Holding Pattern

Hello there! I know it’s been a while since I’ve checked in, but since last time a lot has happened:
1. We’ve moved into our motorhome full-time. The possessions we chose to keep, and our cold-weather clothes and blankets, are in a smallish-ish climate-controlled storage unit. We promised ourselves a review and edit in the spring.
2. We have been staying in a nice RV park near Lake Travis in Austin (at a local park we like for this past month. It’s been a great location as we completed obligations with family and dear friends. But…I’ve learned that one month in one place may be too long. There’s a bit of a “Peyton Place” vibe I’ve detected….
3. I got to go to both Wisconsin and Michigan to see my sisters for our second reunion. We were in a sweet condo, on a nice sand beach on Lake Michigan. The water was warm, surprisingly calm, and great swimming – like an ocean, minus the salt! Cool weather, sweet harbor towns to explore with my sisters, and early morning solitary walks where I saw all kinds of guest cottages. It was a treat!

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4. When I returned home, the weather went from Texas HOT… to HADES HOT. Just like Stevie Wonder’s 1980 album, August was Hotter Than July!
5. We’ve bought ourselves bicycles, kind of a sport-cruiser blend… but it’s too dang hot to ride them except early, early, early in the morning! Like a kid at Christmas, I can’t wait to get up each morning to have coffee and then go ride! Well – not that I was drinking coffee when I was a kid… you know what I mean!
6. This coming Wednesday we finally head north to cooler weather! First stop, Madrid, an old mining town outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is a Gypsy Festival on Saturday, and you know I don’t want to miss out on that! There will also be dear friends, great meals together, much cooler weather, a Nia Technique class or two, and concocting cocktails in the high-desert. I promise you some great photos.

Till next time!
XO Donna

The Disney Miscalculation

From the quiet beaches of the Gulf Coast we headed inland to meet our friends Mike and Laura at Disney in Orlando.

IMG_0928When I tell you that it was easy to find our way to Disney, and to the Camp Wilderness Campground, it’s an understatement… Disney’s roads and signage are the best anywhere.

We were greeted enthusiastically, checked in quickly, and there was even a place to unhitch our tow-car. Disney also thinks of everything.  In just minutes we were backed into our cozy spot among the tall pines. When I looked around, I was a little surprised it was so crowded.

The next morning we walked two blocks to the shuttle-bus stop, and in minutes we were at the docks to catch a ferry across the lake to Magic Kingdom – Mike had planned an easy day of wandering around. He has been a vacation-club member forever, and he really enjoys off-season times. We were excited to have him as our tour guide, and I was excited to spend time with Laura.

Disclaimer: If you can think of nothing you enjoy more than taking your kiddos, or your grands, to Disney for a few days… bless you. And, skip the next three paragraphs.
If, however, you’re of the other school of thought, read on
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Disembarking the ferry and heading toward the security gate into Magic Kingdom, I noticed there were lots of families, with lots of little ones, and all with strollers. LOTS and LOTS of them. Maybe it wouldn’t be as crowded as this was looking… Spring Break was over, after all. Right?

IMG_0837But when we got through security and turned the corner onto Main Street, USA, there were thousands of people already inside! I was hit with a wave of claustrophobia, and I needed a  minute to regain my composure. We’d obviously miscalculated.

I took a photo, and texted my sister, Andee: “I WAS WRONG. THERE IS A HELL.”
With her usual sarcasm (a trait we share) she replied: “What the hell are YOU doing there when the WHOLE WORLD is on Spring Break?”  That was a darn good question.

In an attempt to get out of the fray – strollers can be lethal weapons – we looked for an upscale restaurant where we could have a calm lunch and a cocktail. The meal was disappointing, to say the least, and made even more so because the restaurant didn’t serve wine or beer.
Texting my sister again, “Andee, they don’t seem to serve cocktails here… ”
“Of course not!” she replied. “And probably a good thing… parents would all get drunk!”  I could see why.

We’d just finished lunch when Mike and Laura arrived, and we set off to do more adult-oriented things. We had dinner reservations at the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant inspired by the one built in CA in 1928.  We took a shuttle from Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios and then strolled around taking it all in.  There was so much to see, including a farmers market!

