WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?

My friend Kate asked me, “What is your purpose?”  I use to have one.  My career was about advocating for workers and trying to make life better for them and their families, fighting for social and economic justice.  Now, what is my purpose?  I guess I don’t have one other than to enjoy life and visit as many beautiful places and friends I can on my Road2Reinvention. 

Recently, several people have asked, “when did you decide to do what you are doing?”  I couldn’t answer that question either.  I remember a sunny day walking dogs with Liz and telling her how terribly depressed I was.  Liz called it my “black dog”, and asked how was I going to get rid of it? I told her I wanted to quit work (aka retire) sell everything and travel in an Airstream.  That day I suppose I decided what my new purpose would be, and here I am, singing in my head a favorite song Further and Further Away,

I can see the place where I came from
I can hear those sounds right now
I can find the paths I used to run
And believe I still know how
Then I shake my head, clearing my vision
I keep those scenes at bay
And I can see the place where I came from
Slipping further and further away… (written by Cheryl Wheeler and sung by Kate Mattea)

My last reinvention is about moving away from friends and familiar places.  It is sometimes a solitary life that includes visiting places and making new temporary friends .  My travels always include destinations where longtime friends or family live.  Cousin Karen and I are planning a reunion at Kings Canyon Campground where we went as kids, and I will spend time in Tucson and Palm Springs with Alaska pals wintering in warm climates.  Hopefully, sister Kerry and brother-in-law Buzz with join me in their Sprinter.

Some people stay in your life forever.  Others drift away.  Visiting Washington, D.C., my last permanent address comes with mixed emotions.  I loved living here and made many good friends.  But each time I visit I see fewer and fewer.  I had hoped to do more walking and visiting recently reopened museums, but my broken toe has limited my walking (see my last blog post).

Also, I had hoped to play my favorite area golf courses. Renditions is tribute to golf’s greatest holes featuring 18 replica holes including the Amen Corner of Augusta and the island par 3 at TPC Sawgrass. 

My home course of Langston, named after John Mercer Langston, the first African American elected from Virginia to Congress and Howard University Law School dean. Langston opened in 1939 with the help of Secretary of the Interior Harold Ikes, because golf courses were segregated. Prior to the founding of Langston, African Americans played golf at Lincoln Memorial (now West Potomac Park) because the other public courses in the area were for whites only.  I would usually be the only white person playing the course, certainly the only single white woman.

Broken toe aside I am seeing friends and hanging on Capitol Hill at casa Tim and Liz, walking Lola and Maggie daily at our favorite place in Washington D.C. Congressional Cemetery.

Post pandemic feels like a new beginning.  As things reopen and face masks come off, I feel as if I am starting a new adventure.  I am hosting again, this time in North Carolina until September.

After hosting, In September I plan to head west to California, and travel the Pacific Coast Highway possibly play the best public golf courses under $50.  My idea of hiking is walking 18 holes.  However, I doubt my description of playing golf would be interesting to anyone.

This blog is a mixture of stuff, things I am thinking about, but it doesn’t have a purpose or consistent theme.  It was suggested I could retrace Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, but it has already been written.  Yesterday’s horoscope suggested good things to come.

So I am asking my readers to suggest a theme, possibly coherent topic.  I am thinking of a daily diary when I begin my westward-ho trek.  I plan not to make reservations, just go as I please.  But, this might be problematic, because camping has become so popular in the pandemic.  So, if you have ideas for a theme, please leave them here in the comments section.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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FEAR OF FALLING, & NEW FRIENDS

Living alone in a 20’ travel trailer, there are many things you fear might happen.  But the fear of falling takes top prize.  I know better than to hang my left foot off the golf cart when making my rounds, so why did I do it?  Stupidity on my part.  The first week I was at Kiptopeke VA State Park navigating between two trees I caught my left foot between the cart and a tree.  Really stupid.   Hit the gas instead of the break, making matters worse.  Three weeks later still hobbling around I finally went to an orthopedic, and yes, my middle toe is broken.  I am wearing a boot, and my foot feels so much better, thank goodness it is my left foot so I can drive.

I should be all healed by the time I visit Washington, D.C. in May.  Maggie is looking forward to daily trips to the Congressional Cemetery with her BFF Lola.

