2014 – recap

In 2014 Terry and I averaged 30,000 miles, testing over 15,000 people. We were returning to customers for the 2nd time and that was getting boring. Our work days were getting longer and the drives less enjoyable – we were ready to settle down for a bit.

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When you HAVE to move every few days it gets old. Sometimes new RVers experience the burn-out too. They try to see ALL the places that were on their bucket list the first year they start full-time RVing.  By September we were ready to park it for a while.  If our jobs had been such that we could slow down and stay longer in 1 location, we definitely would have. But, the work schedule wouldn’t allow that and our scheduler made the days so long we barely recouped over the weekends, so we had to make a decision.

In April, we adopted an English Bulldog, Maddie, who is a great traveler.  20140613_194537

In August, my Dad passed and in September Mom decided she wanted to be closer to her 3 children (2 of whom live in Florida), so she listed her park model in Montana with a local realtor to sell, packed up her favorite stuff and moved to Lebanon. My family had a nice Christmas reunion – it had been 42 years since all 4 of us spent a Christmas together.

Terry and I were in a comfortable place without having to move the work trailer, RV or catch a flight for the holidays, and It’s been a nice change.

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Here it is March already and we’ve been parked 4 months ow without a move in our immediate plans. Spring hasn’t sprung yet here in middle Tennessee, but this week the decorations and gardening supplies are arriving on store shelves. Soon we will be sitting outside under the awning watching the boaters on the Cumberland expressing gratitude again that our RVing lifestyle offers us so many choices.

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2014 – did spring get lost somewhere ?

Winter has FINALLY decided to move on – at least in our neck o the woods! Today is April Fools’ Day and we are in sunny Georgia. I thought a beautiful sunny WARM day like this would NEVER get here!

When we purchased Lucy in October last year, we headed north – got stuck in more cold, snow & ice than I ever care to experience in my lifetime. Burning thru $30 of propane on average a week wasn’t fun either. The price varied as we traveled from $2.79 to $4.25 a gallon and a couple times we had to travel a bit to find a place that would refill the RV. With the entire nation experiencing an LP shortage we were grateful to find any place with a supply to sell. Keeping our work trailer warm was a challenge too – we ended up purchasing 2 additional electric space heaters which was less expensive to run over the weekends that 2 LP furnaces.

Christmas break in Tennessee

Christmas break in Tennessee

January brought 2 big storms across our paths – and 2 of our jobs in Alabama were cancelled due to the ice that covered roads and bridges.

Lucy in CAve SpringWe experienced 1 storm in a private RVP along a river in Historical Cave Spring, Georgia. 2 days before the storm hit we watched as locals came to refill their drinking water bottles at the springs.

Locals fill their water jugs at Historic Cave Springs

Locals fill their water jugs at Historic Cave Springs

This beautiful land that is now a public park was donated to the area by a local physician who developed his property into a hospital many years ago. What a quaint town Cave Spring is and a treasure to experience. It’s only a 2 hour drive west of Atlanta – and well worth your time if you are ever moseying thru this part of western Georgia. It’s just 30 miles north of I-20.

Also – we enjoyed a stay at Riverdale Equestrian Center in Fayetteville, TN. We had a lot of fun with Beatte Kuska, 1 of the resident trainers – and visited with trail riders on their Spotted Saddle horses. It was such fun working ion 1 of the barns cleaning stalls and socializing with the mommas and babies. We haven’t done that chore in a long, long time! We explored the horse trails via their Kubota. Smokey rode with us, just to make sure we didn’t get lost 🙂 smoky at riverdale Spotted Saddle horses

In February we had the opportunity to introduce Facebook friends to the joys of being Escapee RV Club members as we met.up on their journey westward to their first work camping experience in Colorado. Evan, Tina, Jackson and Emmerson Robinette from South Carolina, made a special detour to connect with us at the Raccoon Valley RVP north of Knoxville. We enjoyed the weekly Friday night jam session in the cluhouse and shared a meal together. Staying at Raccoon Valley in an RV had been on our bucket list, so this stay was extra special for us. If you aren’t yet a member and decide to join The Escapees RV Club, please tell them SKP # 90684 referred you. I get a little lamplighter pin to display on my membership badge as a thank you. Thanks!

We were able to spend the final week of February in Knoxville getting Lucy an oil & filter change done as well as some much-needed repairs to our work trailer. The Folks at Tenneessee RV Center and Knox Trailer come highly recommended and we will definitely plan a return there when we need more service to our 1994 Tiffin Allegro Bay or Supreme 40′ trailer.

