A Reflection of Another Year Passed

Hey y’all! I decided I wanted to write a reflection of another year we’ve lived as we look to the future for a new year to come. Looking back, I’ve come to realize that every new year comes with its own ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, highs and lows. This year, 2021, has been no exception.

The biggest struggle of this year was social distancing. While it really didn’t faze my husband, daughter, or myself, other members of my family did somewhat struggle with it. Many of the decisions I had to make this year weren’t met with open minds, but nonetheless, I made my decisions and accepted that others would not agree. Life moves on.

My husband and I lost friends this year. A dear friend of ours crossed over into another world very unexpectedly and not a single day goes by when he doesn’t cross our minds lovingly. We miss him, but we must also remember that he is no longer suffering from the sickness that took over his body. I want to include that his health had nothing to do with Covid, but instead other underlying issues which persisted to worsen. His husband, of course, suffered the most from the loss. Unfortunately, as the year drew on, we also lost him as our friend. I can’t say what happened exactly to cause the change in our friendship because I don’t know. We were there for him as much as we could be. The only thing I can estimate is a misunderstanding that I couldn’t change because of other things I was dealing with.

The good things that occurred this year include becoming a published author in February with my book “Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me: A Journal of Life Stories” which is available in both paperback and eBook through Amazon.com, buying a motorhome and exploring Florida as it was the only state on the East coast I had yet to venture, planning and accomplishing a birth week scavenger hunt for my husband’s 51st birthday (which he absolutely enjoyed), receiving Bindi Irwin’s book signed by Bindi herself for my own birthday as well as a signed postcard personalized with a birthday greeting from Robert Irwin, and completing two different photoshoots with my new Nikon camera. Now, these are just to name a few because honestly, I can’t recall every little thing.

My published book available in paperback and as eBook through amazon.com.

Since we’ve been on the road exploring Florida, I wanted to also share some of the unique sites we’ve seen.

Mickey Mouse ears in Orlando, Florida. We were hoping to see Disney’s castle, but that was a no go, and we weren’t leaving the interstate to find it only to take a chance of getting caught in traffic. Maybe next time around.
A ‘Jurassic Park’ jeep in Tampa, Florida. Sorry the iconic symbol on the side is blurry. I almost had the perfect photo, but an Amazon Prime delivery vehicle photo bombed my attempt.
I thought this was a very unique paint scheme saluting our troops. The wreath hanging on the front is very festive.
A new military utility vehicle on its way to California. The truck driver was also kind enough to allow me to climb up onto the back of his truck to get a glimpse of the inside of this military vehicle. I’ll tell you the inside looks like a very tight space with a couple screens and many, many gadgets and gizmos along its dashboard.
Another unique design on the side of a tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop just outside of Orlando, Florida. Better be minding Uncle Sam y’all.

I would say we’re finishing off the year on a positive note as we make our way back into Georgia to set in what we’re calling ‘dry dock’ so we can work on a few things, improve, and set up for our next adventure. We have many plans for 2022 including our own YouTube channel, but more details to come later, after the new year starts. Until then, we wish y’all a safe and Happy New Year 2022!

Gators In Gator Country

Hey y’all!  We were stopped for a few days at the Love’s truck stop at exit 314 off interstate 75 in Florida.  In truth, this truck stop appears to be no different than any other Love’s truck stop, except maybe a classier looking women’s restroom, but otherwise, the same. 

The difference between this Love’s to any of the others we’ve been to isn’t on the inside.  It’s on the outside.  This place is quite literally surrounded, not by swamps, but by swampy areas.  We parked in the very back, farthest corner of the trucking parking lot, and right behind us was swampy turf.  To each side of us was swampy turf.  They were like swampy ditches out skirting the entire parking lot.  Closer to the actual store is a very alga caked pond that may as well be called a swamp.  The surface of it is so green, I don’t know that anything could live in it, though I did see a crane or two, peck from it. 

The entire pond looks like this caked segment.
I think the crane knew it was being photographed.

Right in the middle of the entire Love’s truck stop operation is a large pond, completely fenced in, and every few feet there are signs to warn you of dangerous alligators.  Now, these signs aren’t just there because the employees think their cool.  No.  There are actual alligators in that pond.  I don’t know exactly how many live in it, but I’m pretty sure there are at least two given what I’ve seen. 

Can you spot the alligator in the background?

The first day we were there, we walked all the way around the fenced in pond, commenting on the signs posted literally all the way around the pond, but we didn’t know any better.  However, after making the full circle, nearing the end, near the truck stop mechanic shop, there I spotted what looked like a 4- or 5-foot alligator sunbathing on the bank.  Talk about feeling blown away because I physically spotted it, from several yards away without any direction!  The next day we took another walk around the pond, this time, on the same bank I spotted another alligator, a different one… or maybe it was the same one. I really couldn’t tell.

Even more fascinating is to see them in motion. Thank goodness it’s fenced in.

It’s fascinating to see these alligators not as residents of a zoo, but in real outdoor life.  What’s even more fascinating is all the birds we see walking around inside the fence, with these alligators.  I’ve seen them skirt the alligators, and don’t think they aren’t fearful of those alligators attacking for a quick snack.  No, these cranes may tiptoe around, at least a good foot away, but they rush their steps the rest of the way once they know they’re clear.  These alligators may be following those cranes with their eyes, but not once do they move, not even a twitch.

The Love’s truck stop celebrity.

