Rick and I are happy to announce that there is a bundle of joy on its way! Our daughter Ashley is pregnant with our 6th grandchild.
Her due date is September 2017.
North Carolina has a special place in our hearts. It’s the state that has beautiful mountains, coastlines and memories! It’s where Rick and I first started our married lives together. It’s also the state where Thomas was born, met his first best friend and started kindergarten. Nick was born in Texas and living in North Carolina before he was two years old. He also made his first best friend there. Ashley was born in the state and would have loved to have grown up on the coast because of her passion for surfing.
North Carolina is where we returned recently to spend some of our Vagabond days. Our arrival was Labor Day weekend. Nick has been stationed here for five years and owns a home in Wilmington where he lives with his fiancée Ashley and her daughter Laini. The Rains of Hermine and a broken air conditioner at our son’s house couldn’t spoil this reunion.
This was a special visit because the two families were coming together for the first time to meet each other and celebrate Laini’s sixth birthday. The drinks were flowing, the food was great (have you ever had a tomato pie?) and the company was excellent. Later in the day, as the men were snoozing on the couch the women were gathered around the table talking wedding details. That left us thirsty, so we went to see the wedding venue to get drinks and come up with ideas for decorating. The reception is going to be at the Ironclad Brewery in downtown Wilmington. The location is ideal and it was decided only a minimal touch was needed for decorations.
Our residence for ten days was the military campground on Camp Lejeune’s Onslow Beach. It was right on the ocean with miles and miles of mostly deserted beach – a benefit of being on a military base. Angus went swimming in the Atlantic for the first time. He also chased a lot of crabs.
Ashley asked me to go wedding dress shopping with her and Nana, her grandmother. Who could say no to that? The first shop we went to had a dress on sale and it was off the rack. Ashley came out and Nana and I both said, “That’s the one!” Ashley thought so too. Just to make sure, she tried on two other dresses at that store and then more at a second and third store. Nothing compared to the first dress. After lunch, we said goodbye to Nana and Ashley and I headed back to the store for Ashley to say yes to the dress and celebrate with a wine toast!
Our last few days at Onslow Beach were memorable because we took Laini on her first camping trip. She loved it! There was a family in the tent area across from us that had a little girl Laini’s age. They hit it off immediately and became inseparable. Laini thought our campsite needed more decorations so we all decorated clothespins and the girls drew pictures that were hung around the camp from a rope.
We also met up with Mike and Dotty Dolan. Mike and Rick served in the same squadron in the Marines and have a lot of similar interests. Visiting with the Dolan’s has become somewhat of a tradition whenever we’re visiting Nick. We always have an enjoyable time catching up with them.
The time had come to say goodbye to our family and friends from the North Carolina coast and head inland. We would be back in April for the big wedding.
Our next stop was Monroe, NC, where another good friend of Rick’s from the Marine Corps lives. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Donnie and Betty Jordan and got to see their amazing old home, The Henry Hall Wilson House. They host many events at their fine historic home and were busy when we arrived getting it ready for a wedding that weekend.
Our last stop in North Carolina was near a state park called Chimney Rock. We didn’t go up to the rock that looks like a big…well, use your imagination, but we did walk around the tourist town and had a great campsite right on a river. The views were amazing as was the whole Lake Lure area. This about sums up our North Carolina trip!
Our next door neighbors at camp happened to be from Comfort, TX, about 20 miles from our old ranch in Medina. It was interesting talking with them because they personally know the last survivor of The Doolittle Raiders. Richard Cole is 101 years old and lives a quiet life in Comfort. Our neighbors have lunch with him every week. They told us a few interesting stories about Lt. Col. Cole and also gave us some good pointers on staying at FAM CAMPS (Air Force campgrounds).
Our next stop was Charleston Air Force Base. We had a nice site that backed up to a vacant field which was great for the dogs. We set up a basic camp again to get an early start the next morning because TS Hermine was fast approaching. We were able to meet up with a friend of Rick’s and explore a small part of Charleston’s historic district. It’s definitely on our revisit list.
The rains of Hermine have caught up to us overnight and we awoke to pouring rain. High winds had not reached us yet, so we got on the road as soon as possible. It was still dark and the rain was so heavy our visibility was only about fifty feet, and a couple of times we lost all visibility. It was slow going. The dogs didn’t help the situation. They were hungry since we didn’t feed them or let them out to do their thing. We finally stopped at a Publix and in the pouring rain took care of them. Angus left a nice mess in the parking lot and we were back on the road again.
We made it to Wilmington around 11 AM. After a brief stop at Nick and Ashley’s to drop off the dogs and me, Rick headed up to Onslow Beach to get the camper set up. It poured rain on Rick the whole time, but the dogs and I were dry!
*Basic Camp – No unloading of necessities, able to get out with ease.
Do you wonder what we eat in this Vagabond lifestyle? I’ll start out by saying every meal has to be carefully planned out do to our micro-kitchen and the outdoor grills we’re cooking on. This is something I had to adjust to very quickly. I found a lot of help on Pinterest and RV related websites.
Cooking inside is difficult in the south in the summer. The heat builds up too quickly in the camper. We have a handy two burner camp stove and this is how most of our meals are cooked. The small Weber charcoal grill also gets a lot of use. The best kitchen appliance we brought along is the crockpot. Anything can be cooked in it.
