As we continue through our transition, I am filled with hope and wonder as to what our new life will bring. There is no doubt that one of the allures of this lifestyle is the adventure. I’ve felt for a long time that there was so much more to life than what I felt I was experiencing. There are so many great things to see, so many new experiences to be had, and so many ways to learn and grow. So as we work through our preparations, my mind frequently drifts to the many things that I hope we will be able to achieve over the course of our full-timing experience, whether it be a few years or a lifetime. Here are a few (ok, a few more than a few!) of my hopes and dreams, in no particular order:
Volunteering – if we had to name just one goal for our new life, it would be to give back. I truly believe that we all have an obligation to improve the world, no matter how small of a blip in the global scheme that it may be. As I age, I am becoming more conscious of what type of legacy I will leave. Our plan is to spend at least several months each year volunteering our services to a variety of causes.
Build a house with Habitat for Humanity – I have had a couple of brief encounters with this organization, but have never spent more than a day at a time with them. I would love to spend a couple of months or more building houses and hopefully be involved in one from start to finish.
“Work” at professional tennis events – as a tennis enthusiast and player, I love to watch the pros play and have been lucky enough to attend a couple of professional tournaments. I think there are a lot of work opportunities that we’ll pursue simply for the experience. Working at the US Open and other top level tournaments is one such experience. If we can get a paying gig out of it, great; otherwise, it may be on a volunteer basis.
Work at a dude ranch – this is another one of those experiences that I’d like to try. I have no doubt that it would be hard work, but how different can you get from living in a city and working in corporate America? And it would fulfill one of my long-time dreams of living in a small cabin in the mountains (ok, so our cabin would be on wheels, but hey it’s close)
Work at Disney World – after all, it is a kingdom full of magic, right? One season in such a crowded environment with a bunch of screaming kids may prove to be more than enough for a lifetime, but once again I’d like to try it just to say we did.
Visit all of the National Parks – I have been fascinated with the national parks for most of my adult life and have visited several of them, but there are so many more that I’ve never been to. There are over 60 U.S National Parks and many more monuments, historic sites, lakeshores, river ways, etc. I don’t know if we’ll realistically be able to visit every nationally protected area, but I’d certainly like to try. At a minimum I’d like to at least be able to boast that I’ve been to every National Park in the United States. And of course, I haven’t even mentioned all of the great places in Canada, many of which are high on my list. It will be hard to prioritize them all, but we’ll certainly give it our best shot.
Fulfill my dream of being a National Park “Ranger” – ok, I probably won’t be able to be a ranger in the truest sense of the word, but I would like to find a position doing many of the ranger-type activities such as environmental research, interpretation programs, and trail maintenance. Many years ago I volunteered with a county open space program doing many of these activities and loved it, but unfortunately I let my career get in the way. And maybe I could even wear a uniform…with a hat! That would be cool!
Live a more active lifestyle – after spending 20+ years behind a desk, I am really looking forward to being more active in all aspects of my life. We hope that many of our work/volunteer opportunities will align closely with our passion of being close to nature. But we also hope to rely more on our bikes and our feet for local transportation. Not only does this align well with our “exercise plan”, but it will save money and help the environment. I understand that some of our locales will probably not lend itself to this mode of transportation, but whenever we can take advantage of it, we plan to!
Spend at least one summer in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York – because my family moved frequently during my childhood years, I have never really felt like I have a hometown. For much of my youth, my family owned a second house in the Adirondacks and we spent many weekends, summers and holidays in the area. This is as close as I come to a childhood home. It’s a beautiful area full of outdoor activities and I hope to have the opportunity to relive part of my childhood.
Explore the North West – this is one part of the country that I’ve never been to and I’m looking forward to spending significant time there and seeing what it’s all about!
Spend at least one summer in Alaska – this is one state that is at the top of our list. It is the current home to Scooter, Ruby and family (read our profile if you don’t know who they are!) and it’s been awhile since we’ve seen them. But even if we didn’t have family there, Alaska would still be a top priority. I’ve never been there but have wanted to visit for years. I can’t think of a better way to experience it than rolling down the road with our house in tow!
“Live” on the beach – this is another one of those desires simply because I never have. Now, I wouldn’t really classify myself as a beach person. I love the water, but my experience is limited to lakes and rivers. I’ve been to the beach on various occasions, but never spent any significant time there. The thought of taking long walks on the beach, having evening picnics watching the sun set (or maybe morning picnics watching the sun rise), wading in the surf, and lounging in the sand with a good book are all very intriguing to me. It just seems like a laid back way of life and a great environment to spend some time in.
Spend at least a month in every state (excluding Hawaii for obvious reasons) – admittedly, there are a few states which are low on my list, but I know there is beauty, history and adventure in every state. So often we focus on only what we know, often missing out on so many wonderful things that we’re never aware of. I look forward to having my eyes opened and learning more about this great country of ours. And hopefully in the process, change my perception about certain states!
Learn to play guitar – for many years, I have been wanting to learn to play the acoustic guitar. I took piano lessons for a couple of years when I was growing up, but didn’t stick with it. Now I wish I had. I dream about sitting around a campfire, strumming a guitar and singing along (although it better be a deserted campground!). What better instrument could there be for this lifestyle?
Learn a foreign language – I’m always amazed with people who are fluent in more than one language and I’ve often thought it a bit egotistical of Americans who think of English as the only language. So what language(s) would I want to learn? Well, Spanish is the first that comes to mind. It would definitely be the most useful since it’s by far the secondly most used language in the U.S. Also I lived in Puerto Rico for a year during my childhood and also took Spanish in high school so I’m sure some of that knowledge has to be deep inside me somewhere. But I’m also interested in Italian. I think it is a beautiful language when spoken and Italy is someplace I’d like to visit someday. But I’m afraid as soon as I started learning, I’d want to visit immediately and that’s not very ideal in an RV! While not exactly a foreign language, I also think it would be cool to learn sign language. Once again, it seems like it might come in handy one day.
Revive my passion of photography – it seems like there are a lot of full-timers who have a passion for photography and for good reason. The opportunity for amazing pictures are endless! And it’s a great way to document the journey. I used to be pretty passionate about my photography, but like so many things, it got put on the back burner as life got busy. I’ve gotten out of the habit of taking my camera along, except on special trips. I hope that the camera once again becomes a standard part of my being.
Geocaching – this seems to be an up an coming hobby for many RVers and I am intrigued by it. For those of you who don’t know what geocaching is, it’s essentially a treasure hunt by using a GPS. Items are hidden all over the world in containers, known as geocaches. The idea is to find them and share your experiences online. I’ve never tried it, nor have I done much research about it, but it sounds interesting and I think I’d like to try it someday. I also think it would be a great way to get to know an area, as I suspect it would take you to some out of the way places.
Wow, it’s a good thing we’re planning to do this full-timing thing for the long term. It’s going to take us a lifetime to get through all of these! :) And I fully expect this list to continually grow as our eyes are opened to new opportunities. As I look back through this list, so many of these should have been achievable in our current life and I wonder why they haven’t. I guess I know the answer though…and that is precisely why we feel so strongly about transitioning to the full-time lifestyle NOW!
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