2013 Rear view

Last year was chock-full for us. We traveled over 30,000 miles, worked at 101 different job sites, flew to Montana to help Mom get settled into her “Last Best Place”, purchased a motor home, damn near froze to death in the coldest winter in over 100 years and recommitted to staying with our jobs for at least 5 more years.

2013-states worked

Blogging had become more of a chore to me in late 2012, so I simply decided to not commit to this blog in 2013.  I did enjoy the blog posts of others, along with more time on Facebook. I volunteered to admin 6 FB groups – all RV related – and have shared more RV tips N tricks on FB than I can remember.  We even met some FB friends in person (THAT was fun!) and discovered new RV parks and apps too.

For  2014 now that I have a permanent desk in the RV, I can get back to blogging – but only every now and then, so don’t expect a daily report from me! We work full-time, moving every few days to our next location. I handle all the logistics, reservations and lead the 2-vehicle caravan using the GPS app on our smart phones. On weekends, I appreciate some down time and we don’t have satellite TV – by choice.

Lucy in Cincy

My blog posts now will be more of a review format – of places we have seen that are worth my taking time to write about. There are so many RV bloggers now that it boggles my mind – in comparison to just a few years ago. Many of the blogs I follow have committed to writing every day – and that is their decision. But when there is nothing to really write about, other than to say what we had for dinner or who we talked with I don’t see the need to blog about it. I am choosing quality over quantity.  Many folks have realized that we have to design the lives we want, rather than wait for it to come along …someday.

2012-04 – Michigan, mostly …

April took us north into Michigan again. We were here last year in September. This visit the weather was how I always remembered it from our trucking years …. cold, gray and rainy – mostly.  We did enjoy a nice meal in Owosso at the Wrought Iron Grill which is located in the old Woodard Patio Furniture factory building. Wrought iron patio table & chair sets have always reminded me of steamy summer nights enjoying my homes in Florida, so it was fun to see the factory where many of these sets were built.

  The building is beautifully restored and repurposed

Then, we ran over to Holland from our Grand Rapids location to see the tulips in bloom at Dutch Village.  Being in this area manifested another one of my bucket list items. They had not completely opened all shops yet as their annual Grand Opening day is closer to May 1st, but the weather was beautiful when we were there so we stopped at the Holland State Park first – just to see the beach on Lake Michigan.  Here is a link to ALL the pictures I took in Holland, Mi.  

On a Saturday while we were in Grand Rapids (GR to the locals) we visited the Meijer Gardens butterfly display.  Meijer is a wonderful grocery/department store chain in the 5 state area around here. IMHO Meijer is MUCH better than Wal-Mart because they offer organic and locally grown/made products and they contribute back to their communities.  They also have VERY happy employees, which means that the positive attitude starts at the top and filters down.  If we lived here, Meijer would be our #1 choice for MOST provisions.  They also offer some really cool products I have never seen anywhere else – at very reasonable prices.  Check out this retro micro I ALMOST bought …not that I need one at the moment, but boy, was I TEMPTED!

Next we returned to our 2nd favorite locale in our Heartland regional work territory …. The Amish Country of Northern Indiana – where 9 out of 10 RVs are made ….we were in THE RV capital of the world!  Goshen was our hub for this week-long stay even tho our 2-day project was 15 miles north at Dometic in Elkhart. One of the benefits of using the Law of Attraction is that WHEN something you have been focusing on “suddenly” manifests, you know EXACTLY where it came from … there are no coincidences and no 2nd thoughts!

Purchasing a truck & fifth-wheel is our primary focus for this year, so we bought a 2007 F-350 diesel dually 4WD King Ranch  from a local Goshen dealer and spent a long weekend enjoying our new ride thru the Amish countryside.

We also visited Heartland RV’s #1 dealer in Elkhart and walked thru a 2012 CrossRoads model to check out the front living room floor plan.  Front living room fifth-wheels were really popular in the 1908’s and they are coming back again so we wanted to get a feel for them in person. Redwood and Open Range both also makes a front LR floor plan we like.  Isn’t this beautiful ? 

We took an Amish buggy ride in Shipshewana

 after doing some shopping at Yoders Hardware and seeing the restored 1906 Carousel at Davis Mercantile.  Driving the back country roads in this area is such a pleasure when the weather is nice, which it was for our full day riding and walking around.

Mid April found us back in Michigan – first near Kalamazoo, then Lansing, then Detroit and Auburn Hills.   So far in 2012, we have been to the following states working as mobile OSHA hearing technicians.

We ended April with Terry in a local Detroit hospital.  With a prior history of a heart attack, when his symptoms developed beyond what we thought was just the flu, we headed for the ER.  That meant TK had to cancel our last 2 jobs scheduled in Michigan at the last-minute.  The upside for us is we had already checked into a kitchenette suite and had purchased groceries for a week, so we were set for a longer than usual stay.  All worked out OK, heart is fine, he just needs to get over the flu and will be back on his feet shortly.

