Seventh Year – The Emotional Arc

As I am sitting here having finished our seventh year of full timing, I am remembering the day we departed on this journey. As we left our little town on November 14, 2014, straight from closing on our house of 15 years emotions were high. Exhilaration, loss, and a healthy amount of fear were prevalent as we embarked on arguably the biggest change of our lives. Seven years later I find I have finally settled in. We are experienced full timers now, although I wouldn’t say expert (if there even is such a thing) and although the lifestyle still has its challenges (what life does not?), it fits me like a comfortable pair of jeans. I am proud of us that we made it this far, especially since I gave us a 50/50 chance of making it three years, and I am content to let this be our life until a better option comes along. Nothing is forever, but with three kids in three states this lifestyle is surprisingly suited to spending time with my grandkids. I would love to say I had the forethought seven years ago to know it would turn out this way, but for those who have read along it has definitely been a journey of twists and turns. I don’t know how many of you have read from the beginning, but as a favor if you could drop a note into the comments I would love to hear from you. I can’t express how much your support and encouragement had mattered over the years, so I will simply say thank you.

Let’s talk about 2021. COVID once again had a major impact on our travels. It wasn’t nearly as stressful as the 2020 impact, but we ended up staying in one place for five months while we waiting on our turn to come up for vaccination. Thankfully we were staying near our grandson and we made lemonade as we solidified our bond with him. On our way to see him we were able to travel down the eastern coast and visited several cities we have never been in before. One thing COVID has taught us is to pack as much as you can into the time you have and we stopped in Alexandria, Wilmington (getting our Delaware State sticker), Jamestown, Richmond, Raleigh, and Rock Hill along the way. Our original plan was to stay through the holidays and then head west, but ultimately we decided to wait until we could get vaccinated before moving on. Friends of ours had gotten vaccines in states they were residents of, but I really wanted to get my shot in the arm before headed out.

Life goes on, of course, even if you are staying in one place, and like everyone else we were shook by what happened at the capital building. My company also underwent another round of layoffs and as stressful as this was thankfully I got to keep my job. I should mention that work has been a lifesaver for me because we didn’t have to worry about money during all the COVID stress. Lee’s work in live events really dried up in 2020/2021 but I had a steady revenue stream. It has been stressful though because our group kept getting reorganized. In the last two years I have had 6 different bosses and survived multiple reorganizations. Still I really like what I do and am so glad I made the choice to go back to my former company. No idea what would have happened if I had taken another job. I should also mention that the prospect of losing my job bothers me a lot less than it would have in my old life. Minimal overhead, no debt, and knowing I could work a variety of jobs has given me a peace of mind I never experienced before becoming a full time RVer. That peace is a gift I wouldn’t trade for anything.

We did take advantage of the time, helping our daughter move from an apartment into a house and we explored Hilton Head and Beaumont…both new cities for me. Lee and I also spent some time in therapy. In 2020 we tried virtual therapy and although it was helpful Lee really wanted to see someone in person. This is very difficult since we travel so much, but we were able to find someone in the Charleston area and have some in person visits. I will say it was much harder to find a therapist than I expected, but the trauma of COVID on families and front line workers is real and almost every therapist I called was more than fully booked. I talked to a couple of them and they sounded absolutely exhausted and although apologetic just couldn’t take on anyone else. The person I finally found was nice enough and somewhat helpful but ultimately she wasn’t the greatest fit for us. Still any help is good and by the end of the five months I felt like Lee and I were in a better place. I wrote a post about Impact of Full-timing on my Marriage where I talked a little about the challenges we were facing.

Ultimately we were able to get our first shot March 27 on the day Florida opened to 50 and above and we drove 3 -1/2 hours each way to get it. April 27 we were completely immunized and were finally able to head north. Because our daughter Kat was due to give birth in July, we had to completely change our route and headed towards Minneapolis. Thankfully we had enough time to visit three cities I had never been in before and we had a great time in Nashville, St. Louis, and Kansas City. I think the middle of the country is undervalued and although there weren’t many nature things to do we saw lots of great museums and ate in some cool restaurants.

