Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Best Laid Plans...

Circumstances change our itinerary changed, and our schedule, but G-D's alternative provisions are a reminder that it always works out for good. He is right here with us.

We left Lake City, and as we approached Dothan, our next stop, we began to see the aftermath of a recent hurricane. Much had been cleared but there was much debris. Evidence of heartbreak and destruction was everywhere. We called our friends the Basarabs who were staying with friends because of the extensive damage to their home. They drove to meet us at the Alabama-Florida line south of Dothan where we had a wonderful time of sharing. Our couch is full of books so there was nowhere to sit in the motorhome, but we chatted on.
It's always an inspiration to be around Alexei, Svetlana and their amazing kids who are free with their hugs
We had not asked, but Alexei had arranged safe and quiet parking in front of the Dothan Messianic Worship Center. It had everything except 30 amp power to run our A/C. But we were tired and slept well in spite of the heat. Was so thrilled to see this place because I have prayed for several years that a Messianic congregation would form in the Dothan area where we lived for five years.

Our cat doesn't like his litter box. He prefers to go outside and will "hold his water" for a seriously long time. Here, however, he could go out as often as he wanted. He always comes right back in a matter of minutes, no matter where we're parked.

The RVi3. We love it, and it works great.

Our RVi3 brake assist was installed in Lake City, well, the unit just sits on the floor, but they needed to thread the breakaway wiring through the firewall, etc. The system responds the inertia as the RV brakes are applied and mechanically depresses the brake pedal of the towed vehicle. The unit weighs just ten pounds and can be set in place and calibrated in about 30 seconds.  

Richard waiting for me in Camping World.
Our super slide needs serious work, so, we  unhooked the "toad" (nickname for the towed passenger vehicle behind the RV) and drove to Camping World. They didn't have time to work on it... too busy with hurricane victims. But as he told us that, the mechanic asked if we needed a place to stay, with hookups! We had not mentioned we needed to power up our generator to keep the pets cool. So, we moved to Camping World where we were parked on concrete. Richard carried Jasper over to some dirt and greenery and set him down to do his catly duty, but Jasper flipped his tail and promptly rushed back to the concrete where he released a shockingly large quantity of urine then ran to the motorhome steps to be let back in. 

We visited our old Dothan houses. When we lived here we bought two fixer-uppers, repaired and upgraded them and then resold them. That was almost twenty years ago. It was sad to see their present condition. Two are trashed and the one we lived in still looks fine.  

We lived in AL for five years, 1999-2004
We saw some of our dear friends, but could not connect with many others. We were blessed to visit the Skippers and their fascinating dogs. Jamie Skipper is our G-d daughter and it's hard to imagine she is almost an adult! Joseph, her brother, is a budding author. I am helping with some editing, mostly grammatical stuff.

Jamie and I
Carol fixed us a special dinner which included the best warm from the oven banana pudding with perfect meringue. I was not embarrassed to ask to take a portion of dinner and dessert home. 
Joseph and I
The Siglers were busy becoming grandparents and we couldn't stay until Sunday to see most of our Harvest Church friends but we got special treat with a surprise visit with Janet Fleming who we thought was out of town. We also had a nice visit with Bobby Lewis. 

Just a little under bite. He didn't bite me...
Dallas was to be our next stop where we planned to attend Shabbat services and visit special friends. We had reservations for Friday and Saturday at Lake Tawakoni, a Thousand Trails Campground (free for us), but it was flooded and we discovered widespread flooding and travel advisories all over Texas. We thought we'd go north, but ice was predicted, so we stayed as far south as possible.

Jimmy with his deaf friend

As is our pattern, we got a late start and managed to leave by early Wednesday afternoon, but that's part of the freedom of retired life on the road, isn't it?  I did the late afternoon and night driving and it was late when we finally slept at the Atchafalaya Welcome Center near Henderson, LA. It was literally jam packed with trucks and at about 4:00 AM a trucker woke us up to ask us to move so he could get his rig out.

We had reservations for Thursday night at the Colorado River RV Resort, part of our free stays at Thousand Trails campgrounds. It was so nice. All kinds of wildlife, and the camp sites were arranged in small groups all over the property. 

