Ashley driving the CarVee

Mashley’s Adventures – Moving into the CarVee


Current Location: Oshkosh, WI

The more you have, the more occupied you are. The less you have, the more FREE you are.
~ Mother Theresa


This week we’ve been gearing up for a new round of adventures while visiting friends and family! The bulk of that preparation included downsizing from Lady Galapagos, our 29′ motorhome, into our PT Cruiser. The Cruiser has long been called “The Cricket” and is now affectionately known as our CarVee. Home sweet home, for the next 8 weeks!

We spent a few unplanned days in Oshkosh, WI due to car problems. Nothing serious but enough to make us miss our boat out to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Though we did manage to switch our tickets to Friday’s boat (the last of the season) for a night on the Isle. It’s a bit of a bummer to lose a few days on the island, but at least we still get to visit!

From there, we’ll be swinging by Aunt Joni & Jim’s Lake Cottage for a few days back in Wisconsin before heading on to Kalamazoo, MI for a wedding celebration on the 17th!

Lessons Learned (or relearned):

  • We really don’t need that much stuff to be happy and comfortable! (We’ll update our thoughts in 8 weeks…)
  • There’s never enough time to spend with the people you love.
  • It’s amazing how much smoother the bicycle is after a tune-up.
  • We don’t make fixed plans for a reason.

Once we leave Kalamazoo then we’ll be heading east, aiming for Maine. The grand northeastern loop will net us a few new Parks (Cuyahoga, Acadia, Shenandoah, and maybe the Great Smokies) plus all of the northeastern states!

It’s going to be an exciting couple of months and we’re psyched about trying out the new mode of travel as well as the chance to explore new places! I’m pretty sure we’ll be happy to return to the RV though, not only because it’s our home and we miss it after being away for a while, but because it’s parked with our Kentucky families so we get to see them again when we return. We sure have missed everyone more than we realized these last 14 months!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – Curious what a CarVee looks like? Check it out here.

Our RV Is Our Home

We moved from a 1,200 sq ft apartment (with attached garage) into a less-than 240 sq ft motorhome (with pull-behind utility trailer).

Yet we don’t feel cramped. It hasn’t been a sacrifice. This is not a temporary situation required for our current adventure.

Our RV is our home. It feels homey to us, comfortable. We feel safe and cozy here.

When inside, we are surrounded by things that we love, that remind us of good times and fond memories.

Outside, we are proud of our house, glad to call it ours, and are comforted by its presence.

While running errands or off hiking on a trail somewhere we say things like, “ready to go home?” and mean it. They aren’t just a turn of phrase.

How much space do we need?

We paid attention to how much space we actually used in our apartment, and how much of it was little more than storage. Our usage patterns were the same in everywhere we had lived.

Our bedroom is for sleep and clothing storage. The bulk of our time is spent in the living room. Our kitchen and dining area see the rest. When the weather is nice we head outside, enjoying a patio or deck. A garage space is handy for working on occasional projects and storing tools.

The RV came with all of those spaces, just in smaller, more condensed packages. A bedroom with built-in clothing storage, a couch (living room) and booth (dining area) plus kitchen. We also have bonus room above the “car” cab with an extra sleep space, more storage and shelves (library). A pass-through storage compartment outside replaced the garage’s storage and our parking places combined with our utility trailer serve as a work-space.

Paring Down

A packrat, I had to get rid of a lot of things – paring down a collection that took me, literally, a lifetime to build. Some items (tools and books) took up residence in family’s storage areas (thank you!). They will come in handy for future projects, like building our next home, but aren’t necessary on this journey. Much was donated, sold or thrown away.

Collections of items that were kept as mementos were winnowed down to a single item to prompt the memory or captured in photographs. One thing reminds as well as a dozen. Seeing a picture of the reminder brings the memory back as well as the item itself did.

My life is not lessened for those things I am no longer holding on to. It was hard to let go, and I could not have done it without Ashley’s support, a tight time-frame, and a space limitation. Most of them I don’t miss, or even realize are gone – they are out of recollection already. The few things that I do miss have been tools or materials for a specific project (and are generally things that I have saved in storage). In fact, I still have too much stuff. More than a year into our adventure and we are carrying around items that have not been used yet.

