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!