Full-time RV Pioneer & Escapees RV Club Co-Founder: Kay Peterson

We just received the very sad news that Escapees RV Club Co-Founder Kay Peterson has died.

Kay was a guiding light in the RVing community for many decades, a woman who lived her dreams to the fullest, despite many seemingly impossible road blocks along the way. Nearly two years ago Mark and I were utterly blessed to spend several very memorable hours with Kay learning about the winding road she took through a fascinating life.

As we all know but too often forget, “Time stops for no man,” and if there was anyone who understood the power of those words it was Kay Peterson. If you have a big dream but keep putting it off for one reason or another, Kay’s rich life offers all the inspiration you need to squash your fears and live life with gusto.

To give you a sense of the way Kay approached her life, I just received a touching note from Cathie Carr, Kay’s daughter and retired leader of Escapees RV Club. As Kay lay dying and holding Cathie’s hand, she faced her future with a profound optimism as she said:

“When you’re born, you cry and the world rejoices. When you die, you rejoice and the world cries.”

For our newer readers who do not know her incredible story, we are re-publishing this post today in honor of Kay Peterson’s life.

Escapees Magazine Cover Jul-Aug 2016 Photo by Mark Fagan

Escapees Magazine — July/August 2016
Cover Photo by Mark Fagan

The July/August 2016 of Escapees Magazine features a lengthy article I wrote about Kay Peterson, the co-founder of Escapees RV Club and a pioneer in the full-time RV lifestyle in the 1970’s.

Writing this really fun article followed a truly inspiring personal visit that Mark and I enjoyed with Kay last fall

You can read the Escapees Magazine article here:

Kay Peterson – Escapees Magazine July/August 2016

Like many new SKPs (the Escapees RV Club nickname for the word “Escapees”), our first real evidence of being members was in receiving and reading the bi-monthly Club magazine, Escapees Magazine.

We knew little else about the club when we joined, but when I saw the first issue of the thick magazine, I was struck by two things: the artistic cover photo and the very first article inside called “Thoughts for the Road” written by Kay Peterson.

As the months went by and more issues arrived, I was always very taken by the images on the cover of the magazine, and I couldn’t help but sit right down and read Kay Peterson’s opening essay immediately.

She always spoke of the importance of pursuing your dreams, of taking chances, of overcoming your fear of the unknown and of following your own heart.

She seemed to be speaking right to us, because those topics were hot on our minds as we discovered true independence and freedom in our first few months and years on the road.

After decades of living a conventional lifetsyle, we’d struck out on our own in a little travel trailer and we were loving every minute of it. “Everyone should do this!” we kept saying to each other. “What’s holding them back?”

And then we’d read Kay’s latest installment, and she’d remind us that too often people are held back by fear. They want to wait for a “better time” in their lives to chase their dreams, a time when they have more money, or more time, or fewer responsibilities.

I was astonished that this RV club magazine would dive right into these weighty, philosophical topics, and that Kay would keep persisting, gently prodding us to think about the important things in life. Who was she, where had she come from, and what had her life been like? I wondered.

Full-time RV pioneer and Escapees RV Club Founder Kay Peterson

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At that time, we had no idea what the Escapees RV Club was all about beyond the magazine. We aren’t joiners or “club” people, and we had started RVing full-time to get away, not to become part of a social group. But the quality of the magazine and those intriguing opening essays that Kay wrote touched us both.

The images on the cover of Escapees Magazine were always beautiful, and the articles inside had a different thrust than other RV magazines we subscribed to that focused on RV reviews, product reviews and info about RV gear. Escapees Magazine had a lot of that stuff too, but it also went into detail about the unusual things that affect people who live on the road in their RVs full-time or for months on end.

Escapees Magazine Covers

Escapees Magazine is different than other RV magazines

I felt an affinity with Kay Peterson right from the get-go, but when she mentioned in one of her essays that she’d gotten her start as a writer when she sent an article to Woodall’s Trailer Travel Magazine and that they responded by publishing it and sending her a check for $75, I was blown away. I had just sent an aritcle to Escapees Magazine about Goblin Valley, Utah, right in time for the Halloween issue, and they had responded by publishing it and sending me a check for $75!

Kay’s writing, her philosophy of life, and the essence of her message stayed with me, and as I wrote more and more, on this blog and elsewhere, I often felt her influence in the back of my mind. She is a generation ahead of me in age, and she was like a guide and mentor, even though we had never met.

Mark and I finally had an opportunity to meet Kay last fall when we were in Texas, and what a fabulous experience that was.

Kay Peterson and Emily Fagan full-time RVers

I was thrilled to be able to chat with Kay Peterson

She was warm, animated and downright charismatic as she told the two of us her life story. She has lived an incredible life, going through lots of twists and turns and bumps in the road on her way to many impressive achievements, and her intriguing journey continues to this day.

As soon as she greeted us, I had to smile at hearing her light Boston accent. That accent is near and dear to my heart, because I grew up there, and even though I don’t have the accent and can’t mimic it, whenever I hear it spoken authentically (not the Hollywood version), it sounds like home.

What was much more surprising, though, was to find out that she got her nurse’s training in the 1940’s in the exact same hospital where members of my family had been born and died in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As it turned out, Kay and I had grown up at the same end of town!

I was also fascinated to learn that back in her day, the student nurses lived in dormitories at the hospital while they were in nursing school.

Full-time RV pioneer Kay Peterson and Emily Fagan

We found we had a lot in common!

For most of us born after the Great Depression and World War II, the events of the 1930’s and 40’s exist only in faded black and white photos and jittery newsreels. Even though, for me and Mark, the war ended just 10-15 years before we were born, about the same distance back as 9/11 is today, it is impossible for us to understand what life was really like back then.

But as Kay described her childhood and youth to us, that era suddenly came to life in vivid color. She came of age as the war was ending, and her young adulthood was intricately tied to and shaped by the events around her.

It’s easy to take society’s changes from the Women’s Liberation movement for granted now. Having forgotten just how much the world has changed in the past 65 years, Mark and I were both very affected by the movie Philomena, which is about a young woman who was forced to live in a Catholic home for unwed mothers and give up her baby for adoption in Ireland in the 1950’s. But as we listened to Kay’s story, we were shocked to hear that tale told again, but this time in the 1940’s in America.

Likewise, we have always known that tuberculosis is a terrible disease, but we had no idea that until the vaccine for it was developed and made available, patients were isolated from society in institutions to prevent spreading it further. Most didn’t make it out alive, but Kay did.

Hearing Kay’s tales of her past, we not only saw how perseverance and optimism can lead to a fulfilling and rich life, as happened for her, but we got a history lesson as well.

Escapees RV Club founder Kay Peterson with Emily Fagan

I scribbled notes furiously but was captivated when I read her autobiography later!

Kay tells her life story in riveting detail in her book, Beating the Odds, published in 2013. After Mark and I spent several hours listening to her story in person during the course of two different visits, we absolutely devoured her book. It is an inspiring tale of overcoming and becoming that we couldn’t put down.

Kay faced many brutal hardships, from poverty to an abusive husband, and she struggled against many agonizing obstacles in her early years, including a life threatening disease, but she never lost her belief that life could be better.

A turning point came for her when her beloved grandmother died and she realized, while going through her belongings, that this woman she had always adored had lived more timidly than bravely and had died without ever allowing herself to be bold enough to insist on living her dreams. At that moment, Kay vowed never to fall prey to fear like that herself.

Escapees RV Club Sharing the RV Lifestyle

Kay and her husband Joe created the Escapees RV Club in 1978

Upon meeting Joe Peterson, she found her soulmate, and the two of them began to make history together when, at age 43, they joined the tiny ranks of people who were living in their RVs full-time in the 1970’s. Joe had the ideal mobile occupation as a “tramp” electrician, and in a few short years, she became a writer for both Woodall’s Trailer Travel Magazine and the Snowbird Newsletter.

These writing gigs led to her starting an RV journal of her own, which ultimately became Escapees Magazine. From that came the founding of the Escapees RV Club in 1978. The rest is history, as Escapees RV Club has grown in all kinds of creative ways since its inception.

But the most fascinating thing for me is that Kay Peterson has grown too.

Besides co-founding Escapees RV Club, overseeing the development of an outstanding RV magazine, and creating the first of its kind assisted living center for RVers (Escapees CARE or Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees), she has published a slew of books, including the first book ever written about full-time RVing, called Home Is Where You Park It. This bible for full-timers was in print for 22 years until its last edition came off the presses in 1999.

Her fifteen years of full-time RV travels with Joe ultimately whetted their appetities for more travel adventures and led them further afield to explorations that took them overseas to Europe, Africa, Australia, Fiji and other exotic destinations.

A few years back, when she was in her mid-80’s, she mentioned in her Escapees Magazine column that she was now pursuing a dream she had held since her youth but had never made a top priority: writing a novel.

Never one for mere pipe dreams, in 2013, she published 13 Days in Africa, a novel that was inspired by her own safaris in Africa. This novel was so well received that she sat down and wrote another, and this past winter, on her 89th birthday, she published the sequel called The Elephant Bond.

Escapees RV Club Rainbow's End RV Park

The Escapees headquarters campus in Livingston, Texas, is so extensive they offer tours on a trolley bus!!

Dramatic and poignant, her novels draw from all of her life experiences and are compelling dramas. Kay was not quite finished discovering the stories behind her characters after the second novel, however, so she is planning to turn this pair of novels, whose stories now span three continents, into a trilogy, with the publication of a third novel in the series on her agenda now!

Added later: Kay completed the trilogy and published her third novel in the series, When Cultures Collide, in February 2017.

Escapees RV Club CARE Center for Retired RVers

Escapees CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees)
Kay’s proudest accomplishment, and one which took extraordinary patience and fortitude!

At the moment, however, she is attending the Escapade RV rally in Essex Junction, Vermont (held July 21-23 in 2016), and lots of lucky Escapees members are having a chance to meet her in person and listen to her wisdom at the rally.

For those who have a dream — whether it’s a travel dream or lifestyle dream or something totally different — Kay stands out as one of those rare mentors who not only made their dreams a priority and made them come true, but who has consistently reached out to those around her and encouraged them to pursue their dreams as well.

I highly recommend reading Kay’s autobiography, Beating the Odds, and her book of essays, Chasing Rainbows.

The essays are drawn from over three decades of her inspirational Escapees Magazine articles. She offers many pearls of wisdom and gems of hope that are great reminders of how important it is not to let life pass us by.

Two of my favorite Kay Peterson quotes:

If you don’t fulfill your dreams now, when will you?

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Some of us prefer to live 365 days in a year crammed with as many experiences as possible.
Others are content to live the same day 365 times in a row.

In addition, I highly recommend that all RVers, especially those who use their RV for extended travel, join Escapees RV Club, even the “non-joiners” and non-club folk like ourselves.

Of the many things that Escapees RV Club is involved in — a myriad of overnight parking options (from free sites to site ownership), an online RVers forum, RV rallies, RV education, an RV weighing program, assisted living for RVers, and a massive mail forwarding outfit — the RV advocacy work they do benefits everyone who owns an RV and is well worth supporting.

US Mail truck Escapees RV Club Headquarters Livingston Texas

This US Mail semi tractor trailer full of RVers’ mail pulls up at Escapees HQ in Texas EVERY DAY!!

The cost to join is minimal but the impact that a large, cohesive group can have on the rights of RVers is enormous. Besides, the magazine is excellent. You can join here:

Join Escapees RV Club

If you happen to join, we’d appreciate it if you’d let them know you heard about Escapees from this blog, Roads Less Traveled, as they will put a little something in our tip jar. This might sound shallow or self-serving, but the truth is that we have spent years recommending Escapees to other RVers and did so long before Escapees even knew we had a tip jar!

Full-time RV Pioneer Escapees Founder Kay Peterson with Mark and Emily Fagan

What a special time this was – Mark, Kay and me.

Also, for any Escapee with a camera or a flare for words, Escapees Magazine is always looking for photos and articles from members.

Mark’s cover photo in the July/August issue (at the top of this page) is a classic example of how a beautiful photograph taken with an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera can end up on the cover.

When he saw a Class C motorhome reflecting in his mirror in our truck, he grabbed the shot with the closest camera he could put his hands on, which turned out to be a cheap one he’d gotten years ago. We both then tried to improve upon his image with our fancy cameras, but gosh darn it, that little point-and-shoot got the best photo of them all.

So there it is, proof positive that sometimes the best way to go is just to jump in and do it, whatever “it” is, regardless of your gear or preparation, because that first impression and rush of enthusiasm may give you the biggest return.

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10 Years of Life on the Road by RV and Sailboat – The 2nd Half!

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it!” — John Irving

Continued from: 10 Years of Full-time RVing & Sailing – The Early Years…

When we ended our season of RV travels in the fall of 2013 and flew back to Marina Chiapas on the Mexico / Guatemala border, our sailboat Groovy was ready and waiting for us.

After a few days of getting acclimated to the stifling heat and getting the boat provisioned, we crossed the treacherous Gulf of Tehhuantepec, a 350 mile long voyage that required meticulous planning to avoid the ferocious winds that blow from the Gulf of Mexico and then pick up steam and become even more savage when they hit the Pacific ocean.

Sailboat anchored in Tangolunda Bay Huatulco Mexico

Anchored in stunning Tangolunda Bay in Hautulco, Mexico.

We arrived in the Bays of Huatulco and found ourselves in paradise. Even though we had been here the year before, knowing that this would be our last time sailing these waters made every moment precious — and tenderly bittersweet.

We loved the tropical flowers and birds that surrounded us.

Exotic passion flower

We were in the tropics again!

Hummingbird at exotic flower Mexico

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A flock of wild parrots was hanging around the tiny fishing village of Santa Cruz and we loved watching their crazy antics in the trees above us as we drank our morning coffee or afternoon beers in the middle of town.

Wild parrots Santa Cruz Huatulco Mexico

Wild parrots cuddling in the late afternoon sun in Huatulco.

We ended up staying in Huatulco for three months, going out for day sails in the bay every few days.

Sailing in the Bays of Huatulco Mexico

We took the boat out for a glorious daysail every few days.

What a life this was! We settled into a delicious routine anchored out in Huatulco’s various coves and bays.

Taking the dinghy ashore in Huatulco Mexico

Our dinghy was our commuter car in our cruising lifestyle.

One day a group of people came alongside our boat on paddleboards and kayaks. It turned out they owned a beautiful resort on a hilltop overlooking a secluded beach, and they invited us to come and spend a few nights.

Wow! We were there in a heartbeat. And what a romantic place Las Palmas Resort is. Every guest has their own private villa, and pretty swimming pools with exquisite views are situated all over the unusual and intimate property.

Las Palmas Resort Huatulco Mexico

The owners of Las Palmas resort invited us to stay in their luxury villas for a few days. Incredible!

The engine alternator on our boat died unexpectedly one day, and shipping a replacement to Mexico was going to cost a small fortune. If maintaining a boat is expensive in the US, it can be doubly so in tropical foreign countries.

Fortunately, the owner of Las Palmas resort was flying back to the US for Christmas, so he carried our new alternator on the plane with him when he returned in January, saving us $1,000 in import taxes and fees.

Mark got the new alternator installed, and we eventually said goodbye to Huatulco, a little piece of heaven on Mexico’s southern Pacific that few people know about.

Aboard Hunter 44S sailboat Groovy

In the spring and summer of 2013 we covered 2,500 miles at 7 mph
sailing from Mexico’s Guatemala border to San Diego

We began our long journey north by sailing 450 miles to Zihuatanejo. We were now much more comfortable with overnight sailing, and this was a pleasant trip. With each familiar place we visited, it was like coming home, but it was hard then to leave them and all the memories surrounding them in our wake.

Fishermen repair their nets Zihuatanejo Mexico

Fishermen repair their nets on the beach in Zihuatanejo.

Our inland trips to Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas, and Palenque in Chiapas the previous season had been so rewarding we decided to visit the colonial city of Morelia too. It was a straight shot inland from Zihuatanejo. This beautiful city has a fabulous antique aqueduct and a cathedral that is jaw-droppingly ornate on the inside.

Ornate cathedral Sanctuario de Guadelupe  interior Morelia Mexico

The interior of Sanctuario de Guadelupe was like a jewel box!

Traveling by car with friends, we were able to get to two very out-of-the-way spots, first visiting a major Monarch butterfly migration stopover and then visiting a totally authentic farmer’s market in Pátzcuaro. We were the only gringos there, and what a delight it was to experience the earthy hustle and bustle of that marketplace.

Continuing our voyage north, we stopped in Manzanillo Bay to witness one of the most exotic sunrises we have ever seen. The pattern in the sky was spectacular.

Sailboat at sunrise Santiago Bay Manzanillo Mexico

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Over the next few weeks we made our way very slowly up the Costalegre coast, living in bathing suits and sailing short distances.

View from the helm Hunter 44DS sailboat Groovy

View from the helm on Groovy.

There are several stunning and rarely visited coves on this coast that are challenging for sailors to anchor in. But our skills with setting a supplemental stern anchor had improved to the point where we were able to enjoy each one.

The sense of accomplishment at having come so far as sailors was immensely rewarding, and the little bays were charming.

In the “Secret Anchorage” of Cuastecomate we enjoyed beers on the beach along with exotic snacks.

Exotic snacks Cuastecomate beach Costalegre Mexico

Mangoes and other goodies on a stick!

In tiny Paraiso Bay we found unusually clear, jade colored water. A “reef” obstructing the area where we wanted to drop our anchor turned out to be a massive school of fish that gradually swam away, revealing pure sand underneath!

Happy sailor Paraiso Bay Costalegre Mexico

Swimming in a jade paradise.

In Careyes Bay we found a hillside filled with brightly colored homes. What a sight! We heard that the German model Heidi Klum has an estate there, but we never saw her.

Sailboat anchored in Careyes Bay Costalegre Mexico

Colorful Careyes was a spectacular anchorage, but it required a stern anchor, and we still rolled as the winds and current shifted!

As we made our final approach to Puerto Vallarta early one morning, we passed several breaching whales whose silver, barnacle encrusted bodies shimmered in the morning sun. And then we tied up at the docks of the luxurious Paradise Village Resort marina.

Groovy sailboat in Paradise Village Marina Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Groovy sidles up to the dock at Paradise Village Marina.

Paradise Village Resort is exactly that, an intimate resort community in Paradise. Our docking fee gave us full access to the entire resort complex which included not only fine dining, a spa, a gym and a fancy hotel, but hot tubs, swimming pools, water slides, indoor and outdoor bars and a huge and endless beach. This swank resort became our home for a memorable three months.

How often in life do you get to live at a high end resort?

Mexican dancer Paradise Village Resort Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Paradise Village has lots of wonderful entertainment for their guests.

After two months of pure vacation at Paradise Village Resort, we did a final bus trip inland to the colonial city of Guanajuato which quickly became our favorite of all the colonial cities we visited in Mexico.

Colorful hillsides in Guanajuato Mexico

Guanajuato is a silver mining town with a rich history that is truly magical.

It is colorful almost to a fault, with a vast valley and hillsides filled with colorfully painted homes.

Colorful houses Guanajuato Mexico

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Callejon in Guanajuato Mexico

Bands of minstrels sing in these alleys ever night.

It’s a town full of quirky charm. For starters, a group of men dressed in Medieval garb sing folk songs in the alleys every night.

One afternoon we saw a ballerina dancing on the balcony outside of one of the town’s several theaters. In the evenings, Mariachi musicians at the restaurants on the town square would take turns with the pops orchestra playing in the bandstand in the middle of the square, alternating traditional folk music with classical pops as they filled the whole town with music. We loved everything about this lively city.

Horseback riders Guanajuato Mexico

We never knew what we’d see in Guanajuato!

Nearby is the equally beautiful but much more reserved city of San Miguel de Allende. We zipped over there to visit my childhood figure skating idol, Toller Cranston, who had made his home in San Miguel for several decades.

I had wanted to see him for almost 40 years, and the timing turned out to be perfect, as he died unexpectedly just two years later. How fortunate we were to be able to spend time with him before he was gone.

Cathedral San Miguel de Allende Mexico

The cathedral in San Miguel de Allende.

Throughout our cruise in Mexico we always kept an eye out for RVs and RV parks. Lots of people take their RVs south of the border, and we spotted an Airstream trailer sitting under the palm trees. What a spot!

We also met the son of the first couple to take their RV on the train through Copper Canyon back in the 1980’s, and his story of growing up in an RV largely in Mexico was fascinating.

Airstream trailer in palm trees Mexico

What a great place to camp!

At long last it was time to head back to San Diego.

The sailing voyage north along Mexico’s Pacific Baja coast is known as the “Baja Bash” because you are bucking the winds, currents and waves the whole way. During July, at the beginning of hurricane season, the winds change periodically as the storms blow through, blowing up from the south for a few days at a time. This makes the trip a little bit less of a bash, although it remains a bash nonetheless due to the waves and current.

The hurricanes roll up the Baja coast in July like bowling balls, one after another in relentless succession. Luckily, they are not as big and deadly as the hurricanes that occur later in the season.

We timed the two legs of our trip north from Puerto Vallarta to perfection, first jumping from Puerto Vallarta on the mainland to Cabo San Lucas at the bottom of the Baja peninsula, and then sailing from Cabo San Lucas all the way up the Baja coast to Ensenada just south of San Diego.

The hurricanes were coming so thick and fast that we couldn’t stop or we’d be overtaken by the next one. Instead, we found the sweet spot between two hurricanes and rode along with them as they moved north.

We stopped just long enough to fill up with diesel in Cabo and again half way up the Baja coast at Turtle Bay. If we had stopped any longer, we would have found ourselves in the eye of a storm.

Sailing into the sunset

We left tropical Mexico with tears in our eyes.

