~You cannot discover new roads until you’re willing to lose sight of your front door~
Since retiring, do you plan for your future, or do you go-with-the-flow? Rob and I decided when we got married thirty-some years ago to never plan too far ahead. Why? Because every time we planned, something else would come up to take us on a different road. To name a few, we lived in Sweden for a year, trekked through Siberia for a month on a train, and lived on a World War 2 ship for fourteen months. I’ll share more about those travels later.
Since our retirement, let me share one road with you about combining volunteering with traveling.
It was a sunny day in May in 2015. I was having breakfast at The Old Mill Café on Main Street with my good friend, (Iron) Mary. In the course of our conversation, she casually said, “If you know anyone who wants to buy a 1987 Mallard Sprinter 35-foot motor home for $5,000, let me know. It’s in great condition.” I nodded my head and didn’t think anything else about it. Later that evening when I mentioned this to Rob after dinner, he instantly perked up.
You see, my husband Rob and I are “Retired-Extremely-Daring”. After so many hours of sitting in our cozy living room watching our favorite TV travel channel, or playing a hot game of Tile Rummy, we start getting restless. So, I should have known better than to mention the motor home to him.
We enjoy taking local road trips, so the next day we rode out to the countryside and met the original owners, a sweet elderly couple, that was selling their 1987 home-on-wheels. They led us to a large metal utility building with roll-up doors in the back of their house where their prize possession sat. “She is in great shape,” Rob whispered.
When we opened the door and entered the tiny living area, I could see Rob’s wheels turning. My own wheels were spinning. I observed small, yet cozy. Old, but very well kept. Clean beige carpet. A blue sofa on the left, and two small blue velvet swivel chairs on the right. Beige tiles on the tiny kitchen floor. “Those dark wood cabinets could us a coat of white paint to bring a vintage shabby chic look to this little place,” I mentioned to the sweet lady.
Her eyes widened. “Oh no, honey, you can’t do that! I come out here every month and oil these to this beautiful shine.” Once again I reminded myself not to verbalize my thoughts.
The bathroom is unique, I thought. I stood in the narrow hallway. To my right was a door that opened to a small step-in shower, equipped with a yellow shower curtain. To my left, I opened a small door to find a sink, and a toilet. “To sit on the toilet, you literally have to back in, then close the door,” I told Rob. He chuckled. “That’s pretty cool. We can brush our teeth while sitting on the throne.”
In the rear of the RV was a small bedroom. Did I mention that everything seemed small? Hmm, also two small twin beds. That’ll be a deal breaker for Rob, I thought. Funny, how we think we know our mates.
We had a nice conversation with the sweet couple and on the way home we had our own conversation.
“How can we justify buying the old gal?” Rob asked.
“It would be fun to tour the South Carolina state parks. But what about those twin beds?” I asked.
He smiled. “We can meet in the middle.”
It was settled. We bought the motor home. Then I came up with another brilliant idea. “Instead of driving our car to Missouri next week, lets drive the motor home.”
“That would be nice, but we have too many logistics to take care of first … insurance, license …” Rob answered. Oh yes, logistics. I forgot all about the cumbersome paperwork that comes with big-time purchases.
We picked up our home-on-wheels as soon as we arrived home from our already-planned trip to visit son Shawn in Springfield. While Moon River—her new name—was having a basic tune-up, we shopped for necessities to give her a cozy vintage flair … kitchen supplies, towels, throw rugs, throw pillows, and sheets, pillows and bedspreads for the twin beds.
“What Now?” I asked. Rob had been doing his homework. “Now we shall travel an hour north to Dreher Island State Park for our first trial run.”
Then came June when nature took its unpredictable turn.
The Wimberley Texas flood hit with a vengeance. I spent the morning watching the TV news in horror as a house with a mother and son floated downstream in the overflowing river, bringing them to their death. Thousands of houses flooded, leaving hundreds of people of all ages homeless.
Rob came home then sat glued to the TV until the phone rang from the kitchen. Our friend David called. They talked for an hour. After hanging up, Rob walked into the living room with a solemn look on his face.
“We have our answer to why we bought the RV.”
“Our answer?” I asked, a little confused.
“David called to inform us that Wimberley, Texas needs first-response organizations to help restore hundreds of homes as soon as possible.”
Rob smiled. “We’re going to be volunteers with Christ In Action.”
“Are we going to Wimberley?” I asked.
I took a deep breath. “When?”
“Tomorrow … in our cozy little motor home,” Rob added.
And away we drove, as first-time volunteers with first-response organization Christ In Action, driving our little home-on-wheels across country for the first time, not knowing what the coming days held.
Once again I was learning why God doesn’t always let us know what lies ahead around the bend.