School’s Out

We have been up here, thirty-eight miles outside of Bend, Oregon on the shore of the Crane Prairie Reservoir in the Deschutes National Forest, an area of 2500 square miles, for about a week now. Most of the time, the weather has been down in the 30’s at night with highs almost reaching 60 degrees by mid-afternoon.  Some days, the thermometer would barely reach 40 with a stiff cold wind blowing down from the nearby mountain peaks and across the lake. The park here has about a hundred camping spots, with only about fifteen or so being used at any given time.  The trees are 100 foot tall pines mostly, with lot of spruce and fir, and the noisiest thing in the park are the chipmunks squeaking as then scurry from hole to hole. Late afternoon today, all of that changed.

Today was the last day of school for the local school district, signaling to every child that summer vacation has officially begun.  Trailers and tents, with kids in tow are now flooding it to our little paradise.  I love hearing their giggles and voices as they ride their bikes and celebrate freedom.

One of the best parts of my life what the last day of school during my elementary school years.  The next few months meant a time of absolutely no responsibility.  No getting up early, no schoolwork, no homework, no strict bedtime. I did not realize at the time that bedtime was as much to give my parents a break as it was for me to get sleep. I could sleep as late as a wanted, provided by brothers and sisters did not wake me up, which they usually did, and the bedtime rule was relaxed by about a half an hour.  Usually, I was so tired from playing hard all day, that I went to bed at the regular time anyway.  Really, the only things I HAD to do was make up my bed, keep my room clean, and take a bath.  I wonder why little boys hate to take baths, at least I did.

The way my parents knew that I had taken a bath was to check and see if my back was still wet.  It seems I never really dried it off, so that was their way of checking to see if I was telling the truth.  I figured this out when I was about six, so I tried just sitting on the edge of the tub, running the water and then splashing it on my back.  I think it worked once or twice until my mom walked in on me when I was sitting on the edge of the tub, reaching down to let the water out, and water running down my back from a soaked wash cloth.  She made me put the stopper back in the tub, and get in it.  Oh, the indignity of it all, being caught, totally naked, in a perfectly good scheme. She then closed the door and waited outside as I ranted, “Meanest woman I ever saw, making a six-year old boy take a bath every day.”  She later told me she had to cover her mouth so I would not hear her laughing.  It may have been the funniest thing she had ever heard.

I later learned that baths were not so bad if I would put a little water in the tub, then take the soap and soap up the side and my body. I could then just slide around the tub, stark naked and make a game out of it.  I got to where I could spin half way around and slide head first down to the drain.  I learned the hard way to watch out for the faucet.  Zest was the preferred soap because it was slicker than Ivory.  Then all I had to do was add water and rinse.  No wash cloth required. 

Apart from the bath taking, life in the summertime was great.  After a quick bowl of cereal, it was outside for a tough day of bike riding, sandlot softball games, games of chase or hide and seek, and tree climbing.  Our house was on a corner and had a big side yard so the neighborhood kids would gather there.  If we wanted to play softball, we would walk the four or five blocks down to the elementary school, but our yard was the perfect size for whiffle ball.  Kids today have no idea what that is, but in my childhood, that was a staple.  The bat was plastic, a little smaller than a regular baseball bat, and the ball was about the same size as a baseball, only hollow with holes all in it.  You could smack the dickens out of the ball and it would go no more than about fifty feet.  If someone hit a fly ball, it would seem to take forever to finally come down.  They would usually be rounding second base when someone caught it.  If they dropped it, the batter had an easy triple of maybe even a home run. 

I remember the way we chose teams was for the two biggest kids, because they could beat up everybody else, to toss a bat.  One would toss the bat to the other, who would catch is at a strategic position on the handle, then they would alternate putting their hands on it until the winning hand got to the top of the bat.  That “captain” would then get first pick.  You knew you had arrived as a valuable player when you were not the last person chosen.  If you were a little kid, that could take years to achieve.  

There was usually no set number of innings. We just played until we got tired, it was lunch time, or someone’s mom yelled for them to come home.  If we had to stop mid-inning and it was a close game, there would inevitably be an argument about who really won. “Your runs in the top of the inning don’t count because we didn’t get our full at-bat.  Yeah, but we had the most runs when we had to stop.”  We argued for a while, then usually got on our bikes and declared, “We won.”

