Tag Archives: our journey

Tim went for a walk

A really long walk on the Pacific Crest Trail is what the summer and fall revolved around for our family.  It has been a memorable experience for all of us, with many priceless lessons learned.  

Our family picture before Tim started his epic journey!

Our family picture before Tim started his epic journey!

Tim set out over a year ago with plans to hike about half of the 2,650 miles of the PCT.  Not really having any idea of what to expect once on the trail, except for what he had gleaned from the copious amounts of reading he had done about the PCT and long distance hiking.  So, we bought gear, made camping reservations for the kids and I, figured out resupply points and approximate dates for meeting up, how to communicate with us while hiking, and countless other logistics in our attempts to reach his goal.  Most of this was done before knowing about the high snowfall year (record setting in places), late snow melt, unforeseen foot problems, near record setting heat waves, wildfires galore, worsening sleep issues, and more homesickness than he had imagined.  

Figuring out the logistics...planning miles, resupply points, alternate routes, etc.

Figuring out the logistics…planning miles, resupply points, alternate routes, etc.

REI, happily accepted much of our time and money!

REI, happily accepted much of our time and money!

The gear, the food, the hours and hours of prep!

The gear, the food, the hours and hours of prep!

One thing Tim has mentioned in hindsight, is that he would have planned this adventure much like how it actually turned out.  Walking half the miles he had planned to, in the same amount of time.  And he would have done more cherry-picking in order to hike “the most scenic” sections of trail during the best time of year!

Walking behind Tunnel Falls.

Walking behind Tunnel Falls.

Views of the magnificent Mt. Hood!

Views of the magnificent Mt. Hood!

The kids and I are so proud of his accomplishments.

The kids and I are so proud of his accomplishments.

Just a walk in the fog-filled woods.

Just a walk in the fog-filled woods.

The beauty of mossy bridges!

The beauty of mossy bridges!

Lessons learned from the trail…

It’s unforgiving on the feet, which slowed him down more than he had anticipated.  He wore out 2 pair of hiking shoes and finished off a pair of hiking boots he picked up from a hiker box.  His feet had blisters on top of blisters in the first 2 weeks on the trail.  In hindsight, he realized that he may not have had these issues had he attempted this venture before his calluses from the steel mill wore off from being a stay-at-home dad.

Epsom salt foot bath after 400 miles of trail under his belt.

Epsom salt foot bath after 400 miles of trail under his belt.

Borrowed boots from the Burney Falls hiker box.

Borrowed boots from the Burney Falls hiker box.

Gorilla tape is superior to duct tape for all things long distance hiking.  This became evident when trying to keep his shoes from tearing up his feet.  And also attempting to keep the corners together of his (very used) tent.

Campsite views of Mt. Jefferson!

Campsite views of Mt. Jefferson!

Water is never hard to come by when hiking in last years “snow”, or as Tim puts it, ice in the mornings and slush by the afternoons.  However, finding the trail is much more difficult in the snow, and worse when you’re one of the first through the area for the season.

Finding the trail in the snow!

Finding the trail in the snow!

All the snow!

All the snow!

Finding a dry place to camp was difficult in the snow!

Finding a dry place to camp was difficult in the snow!

When your already poor sleep quality is exaggerated while on the trail, his reading material helped pass the time.  He was already an avid reader prior to this adventure, so he chose some classics to help pass the time while in the wilderness.

Books that made the trek along the PCT, minus Tom Sawyer: which was left in the hiker box at Burney Falls.

Books that made the trek along the PCT, minus Tom Sawyer: which was left in the hiker box at Burney Falls.

Homesickness was more apparent and at the forefront of much of his thoughts throughout his hike.  He thought seeing the kids and I once a week or so would be enough to keep it at bay; however, it ended up leading to more breaks from the trail.  And these breaks afforded us the opportunity to go on more adventures as a family and to really explore the places we were calling home along the way!  Not to mention, we added six more National Park stamps in the kids passport books.

Resupply trip for dad at Frog Lake.

Resupply trip for Tim at Frog Lake.

Seeing lava fields for the first time at McKenzie Pass!

Seeing lava fields for the first time at McKenzie Pass!

Building walls in Odell Lake!

Building walls in Odell Lake!

Sunset at Odell Lake!

Sunset at Odell Lake!

Camping at Burney Falls!

Camping at Burney Falls!

Exploring Lassen National Park, a beautiful place.

Exploring Lassen National Park, a beautiful place.

I could follow these three for miles!

I could follow these three for miles!

Learning how to purify water with dad!

Learning how to purify water with dad!

Swimming near Indian Falls!

Swimming near Indian Falls!

Learning about gold mining with dad.

Learning about gold mining with dad.

In the end, or maybe even the beginning, Tim knew he had no desire to be a thru-hiker.  After spending the summer and fall on an epic long distance hike he realized the journey was about way more than the amount of miles he walked.  All of the trials and joys he experienced on the trail were very much a part of the adventure.  And what an adventure it has been!

Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson

Camping amongst the Lava fields, apparently not the most comfortable place to sleep.

Camping amongst the Lava fields, apparently not the most comfortable place to sleep.

Pacific Crest trail, somewhere in Oregon!

Pacific Crest trail, somewhere in Oregon!

Many miles of trail.

Many miles of trail.

The beauty through the wildfire smoke!

The beauty through the wildfire smoke!

