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How Toastmasters Saved RV Life During COVID

How Toastmasters Saved RV Life During COVID

Hawthorne NV
33° / 57° Cloudy ☁
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $144/week FHU

A very long work day today. Very monotonous end of quarter administrative tasks choked out most of the day. Highlighted by a Toastmaster Zoom meeting and a client onboarding session.

Let me introduce you to my Toastmaster group and the integral role it plays in our RV life.

Toastmasters Hybrid Meeting circa 2020

Toastmasters Hybrid Meeting circa 2020

I joined Toastmasters 5 years ago to improve my public speaking skills.   At the time I was speaking on behalf of clients in various PR settings and felt they deserved a polished voice.  I certainly achieved that goal and after 5 years of continuous work, I feel confident behind a mic, on a stage, or 1-on-1 with anyone.  Toastmasters has a terrific curriculum, evaluation process and even speech contests.  No matter where your speaking confidence is on the spectrum, there is an opportunity for you to grow.  I certainly have.

About 6 months into Toastmasters, Parveen joined the club too.  We quickly hit it off through our mutual love affair for life long learning.  We both share high pursuits at work and play, and discovered that we enjoy how we critique each other toward improvement.

The first 3 years of Toastmasters stretched my comfort zone as I learned how to master the lectern in various settings.  With Parveen in tow evaluating my professional presentations, I got better.  I was in her tow too, evaluating her medical presentations.  A true win-win and we were expanding our speaker platforms.

Then COVID hit.

COVID began the slow, and eventual death of social organizations and the sudden death of social gatherings.  Speaking gigs stopped.

Toastmasters, like every organization on the planet, immediately moved to Zoom.  Gone were the sideways glances and snickers to people in the room – and in came chat feeds.  Or, for more personal chats, smartphone texting with others in the Zoom room.

The Brady Bunch square became our new stage.  We began evaluating each other on our use of the Zoom screen as a substitute for the obligatory Stage Presence evaluation.  This weekly, constant sharpening of the saw, made most of us phenomenal speakers in Zoom.

At work, I had started getting compliments on how I showed up in client Zoom meetings.  Most people sit on their hands and don’t move.  How boring!  Get your point across more effectively by raising those hands to your face and into your Zoom screen.

The most important aspect, especially of late, was having our social club meet weekly.  If for no other reason than a wellness check and to socialize.  During COVID, those meetings fed the soul.  During RV life, they keep me grounded and connected.  I love you guys!


Camping and Trapped Inside

Camping and Trapped Inside

Hawthorne NV
27° / 50° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $144/week FHU

It just dawned on me, that I can go days without stepping outside. Not exactly highly unusual since I’ve always lived and worked under the same roof, even before it was COVID-cool.

Before COVID, I deliberately put events on the calendar to force myself to go outside and socialize.  Puppy obedience school, doggy daycare, take human daughter to human school (aka college), get groceries, attend various networking events and once a week, date night with Steve and a day with Parveen.

COVID killed most of that, actually the entire list except groceries.

Now that we are on the road and Steve is taking a well-deserved hiatus from laborious work, he’s in charge of all the household errands including the laundry.  Which leaves me virtually no reason to go outside – especially when its 40° out there!  Brrrrrrr

no-smokingSteve is a smoker.  Always has been.

He’s somewhere between a habitual smoker and a chain smoker.  For those of you who count this in packs, he’s a pack every other day.   Since I don’t allow him to smoke inside our fancy new RV, he has to face whatever weather we are in if he wants to puff on his cancer sticks.  As long as he’s out there for 4-6 minutes, say 8 times a day, I think its only fair that he lets one of the dogs tag along too.  That just seems to be the frequency one of them needs to pee.  Don’t you think?

But that now leaves me without any single good reason to go outside except my own personal need to smell the fresh air and stretch my legs.

I decided back in Vegas to take both a morning and evening walk with Puddin.  That was working out great when it was 70° in the am.  Today’s thermometer showed 40° while the coffee was brewing.

The new exercise goal can wait.

Missing Our Meetups

Missing Our Meetups

Las Vegas, NV
61° / 91° Sunny ☀
OUR RATING: 5 Stars – a well thought out RV resort complete with private golf course, large dog run and upgraded free WIFI. Bonus for being a 4 minute Uber from the Strip
PRICE: $65/day with Good Sam discount

Good morning world! We have both made it to today. I wonder what the day has in store for us.

