The End of a Decade

First, I want to address the big changes in 2019 as it has been a whirlwind of a year once July creeped around. In July I started a new job, October we sold our house and moved back into the RV and in November I started taking care of me. I’ll expand on all of this in a minute. In the meantime, let’s look back on the last decade.

In December 2009 I moved to Nashville to start a new journey. I received my bachelors degree the day before I made the move. My children were all grown and had left home doing their own thing, my husband had passed away 22 months prior and I needed a new start. I moved hoping I could find myself and learn to live on my own terms. This would be my first time ever being on my own with no one to care for but myself. I was scared and thrilled all at the same time. People thought I was crazy to walk away from the only life I had known and start over with so many unknowns.

Bachelor Degree Graduation, 2009

The years following brought 3 new grandbabies, 2 marriages (one of which was my own), 2 new homes (one in 2013 and one in 2018), several jobs and a lot of traveling. My life was turned upside down and right side up many times over through the years that followed and subsequently ending a decade of my life in 2019.

GRANDBABIES

My first granddaughter, Madison Grace, was born in 2013. I wasn’t able to make her birth like I did the first grandchild in 2004, but it didn’t make her arrival any less eventful. Nana arrived about 3 days after she got here and was thrilled to finally have a little girl to shower my love and attention on. I handmade several outfits and have continued to make clothes and purses and other things for her throughout her first six years of life. She likes gymnastics, loves to read and is finally coming out of her shell.

Madison Grace, 2013

In 2014 and 2017 I gained two more grandchildren, a boy, Jackson Brian, and a girl, Ryan Mackenzie (brother and sister). One was born in Nashville and the other in Louisiana. I was fortunate to be there when they were born and love every minute I get to see them. Jackson is the most laid back child I have ever seen. He is very well mannered and loves animals. Ryan is a spitball and full of shit and vinegar (a saying my mother use to use back in the day). Both are loved by many and missed by their Nana more than they will ever know.

Jackson Brian, 2014

Ryan Mackenzie, 2017

MARRIAGES

In 2014 we had two weddings, mine and my daughter, Christine. The timing might not have been the best, as we were married exactly one week apart, but we made the best of it and both had the wedding we wanted. She got married in a church and I got married in a little chapel, both here in Nashville. My mom was able to attend Christine’s wedding which helped make up for those that weren’t here. It was hard to get through the day without her dad. No daughter should have to get married without their daddy walking them down the aisle.

Christine’s Wedding, 2014

My Wedding, 2014

JOBS

I started and ended the decade working at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Unfortunately, I did not work there the entire decade. Instead I had several jobs in between as we traveled the country from 2015 – 2017, which didn’t allow for a steady job. I took jobs to feel in the gaps and provide a little play money along the way. During my many jobs I have made friends with some wonderful people with whom I will always be grateful I have in my life.

MEMORIES

One of my fondest memories is from 2010 when I went to karaoke at the Maxwell Millennium Hotel. It was always a thrill to get up there and sing even when I picked the wrong song and sounded like a doofus. The memories made will last a lifetime.

Going through online studies for my masters degree made a lot of memories that I would rather forget. The late nights studying and the aggravation made me question my sanity sometimes, but in the end it was worth all the headaches when I received that degree.

Masters Degree Graduation, 2012

The one thing about memories is they are always in our memory bank and there is no way I could ever express all the memories I have made in the last 10 years. I am so grateful for all the people with whom I have met and shared this last decade with.

HOUSING

In 2012 my daughter Christine moved to Nashville and for about a year we lived with each other, but then we decided it was time to get our own places, so I decided it was time to buy a house. I was excited because I had never bought a house on my own. I closed on the house in July 2013. It was an older house that needed some renovating, but because I love a good DIY project, I was looking forward to making it a HOME. I would stay in this house until December 2014, when we sold it for the RV life instead.

My First Home, 2013

In the summer of 2018, we started looking to buy a house. I had gone to work full-time and we both thought we wanted something different for a change. We closed on our house in October and put the RV in storage. By October of the next year we were closing on the sale of the house and moving back into the RV.

Our New House, 2018

TRAVEL

Other than trips back and forth from Tennessee to Florida, there wasn’t much traveling until 2014 when FSU went to Pasadena, California to play in the National Championship against Auburn, which FSU won. I had only known Greg (now my husband) for about a month when he sprang this trip on me. Since he’s a Tennessee fan I was quite surprised when he wanted to go watch my team play. This was the first time I had ever been to California and one of the best trips I have ever had. Everything from the hotel to the stadium to the beach and boardwalk, it was just magical. I felt like a princess with her prince. It was truly a remarkable adventure and one that I will never forget.

On the beach at Santa Monica Pier

Rose Bowl Stadium

A view from the stands!

