Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Ain't Dead Yet

Wow, 4 months since my last post. Well, in case you have wondered - "I ain't dead yet"! We have had a whirlwind 4 months, traveling across country becoming residents of South Dakota, exploring the Black Hills, and meeting up with friends gathering in Denver. We also spent a month in Santa Fe, which was a real treat, and ended up in Yuma, AZ for the winter months. Living life didn't seem to leave a lot of blog time, but now I find that I miss the connection of so many friends in Blogville, and want to say "hello".

Phil, Hanni and I are loving life in our little RV. I did find that I was ready to sit still for awhile, and am glad we reserved 5 months in Yuma. It has given me a chance to reconnect with myself - if that makes sense. It seems that when we were constantly on the go, we were always looking for the next campground, gas station and grocery store. And, once we got to our destination, we were tourists trying to pack in as much as we could in the short time that we were there. I have always preferred living like the locals rather than like a tourist.

I have had enough time on the road to know my priorities. I need access to good food, good weather, and good campgrounds. That sounds easy enough, but it's not always a given. I loved being in Santa Fe, NM for a month. Santa Fe has awesome farmers markets. We would go each Saturday and load up on roasted green chiles, breads, apples, lettuces, tomatoes - beautiful produce! For those of you that don't know me well, I am an old Alabama girl whose roots are small family farmers that knew the value of "poke sallet" and "turnip greens". I, too, spent several years gardening and spent lots of time squirrelling away food for winter. Access to good food is important enough to me that I know that I don't want to be too far from fresh local organic fruits and vegetables. Yuma has acres and acres of broccoli, kale, and lettuces. There are buses pulling "portable johnny's" with loads of Mexicans that come across the border each day to work the fields. But, most of the produce is shipped out of Yuma. There are a few roadside stands but their produce is not necessarily from Yuma. Even the local grocery stores don't support local farmers. I get the feeling that the local farms are so big that they don't need the support of their town. To be fair, there are a few citrus farms here where we can buy oranges, lemons and grapefruit. And, there are date farms that have the most wonderful medjool dates I have ever eaten. But, that is about it. So, I recently made a 175 mile trip to San Diego to Whole Foods for a grocery run. It was worth the trip!

As for the weather, we try to avoid the extremes. That is why we are in Yuma for the winter. Almost every day has been sunny. The wind is not excessive, and there is very little rain and low humidity. The nights are cool and the days warm up. Our plans are to spend next winter in Florida, and I am hopeful that we enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed the weather here in Yuma.

As for the campgrounds, we really like the developed campgrounds. As long as we have the means, my preference is full hookups. We can go a week without hookups, but I prefer not to have to worry about it. The campground here, Yuma Palms RV Resort, makes up for the lack of access to good food. It has been a great place to stay for five months. Their amenities are awesome, from 2 heated salt water pools, 2 hot tubs, zumba, pilates, yoga, tennis, volleyball, pickle ball, cards, shuffleboard, power walking, pottery classes - you name it - they have it. And, everyones favorite - Saturday Beer Bash with music, free beer and burgers. We have done it all and love it. Even Hanni enjoys the dog parks and walking paths.

Phil and I are very happy and are definitely loving life and the fulltiming lifestyle. This is the year that we both enter a new decade, as we turn 60. We decided that life is so good, that we want to make it last as long as we can, maybe even 30 more years! So we are trying to be as active and healthy as possible. The social aspect of the RV lifestyle seems to revolve around alcohol. People gather as early as 4:00 for happy hour, which is a great way to get to know people but not so great for maintaining weight. So, we stopped drinking. And, after seeing "Forks Over Knives", a documentary about the clinical aspects of the typical American diet, we became vegan. We gave away all of our meat and cheese. We did this with two other couples, which made us feel a little less crazy, I guess! So, our diet is totally plant-based whole foods. No milk, cheese, meat, fish, butter, nor eggs. We were both overweight and have lost and continue to lose everyday. And, we feel better!

So, we ain't dead yet! We are very much alive and loving life. I am anxious to poke around and see what my fellow bloggers have been up to.....I hope it is all good!!

New Year's Eve 2011
Happy Trails,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

We got up at 3:00AM Saturday morning, and drove from Santa Fe to Albuquerque for the 40th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It was amazing! We arrived in time for the "Morning Glow" of the Dawn Patrol. These 12 balloonists launch first, to check the weather conditions.

One reason Albuquerque mornings are ideal for ballooning, are the cool Albuquerque morning temperatures in October and the Albuquerque box. The "box" refers to the wind patterns that balloonists use to launch, catch the southerly winds, climb higher, catch the northern winds, descend, then repeat the box or land nearby.

As the sun began to rise, the balloons were launched in waves. There were 354 launched in one hour, breaking the world record. I don't know the exact number of balloons that were launched that morning, but there were more than 500.

There were "special shapes".....

It was a great day! If you have never been to the balloon festival - add it to your bucket list!

Happy Trails!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blue Smoke!!!!

