Space Awareness

  When we first bought our motorhome and told friends and family our plans to move into it full-time we inevitably received this response:

Is that enough room? How will you fit everything in there? Won’t you get tired of each other?

This was not a spurious decision on our part, we had carefully considered this before our purchase and came to the conclusion that smaller would be better for us, for a variety of reasons.

We didn’t use most of our space anyway

After living in a variety of apartments over the years, gradually working our way up from a small one-bedroom to a roomy two-bed/two-bath with attached garage, we have noticed that we just don’t use that much space. Oh, we are able to fill as much space as we have available, but actually spending time in and utilizing space? Not so much and in predictable patterns.

No matter what grand ideas that we had for a spare room: office, art studio, guest bedroom, or neatly organized workshop/garage – it just became a storage space for unused items. We gravitate toward each other, so if one of us is in the living room doing something, the other can generally be found there as well.

  
Ultimately, we realized that we spend the majority of our time in the kitchen, dining area, living room (couch/laptop/TV), asleep in the bed, and of course the bathroom.

After living in a variety of apartments with differing floor plans, we also noticed that we prefer openness. We want the ability to interact from the kitchen to the dining area to the living area. The bedroom can be separate, as we primarily use it to sleep and store clothes.

An RV meets all of these requirements

It has a full kitchen, dining booth, and a couch-sized window seat in the main living area. There is a bedroom in the back, with a full-sized bed (which is what we’ve always had, no adjustment for us) and in-between there is a full bathroom.

  
The bathroom can be closed off from either or both the bathroom or living area, providing private spaces as desired.

Above the cab is additional storage and a pull-out twin bed. We keep our books on the shelves up there. There are privacy curtains available, so if we so desired, one of us can go and barricade ourselves in “the Library” for a bit of privacy.

All of the spaces that we actually use are available and open to each other – though they can be partitioned off so that we can have various spaces as we desire.

But what about when you get tired of each other?

Since we tend to gravitate toward each other anyway, we don’t seem to get tired of each other’s company. If we happen to, we will just plan a day separate from each other, or one of us will stay inside and the other will go out.

  
What did you do with all of your stuff?

We did put some things in storage. Most of my tools, a select few pieces of furniture, and some mementos. Fortunately, family kindly offered space so that we didn’t have to find a storage unit.

Between Goodwill, two yard-sales, family, and friends we dispensed with the rest of our possessions. (A process which Ashley had no trouble with while I struggled mightily. Though I appreciate and flirt with minimalism: I am still a natural saver and hoarder.)

In short, everything we own is being carried with us, or could be condensed down to a single storage shed.

So far we haven’t missed anything that we got rid of, and more than half of the things that we did bring along haven’t yet been touched.

How will we make do in such a small space?

Splendidly! We are minimizing material possessions in order to maximize our experiences and the relationships in our lives.

  

Journal entry – 4 July 2015, Sat

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

After last night’s festivities we slept in late. Had coffee on the porch, soaking up the morning sun. Then it was time to hit the road. We’re switching up our training plan for the week due to the holiday events – so for today we’re aiming for 30ish miles and hit 22. Paused in Oconomowoc to walk through the farmer’s market, though we didn’t have any cash with us. Then back to the cottage to begin preparing for tonight’s 4th party at the Merz’s house.

Joni was baking so to prevent traffic jams in the kitchen Ashley grabbed a shower while I hopped in the lake for a cool-down swim. After drying off in the sun on the pier I headed to Piggly Wiggly for bacon. Joining everyone else in the county, apparently. Only having one item allowed me to jump up and check out at customer service.

Ashley had begun baking cookies when I returned and with her and Joni both working it was full in the kitchen so I stayed out of the way and got some journaling and typing done.

Once they wrapped up I jumped in and put together the jalapeno poppers.

When everything finished we all headed over to the Merz’s. We had a fabulous time: food was delicious (ribs, sausages, and more) and everyone was so welcoming and friendly. Their whole family is just great!

We went out on their pontoon a couple of times and even got to see the boat parade while we were out.

   
   
As it grew dark we settled on the neighbor’s boat-house deck to watch the fireworks. We could see 3 sets over the trees, in addition to what the neighbors were shooting off. Great show and a fabulous way to see it!

