Monday, October 15, 2012

Has it really been a whole year?

Hard to believe that as of five days ago it has been one year since we moved into our campervan, Annie, and hit the road full-time.  Seems like just yesterday we were getting our house ready to sell and going through the motions of purging all of our worldly possessions down to only what we could carry in our new home.  The other day we got a kick out of looking through the stuff we have had with us for the past year and realizing that we haven’t used a fair amount of it.  Amazing to think that we are happy living with even fewer possessions than what comfortably fits into our van.

This past year we did a big figure 8 across the U.S. traveling close to 9000 miles from GA to TN, KY, OH, PA, IN, IL, IA, SD, NE, KS, NM, AZ, CA, NV, UT, CO, WY and eventually landing back in GA for a bit via KS, MO, TN and AL.  We saw a lot of beautiful things as well as some really unique ones, made some wonderful new friends and spent time with some really interesting and diverse individuals. 

We’ve learned that boondocking on BLM and National Forest land and wandering along at a casual pace is a wonderful way of life but that volunteering for those and other organizations is equally as rewarding.  All in all, our first year on the road taught us that not only can we do this but that committing to this lifestyle was one of the best decisions we could have made.  We LOVE IT!

So, here we are on the cusp of our second year of full-time RV’ing / Vandwelling.  It is only fitting we suppose that our year has once again kicked off from Darlene’s folk’s house.  We are very excited to see what the ‘new year’ has in store for us and Annie is excited to be feeling a bit more organized this time around.  OK sure, maybe Annie has no idea but we sure are happy with it.

This is what she looked like last year when we left Georgia (Oct 2011).
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This is what she looked like this year when we left Georgia (Oct 2012).
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The renovations are an ongoing project but we’re getting there!

And along the lines of last year and this year…
           Last year Nicole learned how to drive a tractor. 
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                     This year, a riding lawn mower.


Last October we headed north to PA to visit Nicole’s Uncle, then to SD to change our residency and eventually wound up in the desert SW for the rest of the winter.  This year, we head south to Nicole’s home state of Florida.  We have taken a five month ‘winter’ volunteer position with the National Forest in Ocala.

Along the way to our new home we shunpiked the back roads and took in field after field of GA snow.
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It was a wonderfully familiar cotton pickin’ sight which eventually gave way to…
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                                classic FLORIDA!

We are excited about our latest volunteer position.  So much so that we arrived two weeks early!  Funny thing, everyone else is already here too.  Seems this is quite a favored job and folks return year after year so we were lucky to get our slot.

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Our slice of the pie.  At last, after a whole year of tent destroying winds, our screen porch comes out, goes up and we are truly happy campers.

We’ll take more photos later of the ‘compound’ or the ‘gated community’, as the regulars like to call it.  The ‘clubhouse’ (actually an old trailer on site) offers the volunteers a fridge, freezer, microwave, stove, oven, internet, tv, movies, puzzles, books, horseshoes, beanbag toss, ladder golf and a general place to hang out and gather.  There are showers and an ice maker in another on-site building and since electric was provided we decided to re-connect our shore power outlets and take advantage of the opportunity to run things like a fan or heater and to actually use our fridge as it was intended to be used.
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Got the outlets framed and all wired up before we left Georgia.

About that gated community statement…
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Chain link fence with three rows of barb wire on top with another fence of three rows of barb wire on the other side is just a little insurance against unwanted visitors.  And by ‘little’ insurance we mean that within only one hour of arriving we had been told by two different people of a bear about 1/3 the length of our van in size who had actually dug under the chain link fence to obtain some sauerkraut last year.  So, it appears that the really determined ones will still find a way in.  Now, that’s comforting!  Oh, and we saw our first snake on our first day.  Only about three feet long though.  So, just a baby. 

Well, we’ve got some paperwork to finish up so that we can start training on Friday.  Training for what, you ask?  Off Highway Vehicle trail maintenance crew / OHV Trail Rangers.  There are a good few weeks of classes of all sorts including ATV riding, use & safety, CPR, First Aid, Chainsaw Training, Use of trail rakes and tire drags, Bear Safety (HA!) and so on.  They’ve already started outfitting us with brand new, out of the box, with tags still on it, stuff, too!
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Violent Orange is the color of choice for the F.S. during hunting season.

Ah… speaking of pretty colors, check out this Confederate (yes, we’re in the south) Rose from Darlene’s folk’s house. 

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