Afternoon jumping joy photo with Ken Lardizabal!

Afternoon jumping joy photo with Ken Lardizabal!.

Ms. Baker’s photos always bring a smile to my face and I love her project of spreading the joy!

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Job Hunting in Retirement

Everett and I are feeling somewhat at odds with each other.  This is to be expected from time to time in any relationship and all mature adults are aware that compromise is the shining beacon of “getting along”.  This knowledge doesn’t make it easier when in the midst of disagreement.

One of the joys of a semi-retired, full-time RVing life is the periodic bout of planning where to go next.  You know that our fall and winter plans for this year are all set and we’re suffering “hitch itch”* until we can get on the road south.  That having been said, I was still surfing the Internet with an eye toward landing our next workamping gig – for summer 2014 or the following winter.  I just didn’t want to end up as a snowbird, driving from Point A in New England to Point B in Florida year after year.  If I wanted routine, I’d have stayed in Maine, eh?  So in my open minded searching for new adventures, I found an ad for a nice little job in southwest Texas at an RV Park/motel.  The owners were a wonderful couple who had improved their property from a late-40’s style motor court into a modern resort catering to tourists (headed to the Big Bend National Park) and stargazers (they have a Class 1 Dark Sky in this part of Texas – I had to look it up, you should too).  The job would be front desk for me and general resort maintenance type things for Everett – enough to keep us busy but give us plenty of time to explore the region.  I was so excited.  This was exactly what I was looking for.  I all but accepted the job without discussing it with Everett – but having been together for more than a month, I realized that would be wrong.

“It’s WHERE?” was his first response.  “How far’s the closest Wal-Mart?” was his second.  “What’ll we DO on our time off?” was his next salvo.  The resort owner kindly provided us with some figures:  450 people live in the community, Wal-Mart is 58 miles northwest, golf and restaurants are relatively close at 30 miles west (hey, that’s barely a half hour’s drive, right?), and they’d prefer a long term commitment of 6-12 months (which I certainly understand – staff turnover can be very difficult and having to deal with it every 3-5 months would be tiresome at best).

Now I can think of a million things to do in that area on our time off – just walking the dog would be an adventure, and I should think it would be possible to get to know each and every one of those 450 residents over the course of six or seven months.  Weren’t we retired so we could s-l-o-o-w d-o-w-n from our fast-paced New England worklife?  But Everett was having none of it.  The thought of all that dark sky wasn’t attractive to him.  Star gazing?  Well that would take up ONE night.  Hiking in the wilderness?  Who wants to hike?  We’re old and have a cocker spaniel for crying out loud.  We don’t go hiking.  That’s for youngsters with black labs and special boots.  And the thought of being over an hour from any civilization was just too much for him.  Wal-Mart = civilization?  Who knew?

There may have been several days of not speaking to each other, even grumpy behavior on my part, but when it comes down to it, Everett and I are partners.  We make decisions together.  And we have decided to continue job hunting for now.**

Class 1 Dark Sky from their website

Class 1 Dark Sky from their website

*”Hitch itch” is a term I flagrantly stole from another RV-er.  Please do check them out at www.hitchitch.com!

**Though I can guarantee that the details for THIS job will remain in my “possible” file and there will be many pointed comments thrown Everett’s way over the next year about the benefits of spending time in the “boonies”!

Fall Projects 3

It isn’t just people preparing for winter as the seasons change.  We’ve apparently got a black bear at the campground – I haven’t actually seen him, just the footprints in mud, claw marks on trees, and evidence of his forays into the dumpsters (i.e. trash bags strewn around and emptied of anything edible).  The night security man says he’s had to use his car horn and headlights to drive the bear away from the campsites and that the thing’s a menace.  But I ask you, if you were trying to get in a little last minute shopping to prepare for a long trip (like hibernation), wouldn’t you get a little irritated by store personnel trying to push you away from the best bargains?  And it’s not like there are a lot of campers at the moment – who wants to be in a tent when it gets down to 40 at night . . . and there’s a black bear wandering around looking for protein?

Everett and I are finalizing our plans for the 2013 snowbird trek to Florida.  We expect our workamping gig to be over shortly after Columbus Day and have mapped out our 1st day’s travel south to end in one of the few (very few) campgrounds in Connecticut.  We’ve agreed to not travel more than 5 or 6 hours on any day, thus decreasing our chances of death by spousal assault or tired-driver-syndrome.  Our goal is to spend a few late October days in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with a guided tour of Civil War sites and monuments.  It’s something neither of us has ever done and we feel drawn to do so.

