This was supposed to be a long, angry diatribe about the medical profession. Everything I hate about doctors, insurance companies, Big Pharma and the like was going to be addressed in one endless rant. At least that’s what I threatened on Facebook a couple of days ago.
Then my buddy Mike … the same Mike from Houston that helped us navigate around the toll road fiasco last week … offered one of his short, to-the-point, smart ass replies to that threat. It resulted in a phone call and a realization that ranting just wasn’t worth it. Especially after having made some real progress towards letting things go over the past few months.
Mike’s first words after seeing my number come up on caller ID were (with a laugh), “So did I piss you off?” I laughed back and said, “You are a piece of work … you know exactly what to say to ground me, don’t you, you S.O.B.?”. Or something to that effect. And we both started laughing all over again.
The discussion went from doctors to title offices to gospel music to coffee beans to CNC machines. A complete non-sequitur from start to finish. So y’all should thank Mike big-time that we’re moving on to something else. Say it with me now – “Thanks, Mike!”
As an aside, the finger is so-so. Looked good after the doctor visit. But later that afternoon, as the skies got dark and the wind picked up, I tore the scab and opened up the gash while lifting a heavy supply box off the top of the Nutshell. No blood or anything. It’s just that the skin’s no longer together on half the wound.
I reapplied some gauze, splinted and taped it so that I can’t move it. If the skin’s not healing together in a couple of days, I guess it’ll be time for a superglue approach. In the meantime, I’m reduced to using my index finger on the left-hand part of the keyboard. Such is life, right?
And yes, I typed “y’all” a couple of paragraphs ago. The aftermath of being in Texas for almost five months. When I first moved down here in 1968, “y’all” was the first thing I picked up. It’s just too damned easy to let slip out of your mouth … at least it’s a lot easier than “youse guys”. But I digress … (face it, what would a “Frank and Jeff” blog post be without a digression, right?) :o)
Anyhow, on to better things …
The Nutshell’s opened up some travel possibilities that weren’t really practical in the tent. Setting up and breaking camp is nothing compared to what it involved only a few weeks ago. What took hours and hours can now be accomplished in 20 minutes. Very cool, indeed.
So with that, I decided to purchase a membership in Thousand Trails, a camping service that was first introduced to us last summer by Donna, one of my New Jersey friends. The two main issues I had with the program aren’t a problem anymore: 1) you can only stay at one of the member camps for a maximum of two weeks; and, 2) you must stay somewhere else for seven nights before returning to the same, or another, member camp. I can handle that now, given how easy it is to pack up the Nutshell!
The service has five regions throughout the country, with anywhere from 15 to 25 member campsites per region. The user buys a region and then has access to all its campsites for a year, subject to the above constraints. The main consideration was whether we could find places to stay during the in-between weeks that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. I spent yesterday afternoon researching the Passport America campsite list and think I addressed that pretty well.
I was also able to negotiate a couple of concessions from them that sealed the deal. Where they normally do not allow reservations more than 60 days in advance, they’re going to reserve my stays for the next six months. They’re also going to throw in an additional region for only $100 (additional regions normally cost about $800, with the first region costing $550). Based on that … along with what I figured out on Passport America campsites … I’ll be able to cut my “rent” expense to a little more than $325 / month for the next 14 months. That’s about $100 less than what we’ve averaged since leaving Charleston last May. That’s a big deal for us!
So here’s the plan through April 2017, which mostly sees us up and down the east coast:
March 2016: We’re at Triple Creek until the 24th, after which we’ll head to Dallas. I’ve reserved a place on Lake Lewisville for two weeks. A lunch date has already been planned with the same guys that got together in July and there are a lot of other folks I’m looking forward to seeing. Two weeks is going to open up a lot more opportunities for that compared to the two days we were in town last summer.
April 2016: I wanted to see Colorado this year, if only for a quick stop. We’ll risk the chance of snow and head back to Pagosa Springs in the first part of the month. I discovered only recently that one of my New Jersey classmates lives a mile or so from the campsite we stayed at last summer … he even knows TJ and Stacey, the Last Resort’s owners and buys his eggs on a regular basis from them. He sent an email about the time I was looking for help acquiring the Nutshell and offered up his home. After talking with him on the phone a few times, I’m going to take him up on that offer and spend 10 days. Looking very much forward to visiting with you, Keith!
After that, we’ll head north to Colorado Springs for a week to visit another friend. This time it’ll be Warren, who spent some time with me when I was in Colorado last summer. This will give us more chance to visit than the two brief afternoons we spent together back then. I’m looking forward to that as well, Warren. :o)
May 2016: I intend to make a quick stop up in Denver to visit the Hiker Trailer plant where the Nutshell was built. After that, we’re going to head east. I’ll stop in Fort Wayne, IN for a couple of weeks to see my brother and hopefully meet a niece and nephew that I’ve never seen before. After that, we’ll start in with alternating between the Thousand Trails and Passport America campsites. The first one is in Amish country, near Lancaster, PA.
