[Deb 01/28/2016] We attended a dinner Thursday night with about 26 SOWERs who just happened to be working on projects in the Rio Grande Valley for the winter. The question always arises, "Where do you originate from?" Using the word "originate" is common in RV circles as RV'ers say they are from everywhere! We usually answer, "Evergreen, Colorado." If someone seems more interested past the "Colorado" answer, I will also mention that Ken and I grew up in Ohio.
Ralph went on to say that the church he was married in was First United Methodist Church! My jaw dropped as I told him I had grown up in that town and that we had been married in the very same church!
Ralph was electric! He eagerly introduced me to his wife, Julie. Her family had moved to Middletown while she was away in college so she didn't have much to share about living there. We really just talked about the church, "There was no center aisle ... One had to walk down the left aisle for the procession and back up the right aisle after the ceremony." Their minister was Dr. Whitmore who was still the pastor when I attended there in the 70's. He, however, had retired by the time Ken and I married there in 1979.
I was delighted to meet Ralph and Julie and to share this, "it's a small world," moment.
While, at the onset, Deb and I spent a chunk of time in the Denver area waiting for the closing on the house, my retirement date, and for the uber cute Ellie Howard to be born, we still managed to chalk up some whimsical statistics in the first six months of our adventure. Here are some factoids that <perhaps> are interesting only to us.
In our first six months:
- Our longest motorhome driving day was 417 miles (Palo Duro to Gainesville)
- Our shortest motorhome driving day was 29 miles (yes … we drove for only about 40 minutes to get to our next campsite)
- The total motorhome miles driven [since leaving the Denver area] is 2132 miles
- The total Jeep miles driven [since leaving Denver] is 292 miles (according to the odometer ... cuz towed miles do not add up!)
- The number of states visited was four (CO, NM, TX, OK)
- Number of diesel fill-ups is 3 (our average MPG is 7.5; our typical speed is 62mph)
- The number of contiguous nights slept in the motorhome is 183 nights
- The number of nights stayed in public campgrounds is 44 nights
- The number of nights stayed in private campgrounds is 63 nights
- The number of nights stayed at a Lewan warehouse is 11 nights
- The number of nights stayed in parking lots is 3 nights (Cabella’s, Les Schwab, and the Gainesville Factory Outlet Mall "Campground”)
- The number of books that Ken has read is 4 books
- The number of on-the-road restaurants we’ve eaten at is 2 (we drive a mobile kitchen!)
- The number of different churches we have attended is 8 (seven of them in Texas)
Here are some more things that we have learned on-the-road; I’ll pass these on in case you might someday become similarly intrigued by the mobile lifestyle:
- We brought way too many clothes with us. I have worn only three dress shirts since we left Denver; I brought ten of them. I also brought ten polo shirts and ten work T-Shirts and ten sweaters and ten pairs of pants. I brought one winter coat and three jackets. In a good week, I will wear only two pairs of pants. I have worn only one sweater. I have worn only two polo shirts. I wear all of the jackets just because I want to give them equal opportunity to get out of the closet every-now-and-then. I have at least ten times as many clothes as I have been able to wear between laundry days; too many shirts and pants are “…along just for the ride.”
- GAWR vs. GVWR. Related to the first item, we had Faith weighed while in Livingston about a month ago. With all water and fuel tanks full, we were over-weight by about 975 pounds. All of it on the passenger side of the motorhome. Too many tools, perhaps? Too many craft supplies? Too much food in the fridge? Or too many books, games, and DVDs? We solved the problem by dumping our fresh water tank. Who needs all of that water, anyway?!?
- “What day is it?” Sometimes it is me asking the question; sometimes it is Deb. We lost our weekends when we retired (every day is “Saturday,” now) so we have no weekly reference point. We honestly do not know what day it is most of the time … until we check our Mobile Calendar Devices (smartphones).
- Time off for Vacations. When you are full-time RV'ers, when, where, and how do you take vacation? We used to look forward to planning and taking vacations. Now, like weekends, we don’t seem to get vacations, either. <SAD FACE>
- Sunday mornings. Do you realize how hard it is to be brand new in a community and have to pick a church on Sunday morning just by looking at its website? And there is no lack of churches to choose from in Texas! Fortunately, we have had only one less-favorable experience. Most of the churches we have visited have had great worship and strong messages (we are in the buckle of the Bible Belt, I am reminded!).
I saw a billboard along Interstate 2 the other day. It read, “Life is Better under a Palm Tree.” Even though I had high expectations, our trip to the Rio Grande Valley has been more fun than I had dreamed (if you can imagine that!). We have met a lot of great, fellow RV'ers (we all share at least two hobbies, of course), and even had the opportunity to attend several social events “along the road” designed exclusively for RV'ers.
Just about as far south as you can get before stepping into Mexico, we are camped at the Bentsen Palms/Retama Village RV Resort while we wait for our call from our SOWERs' group leader (our first mission project starts in just a couple days right down the road). This is a very nice place to hang out -- the sites are spacious and the streets are lined with palm trees. Each site also includes a storage shed for those Winter Texans who RV here for three and four months at a time.
Bentsen Palms/Retama Village RV Resort is a gated, country club type community (our site is being comped to us -- more on that later) featuring lots of vegetation, fountains, and extensive landscaping. In addition, there are two complete weight rooms, five swimming pools, a craft center, pool tables (outside under the palapas), a pickle-ball court, horseshoe pits, garden plots for all of the campers, yoga classes, a shooting range, a pontoon boat on the river, a couple of club houses and all of the regular resort amenities that you would expect. Best of all, Bentsen Palms also includes a full wood-working shop for the long-term RVers to use while they stay here!
All in all, this is a beautiful, often overlooked, part of the country. Fortunately, since our first SOWERs' project is so close by, we will be in the area for the rest of January and have time to explore the RGV more closely. I am surprised by how much I am enjoying this most-remote section of the United States.
is it 2016 already?
[Ken 01/01/2016] December was an unanticipated blur. We drove almost 2000 miles to get just about 1000 miles from Denver. We toured many small towns as we traveled the remarkable blue highways of Texas on our way south. In Waco, we even checked in with a realtor -- seemed like it might be a good community in which to settle down. In every town, in every campground, we met great people. But most importantly, we became official Texans with new drivers' licenses and getting both vehicles registered in Polk County (Livingston, Texas). We also took a few days to be tourists and hike/bike in Palo Duro Canyon and a visit to the Alamo.
Deb and I look forward to a whole new year of entirely fresh experiences for us. It is going to be very exciting; it is our hope that your 2016 will be equally "new" and amazing. Exposure to new adventures will only make your life journey more meaningful and more fulfilling. Always be pondering about what your next new opportunity might be -- and be ready to JUMP when the chance presents itself. Remember that you can't move forward by looking backwards. Try something NEW this year. Step out and do it. Think BIG -- our God is not a small God. There is so much of life yet to unfold in front of you. You know it, so, Go for it! If you won't do it, nobody is going to do it for you!
As they say in the RV community, "Keep it between the oceans, shiny side up, and rubber side down." We hope for you to experience Something NEW in 2016!!!