Tag Archives: travel

We Took the Road Less Traveled

Hello, World!

The changes in our lives the last year and nine months have been huge, and as I reflect upon them today, in some ways it seems like it has been a much longer time. The 5th Wheel is so much home now that it is hard to believe we haven’t been living in it longer than we actually have been.

Three years ago this month, my husband and I listed our house for sale; it sold to the second family to view it. Within a few weeks, and much faster than expected, we downsized from an almost 2,700 sq. ft. home with a two-car garage to a 1,150 sq. ft. two-bedroom apartment in Metro – Nashville. We enjoyed our time in the Nashville area, but we kept looking for “what’s next.” My husband unexpectedly getting laid-off from the company for which he had worked 10 years was the push we needed.  Jim had been thinking for years about going out on his own in the consulting field, and this was the push he needed for that. While he was working a contract (thankfully) in Nashville and looking for the next “gig,” we hit upon an idea: We could buy and RV and travel together from job site to job site. (You see, that one contract was the only one in 14 years as a traveling consultant that he’d had a job in the state of Tennessee, and it was well-timed for him to have a job locally, so we could shop and plan for our next adventure.)

outside house kitchen front room den

 

The last day of September 2014, we signed the papers to purchase our 5th Wheel Trailer, and about two weeks later, we had our tow vehicle.  The time between the end of September and the middle of November, we continued to downsize, putting items with which we were not yet ready to part into a 10 x 10 climate-controlled storage unit. The temperatures dropped rapidly, and early for Middle Tennessee, so to keep from having to winterize the camper for three days, we began moving into the RV on the 13th of November; Jim would finish his contract the next day. The next five days, we wrapped up our move out from the apartment and got situated as best we could in the camper, which was parked at an RV park near the dealership from which we purchased the RV. We were then living in a camper with 321 sq. ft. when slides were out.

Our 5th Wheel Trailer and Tow Truck

Our 5th Wheel Trailer and Tow Truck

Then, we headed out to try our hand and RVing by going to Lake Guntersville, Alabama, for a three-day stay. Then, we moved to a campground just off I-65 near some of my family; we stayed there five weeks, really just shy of five weeks since we left for five days to take the camper to Paducah the week of Christmas 2014 to visit Jim’s side of the family.

Our view from the site at Lake Guntersville at sunset

Our view from the site at Lake Guntersville at sunset

It was so cold the winter of 2014, and Jim had no contract yet, so he suggested we go toward the Gulf Coast; we did, and I was so glad. We stayed in southern, Alabama slightly over two months. Then we moved to the Mississippi coast for another month. While in these two locations, Jim worked a 5-week contract – mostly remotely – for a hospital in Colorado; he then worked a 3-week contract with a hospital in Massachusetts while I hung out in Mississippi. Jim flew back and forth, so we got to get play in the warmth of the Mississippi coast together over the weekend.

Entrance to campground where we stayed in MS; the Gulf Coast is across the road.

Entrance to campground where we stayed in MS; the Gulf Coast is across the road.

His next contract, and the one he is still working, was in Corinth, Mississippi, which is in the most northern part of the state where it borders Tennessee. The nicest RV park within a 50-mile radius of Corinth is located in Tennessee between the city of Savannah and Pickwick Dam, so this is where we’ve stayed for a year.  He will wrap up this job this summer, so we are excited to know that we will be traveling again in July as we’re going to make our way to Vermont to attend the Escapade at Essex Junction where we’ll get to visit with other RVers, many of whom will be full time and working on the road like us.

Our current site south of Savannah, TN

Our current site south of Savannah, TN

This is not the road of traditional Americans; it is the road less traveled, but I’m so glad we took this path.  Jim and I look forward to many years and adventures living in our camper and traveling to wherever the jobs take us. We are living and loving life after 50 and feel like kids again living the traveling lifestyle.

Be true to yourself and have a blessed day!

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Apologies for the Absence and an Update

Hello Again!