IMG_5471We arrived at Brown Derby early, and decided to sit on their outdoor patio, have a drink, and people-watch. The service, the ambiance, and the quality of the classic cocktails were all perfection.  When we went in for dinner, I saw that the walls are covered in B&W caricatures of old Hollywood stars. Laura and I stood there trying to name as many as we could.  We were shown to a very comfy booth, which was quieter, enabling us to carry on a conversation. And the food. I owed it to my sister to take a photo and tell her, “I am in HEAVEN!”

IMG_5469I will say that starting off thrown into Disney’s Magic Kingdom made us appreciate the other parks even more.  And I learned a valuable lesson: find out when Spring Break or Christmas Break ends for all of the eastern states before scheduling a trip here.

Unless, of course, you can think of nothing you’d enjoy more.
XO Donna

Paradise Found

We’ve been home for a month now, and it has rained 90% of the time.  Every day I check my weather app  (I am becoming a glutton for punishment)  and see that it is lovely in Key West, sunny and 80. I could be strolling with the gypsy chickens and sipping a Cuban coffee… Continue reading

72 Hours Out

As I’ve run into both friends, and acquaintances, over this past month, when they ask what I’m doing, I tell them about our upcoming trip. Their reactions vary greatly… from excitement, to being envious, to being flat-out frightened by the whole idea. I ask them why they feel that way, and they tell me that they dislike the idea of giving up all of their possessions,  and of having to be in new places, meeting new people all of the time.

I can understand that… it is stepping off the ledge of all that is familiar, and comfortable. But the trade-off is worth it for those of us with gypsy hearts. Like a turtle, I carry the comfortable and familiar with me everywhere I travel .

I believe that, except for a few psychopaths, people the world over all want the same things. The scenery may change, but you can look for those commonalities in everyone you meet. Just this week I met an ex-Marine, and of all things, we ended up talking about how much we both love the sound of birdsong early in the morning.

We will be in Destin, at Disney, then onto Tampa/St. Pete  before heading to Key Largo and Key West for a week.  I’ve got the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” playing in my mind. We have 2 stops planned so far for our return trip, but don’t really have details or reservations yet. Our schedule is… well, very tightly scheduled, and that makes me a teensy bit nervous, but this is more than a vacation,  it’s a test-run. If we make it through this 3,000+ mile, almost 30-day journey  in under 300 sq.ft. of living space,  it will be a miracle! Joking. Maybe. Yeah, joking, I have no doubts we will make it.

While we aren’t pioneers by any stretch of the imagination,  it will still be a learning experience for us.  If it’s as much fun as we hope, when we return we are selling our furniture, putting a few special things in storage, and when our lease is up in June we are going full-time.  If we are in your neighborhood, leave a comment and if possible, we’d love to meet you. Preferably for a cool drink with an umbrella in it!

XO Donna

Fixing a Hole

… where the rain gets in.

And, just like in the Beatles song, it stopped my mind from wandering. There’s nothing like getting out of bed first thing in the morning and having water squish through your toes to wake you up!

imageWe are good detectives and quickly figured out the general vicinity of the leak, and a temporary solution: close the slide! After drying it as much as humanly possible, we aimed a fan on it, and let it run all day and into the evening. The carpet finally dried out.

Days later, when it stopped raining, we discovered that the topper covering the slide was torn. I volunteered to climb up on the roof, bringing my trusty roll of duct tape with me.  In the end, it was all for naught… when we closed the slide again it tore my artfully arranged duct tape right off!

We drove our RV down to Houston last week, where we put it in the shop with a mechanic who comes highly recommended by our motor-home manufacturer. Besides the leaking slide, we gave him a “honey-do list.” He is a good-natured man, and took it all in stride.

He’s been keeping us updated; it should be ready sometime next week. We will pick it up, celebrate with dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant – El Tiempo in Montrose – then drive home in the morning to begin packing for a trip up north, which includes a detour to Lincoln, NE, then on to Wisconsin to see 2/3 of my sisters.

It was 91 degrees here today, and I am more than ready for some cool weather, autumn color, and apple cider!

What’s the weather like where you are?