This girl is made of nothing but love and hair.
We made 438 miles today, each driving about half of that and are parked at a small truck stop in west Texas at the 261 mile marker. 

All systems continue to be go. Only small rainy patches along the way. We've eaten most of our meals in the motorhome... In fact we have only bought one meal since we started thanks to sweet friends who have either bought us food or cooked it.

G-D has taken excellent loving care of us and now it is Shabbat, the Day of Rest...  and we shall.

Monday, October 15, 2018

On the Road Again, Finally!

We planned to leave Orlando to wander the U.S. of A. toward the end of July, but we finally got underway Oct. 12th with a lot of help from our friends Debbie and Kevin. Well, Kevin did the work Richard could not do while Debbie and I talked. But before we could leave, there were things to take care of...

Richard after his first surgery.
First off, Richard woke up one morning unable to see out of his right eye! Detached retina, not good! Two surgeries and three weeks recuperating set him ready for driving in the day time, still no bending, stooping or lifting over ten pounds. And his doctor wanted him to be all set up with another surgeon before she would release him. A few calls to the VA Medical Center in Las Vegas and we were all set.  Well, almost...

We tow our vehicle with the Blue Ox tow bar which we love. But we have purchased a new Ford Explorer so had to have a tow plate installed. Quite an undertaking. We had Carlos, owner of Auto One Repair, do the job. He's a master mechanic and an all round nice guy, and he is reasonable and reliable.

Charging my batteries at Disney World.
I use a scooter to get around and although our children pitched in and bought me a new one a while back, I've run the wheels off of it and it's range has begun to wane so I needed a new battery before I would have reliable wheels. I don't want to find myself locked inside a building like this again...

After meeting up with friends Connie and Sam for an inspiring performance by MercyMe at Disney World, I went to the American Adventure building to charge my scooter in the Indian Museum. They told me it would close when the fireworks began. I don't hear well but I assumed someone would come and chase folks out before locking up. But no one came and I began to wonder if anyone was about. I unplugged my scooter and toured the place only to find I had it all to myself. Then I shouted a few times. Nothing. So, I broke out. Not as bad as it sounds because all I did was duck under the velvet ropes and push the front doors open.

Carlos refused payment.
The scooter has to travel with us on a carrier that has never been quite right, as you'll note in the pictures. Our mechanic friend Carlos rewelded and set the carrier aright, even matching the paint on the SUV to the carrier arm... and when we tried to pay him, he just smiled and told us to have a safe trip. His heart is as big as our rig.
Auto One, I wish we could bring them on our trip.

The not quite right carrier... Huh?
We had to play Bingo one last time at Kissimmee South RV Resort, had to go out to eat once more with our daughter Athena, attend Beit Yisrael Messianic Congregation... it was hard to leave even though we both looked forward to it with happy anticipation.

Last Kissimmee South Bingo for a while. Hope they don't forget us.
 So, we finally head out, the first leg of our journey a short one, a mere 168 miles. We ate and fueled on the Florida Turnpike and laughed at ourselves, two old truckers who were already pooped out and not even three hours from the start point! But the excitement is real. 

Debbie at Olustee Depot
This is a new way of life for us, roving from place to place with no set obligations. Wow, we really are retired!. Our first stop, however is a place we lived for a year while volunteering for the Osceola Nat'l. Forest. We drove out to Olustee and checked out the depot I operated for a time. It looked lonely and some passers by, Debbie and Herman, said they had lived nearby for two years and had never seen it open. I was sad. Debbie said she might go talk to the Forest Rangers about volunteering.
Olustee Depot and Museum

Then we drove on out to the Olustee Beach Day Use Park and Boat Landing. The host space where we had lived was empty, but the park was clean and well kept.
Host camp site where we had lived.
And at last, we were off... Not towing the SUV, however.
 Most states require braking assist mechanisms when towing a heavier vehicle like an SUV. After much research, we ordered the RVi3 variable braking system. It's made in Colorado and arrived just before we were to leave so there was no time to install and still be able to worship at Kol HaMashiach. Hence, we did not tow the SUV behind the motorhome. Instead, we each drove a vehicle to Lake City and we have an appointment at Camping World to have the RVi3 installed in the morning before we leave.
Saw this cute place while still in our local area of Florida.

