This morning I am in my pajama’s working in my garden in the rain. TMI, right? And, this is supposed to be a travel blog, right? Bear with me, please. Because, I do have a point to all of this. I promise.
I don’t travel the open road 24/7. But I do travel 24/7!! I travel
this wonderful adventure called life. So, perhaps in a way, this is a travel
Muddy, as the sweet soft raindrops soak my face and hair, I
reflect on my current station in life. Retired. Newly retired. Three weeks,
Loosing a job is difficult, even if, losing that job is
voluntary. Especially, if it is something that you love doing. For me, I was a
teacher. Not just an ordinary teacher, I was an art teacher. On any given day, I would see approximately
one hundred and twenty students. In one week, my students would work on seven
different art projects, which I planned and implemented. I loved my job, but it
was very stressful! Teaching is not easy. This year, I will miss my students
and I will miss teaching. I will miss the paycheck that I received as a result
of my labor. I will not miss lesson plans and the fast pace of my artistic
Next week, my associates will return to school (it’s just the second week in July). Honestly, I am a little sad that I won’t be joining them. But, then again, instead, I can weed my garden, in my Pj’s, standing in the rain, just because I want to!
We often travel as a family of eight (including the dog) in
our thirty-four-foot Class A Motorhome. Traveling with so many people, in a
small space, poses many logistic problems. Luckily, there are hacks.
The Safety Pin Towel Hack- Because we are a family of eight,
we use many towels. It is hard to decide which one is which after seven people
have showered. I created a hack for this problem. We use safety pins, a piece
of two-inch light-colored ribbon, and a sharpie. Cut ribbon from a spool in your desired length
(we use about two inches), write a name on the ribbon with a sharpie marker and
attach ribbon to the towel with safety pins. Each person can identify their
towel to use again for a second day.
Over the Shower Door Towel Holder Hack- On a long trip, we
like to pack two towels per person. Towel storage is a real issue when you are talking
about fourteen plus towels. I bought a towel organizer from Amazon and two over
the door hooks. Then, I simply hooked the rack onto the shower stall. It holds
Shoe storage Hack- (For my husband and I) We decided instead
of wasting valuable drawer/closet space for shoes, we purchased a Whitmore Bed skirt Storage Organizer Clear from Amazon. I had to change it up a little to
use under my RV mattress. It was too big and every time I lifted my mattress in
order to access the under the bed storage, I would lift a thousand pairs of shoes
as well. So, I solved this problem by cutting my pockets from the attached
sheet. I left a two-inch boarder and then I velcroed the pockets directly to
the bed frame.
(Shoe storage for a lot of people) Not really a hack. The bed
pockets work well for just a few people. But, when we vacation with eight
family members, we have way more shoes than pockets! Storing shoes in one location
is a real bonus, because tripping over shoes in an already crowded RV is definitely
no fun! We used one of the pull-out drawers from the dining booth to store our
Plastic Basket Hack- We use plastic baskets in the overhead
compartments. Baskets keep things from rolling around, and they make getting
items from high, deep storage compartments easy.
Milk Crate Hack- We use milk crates in our under-belly
storage, to keep items secure and organized.
Cook Outdoors Hack- Using the propane indoor stovetop can warm up an RV super quick. This year we used two valuable tools to take our cooking outdoors: the Blackstone grill and Faberware Electric Skillet. The Blackstone did an awesome job cooking up a mess of Bacon, and The Faberware was able too scramble a whopping twenty eggs at once (with room to spare). We also used the Blackstone to grill meats and the Faberware to create casserole type dishes. Yum!
Bed-roll Hack- We wanted to be able to convert our couch and
dinette into beds quickly and efficiently. When we were newbies to the RV world,
we discovered that unfolding sheets and blankets every night, was time
consuming. So, I created RV bedrolls. Using an RV bedroll for our dinette and
couch beds saves us a lot of time preparing for sleep and cleaning up in the
morning. We simply roll all the bedding into the bed roll. I will post detailed
instructions on how I created the bed roll in my next post.