Santa Monica Pier

Our next couple of trips would be to West Virginia and Gatlinburg. We didn’t go on a honeymoon other than to the Grand Ole Opry, so in May of 2014 we decided to join his family at their fishing camp in Hinton, West Virginia. Being on the river and seeing the beautiful scenery was great. We went back in July of the same year and ventured out to see the coal mines and back country roads. After a few days in WV, we headed to Gatlinburg to a cabin we had rented. The cabin was gorgeous along with the view and the hot tub and everything in the city. It was perfect in every way.

West Virginia, 2014

Gatlinburg, 2014

In March of 2015 we would embark on our RV journey that would take us through many states over the next three years. All of that is documented on the blog and can be found by doing a search of RV Life. I believe we visited a total of 20 states throughout the 3 years that we traveled in the RV. One day we will continue our journey and see many more.

In the summer of 2015, we took our grandson, Colby to Tennessee to visit Ripley’s Aquarium and Cades Cove. He got to see his first black bear in the wild. We joined him and his parents the following week at St. George Island, Florida for a week on the beach.

Ripley’s Aquarium, 2015

Black Bear in Cades Cove, 2015

RV LIFE

In August of 2014 we decided we wanted to start RVing full-time, which would require a lot of preparation. We had a house and lots of possessions to sell as we didn’t want to put everything in storage. It took several months to get this accomplished, but once the house went up for sale, we had a cash offer in a matter of two weeks and closed in December. We traded an RV that Greg had when we got married for a Heartland Gateway and took our first weekend trip in October. That weekend ended with the RV falling on the truck. By Thanksgiving we had both repaired and we were headed to Florida to see my parents. When we came back, we decided to stay in the RV since the closing on the house was only a couple weeks away. As they say, “the rest is history.” All of our adventures and mishaps can be read on the blog by searching for RV Life.

Heartland Gateway, “Homer”

In September 2016 we traded the Gateway for a Keystone Montana 3791RD with lots more storage and a couple extra feet in length. In 2018 I started remodeling it by painting the inside and changing out some of the furniture. At the end of the decade it is still a work in progress.

Keystone Montana

WEINER DOGS, aka Dachshunds

Starting a life traveling in the RV, just the two of us, wasn’t enough. We added a couple of companions on the way. Both are chocolate dachshunds and we wouldn’t trade either of them for anything. Oscar was born in January 2015 and we brought him home in March. Harley was born in May of 2015 and we brought her home in July. They are our constant companions. They have been in more states than most people and have really become accustomed to life on the road.

Bringing Home Oscar

Harley’s First Day in Her New Home

Oscar and Harley, 2019

WHAT A DECADE

The last decade has had many fun times, some sad times and times that will remain in my heart and mind forever. I have found love and laughter. I have discovered things about myself that I never knew and never would have found out if I had not been on this journey. I started a self-care program for myself in November of 2019 and I plan to continue that journey into 2020 taking myself to new heights, new adventures and new life.

For 2020 I hope my readership will grow as I strive to stay on task with my blog. Documenting the important things in life to share, not only with my readers, but my family is important to me as I want my children and grandchildren to see what my life was like and the adventures and endeavors I undertook.

My Top 3 goals for 2020:

Complete my weight loss program.

Stay on top with blogging.

Travel to new destinations.

Some of my favorites of us!

They became fast friends!

One of My Favorites of the Furbabies!

How We Wrapped Up 2016

The month of December brings us to the end of another year. This year has had its ups and downs. January started with me taking a part-time job as we sat in Tallahassee trying to decide if we were going back on the road or staying put. It didn’t take but about six months for us to decide that what we really wanted was to be on the road travelling, so off we went. Our first trip was only for a couple of weeks to Louisiana and back to Florida. Come July we began what was supposed to be a 4 month trip to the New England states and back along the eastern coastline.  This marks the second time we have tried to visit the eastern coastline and had to cancel and head back home. The first time being back in 2015 when we first began our full-time travel.  

Our journey north started out good and for the first couple months we really enjoyed all the places we got to visit. The most memorable being our trip to Niagara Falls, followed by all the covered bridge sightings. Our time in the North Carolina mountains brought us or at least me some scary moments on the trip up and down the mountain, but nothing that I wouldn’t attempt to do again as the sights were beautiful and seeing the elk was more than worth the drive.

Unfortunately in September we were hit with a big setback when Greg had to have emergency surgery. Thankfully he is doing good and we are hopeful that in February he will have a second surgery to reverse part of the first one and once recuperated we will be back on the road enjoying this beautiful country. After two attempts of trying to see the east coast, we are going to forego that area for now and head west. We want to view some annual lots around Lake Fork in Texas, where we hope to settle one day, before heading to Monterey, California.  