Racing our bikes was other great past time.  We already knew who would win, because he always won and who would finish last, because he always finished last.  The real bragging rights were really in the middle of the pack.  Sometimes I would beat my best friends and sometimes they would beat me.  No matter, “Just wait till next time.”

Real courage, however, was determined by who would climb the highest in a tall tree in our yard.  When you are only six years old, getting up on the first branch, five feet off the ground, was the first great accomplishment.  The tree was too big to get my legs around, so I found a rope and spent hours getting it over an upper limb. I tied a knot in it so I could get on that first branch whenever I wanted to.  I remember sitting in that trees for hours, surveying the neighborhood and spying on the neighbors on their front porch.  That rope stayed in the tree for years and was there when we moved away. 

I do not remember being called in for lunch, though I cannot remember missing a meal.  I grew up on peanut and butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches, usually with carrots and a glass of milk.  Meals were just something to fill me up for an afternoon of hard play. 

There was nothing to worry about then.  Eat, Play, Sleep, that was our mantra back then.  One of the worst things that could happen was an afternoon thunderstorm, because we all had to go home then, sometimes, even have to take a nap.  That was really just the grownups way of getting us to get quiet for a while.  Otherwise, we played until dark and it was time to eat supper, or dinner if you were more sophisticated. 

I had one older brother, two older sisters, and a younger brother.  My oldest brother’s job was to cut the grass and take out the garbage, my sisters had to wash the dishes and put them away, and my job was to dry them.  It always bothered me that my sister could take a handful of silverware and swish them in the dishwater, rinse them, and declare there were clean.  I had to take each piece separately and dry them.  Why couldn’t I just swish them in the hand towel and that be good enough?  Such is the logic of a six-year old

After dinner was an hour or so watching one of three channels on our only TV, a black and white Zenith, that was in the living room.  Houses back then, at least ours, did not have a den. Then it was time for the dreaded bath and on to bed. It was great being six years old. The only injustices in the world were that the older kids got to stay up thirty minutes past their younger sibling’s bed time, and my younger brother still being a baby, his bedtime was whenever he went to sleep.  That was the worst of my world back then, baths and the first bedtime.  I think I would like to be six again. 

When God Speaks, You Have To Listen

Sometimes things just happen from out of the blue.  I was reading some news articles and came upon the one below. Take a minute and watch it.

Kids’ Video, Pleading For Kidney Donor For Their Mom, Goes Viral

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/03/29/kids-video-pleading-for-kidney-donor-for-their-mom-goes-viral/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_us+%28RSS%3A+CNN+-+U.S.%29

The faces of those kids and the simple plea to help keep their family together really touched me, way down deep in my very soul.  So I prayed, “Lord, do you want me to be the one who help this woman live?”  I wanted to be sure this was something God wanted me to do and not something I wanted to do in God’s name.  There is a big difference. So many times, I have thought of good things to do, but they weren’t necessarily God’s will for me and I did not want this to me one of those times. So I waited.  It was hard not knowing but I wanted to be sure, so I waited some more.  But God was silent. This was a huge decision.  It would involve several trips to Pittsburg for testing, then the surgery, and then the follow up visits for  couple of years.  The decision weighed heavily on me, but I know this was something I had to do.

One of my pastors, Lindsey Lewis, always said, “God is always on time, but seldom early.” I really dreaded the surgery part because I have had so many of them and I don’t have a good reaction to the anesthesia. Nonetheless, I was willing. I have also learned over the years that God does not give us an answer for us to negotiate with Him.  He only answers when He knows we will be obedient.

A few days later, I ran across the following article. 

Man buys 40 Powerades for 5th graders stranded on interstate from broken-down bus

https://gma.yahoo.com/man-buys-40-powerades-5th-graders-stranded-interstate-181124758–abc-news-topstories.html

When I got to the part where he said, “I [saw] them broke down at the weigh station and my heart sank and I felt overwhelmed,” Hayden, 36, of Gaston, told ABC News. “When God talks you listen.” 

“It just made me think of my kids sitting there,” he added. “There are still good people out there. Just seeing stuff like that, knowing that people are just driving by not doing anything for these kids, I just couldn’t do it. God wouldn’t let me do it.”

