Tuesday, September 20, 2011


From Arkansas we went to Tunica, Mississippi, just south of Memphis, Tennessee.  We camped in the RV Park of Harrah’s Tunica casino.  It seems a number of casinos around the country have RV parks and at very reasonable rates (if you avoid the gambling which they are trying to draw you there for).   Harrah’s has a Paula Deen buffet featuring food all made according to her recipes.  Her broccoli salad was great and I got the recipe.  Gary really enjoyed the gumbo.  We saw cotton fields around Tunica.  Each bloom is like four individual cotton balls.  I picked a few for souvenirs.

We also explored Memphis from our Tunica base.  I went to Graceland (Gary had already been there).  We had BBQ  at Corky’s, featured on the Travel Channel’s best places for BBQ.  We also explored Beale Street, Memphis’ version of Bourbon Street, but with a blues vibe rather than a jazz one. We visited the Peabody Hotel where they have the world famous ducks.  Each morning they bring 5 ducks down to the lobby water fountain from where they live on the roof of the hotel.  They are brought down on the elevator and walk a red carpet to the fountain.  At 5:00 p.m. they have a big ceremony to escort the ducks back on the red carpet to the elevator to the roof where they stay the night.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Whenever people asked where the first place we would be going, I always answered right after Texas we will be going to the diamond mine.  I had always enjoyed the Cash and Treasures program on the Travel Channel where they went to many sites around the country in search of finds of various kinds.  In Arkansas there is a State Park called Crater of Diamonds.  In ancient times there was a volcanic eruption there which brought diamonds to the surface.  Now you are able to explore the forty acre field of the ancient crater and if you find any diamonds you are free to keep them.  On average people find about two diamonds a day there.  But that still leaves the odds very small of finding one, and we didn’t have the luck of locating one.  In reality it was a lot more work than I had ever imagined and it was pretty hot there too.  But we enjoyed it just the same and had a beautiful campsite at the park.

From the Diamond Crater we went back to Little Rock where we had stopped on the way down to Texas.  But the first time it didn’t really fit our schedule to stop at President Clinton’s Library (aka his Trailer Park and Massage Parlor).  It does bear a striking resemblance to the classic “redneck highrise” picture.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We're Texans

We had a very nice and productive stay in Texas.  Escapees is a great organization for full time RVers.  They have a super mail forwarding service and are very helpful to those becoming Texans.  We decided to become Texans when Michigan recently chose to tax pensions.  As full time RVers we can basically chose any State to be our domicile, so why would we choose one that wants to tax pensions and motor homes?  Texas is very good in those regards.

We first had our motor home and “toad” inspected per Texas regulations.  Then we went for Texas titles and registrations.  Texas requires drivers of motor homes the size of ours to have a Class B license.  We had to take written driving exams made up primarily of commercial vehicle questions.  Then, we had to take driving tests in the motor home.  Gary has a lot of motor home miles under his belt, but I only drove the Southwind once and that thing was a bread truck that wandered all over the road and I never drove it again.  I had driven the Country Coach around in a parking lot but never on the road.  But we were here to get proper licenses and I needed to be able to drive at least in an emergency situation so I had to step up.  I watched some internet videos that were helpful and then I drove it around the roads of the campground.  And then I took it out on the road.  I drove about 40 miles by the time we arrived at the DMV for our driving tests.  Gary went first, but they wouldn’t let me ride along during his test as I had planned.  After he passed his exam, I took the wheel and made it happen.  Yay, I passed my driving test in a huge motor home!  Gary recorded our official Texas domicile with this mug shot.  No he is not holding his prison number, that is one of our license plates.  As I wouldn’t let him actually buy a cowboy hat as there is no room for it in the motor home, we just “borrowed” one at the Walmart for the picture.

We took some time and actually relaxed for a change.  We did our near daily water aerobics in the pool in the up to 105 degree heat.  But we did receive some much needed rain in the area from Tropical Storm Lee.    We sampled the local fare of restaurants and shops.  The picture below tells you how you know you are in a restaurant in Texas.

Off to Arkansas.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Trip On To Texas

We left Kamp Kevin and reached our next stop of Evansville, Indiana on the banks of the Ohio River.  Now before you think we were finally camping, Gary had us parked for the night off the back of another garage so we could have a better braking system installed in the tow car.  We had SMI headquarters install an Air Force One braking system to replace the Brake Buddy we were using.  But we did have a nice dinner down at the Aztar casino in Evansville.

From Evansville, we traveled across Kentucky and Tennessee and just into Missouri where we camped for the first time as full timers in a very legitimate campground on the Mississippi River.  We crossed both the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers that day and I was about on the floor both times.  I never have liked crossing high bridges and especially not in the tall perch of a motor home looking over the guard rail and down into the water.

We spent a nice night in Little Rock, Arkansas in a downtown campground on the banks of the Arkansas River and went to an Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball game.  It seemed a bit more like an adventure now.

A couple days later we arrived in Livingston, Texas at the home RV park of Escapees, the premier organization of full time RVers.

