THE ROAD AHEAD

I haven’t had a permanent residence since June 2016 when I retired from work and sold my Washington, D.C. home.  That summer I house sat Michelle and Duane’s beautiful Stuart, FL home.  Hurricane Mathew came roaring up the coast and I spent the night enclosed but had power, so I was able to check off riding out a hurricane from my bucket list.

That fall I bought Scout I, a 19” Airstream (AS) Flying Cloud in Houston, TX.  I drove west to Austin, Tucson, Palm Springs and up the west coast to Vallejo, CA.  Scout spent the summer of 2017 in storage in Sacramento, CA while I enjoyed my sister Robin’s Long Island home.  I found Scout II for sale in Nassau, NH.  Scout II is a 20’ AS Flying Cloud, the model I always wanted.  One foot gets a great kitchen, large shower, and a much better floor plan.  I sold the 19’ and moved into my new home – Scout II.

Since 2017 I have spent each summer at Robin’s house in Westhampton, NY.  Robin works for Disney (the Mouse) in Los Angeles and will be moving to Paris, France later this year.   I have been so grateful to have a successful and generous bi-coastal sister, with a summer house on Long Island.  Her move to France, however, makes leaving her NY home empty for winter less than desirable.  Wine vendor Mark has been living there since last October and will stay on through next winter.

This short synopsis of my life since retirement is to bring everyone up to speed on where my Road2Reinvention will take me going forward.    I will be a real “FULL-TIME RVer” for the first time since leaving my brick and wood home. 

Winter travel in Florida requires making reservations almost a year in advance.   Other places where snowbirds don’t congregate are generally easy to find camping spots – the kids are in school.  I have enjoyed my winter travels and this winter my semi-permanent place on Hutchinson Island being stationery from Christmas to end of April.  A pool and walking to the beach daily is a great life.  Also, I really like golf in FL.  The courses are green and there is no cactus.

Summer 2020 will bring new opportunities and challenges.  Challenges because I won’t be staying in Robin’s Long Island home; and, opportunities to travel in the northern states and maybe even Canada!  Spending summers on Long Island has limited my travel.  The challenges will be making camping reservations all summer, most notably finding places over weekends.   School is out and summer camping is one of my fond memories growing up.

It isn’t too difficult to find campgrounds but finding availability on weekends can be tough.  I foresee Wal-Mart Parking lots in my future.  Something I vowed never to do.  I would prefer to find campgrounds that allow stays of 10 -14 nights with full hook-ups.  Public campgrounds (National, state and county parks) prohibit stays longer than 14 nights.  But, public campgrounds rarely offer full hook-ups, no sewer connection means using public toilets and showers and very judicious use of water in the trailer for dishwashing.  I can stay just about a week before the black tank is full and requires a trip to a dump station.  If I am going to hook-up the trailer and drive to dump the black tank/wastewater tank, I might as well move along and try a new spot.

This summer there will be lots of moving, and places where I don’t know anyone.  Thank goodness Maggie is so great at introducing us to fellow travelers.  Two great apps for RVers help planning routes and stays, paper maps are a thing of the past.  AllStays and RVWizard are apps that show campgrounds, truck stops, rest areas, Wal-Marts, road elevation and grade, and low bridges.  RVWizard allows your route to be exported into an Excel spreadsheet, invaluable.

Tentatively, I have decided to head north to Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin where I have friends and family.  See a good part of the Great Lakes and Niagra Falls.  I will swing east in late August and head to Maine to visit my new golf pal Diane.  I plan to spend October to the election in North Carolina for GOTV hopefully defeating Trump, and electing Joe Biden.  Thanksgiving with Family in Chapel Hill, and then south again for winter TBD.

If you are in any of the places mentioned above beware!  More to follow and finalize, but for now, I will enjoy my FL winter and get Scout ready for 3,000+ miles of real “FULL-TIME RV” travel.  The travel will give me lots of time to write and I am certain there will be trials and tribulations to report on. 

