Category Archives: Musings

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!

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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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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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Our Favorite Places

During conversations with people who are curious about our lifestyle, we are often asked what places we have enjoyed most.  Below is a list of some of our current favorites in different categories.  Keep in mind we have not seen the entire country, only about 28 states, and still have plenty more to see. For the next few months we are going to travel to some new places including 7 National Parks, and we are certain this list will change.

Large Cities:

  • Austin, TX
  • Portland, OR
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Baltimore, MD (our hometown)
  • Washington, DC

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The Central Oregon Coast

The tag line for the Central Oregon Coast is “Where the Forest Meets the Sea.”  It is one of the few places in the country where one can hike in a mature forest of towering pines with rich undergrowth, while listening to and seeing glimpses of the ocean at the same time.  It is also where over-sized sand dunes stretch for forty-two miles south to north, resembling a mountain range of sand.   Where the dunes end, the rocky coastline made of volcanic rock, synonymous with this coast, begins.  Two hundred foot vertical cliffs tower over surf beaten rocks below.  Some are like small islands that provide refuge for birds and sea lions.  Others jut out from their headlands, providing the viewer with dramatic wave crashes and exploding sea spray.  While yet others, provide a protective sanctuary and nursery for burgeoning and delicate marine life in their tide pools.

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Carpe Diem!

Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, was a phrase made popular by a widely seen film of the 1980’s, “Dead Poets Society”.  Since then the phrase has been a staple in the American lexicon.  However, what is well known is not always regularly practiced.  Most people tend to live their lives as if something better waits for them in the future, almost guaranteed.  Intellectually, we all know we will meet the reaper in the end and sometimes sooner than expected.  In fact, there are no guarantees, in a sense all we have is today.  Every day is a gift for those who are grateful.

I feel, more and more, that we all have been subjected to a great ruse.  That society has programmed us to believe certain things are important, when in the end they are utterly meaningless.  Instead of bolstering individual growth and awareness, what I feel is the true meaning of life, we are misguided to believe that comfort and wealth is synonymous with happiness.  Instead of facing the difficult task growth, a craving develops for immediate gratification and pain avoidance through a myriad of distractions.

“Life moves pretty fast, if you blink you just might miss it.”  This saying too was made popular by a 1980’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, right before embarking on one heck of an epic day.  The routines of work, shopping and entertaining oneself are comfortable, but tend to speed up life into a succession of days barely distinguishable from the prior.   Weeks turn into months, months to years and before we know it, life has slipped away with little more to show for it than drudgery, interspersed with a few milestones, some recreation, and even less excitement.

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Learning to Listen

Maturing as full-time RV’ers and travelers has happened quickly for us.  In a little over a year we have crossed the country 3 times, seen fifteen National Parks, stayed in everything from parking lots to luxury resorts, and we’re starting our fourth volunteer workamping job.  Phew!  It has been a year full of adventures, but also learning.

Fifteen months ago we were naïve and knew almost nothing about RV’s, campgrounds, workamping, or even about this country a couple hundred miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Alayne and I felt compelled to shake up life a bit and explore.  There is something about throwing oneself into the unknown that creates a quick learning curve, and draws upon resources previously unknown.  Living life on the road is not all smooth sailing and kicking back at campgrounds.  It is waking up and not knowing where you are, or where the grocery store is.  It is flat tires and blow outs, broken refrigerators and roof repairs.  It is all the things life throws at us, with the extra element of disorientation and a lot less space.  It is about becoming comfortable outside the comfort zone, and most importantly learning to listen.
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