Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Jill's Journal: Originally we planned to fully move out of Lexington today, but Rob needed to devote a little extra time to his job (you know, the thing that makes all this possible!) so we decided to stay put for an extra day. (Normally, we’ll do our moves on the weekends, but this first week or two while we hustle to catch up to our original plans and the one place we have set reservations will be a little abnormal due to our earlier delays). The girls and I spent the day just bumming around the campground and getting organized, which was a fantastic way to spend a day.

Rob joined us for a nice walk before dinner and happened to spot a polo team practicing their sport. I’ve always wanted to go to a polo match, so this was an awesome substitute. Those polo “ponies” (they’re actually full-size horses of any breed, as long as they’re quick and agile and competitive) fly around the field. It’s definitely a contact spot and actually reminded me of hockey on horseback. How they don’t crash into each other is a mystery and how those riders manage to hit the ball and not the other horses or riders (while at a full gallop) is an even bigger mystery.

We came back to the trailer to enjoy flat-iron steak, corn on the cob, and fresh watermelon in the open air on a perfect, cool summer evening. We can definitely get used to this.

Photo Diary

Jill's Journal: Here's some pictures I wanted to share from the last few days:

Full moon over the pond one of the last nights at "the farm"

Rob and his amazing power/telephone/cable line fix

Our very first campsite!

Madelyn loving the golf cart

Making a new friend just the right size

The mighty Cigar

And at Man o' War's grave (America's greatest racehorse died in 1947 at the age of 30; he was embalmed and thousands attended his open-casket funeral which was also carried live across the nation via radio. His grave, as well as those of a number of his best offspring, was moved in the 1970s to the Horse Park when it opened.)

And they're off.....

Today is the first day I feel like we've finally started our adventure. All that before - that seemed to just be preparation. I'm finally finished cleaning, doing chores, and basically flogging my guts out working to get going... Last night, I actually got to do nothing but listen to music and drink beer.
As you can see, leaving was no easy task. When they paved the road at the farm they raised the height of it about 4", at the same time the wires have drooped over the driveway over the last several years. I called about getting it fixed back in April, and still can't get anyone that knows anything to talk with me. So - I made up my own solution with some scrap boards and two 16-foot 2 x 10's. It worked like a charm and though you can't see it, we cleared by a couple of feet. Yahoo!
Then off to the Horse Park we went. Even though I knew I still had a day of work to do, it was a good thing to get on the road. I slept better, I feel better, and I'm more social and happy than I've been in awhile. I think Jill likes the change. :) Yesterday for me was a final day of working through the stuff and I was able to make the progress I needed with no distractions or trouble. I threw out BAGS of stuff, donated some really, really nice electronics and the truck is so full that I can't see out of it, but at least now we are all in one place -- with all our stuff in one place as well. The next couple of days will be spent organizing tools and supplies, and going through the stuff in the truck. I have evenings free now - I can do that!

I'm finding that I'm much more physically active out here. Because I don't have pressing things to do at all hours, I've been walking a couple of miles a day. Once I get the bikes in shape I'll bike a lot as well. I wish I'd had it ready to ride here at KHP, but first things first. There's time for that. Today Erika and I went on a nice walk just the two of us. I think it made a big difference in her day - she loves one on one time. We also had a nice walk all five of us and got to watch some polo practice (which I'm sure Jill will blog about tonight). All in all a good day, with a good day of work as well. I'm going to like this life I think.

Tomorrow we are off to Louisville for me to do some much needed maintenance on servers and to visit some long-time friends. I'm doubtful I'll get to hang out too much, but the girls and Jill will get to, and that'll be good for them. After that I think we've got a couple of days reservations in Bardstown - a town which I pretty much know nothing about. We still don't know what's up with the 4th (can't find a place), but things will work out somehow, somewhere - that's kinda how we're being about this trip. No need to panic - worst case is a night in a parking lot and driving early the next day. No worries!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happiness and Contentment

Jill's Journal: Life is good. Correction: Life is great. We’ve been officially camping at our first sanctioned campground for not even 36 hours yet and tonight the girls caught their very first fireflies. How cool is that? These are the kind of memories we’re here to make. The excitement in their voices was absolutely infectious. Here they are with friends Leah and Alaina (all five girls were in various stages of holding fireflies in their hands!), whose wonderful parents drove up to the campground and brought us a farewell dinner tonight. We ate together, played together, swam together, and caught fireflies together. The girls absolutely loved watching those firefly rear-ends light up right in their hands!

