Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Decorating for Christmas

Well it’s the Christmas season. It is official because it is after Thanksgiving. I agree with Darrell Patterson,, that Christmas officially gets kicked off with the Thanksgiving Day parades and NOT the day after school begins. I must confess that I am an avid Christmas decorator. I got that “bug” naturally because my Mom always loved to decorate for Christmas. One of the “emotional” aspects of full-timing for me was the dilemma of what to do with half of an attic full of Christmas “stuff.” I certainly don’t have a 2400 square foot house to decorate. So what’s a girl to do?

Last Christmas, as I was busily decorating, I told Mike that this was getting to be a big job. It took us one entire evening to get the things down from the attic. Then it took the better part of one to two complete days to get it all set up. Then comes the trees. Yes, I said trees. We had three. One, all clear lights, in the living room. One, multicolored lights, in the den and one small “sports” tree that I had set up for our son years ago and you got it, tradition, means we put it up each year. By the time I got all the inside completed came the hanging of the greens outside. We put wreaths at each window, candles in each window and our sweet little deer, two of them, in the natural area. The entire time I am doing this I am thinking about how much work is going to be involved in putting it all back up in approximately four weeks. It was about this time I looked at Mike and confessed that now I understood why my Mom and his started to do less and less each year. Gee, I thought all this time they were just being old scrooges. Not so. It all looked nice when complete but oh the work that went into getting it that way.

Did it make Christmas more meaningful? Not really. It was just something I did each year. On cue right after Thanksgiving I just did it. This year was going to be different. How would I survive without the week of hard labor to get in the Christmas spirit?
Well…. we put up a 4 foot tree (because I couldn’t find a 3 foot one) and I went through all our ornaments and picked out the ones that were “special” and mostly nonbreakable. We added a string of LED lights in the windshield. The steering wheel table was draped with a Christmas cover and one of my favorite Santas stands on it surrounded by cotton snow and clear battery operated LED lights. I put the rest of my Santa collection on the desk/credenza with a few nutcrackers. I laid some multi-colored battery operated lights around them. A couple of pillows and I was finished. It took me all of about an hour from getting out the Christmas tub to turning on the lights. The lights add so much color, it makes the motorhome so warm and well…. Christmassy. I am not tired and stressed out and I haven’t wondered one time how much work would be involved with putting everything back up.

The motorhome looks nice and festive. The city of Pine Mountain is all lit up to support Callaway Garden/Resort and their Fantasy in Lights. Mike and I have walked downtown several evenings and just enjoyed the moment. We spent several hours at the Callaway Christmas Village which is soooo nicely decorated complete with wonderful music. We look forward to our drive through Fantasy in Lights before Christmas. Several mornings we have eaten our breakfast by listening to Christmas music playing softly on the stereo system in the motorhome. Our son has even put up his “sports” tree in his apartment and it feels good to know it has found a new address, his address, just as it should. Yes, it is Christmas and it is all good…….life is good.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Direct TV

This weekend Pine Mountain Rv resort accommodated over 200 rv families for a fun filled extended weekend. They provided a free Thanksgiving dinner for all who wished to participate, had nighttime fires in their large fire pit and just had an all round great time for the campers. When Sunday came, we knew there would be a mass exodus from the campgrounds. Sure enough, the Hoover vacuum worked overtime sucking the campers out. Since it became dead in the course of a few hours, I thought I would take this time to share some information regarding our television service.

We decided to use direct tv for our television service. We have the Choice Extra plus HD / DVR. We had local stations included which gave us HD television for the national stations. We found that each time we moved we needed to call Direct TV and give them the zip code we were located in to get the national stations, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC. That seemed awkward and there were times when we talked to customer service, some of the staff could not make that transition of location for us. Getting frustrated, I searched further and found we could apply for something called Distant Network Service. In order for us to get Distant Network Service, we had to sign a waiver that stated we did not own a home and that our only home was an rv. There is an additional fee for this service of $14 a month. If you choose to pursue this service and want the stations in hi-def, you need to specifically request them. The process to get this complete takes a couple of weeks.
Once this is complete, no matter where you are in the continental states, you will get the national stations. You will have the opportunity to get them from the east or west coast. In fact, if you do not record a show that you miss, tune in to the west coast and see it later in the night.

