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June 15, 2011

I’m a “Baby Boomer.”  I have long teeth and even longer memories of a simpler, freer,  United States of America. It’s these memories, and a desire for a deeper connection with loved ones,  that motivated us to simplify our lives; that is, to sell our home, possessions, and hunker down to a 24 foot motor home. In essence, we have declared our independence.

Our Declaration of Independence, 2011:

Given that we want to decrease the ways we’re impacted by governmental direction, and decrease the time and resources required to maintain a house, and given that we want to increase our freedom, and increase the time we spend with loved ones around the country…

We have sold most (virtually all) of our possessions, including our home, and purchased the motor home we think works best for us. Thus, we declare ourselves official members of the full time RVing community. We’re delighted and quite pleased with ourselves.

However, my beautiful grown-up girl frets, ” But Mom, what if you regret selling everything and moving into an RV?”

“Well, then, darling…we’ll adjust accordingly.”

Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll change our minds, get a tiny home base, and morph into snowbirds. Or maybe not. We’ll live the full time RV life for a year or so, and then assess things. But we won’t know how we feel or what we’ll learn unless we step out in faith, and embrace our belief that there truly is more than one way of doing things (and yes, some of our friends think we have “lost it”).

We’re thrilled with our increased freedom, our ability to connect more deeply with those we love, and our scaled down standard of living. Oh, and about that…I’ll let you know if, or how much, square footage correlates with contentment!

My husband and I declare we can live, love, give, serve, and work from a home on wheels as joyfully as we did from a home on soil, and with fewer entangling alliances.

What about you, Dear Reader? Is there a Declaration of Independence in your future? If so, what might you declare ? I’d like to hear what you have to say. I hope you enjoy the upcoming blog series on full time Freewheeling, and

Happy tales to you and yours,

Patti

Some of you  knew we were going to sell the whole enchilada (house, etc.), downsize to a postage stamp, live full time in an RV, and have asked me what happened to that plan. You may not be remotely surprised to learn we’ve changed our plans… because you do it, too. That’s us…the Flying Faustini’s.  I’ll skip the myriad permutations under which our RV plans have gone in the past few months;  I’m sure your own life is infinitely more fascinating to you. Instead, I’ll just tell you about today. For isn’t today all we really have?

 We decided we love our home in Prescott, Arizona too much to let it go (can’t beat four seasons light) so we’re keeping it as a base.  Because we miss our friends and family in Whitefish, Montana  beyond measure ,  we’ve decided (like the zillions of pioneers before us) to become official birds of snow…Snowbirdius Americanus. I know, I know.  I recently wrote about how we sold and gave away a ton of stuff in preparation for full time RV living. Do I regret it? How loud can I say “NO!”  The only question I ask myself is, “What was all that stuff we let go?” I can’t even remember (my husband can, however…he calls it “tools”).  I’m happy knowing others are happy having my stuff. Our home is much lovelier and far more orderly  with literally half the contents gone.

You might take a look around your own home. Can you picture the change if you got rid of acres of doo dads, duplications of Wal-Mart whatevers,  and general layers of stuff ? What I found amazing is our  home still retains its great personality and intimate influences of loved ones near and far. Get your home ready to put on the market;  you’ll see how good it can really look.

 So, we’re not full timing;  we’re snowbirding. We have awesome options for docking the RV once we get to Whitefish, Montana  and I’ll let you in on some of those secret Big Sky places once we arrive.  Our RV won’t be very crowded, as it’ll just be the two of us, and we think we’re quite wonderful.  Summer will find our 16 year old cruising the entire USA with his sister and her family in a Bluebird bus. It’s an incredible adventure story focused on organic farms across the USA, and guaranteed to be worth following.   http://bit.ly/i8TYST  Nicole’s book on self-sufficiency alone is worth checking out, especially if you think someone may run our country into a ditch and that the bad guys could start running the show.  http://bit.ly/fG0qQK  I, personally, don’t think that’ll happen, but due to my faith, family, and  stored crates of dehydrated food and canned water up the yin yang, it’s all good with me. Note: please skip any comments about whether it’s “yin yang” or “ying yang.” I read the debate and am going with my ear and my Ohio roots.

Early summer will find us heading north through Utah, Idaho and Montana. You’ll see lots of photos, that’s for sure. There is, officially, no place like the Flathead Valley of northwest Montana in the summer; 45 minutes from Glacier Park. What’s not to love?I’d get a kick out of hearing your Utah, Idaho or Montana stories. I hope you write back so we can all get involved with them.

