Wow! Where do I start? I can’t believe it has been a month since Tex’s retirement ceremony. So much has happened! I meant to keep up with posting on here but our days have been so busy, I have barely been able to breathe! We have been getting up super early and going to bed late at night and I just haven’t had time to get anything else done except the absolutely necessary for that day!
First off, I have to admit to keeping a HUGE secret for the past 10 months or so. Megan, Amanda and I conspired to surprise Tex and for Amanda, Kegan, Megan, Aaron, Caleb and Henry to come to Seattle for a week and be able to attend his retirement ceremony. The story we told Tex was that Amanda had to work that week and couldn’t come because she was changing school districts and that it was too expensive and too far for all four of Megan’s family to come.
So on Sunday morning the week of the ceremony, Tex woke up hurting from his recent neck surgery and moved to the couch. While he was lying down, Megan, Aaron, Caleb and Henry drove up in their rental car and just opened the door very quietly with Caleb leading them inside. Tex woke up and was so confused! He had no idea what was happening. Once he realized what was going on, he started tearing up and tears fell down his face! SCORE!
So on Sunday, we played with the two grandsons and made last minute preps for the ceremony as well as getting the RV and trailer road ready since we have never driven this RV anywhere yet.
All the while, we were all still keeping another secret. While Tex went to work Monday, little did he know that Amanda was actually flying in as well. So, when Tex came home from work on Monday, he walks in the RV and Caleb whistles really loud (really he just squeals because he can’t actually whistle.) This “whistle” was the tip for Kegan to slowly open the bedroom door and come running out to Papa! SCORE! Here come the tears again!
I have no idea how we successfully surprised him. There were several times that I almost spilled the beans and said something about groceries while they were here, or doing something while they were here and had to quickly cover it up.
Even Tex’s bosses were in on it and had to have a separate sample script going around during the months prior to the ceremony. This was because there was several times when the girls were discussed during the ceremony and the script had to flow like they weren’t actually going to be there. I have to thank CDR Rasmussen, CDR Boba and Capt Romanowicz for all their help and for going along with my crazy scheme! They really came through and I am so appreciative of their help!
Now for the ceremony – it was awesome! Tex didn’t want a formal, stuffy ceremony, so we had a casual, funny, serious ceremony that was just perfect. Everything went exactly as planned and we couldn’t be happier. I totally thought I would cry during the whole ceremony but I only cried a bit during Tex’s speech. It was so heartfelt, serious, funny and truly showed his servant heart and his strong patriotism. I am so proud of him. I never dreamed 31 years ago that he would even go into the military much less retire with over 30 years service and accomplish so much during his tenure.
The day after the ceremony, we did a few touristy things with the family and went to the Space Needle and the Children’s Museum. The next day we celebrated Caleb’s 3rd birthday a few weeks early. We then spent the rest of the week playing with the grandkids and doing a million things that had to be done to get all of our stuff, the RV, the RZR and the trailer road ready. It was a crazy week but we had great fun. Tex and I quickly realized that we are so glad we had our girls when we were young because we were exhausted by the end of the week.
Amanda and Kegan flew home late Saturday afternoon and Megan, Aaron, Caleb and Henry flew out Sunday morning. At the same time Megan and crew were leaving for the airport, we actually pulled out of the RV lot and headed out on our first day of traveling. Boy, was that bad planning on our part!
We should have planned for a few down days after the kids left before we left but when we made our travel plans, we didn’t know the kids were coming and we thought we had 5 days planned to rest. When the plans changed that the girls could both come, I couldn’t just change our plans because it would give away the fact that they were coming. So as it turns out, Megan and crew left at the same time as we did on Sunday morning.
The first few days were long driving days and were exhilarating and exhausting but we did that on purpose as we wanted to spend some time in Topeka, Kansas and see several friends that live there. We stayed in Topeka for 3 nights and had meals with 4 different friends while there. There were many more that we wanted to see but we just didn’t have time. So all you Kansas friends….we will be back to see you guys soon!
