to Maine (Maybe?)

One of the questions we get the most often is “What is the place you like the best?” And the answer is “all of them”.

Easter Sunrise Service

Every single place we have been to had something about it. (Well except for cities – we really are not fond of cities!)  What makes these places so great is the ability to leave them. Islamorada in the Florida Keys is a magical place. Our RV spot was on nice thick green grass, surrounded by palm trees, a banana tree on one side, the ocean and a beach area on the water 200 feet away. Temperatures range from 60 – 90 with warm, balmy breezes almost all the time. It was almost perfect.

But then we started thinking about mountains, and cooler weather, and green trees… and decided it was time to move on.  Now we are excited to be on the road, seeing more great places with another awesome place to compare. How cool is that?

Isn’t everything relevant? If you can’t compare where you are to somewhere else –  would it not become just ‘normal’?  Maybe this is why we travel so much. Every place is new. Every place is different with new sites, sounds, weather, people and things to do.

Today we are in western North Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just east of Asheville and it is glorious. And different.

Shelly’s Mom is nice enough to put up with us while we have the fifth wheel in for some needed repairs to slide-outs and waste valves covered by an extended warranty so I don’t have to do it! The truck transmission is getting a new, deeper pan and a going over and the rear brakes on the truck gets new pads before we head up through the mountains towards Maine.

The very rough plan is to slowly make our way through the Blue Ridge up into Tennessee, on into West Virginia, Virginia, western PA, western New York and then on up to New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Looking at a map it looks like it might be cool to check out the Canadian Maritimes, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  All new to us. We have no deadlines and no commitments from here on out so we are free to make whatever stops, turns or changes present themselves!

We have less room than before on the RV with the addition of a 1 year old American Chocolate Lab Shelly is training to service. Her goal is to train Daisy to be a scent dog of some kind – peanuts, bed bugs, who knows?  Daisy is cute but she sure is a handful of energy!

There has only been a small travelling break since last July. We worked in Grove, Oklahoma, then renovated and sold the boat in Texas for ExceptionalWarriors.org, on to Ft Pierce, Fl to rebuild the 58 Hatteras, and finally four months in Islamorada renovating a 52′ Bluewater yacht from hurricane damage.

Although it helps to build the cruising kitty, there is a cost. I seemed to have had a run of accidents in the last year or so – starting with a knee issue from teaching snow skiing in New Mexico, to blowing myself out of a dingy with a gas explosion and a skilsaw accident in Islamorada. We both could use a rest period.  We don’t heal as fast as we used to!

While in Islamorada, Shelly got the opportunity to swim with dolphins in Theater By The Sea. This park was right next to where we were staying (we walked or bicycled around it at least twice day!) and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things she has been able to do. It was very interesting spending time with the sea lion trainers and comparing training notes!

As May turns into June and temperatures in western North Carolina climb into the mid 90’s, we find ourselves waiting for parts for the RV over a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. As we remember those whose died fighting, and those families left behind, we are even more grateful for what we have.

Today the RV is in the shop being repaired. We hope to be on the road to Tennessee later today and on our way again. In the meantime, we took the opportunity to wash, compound and wax all 35 feet of the RV. It looks nice but the arms sure feel it!

Goodbye beaches and hello cooler weather and mountain hiking!

 

 

 

 

Islamorada – Wintering in the Florida Keys

Islamorada – Wintering in the Florida Keys

Just a quick update! Life is very challenging here in the Florida Keys in the winter.

It is kinda hot so we have to run the AC more than we would like. The banana bush outside our window has way more bananas than we can eat. The fresh shrimp, mahi mahi and smoked wahoo prices are getting a little high. And there are way too many snowbirds!

But we would still rather be here! 😉

I’m sure you understand?

Here is a short video to let you see where we are staying. Looks like we might be here through April or so – then the idea is to make our way up to Maine to check out the lobster. Sounds like a good idea to us!

 

Texas to Florida – Loving Warm Weather

Texas to Florida – Loving Warm Weather

 

One of the main reasons we write these updates is the enjoyment from looking back and appreciating where we have been. It sort of solidifies the experiences. It is too easy to just keep on moving and put the past in the past!

