Amazing Gift

The trip this summer has reminded me of a time in my past when I received a LARGE gift wrapped box. Once I unwrapped the large gift I was surprised and thrilled to see yet another gift wrapped inside the outer gift. Our travels thus far are just like that gift long ago… we keep unwrapping our “gifts” along our journey up the East coast.

Before leaving Maryland we firmed up the locations we will be calling “home” for the last 8 weeks of our adventure.Making phone calls, checking distances from one location to the next and making some plans on what we will do and see once we are at each location is WORK. Planning is part of our new “carefree” lifestyle😊.

As my Handsome Chauffeur started looking at the maps and consulting fellow Nomads it became apparent that there were going to be lots tolls and there may be overpasses that perhaps the Mobile Condo may have difficulty getting under. With that said, the trip from Maryland to Massachusetts could be a bit more costly in many ways. My Handsome Chauffeur manned his phone, studied different routes and purchased a new app for his phone that calculates tolls. The preparation for the journey was arduous, but very similar to the adage carpenters use “measure twice… cut once.”  We wanted to spend the least amount of money on tolls ( the Circus Train has 5 axels) and we wanted to be sure the overpasses were at least 13 foot 6 inches to ensure we kept from losing our air conditioner from our roof.

Relocating to Massachusetts was going to be a Looooong travel day. The route My Handsome Chauffeur selected took us along the coast. We saw beautiful country sides and drove through major cities as well. All in all we traversed through six states. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and finally MASSACHUSETTS! To our delight we only paid ONE toll…$37.50 to go over the Tappan Zee bridge in New York! The $4.99 My Handsome Chauffeur paid for the toll app and studying the maps paid off! As we traveled through these states we talked about our return to spend quality time in each of them in the future!

Leaving the highways, meandering winding 2 lane roads through small towns, all the while dodging low hanging branches we finally reached our home on the coast for the next 2 weeks Fourth Cliff Recreation area in Humarock, MA. It was simply BREATHTAKING!The Atlantic Ocean view out of our front window (aka windshield). Behind us the North and South Rivers converge and dump into the ocean which is called a “Spit”. The travel day behind us and we get to call this place home for 2 weeks we were in HEAVEN!

Fourth Cliff is one of a series of cliffs located in Scituate, MA. It’s a peninsula. Before 1898 Fourth Cliff was connected to Third Cliff. As a result of the Great Storm of 1898 Fourth Cliff became detached from Scituate when a new mouth for the North River was created. 

We got all settled in and got to meet our neighbors. Fourth Cliff is a military recreation area. It was interesting to us that most of the folks staying here were actually Massachusetts residents where at many of our other locations we stayed at had folks traveling through from other states. The folks were equally interested in us being Professional Nomads. Most of the folks came here as a summer get away. No wonder…. Fourth Cliff is a gem that seems to be a secret. We were so thankful to be here. Our neighbors gave us history of the area and a “locals” perspective on things to see and do along with best times and days of the week to AVOID going into Boston or Cape Cod. We also got a lesson on how to pronounce and understand the eastern Massachusetts dialect. We were invited to “Potty”  to celebrate a birthday…. not a group trip to a restroom.  When someone was looking for “khaaahkis”  they are what we on the Midwest pronounce car keys, no one was looking for  a pair of missing men’s slacks! We all got a giggle out of trying to understand each other😊. 

I really enjoy reading along with other hobbies. Lately, I have been reading works by Elin Hildenbrand. I love her story lines! She writes often about Nantucket and Cape Cod. Her descriptions of the area captivates me and here I am living in the area for 2 weeks. Pinch me I think I am in a dream!

Along the coast most of the homes are weathered shake shingles adorned with multiple flower boxes FILLED with beautiful flowers and almost every home flys the American Flag.  This beautiful lighthouse is in Scituate, MA just down the road from 4th Cliff where we were making our home. Looking out from this point into the sea on June 1, 1813 you would have seen the battle between USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon in which Captain James Lawrence spoke his famous last words “Don’t give up the ship”  which became our Navy’s battle cry. The lighthouse was first lit in 1811.

We rode our bicycles to the beach where we were astonished to see that there was minimal sand. Most of the beach was covered with flat cobble stones which made it hard to walk on, but beautiful!I collected a few a painted some to leave along our journey as a ” treasure ” for someone to findIt was so cool to see the tide changes. We did find sand on low tide which was at least a flux of 6 foot. The ripples in the sand mimic the waves… 

About everyday my Handsome Chauffeur and I enjoy Potato Chips with our lunch. While eating one day I noticed on the back of our favorite brand of chips that they are made in Cape Cod…. go figure since they are  named Cape Cod Potato Chips … Duh! My Handsome Chauffeur loves to tour any kind of manufacturing facility  so BONUS.. the facility that creates something he loves too was a huge score! We learned that it takes four pounds of potatos to make one pound of chips! They use approximately 39 million pounds of potatoes a year in the plant! That’s a BUNCH! 

The factory was close to Hyannis, MA. So we took another field trip to visit the town that is related to all things Kennedy. We toured the JFK MuseumThis was a small more intimate look at not only President Kennedy, but his entire family. Much different than his Presidentially museum that is located in Boston.

As we headed back towards our home on the cliff we stopped in Plymouth, MA. to see “The” rockyep…. there it is..The Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrims landed! It is located in a bay dotted by boats and surrounded by what looks like a mausoleum We were  glad our new friends told us to make this stop as part of  other sites we wanted to see, as even though it is a historic place, you could hear people say as they approached it for a gander “That’s it?”  We were equally underwhelmed. I am not sure exactly what I thought it was going to be, but I expected more due to all the hype we were taught in history. The reality however, is that our country’s birthstone is a mere boulder. The town of Plymouth was lovely though.Next stop “Baaaaaahston” (aka Boston in Midwestern dialect😉)

We were given lots of advice on how to get to Boston. Most locals take a ferry boat to avoid driving in the messy traffic and parking could be a nightmare. Then we met a new friend who let us in on a little secret…because we have a Military I.D. we could park on the Coast Guard base in Boston for F R E E! Score one for team We Be Winging it! We meandered around the dock and spoke to a Coast Guard service member standing watch on one of the Coast Guard Ships in the harbor. I thought the Coast Guard that patrolled our country’s seaboards, but I soon found out their mission is “to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests — in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.” The ship “wears” her own medals and sports other decal that show Her accomplishments.the Service Member graciously explained the what these stood for. The E is for excellent service when they have been evaluated, the 3 green leafs stand for confiscations of marijuana and EACH blue snow flake decals represent busts of 1 cubic TON of cocaine! Whoa! 

