The First Thousand Days

I recently passed a significant milestone in my nomadic life, my three year anniversary of becoming a full timer. I figure if I account for time away such as trips back to Texas to be with family, river trips, vacations to Mexico, etc. that should put me right around a thousand days on the road. It seems like just yesterday that I broke the news to my Mom that I was selling my house and going to live full time in an RV. Her exact words were, “You can’t be serious!” Thankfully, I was, as it’s been about the best three years of my life thus far. Whenever one dreams, it’s a good idea to always append it with “or something better,” because this life is definitely better than I ever dreamed.

Here I be.....by the Salton sea...

Here I be…..by the Salton Sea…

The Salton Sea is California's largest lake. It's 225 below sea level, second lowest point in the USA behind Death Valley.

The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake. It’s 225 below sea level, second lowest point in the USA behind Death Valley.

Greater salinity than the Pacific, but not as much as the Great Salt Lake.

Greater salinity than the Pacific, but not as much as the Great Salt Lake.

Home to many migratory birds, second only to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Home to many migratory birds, second only to the Texas Gulf Coast.

So much has happened within the past three years. Severing a 24 year relationship with American Express. The sudden tragic loss of my younger brother Stephen, followed three months later by my Dad’s release from the bounds of his 94 year old failing body. It’s like life has intensified, boiled down to be more concentrated while I have been on the road. Friendships seem more meaningful, yet come and go more quickly. I seem to work harder at those I want to keep, for fear that the nomadic lifestyle will cause me to feel further loss in my life.

I was hesitant to walk down to the water, as I didn't want to get my shoes full of sand.

I was hesitant to walk down to the water, as I didn’t want to get my shoes full of sand.

Turns out it isn't "sand" at all but these little barnacle shells lining the beach.

Turns out it isn’t “sand” at all but these little barnacle shells lining the beach.

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The Salton Sea is a “terminal lake,” meaning water flows in from numerous sources, but the only way out is through evaporation.

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There is an estimated 500 million tons of salt in the Salton Sea.

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Fish kills happen frequently when the dense algae consumes all the oxygen in the water. The largest was in 1999 when 7.6 million fish were killed in one day.

Although I relish every day in the simplicity of my life, it’s not as worry free as I anticipated.   I traded worry about termites and foundation cracks of a sticks and bricks for worry about leveling effects on my refrigerator, and varmints taking up residence under the hood.  Things that I thought would be hard (i.e. dumping) are quick and easy, while things I never considered (leveling) give me my biggest headache.  If there is one thing I would like to change going forward, it would be “Worry less.”

I marvel at how anything this delicate can grow in such a harsh environment.

I marvel at how anything this delicate can grow in such a harsh environment.

There is a path that follows along the bluff above the shoreline for at least 3 miles.

There is a path that follows along the bluff above the shoreline for at least 3 miles.

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My first “no shooting” sign. Or maybe I am just more aware now?

I still love the Winnie as much as I did the first time I laid eyes on her. Aside from one “Check Engine” light and a blown Tracker engine, it’s been a smooth ride. I still remember my trip to the Hershey, PA RV show, when a salesman told me that 90% of RV owners don’t have the same RV they started out with after the first three years. But I’d make the same choice all over again.

I have enjoyed the additional conveniences that have made life easier, like my nice comfy custom mattress, my “no fill” AGM batteries, and my Bose Bluetooth Soundwave Speaker. And I still laugh every time I turn on my Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and think back to discovering on my maiden voyage, standing at the Love’s Truck Stop when I realized it was impossible to check the tire pressure of an inside dually. But by far, my greatest improvement over the past three years has been my solar system. It truly changed the way I live, and paid for itself in under a year.

They must be joking, right? Who would dive into this brine?

They must be joking, right? Who would dive into this brine?

Closer to the shoreline, I find the source of the infamous Salton Sea aroma.

Closer to the shoreline, I find the source of the infamous Salton Sea aroma.

I have mastered many unforeseen skills in the transformation to nomadic life.  I can cook just about any meal I desire, from pasta to panko-breaded porkchops in one single frying pan.   I have mastered the art of surveying egress before turning into a tight space.  And I can turn my hair from frightening to fabulous in 15 minutes with five Velcro rollers.   I do my best shopping in thrift stores, as I soon learned that using public Laundromats means “disposable clothing.”

Still, there are skills I can’t seem to learn.  Like “sense-checking” my GPS.   Turning off the water pump when I leave the rig.  Retrieve the memory card from the laptop.

I only stay one night at the Salton Sea...

I only stay one night at the Salton Sea…

It's not the stench that offends me. Nor is it the heat....

It’s not the stench that offends me. Nor is it the heat….

It's the relentless, incessantly annoying flies that send me packing.

It’s the relentless, incessantly annoying flies that send me packing.

Many friends who have been at this much longer than I ponder their choices in the years to come.  What direction will their lives take, and is there more fulfillment to be had beyond full time on the road,  or “Is that all there is?”  The resurrection of spring seems to bring out self-reflection in us all.  But for me, I continue to be the insatiable “Kid in a Candy Store.”   Jimmy Buffet’s lyrics in “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”  continue to be my credo:

“Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me,
And I know that I just can’t go wrong”

Here’s to the next thousand days…

Still missing Mexico, I cool down with a Mexican Michelada.

Still missing Mexico, I cool down with a Mexican Michelada.

32 thoughts on “The First Thousand Days

  1. Congratulations Suzanne on your first 1000 days. If I were a solo your set up would be absolutely the one I’d want. That your toad came with your View is amazing to me as I look for one already set up that I could just hook up to tow 4 down. Worry less, yes, an important resolution for me too. Here’s to less worry for the next 3 years for both of us.