Check out this google maps history of places we have used in maps in the last two years. That is so many miles and so many experiences!

For some reason, (maybe we did not use maps as much) but it really does not show our travels well from Florida back up into NW Oklahoma, back down through Galveston Bay and across to Florida again.

And that is where we pick up the story.

Last post we were heading east out of Texas towards south Florida again. Because it took longer to remodel and sell the boat I was working on in Texas, we had a deadline at Thanksgiving to meet. In New Orleans, a couple of hours was quite enough and it was nice to get some seafood and take it home to eat!

The damage remaining from Hurricane Michael to be seen just by driving across I-10 was unbelievable. They still had not cleaned up the trees down on sides of the interstate over a year later.

One of the best parts of traveling is the places we get to stay. Often we are only one of three or four RVs in the whole park!  In and set up by 130 or 2, go round up some firewood for the evening camp/cook fire, and sit back to watch the sky do it’s sunset and night star dance! Here is a slideshow of some of our favorites!

Thanksgiving was spent at Ian’s house in Valdosta Ga, where much fun was had by all with their virtual reality toys. Shelly really got into the music game. It is truly amazing how far gaming has come since the day of Pong! I hope this video can play for you. This is the first time I have tried inserting a video like this. What you see on the screen, Shelly is immersed in inside the virtual reality headset. It is awesome!

 

 

We pointed the RV south to Stuart Fl and back to the Hatteras motor yacht we had worked on in the Spring with a goal to get it in the water and moved to a marina. All went fairly well and we were able to get the bottom epoxied and painted, and in the water in just a couple of weeks.

Then Shelly flew off to Seattle for a conference with her work with Atlas Service Dogs while the owner, Goose and I worked on the engines and generator enough to take a nice day trip up the Intercoastal Waterway to Ft Pierce Fl.

It had been over 25 years since running a 60 ft yacht but it was like riding a bicycle!

Our rv spot in Ft Pierce was in the same place as the marina, right on a little causeway a mile from the beach. Awesome! That first week we started some projects and made sure the boat was happy being in the water and then hooked up and headed north for Christmas in North Carolina.

Three days (and three state parks) later we pulled up into the mother-in-law’s drive in-between rains. I came very close to getting very stuck in the grassy yard and spent much time trying to rake and shovel in the deep ruts. Then it started raining again!

On the way out of town, I had a VA appointment in Asheville, so we left a bit early to miss the next huge rain and spent the night down on the Broad River. When we arrived that afternoon, the river was 3 feet below the banks. It started raining – again. In the morning the river was coming up under the RV! We decided it might be time to hook and and leave!  You can see the water coming up behind our wheels. Scary.

I felt for all those permanent RV dwellers who seemed oblivious that the river was rising that fast – and if fact there was a video later in the day of a 5th wheel RV like ours floating down the Broad River!

Ft Pierce welcomed up back with sunny warm weather and lots of work to do. We got to a point in mid January where the boat was up for sale, and had been seen several times and it just did not seem financially feasible to put much more time and money into her. What to do next? Too cold to head north!

So – as seems to often happen – we got an invitation to head down to Islamorada in the Keys where there was another yacht needing some work and an open RV space for us to stay. Here we are back in the keys again! We even drove to Marathon and played softball for old times sake!

It looks like we will be here for at least a few months. But thoughts are already turning to Maine for the summer!

And finally we wanted to share this really cool drive through these tress on the way to the beach in Hobe Sound Fl!

Being Grateful

Being Grateful

A salt and pepper shaker combo on our table started a conversation you might find interesting.

Shelly and I have found that gratitude is amazing experience. Being grateful for everything you have creates more to be grateful for!

Our conversation turned to the people who have made such a difference to us, and have played their very crucial role to allow us to live a life we are so very blessed to enjoy. 

(As we are in Islamorada in the Florida Keys camped next to a banana tree on the ocean side watching the sun set in a balmy 71 degrees!)

