Do We think About Stopping?

I got a very nice comment in the blog post the other day that mentioned they were worried that we might be thinking about quitting after Amazon, and I found that interesting and thought I would take a few minutes to talk about it.  We do get the question somewhat frequently, especially when the blog gets a bit whiny, and the short answer to the question is “Not really”.  That answer is truthful, but it also surprises me because I tend to be a person who thinks through everything.  But when I start down that path, I truly can’t picture where we would be, and when my brain hits that brick wall I just stop thinking about it.

Part of the problem I think is we still don’t have a place we want to be.  I’ve talked about this quite a bit here and there, but probably should lay the scenario out again.  We have three kids in three states.  We have Lee’s parents, my dad and brother  in a fourth, and my sister and mom live in a fifth.  As much as I would like to live near any of them, how would we pick one? Of course it would make the most sense to pick a part of the country we really like and live there, but there’s a couple of problems with that scenario.  First we haven’t seen everyplace we want to see yet. Before becoming a full timer, I wouldn’t have thought twice about that, but now I know how varied the country really is, and if I pick a place, what if I was missing out on someplace really great I would like better?  That’s new for me by the way, as I have spent a lifetime of settling for the best I could do, but I don’t feel like I need to do that now.  Plus Lee has never been a person who settled easily, and he really wouldn’t want to do that now.

The second reason is the weather.  We don’t need absolutely perfect weather wherever we go all the time, but we have gotten spoiled living this life. When I think about places I have loved in the winter (Apache Junction, Tampa, or San Antonio), it’s impossible for my mind not  to immediately think about how hot those places are in the summer.  Same thing with places up north we enjoy in the summer.  We loved Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming, but how we would deal with the rain and snow?  Granted, weather is less of an issue when you live in a sticks and bricks home, but it would still be a difficult thing to give up and the place would need to be pretty special.

One thing I can actually picture is having a regular job again, although the thought of getting up every morning, putting on dress clothes, and driving in rush hour traffic to work isn’t a pleasant one. The work itself is something I think about, but the other parts, the politics, long hours, and the constant pressure are things that I simply do not miss.  That’s pretty weird, because I just took for granted that is how life had to be before this, but obviously I have lived another way for quite some time now.

And all of those things aside I really can’t picture stopping because of Lee.  He absolutely loves this lifestyle and isn’t even close to being ready to being done. I couldn’t take this lifestyle away from him without a pretty compelling reason, and so far I haven’t run across one. He would stop for me if I absolutely hated it, there isn’t a doubt in my mind about that, but I don’t hate it, and don’t see myself feeling that way any time soon.

Because here’s the thing: it’s just my life.  We have good days and bad days.  We get on each others nerves and make each other happy.  We are in beautiful places sometimes and other times are in not so nice places.  We have bad weather, arguments about money, and the occasional health concerns.  We worry about politics, our kids, our parents, and the environment as the occasion arises.  Sometimes we are bored, sometimes we are ecstatic, but most of the time we are just living our lives.  And on balance, for me, it is much more interesting and fulfilling than the life I used to live. I don’t know about Lee.  I think he’s happier, although sometimes it is hard to tell since he generally has a low level of dissatisfaction with life in general. (I’ve been less unhappy for longer periods of time doing this than I have ever been in my life. – Lee) A lot of creative people are like that though, and I try not to take it personally.  I figure if he’s not outright miserable, it’s a win.

You might be wondering what my old life was like if I find this more enjoyable, and that is a fair question.  I think the best way to describe it was a big ball of stress.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say my old life was killing me, but I was far enough gone that I had no idea how much stress there was until it was lifted.  I feel lighter and more hopeful.  I have more energy, more creativity, and am happier.  These are not small things.  There is absolutely nothing that I gave up in the way of material possession or financial means that comes close to these new feelings I am experiencing.  Truly…nothing. Maybe that sounds unbelievable to you.  I wouldn’t have believed it myself frankly.  I didn’t know I was capable of being like this. But here I am, and although I will probably never be capable of the free and easy spirit that many people I admire have, this isn’t so bad, considering where I started.

And that’s why I really don’t think about stopping.  Certainly if I am having a particularly bad day my mind starts to travel down that path, and then like I said, hits the brick wall of all those factors. That doesn’t mean that I live in denial that sooner or later something may drive us from the road.  Situations and people change, and I am certainly open to the likely possibility that it could happen.  But I also don’t feel there is any benefit to borrowing trouble, and that in and of itself shows how much I have changed.  For a long time I was a person who actively thought about what could go wrong and spent a ton of time obsessing about it.  Somehow, and I honestly have no idea how I got here, I have given myself permission to just exist in the moment. For the record, it’s pretty awesome.


