As wonderful as our past 11 years of RV living has been, we are now back to part-time travelers. It has been a wonderful experience and it is our plan to continue the volunteer lifestyle on a part time basis for the foreseeable future.
The reasons for our change of lifestyle are mostly age and health related. In the past few years some things have begun to have more impact on our schedule and especially doctors. In May of 2008 we found ourselves spending all summer with the Corps of Engineers, in what had been planned to have been a six week stay. As it happened, Pam had to have joint replacement surgery on her thumb and before that was fully healed it was discovered that I had a melanoma on my left ear which required surgery. Once you have a melanoma you then have checks for more problems every six months for the rest of your life. It was also discovered that Pam had a minor heart issue that also requires a six month follow-up as well. In addition she still has some stomach problems and her COPD has to some degree progressed and so our collection of doctors have become more insistent upon our regular visits.
To add to everything, in Jan. of 2009, Pam fell while volunteering at Everglades NP and severely injured her right ankle such that it required surgery. The NPS was very remiss in helping us to get federal workman's comp to pay and so we found ourselves once more spending the summer at Lavon Lake with the USACE while she recovered. All of these things brought home to us the fact that time is flying past and the day that we may need a place to land was drawing nearer.
As a result of these facts, we began to search for a place that would serve as a good home-base now and which could eventually become our home for our declining years. In doing so we considered many different locations and we especially looked to RV communities. We took a hard look at several Escapee properties and even went to the extent of going on to the wait list for Lone Star Corral. We seriously considered property at Rainbow's End, Ft. Clark Springs, and at El Viaje RV Retreat. Each of those had storng attraction to us, but all were too far from our present doctors and we felt could become a distance problem in the event that we should need help from our son in our declining years. We were looking for a place that could be our home, both for our continued travels and also for the day that we must hang up our keys. In Bass Lake, we have found this dream location!
We had looked so much that we had begun to think that the best we would be able to do, with our budget constraints and our desire to live in the north Texas area was to find something that "would do" and not what we really wanted. But fate intervened and a fellow Escapee member called us in October to tell us of this wonderful place. We began long distance contacts with those few residents who were interested in selling their property and then looked at two of them when we got back to Texas and on Jan. 6, we paid our money and our dream came true! We have found that RV folks are the friendliest in the world, but this park goes far beyond that standard! The residents here are nothing short of wonderful. Most of the members of this community are, or used to be members of Escapees RV club as we are. These folks make a real effort to be more friendly and helpful than any other park. They tell us that it is their belief that as a Christian community, it is important that they set the standard for being friendly and caring to the others who live here. I do believe that they are successful at this goal! This home is beyond our wildest drams! It is so wonderful that we at times have difficulty believing that it can be real!
Our new home consists of a 47' square concrete pad covered by a steel building which is completely insulated. To the left side is an RV port that has full hookups for the RV and also space for us to park the car. To the right is a frame construction house of 900 square feet, with a master bedroom, bath, and a great room that contains the kitchen and livingroom area. There is also a smaller second bedroom/office and a utility area for the washer/dryer. Heat and air conditioning is provided by a heat pump system with electric auxillary heat elements and it also has a propane, gas fireplace to supplement heat if need be.
Pam is having the time of her life with a normal size kitchen again and her own washer/dryer, right in the next room! Even Muffie seems to be adjusting to a new home and has become quite comfortable here, but she still prefers to lay under the front of the motorhome when outside. I don't think that she yet completely accepts the change as our motorhome is the only home that she has ever known. Let me show you around our new home, if you care to come with me.
You first approach by entry through the RV port. As you come along side of our CR-V you will see two windows and the front door just ahead. The interior side of our home is made of Hardi Plank and is painted to match the other parts of the building. It is rather nice to live where you can walk from the car or the RV to your home without getting wet when weather is bad.
We purchased our house with furniture so little has changed in what one sees as you enter our home. Entering you will find yourself in the living area. The room even has a large TV set that was part of the furnishings that we got with it. We really have enjoyed the larger living area and I especially like my new recliner! I find that it not only sits well, but I can sleep here with little effort as well. We have also been enjoying the larger TV set that we now have room for.We are slowly adding a few things to give it our own touch.
