Counting Moments: 3 Years

Posted July 19, 2019 – Narrated by Carmen
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Europeans marvel at how Americans seem willing, almost eager, to work themselves into an early grave. My European friends have told me proudly, “We don’t live to work…we work to live.
― Rick Steves, Travel as a Political Act

Yesterday marks the first day of our fourth year of Living in Beauty.

We will never forget that Monday morning on July 18, 2016, when we pulled out of Fiddler’s Cove in Coronado, California.

Living In Beauty
July 18, 2016

The moment was so profound that my life passed before my eyes.

That mental phenomena, LRE (Life Review Experience) had occurred once before when Jim and I were in a bicycle crash in our 30’s. As I watched my tires slide sideways on wet sand my brain tossed a “memory foam” cushion between me and the tarred mountain road – it was like a concerned parent dangling a mobile over a cradle to distract a screaming infant.

A myriad of shining, joyful moments from my distant past fascinated me while bits of gravel and tar penetrated my shoulders, knees, elbows and chin.

Later, in the hospital, I learned that my head had cracked against an unhewn stone wall, but all I could remember was my dog, Flopsie, licking my face and someone behind me digging a churchkey into a can of grape soda pop.

I asked my new friend, “Were you born here?” He thought about it, paused, and then said, “No, ’twas ’bout five miles down the road.” Later, I asked him, “Have you lived here all your life?” He winked and said, “Not yet.” 

― Rick Steves, Travel as a Political Act

“Because we are going to die.”

That’s how Jim and I answer people when they ask, “But how can you just leave it all behind?

Because we’re going to die. No, not immediately – we hope – but in order for our future deaths to be successful, preparations must be made.

Living In Beauty
Winter Garden, Florida

Vanaprastha

According to Hindu philosophy, Jim and I are in our third asrama, the life-stage known as Vanaprastha, or “going into the woods.”

The four stages of life.

Traditionally, one entering Vanaprasthashrama will release all of the success, money and prestige they gained throughout the previous life-stage – offering all up to colleagues, family, neighbors and charity – and retire into a life of community service and worship.

Vanaprastha is a period of contemplation to prepare for the next life stage – a complete renunciation of this world.

Living In Beauty
Bellfountaine, Ohio

The idea is to live frugally, with a minimum of resources, to not stress younger family members with your burdens – to grow humble, reserve judgement and dispense advice only when asked and even then, sparingly.

Living In Beauty
Clairion, Pennsylvania

Vanaprastha is a “little” death – a rehearsal.

Living In Beauty
New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

But we’re living in the modern world, so we’re not letting go of our support team of friends and family, including our wonderful investor, Dunham & Associates; and the best technician ever at Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair, as well as the Airstream team.

Our fourth year begins!

LIB has grown out of the toddler stage and is entering pre-school.

In the beginning we felt like wide-eyed babes in the woods … perhaps too trusting, more curious than is healthy, aware of the dangers but finding comfort in each other.

But now we’re steadier on our feet, walking taller and learning the rules of the road, such as …

Never say anything negative about someone’s town, home state, province or country. People are people as long as you avoid politics and religion. In fact, we’ve grown accustomed to daily exchanges of neighborly kindnesses and generosities – gestures we once reserved for holidays.

Travel brings human difference into focus but also reveals how much we share.

Living In Beauty
Epcot, Disney World

Last December, we went to see the amazing film, They Shall Not Grow Old – a WWI documentary gleaned from letters written from the perspective of men who were abroad for the first time, discovering how the enemies they were sent to kill were mere men, like themselves.

As our travel guru Rick Steves says,

Ideally, travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically. Suddenly, the palette with which we paint the story of our lives has more colors

Rick Steves

We’ve also learned that we enjoy travel even more than we thought we might. Traveling can be a hassle and extreme travel in an RV is a non-stop list of hassles – but we accept and even embrace these difficulties over the alternative of living in a static environment.

Living In Beauty
Sacramento, California

Throughout our first year – though we had willfully dislodged ourselves – we couldn’t dismiss the impulse to look for places we might like to call home. Now, it’s the rare moment when we peruse real estate billets in adorable seaside neighborhoods or artsy mountain villages.

Living In Beauty
Paso Robles, California

We’re just passing through, meeting the locals, exploiting the charm, learning the history, savoring the walks, sunsets, local cuisine and craft beer … and, then say our farewells.

Living In Beauty
Savannah, Georgia

Perhaps it’s the idea of accumulating stuff that keeps us moving.

By now, we’ve been letting stuff go for so long that taking on household possessions again would feel like treachery, abandoning ship, going down the path of travel destruction.

