What an incredible year it’s been, especially over the past nine months. Our decision to go full-time in our RV occurred much earlier this year but our journey started in April. Since it seems to be a tradition to put together a Top 10 list at the end of the year, I thought I would give it my best shot and try to sum up 2016 for the Eccentric Nomads.
10. Taking a leap of faith
It’s one thing to talk about selling your home and most of your possessions. Actually carrying it out is something that requires full commitment. When we put the house up for sale and the next day received numerous offers from buyers, we knew we were in 100%. Our 2,100-square foot home would soon be a memory and our fifth wheel with less than 400 square feet would be our new home. We closed on the sale quickly and never looked back.
9. Oh the weather outside is…pretty darn good
Fortunately, we’ve tried to stay in comfortable climates throughout our travels but we’ve been able to experience some interesting weather extremes. They include dense fog in the Arizona desert, heavy rains and strong winds in Texas, excessive heat almost everywhere, spectacular rainbows, and freezing temperatures. We’ve also taken day trips to see snow, since we’d rather travel to see it than have it fall where we’re staying. As Dan has said many times since we’ve been on the road in the RV, ‘I want to go into the local hardware store, ask them if they carry snow shovels, and when they don’t even know what they are, we’ll know we’re in the right place’.
8. Limited space = limited souvenirs
One lesson we’ve learned since selling almost everything is we really don’t want a bunch of stuff. That said, we did decide we should have something besides photos to remember places by, so we’ve collected numerous magnets from attractions that we add to the refrigerator. Other things we’ve purchased came from states we’ve visited including a cigar store Indian made by a Native American in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an authentic Native American dream catcher we picked up in Williams, Arizona along with a paper mache faerie on a swing. And since we sold almost all of our Christmas decorations and the rest are in a small storage unit in Texas, we bought a ceramic nativity scene in Terlingua, Texas. Not sure what else we’ll collect along the way but we do know whatever it is, it will need to be small.
7. Starry, starry nights and moon shadows
I started shooting photography five years ago, and knew nothing about using a DSLR camera. I’m still learning every day with my Nikon cameras. I’ve had a particularly great time figuring out night shots and we’ve stayed at many parks with dark skies and incredible stars. I’d never seen the Milky Way until we started traveling in the RV and we’ve seen it in several places including Santa Fe, NM, and Coldspring, Bandera, and Fredericksburg, TX.
6. Capturing incredible sunrises and sunsets
While the night skies have been fantastic, the sunrises and sunsets provided God moments everywhere we went. Check out just a few I’ve included below.
5. All creatures great and small
So many animals crossed our paths, sometimes literally, like the bobcat in Fort McDowell, AZ, or the black sheep with a flock of white sheep that crossed in front of our truck in Williams, AZ. Symbolic? Possibly. Of course, Dan was more excited about the rattle snake he saw in the middle of the road in Fort Davis, TX. In fact, he was excited enough that he backed up so he could take a photo of it. I stayed where I was as I’d learned a little about rattle snakes the year prior in Sweetwater, TX, where a rattle snake wrangler shared how quickly the snakes could move. The rattle snake wasn’t our only encounter with a snake in Fort Davis. While I was stalking a road runner on a hike, I captured it on my camera as it caught a small snake and beat it against a rock. Dinner anyone?
4. Enjoying culinary delights
When I first talked about traveling in the RV with a friend who had done the same thing years ago, I told her I was planning on losing weight. She wished me the best but cautioned that it didn’t happen with her. Guess what? It didn’t happen with me either. We’ve done a lot of cooking in the RV but we’ve also enjoyed an outstanding culinary adventure. From the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market to steak at the Big Texan (no, not the BIG steak), we’ve both learned this country is not lacking for wonderful restaurants. Dan has had his share of Indian fry bread and I’ve had a variety of pancakes, including one in Wickenburg, AZ, that was bigger than my head.
3. Having our four-legged companions with us
No journey would have been nearly as enjoyable if we couldn’t have our two dogs, Hannah and Sadie, with us. We had no idea how they would like the traveling but they seem to love it. Visits to the dog parks have brought joy to them as they make new friends, sniff new behinds, and play until they can go no more. But their favorite time of day is after I’ve made homemade buttermilk biscuits for breakfast and the buzzer goes off to let them know they’re done.
2. Oh, the places we’ve been
While we’ve only visited four states so far, we’ve seen so much. Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas all provided us with wonderful adventures. Some items were checked off our bucket list. Visit the Grand Canyon – check. See the Petrified Forest – check. View the Milky Way – check. So many of the more than 200 places we visited we’d never known about, but certainly would include many on our bucket list.
1. Spending time with each other, catching up with family and friends, and collecting memories to last a lifetime
While all of the items above made the Top 10 list, nothing tops sharing these adventures with your best friend who you’ve been with for 18 years. Along the way, we’ve spent time with all of our children and grandchildren, caught up with good friends, and reconnected with a number of family members. Dan even had the opportunity to play Santa Claus for the family.
All in all, it’s been a wonderful 2016. We’ve lived simply and loved life, as we said we would as Eccentric Nomads. As we close out the new year, we wish all of you a Happy, Prosperous, and Safe New Year. May your dreams become realities. May you choose to live simply. And may you always love life. Safe travels!