Boston is FULL of our great Country’s history and a wonderful walking city. Shortly after leaving the harbor we started our tour along the Freedom Trail that is 2.5  mile through the city where there are 16 sites significant to our Country. The trail is clearly marked along the route. Living so long in Kansas and all the Wizard of Oz stuff there,while following the trail markings I couldn’t help hearing the Munchkins singing “follow the yellow brick road ” We started with Paul RevereThe Old North Church that played a huge role in Revere’s ride. The candles that were lit in the windows indicated “One if by land, and two if by sea”In the courtyard of this beautiful old church there is a memorial garden to our Fallen Heroes of the Afghanistan-Iraq Isis. Each unmarked dog tag honors a fallen Hero.The white stones are etched with Year and numbers lives lost through the wars our country has played a part in starting with the Revolutionary War on the outer ring. The inner ring is stones reflects the lives lost in the war we are currently battling in the Middle East.The Freedom Walk took us up hill and over water. I wish I had a photo of the bridge we were walking across , but I looked down once…it was a grate with sight to the river below and frankly I COULD NOT look down again because of fear! Eyes trained ahead I made it without passing out! We made our way through beautiful neighborhoods to Bunker HillAlas, my Handsome Chauffeur and I did not walk up the 294 steps to the top of the inside of the monument as we still needed to walk back to where we began the tour and our old knees and feet were letting us know that they were about DONE with this tour 😉.

We made it to the USS Constitution aka Old Ironsides. This beauty was in dry dock just about finished being refurbished. The current restoration started in 2015. This wooden ship was first put into service in 1797. “She is the oldest warship afloat in the world. She is the oldest sailing vessel in the world that can sail under her own power and she is the beginning of the United States Navy,” Our tour of the Boston area included delicious food in the North End aka Little Italy. After a day of hiking through the city we were in search of a delicious meal. The North End’s air is filled with delicious scents everywhere you turn. The decision was difficult. We decided to take our friend’s recommendation to get a pizza at legendary Regina’s Pizzeria. WOW the meal we enjoyed after a long day of touring was off the chart DELICIOUS We couldn’t leave the Boston area without a stop by Cheers. The wings were hotthe beers were coldwe felt like one of the “regulars “The two weeks we spent on the Coast came to an end. We will miss everything about it! The people we met, the beautiful sightsthe amazing sunsetsIt was time to move inland. Next stop Hanscom AFB, MA. for a  stay. A short drive away, only 40 miles, this  is the smallest distance we have relocated our home. We traded the fresh sea air, sounds of waves crashing into the coast and magnificent views of Fourth Cliff for a RV Fam camp next to a flight line with airplanes constantly taking off and landing,  scent of jet fuel exhaust and waking up to Reveille. It was like being back to reality after waking from a glorious dream we had for 2 short weeks. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said “I’ll be back”  we also will be back to Humarock, MA in our future!

The great thing about staying at Hanscom AFB was that we were between Lexington and Concord, MA. Our Revolutionary War lesson continued! We made our way over to  the Minute Man National Historical Park.  We drove the Historic Battle road. We saw the sights of the area that on April 19, 1775 the battle began between the British and Colonials…the war had begun for our liberty. Our stay in Massachusetts came to an end. We had the time of our life. It was truly a gift that we slowly unwrapped. We are ready to unwrap our next gift …..Maine! Big wheels are a rolling….. Maine here we come!

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Oh the Places, things and people we saw!

Our next stop on our summer of travel was Maryland. Neither of us had ever been to this area. We decided to stay a month as there was SOOOoo many things to see and do in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area and boy were we glad we did!

First we had to travel UNDER the Chesapeake Bay! Yes, you read that correctly U N D E R water. For those who know me and my RESPECT (insert fear) of water know that this little jaunt under the water while riding in a Circus Train was causing me a bit of anxiety! We asked plenty of folks in our campground what to expect in attempt to quell my fear. Knowledge is power right? Well, let me just say it kind of kicked it up a notch when they told us there may be an issue of us going through the tunnel with propane on board….and boy howdy we certainly do have a fare amount of it on board….to the tune of 35 lbs of it! Tunnels under water plus propane gas could equal trouble! After doing a bit more research we were told we could indeed enter the tunnel, but we would need to make sure the tank was turned off prior to entering. Now I was really sweating! Would we blow up the tunnel if there was an accident of sorts? As travel day approached my apprehension grew and GREW! My Handsome Chauffeur’s cool, confident and collected manner did help a wee bit, but as we approached the tunnel I could feel my palms start to sweat. We pulled over as directed and were met by an attendant who greeted my Chauffeur and collected information i.e. license plate and measured our height to see if we could even enter the tunnel. The attendant escorted my Chauffeur and observe him turning off the propane. When we were given the go ahead we entered the tunnel and went to the depth of 108 feet below sea level traveling for 3.2 miles! Finally as I saw the light at the end of the tunnelthe sweating palms subsided and off we went. Next stop Fort Meade, Maryland!
The travel day went without any glitches. “Lola” (our GPS) was cooperative. As we approached Washington D.C. the traffic became congested as usual. It seemed to take a longer than usual to get to our Fort Meade, but traveling any where on the east coast we have found you measure your trip in minutes not miles. More often than not it takes double the amount of time per mile. The closer we are to big cities depending, if we hit it around Rush hour, the time can easily be tripled! BINGO… we hit D.C. before Rush Hour! Score one for team We Be Winging It! 

As we crossed the Potomac River we could see the Capital and the Washington Monument off in the distance. I got huge GOOSEBUMPS! For me, it was seeing the Cinderella’s castle at Disney World! This stop on our summer tour was definitely one of our Big Ticket Bucket List items! We were so excited to hit the ground seeing all we could!

We are blessed to know some folks that actually live in D.C. and we were given WONDERFUL advice and recommendations on what to do and see while we were in the area. One recommendation we really tried to abide by was not driving into the city. We were excited to find that there was a commuter train station just 2 miles down the road from Fort Meade which we could also bring our bikes aboard on weekends. Score another big one for Team Winging It!

Up early, bicycles in our truck, map of Washington D.C. and the train schedule handy, off we went on our first of many missions to see as much as we could systematically checking off our list of MUST do and see! We exited out of Union Station downtown D.C. and the view was breathtaking! The sun was glimmering off the Capital. I no longer had goosebumps, but GOOSEMOUNTAINS!

Using bicycles to navigate the city was a breeze! We were able to cover so much territory in a short time. I could have taken a million photos. Here we were among monuments that we read about in history classes and saw on television each night on the news. I was pinching myself!

