Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A day in the life of the RV travelers

Many people have asked me over the last 7+ months what life is like living in an RV. So, I decided that maybe I needed to blog about it.

Our day usually begins slowly for everyone except dad. He is always up at dawn or before ready to begin his day. He walks the dog, feeds him, ties him up outside and heads to the gym or for a run or for a bike, or for a swim..........he works out! The kids and I are usually rousing ourselves out of bed by the time he gets back. He is ALWAYS chipper and we are ALWAYS annoyed!! HA!

I try and cook breakfast 3-4 times a week. It doesn't always work out that way, but I try. After that the breakdown begins. I clean the kitchen, while the girls organize the beds and get things put away. Once the area is clean, beds are made or broken down, all the stuff has found its proper place, the slide comes in - which makes our RV 18 inches smaller. That is a lot for such a small space. Pooh then heads out to take down the dog house and put all his stuff away and Toley lets him in as he is in a state of panic that we will leave him behind!

Meantime, Z-man, Kik and Dad head outside to do the dirty work. They put all 8 bikes on the trailer and ladder on the back, buckle them down and do a lot with bungee chords! Kik's job is to take the keys and go around and lock all the basement storage for the drive. He also scans the spot where we have stayed for any extra items. Then they empty all the stuff from the sink, toilet and shower. NOT a fun job!!! All this while the water tank gets filled for the drive. Water and sewer hoses are stored (far from each other!!) and the RV is then unplugged.

We are ready to drive. We usually drive 200-300 miles, depending on the day. Kik seems to need a little time to wake up, so he sits around and watches the road for a while. After a bit he gets out his work and sits at the table near his number line for math. The other three get their school work out and hit the books. They usually separate, Toley going on the over head to work/read, Z-man in the back room to do the same and Pooh at the table or couch to get her math done. They all have some work on the computers, so they vie for the two laptops we have to get some work done during the day.

Mom and Dad are in the front seat, Dad usually driving, mom usually staring out the window :) We have our morning mocha or tea or coffee and try and get the GPS to go where we want it to go. We look for campsites, places to stop, interesting things and chat. Some days I take this opportunity to grade papers or check over work. I am in constant Kik contact as he requires the most help with his work. But that independence is getting better and better!!!
The dog finds himself a tight spot, right under every ones feet :) He stays there most of the day. He likes to head out the door if anyone is going out and just check out his surroundings, even if it is a gas station. He is pretty quiet and after about 2 months he FINALLY seemed to get into the groove of traveling all the time. Although I still think he would rather be at home in our fenced in back yard!

The day goes on like this for a long while, only stopping for potty breaks for the driver and lunch prep for the kids.

As we arrive at our campsites, the kids immediately check the Internet to see if it is working and ask if there is cable if it is American Idol night (or a football game in the fall).

As usual, the boys head outside. Kik has to ride his bike ASAP! He gets it down by himself, unlocks the basement, dons his helmet and off he goes. Dad gives him a perimeter and reminder not to talk to strangers and he is all smiles!

Z-man does the electric, water and cable while Dad gets the sewer job - poor man.

The girls and I pull out the slide and sweep up the floor. While the girls reorganize after a busy day of driving, I start dinner. We have limited counter space, so cooking big meals with lots of different items can be a challenge. AND, when I talk limited, I mean it! We have really just one 18inch by 18 inch counter top and another small one on the other side of the sink that might be 12x12 inch. There is a three burner stove that has a cover that pulls down over top, so if the stove isn't being used, I can have that space, but that is almost never the case.

The table is the same deal. It is a bench set, so Mom and Dad on one side, Toley, Kik and Pooh on the other (way tight!) and Z-man on a chair at the end. We have room for our plates, cups, silverware, and possibly one or two small bowls. What I usually do is dish up all the plates and the girls place them on the table. This way is not the best, but the only way we can do it. The problem being is that almost everyone wants some sort of seconds and up mom goes again to dish it all out. Ahhhh the life of a mom :)

The oven is small, as most of you have seen from the turkey experience. I can usually fit what I need in there. It is tight, but works well. It usually takes me about an hour to get dinner ready, so depending on our arrival time, we sometimes don't eat until 7:00, which isn't good for the Kikster!