Near Lassen Peak

Near Lassen Peak

Water as smooth as glass.

Water as smooth as glass.

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In the midst of Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe.

In the midst of Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe.

What can seem like a never ending trail.

What can seem like a never ending trail.

Walking along the saddle of a mountain ridge.

Walking along the saddle of a mountain ridge.

Tim spent many nights sleeping without his tent.

Tim spent many nights sleeping without his tent.

The trail leading toward the high Sierra.

The trail leading toward the high Sierra.

The GPS tracking of Tim's hike.

The GPS tracking of Tim’s hike. Approximately 6 weeks on the trail walking 650 miles!

The mountains are calling…

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

To bring you up to speed, we have been traveling and living the full-time RV lifestyle for the last two and a half years.  I have been working various assignments around the country as a travel physical therapist.  And my hubs has taken on the role of stay-at-home dad, head chef, dish-washer, laundry-doer, dog-walker-feeder-caretaker, potty-trainer, swim instructor, and teacher of all things; to name a few.  Without either of us, this journey would not be possible; and certainly, a lot less entertaining.

Photo credit: personal photo edited in Canva app

Photo credit: personal photo edited in Canva app

So when your husband, who has played an integral role in the last two and a half years, mentions (on more than one occasion) he would like to attempt a long distance hike; you jump on board and support the h@&$ out of that goal.  Because, obviously I’ve had the easier job over the past couple years, since I get to leave our “tiny home on wheels” everyday and go to work.

THE GOAL: Attempt a 1,500 mile section-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in ~100 days

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Our current transient lifestyle makes it easier to bring these “crazy” ideas to fruition.  Which also leads to greater flexibility when planning such a monumental feat.  Although preparation is a critical part of this goal, figuring out logistics and making concrete plans has been difficult, because…Mother Nature…she has been here long before us and will be here long after us.  Most of these uncertainties are due to the weather, snow pack, snow melt, miles walked per day, caloric intake/expenditure, unforeseen challenges, etc.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Author unknown Photo credit: Pinterest

I thought I would take a moment to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions and voiced concerns we get from various people we’ve told…

Is Tim going by himself?
Yes, his plan is to hike alone!  He is not afraid of the dark, creepy crawly things, or sleeping outside.  He has been preparing for this adventure for the last year and is looking forward to what the trail has in store for him…physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

What will myself and the kids do without Tim?
Our main purpose will be keeping Tim alive by supplying him with food.  We will be meeting up with him at various trail crossings every five days or so to make sure he has enough calories to make it to the next meet-up.  It should be a pretty adventurous summer and fall, for all of us!

How will Tim protect himself?
Having respect for the wilderness and being aware of his surroundings will certainly come in handy.  That and we’re pretty sure his smell after a few days will deter any predators from wanting him for lunch.  Various other backpacking tips of not cuddling your food at night or sleeping where you eat are also known ways to prevent creatures from visiting.  Oh, AND he will have a Delorme In-reach that can ping his location, provide him with gps maps, text his wife, and send an SOS…so no worries!

Many people, including us, enjoy life indoors with climate controlled environments and food easily attained from the local grocery store.  However, people have lived in and explored the wilderness for centuries.  And they definitely did not have any of our modern day conveniences to make their trek safer.

Dirt paths are usually the best kind of paths.  Photo credit: Pinterest

Dirt paths are usually the best kind of paths. Photo credit: Pinterest

While some people may think we’re crazy (which we may be), many have found our plans to be exciting.  And hopefully this journey will inspire just a few to occasionally live outside their comfort zones.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

John Muir was a wise man!  Photo credit: Pinterest

John Muir was a wise man! Photo credit: PinterestWander

Despite the struggles...this lifestyle is still "worth the squeeze!"  Photo credit: Snapped photo edit

RV Living: Worth the Squeeze?

As we are nearing our two year nomadiversary, I reflect back on some of our struggles since starting this crazy wonderful adventure.  We spent the last 6 months back home in Indiana and were asked about our living situation by our friends and family on more than one occasion.  We are used to the way our lifestyle opens up a dialogue with complete strangers we may never see again, but it can be a bit different with people you know and see on a regular basis.  Some people we’ve met and talked with do not completely understand why anyone would willing choose this lifestyle.  And quite frankly, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve wondered the same thing!

I’m sure after previous posts over the last two years and having a glimpse of how great RV living can be, you all want to go out and buy a RV and travel the country. <written in sarcasm text>. This lifestyle is pretty amazing and rather epic, but with that comes the reality that everyday isn’t like this.  We have days that are rough; stuff breaks, things happen, and it’s not always rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns.  I’ll attempt to shed some light on the less than ideal moments one might find themselves in while full-timing in a RV (from personal experience).

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Mechanical Issues

We bought our RV new in the fall of 2014 and hit the road that December.  We had a one year warranty on everything and before we even brought it home, we knew of a few things that needed attention, which were all minor repairs.  Living within 3 hours of the dealer and not actually living in the RV yet, made it fairly easy to have it in the shop for warranty work.  However, once it becomes your home and you’re on the road and you could be over 6 hours from a dealer; makes for a whole new logistical nightmare.  This became evident last summer when our master bedroom slide wouldn’t push out.  We were living in “middle of nowhere” Northern California coast and over 6 hours from a dealer that would need our “home” in the shop for several days…not going to happen.  So, naturally we lived with our slide stuck in for 5 months.  Affording us the opportunity to climb over the bed to do laundry or get to the closets, and lifting the bed to get into our dresser (first world problems, but still an inconvenience)!  When you only have 400 square feet and you lose 12 “very functional” square feet, it can be a struggle.

