Thursday, July 1, 2010

One Year On The Road

One year ago today we set out on this Big Adventure. We had sold or given away most of our possessions, and stashed the things we couldn't part with in a small metal shed behind our house in Taos, NM. We rented the house to some lovely people, and then we packed up everything [we thought] we really needed into our new-to-us 29 foot fifth wheel trailer, loaded up the dogs, said a tearful good-bye to our friends, and set out to travel for "a year or two", in search of a new home. We had been in Taos for 8 years, and we knew we didn't want to stay there forever. It's too far from our families, and we also knew we didn't want to get old there. Sounds funny, but we hope to get old someplace, and we're not young enough to think we can go on wandering forever. Or can we...?

One year later, things look entirely different than they did when we started out. Nothing is what we thought it would be. And most of it is better than we expected. We focused most of last summer along the west coast, concentrating on places we thought we actually might want to live. The plan was for me to make beads in the trailer at stops along the way, which turned out to be a bad idea. All the set-up and tear-down was too much trouble. I wasn't getting much work done, and we were spending money like we had it, which we didn't. We began to realize that we were on a wonderful, expensive, three-month vacation, and that we were going to have to make some changes.

We had planned to stop in Ashland, Oregon for the month of October, to take a closer look at a place we'd long thought about calling home. One thing led to another, and we're still here. We never intended to become camp hosts, but once that happened, Rick decided to start looking for a paying job in town. It took six months to find one, and as luck would have it, he was hired on for the summer at the park we host in, and now has the possibility of a permanent job starting in the fall. If that happens, does it mean we've moved to Ashland? I don't know. I'm still not sure this is The Place. Then again, I'm not sure any place is the place... We'll know when we know. As always, we're just waiting for further instructions.

While we wait, we do a lot of pondering, planning, and plan changing. There are things we'd change, and things we'd keep just as they are. Here's a quick assessment, for those of you who might be wanting to do something similar. First, I'd have to say, Yes! Do it! It's been enormously freeing to part with so much of the "stuff" in our lives. Simpler is better, easier, more fun. We actually love living in our tiny "house", and when it sometimes feels too small, we just go outside. Certainly summer weather is easier for living an RV life. Winter can be challenging, and an important consideration is to get an RV with a good layout for your needs, and enough space to move around a little bit. We can dance in ours, which we do, fairly often.

We fixed ours up to look like a cosy little house, removing, replacing, and remodeling almost everything that had that "RV look". Now it looks more like home than vacation, and we're comfortable in it. I'd also suggest replacing a crummy RV mattress with a really good one. We removed the queen size mattress that came with the trailer, along with the built-in night stands and overhead storage. You have to think hard about giving up storage space, but it was well worth it in this case. We were able to squeeze in our king size memory foam mattress, turning the bedroom into a bed-filled nest where we sleep like baby birds. A good sleep is so important!

I've got my beadmaking studio set up in an EZ Up tent behind the trailer now, and while it's OK, it's not ideal. These days, in a perfect world, I'd be ready to give up beadmaking as my main gig, and bump it back to hobby status. Business is slow, thanks to the economy, the explosion of new beadmakers in the US over the last few years, and the glut of crappy imported lampwork being brought in to the US. Forced to compete in a cheapened market, my best guess is it's a good time to find another way to make a living. But since whatever that is hasn't presented itself yet, I'm thinking of another way of having a studio. If we stay here this winter again, which seems likely, I'd like to get a tiny, older trailer, that I can gut and remodel as a bead studio. I'd like more protection from the wind and cold than a tent offers, and I like having a permanent space for work. As always, we'll see.

I guess if we could wave a wand and change things to suit us a bit better now, I'd vote for a small "toy hauler" motor home, so we could stretch out more when we're driving, park easier (I can't back this trailer to save my life), maybe carry along a tiny Smart Car (if it would fit inside), and pull a Studio Trailer, or set up the studio in the "garage" part of the rig, and pull a small car. Configuration possibilities are endless. And really, we're OK the way we are. Better than OK. But I'm noticing that the longer we stay in one spot, the more stuff we feel we need. We still make sure everything we buy has a place and can be moved when we go someplace else, but I imagine we'll have to get rid of some things when we leave here.

The real question is... When will we leave here? Or will we leave here? So much is up in the air right now. So much depends on Rick's job. We'd be foolish to turn down a permanent position with the county parks, but we also know we want to do more traveling. Right now, we're non-traveling travelers - more like vagrants - which feels sort of weird. If we had a good way of making a living along the road, it would be an easy decision. We'd go. But for now, it looks like we'll be here for a few years, maybe 4 or 5, maybe living in the trailer, maybe staying on as camp hosts, maybe renting a house, or selling our Taos house and buying one here... Who knows! At some point, we plan (knowing how plans are made for changing), to hit the road again, not with the intention of finding home, but for the pure adventure of getting out there and exploring. We can only "see" so much. We keep reminding ourselves that we don't have all the information, and all sorts of things could happen that we haven't begun to imagine yet. We have great trust in The Way Things Work. We know that wonderful things come from Chaos. We do our best to stay fearless and to take delight in uncertainty. And most of all, what we know after a year of looking for home, is that wherever we are, we are home, because home is a place inside of us.

6 comments:

Patty said...

Wow Kim, thanks for sharing that! For all of us with too much stuff who are living our dreams through you, it was wonderful to hear your honest assessment of your choices. I agree that sleep is important and could see how an RV manufacturer might opt to toss in a cheap-o mattress. But your comfy king sized nest sounds like a perfect way to go.

Who knows if such a life is in our future, but it sure helps to hear from people like you about what works and what doesn't. Welcome home. :-)

Levonne said...

Well Kim, another thing in common. The memory foam though ours is queen size. I couldn't give up those night stands. Sounds like your trailer is cozy. I would love to see it. Maybe you could post photos of the inside. But really, I relate totally to your situation. We've been on the road for over ten months now. I love it and it is also weird to be static RV adventurers while we camp host. Traveling would be easier but more expensive of course. We were just talking about whether John should apply for that Ashland job. I don't think Ashland is the place for us. A little too isolated and not quite enough diversity there. But I don't know. Maybe he should apply. We thought about working for a few years to save money to travel more. Keep expenses low and sock it away while looking for other ways to make money on the road. Its lonely sometimes not having family and friends around. That is the weirdness I think. Great to hear you talk. I was hanging on your every word. We're looking for the answers too and open to what materializes.

Lynz said...

"We have great trust in The Way Things Work"

Now *there* is a great statement. It's almost Winnie-the-Pooh-ish in it's taoism (Pooh being my favourite philosophiser.) It's always lovely to hear your thoughts on life, the universe and everything. Keep calm and carry on!

Kim Miles ~ said...

Thanks all! There's still a lot to figure out, but I think we know just what we need to, when we need to. I'm beginning to let go of my need to plan... but not completely! :o)

Michelle said...

No-one knows what life holds for us Kim, but I think what you're doing is very admirable. It would be nice to pack up and go travelling, you're very brave and I'm really pleased that Rick has found a paid job he loves doing, as for you, PLEASE DON'T give up your bead-making, you're too GOOD at it ! It's a Great Life !!! x

Kim Miles ~ said...

Thanks Michelle. You're right - nobody knows! A year from now...... ooh! I can't even begin to imagine!