Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our First Stop -- Nashville, NC

We arrived in Nashville, NC on December 20, the home of Alissa, Matt, Sarah, Jordan and Dalton. They live in a rural area on a mini-farm with chickens, goats, hunting dogs, ducks, guineas and even a turkey. They also raise a garden and enjoy cooking and eating fresh veggies. We have not lived near Alissa in 18 years. She is an awesome cook -- a Rachel Ray protege.  She even has RR orange cookware, and unfortunately, I'm sure we have gained weight eating dinner with them every night.

We had a quiet Christmas and New Year. As this will be our "base-home," we have spent the past month  establishing ourselves with various doctors and have been very busy with appointments. Alan has been diagnosed with early Glaucoma and started on eye drops. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008.  I have had some problems with my left knee that the doctor tells me is degenerative arthritis.  Today is the first day in over a month it hasn't hurt all day, but other than that, I'm pretty healthy, but of course I need to lose weight.

We have visited several churches in the area.  I thought AR was in the south, even tho it is centrally located.  I guess because people often describe Arkies as "southerners" and "hillbillies" and say we have southern accents.  However, I'm learning NC is definitely the south.  There is a church on every corner, but one church we visited -- no one even spoke to us or asked us our names.  Apparently, they do not have visitors often.  This past weekend we visited one of the  largest churches in the area with approximately 1400 in worship service on Sunday mornings.  Although it is bigger than our home church in AR, we liked it.  However, they had a guest speaker, so we didn't get to hear the pastor.  We plan on returning soon. 

After a doctor's appointment last week, Alan and I stopped at "The Diner" for breakfast.  A couple drove up in a truck, parked and came in.  We couldn't help but notice their front license plate that said, "Campers on Mission."  This interested us, but not wanting to interrupt their breakfast, we waited patiently.  I truly believe God places people in our path for a reason and I just could not walk away without speaking to them.  I introduced myself and inquired as to the meaning of their license plate.  Campers on Mission (COM) is a national fellowship of Christian Campers, working in cooperation with the Adult Volunteer Mobilization Unit of the North American Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Convention.  COM includes Christians of all denominations who want to share their faith and the love of Jesus Christ while camping or participating in mission activities.  The gentleman we spoke with is the past president of COM in this area.  We hope to learn more about this organization and may become members ourselves. 

One thing that catches our eyes as we drive down the road in this area is the many individual gravesites you see adjacent to people's homes. Some headstones look fairly new, but of course we cannot just walk in people's yards to check the dates. Apparently, some want their deceased loved ones to remain nearby.

Please be patient as I am still trying to learn how to blog .  I feel I am making progress, but it's a slow process and I don't yet feel very confident.  I can type -- that's no problem, it's the visual images, maps, etc. that I struggle with.  Hopefully, I will eventually understand it all. 

In the meantime, thanks for checking us out -- May God bless our family and friends and may God continue to bless our voyage. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We Begin Our Journey


Welcome to our new blog. Like many other fulltime RV'ers, we created our blog so our friends & family could follow along as we begin & continue our RV fulltime lifestyle. This is a dream we have had for a very long time & we believe how it all came about so quickly is nothing short of God's intervention in our life & He is leading us down the road. What He has planned for us we don't know, but we are excited about the future & what it holds for us.

We are Alan & Marilyn McMillan & we are new fulltime RV'ers. Since I am the more talkative one, I (Marilyn) will probably be the one writing most of the postings for this blog -- with Alan supervising, reading & editing every word:) This first post may be longer than normal -- please bear with us as we attempt to catch everyone up.

Just a little background -- Alan retired from the USAF in 1994 and we returned to our home state of AR to be near our family. Fifteen years later, our parents have passed & our three children -- Jon, Alissa & Adam along with our seven grandchildren -- live in three different states -- Jon currently in VA; Alissa in NC & Adam in OK. Our jobs kept us in AR, but little did we know how fast that would change.

I retired after 23 years as a civilian court reporter for the USAF in June 2008, the first step in beginning our dream of fulltiming. A dear friend sent me a blog of a fulltime couple and we started following their blog & soon sent them an email stating we were "wannabees." In August 2008, they made a stop in AR & we had the opportunity to meet them in person. What a blessing Paul & Margery Zeller have been in helping us prepare for our journey. They have been fulltiming since 2006. We thank Paul & Margery for their encouragement, for their prayers, for answering the many questions we had & continually have, never hesitating to offer advice on any topic when asked -- from residency changes, to how to use our washer/dryer combo, to where they purchase accessories for their MH, to television & computer coverage on the road, to how to create a blog, to what vacuum is best & everything in-between. We know God sent Paul & Margery our way to help fulfill His plan for us & we are blessed with their friendship & look forward to seeing them again "down the road."

We've always enjoyed camping & traveling & fulltiming was something we wanted to do at some point, but never expected it to happen so quickly. We purchased our 2007 Winnebago Voyage in December 2008 but didn't tell anyone, not even our kids. If I remember correctly, we did tell the Zellers, as well as my dear friend, Charlcie, who, at the time, thot we had lost our minds!! The economy had begun its downward spiral, people were hurting & we did not want to appear prideful -- we were blessed. We now know purchasing our MH was one more piece of the puzzle of God's plan for us.