Ashley is not a compulsive saver. If anything, she discards too easily. Occasionally she has been glad that I saved something. Between us we strike a good balance – I see the potential in items while she tries to ensure I don’t save too much.

The Remodel

When we bought it our RV looked just like everyone else’s from the same timeframe. After debating we decided to remodel and make it our own. How glad we are!

Our RV feels like home because it is ours. While we visually updated the inside and made some changes to make it more functional we were ultimately molding it to our tastes. New flooring, painted walls and cabinets, reupholstering the seating, swapping out blinds for curtains, and replacing the couch with a window-seat. All of these changed the feel of the inside and let us add our personal touch.

We are familiar with the systems and bones of our home because we’ve worked with them all, in some fashion. I learned the floorplan by crawling all over it and copying it with wood flooring. Ashley knows the cabinets from applying 3 coats of paint over all of them. While there is still plenty to learn we are more than familiar with our home, inside and out.

Home Sweet Home

A friend recently asked if we were still comfortable, if it was a home and not just a vehicle. Resoundingly yes!

We love our RV! It is definitely our home. We would live here even if we couldn’t travel around. What more could we ask for?

Weekly Newsletter – Mashley’s Adventures – Back In Our Hometown

Current Location: Benton, Kentucky

The true object of all human life is play.
~ G. K. Chesterton


This week we are resting from our travels on the road. We spent four days transversing the U.S. from Washington, through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. Lots of driving, but it was nice to be out eating up the miles. We haven’t traveled like that in months and it was an enjoyable change of pace – though we were certainly glad to slow down and be off the road again once we arrived. 😀 We visited three new states (Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri) along the way and were thrilled to fill in a bit more of our map. There was little in the way of detouring from the interstate but we did get to check out a few cool places, like an original Pony Express station!

The rush home meant we skipped by some pretty spectacular places that have been relegated to the “to do” list for a future visit, but it also afforded us a longer visit with family than would have otherwise been available. And we’ve been loving our time with them! Other than Ashley’s mom’s visit in Washington we haven’t seen anyone in person since heading out, over 14 months ago. And just to make it even sweeter, we’ve been able to catch up with some missed friends as well!

along the oregon trail

original pony express way station

In case you’ve somehow missed it, we greatly enjoy checking out local coffee shops and trying new coffees. We often joke that we’re exploring the country (at least towns and cities) by cafés. Our favorite is still Pipers Coffee and Tea in Paducah, KY. Somehow, we’d managed to be in the area for 5 days before getting to Pipers. On day 4 Ashley said that she was “Pipers depraved.” While I assumed she meant “deprived”, the sentiment still came across loud and clear. 😀

Lessons Learned (or relearned):

  • The Pony Express only ran (pun intended) for about a year. It had nothing to do with the Postal Service (which is what we always thought). They delivered important correspondence or news for the military and government officials running between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California.
  • Ashley’s really enjoying the chance to comfortably drive our car, for the first time in over a year.
  • Bicycling in 95% humidity should count as both swimming and bicycling (becasue that’s what it feels like). Ashley came up with the term swimmicyling and said it should be considered a biathalon event. We forgot we were supposed to grow gills before coming back to this area of the U.S. 🙂

Of course, we’re not back in Kentucky for the long haul. After a bit of testing we’ve roughly outfitted the PT Cruiser to be our micro RV for our fall tour of the north east. Storage boxes and a cooler fit well in the back with the rear seats removed. An air mattress fits on them about perfectly and will provide us with a dandy home when we are traveling and don’t want to set up a tent for some reason or another.

It’s a completely different method of travel and we’re pretty excited about a new style of adventuring! Lots of details still to figure out, but we’ve got another week to get them finalized.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – Want to see pictures in one place? We try to keep mostly up to date on our facebook page ( – even if you don’t have a facebook account! There are also new posts to read at Adventure-Some (

Simple Life

Ashley and I have been very happy on our trip thus far. There have been few bad days. We really are blessed, and we know it.

If you step back and look at it, we are living a pretty simple life. We get up and have a leisurely morning, savoring our coffee and tea as we wake up. Then a home-made breakfast, eaten together.