We ended up staying 6 weeks in Minneapolis, because Elliot was two weeks late and hung on to be born the same day as his cousin Oliver. We had a stressful 8 days while he was in the NICU, but thankfully we were able to be there when he came home and were able to see him somewhat settled. It was extremely difficult for me to leave my daughter, but we needed to head east to see our youngest Kay. Because of COVID we had not been able to see her at school and since Connecticut gets cold early we were on a deadline. This year was all about going from kid to kid (as you can see below) and although we found stuff to do along the way to be honest we missed the west. Lee and I have had lots of conversations about what this lifestyle looks like with three kids in three different places and we are still trying to find our balance.

On the way to Connecticut, we stopped in Shipshewana to get some repair work done and then again in Columbus to see my dad and Lee’s parents. Unfortunately right before we were scheduled to leave we were hit by a drunk driver and had to extend several weeks in order to get our truck fixed. This entire situation could have definitely been much worse but it was incredibly stressful and delayed when we could arrive in the northeast. The schedule again flexed and we gave up spending time in Rhode Island and Cape Cod so we could spend as much time as we could with our daughter Kay. We loved seeing her school and meeting her friends, but a couple weeks in Lee got the news his dad passed away. This is the first loss of a parent for either of us and Lee immediately jumped in the truck and drove back to Columbus.

Once he came back we spent a weekend with our daughter and then we lost power in our campground. We had to rush south so I had power for work and ultimately made it back to Charleston. Overall the year has been exhausting with a variety of family issues and scheduling changes. I am grateful that we were able to see some cool stuff in batches, but we have had to fight the schedule every step of the way to make that happen. I think we both thought that once I got the corporate job we would be able to explore more, but the last two years at least that hasn’t been the case. Still it is better than rushing from one work kamping job to another and I am grateful for the time I have been able to spend with my family.

Next year though we would like to have more balance and finding that is a priority for both of us. We are taking a cruise (Lee’s first) with some friends in February and Lee is actively looking for a work kamping job in a cool area. He is a bit hampered by wanting to have at least some of the weekend off, but if you know of anything please send us an email (camperchronicles @ gmail.com) and let us know.

As always I would like to leave off by saying how grateful we are to spend time with people along the way. Here are some pictures of the folks we were able to connect with and we hope COVID calms down and there are many more of these encounters next year!

Jeremy, Oliver, and Kyrston in matching Christmas PJ’s…so cute!
My sister Wendy and brother-in-law Josh
From left: Alec, Dad, Eddie, Mom, and Jake at my niece’s wedding
Kat and Baby Elliott
Sharon and Dave (so glad we got to see their cottage)
Kelly and Bill who we saw twice this year
Kat and Bert —We saw them twice as well
Our Daughter Kay
Celebrating my Dad’s 75th birthday with Cathy, Wendy, Lee, Don, Jimilea, Susie, Lex, and Eddie.
We went to a high school football game with Susan, Bryan and his parents
To see their daughter Sydney in the flag corp. She was great!
My sister-in-law Patricia and her mom Nanette
Had a wonderful lunch with Ted, who was the best man at our wedding and has been friends with Lee since high school.
So glad we got to see Marissa and her fiancée. I also got to see Elise, Sean, and Ian but didn’t get a picture of that.
I saw my friend Dawn for the first time in 20 years and got to meet her new husband.
Cori and Greg stopped by on their way to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately they missed Lee but I got an awesome birthday cake!! Plus Jack got to spend a ton of time with their dog Tripp who wore him out 🙂

We also saw Lee’s Aunt Dorothy and his cousins Matt, Susan, and Mike . I was definitely falling down on the job those days, but we were really grateful that they took time to see us. Lee spent lots of time with Dede and Denny as well and again no picture.