It’s interesting because we weren’t even going to stop here at this Love’s truck stop.  Since we’ve been traveling, we’ve stopped in at several truck stops.  We’ve also stopped and stayed overnight in the back of Walmart parking lots, we stayed one night at the back of a Big Lot’s parking lot, but it was located in a strip mall, so in reality we stayed overnight in a mall parking lot, but we bought needed things from places in that strip mall.  We were aiming for the truck stops at exit 341 off interstate 75, but no sooner did we get on the road, after stopping at a Publix grocery store for food supplies, I saw the enormous billboard advertising this Love’s truck stop at exit 314.  My husband was still hesitant to stop because he wanted to get further up the road, but after a little research to find out how big it was, we decided on it, and to confirm our decision, just as we were pulling in, it began to rain.  I don’t like my husband driving the motorhome in the rain.  The motorhome is older, and I don’t trust weather-wet roads.  Given how hot and humid the weather is in Florida, the rain was invitingly refreshing.  The wind that day was quite strong, so that also had my nerves on edge, but now that we’ve discovered the alligators living in the Love’s truck stop pond, it was totally worth stopping in for a few days! 

See ya later alligator!

Fort Myers, Florida

Hey y’all!  Since we’ve spent the last two months traveling down into Florida and now back up through Florida, I wanted to take the time to tell you about our adventures in Fort Myers.  It’s a very popular town, to say the least.  We only spent about a week there, but it wasn’t without adventure. 

We traveled into Fort Myers during the first week of December and found a place to park in the back of a Pilot truck stop.  The day we pulled in, we decided to check into any RV parks that might have been in the area, and luckily, we found a very nice one barely a mile from the truck stop called Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park.  Normally I refrain from using names when writing, but in this case, the names are necessary.  Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park is run by a guy named Troy and his wife Sharon; two very hospitable people who additionally helped us out, not only did they give us a small discount for staying there, but he pointedly parked us a little closer to his place just so we could get the best Wi-Fi signal possible so we could watch the College Football SEC game between our Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama’s Crimson Tide.  Unfortunately, our Bulldogs lost, but life goes on. 

The day of the game, we pulled into the park just before noon, set up, plugged in, and preparing for game day, we drank a couple Budweiser’s.  Afterwards, hubby and I decided to take a small walk to Family Dollar, which wasn’t far; just one street over.  People were having outdoor barbeques and enjoying the hot, sunny weather.  However, the following morning, the road we had walked to get to Family Dollar was marked off with yellow crime scene tape and a sheriff’s car was blocking the way.  An interesting wake up call to say the least.  The road was blocked off for most of the day.  Why?  In the middle of the night, around 2:30am, there was a shooting… on that road.  To be more specific, the shooting took place at the house where just the day before we saw they were having a family cookout.  We didn’t stop or anything, just commented between ourselves how they were having a cookout.  Everything about the atmosphere on that street seemed so peaceful.  Well, something went wrong in the middle of the night.  Hubby was awoken by the flashing lights of cop cars; our daughter was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of shots being fired.  I slept through the entirety of it.  In talking with the owner of the park, Troy, we learned that it’s a very rare occurrence in that area.  The last time, he said, was about four years ago. 

We pulled into the park on Saturday, for the SEC game, and were scheduled to stay until Monday, however, I was enjoying the serene scenery and the residents, we paid and stayed an extra day to further enjoy the area.  We would take a walk around the park in the mornings after having coffee, throughout the afternoon, and again at night after the sun went down and the temperatures cooled.  Everyone was decorating their homes with Christmas lights and inflatable Christmas figures.  Our first night there, as we were heading to bed, I noticed some major Christmas lighting through our back bedroom window.  Looking out was a magnificent sight.  There was a house literally on the edge of the water, and their holiday decorations were over the top according to my standards.  What made the scene so magnificent was how it reflected over the water. 

A spectacular sight.

The owner’s place was nicely done as well, but his had a musical accompaniment.  It was hard getting the right shot where everything was lit at once.  As we went to pay for an extra day at the office, we compliment Sharon on their Christmas lights display and found out he isn’t even finished with them!

Amazingly, he wasn’t finished with the lighting.

We met some very nice people during our stay there.  Everyone was so friendly, wishing us a good morning during our morning walks, and sharing their life stories with us if they caught us walking at night.  One guy, an older gentleman, who is now retired from the sheriff’s department following an incident in which he got hurt on the job, shared with us that him and his wife plan to travel after he has some surgery that’s required being how he got hurt.  He didn’t go into details, but he found us so interesting given how we’re traveling. 

During our time in Fort Myers, we also explored some Mexican cuisine.  First, we ordered from a small, local taco truck, called Super Taco.  We ordered some simple tacos and a super burrito.  Both were so tasty we went back the next afternoon in hopes of eating there again, but they weren’t open.  Since they’re food wasn’t available, we walked a little further up the street to what we thought was a Mexican restaurant, but it wasn’t a restaurant, it was a Mexican food market.  Inside this food market, in the back was a takeout counter like you find in the Walmart Deli section, but this was straight Mexican cuisine.  The food was absolutely fantastic!!!  My husband knows more Spanish language than I do, so he ordered for us and our daughter who stayed back at the motorhome with our cats and watched a movie.  I hate to say it, but I felt so out of place, I stuck to my husband like I was glued to him.  Additionally, I wasn’t big fan of Mexican food, but after eating from that food market, I have a changed palette!  For what we ordered, we received about the same amount as when you order from a Chinese restaurant… more than one can eat in a single sitting.  We ate that for lunch, dinner, snack, and the next day my husband finished it.  I would love to go back for more, but we don’t have the time to travel back down to Fort Myers.  My favorite part was their tortillas.  They’re nothing like the packs of flour tortillas you buy in your local grocery store, or even the flour tortillas that come with your meal at a Mexican restaurant.  These are homemade, pressed singly, and taste way better.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat at a Mexican restaurant ever again, because the Mexican food market figuratively blew my mind, and changed it.  I love authentic Mexican food!!!  Actually, while we were walking one night after the sun went down in the park, we were walking by a house that you could literally smell their homemade tortillas.  It smelled so good, I considered knocking on the door to ask for dinner.  LOL.  Just kidding.  I would never do that, but the next day, during our morning walk, the small Hispanic lady who lives there was smiling and very friendly, wishing us a good morning and asking us how we were doing.  We smiled back, and told her we were doing good, and joked with her that we almost stopped for dinner the night before.  She must have thought it was cute because she smiled even more with us.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to try out other authentic ethnic cuisines!