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cuban dinners

As spring started sprouting around the beginning of March we were in Atlanta. The first signs were the Bradford Pear trees with their spectacular white blossoms filling the trees. Red buds, crocus and daffodils also told us “spring is here” as we traveled to a few local jobs and up into the North Georgia mountains.

We even discovered a couple local products called “apple pie” and muscadine wine 🙂 Better than any store-bought adult beverage we have ever had. Yes, Sandy, we a jar with your name on it and will bring it when we get down to South Florida …soon!  Being in Atlanta also gave me a chance to  get some Cuban mojo on – there were THREE Cuban restaurants we checked out while in the area.  Can you say Cuba Libre y picadillo con arroz & frijoles negros y maduros? We sure did – and took some home to enjoy the next day too 🙂

For our current 3-week project we have been staying at Jellystone Campground near Bremen, GA enjoying a daily rental of DirectTV satellite. Almost makes up want to subscribe …. we have really enjoyed Cesar 911 and Oprah’s Lifeclass when we have time to sit and watch TV.

On the technology front we purchased a Millenicom mifi device and were able to reduce our Verizon data plan enough to almost offset the $70 monthly cost. It works on the same network and allows multiple devices to be connected – but the biggie is 20 GB of data for less than what 10Gb cost us thru VZW. A good budget decision, we think.

For my RVing friends – a brand new social website has launched – it’s called RVillage. The best part about this site is that you can check in (like Google+) to an RVP when you arrive and see other members who have also checked in to their parks across the country. There just might be another member in the same RVP as you! There are interest groups also so for instance if you would like to connect with other Escapee member, you can see where they are located. The key to this site will be keeping your location current as you move around. I think it has great potential and to know that it is 100% designed, developed and maintained by RVers is another testament to the opportunities that abound – no matter where or how you choose to live your life.  It’s ALL good 🙂

Finally – April is Autism Awareness month. My nephew Brandon Drucker is an Artist with Autism. He creates amazing, colorful art which he sells in print and products formats.  One of those pieces of art Brandon has created are in the colors I absolutely adore so …… “The Hiding Bird” is our theme for Lucy The RV! We think they are both fabulous 🙂

Brandons Hiding Bird

 

Neil Armstrong Museum – Wapakoneta, Ohio

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We visited the Neil Armstrong museum, located just off I-75 at exit 110 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. This is a small museum, but loaded with pictures and items familiar to me and many of us who watched intently the NASA space program on television growing up. 

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Mr. Armstrong was born on a farm in this historic town, having started flying at 16 years of age. Much of the items in the museum are items donated from his family to the museum to share with others. 

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Since Neil was the famous astronaut who first stepped on the moon and gave his “One Step for a man, a giant leap for mankind” speech … this museum was something both Terry and I wanted to see. There is a fairgrounds, KOA and a couple other campgrounds in the area, so RVers interested have options for parking nearby. 

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Downtown offers some shopping and a nice lunch at the Cloud Nine Cafe – who make fresh fudge and cheesecake daily. We enjoyed a nice lunch of Quiche Lorraine and a grilled Reuben sandwich along with flavored coffees.

The downtown area also offers beautiful mansions from the late 1800‘s as well as a beautifully restored courthouse.  

At the museum, Terry played with a couple of the flight simulators as well as perused the gift shop at the exit of the building.

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The $8 per person admission fee was worth the couple of hours we spent reading, taking pictures and watching a short video of the Apollo 11 mission.

Heartland Treasures – Kentucky & Ohio

June started off with another location checked off both Terry’s and my bucket list. Since we recently watched I’ll Have Another win the 2012 Derby, we decided to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, then stayed later to bet on a couple of races that evening at the track.   The upshot is …. the first horse I ever bet on in my life …. to win-place-show WON!  So my $6 bet earned $13.20 !  We sat trackside at the finish line and experienced in person all the sights we had only seen on TV previously.

The following week we worked at one of the historic distilleries near Bardstown, KY, and enjoyed the small town atmosphere the south is so famous for. THIS town is extra special though.

Bardstown, KY – a real treasure

Bardstown, KY was voted by the USA Today Best of The Road Best Small Towns in America: 2012 Most Beautiful and we can see why. Many of the 1700 and 1800’s homes have been restored. Even the old 1700’s cemetery is well cared for. We checked out 2 campgrounds and the My Old Kentucky Home State Park named after Stephen Foster who wrote the Florida state song Way Down Upon The Suwanee River that I grew up listening to as well as the Kentucky state song.

