No matter how organized we think we are, it’s always a tornado of activity: various appointments, projects on our trailer, maintenance on our home, and most important, spending time with good friends. Long walks, afternoon coffee, wine tasting, cozy dinners, playing music, creative projects, cutthroat games of Hearts, shoe shopping with my girlfriends (yes, really), deep conversations, and so much love and hilarity—we are blessed with extraordinary friends.
I’m grateful that no matter how many times we leave, we’re lovingly welcomed home. As we fall back into the familiar, comfortable embrace of our friends, our community, and the beauty of our town, I once again feel conflicted about leaving. This, too, is familiar. As much as I love adventure and travel and new experiences, I cherish community and relationships woven from years of shared experiences.
These are friends who have been with us through the best and the worst of life. It’s difficult to say goodbye, knowing that we’re missing out on the joys of sharing daily life, and it’s hard knowing that we’re not going to be there should life challenges arise. We have close friends who have experienced significant health crises in the past couple of years, and we haven’t been there to provide support in a tangible way.
To further complicate and enrich our lives, we’ve made deep and abiding friendships on Lopez Island, which has been our summer home for eight years. And in our travels, we’ve made “forever friends” with whom we stay connected, no matter how far-flung we all happen to be. And we have our families on opposite coasts. While our travels make it easier to spend time with everyone, it never seems like quite enough time with anyone.
There is so much we still want to do, and traveling fulltime is what suits us best for now. Time is speeding by, and the reality is that this is our window of opportunity in this lifetime to travel in this way.
Leaving our hometown was especially poignant this time because we won’t be circling back to Ashland next fall. We’ve set our sights on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island next summer, followed by fall in New England. We won’t return to Ashland until late spring of 2020. That’s a long time away—and it’s also the blink of an eye.
We pulled out of town yesterday afternoon, heading for Florida via a leisurely route. We have lots of new adventures planned along the way before arriving at my folks’ home in early February. Meanwhile, I still have a few posts from the past to catch up on (so much for my intention to be caught up before leaving Ashland!).
We’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Point Reyes this year, a place we’ve been wanting to return to since our first visit back in 2015. On the menu are Apricot Glazed Cornish Hens, wild rice pilaf, roasted Brussels sprouts and yams, an arugula-orange salad, and my favorite Cranberry Chutney. It’s not Thanksgiving without that cranberry chutney, although with just the two of us, we’ll be eating it for a week.
Along with feasting and relaxing, we’ll walk on the foggy bluffs high above the ocean and allow gratitude for this great gift of life to wash over us yet again.
Happy Thanksgiving! And a poem by Mary Oliver, our favorite poet:
~by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
Reading your posts always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. 8^)
Aw, thanks, JC! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I love Mary Oliver and that poem is perfect for Thanksgiving. I may just have to borrow your idea for my blog post tomorrow… :)
I am eager to read about all your adventures on PEI and in Nova Scotia. I long to travel there, as well as Ontario (I was born in Ottawa) and Alberta (we lived north of Calgary & Edmonton when I was a little girl). It seems like a long way from our Oregon coast home, though… Our window of opportunity isn’t wide, but we still have time. My husband is 66 and I turn 57 next month. I hope we continue to be healthy and active for many years to come, but one never knows. We will be back on the road next spring & summer, hopefully up to Vancouver Island for a few months. We cruised the San Juans several years ago on my dad’s 48′ Richardson and fell in love with living on island time. I can’t wait to go back to Friday Harbor, Cowichan, Sidney, etc.
Enjoy your feast for two (everything sounds delicious) and safe travels!
Les, you’re right—it’s a very long way from Oregon to PEI and Nova Scotia, which is why it has taken us a few years to make the commitment to head there. We’ll miss our summer on Lopez Island and our fall visit to Ashland, but we’re very excited!
Cruising around the San Juan Islands sounds fabulous. It’s one of our favorite areas in this country. We also loved Vancouver Island—we spent almost six weeks there in the fall of 2017 and had a blast. Here’s to many more adventures for all of us!
We are so glad that you stopped in Montesano to say hi this summer and we wish you smooth roads and happy trails on this next adventure. Happy Thanksgiving and Holidays!
Riley & Karen, we had such a great time reconnecting with you two! We look forward to catching up with you again and hearing all about your latest exotic adventures. Happy Thanksgiving and holidays to you, as well!
We share your feelings about home and leaving it but we know in our bones we’ll never live there full time again. The road calls.There are so many things, big and small, to see and experience.
Please stop at the lake on your way to PEI if it suits your travel plans. We’ll be there this summer but then, we too, will skip a summer there in order to get to some “summer only” places. The “window” opening gets smaller each year.