I’m so sorry it has been a good while since I posted to this blog.  Quite frankly, I’ve really been living and loving life Home on the Roam with my hubby. It has kept us hopping, and if you want to read about our experiences traveling full time in an RV, pop on over to our joint blog ajhomeontheroam.wordpress.com.

Just yesterday, as I was running errands and also enjoying the beautiful weather along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I realized it is time for me to get back to my personal blog. After four months of full-time RV life, I think we are about into enough of a routine that I can re-focus on posts here as well as helping with our travel blog.  We will move again next week, and we’ll stay in an area of about 30 miles around the city of Corinth, Mississippi for the next 15 months. While we will not spend the full time in any on RV park, we will be settled, more or less, while Jim works a long-term contract there. I hope to find a job for myself for the stay, and then if all goes well, we hope (or so hope) that we can take the last half of 2016 to travel freely and fully!

We both are enjoying the lifestyle change, living and loving life after 50 and on the roam in our rig, SyGul.

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Buying American: Supporting the U. S. in Tourism

The HH and I have been wrapping up our plans for our Great American Road Trip, which is our big trip of the year, and we are so excited. As I have thought about our travel this year, all of which is in the United States, not only am I excited about the trips themselves, but I am also thrilled that we are supporting Americans. As much as possible and reasonable, our expenditures are local to where we are at the time.  Let me explain.

We love traveling! We love experiencing other countries and other cultures, but this year our travel is dedicated to exploring, experiencing, and supporting our home: the United States of America. I have read that spending an unbelievably small amount of money each week on products and services made and performed by Americans create additional American jobs, and this is almost always in the back of my mind when making decisions on how to spend our money. Travel (tourism) is just another way to support Americans.

The week of New Year’s Day 2014, we supported Pensacola Florida. While we did stay in a chain hotel, the rest of our money was spent in local restaurants and grocery stores. The end of January and first of February found us supporting the local economy of Savannah, Georgia.  We stayed with family, and when we ate out, we ate almost exclusively in local eateries. Our entertainment was taking local tours. The middle of February, the HH was sent to work on the island of Maui in Hawaii, and I went along for about week myself. Again, we supported local as much as possible.  His company rented a local house for him, and we both ate in local restaurants and shopped in local stores.  We explored the island taking tours with local people or lessons, like the HH’s surfing lessons, from local instructors.

My husband finished his work in Hawaii, and then he joined the rest of my side of the family on family vacation in the North Georgia mountains.  While we stayed in a resort, the resort employs people who otherwise might have difficulty finding local employment. It was the local grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants that benefitted from our travels to this location from all over the Eastern U. S.

Back on the road again, the HH worked for about three months in New York, and I shared a tourist long weekend with him while there.  Yes, he stayed in a chain hotel and had to rent a car from the chain business with which his company contracts, but it was the local food and sites where we spent money that otherwise might not have been spent as we explored parts of New York and New Jersey.  We even supported one of the local baseball teams with our attendance and dinner at the stadium.

All through the year, my husband and I support local in the city and county where we live as well as in the surrounding areas; we have had a blast doing things like attending plays performed at local colleges and visiting the various local restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues in our area. Check out some of these stories by clicking here, and here, and here.

Now, my husband and I gear up for the Mother of all road trips down the Mother Road: Route 66. With our itinerary set, we’ve booked our lodging and have sights set on potential restaurants.  While fiscal responsibility requires that we use hotel points as we are able, the vast majority of our nightly lodging will be in local motels or B & Bs. Here are the names of some of the local places where we have made reservations for our trip out to L. A. and back home again.

  • Big Texan Motel, Amarillo, TX
  • Crow’s Nest B & B, Las Vegas, NM
  • Globetrotter Lodge, Holbrook, AZ
  • El Trovatore Motel, Kingman, AZ
  • Route 66 Motel, Barstow, CA
  • Prospect Place B & B, Hot Springs, AR

Restaurants will be almost exclusively the local spots along the way. Here are few that we have in mind.