Living In Beauty
Bardstown, Kentucky – Bourbon capital of the world

Keeping possessions at a minimum makes packing, moving and arriving almost effortless. Last week in Jersey City, we had to move three times in three days within the same campground. Packing, hitching, unhitching, unpacking and settling back into our deck chairs took less than fifteen minutes each time.

This nimbleness allows us to move more freely without watching the clock because we made a reservation.

Living In Beauty
Wapakoneta, Ohio

Most campgrounds have solutions for a late arrival if you’re willing to move from space to space – and, once they know you, you’re more likely to be offered the most coveted spots.

We avoided reservations for a long stretch of our Florida Winter. Here on the East Coast we’ve made a few refundable reservations but, so far, we’re seeing it wasn’t really necessary.

Living In Beauty
Catawissa, Pennslyvania

Budgeting for one or two week stays costs more in rent and can be tough on the rig. So, LIB is as economically sustainable as a sticks-and-bricks home.

Eventually, the time will come when failing health or an economic recession will necessitate switching to the LIB 2.0 plan and we will cut our campground expenses in half with by-the-month reservations and travel half the miles.

Living In Beauty
Findlay, Ohio

There’s still so much to see.

Three years in and we still haven’t seen Glacier National Park, Niagara Falls, or even San Francisco.

Moving days are still so exciting that we have trouble sleeping the night before.

We’ll continue as long as we have that thrill to look forward to. The only difficulty is making a decision about where to go.

Living In Beauty
New Orleans, Louisiana

Counting moments sure beats watching the clock – and curiosity, a sense of wonder and great expectations are a hallmark of the good life and the good death.

Living In Beauty
Banff, Alberta – Canda

The power of love sustains us and contending with a very bossy chihuahua keeps us on our toes. Meanwhile, we are old people at your service.

Living In Beauty
Jersey City!

Who knows where we’ll end up next – planting trees for the next generation or doing a raptor inventory in the wild.

We’re ready for year four.

For those interested, here are our accumulated costs and statistics over the years.

By the way, how many clocks did you find in all the photos?

50 thoughts on “Counting Moments: 3 Years

  1. Love, love, love reading your posts! Miss you guys, let us know if your BC bound at any time – or perhaps Arizona …. love you guys

    1. Paul and Pattie, we will definitely let you know when we are either in British Columbia or Arizona. Miss you both!

  2. Wonderful reflections on your plan rationale, priorities and pragmatic future. So enjoy following your travels, living vicariously and staying just a little in touch. Enjoy New England (every New Yorker wants to be there). 😎❣️

    1. Hey Jan! Thank you for the encouragement. The future really isn’t so difficult to figure out. The health of our ancestors in each decade of their senior years is valuable information for planning a realistic retirement.

      We’re so happy the technology to support this kind of travel is available and affordable.

      New England is beautiful though camping options are limited. If only the heat would subside (whew!) we could enjoy it a bit more.

      Safe Travels!

      Carmen and Jim

  3. We are so happy for you both, so grateful to you for your friendship from the first, and your care, and your wisdom. Here’s to days 1,095.75 to 1,461. Love you forever.

    1. Tim, thank you for your friendship and encouragement, blessing and love. Love you and Betty forever.

      xoxo

      Carmen and Jim

  4. Another wonderful post and another milestone! Enjoyed meeting and spending time with you last year at the Salem Rally. We join the many others who benefit from your willingness to share good ideas and good products. I think fondly of you each morning when I bloom the coffee in the press! Hope there are many more years on the road for you and hope we meet again.

    1. Oh Michael, thank you for being with us! I love it that you see us in the coffee grounds. Hope you and Judy are having a great time Doswell! We’re enjoying the photos on Facebook. Best wishes and Safe Travels.

      LIB

  5. Your words are like a beautiful love song about life. WISDOM just pours. Clarity with the sense of dreaming. I love the quote from Rick Steves. That really sums up what travel has done for us in a short time, though we still have a lot more colors to add. And people are just people without politics and religion. That may be the best life lesson I hope to fully grasp someday. And Glacier is pretty amazing. If you ever need advice on how to navigate it, we’d love to help and should have a video out about it soon!

    1. Thank you so much for being with us and for sharing your journey on The McMillan Express. We enjoy following you two on Facebook and Instagram. Enjoy Seattle. We love the Great Northwest and I have many happy childhood memories from that area. Best Wishes for a fabulous and rewarding time there.

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

    1. Thank you, Clarice, yes we are! And we try to remember that on trailer washing day 😉

      Thank you so much for being with us.

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

    1. Thank you, Jihong. I hope your summer travels are rewarding. Thank you for being with us and for sharing your journey.

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

  6. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Thanks for sharing your beautiful, real lives. And twenty-one clocks, I believe! Congratulations on finishing your third and starting your fourth year. Happy travels!

