Family and Friends Tour Concludes: Part One of Two

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.

July 29, 2018 Speed of Sanity Kickoff from Denver, Colorado and with daughter Stephanie’s good wishes for us!

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.

McLennan Plumb Descendants gathering in Belle Plaine, Iowa, August 5, 2018

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!

Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas, July 31, 2018

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.  

Family & Friends Tour Concludes on April 15, 2019 with Dinner in Warrenton, Virginia with Jeff and Mary

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)

8 Weeks as Full-time RVers!

It’s been several weeks since our last post. The past few days we’ve reflected a bit on what we wanted to convey in this entry. It is our hope that what we share from our experiences will help others who are considering a full-time RV lifestyle. We are still newbies and will consider ourselves as such until we have at least a year behind us.

We’re still smiling!

Hindsight Leads to Insight

The pace that we kept from October 2017, when we decided to shift to full-time RVers, until July 29 of this year, when we launched full-time, was quite daunting. In hindsight, we should have slowed our pace and extended our launch date another few months. Downsizing was by far the largest task at hand, especially after 43 years of creating our household! Anticipating our house rent would increase in the crazy Denver housing market was part of the impetus for setting July 29 as our launch date. We also wanted to gain some experience with the trailer before autumn and winter arrived. (Ahem…we are certainly doing this!)

The reality is that our July 29-September 2 Midwestern Loop schedule didn’t permit enough “down time” for spending at our campsites. We wouldn’t trade visiting our family and friends for anything. Instead, we should have tweaked our schedule. It’s one thing to have a road trip with just a vehicle, but an entirely different situation when towing a trailer that is one’s home! In retrospect, we needed the extra time to decompress from the pre-launch frenzy.

We are now viewing the Midwestern Loop as our “shake down” trip. Literally, we had some screws loosen in the trailer and a fault develop with our truck bed topper! We also had a good dose of reality those first six weeks going from one campground to another and refining our abilities as far as unhitching/hitching and setting up/breaking camp routines. After 44 years of tent camping, this requires a different skill set! Problem solving through various trouble spots has helped us become better acquainted to the nuances of owning a trailer and big diesel pickup!

Back in Colorado

Alas, when we arrived in Colorado Springs on Labor Day, we spent several days as tourists with dear friends of ours from Pennsylvania. Our daughter and son-in-love drove down from Denver to share in part of one afternoon. It was fantastic to hike the Garden of the Gods, drive up to Pikes Peak, tour the Cave of the Winds, and witness the beauty of the Air Force Academy chapels. 

Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs with our Pennsylvania friends.
Protestant Chapel, Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs

A few days later we shifted gears to a week’s stay in the Denver Metro area at Chatfield State Park. We had previously scheduled dental, doctor, and truck oil-change appointments knowing that we’d be back in September. Having time with family was the icing on the cake! Our daughter and son-in-love joined us for camping and hiking at Golden Gate Canyon State Park!

Golden Gate Canyon State Park, hiking with our family.

Truck Issues

The irony of our return to Denver is that with each appointment for the truck, we found ourselves needing to schedule more time in Denver to address truck issues. Thus, our time was extended and reservations to camp at Rocky Mountain National Park were cancelled.

  1.  Our four-month old SnugTop topper had a component break on the rear window when we were in Kansas. The topper was removed by our dealer in Littleton and freighted back to the manufacturer in California for repairs. It’s due back in two weeks. We will return!

    Back to storage we go with items from the trailer or bed of the truck!

    No topper makes a naked looking truck! At least we did some reorganizing and donated more items to ARC!
  2. At Big O Tires, we had a new set of four tires installed and decided to replace the spare too. Oops…the spare tire “key” wasn’t left behind by the previous owner of our truck. (Admittedly, we assumed that everything for changing a spare was packed with the tire-changing kit. Used truck buyer fail on our part). It took some doing with a trip to a different Ford dealer that had a “key” and removed the old spare for us. Back to Big O we went to have the new tire installed on the rim.

    Removing Spare Tire
  3. We left Denver last Thursday to head to the mountains for what we thought would be three weeks only to be faced with a truck engine that was losing power on steep inclines. The turbo boost wouldn’t engage. Fortunately, we made it to Golden Gate Canyon State Park campground, where we stayed for three beautiful days. We were able to schedule a service appointment at our Ford dealer on Tuesday of this week (one week after it was serviced for an oil change) plus get a rental car for a couple of days. Thankfully the drive back to Denver was mostly downhill. Answered prayers were being able to reserve a spot back at Chatfield State Park and having the truck repaired!

    “The Little Engine that Could” Rental Car 🙂

Intentional Awareness

In an attempt to create “Life at the Speed of Sanity”, this is our short list of “intentional awareness” on which we hope to stay focused:
Be flexible.
Be patient.
Balance our pace.
Have a Plan B at all times.
Autumn and winter weather are around the corner.

The list looks good. Now to put these into practice.

The mountains are calling!

Colorado Gold at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Living “Life at the Speed of Sanity”!

~ Diane & Steve