Monday, December 31, 2012

2012–A Year in Review

Amazing Winter Sunrise

2012 started out much the like the previous couple of years, but little did we know that it was going to turn out to be a very different year, indeed!

We had a really mild winter, with hardly any snow, and the boys kept busy during the long winter months by playing basketball.



Tom and I had severed ties with another Realtor, and were in the process of trying to find somebody “different” from all the others that would work with us.  We thought we found one, but that turned out to be a HUGE mistake when he allowed us to be taken in by an internet scam! 

When we finally found Patrick, we could hardly believe he was real!  He was SO different from all the other Realtors we’ve met . . . and we’re proud to call him, Scott and their families our friends!


The spring months were all about transforming our comfortable home into a spectacular showplace that would appeal to a buyer in our price range.  Over Memorial Day Weekend, instead of camping, we did a “total makeover” of our kitchen with new flooring,

New wood Floors

Memorial Day Weekend Project

a new slate tile backsplash, and stainless steel appliances.

Tile Backsplash and Stainless Appliances

We spent our days shopping on craigslist, at garage sales, and consignment shops to outfit our home in all new furniture and accessories.

Home Makeover_Sunroom

Home Makeover_Master Bedroom










Patrick and the team he brought together had a HUGE role in the transformation of our home . . . they had a vision, and made it come to life . . . working side by side with us, and bringing many items from their own homes to make everything come together.

Home Makeover_Living Room

We had a goal . . . to get the house back on the market by mid-June, and on June 17th we did just that.  Patrick held a Realtor Open House to introduce our home the the Ann Arbor real estate market, and followed up with several additional open houses the next few weekends.

With all the work going on at home, we didn’t have much time for anything else, but Bryce did play baseball again,


and we celebrated several milestone birthdays!

Happy Birthday Nicolas - 16!

Tom’s 50th,  Marci’s 46th, and

Happy Birthday Tom (50!) and Marci (NOT 50!)

Nicolas’ 16th!

Later in the summer, we also celebrated Jaxon’s 1st birthday,

Jaxon's 1st Birthday

Happy Birthday Bryce - 14!

and Bryce’s 14th!



With the house transformation complete, the best thing for us to do was to leave it in Patrick’s capable hands, and get in some camping trips! 

We visited some our favorite Michigan vacation spots in July, and spent time with great friends!



Silver Lake - July

Leelenau Peninsula - July

Arriving back at home in August, Patrick informed us that we had a showing coming up . . . and it looked very promising!

True to his word, we soon had a new sign in the front yard,


and our lives got REALLY busy!  We had just 19 days to empty our house and get moved into the RV for good!  We quickly scheduled an Estate Sale for the very next weekend, and got busy listing all the remaining furniture on craigslist.

Soon, our furniture and other possessions were finding new homes,












and we were moving the remainder of our “stuff” into the RV!  On August 31st, we closed on the house and turned over the keys to the new owner, said “Good-Bye” to all our neighbors, and began our new life, living on the road!


Our first stop was a much-needed “vacation” in western Michigan, where we did nothing but relax for an entire week!

Hidden Ridge - September

We returned to the metro Detroit area, relaxed and rejuvenated, and settled in at Haas Lake Park,

Haas Lake_Our Last Home in Michigan

where we stayed for a month taking care of last-minute details.  By the time we were ready to move out of there, the weather was turning cold, and we knew it was time to head south.

Our first stop was Indiana where we had some warranty work done on the RV, and I spent one last weekend with my Mom and my sisters.

Quilt Shop Bus Trip

With the weekend over, it was time for final good-byes,


and the beginning of a new adventure!

We were in Kentucky for “Halloween camping”,


and visited Cumberland Falls.


We caught the tail end of the fall colors in Maggie Valley, NC, and saw an elk herd in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Bull elk in Maggie Valley, NC


We were enjoying our nice campsite in Maggie Valley, but Hurricane Sandy was making her presence know by bringing a major snowstorm to the NC mountains!  If we wanted snow, we would have stayed in Michigan!  So, we made the call to pack up early, and head south to Columbia, SC, where the weather was predicted to be much warmer!