There was my answer.  I could not be one of those people just driving by and not doing anything.  So I called the transplant coordinator and spent about 30 minutes with him on the phone.  He explained the process and what was required.  He said they only do transplants where the donor and recipient are the same blood type.  Mine is a bit rare at A-, so he check her blood type, also type A.  I was feeling both excited and terrified at the same time, but there was also a peace.  The next step was to do a questionnaire on my general health. When I shared I had been treated for malignant melanoma, the process stopped.  He shared that I would not be eligible to be a donor.  My heart sank but I was also somewhat relieved.  The coordinator shared that since the story broke, they have had over 100 calls from people trying to help.  I know the right person will come forward.
 
Even though I could not help this family directly, I had the knowledge that I had tried.  I share this story, not for you to think that I am such a great guy, but to encourage you to listen for God’s voice, to be willing to do something big for a total stranger, and live with the knowledge that you tried.

 

Our Episode Number 100

I can hardly believe it but I am now publishing my 100th post since Lynette and I started our lives as full-time RVers.  I hope this website has in someway been meaningful to you, perhaps brightening your day, made you smile, given you a sense of travel, or maybe even encouraged you that you could live out your dream, too.

Lynette and I have  been having a great time, most of the time, and look forward to many more years of RVing The Country.  Sometimes folks ask how long we plan to do this. My answer is always the same, “We don’t know”.  As long as we are enjoying ourselves and are physically able to travel, that is the plan.  

We have learned so much since we undertook this adventure.  I have figured out a lot about how to drive and maintain this beast, 64 feet from the back of the “toad”, or “towed” if you prefer, to the front of the motorhome.

Roads in the United States are 9 to 15 feet wide, with interstates being a minimum of 12 feet wide with a paved 10-foot wide shoulder on the outside shoulder and 4 feet on the inside.  Most large RV’s, including ours’ is 101 inches wide plus 14 inches for each of the side mirrors for a total of 128 inches.  That means that on a typical 12 foot (144 inches) wide road, I have have about 8 inches on each side of the bus to play with.  Fortunately, most US highways and interstates are a little wider than the minimum.  As you might guess, I am a much more attentive driver than I used to be.

There are certainly things we miss, mainly family and friends, but we try to make up for being gone with phone calls, Facebook, and visiting them when we are in the area.  We certainly don’t miss the responsibility of a house and all the maintenance and expense that requires, but we do miss planting flowers and watching them grow.  

There are a lot of things we we have learned while traveling. We don’t need a big house with all of its furnishing and trappings to be happy.  Since we started selling and giving away most of our home furnishing when we sold our house, we have leaned the old adage “You don’t have your things, your things have you,” is so true.  Freedom comes with having fewer things and not more.  

Concerning purchasing an RV, we have leaned that the quality of most RVs are rather poor. The manufacturers just want to get them through the production process and let the dealers fix what they miss, then have the buyer come back for repairs and be their quality control.  The industry fights any legislation hinting at “Lemon Laws” because they knew they would have to do a better job in the process of building them.  There are also no quality rating systems like J.D. Powers or Consumer Reports that rates customer satisfaction even though the RV industry is a multi-billion dollar business.  Maybe someday.  

We are doing better with choosing campsites now than we used to be.  There are so many resources available to help pick the right spot, the trick is to find out which ones work the best for you.  We are members of “Passport America”, $49.95 per year, which offers 50% off the regular campground rates, (with lots of restrictions),  “Thousand Trails” $650 per year, which offers $3.00 per night rates at 41 campgrounds from Virginia south and west to California for up to two weeks at a time, “Escapees”, $49.95 per year, which offers big discounts on staying at 19 RV parks from Washington State to Florida, and Good Sam Club, $27.00 per year, and gives a 10% discount in most private parks nationwide.  We also use an the app, “Allstays” that lets you select Federal, State, City, County, or private campgrounds based on everything from price to amenities to locations. Rvparkreviews.com is a great resource for seeing how other campers rate the parks and Google Earth shows you a bird’s eye view of the actual location and the roads leading to it.  As you can see, choosing the right place to “live” for a couple of weeks takes some time.

