Before we started this adventure I said to Pam that I thought we had to 'do this thing' at least five years. She said, "I was thinking more like 10 years." At the end of May completed our 5th year and are now into Year 6. As I have said many many times, we feel lucky to be able to do this and can't think of what we would rather be doing.
Each year I try to do a recap on our past year and this is what I came up with for our last 12 months (and our first 5 Year - Increment). The following thoughts are in random order and an assortment of thoughts.
I think we have adjusted to the fact that our routine changes. We adapt and make up a new routine depending on where we are. Some things stay the same -- like when we get up and when we got to bed and when we like to eat. But each place brings a new set of experiences. We like that.
Folks ask us how long we stay in a place and it's never a straight forward answer. It depends. We find we like staying at most locations at least a month. There are several advantages for this. We can check out the area and get to know some of its history and hangouts and we can cool our jets and get settled a bit. And if we are parked--we are not spending money on diesel fuel for our 7.4 mpg motorhome. And the campground rates are usually cheaper by the month.
In the last 12 months we have only been to a few notable churches. We miss that since one of the things we enjoy is a sense of agreement -- nothing feels the same as when we hear and see things and connect with what's going on. There is so much in our world is dis-connected and at odds...its good to be in a place we enjoy and can say 'that's what I'm talking about!'...
We knew that one of the downsides of travel is the absence of a church we call home. It's definitely one of the challenges we deal with.
On the other side of things, I think the internet and social media changes everything! I never imagined the hundreds of people we've met and learned about through this blog and FaceBook and with Instant Messaging. In that way - we feel way more connected to our friends and acquaintances than we've ever been. It has been great!
I think some people are just made for this lifestyle. Their sense of adventure and who they are with and their family circumstances are such that full-timing just fits them. Such is the case with us. For now. We love being with each other. We love the adventure and travel. We love seeing new places learning about history and what happened at different places.
Goals for last year were to spend time in the Midwest at Tom and Cathy's, spend time with my brothers, see nephews nieces and cousins in CA, and to see the Oregon Coast. Gladly, we got to do all that. We also renewed our wonder of the Grand Canyon, deepened our love for the desert and Arizona and the beach!
This past year I didn't do that great on exercising or watching our diet, didn't play that much golf nor did we work as much as we would like in the volunteering and Habitat for Humanity end of things. But some of those things are more conducive to getting it done.
When we are on a military base we can usually find a gym that makes it pretty easy to workout. Or if we are on the ocean and in warm weather, I find it easier to bike and exercise. But then I need to be motivated. Sadly some of the best motivation is that I get tired of the way I feel or my belt needs expanding. I'd rather to have inertia working in a positive way. Like when I feel good about being a little sore from working out or a little hungry from watching what I'm eating and laying off the snacks.
We knew we didn't want to play golf all the time. But we've probably played less than we thought we would. Most of the time it is a subconscious decision not to spend the money. But we still love getting out there. Its always a great place to enjoy ourselves and each other. You almost always meet nice people on the golf course.
On the upside of exercising, this past year we did quite a bit of hiking, especially in California and Arizona. There is something wonderful about wandering through the mountains and hills or along the desert. We love those. Even though most of our hikes aren't long and strenuous, it's great to get out and do it.
Our finances have turned out better than I expected. I was hoping to work a little and we considered being Workampers. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of jobs that full-timers work at in order to support this lifestyle. Some do it because they like it. Some do it to augment their retirement or so they don't dip into their life savings. I am very fortunate to be able to work a few days a month which takes the pressure off. That was a big consideration when we contemplated fulltiming.
One of the things we have overcome is how to handle the question, "Where are you from". I remember how that simple question stumped us our first couple of months on the road. We were an an orientation meeting for a three-week volunteer stint with NOMADS in Pontiac IL. We went around the room to introduce ourselves and our spouse and to, "tell everyone a little bit about yourself and where you are from."
For a newbie, that was a hard one. Instead of, "We left Fairfax, VA three months ago and live full time in our motor home" --- quick panic and a lot of things raced through my mind....
- "We are from Virginia but it never really like home...."
- "Pam is from Tennessee and I'm from New Mexico..."
- "We are state residents of South Dakota, though we don't really live there..."
Now we have a ready answer depending on the audience and how much time they have.
Another tough question is, "What is your favorite place so far?" We love a lot of different places we've been so we really don't have a favorite per se. Usually, I just pick one and that satisfies the person asking the question. Few people really go beyond that one.
But if they did I'd list these in the top 10, "Key West, Bar Harbor - Maine, Texas, Arizona, the Oregon Coast, The Arches National Park (NP), Glacier NP, Grand Canyon NP, Pebble Beach - CA, The Masters in Augusta GA, Virginia Beach.
Another question is, "Don't you miss your kids?" Yes we do. The 'kids' are now in there early thirties and on the East Coast. We only got to see them once in the last 13 months and we decided that was way too long. What has been great though is that they each have flown out to see us in Miami/Key West, Tucson, Southern California and in the Bay Area.
We know lots of people that travel across the country visiting their kids in different places. Or some that don't full time because they miss their kids and grand kids and don't want to be gone long. So they half-time or have extended trips. So many ways to do this.
Some ask, "Don't you miss your house and everything?" No! We had a great house that served us well. We were in it for 17 years and selling it allowed us to do this. But miss it? And Northern Virginia in the winter time?
Another question we get is: "What are you going to do when you quit doing this?" My answer is, "Beats me!" I don't know. But just as we figured this out little by little, I am betting we will be able to transition to the next chapter as well.
As I wrap it up here, I think of all that we are learning and remember part of the motivation that added to our decision. We knew of people who were getting older and their health was slipping and only got to be together on the road. We decided we were going to 'go for it' while we were still 'young'. (We see a many folks RVing and full-timing and are in their 70's. )
That's enough for now. One of my brother's often asks, "What is your takeaway here?'. So on Take 2 of 5 Years on the Road, here have been some of mine...