Yummy food but was only open the one day.

Visiting and staying in Fort Myers was an experience I would gladly do again.  The food was divine, the Christmas decorations were festive, and the locals were welcoming. 

Another place that was festive.
A few more Christmas lights.

A Birthday Message To Heaven

Hey y’all.  Today I’m writing to remember a member of my family who has since departed from this world.

Back in 2015, my paternal grandmother passed away two weeks and two days after her 73rd birthday.  It wasn’t a battle against cancer, and it wasn’t as a result of a tragic accident.  I would consider it more of a battle with mental illness, though unfortunately she would have totally disagreed with me, but that’s how she was.  She hadn’t always suffered with mental illness, it gradually developed sometime after she turned 60 years and she simply couldn’t handle that she was only getting older.  She didn’t like that she was getting older and unfortunately, this was her mental downward spiral.  I’m not speaking ill of the dearly departed, I’m sharing what I can recall of her life story as it was. 

Like every person in this world, she had her ups and her downs.  She lived life and she made mistakes, like we all do.  She married at a young age and later divorced.  She married for a second time and became the victim of spousal abuse.  She divorced from him as well.  She would have married a third time, but given her previous two experienced marriages, she was fearful, so she simply lived in her loving relationship without the paper marriage.  Unfortunately, her decision to not marry came with the cost of his unexpected passing and she was therefore left with nothing but her memories with him and his belongings.  It was a very sad time, but also a bright beginning because it was during this time that her only child, her son, needed her help. 

Her bright beginning began with helping to raise her two grandchildren, myself and my younger sister.  I was 13, my sister was 10, and our mother had left our dad.  Our situation gave our grandmother a new purpose; a reason to smile again and life proceeded.  With us in school, Granny became very active in school functions.  She chaperoned our field trips, took part in the PTA, she even actively took part in our fundraising endeavors, driving me exclusively, door to door when selling hoagies for the school booster club or Christmas wrap and delicious treats to benefit the cheerleading squad.  Granny really enjoyed supporting our school’s academic efforts.  However, her school support would only last but so long because as time goes by, I would soon graduate, and later, so would my sister.  With my graduating from high school and moving out on my own, and then my sister graduating and moving out on her own, it was hard on Granny, but she quickly acclimated to a new life that no longer included raising a couple teenagers. 

Granny loved to travel, and she went places.  She frequently went to Alabama to visit a friend, she traveled with another friend to Salem, Massachusetts, she traveled with my dad to Minnesota and visited the Mall of America which is best known for its enormous Ferris Wheel, and she accompanied my dad to several company Christmas parties while he was in the trucking business.  When my dad was forced off the road due to climbing health issues, Granny’s traveling slowed way down. 

Granny always believed that age is just a number.  It’s a good belief to live by, but one must also accept that aging means changes in one’s health.  Her physical health wasn’t always the issue, but her mental health was another story.  Her inability to accept she was no longer as young as she felt she ought to be, or wanted to believe she was, became the fallout of her life.  Both of her grandchildren now with families of their own and her son living his life as a grandfather, she yearned for a new life and new friends.  I can’t count the number of times I would suggest senior centers, or my dad suggesting groups she could get involved with, but she wasn’t interested because, to quote her, “I don’t want to hang out with old people.”  She may have been in her mid-sixties, but her attitude was that of a 30-year-old, and she refused to believe otherwise.  Believing you’re younger than your actual age is one thing, medically altering yourself so others think the same is another.  Unfortunately, this is when she truly began to lose her true self.

It started with fixing a hernia she’d been living with for many years.  This hernia, her doctors told her, was about the size of a grapefruit, but wasn’t causing any bodily distress.  Her only problem with it was in her physical appearance.  She claimed it made her look like she was eight months pregnant, and to quote her again, “No man past 50 wants a woman who looks like she’s about to give birth.”  I nicely reminded her a few times that no one would think she’s pregnant being her given age.  She may have felt like she was 30, but she didn’t look 30.  She looked her age; early to mid-60, and she looked good for it.  She didn’t even look pregnant.  Well, not to me.  She still insisted she get the hernia fixed, and so she did, but not without complications to immediately follow.  One procedure led to another, led to another problem, led to another problem, and not all these problems were related to the said hernia.  First there were complications with the mesh used to reposition the hernia.  Then there was a problem where her body was physically rejecting the mesh and this in turn caused her to become very sick.  After that, things were fixed, and she recovered.  Well, because the issue was fixed, she moved on to another personal cosmetic complaint.  Her eyesight.  Following a couple appointments with the family optometrist, she was scheduled for eye surgery so she would no longer be required to wear glasses 24/7.  “Glasses make me look old.” She spoke.  After her eye surgery, I swear she spent hundreds in sunglasses of all styles.  Finding out her favorite country music singer, Kenny Chesney, had his own line of sunglasses out, she wanted and requested a pair of each, and following research to price his line of sunglasses, she went absolutely ballistic as his sunglasses went for $150 per pair.  She wasn’t upset with Kenny Chesney about the prices, she was upset with the company selling his sunglasses, as if he didn’t have a hand in pricing his own merchandise. 

