Tag Archives: NOMADS

NOMADS in Western North Carolina

A different kind of pretty from our Arizona parking site

We have a nice campsite directly across the road from Lake Junaluska Assembly. The Assembly operates this campground for conference attendees and volunteers, like us. Volunteer work with NOMADS (Nomads on a mission acting in divine service) affords us comped RV parking. We full-timers feel like it’s a holiday from paying rents. The campground is nicely arranged and allows us to park together while allowing other RVs to park in nice spots close to or remote from us.

Big raindrops are hitting our RV and drum beat is resonating especially on our skylight. Most polite, though, this rainfall waited until we returned from this week’s final work shift. We stepped in our door to the sound of raindrops popping on the roof and the weather alert radio sounding off with its lout mechanical voice, “large hail can be damaging to buildings and especially cars. The National Weather Service recommends . . .”

Weeks and weeks pass without our weather alert radio sounding off. These past three days it has alarmed at least three times for severe weather in our county or the surrounding ones. We leave this radio in our RV in the on position at all times. The alert tone is so startling and sharp it changes our heart rate and posture instantly if we’re inside. And we’re generally not used to the alarm. Thankfully it is silent most of the time.

This week we’ve seen heavy duty thunderstorms a couple of times and lingering rains a couple of times. No hail yet, and no tornadoes. We’ll hope it stays so throughout out visit at Lake Junaluska.

We’ve worked Monday through Thursday, four six-hour shifts. Our group of twelve NOMADS meets each work morning at 8 for devotions, singing, and coffee. We hear briefly from our team leader and from the liaison from Lake Junaluska Assembly. And we march off to work — primarily painting.

This week our work included moving over 10,000 pounds of new thru-wall air-conditioning units to 100 rooms in the Terrace Inn for installers to replace the existing units. We painted two washrooms in the Jones Dining Hall and re-installed a bunch of chairs in the Stuart Auditorium. And our team prepped and painted eleven hotel rooms in The Lambuth Inn, a 100 year-old hotel on the highest point in the Assembly.

The hotel rooms painting reminds me of paint commercials from the late 1960’s — maybe you remember them? He leaves for work and she gets out a roller and a brush and some paint. Before he returns from his day at the office she has painted the entire living room. But wait — did she remove the drapes and pictures and mirror, and all the switch and receptacle cover plates? Wow! Fast worker.

A little bit of wall repair before painting

We remove drapes, linens, mattress and box, headboard, bedside table, desk, straight chair, arm chair, lamps, and cover plates. We mask the wall lamp, baseboard, and any other trim we must paint against. Only the television armoire remains in the room, moved toward the middle. We brush and roll two coats of paint. And can, with eight or ten of us, complete eleven rooms in four days. Many hands make light work.

I think our pace will pick up too. We’ve developed improved methods throughout our first four days. We understand who likes to do what and what works best for our team. We’re not in a hurry, it’s just easier and smoother for our team this way. Eleven rooms down, sixty or another hundred to go.

rocking on Lambuth Inn's front verandah

NOMADS time at Lake Junaluska Assembly isn’t only about our work assignments. We take breaks throughout the work day. And last night Debbie and I walked an hour in a few of the many residential streets above the lake. We might not be able to finish walking them all in our three weeks, but we’ll probably try. We’ve played tennis and will try to play at least three times weekly.

This evening our group is going to a favorite pizza joint in nearby Waynesville Saturday morning we’ve volunteered to help with the Assembly’s Easter egg hunt for children. Sunday afternoon Debbie and I will shop for a nephew’s wedding present and browse historic downtown Waynesville. Sunday we plan to attend Sunrise Service at Inspiration Point by Lambuth Inn, high above Lake Junaluska.

Looking south just before the storm

And whenever we get a chance, we like to stop by the lake and look. Today, amidst all the clouds, we saw sunshine onto the colorful trees across the lake from our spot. The entire area is at least this pretty. We’re lucky and happy to be here.

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr

Ark City, the NOMADS, and Camp Horizon

The NOMADS Annual Meeting ended, we said our fare-thee-wells to friends old and new, and spent a last day leisurely enjoying Forest City IA. The 560 mile trip from Forest City to Ark City KS was more than we needed to make in one day so we hit the road early the next morning for a two-day drive. We made thirty whole miles before stopping in a very pretty downtown square in Clear Lake IA.

Good friends Herb and Lois had told us about Cabin Coffee and we’d sampled and enjoyed the treat in Forest City. But hey, why not indulge ourselves again at what may be our last Cabin Coffee experience for many months? So Clear Lake was a great choice. Cabin Coffee is THE place to be Saturday mornings in Clear Lake — we had a fifteen minute opportunity to watch a lot of people coming and going, catching up and enjoying, before we earned our spot at the order window. And yes, the coffee is definitely worth the wait, even “to go”.

Properly fueled, we headed down I-35 for the next bathroom break, and the next one, and another or three before we were south of Kansas City KS to our Cracker Barrel overnight stop in Olathe KS. You know, we’ve always wanted to pay our respects, meet the help, and check out the good cooking when we stay overnight behind or beside a Cracker Barrel. And this one in Olathe did not disappoint. We enjoyed great eating and very quiet overnighting in the amply-sized RV and big rig parking behind this Cracker Barrel. Did you know their store directory has an asterisk beside every location with RV-friendly parking?

We pulled through Ark City to find Camp Horizon early Sunday afternoon. Wow, this was a great place for us and the other eleven NOMADS volunteers. Twelve of our group of thirteen volunteers in mission were in RVs, and one stayed in one of the camp’s cottages. Our camping space had full-hookups, partial shade, was close to our work areas and was just wonderful.

