WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2019

My Valentine’s Day surprise was the joyous discovery that we’d finally caught the rat that had been vexing us for 3 weeks and nearly 1000 miles. That story appears below, with pictures, but not of the actual corpse. I have my standards.

My birthday surprise was even better, and also involved rodents I did not get pictures of. We saw lots of mongooses in their natural habitat — in Hawaii.

That story’s here, and you’ll learn just how I found myself saying to a hotel clerk in Honolulu, “Well, I didn’t even know I was going to be here today…”
And yeah, I did laundry there too.

Here’s the summary of our 1st quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 4230

We started the new year in Pensacola, and then headed back to Palestine for the final round of work on the ranch (see 4Q2018). From there we went to Shreveport, then clockwise to Indiana, the DC area, the Atlanta area, the RVE Summit in Alabama, and back to Texas again, ending the quarter in Corpus Christi.
(Not all stops are shown, hence the discrepancy between my mileage count and Google’s.)

I covered Pensacola and Palestine in my 4th quarter 2018 post, so I’ll start with…

Shreveport, LA, Jan. 15 – Feb. 11: After a frenetic 4 months in Texas, we needed a place to hide out and just be us, before our scheduled RV service appointments in Indiana. We didn’t want to be too cold. We didn’t want to go too far out of the way. And we didn’t want to be in Texas anymore. Barksdale AFB Famcamp for the win! We’d spent a couple of quick overnights there in years past, and knew our stay would be quiet, safe, convenient and economical.

So much for that whole “not too cold” thing.
We tried, but Mary Jo still ended up developing a case of the frosties.
Did our level best to try all the foods Louisiana is famous for.
We went to Ralph & Kacoo’s for seafood po’ boys and gumbo, to Strawn’s for pie, and to Julie Anne’s Bakery for king cake.
I made my own Cajun 10-Bean & Sausage Soup with locally made products, and wow, was it tasty!
And since we were eating a lot of calories, we tried to burn some off too, while also supporting a local non-profit.
So yes, I’m still running! I haven’t made it to 10 miles, but I can run a 10K, and I’ve added FL, LA, IN, VA, AL and two Hawaiian islands to my list of “running states.”
Yay me!
Because I am like a moth to a flame when it comes to Peculiar Things and Random Goofballery, I had to have my picture taken here, at the corner of Highland & Stoner.
I’m still giggling.
Shreveport. Who knew?

Northern Indiana, Feb. 13-22: Service Appointment 1 was at MORryde in Elkhart, to have 4″ risers installed on the RV so that it would sit levelly while towing. Tim can give you the long, detailed explanation. I thought until we actually arrived that we were having something done to the truck, so I am really not a reliable source of information. Service Appointment 2 was at DRV in Howe, for our first round of warranty repairs on the new RV.

It was while parked for two nights in the MORryde garage that we finally caught The Stowaway Rat that had helped itself onboard in Shreveport.
We’re pretty sure it came up through that opening in the floor beneath our kitchen sink, where it left that tremendous mess.
It laughed in the face of every trap we set, even moving one of them to the base of the stairs one night to trap us.
It pushed aside widely touted deterrents like steel wool and fabric softener sheets, pooped in my kitchen, scritched around in the walls all night, and turned up its nose at several popular types of bait, but it ate my avocado.
That thing had to die.
And the next day, it did.
Hard.
The peanut butter it had been ignoring for weeks finally became tempting enough to taste.
SNAP!
Best. Valentine’s Day gift. Ever.
So yeah, you’d better believe that hole in the floor was on the list of fixits we supplied to our service team at DRV!

DC Area, Feb. 23 – March 3: Still cold. But worth it to witness the bat mitzvah of a dear friend’s daughter. Her mom and I have been friends since she was 13, so it was a full circle, full heart kind of milestone, and one I probably would have missed if Tim and I didn’t have the freedom to take our home with us wherever we want to go.

