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Showing posts from April, 2011

Last Day in South Carolina

The week is almost a wrap... just about in the can... a done deal. Time has simply evaporated as we worked on projects, planned, executed, and watched Tim whip-up scrumptious dinners, sipped wine (and lugged more than a few empty wine bottles to the recyclers), talked, laughed, watched movies, and just hung out. Tomorrow morning, Sunday, we'll be back on the road again... taking a longer and more "exploratory" route back to Wisconsin.. hoping to see a few things along the way.

Our projects this week boiled down to theme days. Monday was plumbing day -- Tim and I replaced two problematic toilets. Tuesday was yard, garden, and gutter cleaning day. Wednesday we prep'd a number of old computers for a trip to the electronic recyclers and nursed sore muscles. Thursday was tree removal day -- a maple tree that had gotten way too big for it's spot in the planting bed in front of the house. Friday was small engine repair day, and we motor-toured around the area (all four …

Near York, SC

We arrived at the home of our friends, Tim and Chris, on Sunday afternoon. During the first portion of our drive, between Lexington and Knoxville, we drove through heavy thunderstorms with water piling-up on the road faster than it could run off... making for a slow and tense, but interesting drive through a very scenic mountainous area . This is the same general rain system that's caused so much grief from Arkansas, Missouri, and up the Ohio River valley during the past week. But from Knoxville on the weather was more typical of this part of the country in Spring... warm and sunny.

The purpose of our trip was to spend some time with friends. It's been almost two years since we were here with the bus-house in May of 2009. We really enjoy hanging out with these two, helping with various projects, and partaking in the output of Tim's culinary skills. Hunger certainly isn't something we experience during these visits.

We'll be here for a few more days before trekking …

Lexington Layover

We're uncharacteristically motel-ing it in Lexington Kentucky tonight... after an agreeable 600 mile drive from Wisconsin. We left Beaver Dam this morning about 7:30am and arrived here in Lex. (after loosing an hour to the Eastern Time Zone) about 7:00pm. As I wrote earlier, we're on our way down to see our friends Tim and Chris in South Carolina for a few days... sans the bus-house.

The toughest part of the trip so far was the preparation and packing. I'm out of practice... having the luxury of always having the bus-house and all my clothes and stuff close by... and thus never a reason to have to pack a bag.  Travel by RV is great in this regard... not to mention avoiding the cost of lodging.

With only 400 miles to go tomorrow, we may enjoy a more leisurely breakfast before hitting the road again.

Time for a Road Trip

With the situation here in Wisconsin under control, Dar and I are planning a road trip for a couple weeks. We're going to drive the car (the toad) to South Carolina to visit some dear friends for a week, and then explore some new areas during a more leisurely return. The "mother-ship" bus-house will stay behind in dry dock here in Wisconsin during our absence.

In an effort to balance the scales after almost a week of crummy weather, nature provided a great sunny Spring day yesterday. The recent collection of solid white precipitation is gone for the most part and the grasses are re-asserting a predominant green-ish hue over the countryside.

Dar's brother and sister-in-law Dennis and Laura stopped by to say hi last night. During their visit we spotted a herd of 13 or 14 deer who entertained us for a good quarter-hour as they slowly grazed their way around the farm house and toward a woodlot on the other end of the property. It's been some time since we've seen…

April Showers?

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Not exactly the image one gets when thinking about almost-late April in the upper Midwest. I mean... shouldn't the grass be green and growing?... shouldn't spring flowers be popping?

We woke to about 3 inches of slushy wet snow this morning, most of which fell yesterday. During the past few days the temps have hovered in the low 30's with an occasional bump a bit higher during the day.

And I'm enjoying the whole experience... knowing that warmth and green grass and spring flowers are only a few days off.

A Sense of Adventure

As I write this morning, 40f degree air is being driven by 30+mph east winds against the side of the bus-house... rockin' and rollin' us around a bit this morning. At the moment, there's no rain, but that's supposed to change later today and for much of the weekend. We're certainly getting a taste of the unusually wet and late Spring of 2011. And you know what?... I'm really OK with it all.

We started our Sabbatical project almost four years ago because we were tired (maybe "bored" is a better word) with the comfortable life we had in the suburbs west of Chicago. We wanted to feel life. We wanted adventure. We wanted to explore all corners of this grand country and experience the good and the bad, the ups and downs... the reality of life that somewhere, everywhere, people are living and thriving in... to be engaged in the process of life while we still had some life of our own to live.

We're not unique in this regard. Many fulltimers are seeking t…

Home Base Wisconsin

800 miles in two days. For us, the perennially pokey sabbatical fulltimers, this is a record. To break it down a little more, Tuesday we did Little Rock to Effingham, IL... 456 miles and a team high for one day of travel. Wednesday we drove the famous Effingham to Beaver Dam, WI leg... 357 miles. And yes, we arrived at our home base in Wisconsin about mid-afternoon... just in time for the weather to revert back to near-Winter for a few days.

A few observations from the past two days:

Interstate Highways. They have their place and they can get you from point A to point B quicker than any other land-based means of transportation system I know of. BUT, and it's a big butt, they're congested with truck traffic... all of which is moving faster than we and the bus-house prefer to travel... which is to say in the 60 to 65 mph range. It's NOT a relaxing way to travel. Com'on... what's the rush?  Oh... and can we talk about the condition of these super-slabs??? We all know l…

Winter Won't Go

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Last Tuesday, when we arrived at Maumelle, our original plan was to leave and continue northward on Monday, today. But an approaching weather system which was supposed to pass through the Little Rock area yesterday (one of the reasons we were pausing for 6 days) slowed by a day, so we decided to sit tight and will now head out on Tuesday. It looks like we'll have a two day window of reasonably nice moving weather so we're going to do all 800 miles during those two days... much faster than our normal pokey pace of travel.