June 2016: It’s a return to New Jersey, first time I’ll be back since leaving in early 2014. It’ll be in the southern part of the state, unfortunately … not near my old stomping grounds in Passaic County. Hopefully I’ll still be able to see some old friends. Perhaps they’ll be interested in a day trip “down the shore”. Knock on wood. We’ll stay at two Passport America camps along with a club camp near Cape May.
July 2016: We’ll start the month out at a club camp in the Poconos. My uncle used to have a place there and I’ve always loved the area. From there, we’ll head to a Passport America campsite in the Hudson Valley (another favorite place) before heading east to a club camp bordering on Cape Cod for a couple of weeks. It’ll be close enough to Boston that I might try to take in a game at my beloved Fenway while we’re there. Hopefully Frank won’t bitch too much about being baby-sat for that first Sunday when the Twins come to town!
August 2016: We’ll head north, with a visit to the club campground on the Maine coast, sandwiched between two Passport America campsites – one in New Hampshire and the other in Vermont. The leaves won’t be turning before we head back south. Still, it’ll be wonderful to see that part of the country again. The odds of any future visits to New England are pretty low, so I’d like to make the most of it. I’m planning on doing some lake fishing while we’re there, too.
September 2016: With Fall approaching, we’ll start heading back south … first to a club campsite in the Catskills. After that, we’ll spend a few weeks in New Jersey again. I’ve found a couple of Passport America sites that are less than an hour drive from Passaic County. Hopefully that’ll give me a better chance to have breakfast with some of my old Cornerstone brothers from the Wayne Parish and perhaps catch a Pompton Lakes High School football game before leaving. I wonder if they’ll let an old fart bring his beagle in for the game? Knock on wood.
After that, we’ll head back to the Cape May campground for a couple of weeks. I’m hoping it’ll be nice and quiet, seeing as how school will be back in session. I’d like to take a couple of rides over to the coast and spend a day or two staring out into the Atlantic!
October and November 2016: Frank and I will gradually work our way down the east coast, continuing to alternate between Passport America and Thousand Trail campgrounds. The plan is to stay:
- On the Delmarva peninsula (1 week)
- The Williamsburg, VA area (2 weeks), visiting the home of my ancestors
- A yet-to-be-determined site on the North Carolina coast. Hopefully it’ll work out where I can see old friends Dave and Val from Pompton Lakes, who have retired to the area. (1 week)
- The mountains in west South Carolina, near the Georgia border (2 weeks)
- The Daytona Beach area. Hoping I’ll be able to take old friend Jeanie out to lunch one day. (1 week)
- Central Florida (2 weeks)
December 2016: We’ll start heading back to Texas for the rest of the winter. I plan on staying at two Passport America campsites along the way: one in the Florida panhandle and the other one yet-to-be-determined … either near Biloxi, MS or New Orleans. Someplace within easy access to the Gulf of Mexico.
After that, I plan on staying at a Thousand Trails campsite outside of Houston, where we’ll be for both Christmas and New Year’s. Knock on wood that it won’t be too cold! I’ve already figured out how to put a little shelf in the back of the Nutshell, on which to place the little heater we’ve been carrying around with us.
January – April 2017: I’m not planning on heading back to extreme south Texas like this past winter. There just wasn’t enough to see or do down there. We’ll spend January in campsites within a couple of hours of Houston, maybe even going back to Goose Island State Park. February will see us return to Triple Creek. This place has been fantastic! Even though we’ve only been here a week, I know I’d like to come back. This time, I’ll be able to join in the music festivities and am really looking forward to that.
Frank and I will head back up to north Texas in March. We’ll hopefully stay on Lewisville Lake again, along with stays at two Thousand Trails campsites – one just west of Fort Worth and the other on the Texas side of Lake Texoma, which shares a border with Oklahoma.
So that’s it. Those are our plans for the next year, barring any health issues that force us back to Texas or hurricanes that chase us inland from where we currently plan on going. Hopefully we don’t have to deal with anything like that over the next 14 months. Based on what’s happened to us so far, I know something unexpected is going to crop up, but I’ll just have to rely on that sign on the dashboard: “It’s all worked out before. Trust that it will again!”
If our travels take us anywhere near you and you’d like to get together for lunch (or would like to spend an afternoon sitting out in the fresh air at one of our campsites), drop me a line. I know Frank would love the extra attention. I’d enjoy the company, too. :o)