Sommer and Jerry led us in study.
Our old congregation here in Lake City, Kol HaMashiach has RV parking and hookups (not sewer) and graciously hosted us as they have before. We spent a time of worship and study with them on the Sabbath (Saturday). The regular leadership are in Israel just now so our capable guides were the Yunes.  What a blessing!

Dear friends Judy and Theresa
Then today (Sunday) we plotted out our stops for the rest of our journey, did a few chores, cleaned and filled our water tank and met friends to play Bingo at the American Legion Post #57. We've been away three years and yet a great many folks remembered us. The Caller announced our presence and the kitchen ladies were all excited to see us. Makes one feel so good. We wanted to play again at the Moose, but they play on days we won't be here.
Yay, they remembered us!

So tomorrow, we'll be off to Dothan, Alabama, the second stop of our journey. That's the plan, anyway, but stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Feels Like Family

One of the things I was concerned about when we were first planning to "hit the road" was loss of community. I was afraid wanderers wouldn't have ongoing relationships and conversations over the back fence, or the sense of belonging to a group such as a synagog or neighborhood. When trouble came, who would come alongside to comfort, pray and lend aid? Would "the road" be a lonely place?

We learned early on that there was nothing to worry about. Not far into our journey into the full-timing world, we had one breakdown after another and were feeling truly discouraged. We ended up parked in front of service bay doors at Freightliner in Grand Junction, CO. For TEN DAYS! Long, hot and expensive days. But the shop had wifi and we belonged to several online groups, one was for Safari owners. We kept in touch. These people are awesome. One couple was nearby traveling in their four-wheeler. They made a special detour to stop by for a visit. Something about that visit from nice people we never met before taught me a valuable lesson. If you share and reach out, others will, too.
Wild Duck and Piper came to visit us at Freightliner in Grand Junction, CO

Richard and I drove truck on and off for several years and we both know well the brotherhood that exists among truck drivers. And we have owned a number of varied RVs throughout our marriage but didn't really travel far in them so we didn't recognize the bond of fellow RVers right away. 

Whether is's in the campground or on the highway or stranded in a repair shop somewhere, the sense of community among RVers and campers of all stripes is strong... just as the bond among people of faith is strong.

Walking out our faith is an important part of our lives, and since we are Messianic Believers, neither Christians nor Rabbinical Jews,  finding fellow believers can be a challenge. However, in most places where we've spent time, there has been a body of like believers, albeit sometimes small. Interestingly enough, we still keep in touch with those we have met all along the way. Facebook is really a good tool for that.
We are still in touch with the sweet people of Kol HaMashiach in Lake City, FL. Note Richard in the back row, blue shirt.
We moved out of Kissimmee South RV Resort May 31 where we had been parked since April, 2016 while Richard went back to work for Disney World so we could pay off some debt and get ready to travel again without so many breakdowns. 
Some of the friendly crew at Kissimmee South RV Resort
Richard will be working until the end of August, but we quit renting RV space when we bought an used upgraded Thousand Trails Campground membership. The expedited everything and we had one day notice that we could move to a TT Resort rent free. The crew at Kissimmee South were gracious and so sweet, waiving the notice requirement for long term renters. I still go play Bingo with them.

The internet is a fantastic way to keep in touch, as I said above, but it gets harder all the time to achieve coverage in campgrounds and mobile hotspot from your phone is limited and costly. More on that later. Meanwhile, I have a medical procedure Wednesday morning and will try to post soon thereafter about how to take care of medical needs on the road.

We'll be roaming all over and I'm just now creating a map showing all our free campgrounds and beginning to add friends and relatives we want to visit. Can't wait to take off!
All our campgrounds/resorts and just starting to add some of our possible destinations.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Big Brother Does it Again

New Law on Painkillers Please  click the link to the left and read this short News story.

Big Brother does it again. In trying to protect us from ourselves, they end up harming the most vulnerable of us. Due to several untreatable medical conditions, I have suffered from chronic and sometimes acute pain, moderate to severe, for about ten years. I am on two opiates to try to manage this pain, one slow release to give a base level of relief and the other fast acting to manage breakthrough pain. It is a regime reserved for cancer patients and those who suffer from untreatable, long term conditions with moderate to severe pain.

