What we've learned this year
3 month postop visit with Pam's surgeon
Traveling to east Texas
It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since we began this adventure! We have learned many things about life, this beautiful country, and each other. Here are some highlights:
It's amazing how much stuff we don't need. When we sold our home last year along with nearly everything in it, some people thought we were crazy, and some days we had whispers of those same thoughts. In the long run, we have found it to be very liberating! We have what we need, a few things we want, and very little excess. We buy food to eat for a week. We buy clothes that we actually wear and don't just sit in our closet forever. Any excess items are left in campgrounds for others to use if they wish. It's a wonderful recycling community.
Not every day has to be planned. When we first began, every trip detail was planned like we were on a vacation. As we have settled into this lifestyle, we have learned that, while some things are best planned (safe routes to travel on the RV so we don't go on dirt roads or roads with bridge clearances are less the 12'6" we require), some of our best experiences have been at the spur of the moment. Quiet stops along a river or lake for lunch, walking through sleepy towns, talking to local people as we travel along, impromptu stops at museums. It has allowed us to slow down and enjoy the journey. It is fun to see America slow.
Never get complacent while driving. Although we both have gotten used to driving, this RV is a beast at 10 tons and difficult to maneuver on a highway. We have suddenly come upon a tall aluminum ladder (flattened it, much to the owner's dismay - he was on the side of the road waiting for traffic to die down so he could retrieve it). We wrapped a 20ft heavy plastic wrapper around the axle and had to stop to pull it off. A large cargo bed heavy duty liner recently flew off of a truck and smashed into our front bumper and under the RV. When we stopped for gas, our stairs would not come out to exit the vehicle. Trip jumped down and crawled underneath to have a look. He saw that the mat had separated the quick connect to the stairs. Good ole duct tape fixed it right up and the stairs came out. Unfortunately Trip was still under the RV and the stairs trapped him there (yes, we were still at the gas station). Once Pam stopped laughing, she was able to get the stairs in to let Trip out. Never a dull moment!
We really like each other. Some people have commented that they could not see themselves spending 24 hours a day in a 300sf space with their spouse. We agree, it is a very small space, but it seems to fit us well. So much time is spent outdoors and seeing the sights and learning new things, conversation is refreshing and fun. That's not to say we don't have our challenges. By the third rainy day when we haven't been outside, the walls will start to close in on us and grouchies crop up. Quiet time alone and naps usually help. All in all, we have no regrets doing this.
We don't have to have a car. In the beginning, we decided not to pull a car behind the RV. We bought electric bikes to get around and would use Uber and Lyft to get to places we couldn't get on our own. We weren't sure how long that would last but we decided to give it a try. So far so good! We have rented cars a couple of times, and family and friends have been very generous with letting us borrow one when we are visiting. Sometimes having a car would be much easier, and perhaps we might see more of an area, but neither of us feel as though we are missing out.
Expect the unexpected and embrace it as part of the journey. Perhaps this one is self explanatory. The common thread of the themes mentioned above are that they were unexpected challenges that we overcame working together. Rather than suffering from fear and frustration, we embraced them as learning opportunities. Definitely a life hack.
Just before leaving Richmond, we tried to pack as many things in as we could. We visited Chris, Joan, and Laura Peet, family friends in Charlottesville, for a wonderful day of catching up. We walked around the springtime gardens of Richmond. We also flew to Chicago to see Samantha and Henry for a few days. Susan and Dan brought Alden up there, and it was a wonderful weekend. Pam's brother, Bruce, and his wife, Lo, drove into the city to meet their new grand-nephew. We were also able to spend time with Henry's wonderful family. It was a whirlwind weekend! Pam did great, walking 6+ miles per day.
A few days after Chicago, we were ready to head out in our RV. Our first stop was Annapolis, as we wanted to thank everyone for their love and support during Pam's surgery, particularly Dave and Amy. We had a wonderful outdoor party on a gorgeous evening surrounded by our favorite people.
We also had Pam's 3 month post op checkup with Dr. Jain. He was very pleased with Pam's recovery, wished us well on our travels, and wants to see her again late summer or early fall. With that good news, we were ready to hit the road - after a stop in Baltimore to see Hannah and Cam's new home they bought last month in Canton. It is beautiful, and we are thrilled for them.
Next we headed towards east Texas, where are friends Toni and Karon live. We were planning to visit for a few days and all head off to Mississippi for harmonica camp (for Trip and Karon). Karon called and said she wasn't feeling well, so we slowed down our journey to give her time to rest and feel better.
We used several Harvest Hosts - Shenandoah Caverns - and of course, took a spectacular tour. Crafty Bastards Brewery in Knoxville, TN - what could be better than craft beer and pizza for dinner. We stayed 3 days in DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne, AL - which allowed us to relax a bit, get our bikes down, and explore the area. When we left, we stopped in Sweetwater, TN to visit The Lost Sea - an underground lake at the bottom of a cavern. Pretty incredible. That same night was our final stop, outside of Shreveport, LA where we could stay for free at the Margaritaville Resort Casino parking lot in Bossier, LA. We had so much fun here - walked a lot, gambled a bit, and even left with a little extra money in our pocket.
Karon was beginning to turn a corner and felt well enough to travel to camp, so we headed to Broaddus, TX to see our dear friends. They never disappoint - they were so welcoming, as always. We had a great couple of days - which included celebrating Trip's birthday and an impromptu jam session with Ferryn and Steve.
Final stop, HARMONICA CAMP It was an exhausting but thrilling week watching Trip and Karon learn and grow. We made some great friends, and have new places to visit on our adventures (we are looking at you, Johnny, Garth and Hal!) We stayed at The Shack Up Inn, where the camp was held. Old, rustic shacks on an old farm. Super fun, and we all plan on going again next spring. Check out Trip's Deeper Dive #15 here and VIDEOS here!