Camp Horizon started in the mid- to late-1940s and is a wonderful complete camp and conference center on 160 acres. The camp buildings and outdoor chapel areas sit atop a 3/4 mile long ridge with fabulous views to the south and west horizons. The skies were clear most of the time and we could see forever in both directions.

The hilltop position, one to two hundred feet above the surrounding farms and lowlands, helped a lot with Jim’s ham radio work (play!) to. He worked a station in Sao Paulo Brazil on 10 meters FM and one in Saitama City Japan on 12 meters sideband, his first contacts ever on either of these two bands. Too, Jim was able almost daily to talk with ham radio friends back east and in the Rockies. Mid-continent is pretty good for U.S. ham radio operations and atop a nice hill with an antenna strung high (40′) between two trees it just gets better.

King of the poison ivy

We weren’t at Camp Horizon to play on the radio, though. Our hosts at Camp Horizon had a page and a half of projects and tasks they asked our group to tackle. Jim and his work buddy, Cliff, spent all twelve work days (three four-day work weeks) clearing brush, felling small trees, and other outdoor work. Jim kept telling everyone this was his physical training for tennis season which starts early November. Whatever gets you through the day, Jim!

Wall prep takes far longer than painting

Debbie spent all twelve days working indoors wallpaper removal, patching, painting, organizing vast files, organizing storage areas, and carpet shampooing. Some of the work was grungy but it was all rewarding for Debbie. She could see the results of her work AND the hosts were tremendously appreciative.

Three weeks was a nice time-frame to learn an area. We visited two churches, played tennis a couple of times in the city park, visited the ice cream parlor, shopped consignment shops for more work clothes, and toured Cow Town in Wichita and the Marland Mansion in Ponca City OK.

Marland Mansion was pretty amazing and a lot sad. E.W. Marland struck oil and made a fortune early in the twentieth century. He spent a tremendous amount of money in his business, was generous with his employees, and built an extremely extravagant fifty-five room mansion. His business decisions and the markets required him to seek financial aid and, unfortunately for E.W., he asked and received “help” from some N.Y. banker named Morgan. J.P. Morgan and Co took over ownership and management of Marland Oil, merged it with Continental Oil and renamed it Conoco, and left an angry former owner by the wayside.

An imposing front elevation of the Marland mansion

Marland and his wife lived in the new mansion less than two years, and thirteen years after completing it sold it for a fraction of the construction cost. He lost his fortune but left a gorgeous house which has been wonderfully restored and is open for tours. We had a three-hour tour of the house and grounds and enjoyed it tremendously.

160 year old cabin, still much larger than ours

Cow Town in Wichita KS represents the other end of the social spectrum and perhaps seventy-five years earlier in the western states’ history. Cow Town is an outdoor walking museum containing 1800s homes and businesses moved from in and around Wichita. We walked through four homes, almost a dozen businesses from the butcher to millinery, grain elevator to drugstore. Cow Town provided us an interesting history lesson laced with great home-made cookies, ice cream, a bratwurst lunch, and a variety of entertainment.

Three four-day work weeks provided the thirteen NOMADS a great opportunity to complete the host site task list. We started every day with devotions and singing, we had fun in games and sightseeing and break times, and we enjoyed getting to know one another and the camp staff. And we worked hard on our projects list.

Our project leaders very capably and calmly guided us (and the hosts) through the list so everyone could work on what they wanted to, we exceeded the hosts’ expectations, and all felt the project was very successful. Our mission project ended Thursday afternoon.

No vinegar-pepper sauce for BBQ is no laughing matter!

Friday morning we packed up and headed in all directions. Some headed south for Oklahoma or Texas. A couple returned to Indiana. Three are from Kansas and had short trips. We headed northwest toward Hutchinson KS. And that’s a story for another day.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

Our Iowa Week with friends and NOMADS

Last year we joined a volunteers in mission group, NOMADS. We knew a little, but not much, about NOMADS when we joined. An amateur radio and airstreaming friend, Suzanne K5UUU, first told us about it and we filed the info away.

We were luxuriating in the comforts of our home (on wheels) in south Florida during February last year. Remember what happened in Haiti? We watched with horror the helplessness and needs of the Haitian people. And we realized we could do more than just sit on our duffs all the time.

So we joined SATERN, an emergency radio network operated by Salvation Army, and NOMADS, a volunteer mission group of the Methodist Church’s Board of Global Ministries. We’ve not done much with Salvation Army other than check into their nets occasionally. But we’ve completed two three-week mission trips with NOMADs and are interested in more.

This year’s NOMADS annual meeting is in Forest City Iowa, kinda sort of on our way from North Carolina to Arizona. We signed up for a 3-week mission trip in southern Kansas and arranged to be in northern Iowa for the annual meeting. We’ll let you know how the mission trip turns out, we start in two days. But first we drove from NC to Iowa and headed for Slater IA to see friends.

We were lucky to spend four days in Slater Iowa, just south of Ames Iowa, with snowbird friends Janet and John. They are perfect hosts, sharing their house AND letting us plug our trailer into their water and electricity. Okay, they actually went way over the top — they arranged tennis every day for us. How great is that?

It was fun and wonderful to have time together, sharing meals, getting to know one another a little better. We met three of their wonderful grandchildren (and their son, Jeff). They showed us around Ames, Slater, Ankeny, and Des Moines, loaned us out to friends Loren and Becky, and Raj and Chris who we also know from Towerpoint Resort in Mesa. We had a great time with everyone and wouldn’t give anything for the four days together.