Now I hold my breath every time we have to push slides in or out

Now I hold my breath every time we have to push slides in or out

Mother Nature

We also had a run in (literally) with Mother Nature last summer, thankfully no one was hurt and fortunately neither was our camper.  We had a perfect and large campsite at the back of the campground on the beach in Westport, CA. Unfortunately, one of our shade trees decided it no longer needed one of its’ very large branches.

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Thankful for the campground crew that came and successfully removed the branch with no damage to the awning our RV.

Thankful for the campground crew that came and successfully removed the branch with no damage to the awning or our RV.

Leaks

The dreaded word in the RV world and rightfully so, they can be difficult to remedy and hard to find the culprit.  We found a wet spot near our washer, and figured that was the problem, unfortunately it was not.  Once everything was dry, we then used caulk on every seam on the outside of our camper near the leak location and voila, no more wet carpet!

Caulk...an RVers "duct tape"

Caulk…an RVers “duct tape”

Tire Blowouts

These are definitely not out of the ordinary for full time RV travel, but somehow we managed to go over 10,000 miles around the country before experiencing one.  Very thankful for a husband that is so mechanically inclined.  His expertise has diverted many disasters over the last two years!

Somewhere in New Mexico

Somewhere in New Mexico

Less is More

We have always said “less is more” when we started talking about this kind of a lifestyle.  I agree with this in nearly every aspect of our lifestyle except, our kitchen counter space, and lack of it!  What I wouldn’t give for just four more square feet some days!

It can get a bit ridiculous when trying to make certain meals

It can get a bit ridiculous when trying to make certain meals

Cleaning

It’s a breeze when you have such a small space; but because of this, you (okay, I) tend to want it constantly clean and picked up.  It has been awesome living on the beaches in California and amongst the beautiful pines of Oregon, but the sand and pine needles that consumed our tiny space was my nemesis.  

Our sandy beach in Westport versus the pine along the Umpqua River in Roseburg

Our sandy beach in Westport versus the pine along the Umpqua River in Roseburg

RV Language

There has also been a learning curve to the RV world lingo.  For example, we are now a FTF (full time family) that sold their S&B (stick and brick home), bought a 5er (5th wheel RV), and now roam the country exploring all that it has to offer.  So, we now live a much simpler life in a 400 square foot, split level ranch on a “basement”, that happens to have wheels!  Perception is everything!  

RV life is slow and simple and amusing, and living this way reminds me to walk gently in these moments without worry or busyness.  It’s a lifestyle we’ve chosen; and sometimes you have to take some bad to have this much good.

Despite the struggles...this lifestyle is still "worth the squeeze!"  Photo credit: Snapped photo edit

Despite the struggles…this lifestyle is still “worth the squeeze!” Photo credit: Snapseed photo editor

Be the change…

It has been a personal goal of mine over the last couple of years to find ways to “lend a hand” and give hope to as many people as possible, while in return, growing into what I hope is an improved version of myself.  While this is certainly not an easy-do-over-night task, it has been, and absolutely will be, worth it in the end.

Striving to make these my "eulogy virtues".

Striving to make these my “eulogy virtues”.

Shifting my thoughts from selfishness to altruism, is part of my ever growing moral bucket list and a definite work in progress.  I would say this intentional living thought process was initiated when I married my favorite person.  It began to evolve once we had kids, and took a drastic hold after going through a very eye-opening and heartbreaking loss in the murky depths of international adoption.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

In the midst of this journey we met some incredible people that are stepping up, taking risks, and showing the love of Jesus to the poorest of poor.  These women and their families are doing amazing work and have started organizations that promote family preservation, health, and education to those that would otherwise not have access to these “basic” needs through monthly or yearly sponsorships.  We have the pleasure of helping a family through A Heart for Korah and a “street kid” through Life Thru EDU.

For the full details of how we moved from a heartbreaking loss to a story of sharing hope see my earlier blog post “Beauty from Ashes”.

http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/beauty-from-ashes/

It is truly a blessing for us to have the opportunity to bring a little hope and love to these “strangers” lives.  We have been able to communicate with our sponsored families through letters, which they impart how grateful they are for our support, but I’m not sure they will ever know just how much they have impacted my life, all while I was attempting to change theirs.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Because we have become passionate toward helping others and looking for more ways to make a greater impact on others, I was drawn to Trades of Hope.

Be a world changer... Photo credit: personal photo from the Hine family farm

Be a world changer…
Photo credit: personal photo from the Hine family farm

Trades of Hope is a company that gives women in poverty an opportunity for a better life, a life that they now feel empowered to change.

These artisans have been rescued from sex slavery, others are single women raising handicapped children, some are in war torn countries, and others have aids and leprosy. These women have never had the chances we’ve had, yet they are just like us in so many ways. They hope and dream of a better life for their families.

Here in the U.S., we are helping by marketing their products through the home and online party model, so they can put food on their table, a roof over their head, receive medical care, and provide an education for their children. We want to tell their stories to the world.

Check out their stories and beautiful products here:

www.mytradesofhope.com/stephaniehine

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

All women really want is to feel strong, loved, dignified, and respected.  And what these artisans create allows them to feel this and when you wear their products, this feeling can trickle into your own heart, mind, and soul (I know it does for me).

A word from Sanskrit and Pali, spoken in India that has no English counterpart.  Considered one of the Four Immeasurables in Buddhism. Photo credit: Pinterest

A word from the Sanskrit and Pali language, spoken in India, that has no English counterpart. Considered one of the Four Immeasurables in Buddhism.
Photo credit: Pinterest

So, after being introduced to what this company stands for, my support of them only grew.  Which is how I decided to become a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope.  I’m able to purchase their beautiful products for myself, give them as gifts, tell others about the artisans, raise awareness, empower women, and most importantly give hope!

This new journey is not a business for me, but an avenue to further my global impact.  I will be donating any and all of my earnings and free products to A Heart for Korah and Life Thru EDU to provide hope and opportunity for others.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Please visit my website www.mytradesofhope.com/stephaniehine for more information on Trades of Hope, to shop, ask a question, book a party with me, or join my team!

For information on A Heart for Korah visit: www.aheartforkorah.com

For information on Life Thru EDU visit: www.lifethruedu.org

 

Be blessed

❤

Salt in the air

As our time on the west coast is nearing an end (at least for the next 6 months), I’m already fearing a future withdraw of the coast and all it has to offer.

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

We have now lived on the west coast for nearly a year, and six of those months have been spent within a five minute walk to the beach.  The affinity I have developed for this place is difficult to describe, but I know it’s more than just the salt in the air.  I have no great literary language, nor am I a writer by any stretch of the word, so trying to put into words the feelings I’ve had living here is nearly impossible.

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

With that said, a word picture of my big feelings for this place would fail miserably.  So…while these pictures do not do it justice, I’ll try to portray some of the beauty that I have become so fond of and the reason it may feel so hard for me to leave!

(Photo credits: myself and an iPhone)

Mendocino coast

Mendocino coast

My daily drive along Highway 1 from Westport to Fort Bragg!

My daily drive to work along Highway 1 from Westport to Fort Bragg!

The view from our campground at Westport Beach

The view from our campground at Westport Beach

The big trees...nothing like the Northern California coast!  The ocean in your front yard and the redwoods in your backyard (photo credit: Tim, my partner in crime)

The big trees…nothing like the Northern California coast! The ocean in your front yard and the redwoods in your backyard (photo credit: Tim, my partner in crime)

A California coast sunset...never gets old!

A California coast sunset…never gets old!

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Along the PCH somewhere between Bodega Bay and Point Arena

Along the PCH somewhere between Bodega Bay and Point Arena

Westport Beach sunset

Westport Beach sunset

A view you will find all over the west coast...photo of a friend we met in Fort Bragg who ran a surf school!

A view you will find all over the west coast…photo of a friend we met in Fort Bragg who ran a surf school!

Footprints in the sand (photo credit: my gypsy soul sister, Autumn Gillen)

Footprints in the sand (photo credit: my gypsy soul sister, Autumn Gillen)

From the beaches of California to the beautiful mountains of Oregon!

From the beaches of California to the beautiful mountains of Oregon!

We spent the last year surrounded by great wineries!  The view from Cooper Ridge tasting room...delightful wine and lovely atmosphere!

We spent the last year surrounded by great wineries! The view from Cooper Ridge tasting room…delightful wine and lovely atmosphere!

Ruestle Winery in Roseburg, Oregon

Ruestle Winery in Roseburg, Oregon

Toketee Falls

Toketee Falls

Tioga Bridge over the Umpqua River

Tioga Bridge over the Umpqua River

Crater Lake...leaves you speechless!

Crater Lake…leaves you speechless!

The Oregon coast

The Oregon coast

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

The trail leading to the lighthouse

The trail leading to the lighthouse

The Oregon dunes at Honeyman State Park

The Oregon dunes at Honeyman State Park

Back to the California coast...Santa Barbara pier

Back to the California coast…Santa Barbara pier

Palm trees in Santa Barbara

Palm trees in Santa Barbara

The rugged coast along Montaña de Oro State Park

The rugged coast along Montaña de Oro State Park

Wildlife in their natural habitat...the elephant seals of San Simeon

Wildlife in their natural habitat…the elephant seals of San Simeon

Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay, California

The native flowers, the harbor, floating sea otters, and as Griffin puts it "our rock"!

The native flowers, the harbor, floating sea otters, and as Griffin puts it “our rock”!

Morro Bay, California...one of the many places we have called home during our travels!

Morro Bay, California…one of the many places we have called home during our travels!

I’m sure it’s difficult to empathize through just these pictures, but the feelings I have with just looking through them is amazing, and habit-forming, and leaves you wanting more!

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

Although our journey so far has been wonderful, it has done little to satisfy my wanderlust.  Quite on the contrary, it has only furthered my desire to go and explore more places, connect with more people, learn more things, and to grow myself along the way!

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The “bittersweetness” of finding community while on the road

We never realized how much we missed the “community” feeling that living in the same area can bring, until it wasn’t there.   Having the familiar to lean back on is one thing that can be easily taken for granted, and living in the unfamiliar can shine a light on that.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

We never know exactly what to expect when we get to a new place, even with all of the research we do before hand.   Most of my work assignments have only been 2-3 months, which limits the time to build any kind of lasting relationship with anyone.  However, this time we landed for 5 months.  And finally, after a year on the road, we found that feeling of community in Roseburg, Oregon!

(I have wrote in the past about some of these feelings of community and how we try to find ways to attain them while on the road:

http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/fostering-a-sense-of-community/)

I’ve thought a lot about what has made this place different from all of the others, and why it was so easy to gain that community feeling.  Reflecting over our time spent here these past few months brings to mind several memories; most of which, involve the many lovely people we’ve met and now call friends.   During this time, I noticed a few differences in how we spent our time in this community compared to the past places we’ve called home.

1. Community Involvement

This has been the biggest difference since being in Roseburg.  We were lucky enough to live only 6 miles from a YMCA and had the luxury of a bike lane along the entire route.  We took advantage of many aspects of the local Y.  Community and member family swims, child watch for the kids during workouts (which Amelia loved), enrolled Griffin in 2-day per week preschool, and Itty Bitty soccer and basketball for Griffin.  These many trips to the Y allowed us to run into several of the same families!  One of these families have left a lasting impression on us and we will cherish the time we got to spend with them.  The Smith family will be lifelong friends.  We were able to share many adventures with them and their two kids; trip to the safari park, ride through the Festival of Lights, couples date, exchanging babysitting services, birthday celebrations, girl’s night out, and play dates with the kids!

Fun at the Safari park with the Smith family!

Fun at the Safari park with the Smith family!

Beautiful couple

Beautiful couple

Boys and their Legos

Boys and their Legos

BFF's

BFF’s

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

2. Church Family

One of the most challenging things about a new place, is finding a church to call home for the short period we’re there.  The kids and I are regular attenders of a Sunday fellowship, which gives our non-churched stay at home dad/husband a chance to relax without interruptions from the little people.  We feel fortunate to have stumbled into Wellspring Bible Fellowship early in our stay and felt welcomed by everyone.   We found a good fit amongst some great and loving people.  Sunday school, a weekly small group, caroling at local nursing facilities, Christmas drama, and a New Year’s Eve party were a few of the activities we were involved in with our Wellspring friends.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

3. Togetherness in light of tragedy

On October 1st, an event happened in Roseburg that has forever changed this community and affected so many lives.  I have never been so near to or made aware daily of such tragedy.  The mass school shooting at Umpqua Community College definitely added to a closeness within the community.  It is unfortunate that it seemed to take such a tragedy to bring people together regardless of their differences.  The support that the people of Roseburg provided to everyone in the community was heart warming.  There were multiple events and fundraisers and nearly every business that had a marque, showed their support.  #UCCStrong #RoseburgStrong #IAmAChristian

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Looking forward to the next adventure, while having to leave our new friends behind is what makes finding a community on the road so bittersweet!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Opinions from a traveling therapist

Disclaimer: These are just my opinions through work experience and observation, so take from it what you want.  You will find no evidenced-based, double blind, randomized controlled research here, be thankful for that!

PT symbol
     Many of you know that I work as a travel physical therapist (PT), which is turning out to be a lucrative career choice for supporting our wanderlust lifestyle.  Before hitting the road, I worked at an outpatient clinic for a great therapist-owned company in Indiana for over five years (shout out to Indiana Physical Therapy).  I was also working prn at a close to home skilled nursing facility (the best I’ve worked in to date). But I started to have the desire to do something different, which happened to be; sell everything, buy an RV, and take 13-week contracts in various parts of the country in order to fund this nomadic adventure.  So far it’s been incredible!  This type of change is quite drastic and not for everyone.  However, I’m sure many of you have felt some sort of complacency in your life or career, and I was nearing that point (insert: current crazy nomad life)
Photo credit: Steph at Lemolo Falls in Oregon

Photo credit: Steph at Lemolo Falls in Oregon

     Since hitting the road, I’ve worked in Bay City, Texas at a skilled nursing facility; Sulphur Springs, Texas at an outpatient clinic; Fort Bragg, California at a skilled nursing facility; and Roseburg, Oregon at the VA hospital in outpatient with a handful of inpatient.  This variety has allowed me to see just how different healthcare can be, based on the type of setting and the sector.
 Travel by State
     There are some big differences I’ve noted between the private sector and the government sector (limited experience/observation in one particular VA region), each with their own advantages and disadvantages.  Although the majority of my career has been spent in the private sector, I am starting to get a feel for a government run “business”, if you want to call it that.  The private sector as a, “for-profit model” and the government sector as a, “mis-used tax dollars with good intentions model”.  (Unfortunately, some politicians claim that “some things are too big to fail”, they clearly have lost sight of the definition of fail and haven’t spent much time at the VA speaking with veterans)
     When I first started in August, between two nearby VA facilities (70 miles apart), there were over 300 PT consults not yet scheduled.  I was evaluating patients that had PT orders placed in April and May, which seems completely unacceptable.  What was an acute condition for a patient, has now transitioned to a chronic one, all because of lack of access to care.   You rarely, if ever, see these kinds of wait times in the PT private sector (from my experience).   And much of this lack of access to care has to do with all of the “unnecessary” government red tape and “VA clinical pathway policies”.  Many non-productive employees (which is way to many for any kind of efficiency to follow), having meetings about the meetings, driving up overhead costs, and delaying treatment, which only hurts the veterans.
     Now, I hate to seem too negative because there are a few perks, besides free healthcare for our veterans, to the VA.  One being the readily accessible stocked assistive devices, modalities, equipment, etc that we can issue to veterans as needed.  Also, having the option to order whatever we need to help improve a veteran’s function is a welcomed bonus, especially when not dealing with insurance or third party payers, like in the private sector.  Sending equipment home with a veteran the same day is awesome and has resulted in hugs by patient’s and their families (only slightly awkward for the non-hugger like me).  Unfortunately the perks do not outweigh how disheartening it is to see what some of these veterans have to go through to get access to care.   Many of my patients drive over 3 hours just to reach a VA facility with appropriate services.
Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

