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!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Little Home on Wheels and Our Monster Truck; Moving In; Retirement; Family Visits; South Dakota Bound!

A lot has happened since my last post, as I have been very busy getting settled into our new home, officially retiring, and getting ready to begin our journey across the country.

All went well with the delivery of the RV and truck. We were scheduled to take delivery with the RV in Knoxville (RV’s 4 Less) and our truck had arrived in Nashville by train. But, on the way to pick up our RV, our salesman (Richard Taylor of Tilley-Lane Dodge in Lenoir City, TN) called and said “thank you God and pass the butter, your truck is here”. (I love the South!) They were doing the pre-delivery and we could pick the truck up later in the day. We did our walk-through of our Mobile Suites, which is really nice. There was a small glitch in the Corian countertop, so we filed a warranty claim for replacement. Other than that, everything was perfect. As for our truck, I never thought of a new truck as a work of art, but the new Ram Laramie Longhorn is beautiful. Big, but beautiful!

We stayed two nights in the lot so that we could check out the systems and make sure our questions were answered. After our instruction on hitching and unhitching, and towing / backing a fifth-wheel, we headed back to Chattanooga. Phil drove the big rig, and I followed in our old truck. When we arrived at our campground, I had totally forgotten everything I had been taught about unhitching! Luckily, Phil was on top of it, and the couple parked in the campsite next to us had a Mobile Suites just like ours, so they filled in where I was totally blank!

We began going through our storage unit, and moving in the things that we knew we would want in our Fiver. Phil brought load after load of boxes, and we began filling drawers, closets, cabinets and storage bins. We were amazed that the Fiver holds so much! We found more “stuff” to take to Goodwill and to family. All of our personal belongings are in our RV, truck and a 10x10 storage unit. That feels very freeing.

Next was retirement! Whoo hoo! Although I had already finished my project, Phil continued working until end of May. We went to the office to say our goodbyes, and were treated to a wonderful lunch, gifts and good wishes from co-workers. It was very touching. Phil was a co-owner, and founding partner of the company. The cake was really cute with the RV, and had originally said “Happy Retirement Bill and Deb”, but his partner had it corrected to “Phil and Deb”. We thought it would have been funny to leave it, as if though after eighteen years, no one knew his name! It feels very strange to know that we have volunteered to have our income stopped, and, frankly, a little scary. But, the freedom of having our time as our own is awesome. The lack of stress has to add years to our lives. I feel very fortunate that we were able to retire.  

We visited with our families in the Atlanta area, and picked up our granddaughter to spend a few days with us in Chattanooga. We took her to The Discovery Museum and spent lots of time with her at the pool and playground here at the campground. She also helped Granddaddy wash his new truck! Addison is a very happy two-year old, and is a joy to everyone blessed with her presence. We look forward to lots of fun times with her in the future, as we entertain her in our little house on wheels!

We used our mail forwarding services, Dakota International Services, to register our RV and Truck in South Dakota. They registered the vehicles, and then mailed the tags to us. Love it! (I chose them because they will open and scan our mail, if we ask them to, eliminating the need to forward the mail to us.) We also have health insurance, RV and auto insurance secured as residents of South Dakota. All we lack is getting our drivers licenses and registering to vote – and we will be official South Dakotans.

Next on the agenda is to head to South Dakota! We plan to leave Chattanooga June 28th – in less than one week! Our plans at this point are to return to RV’s 4 Less in Knoxville for our warranty work, and to check our 2nd AC unit in our bedroom, which is not working. Then we will spend a week in Crossville, TN at Spring Lake RV Resort. Next will be a week at Hillman Ferry Campground at Land Between the Lakes. Then, we plan to stop in Missouri and visit with fellow fulltimers Bob and Janet as we push forward to South Dakota.

We are very excited to finally get on the road after months of preparation. It is amazing how everything has just sort of fallen into place: the sale of the condo, turnover of the old RV, truck and car at just the right time, retirement, and obtaining private health insurance. Life is good!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kitty Update; RV/Truck Update; Nearing the end of my Fifties; Learning to Knit

My kitty would have been 16 years old yesterday, and he was down to less than five pounds. The decision was very tough, as it was not an emergency situation, and he still had an appetite. But, he was constantly thirsty, due to the kidney failure. I realized that I was only prolonging the inevitable with continuing to give him subcutaneous fluids. And the last thing I wanted was for him to suffer needlessly. His last ride was in the truck, looking out the window with his little fur blowing in the wind. He loved riding in the truck, and it always reminded me of "Toonces the Driving Cat" from SNL. We buried him with the ashes of his littermate, Mr. Buck. I loved, loved, loved those two cats and they went through so many life changes with me. I miss them both very much.

Our RV is scheduled for inspection by the dealer this week! Whoo-hoo! And, the truck is on the way, and is scheduled for delivery in one week. We almost didn't get the color we wanted because of the tsunami. The pigments for the paint came from Japan. Who would have thought? So, we are hoping, hoping, hoping that this time next week we will be moving into the RV and readying the truck with the hitch. This little 23 foot motorhome is tight, but we have managed fine. I have to say - I am so excited!! We still plan to hit the road July 5th. Whoo hoo!!

