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Greetings to all –

Just when you thought we must have fallen off the planet after no blog post in ages…well, too much information to share in one post, but will give you a little summary. I apologize for not having Ward’s zest but trying to summarize a year…well…who has time for that?! We are just going to go from this point forward….

Winter was spent in Whitefish, Montana and, you guessed it, it was one of the longest and most wicked winters on record! It literally never ended…summer began in July, winter ended at the end of June. So we learned how to “winter” in Ward, for sure.

Spring (yeah, right) was briefly spent in Columbia Falls, then Ward made the move to Marion, Montana (when we moved to Montana in 2001, Marion was where we originally settled in for 4 years).

The big news is that Ward and June got married and left us (sigh) but his Australian cousin, Joey, a 1993, 30 foot Fleetwood Bounder motorhome, will be our new home. Yes, Joey will keep you updated on the family and Ward will certainly be a guest poster sometimes. He still writes the family letters and loves to keep updated.

His personal story about his retiring from life on the road is right here:

“It was hard to do, eh…but June and I decided we were getting too old for this and needed to rest our wheels. We got “hitched” (get it?) and settled down in Montana, with a tearful goodbye to our human family. I was talking to my Australian cousin, Joey, and he said he’d love to take over my job. So the Layton family moved in. He is planning his own blog in the near future, featuring the crazy Layton crew…and I might drop a guest post once in awhile…I know I will be missed but this travel trailer needs to rest. Signing off for now, Your Beloved Canadian Travel Trailer, Ward”

Sadly, we lost our little Clementine July 6, 2011 – almost 13 years old – life on the road is lonesome without her but we know she had a great ride these last few years, having us around 24 hours/day.

Everyone is doing fine in the family – Cheyenne will be 17 this year!! Just amazing…

So sit tight because when Joey gets blogging this fall over on our new blog Cheap RVing, you will get more of us than you probably want…and Joey says “crikey! can’t wait to meet you! g’day!”

Folks!

Wow…it has been such a long time. The summer is flying by here in Montana. June and I are doing well and appreciate all of your cards, gifts and letters. My owners are doing great, too. They send their best wishes to you all.

My big news is: I GOT A JOB! Unfortunately, I don’t get paid for my hard work, but my owners, also known as the acoustic duo “One Less Karen” have decided to hire me to be their manager/booking agent. First, I am adorable so getting gigs will be extremely easy. Second, my owners cannot afford a REAL manager so I was their next best choice.

As my first OFFICIAL DUTY as manager, I have the task of informing you of upcoming gigs. Now, of course, you can go to the onelesskaren website, but this is more personal, don’t you think? I know some of you live too far to come to these shows, but many of my blog followers reside in the area, so why not, eh?

Here are the gigs, in no particular order. WAIT..that isn’t right…it is a calendar…I guess they SHOULD be in a particular order. Give me a minute to get them straightened out. I was about to put September first. Gosh…this job has a LOT of stress…I can tell already!

THE SHOWS – 2010

July 30, Molly Brown’s in Trego, MT 6-10pm

July 31, Private Party YOU ARE NOT INVITED SO FORGET THIS ONE

August 6, Hot Club in Troy, MT 7-9

August 10, Farmer’s Market in Whitefish, MT 5-730

August 13, Cafe Jax in Eureka, MT 6-9

August 21, Huckleberry Festival in Wallace, ID 11-3

September 3, Molly Brown’s in Trego, MT 6-10

How did I do? Hope you call can make it. Maybe I can be the tour bus, too? We can pack you all into old Ward here! Hope you are all having a nice summer. I will close with some photos taken by up-and-coming photographer, Cheyenne, of “Walk With Me Photography.” Cheers! Ward & June (photos below)

Hi folks!

Though a sad and trying time for the entire family, I wanted you all to know we have found a beautiful place to stay (hopefully for a long, long time) and are finally enjoying some peace.

