What have we been up to?

April 11th, 2019.  Today marks the 2-year anniversary of “The Pipe Dream”.  Two years ago we came up with the crazy idea to sell everything and become full-time RVers.  I still can’t quite believe we had this idea and made a goal and then achieved our goal last December.  I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest goal we’ve ever set for ourselves and then actually made it happen.  We had already known for a long time we were ready for a change and ready to move out of Missouri but we weren’t quite sure about anything else, until we settled on the idea to travel the country full-time.  I never could have predicted all the things that have happened in the past 2 years, and even in the past several months.  It’s been a roller-coaster and although we’ve been keeping up with social media, our blog is LONG overdue for an update!  We’ve been busy and I don’t know where to start with an update so I’m just going to do a rough timeline and plan to go back and fill in more details later.

The last time I updated the blog, we had just returned from the Escapees RV club rally in Sedalia, MO.  We met a bunch of people and learned a lot!  The biggest game-changer we took away from Escapade was the knowledge that our plan to keep our Excursion as our tow vehicle was NOT going to work well.  We needed a more capable tow vehicle in order to safely and comfortably tow our big RV all over the country full-time.  I’ll start our timeline there.

June 2018– we took a 1,000+ mile round-trip road trip to Columbus, Ohio and bought a 2011 Ford F-350 dually truck! It had low miles and was just what we wanted and the price was right.  It was a bit of a needle in a haystack, we didn’t want to get another diesel truck and a gas dually truck is a pretty rare find. We left on Friday evening after I got home from work, inspected and bought our truck Saturday and arrived back home in the early morning hours on Sunday.                                                                                                 IMG_20180609_152224758_HDR

July and August 2018- Bryan and I were both working full-time and I was also commuting over an hour a day.  Bryan spent many weekends working on some upgrades to the truck, as well as other odds and ends that needed to be done in order for us to sell our multiple other vehicles we managed to accumulate over the years.  Bryan’s mom’s health was deteriorating further so we also made additional trips to Joplin over the summer.  We continued to be “weekend warriors” and every weekend was filled with either a trip out of town or a lot of work on multiple projects at home. We still tried to enjoy simple things like grilling dinner and playing outside even though it was SO HOT outside all summer.IMG_20180704_173748556

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September and October 2018- Bryan’s mom passed away after many years of struggling with dementia and declining health.  Although it wasn’t unexpected it obviously was still a very difficult time for all of us.  September and most of October were, for the most part, what I’d describe as “lost months”.  We made several more trips to Joplin and we were dealing with a lot of heartache and emotional stress on top of trying to keep up with full-time work and maintain a normal daily life for us and for Katelyn. These were a couple of really hard months and I don’t have much else to say about them for now.

November 2018- We came out of the fog of September and October and began working feverishly toward our goal to “Launch” full-time before the end of the year.  Things had been happening very slowly for us for such a long time throughout the spring and summer.   November was when everything kicked into high-gear for us.  We were finally ready to take the leap and said “Let’s DO THIS!” The weather was already starting to turn and we had a lot of snowy and cold days. IMG_20181204_073438000_HDR We didn’t want to be in Missouri for another winter.  We were just ready to be done with everything at this point.  We worked hard to get the house cleaned out, took a full moving truck full of stuff to be auctioned off at a local consignment auction.  We dropped off countless truckloads full of donations and had a bunch of other stuff we put out for the garbage truck to pick up.  My last day of work was November 30th!

December 2018-  December was so eventful, it really needs a dedicated blog entry (or multiple).  To summarize briefly, we finally hitched up our RV, said our goodbyes and drove out of our driveway for the last time on 12/12/18.  IMG_20181212_145150781We spent time with our family and friends in Southwest Missouri for almost 3 weeks.  We took a whirlwind trip to Livingston, Texas to establish domicile and register our vehicles and become “official Texas residents” and we visited the Escapees RV club headquarters!  IMG_20181217_123805760Our house officially went on the market! Our beloved Ruthie dog passed away unexpectedly the day before we were scheduled to leave Missouri on our way out to Arizona.  We rolled out of Missouri late in the afternoon on 12/30/18, headed west. I was bauling my eyes out much of that day and also many days beyond.  We had Andrea’s ashes in the RV and Ruthie’s collar hanging from the Jeep rearview mirror.  (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)  IMG_20181230_163129830