     Insufficient funding with limited oversight of a broken system is the greatest downfall of the government sector.  This leads to less locations with full services, significantly understaffed facilities, and an underserved veteran population.
     Now over the past year, I had begun to grow an appreciation for some type of free healthcare system, that was until I worked 5 months at a VA facility and realized that the government should never run a healthcare system.  Don’t get me wrong, there is great care to be had through the VA; if only you could get timely access to it.
     I really don’t like to complain about things without having a solution or at least a realistic idea for changing a situation.  Currently the VA attempts to remedy this access issue by creating policies for the policies and cutting clinical positions, which in my short time at the VA does not appear to work.  It seems the logical steps to help this problem would be to minimize administrative positions and hire more actual productive clinicians. However unrealistic those ideas fantasies might be, we should still attempt to channel our inner Lorax and Horton to work toward some kind of change.
Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

     Even with all of the pitfalls within the VA system, I am thoroughly enjoying my time working with the veterans.  Having the opportunity to hear their stories is very rewarding when dealing with all the government bureaucracy.   I hope we can find a way to better serve our veterans that have sacrificed more than we know for our freedom.
*the pictures below are of the beautiful Roseburg VA campus
The place I called "home" for 20 weeks!

The place I called “home” for 20 weeks!

National cemetery

Roseburg National Cemetery on the VA campus

Roseburg National Cemetery on the VA campus

VA cemetery

5 Things We’ve Learned Through Life on the Road

Once again we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere on the coast of Northern California, without the luxuries of any wi-fi, cell service, radio stations or television.  Thankfully, the views, the atmosphere and the peacefulness, more than made up for it.  It’s amazing how quickly you can lose touch with what’s happening in the outside world (except for my occasional access while at work).  And now that we have it, I didn’t miss most of it.  Although, just having the access whenever you need it, is quite nice (Thank you Roseburg, OR for bringing us back to the 21st century).

Now, all of that said as “justification” for why my blog posts have been so sparse; however, our Facebook page has allowed for more frequent updates to our adventure!

And on to my thoughts….

When we started this adventure almost 9 months ago, we had no idea what to expect.  Neither Tim or I had done much RV camping when we decided to take the plunge into full-time RV living.  However, we have learned to adjust to the subtle and drastic changes that have entailed.  Here are five things we’ve learned in our travels and why we are embracing them, although, this lifestyle is not for everyone.

1. It’s not just an extended vacation

Many of the people we’ve met in the RV parks and campgrounds are there on a vacation of some sort.  So, after hearing our story, they compare our situation to an extended vacation, in which we nod our head in agreement.  All the while, in our heads, we’re thinking “raising a one year old and a three year old rarely feels like a vacation!”

She has a flair for the dramatic!

She has a flair for the dramatic!

Frequent occurrence around here...

Frequent occurrence around here…

Yes, our unconventional lifestyle does allow us to travel to see new places and explore new areas often, but none the less, we are still just living.  One of us leaves everyday to go to work and the other stays to take care of the kids, dogs, and house.  (Who has the easier job is a topic for another blog post!). We have more time together than we’ve ever had and so far it’s great (despite the above pictures)!

The beauty of Oregon…Watson Falls

The beauty of Oregon…Watson Falls

Nothing beats throwing rocks into the Umpqua River!

Nothing beats throwing rocks into the Umpqua River!

The beauty of Crater Lake

The beauty of Crater Lake

The littles playing on the beach at the Heceta Lighthouse on the Oregon coast!

The littles playing on the beach at the Heceta Lighthouse on the Oregon coast!

Enjoying Lemolo Falls in Oregon!

Enjoying Lemolo Falls in Oregon!

2. Finding everything

I have become an expert user of Google maps to search for anything and everything while researching our possible next location (I actually have a list of things to search for, not surprising to most).  Once we figure out what stores we will be supporting while in a particular location, we get to navigate the unknowns of the current store.  About the time we have the area figured out, we get to pack-up and start all over, which has become all part of the adventure!  The newness of always being a “tourist” has allowed us to find places and information about areas that some locals didn’t even know.  It’s actually quite interesting and exciting to see and learn how others live.  All the while working to enmesh ourselves in the community and make an effort to view others’ perspectives.

3. Cleaning is a breeze

With just over 400 square feet of living space, we find cleaning to be much less of a chore now, than when living in our stick and brick.  I can thoroughly clean the inside of our home in less than 45 minutes (that’s without “help” from the kids).   However, living in a small space does not favor messiness or toys being left out, so our kids are great at picking everything up every night.  (Which makes this “OCD” momma very happy)

From this to this

4. Everything is so much smaller

And I mean everything, from the oven, to the closets, to the size of the beds.  We had to purchase new pans that would fit in the oven and significantly downsize our kitchen supplies (Let’s face it, most of that was rarely used anyway).  We have three RV “twin” beds and one RV “king” bed, that are smaller than its conventional counterpart, so the sheets are always too big.  We were fortunate to have the option of a washer and dryer in our RV, which we gladly took advantage of.  But of course it’s smaller, so a load a day is essential to not getting behind on laundry (or so I’m told).  I’m lucky enough to have a husband that does the laundry, I can probably count on one hand how many loads of laundry I’ve done in the last 10 months.

