Rheumatoid Arthritis:  It’s No Picnic

Rheumatoid Arthritis: It’s No Picnic

There are aspects I want to share with you about rheumatoid arthritis and why I write about my experiences. These reasons are extremely simple AND complex.

 I AM NOT ATTENTION SEEKING.  I do not want or need anyone to feel sorry for me.  Every human has battles to face, and this is one of mine.  Sometimes we find someone who is fighting a similar war. Those people are precious because they have a deep, first-hand understanding of the daily challenges of living with such a condition.

AWARENESS.  Bringing awareness to the autoimmune disorder of rheumatoid arthritis helps dispel myths about the disease.  It’s not the creaky-joint kind of arthritis, it’s not treatable by a magic vitamin supplement, and while diet may help alleviate some symptoms it does not cure.  Knowing about the disease helps people avoid putting their foot in their mouths when running across someone with the disorder.  For example, “Oh, you can cure that with a turmeric supplement and avoiding sugar.”  No. You. Can’t. 

UNDERSTANDING.  Someone who doesn’t have rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorders will never understand what it’s like, and (as with any major health issue) I hope they never have to.  Having basic knowledge can offer some empathy, which is helpful.  For example, I’ve never battled cancer, so it is an experience I could not or would not give advice or pretend to know what the fight encompasses.  In talking with someone who has experienced it, I can find empathy even if I don’t know what it’s like firsthand.

CREDIBILITY AND VALIDATION.  Autoimmune disorders are unpredictable with timing, how hard they hit, and are often fickle.  Making commitments is hard because the mind and spirit are willing, but the body can’t deliver when the disease flares.  I’ve been judged both to my face and behind my back, which is quite hurtful.  For example, “She’s using RA as an excuse to get out of this or that,” “She’s not very tough, shouldn’t she just plow through,” or the most hurtful, “She’s lazy.”  I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret.  Autoimmune patients ask themselves the same nasty negative questions EVERY SINGLE DAY.  If someone felt the same pain, they would understand.  If they felt the bone-deep level of fatigue, they would keep their words to themselves.  If they lived with this just one single day, they would stop being so judgmental.   If someone says they are unable to do something, PLEASE take them at face value.  They are working around disease activity and it isn’t a reflection of their personal work ethic. 

MARKETING.  Yes.  This is one of my reasons.  Why?  Because I have created a journal that has value to people newly diagnosed with autoimmune disease.  I created it carefully with both patients and physicians in mind.  It tracks disease progression, flares, medications, side effects, as well as emotions in dealing with a difficult disorder.   There’s an area for physician questions to address at medical appointments.  It empowers the patient to be their own medical advocate and physicians to track both the objective and subjective experiences of the patient. People need to know there is something helpful “out there.”  Not just my journal, but there are others, as well.  There’s an entire community from which to learn.

If you’ve read this far, thank you.  Especially if this is something you are 100% not interested in reading about. 

To my fellow “Spoonies,” I wish you many humongous soup-ladle sized spoons today and always.

 

Source: Rheumatoid Arthritis: It’s No Picnic

RV Travel and Autoimmune Disorders

RV Travel and Autoimmune Disorders

I’ve been living and traveling full time in a motorhome with my husband and bullmastiff for the past six years. The lifestyle is full of adventures, different locations, and learning to live life by the seat of our pants. It does come with some inconveniences when health issues come into play.

I have rheumatoid disease, which is more commonly known as rheumatoid arthritis. The term ‘arthritis’ is actually misleading. It not at all similar to the creaky, painful joint issues of osteoarthritis. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means the immune system attacks a person’s own body as it would an outside virus or infection. The malfunctioning immune system randomly strikes the connective tissues surrounding an affected joint. For example, I can go to sleep perfectly fine, but wake up at 3:00 a.m. with intense pain and swelling around a random joint accompanied with a fever and flu-like symptoms. This acute illness can last twenty-four hours or several days. It can disappear for a day and return to attack the opposite side of my body. It’s an immune system gone wild and it violates the person who supports and gives it a home. This chronic illness never goes away and offends over and over again with no warning. While there are medications to silence and suppress the immune system, they only work for an unpredictable amount of time. Finding the right combination can take years, stop working in a few months, and have side effects causing permanent damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, and other vital organs. If the flares go untreated, permanent joint or organ damage can occur.

This condition, and other autoimmune disorders, is unpredictable. Having rheumatoid disease for many years, I’ve discovered patterns unique to my own body and reactions to outside stressors which can contribute to serious flares. I’ve learned to avoid certain foods, activities, and know when it’s time to retreat and rest for a while. With experience comes wisdom and power to keep myself as healthy as possible. It doesn’t mean disease activity disappears or won’t flare up when I least expect it, but it does give me the slightest bit of control. How this affects our travel depends on the physical unpredictability. I’m blessed to have a wonderful support system. Mike, my husband, tends to pick up the slack when I’m unable to function at full capacity.

It’s been years of trial and error since being diagnosed with rheumatoid disease. That’s why I created a journal for people with autoimmune disorders. It not only tracks daily progress, it also reveals disease patterns, records medication regimens and reactions, and has a section devoted solely to flares and questions for care teams. It’s a source for both the patient and the physician. It’s a perfect resource for someone newly diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Below is a sample of pages:

I’ll be doing a few future posts on living with an autoimmune disorder, specifically rheumatoid disease since it’s what I know first hand. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning about the journal I’ve created, you can see via the QR link below or click here: Hoarding Spoons: My Autoimmune Journal.

Source: RV Travel and Autoimmune Disorders

Enjoying the Pause

Enjoying the Pause

Our decisions determine which direction our lives will go, but there are times outside influences and circumstances cause the path to meander a bit. Since we have been RVing full time the past six years, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is going with the flow.

I am a creature of habit and routine. I function best when things are going according to the agenda. It’s not smooth sailing in RV life, though. Reservations get canceled, unexpected repairs may pop up, or a family issue will necessitate a sudden change in direction. These revisions are way out of my comfort zone, but I’ve learned to embrace the lesson in those last-minute modifications. I do grow as a human when I step outside of the normal everyday routine, even when I do it kicking and screaming.

For the last several months, we’ve taken a pause in our traveling. The RV will start rolling again in the month of December, but I’ve enjoyed the brief interlude. We purchased a home-base lot on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and added boating and fishing to our list of hobbies. It’s in a beautiful coastal area where small town living does still exist, there’s no mass influx of tourists, and peace and quiet is a staple. We also experience the dolphins frolic in our boat wake on our way to a favorite fishing spot.

This small pause has shifted my mindset, adjusted my personal goals, and given me the opportunity to discover and pursue untapped talents and new motivation. Storms will still appear on the horizon and plans will inevitably change, but it’s always nice to pause and gather strength for the battles ahead.

Source: Enjoying the Pause

Where Have We Been?

Where Have We Been?

We are still (and have been) traveling in the motorhome full time, but things have been a little different since my last post in January of 2020.

Let’s face it, the Covid outbreak and subsequent shutdown changed everything for everybody. I went into a sort of hibernation mode and stopped socializing, writing, and interacting on social media. Things for me are slowly coming back to normal. It’s like waking from a two-year sleep feeling raring to go and excited for some of the changes we have made in our traveling style.

With the national virus shut down in 2020, we did have a slight panic about our decision to RV travel. State parks and national parks were closing their campgrounds, which caused privately owned campgrounds to fill up and making reservations difficult. Thankfully, we were settled in a tiny private campground outside of Sierra Vista, Arizona, when the shut down occurred and welcome to stay indefinitely. My mom had flown in three weeks prior to visit with us, and her stay extended to six months. It was wonderful to have the time with her, but I think we were all a little stir crazy from limited interaction with others.

To combat boredom, we took frequent road trips in the truck. We visited nearby Tombstone, Arizona. It was truly a ghost town during the height of the Covid shut down, but we did get to experience some of the ambience. It made single Mom happy to meet at least one amazingly good-looking cowboy. We drove the empty streets of Bisbee, Arizona. Mom and I took several trips driving through the Coronado National Forest–just picking a dirt road and hoping we’d find our way out.

The highlight of our stay with mom was finding a campground outside of Williams, Arizona, hoping the Grand Canyon would open before we had to make our way to Texas. We honestly couldn’t believe our luck when the Canyon website announced it would open for visitors for four hours the day before we were scheduled to leave. We got up at 3:00 a.m. and made our way to the visitors entrance and were granted access just before sunrise. There was literally nobody else there. If you’ve visited the Grand Canyon National Park, you know it’s uncomfortably packed with people all the time. We stopped at several different viewpoints and were often the only truck in the parking lot. It was amazing, and seeing my Mom’s reaction to experiencing it for the first time is one of my most favorite memories.

We’ve been traveling since, but this entry has gotten lengthy. I’ll save more information for the next post. We have made changes to our traveling style and added more ways to adventure. I’ll fill you in on these in the coming weeks. If you’re still out there, I’d love to catch up with you.

Much love, Dawn

P.S. Please bear with me as I re-learn the formatting on this crazy site.

Source: Where Have We Been?

Happy Anniversary – Ten Years

Happy Anniversary – Ten Years

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Mike and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary a couple of days ago. I’m so thankful for my husband and the life we’ve built together.   He’s kind, generous, hardworking, and loving.  He’s a wonderful partner and friend.  I’m extremely blessed, and I strive to be the same for him.

Anyone who has ever been married know it’s not easy.  There are give and takes, sometimes huge sacrifices, and complicated issues which have no clear resolution.  There are also times when it’s sweet and wonderful and precious memories are made.

Marriage is like a river and takes all kinds of twists and turns. Sometimes it’s tumultuous and others it’s smooth as glass. With Mike, I’ve learned to row with the flow, stay calm in the rapids, and when to rest on the shore.  I’ve also learned to take an unexpected turn into an unfamiliar tributary, how to row backwards, and the importance of communication to keep the boat afloat.

Thank you for the most adventurous ten years of my life, Mike.  Let’s do a few more.  I love you.

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P.S.  He did good.  The man went to Jared’s.

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Source: Happy Anniversary – Ten Years

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

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From our family to yours,

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving filled with many beautiful blessings during the holiday and EVERY day.

With much love and gratitude,

Dawn

 

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Source: Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – Joys of Autumn

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – Joys of Autumn

We’ve seen a gradual progression of fall in our recent travels.  It’s evolved from a color pallet of fading green to a burst of beautiful colors over the last several weeks.  My favorite season was budding in September when we drove through Buchanan, a tiny town near our campground in Michigan.  The trees weren’t revealing their Autumn glory quite yet, but the burg was prepared with their annual scarecrow extravaganza.

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Every year, Buchanan businesses make scarecrows to welcome visitors along the main thoroughfares.  Each light post and street sign are donned with a life-sized straw figure depicting a theme and title for the business it represents.  It’s quite a sight.  The United States Post Office displayed scarecrows made by students of area schools.

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As the weeks passed and we moved our way into Goshen, Indiana, the colors started to slowly change.  Some leaves were falling, but fall wasn’t quite at its peak.  When we made our way to Kentucky, the colors became more evident.  During a drive through Mammoth Cave National Park, near our campground, the leaves were crisp beneath our feet.  Here’s the autumn I love:

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Other fall favorites impossible to capture in photos are the taste of fresh apples, delicious vegetables harvested from the last remnants of the garden, sweet corn covered in salt and butter, and the seasonal pumpkin spice flavored everything.  There are campfires, warmed cinnamon apple cider, and children in costumes gathering candy.   I love seeing the pumpkins on porch steps, darkness falling early in the evening, and more vibrant sunrise and sunsets.

What is your favorite season?  What tickles your fancy about fall?

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – Joys of Autumn

Jacob’s Well Natural Area – Texas

Jacob’s Well Natural Area – Texas

I’m all over the United States in my posts lately.  I’m almost a full year behind on recording our memories.  How did that happen?  I’ve learned the balance of experiencing things when I’m hardy and hale and writing about them when I’m slightly under the weather.  Fellow spoonies know exactly what I’m talking about.

