Letters From a Bus
I start to relax. Sibling reunion at the Barlow camp, my brother, Jerry, and sister, Sally. St. Augustine, FL 6/18/07
May 2008: Springtime High Plateau
6th entry for May
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Fulltimers: Some Thoughts on Our First Anniversary

Hatch, UT, Day Twenty-two at Cherokee Springs Golf & RV Park, Site: I-18

Friday, May 16, 2008 — One year of living in a motorhome

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 was our first day in our new home — the day we moved into our Allegro Bus. 

We were so excited and we were so full of trepidation.  There was so much to learn.  Our new home seemed too big to ever be able to drive down the road and it was complicated.  We felt the pressure of learning how to live in it and how to take care of it.  It represented a big investment — both financially and as a life style decision.  It seemed like a huge responsibility.

Dennis takes boxes we brought for the bus out of his truck. Bankston Motorhomes, Huntsville, AL 5/16/07
Feb 14 to May 8 — 83 days of organizing sales, packing & moving.

At that time we were both exhausted.  With my friend, Becky, I worked every day for nearly three months to sort our stuff, to organize yard and estate sales, and to pack up what we planned to keep.  We had a lot of things and it was an enormous and daunting endeavor.  Towards the end, the stress and workload doubled as we struggled to empty the house and get moved out.  By the time we hit the road on Wednesday, May 9 in Dennis’s Ford 250 pickup truck, packed with supplies we thought we would need on the bus, we were both angry, hostile, nervous wrecks.  What had we done?

Elsa and Rudi move into the new bus and try to settle in. Bankston Motorhomes, Huntsville, AL 5/19/07
Estate Sale. Becky has worked every day with me since Valentine's Day. She's worn out. Los Altos, CA 4/14/07 Yard Sale. Dennis and Jim are worn out. Jim spent many weekends helping us to sell and move and he painted the house interior. Dennis has been moving boxes and furniture to storage. Los Altos, CA 4/27/07
Estate Sale. My sister, Sally, is worn out. She did our signs and handled cash for all our sales. Los Altos, CA 4/14/07
Estate Sale. My son, Jeff, is worn out. He wanted our Greenhouse, which he had to dismantle and he had to decide what furnishings and momentoes he wanted to take and keep. Los Altos, CA 4/14/07
Yard Sale. Margot is worn out. Los Altos, CA 4/28/07
Yard Sale. Rudi is worn out. Both dogs had to learn to deal with many days of many strangers wandering around the house and yard. Los Altos, CA 4/28/07
Estate Sale. We finish another sale day. Dennis, Lilia, James, Elsa, Sally and Becky. Los Altos, CA 4/28/07
By May 19 we found ourselves living in Huntsville, AL at the Bankston trailer sales lot on an '07 Tiffin Motorhomes 42' Allegro Bus. 

Fortunately, Dennis took to driving and caring for the bus as if he were born to it.  Raised on a farm around big equipment, and veteran of a career in construction, he was immediately comfortable not only with driving our 42’ behemoth but with the many intricate details of maintaining it.  He did lots of research before we left and he studied all the manuals we were given after we arrived.  All year he has continued to do research on the Internet and he has picked up massive amounts of details on how to care for his bus.  I am astonished at the maintenance schedule he follows and his knowledge of how to take care of his home on wheels.

Dennis has a lot of homework to study. Bankston Motorhomes, Huntsville, AL 5/19/07
On May 21 we moved to our first RV Park and destroyed a Winnebago Vectra in the process.

Then came the big ACCIDENT! We moved the bus from Bankston to the US Space & Rocket Center RV Park in Huntsville, AL. I left the Ford pickup running while we conferred over which site to choose. Frenzied and nervous the dogs bounced the gear shift into reverse, jumped on the brake and drove our truck backwards into a Winnebago Vectra. Our bus was fine but it took awhile to recover from the shock of this dreadful accident.

UNDER HOUSE ARREST. Margot & Rudi Walton accused of Grand Theft Auto and Wilful Property Damage. US Space & Rocket Ctr. RV Park, Huntsville, AL 5/21/07

From May 21 to June 7, we stayed 18 days at the US Space & Rocket Center RV Park in Huntsville, AL

We’d never been in the south before, much less the state of Alabama.  It was hot and humid in Huntsville and the sky was often overcast from the smoke of all the fires in Georgia.  We had to put a lot of energy into getting used to everything that was so new and different to us — and we were very tired.  Even though I liked our new home and I was excited about our great adventure, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d made a huge mistake.