We are staying between Eureka and Rexford, Montana (only 8 miles from my beloved Canada, eh!). We are only a minute from beautiful Lake Koocanusa, in the woods, off the beaten path, views of the mountains, surrounded by trees, acres upon acres of seclusion (for…um…about 1/8 the cost of our previous mortgage…go figure!). We feel so lucky to have found this place, 10 miles from where we lived only a year ago. It’s a dream and I am completely enjoying staying in one place…

Here is a photo of our new home:

Our New Home

We took a photo of our “neigh….bors”…see below (do you get the joke there? Horses…nay…sorry.

The Neighbors

Everyone is “hitting the hay” early tonight (there I go again…horse references…it really ticks them off!).

One day I may take the time to fill in the gaps on these last three months of our journey. I did get new shoes! That is something good…my old ones decided to disintegrate in Georgia (that was NOT so good and involved a lot of roadside assistance…every day for three days)…ah, I will keep you in suspense there.

But it’s ok…we did it, made it back in one piece…time to sit in the sun, look at the mountains and BREATHE…hope the sun is shining wherever you are and that you get yourself some new shoes, too…it does wonders.

Sincerely, Ward

Hi Everyone,

It has been a long time since posting on Ward’s blog…and today, I am Robin…not Ward.

It was my intention to utilize our long drive home to post all of the photos and stories since I last posted in February, but life is fragile, things can change and our drive home is one of reflection and sadness.

My grandfather passed away yesterday. He lived in Kalispell, Montana and I was looking forward to seeing him when we returned next week. I last spoke with him Friday and he told me he was excited that we were heading home. I can’t imagine going back home without having him to greet us.

My relationship with him was so close, spending most of my childhood weekends at his and my grandma’s house in Chicago. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body. He adored all of his family – he was funny, smart and lived his life to the fullest. Only a few months ago he bought himself a new pickup truck (he loved cars). You couldn’t get him to sit still.

When I was a young girl living in a Chicago apartment, I couldn’t have pets and was overjoyed when I got my first hamster, Simon. When Simon passed away, my grandfather was a bricklayer…my grandfather got this great idea and made Simon a resting place in Tupperware, with a note and flower, and buried him in a concrete block in the downtown Chicago Tribune building he was working on. This is one of millions of memories I have of him…he was just an incredible man and I was so lucky to have him in my life. Anyone who met him could not deny that he was one in a million – a huge heart, a warm smile  – gentle, tender, compassionate.

It was hard to say goodbye to him last October when we left Montana…but he always told Jim and I to go for it and to not let life pass us by. Throughout our journey, when many questioned or doubted our decision to cut loose and hit the road, he would tell me how much he envied Jim and I for doing this. He kept saying you have to take chances, to live your life…no regrets. He believed in me always…just one of the hundreds of things I loved about him.

In February, I also lost my great uncle (another painful loss) and we drove from North Carolina to Illinois for a week to help with his affairs. Just last summer, my great uncle and grandfather were sitting on my grandfather’s deck, reminiscing, because everyone was gathered for Cheyenne’s graduation. Things can change so quickly. I’m just grateful I had the time with them that I did.

As I’m writing, we are on the highway, heading home.

Home is where your heart is…and we are grateful to have been at “home” with Cheyenne, Orion, Ellen and Bea, Nate, Amelia and Daniel, Mom and George, Ron, Julie and family, Kerry, Sharon and Lee (and all of those whose paths we’ve crossed). We love you and miss you all. As with any family visits, there are good and bad times…but just having TIME with you was special and something we wouldn’t have missed for the world.

So we are going back to Montana with Ward and June, and will find a place to rest and just “be.” We feel we’ve lived, learned and have grown from our traveling experiences…some wonderful, some painful…but no regrets because the alternative, to us, didn’t feel right and didn’t fit. What we are doing isn’t for everyone, but it is for us and we have nothing but thanks to offer all of you who have provided continual encouragement via emails, etc. along our journey.

Ward isn’t going to stray too far from Montana anymore and maybe in the future, when we have settled in, he will “blog” and catch you up. But if you don’t hear from him, don’t worry. We aren’t giving up on our dreams. My grandfather lived a long life, made it through hard times and still came through it all being one of the most wonderful people I will ever know. He said what we are doing is important – that more people would be happy if they followed their passions. I guess, in the end, it isn’t important if this journey was hard, easy, happy or sad…it is that we actually did it and maybe we are a little stronger than we actually realized. We did it.

