to believe the last time I sent out a journal update was at the
of our Great Blue Ridge Parkway tour in June. Here it is almost
the end of September and I'm getting ready to set out on the return
portion of the trip.
a trip it was! Just being on the small two lane roads of the parkway
made me happy to go slow and savor every twist and bend of the road.
So it's especially nice that they make it mandatory to take it slow
by a speed limit of 45 mph maximum. And there are plenty enough
scenic pulloffs that I never felt like I was blocking traffic as
I took advantage of almost every one of them, taking hundreds of
pictures trying to capture the kind of immense beauty that makes
that quest impossible. The subtle shades of blue, varying in the
layers of distant ranges, all framed by wildly colored wildflowers
on the roadside made it seem almost surreal in places.
think allowing a month to drive 469 miles would be enough. But besides
the plenty-good-enough beauty of the parkway itself, there are so
many attractions to be found right off the road that we quickly
found out we could probably double the time and still miss out on
neat stuff to do.
I first dropped mom off at the airport in Richmond in mid July,
I was so exhausted that I didn't think two months of being in one
place would be enough. Even though we did allow ourselves times
to rest between stops, we still packed so many "must-do's"
into the trip up that I think my senses became overloaded. The best
way to overdose, I think - consumed by natural beauty. But I was
in dire need of successive days with the luxury of just doing nothing
and not having to think of where I'm going next on a regular basis.
I had decided
to spend the two months between end of summer and start of fall
in the Charlottesville area for a couple of reasons. First, it was
near Shenandoah, which I fell in love with at first sight and knew
I wanted to explore better. Next, I figured it was a big enough
town to get temp legal assistant work to replenish the diminishing
I enjoyed having the virtual assistant work for two lawyers that
allowed me to make money from home, that alone wasn't enough to
fully support me. So I settled into Misty
Mountain RV Park near Charlottesville and used the same plan
of attack that worked so successfully in Savannah. I searched the
'net and found several firms that looked like good prospects and
sent out dozens of emails with attached resume. I got a quick response
- not from anyone that needed legal assistance, but was simply fascinated
with my lifestyle and wanted to hear more. Even with leads he provided,
then taking to the streets to personally hand out resumes, then
following up with personal calls, the jobs just weren't showing
up after a couple of weeks. The only offer I got was from a firm
on the outskirts of Charlottesville which would have meant a 45
minute commute every day for about half the money I made at my last
job in Savannah.
wasn't the worst part. One of the questions the personnel manager
asked was, "How good are you at working with difficult people?"
My 'I-just-couldn't-help-it-off-the-cuff' response was, "Just
how much of a jerk is he?" She laughed and told me he was a
micro-manager and had annoying habits like standing over your shoulder
to tell you the specific commands he wanted you to use to create
and edit his documents. If you used the scroll instead of the quicker
key commands to get to the bottom of a page, he got annoyed. Now,
doesn't this just sound like the perfect boss? Even on a temp basis,
that would have driven me crazy.
But I was
still considering it on a desperation basis when I asked one of
my virtual assistant attorneys if he anticipated sending more work
my way. I figured if I could pick up just a few more hours a day
on a regular basis, I'd still make more than I could driving to
the other job. Besides, at times when I was working the temp job
in Savannah, I'd come home at night tired and still had work to
do for my virtual bosses. Thankfully, he said he had some extra
projects he wanted me to tackle anyway, so I very gratefully declined
the other offer. Turned out the second virtual lawyer who hadn't
been sending very much until then really stepped up to the plate,
too, and started using me a lot more. The icing on the cake was
when lawyer #1 referred me to another lawyer he knew and now she
is sending me lots of work, too! So, see - things can all work out
for the best no matter how bleak it can look sometimes.
still not the best part - as I've gotten to know these lawyers better,
I realize how much I lucked out in the virtual boss arena. The first
guy I started work for, Rich
Bruder, is a Michigan attorney who started his own practice
and specializes in working with entrepreneurs and angel investors.
I've been impressed with his work ethic and production for the past
six months now and we have a productive but fun work relationship.
was my second virtual boss and he is quite impressive as well. Not
only is he a practicing Washington, D.C. attorney, he is fulfilling
his own entrepreneurial dreams, having developed a line of historical
action toys based on real-life African-American heroes to inspire
children to dream their own superhero adventures. Among other things,
I've been developing a newsletter for him and that's been a lot
of fun learning a new program and way of being creative. Rich referred
me to Patricia Dudek, and recently she's been flooding me with emails
with lots of work, including designing a website for her, which
is one of my favorite things to do. I've really gotten a kick out
of getting to know her as she has her own unique style. When I asked
her to give me an idea of the kind of site she envisioned, she said,
"Anything that doesn't look like a typical legal site or blog."
My kinda gal! I also admire her for being an enthusiastic advocate
for the elderly and disabled, her areas of legal practice.
been a good couple of months with a nice balance between work and
being able to explore Charlottesville, Monticello and Shenandoah.
more good news - my article about Savannah was published in the
current (October, 2007) issue of MotorHome Magazine. I can't publish
it on my website yet but you can pick it up at a bookstore if you
want to read it. I was pleased that they published it pretty much
unedited and used several of my pictures. It's always fun to see
my name in print (and my name on the check) and I've gotten quite
a few emails from people who have seen it and written me nice compliments
It was also
so nice for me to have the chance to meet one of my long-time readers
and a great guy who helped me with the RVChecklist.
Houston lives in Sumerduck, VA, not far from Washington, DC. He's
trying to sell his beautiful home so he can start fulltiming. His
invitation to let me park at his place was most welcome and we did
Ducks Tour and had a blast even though it was so hot I thought
I was gonna pass out.
I had all
the luxuries at Camp Houston (except sewer connections). His best
friend and house tenant, Gary, is a fantastic cook and they insisted
on feeding me great homecooked meals the whole time I was there.
How great is that - fantastic free site, fun company and delicious
off one day and went to the Air & Space Museum at Dulles International
Airport. That was a whole lot more interesting than I thought it
would be, with hundreds of planes of all shapes and sizes and exhibits
showing what the cockpits look like and other neat interactive features.
reproduction of the Wright Model B...
Gay is also housed here, along with Nazi Blitz bombers, a beautiful
gleaming Pan Am Clipper Flying Cloud, stealth Blackbird and too
many to even begin to list here.
also enter the McDonnell Space Hangar and see the Enterprise, lots
of interesting exhibits with space suits, space diapers (officially
"Disposable Absorption Containment Trunk"), the Mercury
Capsule, Apollo Command Module, and other "spacey" neat
- Heading South
be working on an article for MotorHome Magazine about RVing the
parkway in two seasons as I head south starting Saturday, Sept.
29. So even though it's been a busy two months, I'm rested up enough
to really be excited about hitting the road again for the return
trip. I've been told that this leaf-peeping season won't be too
spectacular because of how dry it's been. But another couple told
me they'd heard that a couple of years ago and it turned out to
be one of the prettiest fall colors they'd ever seen. So I choose
to believe the optimists and even if the leaves turn brown and fall
off before I get there, I'll still enjoy being on the parkway again.
It's one of the prettiest drives I've ever been on and I also look
forward to getting back to Austin for a while. Family and friends
will be a wonderful, welcome sight also and I plan on being there
for Thanksgiving -- Lord knows I have a lot to be thankful for!