Thoughts of Thanksgiving

Charles Shultz, the famous creator of Charlie Brown and the “Peanuts” cartoon strip, once gave an interview saying he wished he had allowed Charlie to finally kick the football.  He said he regretted that Charlie never had a chance to fulfill his dream of kicking the ball that Lucy always pulled away from him at the last second.  Interesting.

I’ve been giving that idea some thought as Lisa and I prepare to travel home for the Thanksgiving holiday where we will be spending a week with our family and friends.  I can’t remember the last time I looked so forward to Thanksgiving and Lisa and I both have never been as excited to spend a week at home.  In our lives – we tend to take practically every good thing for granted.  Good things become so commonplace that the bad things that happen seem exaggerated and the blessings and comforts of life – hardly recognized.  That is until they are gone.  The holidays of our past were often met with a “who cares” sort of attitude as we were. for most of our life, home and in constant contact with our children and family.  Now our time at home is so infrequent that we cherish every minute and moment we are there.

The irony to all this is that our understanding of how precious our family and friends are required we be gone for months at a time.  We had to lose our time with family in order to appreciate time with family.  Perhaps that speaks as much to our sorry state as human beings and the tendency to make the old proverb true: ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ as it does to anything else.  But, whatever the reason, we certainly love home more now than ever.

So, this Thanksgiving I am trying something new.  I am deliberately being thankful for the things I don’t have.  As strange as that sounds, it is important to realize that God, in His wisdom, always leaves us wanting more.  And that is a really good thing.  Think about it.  Food always tastes better when you are really hungry, a warm coat feels warmer when you are really cold, a soft bed feels better when you are really tired.  As I have written about recently, this new RV that Lisa and I are now enjoying has been even more appreciated because of the two and half years we spent in one almost half the size.  I am thankful for those years and that old RV – now more than ever.  I am more thankful for food when I am hungry – more thankful for warmth when I’m cold.  Looking around my life I can name hundreds of things I do not have.  I am thankful for every one of those things.

I suppose winning the lottery would be a wonderful thing.  There would be nothing that you could not buy or own.  But, on the other hand, it may be the worst thing that could ever happen.  There would be nothing else to dream about.  Eric Liddell, the famous Olympian featured in the movie “Chariots of Fire”, was once asked what it would mean to achieve his goal of winning a gold medal.  Very astutely he responded that it was the greatest fear of his life.  As he explained it, everything he had trained for and sacrificed in his life – would have been achieved.  What would be left for him?

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all the things Lisa and I do not have.  I am thankful for the times we are away from home and miss our family.  I am thankful for the things we dream of but have yet to achieve.  And I am thankful that Charlie Brown never kicked that football.  I just hope he never quits trying.

Happy Thanksgiving!  We will be home soon.  Love Steve and Lisa

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“Breaker – Breaker! We Got Poop Flying on I-71”

Readers of our little blog have shared with us that they love hearing our RV stories.  Those tales have (typically) been good for a laugh as we have invited followers into our camping experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly.  We have learned much along the way of this two and half-year journey and the adventures continue.  Now – sit back for yet one other RV adventure story.  This one has to do with pulling our new, much larger fifth wheel from Owensboro, Kentucky to Cambridge, Ohio.  This is a story of a squeezed buttocks, a two lane road, and the flat tire that wasn’t.  There is your teaser.

For weeks now Lisa and I have anticipated finally pulling our new RV here to Cambridge – having ordered it from the factory.  The day finally arrived for us to unload our belongings from our old RV – the one where all the adventures began for us in Hanover, Pennsylvania.  It was sad seeing our little home for the past two plus years empty and knowing we had slept our last night in our beloved little trooper.  It really did serve us well.  As we hitched up for the six-hour drive home, it felt a little like we were taking it to be euthanized – the final trip before it was “put down” so to speak.  Perhaps the good people at ‘Owensboro RV’ (allow us to put in a good word for them – they treated us well) can return it to its past glory.  We believe it still has many good years left.  Good-bye old friend!