Have Fun Hack- This hack is the best way to enjoy your RV
vacation. Just sit back and enjoy the sun, nature, seeing the sights and just
Traveling west on I20, in an RV, through Atlanta and
Birmingham is either a nightmare or comedy movie. Maybe a little of both. Faced
with a 400-mile day, driving from Lexington SC to Jasper, AL (north of Birmingham)
was a 13-hour day. First off, there is
no easy way through Atlanta. It is just so huge, and it is always a traffic
nightmare. Our Garmin RV told us to take the northern route around Atlanta, but
the flashing highway signs said that traffic was moving faster on the southern
route. So, we ignored the Garmin and traveled the southern route. We were happy
campers until…. just before rejoining our highway west, everything and everyone
on the highway came to a standstill. We crawled bumper to bumper with max
speeds of 20 mph for about an hour. Our son-in-law, who was pulling a TT whizzed
straight though the middle of Atlanta in about half the time it took us to
crawl around the outskirts. Go figure.
Once we were back on the open highway, we zoomed along until we hit the outskirts of Birmingham. Birmingham is Atlanta’s baby sister, because Birmingham works very hard at being a traffic nightmare! (Especially in an RV) Interstate 20 is a torn-up mess! The detour route was taking forever. So, when a short cut popped up on my Garmin 780RV, promising to trim 10 minutes off our journey, I said, “Sure, why not!” It took us straight through downtown Birmingham at rush hour! Narrow one-way streets, tons of traffic and tight turns made me grab the the sides of my passenger seat with one hand and clutch both my cell phone (with my google navigator app) and our Garmin in my other hand, while trying to calmly give navigational instructions to my poor husband. At one point, both Google and Garmin were fighting about which way to send us. Google would say one thing and the Garmin would say another. My husband would hear a voice command from the cell phone or Garmin directing us, and he would say “Ok, turn left?!?” To which I would shout back, “No! Ignore that!” I was trying to select the best route offered through the narrow streets. Meanwhile, adding to the chaos, the dog was barking at anything that moved. It was interesting to see the reactions of pedestrians to our 34 ft RV, and six-foot tow vehicle. People sort of stared at us as if to say, “What are you doing here? We don’t see many RVs in downtown Birmingham!” All I could do was wave!
Finally, we navigated around Birmingham, and we were ready
to make our way to Clear Creek Campgrounds in Jasper. After navigating
Birmingham and Atlanta, we were courting our twelfth hour of travel. Our
daughter, who was following us in her SUV, asked across the walkie talkie, “Hey
how much further?” “Fifty miles,” I answered. She says, “Sixty?!?” “No, just fifty,”
I responded. Silence…. But I can hear her thoughts as they paralleled my own,
“Fifty more miles! Wow…. Oh, no!”
For the first time ever, my family had a campfire on the beach. The sun was setting, and the grandchildren were chasing ghost crabs with nets and flashlights. My hubby, papaw, was playing old favorites on his guitar. The other adults were quietly singing along or peacefully listening to the waves and music, while staring contently at the fire. It was perfect and awesome, until…….
My thirteen-year-old grandson, proudly approaches his aunt
and exclaims, “Look what I caught!” While
boasting of his catch, he tries to give it (a crab) to his aunt in her lap. She
screams and jumps up, causing the crab to tumble. Grandson catches the crab mid
fall and proceeds toward his mom, who was observing the scene at a safe distance.
So, as he approaches his mom with his little gift, she screams and jumps up
too. All this commotion has scared the stew out of this poor little crab who
sees the open fire as a welcome respite from all of this human craziness. So,
without further ado, into the fire poor little crabbie went.
Meanwhile, pawpaw continued to quietly strum his guitar.
Dolphins. Playful, frolicking puppy-dogs of the sea? Flipper?
