We have been neglecting the blog and Instagram the last couple weeks as we spend quality time with friends and family here in the Tacoma/Olympia (Washington) area. It’s been wonderful being “home” and seeing people we haven’t seen in more than a year.
The last month has been a major period of transition and decision making for us. When we started our journey last June we had originally planned to spend only a year on the road (June 2015 to June 2016). But then we loved it so much. . .we started to consider a second year. There is just so much of this beautiful country we haven’t seen yet.
We spent the last few months going back and forth – should we keep traveling or should we settle down?
By the time we reached Zion National Park in late May we were finding ourselves anxious, irritable and frustrated. We couldn’t figure out why we were feeling so discontent even though we were in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
And after many nights of discussion and consideration, it was in Zion that we decided we should STOP traveling after our year was up.
Making the decision was the HARDEST thing. The going back-and-forth. The debating the pros/cons. Weighing all our options over-and-over. Talking a lot with the kids about what they wanted. After we finally settled on the decision to stop traveling – it was a relief and we knew we made the right choice.
We decided to STOP traveling full-time for many reasons. . . .
The kids are ready to settle down. We noticed this spring. They loved being outside, loved seeing new places – but they were asking more for things like dance lessons, basketball practice and a room of their own. The extraordinary beauty of the national parks had somehow became completely ordinary to them. They never complained, always loved being outside and were happy, exploring kids. But we could tell they were ready for normal “kid stuff” again.
I needed to focus more on work. Working on the road was harder than I expected. Often I’d work while the kids were doing school but my blog traffic was down, revenue was down and I was having a hard time finding the motivation to work on the road. It was hard to juggle our travel blog with the needs of the blog that was paying our bills. I don’t want to go back to working 80-hours a week (which is what I was doing before traveling full-time) but I definitely need to be working more than I am now if I want to keep things sustainable and financially profitable.
Our health benefits were costing a LOT. We intentionally got a national health plan to make sure we had coverage across the country. But our Blue Cross plan costs $1,100/month and our deductibles are high. Hadley’s broken arm is thankfully healed but we’re approaching nearly $5,000 out of pocket for it. Our health insurance has been our biggest expense on the road, by far, and unfortunately it wasn’t going to be sustainable – especially if we had another big incident.
We were restricted by the school calendar. We probably could have squeezed in another 6 months of travel. But Jeremy, being a school teacher, would need to get a new job that started in September. If not this fall, then it would be another year before he’d be working again. Because of the need for better benefits, and revenue and traffic being down on my blog – we weren’t sure we wanted to wait another full year pulling from our nest egg that we were saving for a house.
A big part of us doesn’t want to stop traveling. We love the IDEALS of it. Choosing adventure and experiences over stuff. Quality time together as a family. Living our life on our own terms. It’s been a dream come true, it really has.
It’s important to note that we didn’t start traveling because we hate suburbia or because we were trying to escape suburbia forever. I’m extremely grateful for experiences like touring Washington DC or hiking the Grand Canyon – it’s added value to our lives. But I also completely understand why my five-year-old wants to take a gymnastics class with other five-year-olds – and I see value in that, too.
As part of our family discussions about moving back into a house (we had so many), I had the kids draw their “dream bedroom” if we settled back into a house. It could be ANY TYPE of room, with ANYTHING in it. I expected drawings of BIG bedrooms full of toys or fancy playthings . You know what they wanted in their dream bedrooms!? A bed, a desk, a lamp. . . nothing fancy decorations or piles of toys . . they simply want their own space. I respect that. I get it. Now . . .if I had them draw their “dream bedroom” a year and a half ago, before we had this experience – I’m certain they’d have different expectations. (See a tour of the kid’s bunk space in the Airstream)
As a mother I’ve seen firsthand how this last year of travel has changed my kids. Their eyes have been opened to how diverse, vast and amazing our country is. They have a better appreciation for things we used to take for granted – things like unlimited internet, cable TV, long hot baths . . . but most importantly they have a better appreciation for each other.
We are changed forever and for that we are so lucky.
Kayakers near Tubb’s Hill, downtown Coeur d’Alene
So what’s next?
Of all the places we’ve visited we’ve decided to move to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
We love the lakes, the mountains, the close proximity to the “big city” of Spokane. It’s close enough to drive “home” to the Puget Sound to see Jeremy’s parents. And a short drive to Montana, which we also love. I also have family in Coeur d’Alene – my grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin and her family. It felt like the right choice – for all of us.
A year ago we were thinking we’d settle in Portland, Oregon – but the cost of living is much higher there, the public school system is struggling, and the traffic/crowds made us uneasy. And being back in Olympia has been nice – but honestly, the traffic here has been RIDICULOUS – we have spent HOURS in the last two weeks sitting on I-5. I don’t remember it being this bad. The Puget Sound will always hold a special place in our heart but we’re ready to try somewhere new.
Hadley paddle boarding last summer near Coeur d’Alene
So we’re house shopping in Coeur d’Alene.
We’ve bought and sold two houses in the Olympia area. But this time around, we’re looking for something a little different. We’re okay with a SMALLER house – 800 square feet even sounds palatial after a year in a 180 square feet! So we are considering small houses in downtown Coeur d’Alene that are walking distance to the library, the park, the lake. But we are also thinking about a small house on property – out of town a bit – where we can garden, get chickens again, maybe even goats. . .and park the Airstream.
We go back and forth between both options. We’ve been house shopping officially for nearly a six weeks and nothing feels just right, yet. If you know anyone in Coeur d’Alene (or surrounding areas) with a groovy house (or land) for sale or going to sell soon . . .please let us know! We would LOVE to put an offer on our house soon so we can get closed and moved in BEFORE school starts after Labor Day.
And speaking of school, Jeremy GOT A TEACHING JOB at Post Falls High School for this upcoming fall. That’s a story all in itself. After leaving Zion we pulled into Coeur d’Alene on the evening of May 12 and Jeremy got a call from the Post Falls High School Vice Principal the following MORNING. No joke. He had an interview Monday, May 16 and they offered him the job on the spot. He’ll be teaching Special Education at Post Falls High School. He also joined the coaching staff for the Post Falls High School JV football team – and has already started with summer football camp a couple weeks ago. We couldn’t BELIEVE how quickly things happened in terms of securing a job for the fall – and we really believe it was affirmation from the universe that we were in the right place for this season in our lives.
Whew. We’ve had so much to tell you . . .but it’s almost like we needed to process the transition internally before we were ready to share publicly. Later this morning we tow our Airstream back over I-90 to Coeur d’Alene and start aggressively looking for a house. Until we close on a house we plan to live in our Airstream locally.
I’d LOVE for us to put an offer on something soon so we can escape for a month to Montana (or Canada?) with the Airstream for a few more adventures before Jeremy has to be back for football practice around mid-August. Until we find a place we’ll be sticking close to town so we can be available to tour places that might pop up (the good places are going FAST). We plan to keep you updated on that progress now that we’ve spilled the beans.
You haven’t heard the last of us. We’ll be traveling as much as we can – in between work and school. We plan to keep the Airstream and I’m already scheming what our next summer might look like in terms of adventures. I still have a lot of blog posts I want to write about life on the road – budgets, Airstream tours, things we’ve learned, places we’ve seen (still need to post our East Coast adventures). . . .and I hope you’ll stick around for those posts.
THANK YOU for your patience with us. For supporting us. For cheering us on. For commenting. For sharing. For making us feel like we were traveling with a community – no matter where we were in the United States.
Do you have tips or suggestions for moving to the Coeur D’Alene area? Any leads on property, a house or an interesting local opportunity? If so – please leave a comment and let us know!