A lot of people have asked just how it is that Pam and I wound up being full time travelers. It’s time I address it. These are my thoughts on the matter. Pam likely followed a similar train of thought, but I don’t want to speak for her. She can provide her perspective separately.
It wasn’t a simple thing. It isn't something that came to me in a revelation. It isn't something that I've wanted to do my entire life either. Rather, it was an idea that grew out of a general unease with our place in the “American Dream”. We had the kid, the nice house in the suburbs, two cars, a growing retirement fund. We had it all, right? We should have been happy … and in many ways we were, but I couldn't shake the feeling that life had more to offer, that we should feel somehow more fulfilled.
When I was younger I would fill that void with some degree of adventure. I would go backpacking, take road trips, follow bands around the country, anything to feel alive. This is nothing new. Young adults have been going on spirit quests, going to war, and generally making fools of themselves for millennia. I was no different, just playing the fool mostly. Slowly, though, I drifted into the stereotypical middle class life. At first I saw it as a kind of challenge, career and family are hard after all and this life has had its ups and downs, its own challenges and rewards. Day to day, though, I knew exactly what to expect: where I would be, what I would be doing, who I would be with. It was a routine and a very predictable one and it filled my days. I was too busy to be bored but bored none-the-less. It’s funny to think in hindsight how I was too busy to read a book for pleasure but bored out of my skull at the same time or that I’ve owned a mandolin for 10 years and still know no more than a few chords. We planned our lives around the few escapes that this life permitted us, a quick vacation to a beach or concert or to visit family, but with only a few weeks of vacation to use every year it was never enough to fill the need for something new.
Thinking that we needed a bigger family to fill this void, we tried becoming foster parents. This is a topic for a whole other series of posts and maybe someday when we’ve had a chance to process that experience a bit more, we will write about it. In short, though, we found that we were not meant to be foster parents. Some people are built for it, programmed to be foster parents. We thought we were. We weren’t. It’s an experience I don’t regret and I’m happy to have made a difference in the lives of two kids who needed someone. In the end, though, this experiment failed to fulfill us. It drained us.
I was also consumed with a certain guilt about the footprint that our lifestyle was leaving on the planet. We did little things here and there such as planting a garden, driving a Prius, and so on but the truth is the typical American family is hard on the planet no matter how you try to sugar-coat it. If everyone alive lived like a typical American the world as we know it would end pretty quickly. (more on this later, trying to measure our pre and post mobile carbon/water/energy footprint has been interesting)
All of this had been simmering for quite some time. But then a series of events occurred:
- We bought a pop-up camper to make family camping trips easier and more comfortable
- Our friends Melanie and Bryan began RVing fulltime
- Our foster kids began transitioning home
The perfect storm.
Memorial day weekend 2016, we were camping in one of our favorite family campgrounds (Iola Pines in Iola, WI) and talking about how were were at a bit of a life crossroads and needed to come up with a plan. As we were talking, we’re staring at our neighbors big 5th wheel camper and I’m thinking about Melanie and Bryan and the words just came out: “We could just do this all the time and I could work from the road”.