January 2019- We arrived in Arizona on New Year’s Day and had an unexpected snow day in Bowie, Arizona- 4″ of snow in an area that rarely sees any! IMG_20190102_120256065 We had only planned to stay the night but given the forecast we took an extra day and sat still on 1/2 before we traveled on to the Phoenix area on 1/3.  We spent a few days in Congress, Arizona at the Escapees North Ranch RV park where we regrouped and rested and enjoyed some long-anticipated warm and sunny weather.  We met up with the full-time families boondockers anonymous branch north of Lake Havasu City, Arizona and spent our first nights camping without any hookups!  We had been there for around 36 hours when Bryan found out on Wednesday 1/9/19, his company (division) was closing and he was losing his job, effective February 15th.  To say it came as a shock is an understatement. More on that later. IMG_20190116_163930976_HDR 1/12-1/20/19 we attended an epic Xscapers Annual Bash at Lake Havasu.  It was so much fun!  We headed to Quartzsite after that for another full-time families hangout, but with all the things we had going on we just weren’t “feeling it”.  We connected with a few people but our hearts weren’t feeling it and the internet was too slow for Bryan to try to work so we headed on to Saddle Mountain BLM land in Tonopah, Arizona where we met up with a much smaller group of families and tried to regroup for awhile.  I loved our time there and will have a dedicated post on that at a later time.  IMG_20190125_180156157

February 2019-  We finished up our much-appreciated time at Saddle Mountain and headed to California to meet up with our Escapees Chapter 8 group for our Mexico Caravan!  We arrived in Potrero, California on 2/11/19 and spent several days preparing to RV in Mexico.  2/15/18, we drove across the border to Guadalupe, where we spent several days camping at a zoo!  We got the behind-the-scenes VIP treatment and had an amazing time.  This is largely a rescue zoo and a community park and deserves it’s own dedicated post later, it was such an awesome place!  Katelyn celebrated her 7th birthday here. IMG_20190217_152730799_HDR

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On 2/19 we traveled on to Ensenada to La Jolla Beach Camp and I saw the ocean again for the first time in 15 years.  I cried as I drove over the mountain and the Pacific Ocean came into view.  It was Katelyn’s first time ever to see the ocean.  Our campground was right on the beach! IMG_20190227_140656458

Even better, the beach has natural hot springs!  We had such a good time in Ensenada.  I celebrated my 40th birthday on the beach sitting in a natural sand hot tub on the beach. It was epic.

IMG_20190227_120130394 Katelyn and I both got horrible sunburns!!  OOPS.  Mexico sun in February is not something I’m used to. We went on a beautiful Jeep ride while we were there as well.FB_IMG_1554956454156

We decided to extend our trip and go further south to Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur to see the gray whales in the lagoon where they go to breed and birth their babies every spring.  We felt like we were already in Mexico, weren’t sure when we’d have the opportunity to be back again, and we needed to just go for it. Spoiler alert, it was SO WORTH IT! Bucket list for sure, seeing the whales was awesome beyond words. IMG_20190310_133620107-EFFECTS

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I started to continue on with March but I think I’ll stop here.  I look forward to going into a lot of this in more detail and also picking up our story again in March because there’s still a lot to cover!  Cheers to life!

 

58th Escapade Re-Cap

We celebrated a few milestones in May! Katelyn graduated from kindergarten and we attended her kindergarten celebration program on May 18th.

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Katelyn’s last day of kindergarten

Her last day of school was May 23rd and then she was on her way to Joplin to spend a few days with my mom, my aunts and Bryan’s dad. The following morning Bryan and I were on our way to our first outing with our RV, to the 58th Escapade– the Escapees RV club national rally in Sedalia, MO!

