Friday, July 30, 2010

The Past 5 Days (Pisgah Forest, NC)

We completed our 3 days of "work" i.e. volunteering at the Cradle.  The truth is our work is pretty uneventful.  It's quite pleasant, slow paced and oh so easy.  Our tasks are very simple and often the only real challenge is keeping it interesting.  Consequently, I will resist any great impulse to bore you too greatly with the details of "work."  Having said all that, we're still very glad that we're here.  We enjoy our coworkers and we really enjoy the area!

Monday evening, after work, Debbie and I drove to Asheville to pick up Debbie's new camera at Best Buy.  The best deal was order it on line on sale and pick it up at the store.  So we did.  Tuesday evening we joined our new friends Mike and Debbie and cruised down the mountain.  We hit Bilo, Lowes and ate at Hog Wild.  I enjoyed the ribs there and throughout the night.  Wednesday evening we stayed home.

Yesterday we spent the early part of the day cleaning the camper and then we went hiking.  We headed out to DuPont State Forest, about 20 miles away.  We hiked to two different waterfalls.

High Falls - DuPont State Forest

Triple Falls - DuPont State Forest

Here we are at the top of Triple Falls.  

They both were magnificent.  It's pretty impressive that, with very little effort, we can get to such great locations.  Down another trail we came to a  world class covered bridge.

The brochure of the area indicates there are 90+ trails.  We'll go back soon.  
We stopped at Domino's on the way home and had dinner at about 10pm that included pizza and MandM's.  TOO GOOD! (Debbie skipped the MandM's.)
Today was another great day of hiking!  We started with  a short hike at the Devils Courthouse off the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).

It's only 1.6 mile round trip but it climbs 1400 feet in .8 of a mile.  The view at the top is spectacular!  

Top of Devil's Courthouse.  We hiked from the road below you see in the picture.
Duane at the top

From there we traveled a few miles north on the BRP to the Graveyard Fields. 
There we hiked about four miles to two different waterfalls.  They both were nice but neither was spectacular.  However, often it's the journey that is most important.  The Graveyard Fields is in a 25,000 acre valley.  The valley is ripe (pun time) with blackberries and blueberries.  Lots of folks were picking blackberries.  We ate some as we hiked.  The blueberries will be ripe at the end of August. 

The only down side of the day was that Debbie tripped and fell like a tree.  She skinned her knees, sprained one wrist and came so close to eating the trail that she scraped her chin as well.  It was a tense moment but soon we composed and concluded that she wasn't badly hurt.  Debbie's first concern, amidst her few tears, was if she damaged her new camera.  It appears she did not.

My description of our hikes the past few days wouldn't be complete without mentioning the many beautiful wildflowers we have been fortunate enough to see. We haven't done any studying of mountain wildflowers yet, but I'm sure it's in the future. For now we just describe them as "pretty". Thought you might like to see some.


We got home about 5pm. Debbie showered, got her jammies on and had a drink.  She'll likely be sore tomorrow but, as always, it could have been much worse.
The hummingbirds are still with us.

Talk to you soon.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend Fun (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Saturday morning began at 8:30 when we joined our new friends Debbie and  Mike for a trip down the mountain to Brevard for breakfast.  We ate at a local joint named Julie's.  Nothing fancy (just our style) and great food with a great price.  After that we went to a local farmer's market.  It's the kind that sets up every Saturday morning across the country with local produce, baked goods and a few crafts.  We bought fresh tomatoes, green beans and local apples.  We then went to a small town bakery and bought a fresh, large baguette.  We then headed home.  Debbie and I spent the afternoon goofing off.  I finished off most of the daylight with a robust, one hour walk with me and the boys.  We had tomato sandwiches for dinner, viewed the tube and had a great sleep.
Sunday was destined to be a productive day.  We had decided to accomplish a more substantial hike.  Thus far any reference to hiking really meant a glorified stroll.  Today we broke sweat.  It was warm.  We left the house at 10:30am and returned at 3pm.  In between we covered, I'd guess, 5-6 miles most of it up and down.  Some of the grades were quite steep.  We were on 4 different trails ranging from easy to difficult.  We had a lot of company - GNATS!  The in your eyes, up your nose, buzzing in your ears gnats.  They came and went a bit and eventually departed. They were far more attracted to Debbie.  She's sweeter.  Guess what we'll carry next time.  But even with the unpleasant companions the hike was great.  Often we were on the ridge of the mountain and the view was quite large. But more consistently then the view was the ever present woods.  Plus wildflowers!  Periodically we'd come upon clusters of yellow or purple or red or daisy like flowers.  It just struck me as a festive splash of color.  Very nice!

