Monthly Archives: January 2019

Finding Community

community_connectionsBack in the day, before we started this crazy nomadic life, I had a rich social life. I was a part of many communities: work, church, family, running group, volunteer work  —  just to name a few. I had good, long-time friends that I saw and interacted with on a daily or weekly basis. Going on the road has meant leaving that behind. Sure, we stay in touch through email, text and social media, but it’s not the same as having face-to-face meaningful contact. I’ve missed that.

Life on the road can seem isolating. Campers are a friendly bunch, but we are usually going in different directions, leaving little opportunity to make real connections. We did meet one couple on the road and have become great friends. That worked because our travels paralleled for a few weeks, giving us a chance to get to know each other. But that was the exception, rather than the norm.

Until we came back to Florida. Staying in one spot for this long (2.5 months), has given me the chance to settle in and make new friends. There are lots of organized activities here and people are so friendly and welcoming – I feel I’ve become part of a new community.  I see my friends at aerobics class in the morning, and meet the girls for games in the afternoon. I can take favorite dishes to the potlucks, bond over craft classes, and stop to chat as we pass each other during the day. I even have a family community nearby with our son, his girlfriend and her family. Every weekend we get together for food and fun. It’s been wonderful! It is a place that I can see myself returning to year after year.

Unfortunately, that is not to be. Sean and Marissa will be relocating this year for her residency program (somewhere in the US, TBD). I also learned during our stay that this KOA campground has been sold and will be closing April 1, 2020. Our new friends are all researching alternative winter homes, and many won’t be returning here next year. It seems a shame, but it’s understandable. This KOA location originally was well outside of town, but explosive growth has surrounded us and turned this property into very valuable land. It makes business sense to sell.

Friday we say goodbye to our new friends and move on. We are going to spend a couple of weeks visiting and re-connecting with our old friends in South Florida. That will be wonderful too!

Staying here has been a learning experience. I’ve learned that I NEED time to be part of a community, for at least some of the year. Remote interaction can only go so far. I can get that sense of community by staying near friends and family for some extended period of time (more than just a week or two). Or we can actively seek out campgrounds that have similar opportunities to interact and meet people. They are out there, we just have to find them and work that into our plan. If I can just feed that part of my soul sometimes, then the rest of the time we can fly free and adventure.

The possibilities are endless.

Doing Disney: Candlelight Processional

One of Disney’s most popular holiday events is Epcot’s Candlelight Processional. This presentation of the sacred Christmas story in narration and song originated more than 60 years ago in Disneyland. Migrating to Disney World in the 1970’s, it has evolved over the years to become the beloved show it is today.

The Candlelight processional cast consists of a full orchestra, a Disney Cast member choir (the green robed “tree”), guest choirs garbed in gold robes, and a celebrity narrator. The Processional showings begin before Thanksgiving Day and extend past Christmas – with 3 shows per day, every day. With so many shows, there are multiple celebrity narrators that participate 2 or 3 days each as well as many guest choirs.

The Processional is located in the American Pavilion, part of Epcot’s World Showcase. It is unbelievably popular, especially for shows with favorite guest narrators. Jeff and I had attended last year, but I definitely wanted to go again. Due to its popularity, the only way to guarantee seating to a performance is to purchase a “Candlelight Processional Dining Package”. This involves making dining reservations at one of a selection of Disney sit-down restaurants. For a modest up-charge over the normal cost of dining, you are guaranteed seating at a selected show. I hadn’t planned to go the dining package route this year, but changed my mind when I saw people queuing up at noon in the Stand-By line for a 5 pm show! I checked the website and snagged a lunch reservation and a 5 pm show time slot just two days in advance. To add to the excitement, the guest narrator was to be Neil Patrick Harris, a fan favorite narrator!

IMG_5029Our lunch reservation was for the Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot’s Morocco. It doesn’t seem to be as popular a dining location, perhaps because the food is more exotic than the norm. But we had a delicious lunch, enjoying the belly dancer and Moroccan music as we dined. We couldn’t linger too long over our mint tea, it was soon time to queue up for the show!

