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!
Welcome Home! I have been following you since before you went on your adventure! We live outside of Seattle, but my parents are in Spokane and we love CDA! Thrilled for you all to have made a decision to stay “local!” I will be continuing to follow both your blogs and wishing you success in your new home!
Thank you so much Heather!
Absolutely loved following along on all your adventures! What a fantastic year it’s been for you and your family! You’ve given your children memories that they will always cherish. Best of luck with all the new adventures in the coming year. New place to live, new job, new school…still so much to look forward to. We look forward to following where you and your family and your little airstream continue to take you on vacations.
Heather Jones says
Welcome to CdA!I’ll be glad to call you neighbor. My brother is a buyer agent for a well known group here, the Joel Pearl Group. If you want a hard working, honest guy, look him up, Jeff Kreis. Looking forward to all the local CdA deals you find me!!!
Cheryl I says
Just wanted to say that I have also been loyally following you since you’ve embarked on your journey. Thank you for sharing your life story and introducing me to the world of “airstreaming.”
Robin Smith says
Thanks for the update! What a great place to settle down. We found Couer d’Alene to be a jewel in the Gem State on our year-long road trip adventure. We’ll definitely continue to follow your travel blog.
Lorna Hoff says
The Hoff’s are thrilled to have your family so close. We have watched your journey and have been so proud of your adventures. Of course, there are many adventures yet for you guys and we hope to be part of at least a few of them. Continue to follow your dreams and not settle for less. Welcome home to Couer d’ Alene!
Lorna Hoff says
Could be Coeur d’Alene will be easier for you to spell right every time. 🙂 CDA works best for me.
I’ve loved seeing all of your travel adventures, thanks for sharing! What wonderful memories you must’ve created along the way! Good luck in your new home, excited for you & your family!
Deborah Troop says
I have enjoyed reading your travels as I have known the family since about Jr high. Now is a time for kids becoming more stable and joining in all the various groups. And I am sure Rick and Melinda will be happy to have you closer. Look forward to further blogs.
Jennifer Schmidt says
Will love having you in Coeur d’Alene. (I’m jenjava88 from instagram with the orthodontist recommendation (-:). If you need a realtor, I know plenty! Can hook you up with other recommendations too.
You were very smart not to move to the People’s Republic of PDX for all the reasons you mentioned, and more. It used to be a nice town.
I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventures on the road and wish you many more miles of happy travels.
So happy for your family! Praying for a smooth transition for you. Good luck in your new adventure of a “typical” life!
Kathy Bennett says
I actually know of a farm house in Hauser right outside of Post Falls. On acreage with outbuildings and pasture land. In the $270,000 range.
Please tell me more Kathy! Hauser is on our list of places to watch!
DeAnn O says
Try searching the John L. Scott offerings in Coeur d’Alene. Here’s a cute one: http://www.johnlscott.com/Home/16-7391/CDC/1820-THOMAS-LN-E-Coeur-d'Alene-ID-83815/
Well I’m bummed you won’t be settling in Vancouver USA/Portland area, your housing price & Portland traffic concerns are valid cause for reservation. However, I’m thrilled the Queen Bee is coming back to her NW hive. Looking forward to seeing good things to come from your honey factory.
P. S. It made me smile reading about your husband landing a job. We may have different beliefs as to the Why, but most everyone can agree things have a way of working out. Congrats!
I have really enjoyed following your journey across America! What fabulous memories your kids will grow up with and experiences so few kids will ever have the pleasure of participating in. You and your husband have done an incredible job in fostering a great childhood for both of them. Best wishes to you in your next adventure!
Debra Flick says
Sounds like a solid decision that will benefit your family .A small house will feel like a mansion . We lived in our 19′ Bambi for 6 months before moving into a 600sq.foot home.It was fun reading about your adventures even tho I didn’t follow the full year.Your children have experienced this beautiful country in a way many can only dream of . There will always be another exit ahead!
Good for you! You did it! And, while your efforts in maintaining the blog may seem thankless, you are an inspiration.
Your post today was apropos to us. While we left Seattle on June 16th, we leave family today and launch on our Big Big Trip. The decision to make the jump to full timing as a family is large, I do not have to tell you that. I would imagine that the decision to stop is almost as anxiety provoking. So, congratulations!
