Leaving Paris was bittersweet, but our trip was not over yet! We returned to Dublin for another six days and devoted most of that time to saying our long goodbyes. Very early on the morning of February 25th, our taxi arrived to take us to the airport. On the way, we marveled at what a fabulous, stress-free trip we had experienced and we vowed to return sooner rather than later. At any other time in our lives, the trip home would likely be the end of our travels for a long while, but not this time. Now, returning home signaled the start of our 2017 domestic travels and we were excited!
We've known for a while that 2017 would find us primarily on the east coast, but we only had a minimal outline of our route and stops along the way. So, upon our return from Europe, we knew it was time to hunker down with all our resources and work out the details.
This is my favorite thing to do. I just love looking at the maps and plotting our course, finding great things to see and places to stay along the way. If I am unsure about a particular destination, Steven will check it out from a photographer's perspective and give a thumbs up or thumbs down. I love the process and I usually learn a ton about our upcoming destinations. This year is a much bigger challenge because we are heading into unknown territory with regard to RV travel.
Our travels in Scoopy began March 4th, when we left Live Oak Ranch and headed to Florida. Our main goal in Florida was to change our domicile from Washington state. Before now, we really had no reason to change and plenty of reason to remain residents of Washington. But this year, we were unable to get a health plan that would cover us outside the state, except in an emergency. It is getting more and more difficult to find plans that work for us, but we finally did, in Florida. So, we decided to become Floridians.
After leaving the ranch we stopped in Abilene to replace our front windshield, yes, the one we had replaced last summer in Wasilla. (!!!) We then stayed overnight at Walmart in Shreveport, the Elks Lodge in Slidell and finally, the posh resort of Bella Terra in Foley, AL. We stayed here for a couple of reasons; first, we needed our Alabama sticker and second, our friends Kim & Christi were staying there. Win-win! Oh, and they have a somewhat affordable three-night stay rate as long as you agree to spend an hour touring the resort, which we did.
After our stay at Bella Terra we finally drove into what would become our new home state, Florida! We had reserved four nights at the Fort Pickens campground in Pensacola. We really enjoyed our stay there, mainly due to the close proximity to the beautiful beach. While we were there, we needed to get an odometer verification document signed by local law enforcement. It is one of the many pieces of information required to become a Floridian. Steven called the Sherriff's department and they sent someone right out to our campsite! We were floored, but this is apparently not uncommon. Wow, nice touch, Florida!
We decided rather than waste all of our time at the DMV, we'd simply enjoy our stay at Ft. Pickens and worry about all the domicile tasks once we moved to the Elks Lodge in Pensacola. Our moving day happened to coincide with my 60th birthday, and who wants to do all that work on their birthday? Not me! More friends had arrived in Foley, AL and we had arranged to meet up for a couple of birthday celebrations, mine and Caroline Ridout's. Both were milestone birthdays, but I won't spill the beans on her age!
Finally, on Tuesday, March 14th, we became Floridians. We managed to get our legal domicile changed in just a couple of hours, but that was only because Steven had done a ton of work and document prep before we even left for Europe. The DMV agent was mighty impressed with our preparedness, and we left there with driver's licenses, new plates for both vehicles, new vehicle titles and both of us registered to vote. It was quite a spendy proposition for the first year, but the second year is cheap compared to Washington state! That said, with all that is going on (or not going on, as it were) in our nation's capitol, who knows if Florida will even be a good choice for us next year?
We soon moved on to Tallahassee where we literally did nothing but shop. Not superfluous shopping, but restocking the fridge, freezer and wine cabinet, refreshing our summer wardrobes and gathering a few odd purchases for Scoopy and Toadie. It's a list that has been gaining steam for a few weeks now and we scheduled shopping for Tallahassee because that's where all our favorite stores could be found in one place, including Costco and Trader Joe's. Pure bliss!
From Tallahassee we moved on to the Elks Lodge in Jacksonville, FL for four days. Here we finally got to meet up with Howard and Linda Payne from RV-Dreams. They are avid proponents of and educators about the fulltime RV lifestyle. Howard writes a near daily blog and they both participate in RV shows giving informative seminars to interested folks about the lifestyle. It was great to finally meet them!
We knew our friends Jim & Diana (ExploRVistas) were south of Jacksonville, and when they said they had business nearby, we said come join us for lunch with Howard and Linda, so they did! The next day we drove to St. Augustine where they were staying overnight and joined them for a morning of sightseeing and a delicious lunch before saying our goodbyes. Jim & Diana are heading to a workcamping job in Oregon this year, so we won't see them for a while. We wish them and all our RVing friends safe and happy travels!
As I type we are currently set up at the Elks Lodge in Charleston, SC. I'll write about that in a future blog, but I just wanted to get you caught up on where we’ve been. I also want to layout our travel plans for the rest of 2017 - we're covering a lot of ground and seeing some great places We hope you’ll stay with us and follow along on our travels!
NEXT UP: 2017 – What’s in Store.