Tag Archives: travel

Amazing Places

We have had the pleasure of visiting some very interesting places over the last six months.  And most have been within half a days drive from our stay in June Lake, California.

We’ve been in the presence of the highest peak and lowest point in the lower 48, the largest (by volume) tree and the largest (by diameter) tree in the world, the oldest known trees in the world, the tallest waterfall in North America, and the tallest trees in the world.  It has been quite an educational experience for all of us!

The highest point in the lower 48!

Mount Whitney, located in the High Sierra Mountains.

Mount Whitney, located in the High Sierra Mountains.

The hottest, driest, and lowest place in the U.S and Western Hemisphere.

Death Valley NP

Badwater Basin

A view of Badwater Basin!

A view of Badwater Basin

The largest known tree by volume.

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park!

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park

Largest diameter tree.

The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park!

The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park

The oldest known living trees!

Located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California

Located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California

The tallest waterfall in North America at 2,425 feet!

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park

The world’s tallest trees!

Coastal Redwoods in Humboldt County.

Coastal Redwoods in Humboldt County

Coastal Redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks.

Coastal Redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks

 

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

Serving Others

Our service group for the week...Alex, Tim, myself, and Autumn!  Photo credit: one of our amazing ISL staff members

Our service group for the week…Alex, Tim, myself, and Autumn! Photo credit: one of our amazing ISL staff members

It has been nearly six months since Tim and I (and a fellow colleague and new found friend) returned from our physical therapy service trip to Costa Rica.  It has taken me a while to truly process my experience while serving in such a beautiful country.  This process was certainly derailed by my reading of the book, Doing Good Is Simple by Chris Marlow (founder of Help One Now) shortly after returning home.  A book I highly recommend if you’re looking for ways to serve others!  And one that I wish I had read prior to my trip not after…

A simple side and look into service work.  Photo credit: myself

A simple side and look into service work. Photo credit: myself

Prior to leaving (with a vague itinerary), I felt ready for whatever situation we may be placed in while serving there…I was so wrong!  I was guilty of thinking I had the perspective I needed for this trip.  Reading articles, watching videos, talking with others, etc did nothing to prepare me for the emotions that would hit me hard throughout our service project.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Myself and a colleague had the bittersweet pleasure of getting to work at a place called Manos Abiertas.  What a special place this is, and one that will forever be etched on my heart!  This place is so full of life, even amidst an undertow of suffering.  The many stories of suffering were overshadowed by the amazing staff and volunteers, who are caring for some of the most vulnerable children and adults in Costa Rica.  At times, the joy on the residents’ and staffs’ faces were almost palpable, which was inspiring after hearing about the many struggles they endured.  This is the kind of place that can be hard on the heart, but so worth taking your heart to.  A place I truly hope to return to someday!

A place that helped shape my heart.  Photo credit: Manos Abiertas website

A place that helped shape my heart. Photo credit: Manos Abiertas website

Autumn and I with the best translators and ISL staff...Pouchi and Lau

Autumn and I with the best translators and ISL staff…Pouchi and Lau

Autumn and I with the amazing physical therapists at Manos Abiertas...Javier, Gustavo, and Esteban

Autumn and I with the amazing physical therapists at Manos Abiertas…Javier, Gustavo, and Esteban

My trip reflection
It may seem cliche, but hindsight truly is 20/20, especially after a trip like this.  My pre-trip, somewhat naive self learned so much more than bargained for throughout the many eye-opening and heartfelt experiences.  Following this retrospection I’ve discovered three repeating thoughts that will hopefully result in a greater impact during my future adventures, here in the States and abroad.

The first, WHO is the trip impacting?
Prior to the trip, I was looking forward to how I would be able to impact the people I came in contact with during my time there.  However, by the end, I was realizing just how much of an influence they were having on me.  Looking back, the ebb and flow of the relationships I made were very much one of mutual give and take.  And being more aware of this kind of connection and realizing how important this two-sided relationship benefits both, will only add to my future mission experiences.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

The second is, HOW are you impacting the people and the community?
Pondering the ways in which your time and effort will impact the people you are there to serve is something I considered, but didn’t intentionally think about until I was in Costa Rica.  Since I had never traveled outside the US for something like this before, I really had no idea what to expect.  Finding ways to make your service impact more than just the people you directly work with is important.  Encouraging those you connected with to then go out into their community and inspire others is where success is found.

This is what I want to encourage in those I cross paths with.  Photo credit: Pinterest

This is what I want to encourage in those I cross paths with. Photo credit: Pinterest

And lastly, WHAT impact are you leaving behind?
This to me, is by far the most important thing to consider before signing up for a service or mission trip.  Knowing how the organization maintains relationships (long after you’ve come and gone) in the community you’re serving is crucial to the long term benefits of the people living there.  This is one thing I had never really considered until reading countless articles on the ways short-term mission trips and pop-up mission organizations can sometimes be a detriment to the communities visited and how much more an area can flourish with lasting support.  Which is why finding a company that had an established presence in the community was crucial for me.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

I encourage you to take a trip and experience different cultures, hear other languages, and learn about the ways of life outside the safety of your community, it may just be the best thing you could do…at least it has been for me!

Love God, Love People, Serve Others ❤️

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

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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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!

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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!

 

Leaving the stuff behind…

Over the last five years, Tim and I have been working toward a more simple, self-sufficient lifestyle.  We’ve managed to fill our medicine cabinet with essential oils and natural products, made our own cleaning products, expanded our garden every year, canning and freezing anything we could and worked to be more conscious of the effects affects (I may learn this one day) we have on our environment.
Even with these changes we still had, and were surrounded by stuff.  Stuff that required dusting, organizing, rearranging and putting away every week, if not everyday.
I was only working part-time and still felt that all my extra time was spent doing dishes, laundry, sweeping and picking up clutter instead of hanging out with my kids. Oh the mom-guilt!  

Travel Quote

Photo courtesy of Pinterest


With all of this, Tim and I have decided to leave the rat-race, keep up with the Jones’s, have to have it now, need more stuff lifestyle.  It may be in a drastic, completely out of the norm way, but why not, we only have a very short time here on this beautiful, God-given earth.

 

Go Explore

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

 So…the house is for sale, the 5th wheel and truck are purchased and the purging, organizing and packing have begun!  

 

Listed on 9/22/14

Listed on 9/22/14

Our new home

Our new home….name has yet to be determined, suggestions are welcome!

2006 Chevy Silverado 3500HD aka. "Our new chariot"

2006 Chevy Silverado 3500HD aka. “Our new chariot”

We are so excited for this next adventure…let the fun begin!  

Looking forward to taking you inside our home as I continue to make it feel “homey” :)