Best Wishes,

Robin & Jim

Ward…The Next Morning

Good Morning, Folks –

I don’t have much to say…the photos below will do the trick.

I have a headache because the wind is blowing gigantic snowballs from the trees, which keep hitting my roof. I’m taking a few Advil and calling it a day. Ward.

The Trees That Keep Hitting Me With Snowballs

More Than A "Light Dusting" I Would Say!

Snow On My Head

Folks,

Since leaving Montana, life has been, let’s say…interesting. I believe “interesting” is an old Chinese curse, as in “may you have an interesting life.”

Let’s recap: Generators, Ladybugs, Rain, Rain, Rain, Wind Ripping Off Awning

Today tops it all….SNOW…IN MYRTLE BEACH…

The weather channel calls it “a rare snow accumulation event.” I call it crap because I am covered in it. I can only imagine what the beach is like with seagulls attempting to fly with snow on their wings.

Montana weather? Let’s see…Rain and in the upper 40’s. Sounds like a dream…wish I was there!

Enjoy the pictures. Ward.

Are We Home?

Are We In Montana? NO! Montana Has RAIN, Not SNOW!

Greetings From Hawaii Dear Friends!

Ha Ha Ha…I’m just kidding…were you wondering how Jim and Robin got old Ward here across the ocean? I really have an amazing sense of humor for a travel trailer…but I’m Canadian…the American brands are rather dull in the humor department…

I have so much to catch you up on…when we last spoke, I was in North Carolina while June, Jim, Robin and the doggers headed to Illinois for the holidays.

Their first stop was to pick up Cheyenne. I hear she has grown three feet since I last saw her…(another joke…that would make her extremely tall you know). On they went to Arlington Heights, to Holly and George’s house. It happened to be Holly’s birthday that evening, so they all went out to eat and had lots of fun…those pics are below:

Holly & Cheyenne

George & Deb

Robin Sporting Cheyenne's Hat

The annual Christmas Eve bash was held on December 27th…(ha…got you again! The Christmas Eve party was held on Christmas Eve…I am on a roll I tell ya!). I hear reports from June that at one point there were 20 people there…all of them standing in George and Holly’s kitchen. Why do humans DO THAT? June said she could see through the living room window from the driveway, and there were chairs and tables set up so nicely in the living room…but every mope crammed into the kitchen! Weird people.

Christmas Day involved relaxing, so I hear…but the temperature dropped a lot and June said she was freezing to death outside…poor gal.

On the 26th there were many stories to tell. Cheyenne was taking the Amtrak from Chicago to Champaign that day…Jim, Holly, Robin and Cheyenne all planned to take the Metra train downtown, do some window shopping and wait for the 4pm train to depart. Of course, the snow started that day, wind chill and all. George dropped them all off on the platform and soon after he was gone, there was an announcement that the train was delayed for mechanical difficulties. At this time, the snow was blowing and blowing. They were the only fools on the train platform, complete with Cheyenne’s luggage. The hilarious pics are below:

Holly Frozen Solid

Cheyenne Frozen To A Wall?

Cheyenne & Robin Frozen Together By Their Heads

Jim Finds A Bag! Perhaps We Can Burn It To Keep Warm!

Anyway, apparently they were on the WRONG platform and when the train finally arrived (they were out there at least 30 minutes), as it came into view, they saw they were off by one platform. This followed by Jim dragging Holly across the tracks, who was petrified she would be killed right there by the oncoming train, while Cheyenne and Robin ran across the tracks with luggage. Apparently they would rather be splatted on the Metra train tracks vs. stand on that platform in the blizzard any longer. They made it on the train but Holly was sure the conductor was going to yell at them.