  • Shoeless Joe’s Ale House, Chicago, IL
  • Houlihan’s Restaurant & Bar, Springfield, MO
  • Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo, TX
  • Kix on 66, Tucumcari, NM
  • Joe & Aggie’s Diner, Holbrook, AZ

Of course, we’ll visit many, many places along way that will include, but in no way are limited to, sites such as the ones below.

  • Lincoln’s Tomb, Springfield, IL
  • Meramec Caverns, Stanton, MO
  • Museum of Pioneer History, Chandler, OK
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Amarillo, TX
  • Pecos National Historic Park, Pecos, NM
  • Meteor Crater, Meteor City, AZ
  • Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, CA

Enjoy yourself, and help America!

 

 

 

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My Visit to New York Debunks Myths

Yankee Stadium - Photo Angela Johnson

Yankee Stadium Photo Angela Johnson

This past Thursday, instead of my husband coming home to Nashville, I flew to New York. We spent about half of the time we were together in the gorgeous Hudson River Valley of New York state and one evening at Yankee Stadium. It was better than I even dreamt it would be.

Jim knew that one of the first things I wanted to see was Sleepy Hollow, the setting of Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Having worked in the area for about a month, he had already done some reconnaissance. As a result, he showed me several places relative to the story and the author, including Irving’s grave. Not far from where we stayed was Irving’s home, but unfortunately, we did not get to go there.

Headless Horseman Statue Photo by Angela Johnson

Headless Horseman Statue
Photo by Angela Johnson

After his work on Friday, we drove up the Hudson River Valley.  Even though there was only the faintest hint of green on bushes and trees, it was evident that the river valley is amazingly beautiful.  I am so happy we did this because my only impression of the Hudson River had been made in New York City itself; I saw the river as nasty and uninviting there, so seeing its beauty was wonderful. Crossing the river, we drove back down on the west side and made it across the Tappan Zee Bridge at Tarrytown before dark.

Saturday, he and I headed to New Jersey, and that is a story for another time.  We returned to Tarrytown Sunday afternoon.  After a quick shopping trip in downtown Tarrytown (I needed a new NY sweatshirt) and a nap at the hotel, we rode the train from Tarrytown to Yankee Stadium.  Again, it was an amazing experience. Yankee Stadium is, as someone said while chatting as we waited on the train, “a cathedral.” As far as baseball parks go, I have to agree.

It was our experiences at the hotel and as went to various local places to eat that one of the biggest myths I had been told and believe was eradicated. I’d heard that New Yorkers are rude and not friendly.  Based on my long-weekend experience, this is so wrong. As we walked to our hotel room the first night, I think a half a dozen people smiled and said hello. After settling into the room, my husband and I went in search of New York pizza and a local pizzeria.  We found our spot on the west side of the river.  Our server was so friendly, and the pizza, which was huge, – Oh. My. Gosh! It melted in our mouths.

The next morning, Jim and I walked across the road from our hotel to a diner Jim had found pleasing to him for dinner, but it was his first time there for breakfast. Again, everyone was extremely friendly and accommodating.  When our food came, I had to pick my chin up off the floor; there was SO much yummy food, and it had been extremely reasonable. There was no way we could eat everything served to us. You see the pattern?

Food in Eldorado Diner, Tarrytown, NY Photo by Angela Johnson

Food in Eldorado Diner, Tarrytown, NY
Photo by Angela Johnson

We had planned to eat dinner at Yankee Stadium. I mean, how could we not have a New York hot dog while there? Since we had plenty of time before the game, we stopped on our way to our seats to get our food.  The two ladies who waited on us were lovely! There were gracious and friendly and helpful.  Later on, Jim went back to see the same two ladies for popcorn and a pretzel, and they went above an beyond.

What I learned:

  1. The Hudson River Valley is beautiful.
  2. Food in New York State is delicious, relatively inexpensive, and you get your money’s worth.
  3. People in New York are very friendly.
  4. The history in the area is mind-blowing for history lovers
  5. I want to go back!