5. Living with less really is more

We definitely go with significantly less than most Americans, but on the flip side we still have significantly more than those in the third world, which can be humbling.  Our kids are learning at a young age to live with far less than their fellow playground friends, but you sure wouldn’t know it.  Especially when they can be entertained far longer with a box or a blanket than a new matchbox car or doll.  Griffin has a saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know!” (He’s quite the little philosopher).
We’ve actually noticed on many occasions that our fellow “campers” tend to bring more with them for the weekend than we have in our entire home!

The few toys that made the cut to join our journey!

The few toys that made the cut to join our journey!

Our few outdoor toys plus the little's bikes not pictured

Our few outdoor toys plus the little’s bikes not pictured

Griffin's clothes

Griffin’s clothes

Amelia's clothes and few accessories!

Amelia’s clothes and a few accessories!

These are just a few things we’ve discovered during our new adventures.  We are loving this different lifestyle and all the “different” is exciting (at least for now), however; we may still be in the honeymoon phase (check back in another 10 months).

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Shifting our Perception of Happiness

Most of you know that in December we began our life on the road.  We sold nearly all of our belongings, put our house up for sale, and moved into our newly purchased 5th wheel RV with our two kids and two dogs.  Life as we knew it would be changed and hopefully for the better.

 

Our old home

Our old home

Our new home

Our new home

The conversations that Tim and I had over the last 5 years had evolved greatly.  Talks went from “material must-haves” to “how can we live a greener, simpler, more full-filled life.”  Things got deep in the Hine household!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

We did our part to lessen our carbon foot print with dreams of becoming more self-sustaining.  Growing, canning, and freezing from our garden, recycling everything we could, upgrades to the house to make it more efficient, buying second hand.  Working toward the “Laura Ingalls times,” but with 21st century perks of TV, Internet and cell phones, of course.

Our beautiful garden my husband worked so hard on at our former stick and brick house!

Our beautiful garden my husband worked so hard on at our former stick and brick house!

Even with these things and the conversations we had about simple living, we were surrounded by stuff, and time seemed to be a limited commodity.  We both worked a combine of at least 70 hours a week outside the home, two kids, two dogs, a “too big for us” house that was filled with stuff, which all required  time.  Clearly not everything was getting sufficient attention.  I believe they call this the “American Dream.”

Photo credit:  Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Many people live this lifestyle and love it, we did for over 30 years.  However, recent events in our lives (you can read about those in past blog posts), removed the blinders, so to speak.  We were oblivious to how the rest of the world lives and how our first world problems were and are so, so very small.

Photo credit:  Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

So we embarked on a journey to follow a dream, see the country, embrace cultures, give back, live simply, and have quality family time while doing it!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

First stop, Texas!  We new this journey would make it difficult to achieve a self-sustaining lifestyle.  However, Texas has made this far more challenging than we thought.  Let’s face it, we end up in a grocery store about every three days.  Our dependence on conventional food sources was not what we had in mind.  We have found no farmer’s markets during this Texas winter and health food stores are scarce, let alone the two grocery store options we have within 30 miles.  Mind you, we’ve only lived in rural Texas, so this may not apply everywhere.

Our main food source options…our current location does not have an HEB and I sure do miss it!  Photo credit:  Pinterest

Our main food source options…our current location does not have an HEB and I sure do miss it! Photo credit: Pinterest

We were fortunate to have resources available to us in Indiana that allowed us to recycle or donate everything we possibly could.  This is not the case for the places we’ve stayed in Texas.  Not only has it been hard to find places to recycle, it’s even more frustrating how many people don’t give a second thought to recycling, including the Texas State parks we’ve visited.  Sorry for the rant, but I hate throwing away things that can be recycled.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

However, what we have lost in green living, we have more than made up for in simple, clutter-free living and I’m not just referring to less stuff.  I’m talking about the freedom that comes with literally disconnecting from technology.

This tech-free living was not exactly by choice, rural Texas had a hand in that one.  The two different parks we’ve lived in, had little to no cell phone service, no wi-fi, no 4G hot spot capabilities and at best, 5 digital television channels.

While I was teetering on a tragedy to live without these things, my husband who was born without the “tech loving” gene thought it merely an occasional inconvenience.  I went from having an iPhone where I had access to anything at my fingertips to a phone that could barely text or make phone calls.  Fortunately, my work was located in a prime 4G location!  Tim went from a flip phone he rarely used to a flip phone he was rarely able to use.  We went from 15 digital TV channels in Indiana down to 5 channels, which were sadly not PBS.

We love PBS and going through withdraw…photo credit: Pinterest

We love PBS and going through withdraw…photo credit: Pinterest

Because of our lack of technology, we no longer had the TV on just because, I was no longer checking my phone for Facebook updates far too often, and the computer was rarely turned on.  We were definitely not getting our money’s worth from our Verizon data plan!

