#32: Westward Bound

On Wednesday, July 1st, we packed up and set off for a month-long trip to Tennessee. We have some affairs to get in order there and both wanted a break from the stresses of work so we could have some time together as a family. We get few family days to enjoy together as Chris has been working so much and I usually have volunteer obligations at the park, so this was a good way to kill two birds with one stone.

We got packed up on Tuesday night for the most part. By 10am on Wednesday we were loaded up and ready to head down the mountain. This part of the drive turned into a bit of a skiing adventure momentarily and we skied down the gravel service road from the maintenance complex. Thankfully, Chris managed to maintain enough control to get us safely to the bottom and away we went. Junior spent the drive either napping or watching Home Alone on his new DVD player – a kind gift from his Tronny (my mother) and now our most treasured possession. We owe our peaceful drive entirely to her.

Though storms were forecast for the day we actually got remarkably lucky with the weather.  As we drew closer to Alabama the moving day jitters melted away and we arrived at our destination at around 2pm CST having gained an hour when we crossed the Alabama line.

Cheaha State Park was our home for the night and it was a fine choice, if I may say so myself.  The park is the highest point in Alabama.  Though the elevation is only 2,407 ft, it was a good transition point for us and still boasted the cooler mountain breezes we’ve grown so accustomed to, and some pretty stunning vistas.

Our reservation was for the lower campground which was toward the bottom of the mountain nestled in a valley next to Cheaha Lake. Arriving and setting up in the heat of the day put us in the mood for a dip so we promptly changed into our swimming gear and headed back out.

The lake was beautiful and the water was perfectly tepid.  The rocky peak of the mountain towered above us and we had the whole lake to ourselves.  We splashed around for an hour or so and Junior had a blast throwing big rocks into the lake and watching them sink to the sandy bottom.  It felt like our first real little family getaway – just us, no stress or worry, surrounded by wild nature.  I sat on the sand and listened to Junior cackling with delight as he splashed around with his Papa.  I think we all felt in that moment that we could have stayed there for an eternity.

But alas, dinnertime beckoned us back to the camper for some roasted veggies and smoked sausage.  After dinner we headed to the top of the mountain to Bald Rock for a walk.  The drive was stunning and we weaved through magnificent boulder fields and passed a few deer on our way to the top.

The short 1 mile trail consisted of a boardwalk elevated a few feet above the forest floor. It wound through the rugged ridge-top forest surrounded by lichen-covered boulders and twisted, gnarled trees. Chris and I remarked how we’d never seen so much lichen and that the landscape had a sort of eerie and ominous sense to it that was strikingly beautiful. “Cheaha” is derived from the Creek Indians who named the mountain “Cheaha” meaning high place. Roaming the landscape here and taking in its mysterious vibe, I was struck by what the Native American People must have seen in this land.

Of course, Junior had no time to notice this and he spent the entire walk charging up and down the boardwalk at full speed, only stopping momentarily here and there to gawp upwards at the towering tree tops. 

The trail ended at Bald Rock which provided a sweeping view to the West across the lower, flatter 400,000 acres of Talladega National Forest. We soaked in that breeze for a short while before heading back down the trail to the truck and we vowed to come back on our way home.

Chris and I indulged in a glass of wine for me and a beer for him that evening. We sat outside talking into the night and critically analyzing a Sturgill Simpson album. Though it’s the sort of thing we do regularly, the absence of the stresses and frustrations of everyday life as well as the change of scenery made it feel special. It was the perfect end to our mini family vacation.

The next morning we got packed up and, once again, managed to get on the road by 10am. Junior never made a peep for the whole 6 hour drive and was content with Home Alone and snacks. We got so lucky with the weather again, in fact we got lucky in just about every way with our trip. Every traffic light seemed to be green and every stop sign seemed to be clear.

That is, except for one heart-stopping moment. Coming out of the park there was a large dump truck in the middle of the road which forced us over and into the steep verge. This left the camper sliding down the bank off the road. Chris stepped on the accelerator and pulled us out in the nick of time. It was otherwise a very pleasant trip.

Around 2pm we stopped in Tupelo, MS at Veterans Memorial Park to stretch our legs. We thought it was a good, open space to let the boys run around and get some fresh air before the final stretch of our journey. But as we opened the doors and stepped out, the thick, heavy heat belted me in the face and about took me off my feet. I immediately began reconsidering my decision.

