To Mayberry, Part 2 and three quarters

So this blog post comes to you from the road somewhere on I77.  As a bit of a recap we left Florida successfully, though I can’t tell you when because it feels like 7 years ago.  We stayed a night in the lovely Starke, FL and did have the excellent opportunity to visit the Walmart Supercenter.  I found a number of items not carried in the Walmarts of Tampa Bay, like deer salt bricks, a massive selection of camouflage everything and gator gear galore.  Though we were really in the market for something to appease one of our cats, like maybe kitty whiskey.  Unfortunately Walmart didn’t have such a product, oh well.  It was a nice opportunity to demonstrate babywearing to the good people of Starke, they were clearly seeing it for the first time. 🙂 I was glad to set out of Starke and despite lots of cat howling and intermittent Levi howling we made it to the cutest little RV Park in South Carolina called, Camp Lake Jasper.  You know it’s going to be a good park when the website looks like it was made recently.  Guys, we went outside and didn’t sweat, for like an hour! It was so great.  Levi found some sand and a curb and was pumped to move the sand from the pavement to the grass for about an hour.  Sounds like heaven to me.  We went on a little hike and didn’t even get bit by mosquitos, unheard of.  And except for the fact that I couldn’t get almost any cell reception whatsoever it was pretty perfect there.  I’d definitely go back.

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But push on we must. So we set out with (the same two episodes of ) Daniel Tiger, a complacent cat, a hard punk rock hollering cat, our son and our still intact house.  Geoff and I have been sharing the driving pretty much half and half.  He does the hitching and the last leg of driving and the parking and I do the pulling out and the first leg of driving.  Between bumps in the highway Geoff attempts to write some code and I’ve been memorizing the lyrics to all the Daniel Tigers.  It’s not as cool as memorizing the Fresh Prince of Belair opening lyrics but sometimes it’s more useful in trying situations, you know.  All in all it’s been pretty good, though on a few locations I had to work hard at not wanting to ‘put on’ anger (like massive amounts of anger) at our howling cat.  Still working out the kinks, we’ll get there.

But I must leave you now as we are nearing our next RV park.  Hope you are enjoying whatever weather you are planted in and apparently Geoff tells me there might be a hurricane coming.  Hmmm well we have space on the couch if you need to evacuate.  I’ll pray for you and we’d clearly appreciate your prayers, especially for MacGyver.

How MacGyver prefers to ride
How MacGyver prefers to ride

From the road,

Big Rig Rose

 

p.s.: Due to not posting this earlier, I can let you know, we made it!

To Mayberry, Part 1 of 4

So we are finally going to go somewhere other than having our RV serviced, Lord willing!!

Our first stop is a brisk 3 hours to Starke, FL.  I know it’s probably a very busy place with lots to do how will we ever fit it into one day?  Well it’s true we are only going to stay for one day and I’m not going to lie I’m pretty pumped we booked pull-thrus.  For you non-RVers that means we don’t have to back into our spot at the next several campgrounds because we can just pull straight into the spot and pull out of it in the morning when we are ready to roll again.  I think getting the RV in just the right spot is the hardest part of RVing (so far). I’m still getting used to the hitched/trailer aspect of our RV, I’m more accustomed to the motorhome feel of parking a big vehicle, but hopefully that will get easier as we go.

On a side note, there is a lot of humility necessary in parking both the truck and the RV.  Do you know how hard it is to get the truck into regular parking spots? Like when I went to the mall the other day and it started to rain a whole lot- your insides want you to park close to the mall and your head is all like, you have to park far away so you can take up a bunch of parking spaces and not be so rude.  I think the truck needs two regular spaces and sometimes four to park comfortably/well.  Really? 4 spaces? Yes people. It’s big.  I went to the doctor’s office today and almost made it into one spot! I was so excited and then I looked in my mirror and realized one (of my 6 tires) was hanging over the line. Bummer. And double bummer there was a dude sitting in his SUV diagonally across from me (watching) so in order to get inside the line I would have to back in and out probably another 6 times.  Today I wasn’t as humble as I could have been, I caved and called it good enough and got my sleeping child out of the truck and left the one tire hanging out there till we finished with our check up.

It’s a very similar situation with the RV only bigger and more sweat involved when parking.  So pull thru’s- YAY! So we are staying at a KOA and I’m very interested to see this Kampgrounds of America (KOA)  because they are kind of pricey and supposedly very kid friendly.  I’m hoping the hype is accurate 🙂

I’m not sure what the internet situation will be or how four days in a row of traveling will go so we’ll see how much real time blogging happens.  But the plan is to go from Tampa, FL to Starke, FL to Hardeeville, South Carolina to Fort Mill, North Carolina to Mt. Airy, North Carolina.

