Tuesday, December 31, 2019

'19 Review / '20 Outlook

This was the thirteenth year we have been retired and it was a year of BIG changes. After living in Opus, our house on wheels since 2007, we decided it was time to slow down and plant some roots in Florida. In January we closed on a condo in the Lexington Lakes community in Stuart, Florida. As if to prove we still love the roaming lifestyle, we drove from the Keys, closed on the condo and then went back to the Keys for the remainder of the month. In February we went back to Stuart for 31 days before heading to our favorite RV park, Betty's in Abbeville, LA. In April we returned to Lex Lakes for six weeks before heading out at the end of May for a summer of travel. We headed north with short stops in St. Augustine, Woodbine, GA, Lexington, SC, and Asheville, NC before spending five days at the Escapee's park in Heiskell, TN where we were able to give Opus a good bath and do a couple other chores. Next stop was seven days in Berea, KY for the Hoard – Santek wedding, then to West Virginia to tour the capitol and stop in Marietta and Senecaville, OH to see family and friends. That was followed by a week in Ohio Amish country, and a week of fishing at Pymatuning before our annual extended stay in WashPA. From there we went to DC to visit family and then to the Outer Banks for three weeks of celebrating. From there it was a sprint back home to Stuart until the end of the year.

While doing all this we put 5,205 miles on Opus and 8,938 on the CRV. Our average fuel cost this year was $2.84 a gallon which was $.26 a gallon less than last year and $.11 a gallon less than our thirteen year average. We seem to have the idea of not driving a lot of miles per day mastered. This year our 30 travel days averaged 173 miles, the same as last year and 11 miles less than all our travel days since hitting the road in 2007. We always say the perfect day is to leave by the crack of 10:00 AM, travel 200 miles and stop by 2:00 PM, so we are doing even better than that. A big difference in our schedule is this year Opus was in storage 124 days and in RV parks 241 days. We paid an average of $24.44 a day for RV parks, which is higher than usual. That is because eleven of our 27 stops were for only one night and we only had eight nights of free stays. We are also now paying $160 a month when Opus is in storage.

We rang in 2019 at the Florida Keys Elks where we got to see many old friends including George and Linda, Gary and Jean, Tim and Patty, Dennis and Sue, Jim and Christine, Dick and Beth and Mary who are usually there when we visit. We were sad to hear that Beth passed away just this week while in the Keys. On February 1 we returned to Stuart and spent a month working on the condo. While it was in move-in condition, Nanc had many changes planned that kept us busy. Georgie came down for a stay and my cousin Missy, her husband Marty, his sister Teresa and brother-in-law Jay stopped by for a visit. We spent time with George and Nan and enjoyed many local restaurants and the area music scene. At the beginning of March we did a four day sprint to our favorite place, Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA for 38 days. While there we got to spend time with many old friends and as always made many new ones. Of course we had a wonderful time at many great local eateries, attended festivals, heard great music and enjoyed Betty's famous happy hour(s). In April we left Betty's and went back home to Stuart for six weeks. Nanc's sister Michelle came down to visit for a few days. Now, we not only see family and friends on the road, we live in a place that people love to visit so we get to see them at home.

After Memorial Day we headed north stopping at St Augustine, one of our favorite North Florida stops where we toured Flagler College. Next stop was in Georgia to add another park service site, Cumberland Island National Seashore, to our done that list. Our next stay was near Asheville where we checked out the eclectic downtown and the new Sierra Nevada brewery and pub. It was then over the mountains to Tennessee for five days where, in addition to cleaning Opus, we did a day trip to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We got to check out the new Skywalk, a swinging bridge high in the mountains, that was very neat. From there it was a short trip to Berea for the wedding where we got to spend time with family members Rick, Denise, Missy, Marty, Micheal, Amanda, Dee, Elsie and Marty and Abbie. It was a great week of celebrating and seeing family and friends.

We next stayed near Charleston to make the West Virginia capitol the 38th we have toured. From there it was a short drive to Marietta, OH to see Nanc's sister Judy and here family Betsy, Lou, Jackie, Emma, Morgan and Matt. We also toured Blennerhassett State Park near Parkersburg, WV, a reconstructed home that was built in what was wilderness the the late 1700's. With another short drive we spent four days in Senecaville where we spent time with Jimmy and Darlene and their family Joe, Kristin and Steve. While there, Georgie came out fromWashPA to do a mail delivery. Next it was on to Millersburg, OH for a very busy week. One day we went to the Ernest Warther Museum, one of the neatest places we have visited in our time on the road. We made two day trips to Canton, one to tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame and another to visit the McKinley Presidential Library and the First Ladies National Site. We have now visited 160 park service sites. On other days we visited the Age of Steam and checked out several Amish stores in the area. Our last stop before our three months in WashPA was at Mike and Sherri's cabin at Pymatuning Lake for a week of fun and fishing.