The Baja Bash was like our Final Exam in Seamanship Skills, and we were very proud to pass with flying colors despite several white knuckle moments along the way.

We made the 1,300 mile journey in an extremely fast 8 days and 7 hours. When we arrived in Ensenada, Mark got off the boat and kissed the dock. Literally!

We felt utterly triumphant — and very relieved.

Perhaps what made our homecoming even more poignant was that friends we had started our cruising adventure with in Ensenada nearly four years prior were there to greet us. They had fallen in love with Ensenada and had bought a house in town, and they welcomed us into their home like family.

As we unloaded all of our stories and emotions on them about the bitter sweeness of ending our cruise, the beauty we’d seen, the fear we’d felt and the truly mixed emotions we had about finishing our cruising dream, they understood exactly where we were coming from.

As sailors themselves, they knew just how beautiful the lifestyle can be and they also knew how incredibly challenging and frightening it can be and what very hard work it requires.

At the marina, down on the docks, a well dressed Mexican man walked up to our boat on afternoon and asked if he could have some photos taken of his daughter for her Quinceañera (15th birthday) on our boat. The Mexican quinceañera is like a wedding in size and scale and importance, and it was a total delight to see this beautiful young girl posing for both a professional photographer and a professional videographer aboard Groovy.

Quinceanera on sailboat Groovy in Ensenada Mexico

What a perfect end to our Mexico journey
— a Quinceañera photo shoot aboard Groovy!

In return, the dad invited us to sit at the head table for the festivities. What a blast to be guests of honor at this quintessentially Mexican (and Latin) celebration!!

A few weeks later, we sailed the final 70 miles of our nearly 7,000 mile voyage from Ensenada north to San Diego.

Groovy Sailboat in Kona Kay Marina San Diego California

Kona Kai Marina in San Diego made a fabulous home as we transitioned to a life on land.

The crazy thing on that first day we woke up in San Diego — in the very quiet Kona Kai Marina on tranquil Shelter Island on the bay — was that we had become so accustomed to true peace and quiet and a relaxed way of life in Mexico that we weren’t at all prepared to be living in the middle of a huge American city.

Mark went out for a walk on the palm fringed waterfront paths at dawn and came running back to the boat and jumped in bed and pulled the covers over his head. The frantic pace of the joggers, walkers and bicyclists on Shelter Island was more than he could take.

“Where’s the fire?” He cried in disbelief from under the blankets!

But we gradually acclimated and did a few day sails in the bay. We even saw a dolphin leaping out of the water, but it was time to begin the very arduous task of stripping the boat, putting it up for sale, and somehow squeezing all of our belongings back into an already full fifth wheel trailer.

Porpoise leaps out of water San Diego Bay California

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After living on Shelter Island for four months, we said goodbye to our beloved sailboat Groovy one last time, with tears in our eyes, and returned to our equally beloved buggy and were back in the RVing lifestyle in the Arizona desert by Christmas of 2013.

Happy sailors aboard Hunter 44DS sailboat Groovy

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We had now spent nearly equal amounts of time RVing and sailing, and we had grown immeasurably as travelers and adventurers.

The pride we felt at having had a huge dream and of having gone for it and pulled it off and lived it to its fullest was immense. We had given our cruising dream everything we had, and it had given us the deep satisfaction of both accomplishment and confidence.

Saguaro cactus with starburst sunset Arizona

Hello Arizona!

The unexpected bonus was that we fell in love with our neighbor south of the border.

We never ever would have traveled in Mexico if we hadn’t bought a boat. It just wasn’t on our bucket list of international destinations. Yet how much narrower and smaller our lives would have been if we hadn’t spent all those years living there.

We left to go cruising so we could play on the beach and swim and snorkel and live sunny lives on the water. But we had discovered that the far more meaningful side of our cruise was immersing ourselves in Mexico’s culture, making lasting friendships with Mexicans we met along the way, and discovering the true beauty of a country we knew absolutely nothing about.

Motocross biker jumps in the sky in Arizona

A motocross jumper in Cave Creek, Arizona.

We were flying high. The experience of completing a very successful voyage and of returning to a lifestyle we loved and found so easy to live was exhilarating. We had dreamed a dream and we had lived it. And we still had so much more life to live!

Hummingbird in Arizona

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We decided to make every effort going forward to spend as much time as possible doing only those things we really loved to do and spending as little time as possible doing the things we didn’t like. With boat maintenance and scary moments at sea behind us, this simple rule of thumb became our way of prioritizing our activities every day.

By early February of 2014 we were ready to head out on our RVing adventures, and we went to the beautiful red rock country of Sedona.

Hiking the red rocks in Sedona Arizona

Sedona, Arizona — Home of the red rocks!

Further north we explored the wonderful Wire Pass Trail slot canyon.

Slot canyon hike at Wire Pass Trail Arizona

Wire Pass Trail was an eye popping slot canyon hike.

Our target for the summer of 2014 was eastern Oregon, but we started by heading north and west through some of the most remote land I think there is in the continental US — northern Nevada and southern Oregon.

After driving for hundreds of miles through nothing, we found a cool little bar on the side of the road. A cartoon on a wall showed a man and woman in a car driving by a sign that said, “Entering the Middle.” She was studying a road map entitled “Nowhere.”

But soon we were at Crater Lake National Park where the water is a vivid royal blue.

Crater Lake National Park Oregon RV trip

Crater Lake is bluer than blue!

Continuing north, we headed to Bend Oregon and Smith Rock State Park.

One thing we had begun to notice now that we had seven years of travel in our back pockets, was that we often recognized the places where photos were taken. This happened not just with photos in magazines and online but with movies too.

One night about a year or so after our visit to Smith Rock State Park we were watching an old John Wayne movie and we kept saying to each other, “That sure looks like Oregon.” Well, a few scenes later our jaws dropped when we saw Smith Rock right there in the movie. Sure enough, John Wayne started talking about Fort Smith, and in the credits at the end the producers listed Smith Rock State Park.

Smith Rock State Park RV trip Oregon

Smith Rock State Park, Oregon.

This kind of thing happens frequently now as we see more and more places in our travels. It’s like our little database of knowledge about North America’s most beautiful places is getting filled in. The funny trade-off, though, is that we’ve forgotten a lot of other things we used to know so well, like how to get around town on the streets of our home towns!

One of Oregon’s most charming towns is Baker City where we watched a fantastic Tour de France style bicycle race.

Baker City Oregon annual bicycle race

Oregon’s Baker City Cycling Classic zooms past.

But the Wallowa Mountains and the cute town of Joseph (population 1,000) were what really took our breath away that summer.

Wallowa Mountains Oregon with horses and pastures

The Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon.

Snowcapped Wallowa Mountains Oregon with red barn

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Dropping south and east we visited Sun Valley, Idaho, a beautiful, trendy town that has wonderful bike trails and a unique car race right out on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. We watched a Bugatti Veyron hit 244 mph!

Mountain biking in the Sawtooth Mountains Idaho

Sun Valley Idaho is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

It’s also an artsy town where we came across a group of professional artists painting with oils on canvas out in the National Forest. We later saw this guy’s painting for sale in a local gallery for several thousand dollars!

Plein Air painting Sawtooth National Forest Idaho

“Plein Air” artists were bringing the Sawtooth National Forest to life on their canvases.

At Grand Teton National Park we saw gorgeous mountain scenery.

Horseback riders in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park.

As the summer came to an end we swung through Colorado’s rugged Black Canyon of the Gunnison and picturesque Maroon Bells.

Happy Campers in Maroon Bells Colorado

Maroon Bells, Colorado.

Then we caught the stunning fall foliage season at the tiny town of Silverton high up the Million Dollar Highway on a mountaintop.

Fall Foliage in Silverton Colorado

Fall colors on the San Juan Skyway in Colorado.

Silverton Colorado in peak fall color

Silverton Colorado is so perfectly “authentic” it feels a little like a movie set!

Returning to Arizona for the winter of 2014-15, we got a distant glimpse of Monument Valley.

RV trip to Monument Valley Arizona

Monument Valley views from Arizona.

Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is lush and full of life, and we saw some wild (feral) peach faced lovebirds that have taken up residence in Phoenix in the nesting holes created by other birds in the saguaro cactus.

Peach faced lovebird in saguaro cactus in Phoenix Arizona

A peach faced lovebird peers out of a saguaro cactus in Arizona.

One afternoon a big thunderstorm whipped across the valley followed by a gorgeous rainbow that filled the sky above the cacti.

Rainbow over field of saguaro cactus in Phoenix Arizona

A rainbow and cactus — what a great mix!

As our travels expanded through the years, so did this website, and we had the crazy experience in Quartzsite of being recognized by a few people here and there. This surprised us and made us feel very special. But we faced a few bumps in the road as this website found its niche in cyber space too.

One day I got an email from a woman threatening me with legal action if I didn’t take down our website immediately. She had trademarked the phrase “Roads Less Traveled” and other variants of those words and felt our domain name violated her trademarks.

I was shocked, but luckily a knowledgeable friend of mine calmed me down. It turns out that domain names and trademarks are two very different things. Besides, there is a very popular book with a similar name and at the time there was a TV show as well.

Ironically, she had purchased several similar domain names a year or two before I purchased “RoadsLessTraveled.us,” and by the time she contacted me our two websites had been living amicably side by side on the internet for many years with nary a squabble between them. So I decided to take it as a compliment that our website was growing in popularity and getting noticed!

Columbine flower

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A few years later, as I researched the steepness gradient on a remote road in Utah for an article I was writing on the towing capability of our truck, I poured through everything I could find online about this particular road, as no one, not even the Utah Department of Transportation, seemed to know exactly how steep it was.

In the process, I bumped into an old news article about upcoming road construction on that exact road, published by an affiliate of USA Today. I gasped when I saw my own photo from our website being used in this news article! Oddly, the photo was attributed to a nonexistent website.

Needless to say, I contacted the top dogs in the editorial department using the word “plagiarism” in large letters, and they quickly responded by paying us for the photo, removing it from the old news story, and chastising the news reporter.

Wild Horses of the Salt River Phoenix Arizona

Wild horses on Arizona’s Salt River.

These little hiccups were few and far between, but the responsibility of managing a website and writing regularly for a loyal readership had become a significant part of our lives. Over the years, it also taught me volumes about the shadier side of the internet, something I valued learning.

White Sands National Monument New Mexico RV trip

We visited White Sands National Monument in early 2015.
It’s like a mammoth beach — with no water.

In our first years of RVing we had seen diesel prices climb from about $1.89 a gallon to over $5.00 a gallon. And when we returned to RVing from sailing, the prices were hovering in the high $3’s and low $4’s. But by early 2015 prices had dropped dramatically to the very low $2 range.

This was our cue to make a long trip for the 2015 summer season!

Swinging through Big Bend National Park in Texas on our way to get our trailer brakes upgraded to electric over hydraulic disc brakes (an upgrade we highly recommend to everyone that tows a large fifth wheel trailer), we dashed out to Florida where we plunked right down in the soft white sand.

Pensacola Beach Florida RV trip

We arrive on the beach in northern Florida.

One of our goals in Florida was to upgrade our electrical system while staying at a friend’s house, replacing our wet cell batteries with Trojan AGM batteries, upgrading to an Iota converter, and replacing all the wiring as well. We eventually upgraded our inverter from an 1100 watt pure sine wave inverter to 2000 watts as well.

In between working on the trailer, we visited The Ringling museum and saw some baby sandhill crane chicks hatch right by the side of the road!

The Ringling Mansion and Museum Sarasota Florida RV trip

The Ringling museum in Sarasota, Florida.

Sandhill crane mom and chick and egg

A parent sandhill crane checks on its newly hatched chick and yet-to-hatch egg.

During the spring of 2015 we worked our way north from Thomasville, Georgia, where the Big Oak tree dwarfed us with its immense branches.

The Big Oak tree in Thomasville Georgia RV trip

Thomasville, Georgia.

Traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, we saw stunning wildflowers and many dramatic waterfalls.

Wildflowers seen in North Carolina RV trip

Wildflowers in North Carolina.

Dugger's Creek Falls North Carolina Blue Ridge Parkway RV Trip

Dugger’s Creek Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.

Dashing across the very busy states of Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, we finally stopped on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. Wow. The classic little New England harbors were filled with lobster boats and sailboats, and they were just beautiful.

Downeast Maine Harbor

Downeast Maine harbor with lobster boats!

Colorful sailboats at anchor on Mt Desert Island Maine_

Sailboats moored in Maine.

We’ve never seen wildflowers as big and bright and hardy as the lupines in northern Maine. They blanketed the landscapes everywhere in stunning shades of purple and lavender.

Happy campers in the wild lupine flowers in Maine

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But it was the rugged beauty of Acadia National Park that really impressed us. The Carriage Roads interconnecting the various parts of the park were a thrill to ride.

Acadia National Park Maine bicycling on the Carriage Roads

Cycling under an old stone bridge on Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads.

Venturing further north along the coast we came to the “matching” Quoddy Head lighthouses in the waters around the American/Canadian border.

The West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Lubec, Maine, looks like Pippi Longstocking’s stocking, while the East Quoddy Head Lighthouse on the far north end of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, has a big bold red cross on it.

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse Maine

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Maine.

East Quoddy Head Lighthouse Campobello Island New Brunswick Canada

East Quoddy Head Lighthouse on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada

But our lighthouse magic reached its zenith when we went to Nova Scotia’s south shore and saw the most thrilling sunset burst into color all around classic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.

Peggys Cove Lighthouse sunset on Nova Scotia RV trip

Peggys Cove Lighthouse in southern Nova Scotia, Canada.

Peggy’s Cove was a sheer delight with a handful of brightly colored lobster boats crammed into a tiny harbor.

Peggys Cove Nova Scotia lobster boats

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia.

Equally magical was the nearby town of Lunenburg which is as quaint as can be.

Lunenberg Nova Scotia sailboats seen on RV trip

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia.

At the northeast end of Nova Scotia we drove the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island where the small harbors were equally charming but were backed by the rugged Highlands shoreline.

Lobster boats in White Point on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island RV trip

White Point on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

We had now traveled from Arizona to Florida to Nova Scotia, which definitely counted as a long trip that took advantage of the cheap diesel prices! On our way back we took a ride on the unique Cog Railway train that claws its way straight up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

Mt Washington Cog Railway White Mountains New Hampshire RV trip

Mt Washington Cog Railway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire RV trip

Further west and south we fell in love with the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York where the old fashioned lifestyle of a large Amish community creates the very real image of what America looked like a century or more ago when everyone outside the cities lived on a small farm.

Amish buggy in Finger Lakes New York

An Amish “courting” buggy for a young Amish man (open air seating for two).

Amish farmers at Seneca Auction New York Finger Lakes RV Trip

Amish farmers at the Seneca Produce Auction in the NY Finger Lakes.

Wildlife abounds in some parts of the Finger Lakes, and we were stunned when we looked out the window and saw two fawns and a fox stop dead in their tracks to stare at us!

Two fawns and a fox at Seneca Lake New York Finger Lakes RV trip

A once in a lifetime shot!

The Finger Lakes have many beautiful waterfalls, and at Watkins Glen State Park we found some of the best we’ve every seen.

Watkins Glen waterfalls New York Finger Lakes RV trip

Watkins Glen State Park, New York.

Beginning our journey back out west, we were lured across the Ohio River by an absolutely charming town on the Kentucky side of the river called Maysville.

Maysville Kentucky on the Ohio River

Maysville, Kentucky, is a sweet town perched on the edge of the Ohio River.

To our utter astonishment, we were welcomed into the Maysville community like long lost family. We found kindred spirits of all kinds at the local watering hole, O’Rourke’s Neighborhood Pub.

Suddenly we found ourselves being taken on a personal tour of the tobacco fields during the harvest season, and we even became friends with the mayor. We did a 5k run, went to a church fair and hit a free concert at the opera house, and we learned the secrets behind the beautifully renovated Masonic temple which houses the visitors center and a gallery. To our complete surprise, we also ended up on the front page of the local newspaper!

Perhaps what impressed us most in Maysville was the resilience and spirit we found. Living with the seasonal threat of devastation from Ohio River floods, and with daily challenges caused by the demise of the tobacco industry, their flood wall keeps the water out and their warm and friendly community keeps the happiness in!

Maysville Kentucky RV trip

Maysville, Kentucky, will always have a special place in our hearts.

One of the many reasons we had left the sailing life behind was the incredible amount of work it takes to maintain a sailboat in the corrosive salt water environment. Keeping Groovy in good shape had been a full-time job for both of us.

Our trailer had never needed much of anything other than minor tweaks and small preventive maintenance projects here and there. But after we left Nova Scotia in the summer of 2015 we were hit with a series of major breakdowns.

The first was a bent spindle on one of our trailer axles, and we limped to Bangor Maine from Nova Scotia to have the entire axle replaced. Luckily, our extended warranty covered the repair!

Then, after leaving Maysville, our refrigerator died. This time we limped to the outskirts of Indianapolis to get a new RV refrigerator installed. Again, luckily, our extended warranty covered the repair.

Sunrise at Tuttle State Park Manhattan Kansas

Arizona has consistently beautiful sunrises, but this stunner was in Tuttle Creek, Kansas!

Then we had a slew of water leaks, ranging from a mysterious roof or window leak to several plumbing issues, and for those repairs we went to Chanute, Kansas, and again we were very grateful that our extended warranty covered the work.

Thinking that we were all done with major repairs, we headed west through New Mexico where we stopped at the town of Tatum which is decorated from head to toe with fantastic metal art work.

Tatum New Mexico metal art seen on RV trip

Tatum, New Mexico, has wonderful metal art all around town, thanks to two unique artisans.

But we had one more major repair in store when our trailer’s suspension failed all together. Once again, our extended warranty came to the rescue, but we had a hunch we were pushing our luck!

Back in Arizona once again at the end of 2015, we had the really fun experience of buying a new Dodge Ram 3500 dually truck that was sold with an electric guitar signed by Mark’s longtime rock idol, Alice Cooper. By a quirk of good luck we got to meet him too!

Alice Cooper guitar on our 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 Dually truck

Which does this happy guy love more, the brand new truck or the Alice Cooper guitar??

Since we started traveling, we have collected the special “WPA” postcards at all of the National Parks we’ve visited, and we have them displayed on our trailer walls.

National Parks WPA Postcards

National Parks “WPA” Postcards.

National Parks WPA Postcards

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There were quite a few National Parks we hadn’t been to yet, and diesel prices were still low when the winter of 2016 rolled into spring, so we planned another long trip for the year, this time to the National Parks in the Canadian Rockies. We hoped to hit a few other National Parks on our way there and back.

First up, though, was a visit to the glorious red rock country of Sedona, Arizona, once again.

mountain biking in Sedona Arizona on an RV trip

It’s hard to keep your eyes on the trail while mountain biking in Sedona, Arizona.

Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona sunset on an RV trip

Cathedral rock revels in a last minute burst of color during a gloomy sunset in Sedona.

Venturing north, we stayed with the red rocks through northern Arizona into southern Utah.

Mountain biking in the Arizona red rocks on an RV trip

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Canyonlands National Park RV Trip Needles District

Canyonlands National Park – Needles District – Utah.

The area around Moab, Utah, is littered with National and State Parks, and we gorged on endless stunning vistas for a few weeks, visiting Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park along with many other fantastic locales.

Moab Utah RV Trip

The back side of Moab, Utah — This should really be the Front Door!

Arches National Park RV Trip

Arches National Park.

Leaving Moab and taking back roads through northern Utah and southern Idaho, we saw stunning snow-capped mountains and gorgeous rural scenery.

Snowcapped mountains Logan Utah

Snowy peaks in northern Utah.

Pushing further north, the charming town of Philipsburg, Montana, was a delight, and seeing a herd of elk dashing across a highway and over a fence into a meadow was a thrill.

Phillipsburg Montana RV Trip

Picturesque and inviting Philipsburg, Montana.

Elk crossing road and jumping fence in Montana

A herd of elk crosses the highway and bike path and then jumps the fence to safer pastures.

Even though our earlier travel years were filled with daily “firsts,” we still had plenty of new experiences on a regular basis even though we were now nine years into this lifestyle.

As a city girl, the only four legged creature I had ever ridden was at the church pony ride as a child, but special friends in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley made sure I got to know their horse Snipper, and I took a gorgeous ride across pastures and farm fields with my friend and mentor, Bob, under the watchful eye of the mountain peaks.

Horseback riding in the Bitterroot Valley Montana

A horseback ride in Montana — What a place to ride a horse!

The most dramatic “firsts” of 2016 were the many jaw dropping vistas that greeted us day after day as we traveled through the Canadian Rockies. The Rocky Mountains in America are lovely, but the craggy, spiky peaks in Canada blew us away completely.

Kootenay National Park Waterfall RV trip

Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Visiting each of the four adjacent Canadian National Parks in the heart of this stunning mountain majesty, our eyes popped out of our heads repeatedly.

Banff National Park RV Trip to Canada

Banff, Canada.

Icefields Parkway RV Trip to Canada

Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Canada.

Dawn at Lake Louise Banff National Park RV trip

Dawn at Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada.

Peyto Lake Icefields Parkway RV Trip to Canada

Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway in Canada

This area is also home to lots of large animals whose presence isn’t a hidden mystery. We had to stop the truck for big horn sheep in the road on several occasions, and we saw a few bears quite close by too.

Black bear Kootenay National Park RV trip Canada

Large animals were common all over the Canadian Rockies.

But it was the vivid blue and turquoise water of the glacial lakes and rushing rivers that gave these places their truly majestic beauty.

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park RV trip to Canada

Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park, Canada.

Emerald Lake Yoho National Park RV Trip

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada.

When we started traveling full-time in 2007, many people we met didn’t have an email address. We used a payphone card to make phone calls at outdoor phone booths whenever we needed to talk to someone at a distance, and we had already been on the road for a month when the iPhone was first introduced.