We rode our bikes over the Potomac to Arlington Cemetery. Tears were hard to keep at bay as we walked the entire cemetery approximately 2 miles around the rolling hills.. We saw all of the major stops, Kennedy’s resting place, changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and Arlington House which were so impressive. The thing that stuck with us the most were the acres of White Tomb stones as far as we could see! Over 400,000 Americans and their family members make this their final resting place. From the Revolutionary War until today. 25-30 burials can take place a day! The cost of our freedom is visualized here! I wish every citizen who lives in our country would take a walk through this resting place. The lines of stones covering this 623 acre sacred place makes me reflect on what so many take for granted. I don’t think a person can enter and not leave the cemetery unchanged

Our first of many trips into D.C. under our belt. We got back on the train back “home” exhausted! We were so very thankful we had booked a month stay! Our age was apparent. Our feet were soreand our minds full as we reflected on what we saw and learned. We were excited to take a day of rest and then off we go AGAIN!

The next time we ventured into the city my feet were better prepared We spent the day touring the Capital, Library of Congress and just walking all over the Hill. It was a weekday so the city was not only filled with tourist like ourselves, but Congress was in session so it was a busy bustling area!

We took the guided tour of the Capital and learned so much. We highly recommend it if you get a chance to visit. All that we saw was bigger than life to us! Now when we watch the nightly news interviewing Congress members we know that we too were in that room!

Much to our disappointment we were unable to tour the inside of the White House. In fact, the day we were trying to get close they had the roads cordoned off. Sirens were blaring in the distance we could see a motorcade of black Suburbans pulling up to the White House. We asked a reporter and camera man near by if there was something happening? We were told that they were not aware of anything…. “maybe the President was coming home from playing golf?!” This photo illustrates how far we were all kept away! At least I can saw we were there! Through the “magic” of cropping and zooming WA-La the White House!

We took a ride to Mount Vernon and were not disappointed! The grounds of the plantation and buildings are amazing. I can see why President Washington called this beautiful place on the Potomac home. As we walked through the home I couldn’t help but think of who the President and Martha entertained.. Jefferson, Franklin… the list goes on and on. We also learned that Washington died from a throat infection. Today, we treat an infection with antibiotics and considered not a big deal. Poor Washington didn’t have access to the medications we do. Instead he was “bled” a few times to try to get the infection out of his blood stream. Yikes… a clear case that the “cure” probably was a contributing factor to his demise. It’s hard to believe that he fought in the wars to set us free and a throaty infection took his life.

He died in the bed he shared with Martha. In her grief she left that room and would have the room secured, never for her to sleep in her marriage bed again. After the death of her beloved husband she gave his slaves their freedom per his wishes in his will.  She died two  and a half years after the love of her life. She grieved for the entire time after his death. They are joined in death buried on the property.

I grew up hearing that President Washington had wooden dentures. Prior to becoming a Professional Nomad I was a Registered Dental Hygienist aka Smile Maker 😊. I looked forward to seeing these “wooden” dentures. Much to my surprise the President’s “chompers” were NOT made of wood! They were made of ivory, human and ANIMAL teeth with a base made basically of a “concrete” with a spring hinge connecting the top to the bottom arch. HOLY COW MOLARS….I have no idea how he wore them comfortably let alone eat with them!Next to these dentures was a display of dental scalersWe have come a long LOONNGGgg way in dentistry since his day! Thank goodness! 

Before going to D.C. I had no idea that there are nineteen Smithsonian museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park.  Seventeen of these museums are located in Washington D.C., with eleven of those located on the National Mall. There are two in New York City and one near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. HOLY COW… where do we begin? We thought having a month in the area would would be  plenty of time to see it all. After the very first museum we knew that was going to be an impossible task for us to complete. We decided to narrow our scope down. We wanted to take our time exploring and learning. We were given a list of must places to see by friends and family who have been to D.C. It was easy to spend anywhere between 3-4 hours touring and learning. We compiled a list of those museums we HAD to see on this trip. We ended up spending time at only seven! Our feet were sore from walking and standing, our brains full of new found knowledge and sights we took in, and we knew right away we will make a return visit to see the museums we didn’t see! So many photos were taken….here are a few highlights Orchid in The Botanical GardenNational ZooThe  Hope DiamondDiscovery Space Shuttle

On top of going to the Smithsonian museums we were privileged to get a personal tour of the Pentagon from a friend of ours that works in the Pentagon. What an AMAZING place!! It is a museum inside along with a work place for many Americans both Military and Civilian. A person could actually take hours if not days to taken it all in!

Below are some of the facts about this amazing buildingThe original plan for the building allowed for four floors, but a fifth floor has been added. As we went around the rings of the inside, the corridors are filled with artifacts from all branches of service, there is a corridor dedicated to Humanitarian services, NATO and POW/MIA. The area that brought tears to my eyes was the Chapel  and 9-11 Memorial. 

On September 11, 2001 at 9:37 in the morning American Airlines flight number 77 deliberately crashed into the Pentagon killing everyone aboard the plane and 125 people in the building. As we walked through the corridors of this amazing building there are no windows in the center rings. I noticed that there are arrows in a row lining each side of the wall that are close to the floor directing towards an exit. I also noticed that although there were escalators and stairways through the building there were also LARGE ramps. I asked our friend who was showing us the building about what I was observing. He solemnly stated that the arrows are close to the ground to remind people to stay low when exiting in case of an emergency and the corridors were filling with smoke, the ramps help move people faster than stairs. According to Wikipedia there are 23,000 military and 3,000 Civilian employees in the Pentagon. After being within the confines of this beautiful structure it amazes me that there were not more loss of life when the plane came through those walls. How they all got out of the building especially on the side that was hit is truly amazing! With windows only on the outside ring it is easy to see how a person can lose your sense of direction and truly have no idea what hit them! 

Reagan National airport located in Arlington has planes taking off and landing every few minutes. While we were outside we saw planes making their descent approaching the flight line in order to land. We were astounded to see how close they appear to come to the monuments and buildings. On that fateful September 11, 2001 planes were doing just that.. taking off and landing. It would appear as a normal day planes flying close, but as we now know America Airlines Flight 77 was not heading to the flight line.

Inside the Pentagon they have a beautiful chapel that is dedicated to those Americans that we lost. It is a beautiful and somber area. Panels on the left and right represent the medals awarded to the military and civilian casualties. The panels on the back wall have all the names etched into stone ALL of the names of the victims. A large book contains pictures and biography of each person who lost there lives from the youngest victim, 3 year old Dana Falkenberg to the oldest, John D. Yamnicky, who was 71 years of age.