We write or read or craft for a bit, then either head out for a hike, bicycle ride, enjoy some yoga, or do chores/run errands.

Lunch has recently been a picnic out on the trail (granola, peanuts and raisins, some peanut butter). Or picnics on motorcycle trips, or maybe a salad or left-overs at home. Frequently eaten outside, always together.

In the afternoon we finish our hike, do some chores, read some more, or do more crafts. This is often when we head into town to run errands.

Soon it is time to prepare supper. Once it is finished we eat, together. After cleaning up we relax, get in some more reading, and watch as the sky changes from day to night.

We top off the evening with some herbal tea before bed.

We go to bed tired after a good, full day.

It’s a simple life, one that makes us happy. Set predominately in nature, with good company, real food, and favorite activities. Unrushed and without schedules set by others.

Weekly Newsletter – Mashley’s Adventures – The Oregon Trail In Reverse

(See even more photos in our FaceBook album.)

Current Location: on the road…. Back in the Central Time Zone

It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.
~ John Muir


This week’s adventure finds us currently on the road, somewhere past the vast nothingness of Nebraska and Kansas. Sorry N&K, but after almost a year spent in the grand majesty of the west, you are a teeny-bit boring. Two weeks ago (Monday the 8th) we left Jackie in Bremerton and headed south to Mount Rainier National Park for a second visit. We lucked into a permit for the Wonderland Trail on our first try! After being prepared to try for at least three days we really felt blessed. So we nabbed a spot in the campground and finalized our packing for the next morning’s adventure.

  • 96.4 miles hiked
  • 10 days on the Wonderland Trail
  • 22,786 feet of overall elevation gain (and loss)

Other than walking through a cloud and feeling the mist from that, we somehow managed to visit the mountain for 10 perfect, sunny days. Coupled with our quick permit, we really couldn’t have dreamed of a better visit.

10 days of adventure make for a bit of a story. We’ve actually broken it into two parts and put it up on Adventure-Some as blog posts for easier reading, and so that we could include more pictures.

You can read about the logistics here and the days on the trail here.

Before leaving the park, Ashley earned her Mt. Rainier National Park Junior Ranger badge. 😀

Lessons Learned (or relearned):

  • We love long-distance hiking and are eager for more (watch out John Muir Trail, we’re coming for you next year!).
  • Berries (of all varieties) are a delightful treat while on the trail
  • Bears are so exciting to spot while on the trail, especially when they’re safely far away in a tree

A few of our favorite moments from the trail:

  • When Ashley no longer heard Matthew’s footsteps behind her, she turned to check on him, only to catch him looking up innocently from 200 feet away with a cheek bulging full of berries. He looked just like a mischevious squirrel making away with an unexpected bounty 😀
  • Conversation on the 5th day:
    Matthew: “I can carry the toiletries bag.”
    Ashley: “That’s ok, I’ve got it.”
    Matthew: “No, I’ll carry it.”
    Ashley: “No really, I’ve got it.”
    Matthew: “But…”
    Ashley: “I’VE GOT IT!”
    Matthew: “Fine! You stubborn old goat!” 😀
  • Ashley sticks her feet in the North Puyallup River for 1 second before pulling them out and exclaiming “It’s so cold it hurts!” Matthew replies “Well, yeah, I can see where it’s ice right up there!” What a know-it-all.
  • One section of trail crossed Dick Creek. It was about 10 steep feet down the bank. There was a rope conveniently tied to a tree above the trail that could be used for assistance. Ashley grabbed the rope and laboriously lowered herself down the bank, swaying dangerously side to side and almost falling over in the process. Matthew then casually walked down the bank, using a little zig-zag route and a few stones as steps. Of course, he then gave her a “you took the hard way” smirk.

We jumped from one method of travel to a drastically different one. As soon as we finished up the trail it was time to start migrating east. The RV has been eating up the miles while on the interstate. It’s a different mode of travel than we’re used to but that makes for a nice change of pace. We’ve been able to visit some new states for the first time in months. Our map is slowly filling in! (As an aside, we’ve visited more than half of the contiguous Parks- 28, and all three in Washington at least twice. Though we’re currently at less than half of the states, at only 18.)

The sooner we get back to Kentucky, the more time we have to visit with family before heading to Michigan for our next adventure and Lisa’s wedding! Time for visits with family and friends in addition to the process of moving into the car.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – If you’re looking for even more reading – check out the most recent post on Adventure-Some – – a bit of coincidental trivia, this post was pre-scheduled and went live while we were staying in a WalMart parking lot for the night. 😀

Grocery Shopping Convenience

We are loving our RV adventure, traveling around and exploring the United States. Along the way we have discovered a few things about the mobile lifestyle that we didn’t expect. Here’s one of them, a perk that we hadn’t anticipated.

There’s something wonderful about grocery shopping from your RV.

The process is almost the same as from a stationary home:

  • Get grocery list
  • Go to store
  • Buy groceries
  • Load groceries into vehicle
  • Drive home
  • Unload groceries from vehicle
  • Put them away

But those missing steps are truly a delight to skip over:

  • Drive to store – We just park our home there in the parking lot, it’s not a separate trip but a stop on our way.
  • Drive home – The shopping cart is wheeled right to our front door.
  • Transfer groceries from car to house – This was done when unloading the shopping cart..

It seems like such a simple thing but the ability to go directly from cart to cabinet is an unanticipated benefit that we are thoroughly enjoying.

Why Don’t More People Live Tiny?

We are proponents of the Tiny House movement. Fans of living small as the foundation of a large life.

For us, our goals, that means an RV. For others, probably for many, that means a fixed residence. Either way, Ashley and I frequently find ourselves amazed at our life and wondering why more people don’t utilize “alternative” housing to more intentionally build their lives.

Fourteen months into our adventure and we love it more as we go. It suits us perfectly. Maybe one day we won’t. Perhaps our needs will outgrow the RV, or we’ll need something with thicker walls. Or the RV will prove to be too large for us and we’ll want something smaller. But for now, we couldn’t ask for anything better.

One size definitely doesn’t fit all.

Technically speaking, I believe a Tiny House is defined as less than 1,000 sq ft. We are living in less than 240. The popular shows on TV seem to focus on very small, 250 or less (from the handful of episodes I’ve seen).

I don’t wonder why everyone doesn’t live in a 220 sq ft house. A couple with young children need more space. A couple with children at all need private spaces. That takes more room.

RV’s aren’t well insulated (at least ours isn’t). They aren’t built for 4 seasons. So those in cold or hot climates wouldn’t be super comfortable, at least not without high utility bills to offset the lack of insulation.

It isn’t traditional

This, I believe, is the real reason people don’t pursue alternative housing. Financial institutions aren’t equipped to deal with non-traditional housing situations. Living in an RV doesn’t fit into their spreadsheets of security. Nor does living out of a converted van. At first glance wheels don’t provide a permanent mailing address.

Tiny houses fit into a gray legal area that have to be dealt with or worked around. Utilities have to be searched out and found. Traditional houses fit in designated situations and utility companies will gladly allow you to pay them for the privilege of letting them provide you with their services.

Nontraditional means you have to do a lot of the work

You have to find a mailing address for yourself and search out your own utilities. It might mean you don’t have unlimited water and electricity like you’re accustomed to. Perhaps you’ll have some extra paperwork to do that others won’t.

The benefits are great

A smaller abode can mean smaller expenses. Less to heat and cool means lower utilities. Fewer square feet require less lights to see and less furniture to fill. It can mean a smaller purchase price and thus fewer payments.

Though it doesn’t have to be, your home can be portable. You can live right next to work when you need to. Vacations could be more relaxing because you simply move to an area, taking everything you own with you (including the kitchen sink!) You could move as often as you like, with far less trouble – and none of those pesky leases or utility hook-up fees.

Live a Rich Life

In Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, he talks about the meaning of being rich. Rich doesn’t always equal great amounts of money. It is personal. Perhaps to you being rich means being able to eat out every single meal and taking flying lessons. Maybe it means that you can travel every month. Perhaps it means that you don’t have to work at jobs you don’t enjoy.

