When we realized we had to go back to Cincinnati to tie up some loose ends, it was a bit of a big deal for awhile. Taking a trip like that is expensive. It could have been done cheaper if I had gone myself, especially if I flew. Though, we Richmond’s like to stick together. We decided to make it a road trip. We’d make it fun!
We left bright and early last Thursday morning and stopped in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We have wanted to go there for years, but it never worked out before. We only had a few hours to spend, so I made a list of what we needed to see and do. First, we went to the historic bathhouse row and toured the historic bathhouse/ visitor center Fordyce Bathhouse. From there we went to the Grande Promenade and into the national park. On our way back around to the car we stopped in the gift shop at the Lamar Bathhouse and went into some other little stores and snack shops.
After we were back in the car, we drove over to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. We rode the elevator up and got to see the beautiful view of the Hot Springs National Park and the Ouachita Mountains from the top.
Our last stop was to Arlington Lawn Park. We heard it was a great place to dip your feet in at one of the springs. That didn’t happen though. The water was so hot, you could hardly bear to touch it! On our way out of the springs, we filled a few gallon jugs with water to take with us.
We drove late into the night, only stopping for a few hours. We were in and out of Cincinnati very quickly. The errands we had didn’t take long.
We stayed the next night in a classy hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. It was wonderful and we enjoyed every minute of it! It was good to be out of the car and relax.
Saturday morning we headed towards Johnsons Shut Ins state park in Missouri. I found it from a list I have bookmarked of the most beautiful place in every state. It’s a riverbed that forms all sorts of beautiful swimming and wading pools. We had a great time there. It was definitely all of the great things we had read. We made tentative plans to spend a full day out there before hubby’s next assignment.
Another awesome whirlwind road trip to add to our list. It was busy, rushed, fun, exciting, adventurous and educational. I’m grateful for a family who enjoys being packed together in the car for a long time, kids who love road trips, and a marriage that thrives in so much chaos and all these new adventures.
We never imagined all the unique opportunities we’d come across on our adventures. The past few weeks have truly been a whirlwind of experiences and excitement. When we were looking on line at the different area campgrounds and came across the alpaca farm, it was undoubtedly something we needed to check out.
The alpaca farm was beautiful. You could always see them roaming and grazing in the big, open fields. It had a quaint, friendly, rustic feel to it. Everyone we came across was very welcoming.
We all got the chance to feed the alpacas. The kids enjoyed giving them grain from their hand. Also, while we were there, a baby alpaca was born. We got to share in a bit of the excitement and admire the little animal when it was only a few days old.
Unfortunately, our time there wasn’t entirely carefree. After our picnic dinner one evening, I slipped on the steps to the RV and landed pretty hard. Luckily, the local ER could mend my injured leg and face and get me back on my way pretty quickly. A significant part of the next couple weeks would be spent inside, letting myself heal. Even though we were stuck indoors a bit, it was nice to have the “alpaca view” out our living room window!
Toward the end of our stay at the alpaca farm, we got to celebrate some birthdays! Our rambunctious Brady turned 3 and our baby Claire turned 1. We had a sweet little celebration picnic with cupcakes and gifts!
We always let the kids choose a place they’d like to go to celebrate for their birthday. This year, Brady chose Lego Land! It made a very, very fun day for the kids! They loved the rides, the play places, the creativity, and especially the 4D movie we got to see. Needless to say, everyone slept well that night!
I’m happy to say that, even though if not as quickly as I’d like, I’m recovering well. I am certainly not one to let a little injury keep me down for long. It is after all, a permanent vacation, and we intend to enjoy every day of it!
Last week was our one month nomad-iversary! What a whirlwind of a month it’s been! We’ve learned so much about RVing. We’ve seen part of the country that we’ve never seen before. We’ve done more activities than we usually do in a whole season.
The first campground we stayed at, on Lake Texoma, was a blast! We got to enjoy their playground, putt-putt course, swimming pool, volleyball court and hiking trails. We frequented their exchange library and enjoyed eating in their weekend café.
The best part of all of it was the friendships. We’ve already met a handful of families with kids. There were a couple weekends when the kids would go out to play shortly after they got up and only stop for lunch, playing with their new friends all day. This has been different for us as we had been accustomed to only getting together with friends over scheduled play dates. We are learning to relax, slow down and live in the moment.
We’ve gone to a local zoo and fed a giraffe! We’ve played at a local playground, which was amazing as they had it set up to look like a carnival. We’ve hiked at the nearby wildlife refuge. We got to meet up with my dad for breakfast when he was passing through.
We went up to Oklahoma City for a day. While we were there, we visited the botanical gardens, the memorial, the local dining and the river walk. We were pretty impressed with the city. Even though the trip was short, it was very fun.
What makes it even better, is that we’ve only just begun. We have lots more adventures to go on and lots more to see and do. We get to do it all as a family, trekking the journey together.
Ed took his first traveling job outside of Cincinnati, commuting from our stick and brick rental home. Really, we count Cincinnati as the first of our travels. That was where we bought the RV and prepared for traveling. Texas was our first traveling destination.
We intend to chase the weather, so the timing is a bit unfortunate that we’ll be in Texas from mid April through mid July, but it needed to be that way. We wanted to establish residency here for a number of reasons. Heading here first just made the most sense.
Texas is one of the 3 states where you can join the RVers club, Escapees. Escapees is a club that will give you a domicile address, a mail forwarding service, and other recommendations for RV living. They have locations in Texas, South Dakota and Florida. Texas was easily our choice.
