Adventure Memoirs of a Vagabond

New York City

I was born in New York. Elmira is a small town on the border of Pennsylvania along the Chemung river. I guess to some that makes me a Yankee. Even though I grew up in rural small town. Some would even call me a Chemunkey. But that’s another story. Let me tell you, a New Yorker, I am not. I’ve been to the city on one other occasion. Pookie and I had a day to spare on a road trip we were on. We stopped in New Jersey on the way to see my mother in Elmira. We were staying at her father’s place, much like we are now and took the train into the city for the day. That is the extent of my experience with NYC. We went to the Central Park Zoo and Central park. We enjoyed The American Museum of Natural History. We ate at the Famous Carnegie Deli where we dined on a 50 dollar corned beef sandwich. Even after all of that I still know very little about city life! So when I tell you these things don’t laugh too loud. For us, it’s this whole other country.
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The RV Effect.

A lot of the time inspiration is fleeting, at least for me. Let’s not even talk about motivation. My interests have always been all or nothing. When something grabs my attention I am all about it. THIS IS MY LIFE! and when it’s gone… meh. So when I find the mood hits me I have to get it started or the moment is gone. Part of me wondered if that was going to be the case with this new lifestyle were living. I asked myself over and over “Do I really want to sell everything and do this?” But you really don’t know if you don’t try so here I am. So Let’s talk about it for a minute. Furthermore in the spirit of keeping my interest in writing going here’s what’s been going on.
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The proof is in the banana bread.

When you watch old-timey television shows, the neighbors share a cup of sugar and fresh baked cookies. They have coffee together and gatherings and everyone knows everyone. It’s the quaint small town existence. Maybe it’s still out there, but it certainly didn’t exist for us.
The Bear and I have lived together in 3 homes. One was for a year, the next for 5 and the last one for 8. The first home we never met any neighbors. The second, we knew one and I fed her cats sometimes when she went away. The last one…a whopping 8 years…we knew 3 of the neighbors. Although we knew them, we never hung out with them. There was never an exchange of cookies or a shared cup of sugar. In no way am I saying that it’s their fault, it’s just as much ours. We went about our daily business…working, paying bills and keeping to ourselves. We did all have a mutual bond though, we hated one of the other neighbors. Think about that though, 14 years…14 years living mere feet from people with nothing but some general chit-chat and a wave. I wonder how many other people live like that. Stuck in their lonely bubble, having to travel out of it to find people with common interests to share a bite to eat with…now that I look back at it, it’s kind of sad.
The reason why I’m bringing this up is because moving into our RV has been a social shellshock.  It hit me last night when Mike & Deb brought over some fresh baked chocolate banana bread for us. It was still warm. This wasn’t the first time, but the time I realized that this is different. This is the way community is supposed to be. We have shared our cinnamon buns and we have had afternoon drinks brought to us. Need a blanket because it’s cold out? Your friendly neighbor is happy to share! In fact, they insist! Seriously…it’s now a battle of who gets to sleep with Deb’s fluffy blankie! It’s been such a different experience for us in the social aspect the last few weeks. It reminds me of a Nick at Nite TV show! In all the years we lived in our bubble houses we were NEVER this social.
The proof is in the banana bread, but it’s been so much more. We have shared late night laughs around the fire and early morning…ok…not so early…brunches. 5pm happy hour is a common occurrence at someone’s house. Sometimes we get together to explore the local area and do cool stuff like giant swamp buggy tours and sometimes we do mundane stuff like go grocery shopping together. When was the last time you went grocery shopping with your neighbor?
In fact, they aren’t just our neighbors…they are our FRIENDS.
 

 
Was it pure luck we ended up in the right place at the right time, or is it always like this?
In our year plus of preparation, we asked other full-timers what it was like out here. Some said it was extremely social and others said it was extremely solitary. Classic case of your mileage may vary. Do you boondock on public lands a lot? Are you in an active RV park? Do you live where there is undesirable weather and you’re cooped up inside all day? All of these things can be factors in how social your RV life is. Maybe we got lucky because our first stop was filled with awesome people and then we all moved together to the next stop! Is it Thousand Trails because is it a network and everyone is generally in the same few places? Is it because we are staying put for 2 weeks at a time and have the time to meet people? Time will tell as our trek north begins and we start to move more often and break away from the people that we have spent the last few weeks with.

The only thing that is constant is Change…and Bandaids.

Have you ever thought about how familiar your environment is?
You live in the same house every day, you travel the same route to your job at the same place. You go to the same gym every day and frequent the same restaurants.  You run by the same park near your house every day and sometimes you stop and sit on the same wooden bench to catch your breath. The bench looks and feels the same every day. You know that you can run your hand along the top of the bench, as you have hundreds of times, and it won’t filet your hand like dead fish.
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And then it hit me.

This morning about 2 miles into my run, I stopped to take in a view of the lake. It was so peaceful and quiet. It was beautiful. 

