Monday, February 18, 2013

Take Time to Smell the Roses -- Mon., Feb. 18

Temp: High 79, Low 46

I sit here in our 5th wheel with all the windows open, looking out on a gorgeous south Texas day. A nice breeze blows through the windows. I am calm, content and happy enjoying this simple life. I have time to think and reflect.

Many neighbors in the RV park are Canadians, and others from Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan are here in south Texas snowbirding. Snowbirding, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, means people who live in cold climates who head south when their weather takes a turn for the worse. They may stay in southern climes for a week, month or all winter. Their reasons for going back home to the north are many: family is there, it gets too hot in the southern states in summer, they enjoy the change of seasons in their home state/province, they have a sticks and bricks house to take care of, all of their infrastructure is back "home" (doctors, dentists, clubs, work, hairdresser, familiarity, volunteer opportunities).

We have been full-timing "on the road" for a year and four months. Our aim when we started was to workamp our way around the U.S. as we do not have the means to retire. We wanted to see beautiful sights, explore museums, go to National Parks, hike to waterfalls, learn more history, and experience local cultures.

Our first year, we traveled a lot, pausing to workamp along the way: in Fernley, Nevada for two months; Bob worked for three months in Sparks, NV; then we we traveled to Texas in April, sightseeing along the way. Our goal in Kerrville, Texas was the RV-Dreams rally put on by Howard and Linda Payne.

After the rally, we needed to work again. Through blogs and word of mouth we heard about gate guarding in south Texas. Gate guarding is a 24/7 job where you park your RV at an oil field gate and log vehicles in and out of the work site. Usually couples work this job, each one taking a 12-hour shift (or whatever shift schedule works for you) to make sure there is always someone guarding the gate. Our company paid by the day and we received a paycheck every other week. There were virtually no expenses other than food and incidentals because (1) the company provided the campsite, water, power and black tank pump out; gray water was drained into the dry Texas soil; (2) most gates are a distance from town so you can't just run in and spend money every day; and (3) since one person needs to be on the gate, you can't go anywhere together unless you find someone to babysit your gate for a few hours. We ended up gate guarding in June and July 2012.

You may or may not like gate guarding. Bob went stir crazy. He always needs to be doing something. Both of us did not like the fact that we could not go out on dates and get away from the job. Add in a blazing hot Texas sun, blowing dust getting on and into everything, company generator breakdowns, H2S gas fumes, incredible amounts of bugs, and slippery, sucking mud if there was a downpour, and we decided gate guarding was not for us. We lasted two months and thought that was doing very well. We know people, however, who love it and do it for years--although a lot of those gate guards only work in the fall and winter months.

Bob wanted to go back to working full time and found a job as Controller with a small general contractor in San Antonio in July of 2012. When he applied for the job, he explained to the owner that we love to travel, live in a 5th wheel, and would want to spend time traveling if he was hired. Michael, the owner, understood and gave his blessing. Bob was hired. While we are on the road, Bob checks in with the company and does work by phone and internet. I love this digital age!

In 2012 we took a six-week driving trip in our 5th wheel to Yellowstone and other points of interest to and from the park. On September 21, I had a nasty fall while walking in downtown Corpus Christi. Can you say face plant of the worst kind? I was in Emergency at two different hospitals, spent a day in ICU, had surgery on my face and was released four days later with my jaw tightly wired shut so my broken upper jaw would heal. Our planned trip to Australia was in jeopardy. There was no way I was giving up our trip to Australia. We had paid for the trip using Hawaiian Air Miles Bob had earned while working in Hawaii and our lodgings were timeshares we had saved up. So I went to Australia with broken teeth. (Thankfully the wires came off my jaw a few days before we left.)

At the end of October, we flew to Oregon, Hawaii, then Australia and had the most wonderful four-week vacation in Australia. (You can read all about it in my blog.) Bob was able to walk the Honolulu Marathon in December with the marathon buddies he made during our five years living in Hawaii. [Note: For those of you who weren't reading back in 2011, both Bob and I lost our jobs due to budget cuts within five days of each other. We could not longer afford our house in Hawaii, decided to sell everything, move to the mainland, buy a 5th wheel and pick-up truck, and live full time in our Rigamarole--Rig for short.]

Bob is very happy at his job and has been responsible for hiring a few new employees. Our plan now is to stay in San Antonio and take trips from here: New Orleans in March and Michigan from mid-September to mid-October. We stay flexible because, as we have found out, you never know what is going to happen in life.

We are making great friends in the RV community, most of whom we have met through blogs or through friends of other bloggers. So I say again, "Ain't life grand?" I see us continuing to be vagabonds, nomads, gypsies for quite a few years. It's an economical lifestyle and we always find fun things to do. We are getting to know San Antonio and the surrounding areas through our walks and sightseeing.

It's been a change from our original plan to keep moving, but it is very satisfying to really get to know a place. I can see this being the way we continue our RV lifestyle. Eventually we will make our way around the country, but there's no reason to rush. We take time to smell the roses.

In March, my mom and sister will be staying in a cabin here at the RV park for a week. I will play tour guide and we will be roaming all around San Antonio, the Hill Country, taking a trip to Corpus Christi, and letting them see Texas as we see it. (They've never spent any time in Texas.)

Tomorrow we are going to Steve and Mona Liza's MH for happy hour and food. We sure hit it off with them. I will take over Sequence as they have never played it. They did a bike ride this morning on the Riverwalk south of the RV park. After their ride Mona Liza brought over four books for us to read. She is such a spitfire. Steve has another project he's working on today. A very enjoyable couple.

For our friends who like four-wheeling, you may want to subscribe to Mello Mike's blog. From time to time, he posts great 4x4 trail info. For example, his blog of February 18, 2013 is about the Montana Mountain 4x4 Trail in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

Welcome to new blog followers Nan and John. I did not see a blog link for them. Nan and John, if you see this, could you please leave a comment with your website so I can share it? Thanks for joining us.

Travel Bug happily blogging about life as we experience it. Here's a pic of Sunnie and Bowie...

If I sit down to watch TV, I instantly have two cats in my lap.