Teenager Cheyenne was not only frozen but her feet were wet and cold. This led to Robin putting gloves on Cheyenne’s feet, as the pic shows:

There Just Isn't A Caption For This Photo

When they arrived downtown, they decided to look for a place to have lunch…but guess what? Everything was closed…Chicago was deserted. They actually had to eat at McDonald’s! Yuck.

Then they went up in Holly’s office to unload the luggage. It was on the 41st floor and they all looked crazy going up and down past security to an empty office in a skyscraper. I’ll let your imagination kick in here.

Later, Jim apparently asked Holly what time it was and thought it best to get moving to Union Station…however, Holly was apparently wearing a watch that she did not adjust to the time change MONTHS AGO…so they actually got there TWO HOURS EARLY. Luckily, Cheyenne had Rummikub with her, which she got for the holidays, so they passed the time playing.

In the end, Cheyenne got on the train ok and Robin, Holly and Jim took the Metra back to Arlington Heights….

Later that week, Jim and Robin got to see Beatrice and Orion…they had a nice lunch together and some visiting. Jim and Robin got Beatrice a lap harp for Christmas, which we got to see her strum. Then her daddy got his guitar and they sang their duet “the Beatrice Song” which goes Beatrice song, Beatrice song, Beatrice Beatrice Beatrice Song, Beeeeeee a triccccccce song. Then we heard the puppy song, which goes Puppy song, puppy song, puppy puppy puppy song, puuuuuuup ppppyyyyyy song. Apparently there are more cute songs to that catchy number. June says Jim and Robin were singing it all the way back to Holly and George’s after the visit.

Jim & Beatrice of the infamous "Beatrice Song"

Orion, Beatrice & Grandpa

June said the rest of the visit through January 3rd was really nice and relaxing…but frigid. She did mention that Robin made some ridiculous paper bag hats 20 minutes before New Year’s Eve…you can see those “gems” below…looks like a preschooler made them, I think:

George, Jim & Holly (yes, that is Holly) Wearing Robin's Party Hats To Make Her Feel Better About Her Artistic Abilities

Everyone said adios on the 3rd and Jim and Robin headed back to Nate, Amelia and Daniel’s house in North Carolina. They went through Indianapolis & Louisville, staying at the pet friendly Motel 6 in Lexington, KY on the third…the pets were exhausted, as you will see from this photo:

Ahhh...The Pet Friendly Motel 6

Louisville, KY

When they all finally made it back to me on June 4th, I was so happy to see them. Unfortunately, it was a record cold spell in the south and I thought I was going to freeze to death. Everyone was worried about old Ward that week, with evenings in the 20 degree range. They were blowing through propane faster than a 40ft motor home goes through diesel fuel at 5mpg…and believe me, I know…I talk to the other RVs when we camp…

So things were cold and mellow from January 4th through the 8th. My owners, while keeping me warm, were looking at the weather and a map…but unfortunately, the only place warm within the continental US was…nowhere. RECORD COLD, FLORIDA IS FREEZING, BLAH…BLAH…BLAH…so they did what any sensible owner would do, bought a heat lamp for my belly at night! They spent the week packing me up and finally, on the eighth, said goodbye to Nate, Amelia and Daniel…and headed off to a campground they saw on the internet, in Kinston, NC…about 100 miles away. Here we go again…off into the great unknown with my insane owners.

We arrived at Neuseway Nature Park and Campground on the 8th. We all froze quite solid the first few nights but at least it didn’t snow! OH MY GOSH…WE HAVE TO BACKTRACK HERE…I FORGOT TO MENTION NORTH CAROLINA AND SNOW!

