This week marks one year of traveling throughout the U.S. full time in a travel trailer. We have seen a lot, we have done a lot, and the experiences have been utterly rich and fulfilling. We have experienced some challenges, too, but overall this lifestyle of tiny living and travel has been simply a joy. It is difficult to estimate or express how much traveling and living in this way has affected us as a family and as individuals. We discuss it often; the conversations and remembrances are always amazing and revealing: We can’t believe how much we have done and how much we have seen.
Through this adventure, we have become closer as a family and stronger in constitution. We have honed our values, strengthened our business and solidified our free-wheeling ways. Although we have not reached the halfway mark just yet (so we think), we thought that we would share some mostly-facts, kind of spot-on figures and some favorite places and things of the last 365 days. To coin Larry David, it has been prettyyyy, prettyyyy nice.
Where we have been:
We understand as Michiganders that going through Ontario doesn’t count so much. (Stop laughing, all of you from Michigan!) But now we have so many Canadian friends via our travels that we’ll be telling you all about the other provinces some time next year. Québec, here we come! Right now we have to visit the other 24 continental states — most of them at least. This image was taken at Niagara Falls, of course — Luna’s first time. It is always splendid, if a bit chaotic. What a marvel.
People we have met have come from Germany, Israel, Australia, England, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and all over the U.S. Friends we have made come from Québec, New Brunswick, Israel, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine and Michigan. Friends and family who have met us or whom we have greeted come from or live in Vermont, Austin, Tampa, Perdido Key and Petoskey. We are meeting more friends and family in California, Oregon and Idaho very soon.
Our Tow Vehicle:
Lowest fuel prices $/gal
East Texas and West Louisiana
Highest fuel prices $/gal
Cornado Island and New York State
This Yukon is a beast. She has hauled us around this country with very few issues. In this image, the truck simply would not start. We were at my favorite grocery store in San Antonio. Thankfully, we parked right across the street from a Firestone shop. Our guy, Ismael, was supremely helpful. We may have to upgrade to a heavier tow vehicle before heading to the Rockies, but for now we like our trusty Yukon.
Inaccurate Tank Sensors
Wheel Bearings Greased
We have learned that RV sensors don’t mean squat and ceased relying on them very early in our adventure. We are now really good at monitoring all of our holding tanks by sound, sight and occasionally by smell. In fact, I am now a semi-professional … septic inspector? … and Scot can now change wheel bearings on an RV. Also, despite the generally cheap goods that make up most RVs, we adore this camper, paper-thin walls, doors and all. It is so much fun. Luna is a huge help when it comes to the rig, especially with the remote control that came with it. She can do a lot with the push of a button — and Walkie Talkies!
Fun with Food:
Weekly Grocery Bill
Major staples in our diet are tacos and campfire pizza inspired by local food. Maine provided lobster, crab and amazing blueberries. In Charleston we found arugula and okra. In Texas we found pretty much everything that we love to eat. In New Mexico we tracked down some hatch chilis and homemade salsas and tortillas. In Tucson we rediscovered our love for Sonoran food; it was so good. And in California — well, when isn’t there local produce available? The fruit is amazing here. But, always, there is pizza. We continue to make our dough and sauce and find good cheeses if possible, keeping backups of all ingredients for a last minute pizza fix. We feel that our pizza is very romantic! I think this image is of a Wisconsin farm market pizza with local cheese. Yum!
Some Random Facts & Fun Stuff:
Moose (but 1 Bighorn Sheep) Spotted in Nature
Boondocking Locations in Vermont and Florida
Teeth Luna Lost
Weekly Laundry Expense
New Rumspeed Customers
Unique Beers Logged
Average Monthly Data Plan Bandwidth
We spent Scot’s birthday in Petoskey, Michigan; Liza’s and Luna’s birthdays in New Orleans; Thanksgiving and Christmas in Florida; Cinco de Mayo in California; Fourth of July in Minocqua, Wisconsin; Labor Day in Maine; Halloween in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Valentine’s Day in Florida. Exploring the local craft beer and wine scene has been fun; people are proud of their communities and what they can offer as a local business. We are conflicted sometimes about zoo culture; however, we really enjoy visiting zoos with Luna, who has so many opportunities to interact with animals and learn about animal and environmental conservation. She loves giraffes, Scot loves rhinos and Mama loves North American animals, particularly wolves and bison.
And, for the record, there is no way that we could do what we are doing without Scot’s hotpsot and, most importantly, an unlimited data plan, which rivals home bandwidth use. Many people have hotspots and use them for travel or work, but they are limited to 2 GB plans. We are fortunate to be able to have this available for work. Traveling while working would be impossible otherwise. It is also wonderful for streaming movies and for play. We are grateful.