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Double rainbow our first evening of RVers’ Boot Camp

We attended RVers’ Boot Camp , an intensive 3-day course where we learned about all things RV-related including operation and maintenance of RV plumbing and electrical systems, propane safety, fire and life safety, RV batteries and solar power, safe driving techniques, RV loading and weight management, tire safety, staying connected on the road, full-time living and traveling in an RV, and more. We learned so much and met a lot of people! Saturday afternoon Katelyn joined us in Sedalia and we all spent the next week attending educational seminars, enjoying evening entertainment and socials, making new friends, and having a very busy and fun week at Escapade!

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Tuesday night dance party with Fulltime Families

It was great talking to people who have been where we are right now, trying to get rid of stuff and get out of the house. We got a lot of good advice and gained some confidence talking to so many people about their experiences. We met many Xscapers and Fulltime Families who have been full-time traveling for a year or less, along with several people who have been traveling for 7 or 8 years (or longer), and everything in between! We made some new friends and we’re looking forward to future meet-ups!

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‘X’ marks the way to the Thursday night Xscapers karaoke party (behind tornado shelter #4!)

A few key pieces of advice that resonated with me:

“Take all the time and all the room you need.” -Glyn Carson from RV driving school talking to the Boot Camp attendees during his safe driving session

“SLOW DOWN” – multiple people, referring to multiple situations, the general consensus was don’t be in such a big hurry! Mistakes get made and things get missed when we’re in a hurry.

“Just go!”- we won’t have it all figured out yet and that’s ok! We’ll learn along the way.

“I wish we had done it sooner”- we heard this from SO MANY people!

Also, everyone has at least one embarrassing story about the thing they ran into with the new RV, or the dumb mistake they made, or that incident with the black tank!

The last thing we did before heading home was SmartWeigh where we found out our weight per tire for the Excursion by itself, then for the Excursion and trailer hitched up together.

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SmartWeigh staff placing the scales to check our weight

The results are pretty much what we expected and we need to re-adjust our weight distributing hitch since we added some cargo to the trailer after the hitch was initially set up. We aren’t overweight (and the trailer actually weighs less than I expected it would) but we’re at the top of what the Excursion can reasonably handle, which we knew already. All things considered, we’re now thinking about getting a new (used) truck this summer. We have a lot to consider but we’re thinking now we’d rather sell the Excursion while it’s running fine and put that money toward a newer truck with better towing capacity. We have different needs now than when we bought the Excursion in 2010, back then we thought we needed something with room to haul kids and dogs and camping gear, and be able to tow a trailer with our off-road toys. Fast-forward 8 years and we have one child, 2 dogs, a Jeep and an RV! A truck would suit our needs better at this point. It’s a lot to consider on top of everything we need to be doing to get the house squared away, so I don’t know what we’ll decide to do for sure. It’s a little odd to be sitting here the first week of June, with a wide-open summer ahead of us and absolutely no concrete plans for travel or vacation- we have a lot of work to do now and hopefully within the next 3 months we’ll be headed out on our new adventure!

Moving Day

We’ve been busy since we brought our RV home in March! Spring was late to arrive this year and we saw freezing temperatures well into April. We finally caught a break and had nice weather for our “official” RV move-in day on April 28th!

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Moving day!

 

We’ve spent every night in the RV since then (except for a few nights when we were in Joplin) and we’re figuring out where things should go, what items we’d like to have- mostly storage and space-saving gadgets- and figured out a few things we don’t need. We’ve made a few modifications in Katelyn’s room, it’s coming along nicely and she loves it!

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Katelyn playing in her room

 

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Upper bunk removed, new curtains added

It’s exciting to look back to where we were a year ago, just beginning to realize we should pursue our travel dreams and starting a new blog, and now we’ve moved into our RV and the blog is a year old.  We’ve learned a lot in the past year!

Mother’s Day weekend we visited our families in Joplin and took Bob’s Jeep Grand Wagoneer back to him!

