And I’m Doing This Why?

Greetings from Mayberry R.F.D.!

This past weekend, the Doodle and I piloted the Terra, that’s our almost 38′ Class A Motorhome, down Interstates 71, 75, and 81 to the Mayberry campground in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This is the beginning of our journey out of our home state of Ohio living in the Terra, on the road, for at least the next six months.

If this sounds sort of crazy to you, that’s okay. It still does to me sometimes even though it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years. Life events, many good and one horrible, have led me to this time and this way of living and I’m optimistic about the adventure before me. And just a little anxious as well.

For those of you new to Posts From Along The Road, I want to backup to four years ago so you have perhaps a better understanding of why this almost 60 year guy is becoming a nomad. I prefer the term gypsy as it seems more adventurous and mystical than nomad but simply put, I’ve become a full time RVer. Here’s how I got to this point and why.

In late August of 2015 by wife of 30 years, Barbara, was diagnosed with a Glio Blastoma brain tumor. She had been having symptoms of nausea and headaches for a few months and one night after work we decided to go to the emergency room. Not expecting anything like cancer, we and our children were devastated with the diagnosis. It had only been one and half years earlier that we lost Barb’s younger brother Greg to a brain tumor as well. A train had just hit us head on. Again.

If you knew Barb, you wouldn’t be surprised by her attitude about becoming a cancer patient. She had a number of sayings and “it is what it is” became sort of a mantra for us as she bravely persevered through two brain surgeries, two types of chemo treatment, and radiation. Through it all, she rarely complained. She showed great strength to the kids and I. She knew what the outcome would be if a miracle did not occur but that did not cause her to fear as her faith was strong and her love of God was great. We were told the average life span of someone her age was around 15 months. We were blessed to have her with us, post diagnosis, for almost 19 months. She finished her journey with cancer in early March of 2017 on her brother Greg’s birthday.

During her battle with cancer, I started journaling about what she and we were experiencing as a way to help me cope with all the emotions I was encountering. I began writing on Facebook as I would sit on our front porch while she was resting. I called those entries “Front Porch Sit’n”. As Barb’s battle continued I found that my writings helped me and a number of others that were either our friends or folks also dealing with their own cancer journey in someway.

Because of that feedback and encouragement, I decided to start this blog about two years ago and have continued writing about life experiences living now on my own. You see you never really get over losing someone that was your other half. You just get through it. You hold on to hope and have faith that life will go on for you. Not the same life but still a life worth living. I’ve found that to be true.

Prior to her cancer showing up, I had been working on convincing Barb that an RV would be great to have for weekend getaways and longer vacations. We could take the kids and their kids with us on some adventures. After nearly twenty years of convincing her, she started to warm to the idea but only for trips, not full time. We went to a couple RV shows and she was really starting to come around to the idea. Especially when the term ‘glamping’ became popular. You see she liked the idea of seeing the country at our own pace and in our own ‘hotel room on wheels’ but she did not like the idea of a ‘dump station’. Yes, she had watched the movie RV.

As this world would have it, Barb never got to join me on RV adventures. And honestly with her passing I had pretty much given up on the idea completely. But a little over a year ago, the thought started coming back to me. I had started noticing RVs on the highways again. So many different styles, sizes, and options. I wondered if it was something I should go ahead and do.

I must have looked at twenty or thirty RVs over the past year before finding the Terra and deciding to go for it. Since late July of this year, the Doodle and I have been living in the Terra full time. I have no apartment or house to go back to although my kids have offered their sofas. For a short time. If it’s an extreme situation. I love my kids! 

 

So, it’s just the Doodle and I and our essential possessions in the RV and whole bunch of other stuff left in Ohio in a rather large storage unit. As George Carlin once said, ‘And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff.’ Truth!

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So here we are today October 16, 2019, parked on a hill overlooking the rather scenic Mayberry campground. We’ll be enjoying this view for the next month before heading further down the road to South Carolina during the month of November and then Florida in December. I have us planned and booked through mid January. Then we’ll head west around the Gulf of Mexico and through Texas, New Mexico, and into Phoenix, Arizona, by late February. Just in time to spend a month enjoying Spring Baseball games. After that I’m not sure yet where the Terra will take us but that’s part of the fun of full time RV living. You make plans but keep them flexible. Kind of like life in general don’t you think?

