Monday, November 10, 2014

Stepping up to the plate

Barbara and I are from UK originally. We were born and raised near Liverpool England. We were actually born in the same hospital! Barbara lived at the top of the hill where the posh people came from. I lived at the bottom of the hill where the gangsters, drunks and other assorted malcontents came from.
Fortunately we both attended the same church (which was halfway between our houses) and we even sang in the choir at the same time (but didn't know each other at the time). Eventually we met at the church youth club. We dated a while then Barbara went off to college and I started as an apprentice in the local shipyard.
I had been riding motorcycles since I was 16 and she didn't completely ignore me despite that! 
When I bought a big 650cc BSA she came along with me and we started travelling. In 1968 we set out on a huge adventure with two friends Steve and Jenny. We rode the bikes to Harwich and took a boat to Holland then rode thru Belgium, Luxemburg, France and into Switzerland then back thru Germany and Belgium to home. We both enjoyed all the aspects of the trip. It lit the fire.

Liege Belgium 1968

Same spot 2006

After Barbara completed college we got serious and were married in 1971 when we were both 21 years old. I had excellent training in the shipyard and as soon as I was qualified I was sent to another shipyard about 150 miles away on loan. We'd only been married a couple of months and I deserted her! A year or so there and I returned home only to hear from a friend about freelancing as a contract designer. Off I went again to the south of England and a 300 mile each way commute at weekends. She still didn't divorce me!
I used to smoke back then and the drawing office was upstairs while the cigarette machine was downstairs. One Thursday morning I was walking past the payphone in the lobby heading towards the cigarette machine when the phone started ringing. Being a nice guy I picked it up. The person on the other end asked for "Alex Bone" I didn't know who that was and told the guy he'd called a shipyard and there were over 2000 people who worked there. He asked me to try and find Alex and give him a number to call. Oh and what did I do? When I told him I was a designer he offered me a job in Holland making 3 times what I was getting, but I had to start on the coming Monday. I couldn't just quit without notice but he said he could wait a week and go hand in a weeks notice.
A week later I started work in a Dutch shipyard, the guy at the next desk was Alex Bone! Barbara quit her job and joined me. We were on our way.
Since then we have travelled for work and for fun. We like to travel!! We lived in Holland on several different occasions totalling about 5 years. We spent 6 months in Canada (Until the winter came!!).
I was in Brazil for 6 months and we met up in Florida for our re-union in 1976. Barbara had organized a rental RV for a month. It was our introduction to the USA and RV'ing.

We met the most friendly and amazing people in the RV (Actually it was a TransVan but we thought it was HUGE until we saw a class A!!). That vacation sat in the back of our minds for a long time.
We had always camped when out on the motorcycle. I love tent camping, Barbara puts up with it. That didn't stop us riding various motorcycles thru Norway, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Switzerland, Andorra, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, West Germany, East Germany and Poland (All before the fall of communism).
After 11 years of married bliss things got even better when our daughter Sally arrived! We bought a car and she came along to England, Holland, Germany and Denmark.
In 1983 I was offered a job in the US with a shipyard in Louisiana and off we went again! New Orleans was OK but the shipyard was not the best place I ever worked so when another shipyard in San Diego CA offered me a great deal to work for them we moved to San Diego. 
San Diego was heaven for a couple of years, and our son Fred was born there, but another offer came up and we found ourselves in Baltimore Maryland on the east coast. That one led to a series of jobs around Washington DC until I settled in one company. We lived there for 25 years and I have over 20 years with the same company.
A friend of mine in the office tipped me off that the company was looking for somebody who would move to San Diego to support a client there. The kids were grown, Sally was married and had moved to our home town in the UK! Fred didn't want to leave his friends in Maryland but was old enough to be independent. But would Barbara want to uproot everything after all those years in one place? I told her of the chance to go back to San Diego. She thought about for all of 30 seconds and asked when we were leaving!
In the years that we lived in Maryland we'd been to Canada several times to visit Barbara's relatives around Toronto Ontario, we'd ridden the motorcycle thru Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont (Our favorite state) Rhode island, Connecticut, New York. Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida and taken the same bike back to Europe for a glorious 6 week tour of all the countries we'd seen before plus Austria.

In case you think we're a couple of stay home fuddie duddies I also travel to ships as part of my job so I got to go to Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Bahrain, Dubai. Most of them several times.
So after the kids had grown up and moved out I decided it would be a great opportunity to get another big bike and go camping again. Barbara not so much. Then we stumbled across pop up tent trailers that you can tow behind a motorcycle and we were off again!

When to move to San Diego happened the company paid for me to fly out and start work, living in a hotel until we could find a place. Barbara came out and we found a house we liked and made an offer. The company shipped our furniture and we drove the F150 towing a trailer full of motorcycles and parts coast to coast. 
We left the motorcycle and camper with some friends and a couple of months later we flew back and rode the bike coast to coast camping along the way, adding New Mexico Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California to the list. For vacations we rode to Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Utah and Colarado.

We remembered the RV trip to Florida all those years ago and started to think that we could retire, buy a good sized RV and just drive it around the country! 
The closer we got to retiring the more determined we were to do it, so we started going to RV shows etc. Then we discovered that we weren't alone, other people were already doing it. Some for decades! Some friends introduced us to the Escapees RV club and we all went to RV Boot Camp together in Congress Arizona. 
By the second day of the event we were ready to leave RIGHT NOW!!! 
We started looking for the RV we wanted at the price we could afford. We ended up buying a used 1999 Rexhall 36`1/2' superbly maintained and one owner from new.

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