One hundred miles northward and we arrived in Forest City and the Winnebago/Itasca Travel Club activity grounds. The activity center is the largest factory-owned RV site in the world, capable of hosting the entire WIT membership group at their annual Grand National Rally with up to two thousand Winnebagos and Itasca motor homes visiting.

Our NOMADS annual meeting group size is only 160 RVs so we had lots of space to spread out in the rally activity center. We parked on Sunday afternoon, met the neighbors, checked in at the registration table, and rested up for a busy tomorrow.

Our Winnebago factory tour bus

Monday morning we hopped on factory tour buses and spent almost three hours touring the factory and campus of Winnebago’s tremendous production facilities. Wow! It is just amazing how vertically integrated they are, how much automation they employ, and how nicely put together the Winnebago motor homes are. This is a really neat company making a high quality product — we are very impressed.

George Stockman house by Frank Lloyd Wright

We spent the afternoon in nearby Mason City Iowa touring a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright projects, the Stockman house and the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel. We started in the FLW interpretive center then walked to the nearby Stockman house. The Stockman house is a wonderfully restored Prairie house. The River City Society for Historic Preservation provided us a wonderful guided tour throughout this historic house.

Okay, free time is over, now the show is on. We’re here for the annual meeting of NOMADS, Volunteers in Mission. We’re first-timers, don’t really know what to expect. Didn’t matter. From the first session onward we can tell, this is a gently- but well-organized group. The meeting agendas are fully developed and the group stays on schedule. Leadership is calm, the organizing committee has done their job wonderfully, and the meetings went without a hitch.

What did we meet about? Each morning started with spirited singing, then a devotion. The NOMADS Board of Directors presented us a brief seminar each of three mornings on various topics, each topic presented by one or two different board members. So we heard from numerous directors. The most enlightening presentation was the Treasurer’s report. Cliff Shornick kept it very short and engaging: “Remember these three numbers, 15, 70, and 150.”

He explained briefly the significance of each of these three numbers in terms of financial goals and performance of NOMADS. Then he stated, “NOMADS has enough money, at the current rate of spending, to continue operations at least three or four years.” That’s all, that’s the treasurer’s report to the general membership. And why do we want to hear more? He hit the four key indicators, and anyone wanting more information can go read the annual financial report to the Board of Directors. Very refreshing!

We attended eight seminars, choosing from thirteen possible topics. Couldn’t attend all, wouldn’t have wanted to. We attended some together, split up a couple of times to cover competing time slots for two good seminars. We attended seminars on painting, sheetrock finishing, skilsaws, convection and microwave cooking, and insurance and tax tips for RVers. A broad range of topics, the seminars were well-organized and presented.

Yesterday the Board adjourned the meeting at 10:00 a.m., a few minutes ahead of schedule. We had already made our list of many things we needed and wanted to accomplish before departing today for Arkansas City KS for our three-week mission project. So we headed out from the grounds in our truck for downtown Forest City.

Hansen Hardware: going for 200 years?

Our first stops included visiting Hansen Hardware store for a saw blade, stopping at the gas station to refuel the truck, and to Farmers’ Coop to refill one of the airstream’s propane cylinders. The hardware store was the highlight of the morning’s errands for us. Hansen’s has been family-owned and in business for 100 years and is still a vibrant and well-organized store. We found the saw blade we wanted, a blade wrench (nice surprise!), and enjoyed browsing the various departments of this general store.

We re-installed the propane cylinder on the trailer and walked to the nearby WIT Club and Winnebago Museum building. We spent our first hour browsing the open motor homes and trailers outside the visitor’s center. We already mentioned the quality we found throughout the manufacturing processes. These were evident in the models we toured too.

Our favorites are the Winnebago View, a 24′ motor home on a Mercedes Sprinter diesel-powered chassis, and a 28′ and 30′ Itasca motor home with full-time beds and all the features we would want if we moved into a motor home. No, we have no designs on changing from our wonderful 25′ airstream home. But we do like to look and the Winnebago brand has a lot of good stuff to look at. We spent another hour browsing the museum and visitor center and enjoyed learning a little about the background and founder’s history.

But we had to scoot, it was time to play tennis. We had rain and very windy days all week until Friday and also only then gained free time to play. This worked out perfectly — the weather was in the low 60s with no wind and sunny skies. Just right for hitting tennis for an hour on the Forest City rec park courts near Waldorf College campus.

the only thing nicer is what's inside the cups

Then off to Cabin Coffee before they close — why close at 4:00 p.m.? Because they can? And hey, we can make it there in time, if we don’t stay too long at something else. Apparently this was true for a lot of other people too — Cabin Coffee had a fine and boisterous crowd of teachers, businessmen and RVers stopping in for a cup of the best coffee in northern Iowa. Thanks to Herb and Lois for recommending Cabin Coffee to us.

Nice way to end a great week!

The week ended, NOMADS’ annual meeting adjourned, and the sun set on our Forest City experience. Although we only were there one week we felt already at home. We were with 300 wonderful fellow NOMADS, we were in as friendly a town as we’ve ever visited, and the weather turned nice at the same time we gained free time to enjoy it. This sunset in Forest City is part of our warm memories of our visit, and we’ll look forward to returning.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

NOMADS, a United Methodist Committee on Relief Mission

What can nine old Methodists accomplish in a few weeks? We spent three weeks in Lake Worth and Delray Beach FL working with seven other people performing volunteer work for the community. None of our group’s members worked together before this period but we melded wonderfully. We accomplished a tremendous amount of much-needed work.