We’ve really got to get better at abiding by that “Follow 70 degrees” rule that most full-time RVers recommend.

Marietta, GA, but really Hawaii, March 4-17: You’ve probably already seen one of my social media posts or read my full length blog post about it, plus the little blurb above, so I’ll spare you yet another recap. Except for a few seconds of this guy.

Alohaaaaaaaaaa

Lake Guntersville State Park, AL, March 17-25: My own Tim the Tech Guy has teamed up with a Savvy Woman With An Idea to create a new RV navigation platform, and together they attended workshops at the 3rd annual RV Entrepreneur Summit to get the proverbial ball rolling.

You can watch for details and launch updates at Wanders!

NAS Corpus Christi, March 26 – April 1: Some RVing friends were parked in the area, so we hung out with them, and also got to spend time with our younger son and his girlfriend, who drove down from Austin; and have lunch with my brother and his kids, who drove over from Port Aransas.

Life is good …
… and we are grateful.
(Thanks for this sweet pic, Mark!)

Right now: We’re back at Kerrville-Schriener Park, one of our favorite places to stay when we need to run around central Texas for a while. We’ll also spend time in San Antonio, where we’ve got family, friends, and Fiesta to enjoy, and a round of medical and dental appointments to endure. I turned 50, and you know what that means. I’ll also be checking in with all my breast cancer docs, and hoping for the 5-Year All-Clear.

Plus, we’ll be celebrating two family graduations, Mother’s Day, and lots of birthdays, and those will keep us here until the end of May.

Where to next? By mid-June, we’ll head back to Indiana for our RV manufacturer’s club rally. 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.

Turning 50 was a bit of a surprise. As in, “Baby, pack a bag!”

I still have trouble believing this happened to me.

On March 4, we had just pulled into our RV site near Marrietta, GA — where I thought we’d be spending my birthday week — when Tim handed me a card.

I did as I was told, and packed the suggested items into my suitcase.
And it took me about an hour to make the attitude shift from control freak clenchy, “Oh shit. I am not in charge of this trip,” to realizing that I’d been given the gift of a burden lifted.
I was not in charge of this trip!

Our first stop was a hotel near the Atlanta airport, so I kind of knew we were flying somewhere the next morning, but he wouldn’t tell me where — or actually even admit that we were flying, not driving, to our destination.

My suspicions were confirmed. As we waited to board our 5:00 a.m. shuttle bus to ATL, Tim handed me my passport. The plot seriously thickened.

We checked in at the domestic terminal, and I obediently used my passport as ID, even though I thought we probably should have gone to International Departures. But remember, I was not in charge.

Then we headed to security, and Tim (who rarely bothers to read directional signs) got in the line designated for Sky Priority passengers. The hell???

“Um… Honey? We don’t even qualify as priority travelers on the road. This is not our line.”

“It is this time,” he said. “We’re flying first class.”

I made a squealing noise that I’m pretty sure only dogs could hear. I’d never flown first class! And that may have come up a time or two over the course of our marriage. Cough cough.

Spill it, sister. WHERE TO?

It was only when we checked in at the priority lounge that I learned that the passports were but a ruse. “Pre-boarding for your flight begins in about 30 minutes,” the attendant said. “Enjoy your trip to Hawaii.”

OMG. Hawaii??? We’re going to Hawaii???

I didn’t make the squealing noise again. I couldn’t. I’d lost my breath.

Hawaii had been a running joke between us for decades, each and every time we were asked if we’d been there. Tim had visited dozens of times — once as a child on a family vacation, and several times in his years of active duty as a Navy officer. But I’d never been there. He’d even spent our anniversary there once. But I’d never been there.

So this. was. huge.

We were in the priority lounge, it was not quite 6 a.m., and I’d just learned where we were going.
The details he managed to keep secret!
The multiple little white lies and deceptions it took to keep me in the dark!

But… hasn’t he done this before?