Junior had fun giggling at the ducks on the lake and Devon rolled happily in the grass as Chris and I tried our best not to collapse from the heat exhaustion. It wasn’t long before we were retreating back to the cramped quarters of the truck for the solace of the air conditioning.

Another 2 hours later and we finally made it to Chris’ parents’ house. As I stepped out of the truck the heat just about made me pass out. My head was immediately pounding and the sweat dripped from every inch of my body. 94 degrees (35 Celsius), 90% humidity, no trees for shade and not a lick of a breeze. Welcome to Tennessee. You’re not in the mountains now.

As Chris stepped out of the truck we looked at each other and said, with a shake of the head and a defeated grin, “shit, it’s gonna be a long month.”

We began setting the camper and getting things set up as quickly as possible, but ran into a snag. The outlet Chris’ Dad had gotten installed in the garage was the wrong one – we couldn’t plug our camper in. No power means no air conditioning. This was devastating news to me.

I was born in Canada and raised in England – I am biologically not cut out for these temperatures.  Chris laughs at me for my inability to handle the heat here.  I’m truly in awe of how anyone can actually function in these conditions.  It’s crippling to me, both physically and mentally.  In the last few years in the south I have found that summers often bring on dizzy spells and light headedness that has left me very close to passing out.  I get dehydrated quickly and I struggle to think straight.  No amount of water seems to help and I spend the height of the summer mostly inside – at least in the middle of the day.

So the lack of air conditioning was a deal breaker and I was close to suggesting we just find a nearby park to go to. Chris jumped in the truck and went out looking for a replacement receptacle to fix the problem. Meanwhile, I waited for his return outside. Devon doesn’t get along with other dogs at all so he couldn’t be in the house with my in-laws’ 2 dogs. He couldn’t go in the camper as it was close to 100 degrees (38 Celsius) in there even with the windows open. So I had to hang out with him in the front yard and wait for my husband to come to the rescue.

As Chris always does, he fixed it up and just before I completely melted in the heat, we finally had the a/c back on. Of course, by this point, I looked like I had just stepped out of a shower fully clothed.

I had hoped that the evening would bring cooler temperatures but alas it was not to be. The evening air was only mildly less stifling. As Chris and I laid down in bed that night with the a/c set as low as possible, we realized that we were in for a long, uncomfortable month with minimal outdoor activity. It was certainly a big shock to the system – one that we logically knew would occur but still knocked me sideways when we arrived. I’m hoping we get lucky with the weather and that there’ll be some rainy and overcast days so we can get out and go for some walks by the Mississippi river. But until this weather changes I’ll be in the camper hiding from the sun. Come hang out, but bring me something cold ✌️❤️

#5: …And When it Doesn’t.

I generally try to be a positive person.  This is something that I have worked hard on over the last couple of years with special thanks to my husband.  He developed a nickname for me in the early months of our relationship: Negative Nancy.  He used to laugh as he’d call me it, brushing off whatever pessimism I had just thrown at him to prompt him to call me that, but it began to sink in that he was onto something; my outlook on life was often negative and I spent a lot of time and energy worrying about the worst case scenario.  At that time in my life I had inadvertently developed this as a survival tactic which had grown to become second nature until I slowly realized in a telephone conversation with Chris one day that it was my only nature.  After years at an incredibly high-pressure, high stakes job, living on my own in a foreign country thousands of miles from my family I had developed coping mechanisms and the most prominent of these was my ability to find ANYTHING that could go wrong in ANY situation and exert every ounce of energy on preparing for that.  It served me well in a number of instances but, without me being aware of it it had consumed me and become the very focus of every thought – even when I was spending those long nights on the phone with Chris daydreaming about our future.

After that, I made more a conscious effort to be more positive and not give way to negative thoughts.  By the time I learned of my pregnancy I had a real moment to myself where I realized that anxiety was consuming me.  It had put my marriage in jeopardy a number of times, it had hugely affected my job performance, my ability to sleep, and I had developed severe cystic acne.  So when I found out I was pregnant I knew it was time to really change for the sake of my unborn son growing inside of me who depended on me the be the healthiest version of myself – physically and mentally.

When I was 8 months pregnant with Junior I had been offered a new job in Nashville, TN and, with the ever-reliable support of my husband, I had accepted and we were preparing for a big move.  We sold the house within 2 days of me accepting the job and were renting it back from the new owner for a couple of weeks until we finalized the paperwork on our new house in Nashville.  

Then disaster struck.

