WheRVe we been? Our travels, 4th quarter 2018

Well, we certainly didn’t put on the miles like we did in the 3rd quarter, but I’m writing this post from an entirely different 5th wheel than the one we started in, and there were lots of cows and puppies!

Due to commitments both expected (medical appointments, construction work on a friend’s ranch) and unexpected (buying a new RV!), we mostly made Texas triangles between San Antonio, Houston and Palestine, with a quick zip across I-10 during the final week of 2018.

We arrived in Texas in mid-September and stayed there, which, combined with our first quarter of the year, makes 2018 The Year We Spent More Than Half our Time in the Lone Star State In Spite of Ourselves.

Here’s a summary of our 4th quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 2590.

We went from San Antonio to Houston to Palestine, and around again twice more, with brief side trips to Kerrville, Medina Lake, and Granger Lake.
Then we took off two days after Christmas to ring in the new year with friends in Florida.

San Antonio, Sept 16 – Oct 29: A funny thing happened while we sat at Lackland Air Force Base, juggling medical appointments. Enough things finally went wrong with The Toad that we decided to throw in the towel and start shopping in earnest for a new RV — a process that was neither quick nor painless. We spent hours talking, agonizing, losing sleep and making lists of pros & cons before pulling the trigger.

It sort of started with a moisture leak that caused a mushroom to grow out of a corner in our living room.
Tim fixed the leak, then gutted and replaced the wall. And since we too had begun to feel gutted, by the never-ending repairs to our 10-year-old 5th wheel, we chose to move on.
And speaking of moving, I took up running in 2018, and completed my first 10K in September. My daddy and my husband ran it with me. That made me smile.

We ended up making three trips over six weeks to the Houston area, braving its infuriating spaghetti mix of highway interchanges, to buy the RV.
First look – 10/10
Thorough inspection – 10/30
Gotcha Day – 11/29
You’ll find more details about our 2018 Mobile Suites 38KSSB in this post.

Some upgrades we’re enjoying in the new RV
– a cozy electric fireplace
– an automatic dishwasher
– a residential fridge (no more 8 cubic feet of refrigerator tetris!)
– a hall closet for Tim’s computer command & control center
That closet was intended to be a laundry room, and you can just see the washer hookups there behind our printer. We opted against installing a W/D. Why would I want to give up my regular opportunities to collect Tales From The Laundromat?

One of the benefits of being in central Texas when we need muscle, is that we can usually convince our younger son (left) to make a trip from Austin to help out.
For this job, swapping out our pin box, he brought a friend.
And those boys were quite willing to cooperate, especially knowing that gas money and a BBQ lunch were part of their compensation package.

November & December: Palestine, Castroville, Medina Lake, and Granger Lake, TX; Mandeville, LA; Pensacola, FL

In November, we added a new experience to our RV lifestyle: ranchdocking.
It’s like moochdocking, but on a friend’s ranch.
We can plug ourselves into a 50-amp outlet in the garage, and fill our fresh water tank from a spigot on the ranch house, but we’ve got no sewer hookup. Stays are limited to 7-8 days before we need to go dump, but the rent is free and the views are fantastic!

We were at the ranch because back in the spring, Tim helped take down the owner’s historic log barn at its old site in Boerne, and move it in pieces to its new home in Palestine. This past fall, it was time to start putting things back together.
The original barn was built in the mid-1800’s. That’s it in the top left photo, prior to its disassembly in March.
While Tim reassembled the Lincoln Logs, I got to know some of the furrier residents of the ranch. A litter of puppies was born in November, and I snuck in daily snuggles.

People We Love!
– Lunch in Castroville with Dan & Lisa of Always on Liberty and Sean & Julie of Chickery’s Travels
– Early December shenanigans at Medina Lake with David & Cheryl of Landmark Adventures, hyping the book written by our mutual friends, Marc & Julie of RVLove.
– A quiet Christmas with our younger son at a Corps of Engineers park just outside Austin
– A wine infused overnight with old Navy friends in Louisiana, on our way to Florida. I was over-served!