2012-02

Route 66 – The Mother Road … so many icons from its’ heyday are still visible or in use today.  And visiting many of them is on our bucket list.  Some of our friends and family members can remember travelling Route 66 “back in the day”.  The old “filling stations”  and roadside cafes we have seen on calendar pages and blogs symbolize the freedom of travel and exploration to many of us.  As such Terry and I have made an effort to check out some of the locations in person as we travel the heartland. 

While working in Oklahoma in January, 2012, we discovered many of the Route 66 places are a short drive off the main highway, or on our way to a work project, so we stopped.

MIAMI, OK – when we first arrived in town for a 2 day job, we passed right by Waylan’s Ku Ku Burgers so made that our first Route 66 experience. Later that evening we visited the Coleman Theater beautiful, but since it was after hours, we couldn’t go inside.

TULSA, OK – There are many, many Route 66 resources easily reached by a google search.  Our recommendation is to do a little preliminary research and then either go see them, or at least put it on your bucket list like we did.  We drove thru the historic Fairgrounds and saw their homage to the oil industry started in the area, and enjoyed a meal at a historic Route 66 diner. 

In Kansas for a few jobs, we toured quite a few fifth-wheel RVs at the Nu Wa factory.  Nu Wa RVs are highly rated for full-time living and they reburbish traded-in RV’s to resell on their used lot.  It’s a great source for those looking for a full-time RV and need or want to save on the dealer mark-up.  Nu Wa also done sales prep for CrossRoads RV’s. 

In Missouri, we walked thru brand new Open Range RVs and were really impressed.  I really like the front living room RV floorplan, but am not interested in the Montana by Keystone.  The Joplin RV dealer we visited also has a very nice RV park behind the dealership that we would stay in when back in the area.

When in Omaha, Nebraksa we discovered an authentic Cuban restaurant, Gusto’s Cuban Café – that was a real thrill for me, because I am of Cuban decent.  It has been almost 10 years since I left Miami, Florida so I have REALLY REALLY been missing the local food.  Cuban food is completely different than Mexican food.  Cuban food is seasoned similar to carribbean food, and it is not spicy, like Mexican food.  We visited with the owners and thumbed through a 1958 yellow pages directory. 

We ended the month back in our favorite hotel stay, Candlewood Suites – Olathe, KS.  Having been in and out of KCMO every other month or so, we are able to stock up on our favorite products at the new Trader Joes.

We also had RV Anywhere install our repaired propane heater in the testing trailer. We met Mike with RVAnywhere on Facebook and were pleased with his services.

Click here for our 2011 recap

2011 recap of our first 6 months as mobile OSHA technicians

Image Well, it’s been six months since Terry and I changed careers.  And we are STILL lovin’ it. The honeymoon is over, but we are so grateful for this opportunity.  The timing was PERFECT for us although we didn’t realize at the time, HOW that change would manifest itself.  NOW we are shopping for a full-time RV to finalize our jobs as mobile OSHA Certified Hearing Technicians with The TK Group. As I write this entry we are at our favorite location in the Kansas City, MO area, which we have decided we like VERY MUCH. We’ve either worked or stayed in this area many times over the last six months, so we have learned where everything we need is located, enjoyed lots of GR8 Bar-Be-Que, made some friends and really feel like we are coming to our home away from home when we return.

For now, our favorite crash pad is a Candlewood Suites hotel, but we are looking for a suitable MHP or RVP we can use near this area once we are RVing full-time as we work.

January provided us a week long project in Oklahoma City so we visited the OKC Museum of Art to see the exhibit of Dale Chihuly.  This is the 2nd time we have seen his work, and it always is impressive.  We also took in a rodeo.  The last week in December we spent a whole day at the National Cowboy Museum.

Christmas was spent back in Arizona in our vintage travel trailer, which we left in dry storage right on the same site we camped on. Our trailer is for sale so that is nice, not having to haul it in and out of the previous storage property.  Quail Ridge RV Resort is a great RV park, with full-timers, permanent residents on their leased lots plus overnighters all comfortably on spacious lots.  They often host the annual Cowboy Poetry Festival event, which is coming up in February. It’s only a 20 minute drive into Sierra Vista, Tombstone, or Patagonia from Quail Ridge. Our 2 weeks off at the end of the year included a 3500 mile round-trip from our last work location (Tulsa, Oklahoma) to Arizona, thru Kerrville, TX to visit Mom and back to Tulsa.

November took us to Alabama to visit with my Dad, and we worked in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  By Thanksgiving we were back in KCMO and I was able to cook a full turkey dinner with trimmings in our crock-pot.  Had never done that before, and it turned out better than I expected.

In October, we spent a day in Branson, Missouri where we met with Phil & Lorie, friends of ours who drove over from their new job location in St. Louis, Mo. Four years ago we met them when we both managed self storage locations in Phoenix, AZ.  Phil & Lorie loved living in their motorhome years back, so they are looking forward to purchasing another one some day.  We also enjoyed a few hours in St. Joseph, MO at the Patee House museum and Jesse James museum.