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Bob’s Grand Wagoneer is back home in Joplin

 

We also used that trip to transport a few boxes of things my mom is keeping for us at her house, mostly old photo albums, a few special books and some of Katelyn’s baby things we want to keep. I also took all the pictures off the walls in our house and it is shocking how much less it feels like “home” now with the walls bare! We’re still struggling to decide how to proceed with getting rid of stuff. We have a lot of furniture, small appliances, books, household items and odds and ends that need to be sold. We’ve tossed around the idea of hiring someone to do an estate auction or estate sale, vs. organizing our own moving sale and selling things on swap shop. Originally our goal was to get the house on the market in May, but we revised it to June and I really don’t want to push it back any further!

We Bought our RV!

It’s been a busy few weeks for us and we’ve been driving all over the state of Missouri! We have long been planning to make our RV purchase this March. We already knew we wanted the Highland Ridge 310 bunkhouse travel trailer. We wanted to find a nice used one and we checked RVTrader throughout the winter so we had a pretty good idea of what was out there- not much!! The few used 310s that came up were very far away and they also sold very quickly. Most newer used models were also priced nearly the same as the brand new models we were seeing. We saw several dealerships with new models but they all had an electric-only residential fridge. We wanted the traditional propane/electric RV fridge because we are planning to be spending most of our time camping without electric hookups, using our solar and lithium batteries. (Stay tuned for a future post about our solar and lithium plans!) The problem with a residential fridge is that it uses a lot of electricity and takes a lot of solar power and a big battery bank to run, whereas a propane fridge uses very little electricity and runs mostly on propane. We narrowed down our choices: continue searching for a used model or order a custom new built with our specified options.

In the middle of February we saw a 2018 Mesa Ridge 310 for sale in St. Louis that met our requirements, except it had the residential fridge. We were headed to Joplin that weekend to celebrate Katelyn’s 6thbirthday with our families so we couldn’t go look at it that weekend.

We all had the following Monday off for President’s Day so we headed to St. Louis that morning with a plan to look at the RV and then see what kind of deal we could get on ordering a custom one from the factory. Unfortunately it was pouring rain ALL day! We still looked at the RV and then we went in to talk to our salesman (Ray) about ordering one. We ended up being thrown for a loop- the production was already done on the 2018 models! The manufacturer wouldn’t be making any more until production started in the fall for the 2019 models. I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to us sooner, it is true the RV production season typically is the fall and winter months, then RV show season starts in the spring and runs through the fall. It hadn’t occurred to us that the window may have already closed for ordering a new one this spring. So we headed home and I got to work doing more research on the residential fridge. Armed with new information, the next day we decided to proceed with buying the RV we looked at! Then Ray called and told us his manager had talked with the factory rep and they were potentially going to do a short run of a few units for people who had put in late orders, if we wanted in on it we could order our custom RV and it would be delivered around the end of March. We thought about it for another day and decided to try to get a better price on the one on the lot, and then spend a little more on our solar and battery setup and in the end we’d have a more user-friendly fridge and we’d probably come out ahead on the money as well. So we made our offer and they accepted it! The crazy thing about that day- other than the knowledge we just made an offer and deposit on a brand new RV- was that it popped up in my newsfeed that 8 years ago was the day we bought our Excursion in Chicago! Quite a coincidence!

Saturday the 24th we all headed back to St. Louis (in the rain, AGAIN!) to sign tons of paperwork and take another look at our new home.

We were all very excited! Then Sunday we were on the road again, heading west this time to Kansas City for a combined birthday trip for Katelyn and me. We surprised her with a night at the Great Wolf Lodge and we all had a blast in the big indoor waterpark!

I made the reservations long before we realized we’d be buying an RV the same weekend! By the time we got home that afternoon we were all completely worn out from our fun 3-day weekend.

In true weekend warrior style we headed back to St. Louis the following Saturday for the 3rd time in 2 weeks, this time to do our lengthy inspection and walk-through (where a trained service person walks you through how every system in the RV works and teaches you every little thing about the inside and outside of your new RV!). This time we were lucky to have much nicer weather- sunny and in the 50s! Katelyn stayed with our friends for the day so we could focus on the walk-through without distractions. We had also arranged for the dealership to order and install a big weight distributing sway control hitch. We arrived at the dealership, found our walk-through guy (Tim) and handed over the Excursion keys so the shop could start our hitch installation. We spent the next 3 hours with Tim and ended up getting along really well and having a good time with him while he walked us through everything! I had planned to video the walk-through but in the end most things seemed pretty straight-forward and we didn’t feel we needed to video it. By the time we finished everything with Tim, the service technicians had finished the hitch installation and adjustment and we walked through the hitching and un-hitching procedure for our new hitch. Then it was time for pictures!