I had a birthday yesterday, and now I am on the last year of my Fifties. Wow, time flies! Phil gave me a hat that one would expect a Ram owner to wear. It was sort of a joke, but I really like the hat! It was the coldest birthday that I can remember - low 60's in mid-May is not the norm for Tennessee. We had a wonderful dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant, then stopped to pick up a Krystal Kreme donut and a birthday candle so that I could Skype my granddaughter Addison and have her "blow" out my candle. She is so cute! It was a good day. 

Phil only has two more weeks before retirement! I am taking knitting classes, as I have always liked needlework. I have crocheted, embroidered and done needlepoint, but never knitted - until now. I really like it. My first project is a neckwarmer. I made it from baby alpaca, and it is super soft. And, I am adding two big buttons. I'll post a picture as soon as it is finished.

Life is good!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crowded Nest; Truck, RV and Kitty Update; RV-Dreams Rally; and Tornadoes

Wow, busy times. We are still waiting on our NEW TRUCK and NEW RV. Our truck has a supplier issue, in that the seats will not be available until mid-May. Yuk! Our RV is finished, and probably already in Tennessee, but will need to be inspected by the dealer before delivery to us. Believe me, the nest is a little crowded. We are still in our 23' motorhome, with the dog and the cat. Needless to say, we are ready to move into the much larger 350 sq ft space!!

My kitty, Paleo, is still hanging in there with his kidney failure. We have learned to give him fluids under the skin to rehydrate him, and give him softeners for his poopy problems. Seems kidney failure contributes to dehydration and constipation. Poor kitty. He is one old cat, and sometimes loses his balance, or wakes himself up nodding during sleep. He is very skinny, which also goes along with the disease. I dread the day I am faced with the decision to let him go, however, I don't want him to suffer.

We attended the RV-Dreams Spring Rally in Sieverville, TN, which was awesome and far exceeded our expectations! Howard and Linda Payne really know how to bring people together with a common goal of fulltiming. We had seminars on Choosing an RV, Choosing State of Domicile, Emotional Impact of Making Decision to Fulltime, Costs of Fulltiming, Internet on the Road, Boondocking, Choosing a Campground, Workkamping, Packing the RV, and a session on making the trek to Alaska. It was great to meet other fulltimers and wanna-be fulltimers and see that they are not crazy, lazy, nor broke, but are instead people that want to see this beautiful country and experience all that there is to offer. We met so many interesting RV'ers and were invited into their homes during "Open Rigs", shared wonderful meals during "Pot Luck" and "Chili-Cookoff", and shared laughs during the "Ice-breakers" and the "70's Theme Party".  We made lots of new friends, that we plan to stay in touch with and hopefully meet on the road in the future.

We were very fortunate to have survived the deadly tornado outbreak on April 27th which killed at least 350 people, mainly in my home-state of Alabama. The hardest hit in our area was Ringgold, GA which is 10 miles from our campground. We skirted tornadoes for 15 hours, from 8:00am until 11:00pm. The bathhouse in our campground is small, and many trees lie on the western side, so I did not feel the structure would survive a bad tornado. So, we left our RV early Wednesday morning to go to a friend's house in Chattanooga, which has a basement. We didn't make it before the first tornado hit the area. We quickly pulled over and ran into a CVS Pharmacy about the time the power went off in the store. Thankfully, the pharmacist said we could bring our dog inside, as I know she would have been freaked in the truck. When the weather calmed, we went back to the campground to catch the weather. More tornado activity was on the way, so we headed South to Fort Oglethorpe, GA and went into a Costco so that we could watch the weather reports. I talked to a friend of mine who lives outside of Chattanooga, and she said that the first round of tornadoes took out 4 huge trees in her yard and flattened everything in her yard except for a St. Francis statue that we had given her during our downsizing. She was pretty freaked. We then decided to go further South, to Dalton to ride out round three, which promised to be the worst yet. We went to a restaurant bar and was there when Ringgold was hit, and we heard it had been totally wiped out. Our waitress tried to get in touch with her husband in Ringgold, but all of the Verizon phones were down. We had AT&T, and she tried on our phone, but she could not reach him and needless to say, she was very worried about him and her little girl. Another waitress called her sister who was at work at a Ruby Tuesday in Ringgold. Her sister answered the phone begging for help as the roof had caved in and they were trapped. They were then disconnected. Ruby Tuesday was flattened. Seeing these ladies concerned for the welfare of their families was heartbreaking. The restaurant closed early and we went across the street to a hotel lobby to wait until all was clear to go back to the RV, not knowing what we would find at the campground. Finally, the weather cleared and we headed north to return to our campground. As we passed the I-75 exit to Ringgold, traffic going South was totally blocked, and backed up for miles and miles and miles. Two huge tractor-trailers had been caught in the tornado and their twisted remnants and contents were spilled onto the interstate. Metal signs were wrapped around trees, and naked tree trunks could be seen from the interstate. The Ringgold exit was closed to all but emergency vehicles, and they were not letting anyone in. I thought of those poor waitresses that would not be able to find out if their families were safe. We finally got back to our campground around 11:00pm. Our little RV was safe, and all was quiet. A couple of RV's were damaged by fallen trees and branches, but our campground was spared the devastation. That was one day I, alone with many others will never forget. I hope the waitresses found their loved ones safe.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day Eighteen - And, Re-Retired

