The Black Hole…AKA Our Campsite

Today was a great day traveling from NOLA to Destin, FL. Andy will fill you in on our pit stops along the way. Let’s just say they were great enough that I wasn’t in a hurry to get to our final destination. I mean, we had made it through the emptying of the…shall we say latrines without getting anything on ourselves!!

In our adventure of lessons, I’ve learned that it’s best to get to your campsite prior to it becoming pitch dark! We pulled into Topsail State Park and the campground looks great! The sites look amazing, but they are back in only. Not a problem if you can see so you know where you are headed!! As I began to back, Maureen was doing her best to guide me. We haven’t mastered the back in sites in pitch dark situations yet. A helpful neighbor (who has a camper van) came out to help. As I’m backing, his instructions included “go the other way”… most of you reading this know I was biting my tongue hard enough to actually taste blood!!! Once I was actually able to get mostly into the site, we got it straightened out and into the site. The neighbor redeemed himself when he complimented me and Maureen with a “you guys look like you know what you are doing.”

Now we were on to what we know how to do…hook the water up and turn it on. Well, someone left the faucet on and if someone else happens to put the sink cover on, the water has no place to go except the counter, stove and floor!! They all needed a good wash anyway, so all is fine there!! Lesson learned…have someone in the camper as you turn on water!

Only one more lesson needed! When opening your slide out, don’t let the kids do it on their own. Let’s just say, if anyone has seen the movie “RV” with Robin Williams, we may have tried to recreate a scene! I’ve been missing home projects, so now I have a little work to get things back to how I want them!

Oh-one more item. Don’t trust Siri with directions, he is crazy (I gave mine a male English voice). Early in the day he took us into a residential area to a hiking trail which would have eventually taken us to a National Seashore. Trouble was that we had “The House” and our truck too!! Nothing like backing the rig up in a tight residential street!!

Lessons, lessons, lessons!! Good thing Maureen and I have learned early on that a well stocked fridge is important!

Experiential Education

When we kicked off on this adventure, I knew Andy and Woody would have fun, I knew they would like seeing new things and I knew Maureen and I would enjoy the change of pace. So far, what my boys have learned:

1). Sometimes things may be culturally accepted but aren’t morally right. It takes courage to do what’s right and sometimes that courage shows up in unexpected ways. We’ve had the chance to talk about slavery while at a National Park Service plantation, segregation while at Central High School in Little Rock, and all the crazy harassment stuff being talked about on the radio.

2). Family are not only an important part of who we are, they are those who we can rely on! Family can be blood or even those close to us. We had the chance to spend Christmas at Lucy’s, camp in Frisco with my parents, tailgate at the NCAA Division I FCS Football Championship with our Bison friends and family, and establish a bit of a routine as we move from one location to another.

3). Control the things you can and respond rationally to everything else. As they’ve experienced, sometimes things don’t go as planned. We didn’t plan to break down in Joplin, but as we dealt with that, we had to work through issues, wait for information, change our plans and ultimately buy a new truck. As they’ve grown up, they have learned that I am very frugal with cars. Sometimes reliability is more valuable!

4). You’ll never regret having more power(or as Rick Giesel said–Ummpapa)! After we decided to trade in the truck (which ended up needing a whole new engine courtesy of Ford), I started looking at F250’s. Given that our new house is on wheels, it only makes sense that we ensure we can get our house to go where we want. After almost 1,000 miles, I can say I’m happy with the purchase!

After we’ve gotten through the “planned” part of our travels, we’ve now set off on the unplanned part. We made it to Fontainebleau State Park just outside of New Orleans. Those of you who know me well know that I like to plan. I like to know what’s happening next and what’s planned for after that, all while having contingency plans in place. We don’t have any of that. We know we just reserved this spot for seven nights. We begin the exploration tomorrow!

I think my truck drank too much and now needs rehab!!!

Well, this was intended to be an adventure, right?! God wants to really test all of us and shape us a little different than what we are, right?!

In a twist and turn of events, we ended up with truck engine troubles, got towed into a dealership in Joplin, stayed overnight and still don’t know exactly what’s wrong with the truck. The fine folks at Fletcher Ford are tearing the engine down and working through Ford on warranty issues, but it could take another week or two before we either have our truck back or have enough information to negotiate a trade in. All I can say is Dustey, Keith and Nate at Fletcher have gone out of their way to make sure we could be comfortable and with power to the camper. Part of this experience is to teach the boys about the innate goodness in people and how when you treat others well, they will likely do the same. Ron, our tow truck driver, even stopped by the camper today to check on us!

The one destination we had planned was to visit Maureen’s Cousin Susan and family in Keller (Dallas). When we knew of the timing on information with our vehicle, we rented a car and headed down the road to their place. We made it safe and sound and their southern hospitality welcomed us with open arms (albeit a couple days early). Our Christmas will be spent with their family and hopefully we can be useful while enjoying our time with them. Our hope for all of our friends and family is that you celebrate the time with your family and celebrate your religious beliefs freely and happily this season!

Hopefully the next post will let you all know if our truck made it through Ford’s rehab program or if we decided to bring another workhorse on our adventure!

Merry Christmas!


I think my truck has a drinking problem!

A truck loaded with a family of four plus a dog, enough supplies to live comfortably and pulling a 35 foot camper seems to like gas…a lot!! The plus side is that we get to stretch our legs quite frequently.

As many of you now know, my position with the health system was eliminated. I used to have the pleasure and honor of leading a strong team of care providers across 6 states and 350,000 square miles. As the system continued to grow, my division became a bit unwieldy and a decision was made to split it up and create a more regional reporting structure. That meant that I had to make a decision-move for a job that didn’t seem to be the next step in my career path or take a leap of faith, accept severance and look for the next position. I chose the path which felt to be aimed toward the future.

Today began our journey of family closeness, our family blessing in disguise, our one door opening after another closed. During this transition, I’ve felt a mix of emotions. Closing on our house last Friday made this decision real. We pulled out of the house we made our home and moved into the camper which is now our house. The experiences we make and the time we spend in it will begin to make it our home. I look forward to those experiences!

We took off from Harrisburg this afternoon (Woody’s 11th Birthday) in an attempt to get to St. Joseph, just shy of Kansas City. In what appears to be just a bit of my dad shining through, we pressed on to get through KC and a bit further down the road. We don’t have reservations to stay anywhere.

So, here we are sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot outside of Kansas City. We are looking at the back of a “gent Care”—I’m thinking they need to replace the light bulb for the “Ur” or they could be missing out on a major subset of patients! Maybe I should stop in and consult a little!!

Over the course of our exploration, I plan to continue applying for health system or hospital CEO/President or COO positions. If you hear of any, please let me know! I’d be happy to share my resume with any of you. I’ll be doing interviews and phone calls from the road and if I have to go on site somewhere we will either drive or I’ll find a place where Maureen and the boys can hang out while I hop on a plane.

It’s not very often that we are blessed with sabbaticals in the middle of our careers. As much as I want to be working, I can’t wait to share the next however long with Maureen and the boys. Hopefully we all learn a thing or two! (JT)