One year ago today, Kate and I closed up our house in Eugene, handed keys over to our property manager, joined a temporary caravan of two other friends with RVs, and headed south. Beyond the initial six weeks, we had no reservations, no agenda, no firm plans other than hopes to see fall color in New England and winter somewhere warm. Here we were with a year of freedom, a beautiful new traveling home, and a savings account that we hoped would make it through our return. The world was our oyster.
When our property manager found an ideal renter who wanted the house through the school year, we agreed with little reluctance. Four extra months of adventure. We’d just have to tighten our belts a bit to stretch the savings.
I’m glad for that extension, because we’re not quite ready to call it quits. We’re in New Orleans today, enjoying 75 degree sunshine, and there are still six states (of the lower 48) that we haven’t been to. We’ll make our way slowly back through those states (Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada) when the weather warms up. In the meantime, today is a perfect time to reflect on our year and look ahead.
Has it been worth it?
Oh, hell yeah. Of course. Some people thought we were crazy to do this at first. Leaving careers right before retirement age. Risking unemployment on our return, meager twilight years working as greeters at Walmart. Many thought it was all talk. That when it came down to clearing out our overstuffed home and fitting our lives into a house on wheels, we’d find excuses to carry on with our steady, if stressful, jobs a few more years. But when we actually pulled it off, I think we had the full support of everyone around us (and the envy of many).
There hasn’t been a single day of regret. Other than wishing we’d brought more of this and less of that, or wishing we’d planned longer at a spot we loved. And on a stuck-inside day, stepping over pets and bumping into each other, missing the luxury of space and couches.
Of course, until we return home and face the job market, we won’t really know what we’ve paid for this adventure. But I have confidence we’ll be able to find a way to pay the mortgage and carry on. And if not… well, we’ve learned something this year about adaptability and priorities. We have each other, our family, our friends, and a new come-what-may attitude.
We’ve seen so many beautiful places this year, from the Grand Canyon to Cape Breton. Some we’d seen before. Other places were completely new to us. I’ve added a page to the blog that lists some of our favorites: Highlights.
Peak moments for me include driving across New Brunswick through a sea of fiery fall color, sailing on a catamaran in the Keys, riding in an Amish buggy in Pennsylvania, watching a cranberry harvest in Cape Cod, canoeing in the Adirondacks, riding bikes on Mackinac Island, and sloshing through the Narrows in Zion with our good friends from Eugene. And, oh yes, finding a two-day old kitten in the undercarriage of a vacated RV and bottle-raising her into a beautiful cat.
Low points would be walking up the rim of the Grand Canyon minutes after a young man fell to his death, spending two hours huddled in a mildewed campground shower with six others hiding from a tornado, cracking our windshield in Pennsylvania, seeing dentists in four states and spending over $1,200 before finally getting my bad tooth pulled, idling for days in Lake City, Florida getting RV repairs done. Relatively minor compared to all the good stuff.
An unexpected plus for both of us has been all of the wonderful people connections we’ve made. We’ve hooked up with several Eugene friends on out-of-state vacations, visited old friends across the country, and spent lots of time with extended family, both mine and Kate’s. Not to mention all the great new friends we’ve made, and the brief interactions with people that lift our spirits along with way. As much as we love being just the two of us, it’s other people that have really made this year stand out.
We plan to return to Eugene in mid-June, in time to be there for a friend’s baby’s birth. We’ll camp in the driveway of other friends until we can get back in our house on July 1st. With reserves running low, we’ll be looking for jobs then. Although Kate would love to be a fulltime nanny for our friends, and I’d love to write a book about our experiences, for practical purposes, Kate will probably return to social work, and me to technical writing and web design.
We will have to say goodbye to Bessie. Hard as it will be to part with our transitory home, it makes no sense to continue making payments on an RV we would only use occasionally. So we will take down the prayer flags and original artwork, remove all the kitten-proofing protection we’ve added, and give her one last spit-shine. We got her for such a good price, and this model is in high demand, so if we’re lucky, we’ll recoup a good part of our investment.
But from now to then, we’ve got three and a half more months to fill with fun and adventure. So on we go!