If you enjoy the adventure part of the posts more than the day to day stuff please feel free to scroll down to the picture of the sunset and start there. Don’t worry you won’t hurt my feelings 🙂
This week started a little rough. I really like where we are staying. We are in Rainbow Village, Largo a 55 plus community and it was by far the best of the choices we had. The people are very friendly, the facilities are spotless, and I feel completely safe. But I definitely miss my view and it’s much less fun working from the RV when you can’t step outside for a moment and look at something pretty. We aren’t within walking distance of anything and it would be a stretch to drive to the beach on my lunch break so I am feeling a bit stuck here. Lee is going to school everyday and getting out, but to be honest I am feeling a bit stir crazy. Then, to prove things can get worse, the site next to ours (which has been empty most of the time we’ve been here) was filled by a huge motor home. For some reason, their main slide-out with their dinette is facing our awning area and now I am staring right into their kitchen window. I am trying not to, but I don’t really have anyplace else to look, I mean it is really right in front of us. Can’t be much fun for them either since their windows open to us and now we can hear each others conversations. Geez. (They’ve got the better end of the deal, our conversations are much more interesting than theirs.-Lee)
So I know we need to start getting away from our site more, but just like in a sticks and bricks it’s tough to come home from work, make dinner, then have time to do anything. It’s odd really that here we are doing this crazy adventure and I am ending up being a more “traditional” wife than I have been in years. To be completely clear, I have tremendous respect for anyone who fills that role in a marriage, that was just not who I was in our marriage…mainly because I worked farther away, traveled quite a bit, and wasn’t nearly as good at it as Lee was. (Further evidence that I rock. She rocks in her own special way. – Lee) But things are different now, and as our life is evolving our roles and interactions with each other need to evolve as well.
I know we are both experiencing situations where behaviors we have been totally fine with for years are no longer OK. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. This gives us an opportunity to “reset” as a couple and figure out not only who we want to be individually but as a couple. (I want to be Benedict Cumberbatch. – Lee) One of the things you tend to do as a long-term couple with kids is divide and conquer. So we are just not that used to doing this together. I can count on one hand for example when we went to the grocery store together and now we are doing it every week. That might seem like a simple thing going to the grocery store, but when you have $150 for the week and two different opinions on where to go and what to buy, something that was previously very simple suddenly becomes a conversation and in some cases a negotiation. Everyone says communicate, communicate, communicate to deal with the transitions of the full-timing lifestyle and conventional wisdom is absolutely correct, but what they don’t say is all that communicating is exhausting. You’re working out “muscles” that you haven’t needed to use in a long time and sometimes it can be painful. (She’s right. Communicating with her is exhausting. I am more of a ray of light and joy in an otherwise grim world. – Lee)
So what does that all have to do with where we are staying? Well, the amazing views, moving about, and seeing cool new stuff for us makes those conversations briefer. They still happen but you’re trying to get through it as quickly as possible so that you can go see the cool things. When you sit for awhile and are living more of a “regular” life those conversations happen more frequently and take longer. Plus you are having them in a relatively small space and in our case we really need to be careful about how we have them. You can’t go to separate corners, raising your voice is a bad idea since it’s really loud in your tin box, and arguing outside isn’t an option because you have tons of neighbors. So you not only have to talk about issues that have been resolved for years you may also need to do it in new ways. You don’t have to do any of this of course. You could transplant your old roles into this new life but I wouldn’t recommend it. I truly believe that all of this communication is a VERY good thing. (She drinks. You should keep that in mind while reading her stuff.) Relationships can get stale and if nothing else this life is forcing us to reevaluate who we are with each other. I would however recommend that you do all that with a really pretty view. (I don’t know what she’s talking about. I always have the prettiest view there is. – Lee)
I know I am a bit all over the place with this post, but all of these feelings seem to go hand in hand. Frankly it’s too tough to be able to separate what’s a symptom and what’s the source at this point so I am working through all of them simultaneously the best I can. Not the best scenario. I also find myself missing having a dog. Not Molly (the cavalier we gave to a friend before coming on the road) but just a dog in general. (I have offered to lick her face to simulate having a dog, she seems uninterested. – Lee) Molly would have hated this lifestyle…she traveled terribly even short distances, but she was just one of many dogs I have owned in my life. Plus ALL of our friends have at least one dog and even though we get the occaional envious comment about the freedom a “no-dog” life offers, they all seem pretty happy with their choice despite any limitations the dog might cause. Cori/Greg and Gene/Eileen both have the same kind of dog (cavachon) and we love both of these dogs. They are small, smart, active, and cute as a button. I mean seriously look at these pictures…how can you resist these dogs faces.