It's been awhile since I have blogged. We have been fulltiming for eighteen days, and not much has been going on other than work, rain, and more work and rain. But, today the sun was out, the sky was clear and it was my last day of work! The project that I jumped back in to help out Mr. Phil, is wrapping up. And, the best news of all is that Mr. Phil announced his retirement, effective May 31st. So, we will be FREE, AT LAST!

More time to spend walking the dog....

We are beginning to make our plans for the upcoming summer, fall and winter. I am finding that it takes a lot of research to plan a cross-country trip that will last nine months. Our trip as planned, totals 2986 miles - one way! I think our first stop will be Land Between the Lakes, KY for a couple of weeks, then on to South Dakota to get our drivers licenses and become official residents! We will take the time to explore Custer, SD, then down to Denver. I would love to go to a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Then, it's on to Sante Fe, and it looks like it will be in time for the Harvest Festival in early October. Next will be Painted Desert and Petrified Forest near Albuquerque, then Prescott, Jerome and Sedona, AZ. Then, we will probably settle down in the Desert Hot Springs area for the winter. I have always wanted to see the desert in the spring. That's as far out as we are planning for now, we will have the winter to make plans for next year. If anyone has suggestions of "must see", "must do" and "don't miss" please let me know.

Photo of Tennessee River, Market Street Bridge and Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga

I am sure there is an art to planning these trips. I am finding that we know that we want to go from point A (Chattanooga) to B (South Dakota) and end up at C (Desert Hot Springs), so my method is to just see what is going on about the time we hit the other points, and try to time it accordingly. I think that if we make reservations for the places that we want to visit for an extended period, we will be able to find stop-over campgrounds on the fly. I sure hope so! How do other RV'ers plan trips?

Me and My Cute Dog checking out the Delta Queen docked in Chattanooga

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day Two - Nesting

Last night, Phil took a picture of me sitting in our little motorhome, blogging away. Yesterday was moving day, and I was one tired girlie.

I remember playing in my cousin's "playhouse" when I was a youngster. I loved visiting her so that we could play "house". That's how I have always felt in my little RV.  I enjoy washing the dishes, tidying things up, cooking - and just hanging out. When we first got our RV, we parked it at our house. Many times, I would go outside and just sit in it, and sometimes sleep in it!  

I think the RV seems more manageable than a house. It is so much smaller, and there are fewer places to look when something has been misplaced. And, that happens a lot!

Today was spent nesting. I love nesting! I organized the cabinets, the closets and the drawers. It was a beautiful day and I did spend some time sitting in the sun with my Cute Cat Paleo. Phil finished up at the condo, and locked it up for the last time.

Closing is tomorrow, and we will be without a "stick and brick" house. And it feels good.....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Official Fulltimers!

Day One, which was also moving day. And we are tired puppies. Tonight will be our first night at the campground, where we will stay until we get everything settled. We are in our little Winnebago View, which will be our home until the NEW FIVER and NEW TRUCK arrive. We are camped at Best Holiday Trav-L-Park in Chattanooga, which is where we own a condo, for one more day.

Sold my car yesterday, a cute little Audi convertible that I have had for almost 8 years. The buyers are very good friends, Geoff and Amanda. They are very excited to get the car, and that makes me really happy.

Tomorrow will be spent nesting in the Winnebago - something I love doing. Mr. Paleo is snug as a bug in the front seat in his carrier. I am giving him water with electrolytes to help with the potassium loss from the kidney failure. I also picked up sweet potato and winter squash baby food to mix with his food. He seems to feel ok - he just looks so skinny with his new haircut.

So, let's just say that it has been a wild ride. Hopefully, soon, the pace will slow and we can settle in to a more relaxed lifestyle.

Thanks to my blog buds for seeing me through the craziness.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Flowers and a Haircut

These flowers were delivered recently, from a dear friend who knew that life for us has been like a roller-coaster lately. The flowers have been a reminder, amid the "estate of confusion" that lots of beauty and good times are ahead.