Before we left Lillington, NC, we were watching TV on the 7th with Amelia…and there was quite a bit of chaos in NC. You see, they rarely get snow…and they haven’t quite figured out what to do about it but GO INTO EXTREME PANIC, CLOSE EVERYTHING DOWN AND HAVE BREAKING NEWS BULLETINS ACROSS THE BOTTOM OF THE TV SCREEN. This was hilarious…I mean it. On the January 7, we watched as the trembling meteorologists dominated 99.7% of the nightly news explaining it MIGHT SNOW tomorrow…up to…now hold on to your hats…ONE INCH. I am not making this up….they closed all schools for the morning…even started classes hours late at Fort Bragg…for the POSSIBILITY of one inch of snow!! They had machines treating the bone dry streets throughout the night…interviews with the DOT on every channel “how are you PREPARING for this storm?”…I cannot stop chuckling…I really can’t. And in the morning, while all kids were home from school, Fort Bragg was deserted….guess what? We woke up to dry ground, looking just like it did the day before. Quite different from Montana where they won’t even consider a snow day…you are expected to have your kids at school, even if a dog sled team has to bring them there…and they better not be late!

Ok…I’ll get back to Kinston, NC. So we froze. Jim and Robin went with June to sightsee as much as possible, going to New Bern, Greenville. It was a cute place. I got to park right on the river and there were nature trails that, once it warmed up a little, the dogs got to take walks on. There was a nature museum with a live cockatoo that continually said “Happy Birthday” (never a dull moment in our lives…never, ever). Here are some pics. Also, note the pic of the sign that showed how HIGH the water got during hurricanes! I would become a boat really quickly, according to those watermarks!

 

Signs At Our Campground...Real Nice...Great

Our Campground On The River - June Didn't Know This Photo Was Being Taken And Got A Part Of Her Hood In The Photo...Oops!

…So that leads us to our latest journey and, folks…let me tell you we FINALLY had 70 degrees today…at our new location in Dulah, NC. After a week in Kinston, the owners decided to take a chance on a place they heard about months ago…it is a campground and vineyard called The Grapefull Sisters. It is surrounded by woods, is very remote…lots of land to walk around…very nice and friendly people…but it is only 15 miles from North Myrtle Beach so they get to see the ocean (they promise to take me there, too…we’ll see). We all arrived on January 15th and actually paid for a month because Jim and Robin really liked the feel immediately. There are only a few other RVs here in the entire place, but they are friendly (though no Canadian Award campers to be seen…I’m truly one-of-a-kind!).

Owner Robin, not fond of crowds, enjoyed going to the ocean yesterday because NO ONE IS HERE. It is off-season…but you can imagine the hooplah here during spring break. Three lanes of traffic each way down the “strip” in North Myrtle Beach…but for now, the streets are quite quiet…and where I’m parked, it is so quiet and forested…I really like it here.

My owners actually are going to perform here (music…that is) for their little Valentine’s party…and I can see the stage and porch from my site, so I can listen, too. Here are some pics of our most recent landing:

Our New Place In Dulah, NC

This Is The Property It Is On...And The Campground Is Back Behind Those Trees...I'm Back There! Kinda Like "Where's Waldo?" Guess We Can Call It "Where's Ward-o or Weirdo"

The Ocean

One Of Many, Many Tall Buildings That Block What Once Used To Be A View Of The Ocean

As for me…well…I’ve sure had one heck of a journey to date…and it feels good to settle down for a bit. I have had a lot of time to reflect, given how often I’m abandoned while my owners run here, run there.

For me, I can report my perception of the world…well, at least the USA, during my travels thus far. I’ll sum it up in the words of one of my favorite musicians, Greg Brown: “the whole world is struggling to become one bland place.” What I see is one long strip mall beginning somewhere in North Dakota, going all the way to the Atlantic. It appears Best Buy and Target travel everywhere together (like June and me), Walmart and Dollar Tree are available every five miles in any direction…and it just starts over and over with every little town along the way. Sure, some have pine trees in the background, some have oceans, some have the plains…but it is the same scene again and again. That’s what I’ve seen on my journey…but I’m having fun…and documenting it in this blog to share with the little ones someday (if June will have me) makes it all worthwhile!

Hope the sun is shining wherever your are…old Ward is gonna sign off and do some serious sunbathing now…everyone tells me I’m so pale…Aloha!! Probably as close to Hawaii as I’m gonna get, eh? (that’s Canadian for “huh?”).

Warm Regards, Ward.                                               Hannah…No…Hannah……..You just have to steal the show, don’t you….???!!! Look at this picture………..

Hannah In My Window!