I would like to say that following her medical journey, things turned around, but they did not.  Instead, things took a much different turn.  Though she wouldn’t admit it, she deeply missed the man I still call to this day my grandfather.  Her first husband was my grandfather, but he passed on while my dad was still young.  The man she loved dearly, but never married is the closest I had to a grandfather on my father’s side.  She missed him dearly and loved him like no other, and truth be told, she was lonely.  So, she decided to check out dating sites.  There isn’t much to say here, except that her loneliness combined with her missing my grandfather as much as she did, left her very vulnerable.  As much as we all wanted her to seek help, there was absolutely no talking to her.  Not a single person could get through to her.  Not her family, not her friends, no one. 

It’s hard to watch someone you love, suffer from physical and mental health, knowing there’s nothing you can do because the person refuses anything and everything.  This is what happened to Granny.  She chose to shut everyone out and deteriorate before our eyes.  This was no longer my grandmother who took us to Luray Caverns, put together my sweet sixteenth birthday party, or celebrated my first acceptance into college after high school.  Now she was only a shell of the fun-loving woman she used to be.  The only part of her previous self that remained was her obsession with Kenny Chesney, with magazine photos plastered all over her bedroom, like a 16-year-old heart throb. 

Today, my grandmother would have been 79 years old.  Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her in passing, whether it’s a Kenny Chesney song that plays over the radio, when I’m cooking one of her favorite dishes, like her late mother’s family recipe ‘chicken slick’, or when the holidays roll around each year.  Christmas was one of her favorite holidays, and I think it’s mainly because she enjoyed spoiling her grandkids.  Her favorite Christmas gifts to me and my sister was the first Christmas we had with her after my mother left my dad.  She got us matching charm necklaces.  Mine read ‘Big Sister’; my sister’s read ‘Little Sister’.  Unfortunately, neither of these necklaces exist anymore, having been lost over the years.  Still, today would have been Granny’s birthday and had she still been with us, I would have called her.  However, heaven still has no contact number and therefore is not taking phone calls. LOL. 

I do know that the day she passed, December 29th, 2015, she went home to be reunited with not only her mama, but also the truest love of her life, the man she never married.  I feel better knowing she isn’t suffering as she was, and she is truly happy again.  Happy birthday Granny.

A Florida sky full of clouds. Granny loved Florida.

Morning Coffee

Hey y’all, how do you feel about coffee?  Personally, I can’t go without drinking at least a cup of coffee every morning.  In a way, it’s my wake-up liquid alarm clock.  Even before we set out on the road to explore America, my brain simply will not work without my dark roast caffeinated hot beverage. 

My coffee preference is solid dark roast, but I’ve been known to settle for medium roast, not that there’s anything wrong with medium roast, it just doesn’t do it for my caliper of thought.  Medium roast tastes too weak for my liking and where I typically drink 1-2 cups each morning, I would need to drink an entire pot of it just to wake up.  Just for the record, I’ve never drank an entire pot of coffee by myself, but I know people who have.  For one, my husband.  The other is my late grandmother.  My grandmother, when she drank an entire pot of coffee, she wound up washing her entire house, from top to bottom… literally.  I drink 2 cups and I get a body buzz. 

Since being out on the road, I still require my morning dark roast, even if I have to run a generator to have it.  If I can’t run our generator, I settle for truck stop coffee; the largest one they have because it’s always medium roast.  I’m not complaining, just stating a personal fact. 

My favorite coffee brands are Green Mountain: Dark Magic, Private Selection: Guatemalan, and Folgers: Black Silk, but I’m always open to others in the dark roast category.  I drink my coffee either piping hot, or iced, but I can’t drink piping hot coffee once it’s cooled to room temperature.  Well, I can, but I don’t like to because it’s like drinking a soda that has long since lost its carbonation.  Yuck!  However, being on the road, it’s not like I can add an ice cube to the last three swallows before emptying my coffee cup, so I just drink it because I’m not wasting my coffee. 

Well, y’all, having said all that, I hope you’ve had your morning coffee, enjoyed it, and are as ready for another day as I am.  My family and I will be hitting the road again before long.  The weather outside appears to be a bit on the cloudy side and the temperature are rather humid today compared to the past week.  Until next time, thank you all again for reading and for following me.  More to come later!

Enjoy your coffee this morning while looking at some fluffy clouds. (Punta Gorda, Florida)

Three Cats… In A Camper

Hey y’all, Guess what? I’m posting again! Let’s talk cats.

When we started on the road, I wasn’t sure how our cats were going to handle such a drastic change in scenery, being used to seeing the same sites day in and day out while living stationary in a non-moving trailer in the middle of a trailer park.  I worried more about one of them slipping out the door, however, now that we’ve been on the road since October, I’m not worrying quite as much because I’ve found that one cat has no interest in being outside, one cat has decided her ‘perch place’ is as far away from the only door as possible, and one cat we keep harnessed during the day and leashed only when needed.