We watched the sun set on 2018 in Pensacola, and spent the first few days of 2019 there.
Our friends, Jay & Kris, have a home just northwest of town, and we moochdocked in their driveway in return for some sweat equity on household projects.
And it’s one of Jay’s cousins who owns the ranch, so we’ve definitely felt like part of the family this year!

Right now: We’re back on the ranch for our third stay. This time, Tim’s leading the charge on installing the tin roof.

Barn progress as of January 9, 2019

And look who was waiting to play with me when we returned!

Where to next? By mid-January, we’ll start making our way northward to Indiana, for our February warranty appointment at the DRV manufacturing facility in Howe. After that, we’ve got the annual RVE Summit on the calendar for March, and we’ll be back in Texas by late April. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

3Q 2018    2Q 2018    1Q 2018    4Q 2017    3Q 2017    2Q 2017    1Q2017   2016

Go big or go home? Went big. Bought new home.

And yes, it’s on wheels. See?

This is the way we want to live until it becomes unfeasible to do so.
We’re still looking for that permanent place to park ourselves and put down roots, but it’s no longer the focus of our travels.
Like so many of our adventures together, we’ll figure it out along the way.
And if we’re paying proper attention, we’ll know it when we get there. 
We have found several cities we enjoy visiting, but what we enjoy more is the freedom of not being tied to any of them.

I know what you’re thinking. In our most recent annual update, we said we weren’t going to buy a new RV. That we were going to keep making modifications and upgrades to our 2008 Heartland Bighorn “until we feel like we’re done.”

Welp, by late September, we felt done, for a few big reasons.

First, we’d realized something about Own Less, Do More: that what we were doing disproportionately more of was maintenance and repairs. That’s… that’s not really what we’d had in mind, although yes, we know it’s all part of the cost of ownership.

Second, Tim has fallen into a ground-level opportunity on an RV-related programming project that excites him, and whether or not that turns into a profitable gig, it means he really needs to be able to put in more hours at the keyboard than under the RV.

Third, we’d begun to feel as if we were surrounded by ticking time bombs — like the roof, the air conditioning, and the refrigerator — and that replacing those big-ticket items was likely to cost us more out of pocket than the value of our 10-year-old coach.

Along those same lines, the remaining upgrades we wanted to make — adding solar power, having the exterior painted, installing double pane windows and a quieter cooling system — mmmmaybe didn’t make economic sense when all of those things come standard on newer 5th wheels designed for full time living.

This was one of the last straws.
We’d noticed some odd bulging behind the trim in a living room corner.
We thought it might be due to water intrusion from the roof, and then a mushroom grew there. An actual mushroom!
I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s a very clear sign of having a moisture problem.

In the course of repairing the source of and damage from that issue, Tim found a mystery puddle at the base of the toilet.
He stepped out of the bathroom, looked at me, and said, “That’s it. I’m done. I can’t keep up with this.”
And as the primary (OK, sole) fix-it guy in this partnership, he is the one who gets to make that call.

The scales had finally tipped. Our original intent was to run that baby into the ground, but it ran us down instead.

Although we hated the idea of letting go of all the work and money we’d put into The Toad over the four years we’d owned it, we also knew that we were merely putting lipstick on a pig, and that we were ready to say goodbye to what we now refer to as our “Training RV.”

I’d say that’s when and why we started RV shopping, but the truth is, we’re always kind of looking. You know how when you own a house, you go to home shows for the latest ideas, you monitor real estate sales in your area, and maybe even attend an occasional open house, even if you’re not actually looking to buy? It’s the same with RV ownership, but this time, we were looking with intent.

We put together a long list of  Gains & Gives, and we both agreed that any new (or new-to-us) coach would have to offer enough in the Gains column to offset the incurred hassle and debt, and to make it worth walking away from all the work we’d done on the Bighorn.