CHRISTMAS

While staying in Florida, I was able to see two of the grandkids at Christmas time. I visited the one who lives in Louisiana right before Thanksgiving and since his mom is expecting a little girl in April, I decided to forego a trip back there until closer to delivery time.

Greg and I spent Christmas day out on the lake as we have a great RV spot on Lake Talquin that is known for great bass fishing.  We try to go out in the boat at least once a week at a minimum.  

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas holiday and we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

How to Deal with Medical Emergencies on the Road

Living on the road full-time moving from city to city every few days, few weeks or months can be a hardship when faced with a medical emergency. Things can happen that we are never prepared for, but should take some precautions, so when faced with hard times everyone knows how to handle things at home.

We were hit with a medical emergency on a day that we were suppose to be moving to the next city. We ended up in the emergency room with my husband having to have abdominal surgery, which resulted in a five-day hospital stay and two weeks of staying in a town that we had no intentions of staying in. We were only in this area to pick up our new RV, which we had done on the Tuesday before this happened. Our plan was to head to D.C. to continue on our four-month trip that we were in the middle of; however, our plans were drastically changed.

The biggest obstacle we faced wasn’t going to the ER. The biggest obstacle was that I don’t know how to hook up and pull our fifth wheel and unfortunately we couldn’t stay in the site we were at at the state park. I drove my husband to the ER not knowing how bad the situation was until after several test including a CT scan and blood work were done. The word surgery started floating around and by 11:30 I had to leave to somehow get the RV moved while not knowing what would happen while I was gone. The hardest thing I’ve had to do in a long time is leave my husband at the hospital with so many unknowns and go handle the RV situation.

I was lucky that the dealership we just bought from was willing to send someone over to move the RV. By the time they showed up I had the fifth wheel loaded, but couldn’t get the hitch to lock into place. I could have probably pulled the RV and parked at the next location which I found right across the street, without help, due to the adrenaline rush I was on, but I was still scared of screwing something up and we had only owned the RV for three days. By the time the driver showed up, an hour late, I was growing more anxious as all I wanted was to be at the hospital. I also had two dogs to care for while all this was going on and they knew something was wrong.

Finally by 3:00 pm I was set up and able to head to the hospital. Let me tell you the worse fear is to get to a hospital knowing you left your husband there and being told he wasn’t there, then being told he was in surgery. After what seemed like a lifetime I was brought up to speed as to what was going on and began the wait for him to get out of surgery and finally make it to his room. Five days later we were leaving the hospital hoping our stay in this town would end on the following Monday after his follow-up visit. Unfortunately the doctor wanted to wait on removing the staples, so we would be around another week.

I cannot express enough how important it is for all persons to be able to drive and set up the RV. I’ve watched and helped do the outside stuff enough to know how to hook up water, electric and sewer, so that part I’m familiar with and so should all of you be. Driving on the other hand had only been for about 20 minutes in our old rig, but that will be changing once we leave here. I never want to be put in this position again of not knowing how to do something when it comes to our home.

Since my husband’s recovery will take 4 to 6 weeks and then eventually another surgery, we are headed back to our home base in Florida for the next six months at least. Not what we had planned, but we’re just thankful that he’s okay and everything worked itself out in the end. Once he’s all better, we’ll get back on the road headed west.

A Couple Weeks in Pennyslvania

After we completed our visit through the New England states we spent a couple of weeks in Pennsylvania. Our first stop was only for a couple of days in the Pocono area so we could visit the Pocono NASCAR track. At some point we plan on chasing NASCAR all over the country to see the races live, but in the meantime we’ll keep visiting the tracks along the way. We actually got to ride in a pace car from the fan store to the track for a tour. 

NASCAR Pace Car

NASCAR Pace Car

On days that the track is not hot, they actually take you on the track, but unfortunately the track was being used on the day we visited. At this particular track you can drive a stock car by yourself around the track. They put you through a training session before they put you in the car, but then your strapped in and able to drive as fast as you want to go. Our tour guide said an 84-year-old lady had done it and went 135 MPH around the track. Neither of us participated in this activity, but it was tempting and something we might give into in the future. I mean why not what have you got to lose?