After I had already left my job of 5 years so that I could have a little down time before the baby came and the new job started.  About 5 days before we were due to close on the new house in Nashville I received a letter from USCIS (the immigration authority here) to tell me that they would not allow me to transfer my visa from my old job to my new one because I was married to a US citizen.  As a result they were revoking my work permit, so not only would I lose my new job in Nashville before I had even started, but I would also not be able to take my old job back, or any other job for that matter.

It’s a long and boring story but essentially the moral is that by simply marrying my husband I had violated the terms of my visa.  While I had applied for a green card and would be eligible for one, there is a crack in the system which doesn’t allow you to change jobs while you’re in the midst of your 1 year wait for a green card.  It’s a nonsensical crack in the system, one which I took a hard fall through.

So at 8 months pregnant I had nowhere to live, no job, and, because of the way the American healthcare system operates, I was due to lose my employer-sponsored health insurance 1 week before Junior was due to make an appearance.  Now on 1 income, we couldn’t afford to take on the $800/month premiums, it would bankrupt us.

To say I was “stressed” doesn’t cut it.  My husband can testify to the fact that prior to this happening I was already dangling on the edge of a nervous breakdown by a very fine thread.  But I had a beautiful baby boy growing inside me, the love of a wonderful husband, and the echo of that nickname bouncing around my head; “negative Nancy”. So I took a deep breath as I held that letter in my hand.  I felt my son bouncing around in my belly the way he did when I sat still and I thought of my husband and how hard he had worked over the last couple of years to build a life for me that would ease my stress, and I said “it’s going to be okay”.

And it was. 

Junior was delivered by C-section 1 week early, just 2 days before my health insurance lapsed.  The owner of our house was kind enough to see that we were in real trouble and allowed us to stay for another couple of months while we found a house to rent, and Chris worked round the clock to supplement my lost income.  It was not easy but we weathered that storm together and were stronger because of it.  It also taught me a valuable lesson in not focussing on the chaos that rips your life apart but rather focussing on your fortune.  My fortune was a beautiful, healthy baby boy, and a husband that loves me fiercely.  You can’t put a price on that.  Everything else is just padding.

18 months later when we decided to embark on our adventure, partly because we were still recovering from the emotional and financial trauma of this disaster and we thought that this new plan would help us to do so.

So, as you’ve probably read from my previous posts, we landed on our feet and were off to a running start.  The clouds of the previous trials and tribulations seemed to suddenly clear; the sun shone a little brighter, the air tasted a little sweeter, and the future seemed brighter than ever.

What I had yet to learn was that this moment of calm was indeed just that; the eye of the storm that had not quite finished raging.

After a couple of weeks of hosting we had a trip to the Memphis area of Tennessee planned for my brother-in-law’s wedding.  We planned to stay about a week to give us time to visit family and friends and really enjoy the trip instead of a brief fly-by like trips of the past.  As always, our plans to get up early and leave at the crack of dawn were unsuccessful after a late start and a grave underestimation of how much crap we had to load into Old Jessie (that’s the name of our rig).  By nightfall we had finally loaded up and were on the road headed West toward the sunset.

Because of our late start we decided to stop for a pause before Atlanta rather than trying to fight through the gruesome rush hour traffic.  After a stroll around the Walmart parking lot and stocking up on supplies we headed back on the road at Junior’s bedtime so that he would sleep through the whole drive.

After about 5 hours on the road we were only halfway to Memphis.  We stopped just outside Birmingham, AL to get gas, stretch our legs, and shake our weary bodies awake.  Chris ran into the store to pick up some cigarettes and snacks while I sat on the curb outside smoking a cigarette.  I was admiring Old Jessie and glancing at the tires and windows making sure everything seemed okay when my gaze lifted and my heart sank.

I must be seeing things.  I’m tired.  It’s dark.  That’s not real.

I stood up and walked closer.  My jaw dropped and my stomach began turning.  As I looked up to the top of our rig I saw that something – probably road debris – had hit us.  The metal at the top of the front panel had peeled back and the rubber roofing of our rig was ripping off.  This was big.  This is not a duct tape sort of job, this is a potentially life-ending injury for Old Jessie.

Life in an RV is definitely simpler, until you realize that that RV is your home and one little piece of road debris can turn your whole world upside down.

Chris came out of the store and saw my face.  “What?” He asked before slowly turning to follow my gaze.  I saw the same heart-sinking look take over his face.  A string of profanities followed which, for the sake of decency, I shan’t repeat here.  But I’m sure you can imagine.