We visited my husband’s parents in the Austin, Texas area during the Thanksgiving holiday last year.  Our dear friend, Patrick from Paddy Wagon Travels, and his mother made a few-day stop in our campground to spend some fireside time.  Mike and I affectionately dubbed Ms. Marion (Patrick’s mom), Mama Wags.  Since she had never been to Austin, she and I planned a couple of day outings to see local attractions.  One of the places we visited was Jacob’s Well Natural Area.

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Because I’m incredibly clumsy and Mama Wags is about the age of my mother, I knew our hikes into the natural areas needed to be easily navigable.  When we came upon the initial descent in the well area, Mama Wags took the lead and said, “Let’s go!”

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The walk through nature was renewing, as always.  I loved looking up into the trees and seeing unique branches like the ones below.

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Mama Wags took the lead and kept a brisk pace.  I tended to lag behind to take photos.  I figured if she survived a particularly treacherous area, then I could, too.

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The trail had beautiful views and was quite serene.  The ‘Well” was clear and it was easy to see why it’s a popular destination for scuba divers and swimmers in the summer months.  We simply enjoyed the cooler weather, vibrant tinges of Fall, fresh air, beautiful views, and good company.

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Mama Wags was a wonderful hiking companion.  She was motivational and inspiring.  We had a great time talking and laughing on the trail.  She also shared a special secret with me that day, and I’ll always treasure her trust in me.

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Thanks, Mama Wags!  I had a WONDERFUL day!

 

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RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: Jacob’s Well Natural Area – Texas

Shipshewana with My Mama

Shipshewana with My Mama

When we were in the Indiana area last Fall, Mom drove over from Ohio for a couple of days.  Since we tend to yackety yack and Mike needs quiet for work, we took off and visited Shipshewana.  I’d been there before, but it was a new destination for Mom.

Shipshewana was named for a local Potawatomi Native American and established in 1889.  Today, it’s mainly known for being an Amish/Mennonite (the Plain People) community where homemade baked goods, canned foods, and arts and crafts are displayed and sold.  They offer horse-drawn buggy ride tours of the small town and surrounding farms, and the biggest draw is the Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery where they serve homestyle lunch, dinners, and delicious baked goods.

The main street of town was beautifully landscaped with fall foliage during our visit.

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There are several shopping stops, one of which is the Davis Mercantile.  While the town boasts an Amish feel and style, the majority of shops are English (Amish name for non-Amish folks) owned.  There are a few operated by local Plain families, and they usually deal only in cash or personal checks in following their beliefs with no electronics or modern conveniences.  One of my very favorite stops is The Stamp Shop (located next to the Post Office).  The Amish shop owner has an incredible inventory of unique paper craft supplies and has samples of her lovely personally made cards.

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Below is one of the antique shops along the charming town streets full of similar stores, gift shops, and bakery/sandwich shops.

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There is also an Amish/Mennonite museum (we did not tour this on our visit), along with art galleries, and a quiet community park to take a rest.

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There are large murals on city buildings boasting the town history and prominent past members of the community.

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There is plenty of parking available in Shipshewana.  Be careful not to block the hitching posts where the Amish park their ‘vehicles’ and rest the horses while they run errands.  Please note there are no Amish people in these photographs (explanation below).

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Mom and I had a delicious and relaxing lunch at The Blue Gate Restaurant, where we enjoyed the friendly service and continued our visit.

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One of the things to remember when visiting an Amish community:  Please do not take pictures of the Amish without their consent.  The majority do not believe in having their photograph taken.  I asked an Amish buggy driver what he thought about tourist photos.  He said, “I believe it is a grave sin of vanity.  If a tourist takes a picture of me with or without asking, the sin is then on their soul.  I do feel disrespected when they take pictures without asking and many Plain People feel the same.”

Mom and I had a wonderful day putzing around learning about the Amish community, browsing different shops, and enjoying the company.   Thanks for spending the day with me, Mom.  Love you, MORE.

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Have you been to Shipshewana?  What is your favorite activity there?

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RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: Shipshewana with My Mama

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – The Polish Peasant

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – The Polish Peasant

I married into a Polish family.  Among so many other wonderful things, it also means really, really, really delicious food.  I did a post on my father- and mother-in-law a few years back and how they cooked up heavenly meals which filled the soul so much more than the stomach.  We recently traveled to the Chicago area to spend time with Mike’s dad and some of his siblings for a mini family reunion and visit to the old neighborhood in Michigan City, Indiana.  One of the highlights was a family meal shared in a tiny little restaurant called, The Polish Peasant, located in Michigan City, Indiana.

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The restaurant only has a few tables and is closed on Sunday and Monday, so reservations are definitely a good idea.  Because we had a larger party and didn’t know about reservations, we had a wait to be seated on a Saturday afternoon.

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The quaint restaurant is family owned with authentic Polish fare.  Their menu speaks for itself.

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Dad G ordered the czarnina soup to share with our nephew.  It’s a traditional polish soup with duck blood.  It wasn’t included in my choice of foods, but Dad G and Corey enjoyed it.   Everyone ordered different dishes with absolutely no complaints, although Dad G suggested they needed just a little more fat added in the sausage.  Since he’s been making his own Polish sausage and hotdogs for several decades, his advice was pretty solid.

I ordered the galumpki (stuffed cabbage).  Other than my mom-in-law’s stuffed cabbage, it was the best I’ve ever had.  So much so, Mike and I have been back three times while in the area.  The baked deviled eggs are a treat and the pierogis are delicious.

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The best thing about our first visit was sharing the experience with family.

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As the menu and the front window states, “Jedz Zdrowo!”  Eat well.

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We did, indeed.  We can’t recommend this restaurant enough–it’s more than worth it.

Thank you, Polish Peasant for rounding out a wonderful family weekend with delicious food.

Have you tried Polish cuisine?

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – The Polish Peasant

Sailing on Lake Michigan

Sailing on Lake Michigan

We have spent a lot of time in the Michigan, Indiana, Illinois area lately for RV repairs and major upgrades.  One of the highlights was accepting two very gracious invitations from Captain Rob and helmsman Mike for beautiful sailing trips aboard the Feng Shui.  We spent two separate lovely days on Lake Michigan, sailing out of the harbor in Michigan City, Indiana.

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It was the first sailing trip for me, so I was extremely excited.  I love being on the water.  Learning to scuba dive opened a whole new fascinating world for me, and my maiden voyage sailing trip did the same.  I’m hooked.  I told Mike we can switch to boat living any time he wants.  I am a Pisces, so maybe that’s the reason.

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The mechanics of releasing the sails and feeling the boat soar on the water was mesmerizing.  Captain Rob and helmsman Mike functioned like a well-oiled machine, probably from many seasons of sailing together.

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Sounds of pulleys releasing, sails rising and catching the wind, and water moving beneath us was soothing and relaxing.

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The slight listing of the boat as the wind powered us along was fun and exciting.

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The boat soared smoothly over the water and it was impossible not to feel a keen sense of freedom.  For me, it was a spiritual experience.  I loved every single second.

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The boat crew and Mike are old high school buddies, so the time on the water was full of hilarious stories from school, band (they were national champions four years in a row and played at Reagan’s inauguration), memories of people they had in common, and overall great company with really awesome people.

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Captain Rob
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Mike C–the helmsman

Below are our happy faces on both trips.  It was so. much. fun.

Thank you Rob and Mike for the invitation.  The experience was so enjoyable, and we can’t wait to do it again.

Have you been sailing?

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

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Source: Sailing on Lake Michigan

Ohio State Reformatory and The Shawshank Redemption

Ohio State Reformatory and The Shawshank Redemption

The day of our visit to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, was bright and sunny.  We were excited because we’d have a private tour from my niece, Veronica, who is a volunteer at “the prison” where The Shawshank Redemption (a Stephen King novella titled Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption turned classic movie) was filmed.

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The reformatory served as a prison for hardened criminals for many years from 1896 through the 1990s.  Life in this prison was filled with hard work, substandard meeting of basic needs, cruelty among inmates and guards, executions, and opportunities for rehabilitation for those inspired to do so.

The front of the prison has the appearance of an elaborate castle.  The photos below are the warden’s living quarters for his family.

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The building is quite beautiful, boasting large rooms with stained glass windows in the living quarters.

The family dwelling is only a wall away from the actual prison, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the warden ever felt leery of the safety of his family in such close proximity to the criminals and prison life.

In current day, the prison is a museum of sorts explaining prison life in the early 1900s and throughout the past century.   Executions were also carried out on the premises.

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There were two famous movies filmed on location at the Ohio State Reformatory.  One of which was Air Force One with Harrison Ford.  Locations are marked throughout the tour where scenes were filmed.

Probably the most well-known movie was The Shawshank Redemption.  It’s one of my personal favorites, which made the visit even more exciting for me.

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The warden’s office as it appeared in the movie:

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Life-sized pop-ups of favorite movie characters are dispersed throughout the prison.  Below are Andy and Red.

There was also the half-way house room where Brooks met his demise in the film.  Notice the inscription in the wood–“So was Red.”  It was a profound moment in the movie.

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Just a small video clip from the most famous line in the movie:

After exploring the front portion of the reformatory containing the warden’s quarters and movie sets, the tour continues throughout the actual prison.  Those hallways, rooms, and cell blocks aren’t as glamorous and pretty.  Peeling paint, rusting metal work, and remnants of a past prison system was haunting and horrifying.

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The wall of cellblocks was daunting.

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The cells were small and sparsely furnished.  The museum also provided personal stories of some of the inmates throughout the tour.

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The prison did have an infirmary and library.  The rooms were spacious, but the abandoned hospital rooms were a bit disturbing.

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The chapel was an interesting place.

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The paint, stucco, and drywall in the building are slowly deteriorating, but the skeletal “bones” of the structure remain.

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Lighting in the darkened halls was interesting.  There was an intersection of four rooms where the light (when the doors were all opened) revealed a large X on the hallway floor.  “Meet at the X” was code for the guards to meet to obtain daily or special instructions, especially on execution days.

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The prison is open to public tours.  The premises is available for scheduling events such as weddings, ballroom activities, and other social gatherings.  Despite being a prison, the room below is quite beautiful for those specific purposes.

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The prison is kind of creepy.  Knowing there were hardened criminals existing and surviving in their own form of community with fights, cruelty, and even executions, there was an eery feeling in the air.  The modern day Ohio State Reformatory offers ghost tours and overnight stays for the brave and adventurous.  That’s what my niece does–she likes to lead ghost hunt tours in the wee hours of the night.  I might do that sometime in the future, but the ghosts in the daylight hours are spooky enough for now.

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Thank you, Veronica, for our personalized tour through this fascinating bit of prison history and beautiful architecture.  My favorite part of the day was spending it with you and experiencing your excitement about the stories and the ghost-y things you’ve personally witnessed.

Our friend, Patrick from Paddy Wagon Travels, toured the facility with us and did a wonderful narrated video with additional history and fantastic footage of the premises.

Have you visited the Ohio State Reformatory?  Would you spend the night in it’s creepy hallways and deteriorating jail cells?

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

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Source: Ohio State Reformatory and The Shawshank Redemption

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – Making Cards

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – Making Cards

I’ve always had some level of creativity wanting to burst its way out, but time was not always on my side.  When my daughter was growing up, I had fun coming up with ways to  incorporate art projects–from finger painting the walls of the bathtub when she was really little, to making pretty papers out of ‘blowing bubbles’ with dish soap and food coloring for birthday invites, to stamping and coloring wrapping paper for “Santa” to use at Christmas time.  We had a good time and made some beautiful memories.  It was all done while working a ‘balls to the wall’ full-time job (often night shift) along with church and other volunteer activities.  When I retired and we started traveling full time, I was at a loss with what to do with my ‘free time.’  When not exploring local attractions, taking pictures, and blogging about our adventures, I needed something to be productive in my quiet moments.

My sister-in-law, Lorri, makes beautiful homemade cards.  In fact, her cards are so lovely and meaningful, they are among the few “sentimental” items we’ve saved safely in storage while we travel.   She even made special keepsake announcements for my daughter’s graduation.  I’ve always admired her talent and the perfection of her cards, and she inspired me to try something similar.

