Today, November 26, 2015………..Thanksgiving! That day when family and friends gather for the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, pies or whatever your family traditions may be. For me the holidays are difficult. I miss the years when my family was closer, the kids were young and we were all able to gather for family holidays. But as life goes children grow up, loved ones pass on and family dynamics change. During the changes in life one hopes their family will stay together but sometimes it just doesn’t. So it happened that this year I was going to be by myself babysitting my youngest son’s dog (Hank) in Portland. My son, Bryce and his girlfriend, Alyse had made plans quite sometime back to fly to North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Bryce was going to leave Hank with a friend to care for him, but when I found myself “retired” from my job I told my son that I would come and take care of Hank so they did not have to worry about him. But life has a way of taking you by surprise and reminding you of the awesome, caring people still out there in this big world of ours. The day before Bryce and Alyse were to leave Alyse had a couple of her work friends (Laura and Corrine) over at the house that I had the opportunity to meet. Now take note that it was a brief opportunity, but the next day after I dropped Bryce and Alyse off at the airport I received a text from Bryce that I was invited to Corrine’s house for Thanksgiving. I was surprised that with such a brief meeting that this young lady did not want me spending Thanksgiving alone, but that I was welcome to come and spend it with her and her family. I accepted the invite as a challenge to myself that this was the beginning of my new life adventure I was moving towards, the chance to do something different, step outside the comfort zone and meet new people and make new friends. I arrived at Corrine’s house with several family members already there – her parents, her parent’s longtime friends, her sister with her husband and children. I was welcomed with open arms, hugs and smiles and introductions to who I was and how did I fit into this picture ( Bryce’s mom who is the boyfriend of Alyse who is Corrine’s friend and co-worker). Within the hour more family members arrived with husbands, wives, children and a few more friends. In total, we had a house full of 21 people. What an awesome time I had visiting, sharing my stories, hearing their stories, watching the family dynamics of love for family and friends. Lots of good food….turkey, stuffing, gravy, Mexican dishes, salad, olives, pie, cake and several things I can not remember the names of. In the end, I made new friends and shared phone numbers and email with Corrine’s Mom – she and I hit it off and she was excited about my new adventure. She wants to follow my journey and hopes that she and her husband will be able to travel more this next year as well. So on this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for my family that I love very much and I am thankful for new friends and a caring, compassionate young woman who reached out her heart and a hand to welcome someone new into her family and world. May the world continue to be a better place and that we all look beyond ourselves and be open and aware of others who may need a hug and a welcome embrace.
Some of you are probably wondering how this all began. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. My initial thinking sometime back was to get an RV while I was working and have it paid off by the time I retired, which is at the minimum 6 years away, and then hit the road. I just am not the type of person who in retirement would be happy just living in an apartment and looking at the 4 walls. During the past year, I began to see stories of people selling their homes, all their belongings, quitting their jobs and hitting the road in their RV’s or travel trailers. Then a friend from high school retired got herself an airstream and started traveling, then I saw another old friend and her husband spend a month traveling in their camper. I was seeing all these great adventures and the beautiful places they were visiting….. Every day is a new adventure and meeting new people, seeing old friends and family. I was seeing folks removing themselves from being tied down to a job, a house, a car payment and the same thing day in and day out, I was seeing them removing the stress from their lives, exploring and being free and happy. In August of 2015, I went on a two-week road trip with my three grandchildren. I saw old friends I grew up and went to high school with, spent time hanging out with them and going on great adventures….. quad riding on a friends ranch, horseback riding on another friends ranch, swimming (lot’s of swimming), visiting my hometown of Truckee, California and getting to see the famous Squaw Valley where the 1960 Olympics took place and where the ice rink I used to skate on as a kid was, but is now gone, the house the grandkids mom lived in when she was born, dip their toes in the famous Donner Lake, go to the Donner State Park and visit the new museum and see the Donner Party Memorial, take a drive up old highway 40 to Donner Summit to the viewpoint and take in beautiful Donner Lake and really get a feel for what the Donner Party was trying to accomplish crossing those rugged, rocky mountains in wagon trains, a day playing in the sand and swimming in beautiful Lake Tahoe. In addition, we visited Crater Lake……drove around the whole lake, which was so beautiful and interesting. We spent a few nights camping in various places and we were able to see and visit with an old co-worker in Klamath Falls. We went to Vacaville, California and stayed with another high school friend, went swimming and toured the Jelly Belly Factory and at the end of our tour, we ran into my brother and his girlfriend out of the blue. We crossed over through Napa Valley (Wine Country) to the Redwoods and the ocean. What majestic trees the redwoods are and the preservation that has taken place to preserve these trees for us all to still enjoy. This trip was such a special, bonding, rewarding trip that will be with me always.
Well after leaving my job I knew my next big step was finding a home that I would be living in for at least a year. The challenge was finding a used RV in my budget, had to be a diesel, was dependable, and something I could handle and manage. So my thought was finding something no bigger than 28 ft. I came to Portland to see my son over Thanksgiving and shop for an RV. He found this one on craigslist at a family-owned business in Estacada…. a 1993 Sun Voyager by Gulfstream with a Cummins Diesel and Allison transmission. I liked it right away, but it was 34 feet! Is this something I could handle? it’s as big as a bus……… but I liked it, it was very nice inside, comfortable, roomy and had lots of storage. So the next thing I needed to do was to make sure it was dependable. I asked the owner if he was open to me getting an independent mechanic to look at it. He had no problem with that and actually encouraged it. They wanted their customers to feel comfortable and confident in what they were buying and knew what they were getting. I found a mechanic nearby and he only charged me $100.00 to check it out from top to bottom. Everything worked and was in good operating and running condition. They only had to replace a vent/fan that was broken. During the few days, the mechanic had the RV and was checking it out I spent those days still looking and hunting for an RV. I wanted to be sure I was getting what I wanted and checking out my options. After a few days of checking craigslist for new listings, visiting a few RV dealers, and making phone calls to RV dealers I was not finding anything else. So I was very happy when I found that everything checked out on this RV and I was able to make an offer and seal the deal.