Baby Steps (posted by Bryan)

It has been a busy few months for us as usual.  Evidently since this is my first post on the blog!

Baby steps…getting towards something with initial small steps.  We’re working on that.  I’ve now had two occasions where I’ve gotten a taste of working on the road.  The first was in July during our vacation in Colorado.  Since I just started my new job in May (which is going to allow us to start traveling full-time!) I didn’t have enough vacation time for the entire trip.  I had to work one day.  Between wifi and my phone (AT&T) I figured I’d have enough connectivity to get my work done.

I was wrong.

I started to panic almost because, although I was connected, the download speed wasn’t fast enough for me to work.  I’ve found I need a 3.5 Mbps down minimum.  Thankfully one of our friends offered his phone (which was on Verizon) which had a better connection that allowed me to get my work done.  Lesson one learned.  I started researching more about mobile internet.

I spent the last week in Joplin visiting family and, since I was in a city, thought I would be fine.

Wrong again.

At least this time I could work from my mother-in-law’s house.  She had a 5 Mbps connection.  Even though there was an AT&T tower about 3 miles away I was in a valley and was only getting about 1-2 Mbps down.  I’d hoped to be able to work from my dad’s house next door since I knew I’d be up late but that wasn’t going to be.

I went to Joplin for family reasons–so our daughter could spend time with her grandparents and part of an afternoon and another day with my dad, aunt, uncle, and my aunt’s granddaughter who is a year younger than our daughter.  They always have a good time together.  I also took my mom from the nursing home to get her hair done and out to lunch for her birthday.  BethAnn came down Thursday night and on Friday we went to Arkansas to visit friends.  There I had zero signal.  I was done working by Friday afternoon, though.  We all got home Sunday and now today is Katelyn’s first day of kindergarten!

At first I didn’t think last week would be possible until I realized, “Wait, I can work anywhere I have decent internet!”  I had to work because I used all of my time off for our vacation.  Now I have really researched mobile internet and am gathering my shopping list.  Thankfully a lot of full-time travelers have done the homework on it already and I am grateful for it.  So, I’m working on changing my mindset.

The next step will be finishing the repairs on our Ford Excursion.  It’s almost done.  Then we can start taking bigger steps of getting rid of things we don’t need.

The debt of “stuff”

I’ve been in a funk today, I blame the dreary weather and post-vacation blues.  Thinking a lot about what it’s going to take to downsize.  I just don’t know what to do with all the stuff!  I’m thinking we’ll clear out the few things that have real sentimental value, one thing that comes to mind is our huge painting that was in Bryan’s grandparents’ house.  It’s been gorgeous hanging on the living room wall. It will go back to Joplin with Bryan’s dad.  I want to have a very small collection of those things though because sooner or later we’ll be dealing with them again.  I don’t want a storage unit.   There are some things we’ll need to keep and will be useful on the road.  Some tools, Katelyn’s favorite toys, some kitchen stuff, personal items we’ll move into our RV.  After that we still have lots of nice things that are meaningful, but we can’t keep them. We’ll pass them out to family if they want them and after that I’d like to have an open house and invite all our friends, for a free walk through.  Take what you want! I’d like it if some nice things went to friends.   Then a rummage sale with plenty of free stuff or box deals.  And after that donate or trash the rest.  The less stuff I have to physically remove from the house myself, the better.  I cleared out a lot when we moved to our house but that was 8+ years ago!  We’ve since had a child and accumulated a ton of stuff. It’s definitely overwhelming.  We have not purged much in those 8 years.  This is what “the debt of stuff” means.  At some point you have to deal with all of the stuff you have accumulated.  We’d still be doing this even moving to a different house.  Moving into a much smaller space makes it harder though.  I find it interesting that at this point I’m more stressed out about the process of downsizing than I am about getting rid of my stuff.  I’m not worried I’ll miss it.  I won’t.  I just don’t know what to do with it!  I want a simpler life with more experiences and less things.  I know there will be things that will be harder to part with but I’m ok with it, I want to explore.  We’ve been in Missouri too long!  I cried again this year on our way home from vacation out west.  8 hours driving East through Kansas gives you lots of time to think.  I’m so ready to move on but we have to downsize before we can move on. That is the hard part.

