Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Edisto Beach

I love State Parks. 

I do. 

I don't think I've ever been at one I didn't like. They're small, well managed, quiet and unique. 

Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina was no exception.

We pulled in at dusk and had a hard time getting into our campsite...this is when we said we'd never set up in the dark again. After some struggling, we got it in and set up. We knew we must be close to the beach because we could hear the surf crashing, but all we could see behind us was wetlands. In the morning when we woke up and went exploring to find the sea, it turns out we were right next to it. Long gorgeous empty beach with crashing waves, soft sand, sand dollars, big whelk shells...we spent hours every single day just walking and exploring the beach. (and I will add we found something new each time)

The kids were amazed by the palm trees and large moss covered oaks, and it fit right into Laurel's very first Oak Meadow school lesson. We even found some clay deposits in the sand and collected some to try our hand at making some homemade pottery.

The campground had people, but was not nearly full, which made it feel homey without feeling overcrowded. The bathrooms were nice, the staff was helpful. The only two downsides, which just come with the territory;are that the drinking water was salt water (I had salt water coffee for 4 days...just FYI...not good) and there are no laundry facilities in the park, or on the island. In fact the closest laundry was nearly an hour away. (Therefore we skipped laundry and decided to go beach chic...which basically meant re-wearing clothes, or skipping certain layers...who REALLY needs underpants?!?!) 

Hey, when in Rome, right?

I gotta tell you, I love a winter beach. That summer sun and vacation can keep them. I prefer quiet solitude and a gray sky. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ferry Time

I realize we've the grid...since we left Alaska.


Partly I think it was emotional space that I needed as we transitioned from one life to another, and partly I just didn't have technology and/or internet at the same time. (Plus I'm having to use the kids' cameras and Jon's nothing seems simple right now!)

First things first.

The ferry.

I have never had such a traumatic/wonderful/emotional/difficult goodbye as the day we got on the ferry. Our friends came and met us and there was playing, hugging, crying and laughing simultaneously. Then there was that last few minutes, standing on top of the ferry, watching Ketchikan (and our friends) slip away.

Talk about emotionally exhausting.

Thank goodness there is absolutely NOTHING TO DO on the ferry.

When there is nothing to do, we do nothing. We played games, slept, ate, watched a documentary about the Alaska Marine Highway and generally just hung out.

It was wonderful, and exactly what we needed after the hectic, emotionally charged and physically exhausting last couple of weeks we had in Alaska.

Since then we have traveled across the country, picked up the camper, had Thanksgiving with family, and started testing out our camping skills in Georgia and South Carolina. I will try to catch up with pictures and posts, and with any luck I will catch up to our current location soon. (I'll give you a hint though, there are loud waves and large shells...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A love letter to Alaska

Dear Alaska,

I love you.

I love your beauty, your wildness, your sense of adventure and your people. I love that I don't have to be anyone but myself here.  You don't care what kind of car I drive, what kind of shoes I wear, or whether my hair is in a ponytail.  Because of you I stopped trying to hide behind makeup and found contentment with how I really look.

Holi Festival, Bugges Beach

You have shown my children so many amazing things that they might never have seen. The beauty of this place is awe-inspiring, but equally awesome is the sense of community. There are so many events, classes, clubs and things-to-do that one can only be bored if they choose to be.

Christmas Tree Hunting, Tongass National Forest

Log-rolling Boys, Alaskan Lumber Jack Show

Blueberry Pie Eating Contest, Blueberry Festival

99 Nails Earthday Beach Clean Up, Bugges Beach

You have spoiled me for all others. I learned from you that I should bask in the beauty of nature every single day.  I learned from you that when there is nothing to do your trees, rocks and sea provide all the fun we could need.

Black Sands Beach

I will never forget you, even if I never see you again...though I hope that isn't the case.  My heart is always yours.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Answering the BIG Questions


I do get asked some basic questions over and over about our travel plans, so for the sake of clearing things up (and maybe help others along the same path) I will answer them here.

What are we doing?

Why are we doing it?

How did we manage it?

Each question deserves it's own post, so I will focus on the easy one first.

What are we doing?  