We enjoyed green fried tomatoes at Kurtz’ Restaurant that has been serving travelers since the 1800’s. The owners’ great grand daddy built the home on a ridge to avoid the floods that had destroyed their other home previously. Then the family lived upstairs serving travelers from the downstairs kitchen and 2 small rooms. Now, the granddaughter and her children are still serving hungry travelers after 75 years! We also ate at the Old Talbott Tavern, the longest continuously operating tavern west of the Allegheny mountains.

The highlight of our Bardstown experience was the Heaven Hill distillery tour and trolley tour of downtown. I HIGHLY recommend you take the trolley tour FIRST to familiarize yourself with the town’s must-see stops. We also took the horse-drawn carriage ride at dusk.

In central Ohio we explored Lyme Village – a restored “firelands” 1800’s village. Our tour guide was a 14-year NOT YET high school student who obviously has spent much time learning and researching relative historical facts. His appreciation of and knowledge about the use of antique tools was amazing.  He got so excited telling us he had found his ancestors in many of the record books displayed in the various buildings on display. We shopped at the Pepperidge Farm factory store in Willard, stocking up on VERY FRESH cookies and Goldfish crackers.

Fulltime RVing friends of ours, Nick & Terry Russell who write The Gypsy Journal recommend we visit the Warther Carving Museum when we were near Canton. So in addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame that was on Terry’s list that’s exactly what we did. Thanks for the tip Nick & Terry!

The intricate carvings of 10,000 pieces of wood assembled into historic trains were fascinating to behold. Descendants of Mooney Warther who made all of the carvings as a HOBBY still operate the museum to this day, which is a feat in itself. We purchased a hand-made knife at the gift shop which includes free lifetime sharpening.  An old-timer we met in the parking lot visiting the museum one more time says when he was boy almost 70 years ago, he used to play and swing in The Warther’s back yard.

In July we returned to Kentucky and met a new friend from our earlier Bardstown visit at a local restaurant before we began work in Lexington.  It was only an hour drive and we gladly drove over via the Bluegrass Parkway. We passed Keeneland Race Track and other beautiful horse farms around Versailles (which the locals pronounce Ver-sails)

We wrapped up the month of July by enjoying two full days at the KY Horse Park which has been on my bucket list since my Mom camped there 10 years ago when she first started RVing.  The KY Horse Park Campground feels like a resort with well-groomed spacious RV sites under beautiful trees, a tennis court, swimming pool and paved golf cart paths – all for $30 a night FHU!

The KHP is HUGE and offered not only the park to enjoy, but two completely different shows happening at the same time.  In the KHP itself there are museums, historic barns, shows and rides all included in the $16pp admission fee. Included is a horse-drawn carriage ride, a show of various breeds, beautiful barns and horses everywhere.

A full day of walking the grounds had us worn out, but we went back on Sunday to take a horse farm bus tour. That was $30pp and well worth it. Our driver is a Lexington native, with extensive connections into the operations side of many historic farms. At Keeneland we fed some of the horses in training peppermint candies, rubbed noses with million-dollar foals and heard about some of the farms that have been purchased by sheiks and multi-billionaires as we passed by on the tree-lined back roads. One of the custom-built barns cost over $750,00 to build and was truly a beauty to behold.

One of the guests on the tour was a gal from Australia who is travelling the USA for the year with her family in an RV. They sold their property development business last year, flew to LA, bought a tow vehicle, travel trailer and GPS system.  They’ve been out west and are now heading east and will finish up in Florida at Christmas.

The most unique feature of the Lexington area are the miles of dry stacked field stone fences that line many of the roadways and pastures. Some are from the early 1700’s when crews were taught how to build them by the Irish emigrants who settled in the area. It’s almost a lost craft now, and they can not be removed, only repaired.

The area between Paris, KY on the east side of Lexington and Louisville, KY with Bardstown in between is simply amazing countryside and one we could easily spend a couple more months exploring. If you love horses and/or beautiful countryside, there aren’t many places in the world that can compare.

Kentucky is a true American Treasure.  Come On Over … they’ll leave the light on for ya !

Airstream factory – Jackson Center, Ohio

My first RVing experience was in my grandparents’ 1971 Airstream. ImageMy then-husband and I borrowed it when we moved from Florida to North Carolina. After getting separated in heavy Atlanta traffic, we finally made it to our friends’ horse farm and set up shop.  When the shower pan leaked water all over the hallway, it was time to get it to an RV repair shop so at that point we vacated the RV lifestyle and moved into a mobile home on the property.  It was another 30+ years before I ventured into even THINKING about RVs as a viable roof over my head!