Texas is a nursing compact state. With a compact nursing license, an RN is licensed in 20-some different states. With how expensive it is to transfer a license and what a lengthy process it can be, the compact license is nice.
Texas doesn’t have homeschool regulations. In Texas, you don’t need to notify your intent to homeschool or submit evaluations, tests or attendance at the end of the year. We will certainly continue the education we had in Ohio, but without the hassle of time schedules and of finding and paying an evaluator.
The downfall of having Texas as a domicile state is that they require annual vehicle inspections. It may be inconvenient to come through each year to get our tow vehicle and travel trailer inspected. Also, it will add to our expenses. Regardless, we still felt that Texas was the best state to establish ourselves in.
“Everything’s bigger in Texas!” That’s what we’ve heard. It’s so true! Big skies, big ranch houses, big parks, big everything! Staying in northeast Texas is very lush and green and we know that there’s so much more to explore. If we travel down this way again, we’ll make it a point to go down south or out west. Texas has far too much to see or do in just 3 months!
We did it! We bought a travel trailer! Our first home! It’ll be perfect for our family. It has a big bedroom for Ed and I and a bunkhouse in the back, for the kids. It has two slideouts, one in the living room and one in the bunkhouse, giving us lots of room to live and play. We’ll outfit it and make it our own. We’re stoked for this new journey and adventure in life and now it’s getting so real!
The plan is to hit the road in mid-April. Our work is cut out for us. Before then, we need to finish minimizing our stuff, going through it and getting rid of it, figuring out what stuff we’ll keep in storage and what we’ll sell. We’ll be having another sale this spring to sell our furniture and the rest of our things that we won’t have room for. Besides that, getting our new home move in ready!
The trailer won’t need much. We need to put rails in on the top bunks so the kids don’t fall out. We’re also going to put curtains on them for some privacy. Ed is planning on putting a shelf up for each child to give them more space for their things. We’ll figure out tanks and hoses, water and filters, washer/dryer combos, locks and equipment. My job, the most fun of all, will be shopping and making it a home.
After we took some measurements, we went to IKEA. We found the best options to maximize our limited space. They have some really nice carts and tables and storage ideas. I’m not sure where, but Ed found a desk that attaches to the wall and folds open. We’ll need new sheets for the single beds and a new curtain for a small shower. We’ll find all the little finishing touches to put in our own flair and make it OURS!
In less then a month we’ll be on the road. It’s hard to believe it. Life with a family of seven is an experience in itself, and now we’re about to take it to a new level of fun and excitement.
One of the biggest challenges we faced when we made the decision to full time RV was to minimize our stuff. We had our three bedroom house and the basement filled to the gills with stuff. All kinds of stuff a big family needs like games, toys, books, furniture, kitchen appliances, lots of décor, homeschooling supplies, clothes, storage, etc., etc., etc. Cutting all this down to fit into a travel trailer was quite the job.
I hung on to everything. I was a hoarder. Ed would gladly back this up with stories upon stories of how I have kept everything I had ever owned. We had so many totes and boxes in the basement that I didn’t even know what all was down there. Getting rid of so much would go against all that I had ever known.
We started getting rid of stuff in phases. The first time around, I tried to cut everything down by half. Instead of four totes of linens and curtains we don’t use, I could get rid of half and make it two totes. This worked for me. We planned a huge yard sale. I got rid of about seventy-five boxes of stuff.
The yard sale was so much fun. I had never had one before, so it was a new experience. Whatever didn’t sell, we gave away for free. The small amount that nobody took, we donated to a local charity. Most everything, we sold for a painfully low price. Still, we came out with over $300 dollars from just the weekend.
After that, we went through everything again. This time, we realistically looked at everything and got rid of whatever we didn’t use or didn’t need. We made several trips, lugging stuff to charity. We got rid of another thirty plus totes and boxes.
We’re planning one more sale this spring. Here, we’ll sell our furniture and appliances and some of the nicer stuff we hung onto in hopes of making a little bit of money from. Whatever doesn’t sell, we’ll donate. If it doesn’t fit in our RV or a 5x5 storage space, we can’t keep it.
Really, I’m glad we got rid of so much. We don’t miss it and probably never will. Downsizing our stuff to upsize our lives! Let the fun begin!
When talking about our plans to travel, people often ask us, “What made you decide to do this?” It’s a big move, going against the grain, doing something different than we’ve ever known. Making such a drastic, total lifestyle change causes people to wonder.
Really, it came about rather slowly. A good friend of ours from years ago got a job as a travel physical therapist. She knew that we liked to travel and vacation and didn’t have anything to hold us back, so she suggested that Ed find a job as a traveling nurse. We discussed it, but decided against it. It was too extreme. We didn’t know much about traveling jobs. Taking a new job every three months would be too difficult. It all seemed so foreign and confusing.
Fast forward several months, probably close to a year. While on the job, Ed met a travel nurse recruiter. She could answer all of our questions. What had seemed so far fetched and unrealistic now seemed possible, doable and adventurous!
We had many long discussions about the idea and all the logistics that went along with it. The more we talked, the better it sounded. It would be crazy and different. We would get to do something that not many other people could really do. We could maximize our income and minimize our spending. We could grow in our connection with God and each other.
The decision to sell everything we own and move our big family of seven into an RV wasn’t one we could make lightly. Going from a three bedroom house with a basement into a thirty foot travel trailer where we needed to carefully pick out only our favorite items and necessities is quite a jump. We decided to do it! It would be the adventure of a lifetime!
Minimizing, simplifying, learning, following through becomes our way of life. In a few short months, we’ll be on the road. We developed a new attitude and a new goal, “Let’s make this happen!”