As I finish this post I have the thought…Oh the Places we will Go and the People we will see rattling around in my head. We did both of those this year despite the craziness of COVID and I look forward to even more of both next year.

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22 thoughts on “Seventh Year – The Emotional Arc

  1. Hi Tracy,
    We have been readers since the beginning and have enjoyed and learned from your blog. I believe we were at the same RV Dreams Rally as you, way back when, and have been on the road almost six years. Safe and happy travels to you in the future.
    Tom and Mary Ann

  2. Hi Tracy,
    I started sometime after the beet harvest and Christmas tree job but before the first camp host job in Oregon. We are downsizing and getting the house ready to sell and start our next chapter this coming spring. Like Lee I love a good pie. Safe travels

  3. One of the best things that we love about full time living/traveling is the flexibility to see our kids and family often! I see you like that too! Also meeting up with all our new found buddies that share our passion! Love you guys!!!

  4. I have enjoyed following along on your continued journey and life style. Ironically, I discovered your book/blogs during this past year and it was a good way to escape vicariously and explore cool places. I had plans to camp in state parks in the Carolinas and Georgia but unfortunately my father passed away in September and camping plans are on hold until 2022. I love how you use old school maps and plan your routes to find interesting places to visit instead of taking the quickest and most direct route. If you’re in the Carolinas for the winter, maybe we will cross paths.

  5. New reader, greatly appreciate your frank and honest accounting of your journey! Previously camped with a pop-up, have been saving and planning for years and finally purchased a Class C. Just beginning our journey but your accounting has inspired us. Thank you and by the way your grandchildren are adorable!!

  6. I have been reading every post since 2016. My husband and I are not much older than your eldest (we are 35 and 38, respectively) and we recently sold our RV (after living in it for 5 years) and moved back into an apartment. But I still cherish my “internet RV family”, of which I consider you to be part of, even though I don’t know you. Thank you for writing about your life. Although our lives are different, and we are different generations in age, I find your writing to be inspiring and interesting. I always look forward to your emails in my inbox. Keep having adventures out there!

    • Thank you so much Sara I really appreciate that. Really I know the younger generation of RVERS (wow that makes sound old) has all kind of people their age to follow. It’s nice that what I say resonates regardless of the age. Enjoy the new chapter in the life. The road will still be here if you ever want to try it again ❤️

  7. We’ve been on board since the beginning, having met you at the rv-dreams seminar in TN. Hard to believe the years have gone by so swiftly. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  8. I can’t quite remember when I started following along, but I went back and covered the years that I missed. I have truly enjoyed reading of your journey. We once thought of full timing but that dream has faded. However we do love to travel and I love reading of your explorations and adding some of the stops to our plans! Thank you for covering both highs and lows as it gives a much more accurate picture of what any travel is all about. Your blog is educational and entertaining!! I look forward to read where you take us next! Safe travels and Happy Holidays!

  9. I think I started following along about the time of your first RV Dreams Rally. I was on the RV Dreams forum and Heard & Linda are the people responsible for making us believe we could do this full time living. We have been full time since November 2012. I also follow Bill & Kelly as was happy to have a brief meeting with them this summer in Pennsylvania when we found we were in the same campground. Hoping to meet up with you guys as well one day. I love your blogs, so thanks for sharing. I also do a blog but mostly just for family and friends and I’m always behind with it, ha!!ha!!

  10. Been following you two for many years. Not sure how long. I am a part time winter traveler and my wife and I traveled together the first couple years and then she decided to stay home and I travel the winter months to Arizona BLM land with my dog Yuma. We are retired and been married 55+ years. It has worked out the last six years and I think we both enjoy the time apart living independently. I understand the fun and the stress of living on the road and happy to see you two have figured out the financial stress of living on the road. Many are not so successful. Continue to enjoy the adventure.

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