Who are NOMADS? NOMADS stands for Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service – NOMADS provide volunteer labor for United Methodist organizations. NOMADS demonstrate God’s love through our work and by listening to the people with whom we work. We do new construction, remodeling, and repairs for churches, children’s homes, camps, colleges, outreach missions and disaster recovery. Team members do maintenance, cleaning, organizing, painting, electrical, drywall, sewing, flooring. NOMADS do it all!

We work three-week sessions in a location and can choose from sessions all over the country. Some joke NOMADS are Numerous Old Methodists Avoiding Deep Snow. It’s true we can find work locations with good weather most of the year. So we prefer to think of NOMADS as Numerous Old Methodists Actually Doing Something. And NOMADS provides us retirement with a purpose!

Look at this sampling of what our team accomplished over the past three weeks in Palm Beach County at two locations:

Week 1
Painted courtyard walls and kitchen wall behind fridge
Stuffed newsletter mailings
Replaced damaged section of kitchen floor
Replaced hardware and gaskets in bathrooms
Cleaned shelves, walls, ceiling fans, lights, conduit, vent covers, floor fans
Cleaned up, mowed, pruned, weeded, edged, lawn
Prepared meals and served beverages
Cleaned and repaired commercial food warming trays
Sorted meds and first aid supplies
Painted kitchen, restrooms, pot wash room, double doors, stage floor and front
Packaged and distributed meats and produce to clients
Adjusted brakes on client’s bicycle
Replaced safety ropes by bike rack
Unloaded frozen chicken from delivery truck

Repaired stall doors and repainted
Repaired plaster at window
Painted doors, stalls, arch
Power-washed cans, mats, and cooler shelves
Painted cooler shelves
Washed storage bins and rearranged storage
Moved all chairs and tables to outside, scrubbed clean
Swept, mopped, stripped and waxed dining room
Cleaned kitchen vent
Replaced cooler shelves and restocked
Cleaned and organized paper storage closet
Inventoried and organized “flood buckets”
Sanded and second-coated double doors
Planned and estimated materials for fence and gate

Scrubbed, primed, and painted north wall of fellowship hall
Repainted large entrance sign
Set fence and gate posts
Installed braces for pan shelving
Painted second coat on stage front
Removed and replaced jalousie window with double-hung hi-impact
Emptied walk-in cooler and cleaned floor, replaced all contents
Checked and re-lamped exterior security lighting
Packaged health kits and distributed to clients
Removed damaged refrigerator to curb from client’s house

CROS Ministries (Christians Reaching Out to Society) and Caring Kitchen are wonderful agencies providing for a multitude of Palm Beach County’s needy people. We are privileged to have worked so closely with them these past three weeks doing anything the agencies asked of us. And it was a wide variety of services! We will look forward to our next mission trip with NOMADS.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

Three busy weeks in Florida

Seventeen days we’ve spent in Florida this year.  While we miss Arizona, Florida has treated us very well.  Rain, what very little we’ve had, has come only in the wee hours of the morning.  Temperatures daily have averaged 75 degrees.

Okay, humidity is consistently above 70 percent and the palmetto bugs and lizards are conspiring to either lift our trailer to their favorite spot or invest in condos within.  These aren’t problems, yet.

We’ve been busy again!  Our first week we visited in Orlando with ham radio friends from all over the states.  Hamcation, organized by the Orlando Area Radio Club, is a fun hamfest with especially user-friendly features.

We parked our RVs in a cozy cluster alongside a pretty lake in the regional fairgrounds.  The professional vendors rented space in the fairground’s show buildings while tailgaters showed their wares throughout the twenty-odd acres of open field parking surrounding our RV area on three sides.

Our favorite aspects of this Hamcation “rally” are the daily socials with our WBCCI and RV Service Net friends and the proximity of the hamfest to the RVs.  We can saunter over to the vendor show, cruising the  tailgater area along our way, and shortly we slip back to our RVs awhile.

We can test our purchases, think them over, decide to double or return them, or return to the vendors and ask another question or three about something we didn’t think of (of course) while we were there.  Very very convenient and unlike any hamfest we’ve attended anywhere.  And we have a lot of fun!

Our second week we spent in Sarasota with the WBCCI Florida State Rally (FSR), again at fairgrounds.  Unlike our cozy cluster of fifty RVs in Hamcation’s rally area we now are part of 335 Airstreams packed tightly in four parking areas.  And in the Sarasota County Fairgrounds we are inundated by dust from a constant stream of cars and golf carts and RVs zipping by just in front of our parking space.

The FSR is a well-organized event with nightly entertainment, daily games, a petite but interesting vendor show (approx 25 vendors), and Airstream friends from all over U.S. and Canada.  Again we were active with our ham radio club friends too, hosting a couple of socials, participating in the FCC licensing exam and talking antennae and gear.

This week we enjoyed a dinner and Bible study at Cason Methodist in Delray Beach.  We studied a few dozen verses of Acts together after a nice meal together.  We’re camped behind St Paul’s Episcopal in probably the only rv parking allowed in the city.  The staff and congregation at St Paul’s have been wonderful hosts and we appreciate them greatly.

Yesterday we completed our NOMADS project’s first of three week in Lake Worth and Delray Beach.  Nine volunteers, including us, assembled Sunday afternoon to provide cleaning, repairs, and painting to Caring Kitchen and CROS Ministries.

We’ve painted a large breezeway and repaired damaged kitchen flooring and door hardware at Calvary Methodist in Lake Worth.  At Caring Kitchen we’ve  sorted and bagged vegetables and meat, helped prepare meals, handed out food bags, cleaned, painted, unloaded food trucks, cut and edged the lawn, trimmed shrubs, and cleaned the parking lot.

