OMG, it has been a full year since I posted anything here.
In years past, I wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving this website untouched for more than a week, and now 85 weeks have gone by since I published articles here on a regular basis!
Don’t look too closely…I’m afraid cobwebs are growing on the edges of these pages. And I’m sure many of you who signed up for our newsletter during our silence are reading this wondering who we are and why you got an email linking to this post. I hope you’ll stick with us!
THANK YOU FOR REACHING OUT TO US
We’d like to say a most heartfelt “thank you” to the many kind people who have reached out to us during the past year to see if we are still “alive and well,” as I last reported. Your concern has touched us deeply and we really appreciated hearing from you.
The answer is still a resounding “YES!” We are indeed alive and well, and we feel blessed beyond belief to tell you that our life’s journey has taken us down a new and exciting path.
As happens when choosing a new direction at any fork in the road, certain doors have closed behind us as we embark on this new trail, but other wonderful new doors are opening wide ahead of us.
WHAT ABOUT COVID?
Like everyone, our jaws dropped clear to the ground as world events began to unfold at the beginning of 2020, and like so many, our jaws are still that way a year and a half later.
We have been extremely fortunate to have spent the intervening time in a corner of the planet that has been relatively untouched by draconian rules. For the most part, life has been quite normal for us in terms of personal restrictions, personal freedoms and personal relations.
We haven’t been untouched by the disease, however. Although for the first 10 months we didn’t know anyone who caught the virus, we lost our beloved friend and first RVing mentor in Montana over Christmas.
At 86, he had the unfortunate underlying condition of Valley Fever lung disease when Covid caught up with him, battled him for his life, and eventually overtook him. We miss his good humor and his gentle, noble soul immensely.
Three other friends and family members around the country also got severe cases that ravaged them for two to four weeks or longer. They were all middle aged and in good shape beforehand, and thankfully, all have recovered.
To say that we feel blessed to have been spared so far is an understatement.
A FORK IN THE ROAD
So, what have we been doing, besides not blogging?
In a nutshell, we put down roots, sold the fifth wheel and bought a truck camper for summer travel.
This wasn’t quite as surprising a turn of events as it may seem at first glance. A variation on this theme had been in the works for us since the Spring of 2019.
As you may know, we had leased out our previous home during our traveling years.
That home was a fabulous rental, but it was a home we never really liked living in ourselves. We knew when we pulled out of the driveway for the last time and ventured into our new traveling lifestyle in 2007 that we’d never move back in.
So, we decided two years ago that it was time to sell the rental and buy a different rental that we liked enough to move into seasonally or perhaps permanently “someday.” Certainly we wouldn’t do that NOW, of course! We’d just lease it out and keep traveling until “that day” came, many years down the road.
We sold our old place a week before the disease hit our shores, and then, unexpectedly, the real estate market took off into the stratosphere in a parabolic upswing that has never let up! Holy smokes!
Suddenly, properties that had been affordable eight months earlier were now out of sight for us. How discouraging!
The last time that had happened, in 2005-07, we had thrown up our hands and jumped into an RV to start traveling full-time!
What kind of hat trick could we pull this time?
Eventually, we gave up on the idea of finding anything in the areas where we wanted to buy, and we headed out for our usual summer travels in Cool North Country as the pandemic settled in for what became a very long stay.
At that moment, though, we figured we’d let some time pass and let the world and the real estate market get back to normal.
Somewhere along the way, we stopped in a small town to do our laundry, looked around and said, “What a cool area!”
This has been one of our favorite sayings over the years as we have traveled from one cool place to the next.
As a lark, we checked for properties online, and lo and behold, there was our dream home staring at us. It had been on the market for two hours.
We knew within a few days of putting it in escrow that we would not be renting it out to anyone. We loved it and we couldn’t imagine anyone living in it but ourselves. Neither of us had ever owned a home that we truly loved. What a heavenly feeling that was!
As with everything great in our lives, the most important detours and unexpected turns have come to us on their own, unplanned and uninvited and yet totally appropriate and natural when they appeared.
We knew that by saying “hello” to this home we would be saying “goodbye” to a lifestyle we had cherished.
We realized that finding our dream home meant the end of our nomadic lifestyle even though the timing was some 10 to 15 years earlier than we’d ever expected it to be. But it just felt right to make this change, dramatic as it was.
On the practical side, to go from a furnished and fully equipped 350 square foot fifth wheel to an unfurnished home with gaping empty rooms was quite a shock.
The long long long hot showers were a blissful change from all those years of one gallon showers while boondocking or anchoring out. But, believe me, setting up housekeeping from scratch during a pandemic when absolutely everything from furniture to tools is out of stock is quite an experience.
When we’d left to begin our full-timing travel adventures, we’d kept our memorabilia, photo albums and bicycles, and nothing else. Those few things had all fit easily into a 5′ x 11′ shed in a friend’s yard.
Now, in our new non-mobile lifestyle, we suddenly needed all those other things that go with living in a stick-built home…except for the simple kitchenware, clothes and tools that we already had in our fifth wheel.
After we moved in, a friend peeked in the walk-in closet that held two weeks’ worth of clothes on two shelves — our standard for the last 13 years — and he said with a smirk, “You don’t have many clothes!”
Truth was, we didn’t have much of anything!
Craigslist became our go-to resource for almost everything. Swap meets and yard sales rounded out our shopping destinations. As for anything new, if we could find what we wanted in stock anywhere, which was rare, it was only available in pea green with pink trim, or in a mustard yellow plaid pattern, or something along those lines.
But the thrill of starting a new chapter was deeply fulfilling. It felt so good in the midst of the world losing its mind to be able to gather ours together, shut everything out, and bury ourselves in fun new home projects.
Where our lives before had been one continuous sightseeing photography tour for 13 straight years (a shopkeeper in Mexico had told us we were “Professional Tourists”), suddenly our hands were dirty all day every day as we painted, nailed and sanded things and dug into the soil to nurture plants and flowers that held the promise of a stationary future.
We slept on the floor for weeks waiting for a new mattress to arrive, and we sat in folding camping chairs or on pillows on the floors inside each room for months.
But we didn’t care. We felt like newlyweds just starting out! We were loving life and we were oh, so happy.
SELLING AND BUYING RVs
One day a friend of a friend passed word to us that he was looking for a good quality fifth wheel to live in at his property. We hadn’t intended to sell ours just yet, but suddenly, our home of a dozen years was gone, headed towards the horizon to become home-sweet-home for someone else.
After a pang of sadness at seeing it go, we jumped online and began looking for truck campers. What a blast!!
All the anguish we had felt for the final few years of our travels as we’d weighed which kind of fifth wheel or toy hauler to buy to replace our aging rolling home completely evaporated as we dove into the idea of traveling in a nimble little truck camper with our RZR in tow right behind. No more triple-towing! No 44′ long toy hauler to haul around!
Mark soon found a truck camper on Craigslist that was just what we wanted. It is a 2005 Arctic Fox 860 (almost identical to the modern Arctic Fox 811 model but six inches shorter). It had been garage kept and rarely used since it was new. It looked great and all the systems worked.
Although our blog went dark for 19 months, I kept writing for the RV industry magazines. Seven of our photos appeared on RV magazine covers and another six appeared in artsy wall calendars (2020 and 2021).
With each article I wrote, our astonishing experiences came alive in my mind once again, and I marveled at what a fabulous adventure our wandering lifestyle had been.
Mark and I find ourselves reminiscing all the time now.
Whenever we go back through our hundreds of thousands of photos to find a particular image for someone, we get lost in our recollections and take four times as long as necessary to find whatever we’re looking for because the photos tell a steady stream of vivid stories.
We thank God every single day for the life changing experiences we had and for the window of opportunity that appeared in our lives at just the right time in 2007.
We were the right age, we were overflowing with curiosity, and we had limitless faith that our Big Adventure would prove to be the best years of our lives.
Every aspect of our lives up until the moment we departed had led us to and prepared us for the incredibly free-spirited years that unfolded before us on the road.
