The Footpath Way

Posted November 6, 2017 – Narrated by Carmen

If you’d rather listen to the podcast, click the play button.

 

“Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,

And merrily hent the stile-a:

A merry heart goes all the day,

Your sad tires in a mile-a.”  – The Winter’s Tale

We’re always looking for shorthand descriptions of this merry thing we do, this LIB thing we have going here.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

“Full-timers” or “Full-time Airstreaming” doesn’t cover it because folks still ask where we live.

We understand. With no specific base of operations, address, or permanency, we’re in a unique category for modern alternative lifestyles – even some ancient ones.

“Complicated people living the simple life.” How’s that sound?

It might be easier to explain what we’re not.

We’re not homeless. Well, people do ask sometimes … and we reject any comparison to that description. Not out of shame, but because we have a home and we’re not struggling for our daily existence, forgotten and cast out by society. The poor, elderly, mentally ill and disabled have enough jokes and difficulties on them without privileged RVers striking comparisons.

We’re not part of the Tiny House movement. The admirable consumer culture motivated by technological advances migrating toward simpler and cleaner living arrangements is also “not us.” Though tiny homes are often mobile, they’re not exclusively oriented toward mobility. Tiny homes may be just mobile enough to squeeze between zoning laws, but the structures usually (hopefully!) stay off the road. Our portability is by design and to support our constant, steady land migration across the continent. The caribou may be the only mammal in North America that can out-migrate a full-time RVer.

We’re not trying to reduce our economy. While it’s somewhat cheaper to maintain a 200 square foot (including storage) mobile living space than it is to keep up a 1,000 to 2,000 square foot house or condo – or wrangle a 400 square foot RV – economy is not our motivation. Some nights we pay $70 or more and other nights, nothing at all. Quality food and drink is expensive everywhere and living well in preferred locations is the goal.

We’re not environmentalists – Conservation is certainly a factor, but reducing our carbon footprint doesn’t, in our opinion, require an RV. Any person in any living situation is capable of greater reductions than what we’ve accomplished. If we were younger, we’d travel in our old Honda CRV with a tent. Sometime in the last decade, our bodies betrayed us. It was most heart-wrenching to part with our beloved family tent. We covet our evening strolls about the campgrounds as we ogle tents and remember the old days … If our aging bodies would cooperate, we’d still be sleeping on the ground.

We’re not RV enthusiasts. Living out of a couple of suitcases might be nice if AIRBNB type services could accommodate our no-hassles travel style. But maybe not. Risk of exposure to bed bugs and the heavy pesticides establishments use to combat vermin and then try to cover with pungent carpet deodorants is not our idea of luxury. Star-slathered, hotel names boasting environmental responsibility can’t win me over either. While traveling with my sister, Deborah the RN, we discovered lice after a routine flashlight inspection of our 4-star hotel room. They even evacuated the entire wing. So, I’m not taking any chances. LIB is clean, pest free, pet-friendly, fragrant and more secure than any hotel. RVing is our travel solution.

We’re not Airstream enthusiasts. Actually, we just joined the WBCCI San Diego Chapter, our number is 5108, so we can attend rallies with friends we’ve met on the road. But Airstreaming wasn’t in the original plan – it just evolved. Once we decided that towing suited our RV travel philosophy, Airstream was clearly the best choice. Halfway across the country, we found the best pre-owned 30′ unit in the USA from a reputable seller (who is now our good friend) and we’ve never looked back. A great 80-year record of excellence and a service department that’s a pleasure to work with is why we’re happy Airstreamers. When we’re done, Beauty and The Beast will probably go into service for another traveling couple who may give our team other names … and that’s the success story of Airstream.

Exploring is the goal – like a coupla’ kids brown-bagging sandwiches on a field trip that never ends. We prefer the outdoors – the really big outdoors. We like to drive into difference – landscape, food, architecture, art and history – and then cozy up at home with a good book or film before bedtime. Yesterday, we slept at a farm way out in the countryside …

… today in a seaside fishing community only four steps away from an awesome Tiki Bar.

We wake each morning to the new, the unexpected and most often, the beautiful…

LIB has detoxified us from conventional attitudes about old age.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

What were we supposed to say when we retired … “I quit? I’m done? This is it?” – If so, we are happily misguided. When we walked out of the office we also walked away from an old way of thinking, and saying, and measuring ourselves and other’s personal contributions to the world, and placing price tags and value judgments on whatever precious moments we have left.

LIB is like being babes again, marveling at every new discovery like home is everywhere. If we’re caught grinning ear to ear for no apparent reason, that’s probably what we’re thinking – home is everywhere. Jesus knows the bird is home wherever it eats and sleeps. Sunday school 101.

Hey, I like that …

“Living in Beauty/Sunday School 101.”

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia

 

12 thoughts on “The Footpath Way

  1. Hi Carmen and Jim. Your emails are always a welcome sight in my mailbox. We retired a bit over two years ago, downsized our empty nest and purchased an Airstream this year. We not only enjoy your experiences, but learn from them. Thanks for being our mentors.

    Kathy and Steve

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Kathy and Steve. Do as we say not as we do. No, NO! Do as we do not as we say … Yikes! Mentoring is hard! Each in his own way, as they say. Listen to everyone and everything and be careful out there – you’ll be just fine. Thank you for being with us!