    • Hi, Steve — I am not a good person to ask, as I have never done ANYTHING in life with two large dogs! I owned a dog once about 30 years ago, but she was an itsy bitsy doxie. But I will say this, I am the rare exception, as most RVers travel with pets. I just choose not to because I would allow it to alter my course. I like to boondock (could be tough to regulate the inside temps) and I like to take long hikes (could be limiting if I had a dog inside.) But if your course already includes dogs, I don’t see why it couldn’t work if the desire is strong enough to make certain concessions.

  2. We bought our MH at the Hershey Show, too!! Well, we purchased it and then flew to Chattanooga to pick it up. We use to live about 40 mins from Hershey. After seven years of attending the show, we finally found what we wanted. I haven’t seen anything I like better in the last six years:) Glad to Winnie is still perfect:)

    I must agree, this life is even better than I thought:) Still after six years I find myself almost daily amazed that this is our life:)

    Everyone needs to experience the Salton Sea area at least once!

  3. Congratulations on the milestone. I am on my fourth 1000 days. The style is changing but I have no intention of quitting roaming. Things change but seem to always be getting better.

  4. Chose to live today, tomorrows always take care of themselves.
    I think the nomadic Rv life plays to our restless senses and longings to be free. It isn’t a cure, but with It’s a great alternative in which to await the next stage, whatever and where ever that may be. Proper “toys” help too. Just sayin’…

  5. Suz….anne of a 1000days, wasn’t that a film. Your friend Mark from BCB summed it up for me in one of his posts, in that life is about quality not necessarily quantity. Do what you want to do now.

    • Funny, Dave, I first titled the post “Suzanne of the Thousand Days” but thought that sounded a bit narcissistic. Besides, didn’t they chop off Anne’s head? LOL!

  6. Congrats on 3 years of a totally different then previous lifestyle. Ain’t it great?!

    Salton Sea can be pretty and ugly too. Beach of fish bones, birds everywhere and marvelous sunsets. But when the flies descend it’s time to run.

    Here’s to the next 1000.

  7. 1000 days are good but the next 1000 should be even better!

    We too bought our RV at Hershey RV Show – a great place to view many styles and makes. This is our 7th RV of one type or another and I think will probably be our last – love the floor plan – it suits us and the way we want to travel – we are not full time and probably never will be – admire that you can
    do it.

  8. SOLAR is one of my wishes! For the motor home, for the house and for the cabin. I don’t understand Pat’s reluctance to at least try it at one place! Next week we’ll use our tow vehicle for the first time. It’s a 2-door 1993 Jeep Wrangler. We’re going to the NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway.
    I applaud your first 1000 days! You’ve succeeded in making me yearn to be rid of all our baggage and take to the road! Keep traveling. Keep writing. Keep smiling! Keep me jealous! LOL. Love ya! Be safe!

  9. Congratulations on your first 1000 days! We started our full-time journey at just about the same time as you — and as you said, it’s even better than we imagined. I’m so grateful that we had the courage to push ourselves out of our comfortable nest to take to the road. I knew that had we not taken the leap, we would have regretted it at some point — when it was too late to do anything about it. Wishing you all the best in your continuing journey.

  10. Wish you’d done it sooner, or just glad you’re doing it now?
    Congratulations on 1000 days of a world less travelled

    • ChrisShelley, I think I would say “just glad I am doing it now.” I am sure you feel the same way, I am grateful for the years of experience I got at Amex, and it was a good run. Had I started too much sooner, I am afraid I might run out of road. 😉 I think we both got out at the right time, don’t you?

  11. Thanks everyone, for all the nice comments and congrats on my milestone!

    I would like to clear something up, however. I did not buy the Winnie at the Hershey show. I was only there “window shopping for the perfect rig.” I bought the entire set-up, Winnie, Tracker, and tow equipment as a “set” from a wonderful couple living in rural Arkansas. I bought it two months after the Hershey show, and found it on RVTrader. It’s a 2008 model, and had 31K miles when I bought it in 2012.

  12. Glad to see that you got to experience the Salton Sea up close, aroma and all. Your reflections on the past 1000 days ring true to me. Hope I will be seeing you as you get to work on the next thousand.

  13. congrats on your 1000 days and nights. We hope that you have many more on the road and continue to blog your way along with that insightful prose and those awesome pictures.
    Allen and Deede

  14. I very much enjoy your thoughts and pictures. The summary of your first 1000 days is helpful as I also have a fulltime itch that can’t be scratched for another year. In the meantime, I will learn as much as I can so I will be ready when my time comes.

  15. Congrats on getting in those 1000 days. I’ve only followed your journey for the last few 100 and have enjoyed all that you’ve shared. While travel is never worry free, “undaunted” is the word that pops in my head when I read many of your posts.
    Here’s hoping that your next 1000 are as rewarding as the first.

  16. Congratulations on your 1000 Days Anniversary! I look forward to many of your future adventures and wonderful photographs. Thank you.
    Pamelab in Houston

  17. I love my husband dearly but….if I ever find myself in your situation I hope I have enough guts to do the same as you have done.

  18. Wow, Suzanne…I never thought to do the ‘day’ math. Diana and I are up to 597 days now. Time sure does fly when you are having fun!

    I had read a few of your posts awhile back and enjoyed your music references. Al over at Bayfield Bunch reintroduced me, and I sure am glad he did. :)

    Jim

  19. once again, behind and catching up. congrats on 1000+ days. favorite line so far: ‘using public Laundromats means “disposable clothing.”’ from one who prided herself on purchasing and keeping quality clothes far longer than many, that’s been quite an adjustment. enjoying your stories!

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