2018 – Friendship, Loss, and New Priorities

When I started this blog a few years ago, it was a place for me to express emotions and wisdom, experiment with writing, and a spot for reflection and self-introspection.  When we decided to RV full time, it also became a memory keeper.  I’m so thankful for recording many of our escapades in this forum to go back and remember details which may have been otherwise forgotten.   This year, those memories are even more poignant, and I’ll explain.

For background information, we started our new year on an adventure to unknown territory for us.  We headed west to rejoin our friend, Patrick from Paddy Wagon Travels, in Quartzsite, Arizona, for our first boondocking experience (camping without hook ups to water or electricity), and meeting new faces and adding to our list of lasting friendships.

While in Quartzsite, we were thrilled to get a call from our long-time camping buddies, Roy and Judy, informing us they would be driving their rig from Florida to join us in Mesa, Arizona, for a couple of weeks.  We’ve known them for years and had weekend camped with their entire family before we went full time.  Little did we know we were about to be given the biggest blessing of all–some very fun adventures and precious time with Roy and Judy.

We made the most of our time by taking a drive (which was anything but leisurely, if you watch the video) on the Apache Trail.

Our couple of weeks turned into about eight, and we had the time of our lives.  We toured the Mystery Castle, experienced the Grand Canyon with eight inches of snowfall; visited the peace and beauty of Sedona; hit our fair share of national memorials and forests; stood on the famous corner in Winslow, Arizona;

and had leisurely afternoon of love, laughter, and relaxation at a Sedona winery.  On our last evening together in Sedona, we packed up the golf carts with a bottle of wine, some of Roy’s “byeers,” our camp chairs and headed down a dirt road leading to a slow flowing river with nobody else around.  As dusk approached and our sadness at the impending goodbye loomed closer, Roy and Judy ended the evening with excitement as they announced they would continue on with us to Nevada.

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Roy and Judy on the Famous Corner in Winslow, Arizona
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One of Our Stops on Route 66
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Our First Night in Williams, Arizona Before Visiting the Grand Canyon
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Roy and Judy at Tuzigoot National Monument Outside of Sedona
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Our Perfect Winery Afternoon
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Our Spot Down the Dirt Road

In Nevada, we visited the Las Vegas Strip.  It didn’t take too long to realize it wasn’t our style, so we headed out to Bureau of Land Management land at Lake Mead where we found a spot for both of our rigs in the middle of nowhere amongst breathtaking scenery.  We had evening campfires, meals cooked outdoors, and golf cart rides.  We visited a ghost town, toured Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire.  Each adventure included laughter, banter, and conversation with a comfort only shared between close friends

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Roy and Judy at Valley of Fire
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Our Campsite at Lake Mead
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Our Not-So-Wild Visit to the Las Vegas Strip

Our time had to come to an end.  Roy and Judy were itching to get back to Florida to see their daughter, son-in-law, and grand babies, which were their pride, joy, and hearts.  We enjoyed their company.  Roy and Judy’s banter back and forth–forged from years of being married since they were practically babies–was funny, touching, and inspiring.  Roy, a true Southern gentleman,  never cursed, always wore a mischievous grin, and used colorful Southern dialogue (affectionately dubbed Royisms) such as, “Dad burn it,” “Well, I ain’t nevah,” “I’m finer than frog’s hair,” “Oh, boy, I’ll tell ya,” and “Drunker ‘n Cooter Brown.”  I was going to miss the female companionship and friendship with Judy. It was a sad day to see the empty space beside our rig as Roy and Judy drove away.

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Watching Them Drive Away and Seeing Their Empty Spot

In October, Roy and Judy attended NomadFest, where we got to meet up with them again along with Alaskan friends, Mike and Bobbie.  We had a wonderful time hunkered down in the Clam around the fire pit listening to them plan out their future trips and excitement of doing more traveling.  We knew there’d be additional adventures in the coming year and we parted ways with confidence our paths would intersect soon.