We finally arrived in OKC on July 3rd and haven’t stopped yet. Since the ceremony, we have not even had one day without some event or appointment, even a month later! We are still running on adrenaline and are going to crash very soon.
The reason that we had to get to OKC in such a hurry and to even be here during the hottest months of the summer is that Tex decided to apply for his VA disability benefits from OKC vice Seattle. The Seattle VA office is inundated with applications and we felt that we were get his doctor appointments and the overall claim processed quicker in OKC and that has certainly turned out to be true.
We met with his VA Veteran Service Officer on July 6th and he formally applied for benefits that day. Because Tex is still on active duty until 1 November, that allows his application to be processed under a special program that speeds the process up a bit. They also have a contract here with civilian doctors that require Tex to have all of his doctor appointments completed within 45 days of his application date. What a huge relief! We were concerned that we may have to stay in OKC for several months and might not be able to get to AZ in November.
So once he applied for his VA benefits, we had a ton of other stuff that had to be done. One huge thing we had to deal with was the 5×10 storage unit that we still had here that we needed to empty. It was stuff that we didn’t have time to deal with last summer when we sold the house.
But first, let me just remind you of one big issue….the HEAT and DEW POINT! Oh my word! It has been over 100 degrees with 70-90 dew point. I mean, it is MUGGY and HOT! We have enjoyed the Seattle summers for the past 3 years and are not happy we are back in this heat. Just walking outside for 10 seconds and my clothes are wet from sweat. The girls are especially not happy! They are used to sitting outside all day and going on long walks and getting to see so many people and other dogs. Here, it is so hot that no one goes outside unless they have to go somewhere, no one goes outside to sit or go for walks and the section of the park that we are in is mostly construction workers so there is no one to talk to anyway.
On top of the storage unit we had to empty, we had to switch our car insurance, our trailer tags, I had to go to the Social Security office, we had to re-establish care with our PCM doctor, we had some upgrades done to the Jeep along with a million other things to do.
This past Saturday, we got a package from the VA that had a TON of questionnaires for Tex to fill out about all of his medical issues. It also had the schedule for all of his VA doctor appointments. Unbelievably, his last appointment is July 31st! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that he would apply and have all of his appointments completed in 3 weeks!
Once his appointments are done, the VA will have to wait for his official retirement date to formally process the claim and then it will take several months after that for him to get his official rating. We probably won’t know anything until February or March, if we are lucky, and we don’t expect to see a check until at least next summer. If it happens quicker then great but we aren’t getting our hopes up.
Between now and July 31st, we currently have 3 days with nothing planned but that could change. Once August gets here, we would be able to hit the road to cooler temps, but we previously agreed to keep Kegan the first week of August. Amanda has to start her new job a week before Kegan’s day care starts so we are needed here for that. And since it is cheaper to pay the monthly rate than the weekly rate, we will just have to stay in OKC until the first of September.
Our schedule for September is still up in the air. We will probably move to the Elks club for Labor Day weekend because everything is already booked up and we don’t want to pay the daily rate where we are currently located. Once Labor Day weekend is over, we will slowly head west and go wherever the wind blows. LOL! Our next scheduled stop is in Santa Fe, NM Sept 24 – 28 when we will get solar added to the roof like we had on our last RV.
October is still up in the air as well. We need to start thinking about where we want to go before we head to our winter stop in Gold Canyon, AZ in November.
So, long story, but that is what we have been up to the past month. It has been a crazy month. We have been so busy and moving at warp speed that Tex hasn’t even had time to realize that retirement is upon him. It is probably a good thing that we will be here for August because that will give him a couple of weeks to rest before we hit the road again, even though we will still be stuck in this heat.
In the next week or so, be looking for an article about the recent upgrades to the Jeep as well as our honest reviews of the RV parks that we stayed at on our trip here.
And remember, keep watch on the right side of our website as we will post our itinerary as soon as we nail it down.
~ Until next time!