The Day Facebook Saved Our Lives

I try pretty hard to keep my posts in order, even if it means getting behind by weeks (sometimes months) where we actually are in real life. But, something happened recently that  I think is too important to wait.

We’ve been meandering our way back to Florida. My last post was about Yellowstone NP and since then, we’ve visited Grand Teton NP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Grand Staircase NM, Carlsbad Cavern NP and finally Guadalupe Mountains NP. This found us once again in Texas. Our plan was to catch up with some friends from our job last summer then head to NOLA to check out the WWII Museum before making our way to Crystal River, FL to visit with Daddy. We were unemployed at the moment, so taking our time was fine.

Just outside of Odessa, TX our plan, and Waldo, came to a screeching halt. We were broken down. Naturally, this happened on a Friday afternoon. With the weekend looming, no one had any interest in getting us on our way. One company Steve called said sure, they’d come look at Waldo, but “Be prepared to pay ALL the money.” Gee thanks, but no thanks.

What do you do when you are broken down in a strange place and no one seems to care? You reach out to whoever you can think of, anyone you think *might* know someone in the area. Last year, when we were working at Wind Point Park, we met Ben Miller, the promoter of Turkey Drag. I was hoping with all of his car club connections he might know someone who could help. I reached out to him via Facebook and then something incredible happened. Ben posted a “looking for recommendations” on our behalf on his page and within minutes, people started leaving suggestions, tagging friends and offering help. Someone sent Ben a screenshot of a contact on their phone. It was Jake from DropTine Auto in Midland, Texas.

Steve called Jake and explained our situation. Despite the fact DropTine is a very busy shop, Jake said we could bring Waldo there. When Steve explained he was a mechanic and could do some of the work himself, Jake said – “Great.”  To make a long story short, not only did Jake allow Steve to do 99% of the work himself, but he let us stay in Waldo in the yard. It turns out the problem was related to what caused us to break down in Alaska, only this time, there wasn’t a “band-aid” fix. The gear which runs the hydraulic pump is located on the mainshaft of the compressor and it was toast! Steve called Caterpillar and they said sure, they could get a new one for $2200 in about 6 weeks. I just cried. “6 weeks, stuck in Midland? $2200 we can’t afford that!” Jake called the manufacturer of the compressor to see if there was a replacement available. The unit had been discontinued. WHAT? But, they offered to rebuild ours for $250 plus shipping.  All we had to do was get it to them in North Carolina.

In the meantime, I had been looking for winter work. I found a seasonal job in Fort Lauderdale selling Christmas trees. Would Waldo be repaired in time for us to get there? We had already been broken down for 15 days, now we had to ship the compressor to NC and hope for the best.

DropTine is a busy shop with several great employees, but Jake allowed Steve to help out in the shop when he wasn’t working on Waldo. That was awesome! It gave Steve something to do and helped make us feel like we weren’t just taking up space in his yard.

The rebuilt compressor showed back up on Monday the 5th…

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with its shiny new gear. Isn’t that sexy?! It took until Tuesday afternoon to get everything back together. When the work was complete and we were ready to hit the road, we asked Jake for our bill. He said we didn’t owe him anything. He took into account the work Steve had done around the shop and called it even. I was floored. He also said if the shop was still busy in the spring, Steve could come back and work for him for a month or so before our next workamping job. It makes my heart happy to know there are still people in this world like him.

Happiness through the windshield…

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We have since arrived at Daddy’s house and are leaving on the 14th to head to Fort Lauderdale. I’ll keep you posted on how selling Christmas trees goes and promise to eventually go back and write about the places we’ve been.

A heartfelt thank you to Ben, his friends and all the guys at DropTine Auto!

We Made It!

As we passed from the Yukon back into the USA, not much changed scenery wise.