A few of our prospective Gains

  • 6-point automatic leveling
  • better suspension
  • newer appliances
  • improved HVAC, insulation, windows, and body paint
  • manufacturer’s warranty
  • less worry over aging RV
  • time recovered from long-term future repair projects

A few of our known Gives

  • leaving the Heartland Owners Club
  • the freedom to modify 10-year-old coach however and whenever we want
  • going from a paid off RV to one requiring monthly loan payments
  • nearly new furniture and flooring
  • trading the devil we knew for a devil we’d have to learn

Out of the Old, Into the New
The friendships we’ve made through the Heartland Owner’s Club are a gift to us, and the support and advice we received as members kept us on the road both literally and figuratively.
We will repay that debt by continuing those friendships, and also by continuing to recommend the Heartland brand.
They did right by us.
Our brand switch is due merely to being in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a deal.

To cut through several pages of further details: we ended up trading in the Bighorn, and buying a 2018 DRV Mobile Suites 38KSSB. It had all the Gains, and because it was still sitting on the dealer’s lot at the end of the model year, it was marked down to a price we were willing to pay.

Gain: residential refrigerator
No more glorified dorm fridge!

Gain: updated decor, in subtle colors and patterns that (we hope) will not look dated within 5 years

We purchased from ExploreUSA RV Supercenter in Alvin, TX, and this floor plan photo came from their original ad for our RV.
We are not likely to do business with them again, but I won’t go into detail here until we’ve given them a chance to respond to our list of grievances.
(If you’re dying for details, go to this Yelp review and read the entry by J R., dated 5/10/2018. Our experience was very similar.)

Now, we’ve done a lot of moving in our 27 years together, and whether we count this RV as our 12th home or our 13th vehicle, the transfer process out of the old and into the new was every bit as time consuming and complex as moving into a new house — not just to make everything fit, but to store it in places that made sense. In other words, just because I have room in a bedroom drawer doesn’t mean I want to store 2 cans of corn and a jar of applesauce in there. 

Speaking of bedroom drawers, here are two of mine (note lack of room for corn or applesauce), along with my entire collection of hanging clothing.

Little decorative touches we’ve made to turn house into home

We are happy with our purchase. The upgrades in quality and technology were worth it, but yes, after only 3 weeks onboard, we’ve got a list of items that need factory attention — because RV manufacturing seems, sadly, to be focused far more on quantity than on quality, no matter what the sales brochure says.

Our first warranty visit to DRV is scheduled for mid-February.

Oooh, northern Indiana for Valentine’s Day. Yay?

I had this decal custom made after a discussion with friends about RV manufacturing quality.
There was wine.
And there was one slightly tipsy friend who said, “When you get right down to it, every single one of them is just a shitty box on wheels.”
Truth.

Top 20 True Tales from the Laundromat

I don’t care what anybody says. Laundromats are a gold mine of story-telling fodder.

But before I lead you down into that mine of mine, I’ll start with a little background.

One of many “You Do You” facets of RV life is that some folks go for the in-coach washer and dryer, and others don’t.

Here’s our “in-coach” dryer.
Drawback: doesn’t work in the rain

Although we’ve got dedicated hookups for them in our bedroom closet, we opted against installing our own machines, and here’s why:

We didn’t want to sacrifice the storage space, weight allowance, or power & water usage, when we can do our laundry elsewhere — in a facility that someone else has to maintain and repair.

I’ve managed to wash and dry 2-3 loads, once a week, every week since we’ve been full-timing, and it’s really not a hardship. Sometimes, a nearby friend or relative generously offers up their laundry room for a welcome freebie, but I have to admit I’ve become spoiled by the convenience of getting it all done at a laundromat in less than 2 hours, thanks to having access to multiple washers and dryers instead of just one of each.

As for the money, well, I’m not that good at math, but I can guesstimate that at an average of about $6.50/week, it costs us about $338.00/year to do our laundry.

