A New Place, A New Adventure!

Full-time RV travel is rewarding beyond the obvious. The freshness of experience and opportunities for learning and personal growth abound, but some of the greatest benefits come about from its challenges. Since we tend to move frequently, hardly a routine is established before it is modified. This regular state of flux seems to enliven even the most mundane everyday experiences. Regular travel also requires considerable energy and focus, which can be exhausting but is frequently offset by inspiration. The new landscapes, people, energies and feelings stir up the senses and push personal boundaries and beliefs. Now, nearly two years on the road, our full-time adventure has served marvelously as a rejuvenating period of growth and experience which we can now draw on.

Our full-time adventure started as a whirlwind cross-country expedition with the hope of finding a new place to call home. Nearly two years later, it became so much more, yet still fulfilled its initial purpose. The RV Nomads have landed in St. Augustine, FL! The oldest city in America grabbed our hearts with its historic European feel, beautiful waterfront and beaches, and vibrant small town feel. It is the perfect place for us to establish what we missed the most on the road: community, consistency and focused outlets for creativity.

We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel 22,000 miles around this country and find a place to consciously choose to live. Finding a place that met our criteria and personalities was no easy feat. Our love for urban street life and walk-ability was not something we were prepared to give up, we found this in a condo we recently purchased on the north side of town. Situated on a beautiful bay, complete with lighthouse, and only a few miles from the beach, our love for the water is utterly satisfied. Always attracted to historic charm and streets, the oldest city in America does not disappoint. Some of the existing structures date as far back as to the 17th and 18th centuries, with a very different history than the northern colonies. Compared to the west coast or Baltimore (our hometown), housing is only a fraction of the cost, allowing us freedom to pursue entrepreneurial efforts. Located on the northeast coast of Florida the weather isn’t too shabby, either. The nearby cities of Jacksonville and Orlando also give us the option to have big city amenities at our convenience, while the sizable tourist economy supports a music and arts scene that is unparalleled in other towns of its size. The people here are friendly and have been welcoming and hospitable. While it may not be perfect, it is pretty darn close!

Today, we are as excited to start a new life in a new place as we were to take off and experience America. This blog will remain active as we share updates of Christian learning to surf, Alayne’s photography, and our latest projects and travels. In the meantime if anybody is looking for a great little motorhome “The Dutchie” is on the market – $6500!

Our Favorite Campsites of 2014

We are heading to what will be our last campsite of 2014 to join the Amazon Camperforce team and tackle the holiday season rush.  We covered a few less miles this year, but still made it across the country and back.  We volunteered/workamped nearly half of the year, stayed put for about a month without working a couple of times, and actively traveled the rest.  Below is a list of our favorite campsites this year.

Gilbert Ray Campground, AZ – this county park, just south of Saguaro National Park, is the best campground we have found to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.  It is a bargain at $20 per night for electric hookups, and camping among the giant Saguaros is a one-of-a-kind experience.  It is a 20 minute scenic drive to Tucson and there is GREAT hiking nearby.

Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, SD (boondocking) – The Badlands of South Dakota truly are something to behold, almost other-worldly.  Camping on the edge of “The Table,” a cliff overlooking them is a remarkable experience.   This free spot is 6.5 miles south of Wall, SD.  Look for the large antenna and turn left on the service road, drive anywhere you want and park.

North Shore Bay Campground, Buffalo Bill State Park, WY – This campground is unbelievably picturesque.  It overlooks the turquoise Buffalo Bill Lake with the snow covered Absaroka mountain range in the background and is surrounded by hoodoos and buttes.  It’s about 10 minutes to Cody, WY and 45 minutes to the Eastern slopes of Yellowstone National Park.

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Fulltime RV Travel as a Sabbatical or Gap Year

I have always been attracted to the word sabbatical. It sounds much more respectable and purposeful than “I need to get heck out of here because life as it is, is driving me insane!” Most people think sabbaticals are reserved solely for academics or clergy to recharge and refresh, so that they can deepen their understanding of a subject and return to their teaching or research with renewed vigor. While we recognize the purpose and benefits for academia, it is discounted and discouraged for others. I would argue that it is every bit as important for everyone to have time to reflect, recharge and develop personally and spiritually. Very few people allow the space for serious and often beneficial contemplation to live life intentionally. Too many of us, self included, get caught up in the expectations and currents of life before we even have the faintest idea of what is going on. Perhaps fear is the reason we steam ahead certain in our uncertainty. It is said we are the sum of our choices, but what if all of those choices were made with little thought or insight and the total is wrong? I do not think there is anything more terrifying than that. While many people double down and harden on their current path, a sabbatical is an opportunity to rediscover, develop awareness and enrich life and purpose. While world travel may be out of the question or impractical, especially for people with school aged children, traveling North America in an RV for a year or more is well within reach for many.

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The Joy of the Unexpected

Life on the road brings with it many unexpected surprises.  We travel with destinations in mind, but what we discover along the way is often more meaningful.  When travel reveals something as special as a previously unknown landscape, charmed town, history or cultural nuance that is when the journey becomes the destination.  Often what catches us off guard are little things like the quality of sunlight in a specific place, the different colors of rivers, or the cultural juxtaposition of Texas and Wyoming cowboys.  The U.S. is a country of regions and sub regions each offering unique experiences.  Most of this was unknown to me prior to our travels, minus my impressions through media and brief vacation stays.  While well known landmarks like major cities, national parks, and storied locations are impressive and provide a travel guide, it is the discoveries along the way that are the sweet filling that make RV travel so delicious.