All rooms have ceiling fans as well as the usual things one would expect and while the rooms are somewhat smaller than we had before we sold our last house to go on the road, to us the place is a castle, after having lived in 300 square feet for nearly 11 years. Our living area is 16' wide by 20' in length, which is plenty for the lifestyle we expect to live and as we get older I am sure that it will be plenty for us to care for.
The kitchen is roomy enough and has more counter space than Pam remembers what do do with. And we have really had to watch the budget to keep from going crazy getting things to fill all of those cupboards. We did get the microwave and toaster oven with it as well as stove and refrigerator. So far those cabinets have lots of room and some shelves still have nothing at all.
Next to the kitchen is a small dining area with a drop-leaf table and storage cabinets. The table has four chairs and that is probably about all of the table space that we have to feed people, but it should serve us well as it is a little larger than the motorhome dinette.
As we go down the hall from the living room the bathroom is to the right and to the left is the utility area with washer/dryer and water heater. Off of the utility space is also an extra bedroom, not yet furnished but we plan to make that an office/guest room. At the moment it has a folding table and Pam's sewing machines and crafts in it. The bath room is quite large and has a lot of counter space and a great deal of storage. We do not have nearly enough to fill those cabinets yet, but I am sure that will change with time.
Our master bed room is quite roomy and it even has three closets! With the few items of clothing that we travel with we find that we have far more space that we need, at least for now. With our clothing spread around, it has become quite clear that a major part of our wardrobe today is made up of uniforms for places that we volunteer!
All rooms have ceramic tile floors with rugs to cover them. This should make things easy to care for but we don't run about with bare feet much in cold weather. There is also generous use of lighting fixtures in our home and we have been very happy here. The last part of the tour is my section, the RV port. In time I plan to enclose a section of this to make a wood shop as well, but for now it is very comforting to know that our motohome and car are both under cover and I can do things there with no chance of getting wet if it is raining. And one day as we begin to travel less, I will add a shop to make noise and sawdust as well. I have already had offers of help with construction when the day comes that I start to build it.
There are many variations of construction in the homes found here, with some lots having no permanent improvements at all, some just an RV pad and others with a cover for the RV. Most begin with the RV pad and cover and then slowly grow as the wants and needs of the owners change. The majority of the homes have been built by the owners with help from their neighbors. A walk through the park will quickly show that most types of home are welcome, although there are rules about what you can do or build. Homes can be no larger than 900 square feet and buildings must have no less than 10' setback from the front property line and less than 2' from any side. The buildings are restricted to no larger than 47' square and all must have some type of RV parking.to stop roaming and to, in time, hang up the keys. Most owners begin by simply putting in some type of pad, but since all all lots have full hook-ups, nothing at all is needed for use to begin. Many start with just a concrete pad, then add an RV cover and in time building some type of home. While there are restrictions about what one can build here, the intention is to allow for most possible choices as long as homes are RV based and look reasonably attractive.
Homes are limited in size and all structures must have association approval prior to the start of construction. Landscaping is encouraged and there are a few limits to that as well, but they are minimal. Lawn care can be arranged when you are traveling and there is an annul fee for water, sewer, garbage collection and streets.
In addition this must be the friendliest place in the entire world. We are a Christian community and as such there are rules about some behaviors, but they not so restrictive as to cramp the style of most seniors. Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property, which is benificial for asthmatics and respratory sufferers, such as Pam. We are also a 55+ community and young guests and visitors are welcome, but not permanent residents. It is a place where residents truely care about one another and the social ties and bonds of friendship are very strong. Most residents still do at least some RV travel, but a few have completely hung up the keys and more are expected to do so in the future. This is a place where one can travel as much or as little as you desire, knowing that friends will be watching your home if you are not there.
We have easy access to the interstate highway and shopping is nearby, with all major stores and accomadations less than twenty miles away. We are a short distance from all things one might ever need in Tyler and the Dallas area is less than two hours away. East Texas is beautiful country and is also home to some of the most friendly folks there are, and we live in the very best part of it. There is golf, fishing, parks and museums all withing easy travel distances and the weater here is usually quite moderate.
While we expect to continue to travel more than half of the year, it does seem that we have finally found our home!