More Family and Friend Time and a Nine Year Anniversary

As my time here in Wisconsin will comes to an end, over the last month I’ve had the pleasure and joy of spending lots of times with family and friends. So here’s an update of what’s been going on in the last couple weeks. One of the great things about this lifestyle, besides all the travel and see new and wonderful things. Along with going to new and wonderful places, experiencing fantastic views and meeting wonderful people from all over and making great new longtime friends. Is that when you come back home to where you spent your previous lifetime. In my case 60+ years, in the state of Wisconsin. When you reconnect with family and friends and all the memories that go with it. It’s like re-experiencing them all for the first time again (at least that is the way it is for me). On this trip I’ve spent a great deal of my time traveling around the state, seen as many of my old friends and family as I’ve been able to. Unfortunately there so many more that I haven’t been able to reconnect with. And as my time here comes near to an end I find that I wish I had another month to continue this reconnecting. But in a few days Patty and Steve in their rig and I in mind, we will be hitting the road for our adventure out east. So there will be lots more traveling and new experiences to share with you down the road. Over the last month I’ve seen people that I haven’t seen in a few years, some that it’s only been a few months and one in particular that it’s been 40 years. But with each reunion it’s been a mixed bag of emotions. Ones of joy and sometime maybe a little sorrow, but for sure lots of thrills and happy times. That’s the plus side of this RV lifestyle, is the ability to reconnect share your travels and get updated on their lives. I know in some cases it makes people a little jealous, of me (hopefully in a good way), because they are stuck with the routine of their fixed lifestyle. But it also seems to brighten their day as I share my experiences and travels since we last reconnect (and that makes me feel good that I can bring some excitement and joy by sharing my stories). I’ve been crazy busy reconnecting and I do not want to bore you with all the details, of who I’ve seen and what I’ve done, that have stirred lots of wonderful memories for me. But here’s a few highlights of just the last week. First off on Wednesday I went back to Cardinal Glass in Portage, Wisconsin to spend a little time visiting with some old friends and coworkers from the last 20 years of my working life. I talked to several but there were so many more I wished I could’ve spent time with. It was exciting to hear what’s been going on in their lives. And also it was nice to know I do not have to put up with the headaches of day-to-day stressful work environment. Then in the afternoon on Wednesday I met up with my sister Bonnie (who you’ve heard me talk about numerous times before). She’s thinking about getting an RV (maybe a Class C or smaller Class A). She asked if I would come along to look at some and share some of my thoughts. The big thing was she wanted to drive some and see what you felt comfortable with handling. So we spent the afternoon and part of the evening going around looking at some available units. At one point we took a 27 foot Class C out for a test ride. So she could get a feel for what she could handle. She did extremely well and felt confident driving it, and now has a direction to proceed and figure out what might fit her needs. As a full-time RVer, I always enjoy looking at other rigs and helping people figure out and understand what might work for them. Then on Thursday once again Bonnie caught up with me. And we headed out together to meet up with my daughter’s and had a picnic with them and their significant others. It was a wonderful time cooking out in the backyard of my youngest daughter “Jennifer” apartment complex. We spent a few hours laughing talking and just enjoying each other’s company. On that note I want to talk about the nine-year anniversary mentioned in my header. You see on Friday, August 25. It was the nine-year anniversary of the passing of our “Sweet Sonia”. Sonia as most of you know, was my dear wife (of 33 years) and the mother of my wonderful daughters. The friend and relative that are part of the many readers of my blog, that knew her will know what I am talking about. And for you that did not have the privilege of knowing her, I would like to share the joy she brought into her life. At this time of the year as we remember her passing. It’s a mixed bag of emotions for all of us. We feel the sadness of not being able to share our day-to-day lives with her, and we miss her warm and wonderful spirit and the joys of seeing her great smile.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA145OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs all of us remember the wonderful person that she was. And for those of you that knew her all know what a wonderful and warm spirit she was. And for the readers of this blog that did not know her, “take it from the ones that did”, she always brought happiness and joy to our lives.131Hawaii141138She always went out of her way to try to brighten other people day and would do anything in her power to make your life better and full. And as I sit here in the wee hours of the morning writing this I feel so privileged to have had her in my life for so many years. I feel (as I’m sure all of you that knew also do) sad that she had to leave us so soon. But I know she is still in our life watching over us. And as we remember the times we spent together good and bad, I hope they bring joy to all of us.140111139I know for all of us it’s a mix of emotions, but the ones of us that knew her well do our best to remember the happy times. And not to dwell on her not being here with us. I would like to share a letter to mom that my youngest daughter Jennifer, had posted on Facebook.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear mom,

