Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sara's Uncle Bill

For the last two nights we have called the Rustic Sands Campground in Mexico Beach “home.” When we pulled in on Sunday the office was closed but there was a note on the door instructing us to go ahead and pull into our site and settle up the bill when the office opened Monday morning. In front of the office was a board displaying the upcoming activities. We were in luck - there was a pancake breakfast the next morning for $4, poker at 6:30 pm and an ice cream social the following day. We were really starting to like this campground.

As we approached our site, we saw a small sandy driveway looking thing that had a wooden post displaying the number 32 – our site number. Next to our site, was an older model Tiffin (the same brand as our moho) and immediately we felt a connection to our neighbors. Our new neighbor, Shirley, was sitting outside and enjoying the cool breeze of her patio. Knowing that I now had an audience, I tried my best not to look like the two-week old virgin fulltime rv’er that I was and run over the water main or electrical box. Shirley approached us immediately and her polite conversation made us feel welcomed in the new neighborhood. We apologized for sticking our big monstrosity so close to her house which was now shading out her afternoon sunset and invading her patio. While we hooked up the necessary cables and hoses that turn our motorhome into a house, Shirley began introducing us to the area and the campground.

She and her husband, Bill, have been full timing for 14 years and have a deep affinity for the campground and its owners. They are “snowbirds” that hail from northern Illinois that enjoy the traveling lifestyle. Their journey to the south every year takes them 6 weeks because they like to stop and smell the roses. For one month every year, the sleepy little town of Mexico Beach becomes their home where daily chores include fishing, relaxing, enjoying the beach, eating at the local restaurants, and experiencing what life is. Shirley reads 5 newspapers a day while Bill terrorizes the fish on the pier. Even when they are “home” in Illinois, they still reside in their motorhome. Their children and grandchildren live in the area and Bill has a glow about him when he talks about them.

By late afternoon Bill, along with Shirley’s cousin’s daughter’s wife’s husband, came home from a fishing trip bearing a bucket of their bounty. Remember, we were parked in Shirley and Bill’s patio so while sitting at our kitchen table we had box seats to the activities occurring on their porch. Once we saw a dozen little flopping fish sitting on their picnic table and two fillet knives being sharpened we could not sit by idle any longer. Out the door we went. It turned out Bill was as nice and chatty as Shirley. He proceeded to reveal that half of what came out of his mouth would be the truth and the other half would be bull. Either way it was our job to figure out which was which. The more he talked, the more we knew this was not going to be an easy task. He was a Baptist Minister, an astronaut, and a famous country singers uncle. All we knew was that he was mastering the job of carrying on a conversation while filleting a fish the size of my house key. Not a drop of his blood was drawn by the sharp knife.

One thing Bill kept insisting was that he was a famous country singers uncle. We were skeptical and needed proof. He tried to prove his claim by showing us a sticker on the front window, a signed t-shirt, and an autographed picture. It turns out that Bill really is the famous country singer Sara Evans’ Uncle. Sara Evans came into the country music scene in the mid to late 1990’s and has numerous hits along the way. She has a quintessential country sound. Her sultry voice, country twang, and captivating smile have generated comparisons to some of the great ladies of country music. Sara Evans is, and has been, one of my favorite country music singers so I was eager to hear more about our neighbor’s niece.

We (especially Betsy) try to pick other fulltime rv’ers brains. There is so much more about living fulltime in a motorhome than we learned at a one-week rv college. The challenge for us at this park was getting the free 79 cable channels that the campground promised would come through the thin little wire connected to a wooden post. Bill eagerly arose to the challenge and obliged to help us. He and Betsy flipped buttons, reconnected wires, changed remotes and looked for relay boxes that all could lead to a quick fix. Meanwhile, Shirley told me the story about how Sara Evans’ career began and of her trials and tribulations during her recent 6-year hiatus from the music business. Once I was caught up on Sara, we switched gears to trip planning. Thanks to Shirley our route through North Carolina has been planned and we will not miss one grain of sand along the Outer Banks. Yes, Betsy and Bill did fix the cable problem. We fell asleep flipping between 79 channels.

Shirley gave us the dates of Sara’s concert schedule and told us to pick a city and expect tickets and back-stage passes.

We will never forget Bill and Shirley as we drive down the road with our autographed Sara Evans pictures on the dashboard and “Suds in the Bucket” playing on the radio.

The bounty!

Our Mexico Beach home.  Bill and Shirley's rv is on the left.

Rustic Sands Campground, Mexico Beach, Florida

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