February 14, 2022

The Beauty of A New Beginning

One of the weekly prompts for my year-long writing course involved the topic of beginnings. A series of questions about times, places, relationships, and experiences were designed to get me to think about times in my life when something was fresh, a new route to follow, or a new experience that left a lasting impact on me.

That simple premise took me down several interesting paths, yet the one that triggered this post was not one of those new beginning points in my life that I thought would have so much significance. My dating and marriage, a career decision? A new hobby? Sure, those made the list, but are not what rose to the top.

Becoming an RV owner and spending months away from home did. Being very much outside my comfort zone is something I normally avoid. Cautious is my middle name. Buying a 30-foot long metal home on wheels, learning how to not kill ourselves or others, understanding the complexities of dumping black water without covering myself in sewage, or backing into a camping spot without taking out a tree did not come naturally.

Betty and I had dreamed of getting away in a rolling house for several years. When we were first married we did own a Chinook, a very early type of mini RV that introduced us to the fun (and frenzy) of a mobile lifestyle. 

Even with that positive experience, though, it would be over thirty years until the subject came up again (think loss aversion). After getting over the fear of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a used RV, we did it...we joined the RV people.

At first, the experience was intimidating. With no rearview mirror, I had to depend on the side mirrors and always being aware of other vehicles and where they were in relation to us. Planning ahead for exits from freeways, where the next rest stop might be, or how to get to our campsite for the night took being constantly "on." Piloting an RV cannot be done while thinking of other things. Even songs on the radio could become distracting if I was driving through a congested area.

Not knowing all the "rules" and common courtesies did take some getting used to. I still remember the first time I walked through an empty campsite and was told, in no uncertain terms, that was not done. I was to stick to the circular drive to get where I was going; no shortcuts were permitted. I never figured out why, but I learned my lesson.

No matter what anyone tells you, emptying the holding tank for the toilet does not come naturally, or easily. There are several ways of embarrassing yourself or needing a very hot shower. Finding out your drainage hose has a broken collar or a crack happens, usually late at night. 

Over time, lessons were learned, roads traveled and experiences collected. Neither Betty or I ever second-guessed our choice or knowing it was time to bring this chapter to an end. The packing and unpacking, cleaning, repairing, and storing of the vehicle became reasons to delay trips. When that began to happen on a regular basis, we knew it was time to end things. 

Over four years we covered nearly 20,000 miles, visited 32 states, and have enough photos to keep us knee-deep in memories for a long time. The urge to try something new, to risk a new beginning, paid off very handsomely. 

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Note: As you read this Betty and I are enjoying a week at Disney World. She was there during the park's opening year, and really wanted to be part of the 50th anniversary. So, a Christmas present and birthday gift (today, Valentine's Day, is her birthday!) of this trip was a perfect choice. 

I might be a little slow in responding to your comments, but now you know why.


28 comments:

  1. Nice memories! And happy birthday to Betty!!!!

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    1. I just passed on your wishes as we have lunch in China at EPCOT.

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  2. Hi Bob! And Happy Birthday to Betty! We hope you are both having a wonderful day at Disney World and that the memories there are everything she hopes for. Neither Thom nor I am "RV people" but I do see the attraction. We like to think of our RV as Airbnb! Hoping that you both are still planning to make it out our way next month. ~Kathy

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    1. Yes, we will contact you when we return to run some dates by you.

      RV living is not for everyone, me included, until we did it. But I am happy we took the risk.

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  3. RV doesn't appeal to me. Neither does Disney. Geez, I guess I'm more boring than I thought!

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    1. Disney has become seriously expensive since reopening after Covid. And, a word to the wise, it really is best for families with younger children.

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  4. Disney World's 50th anniversary? That dates me!
    I am having a new beginning in my craft journey. I had to take everything out of my craft room so we could put in flooring and baseboards. (We bought an unfinished house and do things bit by bit.) That is now done and I am not putting back everything, because some of it has nothing to do with what I have to have that room for. It's to isolate the particulate-generating activities that annoy my husband. He's very sensitive to everything, especially animal dander and fibers. The system has worked OK but I had to make an appointment with myself to move in there. So only the necessary things are going back in, in a new arrangement, which allows me to move around and do two processes without moving anything!
    Of course that leaves the stored things that had been in there, and it forces me to complete the move of the yarn to another room, but that solidifies the identity of that other room to studio for weaving, knitting and sewing. There's storage going on in there too but when that's dealt with, it will be a lot less jumbled looking. And finally my main source of amusement will be organized! So it's the beginning of the process but I'm really happy with things so far.

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    1. You have a "beginning"
      that sounds rather extensive and a never-ending journey forward! Like painting, crafting is not the best best choice if you't stand a little disorganization!

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  5. Spending her special day at Disney World during the 50th anniversary celebration will be a wonderfully memorable experience for Betty. Please extend my best wishes to your lovely wife! And, Bob, if this is something Betty would appreciate, you can stop at the Guest Services station at the front of any of the parks (or at the front desk if you're staying at a Disney hotel in the park) and request a free "It's My Birthday" pin. Cast members are instructed to watch for the special occasion pins and extend the appropriate wishes. Even if Betty isn't comfortable with the attention and chooses not to wear it, it would still make an excellent souvenir.