A new set of RV machines costs about $1200.00 (source: quick glance at a few options on a single major national RV retailer’s web site).

So after nearly 3.5 years of full-time RV living, we’ve now spent about as much on coin-op as we would have on our own washer and dryer, but…

I cannot deny the added value of all these stories.

Twenty True Tales from the Laundromat? Priceless.

1. Middle-aged guy walked all the way across the laundromat to tell me, “That looks so nice. You folded it all perfect!”
I think he was fishing for an offer of assistance.
Well.
Some women get hit on for their looks. Not me. I reel in the boys who want someone who can fold their fitted sheets.
(January 2016, Port Hadlock WA)

2. One of our sons is traveling with us, and this is my first time doing RV park laundry for three people instead of two.
It’s also the first time I’ve done laundry for one of my children in nearly a year.
I could have done without the additional aggravation. Hello, spellcheck?
(June 2016, Warren AFB WY)

3. This is a nice compromise.
Usually RV park laundry rooms are all like DON’T YOU DARE WASH YOUR PET BEDDING IN HERE, but this one dedicated a washer and dryer just for that.
Kinda wish I’d noticed it before I washed all our clothes in it, but I suppose there are worse things than coming away with a little hair of someone else’s dog.
(August 2016, Nellis AFB NV)

4. Washing our stinkies, under close supervision, here at the local combination mailbox rental, thrift shop, grocery store, laundromat, bait & tackle, beer & wine barn.
Wow.
(January 2017, Ehrenberg AZ)

5. This may not look like a perfect day to you, but to me it’s a reminder that we’ve spent the past month surrounded by dear friends — the kind who say, “Of course you can bring your laundry over. Any time. Soap’s in the cabinet. Here’s a house key.”
So. Much. Love.
(March 2017, Norfolk VA)

6. Good ol’ Wrinkle Bill…
(April 2017, Shelbyville KY)

7. I want to meet the person who came up with this name for the laundromat at the marina.
Because that is good.
That is very, very good.
(July 2017, Saint Ignace MI)

8. Tim (picking me up at the laundromat, hoping everything’s done): So, did I arrive at just the right time?
Me: That depends. Did you bring me a tetanus shot? Actually, I think I might have cholera.
Yeah, this is a skeevy one.
Check out the professionally — and inaccurately — labeled dryers.
(August 2017, Ashland City TN)

9. October 2017, Manchester TN

10. I’m not sure what begging comforters are, but I think I may have picked a rubber floor mate during one of our shifts at Amazon last week.
(November 2017, Murfreesboro TN)

11. Guess we had a stowaway.
Been a long time since I’ve pulled a toddler sock out of a washing machine.
(January 2018, San Antonio TX)

12. March 2018, Kerrville TX

13. I got the size right, the style right, the quantity right, the fabric blend right, and even the price right.
I neglected to peek inside the multipack and check the two colors that were hiding behind the gray ones.
Which is how Tim now has almost as many pairs of pink panties in the wash as I do.
Which probably also explains why they were such a bargain.
(July 2018, somewhere in SD)

14. You know you’re staying in a rural area when…
(August 2018, Enumclaw WA)

15. I have found my people.
(August 2018, Chehalis WA)

16. So if the laundry room phone rings, do I have to answer in 1993?
(October 2018, Lackland AFB TX)

17. Eeeeeee! Laundry room visitor.
My fluff & fold just got a whole lot fluffier!
(October 2018, Lackland AFB TX)

18. As I was leaning over, tossing stuff into the dryer, I heard the laundry room door open behind me, followed by a male voice saying, “Hey. You were out running this morning!”
He was not wrong, but uhhh, having my backside recognized by a stranger was a little disconcerting.
I turned, readying my “The hell?” look, which I had to camouflage quickly, because I noticed just in time that the gentleman was pointing to the hanging rack over my dryer. “You were wearing those pants!” he said.
Oh.
Oh yeah.
Heh.
I guess those blue leggings do indeed etch themselves on the retina.
(October 2018, Lackland AFB TX)

19. Texas, y’all.
(November 2018, Palestine TX)

20. November 2018, Palestine TX

I’ll keep gathering these precious nuggets with the goal of posting a new collection in another 3.5 years — when we’ll have spent enough at laundromats to have bought a second washer & dryer!