I recently attempted this relaxing and limitless hobby.  I’m nowhere near as professional as Lorri and I’m still learning.  I also have the confines of a very small space in our RV, so my craft supplies are limited at any given time.  I’ve gotten good at organizing, though, which utilizes almost as much creativity as actually making the cards.

I’ve made wine bottle gift tags:

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Christmas gift tags and small gift boxes:

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Christmas cards:

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Wedding cards and encouragement cards:

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While I’m not an excellent photographer, I have taken a few good photographs.  I’ve even incorporated those into making some colorful notecards:

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I have no idea what I’m going to do with all these cards.  Last year, I donated quite a few to Cards for Soldiers, an organization that ships handmade cards to troops overseas so they can send notes and greetings back home to their families.  A friend selected a few to sell in his gift shop and fellow RVers have purchased a few.  I’ve also given some as gifts.  The funny thing–I rarely send them to family.  Number one, Lorri has set way too high a bar on creativity and quality.  Number two, they just aren’t special enough, yet.

Currently, it’s a creative outlet for me and someday soon I might open an Etsy or Square store.  For now, I’ll just share with friends and sell as needed.

I can now file these photos in my idea folder and erase them from my phone.  What random photos do you have this week?

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – Making Cards

Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium and Museum

Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium and Museum

It’s been well over a year since we’ve visited our daughter in Missouri.  It was a quick trip through the area and most of it was spent loving on her.  We did get to tour the Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium and Museum in Springfield.  It was a special treat because our daughter was on staff at the time of our stopover.

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Dani at the front entrance of this beautiful museum and aquarium.

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The entrance is humongous.  The replicas of ocean life are the actual size of the creatures.

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Dani and I shared a moment in front of the ‘bait ball’ discussing fish and her future plans.

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The owner of the museum and aquarium is Johnny Morris, who also owns Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shops and a lot of attractions around Branson, Missouri.  There’s no expense spared in the artwork or displays.  It’s also why it’s a for-profit aquarium with a high admission price (approximately $24 for kids and $40 for adults).  While it says National Museum in its title, it has nothing to do with national wildlife parks, forests, national parks, or anything remotely similar.

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Live pelicans are part of the exhibits.  This one was trying to retrieve and devour a water bottle cap some careless museum patron threw into the water.  Dani made sure the cap was removed to keep the pelicans and other wildlife out of danger.

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Other birds were on display, as well as reptiles, turtles, and other species of wildlife.

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Being an avid fisherman and hunter, Johnny Morris has many conservation awareness and positive nature affirmations throughout the exhibits.

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We made our way in the aquarium habitats.  There were separate tanks for compatible fish in different types of water scenarios here in the United States and abroad, such as rivers, oceans, streams, etc.  The photo above and those below are some of the creatures we saw.

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The glowing jellyfish were mesmerizing.  Just watching them float gracefully around their tank was relaxing and visually stunning.

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The museum is interactive in parts to keep it educational and interesting for kids of all ages.  Here’s a crab in the foreground with Dani’s face showing in the ‘human tube’ behind it.

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The stingrays were exciting to see.  Here one was crawling up the tank wall.  It’s not often we can see the underside of these creatures, and I loved its little face.

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One of the final accolades to conservation as we completed our aquarium tour.

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There’s a child playground and interactive area at the end of the tour.  Kids can create their own messages on paper sea turtles, scan it into the system, and their artwork will glide across a giant screen.  This was my humorous tribute to Dani, who I love very, very much.

In the video link below, please forward to position 36:11.  It’s a video of my daughter explaining how she trained the stringrays in preparation for public feedings and touching.

Wonders of Wildlife Grand Opening

Here’s a video Mike did of our visit, which has live visual stimulation of the experience:

 

Our visit was focused on what Dani did at work more than actually specifically to see the aquarium.  Wonders of Wildlife is remarkably well done and beautiful, but a little too commercial for our taste.  I still prefer seeing the magnificent underwater world in it’s natural habitat adorned with scuba gear.  Dani has since moved on to St. Louis and has exciting future plans caring for, training, and studying marine life.

Have you visited this museum?  Do you prefer commercial wildlife venues over our beautiful national forests and parks?   I’d love to hear your opinion.

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium and Museum

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – Birdhouses – 09/08/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – Birdhouses – 09/08/19

My dad builds birdhouses.  He says it’s a hobby to “keep him busy,” although he still teaches full time at his local high school at age 75.  The outside of his home is decorated with different birdhouses he creates.  He gives them as gifts and sells when the opportunity arises.

Here’s a few in one of my stepmother’s flower gardens.

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A log cabin which sits atop a post in the backyard.

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A castle fit for the most discriminating of hungry birds.

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This is another displayed in the front flower garden.

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Below is a photo I grabbed of Dad when he was building a faux window frame for a wallhanging requested by my stepmom.

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We spent a week at Dad’s recently.  He graciously hooked up 50 amp service and let us ‘moochdock’ (park with electricity) in his driveway.   I arose on the last morning of our visit and shared a cup of coffee with my dad as he worked in his shop.  He completed a small birdhouse for me while the two of us chatted.  He added a hook so we could hang it outside our motorhome when we are parked.  It was treat to visit Dad and watch as he measured carefully, cut the wood, and pieced it together before my very eyes.  I’m fairly certain it’s one of my most favorite moments spent with my dad.

Any snapshots of special moments in your photo library?

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

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Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos – Birdhouses – 09/08/19

A Fuzzy Four-Legged Visitor – Full Time RV Life

A Fuzzy Four-Legged Visitor – Full Time RV Life

I wish we had photos to prove it wasn’t our imagination.  It was real, though, because a little boy saw it, too.

We were staying in northern Michigan (up the middle finger, just slightly below the Mackinac Bridge), at Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center in Roscommon, Michigan.  It’s a remote campground in a quiet and peaceful wooded area.  There were only three campers in the campground early Sunday afternoon.

I was inside the motorhome dusting the dashboard of the humongous front window.  There was a popup camper with kids ranging in ages of four to eight and the mother was out cooking a late breakfast.  What I thought was a very large black dog entered the campground and skirted the family camper.  As the animal loped closer–about six feet behind the mother frying bacon and about twenty feet in front of our window, I realized it wasn’t dog at all–it was an adolescent bear.  Without a thought to my camera, I ran outside in my bare feet to alert Mike, who was working outside on the truck.

I heard an excited little voice outside, “Look at the bear, Mommy.  He’s running.”  The four-year-old neighbor was standing pointing with wide, excited eyes.

The mom said, “Mmm Hmm.  We love bears.”  She continued making their breakfast without a glance.

I ran to the rear of the motorhome to Mike as the bear continued on his path through the campground directly into the woods.  He was older than a cub, but still not quite full grown.  His fur and loose skin–he’d not quite grown into it–wobbled up and down as he ran at a leisurely rate (sort of like the opening scene of Baywatch from back in the day).  He didn’t even glance our way as he blazed his own trail and disappeared in the dense woods beyond.  Mike and I couldn’t stop grinning and then realized neither of us captured it on film.

I started back into the motorhome riding on a high of seeing the bear.  The mother of the brood in the popup was still cooking.

“Did you see it?” I asked her.

“See what?” She was still concentrating on cooking on the open fire.

“The bear.”

She looked at me with an incredulous expression and said, “It was real?”

“Yes, it ran directly behind you as you were cooking.”

“It was that close?  My son said he saw a bear, but I thought it was his active imagination.”

We didn’t capture the beautiful black bear on camera, but we did try to find tracks we could photograph for a great memory.   They weren’t the best in the loose sand, but it was enough for us as proof it wasn’t our imagination (or the little boy’s across the way).

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Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

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Source: A Fuzzy Four-Legged Visitor – Full Time RV Life

Chicago White Sox, Childhood Memories, and Time with Dad G

Chicago White Sox, Childhood Memories, and Time with Dad G

A recent Chicago White Sox game was a family affair.  Mike’s dad flew into Chicago from Austin, Texas, with some of Mike’s siblings for a brief visit to his hometown.  In typical RandomBitsRV style, we switched travel directions at the last minute to share in the fun.  One of the activities was a White Sox game.  While I don’t keep up with baseball nowadays, I have wonderful childhood memories of attending Cincinnati Reds games when baseball players were larger than life–Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey, Sr., etc.  Experiencing the Chicago White Sox game being enjoyed by a whole row of family was a fabulous addition to the memory bank.

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My nephew, Cory, took an amazing selfie of all the attendees.  Dad G, sister Jackie, brother Phil, nephew Cory, brother-in-law Scott, friend-who-is-family Mike C, and Mike and me.

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A live baseball game encompasses all five senses.  The smells are wonderful with a mixture of hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, and french fries.  The wet chill of a beer or pop/soda is refreshing.  Vendors yelling out their wares and the organ playing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” are all part of the sensory experience.   Add in a cool evening breeze, and it’s absolutely perfect.  My most favorite part of the night was glancing down the row and watching Dad G and other family members enjoying the game.

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The weekend was busy with various activities.  There was a small family reunion with Dad G and two of his siblings along with other extended family.  It was a grand time hearing their combined memories and daring escapades from their youth.  There was so much joyous laughter.

 

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The picture above is Mike’s dad.  I snapped it at a Polish restaurant where we shared a homemade meal rich in love and hereditary culture.  Spending the weekend listening to his childhood memories was priceless.   In Mike’s video below, Dad G visited his elementary school, homes where he grew up, and shared information about other people in the area.  It not only was a bonding family time, it’s a memory to last a lifetime.

I’m so blessed to be enfolded in this beautiful family through Mike.  It was an honor to share this special time with Dad G, and I’m so thankful they included me.

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

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Source: Chicago White Sox, Childhood Memories, and Time with Dad G

Thousand Trails Bear Cave RV Campground – Buchanan MI

Thousand Trails Bear Cave RV Campground – Buchanan MI

Mike and I definitely use our Thousand Trails membership to its fullest.  Since we have the Odyssey package, we are able to stay for longer periods of time to experience the local life near the TT parks we stay.   One of our personal favorites is Bear Cave RV Park in Buchanan, Michigan.

Bear Cave is set back from the main road in a quiet wooded area on the banks of the Saint Joseph River.  It’s full of Native American history and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  There is information on the cave in the office with descriptions of how it was used in that endeavor.   The cave can be toured to make the historical significance come to life.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  They are also diligently working on updating the amenities and modernizing the park.  Mike and I love the natural aspect of the location and enjoy evenings by the river.

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Mike is doing a series of reviews on YouTube of the Thousand Trails parks we experience.  Below is a more in-depth tour and review of Bear Cave RV Park.

We love the park because there are activities within a day’s drive to enjoy.  Indiana Dunes National Park is within an hour’s drive.  There’s also Chicago, Michigan City, and St. Joe, and other coastal towns along Lake Michigan to enjoy.  The small town of Buchanan is friendly and welcoming with an impressive meat market, grocery store, art museum, and helpful Post Office staff.  Be sure to enjoy the town park where ducks are free to roam the streets.

Have you visited Bear Cave RV Park?  What were your thoughts and impressions?

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: Thousand Trails Bear Cave RV Campground – Buchanan MI

A Creative Bottleneck In My Loopy Brain

A Creative Bottleneck In My Loopy Brain

What the heck is a creative bottleneck?  I didn’t invent the phrase, but it describes perfectly my current funk.  It’s really a thing.  While searching for official definitions, I came across the following interesting take on the word–it refers to production in business, but I equate it with what’s going on in my brain.

bottleneck is a point of congestion in a production system (such as an assembly line or a computer network) that occurs when workloads arrive too quickly for the production process to handle. The inefficiencies brought about by the bottleneck often create delays and higher production costs.  (Investopedia)

I’ve got complications and they aren’t the type to complain and moan about–they’re happy issues.  I’ve had a lot of experiences over the last three months which have kept me active socially, physically, and geographically.  They’ve been filled with time with friends and family and enjoying our full-time RV life.  The quandary is so many memories have been made with so little time to actually sit and write about them.  They are all trapped in the humongous fat-bottomed bottle of my mind fighting to get written about so they become real.  After all, did it really happen if I don’t post a million pictures and write a blog entry about them?  The problem is I’m totally discombobulated.

