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The Christmas Banter Volume XXV

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Dear Friends Scientists who study aging suggest that change keeps us young. If they are right, we subtracted years in 2012 and are heading back to our misspent youths in 2013.

Off We Go On April 27th our house sprouted a "For Sale" sign and we hopped into the Little House feeling jubilant. We had decided to purge most of our possessions and become full-time RVers. Our plan seemed foolproof: listen to great tunes at JazzFest and then eat seafood by the platter as we made our way around the coast during the 67 days it typically takes a Carrollton house to sell. Previous months had been filled with hard work getting the house ready to list. We were regulars on Craigslist and vaulted to superseller status on eBay while selling Mike's childhood toys. Many of his treasures launched bidding wars, netting us a handsome sum that at times approached minimum wage. We had some good times during these four months but their memories have largely been Not so jazzed at JazzFest eclipsed by the drudgery.

The Spirit of Misadventure Nine days later, we returned to Dallas. Our jubilation had been replaced by panic. The house had sold and Mike had suffered a bicep avulsion from a shuttle bus accident in New Orleans. His left bicep had detached at the elbow and curled up like a big rubber band. On the plus side, Mike had a bicep that Popeye would envy. One advantage of living in a city larger than the average state is that Mike got operated on by a surgeon who specializes only in arms – shoulder to wrist, no otherlimbs or joints. The surgery went well but left Mike wearing a 20-pound cast that rendered him useless for packing and carrying; fortunately he was still able to offer lots of sage advice as Suzanne did it all. We were simultaneously selling our furniture and household belongings. It wasn’t as fun as JazzFest.

But Then We Launched th

By June 28 we were ready to leave. We had sold one vehicle, most of our possessions, and all of our furniture.

Christmas 2012

The items that remained had been carefully packed and stored in our RV storage unit along with Mike's Explorer. We no longer owned a stick house, as full-time RVers call a traditional house. Mike's cast was gone and he had been assigned do-ityourself physical therapy. But he was quite restricted in what he could do: no jogging, hiking or golf. He also had a tooth commit mutiny once we hit the road, which he had treated in Nebraska. So the next few months found us on a fairly tight tether between Dallas and Lincoln. Toss a few RV issues (oh, the challenges of home ownership!) into the mix, and footloose and fancy-free eluded us. We still managed to squeeze in some fun. Mitch and Kathy Sump (and family) proved to be generous hosts during our many return visits to Nebraska. We got to see The Dickes’ new house and ours get the Dickes’ magnificent acquainted – strictly a summertime new home in beautiful romance Bayfield, WI, and explored Minnesota’s North Shore and South Dakota’s southern boundary.

Free at Last By the end of September, Mike had been released by his surgeon and had a new tooth. Among other upgrades, the RV was sporting a new generator that started on command. We reverted to our original plan and headed east. Our late start ruled out New England, but we hoped to catch good fall color in the Mid-Atlantic. We high-tailed it across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, into the rocky corner where Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland all come together. The leaves we saw were spectacular; the cold spell we encountered less so.

Harper’s Ferry from Maryland Heights


We were forcefully reminded that neither we – nor the Little House – like cold weather. Not even a little bit. A change of plans was in order. No longer on a leafpeeping schedule, our pace became leisurely. We enjoyed great hiking and great views in Harpers Ferry. We frolicked with Misty, is that you? the wild ponies at Assateague and Chincoteague before moving on to the historical triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. Mike was in heaven while Suzanne was often confused. All those battles run together, you know?

Running from Sandy The Little House has one BIG advantage over your average stick house. It moves. Our visit to eastern Virginia was threatened by the coming hurricane. Where should we go? Where would she go? Blizzards in the west, a storm surge along the coast. We holed up in northwest North Carolina. We had lots of rain and could have been hit by a falling tree – much preferable to the potential ravages of staying near the coast.

Former co-worker Marlene (and Bob) Schmidt stopped by for breakfast during an all-day dash to Florida; our RVs look like dogs getting to know each other

part of the U.S. has plenty of squirrels and at least one undesirable insect: mosquitoes, flies, gnats, sugar ants, bees, scorpions, or the dreaded no-see-ums – a new blood-sucking enemy we encountered in South Georgia. They now top our most-hated list due to the hundreds of itchy little bites they inflicted. No doubt there are other pests we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting. 2) No state has a monopoly on stupid drivers. They see our 4-ton vehicle lumbering down the road and pull in front of it, challenging the laws of physics regarding an object in motion. 3) There are wonderful state parks everywhere, doing a tremendous job on their very limited budgets. 4) When it comes to RV repairs, we have an innate ability to choose the most time-consuming and costly solution.

Have You Lost Your Minds? How to “tie one on” in Williamsburg

More Joys of Home Ownership Somewhere along the way, our 3-way refrigerator transitioned into a 2-way refrigerator (no propane mode, so no boondocking). After a mere 9 trips to 3 different Camping Worlds, their corporate office agreed the fridge was officially dead. A new one awaits us in Texas. This difficulty kept us in South Carolina and Georgia longer than planned, but – hey – what a great area to be stranded. Spanish moss and pedestrian-friendly downtowns make Charleston and Savannah utterly charming. Cumberland Island, GA (once owned by the Carnegies), must be reached by ferry. No outside vehicles are allowed. With10K acres of beach, ruins, and maritime forest, trails are plentiful and people are few. Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

People have one of two reactions to our decision to become full-time RVers: "Cool!" or "Are you absolutely nuts?" While the verdict’s still out on our sanity, on most days, we are pleased with our decision. Suzanne missed her stick house at Thanksgiving, a dinner she always enjoyed preparing for visiting family. Mike missed his couch and his big TV during Husker football games that weren't broadcast where we were.

When Mike sang "Moon River" at Johnny Mercer’s grave in Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, even the squirrels scattered

But….Where is Your Official Address? Our mail is sent to a Texas-based company that caters to full-time RVers. This allows us to keep our Texas residency, where we have no state income tax. Our vehicle registrations and voting precincts have moved to that county and mail is forwarded as we request. (The downside is we still have Rick Perry as governor.) Our primary care physicians remain in Dallas, as does our storage facility. But our dentist is now in Nebraska and our wine sommelier is everywhere.

Before heading west to Texas and Christmas, we sauntered down to St. Augustine, FL, the oldest city in America. Like Ponce de Leon in 1513, we were looking for the Fountain of Youth. We sampled every fountain in town but, to date, results have been disappointing.

Universal Truths Our travels have proven that while scenery and weather vary by location, some things remain constant: 1) Every suzanne.shelton2@gmail.com 972-897-7394

Merry Christmas to all… And to all a good night.

Love, Suzanne & Michael

136 Rainbow Dr. #3646; Livingston, TX 77399

mikesump53@gmail.com 972-897-7406


Christmas Banter, 2012