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(February 11 to May 26, 2008)
February 11 to March 25: Port St. Lucie, Florida
27; FL 60; I-95; local roads
Campground: Port St. Lucie RV Resort
Although this RV resort has concrete pads and free WiFi, it wouldn't be
our first choice if there was something else in the area. The staff,
Rick and Ruth Ann, were very nice. However, the sites are very close
together, like VERY close, and the WiFi never did work out at our site.
It was even an up and down situation when I tried to use it in the
clubhouse. We had hoped to winter at Lake Magic in Orlando and make
weekly trips to Port St. Lucie to visit my mom. When it became obvious
we needed to be down there more often, we paid the penalty at Lake
Magic and went to Port St. Lucie. That meant we had to pay the going
rate for February, which was $920. OUCH!!. Next winter we'll make the
decision to spend the winter there and get a reduced long term rate.
The location of the resort is great so that worked in our favor.
We stayed at the resort for six
weeks. During that time we got to visit with Mike & Sherry Krause
who we met in 2000 in Lake City, Florida, and then saw them again out
in Mesa, Arizona at the Hofmeister's RV rally at the Lost Dutchman
State Park near Superstition Mountain. It had been several years since
we saw each other, so it was great to visit and catch up.
We also got to visit with Steve & Amy Turney who we also hadn't
seen for a few years. They were also a couple of the first folks we met
when we started our RV lifestyle.
Other than those visits, the rest of the time was spent visiting with
my mom and taking her shopping or to do other errands. I don't get to
play much golf anymore when we are on the road, but I did get to play a
few rounds with my brother, Charlie, and high school friend, Frank
Charlie has a home movie theater in his house and he let us come over
to watch all three of the Lord of the Rings movies and Ben Hur on his
100" screen. What a great home theater. Nine speakers, overhead
projector, nine reclining theater seats. Nice.
For those of you who have followed our travels it goes without saying
that Diane and I kept up with our movie watching by seeing one or two
movies a week. My mom likes the movies and we took her out every Monday
to see a movie we thought she would like to see.
Diane is still a baseball fan. One day we noticed a sign in the
clubhouse for someone selling tickets to a Braves-Mets spring training
game. We went over to the site and the lady still had them for sale. So
we bought two and went to the game on the penultimate day at the PSL RV
26 to March 28: Port St. Lucie, Florida (11 miles)
Outdoor Resorts St.
Lucie West Motorcoach Resort Outdoor
Resorts is a chain of luxury RV resorts that sell sites. We stayed at
this resort a few years ago when they had a "pay for one night, stay
for three nights" deal. The nightly rate this year was $70, which we
find outrageous and never spend that kind of money for an RV site.
However, at the Tampa RV Show we picked up a coupon for three free
nights at this resort. It's actually several miles closer to where my
mom is living than the PSL RV Resort. The Outdoor Resort is a beautiful
resort with some marvelous RV sites on which owners have done lots of
landscaping with stone walls, palm trees, huge outdoor grills, tiki
huts, etc. Plus, the resort has a small par 3 golf course. They were
pushing sites in a new section for $129,000. That's for a piece of
concrete. That's way too rich for our blood, but there are lots of
folks who are buying RV lots in these kind of resorts. Some resorts
sell lots for more than $200,000. I figure that would buy a lot
of diesel fuel.
We did some
final visiting with my mom and then bid her and my brother good-bye
until we return in the fall.
March 29 to March 30:
Lake City, Florida (272 miles)
US 27; I-4
Campground: Oaks 'n Pines RV Park I
have written about this park before. Nice park and we always stay here
when we come through this area. Great WiFi. Cable with HD stations.
Pullthru sites. Nice owners.
a two day stop to visit with Diane's brother, Jerry, and his wife,
Janet. We didn't even unhook the car.
March 31: Gulfport,
Mississippi (414 miles)
at Flying J in Midway, Florida
an overnight stop. Actually, I had intended to stop for the night at a
Camping World north of Summerdale, Alabama, but I must have not been
focusing and missed the exit. So we continued on to Gulfport and found
April 1 to April 2:
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (137 miles)
Park Campground & Horse Activity Center. This was a nice little
park on the grounds of an equestrian center. It was close to downtown
and the price was right at $12 for water and electric. You just go in
and get a site and then go pay. We heard it could be swampy after a
heavy rain, but we lucked out and there was no rain while we were there.
