One year ago today we moved out of the house permanently and into The Gump. So, after a year what has the experience taught us and do we have any regrets?
Let’s knock the bad out first, regrets do we have them and what are they? I think the short answer is no, we have no true regrets. There have been peaks and valleys in the last year but no true, long lasting regrets. The biggest valley was caused by the weather in the Pacific Northwest. Incessant rain for months on end is enough to make anyone stir crazy. It’s hard to escape outside and do anything when the rain is far in excess of what is normal for an area.
I think the only other regret we have is our failure to stow the satellite the first time we broke camp after moving out of the house. It was an expensive lesson in the importance of visual reminders when packing the house on get away days.
What We’ve Learned
We truly love one another and more importantly like one another as individuals. If you don’t like the individual your fulltime with, love won’t be enough and the little annoying things we all do will become blown out of proportion. Yes we’ve had disagreements and arguments but we worked through them. Yes, we have days that we drive one another bat crap crazy but we know how to walk away and find something else to do.
The decision to purchase a toy hauler versus a traditional fifth wheel or Class A was the right decision. Having the patio down and fresh air and sunlight streaming through the back door makes all the difference in moods and feeling trapped. The days when the weather doesn’t permit that patio to be extended are days we’ve learned to distract ourselves and to be extra forgiving towards one another. The animals are happier with the patio down too.
We always knew that Pickles was a solar powered bird but what we learned this last year is that the rest of us are far happier when the sun is out and we can bask in it’s rays. Chasing the sun wasn’t part of the first year’s planning but it will be from here on out.
That big smile on Dave’s face is there because the sun actually came out after weeks of never ending rain when we were in Oregon. Oregon taught us the importance of planning for sunny locales while not expiring from heat exhaustion.
We’ve also learned that the big risk we took by starting fulltiming when we did was completely worth it. Yes, it’s been as expensive as living in a sticks and bricks but the entire family is healthier. Dave and I have both lost weight and are stronger. More importantly, we gave Wally the best possible last year of his life. He got to play in snow and bask in the snow. The risk extended his life and allowed him to live not just exist.
Where We’ve Been
We have slept in eleven states this year, well not counting Dave’s business trip. We prefer some states over others, not just for their scenery but the people we’ve met along the way. South Dakota is by far our favorite place. Not only is it always gorgeous but the people are welcoming and friendly.
The Southwest is hot and dry and we were there in the summer. Even coming from Phoenix, we’ve learned that living in a metal box means that it will be a challenge to keep cool. Reflextix only goes so far in keeping things cool and the trade off is too great for us (living in darkness to keep cool is not worth it). However, New Mexico is truly beautiful and we will return in cooler temperatures.
We have spent nights in private campgrounds, state parks, and Indian casinos. We have been at bare bone campgrounds and have stayed at high end resorts. We have learned not to judge potential campsites solely on their satellite image, if we had we would have missed one of our favorite stops this year on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Even the best site can be ruined by other campers and campground personnel.
Leroy has had the most adventurous life a turtle could ask for and she too agrees that following the sun is far preferable than cold weather. She is healthy, happy, and thriving. Her improvised tank has served her well over the last year. By far, Leroy’s favorite location so far has been Minnesota. The weather cooperated and allowed her to bask in the sun as she pleased.
The most magical spot of the year we couldn’t camp unfortunately. We took a day trip to Blue Water Lake State Park in New Mexico to test the cell signal. There was zero connectivity but it was still a magical trip. The park is home to wild horses and they are beautiful. We will be back someday to camp here. The inner eight year old in me cannot pass up the opportunity to spend time with wild horses.
What does the future hold? We don’t know but we know we are excited for the future.
The road ahead is clear and bright. Fireball can never replace Wally but she has added her own brand of chaos and love to the family. She’s learned to ride in Lana like a trooper and is happy with new smells and places to explore.
We have enjoyed life in the last year. We are no longer hiding in our house from the extreme heat. We are at peace with the choices we have made. Our marriage is stronger and we have made memories we would not have made otherwise.
The future holds more adventure, more glorious sunrises and sunsets, and more love. This year we will hike more and see new places. We shall make new memories and explore new places.