Our oldest, Merlyn, has no interest in being outside.  She’s nearly 10 years old and we’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old.  She doesn’t even seem to care about looking out the windows.  She’ll make herself comfortable almost anywhere she can plant her butt.  She gets comfortable sitting on the dash right in front of the steering wheel, laying out on top of the dirty laundry pile, at times she even claims our daughter’s open backpacks as her own, and then there’s the top of the back of the passenger’s seat, right beside the only door.  We can literally have the door open. She looks out, but she has the Jeff Dunham’s ‘Walter’ attitude… “I don’t give a damn.”  I’m not surprised being where she has been with us; Maine, Massachusetts airport, Georgia, and now Florida where we’re currently visiting. 

Merlyn says she will make herself comfortable anywhere she pleases.

Our second oldest, Carlee, has a slightly different attitude about traveling.  She’s nearly 8 years old and we’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old as well.  We’ve found her favorite place to perch are right on top of our printer in our bedroom, or on the back of the booth next to their food and water dishes.  She won’t go near the door, which  I’m very thankful for because she spooks so easily, thanks in part to my godfather.  When she was a kitten, after we first got her, he visited from Maryland and simply would not leave her alone.  She has become the kind of cat that comes to you if she wants attention, otherwise, leave her alone or she runs.  If she were to get out, she’d run, and that would be the end of her; an image that makes me sick to my stomach to even think of. 

When we first started out traveling in our motorhome, we spent the first weekend at a place called Beaver Run, in Metter, Georgia.  We left her and the others harnessed and leashed while we took a family walk around the spring-fed lake.  We were only gone for about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes.  When we returned, I found her harness still attached to the leash, but she was nowhere in sight.  I didn’t start panicking until we literally searched every possible place in our 24-footer and couldn’t find her in any of them.  Frantic, I didn’t know what to think.  Hubby finally found her when he decided to run his hands up under the dashboard, over the engine hump (because our camper is an ‘87’ and does need some work) and that’s where he found her.  She was simply hiding from our youngest cat which isn’t surprising.  I of course, cried tears of relief, on the verge of the possibility that she was gone forever. 

Carlee preferes to stay towards the back of the camper.

Now, the youngest of the three, Maleficent, has quite a different personality.  She just turned a year old this past November.  We found her at Kitty City Cat Rescue in Macon, Georgia and adopted her for our teenage daughter, also making a $60 donation to the rescue in our daughter’s name.  We call her the ‘puma’ because she is fiercely playful and doesn’t seem to have a fear of anything.  We have to keep her harnessed throughout the day and leashed, but only when necessary, otherwise I fear it could be a ‘curiosity killed the cat’ kind of situation.  Not a single day goes by that she doesn’t live up to her name.  We’ve given her several nicknames since the day I brought her home from the cat rescue.  There’s ‘puma’ because when she plays, she growls like she’s a big scary puma in a small, indoor domesticated cat’s body.  We call her ‘Belles’ like ‘Belle’ in “The Beauty and the Beast” because of the bell on her collar which allows us to easily keep tabs on her regardless of the time of day, or night.  She makes a really good early morning alarm clock.  Scratch-jingle, scratch-jingle, scratch-jingle… time to fill the food bowl! 

Maleficent likes getting herself into trouble.

Now that we’ve been traveling for a couple months, I’m not worrying quite as much, but I won’t lie, my worry is still evident, just lessened.  They’re all proving we’ve done well in training them, with the exception of Merlyn’s ‘her majesty’ attitude.  We spoil all our cats, but Merlyn, she’s just… too spoiled for her own good, and she knows it.  Hubby is putting a wager on that Merlyn will become a ‘dash cat’ within a year.  If he proves to be right, she’ll be the only one in the three cats we have, and that’s only because she’s his cat, or he’s her human.

Not pictured- Merlyn, because she walked away when I set up to take the photo.

Well, I think that does it for today’s post. Thanks again for reading and for following y’all. Check in tomorrow for another new post as I fill y’all in on our experiences in Fort Myers, Florida!

Punta Gorda, Florida

Good afternoon y’all!  As we have continued further into our traveling endeavors, we’ve certainly experienced many things.  For instance, the town of Punta Gorda, Florida.  The weather was nice and hot throughout the days and cooling at night.  For the most part, Punta Gorda is a quiet town, but there really isn’t much to do.   We watched airplanes of various sizes fly in and out, but that’s about it. 

One of the many planes we saw flying into land at an airport nearby.
Another plane we saw flying in.

Through one Saturday there was apparently an ATV or motorbike race of some sort going on not far from where we were parked that made the area sound like Talladega in April.  As the day drew on and the sun set, the noise grew louder to the point that when we went to bed, you would have thought they were racing the roads outside our camper.  The noise wasn’t bad, but our cats were acting crazier than they normally do.  They were acting out so badly, they were being absolutely annoying.  The youngest one exclusively.  I don’t know what her issue was.  Between using the kitty box, running rampant throughout the camper, and bathing herself rather loudly, it was like she was thinking, ‘How can I annoy the humans to the absolute max?’  Being the youngest, she still wears a bell on her collar because it’s easier to keep tabs on her at any given time.  Unfortunately, she loves sleeping on my pillow at night, so when she gets an itch she must scratch, and it’s like an alarm going off sporadically throughout the remainder of the night. 

Parking in the back lot, dirt lot of a Pilot truck stop, we met a homeless musician living out of his SUV, waiting for his next gig.  He seemed like a decent guy; he simply experienced a rough turn of events when a previous gig fell through which caused him to lose his place when he couldn’t pay his rent. 