It took time to trade in our damaged pickup truck for our new Honda tow car and we had to wait for the tow kit to be ordered and installed. Probably it was just as well that we had to sit and stay put while we rested up. Eventually we began to relax and take advantage of our very pretty RV park. We were lucky. The US Space and Rocket Center RV Park is spacious, quiet and rural. We began to take long walks with the dogs and look around our new environment.

Actually, we liked Huntsville and we had a pleasant time there.  We really enjoyed the people we met. We began to make some excursions around Huntsville. Because of the heat and our fatigue I think it felt a little bit like a duty to be tourists but we did enjoy our new discoveries.

Finally we settle in at our first campground. We discover the Space and Rocket Center and take the dogs for walks around the area. US Space & Rocket Center RV Park, Huntsville, AL 5/23/07
We toured Old Town, Alabama Constitution Village, Huntsville, AL 5/30/07

On June 8 & 9 we made our first long distance drive to St. Augustine, FL

I think part of being a successful fulltime RVer is learning to cope.  You have to develop skills for traveling and being in new environments all the time.  We had to learn to find stores and services quickly and efficiently. 

We had to develop skills for learning how to travel in a big bus.  We learned to anticipate the general layout of truck stops to get fuel, or RV parks to find a site.  We developed skills in learning how to choose adequate RV parks.  Dennis learned to slow way down in our approach to a destination so I could read signs and interpret maps and get us turned into the right entrance.  In the beginning he would go too fast and we would overshoot our destination.  This caused a great deal of stress when we found ourselves on narrow roads with tight turns and low hanging trees or in a deadend where we had to unhitch the car in order to backup and turn around.

I think another part of being a successful Fulltimer is in learning how to manage your time.  What I mean by that is that we had to learn to drop our schedules and to slow down — slow way down.  In the beginning we had agendas.  Our original intent was to drive straight back to California from Huntsville.    My brother, Jerry and his wife were going to meet and travel with us in their RV. But Jerry had a heart attack and was laid up at his home in Florida.  So our first trip was in the opposite direction — a two-day drive to St. Augustine. 

We discovered this lovely park by the Tennessee River. Rhodes Ferry Park, Dacatur, TN 5/29/07
The first time Dennis drove the bus with the Honda being towed behind we dared to pull into a big shopping mall where we grocery shopped at Target. 6/8/07
On our first day of driving and towing we survive the freeways of Birmingham and incorrect guidance from Co-Pilot, our GPS program. At a rest stop near the AL / GA border I sit on the curb to eat a snack. Our tow kit wasn't ready on time and we got a late start. We ended up staying overnight at Wal*Mart in Villa Rica, GA. 6/8/07
With trucks and trains Wal*Mart was extremely noisy and I got little rest. We put in another long second day of travel. At the border of Georgia and Florida we pull into our first Flying J to get fuel. I am a tired nervous wreck. This is not fun — at all! 6/9/07
We boondocked for two weeks on my brother's lawn in St. Augustine, FL. It was wonderful to see Marsha and Jerry and my sister flew out to join us so we had a terrific reunion. 6/9/07 I hated the Florida heat and tended to hide out in the bus with the A/C , but I loved sitting on Jerry's dock looking at sunset across the Atlantic Intercoastal. 6/10/07
Over the course of two weeks I started to rest up. I loved my sibling reunion at the Barlow Camp with my brother, Jerry, and sister, Sally. St. Augustine, FL 6/18/07 We discover Tilapia at South Beach Grill on Crescent Beach. Dinner with Jerry and Marsha on the solstice — our 21st wedding anniversary. 6/21/07

On June 15, Marsha flew my sister, Sally, out from California to join us in Florida for a long weekend.

We all had a wonderful reunion but I suffered greatly from the hot Florida temperatures.  It was Sally who dragged me out to go sightseeing. We did go to Cape Kennedy with Marsha also.

After Florida we planned to go home because we wanted to add things to the bus that we had left in storage.  Because of summer heat I didn’t want to take the southern route on I-40 through the deserts so we headed northwest towards I-70. 

On June 26, near Atlanta, GA we stopped in Buford to visit my elementary and high school classmate, Ben, and his wife, Karen. We stayed at the very pretty Shoal Creek Campgrounds. While there, we took an extra day to visit Dahlonega, a fun and pretty little gold town in the Appalachian foothills.