Something old, something new
In case you forgot how big the truck is.

Also we did big a fond farewell to my favorite sweet Scion yesterday (pictured above).  She’s on to her next adventure too.  🙂

Pray for us!

Big Rig Rose

It is well with my soul, mostly

So we are back in Big Al the Chaparral after an exciting weekend, for me it was my first time traveling a long distance towing Big Al.  Surprisingly, it was really no more challenging than driving the truck, except you know when I tried to pull into the RV park and forgot to check to see what I might run aground on.  But with some tips from Geoff and a helpful bystander we got through the gate and into our spot on Saturday!  And we are generally unpacked and settled again.  We are really hoping to live in Big Al for more than 6 days this time but we really don’t have that many more days before our planned departure date so we’ll see what happens :).

This is the part of the post where I tell you this is our last full week in the area.  We are planning on leaving next Wednesday.  This is also the part of our adventure that requires more tissues than I would like to need or use.

So maybe we’ll find less itchy country and maybe not.  If not, maybe we’ll come back and you’ll have to throw us a welcome home party too.

Regardless, I feel like the Lord’s up to something.  Since I’ve been sharing our lives in this blog I feel like I can see the hand of God working in our lives quite a bit more clearly.  Even in this last bout with no air conditioning and moving out of the (brand new) RV again and needing to go to Lakeland again to have the repair work done, God was there.  He orchestrated friends stepping up to take us in (and bear with us and our early riser son), he had friends care for our cats, he allowed the work to be completed on the RV in record time, he made it so Geoff only experienced a minor work interference, he helped us to feel more comfortable towing the RV in areas we had driven before, we each successfully hitched the RV, he sent us some specific mercy in parenting helps, he reminded us how much we love big families (or at least living with them), and he returned us to a fully working AC that can even withstand the FL heat! Phew, God is busy!

If we are honest last year at this time we were kind of full up on Florida.  We were nursing some negative feelings about whether we had made any/many real friendships, whether we would ever be able to go outside again (and not melt or drop down dead from itching), etc.  But this long process of praying, deciding and preparing to move has helped us realize many of the realities to these untrue questions.  And so it makes it doubly hard to leave.  It makes you wonder how you’ll ever get by without these people.  But it’s okay because we are taking God with us and that’s enough (whether we always know it or not).

So you can pray for us, that God would strengthen our faith, marriage and family.  Pray that we would recognize opportunities to meet people we would not otherwise know and instead of being self absorbed we would live each day as a ministry, looking for every opening to share the gospel, to demonstrate hospitality and to become more like Christ.  It’s a lofty prayer, but I serve a mighty God.

Catch us while you can,

Big Rig Rose

Practice makes perfect (or at least less bad)

So quick recap, we successfully closed on our Sticks and Bricks house a week and a half ago! We moved back into the RV last Saturday and the cats made a successful transition (it was the first time they had seen the RV).  We spent another good shakedown week (shakedown=find the problems while you still have friends/family and your RV dealer close by) in the RV.

So that brings us to yesterday, a sweet and FULL day! We started off the morning with a call to our favorite RV dealer and service friends to discuss our rapidly deteriorating AC situation.  We had been scheduled to bring Big Al the Chaparral (<–possible name for the RV?) in for service next Monday for that minor leak problem I mentioned in my last post but then it became clear that the AC for the main living section is not cooling the way it should (read: we are freezing out the unit, ice chips snowing down on inside and it regularly reaches temps between 81 and 86 degrees).  SO, they were able to bump up our appointment 6 days.  But that does mean we have to move out of Big Al for the time it takes them to fix the items on the list.  So our cats are going to D&D’s again but we are going to spread out the burden of our presence on another Bed and Breakfast (aka family) this week so D&D don’t grow too weary of us :).  We might be making future reservations at your house, so let us know if you have vacancies 🙂 (mostly kidding)..(hopefully kidding).

And then! We got to pull Big Al out of the mud and get her on the road (is big Al a girl? I don’t know but it could be short for Ali or Alice, it seems weird to call it a ‘him’, anyway back to the sentence).  To quote the Little Blue Truck book, she was “sunk down deep in muck and mire” from all the rain we’ve had and all the mud that quickly followed.  So with the excellent farm hands of Mr. Mike T, he coached us through hitching up Big Al to the White Stallion (<–maybe the name for the truck?) for the first time! Geoff took the first crack at hitching and towing while I was test running some iPad scenarios to keep Levi engaged and not screaming his face off while we were trying to concentrate.  So we got her on the road and did some wheelies in the parking lot of the Tampa Bay Downs.