Ashley and I love to travel, to explore, to be out in nature. We are homebodies with wanderlust in our hearts. Our RV affords us this opportunity. It costs less to live in than our previous apartment so we can afford to travel. We get to take our home with us everywhere we go so we can comfortably experience new locations. And it is self-contained so we can spend a week or so out in nature without the convenience of utility hook-ups.

A traditional life is expensive. Keeping up with the Joneses can take all of your income. But it’s easy. Others understand it. Our culture guides you to that lifestyle.

But if it doesn’t provide you with a rich life, the cost might be too high.

A couple of examples

Whenever Ashley and I wonder why more people don’t live a non-traditional life we always think of people who we think would be happier with a few changes.

A single person (likely with college debt and maybe owing on some credit cards) who spends most of their time working, hanging out with friends, and perhaps engaged in some sort of hobby or second job to help pay the bills.

They could live in a conversion van that could be parked anywhere, provides a places to sleep and store clothes and food. A camping stove or little microwave could heat up meals. Wifi could be shared with a neighbor. A gym membership provides showers and exercise equipment.

This would allow them to live close to whatever job they have at the time, save most of their income (or use it to pay off the monies owed) and still functionally live their current life with no interruptions. They could go to work, pursue their hobbies, and hang out with friends.

If they have been moving regularly (new job, room-mate leaves, etc) this would allow them that opportunity without the annoyance of deposits and leases.

Too unconventional? Buy a travel trailer, pay for a long-term parking spot and live the same way, except with full utility hook-ups and a direct internet connection.

More than one

Of course, this isn’t limited to single individuals. Two people can be more than happy in a smaller house. Just look at us!

But you don’t have to travel to appreciate it. We were looking at a tiny house even if we hadn’t decided to hit the road. Less to clean, to decorate, and less room to fill with items.

By my rough estimates, we could have built a tiny house, paid it off with our then-incomes in about a year. Then, with some careful managment we could have continued saving and been almost financially independent (ie: retired) in around 10 years.

What about the children?

While I can’t speak personally, I have read about a number of families who are traveling even while having young children. One family of four set off to sail about the world with two boys who are not yet teenagers. Another family began a bicycling adventure, aiming to ride all the way across the continent, down to the tip of South America. Yet another, with three children, have flown around the world, visiting many countries with their family. The Tougas family have lived in five places in two countries, plus hiked the Appalachian Trail – including all three kids!

Children seem to be far more resiliant and flexible than adults. Especially if you can keep their routines/schedules the same. It will be an adventure for them as well. And just imagine how much they will learn! Geography will have meaning. Historic sites will help provide rich memories of the past instead of just being dates and names.

Of course, one doesn’t have to travel. There is something to be said about having a stable community. So maybe you don’t live in a tiny, mobile structure. But at least you don’t have to stretch your mortgage to buy the biggest thing you can. Purchase a modest house, work to make it yours, and revel in the joys of life instead of the joys of home-ownership.

No longer a spring chicken?

Travel and RV living runs in my family. My mom does it, who learned it from her parents. For at least 20 years they spent part of every year living in their RV. They traveled, visiting friends and family around the country. Eventually, they parked their travel trailer in a single location and lived half of the year there and half at their house.

If G-mom had gotten her way, however, they would have just lived in the travel trailer. She liked the town it was in so much more than where her house was. While I don’t remember her mentioning them specifically, there are additional perks to living in a smaller space – ones that might be of particular interest to someone who is older, or is living on a fixed income.

Everything is within easy reach. Forget something in the bedroom? It’s only 20′ away. Your favorite coffee mug is just across the aisle from the table. You can still clean every day, if that’s your habit, and finish the entire house with time and energy to spare. Not so steady on your feet? There is always something near-by to provide support if it is needed (a counter, wall, or piece of furniture) without requiring a walker or hand-rails inside your own home.

While my grandparents were able to keep their home and still travel, others might not be so fortunate. They could rent out or sell their home. Even if the sale results with them breaking even, their other retirement income (fixed amounts, I expect) would allow them to travel around. Even if the mortgage has been paid off this still saves on other recurring costs – taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance expenses. When funds run low, you slow down or stop traveling. If you need special medical equipment, it can be incorporated in your home.

