RSS

Turning Around

Having spent a fun-filled month with the Travaglinos of Fulltime Family fame, we headed on with our original plans to go east and up the coast. Occasionally we have dates to contend with- meet-ups with family or friends, scheduled events, etc. that loosely tailor our overall plans. We have a couple of those coming up- meeting up with Chris’ parents in Hilton Head, SC at the end of April (yay!) and the beginning of our seasonal site in NH on May 15th. Everything else is up for grabs.

So we begin to head leisurely in the direction of east. I am feeling the need again for some natural beauty and peaceful isolation so we head to a Corps of Engineers campground (aka- peaceful isolation) on the Florida/Georgia border. A few hours’ drive and the best spot in the campground happened to open up just as we were pulling in. It was available for two nights only (we were thinking 3-4) but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Done- corner spot on the lake with a pair of Canadian geese as neighbors.

Camera Roll-28

After setting everything up in our beautiful new yard, we find the Verizon data signal is abysmal and drum roll… that night our fridge dies. The data signal is so bad it takes Chris most of the night to troubleshoot the fridge issue. By morning he’s narrowed it down to the cooling whatcha-hoozie which is about $1,000 to replace. What the what?! He’s been saying all along that a residential fridge will be the successor when this one dies. At about $500 for a whole new residential fridge, we decide to go that route. But there’s the matter of putting it in… There was door frame measuring, current fridge measuring, comparing online measurements of new fridges and several calls to his buddy Chris Travaglino. They decide they can put it in together.

With my ice box (box with ice in it trying to keep my frozen meat frozen) in tow, we turn around and head back to Alabama for some more time with friends and a new fridge.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Alabama, Florida, RV, Travel log

 

Tags: , , , ,

Year 2 in Review (the 2nd six months)

Well, with all of this Alabama fun tossed with some cold germs, not much work on the year 2 slideshow has been had. The addition of a DSLR camera during our first year on the road yielded amazing photo memories of our travels and the kids’ growing years. However, the ability to snap six shots in as many seconds multiplies the work of choosing photos for said slideshow. It’s also a very emotional tumultuous process as I relive experiences and feel the presence of the family and friends with whom we shared them.

Anywho- here’s the map of the second six months of our second year! Yes, it’s just too much to even put on one map.

Click here to view the map in a browser and check out the highlights of our stops along the way.

Camera Roll-232

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2013 in RV, Travel log

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Year 2 in Review (the first 6 months)

We started on the road mid-summer of 2010. We can’t actually remember the exact date! There was estate sale-ing and house closing and veg oil system installing and it really made our exact launch date a little muddy. But we don’t mind. Half the time Chris and I forget our anniversary until someone needs a calendar that day and it triggers the memory. So we mark our years on the road roughly by starting at the end of summer (when we originally left Texas after all the afore mentioned horsing around) and going until the following.

Why do we mark at all? We found after our first year on the road that it was pretty freakin’ fabulous to look at our map and a quick slideshow of the year to see where we’d been. We visit more places and do more things in a year than we ever thought we’d do (than most people visit/do) in a lifetime!

Have you seen our brief (we have an extended version as well but it’s LONG) highlight video of our first year?

I’m working currently on the video for the second year so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s a map of the first six months of our second year. Yup- just six months. And we never felt rushed.

Click here to view the map in a browser. You can click on the stops to see our highlights!

photo (3)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2013 in RV, Travel log

 

Tags: , , ,

Image

Alabama Caravan

After 3 months in Orlando, we were itching to get out of the city and explore someplace new. Too early (read: too cold) to head north, too expensive ($1100+ per month?!) to head to the gulf of Florida, and still packed solid with no space for us (where we’d want to stay) on the east coast of Florida, we had the opportunity to join friends in a legitimate RV caravan to the gulf coast of Alabama!

While waiting for the other families, we headed out of our monthly spot in Orlando up to Juniper Springs Campground in Ocala National Forest for some much needed quiet time in the forest. Three nights later, we all headed out of our respective spots and met up on the highway. So fun!