Ok, we all have favorite things, and I love sharing my favorites with my friends. I love to buy food produced by local farmers, wherever local may be, and that is one thing I look forward to as we travel across the country. I love anything and everything handcrafted: pottery, art, clothing, specialty breads, cheeses, sausages, grass-fed beef, and eggs from happy chickens.

One of my favorites, that I don’t want to run out of, is Blue-Smoke coffee, the hand-roasted coffee that I have bought in Chattanooga for years. Kevin, the Roaster, has become a personal friend. I believe in his mission. He was employed in the corporate world, but his heart was in building a business around really good roasted coffee. So, he followed his dream. He uses only the best organic, shade-grown coffee beans, which are certified “fair trade”. He hand roasts only a few pounds at a time, and keeps a generous supply of good coffee at Greenlife (Whole Foods Market), Earth Fare, and New Moon Gallery in Chattanooga.

Kevin, is very generous, and donates portions of his sales to environmental and humanitarian causes. He is a kind person, and runs the type of business that I like to support. The fact that his coffee is unbelievably awesome is an added benefit!

Before leaving Chattanooga, for our great adventure, I stocked up, and felt I had enough to last awhile. But, with our delay, I began to get nervous. So, I ordered five pounds, and received my delivery today!

The t-shirt was a bon voyage gift for our journey. Blue Smoke ships coffee all over the country, and has quite the following of very perky customers! His website is If you decide to give his coffee a try, beware, you will be hooked!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The World’s Largest Treehouse; New Friends; Wire Trees

We are still in Crossville, TN, awaiting the completion of my dental work. In a couple of days we should be ready to hitch-up and head off to continue our journey of living and loving life. I loved Bill and Nancy’s comment ……..” you just weren't done doing what you need to do where you are doing it!!”. I think they were right. We have had more time to explore this area, and to spend with Bill and Gloria, our new friends that we met here at the campground.

We visited the “World’s Largest Treehouse” which is in Crossville. The treehouse stands 10-stories high and is roughly 10,000 square feet. It is built by a minister who had a “divine vision” to build the structure which is mainly supported by a single large tree that makes up the foundation. He has been working on the project for 16 years and has cost around $12,000. He has used only recycled lumber, most of which was given to him.

While there, we spotted a bullfrog – notice the feet hanging out of his mouth? He was eating another frog! He sat along the edge of the pond a very long time, trying to digest his lunch.

Our new friends, Bill and Gloria, left the campground over the weekend, as his Dad was in hospice and not expected to live much longer. We talked to them yesterday, and he did pass away on Sunday. We wanted to do something special for them, as a token of our appreciation for sharing all of their experiences and knowledge of our new home. They have the same brand of RV and truck that we have, and he is a retired Air Force mechanic with lots of good habits!

During his college years, Phil made wire trees to sell for extra money. They were purchased by specialty shop owners, and sold all over the country. In the last few years, he has made only a few and those were given to friends and family. We wanted to do something special for Bill and Gloria, and I suggested Phil twist a tree in memory of Bill’s Dad, and as a reminder of the value of love and friendship. We searched for the perfect rock, which we found in the campground. The rock is “Crab Orchard Stone” which is indigenous to this part of Tennessee. The sandstone is sought after around the world for its durability and color. Here is the wire tree that we will pass along to Bill and Gloria.

And, another picture of the beautiful stone from the Stone Museum in downtown Crossville. 

Life is good, and Hanni is happy!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Needed a Sugar Daddy

I am learning that fulltimers who make reservations for the future, will likely change and/or cancel them. Yesterday, I discovered that my dental bridge was loose on one of the “anchor” teeth. I knew this had to be fixed, and better now, (only 81 miles from my dentist at no charge), than on down the road, (with an unknown dentist and thousands of dollars). So, I had a lovely drive back to Chattanooga today, to my dentist, Dr. Gallien. The best fix was to hopefully remove the bridge intact and glue it back. My dentist took one look, probed around a little, and told me to go find a Sugar Daddy, and come back. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find a Sugar Daddy. So, I settled for a Jolly Rancher! But, even that didn’t help, so the dentist had to cut the bridge to remove it from my anchor tooth.

I had a chance to see my good friend Terri again while in Chattanooga. We had lunch together and laughed at my predicament, as I tried to pull my bridge out with a Jolly Rancher.

So, long story short, we have a two to three week wait for the new bridge, before we can head north toward South Dakota. I was pretty disappointed, as I am very anxious to get on with our journey. Then I realized that we are still on our journey, even in Crossville, TN. Now we have more time to explore the area. And, we will have more time to spend with Bill and Gloria, a really nice couple that are staying at our campground. They have a wealth of knowledge on routes and campgrounds in the West, since they winter in Yuma, AZ. They have an RV like ours, and have taught us so much about the operation and maintenance that it has been like having a personal trainer for RV’ing!

I think it is important to remember that things can and probably will happen on the road such as, sickness, break-downs, dental issues, and pet issues. When they happen, we will deal with those things the same as we did when we lived in one place.