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One thing was certain, the road conditions turned to crap. The Yukon has done a great job of road repair and Alaska – not so much! But that’s okay – we were in ALASKA!!! After two months and over 6000 miles we were within a day or two of being at our summer home. Or so I thought. We woke up on May 1st, our first full day in Alaska, to some seriously ominous skies. Then it began…

Snow so thick we could hardly see the road. This wasn’t what I had planned! But, you know what, it was the 1st of May and had to be expected. We were trying to reach Anchorage, where we would resupply before heading to Moose Pass. Once you get on the Kenai Peninsula, shopping become more expensive in two ways: 1 you have to pay the tax and 2 you have to drive at least 45 minutes to get to the nearest store. We were just about to crest a big hill we’d been climbing when Steve got very serious looking. He pulled over as best he could and I asked what was wrong. Waldo had lost it’s power steering – completely. We got out to see what had happened and found a giant puddle of oil under Waldo. Oh man, this isn’t good! We were in the middle of nowhere! Glenallen was an hour behind us and Anchorage was 2 1/2 hours in front of us. We called for roadside assistance from Good Sam’s and waited. And waited. And argued with them on the phone about exactly where we were. I gave them our GPS coordinates and told them we were at mile marker 37. Yes, 37 – I can see it from here! Finally, the tow truck arrived and Waldo got carted off…

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We were towed back to Glenallen, the closest “qualified repair center”. I was not a happy camper! Despite the bad luck of being broken down, we had the good luck of being towed to Glenallen Fuel and Service. First thing in the morning, the lead mechanic, Dawson, came out to talk to Steve. While the 2 of them conversed, I sat in Waldo and stewed about our situation. It could have been a lot worse. GF&S let us stay in Waldo in their parking lot, so we weren’t “homeless” When Steve came back inside, he explained what had happened. A bolt had come backed of the power steering pump and broke the other bolt holding drive on the pump. I just nodded my head as if it meant something to me. How long to fix it – that was my question! The part we needed was in Anchorage, naturally. But again, luck was with us. Scott, the tow truck driver, had to go to Anchorage anyhow, he’d pick it up for us. Dawson was quite happy to let Steve do all of the work he was capable of and loaned him any tools he didn’t have.

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All in all, we ended up being there 3 days and with Steve doing most of the work, it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been. We were back on the road and I was just blown away by the scenery. Every time I thought the view couldn’t get any better, it did!

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We finally made it to Anchorage and got all the shopping out of the way. Only an hour and a half until we are home for the summer! Yea! I wasn’t prepared for the amazing scenery yet to come…

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The Seward Highway leaving Anchorage
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Driving along Turnagain Arm

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Well, here we are in Moose Pass. We parked at the bottom of the driveway and walked up to meet our new bosses, Gary and Treva. They pointed out our spot and Steve brought Waldo up the hill. I wasn’t sure Waldo could make the turn and get enough traction in the dirt drive, but he made it…

Whew, that was a climb. But what a view…

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Our backyward
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Our front yard

Wow. Now that we made it, it’s time to go to work. Up next – settling in.

Thanks for coming along. I’m getting caught up on posts, I’m only 4 or 5 behind now. If you want the latest, follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

It’s OK – It’s a Dry Heat – Part 1

It was kinda of sad leaving Sunny Valley. We had such a great time with Mike and Dawn (read Dawn’s take on our meeting here), it was hard to say “until we meet again”.

We spent the night in Kingman, AZ so we could have dinner with family…

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Our plan was to spend the next week exploring Death Valley. Death Valley is the 5th largest National Park in the United States and the largest in the lower 48. It covers 5262 square miles (roughly 3.4 million acres). It is 140 miles long and about 75 miles across at its widest.

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We decided Beatty RV Park in Nevada would be the perfect jumping off point for our explorations.  On our way to Beatty, we passed the Hoover Dam…

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And drove through Las Vegas. It was noon when we pulled into the park. We got set up in our site and headed into town, actually, to be completely honest, we were looking for a liquor store. The camp host told us we could probably buy liquor at the casino. My first thought was, yeah, what would THAT cost. After we drove around town a bit, we headed to the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino. Just for fun, we put $6.00 (big spenders, right?) into the one-armed-bandit and hit on the 3rd pull. Woohoo. Let’s cash out of this machine! And so it went. A few bucks here, a few bucks there and at the end of the afternoon, we were up enough to cover the cost of the bottle, which wasn’t as expensive as I imagined. When we got back to Waldo, there were wild burros across the street, which I thought was really neat…

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I can just hear the burro, “What, haven’t you ever seen an ass before?”