I’ll figure out how to regurgitate all the beautiful moments and begin one post at a time.  I’ll even use Mike’s analogy about how to eat an elephant (and I won’t have to worry because I’m not a vegetarian.)  If you’re curious about all the elephant stuff, read a very funny post about that subject here.

I apologize for the several posts to come because they won’t be in any logical order.  It’s the RANDOM in the title of my blog, which is a testament to the intricate and overlapping labyrinth in my mind.

Does anyone else have creative bottlenecks?  Am I the only one whose mind gets all clogged up and jumbles out of control?  How in the world do you deal?

I think I’m gonna shake the bottle and see which memory bubbles up first.

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: A Creative Bottleneck In My Loopy Brain

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 07/21/2019

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 07/21/2019

We recently visited Laura and Steve from The Wandering RVer in the Black River Falls area of Wisconsin.   Laura and I spent a day exploring the countryside on a beautiful, relaxing drive.  We stopped to take a few photos of barns and other buildings of interest on our way.

This barn needed a lot of love, but its sturdy bones were still standing tall.  Nature was definitely claiming her ownership of the abandoned building, but the foundation was solid.  The brick-laid granary was a work of art.  In my opinion, the overgrown grass, trees, and vines didn’t dim the beauty of the countryside or the barn.  It’s hard to say how many harvest seasons it has weathered, but I have a feeling it’s not going to deteriorate any time soon.

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This fallen building may have been a chicken coop or home for other animals.  It was definitely caved in and slowly becoming part of the nature surrounding it.

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These farm buildings were on a curve and I loved how it was nestled into the trees.  As we passed the barn there was a sign on the opposite side of the road indicating it was a working family farm and the activity in the surrounding fields was a strong indication of the truth in their statement.

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As the sun was setting, this barn near the campground was in soft silhouette.  Hopefully, work was done for the day giving a small block of time relaxation from the hard work and responsibility of taking care of a large acreage.

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I once asked a young teenager raised in the city where her food came from.  She replied, “Publix.”  In trying to get a deeper answer, I realized she had no clue how much work and effort is put forth in sourcing food for people.  I grew up surrounded by hardworking farmers, and I found it sad not everyone knows how much heart and soul is put into providing the bounty set at the dinner table.

As we rode through the rolling hills of farmland and the fields provided a patchwork quilt with varying shades of green, I silently thanked the American farmer for their hard labor and tireless love and respect for the land.  They are unsung heroes, and I personally admire their work ethic and dedication to keeping family legacies alive and thriving.

Thank you for providing us our daily bread.

What catches your eye while driving through the country?

What random photos do you have on your camera this week?

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

  1. Write a blog entry with your own unique pictures.
  2. Place a pingback for this post in your post.
  3. Return and place your blog link in the comments so everyone can visit.

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 07/21/2019

It’s Prime Day!  A List of Our Favorite Things – Full-Time RV Life

It’s Prime Day! A List of Our Favorite Things – Full-Time RV Life

It’s the buzz almost everyone is talking about.  The savings today and tomorrow on Amazon are supposed to be the biggest of the year.  It’s also a golden opportunity to support the blogs and YouTube channels you follow without costing anyone a dime (we get fees for advertising directly from Amazon at absolutely no cost to you).

Below are a few of our favorite things which make RV life simpler, safer, and more organized.

BATHROOM GADGETS AND LUXURIES

CLOSET AND SMALL SPACE ORGANIZATION

CONNECTIVITY AND VISUAL ENTERTAINMENT

COOKING AND KITCHEN GADGETS

 

GIFT CARDS

OUTDOOR SPACE

PET SUPPLIES FOR RVer PETS

RV HOME OFFICE GADGETS

RV NECESSITIES

TOW VEHICLE GADGETS

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT FAVORITES

If you have any questions about the above products, we are happy to give you our opinion.  We use each and every one in our rig and daily lives.

If you have a favorite blog who is also an Amazon associate, it’s a great way to support their content and a small token of appreciation.

I hope you find exactly what you need at an amazing deal today!

RandombitsRV thanks you for being part of our family!

 

 

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Source: It’s Prime Day! A List of Our Favorite Things – Full-Time RV Life

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/30/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/30/19

Since we’ve been staying in America’s heartland, we’ve had some interesting encounters.  We arrived at a campground outside Amboy, Illinois, and was surprised by the ramshackle appearance with debris scattered about and a random jonboat sitting in the middle of a grassy area.  We approached the desk at the entrance and were informed our reservations were canceled.   A levy had broken a few miles up river and the park was buried under water just three days earlier and facilities hadn’t been completely restored.   I’m not going to lie, I had a moment of panic.  We were in the middle of farmland with nothing but tiny communities nearby.  If our reservations were no good, where were we going to stay?  Thankfully, the manager told us there was a small area of high ground where power was restored and we could camp there for the duration of our stay.

We got settled into our spot and explored the lay of the land via the golf cart.  It was sad to see some campers still under water near the river’s edge.  Fallen trees and other debris covered common areas.  We came across a spillover (below) and the force of the water was massive.

 

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The flooding continued to recede and the campground had several employees working to clear the grounds and get everything restored for the arrival of the summer campers.  Evidence of the flood quickly started to dissipate.  Below, the lagoon was back to normal with a fallen tree a stark reminder of the disaster less than a week before.

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In the same campground a couple of weeks later, this little guy was taking a daytime walk without his mama.  He seemed a bit confused, but kept walking despite silly humans (like me) taking pictures.

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We have since moved from Illinois to Wisconsin.  I’ve been enjoying some river adventures (upcoming blogs) and time with friends.   There was a strange sight at a kayak launch with an Amish horse and buggy.   The driver found a shady spot for his ride while doing some fishing.

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…and his “horsepower” smiled for the camera.

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What random photos do you have on your camera this week?

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

  1. Write a blog entry with your own unique pictures.
  2. Place a pingback for this post in your post.
  3. Return and place your blog link in the comments so everyone can visit.

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/30/19

Castle Rock State Park – Oregon, IL – Full-Time RV Life

Castle Rock State Park – Oregon, IL – Full-Time RV Life

We recently stayed near Amboy, Illinois, for a couple of weeks in our slow trek towards Mount Rushmore.  We were in the middle of several small farming communities, all with their own charm and family-owned businesses.  It wasn’t a tourist area, and we were delighted to find there were a couple state parks nearby to discover.  One was Castle Rock State Park, which is a nature and scientific preserve on the Rock River.  It was a perfect place to spend the afternoon.

There is a well-maintained boardwalk which leads to the top of Castle Rock.  Mike and I traversed the hundreds of steps through the tall trees, chirping birds, and the calming sound of flowing water.

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At the top, it looked like a labyrinth of boardwalk paths to the top.   There were two choices, the lower deck and the upper.  We took both ways and enjoyed lovely views of the Rock River from far above the trees.

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It was slightly odd to see the tall cliffs of Castle Rock in the middle of flat farmland.  It was unique and relaxing.

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The river was swollen from flood waters, which were starting to recede while we were there.  High water took up a lot of land on its banks and many of the trees were under water.

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This picnic area was the home of a goose family.  The ground was soggy and muddy and had been under many feet of water only a couple of days earlier.

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The trees and grass loved the moisture and the bright greens of spring and impending summer were beautiful and lush.  Once the park recovers from flood damage and debris, it will be a beautiful place to visit and enjoy the flowing river and simple sounds of nature.

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We’ve can always find a unique place to visit and learn something new in its history wherever we go.  We love the tiny towns and talkative citizens we encounter, and Illinois offered many friendly locals we enjoyed meeting.

Have you found a hidden treasure in the middle of nowhere?

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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Source: Castle Rock State Park – Oregon, IL – Full-Time RV Life

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/23/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/23/19

Here are my random photos of the week:

I saw this beautiful blooming tree on a recent visit to Ohio.  It was raining and gray, but the beautiful blossoms were a splash of color on an otherwise dreary day.

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I know they are supposed to be a weed, but I love dandelions.  Even as an adult I can’t resist picking these and sending the little fluffs on the wind.

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Here are more beautiful angels I spotted during a recent drive through large cemetery near my mother’s home.

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My blogger friend, Janet, is a very creative and inspiring card maker and scrapbooker.  Her blog is Janet’s Smiles, and she recently shared a website she used for card making supplies.  They have a kit with an owl, cat, and dragonfly.  They send the supplies for making twelve cards, but the way they are used is up to the creator.  I needed all occasion notecards on hand to send as greetings and to give away as gifts, so I whipped these up with a little embossing and some simple ribbon.

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I find making the cards very relaxing and a way to be creative.  They are also nice to give as gifts and to send as a just-because or quick hello.

What’s on YOUR camera this week?

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

  1. Write a blog entry with your own unique pictures.
  2. Place a pingback for this post in your post.
  3. Return and place your blog link in the comments so everyone can visit.

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/23/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/09/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/09/19

Today’s hodgepodge of random photos includes one from Shipshewana, Indiana.  I recently met my friend, Marion, there for a girl’s day of browsing, relaxing lunch, and a buggy ride Amish-style.   Since Shipshewana is a well-known Amish community, there are hand-made items for sale in the neighborhood shops.  We saw everything from rag rugs, to jams and jellies, potholders, planters, and (the best) homemade pies.  One of my favorite scrapbooking/card-marking supply stores is located in Shipshewana.  After a delicious lunch, Marion and I went on a leisurely buggy ride, and our Amish guide gave us insights on the modest and simple Amish style of living.

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I’ve written before how we utilize the Wal-Mart pickup service for our general pantry supplies.  We have to be careful to pickup at the correct Wal-Mart in the areas we visit.  I keep track by putting the address as a photo on my phone.  I know there are easier ways, but this works for me.

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I am an amateur card maker and can spend hours trying to get inspiration from others on line.  I recently joined a group of ladies who trade monthly artist trading cards (ATCs)–a 3.5 x 2.5 card with any type of art.  The timeline keeps me motivated and the cards I receive in return go in an album used for inspiration when constructing my own greeting cards.  Below are three ATCs I created and traded in the month of May using rubber stamps, watercolor, and alcohol markers.

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There are my Sunday Snapshots.  For me, life is all about the journey, including the bumps in the road, the mountains to conquer, and valleys to navigate.  It’s not all perfect and paved, but it is all beautiful.

What are YOUR thoughts?

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

  1. Write a blog entry with your own unique pictures.
  2. Place a pingback for this post in your post.
  3. Return and place your blog link in the comments so everyone can visit.

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/09/19

How RVillage Helps Us Stay Connected – Full-Time RV Life

How RVillage Helps Us Stay Connected – Full-Time RV Life

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RVillage is a valuable tool for full-time and part-time RVers.  It can be compared to Facebook, only it’s better.  RVillage is more private and focused on the RV community.

We personally use it to see who’s in the same RV park we are and to follow friends we’ve made along the way.  How does it work?  Signing on and setting up a profile is the first step.  The profile includes only information you want to provide.  What type of rig do you have?  What are your hobbies or interests?  Do you have blog/YouTube links?  Do you provide helpful services such as pet sitting, solar installation, RV maintenance, IT assistance, etc.?  You choose what information (if any) to share and it’s an awesome tool to connect with others with the same interests.   Below is a snapshot of our current profile information.  You can click on the bubbles at the bottom on the RVillage site to get more information:

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After setting up a profile, update your location.  Here’s where the magic starts to happen.  If you’re in an RV park, RVillage will provide a list of all other RVillage users in the same park and general area (below).  You can check out their profiles and see who has common interests.  Maybe someone has expertise in the solar install you’re thinking about.   There may be a technical genius nearby to help solve an IT problem or connectivity.  Someone from your hometown might be parked right next to you.  Or, if you want to stay on the down-low and keep your location secret, you don’t have to update your location at all.

