A thoughtful day…

Morning bird song.  It’s something you don’t hear often in a thick-walled house. I remember, as a child, it was the one thing I enjoyed most about camping trips with my grandparents in their RV. Now living in my own rig, I didn’t realize I missed it so much.  It’s an amazing feeling waking up to them chirping away instead of an alarm clock.  

It also brings back some wonderful memories of my grandfather who could mimic almost every one of those birds in his whistles.  And he whistled everywhere. I didn’t realize until recently that my life has been full of bird song because of him.  
Sometimes I wonder if he would be proud of me.  He was the person everyone looked up to in the family, and in many ways they still do.  My life hasn’t really gone according to plan, and it weighs on me whether he would approve and support my choices.  

Change is good though.  Things have been changing for me since our move into the RV.  I’m outside more, walking, occasionally running when my knee feels good.  I see myself doing awesome things like hiking beautiful trails, kayaking lazy rivers, but my body holds me back.  That and my growing desire to not do them alone.  

The hole reason for this move into the RV was for Hubbs and I to be together while his job travels. It’s so nice to finally be like a normal couple, him home every evening.  We talk over dinner, catch a few shows together, and on his days off we can actually do things together.  But he still works.  It’s dark when he leaves and dark when he makes it home.  So, outdoor activities are usually out of the question.  

I’m not complaining! I LOVE that we are together.  I’m just trying to show how it’s hard for me to get motivated to be that hiker… kayaker… adventurer that I want to be.  

Without getting into all the details, I guess it’s just one of the things that has been showing me that I’m ready.  I’m mentally ready to try another round of IVF.

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1 Week In

It’s been a full work week for most of y’all. For us, it’s been adjustment week.  

Sunday’s drive over was mostly uneventful. Hubbs pulled the rig and I followed behind. I’m a much more agressive driver than he is, so the moment his blinker went on for a lane change I would dive over into the lane clearing a path for him in front of me. It worked well.

We were smart in choosing our first campground. Pull through sites!!! No backing up this monster for us! Haha! Parking and leveling with the jacks almost seemed a breeze. Within an hour we were fully set up. Not bad for our first go. 

Some things have been a challenge. First off, we are now dishwasherless. I’m already not a fan of dishes, now I have to hand wash! Sighs, so we have had a bit of an issue.  Hubbs called on his way to work the first morning.  He said he couldn’t drink the coffee I had made him in his to go mug. It tasted like soap. Then day two he couldn’t eat his lunch because when he removed it from the microwave the food reeked of soap.  Total wife fail!

Cooking has been interesting too.  Baking specifically.  I’m used to a gas oven but now when the flames are so close to the food.  I burned the blueberry muffins. I was smarter with the mini loaves of banana bread. I put a cookie sheet underneath them to spread the heat out some. 

Along with cooking is washing laundry.  I’ve learned that, on hot days, cooking and running the dryer are not great ideas. It heats up the rig fast.

On a good note, Hubbs has been very happy to have me with him. The constant separation was weighing heavy on our hearts.  It’s so wonderful to see him smile when he gets HOME from work and I’m there. 

The changes we’ve been waiting for

I shared with y’all, back in the first or second post, that Hubbs’ job takes him far from home all the time. From the first day we met we’ve lived a long distance relationship, only together in between jobs. It’s about to all change.

Hubbs and I have day dreamed about retirement, as most people do. Our dream is to buy a camper and travel the US, seeing everything our great country has to offer. We’ve talked about it in length for the last 8 years.  About two years ago, Hubbs’ job made a shift from working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico to working more on land, but still all around the country and away from his family. Since that moment our day dreams of retirement changed to research into full time RV living. The idea is that we would travel with his job together.

Things are getting real! Two days ago we put the down payment on our brand new Open Range Roamer fifth wheel, and we pick it up in two days!!!!

  
It’s exactly what we want, but scary as all hell, and happening in a whirlwind!

So we put the down payment on it on Tuesday and then Hubbs left Tuesday evening for a job a state away. He comes back Friday afternoon so that we can go pick up our new rig on Saturday morning.  Then we have Saturday afternoon and evening to pack it before driving it to the job site (a state away) on Sunday, for Hubbs to be back at work on Monday. 

I’ve been frantically trying to downsize an entire three bedroom house to fit into one camper. I know I’m not going to have the house empty by Sunday.  I will have to travel back and forth emptying it while he works. 

Looking lovingly at one of my favorite serving dishes, it broke my heart to put it in the “give away” pile.  I just won’t have room for it.  That pile keeps growing. I will admit there were tears today, but thankfully I have some amazing friends that were by my side to help me remember that it’s just stuff. 

Breathe….. 

Traveling Stevens – DragonCon #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7

As I think I mentioned before, Hubbs and I work DragonCon. We work on the Walk of Fame floor. This means we work from open to close, and then some, every day of the convention. I was so busy and so tired that I wasn’t able to do a post for each day.

Thursday isn’t technically a day of Con, but we start working.  There are layout changes to be made, supply boxes to be picked up, badges and t-shirts for our workers to collect, and anything else that needs doing.  

Thursday is also the day all our peeps arrive! Our room has kind of become the hang out room, and I’m okay with that! So everyone started to arrive and the drinking began! Pie anyone?

   
   
Notice the happy newlyweds from the Michigan trip are in the pictures! Yay! They survived their awesome trip to Australia and New Zealand.  They were full of cool stories and souvenirs!

Friday the Walk of Fame doesn’t officially open until 1pm.  So we spend the morning running tape lines and teaching newbies the ropes. 

  
Once the doors opened, our weekend began. For the next 4 days this room was our home.  DragonCon pulled 70,000 people this year and every one of them comes to our room to see the media guests.  

Hubbs is assistant director for the floor, so he is everywhere. I was the Walk of Fame liaison to a particular agent that had 3 guests in a secondary location due to larger lines (meaning big name guests). So, I was with them more than my Walk of Fame crew. So that’s pretty much our days. Nights, on the other hand…..

Friday night, Hubbs and I opted for a nice candle light dinner in the restaurant on the top floor of the Hilton. Then we remained up there in the bar hanging with some friends.  It was nice and relaxing before the long days start. There was more pie envolved.

Saturday morning is parade morning! The parade is open to all Atlanta and is awesome! Remember the line of Storm Troopers I mentioned in the last post?

  
Saturday night is the Heroes and Villians Ball. Hubbs is friends with the Director of this track so we get to party with them. It’s always great fun and pie is always consumed!


Then we went back to the Hilton bar!

   
 
Sunday night is the Masquerade! The Masquerade is DragonCon’s main costume contest. It’s awesome, but the ballrooms aren’t big enough for everyone to make it in. Thankfully DragonCon has DragonCon TV! They air all the main panels and programming on the host hotel TVs. So Sunday is our room party day! Everyone files into our room again to watch the Masquerade on TV and drink. I crashed out at about 11:30 while people were still hanging out. Haha! Pie may have played a part.

Since we are talking about the Masquerade, here are some of our favorite costumes this year.

   
   

Also, remember that pic of the empty Marriott floor.  Here it is durring con.

  
Monday things are starting to come to a close.  The media guests start to trickle out heading to airports and the crowds start thinning. We start pulling up tape lines and giving hugs to friends. 

We don’t work Walk of Fame because we think we will get special time with media guests.  It’s the exact opposite.  We don’t get time with them.  Even when we are working their specific line all weekend. Sometimes we even go unnoticed.  It brought tears to my eyes when my big name guest called me by name to say what a good job I had done. That’s why I do this. To make sure the fans get to have their 10 seconds of face time with their favorite star. To try my hardest to make sure my star is seeing all their fans.  TV and Movies make money because of fans. I wish all stars understood that as much as my big name star does.

Monday night is the DragonCon Volunteer DeadDog Party! A big dinner and concert just for us! 

After a review of the extended weekend and after several requests Hubbs and I have decided that we will only be making blueberry pie from now on.

Walk of Fame says “See you next year! Come play in our lines!”

   

  

  

  

 

Traveling Stevens – DragonCon 2015 #2

Atlanta loves us!

  
We bring in a ton revenue for the city in this one weekend.  The convention itself is settled inside the Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, AmericaMart, Sheraton, and Westin. Then we spread to all the surrounding hotels for lodging.  The Marta (subway) has a stop one block over from the Hyatt and funnels in people from the outskirts of town, and on Saturday morning most of Atlanta crowds the nearby streets for the biggest geek parade in the U.S. I’m talking a mile long formation of Storm Troopers lead by 30 or so Darth Vaders and surrounded by costumers from every sci-fi/fantasy show or game or comic available.

Hubbs and I took our time this morning. We finally decided to go walk around close to lunch time and head to the Peachtree Center for a bite.  People are just starting to trickle in.

  
This is the last time the upper deck will be empty.

We are definitely among our people. We’ve spotted some fabulous luggage. Some with hand painted designs and others sporting multicolored duct tape holding it together. Hubbs was drooling over the Dart Vader and R2D2 luggage. Wish I had gotten a picture. 

After lunch, we found some of our peeps in the Guest Services Department, we checked on the table layout in the Walk of Fame room, and we made a trip to the Sheraton in search of something for our fearless leader of Guest Services. 

Hubbs and I are such good Samaritans. One of the loaders full of DragonCon programs toppled over and programs went everywhere. Tons of other people just walked by. Hubbs and I aquired several paper cuts helping to pick it all up. Good deed for the day!

So pretty much today we just killed time until our local friends got off work.  We try to have dinner with the “SR-71″s at least once every time we come. So good to see them.  We dined at Alma Cocina Mexican. Delicious!

On the way back from dinner we passed through that same empty upper level.  It’s not so empty anymore! DragonCon is starting!

  
We had some visits from other friends and we probably drank too much Apple Pie Moonshine! Haha!

Tomorrow it really begins!

Traveling Stevens – DragonCon 2015 #1

Way back on one of the first blog posts called “The Backstory,” I mentioned that Hubbs and I are big geeks, nerds, Whovians, Brown Coats, Trekkies, Gamers, Ringers, Potterheads, and Star Wars fans.  Today we set out for our biggest nerd event of the year. DRAGONCON!

DragonCon is one of the largest multi media conventions in the U.S. It’s full of movie stars, TV stars, authors, artists, radio personalities, YouTubers, paranormal investigators, scientists, make up artists, costumers, gamers, fans, and friends. It’s 4 days of shopping for geekware, panels with your favorite star or professional, all night anime, and fabulously themed parties. For Hubbs and I, it’s the meeting place for so many of our good friends and a few of our “family of our heart”. It’s a week long party with these people that are all spread across the country. 


So the Durango is all packed up. This is probably my poor Durango’s last trip to D*Con. My car has had a hard go recently and turned 11 years old.  In the past it has been an awesome car for the convention, carrying many people (12 people at once one time! Haha!) and many bottles of Apple Pie Moonshine. 
 At the mention of Pie, my fearless driver perks up! He always gets really excited before DragonCon. 

The convention doesn’t officially start until Friday morning, but most people start arriving Wednesday night and Thursday.  The badge pick-up line opens Thursday and some parties start Thursday night.  A couple of years ago, Hubbs and I had to leave a day or so early to dodge a hurricane.  It was so nice to have a day to just kick back before the madness that is DragonCon that we decided to do it every year.  

Our drive was wonderfully uneventful and hilariously loud due to the new voice of our GPS. The video is NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR SMALL CHILDREN.

  
After about 8 hours of insults we changed it back to the nice, calm British lady. Haha!

On our recent road trip in Hubbs’ new truck, we learned that size does matter with it comes to parking garages. There isn’t a standard size parking garage and the new truck doesn’t fit in most of them. We found ourselves giggling at my Durango barely fitting let alone the new F250.

  
Looks like the new truck won’t be making an appearance at DragonCon…ever.

We arrived and checked in and realized, that out of the 28 floors of 30+ rooms, we are in the same exact room as last year! Wow!

Tired and hungry we unpacked and called in some Chinese delivery. We well say good night with a picture of us in an empty elevator, which is a rare find at DragonCon.

   

Traveling Stevens -Michigan Trip #14 and #15 – The Voyage Home

We’ve been home for several days now, but my brain has been “mostly dead” for a week.  This was a long and fun trip, but having the last few days to relax and recouperate have been necessary.

We caught one more state, Missouri, on our way south to stop in Memphis for the night.  As I stated on Michigan Trip #1, seeing friends is always high on our list, and this was a birthday celebration too!  

   
 
Stan and Kati were the first couple we met after our marriage 7 years ago.  We met them on our Honeymoon cruise in the Carribean.  It’s so awesome when you meet people and just click.  We were so thrilled to be able to take them out for dinner for Kati’s birthday!

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Here it is!  Packed for the last time!  The tarp worked beautifully at keeping our clothes dry and the big tubs were perfect for toiletries, wedding gifts (later souvenirs), and munchies.

Speaking of munchies.  We purchased these chips back in Canada…

  
Let’s just say they were not a car favorite.  Haha! But, they sure did taste like Ketchup!

