Sunday, March 22, 2020

Six Weeks in Punta Gorda

Thornton Creek Motorcoach Resort

Hey, we’re still here . . . I’ve fallen ridiculously behind on the blog, but I’m going to try to get caught up.  We’re fine, and all is well . . . just really busy lately.

So, rewind back to January . . . we settled in at Thornton Creek Motorcoach Resort.  It was a very nice resort, and we enjoyed many afternoons at the pool,

made lots of new friends and enjoyed several parties on the weekends and Bingo nights every other Wednesday – we even had some really good resident musicians.

We rode bikes and walked around the park pretty much every day, went antique shopping in nearby Arcadia, visited with lots of nearby friends, including our old neighbors from Ann Arbor, Harriett and Rita,

my cousins, Jeff and Sue, who were on vacation in Ft. Myers Beach for a few days,

as well as several other friends – some from back home in Michigan and other fellow RVers who are spending the winter in Florida.

We spent an afternoon shelling on the beach in Englewood,

where we found some nice shells and even a few shark teeth.  Somebody had brought their Christmas tree to the beach, and it was decorated with shells.

There were a pretty good crowd of people shelling at the beach, and even a few in the water, and it looked like a pretty good fishing spot for pelicans.

Another weekend, we explored the Art Fest in downtown Ft. Myers . . . where there is never a shortage of unique characters and interesting art – including these poor dogs that had been painted!

All of the local high schools created chalk drawings on the sidewalks at the marina, which were pretty good, and fun to looks at.

We didn’t find anything to buy, but it was a beautiful morning to walk around, and we enjoyed a nice lunch afterwards at Ford’s Garage (and even got an employee discount!)

As our time there wound down, we finally made our way over to the local fishing pier on the Peace River to watch the sunset – it was a beautiful view!

It was worth the wait!

We enjoyed our stay in Punta Gorda – it was a great location for meeting up with friends, we met a bunch of really nice people, and the weather was great! 

It was time for us to move on to something new, though, so in mid-February we packed up the RV and headed north! More to follow in the next blogs . . .

Monday, January 27, 2020

2019 Year in Review

2019 started out as another year on the road (our 8th), exploring new areas and making new friends, spending some quality time with the kids, and ended with us making the decision to transition back to a more stationary lifestyle in a new home state.

We continued our research on retirement home locations by spending the winter in a new destination, south Texas, which we determined was not a good fit for us.  We initially thought that our travels later in the year would take us out west for the 2019-20 winter, for yet more research, but with some changes in plans and priorities, we determined that it was time for a return trip to Florida.

Even with our change of plans, we managed to visit 19 states – including (3) that we’d never been to before,


West Virginia


leaving us with just one empty spot in the middle of the country – Kansas. 

But we got SOOOOOOOO close!

We also visited a new country – Mexico, although those visits were on foot from the Rio Grande Valley, not in the RV.

Over the course of the year, we stayed in 33 different locations, including 7 stops for a month or more.

  • 27 private RV Resorts
  • 2 County or State Parks
  • 3 businesses while getting work done on the RV
  • 1 private home

We added a few more State and National Parks to our list of those visited, too.

Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park,

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge,

and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (Home of the whooping cranes), all in Texas.

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, in Pine Mountain, Georgia,

Pilot Mountain State Park in North Carolina,

Chippoakes State Park, in Virginia,

and Tombigbee State Park, in Tupelo, Mississippi


– our first time in a long time actually camping in a state park.

Leaving Texas in the spring, we were making our way over to Virginia to spend some time with Nicolas, with one planned stop along the way at The Great Outdoors RV Resort in Franklin, NC for the RV Quilters (Facebook Group) SEW2GETHER in early May.

We made lots of new friends, and had a great time!

Other than that stop, our spring travels were mostly spontaneous and involved dodging a few spring storms – we did a pretty good job of it, too – we were always at least one day ahead of any storm and enjoyed visiting some old friends and making a few new ones.

Nicolas’ ship had finally finished their maintenance period in the Shipyard, and they spent quite a bui of the year out to sea, checking off some major accomplishments in advance of their upcoming deployment in 2020.