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In the past, we’ve set up unofficial RVillage meet-and-greets to get to know other RVers and fellow nomads.   It can be a simple gathering–everyone brings their own beverage and after-dinner snack to share at a fireside gathering on a personal site or in a campground shelter/lounge (example of a past get-together we posted).   We post an invite on the campground site and see who will come.  We also invite non-RVillage neighbors to help grow the on-line community.

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You can “friend” fellow RVers on RVillage, just like Facebook or Instagram.  This will help travelers keep in touch or plan meetings if traveling in the same area.  There are also interest groups to join, such as Thousand Trails Members, specific rig brand owners, women RVers, single travelers, mobile homeschool families, state-specific seasonal campers, Passport America members, photographers, bloggers, kayakers, bird watchers, people who like to wear purple and green polka dots (okay, that’s made up, but you get the idea–there is something for everyone).  It’s a great way to connect with community while traveling.

One of my favorite features of the RVillage site is the map.  When we check into a campground, the map automatically updates and keeps track of our locations.  If I need to remember where we’ve been during a specific time span, the handy dandy map has it recorded.  In our two-plus years of full timing, it’s exciting to see where we’ve been and where we need to go to fill empty spots.  Here’s our map since we’ve hit the road full time.

map

RVillage also holds rallies.  We’ve been unable to attend, but the feedback is exciting and everyone seems to love them.  There are also exclusive discounts to RVillagers.  The site can be used to any extent which fits your needs.

It’s always nice to know we are not alone is this vast country we travel, whether we simply want to find friends or need to draw on experience and expertise with fellow travelers.

Sign up and take a look today.  It’s free!

Are you an RVillage user?  Please share your username in the comments.  We are RandomBitsRV–‘friend’ us anytime.

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: How RVillage Helps Us Stay Connected – Full-Time RV Life

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/02/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/02/19

It’s hard to believe it’s June already.   Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner.  Today’s post is about color and necessity.

I’ve kept this photo because of the pretty greens.  It’s untouched and unfiltered.  The lighting the day it was taken was overcast and a little tornado-y looking, but the hues of the swamp lake (taken in Florida) and vegetation were glorious.  There are so many variations of greens.

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The two colorful characters in the photo below make me smile.  My husband, on the left, and our dear friend Patrick, on the right, are always bantering back and forth and making me laugh.  They are the culprits coming up with hair-brained, last-minute-switch-in-plans, travel dreamers who often send us in opposite directions at a moment’s whim.  I’ve learned not to get too set on a travel plan, because it can change as fast as the wind direction.  I guess the stop-and-choose-a-direction mindset is the point of this lifestyle.  We can, so we do.

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It’s pretty handy to have a phone with a camera at our beck and call.  It is especially necessary when the serial/identification number on a hard-to-reach broken part is almost impossible to discern because of location.  We were in Arizona when our automatic steps quit working and the replacement part had to be ordered.  The photo was handy to enlarge and read correctly to the manufacturer so we wouldn’t have to guess.   It was a lifesaver.

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The following photograph is a beautiful sunrise in Arizona.  I love how it reflects off our home and the myriad of colors bathe the sky and all surfaces it touches.  Every single day is a unique piece of art.

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Did you see the sunrise today?  Are the colors inspiring where you are located?

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

  1. Write a blog entry with your own unique pictures.
  2. Place a pingback for this post in your post.
  3. Return and place your blog link in the comments so everyone can visit.

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 06/02/19

Healing of Mind, Body, and Spirit Via Craniosacral Therapy, Van Wert Massotherapy

Healing of Mind, Body, and Spirit Via Craniosacral Therapy, Van Wert Massotherapy

New experiences aren’t always found in exciting places or have to include nature or a unique adventure.  I recently had an experience that’s hard to describe, but I walked away a relaxed and renewed.

In April, we stayed close to family at Huggy Bear Campground, near Van Wert, Ohio.  I was born and raised in the farm country of Ohio and had the opportunity to meet up with friends.  They invited me for lunch at Brewed Expressions Cafe in the quaint little town of Van Wert.  Over a bowl of the most delicious chicken enchilada soup I’ve ever eaten, flavorful sandwich, and cup of piping hot coffee, I spent hours talking with Pam and Ann (sisters I’ve known since I was sixteen).

Pam works at Van Wert Massotherapy and Salt Cave and is a Reiki healer (her site is here), which is something unfamiliar to me.  Ann told me of a technique Pam performed on her called craniosacral therapy.   Ann said she cried throughout the procedure, and the feeling of emotional healing was profound.  Pam stated people have different reactions during the therapy as it depended on their individual needs.  It intrigued me, so I made an appointment for the upcoming week for a personal experience.  I didn’t research the therapy so I could discover the benefits firsthand and as objectively as possible.

I walked into the Van Wert Massotherapy and Salt Cave building and experienced a feeling of peace and relaxation.  It’s spacious, quiet, and welcoming.

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I was greeted by these smiling faces.  Pam is on the right.

Pam escorted me into luxurious dimly lit room with a light, calming scent and relaxing music.  The only clothing I needed to remove was my shoes.  She asked me to lie down on a thick, comfy table.   She covered me with a blanket and suggested taking slow, deep breaths to relax while she left for a few moments to prepare for the craniosacral therapy.

I concentrated on slow breathing to calm my fast-beating heart and self-conscious anxiety over the upcoming procedure.  I began to feel completely safe and cocooned as my heart beat slowed and anxiety eased.  My mind drifted into the ‘in-between’–the place between sleep and awake–and I literally imagined myself flying on the magical comfy bed over beaches and mountains and all the beautiful places I dearly love.  I was in a relaxed state and Pam wasn’t even in the room.

When she returned, Pam explained she’d start at my feet, areas along my spine, and work her way to the top of my head using only light touch (no more than the weight of a quarter, as it turned out).   She cupped my heels in her palms in complete silence for a few moments.  The muscles in my feet, ankles, calves, and thighs gradually relaxed.

She then put one hand beneath me at my lower spine and one lightly above on my lower stomach for many long, quiet minutes.  People can choose to believe it or not, but the muscles in my hips loosened and the joints ‘gave’ slightly.  I had a dislocated hip as a teenager, which required crutches for months.  It’s caused quite a bit of pain and gait issues as I’ve gotten older, requiring physical therapy and hip muscle strengthening.  This has always been (and always will be) a problematic issue for me.  To feel those muscles relax in a manner I’ve never experienced before was a unique, relieving surprise.  I was hyper-aware of my organs and muscles releasing their tensed hold.  The gentle touch of Pam’s hands focused my mind in relaxing that specific area.

Pam repositioned one hand to the mid-spinal area and the other above on my midsection for several long moments.  Many different sensations occurred at the same time.   It sounds odd even to myself, but I could feel my organs sort of ‘release’ as I relaxed the area and digestive juices became audible.  I’ve had stomach surgery in the past, and for months had problems with food getting ‘stuck’ leading to regurgitation.  I could visualize my intestines loosening and relaxing and contents sliding through.

Pam moved to my chest, neck, and throat area, spending several quiet moments at each location.  I felt my muscles unclenching and joints loosening.  I can’t adequately explain the depth of relief from the tension I’d been holding in my muscles, tissues, and joints.  She advanced to my face and placed her hand lightly over my sinuses.  There was a crisp audible sound of fluid loosening and my sinus pressure eased.  My jaw relaxed with a ‘give’ of the muscles.  Clenching my jaw is my go-to reaction to any and all stress, and this release was a particular relief.  My eye muscles even relaxed, and I’ve never experienced THAT before.

Pam explained what she was doing from movement to movement.  Besides the sweet release of tension of taut muscles, the depth of relaxation was consistent throughout.  She gave me a few moments to gather my thoughts before asking me to sit slowly to avoid feeling lightheaded or dizzy before standing and walking.  She advised taking it easy for the next few hours while my body adjusted to the therapy.

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS AND RESULTS:  Since the procedure, I’ve done research and found the results of craniosacral therapy to be somewhat controversial.  I can only share my experience in why I think it was of benefit to me and may be to others.

Please note:  I’m not a medical professional.  I’m only sharing personal experience. Always consult a physician.

I have moderate to severe rheumatoid disease.  It’s an autoimmune medical condition that cannot be ‘cured’ from this type of procedure, herbal, or other natural therapies.  It can only be treated and/or controlled by a qualified rheumatologist.  However, I believe a deep relaxation experience can improve a person’s spiritual and mental strength to deal with difficult pain from chronic conditions.  I’m unable to use pain medications because of possible kidney and liver damage when combined with my rheumatoid disease treatments, and I hold all stress and pain as tension inside my body.  This has affected my mental outlook and ability to deal with flares and stress (and may cause some of them).   Seeing someone like Pam can possibly ease pent-up muscle and tissue rigidity and provide relaxation/release to better equip me to mentally handle the effects of RA and painful flares.  It could definitely be viewed as a mind over matter situation, and it’s a new tool in my arsenal of RA survival–not to ‘cure’ it, but to better cope with it. I’m curious to try craniosacral treatment mid-flare to see the results.  Craniosacral therapy is not a painful, harmful, or invasive therapy, so I believe it’s an acceptable treatment for anyone.

The most important takeaway was a memorable revelation of areas I subconsciously hold tension and where I obtained the greatest relief.  One of the long-term benefits enjoyed from the therapy is near resolution of my stomach issue.  I’ve had few problems with obstruction since Pam’s healing hands touched the area.  I honestly think she has a God-given gift of healing.  All the way around, the experience was a win for me.  Some self indulgent relaxation is a win for anybody.

Pam gave me a tour of the Van Wert Massotherapy facility, especially the Salt Cave.  It’s a beautiful room, and a few quiet moments in the Cave would be a heavenly experience.  Sadly, our visit to the area was ending and I didn’t get to spend time surrounded by the pink salt.  Here’s a couple photos of the calming space.

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Van Wert Massotherapy also gives traditional and deep tissue massages, facials, and other spa relaxation services.  They sell a variety of aroma therapy and relaxation aides for home use.

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Below is Pam’s contact information.  I highly recommend a visit to experience her sweet spirit, gentle and healing hands, and a strong sense of well being throughout and after the deeply relaxing therapy.

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Have YOU had craniosacral therapy?  Would you explore it as a way to reduce pain and stress?  I’d love to hear your experience and/or thoughts in the comments below.

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: Healing of Mind, Body, and Spirit Via Craniosacral Therapy, Van Wert Massotherapy

Comment on Entire Staff Laid Off at Erwin Hymer North America (Roadtrek) by Pamela Branch

Comment on Entire Staff Laid Off at Erwin Hymer North America (Roadtrek) by Pamela Branch

By Jason Epperson

RV Daily Report and CTV News are reporting that Erwin Hymer North America in Kitchener, Ontario, has been placed in recievership by a court, effectively laying-off the entire staff of over 800 employees, who were told the company will idle for six weeks while it tries to find a buyer. Rumors are swirling about a class action lawsuit from the factory’s suppliers.

The company, which manufactured the popular Roadtrek class B RV, has been embroiled in a financial scandal that allegedly involves embezzlement from top executives at the company. A buyout by Thor Industries of the global Erwin Hymer Group excluded the North America operation at the last minute due to the investigation into the mismanagement, leaving the company to fend for itself.

RV Miles has been receiving reports over the last couple of weeks that dealers across the country are not honoring Roadtrek warranties because they were not getting paid. Roadtrek has long offered some of the best warranties in the industry, and now it’s not clear what the future holds for current Roadtrek owners. The company may still be sold, but with a mass-layoff, it seems likely that bankruptcy looms. The brand name and patents may be picked up by someone, perhaps still Thor Industries, now the world’s largest RV conglomerate. The factory facilities are leased, lending reduced leverage for a potential sale.

Source: Comment on Entire Staff Laid Off at Erwin Hymer North America (Roadtrek) by Pamela Branch

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 05/26/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 05/26/19

 

We were back in the repair parking lot in Elkhart, Indiana, for a day or so in May.  It was a small planned repair, so parts were in ahead of schedule and mechanic time already on the books.  Our time spent repair shop moochdocking was (thankfully) short lived.

Here’s an interesting perspective of our home:

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We’ve had endless days of rain while spending time in the Indiana/Illinois/Michigan area.  The payoff is seeing the beautiful colors of Spring popping everywhere.  I snapped photos of these vibrant tulips on a recent day trip to Shipshewana.

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It’s been fun watching the critters come to life as the weather warms.  This chubby guy wasn’t shy in greeting us on a recent visit to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Museum.  In fact, he seemed to be looking for some yummy morsels.  Like Mike and me, it looks as if he needs to lay off the carbs for a little while.  On second thought, I don’t think squirrels eat carbs….

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We celebrate Memorial Day this weekend.  I remember our servicemen and women who have sacrificed all by reflecting on a flag proudly waving above me.  With every crisp snap it makes, I imagine the movement being caused by the collective last breaths of every soldier who died protecting everything it stands for.   It’s a stark reminder that the price of my freedom comes at a great cost.

A simple thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough.

How are you remembering our fallen soldiers on this Memorial Day weekend?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you want to participate in Sunday Snapshots by sharing your random photos?  It’s easy:

  1. Write a blog entry with your own unique pictures.
  2. Place a pingback for this post in your post.
  3. Return and place your blog link in the comments so everyone can visit.

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 05/26/19

1.5M more US Travelers Expected Memorial Weekend: The Worst Times to Drive

1.5M more US Travelers Expected Memorial Weekend: The Worst Times to Drive

Memorial Day weekend is about to kick off, and AAA is reporting that travelers should expect to see about average gas prices compared to last year, but more vehicles on the road.

AAA’s travel experts say that nearly 43 million people will spend the weekend away from home, the second-highest travel volume on record since tracking began back in 2000. The majority will be driving to their destination, around 37 million, with an overall increase of an additional 1.5 million travelers compared with last year, a 3.6% increase.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.

The worst times to travel will in the late afternoon Thursday, May 23 (today) and Friday, May 24 as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C., could see three times the delay. Below is a chart of the largest metro areas and the projected worst travel times:

Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip
Atlanta Thursday, May 23 4:30 – 6:30 PM 2.2x
Boston Monday, May 27 3:45 – 5:45 PM 3.0x
Chicago Friday, May 24 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.6x
Detroit Friday, May 24 2:30 – 4:30 PM 1.7x
Houston Sunday, May 26 2:15 – 4:15 PM 1.0x
Los Angeles Friday, May 24 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.0x
New York Thursday, May 23 4:45 – 6:45 PM 2.0x
San Francisco Saturday, May 25 1:00 – 3:00 PM 1.6x
Seattle Monday, May 27 3:30 – 5:30 PM 1.0x
Washington, D.C. Monday, May 27 3:45 – 5:45 PM 3.0x
      Source: INRIX

Top Memorial Day travel destinations

Orlando, New York City and Las Vegas can expect an influx of travelers for the holiday. These are the top destinations in the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend, based on advance AAA Travel bookings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. New York, New York
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Anaheim, California
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Anchorage, Alaska
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. San Francisco, California

Source: 1.5M more US Travelers Expected Memorial Weekend: The Worst Times to Drive

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 5/19/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 5/19/19

The weeks seem to fly by quickly.  It’s mid-May already!

One of my favorite subjects to photograph is my dog.  I’m one of those dog owners who thinks her sweet Lexie Girl is the prettiest dog in the world. Mike gets up early and takes Lexie on her morning walk and they come back just in time for me to get up and prepare the coffee.  As soon as I open the bedroom door, Lexie paces the motorhome with her powerful tail wag and comes to lean against me to get belly rubs.  She’s happy to see me, and everyone needs a little bit of that kind of lovin’ in their lives.

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I had an opportunity awhile back to spend time with my ninety-something-year-old great aunt, who shared precious photos of herself and my Granny.  This one I find particular endearing and can’t delete from my easily accessible files.  My beautiful grandmother is on the right with her little sister, Margie (with a hard ‘g’), on the left.  I’m so thankful to have the time with Aunt Margie and laugh at memories from her childhood.  I highly recommend taking some time to spend with an elderly relative.  It not only brightens up their day, but I, personally, gain so much wisdom from the time well spent.

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I’m not quite sure why I saved this, but it’s a personal bio for a short story I did for one of the Chicken Soup books.   I think it’s because it was the first publication I had after starting our nomadic journey.  When they asked me to submit it, I remember it was a statement of strong commitment to the lifestyle.  At the time, we thought we were making a bold move.  Now, it’s just our life.

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This was printed on a take-out box for a restaurant we tried.  I took a photo because it’s a valid question we ask ourselves all the time.  Where to now?  It’s a big country out there and the question sometimes puts us in a quandary.  We can go anywhere, and sometimes it’s hard to choose.

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There’s this week’s random photos.  So, I gotta ask YOU.  “Where to now?”

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos of the Week – 5/19/19

Episode 94 | The Need for Speed in Pensacola

Episode 94 | The Need for Speed in Pensacola

We’ve been on the road for over two years now in our converted school bus. We’ve been border to border and coast to coast twice now: Is it time for us to make some big changes? You’ve heard all the stories about shady salespeople and poor service, but is the fear of camping world really what it seems? Major news on the mobile internet front, and it’s not good. And one of our favorite places on earth, where you can bask in the white sandy beaches and roar with the top gun jets, all on this episode of the RV Miles podcast.


Listen to the podcast in the player below, or on any podcast app:


Follow RV Miles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

and Jason & Abby’s personal travel blog Our Wandering Family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Join the RV Miles Facebook Group here.

Click here to find the America’s National Parks Podcast.

And go here to join the America’s National Parks Facebook Group. 


RVMobileInternet.com is confirming that as of May 21st Verizon will no longer offer the prepaid $65 unlimited Jetpack Plan. What does that mean for internet on the road? Click here to read the full details.


Pensacola, FL is one of our favorite places, and we just wrapped up two weeks in this gorgeous coastal town. Highlights included:

On the Pensacola Naval Base:

Fort Pickens

Food


Abby’s Fresh Tank/Black Tank this week was all about the National Park Service. You can read more about Yosemite’s Camp 4 here, and check out this cool article on ancient fossilized prints in the Grand Canyon. Jason had a lot to say this week about Camping World’s reputation, and the way some try to sensationalize it for their own benefit. Only took us 94 episodes for the dam to break. His Fresh Tank this week goes to all those campground neighbors out there. Thanks for being some of the nicest people around!


And finally, we wrap this week up on a more personal note. After almost three years of bus life, Jason and Abby are starting to feel the push towards a truck and trailer. It’s clear the WanderBus is getting older and not as interested in loggin’ the kind of miles our lifestyle now requires. The chance could happen as soon as next month, or the first of the year. There are a lot of things to figure out, and a lot of emotions to sort through, but they do know it is time to find a reliable brand of travel trailer that will have a dedicated bunk house for the boys and keep their family on the road for years to come. Suggestions welcome.


Sponsors

L.L.Bean:This year, L.L.Bean is joining up with the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, to help you find your happy place – in an amazing system of more than 400 national parks, including historic and cultural sites, monuments, preserves, lakeshores, and seashores that dot the American landscape, many of which you’ll find just a short trip from home. L.L.Bean is proud to be an official partner of the National Park Foundation. Discover your perfect day in a park at findyourpark.com.

FMCA: From Motorhomes, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, bus conversions, and more, FMCA is here to enhance your RV Lifestyle. For as little as $5 a month, you can travel with peace of mind knowing FMCA has your back. Get connected with like-minded RVers on their Facebook page, Forums, at Conventions, and Events. Deals and discounts include RV insurance and Tire Savings Programs, and their Medical Emergency and Travel Assistance Program is included FREE. A yearly membership is only $60, but RV Miles listeners can save $10 with code RVMILES19. Just visit FMCA.com/RVMiles19 and enter code RVMILES19 or click the link in the show notes.

PelicanCoolers.com: One of the easiest ways to keep costs down when adventuring is to pack your own food. Wander Bus doesn’t go everywhere with us, and it’s nice to have a cooler for meals on the go. Our 30QT Pelican Cooler is great to keep in the back of our van for when we’re out exploring a city or National Park. They can hold ice for 6, 7, or 9 days depending on the size, perfect for small RVs without a fridge – no more swampy coolers. Head over to PelicanCoolers.com/RVMiles and use promo code RVMILES at checkout to score a free tumbler with purchase.

The Togo App and Togo Roadlink: With the TOGO app, everything you need to own and operate your RV is in one convenient, digital space. You can set maintenance reminders, keep track of registration details, and build checklists. Their brand new, all-in-one internet connectivity kit Togo Roadlink™ is a complete connectivity solution that combines state-of-the-art hardware with new RV-specific data plans. The new Roadlink C2 is a powerful Wi-Fi booster combined with a 4G LTE antenna. Not only is Roadlink™ crafted with best-in-class hardware, but they’ve joined forces with AT&T to offer an unlimited 4G LTE data plan specifically for RVers. The details of the data plans and hardware can be found at runswithtogo.com/roadlink.

Shady Rays is an independent sunglass company out to do it differently and give people a lot more bang for the buck. Their shades are polarized and made to hold up no matter what you do outside. Featuring a lifetime warranty, Shady Rays has got you covered. Drop your shades in the ocean, lake, off a mountain doesn’t matter. They’ll replace them free, all you do is pay a small shipping and handling charge. Shady Rays start at just $45 a pair, however, RV Miles listeners can get the BEST deal out there – 50% off two or more pairs with code RV. You could get two pairs of Shady Rays sunglasses for only $45 plus shipping and handling. Visit shadyrays.com to see their full lineup.

Source: Episode 94 | The Need for Speed in Pensacola

Nation’s Largest Vintage Trailer Rally Hits Pismo Beach This Weekend

Nation’s Largest Vintage Trailer Rally Hits Pismo Beach This Weekend

Photo: Alice and John O’Hare of Valencia, Calif. show off their 1956 tropical turquoise Chevrolet Bel Air along with their matching 1961 Shasta Compact travel trailer | courtesy of Pismo Coast Village RV Resort

The largest vintage trailer rally in the country is set to take place May 16 to 19 at Pismo Coast Village RV Resort.

“We’ll have over 300 vintage trailers along with their proud owners,” said Jay Jamison, General Manager of the resort, which has hosted the annual Pismo Vintage Trailer Rally for the past 11 years.


A 1951 Ford truck and a 1967 Silver Streak Sabre travel trailer |

courtesy of Pismo Coast Village RV Resort

The rally will feature restored travel trailers from the 1930s to the 1970s with famous names like Airstream, Boles Aero, Shasta, Silver Streak, Vagabond and Westcraft, along with the vintage tow vehicles that often accompany them.

“You’ll see Hudson, Ford and Chevy Pickups as well as Willys Wagons and Woody Wagons,” Jamison said, adding, “All the units will be decorated inside and out in vintage décor as the owners celebrate trailers built between 1930 and 1979. Awards will be given based on people’s choice ballots and we encourage visitors to vote for their favorite units.”

The event is only open to the public only on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m for the open house and swap meet. Anyone who is not a registered guest should park outside the resort and walk to the event as parking is not available on site.


Photo courtesy of Pismo Coast Village RV Resort

Pismo Coast Village RV Resort boasts 400 sites on its beachfront property in Pismo Beach, California, within walking distance from shopping, restaurants, and the Pismo Pier. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it’s a great home base to visit the Hearst Castle, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, the Oceano Dunes, and a vast selection of wineries.

Check out the Rally’s facebook page for more info and photos, and visit Camp-California.com for more info about camping in California and Nevada.

Source: Nation’s Largest Vintage Trailer Rally Hits Pismo Beach This Weekend

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos On Mother’s Day – 5/12/19

Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos On Mother’s Day – 5/12/19

It would be remiss to do a Sunday Snapshots without including my mom on Mother’s Day.  It’s sort of a double whammy because her birthday is Monday.  So, this Sunday is in honor of my mom.  I love her.  A lot.