In addition to the flowers we had great mushrooms.  Or were they toadstools?  We don't know the difference but I'm confident that Debbie will research the subject.  None the less, they were cool.  Worthy of pictures.

And what are mountains without mountain streams.  Residential folks are often striving to create water features at their homes to resemble those streams we see in the mountains.  Rarely do we succeed.  Mountain streams have character.  They carve their way along the path of least resistance, polishing their stones for our enjoyment.  The streams we saw today were small.  I did tell Debbie that I felt a fair description of the streams would include the word "precious." 

The hike was a bit challenging for Debbie so early in our hiking career but she hung tough! She was not pleased with the gnats.  She may be able to walk tomorrow.

I chilled the rest of the afternoon.  Debbie prepared a great meal including a seasoned pork loin, fresh green beans and some form of wild rice.  We then had ice cream sandwiches.  Again I say Deelish!!  I cleaned up the kitchen.
We work the next 3 days.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Confession and a Little More (Pisgah Forest, NC)

My daughter, Aubree Elizabeth, was recently applauding my blogging skills.  She said, "Daddy, you're even posting pictures."  Everyone who really knows me knows that mostly I'm a computer idiot.  So please understand that our blog is very much a mutual effort. I compose the narrative content.  I''m the talker in our family so blogging is just an extension of me talking.  Debbie then reads it and I resist most of her input.  Beyond that Debbie does EVERYTHING else related to our blog.   She's created all of the format, posts the pictures and tells me/shows me how to get on whenever I have problems which is frequently.  So there you have it, I'm busted.

As I sit here with y'all, there are Hummingbirds 20 inches away outside our window on the Hummingbird feeder.  Too cool!

Debbie was back in the Cafe today.  Our team was short handed today and one consequence was that Debbie had to work the cafe solo.  Normally the Cafe is manned by 2 or 3 people.  Solo included no lunch and no breaks.  The Cafe is not consistently busy so there are plenty of opportunities to be idle. Not surprisingly though, Debbie managed the responsibility stoically but it was still a bum deal. I was at the helicopter.  The helicopter was real but it's been chopped to serve as sort of a helicopter simulator ride.  It's as if you're in a helicopter to fight a forest fire. The "ride" is a bit tame but generally well received especially by the young children.  My job was to say "Hi" and push a button to start the ride. I also operated a remote to show a historical movie about the origin of the Cradle.  Frankly, the day was too slow for my liking but I recognize that I must take the good with the bad.  The fact is there is nothing bad about what we're doing.  I was saying to Debbie recently that certainly there may be a blemish or two here but what experience is perfect.  We remain focused on the big picture which is the full timing lifestyle.
Duane performing helicopter duties
I completed my evening with a repeat of the hike we did yesterday.  Only today it was just me and the boys.  We did the 90 minute hike in about 60 minutes.  More walk, less talk.  Debbie and I will go to bed early tonight, we're tired.
The hummingbirds are still with us!