The next day, we headed into Death Valley…

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Once we passed through Hell’s Gate, the temperature started to climb. It was 58 degrees in Beatty and 75 degrees on the valley floor. The wind had been kicking up for days and it was really noticeable in the valley. I knew it would be hard to get great pictures of the overall landscape because of the haze…

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Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

So, I tried to focus on the smaller scenes…

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Our next stop was Mosaic Canyon, a 4 mile round trip through narrow slot canyons and polished rock walls…

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Looking back toward the parking area
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The canyon walls, smoothed by rushing waters
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Steve getting a picture of the landscape

From there, we walked the Salt Creek Interpretative Trail.

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Since it was only April, there was still plenty of water flowing. The water is 4x saltier than the ocean. In spite of that, it is home to the Salt Creek pupfish…

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Not a great picture, but you can see several pupfish

April is the beginning of mating season and the males were a beautiful shade of blue. As we were walking along, I could have sworn I saw a gorilla face in the mountains…

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Do you see a gorilla or was I imagining it?

I was in sensory overload, it’s hard to take in all the naked beauty at once.

It was several days before we got back to exploring. Before you get into Death Valley, there are 2 must see places. The first is the Goldwater Open Air Museum. It seems a strange place for an art museum, in the middle of nowhere, but it is definitely worth the stop…

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Fred Bervoets’s  Ode to Shorty
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Charles Albert Szukalski‘s Ghost Rider
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Charles Albert Szukalski‘s The Last Supper
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A very large metal origami crane
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Dr. Hugo Heyrman‘s Lady Desert The Venus of Nevada
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Onny Huisink’s The Beauty of Decay
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Sofie Siegmann‘s Sit Here

Just passed the museum we discovered several abandon homes and vehicles…

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This was a prelude to the ghost town of Rhyolite. The town boomed into existence in 1904 and had burnt itself out by 1916. Remains of several of the buildings give us an idea what town was like in its heyday…

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I thought one of the neatest buildings was Tom Kelly’s bottle house

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Despite the fact electricity to the town had been shut off in 1916, the last tenets of the house lived there until 1969. Tommy Thompson and his family added miniature houses to the property…

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From Rhyolite, we headed back into Death Valley. We drove along Mustard Canyon Road…

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Then visited Harmony Borax Works

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The iconic 20 Mule Team wagon used to transport the borax

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Even in this harsh environment, flowers still find a place to bloom…

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Our final hike of the day was to the natural bridge…

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I’m going to wrap up Part 1. There is still so much to tell you about! So here is my closing shot until I get to Part 2…

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Have you visited Death Valley?

Settling In – Part 2

We were given a couple days to settle in before we had to report to work. We spent most of the first day getting Waldo rearranged. I’m sure we’ll be rearranging again and again until we find “just the place” for everything. What seems like the perfect place for something frequently becomes “Why the hell did I put that there!” We’ll figure it out…

The weather has been mostly sunny and hot – just the way I like it, so naturally we stripped Trouble of all those unnecessary things like doors and the soft top. We did put the bikini top on to keep a little shade over the seats. I wouldn’t want Steve’s head to get sunburned! We needed a few things at the store and I was anxious to get out and explore the area. The GPS told us the nearest Walmart was about 30 minutes away. Off we go.  With the shopping out of the way, we headed to Sulphur Springs. There was something I had read about and had to see for myself. In the old town square, there is a lovely park with public restrooms and it was the restrooms I wanted to see. Yes, you read that right…I wanted to see restrooms. These aren’t your run of the mill relief stations…they are made with one way mirrors – no, I’m not kidding…

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From the outside, it looks like a mirrored box
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This is the view from the inside
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You feel a little conspicuous while you are relieving yourself. Note the guy in the background taking a picture…

Once I was done giggling about the restroom (Steve wouldn’t use it), we walked around the park taking in the sights…

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We decided to stop for lunch at the Corner Grub House

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We both had burgers and they were pretty good. With full bellies, we decided it was time to head back “home”.

The next day, we grabbed our cameras and set out to explore. We stopped at a farm stand and I was so excited to see fresh figs…

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We splurged on some figs, plums, tomatoes and summer squash. A little expensive but oh so tasty! I got to see my first Texas longhorns…

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And an oil pump…

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I couldn’t resist getting a picture with my MOV bottle to send back to the store with a tag line about “Big Oil”.

We made one more stop before heading back…

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How’s that for a hay field?!?

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Diesel says “Life is good here!”

Thanks for coming by!