Me, Levi, and slightly hidden are Bailey & Macgyver
Me, Levi, and slightly hidden are Bailey & Macgyver

And then! we brought her back home and the lovely staff at our new RV park offered for us to switch spots because of all the muck and mire in our last spot.  They even let us pick which spot we wanted! So we backed her in (and backed her in, and backed her in, there was some adjusting, hence the title of this post, but you get the idea) and set her up.  You guys, it’s SO BEAUTIFUL! We are on the river. All our big windows are full of water views and green grass and trees.  God spoiled us.  See for yourself.

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It was an encouraging day which I think we kind of needed as it’s been a busy (grueling) few weeks and probably a few more busy ones to follow.  All in all, this is a pretty great way to live, so far.  I’d say we are growing as we are adjusting, but if you know anything about spiritual growth I’m sure you’ll agree that it is often grown through seasons of toil, for me that’s meant coming face to face with the ugliness of my sin and being willing to admit it, ask forgiveness (this step is sometimes the hardest for me!) and hopefully do so with less passionate Italian speaking (but let’s be honest, that’s still an issue).  But it’s all God’s best for me and it’s the main pursuit of our lives, to grow in godliness, enjoy God and glorify Him.

The view
The view

So how are you doing with your spiritual growth? And encouragement? Don’t forget, if you’re his child, he’s not finished with you yet! And as my wise friend Danielle says, repentance is a good thing. (She makes a bit of emotional emphasis on the word good, so you’ll have to add that yourself as you read it, they only give me italics and that doesn’t quite cover the reassuring nature of how she pronounces ‘good’, but you know what I mean.)

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Keep on truckin’

-Big Rig Rose

 

Picking a Spot to Park

EDIT: I wrote this post last week but didn’t want to overload you with blog posts. I didn’t mention names of parks but read all the way to the end, you’ll never believe this!

It seems to me that the type of location an RVer chooses to park their home can have a certain degree of impact on their daily life.  I’m not sure exactly what degree of impact that is yet but I can get back to you.  I have almost no experience looking, choosing or sizing up RV parks/resorts/campgrounds etc.  But when I see it, I can tell you, yes please or no, no thank you.  Since we have a few RV parks locally we have driven through the ones that aren’t gated.  And boy is there some variation.

The last park we stayed at (for 6 whole days) was not terrible.  The lots were spacious (for an RV park).  The monthly rate was super affordable- it is Florida in the summer, you know.  The lady who took my reservation was very friendly.  And it wasn’t very far from all our friends.  It also wasn’t very far from the beach, but we didn’t make it there during our stay.  There are three RV parks almost on top of each other over there not far from Honeymoon Island.  Two of them are neck and neck as far as what they offer and one of them is a definite NO.  But at the park we stayed at there were quite a few “park models” as they are called, also known as, mobile homes (you know like single wides) .  Some of them were what I would refer to as manufactured homes (these ones are cute and nice) and some of them were your average corrugated aluminum mobile homes.  Sometimes there is a nice body of water as there was in the park we stayed at and sometimes there’s a pool, playground, and other such amenities.  For our first experience, I’d say the park we were at was a good first step.  But since there were so many full time people living in park models, a bit of the RV community essence was lacking, if you ask me.

Although I haven’t really had exposure to this RV community I’m told it’s very reminiscent of the 1950’s.  Lots of friendliness and help and kindness from strangers.  I’m not even sure that appropriately describes the 1950’s but hey, I was born in the 80’s, go with it.  So since we had to send our home back to our beloved salesman and servicemen we decided to pick a new RV park to gain a bit more experience with the process of picking.

The technology involved in choosing an RV park is sometimes a bit antiquated.  Picture websites from the early 1990s.  With a count of how many visitors to the website at the bottom and everything.  There are some larger searching websites but I haven’t’ found the Amazon of RV Park booking yet.  You know, Amazon is where all the good reviews are and where you can find the best prices (well sometimes) and the website itself doesn’t hurt your eyes to look at.

