Celebrating Our Go-Go Years
WE’VE SEEN AMAZING SIGHTS THIS YEAR – LIKE A BUFFALO STROLLING DOWN THE ROAD! It’s the one year anniversary of our new adventure. This time last year Phil and I sold our home on Kauai and embarked on a new and uncharted course. All I knew in the beginning was that Phil wanted to do something different, starting with an RV trip up the California coast.
WHY DID WE DO IT?
Phil was weary, he said, of his daily routine on Kauai. It involved feeding horses, mowing, weeding and trimming our 6 acres, maintaining the home, and shooing wild pigs off our land.
Maybe he had what they call “rock fever”. He grew up in LA and was accustomed to bigger spaces and long drives. He often complained that there was no where to go on Kauai that he hadn’t already been.
I, on the other hand, enjoyed my life on Kauai. I loved our property and I did a lot of things with my dogs and horses, like barrel racing, trail riding, parades and working with kids.
I made some wonderful friends and shared hobbies and activities with them. I was in a book club and a women’s investment club. I attended local performances and did some quite a bit of volunteer work, including working with disabled kids, the arts and music events. Some of those events were really fun and crazy, like the costume party at a Makana concert shown in the photo below.
Phil had hobbies, too. When we first got to Kauai he was an avid surfer. Later he played more golf – three times a week with a group of men called the “Golf Geezers”.
He bought a fishing boat, the same day he caught a 500 pound marlin on it! And he was active with the Coast Guard Auxilliary.
But all that wasn’t enough for him – he still got itchy to go. One day he said to me, “You’ve had it your way for almost a decade. Now it’s my turn.” I had to listen.
Phil and I had the good fortune to retire at the young age of 54 and 55, (not saying who’s the older one here….). We had visited Kauai quite often on vacation and I simply loved it. Every time our plane would depart to take us back to California, I would hide my face from Phil so he wouldn’t see me cry. But I think he did see, so when I said I wanted to move there, he agreed. We came lock, stock and barrel with our 3 horses, 2 dogs, my sports car, a truck, horse trailer and a shipping container full of belongings.
We bought a gorgeous property in a historic old town near the beach. I put in a garden and told Phil that I was going to “live and die on Kauai”.
But that all changed one day when Phil showed me an article encouraging retired people like us to travel. The author said that life after retirement is divided into three stages: The early retirement years are the “Go-Go Years”. The next stage is the “Slow-Go” Years. After that it’s the “No-Go Years”. I did not like the sound of the “No-Go Years”, so I decided then and there to get going. We called the real estate agent to sell the house and we left the island at the end of August 2012. It took me a few more months to let go of my horses. I wanted to make sure that I was content with this Go-Go life.
HAVING FEWER POSSESSIONS FEELS GOOD
Who knew we could be content with so few things? We have our current motor coach, all 38 feet of it, and our car that we tow behind it. And we have a 20×15 foot storage room near the kids in San Francisco for the things I don’t want to part with at this time, mostly photos, clothes and kitchen stuff.
LIFE IN A 38’ MOTOR COACH
Speaking of kitchens, cooking in my current kitchen in the RV is like cooking in a “doll house”. It is adequately equipped – it has a built-in 2 burner stove top and a microwave/convection oven combo above the stove. There is a deep double sink and a double door fridge and freezer with ice maker that runs on propane or on electricity when we are plugged in.
But there are a couple of challenges. One is that the space in which to prep is cut in half when the burners are uncovered; the other is that the two burners only accommodate one large pan and one small one at the same time. So my planning is critical. I have to ask myself, what can I cook with those two size pans, and how should I proceed with the chopping and mixing given the limited counter space?
Of course, in proper conditions the portable table top grill, and the Man-Chef, go to work for much of the cooking outside.
It works out quite well if I use my head, and I enjoy the challenge. We manage to eat well and pretty healthy, if I do say so myself. I am still serving that yummy salmon and other fish we caught on our Alaska trip. I managed to feed us in such a way that we took off those excess pounds we foolishly but deliciously added while on the cruise ship.