Happy Tales to you and yours,

Patti

 We (briefly) contemplated buying a Forest River rpod travel trailer over the weekend. http://bit.ly/dnHnfG

For those of you who haven’t channeled your inner tear drop lately, the rpod is a tiny, cool, self-contained trailer shaped like a tear drop. Now, the more observant among  you may have noted the word “pod” after the  “r.”  How could they do that to us?  Who, in the 21st century, would torture the RVing public by  naming something with yet another “pod” in it? Don’t they have focus groups to check that stuff out ? And if they do, would someone invite me to be in one? 

If you don’t believe it’s tough keeping  all these virtually identical names straight, talk to our poor  RV guy. I kept saying things like, “How big is the blackwater tank in this rpad ?” and “Does this iPad have AC?” and “Do these Rphones leak in storms?” I don’t think I even once called the thing by its correct name:  rpod.   The rep seemed confused by my confusion;  a state well recognized by anyone nearby who loved me enough to marry me.

Sometimes all  these gizmos with their interchangeable names make me long to wake up in a dank, smoky cave where  gnawing the marrow out of a  mastodon brunch would be considered a technological achievement. And what, may you ask, caused all this reflection about goof ball tech names?  It was a a tent.

We just bought a 10 man Coleman Weather Master tent. http://amzn.to/gdPLgL (note: we got ours at Costco for about fifty bucks less).  Yup…’member tents? Those (mostly) simple things powered by parents and any kids old enough to stake them (the tents, not the parents).  Those things you position so you can watch dying embers well into the night? Those things you sit camp chairs in front of so you can  dodge smoke? I remember tents well;  before I became a techno-geek; back when I thought a book was something with two sides that had a bunch of pages sewn in between them; back when I though blackwater was something sung by Credence Clearwater Survival. Allow me to wax nostalgic while I  chose to forget the downsides of tents.

We’re going to stake a giant tent  beside our travel trailer this summer to act as a “bonus room.” I’ll let you know how that goes. There could be stories.  I think I’ll love our tent, and deep in my whiny heart, I love technology even when I hate it. I work, play, stay in touch using my tech toys. They’re  like a herd of puppies nipping at my ankles; they can righteously tick me off but they are adorable and  fun and for the most part, add to my life.

 I’ll keep abreast of new technology with its bewildering array of almost identical names and enjoy the simplicity of our  new tent. I think. I’ll let you know how a tent-as-bonus-room works, or better yet, will you let me know?  And yes, I can say “leak.”

Happy Tales to you and yours,

Patti

March 23, 2011 by Patti Faustini · Leave a Comment (Edit)

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Grand Canyon blue and greenIn case you’ve been hiding under a rock, the Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world.  I personally think my new iPad 2 also qualifies, but that’s another blog. There were three things that stood out to me at the Grand Canyon last weekend:

 1. How dumb people can be

2. How big that hole really is

3. How great it is to have a terrific RV park right inside the Park.

 First, I guess it isn’t nice to call people “dumb” and I’m trying to be nicer the older I get,  so let me think ….how about “careless?” Hmm…maybe “suicidal.” No wait, I got it, “reckless.” And maybe “reckless” would be OK if little kids don’t count on reckless people to raise them, but these people at the extreme edge of the Canyon had kids. And they were scared.

 I’ll not post the photo I took of the blonde 30 something woman standing literally half an inch from the edge of a rock cropping that, if even stronger gusts were to blow, would have sent her over the edge into the abyss. She stood on loose rock, kind of  like shale (I’m not a geologist, so apologies if that’s a poor analogy). She faced the sun, arms open wide for the husband’s camera shot, doing a ‘wanna be’ Native American thing,  repeatedly staggering as huge wind gusts blew at her. Her kids were where all people should be, on the path. They were crying “Careful, Mommy!” I prayed, to no avail, for a Park Ranger to come up and haul her out of there. My husband dragged me away from my impulse to go set her straight, and thankfully she was not mentioned in the next day’s paper. My husband also thought the guy may have had a huge insurance policy on his wife. The guy really did yell, ” Just a little further back, honey.” No joke.

Grand Canyon Pink Skies

 Second, that’s one really dazzling, vibrant hole. Have you been to the Grand Canyon? There’s nothing I can add to pictures you’ve seen, except to me, it’s proof of a living God and that He is an artist of the first magnitude. You just can’t finish life here and not see the Grand Canyon. It wouldn’t be right.

 Third, if you’re traveling in an RV,  check out the  “Trailer Village Campground”, www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging-705.html  just inside the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim. It is close to the everything: the Canyon itself, mule rides, short and not –so-short hikes, and the  Grand Canyon Visitor Center www.explorethecanyon.com/grand-canyon-visitors-center/information.

Now, Trailer Village Campground isn’t perfect. It was kind of crowded and this is pnly March, more functional-than-pretty (our actual site was pretty, though. See photo.) , and you don’t want to arrive after dark. It’s not easy to find. That said, however, it’s location is unbeatable (really close to everything on the South Rim and all the action), it has full hook ups with 50 amp service, and best of all, it’s right on the public shuttle stop that takes you everyplace. It’s clean, it’s simple, it worked for us.