After returning home Ashley and I sat out on the pier for a bit and watched the lights on the lake. Boats returning home, a couple of houses launching fireworks and across the channel someone was releasing chinese lanterns.

We are definitely blessed to have this adventure and to share it with such fabulous family and friends!

Journal entry – 3 July 2015, Fri

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Slept in a bit late this morning. After reading some during coffee we headed to the YMCA with Jim. Ash and I did some pullups and dips, then situps while tossing a medicine ball. Finally we headed to the pool and swam some laps before relaxing in the hot tub. Jim was waiting for us when we were done. What a great way to start the day! If we could find more Y’s like this one, which is super nice, we would definitely consider getting a pass. Might be worth looking up locations to check it out.

After heading out we checked out a couple of spots to temporarily store the RV over the busy weekend. The Parrish that Grandma Mare was a member of (Saint Joan of Arc) is happy to let us borrow a few spaces and is near-by. Looks like a winner!

We have lunch of fried eggs on home-made bread with salads (topped with Joni’s wonderful pickled beets) then read out on the porch. After a bit Ash and I grab some last things from the RV and Jim and I move it over to the parrish for the weekend. After returning we tuck our trailer back in their parking spot beside the house, with enough room to pull the car in behind it.

Joni and Ashley have planned dishes for tomorrow’s party and so the three of us head to Costco to pick up a few things. The day before the 4th weekend, they’re packed but have lots of samples out. We load up. After a quick stop at the Pick-n-Save we head home. Ashley puts together a fruit salad while I hang the hammock up.

We lie in the hammock; reading, journaling, and watching everyone out on the lake. After a bit we get cleaned up for a rip into Milwaukee. Ashley remembers a photo that Jackie posted of an Ethiopian meal she had while visiting and is curious to try it. Jim went to Ethiopia with the Peace Corps and loved their food. This restaurant, Alem, is his favorite here in the states. They know the owner, Mulu, and she knows them. She and Jim converse a bit in Amharic.

  
We have a glass of honey wine and all share a pot of spiced tea. Meals are typically eaten with tea or coffee, or a grain alcohol. They don’t use utensils, instead scooping up bites with bits of a flat bread that is fermented and fried on a griddle, like a crepe. Ashley and I’s meals came out on a shared platter, with another of the bread underneath everything, soaking up the juices.

  
Everything was so tasty! Lamb, beef, chicken, lentils, and collard greens. And it was fun to eat with our hands. We may have to look up some recipes for those lentils.

 
After finishing we walked down toward the lake and found a spot for the fireworks show. We had plenty of time to sit and chat before dark. After a few pyrotechnic “light checks” the show began. The fire-works were great and lasted nearly an hour! During the show the moon rose, big and full and red, tucked under the wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Beautiful and perfect for Independence Day.

    
Traffic on the way home wasn’t bad at all and we all fell asleep rather quickly.

Journal entry – 2 July 2015, Thurs

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

What a glorious day! Ashley and I woke, had coffee and a snack and hopped on our bikes for the day’s ride. There are some great bike trails in the county and we circled through a few areas on our trip. While exploring downtown Oconomowoc we spotted a sign for free yoga on the green Wednesday and Friday nights, with free paddleboard lessons following on Fridays. So we have a plan for tomorrow evening, since we’ve been wanting to try out paddle boarding.

 
Along the way we saw two baby bunnies, some grey heron/stork birds, and even a fawn from only a few feet away! Stopped at the park for some pullups, pushups, and dips.

  
Shortly after we returned to the cottage, Jim arrived with chicken salad and croissants. Delicious!

  
In addition to baking, Joni also cans. She rounded up some samples to aid us on our journey. So tucked into the RV is some tomato soup, tomatoes, bread and butter pickles, beets, and cranberry relish!

After multiple attempts Joni was able to catch Jake, their neighbor, and arrange to borrow the pontoon boat. We packed up food and prepared to head out on the lake to explore by water.

  
There are some beautiful homes along the shore. As much as we enjoy admiring them, however, the cottages (and even the boat houses) appeal to me more. Since it was during the week, traffic was light and we explored at our leisure; we saw Joni and Jim’s old house, the sandbar in the middle of the lake, heard stories about frozen water, and visited a great swimming spot. The water was comfortably brisk and we enjoyed paddling around.

