Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mountains in the Mirror- A New Chapter Unfolds

I looked in my rearview mirror and there they were--the blue ridge mountains. The very same mountains that were in our rear view mirror to the exact date four years ago as we left North Carolina to explore our country through the eyes of nomads. 
A very familiar sight once again, but this time everything is different.

This time, we are headed for the first time since we left to an actual destination. One where we leave the open road and our wandering comes to an end.

Wow. So many emotions hit just typing those very words. Flashes of our adventure come to mind and all the memories made each year--potlucks with friends, laughter around campfires, exploring each beautiful state. I still can't believe it has been four years of RV travel. The time has flown.

Those bittersweet feelings of moving on to a new adventure overtook me as the open road lay before me and I saw the last of the foothills disappear in my mirror. I found my car once again heading in the (all too familiar) southward direction. This stay. I felt a lump in my throat.

Travel has been beautiful, chaotic, eye-opening, difficult, inspiring and truly indescribable. It was an experience that took hold of each one of us at different stages of the journey. It took us all out of our comfort zones and immersed us into a life so few get to experience. Not only did we see so much of our beautiful country, but we entered the world of roadschooling and learned what tiny living is all about. It challenged us. It made us all reflect on life a bit differently than before. And I know there's so much we will miss. I found I had to remind myself what I always tell the kids, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Seasons come and seasons go and for this next season we will be entering a new kind of adventure--a new place to call home and one that we've never even seen before now. And not one we would have chosen on our own, but one that chose us. We open our arms and, as a family, say "yes" to this new chapter. We say yes to change and, while it is scary, we are all ready to some degree to say good-bye to the open road. (Maybe some of us more than others.)

Travel, after many years of constant change and figuring out life week in and week out, can also make one weary at times. Settling down gives us new opportunities and new experiences that the road does not.

So, where does our new chapter begin?

The unlikeliest of places--Naples, Florida.

A place where Tom is taking his career to a new place and we as a family can move on with some much needed stability for a while.

Tyler has already landed a paid internship at an insurance company and has hopes to pursue and realize his own goals and dreams which are right around the corner. His first goal of course is getting his wheels of independence--a car.

Haley, well, she's excited about making new friends and moving into a home, which really means having her own room. The RV sure has taught us appreciation for personal space.

Little Jonathan is up for any adventure these days as he loves life and pretty much everything.

And, for me, well I'm not sure just yet. I'll miss our crazy life of travel, there's no doubt about that. Maybe I can pursue several of the many hobbies I have and couldn't easily pursue on the road. And, as some of you know, I used to play alot of golf. I hear they might have a few nice golf courses down in Naples. ;-) It's a time to breathe, reflect and maybe finally finish the book about our crazy travels.

So for our four year nomadiversary, we will say good-bye to our RV, the open road and spend the weekend moving into a home. A real home. One that doesn't move.

We won't forget the memories we made these years on the road, the family and friends we spent time with along the way and the adventures that made us feel so alive.

But, FOR NOW, with open hearts and minds we say farewell to the road and begin writing our new chapter.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Time to Say Good-bye

Orlando has been "home" for two months and this week we finally said good-bye. Good-bye to friends. Good-bye to perfect sunny days under the palm trees. Good-bye to Mickey and his friends.

There is something bittersweet about saying good-bye to a place we've made our home for a while. It is kind of sad to leave. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun, but it kind of feels like we had just arrived! We arrived mid March as the winter season was winding down. We never really find ourselves in the places where we should be in the correct seasons. We could write the book of "not to dos" on the road. After all, we are a family spent two summers (not winters) in Florida. Yes, two. As if we didn't learn our lesson the first time, we did it a second. Anyway, regardless, we had fun and better late than never, but the campground started emptying and the temperatures were steadily warming up. So that was our cue, it was time to go.

We came down excited about spending time with old friends and making memories and we did just that, but have also been blessed with deepening friendships and making new friends to share in this nomadic life.

I can't express how needed this time down here was for us, especially me. A time to remind ourselves why we travel and reconnect with others who share very similar passions. It breathes new life into us as we come off an otherwise difficult start to the year--one of heartbreak and tragedy. Life isn't always roses and rainbows and it is a reminder why shaping our life is always our ultimate goal regardless of where we travel. Sometimes the important things need to be kept in perspective.

So to end our time here this past week we did several special things. It all started kicking off Tom's birthday. We couldn't hit Epcot without experiencing a small taste of eating and, of course, drinking around the world at Epcot's World Showcase. It started off with a scrumptious avacodo margarita (I know it doesn't sound appetizing, but it was!). This came highly recommended and now I see why. It can be found in Mexico at the famous little bar inside the pyramid "La Cava del Tequila". And, without naming every drink, we'll just say the rest of the night was a lot of fun and sharing it with some awesome nomadic friends made it that much better. 

Then on Tom's actual birthday, he opted for some nature chasing. It ended finding a hidden paradise about 45 minutes away where we tubed and swam in crystal clear spring water. Rock springs at Kelly Park is a really unique spring with a beautiful, tropical flowing tubing area from springhead to pool. It's also an easy 45 minute ride just north of Orlando. If you follow our blog, then you know we are a sucker for Florida springs--the real Florida. We explored quite a few the last couple of years as our travels had us in Florida more often than not. Each spring is unique, refreshing and unfortunately (or shall I say fortunately for us) a side of Florida very few people advertise. I think there are over 200 springs in the state, so we left plenty to explore for our next time here. And, trust me, we will.

Later that week we took our last ride on Avatar. Yes, I have to mention Disney once more, but, honestly, if you haven't visited the magical world of Pandora at the Animal Kingdom, then you should. It's pretty special. And, that ride, indescribable. Luckily, I scored Fast Passes that very day which are almost impossible to get. It kind of felt like I had won the lottery and sure beat having to wait in line for 120 minutes. Although, for this ride I would have!!

Our time here ended with a festive Cinco de Mayo celebration with new friends complete with delicious mexican food, margaritas, laughter around the campfire and an early birthday celebration for Tyler. 

We begin this new leg of our journey with hopeful travel plans this summer and we don't even know what they all are yet, but one thing we do know is we will share as they unfold. For now, good-bye to central Florida and hello to new adventures.