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PITCH IT IN THE BIN

I have seven days to finish emptying my 5’x5’x10′ storage unit.  Thanks to Craig’s list and Facebook Marketplace I have sold stuff for $20 to $50 and donated lots to the Hospice Thrift Shop. At my first meeting with a potential buyer, she agreed to meet at 10:30 a.m.  At 10:20 a.m. she texted to say she was just leaving; 45 minutes later, she shows up and says, no I don’t I want it.  A harbinger of things to come?  Luckily and my other sales have gone well and I am down to family photos and odds and ends.  I only wish I had done this when I left Washington, D.C., and not brought stuff to FL.  The D.C. population is very transient lots of college students and interns.  What was I thinking?  For a moment I thought I might buy a condo in Florida, so a storage unit made sense at the time.

I have stopped my autopay and will be out of the storage unit on February 28.  Whatever is left is going to be “chucked in the bin”.  It is the family photos I feel really bad about, but a woman with no kids, don’t have anyone to give photos to, so they will be the last to be chucked.

After 4 years, I really didn’t remember what I thought I wanted, or would want?  I am surprised every time I open a box.  Boxes of books?  Sheets, pillows and other linens?  And, a lot of kitchen stuff.   I admit I love kitchen gadgets, pots, and pans, my Cuisinart food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer, etc.   

I did find my Imelda Marcos golf shoe collection.  They are all in plastic shoe boxes, and in great shape.  Did I really need all those golf shoes?  Did Imelda ever ask herself if she needed all those shoes?  I have two pairs of golf shoes in Scout, and they do me just fine.

It is my 66 birthday and seems the very best time to lighten the load.  When my Dad died all he had to his name was a watch.  We gave it away, what are four daughters going to do with a silly man’s watch. 

Seven days and counting with some cash in hand, and FREE of stuff!

 

PET PEEVES

Today while driving to my storage unit to get rid of one more thing I encountered an angry driver.  Having lived in a city for 17 years I learned city driving techniques. First and foremost “don’t block the box”.  This means when a traffic light is about to turn red, don’t be in the middle of the intersection.  However, drivers in Florida don’t seem to understand the concept. 

Two lanes of traffic plus a left turn lane.  A driver coming out of CVS parking lot, most likely a senior citizen picking up an overpriced prescription.  Call him Driver A, he wants to cross two lanes of traffic and get into the left turn lane.  The traffic signal is red and lots of cars are in all lanes.  I stop to let Driver A cross in front of me, he blocks the second lane, but the light is still red.

Up comes another driver who proceeds to lay on his horn.  Driver A is blocking his lane, but the light is red and no one is moving.  Luckily the passenger rolls down her window to shout at me about the car blocking their path.  I say, “he is trying to get into the left turn lane”.   To which she gives me the finger and says something very colorful.  At this moment the left turn light changes to green and Driver A is allowed to enter the lane and goes on his merry way.  However, the traffic is backed up and the finger lady and companion driver advance three cars and the light turns red.  They are again stuck in traffic.  Perfect, I come alongside of them and smile.  She rolls down her window and says, “have a nice day”.  I say, “hope you do the same”.

This is one of my pet peeves.  People in a hurry to go nowhere. 

In retirement, you are never in a hurry.  I even enjoy driving slowly so the stupid driver behind me can’t race up to that red light and stop.  Even better they pass me in a terrible rush, and we meet at the next red light.  I smile and wave.

Another pet peeve is shopping carts.  If you are elderly and infirmed I understand you can’t take your shopping cart back to the front door or to a cart stand in the parking lot.   I am not sure you should be driving, but that is another issue.  I try to park next to the shopping cart return stall.  It helps me find my car and makes it easy to return my cart.  So, the other day at Total Wine a guy unloads a couple of boxes of alcohol into his very big SUV and leaves his cart on the sidewalk.  If you are able to drive an SUV and buy lots of alcohol, shouldn’t you be able to return your shopping cart, so you don’t block the sidewalk?  Guess naught.

The same goes for people in grocery stores.  Are you completely unaware of the people around you?  YES.  So, you stand in the middle of the aisle, and leave your shopping cart a few yards away, with absolutely no perception of people around you.  Shoppers who are trying to get by or look at something on the same aisle. 