Barb had another saying that has become a favorite for myself and our closest friends. “There’s a lesson in that”. Barb always thought of others first and even as she was going through her cancer, she kept that focus. While others were doing all they could to give her comfort and strength, she was passing it along to everyone she encountered. She gave it to me, our kids, our family, our friends, and even the staff at the hospital. She believed in not worrying about the future but trusting that at the end she would be okay. She lived her journey to the fullest and I believe there is indeed a lesson in that for all of us.

So if you are new to Posts From Along The Road, you now have the background on why I write and why I’m doing this whole RV thing. I have planned out the journey for the next few months but I’m not tied to it. I’m asking God to lead me on this adventure to see the places and meet the people I’m supposed to encounter. To experience life to the fullest on the roads I travel. To accept that it is what it is. And of course, to learn the lessons from it all.

It would be great if you would join the Doodle and I on our journey so please like and follow the blog and our social media for Posts From Along The Road. And please feel free to leave your comments on what I share and more importantly what you have experienced on your life journey. It would be a great encouragement to me to hear your stories.

That’s it for now and we’ll see you down the road….

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The Road Most Traveled

Robert Frost wrote ‘The Road Not Taken’ many years ago but its poetic message holds meaning across all time. It’s one of the very few poems I remember from my high school literature classes and I think I’m beginning to understand why it has stayed in my mind for these some 40 years.

A traveler is faced with two paths. A choice is to be made between two options. One path looks to be well traveled while the other appears to be hardly a path at all. The first has well worn tracks from those that have walked it before. The second is grass covered with barely a trace of steps being taken down it. Which to choose? Where does each go?

Coming out of high school, I had decided to go to The Ohio State University to obtain a degree in secondary education. I wanted to be a high school history teacher. It seemed like a good choice for someone just starting out in adult life. I had been a student of a couple really excellent history teachers and they had inspired me to take that path.

But after just one quarter at Ohio State, I determined that four years of undergraduate and a couple more years of graduate studies were simply to long. I wanted to get going with a career and living life much sooner. So I switched to Computer Science at the two year tech college and received my associates degree.

I spent over thirty seven years in the I.T. field, leveraging that two year degree, working my way across many positions and levels of responsibility. Some of the work was tough while some was pretty easy but all of the programs, systems, and teams I worked on have helped make me who I am today. And have also brought me to where I am today.

I do wonder some days how being a history teacher would have gone for me. Would I have been successful reaching young minds and making dusty events from years ago relevant in their lives? I like to think I would have been. My teachers did that for me.

And I also had the example of Mr. Gower from the 1984 classic movie Teachers. If you have not watched the movie give it a shot. From the first time I saw Mr. Gower stumble into the high school history class as a substitute teacher, I wanted to be like him. You see Mr. Gower, not being a real teacher at all, was a little looney and had wandered away from a mental institution. He brought a different way of teaching history to the classroom.

When he came to class dressed as George Washington and re-enacted the crossing of the Delaware with his students, I thought that’s exactly how I would do it. I too would take the looney path if for no other reason than it was different and just might lead me to something really special.

Richard Mulligan as Mr. Gower in Teachers

The line most folks remember from the Robert Frost poem is probably this, ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by.’ But it’s the last line that has stuck with me all these years of choosing different paths.

‘And that has made all the difference.’

At times I have taken the road most traveled and at other times I’ve chosen the one traveled less. Every one of those choices were the correct ones to make. Some were easy to walk and others brought me difficulties. But I now understand that it’s not choosing the right path to the right destination that is important. It’s simply the journey that makes life worthwhile.

Tomorrow, the Doodle and I start down our next path. After a couple months of getting used to living in our RV, the Terra, we begin our journey out of Ohio. For the next six months we will be choosing paths and roads that many have traveled and some that few have gone down. But as Robert Frost penned, I know that each choice, including the little looney one of living in a RV, will make all the difference.

I hope you join us as we travel by following our blog posts. We’re going to use the blog as a daily journal for the most part. Some entries will be short while some longer in thought and some will even be shared by the Doodle from her perspective. Those will probably be the most entertaining.

So again, I hope you join us on our adventure. And please contribute your thoughts and comments on our postings. I’d love to hear your stories on the paths you have taken.

See you down the road….