While in WashPA we did all our usual visits to doctors and the dentist. For the most part all was okay except for Nanc needing to have cataract surgery (it is scheduled in Florida in February) and Jim spending a night in the hospital because he did not drink enough water. We did make plans with all our doctors to have our records sent to Florida once we establish new doctors there. As always we enjoyed getting together with family and friends for lunch and dinner and had John's famous homemade wood fired pizza. My cousin Chuckie and his wife Deb had a family gathering where we got to spend time with my cousin Greg, his wife Carol and son Travis who we had not seen for a long time. We toured the Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park, something that has been on my to do list for a long time as Mrs. Miller was a Tidball. It was very cool. In September we flew to Europe for a Rhine River Cruise that started with a couple days in Luzern and ended in Amsterdam. It was a fantastic trip with many fun people Rick, Denise, John, Patrice, Ron, Becky, Ken, Mary, Dick, BJ, Tim, Sharon, Gail and Anne Marie.

We left WashPA in the middle of October going to Maryland to spend some time with Michelle and Keith. It was then on to Cape Hatteras National Seashore for three weeks of fishing relaxing and celebrating. One of those weeks we stayed in a beach house for a week long party celebrating our 50th Anniversary. It was a fantastic time with Rick, Denise, Linda, Phil, Mike, Sherri, John, Patrice, Richard, Valerie, Bill, Kim, Judy, Georgie, Gail, Mary Lou, Irene and Betty. Thanks to all of them who traveled a long way to help us make it a very special time with family and friends. On November 7th we left Avon and, after getting annual service done on Opus, we did a four day sprint home to Stuart.

High on our to do list was becoming Florida residents. It was a surprisingly easy process getting the domicile documents, driver's licenses, car registration, voters registration, free seniors fishing and hunting license and homesteading our new home which will give us a nice tax break. We also had to unpack the several boxes that had been stored in Georgie's basement since 2007. We saved more than we remembered and our new condo is now really looking like our home. It was not all work. On the first evening we got together with George and Nan at The Pelican for the full-moon party. Joe and Kathy were staying at Floridays, the park we stayed at in Hobe Sound last year. We got together with them several times and invited them to stay overnight. Joe cooked a wonderful fish stew for Thanksgiving and we had a great holiday together. It was great seeing them since they did not make it to Florida last year. In early December we flew to Mexico for a nine day stay at Secrets Capri for our birthdays and one more anniversary celebration. While there, we got to spend an evening having dinner at another resort with our friends Jim and Darlene who just happened to be there the same time as us. After we got back from Mexico Mark and Renita, who were visiting their daughter in Clearwater, came over for a couple days so we could show them around our new hometown. For Christmas we flew to Washington, DC to spend the holiday with Nanc's sister Michelle and her husband Keith. We are so glad we were able to be there as Michelle, who has been fighting cancer for nearly three years, is now under Hospice care. So while it was great being together and sharing old times, it was also a very sad holiday.  

So as you can see, 2019 was a very BIG year for us starting with buying a new home in Florida. We saw many new things during our travels in Opus and took two overseas trips. While our lives are changing, being able to spend time with so many friends and our family continues to be the best part of our lifestyle and we don't see that changing even though we now have a stix and brix home.

As we look ahead to 2020, on New Year's Day we will be heading to the Florida Keys Elks in Opus for one month. We are then coming back home and staying until after Memorial Day. During that time we expect to see many friends and family here in Florida. In April we will be going back to Secrets Capri with Rick and Denise for a week. When we head out we plan to head slowly toward New England to add a few capitols to our list. On the way south we plan to spend some time in WashPA just to visit with friends and family since our doctors will now be in Florida. From WashPA we want to go to Betty's RV Park before coming home to Stuart. While we have always said our plans are written in the sand and are subject to change, they are now a bit more concrete as we need to be in Florida for at least six months a year to maintain our homestead tax exemption.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

We were waiting for your end of the year summary!