Today marks 1 month that we have been out on this wide open road, hauling a 31’ house behind us all the way from Michigan to Texas to Florida to South Carolina. We have learned a lot in this month and we know we have loads more to learn in the coming months.
1 month feels like such a huge milestone, but in the grand scheme of things it really isn’t. We often find ourselves sitting around our fire at night saying things like, “I wonder how so and so is,” or “What do you think so and so is up to?” And then we’ll catch ourselves and remind ourselves that so and so is probably just fine and that a month for others might not seem as monumental or as long as it does for us. We’re having an amzing time—we’re learning a ton about ourselves, our relationship and our country and we’re meeting some pretty amazing people on the way. This trip is in no way something we regret—we’re stoked to see the rest of the country and continue this fabulous experience. At the same time, we’ve had some realities sink in and we recognize that it’s not all puppies and rainbows. It’s been tough at times to keep a positive attitude and to also understand that just resting for a day, with no travel or sightseeing, is also totally acceptable.
The things we have taken from this month so far are, in no particular order:
--We need a lot less stuff in our lives than we think we do—one of the BEST things in the world is knowing that everything we have is in this trailer. We don’t have any need for 20 kitchen utensils when 1 can do the job. We don’t have piles of clothing everywhere because we only have 1 pair of jeans. We don’t need to spend hours going through the television choices because we only have 5 DVDs to choose from. Simplicity is one of the best things we have come to learn about from this trip.
--Our iphones are just as powerful as our Mark iii’s—We are traveling with loads of camera equipment, but it is very rare that we actually reach for the professional stuff. Our iphones do the job of nearly every lens we own and we have the benefit of being able to upload it right away to Instagram. Thank you Apple, Instgram and VSCO for keeping us current.
--Instagram community is powerful—Along those same lines, the power of the Instagram community has been pretty amazing. Not only have we met folks out on the road who we initially connected with through social media, but we also have had people get in touch with us regarding our trip and lives based on our IG feeds. The fabulous Two Far From Normal girls, Cate and Michelle, of course met up with us before we started our trip, but we hope to meet up with them at the end of theirs, which will be at the end of December. We’ve also started corresponding with The Democratic Travelers, Worksology , and the Malimish Airstream folks—all of whom are doing pretty much what we are—traveling the country with only the items in their trailer and documenting the entire journey. It’s been so fabulous to connect with other like minded artists and hear their own struggles and triumphs while living this nomadic life.
--State parks are the way to go—the state park system in all of the states we have visited is just fabulous. We were a little worried prior to leaving that the government shut down would impact us, but it was lifted before we left. Even if it hadn’t been, we find ourselves utilizing the state park system far more than the national parks. The BEST state parks we have found so far have been in Florida with brand new, updated showers and campground hosts who clean out the fire rings each morning.
--Having twin beds is odd—It’s a very strange feeling to go to bed each night in separate beds. It definitely is not what we would like, but sleeping on the goucho couch in front isn’t really an option either. Twin beds have a feeling of distance from one another, and while it’s nice to sleep with a shepherd curled at your feet, it’s not the same as next to a human who loves you.
--55 mph only—We drive slow. We have an agreement that we max out at 55mph, not only to save on gas expenses but also to ensure more safety. 55mph is a great way to travel the country though—it feels weird to ride in cars going faster now.
--2 lane highways—We have found the best things when we have been able to get off the interstate and take 2 lanes. I’m sure that’s not overly surprising, but it’s sort of sad that the main way our country travels these days is by massive 4 lane interstates that are dotted only with big box stores and fast food chains. On 2 lane highways you get to see all the local boiled peanut stands, the shrimp shacks and the numerous thrift stores in addition to some pretty fabulous historical markers.
--It’s about the journey, not the destination—Again, I’m sure not totally surprising, but I was thinking about this yesterday as we were camped in Savannah. We have a rough schedule of places we want to see and go and dates we need to be certain spots, but overall, it’s a pretty free form trip. Sometimes remembering that on a day to day basis is tough.
--Learning to live with less is important—When we decided to take this trip and leave our stable jobs last year, we both knew it would be a huge change. I would be cutting my salary by more than half and we would be giving up a lot of the comforts we had come to rely upon in Chicago—health insurance, comfortable couches, the ability to go out for nice dinners every week, online shopping on a whim. Learning to live more leanly and simply has been good for us, but also a change and it doesn’t come without it’s struggles. There are definitely moments when we look at the bank account and think “Dear god, what are we doing?” But those moments are few and far between enough that we are able to enjoy this experience. This isn’t to say that we always want to live this way, but for a year, it’s just fine.
--Working from the road is a huge adjustment—let me just say that I will never take unlimited internet for granted again. We have a Verizon Jetpack for internet that we travel with and is connected to our cell phone plan. We added some data before we left, but we also assumed many of the parks we would stay in would provide Wifi. Turns out that at RV parks, yes, that’s true, but state parks, not so much. So, seeing as state parks are way cooler and generally a better vibe than RV parks, we are using our Jetpack more frequently than we would like, and, as a result, we are running up our data more quickly. Thus, we have had to be creative. Yesterday, for example, we went to a Whole Foods and worked for about 5 hours, using their wifi. Reminding ourselves to work while on this extended trip is tough, especially when it’s 80 degrees and sunny, but we’re adjusting to the flow.
--People love this Airstream—we’ve met so many people camping who have stopped by the site just to say hi and ask about the Airstream. Seeing as we are usually the only Airstream or one of only a couple in the park, we are somewhat of a novelty item. Thus, we make a lot of friends just be showing them the interior and answering questions. We’ve met some super nice folks!
--We’re looking forward to our winter break—We initially planned this trip with a small break in the middle—to go home for the holidays and get some work done back in Michigan. We are planning to depart North Carolina bright and early on December 22, leaving the Airstream in a self-storage facility, and just driving the truck home. We’ll be back in the Midwest for about 3 weeks and then back to South Carolina to pick up the Airstream in late January. Having this break to look forward to is exciting and we are glad we planned to get off the road for a few weeks. We’ll be grateful to have our feet on solid ground, enjoy a little bit of the Midwestern winter and see family and friends.