The reason we stopped here was to visit with some old friends. Darrell
& Judy Patterson were there attending an Escapees chapter rally. We
didn't want to stay for the rally, but we asked if we could stop by to
visit and the answer was yes. It was great to see Darrell and Judy
again. They served as tour guide and took us to visit the state capital
building and the Old State Capitol.
The Louisiana State Capitol was completed in 1932 and stands on a
27-acre tract of land. It is the tallest capitol building in the United
States at 450 feet high with 34 floors. Twenty-five rail cars were
needed to bring in the limestone used on the exterior and the interior
marbles that came from distant places, including Vermont and Italy. The
cost to complete the building was $5 million. We walked around the
lobby looking at the beauty of the design and marble. We also got to
see inside the Senate and House chambers. The grounds were lovely and
the view from the top of the building was fantastic.
The Old State Capitol sits on five acres of land. The building is
nearly 150 years old and was the first state capitol. The Louisiana
legislature voted to secede from the Union in the House Chamber in
1861. It was seized and burned by Union soldiers during the Civil War
in 1862. When the seat of government moved from Baton Rouge to
Opelousas and Shreveport, and later New Orleans, the old state capitol
building was abandoned for 20 years. The government moved back to Baton
Rouge and the capitol was restored in 1882. When the new capitol
building was finished in 1932, the old building was vacated.
The property was surrounded by a
1,575 foot 160 year old cast-iron fence. The fence was erected in 1855
and is unique in that it is made entirely of interlocking parts. Bolts
were only used to secure the posts to the base plates. The entire
length of the fence was adorned with quatrefoils and fleur de lis with
stylized pineapples on top of each stanchion. Pineapples are the
classic symbol of hospitality.
Inside were displays of Louisiana history as well as some recordings of
parts of speeches given by former governors. One of those was Huey Long
who was the governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932. He was
assassinated in the state capitol building in 1937. He was quite a
character and was noted for his radical populist policies. Listening to
some of his speeches it was evident how his charisma could rally the
people of his state.
As we walked around downtown we saw St. Joseph Cathedral and went to
visit. For more than 150 years, St. Joseph Church, now a cathedral, has
stood on the site. It was built in 1853 in a Greek Revival style of
architecture. The steeple was constructed in 1891. The parish grew and
the building was doubled in size in 1924. The inside was beautiful, but
not lavish. There was a chapel on each side of the main altar.
We ate dinner with the folks attending the rally and got to visit with
some other old friends who were there: Dave and Sharyl Tholen and Cindy
and Phil Devonshire. It was a nice, but short stop on our way west.
April 3 to April 10:
Livingston, Texas (253 miles)
I-10; US 69; FM (Farm Road)
1003; FM 943; TX 146
End. This is the home RV park for the Escapees RV Club. It's where we
"live" and our mail goes.
at Flying J in Orange, Texas
a week here to just do nothing and visit with folks. We hadn't seen
Mark Nemeth for a couple of years. We used to follow his travels on his
website before we met him during our first winter on the road. He now
works for the Escapees organization and writes a column for the
magazine. Mark is a kind of jack of all trades kind of guy. Very handy.
He even brews his own wonderful beer, makes wine, and treated Diane to
some home made soda when we visited with him at his house. We look
forward to seeing him in June at the Escapade in Gillette, Wyoming.
I got a note from Ernie Fuller telling me that he and Virginia were not
too far from Livingston and could we get together. We met them during
the winter of 2006 while we were traveling with Norm and Linda Payne.
They drove over one day and we went out to lunch to catch up. It was
nice to see them again. They are proof that RVing is for anyone who has
the will and good health to pursue the lifestyle. They are both around
80 years old and loving RVing.
One day a note came into my inbox from Sherry Krause asking us where we
were currently parked. She said they were at Rainbow's End, so we
walked over to their site, knocked on the door, and told them we were
very close. It was like feast or famine for visiting with each other.
We hadn't seen each other for years and then we visited in Port St.
Lucie and now Livingston with a few weeks. It's part of what we love
about fulltime RVing.
April 11 to April 13:
Georgetown, Texas (211 miles)
US 190; I-45; US 79; TX
95; TX 29
East View RV Park
This is a nice small park that is privately owned. It's also a Passport
America park with a two night stay allowed at that rate. Free WiFi that
Our purpose in swinging over to the Austin area was to visit some
former fulltime RVing friends and a former colleague of mine.