Our breakfast is typically eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, toast, or perhaps we create a breakfast taco. Bagels and yogurt parfaits work when the weather is bad or we’re in a rush.
Lunch is easy. We have either leftovers or sandwiches. There’s a small microwave in the camper that we use occasionally to warm up food. The problem with the microwave is that it pulls so much amperage we have to shut the air conditioning off or the breaker trips.
Dinners are a varied mix of everything you can imagine; Italian sausages with peppers and onions, fish tacos with fresh fish, pasta and sauce (which I made and froze), Arroz con Pollo, pork chops and pot roast in the crockpot, steak, hamburgers, grilled chicken, pizza on the grill, etc. I’ve also tried several recipes I found on the internet; beef cabbage roll casserole, beefy cheesy low-carb green chili bake, and crock-pot chicken and stuffing.
We’re not skimping because of our tiny home – we’re just planning carefully. Cookies would taste good about right now, but it’s too hot to bake anything. Rick would like ice cream, but there really isn’t enough room in the freezer (he says we can make room).
We’re also grateful to have been invited to friends’ house for dinner! A big thanks to the Schwan’s and Dosev’s who invited us to dine with them in their beautiful homes.
We’re in our third week of the RV lifestyle and making good progress adapting. Here are my thoughts and observations so far:
The dogs have adjusted pretty well to this lifestyle. “Major” travels well in the back seat area but “Angus” can’t sit still. He paces back and forth and occasionally stands with his head over the center and pants heavily, which bugs a certain male human to no end. Walking the dogs has its ups and downs. Angus wants to walk and while Major dawdles and has to think about every step.
We have been told that our dogs are well behaved in the campground. They don’t bark at other dogs and rarely bark at all.
The Blue Angels practice three times a day and fly right over the NAS Pensacola campground. Angus doesn’t like that at all. Maybe it’s the high pitched whine of a jet in afterburner or just the loudness of it all. It’s funny that this scares Angus and doesn’t bother Major one bit.
Google Maps is our very best friend to get from point A to point B especially if we use the back roads.
Our mileage between stops is based on 4-5 hour drive…no more. Stopping for lunch at a road side rest area is a must for the dog’s sake.
Being retired from the military has its benefits. Two of our three stops so far have been in campgrounds on military bases. We feel secure and have access to all amenities, especially inexpensive laundromats.
The shower in our humble abode is so tiny that campground showers are a must. So far it’s been an OK experience. Camp showers are clean, roomy, and pretty much bug-free.
Campground internet is great when it works. The Pensacola campground internet hasn’t worked in a week due to a lighting strike.
Grounds personnel do all the mowing and yard work. I still can’t grasp the idea that we don’t have to do that ever again!
Inside the camper we have a small three burner stove and a small oven. We used the stove to heat water one day. Not only did it heat the water but it heated the entire camper, which wasn’t too pleasant because it’s already hot and humid. No more of that until winter. We cook outdoors most of the time – on the grill and a stand up camp stove.
Our refrigerator is small and the freezer is even smaller so we can only shop for 3-4 days’ worth of food.
Cleaning the camper takes maybe 10 minutes (that’s very nice!).
Heavy duty Surge Protectors are a necessity to prevent your electrical system from being damaged.
We haven’t missed having a TV although, when we have internet, we can get Netflix.
RV forums have a wealth of information for full-timers. They’ve saved us a lot of time and money.
Glue traps come in handy to catch mice as in last night. We woke up to the sound of something clicking thinking it was Angus dreaming. Instead, he was standing and staring at the bathroom. There it was the mouse stuck on the glue trap!! Glue Trap – 1 Mouse – 0.
Thankfully, Rick is quite the handyman. He’s repaired the closet rod which fell during transit on the crazy bumpy Louisiana highway. Our refrigerator vent cover went missing during our transit from Gulfport to Pensacola. That turned our nice looking camper into a ghetto camper. We ordered the part from Amazon and he fixed that this morning. Thank you Mr. Fix It Man no more Ghetto Camper!
ODDS AND ENDS
Our clothing is very basic; most of the time we’re in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops. Everyone in the campground is the same way. There’s no reason to get dressed up.
Sad to say we have run out of our own farm fresh chicken eggs.
August 13: Welcome Brady Gene Ferri!
Today the sun shined and started drying things out, but that’s not why our day got BRIGHTER. Our brighter day actually started the night before with a text from our son saying they we’re heading to the hospital. Then, at 3:05 AM, Saturday, August 13, 2016, Brady Gene Ferri entered this world at a whopping 9lbs. 11 oz., 22” long and lots of dark hair.
As our daughter-in-law, Jess, a gifted writer, put her thoughts into these words:
“God blesses us with Brady “Bo” Gene Ferri at 3:05 this morning He is 100% solid beefcake – 9 lbs. 11 oz. and 22” long. Yup, you read that right!
Brady means “spirited,” and he is named after some of the most spirited angels we know looking down on him. The Gene is shared with our Manda Jean and my Grandpa Eugene, and Brady was Manda’s all- time favorite football player.
This kid has some pretty big shoes to fill. Luckily, he’s a giant.”
We know he will fill those shoes because he has two loving and caring parents. Congratulations to Thomas, Jess and big brothers Tyson and Desmond. Mom and baby are doing fantastic.
This is why our day got BRIGHTER. We are proud grandparents to the most amazing grandsons…did I mention Brady makes it #4?