Recap our first year experiences, continued

We’re still celebrating the anniversary of beginning our full-time adventure. We’ve recounted in two previous articles our costs and experiences with equipment reliability, and how livable is our 25′ trailer for full-timing. I thought, early this morning, of how it feels to have full-timed one year.

Yes, we have to get rid of all this

Yes, we have to get rid of all this

I could try to describe the nervousness we felt about shedding our lifetime’s collections of vinyl, books, electronics, furniture, and all the other trappings of a full-size home. We were so giddy with excitement for the prospects of our impending adventure and all it signified to us.

You might understand our relief at having a smooth closing on our house. We weren’t really finished with the house, though. Despite very long days the three weeks before, we still lacked a couple of hours getting the last things out of the house. Luckily, we were blessed with wonderful friends as buyers. And we didn’t even know it would be a few short months before the housing market and stock market imploded.

Heavenly Drive in Paradise Park, Punta Gorda

Heavenly Drive in Paradise Park, Punta Gorda

How did we feel as we arrived in Punta Gorda, FL for a two week stay the week after closing on the house? I was almost frantic, energetically playing golf every day and reading and sightseeing. And the golf wasn’t even very good — but for the price (free or a $5 donation to the “Golf Club”) it was worth it.

Our full-timing plan, conceived over two years of anticipation, was to spend two weeks at a time in each venue. From the location we could visit everything within one hundred miles radius. We would relocate two hundred miles away. We could then visit everything within one hundred miles radius. Then repeat. Very simple, right?

Dumb idea, this vacation mentality, but we fell for it hook, line, and sinker. This is exactly what all veteran full-timers warn about, this vacation mentality, in which you are so excited to be away from home. So you try to maximize your time away, forgetting you aren’t away. Oh no, not us, we won’t fall for it. We thought we were so organized we would resist running ourselves ragged. Didn’t work out the way we thought.

We drove twice the miles we planned. We drove up to 780 miles in a day more than once and drove many days back-to-back without enjoying any local sites. And we wore ourselves out completely.

Grinnell Lake from trail 900 feet above

Grinnell Lake from trail 900 feet above

On the other hand, we toured part of Alaska, a whole lot of Northwest U.S., Victoria B.C. during their 150th year celebration, Vancouver B.C.’s Chinatown, Eugene, Crater Lake, and the coast of Oregon, the northern California majestic redwoods, and Arcata, California.

How do you balance the desire to see our beautiful continent, unlimited time to spend on it, against our capacity to sustain this level of activity? It’s simple — pace ourselves better.

Vacationers compress driving, sightseeing, eating out and shopping into compact timeframes. They’re often relieved when they return home. They can then relax and recover and enjoy reminiscing. And in a few months or a year later they can go for another burst.

We enjoyed 2008 a LOT. We plan, for 2009, to stay longer, rush less, spend less, and enjoy more.

We will try, in 2009, to live as if we aren’t on vacation. We aren’t away, we’re here. This is our mode of living all the time. (Yeah, and people call it “full-time”) And we know we are fortunate to be able to live like this. It’s wonderful.


3 responses to “Recap our first year experiences, continued

  1. Jim,
    Excellent writing. I’m just getting caught up with the journey, after getting back to KY.
    This recap of 2008 gives all of us who yearn to ‘full time’ a descriptive story of the trappings of rushing around. Our great country has so many sights to see, and you two are just beginning your journey. God bless and God speed in the spring!

  2. Right on, Jim! You’ve hit the nail on the head. You’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet of travel opportunities, and the best thing you can do is pace yourself. When we cross the USA we usually take two months to do it. We’ll start our next trek east in May or June, and arrive sometime in July.

    • Rich, it was so exciting and we couldn’t see the limits until we had gorged ourselves. Then it was too late, we were too far gone — literally and figuratively. Luckily, we survived.

      Hope we see you on your east side time, or next Fall/Winter on the west side.


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