Thursday, 30 January 2014

Snowbirds flock off

We hitched up and left Canada to begin our new fulltiming lifestyle on Jan. 14/14.  I would like to say we hit the highway and didn't look back 'til the spring.  Well, that's not quite what happened, took us 1 1/2hrs just to find a place that could put 110psi in the trailer tires.  Once that was done we hit the blacktop with a vengeance (alright more of a leisurely pace at the speed limit, after all that a big ass trailer back there we were pulling).

 Crossed the border without a problem and headed down I 75.  We made it to just north of Cincinnati by midnight and had our first glorious stop for the night at a rest stop on the side of the highway.  Surprisingly comfortable with the hum of big rig tires in the background.  We slept until 6:30am, got  up and pulled straight into morning traffic.

  Fulltime lesson #1;  Get past the big cities before you stop for the night, dummy. 

Our next leg took us all the way to Marietta, Georgia.  We planned for a uneventful stop for the night.  On our way to the Atlanta/ Marietta campground we drove right by a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featured restaurant (POI's downloaded from their site, I was thinking ahead with my stomach).  Well, dinner at the Marietta Diner lived up to the hype.  Service was excellent and the food was even better, huge portions, delicious sides and the atmosphere of an old time diner, stainless steel and neon exterior topped it off.  It was stunning at night but we didn't have the camera with us, so a daytime shot is all you get.  This was taken the next day after we went back for breakfast (another good meal).

On the road again by 10am for a run all the way to High Springs FL.  We planned a two day stop to just take a breath after the last three weeks of non-stop exertion, excitement, elation, entertainment and excrete.....never mind.  High Springs CG was a rustic little park just off the highway which fit the bill perfectly for our purpose.

On to Donna's place in the sun.  Holiday Travel Park, 40min north of Tampa Bay.  This was our next stop for another two days.  This park has been slowly taken over by the Burnt River Gang (many of Jim and Donna's friends have made their way here over the years).  It is a little different now after Jim's passing 2yrs ago.  While we were here we attended an annual ceremony for the people who have passed away this past year and in previous years.  It was a touching ceremony with friends and family placing white doves on a tree.  Each dove has the honoured person's name on it.  Donna went and picked up Jim's then passed it to Detra to place on the tree.  Jim's stands out because his is the only one that was decorated with a guitar and musical notes by the lady who makes them.  He left an impression on everyone he met. R.I.P.  

After Donna cooked us a wonderful meal the day we arrived and breakfast the next morning. we decided to take her out to dinner. Went to Niko's Restaurant in Newport Richie along with close family friends Bob & Marg.  A good meal for all and 2 for 1 beer to boot. 

Monday Jan. 20, it was on to Fort Pierce, a 3.5 hr drive across the state.  We are at the Roadrunner travel resort for the next month.  The weather has been good for the first week, in the mid 20's most days.  We are relaxed and spending most of our time outside.  We have done a little sight seeing, one of the highlights being the manatee we watched for awhile.  He was in the harbor in downtown Ft. Pierce.

We had originally gone to the Manatee Observation and Education Center, paid the entrance fee and waited to see the elusive beasts in their native habitat.  The center was educational but there were no manatees to be seen.  Disappointed we had missed them, we started to leave and a man stops us, points across the harbor says there is a manatee over there waiting for us.

 Off to check out Jai-Alai down the road,

Ready, Set....whoa hold on a minute there!

Well we have arrived at the point where we can leave! 

This is a rather long first post and the ones that follow will be much shorter (I promise)and with pics, but we have to start somewhere...

It was a crazy run up to the closing of the house on Jan. 10.   They say the best laid plans go to waste...and Detra and I don't like to plan.

Having Christmas in the house for the last time was great, with daughter Jen and Stuart home from Liverpool, Detra's brother Brian, Jodi and the boys, (to big to call boys but that's what they're stuck with) Brad and Steven up from Chicago.  Donna was to fly in from Florida for a whirlwind tour of the frozen land and then hightailed it back to the sunshine state.

