We're so glad you joined us!

Here we are – kids, dogs and all! Thanks for visiting our page! We're hoping that you will enjoy hearing about our travels and experiences as a family. We intend for this blog to share more than just travel journals, but also insights and lessons learned during our daily adventures. Please share your comments and come back often! * update * as of August 2010, we finished our journey, so new entries to this site will be rare. Linda's starting a new personal blog here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How did we choose our retirement home?

We get this question frequently, so Linda has begun a little summary in her new blog

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Year, New Home, New Blog

OK - I really am starting a new blog and here's the very brief intro. If you click on the title of this post, the new-fangled internet technology will take you to it. It's called 'Home Sweet Homestead' and the address is http://tnhomestead.blogspot.com. Now I'm off to help finish the chicken coop that our family has been busy building this month. The new baby chicks arrive on Monday or Tuesday and I'll include some photos and stories about that on the new blog. When we get to Utah in our pop-up, we'll have to document that here - the map just looks so odd with that hole out west!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Linda's new thing

I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all your works;
I muse on the work of your hands.
Ps 143;5

Now that we have settled in our home in Tennessee, I have noticed that I miss blogging. In different seasons of my life, journaling has been an invaluable experience and I suppose blogging is simply a more public version of doing just that. So, I'm going to sort out a new blog name and a link to it from here, for those that are interested enough to know snippets from my pea brain! As the busy-ness of Christmas preparations and celebration settle, everyone seems to reflect in preparation for turning the page on the 2010 calendar. In exploring thoughts about meditation and 'remembering the days of old', I came across the verse above and could not help reflecting back on the beginning of our RV journey across America.

God showed us a special verse while we were contemplating our new season as Craig's retirement approached two years ago. We had been praying about the opportunity of his retirement and what should we do within it. In our many discussions and prayers, the possibility of selling the house and travelling the country in an RV came to light. In some ways, we dared not think about it too much as it seemed unrealistic, too unorthodox and even frivolous. Yet, the idea did not fade and further research eliminated many of the arguments about the practicality of this venture. A strong feeling of anticipation took root in the both of us. Then, this verse appeared before us through two separate sources on the same day:

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Isa 43:19

My mother sent Craig a retirement card with the verse and the same verse appeared in our daily devotion book that we share each morning. Coincidence? We believe not.

We took that as confirmation that God did want us to take this journey and equipped with that knowledge, we joyfully proceeded with preparations - learning all that we could about RV's, campground facilities, and pricing RVs while we placed the house on the market. Lo and behold, the house sold 3 1/2 months after Craig's retirement in a declining market with houses on our street that had not sold after being being advertised for significantly more months and, in some cases, years.

December of 2008 brought the closing on the house, a flurry of 'normal' Christmas events such as piano recitals and play performances, moving preparations and much more significantly, Craig's father became critically ill in a small town in Missouri over 18 1/2 hrs away by car, 8-10 hrs by plane and rental car. Strapped by the schedule of vacating the house and moving our belongings to storage in our selected home base 400 miles away, Craig made plans to travel to Missouri as soon as we could get the moving van unloaded. His dad's condition improved, so Craig then made plans to travel the day after Christmas to stay with his father and prepare him for transition to assisted living. He spoke with his father on Christmas morning and all was well. Then, a couple of hours later, his brother called with news that dad had suddenly passed away.

Within the week, Craig and I travelled north to attend the funeral. We drove the 1200 miles in the large pickup we'd acquired for our RV plans. The familiar but somber drive had mostly memories of anticipation of family visits from the years past and also the difficult travels to monitor his mother's declining health and passing several years before. Such a very bittersweet journey that was poignant with symbolism of endings and beginnings.

As we grieved the loss of this loved one, we celebrated the prospect of joining these and other loved ones for eternity through the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The promise of that future grand reunion provides such great comfort when mourning the loss of the earthly life of loved ones!

In this reflective moment, during a season in which we celebrate God coming to earth, as the newborn babe Emmanuel, I can't help but also be reminded of His purpose - to make the sacrifice for the sins of man and all men through His death on the cross a mere 33 years later. I'm so thankful for all the blessings in our lives, most importantly the people in our lives. I'm immeasurably more thankful for Jesus' departure from His heavenly realm to purposefully dwell amongst men and complete God's covenant to make a way for us to live forever with Him.