Nine people working six hours daily can accomplish amazing things.  A lot of work we are providing is a drop in the bucket compared to the agency’s needs.  A few improvements might last but Caring Kitchen depends upon constant daily input from many many volunteers.

I counted yesterday almost twenty volunteers at one time working to sustain the daily operation.  Only three paid staff members, tons of donated food, and dozens of volunteers all come together to provide over 100,000 meals annually to hungry people locally.  April, Guillermo, and Sister Mary Ann are incredible multi-taskers, orchestrating an amazing array of resources and needs to calmly and consistently keep this operation humming.

Debbie and I celebrated last night completing our first week’s work.  We walked throughout Delray Beach’s downtown business area.  Several blocks are saturated with restaurants, many with outdoor dining.  Interspersed are art galleries, high-end boutiques and clothing shops. We were interested to witness so much affluence only hours after helping serve so many very needy people.  What a contrast!

The sun’s up, Debbie’s not, I’m enjoying listening to the cocks crowing and the birds singing their good morning songs.  I’m on my second cup of tea, today’s the first day of our three-day weekend.  Life is good.  We’re in 75 degrees, skies are fair, we’re healthy and well-fed, we have a bed and shelter.  We have it so very good and we’re grateful.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

Dreamstreamr’s Best of 2010 — a short personal list

2010 was one of our best years in many ways.  We haven’t had a bad one, mind you.  We realized today we started Airstreaming seven years ago this year.  Four of the less than seven we’ve been full-time in our 25′ Airstream travel trailer.  All four years have been wonderful, exciting, different and often surprising.

What made 2010 great and different? A thumbnail sketch includes these things:

  • participating in a WBCCI Airstream caravan;
  • staying a month in Gillette;
  • visiting the oldest hamfest in the world;
  • visits to over a dozen national parks (and we’ll try to narrow it down to the best one;)
  • fun in Vancouver with our granddaughter;
  • three weeks volunteering with NOMADS, a United Methodist mission;
  • making a couple of smart purchases; and
  • stays at a wonderful pair of resorts.

Rainbow Bridge

We spent six wonderful weeks touring America’s southwest on a WBCCI Airstream caravan led by our friends Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague. We were delighted to gain precious friendships with couples we hadn’t already met before the caravan while deepening our relationships with those we traveled with before.  And the six-week

Mule ride thru Bryce Canyon

guided tour throughout our country’s southwest was wonderful.  Our caravan leaders arranged tours, boat rides, and other special treats we either would have missed by scrimping or just wouldn’t have known about on our own.  Too, we enjoyed the company of many friends while trying to absorb the wonders in six weeks of sightseeing.

A month in Gillette WY allowed us time to really mine the area, so to speak.  We  toured one of their incredible and gigantic coal mining operations — nothing at all like the media makes it out; eat wonderful bison rib eye steaks at The Open Range Restaurant in Wright WY; tour the Wyodak air-cooled electrical generation plant;walk downtown Gillette; play tennis in Campbell County’s

That's a big pickup

incomparable municipal recreation center;  join the local ham radio club for breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen; browse and restock on electronic parts and custom cables from Chris Supply; participate in amateur radio’s annual Field Day with our WBCCI Amateur Radio Club; enjoy terrific convention management by the CAMPLEX staff; and celebrate another successful annual Airstream WBCCI rally.  We had a great month in Gillette!

best place for a hamfest

More than two years ago Dave Blum kf4gtj (SK) and Jim wanted to briefly slip away from our Airstream caravan’s tours for a look at the oldest continuously running hamfest in the world, the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest.  Dave and Jim didn’t make it then but it remained on their bucket list.  We (Jim and Debbie) put it on our agenda for 2010 and enjoyed a week in East Glacier with the best international group of hams we’ve been with.  Great weather, great scenery, great radio folks — This was a fine week.

North Rim Lodge

Debbie and Jim are divided on which was the best National Park we visited — North Rim of Grand Canyon, or Zion, or Mesa Verde.  We visited probably at least a dozen throughout 2010.  These three were our clear favorites for the year, and all were stupendous for roughly similar reasons.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde wins out for being the least crowded and still providing stunning history and scenery. Zion has incomparable hikes and public transit and a very accessible but separate town site.  North Rim gave us an inch of overnight snowfall, very nice days, such a great old lodge, and more views than we ever could have imagined.  How do you pick one best one?

Cradlepoint router

Hands down, no equivocating, our best purchase for the year is our Cradlepoint CTR-500.  Our Airstream trailer is a mobile WIFI hotspot and we are radioactive!  Okay, only figuratively, but for us nothing beats the convenience of our own mobile wifi network.  We work three laptops, an iPad, and an iPod Touch.  Friend Bob Simms highly recommended the Cradlepoint to us, and we owe him many megabytes for our happiness with local wifi.  All devices tune effortlessly and quickly to the wifi, the Cradlepoint can support up to 32 devices at a time (but please don’t ask us to share, okay?), and we don’t mess with VZ Access anymore.  Wifi is good.