XO Donna

One Perfect Day

In eight days of staying in our motorhome and learning the ropes,  we had only one sunny day. And, woo-doggy, it was a beauty! It was warm, instead of scorching hot or raining cats & dogs. Fluffy white clouds floated across the sky in a checkerboard pattern, pushed along by a soft breeze.

This is the kind of weather we dream of down here in Texas!

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I took a long walk in the morning, and it was so nice that I did it again in the evening.  Then I pulled out my camera as the sun was setting, to document what was right outside my windshield.

One perfect day in a summer filled with rain; the fourth wettest August on record.

Lest all the campers in the park get any ideas that this is what Austin is like all of the time, (and make plans to move here) the next day was hot and rainy and gray again. I’m certain they were glad to pack up and get home. I hate to admit it, but I sure was.

XO Donna

Goldilocks Goes Big

For the past year I have felt like Goldilocks…trying to find an RV that is “just right.”

It seems like it ought to be easy,  but with so many choices we have gone ’round and ’round in circles over this. We started out believing that what we wanted was a motorhome. But we had to rule out a trailer, which included my dream of a shiny, iconic Airstream. I’m all for an Airstream, but after attending a few RV shows and wandering through a number of them, I understand the reasons my honey isn’t.

Then we thought a Toy-Hauler would be a good idea. They are “The Mullet” of motor-homes: all business in front – bedroom/bath/kitchen, and party in the back – a garage for motorcycles and all of their necessary gear. Some even have an elevated deck in back, although I don’t know why you’d need one when you have ground everywhere. We looked at a few, and came THIS CLOSE to buying one. But didn’t.

Early this month we returned to looking in earnest for a motorhome, but couldn’t find the right one: this one’s too small, this one’s too big, this one’s too gaudy. Seriously, some of these look like they were custom-designed for Liberace! It was a challenge to find one with just the right combination of esthetics, size, age, mileage and price.

imageBut we finally did!  Here is my new home-away-from-home. Beautiful, and a bit (okay, a lot) intimidating. But if little old ladies from Pasadena can drive these babies, I figure I can, too.

Now, off to learn to co-Captain this behemoth.

XO Donna

Last Leg

We left Terlingua after breakfast; another shockingly tasty meal accompanied by great coffee. We headed north to Marfa on our way to Alpine and the Holland Hotel, where we’d spend the night before heading home the next morning. The weather was great, the riding easy and beautiful.

We rolled into Marfa in the early afternoon, hungry. After trying two places for lunch and being told we were too late, we hoped we’d have some luck at The Capri, across the street from The Thunderbird Hotel. We’d missed lunch there, too, but we did have delicious cocktails and the guys had ice-cold beers.  When I remarked about the beautiful etched glasses our drinks were served in, the bartender told us a story about a person with no arms doing the etching with their feet.

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Turns out, the story is true. The company, Rose Ann Hall, is run by Charlie Hall, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They create glassware that’s both blown and etched on site with delicate floral designs. They also do traditional colored glasses and blue-rimmed glass. I learned that Charlie Hall does indeed seek out employees with physical limitations in order to give back to the disabled community that helped him.

If you are ever heading to Marfa, remember two things: Get there in time for lunch, or you’ll have to go hungry until dinnertime.  And stop by The Capri for a cocktail (I had a Hibiscus Margarita on the rocks) to support a place that supports artisans of that caliber.

Tell them you heard about their beautiful glassware.
XO Donna

Got to get away…

It’s funny how songs just pop into your mind and get stuck there, isn’t it?
All week long I’ve been humming an old song that visited me out of nowhere. And, when I say old, I mean really old…it’s a song by Canned Heat called “Going Up the Country,” recorded in 1968 and popularized the next year at Woodstock.

The lyrics will give you an insight into my state of mind after this week: Taxes were due. It’s been raining cats & dogs. Just when you think politics can’t get any stupider, Ted Cruz did…you really can’t make this stuff up!  As the final straw, we both had the flu…causing us to miss a much anticipated wedding.

What’s a gypsy to do?

I’m going up the country, babe, do you want to go?
I’m going up the country, babe, do you want to go?
I’m going to someplace where I’ve never been before.
I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away.
I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away. 
All this fussing and fighting, man, you know I sure can’t stay.

Twisty redwoods

XO Donna