2000 - What a Year!
We took two days to drive back from Livingston to Douglasville with an overnight stop at a Wal-Mart in Jackson, MS. We arrived back in Douglasville at our daughter Jill's house on October 6th to await the birth of grandchild #6, Ashley Brooke. She was born on Friday, October 13. The birth was fine and all was going well until Saturday morning when Theresa called to tell us that something was wrong with Ashley. She hadn't eaten for 14 hours, which was about half her life at that point. The doctor came in to check her out and decided that Ashley should be transported to Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta for more extensive tests. A specialist was called in and was pretty sure the problem was in the baby's colon. An operation was performed on this 2-day old baby to do a colostomy. It is amazing to me that they can do such surgery on such a tiny little baby, but they did and Ashley was home a few days later. She came through the operation fine and got stronger every day.
We had a trip to Las Vegas planned for late October and everything worked out OK for us to take the trip. My mom had never been there, so my brother, Charlie, suggested we give her a trip to Las Vegas as her Christmas 1999 gift. It wasn't until October that we were all able to find the time to actually let her collect on her gift. Diane and I had also never been there, but Charlie had been there several times and loves the place. It is quite a place. The hotels are quite impressive and many have some type of free show going on during the day. Treasure Island had a pirate battle; the Mirage had a waterfall and a volcano eruption; the Bellagio had a musical water display; the Venetian had its gondolas; and Luxor just looks cool.
We did one of those 4-day, 3-night deals. In addition to contributing to the local economy in the casinos, Diane and I went to see a couple of shows. We went with everyone to see one of the two resident Cirque du Soleil shows, "Mystere". Fabulous show. Diane and I also wanted to take the opportunity to see the Blue Man Group while we were there. We had seen them on Jay Leno and they are a scream. We hadn't laughed so hard in a show in quite some time. High energy, lots of fun. We are hoping to do a return visit in 2001, maybe in the spring with some of our RV full-timing friends. We all want to see the other Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, "O". It is a water-based show and I understand it is spectacular.
We stayed at Jill's place a little while longer after our return from Las Vegas and then left for Florida to spend Thanksgiving week at my mom's house. Charlie came up from Boynton Beach for the week and we got to play golf five times during the week. Of course, our mom was in heaven to have her two boys around for a solid week, and we were in heaven to be able to play golf with each other.
We also got to visit and have dinner with some of our RV friends. Norm and Linda Payne were in Florida and re-routed their itinerary so we could hook up for dinner in Ocala. Diane, Charlie, my mom, and I met the Paynes at the Outback for a great meal and visit. It was nice to see them again. It had been several months since we were together in Indiana.
Another evening we drove over to Homosassa to have dinner with Charlie's step-son, Terry, and his wife, Ann. We had eaten at a restaurant named Misty River once before and loved the snow crab claws. Terry gets the all-you-can-eat and downs several plates. I get the two pound plate and it does me just fine, with a little assist from Terry's plate.
When we were in Nappanee, IN in May to pick up our Dutch Star at the factory, we also had the hitch put on the motorhome, as well as the baseplate on our Honda to get it ready for towing. One day after we took delivery of the motorhome, we drove it and the car to Elkhart to Dan's Service Center to get the hitch and baseplate installed. That meant vacating the site at the factory in which we were parked. Being newbies at this lifestyle, we forgot to properly place a cone in the site to indicate it was reserved, although we left our hoses at the site. When we arrived back at the site, there was another motorhome parked in it. Mystified, I told the guy he was parked in my site. He explained that the site wasn't properly marked to indicate it was reserved. Well, this was the beginning of a new RV friendship with Chalmers and Betty Coe from Chassahowitzka, FL, which is near Homosassa. To hear Chalmers tell the story, he says that he realized after a few minutes discussion, that he was dealing with someone who didn't have a clue about what he was doing and was new at this game. So he agreed to move his Dutch Star to the overflow area until a site opened up in the camping area near the service center.
Chalmers and Betty drive their motorhome up into the far north of Canada every year, along with another couple, to camp and fish all summer. He gave me a card after I told him my mom lived in Ocala and told us to get in touch. I'm not sure he ever expected that to happen, but when the opportunity arose to have dinner in Homosassa, I called and invited them to join us. What was really cool is that when we were at the factory in September for some warranty work, I noticed this Dutch Star come in one day and saw someone that looked familiar sitting in the driver's seat. Sure enough, it was Chalmers and Betty heading back to FL after spending the summer in Canada. They were stopping to get some warranty work done on their coach. So we met them in May when they were on the way up to Canada and then again in September on their way back to Florida. Small world.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, Diane and I headed to Orlando to the Encore park on Route 192 near Disney World. Some friends of ours, Dan & Sue Hertz, were staying there for the winter while working for Disney World. I used to work with Dan back in the late 80s and early 90s, but I hadn't seen him in many years. He took a package and bridged to his retirement, they sold their house near Half Moon Bay, CA and took their boat to the Bahamas. What a life. After a few years, they came back to the states and have been full-timing in a motorhome ever since. Diane and I had hoped to work for Disney this year, as well, but there wasn't enough time that we could commit to them, so we abandoned the idea until the 2001-2002 winter season.