Friday November 7th finally arrived.  Lisa and I made it home safely the night before and arrived to pick up our new RV at noon.  We almost cried when we walked in to see our new home for the first time.  It all seemed to good to be true.  Walking around the spacious forty-two foot camper made us feel almost amazed that we had survived in our little cracker box for so long.  There is something to be said for those who wait and sacrifice and wait even more for good things to happen.  Our appreciation for our new digs was heightened because of the inadequate digs we had before.  It is moments like this that I am reminded to “give thanks in all circumstances” as the apostle Paul admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  It brings some understanding of how and why we should even be thankful for the painful things of life – the sacrifices, the leaky roofs and squeaky floors.  There will come a day that will be better and it will be so because of the pain.  The great life paradox is that we have to know pain to know comfort.  We have to be without in order to understand plenty.  We had to live for two and half years in a tiny fifth wheel camper in order for this moment of walking through our new one to have any meaning.  It was a long-awaited moment.  Paul was absolutely right when he wrote: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.  God has been good.

Finally, after all the paperwork, all the ‘walk throughs’ and explanations of this button and that knob and those lights, and this lever – we slowly pulled our new RV onto the by-pass and northeast to Cambridge.  At the risk of sounding crude – the best description of my physical condition as we headed out with this beast was that my butt cheeks were squeezed so tight – Lisa thought something was rubbing in the backseat causing the squeaking sound.  Nope – it’s just my anus.  Now leave me the hell alone.  My fingers gripped the steering wheel until the blood had drained into my elbows – leaving my hands numb and a light shade of blue.  Ever so slowly I began to relax and before long we were comfortable with this twelve thousand pound house pulling behind us.

One of the great fears of pulling an RV is finding adequate fuel stations that can allow easy access.  Being on the safe side – we stopped at almost every station that looked good – regardless of how much fuel we needed.  At last count I think we stopped six times to make the three hundred mile journey.  Better safe than sorry.

Before long I became even more confident and even drove one-handed and started waving at all the other travelers as if I pulled this big RV every weekend.  I could imagine many of them were impressed with my one-handed driving – even making such comments as, “Boy, look at that guy handle that rig.”  I was cruising.  In fact I cruised so well that I missed my turn to Cincinnati coming out of Louisville.  After a few miles I commented to Lisa that the landscape looked unfamiliar and after a few more miles realized we were off course.  Both hands back on the steering wheel because the next fifteen miles would be on skinny, hilly, curvy, two lanes roads to get us back to I-71.  With my anus firmly shut and numb hands gripping the steer wheel – we breathlessly navigated the Oldham County countryside.  The trip off-road would have been a wonderful Sunday drive – if I were in a convertible sports car, but not pulling a forty-two foot fifth wheel.  But thank the Lord we finally made it back to the interstate.  Thank God for four lane highways – six lanes are even better.

As we neared the north end of Cincinnati – having caught our breath from our back roads adventure, I noticed smoke coming from my trailer tires.  What in the hell?  I had a flat tire.  How could a brand new RV with brand new tires have a flat?  We were in a terrible spot with high traffic and no place to turn off and we drove on slowly until we reached an off ramp.  I looked closely through my side mirrors when we finally stopped and noticed water pouring out near the back tires.  I then realized that I did not have a flat tire.  What I had was a sewer drain cap that had come lose sending water onto the tires and causing what looked like smoke steam up.  Whew!  I don’t think people driving near me were too happy seeing fluid flying out of my sewer line.  What they did not know is that the water was clear and only present due to the factory running clean water through the system during final inspection.  But drivers around me did not know that.  “Breaker, Breaker!  We go poop flying all over I-71 just north of Cincy.  Be advised truckers to avoid that blue Ford F-250 pulling that big-ass RV.  And that driver looks a little tense.  I think his ass is squeezed shut.”