We don’t usually stay in resorts, national or state or provincial parks are more our speed.  But several years we have stayed in two resorts, one in British Columbia and the other in Mesa AZ.  Burnaby Cariboo RV Resort 17 km east of Vancouver BC is really really nice.  But Towerpoint Resort in Mesa has it beat hands-down.  Towerpoint is a  premiere tennis resort with five gorgeous hard courts, two hot tubs, two swimming pools, and too many excellent facilities to mention.  If we weren’t tennis players, we’d find plenty else to occupy us at Towerpoint.  And the people are wonderfully friendly and supportive.  Towerpoint is clearly the best resort we visited last year and we look forward to many more visits.

building a shed at Ocean Park Retreat

The best short description for our past year is “active”.  We saw a lot, participated in a lot of guided tours, hiked and toured many places, volunteered three weeks at Ocean Park Retreat on Washington state’s coast on mission work with NOMADS, played tennis all winter in Mesa AZ — we had an active year.  Yet we moved fewer times, stayed longer in places.  Three months in Okeechobee FL, a month in Gillette WY, five weeks on Washington state’s coast, three months in Mesa AZ.

We might be getting the hang of this full-timing thing, living throughout the continent.  Life on the road as full-timers, as a recent responder reminds us, isn’t vacation — it’s life (thanks, Sue, for the excellent phrase) on the road.  Our house has wheels, but it doesn’t require constant rolling.  We can stay in one place awhile if we want. We’re enjoying our environs more as we dig a little deeper in each locale.

You’ve absorbed all you can in one reading — we’ll save some highlights from last year for another day.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr

Another advantage to full-timing

We played cards until late last night, eating fresh-baked cookies (thanks, Jen) and relaxing with Bob and Faith.  Bob’s and Faith’s house in Boise, Idaho, was a nice stay for us the past week.  We parked our rig by their driveway in front of their motor home, had 15 amp electric service, and enjoyed staying the week with them.

The weather has been cool, mostly sunny, and wonderful for working outdoors or indoors. We arrived Sunday afternoon from Emigrant Springs, 26 miles south of Pendleton OR, where we had one more delightful campfire in a nice old state park.  Emigrant Springs is one exception to our rule against staying in a park close to the interstate.  The campground is really really nice and too bad about the traffic out there — we have great trees and nice comfort stations with hot showers and it’s so pretty.

Earlier this year we posted here about our “top ten” advantages of full-timing.  We fully intended, well before now, to expound upon the same.  Finally, we’re talking about full-timing advantages again.

Our house-on-wheels allows us to park anywhere we want, for as long as we can, to do as we will.  This week we have spent time with good friends in a nice mid-western city with very nice weather.  Bob and Faith have been full-timing three years and lost their renter this year.  So we want to help prep their house for sale.

We’ve had fun working with Bob and Faith on their house, mostly some small repairs and painting.  Debbie painted a bunch of  closets and a stairwell.  Jim repaired, scraped, primed, and painted siding, soffitt, and fascia on the second story and did a little trim work inside.  And we all worked on taking down an old cedar plank fence along the back yard’s perimeter.

You might, or not, like doing painting and house repairs for more than a week.  We spent 3 weeks last month working with NOMADS at Ocean Park Retreat in southwestern Washington state, and this week getting our fix on home maintenance.  Sorta reminds us of watching other people’s children, pets, or houses to inoculate you against catching any must-have desires.

We totally don’t miss owning our house (see Time Magazine’s Sep 6 2010 article on re-examining home ownership) for multiple reasons.  Our house was a really nice house in a fantastic location, walking distance to our church and dozens of restaurants and  bars and jobs.  A 3,000sf house, with its upkeep requirements, might be just the thing for a couple of retireds lacking much else to do.

Who has not much else to do?  Perhaps we could maintain our house in a few weeks annually and spend the rest of the year going where we want when we want doing what we want.  Or the house might just suck us in, require lots of time to get it really fixed up the way we want.  After all, we have time now.

Ah, but we don’t want to paint and repair on our own house.  We don’t want to spend a couple of days on spring cleaning.  We don’t want to spend weeks getting rid of stuff we never should have accumulated in the first place.  We don’t want to ceaselessly (it seemed) trim the shrubs and beds.  We don’t want to pay the insurance and taxes and utilities on five or ten times the space we really live in.

We really do enjoy painting and repairing for a few days with friends.  Invite us over, give us parking, utilities, meals and beer, and we’ll work with or for you.  The tasks don’t daunt us because we can’t see the big picture.  We only know the tasks we might tackle this week, and we aren’t burdened by knowing how much there is to do.

Helping friends is less like work for us, perhaps because we approach it as a short-time gig.  This is a chance for us to visit Boise, visit with Bob and Faith, and help them a little.  Okay, you’re thinking, this is their fun but is it attractive to others?  How is this an advantage of full-timing?

The advantage in full-timing, for us,  is the flexibility it affords us.  Wanna go on a caravan next year or the year after?  Okay, sign up anytime and plan on it.  Wanna stay in Arizona this winter and play tennis?  Okay, plan on it.  Wanna change your mind and not go on caravan in 2011, and instead hang out in the Carolinas all summer?  We can do it.

Don’t need to find anyone to rent or watch the house.  Know where we’re going to live, and almost always can find a place to park our house.   Can make changes pretty rapidly when needs so indicate.

2010 represents a pretty flexible and varied year for the dreamstreamrs.  We spent 3 months in Florida, a few weeks in North Carolina, a couple of weeks traveling west to join a caravan, six weeks on the caravan, a month in Wyoming for the Airstream club annual rally, another two weeks in Montana, three weeks in Canada to visit Deb’s daughter, five weeks in Washington state including three weeks in Ocean Park for a NOMADS project, and a week in Boise with Bob and Faith.

And that’s just the first three quarters of 2010, we have lots of fun still to come.  Were we still home owners we might not spend twenty-eight of the first thirty-six weeks away from the house enjoying a tremendous variety of activities in a great range of locations from Florida’s Atlantic coast to British Columbia’s and Washington state’s Pacific coasts.