Outside of the Pentagon on the side that was hit there is a beautiful memorial as well.there are 184 Memorial units located on an age line of the victims birth year denoted by stainless steel strips that cross the grounds of the memorial. Above these stainless steel markers etched in Limestone reads “September 11, 2001 9:37 a.m.” The direction of each marker is symbolic in that those pointing towards the Pentagon are for those who perished on American flight 77 hitting the building and the monuments facing away were those who lost their lives in the building. All of these precious lives became intertwined in eternity,

As we stood in the Memorial looking at the building itself,  we could see the repaired area as it is slightly different in color… a scar if you will. Nearly 20 percent of the Pentagon structure was affected by the attack, offices in the undamaged portions were kept open and the business of our nation’s defense went on. In fact, in less than a month after the attack, some employees were able to move back into their office near the crash site. Amazing!

Not far from the Pentagon is the Air Force Memorial The United States Air Force Memorial honors the service and sacrifices of the men and women of the United States Air Force. Located on a hill in Arlington, Virginia, overlooking the Pentagon and adjacent to Arlington Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial is easily seen on the skyline of Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in Arlington county.  My Handsome Chauffeur served in the Air Force and took part in many fundraising campaigns for this memorial. It was wonderful to see it in person. The Memorial’s formal dedication was in 2006 eleven years after he retired. 

As we stood within the memorial we heard sirens coming our way. There was a bus being escorted to the Memorial. As it approached and the passengers disembarked we found out the they were a group of folks touring D.C. as part of the Honor Flight. Another goosebump moment for me!

An Honor Flight is conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veterans. Currently these organizations are focused on bringing veterans of World War II to the National World War II Memorial, and any veteran with a terminal illness to see the memorial of the war they fought in. Organizers plan to “naturally transition” their programs to focus on veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and subsequent wars as the veterans of those wars get older.

It was an honor to personally thank these heroes for their service and to thank those who were escorts of these wonderful folks. There are many ways we can serve those who served our great Nation. Here we saw service in the actions, be it assisting those in wheel chairs or just an arm to lean on to get up close and personal to the monuments. To me this was love and respect in action and I am so thankful I got to witness the gift!

As our time came to a close in Maryland we headed to Annapolis. We had visited this beautiful city a few years back with good friends. We love the seaside. We had spent most of the month visiting and touring in cities. It was so nice to be back on a coast, breathing in the salty air while taking in the beauty of the harbor we were familiar withWe thoroughly enjoyed our visit to D.C. and plan to return again as we only scratched the surface of all the Smithsonian Museums seeing only 7.  Our day trip to Annapolis got us excited about our next stop along our tour this summer. 

Big wheels start turning .. next stop the coast of Massachusetts! Oh the places, things and people we will meet! 

Northward Bound

As we said goodbye to Fort Stewart, GA. it felt as we were being given a 21 gun salute! Maybe not a “personal” 21 gun salute… probably just practice on the firing range as indicated by the red flag flying and the rapid succession of artillary being shot ringing in the air.

Next stop Charleston, S.C.We were super excited to go back to Charleston. It had been at least five years since we last visited the area and our good friends who have the privilege of calling the area home.

Our GPS cooperated and got us to our new “home” at Joint Bases Charleston. As we approached the gate to enter the base we were told that we would have to drive through the LARGEST X-ray screener I have ever seen!As a general rule we stay on Military bases. All of these facilities have different rules regarding which gate we are to enter with the Mobile Condo. In the 4 years we have been Nomads we have only once had a member of security forces come aboard when coming onto a base. This drive through X-ray unit was a first as well! 

We spent our time in Charleston visiting our friends …laughing and relaxing around the fire and golfing at a spectacular course on the Atlantic coast The time went by too quickly..as it always does when we are amongst GREAT friends! We were rested and ready for our next leg of the journey up the coast…. Virginia Beach, VA.

We have been advised by plenty of folks that as we travel up the coast the further north we would go the roads would become more congested with traffic, narrow roadways, low bridges and TOLLS! I have to say I was getting a wee bit nervous.

The travel was going well, but then Lola ( our GPS) indicated that there was an accident up ahead on our selected route and we should consider taking the optional route she had in mind to avoid the accident.   After our last experience with Lola we should have been skeptical of her advice, but as the traffic started crawling (with millions of red tail lights positioned ahead of us ….which looked like miles) we took her advice…. NOT a GOOD idea!

Indeed, it was a different route! This route she took us down literally took us down two lane roads with NO shoulders, narrow bridges under construction low hanging wires, neighborhoods with signs the stated Needless to say we were in a pickle! Too late to turn around! We talked our way around what that sign “really” meant. We rationalized that we in fact were not a “truck” WE were a Mobile Condo and if we were stopped we would easily explain this to the officer regardless that we perhaps were over the weight limit for the roadway! 

My Handsome Chauffeur white knuckling the steering wheel;all the while keeping us on the road and not in a ditch was NOT a happy camper. As we rounded a corner in a neighborhood we came upon a gentleman on a riding mower, mindlessly doing his weekly chore. He stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes bugging out and mouth agape….. I swear I read his lips say the words that go with the initials WTH!!! I didn’t know if I needed to laugh or cry! I gave a friendly wave as we exited his line of sight praying he didn’t call the police to report a Circus Train driving through his sleepy hollow neighborhood.

Lola still squawking out directions, my frazzled Handsome Chauffeur asked me how much further did it say to our destination! He had just about enough of navigating down roads with names and was clearly DONE driving!

Low and behold we arrived safely and without police escort to our next home for two weeks Virginia Beach, VA! Whew!!AHHHHH everything is better on a beach! This would be our back yard for fourteen glorious days! The blood was back into my Handsome Chauffeur’s fingers and a huge smile plastered on both of our faces! The CrAzY drive now just a memory … life was good!

Neither of us had ever been to Virginia. We were looking forward to exploring. First stop the Virginia Aquarium. A fascinating place. The entire time we were there we wished our grandson was with us. We watched little ones with their eyes wide in wonderment! The experience was not only beautiful with all species of fish, but also very educational. It was confirmed by the information regarding oysters why I don’t eat them! Eating them whole as they are served include eating their anus!! YUCKO!We took in a 3D movie about the Galápagos Islands. I found it fascinating!I was so involved with the beauty of 3D I barely heard the snoring of my partner. Until he let out a snore so loud it attracted others attention! Busted!

As a kid, I  have to admit I didn’t enjoy history. I got through the classes by the grace of God. It just did not interest me. I wish I had paid closer attention then, but as we all know a person is never to old to learn. Our day trip to Williamsburg, VA. and the American Revolutionary War Museum of Yorktown ignighted a spark in myself and my Handsome Chauffeur. I was like a kid in a candy store. We spent hours in the museum reading, watching videos about our history. THEN ……being able to walk the cobblestone streets through areas so steeped in history I have to admit gave me goosebumps. My Handsome Chauffeur enjoyed talking with the “locals”and learning about one of our favorite pass times. As a child my father taught me how to play Cribbage. Even today when we get together a friendly game of Cribbage will take place at sometime. It made me smile to see a Cribbage board from 1768 displayed in the museum!On our way back to Virginia Beach we could see off in the distance the ships at Norfolk Naval Station. We wanted to see if we could get closer to them… and boy did we!These pictures certainly don’t do justice to actually how HUGE these ships are AND heavily guarded! My Handsome Chauffeur is a curious soul. He hopped out of the truck and wanted to get closer to find out more about the ships. He was “greeted” by the guards on ground that told him that the Carrier we were looking at was the USS Abraham Lincoln.As my Handsome Chauffeur was “visiting” with the guards on the ground I was sitting in our little red chariot watching the ARMED guards on the ship looking down watching him! Security was HIGH!

