Happy One Year D20Nomadiversary!

When people take a vacation or a trip to a destination, often there is a sandwich of relaxation pressed between two pieces of stress.  There is the stress of planning the trip, packing everything you may need, and the journey there.  The relaxation kicks in after you arrive and a person can think about nothing if they want and enjoy the time away.  The stress returns with the completion of the vacation and is coupled with the anxiety of returning to work the next day.  So many people work extremely hard to earn a week or two off from the grind; they work, raise a family, send the kids to school, and many other chores and responsibilities that encompass their day.  There are those who flourish in this chaotic lifestyle and, in fact, need it to survive.  To us, the chaos was changing our family and those changes were not welcome.  We decided to do something about it; now, a year later, we could not be happier with our choices, our life, and our future.

Our Travels

We have traveled over 7000 miles, visited 17 states, met some equally awesome people, and have explored countless national parks, museums, and other locations.  It has not always been as easy as that, but through the hardships, we have become stronger and the experiences richer.  This past year has reformed our family and the bond and strength we wield compels us forward.  We are not on vacation, we are not taking a trip, we are not retired; we are living our life the way we want to and enjoying every moment that comes our way.  We have all learned so much over this year of traveling life and have never felt more at peace with living.

White Sands

Carls Bad

Great Smoky Mountains

Waterfall

Sunset

The D20Nomads have seen mountains, rolling hills, majestic rivers, stretches of desert, amazing sunsets and sunrises, vast lakes, and beautiful forest land.  It is difficult to say which was a favorite destination or sight since so many offered so much.  The Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina gave us miles of vistas that never seemed to end while the rolling hills and farmland of Lancaster Pennsylvania painted a picture of a very peaceful life.  Arkansas and the hot springs area combined the amazing scenery with deep historical roots and sprinkled in intriguing human interaction which made it one of our best stops so far.  Texas did not lie, everything is bigger there and the state does go on forever when you are driving through it.  Surprisingly though, Texas was a pleasant place to visit and explore.  The contrast between the eastern side of the state and the western side is stark; bustling cities and activity versus more open plains and stretches of horizon.  The real treasures of the country lay just to the west of Texas and as soon as we entered New Mexico we felt it.  There was something about the area that gave us a sense of belonging and peace.  The views of massive mountains, acres of cacti, huge cave systems and what seemed to be the freshest air around spoke to us all.  Arizona was equally as amazing for much of the same reasoning.  The entire southwest culture and life will be difficult to top in our minds.  Our year took a pause in Iowa where we will hold up for the summer and enjoy the surroundings of

White Sands

Adventureland Amusement Park and places like Des Moines and Altoona.  Have we seen everything we wanted to, no, but that is the beauty of our life.  We travel and work and live and have fun.  If we don’t get to see something, we know we will be back to explore the area again.  I think that fact more than any about this journey has given us the most peace of mind.  We do not have to jam everything in to one week or worry about prioritizing what to do.  The calmness that brings is amazing and allows us to breath.  Too often, we see families running all over the place and trying to do everything in the small time allotted before they have to go back to work.  Through their struggles we see the enormous benefits of what we do.  The year has taught us much and those lessons will carry us through the next year and beyond.

If we could offer advice to anyone just starting out or thinking about this life, it would be to find your own way of doing it.  Yes, of course ask questions, and get opinions from others who have been doing this a while, but ultimately it is still your life and your travels.  Take what others say, use what others have experienced, trial and error your own ideas and mash up a way of life that works for you and your family.  You will be surprised at what you think you need versus what you actually need.  In our year of travel, we have changed and adjusted so many aspects of how we do things to get to where we are now and we expect to make more of those adjustments in the years to come.  We look back at who and where we were when we began this journey twelve months ago and have a good laugh at those timid and even scared people who pulled out of a driveway in Hahira, Georgia last year.  We have enjoyed sharing our life, both the good and the bad, with all of our family and friends.  Staying connected and maintaining those friendships has made the traveling more exciting to us.  Without the support and, in some cases, the oppositions of everyone around us we would not be able to do this.  We may be out on the road as a single family, but we travel with a whole host of people by our side.

Our Journey Begins…

There comes a time in most of our lives when change is needed. The change can be small like a new haircut, or change can be bigger like a new job; at times, however, change can affect an entire lifestyle.  Our life, like many others that we have encountered, has been an ongoing book with chapters ending and new ones beginning.  Each chapter is a change and represents a new start.  The time has come, once again, for an old chapter to close, and a new one to begin.  Like so many before it, the idea of change began small and through careful nurturing and care grew into a bigger idea fanned by the frustration of life and fed by the hope of happiness.

As we said, change began small; smarter lifestyle choices brought on by the diminishing size of a paycheck.  Those changes grew into the idea of less dependence on “stuff” and more focus on what we really need.  That was never more evident than when we moved from one county to another in Georgia to start a new job.  The move took three days which included packing every square inch of the biggest truck U-haul had to offer, driving to the new house, unloading the metal piñata, driving back to the old house, repacking the truck once again to the limits of capacity before finally driving back to the new house and unloading the seemingly endless supply of boxes and various other material items in our possession.  After seeing just how much was there and the utter uselessness of the majority of it, we purged and sold off and gave away a huge portion of what we once could not live without.  A funny thing happened at that point, the world did not end and we did not miss the items we no longer had.  We had learned that minimal living is not that bad and it is ok to have things, but there is no need to go overboard.  Slowly, we made more and more changes to our lifestyle, all the while feeling comfortable in our choices.

In the middle of these adjustments and changes to life are our kids.  We have three girls who are now 5, 7, and 16.  The two younger kids, Rainbow and Sparkles, have been unschooled from the beginning.  We felt that the public school system would not be a fit for their personalities and would serve to limit them rather than allowing them to blossom on their own.  That choice has been amazing for them and they are learning everyday on their terms and loving every moment of it.  Rainbow and Sparkles both enjoy the freedom to explore interests on their own and figure out just what is important to them.  They have been on board with our changes and, in most cases, have helped plan and participate in all that we do as a family.  Our oldest child, Soccer Chick, is a recent addition to the unschooling world and has enjoyed her new found freedoms to learn and really pursue what she wants to do; not what she is being told to do.  Since her departure from the public school system, she has spent time finding out who she is and what path is right for her.  Like Rainbow and Sparkles, she has taken to this new lifestyle and is looking forward to what the future holds.

As a family, we have decided to start the next chapter of our life and finally shed the weights of doing what we are told and embrace the freedoms of doing what we want.  Our plan is to begin again, this time through traveling the country and living life on our terms.  Together we will experience life on the road as we go from city to city and state to state to free our minds and embrace all of what this country has to offer.  The campgrounds, parks, and open country will be our backyards as we live, work, and learn our way to a better life.  This is our family, this is our life, these are our choices, and this is our journey.