We ended up spending the entire month of November in South Carolina, including Thanksgiving with my niece, Katy, and her family on the Naval Base in Charleston.  It was a great month, and we enjoyed all the places we visited!

South Carolina - November

In December, we made it to Florida – warm weather, sunshine!!

While Tom and I enriched our brains at the Techno-Geek Learning Rally, the boys enjoyed the pool and other amenities of the RV Park, especially once the pool heater got fixed!



We all enjoyed the new friendships we made at the rally, and of course, all the delicious food!






When we left the rally, we made our way to Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach where we are volunteering for 3 months and enjoying the wildlife that surrounds us.

Florida - December

So, a year that started out as routine, turned out to be life-changing!  We are making great memories, and are looking forward to even more in 2013!



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Exploring Sanibel and Captiva

Saturday was warm, but cloudy and kindof gloomy, so we decided it would be a good day to go for a drive.  After a stop at the Tanger Outlet Center, where Tom finally found a replacement for his old, bursting-at-the-seams walking shoes, we found a local pizzeria for “linner” (i.e. late lunch-early dinner).  The pizza tasted great, was inexpensive, and despite the claim of the older Italian gentleman who owned the place, we knew there was no way it was sent over from the local Pizza Hut!  He was quite the character!

The causeway to Sanibel & Captiva

With our tummies full, we paid the $6 toll and crossed the causeway to Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Park along the causeway

There are several nice parks along the sides of the causeway, and we saw lots of people out fishing from the shore.  When we reached Periwinkle, we took a left to go see the Fishing Pier and Lighthouse first.

Busy day at the beach

Lots of people apparently had the same idea, and parking spaces were not easy to come by.  Since roadside parking is not allowed, we waited a few minutes for somebody to leave, and then were able to park.

Road to the Fishing Pier

The road to the fishing pier was nicely landscaped and took us past the Sanibel Lighthouse.

Sanibel Lighthouse

Coco Palm


When we got to the beach, we could see several pairs of dolphins swimming back and forth, just offshore.  They never stayed above the water for long, so were difficult to get pictures of.  Several times, though, one would get particularly playful and would swim in quick circles really close to shore – within about 10 feet!  They were really fun to watch!




There were also several pelicans flying around and diving for fish!

Pelican - So graceful!

Into the water!

Taking off again

This guy looks older than the rest!

With all the people fishing on the pier, the birds must have figured this is a really good spot to snag the fish that get thrown back!  This osprey was on the hunt, also!

Osprey in flight

Getting ready to dive

Then there were several of these little guys, picking up the scraps on the beach.



We hadn’t thought we were going to need the full one hour minimum required by the parking meter, but we used up almost that entire time just watching the antics of the dolphins and pelicans!





From the beach, we drove back north, following Periwinkle up to Sanibel-Captiva Rd., along the entire length of the islands.  We saw neighborhoods, and shopping, lots of restaurants, and a few churches . . . even a school . . . everything they need to be a self-sufficient community, I guess!  When we crossed onto Captiva Island, the appearance of the real estate began to change . . .

Captiva Estate

and homes like this became the norm!  At the very tip of the island, we made a quick stop to take a look at the wide-open Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was starting to sink.


Tom at the beach


It was cold and windy out there, so we hurried back to the warmth of the car! 

There’s only one way on and off the island, so from this point we retraced our steps back to the causeway, stopping at 7-Eleven for slurpies on the way out.





Driving back across the causeway, we saw some guys para-surfing in the gulf.  We found a spot to pull off to the side so we could watch them for a bit.

Parasurfing on the causeway

With the strong winds, they were really moving!  It looked like they were just wrapping up as we got there, and several of the guys were already packing up their gear, but we were able to see a couple of them zip back and forth a few times!

Parasurfers on the causeway

They were really fun to watch, but we were cold and ready to head back to the RV!

Coming in for a landing

In the distance, we could see Fort Myers Beach . . . and home!

Fort Myers Beach