And, speaking of delivering flowers, this morning, I delivered flowers to an employee in my neighborhood post office. I was sort of, well, let's say "not very nice" on the phone with her a couple days ago, and I knew that I owed her an apology. As I posted before, I have been darn stressed-out over details, and thought I had considered everything regarding my mail. But when she said that the post office could not hold my mail for me to pick up, until we are ready to hit the road, I sort of went "postal". Later, I felt really bad about being so short. I am sure that I just passed my stress on to her like a sick virus. I knew that I could always get Mr. Phil to go and get that post office box, and I would not have to face her. I didn't know her, and she didn't know me, but I had to make amends. When I walked into the post office with flowers, and asked if she had dealt with a really irate customer recently about mail forwarding, she laughed and said "you didn't have to do that". I told her that "yes, I did". I apologized, and told her everything that has been going on, and she was unbeliveably helpful. She even gave me butterfly stickers to put on my po box so that I wouldn't have to remember the number and could quickly spot it in the sea of boxes!  It feels so much better to bring joy in someone's day instead of stress.

Now for the haircut. Not me - my cat. Paleo is almost 16 years old, and is a mix of Manx and Himalayan. His hair gets matted, and he does not tolerate brushing. So, in preparation for our new adventures, I thought he would be much happier with a new cut. 

Ok, don't laugh at him! He is thinking that he looks very dapper with his new lions cut. He is known as a "stumpy" in the Manx world, as he has a nub of a tail. His brother, Bucky, who went to "Rainbow Bridge" last year, was a "rumpy", as he had notta for a tail. When Bucky got his haircut, I always had them leave him a little puff of fur at his tail, because I felt he experienced "tail envy" seeing Paleo with a tail and all. He always hissed at Paleo after they got haircuts.
I think Paleo felt he had posed enough, and decided to move on to more important things.
I did get the news at the Vet today that his blood work indicates that he is in moderate stage of kidney failure. He is a really good cat and I hate to see him deterioate.  But at least he will spend his last few months/years doing something he loves - traveling in the RV. He loves sitting out in his crate at campgrounds, birdwatching and sunning.

Happy Trails,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three more days and details, details, and more details......

Three more nights and we are officially fulltimers. I am having to quickly decide our state of domicile, who will handle our mail-forwarding, how we will access our money while on the road, get quotes on auto insurance, and consider health insurance when we retire. It has been crazy!

State of domicile: I certainly see why it is hard to say one shoe fits all....everyone has to consider their own situation. As I posted previously, Tennessee makes it very hard for us to remain a "resident" if we only have a non-residential address such as a mail-forwarding service. However, Texas, Florida and South Dakota are happy for you to call their state "home". We decided that South Dakota will be our new "home". And, our first trip when we leave Tennessee, will be to head out to South Dakota and become legal. We already live in a state that has no income taxes, but Tennessee taxes interest and dividends, and South Dakota does not. And sales tax on our NEW TRUCK and NEW RV will only be 3%. And, the automobile insurance rates are among the lowest in the country. Wow, I have always been a Southerner - now I will be a South Dakotan!

Mail forwarding: I thought I would be able to have the post office hold my mail and that I could just pick it up periodically, while we are still in Tennessee. Oh, no....that would be too easy. Since someone else will inherit our address with their purchase of the condo, their mail would be held, too. So, we can't do that. I think I will open a post office box here, and have my mail forwarded to that box until we leave town. Then, I can do a change of address to the South Dakota mail forwarding service. More details....

Getting money out of and into our bank:  Once we give up a residential address, we will not be able to open a bank account due to the Patriot Act. We have bank accounts, but they are not "nationwide" banks that I will find on the road to go and make a deposit or withdrawal. So, tomorrow, I will open a bank account with Charles Schwab, which will reimburse ATM fees charged by other banks. And, I can transfer money online, between banks. More details....

Auto Insurance: As soon as the NEW TRUCK and NEW RV is delivered, we have to be ready to insure them, with our new South Dakota address. That will be a few weeks, but I thought it best to do the legwork while making the state of domicile decision. More details....

Health Insurance: This won't be needed until after we retire, but I wanted to know my options as a resident of South Dakota. Knowing that we will be traveling, we wanted to make sure that our health insurance is also recognized nationwide. We know we will go for a High-deductible HSA insurance policy, but wanted to make sure that we are not "out of network" if we are not in the state of South Dakota. I learned that the Blue Cross Blue Shield products do not offer good coverage for travelers, because it is made up of several companies....BCBS of Tennessee, BCBS of Alabama, Wellmark, etc. I spoke with United Healthcare, and I can go to any Provider that has a contract with United Healthcare no matter where they are. So, I could keep my current physician here in Tennessee, or establish a new physician in South Dakota, or Arizona, wherever. They would be considered in network if they are contracted with United Healthcare.

Ok, I have had to cram my head with details in a very short period of time. Sure wish that RV Dreams Rally had been last month instead of next month! To the OLD FULLTIMERS out there - please, do I have it totally screwed up, or am I on the right track? Have I forgotten anything?

Oh, we have started planning our first trip in our NEW RV and our NEW TRUCK. We plan to stick to the max of 300 mile / 5 hour limit per day, so our first stop looks like it will be Land of the Lakes in Kentucky. We may spend a couple of weeks there, on our way to our new "home" in South Dakota. The next big decision will be where to spend the Winter.....

