Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy Endings

Happy endings to RVing.... We sold the motorhome....




And here is Lana Kai Peterman, born 6/14/13 weighing 6 lbs, 5 oz, and 19.5 inches long.



And now we're on a whole new adventure!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Moving to Houston, minus one boat

February, March, and April were difficult months for us.  I was on the Gulf coast of Florida basking in the sun and Chris kept having to fly out to Houston for job interviews and pre-employment testing.  He was gone more than he was home during those months.  We didn't know he had the job for sure until exactly two weeks before his start date.  And he wouldn't be given time to fly back and help move!  That left it up to me to pack up everything and drive our 34 foot motorhome, Jeep, and 16 foot boat back to Texas by myself.  Quite a daunting task! 

Thank goodness, Daddy came to the rescue.  My Dad flew from west Texas to Florida on a few day's notice to help me move.  Add to Dad's plate that he had just had a knee surgery a couple days before!  He's a trooper.  Considering that the motorhome doesn't have cruise control but the Jeep does, I asked Dad to drive the Jeep and tow the boat while I drove the motorhome. 

We traveled about 250 miles a day.  The first day we never got out of Florida.  Oh, how I hated stopping for gas!  On the first stop for gas, I got too close to the pump and was scared to pull out.  Dad took over to get the motorhome away from the pump.  When he got to the edge of the road we put it in Park to switch drivers (okay I leaned over Dad to put it in Park).  Dad stood up and stepped away from the wheel.  Suddenly I realized the motorhome was rolling into a busy street!  Oh no!  I jumped into the seat and stood on the brake pedal.  Oops.  Must not have gotten the shifter all the way into the Park setting.  Pesky gears.  Don't worry, no one hit us and we got back on the road with just a little case of the shakes.

We stuck to the interstate like glue, exiting only at rest stops or to fill up the gas tanks.  I made it across the narrow bridges in Florida.  I made it through the underground tunnel in Alabama.  Just across the Mississippi state line, we noticed a break on the boat trailer and found a welding shop.  The welding shop looked at it and said, "You don't need a weld, you need a new trailer!"  Oh, if only we'd listened.  Instead we paid for a patch and prayed for the trailer to make it to Texas.  Onward! 
We crossed Mississippi and over into Louisiana.  The next obstacles were the 40 mile long Breaux Bridge and then Baton Rouge which always has horrible traffic and then there's a steep bridge upon which the motorhome refuses to go more than 45 miles an hour.  Whew!  Got through those, piece of cake.  We were now in the home stretch.  We've been sleeping at rest stops, dry camping, skimping on water so no baths, and there are dents in the steering wheel from my fingerprints.  Did I mention that one morning the motorhome didn't want to start and we had to go pump the fuel by hand?  That's okay, we got it started after a half hour of me crying and Dad reassuring me that this too, shall pass.

In Shreveport, LA my Dad called me on the cellphone.  He said the boat trailer had broken completely and there would be no patching it this time.  He was on the side of the road a couple exits behind me.  I took the next exit and found a very conveniently large parking lot to pull the monster into.  Dad detached the boat trailer from the Jeep and came to pick me up so I could see the damage.  When we drove up, we saw shrapnel from the trailer was strewn across the road for a mile behind him!  Somehow the boat was still on the trailer and intact.



We found a flat-bed tow truck to haul the boat to a storage facility and left the boat in LA.  At this point I had a total melt-down and decided I had had quite enough of driving the motorhome!  We'd been on the road for four very stressful days in which I hadn't had a shower.  We lost the boat trailer.  I'd been sleeping with very loud tractor trailers right outside my window.  I called Chris and told him, "Come get me!  I'm only two hours away from you and then you can drive this behemoth to Houston!"  Then I took a much needed nap.  When I woke up Chris was there to rescue me.  We made it to Houston that night.  I drove 905 miles in a 34 foot motorhome.  I'm good with that.  Now we just need to find a new (used) boat trailer...


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The sky's the limit...?

