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!