One Year in Beauty

Posted May 5, 2017 – Narrated by Carmen
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Truth is, we spent one night of “Year One” not living in Beauty. Due to the blowout, Beauty was in the shop having new side belly-wrap installed.

Rough night. We learned that “home” is where six inches of memory foam is.

One full year of full-timing is behind us – our “one year at a time” journey. Early on we agreed that our decision to continue would be made annually based on whether we had the heart, health and finances.

We’ve weighed the good and the bad and decided “Year Two” is on!

First, we’d like to share the good news about “Year One.”

It was all good.

Retired and living on the road is like endless holiday.

Bay St. Louise, Mississippi

Life on the road was stimulating, relaxing, messy, contemplative, eventful, adventurous, surprising, educational and scary.

In other words, it was just life.  

As we enter into “Year Two,” we’re making some thoughtful resolutions. We’d like to relax more … maybe add a hammock or zero gravity chairs and spend more time reading.

Walking the grounds at La Vigne Winery in Paso Robles.

“Year One,” I stocked up my Kindle, but more immediate concerns took precedence and I, too easily, slipped into constant research mode – seeking out fitness and recreation opportunities, natural remedies, docs, dentists, vets and WiFi.

Early on, an addiction to RV Lifestyle and yachting blogs took over and I gorged on info about how to travel with the climate, find the best weather alerts and emergency plans – where to recycle, donate and buy fresh local produce.

So much time was spent learning ways to stay healthy, safe and find dog-friendly camp sites, restaurants, breweries, and how best to maintenance and repair our Airstream while living in it that we missed some opportunities to recreate and live in the moment.

We love our “Lambright” recliners  and “Air Desk” desks

“Year One” was busy.

The days seemed way too short. I began to suspect a stowaway was chewing up my downtime – and I found it… Fear.

The gnawing possibility that a disastrous mistake or miscalculation threatening to sabotage our endless holiday was hiding in plain sight under The Age of Information.

Now, while that may not be entirely true, it certainly is a most ambitious metaphor. And, as I shall continue to fret because fretfulness is my nature, LIB isn’t nearly the challenge either one of us thought it might be – but it sure was a lot more fun!

Cycling the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain.
Kayaking Big Bear lake

So, during “Year Two,” if we don’t get hit by a train, I pledge to complete my “Year One” book list as well as edit and organize my bookmarks, stickies and notes and pursue some educational enrichment through online classes.

The best part of this lifestyle is visiting friends and family around the country, but they can visit us too!

We’re usually in a wonderful place during the perfect time of year. 

These days, many of the nicer RV resorts, like the one were in right now – Wine Country RV Resort in Paso Robles, offer cottages and guest houses beside full-hook up sites! Miss us? Come on!

Small cabin next to a campsite in Paso Robles … minutes from 100’s of wineries

Our San Diego love-base is still strong.

Putting San Diego in the rear-view mirror is the hardest part of this journey, and here’s why…

Now for the bad news …

Life is whooshing by … “Year One” feels like a couple of months.

Last time the whooshing was this fast, we’d just gotten married, and the next time was when our son came along.

Lately, we’re taking more photos and discovering our warts, wrinkles, bags and bulges. My chronically sore deleting finger is a reminder that “Every Day Is A Gift” – our LIB mantra.

As time passes, so do our loved ones … As we were preparing to leave San Diego, we lost our dear friend George Riley and then, Pat DiMeo and then Jim’s colleague, Kamal Muilenburg.

Early into “Year One,” our old friend, Dave Chamberlain suddenly passed away, and we toasted George Weinberg-Harter’s life on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

George Weinberg-Harter: October 26-1944 – November 7, 2016

We returned to San Diego four months earlier than expected because Jim’s nephew, John Nicita III, had passed.

While we were at the Chula Vista RV Resort, our friend Coqueeze Connelly, an old friend who inspired our RV adventure went to heaven to be with her husband, Mutt …

Mutt, Jan, K.K., and Coqueeze – photo taken mid-1960’s

Since we’re old, but still not on medicare (and because our incredibly expensive insurance premiums which could buy a house or condo in most states every single year only covers emergencies out of California …) our wonderful doctors managed to fit us into their schedules on short notice and … we’re fine!

Shoot, we’re better than fine – healthier than we were a year ago.

My paroxysmal AFib condition has been in remission for months, and though Jim was feeling tired and weak, it turns out he just needed to reduce his blood pressure medication.

We’ve both lowered our cholesterol through diet before and it looks like we’re at it again – so, during “Year Two” expect to see LIB tips about how to make collard wraps and flax pretzels and smuggle them into pubs.

Carmen’s collard wraps

At least once in your life, run away from sensible advice.”

Run, don’t walk!

We’re often compelled to turn toward the allure of the solid, grounded, conventional life.

Occasionally, I glance sideways toward an adorable cottage in a sweet little town, but it’s not time to get hooked-up again. We’re still in recovery from sticks & bricks.

In the past, a lengthy period of travel was considered prescriptive for body and mind – this advice came from esteemed doctors, professors, wise ones – and the benefits were based on precedence. If something bad happened, destiny was to blame not the risk of travel.

I wonder if something has changed.

There is so much pressure these days to grab a number, hunker down and stay put.

The wireless, nomadic lifestyle bamboozles industry, banks, medical systems and even digital infrastructure.

In many ways, it would be easier to call it quits. I guess the reason Jim and I persist is because LIB makes us so happy to wake up in the morning … takes a load off and makes our hearts feel better.

For now, the road is our address.

The journey is on.

“Year Two” is calling us out of ourselves and into the world and the joy of creation and recreation.

Thank you, “Year One.”

“You start dying slowly
   if you do not travel,
        if you do not read,
             if you do not listen to the sounds of life,
                  if you do not appreciate yourself.
You start dying slowly
   when you kill your self-esteem;
        when you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly
    if you become a slave of your habits,
         walking everyday on the same paths…
              if you do not change your routine,
                   if you do not wear different colors
                        or you do not speak to those you don’t know.
You start dying slowly
   if you avoid to feel passion
         and their turbulent emotions;
              those which make your eyes glisten
                   and your heart beat fast.
You start dying slowly
    if you do not change your life when you are not… 
                 … satisfied with your job, or with your love,
        if you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
             if you do not go after a dream,
                  if you do not allow yourself,
                       at least once in your lifetime,
                            to run away from sensible advice.

– a translation of the poem, “Muere Lentamente” by Brazilian writer Martha Medeiros and often falsely attributed to Pablo Neruda. Thanks to Kimberly MJ for alerting me to this internet meme.

28 thoughts on “One Year in Beauty

  1. I love you for being the free sprit that you are. Thank you for reminding me to live my life, change the narrative, participate, breathe and do not let fear stand in the way of anything!

    1. Teresa, I feel your love and am so happy you are with us on this journey.


      – Carmen

  2. Congratulations on your first year of LIB. I love reading about your adventures, and your perspective while living on the road. Safe travels.

  3. The Neruda poem was perfectly selected. Your entries are so well written that they are a pleasure to read. Of course, what you share is always enticing and makes me feel as if I am missing out on adventure. I have the twin of your Beauty and Greg’s Smaug to pull it with and your stories Launch us on the quest. Don’t give up on the road before we meet you there. Linda

    1. Linda!

      We must meet up in the Sierras or Julian … ? Anywhere! We’ve been thinking about you two while here in wine country.

      Give Scout a love for me.



  4. Thank you for the inspiration today. My husband and I are preparing to go full time in our Airstream, but this over riding fear of health care is holding us back. Your Pablo Neruda quote has me rethinking that fear.
    I hope our paths cross on the road

    1. Mary,

      Health care is a big decision. Because of our own health issues, we decided not to wait till we were medicare age. We felt that waiting till then might be a mistake. But either way – wait or don’t – it’s all a gamble. We feel that this one year is already a win. If we get a full Year Two then that will be a win-win – three years win-win-win and so on. But, yes. It would be wonderful if we could just buy early into Medicare. We met a full-timing guy with no permanent address in his mid-70’s who had a heart transplant while on the road and living in his RV. He’s doing great!