Watch for a link to the new blog.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our table won't look like the famous Norman Rockwell image. As a matter of fact, we still don't have a table in our dining room. The one we had was damaged beyond repair in our move a couple of months ago. At the time, it was a very sad day. That big table was usually only used for festive occasions and represented many happy memories of gatherings of friends and family. I was so looking forward to planning and preparing dinners to gather around that table again after our 2 year adventure in the RV. I loved the time spent travelling and we have many happy (and a few not so happy) memories from that terrific journey. One thing that was quite impossible was to have a big dinner. The tiny oven and scant counter space was fine for our every day meal prep and I learned a lot about efficient space management! Special days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter all have entwined a special meal with some family traditions well established in our minds. I truly enjoy planning and preparing those special meals for my family. The clean-up, not so much, but my family - especially my husband, takes care of that for me (what a blessing!). So, the table being damaged was a temporary painful blow as it was so much more than a piece of furniture in my mind.

As part of the many things for which I am thankful, however, the realization that even that table was just a 'thing' and my very special memories are more about the people and more importantly the love for and from those people in my life is the treasure that I value.

As we sit down today around a fold-up table with a tablecloth thrown over, I will have so many rich blessings for which to be thankful to God:

  • God Himself, with His everlasting and ever plentiful provision for all our needs (spiritual, emotional, physical and material)
  • my husband - such an amazing blend of strong and sweet
  • my kids - each with their unique personalities that bring joy to my life
  • my family - most reliable in their ongoing support, not always for everything I do - but always there for me
  • my friends - wonderful companions in this life, whether near or far
  • my country - with its' own set of challenges and worries at the moment, but by far the country that provides us with liberty 'to pursue happiness'

So, whatever your table looks like on this day, however the meal turns out, no matter who wins the football game - it is my hope that pursuit of the 'perfect' Normal Rockwell table in the photo doesn't get in the way of being blessed by remembering what you have to be thankful for. I know that I am so much more thankful for this little fold-up table than I ever would have thought!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Losing weight (about 12,0000 lbs.!)

Long time, no post! We've been very, very busy. We looked in all kinds of nooks and crannies in Eastern TN for a home with a view of the mountains. We found plenty, but scared ourselves half to death on some of the climbing roads! We also found many that just didn't fit the foggy idea in our heads of our future home.

Finally, on a trip back from Nashville to Bristol, we scheduled an appointment to see a home near Crossville, TN. We loved it! It fit everything to a tee except for being on a quiet road. It's on a fairly active highway, but everything else was so perfect that we made an offer before the end of the day. Within 24 hours, the offer had been countered and we accepted the counter. Now, about a month later, we have closed on the property and look forward to moving in within a month or so. We've got a few hurdles to overcome, including getting our two storage units full of stuff from Texas to Tennesse. We remain in absolute awe of our God and His amazing blessings for us!

Now - about that title! Our 5th wheel has a gross vehicle weight of around 15, 500 lbs. We've loved travelling in it and have appreciated the space and conveniences that it provided for our family to dwell in while seeing all kinds of sights around the country. We remained comfortable in temperatures varying from 14 F to 105 F and enjoyed the enhancements of cooking in a well-equipped kitchen, showering with a decent amount of hot water, watching TV and movies, hauling our 4 bikes and 2 dogs all over the place, and laundering our clothes whenever needed. For our next season, however, we don't really require those conveniences and didn't want to deal with maintaining the trailer in storage for most of the weeks of the year. We decided to downsize and put a minimal amount of effort into selling the RV. Cory made a flyer that we left in a couple of RV Park offices, we posted advertisements in a couple of online RV forums and posted 'FOR SALE' signs on the trailer.

We had a couple of nibbles in the last month, but no offers. We were beginning to contemplate where we were going to put the thing after a couple of weeks when we will begin moving items to the house. As we headed out to do some shopping yesterday, we decided to drop in an RV showroom to browse smaller trailers and even pop-ups. We found a pop-up right away that was only slightly used and met our idea of how we might camp for up to a week or two. The sales staff was very attentive, as you might expect. When asked what our plans were, we chose to be brutally honest with them, expecting that they would not be interested in a trade in which they would have to fork over cash to us for the difference in our current, really large 5th wheel for the rather diminutive (by comparison) pop-up. There was the typical 'I'll go talk to the boss in the back room' series of events. We weren't expecting anything to come of it. Lo and behold, the offer came back in favorably. By favorable, we mean that they offered about what we hoped to gain in a FSBO (for sale by owner) arrangement. We lose about 12,000 extra lbs of trailer, that we don't need, and gain enough cash to help out with purchasing a 2nd vehicle or a tractor or something yet unseen for our new home!

