Beauty: Our Retirement Un-Plan

This post was originally published on Airstream.com

This is the first post in this series, the 2nd post is Making Room to Play.

Posted June 13, 2021 – Narrated by Carmen
To listen to the podcast, click the play button

This series, From Beauty’s Doorstep, is based on five-years of full-time travel, aka LIB (Living in Beauty)

“My whole body is covered with eyes.
    Behold it!
Be without fear!
    I see all around.”

      – poem, from the First Nation of Canada

This felt different, thrilling, and just slightly criminal – like being on the other side of the law, but in the right.

Light reflections from the sun-drenched alley streamed across the floor of the open four-car garage newly emptied of our lifetime accumulation. The ghosts of our old stuff lingered, reluctant to move on – the ladder, the old dog stroller, the pinecone wreath. Yet, within moments, the house keys would change hands and our get-away plan would be complete. We would walk away from our island bungalow, into the bright April afternoon to begin a new life, in Beauty.

Living in Beauty
Holbrook, Arizona

“People do this all the time, right?”

Jim barely heard me. He was focused on his iPad, crossing off details and highlighting others. He appeared cool and calm, but he was in the zone – eyes focused, blood pulsing toward finishing a long and exhausting escrow.

“Yes, people sell houses all the time.” He glanced at his watch, “Three forty-five. Fifteen minutes behind schedule. I’d better call –”

I cut him off, “People live in RV’s all the time, right? We’ve covered the bases. We’re not doing anything illegal, right?”

My last-minute chills didn’t derail him in the least. “Of course not. We’ve done this be –”  

He stopped mid-sentence when a Mercedes sedan pulled up.  

“They’re here.”  

“Yes, we’ve done this before,” I said, “between houses, for a few months. People do that. This is way different, like mad-science, a heist, a drug deal, except this time …” Jim slipped the house keys into the envelope containing warranties, owner manuals, remodeling diagrams, and stepped out to greet the real estate agent. My voice trailed behind him, “… there’s no plan.”

But that was five years ago, when I was still talking like an Ancient Egyptian – over-thinking the future, scheming how to take it all down with me, and experiencing the G-forces between the world of Belonging and the universe of Wandering.

Living in Beauty
Lake Meredith, Texas

A thick contrail of intense newbie energy still lingers from that wobbly moment of departure from our old garage – the day we began living in our Airstream, Beauty – our home machine, our travel machine (and, since the pandemic) our breathing machine.

Living in Beauty
Martinez Lake, Arizona

Falling in love with machines goes way back to the 1700’s, the dawn of the Age of Industry, and machine-love will continue until it isn’t appropriate table conversation … and, yet, (and, I know it sounds ridiculous, impossible and way too sweet) becoming enchanted with a trailer struck me totally by surprise.

My dad, Allen Perry, is responsible for the infatuation. He knows machines. As a retired flight engineer for the United States Navy, his advice was the first we sought. Our question: Which RV will be the best for going camping forever? Dad understood that as bicycle campers, backpackers and experienced tent-campers, we wanted a low-profile unit with all the luxuries – a unit designed for two normal sized humans, not of barn-like dimensions – a mobile domain tailored for our needs and proportioned to slip easily into almost any campsite.

Dad said, “You’re looking for an Airstream.”

“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom”

      – Friedrich Schiller

Months of research followed. Then, after selecting an ideal model and size, more months elapsed as we searched nation-wide. And, suddenly, one morning the kismet began. At precisely the same moment, Jim and I shared texts containing the identical advert for a 2001 30′ Excella in Alabama. The next day, Dad drove from his Mississippi home to inspect the unit and reported back to us, “She’s a beauty.”

Living in Beauty
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Every old house has its secrets, and with at least three former owners, Beauty has a history which she reveals in halting chapters over time. After a bumpy breaking-in period, we learned to trust her and she, us. Beauty is more than our living quarters. She is our guide, our magic carpet, our third eye.

Living in Beauty
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

She graces us with the gift of superb craftsmanship.

A history of thousands of successful voyages by Airstream explorers instills confidence. Her lean and lithe dimensions – superior smallness, we call it – makes us feel as lissome as migratory beasts. At first, we treated her with kid gloves, but over time we’ve learned that she can take it. Beauty’s favorite camping spots are off-road and down washboarded and flood-damaged roads.

