We have been back in Florida for a few weeks now, driveway camping at my sister Anne’s as usual. My father is two blocks away in a suite in my other sister’s house, my other other sister is a couple of miles away, my other other other sister (I have too many sisters) is also in town, and my brother and his wife are about six blocks away. It’s a great opportunity to get reconnected with family after spending spring, summer and fall on the road. We’ve been doing this since we started fulltiming in 2010 – spend the dead of winter in Florida with family, doing whatever repairs are necessary on the Roadtrek, the family cars which have been languishing without a resident mechanic since February or March, and my sister’s house.
Nobody in my family ever buys a new car. They’re perfectly content to drive ancient clunkers, because they believe in the repair fairy, who shows up with parts and tools and fixes their cars whenever something unfortunate happens. If you believed in the repair fairy, you wouldn’t buy a new car, either. So far, the 18 year old Saturn my sister refuses to part with has benefited from a new wheel bearing, half shaft and wheel hub, and now I’m chasing down a cold start surge on the 20 year old Crown Vic. I keep telling these people I’m retired, but it does no good – once a mechanic, always a mechanic. In twenty years they’ll be pushing me out there in a wheelchair to work on these cars.
I shouldn’t complain, though – despite the workload, this is a nice place to stay. My sister got her electrician buddies to install a 30 amp RV electrical hookup on the outside of the house where we park, there’s a sewer cleanout next to it we can dump our wastewater in, and ten feet on the other side and within hose reach is a city water tap. All I need is a campsite number marker and I’d feel right at home. And it’s all nine blocks from the beach. Beautiful weather, you can hear the surf on quiet nights, home cooking, and lots of good company to play with the grandnieces and nephews, talk about this year’s adventures on the road, and get caught up on all the family shenanigans. We could get used to this.
Fiona is definitely getting used to this – as we got close she got up on the dash and started meowing like she did back when we took her on vacation before I retired, and we still lived in a house. She knows the smell of places. She insists of going inside multiple times each day to glower at the resident dog and demand drinks out of the bathroom sink faucet. Sometimes she just likes to watch the water go down the sink drain – she’s watch it for minutes at a time. Alas, I won’t run the water for her like this is in the Roadtrek when we have limited fresh water, so she enjoys it when she can. I think she’s angling for a position as house kitty – I must have failed to meet her needs somehow during our travels.
Sharon and I are still living in our Roadtrek,of course, but we like “visiting” my sister’s house. We both enjoy the long hot showers – my sister has both a regular inside shower plus an outside shower, currently overgrown with flowering morning glory vines. In a couple more months the jasmine all over the trellis there will bloom, and it smells heavenly. I am currently working my way through the list of Sharon’s favorite foods which are easier to cook in a sticks and bricks kitchen than in a Roadtrek – apple pies, chocolate cake, macaroni and cheese, baked ziti, roasts, ribs, etc., etc. – I’ve gained eight pounds already. I also cook food for my father, who is slowly recouping the investment he made in having six children by having them around to pitch in to assist in his senior years, and I’m only here a few months of the year so I load him up with his favorites. This sticks and bricks life has its advantages.
I confess, I’m showing signs of domestication. I take the garbage cans out to the curb every Monday and Thursday. I know what time the mailman gets here. I mow the grass, and worry about sandspurs (Florida crabgrass for you Yankees). My sister thoughtfully bought a push mower to save me the task of fixing her ten year old gas mower every time I needed to use it. Thoughtful of her, no? I even string the outdoor Christmas lights. I chat up the neighbors as they pass by walking their dogs. I even walk my sister’s dog, with Fiona glowering at me from her window perch. Maybe we’ll settle down one day.
But after a few months of this, when the weather starts to warm and the azaleas bloom, we hear the call of the open road, say our goodbyes, and are off again touring the continent until the next Thanksgiving. Just because we can. Our health is still good, we have nothing better to do, we have a thirst for new adventures in places we have never seen before, and we’re having the time of our lives doing it. One day we won’t be able to travel like this anymore, and we don’t know when that day will come. Might as well go for it while the opportunity is still here.