Just when we thought we were done…

We had this great plan…go to Florida for January. We knew that was the plan about a year ago. We knew we could start booking spots right away before they all got booked up. We didn’t. When we told people in August, September, October, and even November that we were going to Florida for January with no reservations yet….well, they laughed at us. “Newbies!”

We went to Florida for January. And we rocked it!

Nine nights at Fort Wilderness for Disney…done!

Two days before we were leaving I snagged a space at Fort De Soto State Park just outside of St. Petersburg. Everybody we met there said it’s their favorite SP (State Park for you S&B folks….oh, and S&B is “Sticks & Bricks”) and they couldn’t believe we found a last minute reservation. Yeah, we rock.

While we were there we got a call from friends who said “meet us in the Keys this weekend….oh, an find someplace with two spaces, one for us too!”. Last minute, in the Keys, in January? Yeah, rocked that one too at Venture Out RV Resort…score!

Banged out a few nights nextdoor to #ZooMiami at the Larry & Penny Thompson Park…last minute (in the overflow lot with no hookups). We had a blast there, even met some great folks with a six week old baby…born in their Airstream {insert #WTF emjoi here}!

Headed from there over to Sanibel/Captiva Islands on a last minute Fort Myers/Pine Island KOA reservation. Oh the sea shells…holy moly! Memories went down on those beaches.

Rolled back across Florida on a random last minute find for a City of Jacksonville park called Hanna Park…with FHUs (full-hookups)…right on Atlantic Beach…only beach for miles that allows dogs. In the RVing pet-lover world, that’s pretty much like a hat trick!

And that was Florida. We came. We beached. We conch-ered. (See what I did there? Like conch shell? Another emoji here please.) And we headed off to Georgia.

But when you have a six night gap in your schedule this close to Florida beaches and find an opening right on the water (I mean practically pull your front tires into high-tide), you turn around and head south to Florida folks! Just when we thought we were done, weeeeeee’rrrrreeee baaaaaaccckkkk!

What have we been doing?

It’s February 2nd already. We’ve been on the road 216 days since we left Houston at the end of June last summer. We’ve traveled from Texas to Ohio, Ohio to the Pacific north of Seattle, through Oregon to San Francisco and flown to Hawaii, to Utah and Colorado, back to Ohio for the holidays and finally from Ohio to the tip of Florida in Key West.

So what have we been doing? We get asked daily about our favorite place. About the one experience of the trip. What’s the one thing we’ll remember most. And we answer. Moab was magical because of the people. That evening watching sea lions eat salmon at the mouth of the Klamath river with the sun setting over the pacific was priceless. Spending the holidays with family and not being rushed was refreshing.

But you know what I’ve come to more recently as we start watching the clock run down on our 1 year journey? It’s not the one place we’ve been. It’s not the “single experience that we’ll never forget”. You know what it is? We’re living a life we love. We’re living our life everyday. We still take time to pay the bills. Gotta stop for gas. Need to run to the grocery store. All the normal stuff. But we’re not doing that before and after work robbing us of precious time together as a family. We’re living life everyday and we work regular stuff in as it needs to get done to keep this dream moving. And it’s amazing!

Take that into your own life in the way you best can. Maybe for you it means not putting in 10 hours of overtime so you can spend 10 extra hours together that week as a family. Could be hiring that help with the yard, the pool, the laundry, the stuff that needs to get done but takes time away from the ones you love. Maybe it’s taking a chance on a new opportunity that affords you more time freedom even if everyone else laughs at you because it’s not “normal”. Or heck, maybe it’s going all in and selling your house to travel full-time as a family to see all of the amazing people and places in this great country we live in today.

Whatever it is for you, start living a life you love a little more. You won’t regret it. I know we don’t.

And with that I’ll sign off and give you what you want, just a smidgen of the people, places, and things.

Tour of Miss Pearl

So we’re pretty terrible at this blogging thing. I know, I’m not telling you something you didn’t know already. After 10,000 miles of traveling we’ve yet to share with y’all a tour of our rolling home. I started to type “camper”. Miss Pearl may be a lot of things but a “camper” ain’t one of them.

For now, please enjoy a tour via YouTube: Tour of Miss Pearl

Feeding America – Headed to Pittsburgh!

41,204,000 – that’s how many people in the United States are hungry. This is unacceptable.

More than 12 million are children. In fact, 1 in 6 kids do not know where their next meal is coming from.

While we scroll on our SmartPhones, there are tens of millions of people who must make heartbreaking decisions: 
🍎69% have to choose between Food and Paying Utilities
🍎67% must choose between Food and Transportation (for work)
🍎66% have to choose between Food and Medical Care

That’s why we are partnering with Feeding America though the NourishOne initiative to help bring awareness and support to end hunger in America.

Today we kick it off in Pittsburgh with our good friends Nicole and John Odermatt! We can’t wait to share today as we strive to reach our goal of 24 hours donated in providing food to their local community!