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leisure Time & Much More (Pisgah Forest, NC)

We went back to work today after enjoying our first 3 day break.  As stated in my previous entry, Monday was pretty low key and most enjoyable.  Tuesday we hooked up the buck board and went to Hendersonville, NC.  It's about 18 miles away.  We did a little banking, picked up a couple things at the auto parts store and then the fun really began.  We hit Sam's, Walmart and Lowes in rapid succession.  Does it get any better?  We bought lots of food, 2 wireless mouses (mice?), 2 big bags of charcoal (gotta grill!), flowers and bird feeders.  Flowers and bird feeders you ask?  I guess you could say that full timers traditionally decorate/landscape their site if they're going to be in one place for an extended stay.  We brought with us a nice Sheppard hook plus the site has a steel pole with 2 hooks.  We hung a basket of purple Petunias on one hook and another basket of red Petunias on the other hook.  Nice contrast.  At the base of the hook pole we placed a pot with a  peach colored Hibiscus.  Very tasteful.  We're going to add another Hibiscus to balance the presentation.

Our Site

We stuck a flat sided Hummingbird feeder on the window adjacent to our dining table and hung a squirrel proof  (hopefully) bird feeder on our Sheppard's pole.  Pop are you listening?  The area is swarming with American Goldfinches and Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (I checked the Peterson Field Guide).  Now this is no exaggeration.  Within minutes we had swarms of both species.  I was sitting outside reading and the Hummingbirds were nearly hazardous!

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Not sure what kind of hummingbird this is (Pop, can you help?) 

In addition to the second Hibiscus, we're going to add another Hummingbird birdfeeder as well as another Sheppard's hook to hang the wind chime we brought from the old homested.  The backdrop of our "garden" is an endless forested area and the MOUNTAINS. Very nice!

View from our site
We began Wednesday with a great trek.  Nothing monumental, just a nice start to our hiking.  The outing was a comfortable 3+ hour stroll on one of the many trails in the area.  The" boys" (dogs) were with us.  I carried Bo a few times when his tail got to dragging.  They both were pooped (love the pun) when we got home and they slept away the afternoon.
Duane and the "boys"
Pretty flowers on our hike
 (note Debbie's shirt - she kept a few for sentimental reasons) 

More flowers on our hike
That evening Debbie prepared a very nice meal complete with Tilapia, corn and baked potato.  Deelish!  I washed the meal down with a FEW Sam's cookies!  Life is too good.
Today's assignment for both Debbie and I was the Cafe.  It's one of the few occasions that we'll actually work the same position.  We do work the same schedule, days off etc, but the Cafe is the only location where two volunteers are positioned.  We had a great time.  I tried to get Debbie to make out with me back in the kitchen but she made it clear that we needed to behave appropriately - mostly. 

Working in the Cafe


After a quick dinner of our boxed jambalaya, we went on a pleasant hike of about 90 minutes with fellow volunteers, Dave and Ardis.  They're from Maine.
I'm wrapping up the evening with the blog.  I enjoy this.  I hope you do.
Thank You!


Monday, July 19, 2010

We’re at the Top! (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Well, we made the drive up the mountain (July 17) to the Cradle without any problems at all, arriving at around 7:30am. Big YEA!!! Debbie led the way in the Highlander ready with our new walkie talkies (the old ones failed to work properly so we replaced them). Her mission was to keep me advised of traffic coming down the mountain. I wanted to keep up a good head of steam and maybe use a little more than my share of the road to straighten out some of the curves. Debbie’s first transmission was a great one, “there’s a camper coming.” I tensed but we passed each other easily and faced no more downhill traffic. We did pass a couple of cyclists headed uphill and Debbie kept me well advised. Mike had told me to call him as I started up the hill so that he could ensure the gate was opened when I arrived. I had called as agreed and he was standing at the gate as I pulled thru. I’ll say it again, he’s a good man! I’m thrilled with how well the truck managed the challenge. I drove as fast as the road and I decided was appropriate. I say confidently that we had power to spare. I’m obviously pleased.