We met Liane and Don Holder and son, Tom, back in our early years on
the road. They came off the road and settled in Georgetown in a nice
house in a nice neighborhood. We went over to see their place and then
out to eat and chat. Since Liane and Don are part of my email group
that corresponds almost daily, there wasn't much catching up to do, so
we had a nice visit as they told us about life in a stick house after
years on the road.
Sue Hoke was a colleague of mine when I was working in Audit and
traveling around the world. We worked a few audits together and had
some fond memories of places we've visited, like the shrines and
temples in Japan, and some great meals with other colleagues. When Sue
finished up her assignment in Audit she took an assignment in Austin.
She lived only about 20 miles from the campground so we drove down to
her place where she gave us a very nice lunch. Sue had to drop off her
bike for some repairs, so she offered to give us a quick tour of
Austin. When we returned to her house, she showed us some photos of the
tour she took earlier in the year to the Holy Land. It was, at times, a
grueling tour with long rides and short sleep times, but Sue said she
loved it and was very glad she went. She saw the pyramids and the
sphinx and other sites that are high on our list of things to see.
It was great seeing everyone. Diane and I thought that someday we'll
have to come back and spend more time in the area.
April 14 to April 16:
Grapevine, Texas (190 miles)
121; local roads
Lodge. The lodge had several RV sites with electric and water on level
at Flying J in Waco, Texas
I have been to Dallas several times during my career, but Diane had
never been there. In the eight years we have been on the road our path
has never taken us through Dallas. So this time we decided to put
Dallas in our path on the way to Phoenix even though that isn't exactly
the shortest route. Another former colleague of mine, Merle Stuchell,
and his wife, Linda, live in Trophy Club, which was less than 10 miles
from the Elks Lodge.
I first met Merle in the fall of 1996 when he first joined the Audit
group and came to Japan to work on an audit. Diane was with me there
and we met Merle and showed him around Tokyo. We remember doing a lot
of walking that day. I was at the end of my first tour in Audit. I was
scheduled to be in Tokyo for eight weeks, but had to leave after five
as my dad was at the end of his battle with pancreatic cancer. I left
Audit at the end of the year and went back to a desk job. When I
realized that I really preferred the 100% travel over a job that would
have offered more opportunity to advance, I made a request to return to
Audit. That took almost 18 months. When I returned to Audit, Merle was
still there on his assignment and was then a seasoned Information
Technology auditor. I worked another two years in Audit before
retiring. Merle and I worked together several times and it was always
enjoyable. One thing is that Merle is one of the funniest story tellers
I have ever known. We had many dinners where Merle would have us all in
stitches with his stories.
We went over to their house and then out to eat and catch up on the
past eight years. We have always wanted to go downtown to see the Book
Depository. Merle had to attend a meeting, so Linda played tour guide
and drove us into Dallas to the depository. It was a very moving
experience to relive that horrible day in 1963 when JFK was
assassinated. After we finished touring the depository, Linda drove
through some areas of Dallas to show us more of the city. Then we
hooked up with Merle and went out to eat at their country club. We had
a wonderful day.
I gave my IRA to Fidelity to
manage and it turned out that my relationship manager, Richard Winters,
works out of an office in the Dallas area right near Trophy Club. We
set up a date to go over and meet him and have lunch. We spent over an
hour chatting about lots of things, including the current horrible
stock market. It was nice to meet Richard and put a face with the voice.
Pecos, Texas (422 miles)
121; I-30; I-20
Tra-Park RV Park
at Flying J in Pecos, Texas
This was just an overnight stop.
Lordsburg, New Mexico (422 miles)
at Flying J in Lordsburg, New Mexico
This was an overnight stop. If we can park in the RV area near the
restaurant we like staying at a Flying J. We go in and eat and then
relax for the rest of the evening. This Flying J was across the road
from a rail line. Of course, there was a road just up ahead so the horn
blew right at the Flying J. That doesn't bother us, plus the train
traffic slowed down during the night.
The next morning I awoke and lifted the shade in the bedroom to look
out at the wide open spaces with mountains off in the distance. I laid
there admiring the beauty of it all. Every now and then a train would
come rumbling by. I love trains. I lay there in awe of the power of the
big engines. I always count how many engines are pulling the train. The
norm seems to be two or three with a smattering of four engine trains.
