A year in review: Our 2nd year, doing what we do…

Lake Greenwood, Cross Hill, S.C.

Reflecting on the past year sends a tornado of thoughts and images through my mind. What a difference a year can make! I struggled to write our first year’s journey because we had just began to glimpse what this last year’s challenges would be. Our lives last year didn’t envolve shiny new campgrounds or multiple state road trips but it did test us in many ways and strongly reminded us that life is precious and we needed to enjoy it while we can.

New Belgium Brewery, Asheville, N.C.

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Throw All Plans Out the Window

Just remember I love you

And it will be alright~ Firefall

I struggle to know where to begin this part of our story for the simple fact I wish this wasn’t our story. I know there were good times but all in all, the pain dilutes those moments to a fuzzy grey. We arrived in Cross Hill, South Carolina two carefree kids out on a grand adventure to see the United States in our camper one move at a time. This was our third new place to call “home” for a brief stay and needless to say we left not quite the same.

Moving from an Island in Texas to a rural town in South Carolina would take some time getting adjusted to. I had looked forward to the lakefront campground only to be escorted to the “residential area” nowhere near the lake. We moved because this job was an opportunity to get in with the National Park Service and we were committed to making it work. Yes, we live in a camper so we didn’t have to stay in a place we weren’t happy, but it was temporary and we felt the pros outweighed the cons. When we move, there is always the challenge of work, bills still have to be paid and exploring new areas isn’t always cheap. I was offered a job at the campground while we were parking the camper so that obstacle was quickly out of the way.

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Texas to South Carolina…

“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.” ~Unknown

Over nine months ago we drove to South Carolina from South Padre Island, Texas, dragging our massive travel trailer behind us. You can in fact drive from one planet to another or so it might seem from destination to destination. I love the newness of it all. We are not full-time RV travelers but move from location to location and find jobs along the way. Six month stays were always the planned timeframe for each location so needless to say I have “hitch itch” as RVers like to say. I have failed on this blog with updates but before we begin a new adventure I feel like I should share our journey here.

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Whirlwind Weekend in Washington D.C.

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

A couple of years ago, I began to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. As I grew up, I  slowly shaped into something completely different than I had always imagined. I assume, in some of the opinions of friends and family, I have “grown down” not up. When we made a decision to live in a camper and leave our jobs, I’m sure all sorts of people thought we were crazy, irresponsible, running from things, etc. I spent a lot of time trying to think about what I could do for work and pay the bills, but also be happy. During this same time period we developed our love for the National Park Service and quickly I had a dream job, to be a park ranger. When the camper’s wheels rolled away from Asheville, NC, a little over a year ago, we planned all of our trips since around National Parks. At this moment, we are a one ranger, camper household and I don’t mind being Mrs. Ranger. Since my/our decision to embrace all things NPS, I have befriended on Facebook, twitted on Twitter, followed on Instagram, subscribed to email… all things NPS related. A couple of months ago I received an email talking about the National Christmas Tree Lighting. The what? I didn’t even know a such thing existed. After seeing the star-studded line up I quickly thought about how expensive those tickets must cost. I kept reading and was shocked to discover tickets were given out via a lottery. Well shucks, I never win anything, so click click and I entered the lottery. Checking my email one day, I was shocked to see the words, Congratulations you have been chosen to view the lighting ceremony of The National Christmas Tree. Well shit, oh shit, how am I suppose to get to D.C.?

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Getting Wild Around South Padre Island

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

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While working during the lunch shift at Blackbeard’s restaurant, on the island, it wasn’t a strange thing to see a table of four occupied by two humans, an impressive camera and a great set of binoculars. When we first arrived in January, the island was flooded by Winter Texans, people escaping the frigid cold of the north. Who can blame them?  That’s how we ended up in South Padre Island. South Texas is a mecca for “snow birds”. I always envisioned our first winter in Florida, with all the other people running from the cold and snow. The type of weather which leaves you with a desire to hold up inside your camper until spring arrives. Turns out south Texas became that spot for us, while others were freezing I was wearing shorts and enjoying a nice cold beer at a beach bar.  I spent a good bit of my time working to save money when it was available but when it came time to play there was a plethora of activities in the great outdoors. So “Getting Wild Around South Padre Island” is all about the wildlife! We will save the other “Gone Wild” for a discussion about Spring Break.

