April 1, 2022 marked one year on the road. In some ways it seems like a lifetime has passed. Our lives completely changed practically overnight (in real time it was 6 weeks) and we have explored some pretty amazing places in the last year. Writing this post is bittersweet. What if we didn’t do this? I think of all the places, experiences, and people we would have missed out on.
Instead of a recap of the last year I want to approach this one a bit differently. I’ll start out by announcing, starting with this post and going forward I’ll be joined by my partner in life, Shane. He will be contributing his thoughts, photos, and musings along with my own.
After a year on the road I mostly feel immense gratitude for this opportunity. The people you meet, the new places, the peace and solitude, all make this lifestyle special. Being in nature every day is something I hold dear to my heart. It brings me such serenity to be living in and with it all around.
There are times I feel ungrounded, unable to make decisions, and stressed wondering where we will park it next. But then I find these great spots and some are hard to leave. It’s all part of the journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I love our nomadic lifestyle. In many ways I’ve always been drawn to living this way. The constant change of scenery is such a plus. You are never bored because there is always something new. It keeps me fully living in the moment. I’m often surprised by the joy I find in the little things. The gentle breeze on my face, the distant call of a bird, a beautiful sunset, or the complete silence of a national forest.
This lifestyle takes work and courage, pushing past your comfort zone. But that is also what makes it so wonderful. I am truly happy and I hope to continue this journey for as long as we can.
There is much more I could say but instead I’ll let Shane give you his take on things.
Has it been a year already?! Wow, it’s almost hard to believe it’s been that long since we made the difficult decision to completely uproot our lives, wipe the slate clean and start anew.
Those were dark days for me, personally and professionally; being trapped in a toxic living situation, having to close down my business of 21 years, and venturing into the unknown were really tough hurdles to overcome. I recall the first night in the rig, lying awake at 3 AM thinking “so this is what it comes down to.” It was probably one of the most negative times in my life.
Fortunately, brighter days were ahead. You have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. Much like a newborn calf, we were wobbly at first, but eventually found the strength to stand on our own. Slowly but surely, our new lives started to unfold in pleasant and unexpected ways. Ironically, the very hardships we endured are what enabled the amazing lifestyle we live today.
It can be difficult to describe how awesome it is. Amy and I have always had a passion for adventure and exploration, but living a “normal” life (i.e. stationary) is not conducive to this sort of activity on a regular basis. Previously, we were limited by being tied to one physical location due to the constraints of my brick and mortar business. With those out of the way, we are now free to roam as we see fit.
While living at the cabin, we were inspired by the remote location and beautiful surroundings. That place instilled a desire to minimize our impact and live off grid. Letting it go has allowed us to fulfill our dream of self-sustainability with a minimal footprint.
The process did not come without its price; we had to let go of most of our material things and the sense of security that comes with having the normal lifestyle everyone is accustomed to. For us, those were fairly easy, but I would venture it is not for everyone.
Making money on the road can be difficult as well. Suffice it to say that, so far, we are doing this on a shoestring. Expenses have been cut to the bone, and we don’t have much discretionary income to use for dining or entertainment. And yet, I somehow find myself getting fat these days because of Amy’s exceptional culinary skills and the delicious and nutritious meals she makes for us,
The biggest drawback is being away from family and friends. Nice weather and surroundings are a decent foil for distance from loved ones, but we find ourselves missing them the most, by far more than the stuff we had to leave behind. There is some truth to the old saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” and, if anything, we now cherish those relationships more than ever. I know we are certainly looking forward to good times with those we hold close once again.
All in all, it has been an amazing journey, yet one that is still in it’s infancy. After a year, we’ve pretty much got it down to a science. The living space is small, but provides everything we need. We live simply and sustainably. The lifestyle has tested the strength of our relationship and we are stronger because of it. We are loving this lifestyle, I don’t see us doing anything else for the foreseeable future,
I am thankful every day for my family, friends, and Amy, the best co-pilot in life I could ask for. And, of course, our faithful canine companion Josie the Boxer, who reminds us every day how big our bed really is once she gets out of it. One year under our belts, and looking forward to many, many more!
A Few Stats
Indiana, Michigan (both lower and upper Peninsula), Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida
Total costs of camping:
Total costs of fuel:
Comparison of cost – 1st 6 months vs. 2nd 6 months:
1st 6 months – Fuel $2269 & Camping $2177
2nd 6 months – Fuel $3097 & Camping $196
Campground Totals by Type
Paid/electric sites – 13 total
Paid/primitive sites – 11 total
Free/boondocking – 18 total
Family/friends – 9 total
Phase I: April, May, June 2021 “Getting Our Feet Wet” – Spent this time in Indiana and southern Michigan near family and friends.
Phase II: July, August, September 2021 “Out of the Nest/Taking off the Training Wheels” – This was spent in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Phase III: October, November, December 2021 “Lithium/Solar/Toad” – Family time in southern Michigan, Indiana, and headed south for the winter.
Phase IV: January, February, March 2021 “Boondocking as Snow Birds” – Spent the winter months in Florida.
Favorite Camping Spots
Just a few as there were many we loved.
Portage Bay in the UP of Michigan. This primitive campground is right on Lake Michigan and our site had direct access to our very own private beach area. Quiet, very few people, with cell service, and $15/night.
Uhwarrie National Forest in North Carolina. A boondocking spot on the top of a mountain. Spacious spot, quiet, no one else around, with access to off road trails, and $0/night.
Green Road Dispersed Camping in Michigan. Established boondocking spots within 2 miles of Lake Michigan. Quiet, remote, no one else around, very large spot, and $0/night.
Things We’ve Learned
I’ve learned to let go of the need to control things. The desire for things to go a certain way. Because inevitably things WILL NOT go as planned or the way you want them to go. This is life in general but being on the road you have to expect it even more. I still remember being in a bad mood for the better part of an afternoon once in the UP of Michigan. All over not getting the “primo” spot I really wanted. (Later we ended up with that spot.) I look back now and realize how silly that was. I’ve learned sometimes the universe has other plans in mind. When we learn to relinquish control sometimes the most amazing things happen completely by accident.
Letting go of expectations and control, adapting to whatever circumstances come your way, and enjoying the simple moments along the way. This is my main takeaway from the last year on the road.
The Biggest Disappointment
Trash! Plain and simple, it’s been disconcerting to see trash pretty much everywhere we go. In the campgrounds, next to trashcans, on forest roads, in lakes, streams, rivers, and on trails. Sometimes there is so much we couldn’t possibly pick it all up without bringing a couple of large trash bags with us. I cannot speak for other countries, other than Canada. Canada does NOT have this problem, at least where we’ve been (before we hit the road in the RV). But America seriously, what is wrong with you. I realize not everyone litters but for those that do – just stop it already. It’s sad we have this beautiful country and yet some assholes trash it with no regard whatsoever. In a national forest in Florida, I noticed people took the time to place their aluminum cans upside down on a plant branch. It’s like a game to them.
For all the beauty we see, it really disturbs me to see trash in our natural and protected areas.
Leave it better than you found it! Please!
And finally Ralphie when we first found him in 2021 and Ralphie now in 2022, 1 year later!
*A special thanks to Shane for many of the above photos.