It really is amazing how many books you can read, and thought-provoking conversations you can have with your husband, without all of the outside world distractions.  We were living in a beautiful 3,000 acre State Park that aside from us and the park hosts, was nearly empty.  We caught the most beautiful sunset at Cooper Lake during one of our evening walks.  We have seen countless Texas wildlife and were able to “enjoy” the quiet beauty of the park following a heavy Texas snowfall.

The beauty of snow in Texas.  Photo credit: my hubby

The beauty of snow in Texas. Photo credit: my hubby

Footprints in the snow!  Photo credit: my hubby

Footprints in the snow! Photo credit: my hubby

Even though we had to drive to the highest point in the park to make a phone call, try four times to send a text, and not being able to catch my favorite show, the Blacklist, on NBC, we not only survived; we realized we can thrive in this environment once we changed our perception.  Hopefully this new found mindset will carry over to other aspects of our journey.

P.S. My husband, Tim, was my chief editor on this post.  Still talking him into a guest post on the blog about his adventures as Mr. Mom…stay tuned!

Life in Texas from a Hoosier perspective

Life in Texas from a Hoosier perspective

Let me preface with, this post ended up longer than I imagined due to the insufficient Internet we have around here resulting in far less frequent updates than I had planned.

We have officially been “Texans” for a little over two months now, so an expert on Texas I am not!  But I have made some observations about this particular part of Texas that we are currently parked.

First…the roads…most lead to nowhere!  It is nothing like Indiana, where you can just take the next county road if you miss your turn.  If you miss your road in Texas, then you better just turn around and go back because the next road will not take you anywhere near where you wanted to go.  Many of the county roads are “farm to market” roads and they literally go from someone’s farm to the nearest town. The roads here tend to move with the land and not through it (cars movie reference…you can thank Griffin for that!).  So, if there is a railroad, river or bayou, then the road will just “wind” around rather than cross over it.  Google maps can be either your ally or your enemy around here :)

This is how directions are around here.  Google puts roads where there are none and end roads before you reach your destination.

This is how directions are around here. Google puts roads where there are none and end roads before you reach your destination.

Let’s talk basketball!  I know Texas football is way more popular, but we decided to take the kids to a Friday night local high school basketball game because it’s not football season here.  Let’s just say, when we got there, we weren’t even sure we had the right night.  It did not hold a candle to Hoosier high school basketball games.  There were no cheerleaders, no big production at the start of the game, the whole town wasn’t there to watch.  It was definitely different.

Food in Texas…some of the best brisket and BBQ sandwiches around and one of those sandwiches was from a little roadside stand…it was excellent.  And beef is probably never in short demand around here, because everywhere you drive you see pastures and pastures of cows.

Cows, cows and more cows!

Cows, cows and more cows!

While we’re on the topic of food, I’d like to give a shout out to the late Dick Freeland and his Pizza Hut franchise in Northeast Indiana! None will compare, not even here in the Lone Star State ;). It has got to be their breadsticks…we will definitely be making a trip (or maybe two) when we make it back up north this summer!

Ahh..”The Texas cold front,” says the meteorologist…makes me laugh every time and quite happy during winter! A cold front in Texas means lows may be in the 40’s and highs in the 50’s.

Here is an example of a TX cold front!

Here is an example of a TX cold front!

The landscape around here is nothing to get excited about between the oil refineries and various chemical and nuclear plants, it leaves much to be desired.  However, a short drive south will bring you to the coast…and it is quite refreshing!  Not sure I would swim in the water (note the chemical plants I mentioned earlier), but the beach in Matagorda is natural and somewhat untouched by tourists!  At least this time of year (“winter” season).  It makes for a secluded walk on the beach and sandcastle building wherever you like!

These not so beautiful and smelly refineries are everywhere around here.

These not so beautiful and smelly refineries are everywhere around here.

Matagorda beach

Matagorda beach

The kids and Tim building sandcastles!

The kids and Tim building sandcastles!

Another beauty around here are the pin/live oak trees with branches full of Spanish moss.  There are silvopastures filled with them, which is much different than the pastures you see in Indiana.

 

The beauty of trees and moss!

The beauty of trees and moss!

And last, but certainly not least (also Griffin’s favorite part about our park)…the wildlife!  The park we are staying at is home to an extremely large herd of rather small Texas deer (they do not compare to the size of Indiana deer, but then again they only have to survive the Texas “cold fronts”).

 

Deer in Texas

Deer in Texas

The turtles and their ‘master’, the alligator can be caught sun bathing in the area swamp/bayou/creek?  Griffin loves walking to see if the alligator is out!

 

The "friendly to turtles" alligator of Riverside Park!

The “friendly to turtles” alligator of Riverside Park!

Image 14


We have also caught the local armadillo scurrying around at night.  They are quite elusive creatures and rarely caught on camera (at least not by me anyway).

And I can not forget to mention the famed bird of Indiana…the vulture…that flies south for the winter.  According to our park ranger they followed us here to perch on the tall cottonwood trees they have in our park.  Vultures by the masses can scare the crap out of you at night.  When they’re perched and something startles them=me high-tailing it back inside. :)

Oh the vultures…the cottonwood trees here are filled with them...

Oh the vultures…the cottonwood trees here are filled with them…

A side note: Matagorda county (our current residence) has one of the most variety of species and number of migratory birds in the south.

I’m sure after a few more months in this state, I will gain a much greater perspective!