Doing It Florida Style

So here we are in Florida. After the “adventure” of our trip down here, I was definitely ready for some down time. I knew we had to get Waldo over to the repair shop for an estimate on the roof, but first we had to unload the belongings staying in Florida. I’m sure Waldo was quite happy to shed a few pounds!

On Thursday, we brought Waldo to Nature Coast RV, handed over the keys and hoped for the best. It would be a few days before we got the estimate so we set our sights on some relaxation time.

It had been quite a long time since Steve had enough spare time to get out in the kayak. While water sports aren’t his favorite activity, he does enjoy kayaking on calm waters. My first thought was to head down to the Gulf of Mexico (only about 10 minutes from my dad’s house). We made a quick stop at the store to pick up some sunscreen. Steve has two colors of summer – Casper white or lobster red. Not wanting him to spend his first week in sunburned pain, we opted for spf50! I thought better of the gulf because the waters can be choppy and there is no shade. I decide a trip on the Rainbow River would be better. The Rainbow River is a busy river with boaters, tubers, kayakers and paddle boarders. Since it was father’s day weekend, the river was crowded, but not so much to make it unenjoyable. Steve seemed to have a good time…

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We promised my dad a trip to his favorite restaurant for father’s day. I dislike eating out on holidays due to the crowds, so we waited until later in the week. Peck’s Old Port Cove serves steamed blue crabs. Daddy and I split 1 1/2 dozen crabs while Steve had their fried fisherman’s platter…

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A great meal – as always!

Before we left New Hampshire, I had been looking for a place to workamp. Work Camping is when you work at a campground in exchange for your RV site. Sometimes there is an opportunity for extra hours for pay, but not always. We had committed to a park in Texas, but didn’t leave NH in time to make it when they needed us. I was very happy when the manager of  Wind Point Park in Lone Oak, Texas emailed me and said we were still welcome to come work for the summer! Their website shows a beautiful park and conjures visions of lovely sunsets and quiet evenings by the campfire. I can’t wait to get there and settle into our new life as workampers!

We had received the estimate for Waldo’s roof…gasp! Between $7000 and $9000! Double what it cost to put a roof on the stick and brick house in NH! But, it has to be done! Steve checked in on their progress this week and it’s getting there…

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They are hoping to have it done by the 30th so we can be on our way.

While Steve was checking on the roof, I decided to take my kayak out to the gulf. I drove to the end of Ozella Trail. There is a great park there with a  boat launch. A few other kayakers were out. I parked next to them, unloaded and hit the waters. As I suspected, the water was choppy, but it was a gorgeous summer day and I made my way around the mangrove islands and headed back. I hadn’t checked the tide report before I went out and I won’t do that again! When I got back to Trouble, the tide had come in enough I could paddle right up to it…

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It was still over an hour before high tide, so I’m glad I headed in when I did.

Hoping my next post is about an uneventful 14 hour trip to Texas and our arrival at Wind Point Park!!!!

 

Looking Through the Windshield

Happiness in the rear view mirror didn’t last as long as I planned! We had barely made it out of New Hampshire when the problems started. In a motor home, you can have 2 completely different sets of problems, either of which can leave you on the side of the road. On one hand, you have the mechanical components, the engine, transmission and so on. On the other hand, you have all the same problems you have in your house, the roof, the windows, the plumbing, electrical systems, yada yada yada…

If you saw the last post, you know we are already aware of the fact we need a new roof. We had already taken care of a plumbing issue (the cap on the faucet in the kitchen had to be replaced). Steve fixed a starting issue with our generator. SO, when we left, we were pretty confident we were on our way. Not so fast…literally! Not long after we hit the highway in Vermont, we started noticing a steep decline in speed every time we started up a hill. Since Vermont is nothing but hills/mountains, this quickly became a major problem! At first, I thought it was because we were loaded to the brim and overwieght. Every available inch of space had something in it, so I sat quietly in my seat calculating how long it would take to get to Florida, 1300 miles, at 30mph. After a while, we were climbing hills at 18mph and getting up to 30mph on the downhill side of the hills. Not good! Finally, five hours later, somewhere in the southern part of Connecticut, Steve pulled off on the side of Interstate 95 and changed the fuel filters. It made me glad to have mechanic for a husband, I wouldn’t have thought of it!  Problem solved! Woohoo – 65mph. Since it was getting late, we pulled into a rest area and got a couple hours sleep.