Full-timing allows us to not only visit but to stay in places for weeks at a time exploring eateries from Stern’s book, Road Food.  National parks, monuments, and historic sites are often near our routes and we try to catch them.  Sometimes we get to swing by and visit with friends along the road.  Sometimes we make new friends, too.

Our house goes with us, and our basement and attic and Jim’s shop (such as it is, the truck’s tailgate is Jim’s shop).  So we have our stuff with us wherever we go, and don’t worry about how the house fairs in our absence.  No issues renting it for a season while we travel.  No deferred maintenance while we go away.  We’re always away and we’re always at home.  It feels great.  Let’s go another season, eh?

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Long Beach peninsula to Columbia River Gorge

Six volunteers can paint a 10 X 20 woodshed in a couple hours

Our first work project with NOMADS ended Thursday afternoon at Ocean Park Retreat Center.  The day before, we completed painting the 10′ X 20′ woodshed and started splitting wood to fill it.  Our team finished filling it yesterday, cleaned up a couple cubic yards of bark, cleaned our breakroom, then started preparing for our first trip in three weeks.

The team split and stacked a huge pile of firewood to fill the shed

Building the shed was an intrigue for Jim — he hadn’t built anything like this in a few decades.  It worked out fine, for a barn.  Jim made a few notes as the building progressed and looks forward to another opportunity to regain some of his long-ago skills as a carpenter.  Deb learned to operate the front-end loader, hauling un-split wood from behind the shed to the hydraulic splitter in front.  She developed a great feel for the tractor.  Now she wants one.

The salt air made quick work of highlighting every bare spot of steel or iron and created extra resistance for hinges on everything.  Prepping for travels east from Pacific coast we lubed hinges on trailer and truck cover, and they don’t complain with each opening.  We cleaned trailer and truck, emptied the floor mats — a clean truck makes the world brighter for these travelers.  The trailer was showing a few mold spots on the inside glass so we cleaned the windows inside and out and lubed the latches — much smoother now.

Deb watches a Union Pacific train hurtling east along Columbia River

Last night we parked along the Columbia River east of Hood River, after a 200 mile drive from Ocean Park.  The campground is Memaloose State Park, accessed via the eastbound I-84 rest stop west of The Dalles and near MM76.  We took a walk after supper and found the old quarry below and west of the campground.  The quarry probably served both the railroad, over one hundred years ago, and the road builders half that long ago.

great campsite along the river

Memaloose SP campground is really nice, well-arranged and landscaped.  The campground is thirty or forty feet above the Columbia River, several hundred feet from the railroad tracks and 1/2 mile from the interstate highway.  There are many shaded and some sunny campsites, and our choice of sites with or without electricity.

a beautiful morning looking over the Columbia River

We’re in the bonus season for state and national parks rates.  Washington and Oregon (and maybe other states?) discount the camping fees after September.  Our stay last night was only $15 for site with water hook-up in a campground with nice showers and comfort stations, paved rv parking, and nice fire ring and picnic table.  And oh, what a view!  This morning everything is calm and we have wall-to-wall blue skies again.

Last night, and until after midnight, we had fierce winds from the west.   We parked almost broadside to the wind so the trailer rocked a little.  The truck helps steady the trailer — we left it hitched to the trailer since our stay was only one night.  No utilities, no stabilizers, no unhitching –this morning we raised the front jack, connected the 7-way plug, walked around the trailer three times for our pre-flight safety checks, and drove off.

Pendleton, here we come!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

NOMADS at Ocean Park Retreat

We finished our second week with NOMADS (Nomads on Mission Active in Divine Service) at Ocean Park Retreat and Methodist Camp.  Our team has accomplished a lot in eight days, there’s a lot to do still.  We’re glad we’re here.

We really enjoy OPRC.  The weather took a little getting used to, with highs in the low to mid-60s and a likelihood of rain every day.  The 80 acre campus is just beautiful with mostly woods, a few grassy meadows, and 20 buildings.  Jim has had fun building an antenna and a shower step for our trailer (we’ll show you later) in the Center’s maintenance shop.  We’ve walked the trails and the beach, and done some sightseeing.

We meet each day, Mon-Thu, at 8 am for devotions and discussion and to plan our work day.  Work starts at 8:30 and runs until lunch time, then again until 4 pm with coffee breaks mid-morning and afternoon.  We’re not using to carrying materials, swinging tools, and just generally working even one day, much less four days.  So we’re regarding this as a good form of exercise.

Volunteers learn all sorts of jobs

We never know what job we’ll land as volunteers.  Replacing seat covers in the OPRC bus was a tough job but Debbie, Claudia, and Madeline persisted and did a great job.  The new covers are a great improvement for the seats.

Jake, Debbie, Ken, and Jim on photo break

Outdoor jobs can be great, particularly on cool days with little or no rain.  We’ve had lots of cool days but no so many rain-free ones.  This was one of our first bright sunny days at OPRC.  We ran framing around the new wood shed’s posts to prepare for rafters and siding.

Two nailing, one cutting, we sheet the small roof quickly

Jake and Debbie handed sheets up for Ken and Jim to fit and nail.  We quickly finished sheeting, tar papering, and started on siding while Ken nailed flashing and battens on the roof.  The next day’s forecast is rain.  The weather guessers have been correct every day.  And we want to have the shed dried in so we can do a little work under its roof.