It was a beautiful life of total freedom and wonder that just isn’t possible when you are rooted in place by a stick-built home.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – DREAMS FULFILLED
One thing that neither of us anticipated at all, though, was the sudden bittersweet feelings of sadness mixed with joy that overwhelmed us as we opened the door to this exciting new phase of life.
The heartache wasn’t due to ending our travels but was due to what was silently implied by having completed a lifelong dream and checked it off of our Big Life List.
With a shock we realized we’d had a huge dream, had chased it down for all we were worth, and had fulfilled it more brilliantly than we ever imagined we could, completing what we’d set out to do with more flair and greater depth and beadth than either of us had ever thought possible.
Yet now our biggest dream to date has been completely fulfilled — and then some. It is behind us and can’t be called a “dream” any more.
Instead, we have transformed our greatest dream into a cherished memory and integrated it into the very fabric of our souls.
Most shocking, though, is admitting that now a big chunk of life is behind us. There’s a tangible wistfulness that goes with that.
Where all those years have gone is a mystery, but there is no denying that the wet-behind-the-ears 47 and 53 year olds who drove off into the sunset full of wide eyed anticipation in a 27 foot travel trailer are now a pair of travel-seasoned 61 and 67 year olds whose memories are brimming with fantastic travel stories and whose understanding of the world around them has been vastly enriched.
Recently, the new RV Magazine (which is a combination of the former Trailer Life and Motorhome magazines) asked me to write an article on the theme of “Life Advice from Seasoned RVers” for their August 2021 issue.
I’m certainly not comfortable dispensing Life Advice to the world at large, but I took the assignment as an opportunity to express how important it is to uncover your innermost dreams and then do all you can to make them come true.
In a world where we all find ourselves saying, “Who Moved My Cheese?” over and over, month after month, as things get crazier and crazier around us, it is more important than ever to keep our most cherished dreams in the front of our minds while holding faith deep in our hearts that we can make them come true somehow.
As Escapees RV Club co-founder Kay Peterson once wrote, “If you don’t fulfill your dreams now, when will you?”
And as Mike Mitchell, CEO of NuWa (the Hitchhiker fifth wheel manufacturer), once wrote on his company’s owners’ forum back in 2008 when the RV industry was starting a years-long nosedive into near oblivion (paraphrasing): People who have dreamed for years of traveling in an RV during retirement are not going to abandon that dream just because of a bad economy or faililng RV industry. They’ll adjust the dream so they can still live it.
Our dreams are still unfolding and we hope our little truck camper will bring us new pleasures that we can share with you. Our first few forays have been eventful and rewarding.
In the meantime, thank you for being a part of our journey. What a ride!
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Related blog posts:
- Why Do It? – Why We Left Home to Live in an RV! 07/21/08
- What’s It Like to RV Full-time? – A Snapshot of Pure Joy (as the banking world collapsed) 01/03/09
- What Is Your Dream? 12/31/14
- What Does It Take to Live The Dream? 01/02/16
- Polaris RZR 900 XC – A New Ride and A New Chapter in our Travels! 01/11/19
- On the Road to your Dreams, Stay the Course! 10/14/13
- Merry Christmas and Thank You for a Great Year! 12/22/18
- Living, Loving and Perfecting “The Dream” 06/29/13
- Lessons Learned in the Full-time RV Lifestyle – Tips & Ideas! 05/25/18
- Full-time RV Pioneer & Escapees RV Club Co-Founder: Kay Peterson 06/13/17
- Camping World Video Shoot — RVing is for Everyone! 04/06/18
- 9th Anniversary of Full-time Travel by RV and Sailboat – Reflections! 05/22/16
- 10 Years of Life on the Road by RV and Sailboat – The 2nd Half! 05/28/17
- 10 Years of Full-time RVing and Sailing!! – The Early Years… 05/24/17
Our most recent posts:
- Truck Camper and Small RV Storage Tips! 09/05/21
- 2005 Arctic Fox 860 Truck Camper – Grand Tour! 07/16/21
- We’re Alive and Well and Camping in Arizona! 06/05/20
- A Hawaii Vacation! 11/01/19
- Williams, Arizona – Home of the Grand Canyon Railway! 10/25/19
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