As an aside, I’ve seen fireflies for the last 13 years here in Kentucky, but I had no idea you could catch the things at all, much less in your bare hands. Leah and Alaina’s Mom, Heather, thought it was hilarious I had no clue. I’m from the California desert, for Pete’s sake! No such thing as fireflies there. :)

We are quickly getting initiated into campground life. It’s friendly and welcoming, it’s a small-town feel, and it’s lovely. It took us a while to completely pack up and leave Nicholasville yesterday, but that will of course get quicker as we get more practice under our belts. My amazing husband handles that huge truck and accompanying 42’ fifth wheel so adeptly that I’m in awe.

We had a situation as we left Rob’s Mom’s property…the best way I can explain it is that the road leaving her driveway has been repaved/raised and the power line, telephone line, and cable line are hanging too low. The raised road and low lines meant we didn’t have enough clearance to get the rig out. Repeated phone calls to the owners of the lines resulted in no action. So Rob fashioned up two 16-foot “lifts” to raise the lines long enough for him to drive out. It completely freaked me out, but it was an amazing fix. We laughed later at the thought that flashed through my mind at the time, “Please don’t get electrocuted. I can’t drive the fifth wheel yet!!”

It felt so wonderful to pull into our designated spot at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground in North Lexington and get completely hooked up. The girls immediately spotted the playground and made themselves at home. We all enjoyed dinner outside in the fresh air and a swim before bedtime. Perfection.

Today was even better. Rob headed back down to Nicholasville to completely wrap up all the projects at his mother’s and is so relieved to now be D-O-N-E with everything he’d taken on down there. The girls and I took advantage of our proximity to the Horse Park and took one of the campground’s golf carts over there for the day. It was all horses, all day, everything from miniature mares with their foals (oh my gosh, what is cuter than a 10-week old baby horse the size of a large puppy?!) to massive English Shires. We paid a special visit to multiple champion Cigar, the top dog at the Hall of Champions, where I admit I got a little teary-eyed saying goodbye to him. He enjoyed my scratches on his nose and looked at me with that sharp, eagle eye like I was a fool for getting a little emotional. But if it wasn’t for his perfect 10-for-10 campaign in 1995 that got me so hooked on horse racing, I don’t know if we would have ever been in Kentucky in the first place. It’s been such an amazing ride and it’s all because of him. When I realized that he’s 20 now and this could be the very last time I ever see him, I felt a license to tear up a little bit.

The girls loved the horse-drawn trolley ride and visiting the great Man o’ War’s grave. But it was a moment in the International Museum of the Horse that took the cake. Madelyn, my least-horse crazy of the bunch, exclaimed, “Mommy, I LOVE this place. Can we come back here again and again? There are horses everywhere!”

After we capped the day with the great visit from great friends, the girls were in bed, and Rob returned for the last time from Nicholasville, he and I both agreed that we’re on the right path with this adventure that officially started yesterday. It’s been a long road getting to this point – selling our belongings and the massive preparation that goes into such a drastic life change. Most of it’s been smooth with just a little rockiness thrown in for good measure, but we never wavered from the goal and now we’re just so thrilled to be this far. We can’t wait to see where the road takes us and what adventures await. And most of all, we can’t wait to share it as a family. In the end, that’s the most important thing of all.

There’s Excitement in the Air

Jill's Journal: The sun officially rises at exactly 6:18am although it gets light considerably earlier. I know this because Erika woke me up out of excitement WELL before dawn this morning. I hated breaking it to her that check-in isn’t until 2pm! That disappointing news didn’t entice her back to her bed, however, especially when her little sisters were up very shortly after. Apparently everyone is excited!

Not a good end to a really good day...

I'm excited - we're out of this spot tomorrow to start our trip. I should be over the moon, but I've clearly tried to be too many things to too many people. Honestly, I shouldn't blog here, but its what I'm feeling - what I've been thinking about for the last 3 hours, so in reality - its exactly what I should blog about.

Then I wrote it, and saved it, and cut it out of this post. Clearly - for me, right now - trying to be all things to all people is too much. I'm very much looking forward to getting on the road. I'm very much looking forward to letting go of some (ok, a lot) of extra responsibility that shouldn't lie with me anyway. I'm very much looking forward to focusing on the things that really do matter, and getting the other stuff 'out the way'. It is 4 AM. In order to get out of here on time (and still make that sandwich shop, let alone get work done) I'm up in less than 4 hours). I'm not looking forward to coming back down because too much remains to be done while I try to be too many things, to too many people, but I'll have to - maybe both days...

Where is multiplicity when I need it (except for Doug 4 - I don't need a Doug 4)?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tomorrow is the Big Day!

Jill's Journal: The girls’ last full week in Lexington has looked something like this:

Beating the heat at two different aquatic centers (I do believe my fair-skinned babies are getting tans even through regular applications of sunscreen!)

Sightseeing with Mom while their poor Daddy slaves away

Dreaming about the day they’d see Toy Story 3 (which these poor, deprived children got to do this afternoon)

“Borrowing” Mommy’s camera and snapping pictures of her laughing with friends (I’ll spare you the ones of the tabletop, my knees, and 15 other random items)

And soaking up the natural beauty everywhere around us.

