We officially concluded our 8 ½ month Family & Friends Tour (F&FT), which we launched on July 29, 2018 from Denver, Colorado, in conjunction with our full-time RV lifestyle. As a perfect finish, we dined with my cousin, Jeff, and his partner, Mary, in Warrenton, Virginia, on April 15, 2019. (We hadn’t seen Jeff in 10 years and hadn’t yet met Mary). What an amazing and memorable Tour! Then the next morning Steve and I drove away from Charlottesville, Virginia to begin a quick dash west to Colorado and then Montana.
This post is Part One of a two-part recap of our F&FT. Part One provides insight as to why we visited folks across the country and how fulfilling we found it.
Family, Friends, Acquaintances
Our hearts are absolutely full after having experienced time with many many people as part of the F&FT. These folks include family members, friends, acquaintances, and lovely visits with townspeople or other RVers along our journey. Our first trip out of retirement was to commit to possibly 8-12 months of travel to visit many people, to see beautiful parts of the United States, and to experience Americana along the way.
Life is about the Relationships
For years we have championed the significance of the many relationships and connections that we have made over the years in numerous communities and settings. Our mantra has been: “Life is about the relationships, not the stuff!” With respect to the mindset of our tour, have you ever been to a reunion? This tour was much like having many reunions over the months.
Over our lifetime, we’ve had many opportunities to share in carefully planned reunions or informal gatherings with family or friends. There were also baptisms, confirmations, graduations, weddings, and memorial services, where family and friends come from near and far to celebrate together.
For our Tour, we had fun planning our route based on family and friends, who we could visit while at the same time appreciate the beauty of our country plus escape wintry weather. Over and over again, we gathered with loved ones in their homes or at a favorite restaurant of theirs. It was like a reunion, but done almost one on one or family by family without a large gathering. We had time for longer and/or deeper conversations. Hands-down, it was such a pleasure and something that will remain with us.
An Example of Small Town Hospitality
There were frequent times when we’d pull into a small town’s gas station or step inside a community’s public library, where we immediately experienced warm hospitality through a very nice conversation. In these situations, curiosity tends to lead the way whether we are the ones asking questions or the other party is seeking information from us. Where else can one enter a small town such as Cawker City, Kansas with its population of 469 (according to the 2010 Census), and end up having exchanges with several people over the course of two hours?
Our brief time in Cawker City will remain imprinted on our memories, perhaps since it was our first planned stop as full-time RVers. After all, we wanted to see the world’s largest ball of twine!
The folks we met included: Kathy, the librarian at the Cawker City Library; Linda, the caretaker of the largest ball of twine; the college intern (we didn’t want to interrupt his thoughtful work to catch his name) intently cataloging a rock collection at the historical society located in the former Hesperian Library; a trustee of the Cawker City United Methodist Church (he paused, rolled down his pickup window, and told us who he was) offering to open the church for us to view the historical 1886 Pilcher’s Brothers organ plus gave us a fresh muskmelon; and, Steve Richardson, Historical Society president and restoration specialist enthusiastically provided us an impromptu tour of the ongoing façade and interior renovation of the 1869 Ledger Building.
Thank you to everyone who cheered us along our Family and Friends Tour! Despite having this Tour officially concluded, we look forward to seeing more of you who we weren’t able to see this past year. Stay tuned for Part Two of our Tour recap!
“Living Life at the Speed of Sanity”
~ Diane (and Steve)