One of the things we love most about traveling is seeing the difference in geography in the US. In the east, there are lots of trees and hills, but you can get a sense of being closed in since you can rarely see more than a few hundred yards without seeing trees, hills, or buildings.  In the west, there are few trees, but you can sometimes see forever.  At one place in Wyoming, I stopped at one of those roadside highway markers that had a map of the area.  It said that if you could see a particular mountain range in the distance, you were seeing a location 160 miles away.  Now that was a view.

Since retiring and traveling, I have been reading a lot more for pleasure. During my working days, most of my reading was for information and when I had leisure time, the reading was still almost always non-fiction.  Now I been reading some novels and especially enjoy reading Pat Conroy, who wrote “The Great Santini”, and “The Prince of Tides”, among many others.  My good friend Alan Davenport put me on to him and suggested his book, “My Reading Life”.  It is pretty much an autobiography and tells how he became an author and the books he read while developing his skills.  Because of that, I have bee reading the works of some Russian authors, mainly  Fiodor Dostoyevsky, “Crime and Punishment” and “Notes From The Underground”, and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”.  I make it a point to keep my blog free from any political views, but couldn’t help but notice in Dostoyevsky’s works how the liberal views of 1860’s Russia is are so much like the ones today in the US. Their premise was they have been gifted with “enlightened” thinking and the old ways are no good anymore.  It was a bit uncanny.

I am learning more about how to use WordPress and more of its capabilities for blogging and have a few upgrades in mind that I would like to learn.  It may also involve learning a little coding, but hopefully very little.  I don’t think I have the patience for that kind of an undertaking.  I will leave that to my son.

One other thing I have noticed is that I now have time to look back and reflect on my life, remembering the people who have made an impact on me and being thankful for them being in my life. I love to remember the fun times as a kid, when looking forward to play time was as far I could imagine. I had no concept of life beyond my home or school.  Now that I have grown older and experienced more, I now wonder, “What if the most successful part of life is still ahead?”  It may be, I just need to search it out.

I just renewed my web hosting service, security software, domain privacy protection, domain name registration, spam protection, site backup, and all the other stuff that comes from running a website, so if you are enjoying my posts, please drop a comment in the “Comments” section.  Nothing is as encouraging to a blogger as comments.  Also, I appreciate everyone who “Likes” me on Facebook as well.  

That’s it for for my 100th post, as Lynette and I continue, RVingTheCountry.  

 

 

 

 

I Love The Life I Have

Today, I get to travel the country with my best friend who also happens to be my wife for the last 39 years. I get to actually see and experience the places that most people only see in pictures and dream of going.

I get to meet people from all over the country and learn about their lives, their backgrounds, and what is important to them.

I get to stay in touch with my family and friends and celebrate their happiness and successes, and pray for them and try to comfort them in their sadness and defeats.

I get to experience the love of the God who redeemed me and puts people along my path to encourage me and allows me to encourage them. He shows me how to live life right and has even give me an instruction book.

I have three successful and well-respected children of whom I am very proud and have a great relationship with each of them. 

I have wonderful memories of my working career and the great people with whom I was privileged to work. Even though things did not always go as I wanted, the setbacks only made me stronger because I learned that if I wanted something, I had to make it happen.

I am healthy and pretty much in control of all my faculties.  My mind is sound and my body still gets me where I want to go, maybe a little more slowly than it used to and with a few more aches.

I have a sense of purpose and accomplishment and get to learn new things everyday.

I have wonderful childhood memories of my Dad who used to take me camping and let me ride on the Greyhound Bus while he drove.

I have comforting memories of my mom and step-mother, who loved me and helped to shape me into the person I have today.

I have great memories of my brothers and sisters, playing whiffle ball in our yard and going to the drive-in movies.

I have the choice to dwell on the negatives in life or focus on the positives.  I can think about the times I was treated unfairly or focus on the rewards I received when I worked hard to earn them. Also, I can think of the mercy shown to me when I was given blessings I had not earned.

I am thankful for life lessons, some of whom were painful, but always taught me wisdom that I can now share with others.  

I now have the opportunity and obligation to share the wisdom I have learned, and get to see the accomplishments of those I have mentored and taught.