And then we were on our way! I joked that it didn’t feel quite as daunting as it felt the day we brought Katelyn home from the hospital, but maybe close! I drove the Jeep so I could follow Bryan and help navigate the St. Louis traffic and lane changes and watch how things looked from the back.

The trip home was pretty un-eventful and the sway control hitch did its job. Bryan said the trailer towed great. Backing it into our driveway was a bit of a challenge but I’m sure we’ll get better at it. We’re ahead of the game already using 2-way radios to communicate while I direct Bryan into place. I guess more accurately I should say I *try and fail miserably* to direct him into place without knowing what I’m doing or knowing what he needs to do- and when- in order to accomplish the task! We’ll get the hang of it eventually! That night we celebrated and spent some time in our new RV (and did a lot of “HOLY COW did we really do this??!!”).

We were all tired but excited and Katelyn was crazy from her fun day with friends. We were pretty happy when it was her bedtime so we could sit down and have some time to process everything!

They say “Go big or go home” and I guess we are REALLY serious about that because Sunday we decided to burn a small strip of grass near the railroad ties where we planned to park the RV. Bryan hosed down the perimeter but the fire was bigger than we expected (less kerosene next time?) and it got away and started burning the taller pasture grass. At that point we knew we were in trouble and Bryan kept trying to control things with our sad little garden hose while I went to call 911. Thankfully the fire was behind our house and heading away from it. Our rural fire district started showing up within about 10 minutes and they got the fire contained but not before it burned about half of our back pasture!

I guess now we don’t have to brush hog that part this spring! We’re looking ahead to some very busy months coming up as we work on transitioning out of our house into the RV and prepare to get our house on the market.

Launch 2018 is starting to take shape!

Regrets? I have one.

Happy New Year!  We are slowly working toward Launch 2018! We are now in touch with a realtor with the goal to get our house on the market in May.  I cleaned and purged the living room yesterday!  It’s pretty satisfying.  The bookshelves were the hard part, we kept some books for now that will eventually not make the cut.  3 boxes of books to go! We have a plan for the next month, preliminary purge and cleaning of a room every week.   We are still planning to buy our RV in March and we’re looking at buying new vs. used.  We’d rather buy used but our RV of choice is very hard to find!  We are considering ordering a custom new one.  Depends what is out there when March rolls around.  If we order new, custom, we probably won’t get delivery until May and that isn’t ideal.  We’ll see what happens, that is something we’re still working on.

This week our Colorado friends have had a roller coaster ride with their new kitten. He has worked his way into their hearts and is adorable!  His health has been a problem, but things are looking  promising as of right now.  It reminds me of the turning point in my life and my one true regret.  I had a Dalmation puppy for about a week, my junior year in high school.  He stole my heart within minutes and then after I brought him home he got sick.  Long story short, I had to make the decision to put him down when the vet said he didn’t have a good prognosis, after he had spent days at the clinic.  I still wonder if I did the right thing, it felt a little bit like giving up on him but it was also not putting him through any more suffering when it was likely he wouldn’t make it.  I don’t know if he would have pulled through, but the gist of it is, that is what made me decide not to pursue Vet school.  I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was in elementary school. Before that, I wanted to be a “whale trainer”, I wanted to work at an aquarium.  Much later in life I realized I didn’t really agree with whales in captivity but that’s another story.  I wanted to be a whale trainer and then I wanted to be a marine biologist, when I found out that’s what “whale trainers” usually are first.  Then I wanted to be a Veterinarian.  I’ve had pets and loved animals since before I can even remember.  I had the grades and the means to pursue vet school.  That dang Dalmation broke my heart and  convinced me I was too soft-hearted, that no matter how many animals I could help I would always agonize over the ones I couldn’t save.  I very much regret that decision now.  After I decided not to pursue vet school I wasn’t sure what to do and I just drifted and I don’t think I ever really figured out what I wanted to do.  So here I am.  I don’t know how my life might be different now if I had chosen that path and gone to vet school and become a veterinarian.  That’s a tricky mind game to play.  I’m very happily married to my best friend and we have the most amazing little girl.  Hard to say if that would have happened if I had chosen vet school.  I am blessed to have a good job but honestly,  it bores me.  Total honesty.  I could be doing so much more.  I’m over that, though, and happy with what I have done in my life.  I’ve certainly made my share of bad decisions in my nearly 39 years but I regret none of them, they were learning experiences.  It’s life.  So my one true regret is the thing I didn’t do.  Going forward, I want to embrace our plans for a life of travel and I won’t regret it for a minute.  If we decided not to pursue that, I think that would end up being another regret.  We have been given an opportunity that most people don’t get until later in life (travel in retirement!) and I don’t want to squander that opportunity.  Deep down, it’s been a dream of mine- of ours, for years and years.  I’m so excited to make it a reality!

