On June 10 we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the purchase of our fifth wheel. During that time we have traveled through 17 states visiting the various landmarks, historical locations, and, by way of the tandem, ridden some of the most epic trails in the country.
During a recent phone call between Mark and a friend the question came up as to how the two of us are getting along after “being cooped up in a trailer together on the road”. The answer was quite simple, we are getting along better now than we ever have. We are coming up on our ninth anniversary of being together and during those nine years we have come to understand, appreciate, and coexist in a manner similar to some of your cheesier romance movies.
Back when we began looking for a fifth wheel one of the best pieces of advice received was to buy the biggest thing we could afford. Luckily for us we happened along our 37 foot four slide trailer from a local private party seller. The price was right and we have really lucked out. Some of you have seen the inside and know just how elegant and comfortable the surroundings are.
Since hitting the road we have performed a few modifications that have further improved the comfort and livability of the trailer. At the beginning of our trip we removed all of the carpeting inside and replaced it with a hardwood look flooring. At the same time we removed the little office space on one of the slides and switched the couch into that area. From there we mounted two large LCD screens for our independent work, the truth is that these independent setups have been a key to our sanity. By having our own little spaces to go to when seeking separation we enable ourselves to have an escape.
Recently we purchased a new loveseat to replace the fold-a-bed couch. Combined with some of the other furniture changes inside the trailer we have designed a space that is very livable for two people within the limitations of 400 sqft.
White Sands National Park sticks out as one of those days that we truly enjoyed, the truth is we have enjoyed pretty much everyday for the last year. There were the amazing Carlsbad Caverns, Mountain biking Pike’s Peak, Staying for 10 days among the Redwoods in Klamath California, and not to mention the crazy drive to get there. Our first days during our first long drive when the tires didn’t seem to want to stay on the trailer. Or the long drive from Louisiana into Florida when crossing the state line into the “Sunshine State” our external thermometer showed a brisk temperature of 31°!
There was our trip into the Florida Keys and out into the Dry Tortugas an area that will soon be covered with oil from the carelessness of BP. Also in South Florida we had our memorable rides into Snake Valley of the Everglades National Forest where we pedaled within feet of hundreds of large alligators, including the large alligator that was threatened by us and opened his jaws wide to demonstrate its displeasure.
More recently there is our trip to the Savanna Theatre where Katarina was pulled on stage to attempt Hula hooping in front of the audience. There’ve been numerous forts and historical sites including Fort Sumter and Fort Jefferson. A few weeks ago we had a magical experience in Pisgah National Forest, not far from the Cradle of Forestry, when we witnessed and photographed a twilight waterfall with hundreds of fireflies creating an effect of thousands of flashbulbs inside a roaring stadium.
This last year also had some sad moments and a few scares. Early on in the trip we almost lost Mark’s step-mom to a freak illness; she recovered and is well now. During the holidays we did lose our travel partner and mascot Mittens to old age. There are also a number of friends and family that have been negatively impacted by the down economy and our thoughts are always with them.
There are a number of popular songs that speak to what we are doing. Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink”, Five for Fighting’s “100 Years”, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”. The basic theme is taking advantage of the opportunities you have today and being smart with these same opportunities.
The decision process that led us to this lifestyle choice was not a simple one. We had been privately discussing it for about two years and seriously discussing it for about eight months before committing fully. In the end the decision was based upon one simple concept “if we had all the money in the world what would we want to do?” When the answer was that we would travel the country in an RV from there it was just a matter of figuring out if we could reasonably do it under our current means.
As I am writing this post we are preparing to go for a hike in the Grandfather Mountain area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The truth is that the two of us have been blessed to be able to do this and we owe thanks to many of you reading this. To our parents thank you for providing us with the tools to make our own futures. To our friends for supporting us during this adventure. Importantly, to the US government and the Democratic Party for continuing to provide us with no good reason to settle down and pay more taxes.
The over-arching question that we get from everyone is how long are you going to do this? Well the reality is that Mark’s business has grown while we’ve been traveling, our living expenses have decreased, we are seeing and experiencing areas of this great country that most people simply pass through on interstates, and we are living for the now. So to answer the big question we throw the question back at you, if you were in our shoes how long would you continue to do this?
Here’s to another great year living the real American Dream!