We’ve heard the praises for southern Alabama from many people in our travels this past year. Maybe we’d heard them before but we weren’t listening… Alabama? Two and a half years on the road has stripped us of most of our state-prejudice as we’ve realized the beauty in every single place we’ve been. So here we are at a (so far) fabulous RV resort on the Alabama shore for the next month with friends! I have to go. The hot tub is calling.

The picture is we three families at a rest stop in the panhandle of Florida. The Clan of Parents rig is in the middle. :)

All Imported-477

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Alabama, RV, Travel log

 

Tags: , , , ,

Meet my Fulltime Family

These winter months that have been so brutal with cold and snow (even in Tucson where we spent last winter in balmy, sunshiney weather!) in most of the other states, we have created safe haven in the sun in Orlando, Florida. Chris’ grandparents winter down here as well and we found a great KOA (Fort Summit) just down the road from them. We were eager to spend more time with them this year, having fond memories of early 2011 that we spent here with them) and help out as much as possible given that their 8th decade of life is slowing them down a bit.

Our time with them is priceless and the kids squeal when we can add their Great Grammy and Great Grampa to our adventures. We’ve even had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Chris’ Great Great Aunt Lucy, now 97, who was the most gracious hostess and regaled us with stories of her extensive camping and travel adventures “many years ago” with her late husband, Don. I took notes on routes and campgrounds about which she still recalls every detail. She and her son (a former school teacher) could not express enough times how excited, pleased, and proud they are that we have chosen this way of life and how wonderful they feel it is for our children. We happen to agree but it’s always good to hear.

When we started on the road 2 1/2 years ago, we thought mostly about places we wanted to visit. It became clear to us all early on that this travel life has been made rich and soulful mostly by the people we visit and meet along the way. The faces, as we travel, can change quite frequently but almost all are friendly, inviting, and interesting. I joke that my 20 minute morning dog walk can take an hour if I don’t get up early enough. Travelers are a friendly bunch.

But there is a part of us all that needs consistency and support… understanding and unconditional acceptance. This life is not always easy with new rig issues popping up, questions on travel logistics, not having families right nearby who understand what it means to live this way first hand. I tire sometimes of being “the RVing family.” It’s not who we are. Living a traveling life does not define us. It is so interesting to most people, though, that it can be the only thing I talk about in conversation as the curious questions just keep rolling. I overheard Sadie at a public playground one day with a peer. “Where do you live?” said the girl. “Let’s not get into it. Let’s just go play,” Sadie said. When asked about it later, Sadie expressed that she knows that kids find her living in a motorhome so fantastic and interesting that she ends up answering all kinds of questions and misses out on playtime.

We get support from our families and friends who, after 2 1/2 years no longer think we’re crazy or have resigned themselves to it. This year, though, we’ve added a new family to our lives- the Fulltime Family. Shortly after we went on the road, still fresh with questions and looking to find our traveling groove, I became aware of a website then a Facebook group founded by and for Fulltime Families. I referenced the site and lurked on the group for a long while. It was a place where I could go to search questions but also to be comforted that, although I couldn’t see them next door, there were many other families out there, new and veterans of all ages and with all aged children, living and loving a traveling life.

Did I mention I lurked? Then I started to ask questions and even answer some on the Facebook group. People responded inviting more virtual engagement. I began to know names and think of Jennifer, hoping she got that job at Disney, or whether Kimberly’s engine trouble was diagnosed. What are the great places to stay? What should we see for cheap or free? What do we do about the moisture on the windows? Anything you can think of, and most you can’t (unless you live in 300 square feet with several children and pets), can be answered there.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve met up with a family or two (like the Lundy 5) from the group as we passed each other in our journeys. This year we find ourselves once again in the hotspot (literally and figuratively) for Fulltime Families in the winter months- central Florida. While we missed this year’s winter rally, we are having a positively wonderful time here with regular pool parties, potlucks, and field trips with other traveling families- making new and lasting friendships on each and every outing. On a moms’ afternoon out to IKEA, I was so moved by how personal it felt for me to be shopping for home items with other people who understood all too well the dilemmas of organization of a small family space- that moves. Speaking of IKEA, we did a whole living/dining area makeover and someone I had never even met in the Fulltime Families group offered up their family’s truck for us to pick up our furniture. Now that’s family.