I just love this.  Especially appropriate since my husband now works at NASA!  :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Road To Happiness Has Twists and Turns

I haven't written much on this blog for the past year.  We've been going through a lot of changes.  Big, Life Changing changes.  I'll skip the drama, we've loved traveling in our RV for the past 3 years and now we've settled down.  A real, permanent place to call HOME.

I knew I was ready to settle down.  Traveling is awesome and seems like you could do it forever.  But after a while, it gets... not boring.  There's always somewhere new to explore.  It just gets lonely.  Always in a strange town where you don't know where the grocery store is, which mechanic you can trust, or how far it is to the closest hospital should you need it.  Never staying anywhere long enough to develop friendships, people who really know you and with whom you can have deep conversations.  Missing your family and best friends, the type you can call and know they will come over or watch your pets while you're out or help you move a boat from a broken trailer to a new one.  Actually, the boat trailer is another story.  I'll post that one another time...

In January I was hired as a Park Ranger in Fort Myers, FL.  I LOVED the job.  Seriously, they paid me to do all the things I love most in the world: gardening, teaching people about nature, protecting the environment, and besides that hanging out at a beautiful park all day!  We thought we'd stay.  We'd get to know people, make a place for ourselves there that we could call home.  But only 3 months into my dream job, Chris got a call.  An offer.  A job offer from HIS dream job at NASA... in Houston.  Oh, what to do???

At first I thought that this blog was all about our travels.  But the title says, "Our Road To Happiness."  I started blogging when I quit a job I hated with every fiber of my being, and set out on a mission to find Happiness.  We have learned a lot on this journey.   Things like:

-Any view, no matter how beautiful, can become routine.  You just get used to it and it loses its magic. 
-Happiness can't be found in any place on the map.  It's in your mind.
-Humans are very adaptable.  We will survive whether we are rich or poor, cold or hot, dirty or clean, living in the country or the city.  We can be happy if we decide to be.
-Flexibility is essential to navigating Life.

So, we moved to Houston.  Chris loves his job, and I have faith that I will find a career that I love too.  We're near our families and friends (we lived in Texas before starting out on our motorhome journey).  This blog is not about traveling, it's about learning to cope with Life's twists and turns.  Navigating the road through tough times and good ones and finding that Happiness isn't the place we're going; it's the journey.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rescue of the baby osprey

There was a great osprey nest in a tree that fell down in a big storm at the park.  


 
Here are the parents looking forlorn as their nest and baby are gone....
Here are the parent osprey looking forlorn that their nest is gone!

Poor baby osprey all alone

Big project bringing all the tools in kayaks to the mangrove island
 
We placed a nest box as close to the original nest as possible, brought in nesting material, and returned the chick.

Everyone is reunited again!


The rescue crew

Day Trip to Cayo Costa

This is beautiful Cayo Costa State Park.  Miles and miles of unspoiled beaches, very few people.  Very primitive facilities and only accessible by boat.  The trail system was extensive and fun!  Thanks to our great friends Craig and Sue who invited us over and gave us a great day's tour of the island.  We can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weeki Watchee Springs State Park


For the weekend we motored up to Weeki Watchee Springs State Park, just north of Tampa.  I really enjoyed it!  They have crystal clear spring water, perfect for viewing manatees and mermaids!  They have a mermaid show which was great to watch.  I think little kids would get a big kick out of this place!

 Mermaids sing...
 

 And dance!

The manatees were so easy to see and photograph in the clear water!
 

See the tiny hairs around his snout?  They're used like a cat's whiskers to help navigate in murky water! 
 

Did you know that manatees have independent prehensile lips?  They can curl either lip around a morsel of food to grab it!  Cool, yeah?
 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm a Ranger!

I have a new JOB as a Park Ranger for Florida State Parks!  We're on the west coast of Florida and settling in for a long haul.  I love my new job, it's what I've been working towards!  The park is right on the ocean.  The beaches are lined with shells, the canals are teeming with birds, and there are miles of hiking trails are full of tropical plants!  