The “Abe” was recently put back into service in May 2017 after completing mid-life refueling and complex over haul which had taken 4 years to get done. It had finished it’s comprehensive tests and Sea trials. It is now ready for another 25 years of service and ready to support the mission it is called to.

Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time to throughly see and do all the things we have in mind when sight seeing. The beauty of our lifestyle is we can and WILL be back to this area Virginia again! We made new friends and again met up with friends we have made along our journey. 

Our visit to Virginia was a stepping stone on our way up the coast. Our next stop is Maryland! We are chasing the cooler temperatures all the while looking so forward to learning more and more about our great Nation’s history as we visit Washington DC and surrounding cities! 

Wheels down here we go Northward bound!

Trust…. but VERIFY

Trust but verify is a translation of a Russian proverb. This became a signature phrase President Ronald Reagan used while dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev when discussing United States relation with Soviet Union during the INF Treaty that was signed in 1987. Then the SALT II Treaty  which happened to affect us personally as my Handsome Chauffeur served in the USAF during this time as a part of the Minuteman Missle Squadron which was going to be deactivated. President Reagan’s signature phrase was adopted by my Handsome Chauffeur and used often when raising our kids, checking prices on deals and now with our GPS!

 I personally have absolutely no sense of direction. I take that back… I can determine direction IF the sun is out, but if it is noon I am up the proverbial creek without a paddle. I was a Girl Scout back in the olden days and can honestly say that I earned several badges on my sash but the ORIENTEERING badgewas never present on my sash! Try as I might I tried to read maps. I will say since we have become Nomads I have gotten a wee bit better, but I don’t trust myself AND my Handsome Chauffeur certainly lacks confidence in my orienteering abilities. He can look at a map and have the route engraved into his brain. As I find myself mainly a passenger/copilot while we move our Circus Train across this beautiful nation I get the “privilege” of  having our HUGE atlas at the ready when my driver wants to see where we are. I feel much better using the twenty first century technology… Google Maps. I enjoy her beautiful, although annoying, voice telling us in plenty of time when to exit, turn or if there is s traffic snag coming up. My Handsome Chauffeur doesn’t trust her! To say he has a love hate relationship with her is stating it mildly! 

As we left the state of Florida heading to our new homes in Georgia our journey was going to be a short journey of ONLY 51 miles…. a drop in a bucket! My Handsome Chauffeur had looked at the atlas and charted our course. Phew, this was going to be an EASY travel day! While we were traveling I was asked to put the address of the campground into my trusty google maps. I follow directions well so I put the address that we were given by our Camp host we called that morning to confirm our reservation. 

The day was beautiful. Soon our friend Lola (our pet name for our google map voice) directed us off the Interstate. As we proceeded to make our turns per her instructions my Handsome Chauffeur said ” This doesn’t look right” as we were winding through a residential area with low hanging trees brushing against our roof and three air conditioners! Low and behold we DO come up to a gate to enter the Naval Base we are going to make home. Lola gleefully announced that we have arrived at our destination! What she DIDN’T  tell us was that the gate was blocked off with HUGE orange barricades stating the gate was closed!! Rutro …Houston we have a B I G problem. We were stuck in a neighborhood dead end. I placed a semi-frantic call to the Camp Host stating our problem! I was told ” your silly GPS took you to a gate that has been closed for 10 years.” How was Lola to know that?? She used the address YOU gave us. We were told to turn around and enter a different gate which she gladly gave me the directions.  

Turning around a 42 foot Mobile Condo with a full size four wheel drive truck hooked up to it in a dead end residential neighborhood IS NOT an easy feat! With fume coming out of our ears we jump out of the RV to disconnect our truck from the Mobile Condo. Gladly, we are pros at this and are able to get the task done relatively quick. As I am assisting my frustrated Chauffeur… handing him the things he needs like an assistant to a heart surgeon, all the while directing traffic around us waving people around our 60 foot road block…. we were disconnected! I relocated  the truck out of the way.  Then, with the precision of an Aircraft Marshall (sans the orange light flares) I guide my Handsome Chauffeur into a 3 point turn to head out of the neighborhood. 

As I hop into the truck’s driver seat I lead the way as I received verbal directions from our host. She assured me that we cannot miss the gate we are to enter as it has a submarine at it. Sure enough we find it… too bad Lola didn’t in the first place!Home Sweet Home Kingsbay NS, GA! Our 1 hour travel turned into a “Three Hour Tour”, but unlike those on Gilligans Island we were home… not stranded!

Kingsbay Submarine Base is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s home port for U.S. Navy Fleet ballistic missile nuclear submarines armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons. 

Kingsbay Naval Base borders St Mary’s, GA. A quaint town which is the gateway to the Cumberland Island National Seashore the largest of Georgia Coast’s Barrier Islands. There is so much history to soak up in the town. While we were there we were able to see replicas of The Nina and Pinta that were part of Christopher Columbus’ fleet while they were docked on the shore of the beautiful seaside park.We also enjoyed touring the local submarine museum.The museum was full of all different artifacts from several submarines. The curator was a friendly fellow who helped us find some things that were on a few Submarines that my Uncle actually served on.This is the battle flag Bream from World War IIThis is a picture I took of the Bream’s Battle Flag. Each square denotes the following: The swastika was for what the skipper thought was a small German tanker. Turned out to be a small Japanese tender. The life ring is for picking up a pilot. The crossed oars over a 5 is for a patrol where they put some Aussie rangers ashore. The mine is for a patrol laying mines, of course. The 6 red bars indicate she made six patrols (5 were classified successful). The big red moon was used because the commissioning skipper was Wreford “Moon” Chapple and the crew thought very highly of him. The albatross was for good luck.  So much history under on roof!

As we settled in and enjoyed the smell of the tall Georgia Pines we found that a few of our neighbors from our Florida stay were our neighbors here too!It was great to see familiar smiles. The weather was perfect for more exploring on Amelia Island. An amazing coastal isle setting to stroll along the beach or grab a bite to eat downtown.