Needs a little more siding and some doors, but a nice shed

Another day of work and we’ll have this wood shed complete.  Pretty nice with posts set in concrete, gravel floor, two doors make an 8′ opening, and room for lots of split and dried firewood.  Our final week at OPRC we hope weather will cooperate so we can complete siding, hang the doors, and stain the exterior siding.  This was a nice project for our volunteers at OPRC.

The NOMADS touring Fort Clatsop together

All work and no play won’t entirely suit this group of NOMADS volunteers.  Friday is the beginning of our weekend and the group headed south for a day of touring.  We crossed the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge to Oregon and followed US-101 to Fort Clatsop then Cannon Beach.  This picture is inside the Ft Clatsop visitors center where we enjoyed the displays and a video on the founding of the fort.

Deb examines the joinery in the replica of Ft Clatsop

We toured a relatively new replica of Ft Clatsop, the four-month 1805-6 winter home of the Lewis & Clark expedition.  The prior replica, built in 1955, burned in 2005 and was recently rebuilt.  The Expedition built several forts along their journey and no two seemed alike but each suited the purpose.  Unlike many government projects, these forts seemed to waste no space or materials, just did the job.

A fun shopping street of Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach, twenty-five miles south of Ft Clatsop, is a treat for touring.  Lots of candy and toy shops, and plenty of restaurants.  We weren’t looking for high cuisine but wanted a nice place to eat.  Cheri’s is a nice cafe with good coffee and baked goods and a simple but appealing menu.  We enjoyed good food and service at a reasonable price for a tourist town.

A beautiful sunset on our second week at OPRC

Lewis & Clark expedition’s winter at Ft Clatsop was very wet, only 12 rainless days out of 106.  We’ve done much better during our first two weeks, we’ve had at least four days of sunshine.  And a few sunsets like this one we viewed from the main lodge deck at OPRC.

Another campfire for Dreamstreamrs (and friends)

The weather was so nice last Monday we celebrated with a campfire and a few roasted marshmallows.  Debbie, Jake, Liz, Claudia, Madeline, Ken, and Len are pictured enjoying warmth from the fire.  The fire warmed us for a few hours while we watched the waxing moon rise very brightly in clear skies.  We have good work-life balance on this NOMADS project.

Jim says we have to eat fresh oysters before we leave.  We’ll see if any of our work partners want to join us for this, and Jim hopes we’ll do it regardless.  Full-timing makes it easy for us to participate in work projects, dawdle when and where we want, move with the weather.  It’ll be time to move southward soon.  And we need to start looking at maps and figuring out where’s next.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Ocean Park Retreat

We have arrived!  In Ocean Park Retreat Methodist Camp, that is.  Outside is wall to wall blue sky and full sunshine, the first day like this we’ve seen in  a week or two.  There’s a nice soft breeze with 61 degrees outside.  We have every window open an inch and both roof vents wide open, and the inside temp is a very comfortable 76 degrees.

Jim told you wrongly yesterday when he said we weren’t going to have a campfire before we left Mora Campground in Olympic National Park.  As we were walking before supper, we agreed the weather had lightened up a little and we would both enjoy a little fire.  Jim split some kindling, Deb laid and lit the fire, and we had a roaring fire before it started raining again.

The fire was so nice we pulled out our chairs and enjoyed the warm dancing flames.  Then we realized, this could be our last campfire of 2010 unless we stop in a national or state park on one of our remaining long-distance drives.  We’ll have a two or three-day trip from here to Boise at the end of the month, a three-day trip to Mesa mid-October, and that’s it for 2010.

So we made the most of last night’s fire.  We had reserved one small bundle of dry hemlock (of three we had purchased) and had scavenged leftover wood from departed campers’ fire rings over the past week.  With plenty of wood we quickly had a hot fire.  It was so nice Deb suggested we eat by the fire.

Jim grilled a nice marinated chicken breast and Deb made a wonderful avocado, tomato, and romaine and leaf lettuce salad.  Just as we finished eating the rain started falling more steadily.  Deb grabbed an umbrella and we stuck it out for a couple of hours, staying very warm and dry despite the outside temperature around 50 (and really wet).  It was nice, and if we don’t have another for awhile this one will serve as the right campfire memory.

Ocean Park Retreat (OPR) is an 80 acre campus a mile north of Ocean Park, Washington, on the peninsula west of Willapa Bay, sort of opposite and south of Aberdeen on the east side of the bay.  Oysterville is just north of OPR, and we hope we will be able to take advantage of these great sea treats.

We are here for a three-week work assignment with NOMADS, a bunch of RVers willing to serve with time and talents in various host sites across the country and beyond.  Some might be full-timers, two other couples here aren’t.  Folks typically sign on for a three-week assignment or can work as drop-ins where a church or camp requests the help.

Three other NOMADS couples already are here and were at work when we arrived today.  They have been staining the exterior of a large building at OPR and we’ll start helping with this tomorrow morning.  From the looks of the building we might do nothing else for at least a couple of weeks.  Whatever the tasks, we’re here to help and to get to know the other NOMADS.

We’ll have time to explore, including trails and 2,000 feet of seashore in the Camp, and we’ll try to find our way all up and down the peninsula.  Two years ago we stayed a couple of days in a small campground in Ocean Park and toured a little.  We’re allowed three days off each week for our three week stay, so we should have plenty of time to thoroughly find our way around.

Just a short post to update our location and, more significantly, our weather!  It’s nice to have an entire afternoon of bright sunshine.  Maybe we’ll see more of the sunshine and blue skies, we’re due for it.  And Ocean Park Retreat seems like a great place, both for volunteering and for enjoying the weather.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr