About a year ago, we made the big decision to start looking into a life of full-time RV travel. Although we loved where we lived in Colorado (strategically placed between Denver and Boulder), the inflated housing costs made staying there impossible with the tight budget we would be on with our new life as digital nomads. But, it will always be home in our hearts. And, since moving from Colorado, we can’t help but notice how rare it is to find other areas with as much to offer. Although, we try not to compare new destinations with our beloved Colorado (since everywhere does have something special to offer), we just can’t help but ask ourselves these same questions almost everywhere we go.
1. Why is it so difficult to find a pretty trail nearby?
No matter where we lived or worked in Colorado, there was always a trail nearby. Even in the city, it wasn’t hard to find a place to take in those gorgeous Rocky Mountain views. From our last apartment, we could hop on a trail and ride our bikes all the way to the foothills of the mountains. That’s about 15 miles of paved or well-maintained dirt trails!
From my old job, I was a 5-minute drive to countless trails. Lunch breaks were spent exploring all of them – from creek-side paths to farms with wide-open vistas.
Last summer, a co-worker and I even met up early so we could hike to the top of a small mountain in Boulder, CO, before going into work. And it wasn’t uncommon for Buddy and I to go for a stroll after work or to meet up with friends for an afternoon hike.
This is just what people do in Colorado. Even in the winter, you will see people out and about. Because they just love the outdoors! And Colorado does a fantastic job to promote this type of recreation by having such an extensive trail system, as well as countless open spaces that are not allowed to be built on.
Granted, plenty of other states do have beautiful outdoor spaces to offer. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of them! But, we are yet to see the same amount of trails and parks in residential areas and cities. We have to search out RV parks and campgrounds with trail access and sometimes we just have to settle for ones without, which is a huge bummer. I guess we just got really spoiled in Colorado.
2. Where are all of the recycling bins?
This. This drives me insane. Before we moved to Colorado, we never recycled. (Please feel free to gasp in horror). But after we got there, we were basically bullied into it and are so thankful we were. After a co-worker of Buddy’s made a comment about his use of plastic water bottles, we realized the error of our ways and bought reusable ones. And once we were told our apartments had a recycling program, we happily started separating our garbage. It was surprisingly easy.
I know this is common for most people, but it was a huge step up for us. Although, we knew to cut the tops of beer holders to save the turtles, we had never been forced to think about the importance of recycling while growing up in Florida. We would recycle at the mall or Disney if a bin was available, but this was never an option in any of the apartments we lived at. But, once we started recycling, it was sickening to know how much we had just been throwing away that could have been getting reused.
So, imagine our horror when we end up in areas that don’t have any recycling programs. We do our best to hoard it as long as possible, in hopes that we will find a place. But this RV is only so big, and sometimes we end up tossing it. Ugh! I hate even admitting that. Yes, we could go more out of our way to recycle, and we often try to. But, it is also very frustrating that this isn’t more of a country-wide concern.
3. Wouldn’t this place be better with some mountains?
There are two types of people in this world, people who love mountains and people who are confused. Sure, the ocean is pretty, but it only offers so much – and you can only enjoy it when you are nearby. The mountains are a spiritual refuge, a playground, a challenge, a reminder of how small you are, and even a way to tell direction. (When we lived in Colorado, I always knew the mountains were west of where we lived – which was surprisingly helpful). And most of those benefits can be enjoyed from miles away.
I didn’t realize how badly I missed the mountains, until we took a trip to New Mexico after living in Texas for three months. As soon as we saw the mountains, something familiar filled my heart and I cried tears of pure joy. I swear, there is just something magical about mountains.
And argue if you will, but I’ve never seen a sunset more beautiful than the ones that dipped behind those jagged mountain peaks in Colorado. There were more than a few times that I pulled off the road just to enjoy the colorful show.
4. Why can’t I find any health food stores?
While living in Colorado, I decided to stop eating meat and dairy. And it was SO EASY because there were dozens of stores that offered plenty of fresh plant-based foods to accommodate my new diet. In spite of my constant wishing, this isn’t always the case in other places we’ve visited – especially small towns.
I got so spoiled by being able to find things like jackfruit and seitan and dairy-free cheese whenever I wanted it. And there were dozens of restaurants that accommodated vegetarian and vegan diets, so it was never a struggle to go out to eat.
Granted, we save a ton of money by not passing by any Native Foods and rarely seeing Trader Joe’s. But, it is a bummer to have to struggle so much to find food I can eat in certain areas of the country. Again, Colorado spoiled us!
5. Where is the snow? It is almost Christmas!
This one may be the hardest for us. Unless it happens to snow in Florida, this will be our first time in five years that we haven’t had snow around Christmastime. I have gotten so used to that fluffy white stuff being a sign of my favorite time of year, that I haven’t even thought about decorating or drinking my favorite holiday drink yet (Gluhwein).
Being cold without getting to see everything dusted with snow is just a bummer. Each year I cried with happiness at the first snow, because this Florida girl was always so excited for the change in season. I’d sit in my car just watching the unique snowflakes land on my windshield and smile at what a special blessing winter was.
Each year on Christmas, we even had a tradition of going snowshoeing on one of our favorite trails. And it was always a highlight of our year. We just loved the snow that much!
However, I’ll admit driving in snow and ice can be very scary. An RV also doesn’t hold heat as well as a traditional home. So, we are passing on a white Christmas this year – as most other RVers will. But, that won’t stop us from reminiscing on the magic of years past. And we are hoping to work up the courage to stay somewhere with snow in the future – we’ll just need a lot of heaters!
6. How soon can we go back?
All sarcasm aside, we feel very blessed to have been able to see all of the amazing places we have in the past couple of months. The U.S. and Canada offer beautiful views, amazing hikes, and some delicious local dishes. (Did you know putting french fries on salad is a thing in Pennsylvania?). And we look forward to many more adventures across North America. But, we do miss Colorado pretty regularly. It is just a really special place with a lot of our favorite people. And, although there are hundreds of new places we could take our RV, we both can’t help but want to go back there for a visit as soon as possible.
We still can’t afford to live there full-time and wouldn’t want to now that the word has gotten out about how fantastic it is (read: busier than Disney on a weekend). But, we are looking forward to spending summer 2018 soaking up the perfect Colorado weather, recycling all the things, hiking our butts off, and eating all of the organic, non-GMO, kissed-by-angels food we can get our hands on. And maybe we can even find some snow to play in while we are there!