We had the choice of two different sites. One was secluded in the trees, private but quite small. Additionally, we would not be able to use our rooftop satellite due to the trees blocking the signal. The other was a pull thru (love those words) with a clear satellite view, nicely private and at least twice as large. The larger site was the obvious choice for us. There was one problem with the site of choice. The sewer connection was uphill. I was aware of this and was ready for the challenge. With the Cradle’s permission, I had located in the maintenance area some rough cut 4x6 material and some 2x10s. I was told where I would find a circular saw. I had packed in the camper a square and my treasured 37 year old 20 ounce hammer. I went to work and built some mega ramps to elevate the camper. You know it’s important for black water to run downhill. The end result was great. Everything’s flowing as designed and we have clear satellite reception.

Volunteer Campground at the Cradle of Forestry
(that's us on the left)
After getting set up on the site we donned our uniforms (Debbie looks so cute in uniform) and reported to our volunteer positions. Debbie is in the Gift Shop and I’m at the front desk. We didn’t get there until about 11:30am. Our neighbors, delightful Texans Joanna and Kenneth, had filled our positions until our arrival. It was their day off! The phrase “extended family “is frequently used here. I feel the family growing. Thank you kind neighbors!

We had a GREAT day!

Sunday, the 18th, Debbie was assigned to the front desk and I was assigned to the Café. You don’t wear a uniform in the Café, just shorts and a T shirt. Debbie, cute and capable as always, mastered the front desk in no time. The Café was fun. I was paired with Sue. She’s a very fashionable, loving grandmother. She had been assigned to the Café the previous day. She couldn’t have been more helpful or pleasant. We don’t cook anything in the Café. Mostly it’s microwavable burgers etc and other junk food. We do have to run the cash register and complete some other low impact tasks but it was another fun day. After “work” Debbie and I went to a Chinese buffet. The second time since we’ve been in the area. We’ll have to do better. The food is quite good for a buffet. Plus they have a nice selection of sushi. My daughter, Aubree Elizabeth, (hello darling - I love you) turned me onto it a few years ago and I enjoy it more and more as time passes.

Today is the first of our three days off. I had a nice walk this morning with the dogs. This is a walking/hiking paradise with trails of every description nearby. It’s a little rainy today so Debbie and I are “chillin.” Obviously I’m blogging, Debbie’s on her laptop researching I’m sure, we’re listening to the IPod (Debbie’s department) and I’m thinking ham sandwich. I’ll confess now, I eat ham sandwiches most every day of my life. I have now for several years. I’m easy to please.
It’s so great to finally be easing into the rhythm of full timing. Life has already been great and I’m confident that this will be the icing on the cake.



Friday, July 16, 2010

Graduation Day (Pisgah Forest, NC)

We completed our training today! Tomorrow we begin our volunteering. There are 7 different positions that are worked by the volunteers. We rotate through these positions, working one each day we are scheduled to volunteer. We work 4 days one week and 3 the next. I think it’s fair to say that none of us are confident that we know all aspects of our jobs. But we do feel confident that our team leaders will be there to help us. They have gone to great lengths to assure us that we will receive endless support. I’m feeling good.
Tomorrow we’re also moving our camper to the Cradle. As stated previously, that may be challenging but mostly I’m convinced we’ll be fine. We’ll depart about 6:30am to avoid traffic. Our new friends and fellow volunteers, Mike and Debbie, have gone above and beyond the call of duty. In our first conversation of the first day we met Mike and Debbie they offered us the use of their second vehicle as a chase vehicle and walkie talkies. Mike even offered to come get me and our camper with his larger truck if I had any problems. He’s a retired sheriff’s deputy. Mike and Debbie are good people. We appreciate their kindness!

After we move our camper we will report to work. Debbie will be working in the gift shop and I’ll be at the front desk.
See ya at the Cradle.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back in School (Pisgah Forest, NC)

I know, I said I’d blog something close to daily but we don’t have internet here at the Cascade Lake Campground. Consequently, I make a Word document then Debbie does that cut and paste thing to our blog when we get somewhere with internet access. For those who know me, you know I just told you more then I understand.