9 years ago you were stolen from me and not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. Everything reminds me of you. Movies I watch or songs I hear, I wonder if you would like them. I want to share everything with you. I wish you could meet or hear about all the people I meet since you have been gone. They have changed my life and have help me to become the person I am 2day. I inspire to be like you because you were open minded and had a great heart. It makes me really sad that you will never be able to meet Paul Fredrick the love of my life. He is so great to me, he takes care of me just like you did. You would have really loved my old roommate Staci Owens, she had a great heart like you. Every person I have meet has changed my life in some form and I wish I could talk to you and tell you how, you were always the best person to listen to me and give me advice if I needed it. You were the glue in our family. Since you have past the extended family has fallen apart, we can’t even get together for events. So much painful things have happened in the past and adult lives have taken over that no one seems to be able to make time, myself included is guilty. You always had a way of forgiving people and I wish I could too. Wish you could teach me how. Crystal Thays is doing ok but she needs you a lot too. It is hard to live without you with us. Same with Dad Richard Raab he is a rock with gems inside. I need guidance and wisdom on how to keep things together in my life. I have friends that help but it is not the same as talking to you. You seemed to understand me and know what I needed. Lisa Lynch-Trainor is a great listener and supporter, you would have love her. I wish I could tell you about all the people I have meet since you have left me, because they have changed my life in some way. Whenever I meet people or try to help them I think of you and do my best to do what you would do. I truly inspire to be like you because you were the best person I know and I miss you so much. Love you Always and Forever. * At night, whether the moon is out or not, when everyone sleeps I have a chance to look up into the night sky, I see myself, and I have no fears or worries, I can just wash away the day and I feel true happiness and pure love and know that you love me and will always be watching over me and that moment gives me hope that my dreams will come true*