Sally and I on the boat to Ft. Matanzas near St. Augustine, FL. 6/17/07
We pull into our site at Shoal Creek Campgrounds. Buford, GA. 6/17/07 Shoal Creek was a beautiful spot near Lake Sidney-Lanier. We enjoyed it and so did the dogs. 6/17/07

On our way north, we decided to stop in Red Bay, AL at Tiffin Motorhomes to tour the plant.  

We were getting with the program. On our way home, why not stop in the northwest corner of Alabama to visit the birthplace of our motorhome? However, we arrived in Red Bay on June 29, a Friday, and the last day of work for the manufacturing plant.  We took a fast tour of the plant that day before all the workers left on a one-week Fourth of July holiday.  Our timing was bad and it was also beastly hot.

Unfortunately, we were stuck, because the Spartan chassis developed some difficulties en route.  We lost our cruise control and windshild wipers. We had to stay at the Allegro Campground and get an appointment to have this fixed.  Repairs were done fairly promptly but then we began to get acquainted with other Allegro Bus owners and we saw the improvements they’d made and we began to make a list of custom items to add to our bus.  Unexpectedly, we spent over two weeks in the tiny town of Red Bay.  It was worth it but the weather was just as hot and humid as it was in Florida and the town offered neither dining nor entertainment.

We made several trips to Florence, AL and discovered the Coon Dog Cemetary. We did our errands in Tupelo, MS and we discovered the Natchez Trace Trail.

Tiffin Motorhomes Plant Tour, Red Bay, AL 6/29/07
The park in Red Bay is decorated for the Fourth of July. 7/4/07
We left Red Bay on July 18 and our new agenda was to stop to see new sights on our way west. 

After living on our bus for 63 days, we felt like our new life was finally going to begin.  What was our new life to be?  Why being tourists, of course.  So we stopped in Memphis to see Graceland and then we stopped in St. Louis to see the Riverfront Gateway Arch and then we moved towards Kansas City to stop and visit my cousins.  We thought we had learned how to live and travel in a motorhome.

On July 23 in Kansas City I wrote in my letter-blog,  “We decided to not repeat our former mistakes of overly long driving days.  We planned shorter increments on our homeward bound journey.”  So what did we do?  We traveled from Alabama through Tennessee and Missouri to Kansas and stopped to be tourists in two places in the short space of six days!  We still hadn’t learned to relax as we travel.

Charles Coburn installs custom additions on the bus. Red Bay, AL 7/16/07
The Riverfront Gateway Arch was amazing. I'm so glad we saw it. It is very inspiring. St. Louis, MO 7/16/07
We hurried to get to Kansas City so we could join my cousins for a special jazz event that they all planned to attend on July 24. 

Agendas can creep up on you in hidden ways.  We’ve learned to be wary of family agendas and special dates that materialize as deadlines.  Two of my Peeke cousins live in Kansas City and two more were going to converge there from Nebraska and Iowa to attend a special event.  So we hurried to join them but at the last minute, one of them couldn't make it. However, we had a marvelous time visiting with three of my six cousins and meeting their families. Jim gave us a tour of his alma mater, Park University, and we saw the amazing limestone mines under the campus.

We stayed for a week to sightsee and visit and then we set out to continue west.  By the end of July we still felt pressure to hurry up and get back home. 

We stayed at the beautiful T. O. Fuller State Park which, is 7 miles from Graceland. Memphis, TN 7/19/07
Jazz vocalist, Wendy Fopiano, and her husband, pianist, Marc Sabatella returned to their alma mater to play at Jardine's Jazz Club, Kansas City, MO 7/24/07
We stayed at Cottonwood RV Campgrounds in Bonner Springs outside of Kansas City but we spent a lot of time at the home of my cousin Jim, and his wife Sandy. They were wonderful hosts. 7/24/07
On July 29, our first night out of Kansas City, we stopped in Abilene, KS and once again I questioned our hurry. 

Why not delay a day and be tourists to see the Eisenhower Museum, I wondered.  In Abilene, KS I wrote, “Well OK, the rain is an excuse to not travel tomorrow.  Travel days are tiring.  We plan to go see the Eisenhower Center and tour the museum and Ike's family home and the library. And I want to see the Seelye Mansion....”