That brings us to mid-2009. We wanted to sell our house & move into the MH so we could save money to eventually live our dream, but what was the best way to accomplish that? Unemployment was climbing, the housing market had basically crashed, banks were hesitant to lend money -- we didn't owe much on our home & didn't expect to make a huge profit. We decided to auction -- it would be quick, the buyer would be responsible for paying the auctioneer, we wouldn't have to deal with accepting and/or counter-offering any offers -- all kinds of reasons why we should go the auction route. So, in August, we met with a realtor/auctioneer to discuss auction possibilities. In September, we again contacted the auctioneer to schedule the auction for October. At that time, he said if we would let him list the house, he felt it would sell during the month of October, that the only people buying were those who qualified for an $8000 govt credit. The first weekend in October, our dgt & son-in-law (Alissa & Matt) flew from NC to AR to help us get out of the house. Alan was working seven days a week as a production manager in an executive jet completion center & they had started their end-of-the year crunch. Alissa & Matt arrived @ noon on Friday & went straight to work. I had a flea market booth & had already sold some of our home furnishings. We separated everything -- pile for selling in my booth, pile for donating, pile to burn, etc. I had assigned a container for each child/grandchild, as well as my bro of pic, books, etc, I planned to give them. It was amazing the work Alissa & Matt did in such a short time. They flew back home on Sunday & there is no doubt -- we would NOT be where we are today without them making that trip in October & helping us. On the following Thursday evening, we met with the auctioneer/realtor & the sign went up in the yard. The following Monday -- YES, a short three days later -- he returned to our home with five offers. We were stunned, but again, it was all in God's plan. We accepted an offer of $4000 more than the listing price. I know we've seen that happen on HGTV but never in a million years did we expect that would happen in our tiny AR town. BUT again, God had a plan for us.

We went to work to find a place to park the MH. There was a small park (8 sites) adjacent to the Days Inn in Beebe, a short distance from our church. Every time we drove thru there, there were never any open spots. I had even called to inquire & was told they were always booked, but I took another drive thru & there was one open spot. I stopped & went in to inquire if it was available -- and guess what -- IT WAS!! And there was a storage area there as well. Another step in God's plan.

We worked very hard to get everything out of the house, donating more & the auctioneer/realtor came & loaded up whatever was left for an upcoming auction. The manager @ the Days Inn held our spot for three weeks before we actually moved the MH into it -- without charging us I might add. Things were happening very fast & we were amazed @ how quickly it all happened. Two days shy of 30 days from the listing we closed on the house. By this time, it was mid-November 2009. We had been actively working on our fulltime adventure less than six months. As a friend told me, "When God moves, He usually moves fast," but we were still amazed @ how quickly it had all come together.

Alan planned to retire in 2010, but due to the economy, there were layoffs where he worked. He learned there would be another layoff on 4 December. He told me he was being "led" to volunteer for any future layoffs and it would help someone else from losing their job. So on Monday, 30 November, Alan informed HR he wished to volunteer for any future layoffs. The following day his boss & HR rep came to discuss this decision. On Wednesday, they informed him his request had been approved & his name would be on the list for layoffs on Friday, 4 December. WOW, talk about life changing quickly -- we had gone from preparing to sell our house, to selling our house, to unemployment -- all in a matter of weeks. Again, we knew God was in control & was leading us every step of the way. Since Alan was required to layoff six individuals himself, he was not to discuss his layoff or pack anything in his office until "the deed" was accomplished -- mum was the word. He finally left his job for the last time around six the evening of 4 December & our fulltime adventure began.

We knew we could not tow our '04 F-150 and had been researching several possibilities and had settled on either a Ford Edge or Chevy Equinox. However, on Saturday, 5 December, for some reason, we pulled into the Honda dealer to look @ CR-Vs. I had previously driven an older model & had decided I did NOT want a CR-V. I drove an '07 & decided it wasn't too bad, so we went into the salesman's office to discuss it further. Those of you who know me know how much I enjoy talking, so I told the salesman he better make sure he came in with his bottom-line deal the first time around because I hated haggling over the price of a vehicle. While he was with the used car manager looking over the truck, Alan & I discussed what it would take to make the deal happen. The salesman returned with his manager & when he laid the deal on the table, he was $25 off what Alan & I had decided on. We took a minute to ourselves -- I looked @ Alan who said, "You think this is divine intervention?" My response, "I think we better take this deal," so we did. AGAIN, we felt God led us to this dealership to purchase our '07 Honda CR-V.

We had already planned to spend Christmas with our NC family. The next couple of weeks is a blur in my mind, as we made a daily list of things that had to be accomplished before we left the area. We completed the paperwork to set up our mail forwarding service in South Dakota and the paperwork to register the car & MH. We went out to the base to change our address & talk to Tricare. We ordered checks, we changed our address again with the post office -- just all kinds of things. On 16 December, we pulled out of our parking place @ the Days Inn & began our journey of living in our 38' motorhome fulltime.

Leaving our many friends, family members and our church family was painful. Having grown up in Little Rock, I still had elementary and high school friends I talked with & saw occasionally. I broke up "The Fab Four" -- four friends who shared a lot over the years, usually over dinner for one of our birthdays. I have twos bros and Alan has a bro and a sister in AR. We also have cousins we love dearly.  Our church family has our hearts, but we didn't tell everyone our plans -- we just wanted to go quietly without any fanfare. We miss our Sunday School class, my Biblestudy, working in the kitchen for Wednesday night meals, working at the outreach center, answering the office phones -- the list goes on and on. Thank goodness we live in the electronic age of cellphones and computers and can stay in touch with them all.

Hopefully, I will learn more about blogging, so I can share even more with everyone. For now, I hope I have caught everyone up on what's going on with the McMillans. I will sign off for now. Take care & may God bless & keep you & may God continue to bless our voyage.