    1. Sabrina, we are so honored to have you along on the journey. We think Year Four will be great.

      What fun that you took the clock challenge – we counted 24 clocks – 26 if you count Jeffrey Dunham’s and Vinnie Lamica’s watches.

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Steve! Thank you for taking the clock challenge. Jim and I count 24 clocks (some of the towers show more than one clock face) and if you count Jeffrey Dunham’s and Vinnie Lamica’s watches there would be 26.

      Safe Travels, Steve!

      LIB

    1. Why thank you, Bambi. We feel honored. It’s so much fun to gather with Beauty’s cousins at Airstream in Ohio and at WBCCI and at the Airstream parks like TCPC and Penn Wood. I always say that if you have the choice, choose Airstream.

      Thank you for being with us, Bambi.

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

    1. Congratulations, Marc! Well done. So happy for you.

      Hopefully our Beauty will be able to support us for a long, long time, but if something happens, we will have to aluminum-up again. What would we do without our Airstreams!?!?

      We hope to cross paths.

      Till then, Safe Travels,

      LIB

  7. Congratulations! I love your blog and learn so much from it. Hopefully in 10 years we will be on the road and enjoying it as much as you are

    1. Thank you LisaAnne! Yes, this is a wonderful lifestyle but the preparing years were also a hoot. The journey takes shape from where you are right now – in fact, it has already begun. We treasure those memories of the planning, hoping and trailer shopping.

      Thank you so much for being with us. We look forward to hearing more about your adventure.

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

  8. The Hindu philosophy has lasted the test of time, and for good reason. Thanks for this reminder that our next stages of life can be entered calmly and without fear. Beginning my 30th and final year as a science teacher- I look forward to life on the road with my husband in our rig.
    Your story is inspiring, educational, and a joy to follow. Keep up the good work! Following you…

    1. Cindy, you are inspiring me right now! We meet so many retired teachers on the road. You will be in good company. Congratulations and thank you for your service as a teacher. Blessings to you as you begin the transition into retirement with your husband. I hope your journey takes you places that explain Everything to you. The Canadian Rockies, The Grand Tetons and recently, NYC (of all places) give me these moments of awareness that just blow my mind.

      Enjoy the prepping stage. It’s magic!

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

  9. Very nice post, with a deep understanding of the different divisions of life, Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprasta, Samyasa. Working to your last breath to accumulate wealth and material attachments is a fallacy that so many are caught up in. Your spot on, ‘Living in Beauty’, catch you down the road 🙏🏽🕉

    1. Thank you Errol! Yes, I am sure we will meet you and Wendy again down the road. I hope you are staying cool up there this summer.

      Yes, who says on their deathbed, “I wish I had worked one more year” or “I wish I had bought more stuff.”? No one.

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

  10. Congratulations. We are 14 months in and still working remote. Your writing fills me with hope and many shared feelings.

    1. Wow! So great to hear from you, Mick. Thank you for being with us. The RV community of digital nomads fascinate us. I think if technology had been what it is today, we would have set out much sooner than we did. Good for you!

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

  11. Kudos to you in expanding your ongoing discovery and engagement. And, thank you sharing your wonderful adventures with all of us who care about you. Your Joy and wonderment is infectious! Namaste.

  12. I love everything about this post. The themes, the quotes, the philosophy behind it all… You guys are just two weeks ahead of us on this fulltime travel thing and we are definitely having more and more discussions about what might be next. On the one hand, there are times we miss the conveniences and comforts of a stationary life. On the other, what could possibly be better than seeing new places, meeting new people, and knowing that every week will be different than the one before? It is certainly a great life and posts like this remind us of all we’d be giving up if we settled back down.

    Congratulations on three years. Hope to see you down the road somewhere!

    1. Thank you Laura for this encouragement. We love your blog! Though we are from different generations, your interests and mission is so similar to ours. We love your blog! The photos the writing and attitude – how you rejoice in the good times and laugh off the bad times.

      Congratulations to you and Kevin for Chapter 3’s upcoming anniversary for 3 years of full-time on-the-go travel.

      We hope to meet up with you soon.

      Safe Travels!

      LIB

  13. There is always something new waiting for you around the next bend in the road. Keep enjoying the experience and scenery each unique location brings you.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Darwin. We are so happy to be able to do this at this time in our lives. We look forward to seeing you and Andrea and the kids again!

      Safe Travels,

      xoxo

      Carmen and Jim

    1. Thank you! LIB followers are our heroes! Thank you so much for being with us, Debbie!

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

    1. Thank you, Maryl. We will. Journeying on with the confidence that our followers looking out for us.

      Safe Travels,

      LIB

    1. Thank you, Diane. We definitely sense the hugs, prayers and well-wishes. You have a wonderful summer and Safe Travels.

      LIB

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