Without these meds, I cannot function, period. The pain takes over, demanding all my attention and driving me to do anything for relief... I pray, I lay in bed sweating profusely, often vomiting, and I moan because I can't help myself. Tears come, accompanied by anger and frustration that the medication that can make my life bearable is almost impossible to get. And no, I am not an addict. One look at my X-rays and there is no doubt of the need for medication. It's crazy!
The face of advancing pain. It is moderately bad here and can progress to severe within 30 minutes or less.
Our nation and especially Florida has been waging a war on prescription drugs. Sadly, their efforts have added to the suffering of those with legitimate needs than cutting back on those with recreational drives.

For months now, pharmacies have been experiencing a contrived short supply of opiates. I have to spend days trolling for a place where my prescription can be filled. One month, we could only find a place that had 35 pills out of the 120 I was prescribed. I gladly took the lesser amount only to later discover I could not fill the remainder since controlled prescriptions cannot be split. It took two more trips to the doctor's office and many trips to pharmacies to finally fill my whole prescription, but the sad affair left me in several days of agony because I was out of meds. 
Also, in a relatively short time the cost of a month's supply of one of my pain meds soared from $45 to $280!!! This means my copay is now more than the entire cost of the med only a short while back.
Today, I went to fill my prescription for the long acting med, but the new law, which took effect July 1st, requires a diagnosis and specific wording be written on the scrip, so the pharmacist, who knows me well, could not fill the prescription. I was sent back to the doctor who has been my physician for over ten years, and she immediately wrote a new prescription. The one it replaced had been written in June so that I wouldn't have to pay again for an office visit. She didn't charge me for today. 

Then, when I got back to the pharmacy, they only had 35 of the 60 that I needed! We hit the streets again, drug shopping. Finally, after over an hour, we got my meds. It had taken all day and to stay relatively comfortable, I need to spend several hours laying flat in bed... So it's been a painful day and promises to be a worse night. Ridiculous.
Pain keeps me flat parts of every day, but my trusty guard dog keeps me company.

So, here I have a doctor and pharmacists who know me... but on the road, I will just be a stranger looking for pain relief. How hard will it be for a doctor to look at my X-rays, believe I am legit and haven't got falsified papers... These laws turn me into a potential "druggie" and I may really have a time getting help. I am praying.

I am one of the lucky ones, those who are terminal, have cancer or long term incurable disorders. Those who simply hurt from accidents, surgeries, or any less dire causes of pain, no matter how severe can only get a prescription for a 3 to 7 day supply of pain meds! Are they kidding? There is no estimating the amount of suffering that has already been caused by these politicos tampering with drug administration, but now they have, knowingly or not, inflicted a near fatal blow to the humane practice of medicine.

What makes me most frustrated is that there is no real concern for the patient. Most of it is political posturing from both parties. The doctors and pharmacists hate it and they were not really consulted! The government has usurped the ability of professionals to care for the medical and pharmaceutical needs of patients.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Are We Living' the Dream or Are We Homeless?

For many years we have chased the impossible dream of wandering aimlessly around the country in an RV, stopping here and there for as long as we want, just enjoying the beauty and the wonder of this great land. But who can afford that, right?
Dreaming to wander... This taken at Orlando Thousand Trails RV Resort.
We began living full time in an RV nine years ago and recently bought 38 feet of mobile joy in the body of a 2017 Thor Challenger thus taking care of part "the Dream." 
Volunteering at Olustee, FL in our 30 foot Hurricane.
Also, we traveled the country volunteering in the National Parks and Forests in exchange for a full hook ups pad. And there are many workamper  opportunities, as well. But neither scenario fulfills our fancy free Happy Camper hopes. 
Volunteering at Boise Creek Campground in northern California.
Let's be real, RV campgrounds and resorts are pricey and boondocking (dry camping) has lost its adventuresome appeal at our age, since I am crowding 80 and some of my parts are already done in.
With my therapist two weeks after back surgery in 2013... Yes, they were remodeling the rehab center.
One of the reasons we came off the road was to pay off some debts, and now we have more debt than we came with, so paying pad rent is out unless we land somewhere with a monthly discount... Not what we were dreaming of, actually, but not the end of the world for I did love volunteering.
I truly loved volunteering but now, I'm just not up to it.
We continued to pray for a way. Prayer works and we were convinced that something would come along... or we'd go back to volunteering.
Our faith is a big part of our lives and  we believe in the power of Prayer. This little chapel in Las Vegas is where we renewed our vows on our 30th anniversary. The picture above was taken years later.

