I haven’t written a blog post in almost three months, as we’ve been cRaZy busy. But since we are quickly approaching the 18 month mark of this journey, which will occur on the 18th day of August, I figured I was past due for some reflecting on life in our Reflection. (Pun intended.)
I do want to make sure you all know that I made a new Facebook page for Wheels and Sails and that is another reason for my less frequent blogging. I find it much easier and faster to post pictures there instead of saving them until I try to find time to update my blog. To that end, although I fully plan on continuing to write my blog, I don’t foresee writing it as frequently as I did our first year. We are simply too busy living, working, homeschooling, playing, and exploring new areas, for me to blog as often as I did when we started out. To that end, please continue following our blog AND follow us on Facebook by clicking here: Wheels and Sails Facebook Page. Make sure you both “Like” and “Follow” our page, and furthermore go into the settings by clicking on the little ∇ button on the “Follow” tab to set the notifications of our updates as you so desire.
I last left you with pictures from beautiful Bryce Canyon in Utah. After spending three uplifting weeks in Utah, we spent three idyllic weeks in Idaho as we continued to make our way up to our summer destination being the pacific northwest. For June and half of July we spent six outstanding weeks in Oregon; three in Bend and then three on the coast in the Seaside area. Absolutely gorgeous! Next we headed up to the wonderful state of Washington where we are spending the remainder of our summer. By the time we leave this state, we will have spent a total of eight weeks here. We were in the Silver Creek area first, which is about two hours south of Seattle, we are now in the San Juan area for three weeks, after which we head to the Spokane area for our final two weeks in Washington. We are then super excited to be heading to Yellowstone in September, but I’ll leave that for a future blog.
Since I last wrote, we have been not only to the areas I mentioned above, but also to: Ketchum, Sun Valley, Bruneau Dunes State Park, Ernest Hemingway’s gravesite, Hemingway Memorial, Shoshone Falls, Crater Lake, Mount Bachelor, Deschutes National Forest, Benham Falls, Lava River Cave (spelunking!), Tumalo Falls, Pilot Butte State Park, Sunriver, we drove the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (and visited many lakes along the byway), Cannon Beach (Haystack rock!), Astoria (where The Goonies movie was filmed), Ecola State Park, Mount Hood, Fort Clatsop, Long Beach, Hood River & Columbia Gorge, we crossed the Bridge of the Gods, Tillamook Trail, Seaside Aquarium, Cape Disappointment & Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Pirate’s Cove, Rockaway Beach, Portland, Columbia River Maritime Museum (and was able to board and explore the lightship Columbia), Tillamook Cheese Factory, Fort Steven’s State Park, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Silver Lake, Olympia (and capitol building), Hoodsport, Hood Canal, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier, Seattle, Anacortes, and we had our first ever beach bonfire on coast of Oregon. These are listed in no particular order as I try to rack my memory, so hopefully I haven’t forgotten much. I’ll post some highlight pictures below, but if you want to see all of our awesome pictures, go to the Wheels and Sails Facebook page that I linked above.
So far we’ve had an amazing summer here with the best summer weather one can ask for. Greg has been looking the most forward to the exploring the pacific northwest area more in detail and he has not been disappointed. I honestly think he would live here full time if not for me and my lack of tolerance for cold temperatures. The highlight of our summer so far was when Elijah’s friend, Ian, flew out to Portland while we were at Seaside for a two week visit. The boys got along perfectly and truly seemed to have a blast during his visit. It was overdue for Elijah to be able to spend some extended time with a friend face-to-face as opposed to only on the phone and online. Ian took to everything about our lifestyle like a duck to water. I do believe I see full-timing in his future, or tiny living at the very least. Not long after Ian flew back home, we had a Scenery Swap day and then Greg flew out of Seattle back east as well to visit our grown kids and grand-kids. That was another overdue visit that he enjoyed immensely. As you can see… we have definitely been a bit busy lately! This should help you understand a bit better why I haven’t written in so long!
As I alluded to in the title, all three of us (four if you count Popeye) really seemed to have found our groove in this lifestyle. The newness and stress of all the unknowns lingering constantly in the back of our heads like “where are we going to stay next” and “what if we can’t find a campground to stay in” and “what if we blow a tire” and “what if something major happens to our 5th wheel” and “what if we don’t have cell service for Greg to be able to work” and on and on and on… are no longer nagging at us. Not that these are never potential issues, but we realize from experience that God always has our backs and none of these are unsolvable problems. Also, our Thousand Trails membership coupled with our RPI membership has made a huge difference in the ease, planning, and cost associated with finding and booking campgrounds. I can’t imagine full timing without it! As of now, we are booked up until mid December. We can change whatever we want, whenever we want, but it sure does help my stress levels to be booked out in advance and know where we will be when and to simply not have to worry about it.
