Friday, June 17, 2016

How It All Began

Having retired from full-time employment during the summer of 2014, I had prepared myself for the lifelong goal to travel the United States. I had saved regularly and had a little more financial help from employer-sponsored retirement plans and a union-negotiated payout at the closing of their plant where about 165 others and I were employed. The company moved to Canada and Mexico, with corporate operations in the UK. You may have read elsewhere about the flight of American business away from oppressive tax situations - now creating more pressure on citizens to float the government coffers. However, that is a different story.

My retirement goals were non-specific at first, but became more and more focused as opportunities presented themselves. Some would call it luck, but I found exactly what I wanted and only what I needed to put my ideas into motion - I mean literally and figuratively.

I was able to purchase this travel outfit. The camper is a 2010 Palomino Puma (Model 18-DB) and the SUV is a 2006 GMC Envoy with many nice options to make my traveling the experience of a lifetime. Admittedly, I am now much poorer in the bank, but much lighter in spirit as both are debt-free and in prime condition. I think the way this all came together must have been luck. I could never have planned it this way .. ever.

I decided that my first retirement winter (isn't everyone's) should be spent in Florida, but I had a few stops to make along the way. Of course, my lifelong friend, Steve had to see my rig. I had seen his Class C rig during my 2012 visit to the USAF Thunderbirds Air Show in Mt. Comfort and his travel trailer on other another occasion. Even though I had talked about it before, Steve made the first move to acquire the equipment to take it on the road. Now, I can't remember which of us had the idea first, but it doesn't matter. Our friendship had never been competitive except that Steve got all the girls.

The USAF Thunderbirds in formation over Mt. Comfort, Indiana.
I was still camping in a tent in those days and I enjoyed the simplicity of it all. Throw your stuff in the trunk and take-off. That was all fine and dandy until the July 4th 2011 weekend camping on the banks of Lake Ontario near the Four Mile Creek State Park and Old Fort Niagara (like "the falls"), there came a thunderstorm to beat the band, as they say. I'm on my cot, Coleman lantern lit and listening to booming thunder echo off the lake after the lightning flashed and rain coming down very hard almost threatening my sanity.

Reading the history of the Battle for Fort Niagara (French & Indian War)
I watched the water seeping into the tent, but was powerless to stop it. One does NOT touch the sides of a tent during a rainstorm. After it was all over, I was glad that a towel could easily sop up the rain water and after a few wring-outs, I was high and dry again. Lesson learned. That Coleman tent was about 20 years old and still doing its job well. I still have it, by the way.

So, what else can I tell you? The older I get, the more I enjoy American History.The older I get, the more I realize that history is the only thing older than me. (Insert your chuckle here) Perhaps having the birth date of July 3rd may have something to do with that. We always had cookouts and parties near or on July 4th. After the get -together, we'd adjourn around 8:30 pm, pile in the family car and drive to the nearest drive-in movie theater (or a parking lot nearby) and watch the fireworks display honoring America's official birthday. We know the Declaration was signed on the 3nd and wasn't ratified until around the 8th, but it was made public by nailing printed copies onto message boards and trees in the town square.

Camping in Rhinebeck, New York - rustic with Wi-Fi.
The next year, I visited the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome which is dedicated to the preservation of early aviation aircraft. If you've ever seen the movie, "Those Daring Young Men in Their Flying Machines" and focus on the machines, you'll see the type I mean. Flying was accomplished by low powered engines and warping of wings for flight controls. Daring! I took many photos there. My favorite is this Fokker DR-1 (replica).

During the Rhinebeck Air Shows, they try to give the public a taste of what areal dog fighting might have looked like to ground observers. They do their best to put you in the mood with antique cars, fashion shows and airplanes that you would swear could never fly.. I mean with only 35 hp, 3-cylinder  engines, but they did.

I like going to these kinds of places and putting myself into history in this way. Later, I'll take you to places that take you back to the days of the Revolutionary War, The French-Indian War, The Battle for the Alamo, The Battle for New Orleans and even a celebration or two. 

We'll visit other historic and scenic areas along the trip. We'll visit famous caves, attend a street party or two, go kayak paddling with the alligators (that I didn't know were there), and sit on the beach and watch the ocean come in during high tide. So, I'll leave you with a short video I shot during my first RV camping season while visiting Daytona Beach. This is my first attempt at uploading video to Blogger. The video isn't very scenic, but to be doing this when folks in Indiana and West Virginia are hunkered down under down-filled comforters keeping warm, is pretty cool, I think. 

Take care, be cool and stay tuned-in.


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