While parked, we got to watch a few truck drivers practice their parking.  The main driver seemed to have an African or possibly Jamaican dialect.  He was the one giving instruction, so for several hours, in the basking heat of the afternoon, we watched each of them take their turns pulling up and backing into a course of traffic cones set up by the main guy giving all the instructions.

Later into that day, we watched another guy, driving a white SUV, turn off the main road into the dirt lot, only to do a single doughnut burnout which of course stirred up a massive cloud of dirt, and then drive off.  What his purpose was for doing that, we don’t know, but I will say we were not impressed.  Sure, a doughnut well done, buy why?  As soon as he did this, we jumped to close our camper windows, or the dirt cloud would have completely permeated the entire camper. 

After the sun went down for the night, we were relaxing, watching some television when we heard what sounded like a vehicle dragging something heavy down the main road.  Then we literally heard that heavy something detach itself from said vehicle.  Afterwards, within 30 minutes of hearing the obvious scrapping thunk, we heard at least three other vehicles hit that heavy something.  Not good.  We didn’t like the sound of it as it sounded dangerous, so hubby and I went to check it out.  Turns out the driver lost their bumper.  Walking in the dark with my phone in hand for the flashlight, we found a twisted, mangled heap of a bumper that could have very easily caused serious damage to any vehicle unable to avoid it.  I moved this mangled bumper into a ditch off the road so others wouldn’t accidently hit it.  I don’t even want to imagine the damage it would have caused otherwise.  While we don’t know what kind of vehicle dropped the bumper, we’re estimating it wasn’t in good condition to begin with. 

During our last couple days in Punta Gorda, we met a couple of people performing a search and rescue for a lost cellphone.  What happened was the lady who lost her cellphone had accidently left it on the roof of her car while she was driving.  She was making a turn off one road onto another, unfortunately causing the cellphone to slide off into the middle of the opposing lane.  More unfortunate is she had the type of cellphone which has a compartment on the back where she kept her credit cards, bank card, and her driver’s license.  These items were later recovered by a passerby walking her dog and discovered the cards laying in the grass.  With the help of Facebook, she was able to return them to their owner.  The cellphone on the other hand wasn’t recovered; not until much later.  We were all estimating that another passerby found the cellphone, tossed the cards aside and went about their own way.  Thankfully, this was not the case.  It was the next day, as we were leaving out, stopping in at the Walmart located just across the street from the Pilot truck stop, the guy we had met and tried to help in finding the lost cellphone, recognized our camper and stopped to give us the update.  Thankfully, the cellphone was also recovered after unfortunately being run over and therefore cracked and broken by another vehicle, which is why the cards were found strewn about as they were in the grass and turned in at the local Wawa.  Though the phone was now broken, we were glad to hear it was recovered and returned as the owner was more upset, not about the loss of her phone, but about the photos she had in her phone.  Luckily, she should be able to take her broken cellphone to her service provider and the representative should be able to recover all her photos.  A happier ending than what could have been. 

So, that’s Punta Gorda, Florida.  I’m sure there is way more to the town than we witnessed and experienced, but when funds are limited, you make your own of it.  We’re still thankful for all that we were able to experience.  Helping others is what we enjoy doing and we did that as much as we could.

Until next time, thank you y’all for reading and thank you even more for following my blog.  In the meantime, we’re moving on, on down the road, and into the next town of our choice… Fort Myers, Florida!

The clouds were really fluffy looking.
One of the many unique recreational vehicles we’ve seen since traveling.

TravelChat: From Thomaston, Georgia to St. Augustine, Florida

Hey y’all!  It feels like it’s been too long since I last posted, yet it’s really only been 2-3 months.  I’ve wanted to write and post, but with us just starting out on the road, we’re still working on our lack of Wi-Fi.  With any luck, next month we’ll be able to fix that.  This month we’re striving for a generator.

We left out October 3rd for a campsite called Beaver Run in Metter, Georgia.  Since then, we’ve been to Tybee Island and swam in the Atlantic Ocean, and I saw Tracy Byrd walking the beach. Before you ask, I did not walk up to him, mainly because I didn’t know what to say, since he was sporting turquoise / seafoam- colored swim shorts and no shirt, he was obviously on vacation.  Otherwise, I would have found, both the words and the courage, to have approached him.

After we left Tybee Island, we found a place and parked overnight in the back of a Publix parking lot.  That was an experience, but we were all very comfortable.  Finally, the next day we found another place and parked, this time staying in Savannah for the remainder of October, in what appeared to be a mostly Hispanic community.  A trailer park called Water’s Edge.  You can imagine my reaction when I knocked on someone’s door, trying to get help in contacting the landlord upon our arrival because my free phone service only works with Wi-Fi, to receive the response, ‘No English’ in Spanish.  My eyes were wide once I realized my surroundings.  I know very little Spanish, but thankfully my husband knows keywords.  Again, this place was also very comfortable as well as an experience.

I learned quite a few things during our stay in the park.  The kids all wear uniforms and masks to school, for one.  On Halloween, I was looking forward to handing out bubble gum lollipops to the trick or treaters while dressed in my own costume of the Deranged Easter Bunny from ‘A Christmas Story’ pajamas, but that didn’t happen.  I didn’t get to pass out candy or admire costumes, but I did dress as the bunny, and I took a walk with hubby to the Kroger which was just up the road from where we were staying while wearing it.  That was an intriguing experience!  I was hysterically laughed at by a Hispanic sitting in his car, beeped at by a passing truck on the main road, received many looks from vehicular passerby’s, and I got a compliment from a shopper inside the Kroger.  I admit, the experience was entertaining.  Funny thing is, I almost chickened out of wearing it to the store, but I’m glad I didn’t because I would’ve missed out.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a photo appeared online.  Someone might have taken a one because how often do you see a 5’7” pink bunny walking along the side of the road?  LOL!  That’s the only fun we had for Halloween because apparently, Hispanics don’t really celebrate it with costumes and candy, but Halloween aside, everyone was ever so friendly, helpful, and though there was a language barrier between us and our neighbors, it didn’t stop us from communicating and making friendly acquaintances. 