We will look forward to watching the direction you take with your beautiful family. I can only hope to get busy and launch a blog as inspiring as yours. Well done 🙂
Carol B says
Congratulations on the boldness and peace of your decision!. We would love to move to the CDA area, in fact, we tried this past spring, but it didn’t feel like the right time. Enjoy escaping I-5; honestly, I’m seriously jealous about your freedom from its clutch! (I’m in Gig Harbor.) Would love to continue following your adventures, settled or otherwise. Thanks for sharing your life this past year.
I grew up in the Spokane Valley and spent a lot of time in Idaho, you’ve made a wonderful choice. Congratulations on the move, the job and blessings to your family!
Long time reader here.
Wow. It is a really small world. My sister and her family (hubby, 7 yr old son, newborn) JUST moved to Post Falls, ID less than 2 weeks ago from the Bay Area, CA. They found a house back in April fairly easily (I think). I can potentially put you in contact with them if you want. They may be able to help in some way (my brother in law is from the area).
I loved all of your posts over the past year. I would like to know if you will be blogging about the actual costs each month during your travels versus what you budgeted.The information about where you were and what you did was an excellent blueprint for future traveling. Thanks for helping all of us who are not ready to cut the cord experience a wonderful year of traveling.
How cool! We are from the coast of Washington and never thought we’d like Spokane. But the air force thought otherwise and we love it now. Our end goal is cda or Post Falls, its so beautiful! Good luck on the house hunt!
Ours is for sale! http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/866-E-War-Eagle-Ave-Athol-ID-83801/113146791_zpid/?fromHomePage=true
Becky Gembala says
Thank you for the update! I can’t wait to see where your new adventures take us all!
We have a 1700 sf 3 bedroom on 10 acres near silverwood for 260k! Come take a look! We’ve been in CDA for over 20 years, but are now moving to MT.
Debbie Madden says
I followed your journey from the beginning and enjoyed each and every post. So wished we were able to do the same when our children were young. This has now become our dream once we retire. I hope you keep your blog open because I still review it often looking at campground info, camping tips, etc. Best of luck to you and your family. Happy trails to all.
Mickey C. says
God Bless all of you. I think you made the right decision for each one of you. You have so many years ahead, where there will be a lot more camping and touring. You are all so lucky to have experienced the past year’s adventures, and I wish you, many, many more ahead!!
I have enjoyed watching your travels across the country Heather. I totally understand why you do not like the traffic on the Westside of the mountains of our beautiful state and understand why you have settled in CDL, ID. The Eastside looks better to me too. I am not brave enough to take that that step though! I met you at the Yelm Library many years ago, thank you for all for money-saving tips you shared with us you have saved so much money and taught me so much and I have passed your tips on! Take care.
Noooo! I just started following your blog! We hope to embark with our 9/10 y olds this fall. You’ve provided such valuable, practical insight. Thank you!
I’m glad things are working out for you!
Are you interested in selling your Airstream?
All the very best!
I was reading another blog which happened to mention the fact a family of 4 was going on a year’s trip around the country in an airstream. Since this has always been a dream of mine I looked you up and started reading your blog. Starting with making the decision, selling the house and divesting your old life to start a new one.
And then the adventure began. Your blogs were so well written and your pictures so beautiful, I felt like I was there. I felt your frustration when the airstream could not get fixed correctly and felt concerned when spending the night in the bathhouse. But mostly I felt how beautiful this country of ours is.
So a big thank you for sharing your life/journey with us. I do not know if I will ever travel in an airstream but in some ways I feel I already have.
Excited for your family’s new adventure in a new place. And secretly glad that you might continue to take trips around school schedules and next summer! Thank you for sharing your adventures. It has been really fun to read all about them.
Fred Polgardy says
This is so much where are at right now! We’ve been on the road for just over a year, and we and the kids have both been feeling ready to settle. Not being RVers, we’ve also been feeling our rental choices becoming more and more constrained, and that half the time we’re just picking places because they’re available, and not because it’s where we wanted to be. You have to do what’s right for you at the right time. Good luck!