Yesterday we did CPR and first aid. It was mighty low key, no pressure and enjoyable. Debbie and I got 100% on all of our tests. Of course it was open book and we were permitted to discuss the questions/answers amongst ourselves.

Today we had our field trip to the Biltmore House. It was wonderful. Admission is really quite pricey so it was a really nice freebie. Debbie’s been there twice before, me three times but as the years pass more of the mansion is restored. Additionally, it’s just a wonderfully beautiful place so why not enjoy it repeatedly. Plus we had lunch at a great buffet there at the estate. Now you know I have BUFFET stamped all over me and the quality of the food was quite impressive!

Friendships continue to grow. It’s really a very nice group of people. Just by the nature of our lifestyle we have a lot in common. Plus we have a wide range of life experiences so there’s plenty for us to talk about.

After Debbie and I got back to the campground we walked the dogs and then I went swimming. Big surprise, Cascade Lake Campground has a lake. It’s been years since I swam in a lake. The water was a nice temperature and very refreshing.

I’m ready for recess.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dirty Laundry (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Good evening,

We're enjoying part of our evening at the Laundromat.  One of the small pleasures of full timing.  When we move to the Cradle we'll have free laundry in the volunteers' community building.  Nice deal!

We completed the second day of training today.  It went very well.  We also received our first issue of uniforms.  The volunteer coordinator (Barbara) assured us that the uniforms ran at least a size or two small.  That appeared to be true but it didn't make any of the ladies happy when they had to request a significantly larger size.  I, at 6'5" received no uniform.  Barbara is confident we''ll work this out.

The longer we're here, the more we figure out that there's a lot there we haven't even seen yet.  I guess that just makes the experience that much more interesting.
We're developing some nice casual friendships among our fellow volunteers.  Several have made significant gestures of friendship.  Quite nice!
We received the "greeting cards" we ordered  today.  They're like business cards with our names, contact info and pictures on the back of Bo, Laska, Debbie and Duane.  I like them.  We've already exchanged them with a few folks (somewhat of a tradition among full timers).  It's kind of like exchanging those cheap little valentines we exchanged back in elementary school, only more meaningful.

Tomorrow we have a CPR class in the morning and first aid in the afternoon.  Boring, but I understand necessary.  I'll pay attention like an adult.

Till tomorrow.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Cradle Training (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Hi out there!

We reported to the Cradle today to start our training. As our research (that means Debbie’s) has revealed, the training is extremely well organized and quite comprehensive. The fact is Debbie and I will complete our training on Friday and we report to work Saturday morning. We are being trained to work 8 different positions and, even though we will be paired with a team leader, we’re expected to be ready when we report to work. I present this as if it may be stressful but really it’s a nicely laid back place and everyone there is quite pleasant and motivated to assist.

We received a pleasant surprise today. We’re going on a field trip to the Biltmore House on Thursday. Now for a little history. George Vanderbilt, the man who had the Biltmore House built, is credited with being the first man to hire a forester to manage a large (like a 100,000 acres…I think) of land. This hiring led to the creation of the first school of forestry. Thus the Cradle of Forestry. The field trip is a freebie plus we’re going to get some behind the scene tours. That will be great fun!

Today was a long day but not necessarily for Debbie and me. Our drive to the Cradle is about 45 minutes. This will be reduced by about 42 minutes when we move to the Cradle. We left our home at about 7:45am. We got home about 7:00pm. Our poor puppies!!! I had walked them about 7:00am. They must have bladders of steel.  And imagine how they missed their loving parents. But they are sooo good! When we got home they simply said, “Great to see you, let’s pee!!” Of course, with their many brain cells, they understood.

Arf Arf

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Visit to the Cradle of Forestry (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Good Morning!

