May 15 thru May 31 - The Beginning of an End

Time for a long entry to the blog in an attempt to bring the record up to date. If you're like many readers and find daily minutia and personal triflings boring, you may want to skip this entry. Now that we're more or less settled for the summer I don't plan on posting here often... certainly not daily. Something like every week or two will probably suffice to keep the record current and my writing muscle from turning completely to flab.

When we last heard from our intrepid explorers they had just arrived in Cedar Falls Iowa. Our purpose for stopping there was two-fold: first, we have four good RVing friends from our Rockport Texas days... Andy & Betty, and David & Carol Ann... who live right here in Cedar Falls. We hadn't seen these folks since a year ago this past Winter (we skipped Rockport this year) and since we were driving by it just made sense to stop and see what kind of trouble we, collectively, could get into. Our other reason for stopping there was to visit the Northstar Camper plant. Yes, much to the chagrin of some we're still considering a truck camper for Sabbatical II - the great downsizing.

Andy & Betty offered to have us park in their driveway during our two night stay... and since we're on a very small old age pension (and cheap by nature) we took them up on that very kind offer. Both nights we were there David & Carol Ann joined us to help keep the conversation lively.

We arrived in Cedar Falls Tuesday (the 14th). On the 15th, Wednesday, Dar and I ran down to Northstar where we met with Rex, a grandson of the founder. R.C. Willett Company ("The Truck Camper People"), builders of the highly regarded Northstar campers, have been in the truck camper business for more than 52 years. I'm not sure, but 52 years must put them at the top of the list as the longest-running business in this RV industry niche.

What an enjoyable visit! Rex listened to understand our background and our ideas for the next chapter of our RVing life. He showed us campers in every phase of production, pointed out features and build details that were developed from years of experience, and took us through a series of completed units waiting for shipment. I was a little surprised to learn that many of the units they build are exported to countries all around the world.

In all, Rex spent 3 hours with Dar and me. It was a visit that far exceeded our expectations and gave us a lot more to think about... to consider. But generally, we do believe we're on the right track (for us) in our quest to aggressively downsize for the next chapter.

On Thursday the 16th we bid "adieu" to Andy & Betty and headed into Wisconsin for the first time since last November. Crossing the Mississippi at Dubuque, the drive was uneventful, the weather agreeable, as the anticipation of "coming home" plucked at my emotions. Something full time RVers, those who wander like nomads all the time, don't experience is the emotional high one gets from going home. I've written about this before... there's nothing like the feeling of coming home - unless it's the feeling of leaving again. I think that's one of the reasons we're designing Sabbatical II with two home bases... to double the pleasure... the kick... we get from going home, planning the next exploration, and then leaving again.

Since arriving in Beaver Dam the last two weeks have been a blur. My Dad has been going through some really tough health problems. He's 90 and things are starting to wear out. I'm not going to get into any specifics here, but we've been helping out and spending as much time as we can with him and Mom.

We're currently parked on our RV pad out at the farm outside Beaver Dam. Since we're considering this the end of our first "Sabbatical" (com'on... who ever heard of a 6 year sabbatical??) -- what will go down in history as Sabbatical I, our stay here this year is rather open ended. There's much to be accomplished in the next few months... get our "apartment" here at the farm set up, put the bus-house on the market and, hopefully, pass it on to another couple looking for an exciting RV-based life chapter, and get our next rig ready for the new adventures of Sabbatical II.

I think I need a nap.
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