Photo 2 - 2013-02-24
photo credit:: Stephanie Clarke

So I’d like you to meet my Fulltime Family. We are not the same. In fact, we are more different than most neighbors in traditional neighborhoods. We come from all over the United States and even some other countries! We have different backgrounds, jobs, hobbies, interests, children who range in age from gestating to 20- something and beyond. But we share a common passion- a similarity in lifestyle that transpired in a different way for every family that creates and fosters a bond, an understanding, empowerment, vulnerability, and a wealth of knowledge.

Photo 1 - 2013-02-24

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Florida, RV

 

Tags: , , , , ,

California’s a Big State (final post):: The Redwoods

North we go and once again find the coast.  At first site of the ocean (around Eureka, CA), the kids were so excited (and it was so beautiful) that we pulled the whole rig over for an ocean play break.  Chilly but awesome!
Hello again, Pacific!!!

Klamath, CA – right smack dab in the middle of Redwood State and National Parks.  State and National?  We’d never heard of this kind of park collaboration before so I was concerned our National Parks Pass wouldn’t get us in to the park or that there would be extra day use fees.  Turns out that we were not charged a fee (and I didn’t even need to present the pass) though there were fees posted.  The Junior Ranger Program was quite similar to the others the kids have done at other national parks except the lack of a present ranger at the visitors’ center prompted the gift shop attendant to leave me in charge of swearing in my rangers when their work was complete.  OK.  I guess this would have been a bother for the kids had they not done so many previously but they liked completing their activities at home and having the badge to add to their collection right away.  I did a little research after the fact to look into this ‘state and national parks’ thing.
Jurassic Elijah

The Redwoods comprises such a big area of the coast that the Highway 101 runs right through it.  The scenic highway (parallel) takes the traveler west just a bit to drive among the towering redwood trees.  It’s really a breathtaking drive all the way up to Crescent City.  There are hiking trails at turnouts all along the scenic highway poriton so there really is no need to hit the visitor center unless additional information is required.  The park host at the RV park where we stayed gave us a great regional map and a finger-walking map-tour of the highpoints of the area so we were ready!  While Chris worked one day, the kids and I went off a'The Farm'nd found The Farm – Radar Station B-71 tucked in and overgrown overlooking the Pacific.  It is two buildings that were built in 1942 to look like an operating farm post-Pearl Harbor and equipped to monitor for Japanese coastal threats.  We felt like explorers and detectives and the like as we waded through tall grass to get down to the buildings and peered in the barred windows.  It sparked an in-depth conversation and some Google research (on the phone in the car) about WWII, Pearl Harbor, and the bombing of Hiroshima.  The historical perspective our kids have is so objective and impartial.  It is not based on some agenda-laden history text or a particular teacher’s biases or…. fear.  The discussions we have about human behavior and historical happenings are fascinating.  When we brought Chris back to check it out, it had been mowed.  So it did not seem as laden with ghosts and mystery but it was still cool.

We took a couple of hikes during our week in the Redwoods.  The kids immediately commented oGnome kidsn how they felt like gnomes in a giant world.  (We have a GREAT and heavily read book on gnomes so we’re up on our gnome knowledge.)  I couldn’t stop an internal giggle after that.  I did, too!  Then I read that the woodsy portions of The Lost World: Jurassic Park were filmed there and we imagine dinosaurs ambling, scurrying, and rumbling through the humongous ferns and collossal plants.  Then Chris remembered that the Endor scenes of Return of the Jedi were filmed among the redwoods and we were giddy with talk of ewoks.  Yes, these trees (and, for that matter, all of the giant plants and thick greenery) evoke a feeling of being small, childlike, vulnerable, inquistive, wild, and adventurous. 