One of the crazy things over the past ten years has been the rise of the smartphone, and nowhere was this more noticeable than in the Canadian Rockies.

Canada’s National Parks are hugely popular with guests from every country in the world, and as we fought our way to the front of mobs of people at many of the overlooks, we were taken aback by the insane cell phone selfie mania that seemed to have overtaken the human race.

Moraine Lake sunrise near Lake Louise Banff National Park RV trip to Canada

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada

When we returned home from our life afloat in Mexico we discovered that America was in love with smartphones. Folks had been just as obsessed in Mexico — our very special friend in Puerto Madero had two cell phones, one for his wife and one for his mistress — but we were so busy seeing the sights and trying to speak the language that we didn’t notice how much people were looking down at their phones.

On our RV trip during the 2016 season this phone obsession hit us like a ton of bricks. Everyone we saw in the National Parks on both sides of the American/Canadian border was either looking down at their phone or setting themselves up for a selfie portrait with a phone and a selfie stick. It was nuts!

We didn’t (and still don’t) have a phone, but I can’t say we didn’t join the crowd and take tons of selfies like everyone around us… of course we did!

Lake Louise Hike Banff National Park RV trip Canada

Getting to the Canadian Rockies early enough in the season to see lots of snow meant there was still ice on the lakes at higher elevations!

One of the coolest and most unexpected delights in the Canadian Rockies was sitting in the naturally heated swimming pools that are filled with steaming water that pours out of the hot springs.

Banff Upper Hot Springs Banff National Park RV trip Canada

Banff Upper Hot Springs.

But for all the drama of the scenery at Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks, it was only when we rounded the bend and came south through the less visited Kananaskis Country to the Alberta/Montana border at Waterton Lakes National Park that we found both the charming intimacy of a small village and the breathtaking vistas of mother nature all in one place.

Waterton Lakes National Park RV trip Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park RV trip Canada

Waterton Shoreline Cruise from Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada to Glacier National Park in America.

Alberta’s Waterton Lakes borders Montana’s Glacier National Park, and the awe-inspiring views continued to fill our camera lenses.

Logan Pass Glacier National Park Montana RV trip

Going to the Sun Road at Glacier National Park in Montana.

Two Medicine Glacier National Park Montana RV trip

Kayaks on the beach at Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana.

The summer of 2016 was in full swing, and we were delighted to find two fabulous beach towns nestled in Idaho’s mountains: Sandpoint and McCall.

Summer on the Payette Lake beach in McCall Idaho

Beach Town USA – McCall, Idaho!

After enjoying some beach time in Idaho, raging wildfires filled the air with smoke, so we drove all the way to southern Utah’s clear skies at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sunrise Bryce Canyon National Park Inspiration Point Utah RV trip

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park’s Inspiration Point in Utah.

In late September, we drove the golden hued San Juan Skyway in southwestern Colorado where the aspens were showing off their vibrant cloaks of yellow and orange.

Fall foliage golden aspen San Juan Skyway Colorado RV trip

Reflections of autumn on the San Juan Skyway in Colorado.

Visiting the Colorado Rockies when fall begins to nudge winter is always a flirtation with very cold weather, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by snow.

RV in a snow storm San Juan Mountains Colorado

What do you do when it snows unexpectedly? Build a snow man!

But what gorgeous views waited for us once the snow stopped falling!

Golden aspens in snow San Juan Mountains Colorado RV trip

Magic happens when Fall and Winter mix
in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

One of the cool things we’ve learned in our unusual outdoors oriented lifestyle over the years is the wonders of the night sky. We had never paid much attention to the phases of the moon in our former lives, and seeing the sky filled with stars wasn’t possible where we used to live our workaday lifestyle.

But living on the ocean had taught us about the moon. We relied on that beautiful orb in the sky to light our way on our overnight sailing passages in Mexico. Whenever we could, we timed our nighttime sailing voyages to coincide with a full moon or a moon that would be up there as our friend among the stars for as many hours of the night as possible.

The coast of Pacific Mexico is often too hazy and cloudy to give the stars much of a chance to show off their best sparkle, but now in our land based lives we could seek out dark moonless skies in hopes of seeing of the Milky Way.

Ironcially, after unhappily losing sleep on the ocean due to wild waves and swell, we now deliberately got out of our warm bed to chase both sunrises and the Milky Way all night long!

At Grand Canyon’s North Rim we got a good view of the Milky Way.

Milky Way Grand Canyon National Park North Rim RV trip

Hiking at night at Grand Canyon’s North Rim in Arizona.

Ultimately, improving our skills as photographers remained at the top of our “makes us happy” list, and we traveled both lesser known and well trodden paths to see America’s most sensational vistas as 2016 drew to a close.

Lower Calf Creek Falls Utah RV trip

Lesser known Lower Calf Creek Falls in Utah.

Zion National Park in Utah RV trip

World renowned Zion National Park in Utah

Back when we moved off our sailboat, we vowed we would include lots of international travel in our mix of destinations. Yet in the three years since we’d left our sailing life hadn’t gotten on a single plane to go see a foreign country.

We changed all that in January and February of 2017 when we took a very long 24 hour flight with three legs to Bangkok Thailand.

Chao Phraya River cruise Bangkok Thailand

Cruising the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand.

As soon as we landed, our foreign travel instincts from Mexico returned, and we traveled all over Thailand for a month.

Interestingly, before we left for Thailand we faced the same fears and concerns we had had before we started traveling in Mexico: Would we be safe? After all, southern Thailand has seen an awful lot of terrorist attacks. Would we like it? Would it be worth the time and money to go?

In the end, Thailand was surprisingly similar to Mexico. Thailand has the same climate and vegetation as Mexico and both have a similar “developing” economy and stature in the world. Except for the language and the Buddhist temples, being in Thailand felt very much like being in Mexico..

This was a huge surprise. We had thought Thailand would be dramatically different from anything we had ever experienced.

However, in Cambodia we found a world totally unlike our own in North America.

Angkor Wat temples Cambodia adventure travel

The ancient Khmer temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia were stunning.

Although the ancient Khmer temples at Angkor Wat were a lot like the Mayan ruins in Mexico, both in form and in their time period in history, and even though the locals in Cambodia were just as warm and friendly as the good people we had met in Mexico, our eyes were opened wide with a gut wrenching seriousness when we learned what happens to people when a totalitarian regime takes over a country — as happened in Cambodia in the 1970’s.

Sharing photos with Cambodian kids

Mark shows his photos to an excited group of Cambodian kids.

While western countries flirt with the notion of massive government systems that “take care of” (control) their citizens from cradle to grave, enforcing political correctness, silencing dissenting views, and creating a kind of egalitarian serfdom for the populace, according to the world view, whims and needs of a ruling elite, everyday Cambodians have some hair raising stories to tell about their personal experiences living under such a regime.

I haven’t yet written about what we learned in Cambodia, but perhaps I will eventually. I also haven’t written about the very beautiful week we spent in Hawaii right after that!

Angel fish Hawaii snorkeling adventure

An angel fish passes wtihin arm’s reach as we snorkel in Hawaii.

There are only so many hours in the day, and in an effort to fill those hours with the things we love — real life adventures and a lifelong photography learning curve — the storytelling sometimes has to be curtailed, or I’ll never get off my Lazy Boy chair!!

Happy photographers in aspen trees Colorado

Photography is a hobby that will keep us engaged into old age. What fun!

This brings us to the present moment as we travel across New Mexico after an early spring spent in northeastern Arizona.

As always, we are entertaining many ideas for the future, some of which might come to pass and others of which will wait for another time.

Wherever we go in our next ten years of life, we will keep posting our tales, our discoveries, and our photos. We hope you will continue to come along too and that you’ll find inspiration to live life with gusto and pursue your own wildest dreams too.

Every day is another chance to make your dreams come true

Great words to live by!

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An Overview of Our First 10 Years of Full-time Travel + Reflections after 9 Years!

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10 Years of Full-time RVing and Sailing!! – The Early Years…

“Life is a Book, and those who don’t travel read only a page.” —St. Augstine, 354-430 AD

This week we are celebrating our 10th anniversary of taking off to travel full-time. As I look back on these immensely fulfilling years, I realize how right St. Augustine was when he wrote those insightful words 1,600 years ago.

Our ten year RV and sailing voyage has been an unbelievable journey in every way, and we still wake up every day feeling blessed and fortunate to live the way we do.

What a cool life!

10 years of full-time RV travel and sailing

May, 2017. Where did the years go?

Ten years is a significant chunk of our lives. When we started, we were passionate cyclists, and that hobby defined not only our every waking hour but our relationship too.

Now our days revolve around sightseeing, photography, meeting new people, writing about our experiences and moving from place to place. The evolution makes sense, though, because a big part of our love of cycling — and of bicycle touring especially — was being outdoors and seeing new scenery and camping.

Looking back at all we’ve been through for the last 10 years, we wouldn’t change a thing.

To celebrate our 10 years on the road, I have dug through our memories and older photos to find the images and moments that stand out in our minds. This post and the next share our full story and our evolution. It’s a long story, but to me, the best ones always are.

We began with a brand new 27′ travel trailer pulled by the Toyota Tundra we had originally purchased to tow the popup tent trailer that had taken us on many wonderful vacations and weekend getaways and introduced us to RVing.

1st full-time RV home travel trailer

Home sweet home – May 2007!

The interior was open and airy, and we were thrilled beyond belief to downsize our lives to be able to live comfortably in this pretty little rolling home.

Travel trailer interior first full-time RV home

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Travel trailer interior 1st full-time RV home

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Our first year was a whirlwind of “Wow” and “This is the First Time Ever!” experiences.

Yosemite National Park was one of our first major destinations after we picked up our trailer near Dallas, and all the major National Parks were at the top of our “must do right away” list.

Happy RVers at Yosemite National Park California

Beautiful Yosemite National Park was one of our first destinations.

We loved dry camping with our popup, so we looked for dry camping campgrounds in our new lifestyle wherever we went. At California’s Westport-Union State Park, under the open sky and perched above the crashing surf, we installed our initial solar power system.

RV camping on the California coast

Camping overlooking the ocean was a great place to install our solar power system.

Continuing up the coast, we quickly learned how scary it can be to drive a “big rig” on the twisty coastal roads of northern California and Oregon where logging trucks barrel around the corners at full speed.

Mark quickly got used to it, though, and despite going down a wrong road and having the classic new RVer’s terrifying experience of being in a tight spot with nowhere to turn around, we made it to some gorgeous places along the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse Oregon RV trip

Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Oregon

In Oregon we traded our Toyota Tundra for a much stronger Dodge Ram 3500 truck and discovered the stunning beauty of the Cascade mountains in Washington. Mt. Rainier seemed to pose in the background of every view.

Mt. Rainier RV roadtrip to Washington

Mt. Rainier in Washington

Seeing snow-capped mountain peaks was yet another “first.” At Olympic National Park we were awed by Hurricane Ridge, especially watching a bunch of kids heading up the mountains to go snow boarding in the middle of July!

RVers at Hurricane Ridge Olympic National Park Washington

Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington

We took the ferry to Vancouver Island and scooted along the coast to Campbell River.

Witnessing real live sheepdog trials, and seeing goats living on a rooftop, and walking past houseboats in the harbor gave us more “firsts,” and taking our trailer on the ferry both ways was not just a “first” but a total thrill.

Back on the mainland we continued our insatiable quest for Beautiful Places at a breakneck speed.

Diablo Lake Washington scenic viewpoint on RV trip

Diablo Lake in Washington

Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park was soon in our sights, and it was only while looking at our photos of the steaming geysers later on in our rig that it dawned on me why the park is called “Yellowstone.”

Such was our simple innocence about this country we had lived in all our lives. It felt so awesome to be out seeing America up close.

Yellowstone National Park geysers at Mammoth

Geysers at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

One morning in Mammoth Campground at Yellowstone we woke up to see two young elk nuzzling each other right outside our window. Their courtship went on for 15 minutes while we watched them wide-eyed and glued to the window.

Young elk courting outside RV window Yellowstone National Park

Young elk nuzzling outside our trailer window!

More Yellowstone firsts included seeing wild burros, pronghorn antelope, and coming within a few feet of a bison.

Every day we were in a breathless state of ecstasy.

Besides whipping through our bucket list — which wasn’t very long back then — we woke up every day astonished to realize that we were free. Utterly free.

There was no alarm waking us up, no boss tapping his toes waiting for us, and no employees or kids needing our daily guidance.

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming RV travel

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

We actually felt a little funny about running away to such an awesome lifestyle so young. We were 47 and 53 years old, and everyone we met would ask in disbelief, “Are you retired?”

We hadn’t realized that the world of full-time travelers, and indeed the world of people in general who are out and about during the day on weekdays, is dominated by retirees.

We’d joke and say, “We’re not working at the moment. If we run out of money later, we’ll become greeters at Walmart!”

Mt. Rushmore National Park Presidents heads from scenic viewpoint RV rest area

Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

We zipped through South Dakota to finish establishing our residency there and then turned south.

Utah had become our favorite state during our vacation RV travels with our popup tent trailer, and in our first year on the road we discovered wondrous Goblin Valley where a little kid running ahead of me into the vast playground of red rock hoodoos yelled out: “This is Heaven!”

Goblin Valley State Park RV campground Utah

Camping at beautiful Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

Nearby, we hiked our first slot canyon, Little Wild Horse Canyon, and we loved every minute of slithering between the towering, curvy walls.

Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon Goblin Valley Utah

Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon in Utah

One of my lifelong dreams had been to become a published writer. As Halloween of 2007 neared, I decided it was time to put my writing dream to the test. Very much inspired by Kay Peterson who was a prolific writer and founder of Escapees RV Club, I wrote a feature length travel article about the ghouls and goblins of Goblin Valley for Escapees Magazine.

I didn’t know anything about editorial deadlines back then, so my submission was very late for the Halloween issue. But their super skilled editor at the time, Janice Lasko, sliced it down to an elegant single page and published it. OMG. I floated up to Cloud 9.

Since then my writing dream has been fulfilled…and so much more. I have now published over 100 feature articles in the RV and sailing industry magazines and was given my own little bi-monthly column on the back page of Trailer Life Magazine. What a dream come true!

Meanwhile, after an early winter season in the southwest in 2007-08, we discovered that Florida was enjoying a lot more warmth that year than Arizona was. So we dashed across the country and dipped our toes in the vivid waters of the Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Florida's Emerald Coast Pensacola Beach RV trip

Pensacola Beach on Florida’s Emerald Coast

If there is one huge lesson we have learned over the past ten years it is that traveling is a process of shedding one’s prejudices and preconceptions.

Before seeing a place, everyone has an idea of what it’s like, because we read things and see photos. But those are just postcard sized glimpses, and they are someone else’s vision.

It isn’t until you actually go and visit a place yourself that you can have any real notion of what it is really like there.

And so it was with Florida for me.

A tern on the beach in Florida

We discovered Florida’s beauty early in our travels and we’re so glad we did!

Mark had spent time in Florida growing up, but I’d been there only a few times to visit family, not to sightsee. The little I’d seen and the tales I’d heard of high rises on the beach in Miami, the cheesy tourist traps everywhere and the endless golf courses didn’t excite me much. So, when we began wandering all over the Florida with our trailer, I didn’t expect to fall in love with the state.

But I did. Florida is just wonderful!

We got down as far south as South Beach in Miami (oooh such clear and warm water — fabulous!) and we hung around the state through Spring Break which was soon in full swing everywhere.

While strolling down Daytona Beach one day, a phalanx of hot bikini clad babes approached us. Our jaws dropped as we stared at this line of teenage female perfection coming at us. I grabbed my camera and Mark quickly jumped into their midst and asked if we could take a photo.

Daytona Beach Florida Spring Break happy RV camper

Mark is one happy camper!

Needless to say, that photo made the rounds of all of his friends for the next 24 hours. The funny things was, as we both were waking up the next morning we said to each other simultaneously, “Did you notice that all of those girls had a belly button ring?”

The world was changing around us, but we hadn’t really noticed. And it would be a few more years before it really hit us just how fast and dramatically those changes were happening.

I had never heard the word “antebellum” before — I guess I wasn’t paying attention in high school — but I knew it well after seeing lots of antebellum mansions in Natchez, Mississippi. These “firsts” seemed endless in those early days.

Longwood antebellum mansion Natchez Mississippi

Antebellum mansion “Longwood” in Natchez, Mississippi.

Our 27′ travel trailer had proved to be too small that first winter. We had been living on solar power since we started this full-time RVing adventure, but our single 130 watt solar panel hadn’t quite been up to the job during the long dark nights of winter. Supplementing with oil lamps hung inside the trailer was okay, but not great!

We realized it was time for a new RV. We loved visiting RV dealerships and factories all over the country, and we had gathered a stack of fifth wheel brochures that was three inches thick. So, on a factory tour of the NuWa Hitchhiker fifth wheel manufacturing plant, we decided to take the plunge and trade up to a brand new year-old model that had been housed inside while it waited for a buyer.

The economy was beginning to stall in the spring of 2008, and we got a great deal on our new fifth wheel trailer. We now had cushy recliners in the back and three slide-outs.

To top it off, we installed 480 watts of solar power on the roof and a big solar charge controller and inverter in the basement. We had gotten hookups only a handful of times so far in this new and crazy lifestyle, but now we would now live as if we had electrical hookups all the time.

Happy RV travelers with fifth wheel trailer Valley of Fire State Park Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

We also discovered — after exhausting ourselves by running around so much — that we weren’t on vacation. All those beautiful places would still be there next month, so why run? We slowed way down, and the summer of 2008 gave us a full and glorious month at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. With diesel prices topping $5/gallon at the North Rim, it was an ideal time not to drive long distances!

Imperial Point Grand Canyon North Rim RV roadtrip

Imperial Point at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

This was followed by a month at Bryce Canyon National Park and nearby Red Canyon in Utah.

Bryce Canyon Inspiration Point RV travel

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

During that summer I started this website. I was so grateful for the (very few) sailing and RVing websites that existed before we started our RV adventure, that I wanted to put our journey and discoveries out there for others to be able to learn from too.

Building this website added a fun new dimension to our travels. We now had a special home for all our photos, and it motivated us to try to capture really special images.

Old Roads Less Traveled Website

Here’s how this website looked before I converted it to WordPress in 2012!

We had graduated from our first “Year of Discovery” to our second “Year of Exploration.”

We were still shocked to wake up every day and not have to go to work, and we were still saying “wow” on a regular basis. But our new phrase had became “What a cool area!” as we ventured to places that were off the beaten path and that weren’t posted with National Park Service signs.

Cathedral Gorge State Park near charming Pioche, Nevada, was one of those many jewels that caught our attention as we perused our DeLorme Atlas looking for places to go. Crawling in and out of its exotic pinnacles, we said to each other once again, “What a cool area!”

Cathedral Gorge State Park hiking in Nevada

Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada

Winter saw us back in the Sonoran desert of Arizona where the sunrises and sunsets are jaw-dropping… all the time!

Arizona sunset over fifth wheel trailer RV

Sunset in Arizona.

While buzzing around Arizona and experiencing the wild and crazy boondocking scene in Quartzsite, we were absolutely thrilled to have one of our photos of our rig land on the cover of Escapees Magazine, an incredible “first” of what has since then grown into a collection of 23 magazine cover photos.

Escapees RV Club Magazine Cover Jan-Feb 2009 Bryce Canyon UT

Our first magazine cover image
Jan/Feb 2009 cover of Escapees Magazine

Flush with excitement, we zipped out to Florida again to get a whiff of salt air and some sand between our toes.

While watching the boats coming and going on the Florida coast, my yearning to see the world from the deck of a sailboat hit me full force. We had originally thought our travel adventures would be on the ocean, but we had changed our minds at the last minute.

Being on the water revived our idea of going sailing, and we soon immersed ourselves in the search for a suitable and affordable sailboat.

The search took us from Florida to California, and we made four offers on various Hunter 44 and 45 sailboats. We even paid to survey a sailboat in Oakland that we ended up not buying after we hauled it out and took a closer look with a professional yacht surveyor!

Hunter 44DS haul-out and survey

Buying a sailboat was a long process. We paid to haul this one out, but discovered the seller’s definition of “mint condition” was not the same as ours!

In 2009 the economy was in free fall. We knew that with every month that passed, the quality of boat we could afford was getting better and better. But it took the boat owners a full year to realize their beloved yachts weren’t worth what they once were, and California boat brokers are a ruthless bunch to boot.

In our excitement (and terror) at planning a jump from RVing to sailing, we zipped down I-5 in California from one prospective boat to the next. Catastrophe struck while en route to yet another survey and haul out prior to closing.

With a full 10% of the purchase price down on a boat (required by California brokers), we had an accident while driving to the marina with our trailer, and I found myself on the side of the I-5 freeway in tears on the phone with our broker who absolutely refused to refund our money and give us time to regroup and get our rolling home repaired. If we didn’t show up for the survey before the contracted deadline, he said fiercely, we’d lose our money.

More tears and much anguish later, I eventually got the government agency California Boating and Waterways to intervene, and we got our money back. But we hightailed it out of the shark infested waters of California boat buying and sought solace with family in Michigan while our trailer spent seven weeks in a repair shop in California.

After a week or so of family visits in Michigan, we got the travel bug again. We rented a car and did a car/hotel tour of the perimeter of Michigan’s mitten and even got up into the Upper Peninsula. What a gorgeous state! We loved all the small towns that perch on the shores of pretty Lake Michigan.

South Haven Lighthouse Michigan at sunset

Sunset at South Haven Lighthouse in Michigan.

Once our trailer was back in order, we resumed our travels out west and found paradise once again in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

RV camping Sawtooth National Forest Idaho

Camping in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

We continued to check Yachtworld (the boating MLS service) every day, and saw that boat prices were continuing to fall as 2009 progressed. But we relished our RV travels so much it almost didn’t matter if we made our (my) sailing dream come true or not.