I know getting a dog is a long term commitment and should not be done on a whim. I also know that our concerns regarding us living with a dog in this lifestyle have not changed. But I really miss puppy kisses….don’t know what else to say. (The offer still stands.) So I went on my lunch break to a nearby puppy store to check them out. Let me say for all of my New England friends, I do know puppy stores are not the best place to get a dog. People feel so strongly about it there that I think I only saw one puppy store in the 13 years I lived there. But in other parts of the country they are pretty common and if you’re not in a circumstance to locate a local breeder or adopt through the local humane society they are an option. On a side note, my stepfather, who is 65, wanted to adopt a dog from the Columbus Human Society and because of his age they would only let him adopt a dog that was 8 years or older. Seriously not cool. People are living a lot longer and as much as I love dogs I definitely fall into the “they are animals and not people” group. Anyway, there is a puppy store right around the corner that I have been dying to go into, so I I took a quick trip on my lunch break on Wednesday. The place was very clean and they had tons of puppies…so lots and lots of puppy kisses and the staff was very nice and helpful. They didn’t have any cavachons but the trip certainly brightened my day. After the visit I spent some time researching the cavachon breed and am more convinced than ever that when we do eventually get a dog again, this is a great breed (by temperament) for this lifestyle. So I did some research and found a private home breeder in Sarasota and they had a white male puppy who was exactly what I was looking for. Lee and I had a serious conversation about it, but in the end his common sense won out over my puppy fever. We really don’t know what our life will look like (being here in Largo for 10 weeks is not an accurate representation) so the responsible thing to do is wait and see. I hate being a responsible grownup.
So in order to combat the “closed in” feelings and “no puppy” sadness, I have planned a nature day for us on Saturday. There are several wildlife parks/gardens in the area that are free or near free and I want to get out there with my camera and immerse myself in some wildlife. Plus, my good friend Jo (who seems to have a sixth sense for these things) sent me a text and asked me to come down and visit her and Ben, Gene and Eileen, and Kelly and Bill on Martin Luther King day. I totally forgot I have that day off and replied back with a huge enthusiastic YES!!! Lee has school that day so I will go down on my own and it’s great to have friends where being half a couple if not an issue at all. So this weekend is covered and I need to find something to do during the evenings and maybe on the occasional lunch to break up the day.
While I am talking about going to see Jo and Ben in Fort Meyers I wanted to mention the differences in weather. Even though they are only 2 hours south there is a 10-15 degree swing when you travel there. I think because Largo is in between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and surrounded by water on three sides it is cooler. I don’t mind the cooler temps…I’ll take 50-60 over 10-12 degrees any day, but it is cloudy here. Not the Florida I am used to where it rains a bit in the morning and then is sunny the rest of the day, but overcast most days until early afternoon and then a little bit of sunshine. Again, waaay better than up north, but I could use some more sun as I think it would help improve my overall mood. So excited about seeing the gang, not just for the company, but for a little dose of warmer weather. It reminds me a bit of New Hampshire in that we could drive two hours into the Green Mountains in Vermont and get totally different weather.
This week we also spent some time dealing with some rig repair issues. When we originally got our rig they did not have a Splendide and gave us another washer/dryer combo. This never worked at all from the first day, so we made the dealer replace it with the Splendide we had ordered originally. Four months into use the Splendide just stopped working and locked tight with clothes and water inside it. When we called our warranty folks they said it was still covered under the Splendide warranty and Lee then had to call them and they told him to call a local RV tech to do the work and they would pay for it. The first tech he called refused to do anything but replace it (which Splendide would not accept) so Splendide provided the name of another tech. It took several days for the guy to call us back, another week to get on his schedule, and after waiting all day Monday for a no show he finally came on Tuesday. The tech was very nice and I was grateful I finally got my clothes out of the washer, but he said the board was fried and would need a part. We spent the rest of the week trying to get Flagg RV to send us some sort of paperwork that we could send to Splendide to prove it was under warranty. Meanwhile, doing some research on the Open Range site I also discovered that there was a recall on our slideout switches. Open Range Technical Service Bulletin 07092014 from Highland Ridge RV on July 09/2014: “Highland Ridge RV has identified a potential issue regarding the function of the slide-out systems with the Open Range products. Models affected are new unsold models and models that currently under the limited 2 year warranty…Highland Ridge RV has determined that the slide-out in/out switches that were installed may not produce enough electric amps for the system to function correctly. Due to this there is a chance of slide-out motors, gears boxes and/or drive shafts failing.” Other people on the forum stated they called their dealer and they either sent them new switches or scheduled a service visit. Our dealer (who has gone through four Service Managers in a one year period) didn’t notify me about the recall. I asked them if they could just send the switches and we could replace them. This was really a good thing, because we noticed the motor was making a funny noise the last time we put the slideout out and hopefully this explains it. I generally avoid the more technical discussions in the forum, but I have to say I am glad I stumbled across this as we could have had a much more serious problem down the road.