We also spent a cloudy day at the beach before being warned by a passerby about sleeper waves.  Eek!  With all of the signs about being in a ‘tsunami hazard zone’, we didn’t know about these rogue waves.  Apparently it’s a pretty regular hazard.  Glad we had a lovely rogue-wave-free day before scurrying back to the car and home for dinner!
Kids in the distance

There are several Roosevelt elk viewing hotspots in the Redwoods as well.  Once nearly extinct, presElk at Prairie Creek Visitor Centerervation practices have helped increase their numbers to over 1,000.  We got a great roadside view of a small herd grazing across from the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. 

The night we arrived at our RV park in Klamath was the first Celtics NBA playoff game.  And we arrived to find that in my web surfing of the various local RV parks, I had inadvertently chosen one without cable hookup.  Chris was freaking out quietly when we got there (I had prepaid over the phone) but the host hooked us up immediately with a satellite box he had on hand.  Sweet.  We noticed chickens roaming the park near the office and were given 2 dozen free-range chicken eggs during our week-long stay!  I’m really glad we chose Kamp Klamath RV Park after driving around the area.  It was convenient to the highway but not right on it like most of the other parks.  They were a bit overgrown on the other side and sprucing up for the true beginning of their season (as fulltimers, we’re noticing we’re not always in parks in their on-season).  The cafe had burned down last year.  The playground was a small backyard type and grown up with grass.  But there was plenty to do in the redwoods.  The park host was on par with the sweetest, most helpful people we’ve met on the road.  That makes all the difference.  Sadie and I made him a flourless chocolate cake with some of the eggs.  :)

Lots more photos of our time in northern California on Flickr!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 4, 2012 in California, RV, Travel log

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Longing.

Far northern California reminds me so much of rural Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  Vast expanses of rocky, rolling mountains covered in the green of spring- the neon of new grasses, bright yellows and purples of the first wildflowers, budding trees and fresh leaves, and the ever-present anchor of the evergreens as far as the eye can see.  As we drive to Klamath, CA- just south of the Oregon border on the Pacific coast, I find myself feeling a bit of longing for the familiarity of the east coast.  This hasn’t happened since we’ve been on the road- at least not at a time when we couldn’t change our plans and quell our desire to be… wherever.  But right now we have solid plans- the Life is Good Conference at the end of the month, friends who have become family awaiting us in British Columbia, Tough Mudder at the end of June, and an Alaskan Cruise/RV to Denali National Park in July.  Not a bad lineup.

I haven’t ‘missed’ anything in a really long time.  It’s an uncomfortable feeling that calls me back to a focus on the present.  What is it about now that isn’t sitting right?  Why the longing?  Generally when I feel I need something – food, sugar, place, person – there is a void that I am not recognizing. 

Lately I have been noticing recurring thoughts of the future.  What will the next adventure be?  How long will we RV?  Will we go abroad?  How?  For how long?  Will the kids decide, at some point, that they want to be stationary?  Will Chris or I?  What if I never fulfill my dream of farming?  Is this a real dream or a romanticized one?  If we did settle down, where would it be?  Is traveling going to continue to be financially feasible?  Would settling down end up being more expensive?

When I look at the questions in print, I recognize fear.  Fear of the future.  Fear of the unknown.  It’s familiar and familiar feels good no matter how bad it feels…  But I know I don’t have the answers.  And I don’t need them.  I am brilliantly happy with my life.  Maybe that’s where the questioning comes in.  A deep breath waiting for the other shoe to drop?  And yet I’m here because of choices made with a focus on living in the present moment rather than the more common sacrificial perspective in which we spend most of our lives waiting, saving, and planning for moments too short or that may never come at all.  The spotlight falls on… being open.  Seizing opportunities.  Staying still when it feels right.  Moving, seeing, doing when we want.  Honoring the changes in ourselves and each other.  Recognizing that we create our lives and choice creates empowered joy.  We always have a choice.

safe haven

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in California, RV, Travel log

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53 other followers