Your poem is lovely and absolutely perfect. Happy Thanksgiving!
Sue, that is a wonderful offer! We would love to see you guys at your beautiful lake house. We need to get out the map and start planning our route—although summer seems far away, it’s not!
Wondering when you skip your summer at the lake if you’re planning to visit the San Juan Islands? We would love to see you there. :-)
I’m sure you’re enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving feast. Hope we get to see you before next summer!
Hi Laurel and Eric,
I was so hoping we’d run into you on the road or at home in Ashland. We also travel in our Arctic Fox-same model and year as yours and live in Ashland. We aren’t the full-time travelers that you are-more the snowbird type and will be heading to Borrego Springs in a couple of weeks. I’d still love it if we did get to meet you. I do enjoy your blog and read regularly.
In this particular post I was very amazed at the photography. It’s always really good but these are in a class by themselves. And the Mary Oliver poem! Oh I wish I could write like that.
Nancy, I’m so disappointed we didn’t get to connect with you! Did I drop the ball? It was a crazy month and I wouldn’t be surprised if I did. I’m really sorry. Anyway, we would really like to meet up with you. So fun that we have the exact same trailers!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos. Ashland is such a photogenic place—and the fall colors are extraordinary, as you know. Mary Oliver is the best. :-)
I was so surprised at how much I loved Devils Tower. It really moved me. Then we went and stood in the center of the US. Can’t wait to hear about your new adventures
Pam, we were surprised at how much we loved Devils Tower, too. Where’s the center of the U.S.? How did I miss that? It’s not too late for you to write a blog about it. :-))
I always love seeing you when you drop into Ashland! And I am very grateful that you and Eric and I were able to get together for a walk around Emigrant Lake. (Thank you for identifying the bird call I hadn’t been able to figure out- that of the Common Poorwill as they circled around our yard late one summer evening!) I am so happy for you that you’re back on the road again! And I just can HARDLY wait to hear about your adventures to come in PEI (my part-time home for a few years a long time ago) and the beautiful Nova Scotia. Yay! That’s going to be so wonderful to read about!!! Take care and see you in 2020!
I’m so glad you were available for an Emigrant Lake hike, Janet. It’s always great to reconnect with you. And yay for Eric identifying the mystery bird call. He’s useful to have around. :-)
We’re excited about being back on the road (despite our sadness at leaving friends) and are super excited about our upcoming adventures. We’ll have lots to catch up on when we return to Ashland!
What a beautiful poignant post to share your humanity with us, thank you!
Thank you for your lovely comment, Terri. It’s good to hear from you.
While your Thanksgiving menu sounds delicious, I think you forgot the green bean and mushroom soup casserole. Obviously Thanksgiving would be ruined without this iconic dish so I didn’t want you to forget about it. You’re welcome. (Also – don’t forget the crunchy onions. They’re pretty much the key.)
On a slightly more serious note, having spent so much time with family recently, I can relate to everything you wrote here. Our life on the road is awesome, but our life with friends and family close by is also awesome. It’s just a different kind of awesome. And, unfortunately, those two concepts of life often do not play perfectly together. But, time is, indeed, fleeting and we have to do the best we can with the time we have. We just keep trucking along, trying to find the right balance. Maybe some day we’ll get it all figured out.
In the meantime, I am thankful this year – even more than other years – for all the wonderful friends we’ve made on the road who’ve helped get us through a difficult year.
Happy Thanksgiving to you both!
Laurel & Eric…you are loved!
See you in 2020!
Cyn & Kyle
Cyn & Kyle, we love you guys, too! So sweet to spend time with you, although it’s never enough. We’re looking forward to some travel adventures together come 2020! oxox
Laura, how could I have forgotten the green bean/mushroom soup/canned fried onion recipe? LOL! Thanks for the reminder. I must have misplaced it along with the marshmallow-topped canned sweet potato recipe.
There’s apparently no perfect solution to wanting to travel and wanting to be at home unless someone can figure out how we can live two lives at once. Meanwhile, as you said, we’re fortunate indeed to have so many good friends at home and on the road. So much to be grateful for.
Laurel I very much relate to this post. The lure of travel and taking the window of opportunity to do so now, this present moment, while we still can. And yet, not being there for family and with friends. In my case I really, really miss my sons. And yet I know I also give them the gift of independence and when we do reunite, I can see the growth and notice changes because I am not there day in and day out. I also like to “put my money where my mouth is”…ie I always tell my children to listen to their hearts and follow their passion in life.
Ooh Point Reyes – so gorgeous. Happy thanksgiving to both you lovely people!