He turned back to me and we both smiled and hugged each other tightly.  It was horrifying, but we both immediately had the same thought: we have each other, we are all ok, this will be ok.

15 hours that journey took.  We stopped repeatedly at Walmarts across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee to buy flex tape (an expensive and larger version of duct tape) to prevent the high winds of the interstate speeds from doing further damage, and to rest.  At one point we pulled over on the interstate to swap so I could drive and Chris could rest.  That turned out to be my first ever time driving with a trailer and it was at 5am after almost 24 hours of no sleep and a wrecked 30ft rig behind me on treacherous Mississippi roads.  By 6:30am we were close but it became a battle against not just sleep deprivation, but rain.  

That’s right, RAIN.  That evil lurking force, the enemy of all RVers everywhere, especially those with a wrecked rig.  Because why wouldn’t there be a huge storm coming towards us at the exact moment that we were incredibly vulnerable to such weather?  The tiredness was overwhelming now as we left the interstate and traveled the last few miles on the back roads, the huge black storm clouds looming overhead threatening to undo us at any moment.  Our eyelids were so heavy that it was physically painful to keep them open.  Dangerous as it was to keep going, we couldn’t stop as everything we owned was in the trailer behind us and would certainly be ruined by the looming torrential downpour.

At around 7am we finally made it to Chris’ parents house.  As we pulled into the driveway the baby woke up and was ready to rock and roll.  We dragged our tired bodies from the truck and lurched to life frantically trying to set the trailer level, put the jacks down, unhook the truck and get a tarp over the roof.  The storm was nipping at our heels now and lightning flashes spurred us on over and over as we hurried through our work.  With moments to spare we secured the tarp over the front of Jessie and the storm erupted over us dumping gallons by the second.  

I’d like to say at this point we breathed a sigh of relief and got some much needed rest.  But there was no relief and there was no rest.  We had a 1 year old who had slept for the last 15 hours and was ready to unleash his pent up energy, and we had a few days to figure out what we were going to do about Old Jessie.

I spent the morning on the phone with the insurance company finding out what could be done.  They told me they’d have to send an appraiser out to look at it and take pictures.  In my exhaustion and absence of sanity I told the insurance agent that “it might just be that the seal was old and gave way”.  Chris’ head dropped and began shaking.  I hadn’t assessed the damage myself but for standing in that dark street in Alabama at 10pm.  I didn’t know what I was talking about, but I knew even less about how that would trigger the insurance agent to say “if the seal is bad then it’s not covered”.  Though I thought it wasn’t possible, my heart sank even lower.  Now they would want us to take our home into a repair shop to have professionals assess the damage which would delay the claim even more.  

Then she tells me that even if it is covered it would likely be write-off as the cost of a new roof would exceed the value of the camper itself.

Now what?

We were stuck 500 miles from our home in Georgia and our house had half a roof and may have to be put down like a sick dog.

We spent the next couple of days weighing our options while we waited to hear from the insurance company.  We considered waiting to see if they would fix it but after the rain let up and we got a good look at it we realized that was not going to happen.  A new roof would be the only way forward with Old Jessie and insurance wasn’t going to pay for it and neither were we.  So we set off to go and look at RV lots to find a replacement home with no money and severely dampened spirits.

After a couple of days of driving around with a cranky 1 year old we found Patsy.  She was a brand new rig – a 2019 Keystone Passport 2820 with a Super Slide and an outdoor kitchen.  Here’s a link to a virtual tour of her: https://www.keystonerv.com/travel-trailers/passport/floorplans/2820bh-gt-travel-trailer/  She was perfect – or as perfect as we were going to get with our limited resources.  Best of all she came with a 10 year roof warranty – something we both fell immediately in love with.

With gritted teeth we begrudgingly signed the paperwork and agreed to the finance terms that would leave us with another monthly payment.  While we knew we could afford it, it was disheartening to take on another $22,000 of debt when the very reason for this whole undertaking was to ease our financial burdens.  But we had no choice, so we made the best of it.

There was a whole mess of dealing with the shop that was supposed to send the damage assessment to the insurance company and we are still dealing with it now.  We made it back to Georgia after another long 13 hour drive and sadly we barely got to see any family because buying Patsy and moving everything from Old Jessie to Patsy took up the rest of our trip.

We are still waiting to hear from the insurance company and we are less than hopeful about recovering anything from this disaster.  With careful budgeting and planning it will probably take us about 3 years to pay off Patsy and that puts a devastating dent in our plan to be debt-free in 2 years.