Cultural references take on new life and meaning when experienced first hand.  When a country song references “a good-bye town,” I know exactly what that is.  I’ve been to a Hootenanny, know why it is called bluegrass music, and have tasted Carolina Gold.  I can tell the difference between a Kentucky and a Georgia drawl.  I have seen places where races and cultures mix well, and others where there is a dividing line through town (and they are not where you’d think).   I know why Northern Californians dis-like Southern, and that Oregon and Washington want nothing do with either.

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Choosing Simplicity

In our modern consumer culture learning to live simply, not constantly in pursuit of things, is an acquired skill.  I grew up, like many Americans, believing I had to have the fanciest, the best, and the latest I could afford; that possessions defined me and made me better.  The reality of this was far different than I had imagined.  The very moment I was the most successful in terms of wealth and “stuff,” was also the most miserable, including a descent into alcoholism.  Working hard in effort to acquire more stuff seems little more than a hollow unsatisfying effort to superficially boost ones’ self esteem.  This path, at least in my case, was diverting me from taking pleasure in life and happiness.

Living simply is not taught in the classrooms, and it is certainly not a part of our culture.  How many times have you heard, “I am being a good American and buying stuff?”  In fact, our rampant materialism and consumption seems to not only be at the core of our unhappiness, but is also destroying that which supports a happy and healthy life.  Living in a small modest RV by choice has taught me to live simply, and without the constant pangs of wanting.

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A Way Out West Musing

As a life long east coast resident, I can not help but to be curious and drawn to the people and landscapes of the West.  As I write this sitting in Wyoming, a large state that has a smaller population than the city I am from, it is hard not to get caught up in the mythos of the Old West.  While the days of the pioneers and complete lawlessness are long gone; cowboys, rugged individualism, and wide open vistas remain.  In places like this you can still see the America of lore, that now-a-days seems nearly extinct.  A typical scene on any given summer afternoon includes: cowboy and baseball hats, fathers’ and sons’ playing catch, Harleys flying patriotic flags, pick-up trucks, dirt roads, livestock near town, and as always everybody waves and smiles as they pass by.

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WorkampingReviews.com – A New Workamping Resource

One of the ways Alayne and I afford to be full-time RVers is by volunteering in exchange for an RV site, and soon workamping for a wage. In general, we enjoy the work and experiences. However, two were less than positive, one of which, we felt completely taken advantage of. It surprised us early on, that there were few resources for volunteers and workampers to share their experiences; to help each other avoid bad situations and provide encouragement for the good. Recently we launched a website to do just this, provide a voice for workampers and volunteers.

workampingreviews logo

WorkampingReviews.com is in its early stages of compiling reviews. This easy to use website is completely free and requires no registration. It also allows users to post anonymously. This new resource needs people to submit reviews to get the ball rolling. If you have a volunteer or workamping experience to share, please do, so this becomes a helpful and powerful resource for all.

Fulltime RVing with Cats

Living in a 150 square foot RV can be a challenge for two adults, but add two VERY LARGE cats in the mix and we literally, are on top of each other.  Fellow RVers and others have frequently been curious about how cats do on the road.  In the beginning, NOT well at all.  It was a mix of curiosity, shear terror and what appeared to be a cat’s version of a panic attack.

Meet Kimchi (left) and Miso (right): Adventure Kitties (when they’re not sleeping)

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The Best National Park You’ve Never Heard Of – Exploring the North Cascades

North Cascades National Park is the least visited park in the continental United States, with fewer than 25,000 visitors per year. This number is minuscule compared to 9.4 million visitors the Great Smoky Mountains or the 3 million nearby Olympic National Park receive annually.  I suspect, as was the case for myself, few people outside of the Pacific Northwest even know this place exists.   Indeed, it seems that the North Cascades has bit of a public relations problem.  While iconic images of its better known cousins are splashed across travel magazines, featured in documentaries, and make it on the bucket lists of millions, the North Cascades stand waiting for a few adventurers to embrace its solitude, wilderness, and beauty.

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RV Envy

When we first bought our RV, even though it was older, we thought it was the coolest thing.  That was until we hit the road and began staying in RV parks, usually surrounded by much larger, fancier rigs, oozing with style.  During our evening campground strolls, we started to imagine ourselves in these rigs and took note of all the attributes that made them more desirable than ours.  At times we even felt inferior and wanted more, assuming we’d be happier with something better.  Truth is, our used Class C RV, is about as un-cool as it gets.  It does not have slides, hydraulic doohickeys, hip retro styling, satellite TV, Corian counters, or full body paint with swoosh graphics.  There are no RV groups or cult followings dedicated to generic Class C RVs that are past their prime.  Nor are we approached with compliments or curiosity about our rig.  Even though it is 24 feet long and nearly eleven feet high, it might as well be invisible.  But what it does have, it excels at:  It is paid for, and has proven to be tremendously practical.

I recall being told many years ago that no car is better than the one that is paid for.  This can be applied to just about anything, as debt, at least in my mind, is like indentured servitude. RVs can be financed for 15 years, which is a long time and not enviable.  Having our RV paid off, allows us to have this adventure and worry less about money.  One of the principles to happiness is to spend money on experiences, not stuff.  Learning to live simply has been one of the greatest benefits from this journey.

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