When we decided to become location independent, we had a lot of talks about where we would go once we hit the road. It is almost too easy to make a giant list of places to see and a plan to check them off as soon as possible. But then we realized that this isn’t a vacation. This is our new lifestyle. After years of rushing around on short trips, we would finally have time to REALLY see and enjoy the places we visit. It would be a waste not to take advantage of that. So, we decided to embrace the idea of slow travel.
For us, this meant spending a few days or a week in a place we would usually only stop for a day. It would mean slowing wayyyy down and spending more quality time together. This sounds lovely, right? But if you’ve ever been struck with wanderlust you know this is easier said than done. So, we did the only logical thing: A fast-travel detox.
We decided to stay in Texas for a few weeks after getting our RV because it made sense to stay near the dealership in case anything needed to be fixed. (Which is pretty inevitable in a brand-new RV). And we decided it would be a good opportunity to practice this idea of exploring one area really deeply. Granted we had already lived in Texas with Buddy’s sister for two months while looking for our RV. So this meant silencing that inner-voice that was screaming at us to go ANYWHERE else.
As a compromise, we decided to find a scenic spot in the Texas Hill Country. This was far enough away from the San Antonio area that we had been living in to give us a feeling of novelty. But close enough to still get to see our family regularly. Luckily, we stumbled upon By the River RV Park. Located right on the Guadalupe River near our dealership in Kerrville, it was the perfect home-base for our first week.
Beautiful? Yes! Exciting stuff happening at every moment? No. We truly loved this RV Park. There was a long trail to walk along and it was near some great Texas Hill Country places. However, after doing an initial walk around the property, I felt kind of bored. It just seemed anti-climactic.
Here we were, FINALLY living our much-anticipated life as full-time RVers, and we were still in Texas doing nothing particularly interesting. I wondered if this slow travel thing was a good idea. Maybe it just wasn’t for us.
But we had already paid for our week at the park. Plus, Buddy still had to work a 9-5 for a few more weeks. We couldn’t really go exploring all day anyway. We would just make the best of it for now. I spent the entire first day organizing our RV. I’d at least be productive during what I considered “down time.”
Then the next morning we awoke to birds singing. And when we looked out our window there was a river just a few feet behind us and a mini-island named “Turtle Point”. It was framed by bright green trees and dotted with turtles. And when we went for a walk that morning I felt happy. All-of-a-sudden, I wasn’t bored. I was content. There didn’t need to be a grand adventure. We had a million little things to enjoy.
Thankfully, I realized quickly that there was never anything lacking here. I just had to re-adjust my thinking.
Enjoying the Little Things
Throughout the week, we went on about two dozen walks. We held hands and talked about our new life, our dreams and our disappointments. It allowed us to reconnect on a level we hadn’t experienced in a long time.
We worked, ate and relaxed outside – trying to soak up every minute of the wonderful weather we were blessed with. The writer’s block I had experienced due to the stress of our big life transition was replaced with an insatiable desire to put pen to paper. And our mental chaos was replaced with an overwhelming peace. Not for every second – life still goes on, after all. But for the majority of our time there.
From our picnic table we got to see an entire world. We watched spiders weave webs in the trees above us. There were dozens of fish, turtles and water snakes going about their separate lives in the river below us. A duck couple brought us endless smiles as they waddled around aimlessly up and down the hill behind our rig. We laughed as our neighbors’ dogs splashed around in the river as the owner yelled “No, no no… get back here!”
It confirmed what we already knew. We didn’t need much to feel alive or to be happy. Just some fresh air, quality time together and simple blessings would do the trick.
Our Favorite Moments
The week went by quickly after we really started to embrace it. Too quickly now that we can look back on it. Even a few weeks later it is seeming like more of a blur. But there are a few moments that stand out as special. They are ones that we could have easily missed out on if we had been on a more rushed trip. But, luckily we gave ourselves the time to enjoy them and they have been added to a long list of moments we will cherish.
Remembering What Matters
During one afternoon walk we stopped by a small stream. Buddy picked up a rock and perfectly skipped it. “Teach me!” I said eagerly. He then spent about 30 minutes trying (and failing) to teach me how to skip a rock. We picked out a few that were the perfect shape and texture. The first one I threw at the perfect angle – right into another rock. We jumped as it flew back at us. Then the next couple made disappointing “plunk” noises as they fell directly to the bottom of the stream. Finally I got one to skip a little and we called it good. It didn’t matter that I sucked at it. What mattered was the laughter, the opportunity to bond and that we had the freedom to spend so long trying.
Another favorite moment was actually spent apart. We had looked up during our nightly walk to see a moon-less sky filled with stars. Buddy had to capture it, so I encouraged him to go out and take some night shots. His eyes twinkled like the sky as he gathered his equipment. I know he often feels rushed if I’m with him, so I let him do his thing alone. And I eagerly waited in our RV to see the artwork he was creating.
After more than an hour of finding different angles and playing with settings, he came back with some gorgeous shots. Having time to pursue this passion of his is what propelled this life. Although he still had to push through another few weeks in Corporate America, getting a glimpse of what life will be like when he is officially a full-time photographer was invigorating for both of us.
Our last night was one of the most special. It was our first introduction to the kindness of strangers on the road. After returning to our RV after running some errands one night, our neighbors that had just pulled up earlier were outside having a meal with friends. They were just wrapping up as we got home and they invited us to sit down with them. They shared their wonderful wine and left-over food with us as we chatted the night away. We talked about our favorite places, funny stories and our dreams for life on the road. There were a few decades between us in age, but our hearts were the same and our experiences were oddly similar.
It filled us with so much joy to imagine how many people like that we will have the opportunity to meet. And it made us re-think what a stranger really was. It didn’t seem to take more than a few minutes to see them as friends. Although we may never see them again, it is nice to know they are out there somewhere having a glass of wine and laughing the night away.
What We Learned
The “fear of missing out” is a strange phenomenon created by social media and an almost competitive need to always be doing something awesome. The problem is that constantly searching for the next exciting activity or destination actually makes you miss out on way more than you realize. We have come to terms with the fact that we will never see all the beautiful places in the world that we want to. We will likely never even see all the places in America that we want to. Some of the experiences we want to have before we die will probably never happen and we are okay with that. Of course, we are going to still pursue them. But it is the journey that we crave, even more than the thrill of reaching our goal.
By rushing to see all that we can, we have missed out on so many opportunities to experience the path there. In this next chapter we don’t want to do that. We want the opportunity to be spontaneous and the freedom to follow our whims. Most of all, we don’t want to miss out on time with each other, finding new friends, pursuing our passions and experiencing unexpected beauty.
When we started discussing a life of full-time RVing we listed our can’t-miss spots. And although we are still excited to see them, we have this feeling they will pale in comparison to those special, unexpected moments we will find along the way. Moments that will only be possible by taking our time- the time we fought so hard to re-claim. What a shame it would be to waste it.