When a work project located us 30 miles from THE Airstream factory, I just couldn’t resist. Besides, it had been on my bucket list for “someday”, so why not? I had also read it was one of the best factory tours RVers should take advantage of, so off we went. Their website said they only offer 1 tour a day, at 2pm but we arrived 45 minutes early and entered the Service Center building. Parked out front were 4 vintage Airstreams.

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As soon as you enter, you are greeted by desks built like the ends of an Airstream RV.  It’s quite a thrill to be standing there looking at the aluminum clad walls and desks with the familiar logo.  Image

With plenty of time to shop, we walked around the gift shop, resisting the urge to pick up polo shirts and other trinkets with the Airstream logo.  Since we are VERY limited on storage space, our purchases are limited to NECESSITIES or a post card for our travel board. The furniture in the waiting area is the same kinds of couches and chairs that are installed in each Airstream. The TV stand looks like the rear window of an Airstream. The video that runs continuously  explains WHY an Airstream is a superior travel trailer.  Image

Once our group had registered (there were 45 on this particular day) our tour guide began his presentation. This gentleman began working for Airstream when most of the buildings on the complex were still cornfields.  He has been presenting the tour for the last 20 of his over 50 years working for the company.  He loves this company AND his job and it shows!

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After 45 minutes inside, we ventured out to the parking lot and on to the manufacturing plant where workers were in various stages of assembling the latest models. First we checked some of the units being serviced or refurbished at the service center.  RV owners come from all parts of the country to have their Airstreams serviced at the factory.

Some Airsteram owners will drop them off for a complete re-do that costs as much Imageas a new model because they want it done right, but they want to keep the vintage look on the outside! The above RV was a 1973 model!

No pictures are allowed to be taken INside the factory and we had to put on safety glasses and ear plugs which are given out in the reception room.  The walk to the factory gave us an opportunity to view some of the RVs waiting for their turn in the refurbishing area.  An RV park behind the service center had another 10-15 units with owners waiting for their turn to get into the service area.  Sometimes they will have a 3-4 day wait, but it’s only $10 a day for their space.

We walked past the VERY FIST Airsteram that ever rolled off this property. The originals owners’ estate had donated it back to Airstream to be placed in the future Airstream museum, which is still in the planning stages.  Many families have kept their Airstreams in the family and respect the icon of camping.

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Once we completed our factory tour our total time at Airstream had been over 3 hours and our legs felt like rubber bands.  Thank goodness we had worn our walking shoes!  If you are ever in the north central Ohio area, make time to spend an afternoon at the Airstream Factory. A quick exit off of I-75, it very easy to get to.

The tour is free and it’s well worth your time to hear a 100% Airstream fan share his heart & soul about the Airstream story of which he has been a critical and devoted part to their world-wide success. Wally would be proud … very, very proud. 

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Blogging for practice

I really admire bloggers who post daily about their activities, and I have a couple favorites that I read before we leave for the day.  It gives me a chance to follow along virtually and I can almost taste the dinners they enjoy as well as experience the sights they see … most of them are not employed (or are self-employed), so their time is more flexible than ours at the moment.

BUT … I won’t be doing that on this blog for now.  At this point, for me, blogging – daily anyway – feels more like a job (that I enjoy, but takes a commitment), and we are already working full-time. When I think back a couple years ago, I didn’t even have a Face book or Twitter account, had no clue about blogging and hadn’t registered a website name either. Now, I have all 4.  And it’s MUCH easier than I thought.  Every link reference and photo in a blog takes a few steps to implement, which means a great internet connection and being organized.  The 2nd part is a breeze for me, the 1st we don’t have consistently.

Writing doesn’t come easily to me, although I enjoy expressing myself.  When writing, it takes me time to think and then re-think the wording before I am ready to press “send”, so my blog is more than a quick sentence or two, like our FB page.  And that’s what I started our blog for in the first place.  I wanted to use it as an online diary of sorts, something where I could document our travels. Some friends have expressed an interest in following along, so they do.  But at this point it is not intended to be “monetized” (make money from it) as many bloggers do.  That would be a 2nd job for us.

At this point in our lives, we are more focused on HOW we spend our days. On the other hand, because LOA is always working always (whether we understand it or believe it or not) we are the ones who have to remember to FOCUS on what we want vs. what we do NOT want.

Our focus for now is enjoying our time off and exploring the sights in the areas we are working.

 

Click here for our 2011 recap