I wrote this back in 2009.
If you have been reading my earlier blog entries, you know that I have said that a motor coach will improve your life, if you let it. I said it will improve your life in many ways. Your coach can take you to places you might not think to go to if you traveled like most "normal" people, carrying your bags and staying in hotels. It can also help you to make friends. Recently for Diane and I, our coach has done both.
This has been a rough year for the two of us. Mike, my best friend and business partner for the last 10 years, discovered last Christmas that he had stage-four lung cancer that had spread to his stomach and esophagus. He had to virtually quit working and just try to survive. I took over the whole work load and tried to make an income for us both. So, while Mike went for radiation treatments and lived off smoothies and Ensure, I took care of our customers. This lasted for three months.
During the week of March 20, while Diane and I were in Florida visiting my daughter, her husband and son, Mike went into the hospital on a Friday and died two days later. He had just collected a large check, the final payment on a large install we had done some two months earlier. He deposited it into the bank that same Friday morning. He died and all accounts were immediately frozen by his bank. He left no will or instructions of any kind as to how his affairs were to be handled. This caused a lot of problems. I can only assume that because of his illness, his books were, to put it mildly, a wreck.
It would take another two months almost from the day he died for me to help his family figure out what he owed and what was owed to him. I helped him start his own business and now I had to close it out.
It was heartbreaking to scan his list of jobs and to remember the projects we had worked on together for so long. It was also stressful for all the months of his illness and for the two months afterward to not have any income from most of the work we had done together. It was a huge relief the day in May that his daughter was finally able to pay me for the work I had done for Mike, but at the same time it was killing me that my friend for 20 years was gone.
Diane didn't know what she was going to do to help me get through my terrible depression and anxiety over losing my friend. His death was taking a part of me with him. It's funny, but when my wife's father died that was one of the things I was worried about for her, that his death would kill part of her. However, she remained strong the whole time and now here I was, making everyone around me almost as miserable as I was.
It was on one of my lowest days when our friends Gary and Janis called and said they were looking at a new coach and wanted to ask some questions about ours. Helping them purchase a new coach was just the right therapy for me. If you read my first blog entry you know that I said they were a Godsend. Now you know why. I lost one friend and God sent me, us, two new ones.
Diane and I took a short trip with Gary and Janis and we managed to get to FMCA's GEAR rally in Richmond, where we had a really good time, joined the Colonial Virginians FMCA chapter and made some great new friends. Once those two trips were done, I found I was so far behind in servicing and paying company bills that I really needed to work hard for the next few weeks. By mid-July I was caught up, but as a result I was ready for a break from it all.
We thought about attending the FMCA rally in Bowling Green, Ohio, but we could not be sure to get there on time, so we decided it would be better to find someplace closer. Diane had visited a booth at the GEAR rally that was giving away three free nights at a brand-new motor coach resort in Galax, Va... She suggested we call them. I wasn't all that enthusiastic about it. What's in Galax? I knew it was close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and also it was not too far from where my parents live, so why not go there for awhile? Diane called the resort. Barry, the owner and developer, said come on out and visit us.
We went to Deer Creek Motorcoach Resort expecting to stay for about three days.
We stayed for two weeks.
I fell for the place as soon as we drove through the gate. The whole resort was laid out like a big green map right in front of us. On the far end was a big hill with green grass and many grazing cows that stretched up to a wonderful blue sky. The asphalt access roads are all three times wider than a coach. Most of the sites are not yet developed, but they were all grassed over waiting to be bought and the pads poured. Rock-banked creeks cut across the resort adding to the whole lovely look of the place; plus, they make a great sound.
Next to the gate is a handsome log clubhouse with a green metal roof and mini golf course. Just on the other side of the clubhouse is a beautiful nine-hole golf course. Just to the other side of the golf course is Deer Creek Rv Resort.
We parked in a guest lot (number 3), a pull-in right next to a running creek. We hooked up, set up the patio. I grabbed a beer and took a seat and just took in the view. It took all of 10 minutes just sitting there for me to feel the tension and anxiety of the past few months just start to fall off my shoulders. I started to feel very much at home.