Cruising American RV, Celina, Ohio August 15-25, 2011

We didn’t move very far and fast.  Gary had scheduled our first stop only about 200 miles down the road at an RV service shop so we could have some needed accessories installed.  We arrived at Cruising America Center in Celina, Ohio on our first day out.  Kevin, the owner, and John, his trusty right hand technician are both former employees of American Coach in Decatur, Indiana.  Gary had some work done down there last Fall and this time we were scheduled to have a washer/dryer installed, along with an auto satellite dish, and a whole long list of other installs and repairs.  Within the first two days after our arrival the list was largely completed.  Gary called to order up satellite TV boxes and service and that was when the saga began.  The day after placing the order, he called back with a minor update to the information he had provided less than 24 hours earlier, but that set off the interception of the shipment of the boxes, the waiting for them to be logged back into the warehouse, many many unpleasant phone conversations,  etc, etc.    By the time we finally had satellite boxes (from another satellite service retailer) installed and were on our way again, it was 10 days later.  Kevin was a very gracious host the entire time we camped at “Kamp Kevin”.  We can’t forget to mention our kitty, Alley.  She has adjusted quite well to a life on the road.  She had a couple of “under the weather” days at Kamp Kevin due to the flea treatment she gets once a month.  Since then she has been her old self enjoying her daily brushings and getting to wear her harness and go outside.

Even though the satellite service situation was very frustrating, we still enjoyed our stay at “Kamp Kevin”.  We drove over to Indiana twice to visit Gary’s mother in her nursing home.  The second time it was on Gary’s 60th birthday.  We also celebrated Mom’s 89th birthday which was earlier in the month with a homemade blueberry pie made in the motor home.  We also met up twice with Gary’s son who lives in Ohio.  We had 50 amp service off the back of Kevin’s building and not once did he threaten to kick us out of there.  We made the acquaintance of other motor homers there for service and one evening Kevin even threw a cookout for all of us.  But just the same, we were well into our third week of full time RVing and we had never camped anywhere except the back of some garage.

"Camp Bagman" Second Week of August 2011

It seemed we just couldn’t get the condo fully emptied while we were still living there and our motor home was stored in a lot where there weren’t any hookups making is basically unlivable.   We thought about moving the motor home to the nearest campground but that was more than 30 miles away and would not have been convenient.  During the first weekend of August, we basically finished loading up the motor home.  And it just so happened that during July Gary had stopped by to meet someone known as “Bagman” from RV.net who owns a bag business and warehouse in the city where our condo was located.  Lo and behold, Bagman also had some RV storage spaces behind his warehouse and with 50/30 amp service to boot.  We asked if we could rent a space there, only about a mile as the crow flies from our condo.  He graciously agreed to host us.

After a very tiring and back breaking weekend of loading up, on Monday, August 8, we moved the motor home over to Camp Bagman, and started living out of it.  We were never to spend another night in our condo.  But there was still all the work of the remaining cleanout, cleanup, inspections etc.  But we were now full timers, just the same.  One of the amenities at Camp Bagman was the whistle of the nearby trains.  Camp Bagman is located adjacent to about 5 train tracks.  Although our condo was located within 6 blocks of the tracks, we rarely had the opportunity to listen to the nightly (all night) train horns.  With the closing just days away, we gave power of attorney to our realtor and hit the road for the first time as full timers on Monday, August 15.

July and the First Week of August 2011

 With our on-the-road date only one month away, we began making plans to put the condo into the hands of a property manager as a rental.  We really didn’t want to rent it, but it seemed like that was going to be the only viable option.

We really intensified the disposition of our “stuff”.  Family antiques were picked up by Gary’s brother’s family.  Gary’s son just happened to buy a house with his Fiancee and he was able to take a fair amount of stuff; we were very happy they could use it, rather than us selling it.  We also loaded them up with other things they never even knew they wanted and needed.

We had a very nice reception at The Oak Café and a lot of our friends and family came to see us off and wish us well on our new adventure.

We cleaned out all the files and pulled out the stuff from every nook and cranny.  We were going from about 3,000 sq ft including the basement to about 400 in the motor home.

We lowered the listing price of the condo and were about to sign on with the property manager when in later July we had another showing.    We received some very good feedback after the showing and decided to delay our August 1 departure a bit to see how it all played out.  The motor home was in the service shop anyway and we “borrowed it back” the last weekend in July to begin loading it up.   After a second showing of the condo and some negotiations we reached a deal for a sale. 

Retirement (March 1) through June, 2011

After I retired and as we waited for the condo to sell, we decided we needed to get into a whole lot better shape.  We commenced an 8-week “boot camp” of exercising and walking (about a total of 3 hours a day, six days a week, without fail).  We both lost weight and got into a lot better shape.

At the end of March, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.   My how time flies.  It seems like only yesterday that we were being married in a park overlooking the ocean in Maui.

We had another garage sale during the city-wide garage sale weekend, and, Gary was selling lots of things through Craigslist.  We were taking more loads to donation centers, all the while as we continued to wait for a sale of the condo.

As we got into June, we still hadn’t received a single offer on the condo.  We knew if we didn’t get on the road soon, we might well not get out before the winter so we decided to set an on-the-road date of August 1.