Last year I don't think I ever got around to jotting down some thoughts of what was going on in my mind and soul and heart during year 6. I decided I'd give it a shot this year to try and quantify how great of a year it has been.
Sometimes the words and thoughts just flow out like a stream of consciousness, other times it is a bit disjointed. Hopefully you can get the just of how we feel about being on the road the last seven years.
In a few words: wonderful, exciting, interesting, gratifying, expensive, fun, educational.
A day doesn't go by that Pam and I don't comment on how very grateful we are for our health, this time or our lives and being able to do this together. It is special in many ways and being able to do this with Pam makes it even more so.
At this stage of the proceedings, e.g. passing through 63 years old, we are well aware of the finiteness of things -- of our own mortality. We have seen too many pass from this life and some who now are not in good health. We are also understand our life on the road will not last forever. How long? Don't know but we are going to continue to try to enjoy it as much as we can for as long as we can.
It always is a bit sobering to us when we hear of folks who have 'hung up the keys' and are now off the road. And every one is different, all have different motivations and situations. But at some point all had that wonder and fire and big eyed look and quick smile as they told stories about their RV life. Even if only for a few months or a few years doing this is special. When we think about when our days ending 'on the road', we get a bit sad and know we are not read to stop; this is where we need to be.
We do not tire of seeing family in different parts of the country. We don't tire of moving on and moving down the road to meet up with old friends and new friends. Sometimes we've stayed only a day or a few days in a place. Other times it's been a week or a few weeks. During other periods in the last seven years. So far the long stays have been near our kids depending on what was going on in their lives.
There are still parts of the country we haven't seen much of and others that we keep going back to. We'll get to see some of the new places hopefully in the coming months as we continue on to California and see more of the Sierras and then up the Oregon Coast again. And we want to spend a little time in the Midwest seeing more of the RV country visiting factories and such before we head back to Virginia for a few weeks in the fall.
Finances are something everyone deals with. Everyone's finances are different. Some workamp, some stay in one location for five or six months to reduce costs -- all of us have to manage our finances and see what works for us.
For us, year seven has been the most expensive so far. I think one of the challenges for us is how to manage our finances and not make any 'unforced errors' as in bad financial decisions. Somethings are unforeseen and we just have to work our way through them. This past year - the last 12 months - has been the most costly for US dollar wise. We budgeted $6000 for RV and Car Maintenance and spent over $15,000. Yikes! Obviously we can't keep that up. Hopefully that was an anomaly and we look forward to meeting or being under our budget this next year.
Social media has really been a big part of our experience in this journey, especially blogging.
During this last year I came to the conclusion that our reasons for blogging are changing and now I am doing it predominantly to keep a record of some of the thoughts and places we have been. Don't get me wrong, we am very thankful for those that offer comments and a word or two. And I really look forward to them.
Another big deal and huge benefit of 'putting myself out there' is that we get emails from people we never met. And they actually have asked about things, about my opinion of this or that. To me, that is very rewarding and a real bonus to the effort. If we can help folks along the way that just makes it all a little more worthwhile and I look forward to that.
Blogging is an interesting hobby and I don't know too many people who are regular at it and don't play catch up. Most people who blog don't feel as if they are current and caught up. I just goes with the territory.
We ask ourselves the same question as we did when we contemplated full-timing: Why do we want to do this? There are many reasons. We love camping and seeing new places and people. Traveling is not the same as traveling. Seeing new hotels is not the same in our mind as seeing new campgrounds. But beyond the camping and friendly people we meet is the sheer wonder of this country.
Seeing America has been an education. Or at least the start of one. Being an observer of life across the country in big and little communities has been an eye opener. We like seeing new sights and learning about history. Little museums are the best! The tidbits we learn are better than books. It takes us back to the old days and we can imagine what it was like to live like our parents and their parents. That is fun!
This lifestyle IS an adventure; you never know what you will find. You never know what challenges you will face. Although there are a lot of predictable and plenty of things that we find as familiar in new places. We think it is a privilege renewing friendships with folks and family and meeting new people.
Going to a new place doesn't phase us. We like to learn about each new location, and sometimes we like seeing a lot in a short amount of time. Our rythmn changes sometimes and that's ok. Others may want to 'Slow Down'. Each to their own. There are so many ways to do this.
Another aspect of this adventure is the simple notion of being on a road trip. And the fact that we love driving that bus! It's a nice thing to drive, has very comfortable seats and a big windshield. Pam loves to drive it too so another benefit is that we can change drivers and get a quick nap and go 5-6 hours each day. After that, it gets pretty tiring. I know others don't drive that long but each to their own.
An unexpected benefit of this is that sometimes we have a chance for redos. By that I mean we may get to see some place once but then followup and get to see it a second time in more detail. I feel like we did that this last year in a couple places: Utah, Colorado and Florida.
For example, our goal last summer was to see St. George, Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Arches and a couple of other places in Utah that we've wanted to spend a little more time in. The Arches and Moab, UT we have seen before, but we got to see them again and stay at a different campground which added to the experience.
We also got to see the old pueblo ruins of Mesa Verde and the Rocky Mountains and Estes Park and the Garden of the Gods. And Pikes Peak.
We've been to Florida quite a few times but this winter we were able to see new places and meander around through the Central part of Florida more and also become familiar with campgrounds in the Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale eastern part of Florida. For us to be able to go to these places and to live this lifestyle -- it is invigorating!
Seeing new things and meeting people continues to be interesting and exciting. A few days ago we learned where the name Ozarks came from -- the French. Aux Arc meant 'bend in the river'. Over time, those along the banks of the Arkansas River turned 'Aux Arc into Ozark'. It is not life changing but intriguing to learn more about different parts of the country.
This lifestyle has a certain quality of life that fits us. Unpretentious, humble, interesting, different, challenging at times. It used to be a bit overwhelming with all the systems and stuff to learn and getting used to the constant variety of change going on. Every day is different. But we have hit a rhythm and look forward to what tomorrow brings.
So that's a recap and some thoughts on our 7th year. I know I'm a bit 'all over the map' but we love doing this, plan to continue, and hopefully meet you down the road somewhere and be able to hear about your experiences.
Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chroncles!