Farewell, 2017

2017, what a year it’s been! I can honestly say we’ve been blessed with a good year. I hope 2018 will be good to us too. I started my new job in January and it was a lateral move but it’s been far less stress than my previous jobs so I think it was a good move. Bryan Reid got his work- from- home job in May! We hatched our crazy plan to start traveling in 2018! Looking forward to making that dream come true next year and Bryan’s new job is what makes it a possibility for us, we always talked about it but never really imagined it would be possible anytime soon or before we retire. I started this blog, I need to write more next year! I got into photography and looking forward to learning more and honing my skills next year. The bad part of the year was making the decision to let my lovely old horse go in May. She struggled through the winter and I couldn’t see putting her through the heat and bugs during the summer. She was 32 and her health and quality of life was declining rapidly. It was the worst decision on I’ve had to make in a long time. I’m thankful she lived a good long life! I’m thankful that was the hardest part of this year for me and the rest was pretty good. I loved our vacation in July and enjoyed taking my Jeep out on some (mild) mountain trails in southwest Colorado. I had good times with extended family and friends and good times with Bryan and Katelyn and that’s all I really want in life! Traveling would be great too.

The holding pattern

Hello!  This blog update is overdue.  Nothing much new going on, we have endless purging and cleaning we need to do.  I’m not making a lot of progress.  I hate to throw things away but it’s difficult trying to meet people to piecemeal things for very little money.  We aren’t ready for a garage sale yet and then I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle. We are in a holding pattern right now, moving some money and stuff around and waiting on those things to go through.  After the first of next year, we will be on the hunt for our ideal RV.  We know what we want, Open Range 308 or 310 bunkhouse.  We need to find a good used one.  We’re expecting a road trip to get what we want!  We have a track record of finding exactly what we want and traveling, we went to Indiana to buy my Firebird in 2002, midwest Kansas to buy the Grand Waggoneer in 2003, Nebraska to buy our Explorer in 2005,  Chicago to buy our Excursion in 2010, central Iowa for the Bonneville in 2012.  Finally bought our lovely Mazda6 in Columbia in 2016!  And my Jeep nearby in St. Louis last Halloween.  So, we’re used to traveling to buy what we want.  Once we have the RV back here we’ll start moving in and trying it out and that’s when I expect things to shift into “move out” mode.  Then it will be more real and I can see us making faster progress with everything.

August 1st 2018

We have a launch date!  We are aiming for 8/1/18!  If we can go sooner that would be wonderful!  But that is our target date.  In some ways it seems like there is so much to do and it will be here before we know it.  In other ways it seems like an eternity.  We would love to go now!  We are planning to buy our travel trailer early next year, preferably in March.  Then we will start moving things into the trailer and work on finalizing the house clean-up and some minor renovations (bathroom upgrade, paint inside, maybe pull carpet and refinish the hardwood).  Then put the house on the market in April. We want Katelyn to finish the school year.  Beyond that it all depends on the house selling.

