Once we left Disney we began our 5 day trip to Texas. We paced ourselves by trying to keep our daily drives to less than 6 hours. We stopped in Chattahoochee Florida, Gulfport Mississippi, Vinton Louisiana and Victoria Texas before we arrived safe and sound at Sandpipers, our winter home in Edinburg, Texas. Our 1,300 mile trip from Florida to Texas was mostly uneventful even though we had to pass through Hurricane Patricia along the way. Since the hurricane was heading northeast and we were heading west we were lucky enough to time it perfectly so that the worst of the wind and rain occurred overnight. Once we arrived at Sandpipers we immediately began reuniting with many of our friends and set some tennis up for the next day. It was nice to just relax. The entire winter turned out to be the best yet as far as having some of the most beautiful weather. We couldn’t have received more than an inch of rain all winter and the sun was out most of the time with temps between 70 and 95 degrees. We joined in our normal activities. I played lots of tennis and water volleyball. Claudia started playing pickle ball again and became quite good at it. She also attended the Zumba! and water aerobics sessions when time permitted as well as the monthly book club meeting and ladies day out. On Wednesdays she hosted a Downton Abbey night where she showed an episode or 2 each night from her DVD collection. On top of that we still attended our pub nights (a social event at the pavilion with a full bar including some great homemade brew), grill nights (where we brought our own meat to grill and a side dish to share up to Flip Flopz, our dining area), karaoke (I sing, Claudia doesn’t), bowling on Friday’s where our team joins 11 other teams for league play at a local bowling alley and of course our daily happy hours to just hang out and enjoy cocktails together with our friends, sometimes as many as 20 or 30 of us at a time. We enjoyed a great Christmas and New Years with our friends and our motor home was decked out with Christmas decorations and our tree and stockings were out. All the while I continued to practice on my guitar, joined by my friend Jim on his ukulele. I ended up singing and playing as a member of the Jam Band this year that entertained our friends and neighbors on pub nights. I never thought I would, or could, but I had a blast doing it. Claudia was outstanding in the annual theater production this year; taking on a role with a lot more lines than I’d want to remember. She was also part of the Burlesque show as a dancer in a Jazz number. I played a couple of bit parts in the burlesque show as well and created a few laughs along with a couple of my pals. The audience never saw what was coming until we emerged behind a lounge singer wearing our G-strings, bow ties and dark sunglasses. The big news this winter was that we decided to purchase a fully furnished 3 bedroom mobile home here at Sandpipers so that we can enjoy the 5 months we spend down here in a much more spacious setting. Our mobile home includes an attached 16 x 35 foot enclosed Texas Room which will allow us plenty of room for entertaining. To top it off, the Texas Room comes complete with a 92 inch (yes, 92 inches!) TV. The Pats are going to look pretty good on that. As the winter began to wind down we enjoyed the Winter Olympic Games that they hold here each year. Claudia and I both won our share of medals. One of my highlights was the gold medal win in the men’s water volleyball tournament. My friends in Connecticut will never believe it but the fact is it all began with them. Claudia’s most surprising medal came with the shot put where she earned gold. Our proudest moment however came when we retained our crown as the gold medal winners of the Charmin Plunge for the second year in a row. In case you have no idea, Claudia was holding a plunger between her thighs (no hands of course) and was able to run up to me and stick the handle of that plunger into the roll of toilet paper that I held between my thighs and run with it to the finish line faster than any other couple. Yes, as I said, we’re both very proud. While the games were going on, we pretty much emptied the RV of most of our belongings and brought them over to the mobile home in anticipation of some service on the slide out that was going to be performed on the RV. We also looked at it as an opportunity to go through everything now that we have a place to store the stuff we don’t need when we travel. Once the Olympic Games concluded we made the 2 day, 950 mile round trip to drop off the RV at the RV Service Center near Fort Worth that was willing to fix our slide out issues. We had a great feeling about these guys from the beginning and it looks like we were right. Within 10 days we returned to pick up the RV and the slide out worked like new. With spring approaching, it was time to start thinking about returning to the road. Our first year took us on an 18,000 mile trip around and across the US including a 5,600 mile detour through Canada and into Alaska. Last year we took it much slower and really enjoyed some quality time at the National Parks in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. This summer will be different from our last couple of years however due to a couple of reasons. We return to the road tomorrow, April 23rd. We begin our trip back to Massachusetts in order to attend our niece's wedding. We’ll take it slow and easy however as we follow a route through Mississippi and Tennessee in order to travel the Natchez Trace. The Natchez Trace is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. Once we hit Nashville we’ll pick things up a bit and 4 days later will arrive in Massachusetts on May 4th. We’ll stay at a nearby campground until after the wedding at which time we’ll head to my sister’s home where we’ll settle in for about a 10 week stay. During that period we’ll spend lots of time visiting our family and friends and take a few local camping trips with them. As much as we love it here, we’re anxious to get back on the road and back to family.
Ed and Claudia always dreamed of retiring and travelling the country in their motorhome. They retired in 2013 and this is the continuing story of their adventures on the road.