Honestly, I don’t think any of us realized how much stress these unknowns were adding to each of us in different ways until they started slowly disappearing as we have become more and more comfortable with this lifestyle. It’s like we were holding our breath in a sense and didn’t realize how much so until we slowly but surely began to breathe easily again. I guess the big difference now is these unknowns are no longer scary, stressful unknowns. We’ve now gone through enough to know that although we still never truly know what tomorrow will bring (who does?), we do know for an absolute fact who holds tomorrow. We have experienced and lived the reality that we truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! It’s not that “we’ve got this” so much as “He’s got this” and he’s proven Himself time and again to be so very faithful to us throughout this entire journey. So we have (or speaking for myself, I sure have) grown in our trust and faith in Him. He’s got this.
We are definitely more busy in this lifestyle than we were before we left, but it’s a different kind of busy. We are not only doing everything that we were doing on a daily basis before we left on this journey, but we have added onto that our perpetual quest to see and do as much as we can to take in, explore, and enjoy whatever area we are in at the moment. Almost every day at “quitting time” we jump in the car to go for a ride to hunt for wildlife, or just drive back roads, or check out somewhere that we haven’t been yet. And every single weekend we use at least one of the days (usually both) of Greg’s time off to go on longer day trips to see and do the bigger, more time consuming and often farther away attractions (usually national or state parks) in our given area. Also, we always do our Scenery Swap Days on Sundays, so those are long days in and off themselves. Although we are busy, as you can tell, I for one am much less stressed in general in this lifestyle. I tend to have a somewhat worrisome/anxious personality which does not bode well for my multiple sclerosis. My stress levels in general have been lower than they ever were before we left on this journey which has resulted in better health and significantly less flare-ups for me. I have felt better and have had WAY fewer flare-ups these past 18 months than I’ve had in any 18 month time period since I was in my 20’s! That fact alone is major in itself. I think the reasons for my lower stress levels are a result of various factors of this lifestyle and my health was one of the reasons we set out on this journey in the first place. First, with tiny/minimalist living I simply have far less “stuff” to have to clean, maintain, or worry about. This fact alone is very freeing since unfortunately I am one who tends to “worry” about “stuff” naturally. Second, the weather affects my health big-time and we are always on a quest to go where the “weather suits our soul” or my health, anyway. I do best with warm temps and lots of sunshine. Extreme cold temps or extreme humidity really messes me up and almost always results in a flare-up. We have been able to avoid these extremes entirely since we left and I am 100% sure that this fact alone has played a major role in my good health of late. Thirdly, I am generally getting more exercise than I ever did before we left. Not only do I take (or try to take) walks in our campground daily, but also we try to go on hikes as often as we can, but usually once a week at least. Add to that walking around and exploring towns and areas in general and I am much more active than I was back at the house. The last reason is the one that I didn’t anticipate. I call it the beauty factor, but it’s hard for me to stay stressed when we are literally surrounded in God’s beauty. Whenever I feel stress, I step outside our beautiful home and either sit in my rocking chair or lie in the hammock and within seconds my stress begins to dissipate. The reality is, our surroundings are absolutely beautiful 95% of the time! Our beautiful home is currently nestled among big trees and lush ferns, but whether it’s big, beautiful frees, mountain views, lake or river views, palm tree views, or whatever our changing “yard” brings us, it’s always different and almost always beautiful and above all – calming. It’s hard to stay stressed when you are surrounded by God’s beautiful and know that the same God who created all of this, also created and loves me (and you!) with that same perfect love and attention to detail.
All of this to say, this lifestyle really works for all of us, and it works especially well for me! I actually have had on two different night’s a nightmare (a nightmare to me anyway) wherein we are living in some house and I look out the window and see a fenced backyard and I literally start crying and screaming and freaking out in general. Both times I went on a rant yelling, “What? Why are we here? Where is our 5th wheel? No!!! This can’t be real!” and both times I ended up “losing it” in my dream, only to wake up right back where I belong in my own comfy bed, in my own comfy 5th wheel, which is my comfy-est and homey-est home of any of the homes that we’ve ever had. (And we’ve had lots!) This is just another confirmation that wherever we may be, I am always right where I belong and feel at home. Now for our highlight reel in no particular order…
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Happy Trails and Sunny Sails!