There are silver linings in life to EVERY dark cloud, I’m a firm believer of that.  There are lessons to be learned from every heart break, I’m also a firm believer of that.  Some silver linings from this debacle are already clear; we have a new rig with more space, warranties, and more modern conveniences.  Perhaps the lesson was that one should never embark on such a journey without more financial security.  Perhaps it’s that I should never, ever be the one to speak with an insurance company.  Perhaps it’s that Alabama roads are horrific and should be avoided at all costs.  Who knows?  

As time goes on I’m sure things will become clearer.  We will pick up the pieces and rebuild again and come through this storm stronger, happier, and more prepared for whatever the future holds.

I know one thing is certain at this point, and that is that we will not be attempting a trip to Tennessee anytime soon – at least until we have some money saved up and a LOT of duct tape.

#4: When Life Just Goes Your Way

We had been staying at Tugaloo for about 5 days.  I was sitting outside in my recliner with Junior happily bashing away at his toys in his playpen, both of us soaking in the warm sunshine on our quiet loop.  A golf cart came riding by and the woman driving it gave a friendly wave.  She was middle-aged with mousey-brown hair, small specs, and a kind smile.  Like many people often do, she stopped to say hi to Junior who was now standing up in his playpen pointing and cooing at her.  She commented on how adorable he is (and he is) and we exchanged pleasantries.  I asked her about hosting; how long she had been doing it and what she made of it.  She told me she was from Knoxville, TN and had been hosting a few years with her husband and that they loved it so much they were in the process of selling their apartment so they could live in their camper and host full-time.  I told her that we had a hosting gig lined up in a few weeks and she immediately became very excited.

“You know, they need a host here on this loop right now – you should go down to the office and ask them about it in the morning.  They’re desperate for someone, it’s perfect!”  

That is perfect, I thought.  

We had planned on spending our first few weeks paying to stay somewhere to give us all time to adapt to our new way of living before I had to take on the extra responsibility of the hosting duties and learn to balance them with raising Junior full-time. But after a few days we learned that we are all natural-born RVers and the learning curve was not as steep as we originally thought. The prospect of hosting a month earlier than expected would save us about $1,000 and was extremely attractive, so I jumped at this opportunity.

Sure enough I went to the office in the morning and they were delighted to have someone able to start the next day.  I told them that we had another gig lined up for October 31 and that we had a trip to Tennessee planned for a week but they were happy to have us for the time we could spare.  By Friday we had pulled our camper into the host site on our loop and I took up host duties that night by cleaning the bathrooms which took around 30 minutes.

The whole weekend we had other hosts, rangers, and maintenance workers dropping by to introduce themselves and check in on us.  Everyone has been so incredibly friendly and welcoming, we have been totally overwhelmed with our reception.  Happily, it seems that the last host on our loop was something of a slacker (which was evident by the state of the bathrooms on our arrival) so the bar had been set very low for us.  

So there are 3 other sets of campsite hosts (each is a couple) and then there is one set of Yurt hosts (also a couple).  Mike James and his wife, Vera were the first hosts to which I was introduced.  Mike was in the forestry service for 20 years and did some other odd jobs after retiring.  He’s 78 years old and it’s clear from the pristine appearance of his rig and site that he’s a stickler for detail and he likes to stay busy.  He and Junior developed a special bond immediately and Mike just loves to make Junior smile and giggle.  He calls Junior “spark plug”, which is pretty appropriate.  I ride by Mike and Verna’s site now and then and Mike always gives Junior a graham cracker, much to the kid’s delight.  

Jack and Rhonda have been coming to the lake for 20 years and host every summer for a few months.  Jack is a thin, older gentleman with a thick southern accent and the hoarseness of a seasoned smoker, the combination of which makes it hard to understand him at the best of times, even with his thick slow southern drawl. He has sun bleached hair, callous hands, and well-worn clothes; the beacon of a man who has worked in construction for many years.  He may look gruff, but his smile and soft tone soften him considerably. Rhonda is a high school teacher.  She is shorter and stockier than Jack with short brown hair and a wicked sense of humor.  When she introduced me to the maintenance worker, Burt, she said “we call him Turd”.  It caught me by surprise and I laughed pretty hard.  Burt said with a sneer “we like her husband, we tolerate her”.  I immediately knew that these people were my people.