I have only seen a five engine train a couple of times. I remember when
we were traveling across the northern part of the country to tour the
Oregon-Washington coast in 2005 we passed many trains that were
stopped. That was great because I always wondered how long they were.
That sample of several trains yielded a norm of about 1 1/2 miles long
with a couple that were a bit over two miles long. That's amazing. What
is truly awesome is being able to see an entire train off in the
distance from engine to the last car.
April 19 to April 26:
Mesa, Arizona (224 miles)
US 70; US 60
Ranchos at Val Vista Village
We found this place in September 2005 and stayed here in spring
2006. The sites were long concrete
pullthrus with large brick paver patios, nice table for six, a built in
gas grill, a privacy screen between the sites, garbage pickup at the
site, and even a mailbox in front of each site. The monthly rate was
$550 in 2006 and has gone to $650 in 2008. Still, you can't touch a
site like these in Florida for that price, especially in winter. The
rate we paid this time was a mix of the winter and summer rate, which
dropped to $400 per month. We paid for a month and then decided to stay
eight more days through Memorial Day Weekend. We paid $14.29 per night
for the extra nights. The only downside was that the WiFi sometimes was
iffy and was up and down. When it was up, it was fast.
Our original plan was to spend a month in the Mesa area to visit with
Diane's sister, Carol, and her family. The time was split with a week
in a timeshare unit in Carlsbad, California. The first week was spent
discussing plans for travel to Carlsbad and what to bring along versus
what to buy when we got there.
We also got to meet our neighbors at The Ranchos, Cheryl and Smitty
Smith from Grand Haven, Michigan.
April 27 to May 3:
Carlsbad, California (403 miles)
I-10; AZ 347; AZ 84; I-8;
I-805; local roads
Seapointe Resort This
is a timeshare resort.
We had never taken a vacation with Carol and Kevin, and this was their
first vacation without the kids in a long time, so we were looking
forward to this trip. I had a search in with RCI since the beginning of
the year for a timeshare unit in San Diego. They kept offering places
inland that were of no interest to us. Finally, they offered the
Seapointe Resort in Carlsbad, which is right along the Coast Highway
and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We scoped out their website and
decided to take it although it meant a drive down to San Diego to see
the sights we wanted to visit.
The drive was about the same distance I was used to driving from
Marietta, Georgia to Ocala, Florida to visit my folks when they lived
there. We set off early on a Sunday morning and got to Carlsbad in the
early afternoon. We checked in and went to see the condo and it was
great. It was a two bedroom unit and we could see the ocean from the
We decided we would make two trips to San Diego. The first one was with
the car to visit the USS Midway and Coronado Island. Back in 2006 when
we were traveling with Norm and Linda Payne, Norm and I visited the
Midway while Diane and Linda did something else. I was fine with seeing
it again as no one else in our group had been there. We toured the ship
with the self guided audio player and then went to lunch at Jsix where
Diane and I, and the Paynes, had eaten twice in 2006. Joining us for
lunch was my high school friend, Rich Gorin, who lives in San Diego. We
were shocked and saddened to hear that Rich was recently diagnoses with
Hodgkins Lymphoma and will be starting treatments soon. It
was nice to see Rich again as we enjoyed a very nice lunch. We wished
him well with his treatments and told him we would stay in touch.
After lunch we drove over to Coronado Island to see the Hotel Coronado,
which is where the movie "Some Like It Hot" was filmed. The weather was
absolutely delightful as we walked the grounds and through the hotel.
For our second trip to San Diego, the goal was to visit the Natural
History Museum in Balboa park. The museum had a special exhibit we all
wanted to see: Pompei - The Last Day. It was an excellent exhibition of
what happened the day Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the town. We
noticed that there was a commuter rail line, The Coaster, right behind
the resort so we opted to take the train into San Diego. Trains are
such fun and Diane and I love riding on trains. When we got to the city
we hopped the #7 bus per Rich Gorin's guidance and that took us right
into Balboa Park near the museum. After touring the museum we walked
around Balboa Park to admire the wonderful architecture of some of the
buildings. We also walked through the Japanese Tea Garden before
heading back to the station for the train ride back to Carlsbad.