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Mike and Me and Roy and Judy

On Thanksgiving we talked with Roy and Judy via phone and shared in their exhilaration of a newly purchased Class A motorhome.   Their excitement was contagious as they talked about a possible trip to Alaska this coming year.  Mike and Roy talked mechanics and equipment and rig stuff.  We threw around possibilities of where and when to meet up, and we ended the call with our usual, “I love you’s.”

Not a week later, we were informed Roy passed away suddenly of a ruptured aneurysm.  Mike and I were both paralyzed with disbelief, shock, and tears.  Judy, Nicole (Roy’s daughter), and their entire family were heavy on our hearts.  How do you comfort someone in their time of deep grief and loss?  We had to settle with letting them know we were here if needed and our thoughts and prayers were on their behalf.

Meanwhile, we were feeling the loss ourselves–the loss of a dear friend, someone we held in high esteem and genuine love and affection.  A lighthearted man who loved life, would dance spontaneously, and belted out Suzie Q and Standing on the Corner with whole-hearted gusto.  A friend who freely gave tight loving hugs and planted kisses on the cheek.  A father-type figure who would lend his hands and assistance to Mike on mechanical issues and fixing stuff.  A man who planned to follow his dreams of traveling to Alaska with the love of his life in his new Class A in the coming months.  We lost a rare someone who loved his family with his entire being and a dear friend who was loyal and true.

Losing someone we love suddenly teaches us we aren’t promised tomorrow, the next hour, even the next second.  We have to live our lives to the fullest each and every minute.  We have personally learned we need to love deeper, live freer, and appreciate the special moments which make a life.   That’s what Roy would want us to do.

Roy changed our perspective.  Boy, I tell ya–for the moment, I’m fine as frog’s hair, and Dad burn it, I”m going to appreciate it.  And, I ain’t nevah going to take another second for granted.  For you, Roy–on New Years Eve, I’ll stay at home, call my dear friend Judy, snuggle with my husband, and get drunker ‘n Cooter Brown in your honor.

We love you, Roy.  We love you Judy, Nicole, Brian, Jadyn, Jordyn, and Mimi.  You all are beautiful legacies of Roy and we love you truly and deeply.

Dear reader:   Are you planning your (insert your dream here) today–this very minute?  Do it.  Live life with no regrets, leave no words unsaid, and pave the way to your Alaska.

With love,

Dawn

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Roy and Judy also did an installation on our dRiVe series, video below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 comments

  1. Dear Dawn. I’m in disbelief. We definitely are never promised tomorrow. I’m terribly sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing about Roy and Judy, and your wonderful time this year. They’re in my thought tonight.

  2. We are so sorry to hear about Roy, Dawn. Peace to Judy, her family and their friends in the new year. So true that we should live our dreams today, as we never know if tomorrow will be given to us.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to Roy and his family. I think we often take for granted people will always be around, that we will always be around. I hope his family and friends will find peace in knowing how much he meant to you and Mike. Hugs and much love.

  4. Dawn, as always you’re writing is excellent. I am so sorry for Roy and his family and send them my deepest condolences. It seems this is been a year of losing people we love, or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re getting older which I refuse to face. My prayer for you and Mike is that 2019 Will bring you much happiness, love, and many blessings on all your trips. Love you girlfriend

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I’m so sorry for your loss. 2018 sure has been a tough year for a lot of folks, but I agree: the lesson we must take to heart is that every day is a gift and we must make the most of the little time we’re given. I wish you all the best in 2019.

  6. So glad you got to spend some quality time with your friends. We never know what the future will bring. Hoping you and Mike have a wonderful New Year. Safe travels too!

  7. Dawn, I am deeply sorry for your loss of your dear friend, Roy. I would have liked him. Everything you wrote points to the kindest and sweetest and most selfless family man. And “family” extending well beyond blood.

    Roy would be humbled and honored that he so profoundly changed your perspective of life. Thank you for sharing this story and your desire to live in the now and not wait until tomorrow.

    This is a powerful post with words of wisdom worth adopting. Thank you.

  8. I’m sorry for you loss. My condolences. But you’ve written a wonderful story about Roy and his influence in your life. I’m sure Roy would be thrilled to know that he’ll be the catalyst for many people deciding to go out there and live their dreams.

What are YOUR thoughts?