Yes or no? Whichever your answer most of
us would agree that human beings are attracted to these graceful, mysterious
Me personally- I think that the ocean, boats, and dolphins
go hand in hand. I love the feel of the open water with the wind blowing in my
hair and sunshine on my face while dreaming having a new BFF (a.k.a. Flipper).
That’s why I chose to go on a Dolphin Tour.
The tour we chose boasted about providing a lot of education
about dolphins, and they did provide a little bit of education. I liked the tour
guide, and the trip itself was very pleasant. However, what most intrigued me
was the captain of the boat. He was all business
(from his curt welcome to the boat, to his curt exit instructions).
We had the pleasure of sitting directly in front of the
captain as we ventured in search of Dolphins. We could hear him occasionally
talking to other captains and inquiring if any of them had spotted any dolphins.
Finally, after gingerly scouting around the sound, word came over the radio
that another boat had spotted dolphin. At which time our captain put his boat
in full throttle and boogied to the mentioned location. After perhaps ten minutes
of watching six or eight dolphin fins in the distance playing around the
neighboring boat, our captain announces, “Well folks it looks like its time to
head on back.” After which he put the boat in full throttle and made haste to
After successfully, docking the boat with a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree
spin, my twelve-year-old grandson excitedly complements the captain on his excellent
parking skills. To which the captain replies- nothing, nodda! Perhaps, he didn’t
hear the child. Or perhaps….
I shouldn’t judge the captain. Maybe he was just having a
bad day or maybe he just couldn’t hear my grandson. But the encounter made me stop and wonder
about my own toils in life and my relationship with others. How, do I embrace
the tasks set before me? Am I joyful? Or, do I mutter through the job with a
sour attitude? Am I happy to do for others? Or, am I like my perception of the Captain?
Just going through the motions because I
While Climbing the rickety stairs of Bodie Island
Lighthouse, I prayed, “Dear Lord, please….” I wondered if this lighthouse was more
structurally sound than its previous two predecessors. The first Bodie
Lighthouse was built in 1837; However, because of poor construction, the fifty-four-foot
tower began to lean a mere two years after its completion. So, in 1859, the
U.S. Government commissioned and completed another tower, only to have it blown
to smithereens, by the Confederate Army in 1861. After the war, it was necessary to build yet
another lighthouse in order to protect ships from the treacherous banks of
Bodie Island. So, in 1872, work was completed on the current lighthouse.
We were told, when purchasing tickets to climb the
lighthouse, that only one person was allowed on a flight of stairs at a time. I
thought, “Really? That seems strange.” That
was until I saw the stairs that I would be climbing. They were one hundred and forty-seven-year-old
iron steps anchored into one hundred and forty-seven-year-old bricks. Oh,
my! My next thought was, “I probably
should have taken dieting a little more serious, before buying a ticket!” While
pondering whether the structure could bear my weight, and if I could make it to
the top without collapsing, I watched my small grandson ascend the first flight
of stairs. “What if he slips?” I thought. I then heard the Ranger say, “Your
Halfway up the winding staircase, I begin to count the steps. I was too scared to look down, and I was too frightened to watch my young grandson make the treacherous climb. So, to assuage my mounting panic, I looked at my own two feet and I began this little chant, “One hundred and two, one hundred and three, one hundred and four…keep on counting, keep on counting!”
Finally, we reached the top and the view was beautiful. However, (honestly) I was too frightened to enjoy it! The only thing separating me from a one-hundred-fifty-six-foot freefall was a thin iron rail. After taking in the view for about two point one seconds and snapping a billion quick pictures, I was ready to make my climb back down from towering heights and so was my grandson. The child, whose eyes were saucer-sized while we were at the top of the lighthouse, bolted down the stairs at a full-fledged run. I think he had seen enough, or too much! I was never happier than when I had two feet planted firmly on the ground. Climbing Bodie Lighthouse is not for the faint of heart!