500-day Nomadiversary Post

We recently crossed the five hundred day threshold and once again I started thinking about writing a Nomadiversary post…

One of the last sunsets from our Everett, Washington home, prior to selling and launching on the Big Big Trip.

One of the last sunsets from our Everett, Washington home, prior to selling and launching on the Big Big Trip.

Last December, I spent a week thinking-writing-deleting-rethinking-writing-editing-writing-and-eventually-discarding our Six-Month Nomadiversary Blog post. I gave up on it because; with only six-months of fulltiming under our belts, I didn’t feel we had much to say. Plus, we were still in the process of figuring this lifestyle out. Six months later, at the one-year point, I briefly reconsidered the Nomadiversary post, but again rejected the idea for the same reasons as before. So, here we are, five hundred-days in and once again I find myself on the horns of a dilemma: we passed another chronological milestone on our nomadic journey and I don’t really have any deep philosophical thoughts about it?!?!

While five hundred days may seem like an unorthodox benchmark, it coincides with our recent decision to throw a significant curveball into our full-time Airstream lifestyle. Since we are headed back to the west coast to begin a temporary sabbatical from road life as Anna works for a few months, I convinced myself that I needed to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. In doing so, I hoped to reveal some deeper meaning in our journey.

Pre-Launch Trips with our Airstream

We purchased our Airstream in July 2015. Over the next 11-months, we used the trailer for about eight weeks over seven different trips. These Little Trips helped us in deciding how we would use the Airstream after we launched. While we learned many lessons over those seven trips, the learning curve really started once we launched full-time in June 2016.

Over the past week, I repeatedly tried to force the issue and went through the whole “…writing-deleting-rethinking-writing-editing-[blah, blah, blah…]” bullshit again. Ultimately, I ended up at the same fork in the road: give up or keep fighting through. I’m fairly stubborn. So, in the process of battling the writer’s block, realized that I might have at least one philosophical nugget to share with the five or six people that read this drivel.

Through the process of digging through 500-days of experiences looking for something deeper to share, I inadvertently stumbled into a light-bulb moment. While perusing my spreadsheet of Big Big Trip data, I realized that my only real philosophical nugget (for both myself and anyone who reads this) is to stop looking for some great metaphysical epiphany and just fucking sit back, slow down, and enjoy the ride.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
– Ferris Bueller

Whether it was Emerson, Eliot, Hemingway, Aerosmith, or Ferris Buehler that said it, life is a journey, not a destination…in our fast-paced world, it’s really hard to break free from our ingrained proclivity to be in constant motion. Taking the time to stop and smell the roses along the way makes all the difference in this crazy journey called life. Living in an Airstream has got to be one of the best ways to do that. Hell, we’re over 500-days into this thing and I still struggle with this lesson. So, if that’s the case, perhaps someone else could benefit from this wisdom…

Where have we been?

  • Days on the Road:                                                      500-days
  • Miles Traveled:                                                           25,482-miles[i]
  • Days that we’ve traveled:                                          142-days
  • Average Distance on those travel days:                 176-miles
  • States Visited:                                                             34 States
  • National Park Sites Visited:                                     73
  • Time Zones Crossed:                                                 11

Over the past 500-days, we’ve traveled 25,482-miles through 34 different states, crossing time zones 11 times (albeit, the same three time zones multiple times), and visiting 73 National Park Service sites. Of those 500-days, we’ve spent 142 of them actually towing our home to a new location. That means, on average we have relocated about 176-miles every five’ish days. That’s a pretty healthy clip, but not as fast as we were moving when we first started out.

Preparing the Airstream for launch [Spring 2016]

Preparing the Airstream for launch [Spring 2016]

Last year during our first six months on the road, prior to learning that we needed to slow our roll, we traveled 10,051-miles and relocated every about 3½-days. After six months of so much entropy we were burnt out. Luckily, three weeks in Key West were the just the medicine we needed to figure out how to slow down.

With our newfound appreciation in the journey, after Key West we managed to reduce our pace by about 2,000-miles over the second half of our first year (or about 300-miles less traveling each month). Prior to our 2,477-mile Michigan detour, we were poised to slow down even more during the first six months of our second year on the road.[ii] That being said, I don’t feel like we have slowed down. Recently, I feel like we are doing more rushing from one place to the next and we’re feeling harried and anxious.

