Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ho, Ho, Hallelujah!

Ho, Ho, Hallelujah!

Christmas Greetings
Doug and Chris Chartrand

As we sit under the palm trees gazing out at the birds soaring above the Florida lagoon, it hardly seems like the crazy pre-Christmas season of the past. This has been an amazing year of change; of letting go, of setting out, of discovering God's beautiful world as "RVentures" began. Since the majestic palms are reminding us more of Easter, our greeting to you this Christmas season is more appropriately, "Ho, Ho, Hallelujah!"

After healing up, selling our house, and temporarily going back to work (that wasn't in the plan), we enjoyed summer in Rochester while getting used to living in our RV. The promise/threat of colder weather had us hit the road in the beginning of October. The past three months of "RVentures" have taken us south to beautiful campsites on the shores of lakes, rivers, bayous, lagoons, and oceans. But more importantly then the wonderful locations, is the appreciation of the "gifts" we are able to experience daily ... the Hallelujah moments.

These Hallelujah moments in 2015 came in all forms....

  • Helping Chris' dad in his last earthly days and knowing that he is now enjoying a heavenly polka with Mom.
  • Enjoying time with siblings as we sorted through the years of memories and found treasures in the form of photos, letters, and stories.
  • Exploring the Minneapolis bike paths, meeting up with Kevin, and seeing his excitement as he continues to enjoy "living the dream".
  • Coming back "North" at Christmas to see Adam graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and start to plan his career in property management.
  • Working through the struggles and discovering the joys that come with living in small living quarters on wheels.
  • Appreciating the fact that these close quarters come with a massive, ever-changing "back yard". 
  • Realizing that there is nothing better than spending time with your best friend.
  • Chronicling "RVentures" with photos and stories on our blog, "RVentures with Doug and Chris". We hope you are able to follow along at  www.dougchartrand.blogspot.com. Fill in your email address on the right side of our blog home screen, and you will get an email notice when we add a new post.

So dear friends, our Christmas wish is that you too can savor and enjoy all the Hallelujah moments in your life ... and that we can stay connected in friendship no matter where "RVentures" take us.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas
many Hallelujah moments in 2016!

Chris and Doug

"A Hallelujah Christmas" by Cloverton from Ross Wooten on Vimeo.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Panama City Gems: Beaches, Wildlife and Friends

It's a busy time of year, but we want to make sure that we share with you the "gems" we discovered when we visited Panama City, Florida at the beginning of December.

One of these "gems" was our home for ten days at St. Andrews State Park. From the lusciously forested sites to the miles of pristine beach to the menagerie of birds and marine life, each day brought new beauty.

Whether enjoying the sunrise over the Grand Lagoon or the sunset over the Gulf, the "gem" of wonderful weather provided many opportunities to explore the park.

On our walks we encountered "gems" of wildlife that shared the state park with us. We enjoyed frequent sightings of deer, lizards, blue herons, and dolphins (far in the distance). 

The "gem" of friendship proved to be the most valuable and enjoyable part of our visit to Panama City. I was able to reconnect with a dear friend from my college days. What a gift to be able to share stories and laughs ... as well as her kitchen for a Christmas cookie bake-a-thon!  

Doug and I were so grateful to be able to experience the local "gem" known as Southern Gospel music. When we attended the Gold City Reunion concert, we appreciated that we were able to enjoy an aspect of Southern culture that we would not have found on our own.

With Christmas approaching, we left the Wildebeest nestled among the magnolias and grapefruit trees as we travel north to celebrate our son's graduation and the holidays. 

RVentures will take us away for a few weeks from the land from the land of "sandmen" ... and thanks to "El Nino", we have not yet spotted a "snowman"! 

 Until next time ... seek out the "gems" ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Million Dollar Views of the Timpoochee Trail

Our friends told us about a biking trail along the quaint seaside village not far from our current location. With the sun shining and temps in the 70s, we decided that RVenture today would be to try out the Timpoochee Trail.