Chris continues to work from the RV with his little helper. 







So now that we're both working full time jobs you will probably see our blogging frequency decrease dramatically.  Sorry, guys, we'll try to keep up but sometimes we may be too busy to blog!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Moving for New Years

Our time at Bahia Honda has finally ended again. We've temporarily moved to Collier-Seminole State park. We're very excited to see more of Florida's west coast! We found a gopher tortoise at nearby Koreshan State Park!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Butterflies!

We really loved the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West!!!  It's very small but absolutely fantastic!  They have thousands of butterflies crammed into a space the size of an average garage.  You walk in and are surrounded by flitting, spinning, fluttering rainbows of color!  It's too fabulous for photo to capture, but here's my attempt!

 This beauty landed on me and sat there for about 2 minutes!


 The best way to capture butterflies in photo is to wait for them to stop for a snack.  It's the only time they stop fluttering!



See the funny curly thing under his head?  That his proboscis - a long tongue-like appendage that they can extend to reach the bottom of a deep tubular flower.








It might be hard to believe, but I promise these two photos are the SAME butterfly!  Talk about a split personality!



I just love the green and turquoise colors on this one!  




Look at those crazy antennae!  What could that alien looking creature be?!






...It's MOTHRA!!!!  Muh ha ha ha ha....
Here's a nice overall photo to show you how the inside looks.  They have a pond in the middle, a couple of waterfalls, and lots of cute tropical birds flying around in here too!  


One of my favorite sayings is, "In Order to Enjoy Butterflies, You Must First Suffer the Caterpillars."  In that line, I'll end this post with a photo of a caterpillar that I took right here at Bahia Honda State Park.

Soon this ugly little worm will be a beautiful butterfly!  It reminds me that we can all transform ourselves into something better every day.  Hope you have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's Not Always Sunny In Florida

The rain has been coming down steadily for three days now, the park is flooding in several places.  Here are some pictures of Bahia Honda that are not on any of the brochures!

Here's the new lake behind our house.  Whoohoo!  Waterfront property!



Sorry, campers!  The park website SAYS flooding may occur!  Not really, all the campers have been very nice.  This guy actually didn't move even though he was offered a dry campsite.



Oops!  I don't think the cop parked his boat like that!

 It's a special day in the park when the Rangers go shoeless!

Don't worry, we managed to get the boat out of the water and on the trailer.  This last picture is Ranger Fred removing the drain plugs.  He was soaked up to his shoulders!  Kept his shoes on, though.  Very professional, Ranger Fred!  :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bahia Honda

I know I haven't blogged in, oh... a MILLION YEARS! Sorry about that. I think my life is fun but I don't know if its cool enough to blog about! Chris bugs me to blog all the time. So here it is!

We're now volunteering (again) at Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key, FL. For anyone who's never been to the Keys, this is right in the middle of the Keys, about two hours south of the mainland and about an hour north Key West. Even as the rest of the world cools off, its still warm and even hot some days here. We're generally experiencing 70's at night and 80's by day.

We both have online jobs to pay the bills and volunteering at the park is fun as well as it pays the rent! When we're not at work we are usually out in our little boat, or snorkeling, or diving, or hunting lobster or fishing. Catching our dinner helps with the grocery bills! We have lots of fish!

Fish going in the freezer

Catching lobster

Today the weather was rainy and the waves are high so we went to the Key West Aquarium. I had lots of fun playing at the touch tank and even got to help feed the nurse sharks!

