We love travel, exploring new places, and meeting new people so much we dismantled the life we had built to forge a new life of wandering, creating, and discovering. What caused us to make such a huge transformation? For us it was a combination of factors that came together in a perfect storm that swept away our blinders and allowed us to see a new future.
After learning many lessons in our early years, we had built a solid life that conformed to what our society says we should aspire to. But in recent years, we experienced a growing sense that we wanted our day-to-day lives to be different. Like many, we had worked hard to progress in our careers and acquire the lifestyle we are conditioned to desire, and we enjoyed that life for quite a while. But our career advancements came with higher and higher loads of stress caused by variables we couldn’t control, and we felt our life had become a never-ending cycle of earn more / spend more. We increasingly felt that our days were ruled by our possessions and jobs rather than our own intentions.
In addition, the loss and deteriorating health of loved ones gave us an acute awareness that we can’t count on having long healthy retirement years. We had ten more years before typical retirement age . . . what if something happened in those ten years that would drastically reduce our ability to enjoy retirement? If we waited another ten years, that meant staying on that wheel of stress which would be bound to impact our health in negative ways, and we were already seeing and feeling that impact. Ten years is a long time to be treading water in hopes of getting to our golden retirement years.
In many Friday night happy hour conversations, we observed that the times we felt most inspired and at ease were when we were traveling together. Those travels were limited by the amount of vacation time we had from our jobs, and even though we both had earned up to five weeks of vacation a year, we were always looking for more. Another limitation on travel, of course, is money. While we were making a good living, the overhead on our lifestyle was pretty high, and we were beginning to resent it.
Our epiphany came in September 2017 while we were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in Jackson Hole. The spotty cell service enabled us to truly unplug for the first time in a while, and the grand landscapes (and maybe the high elevations 😉 ) altered our perspective and spurred us to reconsider what the next ten years might look like. We became intensely curious about the people working in Jackson Hole and how they were able to live and work in such a wonderful setting while not being independently wealthy. We actually slowed our normally frantic vacation pace to initiate some conversations with a few folks and discovered the full-time RV lifestyle. These full-time RVers are not the typical retirement-age stereotype. After doing some research, we discovered that there’s a whole lot of working-age people living life, working, and traveling in RVs. That discovery is what ignited this whole transformation!
We came home from Jackson Hole with a fiery determination to find a way to create a life of travel and adventure and peace. After hundreds of hours of researching, analyzing finances, evaluating nomadic business opportunities, and purging, and on August 14, 2018, 11 months after we returned from Jackson Hole, we moved in to the RV!!
And that’s when the really challenging part of the transformation started. Other than coming to terms with being physically distant from family and friends and the decision to sell our motorcycles, nothing to that point had been emotionally or mentally difficult. Let’s just say that neither of us were prepared for the sheer mass of learning we’ve undertaken since moving in to the RV. Also, while we are good planners, we couldn’t have anticipated all the dragon slaying and whacking of moles required to get transitioned into our new life. Naturally, with the extreme level of adjusting to change and juggling the logistics of shifting to a new life that we are doing in our mid-50’s, there have been some flare-ups and dips in the road. EVEN SO . . . we are so happy to be where we are now and are beyond grateful to have the opportunity to build this new life.
The first six weeks of nomad life have been all about getting settled in the coach. We purchased the coach in mid-August in Charleston, SC, from a private seller, and we spent the first several days at Oak Plantation Campground ( see our blog post: Campground Review – Oak Plantation Campground; Charleston, SC also Campground Review Video – Oak Plantation Campground ). Yes, it was hot, hot, hot, but we were so ecstatic to finally be making our plans a reality we worked right through the heat and were grateful for sub dinners at the end of the days there.
After getting somewhat settled in Charleston, we needed to take the coach to Jacksonville to get it registered in Florida since we established domicile in that state. In getting ready to leave Charleston, we had difficulty getting the tow bar to work properly. Being newbies, we weren’t sure if we were the problem or if the tow bar had a problem. But we needed to get to Jacksonville, so for the time being we traveled in separate vehicles. We got to Jacksonville with no other issues and were able to finalize the rig registration within 24 hours (see our blog post: Campground Review – Pecan Park RV Resort; Jacksonville, FL ).
Our mission in Florida accomplished, we headed north to Jackson, GA, for a meeting with a prospective franchisor and stayed at High Falls RV Park ( Campground Review – High Falls RV Park; Jackson, GA ). We had a great meeting with Len Strozier of Omega Mapping and were excited about the opportunity to buy a franchise business structured to be operated out of an RV. We’ll talk more about how we’re making money on the road in future posts. We also were pleased with the very pleasant town of Covington, GA, and look forward to spending more time there.
From Georgia, we moved up to Charlotte ( Campground Review – Carowinds Camp Wilderness; Charlotte, NC ) to meet up with family and friends before leaving the region for points west. We also spent that time getting more organized and settled in the rig. We had help from both our sons who spent time with us and helped us with assembly of our Camp Chef (probably a review on that later) as well as getting our new computers set up.
We finished up our time in North Carolina at our first Thousand Trails campground ( Campground Reviews – Thousand Trails Forest Lake; Advance, NC ). We bought Thousand Trails Zone Passes for three zones to give these parks a try while we’re figuring out our camping style over the next 12 months. While we were there, we spent a fun afternoon in the town of Lexington where we loved hanging out at Sophie’s Cork and Ale and spotting the ornamental pigs installed around downtown streets. We wrapped up a few outstanding tasks like transferring the storage of what’s left of our household, replacing our microwave, and finalizing registration of the Jeep in Florida (yes, Scott made a 2-day trip to Jacksonville to finish that up!). While Scott was in Jacksonville, I spent time learning how to use new tools like Canva for graphic design, Movavi for video editing ( Our First Video – Our coast to coast to coast motorcycle trip ! ) and the InstantPot! And we finally got the issues with the Blue Ox tow bar resolved so we could tow our Jeep behind the rig on travel days :-).
We were chased out of North Carolina earlier than we had planned by Hurricane Florence. We needed to be in eastern Kentucky in late September for a family reunion but had to go further west to avoid the bulk of the storm. We settled on Bowling Green, KY, and stayed at Bowling Green KOA Holiday (Video review of this campground here). We were happy to be in Bowling Green and could finally spend some time relaxing and appreciating our new situation. We explored some of what Bowling Green has to offer – check out our recommendations on our blog post and in our video.
We spent the last 10 days of September enjoying great quality time with family at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill, KY, and at Patoka Lake in southern Indiana. Scott’s family has gathered at Carter Caves every year for the last 20 years for fun, reminiscing, and making new memories. We take over several of the cottages and monopolize the pavilion and playground area for a full 3-day weekend. It’s been a real gift over the years to be able to maintain family connections and see generations of kids grown and having their own kids. After the reunion, we followed cousins Linda and Jim to Patoka Lake where they spend most summers. The owner of the marina allowed us to dry camp in the parking lot and we had a stellar view of the lake out the front window of the rig. While we were at Patoka Lake we toured the town of French Lick and enjoyed some tasty Indiana wines at Patoka Lake Winery and French Lick Winery and Vintage Cafe followed by a wonderful lunch overlooking the picturesque Donald Ross Golf Course.
As we left Patoka Lake for points west, we finally felt like we were launching into the RV nomad life we had been dreaming about for a year. Our first destination in our new nomad life was the great state of Texas to tie up some training requirements for the two businesses we’ll be running, attend our first RV rally, and go to the Thanksgiving Dallas Cowboys game !! We’ll be telling you all about those adventures in future blog posts and videos.
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Happy Trails !