Reflecting on the past year sends a tornado of thoughts and images through my mind. What a difference a year can make! I struggled to write our first year’s journey because we had just began to glimpse what this last year’s challenges would be. Our lives last year didn’t envolve shiny new campgrounds or multiple state road trips but it did test us in many ways and strongly reminded us that life is precious and we needed to enjoy it while we can.
In August of 2016 we were still in limbo, we knew Jamie had a medical issue but wouldn’t know how serious it was until surgery in September. Jamie was working for the National Park Service at Ninety Six National Historic Site and I was working at our campground. This time was all a blur, without time stamped photos I would be lost to any resemblance of a timeline. Surgery and healing in September and into October. During surgery the discovery of two cancer locations lead to radiation in November and December. We moved to my mom’s in Asheville for 2 months for 5 treatments a week for 6 weeks. Only a mothers love can help you take care of your husband and yourself when the sun stops shining. January we found our way back “home” and the camper was small for the first time and very quiet. We both started back to work, Jamie went back to his ranger job and I snagged a job at a local hardware store. His job was supposed to be over in December but got delayed with all the medical leave. He soon completed his allotted hours and his job became one of healing and trying to decide if he could work, when, and what he could do. Healing always seems slow when you are in the middle of it but now looking back he has flown around the universe and back considering his progress. With his recovery looking promising we talked about the future and moving. Moving required jobs and so the search for a new location started. We had been in one place for way too long. There were three NPS jobs that he had applied for, all were close for follow up doctors visits. When the park service doesn’t want you for a job they email you 2 months later, so planning never goes easy. Charleston came a calling an we thought it sounded good. After hours on the phone we were left with no campground for the camper. Thankfully just a 3 hour drive from Cross Hill to Charleston we went to check things out. We quickly decided that camper life didn’t define us, that moving and experiencing things was what we were after. The camper made it easier but it wasn’t the key component. What this move lacked in miles it made up for in changes.
In our second year we mainly lived in one place, so South Carolina was our stomping ground, We made multiple trips to Asheville, North Carolina and spent our spare time there exploring our old home town. We lived in Asheville for many years before we set out to explore but we never took the time, made the time, or had the time to play tourist. Our big trip was to Washington, D.C. to watch the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree. We ran around taking in as many sites as possible all while Jamie was in the middle of radiation. In the spring we were able to squeeze in a few trips, Cowpens National Battlefield and Kings Mountain National Military Park for our 7 year dating anniversary, Congaree National Park for our 5 year wedding anniversary, and several date days to Greenville, Spartanburg and Columbia S.C.
National Park Sites 18, Passport to Your National Parks Cancellation Stamps 68, Breweries 6, Campgrounds 1, States Visited 6, Cities lived in 2, Jobs 5
What we learned…
Our journey is unique, as it should be. Its easy to get caught up with the blogs, vlogs, Instagram, and even our own dreams. I want to see it all and do everything, but it can’t be done all at once. I don’t ever want to rush the experience but I must admit I was afraid we weren’t going to get the chance to try. Now that the dark storm clouds have passed we both are a little more adventurous in our new travel plans. We realized this last year that our path was not tied to RV travel. Jamie got an opportunity for a seasonal job and we weren’t able to find a place to live in our camper with such short notice. The camper was our home but we quickly realized it didn’t define us. We moved into an apartment and signed a 9 month lease. Our first camper was too big for us, especially now with Sadie gone, and is now up for sale. This time will be good for us to regroup and figure out our new game plan.
What we are doing now…
Jamie is busy roasting away in the Charleston sun being a park ranger at Fort Sumter National Monument. Working on an island and riding a boat to work can sound glamorous but I know he is hoping for cooler weather to come sooner than later. I’m slinging flounder, shrimp and grits, and Huguenot tortes at Fleet Landing Restaurant. I knew I would wait tables here and originally thought I would try something closer to were we lived but it just didn’t feel right. One day I headed into town and this was the first place I applied. Its a great place to work, good food, good people to work for and I work the same schedule as Jamie. Apartment living has been interesting especially without any furniture. Three months in Charleston and we are busy working, exploring, dining in a sea of restaurants, and planning our new home.
What the future holds…
As we travel, move to new cities, meet new people, adjust to our surroundings, we take notes on the way we want to live and what is important to us. In the future we would like to purchase a piece of land to homestead half the year and travel the other half. Jamie has a new passion for growing crops and I embrace the thought of living off the land in solitude. When we were in Texas we were half way across the United States and half way to California. I can’t see it all at one time and I can’t know what the future holds but I’m California dreaming. There is also Florida, Maine, Texas, and Wyoming, how do you ever decide?
Our next big adventure…
With no solid destination in sight except westward, we know one thing, our first camper will not be joining us. We never named it officially but lets call her the beast. Too long, too big, just too much in general. We knew early on the camper wasn’t working for us but who would have ever guessed we would go from 2,000 sq feet and think our new camper was too big. We left the beast behind on consignment and several days before we moved bought a cargo trailer to haul our stuff. This blank canvas, red on the outside and 16ft long will be converted into our new smaller, tiny home on wheels. That project is an adventure in itself, Jamie is busy with research for wiring and numbers crunching for solar, while I work on design and decor. When it rolls away from Charleston it probably won’t be complete or pretty but we started off tent camping so its gotta be fancier than that.
Always on our Minds…
Thanks for reading, until our next adventure!
Rebecca and Jamie