Fortunately, we were able to time our visit to Virginia during a time that they were mostly in port, and we finally got to tour the ship.  We spent a couple months in the campground where Nick lives and had lots of nice quality time with him . . . and his girlfriend, Stephanie.

Bryce and Hannah came out for 4th of July Week, and we all had a nice week together – it’s a little chaotic, but I love having the kids around!

By mid-July, it was time for Nicolas to go back out to sea, and after seeing him off,


we started our journey back to Michigan to see Bryce and the rest of the family.  Since we had stayed a little longer to watch Nick’s ship get underway, we only had a few days to get back to Michigan so we only made a couple of quick stops before settling in for a little over a month in a new RV Resort for us in Jackson, MI.

Greenwood Acres Family Campground was a large park with mostly seasonal campers, and as is typical it was pretty busy on the weekends and quiet during the week.  It wasn’t as convenient for visiting my family or for me going into the office, but it was close to Bryce and Ann Arbor . . . and they had room for us, so that was the deciding factor.

We saw Bryce a few times before he left for an internship in August, and met up with several old friends as well as catching up with the family.  Toward the end of August, Nicolas got some time off, so he and Stephanie came to Michigan for a nice vacation.  We spent a couple days visiting with family, and then headed to the western side of the state for some fun at the dunes – that’s what Nicolas came back for!!

Bryce & Hannah, and her family, joined us for Labor Day weekend, and we all had a nice time hanging out together!  The kids had lots of fun with the Jeep and Nick’s truck on the dunes – and he didn’t even break it!

With the holiday weekend over, the kids all headed out and Tom & I headed down to Indiana where we had some work scheduled in Elkhart, and made our annual stock-up trip to Shipshewana.  We also met up with my family one more time before we got back on the road for our fall travels.

We were headed to Florida, but didn’t take a direct route!

With our original thought of going west for the winter, we had planned to visit Tom’s family in Kansas City and we still wanted to do that . . . so I thought we might as well pick up Wisconsin and (I thought) Kansas along the way.  I also had the ulterior motive of wanting to visit a few quilt and wool shops that I knew about, so those factored into our route.

So, in our journey south for the summer, we first went west and north, and then west some more to visit the family, before finally turning south toward Florida.  We got within a few miles of Kansas, but we still didn’t get there.  Oh well, there’s always next year . . . we’re not quite done travelling yet!

After stops at the home of Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas and Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi,

we finally arrived in Florida and spent a few relaxing days backed right up to the Gulf of Mexico,

where the sunsets were amazing!

As you know, we settled in by the Villages then, and proceeded to buy a house! 

There was actually a lot of thought, research and consideration that went into that decision, but ultimately we decided we were ready to settle down a little bit . . . starting next year.  After closing on the house and off-loading some stuff from the motorhome, we proceeded with our RVing plans for the winter and wrapped up 2019 in Naples.  We’ve got the motorhome FOR SALE on RVT, with hopes of getting something smaller for summer travels.  We’re not sure if we’ll be able to make that change for this summer, but we’re hopeful . . . .

Financially, we’ve been pretty consistent.  At $3459 average monthly expenses, we’re just slightly higher than last year and without two months of volunteering. 

We did have 9 months of monthly stays, at an average monthly cost of $575.  Factoring in our 3 months of shorter stays, we had a total cost for RV sites of $8510 for the year, or an average monthly cost of $710.

Food expenses (grocery + dining out) were up this year (primarily dining out), probably due to all the time we spent visiting with friends and the kids (I’ll blame it on the kids!!), but RV maintenance was down some, due to the extended warranty covering the few small things that we had done in addition to our regular annual maintenance.  Actually, when we were shopping for the RV, we thought we’d have a larger budget for maintenance and repairs, but this has been a really good coach and hasn’t needed much other than routine maintenance.

The last category that we take a deep look into is fuel.  Our costs here were down for both the Jeep and the motorhome, primarily due to lower fuel costs overall.

