7 weeks on the road and we are finding our groove, grateful for having the choice to take this free-form journey. Like so many trips we’ve taken together (including our honeymoon 30 years ago), we have a direction, not a specific plan or destination. We do have a goal: enjoy the journey while finding the next best place to live. We get tips/insight from folks along the way, from places to stay, places to eat, useful apps to make our journey easier. On weekdays, I’m up early working while Sean catches up on sleep and reading. One good thing from Covid lockdown was that I learned how to work remotely before our journey started.
We mostly stay/camp in State parks or national parks and sprinkle in Harvest host stays or visits with friends/family in between. The cost of an overnight with water and electric costs from $10/night to $30/night. Being “seniors” helps, especially for national parks. Harvest Hosts are free, with the exception of buying the goods or taking a tour of the venue we find ourselves at. We cook most of our meals and go out about once a week, mostly takeout for a nice picnic. Since we have limited storage we eat quite healthy with the exception of chips (they go so well with sandwiches). I’m actually losing a few lbs (thanks Tracy for that vision). We check out housing prices every where we go via Zillow.com, as you can imagine, prices for homes in the south are a lot less, as is the cost of living. Taxes vary state to state. In Florida, or anywhere south, a nice trailer in a trailer park (and they are every where) can be had for $24,000, with monthly fees, and beachfront properties range from $250,000 to over $1 mill (like anywhere).
From Apalachicola, a beautiful, unknown part of our country, ravaged by hurricane Michael, we drove south to Port St. Joe to start our tour of Florida’s panhandle. Port St. Joe is still just recovering from Hurricane Michael, 3 years prior. Of course we meet people from Massachusetts there. Florida’s panhandle beaches are all sugar white sand that is so fine, it squeaks when you walk. The water is Caribbean blue and about 70 deg. We are puzzled why this area doesn’t get more notoriety. Folks are so nice, food is good, prices are low and every beach, one after the other, is beautiful with public access and far less commercialization than we encountered in central and southern Florida. We camp in Fort Pickens National Park, Pensacola, FL for 2 nights- absolutely beautiful beaches then it’s sister state camp, Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, FL, for another 2 nights. Only half of Big Lagoon Campground is open (hurricane Sally) and VERY rustic. At Big Lagoon State Park we meet an awesome couple who have been on the road for 3 years and they share a lot of what they have learned. Like us, their kids are grown and they’ve sold their primary residence. They are journalists who travel to write their stories, reporting on good news or stories of hope for the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU). We will keep in touch with them. From Florida we continue West to Mississippi to Davis Bayou National Park, that is in the Bayou. There are alligator warning signs everywhere, but we don’t encounter any on our walks, only nice people.
On the way to Mississippi we pass through Alabama and eat at a highly recommended restaurant called Lamberts, home of the Throwed Rolls, where we eat enough to know that is the only nourishment we’ll need that day. With full tummies we head west and find we just want to make it out of Alabama alive. Driving on Interstate 10, drifting drivers cause Sean’s heartrate to rise a few times. Then, when we are at a stop light, we get rear-ended. We jump out of the RV and confront the two young men, driving their company truck, one without a license (the driver) the other with a picture ID; we think they are high on something. No real damage so I take pictures and call the company and tell them what happened. We let them know about those “boys driving their truck” and they say they will call back to check in about any damage. True to their word, they call and we let them know there is damage, the motorcycle rack tie-down bar is bent (45 deg). Like the RV, the motorcycle rack is custom too. Sean calls the previous owner (grateful he always answers in our time of need) and he advises Sean how to get it fixed. They (the company who owned the truck that rear-ended us) finds a shop close by to where we are in Mississippi that can help us and its gets fixed free of charge. Uneventful but time consuming and distracting. I have work to do; Sean tends to getting it fixed.
We have also figured out that we should do 3-night stays versus 2-night stays. We feel too pressed on 2-night stays and not enough time to explore and/or just be. We are still adjusting from a life of doing and always a house project rather than being present and just being. We are human beings, not human doings. In this environment, we can adapt to a different pace of life, gratefully and gracefully. Linear time is familiar and comfortable. After a 3-night stay in Mississippi, we are off to Louisiana to Fountainebleu state Park on Lake Pontchartrain; Louisiana seems to be geographically defined by Bayous and Parishes. We will let you know how this part of the journey unfolds in our next update.
Working on just being,
Sean and Kelly