Golfing we met up with our alligator friend as wellNeedless to say we did NOT go searching for the ball we hit into the water while she was sunning herself😜

Soon we had to say so long to Kingsbay, GA and headed further north to Savannah, GA area to see some of our dear friends. We have visited the area a couple of times over the years, but it had been at least twenty years since we did the tourist thing downtown Savannah.

The Old Southern charm is evident every where you look. Armed with a map of the city from the Chamber of Commerce we strolled along the streets lined with Live Oak trees covered in hanging mossWe spent time in Chippewa Square remembering  the Forest Gump movie. Although the bench is no longer there that he sat on we did find others to rest our feet Again my map reading skills were put to task as we walked searching for of all places, Juliette Low’s home who happens to be the founder of the Girl Scouts in which I never earned my Orienteering badge. As my Handsome Chauffeur looked on grinning and snickering as I kept turning the map around trying to figure out where I was. I was about to consult my friend”Lola” when  there off to my left across the street was Ms. Low’s abodeNow with my bearings somewhat straight, we headed towards River Street to enjoy a perfect Southern lunch with all the trimmings. YUMMO!

We actually called Fort Stewart Famcamp home base while visiting our friends who live in suburbs dotting all around Savannah proper. The campground was nestled in the woods. So serene and restful. Birds singing, squirrels scurrying and tank cannons firing!  Yep, we were staying at an active training Army Base so the sounds of rifles firing and tank cannons blasting were part of our new neighborhood sounds! Boy, it sure got your attention QUICK too!!

While driving around our new area we not only saw the normal deer crossing signs but these as wellOne evening as we were making our way back to the Mobile Condo through the pitch Black Forest …. Lola guiding our way… our eyes watching closely for any wild Boars or Deer to cross our path … Lola encourages us to turn left !!  As good listeners and not fully aware of where we were, we obeyed her command. Suddenly,  we found ourselves no longer on the asphalt highway,  but a packed sand TANK PATH! My   Chauffeur quickly determined that AGAIN Lola had taking us somewhere that we were NOT suppose to be! Thankfully we did not come face to face with Tanks traveling the path cannons at the ready! My calm, perturbed Chauffeur immediately got us back on the highway and safely to our home.

By the light of day we can see that Lola indeed was taking us to our home as we requested per the shortest distance. How was she to know that we were not to travel on roads for US Army tanks?!

Next stop was Atlanta to visit our dear friend who received the gift of life 6 weeks ago. As many people have told us, Atlanta is NOT the easiest to travel around. Just as any big city it is filled with traffic constantly. Add the fact that there is major construction going on and roads completely closed due to bridges collapsing. To say we were apprehensive about enlisting our “friend” Lola to guide us into downtown Atlanta was an understatement!We hit the road with verbal instructions from our friend who told us the best route to the hospital. Because my Handsome Chauffeur drives the Mobile Condo about everywhere when we use our truck I get to be his Lovely Chauffeur. I was not the least bit worried about the drive as I knew my navigator is proficient in map reading. As we got closer to the downtown hospital my navigator decided to enlist Lola to help as the map was not in great detail of where we needed to be. Lola did a fine job bringing us deep down into the enormous hospital construction zone! Yikes!!! Navigating a four wheel drive truck in the tight construction of parking lots and garages is not for the faint of heart! After listening to Lola drone on and on we have arrived at our destination dead center in a work zone!!! My less than patient Navigator gave her the boot! Next step was texting our friend to get accurate direction on where and how we could locate his beautiful bride.

After many rounds of the parking garage BINGO trying to secure a parking spot we got to play elevator roulette looking for the correct wing and floor our dear friend was calling home. FINALLY , we found her and were able to get our hugs that we were so looking forward to. She indeed has received an AMAZING gift. Her new lungs have given her a new lease on life. There is a healing phase taking place now as she grows stronger, but her smile lights up our lives.

Our visit ended for the day and we made our way back to our Red Chariot. My Handsome Chauffeur at the helm, Lola barking out directions COMPLETELY different from when she brought us to the hospital…. TOTALLY confused this already novice navigator. I pulled out our trusted atlas to Trust BUT Verify  we were not being lead astray by our Lola! 

Yes, we have a LOVE Hate relationship with our technology, but as long as we heed President Reagan’s advice we will wander and not be lost…. at least not for long😜

It’s Not Everyday….

We left our winter nest of MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL. after spending a wonderful WARM winter. There are so many memories and friendships that we developed over the 6 months we were there. It really felt like leaving “home” again. As we said “see you next year” to our friends, promising to stay in touch on the road; we look forward to returning to our winter nest and share the adventures we all had in the season of travel.

Before we hit the road the Mobile Condo got her new “shoes”! Thank you Michelin for honoring our warranty in full and Jeb( the manager and a fellow Veteran) at TCI who went to bat for us with Michelin corporate! It only took 2 hours to have all 8 replaced and balanced. We noticed right away how the ride was much smoother! No rattling of things in our cupboards. Our radio volume was not up as high as it normally is to drown out the competing road and clanking that we had previously experienced. We were excited to get the big wheels rolling east.

As we were leaving Command Central Macdill AFB we skirted the flight line one last time. On the run way was one of the Presidential Plane surrounded by security. It’s not everyday we see the President’s plane…but… this also wasn’t the first time a  President was at Command Central while we called it home. President Obama was there in October on his farewell tour to the troops, President Trump came shortly after being elected to be briefed and encourage the troops, and President George W. Bush came to promote his new book. Each of these visits were announced to the public and covered by news agencies. What made us raise an eyebrow when we saw this plane was that there wasn’t ANY publicity and it was 3 days after the USA bombed Syria. Not knowing for certain that the plane had the President on it…we were certain someone in his cabinet was there. We often wondered what was happening behind the closed doors of Com Central as we would bicycle past on our rides during our stay, but today as we drove our home off this base we said an extra prayer for wisdom to those that are protecting our nation and keeping world peace.

The ride to our next spot was without any challenges. A short 4 hour trip. We arrived at Mayport NS … home for only 4 nights. We tried relentlessly to secure more than 4 nights. Once we arrived we realized WHY it is so popular. As we settled in, our view of the St. John’s river out our front window was BEAUTIFUL.We were at the mouth of the St John’s river right before it opens to the Atlantic Ocean. My Handsome Chauffeur was in heaven as it has been a long time since he was able to fish out his front doorPods of Dolphins were keeping him company while trying to out fish him! Alas, he was unable to catch a Big Blue Fish that were swimming in the area, but he got a hit that left teeth marks in his prized lure! 

Right out of our “picture window” (also known as our windshield) we saw that the St John’s river was a major through fare for many ships of all shaped and sizeIt certainly isn’t every day we get to see this! The sight gave me goose bumps.. especially seeing the brave sailors leaving. The price of freedom we take for granted as they leave their families behind to protect us!