Kik goes to bed around 7-7:30 in our room as the rest of the RV is the living room. We move him to his bed when we all hit the hay around 9:30-10:00. While the kids get Kik ready for bed, Dad and Mom do the dishes and get the living room organized AGAIN! Amazing how one little space can get so completely dirty! We usually do a Bible study then with Dad. We are reading about the life of Paul right now. Then we have some computer time, watch tv time or play a game time. It all depends on the night and how many people Toley can talk into playing a game.

Then it is off to bed. This is always a problem as it is a mad rush to the one bathroom. We do a lot of knocking and "ARE YOU DONE YET?" We have some that take longer.......I won't mention any names - POOH! and others who are in and out in a split second - Dad. When that time is up we bring Kik back into the living/sleeping area and get him settled into bed. He rarely wakes up, which is nice. Mom and Dad go back to their room and the three other kids try and settle down, although there are MANY times we need to yell in there to calm down. They laugh, wrestle, toss stuffed animals and pillows at each other or just plain bug each other until someone comes in complaining (with a smile on their face). I love to see them get along so well, I just wish it was during the day, not at 10 at night!!!

So, that is it in a nut shell. Not all that exciting, but fun none the less. Of course on days that we have plans to meet someone or visit a park or museum the day is different, but that is a typical day on the road.

XO Mom

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another blog on friends-REALLY!

Things are getting warmer.............................

Pontooning with the Lawry's

Can you stand another post about friends??? We are just too blessed! As I last talked about friends, I had just visited a bunch of my old girlfriends in TN. We had a wonderful time. But, our house is on wheels, so off we went.
After leaving TN we headed to Louisiana, Mississippi ,Alabama and then into Georgia. We didn't stay too long in the first two states, just wanted to get them on our "map of where we have been!" We did have a great dinner with an old friend of my husbands in Mississippi. Jim, dad and I went to a great little restaurant and the food was amazing! We even had alligator! YUM!

After the boys tortured themselves on the Appalachian Trail we headed back to TN to visit my friend Kaye and her boys. We met Kaye in Germany and it has been a long time since we saw each other, although we keep up thru emails. One of her son's Sean, is a good friend of Z-man's, so it was fun all around. Kaye and I even had a night out for coffee and a chance to catch up. When the kids called at 10:00 and asked if we were ever coming home we were both shocked at the late hour.

We could have talked all night.
It was awesome to see her.

Chad, Sean, Z-man, Kik, Toley, Pooh

The kids reacting to a crash landing!

Next it was down into Florida, Pensacola to be exact. We stayed for a day on the Navy base and to toured the VERY cool air and space museum. We all had such a cool time looking and getting into all the planes. Very neat! After our short stay on base we headed to visit another old TN friend. Those TN folks are sure nice!!! Sandie and Gordon and their daughters were great friends to us in Millington and after a 7 year absence from each other we just fell right back into comfort as they welcomed us into their home. They live right on the water in Pensacola, so there was much to do and see. Their neighborhood was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan a while back and there are still many lots empty where homes used to be. It was strange for us to see and to hear them talk about the devastation that they came back to after being evacuated.

I finally met someone who is always cold too! It was
so nice to have someone to commiserate with! I know,
not too many people would wear turtlenecks in FL!

The Lawry's were SUPER and we had a hard time leaving. Sandie and I had a lot of catching up to do. Between our faith, cooking, homeschooling, raising teens and baking bread the time flew by. Kik was most intrigued as two of their bikes had flat tires. He was in his glory! Good thing Gordon has the patience that dad has, so he and Kik worked on bike tires for a good portion of the morning. Not to mention the fishing expeditions on the boat. Still haven't caught a thing, but that doesn't matter. Kik had so much fun. Our time together was sweet and we are all the more blessed for being there.
After leaving Pensacola we headed east toward Tampa with a short stop over in Panama City. Our friends from Marquette were there for a Campus Crusade week with their college groupies. Dave and Sue were a sight for sore eyes and we had a special time, even though it was short. Lots of sand, sun and catching up. Panama City is one wild town!
Good thing there are groups like Campus Crusade.

