Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pilgrim's Progress Report

Our 2013 Summer Tour is now over and we have returned safely and happily to our Texas winter home.  We have not been very faithful about submitting progress reports but since many of you faithfully followed us through all the stops on our Summer Tour, I think we owe you some personal reflections on our RV Adventures.

Eight years, four months, and fourteen days ago we sold our home in the town where we had lived for twenty-five years.  We had previously bought a thirty-two foot fifth-wheel trailer and a Ford 350 pick-up to tow it.  The next day, we hitched up and headed south in it as our full-time home.

Many friends -- and some family members -- thought we were crazy, of course.  They chose a variety of terms to describe us and our unconventional lifestyle:  "gypsies," "vagrants," "drifters," "trailer trash," and, of course, the IRS definition of full time RVers as "moderately affluent homeless."  In self-defense against labels like these, we chose to identify ourselves as "The Pilgrim Pair" because, for us, it felt more like a pilgrimage than a cop-out!  Thus the name of this communication: Pilgrim's Progress Report.

We've not done well in making statistical reports on our journey, but we've driven over 146,000 miles in these 8 plus years.  This summer alone, we towed the trailer 6400 miles and drove the truck an additional 2000 miles  We've had at least four major repair jobs on the truck, but no accidents.  The trailer has had a couple of malfunctions requiring trips back to the factory in Junction City, Kansas.  Considering its age -- 12 years -- it's doing quite well, however. 

In our eight year sojourn, we have visited -- once, twice, or regularly -- over ninety relatives and friends too many to count.  We've made scores of new friends along the way as well.

We were reminiscing the other day about how things have changed since we took up full-time residence in our RV.  For example, fuel costs more but the diesel fuel our truck needs is easier to find these days.  There seem to be more orange barrels and road repair and construction than there used to be.

Internet access for us on the road has improved in a major way so that on-line shopping, bill-paying and banking frees us from paperwork and standing in line waiting.  The recent improvements in GPS technology have been a great blessing for us as we wander into many unfamiliar areas.

I no longer get cold chills up my spine when I consider the kinds of emergencies that might arise: vehicle breakdown, sudden illnesses, getting lost in an unfamiliar area, getting medication refills, getting "lost" from our mail, etc.  I no longer worry about any of them because they have all happened and we have survived!

One change we could not adequately plan for, however, is that old age happens.  We knew that vehicles age, and that some other people do, also.  We never imagined, however, that we might feel its effects!  We are finding, though, that we can't work as hard or as long as we used to; morning aches assail us in ways they never used to do; walking or biking uphill is harder work than it used to be; 10 pm seems to come quicker than ever before; and nobody even asks anymore whether we are old enough to qualify for a "senior discount"! 

We're coping with elder-hood the best we can.  We never pass up a roadside rest area or another chance for a potty break.  We always hold the handrail when going up or down stairs.  We only read the headlines and pictures in the newspaper since the print has gotten so much smaller!  And, finally, the crowning adjustment to advancing age: I can now use the "accessible" stall in the women's room without a pang of guilt! 

Despite these inconvenient detail, this Pilgrim's Progress Report is positive!  We still agree that "Retired" is what we always wanted to be when we grew up, and we're making the most of it.  (We are working on a Plan B for when we must hang up the keys, however!)