Our first full day on the road started early. With the fuel issue solved, I had high hopes of making good time the rest of the trip….not so fast…literally! Not that again!! Nope, new problem.  Ugh.  Now, Waldo was overheating. We had had this problem before, but we thought it was fixed. Obviously not. We babied Waldo as best we could and finally made it to the outskirts of Roanoke, VA. I have a cool app on my phone called Overnight RV Parking It uses your location to show where verified free overnight parking is available. Or you can search an area using the map. I found a place we could stop for the night and give Waldo a break. Right off the highway was a Gander Mountain that allowed parking. We settled in for the night. There was another family parked near by. They had a dog too! Diesel got to spend some off-leash time playing ball after the store closed. Happy dogs!

We set off in the coolness of the early morning, knowing it would be slow going as long as the engine kept overheating. Most of the day was uneventful. We pulled into every rest area, letting Waldo cool down. The only one happy with this was Diesel because he got to get out and investigate the area. Ok…maybe I didn’t mind too much…

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We’d been pretty lucky with the weather, once out of New England, we were out of the rain. The temps were rising and a cold one was just what I wanted.

Knowing we wouldn’t make it to my dad’s house without stopping again, I began to look for a place to spend the night. I figured how many miles I thought we could make and chose A Big Wheel RV Park in Saint Mary’s, Georgia. A small, quiet park sounded like the perfect place to spend the night. Lucky for us, this is the off season and they had a pull-thru site available. We used our Passport America membership and our spot only cost us $19.

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After getting setup, I cooked our first meal on the road…

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We took Diesel for a nice long walk, ending up near the fishing pond. There was another family there with their bicycles and I was going to let Diesel get a drink until they pointed out the baby alligators. Across the pond was a sign which read “BEWARE Alligators Poisonous Snakes Red Ants” I tried to get a picture of it – not my best shot…

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We debated staying another day, but when we awoke the next morning, the skies opened up and drenched us. Knowing Waldo’s roof didn’t need the ‘bath’, we headed south…

Stay tuned for our Florida adventure…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness in the rear view mirror

I know it has been quite a while since I’ve written a post and I’m sorry. An awful lot has happened in the last nine weeks! It has been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. In April, we put the house on the market. But it seemed every time I turned around, there was still some unfinished little project that needed to be done. Touch up the paint here, wash that cabinet, clean out that room. It was almost never ending and it really took a mental and physical toll on me. In May, we liquidated the contents of our business and our home. We auctioned off all the business assets. There was quite a crowd but the bidding was low and we came away with a lot less than we had hoped. But it was done! Next came our moving sale. Steve and I spent every spare moment moving items from the house to the garage. I organized and tagged while he did the heavy lifting. How in the world did we ever end up with so much stuff!?!?! The sale lasted 3 days – 3 long days! In the end, we did pretty well and a lot of “stuff” was gone. But what to do with the rest of our possessions? As I looked around at the leftovers, I made mental lists of what could be donated (and to whom), what should be thrown in the dumpster and what should be brought to Our Town Co Op, my favorite consignment store. It took several weeks to go from…

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To…

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In the midst of all of this, there was a family get together. For the first time ever, we had all three of our kids and all three of our grandchildren together.

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Plus there were lots of friends to say goodbye to. Breakfast with Bill and Sue, dinner with Jeff, lunch with Keith, dinner with Lindsay and Leo, beverages on the patio with Rick and Carol, lunch with Martha. It seemed every day we squeezed in one more goodbye. Unfortunately, it was taking away time I needed for wrapping everything up. Don’t get me wrong, I love our friends dearly, but I was feeling the stress of finishing my to-do list. Last week, I checked one of those things off my list – mowing the lawn for the last time…

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Finally it came down to packing Waldo. Our first destination is my dad’s house in Florida. There are just some things we don’t want to part with, but do not need on the road. Leaving them in Florida just makes the most sense, plus we need to have a new roof put on Waldo before we hit the road for good and staying at my dad’s sure beats nights in a motel! Finally, Waldo was loaded to the brim, every available inch of space was stuffed with something. It’s time!!!

 

We did stop at the end of our driveway to say one last goodbye…

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Happiness in the rear view mirror….

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Florida – Here we come!