And then it hit me…before I realized what was happening, the emotion overwhelmed me and the tears started rolling. I couldn’t stop. I kept thinking about how happy I felt and how hard I worked to get here. 
The last several years I dedicated myself to getting an education and building a career that would afford us a better life. I sacrificed both my time and my sanity. I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Bear. He was so crucial in keeping me on track when I wanted to quit so many times. It wasn’t easy for him, not even close. I was really the one who was a Bear and he put up with me all those years freaking out, crying over papers, screaming about asshole professors. He sacrificed our entire life in general because I was stuck studying and doing homework every weekend and every weeknight into the wee hours. It sucked and it was worth it. I am very proud of myself for working hard and making it happen.
When I started on that journey, I didn’t know where it would lead. I probably thought more money, bigger house, nicer cars…you know, the American Dream. I had no idea that we were going to ditch status quo and go on a wild adventure. We are exactly where we are supposed to be.
The last three weeks on the road have been surreal. It is so much more than I expected it to be. The feeling of freedom, not being tied down is a feeling you can’t explain. It’s scary, not knowing exaxtly what comes next but it is awesome. I know we made the right decision. It just feels right like we have been doing this forever. I am happy. This is perfect and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It feels like home.
– Pookie

The First Two Weeks Of Full Time RV Life. 

I sit here in my tiny house on the highway. It’s 11pm and we’re getting ready for bed. We checked the weather and it looks like we’ll have a little wind tonight so I stowed our awning. The bikes caught a little rain this morning so I decided to put them in the Volkswagen tonight. We’re headed out this Sunday and moving a little further north to Clermont. I figured I might as well get some of my pre trip check list done a little early. Traveling day so far has been the most stressful on us. There is so much to be done and so many things to check. Imagine every 2 weeks or so you pack up your entire house and everything you own and drive your house down the highway at 60mph. Maybe it’s just me but it makes me anxious and a little nervous. Obviously this type of travel has its advantages or we wouldn’t be here. But let me tell you travel day will kick your ass if you’re not paying attention. Continue reading

Long walks and lots of poop in Wachula, FL.

Let me say first that I don’t have any formal writing experience except for what one receives in the public school system. I’ll do my best to keep the grammar nazis at bay but I’m still a dumb white kid from upstate NY.  Please don’t set your expectations too high and you won’t be disappointed. That being said some useful or constructive criticism on my writing style would not be unwelcome to make these easier to read. I haven’t decided what I plan to do with this blog. I guess I really like the idea of having a place to record my thoughts, experiences and ideas about this adventure that isn’t Facebook or YouTube. So for now this is going to be a public diary of our journey of sorts. An open letter to my friend’s and family maybe. Let’s see what happens shall we?
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It's officially official! 

Well we did it. It took a year and half of planning, saving, selling, donating and throwing our belongings in the trash. But on the day Pookie had set as our launch date we said goodbye to our land lord and the house we had lived in for 8 years and moved ourselves and what we thought was everything we couldn’t live without into our motorhome and set off on this crazy journey. Just like we planned. In truth that’s probably the only thing that went as planned.
Honestly I carried this thought in my mind that if we could just get to the launch date we could take a moment to breathe. The stress would let up and it would be smooth sailing. I was even looking forward to it. Ha! We have been working on this for 18 months. It consumed our every thought and steered our decisions. The launch date felt like a finish line to the work and the party would begin.
And then it was upon us. It’s go time. Nothing left to sell, repair or clean. All we had were a few pieces of furniture and an old tv to throw out and we could go. I have to tell you that launch day was the most stressful yet. With the excitement of the adventure ahead and the last minute things we had to get done I was running around trying to get out the door like a angry lunatic. It’s been unseasonably warm here in South Florida (which we affectionately refer to as the Devil’s armpit) so I was hot, sweaty and thirsty. Now you don’t know me but if you did you’d know that makes me grouchy. For whatever reason I decided I wanted to wait to check my tire pressure and lug nuts that morning. We have a 3 axle rig with 8 tires and the 4 tires on the Volkswagen. So tire pressure and torque check is actually a pretty big job. 60 lug nuts at 150 foot pounds in the sun is a serious workout. And then 20 more on the van. I was pretty tired as you can imagine. At last we get the rig into the street and we’re getting Twinkie hooked up to leave and I can’t find the ever loving key to the lock for the towbar. A few trips back and forth checking keys and eventually I realize I do have it and get it locked up. The next step is to do a lights check and wouldn’t you know we can’t get the tow lights working. Ahhhhh! As you can imagine my boiling point is rapidly approaching from the heat stress combo that I’m now eating for lunch because it’s after noon and I haven’t been able to eat much of anything. I check and recheck the connections and some how they all decided to work at the same time that time. Finally! GAWD Tina! For all I know they quit working after we made the first left out of our neighborhood. We said our final farewells and we buckled up and began this adventure we had so painstakingly planned. You’d think great, chill the worst part is over. You’d be very wrong indeed.
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10 days until Full-Time RV Living

10 days.
That’s right folks, we are 10 short days away from moving into our RV and travelling the grand old US of A.  To be honest, I’ve been an emotional trainwreck the last few weeks. I don’t know if I should cry or laugh most days. We planned, we had a timeline, we had goals and we SMASHED them. We are 10 days away…the RV is ready, we are 90% moved in and the house is empty except for furniture we’ll put to the curb. Reservations have been made, addresses have been changed and we have accomplished every single thing we have set out to do in preparation and more. I am so excited that we stuck to our plan and everything went accordingly, but I am still nervous.
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