Trip to Houston Realizations

Steve here bringing you an update while I feel moved to share my morning with you.  I spent the past week in South Dakota with a group of guys and had to make it back to the Denver area where Amy and Adelaide have spent 8 days without me for the first time.  Turns out the cheapest way to get from Pierre, SD to Denver, CO is to help your buddy drive 19 hours to Houston so you can fly big airport to big airport.  I figured while I was in Houston for a flight, it’d be a good time to check in at the Houston office since I’ve been off work since July 29th.

As I ran into a number of great colleagues this morning, I wish I’d have been wearing a wire.  No, no, no….not undercover catching the gossip.  I wish I’d have captured the way people reacted to me or described me.

“Wow Steve, you look like you’ve got zero stress man!”

“Something is different, like, you look….well, happy.”

“Maybe it’s just me but you lost some wrinkles around your eyes.  Does that sound weird?”

“You kinda seem like you’re floating, Steve, just floating on cloud nine.”

“I think you’ll get it when I say this.  When I saw you coming toward me, with the big smile, I thought to myself ‘look at that beautiful man’.”  (This was my personal favorite)

I get asked all the time what it’s like doing full-time (FT) RV travel.  38,000 pounds of RV and Jeep hurling down the road at 70mph with cars bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic around me.  Never knowing quite where we’ll stay in a few days when we leave {insert location name here}.  “Man, isn’t it stressful having to plan out reservations?  I’d be freaked out all the time!”  I figured it out today in just a few short hours.

This is the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of our life together as a family.  How stressed was I before?  I didn’t feel stressed.  Was I grumpy and didn’t realize it?  I kinda thought I was always the happy-go-lucky guy in the office, the optimist, the don’t worry guy.  And how bad were the wrinkles in my face for someone to notice they looked BETTER with this big, new smile on my face?  (Ok, so to be fair I think Joyome had a hand to play there.  Love that stuff!)  The beautiful man part?  Well, you’d have to know this man…yep, another man told me that.  A man that has been through it all and in an instant recognized internal happiness being exuded in posture, facial expression, and perhaps even some sort of halo / aura glowing around me.

What is it?  What drove these reactions?  What changed so profoundly in ME?

I think it’s 2 things.

1) I’m unplugged.  I don’t watch “live” TV anymore.  We stream a bit of Netflix here and there.  Miss Pearl (our RV for those new to the blog) has an in-motion satellite dish but we decided not to have a receiver.  Seemed like a good recipe to spend too much time inside the RV and not enough time outside.  We’re not riveted by 24 hour news, the latest media-driven catastrophe, or even pending natural disasters.  I’m not checking email 3,473 times a day to keep up with work, friends, bills, and family news.  I check the weather, that’s about it.  And the simplicity of that is being expressed in ways I hadn’t noticed since they creep up on you.

2) As people asked me over and over this morning, “what’s the one thing you’re enjoying most about this whole crazy trip?  What’s the one thing? The place?”  I’m a “yes dad”.  It’s the thing that came to me instantly.  I’m a “yes dad” now.  Not a “wait a minute dad”.  Not a “maybe tonight dad”.  Not a “we’ll try to next weekend dad”.  My priorities now are quite simple.  Keep my family safe.  Spend time together.  Expose our daughter to new things.  That’s about it.

So what good does that do you?  Maybe you aren’t blessed like Amy and I have been with this amazing opportunity to travel FT (remember…that’s “full-time”) around the country in a luxury RV.  But you know what?  You CAN simplify your lifeYou CAN unplug a bit more.  Maybe not like we’ve done, but you can make small changes in your life to be less distracted.  Trust me, there’s no medal for multi-tasking.  Maybe a metal stint for a blockage but no medals on the podium for always being the first one to respond to that team email, that group chat, or that {insert distraction here}.  And you CAN prioritize your family when you do this.  It doesn’t have to be a profound change to have a profound impact.  You’ll never remember 10 years from now not picking up that phone for a call from the office but your kid will remember sitting on the trampoline waiting because you said “It’ll just take a second buddy, promise”.

 

And with that, my flight is boarding to take me back to my family in our (not so) little rolling home.  Thanks for sharing in our journey folks!  See y’all on the road…

Down in the rocks and dirt

Nearly 6,000 miles into our trip since we left Ohio in August and we finally found time to slow down.  Unfortunately it wasn’t time to slow down and write blog posts (which we owe you for following along).  We found time to slow down and stop moving every three days so we could enjoy good times with great people.  Moab, UT has been such a surprise, planned to stay for four nights and ended up staying for twelve!

 

In our almost three months of travel, we’ve fallen in love with “RV people”.  We’ve met some of the nicest, helpful, and happy people we’ve ever known.  It’s a community of commonality.  I guess dumping tanks keeps anyone from being too uppity!  But that all being said, when you have RV people who own the same brand of RV (Tiffin) along with also owning Jeeps, well that’s a special group who bond instantly.  We found our Tiffin Jeep adventure folks in Moab and feel like we’ve been with family for almost two weeks now.  What a recharge for our batteries and an eye-opener for what ol’ Sarsaparilla can do on the rocks!