This was an unplanned stop and for that reason it was even more enjoyable.  From that point on we began to get into a rhythm.  We began to travel a reasonable distance, stop early to settle in, walk dogs and see the area.  We had not quite reached the point where we would conclude that we can travel the next day if we feel good or we are allowed to stop and rest if we feel tired — but we were getting there.

My cousin Becky and her husband Bill sit with Jim and Sandy's kids, Robert and Becky. Jardine's Jazz Club, Kansas City, MO 7/26/07
In Abilene we stayed at the Covered Wagon RV Park and visited Eisenhower's family boyhood home. Abilene, KS 7/30/07
This is the life! We relax at at the beautiful Cherry Creek State Park. Aurora, Denver, CO 8/5/07
We have fun at the Prairie Schooner with Dennis's son, Bart, and his wife, Char. Ogden, UT. 8/13/07
Friends and families continued to create agendas but it wasn’t their fault — it was ours.  

We had this marvelous new toy and we wanted to show it off so we continued to zigzag across the west.  We stopped in Denver to sightsee and visit friends.  Then we turned north and traveled through Wyoming and Montana to Dennis’s hometown in Ogden, Utah.  Here we delayed our progress for another week while we paused to visit Dennis’s son and all of his family. 

We had promised Marian and Joe, Dennis’s sister and her husband in Vancouver, Washington, that we would be there to help celebrate her sixty-ninth birthday on August 24.  Suddenly we realized that we were going to be late unless we got going.  We left Ogden on August 21 and the push was on.  We dashed through Idaho and across Oregon and made it in time — but our last day in particular was a very long and tiring travel day.

We made it and as usual we had lots of fun with Marian and Joe. We've vacationed with them before and always tease them about their fondness for good restaurants — but I love it.... We spent five days with them and took some scenic drives up the river and over to the ocean and enjoyed visiting with Marian's daughter Jana and her husband, Richard.

Dennis giggles with his darling sister, Lila, at McGrath's Seafood, Layton, UT. 8/10/07
Dennis's nephew, Kevin, takes us on the Alpine Slide in Park City, UT. Kevin is Marian's son. 8/17/07
We left Portland, OR on August 28 and by then we were anxious to get home.  I was homesick. 

I needed to repack our bus and I missed my hometown and my friends.  Nevertheless we had learned a lot about how to travel.  On September 3 in Ashland, OR I wrote, “Our drive from Portland to Eugene was just the right length and time — two and a half hours, counting a stop for fuel, and less than 100 miles.  We had a reservation lined up at an RV park so it was an easy drive and no hassle.  We pulled into Deerwood RV Park at noon and it turned out to be delightful.  Our site was a pre-assigned pull-thru and everything was easy.” 

We were on the last leg of our first journey but we weren't home yet. We stopped for a day in Eugene so I could see my cousin Janet, look up my sorority sister, Penny, and revisit my alma mater, the University of Oregon.

We help Joe and Marian celebrate her birthday at the Stanford Restaurant Bar & Grill in Jantzen Beach, the island off the bridge between Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR 8/24/07
We stayed at the Columbia River RV Park where we were able to enjoy walks with the dogs on the levee above the river. Portland, OR 8/26/07
We enjoyed Deerwood RV Park because it has a very pretty, quiet garden environment. Eugene, OR 8/28/07
We pulled into Ashland, OR on August 30 and got caught by the Labor Day weekend rush.

One thing we still haven’t learned to manage is busy three and four-day holidays. It’s not fun to be stuck on the road on a Labor Day weekend and it’s not easy to find a space in an RV Park either.  They’re all booked up. 

We pulled into Emigrant Lake RV Park in Ashland, OR on August 30.  Oops the next day was Friday and we were caught.  We decided to stay where we were until after Labor Day.  It was very hot and I was sick. I thought I had allergies but I guess it was a cold so we didn't see much of Ashland. On the last leg of our journey home, we made one more detour to see my friend, Karen Magnuson, in Clearlake, CA.

Finally we returned to Mountain View on September 7 where we settled into the masonry yard, our home base.  We left the area on May 9 so we had been gone for four months.  On September 16 we celebrated four months of living as fulltimers.