My favorite part was washing laundry.  Obviously, we don’t have a washer and dryer in our motorhome, so I’m either washing laundry by hand or stopping at laundromats.  Since I’m not stopping in and using laundromats, I’m handwashing our laundry.  The first time I washed our laundry, I did it on a Saturday afternoon.  Washing our clothes wasn’t an issue.  I used the time to wander into my own thoughts, shutting pretty much everything and everyone around me out, until one of the neighbors walking around, greeted me in Spanish and then asked if I spoke Spanish.  I know a little Spanish, so I was able to greet him in return and say ‘little’.  He seemed to understand me, but also not understand at the same time.  He saw I was washing clothes by hand and proceeded to offer me the use of his washer and dryer.  He kept saying, ‘This America, this not Mexico.’  I just kept on washing our clothes and chuckled whenever he said something.  Just so you know, he was drinking, as the label on the glass bottle he was carrying around drinking from read Sangria. 

While staying in the park, we were also able to fix a couple things dealing with our home with some help from the landlord of the park.  First, we discovered our plug was actually a dryer plug, but the landlord was extremely helpful going to Home Depot to pick up the right plug and an additional connector.  We reimbursed him for the parts, so now we’re able to plug into a 30amp or a 50amp for full electric, including air conditioning.  We were also able to, per say, fix our plumbing/sewer issue, so now we no longer need to worry about that.  All in all, things have been bumpy, but nothing is perfect right off, and we’re learning as we go.  Fixing things as we go.  Last month we fixed our electrical plug, this month we’re hoping to find a generator, and then next month we’re aiming for proper phone service with Wi-Fi accessibility.  One step at a time.

Now it’s November and we have since left Savannah, to go further South.  It’s a good thing to because in listening to the local radio stations, we’ve since learned of some coastal flooding taking place in Savannah.  We left Savannah two days ago.  Now I’m happily writing this from a spot in St. John’s RV Resort in St. Augustine, Florida.  Before now, I’ve never been to Florida, even though I do have family who live in the panhandle.  I guess it was just never the right time, but here we are and I’m still pinching myself. LOL. 

The drive to Florida wasn’t bad.  We’ve come to realize that the interstate is much easier to travel in a motorhome than any backroad, simply because the lanes are wider.  Normally I’m scared to death to be on the interstate and surrounded by all the big trucks when I’m in a rinky-dink car.  So, I normally prefer the backroads.  Navigating a backroad in a 24ft motorhome is edge-of-your-seat stressful with narrow roads and tight curves.  I’ve found the interstate to be much easier because now I feel like equal to the big boys of the trucking world.  To ride in a car on the interstate, feels like walking with giants; scared of being stepped on, or in this case, ran over.  The most stressful I’ve been on this trip, so far, has been when hubby was driving our way through the heart of Jacksonville.  We were going to bypass it and go around using the Beltway instead, but just before we left Walmart in Yulee, Florida, where we stopped and parked for the night, we were consulting our road atlas, and hubby decided our best chance is going straight through the heart of Jacksonville rather than fight with the constant merging of traffic on the Beltway.  He called it ‘one large rotary from hell’.  Needless to say, I spent the ride calling out when lanes were clear for lane changes, when to slow it down around certain curves, and silently telling myself to breath while clutching both sides of my passenger seat with clammy hands as the traffic around me continued to move at a very fast, very tight pace.  It was like being caught up in a stampede.  Keep moving or you’ll get run over. LOL. 

So, now we’re in St. Augustine, Florida, and the weather today is calling for sporadic rain.  We were going to continue on down the coast taking I-95, but we’ve decided, due to the rain, we’re going to bebop around St. Augustine for a couple days and once the weather clears, we’ll continue our road trip down I-95. 

I apologize for not including photos in this post but do know I’m working on video uploading as well as photo uploading, and it’s taking extra time because of our lack on Wi-Fi accessibility.  There is a lot to do, and it takes time. 

Well, y’all, I will close out for now.  With luck and proper planning, next month I’ll be able to start posting on a weekly basis and share loads of photos and videos.  We have a video that you can take a walk with us around the lake at Beaver Run, another short video that includes the Tybee Island water tower, and another one I may or may not post where I’m telling y’all about how my cat Carlee scared me near tears.  To give you a little hint, she found herself a nice tight hiding place in our home while we were walking around the lake.  Until next time, thanks for reading and following! 

Home Sweet Motorhome

Hey y’all!  So, the last time I posted, it was a piece my husband wrote about scammers on Facebook Marketplace falsely advertising top-notch motorhomes and RV’s for ridiculously low pricing. 

Today, I’m writing because we finally made it happen.  Yes, we bought our motorhome!

This week has been so anxiety driven and action packed, I’m simply glad we were able to accomplish the enormous task. 

Hubby and I have been scouring Facebook Marketplace for what feels like months.  I swear to y’all, I was checking the site 5, 6, 7 times a day just to see if anything new had been added, and I was rechecking motorhomes and RV’s which we’d already read over deciding not to inquire.  Well, last week, hubby found this one, a 24ft with 2 sleeping areas. 