I skipped a day but I was thinking about you. Yesterday was our first day in NC. After a leisurely morning we went to explore the Brevard area. We knew we would end up at the Cradle of Forestry. We were just too anxious to see the place we’ll call home for the next 15 weeks. The first person we ran into as we entered the Cradle was Barbara Merrell. She is the volunteer coordinator that we’ve heard so many great things about and all the compliments are obviously well deserved. We also met some of our co-workers. Some have been there awhile and others are just arriving. Our conversation related to when will we bring our camper to the Cradle led to discussions about the long steep drive to the Cradle. This leads me to discuss a critical element of our life – the TRUCK.

We bought a 2006, F250, diesel, 6.0, long bed, crew cab, 4x4 in 2008. At the time it seemed like a lot of truck! When we bought the truck we still had our 30’ Sunnybrook and I confidently concluded this vehicle would pull any camper that, in our right mind, we’d ever buy. We have learned so much since then! Please remember the reference to my beloved research queen. Well, not surprisingly, we bought more camper then I ever imagined! So we are now on the upper end of what the truck is designed to handle. We’ve done our best (within some financial limits) to prepare the truck for its demanding task. We installed new 10 ply tires. We replaced the fuel filters. Had the transmission fluid changed to include new filter. Changed the oil and filter. We purchased and installed a 20k pound hitch (the old one was 15k). Lastly we had suspension air bags installed. There are other improvements that certainly can be made but I’m a realist. I fully expect that we will buy a bigger, better truck within the next year. We’ve resisted that move but it is inevitable. The truth of the matter is that, for the next ten months, the only real challenge is getting the camper up the hill to the Cradle. In this case, getting down hill is less demanding. When we leave the Cradle we’ll be going to the flat land of Florida and we won’t be leaving that area until next May. We move next Sunday morning. Please wish us luck! Thank you!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Goodbye South Carolina (Pisgah Forest, NC)

I began our blog with back to back entries but then I got distracted, busy or just sleepy and went to bed. But to my surprise, as each day’s events or activities occurred I thought “I must remember to blog this”. I do ramble, but my point is that I’m excited to share.

Sooo, we left our past home state of SC today and moved to NC in preparation for our first work camping/volunteering position. We’re at the Cascade Lake Recreation Area Campground in Pisgah Forest (near Brevard) for a week while we receive our training at the Cradle of Forestry. We then move to a campsite there, where we’ll stay for about the next 15 weeks. The temperature here was 12 – 15 degrees cooler then when we left SC.

Cascade Lake

As our departure neared, several of our friends made it very clear that we were leaving behind some wonderful friendships. A great joy will be to revisit these folks as we pass through our old hometown area.

As we were selling our possessions we planned to sell most everything to include Debbie’s car, a 2003 Toyota Highlander. Some full timers keep with them a second vehicle and at the last minute we decided that was a good idea. If we conclude the second vehicle is unnecessary then we can always sell it later. So today we traveled separately. I missed Debbie but I did have the company of Bo and Laska in the truck. They travel very well. They LOVE the truck. Most of the time I was the lead vehicle but as we left the interstate and had to make turns then Debbie jumped to the lead. All and all it went very well. Once we were settled in our site Debbie had a drink or two while I prepared our world famous jambalaya. Actually it’s from a box. We add ample sausage and some water. It’s great!

As the sun went down, the temperature cooled a little more and we gushed about the fact that we are now full timers. Have I mentioned we’re excited? We’ll conclude our first day on the road soon and I’m confident we’ll sleep snugly in our cozy little home! Good night.