Happy Trails,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eight Days!

Unbelievably hectic. Friends have been dropping by to pick up the items that they bought from our sale. One week ago today, I sent to friends that live locally, an email with a link to pictures of the things we were plannig to sell. I put sticky notes with a price on items that we didn't plan to store nor take with us on our new adventures. Folks started coming by and scooped up almost everything! It was awesome. We even sold our truck and car!

Our new truck and RV are on order, and we will live in our little Winnebago until the new fifth wheel comes in. We have been enjoying our friends coming by and picking-up their new purchases (free movers!). When we come back to visit, we can see our stuff at our friends houses! We had our local auction company pick up things that didn't sell, our dining table and chairs (lovingly covered with organic fair-trade coffee bean burlap bags), an antique sideboard, a few Persian rugs, and a couple of side tables. This weekend, it's more packing, and next weekend, we are outta' here!

It has been a little sad, looking around at the "stuff" that we have accumulated, knowing that it is now in the past. But, we remind ourselves of the good times ahead, collecting memories of adventures instead of stuff! 

Happy Trails,

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sold more stuff!

We have a buyer for our old truck, and he is letting us drive it until the new one comes in! Ordered our new truck in Knoxville, TN yesterday. I really do think I'll need a cowboy hat, boots and chiffon skirts to drive that baby! We also finalized our decisions for the new fifth-wheel. Planned to order, but the owners of RV's For Less had to make an unplanned trip to the emergency room, so we will order tomorrow by phone. Lots of friends came over today and bought LOTS of "stuff". It has been hectic, wild and crazy. We close in two weeks! Yep, got a little weepy again....sure will miss my friends. Exhausted.....

Friday, March 4, 2011

Good Day Selling "Stuff"

This morning, I went through my Outlook address book and sent an email to everyone that I thought would be interested in the "stuff" that we are selling. Mr. Phil took pictures and set up a little website for the auction house, so we decided to let our friends preview. We got a great response. People started calling and coming by to "shop our sale". We sold office desks and chairs, secretary desk, tv's, lamps, bookcase, antique table, all sorts of stuff. We even sold our car! We plan to sell what is left at auction and store the things we really want to keep.

It feels a little weird, I'll have to say. But, tomorrow we are going to order our new fifth wheel and truck! And, that is going to be our little nest on wheels. Our official full-timing date will be in about two weeks. Once we move our bed out of the condo, we will be living in our little Winnebago until our new fiver comes in.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Leaving Old Friends and Making New Friends

I got a little weepy last night, as I was packing up getting ready to move out of the house and into the RV. We are seriously downsizing. For the most part, I know pretty much what to get rid of, and what to keep. But, occasionally I run across stuff that stops me in my tracks - unexpectedly. Last night, I got weepy over a teapot! On the one hand, I don't use it, so of course I cannot justify keeping it. But on the other hand, I like it. But, I don't use it. When I make tea, I make it by the cup and nuke the water. But I like it. Then I realized that it wasn't parting with the teapot that was the problem. I got weepy because I have lots of good memories, sharing tea with my "girlie" friends.We have laughed, cried, bitched, moaned, and groaned over hot tea from that teapot. (Lots of bottles of wine, too.) I wondered if I would meet nice ladies on the road to sit down with and share hot tea. I called one of my friends, Terri, to tell her that I will miss her, and to share my weepy story. She reminded me that we will carry our memories with us, in our hearts. 

Mr. Phil got a little (lot) choked up a few days ago, when he remembered his plans with an old friend to go rock digging together "someday". Phil realized that his "someday" was getting closer, but his dream would not be shared with his dear friend Andy, who died not long ago. I am sure that Mr. Phil will carry Andy in his heart everytime he gets the opportunity to dig rocks.

When we moved to Chattanooga, almost ten years ago, we thought we would be here forever. But, we never know where "forever" will find us, nor when it will end. We have made some wonderful friends here, and we will carry with us on the road great memories of good times with them. I don't know if we will ever move back, but we will be back.

Reality has not hit that we won't see family as often. I do have the cutest granddaughter in the world, and I will miss visits with her. But, hopefully, when we come back this way, we can make up for lost time. And, we plan to kidnap her occasionally so that we can have her all to ourselves for a few days or weeks. She has just turned two, we can't wait for her to get old enough to take to Disneyworld.

So, I just hope that if I meet some of my RV'ing bloggers on the road that we can sit down over a hot cup of tea, or glass of wine, and spend a little time sharing our lives. Maybe stare into a campfire and reflect on the past or dream of the future. Or, just talk about what's happening today. I look forward to making new friends on the road.

Thanks for listening,

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Downsizing, RV'ing and Carbon Footprint

I love the idea of less stuff. We just downsized two years ago from 3700 sq. ft. to 2100 sq. ft. and now we are preparing to move into a 360 sq. ft. RV. We also have to consider how much that stuff weighs.