More pics from our trip to the Pocono Raceway…

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From here we headed to Lancaster county. I was looking to see some Amish country and more. We took a day to head to Lancaster where we went on a buggy ride that took us through farmland, a working farm and more. We both enjoyed the tour and wished it had actually been longer. If you ever get a chance to go, do yourself a favor and do the private ride, so you don’t have to share your time with others as some people are not always polite during events like this and when you pay money for something, if your like me, you want to get your money’s worth, which means I like to hear the tour guide talk, not the others on the tour.amw_9782

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At the farm, we stopped and got to walk through several of the barns, one being where the calves are stored once removed from their momma. Some were barely a month old. As you can see from the pics below, they were completely adorable. The next barn was the milking barn, which had all the milk cows. The milk cows produce as much as 10 gallons of milk per day. The Amish use a machine on the udders to gather the milk, which goes into a big vat that houses the milk until the trucks show up to get it and take to the factory for further processing. The cows are only given an hour of outside time per day.amw_9793

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In addition to the cows, we saw chickens, mules and miniature horses. The children attach a wagon to the miniature horses to be pulled around. One of the things that sets an Amish property apart from others is the long clothesline in the yard. I miss having an outside clothesline as when I was growing up that was the only way we dried clothes. 

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I put the pics below in black and white as it gives them that ole’ time look and reminds me of days gone by.

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Chocolate World

We spent a day at Hershey’s Chocolate World. We were thinking the tour would be more of a behind the scenes type of tour, instead it’s a narrated ride telling you how things are done. There are several types of tours you can do as well as a trolley ride through Hershey; however, we opted to spend money on gifts for the grandkids, no chocolate, but something just as good.

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We spent time looking at covered bridges, the farmlands and just resting up for the rest of our journey. Overall it was a great stay and one that I could do again. From here we head back to Ohio to pick up the new RV before getting back on our journey in Washington DC and then down the eastern coastline.

My Obsession with Covered Bridges in Vermont

Covered bridges have so much history. When I see one, I think about who might have crossed through and did they have to walk, ride a horse and buggy, a car or just what type of transportation carried them over to the other side. In the last couple weeks, we have driven through several of these magnificent bridges. Most of them dating back to the 1800’s. The ones in Ohio and Kentucky had been vandalized by people spray painting and writing all over them; however, the ones we saw in Vermont and New York had not been.

Our covered bridge ride through Vermont took us on many roads, some paved and some not so paved. There were some that made us think twice about doing this, but when you come around the corner and see views like this it makes the drive better. Had we not been on some back country road we never would have seen this beautiful pond. 

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We kept hoping we would see some wildlife especially when we were driving through the national forest, but we didn’t even see a squirrel. We did see lots of old cars, barns, farmhouses and other things that reminded us of the old days. After seeing a half-dozen bridges, we headed back home to prepare for our next journey. I wanted to provide more than just pics of the covered bridges, so here’s a little history on each one we saw.  

The West Arlington Covered Bridge a/k/a Bridge of the Green is located in West Arlington, Vermont off Route 313 in Bennington County. It was built in 1852, is 80 feet long and 17.5 feet wide. Although the bridge was damaged by flooding due to Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011, it was fixed and reopened to traffic in the months following.

West Arlington Covered Bridge

West Arlington Covered Bridge

West Arlington Covered Bridge

The Burt Henry Covered Bridge, also known as the Henry Covered Bridge or just the Henry Bridge was originally built in the 1830’s, however it was completely rebuilt in 1989. It is located near Bennington, VT and spans the Walloomsac River. The bridge spans 121 feet and is 18.5 feet wide.

Burt Henry Covered Bridge

Burt Henry Covered Bridge

Burt Henry Covered Bridge

The Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge, a/k/a the Paper Mill Bridge or Bennington Falls Covered Bridge was built in 1889 by Charles F. Sears. It spans 125 feet and is 18.5 feet wide and is located on the south side of State Route 67A, northwest of downtown Bennington, VT.

Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge

Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge

Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge

The Silk Road Covered Bridge was built in 1840 and is in close proximity to both the Burt Henry and Paper Mill bridges. It spans 88 feet long 15 feet wide. It is located between downtown Bennington and North Bennington on Silk Road, which connects Vermont Route 67A and Vermont Route 279.

Silk Road Covered Bridge

Silk Road Covered Bridge

The Creamery Covered Bridge was built in 1879, is located in Brattleboro, VT and was closed to vehicles in 2010. The bridge spans 80 feet long and 19 feet wide. A sidewalk was added about 1920. The Creamery is the last covered bridge in Brattleboro, is visible from Route 9 and a great tourist attraction.

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge

The West Dummerston Covered Bridge was built in 1872 and is located in Dummerston, VT. This is the longest covered bridge I have ever seen coming in at 267 feet. It was built in two spans, with the westerly span being 143 feet and the easterly at 124 feet. The bridge is 22 feet long and opened to traffic. Locals enjoy going for a swim under the bridge as there were many families enjoying the beautiful day when I stopped for pics. 

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge

The Rexleigh Covered Bridge was built in 1874 and is located in Salem, NY. The bridge spans 107 feet over Battenkill River in Washington County. It is just under 18 feet wide and is still operational to vehicles today.

Rexleigh Covered Bridge

Rexleigh Covered Bridge

Rexleigh Covered Bridge