Yikes, look around you, please.  And, please don’t get me started on adults shopping with kids.   Can’t you leave them at home?

And finally, when you are standing in a very long line at the movie theater can’t you look up at the lighted menu and know what you want?  You have been in line for at least 5 minutes, but you don’t know what you want?  See that big lighted sign telling you everything on the menu and the price.  Why are you waiting till you get to the counter to look up and read the menu?

These are just a few of my pet peeves.  Thank goodness I don’t carry a gun.  No, I just smile and say have a great day.

DO WE REALLY NEED ALL THAT STUFF?

Living in a 20′ Airstream makes you very conscientious of things. Buy something new something old needs to go. Selling a three-story row house in Washington, D.C. to begin the Road2Reinvention, I sold, donated and just gave away most of my stuff. Doing so I felt like I was throwing hundred dollar bills out the window. I wish I had bought Nordstrom stock instead of all those shoes.  At the time those shoes look awesome. Bad decisions all around. Shoes, clothes, and stuff didn’t make me happy. I am so very happy now.

The self-storage industry in the United States boasts more than 50,000 facilities and roughly 3 billion square feet of rentable space making over $38 billion annually. The Millennials seem to have their “stuff” together, they don’t want stuff!

I am so very grateful niece Rachel and Adam were happy to get my Christmas ornaments and fly fishing gear.  I haven’t had a Christmas tree since I left Anchorage in 1995, or put a line in the water.  More boxes GONE!  Rachel was born to fish, here she is with her 1st King Salmon caught at the King Bear lodge.

I have been paying $56 a month for a 5’x5’x12′ storage unit, thinking someday I might want walls again. HA!

You do the math. After 4 years, I could buy that stuff ten times over. A Cuisinart food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer, favorite kitchen utensils, some small furniture, and who knows what else? I went to the storage unit for the first time in 2 years. Visiting stuff you haven’t seen in 2 years isn’t fun — it is downright depressing.  Should I just stop paying the bill and maybe see my stuff on that reality TV show where weird people buy storage units hoping to find a forgotten treasure? Very tempting.

The plan is to take pictures and put stuff on Facebook Market Place and maybe Craig’s list. I hope to get $20+ for each item of stuff that cost me much more.

It is the personal stuff I don’t know what to do with, pictures, etc.  What does a single woman with no kids do with pictures? Toss them into a dumpster? I have posted some old photos on my Facebook page, so they will live forever on the world wide web after I am gone. Not that anyone will care.  Before leaving D.C. I sent a box to an outfit that converted photos and slides to a CD.  But, kids these days don’t even know what slides are.  OK, boomer.

All I have to say to anyone reading this, don’t buy that stuff! Remember when President W told us all “to go shopping” after 9/11. That made me stop shopping for several months. But, I was still working and those Nordstroms shoes looked so marvelous. I just left two of my favorite pair today at the Hospice Thrift Store in Stuart, FL. In Florida, there are Thrift stores on every corner and in every strip mall. You can furnish many homes shopping thrift stores in Florida. And, I am not talking Goodwill. There are consignment stores with stuff that originally cost big bucks. Michelle and I went down to Palm Beach the other day and she got two Persian rugs for $300 each. They are huge rugs that would cost $3,000 or more in any rug store. Florida is where people go to die.  So donating to the Hospice Thrift store should mean something.

I am committed to getting rid of whatever the Fu*k is in my storage unit, saving $56 a month. If I can live without it for four years, I don’t need it, whatever it is? 

I have everything I need in my 20′ Airstream.  In fact, I have too much stuff, even in Scout.  Walking on the beach every day, playing golf, and just enjoying life.  The Three G; Gas, Groceries and Green fees.  What else does a single woman need?  Certainly not stuff.

