8 Months in the Books
That’s right, 2/3 of our first year is already done. Time is a funny thing. It both stands still and flies at the same time it seems. I mean it’s hard to believe that we have been on the road now for 8 months. The other day, Z and I did a review of the pictures on our Instagram and talked about all of the fun times we have had. We have managed to balance life and travel, work/school with fun, and adventure with down days. We have learned a lot. Both about full time RV life, and about our great country. We have seen some very beautiful spots, some less desirable locations, some that we wish we could have spent more time in and some that could have been skipped. I still struggle regularly about what is the “right” thing to or the “right way” to do it. I keep telling myself that just doing it is the “right” way, but it’s hard not to wonder what you are missing, what you are wasting time on, and what is costing you more than it should.
Then there are the lessons. The RV kind, like not leaving the vent fan (We lovingly call it the fart fan) on while you flush the commode. This pulls all of those sweet smells right out of the black tank and places them lovingly in your nose. Like making sure to empty all of your tanks prior to travel to avoid more odor displeasure when you stop. In fact, it appears that many of our lessons revolve around odor. Odd. As I have mentioned in the past, the lessons about slowing down and paying attention are ever present. And there are the lessons about how to work on an RV. Especially if you have never done it. These also include a PHD in learning how to relax. Not in the “hey lets sit around the fire and chill” type of relax, but relaxing in terms of not letting everything stress you the hell out. Because in this life, if you don’t relax, you will burn out quick. We have learned, more than ever, to go with the flow and to understand that shit will indeed happen. There’s not much that freaking out will do to stop that.
On the up side, we have settled into a flow. A rhythm of sorts. We all have our jobs when we pack up and unpack. We have our internal check lists of what to do when we hook up and unhook. We have been moving like a well oiled machine and I am proud of how we have been doing. We are exploring our surroundings when we can, but also have been taking down days when we need. Sometimes, like those at the beach, we do both at the same time.
This month has found us experiencing a number of firsts. We made our way south near Mobile Alabama. Although Mobile was less than a mind blowing site for us, being that close to the ocean really was nice. I love the water and towns that are near them. It just seems like everyone has a different personality when they live near the beach. It is a life I miss for sure. We went to a great little area called Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. They are all very close, and remind me a little of Destin without the tourist stuff. The beaches were nice and although it was windy, we had a good time and the water was a nice temp. We found a great little spot called simply The Gulf in Orange Beach. A great little bar/restaurant/beach hangout. They had great fresh seafood, cold beverages, and a great view for sunset. We really liked it. In fact, I think it’s an area that we would consider living if we wanted to be near the ocean again.
We got to see the USS Alabama. This was something that I REALLY wanted to do. I love WWII history, and being a former US Marine, I love military history in general. I wasn’t sure how Lisa and Z would like it, but both seemed to really enjoy the self guided tour. We got to go all over the ship, then there is an air museum there as well as a submarine to walk through. Well worth the money, and one of those moments I search for in this new life of ours. I think Z decided that the ship life is not for her, but she grasped the historical significance, and that’s what I want. It was funny, how both big and small the ship seemed at the same time. When you drive up to it, you could almost miss it if you weren’t looking from the freeway. From a distance, it seemed smaller to me for some reason. But once on the deck, surrounded by the big guns, you get a sense for how massive and impressive these war ships are. You also get a sense for how hard my Navy brothers have it on a ship like that.
Of course there was the biggest news of the day that night. We witnessed a free election and were probably as blown away as anyone by the results. Lisa and I screwed up this year and thought we had registered but turns out we hadn’t. We didn’t get a voice, but being Texans it really wouldn’t have made a difference. It did give us a great opportunity to discuss politics with Z and I was impressed with her desire to talk about it. She is developing opinions, and as long as they are educated, I am fine if they aren’t the same as mine. We went to bed before the final results were announced, and woke up BLOWN away. I had no horse in this race, but even I thought that Hillary was going to walk away with it. Regardless of how I felt, I am disappointed in how people have reacted on both sides. That’s all I will say. We need to come together as a country. Period. At least I had the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans day to take my mind off of it.