Living in Beauty
Salome, Arizona

Like a good teacher, Beauty tests our personal comfort zones and moves us to take risks. Nothing escapes her shiny skin. She steadies our gaze on the compatibility between humankind and nature, shows us where things went wrong in the environment and where things are improving.

She also inspires, taking us on field trips through a bluebonnet super-bloom in Big Bend …

to view wild horses on Assateague Island …

Living in Beauty
Assateague National Seashore, Maryland

and surprised us with double rainbows on Puget Sound.

Living in Beauty
Port Townsend, Washington

Over the last year, the journey became an odyssey.

With personal losses mounting and little we could do to help, Beauty served as essential equipment, taking us deep into remote and quiet places …

Living in Beauty
‎⁨Snow Summit⁩, ⁨⁨Big Bear Lake⁩, ⁨California⁩

where exquisite natural landscapes soothed the sting of death and the activities of camping kept our minds and bodies active.

Living in Beauty
‎⁨Adirondacks, New York⁩

Most of Earth’s creatures have belonging times and wandering times. Each is at their best when doing whatever it is they need to do.

Living in Beauty
Pico de Gallo, Great Explorer of the Universe, our traveling companion

This wandering time of ours is a reprieve from the usual, the mundane. Going back to “normal” conventional lives – that’s always an option. But memento mori is ever before us, urging us on to another bucket list destination.

“Beauty! Terrible Beauty! 
A deathless Goddess – so she strikes our eyes!”

      – Homer, The Iliad

But Beauty is forever young.

Many campers ask us if she’s fresh from the assembly line. Nope, we say, she’s not new … but man, is she fresh. Beauty isn’t picky. She makes her bed in Everywhere – aspen mountains, piney forests, saguaro deserts, vineyards, beaches and cherry orchards. She’s not one to develop attachments. When she’s in Nevada, she’s thinking about Bar Harbor. When she’s in Florida, she’s sending love notes to Toronto.

Living in Beauty
‎⁨Fishlake National Forest⁩, ⁨Salina⁩, ⁨Utah⁩

Recently – on a beautiful April morning in North Carolina – we stepped outside to find Beauty cloaked in a thick blanket of pollen which covered every inch of her silvery self, top to bottom. We stepped back to view the damage and agonize over the clean-up. But, then, as the sun came out from behind the clouds, our reproachful expressions softened. Beauty, Illuminated by a diaphanous golden halo, took our breath away. Like a girl in a new prom dress, she seemed delighted with her appearance, so we let her strut it for a few days.

Living in Beauty

Yes, Beauty, it is a new season and we are alive and healthy. Happy Pollen Day.

Oh, beauty before me
   beauty behind me
beauty to the right of me
   beauty to the left of me
beauty above me
   beauty below me
I am on the pollen path

      – Navaho Saying

Leaving the old job, old office, old way of doing things can make one feel old, or it can make you feel new – new possibilities, new scenery, new people. We needed a retirement un-plan, one that would untether us from property ownership and expand our reach beyond mall-walking and happy hours. Beauty was created to engage us – to challenge norms, to fascinate us, to broaden our perspective and to move our souls.

And, we are riveted.

“One world at a time”

      – Thoreau on his deathbed
Living in Beauty

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.


27 thoughts on “Beauty: Our Retirement Un-Plan

  1. I really enjoyed reading this 🥰 It’s wonderful to hear about your stories and magical life – like a good book I never want to end. Blessings to you both (and Pico too). I’m in Polson MT now. If you ever want to explore Flathead Lake or come to Glacier, I’d love to share a glass of wine 🍷😊

    1. Stacy!!! So wonderful to hear from you. My, how beautiful your garden grows …

      Hopefully, we will be up there to see you in the future. Not sure when, but we will give you plenty of notice.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement. Pico says Wow Who Woo (I love you).

      Safe and Happy Travels Gypsy Lady!

      Carmen @ LIB

  2. A friend from the distant past, Jim Beaubeaux, and his wife Carmen stopped by in Lake Tahoe shortly after they kicked off what is the dream of many, to “live in beauty.” The chronicling of their epic journey around the U.S. is well worth a peruse. Indeed, for the past few years, Jim and Carmen have been “Living in Beauty!”