We have been very happy with this transition, and for us it is worth the difference in cost.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Traditions... An Awesome Day

Words can’t express the thankfulness of spending quality time with your family and enjoying every second you spent together.
This year we had the awesome opportunity to spend our Thanksgiving Day together with our son Stephen. We went to Callaway Gardens Resort for our Thanksgiving meal. Each year they put out an incredible feast in the Plantation Room as well as the banquet ballroom. In the ballroom, they have a pianist playing during the meal. After we ate, we spent almost an hour just visiting with each other at the dinner table and enjoying the grand ambience of the area.
When we left the resort, we came back to our motorhome and just chillaxed. As the evening approached, we went back to Callaway Gardens as they open up there resort to a “”Fantasy in Lights” 7 mile drive thru with over 8 million lights and different musical themes throughout the drive. You can drive your car or you can ride in a trolly. They also have a large Christmas Village you can walk thru and have many different Christmas items for sale… many unusual items as well. We did not drive through the lights tonight, but will do so later. We just strolled through the Christmas Village and enjoyed all the sights of Christmas. What a wonderful way to spend the evening together and to kick off the holidays.
As I reflect on all the blessings we have, I am humbled by God’s mercy on me and on our family

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving....Being Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?? This is the traditional time of the year when we stop and take the time to think about all of our blessings. We have so much to be thankful for and isn’t it nice to live a lifestyle that always allows you the “time” to think about those blessings? We used to get so caught up in the hurry of life that it wasn’t always so easy to do this. For us, life was like a marathon where you look toward the target or goal and somewhere toward the end of the marathon you start to get tired and struggle and just push, push toward that target. We didn’t take time to turn around and look at all the territory we had covered. The things that we had accomplished, the blessings that had been poured out on us. It is all different now! Every morning we wake up beside each other and move through our day together enjoying the wonderful benefits of this lifestyle and it is a blessing we NEVER take for granite. I am thankful for my family. I have a wonderful husband that happens to be my best friend. I am thankful that God has allowed us to retire together and begin to live our dream of travel and seeing this great country. We are grateful and humbled for this experience. I am thankful for my son, Stephen. He is not only a wonderful son but a great friend. We have fun together and truly enjoy being together. I am thankful I have been able to see him grow into the man he is today. I am thankful for my friends, both past and present. I am thankful for those of you who stop by and share our adventures with us. We know you are busy so we really appreciate your time with us.

It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention how thankful I am for the men and women that serve this great country both here and in foreign lands. I am thankful for the brave men and women that went before my time to protect, defend and even give of their lives in order to give us the freedoms we enjoy every day. I am thankful for our forefathers that had the vision, wisdom and courage to establish this great country. Last but certainly not least, I am thankful for the present men and women that are serving on battlefields in strange lands many hundreds of miles from their families and those here in this country that dedicate themselves to protecting our freedoms each day. It is these men and women that have provided our….freedom 2 roll. God Bless and……Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Learning Picasa Web

To make our pics better and be able to display them better, I am working with picasa web. I am experimenting and trying different apps of picasa web to show different picture styles. They offer a self turtorial and you learn by trial and error. So I will be putting in different collages and pic styles as I zoom in on the types that Gerri & I like. Please be patient as I try different approaches. If you have comments about them please let me know as I am learning and having fun.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Searching for a Shroud

We’re looking for a shroud. No, not that kind. The story began on our trip back to Georgia from Texas. The weather was anything but kind. It rained very hard with lots of strong winds. We made our way to Louisiana and stopped for the night. The next morning as we were getting ready to leave I heard a drip, drip,drip sound coming from the living area. Not a good thing. I called to Mike to investigate that scary noise. Sure enough, we had a leak coming from the ceiling where one of the air conditioner vents is located. Mike went outside and up on the roof to take a look and quickly discovered a cover missing off of one of our air conditioners. Being newbies we first thought that the air conditioner being uncovered was causing the leak. We called around and found an RV dealership that thought they could help us get the air conditioner covered and back on the road. We drove to Clay’s RV in West Monroe, Louisiana where they discovered that the seal around the air conditioner was the cause of the leak. They replaced the seal and sold us a shroud, yes that is what it is called, in order to get us back on the road. It took them almost two hours to complete the job so between the labor at $100 per hour and the parts we left there $400.00 lighter. Now I am not sure they helped us or if they“saw us coming.” All I know is the leak stopped but the rain did not. What we discovered upon returning to Georgia was that the other shroud had also cracked and they had used duck tape to hold it together so it wouldn’t blow off. What a nice fashion statement! Now we needed to purchase yet another shroud and we wanted to have them look the same. We checked our numbers in the Penguin book (our air conditioners are made by Penguin) to order the correct shroud and found out what we purchased in Louisiana was a generic shroud and not necessarily the one for our unit. We even tried to find the number of the one we had already purchased so they would match and couldn’t find anything with that serial number. We also discovered that the generic shroud had no “air” vents and the original ones did. Yikes, now we might need two shrouds that match and are made for our unit. So the hunt began. Mike checked our serial number again on our Penquin book and we called Opelika RV to place the order. Today Opelika RV called us and in our talking with the parts manager we found out the ones that came in are also without vents and in the wrong color. Great….now we are trying to find out why the originals have vents and the replacements don’t. Mike called Newmar and gave them our VIN number and they identified the correct Penquin units that were put on our unit. We called Opelika RV and gave them this information so they could begin the search for the correct shroud for our Dutch Star.

