Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We Are Escapees at Rainbow Park

Sometimes I feel like I’ve dropped into Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon or I’m in a Disney movie here at Rainbow’s End RV Park.

At Rainbow’s End RV Park, everyone smiles and says, “Hello” when walking along the streets. Because the speed limit is only 10 miles per hour, you can see folks in cars or their RVs give a friendly nod as a greeting. Some people ride in covered golf carts. I saw one cart the yesterday with a warning sign posted saying “Blind Driver.” Streets have nice names like Providence Road, Rainbow Drive, Promise Lane and Sunrise Drive.

At Rainbow’s End RV Park all the men are handy at repairs, installations, and RV maintenance. All the women can make pot luck dishes from whatever’s in their RV pantry. Ice cream is served on Sunday nights at the Activity Center and lunch at the Club House on Tuesdays is an affordable $3.

There are no children at Rainbow Park, but all the grandchildren spoken of are beautiful, taking advance placement classes, and looking forward to Grandma’s & Grandpa’s next visit.

There are a lot of dogs at the park. Every hour of the day people are outside with dogs on a leash. One lady drives her motorized cart while her poodles strut ahead as if they were pulling her along. Some dogs are yippy and others are shy. Some are protective like the one dog who grabbed Ed’s pant leg to keep him from entering an RV even though he was invited inside.

There are dogs on the roads surrounding the Park too. When I ride my bike on these roads, they begin to bark just like the yipping in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. One dog begins the cry and soon every dog down the road is barking, “Here comes Patty on her bicycle!” Many of these dogs are confined in fenced yards. I keep waiting and watching for one in a frantic run to someday skid into the metal mesh, but to date and to my amusement, they always stop an inch shy of crashing. One dog is particularly ferocious. I keep trying to outsmart this growling white dog. There’s no fence around his yard so he lunges at the wheels of my bike. He hasn’t learned to stay off the road and keep his nose out of the spokes. He’s chased me every time I pass his way and once he lost some of that white hair in the bicycle spokes.

Rainbow’s End RV Park is a special place for members of the RV Club Escapees. Most people who park here are fulltime RVers. They’ve mostly all given up a house and possessions to live on the road. Conversations here center on places they have been or places where they dream to go. There are a few who are like me, experiencing the detoxification of the corporate treadmill. Most are well into retirement and have lived as fulltime RVers for more than 7 years. They’re eager to offer advice and encouragement when the space gets too tight in the RV.

Ed and I arrived here on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and will stay until New Years Eve in this friendly, near-to-fiction place.

Enjoying the Piney Woods of Livingston, Texas

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our First Christmas in the RV: Still Keeping Holiday Stories Alive

The most striking difference between Christmas in an RV versus Christmas in a house comes down to simplicity of decorations.

In a house, my decorating began on Thanksgiving Day. After everybody settled into that “full belly lull” and the mountain of dishes and leftovers were put away, I would start. The easy to spot red plastic containers with overlapping, interlocking green lids came down the attic pull stairs first. Next, I’d slide the boxed evergreen Christmas tree down the incline stairs damning it when the corner would catch on the slat of a step and need to be wiggled free before descending the full stairs to the garage floor. Finally, I’d scout for those assorted bags and boxes of stuff that either would not fit in the easily distinguishable red and green boxes or had been overlooked in the previous year’s clean-up of Christmas stuff and I had just set the stuff loosely about the attic.

My daughter Suzie would just groan and roll her eyes when I’d tell her visiting friends how much fun they would have helping to put up the tree. Ed would get up from laying on the living room couch and exit to the bedroom to watch TV saying, “Call me when you want me to take pictures.”

Hours later, the tree would be up decorated with the assorted ornaments. The tree always took hours because we’d reminisce about the story behind each ornament…the brass Cathedral of Learning symbolic of my favorite building at PITT, Suzie’s baby picture with her hair standing up like grass on Hallmark’s Baby’s First Christmas picture frame ornament, pearl beaded bells and stars handmade by Grandma Edith’s arthritic fingers, Pope John Paul II aka “Pope on a Rope”, and Christopher’s Oscar the Grouch peaking out of the garbage can, a happy meal souvenir.

Angels on the mantle, wreaths on the door, lights on the porch, holiday towels in the bathrooms, and my assorted collection of snowmen everywhere, Christmas music playing, and Santa hats on our heads… “Suzie, call Dad. We are ready for the camera.”

This year, the house belongs to someone else and the red and green boxes are stored in my Mom’s basement. We donated the Christmas tree to Goodwill because at our June garage sale, no one wanted to buy it. And, we are in our RV, just Ed and me.

My box of Christmas ornaments is now the size of a compressed one pound bag of coffee. It fits in the drawer with my hair brushes, gloves, and other assorted personal stuff.

This year, Ed helped me decorate. We hung three tree ornaments on the living room valances over each window – a red faced Santa, doves in a heart-shaped wreath from a trip to Mayberry, and the angel I painted for Ed when I went to Prescott, Arizona last year. There are only two snowmen – one waving “hi” from a Texas boot and another appearing to ski downhill. One of Grandma’s stars is velcroed to the coach wall above the wooded tree that bends at a 45-degree angle. The artesian who designed the tree intended the evergreen to look like a winter wind was blowing the tree over, but our family knows better. It is a representation of the dog-legged tree we cut one Christmas and anchored it to the wall so it would stand straight. My decorating was complete this year in 15 minutes but the stories remain a Christmas tradition unchanged.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering

Ed and I are enjoying the blue, sometimes rainy, skies and piney woods of East Texas. We parked our Prevost motor coach at Escapee’s Rainbow RV Park in Livingston, Texas a day before Thanksgiving after making a full circle from Texas to the tip of Canada’s Gaspè Peninsula in the province of Québec. Our trip covered 7,443 miles mixed with sightseeing, visits with family and friends, planned repairs and upgrades to the coach, and time to adapt to our new lifestyle as full-time RVers.