Our first camp is Oak Park, Navarro Mills Lake, southwest of Corsicana, Texas.
I stop the PTV at the entrance gate, show my Senior Pass, pay $18 for two nights, and find that my campsite is #22, right next to Paul and Reine at #23. I drive on and spot them both coming out to the road. I jump out of the PTV and we see each other, face-to-face, for the first time. It is such a boost to be welcomed by experienced campers!
I look around in wonder. Huge oak trees make shady sites with a lawn of grass extending about 100 feet to the water. Each table is under a shelter. I see that most of the sites are empty. Good. I don’t need spectators for the backing-in.
Paul does an excellent job coaching me.
I maneuver the PTV by keeping my hand on the bottom of the steering wheel so the camper moves in the same direction that I move my hand. After about three false starts and some adjustments, the rig is in place!
What a spectacular campground!
Spike and Bridget scramble to get out to see and smell.
After the excitement of picking up the trailer at the Rice factory, going through orientation, and driving to the first camp, I realize I made it to our first camp and exhaustion hits me full force. It’s all I can do to level the trailer (under Reine’s guidance) and chock the wheels. I don’t even have the energy to plug into electric or hook up the water. Paul jumps into action, taking care of the necessary connections, while Reine leads me to their camper for a glass of water and air conditioning.
Once I get my “second wind,” I walk the crew down to the water’s edge.
I do believe Spike is a water spaniel inside a rat terrier’s body!
We walk down a small slope onto the sand and Spike doesn’t even slow down. Straight into the water he goes and plops down for a good soak! Bridget and I wade nearby.
It’s hot, yet not nearly as humid as Georgia. I watch the little waves caressing Spikey’s belly and thank God for bringing us to this place.
Later I sit in Reine and Paul’s Freedom Casita and watch her fix marinated chicken kebabs with green pepper and onion pieces. Paul’s got the propane grill going. Reine checks on the baked potatoes in her microwave.
The crew and I attempt to be useful by taking the trash down the road to the dumpster. When we come back, we go down to the water again. We’re like little kids playing while supper is being prepared. Spike again hurries to lie down and luxuriate in the tepid water. He really is taking to this campground life! Bridget is enjoying herself, too, although she tires more easily. I’m hoping our daily walks will help us both shed some weight. Reine calls us, “Dinner’s ready!”
And it is delicious!
The kebabs are grilled to perfection. We put butter, shredded cheese and potato seasoning on our baked potatoes. The lettuce and tomato salad is crisp despite the heat, and the iced tea is cold and good. Dessert is cake topped with Reine’s peaches she and her mother had “put up.” All the while we’re eating, the crew watches us from the exercise pen, which, by the way, is turning out to be an important part of canine management.
There’s no way I can thank these folks enough.
It would take too much space here to list all the other thoughtful things they have done for me.
We say goodnight and go to our homes-on-wheels.
Bridget and Spike munch happily on their supper and curl up on the bed. (Bridget needs a butt-boost up.) I turn on the tv just to see if we get some channels . . . yes, a good signal. I turn it off to go online and write. I get a kick out of all the comments. It seems like we have a bunch of friends and family along with us! Then I turn out the light and curl up next to the sleeping crew, reviewing the day, until I, too, am fast asleep.
What a wonderful first day of the rest of my life!
Sue, I so enjoyed your first day…may you have hundreds more just like it…keep your child eyes open to all that your new found freedom offers.
Glad you enjoyed our first little adventure!
Congrats, have you as favorite on Google Reader and will be enjoybf the posts
Hello, Big Marty!
Thanks and welcome to my blog. I love being a favorite!
Thank you, Sue! It has been such a treat sharing your plans and excitement. You have been incredibly patient, at least outwardly, waiting for your life plans to shift gears. I appreciate and enjoy your photos; they add dimension to your comments. Don’t be concerned what others may think about your backing up experience; who cares? Your camping skills will become what you want them to be through trial and … experience. When I first purchased my Trillium I made the mistake of driving too much and not spending enough time in each beautiful place I encountered. At $11. per night at that lovely campground it will be a lot less expensive to relax there than to burn gas driving. But hey, you’re retired and you have your home and crew with you. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. What a life. Congratulations!
To tell the truth, I’d be content to stay here for another week. My tendency is to go too slow! I need to get off my behind and have adventures.