Entering the theater as part of the guaranteed dining package line, we were able to snag prime seats in the middle of the theater – perfect for viewing the large stage. The show is primarily the re-telling of the classic Christmas story of Jesus’ birth and is chock full of classic carols. Hearing the familiar carols and watching the choirs process into the theater, candles in hand, just gave me happy tingles. Neil Patrick Harris was a superb narrator. Not only is he an accomplished actor/singer/dancer, he was celebrating his 11th straight year as a Processional narrator. This has become a part of his family’s Christmas tradition! He was relaxed and entertaining, but respectful of the material. I even saw him singing along during the Hallelujah Chorus! I can see why he is a fan favorite. I loved, loved, loved the show from start to finish! It was over all too soon.

It’s simply a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season!

Where this all began ….

This is a Throwback Thursday Post!  For  my new subscribers (most of whom don’t know us personally), this is a re-post of my very first blog entry back in 2016. At that time, we were still working, planning, and dreaming of the life we now live. As we enter a new calendar year of adventure, it seems appropriate to revisit the factors that led us to our decision to launch this nomadic lifestyle.

Hi. We are Jeff and Mary Beth Northrup and this is the beginning of our fabulous full-time RV adventure! Well, at least it will be, once we free ourselves from the daily grind of normal life.

We’ve been dreaming and planning for this adventure for many years. More than 20 years ago, Jeff cut a photo of a motorhome out of the newspaper and put it on the refrigerator. “Wouldn’t that be a great life!”, he declared. At the time I was busy tending a more-than-fulltime job, two small children and an active volunteer life in our church. Retirement of any sort was so far in the distant future, it couldn’t even be imagined. But, as our boys grew, we became increasingly active outdoor adventurers. Our work life provided the means to pursue our real passions — hiking, camping, biking, running, motorcycling, and all things outdoors. RV living started looking very attractive.

So, being scientists, we conducted thorough research. We read books, perused blogs, visited RV shows and watched You-tube videos. We spent hours discussing options and scenario planning. Is this REALLY what we wanted to do? And we always circled back around to the conclusion – yes, it sounds perfect for us. So then, it was just a matter of timing. We would get the boys through school and launched and THEN we could go. We would save like crazy, and by then everything would be in place. It was a perfect plan.

Except things didn’t exactly go according to plan.

On June 7, 2012 our younger son was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 18. It was a freak accident – four teenagers heading out to an Everglades fish camp on a rutted gravel road on the first day of summer. The young driver hit a pothole, skidded, overcorrected and overturned into the swampy canal. 3 boys walked away, our son drowned before he could be rescued. It was the worst day of my life.

At that moment, everything changed. We had to re-formulate our whole life, including all of our plans. After walking through a dark time of grief, we re-visited our retirement plans and decided that we still wanted to go forward. In fact, we wanted to go sooner rather than later. Life is too short not to live it fully and joyfully.

So here we are – 4 years later. We’ve saved like crazy. Our only remaining son is successfully launched. We just need to untangle ourselves from the daily grind, and we can begin.

Fabulous Family Fun

Dear blog friends, I have been terribly remiss in my posting over the last few weeks! Between holiday preparations, Disney, travel, and family fun – it hasn’t left much time or inclination for blogging!

Currently, I am visiting family in chilly Indiana. I have 3 siblings, all of us in our 50s to early 60s. Although we scattered throughout the country in our youth, pursuing education and jobs, we have always – without fail – regrouped back home in Indiana for the Christmas holidays. We truly LIKE one another, and regularly coordinate our vacation travel plans to visit and spend time together during the year, whenever possible. What an incredible blessing.

We are also incredibly blessed that our parents are still with us. They are physically slowing down to be sure, but are in reasonably good health and mentally sharp. They remain the heart of our Christmas festivities.

During our week together we played silly games until we were breathless from laughing. We imbibed great wine and indulged in exceptional food — at marvelous restaurants as well as dishes prepared at home by loving hands. We conversed and caught up on the matters of life, great and small. We went shopping, caught movies, and simply enjoyed each others’ company. It was heavenly.

Some of us have traveled back to their home, but I have another few days here with the rest. I’ll tee up a Throwback Thursday post for tomorrow, and will get back on the blogging bandwagon when I return home this weekend. I plan to finish out my series on Holiday Disney and launch a few new topics!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a most joyous New Year!

2018 Christmas family