Once in Wisconsin it looks like we'll be lucky enough to experience the tail-end of a tough Wisconsin Winter and cold Wisconsin Spring. Here's the forecast from NOAA for the tail end of this week...


By my count there are no less than 3 mentions of "snow" in those few days. Well... welcome home Winter Texans! Glad we didn't stow the electric heater during the string of 80+ degree days we've had lately.

As I write this, about 8am on Mon…

Hot Spring Day in Hot Springs

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About 50 miles southwest from our camp at Maumelle COE, is Hot Springs, AR. This city of 40,000 people is nestled among the hills (mountains?) of Central Arkansas and is perhaps best known as the host city of  Hot Springs National Park. Yesterday, Friday, we drove down that way to check it out during a very hot (high 80's) spring day.

There are 58 places designated as National Parks in the United States. Of these, about a dozen are not accessible by road, or are on islands that we can't drive to from the continental USA. By my count, that leaves 46 that we can visit by RV during our sabbatical. Of these, after having visited Hot Springs National Park yesterday, we've been to 19... with 27 yet to go.

Hot Springs National Park is the smallest in the NPS system. Established first as a "Reservation" way back in 1832, it was promoted to full National Park status in 1921. The focus of the Park is the natural hot water springs that flow from the sides of Hot Springs M…

Pondering Pooches

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Warning: this post is about RVers and dogs. If you're prone to light-headedness, fainting, or fits of rage whenever someone says anything negative about dogs or dog owners -- even in jest -- please DO NOT read this blog post.

According to a recent Escapees Club survey, almost half of it's members travel with pets. Personally, I think the percentage is much higher. Based on observations alone, I'd say a strong majority of RVers have pets and almost all of those pets are dogs. I've never completely understood this. Sure, many people like having a dog around when you have kids, especially teenagers, as the dog continues to provide love and companionship long after the kids don't want anything to do with you. I can understand that.

But once the kids are off on their own, you're feeling freedom like never before, and you're now living in less than 300 square feet, what's the point of having a dog?

One afternoon recently, I pondered this situation... pondered…

Maumelle

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We're camped at Maumelle Park COE on the west side of the Little Rock AR metro area. It's one of the nicest Corps of Engineers campgrounds we've stumbled into during our sabbatical. We were here for 8 days back in November of 2008 and said then that this is our kind of camping... and that whenever we're through the Little Rock area we'd try to make a stop here for a few days.

We left the Longview area Tuesday morning, pointed the nose of the bus-house eastward on I-20 to Marshall where we hooked onto US-59 north to Texarkana. There we picked up I-30 which we took to Little Rock. As we head back to Wisconsin this Spring we're using Interstate Highways more than we'd usually prefer for time and fuel savings. But after a couple hours on I-30 where the super-slab was jam packed with semi-trucks the whole way... well, I was longing for those long un-congested 2 lane roads that weave through the western states and the relaxed driving experience that comes with th…

Longview TX

Yesterday, Sunday, we headed north out of La Grange about 9am and rode an all-too-rare tailwind pretty much all the way to the Longview area... a distance just shy of 260 miles. We're parked at Fernbrook RV Park just south of I-20 and decided to spend two nights here to give the weather a chance to clear a little. The predicted morning a line of thunderstorms showed up right on time and produced some heavy downpours followed by a drop in temps from the mid 70s to the mid 50s... and strong gusty winds the rest of the afternoon. We simply hunkered down and let it pass; a perfect day for getting some long delayed inside work done.

Tuesday looks like a good travel day so we'll bite-off the next chunk of the journey and try to get to the Little Rock area... and one of our favorite Corps of Engineers campgrounds. Current plans have us holding up there for a few days.

Along the way tomorrow I'll be looking for a few gallons of diesel fuel. The last diesel we purchased was on our …

Northward to Kolache-land

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After a bunch of "good-byes" and a couple long blasts from the air horns, we're departed from Sandollar RV Park yesterday, Saturday, morning about 10am. Our chosen route was through Victoria and then northward on US-77.

We've found that the first day out after a long stay is best kept to an easy one. After calcifying in one spot for weeks or months everything is out of the traveling groove... certainly me... Dar too... and then there's the bus-house with all it's systems running in travel mode... and finally the little toad, now relegated to being tugged behind the camper in a cloud of dust. If we keep that first day short and ease into travel mode gradually, subsequent days seem more enjoyable.

In that vein, we dropped anchor in La Grange (yes, Texas... we'll still be in Texas for a few days... it is a huge State) at Colorado Landing RV Park. We had originally thought we'd just overnight at the local Walmart, but found it was a very small store with …

Ready to Roll

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Hey, it's April 1st. And if I were in a more whimsical mood I'd write about how we've decided to sell the bus-house and move to a sailboat we've just acquired with the intention of sailing around the world during the next few years... or that we just can't handle this lifestyle any longer and we're moving back to the suburbs of Chicago so we can get jobs with large Fortune 500 corporations and get back on the rat race treadmill again. But alas, I can't access the area of my brain where cuteness and whimsy reside, and you'll have to move along to other blogs for your April Fools fix this year.

But it is April, and April just sounds like Spring, doesn't it? "April" sounds like hope... sounds like children playing on new grass, warm gentle breezes, bright colors, al fresco dining, and love.  In contrast, "March" sounds like trouble... sounds like storm troops, jail doors slamming shut, gray days, black and white photos, lost causes,…