Next it was to Tampa where another friend from Germany was living. Actually they are living in St. Pete's beach in a beautiful condo right on the water. As far as you can see in all directions is water and palm trees. Dr. Reppert was dad's boss in Germany and a great one at that. The Reppert's were wonderful hosts. They took our children in with such care, but that must come from the fact that they have 11 grandchildren!!! The kids swam in the pool, Pat and I chatted (imagine - me - chatting!! HA) and then we all went out to lunch. Again, another short visit, but worth the time as they are heading back to Germany to the same job as before. Dr. Reppert can't seem to retire. I may have married the same type of man!

We will be in Florida for a long time, traveling all over the state. I am sure we will have much more to write about as we have Disney and the Key's on our list of things to do.

Stay tuned......................................XO mom

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Appalachian Trail #1

Many of you who read this (well, at least two of the three who actually read it) know that part of our journey was going to include Z-man and I walking a portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT). For the one who didn’t know, the AT is a trail that runs 2100 miles from Springer Mountain, GA (about 50 miles NW of Atlanta) up the east coast to Kahadtin, ME in north central Maine. My original intent was for us to walk about 500 miles of the trail. I modified that to more manageable plan of us walking four sections of about 100 miles. We would do one each of the first and last sections (GA and ME) and two other sections in NC/TN and VA. I had hoped to start in early March which is supposed to be OK, although a little early in the mountains of GA. However, based on our trip, we ended up being in eastern TN with a decent window of weather, so we made the decision to start in late Feb. I had also intended to wait until we did all sections to write a blog, but since we have been neglecting our blog of late, I’ll go ahead and write one for our first section.

Z-man and I began our AT hike in Helen, GA, at mile 50.1 on 24 Feb. We headed out of Uncoil Gap (2950’) at 1230 and immediately started up Blue Mountain (3750’). We exchanged packs every 90:00 when we stopped for a break. Z-man’s pack is not as comfortable, but it’s lighter. He can really make time – I can’t keep up so he stops every so often and lets me catch him. The first day we walked about 14 miles , 5 miles of which was in snow. It was really tough – slippery and like walking in sand. We stopped at 1845 (6:45) after finding out that the shelter we were headed towards was actually 1.3 miles off the trail. A mile doesn’t sound like much, but with packs and the dirt/snow/mud trail, we average about 2 MPH, so that would have meant another :40 of walking. We ended up putting the tent in a parking lot and spent the night.

We enjoyed a delicious meal of MREs and Z-man was actually asleep by about 8 which was the earliest I remember him going to bed…ever. On Tues, we started at 0830 and were low on water. Made Z-man some hot chocolate for a morning wake up, but used up our remaining water supply. He’s in good spirits and is doing better than I had thought. No complaints in spite of a couple of injuries and he’s humping a less than ideal pack. It is an Army internal frame MOLLE pack which is not comfortable. We walked for about two hours before coming to a small “stream (a flow of about 2” wide by 1” deep) that we used to refill our Camelbacks. We made the 5.6 miles to Neel’s Gap by noon. Things got fun immediately after our break as we walked the 2 miles up Blood Mountain – the highest point in GA on the AT. Lots of rock stairs – many of which were snow covered -- made for a tough climb up to 4500’. It was nice to descend after that, but we both got real tired about 4 miles out from our finish. Had one last 1200’ climb prior to finishing at Woody Gap. The RV met us so we could go together to a new camp site with the intention of returning to Springer Mountain to walk the first 18 miles of the trail. Unfortunately, the nearest campsite was vacant and we had to drive 85 miles to find one. Thus ended our first section of the AT. Total for the two days – 31 miles, lots of climbing and descending and more snow that would have been preferred. I Look forward to our second section which we hope to do in VA where we will meet the Roberts boys for a day of hiking

Peace, Dad