One day we drove up to Oceanside to see a movie at a very nice Regal
Theater and to walk out on the pier. At the end of the pier was a
restaurant named Ruby's where we had lunch while looking out at the
Pacific. It doesn't get much better than that.
Another day we drove over to visit the Mission San Luis Rey which was
founded in 1798. It had a
museum attached to it with a fee to enter. Unfortunately, you could
only get to see the inside of the church by doing the museum which none
of us had a desire to do. So we walked around a bit, took some photos
of the outside of the church and continued on our little sightseeing
The resort offered a $100 coupon towards dinner at the Chart House
restaurant if we would listen to their no pressure sales pitch. We all
opted to do that to get the $100 and it was, indeed, a no pressure
pitch. The Chart House is one of those restaurants that we rarely eat
at given that it would be an expensive dinner. But with the $100 we
figured we could have a great meal and it not cost us a fortune. We
called in a reservation, but had to wait a bit to get a table by the
window. The food was fantastic and we had a great view as we watched
the sun set over the Pacific.
We were getting to the end of our week in Carlsbad with a visit from my
cousin Gary and his wife, Doreen, coming up on Friday and Saturday.
Gary moved from Tampa to Temecula and is my cousin Jay's brother who
lives in Tampa and who we visit every year when we do the Tampa RV
Show. Neither Gary nor I could remember the last time we saw each
other, but we agreed it was at least more than 20 years ago, although I
had seen Doreen in the last few years when she brought my Aunt Mary
over to Ocala to see my mom. It was great to see Gary again. I wasn't
sure I would recognize him, but I told him I would have known him had I
bumped into him on the street. Just an older version of who I
remembered. When I told them we were coming to Carlsbad and would like
to visit they decided to book a weekend at the Hilton about a mile, or
so, up the road.
We got together on Friday to go eat at a Bucca di Beppo in Carlsbad. If
you've never eaten at a Bucca, and there is one in your area or in your
path, give it a try. They serve family style and is a good meal for the
money. Our final evening in Carlsbad was spent at the condo with Gary
and Doreen over for dinner. Kevin made his signature roast surrounded
with potatoes and veggies and we spent the evening eating and chatting.
It was a great way to end our vacation week.
Traveling with Carol and Kevin was a treat and I know Diane loved the
opportunity. Our body clocks were totally different with them being
early to bed and early to rise, and Diane and I just the opposite. By
the time we got up and around, Carol and Kevin had their breakfast, got
their coffee, sometimes walked down to the beach, and picked up the
newspapers. Everything worked out perfectly and we hope we get an
opportunity to travel with them again.
May 4 to May 26:
Mesa, Arizona (403 miles)
Reverse of the last entry
Ranchos at Val Vista Village
On May 19 we celebrated eight years on the road as fulltime RVers. We
continue to love the travel and see no end in sight. We figure we'll
know when the time comes for us to come off the road. We are still
amused by non-RVers who don't understand how we live fulltime in an RV.
It's fun to tell them that we are proof that two people really can live
in 384 square feet. I remember my mom telling my brother when we
started out in 2000 that she would give us six months. Now we start our
ninth year on the road with many more places to see and things to do.
Our time in the Phoenix area was mostly spent visiting with Carol and
Kevin, shopping, relaxing, and doing chores. With a great AMC movie
theater close by we were able to stay up on new movies.
We also got to have a nice lunch with Ron and Barb Hofmeister who were
part of our group of mentors as we researched the RV fulltiming
lifestyle and the started out.
Bruce Fogel is Rich's partner and lives and works in Phoenix. We met
him back in 2001. We hooked up for lunch to catch up and to get an
update on Rich's illness and treatment program. Bruce said he is
"cheerleader in chief" as part of Rich's support system while he
undergoes treatment for the Hodgkins.
Although we were originally slated to leave the area on May 19 we
decided to stay eight more days through Memorial Day Weekend. That
allowed us to attend a Memorial Day party at Carol and Kevin's place.
It was certainly past the time to hit the road as the temperatures had
reached the 100 to 110 degree range in our last week in the area
setting new record highs. We
both enjoyed our five weeks in Mesa. We like the area and I know Diane
and Carol enjoyed seeing each other again. There's no telling when we
will be out this way again.
Until next time, safe
Copyright © 2008,
Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
All Rights Reserved