The motorhome travelled 6030 miles in 2019 and used 848 gallons of diesel, averaging 7.11 miles/gallon, for a total cost of $2410 and an average cost per gallon of $2.84 (about 20 cents/gallon less than 2018).

We’ve been pretty consistent in our spending habits, but we all know that the purchase of a house is just the beginning of the spending . . . especially when you haven’t owned a home for almost 8 years!  We have nothing!!

We’re excited about getting back into a house, and all the decorating and furnishing that goes along with it . . . but we have learned quite a bit over these last 8 years, so we will be doing a lot of shopping at resale shops and flea markets, and trying to keep a minimalist approach.  The last thing we want to do is get bogged down again with a bunch of STUFF!!

It’s been another good year, and we’re looking forward to the lifestyle changes coming in 2020, as well as continuing to travel several months a year.  Thanks for following along with us!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Still enjoying winter in Florida

Hi!!  We’re still here . . . alive and well! 

Life really has a way of getting in the way of blogging . . .

So, we finished up our month in Naples . . . more bike rides to the beach, visits to Naples, Ft. Myers Beach . . . we did some shopping (found a chair for the house at a really nice consignment shop in Bonita Springs!), did some shelling at the beach, and basically just enjoyed my time off over the holidays.

Vanderbilt beach was a nice easy 5 mile bike ride away . . . and it’s much easier to park a couple of bikes at the beach than it is to park the Jeep!

The beach was VERY crowded over the holidays!

That was the public beach.  As we walked along the beach to the area in front of the hotels, it was less crowded,

and by the time we reached the private homes on the beach, it was downright deserted!

Nice homes, though . . . and there’s one that can be yours if you have $15 million laying around!

We walked the beach and watched pelicans diving into the water, catching fish. 

Another day we took a drive down to Lovers Key State Park.  We looked for Rangers or volunteers that we knew, but didn’t find any familiar faces around.  They have a new tram now, and it looks like they outsourced the tram driving responsibilities to the concessionaire.  The driver never gets out of the truck – doesn’t help anybody on or off, doesn’t talk to anybody.  Too bad . . . that used to be Tom’s favorite job – he loved talking to the visitors, finding out where everybody was from . . . it was a great opportunity for interacting with the public.

We got off at the south beach and walked, people-watching,

and bird-watching while I collected shells.

Seagulls and Black Skimmers

Pelicans diving after fish

Osprey in a nest

Another Osprey nest at the tram station

It was another nice day at the beach!

We wrapped up our stay on New Year’s Eve, and instead of attending the party at the clubhouse, we enjoyed a delicious steak dinner at home, and then drove down to the beach in Naples to watch the fireworks display.

There were a lot of people that had the same idea – it was packed!!

It was a beautiful night, and the fireworks show was very good . . . and the best part was that we were home early enough to watch a movie and the New Years Rockin’ Eve Ball Drop!

The next morning, we packed up the motorhome and drove north 60 miles to our next destination for the winter – Thornton Creek Motorcoach Resort in Arcadia, just east of Punta Gorda.

It’s a beautiful resort with individually-owned sites, most of which have casitas on them as well.  We’re renting from an individual, and she does not have a casita on her site, but it’s a beautiful site overlooking one of the ponds.

There aren’t a lot of facilities or activities, but the pool and clubhouse are very nice,

and the people are very friendly and welcoming.  They do have (2) pickleball courts (I don’t think there’s an RV Park in Florida without them!), and Tom had been playing several mornings during the week, trying to get up to speed before we move to The Villages!

We’re here until February 15th, and it should be a very nice stay!

Meanwhile, Nicolas and Stephanie enjoyed his Command Christmas Party,

and then he spent the rest of his holiday leave in Arizona with her family.  He had a nice time and enjoyed being back in Arizona – he said many areas still seemed familiar to him from our one winter there.

Bryce spent Christmas with the family back in Michigan, and was back at school for basketball right after – they had a busy week of intense practices, getting ready for the BIG10 season, but it seems to have paid off – they’re playing really well!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (Maybe my New Years resolution should be to be more consistent in my blogging! LOL)