“The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. Where shall I begin, please your Majesty? he asked. Begin at the beginning, the King said gravely, and travel on till you come to the end: then stop.”
—Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Good advice from the king, yet I begin this post with a photo of the Astoria-Megler Bridge (connecting Oregon and Washington), which represents the end of our 13 travel months of 2017. Why? Because I think it best symbolizes our year’s journey. Read on and see if you agree. (Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.)
Travel Month 1: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Our mobile travel life began December 2016, when our grandson was born. We drove from Wilmington, NC to Fort Lauderdale, FL We were lucky to have one of our pregnant daughters also visit while we were there. It’s rare for us to have the opportunity to spend time with more than one of our children at the same time, since they all live in different cities/states. We enjoyed it so much that we hated to leave. We realized that we had to repeat this “too short” visit twice more in the next six months as two more bundles were due to arrive in April and June 2017. That’s when the plan to combine longer-term family visits with the travel we always wanted to do began. Hence, our first travel year had 13 months!
Travel Months 2-3: Wilmington, Asheville, Atlanta
January 2017 brought an opportunity to care for a friend’s condo and sports car while he was traveling abroad. A fun post on Facebook of us enjoying Wilmington’s Wrightsville Beach with a remark that we were housesitting brought an invitation from a friend in Asheville to house and pet sit for her during February! Timing and location were perfect, and following our Asheville stay, we headed to Atlanta to visit our other pregnant daughter and get photos of that joyful event.
Travel Month 4: Wilmington, NC
In March, we gave notice that we were not renewing our lease, and started to prep for our mobile life. A frenzy of cleaning out, giving away, and selling off our stuff was tempered by finding out that Joe’s image “Man in Morning Mist” was accepted for an exhibit in Wilmington’s airport in May.
Travel Month 5: Point Pleasant, NJ
A trip to the New Jersey shore in April to cuddle our new granddaughter was a welcome break in the moving/packing/downsizing routine!
Travel Month 6: Wilmington, NC
May came around and it was time to make a final decision on which car we’d take: Miata or Jeep. We’d been traveling in our 1999 Miata for all our travel for the past few years, but never with all Joe’s camera gear and the amount of stuff we’d need for extended travel. The Miata was our 1st choice, but clearly not the practical one. I’d even named a travelogue for our journey and created a blog header, but as hard as we tried, we simply could not fit everything into Baby, so we set out in Betsy, our 1996 Jeep Cherokee with over 240K miles.
Travel Month 7: Asheville
June was our 1st home-free month, with two house/pet sits in Asheville. If that wasn’t enough excitement, our newest grandson also arrived, and we were able to rush down to Atlanta for a quick hello.
Travel Month 8: Atlanta
In July, we travelled south to Atlanta for a house/pet sit just 15 minutes from the new baby! Finally, we’d get to spend extended time with our expanding family and even squeeze in a bit of sight-seeing.
Travel Month 9: Fort Myers & Fort Lauderdale
August brought us 2 weeks vacation in Lovers Key, FL before heading to Ft. Lauderdale for a house/pet sit in a Las Olas Isles condo and several weeks with our 5-year-old granddaughter and now 9-month-old grandson.
Travel Month 10: Cleveland, Upstate NY, Hudson River Valley
September was devoted exclusively to family and friends as we traveled north to Cleveland, east to Upstate New York and turned south again to the Hudson River Valley. We celebrated the diversity of the areas (city to country) by visiting museums, galleries, general stores, urban farmers markets, and roadside stands…and took a visit to the zoo!
Travel Month 11: New York City
With 10 days to go until we started our next house/pet sit, we spent some precious time with our granddaughter in Point Pleasant, NJ and a week in NYC, which always feels like going home. Once in the city, though, we did it like tourists…something residents often forget to do!
Travel Month 11: New England
Autumn in New Hampshire–a photographer’s dream-come-true! We spent one glorious October traveling New England, from Boston, MA to Portland, ME while house/pet sitting in Seabrook, NH.
Travel Month 12: Jersey Shore, Asheville, Atlanta
November began our trek across the country with stops for “last” visits (before being gone for 6 months to a year) to Point Pleasant, Asheville, and Atlanta to see family and friends.
Month 13: Cross Country Drive
Almost one year to the day when we decided to prepare for the mobile life we’d been dreaming of, we set out for our “Big Trip.” A drive across the country. Starting from Asheville, NC, we drove through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon to Long Beach Peninsula, Washington, our new home for the next few months.
The timing between our two house sits on the Peninsula was perfect, giving us a 3-day break over New Year’s weekend. We spent our free time in Portland, OR, a city we fell in love with (it’s like Asheville on steroids) and felt right at home. Added bonus: we were fortunate to hook up for dinner with friends of our Asheville friend (from our first house/pet sit). Perfect way to start a New Year!