Betty, the woman who suggested that I inquire about hosting at Tugaloo in the first place, is married to Clyde.  They are sweet, soft spoken, laid back people with a slow southern drawl and gentle voices.  They are always warm, friendly and happy to help.  They host at the yurt village where their site is secluded and not visible to anyone except people passing on the road on the way to the yurt village.  It’s a hosting gig we have our eye on for the future.

We only briefly met the other host, George.  He was an older gentleman, likely retired, and he seemed just as nice as everyone else.  His wife doesn’t like to do the full-time thing and they live nearby so she joins him here at the lake on weekends leaving him to fish 5 days a week.

The rangers are all very friendly and easy to talk to.  One ranger, who we call Ned Flanders, is truly the real life park ranger version of his cartoon counterpart.  He not only physically resembles him but also has a similar sing-songy disposition.  He stops by now and then and is always good for a chat.  He has some funny and interesting stories about the things that go on in the park and was happy to fill us in on the wildlife in the area and the things that we can expect.  He also told us that a couple weeks before we arrived an RV caught on fire on our loop.  It was some 30 minutes before a fire truck showed up but it wasn’t one that could pump water from the lake (there are no hydrants in state parks) so it was another 45 minutes before a water truck could arrive and by that time the entire rig had burned to ash.  I guess that’s a lesson in fire safety on your rig.

People drop by from time to time for a quick hello or a long chat to pass the time.  Time seems so much less valuable to people in the park and is happily frittered away on lake-gazing, idle chatter, long bimbles through the trails, or wildlife watching.  No one seems to be in a hurry, and it is even discouraged with a park speed limit of 15mph.  This all suits us to a tee.

We have been so incredibly lucky to have such a wonderfully welcoming and beautiful start to our hosting adventure.  We’ve seen more wildlife in a week than we saw in a whole year of living in a city.  We see deer everyday and they are so used to humans that they let you get within 15 feet of them sometimes without getting spooked.  Junior shrieks with joy when he sees them and points with wide eyes and an awe-struck look that fills my heart with happiness.  We had a family of 5 raccoons drop right in on us in our campsite one evening; they’re sweet little faces poking out of the trees as if they were just as curious about us as we were about them.  

One morning, as I had junior on my hip, I was walking across the campsite to take the trash out and a beautiful red fox came trotting across towards us.  His fur was a rusty red and his bushy tail slowly swished along behind him as he slipped silently across the clearing.  He came within 15-20 feet of us but never seemed phased by our presence and merely went about his business.

Junior and I get up in the morning and check the bathrooms.  This involves wiping down the countertops which accumulate a number of gnats and other creepy crawlies through the night.  We check that there’s toilet paper and hand towels etc, then move on to a walk through the campsite with Devon just to check on things and say hi to all the happy campers.  We then head home for some breakfast before we figure out what to fill the day with.  Sometimes we clean out fire pits and check the campsites for trash, other days I just let Junior run through the woods picking up pinecones and rocks and stumbling over tree roots.  He loves to wander through the forest and bring me little treasures along his adventures.  The park is always so quiet and sleepy that I don’t have to worry about cars or strangers suddenly endangering him so he gets some of the independence that he demands daily now.  He falls now and then and has taken a couple of face-plants to the pine needles, but he’s my little soldier and so he picks himself up and dusts himself off without so much as a whimper most of the time.

In the evenings when Chris gets home we sometimes go for another walk through the campsite or a golf cart ride.  Once Junior is down to sleep for the night we deep clean the bathrooms when necessary and spend the rest of our evenings sitting by the fire discussing the day’s activities and competing to see who is better at keeping the fire going (it’s alway me).

The other night another host dropped by to invite us to a cookout at a neighboring rig.  In the city this would have caused me a great deal of social anxiety.  Here it seems effortless to stroll across the park as a family and stop by for a quick fish fry and some football.  

Looking at our life now it seems like we have finally found our calling; a lifestyle that is bursting with all the things we have craved for so long – the outdoors, good people, and simple living.  Living in the city, life seemed such a constant struggle and it was always difficult not to focus on what we didn’t have even when we had so much.  Now it’s easy to see how rich our lives are even though we sold or gave away most of our possessions.  Living this way allows us to live more in the moment.  Living in this peace and quiet allows my mind to be quieter and more at peace.  Though we had some pretty big and chaotic battles to fight to get here, and there were moments where life itself felt like an endlessly loud and violent storm, we have persevered to find our paradise.  It may not be lavish or extravagant, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.