Yep. Some of our friends and family might remember that Tim also pulled off big surprises on my 30th and 40th birthdays, and are now wondering why I didn’t detect the pattern and see this one coming.

Short answer: I no longer needed the escape. 

In 1999, I was a stay-at-home mommy to a toddler and a preschooler. I needed an escape. So the man hired a limo — which he’d secretly won at a silent auction we’d both attended — to take us around the Baltimore-Annapolis area for a grand evening out. I was so clueless, that when it pulled up, I said, “Oooh, the people across the street must be going somewhere fancy tonight!” Duh.

In 2009, I was juggling two part-time jobs in Norfolk, VA, while also wrangling the needs of a tween and a teenager. I needed an escape. So the man flew my mother in (I thought that was the surprise), threw a dinner party in our home (then I thought that was the surprise), and presented me with two tickets for a weeklong trip to The Bahamas. That was the surprise and the reason my mother was there. She kept the boys! 

But now, in 2019, we live simply, we travel where we want to, we work when we want to, and the boys are grown and flown. I really didn’t need an escape from this reality, nor was I expecting one. At all. Especially not one this freakin’ big!

And when you got there?

Here’s one of my favorite parts: When Tim planned this 10-day trip, the only arrangements he booked in advance were our round trip airfare between the mainland and Honolulu, and our first two nights of lodging. That’s it.

He wanted me to be able to point at a map or guidebook and say, “Let’s go there!,” even if that meant flying to another island. Which we did.

There were times when we didn’t know where we’d be sleeping that night, where our next meal was coming from, or where we could do a load of laundry.

Luckily, the thrill of uncertainty has a way of nourishing my spirit, so I was okay with all of that. Our lodging ended up spanning a wide variety of options: 2 airport hotels, 1 luxury military resort, 1 no-frills military campground, and 1 Airbnb.

And that is how “Emily’s Hawaii 5-0” happened. Here are a few of the pics, in roughly chronological order.

First stop, the island of Oahu, where we stayed at the Hale Koa resort, visited the USS Arizona Memorial
… climbed to the top of the Diamond Head Crater
… enjoyed poke in several forms …
… and attended a luau, at which Glen Madeiros was the host (yes, the “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” guy from the 80’s).
He asked all those celebrating March birthdays to stand, and that is how that Glenn Madeiros ended up singing Happy Birthday to me this year.

On the 4th day, we flew to the Big Island, where we rented a car so that we could see as much of it as possible.

We spent two nights at the Kiluea Military Camp, inside Volcanoes National Park
… and we spent a full day exploring it.
Parts of the park are still closed (or just gone) after last year’s eruption and earthquakes. We were told that this view of the Kilauea crater is vastly different than it was prior to May of 2018.
At the time of our visit, there was no moving (molten) lava on the island. The solidified stuff is still pretty cool, though. No pun intended.
We stared at this marvel too.
We then headed southward toward the tip of the island, and took in a tour of a coffee plantation
… admired the sea turtles on the black sand beach at Punalu’u …
Bloop!
… and made the unpleasant 5-mile round trip hike in high winds and blasting sand just to set foot on …
… one of only four green sand beaches in the world.
Oh, and Tim stood at what his GPS indicated was the southernmost point of the island, which makes it the southernmost point in the US. It’s unmarked, but a short hike from the end of the aptly named South Point Road will get you there.
From there, we went to our Airbnb rental in Kona. It came with a dog!
We later hiked down to the Pololu Valley and beach
And also spent some time just lying on a beach and playing in the waves. A sea turtle swam with us. I may need a new tattoo…
And then there were the sunsets. Ooooh, the sunsets.

And now for the bad news: Honey, I’ve found where I want to live. Mahalo!


Author’s note: This is my first post using the newly and extensively upgraded version of our blogging platform, so things might not work like they used to for you, any more than they did for me. If you take the time to let me know of any issues, I promise I’ll do my part to figure out how to fix them.