Author’s note: Nearly all of these posts came from my personal Facebook account. I don’t think it’s plagiarism if I copy & paste my own work, but I thought I’d better explain myself to those of you who are thinking, “Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this before…”

 

Born to run? You’d have thought so, but no. It was harder than that.

I yanked up my big-girl leggings and learned how to do not one, but two exciting new things this year — things I have said out loud, and multiple times, that I’d never do.

Backpacking was one of them, and that one’s my husband’s fault.

The other? At age 49, I’m a runner now too! Which means I am my father’s daughter after all.

I like my big-girl leggings loud.
These literally give me rosy cheeks.

And it wasn’t easy. When I started back in January of this year, I struggled to run for even 5 minutes at a time, then I’d have to walk for 10-15.

It was oh, probably my gazillionth attempt at running since my teen years. I’d rarely stick with it long enough to build endurance for any more than a 2-mile slog, because I’d…

  • feel every single step
  • dread the hills, and running into the wind, and running uphill into the wind
  • occasionally reactivate an old hip injury
  • panic when I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath
  • stay in when the weather was bad, or when I felt icky
  • find plenty of other forms of physical fitness that came way, way easier

So I’d wrap myself in my blanket of excuses, and then give up for another year or so before trying it again.

Paradoxically, my father’s been an avid runner for as long as I can remember. Boston Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, other full and half marathons, and all the K’s — dozens, if not hundreds of road races.

Quite honestly, I thought running ability was my birthright, so another piece in my Puzzle of Frustration was that it did not come naturally to me. At all. My brother can do it, and so can his kids. But clearly, I didn’t get the gene.

Yet I’d hear Dad’s voice in my head with every attempt, with advice he gave me when I was still a teenager: If you can just get to three miles, then you can run six. And if you can run six miles, you can run ten.*

So I tried again this year, and y’all? I got it to stick this time. Longer than ever! Nine months later, I’m running 3-6 miles, about 3 times/week.

Yay me!

What’s different this go-round?

Weight. I started 10-20 lbs lighter than any other time I’d tried to take up running, and that made it much less stressful on my joints. Less pain, more gain.

Goals. All I wanted was to be able to make running a regular and enjoyable part of my fitness regimen, at distances and durations that did not leave me feeling like I might die before noon. In other words, I really don’t need to act like I’m training for a marathon.

Motivation. Since my breast cancer diagnosis in December of 2013, I’ve been a bit more stubborn than usual about finishing what I’ve started — or at least giving an effort my all until I realize that stopping might be a better option.

Method: I chose not to follow a published training plan, but rather to follow my own body’s cues.

I had two rules:

  1. Improve in some way with each running session. (More than once it was, “Well, at least I swore less this time.”)
  2. Forgive myself and try again in two more days if I don’t achieve Item 1.

Progress was slow, but I stayed with it, and after using my unconventional method for about two months, I could run 3 miles without stopping to walk. That’s when I signed up for my first race!

It was just a 2.5 mile fun run, here in San Antonio back in March, but my daddy ran it with me, and we doubled back to finish the course with my mom, who’d walked it.
Cancer has messed with our family more than once, so participating in Give Cancer The Boot felt pretty damn right.

About that time, Tim started running with me. He’s been a runner before, and has a couple of half marathons under his belt, but his 2013 3-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail did a number on his knees, and he’s been reluctant to run again. Luckily, my pace is slow enough that it rarely causes him any issues.