Oak Park is only $9 a night for me with the Senior Pass. Gee, if I spend only $9 a night I could keep campground costs under $300 a month which is pretty good for my budget. I hope there are plenty of COE campgrounds as nice as this one.
You are absolutely right…. “what a life.” I’m happy to hear you are enjoying the blog!
OMG, Sue! It’s gorgeous! Your new life is gorgeous! This is so FUN 🙂 Strong hugs, indeed!
I know! This place is absolutely perfect!
I drove by American RV on the way here. That’s where some people park the first night with their Casita because the people running it are very helpful. However, at this time of year it looks like one big, hot parking lot.
It’s relatively cool here and scenic wherever you look. Fish are jumping in the lake, a slight breeze blowing . . . I never imagined it could be this nice. I’m not only new to fulltiming, I’m new to camping! How’s that for jumping in with both feet?
Oh, Sue! It’s a dream come true! I am grinning from ear to ear for you (and also covered in goose bumps). I “know” Paul and Reine from the Casita forums and they must be as genuinely wonderful in person as they are online. And kudos to Spike and Bridget for being such good sports!
What a great start to to your new life!
It certainly is my dream come true! I am euphoric right now. I’m going to have to remind myself that bad things will happen in this life, just as in any life. For now though, I am enjoying every minute and counting my blessings.
Paul and Reine are unbelievable. Reine has given me so many suggestions on how to manage in a small space and lots of little tips that make a world of difference in everything from keeping the toilet smelling fresh to monitoring the temperature of the fridge.
I wish for you, Kim, a happy beginning like this when you get your Casita . . .
oh, please do share all the tips and tricks… maybe you can have a “sidebar” for that kind of thing?
See nothing to it you’ll be a pro in no time 🙂
All this backing and hooking up this and that will be “Old Hat” in a few days ! Look at all the fun your having now and you just started !!!
You’re so right! This isn’t a test or a contest!
Sue, I actually cried…. tears of joy…. to see you at long last in YOUR Casita embarking on your dream. And how precious to have Paul and Reine there to make sure you got off to a good start.
All my very best to you and the doggies. 🙂
Thank you, Sharon. You are picking up on my happiness! At long last, at long last, here we are . . .
Hi..I came over from Kim….to see your very first day with your new Casita..what a treat!..How kind of your friends to be there for you on your first night…looking forward to reading your past and future posts
Hello, ain’t for city gals!
Welcome to my blog and to my life!
Paul and Reine made my introduction to this life stress-free. And they only knew me online when they decided to camp here to be waiting for me. They are very kind indeed.
I hope you continue to enjoy my posts!
OMG!!! What a sight! Your new Casita all set up at a real campsite!!! All sounds almost too good to be true. Hooray for you and your crew! So need to have seasoned Casita owners to meet and help and FEED YOU to boot! That’s what I love about campers! Can’t wait to join you one day!!! Enjoy just chillin’ for a couple of days! patti
Unreal, isn’t it. Good friends, good food, good living . .. can’t beat it.
It’s like I finally got the Barbie dream house I always wanted! LOL
OH MY!!!!!!! What a beautiful place!!!!!! I am so happy for you and the crew. Like Kim, I am grinning from ear to ear and like Tiny Camper, I have tears of joy in my eyes
Jerold thinks we should join you!
Come along! Let’s start a caravan! Then Jerold can learn how to dump the tanks, instead of me. . . . learning to dump, not Jerold dumping me. Oh, what the heck, you know what I mean!
Believe it or not…we weren’t confused by what you said. LOL
I also wanted to thank Paul and Reine for taking such good care of you!! How absolutely wonderful of them!!!
They have been incredibly helpful. You haven’t heard half of what they have done for me.
Congrats Sue & k9 crew! I’m so happy for you guys and glad to see you survived your first back-in. I just looked on the map and see that you guys are barely 4 hours north of me on i35.
Steve, if you are only four hours away, you need to come to this place. The lake is large and the fish are jumping. You can’t see how big it is in my photos because we are on an inlet or cove area.
A few more campers have come in, yet it is mostly empty. Maybe the campground on the other side of the lake is more popular — Liberty Hill — it’s a bigger campground. I like it here because there is lots of shade. It’s clean and pretty here.
I found 224.1 inches for the length of the ptv.
So I come up with 36′ overall.
