Another busy week here at the OBX compound. On Thursday, Glyn and his wife Diane from RV Driving School arrived. Several weeks ago Jo (who took training from him and now drives her rig almost everywhere) arranged for Glyn Carson from RV Driving School to come and visit our group here in OBX. They were willing to send him for four couples so Lee and I, Cori/Greg, Kelly/Bill, and Sue/Guy signed up. So Glyn and Diane arrived on Thursday and Jo cooked a very nice meal for the group for their arrival. We had a nice time chatting and since the weather was perfect we built a fire down on the beach. The circle was much bigger with 12 couples so Craig built a larger fire than normal. I had a lovely chat with Glyn and Diane who are very nice people. Their story is very cool because they started full timing when Glyn was 47 and ended up moving to Alaska after they fell in love with it. Glyn worked as an ice road trucker and after 14 years he semi-retired again and they are back on the road. Very interesting because Lee and I are that age and it’s great to hear a story from someone who full timed for a while, took a break, and started again. Eventually the crowd dwindled down and there were only 7 of us left. The tide started to rise and we all sat in our chairs laughing when we had to lift our feet when a wave came up too close. Suddenly a particularly strong wave completely covered our fire and BAM there was a steam explosion. Sand, water, and wood sprayed everywhere and thankfully no one was hurt. I got a huge glob of wet sand on the top of my head and when we were sure everyone was OK we all started laughing hysterically. Craig (who was a professional fireman) was as surprised as the rest of us. So it was amazing BUT please do not try this at home. We are really lucky no one got hurt!!
On Saturday, Sue planned an excursion for us to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I teased her that she needed an itinerary to plan an excursion for a group of this size and without a beat she made the following flyer for all of us and handed them out. This made me laugh so hard, because Sue was poking back at me about my tendency to over-schedule. I love that Sue has a wicked sense of humor and was excited that she was going to navigate the group for the day. Whenever we go anywhere it’s 3-4 cars, coordinating the leave times, and finding a good place for lunch. Oh, and you’d better check Trip Advisor for that lunch! So the outings have been a blast but keeping everyone together is a bit like herding cats, so I loved just going along for the ride on this one.
The drive to anywhere here is absolutely beautiful and Lee and I had a great time in the car and were in the back of the pack when we all came to a stop. Now, finding a place to pull over with 4 vehicles (two of them dually’s) in a line is challenging, but I give Jo huge credit (she was driving the lead truck) for pulling us into a side residential street. Turns out the address shown above is not 100% accurate…actually there was no true address for the refuge. Every wildlife place we have been has a ranger station of some kind that offers information on the park. This one had two wooden stands with a couple of maps. The maps were not super clear as the street markers were very faded. Also the roads were dirt and gravel and were supposed to be wildlife drives but truly not so much. The “restrooms” marked on the map for example was one port-a-john. At this point we have been to lots of these parks and none of us have ever seen anything like this. So it really was a great day to not be in charge of the schedule. Sue did a valiant job of getting us all to the first walking area…I say valiant because there was no cell service, the GPS didn’t work, and the maps were super unclear. But we made it and the walk itself was very nice. The park is off the island on the mainland and was quite a bit more humid than we have been experiencing but the flowers and foliage were very pretty. It was also very interesting walking the path with Craig and Glyn who are experienced hunters. There was quite a bit of bear sign around the path and they pointed out to me how I could tell where the bear had been. We didn’t see any bear (probably for the best) but I did learn a ton about tracking their movements. Afterwards we had a great lunch at Tortuga’s Lie Restaurant. The jerk chicken was the best I have ever had and then everyone split off to run errands. It really was a lovely day and Sue did a wonderful job. Hmmm we may need to give her the additional title of Excursion Planner!! Seriously Sue would have made an awesome cruise director.
