The long and winding road

that leads to your door….

We walk this campground road every morning and every evening for the boys’ exercise….and always carry our trash….to drop as we wind past the dump station.

Ross always walks faster than Ryan, and always walks with Robyn, so they’re always out in front of the camera crew.

We’ve been in this campground for nearly four weeks, the result of events that brought us here early and kept us longer than planned. Won’t leave for another week.

Pretty strange to be in one spot for so long. Thank goodness it’s so lovely! It’s so big, we have trouble exploring it all because we’re parked at one end. Still, we learn more about the areas we’ve seen many times as we walk past again….the light is different, different animals are noisy, or we’re walking slower in the warm sunshine.

And sometimes sundown is more remarkable than usual…..

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So many Valentines

I’m a lucky guy, surrounded by my Valentines.

The obvious one has been with me, working hip-and-thigh on this lifetime project, for the past 18 years. Robyn is a rare beauty, because she thrives on the responsibility to meet the needs of these two young men who live with us. While it’s true that the responsibility also nearly overwhelms her on occasion, it’s also true that those occasions often cause her to review her priorities and her approach to our living arrangements….and the result can be something as earth-shaking as selling her house and van, and going on the road fulltime!

Robyn is thriving on the simplicity of our lives….because it allows her almost total focus on Ross and Ryan in surroundings that meet her own needs so nicely. She gets high on the constant view of nature and our ability to walk along quiet roads and trails through the woods and along the lakes.

My other Valentines are the two who have caused this upheaval in our lives, and allowed us to focus our attention almost totally on them.

“The little tyrants!” I hear you say.

Not really. That would give them credit for decision-making, and they just don’t have it.

They know what they like, and they know what they don’t like. And without any inhibitions, they tell it like it is! We work to understand their communication of likes and dislikes, in order to maximize the former.

They’re pretty good at conditioning, meaning we can condition them to respond fairly predictably. And they have unknowingly conditioned us to respond predictably! We have quite a number of routines that help things go quite smoothly…if only we could keep every day going through those routines.

My other Valentine is more distant. Jared adds another dimension to my life by his daily contacts….and stories of his efforts and escapades!

It’s an interesting life I lead, and I love it!

It’s nice to have each one of you along to share it with us.

Honey, where are my earmuffs?

Wowser, woke up to 24 degrees this morning!

Weather service predicted 21, so we were warned, and I unhooked our water last night. Others didn’t….and had their hoses unhooked and spread out to thaw in the sun this morning.

One camper left behind this memento that lasted the whole day!

Down to 27 tonight, but then up to the mid 60s later in the week.

We really are enjoying our stay in this weather….usually sunny with a light breeze, and cool enough that we always stay comfortable with just a light jacket or hoody.

The boys return from our walks with cool cheeks and warm hands!

Our furry friends

This place is nearly overrun with squirrels!

Acorns abound, and the squirrels are nuts about them.

Sorry.

These furry munchkins are in constant motion through the dry leaves….leaping from tree to tree….running across the camp road….and chasing each other. When walking, we hear many more squirrels moving and talking than we do birds.

Although not quite fearless of humans, they are still pretty calm around us. If I always kept the camera with me, you’d have some pretty amazing pictures here!

These pictures were taken from the coach….one right through the windshield, and the other through an opened side window. This thing is a pretty good “blind”.

Familiarity breeds . . . comfort

No posting for 4 days? Wow, time flies when we’re having fun!

Actually, you’ve not missed anything new or big. Notice no pictures? We’ve just been “doing life” here, and it’s been the same old thing.

Morning fog, short walk with the boys (past the dumpster with our trash), stuff in and around the coach, lunch, short nap, long afternoon walk, rocking chairs at the coach, supper, short walk (past dumpster again), winding down in the coach, bedtime.

In the midst of all that yesterday, I pulled apart a panel under the coach to scout a water leak, found it, and fixed it.

We have found that our time here has altered our thinking a little more about “the plan”. You’ll recall we started this wintertime loop after Thanksgiving with the intention to swing through Florida. Then we got a hint of hot weather in North Carolina, and asked ourselves why we wanted to experience hot weather on an extended basis, decided we didn’t, and changed the trip to go south only as far as Georgia.

At the same time, we had begun experiencing these federal campgrounds, and found them to be much more inviting than most of the state parks where we’d camped….because they have bigger sites that are spread out more, and they usually are just campgrounds (so you don’t have lots of noise and activity from day-use people & stuff), and they’re a couple bucks per night cheaper (which becomes a lot cheaper for us because the twins get half off due to their handicap).

When we slowed down our travels to spend more time in these places, we found it to work just fine! You know how much we enjoyed our three weeks in Petersburg Campground near Augusta, GA. We’re feeling much the same here in Twin Lakes, near Clemson, SC.

We love being surrounded by woods and lake. We love the tranquility of the place (this week we’ve been the only campers here!). We have enjoyed exploring the whole campground on our walks, and we know which loops to walk when it’s cold, or windy, or hot, or when we want a really long walk…..

Our exploration of this great land is changing…..we’ve learned more about our wants and needs, and learned new ways to get them. We don’t enjoy cities and we don’t need to eat in a different restaurant every evening.

We can’t explore every natural craig and cranny, and so it looks like we’ll spend more time in these federal campgrounds seeing up close the nature they encompass. We’ll move from one to the next and take the scenic route in between. The terrain has varied a surprising amount just from North Carolina to South Carolina, so we will enjoy getting up into Pennsylvania and over into Illinois. We will try to stay for at least 14 days in each one.

There will be variations from this plan all the time: we already have plans in the works to spend a few days with friends at Maumee Bay State Park in early May as part of the spring birding event, and we have routine maintenance shortly after at the Spartan Chassis factory in CharLOTTE, MI. We might not see a federal campground for a month!

Enjoy it every way we can

Walking is our most frequent way to enjoy where we are, whether it’s a campground or shopping mall.

Here, we have several loops for campsites, and they each have a personality….not to mention quite different lengths to their loops.

On a breezy day, our loop is exhilarating because it is so exposed. Other loops are more shady or open, and one has quite a bit of up and down to challenge our energy.

But when we get back to the coach, there’s the other way to enjoy our site….from a rocking chair. The boys can’t appreciate the view, but they certainly “get” the breeze and all the sounds from the lake that surrounds our coach on three sides!

Had to show you the second shot of the boys because it typifies them so much! Notice that Ross is rocking so much he’s getting air! He is SO keen about a rocking motion.

Ryan is Mr Tactile, and can’t bear to just sit in the chair, even if it does move. He always explores the ground in front of the chair, and usually collects a pebble or twig to hold tightly in his fingers.

This was the first kayak we’ve seen on the lake.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

It was 25 years ago today that Jared entered this world as our sweet bundle of joy!

From the first moment, he brought comfort to his mother and me. He was a great baby, an amazing toddler, a fabulous little boy, a great teenager (really), and has become a wonderful young man.

Today, a quarter-century later, he has endured and learned from his brothers’ challenging birth and life, his parents’ divorce and remarriages, and all of us moving away from him and his hometown!

Today, he is talented and capable, energetic and hardworking, spirited and steadfast, friendly and kind.

He is the best big brother Ross and Ryan could ever have!

Sharon and Kirk, and Robyn and I are extremely proud to have him as our son!