Jennifer and Sonia at Crystal’s wedding.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo as you can tell on Friday the 25th it was a day of mixed emotions. On a more positive note, I was lucky enough to experience a wonderful and joyful reunion. An old friend of more than 40 years ago reached out and reconnected with me this week. To give you some insight into this reunion back in my late teens and early 20s (before I even met Sonia). There was a group of friends that spent many joyful hours together enjoying our youth. One of these close friends was a young girl named “Diane” (she was just 18 at the first time we met). We used to spend a lot of time together one-on-one and also with this group of close friends. It was never a romantic relationship, but one of just close friendship sharing good times. We shared many common interests, I even taught her how to do drive her first motorcycle. I knew her parents and siblings quite well also. And Sonia and I also had the pleasure of her attending our wedding. But shortly after that with our life’s changing and Sonia and I moving to Green Lake, WI. Away from where she lived in West Bend, WI. We grew apart, I seen her only one other time shortly after we had moved to Green Lake but we had not talked or seen each other for over 40 years. The funny thing is, a couple weeks ago when I was in West Bend visiting my old stomping grounds (as I had talked about my last post). For some reason I was thinking about her as I drove by her parents old house. I had not thought about her for many many years. And to make this even stranger, just a week earlier before I had been back to West Bend, Diane was visiting with her mother who still lives in the same house. And her mother asked if she ever knew what happened with me. So that got Diane thinking too, and this week Tuesday she tracked me down through Facebook. And she sent me a message on messenger. Wondering if I still remembered her? Her last name had changed of course, and as a matter fact I would have not remembered her maiden name. But I recognized her right away from her profile photo. The next day Wednesday I sent her a message saying that I was just thinking about her. And how freaky was that. So we went back and forth with a couple more messages. And then I gave her my number and we connected on the phone. We talked reminiscing about old times and catching up on what has happened over the last 40 years for a couple hours. It felt like we had never stopped seeing each other even though so much time had passed. She told me about her kids and grandkids and I shared my stories. As circumstances would have it she is also single again after a divorce a few years ago. She asked how long I was going be around, and asked if wanted to get together with her. I told her for sure 🙂 ,  I told her was free part of the weekend and would either sometime Saturday or Sunday work. So we made tentative plans to get together Saturday, as I had a lot going on and wasn’t sure if it would all work out for sure. Friday came along and I was going to be able to connect with her for lunch on Saturday. Saturday morning I had a make a stop at my sister Jean’s in Burnet, Wisconsin. Which was less than a half hour drive to Kewaskum, Wisconsin where Diane lives. So she sent me her address and we met up around noon (so that we could go out for lunch) and after initial hugs and greetings. We visited and caught up some more. As for those of you that know me well you know I could’ve talked her ear off for hours. But she was getting hungry and so we headed out to have lunch. We visited and shared more all through lunch, and then headed back to her place to visit some more. As we talked about what been happening in our lives and what I’m doing now, it seemed like old times. She’s was really interested and fascinated by my RVing lifestyle. I asked her if she was interested in going for a ride in coming to see my RV and Maxine. She said sure she would be happy to do that. So we jumped in the car and took the hour ride back to Green Lake, I talking her ear off some more the whole time. She got to meet Maxine see my RV, and meet Patty and Steve too. It got later and later and as you all know I’ve got a spare bed in the RV. So she ended up spending the night. The next morning Sunday. I had made previous plans to meet up with my good friend Gary and his wife Dawn. I gave Gary a call and asked if I could bring Diane along and of course he said yes it would be fun. So after breakfast we took the hour drive to New London, Wisconsin. After initial hugs we sat and visited for a while at their house, and then headed out for lunch. We had a great lunch visiting and talking. We talked mostly about the years that Gary and I had spent together in Green Lake. The girl sat there and poked fun of us two dumb old guys reminiscing. After lunch we went back to their place for a little more visiting, and then it was time for me to get Diane back home. It was about another hour and a half drive, from Gary’s place to Diane’s place. Giving us time to talk about getting together in the future. It might be somewhat difficult just because of logistics (me on the road and Diane busy with her grandkids). But I’m sure we will get together again in the near future and it definitely will not be 40 more years. I told her she should pack a bag and come out east with me on this trip with Patty and Steve. But that’s just not possible because she helps take care of her grandkids to help her boys out. Even though I think she might have wanted to come along, but maybe this winter she will be able to come visit me in Georgia. I need to mention one more thing, early this week, I just committed to a volunteer job from the end of October till the end of January. I will be a host at Hamburg State Park in central Georgia. I will have more details as it gets closer to October about my plans for this winter. But if any of you will be coming through the center part of Georgia I would love to connect up with you. One other thing I want to share with you that I’ve been doing the last week or so. I’ve been doing quite a bit of wood turning. You see my friend Steve bought what is called a pen wood lathe. A while back Steve had found the lathe for sale on Craigslist. It was such a good deal, so he bought it with the intention that his son was going to be making some of these pens and other projects. It came with a bunch of inserts for pens and other parts needed to make all kinds of projects. But either one of them have not had time to do any experimenting. So he told me to go ahead and give it a try. Here’s a picture of the nice little wood lathe.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn years passed I did a lot of different wood turning and if I say so myself I’m pretty proficient at it. I watch several YouTube videos to understand exactly how the process was done. And I felt confident that I could handle it. So after a little experimenting I cranked out a few different projects. Here’s a photo of several of the pens I made, also a couple handles for pizza cutters and a couple different handles for a couple cheese knives.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou see along with the lathe he got all these different pieces to finish all these projects. Here’s another photo of a wine bottle stopper which also is a corkscrew. What I did is turn the black handle that is made out of an acrylic block.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI kinda made it look like a big acorn.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlso I had made a bunch of coasters out of some redwood that I brought back from California. I had made 20 of these and shared them with friends and relatives I kept four for myself. Here’s a picture of them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo as you can tell I’ve been very busy enjoying my time here in Wisconsin. I’ve been having so much fun reconnecting and working on different projects. That’s it for this post, we will be leaving Thursday and heading over just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We will be stained by friends of Patty and Steve’s through the holiday weekend, and continuing further east after that. I will be sharing our travels down the road later. Best wishes to all, Rick



  1. Wow – Rick! What a ride! Love the pics of you and your Sonia! What an amazing woman she must have been! Wish I could have met her!
    Love the wood items you’ve made! Hope to see some (and maybe buy some) in person – maybe later this fall?

    Liked by 1 person

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