Talk about our cup running over! Only one day after closing on our house, we couldn't have even come up with the idea that this could be handled so quickly and generously! We accepted the offer, made a deposit for the pop-up, and agreed for a representative to come back and verify the value of our 5th wheel.

Here's a link to our new camping buddy:


This post is not the dealer we're talking to, but they have some nice photos of the camper and it's exactly the same model.

Now, what say you about our God's ability to absolutely knock our socks off with His blessings that are above and beyond what we ask or even think?!? We are so amazingly blessed and hope our little story provides a testimony to you of how generous God can be in all the little (and big) details of our daily lives!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Now what?

We're complete with our journey...for now. We had a goal of 48 states in 2 years and we completed 47 states in 17 months. We found that each state has enough unique attributes and attractions to easily absorb at least a month, if not six. We do not want to dedicate that much of our time to travel in this season, so we will call this journey done. Our biggest disappointment? That we didn't figure out incorporating Utah! We will not rest until we return to the west and see that terrific state and it's unique beauty. But, we have not tarnished our desire for travel, as a matter of fact, this journey has whet our appetites for further journeys in states we have already visited and yes - return to Utah!

As of this writing, we still need to post pictures and a few paragraphs of our visit to West Virginia. On the heels of that trip, we began exploring eastern Tennessee as a prospective home site. We love all mountains and have been drawn to the beauty of the Smokies and the Appalachians. The state favors well economically with a reasonable cost of living and favorable tax laws for stretching our dollars further than some other areas. In case you are curious, other contenders for our home state included New Hampshire, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Although Texas holds a warm spot in our hearts, there are precious few mountains and they are in rather desolate areas of the state. Several of the states fell in priority as having laws that are unfriendly to home schools. States that assess income taxes, including retirement pensions also fell to a lower ranking. When I say ranking, I mean just that - we made a spread sheet! Imagine two engineers doing anything without a spread sheet!

We're continuing to pray and browse this beautiful state and all the property listings. We'll not enter much of our deliberations here, as we don't see that as fitting our intended purpose of the blog. As truly newsworthy events transpire, we will post here.

Thanks for reading our travel blog. We plan to review it at a future date and publish it for our own memoirs. It's been a terrific adventure and we likely will do a '17 months reflection' post. We're a little road weary and happy to move into a new season full of things we cannot see from here!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smoky mountains round 2

Hello, it's Cory again. My parent's didn't have the courage to write this post, so I decided that I would take one for the team and tell it like it is.

We went back to the National Park yesterday. The weather was slightly rainy, so we decided instead of hiking to drive up to the highest point in the park to see the view.

The drive up was pretty, with all the flowers, streams and trees. We also saw some poor guy trudging up the mountain with a lawn mower (in the rain). On a slightly scarier note we also saw a car wrecked on the side of the road with windows that appeared to have been shot out with a shotgun.

Finally, we reached the top observation point. The bad thing about being really high up is that the most likely view is cloud. Which is exactly what we saw. So we decided to wait a bit and see if the cloud would blow over. While we were waiting, I was listening to the radio and looking around the parking lot. There weren't very many cars. Then, a guy got out of one of them and walked to the back (hang on, this story is actually going somewhere). He then took off his shirt and started rummaging around in the back. He came out wielding a bar of soap. Logically, I thought he was heading for the public bathrooms that were less than 50 yards away. Apparently, however, this guy has nothing whatsoever in common with logic. He walked around to the side of his car and started splashing himself with water from a puddle (he was standing in the rain, by the way. As if he wasn't wet enough). I ask myself why I kept on watching. Perhaps it was due to boredom. Perhaps I was just too shocked that this guy had no common sense. Whatever the reason, I will regret it forever. Why? Because after he finished splashing himself, he walked to the driver door, opened it, removed his shorts and threw them in (sadly, he was wearing no underwear). Screams echoed throughout the car as everyone ducked for cover, sheltering their eyes from the horrible hind end of Sir Showersalot. I will never get that image out of my head.

Once we were assured that the horrible scene was past and Mr. Free To Be Me was back in his car, we dared to look around once more. After a bit, the cloud did blow away a bit and the view cleared up slightly. Then it truly was a beautiful sight.

Again, I felt an odious and evil presence. My gaze was drawn back to the car of Mr. Mooner. Where just before the windows had been mercifully fogged up, there he was, cleaning them with his sock. I squealed and hit the floorboard again.

Needless to say, we did not linger on the peak. We may go back again today, and hopefully no one will get any ideas about taking a public shower.

Coragon, over and out.

"Blue moon. I saw you outside your car. Without a brain in your head. How very naked you are."