The Seldom Seen Road

For the past year, I have been living in a very nice two-bedroom apartment in Powell, Ohio, which overlooks a road called Seldom Seen. It’s not a very long road, maybe two to three miles in length that connects the Scioto Riverside Drive to Liberty Road. I was curious as to why the road was named Seldom Seen because today it’s pretty busy and just about everyone in our community knows where to look for Seldom Seen. Should be renamed to Frequently Seen maybe.

So to discover the history and the reason why the road was named Seldom Seen, I went to the source of all true and factual knowledge, Facebook, and posted my inquiry to a group dedicated to all things Powell. As of this post from along the road, no one seems to know with certainty. But there is a lot of fond recollection of past times spent on Seldom Seen before it became Frequently Seen. Memories of bike rides down to the river or visiting the farms that were along the road. The good old days if you will.

I grew up in Coshocton County, Ohio. I too have fond memories of taking long bike rides in the country on dusty roads. Passing farms and ponds. Stopping to get a drink from a natural spring along County Road 24. Some Saturdays I would tell my mom where I was headed and approximately what time I’d be back and then start peddling out of town to spend twenty or thirty miles of my life enjoying the back roads. Maybe even some seldom seen. Yes, those were the good old days. At least they were for me.

The road. We bike it. We drive it. We walk it. We sometimes despise it. But we all are on one road or another during our life. Use of a car is optional but for expediency, it is a good idea. Many of the roads we go down over the years are not drivable. They’re rough and rocky. Full of potholes and wrong turns. Some even dead ends. Each road, even the road of life, can be an exciting adventure full of enjoyment. But very quickly that road can become an unexpected calamity. A detour from what we had planned. And sometimes our GPS doesn’t recognize the road we’re on or it takes us on a road the doesn’t even exist. I guess there’s just no way around it. The road, the road of life, is what it is and we just have to do the best we can to get to where we’re going.

This is the first post from along the road for the Doodle and I since we have moved out of our apartment overlooking Seldom Seen and into our motorhome. For the next two weeks, we are staying at a very nice campground in a little town just a few miles from Frequently Seldom Seen Road but yet far enough away to be a new experience for us. Something we haven’t seen before. The roads between where we were and where we are were very picturesque with farms and creeks dotted along the way. A very pleasant drive today. But I know that those same roads have had some pretty tragic accidents over the years.

Maybe it’s good luck or bad timing that brings us what we encounter on the road. Maybe it’s not our fault. Maybe sometimes it is. Either way, it is what it is and each of us has to decide how we respond to what we encounter. Do we push right through it? Do we try to steer around it? Do we double back and take another road? Or do we sit and wait for the road before us to open up again? I’ve made all these choices in my life. Some were the right decision at the time and others were not so much.

I’m thinking the point is to just keep going down any road you can take which will get you closer to where you want to be. Adjust your course as needed but keep going. Take that seldom seen road maybe just to see it. Don’t sweat the detour as it may just take you to a place you never knew you needed to see. Make a call to a loved one while you wait for the road to open up again. Better yet get off at the next exit and go see them. Your destination will still be there. It’s okay to take your time and see what or who is along the road and even notice who is traveling next to you. Life is one road we’re all on together. So why not share it and the experiences with one another. Having travel buddies does tend to make the road seem less long you know.

What was it James Taylor sang it the song Secret of Life about the road?

“Isn’t it a lovely ride,
See me sliding down and gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride”

Hope you take that seldom seen road. You just might see me and the Doodle on it too.

See you down the road….

The Struggle Is Real

This mantra has become commonplace over the past few years, especially in my kids’ generation. My thirty-something daughter recently text me about something and at my age I’ve forgotten what it was exactly, but my reply to her was simply ‘the struggle is real’. She replied back that I had never sounded more millennial.

Me millennial?
Made me LOL! #word

Struggles have been a part of the human condition for as long as the Earth has been spinning. The world was doing just fine right up to the time Adam and Eve ate that apple. Just think what our lives would be like today if they had never indulged in that forbidden fruit. We’d all be living in a world of beautiful gardens. Living in peace. And harmony. And naked. Sorry to plant that seed in your imagination but hey we’d be used to it. Right?

If you’re like me, struggles come in groups or seasons in your life. Seems we’re on a journey through gentle valleys of peace and then all of a sudden we’re climbing up towering mountains of struggles. Wouldn’t it be nice to always live in a place halfway between the valleys and mountains? Still peaceful enough to enjoy the higher view?