Well, when we bought our motorhome from LaMesa RV Sales, they gave us a one year Thousand Trails campground membership. You can stay 14 days free in the area of the country you pick, then be out of their system 7 days, then 14 days in any of their parks (in your chosen area of the country) over and over all year long. A great plan, but you're still stuck paying for your 7 day stays in between your freebie 14 days.
Free is great, but do we really want to relocate every two to three weeks?
But they offer an upgrade which gives you the whole country in all their 81 resorts, 21 day stays (now 28, I think) back to back at another park. Rent free all year! 
Are we privileged resort hoppers or are we homeless? It's all in the attitude. We feel pretty privileged.

We checked it out, found there was a healthy market for used memberships (upgraded ones) which are transferable. We discovered a number of Disney drivers live in RVs and bounce from park to park in this area, living rent free with electricity and internet free as well plus great amenities and activities at each resort.
Parking, canoes, observation dock (you can see Disney's fireworks from here while seated in a porch swing) and a dog park (back in the trees to the right) add to the charm of this small lake at Orlando TT park.
We dealt with a reputable resale agent Kimberly Hoel, phone 800-272-0401. She's amazing and we saved over half and got benefits no longer available on new upgrades. We could not be happier.
Our shaded site at Orlando TT RV Resort
So, on June 1, we moved from Kissimmee South to Orlando Thousand Trails RV Resort in Clermont where we stayed 21 beautiful days in a secluded and shady spot before moving to Tropical Palms RV Resort where we will be until July 6 when we have reservations to move back to Orlando TT RV Resort again for another 21 days... 
Looking out our windshield as the park fills up for Independence Day. There is a wildlife preserve just behind us and deer wander all over here, but they'll soon hide. We chose the more remote, less developed section of the park.
Deer wander through this section of Tropical Palms Park. Ducks are seen all over, short, fat and colorful. We've also seen turtles, a harmless snake, hawks and other birds... and cats, several. Our cat is happy to come and go with the others.

After that, we are not sure. We planned to head north at the end of the month, but I have a medical procedure coming up and Richard may get a bonus at Disney if he's still there in early August. Life is good but not always predictable.
Bingo says he's not homeless. There's his pillow up near the window so he can watch the world and save us from invaders.
Our daughter, Athena. Yes, fun runs in the family.
So, are we homeless? Sort of, but in another way, we live in luxury... a beautiful home on wheels, free spirits moving from one resort to another. I feel very blessed.

A note to other free thinkers. We've met so many people who full time it in trailers, motorhomes or other mobile accommodations, some boondock it, others workamp while yet others live off of pensions of some sort. Now, we are meeting folks who live free as they work full time, or are fully retired or something in between... some home schoolers. 

Richard with his thinking cap on.
A campground membership lets us live rent free, and we found only one that actually provides FREE living including electricity and usually wifi, and that is the Thousand Trails used membership since you can save about half off a new one. We bought the membership for a one time $3350, then you pay $550 - $600 annual dues. You can get a whole raft of other campgrounds by just paying their annual dues of $199. And beyond that you can accept a free membership in RPI parks for annual dues of around $100, so you can live rent free all over the country for under a grand! But if you just want to hang in one area, you may not need the extra membership.
Iona knows how to eat dinner. Desert first.

No, I am not a sales agent, just a happy customer. If you do buy a membership from Kimberly at Campground Membership Outlet, she will ask how you learned about her. Tell her Iona Hoeppner sent you and she'll buy us dinner. I will, of course, eat dessert first, then the traditional main course, and take home left overs. This is peanut butter chocolate cake at the Prime Time 50's Cafe at Walt Disney World.

Are you ready for Independence Day? Have a safe and fun one!