I’m having a hard time working on purging things in the meantime.  I think once the spare room is cleaned out more it will get easier because we’ll have a place to put things, a staging area of sorts.  We can haul stuff off to be donated or trashed but we need a spot for bigger items we want to sell in a rummage sale, very few things to keep in storage with family, and that’s it. Anything we are bringing along we are using now already so not much to be done there, yet.  This has turned into something I’m thinking about every single day.  We both are.  Every day I research something new and I can’t believe the amount of information I’ve absorbed in the last 6 months!  The more we read and learn about others doing this, the more we solidify our plans for what we want to do.  I absolutely love that part!  We are so very excited.  We’ve been talking to Katelyn about it on a regular basis, getting her ready.  I know she doesn’t totally comprehend it all.  But she is excited too.  She knows she can’t take everything but we’re going to be lenient, she probably will take most of her stuffed animals and a fair amount of toys.  She knows she won’t be in regular school but she will be with us and meeting new friends and seeing new places.  She knows she will be able to decorate her room and have her own space like she does now, our pets are coming along, and so is our Sunny Jeep!  She was really concerned a few weeks ago about the Jeep and how we’d bring it with us.  I just can’t put into words how excited we all are about leaving in an RV next year.  It’s definitely not for everyone!  I know it will be challenging!  I have no illusions there.  Well, maybe a few.  I know it won’t be like an endless vacation.  I know we’ll meet challenges but I’m confident we’ll handle them.  We always do!  We aren’t jumping in blind, head-first.  Although in a way it seems like jumping off a bridge into the unknown.  But we’re not.  We’re planning a safety net and we’re gathering every bit of knowledge we can from people who are already doing this.

We have family and friends supporting us, and a few people who think we’re nuts (we always have been, a little so that isn’t anything new!) The most common theme so far is, “You have to have a place to come back to” (Bryan’s dad) and “You aren’t going to do this forever so you need to keep lots of things for later” (my mom).  They are our parents and only trying to look out for us so I can’t blame them.  The reality is, I have a gut feeling this will be a long-term undertaking.  This is something we have both wanted for so long but never thought we could do before we retired.  There are many others doing this, many who thought they would do it for a year and a year turned into ten.  I have a strong suspicion we will get into it and have no end in sight.  I may be wrong.  If I’m wrong, then we are already primed to move to another long-term place by embarking on this journey.  Katelyn is still at the front of my mind in this, too.  If she wants a more “normal” life and traditional school and a stationary place to be, we will consider that going forward.  I recently read a very heart-wrenching blog about that, I wish I could link it but I can’t remember the source.  But the gist was, both adults loved the nomad lifestyle but their sons got older and wanted a traditional junior high and high school experience so they left the road and settled back down.  Neither parents wanted to do it and they struggled.  Not the best story but they did it for their kids. Hoping we won’t be in that boat but we very well may be.  In the meantime though, we have some years to figure that out!  There are many more full-time family travelers with kids who completed high school on the road and went on to college and adult lives.  That is so far in the future I’m not going to think too much about it right now.  My mind works overtime and I think that is why I’m not satisfied with my current job.  I’m not denying it’s a great job!  It really is. It’s just not for me.  After living the traditional life, it isn’t for us.  I know that sounds very privileged, and it is!  But I’m ready to spend more time as a family and explore places and I want a life of experiences rather than material things.  And that is what it all boils down to.  Life is just too short to not live your dream!

Finding new resources

Last week I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering how we would be able to pull everything together. There are so many things to figure out and even more we need to do. It’s been just about 5 months since we started seriously discussing our “pipe dream”. Since then we’ve changed our core plan and moved up our launch date by a year!

Last Saturday we went to our first RV show in St. Louis! It was so hot out in the sun on the asphalt all afternoon, the RVs were parked close together so the shade I’d imagined having under the awnings wasn’t available-hardly any of the awnings were set up. The highlight of the trip was the first RV we toured, it was already our favorite after our online research. It was a Highland Ridge bunkhouse hopefully our soon-to- be next home! It has some very nice construction and design features including better insulation than most RVs. The floor plan is great for us! It also has lots of storage. It looked good online but seeing it in person was awesome! The quality of the construction was apparent, especially compared to some others we looked at. I walked inside and immediately loved it. We all loved it! I wish we could have bought it! But we are looking to buy a used one early next year so that’s where our focus is shifting now. This model hasn’t changed much over the last few years so we’re hopeful we can locate a nice used one even if it means a road trip.

