People always ask me about why I decided to sell everything I own and start traveling full time. Why would I retire early, give up my cozy house and life in the midwest, take my 3 cats and a dog on the road? Isn’t it dangerous for a single woman to be out there alone? Won’t you miss your job, friends, family? Won’t you be lonely? I respond with Yes! All of those fearful things are looming out there!! I will miss my current life, my family and friends, but there are frightening things everywhere no matter how one chooses to live. I am making a conscious choice to live life as an adventure; to forgo material objects in favor of experiences.
I have been enamored with the full- time travel life for many years, and thought that some day I would actually do it. It all started 25 years ago when I first heard that Maya and Ken were going to retire, sell everything and hit the road. WHAAAT? I was amazed at how unusual this sounded for an establishment couple who didn’t seem all that adventurous. As far as I knew, neither one had ever camped a day in their lives; and certainly Maya, a demur ex-nun turned massage therapist had never driven a truck much less towed a 30 foot 5th wheel trailer! A 5th wheel is a towable trailer that has the hitch in the bed of a pick up truck. It is very stable to drive but can be dicey when trying to back into a tight space (more later on that issue).
I have always been a tent camper in my adult life with some recent experience with a Pop-Up camper, but never towed a trailer. Some of my fondest memories of childhood were of camping with my parents and siblings in Northern California. My Dad was an Air Force pilot and was stationed at Beale A.F.B. near Yuba City, California. We lived equidistant from the mountains and the ocean, so the Redwoods, Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the rugged coastline near Eureka and Mendicino were my introduction to nature and the great outdoors. I loved the nature talks that the rangers gave at night under the stars, swimming in the rivers and lakes, and the smells of the campfire mixed with pine as my mother cooked over an open flame in her cast iron skillet.
It is no wonder that i was intrigued by this couple in their 60’s embarking on a journey into the unknown. As I watched them drive off in their rig with a dog and cat and all their earthly possessions, I thought to myself- one day, I want to do that.
When they returned 6 months later to visit, their tales of life on the road were amazing. The places that they had seen in this beautiful country, friendly, helpful, and happy people they met in their travels stirred my imagination even more. What must life be like out there in the great landscape of our nation?
The mishaps of traveling became funny stories after a period of time. One such “funny story” that Ken still had a little trouble laughing at occurred one evening as it was just getting dark. Ken was having trouble backing in to a tight space at their campsite. Maya was directing him, but it wasn’t going so well. He decided to let Maya drive the truck and he would direct her in the proper fashion.
Maya explains the story a little differently. She explains that she was a novice but decided to give it a go. She knew that it was imperative to get the right angle, so she decided to drive around the campground loop and approach the site with a better angle. As the sky was darkening with storm clouds and the sun was setting, Maya drove away as Ken stood in the site with a look on his face that some would consider to be unfavorable to ever speaking to his wife again.
She drove around the loop but because of the configuration of the campground she couldn’t make it back to the site, so she kept driving- right out of the campground gate and onto the county highway! Mind you, this was the 1990’s when there were no cellphones, GPS or other sophisticated devices for the traveler.
THEN, IT STARTED TO RAIN!!!
Maya drove the rig down the road and the rain started in earnest. She came to a church with a large sign that said, “Do not Enter”. So she drove on!
The group listening to the story heaved a collective sigh, thinking she had finally found a place to turn around. But no! You see, Maya was a rule follower and the sign clearly said, “Do not Enter”, so she drove on.
She finally found a place to turn around and after being gone for 45 minutes, she made her way back to the campsite where Ken was standing soaked to the skin and fuming. He quietly opened the truck door, got in the cab and parked the rig in the space.
You would think that after hearing that story, it would deter me from ever thinking about embarking on a journey that is potentially fraught with mishaps and misadventures. But no, my mind doesn’t work like that. I immediately saw the challenge of the situation as a chance to solve a problem. I like to think that I would have broken the rules and entered the church parking lot and turned the rig around!
My life since then has been one of conformity. I worked a job, sometimes 2 jobs, paid my taxes, owned houses, got married again, and lived a life that our culture says one is supposed to live. The accumulation of material possessions, consumer debt, and long hours of work building a business kept me tied to a paradigm so tightly it strangled any thoughts of any life that could be different; that might be extra-ordinary.
Now, by breaking some rules and living outside the Box, I hope to have a life that is inspired and inspiring. That’s why I am “Going with the Flo”.