I have been meaning to write about people I meet along the road.  I am not living like those featured in the movie Nomadland, rather I am surrounded by family campers and retirees.  State and Federal campgrounds are so much better than “RV Resorts”.   Or Boondocking, which was depicted in the movie (free camping on public lands, no water or electric). At Kiptopeke, my co-host was a funny little man named John.  If I had to guess I would have placed him in the Trumper category, but I was wrong.  John boasted of is four ex-wives and numerous children.  He had survived a very bad car accident that kept in bed for almost a year, with two broken arms and other injuries.  John’s little dog, “Little Man” was a tiny Yorkie, that John was allergic too but still loved.  He was fun to work with, and more progressive than I would have guessed.  A real character.

Also, at Kiptopeke I met Karen.  New to solo RV life she was heading to Vermont for a two month “work camping” assignment.  Her experiences had not been great, cleaning bathrooms and chopping brush, so why she was trying again in VT was beyond me.  I will stick to campground hosting.  It did not appear she needed extra income, so I wasn’t sure why she was subjecting herself to hard labor.  Especially, when she has a horse at home that has his own website and been on the national news as the smartest horse alive.  Check out playingwithlukas.com.  Lukas can do lots of tricks, and count to 5.   If I had Lukas I won’t want to leave him for a life of work camping, but it takes all kinds.

At Myrtle Beach I met the LUV SUBBIN YouTube stars that have helped me with Airstream repairs including replacing a window by watching their DIY videos.  You can learn to do anything on YouTube.  LUV SUBBIN or Rich and Cindy have a channel, website, etc.  After watching many of their DIY videos, I felt like I had met movie stars when they showed up at the Myrtle Beach State Campground.

At the Port Saint Lucie RV Resort, I met Tara a recovering hair stylist.  Tara has a salon in Indiana and gave me a free hair cut I desperatley needed.  Like me, her co-pilot was a very sweet chocolate lab named Roxy.  Tara was exploring a new venture of creating window herb gardens for RVs.  Her dream was to travel to farmers markets and sell herbs with specialty cocktail recipes.

Ted and Nancy gave Maggie treats every morning when we passed by and I appreciated when their outside TV was on it was tuned to MSNBC.  It is people like these and others, that I need a  greeting card (aka business card), so I can share contact info and hopefully my new RV friends will subscribe to this blog and stay in touch, and maybe meet again in another campground.

This week we head for North Carolina, I don’t have a hosting position for May, so Scout (aka Airstream trailer) will go into storage and I will visit family and spend time in Washington, D.C. with friends that all have been stuck with the vaccine, and we can get together in a responsible socially distant manner.

In June I will be at Kerr Lake Recreation Area for hosting at JC Cooper Campground part of the North Carolina State Park system.

Stay tuned, and please subscribe on the webpage: www.Road2Reinvention.net.

 

 

Maggie, we aren’t in Florida anymore.

When sister Kerry announced she would be visiting Mom at the end of March, it was a no brainer to cut Florida short and drive 700 miles to North Carolina, since Kerry was traveling from Anchorage, Alaska.

But the temperature change of 37 degrees vs. 70 was not so fun.  I don’t care for cold weather, 35+ years in Alaska, and another 19 winters in Washington, D.C., I am done with cold temperatures under 60 degrees.  Call me a whimp.

But the trip was well worth it!  Sister Robin flew in before departing for her 3-year stint for Disney in Paris, France.  The Reardon sisters had a most excellent visit with Mom and Erv, post vaccine.  The end is in sight!  And yes, there was pie and great food, thanks to Becky pie maker extraodinaire, and Grill Master Chuck.

I am so very fortunate to have wonderful sisters and a great Mom!  We agree most of the time, and have fun together, especially at casa Becky and Chuck’s.  We cook, eat, play games, and take walks together.  Thank you my sisters, with gratitude.  

Arriving April 1 at Kiptopeke VA State Park, it was 37 degrees when I got up to do my 8:30 a.m. campsite check, but the sun has come out and temperatures are climbing into the 70s.  We aren’t in Florida anymore, but summer is on the way.

After my major screw up (see my last blog) with my campground hosting schedule I have been able to nail down other slots.

April – Kiptopeke

June – Kerr Lake Recreation Area NC, JC Cooper Campground

July & August – Pilot Mountain NC.

I prefer beaches, but JC Cooper is on the Kerr Reservoir and at Pilot Mountain the Yadkin River runs through the park.  Pilot Mountain is described as: Rising abruptly more than 2,000 feet, Pilot Mountain has been a navigational landmark for centuries, and is a recreational landmark as well, offering miles of trails, camping, climbing and spectacular scenery.” 

My summer is looking good, with a trip to Washington, D.C. in May to catch-up with friends.

Maggie has her new Campground Host tag, and I got a very sweet note from campers next door.  Life is good.  Stay tuned.

