Well it’s hard to believe, but we’ve been on the road a year already! We left the Keys on December 20th of 2014 and it seems like only yesterday. And what a year it has been – we will have a hard time topping this one I think! Our lives are completely different than they were, and I thought we’d take a few moments to reflect on how life on the road has changed us, lived up to our expectations, and how we feel about continuing on from here. For those of you who love our “stats” recaps, I’m working on that too and you’ll get a run-down on the whole year just after Christmas.
LIFE IS REALLY GOOD!
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but we’re both happier and our stress levels have definitely declined. In large part, this is attributable to the fact that we are no longer working long hours and spending all our free time keeping up with yard work and household chores. But there is also the joy of traveling itself: the beauty of the countryside, the interesting history of a place, the awesome new people we meet. It’s hard to stay unhappy when you can listen to waves lapping while you watch the sun set behind a volcano, or step out your front door into a forest of giant redwoods. You just can’t stay unhappy!
HOW WE’VE CHANGED
Lower stress levels mean that we both have a little more patience and are slower to combust. Which is good, because those quirks your partner has that were so endearing in the first 6 months of dating have the potential to drive you batty when you live life 24/7/365 in about 200 square feet of space. With only one bathroom. Our biggest stressers now are usually unexpected navigational difficulties or breakdowns, and it’s good that we’re more patient with each other since nothing can be more stressful than realizing that the detour you’re being forced to make won’t work for a 30′ long box towing a car which prevents you from backing up. But we have also come to rely on each other more precisely because of those types of situations, and we know that we have each others’ backs. And that feels very good.
For me (Jeanette), some of the biggest changes have been very personal. I am more confident in my driving skills after logging hours behind the wheel of the RV, and I’m also trying to expand my ability to undertake minor repairs so that Eric can concentrate on bringing home the bacon. And speaking of bringing home the bacon, I’m often asked if I miss working or feel “devalued” in my role as Domestic Goddess. In a word, nope! It is certainly true that vacuuming and doing the dishes isn’t quite as satisfying as clearing your desk when the pressure is on, or restoring 5 acres of wetlands. It is a means to an end however, and the reward of life on the road is more than enough for me. [On a related note, Eric is very happy to be able to work and fund our adventures. He might indeed be happy not working too, but for the time being it’s satisfying to be the expedition’s Sugar Daddy.]
I hesitated about including this next bit of personal info, but I feel pretty strongly about it and so have decided to go ahead and share. I began coloring my hair in my late 20’s and the red hair became a part of my identity. In more recent years, it became a way to cover the increasing number of gray hairs on my head and coloring became more about that than about being a “redhead”. Women in America experience constant subtle and some not-so-subtle societal pressures to defy the aging process. We receive constant messages to “stay young” or be devalued. So when we moved into the RV I really struggled with whether to continue the process or not. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to stop coloring my hair. Some of the reasons are practical, but mostly it just seemed like the right time to make the break. Making the decision to sell our house and most of our belongings and to move into and travel in an RV seriously flies in the face of convention and it’s hard for some people to understand. But we were true to our hearts and did what felt right to us. I decided that it was also time to fly in the face of convention with my hair – to start defying the societal pressure to deny the aging process. I won’t lie and say that it was easy, and I was freaking out a bit in the beginning. But as year one draws to a close, I’m really happy with the decision. I like me, and if that includes gray hair then so be it. Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t completely given up the battle against aging, but over the last year I’ve come to appreciate so much more that life is a journey, not a destination. I’m darned lucky that I have lived long enough to have gray hair and wrinkles! They are a part of my journey and I’ve loved where the journey has taken me. So welcome, gray hairs. Let others gaze upon them and wonder about that journey, and know that I don’t give a fig what society thinks. And, on the bright side, I can’t see the wrinkles anymore unless I put on my reading glasses, so there’s that! Whew! Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
WAS IT WORTH IT??
Hells yes it was worth it!! We have had so much fun this first year that I can’t even tell you. I’ve tried to convey some of that wonder and enthusiasm in my blog posts, but I can only just scratch the surface. In a conventional life, there is only so much you can do in 2 weeks of vacation a year but when you live and work on the road, the possibilities for exploration are nearly limitless. We have had the luxury of long visits with friends and family members, some of whom we hadn’t seen in years. We’ve met the most amazing new people along the way, and have seen sights that we will never forget. And we can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner. We can see ourselves continuing to travel for years to come. Many years (I hope!) from now I’ll print out all the pages of this blog and put them in a notebook so that I can flip through and relive all of these wonderful adventures. Whether I can remember that I lived and wrote them or not won’t much matter, because I’ll be amazed either way!
So long year one and welcome, rest of our lives!