New perspectives

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At the top of Yankee Boy Basin in Ouray, Colorado- July 2017

 

We just spent a wonderful week on vacation in Southwest Colorado.  It wasn’t long enough!  We weren’t ready for the journey to end, but it gave us a new perspective and renewed energy to pursue “Launch 2019”. In fact, we are now working on a new idea to hit the road in 2018!  It brings me to a phrase I’ve thought about often over the last few weeks.  “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”  In other words, we could wait until everything is ideal before we hit the road, but what if we decided to try “good enough” and get out of suburbia sooner?  Sounds good to us.

We’ve been doing research and reading about other people who are also hitting the road to travel and work and explore and live full-time in an RV.  We decided the best thing would be to buy a truck and a fifth-wheel bunkhouse camper.  All of that is a lot of money and we’d be incurring some new debt which isn’t what we really want to do.  So, we’ve revised the plan, we are going to keep our Excursion for now.  We’re in the midst of upgrading the known Achilles Heel parts of the 6.0 diesel engine.  We’re going to find  a bunkhouse travel trailer, in good used condition.  We’re planning to do some necessary upgrades and work on the house before we put it on the market next spring, but we aren’t planning to sink a whole lot of time and money into it to sell it. Hopefully.  The new plan, along with moving some money around means that we could realistically be ready to go a year from now.  The biggest variable is how long it takes to sell our house and how much we sell it for.

Back to the topic of vacation.  How much stuff do we really need?  We crammed the Jeep full of camping gear, clothing and food and had everything we needed to live comfortably for a week.

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Packed to the brim with supplies for tent-camping in Colorado!

We all agreed we would have been happy to continue like that for much longer than a week, but real life, our house and my job dictated our adventure had to end.  I didn’t miss any of our “stuff” back home.  I enjoyed our time in the mountains.  Rain and all.  We came home to humidity and bugs.  Lawn that needs to be mowed, a garden tractor to fix (again) before we can mow, two big trees to cut up, a refrigerator dying a slow death, and the list goes on.  First priority is getting the Excursion back together again, then we can work on the rest and also use the trailer to get rid of more stuff we don’t need.

 

I realize I have been paralyzed by the amount of work to be done and often end up accomplishing nothing.  Again, letting “perfect” be the enemy of “good”.  Maybe I can’t clean out the entire garage in a day but I can clean off one big shelving unit!  Which I did today, and I feel pretty good about that.  I haven’t kept up with this blog because I feel like I need to have a great topic to write about and I need to have the perfect structure and flow.  It turns into a chore because I need to try to make it perfect, and then in the end I don’t write anything.  What if I just write something imperfect and let it be good enough?  I’ll get better at this as I go along!  One little step at a time.

 

 

Life is all about changes

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this week at the Reid house.  We had to say goodbye to Rosy, our 32 year old horse on Wednesday.  I’ve had her since she was 5 and I was 11, so it was a sad day.  She held her own through the winter but has been increasingly sore from severe arthritis the last few weeks.  Despite daily medication, she was getting worse and earlier this week she was barely walking.  It was a really hard decision to make but we had the vet out and she agreed there were a lot of issues (severe arthritis, worn teeth, a significant heart murmur, a tumor) and she was at the point her quality of life wasn’t what I wanted her to have.  It’s the hardest decision a horse owner (or any pet owner) has to make.  I’ve been dreading having to make the decision for awhile now, and I can honestly say that the anxiety leading up to it making arrangements for burial and getting through the whole process with the vet are the worst parts.  I’m still sad but I feel relieved she isn’t hurting anymore, I’m not worrying about her anymore or going through the process of trying to make the hard decision and second-guessing myself. I’m definitely more at peace than I felt a week ago.

The other big (thankfully very good) thing that happened this week: a huge piece of the plan for Launch 2019 finally fell into place. Bryan accepted a full-time job with the company he’s been working for doing PRN ambulatory EEG setups. His new position is 100% working from home or wherever he has internet access and it comes with a decent pay raise. He now has a job that can be mobile! He’s been at his current job for over 6 years.  He’s excited about the change but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that this is happening!  We’ve already been researching ways to stay connected while we are out and about on our journey.  We have plenty of options but the plan most people go with is a good signal booster for the RV and a mobile wireless internet plan.  Internet access will probably be one of the few expenses that we’ll see increase rather than decrease while we’re on the road.  It’s one of the many things we will be learning about.