Grand Canyon RV park

The only bad thing about the Grand Canyon was the lady who figured a great photo shot could be worth making orphans of her children  (oops…wasn’t going to go there seeing as how I’m trying to be nicer and all) on the edge of the cliff. The Grand Canyon is a joy.

Happy Tales to you and yours,

Patti

Sedona Lately, have you considered how how good  people can be, and how beautiful is our imperfect world?  Some seemingly unrelated events have prompted these thoughts: people we meet RVing, the earthquake in Japan, and camping last week surrounded by the red rock beauty of Sedona, Arizona, I see as closely connected.

Take RV reps: even with my occasional (ok, multiple) cracks about the RV buying experience, there are truly great folks in the RV business.  Last week I wrote about Genia at  Van and RV Sales in Rocky Mount, NC. www.vanandrvsales .  She qualifies as “great.” Then there’s  Wendy at International RV in Bay City, MI.  www.internationalrvworldmi.com .

Woodall’s reader, Ronald K., wrote to tell me this about Wendy:

 “We purchased our 5th wheel from Wendy at International RV in Bay City, MI.  She answered our questions with all honesty.  She worked between us and her sales manager to get us a great deal.  After purchase she took time away from her office to go over several key points of our 5Th wheel.  She also is a strong Christian lady and we liked that.  We made our purchase based on our faith in her integrity.

She was awesome and even offered to drive us to another dealer lot to look at a model she did not have in stock.  She really worked hard  to get us the best deal and with that has came great service.  Jamie in parts and service is also awesome.”

                         .   

In addition to these great RV reps, do you agree there’s something even more special about people who hang out in state or RV parks?  You just don’t run into many full-on miscreants when camping or RVing; I bet most of you would agree. I think RVers, compared to the general population, are more likely to be helpful, honest, and good citizens. Kind of like good Scouts.

                         .   

And what do good people have to do with the current heartaches and trials of the Japanese people? It’s all about goodness.  We’re not hearing reports of the Japanese looting; instead we’re hearing reports of helping, and the immediate can-do response of groups like Samaritan’s Purse  http://www.samaritanspurse.org and Lutheran World Relief http://www.lwr.org/emergencies/11/JapanEarthquake/index.asp. I see the sorrow of the Japanese people, yet I see the honor and dignity they maintain in the face of crisis, and I’m in awe. Their response is its own beauty, is it not?

Sedona bell rock

Then there’s the artistry of  nature. I would love to know what God was thinking when He painted Sedona. I mean, how can those rocks and cliffs possibly be that shade of red? If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was all photo shopped. But it’s not. It’s real.

Is life perfect? Are people always great? Do we always help each other when in crisis? Is nature always lovely? No. I wish. But this I do know:  abundant living is loving, giving, and noticing the  artistry that surrounds us. And if we choose, on these things we can focus. To me, that’s abundant living.

Happy Tales to you and yours,

Patti

 If you’re looking to buy an  RV, and you find yourself anywhere near North Carolina, it’ll be worth your time to visit with Genia, RV sales rep at Van and RV Sales,  in Rocky Mount, NC.

 And just how do I know this, considering I’ve never been to North Carolina and don’t know Genia from a hole in the ground?  Because I asked!  I asked Woodall’s’ readers to let me know if they’ve met a standout, truly excellent RV sales rep.  Yvonne and Terry Shepherd wrote to highly commend Genia. But before we hear from the Shepherds, let’s take a look at what makes a good RV sales rep.

 I’ve created a 3 point evaluation form for RV sales reps and our readers. The criteria comes from compliments and complaints from Woodall’s readers, in addition to my family’s experiences. Let’s take a look at what we’re evaluating, and then why Genia came out such a superstar:

 1)    Meet and Greet:  It appears that when our readers meet a new rep on the lot and say, “Oh, we just want to look today. We don’t really know what we want. Hahahaha…” that some reps go ballistic. That’s not a good thing.  On the other hand, I (and other readers) have actually heard this, “Oh, that’s ok. I’m just glad you’re here! Let’s figure out how to start looking for what will work for you.” Wow. I loved that. And here’s to Genia.

 2)    Problem Solving: Many times, if presented with a problem (either in pre-sale,mid-sale,  no possible sale, etc.) the sales rep will give you a big, fat “Love ya. Bye.”  As in, “I’m not going to waste my time if x,y,or z is an issue and I don’t see money this second.”  Then there’s Genia. She’s an entirely different oyster. Wait..is that actually an expression or did I invent something?

  3)    The Weasel Phrase: “What would it take to get you in this coach today?”  I have had so many readers tell me they hate that phrase.  I see why, and say “Amen.”. The very question reflects a staid sales meeting conducted by a manager with a seriously outdated mindset who requires his staff to “close” with this approach. Sort of like an eagle being told to swoop down on a  puppy in a field.  Then there’s Genia. I’m coming to her.