A number of times I have lived in that place. Things were going pretty well. No real hardships or burdens. My job was going well. Our family needs were being met. The kids were growing. Our marriage was exciting. We were just enjoying life and coasting along. I’m thankful for those times and the loved ones I shared them with.

But then things would start to change. Finances became an issue. A job changed was needed. Kids struggled in school. Pressure was put on our marriage. Life’s struggles seemed to first trickle in then soon enough a full fledge flood was roaring into our lives. The struggle became very real.

Those times of struggle can be tough and overwhelming. Many times we feel there is no way out of the mess we’re in. How in the world will we ever overcome this and get back to better times? Get back to the peace in the valley again. Those struggles are very real when we’re living in the midst of them.

I’ve determined from my life experiences that the key to handling struggles in life goes back again to the beginning. Before that darn apple. Back to when the world had no struggles. Back to the garden. Back to living in peace with the world. And its Creator.

If you are a follower of the Christ like I am, you probably long for the garden and living in peace with the world and God. It’s hard, I would suggest the hardest thing we will ever try to do. Knowing and truly living the peace of Christ.

I would argue no human since Christ walked the earth has been able to fully live in peace. Many have come close but I think all have struggled and fallen short. But that should not hinder us from continuing our struggle to live with Him. For Him.

Our calling is perhaps not to overcome our struggles but to allow God to help us through them. To walk so closely with Him that we can lean on Him when we need to and allow Him to carry us when our struggle is too much. I’m not sure if my thinking is theologically sound but this is what I’ve come to understand.

Did you ever think about how human kind had our first shot at getting it right in a garden (Eden) and then how God himself went to another garden (Gethsemane) to take upon Himself all of our burdens, all of our struggles, all of our sin, to get it right for us. Guess that’s why I really love spending times in gardens. I’m drawn to them. I’m drawn to Him.

If you find yourself in a real struggle right now, try going to a garden, either in your community or in your mind, and talk to your Creator. He knows your struggle is real. He’s dealt with it before. And He will get you through.

Somewhere on a mountain side, just about half way up from the valley below, is that place, your place of peace. Where your struggles aren’t so great and you can sit back and enjoy the view knowing that peace, His peace, is also real. The Real Deal.

Now that’s the true #word.

See you down the road my friends….

And The Night Comes

What is it about the stillness of the night?

You should be sleeping but in the quiet, your mind is replaying the events of the day, the things you should’ve said and done, or what you need to do tomorrow. There’s not a sound in the space around you but in your mind it’s a non stop race of thoughts.

I spent today catching up with a good friend over lunch, helping another with some car issues, and hanging out with my daughter while watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. There were laughs and hugs. It was a good day and yet tonight I’m lying in bed trying to sleep and just can’t seem to get my mind to relax.

I’m thinking about friends dealing with illness or addiction. Others grieving the passing of loved ones. The struggles some families are going through with their kids. Couples in conflict. Souls feeling rejected and forgotten. The misused, mistreated, and mistaken.

My life has been pretty good lately. Actually very good and I’m thankful for that. But this world we live in is still full of problems and as I see others going through tough times, I’m reminded of the struggles and challenges that have come my way over the years. Some easier to live through than others but all changing me from who I was to who I now am.

Next week I’ll turn 59. Just another number. Another step in the marching of time. My life, just as most everyone I imagine, has been a cycle of ups and downs. Good times and bad. Things expected and some not. But they all have led me to where I am now.

And tonight, as the night comes, in the midst of my sleepless thoughts, I’m asking God to not quiet my mind but to show me, to use me, to somehow help those that I can. To be brave. To be true. To be compassionate. To be a friend.

A common saying among the followers of Christ is ‘to show others the love of God in all that we say and do’. I haven’t been very consistent with that. I’m human and my humanness often overpowers my faithfulness. But I’m working on it and as a work in process, I’m grateful that regardless of the mistakes I’ve made I’m still given opportunities to do what is right and be who I’m called to be.

So tonight until sleep does come, my prayer for myself, for all of us, is that we find hope and peace right where we are. That we are thankful for all that has been and that when the morning comes, we’ll be ready to bring that hope and peace into the lives of those that we hold in our thoughts. In all that we say and do.

See you down the road….

Dog Tales – Go West Young Man

While walking the Doodle this morning, I was thinking about a trip I have coming up. Just a week away, I fly to Chicago, board Amtrak and head west to Glacier, Montana, and then onto Portland, Oregon.