We had the privilege to get some visitors while we had our short stay at Mayport. Our friends/neighbors we met at MacDill stopped by to say hello as they were staying relatively close by at another campground. It was so nice to see familiar smiles! 

That very same day we received a visit from a dear friend of ours that we met while stationed at Whiteman AFB, MO 36 years ago. It had been at least 25 years since we were able to visit in person. All those years seemed to melt away as we caught up with each other’s lives. We giggled and shed many a tear as we shared the paths we each have been down since our last visit. Time may have gone on, but our time together was just like old times! It’s not everyday we get to see old  friends!One thing I “get” to do everyday in the Mobile Condo is LAUNDRY🙃. Our home on wheels is outfitted with its very own washer/dryer combo Yep, that’s right … it washes and dries all in one! I was really impressed when we got our new home. Little did I know at the time a “large load” can only consist on 2 bath towels and a few wash cloths etc…. Gone are the days of the heavy duty washer loads of 4 pair of jeans and 8 shirts per load! Not only does it take a fraction of the amount I use to be able to load into a machine, it takes about 90 minutes to do a load…hence that is why I have to do laundry if not once a day at least every other just to keep the mound of clothes smaller than the size of Mount Ranier! 

At our Seaside new location, not only do they have one of the cleanest laundry rooms, BUT  all are F R E E of charge!!! Woo Hoo the Domestic Goddess within me was doing a BIG ‘OLE HAPPY DANCE!! I laid claim to a few HEAVY DUTY ( aka DEEP) washers and did 4 loads! Washed, dried and put away in the time it usually takes to do a “regular” dinky load in the Mobile Condo! Oh heavenly days…. it doesn’t get much better than this! I felt like I won the “Laundry Lotto” It’s not every day the Domestic Goddess of the Mobile Condo has an empty laundry basket! Its little things that bring me joy😊! With the chains unshackled to my laundry machine it gave me plenty of time to do more things that keep this Domestic Goddess smiling! You know what they say.. “a happy wife means a HAPPIER life”!

Our time at Mayport N.S. has come to an end. We are moving further up the coast. We took a stroll down the beach where the sand texture and shells were completely different from the Gulf of Mexico we became accustomed to seeing. The Atlantic coast is beautiful in a completely different and unique way!

As say so long to Mayport NS and waved to the U.S.S. Iwo Jima one last timeWe will remember our short and wonderful stay fondly and vowed to return again SOME day!

It Could Be Worse

It is hard to believe that we began our Nomadic life almost 4 years ago! The adage “Time flies when you’re having FUN” sure resonates in our hearts! We ARE having FUN!  We have also been blessed to share this FUN with friends we consider family who came to join in the merriment and warm not only their bones, but our hearts as well!

As stated in previous posts we were born and raised in the Midwest, raised our family there and retired from a couple of careers. When my Handsome Chauffeur and I dreamt about where we would make our “home” when we had a choice we both agreed it probably would NOT be the Midwest. Don’t get me wrong, the Midwest was a great place to grow up and raise our family. Our kids moved on first, each making their way in opposite directions of the USA. We had not seen enough of this glorious country to decide where we should make our home when we grew up! Until we “Grow Up” we will traipse across the country to see all that we can see THEN make the “Grown up” decision where “home” will be. Until said time……

We have traveled from the northwest corner to the southeast crisscrossing the Midwest several times chasing the 70-80 degree weather. Avoiding snow and freezing temperatures at all costs with, the exception of Christmas in Tennessee with our kids.

Our stays at various areas are as quick as an over night in a Walmart parking lot in route to our new destination,  to a few weeks at another location depending on what we want to see on our journey. Most of our travels are during the months of April- October as the weather to the north is most cooperative for us during these months.

This past October we made our way to the south with our new flock of friends…..Snowbirds! Yep, we are card carrying members of this wonderful group of folks and love it! Who needs to shovel snow when there are golf courses inviting us to play, bicycles to ride and cards to play? 

We moved to Tampa, Florida to avoid the cold. We will have enjoyed a 5 1/2 month stay once we hit the road in April. This is the LONGEST we have ever stayed in one place living in the Mobile Condo. It has been such a comfort zone for us in many ways. We have made  more friends who have become family. We have learned so much from each other too by sharing our experiences ….be it places to visit, apps for our phones to help our travels or just doing life together. We have a real sense of community.

The end of our stay here is upon us. Conversations have begun about where we will be traveling this next season. We learned by trial and error that because of the size of our home it is better to have a plan in place with reservations.  CrAzY  I know especially if our motto is “We Be WINGING it”, but we learned that we are NOT the only folks doing their best to see the USA in the summer, especially in the northern areas of this vast country! 

The planning can be arduous. We set a course direction and places that are on our bucket list. Next we Man the phones calling and making reservations. This may sound like an easy task, but it’s NOT. All the campgrounds have different protocols on how far in advance of your stay that you can reserve a spot, how long you can stay and different block out days around holidays. YIKES.

We put together a calendar much like my Handsome Chauffeur used in his previous corporate life to help organize our plan. Multiple colors are used to block dates out for secured reservations. We use google maps to determine how many miles we will be driving to relocate. This figure also helps us calculate how many days it will take us to get there. Sounds like a lot of work to live the dream Eh? With our calendar filled by a rainbow of colors our journey is set! 

We will be making our way north up the east coast from Florida to Maine. Stopping along they way to visit friends and see sights we have only heard about. Once we see a bit of Maine our desire is to head west to Niagra Falls and then to Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which we have visited at least 3 times, but NEVER gets old! Finally we will head south again. Some places we will stay a few days others will be as long as s month. I have been researching things to see and do. Hopefully we will entertain guests who will want to visit us in some of our temporary homesteads to enjoy the sights as well!

As we prepare to hit the road the Mobile Condo will be outfitted with new”shoes” (also known as tires). Not a small or inexpensive venture either unless my Handsome Chauffeur and his bargaining skills are at work! We were blessed to find out that our tires are covered under warranty and will not cost the going price of $650ish PER tire! We have EIGHT tires on the Mobile Condo.  They will be F R E E!!  Yippee!!! The only problem is they are on back order and HAVE been for the past MONTH!!! All the painstaking travel plans and reservations that we have secured may be put into a “Holding Pattern”. My persistent Handsome Chauffeur is manning the phones checking on when we can expect delivery. Unfortunately, he is not getting the same answers from different parties involved! Frustration levels are creeping up as we look at our rainbow colored carefully planned out trip calendar!  Everyday we wait for “the” call to say the “shoes” have arrived. It truly is out of our control and comfort zone depending on others, but it is what it is! So we WAIT!