thumb_DSC_6787_1024 South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

The Rio Grande Valley is a hot spot for birdwatching. On South Padre Island you can stroll the beach in the morning to watch the sun rise, bird watch by day, then be ready for dinner, live music and dancing by light fall. The nature center features 3,300 feet of boardwalk and will also give you an opportunity to see one of the many SPI sand castles. I bought a set of binoculars for my 35th birthday, own a decent camera but I am by no means a “birder”. Maybe one day… it seems like a super cool hobby. Yes, I said super cool. Flash forward 30 years and I’m an expert birder, having lunch with people I met on Facebook, and rendezvoused with, in SPI to bird watch. True story, just not mine, you hear great stories while waiting tables.  A visit to South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is guaranteed to give you a front row seat to a variety of different birds, with glimpses of turtles, fish and alligators.
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South Padre Island: Dolphin Cove Therapy for the Soul

I feel at ease and, in an indefinable way, at home, when dolphins are around. I now know when they are nearby before they appear. I dream after they leave.~ Virginia Colye

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It was just a normal day in April, on South Padre Island that three full time campers decided to play tourist, we had a great time but one of us was forever changed. Okay, it was me and honestly, typical me, but I fell for the dolphins at the cove. After the dolphin cruise I realized I could just walk over to the cove which was part of our campground at Isla Blanca.

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South Padre Island, I’m on a Boat

Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs. ~Susan Sontag

I love taking photos, and overtime as I watch the numbers of photos stored on my laptop rise, I “try” to make better choices. Yes, I can sit and delete, delete, delete which I do often but when I look back on photos from years ago I really have to ask what significance that had. To take my time to frame, snap, store, then just review to delete. I fear the delete key. I might never see that person again, what was their name? I might never return to that location so I must store hundreds of photos in case my memory fails, did I really enjoy it that much? Where am I going with all this? Good question, I have tons of photos of memories still left to get out there in blog land but I also want to get caught up to current life. That being said I had planned to just dump some photos here and then I felt compelled to tell a story. But In an effort to catch up to real life, have fresh stories and share the real me… here is South Padre Island, Texas from the deck of a boat for a dolphin watch with Breakaway Cruises.

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A Year in Review: Our First Year on the Road as Full-Time Campers

Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. ~Gilda Radner

 

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As I sit outside our camper in Cross Hill, South Carolina, I reflect back on where this year has taken us and try to envision what the next year might hold. Living in a camper was a wistful thought of how I wanted to spend my days after we retired. That tiny seed was planted and took off like a weed and in a mere six months we bought a camper. We kept the camper stored for three months before we parked it in Asheville, North Carolina and began the slow transition from living in our house to the RV lifestyle. Even after being fully moved in we stayed at our jobs and enjoyed living in the camper until the time was right. On August 23, 2015 we hooked up and rolled out on our maiden voyage.

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Celebrating… The Days of our Lives

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. ~ Oprah Winfrey

 

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Tabby out on the prowl. This cat is the energizer bunny of cats, she turns 17 this year. When I met my husband he had a Doberman and I had three cats, the story has always been interesting since Sadie, our Doberman, hates cats. We managed to survive living in a house and unfortunately over time lost two of our cats. Tabby the lone survivor and the oldest was blessed with the chance to go on the road and become a traveling cat with her beloved Doberman sister Sadie. To this day we still keep them separated which always keeps life interesting.

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Island Life

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone. ~Unknown

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Moving to South Padre Island, Texas we quickly jumped into the work force but always tried to squeeze in a stroll on the beach before work or head to a great spot to watch the sunset and grab a beer on a day off. Our campground Isla Blanca Park offered great beach access and our sunset bar of choice was Laguna Bob’s. Continue reading