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

  2. We also do it for the adventure and experience. Though I will say that I’ve become enamored of a simpler, less materialistic life. Owning too much stuff can really drag you down. All that stuff takes time, effort, and money to maintain and manage. Getting free of it is pretty liberating. I’m no aesthetic, but shedding all the superfluous trappings of consumerism has some real benefits.

    1. So great to have you with us Sigfried. Yes, we agree. Whatever serves our travel ambitions is a keeper. If the item distracts, then it’s a goner. Every day we’re startled by how few material items are required to sustain our way of life. Technology and civil society relieve us from the burden of so many possessions. We certainly do not deceive ourselves that we are on our own, As long as there’s an internet we can use our applications to find camping, dump stations, groceries, medical needs, pet supplies … But, we are richer when we are poorer. Freer when we are light. There will perhaps come a time when our needs change or increase due to afflictions or responsibilities but we do not actively prepare for that time just as twenty years ago we did not actively prepare for this time. If we’re learning anything, it’s to not hold on to too much.

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

  3. Your posts are refreshingly well written and for a retired like myself, identifiable. YouTube is full of young folks and financially poor folks on the lamb form the conformity, the monotony perceived in traditional living. My career was none of those things, rather satisfying and rewarding on many levels. Now in retirement with a home in Arizona and a condo in the high country of Colorado, where summers are delightful, one could say I’m living the dream, indeed I’m not complaining and have gratitude for the blessings of this world and the wherewithal to give to others through chosen philanthropy.

    That said there’s a beauty and intrigue to travel known all my life, from family trips on the iconic Route 66 as a youngster, to two cross country, self contained bicycle journeys as a middle aged business man on sabbatical from real life, finding along the way “life that is real life is ernest and the grave is not its goal, dust thou art to dust returnith was spoken of the soul” Longfellow. After nearly four years owning and traveling intermittently in a Lance travel trailer, I just days ago sold the Lance and found an Airstream, 27 foot, front queen, International Signature, in Ontario Canada of all places and it’s currently on its way to us here in Tucson. My hope and ambition with this rig, towed with our Ram 1500, is more time upclose and personal with America and Americans, Canada and Canadians, Mexico and Mexicans. As learned in my earlier bicycle journeys…bicycle tournimg is not a mater of getting point A to point B on the compass, rather a journey into ones self. The Airstream, for a set of aging bones, will. It’s my hope IT be the vessel to carry me across the fruited plane, engaging with others and experiencing more of the America’s and Americans than holed up in my cozy confines of Tucson and Dillon CO, pleasant as they are. Thanks for your reflections on your journey and for this opportunity to reflect as I await our unit. I’m believe it’ll be named “The Proton Beam” towed by the “Accelerator”….but that’s a story for another day. Blesssing to y’all along your way.

    1. Congratulations David! Your AS trailer found you and should, by this writing, be gleaming in all it’s glory on your driveway in Tucson. Yes, The Psalm of Life! We truly do live upon the very dust of our ancestors – and they hold us up to live, to shine!

      Thank you for being with us, David. Safe travels. We hope to meet you along the way.

      LIB

  4. Great post Carmen and Jim. Nice explanation of why you do what you do. Or at least the non reasons for what you do. Keep on moving down the road.

    1. Frank! Are you coming to Florida? If so, let’s meet up!

      Yes, just experimenting with negative and positive space. Life’s a canvas, you know.

      xoxo,

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

    1. Hey Morgan!

      I’d love to tell you that we have these secret match sticks and at midnight we toss ’em on the ground and whichever way the most point, that’s the way we go.

      It’s a mix of things.

      Family is first. We spent some time in Mississippi helping Dad sort things out in his new house.

      Health concerns also guide us – we stayed in MS an extra day so Jim could go to the dentist in Union and have a crown fixed – the wonderful Dr. Nicole Harrison fit him in.

      Weather is also a consideration. It was a tough call which way to go. We knew we were going down … but to Louisiana or Florida? When we were in Florida last winter, we had pre-paid for this private campground we’re in tonight and were on our way here when Daddy’s house burned down. Since the owners here kindly gave us a 12-month rain-check, we decided to come down here. Maybe next winter we will go to Louisiana. We’d like to stay in Fontainbleu State Park again and also go further down south of New Orleans.

      We’ll be back here in Cedar Key someday. It’s is a sleepy little town where old men sit under an umbrella and sell fresh fish from coleman coolers on the street corner. Nothing here is new or stylish or corporate. It’s like time stopped. People decorate their houses and yards with found items that wash up on shore. The gardens around the Tiki Bar are bordered with bowling pins. Last night we had dinner in a restaurant that was built in 1884 and is still the locals hangout with the best fresh local seafood and low-country chow. The place is authentic, not messed up by forced attempts at restoration and preservation – just intact functional history. We’d stay longer and explore but the kayaking here is difficult due to the tides and oyster shoals – so we’re heading to deeper water.

      We like it warm, so we’re heading south. Florida’s Gulf Coast is a big attraction for us. All of Florida has an abundance of campgrounds – county, state, federal, Army Corps of Engineers, BLM, private … even without reservations there’s always someplace to camp unless you need full hook-ups. Jim knows the details, but we’re heading toward Marathon tomorrow – I think there’s a county campground there with space. We use several apps for finding campgrounds. Florida’s expensive though. We’re hoping to find some good, cheap “secret” places this winter.

      Thanks for staying in touch. We plan to be in San Diego in Spring. I hope to see you then.

      xoxo

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