I’ve been brainstorming about my plans as well and have a few ideas.  Jewelry and photography are high on my list.  I’ll also be doing most of Katelyn’s road schooling. And any routine stuff like grocery shopping and meal prep and laundry.  Bryan will be working remotely so I’ll take care of most of the daily chores.  Our goal is to have flexibility to enjoy things as a family, while  Bryan still needs to put in work time.  We are so much loving this plan.  We have no illusions, it will be hard in many ways. But it will also be great!  

The Pipe Dream

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain (or not… Author unknown)

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Katelyn enjoying the mountains near Silverton, Colorado.  July 2014.

We want to sell most of our stuff, buy a truck and a fifth-wheel RV and travel the country. Crazy? Maybe a little, but we love the idea and our goal is Launch 2019! Update: We  launched on 12/12/2018! We pulled away from our house in mid-Missouri for the last time and spent almost 3 weeks visiting family and friends in southwest Missouri.  We finally left Missouri and headed west to begin our adventures on 12/30/2018. 

Why? We’ve talked about it before, maybe when we retire we’ll buy an RV and travel the country! That sounds so amazing. So *US*. We’ve been on some big road trips in the past and spent countless nights camping all over the place and every time, neither of us has been ready for it to end when it was time to go home. Meanwhile, retirement is probably at least 25 years away.  Hopefully we’ll be in good health and have the good fortune to follow our dream after we retire. Does anyone think THAT sounds crazy? I do. I don’t want to wait! I want to enjoy my time now. I want to enjoy my family and enjoy my little girl who is already growing up fast.

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Ouray, Colorado.  One of our favorite places for an “altitude adjustment”.

I have a good job but I certainly don’t love it. I can’t see myself doing this for 25 more years. What will I do? I don’t know, I’m still figuring that out. In the meantime we all wake up too early, Bryan and I commute to work, put in our 8-4:30, commute home. Try to keep up with the perpetual mess our house seems to turn into, the yard work and all of the things that seem to constantly need to be done, things that need to be fixed, etc. There isn’t enough time in the day. By the time we all get home it’s time for dinner, Katelyn plays a little (or watches TV because sometimes we just need a break) then it’s bath and bedtime so we can wake up early and do it all again. Weekends are mostly devoted to keeping up with our “stuff” and a little fun on the side if the weather is nice. Sometimes we go out of town and then it’s a game of trying to catch up everything we neglected to do around the house because we took a weekend away. Vacation is the best. When the stars align and we are able to go, we take a week and head west in July. The mountains are our home for a few painfully short days. We call it our “altitude adjustment”. Then it’s back to the grind until next year. Is there any worse feeling than the day you return to work after a vacation? I know there are some people who are ready to get back. I’m not one of those people!

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Turquoise Lake in Leadville, Colorado for our tenth anniversary.  July 2016.

What if we could sell almost everything, move into an RV and travel? We’d still have stuff to maintain, RVs require plenty of maintenance and so do vehicles. But we’d have LESS stuff.   We wouldn’t have a commute or the “daily grind”. We could determine what schedule we want to set for the day. We wouldn’t have to worry about limited vacation time or whether we would be able to get time off to visit family for the holidays. We’d work from home and our home would have wheels. We would call a new place “home” every few weeks. If we found an area we loved, we could stay for awhile.  If we ended up in a place we didn’t like, we could go someplace else. There are people who do this! Lots of people, it turns out.  Google “nomadic” or “full-time RVing”

There is so much to learn about and do before this can happen.  Some things we are currently working on are purging all the “stuff” we’ve managed to accumulate, saving money and reducing debt. We’ve started researching everything we can think of that we need to know about. We have a lot to do and we’ve set 2019 as our goal because we think 2 years is a realistic amount of time for us to be successful.

What do you think of our plan?  Would you consider doing something similar?