Here’s one of my mom and me on the day Mike and I got married.   It meant so much to have her there on one of the happiest days of my life.

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Mom has always been there on the monumental days of celebration.  Here she is with my daughter, Dani, at her high school graduation.   Dani graduated with numerous academic honors and I was so proud of her.  It was special to share those moments with my mom.

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Throughout my childhood, Mom wouldn’t be included in photos.  If she was, she wore a stiff smile or hid most of herself behind someone.  She was self-conscious and didn’t want to be immortalized in her current state (a struggle I totally get and experienced myself).   She wanted to be thinner, have her makeup on, etc.  These days when I say, “Come on, Mom, let’s do a selfie,” I love she flashes a beautiful smile and looks directly into the camera–no matter the occasion.  These photos are precious to me.  Someday we’ll be ancestors and future generations will say the same.  Don’t wait to be in photos–smile and love it, even on a bad hair day with no makeup and wearing sweats.  There’s a stunning beauty simply in being yourself.

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The GIF below is one of my favorites of my mom–an all-out smile of joy.  My niece and nephew were ‘sloppy kissing’ Mamaw (they lick their lips generously and kiss her on the cheek).

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Happy Birthday, too.  I love you, more.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  Kid moms, empty nest moms, dog moms, single moms, God-moms, kitty moms, Auntie moms, moms-in-waiting, mom-like ladies, and every other mom you can imagine.  Thank you for making a difference.

Any photos of YOUR mom on your phone?

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

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Source: Sunday Snapshots – Random Photos On Mother’s Day – 5/12/19

I Love You More – Happy Love Day

I Love You More – Happy Love Day

I’m not entirely sure when I started using the phrase, “I love you more.”  It may have been from my dear and sweet friend of more than 30 years and I adopted it as my own.  I’ve written it in every card and birthday greeting, said it at the end of phone calls, typed it in texts, and whispered at night to my husband before we go to sleep.

Sometimes, it’s meant as a fun competitive statement which becomes playful banter.  My daughter and I have taken it way past any grammatically correct statements:

“I love you more.”

“I love you mostest.”

“I love you most-er-ister.”

“I love you mostest-er-ister-istist.”

“I love you mostest-er-ister-istist-ister.”

Competition aside, there’s a specific meaning for the phrase.  It means I love the person more than they could ever imagine.  It means they are a part of my heart and no arguments, actions, or behaviors will ever change how much I love them (even if they don’t love me back).  When I say, “I love you more,” it’s because I do–no matter what life may throw at us or how our relationship evolves or dissipates.

I received the following photograph in an unsolicited ad on Facebook.  This beautiful piece of art pretty much summed up, “I love you more.”

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I try my best to express love every single day, but I did make a couple special Valentine’s Day cards this year.   Creating handmade cards is a new hobby for me, so please look past the rookie mistakes.

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My first try at a shaker card.  It’s a strange Valentine’s sentiment, but the humor will be unequivocally appreciated by the recipients. 
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A sweeter (more appropriate) version of the shaker card–for a dear friend.

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No matter what sentiments, idiosyncrasies, or inside jokes we use to express our love, we need to tell the people around us how much they enrich our lives and what they mean to us every chance we get.  An extra special “I love you more” on Valentine’s Day is definitely okay.

If you’re reading this–I appreciate you more.  I wish you more.  I thank you more.

My friends and family–I love you more.  You know this.  I always have.  I always will.

 

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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Source: I Love You More – Happy Love Day

Episode 93 | RV Trader’s Paige Bouma

Episode 93 | RV Trader’s Paige Bouma

Thor Industries and KOA want to urge RVers to clean up America’s public lands—will you pitch in? Will a gasser get you by or do you really need a diesel engine in your new truck or motorhome? And whether your buying or selling an RV, Paige Bouma from RV Trader has all the tips, as well as some of her best RV travel advice on this episode of RV Miles.


Listen to the podcast in the player below, or on any podcast app:


Follow RV Miles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

and Jason & Abby’s personal travel blog Our Wandering Family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Join the RV Miles Facebook Group here.

Click here to find the America’s National Parks Podcast.

And go here to join the America’s National Parks Facebook Group. 


Will hiking permits solve the dangers of overcrowding on popular steep trails? Here’s the article talking about what happened at Yosemite over the last decade.

To diesel, or not to diesel? That is the question on many new RVers’ minds. Here’s our breakdown of all the things to consider.

Our interview segment this week talked with Paige Bouma of RV Trader about their service, and some great RV purchasing tips. Check out RVTrader.com whether you’re looking to buy or sell a new RV.

In Fresh Tank/Black Tank, we covered a new initiative from KOA and Thor to encourage RVers to “Pick Up America” by removing trash from public lands. Pledge to do your part at pickupamerica.com, and use the hashtag #PickUpAmerica to share your efforts on social media.

We also talked about the growing problem of grizzly/human interaction at Yellowstone. Read about that from Idaho Statesman.

Abby’s gear recommendation this week was for a slick wooden iPhone case called the “Nomad” from Keyway.

Check out the latest episode of the America’s National Parks Podcast, chronicling the return of the Cuyahoga River after it became so polluted that it lit on fire.

And purchase your own Not All Who Wander Are Lost or From Sea To Shining Sea gear in the RV Miles store.


Sponsors

L.L.Bean:This year, L.L.Bean is joining up with the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, to help you find your happy place – in an amazing system of more than 400 national parks, including historic and cultural sites, monuments, preserves, lakeshores, and seashores that dot the American landscape, many of which you’ll find just a short trip from home. L.L.Bean is proud to be an official partner of the National Park Foundation. Discover your perfect day in a park at findyourpark.com.

FMCA: From Motorhomes, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, bus conversions, and more, FMCA is here to enhance your RV Lifestyle. For as little as $5 a month, you can travel with peace of mind knowing FMCA has your back. Get connected with like-minded RVers on their Facebook page, Forums, at Conventions, and Events. Deals and discounts include RV insurance and Tire Savings Programs, and their Medical Emergency and Travel Assistance Program is included FREE. A yearly membership is only $60, but RV Miles listeners can save $10 with code RVMILES19. Just visit FMCA.com/RVMiles19 and enter code RVMILES19 or click the link in the show notes.

PelicanCoolers.com:One of the easiest ways to keep costs down when adventuring is to pack your own food. Wander Bus doesn’t go everywhere with us, and it’s nice to have a cooler for meals on the go. Our 30QT Pelican Cooler is great to keep in the back of our van for when we’re out exploring a city or National Park. They can hold ice for 6, 7, or 9 days depending on the size, perfect for small RVs without a fridge – no more swampy coolers. Head over to PelicanCoolers.com/RVMiles and use promo code RVMILES at checkout to score a free tumbler with purchase.

The Togo App and Togo Roadlink:With the TOGO app, everything you need to own and operate your RV is in one convenient, digital space. You can set maintenance reminders, keep track of registration details, and build checklists. Their brand new, all-in-one internet connectivity kit Togo Roadlink™ is a complete connectivity solution that combines state-of-the-art hardware with new RV-specific data plans. The new Roadlink C2 is a powerful Wi-Fi booster combined with a 4G LTE antenna. Not only is Roadlink™ crafted with best-in-class hardware, but they’ve joined forces with AT&T to offer an unlimited 4G LTE data plan specifically for RVers. The details of the data plans and hardware can be found at runswithtogo.com/roadlink.

Source: Episode 93 | RV Trader’s Paige Bouma

Thousand Trails Membership – Full-Time RV Life

Thousand Trails Membership – Full-Time RV Life

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Many people ask us how affordable this lifestyle is as far as campgrounds, RV resorts, and boondocking.  The answer to those questions are complex, because it is one hundred percent dependent on individual travel style and needs for daily life.  Mike and I like to stay in a location three to four weeks to explore local flavor and adventures.  We travel on weekends and seek out areas with reliable cell service because Mike works remotely full-time for corporate America.  I like RV parks and resorts because I’m a spoiled full-hookup kind of gal, but I can also make do with partial hookups and enjoy occasional boondocking in beautiful scenic areas.

We thoroughly researched the Thousand Trails system.  For an upfront cost and yearly maintenance fee, we can stay free in their network of campgrounds.  Basically, it’s a no-brainer financial decision for the type of RVing we prefer.  The upfront cost is high depending on the membership purchased, but it shortly pays for itself.  For example, we now have the Ultimate Odyssey package (we started with an Elite) and our first six months of 2019 scheduled in the Thousand Trails System will be at no cost.  If an average 30 days of camping is $500 (and that’s a low-ball amount), it means we have already saved $3,000 this year.

There are several levels of membership to meet a traveler’s needs.  There are zone passes which cover campgrounds in a particular part of the United States (northeast, northwest, etc.).  There are levels that include only certain campgrounds across the country.  Our membership covers the entire Thousand Trails system nationwide with a 28-day stay in any park.  We can travel from one Thousand Trails park to another with no time required out of the system.  We have also included the Trails Collection, which expands our campground choices to include free Encore RV Resorts (two weeks in the Encore system and one week out) and Resort Parks International parks at a hefty discount.  We can book reservations 180 days out.  We are also able to freeze our maintenance fee at age 62, will the membership to our heirs, and up to six family members can use the membership for a $99 per year fee.  We can also resell our membership if we no longer find a use for it.

There are a few downsides to the TT network:

  1.  The front-end expense can be quite daunting.
  2. We don’t always stay in the Thousand Trails system because locations are not available in areas we visit.
  3. There’s a big hole in the middle of the United States where Thousand Trails does not have property.  This includes the big national park areas.
  4. Some of the preserves are old and rustic, some have tight spots and make us feel a little sardine-y, and others are located in remote locations where there isn’t much to see and do.
  5. It’s more often than not extremely difficult to work the reservation system and book the days we need.  It takes patience, perseverance, and a lot of time listening to the ridiculous Thousand Trails on-hold recording.

We have the freedom to pick and choose when we want to surf our membership, and there are times where we budget and bite the bullet and stay outside of the system.  As in any decision, it’s important to research and weigh the pros and cons in what would work to meet individual needs. It’s also realistic to know ahead of time the Thousand Trails system is full of flaws and is nowhere near perfection.

For those interested in researching a membership, I highly recommend talking to Kim or Chad at Campground Membership Outlet (tell them they came RandomBitsRV recommended).   We purchased our Elite level through Kim, who patiently listened to our needs and educated us on what membership would fit us.  She also worked to get us the best deal financially.  To realize the money benefit of talking to Kim or Chad first, obtain details from them and then seek the same through Thousand Trails directly–the savings will speak for themselves.   Thousand Trails memberships are resold by people who come off the road and Chad and Kim know their business and can successfully help in any buy/resell situation.

I am happy to honestly discuss any Thousand Trail questions in the comments below from our perspective and experience.  We are not advocating the system is right for everyone–we can only attest it has fit our needs and has already paid for itself in two years of being full time on the road.  It is also important to note Thousand Trails is only one of several RV park discounts in our arsenal.  We love our ability to plan stays and exercise our freedom in ways that benefit and enrich our lifestyle, which is what RV life is all about.

 

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

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Source: Thousand Trails Membership – Full-Time RV Life

Dawn’s Book Rack – Finding Dorothy

Dawn’s Book Rack – Finding Dorothy

Lately, it’s been difficult for me to find a novel which piques my interest enough to keep the pages turning.   Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts is one I couldn’t put down.

I gravitate toward novels which keep the plot moving, but also have a tremendous character growth throughout the story.   I find it more compelling when it’s based on factual historical accounts, which this novel utilizes.

We’ve all heard of the movie Wizard of Oz, but I wonder how many of us have read the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, complete with original illustrations.   Mr. Baum’s book was first published in 1900 and became an instant bestseller and timeless classic with more than 300,000,000 copies sold to date.   In 1939, the blockbuster Technicolor movie catapulted Judy Garland’s career and iconic song, Somewhere Over The Rainbow into legendary status.  The song has been remade and performed by hundreds of artists since the movie debuted.  How did the story come to be?  What was the true meaning behind the rainbow lyrics?

