Along the Alaska Highway are many beautiful stops. One town called Watson Lake (the lake there is actually Wye Lake) has a very funky tradition of allowing travelers to post a sign there. It is larger than I imagined and with enough time you could probably find a sign from just about every place. The Mosquitos were out in forces so we didn’t linger as long, but well worth the stop over even for a quick sighting.
We spent the Fourth of July holiday in Chicago. A super fun and very busy place to be for the summer in general and the Fourth of July is no exception. Next time you are heading to Chicago and looking for a great place to park your house, and you don’t mind boon-docking, look up McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard. We had a blast staying there. It is really close to everything. We felt very safe inside the gated and guarded parking lot and even enjoyed a fun Zombie Run around the place for exercise. My mother, sister and the four of us all stayed here and even set up chairs in the parking lot to watch the trains go by. This place is right across from the lake and easy access to all things Chicago. On the day my sister left we watched her train whiz by and waved at her for a funny family memory. While we were in Chicago, some very good friends we met in Bahrain happened to be in the area during the same weekend and stopped in for a visit and to see our new home. It was just an all around thumbs up kinda stay. My Mom and sister even gave me the much sought after approval to my lifestyle by saying they can see now why we love this way of life. Our stay here included shows, museums and a local neighborhood Rib Fest. The McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard is a parking lot, so no frills, but for location and price it more than makes up the difference.
I am super happy with the results of our remodeled home. My sister helped out with the choices and after much sewing and painting we have a very nice and comfy home on wheels. The pictures really don’t do it justice, but here are some closeups of my favorite things we did. If you want to see the comparisons head over to the Our Tiny Home tab where you can see the before and after shots. The bedroom has a tiny projector that flips up out of the way under the cornice and then flips down and gives us a huge screen to watch while we lay in bed. I found a great ottoman that the lid flips to be a seat or foot rest, then a coffee table too. I have a place to clip recent photos in my bedroom that reminds me life is good. And finally I have canvases all over the RV that are attached with velcro so that I can have works in progress the whole time we are on the road. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Now it’s time to head to Alaska.
Our next stop on our journey was to visit with my dad and grandmother. Not being sure when we will return to Texas, we decide to stay a little over a week and really enjoy the visit time. My favorite part of this trip is having our home with us every where we go. Often times when we are in a place that otherwise may be uncomfortable to my family, we have a place to retreat, to just relax and lay our head on our own pillow and fall into a sound sleep. It makes visit time with friends and family more pleasant for everyone involved. At least from my perspective it allows for the folks being visited to prepare less and feel less pressure to clean, feed and otherwise care for us and it allows us to let our children’s picky palettes always have food outside and when we need our space, it is just a few steps outside the back door. We had such a visit at my dad’s place and it was an easy way to enjoy our first days on the road. We also managed to clear away a few more unnecessary items and clean and organize with my dad’s help.
We did it. We actually left Fort Worth and headed south pulling our home behind us. We are now officially a full-time RV family. I am pinching myself to see if it’s really true. The fact is that I am so tired from all the final preparations I think I could sleep through a pinch. We are driving down the road and everything feels strange. It could be the fact that the trailer is not hooked up properly, or it could be that we are realizing what we have done, the good, the bad and all the rest. My son said it this way, “I keep thinking after a while we will go home, then I remember, our home is behind us. Actually right behind us”.
So, here are some initial thoughts and things I’ve learned on our full-time adventure so far. Never rush to get out without making sure the trailer is hooked up properly and balanced. This causes white knuckles on a steering wheel driving down the highway. It also makes it difficult to stop. There aren’t plentiful places where it is tall and wide and level enough to land for anything that is not an emergency. When we finally found an acceptable place to stop, we were all desperate for fuel, food and a restroom. If the map says you will arrive in three hours, eighteen minutes, add at least an hour. When life changes this drastically, there are smiles and tears sometimes at the same time. The happiest moments are the ones we realize we are free. Really, really free. There are laws of course, but we have no boss, no hours, no schedule and no commitments. We are together and happy and healthy. Today actually feels like the first day of the rest of my life. I realize tomorrow may feel different, but today it is an amazing feeling to be starting a brand new adventure one we have dreamed and talked about for nearly seven years. When we decided a few hours into the trip to change the plans, we just did it, found a cool place to land and in just a few minutes we were sleeping in our own beds everything we needed already unpacked and with us. Today is a great day. It is cold and wet and not ideal weather for an RVer… but we did it. We are actually out here living our dream.