I always felt guilty living in 3700 sq. ft. in that it took lots of resources to heat and cool, furnish, and maintain such a home. I felt that it was overkill for two people and that I was doing a good thing for the environment to downsize. But, to be fair, it had been neglected for many years, so we did do a good thing by buying and restoring the house. 

We then moved into a 2100 sq. ft. condo, that is concrete and steel, and is extremely energy efficient. We live downtown and can ride our bicycles for our errands. We work from home and drive very little. I have struggled a little with justifying our increase of fuel usage moving around in our RV. I always saw myself driving one of those electric cars, or holding out for a car with a solar panel and windmill on the roof. Now, here I am planning to buy and drive a 3500 dual-wheel diesel truck.

I think that we will spend several months in one place each year, which will cut down on fuel usage.  And, I think that our plan of not being in extreme temps and the reduction of square footage to heat, cool and maintain will offset our carbon footprint. We will buy and consume less, because of limited space. Although it is harder to recycle on the road, I know I will find a way, or else, the guilt will kick in. I don't like feeding our landfills with stuff that can be reused.

I think that RV'ers are viewed by some as being resource hogs, because of the fuel usage and the fact that they "plug" in. And, many folks are critical of RV'ers having some of the amenities of a Stick & Brick house, but call themselves "camping". But I think that if those that are being critical would consider that they too are "camping" in a fixed place, probably with a much bigger carbon footprint than RV'ers.

I think the real heros with the least carbon footprint in our country are the homeless! They use things other folks have discarded, they often share a community kitchen, and they typically walk wherever they go. I love supporting the homeless as I downsize. We are very fortunate and should never take our ability to have food, clothing and shelter for granted!

Do other RV'ers ever think about these things?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whew! We close in 23 days!

Choosing options for an RV is hard work! But, it's easier than building a house, because there are fewer decisions, and I have always been a little indecisive. Maybe that's explains why I am so "gypsy-like". We decided on the RV brand and model, now it's just a matter of considering every option and doing the research. We have decided on a "brand-spanking new" DRV Mobile Suites. It is warranted for full-timing and is four-season. It is 36', which is small enough that we can stick to the heavy duty trucks. And, it is looking like a Dodge Ram for our tow vehicle. I'm thinking I might need cowboy boots and hat to drive this truck around with a Texas tag!

We close in 23 days, and will live in our Winnebago View until the fiver comes in. Hopefully we will have our truck by then! I'd hate to have to camp in the parking lot of RV's For Less!

So, needless to say, I have been pretty busy with details. Going through "stuff" today and sorting: need for next 3 weeks and until 5er comes in (Winnebago space is limited); pack and store what we will need when 5er comes in (for year-round travel); pack items to take to auction; pack items to store while we are traveling; pack items to donate to Community Kitchen, family and friends. Whew!

Beautiful day here in Chattanooga. Spring is in the air!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We have a contract!

The offer was not dead after all! Our agent is pretty persistent and persuasive, so in the end the buyer came back with a little more after our counter, and we knew it was time to fold 'em. We were pretty lucky in that we bought two years ago and sold for a little more than we paid. (It's those sales commissions that are a killer.)

So, we are scheduled to close March 21st, and there is so much to do! We made reservations today at a local campground here in Chattanooga, where we plan to stay after closing, up until the RV-Dreams rally in Sevierville, TN. We have to buy a truck, sell or trade two vehicles, sell or trade our Winnebago View, buy a fifth-wheel and then - we are outta here! Still not sure of hubby's retirement date as there are still some things to work out there.

Yipee! I am hoping our luck rubs off on everyone else with their house for sale!

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

: ( Offer expired...and I had mentally started packing....

Life is a roller coaster at times. Yesterday it looked like we were on our way to a contract, and today - nodda. It was one of those rare deals, cash, no contingency, no appraisal, no inspection - almost too good to be true. The buyers were looking for a bargain, and we met them half-way, but that wasn't enough. Drat!  I was so disappointed. Oh well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shhhh....don't want to jinx the offer

We got an offer on our condo today! Countered back at 'em and it's in their, we may be working toward a contract! If so, we will close March 21...only one month away! Now I am in panic mode. Yikes!

But, I have made life changes so many times that I know that it will all come together, and the madness is only temporary. (Remind me of that later when the panic really sets in.) Whoo hoo!!! Wish me luck!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm So Excited....I Just Can't Hide It

Yesterday was our first showing since putting the For Sale sign up about a month ago. So, we loaded up the cat and the dog and went RV shopping. We ended up at RV's For Less in Knoxville and looked over their 5'ers. They had just gotten in 3 new DRV Mobile Suites and we really liked one of them. We have been flip-flopping between a 5'er and a motorhome, just because of the fear of driving a honker truck pulling a honker coach. But after talking to the owner at RV's For Less we feel better about our original choice of a fifth wheel. This guy is sold on the Suites. He once built Prevost buses and seems to be know what's what in the quality of RV's. So, I think we have made our decision about what and where to buy. Now on to the other decisions, like which hitch, which truck. So much to do, so little time!