I also think there’s probably a lingo involved.  Like that time I met Geoff while internet dating.  There were code words men used like “laid back” and I think the same thing is happening with the RV parks’ descriptions of their sites.  I’m pretty sure some of those RV parks should stop using the word “spacious”.  Like only use it, if I think it’s really spacious.  Otherwise when I get there I might heartily disagree with your assessment of spacious.  Ok well, what I’m saying is, I think this is going to involve a bit of a learning curve.  You don’t know what you don’t know until you finally do know.  So for now we are just going to get more park experience.

TODAY: You guys. We were staying at Sherwood RV Resort.  You know the one that was on TV for FLOODING! See here and here.  The “definite NO” I referenced in my post was the one across the street also listed in the news articles, Caladesi Island RV Park.   Do you see how God worked here?  We were parked just in the middle of where those 4 to 5 feet of water would have been two weeks ago.  We paid for the whole month of August.  But we didn’t return there.  God orchestrated each event (which may have at times felt frustrating or troubling- like having to pay a high fee for a mobile RV tech to come, etc) to keep us out of this situation.  The park we are now in – in Tampa- definitely had high waters today.  It was up to my shins by the edge of my car when we decided to switch the small car to higher ground and move the truck to the lower ground.  But we were safe.  I was even up at 4:45am with Levi and I heard when the storm started.  I just can’t get over how we were RIGHT there.

Our new site
Our new site

Tonight as we were trying to get our files in better order we discovered a small amount of water on a box and 2 paper towel rolls that I had stored in the back of a cabinet.  Geoff and I looked at each other feeling a bit despondent.  Because water in an RV is deadly.  You want to avoid it at all costs.  It’s expensive to fix and usually you don’t know about it till it’s too late.  But as we were organizing our books and trying to cram all our books on one shelf I suggested Geoff put some bibles down in a lower compartment and that’s when we found that a box of bibles and information had gotten a bit wet.  We then checked out the other compartments and found one more with the paper towels that was wet too.  So we knew we’d have to call our favorite service folks at our RV retailer again tomorrow and it might mean not having our house to live in while they figure out if we have a leak down the side of the wall or not.  I was trying to remind myself that finding the water was a blessing.  But still I was kind of sad.  Then this news about the RV park.  Wow.  Talk about perspective, it’s like the difference between all the water in the ocean and a small mist from a squirt bottle.  So when you are tempted to lose hope, remember the God of the universe is a Mighty God and if you are his child he’s working for your good, no matter how it might look to you at any given moment.

What a powerful reminder.

I didn't take pictures while the water was rising, but here's our grateful humble mud aftermath.
I didn’t take pictures while the water was rising, but here’s our grateful humble mud aftermath.

-Big Rig Rose

Urgency!

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Do you ever feel a sense of urgency? Well I don’t know about you but my urgency usually is the first step to verbal inappropriateness- you know, like anger, disrespect, impatience, careless words, wrong thoughts, thinking the worst of others, do you need more? (because I’m sure I could come up with more, but I’ll stop there).

My urgency comes out of my heart and mouth when I think I’m not being heard (sometimes because I literally wasn’t heard and have to repeat myself), when I feel action is critical and I’m asking for someone to quick! jump in and help, or when my inside passionate thoughts come out and become passionate words.  Oh that last one, is such a long lasting habit.  How long have I been speaking passionately? Mom? Like a long time.  You know, it’s funny to say, oh see, I’m Italian, we are a passionate people.  But that’s a terrible excuse.  Saying I’m ‘speaking passionately’ is a lazy way of me saying, “I care a lot about this thing and since I care so much I just lost all self control and let the volume of my voice and the speed of my words get far too cranked up.” See it’s faster to say I’m “speaking passionately”.  But it’s a nifty label for an ugly thing.

So how do I undo my passion?  With any sin problem you are probably better off finding the root of the problem than just the end behavior.  Brian Hedges in his book, Licensed to Kill says, If we want to kill sin, we must aim at the right target.  That target is not merely bad behavior but the sinful desires of the heart that produce the behavior.  Mortifying sin will certainly bring about changes in what we say and do, but we need more than external reformation.  Many people change their behavior without changing their heart to any significant degree.  But Jesus is concerned about the root and motivation of sinful behavior- our drives and desires- not simply the behavior itself. ”

I speak passionately because I think I’m right and I feel urgency because I want things to be my way.  Those friends are alternative words ways to describe pride.  But am I right? Am I in control? Nope.  Jesus is the Lord of my life and if I’m trying to do things my way and not his way, I’m walking on my own path and not the path of righteousness.  I’m desiring to be King of my Kingdom of one.  Ouf, that’s dangerous.  My need to be right and in control is a wrong drive and desire, that’s what needs to change.  Those desires have been allowed to grow in me for a long time so I’m going to have to roll up my sleeves,  get out the sword of the spirit and get praying.  You can keep me accountable, just be gentle friends, there’s lots of weeds to find.