Mark was as enthusiastic about going cruising as I was — we had both been enchanted by the book An Embarrassment of Mangoes about sailng the Caribbean — but the primal urge to live on a sailboat and travel by sea was really mine. Yet I had to admit that every day of our RVing lives was a total thrill too, and during the summer of 2009 we enjoyed every minute in our buggy.

We had never known any true cowboys or cattle ranchers in our previous city based lives. As we traveled the west in these early years we were fascinated to meet and spend time with several different ranchers, and we learned terms like “section” which equates to 640 acres or a square mile of land.

Chatting with one old rancher and his wife out camping, we were amazed to hear their stories of ranching on horseback decades ago as they raised cattle on their SIX SECTIONS of land in eastern Wyoming!

They joked that their kids now do it today with ATV’s. How cool is that? And how would we have ever met that couple if we’d stayed home in our old lives?!

Helmville Rodeo bronco riding Montana

Our first rodeo — Helmville Rodeo in Montana.

By the fall of 2009, we had enjoyed two winters of RV life split between the southwest and Florida, but I just couldn’t spend another winter freezing in our RV again! Both Arizona and Florida are warm states, but the cold winter storms that swing through are much colder when boondocking in an RV!

Besides, if we were going to cruise the tropics in a sailboat, we had to decide whether we’d sail the Caribbean or the Pacific coast of Mexico. It was time to talk to some cruisers in the Caribbean.

On the beach in Grenada eastern Caribbean

On the beach in Grenada – What could be better than a winter in the tropics?!!

We hopped on a plane and flew to the Grenadines. We had sailed together in the British Virgin Islands and I had sailed in the Grenadines in my previous life twenty years prior. How different it was to visit on a land-based trip! Unfortunately, the locals weren’t friendly and we had a bad experience with an official in Bequia.

But that didn’t keep us from having a fantastic time, and it didn’t stop our obsession with Yachtworld either. It just confirmed that we weren’t going to buy a boat on the east coast.

Then, out of the blue, our dream boat came up for sale in San Diego — for a song. It was a one year old, unimproved, vanilla boat, perfect for the major upgrades we wanted to install ourselves. We had known about this boat for a while, but it had been priced out of reach. However, the failing economy had put it into foreclosure, and suddenly, with the impromptu submission of an online bid that was lower than low, the boat was ours.

Carriacou in the Grenadines eastern Caribbean

Carriacou Island in the Grenadines.

We cut our 3-month Caribbean excursion short and left after just 3 weeks to dash to San Diego on a hastily arranged flight that included sleeping arrangements on a luggage conveyor belt at New York’s JFK airport as the New Year’s 2010 ball dropped in Times Square.

Our new 2008 Hunter 44DS sailboat was gorgeous. We quickly finalized the purchase and moved aboard, excitedly unlocking the padlock the bank had used to chain it to the dock.

What a fabulous life! We were in love with our beautiful yacht, Groovy. But our lives were now completely upside down!

Happy sailors ready to begin a cruise of Mexico

Holy smokes, we own a sailboat!

We rushed the trailer into covered storage in Phoenix and dashed back to San Diego to try to figure out how to sail this new boat.

My previous boat that I had lived aboard for four years in Boston Harbor had been just 36 feet long and had had only one sail (it was a wish-bone rigged Nonsuch). Mark had never sailed anything bigger than a Hobie Cat. But we were eager beavers, and we jumped into our new lifestyle with glee.

New cruisers learn about sailing and the cruising lifestyle

We had a learning curve ahead of us on this fancy 44′ yacht!

We sailed 70 miles down to Ensenada, Mexico, as part of our offshore delivery closing procedure, and we lived aboard the boat there for six months while we outfitted it and got used to being cruisers.

What a culture shock this was on all fronts!

Ensenada Mexico party central

Ensenada, Mexico, is a fabulous party town.

We had been living a very quiet and super easy lifestyle in our trailer where we camped for free every night and saw beautiful things every day. Now we were living in Mexico, a totally foreign culture with a foreign language and very different history than America’s. And we loved it.

Ensenada is a fun and vibrant city that is an absolute hoot to live in. We were lucky enough to be living at the swank Hotel Coral and Marina. Not only did we have electric and water hookups, we also had beautiful resort hot tubs and swimming pools right outside our door. What a life!

Over the years, we had found that the only way to get to know an area was to wander around on foot or by bike, and wander around Ensenada we did. The boat needed quite a bit of TLC, and we installed a fabulous solar power system on a beautiful arch on the transom. With every project we tackled, we needed to hit the town and buy some parts.

So, we walked all over Ensenada from one hardware store — or “Ferreteria” — to the next.

Hardware store ferreteria in Mexico

When we needed parts or tools anywhere in Mexico, the local Ferreteria was where we’d go.

I had studied Spanish before we ran off in our trailer in preparation for just such a life adventure, but Mark hadn’t. Yet he was the one who would walk up to the counter and say, “Buenos Días” with great confidence and then attempt to ask for whatever we needed in whatever Spanglish he could muster.

I was way too embarrassed to utter a sound at first, but over time I got past that. In the end, one of my greatest joys in our years in Mexico was reaching the point where I could hold a basic conversation in Spanish with a native speaker.

We returned to San Diego in the fall — anchoring out in one of the free anchorages every night — and we did our final preparations and upgrades for cruising.

Mark is a mechanical genius, and I was floored that he was able to complete the very complicated 60 gallon per hour water desalination system installation on our sailboat to convert ocean water to fresh drinking water while we were at anchor in San Diego Bay.

Our watermaker included two water strainers, 3 water filters and two 8′ long desalination membranes as well as a both low pressure and high pressure water pumps. It soon became Mark’s favorite part of the boat, and it produced enough water to wash the decks!

San Diego under full moon from sailboat in San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay

Catching the (more or less) downwind breeze out of San Diego in early November, 2010, we sailed 800 miles (at 7 mph) south to Cabo San Lucas and began our Mexico cruise for real.

Cabo San Lucas sailing adventure

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Then, crossing the Sea of Cortez at its widest spot, we traversed the 330 miles where the violent Pacific meets the raging Sea of Cortez and all hell breaks loose on a regular basis. The conditions were horrible.

Mark laid on the settee in the cabin for most of the trip, not seasick but not happy. “There is nothing about this I like!” he said at one point.

We laugh about that now, how I dragged him to the tropics — kicking and screaming — on a sailboat. But at the time I was just as miserable.

The 15′ waves chasing us down from behind 24/7 were terrifying. Our kitchen knife flew off the counter and landed like a dagger in the floor. Our stainless steel teapot flew off the stove just before I pulled the latch to allow the stove to swing in the massive waves, and to this day it still bears a huge dent in its side from hitting the companionway stairs, a friendly reminder each time we boil water of where our traveling lives have taken us.

Stainless steel teapot dented during Sea of Cortez sailing passage

Our stainless steel teapot got a big dent in it when it flew off the stove crossing the Sea of Cortez. We still use this teapot today in our rig…!

While Mark willed the world to stop rolling and let him off mid-ocean, I spent my time calculating and recalculating just how many more hours it would be until we made landfall.

Three days and two nights of sailing eventually got us across the open ocean to Mexico’s mainland. After dropping the hook and settling into Chamela Bay, for the next week I woke up every night in the middle of the night in a total panic as I felt Mark next to me in bed and wondered who in the heck was on watch in the cockpit steering the boat!

Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail a small boat around the world solo (1895-1898), had the same experience on his voyage. But in his delirious state, when he looked into the cockpit he saw Christopher Columbus at the helm! Now I understood exactly what he was talking about.

What made my confusion all the more real on those first frightening nights at anchor was that the boat moved constantly in the waves. The Pacific Ocean is anything but “pacific,” and the boat swung wildly all night every night.

Waves crashing in Chamela Bay Mexico Costalegre coast

Big waves at Chamela Bay on Mexico’s Costalegre.

We had to make more overnight passages as we continued south along the coast, and although we never liked them — we did 31 overnight passages all together in our nearly four years at sea — we eventually got used to them.

Mark would pass his time on watch learning to play new songs on his guitar, and I would pass my time by writing. Neither of us could sleep a wink while off watch, so these overnight passages were essentially all-nighters for both of us!!

Overnight passage on sailboat

Sailing at night has been described as galloping bareback through the woods blindfolded. Very apt!

But all that uncomfortable stuff aside, the sights we saw during the day were breathtaking.

Las Hadas resort in Manzanillo Bay was our first major stop, and we loved every moment we were there. It was the setting for the movie “10” and even without Bo Derek, this place was a “10” all the way.

Las Hadas Resort beach Manzanillo Bay Mexico

Las Hadas Resort beach in Manzanillo Bay, Mexico

Las Hadas resort marina Manzanillo Mexico

The condos next to Las Hadas Resort looked like something out of the Mediterranean!

We began meeting other cruisers, and several people who had been cruising in Mexico for a year already talked us into sailing further south to Zihuatanejo. And this was where we finally hit our stride as cruisers.

Fishing in Mexico

Mark does a little fishing from our dinghy tied to the back of Groovy!

It was Christmas but you’d never guess it on the beach. We got more and more laid back as we hung around this wonderful little tropical beach town. By day, we’d wander around on foot and on many afternoons we’d grab a $1 beer and “totopos” (salted fried tortilla chips) under a palapa (thatch beach umbrella) with our toes in the sand.

Before taking our dinghy back out to Groovy, we’d pick up a fish from the open air fish market on the beach for a yummy dinner aboard.

Fish market in Zihuatanejo Mexico

The fish market on the beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

And then we’d watch the sun set into the ocean. One night we even saw the green flash!

Sunset in the ocean Zihuatanejo Mexico

The sun fell into the sea in a flaming ball of red every night in Zihuatanejo.

An enterprising couple ran a concession for cruisers, taking orders over the VHF radio for anything from beer to diesel to propane to laundry service, and delivering the goods by boat later in the day.

Sailboats anchored at Las Gatas Beach Zihuatanejo Mexico

Zihuatanejo Bay, Mexico.

The VHF radio added a new and strange social element to our lives. Cruisers have virtual VHF radio gatherings every morning in the more popular anchorages, and suddenly we found ourselves hosting these morning rituals. Each boat in the anchorage would check in by name, and then any pertinent news would be announced.

After living such a private life in our trailer, we had suddenly turned into socialites. We gathered all the cruisers together for a Christmas Eve party at a local bar (to the bar owner’s delight). A week or so later, all the cruisers took their dinghies to Las Gatas Beach across the bay for a “pool” party in the water.

There was lots of activity of the non-human sort too. During the two month, 1,100 mile sail back up the coast towards the Sea of Cortez, we saw whales breaching quite close by.

Whale breaching Santiago Beach Manzanillo Bay Mexico

A breaching whale in Santiago Bay, Mexico.

Anchoring for an overnight at Isla Isabel off of Mazatlan, we hiked around the uninhabited island and saw blue footed boobies with their very fluffy babies!

Blue Footed Boobies birds and chicks Isla Isabel Mexico

Blue footed boobies on Isla Isabel.

One of the big surprises in Mexico was that the water was often murky. This was largely due to the frequent invasion of red tide which has a month-long lifecycle that turns the water from the color of Merlot to a dark brown and then to a mustard yellow.

Red tide Pacific Ocean Mexican coast

Red tide in an early phase of its lifecycle.

But up in the Sea of Cortez, in the spring of 2011, we found several anchorages filled with the beautiful turquoise water we had been dreaming of cruising in.

Many of the bays were picture postcard perfect.

Isla San Francisco anchored sailboats Sea of Cortez Baja California Mexico

Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez.

Anchoring in these bays was still a wild ride every night, and there wasn’t much sleep going on. But the tranquility and remoteness during the day was sublime. At one point we went for 17 days without access to the world via the internet. It is hard to imagine that now, but even then it was a shock to be that far removed from the Real World.

Agua Verde anchorage with sailboats Sea of Cortez Baja California Mexico

Agua Verde in the Sea of Cortez

The only people we saw were villagers in the tiny fishing hamlets and small towns that dot the coast.

Well… the villagers and Wilson, of course, who Mark found lying on a deserted beach not long after we’d watched the movie Castaway!

Stranded sailor finds Wilson

Wilson!!

One evening a boat full of people pulled up alongside Groovy in the pitch dark and offered to sell us some lobster. It was a family, and the mom had a toddler in her lap. We aren’t big lobster fans, so we jokingly asked if they had any Sierra which is a golden spotted fish also known as Spanish mackerel. They said no, but they could go get some.

Before we could ask what they meant, they zoomed off into the night. An hour later they appeared with a beautiful fish for us. We have no idea if they had thrown over a line and caught it or if they went back to their village and found someone who had one on ice somewhere, but it was a beauty and it was delicious.

Hunter 44DS sailboat Groovy anchored at Isla Coronado Sea of Cortez Baja California Mexico

Anchored at Isla Coronado in the Sea of Cortez.

One morning we heard slapping sounds outside the boat. We poked our heads out of the companionway and saw a school of rays leaping out of the water. They were popping up all over the place like popcorn. Some even did somersaults.

Flying mobula ray or manta ray Sea of Cortez Baja California Mexico

A mobula ray leaps out of the water.

Flying mobula ray or manta ray Sea of Cortez Baja California Mexico

These guys would fly out of the water and even do somersaults.

Cruising Mexico and anchoring out all the time often means dropping the hook in front of a luxury resort. Suddenly, in the middle of the Sea of Cortez where there is often nothing but raw nature, we came across the brand spanking new Villa del Palmar resort.

It had barely opened, and cruisers were welcome to walk up from the beach and have a drink at their poolside bar. Not bad!

We were given a tour, and looking out a window from high up in one of the towers, our tour guide explained how the six swimming pools had been laid out in the shape of a sea turtle.

Villa del Palmar Resort Loreto Baja California Sea of Cortez Mexico

Villa del Palmar Resort. The swimming pools are laid out like a sea turtle.

Cruising is not without its hazards, however, and on another morning we saw a boat impaled on a towering rock that jutted up out of the Sea of Cortez in th emiddle of nowhere. We found out later the singlehanding captain had dared a night crossing but had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Fortunately, a year or so later when we got down to Acapulco, we learned that he was able to repair his boat and continue cruising.

Sailboat crashed into rock Baja California Sea of Cortez Mexico

The sea can be unforgiving, and we saw and heard many terrifying tales of cruises gone bad.

By the end of that first cruising season we had very mixed emotions about the lifestyle. On our boat we had experienced higher highs and lower lows than in any other lifestyle we’d ever lived. It was thrilling and often extremely beautiful, but a lot of the time it was very trying as well.

We were “living the dream,” but was it a dream??

We had poured our life savings into buying and outfitting a sailboat for what we thought would be a 10 year off-and-on cruise, going home to our trailer during hurricane season each summer. But now we weren’t so sure about it all.

Bahia Concepcion Conception Bay Playa El Burro Playa Ensenada Baja California Sea of Cortez Mexico

Bahia Concepcion in the Sea of Cortez.

We left Groovy in San Carlos, Mexico, on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez and took the bus 10 hours north to Phoenix. We were thrilled beyond belief to get back in our little buggy and take off for Utah and northern Arizona for a quickie 12 week sojourn.

We loved everything about living in our trailer and camping in the jaw-dropping scenery of the western states, and it felt so great to be doing it again.

Cedar Breaks National Monument welcomed us with beautiful wildflowers and wonderfully brooding summer monsoon skies.

Happy RVers at Cedar Breaks National Park Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah.

But we loved many things about our life aboard Groovy too, as tough and gritty and salty and dirty as the cruising lifestyle could be.

After a quick dash from Flagstaff, Arizona, through the red rocks of Utah in our trailer, we returned to Mexico as “second season” cruisers, a status in the odd social strata of the cruising community that took us out of the class of rank beginners.

It felt great to know what we were doing, and in the course of a few months we sailed back down south from the middle of the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo and then on to Acapulco and finally to the spectacular Bays of Hualulco, about 1,600 miles all together.

Working the winches on a sailboat

Working the winches.

On our way south we revisited all the spots we had seen the year before, but Acapulco was a new and fabulous surprise. We watched the famous “La Quebrada” divers doing swan dives off the cliffs into the depths of the swirling ocean below, and we discovered that the outlying anchorages were absolutely wonderful and full of life.

Acapulco Cliff Divers of La Quebrada

La Quebrada Cliff Diver in Acapulco

One night we were awakened by whales singing to each other in the bay. The beautiful and mysterious sound was amplified by the hull of the boat and filled the cabin with exotic squeaks and squeals as we laid in bed! It seemed like the whales were all around us.

One morning Mark pulled up the anchor to find a sea horse staring at him as it hung onto the anchor chain with its tail wrapped around one of the links.

We discovered other wonders when we did some travels to inland Mexico too. Mexico is home to some truly stunning colonial cities that were built by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Oaxaca we found the cathedrals were ornately decorated and richly painted in gold leaf.

Cathedral at night Oaxaca Mexico Our Lady of Assumption

Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral in Oaxaca, Mexico

Inside Santo Domingo Cathedral Oxaca Mexico

Inside the Santo Domingo Cathedral in Oxaca Mexico

The city of Oaxaca is utterly charming, and we walked the many historic streets mesmerized by the colorful buildings and the very artsy and funky vibe.

Oaxaca Mexico street in the historic district

Historic street in Oaxaca, Mexico.

At night we visited the Zócalo, or town square, where several different celebrations and festivals were all going on at once. From a parade passing by to groups of Mariachi musicians playing on the corners and at the open air restaurants to a school reunion taking place in the middle of it all, Oaxaca came alive at night.

A trio of little girls dressed in traditional Oaxacan garb carrying baskets on their heads as part of their school celebration caught our eye.

Oaxaca children in traditional dresses at school festival Oaxaca Zocalo Mexico

Oaxacan children in traditional dress for a school celebration.

A little ways outside of town we visited the ancient Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban. These mammoth step pyramids dating back to the 7th century were mind boggling to see, and watching a school group in their red and white uniforms tour the ruins and answer their teacher’s questions was very special. This was a far cry from my school class trip to colonial America’s Sturbridge Village in western Massachusetts!

Monte Alban temple ancient Zapotec ruins Oaxaca Mexico

Monte Alban ancient Zapotec step pyramid in Oaxaca, Mexico

Sailing 400 miles further south to the last marina in Mexico’s state of Chiapas, right before the Guatemala border, we again took the bus inland to visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque. Again, we were stunned by the size and scale of this enormous, sophisticated and ancient city.

Palenque ancient Mayan ruins Chiapas Mexico

Palenque — ancient Mayan ruins in Chiapas, Mexico.

Taking a boat ride in an exotic long and skinny boat up the river that separates Mexico from Guatemala, we visited the very remote Mayan ruins at Yaxchilan and Bonampak.

Bonampak lies in a part of Mexico where indigenous people lived unbeknownst to westerners until they were discovered by two American explorers in 1929. Their descendents are now park rangers and they showed us the fantastic frescoes that line the walls of one of the temples, depicting the life and times of ancient nobles.

Fresco in Bonampak Mayan ruins Chiapas Mexico

A fresco depicting the lives of Mayan nobles in Bonampak.

When we left our sailboat in Marina Chiapas in Mexico and flew back home to our trailer for six months in the summer of 2012, how amazing it was to look at the petroglyphs in Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and realize that they were pecked out of the rocks some 500 years after the frescoes had been painted on the walls of Bonampak 2,500 miles to the south!

Petroglyphs Dinosaur National Monument Utah

Petroglyphs depicting… ummm… I’m not sure! In Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

As we took our buggy from Arizona to Montana, our heads were spinning by all we’d seen, and we were beginning to feel a depth and breadth in our souls that hadn’t been there before.

We felt like we were beginning to blossom into true adventurers. Even better, we were developing a budding understanding of the world beyond our back yard.

Sunset Miner Creek RV camping trip Montana

Sunset in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana.

As we visited the gorgeous Bitterroot Valley with our special friends and hosts in Montana and traveled to Flaming Gorge in Utah in the summer of 2012, we began to ponder what had happened to us in the last five years.

Rainbow Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area Utah

A rainbow over Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Utah.

We had set out to have an adventure in a small trailer, and we’d ended up learning how to live on the ocean in a foreign country with foreign customs and a foreign language.

Our desire to see the National Parks in the American West had expanded to take us to world renowed ancient ruins at several UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mexico.

Living abroad had taught us to see the world differently than we had before, and we felt different inside too.

Happy RVers Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area Utah

Flaming Gorge, Utah.

Our interests were continuing to evolve as well, and photography was becoming more and more important to our daily lives. We wanted to do more than simply document what we saw. We wanted to learn how to take knock-your-socks-off photos!

We attended a terrific photography workshop in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado given by a photography blogger that Mark had been following for a long time, Nasim Mansurov. Those short three days ultimately became a significant turning point in our lives.

Sunrise San Juan Mountains Colorado Rocky Mountains RV trip

Fall color at sunrise in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

We returned to Groovy in the fall of 2012 knowing it would be our last year afloat and brimming with excitement to make the absolute most we possibly could of our final season of cruising.

Continued at: 10 Years of Life on the Road – 2nd Half!

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Inspirational and reflective posts about the RVing and cruising lifestyles:

Ex-pat Life on a Sailboat in Mexico:

An Overview of Our First 10 Years of Full-time Travel + Reflections after 9 Years!

Summaries of Each Year on the Road - All of our travel posts in chronological order:

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9th Anniversary of Full-time Travel by RV and Sailboat – Reflections!

Today is our 9th anniversary of traveling full-time. We left the comfort and security of hearth and home on May 22nd, 2007. We’ve spent this morning looking at old photos and reminiscing, and it’s amusing, sweet and very nostalgic. We are still the same people we were nine years ago, but we have changed and grown immensely, and our lives have taken delightfully unexpected twists and turns.