So the search continues for the missing shroud.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Making Plans

We have finally been able to finalize some plans for after the holidays. We have been able to rent a site at Rainbow Plantation. As many of you know, Rainbow Plantation is one of the parks owned by Escapees. This park is located in Summerdale, Alabama which is only a few miles from the Gulf. As with most Escapees parks, there is an area where you can camp on a first in first out basis. There are also 22 ERPU lots that can be leased for $14,500 one time cost plus $750.00 for annual maintenance fees. There are also deeded lots on which owners can build homes. We are renting a site on Jerry and Linda Christie’s deeded lot. It seems the folks that rent on deeded lots are referred to as “squatters.” Cute!! This is a nice, level full hookup site.

We have heard so many great things about the “Plantation” we can’t wait to experience it all for ourselves. They have scheduled activities every day of the week which allows plenty of opportunities to meet other full-timers which Mike and I are really looking forward to. It appears the clubhouse is the place to be to enjoy the ice cream socials and covered dish suppers and many other fun time gatherings. Mike is also going to need to get his Alabama fishing license because there are a lot of fishing opportunities in the many lakes, rivers and ponds. There are several golf courses including one designed by Arnold Palmer. From what we hear there are some unique places to eat in this area also. Of course you have Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida within driving distance.

So we look forward to our time here in Pine Mountain over the holidays with our son. It will be a good time to relax and enjoy the season. It is great to see Stephen and see how well he is doing with his career and watching him grow into such a wonderful young man. We always enjoy our time as a family. It is a blessing from God and we are thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Lifestyle and not a Vacation

I have had a hard time with this concept. Being a newbie you just want to see it all and see it NOW. That would account for the fact that many newbies travel way too fast and furious in their first year. I found myself feeling kinda “down” that we are stationary for a few months and we don’t have neat and exotic places to write about. After all, we are now right back where we started from in August. How exciting is that? What is new to see here? The truth of the matter is not everywhere we go will be an exciting place with tons of things to see and do. In the winter, especially during the holidays, many full-timers travel to a place to share the holidays with either family or their RV family. Warm weather draws full-timers like a magnet. Who wants to be stuck in snow in a cold climate in their RV? Oh, I know, full-time units can handle it but what about the full-timer? Can they handle it:? Do they want to handle it? Probably not. Our travel and exploration will slow down in the winter. That is a fact of life and I will have to adjust. This is our lifestyle and we are not on vacation.

This topic came up in several of the journals I follow. It came up in journals of folks that have been full-timing for several years. Sometimes we just do the ordinary type of things. I did the laundry, vacuumed the carpet, fixed lunch. Mike continued to work on the outside of the coach. He cleaned the windows and gave the Jeep a bath. Later in the day we took a walk around the campground. We have been trying to walk everyday that the weather allows. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Just the ordinary things of life. Oh, there are tons of things in this great country to see and we can’t wait to experience as much as we can. However, it is awesome to remind ourselves that we have as much time as we need, as long as the good Lord allows, to get there because we are not on vacation. This is our lifestyle and life is good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cleaning the Roof

We are sitting here watching the clouds roll in ahead of Ida. The rains are scheduled to begin this evening. Georgia has had its fair share of the rain this fall and so now they are concerned about more flooding. We have several friends that are now at their winter “home” in Summerdale, Alabama and hope that they will remain safe. The good thing about living in an RV is you can avoid such weather conditions as hurricanes and tropical storms by simply leaving the area. This particular area of our country has been pounded in the last few years and we certainly have these folks in our prayers.

No grass to mow, no weeds to pick, no weed-eater to run but there is maintenance to perform on an RV. I decided today would be the day we begin cleaning the outside of our motorhome. I climbed up on the roof and began cleaning this area first. This is quite a job and usually takes about a couple of hours. We had to take the sunscreens off the front windows and pull in the awnings. Gerri’s job was to turn the water off and on and snake the hose up to me. What a stressful job for Gerri!! About two hours later the roof is nice and clean. Now since the rains are coming we will finish the rest of the coach after the rains.

