All of today’s photos are scenes from our explorations around Traverse City. Hover your cursor on any photo to see the caption.
Leaving the Northwestern Michigan Fairgrounds, after 11 days exploring northwestern “lower” Michigan, we said goodbye to friends (and Boomers) Priscilla and Bill Scott (AZ), and to the friendly hosts, Henry and Kaye (LA). Boomers Edmund and Margie Strickler (TX) spent two nights there earlier in our stay and we enjoyed reconnecting with them.
At our next stop, Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman, on the other side of the state, we’ll reconnect (briefly) with Linda and Howard (RV-Dreams.com), a couple we first met in Quartzsite, AZ… and I think a Boomer couple is at the resort, too. More visiting!
Why do I mention all this? A recent post on “A Camp Host Housewife’s Meanderings” got me thinking about loneliness and friendships on the road. Levonne was feeling the blues over the 4th of July, away from family and friends as she and her husband are hosting at a campground in Morro Bay, CA.
Odel and I first traveled in Michigan in summer of 2003, 3 months after we left Sacramento, California. We knew NO ONE, anywhere we went. A long stay in one place for us was 3 days; we often stayed just one. All the new sights kept us from being lonely, but after several months on the road, we began to realize that we needed a way to make friends – friends who shared our lifestyle and interests, friends we might meet again someday.
Fast forward to 2010. Not more than a couple of weeks have gone by without visiting with friends or family during our travels across the country this year. Lonely? Never! How’d that happen?
We joined the Escapees RV Club before we began fulltiming, and in 2003 we joined the Boomers, a group of Escapees who “share a youthful mindset”, who travel frequently, hike, bike, and gather regularly for “Boomerangs”, planned or spontaneous rallies.
New Year’s Eve of 2003 found us in the desert outside Yuma, warmly welcomed by dozens of Boomers, all new-to-us faces. We continued to meet with Boomers whenever we could, attended a couple of Escapee “Escapades” (big rallies), and connected with other campers in campgrounds we visited. Not too many years later, our challenge was not finding friends along the road, but making certain we carved out enough “alone” time. :)
It is easy to find friendly folks in campgrounds everywhere, but I think Levonne was missing the deep friendship that comes with not just shared interests, but shared memories. Whether moving to a new town or moving around the country, it takes time to find your new friends and build those new memories: the hike over the Continental Divide when the skies opened; learning to construct an earthen oven out of “found” materials, and enjoying the pizza later; New Year’s Eve fireworks in the desert; climbing the big sand dunes in Colorado, and screaming as we rode a “sand buggy” over the dunes in Oregon; burgers on the grill after a winter hike in sunny Arizona; walking the sugar sand beaches of Florida; talking and laughing late into a cold winter night during a reunion of friends in Bisbee.
It look a little effort to find our new circle of friends - but mostly it took time. For me, each year of fulltiming is better than the last: we understand our motorhome better, we understand our own needs better, and we’ve made many lasting friendships that deepen over time and shared experiences (helped along by technology that allows us to keep in touch with far-flung friends).
Now, seven years and almost 100,000 miles later, we have many more friends than we did in our working lives, and we’re grateful we can live a lifestyle that brings us into contact with so many great people doing so many interesting things. I love how our “neighborhood” has grown!
A funny postscript: I wrote this as we traveled from Traverse City to Hillman. When we arrived and began setting up in our new site, the neighbors introduced themselves – and they are fulltimers, from Sacramento, CA, our prior hometown. Such a small world, really!