9 years of traveling full-time in an RV and sailboat

Time flies when you’re having fun – Today is our 9th Anniversary of traveling full-time!!
Here we are in our first year…a little green behind the ears but so excited to be free!

We’ve also mastered a lot of things related to travel, RVing, sailing, and living, and it’s all due enrolling in the School of Hard Knocks where we signed up for classes taught by the incomparable professor, Experience.

I know many of our readers are planning their eventual escape to a life of freedom on the road or at sea, and I know that in reading blogs like this one and many others, it is really easy to forget that all those exciting travel stories began somewhere, and in a lot of cases, like ours, that starting point was very humble.

Happy campers in the full-time RV lifestyle

Nine years later…seasoned travelers, but still so excited to be free!

I think a lot of future travelers look at the folks that are out there doing it already and want to jump into their lives full-blown and skip the learning curves and mistakes. I know I did! I read lots of magazine articles and books by sailors and other travelers and watched lots of inspiring videos before we left, and I wanted to blink myself into their shoes.

And I figured that by doing a lot of reading I could bypass all the silly mistakes they’d made.

2007 Fleetwood Lynx travel trailer for ful-time RV living

Our first full-time RV – a 2007 Fleetwood Prowler Lynx Travel Trailer, seen here on its first day!

But I’m really glad for all the notes we’ve taken in our classes with Prof. Experience and for all the difficult assignments and horrifyingly challenging exams he has given us over the years, and I’ve been thinking about a few of them today.

We took an enormous leap of faith on this day nine years ago, and we had a very busy, euphoric, scary and thrilling period of downsizing in the weeks leading up to our launch.

Everything we owned had to fit in the back of our ’04 Toyota Tundra or in an 11′ x 5′ shed in a friend’s back yard before we could drive 1,000 miles to pick up our brand new, bought-over-the-internet 2007 27′ Fleetwood Prowler Lynx travel trailer.

2004 Toyota Tundra for full-time RV travel

Everything we would be taking in our travels had to fit into the truck bed!

Unfortunately, during our first days of testing out our our new home in an RV park attached to a gas station a few miles from the dealership, we discovered that because the trailer had sat on the dealer lot in the wild Texas rains for a while, and a small leak in the RV refrigerator vent had resulted in mold growing under the refrigerator!!

If downsizing and evaluating all of our worldly possessions and choosing which ones to keep and which to toss hadn’t been stressful enough (and, as part of that, reviewing our entire lives up to that point — a very emotional task), driving 1,000 miles to move into a trailer riddled with mold could have put us over the edge.

But we gathered our wits together, made our plea to the dealership (Marshall’s RV in Kemp Texas), and fortunately, they were extremely accommodating and swapped out the rig we had bought for an identical one they had just received from the manufacturer the week before.

Phew!!

Moving from one Fleetwood Lynx Travel Trailer to another

We hit bumps in the road right off the bat with mold in our brand new rig. The dealer let us swap it for another!

Like most full-time travelers who have taken the plunge and hit the road or sailed off to sea, our memories of our first months of travel are as vivid today as when they happened 9 years ago.

After staying in RV parks in Texas, and struggling to figure out where the RV parks were, which ones were nice, and how to fit our rig into the small spaces, we gave boondocking a try one night in New Mexico.

We had no idea how boondocking worked, and we weren’t set up for it yet, but we just parked randomly and went to bed. We figured that if we woke up in the morning, still alive, and without having gotten a knock on the door in the middle of the night, boondocking was A-okay.

Lesson learned? In hindsight, we would never ever park in a place like that now. We were so close to the road the rig swayed every time a car went by. But what the heck did we know then? Nothing!! And thank goodness we gave it a try! The only thing that approached our rig that night was a herd of curious cows who came by in the morning.

A pair of boondockers was born that night, and our lives were changed forever!

Fleetwood Prowler Lynx travel trailer for full-time RVing

Our first boondocking spot. Hmm… we had a lot to learn about finding good campsites!

In New Mexico we stopped in a coffee shop where we met an unusual fellow who made and sold dream catchers. He had a beautiful one decorated with macaw feathers, and he offered it to me for free for good luck in our new full-time travels.

I was really touched by his generosity, but I knew that if we started collecting things, our new little buggy would be overflowing in no time. So I sadly turned him down and satisfied myself with a photo.

A theme of simple living without accumulating stuff had begun.

Dreamcatcher art made from Macaw feathers

How many cool souvenirs could we keep in this lifestyle?

As I chatted with him, two cowboys came into the coffee shop. We had never seen real cowboys before, and the cling-clang of their spurs as they walked made us smile. Wow!! We were seeing cool stuff!! This is why we went traveling!! Life was awesome!!

We both cracked up when the cowboys ordered their coffee. They wanted fancy latte drinks with all the trimmings. After placing their lengthy order, one said to the other, “When did coffee get so complicated?”

Indeed! We wanted to live the simple life

Travel experiences on the road in an RV

We discovered that the locals are the most interesting people we meet in our travels.

We were on a mission to get to the west coast, because our goal was Vancouver Island.

Driving the less traveled roads of New Mexico, we passed through an area that was filled with delightful metal art. Ranch gates were beautifully decorated with metal art, and a whole town was filled with it.

Most of my photos of this wonderful area are blurry because we drove through it so fast and didn’t stop. We’d left home just 8 days prior and we were in One Big Hurry.

This past fall, we went through Tatum, New Mexico, once again, but this time we stuck around and savored the flavor of this very cool little town and even met one of the artists responsible for the fantastic metal art.

We’ve learned to slow down in our tavels: Why rush?

Metal Art in Tatum New Mexico

Slowing down was a huge lesson for us.
Almost nine years later we returned to Tatum NM and explored it for real!

Once we got to California, we swung through a few National Parks at a lickety-split pace. We were ecstatic to be free, to be on our own, and to be living without an agenda (other than getting to Vancouver Island).

Such joy!!

Happy camper in the full-time RV lifestyle

Radiantly happy!

Looking at these pics now, we can see how the years have passed — we looked so much younger in those days — and it really drives home for us how important it is not to put off your dreams for too long.

Life has a funny way of slipping through our fingers, and if there’s one lesson we try to remember each and every day, it’s that life is very precious, very short, and deserves to be lived to the fullest.

Exploring California and Yosemite full-time RV lifestyle

Looking back, we were just kids then!

We had done a ton of camping in our popup tent trailer before we moved into this great big travel trailer, and we knew that we wanted to dry camp a lot in our new lifestyle too. In fact, we rarely got hookups even when we went to campgrounds.

This was possible because of a single little solar panel we’d purchased. When we stayed in the campground at Mammoth Lakes, California, we were still setting up the solar panel on the ground every day. It would be another few weeks before we’d get to a campground on the California coast overlooking the ocean where Mark would mount the solar panel permanently on the roof and run the wiring to the charge controller and batteries.

RV camping Mammoth Lakes California

We’ve learned a lot of technical things about RVing, including how solar power works.

I had hopes that we would become experts in various aspects of RVing like solar power. Little did I know that what we would learn about RVing and sailing would soon fill volumes — and actually does on this website as well as in 80 magazine articles! But that incredible acquisition of knowledge and expertise happens to all RVers and sailors who travel for a long time, it’s just that some are more inclined to write it all down.

A lot of people put off their full-time RVing dreams because it isn’t the right time. Either the housing market is wrong for getting out from under the house, or gas prices are too high, or the pension possibilities that might be coming after another five years of the grind at work are too good to pass up.

Gas prices June 2007 full-time RV travel and camping

Gas prices in May 2007
Whether they go up or down shouldn’t alter our dreams.

Yet I don’t think too many people on their deathbeds look back over their lives and say they should have spent more time in the office. And gas prices — well — you never know about those. We’ve seen prices bounce all over the place between $1.67 per gallon and $5+ per gallon in our nine years on the road!

These old photos are amusing too, because they show just how much the world has changed since we stopped living a conventional lifestyle. In the early days, I would look forward to being in places where I could get a copy of USA Today and read it at leisure over coffee.

RV camping first days of full-timing

The only things we still have in our lives today: me and that jacket!

One photo caught my eye because it shows me reading the newspaper with coffee made in a French Press I’d used in an earlier sailing lifestyle where there is unlimited rinse water all around the boat. I quickly ditched the French Press for a Melitta filter. And who reads the newspaper any more?

Perhaps the most interesting in the photo is that when we started out, we relied on travel and camping guides to decide where to go and where to stay. What I found, though, was that the travel guides were written by people who didn’t travel the way we wanted to. Their interests and opinions were different from ours, and their five star recommendations were often two stars in our book.

So we got rid of all travel guides and now rely on conversations with the locals and fellow travelers, Google searches (clicking on “Images”) to see what places look like, and our own instincts and current mood.

It can be scary to think about running off in an RV or sailboat to go traveling, and a lot of that fear has to do with giving up the things you cherish and that you know won’t be the same or even possible on the road. This is different for everyone, but for us it had to do with giving up intense, race-level cycling.

We rode as much as 250 miles a week before we began full-time RVing, and cycling was the focus of our daily lives. In our life on the road now, we ride every so often, but not intensely, not far, and, of course, not with the same group of friends that we once had.

Cycling and bicycling in the full-time RV lifestyle

Giving up cycling was the hardest part of going full-time for us, and in this early photo we were making a valiant effort to keep it up, but it has proved impossible to do. We miss it, but we wouldn’t trade our nine years of travels for it!

We aren’t as fit as we used to be, and we both sorely miss those days of panting for hours on end on gorgeous mountain climbs on 17 lb. race bikes. But would we trade nine years of travel for that fitness level and those hours in the saddle? Never.

The experiences we’ve had since we left home have shaped us and taught how to travel — something that takes time and patience — and we’ve been introduced to people, places and things that we never would have seen if we were still cycling those beloved routes round and round our old house.

For one thing, we had no idea when we started that we would buy a boat and cruise Mexico!

Perhaps best of all, we’ve been able to indulge a new passion that we felt budding in our old lives but couldn’t do much about while living in one spot: photography. When we started traveling, we loved our beginner cameras and used them bunches, but we knew nothing about how to take a photo or process it, other than the basics.

Now we live each day looking for beautiful places where we can improve our photography skills and enjoy the splendor of this world as much as possible. Our evenings are spent processing our photos.

When we started, we had absolutely no idea our travels would take us in that direction of personal development and fulfillment.

Happy RV campers at Bridal Veil Falls Yosemite National Park California

We were so thrilled to visit Yosemite our first year!

So, if you are pondering doing some travel, or have a dream of any kind that is lurking in the shadows, let it take wing and fly. Our evolution was gradual and is still unfolding. You can see that our beginnings were modest.

We didn’t jump into this lifestyle as full-blown RV experts or as professional photographers or published freelance writers. We didn’t start with any knowledge about solar power, and we didn’t start with a big fancy rig. All of that took time, and the educational process was extraordinary.

Canadian Rockies RV adventure travel

What we saw yesterday in the Canadian Rockies!!

So…

Dream Big and Go for it!!

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Other blog posts with our insights and reflections on living our dreams:

An Overview of Our First 10 Years of Full-time Travel + Reflections after 9 Years!

Summaries of Each Year on the Road - All of our travel posts in chronological order:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU above.

What Does It Take to Live The Dream?

There is no doubt that we are Living the Dream. We have been utterly blessed with wonderful experiences as we’ve traveled around by RV and sailboat. It’s as though the gods have reached down from the heavens and sprinkled us with fairy dust. And it keeps on twinkling!

Since we started our travels in 2007, we have driven 125,000 miles by land, sailed 7,000 miles on the ocean, taken 250,000 photos, published 100 magazine articles describing our experiences and things we’ve learned along the way, and landed 20 photos on magazine covers.

Much more importantly, we have fallen in love with life and each other all over again, and grown immeasurably as people.

Hiking Black Canyon of the Gunnison Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado

I know many of our readers are doing similar things or dream of doing them in the future. And for quite a few readers 2016 will be “The Year.” The very cool thing is that dreams definitely do come true. Ours did. Yours can and will too.

But what’s the trick to making it happen?

Before we started traveling full-time, we had both done a bit of travel, but not a whole lot. We were too busy living conventional lives that kept us rooted in a single neighborhood with a predictable pattern of commutes. We had both lived several different phases of that lifestyle over the decades, and although each one was rich and deep in its own way, we both yearned to get more out of our lives.

I had backpacked around Europe for a few months in college and did the same around Australia in my early thirties. Mark had gone on a huge motorcycle adventure through the Canadian Rockies and western states. But other than exploring the few hundred miles from where we’d lived, we knew very little about the country we’d been raised in.

Mountain biking in Sedona Arizona

Riding in the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona

We didn’t do a lot of planning or even all that much research before we set off in our RV. I had read cruising books and cruising magazines for much of my adult life, dreaming of casting off on the ocean and enchanted by people who set sail from some shore and wound up in exotic places in the Caribbean or the South Pacific.

From them, I knew that a life of independence, travel and freedom was possible. I just wasn’t sure how to put it together or when the opportunity would arise.

Sailboat at Las Hadas Manzanillo Mexico

Our boat Groovy bobs at anchor in the morning light
at Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Two books written by travelers really got my wanderlust humming. One traveler was Tania Aebi, a girl who took off to sail around the world as a teenager, and then, at the ripe old age of 21, wrote a fascinating coming-of-age story about her eye-popping adventures. It’s called Maiden Voyage, and I highly recommend it.

I had followed Tania’s monthly column in Cruising World Magazine and devoured her stories blow-by-blow as she inched around the world for two years. I was smitten.

She was a few years younger than me, and rather than spending every day commuting to an engineering job in an office park and writing software in a tiny cubicle while the world passed by beyond the out-of-view windows, she was in her bikini on her boat living an astonishing life.

I wanted that! But I couldn’t see a way clear…

Agua Verde anchorage with sailboat Mexico

One of the most beautiful anchorages in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez: Agua Verde

It made me wonder: what does it take to have a Big Adventure?

Tania’s father thought his rather headstrong daughter might be headed for teenage trouble where they lived in New York City. So, he made a deal with her. Rather than spend his money sending her to college for an education she probably wouldn’t appreciate, he bought her a small sailboat, outfitted it with some basic gear, helped her load it up with beans and rice and untied the dock lines for her.

Her job was to get around the world, come back to New York, sell the boat and give him whatever cash she got for it. In the meantime, she would get her education from what she affectionately came to call Ocean U.

Playa Las Gatas Zihuatanejo Mexico

The view from one of our favorite beaches, Playa Las Gatas, in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

But she wasn’t exactly an experienced old salt. She had cruised with her family in the past, but when she went to drop the anchor on her first night out, she realized she had no idea how to handle a boat by herself.

The first leg of her trip took her from New York to Bermuda. Miraculously, she made it there alive, albeit days late. But as she sat at a dockside restaurant, scarfing the biggest hamburger on the menu, she was overcome by an incredible sense of pride. She was the captain of her own ship, and she had sailed to Bermuda from New York by herself, a feat few others on the island had done.

The rest of her tale is gripping, and her story has inspired many a sailor. Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger, two of the most celebrated and widely published sailor-writers of recent times leaned heavily on Tania’s story for inspiration and moral support as they began their own world cruise as newbies years later. Evans has written that at times he would say to himself, “If Tania could do it, so can I!”

Fleetwood Colonial Popup tent trailer

We had no idea when we went camping in our popup tent trailer that we would soon take off
on the adventure of a lifetime.

The other book that seduced both me and Mark and kept drawing our thoughts away from convention and towards adventure was An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof.

She and her husband left the demands of urban life in Toronto to savor many months of carefree, sunny days aboard their sailboat in the Bahamas and Caribbean islands.

They tackled the cruising life with very little cruising experience, had loads of misadventures on the way to becoming seasoned sailors, and ultimately came home after two years completely reborn as two very different people with a whole new outlook on life. It wasn’t long before they did it again.

Mabry Mill Virginia RV travel adventure

What a beautiful setting – Mabry Mill in Virginia

So, what does it take to have an adventure?

Ours had very humble beginnings. With my job coming to an end in the spring of 2007, and Mark’s job being one he could put on hold for the summer, we planned to take our popup tent trailer on a four month voyage from Arizona to Vancouver Island and back.

We would close up our home for those months, go out and see some of the western states, and then figure out what to do with our lives when we got back home.

Smith Rock State Park Oregon

Smith Rock State Park in Oregon has such an iconic landscape that we recognized it while watching the John Wayne & Katharine Hepburn movie, Rooster Cogburn. When the dialog
mentioned “Fort Smith,” we laughed: we had been right!

We had perused a few websites that talked about RVing full-time, and we had read excerpts from a few sailors that were posting their photos and stories online as they cruised around the world.

I knew that dry camping all the time with solar power was possible, and had read the info a few sailors had posted about their solar power installations. We were experienced at dry camping already because we had spent over 150 nights in our popup doing just that. So, the idea of becoming full-time RVers that camped without hookups was something we had been kicking around.

But it was a pipe dream, just like our other pipe dream of going cruising in a sailboat. Nonetheless, we spent every spare minute visiting RV dealerships all around us, to the point where we had settled on the exact make and model trailer we would want to buy if we took the plunge and became full-time RVers.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park remains one of our all time favorite places to go.

Our frivolous daydream only got serious on my last day of work when I came home to find two signs in our yard: “For Sale by Owner” and “Yard Sale.”

When I raised my eyebrows at Mark, he just told me he was tired of “scenario building” and daydreaming about doing something exciting. He felt that a four month trip to Vancouver in our popup wasn’t going to satisfy our wanderlust itch. We’d just come home at the end of it all and be flummoxed once again.

So… up went the signs in the yard on that fateful Friday.

New Full-time RVers in California

Little did we know, during our first weeks on the road in California, what incredible thrills and adventures lay ahead of us in the years to come. We were 53 and 47 in this photo. A month or so from now we will turn 62 and 56. The years go by whether you’re chasing your dreams or not!

I jumped on board with Mark’s idea wholeheartedly, and by the end of the weekend the house was in escrow, the car and popup were sold, half of our stuff was gone, and we had put a deposit on the dream trailer we’d set our hearts on — 1,000 miles away. Mark had spotted a smoking deal online and negotiated $500 towards our gas costs if we drove out to pick it up. Score!

Three weeks later, with the rest our stuff sold or given away, we hopped in our Toyota Tundra and drove 1,000 miles, with all our remaining worldly possessions in the bed of the truck, except for five custom bicycles and 10 Rubbermaid bins full of memorabilia we had stored in a friend’s backyard shed. We were off to see our new home for the first time.

Sometimes, for some people, a burst of action and a leap of faith with your eyes closed (but peeking), is the way to go!

Toyota Tundra and Fleetwood Lynx Travel Trailer RV

Our new home on the road: an ’04 Toyota Tundra and ’07 Fleetwood Lynx travel trailer.
The day after this was taken we discovered the Tundra couldn’t handle the 7,000 lb. trailer on Tioga Pass
on the way in to Yosemite National Park from the east. So we began researching diesel trucks.

When we started, we had absolutely no idea what was to come. Mark was intimidated at the idea of towing a 27′ travel trailer, and I had no clue about solar power except that I knew it worked for sailors so it oughtta work for us. We knew just a smidge about photography, and although we had both sailed a lot and I had lived aboard a sailboat at a dock and been a weekend cruiser for four years in New England, neither of us had sailed more than 70 miles on a passage at sea.

We had no idea that after a few years we would put our trailer in storage, buy a sailboat, and cruise Mexico’s west coast. Or that after four years of alternating sailing and RVing we would then sell our beloved sailboat and move back into our RV and even buy a new truck (and meet rock star Alice Cooper in the process!)!

Dodge Ram 3500 Hitchhiker Fifth wheel trailer

We replaced our Tundra with a Dodge Ram 3500 in our sixth week on the road.
We replaced our 27′ travel trailer with a 36′ Hitchhiker fifth wheel at the end of our first year of travel.

We had great fun attending the School of Hard Knocks together, and even now we continue to learn and grow and evolve with every passing day.

Perhaps the best part of our traveling adventure has been that it has opened our eyes in ways we never imagined, and has opened doors for us that we never knew existed.

Toadstool hike Utah Arizona border

Venturing beyond the end of a hiking trail on the Utah/Arizona border, we discovered a seemingly
unnamed and unmarked canyon. We had it to ourselves!

As I contemplate these exhilarating years of our lives, I really think what it takes to “live the dream,” whatever that dream might be, is not the ordinary, practical things that first come to mind, like money.

What it takes to Live the Dream is a passion to break the bonds that hold you
and to chase down your dream for all you’re worth.

Mayan ruins Palacio in Palenque Mexico

The Mayan ruins in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas were utterly thrilling to wander through.

Obviously, good health, minimal responsibility and a bit of money are very helpful, but they aren’t required. Mike Harker, a paraplegic, sailed around the world solo on a 49′ Hunter sailboat. He was in “good health” but obviously didn’t have the physical advantages most of us have.

As for being free of responsibility, some families travel full-time on both land and water, with the parents bearing the enormous responsibility of child-rearing and homeschooling and sometimes earning a living as well.

And as for money being a pre-requisite, the stories of the various sailboats without electricity, refrigeration, plumbing or engines that show up in the South Pacific islands, some all the way from Europe, are astonishing, and we’ve met plenty of RVers traveling on skinny budgets.

Nova Scotia RV travel

This past year we went to the northeast where we saw some beautiful sights in Nova Scotia.

It helps to have a catalyst to tip you over the edge. Mark’s sudden decision that “it was time,” and his signs in the yard got us out the door. We aren’t planners, so that kind of leave-taking was just right for us. Others prefer to have an official departure date. One person I know hung up a roll of toilet paper with a number on each square representing the number of days left.