An uneventful day but at least we have a clean roof!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Country Drive and a Covered Bridge

It was such a beautiful day that Mike and I decided to take a leisurely drive through some small towns in this area. We began by driving Highway 109 from LaGrange through the community of Mountville. Mountville is the oldest settlement in Troup County. The community hasn't changed much through the years. I t consists of the First Baptist Church of Mountville and the First United Methodist Church of Mountville. There is an elementary school, you guessed it, Mountville Elementary. The land is beautiful. We followed Highway 109 until it brought us to Greenville. Greenville is a quaint little town with beautiful antebellum houses. We stopped off the road to snap a few pictures which included the courthouse. From there we continued on the same highway to Woodburry and took highway 85 north until we came to Covered Bridge Road. We turned east and
followed this road until we came to Red Oak Creek Bridge. This covered bridge was built by Horace King, a freed slave. He built many bridges in the west Georgia area but this is the last one of this type standing. It was built in the 1840's. It is the oldest covered bridge in Georgia and probably the sturdiest. Cars can still cross through this bridge and did while we visited. The length of this bridge spans 391 feet including the approaches. The bridge was constructed on the Town lattice design with web planks that criss-cross at 45 to 60 degree angles and are then fastened at each intersection with a total of about 2,500 wooden pegs or trunnels. A little piece of history.

The saddest part was seeing the abuse the bridge is taking with graffiti being written all over the wood. It really makes me angry and sad to see such beautiful structures treated with such disrespect. Everyone that walked up while we were there made the same comment about the graffiti and how sad it was.

We left Woodburry and followed Highway 85 until we got to Manchester and from there we drove over "the mountain." The mountain being Pine Mountain which led us into FDR State Park.

We topped our day off with a stop at San Marcos for a soft taco and chips/salsa.

It has been a wonderful day! The temps have been around 72 degrees and the sun has been shining in a deep blue sky. We enjoyed our Saturday afternoon drive through the countryside and discovering a little bit of covered bridge history.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What's Up With This Feeling??

It really amazes me! We have only been full-timing for three months making one trip to Texas for a couple of months and now we are back where we started from in August. Apparently alot happened in that three months. We shed our old lives and took on a new life.....that of a full-timer. We have been to LaGrange several times this past week taking care of various forms of personal business. Each time we go there we feel strange, almost a cold and awkward feeling. When you go back to where you lived your former life, you feel like you should fit in. What we are discovering is we don't fit in, we are different. We no longer care about the things that used to matter....the material stuff we collected, the social graces of our community, the career climb and so on. It all seems superficial. Instead we find ourselves thinking about the lake at Hagerman and wondering if the birds have arrived. We wonder if anybody discovered where the Great Horned Owl relocated in the refuge. What about the coyotes? Are they still howling at the moon each evening? We wonder where some of the great folks we met might be "camping" this week. It is the simple things that truly matter.

We are different. We have discovered what it feels like to be free, really free. To open our door and to be out among nature and hear the birds, see wildlife and be out in God's creation. Our lives are simpler and we like it that way. We are happy and content.
We came back to spend the holiday with our only son, who is single. This is where our son lives and no longer our home.

Our home is wherever we are, wherever we travel to and whomever we are with.
We are fulltimers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leaving Texas

Our six week trip to Texas was our first real outing as full-timers. We went there to volunteer at Hagerman NWR and to explore the areas we came across as we were there. We came away with so much more than we gave. Texas is a big state in so many ways. The obvious is the amount of territory the state has. But for Gerri and me, the bigness showed up in so many other ways. The wide open land that exposed God’s great sunrises and sunsets, and the beauty of the skies because the land was so open made it grandeur. The grandness of the people and their simple but heart-felt life and their convictions about life itself was very obvious. The people are real and sincere and we met so many great folks; we were blessed. Another bigness of Texas for us was their great state pride; everyone we saw was proud of Texas and what Texas is and stands for. When you are in Texas you can’t help but to be proud to live in America and feel full of life. We have only begun to explore this wonderful state! We will return!!!

We arrived back at Pine Mountain RV Resort Wednesday afternoon. Now, just for clarification, we traveled way to fast for full-timers. The only reason we went as fast as we did was our son had been sick for about three weeks and didn’t seem to be getting any better. His last trip to the doctor revealed a severe sinus infection and some other congestion that indicated that he was just steps away from pneumonia and being admitted to the hospital. We felt we needed to get back and check on things for ourselves and since we were going to be there for the holidays we decided to go ahead and proceed. He is now doing much better.

We are back in our same site, set up and ready to experience the Thanksgiving holiday. Everything is much as we left it except the trees have turned beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. It is fall and there is a crispness in the air. It will be good to sit outside and enjoy this beautiful season and have a wonderful campfire……if only it will stop raining.