   
 
After lying in the sun to dry off a bit we continued meandering along the lake shore. We saw where the Elvis statue used to be and some more gorgeous houses! We saw a guy “Flyboarding” hooked up to a jetski with an air skateboard. He was doing flips in the air. Pretty cool!

  
Upon arriving back at the dock we prepared to clean up the boat. No sooner had we disembarked than Jake came over to get the boat before we could clean it up. Per Joni’s instructions, Ashley told him “Thanks, Uncle Jake!” He loved it!

  
We gathered ingredients and threw together a chicken and veggie stir fry. It was delicious!

  
After discussing movies we decided to find something to watch. Settled on American Sniper, which Ashley and I had not yet seen. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

RV FAQ

Here are a few of the questions that we are asked about our journey:

  • Why? – Why not? Both my wife and I have always been curious about the world around us and want to see more of it. So we are exploring the country to see what there is to see.
  • What inspired you? – As mentioned above, a love of travel and exploration. However, we have both lost loved ones to cancer – and they both left us too early, before they got to live out the adventures that they had planned. We don’t want the same thing to happen to us, so we are going on the adventures now, while we know that we can.
  • Where are you going? – Everywhere! We are going to visit every National Park and National Forest in the continental United States (and are also going to visit each of the lower 48 states).
  • How can you afford this? Arent’t you young to be retired? – Though we say we are retired, that might not be the most accurate description. After paying off our school loans we built up savings and began looking for a house to purchase/build. Eventually we decided that wasn’t the best option for us and chose to use those savings to buy a motorhome and remodel it. No debt,  further savings, and frugal living will allow us to travel for an extended period. We will pick up odd jobs as they strike our fancy to help add to our financial cushion (perhaps helping at a vineyard or orchard during harvest, or working in Orlando Studio’s Harry Potter World). Also, want to buy some soap?
  • What if your motorhome breaks down? – As long as we can continue to live in it, we will do so. If we can’t afford to get it repaired, we can work and save until we can get it fixed, and then continue on our journey. After two years, we will have broken even between the cost of the motorhome and our previous rent payments and will actually be saving money by owning our own home on wheels.
  • What do you do? Just drive around? – We are hiking and exploring the parks and forests that we visit, and other interesting destinations along the way. In the evenings and during rainy days we read, write and draw. For gas savings we can explore on the motorcycle. We have also brought our bicycles along so that we can further explore and continue training for our ride across Iowa in July, 2015.
  • Across IOWA? – Yep. We are taking part in the RAGBRAI. A weeklong bike ride across the state of Iowa, from west to east.
  • Don’t you need more room? – We find our RV to be perfectly sized for us. If anything, we could have gone a touch smaller. There is room for everything that we do, it’s comfortable and uniquely ours. What more do we need? Plus, we spend a lot of time ouside, enjoying the great outdoors on our quest.

Have more questions? Feel free to email me at Matthew (at) Adventure-Some (dot) com and I’ll answer them for you.

Journal entry – 1 July 2015, Wed

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Even after the late night I woke up before the alarm sounded. Took my water out to the porch for some journaling before the house began stirring. Shortly thereafter Jim was up and about and he showed me how to use the machine and I made an espresso.

Ashley awoke soon and made herself a latte. Once we all finished our java we hopped on the bicycles for a morning ride. We took a different route this morning, visiting Oconomowoc and stopping for coffee and tea at a shop in downtown Delafield.

  
While there I asked Jim about his various work history, since I have heard bits and pieces through stories but not enough to be able to completely piece it together. I’m so glad that I did – how fascinating! What a variety – from Peace Corps in Ethiopa to one day of milk delivery boy, screw salesman, tree service (where money really does grow on trees), and finally a headhunter.

  
We both have such interesting families. I’m so glad that we’re taking the opportunity to finally take them up on their repeated offers to come and visit!

After story time and coffee was finished we continued along our ride, stopping by Jim’s YMCA for a tour. What a nice facility! Definitely worth stopping by later – for a swim, if nothing else.