However you get yourself launched, the image you have of your traveling life before your journey actually starts will turn out to be only a faint sketch of the picture you’ll paint as you go along.

We had no idea we would move from RVing to sailing and back or devote so much time and energy to freelance photography and writing.

Banyan tree Sarasota Florida

A banyan tree in Sarasota, Florida, spreads its limbs wide… and so does Mark!

I sure had dreams of becoming a published writer “some day,” but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would reach a point where we’d publish three articles on widely varying subjects in three different magazines and have a cover photo on a fourth, all at the same time, in January 2016.

But that has happened, and I swear it is because we are truly loving our lives and cherishing every minute of what we do.

Red barns in Joseph Oregon

The barns and snowcapped peaks of the Wallowa Mountains in NE Oregon blew us away.

Just like everybody else, we have more dreams on the horizon, and we have New Year’s resolutions we’ve talked about and will try to achieve. As we develop and mature, we master certain elements of our lifestyle, but then we come up with new ambitions and desires that we’d never even thought about before. These new dreams propel us forward.

Yet I don’t think think we’d be dreaming these dreams today, to the same colorful degree, if we had stayed home and never moved into our first small trailer. We would still be dreaming our earlier, preliminary dreams that pushed us out the door in the first place, and we wouldn’t be able to imagine embellishing those dreams in any way.

The experience is cumulative, and the evolution is continuous.

Mexican girls Oaxaca Mexico

Sailing to Mexico opened our eyes to the beauty and incredible friendliness of our southern neighbor. These little girls were dressed up for a school festival.

The other day, we returned to our shed in our friend’s backyard to swap out a few things. We stored some goodies we don’t need right now and retrieved a few others we’ve missed. As we rummaged through the various bins we’d so carefully packed all those years ago, we both came across a few items we had held dear at the time of our launch but that we had long since forgotten about.

And that’s the ironic part of the scary Big Purge you have to go through before going full-time. A lot of the things that are precious to you today won’t hold the same meaning a few years down the road. You won’t be the same person.

The things that will be vitally important to you after you’ve been out touring for a while will very likely be things that don’t even enter your consciousness right now, because you can’t even conceive of them.

Silverton Colorado

A classic western town thousands of feet up in the mountains in Silverton, Colorado.

For me, that is the great beauty of trying a new lifestyle like one lived on the road. The decades are going to pass by no matter whether you chase down your travel dream or let it slip through your fingers. You will grow old despite every attempt you make not to. It will all be over before you know it.

If you give your dream wings now, and let it fly free, you will give yourself a chance to live life to the fullest, to grow, to broaden your perspective and to invite and embrace new experiences that you won’t have otherwise.

And if there is anything that holds most people back from fulfilling their dreams, it is plain old fear.

Yet… what is there to be afraid of? You’re not going to get out of this life alive, and you’ve got a fixed number of years left. Why not go for it?!

Million Dollar Highway Colorado

The scariest thing in life is getting to the end and never fulfilling your deepest dreams. Driving a rig over the Million Dollar Highway isn’t scary at all if you prepare and drive it a few times in a car or truck first.

Sure, we’ve had some scary moments, and found ourselves in some very disturbing situations.

But the hundreds of truly unexpected and heartwarming moments never would have happened, and we never would have met some of the really unusual people we’ve come across if we’d stayed home.

And who’s to say we wouldn’t have had scary and disturbing situations there too?

Hiking Paria Canyon slot canyon Arizona

Mark emerges from the stunning slot canyon at Buckskin Gulch in Arizona.

So… is the passion to fulfill a dream really all it takes to shake up your life and go have a great adventure? I think it’s a huge part. But there are other things that come into play too.

I discovered a book last year that has really helped both of us crystallize in our minds what we love in our lives and what we want to expand on. It’s called The Magic, and it is part of the series of books, videos and online materials called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

What I love in this book is that it outlines a step-by-step process for recognizing what’s wonderful in your life and opening your heart to even more great experiences. The essence of the book is to find everything in your life that you are grateful for, and to itemize these things and to express thanks for them on a regular basis, either in your mind or in writing.

One simple technique is just to take a few minutes at bedtime to list 10 things you are grateful for in your life and to remind yourself why they are meaningful to you. These don’t have to be monumental things, but little things — blue skies, your favorite song, the smell of lilacs, the dance of waves on the ocean, the warm smile of a loved one, the feel of your child’s or grandchild’s hand in yours.

Cathedral San Miguel de Allende Mexico

The cathedrals in Mexico were gorgeous.
This one is in the town square in San Miguel de Allende near our favorite city, Guanajuato.

Another easy bedtime tactic is to think through the whole day you just experienced and to pick out the one very best thing that happened. Even if it was a rotten day, there was surely something worthwhile. It might have been just that you got to eat your favorite cereal for breakfast or stop for your favorite coffee at Starbucks. Lots of people around the world don’t get that chance.

Doing these things puts you in a good frame of mind and takes your focus off the petty frustrations that sidetrack and sometimes derail us all.

There are many other similar ideas like this in the book, and I have found it worth reading and re-reading several times.

Along the same lines, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, written by Joseph Murphy in the 1960’s, is a book that got me through the frightening Baja Bash two years ago as we sailed from Puerto Vallarta back to San Diego.

This 9 day passage can be a hair raising adventure, and we did it while flying along between two hurricanes that were traveling up the coast with us. Every minute of my off-watch that I wasn’t pretending to sleep, I was reading passages of that book!

Big Bend National Park Texas

Texas has some of the craziest weather in America.
An early spring storm brought ice crystals to the desert at Big Bend National Park.

It reminded me that life, for all it’s drama and seemingly external events (including things like a scary passage up the Baja Pacific coast), is actually lived entirely between your ears. The most recent minute, hour, days and years are gone forever into the mist of memory, and the next minute, hour, days and years hover ahead in the fog of the future.

Every single bit of that stuff resides in your mind, and you can cast it in sunshine or in clouds as you wish.

The only “reality” is the here and now. And if you ask the Physicists, even that is a figment of the imagination that’s wildly different than our limited perceptions can witness.

RV in snow San Juan Mountains Colorado

The San Juan Mountains in Colorado light up in shades of gold every fall.
We stayed long enough to get a dusting of snow too.

If I have discovered anything at all as I’ve pondered our unusual lifestyle choices, our dreams and the lives we left behind long ago, it is that a combination of nurturing my dreams and nudging the thoughts i am thinking onto a positive track both go a long way towards my personal happiness and ability to live my dreams.

Schoodic Point National Scenic Byway Maine RV travel

Sitting in a bed of wildflowers on the Schoodic National Scenic Byway in Maine.
We wouldn’t trade this life for any other!

2016 is a brand new year, full of opportunity and promise. We hope it turns out to be “your year” to make your dreams come true.

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What Is Your Dream?

Escapees Magazine Cover Jan-Feb 2015

Escapees Magazine Jan-Feb 2015
Cover photo by Emily Fagan
Feature Story: Stay the Course on the Road to Your Dreams

The January, 2015, issue of Escapees Magazine is graced with a photo of ours on the cover, taken at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Arizona, at dusk, with the stately Superstition mountains in the background.

We were out walking the campground loop one evening when we noticed that the host campsite looked very inviting. It was huge, and the hosts had done some creative landscaping to make it really homey. The lights were glowing in their rig, and they had just started a campfire. It was a classic camping scene — I had to get a pic!!

Because it was evening, it would be a long exposure photo that would require a tripod. The light was fading fast, however, much too fast to be able to run home and grab a tripod and return for the shot. So, we gave up on the idea and walked over to their campfire instead. We introduced ourselves to the hosts, Dave and Linda, who were very warm and friendly, and we started chatting with them.

After an hour or so of happy chit-chat (including us telling them what a perfect photo their campsite would make), it was now pitch dark and time for us to find our way home.

As we were leaving, they invited us to come back another night for a beer — and to bring a tripod and get the shot. And so we did — and what a wonderful evening we had sitting around their campfire sharing stories afterwards.

This kind of spontaneous and informal socializing is one of our favorite things about the full-time RV lifestyle. It suits our personalities and our style perfectly because we just aren’t big on formalities and planning things. We like leaving ourselves open to interesting happenings that find their way to us.

Full-time RVing is a dream-come-true lifestyle for us, and our feature in Escapees, “Stay the Course on the Road to your Dreams,” touches on what it takes to get from dreaming about going full-time to actually doing it: tenacity!

Happy campers at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is one of our favorite destinations

The article sprang from a blog post I wrote a little over a year ago when we were leaving our boating life behind and returning to RVing full-time.

We were madly selling everything we had purchased to live on a boat (plus the boat itself), and our life was utter chaos as we downsized back into our fifth wheel trailer.

The only thing that held us together was the absolute certainty that we were doing the right thing. How were we so sure? Because we had been full-time RVers already and we knew exactly what lay ahead.

Caribbean Dreams

With our trailer in storage, a fateful Caribbean trip landed us in the cruising lifestyle!

Generally, future full-timers don’t have that luxury, and I often receive emails from people who are both excited and terrified by the prospect of going full-time (or going cruising).

As they downsize and sell off everything they own, the terror begins to come in waves, and every doubt they’ve ever had about running off in an RV or sailboat looms monstrous around them.

Most future full-timers are folks nearing retirement, and the idea of breaking out of the bonds of the workaday world is tantalizingly delicious.

Yet, at the same time, the thought of running away to a life of free-spirited adventure after decades of predictability is daunting. Letting go of the house and its contents — your very roots — can be overwhelming.

It is one thing to be wild and crazy at twenty, when no one is looking and you have nothing to lose.

Sailing Groovy

Our sailboat “Groovy” taught us many incredible life lessons.

It’s a whole different story to be wild and crazy at retirement age when you’ve become accustomed to certain luxuries, routines and structure, when you’ve been responsible for and beholden to other people for eons, and especially when your kids, or friends, or in-laws are looking at you like you’ve lost your mind as you tell them you are going to sell up and go.

For most of us, retirement is the first time in our lives when we have both the financial resources and the time to pursue our dreams.

What a boon!

Fifth wheel trailer RV on Million Dollar Highway in San Juan Mountains Colorado

An RV roadtrip is a dream come true, whether you make it a lifestyle or do it just once.

But how frightening it can be too.  With a finite amount of time, and a finite amount of money, you sure don’t want to waste either one. It is even more unsettling when you realize that all the joy or misery your precious dream may bring you is entirely on your own shoulders.

For the first time in your life, you’re chasing a dream that doesn’t belong to someone else. You’re not doing this to please your parents, or to help the kids, or to impress a boss. This dream is all your own.

For that reason, I believe the most important thing to do before turning your life upside down to move into an RV or boat and go traveling is to spend some time figuring out why you want to go.

What is the real draw to this lifestyle: Is it independence? spontaneity? freedom from schedules and agendas? a yearning to see new places? a desire to live more simply? a need to spend time with far-flung family in distant states? Or will this be an in-depth multi-year search for a permanent retirement home?

For all the time spent researching whether life is better in a Class A motorhome or a fifth wheel trailer, it makes sense to spend an equal amount of time digging around in your own soul to figure out why you want to leave hearth and home to live in a box on wheels.

Golden aspen and snow-capped peaks in Colorado's San Juan Mountains

What a combo – golden aspens and snow-capped peaks in Colorado

The more you understand the origins of your dream — and the origins of your spouse’s dream — the better you will be able to create a full-time RV lifestyle that is truly fulfilling.

If your dream is to be wild and free, then boondocking may play a big part in your lifestyle. If your dream is to integrate deeply into two seasonal communities, then choosing the right sites at the right RV parks will be important.

If the hubby dreams of seeing all the Civil War historic sites in the eastern states and the wife dreams of traveling primarily between the kids’ homes in Montana and Utah, then some careful itinerary planning (and negotiation!) will be necessary.

Santa Cruz Bay in the Bays of Huatulco Mexico

The exquisite Bays of Huatulco, Mexico, were a stunning discovery in our travels

The very nature of what it is that you want out of your RVing lifestyle is what will drive all your decisions about how to put your lifestyle together.

The beauty of pursuing your own dreams is that it is an evolutionary process, and that is the part that has really surprised us over the years.

We started with very little idea of what we were getting into. Like a young bride who is totally focused on her fancy dress and big party, and not really thinking about the 50 years of togetherness that lie ahead, we were focused more on leaving than on where we were going!

However, we did know we wanted independence and freedom in our day-to-day lives, something neither of us had had since our youth, and that theme is with us still. Our personal evolution as full-time travelers has taken that theme a step further.

After several years of dealing with the many big challenges that come with the boating life — something that was completely self-inflicted because going cruising on a sailboat in foreign waters was our dream — we came to realize that our primary life theme is actually very simple:

We want to spend as much time as possible doing the things that make us happy, and we want to spend as little time as possible doing the things that make us unhappy.

That may sound ridiculously simplistic, but it has helped us immensely to crystallize our biggest life decisions and to understand what we really want, deep down inside, in our day-to-day lives.

Butterfly in a flower

Our travels introduced us to the fun of photography,
a passion we both share.

Too much of adult life is spent in some middle ground, doing things that are “good for you” (or good for your job, or your kids, or your retirement package, or something else), but that aren’t a whole lot of fun.

Until you start trying to fulfill your own innermost dreams in that wee bit of time that lies between retirement and the Great Beyond, it is very hard to understand that “good for you” and “truly satisfying” are very different things.

This is especially true when your dream is a little off-beat, like wanting to move from a house into an RV or boat.

There is a lot of support in our society for doing the conventional things that are good for you, but there’s not a lot of support for doing things that excite you but that don’t fit the norm. And this is where fear creeps in.

 

The one thing that holds most people back from fulfilling their dreams is fear.

What if…your dream doesn’t pan out, you blow all your money, you don’t like the lifestyle, you lose touch with friends and family back home, and all those other horrible things that might happen if you start RVing full-time. Is pursuing this fantasy of an unusual and adventurous lifestyle worth that risk?

Wildflower

Peace.

Understanding why you are attracted to the idea of full-timing will give you the answer and limit your fears.

There are lots of ways to achieve many of the thrills of the full-timing lifestyle without actually going full-time.  Loads of people RV seasonally because they want the exhilaration of traveling but they also want to go home and enjoy their roots. That’s great!

For others, it is the actual act of living on the road all the time that really matters, and for them, giving up the sticks-and-bricks home is an essential part of the process. That’s great too! There’s no badge of honor for living this lifestyle in one manner or another — or for living it at all.

Regardless of what your individual dream is, the only thing that should strike fear in your heart is reaching the end of the road and not having had the guts to give your dream a chance. If you know what your dream really is, and you believe in it and are passionate about it, then nothing should frighten you from chasing it down.

Rainbow arching over saguaro cactus in  Arizona

Recent rainstorms brought us gorgeous images of saguaro cactus framed by rainbows.

Even if you aren’t ready to cast off in your new life today, or next week, there are steps you can take everyday — internal, thoughtful and emotional ones — that will strengthen your resolve and ease your lifestyle transition immensely when your time finally comes.

But don’t dally. Life is extraordinarily short.  If you are on the verge of retirement, you may have 20 years ahead of you to enjoy some travels.  Great!  But look back 20 years.  How fast did those two decades go?!  Yikes!

We have met dozens of people over the years who have seen what we’re doing and said, “I want to do that!” For them, the opportunity is there.

Sadly, we’ve met many others who said, “I always wanted to do that when I was younger, but now I can’t.” That’s tragic.

Why didn’t they go when they could? Was it fear of the unknown? Were they waiting for the housing market to improve? Did they hang in on the job an extra five years to get a little bigger pension?

We’ve heard people give all those reasons and many more for not pursuing their dreams today. As Kay Peterson, the co-founder of Escapees RV Club, wrote in the October 1990 issue of the magazine:

“Because we have no way of knowing how long our life’s cycle will last, it upsets me to hear people, young and old, who are waiting for a particular event to start doing whatever it is they want to do… If you don’t fulfill your dreams now, when will you?

Mirrored magic in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The Tetons wake up to their reflections at sunrise.

If all this sounds a little heavy or deep, it shouldn’t be. Mark and I talk about these topics every single day as we continually create and refine our dream lifestyle, and we have since we first stepped out of our old lives and hit the road.

Sometimes our conversations have been a little edgy, because this process brings you around to figuring out who you really are, but for us, thinking about this stuff, thinking about the meaning of life — of our lives — has become an essential part of everyday living.

As you list your New Year’s resolutions and look forward to new adventures in 2015, ponder this:

What do you really want out of life, and what makes you truly happy?

Then get ready to jump in with both feet!

Happy campers at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Wyoming

Happy 2015!

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On the Road to your Dreams, Stay the Course!

Driving in Utah brings one jaw-dropping view after another...

Yet another breathtaking drive in Utah. For us it was worth it
to give up our stuff for endless scenic drives like this.

Getting up the guts to untie the dock lines and go cruising, or to drive out of the driveway and hit the road in an RV full-time, is often the hardest part of starting a new life of adventure and travel.

Once you’ve set up camp a few times in your rig, or dropped the hook a few times along the coast, new patterns begin to get established and eventually the new lifestyle becomes routine.

But taking that first step — saying goodbye to all that is familiar and comfortable — can be truly frightening.

 

 

Pangas in Huatulco

Before we began cruising in our sailboat,
we knew nothing about Mexico.

Before we started full-time RVing in 2007, I used to sit in our home and gaze out the window and wonder how in the world we would ever be able to leave home and go live in a trailer.

A life on the road sounded so thrilling, but in many ways it seemed so impossible to achieve. Our house “needed us” to keep everything running right…would tenants trash the place?  Our friends and family were all staying put…would our relationships survive the long distances and time apart?  And we had so much stuff (and it was good stuff too!)…would we regret letting it go?

Sunrise in Puerto Balandra

We didn’t have sunsets like this in our neighborhood back home!
Puerto Balandra in the Sea of Cortez

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we sold off almost all of our belongings and put the rest in a shed behind a friend’s house, a mixture of terror and excitement filled our hearts.

 

Rainbow over fifth wheel

A rainbow over our rig in Flaming Gorge Utah

When we drove out of our neighborhood the last time, we headed 1,000 miles east with all our remaining worldly possessions in the back of our truck.

We were on our way to pick up a new rolling home that we had purchased online — sight unseen — and we were both utterly thrilled.

But at the same time a tiny voice inside asked, “what have we done?”

When we arrived at the RV dealership outside Dallas, we discovered our brand new trailer had been sitting on the lot for a year and was full of black mold under the fridge.

Cathedral Gorge, Nevada

We found this fascinating place (Cathedral Gorge)
while driving down the road in Nevada!

Holy cow!! What had we just done?

On our first trip to a laundromat, Mark looked at me glumly. “So this is it from now on,” he said.  “Laundromats… I used to have a really nice washer and dryer of my own!”

Oh dear… What in the world had we just done?

We can look back at those early days now and laugh.

In the end, Marshall’s RV Center was very upstanding and replaced our trailer with a fresh-off-the-line unit that was perfect in every respect.

 

 

Natural Bridges National Monument

A great spot to sit for a spell — Natural Bridges, Utah.

And we gradually got used to laundromats, and now enjoy doing three (or four, or five) loads of laundry simultaneously.

We returned to our home when we had been on the road for four years, and after just 10 days of painting and repairing, the place looked better than when we lived there ourselves!

After six years on the road, we returned again to do the same thing, with the same result. Maybe our home “needed us,” but apparently in small doses!

But what a lot of panicky feelings we went through on the way to those happy endings!

 

Cathedral steeples in Guanajuato

We had no idea our sailboat would introduce us to
sights like this in Guanajuato, Mexico

I think these kinds of mixed emotions and rocky beginnings are common among many new full-timers and cruisers.

As one friend wrote to me in an email during his final weeks before he left San Diego to cruise Mexico: “This is a confusing time, as we have wanted to do this for a long time, but getting ready is very stressful. Everything about it is scary.”

Emotions run extraordinarily high as you force yourself to let go of almost every material thing you’ve ever held dear, often for ten cents on the dollar, or less, at garage sales.

 

Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains

Leaving behind familiarity, comfort and stability, we opened our lives to
experience the beauty and wonder of places like Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains.

How hard it is to see your precious things get snatched up by vulturous yard-salers.

And — for cruisers especially — how frightening it is to see all the money you have carefully saved all your life, dollar by dollar, suddenly flying out of your bank account thousand by thousand.

No one REALLY told you that this is what outfitting your boat for self-sufficiency and safety in third-world countries would be all about… did they?

 

A fawn

A fawn stops to look at us

This preparation phase can shake you to the core.

Yet if you don’t hold fast to your dream, and march through these transitional days with strong resolve, you can’t ever open yourself to the new life that awaits you on the other side.

If your heart soars at the idea of sailing off over the horizon, or you long to sample a more exotic life on the road, pursuing that dream will ultimately push you out of your comfort zone. Only by accepting that can you escape the “same old same old.”

If you get scared, and give in, and give up before you ever get going, you are effectively saying your dream isn’t worthwhile.

Dreams are flighty and delicate. They flit around us like butterflies on a warm summer day, hard to pin down, and quick to fly off out of sight.

playing guitar on a boat

A tranquil moment at anchor aboard Groovy

Reaching out to catch our dreams can be a stretch. But we have to take that leap of faith, and sometimes even suffer a little scary uncertainty, if we want to make them come true.

Ironically, after six years on the road, three in a fifth wheel and three in a sailboat, Mark and I find ourselves right where we started, as we rearrange our lives to support our new dreams.

We are giving up cruising, resuming full-time RVing, and we plan on traveling in other ways too.

For all those wonderful things to happen, though, we have to make some big changes.

Santiago Sunrise

Glorious sunrises are routine in Manzanillo Bay!