As if the day wasn’t nice enough, when we got back to the campground there were flowers waiting for me at the rig. My middle daughter Kat worked with my husband to send me flowers at the campground for Mother’s day. They were absolutely beautiful and the card brought tears to my eyes. My oldest daughter Kyrston had called a few days back to ask about what to give me and I knew exactly what I wanted so she shipped the soy lotion candle to my sister. I also had a great conversation with Kay, my youngest. She admitted she was at a loss as to what I would want…a great question since we just got rid of everything and are pretty tough to buy for. I told her an ITunes gift card was good anytime, because there was always music or ebooks that I would be interested in. Since this was my first Mother’s Day on the road I wasn’t sure what to expect but my kids all went out of their way to tell me and show me how much I mean to them. Really there is nothing else a Mother could ask for and I am truly grateful to them all. They have been 100% supportive of our full timing lifestyle from the very beginning and I am exceptionally proud of the women they have become.
Mother’s Day morning my driving lessons started. I was really mellow about the whole thing until the morning of the first session. The girls all got up and came out in their pajamas to wish me luck, which was incredibly sweet and I found myself getting nervous. I have driven some, mostly on the interstate, and was starting to get nervous about driving “in town”. Glyn was very calm however. As he said later, after driving a truck in Alaska all those years not much could rattle him. We practiced backing up, parallel parking in a shopping center so you can get out (my favorite part) and lots of left and right turns. Because you use your own rig the lessons are extremely helpful and after a few hours I felt MUCH more confident. One of the best things he did was show me what would happen with a little toy truck and trailer first. I was having a heck of a time visualizing what was happening on the “blind side” of the trailer, but when Glyn showed me with the toy a light bulb finally went off in my head. Lee is a good teacher and has been very patient, but I just wasn’t getting certain things. Glyn showing me and all those things Lee had said finally clicked. Each couple had purchased 2 sessions of 4 hours each for $440. The price is on the high side but it is hard to put a price on gaining that level of confidence. Also I called my insurance company and they did say we would get a break on our insurance for taking the class, so hopefully that will help offset the cost. I will say though that for me I think a single 4 hour session would have been sufficient, but I have already driven some and you may feel you need the additional hours of practice. The great thing about Glyn is he is very open to providing a custom experience. A couple of the women stated they were nervous about driving over bridges and he immediately changed their route to make sure it included bridge driving.
Lee got his first official RV Tech repair gig. I say that because he has been fixing stuff for us and our friends since school finished, and we’ve been working on finalizing the details of the business. He put the sign out when we hit OBX and his first job was replacing a Norcold 1200 cooling unit. As these things go that’s a pretty big job, but he jumped right in and successfully completed the installation. You may have noticed I added a map on the right hand side of the webpage showing where we are at any given time. As soon as we complete Lee’s webpage, I will be adding a map to show our upcoming route and we will definitely be adding a DIY tab on this site to show all the customizations he has done. We have never been small business owners so we are working our way through the marketing and accounting aspects of running a small business and our friends Cori and Greg of RV Solar Solutions have been very helpful in sharing their many years experience in running a small business with us.
Monday we got hit with the tail end of a tropical storm and it poured on and off all day. Gene and Eileen arrived on this day and unfortunately because of weather we couldn’t make a group dinner work. The ladies sprung into action though and put together a chili, salad, and cornbread meal for them. I was working during all of this and it was so nice that they took care of making sure they were fed. Since Gene and Eileen drove through the storm, it took longer than they expected and they were really tired. Everyone came to greet them and bring them the food and since I didn’t make anything offered to walk their dog Max. I have missed Gene and Eileen, but I was most excited about Max. I know Hobie is going to get a little jealous but he will just have to learn to share me with other dogs.
For weeks I have been walking the beach and collecting shells with the vague idea of making a shell picture frame and putting a picture of the gang in it. A couple of weeks ago, Cori and I bought a couple little glue guns and some cheapie picture frames at the Dollar General. The weekends and nights though have been taken up with lots of activities and with the driving classes being staggered I didn’t think we would have the opportunity to all get together for a girl’s night. Cori though proved once again why she is such a great friend to me and quietly got everyone together so we could have craft night. It was really sweet and a lot of fun. We all got to be together, talk, and drink a little wine. That’s what I love most about Cori..in very quiet ways she goes to some trouble to make people happy and if you mention it she always denies it’s a big thing. She also happens to be an excellent shell picture frame maker and by general consensus hers looked the best. Lee said, “No offense, but Cori’s looks like it could be sold in a shop.”