      Thank for reading Mary. Safe Travels


  5. Thanks for sharing. Its inspirational to give it a try. Maybe you end up going back to ‘sticks n bricks’ but you will never wonder “What if?”

    1. Exactly. We’re in a “no regrets” situation right now and loving it. Right now, we allow climactic conditions to determine where we go to live and whether or not we will stay there or move on to another location – and, our next housing transition will be determined by “atmospheric” conditions, as well.

  6. Such a beautiful blog. Though my time is far from now to move in full time, I can see how it might be reading your story. Thank you!

  7. Jim, it’s great to see your happy, relaxed faces! 🙂 And I love the poem. Stay safe and have awesome adventures! I will check in from time to time. ~Nathalia

  8. Carmen and Jim, I have really enjoyed your posts. Danny and I are still working non stop building Costco stores. Looking forward to taking a real vacation in our RV. If you get around the Atlanta area you all should try the Historical Banning Mills RV and Adventure Park. It has over 100 Ziplines, rock climbing, fishing, and lake for kayaks. Also a Lodge for dining, and plenty of cabins, and even treehouses. We do miss Chula Vista’s pool and hot tub though. Safe travels, I keep checking your blog to see if we cross paths. We are heading next to Lincoln to build in the cornfields as Danny puts it!

    1. Sherri! How wonderful to hear from you two. Jim and I often think about you and Danny and wonder where you are. Atlanta … Hmmmm. That may happen soon, but it’s hard to say right now. We might be on our way to Ohio to have some preventative work done at The Mothership (Airstream) if we can get an appointment. We’d love to meet up with you two. Actually, we’d like to do an interview if you’d let us.

      Thank you for staying in touch!



  9. I loved reading this! We sold our house and committed to do this for a year. We completed 11 months before we had to cut it short because I became ill. I would love to do it again. I tell everyone that it changes your perspective on so many things. It is a sense of freedom and accomplishment that I had never felt before. We refer to it as our ‘Big Adventure Chapter 1’. Thanks for sharing yours. Love it!!

    1. Thank you for sharing your Chapter One, Jeannie. I hope you are stronger and feeling much better now. Keep us posted on Chapter Two! xoxo


  10. Reading your posts makes my heart pump and my face smile. You are living my dream. I am truly a gypsie and nothing makes me feel more alive than the adventure of an open road. I am blessed to have had many adventures and, when reading yours, I feel like I’m right there with you. Keep on keepin on my friends! Please let me know when you’re headed to Yosemite. The water falls are spectacular this year! Xo Stacy

  11. Great blog. And if you’re ever in my neck of the woods. I’ve got an extra plug in

    1. Thank you, Brenda! You’re on. We love plug-ins. Right now, we’re in Wilton, CA having solar capabilities installed by Vinnie at Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair. We have no idea where we’ll be next week, but likely someplace where we can test out our new equipment.


  12. Carmen & Jim – We enjoy your posts; this one spoke to us, as it evidently has to so many others. The past year was our first owning an AS; Judy is still working, so our experience to date has consisted of me towing alone and Judy driving or flying back and forth to meet me. Less than three months and she will be retired, unless her partners are successful in talking her into staying on at least half time. Health care remains a concern, but we are both healthy and finances are okay, but the cost of coverage seems huge. It is sad to see the number of friends you have lost over the past year, especially poignant to see the funny post from your friend and then note he passed away the next day. Tomorrow is never guaranteed; proud of you two for taking the risk. Very encouraging to note your health improved over the first year; just think what two or three more years on the road will do for you guys!

  13. Nice photos and story. I am now living, working and traveling full time. It is a fantastic experience and I have been on a steep learning curve.

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