Now when I say I was thinking about my trip I mean I was mentally reviewing my trip spreadsheet row by row to see if I had left anything out of my plan. I do a spreadsheet for every trip to layout the schedule and control costs. I’m just wired that way and I suspect a few of you are too. I like to plan spontaneity. 🙂

This will be my first train trip since I was four years old and I’m just as excited about this one as I was back then.

I’ve always enjoyed trains. My dad had an O gauge train set and I’ve owned a few others over the years. They were all fun to setup and play with but mostly I enjoyed daydreaming about traveling cross country on a train. So the trip next week is hopefully the first long train ride of many for me.

When I was a kid, I loved the TV show ‘Wild, Wild West’. James West and Artimus Gordon were the first two secret service agents in the late 1800’s and they traveled and lived on a train. Awesome!

Jim’s courage and Artie’s cleverness were quite the combination. They were able to serve their country, kick the butt of various villains, and meet a lot of very pretty women. Still sounds like a good gig to me!

I don’t plan to be vanquishing any villains this train trip but I am excited to step out of my comfort zone and take a trip of this type on my own. I imagine as I’m sitting in my seat, watching the vastness and beauty of our nation roll by, I’ll replay some of those old Wild, Wild West episodes in my mind.

Maybe I’ll come up with some gadget or disguise like Artie or climb out the train window and run across the top of the cars like Jim. Or most likely, I’ll just enjoy the ride and talk with a few newly made friends. And if one or two of those new friends are pretty women that will be ok too. 😎

On this trip I plan to start writing about the life journey of other folks I’ve met over the years. We’re all travelers on this road of life. Some times we share the road, or track, and sometimes we take different routes but we all have experiences that make us who we are and who we are to become. And in sharing those experiences we will usually discover that we all have more in common than we thought.

So my friends both now and soon to meet, if I give you a call, drop you an email, or tap you on the shoulder over the weeks ahead, here’s hoping that you’ll share a bit of your life journey with me in order to share with others. Thanks in advance my friends!

See you down there road, ah, or maybe the track….

How Sweet It Is

I woke up this morning with James Taylor.

Singing in my mind that is. I’ve always enjoyed his music and this morning I could hear his song “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”. My foot started tapping which apparently annoyed Izzy the Doodle enough that she jumped off the bed. She must not be a fan of the original JT.

Here are a bit of the lyrics:

‘I close my eyes at night wondering where would I be without you in my life.
Everything I did was just a bore, everywhere I went it seems I’d been there before.
But you brighten up for me all of my days with a love so sweet in so many ways,
I want to stop and thank you baby, I just want to stop and thank you baby.
How sweet it is to be loved by you, feels so fine. How sweet it is to be loved by you.’

This is one of a number of songs throughout my life that has always picked me up. I can’t help but to start singing along and let the song put a smile on my face. Someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll pull up beside me at a stop light while this song is playing. I expect you to sing along with me so don’t be shy. Put the windows down and join me in making a joyful noise!

Do you have a song that picks you up? Why does it? Perhaps when you first heard it, it really connected with you. Or perhaps you heard it during an emotional time in your life and it’s been your goto song ever since. Or maybe it’s a family favorite or a song you and your childhood friends have great memories around.

Songs are memories. And tied to them are emotions. Many if not most songs have emotions as part of their title or in their lyrics. Songs such as:

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake (the other JT)
“Happy” by Pharrell

“Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams

And thousands more across all genres of music. No matter your favorite artist or style of music, I’m sure there are certain songs that will forever open your mind and emotions to another place. Take you back to a time when you experienced something that made an impact on your life. A life-changing moment.

James Taylor’s version of “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” has now made a new emotional connection with me. In addition to being that happy little jingle that always made me sing, it has also become an anthem since losing my wife Barb. We would dance to this song everytime we heard it. Weddings, parties, clubs, and once on a public sidewalk. I promise it wasn’t too embarrassing.

Wonderful memories of a love so sweet in so many ways that continue on even after the grave. I really do wonder where would I be without having had her in my life all those years. So many great memories and experiences that will stay with me no matter what comes. I’m very thankful for that.

So which song connects with you? I’d love to hear about your song and your story so please leave a comment to share. And while you’re doing so, queue up that song of yours. Play it loud and sing along. Get that feeling inside your bones and go electric wavy when you turn it on. Dang there comes that other JT! He’s pretty good too.

See you down the road.