Daily we see our Snow Bird friends leave our winter nest here in Tampa. We are one of the few left waiting to fly north. As we wait for the “shoes” we will enjoy a few more days fishing, golfing, going to festivalsand enjoying ourselves. It could  be a lot worse right?! 😜😊🏝☀️🌈

‘Tis the season????

There are so many “seasons”. There are seasons of life, seasons of change, season of the year and finally holiday seasons. How does one tell which season they are in or coming upon? For me I can look in the mirror to see what season of life I am, but living here in Florida at this time of year it is REALLY hard to know what season of the year much less which holiday season unless you go into a store or look at a calendar!

My favorite season of the year is Fall. Growing up and living in the Midwest all of our lives we experienced some the most beautiful Falls. I love all things associated with Fall…the color of the leaves, the smells of all the pumpkin concoctions as well as bonfires, and snuggling up in a comfy sweatshirt. 

We left the northern area of the USA in mid October. There was definitely a chill in the air, the leaves were changing color and the scents were also indicating it was Fall! As we traveled further south things got greener and WARMER. If we didn’t look at our calendar or go into a store and be accosted by the sights of all the delicious Halloween candy we would think it was closer to the Fourth of July! I felt cheated by missing my favorite season! 

The feeling of missing Fall was short lived as we rode our bicycles in shorts and tank tops. Sunscreen and bug spray are now the scent of our new “Fall”. I tricked myself into believing it was Fall by burning a Fall scented candles and bake goodies and watch football!  I could even wear my comfy sweatshirt at night while donning my beloved Birkenstocks.

As we got closer to Thanksgiving I grew a bit nostalgic. I remembered all the wonderful Thanksgiving gatherings we had with family and friends. This year was going to be VERY different. We opted not to go out anywhere to enjoy a feast with others in our campground. I told my Handsome Chauffer of my nostalgia and my need to prepare our dinner in the Mobile Condo as I “needed” to have the sights and smells of Thanksgiving around me to allow me to “feel” as it was truly Thanksgiving. He was glad to have our own little feast, but first we would have to go golfing. He obviously was still enjoying the lack of season change😉! So off we headed to the links….. us and only 3 other parties were golfing on this holiday. The golf course was empty!We returned from the course and the preparations began for our “feast”Mission accomplished! The Mobile Condo’s counters and table was filled with all the delicious foods that were our family’s Thanksgiving staples including Pumpkin pie! As we sat down to enjoy our meal we reminisced about our past Thanksgivings and gave thanks for all of our blessings. We agreed that although the food made the “season” it was more than that. Thanksgiving isn’t just a meal once a year it is a feeling we have adopted in our hearts daily. God gives us things to be thankful for each day…so EVERY DAY is Thanksgiving day! 

November quickly turned into December all the while the sun was shining bright keeping the temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s. A FAR cry from what Decembers are back where we called home all of our life. We watch the nightly news with the reporters telling us if the impending deep freeze and blizzard conditions. We think of all of our family and friends that have to endure the conditions. We are equally thinking about our decision to move further south this year. We still are liberally applying sun screen instead of coats and mittens.

December is a month of celebration for our family. We have a birthday a week and sometimes two. If we were not celebrating birthdays we were gathering to celebrate Christmas.

My Handsome Chauffer starts the month of celebration with his birthday. As a family we had a tradition of going out on his birthday or the weekend near it in search of the “Most Perfect” Christmas tree at our local tree farm. With our saw in hand we would begin the hunt; each of us with our eyes peeled for “The Tree”. More often than not I would spy the tree right away, but would not make the final decision until we walked the ENTIRE tree farm. After an hour of so we would ultimately return to the first spot and the sawing would begin. My Handsome Chauffer would give each of the kids the opportunity to saw as well…., then in unison we would yell timber and hope it didn’t drop on anyone. The excitement was over and now the complaining of how cold they were began. Soon we would hear the sputter of the old farm tractor and wagon to pick us up. Hopping up on the wagon heading to the barn where the potbelly stove was stoked warming up the place and hot chocolate with candy canes to stir it was the treat for all. We would tie down the tree and make the trek home for more fun aka chaos to take place!

First thing on the agenda was to put said tree in the stand. An easy task you would think, but NOT! While looking for the perfect tree without “bald” spots we often neglected to check the trunk to see if it was straight. Next,try to get the tree in the door with out using words that generally are not used to express JOY…the tree would be in! Let me say that most of the trees we harvested over the years somehow grew in girth exponentially by the time we got them home! For some reason in the field and amongst other trees they NEVER looked THAT HUGE. Finally getting it in the house we would find that not only was the trunk VERY crooked that required at the very least a shim or one to two copies of War and Peace under one of the legs of the stand hidden by the tree skirt ( I also have some of my OWN Macguyver skills😉) the tree would take up no less than 1/3 of our living room space!!! “Oh well who really needs to sit on that silly couch any way”?? We have plenty of floor space to sit on and look at our behemoth tree!!

With the tree in place my Handsome Chauffer’s “job” completed he would retire for a nap or a much needed Hot Toddy while the kids and myself would begin adorning the “Prettiest tree we have EVER had”. Soon the kids would lose interest and go watch whatever Christmas special was on TV leaving me to finish.

As the years went on we gave up the “real” tree and opted for artificial. Not just one artificial but MANY! We had all sorts of sizes through our each room in the house. Each tree had a different theme. The house looked so spectacular and festive. It would take me an entire day to do. I absolutely loved the look on family’s faces when they would get home from school and work as the saw CHRISTMAS had arrived! I am not sure if it was that the loved the festive look or were happy that they were not the ones who had to do the work😉

Over the years as we traveled I would collect ornaments for souvenirs My Handsome Chauffer would also give each of the kids an ornament to commerate something significant about their year. Over the years the memory tree was my favorite. The family would look at an ornament and would be able to tell a story about it. We shared lots of laughs and sweet memories talking around the tree. Many of these ornaments have been passed on to our kids so they can start their own memory tree.

Fast forward to 2016 in Florida. The weather is still very summer like, but there is Christmas in the air. We only have one tree which stores nicely under our bed. We proudly display in in our “living room” picture window aka windshield on our steering wheel. No shims needed. Macguyver found something in recycle bin to create a solid surface. The first year out we only had lights on it with popcorn and cranberries we strung. This year we actually have hand made ornaments that were given to us by a family member.

The pretty little tree keeps our “Fagreelay” lamp company.The Mobile Condo has the scent of Christmas thanks to Candles. The entire RV park residents each have yard decorations as well.

Soon we will jump in our Big Red Sled ( our truck) and motor north to spend our holiday with family and see what Santa brings this Good Little Boy

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. 

Calvin Coolidge

We pray that all can experience the PEACE that surpasses all understanding daily…not just ”Tis the Season but ALWAYS💗