K: “Ketchup shouldn’t be crunchy.  Ewwww!”  were the words I heard as we passed back into our home state.

  
In total over 4,000 miles covered, 15 states, Canada, our Nations Capital, Niagara Falls, over a dozen of our wonderful friends, and a beautiful wedding that is still making me tear up.  What an amazing and memorable trip!

Traveling Stevens – Michigan Trip #13

Im so tired.   It’s a good thing I’m not driving.  Zzzzz…  

Today started with people dropping off various things to take to the new husband and wife.  And of course as we are trying to find their hotel the skies open and pour down their own version of Niagara.  

We say our final good byes and hop in the mighty truck to head in the direction of home. We clear most of the weather when we make a stop for breakfast.  K spotted my Purple Leaf Beech Tree!!

  
The picture doesn’t do the color justice.  The leaves are a maroon color but the young leaves deep in the tree, closer to the trunk, are still green and peek through in places.  So pretty.

As you can see from the background of the picture, the rain was about to pour down again.  

  
The wind really started to kick up and the sky opened.  We have been so blessed that our trip has been weather free, but God decided we needed all our trip weather at once.  I’m talking wind, rain, and hail!  Pour mighty truck took a beating and we had to pull off at random exits.  We even witnessed a transformer blow and catch fire.  It was very scary and I think Hubbs’ nerves we’re shot.  

The rain finally stopped about half way through Michigan.  I waited patiently through the rain before mentioning that I had to pee.  Hubbs pulls off at an exit in search of an Arby’s he saw on a sign.  Next thing we know we are deep in the country full of cornfields and Christmas tree farms.  

See, Hubbs is not just my “knight in shining armor” but he’s also my Paladin.  In the world of Dungeons and Dragons, the paladin is the holy knight that crusades in the name of good and order.  The paladin has one of the most restrictive codes of conduct in their single-mindedness and utter devotion to good (Reference). I’m sure that those of you that know us personally are giggling right now and completely understand, without explanation, why we are in the boonies!

Hubbs blindly followed the GPS reroute, because she couldn’t possibly steer us wrong!!!  Hahahahah! Instead of heading straight south through Lansing, we totally ended up in Grand Rapids and then a lot closer to Chicago than we planned.  When we finally found the interstate again, it was full of the slow moving traffic of Chicago.  

For my paladin there is a list of evils he must fight.  On that list is weather, hence the stress out earlier.  Also on the list is traffic.  Not only do we exit the interstate, but I’m instructed to alter the GPS to avoid major highways!  We were so far in the country full of farms and tiny two-road towns.

K: “This place is creepy.  It’s like something out of a scary movie.  Let’s not be here after dark.”

After about this point, we were all so tired that everything we did seemed absurd and hilarious.  I don’t even remember what was so funny.  

We stopped for the night in Kankakee, Illinois.  As I tried to fall asleep, I started of thinking of all we’ve seen these two weeks.  So far, we’ve been through 14 states and Canada.  We’ve seen 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, Niagara Falls and our nation’s capital.  We’ve seen tons of our friends and celebrates the marriage of one of my closest friends.  And we still have two days to go.  Wow.  

Traveling Stevens -Michigan Trip #11 and #12- Two Days of Wedding

Due to me being busy busy with wedding stuff this will be a two day in one post!

Friday. Mackinaw Island!! So pretty! But I will start at the beginning of the day.

So we got to sleep in til 8am! Woo hoo! K booby-trapped the bathroom with her phone charger and J just laughed as Hubbs and I tripped over it trying to get ready. So we left them to shower while we got coffee.

We ran into Brian and Cara on the way. Haven’t seen them in almost a year. We chatted over coffee for almost an hour. So good.

Everyone began gathering to head out for the day to Mackinaw Island. There’s no bridge to the island. There are also no cars allowed on the island. Only bicycles and horse drawn carriages. So we had to take a ferry.
All the friends and family were together for this trip, so I took a group selfie.

 
 
The whole island is full of colonial history, bed and breakfasts, and fudge shops. They even have a colonial era Starbucks!! (Sarcasm)

 
We all sat down for a meal at The Yankee Rebel Tavern.

      

Then we broke up into smaller groups for sightseeing. We hung with Mike and Kelley, their two boys A and J, and Moma Gilkey and Aunt Brenda. We visited a fudge shop and the Lake Huron Beach.

