Although it may not make the greatest reading material, for my own peace of mind I need to record some thoughts about how we got to this point, while the memories are still fairly clear. It seems that we’ve been so busy adjusting to our new lifestyle that we haven’t had much time to make journal entries, and I don’t want to forget how it felt to make the changes we made.
I think the seed of full-time RVing was actually planted for me when my parents, Eugene and Estelle Courtney, sold their house and belongings and started traveling in their 5th wheel camper in the 1980s. They did it for only a year or maybe two, but they seemed to have some really great times. I was busy with a profession and young children and didn’t process in my mind that some day I might want to do the same thing.
Fast-forward to 2009 when my Dad, the last surviving member of my nuclear family, passed away. Both my siblings succumbed to cancer in their fifties and never got the chance to enjoy retirement. My Mom had also died of cancer shortly after her 70th birthday. In addition, we had many friends and extended family members suffering with life-altering, and in some cases life-threatening, health issues. These losses and health concerns, I think, had quite an affect on my priorities, a mindset which was shared by my husband Wayne. Retirement at the earliest possible date became our goal.
As we switched from boating to camping as our hobby, our plan for retirement became increasingly clear. Our hobby could be our lifestyle. In a nutshell, we purchased our rig, I closed my appraisal business, we got rid of our “stuff”, Wayne left his job, and we were on our way.
We had tried to envision many times how it would feel at the actual moment when we would leave our St Louis area children and grandchildren and our home of 9 years behind and head out on the open road for the first time. The key word here is “tried”. When the moment came, and we pulled out of the driveway and watched our house disappear behind us, I was completely blind-sided by the flood of emotions that hit me. I think I cried for the first hour as we were driving out of St Louis. It wasn’t really sadness, although I’m sure there was some of that too. It included so many emotions, I couldn’t find words then or now to describe it. I just had to let them all run through me and indulge the rush of feelings. Wayne was very supportive, but I don’t think he could quite understand it either. Eventually, I was able to put the emotions behind me and switch my focus forward to the adventure that lay ahead of us.
The New Normal
Now, as we approach the 7-week anniversary of that first day on the road, we are feeling completely at home in our “little house”. Wayne had a month to enjoy the non-working life and is now in his wage-earner phase at Amazon. The dogs, or “the boys” as we usually refer to them, have adjusted nicely and now enjoy, actually insist, on their daily long walks. I find my days full as well as fulfilling and wonder how I ever had the time or desire to work 🙂
One of my favorite things now is the view through the picture window over the couch in the rear living room of our House. I’ve made a project of taking a picture at each of our camp sites. I call them my picture-window pictures – PWPs. (I’m learning to appreciate the simple things, I guess!)
This PWP is Canal Campground at Barkley Lake in western Kentucky. You can see the lake in the background. It was particularly enjoyable to me, because I was born in Kentucky, and I have wonderful memories of this lake from my childhood. It was the perfect full-circle experience for me to start my retirement here.
This is Tailwater Campground on Barren Lake River in central Kentucky, where we stayed for 2 glorious weeks, sometimes with nobody else around except the campground attendant.
– PWP at Green River Lake State Park in eastern Kentucky
Green River Lake State Park is our current location. The Boys like our long walks along the lake and sometimes stepping into the water just a little bit or getting a quick drink. We have lots of trails to explore still. Wayne is settling into the work mode. We’ll be here for two months, then we’re heading south for the rest of the winter.
Our House is tiny, but our backyard is limitless. We are absolutely loving our new life! The lesson is this:
Change is good, as long as you “turn when the road does”.