Our next “real” stop (not counting the overnight stays every 250+/- miles) will be at Lazydays RV in Tampa, Florida, where we have an appointment November 4th for a general overhaul of our 6-year old 5th Wheel.  We’ve got a list of things we’d like them to check out and hopefully settle a minor difference of opinion between me and Everett.  I think we bought a used beauty of an RV with tons of life left in her and all she needs is the mechanical equivalent of a mani-pedi to feel fresh and ready to tackle the next 5 years.  Everett says no amount of make-up is going to turn an old sow into something you’d take to the prom.  I suspect he’s already shopping for another RV and, by extension, probably looking for an updated Ethel as well.  There should be lots of them in Florida.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

We have a winter rental agreement with the nice folks at the central Florida park where we spent last March & April, and will use that as a home base this year.  I’m especially looking forward to riding our fold-away bikes on the trails there and to spending Thanksgiving with Everett’s aunt & uncle who live nearby.

Our biggest plan is for Disney World in early December.  We’ll camp at Fort Wilderness and put Tyler Dog into Disney’s Doggie Daycare and act like kids every day for a week.  With luck, this may rekindle some sparks and lessen my concerns regarding the potential updating noted above.  Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if I were to get my own mani-pedi overhaul in the meantime . . .

This life is for loving…

This quote is a great reminder of what it’s really all about. Check out Jump For Joy!’s photos and quotes to bring some joy and inspiration to your days.

JUMP FOR JOY Photo Project

“This life is for loving, sharing, learning, smiling, caring, forgiving, laughing, hugging, helping, dancing, wondering, healing, and even more loving.” ― Steve Maraboli

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Fall Projects 2

As I mentioned the other day, our friends and family are starting their fall projects.  Lonnie Wilson’s wife is after him to get their woodpile in order. He spent a good part of the summer splitting logs into stove-sized pieces and tossing them in a pile to air dry.

Lonnie Splitting Wood

Lonnie's Wood Pile

This type of pile takes up a lot of room and can be the source of problems during the winter.  The wood can get wet and freeze together.  If it thaws for a few days, the topmost pieces can tumble down unexpectedly.  If you take the wrong stick from near the bottom of the pile, the whole thing can collapse.  These issues not only make it an adventure to pull what you need to heat the house, but can affect the way the wood burns.  Most folks agree that the way to go is a neat stack with lots of airspace between the sticks and a small “footprint” with some type of cover (either a tarp or tightly spaced bark-side-up sticks on top).  So Lonnie was expecting to re-stack at some point.

Gladys Wilson has always had airs and ever since Lonnie was appointed to the Cemetery Committee she’s been doing her utmost to let folks know about his elevated status.  Now it’s one thing to insist on driving the newest, shiniest, most trendsetting truck in town, but to worry about the looks of your woodpile?!?!?  She found this picture on the Internet and has been hounding poor Lonnie to duplicate it in their dooryard.  Frankly, I don’t see it happening.

Artistic Wood Pile

Fall Projects

Kids are back to school, nights are getting colder, and New Englanders are concentrating on getting ready for winter.  While Everett and I are making plans to finish up our New Hampshire workamping gig and travel south toward Florida to avoid the entire issue (more about those plans later), most of our friends and family are discussing an ambitious assortment of projects.  My sister Eunice decided to bring her house up to code this fall and make the old summer kitchen a four season room.

Some background info is required here, so please stay with me.  Snowshoes was one humdinger of a mouser and the prettiest ginger cat (with big white paws) you ever set eyes on.  He belonged to Eunice and her ex-husband George Brown.  They lived next door to me and Everett for years until George made his mistake and was summarily kicked out to find an apartment in Lewiston.  Snowshoes was heartbroken.  George had been the favored recipient of the dead mice left in well-displayed pieces on the bathroom floor and Eunice (who tended to scream) was not an adequate substitute.  Shortly after George left, Snowshoes disappeared as well.  This past week Eunice hired Skip Bailey to put a foundation under the old kitchen wing as a start to her project noted above.  While inspecting the crawl space and existing underpinnings, Skip discovered that poor old Snowshoes hadn’t gone far.  The remains were quite mummified and flatter than French crepes, but completely intact.  “My ex just loved that cat,” Eunice was heard to say.

Though I can’t say for sure, this might possibly account for a recent incident at the Lewiston Post Office involving federal investigators and a package addressed to “George Brown c/o General Delivery”.

Snowshoes the Cat