We ran our first 5K together in April, in Mount Vernon, WA.
(Photo source: Community Action of Skagit County)

And here’s how I know I am really a runner this time. I have:

  • experienced chafing, nausea, dehydration, cuboid bone stress, the usual leg aches & pains, and a lost toenail
  • reactivated and successfully repressed my SI joint injury several times
  • found a treasure or two

    Road shoulder reward

  • swallowed a bug
  • run into brutal winds that mysteriously disappeared or blew in my face yet again after I turned around to complete the second half of my run, expecting to have them push me back home
  • encountered countless animals, domestic and wild, alive and dead

    Cute baby bunny

    Slug? Not nearly as cute.

  • logged miles in TX, OK, UT, WA, ID, ND, SD, and MT, and rarely the same route twice

    Hey, Utah. Your running trails are pretty.

  • tried and rejected two pairs of shoes before finding the pair (Brooks Ghost 10)
  • learned that I am a neutral pronator
  • been caught in unexpected downpours

    Can’t run under a rainbow without rain.

  • noticed leg muscle definition I’ve never had before, not even during the 6 years I was a Jazzercise instructor
  • participated in one fun run with Dad, two timed races with Tim, and a 10K with both of ’em

    The 40th Annual Rhody Run, in Port Townsend, WA, came with beer at the end!
    We ran the 6K (yes, six), and did not disgrace the family name.

    My first 10K was the Project Brave Pajama Run in San Antonio last month.
    Dad and Tim placed first in their age groups. (They were the only runners in their age groups. Shhhh.) And we got super hero cape cookies at the end!
    (Photo credits: my mama)

  • decreased my pace from a 14:30 mile to about 11:20. If I’m only running a 5K, I can “sprint” at about 10:45
  • had to dodge only one vehicle 

But I have not run so far or so long that I’ve had to duck behind a tree, dumpster, or other structure for a potty break, and I consider that a plus.

It’s an exhilarating feeling to cross a finish line, no matter what my statistics say about my performance.
(Photo source: Mays Cancer Center)


*I’ve made it to 8. Once. Still working my way up to 10.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 3rd quarter 2018

It was summertime, and the living was busy, and holy hell did we put on some miles. We really need to stop saying things like, “Sure! We can be there by Tuesday.” Somebody please slap the truck keys out of our hands next time we do.

Here’s a summary of our 3rd quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 5711.

Our starting point in July was Coeur d’Alene, ID.
From there, we headed east across MT and ND to MN, then back to Coeur d’Alene via SD.
After that, we spent a little over a month traveling around western WA, and concluded with a cannonball run back to Texas.
(Actual route varied. Source: maps.google.com)

Coeur d’Alene, ID, June 22 – July 7, and July 22-31: The third quarter began where the second ended, and was interrupted by a two-week jaunt to Minnesota and back (coming up next). While in CDA, which is where Tim’s family lived for a few years in the 1980’s, we spent a lot of time doing outdoorsy stuff with family and friends, to take advantage of the area’s lakes, mountains and rivers. One of Tim’s old high school buddies owns all the best toys, and he treated us to both 4-wheeling and kayaking!

– Biking the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha
– That day one 4-wheeler, 1 dune buggy, and 3 adults got covered in what felt like all the dirt in Idaho
– A much cleaner day, renting a pontoon on Lake CDA (photo by Tim’s dad)
– And another day on the lake, this time in kayaks

Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota & Wisconsin, July 7-22: Tim’s got a cousin in the Minneapolis area. We’d made tentative plans to visit last year, but for one reason or another, we didn’t follow through. So this year, we committed to making it happen. Granted, MN isn’t really right around the corner from ID, but at 1300 miles, it was as close as we were going to get in 2018, so off we went on Mad Dash 1. Cousin David made it well worth the time and expense by taking a few days off from work to serve as our tour guide, and even helped Tim fix… ugh, I’ve already forgotten, so… whatever the hell was broken on the RV or truck that week.

