I considered taking a vacation or cruise somewhere, but nothing really excited me enough to spend the big bucks. I found a few interesting AirBnB condos to rent-- one was even one of those "tiny houses" snuggled into the trees of the Smoky Mountains. But, just as I went to book it, I decided to check out extended stay hotels in northern Indiana first.
Incredibly, a newer looking extended stay hotel in Fort Wayne, Value Place, was offering a studio room with kitchenette for only $189/week in early May. That was cheaper than most AirBnB places in the area (which didn't look nearly as nice)!
So, while hanging out in Indiana wouldn't be quite as interesting as a tree house in the Smokies, I'd be close to Mike's if they needed me to come look at something, I'd be saving hundreds of dollars, and I'd be able to enjoy seeing a few old friends again-- a no-brainer decision made!
How is Value Place able to offer such low rates? By being no-frills and pricing many normal items "a la carte." For a business traveler, these costs would likely add up in a hurry, but for a displaced full-time RVer, I could easily provide all my own "extras" and still enjoy a rock-bottom rate. Extras like: kitchen cookware, plates, cups, and utensils; my own WiFi; and some added comforts of home that were missing from the clean, but ultra-spartan rooms such as a bedside table lamp (Value Place rooms only has overhead lights). I knew my room would only come with a pair of basic plastic stackable banquet chairs, so I wisely brought along my reclining lawn chair and a side table from the RV.
Thankfully, Value Place did have a large luggage cart, so it only took a couple of quick elevator trips to move into my new room. The hotel was located near a hospital in a medical/office campus, and I had a nice view of one of the ponds (and little yellow Tracker) from my room:
My room had a couple of other lavish luxuries like a full sized refrigerator...
and a bathtub!!! (we full-time RVers are so easily thrilled by such things!)
Beyond the hotel, on the other side of the pond, was a nice 1/2 mile paved walking/jogging loop that I usually had completely to myself most evenings to get some exercise.
I needed that exercise because my lunch dates with friends usually involved copious amounts of sinful foods! My friend Jeanne from Indianapolis suggested we meet in her old hometown of Winchester (about an equal distance for us both to drive), at Mrs. Wick's Pie Shop, maker of the official pies for the Indiana State Fair.
Besides pie, Jeanne insisted that if I wished to become a temporary Hoosier, that I had to eat a traditional Hoosier sandwich, a breaded pork tenderloin that was about the size of my head! I put my vegetarian preferences aside for the day and gave it a try....
Thank goodness my hotel wasn't located in Winchester, otherwise I may have left the state with an extra hundred pounds around my thighs!
My next lunch date was up to Lansing, Michigan to visit friends Laurin & Troy who had just moved into their gorgeous historic dream house. Laurin prepared a 5-course meal fit for royalty-- what a rare treat for one who so often eats meals from a microwave. I felt like a pampered princess for a day (and so enjoyed visiting with them again and seeing their lovely new home)!
My final lunch visit was to see my friend Christine in her cute small town of Decatur, Indiana. It seems every small town in these parts has an ornate, lovingly restored court house in their town square-- small town living at its very best! It was a non-stop talkathon of an afternoon and so fun to get to see each other in-person again!
Mixed in with the lunch dates were a few needed trips back to Mike's. It turned out to be a very wise decision to remain in the area! When I initially dropped off the RV, we tried to finalize the colors but they didn't have color samples on hand, so they offered to get them the following week. That was quite helpful as I ended up changing one of the colors after seeing the actual samples.
The second trip was at the critical masking stage. Since my design was brand new to Mike's, and my RV had slightly different angles than the V6 Sprinter used in their computer design app, they asked if I'd like to stop in to finalize the masking lines before they started painting the colors. This, indeed, was quite helpful as we did end up making a few adjustments with the cabover design.
It was so surreal to see my Winnie completely stripped down and primed. Would it ever get put back together and looking like an RV again?
Thankfully, Mike's did a fantastic job in the end, and I was very glad to have been able to do this halfway-point review.
After a fun 2 weeks in Indiana, I packed the Tracker again and headed back to Chicago for 2 weeks with family. It seems my camera took a holiday during this visit too, as the only thing I seemed to photograph was daily progress of the Robin's nest in the backyard Lilac bush.
When I arrived, mama was spending most of her time keeping the nest (and baby) warm and well-fed_
By the end of my 2-week visit, the baby had grown big enough to leave the nest and fend for itself!
My final bit of business was to get my 1-year follow-up visit with my oncologist. I suppose it's a good step of progress to momentarily not be able to recall her name! Everything checked out perfectly and, with any luck, this episode will continue to fade away in the rear view mirror.
Right before Memorial Day, Mike's called to say the RV was finished. My month of vagabonding had flown by thanks to such enjoyable visits with friends and family. I am so blessed!