This is where Finding Dorothy completes the backstory.   Told from the point of view of Maud Gage Baum, the author’s wife.  Throughout the story, Maud’s life experiences with her husband and family reveal an intriguing parallel with the movement and experience of the Wizard of Oz plot.  The book subtly unravels how an ordinary life is turned into magic of the imagination.  It gives clues on how the story worked its way out of Mr. Baum’s fantastical mind and brought hope and color into the lives of millions of people over the years.

The book is not an Old Hollywood tell-all gossip story, although there are moments when the secrets of movie producers and directors would nowadays make infamous headlines for the #metoo movement.  It also a reveals a poignant understanding into the sadness of Judy Garland.  It’s not a syrupy, everything’s-hunky-dory type of story, either.  To say what it IS about–without giving away too much–is a gutsy story about taking chances, trying to keep grounded in practicality while soaring in a world of dreams and chasing sparkly magic.  It’s about a woman who followed her heart, raised a family, lived through financial hardships, and strived to complete the important mission to find and protect Dorothy–and honor the spirit of the story her husband created.

This book is extremely well-written, heartwarming, and inspiring.  It’s full of secrets behind the story and provides another layer of delicious richness in the tale of Oz.

It’s on my book rack as a favorite.  If you choose to add it to your book collection, I hope you enjoy it, also.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Finding Dorothy can be found on Amazon by clicking:  HERE

 

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

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Source: Dawn’s Book Rack – Finding Dorothy

Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Is A Game Changer

Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Is A Game Changer

You might be an RVer if you have a discount card for every grocery store chain in the continental United States.   It would be fair if they gave the ‘loyal shopper’ discount to each and every customer without having to register, but–well, I honestly don’t know why they don’t.  I like to beat the system, because I abhor grocery shopping.  Actually, I dislike shopping–period.

We seek out Aldi or Lidl whenever we can because of the reasonable prices on healthy and organic food.  Whole Market is lovely, but pricey.  Depending on our location at any given time, Publix, Harris Teeter, Kroger, H.E.B, and Ingles are some of our favorites for quick grab meals.  We actively seek out local farmers’ markets for produce.  See why I dislike shopping?

Other than meats, vegetables, and other guilty pleasures, there are times we just need the basics at the lowest prices.  I’m a bargain hunter, and Walmart is often the place which packs the most punch and has the biggest bang for the buck.  It’s also consistent in product brands and pricing, which suits our nomadic lifestyle.  Now, with the handy dandy pick-up service (get more information and save $10 on your first order HERE) it changes the game in not only saving money, but also time and energy for more rewarding activities.

How does it provide savings all in one swoop?  Let me tell you.

  1.  I do not wander the aisles trying to find items on my list.
  2. I don’t impulse buy by selecting interesting items which shouldn’t be part of my calorie consumption or contributing to a diabetic coma.  The sugary snacks and carbs aren’t on the final tally blowing my budget, either.
  3. I shop on line, at my convenience, in my own home, with a comprehensive list.
  4. I can easily find exactly what I’m looking for in the quantity I need at the lowest price.
  5. I don’t wait in line at the checkout.
  6. My groceries are bagged and brought to my car.
  7. The energy stores saved by roaming around can be used for a longer walk among nature in the evening or a bicycle ride.
  8. The frustration with lack of manners of some fellow human beings magically disappears, thus giving me peace, a sense of calm, and eliminates stress.

Not everything can be found at Walmart, but the majority of general pantry basics are there.  I’m sure other groceries (Amazon/Fresh Market offers home delivery) will be adding this to the customer’s experience as convenience and technology become second nature.

Some may view shopping like this as lazy, and I understand the point of view.   In return, I say, “Go on with your energetic self and have at it.”  Some people can’t, though.  As a person with rheumatoid disease, any energy I can trade shopping for an enjoyable activity is a blessing in my book.  It could be a game changer for a busy mom or dad, the elderly with mobility issues, people who aren’t feeling well, or working long overtime hours that are exhausting.  Please don’t knock it until you try it.

It’s quite easy.  Click:  Walmart Grocery PickUp.  That link will give you $10 off your first purchase.  Create a sign-in, shop and select your items.  Then choose the store nearest you, select the date and time for pick up, and pay.  When your order is ready, they’ll e-mail you.  Let them know you’re on your way.  Park in a slot at the pickup area.  They’ll tote your groceries out, load them in the car, and they do it with a friendly smile.  Voila!  Grocery shopping is DONE.  You’ll even get a survey afterward to make sure your order was correct and the service was on point.

Now, if I could just find someone to load everything in the motorhome, do the Tetris puzzle in the fridge, and organize the pantry, I’d be in heaven.

Have you tried the grocery pickup?  Did you find it convenient?  Can you suggest other services to help busy or traveling folks?

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

 

 

 

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Source: Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Is A Game Changer

Thousand Trails Forest Lake Preserve – Advance NC – Full-Time RV Life

Thousand Trails Forest Lake Preserve – Advance NC – Full-Time RV Life

We recently spent 28 days at the Forest Lake Preserve in Advance, North Carolina, which is one of the Thousand Trails properties within our membership.

The campground was spacious and included several amenities for relaxation and entertainment.  The pool wasn’t open during the colder month of March, but walks around the lake and wooded area throughout the campground were pleasant and peaceful.  We did enjoy an evening of socializing with fellow RVillage friends in the spacious adult lounge area, scattered with soft couches and chairs and a cozy ‘living room’ feeling.  The family lounge was complete with an arcade, library with a take-one-leave-one book nook, and many tables for card games and crafts.  There was a playground and putt-putt golf course.  The lake was scenic with a nice wooden bridge crossing.  The laundry room and restrooms were clean and up to date.  The Preserve is nestled in a wooded and hilly area and well maintained.  Below is Mike’s video tour of the campground and amenities.

Since we use a golf cart to navigate longer distances because of mobility issues, we were pleasantly surprised to find quiet trails along the river and forest areas with peaceful views.  It was a treat for the trails to allow carts so non-hikers like us were able to enjoy the scenic areas of the park.

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We found a peaceful view of the river from one of the golf cart trails.
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Pausing to appreciate a quiet moment.

While Advance is in a remote area of North Carolina, we did enjoy the small town of Lexington and ventured into the larger Winston Salem area for provisioning.  We got to meet up with friends, Budhi and Cindy at one of the restaurants in Lexington for some Carolina-style BBQ.

Our dear friend Judy came to visit us over a weekend and family joined us the next.  During our family visit, we all contributed to meals and Mike got to use his beloved Blackstone.   The temperatures were a bit chilly, but we still enjoyed some time in the evening under The Clam and the fire bowl kept us nice and toasty while we enjoyed our company.   My brother whipped us up some homemade mac-n-cheese and sloppy joe using my Granny’s recipe–a cherished family memory.

We took a drive to Mount Airy,  the home of Andy Griffith.  There was much more to see, but we were concentrated on the visit with family and didn’t spend too much sightseeing.

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Mike and I took a drive to Mocksville, North Carolina, and found the Joppa Cemetery.  We discover something (or someone) interesting and unique in each burial place we visit, and this one included the parents of Daniel Boone.  We visited on a drizzly day and the cemetery had a bit of spookiness to it, but we enjoyed our stroll.

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The tree to the right and behind the stone was completely toppled over, leaving a huge hole in the ground where the roots once held.  No human remains were visible, but it’s no telling what more rain could uncover. 
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Toward the back corner of the cemetery, there was a hidden geocache, so our stroll had an added bonus.  
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Here among old memorial stones, someone still remembers.

We enjoyed our stay at Forest Lake Preserve and the Advance, North Carolina, area and look forward to returning in warmer temperatures.

Have you visited this area of North Carolina?  What can we put on our list to explore the next time we are there?

 

Please visit the RandomBitsRV Amazon Store to see our favorite items which make this lifestyle easier.  

RandomBits is an Amazon affiliate, which helps to support this blog.  Would you please consider using the following link for your Amazon shopping?  It costs you absolutely nothing, and Amazon gives us a very small amount of your purchase for advertising purposes.  Please click here:  Amazon.

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Source: Thousand Trails Forest Lake Preserve – Advance NC – Full-Time RV Life

To Diesel, or Not to Diesel

To Diesel, or Not to Diesel

Photo: a 2019 Ford F-250 towing an Airstream trailer | Courtesy Ford Motor Company

By Jason Epperson

One of the most common questions people have when they’re about to buy an RV (or a truck to pull one) is whether or not to get a diesel. Hands down, a diesel is “better” if your definition is more power and more durability, but you have to weigh the cost against the benefits. On a 2019 Ford Super Duty (F-250 & F-350) the upgrade from the 6.2L gasoline engine to the 6.7L Power Stroke turbo diesel is $9,120. And the current national average has diesel fuel up $0.28 over gasoline.

Of course, if you ask most diesel owners, they’re going to tell you it’s absolutely worth it. If you ask most gasoline engine owners, they’ll say they get by just fine with a fatter bank account. And it’s nearly impossible to tell you with 100% certainty which engine is right for you. Instead, let’s consider the pros and cons of each.

Fuel efficiency

Diesel engines are more efficient—meaning a gallon of diesel delivers about 12% more energy than a gallon of gasoline. That difference is magnified on long highway hauls and reduced in stop-and-go traffic.

But at the moment, diesel fuel is about 10% more expensive than regular gasoline, and that number fluctuates. Some gassers want you to put the good stuff in, though. If the gas engine demands premium fuel, the edge goes to the diesel. But is it an edge worth $10,000? Probably not. If you put 15,000 miles on your vehicle, you’ll save about $400 per year.

DEF Fluid

All modern diesels require Diesel Exhaust Fluid, which, for that same 15,000 miles per year will run you $250-$300. So now, that $400 savings is cut to $100-$150. And if the gasser can run on regular instead of premium, it’s now clearly in the win category…

Weight and Towing

….sort of. Fuel efficiency is way more complicated than just a simple equation. Diesel engines care a lot less about weight than gasoline engines. Meaning that if you add a trailer into the mix, the gasoline-powered truck will lose a greater percentage of fuel efficiency than the diesel. Similarly, on steep grades, diesels will care a bit less. How much? Impossible to say. There are too many variables. But diesels certainly outshine gassers when hauling heavy loads (including their own weight if it’s a motorhome). The bigger the RV, the more efficient it is to have a diesel.

There’s a whole lot of extra low-end torque on a diesel, too. Meaning that you’ll be a lot more comfortable pulling a big RV up a grade, or even just out of a campsite.

Exhaust Brakes

Diesel engines can (but don’t always) incorporate an exhaust brake, which helps control the vehicle on steep grades without wearing on the wheel brakes. It’s a huge advantage for towing big rigs on mountain passes.

Range

Even though diesel fuel is more expensive, the same number of gallons are going to get you further, meaning a few less fill-ups.

Maintenance and Cost to repair

Overall, regular diesel maintenance is a bit cheaper, but repairs are more expensive. Oil usually only needs to be changed once a year. There are no spark plugs or wires. And since diesel engines have fewer problems than gas engines, you’re likely to have fewer repairs. But those repairs, when they do happen, are much more expensive on a diesel—especially those with modern emissions systems.

Useful Life

A good diesel engine may last 300,000 to 500,000 miles or more before a re-build is necessary. Gasoline engines are more likely to clunk out between 150,000 and 200,000. Most motorhomes are never driven anywhere near this many miles, but it’s an essential consideration for a pick-up truck.

Resale Value

That engine life means diesel engines hold their value longer. That’s why many diesel trucks that are 15 years old are still worth well over $20,000.

Fuel Accessibility

You might think diesel is more difficult to come by, making this category a “win” for gassers, but the problem arises when you try to pull a long rig into a standard gas station fuel island. It’s a big challenge for many, especially if they are towing. Diesel owners can use the truck pumps at a truck stop, and even the smaller rural stations often have the diesel pump off to the side for easier access.

The Bottom Line

A diesel gets better fuel economy t