After several more unnecessary fuel stops and several more hours, we finally arrived here at our campground in Cambridge.  The fun of backing this thing into its spot would be the final challenge.  Lets just say it was not easy.  No – lets tell it like it is.  Lisa and I absolutely suck at backing up.  I am certain that I have some sort of backing up mental deficiency.  I struggle backing up our truck without an RV attached to the bumper.  Now I am trying to back up a forty-two foot small house into a ten foot wide slot with a tree on one side and another camper on the other.  Our neighbors became so concerned they came outside for fear they may get rammed while watching TV.  We took out one campsite marker, got hung in mud, moved up and back and in and out and this way and that way and finally had one of the oil and gas workers in our campground give us a hand (no he did not clap) until we were finally here.  Thirty minutes later we were set.  Home for the next three months (at least).  We have spent the past two days getting everything in its place and trying to figure out all the bells and whistles of this thing.  But we have never been happier.  God has been amazing to bless us with such a place as this.  We now have room for all our family and friends to visit with us, room for all of Lisa’s clothes (and my one shirt and two pairs of pants) and even have a second bedroom that I have designated my “Man Cave”.  It all seems too good to be true.

We now prepare for the upcoming winter as cold temperatures are in the forecast.  We don’t know how this thing will hold up during in the cold and snow – but we will soon find out.  We don’t know what glitches we will encounter (and there will be some).  We don’t know how long we will be in Cambridge and we don’t know how long we will own this RV.

What we do know is that God has been good to Lisa and I – and that the scripture is true.  Our hearts never imagined what God had in store for us.

Thanks readers for sharing in our adventures.  Love, Steve and Lisa

 

Moving Day

Moving day.  It is about to happen.  After two and half years of living in our little, leaky, one-slide fifth wheel trailer, today we move it home for the last time.  Tomorrow we set foot inside our new twelve-foot longer, four thousand pound heavier, four slide mansion.  Well – in all honesty it is, perhaps, not as nice as some out there on the market – but we could not be more thrilled with having a newer, roomier model.  We feel blessed.

As Lisa and I woke up this morning, we realized that last night was our last night in this place we have called home since June 2012.  We felt a little sentimental thinking back at the time we have spent in this camper.  From the day we made the purchase in Hanover, Pennsylvania it has been a blessing in many ways.  It has survived five months in the Mohave Desert, the apocryphal Atlanta two-inch snowstorm at Stone Mountain, the winds of Amarillo, Texas, the three AM ghost of Round Top Campground in Gettysburg and, in the end, two amateur RV’rs still learning how to camp.  Here we learned many life lessons such as: how to store all your clothes in a two foot wide space; how to stack pizza slices into a refrigerator the size of a desk drawer; how to flush a toilet with your feet; how to empty the black water first and then the gray water; how to keep hoses from freezing; how to make sure to lower your tailgate before pulling away from the camper (an expensive mistake) and, in the end, how to live simply and happy.

We have learned much from others who call themselves full-time RV’rs.  There is a sense of community in a campground unlike any other.  Here you find people not only willing to help – but wanting to help.  I suppose there is not much else to do but help your neighbor with repairing an awning or a leaky drain.  It gives everyone a sense of purpose and it really does feel good to lend a hand.  Back home, we have lived in the same house for over fifteen years and we don’t know the names of most of the people living on our block.  We know more people here in this campground and have been here only six months.  That really is sad.

So it is time to pull our slide in one more time and head west on I-70.  Awaiting us back home is our family, our friends and a brand new 2015 RV.  We will return with it on Sunday and here we will stay (with the exception of being home a week at Thanksgiving and a week at Christmas) until, at least, early February.  What awaits us is surviving the eastern Ohio winter.  But, at least, we will have a new RV to do that in.  Lisa and I can only hope it gives us as much pleasure and stories to tell as this old camper has.  Thanks for the memories.

Be Home Soon!