So, did you just write a whole post about non-RVing? Well yeah, but I’ll leave you with this.  You remember last week when I said God evaporated every Dodge Ram in our area?  Well today I read that there is a MASSIVE recall/buyback on 2009 to 2012 Rams because “the pickups have defective steering parts that can cause drivers to lose control. Some previous repairs have been unsuccessful, so Fiat Chrysler agreed to the buyback”.  And all this was announced yesterday.  Geez, God, I think you are better at being in control.  I’ll let you take it from here.  If you are a Ram owner here’s the link to the article I quoted above.  LINK

Well how about you? What causes you to lose self control? Have you traced it back to it’s roots? I love talking through sin, so you know, if you need a sounding board, I’m here for you.

Off to D&D’s B&B today.  🙂 Hope the truck fits in their driveway!

-Big Rig Rose

On dying to self and other things :)

Well, this week included great highs and tough low points.  Those lows and highs also follow when I was wallowing in sin (like anger and greediness) and when I was obedient (in generosity and focused on Christ).  There was a bit of an issue with the appraisal on our house.  First there was quite a bit of waiting, which you know I can wait ok, but sometimes it starts to wear on me.  Then the appraisal came back, but the appraiser felt our in-law house shouldn’t be counted in the appraisal because it wasn’t attached to the main house.  So the appraisal was lower than the asking price.  That’s always kind of a bummer.  But God was merciful because it was only $5,000 lower, not $25,000 lower.

So began a two day process demonstrating once again that anger and greediness still hold a place in my heart.  And that dying to self is SO HARD!  By day two I felt like: go ahead, just take it, the house, my money (really God’s), it’s fine, just take it.  While that’s less mad thinking, it’s also not very Christ-like.  Baby steps, friends, baby steps.  But once the wound was stitched up and we had settled on a new price, God stitched me back up too.

Our long visit with Nonni came to an end and we had to say goodbye when she went home on Thursday.  But we did get to have a nice visit with Grandma and Grandpa as they came to help with our “Estate Sale”.  I think it’s funny to watch our parents play with our child.  I can’t recall the last time I’d seen my parents get down and play on the floor, before giving birth.  It’s fun to see them interact with Levi and make him laugh.

Our estate sale was a funny thing.  I thought Geoff said to me a few weeks ago, let’s have an estate sale.  And so I got about figuring out the timing and how we might be able to have it.  Then as we got closer I was concerned about how we would be able to man the sale with Levi and only the two of us (on Saturday).  As I talked to Geoff, it became apparent that he thought I wanted to have the estate sale and I thought he wanted to have it and neither of us actually enjoys selling our stuff.  So we were happy to just give it away.  You need a lot fewer people to come to your sale when you are asking $0 for your stuff.  It’s been nice to feel like there is a nice new home for your beloved items.  So now we are just down to a small pile of stuff (hint, hint, do your part and come take our stuff).  And it’s always fun to mix things up and put your bed on the floor or use a moving box for an end table.  Levi loves when I move his toys all over the house so he’s really into this stage.  Yesterday someone was packing up some stuff to take and he started shoving more stuff in their bag, good man he is!

Is that bunting? Yes, friends it is.
Is that bunting? Yes, friends it is.

The RV is mostly ready but they are awaiting the delivery on a toilet part and clearance to get a new awning.  So that means we get to go for an annual vacation at D&D’s Bed and Breakfast (that’s code because my husband said I shouldn’t name them specifically on the internet) 🙂 who lovingly accept us and our cats.  Being cat owners ruin us every time with local allergy friends.

Last time we went to stay at their house we took a number of trips back and forth filling up the minivan to the brim.  HOPEFULLY we have less stuff to bring over there this time, but I’m sure it will be more than is appropriate to bring to your friends house for less than a week’s stay.

After that the rough plan is to move back into the RV next weekend, get a bit more comfortable with the unhitching and setting up process and try out a new RV park.  Ok this one is officially in Tampa, but it’s not really that far away guys so don’t be all like, “Tampa’s so far away”.  You can still come see it, it’s only 18 minutes from church.  Die to self, ok? 🙂

Well I hope you had a triumphant week and if not there is always 1 John 1:9.  🙂

I have a new sign off thanks to Chris S (I’ve edited out his name to protect the innocent). (see below)

-Big Rig Rose