BEST LAID PLANS…

Today 3/18, I am packing up and will pull out tomorrow morning from Port Saint Lucie RV Resort after almost three months in sunny FL.   Maggie and I will miss our daily beach walks.  I fondly refer to “RV resorts” as a parking lot with a swimming pool.  The pool makes up somewhat for the parking lot.

Winter in Florida has been good, lots of golf and social distancing.  BFF Michelle had shoulder replacement surgery in February, so no beach or boating together.  She is on the mend, but I have missed our beach outings.

I signed up for a Johnson & Johnson trial and got my second shot on 3/15.  I will know after April 1, if I got the real deal or a placebo.  Most everyone I know has been vaccinated, and I look forward to actually seeing Mom for the longest hug ever!  Sister Kerry will be visiting Mom which is why I am leaving before the end of March, to get to North Carolina to see them both before going to Kiptopeke.

My bad news is I have totally messed up my summer.  I thought I was registered for campground hosting all summer, NAUGHT.  Unfortunately, the Virginia website was confusing and when I thought I was “register” I wasn’t.  Totally my fault.  Opps!

I am going to host at Kiptopeke VA State Park in April, and JC Cooper Campground Kerr Lake Recreation in June.  I am wait listed and hoping other hosts will cancel, so I can fill-in.  Also, I am calling other campgrounds to find potential vacancies.  Fingers crossed.  I love Kiptopeke and am thrilled I get to return for April.  I am really looking forward to being at JC Cooper (a new campground for me) on the Virginia North Carolina border, Kerr lake is huge the state border runs right through the middle of the lake.

I will be so glad to be back in a beautiful state park and out of the parking lot.  Needless to say I am very disappointed, but something will turn up.  Stay tuned.

NOMANDLAND

Last night I watched Nomadland starring Frances McDormand, based on the book by Jessica Bruder.

It is a depressing view of houseless seniors living in their vans and following the wisdom of Bob Wells author of CheapRVLiving.com.  Bob has become a YouTube and blog success with a significant following that he has been able to monetize.  Unlike the tragic characters profiled in the book and movie.

I found both the book and the movie unsettling, because Bob is a former Alaskan and the story begins in Nevada, two places I have lived.  Now I am also a nomad.  However, my lifestyle is very different from those featured in Nomadland.  I am grateful each and every day for my union pension and Social Security, especially annual cost of living increases.  I have not had to resort to working in an Amazon full-fillment center, harvesting sugar beets, or other hard work.   Campground hosts use to involve daily cleaning of the bath houses, but the only advantage of the virus is cleaning crews have been hired to clean the bathrooms 3-4 times per day.  The other characters play themselves and are the real houseless living out their on the road.

The irony of the book cover featuring a very sad Airstream trailer, is also not lost on me.

When I began my journey four years ago, I often joked I wanted Meryl Streep to play me in my movie.  But, I have come to discover my story is not that unusual, there are thousands of woman out here on the road2reinvention.  Just Google RV living or search Facebook: Solo Streaming Sisters, Progressive RVers, Single RVers, Single RVers Trying to Change That, Airstream Addicts, RV Chick Chat, Wally Byam Airstream Group – WBCCI, etc.

There are thousands of blogs, too.

Nomadland chronicles seniors living on the fringe, boondocking on public lands so not to pay nightly rental costs and working odd jobs to survive.   Their lives are better than homeless living under bridges, but they are one big repair bill away.

My neighbors are mostly retirees, and some work campers.  Traveling nurses, and construction workers going from job to job.  They live in BIG 5th wheelers or camping buses with all the conveniences of home, washer & dryer, satellite TV, fireplaces, you name it.

State parks can cost between $15 – $70 per night depending on amenities like full hook-ups (water, elective and sewer).  Private RV Resorts (parking lots with swimming pools) start at $50 and go up to over $100 per night.  There are discounts for weekly, monthly or longer-term stays.

The variety of campers intrigues me as well.  From customized vans to new varieties of tear drop trailers.  I saw this Alto at Kiptopeke State Park.  The Alto is made in Canada and can be customized to the buyer’s specifications.  It has a back-up remote control!  Unhook and use the joystick to back it into your campsite.  The entire roof lifts up to allow standing inside.  Very cute, and very compact.

Another very neat trailer comes in a kit the owner can build in their garage.  It is designed by a boat builder and has a really sweet kitchen on the back end.  These of course are for weekend campers, but you have to admire the ingenuity.

I recommend Nomadland, both the book and the movie.  Who doesn’t like Frances McDormand?  She is also welcome to play me in my movie.