Thanks for doing the math. As a retired math teacher, I’m glad to let someone else do the figurin’ for now!
I am very happy for you. The entire rig looks like you are an old pro at this life on the road thing. Many happy miles and wonderous adventures to you and the crew.
I’m so proud to read you think I look like an old pro at this, John. I do think the van/camper combination, both white, looks confident and strong.
Thank you for your good wishes.
Perfect place for you and the crew! Can’t believe you have a “water dog”! Too funny—my pugs would never be that “cool”!
I’m so proud of all you are doing—I am living vicariously through you!
Go Sue, Go!!
I couldn’t believe how determined Spike was to get in the water. He looked like he’d been doing this all his life. I’ve learned I can’t take him near the water without him getting in and lying down. Then he doesn’t want to leave (just like a kid!). So I have to pick him up and carry him out. Bridget did sit down in it for a few seconds. She likes to prance around with me at her side in water almost up to her belly.
I’m very happy for you Sue.
I hear you Mike.
How awesome!!!!! I am so excited for you. It sounds so peaceful already. Glad to hear that you arrived without problems. I bet you slept like a baby. Janie sends her love and so do we.
It’s nice to hear from you! I have not worried about Janie for one second. You made it possible for me to relax and enjoy without worry.
Yes, I did sleep like a baby. And I notice I’m not eating as much as I used to. I don’t know what it is. I thought all this fresh air and activity would work up an appetite. Reine says it’s because I don’t have the stress anymore.
I hope all is well with you. Hug Janie and Romeo for me!
I can not believe you are really gone. I’m both sad and happy that you are finally there.
But I’m not gone, not really . . .
There are times when I can’t believe I’m finally here. It seems unreal. No commitments, no schedules, no boundaries . . . complete freedom to choose what to do each and every day. I don’t think I totally grasp what that means.
All I know is I’m loving everything so far. No need to be sad, keep in touch!
Hi Sue – WOW you are on your way girl!! I really enjoyed your 1st day adventures and then some. You are so blessed to have your traveling companions to get you started on the right foot. Enjoy, enjoy.
Karen Dusha McKean
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed reading about my first day. If that is any indication of what my life is going to be like, I’ve got it made in the shade. Best wishes to you from Texas!
So glad you are in your beautiful new home. A toast – Here’s to millions more new days and adventures. Enjoy each and every one as it comes your way. Safe travels.
I do love my “beautiful new home.” I’m more thrilled with this little camper than any home I’ve ever purchased. I guess because it’s sitting on a huge yard that extends for miles in all directions.
Ahhhh! What a great day…
You and the crew are experienced full-timers now. Nothing beats enjoying life, with friends to share it with.
And the PTV and Casita look as if they are meant for each other.
Wonderful news, Sue
You said it well . . . the PTV and Casita do look as if they were meant for each other! LOL
I am particularly impressed by evidence in the picture that while hooked up the rear doors of the PTV open without hitting the tongue jack. I assure you, I could have bought that same combination, and they would have hit. Certainly the tailgate of my truck would have. That’s just the way my luck runs.
I held my breath the first time I pulled that back door open. It clears the handle for lowering the hitch by about 1 inch!
I am a retired JH principal. My wife and I travel in a motor home with two dogs and a cat. We have been full-timers for three years now. Welcome to a great lifestyle! We are happy to see that your first camping experience in the casita was a good one. Don’t worry too much about dumping. Put on some vinyl gloves and it is not that bad :-).
I agree with Roger & Dianne. Dumping is no problem if you have a box of vinyl gloves with you. I remember you bought a slinky support of some sort. You probably won’t use that. In most campers it is a bad idea to leave the slinky hooked up anyway, even if the sewer connection is right there. You will be tempted to leave the drain open. If you do, all the water drains out quickly and the solids clump up in there. The dreaded “black pyramids” appear. Yuck. If you never dump until you are at least half full, the tank is pretty self cleaning.
The direct connection to outside water is also a bad idea. You will probably never spring a leak if all your fresh water comes through your on board tank and pump. The pressure won’t test the plumbing.
You will need a 25-50 foot length of half inch garden hose to drain the gray water off into the bushes when camping in the boonies. That’s the tank that will fill up quickly, but most national forest camps don’t care if you drain it in place as long as it is away from the campsite and doesn’t leave a swamp for the next guy to deal with. There’s nothing in it but a tiny bit of suds and the dirt rinsed off your body. Sure beats jumping in the creek with a bar of soap and an early morning holler. You will need a drain cap with the half inch connection for the garden hose. That hose will also come in handy if you are ever in a place where they let you wash the rig on site.