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

 

First Wedding Anniversary on the Road

Today is our 26th wedding anniversary, but our first on the road.  So if you will indulge me, I thought I would take a few minutes to write the story of us, and a love letter to my husband.  I am truly grateful to have married this man and grateful for the life we have created together and I wanted to celebrate that.

Lee and I met when he was 14 and I was 16.  We were both working at our first job as busboys in a nice restaurant on the west side of Columbus.  I had started there a few weeks before Lee and was in the process of bending over a long table and removing a tablecloth when we were introduced.  So the first thing he saw was my tush, which thankfully is one of my better features, and apparently it made an impression!  I was a pretty awkward 16-year-old.  I had a car (a 20-year-old yellow VW bug) so you know I thought I was cool, but I was really uncertain about everything in life.  In walks this kid who was like no one I had ever met.  He wore a trench coat and a fedora and was completely fascinated with everything British.  He exuded a confidence well beyond his years and was funny and kind.  I’ve seriously never met anyone like him then or since.  His story is that he fell in love with me the moment he met me.  For years I didn’t believe it, but the best man at our wedding many years later did verify that in school Lee had always said he had already met the girl he was going to marry and knew it the moment he saw her. I on the other hand took quite awhile to catch up.  We were friends for years, even after we both left the job and he moved to a different part of Columbus and eventually I went off to college, but friends who rarely saw each other.  I spent the next 4 years dating a series of not so great guys and Lee had a serious relationship and ultimately joined the Air Force right out of high school.  A two-year age difference is a large one through the high school years and certainly through the college ones so the timing was never right for us.

Lee had always wanted to live in England, and had the opportunity in the Air Force to do a tour at RAF Chicksands, an Air Force base about an hour outside of London.  I went to college, left college, got engaged, broke the engagement, and was generally aimless when Lee came back to the states.  So now he is 20 and I am 22 and we reconnect with each other.  Finally the timing was right and at a time when we were both looking for purpose we re-found each other.  So we went on a real date…our first and it was to Red Lobster. Now, I know some people stick up their nose at Red Lobster, but I will forever love them because that’s the night I fell in love with Lee.  Here we were, sitting across from each other, and it was awkward because we didn’t really know each other because we had been apart for so long, when Lee picked up the paper napkin wrap that hold the napkin and silverware together, and did 20 minutes on why the paper napkin rings were unnecessary.  I had not laughed that hard ever…truly…tears were streaming down my face…and in that 20 minutes I fell in love.  Ladies, take note.  Looks fade, money gets spent, but the ability to make someone laugh lasts forever.   So we slept together that night (and that was really good) and moved in together a week later.  We’ve never been apart since.

I was ready to get going with my life and start my family.  Lee was happy to be with me finally after all these years and was happy to go along with whatever I wanted.  So we started to plan the wedding and ended up getting pregnant right away.  Hence the February anniversary.  These days people get married before, during, and after their first pregnancy but back then it still had a stigma (at least in small town Ohio) so we moved up the wedding so I could do it while I had a relatively small belly.  It was a pretty stressful affair.  Everyone was worried we were too young, everyone was sure it wouldn’t last (I heard later many folks gave us 6 months at the wedding), and it was complicated by the fact that my parents had just gotten a very messy divorce and their relationship was still pretty raw.  But despite all that, I got the wedding that I had envisioned as a girl and if it wasn’t perfect I will never forget the look on his face as I walked down the aisle.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Wedding Picture

Wedding Picture

 

So we had Kyrston, and then Katy.  How can I talk about those early years? Well we had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  But we loved each other and more importantly we were friends.  There were many times the friendship saved the marriage, because I couldn’t walk away from my best friend in the whole world.  I often tell young couples that years 1,3,7, and 10 were the toughest…after that things settled down and it really is true.  Lee got a really great job in the production field he had always dreamed of working in, we rented a house on a farm from my father which was great for the girls, we had Kay, and eventually after years of struggling financially were able to buy our first home.  It was not easy; Lee traveled a lot for work and it turned out I was not so good at being alone, but there were many wonderful moments in those years.  I loved being a mother…I don’t know how good I was at it, but I felt fulfilled by the family I created and I fiercely protected it. Lee was always 100% committed.  Thinking back on how I was all over the place during that time, I really appreciate the fact that he stayed.  Lesser men might have walked away, but he loved me and our girls and he filled our life the best he could with that love and laughter.    As serious as things got, he could always make me laugh and there were many times the laughter got me through.

So we were going along living our life and then things got interesting.  I always worked, but at whatever job had good benefits and flexible hours so I never really felt fulfilled professionally.  Then the company I worked for went through a major merger and a job opportunity presented itself.  I was completely not qualified and it would require moving to the Northeast, but I applied …sure I wouldn’t get the job.  Turns out because of the chaos in the company only 4 people applied and I actually got the business analyst position.  When I went home to talk to Lee about it, I was sure he wouldn’t want to leave Columbus.  Our family was there, our home (which he loved) was there, and he had a good position with a production company.  What he did say will tell you everything about Lee you ever need to know.  He looked at me and said, “I think you should take the job.  I’ve had my chance and now it’s your turn.” I was and still am completely humbled by his generosity.  His willingness to give up everything, so I could have a shot at a profession was amazing.  So he gave up his job, we moved to New Hampshire and started a new life together.  He became the primary care giver to our kids and I worked long hours and traveled all over the country.  I have to say he was better at raising the kids than I ever was, but it was still tough as not many couples during this time period had reversed roles.  This is pretty commonplace now and I firmly stand by the fact that overall it was great for the kids.  They got to experience primary parenting by both of us for large chunks of their lives and hopefully it will make them more well-rounded individuals.

The next 13 years were really great.  After some initial struggles, we really hit our stride.  Lee started a non-profit television station from nothing, and I fulfilled my dream to get my bachelors and my master’s degree and saw multiple promotions at my job.   The girls made their way through their teen years…and as any parent knows who has survived those years: it ain’t easy. But overall I think we did an OK job.  One kid left, then another, and suddenly, with only one left in the house, we were looking at what life would look like without children.  We were finally making some real money and wondering what things would look like in the future.  So, that’s where the blog picks up..and I won’t repeat here what I have already said in those posts, but I will say if it wasn’t for Lee this wouldn’t be my life.  I would never have had the vision or the courage to completely turn things upside down and start this adventure.  He brings those things to our marriage and I am so incredibly grateful to him for it. Plus he can still kiss me in a way which makes me tingle which is a really good thing 🙂 And he makes me laugh…oh, how he makes me laugh…

Having an anniversary in February to this point has not been that fun.  Not much you can do in the northeast during the winter time.  So today we went  to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in this new life by going down to the beach together.  I can’t think of a thing I would rather do to reaffirm our life together.  We weren’t going to eat dinner out, but decided to go to Crabby Bill’s, which was on my list of places to see and had a wonderful dinner for only $50 (including tip).   Lee’s grouper was amazing!!  They had a musician playing live and he was really terrific.  We really enjoyed it.

Musician at Crabby Bill's was amazing

Musician at Crabby Bill’s was amazing

Sitting on the patio at Crabby Bill's

Sitting on the patio at Crabby Bill’s

My sweetheart

My sweetheart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally to honor our marriage I wanted to share some pictures of us on our new adventure.  I can write that we are really, truly happy but  the pictures really say it all.

Me and Lee in front of Looking Glass Waterfall

Looking Glass Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0621

Niagara Falls

DSC01449

Acadia National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan’s Island

Charleston

Charleston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deb and Steves Camper

In Deb and Steve’s camper in Rock Hill

 

Tonight at Indian Rocks Beach

Tonight at Indian Rocks Beach

 

Our feet in the ocean together... The new Lee takes his shoes off and walks in the sand :)

Our feet in the ocean together… “On the Road” Lee takes his shoes off and walks in the sand 🙂

Recipes

Bisquick Oven Fried Chicken 

Simple and absolutely delicious…one of my favorite new recipes I have tried so far 

  • 1 Tbl butter
  • 2/3 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 2-3# chicken
  • 1-1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Melt butter in 13×9 pan in oven
  3. Mix bisquick and spices
  4. Rinse chicken
  5. Coat chicken
  6. Place skin side down in pan
  7. Bake 35 minutes then turn bake an additional 15 minutes

Bisquick Chicken

Bisquick Chicken

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Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  Search Amazon.com here