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Giving thanks

November 23, 2006—I've always been a big believer in counting my blessings, and I don't just mean once a year. I've often said that every time it rains, I'm grateful for the roof over my head, and that's the truth. But this Thanksgiving it's really hitting home just how lucky I am.

For starters, I'm not working 8:00 to 5:00 in an office. Oh, I still do about an hour of freelance work a day... but it's from my desk here at home, with a view of Santa Rosa Lake glistening in the afternoon sunlight, framed by the junipers outside my window. I sometimes talk with friends who follow real estate prices, and you could easily pay a million dollars for this view... or any of the other views I've had in the past year and a half. Yet I'm enjoying it for four bucks a night, thanks to my New Mexico Annual Camping Permit. That, by the way, includes electricity, water and sewer service (though I have to drive a mile or so every couple of weeks to dump my wastes and fill up with fresh water). Total lodging cost for this million-dollar view: $120 a month. How did I get so lucky?

I'm parked next to my friends, who are my temporary neighbors here at the lake. We get together daily to help each other out with home improvement projects, share meals and just chat.

Turkey cupcake

Today, for instance, began with Kate bringing over a cupcake decorated to look like a turkey. This afternoon, Terry helped me mount three antennas on my roof, and I helped Jonna put in place a reflective decal with her rig's name, "Tortuga." Tonight we shared a supper of ham, stuffing, salad, yam and apple casserole, and cranberry-pecan bread. After supper she and Terry came over to my place, and we watched the movie "Cars."

It's a cozy little community we have here. When somebody needs help, others pitch in—often without even being asked. If someone needs to go into town, someone will drive them. If someone gets sick, the others take care of them. Somewhat to my surprise, I find that even at my age, there are things to learn about being a friend. My friends here are showing me what it means.

What we have feels like the barn-raising, quilting-bee spirit that you'd find like a small town, only this community has no fixed location. This week we're in Santa Rosa Lake State park; next week we'll be at Oasis State Park, where I'll celebrate my 57th birthday. Our paths cross and re-cross; sometimes we travel separately and sometimes together... but the community is always there and always strong.

Even when I'm traveling by myself, I have my cat Alix, and she's a lively and affectionate companion. When Marie died a few weeks ago, after living with me for eighteen years and traveling for a year and a half, I thought it would be very hard to find another cat suited to living in this small space. But Alix, a seasoned RV traveler, came along just three days after Marie departed.

I have my friends, I have my cat, my material needs are taken care of on a minuscule budget... and I have the most beautiful surroundings imaginable. I have the freedom to go where I want, when I want. How did I get so lucky?

I recently read an article by a man who described himself as an avid RVer who has always dreamed of fulltiming. Now that he's turned 62, he says, he has to decide whether to do it now... or keep working and wait a few more years. And I thought: you should have done it years ago. You're 62. How much longer can you afford to put off that dream?

Me, I'm living my dream now... and giving thanks for it every day.

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