So enough of all of that not-fun stuff. Friday’s weather was absolutely beautiful, so Lee and I drove to Indian Rocks Beach (about 15 minutes away) to watch the sunset. Lee has gone a couple of times, but it was always too cold for me, but tonight was just perfect and we took the most beautiful pictures. We also got to listen to taps being played when the sun goes down. An older vet comes every night and plays his bugle as the sun falls beneath the waves. Absolutely lovely moment and a very nice man.
On Saturday we got up early and decided to check out one of the four local parks. Pinellas County has a large park about 15 minutes away called The Florida Botanical Gardens. We went there first because it’s so close to the house I could go on a lunch break and hang out. We ended up spending several hours there because it was so amazing. It is totally free and it is divided into multiple sections so we took a while to walk around. They have the east and west gardens, a tropical section, wedding area, herb garden, butterfly garden, alligator area, and a wonderful historical village with over 25 buildings. The buildings were largely left to the historical society in wills with enough funds to completely transport the building. Then other members of the historical society fill it with antiques. Very, very cool, completely free, and totally unexpected. The historical area also has volunteers in several of the buildings who explain about the time period and the particular building they are in. I spent quite some time talking to a woman about how quilting is done today versus how it was done in the 1800’s. Really neat.
After such a great time at the gardens I really didn’t want to go anywhere else, so we will save those for another day. We went back to the RV for lunch and then we puttered until 5pm when the RV Resort was having a pig roast. Lee wasn’t terribly thrilled about going, but I thought it would be good to at least put in a short appearance, plus free food, so we walked down at 5pm.
On Sunday Lee went to a study session held by one of his fellow students who is a retired Air Force Colonel and a whiz at all things electrical, so I decided to go and visit the Sunken Garden. After the great experience on Saturday, I almost didn’t go because I didn’t want to be disappointed, but the weather was beautiful so I drove the 20 minutes to St. Pete. Sunken Garden’s claim to fame is that it is a 100-year-old garden and I really wanted to see plants that were that old. The $8 admission threw me off though. Not because $8 is a lot of money but because I have found the free or near free attractions are often better. I was pleasantly surprised however and definitely felt I got my money’s worth. Although it was a bit crowded (there was a line when it opened at noon on Sunday) and not as big as I would have liked (only took me 45 minutes to walk through), it was jam-packed with huge beautiful plants and there were many more flowers in bloom than I would have expected in January. Also the gardens boast many plants from tropical regions around the world, so I got to see plants and flowers I had never seen before. Definitely worth a trip, but I would recommend going during a weekday if you can manage it.
Monday was a holiday for me and it was great because when living in New England I thought it was a waste to have a holiday in January (no disrespect to Martin Luther King just wish it would be a different day), but down here it was amazing. The day was absolutely gorgeous with temps in the high 70’s and sunny skies. Lee had school unfortunately , but I was free so got up early and drove down to Fort Meyers to see my friends Jo and Ben, Kelly and Bill, and Eileen and Gene. I had an absolutely wonderful time talking with my friends and we had a nice dinner (thank you so much Gene and Eileen for treating me…that was incredibly sweet) and I reluctantly left at 7:30pm to start the two-hour drive home. It was a long day but absolutely what I needed to brush the last of those “closed in feelings” away. I know I’ve said it before, but I absolutely love these people and they are the best support system in the world. No matter how you are feeling, they are there for you and although the experience does vary from person to person, we are all absolutely committed to supporting each other as we transition to the full timing lifestyle. There was lots of laughter, great advice, and some commiseration which is all a wonderful thing. And most importantly it reaffirmed that I am not alone in this. So thank you all so much for the wonderful day and I can’t wait until we are all together again.
- When you are feeling closed in get out and do something. See friends, visit a nature park, go see an attraction.
- You can fill an entire weekend without spending much money (I spent $8 this weekend).
- Be careful of making any big decisions when your feeling antsy or closed in. Give it some time to pass.
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