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.

I AM MISSING MY CANADIAN AND OTHER FRIENDS.

This winter Canadians are enjoying a real cold and snowy winter.   I have met and remained friends with several Canadian RVers during my winters in Stuart, Florida; Tucson, Arizona and Palm Springs, California.  But this year, the border is closed.

A few years ago, in Palm Springs walking on for a round of golf I met three wonderful Canadian women about to tee off.  Their husbands were ahead of us, and we had a fun round.  We played that day and played several rounds together.  Not in 2021.

Last year in Florida, I met two nice Canadian couples, not golfers but enjoyed playing cards.  When Liz went home for knee surgery, I got to sit in as the fourth for Pinocle.  I enjoyed the company, but not necessarily the game.  No Pinocle, card games of any kind in 2021.  Hard to play cards six feet apart, not to mention passing the cards.

Last year I also met my newest golf gal friend Diane.  Diane is almost a Canadian because she lives in Maine.  We are bothnpassionate for golf and play well together.  Unfortunately, for safety Diane isn’t in Florida for this winter.  I miss you Diane everytime I walk on alone.

I met Phyllis and Chris at the Cactus Country RV resort in Tucson, AZ, and we became golf and dog walking pals.   They are from Michigan, and have good politics.

Sometimes it is difficult to find like minded campers or golfers.  My best hint is check the license plates or nationality.  Canadians are socialists, and you have better odds with blue or northeast states.

The joy of being a full-time RVer is meeting new people and hopefully in the future meeting again along the road.  I tend to return to places where I have friends, thus Tucson and Palm Springs are on my mind for 2022.

I am already signed up for campground hosting this summer for return engagements:  Westmoreland, First Landing and Kiptopeke Virginia state parks.  I am very excited to have a new park on my calendar for June, the North Carolina Kerr Lake Recreation Area, J.C. Cooper Campground.

Hey, friends trapped in your homes, think about camping this summer!  All these parks have cabins and yurts, or you can rent a camper!   Hopefully by summer we’ll be vaccinated, but we will still need to be careful socially distancing and wearing masks.  Here are my assignments for summer 2021:

May — Shanendoah River VA State Park, Bentonville, VA

June — J.C. Cooper Kerr Lake Recreation Area, Henderson, NC (site 91)

July & August — First Landing VA State Park, Virginia Beach, VA (Kendall Loop)

September — Kiptopeke VA State Park, Cape Charles, VA (C-10)

I am looking forward to summer.  The possibility to hug my Mom, visiting in person friends in Washington D.C.

Until then Maggie is enjoying her new haircut, daily walks on the beach, and my golf game is scoring in the 90s and I am hoping to break 89.  Stay tuned.

Before:

 

 

 

After:

2020 WHAT A LONG STRANGE YEAR IT WAS, IT’S GOT TO GET BETTER.

Photo by Kim Elton

Sorry for not writing sooner, the last few months of 2020 were tough for all of us, and I just couldn’t bring myself to write.

There are no words for the U.S. Capitol being mobbed and ransacked by crazy people 1/6/21.  As you know, I lived in Washington D.C. from 1999 to 2016 and loved the city, and mostly walking my favorite borrow-a-dog Lilly on the National Mall.  I always marveled at the people from all over the world taking their picture in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol dome.  The world’s symbol of democracy.  

Lilly was a great dog.

As an Advocate, aka Lobbyist, I went in and out of the Capitol almost every week for 17 years.  Just when I learned the way through the underground tunnels, 9/11 happened and security tightened restricting public access.  A few years ago, those restrictions began to lift, and we could again walk underground (with an authorized pass), but I am certain the tunnels will again be off-limits to the public conducting business in the Halls of Congress after the horror of 1/6/21.

What are we to do?  It is hard to sit by and watch this craziness.   Our country, flawed as it is, is still the very best place to live.  Especially my life visiting beautiful places, we are so very fortunate to have state and national parks to enjoy.  We need to continue to work for equity and shared prosperity.  But, that is for another blog.

So where have I been these past few months?

My summer of campground hosting was a great experience.  Starting at Westmoreland State park Virginia and finishing at Myrtle Beach State park South Carolina.  November and December at Myrtle Beach was great, horses on the beach, golf nearby and Becky and Chuck even came for a socially distanced visit.

Like all of us, I am desperate to hug my family and friends, eat inside at restaurants, go to a movie theater on a rainy day, hear live music and go to concerts, farmers markets and art festivals, etc. Thankfully, I am around people outside in campgrounds, six feet or farther away.

These campers were the exception, they had a bondfire!

Myrtle Beach was the first hosting position where 20-30 hours was required, which meant working indoors at the camp store.  I prefer the outside work of cleaning fire pits and checking campground sites.  Campers have been incredibly and unexpectedly responsible.  I really anticipated lots of trash and clean up, but that is not what I have experienced.   Campers love their state parks, good for them!

Heading south I made a quick stop at Hilton Head to visit Alaska pal Deb Bloom at her new Palmetto Dunes Resort art studio, three golf courses and pickle ball.  We were able to play 9 holes, see the ocean in the background.

Again, I am wintering in sunny Florida at the Port Saint Lucie RV Resort.  RV Resort means parking lot with a swimming pool.  Deb’s resort is a real “resort”, golf courses, swimming pools.

Maggie at Cliff Dr. cove, Laguna, CA. 2018

I am surrounded by Trumpers at the Port St. Lucie RV Resort.  Thankfully, there are some sane people, mostly Canadians and people from the northeast.  I met a very nice couple the first week I arrived from Laguna Beach, CA, Jeff and Val.  I love Laguna!  My family went to Laguna several summers before we moved the Anchorage, Alaska.  I made the mistake of asking if they supported Trump, they did and I distanced myself more than 6 feet.  They were only at the resort for a week, so I was able to avoid them.   It might have been different if they were here for the winter.  I felt bad after, but oh well.

Thank goodness for the Canadians, and of course Michelle and Duane.   Michelle is my very best friend from Alaska, we have known each other since working together at the Alaska State Ombudsman, Michelle was in Juneau and I lived in Anchorage.  We communicated by email in 1985!  Think about that? Email in 1985.  The Ombudsman was in the legislative branch of government and Alaska was awash in oil money.  Michelle and Duane are being very careful, so we visit around their pool.

Life is good here until April, and then I will head north for more campground hosting!  I promise to write more, and really appreciate those of you still reading.

As Mary Chapin Carpenter says, “stay strong, stay healthy, and stay mighty”.

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