To be honest, I don’t know how to start off today’s entry.  For the past bit of time, we’ve been racing around family functions and meetups.  Now that’s all done for the next couple of months.  In one way, I feel a bit depressed its all over, yet excited about the next six months of travel.

So far, our travels have taken us to states and areas already familiar to me.  Not much new, per se, just a revisiting to old haunts.  The visits have been refreshing, as I was needing a good fill up from my roots.

From Vegas, we start to head north to parts unknown.  Or at least, unknown to us.  Its exciting to think of all the places we have yet to visit.  Our wall map has the whole top section of the country unmarked by RV travels.   States without a single line drawn through them are our candidates for future travel.

Its just going to be Steve and I and the two dogs until late May when Tara flies out to visit. I really can’t wait to see her.  Its been 5 months  – and it feels like forever ago when I gave her a tight, tearful hug goodbye.  There are just some things in life where there’s no substitute or surrogate for.  A daughter’s tight squeeze is one of them.  No matter how cute and adorable Puddin is!

The dinner last night with Jeanette & Richard was refreshing.  Jeanette and I fell right into our old high school routines – talking a mile a minute – sometimes over each other – as we were both excited to share so much!  She is still in touch with the old gang in school, so it was great to get the scoop you can’t find on Facebook.  They were a lovely couple, and just like us, one is quiet and reserved, and the other is the social butterfly.  It was easy to see why we were such good friends in school.

Parveen is much the same way, the biggest social butterfly I’ve ever met – not always a good thing.  I find myself, on occasion, pulling her bac so she has time for self-care.  Being on the road offers nothing but time for self-care.  Since we don’t live in on place, we aren’t bombarded with invites to attend this or that.

Its not that we have become anti-social, its just the nature of people we are around daily has changed.  We easily fall into a pop-up bonfire with neighbors quite often, and get the opportunity to drink, tell tall tales, and hear what others are going through.

Parveen’s tutorial of keeping things on the calendar at least a month out is constantly revisited.  July and August are bare with any family or friend visits.  Maybe that will change.



Joys of Errands in a New Town

Beaumont, CA
59° / 82° Partly Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: Cherry Valley RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars because it was convenient off the highway, super cell signals, full hookups, nice friendly staff, and great county park within a 5 minute drive
PRICE: $13/day with RPI membership

Doing my taxes today and clearing out some clutter in my email. Have a few clients that need some overdue attention today.

Also, need to visit Verizon to figure out why this new cellular WIFI equipment isn’t working so well. It’s going to be a full day of work and errands – tomorrow we leave for Vegas.

o o o

Finished the errands, and just wanted to share with you one of the joys of roaming the country.  That’s doing your regular day-to-day shopping in new stores.

When you live in one place, you can quickly get into a routine of shopping the same stores that you know so well. You can probably build a map in your head of the entire layout.  You may even have the same section of the parking lot you always park in.  This type of routine – similar to the first 7 minutes of every morning – eases the amount of brain power needed to get through the day.  Auto-pilot kicks in and you can get your weekly shopping done without remembering much about the excursion.  Much like driving.  When that sudden fear takes hold as you rack your memory, forcing yourself to remember if you stopped at a red light or not.

Those comforting routines do not exist in RV Life.  Every store is different, even if tis a familiar chain store.  Except Bed Bath & Beyond.  Those seem to be exact replicas.  (yawn – very boring).

Today, we walked into a chain drugstore,  RiteAid, not exactly sure what to expect, except that it is the location of our Amazon locker.  We may not be able to get our postal mail very easily, but Amazon makes it extremely convenient to receive packages of almost any size.

As we walked into this particular shiny new Rite Aid, it became apparent that this store was like a Walgreens on steroids!   The layout felt like a Kohls – if it were a drugstore.  The back wall looked like a fancy medical clinic and my favorite part of the wonderous store was situated along the front wall.  A full ice cream counter!  Baskin Robbins has nothing on this counter – it was stock full of at least 31 flavors of ice cream that takes more time to browse then the nail polish section across from it.  The unique scoop they use to dallop your flavor on a crunchy, yummy sugar cone is itself a unique thing.  I’ve never seen anything like it!  The scoop gives the ice cream a cylinder shape instead of the usual, expected, round blob.  I never thought I’d say this about an ordinary ice cream cone – but it sure was pretty!

Oh! the joys of travel and exploring new towns in this new lifestyle.