September we were working in Michigan and discovered how many great RVing spots there are in that state … we never knew!  Stumbling on the annual Woodward Dream Cruise was a blast from the past as we drove our Freightliner MDT along with the classic cars for a few miles.  They were taking pictures of us as we were taking pictures of them, laughing all the way. What a blast that was!  We crossed 2 items of our bucket list – the Henry Ford and The Ford Rogue factory tours. We also had a nice tour of the Laura Ingalls Wilder farm home in Missouri.

August was HOT everywhere and Indiana and Illinois were no exception. Having acclimated to the Arizona desert, the corn fields triggered allergies that I never knew I had.  Next year, I will carry Quercetin with me 24/7.  I almost couldn’t get to work one day, I was so miserable. When we took off from AZ in July to take our training classes in Illinois, we crossed another item off our list … the Great Platte River Pioneer museum.  You know, that HUGE bridge that crosses over both the east & west bound lanes of I-80 in Nebraska?  The one everyone says “what IS that thing?” the first time they see it?  Along the way, we stopped at the NRA Whittington center for a visit where Terry became a member before we left.

The Enchanted Circle

On our way to acquire training and certifications as hearing technicians for our new employer, we left our southeast Arizona home heading to Chicago, IL.  On the way we stopped to visit with Mom for a couple days in New Mexico – her summer RV homebase.

Now we know why so many people are enamored with Angel Fire, NM and The Enchanted Circle area.  We followed the road east from Angel Fire to Eagle Lake, northwest to Red River and back south through Taos.  We also explored the Mora Valley and Moreno Valley, both beautiful to discover as you round the last curvy forest road descending into a picturesque valley with lush green pastures dotted with peacefully grazing Alpacas, cattle and goats.  After 4 years living in a hi-desert environment, I got my badly needed “green-fix”. Beautiful mountain estates next to old homesteads dotted the landscapes under the blue New Mexico skies.  The one surprising discovery was the over-abundant Texas residents, escaping into the Sangre de Cristo mountains and establishing various businesses in the area. A good 50% of the vehicles were from somewhere in Texas.

Our stops included the NRA – Whittington Center, The Great Platte River Road Monument, and Cabelas in Omaha, NE checking off 2 of our bucket list goals. More than 1800 miles + 5 hotels in 5 days left us road-ready for our next adventure – working and travelling full-time across the USA as we search for our next RV.  We’ll be staying in corporate lodging until we locate a short motorhome set up for full-time living.  We have discovered our dream job and are looking forward to our next career !

Thoughts BECOME things …..

Well, OUR thoughts certainly have.  Terry’s #1 dream is to own a Pete – a Peterbuilt tractor, that is.  My dream is to custom design a motor home – with ALL the features we want and need, and none of the “fluff” most RV manufacturers throw in-like mirrors and toilets in a closet !

So far, our dream RV on a Peterbuilt chassis has been just that ….. a dream ….a sketched out plan in our minds for “when we hit the lottery”.  Aparently, we are not the ONLY ex-truck drivers who dreamt about a Pete motorhome !

This weekend we met THE owner of OUR DREAM rig – Jim – who stayed for 1 night at Hacienda RV Park in Las Cruces, NM on his way back home to Texas.  We “just happened” to be visiting my Mom who was parked at Hacienda the same weekend – also heading home to Texas! Coincidence ?  We think NOT !

Now, what’s truly amazing is that we have been dreaming of this type of motor home for years. Having driven over the road as truck drivers, we have seen many, many types of RVs – but the majority just don’t get our hearts pounding.  Custom RVs are a whole different story-and are used often by NASCAR teams to haul their equipment and drivers back and forth across the country during race season.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve climbed into every custom RV we could, taken lots of pictures, talked to sales reps, and collected brochures.  I subscribe to blogs, read the forums and have pictures on our vision boards.  But until this weekend, we hadn’t seen “IT”, and now we have.

There are a small handful of  custom dealers who will design a motor home to your specs – but none on a Pete chassis. Not by coincidence we meet Jim, who discovered a dealer in Indiana who DID build a custom RV on a Peterbuilt chassis.  Our thoughts have become things in our lives so many times – and here’s a picture of 1 of them !

On our way home we took the scenic route back – via Hwy 80 south from I-10 thru Rodeo, NM and Portal, AZ.  This beautiful rural drive takes you thru a valley hugged by the Chiricahua and Pilloncillo Mountains, where Geronimo’s tribe lived also introduced us to Rusty’s RV Ranch and Hideout Ranch, which we plan to visit more in depth.

Rusty’s is a fairly new RV park just a couple miles north of Rodeo, designed by RVers with wide 200′ pull-thru spaces, some with a patio area and views to die for.  Yes, the Pete MH would fit nicely into any of Rusty’s spaces AND still have room to spare.  Rusty says “many of our guests come for a day, and stay for a month” and I can see why. 

Driving through Rodeo, NM enjoying the wide open spaces and 360 degree views of mountains gave us renewed enthusiasm for the beautiful – and history-laden area of SE Arizona that we call home.

Whether you travel via horse, motorcycle, RV, SUV, travel trailer, fifth-wheel or your dream motor home — or even if you are just starting your traveling dreams, be sure to put this route on your list because to us  …..

…. “Life is Good. RV life is even better”