The University of Oregon campus is still extremely beautiful. Eugene, OR 8/29/07
Emigrant Lake. The RV park is on the far side of the lake to the left. Ashland, OR 9/1/07
It's wonderful to see an old friend. Karen visits us on our bus and greets her old buddy, Rudi. Clearlake, CA 9/6/07
Our Operations Mgr., Steve, and all the staff are waiting to see us and our new home. Mountain View, CA 9/7/07
We settle into our homebase, the Walton Masonry yard. Mountain View, CA 10/8/07
Becky comes over to see our bus and ask about storage. Are we going to do another yard sale? Yeah, maybe next summer,,,, Mountain View, CA 9/10/07
We're home just in time to attend a festival at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, where my son, Jeff, manages the International Hostel. Pescadero, CA 9/8/07

We did our doctor’s appointments and repacked our bus and then we left on November 13. 

It felt marvelous to be at home. I loved seeing my family and friends and I loved being able to run around in my home town. But we only stayed home for a month.  I don’t know why.  I guess we thought it was cheating to sit around in our hometown.  We were supposed to be out seeing new places and living our new life.  We shouldn’t be cold in the Bay Area when we could go south and be warm — so we left. 

But again there was that agenda.  Dennis had several important doctor appointments in early January.  We couldn’t wander far and we had to be back in a month and a half.

This was our least successful outing.  We still didn’t get it.  We went to Santa Fe, NM to have Thanksgiving with our friend, Dale, and her family. That was great but it was cold. There was a snowstorm and we didn’t know how to turn on our gas heat.  We had to wait until after the holiday to find out what was wrong and fix it.  (A wire was loose.) Meanwhile we were freezing on the bus because the electric heat couldn’t handle the cold temperatures.

Oh my gosh, I can't face it. Becky, HELP! Behind the masonry storage bay door, we separate yard sale stuff that didn't sell and start a pile for Goodwill. Rudi and Margot help. Where's my winter clothes? Mountain View, CA 11/7/07
Left over snow on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Santa Fe Skies RV Park. Santa Fe, NM 11/24/07
On November 27, we decided to go south and get warm.  We went to Las Cruces and we liked the area very much. 

We had fun exploring Las Cruces. But I got caught up in a last minute Christmas shopping frenzy and we had an accident in the Honda on a busy Saturday shopping day.  More stress.  The Honda was bent up but drivable and eventually we decided to wait to have the bodywork done after we got back to our home base.  

We spent time looking at New Mexico and Arizona. We traveled to El Paso, back to Las Cruces and then westward to Deming, Tucson, Phoenix, and Yuma.. Along the way we visited more friends and relatives including the Walton Family in Lake Havasu City.

Marcel and Dale at her brother's house for Thanksgiving. Dale is a fabulous cook. Santa Fe, NM 11/24/07
In Las Cruces I fell in love with historic Mesilla and La Posta. Dale, here's a restaurant you would love!. Las Cruces, NM 11/27/07
We stayed at Sunny Acres RV Park and we really loved it there. Las Cruces, NM 11/29/07
It was fun to see their new home and their Christmas tree. Jewel is Dennis's grandneice. Dan will soon graduate from law school. Phoenix, AZ 12/22/07
We got to visit our favorite young couple, Dan and Jewel, look at their books and talk, talk, talk. Phoenix, AZ 12/22/07
Dyanne is my elementary and high school classmate. She and Tom took us to Algodones, Mexico where we window shopped and stopped for lunch. 12/26/07
We visited snowbirds, Tom and Dyanne, met their freinds and learned how to make omelets-in-a-bag on Christmas morning. Yuma, AZ 12/25/07
The entire family got together for breakfast. Dennis's son, Scott, makes his son, Nathan, laugh.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 12/28/07
The Walton sons were in Lake Havasu for Christmas to visit their mom. We took Dennis's granddaughter, Meranda, and her uncle, Dennis's son, Brent, out to dinner. Lake Havasu City, AZ 12/28/07
Brent gave us rides on his Sea*Doo. I am next to Grandma Jan, mother of Brent and Scott. Jan's sister, Dee, (left) became my regular email correspondant. She and her husband travel in an RV.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 12/26/07
The Walton Family spent a day at a beach by the Colorado River. Rudi swam and dug holes in the sand.
Lake Havasu City, AZ 12/28/07

We arrived back in Mountain View on January 5 of 2008. I think our winter holiday meanderings were a little bit aimless and disconsolate.  

Our travels were interesting and it was fun to see family and friends along the way but I was sorry that I wasn’t home with my sons and sister and nephews for Christmas.  By the time we got home, I had turned my ankle and suffered a fracture.  I needed a break — pardon the pun.

