Still Learning

P10104994 months ago Doug and I sold it all to live in an airstream while traveling the country. Here are a few things we’ve learned so far:

  1. Your propane bottle will invariably run out at 2am when its 28 degrees outside.
  2. You get so many thumbs ups for your airstream you begin to expect it.
  3. Resources are not endless.
  4. 18 GB of data doesn’t last as long as you’d think.
  5. Gun totin’ camo wearin’ rednecks in jacked up pickup trucks are everywhere.
  6. You can go days without washing your hair with a simple ponytail and headband. Doug too. jk. IMG_5048
  7. A man wearing cowboy boots and walking around in the trailer next door is surprisingly loud.
  8. Composting toilets do not stink. For real. Composting your poop is awesome. For real!
  9. Florida, while warm, is flat and full of gators and skeeters. Proof the west is best!
  10. Simple things, like having warm slippers, will make you really happy.
  11. Brewery parking lots are an awesome place to overnight until they blast music until 1am.
  12. Some towns have an evil vibe. Trust your instincts!
  13. Your Vizsla will attract tons of attention and you cannot help but take his pic because he is so cute.

 You’d think as comfortable as Redd and I look in this pic I would update this blog all the time.

IMG_0324But as you can see I suck at keeping up. I haven’t been taking pics and I don’t have a lot to tell.

 

We are currently in New Philadelphia OH spending time with Doug’s family and working on some changes to our van and airstream. Its been fun and busy and relaxing. We also drove down to Richmond VA for a visit with our dear friends Mike and Melissa who are working their way through a significant emotional challenge in their lives right now. They are stronger than they think and reminded us to never take life for granted. And that’s about all we’ve been up to.

Where are we going next??? East and south! We will go into the Smoky Mountains for fishing, biking, and hiking, and then down towards Charleston SC for more fun. We’ve got about 6 weeks to kill before coming back for christmas. And I promise to post more. :)))

 

Family

When Doug and I started discussing traveling full time my immediate concern was spending less time with family. Doug has a very close relationship with his Ohio family and hasn’t lived near them for 2 decades, proof that you don’t have to live in the same city to stay connected. But, there is value in seeing your niece’s smile with your own eyes, hearing your mom laugh while watching her facial expressions and hand gestures, your dad’s serious expression as he gives you advice. Smacking your brother’s arm as he teases you, hugging your sister while noting for the thousandth time she’s your very best friend.

When you choose your path you can add family to the map. Extended family, people you don’t get to see often. We’ve stopped in Durango Colorado for a short visit with my dad’s nephew Brian, his wife Andi, and 6 (and a half)  year old daughter Shyleen. I point out he’s my dad’s nephew because now that my dad is gone that relation seems more important somehow. A piece of my dad. Someone who’s shared my dad with me, shares his blood.

In 24 hours we’ve had our loaded rig stuck in mud, Doug laughing easily because Brian was leading in his new ford truck and guaranteed a quick pull out. Somehow this is a fun activity for boys. We watched little Shyleen fearlessly jump on her big horse Candy and have a barrel riding lesson. Already a junior rodeo champion she is now working on getting Candy to improve rounding the barrel to her right. Shyleen is an intensely adult-like little girl, expressive, wicked smart and tuned in. She showed my her garden, roused up her black cat, ran after the dogs shouting for me to follow, brought out her legos so we could play, patted the seat next to her at dinner hoping I’d sit at her side. She asked if I could come listen to her read me a bedtime story.

We chatted with Brian and Andi until late and I recognized more than once how great it is to see them. We’re currently parked in their driveway, soaking up their electricity and wi-fi while they work, looking forward to this evening when they are back home. Our visit won’t be a long one but is valuable all the same. We head back to Missouri next for more family, a trip to Maui with Doug’s family, then to Ohio for more family time. Life is good. 🙂

Personal Growth

This journey started in a very egotistical sense- Our focus has been ourselves and what we are doing and how to accomplish our own immediate desires. Also the physical aspects- location, trailer, motorcycle, tow vehicle, electricity, items to keep or store or share or trash. Where we are going, how to get there, how much will it cost. Our world has been revolving around us.

