One More Year

This title probably won’t come as a shock to you if you’ve been following our social media accounts, but it’s time we make it official. We are going to travel full-time for one more year!!! We’ve spent two months renovating our trailer-painting, installing new floors, selling old furniture and adding new furniture and decor, and unless you thought we were going to flip it, you likely realized that we had decided to keep traveling. Funny thing though, even during those long days of renovations, the thought frequently crossed our minds to actually sell it after the renovation and settle down again. As I’m sure you can imagine, the months of March, April, and May were the three hardest months we’ve had to navigate in our nearly one year of travel. With Covid19, RV parks were allowing those that were already there to stay, but nobody new was allowed to come in, and since we were at my Dad’s house when the world shut down, we didn’t have many options. This left us rethinking and rearranging travel at the drop of a dime several times, which was why we ultimately made the decision to go to Dave’s hometown of Steamboat Springs, CO and wait out the quarantine. This lead us to make our first overnight stop in a Cabela’s parking lot, which was, lets just call it interesting, and presume we’ll be avoiding that at all costs moving forward. Dave’s parents primarily stay the winters in California, so with an empty house to ourselves, giving us the space to move out of the trailer while we demoed it, it made sense for us to make the long drive to Colorado, two months earlier than we had planned. Additionally, while I knew a shoulder surgery was imminent and likely happening in June, none of us planned for my shoulder to drastically go down hill fast, and I ended up in surgery the week they reopened elective surgeries to have a very large bone spur removed that was constantly digging into my rotator cuff. Fortunately, I didn’t have a tear which meant a shorter recovery, but still left me very limited in terms of what I could do to help Dave and Miyah with trailer renovations. (And by limited, I mean that my roll consisted mostly of barking orders and detailed instructions about my lofty list of demands, while I binged on Outlander episodes. Luckily they love me a lot, and are incredibly hard workers.)

Last day of school for the girls. They are showing off their piles of work, which included things like Jr. Ranger workbooks, poems, journals, and worksheets, but didn’t include everything they did online, which was the majority of their work. 
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Dave celebrated his 40th birthday, not in Hawaii as we planned, but in a low key celebration in Steamboat, which was beautiful in it’s own way.  This is a picture of Dave and his girls being their super hero selves on a hike, just before an afternoon spring storm rolled in. It was a good day, and we are so thankful to everyone that sent in videos wishing him happy birthday. I know he will forever cherish that video.

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We also used the end of our quarantine time to add a new member to our family, and his name is Journey. “Jo-Jo” for short, and he is a 12 week old cockapoo. I will be writing a separate post at a later date about the very important way we began to find Journey, but for now I’ll just tell you that Journey is Jaelyn’s emotional support dog for anxiety, and he is already doing a great job of fulfilling his roll. (For all of us.)

This decision to keep traveling did not come easily or lightly, and then you throw in Covid and my head was spinning. So many travel families that we know went off the road and settled back down in brick and mortar homes, not wanting to ever be put in a situation like that again. Some of our friends felt the opposite, reflecting on the time with certainty that the situation affirmed the reasons they never want to be tied down again. The scariest part for me was when the food shortages started happening, and I realized we didn’t have the space, and we certainly don’t have the extra weight capacity to stock pile food and toilet paper, although we felt okay about the possibility of using the shower head that sits right next to the toilet as a bidet if necessary. (Chalk a win in the tiny living column.) Interestingly, at the same time many were going off the road, my phone was often pinging with friends telling me that they just wanted to buy an RV and “go off grid.” Did you know RV sales are at an all time high right now, not just from those wanting to go off grid, but because people are no longer wanting to fly, so they’re road-tripping again. This is great for the American Family, but a bit stressful for those of us that rely on campgrounds and RV parks having space for us to park our homes.

There was so much to think about, including but not limited to Miyah’s desire to go to high school, along with her willingness to travel for one more year with our offered promise to her that we would commit to a firm end date so that she could attend her final two years of high school. (The best of the four years, in most adult’s opinions that we’ve talked to, including Dave and I.) Since being back in Denver for the last few weeks, Miyah has had many opportunities to hang out with her friends in Colorado, and she is currently in the middle of a two week work camp with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Steamboat, where she and her sisters are spending time with Dave’s parents. The girls are also excited to link back up with several of their full-time travel friends. Our kids have developed very close friendships with several kids on the road, as our families have met up on several occasions, and I know these kids will always share a special bond.

We are very grateful to have wonderful tenants in our home in Castle Rock that wanted to renew their lease for another year, so that made that particular puzzle piece simple. With the renovation mostly done in the trailer, it is so much brighter and feeling much more like a cozy and welcoming home, and not so much like a dark wooded dungeon. There were some long days in Jacksonville, FL last December, where were camped in the jungle and it rained for days, making the trailer feel even more like a dark dungeon and left me going crazy, but the new white, sage green, and my favorite smoky teal, really help to make our little home cheery. We will be posting more pictures on Instagram and Facebook in the next few weeks after we get the trailer back from the repair shop, where it is finally being fixed after that infamous drop from the forklift in The Florida Keys.

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One of the most common pieces of advice we received over the last year from travel families that had been doing it for years was, “Go back home before you make the decision to stop traveling or not.” They told us that going back home would give us a much clearer perspective on whether or not we were ready to jump back into that lifestyle. We knew we had left for our own personal reasons, but overtime, those reasons began to feel distant and we forgot. That, combined with our year of travel being cut short due to covid, and our absolute knowing that we had so much of our beautiful country left to see, we just know we are not done yet.

There have been so many places we’ve traveled that we’ve said we would go back to, and with so much of the world left to see, we always pick new places, sometimes wishing we’d just gone back and spent more time in the places we love. So, we are very excited to be doing just that. In July, we will head back to Rapid City, SD and explore more of The Badlands and Custer State Park. We’re excited to visit Grand Tetons National Park and go boondocking (camping without hookups,) for the first time in our giant rig. We’ll meet up with my sister’s family and another travel family we met last fall. From there, we’ll head over to Idaho, starting right back where it all began three years ago when we took our first long roadtrip to The Pacific Northwest, Idaho, and Montana. At that time we spent only one short night in Couer D’Lane, knowing we absolutely had to return, and we are thrilled to be spending two weeks in that area. One of many very valuable lessons we learned over the last year is to stay places longer, slow down, and take it all in! I suppose that’s another reason we want to keep traveling, because it felt like just as soon as we were getting the hang of it, we were about to stop, and that just didn’t feel right. The same is true for me and the girls with homeschooling, and I know we’re all excited and much more prepared to tackle another year of learning together. We all think that this year could be and feel so much better, just by having the experiences we now have to build on. Our plan is to make our way down the west coast, head to the southwest where we’ll make a quick jaunt southeast and visit Big Bend National Park in Texas, and then swoop back around to spend the spring in Northern Arizona. Next May, we are going to do the rim to rim hike of The Grand Canyon as a family, to honor our dear friend Nicole Fowler, who courageously lost a long battle with cancer this May.

What’s after that? Time, experience, wisdom and guidance will tell, but with every state, city, town and area we visit, we do it with open minds and hearts, asking ourselves, “Would we leave Colorado to live here?” So far, the answer has been no, and we feel so honored and privileged to be Coloradans and call the state home that many during our travels have told us is there favorite state. We think it’s pretty rad too!

We will soon be back with more blog posts about our adventures, along with everyone’s favorite, “Finding Joy Moments.” Thank you all for following, and loving our wanderlust souls, we do this as much for us as we do for all of you, because travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, and we hope to spark the travel bug in you!

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