After that we got smart and stayed put — for almost three months.  We did our doctor’s appointments and caught up with our friends.  I did a lot of work in storage where there was much that never sold.  It had to be weeded out to throw away or keep for another sale.  My friend Becky came over to help me.  Dennis got involved with the masonry.  It was a nice rest and I think it gave us time to process and digest our new life style.  By the time we left, we’d lived in our bus for ten months, one week and three days.

We left Mountain View on March 27. I think this last month and a half segment of our first year has been the best. 

At last we are the wandering gypsies we planned to be.  We have no plans to visit anyone and no doctor appointment deadlines.  We are free to go wherever the weather is good and the scenery attracts us.  We had a marvelous time in Las Vegas, a place where we had never been.  Our timing was perfect because the weather was moderate — neither too cold nor too hot.  We moved up to Utah and began to explore the high elevation plateaus around Zion and Bryce.  It’s been cold and windy at times but I am fascinated with the countryside and we have been very happy in our explorations. 

I fell in love with the beautiful Bellagio and we had a great time exploring all the amazing hotels along the Las Vegas strip. Las Vegas, NV 3/31/08
Looking down into the spillway at Hoover Dam made me feel dizzy.
Las Vegas, NV 4/4/08
Although crowded and noisy, we enjoyed our stay at the Oasis RV Park. Las Vegas, NV 3/31/08
We also saw some wonderful shows including Mama Mia and Defending the Caveman as well as Bally's fabulous Jubilee. Las Vegas, NV 4/14/08
Sand Hollow State Park was our first introduction to the empty, spacious camps and high winds of the Utah high plateaus. Hurricane, UT 4/16/08
We are instantly fascinated by the strange landscapes we see around Zion National Park.
Kolob Terrace Rd., UT 4/16/08
We are amazed by the overwhelming size of the sandstone monoliths. Zion National Park, UT 4/19/08
All this space is ours. We are the only RV parked in Cherokee Springs Golf & RV Park. The dogs can run free — plus, no heat, no humidity, no bugs. We love it!
Cherokee Springs, Hatch, UT 4/25/08
We arrived here in Cherokee Springs on April 24 and our stay here has been a first in many ways. 

We have been here 22 days and we plan to stay past Memorial Weekend for a total of 32 days — one month plus!  This is the longest we’ve ever stayed in one RV Park except for our home base in Mountain View.  We’ve never been in such a rural spot before and we’ve never been in an empty RV park before and the dogs have never gotten to run free in the open country before.  We’ve discovered the many ATV and jeep back roads in the area and we’ve had wonderful days exploring the mountain, canyon and river landmarks in this area. 

We are stunned by the strange and wonderful landscape we discover at Bryce.
Agua Canyon, Bryce National Park, UT 4/27/08

This is the life.  This is the life I want to lead.  We find a place that we like and stay put.  We have leisure to explore the vicinity in depth.  We really get acquainted with a beautiful place.  AND we choose the season.  We had Springtime in February in the Bay Area and we have Springtime now at high elevation in Utah.  We’ve watched snow melt on the passes and we’ve seen new green grass grow where snow was.  We plan to slowly migrate up the Colorado Plateau into the state of Colorado and when it gets hot we’ll move north into Wyoming or Montana.  Never again will I go through a hot and muggy southeastern summer. 

Our first year has been busy and amazing.  We are in our late sixties but we haven’t succumbed to falling asleep in front of the TV.  We have found a life that can be as active and as fascinating as we wish to make it.  We have given ourselves the great gift of freedom — the freedom to see new things and meet new people and experience new events. 

I’ve had some days of regret and some days of homesickness.  I miss having my own car and the freedom to do my own errands in my own time. On occasion, I’ve felt lonesome for my friends and out of sorts with my daily companion, Dennis.  After all, his retirement and our learning to live together 24/7 was a huge adjustment in itself — over and above learning to be RVers.  Now we’re over that hump and we’ve both changed our ways.  Dennis is less irritable and I’m less nervous.  We’ve developed good working patterns in the ways that we drive around town, shop in a market, care for our home, or get it ready to travel.  We are in sync and we are far less snappy with each other.  The worst of our adjustment period is over.

I discovered the joys of exploring forest back roads on these high elevation plateaus.
Paunsaugunt Plateau, Corral Hollow, UT 5/1/08
I've fallen in love with these empty, distant horizons.
Hunt Creek, Paunsaugunt Plateau, UT 4/27/08
I love hiking and exploring around the 503 acres of Cherokee Springs. Hatch, UT 5/6/08 I love hiking in the beautiful and fantastic Red Canyon. Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, UT 5/8/08
On the whole, I feel that we made a great decision.  The RV way of life has turned out to be challenging and fascinating. 

Both of us agree that one of the best decisions we made was to buy a Tiffin Motorhome.  Bob Tiffin makes a quality coach and he backs up his product.  We’ve had few problems and all have been quickly fixed on warranty. 

And both of us feel that our happy co-existence in a small space is due to the fact that we invested in a 42’ dual axle, luxury coach.  The dual axle means that we can take more stuff because the chassis will hold more weight.  And the 42’ length gave us not only extra storage but also a beautiful and luxurious sense of space in which to live together in harmony.  It has made all the difference to us.  After all, we have two sinks and two TVs.  What more could you ask for?

Last of all I would say that the company of two Cotons de Tulear has greatly added to the texture and quality of

I love to exlore these high mountains and their strange landforms. Pine Lake, Powell Point, UT 5/8/08

our days.  They are big nuisances.  They bark at people and at dogs and they constantly embarrass us with their naughty antics.  Their long hair has to be combed and washed and groomed.  They are small and must be protected.  But they are also part of our loving family.  They play and cavort and beg and snuggle.  They make us laugh and they are easy to love.  When they get to run free through the sagebrush or when they get to fling themselves into a lake, we are thrilled for them — just as we were once thrilled for our small children.  They fill out our life in a most satisfactory way.

I asked Dennis for his thoughts on this subject.  He says, “I think we’ve found what we love to do.  I always loved exploring in the mountains on back roads.  I just didn’t know that you would like it too.”  Typically, Dennis continued in a more practical vein.  “I like the travel.  What we’re doing now is we stay some place as long as we want.  We don’t have to be anyplace.  We’ve sat around for the last two days and we haven’t done anything but take a walk with the dogs. And paying in advance for a month in one place is cheaper."

Margot and Rudi play in our site at Cherokee Springs, Hatch, UT 4/28/08 Christmas Family Photo, Yuma, AZ 12/26/07

I believe our second year is going to be very different.

On the evening of our anniversay, our new neighbors, recently arrived as work volunteers here at Cherokee Springs, invited us to come over for dessert at their picnic table. Jo and Pete, Betty and Jay, plus Arlen and Bandito gathered around to get acquainted and enjoy strawberry shortcake. The occasion was planned for us to celebrate our first anniversary. We only met them the night before and they asked if we were fulltimers and I said we were just finishing our first year. These folks are very friendly and very thoughtful. What a surprise and what a neat way to end our first year.

Pete's wife, Jo, stands behind Nancy and her husband, Jim, who pulled in today. They are the camp work hosts. Our dessert is fatfree angel food cake, strawberries (no sugar), strawberry glaze (with sugar) and Cool Whip. Everyone can assemble according to their diet requirements.
Cherokee Springs, Hatch, UT 5/16/08
Pete makes threatening gestures towards Betty while her husband, Jay, stands by. The two couples have been traveling together and are volunteer camp workers in exchange for free site space.
Cherokee Springs, Hatch, UT 5/16/08
Bob, on the left, is just passing through. Bandito, our host who runs the RV Park and the Golf Course is quite a character. He's telling a tall tale while Pete listens. Cherokee Springs, Hatch, UT 5/16/08 It was a pretty evening and a terrific way to start our new RVing year. I took a photo of the moon over our bus.
Cherokee Springs, Hatch, UT 5/16/08

I feel we are starting a new phase.

I think this year is going to be not only about travel and exploration but also about learning how to meet new people and how to socialize as we travel. Our new friends want us to follow them to Gillette, WY and attend a week long rally at the end of June. It is called Escapade, and it is produced by an RV club, Escapees, of which we are all members. At Escapade, members attend classes, dinners and parties, shop in the market and go on tours. We are seriously thinking about joining them to do this. It will be much more fun for us if we are already part of a smaller group within the larger membership.

Life is full of new possibilities. Here begins our second year as Fulltimers.

Elsa Walton, Cherokee Springs Golf & RV Park, Hatch, UT, Friday, May 16, 2008