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Balancing travel and “fixed” life

I’ve taken time off from the blog to concentrate on other things this week, including family and personal obligations. We’ve been doing the low-key things that comprised our life before we became wanderers: casual dinners with family and friends, attending a charity event, walking down the road with the dog, decorating the Christmas tree, seeing a movie.

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Dinner with Christine

Since we aren’t having fabulous Airstreaming adventures, my attention has gone to the more subtle aspects of this full-timing lifestyle. Although taking off in a travel trailer is popularly viewed as the adult equivalent of running away with the circus, in reality we are as connected to our home base as we ever were. We haven’t fled our obligations, we’ve only relocated them.

This week, for example, we had our dentist appointments. A mundane thing, until you consider that for us dental and primary medical care are usually hundreds or thousands of miles away. I found that while I’d been away my regular dentist had retired and his practice had been taken over by a much younger guy, the very affable Dr Congelton. I also discovered I’d lost a small filling, but there’s no time to get it replaced before we fly back to Tampa. Fortunately, the doc and his staff were enthusiastic about our trip and happy to offer advice on the best way to deal with the situation.

This is the sort of cooperation that makes the trip work. Behind the scenes there is our support network: a Postmistress who handles our mail forwarding via email; a dentist and doctor who help us figure out how to maintain our health with no fixed address; a tax guy; friends who store our “spare” Airstreams, and other friends who provide logistical and emotional support; the storage unit; and the all-important family who give us a place to come back to. You can’t really run away with the circus and leave all your obligations behind without also losing important things, but you can pretend.

We’ve also been lucky. Sure, the hard drive/ GPS/ cell phone failed, a wheel came off, and Eleanor had a vicious five-day migraine, etc., but ““ at the risk of sounding like an old fart ““ we’ve still got our health. Emma’s doing great. We’re all still happy. I don’t worry about where my next meal is coming from (although it won’t be the Grand Degustation at Charlie Trotter’s), and considering that a large percentage of this world still does, that’s something to be thankful for. When things look gloomy, I try to remember that.

Coming back from Vermont we will mentally start another leg of our travels, this time traveling slowly across the south toward California. We have huge plans, including visiting many friends, looking for property in the southwest, attending several events, and working hard to grow the magazine. Most important will be a careful exploration of small towns that we might want to settle in next winter. Our list of places to check includes towns such as Fredericksburg, Marfa, and Ft Davis TX, Silver City NM, and Ojai CA.

We’ve already been doing this for a while, in the background. We’ve scoped out Eureka, Julian, Borrego Springs and Nevada City in CA. Also, Alamagordo NM, Patagonia, Sedona, and Bisbee AZ, St George UT, Boulder City NV, and dozens of others. Some we can quickly identify as not for us based on real estate prices or lack of local culture, and others (like Nevada City and Silver City) deserve a second look.

Eventually the trip will bring us to a culmination where we find a second home base for winters, and gradually we’ll settle into a “working snowbird” existence. But the extended trips in the Airstream will never end, I hope. This experience has brought too much value (friends, learning, personal growth) to our lives to put it behind us. The quiet weeks like this one remind me that we need to find a way to balance the opportunities of travel with the values of a fixed location.

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