Favorites Places & Things:
Most Beautiful Drive
Best All-Around Family Gig
Favorite Campground & Most Beautiful Place
Worth Wandering / Most Diverse Travel Culture / Best Historic Preservation / Worth Revisiting
Favorite Special Place
Most Family-Oriented Campground
Most Remote Location
Luna’s roadtrip song is “Born on the Bayou” and her favorite dance song is “Minecraft Style;” our favorite soundtrack is from Chef. Our playlists are too numerous to mention: We listen to a lot of music. Our favorite films include Chef, Amélie, Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, French Kiss, Ratatouille, Casablanca, Bull Durham and Bend It Like Beckham. Our favorite documentaries include Chef’s Table, Rick Steves: Best of Europe, The West, Wild Islands, The Birth of Saké and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Our favorite food spots include H.E.B. Market in San Antonio, Waterman’s Beach Lobster Shack in Maine and Elvira’s in Tucson. There is so much we saw and so much we missed. Next time. This image was taken from a street in New Orleans.
Things that we own but chose not to bring with us and wish we had now include the crock pot, the panini press and the Vitamix, as well as a few toys and some books. We are still fine without them, though.
Things we miss include the small town vibe, the local county fair, family and friends. On the other hand, travel creates expansion and awareness. Being on the road connects us globally and it rocks.
Things that Luna didn’t know at all or well before traveling, but now does well or comprehends include direction and directions, equations, spelling, reading, time and calendar, tying her shoes, using a scooter, throwing a ball, braiding hair, cooking and baking, making lemonade, jumping rope, states and capitols, her sense of helping, coming and going, coding, love and loss, and the appropriate use of whom.
Some of our favorite Luna-things that have evolved since our journey began include her art/drawing and characters; her sense of humor; her attention to detail; her use of big words, her creative words or word combinations (“Nutzles!”); her taste in and questions about art and music; her opinions; her swimming superpowers; her ability to identify musical instruments by sound, especially the sitar; her love of travel; her love of her family; her continued love of horses; her self-confidence; that she is so loving; that she’s game for a good hike; her interest in food and that she likes to wear her socks at mid-calf. She also has an incredible sense of smell, which is always funny and interesting.
Between me and Scot, our love has grown immensely. Traveling and living and working like this is romantic, unifying, spiritual and creative. We live a mostly stress-free, very peaceful and happy life doing what we are doing. It is easy to make plans born through love and understanding and from the soul when outside forces are removed; it helps for focusing and clarity — with ease and concentration as we like to say. Our daughter clearly is thriving and happy; we couldn’t ask for more. We like to work together and for each other. Our little camper is a very special place.
There are times when we have wondered, What are we doing? There are times when we feel that we should settle sooner than later. There are many times when we feel the itch to get moving and need to go, but we stay, if only to see what happens. There are endeavors that we all undertake and are passionate about that would be better served staying in one location. Travel days are long and sometimes difficult; they are always tiring, but we are generally happy to have arrived at our next stop. Sometimes our new temporary communities don’t jive with our values, but mostly people are really kind, interesting and interested, open-minded, generous and unique.
We have observed that most people stay in one place, like their homes or communities. Many people would love to be doing something other than what they are doing, or more of something else, so we have found. Most people are in their own little worlds. Many people have never heard of the U.P. Roadtrippers have the most diverse itineraries and swath of territories covered. There are many secret places in the world, and favorite ones and must-sees respectively. Courage seems to have a lot to do with almost everything. Fear of people, places, things and unknown experiences seem to be what keeps people frozen in place and frightened of others. Most people really like a good tomato or ripe watemelon. Regional cuisine is familiar to those who dwell near it and each has his or her own version. Camping as we knew it has gone the way of RV and motorcoach, but tent campers still have the best experience in nature, and the best way to snag a site at a beach. And the families of family-owned campgrounds are the most passionate about what they do. They are a one-of-a-kind bunch.
We still have the whole Northwest to see, the Rockies, the Plains. We haven’t visited all of northern Minnesota or Isle Royale. We want to show Luna the Grand Canyon. These places and more are what we propose to do in the next six months to a year. We don’t know yet. We are not finished with this trip, but our creative lives are calling in a way that suggests a need to find community and travel three to four months a year more thoroughly in just a few places. We recognize our need to serve others and participate. We know that it would be nice to visit those we love more often than full time travel allows. But for now, we are traveling. We are on the move, even when we are staying put for awhile. This experience is a tremendous one. There is very little that we can think of that would amend one ‘s fears, worries and losses, or inspire one’s dreams, hopes and awareness like travel. We have weaved an immense family tapestry of experiences bound by love. What else can we say? It is a gorgeous dream come true.
Experience over things.
Love conquers all.
Our Year in Pictures: