As I look back at our last five months on the road, I realize that this has been one of the absolute best experiences of my life. There are things that can be difficult about living on the road, but it is all so worth it. And the things that started off as difficult have often become routine and easy. Some of my favorite aspects of our travels so far:
- I am learning every day. And I’m learning new things – about the weather, geology, history, about small towns and different cultures, about my limits and my abilities, about my family and the family of plants and animals that share our home. This is undeniably one of the best things about this trip and something that I can easily translate into life off the road. Traveling the way we do makes this automatic, but with enough forethought and the right priorities, this is something we can continue to do once we’ve found a place to call home.
- Living outside. Our default is being outside. On certain days, we do get inside for more than a couple of minutes, but more days than not, we’re outside the entire day and night. There is no better way to learn about nature and get in touch with the out-of-doors than to simply live in it.
- Spending time with my family. I get to spend every day, every single day, with my son and husband. While there are moments that I’d love to get away and spend an evening by myself or with a friend, this is rare. I am so, so lucky to have this time to spend with Van and Alan. And not just any time, but time exploring, learning new things, and discovering our capabilities. This is so different from what we were used to – brief time together in the evening before I went back to work after Van went to bed and time together on the weekend, often to run errands. These are the most important people in the world to me – I want more than token moments with them.
- Living with less. I’ve mentioned this in past posts, but this bears repeating. This type of traveling has been a great education in true needs. We really need so little, and living with less makes life much simpler and frees up time, money, and effort to focus on the important things in life – and not stuff. Because that is all it really is – stuff. Stuff that clogs our time and robs us of the energy to devote to the things that would really bring us lasting joy.
- Freedom. We have the freedom to see what we want to see, go where we want to go, and stop and stay a while when we’re so inclined. We’re not on any hard and fast timeline, which makes route planning much more relaxing and enables us to really enjoy the places we are since we don’t have to rush away to something else before a flight, a work day, or another obligation. This freedom is tempered by finances, but we’re lucky that we tend to prefer the cheap or free things anyways.
- Hiking frequently. I love to hike – love it. We tried to do it as much as we could when we lived in the DC area, but unfortunately, with work and our living locations, it was not nearly as often as we would have liked. Now we get to hike all the time. It’s impractical to plan to hike every day given that want to see and do a diversity of things, but hiking frequently is a definite must and makes me feel so much healthier and happier. I’ve always known that the recipe of a happier Stacey is simple – more time outdoors and more time hiking. Well, given the amount of both I’ve had lately, it’s no wonder that I’ve been so happy.
But, it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and kittens. There are challenges and situations that make me want to pack it in from time to time. Living outside is awesome – most of the time. But when it’s wet and chilly for days on in, it’s not so fun. It’s also not so fun when it’s hot, hot, hot with no shade in sight for days at a time. It’s in moments like these where I truly understand why shelter is a basic human need and I appreciate the comfort and security of four walls and a roof. And while living with less has been a great education and something I intend to continue, I am so, so excited to live with a real kitchen again. And a real bathroom, with running water and a bathtub.
While the vast, vast majority of folks we’ve encountered have been lovely and friendly, one run-in with a creepy guy and his pit bull over which he had zero control was enough to send my mind to all the places it shouldn’t go if we want to continue traveling. Laying in the tent and focusing on how vulnerable we are is less than productive. Never mind that with vulnerability comes growth, vulnerability can also breed anxiety, discontent, and sleepless nights.
But even after some sleepless nights, whether caused by the puddle developing under our tent or a creepster, we inevitably find ourselves in a brand new situation, look at each other, and share our most frequent refrain, “This. This is why we travel!” We say it frequently enough to know that this is the right path for us right now. Here’s to five months on the road and more to come. How many more? Stay tuned…