Life is good!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our Day Exploring Fairfield Glade, TN

Phil makes the best breakfasts! I have always thought that the best part of camping out is breakfast. Granted, our tent is hard, but we are at a campground!

After a very relaxing morning, enjoying the serene lake view, we were ready to explore the Crossville area. We had heard that there is a Wednesday Farmer’s Market in Fairfield Glade, so we headed in that direction. Fairfield Glade is located in the Cumberland Plateau. At 2000’ elevation, it is on the highest point between the Rocky and Smokey Mountains. That’s why it is so nice and cool here, and there seems to always be a slight breeze – very nice weather. Fairfield Glade has built itself up to be a golfer’s retirement haven. We don’t golf, but the courses are beautiful.

We were early for the Farmer’s Market, so we visited the Art Guild at Fairfield Glade and caught the end of a juried show of local artists. Still with time to spare, we stumbled upon a putt-putt golf course and Phil challenged me to 18 holes. He won. The course was set in the woods, and was a very pleasant way to pass an hour.

Then, it was off to the Farmer’s Market. I had plans for using up some goat cheese and tomatoes that I had, so I needed fresh basil. (Thanks, Lisa and Terri, for getting me hooked on Bruschetta.) We also picked up some beautiful pole beans, onions, lettuce, cayenne peppers, cage-free eggs, and freshly dug potatoes. I already miss the access to good organically grown veggies that are so readily available in Chattanooga, but will settle for locally grown, freshly picked.

We made a quick stop at the Fairfield Glade Conference Center to get information on the area. We loaded up with ideas on things to do the rest of the week, and over the Fourth of July.

Back at the RV, we spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hammock. We met our neighbors, Gloria and John, a couple from Illinois that have retired in the Smokey Mountains. They are considering a move to the Villages in Florida. After happy hour, spent feeding the ducks and enjoying the Bruschetta, we made a nice dinner of grilled sirloin fajitas.

Phil picked up True Grit at Redbox, so we spent the evening watching Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges. Yes, I cried and laughed, which makes for a good movie.

Life is good and Hanni is happy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Chattanooga Departure; Spring Lake RV Resort, Crossville TN

We have finally departed Chattanooga. After months of preparation for fulltiming, we have accomplished our goals and are on our road to life’s adventures! Before leaving, we had many of our friends come by to see our new digs, share barbeque and hugs. It was a wonderful gathering and send-off. As a whole, our Chattanooga friends are some of the most remarkable, happy, generous, caring, people that live life to the fullest. We have been truly blessed to have such beautiful people around us during the ten years that we called Chattanooga “home”.

Most of our friends had never seen a home that looks like a “transformer” and were very interested in our plans for life on the road. It really is odd that these slides all suck in to the width of a lane on the highway.

It took some doing to secure everything for the first trip since we have moved all of our “stuff” into our home. I am sure we probably have more than we need and will lighten our load as we travel across the country.

Early Tuesday, our dear friend Terri came by to see us off and for last minute hugs. I am still amazed that Phil has the hitching-up part down so well. He backed the truck up with the kingpin dead center in the hitch the first time, without needing to make adjustments! Terri and I were there to cheer him on and pump up his male self-esteem. (I think a person needs that if he is about to pull a rig for the first time that happens to contain all, (well, most) of our worldly possessions.) Just as it started raining, we pulled out for our journey! Terri followed us out of the campground and until the divide in the interstate took us in different directions. What a nice gesture that she took time to see us off so early in the morning!

We headed to Knoxville so that RV’s For Less could install a bed cover and front mud flaps on our truck, and to diagnose our bedroom A/C problems. The A/C compressor is toast, and will need to be replaced, which means that we have a change of plans on our first day out, to return to Knoxville next week to get the new A/C installed.

Finally, we were headed to our campground in Crossville, Spring Lake RV Resort. The office personnel were very friendly, and offered to help us back into our campsite. The campground is immaculate, although I haven’t checked out the bathrooms or showers. The owners live onsite, and pride themselves with having a quiet, clean, adult campground. There are 62 full hook-up sites. The daily discounted rate is $29.50 per night. We are backed up to a beautiful spring-fed lake. It is smooth as glass and very serene. The campsites are gravel, but very level. There is a swing, nice grill, and table and chairs on a concrete patio on our site.

We settled in, and then took a walk around the campground. There were a few folks fishing in the lake, and a family of ducks enjoying their habitat. Hanni is happy and enjoys watching the ducks.....They have a “catch and release” policy, which honestly is a little disturbing to me….poor fish. One little girl had caught a catfish, which, according to her grandfather was about 20” long and had three hooks in him. He removed all of the hooks and put him back in the lake. Phil said he is getting a fishing pole today and plans to catch that fish.

After a restful evening, we called it a day and slept with the windows open. The weather is beautiful and is suppose to be sunny and bearable summer temps throughout our week in Crossville. Life is good!