Jeff and Terri were here already but we were waiting on them to deliver the most anticipated guest of the holiday (no it wasn't Santa). It's our new grand baby!!!! who was to be here on Dec. 27. 

So the stage is set, people come, we have Christmas, the GRAND BABY!!!! is born, people leave, we pack up the house and we are drinking fresh squeezed orange juice in no time.  What could go wrong.

Well all was good, the Windy City Crew blew in just head of ... THE WORST ICE STORM EVER!    We were lucky, our power was out the next morning and we were upset we couldn't have our morning pick-me-up.  When the power did come on at our house around 1pm , we found out just how lucky we were.  The power went out all over southern Ontario.  It would be 1-2 days for half the people, including my mother, sister and brother's house and even more than a week for some unfortunate people, stretching right through Christmas.

 Brian picked up Donna from her weather delayed arrival.  Detra and I collected Jen and Stuart from their flight which was also behind schedule.  We were lucky and everyone made it to Oshawa despite the 1/2 inch of ice covering most of Ontario.  Cheryl, Fred, David and Nicole had made to Mum's from London, ON so Christmas eve was attended by all who had planned to come.

Christmas eve and day were fun for all, gifts exchanged, time with family and usual fun, food and festivities.

 Once the day was done we were on to the next step of  "the plan", waiting on THE GRAND BABY! to make his appearance before Jen, Stuart and the Windy City crew (minus Brad who was staying a little longer) had to leave for home.  Donna headed out Boxing day driving south with a friend, through another winter storm.  They would make it safe and sound with a couple of minor detours along the way.  We waited for the 27th and then!...we waited...waited...Brian, Jodi and Steven left for Chicago, sad that they would miss the new addition...waited...New Years at Frank and Joyce's... no drinking in case we have run to the hospital ...waited, never far from our phones...waited more days ... started working on packing up the house, though our minds weren't in it...waited ... Jen started checking into delaying her flight back to the U.K. but that wasn't for 11 days after the due date, it couldn't go that long. 

The Doc decided to speed things up on the 5th ..alright! things are going to happen now!  Well maybe not, Jeff and Terri were sent home to wait it out.  On the 6th more help from modern science... "is that labour there Terri?"  No... No, not yet, go home and come back tomorrow, after all the baby isn't showing signs of stress, just everyone on outside that are waiting for the GRAND BABY!!!  They actually let them wait it out at hospital while they still had open rooms. Jen was getting very anxious that she wouldn't be able to stay to see her new nephew Then that evening Terri went into labour, we visited and then went home to wait for the GRAND BABY!!

We got a call from Jeff around 5 am that it was getting close, so Detra, Jen and I bundled up and went to the hospital to wait with Terri's mom Theresa.  The wait was not to last much longer as Logan Alexander was born at 7:44am Jan. 7th 2014.  WE HAD A GRANDSON!!!!  Terri and baby were doing well, Jeff was a proud and happy dad and, I don't know if you know this yet, WE HAD A GRAND BABY!!!  This was great, Logan is so cute, Jen got to see him before she had to go, Logan is so cute, we still had what? three whole days to pack up our house of 22 years, Logan is so cute and get out on the 10th, Logan is so cute!

That night Jen and Stuart had to catch a 9pm flight and Brad had to hop a bus to Chi-town.  The weather was awful, I took them to their respective terminals (two different trips) and said goodbye.  Went back home through the sleet and snow happy that they could be here for the birth. 

Detra received a text from Chicago saying Brad was stuck in downtown Toronto as the bus was cancelled.  No problem I'll run out and get him, back home around midnight, better get to bed lots of work to do tomorrow. Then at 5 am Wed. the next morning , another call, it's Jen,  can I pick them up at Pearson their flight is cancelled due to weather and then a problem with the plane. 

There comes a time when you realize packing major life events together can wear you down.  Holidays, hosting family (not that we didn't love it!), having babies, having to move out of our home and into a completely different lifestyle in a matter of days can cause someone a little stress.  Now add lack of sleep, worrying about planes, trains and automobiles so everyone can get home, 11 days of waiting for the GRAND BABY! can get on a person's nerves.