For starters, we need to sell everything we bought for the boat, and sell the boat too.

Over the past few weeks, we have held a daily Cockpit Sale aboard Groovy in San Diego and sold off piles of wonderful cruising gear

How great it is that we never needed our EPIRB (emergency radio beacon) or spare storm anchor or spare macerator pump.

But how hard it is to let them go for half of what we paid.

 

An all day every day cockpit sale on Groovy.

An all day every day cockpit sale on Groovy.

It is not quite as hard as getting rid of a 25 year accumulation of stuff like we did when we started full-timing, but it entails the same mixed sense of loss — and of growing freedom.

To make things even more complicated, our tenants’ lease on our home is up and they have moved out.

We like to choose who lives in our home, so this new wrinkle has forced us to dash to Phoenix to tidy up the place and find new people to live there.

Saguaro cactus in the clouds

A saguaro cactus stands amid
monsoon clouds in Arizona

 

 

 

Putting the Cockpit Sale on hold for a bit, we are now in Phoenix, sleeping on an air mattress and using paper plates and plastic utensils in our empty home, as we clean and repair little things and show the place to prospective tenants.

All of our incredible travels suddenly seem like a distant dream. Stranger still, I am now gazing out the windows of our former home, and I am wondering how in the world we will ever get from here into our next phase of life.

The anchorage at Las Hadas Resort

I never imagined we would anchor in places like this —
Las Hadas Resort in Manzanillo Mexico.

I can envision it, but it seems worlds away.

Gorgeous red rocks at Capitol Reef Utah

Gorgeous red rocks at Capitol Reef Utah

 

We need tenants.

We need a boat buyer.

We need to sell the rest of our cruising stuff and downsize back into our trailer.

The key, I think, both for first-timers and for folks like us that are making a midstream adjustment to their traveling lifestyle, is to Stay the Course.

I’ve said this to lots of people who have emailed me in a panic in the last weeks before they take off on their dream adventure. Now it is time for us to remind ourselves of this important message too!!

The beauty of full-timing is that we can boondock among Utah's red rocks as long as we like.

The beauty of full-timing is that we can boondock among Utah’s red rocks as long as we like.

hobie mirage i14t tandem inflatable kayak

First days with our super fun kayak in Florida

When we were going through our initial big sell-off, before we moved into our trailer, my mom asked me how I could part with so much of my personal memorabilia.

In a way, purging all that stuff was like clearing out a place in my own soul.

Only by letting go of it all could I make room for new memories, new experiences and new thrills.

 

porta-bote portabote

Mark and his son check out our slick new porta-bote.

If I clung too tightly to my past, I wouldn’t have room for the future.

And so it is now as I watch other people walk away from our boat with our fins, our cruising guides, our kayak, our dive tanks, our cool portable VHF radio and our dinghy.

Each holds precious memories — both of choosing the gear in anticipation of our cruise and of putting it to use in Mexico — and in each item I see a younger and more innocent me who embraced our cruising life with such enthusiasm.

Groovy anchored in Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco

Groovy anchored in Tangolunda Bay, Huatulco

Now it is time to let it all go.

We could try to keep all that stuff — we might use some of it again — but our new life is still on the road, and there is absolutely no room for any of it in our already full fifth wheel trailer.

If we need any of it in the future, we can buy it again.  That may not be the most cost-effective approach, but at least we won’t have had to lug it around with us either.

 

 

Big hole Montana boondocking

A rainbow over our rig in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley

Likewise, as I sit between our home’s bare walls and wonder when those wonderful new prospective tenants we’re waiting for will suddenly walk in the door and fall in love with our place, I have to dig deep for the faith that they will indeed show up, that they will truly love our home, and that they will pay the rent on time.

A big part of having a dream and pursuing it is also having the faith that all the pieces will fall into place and allow it to come true.

For three straight weeks we have turned into expert salesmen, day in and day out, selling everything we have right out from under us, from tarps and fishing gear to a lease on our home.

Standing on a corner

Standin’ on the corner in Winslow Arizona

But this uncertainty, and these weird feelings, and this soul searching are all part of the process.  They are the small toll we must pay to transit the gate to where our dream lifestyle not only resumes but takes flight.

Once past all this, once our new adventures get going, I now know that I will eventually look back on these days and remember this younger me, gazing out these very same windows, wondering how it will all come together.

I will look back, too, and remember how, beneath my nervousness, I was so full of anticipation, expectation and hope.

Sunrise in Huatulco

Good monring sunshine!

 

If you are working towards a dream of escape, and putting together the many pieces that will go into a new life of full-time travel, remember: Stay the Course.

When things get a little emotional, and you question your own sanity, and you wonder if giving up your current life for a fragile dream will be worth it in the end, have faith in your vision.

If you are like us, with wanderlust and adventure in your soul, imagine yourself in your final years. Which will be most fulfilling to reminisce about, a lifetime of possessions or a lifetime of experiences?

When you fear your dream may not work out, believe — with all your heart — that your innermost yearnings and your deepest desires are right for you.

You will cherish the days when those intangible longings have become the very essence of your day to day life.

 

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Living, Loving and Perfecting “The Dream”

Sailing Groovy

Happy days aboard Groovy!

June 2013 – We’ve been living the Good Life here at Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallarta for three months now. Wow!

This is a wonderful place to hang out, and lots of folks stay for years at a time. But the reason we have stayed here so long is actually because we’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and thinking about our next move.

Bahia Concepcion, Sea of Cortez

Bahia Concepcion, Sea of Cortez

 

 

 

Heaven on earth at Las Palmas Resort in Huatulco

Heaven on earth at Las Palmas Resort in Huatulco

We’ve had an unbelievable run of good fortune and exciting times this past year.

Last summer in our trailer, and this past winter in our sailboat, we were gifted with one beautiful experience after another.

Groovy Isla Coyote, Sea of Cortez

Groovy at Isla Coyote, Sea of Cortez

The jewel box interior of Morelia's Our Lady of Guadelupe church.

The jewel box interior of Morelia’s
Our Lady of Guadelupe church.

It seems that everywhere we went we met kind and caring people who quickly became friends.

All year long we have been pinching ourselves, saying, “Is this all possible? Are we really living this life?”

It may seem strange, but on that very high note we have decided to make a huge change in our lives and take Groovy back to California and gradually close the cruising chapter of our travels.

After sailing up and down Mexico’s west coast several times, we have fulfilled our cruising dreams completely — and then some.

 

Monte Alban - the first ancient pyramid ruins we ever saw

Monte Alban – How stirring it is to see these ancient pyramids.

Throughout our travels this past year, in the background, behind all our exhilarating escapades, we have been digging deep in our hearts and pondering all the different ways we could move forward with our cruising lifestyle.

Cruising is a unique way to travel. Even though you move from place to place, the focus is always ultimately on the boat and the process of boating rather than on the destinations you visit.

Groovy anchored at Isla Coronado in the Sea of Cortez

Groovy anchored at Isla Coronado in the Sea of Cortez

As one seasoned cruiser told me before we started our sailing adventure,

“The boat takes up the majority of our budget and the majority of our time.”

We have found that to be true!

When we started cruising we had already traveled full-time by RV for two-and-a-half years.

We thought that cruising would be much the same as RVing, just doing it on the water instead of land.

Sea of Cortez

Sea of Cortez – RVing on water?

Colorful Bahia Careyes on the Costalegre

Colorful Bahia Careyes on the Costalegre

But we have found that while RVing is all about the destinations we visit, cruising is largely about the boat.

Why is the boat such an important part of cruising while an RV is so much less important in RVing?

Because a cruising boat is a very complicated vehicle.

The boat’s Plumber, Electrician and Mechanic are all very busy people as they work to keep the boat’s power plant, water treatment plant, sewage plant, mechanical propulsion system and wind propulsion system all functioning.

Aboard Groovy, my sweet hubby Mark filled all these roles while I concentrated on navigation and sailing the boat.

Barra de Navidad, a favorite cruiser hangout.

Barra de Navidad, a favorite cruiser hangout.

Needless to say, we were both very busy, but Mark bore the brunt of the responsibility of keeping us afloat, and it weighed heavily on his shoulders.

Unlike a sailboat, an RV, especially a trailer, has very simple systems that rarely require any maintenance or repair.

In addition to the boat itself being more complicated than an RV, living aboard a boat at anchor is infinitely more complex than living in an RV anywhere.

In the cruising life, simple day-to-day tasks like provisioning, doing laundry and getting around require forethought, planning and time.

A spotted eagle ray soars over the sand in Huatulco

A spotted eagle ray soars over the sand in Huatulco

They often involve dinghy rides, crazy beach landings, intense study of the weather forecasts and all-night travelJust showering is an adventure!!

And then there’s the simple maintenance of cleaning. After every sailing passage the entire boat would be covered with salt crystals, and although it was sometimes a fun adventure to swab the decks underway, it was still a chore that had to be done regularly!

Not only did the decks need swabbing, but barnacles needed to be scraped off the bottom of the boat every few days. Every time I jumped over the side to snorkel and enjoy the reef fish, I took a few tools too so I could to spend an hour cleaning the hull!

One huge surprise was the crazy noises at night. Nevermind the live bands that played at the resorts lining every beach in every anchorage, but the fish were surprisingly loud too! This often made sleeping a challenge, as the boat rolled relentlessly in almost every bay.

One of our favorite pastimes - swimming and playing on the back of the boat.

One of our favorite pastimes – swimming and playing
on the back of the boat.

In contrast, in the RV lifestyle you’ve always got wheels to get around, the weather plays a much less important role in travel planning, you can let a few weeks go between rig washings, and nighttime is for sleeping.

Therefore, out of necessity, Travel, in the traditional sense of sightseeing, mingling with the locals and becoming immersed in a new culture, is a secondary focus in the cruising lifestyle.

Sunrise in Santiago

Santiago – Land of Sunrises!

In our sailing travels we’ve found the happiest cruisers are those that have a deep and lasting passion for everything to do with boats and boating. Many are skilled handymen who love working in, on and around boats as well.

We love our boat Groovy. It is our dream boat in every sense: beautiful, sleek, well engineered, meticulously maintained, easy to sail, and as comfortable as a sailboat of its size could possibly be.

We have poured our hearts and souls into making it ultra-efficient for long-term life afloat at anchor.

Misol-Ha waterfall in Chiapas

Misol-Ha waterfall in Chiapas

However, as we have cruised Mexico for the past three and a half years, we’ve discovered we are actually more passionate about Travel than we are about Boating.

We are drawn towards seeing the sights, spending time with the locals, taking photographs and writing about our adventures. Time spent working on the boat and on the logistics of our lifestyle afloat often feels like time away from what we really wanted to be doing: traveling.

Our recent phenomenal trip to Guanajuato was a peak experience we’d love to repeat over and over. We absolutely loved our visit there. But Guanajuato is nowhere near the coast and has nothing to do with sailing, the sea, boats or living aboard. How do you put all this together?

As we spread out our maps of Mexico and Central America and studied our options for cruising beyond Mexico’s border, we pinpointed the many fabulous destinations we wanted to go see and then thought long and hard about whether it would be best to travel there by sailboat or to go another way.

Guanajuato city street

Guanajuato, like no other!

It turned out that most of our bucket-list locations were well inland from the coast and not easily reached by boat. Cruising further south just doesn’t make sense for us.

If we could use the boat for just three months each winter and temporarily leave it behind inexpensively and with confidence that it would not deteriorate during the rest of the year and need loads of work upon our return, we might continue cruising.

Sailing Groovy

Sailing Groovy

Then we could enjoy all the things we do love about boating each winter. However, that’s not possible, at least not in the areas we’ve explored that are within a reasonable distance of Pacific Mexico.

We will miss the lively day-sailing we’ve had in Huatulco, Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and near Loreto. It will be really sad to give up swimming off the back of the boat and living in our tiny home in the middle of beautiful tropical bays.

However, we have lived that dream — and loved it — and we have three-and-a-half years of vibrant memories, tens of thousands of photos, and hundreds of stories that we bring away from the experience.

 

Palenque - an evocative and mystical place of the ancients

Palenque – An evocative and mystical place of the ancients that fascinated us.

So we have made the most of our time in Puerto Vallarta as we have waited for July to approach. The 1,100 miles between here and San Diego are a very difficult voyage.

Sailors call it the “Baja Bash” because it can be a very long, scary, miserable and dangerous slog directly into huge winds and waves. After making the trip last month, a cruiser said simply: “I thought I was going to die.”

The advice from experienced sailors that have made this trip many times is that the best months to go are July and November.

Agua Verde anchorage, Sea of Cortez

Agua Verde anchorage, Sea of Cortez

We are waiting for a weather window to make the first 280 mile (48 hour) jump across the Sea of Cortez to Cabo San Lucas. From there we will take it section by section, trying to catch the best conditions we can as we make our way up the 850-mile coast.

If this post has surprised you, or saddened you or just seems strange, because you thought we would be out cruising “forever” — or at least a lot longer than three and a half years — here are some parting thoughts:

In the end, going cruising is all about dream fulfillment. The most important thing is to HAVE a dream and then to make it come true.

Beach time at Playa San Agustin in Huatulco.

Beach time at Playa San Agustin in Huatulco.

The thrill of having a dream and making it come true is being able to live it, to live WITH it, and to find its true essence.

Only when you are actually living your dream, day in and day out, can you decide which parts of it are dreamy and which parts need a little adjustment.

Many people allow themselves to be scared away from pursuing their biggest dreams. The fear that pens them in is fear of the unknown.

However, if you don’t jump into your dream with both feet, you’ll never know what that dream might have become once you wrestled with its limitations and figured out how to make it even better.

 

Enjoying some sweetie time in the romantic hot tub at Paradise Villaage resort.

Enjoying some sweetie time in the wonderfully romantic hot tub at Paradise Villaage resort.

It is said that cruising is about “The Journey,” and in our experience the most important journey you end up taking is one that goes within.

It is a journey where you learn a little more about who you are and what you truly want out of life.

As we have lived our cruising dream, we have learned that we are Travelers more than we are Cruisers. It took us a while to understand this.

While we love doing both, our preference is to spend our time seeing new sights and experiencing other cultures rather than taking care of and living on a boat. We can’t wait to see Mexico’s Caribbean side — by plane, bus and hotel!

 

The sun sets before our overnight passage.

The sun sets before an overnight passage.

Once we get settled in San Diego, we will be offering our beloved boat Groovy for sale so she can continue her own adventures with new hands on her helm.  She has been our “dream boat” in every way.

We so appreciate all of you who follow our travels. We have many many more adventures ahead, not least of which is this upcoming voyage (yikes!).  We should have internet in many locations along the Baja California coast, and we expect the trip to take about three weeks, so stay tuned for more stories from the sea and for many future land-based capers!

Note added later: Our Baja Bash trip had exciting moments but went very well in the end. Here’s the story:

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For more comparisons of the cruising and RVing lifestyles, see the two articles I wrote for Escapees Magazine, “RVing by Land and Sea” and “Life Afloat and On the Road” which are about 1/2 way down this page in the Other Articles section.

More thoughts on Living the Dream in a sailboat or RV:

Our most recent posts:

What’s It Like to RV Full-time? – A Snapshot of Pure Joy (as the banking world collapsed)

What's it like to live in an RV full time? Here is a peek at one month of RVing adventures.

Mountaintop meadow where our

month started in Parowan, UT

Full-time RV - Tractor show in Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

Tractor show, Parowan, UT

Full-time RV - John Deere Memorabilia, Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

John Deere rules

RV full-time - Iron County Fair rides, Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

County fair in Parowan, UT

RV full-time - Iron County Fair balloons, Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

Kids love clowns and

balloons

RV full time - Boondock site, Parowan UT in our fifth wheel RV.

Boondocking by a babbling brook

(brook not shown!)

RV Full time - Budweiser Clydesdales, Cedar City, UT where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Budweiser Clydesdales at the Cedar City western rodeo

RV Full time - Cedar City Western Rodeo, UT where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Lil' cowboy

RV Full time - Pioche, NV ore bucket where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Ore bucket in

Pioche, NV

full time RV - Pioche, NV where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Pioche, NV, ghost town, living history

and fading memories

full time RV - Pioche Nevada Overland Hotel where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

One remaining saloon

out of 80 that once

thrived in Pioche, NV

full-time RV - Pioche Nevada jailhouse where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

The jailhouse in Pioche,

NV

Full time RV - Pioche Nevada Cathedral Gorge State Park where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Cathedral Gorge outside

Pioche, NV

RV Full-time - Pioche Nevada Cathedral Gorge State Park where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Moonscape at Cathedral Gorge

RV full time - Pioche Nevada Cathedral Gorge State Park where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Cool shadowing cliffs at

Cathedral Gorge

Full time RV - Colnago bicycles at Interbike Las Vegas NV Boondocking in our fifth wheel RV

Pricey Italian Colnagos lined up for test

rides at the Interbike Outdoor Demo.

Full time RV - Shelter Island Harbor San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Sailboats in San Diego Harbor

RV full time - Cruise ships San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Cruise ship dwarfs the San Diego skyline

RV full time - Shelter Island Harbor San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Local sport fisherman shows off his shark

before tossing it back to the sea

full time rv - Shelter Island Harbor San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

San Diego skyline at sunset

Full time RV - Mission Bay San Diego boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Sailboat headed out to catch the breeze

RV full time - Mission Bay San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

A day of fun in the sun on Coronado

Beach in San Diego

RV full time

Scenic road through Red Rock Canyon, NV

What's It Like to RV Full-time?? A Free Spirited Month of Pure Joy (as the banking world collapsed)

What is it like to travel fulltime in an RV?  It is a total blast.  We have a sense of freedom and independence that we have not felt

since childhood.  But the wonderful difference between living like this and being a kid is that there are no grownups around to tell

us what to do.  Each day -- every moment -- we do whatever we feel like.  And we never know what will happen next.  We

structure our overall movements by seasons:  we'll spend spring here, summer there, and by fall we should be over there.  We

structure our daily movements by how much we like a place, what chores need to be done, and the weather.  Sometimes we

arrive in a town to discover there is an event going on, and we get caught up in the local excitement.  Sometimes the highlight of

a day is the hours at the laundromat: we have met some great people while folding

clothes.  Sometimes we have a totally quiet day, filled with reading, writing, napping and

talking with each other.  However we spend our days, by the end of each one we almost

invariably look back and say, "What a great day!"

For me, the best part of this lifestyle is the

unpredictability.  I like not knowing what I am going to

do after breakfast.  I like not knowing anything about

a town until I get there.  I like studying maps and

wondering about the views from the tiny squiggly

roads leading into the hinterlands.

ONE MONTH IN THE LIFE

During September, 2008 we had a series of outstanding adventures.  Those few weeks form a perfect snapshot of what it's like,

how repeatedly stumbling into unexpected good times can be so much fun.

We had spent the summer near Bryce Canyon, Utah where we had settled into

one idyllic location for a month.  Gorgeous as it was, while August began to wind

down we felt like we were growing roots and were beginning to itch for new

scenery.  Our overall goal was to get to Las Vegas, Nevada, by September 23rd

for the annual bike industry trade show, Interbike.  Then we would meet up with

family in San Diego on the 30th.  In between, we had a month to kill and very little

geographic distance to cover.  That month held the essence of all that is great

about this crazy, traveling lifestyle.

County Fair in Parowan, Utah

We arrived in Parowan, Utah, September 1st.  Missing the turn to our planned campsite, we stopped

in the visitors center for directions.  While there, we discovered the town was hosting a huge Labor

Day county fair, complete with a 5K running race, in just a few days.  Mark signed us up for the race,

and suddenly we were immersed in the fair's rides, kettle corn, crafts display and tractor show.  We

saw a terrific seminar on local raptors, ran the race, talked at length with various residents, and

watched the parade.  During the days of the fair we camped in a mountaintop meadow near a

beautiful reservoir, at 9,000 feet elevation amid aspen and tall pines.  When the morning air got too

cool we found another spot at the base of the mountains, at a warmer elevation of 6,000 feet, where

we settled in next to a babbling brook, just a mile from town.

New Friends

After the fair ended, we were doing our laundry, pondering what

might come next in our lives when, between washing and

drying, we met a delightful couple from Arizona who live in their 24' fifth wheel in a local

mobile home park every summer.  They invited us to stop by, get water for our trailer, and

visit a while.  What a glorious afternoon!  Their fifth wheel had a stunning view of the nearby

mountains, and they were full of tales of their lifetime of international travel adventures.

Great American Stampede in Cedar City, Utah

Still caught up in their stories, we packed up the trailer and moved

a few miles south to Cedar City.  We decided to stay in the Home Depot parking lot which put us close

to a lot of shopping that we needed to do, and allowed Mark easy access to Home Depot for purchases

and returns as he embarked on a trailer project.  After six weeks in remote areas, it was fantastic to get

22 high definition digital channels on TV, so we sat in front of the boob tube for a few days, nursing our

sore running muscles and resting up after all the excitement of the fair.

We discovered the town was hosting a

western rodeo show over the weekend, so

once again we found ourselves caught up

in the small town celebrations of a rural

lifestyle neither of us has ever known.  We

spent many hours with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses and

handlers before and after the parade, learning all about the recent

purchase of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, and learning about the life of

these magnificent horses and their dedicated caretakers.

More New Friends

While admiring the horses we ran into a friend we had met at the tractor show in Parowan, and he

invited us to stay a night in his driveway nearby.  First we needed to watch the parade and sample a

little more kettle corn, but soon we found ourselves camped out in our new friend's driveway, learning

even more about tractors.  He is an avid John Deere collector, and besides his many tractors, he has

a house filled with John Deere memorabilia: lunch boxes, quilts, vests, curtains, table cloths, coffee

mugs, you name it.  His wife is a collector too, and our eyes were saucers when he swung open the

door to a bedroom that was filled, floor to ceiling, with Pepsi memorabilia.  Posters, trays, cans from

every era, pens, mugs, buttons, statuettes, hats, clothing.  Neither of us is a collector, and last year

we emptied our lives of almost all our worldly possessions.  How amazing to stand in this house that is

a shrine to all things John Deere and Pepsi.