Our Tiffin Jeep Adventure Family
L-R: Janice, Keith, Dan, Angel, Wayne, Julie, Nancy, Charlie (puppy), Billy, Shane, Amy, Adelaide, Steve, Isabelle, and Elle.

Top Of The World

Top Of The World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fins and Things Overlook

Thumbs up from Adelaide in the back seat…she loved it!

Another 2 foot ledge to drive off of….easy Sassy, easy girl!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shits and Giggles and a Flooded Rig

After finally leaving Houston, our first night in Louisiana was great! We got in late but Steve parked the rig like a pro! (He assured me there’s no reason to doubt his master backer skills.  We’ll keep score.  Steve: 1, RV Life: 0)  It was pitch dark and the road in the campground was windy and narrow but he didn’t even flinch!

Pro Tip: When you can’t see your spot, go place a flashlight on each back corner of the space (like a runway) can see to back in.

It looks great once you back it in, put up the flags, and the sun starts to shine.

Once we got her parked, got the slides out, we all went to bed. Little did we know that the next morning would kickoff a literal shitstorm or RV life Trial by fire!

Adelaide woke us up early and said her bed was wet. What?? How can this be? She has never ever wet the bed (which might be a bit of revisionist history, which we’re entitled to as parents, but she doesn’t wet the bed). I’m questioning her and then I go to feel the bunk mattress and notice the window has leaked. UGH! IT stormed hard the night before but it never dawned on us we could have a leak. We thought wrap guys must have nicked one of the window seals when they trimmed the wrap.  No big problem, small leak.  We’ll pick up some silicone to seal it.

Night number two, after buying the silicone but not putting it on (there’s a lesson in there), we get a total Gulf Coast summertime thunderstorm.  Big thunder.  Big lighting.  Big raindrops.  And….BIG FLOOD!  I yell for Steve to check the bunk window that’s leaking again.  While he’s trying to figure that out…the other bunk window is leaking…and now the bathroom….and the kitchen….and the living room!  (It’s easy to check them all when they’re all within 10 feet of each other.)  Miracle number 2 and neither of us know where the stroke of genius came from, Steve yells “weap holes!” and runs out into the dark with an exacto knife (read: razor blade for the non-crafters).  The vinyl wrap was covering the weap holes in the window frames!  A handful of quick slices through the vinyl, including duct taping the knife to a tension rod to reach the high spots, and the flood waters stopped.  (We’re going to call that one a tie…Steve: 2, RV Life: 1)

Left: Normal window before vinyl wrap. Right: Wrap covering weap holes, now sliced to drain.

So we take everything off the bunk including the soaking wet curtains and mattress – set it up to dry – open the storage and remove all of the shoes that are also wet and hope the carpet underneath dries quickly.  Luckily the top bunk didn’t get wet at all (mostly because it drained down the wall onto the bottom bunk)! 

Nothing like natures dryer. Let’s hope Louisiana humidity doesn’t make it even wetter!

We had a great first day exploring Mandeville and then having a great dinner event with our friends and colleagues (see blog post for where we recommend lunch!) 

Dinner with our friends. It didn’t happen if there isn’t a group photo. #amirite

We get back to the RV thinking the flood is behind us.  Smooth sailing from here on out as we head north to visit family in Ohio…right?  So even though we’re “Welch Party of 3”, there’s actually 5 of us…two dogs who had adapted to RV life in Houston for a month like champs.  But you know how when you drive over a hill real fast, that feeling, the one in your gut?  Turns out actually traveling in the RV was giving the dogs a bit of a feeling in their guts…well, more accurately in their butts.  The next 72 hours, both on the road and in Ohio, were a series of unfortunate doggie smoothies in close quarters.

I wouldn’t recommend wiping your feet on this rug. (Sorry Kim!)

If you can take a flood, fire ants (left out the reduce the number of curse words on the site), and leaking dog butts in an RV in the first couple of days, we figure you can make it on the road.  Many of you are probably thinking “Nope, I’d be going home and selling that traveling stinkmobile!” and we get it.  For us, you gotta take the good with the bad and laugh it all in (just stay close to an open window for fresh air).

So that’s the first couple of days.  Stay tuned for more adventures…

And we’re off again…

So we launched our big adventure a month ago.  Got in two good days of traveling from Houston, TX to Chillicothe, OH (where we grew up).

Along the way:

  • we spent 2 nights visiting friends in Louisiana,
  • encountered fire ants,
  • had a significant flood through the RV windows,
  • 1 dog throwing up several times,
  • the other having uncontrolled diarrhea leading to a spur of the moment vet visit in Mississippi.

We made it to Ohio and sent the RV in for some repairs, had some work done on the Jeep, spend a week in Destin, FL with friends, and mostly spent the month spending time with family.  Now we’re back on the road as of August 2 and have about 3.5 months of traveling ahead of us.  With that much time on the road, we’ll start blogging some of the adventures ASAP.