It’s been a very nice week, but we think tomorrow will be even nicer because we are officially hitting the road!! We aren’t going far on our first jaunt, just 20 miles north to the Kentucky Horse Park Campground, but we couldn’t be more excited. The short distance will test our sea legs, so to speak. We want to make sure the rig is sound, the tires are good, and all internal systems can handle travel. We also want to be sure the drawers, closets, etc. stay in place now that they're full. We figure (hope?) we can’t cause too much damage (knock on wood!) in 20 miles.

We’re planning on two nights at the Horse Park to decompress, relax, and fix any issues that might arise. And then, God willing, we’ll be on our way. No, really. Seriously! Hard to believe, I know. :)

Even the girls can’t believe we’ll really be moving after talking about it for so long. Just a couple of days ago, as we were telling them our plans to finally get rolling after the unexpected three-week layover, Erika suddenly had tears in her eyes.

When I asked her what was wrong, she said very simply, “Don’t worry, Mommy. They’re happy tears. I’m just so excited.”

We are too, sweet girl.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Shakin’ and a Bakin’

Jill's Journal: Once again we braved the intense heat and humidity for a little history today. The girls and I headed to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, Kentucky. I loved this photo of the three girls getting their “Shake” on.

The largest restored Shaker community in North America, Shaker Village is a 3,000-acre living museum with costumed guides showing how life was 200 years ago in a celibate religious commune. There are 34 restored buildings – everything from a privy to a meeting hall – and 25 miles of rock fences. Men and women, called brethren and sisters, all lived and worked together in quiet discipline and equality, but the two genders were kept completely separate in everything from work to worship to meals. I found the original “laundromat/wash house” most intriguing after our washing machine drama of late! But the girls were most amazed by the Shaker-style, revival-like, wild song recreated by one of the interpreters (apparently these people really “shook” when worshiping as they felt moved by the Spirit of God; they were originally called “Shaking Quakers” before their quest for simplicity led them to shorten the name to “Shakers”). The musical performance was only forgotten by the girls after they discovered the wide variety of animals…turkeys, goats, cats, oxen, and Percherons (a breed of draft horses). Farming is still done on the property using the oxen and Percherons and an antique plow!

Interestingly and obviously, a celibate commune must rely on recruits to keep its population going. The Shaker movement was brought to the New World by nine people on a broken-down ship from England in 1774. The last Shaker of Pleasant Hill died in 1923. Of the 19 original villages stretching from Maine to Kentucky, only one in Maine remains an active Shaker community with just four remaining residents.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Washers, and Dryers and Desks -oh my!

*breath out*... finally. Finally I can start building toward getting this trip off the ground. As Jill mentioned, yes - the Washer finally is fixed. It took 3 program boards, 29 phone calls to the company, and countless (ok, I counted them - it isn't pretty) hours, but the washer if finally functioning correctly, the dryer is out of the living room and I can start moving forward with everything, rather than wait, and wait, and wait. The pic to the right is a little Picasso/Frankenstein, but the iPhone is only so cool in small spaces, ok? ;)

Anyhow - I put everything back together, put in the breather grate above the dryer, mounted the dryer vent on the wall (until I can put something in that vents under the RV) and for now, finally, peacefully, Laundry proceeds... HUGE :)

The desk is also in, now that I have space to move around in the LR. It took some work, some help from Jill, and there are little problems with it that I couldn't have known until installed, but it gives me space - I can setup my stuff on it permanently (the biggest bonus), and it actually looks pretty good. I can't wait until I can find a little time to stain and protect it, but that will come soon. 4th of July was mentioned, and is likely.

I finally feel like I'm not fighting against things, but toward something. Its a nice change and I'm sure Jill would tell anyone she's talked to (Hantje? ;) ) that my mood has improved dramatically. My list has gotten to a manageable size and I see the end of it in sight. Granted, it wasn't on the timeframe that we'd hoped, but I also didn't see so many obstacles from so many arenas come our way - I mean... a bad washer from the factory - twice? Really? The wrong kind of 30 Amp - really? Mow everything - really?

Anyway - tomorrow will be another very busy day. Lots to do, and of course some items that I hadn't planned on (like office AC units going bad... really?), but I can now say that I'll take that in stride and we'll do what we have to do to get out of here. In time, on-time? We'll see.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clear Our Schedule!

Jill's Journal: Clear our schedule tomorrow, girls…we’ve got laundry to do!! Cautious optimism about circuit board #3 has given way to great celebration in the land, or at least in the fifth wheel. Currently, our second test load with the new circuit board is humming along smoothly, with no sign of any problems. I’ve never been so excited to do laundry!