We decided last minute to head to Jackson, WY to enjoy last bits of good weather there. We made a long list of the things we wanted to do, all our favorites- mountain biking, fishing, hiking. Doug contacted an acquaintance he made at Kentucky Derby who lives in town, asking if we could park somewhere around her home. She immediately said yes, even moved her vehicles so we could park in her drive. She invited us in to dinner, gave us hugs as she showed us to the kitchen so we could chop vegetables. Redd was invited as well and played with her dog Zeppo, a huge black newfoundland who is also known as “Buffalo”. She’s the executive director of Dancer’s Workshop in Jackson, an accomplished choreographer, artist, and dancer. Her personality is warm and soft and intensely open. We instantly loved her.

She had others joining for dinner: her ex husband, a self proclaimed curmudgeon, “physical comedian”, performer, global philanthropist; a beautiful french ballet dancer and her baby daughter visiting from New York; a successful painter and his toddler son; a realtor and her 16 year old daughter who is an aspiring artist. We deeply enjoyed listening to the perspectives and stories of these friendly artists while surrounded by warmth, wine, beer, food, art, books, worn leather furniture.

We were inherently included in the next day’s plans to ride motorcycles up to Teton NP and then head out to the Elk Refuge to have a campfire and see the blood moon. We met more locals and their children, chatted and laughed around the campfire, made s’mores. We felt completely at home and accepted.

We stopped regarding ourselves and listened to others. We threw out our list and allowed our lives to be dictated by others. And it was wonderful. 🙂 There may just be hope for us yet!

Amateurs

When is the last time you actually considered how good you are at your lifestyle? Um, never?  We didn’t either until a few weeks ago. Frankly there has been a steep learning curve. We went from magical unlimited electricity, water, cable, trash, sewer, wifi, toilet flushes, suburbia, 9-5, biweekly paychecks to…… none of the above.

We have learned about amp hours and volts and batteries and charges. DC to AC back to DC again. Transfer switches and smart chargers, what they sound like when running. Which clicks and hums are normal. How to use a multi-meter. What happens when you have clouds for three days, leaves on your solar panels.

We’ve learned to wait 15 minutes for the hot water tank to heat or your shower will be cold. That the correct peat moss is crucial for a non-smelly toilet. A 3 gallon jug of pee is gross, but 40 gallons of waste sloshing around under you is worse.

39 gallons of fresh water doesn’t last long. 18GB of data doesn’t either when you don’t supplement with wifi. 37 degrees is cold at night if you aren’t running your heater but you can be warm under 2 blankets and a down comforter with a 75lb dog between you. 60lbs of propane doesn’t last forever. You can actually over-pack your refrigerator. Your house squeaks if you don’t tighten your stabilizer bars. Doors swing if not level. Money doesn’t grow on trees! Lol.

It is difficult and fabulous all at the same time. The trade off is ultimate freedom to move about as we please, ride awesome mountain bike trails, soak up sight after beautiful sight, admire the colors of fall, drink local beers and coffee, toss a fly around blue ribbon waters. We aren’t pros at our new lifestyle….yet. Practice makes perfect. 🙂

So Far So Good

We are currently on day 3 of our new lives as full time vagabonds. We’ve had no big problems or hang-ups. The weather has been good. The scenery beautiful. The activities are endless. We love our Nissan and Airstream.

We’ve been asked a few times how we feel. To be honest we don’t really know yet! We don’t feel homeless, we don’t miss our house, we don’t regret our decision to sell it all. We don’t feel cramped. For now we feel happy and excited and free.

Our conversations revolve around where to bike, paddle, hike, and fish.  How long our water will last, how much battery power we have, how much propane is available, how many GB we are using, if our solar panels are charging, if anything is leaking, how much money we are spending. If our dog can come in the coffee shop or brewery with us. Where to get peat moss for the composting toilet. Lol.

Last. Day.

Today is my last day of work. So exciting!!

Its also our last day of unlimited electricity, unlimited water, unlimited internet, king sized beds, walk-in closets, long hot showers, jacuzzi tubs, hardwood floors, granite tops, flawless climate control, flushing toilets, plush leather furniture, big screen TVs, DVR…..

We only have one door to our new home. Its aluminum. It requires jacks to level and stabilize it. We have a small closet, 7 cu ft fridge, 2 cabinets for food, 3 for storage, and a few other spaces for our belongings. We have an antenna for TV, solar panels and batteries for electricity, and a 39 gallons of water storage. We now have a 6 gallon water heater. Our toilet does not flush.

We are turning our lives upside down. Its not for everyone but so far its definitely for us. CANNOT WAIT to start our journey tomorrow!!