 

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Chills All Over Me

Chills, but not the good kind, are all over me.

The HH came home from New York this past Thursday night with an unwanted stowaway – a viral “Yankee” bug. He was coughing and sneezing and began running a fever during the night. I knew immediately I was going to be in trouble, but it was not until Sunday that the truth of this knowledge became apparent. Isolating cold symptoms from the allergy symptoms I already had was difficult, but I knew there was more to my symptoms than the effects of oak pollen.

It just happened that I had a follow-up appointment scheduled with my primary care doctor for Monday morning, and he confirmed what I already knew: I had a viral cold on top of my spring pollen allergies. Of course, with viral infections, only the symptoms can be treated; antibiotics do not help. I told my doctor that my husband brought me a “Yankee” virus to which I had no defense.  In fact, this is the first cold/respiratory infection I have had in almost two years. Dr. Y said that I should consider it a good thing as it will eventually help strengthen my immune system.

That thought does not sooth me as I deal with the symptoms of my “Yankee” virus. All day long, I have been cold, just like the HH had been over the weekend. It is 70 degrees in the apartment, and I’m bundled up from head to toe with a blanket. The drainage running through my system has developed into another fun issue with which I must deal, also. I’ve coughed so much and so hard that my ribs are sore, and you don’t want to know what happens when I sneeze, especially since I sneeze hard and frequently. Not only have I felt awful,  but I also had to put my exercise routine on hold. Additionally, I’ve had to cancel my work appointments for the early part of the week at the very least. This stinks!

What do you think? In modern society, where many of us travel all over the country and the world, do you think it is a good thing to be exposed periodically to viruses from other geographical regions? Dr. Y may be correct, but from my current viewpoint, I’d rather have been ignorant of this “Yankee” cold virus.

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Explore and Experience on Weekends

This morning, my husband had the television on some program; I’m not really sure what it was.  It was the history of some pilot’s military life – perhaps more – but that is all I heard of the program.  I keyed in on the portion where the wife/widow (?) relayed how their family, while stationed in Germany, toured different places in Europe almost each weekend over the two years they were stationed there.

I’ve said over and over that it would be wonderful to live in Europe for a while so that the HH and I could do the same thing because it is so easy to travel to different countries from almost any point in Europe. Listening to this program, all of a sudden, it hit me.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

Although a good number of places within a day trip, or even a weekend trip, of where we live have already been explored, that does not mean that the HH and I cannot start taking weekend getaways from our home in Metropolitan Davidson County (Nashville), Tennessee. The chances of us living in Europe are extremely small, unless we should decide to retire there. Instead of dreaming of potential future European weekend explorations, why not act now and take weekend getaways that let us explore and experience all of the wonderful and quirky things that are a part of the culture of the United States?  It is kind of akin to the idea of “blooming where you are planted.”

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

I challenge you to plan day trips or weekend getaways to explore the world around where you live now. Get a real map and compass and draw a circle around where you live that indicates the potential area for day trips and another for potential weekend getaways. Pick a spot and plan (or not) and go!

Have a fun year exploring and experiencing your part of the world in 2014.

Angela

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“What You Do On New Year’s Day, You Will Do All Year Long” (Old Wives’ Tale)

Hello All!

It is the eve of another calendar year beginning, and the HH and I find ourselves in another travel location.  I am hopeful that the Old Wives’ Tale quoted in the title of this post comes true since we are once again traveling.   Pretty close to last minute, we decided that a short excursion to sunny Florida was a good idea, so we packed our bags, the dog, and ourselves and drove due south. Having 2014 filled with opportunities to visit other new and different places sounds like a good upcoming year to me.

If all goes well tonight, we expect to see a model of a Pelican drop at the stroke of midnight. Today, I have my eye on the beach, and perhaps tomorrow will find us perusing museums as rain is in the forecast.  What we do specifically is not as important as simply being here and doing.  Sometimes the most remarkable experiences are those upon which we stumble by chance.  Now until the time when we must point ourselves due north to once again return to the schedules, appointments, and responsibilities of our “normal” life, we have the joy of being free and spontaneous while we simply enjoy “being.”