Peta, I appreciate your comment and your understanding of the dilemma of balancing our passion for travel with our desire to spend extended time with family and friends. I like what you said about encouraging your sons to listen to their hearts and to follow their passions in life. We’ve given the same message to our daughter, and she’s an inspiration to us with her ability to manifest her dreams!
We love Point Reyes! It’s one of our favorite places we visited. Hugs to you, as well!
Such a gorgeous header picture. Where is it? Doesn’t look like Point Reyes. Boy do I envy you Thanksgiving there. What a wonderful place. I don’t have as much trouble leaving my hometown as I don’t have the same wonderful sounding network of friends that you do. But I feel the pressure of traveling while I can quite acutely especially in my situation. You’ve chosen a perfect Mary Oliver poem and one of my favorites. Your summer and fall plans make my green eyed monster jump up.
I’m glad you like the header photo, Sherry—it’s in Ashland, and is our view from our friends’ property where we stay. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot, and changes with every season.
I know you understand wanting to take advantage of the “window of opportunity” for travel and adventure, particularly in the active ways that we enjoy. I’ll be coming to you for suggestions for our Maine adventures!
Isn’t that a lovely Mary Oliver poem? She really speaks to my soul.
Such a perfect poem to read on a Thanksgiving morning. I also loved the leaves at Lithia Park. It is a beautiful fall. I can see how you would miss home, but I’ll bet you won’t miss the smoke if it comes next summer. Happy travels to Florida. Our reservations at St Joe Peninsula were refunded, I guess it isn’t open after Michael. I am a bit concerned about wandering that way but we are bookended on either side of that week in early February. Working now on getting something at Indian Pass. I do hope your family in Appalachicola is doing ok.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the Mary Oliver poem, Sue. Her poetry always brings me such a sense of peace and gratitude.
It has been a gorgeous, long, colorful fall in Ashland. But you’re right, we’re not going to miss being there in the summer. We’ve been on Lopez Island every summer and haven’t had to deal with the smoke-filled skies of recent years. :-(
Thanks for asking about my mom and dad—they’re doing well. But as you know, there is complete devastation not 30 miles from Apalachicola. I’m so sorry that you’re having to look for another place to stay now—have you tried the RV parks in Carrabelle? They look nice but are pricey. I’m hoping we’ll see you in Florida!
“…. which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.” Why we roam! Oh so thankful for our meet this summer
Doesn’t Mary Oliver just say it perfectly, Leah? You chose the line that speaks most directly to my soul. So grateful that we met up on the island this summer, too. :-)
Very fitting post for this day of giving thanks. Lithia Park looks especially lovely with the fall colors.
Any chance you will be coming near Jojoba Hills as you work your way to FL??
Gayle, knowing you two are there, I wish we were traveling near Jojoba Hills so that we could finally meet up! But we’re only going as far south as Morro Bay in California and then heading to Death Valley.
Enjoy your time at home! I think we need to plan to meet up because we keep missing each other.
Beautiful photos and writing, Laurel. Shelly and I feel the same about the lure of travel- although I miss the community that home offers more than him. We are thankful to be in Tucson this week and will travel next week to the Phoenix foothills. Hoping that we can connect with you and Eric before we head to Chicago for the holidays. (Just made reservations yesterday for an April visit to El Chorro Regional Park and Pismo beach!)
Thank you, Pat. I know many fulltime travelers don’t miss “home” at all, but we do. And yet, the call of the road and adventures still prevails!
We’re definitely hoping to meet up with you and Shelly while we’re near Phoenix. I think we’ll be close enough to each other to make it happen!
Meanwhile, we’re heading to El Chorro next week for several days. We love that park and the entire area!
FYI: The Watson’s will be in the area 12/9-15….I’m hoping we can do a three-way meet up.
That would be fun! We’ll be at McDowell Mountain on the 15th. :-)
Happy Thanksgiving you two! We are thankful that all of our family is still intact. It’s been a roller coaster for awhile but this morning my heart is a bit lighter. Wish we could have gotten together but sometimes life gets in the way. Safe travels until we meet again.
Oh, Brenda, we’re so glad to know that your grandma and family are doing well. We’ll plan on seeing you and Morey when we’re back in Oregon. Take good care, and let’s stay in touch!
Laurel and Eric- Point Reyes looks like a beautiful place! You know all the good spots! and wonderful pictures of southern Oregon- thank you.
Your Thanksgiving menu sounds wonderful- doing all that cooking in your RV? Or are you having it catered?