Moving Day - We sold our home in Everett, Washington. While we downsized quite a bit, we still have over 7,000-lbs of household goods in storage.

Moving Day – We sold our home in Everett, Washington. While we downsized quite a bit, we still have over 7,000-lbs of household goods in storage.

When we sit back and reflect on the past six months, we have reasons to feel rushed and a little tired. Over the past five months, we have completed three long, multiple-day relocations (east coast to Colorado in May/June, Colorado to Oregon in August, and Washington to Michigan in September). Now, as I’m writing this post, we’re in the middle of our fourth—our return trip to the west coast after a six-week stay in Michigan. In our own defense, we are conscious of this and trying our best to take our time as we work our way westward, but it’s hard to fight the laws of physics. Once we’re moving, it’s difficult to slow down unless something forces the issue. We have to constantly check our own inertia.

Airstream GMC Truck Eastern Washington State

Finally on the road. While Anna and Owen headed to Colorado to spend time with her family, I left Washington and headed to Montana for a week of fly fishing. We met-up in Colorado 10-days later.

Luckily though, regardless of our pace, one thing that has remained relatively constant throughout our journey has been our average travel day mileage. We average about 176-miles per travel day (give our take a few, here and there). So, this means that while we have a handful of long travel days, almost half of our travels days are less than 150-miles.[iii] These shorter travel days directly equate to less stress and more enjoyment. It also means that when we do make long cross-country drives, they seem more painful because we’re not used to it.

Our first campsite as a family on the Big Big Trip [July 5th 2016 - outside Rocky Mountain National Park]

Our first campsite as a family on the Big Big Trip [July 5th 2016 – outside Rocky Mountain National Park]

The bottom line is that slowing down has made a huge difference to the enjoyment of the journey and our overall quality of life. Stopping to smell the roses along the way has enabled us to see things and meet people that we never would have met before. We’ve stumbled upon some of America’s beautiful and peaceful places where we could sit back and enjoy just being. Spending a few days at one location prior to moving a few hundred miles further on enables us to get to know an area while having some semblance of a daily routine (regular meals, school for Owen, etc). When you’re focused on the next goal or making another 400-miles the next day, you don’t have much time to sit back and enjoy your surroundings. Everything else takes a backseat to the mission. Basically, taking our time lets us smell the roses along the way. While we understand this lesson in our hearts, sometimes we need to remind ourselves to do it. So that’s my philosophical nugget. Life’s too short not to enjoy the journey, so just fucking sit back, slow down, and enjoy the ride.

Slowing Down makes all the difference  [New Years Day 2017 – Key West, Florida]

[i] These are strictly towing miles. I haven’t kept track of the total miles driven. We now have just shy of 54,000-miles on our truck and I routinely kick myself that I didn’t annotate how many miles we had on it when we left Everett, Washington in June 2016. Fuel Economy: Our tow vehicle is a 2015 GMC Sierra Denali HD with the Duramax Diesel package. Fully loaded, our rig tips the scales at slightly over 18,000-lbs (truck loaded with people, gear, and a full tank of fuel; trailer loaded with gear, food, and a full freshwater tank). For safety and economy reasons, our towing speed is 65-mph or less. We have burned over 2,152-gallons of diesel fuel while towing and our overall average fuel economy while towing (in all conditions) is 11.8-mpg. When we aren’t towing, our mileage varies widely, but averages around 17- to 18-mpg (over various 50-mile aliquots, I’ve seen as low as 9-mpg and as high as 27.9-mpg). My fuel expenditure records are not accurate or complete enough to give a meaningful total cost for fuel. However, I did keep good records during our September 2017 trip from Washington to Michigan. In case you’re wondering, we drove 2,477-miles and burned just under 200-gallons (averaging 12.4-mpg). Our average cost per gallon during that leg of the Big Big Trip was $3.09 per gallon, which averaged out to $0.25 per towing mile (strictly fuel cost and does not include DEF, periodic maintenance, or other wear and tear costs).
[ii] As I’m writing this post in Missouri on November 13th, it looks like we should log about 9,800-miles by the end of the current six month period on December 16th, 2017. So, even with our Michigan detour and subsequent return trip to the west coast, we still aren’t moving as much as we did during that first six months on the road.
[iii] Of our 142 travel days, 17% are greater than 300-miles and 48% are less than 150-miles.

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