Tiny isn’t for everyone

While we think that living tiny is a great way to build a foundation for a large life we know that it’s not for everyone. But we do think it’s for far more people than are currently doing it.

Incredible lives don’t just happen. They are intentionally designed and built.

The Beauty of Two Wheels

While planning for our adventure we debated what vehicle to bring with us. The motorcycle gets better gas mileage and is easier to tow. The car is better for long trips and we could carry more groceries but it gets worse gas mileage and will take expensive accessories to bring with us.

Ultimately, after lots of research and many changed minds, we decided to bring the motorcycle. And we couldn’t be happier with our decision.

A Money Saver

The trailer that hauls it, complete with home-made bicycle rack also carries a propane bottle and extra water jug while costing about half of what a car dolly would have. We can resell it for the same price that we bought it for if we ever decide to. While the RV gets a whopping 8.3 mpg on average, the motorcycle helps to even that out at about 48 mpg – much better than our car’s 23 mpg. A tank of gas doesn’t go very far in the motorcycle but, at a 2-gallon fill-up, stops are quick and affordable.

Though we knew it, we have still been surprised to realize how much the motorcycle saves us when shopping. On the one hand, you can fit a surprising amount into our tiny saddle bags and laps on the ride home. On the other hand, we are severely limited in what we can buy due to space constraints. This not only saves us money and forces us to be intentional in our shopping, but it also works well with the small space of the RV. No value packages of paper towels for us – not only can we not easily get them home but we couldn’t store them even if we did!

Just park wherever

While riding a motorcycle in a city can be a bit of an adrenaline rush, there are certain perks that come with driving something smaller than a Smart Car. Quick responses and small size make it easy to maneuver in traffic (leading me to actually feel safer than in a car, generally). Parking is normally easier to find on a motorcycle – tucking two wheels into a sliver of a parking space is a simple matter, making parallel parking jobs a delight.

See what you can see

We love the motorcycle for its expansive views. With no roof, dashbord, or door-frames to block our view the world is wide-open to us as we ride through it. Which is more than perfect as we are touring about locations filled with natural beauty. Our rides through the Badlands were some of the most beautiful rides we’ve been on since we’ve been riding.

Experience the weather

Unfortunately, without those doors, windows, or roof we ride out in the open, experiencing the weather up close and personal. On the chilly mornings we have to bundle up to make it into town. Hot days out in the sun have us rueing our safety gear (who wears black leather jackets in the middle of summer!) Climbing mountains involves a stop half-way to add or remove layers – on the way up you freeze and coming back down you melt.

This is actually one of the perks, though. If we had gone with the car, there would have been numerous days when we would have just “gone for a drive” as a way to pass time – wasting fuel and causing us to miss the area immediately around us.

A good decision

Yes, there have been times that our car would have made for a more comfortable day. Or when we would have been able to combine multiple errands into a single trip. And Ashley would run errands on her own from time to time.

Ultimately, though, we are happy with our decision and the results it has had on our adventure. We love motorcycling and this gives us a chance to ride, to experience the world around us more fully, wherever we may be.

It might not be the most convenient option for living a traditional life and just running to the store. But we aren’t aiming for a traditional life, are we? 🙂

Worst Case Scenario

Well-meaning friends and family members have often asked us “What if…” questions while we were preparing for our trip.

  • What if the RV breaks down?
  • What if the RV breaks down and you can’t afford to fix it?
  • What if you run out of money?
  • What if Ashley gets pregnant? (this one seemed to come up a lot)
  • What if you get sick?
  • What if Ashley gets pregnant and has morning sickness while you’re driving?
  • What if you don’t like RVing?
  • What if you get tired of traveling?

Continue reading

Just Keep Pedaling

This is the seventh and final in a series of posts sharing lessons learned while bicycling more than 1,170 miles in preparation for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa. You can see them all here.

In less than five months, Ashley and I have moved from thinking that our 10 mile training ride was quite an impressive feat to considering 25 miles a leisurely jaunt. It’s amazing how quickly your perspective can change! Continue reading