The Adventure has begun!

May 8, 2006

This is my first attempt at a BLOG. I have previously attempted to do some journaling with mixed success. The problem I had with my journal was trying to find a time every day or even several days a week to set aside to make it work. My work schedule and my need to be with my wife while not working made it very difficult if not impossible to keep a journal current. I have some four or five journals with the first several pages filled in with great information about what was going on in my life at the time and then nothing but blank pages followed.

With this BLOG have come a number of important changes in my life and indeed my lifestyle. First and probably the most important, after 35 years of active military service I retired on May 1, 2006. By retire, I mean I retired. At the age of 55 years five months, I am currently 100% retired. I have no job and I am not looking for one. There will be more to follow on that thought. The second most important adjustment to our lifestyle is that Connie and I have moved into a 29 foot class C motorhome which we are calling home. We have a house to call base camp, but we intend to spend precious little time there. Finally, as I was preparing to retire and was giving real thought to what I would like to do it occurred to me that I would like to write. However, I don’t think I have it in me to be a historical novelist or write such deep stuff that I would have to spend months or years researching. Instead, I want to write what interests me. If anyone likes it they can read it. If not, then I will have had the satisfaction of writing it even if no one reads it.

As I communicated my desires to write to some of our friends, I was encouraged by the feedback I received. In fact the idea to publish my thoughts on a BLOG came from one such conversation. If this works, I owe the idea to Shelley O’Neill who also has a BLOG. She sent me a link to her BLOG as well as the web site to establish my own. So, if this does anything for anyone besides me, it is because of Shelley. Another group of our friends adorned me with books and tips on how to be a successful writer as part of a retirement gift basket they gave the two of us. I must admit that eight days into this adventure I have not yet read any of those tips. Many others wanted Connie and me to keep them abreast of what we were doing and where we are doing it. So, a BLOG seemed the simplest way to do so without boring the daylights out of those who could care less and without clogging people’s e-mail with long dissertations of how we hiked miles through the scorching heat through swamps with alligators at our heals looking for a bird. We have not done that yet, but read on, the adventure has only just begun and we are still in Maine.

So, here we are eight days following my official retirement, the move out from our 5400 plus square foot government quarters at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, the arduous cleanup of the house prior to checkout and finally the checkout itself. Then, one more day living as guests of the Shipyard Commander, Captain Jonathon Iverson and his wife, Sue and we were off in the motor home heading for of all places Portland, Maine. We didn’t even go all the way to Portland before making camp the first few nights. We went only as far as Scarborough which is west of South Portland. We drove in a steady downpour which belied our emotions as we were really quite happy driving out of Kittery and into a lifestyle we had collectively dreamed of for most of our twenty-four years of marriage. We spent three nights at that first stop. The purposes were simple. We needed to rest from all that went in the weeks just prior to my retirement ceremony and the move out that was to follow. I needed some time to sort of decompress from what had been 35 years of go go go. I needed to learn to live a little slower and be more patient. We also needed some time to adjust to 29 linear feet after the huge house we lived in at the shipyard. Finally, even though only fifty some miles from Kittery, I had never had the opportunity to explore the historic downtown and waterfront district of Portland. As a side benefit, we got to get acquainted with finding wi-fi hot spots and how one goes about getting connected to the internet via this high tech service. I call it a service, because as most of you know you do not have to pay for connection to the internet if you look around for the right hot spots.

We took full advantage of the really bad weather and the nice campground we were in and just relaxed. Our last day there the skies returned to the great blues we had grown to love living up here and we wandered the streets of old downtown Portland and even had lunch at an outdoor café. It was a great day to be our last day in the area.

From Portland, actually Scarborough, we traveled mostly north to a small campground outside Dixfield, Maine. Dixfield had the next campground which was within the travel distance I was willing to drive in a day this early into our new adventure. To my knowledge there are no great treasures in the area. However, we did no exploring. We only spent the night in a nice quiet campground and slept way too long into the next morning.

From there we went to Greenville, Maine. Greenville is on the southern shore of Moosehead Lake. Moosehead Lake is certainly a tourist destination. In fact there are tourists in the Moosehead Lake area most seasons of the year. However, in the early spring we found ourselves nearly alone in the campground we chose. The owner, operator of the campground was so happy to see us that she told us all about the area and how she ended up there from her home in New Jersey. We spent two nights at that campground and spent some time exploring the area and doing some bird watching. Although we saw no new birds, we did see some we have not seen in a good long while and we some them in full breeding plumage which in the case of the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet means a great deal. For those of you reading this who do not watch birds, you will not understand why bird watchers really love to see birds in breeding plumage. The colors are so rich and distinct when the males are out courting the females. In the case if the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, for most of the year most observers only get to see a rather green bird. While in breeding plumage, the very top of the male bird’s head has this brilliant red patch about the size of a small thumb print. When the sun hits the red just right it is truly a brilliant sight.

Today we traveled all of 90 miles to Medway, Maine. Medway just happens to be the town closest to Baxter State Park with a campground that is open this time of year. I can think of no other reason for us being here. At least that was what I thought as I tried to find the town on my GPS and had to do the zoom and search method as opposed to asking it for the nearby cities. Medway is not a city by anyone’s standards. However, the campground we are in is the best we have been in since the week began. It will not top our list of best campgrounds ever. In fact it would likely not make the top ten. However, it is a good place and has all the modern camper’s needs taken care of. We were able to catch up on our e-mail this afternoon because the campground is wired for wi-fi. I was able to run this afternoon after we got settled in. Connie was able to catch up on the laundry while catching up on her e-mail. Lest anyone think it unfair that Connie was doing the laundry while I was running, just remember that I have done all the driving over some of the worst roads in America. We have shared the cooking and washing of dishes and all other camp chores since we got underway. So, it was not as outrageous as it might at first have seemed, especially to our women friends. I will do my share of the laundry as time goes on.

Well, I have gotten up to date on where we have been. I recognize that this posting has been a bit short on details. However, given that it is the first posting and that I have gone seven days underway without making a post, this is as good as I can do for now.

In the future, I hope to find that perfect time of the day each day to at least compose my posts. We will have to see whether or not I am able to get my compositions posted every day. I feel good that I have gotten this far into this personal commitment to journal our travels. I suspect that as time goes on I will refer to these early days of the new lifestyle and fill in some of the details that I have skimmed over here.

I hope you will like what I post and continue to follow our travels.



9 thoughts on “The Adventure has begun!”

  1. Loved your first entry. There will be patches of good stuff as you go along that can be grown into essays if you like. Have you contemplated doing any poetry?

  2. Katherine Wolfthal

    Sounds like an auspicious start to your free-wheeling adventure, Frank, and a great start to your blog, too. I’ll look forward to further installments… and to seeing how you and it develop over time.

    Can’t wait to see you and Connie in June!

  3. Good job, Frank! A good way to keep all your loonie friends up to date on your travels. You write it and I will be sure to read it…

  4. Nicely done, Frank. Now I can tag along and live retirement vicariously through you two!
    I hope the golf bags are packed somewhere on the big rig?

    Loonie Carla

  5. Brenda Muncrief

    Hi Frank! I’m looking forward to following you and Connie around on your adventures! Not only can you draw orchids, you can write. Who knew?


  6. We miss you already! Frank, I am so glad you are writing – it does make me think of our conversations over large glasses of wine at Anneke Jans. I have to say that so far, even with the weather, retirement sounds lovely. I know that Connie said that you were coming back through on your southern journey – any chance for the 4 of us to meet for dinner?
    Thank you again for the charts and the chart table – it is a treasured reminder of good friends. By the way – I am laughing at the use of the term “underway” as applied to live in a land vessel. Old habits . . .

  7. Congratulations on your foray into electronic journaling! You are making retirement sound very appealing – please let us live vicariously throughout your adventures (and misadventures!) Will you be coming back through on your way south? If so, let’s meet for wine and good food!
    We do love the chart table – and treasure it and our time with you two.
    This is my second attempt at posting a comment, so if the first one posts, and this is now redundant – well then, I’ll just look silly.
    Enjoy your underway!

  8. Kathie Satterfield

    I’m so glad you’re sharing your adventures. I feel I’m traveling right along side you guys and can enjoy traveling to places I’ll likely never get to see in person. I particularly liked your moose encounter.

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