  
We meandered our way home (though not by the house on the island from last night). Once there Joni gave further instruction on the espresso machine, with more detailed instructions on steaming the milk. We had a brunch of bacon and eggs, along with some of Joni’s delicious home-made apple sauce and bluberry-lemonade jam.

Appetites sated, Joni took us for a car tour of the area. I got to see their old house on a different bay of the lake, we drove through downtown (which looks like it will be a delightful place to walk and explore on foot) and even managed to find a new-to-her farmers’ market where we picked up some delectable strawberries, eggs, and veggies. Joni tried a cherry to determine if it was sweet or tart. Definitely tart – her face was priceless!

Then we headed back, as she and Jim had some errands to run. Before leaving, she and Ashley put together some bread dough, letting it rise while they were gone.

Ash and I ate leftovers out on the deck. I sent off some emails to potential sponsers for the RAGBRAI. Ashley did yoga out on the pier while I caught up on journaling and listened to conversations on a local repeater – mostly with a guy out on a bicycle!

  

After Joni and Jim returned the girls checked on their dough – forming it into two braids and letting it rise again. We all chatted while the bread baked and tentatively made plans for tomorrow.

  

Once the bread cooled we sampled a slice with Joni’s blueberry-lemonade jam. Success! Tastes as good as it smells and looks! Snack completed we head to bed, pausing before lying down to take in the beautiful view out the window at the foot of the bed in the loft – the lights on the deck are lit up, as are the buildings across the lake.

   
 

Journal entry – 30 June 2015, Tues

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

  
After breakfast we head down the road to visit Holy Hill, passing through Hubertus, WI. Not only are there 14 sets of sculptures depicting Christ’s crucification but the cathedral itself is gorgeous. We walk the 187 steps up to the top of the tower. Already up on top of a hill, the view from the tower is beautiful! We could see for quite a distance, even though it was a cloudy day.

   
   
Once we finish our visit I call a church near Joni’s to see if we could borrow parking for a week during our visit. The person we need to speak to is on the other line so I leave a message and we mosey along toward Joni’s. She has come up with a couple of options for us – either the nearby Piggly Wiggly or, if I think we can fit, in their front parking lot at the cottage.

  
After looking I definitely believe we can fit, so we bring the RV in and park it in front of the cottage, with the trailer parked separately over in a corner. We love their cottage on the lake – it’s got plenty of room for two, a beautiful view of the lake, 10′ from their window.

Jim and Joni toured our RV, we tour their house, and generally chat and catch up.

We had a delicious beef tenderloin for supper and after dishes go for a bike ride with Jim – showing us some sights from around Okauchee  Lake.

After showers Jim heads to bed and we sit up talking with Joni. She showed Ashley some stitches on the knitting needles. I finished crocheting the last of my ball of string – will have to dig some more out. Sleeping on the air mattress up in “Jackie’s loft”.

Nomad Standard Time

Living on the road, without a fixed schedule, means that you live in an alternate time-zone: NST.*

Only a couple of times in the last month have we set a firm deadline, and of those all but one have been set once we had already arrived in our destination and settled into a stationary spot. The other was set months ago and has been the impetus behind our over-all rate of travel for the last month.

  
Nomad Standard Time is full of approximations, firming up as a timeframe approaches.
As we head south to visit family and friends we keep getting asked when we will arrive (so that our bundle of mail can be forwarded to us). The answer has been some variation of “we’re not sure yet” until early last week.

  
Finally, we were able to to say “we think that we will arrive sometime early next week.” Our mail has been shipped along its way – it may well still beat us there.

  
We are currently meandering south, generally aiming toward their hometown. While we could have rushed and have arrived yesterday, that would have been a fairly long day of travel. And since we are home, no matter where we go, we just don’t have to be in a rush!

  
The closer we get, the more accurately we can predict our travel plans, though they remain flexible. Talking to Aunt Joni this morning, we found out that she is busy, so we slow down our rate of travel a bit. This allows us to get some writing and other personal projects done before heading out. Today we can drive until we’re ready for a break, find a place to park for the night and then coordinate in the morning to firm up a good time to meet.

  
Don’t be offended or off-put if we don’t give you a firm schedule or time-frame of when we’ll be in a particular location. The honest answer is that we’ll get there when we get there.

Likewise, don’t be concerned about telling us that you are busy and can’t meet with us. Chances are, we can accommodate a delay to catch up with you at another time.