While in Knoxville, we got a phone call from our agent. After the prospective buyer took a peek, he called our agent and wanted to know - get this - if we would consider including our furniture! Whoo Hoo....they would be doing us a huge favor if that happens! No offer, but that sounded positive. We have another showing today. Keep your fingers and toes crossed.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RV-Dreams Spring Rally in Tennessee

I am so excited! We have been on the waiting list for the RV-Dreams Spring Rally, and there was a cancellation, so we are going! Yipee! I have heard so many good things about Howard and Linda and am really excited to have the opportunity to participate in the rally. Anyone out there in Blogville going? I look forward to meeting and talking to other folks that share our dream!

Also, another good thing today....our condo has been on the market for almost a month, and we are getting our first showing this weekend. Yipee! The sun is out and folks are beginning to come out of hibernation. So, you never know! 2011 may be our year!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Work gets in the way!

I have been living vicariously through my blog buds. Thanks for all of the time you take to post about your adventures on the road. I have been all about work lately, and it really does get in the way sometimes. I have always heard that we should not wish our lives away, but I will have to say that I do look forward to the day that we can move on to the next phase.

We are planning to squeeze in a trip to Lazydays RV in Florida this month to see mass quantites of RV's all in one place. Hubby has to be down that way anyway for work, so we thought we would make use of the trip. We are planning to upgrade, from a small 23' motorhome and are weighing larger motorhome vs. 5'er. We plan to full-time once our condo sells, and can see staying in one place for an extended length of time, possibly months. My hopes are to avoid extremes in weather year round (if possible). I have been leaning toward the 5'ers in that there is only one vehicle to maintain. I did watch the videos on the Carriage website and was impressed with the fact that they make the frames, cabinetry, countertops, lots of the furniture, curtains, spreads, etc. at the factory. I know to look for 4-season warranted for full-time, welded not screwed, then go for the floor plan we like best. Anyone with opinions about Carriage, DRV Suites, NuWa, New Horizons, Excel? Those are some names I picked up from various forums. Any that anyone would recommend that we consider in the 5'ers?

I have new blog buds that I'd like to welcome...Jeff & Sheryl who found some sun somewhere in this country! The Cruzin2some Dawn and Denise, who like myself, are waiting for the big leap. Stu and Donna, 2 Taking a 5th, who have one hellava rig. I gotta get me a hat and sunglasses like Donna's once I hit the road. And, welcome to Georgina! I learn so much from all of you. It's nice to check in and see what you all are up to. I hate that the weather has had such an impact on everyone, and hope that things will soon turn sunny and warm.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Crap! Shortest retirement in history.....back in the work force, but hopefully not for too long. Couldn't watch Mr. Phil drown any longer. Guilt kicked in, and I am back in the saddle. I will say, that for one and a half weeks, I got a taste of how it would feel to really be retired, and it felt great - like freedom! But, we are still on track for fulltime RV'ing, just as soon as we sell the house. (I think the price of my future 5'er just went up!)

I have more folks that think my blog is blog-worthy! Welcome Planning for RV Days with Jessica and Harry*, (another couple hoping to travel fulltime in the future), Merikay's Dreams are Written in Smoke, (who seems to have a real liking for cheese!), and TRAVEL WITH THE BAYFIELD BUNCH:)), (who does a great job photographing his journeys while wintering in Arizona). I hope one day our paths cross and we can share a campfire or something!

Happy Trails!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hit by the Good Luck Duck

I was hit by The Good Luck Duck, and have been blessed with three more "followers": Through Gates of Grace, Kenny and Angela's Adventure, and Kate and Terry-Travels in Cholula Red. How cool is that? Now I hope I have properly linked to their blogs, 'cause I am all about sharing. Now, Good Luck Duck, my wish is to spread all of that good luck to my new fellow bloggers, and back at you! (I see a contract on my house, I see a contract on my house, I see a contract on my house........).

OK, I haven't seen any signs worthy of reflection today, I think because I have been too busy examining my legs to see if they can be considered "CANKLES"! Who the HELLO posted about cankles, and now I cannot get my mind off the possibility that my ankles and calves could fall into that category? Crap! I've been poking around in Blogville too much!

I will share a special event that is very much worthy of reflection. My friend needed two lungs, qualified for a transplant.....and waited, and waited, and waited, not knowing if his own lungs would hold out until a match was found. One year ago today, someone died. And, they were an organ donor. One year ago today, my friend got the call that there was a donor that was a match. Both donor lungs were healthy. If only one lung had been healthy, it would have gone to the person waiting for one lung. One year ago today, my friend had a double lung transplant, and tonight his family and friends celebrated the anniversary, and honored the donor. So, if you haven't thought about it, you may want to consider being a donor.... It really is a miracle.

Now, I got to go snooping around in Blogville........