We decided to try something other than turkey this year. Making lamb stuffed quince, roasted delicata squash with pomegranates, pan seared brussels sprouts finished with vermouth, oven roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic and rosemary, and for dessert, Georgina is preparing an apple/raisin galette with apricot/grand marnier glaze, and a pumpkin tart topped with “green” sweet walnuts. Before all that, the first course (soup) is a red lentil spicy (coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, cayenne, lemon) soup topped with a touch of yogurt and cilantro. Wine unites it all!
Love, Safe Travels and Happy Thanksgiving to you! -Tom & Georgina
Tom & Georgina, we want to come to YOUR house for dinner!! We already know what fantastically creative cooks you are, but you’ve outdone yourselves with this menu.
Hugs to you both—we’ll be missing you on Lopez next summer, but we’ll be back for more good times together. Oh, and happy retirement to you both! Obviously, neither one of you is going to have any problem filling your time with all kinds of wonderful pursuits. :-)
So nice to visit with you in the present:) It is nice to know where you actual are:) I am hoping we will be spending some time in Ashland this spring as we move from Nevada towards the Northern Cascades. Everyone always has such wonderful things to say about your home town. And your photos are so spectacular. It just never seems to be on the route. So, hopefully, 2019 will be the year! We are enjoying Boulder City but are looking forward to heading out again. Eight years of nonstop travel was wonderful, but a little rest is also sweet. Our longest stay anywhere was a month (except a two month Florida stay once). We loved our visits to the Maritimes!! You are going to have such fun. We are so looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks!!! Safe travels!!
Pam, I’m bummed that the year you’re going to make it to Ashland, we’re not going to be there!! But we’re going to see you in Boulder City soon, and that makes us happy. :-))
We’ve enjoyed breaking up our travels with our two-month stays on Lopez Island in the summers and a month in Ashland every year—this is going to be different for us, staying on the move for 18 months. We’re excited about the adventures ahead! This will be our first time in the Maritimes—we’re planning for all of July and August so we’re hoping that will give us enough time to explore in depth. We’ll be asking you for ideas.
Love this poem! It’s all about balance, let me know when you figure it out!! Great post
Debbie, I think there are some things in life that I’ll always feel equally drawn to—like home and travel. I suppose it’s a good problem to have, right? Mary Oliver’s words always bring me back to the present, and that seems to help. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Mary Oliver’s poem speaks out for me, how fitting!
We do have lots to be thankful for especially the gift of life.
Not having a fixed home to go home to makes it more challenging and wonderful at the same time.
So excited to know you are heading east to your other home for that’s our chance to catch up again! And I’m equally excited that you are going to the Canadian Maritimes, one of my favorite places to visit.
It looks like you had a great thanksgiving, cheers to you and Eric!
ML, you’re right, we do have a lot to be thankful for! We’re looking forward to seeing you guys in Florida this winter. And we’re definitely excited about traveling to the Maritimes next summer. I know you’ll have lots of great ideas for us!
I so can relate to how torn you are, having close friends in so many places, family in another part of the country, and so many travel places still on the bucket list. We have added to our list as international travel has begun to interest us so much. 2019 looks to be a very exciting travel year for the two of you. I look forward to following along on your adventures as this is a trip we still would like to make. It sounds like you and Eric had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks for the Mary Oliver poem. Her words always resonate with me.
Hopefully we all have many more adventures ahead of us.
LuAnn, I’d like to do more international travel, too, but I’m not sure we can fit that in with everything else! Here’s to many more adventures for all of us—we’ll have fun tagging along with you wherever you go!
As usual, beautifully put and the poem is a bonus delight. A belated happy Thanksgiving though your words make me realize we should be thankful everyday. We are so excited to hear of your plans for Nova Scotia and PEI. We went in 2016 (along with Newfoundland). The people and the land of the Maritime provinces are so fantastic. Enjoy all the sites, sounds, and tastes (best lobster ever!). We will miss you on Lopez. Maybe a wild hair will strike and we’ll fly out to see you this summer!
Thank you, Wayne & Karen! So happy to hear from you—we hope you do fly out to visit us in Nova Scotia/PEI this summer. We would have a blast together! You’re right, we do have so much to be grateful for, including good friends such as you two. :-)
Five and a half years, wow! I’m glad you two are doing what you love. Love you both!
Thanks, darlin’! We can’t quite believe that it’s been five and a half years, either. We’re certainly grateful for the times we get to spend with you and Fin. We’re happy you’re doing what you love, too. Love you so much!
We just accepted a intrepative guide position at Jessie M Honeyman State Park in Oregon and are very excited….first visit to your home state. I also am needing cataract surgery and looking at getting it done the month of June prior to stating the volunteer gig. Do you have any recommendations for any eye surgeons in any place other than Portland? Thanks