   

  

  

  

  


After a good time, we needed to head back to the hotel to prepare for the rehearsal dinner.
   

  


Now with that complete we head back to the hotel for the Bachelorette Party!!!!! Yay!!!!!

  

What happens at a bachelorette party stays at a bachelorette party. But I will say that we had an awesome time, the bride was happy and drunk, and there may have been some gummy bears involved. Haha!

I had the honor of driving both the bride and groom back to their hotel at 4am. I finally passed out at 5am.

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Saturday. Wedding day!!  

9am comes early when you only went to bed 4 hours ago. I gathered the bride and her things and we made a mad dash for coffee before heading to our 10am hair appointment.  

    


So it went hair, make-up, nails, pick up dress, relax for an hour or two and have lunch, then head over to the venue.  

Laura and Kevin got married in the colonial church inside Fort Michilmackinack. Beautiful wooden buildings and colonial reenacters, and no A/C. It’s a good thing we’re in Michigan and not Louisiana.  

Kevin’s family has been amazing! They have feed us, toured us around the island, and taught us some of the history of the area.  

I’ve cried time and time again. My beautiful Laura is getting married…cry. My beautiful Laura looks like a princess with her hair done like Khaleesi…cry. My beautiful Laura looks gorgeous in her dress…cry. The look on Kevin’s face when he sees her…cry. Their photos on the Lake Michigan beach…cry. Their first dance as husband and wife…cry. Sheesh…. 

We dance and sang and partied the night away.

Introducing:

Mr. and Mrs. Gilkey-Graham

  

Traveling Stevens – Michigan Trip #10 – Michigan

We are so dysfunctional early in the morning.

Hubbs got us up at 5am to be ready for 6am breakfast so we could be packing the car and heading out around 7/7:30am. So K, J, and I followed our fearless leader down 27 floors to breakfast only to find out that Hubbs didn’t read the breakfast card that says it opens at 7. So we head down to the lobby for Starbucks.

On our return trip to the room, J thought he was going to be sly and snatched a room key off a counter. Little did he know that it was the room key for the Embassy in DC that I pulled out of my wallet to throw away. He looked so crushed when it didn’t work. Giggles

We quickly packed the room and loaded the luggage trolley.  

Hubbs: “we can wait for breakfast here or we can get the truck and go.”

J: “we can eat in the road. It’s an adventure!”

Hubbs: “you’re in a foreign country, that’s adventure enough”

Hubbs announced that everyone needed to get their last look out the window at the Falls before we left. We were all glued there for like 10 minutes.

 

K: “I really didn’t expect it to be a city. I thought it’s was going to be like a little shack. You know, like a little town.”
We headed north on the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) towards Toronto. Once we hit Lake Ontario, we make a left and head towards Michigan.  
   
 
Traffics towards Toronto.
   
 
We stopped for breakfast at a McDonalds in Brantford. From there the drive was nothing but fields and fields of grapes, corn, golf courses, sunflowers, and wind turbines.  
We crossed back into the USA using the Blue Water Bridge over Lake Huron.
   
  


Welcome to Michigan!

  

Now we make the 5 hour drive north to Mackinaw City. 

Hubbs has been as far north as Niagara once before and I had been as far north as Detroit, which is almost the same distance north. When we crossed the 45 parallel, Hubbs got all excited. This was a first for all of us!  

Everything looks different up here. You can see through the woods. It’s weird. There is little underbrush and all the trees have their leafy areas on top rather than down the sides of the trees. It makes the woods look like all trunks.

  
Then there are areas that look like African tundra. Golden grass, tall trees. I feel like I should be watching for herds of Giraffe.

  
Hubbs know exactly what I like.   There was a scenic view stop at a rest area, he stopped without me even asking.  We had to drive up a large incline to a beautiful wooden walkway and platform. That’s Burt Lake in the distance.
  

  
Once we reached Mackinaw and checked into our room it was laundry time. It’s has been a few days and J is currently wearing his swimming suit trunks so that I can wash everything. 
We are all dead tired and hungry. It’s like 9:30 at night and still light outside! We head over to the Dixie Saloon for food. Best whitefish ever!! It’s a local fish up here and was delicious. After such an awesome meal we are even more tired. I’m sad we are missing the bonfire for the Bride and Groom, but Hubbs could barely keep his eyes open at dinner and J was in the bed so fast. I barely remember turning the lights out. Zzzzzzzz……