Tuesday, May 23, 2006


As I am sorting, throwing, giving away, packing, and just plain simplifying my life, my mind has wondered back to my childhood and my total fascination with The Little House on the Prairie and the other books in that series. My siblings and I would play Little House in the Big Woods or On the Banks of Plum Creek or some other type of pioneer living, and I thought it would be so much fun to be a pioneer and travel off to distant parts of the world on a ship or covered wagon or on foot.

I keep thinking that our retirement traveling is the same type of adventure off into the unknown, but when you really think about it you see the huge differences. When our brave ancestors left Norway and Germany to come to the New World, they often left knowing they would never see their loved ones again. They would never even be able to speak to them again. Letters were few and far between, and often never arrived at all. I, on the other hand, am leaving town with plans to return for a visit, God willing, in less than three months. I have my cell phone with programmed in phone numbers. I have my laptop with my list of email addresses. And I have this blog. I can talk to any of my family members or friends at any time in a variety of ways.

With the comforts of home left behind, my ancestors probably shared a small bunk on the ship, only to upgrade to a covered wagon when they arrived in America. Maybe they had a quilt to cover themselves as they went to sleep on the hard wooden wagon floor. Heat for cooking and warm water and warmth for their cold tired bodies was all provided by a campfire. A warm water bath was a very infrequent luxury and the whole outdoors was their restroom.

I, on the other hand, will be traveling in a 34 foot 5th wheel trailer. There is a nice soft queen sized bed with a warm down comforter. If I'm chilly I can turn on the electric fireplace fan in the living room, and if I'm really cold I can turn on the furnace. I need sit by the campfire only if I choose to do so, or if I want to make s'mores. Warm water will come from the kitchen faucet and from the shower head. I have indoor plumbing. And I will cook on a gas stove or in an electric microwave, and when we don't have electricity available, we'll turn on the generator and make some!

A wagon was pulled by horses or oxen; my traveling home will be pulled by a big Ford truck. The animals needed food and water to keep going; my truck will guzzle diesel fuel. We will follow a paved highway with lines painted on it to mark the middle and edge, while they may have followed game trails or faint wheel marks from previous wagons, or just made their way across the least rugged areas of the prairie. These brave folks often had no clue were they were or where they were heading. We have an atlas, a road map, a topographical map, a compass and a GPS.

Entertainment for the early travelers was practically nonexistant. There was no time for fun after the work was done, or they were too tired from their traveling either in the bumpy wagon or from walking along beside it. Maybe they owned a couple of books or they played a few home made games when they did have a rare moment for relaxing. We have a TV set with a satellite dish, an Xbox with fun games, several baskets full of well loved books, a bocce ball set, frisbees, board games and card games.

While the wagon trains and the life of the early pioneers does sound romantic, brave, courageous and free, I think we've decided to stick with the RV and truck for our travels. I envy the pioneers simplicity but I'm afraid I would miss my soft bed, warm shower, cell phone and laptop too much. I think I'm spoiled.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Add ImageThis is my current dining room/kitchen, which I love. This is the one I'll be moving into shortly. Quite a bit smaller don't you think? Our whole married life, until just a few years ago, we have had small kitchens. We then converted our garage into this lovely kitchen/dining room and turned the old kitchen and dining areas into part of the living room, thus creating two large rooms. We then built on a two car garage. Now my new dining room, kitchen, and living room will be about the size of the above before picture. I have spent the day packing and sorting and tossing. Moving from a large home into a 34 ft RV really limits the stuff you can collect. But I have to have my sewing machine so I can do some long put off quilting, and I need my Jon Hassler books, and I really need the books I purchased on my trip to Italy last year. We have 15 beautiful grandchildren and I need all their pictures, and the pictures of our 7 kids and their spouses, and I need a few of my favorite candles and other things to make the RV "mine." So my brain is completely worn out trying to decide what to keep and what to let go, but I really do want to simplify my life, so I will do it. Back to the sorting.........

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I don't know exactly when it started, this dream of ours to go on an extended road trip, but it has been simmering in the back of our minds for years. Perhaps it was the Air Force. We've always enjoyed traveling, and we thank the Air Force for stationing us on both coasts and in between as DH served in Washington state, Maine, California, Upper Michigan, and North Dakota. However, along the way we acquired 7 kids, and our travel was mostly limited to moving from one base to another. Vacations were camping trips spent in the wonders of God's beautiful creation, and we enjoyed nature from a variety of tents and campers. In the mid 90's when the kids left us with an empty nest, we just borrowed grand kids for a couple of weeks and vacationed in a tiny pick-up camper and a small trailer. About 6 years ago we purchased a nice used motor home so we then were able to include my mom and sister on our trips, too.

Then several years ago, DH started talking about retiring to a life of full time RV living. I wasn't too excited about it at first, but the idea grew on me. It did sound like a good idea to simplify our lives and get rid of some stuff. Soon we were looking at RV's online, attending camper shows, and visiting dealers. Though I was hesitent at first, in the end I was the one who suggested we retire early rather than wait until we were 66. So about a year ago we both submitted our intent to retire notices to the college where we both work, and our planning began for real.

Fast forward to the present: The house was put on the market and sold within a month. We ordered our 5th wheel, and purchased a truck. We now have a new address through a mail forwarding service, and are busy letting everyone know that address, our cell phone numbers and our new email addresses. DH's work buddies had a party for us, and our small college recognized us at the spring family picnic. Friends are expressing jealousy, and promising to keep in touch. And I fall into bed exhausted every night from sorting, throwing and packing. I have a pile for give away, a pile to pack for the RV, a pile to pack for storage, and a big pile that I can't decide what to do with.

The plan for the next week and a half is this: Go to work until May 31 when we have our exit interview and are actually done! Meanwhile, we move out of our house next weekend, take a day or two to do some cleaning, and close on this house on the 30th. We hope to rent a room in our college guest house for a couple of nights until we can pick up the RV and pack it up. Then, sometime during the first week or so of June, we are loading up two grand kids, the Dude age 11 and the Redhead age 13, and are taking off on the Big Road Trip with our first destination being Alaska.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Beginning

Dunn Bros: My daughter, Kari, is helping me set up this blog. Stay tuned for the adventures of Sage and DH (dear husband) as we set out on our permanent vacation, also known as retirement!