Monday, July 5, 2010

A Day with DIRECTV (St. George, SC)

Howdy Folks,

As we prepared for our life in a camper we decided to invest in a significant satellite TV system.  Now you have to understand that I don't do a great job of reading instructions, (I know - it's a man thing) don't retain the information well if I do read the instructions and I'm a technological moron!  Conversely, Debbie reads the instructions, get this, cover to cover, has the patience to read them repeatedly, retains the info and has the brain cells to understand the material.  So.... I'm hanging on by a thread.  Anyway, we buy the system in April when it was on sale, have it installed in early June (the installation was $800 more than the ESTIMATE)  and have "enjoyed" endless problems with system.  We now know the DIRECTV people in their Help Center by name, have their number on speed dial and have made repeated trips to the store that  sold us the system.  And now finally my point.  We had to break camp today(not the simplest task) and take the camper to our favorite store to get the system fixed. The culprit was a bad receiver.  I have not named the store that sold us the system because ultimately they made it all better but it was a long aggravating process.  TV shouldn't be such a thorn in our side so we're glad to put that behind us and focus on leaving SC at the end of the week.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 2010 INDEPENDENCE DAY! (Summerville, SC)

Today is the first day of our blog because today is the first day of our great adventure! This is the  first day of our adult lives that we no longer have any employment obligations of any description. We've had our jobs and a couple of small businesses but now we're ready to get on with a whole new life style.  I’m thinking that I’m going to write, henceforth known as blogging, as if I’m standing somewhere talking to you or maybe talking to myself. I don’t know all of you and I don’t know what you know about us or camping. My point is that I will try to not rattle on about mindless details, but if we were standing face to face I probably would do just that!

And now for the introductions, drum roll please, we are Duane and Debbie Rowe. We are both 57 and both retired from prison management jobs. Debbie also had a pet setting business and I had a landscaping business. But now we are done (have I mentioned that?) and we have transitioned to become full timers. We currently live in South Carolina but have already become residents of South Dakota. Our plan is to live, travel, relax, enjoy our dogs and work camp in our camper until there is some great reason to stop.

We began camping with a couple of pop ups but then bought our first fifth wheel about 11 years ago. For years we have talked about the idea of full timing. Let me mention right now that Debbie is the research queen. She leaves no stone unturned! So we started to imagine this life style and Debbie bought books. I remember one of the first was something like “First You Quit Your Job.” But time passes and we didn’t quit our jobs but we did eventually retire from our full time jobs. But we still had our little businesses. This past January and February we camped in our 30 foot Sunnybrook, primarily in central Florida, and came home determined to take the big leap. So in 4 months we completely “upset the apple cart.” We rented our home and sold everything keeping only those things that will fit in our camper and a 4 x 4 climate controlled storage unit. We bought a new camper and have given up our businesses. The four months have been quite overwhelming at times. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were doing all this by choice.

Our home is a 2011, 3400 RL Montana which means it is just shy of 38 feet long with 4 slide outs. It has great storage space, an ample kitchen with side by side frig and 2 ac units. We went to Indiana to purchase the camper (compliments of Debbie’s research) and got a great deal at Tiara RV Sales.

We have 2 dogs. Bo is about 7. He is part Pomeranian; maybe part Pekingese and clearly a splash of the devil. We recently had to have one of his eyes removed due to a cancerous tumor that revealed itself as Glaucoma. That’s my best veterinarian description. He now looks a little spooky but he’s still quite full of himself. Our other dog is also about 7 and he is an American Eskimo Dog. His name is Laska. You know…Eskimo, Alaska…Laska… you get the picture. He is pure white and is nearly perfect! Both came from rescue organizations so we don’t know their exact birth dates. We’ve had Bo since he was a pup but Laska was about five when we got him. I’ll not bore you further with how great they are and blah, blah, blah.


We moved into our camper about 18 days ago. We’ve stayed in the area because we needed to finish getting the house ready for the renters, wrap up the businesses and tie up dozens of loose ends. We’ll depart in about a week and our first stop will be as volunteers at The Cradle of Forestry in Brevard, NC. We’ll be there until around 7 Nov. Then we’ll winter at various state parks in Florida concluding with another volunteer position during March and April 2011 at the Marjorie Rawlings Historic State Park in the Gainesville area. From there we’re heading west.
This concludes my first effort. Debbie reviewed it and cried so I guess I did alright.
We’ll keep you posted!