I know that life is fragile and nothing is guaranteed, so I choose to live every day deliberately, with determination and purpose.  

Life is good, and I am richly blessed, as we are RVingTheCountry.

My Junk Mail Folder

What’s in your Junk Mail?

It’s amazing the e-mails that are sent to me that just wind up in my “Junk” folder.  Though most of the time I just take a quick look to see if there is anything useful that went there by mistake, and then just delete them, sometimes I find it amusing to take a look and see just what has been sent. 

Just this week, I received 4 offers to save money on printer toner “for one day only”, but it was sent on four consecutive days.  I am a little suspicious of this one.  I don’t think that understand the meaning of, “for one day only”.

Then there are a couple to save money on 2017 SUVs.  I wonder if anyone has looked at an e-mail and then decided, “Hey, I think I need to buy a new SUV”?   This one also seems totally worthless.

Next, I don’t think I need any “3 Day Blinds”, “Celebrity Diet News”, or “Dental Insurance.  Nor do I need a “Cruise to Cuba”. The folks who live there have been trying to get away for the past 50 years or so.

I think Mrs. Doris Omar, Exchange Manager at the Bank of Africa from Cotonou, Benin Republic is going is going to be very disappointed in her “Very Urgent” e-mail that I am not interested in a 40% stake of $12.25 million for being her foreign partner.  Darn, all I have to do is give her my bank account information.  Interestingly enough, if you Google that country, yes, it is a really place (I had to look), the first thing Google  brings up is a “Fraud Warning” from the US State Department.  I guess I will have to live with the disappointment of not having all that money.

The same goes for Princess Zenab Warlord from the Ivory Coast even though she has $27 million to share. It seems she has an evil step-mother but the Princess knows where her father hid the money.

Then there are the offers and fraud warnings from Chase, Credit One Bank, Indigo Platimum MasterCard, and USAA.  I’ve been getting e-mails about fraudulent account activity on my account USAA for a couple of years now, the only problem is I have never had an account there.

The winner for the most persistent spammer, aka, the most e-mails this week is, drum roll please, Globe Life Offer.  It seems that I am eligible for “Life Insurance For Seniors.” I suppose that since I am now so old, I need them to send me the same offer 9 times in 6 days.  You know, those of us at this age can be a bit forgetful. 

I suppose at my now advanced age, I now need services from, “IT Cosmetics”, a $150 offer for only $39.95, three offers from the “LASIK Vision Institute” for only $299 per eye.  Sure, everyone wants cut rate Laser surgery.  How about a $1.99 nose job to go with it?

Does anyone need a job that pays $300-$400 for a day of being a secret shopper?  It seems Gail Buttner has a deal for you.  All you have to do is, “CLICK HERE”.  I don’t think so.

Only two offers this week from Liberty Mutual Insurance, LifeLock and Lull Mattress but 8 emails from Match.com.  They must think I am really lonely, but Lynette and I are really doing quite well.  Unlike many married men, I am not going on there to look for Wife 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc.  Version 1.0 has been just fine for the past 38 years and still has all the features and functionality I need.  Truthfully, we are both probably version 1.8.  We have made a few modifications over the years.  Just in case, SeniorPeopleMeet.com has me on their radar also.

I’m not eligible for Medicare yet, and way past the need for Proactiv+ skin care.  It seems the spammers have both ends of the age continuum covered.  I must admit I was a little flattered about the Proactive plus offer.

It seems I also don’t need Tire Coupons, Ting Mobile, The Zebra Auto Insurance, Optima Tax Relief, or Schwan’s Home Service.  The apostrophe is actually a question mark in their e-mail, Schwan?s.  Seems they are not sure either. 

So this week, I’m not buying a new SUV or tires, changing car insurance or buying life or dental insurance, don’t need a new main squeeze, or have my eyes lasered or my face Proactiv+’d, become a foreign business partner for a princess, get new credit cards, enroll in Medicare, buy a new mattress, Cruise to Cuba, start a celebrity diet, or get LifeLocked.  I don’t have a house, so I don’t need an ADT security system or buy new blinds.

Wow, I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything this week.  Well at least anything that I didn’t really need to do in the first place.  Oh well, such is life on the road as we are RVingTheCountry.