As Helen (adorable wife) and I approached retirement age and began to explore all of the lifestyle options available, we had to look no farther than our friends Sally and Bill Pete for inspiration. This very energetic couple entered retirement with amazing vigor and have yet to slow down.
Early in their “Golden Years”, Bill and Sally obtained Rita, a 17 foot Casita Travel Trailer, hooked it to Marco, their tow vehicle, and then ventured out, with bicycles and a kayak attached, to see all that there was to see in our great country. I’m not certain as to the number of miles they have covered on the byways of America, but trust me when I say that there have been many. In addition to living life on the road less traveled, Sally and Bill have spent their summers serving as campground hosts at several of our nation’s great National Parks such as Yellowstone, Smokemont, and one of the primitive campgrounds in Glacier National Park in Montana.
Until recently, Sally and Bill maintained their permanent residence in Buford, GA, but now have decided to relocate to Asheville, NC to breathe mountain air a little more deeply and to take advantage of the many opportunities for seniors that Asheville has to offer.
Not long ago, we received an email that they sent to family and friends about the beginning of the next chapter in their amazing journey together and, with their permission, I have shared it below. I think it says a much about two people who have chosen to live life filled with a sense of humor, curiosity, an infectious spirit of adventure, and blessed with the attitude that home truly is where the heart is…even in a 17 foot trailer.
Here is that email.
Well, we did it and so far, so good!
We sold our Buford house quickly with the help of our friend Barry and have the money in the bank. We have our traveling and camping gear with us and the rest of our “stuff” is in storage in Georgia. The Friday we sold the house, we drove to TN for two nights to stay with Sally’s sisters Martha and Susan and other family members which is always a fun/interesting time. We were then off to Asheville to start the next phase of our lives. We were in a rush to get to Asheville on Monday morning because I had the first meeting of my men’s group that afternoon.
We moved into our new home, the Bear Creek Campground and RV Park. See the pic of Rita at her new home. We picked it because it was the only one of three that would take us for the long term, and they also had the fewest reviews of drug and crime reports. It’s mostly an RV park for huge motor coaches for tourists who are visiting Asheville and the Biltmore Mansion. I would say about 10-15 slots are filled by more permanent residents (like us) and these RVs are much more modest. It’s quite a contrast. We had a little issue with our verbal reservation when we arrived, but when Sally showed our calling card with a picture of Rita on it, the lady at the desk (Missy) remembered us and could not have been nicer. It is good that at least Rita is memorable. We paid more so that we could have a site that did not back up to I-40, but the new site happens to back up to a noisy local road. Well, Sally can sleep through medical helicopters landing next to her so for her it is no problem. (and she says my snoring bothers her???)
Our big challenge is how to integrate into Asheville which is primarily a retirement and tourist community with a bohemian/artsy character. It also has over twenty micro-breweries to satisfy the thirst of the locals and some of the tourists. Sally told her daughters she is now homeless and friendless so we are trying to rectify that. Speaking of homeless, we went to the Post Office to rent a PO box. They asked for our permanent address, and we said we were living at the Bear Creek RV Park. They said it was not a permanent address and they could not rent us a box. We said it is permanent for now, and they told us we need a letter from Missy on their stationary saying it is permanent. OK, we will try to get the letter from Missy tomorrow.
We are both registered now at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (Olli) which is part of the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA). See attached photos of our building and one of our first classes. There are six hundred seniors taking summer classes plus many more in special interest groups. We are taking four classes together (Plate Tectonics, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Life and Work, Sacred Sites of Ireland, and Asheville on the Cheap. We have also signed up for one special interest group each. Sally is taking Knitting, and I am in a Beer Club which goes to a different brewery every month. Which do you think will be most enjoyable? I have to make a correction. We met the head of the beer group, and Sally asked if any women were in the group. He said plenty and Sally said, “I’m in.” Well, there goes that night out with the guys. Beyond that, I am in a Men’s group, and Sally will be joining a Women’s group. We are anxious to return to our volunteer work in National Parks but feel we have to develop a life in Asheville first.
Prior to classes, we went over to the campus to get our official student IDs, our parking stickers, free bus passes, and passwords to get our computers and phones on their campus network. People were very helpful and guided us through everything but we still felt like this was our first day of kindergarten.
House hunting has been interesting. We have looked at a few houses but felt a little overwhelmed so we have decided to go slowly. We are in no big hurry to find a house since we are comfortable living in Rita, but she is only 83 sq.ft. inside, so we don’t want this to take forever. Since Rita is a special part of our lives, we need a house that has parking space in the back or side yard for her — no storage lot for our girl! We are also trying to limit our search to the North Asheville area — this is the area north of downtown and west of the Grove Park Inn. We would like a sidewalk neighborhood with easy walking to restaurants, pubs, shops, parks and the library. North Asheville seems to fit the bill but the problem is that everyone likes it so much that very few homes go on the market. We will try to be patient!
That’s all for now. Hope everyone is doing well. We would love to hear from you.
Bill & Sally