FACEBOOK, and Friends

I have been thinking a lot about friends, past and present.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to have many friends around the country that I look forward to visiting on my Road2Reinvention.  According to Facebook, I have 294 friends.  I know, I know, I should take the Facebook ban challenge and delete FB.  BUT, I like FB.  It allows me to keep up with “friends”, real friends and FB friends (you know who you are), family, former colleagues, and people I don’t really know but they wanted to be my friend.  So, NO I won’t be deleting FB.

Niece Rachel and husband Adam are off Facebook, which I understand, but wish I could enjoy their new Wisconsin life vicariously.  Or is that really stalking?

Yes, FB is very annoying.  For instance, FB just told me John L and I have been friends for 10 year.  No, we were friends long before FB.

My favorite FB story is about my college housemate Lauren.  Since sharing a house in Eugene, Oregon in 1979 we have stayed in touch.  After college Lauren married her high school sweetheart Marc and they moved to Takoma, WA and had two boys.  After my graduation I returned to Anchorage, Alaska.  Lauren and I stayed in touch and would see each other occasionally. 

Fast forward…

Years later, and I don’t remember the exact year, Lauren came to Washington, D.C. for a conference.  The great thing about D.C. is so many friends would come for work, and we could catch-up.  I picked her up at National Airport and on our way back to my Capitol Hill home we started to catch-up, how are the boys doing, etc.  Then the conversation turned to Marc.  “How is Marc?” I asked?  Lauren relied, “you don’t know”.  Great!  I thought she finally left the bum, or he left her.  Nope, he was dead.  Needless to say, I never liked Marc.  He was self-centered and cheated on her repeatedly with young woman at his local theater.  Marc was a legend in his own mind – he was a total shit.  But my dear friend Lauren loved him. 

So how did I miss Marc dying?  Lauren and I have been FB friends for years, so I was surprised I had missed all her postings of his illness and death.  It’s those crazy algorithms that show you stuff you don’t care to see, and how you can miss the death of a friend’s husband.

Of course, I don’t rely on FB for my political education, but I do post as many anti-Trump articles from legitimate news outlets – The Washington Post, New York Times, The Atlantic, the New Yorker, etc.  YES, of course Facebook should ban ALL political advertising.  If Twitter can do it, why not!  I detest Twitter.

Mostly I use FB to keep in touch with far flung friends, Lisa and Dean in TX, Hilary, Robyn, Bruce, Lydia, and other Alaskan pals, former colleagues still working and carrying on the good the fight for economic justice, marriages, kids, birthdays and travels.  Nephew David serving in the US Airforce, his wife and cute kid stationed in Italy.  Former colleagues Jill living in Thailand and working with refugees on the border, and Lindsey in good health raising her darling talented singing daughter in WI.  Both Lindsey and Jill are cancer survirors and it is always a joy to see their healthy smiling faces. 

I don’t look at the ads or buy anything linked to FB.  I make it a point they aren’t making money off me.  Of course, they have my data.  Whatever that means?  I doubt seriously they will be able to convince me to vote for Donald Trump.  I suspect my data demonstrats I am not in their targeted audience of gullible, stupid, unintelligent voters.

So, I won’t be unfriending Facebook in 2020.   

Recently I have been reflecting on many friends I am no longer close to or in contact with.  Some of them are on FB friends, so I can glance at their page.  Does that make me a stalker?   There are a handful of long-lost friends, I know longer see or communicate with, which breaks my heart.  Mostly Alaskan pals who saw me through very tough times, and I thought I could never live without.  As years and miles come between us, I wonder why we aren’t still friends?  Is it miles or somehow my fault?  

Canadian Cathy in Palm Springs winter 2019.

Phyllis Tucson winter 2019

In my travels I have made some great new friends.  My new best friend is Diane from Maine, we met at the local golf course, and are playing together twice a week.  It’s nice to have a pal who wants to play golf.  I only wish I would meet a nice guy on the first tee.  So far I have met some great woman friends Kate (MD), Cathy (Canada), Phyllis (AZ) and now Diane.

But, I think of my lost friend’s I am no longer in contact with, even on Facebook.  I still Love You.  I hope you think of me fondly, once in awhile.  Maybe one day I will end up in your driveway.  Who knows?