Not In A Lifetime

 Posted by at 1:49 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 022013

Several years ago we were hanging out at the Escapees Rainbows End RV park in Livingston, Texas when I met a fellow who told me they were hanging up the keys after just one year of fulltiming. I asked why, and he said, “Because we’ve seen everything there is to see and we’re burned out and tired of it.”

He told us they had seen the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Mexican border, and had even been to Alaska. They left Seattle on June 1st and were back July 4th. “We never saw any animals the whole trip,” he said, “all we did was tear up our motorhome. It was a waste of time and money.” Well, yeah, if you’re driving 60 miles an hour I guess you would!

He had seen it all and done it all in just one year? How could that possibly be? I couldn’t see all of New Jersey in a year! I couldn’t do it all in a lifetime!

Everywhere you look, in every corner of America, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. All you have to do is look for them.

For example; tucked away on a side street in a residential neighborhood in Albuquerque, we came across the Ernie Pyle Branch Library.

For those unfamiliar with Ernie Pyle, he paved the way for folks like Charles Kuralt and other roving reporters to follow. In 1935, Pyle left his job as managing editor of a Washington, D.C. newspaper and spent the next seven years traveling America, writing about the folks he met in small towns and big cities. His folksy style made him a household name and he was loved by the millions who read his syndicated columns from coast to coast.

For the first two years, Pyle and his wife Geraldine, better known as Jerry, traveled together. But unfortunately, Jerry battled depression and substance abuse and she left the road to live in their house in Albuquerque. Pyle would make periodic visits, but it was not a happy home by any means. A heavy drinker himself, he preferred being alone on the road, and when he did visit Jerry, they frequently had terrible arguments. Twice Jerry attempted suicide in the house.

Pyle library outside best

When World War II broke out, Pyle became a war correspondent, and on April 18, 1945 he was killed by a Japanese sniper on the island of Ie Shima, near Okinawa, while traveling with the 77th Infantry Division. My father was with the 77th at that time, though he was in a foxhole several miles away when Pyle was killed. Somewhere I have a picture Dad took of the small monument the unit erected to honor Pyle.

Within a few months, Jerry Pyle had also died. Hopefully, they found the peace in death that had eluded them in life.

Today the small wood frame house at 900 Girard Boulevard, the only home Ernie Pyle ever owned, is a library. Used mostly by neighborhood residents, the library has a small display case that holds Pyle’s typewriter, a newspaper announcing his death, and other small items from his war correspondent days. Under a glass top on a table in one room are several letters and other pieces of correspondence to and from Ernie Pyle.

Pyle library display 2

The little library is nothing earth shattering, but it’s one more piece of America waiting to be discovered. It took us nearly fifteen years of fulltiming to get to it. Imagine what we would have missed if we had quit after just one year.

Thought For The Day – Some people’s minds are like cement; all mixed up and permanently set.

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Nick Russell

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  11 Responses to “Not In A Lifetime”

  1. If you have an interest in Ernie Pyle, you might want to check out the museum in his birthplace, Dana, Indiana. It’s a small village on the western edge of the state. When I was there last it was three Quonset huts and his birthplace. Definitely one of those places that you would miss if you don’t have the RV adventuring spirit.

  2. Nick, In some ways you are the Ernie Pyle of the RVing World, reporting back to us from the front lines and writing about the good and the bad. And, like Ernie, you will never run out of things to say…… 🙂
    Thanks again for another great lead on where to go and where not to. We will add the Ernie Pyle Library and Albuquerque to our list, and take Sante Fe off!

  3. So true. This is our 16th year and there is still so much to see and do. We don’t rush around and try to see everything at once. It’s the journey not the destination. So enjoy each day.

  4. Nick, about a year ago, Lynn and I drove to Dana, IN where we took a guided tour of Ernie Pyle’s Museum. Ernie Pyle was born in Dana in 1900 and died in 1945. He was a well-known WWII war correspondent from the state of Indiana. He was killed by a Japanese sniper during the battle for Ie Shima on April 18, 1945. The gentlemen that gave the tour was very knowledgeable and did a great job. Lynn and I were really impressed with the museum and the house Ernie was born in.

  5. Thanks Nick, we will add Mr Pyle’s museum to our list to see next summer when hopefully we travel that way. This person who quit after a year stating he saw everything was still in vacation mode. we will be starting our 10th yr full timing and we have seen a lot of this country but have not even scratched the surface of what this country offers, and never will in our lifetime. Like you and Terry we go off the tourist route and do the back roads and have talked to folks at a local grocery store or post office. We have learned a great deal just taking time and listening to these folks, they love to tell you about their little peace of this great country. Take care and be safe

  6. I think you are right, Nick, that there are wonderful, fascinating, delightful things in almost every corner of the country. We just have to be open minded and eager enough to seek them out … clever enough to take the opportunity … and always mindful that something unexpected can happen that turns an ordinary day into a special event. I really feel badly for the folks who think that life is a chore and hate getting out of bed in the morning.

  7. awwww. . .I find it sad that someone would think they had seen it all after just one year. . .and I find it sad that someone would take Santa Fe off their travel list because of one recommendation. . .it’s all in the eye of the beholder. . .what one enjoys, another might not. . .I’m not crazy about museums, but I still visit them on occasion. . .I could go and sit all day at a botanical garden. . .but wouldn’t expect everyone else to enjoy it. . .there’s a great big world out there. . .we must each make our own way!

  8. We toured the Ernie Pyle birthplace in Dana, Indiana and had a story about it in our January-February 2006 issue

  9. Hi Janice, I agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess I should have added that I had been to Santa Fe back in 2000 or so and left with the same impression that Nick and Terry had. I had been hoping that when we got out that way again it would have changed for the better, but apparently not. I agree that there are some nice spots to see (the Churches) but they were outweighed by the prices, parking, and people…..

  10. thanks for the clarification Steve. . .being an artist, I guess I buy into the whole artisan, Georgia O’Keefe vibe of Santa Fe. . .and just found the entire experience intriguing. . .have been twice. . .just loved it. . .will return at some point!

    Probably won’t be returning to Las Vegas though. . .just not my thing. . .but would never say to someone. . .don’t even bother to go there. . .I’m sure others would love it!

    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog

  11. Nick,

    Here’s a link to a picture of a young Ron at Ernie Pyle’s memorial. I visited Le Shima circa 1977.

    Ron Johnson

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