Since I had driving class on Sunday the rig has been a bit of a mess, plus the guys are finishing up our solar install so I am working at the kitchen table to try to stay out of their way. During lunch I got to take both Hobie and Max with me to the beach. I’ve been wanting those guys together for the last three weeks and Sue was happy to come with to help me get some pictures. There were a ton of college aged kids on the beach and it was a beautiful day, although a bit windy. It was a great 1/2 hour and I finally got the pics I have been looking for. It’s neat how they look similar but have somewhat different coloring. They are both cavachon’s and I think Max looks more Bichon whereas Hobie seems more Cavalier. Can you tell I am totally obsessed with these dogs?
Tuesday night we had a group dinner of Lasagna (made my Kelly) and home-made Caesar salads prepared by Lee. Lee’s first job was making Caesar salad’s tableside at a fancy restaurant and when Kelly got wind of that a plan was born. Also, Diane and Glyn talked to us about Alaska which was incredibly helpful. There are tons of urban legends about RV’ing to Alaska and they were very helpful in dispelling most of them. You don’t need an extra gas tank for example to visit the commonly traveled areas and you can use some flexibility when booking campgrounds along the way. I highly recommend talking to someone who actually lived there before making a trip as they truly can tell you what the area is like. One of the funniest things that happened all night was Lee was playing ball with Hobie and Max. Max is really good at catching the ball on the bounce and apparently Hobie got a little upset because the first opportunity he had he lifted his leg and peed on the ball. It was if he was saying, “I’ll show you Max.” So funny and we laughed until we cried. The look on Cori’s face was priceless when her “kid” misbehaved. Loved it!!!
Wednesday we finally got to go kayaking. This was the one thing Cori wanted to do and because of work schedules, other activities, and weather it kept getting pushed. So we were going no matter what and we had 4 couples who had boats. Although the tide was very low and we had to do some walking in spots, we had a great time. I also got some cool black and white shots of an abandoned bridge. Then we went to a local bar, Watermen’s and watched the sunset and ate some dinner. The food was delicious and the company was great. For the first time Lee and I shared a meal. (He’s not a hug fan of sharing his food!) We got stuffed mushrooms and prime rib all for $36 before tip. There was plenty to eat for both of us and I think we will definitely try this approach again.
Our last night in OBX we celebrated Greg’s birthday and had our last fire on the beach. IT was a wonderful night and a great way to cap off a great month with people we love. It’s bittersweet to be leaving because we really like it here and have had a great time on the road..but can’t wait to see my sister and get to the reunion rally.
- Do not let the ocean cover your beach fire when you are sitting near it because it could cause a steam explosion.
- An RV class is a terrific idea, but to make the most of your experience be very clear with the instructor on what your concerns are so he can provide a custom program.
- Crafts can be a fun and inexpensive way of spending time. Adding a little wine only makes it better!!
- Before RV’ing to Alaska talk to someone who has spent a lot of time there or better yet lived there. There is a ton of misinformation on the internet. Big shock right 🙂
- When Kayaking in the ocean sound check the tide levels
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How scary that steam explosion must’ve been! Glad no one got hurt. What fun you all had. Most will be at the reunion rally too, right? I love the name of Lee’s new business. That orange sunset was so pretty. Cute doggie pics and bridge pics. You’ll have share some of that Alaska knowledge with us in Glacier. So are you able to confidently back the rig into a campsite now? I need to practice that.
It was scary then pretty funny. I would not say I was confident backing in but lee and I worked quite a bit on our communication which was awesome.
Now that Lee has his first repair out of the way I bet he will start getting busier and busier! Great job on taking the driving class, I think it is important that both sides of a couple know how to drive. You never know when it will be necessary.