The Timpoochee is an 18 mile trail that parallels the Gulf along Hwy 30a. It passes through cute vacation villages and near the fairly rare ecological treasures known as "dune lakes". 

These lakes have variable contact with the Gulf of Mexico, so the water conditions can vary from fresh to salt water producing a unique and always changing ecosystem. Love it when we can enjoy God's million dollar views ... free for the peddling.

Eight miles down the trail, we came to the very cute town of Seaside. This master-planned community was where most of the filming of the Jim Carrey movie "The Truman Show" took place. The million dollar views now consisted of pastel houses, paved roads, lamp-shade light posts, palm trees and flowering bushes in pine needle gardens.

The "cuteness" was just beyond my belief...I was so glad that we were on our bikes, so that we could slowly take in all the charm of this community.

Community parks, swimming pools, shopping centers and chapels shared the same charming architectural style. I am glad that Doug kept track of our location as I quickly got lost in utopia.

No speeding allowed!

The community chapel

A matching home for  the Wildebeest!

Doug knows me well enough ... the only way to get us to continue on our ride is to find the ice cream shop. Keeping with the million dollar theme, the mocha gelato was worth every penny!

Our next stop was Grayton Beach. I never tire of the million dollar views as we walk the miles of sandy white beaches!

Days are still getting shorter, so it was time to head back to our starting point. 

And back to our campsite at Saint Andrews State Park for sunset on the beach ... the best kind of million dollar view!

Until next time ... look around you ... and enjoy all the million dollar views in your life!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Big Question: How do you get mail???

It's beginning to look like Christmas ...

And with the approach of the holidays, come the thoughts of working on our annual Christmas picture and greetings.

Which brings us to the most asked question when we talk to people about RVentures and the nomadic lifestyle:

"How do you get mail when your "home" is continually on the move?"

Well, the easiest answer ... and the philosophy that we are trying to embrace is: through the electronic environment. Email, Facebook, our blog, telephone, and texting is helping us stay connected with dear family and friends.

While we would love to be able to have the postman find the Wildebeest in whatever sweet camping spot we find ourselves, Uncle Sam wants to stay connected with us via a "permanent" address. Thus, we have chosen Florida for our "home" or domicile state after weighing the various benefits of no state taxes, good healthcare, beautiful climate, presence of family, and likelihood of having YOU want to visit us someday!! 

Florida, Texas and South Dakota are the three most popular choices for crazy people like us. Thus, they have a few companies that, for a fee, will give us a physical address and handle the snail mail that we receive.

After some research, Doug chose St Brandon's Isle (SBI) mail service who, for a monthly fee, provides us with our Florida address and handles the mail that we receive. We are residents of Green Cove Springs ... sounds lovely ... maybe we will visit someday :-)

Before we started our travels, Doug did a great job of decreasing the amount of physical mail that we received. He worked hard to get newsletters, bank statements, bills and other physical pieces of mail to be changed over to electronic submission.

Take a moment to look at that pile of mail that is on your table, desk, counter, or overflowing onto floor. One of the BEST benefits of this lifestyle is that I no longer have that dreaded mail pile.

When we get a piece of mail sent to our "address" at Green Cove Springs, the SBI staff scans the envelope front and sends us an email. At that point, we can decide to:

  • Have them open, scan in the contents and send the scanned contents to us.
  • Send it to us unopened (provided we will be at an address that is easy to receive our mail).
  • Have them shred it unopened.
Of course, each of extra services is an added fee, so we prefer to get the electronic version whenever possible.

But, Christmas is coming, and we, like you, LOVE receiving those wonderful Christmas cards, letters and pictures. So, please email, message, phone, or text us, and we can provide you with the best "temporary" address for us.

We will be heading up to Minnesota in a few weeks for Adam's college graduation ... how fast they grow!

We are also looking forward to visiting and celebrating Christmas with friends and family... and deliver our holiday greetings in person to many of you. Let me know if you want me to invade your kitchen for a holiday bake-a-thon! 

So until next time ... throw that pile of junk mail away ... and enjoy the Holiday adventures in your life!