We covered a lot of ground.
– Went down the WI side of the Mississippi River, and back up the MN side, stopping to explore along the way
– Visited another one of Tim’s old hometowns, the charming Prescott, WI
– Drove up to Duluth and took in Gooseberry Falls and the historic Split Rock Light House

On the way to MN and back, we
– Ran under a rainbow in North Dakota
– Dropped in on the cabin Tim built as a teenager in Montana
– Paid our respects at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in MT
– Spent our 26th anniversary hiking at Custer State Park in SD, including a trail that offered a distant view of the backside of Mt. Rushmore. (No butts. I was disappointed.)

Western WA, Aug. 1 – Sept. 1: Despite having spent most of April, May and June in Washington, there were still more things we wanted to do and people we wanted to see there, so we went back! Ahhh, freedom. We started with a show of Tim’s father’s photography at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mount Vernon, then skipped from fairgrounds parking in Enumclaw, to golf course parking in Chehalis, to a private RV park in Hoquiam, and managed to squeeze in not one, not two, but three backpacking trips — one from each location. Wild blackberries were at their peak, and I could not turn down all that free dessert, so do not judge the amount I’ve still got stashed in my freezer. Come on over, and I’ll make you a cobbler. Maybe two.

– The work of Doug Rohrer, photographer, and co-op artist of the month for August 2018
– I only picked 7 or 8 quarts, but only because our freezer is so damn small
– Stared in awe at Mount Saint Helens, and we highly recommend a trip through the exhibits at the Johnston Ridge Observatory (photo by kind stranger who said we looked very picturesque sitting there)

One of the reasons I decided to give backpacking a try was to be able to see places that can be accessed only by long-distance hiking.
We hiked 13.5 miles to get to this scene: the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park.
Worth it.

Port Townsend, WA, Sept. 1-8: A big draw for Tim, the annual wooden boat festival, opened on Sept. 7. But we needed to be in Austin, TX — 2200 miles away — by Sept. 13. Our older son and his girl live in Port Townsend, so we’d get to hug them again, and we’d also gain the chance to see some Navy friends who’d just moved back from Germany, if we could just. make it. work. To make a long story very short: where there are wheels, there’s a way. We just had to spend some really long days on the road.

– The Steamer Virginia V, photographed because we once lived in VA, and because our son, who is a licensed captain and festival volunteer, got to drive her!
– Father, son, and sailboat bonding
– Please note that my headband, by Tavel Designs, has little sailboats on it. I’m so nauti!
– Our boy and his girl
– Military family friendships endure through miles and years of separation. The last time all of us were together, the three “kids” in front were a second grader, a preschooler, and a toddler.
Heart: full

And then we made Mad Dash 2, from WA to TX in four days.
Although I don’t recommend it, and I hope we never again make choices that would cause us to repeat it, I will say that we prepared well, and that enabled us to handle the trip well.
And by prepared, I mean we stocked up on healthy, easy-to-grab road foods; we were honest about when we needed to stop for breaks; we treated ourselves to one restaurant meal per day; we shared the driving, and set reasonable limits; and we steeled ourselves mentally and emotionally beforehand for 4 days that just wouldn’t be much fun.
(Source: Apple Maps)

But we’ve had a lot of fun since our arrival!
– Snarfed more than the recommended daily allowance of breakfast tacos.
– Made a trip to the beach, where we met my brother’s family‘s newest kitten
– Put our arms around our younger son and took the “starving” college student out to dinner
– enjoyed a happy hour that turned into six hours of food and fun with our friends, Marc & Julie of RV Love (photo by my mom)
Also, we’ve both been poked, prodded and prescribed during our twice annual round of medical visits here in San Antonio. All is well, and we are grateful.

We just don’t get views like this here, though. Washington’s waterways win.

Where to next? Ummmm, not sure yet! The roads are as wide open as our calendar, from late October until next spring, when we’ll return to Texas for more family time, more medical appointments, and two big graduations. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

2Q 2018     1Q 2018      4Q 2017        3Q 2017        2Q 2017        1Q2017        2016