What makes a perfect day on an RV trip? I don't know about you, but for Jennifer and me it is a day doing what you want, on no particular timetable and blessed by surprises.
We travel serendipity style. In fact we're doing a seminar on just that next week at the big Family Motorcoach Family Reunion in Perry, GA. It's how, other than a vague idea of where we want to be come the end of the day, we just sort of let our RV days unfold.
Today started with church. We are down in Destin, FL – one of our most favorite destinations. So, it being Sunday morning and all, we drove the Roadtrek a half mile down US-98 from our spot at Camp Gulf and pulled into the parking lot of the Destiny Worship Center. We got out, started locking the doors and found ourselves talking to a man on a golf cart, who pulled up to offer us a ride to the worship center.
He was all smiles, very friendly and impressed by our Roadtrek. “That's a beautiful rig” he said. “Do you two live in it?”
We get that question a lot and I started to answer. The man looked familiar. He sounded familiar, too. He was all alone, dressed casually in jeans and a yellow safety vest designating him a church volunteer.
I didn't have to wonder long where I knew him from. The voice was the dead giveaway. It was former Arkansas Gov. and recent GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Gov. Huckabee now lives in the Destin area and, most every Sunday, he can be found schlepping folks from the vast parking lot to the church door.
He was interested in our Roadtreking lifestyle. He saw the front license plate on my Roadtrek that says “a Journalist Discovers RVing” and asked about my background. He delighted in knowing that the once cynical investigative reporter known as
“Bad News Wendland” was now traveling the country telling Good News stories. We exchanged pleasantries for a couple of minutes, then he dropped us at the front door.
What surprised me most was an hour and a half later, as the service ended and some 1,200 people were making their way back to their cars. He passed by us as we were leaving. He was hauling some more folks to the worship service to attend the next service. “Bye Mike,” he said with a wave.
Wow. I am impressed. That is some kind of name recall. Gov. Huckabee was one of those great serendipity minutes.
We went from church to a nearby Gold's Gym. Camp Gulf gives its guests free passes to the gym, so we spent an hour there, changing from church clothes to workout clothes in the Roadtrek in the parking lot. After the workout, we returned to the Roadtrek and, still in the gym parking lot, pulled out our NutriBullet and made a protein smoothie with fresh strawberries. Lunch.
Then we headed to our favorite beach – the Gulf Shores National Seashore.
I set up my amateur radio station on the beach, using a special receptacle that fits in the Roadtrek's bumper hitch to hold a telescoping mast that extends 40-feet. I attached a wire dipole at the top for an antenna system. In about two hours, I worked 115 stations from across the country, 35 states in all, including Alaska. This is all part of a year-long promotion by the National Parks Service and the Amateur Radio Relay League – the nation's largest amateur radio organization. Like many amateurs, I'm operating by portable ham station from as many NPS sites as possible this year, drawing attention to the park service's 100th anniversary in an ongoing event called National Parks On the Air..
This is my third such activation this year, the first one being on New Year's Day along Lake Michigan, the other on a snow-covered wilderness trail in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in mid-Janary. The weather for this one though, was perfect. The temperature was in the md-seventies and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I operated right on the sand outside my Roadtrek, just a few dozen yards from the Emerald Coast of Florida's panhandle.
I plan to activate a lot more NPS sites this year as we travel across North America.
We hung around the beach there until sunset, then made our way back to Camp Gulf.
Back at camp, we grilled steak-kabobs and had fresh Florida strawberries for desert on the picnic table at the campsite.
A perfect day. No hassle. No timetable. Lots of fun.
See why we love this lifestyle?