    Regarding today's post . . . About 15 years ago, Alan and I decided to look into the purchase of some type of rental property as a way to diversify our income stream in retirement. It was something neither of us had experience with and it felt like a huge undertaking for a couple of conservative investors. As we worked our way through the process, we often referred to the quote we had stuck on the refrigerator: "Vision to see, faith to believe, courage to do." (If you've visited Union Station in Los Angeles, you may have seen these words on the commemorative sundial outside.) We did take the leap and were successful in our endeavor. As uncomfortable as they may be at times, I do believe that new and challenging experiences can result in a great deal of personal growth and much satisfaction.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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    1. After reading your comment this morning we did pick up the birthday pin. Thanks for the heads up. Most Disney employees did notice it and wish her happy birthday.

      Betty and I bought several rental homes in the early 1990s. We made some money but decided a landlord's role was not one we welcomed, especially with me still traveling. But, yes, it was a real learning experience.

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  6. Being a part owner of an airplane was my "RV experience." Nightmare.

    I have a picture on the road to my first trip to Disneyland in California when I was five years old. It shows a long country road with lemon trees on either side as far as you can see, and at the end (still a mile away) is the iconic entrance sign to the park. Now I don't think there is a living lemon tree anywhere close by. Things do change. Have as much fun as possible.

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. Anaheim has certainly changed. Disneyland has no room to grow, while Disney World bought enough land in Central Florida to expand to their heart's content.

      Part ownership of a plane? I have never known anyone who did that before you. I hear the same "nightmare" stories about boat ownership, but never planes!

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    2. With the expense of flying, it is actually quite common. We used to have a flying club at the University, but it is long gone. Too many headaches and too many differing opinions on scheduling and upgrades. Same issues with a partnership. I got out. I was grounded for awhile after my heart stent placement and there were too many hoops to jump through with the FAA to get cleared to fly again. I decided to hang it up. I still fly with friends who like to have a rated pilot on board so I still get to "scratch my itch."

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    3. A cousin of ours in California had a fractional share of a plane for a few years also.. and the group he belonged to rented it out as well.. interesting concept..

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  7. Happy birthday, Betty! I've never been to Disney World but Disneyland is right up the freeway so I have many happy childhood memories of visiting "the happiest place in the world." I'm more adverse to crowds now so I haven't been in years.

    I'm curious about your writing class. Is it online, or is it a local offering? I'd love to find something similar.

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    1. I gave Betty your well wishes.

      The creative/memoir writing course is a free 52 week online course has a fresh topic to write about each week. I will add a link to this comment when we get home this weekend.

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    2. Thank you! I am always looking for courses to improve my writing.

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    3. Janis, here is the address: https://www.dailyom.com/cgi-bin/courses/displaycourse.cgi?cid=1022&aff=0

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  8. Wishing Betty a Happy Birthday! What a fun way to celebrate!

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    1. Thanks, Hope. I will pass on your best wishes.

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  9. RV life -- the grown up version of the VW vans of my hippie youth. I can't imagine driving one! You were very brave. A belated happy birthday to Betty! (Man, it's hard to keep up with birthdays without social media.) Glad y'all are having a good time.

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    1. We are surviving a world designed more for the young and those who spend all day staring at their phones.

      Betty is loving it and has added at least 800 photos and videos to her collection!

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  10. We have been into RV living (for travel) for 30+ years. Tent trailer to pull trailer to Class C. First a 24 foot one and then 30 feet (6 of us and a dog). Then we downsized to a pick up and camper with a slide out and now a smaller camper (no slide out). Got this camper in 2007 and just did a truck up grade and some camper upgrades. Think it will be with us long term.
    I get the trip prep and clean up issues being a hassle, but one that we feel is a good trade off for lifestyle benefits.

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    1. With that history of campers and RVs you are in the master class of experiences. And, you have made the right decision for you...nicely done.

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  11. I retired last year and we started full time RVing last August. Still at it, still love it. Full timing has the advantage of not needing to unpack/repack. We have a 35 ft 5th wheel and I actually enjoy driving it, though my husband does the backing up. Something for me to learn in future. We had a pop-up trailer for a decade for family vacations with the kids (lots of packing and unpacking). We also rented a 28 ft Class C before buying this 5th wheel. You are absolutely right about having to learn the new lifestyle, and getting used to small things like the inability to use the rear view mirror. I haven't heard that cutting into empty sites is a no-no, but cutting through occupied sites definitely is a no-no and not everyone has gotten that memo! We've been lucky with the black tank. Connecting, dumping, and disconnecting have been what I call "dry" tasks, with a Lysol can for abundant disinfecting. Thank you for your insightful post.

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    1. It is an adjustment that takes time and being open to learning new skills. I only had one messy black water episode: the hose split!

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