We are going to travel full time, across the country, in a camper.

A family of four in a camper may sound cramped...but considering most campers have MORE square footage than our boat's gonna feel pretty spacious to us. (Jon and I get our own bedroom again! Yaaayyyy!) Originally the plan was to travel for one year, until we find some place that we want to settle down for good.  But over the last couple of years of planning we have altered our goals...realizing that maybe we won't be done traveling after a year. Maybe we won't be done for two years...and maybe we might love it so much we hop the pond and do some international travel as well.

Resfeber ~ noun. The restless race of the traveller's heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; wanderlust.

One step at a time.

We saved a certain amount of money, and budgeted it out for a year of travel.  Our plan is to travel slowly, staying at most places for a least few days, but possibly even up to a few weeks if we love it. The purpose of the trip is about slowing down; enjoying our time, connecting with each other and communing with nature. While we have no specific plans or timelines, we will be under a budget...that means hopefully we will be able to boondock at least a third of the time. That also means cooking instead of going out, and trying to stay away from the normal pitfalls of "vacation" spending.  This isn't a vacation, it's our we can't buy fudge, ice cream and post cards from every city we visit.  (However, being donut lovers, we do have a small fund for the nations best donut joints...purely for educational purposes of course!)

If we find that we love travel and want to continue...we will. However, if we find that one amazing place that we want to put down roots again, then we will. There is no plan beyond exploring the world, connecting with each other and learning to LOVE this one life we have.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Leaning in and stepping on FEAR

I love Brene Brown. I would love to meet her and have a chat over coffee about authenticity and vulnerability. I think she'd be wonderfully supportive and a great asset to have around this week. But I don't know Ms. Brown...and all I can say is that this has been one hell of a week!



I have cried more times than I can count...all publicly...and all unabashedly (this is new for me). At one point a friend (whom I had already cried on and hugged publicly earlier in the week) saw me at the grocery store and asked how I was doing, and this was my answer...

"I'm better, good, today, better, ok, today good, ok." 

Thankfully I think she only caught the first part of my odd ramble because I continued to walk and smile...until that moment I thought I was ok, it was right about then that I realized...nope...still not ok. (Thanks Kelly, that's two crazies you got out of me this week!)

We are so excited about this next step in our lives, but we majorly underestimated the physical and emotional toll it was going to take on us. Jon is retiring from his dream career after 23 years, 10 years shy of what he planned on. I am leaving a place I love and people I love. My children are leaving the place that they really know as home. And it's really really hard!

So I'm taking advice from other bloggers out there...the first one come from Be More With Less, and it is Lean Into It. (And I am trying.) Instead of falling into old habits; hiding, closing up and in, getting anxious and taking it out on my loved ones...I am leaning into it. I'm talking about it, I am staying active, I am making sure I see everyone, and I am laughing, crying, talking, hugging...and anything else that will help me through this part of the journey. 

You're gonna have fear anyway, right? Might as well use it to your advantage! This advice comes from Tuesdays with Laurie, and I LOVE it. Yes, step on it. Be afraid, then walk right up on and over the fear. Right now I'm picturing the ramp up to the ferry on Wednesday, instead of steps. Whatever works, right? Every time I begin to panic about what we're doing, I will picture myself walking right up that ferry ramp of fear and doubt.

I still know that what we're doing is right for us. I know it's right for Jon to slow down and be a full time member of our family again. I know that we don't get many chances in life to slow down and focus on happiness, joy, fun, love and family. I know that the biggest regret of my life (maybe the only) would be NOT DOING THIS RIGHT NOW. 

I know in the deepest parts of my body that this is right...
but it's still hard.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Goodbye M/V Wanderlust

I should know better than to write while emotionally drained. (It's kind of like going to the grocery store when you're hungry...except, the exact opposite) After 14 hours of cleaning, moving, and getting the boat ready to ship north, we were literally exhausted. Then this morning we went out to watch the harbormaster crew strap her up and tow her off.


She was our home. The best home I've ever had, and I've had a lot. We will miss her so much, and I think we will always think of her as the home that made us the family that we always wanted to be.

But last night at 10 pm as I was walking across the dock in the rain with my two sobbing kids, I thought to myself "what the hell are we doing?!?!"

Then I remembered three very important things;
1) We're living our best life.
2) Leaving a place you love is hard.
3) Exhaustion is awful, a good night's sleep can put many things right.

The morning came, we watched the boat go, and it was still hard. But we're still here, still standing, and using it as an opportunity to grow together even more.

I know what we're doing is right for us. I know it deep down in places where only right things live; where hope, love, forgiveness and compassion are. still feels hard right now. We have two weeks in the hotel/apartment that is (literally) three times the square footage of our boat. It's nice, having a little space again, but I feel far away from the kids as they are playing upstairs. I can't even hear them...I miss being able to hear them at all times! Thankfully our camper is ready for us, all we have to do is go get her...and once again I will be able to hear my kids play. I think my tiny, wonderful, adorable, cozy houseboat has ruined me for all others. (But don't tell the camper, it will get jealous!)

Goodbye M/V Wanderlust! You will be thought of fondly, toasted well, and remembered forever.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to keep your house clean all the time without even trying

Some companies make lots of money teaching you how to organize your house and your time.  They say that in order to be a happy person you should have a seven-day-a-week plan of attack to keep your house in order.  There is lots of mopping, dusting, laundry (and sweating) to do.  They will sell you a daily, weekly and monthly calendar to track your progress (and judge your failures).

Organized yet?

NO MORE!  In two steps I am going to teach you how to minimize your cleaning time and maximize your leisure time.  And it's FREE!

Ready to revolutionize your household?

Step 1) Take all of your stuff and throw it out.

Step 2) Sit back and enjoy all the free time.

too much stuff?

Ok...obviously I'm joking.

But...not really

There is truth to this. BIG truth. REAL truth.  The more stuff you have, the more time it takes YOU to put it away.  You  have to balance how much stuff you want with how much time you want to spend cleaning it.

I know from experience, not only from having a big house with too much stuff...but also having a tiny house with too much stuff.  If you follow my blog you probably know that I almost NEVER show pictures.

Why you ask?

CAUSE IT'S ALWAYS A MESS! not everyone is ready for this, so I have another idea...which I found out of desperation. I call it garbage bag downsizing. Go into a room and throw everything that is not essential to life in a garbage bag. In particular bag up those items that seem to never have a home, or always end up making cleaning harder. If the item has a home, it's used lots, or it is adored, put it away...otherwise GARBAGE BAG.

Once you're done bagging up the room, take the bags out and put them somewhere where you can't see them. Now go back and tidy up the room as if you were having company.  For the next few weeks, keep it THAT should find that it's easy to keep it clean because there is nothing much to mess it up. (and everything else has a clear home to go back to) When you wake up to the fact that having less stuff is AMAZING. Pull out the bags and one by one go through them. Sort them into piles of keep, maybe and donate. At the end, go back through maybe and place it into keep or donate. If you can easily put your keep pile back into the room, and those things have a home, great, do it. If not, back in the bag! Repeat the process again.

I did this the day of our open house, frankly because I didn't know how else to get it clean in time! It's been nearly two weeks, and it is STILL spotless.  (And when it's not, it takes 10 minutes to clean!) When the stuff is gone, it's almost impossible not to keep clean.  Why didn't I get rid of everything 2 years ago when we moved onto the boat?!?! (The answer is because I get easily overwhelmed and look for distractions to the real things I need to do.)

Be light.

I have never regretted getting rid of anything.  The more I get rid of, the lighter the emotional burden on myself.  Truly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Quitting School...again

My homeschooled daughter surprised me a few weeks ago by begging me to let her go to public school. I didn't love the idea at first, but I listened, and ultimately I let her make the choice. I was surprised to find that many people (friends and family included) seemed shocked that I let her go.

I am a firm believer in doing what is right for yourself, and living your best life. So I'm not sure why it would be surprising that I would let my daughter try and do the same. More importantly, my daughter needs to learn how to trust her own gut instinct, not mine.

Sometimes timing is everything, because this week this list showed up in my Facebook feed, 50 lessons I wish I had learned earlier, printed by Family on Bikes. It's a great list for all walks of life; whether you want to travel full time, send your kid to school, or just find contentedness in where you are. It's about how to live your life smarter, better...and be the version of you that you were meant to be.

"Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go."

This one was number 37, and it resonated a lot with me, especially this week. After bravely entering the 4th grade with her peers, she came home that first afternoon glowing with pride. At first, there were only great days. Which gave way to  good days...which then became ok days. At which point she came to the conclusion that school was simply not all that she thought it would be. She began to see it by the 3rd day, and while she loved the social interaction, it simply wasn't enough to balance the limitations of a traditional classroom.

The lack of freedom was the first thing she recognized as a problem for her. She couldn't sit around and read, crochet, play guitar, talk or even poop when she wanted. (yes, she was really disappointed about the pooping part, she likes to take her time and read) She was always being carted here or there, being told when to sit, when to eat, when to talk, etc. For most of us, we shrug and think...obviously, that's what school is...she needs to learn that lesson. I went to public school all my life...I remember it well. But here's the thing, she is not required to be there. She has a choice. Since she was there by her own choice, she was just as free to choose not to be there. And what she realized is that she would much rather be able to go to the beach, the forest, the library...or stay at home in her loft and read.

Wouldn't you?

The next thing she noticed is that everyone babied them. For a girl who can crochet anything, read anything and cook anything...she was suddenly being treated like a baby who could make no decisions on her own. (I remember hating that too.) My daughter is a very capable girl, and it is offensive and frustrating for her when people treat her otherwise.

I am thankful that my daughter tried this new experience, had some fun with it, and ultimately made her own mind up about it. And I am REALLY glad we have the freedom to allow our kiddos the choice as to whether they want to attend school or not. It makes me sad that other children, even when the circumstances are bad, do not have that same freedom. Freedom, I believe, is the key to happiness in life. And I think it's an important lesson to  learn to let go of those things that are not serving you.  Often in our modern world we equate this with quitting, and tell people they should suck it up, it will make them stronger. But that is simply not true for most things.

If it isn't making you happy, if it doesn't make you a better not be afraid to let it go. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

M/V Wanderlust ready for sale

This is bittersweet.

We finally have the houseboat looking perfect. All the projects are finally done, it's clean and organized...and now it's time to sell it.

These two years have been such an amazing gift for us.  We've learned so much about ourselves, and bonded so much as a family.  I feel like our hearts are in this boat.


It doesn't help that I tore out the entire inside and built it to look exactly the way I wanted.  I built the kitchen cabinet.  I built the pantry.  I built the shelves, and the kids beds.  I even built the doors and the stairs.

I put so much of myself into this place, it's hard to walk away from it.

Don't feel too bad for me.  

We are giving up this one piece of us to live our next big adventure.  I wouldn't trade our travel plans for anything...truly.  But that doesn't mean I won't miss the old girl. Hopefully the M/V Wanderlust will be as treasured by it's next owners as it was by us.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

One last ride...and me without my camera

We have a buyer for our boat, and we needed to take it out for a final ride to make sure everything was in good working order. What a perfect night to take it out. It's like the planets aligned just for us. From across the boat-ramp our sailboat-living friends on the S/V Nadejda were out on their dock, so the kids shouted back and forth to eachother while Jon and I got the boat ready. (Check out their website, they are amazing...9 people on one sailboat!)

The ride was perfect. The water was flat, the sky was full of wondrous colors, and the kids got to take their final turns driving the boat. And I...forgot the camera...again. Forgot-the-camera should be my middle name. Thankfully Jon had the camera on his work phone, which isn't the best quality...but at least I got some pictures. 

Instead of posting those here though, I will post these...3 years of memories on our little boat.

Three years ago we bought this boat and took it out for it's first cruise, having no idea that our future life would hold early retirement and full time travel. Three years later as we took it out for it's last spin around Pennock Island so many things have changed...but not the beauty of Southeast Alaska. 

On the ride home as the sun was shining it's last rays over the mountains there was the biggest rainbow we've ever seen, and by the time we got home the skies above the docks were a gorgeous flaming orange and pink.

It was a truly amazing night. 

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