We found out that Ashley's corrective surgery to fix her colon was scheduled for December 11, so we decided to go up to Atlanta for that and just stay until after Christmas. One of the vows I made when we bought the Dutch Star was that it would never see snow. Well that was short-lived given that it snowed, not once, but twice, while we were parked at Jill's house. Sigh. The surgery went well and it seems to have corrected Ashley's colon. Thank goodness for medical technology. By year's end, she was getting better and growing every day.
The other reason we went back to the Atlanta area so early was to see a couple of shows. When we got there in October, I noticed that the new Cirque du Soleil touring show, "Dralion", would be playing in Atlanta during December and January. We love the Cirque du Soleil shows, and we especially love watching the grandkids watching the show. So we got tickets for everyone. Then we found out that Mannheim Steamroller was coming to Atlanta with their Christmas show. We love the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CDs and have always wished they'd come east with their show. However, they only seemed to stay out west with that show during the Christmas season. So wouldn't you know that after living in Atlanta for 18 years, they would come after we moved. The show was the day after the Cirque du Soleil show, so we had two shows in two nights. Wow. I was ecstatic and we had a great time.
We drove the car down to Ocala to pick up my mom and bring her back to Atlanta for Christmas, which was spent at Jill's house. Christmas was always at our house when we lived in Marietta. I told Jill that she was now the owner of entertaining the family for Christmas. Three of the four kids, and five of the six grandkids live in the Atlanta area, so I imagine that's where we'll be during the Christmas season. However, it won't be as long as it was this year and, hopefully, we can get in and out without seeing any snow in the future. Diane and I did make it through the snow and ice and, luckily, were able to escape after Christmas without hitting any bad weather. We dropped my mom off at her house on the way back to Orlando and got back to the Encore park on December 29. It was COLD for about a week and a half and everyone tends to hibernate when it's cold. We didn't get to meet our neighbors, Sandy & Paul Chamberlin, who were also in a Dutch Star, until it warmed up, and then we realized we had met each other at the Newmar factory in September. They were there watching their coach being built. Small world.
We took a ride over to Titusville one day to see the Great Outdoors RV Park. We wanted to go see the RV port homes first hand to see what they looked like. They are amazing in that some of them are 2000-3000 square feet of house plus a one, or two, car garage, AND an RV garage. It's not for us at this point in our lives, but we like to look at models.
While awaiting the arrival of John & Libby Veach at the Encore park, we took the opportunity to drive down to River Ranch to visit and have lunch with Hawk. You may remember him from a previous travelogue. It was great to see him and his dog Huck again. He will turn 80 this year and is doing just great. His plans for 2001 call for him heading west after the winter and hooking up with an RV caravan in Washington in June for an 8-week trip to Alaska. He loves to fish and told us he will leave the caravan and go off by himself to fish for a week and then re-join the next caravan that comes through for the return trip to the lower 48. What an adventure. John & Libby did it in summer of 2000, and we are still thinking about doing it in summer of 2002.
The Veaches arrived in Orlando on January 10. It was great to see them again. We hadn't seen them since we parted company in Indiana in September. Getting together on the road is one of the highlights of this lifestyle. We love to see old friends and getting out to eat and chat, sometimes for hours. They had already seen the resident Cirque du Soleil show at Disney World, "La Nouba", so Diane and I got tickets to see it as soon as we got back to Orlando. It was another great show. We now have only one more Cirque show to see and that's the other resident show in Las Vegas, "O".
WHAT A YEAR 2000 was for us. There were many milestones for us in 2000:
we both hung it up and retired early in the year.
we completed our research and implemented the plan we had for many years to buy a motorhome and start our full-timing lifestyle.
we made several new friends in our chosen lifestyle. We are much happier in the RV community than we ever were in a housing development. We find folks to be much more friendly and sociable than neighbors in houses who pretty much stayed to themselves, which was our experience in the three neighborhoods we lived in the past 23 years. I find this to be the same experience as other RVers we have met during our first year on the road.
we started our journey with a "Friends & Family Tour" and visited with lots of folks during our first three months on the road.
along the way, we saw some of the northeast, midwest, and Canada with plans to return to see more in the future.
we were blessed with another grandchild in October, Ashley Brooke.
So what's in store for us in the future? Well, here's a rough look at what we plan to do in 2001:
we will spend most of the winter in Florida before heading to Atlanta for a commitment I have with my granddaughter, April, to go to a dance on February 9.
after that, we plan to hook up with John & Libby Veach in Summerdale, AL to get ready for our trip out to the Phoenix area where we will stay until sometime in April.
in between those two commitments, we will fly back to Long Island for my 40th High School reunion on July 21.
during the almost 12 weeks after we leave Phoenix we will actually be ROAMING AMERICA as we make our way to Moscow, ID. We'll probably do Las Vegas for a few days, Bryce, Zion, and other spots yet to be determined.
after our stay in Redmond in August, we'll have about eight weeks to make our way to Albuquerque, NM for the balloon festival in early October. Again, we plan to just roam as we make our way east through Wyoming, and maybe north to Montana, then south through Colorado and into New Mexico.
then we'll start back to the east and possibly stop in Dallas to visit some friends on the way to Livingston, TX to have our vehicles inspected before heading back to the Atlanta area at the end of October.
Long range plans are to go to Alaska in summer of 2002. I'm sure we will meet many new friends along the way. Here's hoping our path will cross with many of you as we continue our journey.
Copyright © 2001, Roaming America with Rich & Diane Emond - All Rights Reserved
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