Pioche, Nevada - Living History

Talking a mile a minute about these amazing collections, we

made our way to Pioche, Nevada, a town of 700 where the

nearest grocery store is an hour's drive away.  The town is so

far off the beaten path that their city RV park is free.  Pioche,

NV, we discovered, is a living ghost town that is filled to

overflowing with real-life memorabilia of the town's rugged,

wild-west, mining past.  As we pulled into town, we had to drive

under the ore-bucket tramway that was stilled 75 years ago

but still has buckets swinging in the breeze.  Without the

slightest nod to tourism, this town is the real deal, authentic in

its living history and dying population.  The caretaker of the

historical museum and courthouse has so many stories to tell,

of living citizens and long-dead historical figures, that I wished I had a

notebook to take notes as I listened to her.  For three days we pondered

the brutal lives of the nineteenth century silver miners who lived in this

once rocking town of 10,000 where 80 saloons and 20 brothels thrived.

Everywhere we turned in this quiet, peaceful town, we were surrounded

by reminders of its rugged history.

Echo Canyon and Cathedral Gorge - Nature's Treasures

Seeking a little exercise, one day we rode our bikes 15 miles out to Echo

Canyon, a delightful desert oasis complete with herons fishing in the

reservoir and sheer rock cliffs.  Another day we rode fifteen miles in

another direction to Cathedral Gorge.  We hiked among the sandstone

towers, climbing deep into their cool, shadowed crevices, our heads

thrown back as we gazed up the immense, sheer walls.  We would have

stayed in Pioche longer, but Interbike was calling and we needed to get

to Las Vegas.

Bicycle Tours

We started our Las Vegas visit with a few days in Red Rock Canyon

where we enjoyed some gorgeous bike rides on the scenic road that

loops the western end of the city.  The views were right out of a bicycle

touring company catalog.  Once Interbike's Outdoor Demo got

underway, we joined the "Hangover" group ride on a stunning tour of

the eastern suburbs outside the city.  I will never forget the thrill of the

peleton flying down the hill in Henderson, NV, going 40 mph and more,

as the stunning view of the bright blue lake set against the red and

brown mountains opened up before us.

Bike Gear and Lance Armstrong

The Interbike trade show is a five day blitz of shiny bikes, clever gadgets, cycling

celebrities, free beer, and endless free "swag."  We test rode a Co-Motion tandem,

Co-Motion touring bikes with outrageously huge tires, top-of-the-line Lightspeed

titanium bikes (for the 24-mile "hangover" group ride), and an Orbea carbon frame

with the latest Shimano drivetrain.  Mark studied Campagnolo's latest 11-speed

gruppo, and we each ended up with a free pair of Oakley sunglasses.  Mark got

free custom insoles for his running shoes and a free set of Gore cables for his

bike.  The supplements were flowing on every corner, and we left with a year's

supply of electrolyte drink additives and energy bars.  The big surprise was the

night we aimlessly got on the free shuttle bus to go see a cyclocross bike race,

and arrived to find Lance Armstrong on the start line.  He passed us on every lap,

just an arm's length away, close enough to see him grimacing as he fought to stay

in the second pack, a full minute behind the leaders.  Why didn't I bring my

camera?

California Casino Hopping: Tiki Bars, Farmers' Markets and Swimming Pools

Las Vegas is insanely hot in September, and we had a week to kill before meeting Mark's daughter and granddaughters on their

vacation in San Diego.  We wandered into California hoping to find some relief from the heat, but the road from Vegas to San

Diego is mostly through the desert.  So we decided to casino-hop, planning on free overnights in their parking lots and air

conditioning somewhere in their buildings during the days.  We aren't gamblers, but one casino gave us money to play the slots,

so our meager winnings meant we were paid to camp at their place.  Even better was the delightful surprise that many California

casinos are set up as resorts.  We jumped from one casino resort swimming pool to

the next, soaking ourselves in the hot tubs and enjoying the poolside tiki bars along

the way.  What a great way to beat the heat for a few days while making our way

across the desert to the coast.  Between tiki bar hops, we rode our bikes to Old

Town Temecula and happened to hit it on a Saturday, the day of their farmer's

market.  We spent a happy hour talking with a 40-year resident who has been

bringing her homemade wheels of Gouda cheese to this market for 15 years.  She

told wistful tales of riding her horses through the valleys where the freeways and

housing developments now stand.

Waterfront Life in San Diego

Once we got to San Diego we joined the local RV crowd that takes up

residence along the harbor-side streets on Shelter Island and Mission

Bay.  We relaxed on the waterfront, checking out the latest yachts at the

nearby brokers, and watched the pelicans dive for fish while the

thundering Navy jets rumbled our chests on every take-off and landing.

A perfect 80-degree day of play in the sand and sun at Coronado

Beach topped off an incredible month of fulltime RV living.

Couldn't Have Planned It Better...

Looking back, it is amazing to think about the variety of good times we had that month.  I couldn't have planned a more ideal

string of 30 days, yet every great adventure was something we fell into by accident, completely unplanned.  From a 5K running

race to a county fair, western rodeo and parade, to meeting some great people we never would have met at home, to watching

Lance Armstrong race his bike, to sitting in a resort hot tub quaffing drinks from a tiki bar, to body surfing on a white sand beach,

we experienced a little bit of everything.  If I didn't mention any down times, it's because there were so few.  Sure, the drive

towing our 14,000 lb fifth wheel up and down the desert mountains was a white-knuckle affair.  It was almost as scary as the

rush-hour drive down I-15 through Escondido, California, where I prayed nonstop that no one would rear-end us.  The traffic jam

on I-15 between Baker and Barstow, California, really took the cake too, as we sat

motionless in 102 degree heat and wondered if we would ever get the truck out of

Park -- on the freeway.  Sure, it was frustrating to sit in a casino parking lot

with the trailer interior at 95 degrees, unable to use the generator to run the air

conditioning because security forbade it.  And it was a little discouraging to do that

running race knowing that if I were living my old conventional life at home I would be

more diligent about my fitness and would be closer to true "race shape."  But those

are tiny tiny prices to pay for a glorious month of total freedom, unexpected

adventure, and countless great discoveries.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

During this same month, the US financial markets imploded.  Lehman Brothers filed

for bankruptcy; AIG collapsed into government support; Uncle Sam pointed his

finger at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and said "I want you;" Washington Mutual

had a coronary, narrowly revived by a buyout; Wachovia went begging to Citigroup

and Wells Fargo, and everyone born after 1940 was talking "Great Depression."

Taxpayers were hooked for $700 billion to save their own skins when we didn't even

know our skins needed saving.  Cover photos on newspapers showed Wall Street

rank-and-file with their heads in their hands.

What a great time to be meandering happily between historic western towns, exotic

sandstone cliffs, swimming pools, farmers markets, boat-filled harbors and the

ocean, making new friends along the way.

What is fulltime RVing like?  This month says it all:  It's a great life.  We are very lucky to be alive and to be living this way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do It? – Why We Left Home to Live in an RV!

Why leave the security of hearth and home and run away in an RV full-time?  We followed our hearts and our dreams to a live full-time RVing lifestyle. The Luvnest is our ticket to freedom, traveling fulltime by RV Fulltiming in our RV means no more fences holding us in We are soaring free in our full-time traveling lifestyle Stunning views are a regular part of the RVing lifestyle. Follow your dreams and start living full-time in your RV! Gorgeous sunsets are a regular sight when living the fulltime RV lifestyle We see gorgeous sunsets all the time in this fulltime RV lifestyle Living fulltime in our RV means having the chance to ponder the more important things in life. Living fulltime in our RV means we have time to stop and smell the flowers Fulltiming in our RV means we have the time to stop and smell the flowers.

Why Do It ?

Why on earth would we give up the security of hearth and home, get rid of all

our stuff, and run away on a traveling adventure?

To go places.

To see new things.

To be together.

To be free.

At 47 and 53, we had reached a point in our lives where certain chapters had

closed, and a new chapter needed to be opened.  We had each left the

corporate world fairly recently and were doing a lot of soul searching as we

considered different possible lifestyles.  We each worked part-time.  We had

cut our expenses way back and learned to live very frugally.  Mark operated

a boutique bicycle shop from our home, and I was a personal trainer at a

small studio.  The arrival of two adorable grandkids and the departure of Mark's son for the Navy planted us in a new position in the

circle of life.  As we contemplated this new phase of life, many memories bubbled up from our pasts.  At the same time, we

watched our parents settling into their late 70's, and realized that in a few short years we would be there ourselves.

Looking back on my life, my most thrilling memories were my childhood summers on the north shore of Massachusetts, travels

through Europe at age twenty-three, a few months in Australia at thirty-one, and the four years I lived on a sailboat in Boston

Harbor in my late thirties.  As one sailor wrote after completing a six-year sail around the world:  "Those memories are in

technicolor.  The rest of my life is in black and white."  His words rang true for me.  Mark's experience is much the same.  He feels

about the woods the way I feel about the sea, and he spent many happy childhood hours in the forest.  Whenever he is in the

woods he comes alive.  He took a motorcycle trip with a friend when he was twenty, going from Detroit through the Upper

Peninsula of Michigan, out west through the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver Island, down the Pacific coast to Tijuana, Mexico and

back to Detroit.  It was five weeks of his life that I heard about many many times.  There were lots of places along that route he

wanted to show me, and I had seen very little of that whole part of the country.  As we kept discussing those happy memories from

years ago, we kept wondering: what was it about those few weeks and months of our lives that made them stand out with such

vivid brilliance?  How was it that whole decades of our lives seemed to merge into indistinguishable years spent working in cubicles,

commuting in traffic and submitting timesheets?  What, exactly, made those other times so special?

Part of it was the excitement of seeing new places and experiencing new things.  Part of it was

meeting new people that weren't from our small circle of friends and family.  Part of it was the

adventures that we stumbled upon.  But those were just the icing on the cake.  As we thought

about and talked about the exhilaration of those memories, it became clear to both of us that the

real joy of those times was the total independence we had, the utter freedom we felt.  There was

nothing in this world quite as satisfying as living without a schedule.

Life in our culture today doesn't allow much freedom.  Too often the focus of our lives seems to be the passage of money through

our fingers.  We try very hard to cup our hands so we don't lose too much, and some have better luck at this than others.  We build

our lives by acquiring things and stashing them around us.  Some people have a huge stash that towers over them and their

friends.  Some don't have a stash at all.  Almost everyone, however, is frantically busy.  Every minute of every day is committed.

Spontaneity is a lost art.  There is no time to think.  No time to be.

The only way to get some time to yourself is to leave your life -- take a vacation, or even a

long weekend.  But too often a shadow hangs over the whole experience.  I left on a Saturday

for a 9-day Caribbean sailing vacation once.  I remember the incredible sadness I felt on the

following Thursday.  I had just started to get into the rhythm of the tropics -- and I was leaving

in three days.

As a child I was blessed to live on a beach in the summertime.  My mom would open the door

in the morning to let me out -- like a cat -- and tell me:  "Don't come in unless it's raining."  I

don't remember any rainy days!  It must have rained.  Massachusetts gets a lot of rain in the

summer.  In fact, I remember distinctly that as soon as I started working full-time as an adult,

it rained all weekend every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  But during those precious years on the beach it never

rained.  My friend and I played all day long, building things in the sand, splashing in the water until our lips turned blue, and lying on

the hot granite boulders we lovingly called "hot rocks."  The tide gave our days their shape and form.  At high tide there was no

beach, just massive boulders.  As the ocean rolled outwards, a fresh palette of sand laid before us with endless wonders waiting in

the tide pools.  Our rumbling stomachs marked the passage of time.  Lunch drew us home when the fire station whistle blew at

noon, and we went in for dinner when we grew cold from the lengthening shadows on the beach.

Those were days of pure freedom.  I never knew when I woke up in the morning what I would do that day.  But every

day was delicious and fun.  The important things in those days were very tactile:  the warmth of the sun drying the

salt water off my cheeks while hot trickles of water dripped down the rocks I laid on; the sound of the kids' voices on

the more distant beaches, a kind of dim, high-pitched roar; the taste of the salt water on my fingers.  We would

watch the tiny red bugs, no bigger than a grain of sand, that crawled over the rocks, creeping in and out of the

granite crevices.  We would lie on those rocks for hours, feeling the sun slip across our bodies as it moved across

the sky.  We didn't do anything useful.  We didn't do anything productive.  But we were infinitely happy.

I found that kind of open-ended freedom just twice again in my life: when I went to Europe for three months and

when I went to Australia for three months.  During my travels I woke up not knowing what I would do that day, and I

went to bed savoring the memory of whatever had come my way.  Those months of travel were all about freedom.  There was an

overarching structure that held the days together and propelled me from one locale to the next; I planned my course as I heard

about interesting places to visit, and I followed the seasons along north-south routes.  However, my days were unscheduled.  If I

liked a place and wanted to stay an extra few days, I did.  If I looked out the window and didn't like what I saw, I kept going.

Now, in the middle of middle-age, I found myself yearning for that kind of freedom once again.  I had always longed for it, but it

wasn't possible.  I was busy building a stash of stuff around me.  It was what adults in our

culture do.  But now I looked at my stash -- a very small one -- and I realized that it was all

replaceable.  I could buy any of it again.  Very little was unique.  Just my photo albums and a

few mementos.  The rest was meaningless, manufactured and aging.

Mark and I discussed possible scenarios for our lives at great length.  We made up lists of

adventures we wanted to have, researched the logistics online, subscribed to magazines and

talked endlessly.  I found logs of people out adventuring, both online and at the library.  It was

amazing how many people were living really exciting lives, full of travel and independence.

They all shared some common themes.  They found a mode of transportation and housing that they liked and could afford; they

painted the plans for future travels in broad brush strokes with bright colors; and they left the details to be discovered as they went

along.  Some traveled by bicycle, some by sailboat, and some by RV.

These intrepid souls shared something even more fundamental in their new chosen lifestyles: they had given up

their stash of stuff.

We outlined all kinds of adventures we wanted to have.  We wanted to ride our bikes along the Mediterranean

coast from Italy through France to Spain.  We wanted to take our pop-up tent trailer on a tour of the western states

and National Parks.  We wanted to take our bikes from the northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand to the

southern tip of the South Island.  We wanted to spend a few years sailing up and down the Caribbean island chain.

We wanted to sail the great circle route of the Pacific Ocean.

But each of those journeys would take many months, at the very least.  What would happen to our stash of stuff

while we were gone?  The more we got excited about embarking on a new life filled with travel and independence,

the more it seemed in conflict with our stuff.  We were looking for something intangible: a life of freedom.  Our stash of stuff, small

as it was, was tying us down.

As we sat in our little garden that we had lovingly transformed from a barren gravel lot to a

lush flowering arbor, we longed to get away.  I wanted to wake up when my body decided it

was time.  I wanted to read when an easy chair and a good book beckoned.  I wanted what

I had wished for in my journal twenty years ago, "mornings filled with quiet cups of coffee."

I didn't want to wake up to an alarm clock.  I didn't want to answer a phone.  I didn't want to

drive in rush hour traffic.  But I knew that even if I eliminated the alarm clock, the phone and

the traffic, as long as I lived in a community surrounded by people engaged in today's

frantic lifestyle, I would feel their pressure.  True freedom lay out there somewhere, on the

road, away from the push and pull of modern life.

As I read, and thought, and stared at my stuff around me, I slowly realized a simple truth.  The amount of freedom in my life was

inversely proportional to the amount of stuff I had.

My friends who left their home on their bicycles in 2002--and were still out on the road today--unquestionably lived the most freely.

All their worldly possessions fit into the panniers on their bikes.  To date, they have ridden from Arizona through Central America to

the bottom of South America, through China, around Australia and New Zealand.  After six years on the road they are just getting

started.  They anticipate traveling the world by bike for twenty years or longer.

The sailors I have followed in their wanderings around the world are also very free, though not quite as free as the

cyclists because they have a boat and a dinghy to care for.  The most unique might be Lin and Larry Pardee who

have spent the past forty years in a 37' sailboat with no engine.  They have visited over 80 countries.  Living without

an engine gives them more space in a small boat and requires no maintenance.

RV travel offers incredible freedom as well.  Unable to cross oceans easily, RVs are essentially restricted to one

continent or another.  But the basic elements of living without a schedule, having all your possessions within arm's

reach, and wandering from place to place on a whim, are the same.

I have always been intrigued by people who live independently.  I was a teenager during the homesteading movement of the

1970's, and the ideas of subsistence farming and living off the land or the sea have always been deeply appealing to me.  I was

raised in the city and always lived near cities.  I became an engineer and worked in high tech for twenty years.  Those simpler

lifestyles attracted me, but I had never made the opportunity to live that way.  I was an armchair homesteader with dreams of a

small cottage by the sea, or a cabin in the woods, or a sailboat bobbing at anchor in the tropics.  Yet in my current life I had none of

those.

At the same time we felt very restless.  Our travels around Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and California with the popup had

whetted our appetites.  Whether we took a 12 hour drive to some faraway place for a week-long vacation or dashed 30 minutes to

the campground at the edge of town for a weekend, we always had an adventure and we never wanted to come home.  In our first

two years with the popup we spent 157 nights in it.  And we had barely scratched the surface of the southwest.

Our dream slowly and gradually took shape.  We wanted to be on the move, we wanted to

live simply, and we didn't want to be tied to a schedule.  These little desires burned in our

souls, just a small flame at first, and then a roaring fire.  We bought digital cameras with the

idea that we would be taking photographs as we traveled.  We bought a laptop so we could

communicate with friends and send those pictures to them.  We tossed around ideas of

buying a boat, but couldn't decide which coast to start on and couldn't come up with a good

name for it.  That seemed like an omen, as the popup had taken the name "Luvnest" so

easily.  We toyed with the idea of taking the popup on a summertime jaunt and coming home

in the winter to deal with our stuff.  That darned stuff.  It was a real nuisance.  Cars, furniture,

house, bikes, rental house.  It would take money to maintain it all while we were gone -- and

for what?

Suddenly at the end of April, 2007, Mark put his foot down.  He is a very mild mannered person, and is not one to force his opinion

on anyone.  "I'm tired of scenario building!"  He said.  "I'm putting a sign in the yard tomorrow."  I came home from work to find two

signs in the yard -- "Yard Sale" and "For Sale By Owner."  At 6:00 the next morning the garage door flew open and garage salers

from all over town poured in.  By the end of the weekend we had sold the car, the popup, half our stuff, the house was in escrow,

and we had put a deposit on a trailer -- sight unseen -- in Dallas, 1,000 miles away.  Twenty days later we had sold or given away

just about everything we owned, put the remaining things in a shed in our friends' yard, and found tenants for the house after it fell

out of escrow.  We drove to Dallas with everything we would need in our new lives packed into the bed of our pickup.

Since then we have lived our dream.  Every day is an adventure.  I never know what any

day will bring when I wake up.  Some days it's a beautiful new place; some days it's an

interesting new person; some days we stay in bed until noon talking about our childhoods.

I truly feel like a child again.  Sometimes I lie back and watch the clouds.  We take endless

photographs of flowers and sunsets.  Mark bakes wonderful things in the oven.  I haven't

answered a phone since we left in May, 2007.  Every day, at least once a day, one or the

other of us spontaneously blurts out, "what a great life!"  We live largely on public lands,

boondocking in secluded places away from the fray.  Our solar panels provide all the

electricity we could ever need, and we get water in our jerry jugs whenever we find a spigot

in town.

I haven't missed my stash of stuff for one minute.  Ironically, we have photographs of all our stuff because we sold most of it on

Craigslist.  Sometimes I bump into those photos and I feel as if I still own it all.  It's at home, of course, in the house we live in,

right?  This is just an extended vacation, a very wonderful and very long one, isn't it?  And since I still feel like all my stuff is back

there in my old house, what difference does it make that it isn't really?  Afterall, memories and dreams live and flourish in the same

place -- the imagination.

Our story is hardly unique.  Lots of people are out adventuring.  Most are propelled by

something profound in their lives.  Our motivation was a deep undercurrent of desire that

had flowed in our souls since childhood.  And we wanted to start before time ran out.  It

was hardly a financially prudent move.  Most of our friends are building up significantly

larger retirements and will enjoy far more security in old age.  But I fear that for each year

a dream is postponed, the risk of it never happening jumps exponentially.  We have met

too many people who wanted to go out traveling but waited too long and either traveled

for just a year or two or never made it out at all.  On the opposite side is a couple we met

who started their RV travels because his stressful job had damaged his heart so badly

the doctor gave him just one year to live.  She worried about becoming a widow on the

road, but the doctor said, "either you can stay home and wring your hands while you watch him die, or you can get out there

together and live your dream as long as he lasts."  That was twelve years ago, and he is far healthier today than when they started.

Perhaps the hardest thing is figuring out exactly what your dream is.  Unless it is far more appealing than whatever your life holds

now, why change?  Whenever we drive by beautiful homes in beautiful settings, I wonder if I ever could have left such a place if it

were mine.  Possibly not.  Most people we meet on the road are traveling part-time, three to nine months a year.  In each case they

say that they love their homes too much to give them up for fulltime RV travel.  If we had been able to have our dream home and

have dreamy part-time travels too, then we would probably be among their ranks.  However, without the means to pull that off, it

just took a leap of faith and a bit of soul searching to decide that it was worthwhile to give up the security and familiarity of life at

home for the unknown thrills waiting for us on the road.

Note: I wrote this after our first 14 months of full-time RV travel, in July, 2008

--Emily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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