I’ve been feeling anxious about Katelyn’s road schooling and I was really excited to find Timberdoodle. They have a lot of resources! I looked at the first grade curriculum package and I really liked all of the items. They will let you customize the kits too, so I can add or delete things or make substitutions, which is nice! I especially like the handbook and schedule planners that come with the curriculum kits. I’ll be researching more but so far I really like this and it’s a strong contender. I know lots of people are successful at creating their own curriculum but I’m new to this and I like the idea of having a complete kit to work with. There will be plenty of supplemental and real-world education and experiences we’ll provide on our own but I want to make sure we cover the basics too! There is so much to learn! I think a good foundation is really important for Katelyn’s education. The materials in the Timberdoodle pack are also widely available elsewhere and the majority of the reviews are good. I was feeling anxious but after looking at this, I’m feeling really excited about teaching Katelyn!

The last neat thing I have to share right now is Campendium! This is fairly new but in a nutshell it is a directory of camping spots nationwide, searchable with filters, that provides reviews, photos, directions, prices, and even cell phone connectivity strength (which is a huge priority for us because we will be living this lifestyle full-time and our livelihood depends on dependable internet access). It includes tons of options for free dry camping on public land (aka “Boondocking”) which is what we plan to do the majority of the time. Our goal is NOT to move out of our country house and into a life of perpetual RV parks! We want to spend most of our time in the great wide open out in nature! We’ll be posting more about how we’ll be doing that in upcoming blogs-in particular how we plan to use solar power to meet our RV energy needs!

Cold feet and statistics

I’ve been researching so many travel trailer manufacturers, looking at construction and quality and my brain is over-loaded.  We have so many things to consider.  Going full-time, we are looking at the best quality we can afford.  The specs are overwhelming.  Yikes!  What do we need??

Katelyn.  How can we possibly give her the education and socialization she needs if we are full-time RVing and planning to boondock most of the time?  I’m looking at solid curriculum for math and reading and not that worried about the rest, for now.  She is already socially gifted.  I think she gets that from my dad.  He never knew a stranger and she doesn’t either!!  But she is only five so I feel a fierce need to protect her and monitor any interactions she has with adults.  I worry about her not making close friends she will see and interact with over a long period of time.  That said, I moved twice when I was young and it was difficult. I have very few friends I’ve maintained since elementary school.   There is something to be said for making friends and moving on and some of my best friends now are long-distance ones we maybe see once a year.  It’s on my mind though.  I want Katelyn to have meaningful relationships with other kids.

What happens if we get on the road and hate it?  How do we go back?  That’s pretty simple.  We just settle down somewhere.  Easier said than done but we’d be in the prime situation to do it.  Where??  Every place we love we can’t really afford right now.  Part of the draw for RV living.  Besides the fact we don’t want to live in an apartment and we love our space.  But we hate the property maintenance and upkeep.  And I love the freedom traveling will give us.  I’ve said many times I’d be happy living in a tent on the beach.  That isn’t exactly accurate though, I wouldn’t like that long-term.  But an RV is the happy medium between the traditional “sticks and bricks” house and tent living.

Cold feet?  I think we’re insane to consider this. Have I mentioned our two huge dogs we will be bringing along??  What are we doing?  But I get tears in my eyes when we leave the west to drive home after vacation.  I get tears when I think about leaving here, in our RV, to explore the great wide open.  I get tears thinking about how fast my daughter is growing up, mostly with me not being present because I’m working.  I spend painfully little time with her.  At the same time, I don’t think I would be happy being a stay at home mom.  I crave more than that.  I would probably go insane doing that.  But travel schooling, I could do that.  I very deeply believe this is the path we need to take, all things considered.   It feels  kind of like we are going to jump off a bridge!  But it also feels like the right thing for us. This is so US.  Travel and adventure.  I’m looking forward to getting on the road.