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Blog Worthy"

I have a "Follower"....geez, have made my day! Someone out there actually decided that my blog is "blog-worthy". I am so honored! In all seriousness, the ability to connect with others that have common goals and dreams is huge. When we first moved to Chattanooga from Atlanta, we bought an old house to restore. Never having restored old homes, we were reluctant to buy because of the unknown. But the real estate agent introduced us to his friends that had been through the restoration process. These folks were so into what they did that they offered to literally crawl underneath the house, check the systems, and "kick the tires" before we made an offer. That was huge, because the process seemed overwhelming to us, and they were willing to calm our fears. It is the same now for us. We are planning a new chapter in our lives that is foreign to us. And, so is my new friend Teri. Having a network of folks out there that are willing to share their experiences about life on the road is priceless. Friends are huge in life, they make us live longer! By the way, we bought the house, and ten years later, those guys that helped us are still our friends!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Sticks and Bricks" For Sale

Love the rotate issue with Blogger and Canon Power Shot cameras!
The term "Sticks and Bricks" is used mostly by people who live full time in an RV, referring to the house they lived in prior to their "home on wheels". Our "Sticks and Bricks" is more of a "Steel and Concrete" house/condo. Regardless, it is officially for sale. Yipee!

Our plan is to downsize (again) and take advantage of not having the responsibility of a "sticks and bricks" house, while we are still young.  ; )  We want to follow the sun, (avoiding cold weather), and explore the USA, Canada and maybe even Mexico in our RV. Mr. Phil works primarily from home, so he can work anywhere he can get an internet connection. And, hopefully, he won't work forever! 

It gets complicated preparing for not having a "sticks and bricks" house. You have to consider not only how you will get your mail, but also vote, renew drivers licenses, register automobiles, tag renewals, and insurance. Lots of people in the full time RV world take advantage of not having a permanent residence by choosing their state of domicile based on tax benefits. A few states do not not tax personal income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas. Tennessee has no income tax, but taxes interest and dividends. When I began contacting the various county and state departments regarding how this would work for us, I was told by my county clerk office, that if we sell our house and do not buy or rent another house that we would be considered homeless!  That was a very odd response, and one that I had never considered. I told her that we would not be homeless, we would be taking our home with us! I explained that we would have a mail forwarding service that would provide us an address in the same zip code. I finally found someone with the state that told me how to go about handling our business while on the road. Whew!

So, keeping fingers crossed that the "For Sale" sign will soon change to "Sold". With the downturn in the economy, and with condominium owner want-to-be's treated like "trailer trash" by banks - it could be awhile. In the meantime, I will keep taking "stuff" to the Community Kitchen and Habitat for Humanity. It is amazing just how good that feels! We have gone from 3700 square feet 2 years ago, to 2150 square feet today, and if we realize our dream, we will live in about 400 square feet for a few years. I love it! That is a small footprint!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

.....Long haired freaky people need not apply

Sung by a group called "Five Man Electrical Band" in 1971. Good song, that said a lot about the times. Although I would like to think differently, there's a lot of similarity in those times and today - political unrest, bigotry, senseless wars, hate, violence, a sense of hopelessness in many ways. It is a lot to digest for young adults who are trying to make a life for themselves. And, it can be overwhelming for those of us that hope we can make a difference. It's no wonder that this country has such serious addiction problems, and it's not just illegal substances. We have huge problems with alcohol and prescription drugs. People numbing their feelings, instead of being aware and acknowledging their circumstances. It is so much easier to give up and follow the masses, than to keep trying to make a difference, no matter how small, for the future of mankind. I sure hope our country can turn this anger and hate around. There's a lot that needs to be fixed!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Threw in the towel, hung it up, burnt out, drug up, the time is now......yipee! As of this week, I am RETIRED! I was given the option by My Cute Man, Mr. Phil, to retire. After much consideration, (about 5 minutes), I told my boss, Mr. Phil, of my decision. He was taken by surprise, but accepted my resignation. It is bittersweet, since My Cute Man's workload has increased. I really hate to see him working so hard and can't wait for him to join me in retirement. When that happens, we plan to take off in our little Winnebago and follow the sun.
OK, what's up with the dictionary definition of "Retirement"?? No longer working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work (What???? It's more like because you have reached the age that you better enjoy life before you are too old to play!)
A few acronyms:
ROF Retired Old Farts
RWH Retired With Husband
RBNT Retired But Not Tired
RHF Retired Halfassed Fool
ARA Actively Retired Adults
AARP Association for Armed Retired People
ORF Old Retired Fart
ORF Our Retired Friends

This is the first year that Baby Boomers will qualify for Medicare. Although I am a Boomer, I have a few years to go before the big 65. Ouch! Unbelievable how quickly the time slips away! I still can't account for about 20 of those years. ; )
I have heard that the trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off! (I think I can handle it!)

Retirement itself is the best gift. No gold watch could ever top it.

So, I'm off to enjoy my new journeys!