 I think Yvonne and Terry can best tell their own story. It’s worth reading carefully, then thinking, “Could I expect this from my local reps? If not, why not? Or, maybe it’s worth the trip to find Genia!”

 From the Shepherds:

 “My husband and I had a pop up camper that was in need of a lift system repair.  We contacted several local camping dealerships in the Tidewater Virginia area and no one would help us because we didn’t purchase the pop up from them.  We now know this is not uncommon but at the time we didn’t realize many dealerships will not service a camper if you didn’t buy it from them. The last number on our list of dealers was Van and RV Sales in Rocky Mount, NC.  After talking with Genia at Van and RV Sales, my husband called me to say he had finally found someone who would repair the lift system but-they were 250 miles away.

 So the next Saturday morning we towed our crippled pop up across the state of Virginia to Rocky Mount, NC.  When we arrived, Genia came out and greeted us. She put us at ease right away when she told us she had been in touch with the manufacturer of the pop up and all work would be covered by the warranty. Just to hear that she had called the manufacturer on our behalf was so reassuring.  We had found someone who understood customer service.  She had taken the lead and was making the repairs easy for us.

 While the pop up was being serviced, my husband and I started talking about upgrading.  We looked at the floor plans of several models at local dealerships, found the one we liked and called Genia.  She had the camper we were interested in for a much better price than buying locally from the dealerships who previously wanted nothing to do with us.

 We have upgraded twice since the pop up repair.  Genia asks us what we are looking for and then shows us her inventory, discussing our towing needs, sleeping requirements and color options. We have never felt any pressure from her and she has told us to “hold off” for next years models because she felt they were more in line with what we were looking for.  She has given us very fair trade in allowances and makes sure we are entirely happy before leaving the lot.  Her family owned business places customer satisfaction, on the road safety and family fun first in their sales department. She had our trust from day one.

 Yvonne and Terry Shepherd

 So, dear  readers,  what do you think about Genia? And what do you think about what makes a great RV sales rep? I love hearing from you.

 Happy tales to you and yours, and isn’t it just grand that spring is coming?

 Patti

You could easily drive into Sedona, Arizona and miss it; the chapel perched high on the mountain, sandstone art blending with flaming scarlet rocks. But you’d regret it big time. Are you an atheist?  You have to see The Chapel of the Holy Cross . Are you Muslim or Hindu? You just can’t miss it. What if you’re Rastafarian, agnostic, Jewish, or Christian? Yup…you get it . You must drive up to The Chapel of the Holy Cross. No matter who you are, what your faith, beliefs or interests, this is a drive well worth making. Why? Because the Chapel is an architectural wonder set in Sedona’s unbelievable Red Rock country and each of us responds to beauty and genius.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross  https://www.chapeloftheholycross.com/store needs to be seen because places like this are rare in the United States.  Europe, however, offers a variety of miraculous architectural mountain top retreats.  One of my favorites is Montserrat, outside  Barcelona, Spain. http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Spain/Catalunya/Barcelona-274654/Off_the_Beaten_Path-Barcelona-Day_Trip_Montserrat-BR-1.html

 Even with 23 eighth graders glued to my hip, the experience was wonderful. I feel the same about Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross, built in 1956, and believe me,  it’s a far easier journey.

There is a ton of information about the Chapel on the internet. I’m not here to provide details of its history, construction, architecture, or beauty.  I am here to tell you, flat out, if you’re in the Sedona area, see the Chapel. You’ll find what you want, be it a matter of the spiritual, artistic, architectural or incredible fusion of nature and man’s creativity.

We’re camping in Sedona. Check back next time and I’ll tell you about that. I’m still in recovery from recently motioning our TT into the driveway, listening to the roar of the World’s Best  Hubby : “I’m ‘gonna  get a Class C and that’s that!”

Happy Tales,

Patti

PS: If you’re coming from “uptown” Sedona,  go on 179 south toward  Village of Oak Creek for 3.1 miles. Turn left on Chapel Road and go to the top until the road ends. Guys are there to help you park. It’s a climb from the parking lot to the chapel, so comfortable shoes are key. If you even think you may need to use the bathroom, you better stop at the green porta-potty at the bottom of the road. Sorry…just being real here. There are zero restroom facilities at the Chapel. I know…

If walking is a challenge, you can drive all the way to the base of the entry ramp and park there. These spaces are reserved for vendors and those who require handicap parking spaces. The Chapel and ramp are wheel chair accessible;  however unless you have an electric wheel chair, you or someone else had better be a powerhouse pusher! It’d be a good idea to check details with the Chapel staff. Call (928) 301.0697

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