It was odd to be returning to our hometown, but to not have our home to return to. I wondered what it would be like to drop back into our lives, trying to pick up the threads of relationships after a year’s absence. I questioned whether I would still even like Ashland. Our last memories of Ashland were of the dreadful two weeks we spent trying to wrap up loose ends a year ago—including countless hours in a tiny storage unit in a relentless heat wave. Those are not pleasant memories.
As we wound through the high mountains of the Siskiyou Pass and dropped down into the golden hills of the Rogue Valley—a journey that we’ve made countless times—we both remarked that even after a year away and all of the gorgeous landscapes and places we’ve seen, we still know why we chose Ashland as our home so many years ago—twenty for me, and more than thirty for Eric.
That’s a long time to live somewhere, and our roots run deep. We were most definitely looking forward to seeing friends. As much as we’ve enjoyed our year of travels—and the new friends that we’ve made on the road—we’ve missed our friends in Ashland. Leaving behind our community of fun loving and loving friends was the most difficult part for us in making the decision to travel full-time.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry about reconnecting with friends. It was as almost as though we had never left. We had numerous invitations to park our little trailer at the homes of various friends and almost daily invites for dinners, music gatherings, hikes, and other get-togethers. We visited many of our favorite places—hiking Mt. Ashland, Grizzly Peak, and Lithia Park; kayaking at Rocky Point; wine tasting at local vineyards; a concert at the Britt Festival. Ashland is a wonderful town, and we had a fabulous homecoming.
A bit overwhelming were the dozens upon dozens of chance encounters with acquaintances in the food co-op, at the farmer’s market, in the park, or on the street—with the invariable comment, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while!” We got to the point of just smiling and saying, “Nice to see you!”—unless we were prepared for a lengthy conversation. If we said, “We’ve been traveling for a year,” then people naturally asked what we were doing, why, where, how, and what was our favorite place that we’ve visited. Which is a very good question, but one that we can’t seem to answer. We couldn’t even muster a coherent response when someone said, “Okay then, so what were your top three favorite places?” Eric and I just looked helplessly at each other. “How about your top ten?” At that point, we just rattled off a bunch of places we’ve been in the past year that we loved—Lopez Island, Yellowstone, Santa Fe, Apalachicola, Cedar Key, Gulf Shores, Breaux Bridge, New Orleans, Sierra Vista, Great Basin…and left out at least as many as we named.
Undoubtedly, part of my resistance to returning to Ashland had to do with the myriad of appointments awaiting us, none of which were fun, unless you happen to enjoy visiting the dentist/doctor/accountant. (I don’t.) We also had thrice weekly veterinarian appointments for our kitty, who at 19 is making up for all of her years as a cheap date. We had planned on spending two weeks in Ashland; instead, we were there for five weeks—mostly because I unhappily discovered that I had a poorly behaved tooth that had to be extracted. (I’m now in the long, expensive process of a tooth implant.)
When we embarked on our full-time traveling lifestyle in June of 2013, we weren’t sure how it was going to play out. So we rented our home for a year (to a wonderful couple) and put our personal belongings in storage. Friends ask if we miss our home. There are times that I miss having more space (after all, we’re living in a 21’ trailer). I miss having a place for friends to gather, our cozy fireplace in winter, our gardens, our big kitchen for cooking. And sometimes I miss seeing our “stuff”—the interesting things we’ve collected over the years in our travels that are now squirreled away in boxes. But overall, we are very happy that we made the decision to travel full-time.
In fact, we’re so certain that this is the right choice (for now, at least) that we’ve rented our home for another year—to the same wonderful couple—and are starting another round of adventures. This next year looks a bit different than we had planned—we need to stick pretty close to the west coast because of my many upcoming dental appointments. But that’s life, on or off the road. We’ve learned that traveling fulltime isn’t one big long vacation. It’s simply real life—albeit in a very small living space with a much bigger backyard and frequent changes of scenery.
We’re happy you’ve accompanied us thus far on our journey. It’s been a delight hearing from friends, old and new, both via comments and emails. We look forward to many more shared adventures—virtually and in person—down the road. Next stop: Lopez Island![portfolio_slideshow]