So, through the weekend I enquired with the seller, first making sure it was still available, exchanging numbers for better communication, and finally, arranging it so that we had a ride to go and look at the motorhome. 

On Monday, my dad and his wife agreed to take my husband, daughter, and myself to go and look at it; just under an hour to get there, and the same to get back.  The motorhome looked just as it did in its pictures, the interior is needing some work, but no more than we can handle, and my husband started it up.  It cranked over like a beast on the first try. 

On Tuesday, the guy selling it was nice enough to help us out a little further, and personally drove the motorhome to us though Hurricane Ida was making her way through.  I was browning some ground beef to make chili when I happened to look out our kitchen windows and saw our motorhome drive by on the next road over from ours. 

The only detail I don’t like about the motorhome interior is its carpet.  I hate carpet.  I hate carpet.  Did I mention, I hate carpet?

On Wednesday, after I finished with my scheduled classes for the morning, my husband and I tackled face first into the next project… ripping the carpet out.  We spent that afternoon and Thursday afternoon ripping carpet out and removing the trash accumulated and left behind by previous owners. 

Sorry, it’s not the best, clearest photo of the carpet before I tore it up, but you get the idea that it had to go.

On Friday, I admit I didn’t do anything with our motorhome.  Instead, I taught 3 scheduled classes, took a nice long nap, and then proceeded to do very little through the rest of the day.  Everyone needs a day off from working and I was more than exhausted. 

Same general area as previous photo, but after I ripped the carpeting out. We’re going to put down water resistant wood laminate.

I’m hopeful that next week we’ll be able to get it properly tagged and titled as well as install new flooring in it.  Once the new flooring is in, I can properly scrub everything inside, from top to bottom, then proceed with the details of minimizing our belongings.  We’re not hoarders, but we do have a lot of things, most of it being in the media department.

I said we had a lot of books.

So, everything has been a process, but we’re getting there… one day at a time.  I know it’ll all be worth it once we’re moved in and settled. 

As always, thanks for reading y’all!

Troy Talks: Health Watch 1

My wife and I have been perusing the motorhomes available in our area on Facebook Marketplace. We wish to take our only child around this vast, panoramic country to provide her with some on-the-spot experiences before she has to take on the world by herself. We all know there are scam artists in this world, people who feel the only way for them to accomplish their own dreams is to step on someone else. Several of these people, for there are many out there, choose to prey on the unwary buyer on Facebook Marketplace.

Finding a 1995 Dolphin Motorhome for sale for two thousand dollars is not necessarily a scam. When it is in the condition of this one, it probably is.

After contacting the email, my wife talked with the woman selling it, a lady in the military, who said that she was away from home for medical, military training purposes. She told my wife over the phone (via email) that her son had died at eighteen in a bike accident, and she was selling the motorhome for two thousand dollars due to the sad feelings she felt toward the passing of her son. We only had to purchase four BestBuy cards and load each with five hundred dollars. Then, eBay would step in, protecting both the buyer and seller from fraud. The seller would then ship us the motorhome, which was in storage in California due to her being away for training. After the motorhome was delivered, eBay would release the money to her.

As my wife and I have been searching for the perfect motorhome for our family for a long time, we did not see the scam. I am sorry to say that we almost believed the woman’s sad story about her son. We didn’t have any knowledge of people scamming others in this fashion and it wasn’t until we went to purchase the BestBuy cards that a clerk mentioned it might be a scam. This got me thinking about the old adage- If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

When we got home, my wife and I, each with our own laptops, dug into the information we already had, as well as look up the relationship with BestBuy cards and eBay, which the woman selling the motorhome assured us was involved. She even gave us a phone number to contact eBay. When I talked with the guy on the phone, who spoke with a thick accent, he assured me it was legal and the safest way to protect both the seller and the buyer. Yet, when I looked up the association of BestBuy cards to eBay, the number to eBay was different from the number the seller gave me, and eBay told me they didn’t have anything to do with purchasing vehicles on Facebook Marketplace through BestBuy cards.

Though my wife and I didn’t actually get taken for two thousand dollars this time, due to a friendly warning and some quick thinking on our part, there are many out there who do fall for this type of scam. Beware of something that might be too good to be true.

Another example of this scam, to provide a sense of comparison, is this 2003 Fleetwood Tioga. As you can see from the picture, it is far too nice to be sold for two thousand dollars.

Seller’s Description- I don’t answer at chat, please contact me by email: (emailaddress@gmail. com) 2003 Fleetwood Tioga 23E- Price $2000. The price is $2000. I always kept it in garage, no rust, no dents, original paint, no accidents and clean title without any liens or encumbrances. Excellent condition. It is non-smoker, non-pets in this car. It was just serviced 3 days ago, new tires, tags up to date, etc.

You can also see the message is eerily similar to the first. If you were to contact them, they would probably tell you a sad story about one of their family members passing away, which is why they are now selling such a magnificent camper for such a low price.

There is no way, unless this person is the kindest person in the world, that this class C camper is for sale for two thousand dollars. The first warning to these scams is the email address. It clearly states that you are not supposed to use email addresses, telephone numbers, or personal information. The second, when and if you do contact the seller, is the seller does not ‘answer to chat’. A third, which sometimes shows up at the bottom of the description, is this statement. “This seller has turned on vacation mode and is currently not accepting orders or receiving messages.” Remember to check out everything. Too many people fall for these simple scams and the world is not better for it. Be wary and be wise. Stay safe.