One of the people who came to mind was Michael Moore in Atlanta. Without Michael, we might not have been able to financially finish building High Country Stables. Michael was so supportive and helpful in several endeavors during our time in Atlanta, as well as being almost an uncle to the boys as they became Eagle Scouts and young men. Thanks Michael!

Rick and Mary Grubb also played instrumental parts in our lives in Atlanta. Without Rick there might not have been a farm at all. He supplied all the slate and literally tons of chicken manure fertilizer to help make our rings, roads, stables, and pastures a reality. And he was a great friend. Thanks Rick and Mary! (And we sure hope you are spending time in HHI!)

David Bates has become a friend while helping us along our rv travels. We are praying for the best outcome with his health challenges. David introduced us to his brother Paul here in the Keys and we are super grateful for both of these wonderful people.

Tim and Liz Tate out in Red River New Mexico took us in and made us feel very welcome and wanted for our winter out there. We surely hope to see them soon.

David White came into our lives and has helped us in ways hard to understand. (But Dave does!)

And those shakers are the coolest thing. When we were sailing, salt always soaked up the salt air and required lots of rice to stay fresh. Our good friend Dr Angel Tribuno gifted us these cool shakers that have collapsible lids to keep moisture out. She was also there for us our whole time in Atlanta as our Chiropractor and medical guru as we were rising two boys. Friends like Angel are very hard to come by.

There are so many more like Wade and Nickie, Joe and Sue and so many more.  Including of course our boys who have made our life so fulfilling.

We are so very grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you!

And that is our update for today. Be grateful. It opens gates you would never believe possible.

We are working on our next travel update. Yes we are still traveling! 

Texas to Georgia – The Gulf Coast

Texas to Georgia – The Gulf Coast

We are done with the boat in Seabrook Texas and back to the grind!  😉

Up with the sunlight – 530 or 6. Tea or coffee depending on your lifetime habits. Give the dog a cookie. Browse the crap on the internet and get angry wishing you could get even. Drink one of Shelly’s awesome breakfast shakes (and a piece of toast if she has made bread lately! – yum!)

One of us takes the dog for a run (or walk or bike depending on the knee that day) while the other does yoga. (I love to watch her do yoga!)

Then pack up.  She is inside and I am outside. Trinkets down, clean up, cabinets latched, slides in. Outside the awning gets rolled up, chairs put away, truck backed up and hitched, electric, sewer and water lines off and stowed.

Get Goose into the truck and away we go!  A couple or three hours and find a state or national park that hopefully has some surprises like great trails or something historical.

It’s routine now. Just the way we live!

First day back on the road after an extended stay is always a treat. Three weeks in Seabrook getting the 37 foot donated boat running and sold seemed a long time, but really in the scheme of things? Probably not.

We did get the boat running fairly well and we did get her sold. Not for a lot – but enough to allow The FEW to help more warriors.  I know a lot more about 454 GM engines than before!

We did not get far the first day. After the morning of helping new owners of the boat with a little familiarity session, we drove about 30 miles north for a Chick Fil A lunch with Maureen and daughter Marley before rounding Galveston Bay to the north and east through Port Arthur to Sea Rim State Park.  They did not have an RV spot but we could stay on the beach for $10. OK!

Here is the wild part. If you have been with us you might remember a few years back where we almost lost Goose to wild pigs on an island off the Georgia coast?  Great reading story here if I say so myself.    Made myself cry all over again re-reading it.

Well, here we are on this beach all by ourselves and guess what comes out of the seagrass to say hello to Goose? Yep – a wild pig bigger than he was! He barked but decided he wanted nothing to do with that pig!  You have to wonder if (and what) he remembers. We certainly remember!

From Sea Rim, we wandered back roads through coastal Texas seeing old hurricane damage, very small villages still making a living from the sea, and every now and then a helicopter area providing oil rig deliveries with people and supplies.

