Saturday, March 12, 2016

Where We Are, Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Well, we didn’t fall off the face of the planet.  I know, I know…it has been over six months since the last blog, but I can say that we are still here and life is more exciting than ever.  Tom and I apologize to all of you who follow along for the lack of posts and blogs, however this past year came with twists and turns we could have never planned.  We kind of figured our life was less than exciting for those of you craving the travel posts as travel became secondary to everything else.  You know there are only so many pictures you can post of the same beach, the same sandy toes, the same sky…in other words, the same views for almost six months.  

So this year brought many lessons.  The first lesson is that there is a huge difference between living life on the road traveling from place to place in our trailer to simply…living in our trailer.  We were parked outside of the house in Pensacola that we were flipping for half of last year.  It wasn’t glamorous.  Every day we looked out of our front door and instead of seeing a beautiful new landscape, we saw the large house that needed our attention. 
Rather uninspiring really.  A project that should have been completed within a few months was going to take over half of the year.  It was a hindrance to the life on the road we had grown to love.  It was also a serious case of underestimation and maybe a little too much ambition.  The outrageously large project taught us many lessons and, quite frankly, some of them we could have lived without.  
What it did do was allow for us to experience sitting in one place, which did give us a new sense of appreciation for our travels.  It also allowed us to spend long overdue time with the relatives on my side of the family down in Pensacola.  These months were filled with trips to the beach, wonderful family get-togethers, local festivities almost every week, special time with my grandparents, kayaking with dolphins behind our bayou and many other fun moments in between working.  No detour is ever a loss, neither do I believe any detour is by chance. 

The second lesson we learned is that doing the right thing isn’t always easy.  As many of you know, we rescued two dogs from a state park.  We are still fostering them (five months later) and we had no idea what a challenge it would be to find them a home.  All the rescues on the coast and no kill shelters we contacted were full.  There simply aren’t enough people willing to foster and unfortunately adoption isn’t always the first option for most individuals looking for a pet. 
Bonnie and Clyde have pushed their way into our hearts and this first-hand experience has made us realize what a huge problem animal overpopulation really is, especially in the south.  We are still actively seeking a forever home for each of them and teaming up with local rescues that host adoptions events to make this happen.  We would love nothing more than help spreading the word on this endeavor!  

But, above all, what 2015 really brought was a year of relationships for us, a year of making new connections and rekindling old ones, a year of discovering what we were really wanting for 2016. 
Being isolated to one place gave us a taste of what it would be like to live in a sticks and bricks again.  This time with a great sense of family, community and beauty.  And that part did pull at our heart strings.  However, we knew one thing for sure—the travel itch wasn’t fully scratched.  There was so much we hadn’t even discovered or tapped into while traveling. 
There was a whole new idea that there was a community on the road we had never really attempted to connect with yet.  We also realized our biggest challenges on the road really had nothing to do with living on the road or in a trailer.  We had some hurdles of our own to overcome regardless of the lifestyle we were living.  Many of these things we would have never recognized if we hadn’t embarked on this escapade.  So, it seemed 15 states wouldn’t quite be enough for us to permanently end our travels. 

We had a taste of being back on the road as we hit our first Full Time Families Rally in September.  It was perfect timing.  The kids had just been on a summer trip to Maine with their grandparents and they met us in Tennessee to head to the rally that we had all been looking forward to all year.  The setting was Branson, Missouri. 
The rally merged over forty families from all different backgrounds who live this nomadic life.  It had games, field trips, an 80’s prom, campfires, people who were soaking up the moments with the ones they love.  In other words, it was exactly what we needed as a family.  It was a reassurance to us that we weren’t the only ones out there willing to risk so much to find a simpler way of life.  A way to tie in the sense of community to a life of freedom, family and the travel we crave.  This was something we wish we had done MUCH sooner.  Getting plugged in with a rolling community and regular meet-ups gives you that sense of connection that a life on the road can sometimes lack. 
This rally brought about many more meet-ups down in Pensacola as we headed back to finish the big project we had started.  It was pretty special seeing the memories made and life-long relationships starting to form in our small group of nomadic families.

Then, we came to the holidays.  We were almost finished with the house.  We were anticipating the open road ahead with many travel plans.  That’s when the bombshell came.  It was a life defining moment like none other.

We were going to be adding a member to our roll…yes, we were going to have a baby! 

It literally felt like our whole world was turned upside down.  Nothing felt certain anymore.  Questions flooded our minds.  Emotions flooded our hearts.  And, to be quite honest, we questioned everything.  Should we stop traveling for good?  Should we stop traveling for a while?  Could we be happy in a sticks and bricks?  Where do you fit a baby crib in a trailer?  Honey, how much was that large fifth wheel we really loved?  Are we the only crazy ones thinking about doing this with our current lifestyle?  Is this really going to change everything about our life?

So we started to ponder it all.  And, we looked at properties all over (which, as real estate investors, we love to do anyway), but then something happened.  We came to this sense of peace about it all.  It kind of came almost simultaneously to Tom and I that the next steps will work themselves out.  One day at a time is the way to take in all this excitement and things will work themselves out as they always do. 

And, so, maybe the last lesson we learned is that adventures come in many forms.  It is the anticipation of a new chapter, the joy in your child’s face as you tell them they are getting a baby brother or sister for Christmas this year and the thought of all the wonders you will share with this new life you are introducing into our grand world.  Adventure can be found in the endless possibilities and carving out a new way of doing things.  Life really is about taking the path for you, not the one paved for everyone else.  So no matter what, we would embrace the adventure ahead. 

As spring approaches, there will be many changes in store for our family.  I’m happy to say that our bayou bargain is officially under contract and our traveling hasn’t stopped just yet.  I sit here today writing this in Charlotte where our full time travel dream began.  It’s hard not get emotional.  (So I’ll just blame that on pregnancy hormones).  We are visiting our hometown for the first time since leaving it for the open road and reminiscing on what a blur the last couple of years has been for us.

So, not much is for certain, but one thing certainly is.  We have decided to take life one day at a time, travel as we can and remind ourselves to soak up every moment we are given with no guarantee of tomorrow.  But most of all, treat life as the adventure that it is as we welcome a new chapter that God has unfolded before us.