Remember, we live in an alternate time-zone! 

* I can’t take credit for NST. I first heard of it from Cherie of Technomadia – check out point number 5 in her letter.

Journal entry – 29 June 2015, Mon

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

I do believe that I caught Aunt Joni off guard on the phone today. We are only about a 3-hour trip away from her, so we could arrive this afternoon. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we have to arrive then, or that if we did we would have to come to her house. (One of the advantages of living like a turtle.)

While on the phone we discussed options of places to park, our thoughts and suggestions that she has. She also suggested that we visit the Holy Hill church in Hubertus.

Scheduled to head her way tomorrow, we have all day to meander a bit further south. So we start off by sitting still. I finish uploading the remaining journal entries so that they are up-to-date online, write the first Adventure-Some email, and starting writing some posts for the website. Ashley researches places to stay for the night.

After lunch we head out, mandering south – aiming for a Walmart to overnight. Ashley volunteered to drive. It looks to be interstate the whole way so it’ll be a good day for her to get some time behind the wheel.

   
   
It’s an adjustment for both of us. She has to get the seat and mirrors set for her and I gather activities for the 3 hour trip. Once she settles in I crochet for awhile – experimenting with a net pattern, which I think will become a shopping bag holder – we have way too many bags to fit in our pop-a-bag holder. After that I set up the keyboard so that I can get some more writing done for the website. Three articles up and scheduled, pending my proof-reader’s approval.

We pull into the WalMart and Ashley doesn’t believe me about a curve in the parking lot so we run over the curb with both the back wheel and the trailer. She felt horrible but I told her that it’s basically a rite of passage for anyone who pulls a trailer. No harm, no foul.
I head in to the store to see about overnighting. They recently changed their rules so it’s not allowed. Well poop!

We find a nearby KMart and head there. Apparently they don’t own the property and the landlord doesn’t allow overnighting. Well, we’re more than ready for supper so Ashley cooks while I look at our options. After two no-lucks we decided on a truck-stop, since we know they’ll allow overnighting.

Following Joni’s recommendation we find a stop as near to Holy Hill as possible. After supper we head that way (or I do, Ashley spends the time composing an email – getting the words exactly right).

Our first night in a gas-station/truck stop, surrounded by semis.

Lesson of the day: Ashley is not at all comfortable not knowing where we will be staying that night.

Ashley proofs my blog posts, I make the suggested changes and we head to bed.

Journal entry – 28 June 2015, Sun

Journal entries are just that – the digital copy of my hand-written entries in my journal. If you aren’t interested in the daily details of our adventure, feel free to skip on to the next “regular” post.

Today’s our anniversary! We have coffee and tea while we finish loading. Top off the water, load the motorcycle and we’re ready. I wasn’t thrilled about having to manually load water into our fresh water tank, but the campground was delightful – pretty, quiet, and conveniently located. We pull out, empty the tanks and it’s only a few miles to Coco’s.

  
It seems that everything is home-made and most of it is local. It all looks and sounds delicious! Ashley gets eggs-in-a-basket and I get a sandwich. Ham, Wisconsin cheddar, seasoned cream cheese, 2 eggs on focaccia with red pepper, portabella, and onions. Plus a side of roasted rosemary taters. Wowzers! Delicious!

   
   We get a slice of peanut butter pie and local strawberry cupcake to go.

  
On down the road Ashley spots a laundry mat and we swing on in. First laundry in about 3 weeks. Were getting low on fresh options. 3 loads covered it, and the commercial driers were much faster than either of us anticipated.

  
Before leaving we have our desserts. Oh so delicious! The PB Pie was super rich, and the cupcake was very strawberry-ey.

Going through Minocqua caught our eye so we stopped for a quick detour on foot. Very touristy, but a cute town.

  
We head on to a Walmart in Merrill for the night. Head in and grab some spaghetti for a last anniversary treat – garlic pasta for supper! 

We cook and eat supper with the best view from a Walmart parking lot yet! Beautiful sunset. Only us and a semi overnighting. And the highway is just far enough away to not require earplugs.

  
I finally catch up on journaling about the last few days while Ashley reads. Even manage to get most of them posted on the website.