As we passed the ports like Port Arthur, New Orleans and Mobile, the tankers, ships and tugs were everywhere. We also see this in the RV parks as many of the employees for these companies live with their families in RV’s like ours. Except they are more like mobile homes that never move. (And often a little bit trashy!)

Can you see in the mirror? I am passing a huge oil tanker in the right lane!

We did get a few hours in New Orleans and the French Quarter (which was plenty). It was different – loud, dirty, smelly, crowded (even in off season) – but still interesting. Good to visit but…

So we make our way towards Valdosta Ga and Thanksgiving with the boys.  It is an event to look forward to! Then on to Florida and the Hatteras again.

Then what? We don’t know! But I’ll tell you when we find out!    😉

 

 

 

 

Boats, Beaches, and Backing Up to Hook Up

Boats, Beaches, and Backing Up to Hook Up

On the wunderground weather site I can see the saved weather for the last couple of places we have “lived”. It is 18 in Red River, NM, 39 in Grove, Ok, 79 in Stuart, Fl and 78 here in Seabrook, TX.  I like 78!

I wonder how two weeks in one place can seem so long? We like it here for the most part. Texans are nice people, the area is a lot like the gulf shores of Fl, (except fairly crowded!), and we have enjoyed visiting Galveston Beach, and the Kemah boardwalk. But – it is just too many people for us.

Prices for RV spots are ridiculous with the Texas economy booming as it seems many oil workers live in their RVs and travel around to hot spots. RV spots in a crowded park are $50/day and $300 a week! Ouch!

We came here for The Foundation for Exceptional Warriors to get a 37 ft Silverton Yachtfish boat running and sold that had been donated by a Vietnam veteran to help the nonprofit. It took about a week to get Duchess engines going and another week to fix systems, wiring etc. We sea trialed yesterday and put the boat on the market at almost half the NADA value ($14,950) for a quick sale. She is a nice boat! (If you know anyone who wants a super deal on a boat check out the videos here.)

From here we head north and east along the gulf towards our boys in Georgia to spend Thanksgiving in Valdosta. Then it will be back to Stuart, Fl to put that 58′ Hatteras we worked on last spring in the water and maybe get it sold as well.

Our trip south to here from Grove was very enjoyable. We stayed in Oklahoma and Texas state parks each night and can tell you they have some amazingly beautiful properties!

 

Daddy Buck - Oklahoma
White Pelicans - Oklahoma
Creepy Visitor
Marshmallows!
Daddy Buck 2
Abandoned State Park Airstrip
Oklahoma Sunrise

We did not know that in Oklahoma the pelicans are white and do not dive into the water but swim and lunge at their food! That same park was like an animal sanctuary with egrets, Blue Herons, hawks, seagulls, and more. Then, just at dusk a doe and her young fawn came out of the woods followed closely by a proud dad who was watching very closely and herding the young guy exactly where he wanted him to go. There was no doubt the doe was in charge though! With the sunset and the sunrise, and having the whole place virtually to ourselves, this day was one of THE best ever in a campground.

At one site Shelly found a creepy new pet right outside our door while setting up and watched carefully all that evening for the little guy to come take our marshmallows!

 Houston and Galveston Bay are two places we have heard about but this is our first time here. It is kind of strange  as you are driving along surrounded by miles of gas and oil pipelines and refineries and concrete then almost immediately  the scenery is thousands of boats, harbors and tourist restaurants and clubs!

Shelly had some old friends drop by for lunch. Maureen and Marley who both took riding lessons for years at High Country Stables drove down from where they live in Texas. A good time was had by all!

It has been a long time since Goose was all excited about getting into a dinghy and going for a ride! (It used to be the only time he got off the boat!) He was a bit hesitant but quickly settled into his old spot.

 

 

Last week we bicycled down to the Kemah boardwalk to pass out The FEW brochures and wristbands at the Military and First Responder Appreciation Weekend.  After stopping for liquid refreshment, and a walk around the boardwalk, we had an enjoyable ride back at dusk to a restaurant for a high priced, way too much food supper and home.

We both agree as usual.

Time to back the truck up and hook to the RV and get down the road! We’ll see you there!