    1. John! Hearing from you always brings the majestic image of Lake Tahoe to mind. Wow. After so many decades, we are still connected. It is a miracle of RV travel that we can visit our friends and family and still sleep in our own bed at night. Hopefully, next time we are in Tahoe, we will be able to catch up.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen @ LIB

    1. Lance! Wow! Thank you for checking in! Best to you on your camping adventures. We hope to be up your way perhaps next year. It would be great to catch up!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen @ LIB

  3. You’re such a wonderful writer and your stories and life philosophy are truly inspiring. Beauty is aptly named and has given you guys the perfect way to experience and share the wonderfully diverse landscapes of North America. Cheers to many more miles!

    1. Oh Laura, that is so funny because it is your writing that inspires me. Nothing better than a day when a Chapter3travels pops up on my email.

      As you know, it’s more than travel, it’s a lifestyle. Not for everybody that’s for sure. We are enjoying this precious window of opportunity and will treasure each day until it closes.

      Cheers to more miles and, hopefully, we will meet up the road.

      Safe and Happy Travels! (Please tell Thor he is SUCH a GOOD boy for me)

      Carmen @ LIB

    1. Hey Sabrina! Always wonderful to hear from you and thank you for your kindness and encouragement.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen @ LIB

  4. We have never met but I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to join you on your journey. My weekends in my Airstream are so special to me and your long trips are fun to read about. Hope to see you on the road some day!!

  5. Hey Moni! Oh my, you are so welcome. In fact, we’re thrilled to have you on the journey. We would be delighted to meet you on the road. We move very slowly – about 200 miles every two weeks – so, if you think we are in your area, just go to our contact page and email us.

    Thanks so much for the encouragement.

    Safe and Happy Travels!

    LIB

  6. Oh, Carmen…… What a beautiful picture you paint with your words. You are so gifted. Think of you both often.
    Xoxoxo
    Judy

    1. Judy! Thank you for the uplifting Shelley energy! We’ve been thinking of you guys too. We must together ride some rail trail somewhere someday with a few breweries along the way … maybe the Tammany Trace? That would be a hoot!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Jeff! Thanks so much for listening. How’d you like the cicada chorus? They’re temperamental to work with but at least they’re free.

      Wonderful to have you on board!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  7. Hi guys, another great post. Fantastic pictures as always. We are really looking forward to getting back on the road mid August. Your stories and pictures remind us of what we are missing. Take care and safe travels.

    1. Hey Steve! Wonderful to hear from you. The summer is long and there will plenty left come mid-August so jump in when the timing’s right. The open road feels fine. We’ll keep it warm for you 😉

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  8. What a wonderful word picture. Your knack for vivid descriptions is a highlight of my day. This post is particularly thought provoking as I see the similarity in our travels in Sprinty, our Roadtrek Class B camper van. Thanks for brightening my morning.

    1. Darrell and Kris! Thanks so much for checking in! You two are amazing!!! Thanks also for meeting up with us in Shenandoah!

      We are listing your Sprinty Travels on our RV Travel Blog page. I’m sure many senior RV and Van Campers, both part and full-time, will be inspired by your travel journal and your active lifestyle.

      https://2015sprinty.blogspot.com

      We plan to acquire a set of putters when we get to San Diego!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Beverly!

      We were just talking about you and HERE you are!!! I love the miracle of telepathy, but it would be great to see you, too.

      Thanks so much for being with us.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  9. I’ve been following you for a few years now and look forward to meeting up sometime on the road when we started part timing next year. The 2022 Flying Cloud 23FB is now on order. Can’t wait for her to arrive!

    1. Hey Dianne! We envy you! Waiting to see your new Airstream can be the next best thing to crossing the threshold of your new Airstream. Looking back, that time offered us the opportunity to read, dream, research, investigate, plan, and immerse into the lifestyle. Air Forums was a great help in those days. We read deep into the archives.

      Thanks so much for being with us and congratulations on your little silver bun in the oven!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Thank you Liesbet. We must make plans to meet up. BTW, I bought your book and am looking forward a to a good summer read.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

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