There were not many coaches there -- five, and six counting ours. The owners saw us arrive and soon they started walking over to say hello: Beverly and Dan, Shirley and Sheldon, Ron, Gordy and Judy. Barry, the developer, came by and soon we learned that he was going to pick up his new-to-him 94 Marathon coach in the next few days. He planned to fly with his wife, Laura, to Florida, and drive it back. It would be his first RV. He was a bit nervous but I assured him he didn't have much to worry about.
We soon found out that all the owners get together on a regular basis at the the clubhouse for a potluck supper most every weekend, if not sooner. To make a long story a bit shorter, I ended up grilling for everyone, twice! Steaks one night, chicken and waffle sandwiches with home frys and grilled corn on the cob another night. The ladies did the shopping, and I did the cooking.
My parents came to visit us the first weekend we were there. They stayed in the coach. We went to the Smoke on the Mountain State Barbecue championship in Galax. On Friday we antiqued and ate barbecue. It was so good we did the same thing all over again on Saturday. We played mini golf. I also played golf with my parents. My Mom is in her late seventies and my Dad is in his eighties and both had a blast out on the course. It was a great visit, one of the best my wife and I have had with my folks for a long time.
The next weekend, Gary and Janis drove their coach up and backed into lot number 2. They went with us to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt Airy, also known as Mayberry, and the Shelton Winery located not far away. Gary and I hit the links as well.
During the week between visits from family and close friends, I made new ones. I also installed Wi-Fi for the resort at no charge for my labor. Everyone was being so kind and generous to us; I wanted to do something in return. I flew kites (I collect them). Diane and I played Bocce. We went hiking and explored other nearby towns.
My friend Mike was a devout boater and fisherman. He also loved to golf. I went boating with him once. We talked about going on a fishing trip and staying in the RV. We also talked about golfing together but it never happened. We ran out of time before we could do either one.
So, I thought about Mike while I was out on the course. Most of the time I was the only one playing. I had the nine holes all to myself, well, almost to myself. I felt like Mike was there with me, on this course of dreams, laughing at me when I shanked the ball really badly.
We have been back to Deer Creek since that time. We now own lot number 3. I am also hoping to improve my golf swing. I am getting tired of Mike laughing at me!
I received this letter from the developers of Deer Creek:
I have just finished reading your blog about the Course of Dreams. I can not tell you how touched both Barry and I are. For many reasons you could not know. Those of us who are entrepreneurs put a bit of our soul into each project, customer, job, bid and endeavor. The land that Deer Creek sits on has a whole lot of our souls; of ours individually, and as a family. On the outside we are please with the publicity and hope for a successful development but deeper down we are so happy to build a place were people can feel like home because it's been home to us for over 20 years.
Barry and his dad bought the land where the building lies in the early 80s for a craft manufacturing business that supplied another business at the time. In fact we met in the arts and crafts business. After producing many products and fulfilling many orders in the building that is now the clubhouse we added the land behind to our horses. While we dated, I lived in NYC and Barry in Winston-Salem, we spend weekends on the mountain riding horsed and eating biscuit and gravy with his mom and dad. In fact, back by between the Busses' lot and the Vonas' lot we talked about building our first house.
About 5 years later, Barry and I were married and after having our first child, Megan, we moved to the mountain to raise our family. The craft business had been closed several years and his dad didn't know what to do with the land and then one day at the age of about 58 hid dad said,
"I'm going to put a driving range down there at the building". We were shocked and thought they had gone crazy but by gosh they built it! As we all loved the golf business we jumped in and worked, planted, built the miniature golf course, and eventually Barry and his dad built the par 3 course. We worked in that business through out the growth our three kids, his parent's retirement and lots of range balls going in the mud.
As things have evolved and changed we are so please to have this beautiful place to share with great folks as you and Diane. Everyone feels like extended family to us and we cherish those great times on the back porch. We used to keep a picture from the movie Field of Dreams, we always believed "if we build it they will come." Knowing what you have gone through with the loss of your friend, we are grateful God brought you to Deer Creek and that you have found some peace and happiness. It really warms our hearts that the ground that has nurtured our family has the power to comfort you. We have always believed in the magic of the land.
Thanks for your kind words.
Laura and Barry
The following pictures should show you why I think this place is special.