Six Months In Beauty

Posted November 5, 2016 – Narrated by Carmen
To listen to the podcast, click the play button

We’ve been full-timing in our Airstream since April. That’s 6 months of LIB (Living in Beauty).

So far, we’ve visited 23 communities in 11 states, and traveled 4,592 miles.

Breakfast at a Cracker Barrel after spending the night in their quiet parking lot.

Our friends, family, followers, fellow RV’er’s, and a few British backpackers we met in Mt. Shasta, want more details about what this is all about. So, here are a few recurrant questions:

Q: Are you happy?

LIB: Yes! LIB is infinitely more wonderful than we’d imagined. We’re constantly amazed with how much we adore this crazy, tin-can life.

We’re grateful all the anticipated hardships – potential game changers – have not materialized.

The Great Drought of 2016 actually worked to our advantage, allowing us to stay longer in the north as we follow this unusually mild weather.

Currently, we’re on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with temps still in the mid-70’s. Perfect place to spend election week.

Bourbon flight on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Q: Are you bored?

LIB: Bored?! We live in a new place every two weeks! We’re busy people! This is an active lifestyle!

In addition to daily explorations of new places, our activities include making sure we don’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning; keeping our water pure, tanks clean, food fresh; not rolling off a cliff in the middle of the night.


And, when we’re not terrified we have blissful moments of free time to star-gaze, study, read, write, watch leaves fall on water and drift…

Labyrinth across the road from our campsite at South Lake Tahoe

But, time isn’t about clocks anymore, it’s about the sun. Meals are about hunger, not time.

We’re nomads, hunter-gatherers trading with the locals – eating and drinking from their larders, casks and nearly dried-up wells.

Sure, like all tourists, we’re just passing through, but since we’re basically living outdoors, more of it sticks. In fact, I think we still have some live stinkbugs from St. Louis around here somewhere. Bored?!

Carmen wades in a mountain lake in Mammoth Lakes, California

Q: Is this affordable? Are you doing this for financial reasons? Why sell your home?

LIB: Full-time travel in an RV is as affordable as it has to be.

For retirees, economy is always an issue and we are no exception.

As we travel and meet more full-timers, we’re seeing that letting go of the “sticks & bricks” home is a trend that’s gaining momentum – like letting go of the landline: what’s the point?

It hit us suddenly, how mobile technology, mobile learning, mobile medicine, etc. are facilitating a cultural shift to break out, fly the nest and go Out There.

At our age, the economic benefits of home ownership are behind us. Time to move on.

Being able to pack up and move within 60 minutes is our goal.

Financially, we’re in a good place considering our pre-medicare retirement status. Sure, we’d be in a much better position if we weren’t paying $18,000 a year for medical insurance – but, thanks to Dunham & Associates, our confidence remains high.

Jim with our investment team, Jeffrey Dunham and Amy Gallego from Dunham and Associates
Amy Gallego, Jim and Jeffrey Dunham at Dunham and Associates, our investment team

Frugality helps. We comb Craig’s List in each new town for needed items, but pursuing our passions has no price tag.

Here is one of our new ‘used’ folding bikes we found on Craig’s list

Culture, sight-seeing and outdoor play are either free or inexpensive.

Restaurants are often far away, closed for the season or just don’t exist – so we cook at home more. It’s fun to attempt recipes we miss from our favorite San Diego eateries, like Gustatory in Coronado, California.

Q: Is full-timing easier or harder than you thought?

LIB: It’s both. Some things are hard – like finding swimming pools for my workout and avoiding contact with my allergens at laundry facilities, limited data (which should be illegal), and finding top-notch produce.

But, we expected these trials, and the proverb, “Nothing worth having comes easy” still stands.

Historically, the pursuit of ease has never been associated with the simple life.

But on the positive side, recent technological advances – smaller appliances, synthetic fabrics, better tires, plumbing, solar energy and LED lights, etc. –  contribute toward making full-time travel in an RV considerably safer, less strenuous and more time-efficient than in years past.

A hike in the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau

Q: Are you running from the law or something …?

LIB: Yes. Jury duty.

Hiking in Big Bear Lake California

Ok, now, comes some gushy, personal stuff.

Every morning when I wake up someplace – whether beside a remote wilderness stream or a private winery or even a Cracker Barrel parking lot – I rub my sleepy eyes, slide open the bedroom door to see Jim sitting at the table sipping his freshly brewed aromatic decaf, catching up on the news.

My first words of the day are always the same, “Wow. We’re living in Beauty.” Jim’s eye wrinkles deepen as he smiles and says, “Absolutely,” because we are and because we are.

LIB explains everything.

It’s the answer to where we are, what we’re doing and where we’re going. It’s our response when asked, “Where do you live?” “What do you do?” and “What’s your travel plan?” when we don’t have a clue.

We’re home … everywhere. Everywhere is home.

How to describe the feeling of waking up in that reality, every morning …?  It’s that “everything’s going to be ok from now on feeling,” … Peace.

Jim soaks at Miracle Hot Springs, Buhl Idaho

LIB doesn’t anesthetize me and Jim against “the real world.” Rather, it increases our exposure to the problems of modern life and sharpens our perspective.

Many living the RV lifestyle engage more deeply in the world. We expected this dive into the unknown would be exciting and frightening – and it’s been all that, already!

Pico De Gallo basks in the Santa Rosa California sunshine.

We knew there would be problems: scary roads, harsh driving conditions, GPS problems –  but we’ve been blindsided by the brave, caring and generous acts of complete strangers who want to help us.

Most people seem to instantly connect to the needs of strangers, and these souls remind me and Jim that we’re among friends – fellow travelers – all journeying in community toward an unknown destination on Spaceship Earth.

Afternoon walk in Ft. Collins Colorado

So, yes, our big, clumsy sense of self-reliance is in obedience school. We’re learning that DIY’ing this LIB thing is more feeling than fact.

Truth is…we couldn’t manage this lifestyle without others exercising their own personal independence to step in and guide us, help us, advise us.


Wine tasting at Twomey Vineyards in California’s Sonoma Valley

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

14 thoughts on “Six Months In Beauty

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your travels. As always, it is beautifully told. I almost wrote that I am envious, but it is just not time yet for us. Soon… Hope to meet you on the road some day! Safe travels!

    1. Thank you for your attention, Cathy. You will know when it’s time. We’d love to plan a meet-up!

      Safe Travels.



  2. Love following your adventures in life. Feel like you are the friends we just haven’t met yet. Safe travels to you.

    Judy Shelley

    1. Jan, it has been a wonderful adventure so far. I do miss the excitement and fulfilling experience working with you and all other healthcare stakeholders in San Diego county. Do I think I made a mistake retiring when I did? NO!!!! I can say this has been a thrilling time that has lived up to our expectations in every way. Moving every week or two, finding hidden gems in our homeland, meeting wonderful people, have all surpassed what we hoped would be an exciting way to live. We have decided that as long as our health holds up, we will continue “living in beauty.” Thank you for following our blog posts! Hope to be back in San Diego for a short visit in the summer of 2017.

Leave a Reply