We love the Florida Keys!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gone Fishin'

We've been having a lot of fun on the water lately! My relatives visited from Jupiter, FL and brought their boat down. We went snorkeling and riding around a lot. Snorkeling in the mangrove roots is very awesome! Lots of little tropical fish, snappers, and we even found a free-swimming nudibranch (a sea slug with beautiful bright colors)!
We also went out on a rented boat with some new friends who taught us about trolling in deep waters. Caught a nice Mahi-Mahi! He was very yummy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Set up in Key Largo

We have arrived in Key Largo and are parked at our new home, Pennekamp State Park. The water here is a little browner than the water we got used to last fall at Bahia Honda. But now we have a boat so we can putter right out to the ocean very easily! We'll be experimenting with snorkeling and diving in the area when we're not working at the park!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Atchafalaya Basin flooding

The recent flooding in Louisiana is visible on the bridge. This is usually a boggy area instead of the lake we saw. Those are tree tops sticking up out of the water!

Hi everyone!

For all my friends who have been bugging me to blog again, here it is. We've spent 5 months in Austin - the longest time we've sat still in about 2 years! We've had good times and tough ones here. When we first arrived in Austin we dealt with a freakish cold spell where it didn't get over 20 degrees for several days! It was cold in the RV! And we learned an important lesson about RVing in freezing temps. It is important not just to disconnect the water and sewage lines but also to completely empty them! Yep, we had frozen sewage in the dump line and it refused to melt for a week!

We've done some big upgrades since we've been here. We now have all new tires on the motorhome, an air conditioner and heat pump, and an on-demand hot water heater! The hot water heater plus an Oxygenics shower head is the epitome of RV luxery! I highly recommend it to all RV owners! No more Army showers for us!

We have had busy social schedules since we've been in Austin. We are so lucky to have so many friends! We've been at the lake diving and enjoyed many dinners with our friends. I've been working at an organic nursery in town, The Natural Gardener, where I made lots of new friends and loved the work! Chris has been very busy teaching Scuba at the University of Texas and also at Oak Hill Scuba shop. He is now officially an Instructor Trainer! Congrats, baby!

I have a camp host job lined up at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park starting June 1st. Key Largo, here we come!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Loving Life and Visiting Austin

We're back in Austin for a few months. Surprisingly a lot of people have thought that we are done traveling and are moving back to our house. Like the RV trip was a big vacation and now we're done. That's like saying, oh so you've finally had that baby and now you're going back to your regular life now, hey? NO!!! We think of our RV travels as a new chapter in our lives. We have left behind the ordinary and moved into a realm of extraordinary. We now realize that life does not have to be same-old-same-old. We've learned to pursue things we love. Don't be afraid of change; it's just part of life. We're perfectly happy in our little motorhome as long as we have each other and can do stuff we love every day. If we're not loving it, we will move on to something new!

So now that we're in Austin, Chris is going to teach scuba and I am applying at plant nurseries all over town. We're determined not to get sucked in to the Rush-n-Hurry club again. Life is too short so we should all get out there and enjoy it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The New View

All good things must come to an end and now its almost time to leave Bahia Honda. The great people at this park have agreed to let us stay a couple of extra days in another campsite while we wait for the last of our mail to get here. We are waiting for a campsite to open up and during the transition time we have moved into the marina parking lot and although there are no utilities here it has a beautiful view!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Destructo-Cat

A couple of nights ago I awoke to a loud crash from the front of the motorhome.  I checked it out and found my notebook computer at the bottom of the stairwell making (not so) funny noises.  I picked it up and checked it out only to get "Hard Drive not Detected" - the hard drive took physical damage.  It fell because a certain small cat was trying to stand on it to see what was going on up near the ceiling.  I had to have a new drive FedEx'd in to get back up and running.

This evening I heard another crash from the front of the motorhome and saw a black streak heading away from the area.  I found my cell phone and the signal booster that we use to get service in low service areas on the floor.  The plug on the signal booster was completely snapped off and is rattling around in the case.  It's toast.  A few hours later I tried to check a text message on my cell phone and found that the touchscreen and buttons on the front no longer work.  After fiddling with it for a while I've declared it toast as well, oh well, Melissa says that I yelled at it at least once a day for not working anyway.  Going to order a Droid tonight and finally get rid of Windows Mobile forever.

Happy's been an expensive kitten this week...

The dead equipment
A tired kitten passed out on me after today's destruction