Just make sure you don’t get distracted by the crew and open the black water drain into the garden hose. My memory is that the Casita has separate gray and black outlets, so that is unlikely.
But you probably already knew this stuff. Happy Trails to you.
Bob, rattling on.
Hello, Roger and Dianne,
Welcome to my blog! Thank you for reassuring me about dumping. I’ve got to take care of that very soon!
Sounds like full-timing is working out for you.
Sue, last night I was remembering all the stress you have been under waiting for the house to sell, packing, picking up the Casita, and I’m sure trying to organize the trailer and PTV. And I imagine all of that has taken a big toll on you emotionally and physically.
Why not consider staying in one place long enough to get rested and organized. It would probably do you a world of good to recharge your batteries. Then you could go bounding off to explore the world rested and refreshed.
Just a suggestion based on how overwhelmed I would feel in your shoes… if I were so lucky! Feel free to disregard this very unsolicited suggestion! 🙂
The three days at Hood’s Creek Lake were heavenly. The crew and I took a morning nap (of course we were up and about at six a.m.!) and an afternoon nap on Fri. and Sat.
Sue Report…I just talked to Sue and she arrived at the campground where she and the crew are going to stay for the weekend safely. Unfortunately, there’s no Verizon service so she can’t use her aircard to post on her blog. She asked me to let everyone know so you won’t panic if she doesn’t post again till next Tuesday.
Paul and I saw her off this morning after two delightful days of camping next to her and helping her get adjusted to Casita life. She’s doing fine and I’m sure will use her time this weekend to rest and get really well organized just like tinycamper suggested. The AC in the Casita works great so she and the crew can stay inside when it’s really hot and just go outside when necessary to walk the crew or retrieve a box from the PTV.
Bob, the sewer connection cap for the Casita does have a smaller hose connection she can use when she’s in places that allow gray water discharge. We’re headed out to Arizona this fall for some dispersed camping so will remember to take along a garden hose to use for that purpose.
Thanks, Reine, for reporting for me . . . I’m writing this a few days later, now that I’m back online.
Thanks for letting us know and also for helping her learn about her trailer. 🙂
Thanks for the report, Reine. We worry so!
Reine and Paul, I’m not even involved in this, but I am so impressed and happy at all you have done to get Sue off to a good start.
Sue, glad you are taking some down time. Can’t wait until you resurface! 🙂
Hey folks, it was our pleasure to help Sue a bit. She’s such a fun person and it gave us a good excuse to “get out of Dodge” for a bit. Besides we found a really great campground at Oak Park. Since we live within a couple of hours drive, it will be one we return to again. This was the first time we’d camped at a Corp of Engineers park and we’re really impressed, especially with the prices with the geezer (senior) pass.
I read all your posts chronologically from the beginning. Whew! Glad you are on the road safe and sound. Look forward to your future posts.
I’m so proud that you’ve read all my posts! Yeah, double-whew! It’s been an adventure just getting ready to have this adventure!
What a beautiful place to camp. It sounds like you are enjoying it very much. Hugs and nose kisses for you all!
Both Navarro Mills Lake and Hood’s Creek Lake are beautiful campgrounds. They got us off to a great start.
Ok at what point in time to we begin to ‘worry’?
Susan called this morning and it was wonderful to hear her sound so happy. As Reine reported, she hasn’t been able to get internet service to write her blog but hopes to be able to soon. She was on the road when she called me,heading for another campground. She said that Texas was HOT. We are so grateful to all of you who have taken my sister “under your wings” and have helped her.
Thanks for reporting, Pauline, when I couldn’t. The drive here to Hood’s Creek Lake was interesting in that I saw miles and miles of those weird, three-bladed windmills all over the landscape . . . hundreds of them. I’m all for wind power, but they do look spooky. I don’t know why. I guess because they are so alien sticking up from the Texas scrub. Creepy.
When the lady at the gate said they have WiFi, I almost hooted. As you know, I’m not the hooting type . .. but I almost did!
WiFi is a good thing. Saves usage on your air card.
Especially good when Verizon wants me to download something at MY expense.