There is one more kitchen challenge. When Phil drives our “rolling house” to our next locale, he loves for me to make him what he calls “CarolSue’s Sandwich”. On some of the drives, the road is very winding or bumpy, but I make it for him anyway, while holding on and pulling out one or two ingredients at a time. I wrap it in parchment paper so he can eat one-handed while driving. To keep it healthy, I load up the slice of whole grain bread and organic turkey with lettuce, cukes, tomatoes and avocado (no mayo). Gotta keep my driver happy, healthy and well fed!
THERE ARE SOME CHALLENGES
Do you spend 24/7 with your spouse in 38 feet? I do, and I can tell you that it can be intense. It’s like we’ve been in a “relationship laboratory” for 12 months now or maybe even in a petri dish in a relationship lab. My mama always said that you never know a man ‘til you marry him. No, Mama, you never know a man until you live in 38 feet with him! Moods, dirty socks, hangnails, it all gets magnified in this space. There are some times that we simply have to talk about it, at least in my way of thinking. Amazingly, we are managing to get along quite well and I’m learning a lot about myself (and Phil). It probably helps that we’re having so much fun and spending a lot of time together out in nature and seeing many beautiful sights.
This lifestyle is also pretty easy. We certainly have less stress and many fewer chores than we used to. The chores we have we each seem to enjoy. For example, Phil loves to do the trip planning, and the driving and maintaining of the big rig.
I love planning and preparing healthy, creative meals, monitoring the finances, and taking pictures for my blog. The housekeeping takes about 20 minutes (how cool is that!) and we swap off which one of us does the laundry. About the only shopping we do is for food, and Phil likes to go along and pick out what he likes, like the craft beer of the area we’re in. We have our little dog Widdle who definitely increases the positive serotonin, so you can probably see why it’s pretty easy to stay upbeat and agreeable.
CAN WE GO NOW?
We have areas of contention, of course. Phil would like for me to be “ready to roll” earlier on travel days but I’ve never been a morning person. Therefore, I’ve had to get a quick system for travel-readiness. To hit the road, everything has to be secured – nothing on the counters or tables to fly off. The cabinets have to be securely latched so a can of soup doesn’t hit anyone on the head. The pop-out sides in the living room and bedroom, which extend the size of the rooms when we are parked, have to be brought in so the rig fits the road.
Phil puts away the outside furniture underneath the rig and secures the hatches. He then unhooks the sewer, fresh water and electricity. The car (which RVers call a “toad”) has to be secured to the RV for towing. After all this is done, and I’ve put out water and snax for my driver, Phil’s work begins and I sit back ‘til time to make lunch. It’s all prett easy as you can see, so I don’t really have to get up early after all.
IF WE CAN PUT A MAN ON THE MOON, WHY CAN’T I GET INTERNET?
The biggest frustration I face with this lifestyle is the lack of internet service I encounter in some areas, and even some RV parks. It’s not like I’m on vacation and therefore should put my devices away. This is my life and I have bills to pay and celebrities to keep up with and loved ones to email. On the other hand, I may have a bit of an addiction to the internet and may need a 12-step recovery meeting to help me. Better internet connection would be my cure of choice, however.
THAT’S LIFE – ONE YEAR LATER
We have traveled to 13 states in this, our first year of travel and adventure, 11 of those in the motor coach. We also traveled to Hawaii and Alaska and 2 foreign countries, where we had to take suitcases, but that was OK. It’s all been a such a fun adventure. Neither Phil nor I have could say when we think we will be doing anything different. We have no thoughts of buying a house or of “settling down”. There are just so many places to go, both with and without the motor coach. For now, this lifestyle is pretty fine.
Please stay tuned for the next episode of carolsuestories for some fantastic photos of our Summer Tour through National Parks out west. I hope you are enjoying reading about our uncommon life and travels. We’re having fun livin’ it.