Come sit awhile, friend, and watch the fish jump

Debbie and I walk the resort’s perimeter in late evenings, usually a three to four mile walk. Daytime temperatures are in the eighties. It is always cooler after dark, sometimes there is a nice breeze. And, walking between supper and bedtime feels so good, wears us out well. We’ve always enjoyed walking and talking together. And Debbie and I talk for four miles.

Last night we reviewed how we felt about our past six months’ pace, contrasted against the previous nine months. You remember, don’t you, we moved around pretty quickly last year. We’ve recovered fully but still think about it. Only by remembering the past can we avoid repeating it.

We set up and broke camp a sizzling 74 times in 2008. This is no big deal for some people. I’m sure this is nowhere close to a world record or anything. Many, many people doubtless do more. We haven’t met them, but we’re sure they’re camping and traveling right now. Or they gave up, worn out. They’d reply to this challenge, but they don’t have time — they’re setting up and breaking camp twice a week all year. Just doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflecting, relaxing, and really getting to know people.

I’ve said it in so many ways and you already know where we stand on the issue of rushing about — at least for 2009. Let me say it one more time anyway. We plan to stay longer in nice venues. We did not plan to zoom around our entire first nine months of full-timing. And once we figured out what was happening, we were already locked into four back-to-back commitments spanning from May 6 through October 5. We weren’t thinking. As Rich Luhr commented to me, we were “at an all-you-can-eat buffet of travel opportunities. . .” And we gorged ourselves until we couldn’t take any more.

Okay, enough about 2008. How’s 2009 going to shape up? Are we impressing anyone besides ourselves with our new calmer, more frugal, more friendly lifestyle? Again, let me quote a friend who wrote last week saying essentially, “Jim, your faithful readers are dying on the vine waiting for you to write again”. Life is so much calmer for us, while still busy, I tend to think things are less remarkable and not as exciting to share. Or, I’m being lazy again and have fallen out of the good habit of writing about the enjoyable things we’re doing even as we manage to drive a fraction of what we had driven by this time last year.

Last year we left home February 1 and stayed a couple days in Kannapolis, NC in the driveway of Debbie’s parents. By mid-March we had camped in Punta Gorda, Orlando, Punta Gorda (again), Sarasota, Dade City, St George, SC, Kannapolis, Aberdeen, NC, Kingsland, GA, St Augustine, FL, Ormond Beach, FL, Melbourne, FL, and St Marys, GA. And piled a lot of driving/towing miles on doing it.

We wouldn’t take anything for our experiences of 2008. We had wonderful and memorable trips. We met and spent time with wonderful and loving people. We zoomed around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest states. We traveled almost the entire length of I-5 three times. (Hey, professional truckers do that in a week!) This was a phenomenal first year, full of greatness for us. But it was a little too much. No, it was way too busy and frenetic.

By contrast we have, since January 1, 2009, been in Okeechobee, FL all of the time except a week we spent in Christmas, FL and Orlando, FL for an amateur radio rally and Hamfest. We spent one day trip in Sarasota and Venice with Jerry and Ann Hall. We left the Airstream in Okeechobee and spent two nights in Tampa for the RV SuperShow. (I cannot believe I didn’t write about THAT yet. Things to tell . . .) We drove to the beaches last week. (Another great thing to write about — or I’ll wait until we do it again!)

We’re meeting people and making good friends. We’re learning a lot of things new to us, including waltzing, polka, shuffleboard, and several fun card games. We have a fine and safe place to walk. We enjoy the little fitness room. I’m playing more golf than ever before. And I’ve found tennis games as often as I will get myself out there to play.

These extracurricular activities take time and are worth every minute. We’re going to try to do some sightseeing before we leave the area. We’d love to get to the Florida Keys, the Everglades Visitor Center, some more beaches, and a few local things in Okeechobee County. These many activities are available because we’re staying in one nice spot long enough to enjoy ourselves. And we are enjoying this, greatly!

We will, in 2009, travel again. We’ll visit St. Augustine soon, and Perry, GA and Atlanta and Dayton and Ramsey, IL and Bay City, MI and Madison, WI. All these we might visit before August. We want to go to up to the Pacific Northwest again, more slowly this time.

All these places and more, we hope to feel like we are visiting them slowly and really savoring them. Come sit awhile and watch the fish jumping, friend. . .

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