From here, things got a little dicey. We moved to an RV Park near Biloxi. When we pulled in, MAN it looked nice. A big lake, some nice looking cabins, little ducks walking about, a huge play area for kids. But as we pulled in, things got weird. It was one of those parks that had a very weird balance of annual sites (people that live there full time), and people like us who come and go. As we parked, Lisa and I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, that shot had to happen at a time when I was leaving for a week to go visit my mother in Colorado. When I would talk with Lisa, she would tell me that some kids would be up early and were being loud, but nothing really major to cause concern. But when we got back, things went to hell it would see rather quickly. One morning our neighbors asked if I had heard anything over night. I hadn’t. They said someone stole a nice cooler off of their patio and it was full of beer. Your first thought went to kids. Then our other neighbor had a cooler stolen as well. Then, that night, we heard a loud “pop” on the side of the trailer. Now we had a bird hit us once, so of course I thought it was that. But when I went to look, I found that someone had thrown and shattered a light bulb on the side of our trailer just under our bedroom window. Grabbed the gun and headed out to find out who in the hell would do such a thing. Ran in to multiple people in the area that it came from (you could tell where it was thrown from). All of them were older and drunk and surprised to hear what happened. Then I saw some police down at the end of the walk way. As I approached them, the local security guard, if you can call him that, was speaking to them about how they think there is a meth lab in the nearby woods. You could almost hear the F word in my head. At least I am fairly certain I didn’t say it out loud. That was all I needed. I returned to the RV, double checked that everything was locked, put up the side patio (for added security), loaded extra rounds in the gun, and informed Lisa that we would be leaving the next day, a full day early. And we did. I did stop in to tell the owner (who seemed very nice) about all of the issues. She seemed taken back but did say that they were “trying to clean it up”. Lesson learned, we will not be back there most likely.
We headed east to Pass Christian Mississippi. It was the best move we had made yet. The difference was palpable and we immediately felt better about how things had gone. The RV park was very nice, well maintained, and they had some very nice staff. So if you are in the area, check out the TLC Wolf River Resort. We were 10 min from the beach, close to shopping and entertainment, and 1 hour from New Orleans. Well played.
We did manage to get to The Big Easy a few times, and all I can say is that although it was a good thing for Z to experience, I am glad we didn’t stay longer. I think that some cities are better if you have someone that lives there in order to really get a good family experience. I don’t know anyone in New Orleans, so we spent much of our time in the French Quarter. We did the obligatory Cafe Du Monde, Bourbon St. took a horse carriage tour, listened to some great street performances and saw some great street shows, but in the end NOLA is not for kids. At least not in my opinion. We had our first major holiday (if you don’t count 4th of July and Halloween as major) in NOLA. Out Thanksgiving dinner was at Red Fish Grill and we really REALLY had a good time. One thing I will give NOLA, or at least the places we went, customer service is a thing with them still. We saw people working so hard to feed us on Thanksgiving that we tipped everyone, from the hostess to the bartender, of course the waitress’s, but even the buss boy. Z was so impressed with him that she went and gave him $10. She also really has been tickling me lately with a new habit she has formed. She pays several people throughout the day with a random compliment. “I like your shirt” or “those are awesome pants”, or “you have really awesome eyes” have become normal for me to hear from her. She told everyone at Thanksgiving dinner “thank you for working this holiday for us”. It makes me really proud of her. I always say, it’s how she acts with others, more than with me, that really counts. We did make an effort to get in to Preservation Hall, but came up about 7 people short. Bummer. That’s one of those things I would have paid extra for.
With NOLA in our rear view we spent our last days in Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis. Really enjoyed the little town of Bay St. Louis and was blown away by how affordable beach side living could be there. I couldn’t live there, but it was neat to see.
4 hours of driving on a Saturday landed us in Florida, which will be our home state for the next 4 months or so. In fact, starting Wednesday, we will be in Orlando or within 1.5 hours of it for almost 2 months. Our kids and Grandson will be coming to visit on the 7th and we will get to celebrate his first birthday with Mickey. So far, Florida has been fun. We will also be in eastern time zone starting tomorrow. We did have some issues adjusting to that change when we were in Georgia, so I will be eager to see how long it takes for us to adapt. Off to a Harvest host tomorrow, I think Z will really like this one. More on that later.
I hope you all are living your dreams. Remember, “we travel not to escape life, but for life to not escape us”.