All this and now it's still Wednesday, moving day!  Now remember the planning part Detra and I don't do to much of, now that is going to catch up with us.  We started in on the move about 7:30am.  Stress is building, this is hard work and Detra is starting to look at me sideways and second guessing whether she will enjoy the new lifestyle we have been planning for.  My brother Mike, his wife Michele, and Mike Jr. along with his friend arrive to lend all the help they can.  Brad is drafted into use due to his cancelled bus leaving him here in our clutches.  Jeff is given a leave of absence due to new family commitments.  They all worked very hard and moved most of  the big items to Jeff's and keep busy trying to pack all the rest into boxes.

By 5:00pm it was back to the airport with the Liverpudlians to hopefully catch their plane ride home.  Hugs and kisses at the drop-off. Jen and I realise for the first time ever, we do not know when the next time we will see each other.  It is not something that sits lightly on my mind or Detra's who couldn't handle taking the trip with us to airport.  Traffic was so bad I decided grab a bite before heading back, hoping the traffic would be better in half an hour.  In the middle of a bite, Detra calls, Jen thinks she has left her wallet at the house.  Detra runs home to look for it but it is nowhere to be found.  Jen comes to the conclusion she left it by the payphone when she called this morning.  Gone are the I.D's, credit cards and the prepaid train tickets back to Liverpool from London.  I drive back to Jeff's in time to see Logan and then back home to get back to work packing. 

Around 11:00pm it's back to downtown T.O. to get Brad to his midnight bus to Georgia... oh I mean Chicago.  When we get to the kiosk the guy tells us we are out of luck (he doesn't know the half of it) and the bus is full.  He then tells us to wait and he will see what he can do.....well they are adding another bus and Brad can finally go home.  Meanwhile back at soon to be someone else's home Detra is still packing.  Then it's home and in bed by 2am to get some rest for Thurs.

    Thursday morning and it's back to emptying the house.  Mike and Michele are back in a great show of courage, soon followed by my mother and my sister Cindy.  Detra and I are tired and sore but this has to be done. We made this bed that we are giving away and now won't be able to lay in.  The stress is building as the closing looms.  By the afternoon Detra has decided she is taking half the proceeds of the house sale, the furniture and finding a nice little apartment for one that she can be happy in.  I am wondering which I will be able to keep after we go our separate ways, a truck or a trailer. Quick math in my head says I can't do both on half my pension. We all continue working because regardless what happens in the meltdown, the house belongs to some else tomorrow.  There is another welcome break to go see Logan at Jeff's place.  Back to the house for a bite to eat with the family and then they wisely head out to leave it to us for the night. Our good friends Steve and Amanda come over and walk into enough tension it was dripping off the walls.  These are the friends who you want at times like this, they talk us down from the ledge. Steve and I take some things to their place while Amanda manages to convince Detra she can live with me  at least until the cheque clears the bank.  Detra and I keep working until 4am. (Not smart but that's how we work best; tired, under pressure and with a burning uncertainty for the future -together or apart, who knows were this is going?)  We go sleep on a mattress on the floor, exhausted and still not sure this will be done in time.  We try to go to sleep.

Friday, we manage to get everything out by the time the house officially closed, but only because of the work put in by family and friends, especially my brother Mike who did so much of the work without a whimper.  What also helped were the lawyers taking until 5pm to get the paperwork done.

We spent the weekend in my mother's driveway organizing the fifth wheel for our first trip south for the winter.   A thanks to Mum who fed us great food while we busy doing all the things that had to get done.  A trip to see Logan was the priority everyday until we were to leave. 

This is how one stage of our life ended and couple others have started.  Being on the road for the next few years will be fun and being grandparents is something we will cherish forever.   Did I forget to mention that we had a GRAND BABY!!!!

from sunny Florida,

P.S. Logan is so cute