It’ll be a grand entrance when Theresa Hrobak Gardner returns to town in her 40-foot-long luxury motorhome.
Teri, as she prefers, was born in Springfield, attended kindergarten at Pottenger School, attended Sacred Heart Elementary School, and graduated in 1973 from Notre Dame High School. His father, Frank Hrobak, was a municipal firefighter; Uncles Ray Tremblay and Donald Lemieux, along with several neighbors from East Springfield, also served in the fire department, Teri said.
Teri’s return involves a family reunion scheduled for July 11 at Look Park, Northampton. She remembers being at the park as a child: âThe families of the firefighters had great picnics,â she said.
After high school, Teri worked in the kitchen at Springfield Hospital and took a full-time job as a paralegal for a lawyer. Although she was “only 17”, she recalls, her boss “often made me go to courthouses to ask for extensions and to file various pleadings”.
In early June, Teri and her husband, Michael, parked their RV at an RV park in Green Cove Springs, Florida so they could reconnect with friends and visit St. Augustine, immersing themselves in American history in the oldest continuously populated city in the country. . They had left their home in Palm Springs, California, shortly after purchasing their RV in November, and had started their full-time RV adventure, crossing the Southern Layer of the States.
âI have only driven (the motorhome) four times so far,â said Teri; “about half an hour each time.”
Teri is a small and lively 65 year old who easily adapts to the motorhome lifestyle. Being able to travel and spend time in the places they visit, Teri said she felt like she and Mike were “introducing something to the kids for the first time, we were only the ones having that experience.”
Mike, from Madawaska, Maine, recently turned 68. He’s a gracious guy whose professional life began in a sales position for a Pennsylvania wallpaper company, a job that led to a move to western Massachusetts. While Mike was attending Springfield Technical Community College, he and Teri met at a nightclub at the Pub in Amherst. The pub closed in 2019.
Teri and Mike were married at St. Mary’s Church in Springfield in 1978. Although they planned to go on their honeymoon to Jamaica, the newlyweds chose to buy a house in Connecticut and move on. a shorter and cheaper honeymoon in Cape Town, âTeri mentioned. âSome elders in the family told us we would regret not having had the real honeymoon,â Teri said, but added that she and Mike ânever regretted our home purchaseâ.
Living in Hebron, Connecticut, Teri returned to working as a paralegal, then “started my career as a real estate agent, which spanned 42 years,” she said. Mike worked at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft for 18 years, then as a project coordinator for an office furniture company. Teri said she “has done a lot of volunteer work,” including a decade as president of the local food bank.
They have two children. His son, Mitchell, lives in Marlboro, Connecticut, where he works as a union lineman. Mitchell “is doing pretty well,” said Mike, “especially after the storms.” His daughter, Meredith, lives in Los Angeles. “We visited her twice in California and were amazed at how different the climate, topography and general look of everything was … She twisted our arms (and) we moved to California end of 2018. “
âMy family finds it humorous and ironic,â Teri said, âthat all my life I promised I would never go to California for fear of being there during a big (earthquake) and now here I spend winters almost on the San Andreas fault line.
In the Golden State, Teri found a job at a property management company, working as “an assistant manager at an upscale RV resort in Indio.” While working at the resort, Teri said that she and Mike “would be exploring different areas (of the state) on weekends.” We love discovering new places and decided that the motorhome would allow us to do the same using the motorhome as a base.
Teri credits her cousin Darlene Burbank and Darlene’s husband Tom of West Springfield with her own interest in VR. The Burbanks, Teri said, âstarted RVing about six years ago. Watching their travels via Facebook made us think they had a good thing going on.
The Gardners’ goal is to “see as many national parks as possible.” So far Bryce (Canyon National Park in Utah) has been our favorite. We have met a lot of people on the road and are using this summer to visit friends along the east coast. Next summer, Teri said, they plan to explore “northern California, Oregon and Washington.”
Her 42 years as a real estate agent, said Teri, âhas kept me busy seven days a week, so this way of life (VR) has been a 180 (degree) turn for us. Even though we both had to wait until our retirement to begin our travels, now we think we need to make up for lost time or cram as much as possible. We don’t know how long we’ll have an open window to do this. We know all too well that life is too short and we want to create long term memories. “
Norm Roy, retired editor for The Republican, lives and travels in an RV. He is eager to hear from readers about their own travel adventures. His e-mail address is: [email protected]