Have a Happy New Year wherever you are!

Angela

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Another Travel Lodging Option: Airbnb

Hello All!

How many of you have heard of Airbnb?  I have a friend, a former student, who is married to a military guy stationed in Italy.  I’ve been so proud of the way she has embraced the opportunity. She and her husband when not deployed, or with her girlfriends when he was deployed, have explored as many countries in Europe as possible.  Since my former student and her husband are expecting their first child soon, they wanted to take one more amazingly memorable trip. As a result, they spent the days before and through Christmas in London.

As I read her blog about the experience, I learned that she used the website for Airbnb to find a rent an apartment in London the met their budget and travel needs. Here is the website; check it out before you travel.

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Ode to a Traveling Consultant

The HH completed an almost two-year project on the same day that we left for vacation in Europe in the evening.  He and I had a lovely 10 days. Though he knew that he’d be “on the bench” the week after our return, he did not mind. After all, he’d spent two years commuting back and forth between Tennessee and Texas as he worked on a challenging project. A week at home between vacation and his next client site was fine.

Toward the end of the first week, he was given some work to do remotely for another of his company’s clients; that kept him happily busy.  We also had appointments with doctors scattered in these weeks. By week three, he was getting antsy, emailing folks to find out if anything was “coming down the pipe.”  By week four, I could tell he was getting frustrated – understandable since this amount of off-client time had erased his utilization bonus for the second half of the year.  By week five (this week) resignation came that with the holiday season upon us it could be the first of the year before he would be on contract at a client site. The HH was home sick and travel sick, but not in the way most of us understand these terms.

Looking through our DVD stash, he wanted to watch Up In The Air, a movie about traveling consultantsHe could not find it (I’m not sure we ever owned it). My poor hubby was so desperately travel sick that he contemplated going to Nashville International, just to sit in the airport and watch as other busy travelers scurried to their flights.  Craving a night in his true home, Holiday Inn Express, he pondered traveling out of state to visit family and friends where a hotel would be in order.  Finally, common sense helped him find a different way to beat his desire to travel, his need to rid himself of the “cabin fever” engulfing him. He’d take a day trip by car to Illinois to visit his mom and children there.

Oh, to the traveling man when his bags sit idle in the corner and no boarding passes await the hum of the printer.  Tears for the traveling consultant who is denied the presence of “elves” who make his bed, clean his bathroom, and put out fresh towels daily.  With the wanderlust denied because contracts are not signed, the poor traveling consultant must endure the purgatory of his ordinary home while awaiting the next set of project orders that will once again give him wings to fly away to new day-time adventures and nights of sweet sleep in the heavenly hotel of choice.

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Plans for Germany and the Czech Republic in October

Hello World!

In less that six weeks, the HH and I will be making our first trip to both Germany and the Czech Republic.  With our departure date fast approaching, it was time to nail down our anticipated itinerary and major things we hope to do on our trip, so this was an important topic of conversation this past weekend.

If all goes well, we will spend two days in Berlin, one day in Dresden, and three days in Munich, Germany.  We will spend two days in Prague, Czech Republic. The length of our stay in each city is rounded to the nearest whole day. Full travel days to Germany from the U. S.  are not counted, and travel between cities is absorbed in the rounding method used.

Organized activities we have chosen are as follows:

  • Berlin:  Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, spending more or less time as desired at the places of interest there
  • Dresden:  One day exploring the city on our own – no organized activities
  • Munich:  Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Day Tour and a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour
  • Prague: Prague Castle and Vltava River Cruise with Lunch tour

The rest of our time will be to explore or shop as desired.  As far as food goes, one of my former students gave me a list of food items we need to try while in Germany, and I know the HH is waiting with expectation to try some of the beer. The HH and I are so totally pumped with anticipation!

Do any of you have suggestions or recommendations for our trip?

Have a blessed and happy day!

Angela

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