Sunday, March 16, 2014

A (not so) Brief History

I've never really had a conventional life. My parents would play good cop/bad cop at the dinner table when talking to me about my future. "Do you really think that being in a rock band is a good career choice? What will you fall back on if it doesn't work out?", my dad would say. My mom would take me under her wing and encourage me to do whatever I wanted. Ever since then, "real" jobs have always played second fiddle to my creative endeavors. 

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With Mom the day I left for the US, 8-31-87              My band, Naked Grape, outside CBGB in New York City

I spent a decade in New York trying to make it as a musician but to no avail. The experience was amazing but the success rate was zero.  I spent a couple of years in Texas with Linda and then we moved to Washington where I got a real job as a graphic designer. We bought some beautiful lake front property and built our own castle on it (metaphorically speaking about the castle).

I need to be stimulated all the time, you know, have something to look forward to. The life of going to a job in the morning, coming home in the evening, having dinner, spending time with the kids, watching TV, going to bed and starting all over again the next day never had much appeal for me. Paradoxically, I like predictability and stability, which is what a real job had given me but I just wasn't fulfilled.

Linda and I discovered camping together in 2006. We both had experience camping in our lives but not together. For me it was an extension of my new found love of nature by the lake. I had taken up videography and loved to capture all the wildlife around me. I would make little movies and have "showings" for all the neighbors. For years Linda would say how much she wanted to take me to Yellowstone. She said it would blow my mind so I had high expectations.

When we finally did go to Yellowstone, it was one of the highlights of my life. It was almost like I had beamed down from the mothership to another planet. I could see miles and miles of unspoiled land. The geysers fascinated me. It was a sight I had never seen before. Driving down to Hayden Valley at dusk to watch hundreds of bison crossing the road was eye-popping. Needless to say, I was hooked. You can see the little movie I put together by clicking here. At that point we were camping in an actual tent and I never considered anything else.

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Scenes from our first trip to Yellowstone together

Over the months that followed that trip, we became more and more interested in finding an alternative to the classic tent. We went to an RV dealership just for fun and looked at some popups. Linda was already familiar with these contraptions because her family had owned one when she was a kid. I looked at the price and cringed. If we spent that amount of money, I thought, it would be one of those things that gathered rust and dust in our backyard. Still, my curiosity and imagination went wild. Linda whipped out her laptop and over the next few days did a huge amount of research, sending me photos of popups and proposing all of the cool places we could go. Long story short, she won me over (as she always does) and we bought our first popup; a Jayco we named "Alfred Hitchpop".

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Linda’s family had a popup way back when                    Ah, the good old days in Yellowstone

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Linda’s first RV (on her back)

Little did I know what this miracle of invention would do. I used to jokingly refer to it as the "Tardis" (for you Dr. Who fans) because, while it appeared to be a modest size on the outside, once inside with the slides out, it was massive!!

We took that thing were no man (or woman) had gone before. We went down the West coast, we went to Yellowstone again, Glacier National Park, and much more. We racked up thousands of miles driving that sucker all over the place. We even spent a freezing and damp Thanksgiving in Alfred in Brackendale, Canada. There was so much condensation on the inside walls one morning, it was like we had just installed a rain shower!

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Alfred Hitchpop at Anacortes, WA

Linda and I not only love camping but we love the whole process of traveling. She likes to drive. No, she insists on driving which is fine with me because I usually have my camera in hand doing as much drive-by shooting as I can. Although I am direction-challenged, I am also the navigator. Yes, that sounds weird but, if people in wheelchairs can play basketball, then I can read a map, by cracky! At the very least, I'm going to do the very best I can.

Sometime during our initial outings, we toyed with the idea of doing this fulltime. We bought a book on Amazon written by a couple who actually lived fulltime in a popup. Could we do it? Sure we could. Would we do it in Alfred? Probably not but the idea of fulltiming was an idea we never let go. 

As our thoughts obsessed on fulltiming, our attention began to focus on what kind of rig we would live in. There were two choices; a motorhome or a fifth wheel. It was like the Mac versus PC, paper or plastic dilemma. At first we decided that a motorhome was not for us because we didn't like the fuselage feel of the space. Sitting in a fifth wheel at the RV Show in Seattle felt much more like home. Yes, a fifth wheel was going to be our choice. 

As the years went by, anytime we were bored on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, we would look at each other and say "Let's go look at RVs!". We were like two kids at a toy store! We never really found the perfect interior design although we came close. The kitchen was too small, we didn't like the steps, the bathroom was weird, etc.

Our fulltiming master plan, on the other hand, was coming together. We decided that as soon as all our kids were in college (or jail, whichever came first), we would hit the road. We settled on August 15, 2014 as the target date.

In the Spring of 2013, some friends of ours (Laurie and Odel) who were fulltiming for over a decade were coming off the road due to family illness. We had met them a few times and really liked their rig. It was a motorhome. Yes, a motorhome. I know I just said we were stuck on a fifth wheel but, more recently we were going to and fro on the motorhome/fifth wheel thing. Laurie and Odel were selling their beloved 2002 Travel Supreme.

We had put away some money from the recent sale of our lake house for the purpose of buying a used rig so the timing was perfect. Knowing Laurie and Odel the way we do and reading their extensive blogging about the motorhome, we knew it had been well taken care of and all the specs really suited our needs. In a short time, we had negotiated the sale and met them in California for RV boot camp. They taught us all they knew in a couple of days and soon we were on our maiden voyage home to Seattle, stopping along the way at some lovely campsites.

When we headed out on the highway for the first time, we both looked at each other and knew that there was no doubt that this was the life for us. We immediately fell in love with "Scoopy" (the name Laurie and Odel gave the motorhome) and we felt like we were at home from the first second.

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Scoopy, what more is there to say?

So now it's March of 2014 as I write this and I'm sitting here both excited and scared for this new life. We have so much work to do before we actually leave on August 15 (unbelieveably, we have managed to hold onto that date for over five years) but it's all just "stuff" so I know it will get done. What lies ahead is an amazing experience. As I approach 50, I'm not thinking about winding down. Hell no, I'm getting ready to start the next chapter of my life. 

Future Road Sign

How long will we stay on the road? Hard to say because we are not putting a limit on it. Like everything else we do, we live in the moment and we are both so simpatico that when the time is right to hang up our hats, we will both know it at the same moment.

4 comments:

  1. great recap,Steven of how you both made the big decision to hit the open road..we all have a history filled with many decisions to make and it sure seems like you and Linda are on the right road..heading towards the future of life on the road! Let the 'purging' begin!!!

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  2. Wow, talk about long range planning. Congratulations on the foresight and perseverance to pull it off. There's no doubt in my mind that the reality will surpass your dreams.

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  3. "When we headed out on the highway for the first time, we both looked at each other and knew that there was no doubt that this was the life for us." That is exactly the feeling Odel and I had as we drove away in Scoopy after our purchase. I'm so glad you feel the same. I can't wait for your adventures to begin!

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  4. Oh, and P.S: If you don't already, feel free to change her name!

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