And this means bigger things for us…Rob installed the washing machine, which meant the dryer could move out of our “living room” and be installed on top of the washing machine. The living room freed up means Rob can install the desk he built for his work. His desk being installed means the office equipment he has randomly interspersed throughout the fifth wheel can be properly contained and installed on top on the desk. And this means our launch (hopefully in the next 48-72 hours) can really, truly happen!!

Oh yes, there is great celebrating tonight, right after I go change the laundry.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wind and Rain and Storms…Oh My!

Jill's Journal: The girls and I were just on our way out yesterday afternoon to visit with friends when a storm came in very suddenly. The sky changed from bright and sunny to dark and ominous. And the wind! Violent wind, which changed direction while we were watching. The thunder and lightning and rain that came with it seemed secondary to the wind.

It was fascinating to watch…until I remembered that we’re in a trailer! Doesn’t every tornado seem to target trailers? I had visions of us flying away in Dorothy-like fashion and never being heard from again. Luckily, we held very firm to the ground. That made me feel better until I realized we’re parked right in between an old barn and a very large old tree which is leaning in our direction. Great for shade, not so great if either was blown over in a mini-twister!

Happily, the storm left as quickly as it came and the girls and I went on our merry way. I left a little bit wiser, however, and determined to pay a bit more attention to our surroundings when we park and inclement weather is a possibility! There is most definitely a learning curve to all this.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Change in plans...

I got back in the RV tonight with a healthy dose of 'gotta blog' in my system, and then wound down and now... I'm tired. Not as much by the time as by what's going on...

I made great progress tonight in the 'stuff' department. That really makes me happy, and Jill will probably be ecstatic over it. I probably dropped three stacks of boxes and misc. crap, just by cutting to the core. I can't wait to do more. Maybe; probably tomorrow.

So many thoughts tonight, but I've run out of steam. Therefore, I think I'll just put trinkets out there so that I can remember to talk about them in the next couple of days. I really want to say more, but I've just come to an ending for the night... so here they are: IIWI?; Steinbeck (labor, vacilando, children and a dog); progress; composing posts while I drive; mowing...lots, and lots of sunburned mowing; Father's day and my glimpse of parts of the trip; the F'ING washer; and finally - the fact that clearly I need to blog more often, maybe a couple of times a day to let the thoughts get ouuuuut... :)

I did have one final thought tonight, just as I was signing off. Someone wrote to me today, and made me feel better about the blog and its value. I've been struggling with putting myself/us center stage and having the feeling its all - However, he put it very succinctly. "I've been keeping up with the blog... That's great - you don't have to repeat the same story 18 times!!!" Thanks for that Les. You're helping to keep me sane. :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Good Day…and Tourist Practice!

Jill's Journal: It was a good day. Rob is benefitting from me keeping the girls out of his hair and is making huge progress on his long list of projects. I’m thinking our “launch day” will be soon! Well, maybe – the circuit board for the washing machine finally arrived, two days behind schedule, and it has a whole different set of problems than the first. Perhaps if we married the two circuit boards, we might have one good washing machine? I’ve told Rob he’s been too nice in his calls to this maker-of-washing-machines-for-RVs-and-yachts…I’m ready to pounce of them. I’m a mother with three young children (translation: LOTS of laundry) who bought a way-too-expensive, especially-for-an-RV washing machine because no matter how hard I could try, I’m just not a Laundromat kind of gal. And I’m taking the inconvenience they’re causing very, very personally. Rob thinks it’s better he deal with them because one can catch more bees with honey than anger. I know he’s right, but here's my confession of the day: I am having a hard time restraining myself!

(As my dear Dad pointed out today on the phone, this delay in our plans is minor in the scheme of things. Better to have everything fixed and all the kinks worked out here rather than in some crazy little town where we can’t find a hardware store. I know, I know...)

So, while we’re still in Lexington, I decided to practice being a tourist right here at home today. I’ve always heard about a little side-of-the-road diner in Midway, Kentucky, called Wallace Station, but had never eaten there. Unsuspectingly, the girls and I headed there for lunch. Holy crap. Un-be-live-able. I had some chipotle/avacado/turkey/pepper jack creation and no other sandwich will ever measure up. Why have I never eaten there before? It’s so good that apparently Wallace Station will be featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on the Food Network next Monday, the 28th. We have a t.v. but no television service, so I’m hoping to re-live the sandwich by catching the episode somewhere online. And I just may have to drag Rob to Wallace Station on our way out of town. Yum.

While still in a delicious food-induced euphoria, the girls and I then headed to Frankfort to take in some of the sights of the capitol. We went first to the quaint historic district and enjoyed the grounds of the Old Capitol building, in use since 1830 and now a museum. We happened to walk across the spot where Governor-elect William Goebel was shot on the way to his inauguration in 1900. Erika was fascinated because it happened on her birthday (albeit a little more than a century earlier) and I was fascinated because one of the first books I ever helped edit was strangely not about horses, but about Goebel’s assassination.

We then took a short jaunt over to the current Capitol with the intent of taking a tour, but either the heat or Father’s Day got the best of them and they had closed early. Beautiful grounds, however, and the girls especially enjoyed a giant floral clock with a surrounding fountain (shown in the top picture).

They were eager to get home and spend what was left of Father's Day with their Daddy, so we did just that. The happy little girl squeals from an impromptu running-thru-sprinklers session capped a super day. I think we're cut out for this tourist thing!

I did learn something very, very valuable today: when it’s 94 degrees Fahrenheit and so humid you can cut it with a knife, you can never have too much water along. The jug of water I brought wasn’t nearly enough and we stopped on the way back to Lexington to buy a couple more litters, which were quickly inhaled. These little girls play hard and one in particular definitely subscribes to the theory of “Why walk when you can run?”, so overheating could easily be an issue. I’ll be more careful to have a plentiful water supply in the future.

The Guilt Factor

Jill's Journal: I feel guilty. My poor husband is overwhelmed by everything still on his plate before we leave town. And yet, there’s not a whole lot I can do to help him right now except keep the kids out of his hair.

So the girls and I have been having a lovely time (hence the guilt). We’ve done everything from the pool with the wonderful Heather to pony rides with the lovely Katy and crew. We’ve played in the great outdoors with the fantastic Colby and her girls before heat and hunger drove us all indoors for a nice lunch instead. We’ve spent a marvelous day in the country with the incredibly hospitable Mary and family. (Is there any town in Kentucky more charming than Wilmore? Seriously, even the utility poles, each one of them for 1 1/2 miles, have hanging flower baskets.) We even attended a fitness day at the Bluegrass Airport, where a brand new runway was opened to the public to walk, bike, skate, etc. for an afternoon and the girls got to enjoy sitting in a police helicopter and on a police motorcycle. We’ve tried the bumper cars at GattiTown, we’ve had a bonfire, we’ve had water fights with a hose. And the list goes on.

I’m trying to make the best of it because, trust me, we are all so stinkin’ eager to get on the road. To be so close and yet still be sitting here, 10 days or more after we thought we’d be gone, is frustrating. And while the girls are having a great time, I think even they are getting restless. Erika, our 6-year-old, said to me yesterday, “Mommy, it’s a house on wheels. Aren’t we supposed to go somewhere?”

Yes, dear girl, yes. We are indeed. We’re going to go on the ride of your young life, I promise. Be patient just a little while longer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bunk Beds

Jill's Journal: Three little girls, snug in their bunks, reading before lights out.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Then something went... bump.

...When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. And last he must implement the journey. How to go, what to take, how long to stay. This part of the process is invariable and immortal. I set it down only so that newcomers to bumdom, like teen-agers in new hatched sin, will not think that they invented it.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; not two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blow-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. I feel better now, having said this, although only those who have experienced it will understand it.

John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley

I read this book a long, long time ago, and then, when I very first started our journey (months and months ago) I found a copy and snatched it up - thinking that it might be a good idea to read again. I opened it up for the first time today and this opening spoke to me. Maybe fate has stepped in and slapped me a little.

The journey -- THIS journey -- is an entity onto itself, and rather than fight it, rather than try to tame it into something. I need to let go. I need to treat it similarly to a friendship, and sometimes just let it be itself. It can have all its little tantrums, its little OCD moments, and then it can share its happiness and triumphs with me too... The trip has its personality, and we're still meeting each other.

The next couple of days will be a tough run, but once through it everything gets better. Keep it together Robert, keep it together. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Long day...

(ed. note: I apologize in advance for this post being the way it is. It really is a blog about what's going on and I want to be honest with that, with myself when I look back at it, and with you, and while I'm not sure who is reading it, I know that there are some of you out there - so again, my apologies for the likely self-centered, slightly downer thing coming your way if you continue.)

It really is nice to have an evening where there is 0% chance of rain. We've been through a spell here where thunderstorms could pop up at any minute - and not like sprinkly thunderstorms... monster gutter-washing half-an-inch-of-running-water-down-the-driveway-in-five-minutes thunderstorms. And while I understand that not having rain is also a bad thing, at this point in our trip I'm very happy to be free a couple of days from it.

It is nice being able to have the windows open. Real air with just a slight breeze cutting across the room. Yes, its a little humid, but my opinion of humidity has changed in the last 2 weeks. I'm getting better about it, and can stand it a bit more. Speaking of which...

2 weeks? Really? Its a cheap way to live but I certainly didn't expect to be here coming up on, and surely passing, 2 weeks. But, with everything going on, Mom's surgery, so much stuff to do around the place and still so much to have gone through I guess I shouldn't have expected less time. It doesn't seem like I've made any progress in the last few days, though I know I have. Maybe I just need to move on. I've resigned myself to the fact that we're here for another 4 or 5 days but it has really left me in a bit of a funk. I wanted to write about it last night but just couldn't bring myself to even think about it. How is that a way to start this adventure - be beaten up enough to not want to write any of it down... sigh.

For any of you that didn't notice this last two weeks have kinda taken a toll ;) We WANT to be on the road and feeding on new experiences about the places, sights and information for us and the kids, but its just kinda a holding pattern. I'm hopeful that we can get into a takeoff pattern soon, and go adventuring. Once we're on the road, I know that everything (*especially* my attitude) will improve.

I think we've all settled into our new lives pretty well so far. With all the knockdown punches we've taken the last 2 weeks we're seriously still laughing about it for the most part. I'm hopeful that tomorrow, after what is sure to be a very full day of work, I'll be able to fix the washing machine (the new one has a bad board in it, so it just keeps pushing water into the drum - all the time - 50, 60 gallons a cycle...), I'll get the cooked Audio/Video system in place and rewired, (a--gain, for the third time). I'll get the dryer out of the living room, and then put the door back on the closet. Hopefully tomorrow we won't blow any more breakers (the electric water heater is the bane of my 30 amp existence), and I can be on a downhill run for the rest of the week crossing stuff of my fixit list. :) Keep it together Robert... Keep it together. :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Jill's Journal: Sometimes you’ve just got to have a sense of humor. We haven’t gotten very far in our journey and are still stuck in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Our brand-spanking-new fifth wheel has now had nearly every major system replaced. One thing after another has broken, malfunctioned, or has simply had an attitude. We’ve flooded the plumbing and the girls’ rooms and bathroom not once, but twice today (compliments of the new, but non-working washing machine), we’ve cooked all the electronics due to a wiring error, we’ve had a leak in the roof, etc., etc., etc. Those are the big things. The little things include a broken shelf in the refrigerator and a screen door that’s already ripped. Cosmetically, somehow the girls have already managed to color on the floor and stain the couch with a marker. We figure all we need to do is blow a tire and the challenges will be complete!

Yes, we’ve been frustrated and yes, we’re itching to get on the road, but at least we’re still laughing...or have reached the punchy laughing point after a few tears and possibly a few curse words. Our new circuit board for the washing machine is supposed to arrive by the end of the week. Our insurance has promised to reimburse us for the few thousand dollars in repairs. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (again!), we’ll finally be on our way this weekend!

The things I've learned...

There are a number of lessons that I've learned or that have been reenforced like crazy this last week, and I just thought I'd blog them. Seemed a nice place to remind myself about things that are important in all aspects of life, not just on our journey. Most of these have a more profound meaning than just the surface and let me say this - just because what I wrote is about one thing, didn't mean the revelation didn't come from doing something else. :)

  • Always wait for the full story before jumping to the end in your head.

  • Just because you measured twice, does not mean that you'll only cut once.

  • Live in the moment, for the moment - do not constantly be trying to get to the next moment, you may never see that moment again.

  • When you're knee deep in s#!t, breath shallow.

  • Fresh water is a precious commodity, as is the time and energy required for filling it. (ok, that one really is as it sounds) :)

  • Sometimes it really is better to trust the instruments and shun instinct.

  • Even after reading everything you can read, looking at everything you can look at about your rig - experience is still the best, and sometimes only, teacher. It tells you what you really need to know. (Though for me, a doctor/nurse that reads their medical journals to find the one treatment for what someone has but that only 2 people in the world have experienced -- that's ok too) ;)

  • There are 2 kinds of 30 amp power. Know how to tell which is which.

  • You haven't lived until the washer spin cycle runs at 120RPM and you're on the toilet.

  • In the things that you dread doing there is usually reason. However, dread creates nothing but worry and lost productivity. Bite down and get it done.

  • The pinhole leak that you've been neglecting to fix will be aimed right at you everytime you turn on the hose. Just take the 5 minutes and fix the hose.

  • In every move, the last fifteen things take 5 times as long, and 3 times as much space as you planned. That, and everytime, no matter how hard you try not to - there will always be at least one box of crap that you threw together because you ran outta time.
I'm sure there will be more of these as time moves on. They are actually kinda fun to think a a aaaaa bbb ou t. (washer spin cycle again) :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Small Triumphs!

Jill's Journal: I’m pleased to share that I just lit the oven all by myself. This has been the source of major frustration for me (what do you mean I need a match to light it every time while simultaneously pushing a button for 15 seconds in a location that requires a Twister-like maneuver?). I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to master the darn thing, but at least I managed it once. The smell of blueberry muffins is now wafting delectably through the RV. Praise God for small triumphs!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Farewell Tour of Lexington

Jill's Journal: Much to our amazement, we remain near Lexington! We’re “camping” on 25 acres near Nicholasville, Kentucky, so it still feels like an adventure and a million miles from the home that we knew. Apparently we underestimated the amount of projects on Rob’s plate before we officially leave town, so we’re also taking advantage of the time to really get into the swing of things on the fifth wheel. We’re actually on Rob’s Mom’s acreage and now believe we’ll be here through early next week.

While Rob’s been working, the girls and I have been playing. We’re jokingly calling it our farewell tour of Lexington. We’ve had final playdate after final playdate with so many wonderful friends, including everything from a picnic with a jazz band at the lovely Ecton Park to the always-fun Explorium (Children’s Museum) to the insanity that is Chuck E Cheese to even just digging in the dirt and letting the kids be kids.

All these goodbyes have made me feel very nostalgic about Lexington. Today I took the girls to the Lexington History Museum in the ancient old courthouse downtown, where we got to experience some of the amazing heritage of this fantastic city, once called “The Athens of the West.” And really, what other museum can boast of its very own jockey silks right inside the front door?

I’ve always loved the contrasts that make up Kentucky. We’re smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, yet a huge percentage of people here (ourselves included) make their living on the vices of gambling (horse racing) and drinking (bourbon). Both the Union and the Confederate presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were born in Kentucky. And today we stood in the old square that in 1850 housed the largest slave trade of the antebellum South, literally just a few short blocks from the childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln. One has to wonder if the bustling slavery business just steps outside her door influenced her husband, Abraham, a frequent guest in the home, in preparing the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the country’s best-known symbols of freedom.

But I digress. I love this city, founded in 1775, and all that it represents. Whether our travels eventually lead us back to Lexington permanently or to somewhere else, Lexington will always hold a very, very special place in my heart. Somehow in the Bluegrass, the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, and the world is happier. We came here 13 years ago and it hasn’t been enough.

This is Mecca to the horse racing world; it more than lives up to the billing of “Horse Capital of the World.” Lexington to Thoroughbred racing is what Paris is to fashion, what Hollywood is to movies, what Washington is to politics. It all happens right here. People think of racing as the Sport of Kings, but outsiders don’t know about the hundreds of thousands of regular people who work in the sport simply for the love of the horse. And that is the great equalizer: whether someone in this game is a billionaire or below the poverty level or somewhere in between, we’re all here because we love the horse. It’s as simple as that.

Yesterday I stole a few quiet moments and walked among the historic annals at the Keeneland Library, a cathedral to any student of pedigree. Seeing some of the horseshoes, the trophies, and the paintings of racing’s greats still gives me goosebumps after all this time. I’m not an overly emotional person, but reflecting on the heritage of the Thoroughbred right here in Lexington and what little bit Rob and I got to be a part of brought tears to my eyes. If you listen closely, the manicured rolling green hills surrounding Lexington still echo with the hoofbeats of historic champions the world over and the promise of more to come.

For all these reasons and more, I am head over heels in love with Lexington. But I also know there’s a whole world out there just waiting to be experienced. Life is short. We can always settle down again but we won’t always have such an amazing opportunity to travel.

But Lexington will ever be,
The Loveliest and the Best;
A Paradise thou’rt still to me,
Sweet Athens of the West.

--Pennsylvanian Josiah Espy, upon an 1806 visit to Lexington

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Settling in...

Well, now we've been here a couple of days and the new car smell is starting to wear off. The noises and rattles and movements are becoming recognizable (proving that I NEED to get an accumulator tank for the water system). The routine is beginning to straighten itself out again, and most importantly its all still good. :)

I still have an amazing amount of stuff to do, both for the RV and for the farm. I'm sure I'll get it done, but I know that we are both looking forward to getting on the road RIGHT NOW, and its going to delay us from that departure. However, in the true fashion of the way we are trying to live I am putting no pressure on myself to have to be gone by a certain date. Pressure and anxiety is the enemy, 'go with the flo' is the mantra... well, at least we're trying to keep it that way.

Jill and the kids were gone all day and the RV was quiet. I will be able to get a lot of work done on days like that, and, I think, once we are in a campground, on days that are not quiet in the RV I'll be able to find another spot. I just wish they made dual screen laptops. I can't wait to get the desk setup and should in the next couple of days. Working off the table is getting old. But, one thing at a time, right?

Last night I burned the pile of boxes and wood stuffs we'd accumulated over the course of our life at the house (pic above). Tonight I'm off to push through some of the projects and hopefully get at least one or two done. I need to tear into the barn aisle and really turn a harsh eye on things I just don't need. I'm hopeful that it'll be an easy task - we'll see how much crap I really have left over that I didn't have time to deal with. I'm a little afraid the amount is larger than I'm able to deal with in a day or two.

So the summary is basically this: Still a lot to do, stuck in a holding pattern until everything is done. GET STUFF DONE. :) that is all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It’s a Toss Up

Jill's Journal: Living in such a small space feels a little bit like playing house. While it’s been fun and magical so far, it does remain to be determined which simple convenience I miss more…a dishwasher or a garbage disposal. Distance definitely makes the heart grow fonder. I never knew how much I loved them until they were gone. If you have them, spoil them, cherish them, and tell them every day how grateful you are for them!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

'We lose ourselves in the fog of everyday life...'

So Michigan has an advertising campaign, and this line just spoke to me. Actually it screamed into my ear and has been in my head for the last 10 days... isn't it perfect tho? It says a lot about our current situation and about what we're trying to do. For me, the fog lifted this morning.

I've been so busy trying to get things done that I've forgotten to look around and just enjoy life. Today - this morning actually - I started to do that, and I can't get the smile off my face. I don't know when I stopped enjoying the simple stuff. I don't know why I've missed the smell of clean air, the simple pleasures, sitting and listening to the sounds of nature. Where did all that go? Why was I only thinking worrying about what the next thing to do, the next project, the next whatever? I walked around all day with a smile on my face... happy to see that come back :)

Last night was great. What a send-off poker game. I was so happy to see everyone, make memories of the group and I have to say I enjoyed almost every aspect of last night. I did my best to ignore/blow-off the drama (you know who you were ;) ) and just enjoy the evening. Winning was sweet, but in all honesty tho I could have been out first and enjoyed it even probably more. The 20-minute back-to-back F-bomb penalty at the final table probably saved me from losing. Funny how that works. To all of you reading this that attended the game - THANK YOU. I was so happy to see all of you, and it truly means a lot that you came to the game. I'll post pictures of the trophy once I finish it - because that was the plan... :)

The picture above is what we see out the window now. I'm looking forward to posting albums of our window every day. I think that will be a neat project. Window of the day - I have a lot of plans for, and it'll be a nice thing to get excited about a personal web project again. Its been a long time since I jumped at something for fun...

It'll be nice to get back to posting again. I'm not sure if anyone cares about my thoughts - but it helps me to keep it all together. I'm looking forward to chronicaling this journey - both the physical aspect and the psychological. There is so much to this trip - I recommend letting go of the fog and taking one. :)

Settling In

Jill's Journal: Happily, we are settling into the fifth wheel nicely. The girls are enjoying their new space and love their bunk beds. The place is sparkling clean thanks to an insane amount of bleach and elbow grease. Everything is unpacked and in its place. And life is good!

Of course, we haven’t moved an inch yet since we have several things to wrap up this week in Lexington. But, with two very smooth nights and days of “camping” under our belts, we’re feeling pretty good about the future. And I must confess: we’re not really camping. Sure, space inside is at a premium. But with 1 1/2 bathrooms, a separate master bedroom, a four-bunk bedroom for the girls on the complete other end of the trailer, a decent-sized kitchen, a living room bigger than a New York studio, and even a washer and dryer ready to be installed, we could definitely have it a lot worse. It really is a “house on wheels,” as the girls call it.

The 36 hours before we officially moved in were filled with drama. The closing date on our house got pushed back for the fourth (or was it fifth?) time. We underestimated how much we had yet to do to finish moving out (doesn’t that always happen?). And some improper wiring leading to the RV blew out everything that was plugged in: our new refrigerator, microwave/convection oven, entertainment system, etc. Even little things like an alarm clock and drill were completely decimated.

But that was then and this is now. The good news is that we really did close on our house on Friday morning and managed to finish our move-out with minutes to spare! It was bittersweet to hand those keys over. It’s the only home all three of our little girls have ever known. Victoria was even born there, literally, so it will always hold a special place in our hearts.

More good news: although we do have to replace all those expensive appliances without ever having gotten a chance to use them, at least they can be replaced. It’s just time and money (and a few gray hairs). And if that’s the biggest hiccup we have on our journey, we’re doing just fine.

And one more blessing I have to mention: good friends. One of the hardest decisions we had to make was what to do with our cat, who has been a part of our family for 15 years and has seen other pets come and go. But my dear friend Roberta ended up making it easy for us. She willingly opened up her home and welcomed our old gray kitty on Friday. Roberta’s home is an earthly version of cat heaven…once our cat acclimates, I have a feeling she’ll wonder what kind of purgatory she was in with us for the last 15 years!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Jill's Journal: If only I had a penny for each time someone asked if we had a blog! We finally decided it was time to go public. I’ve been keeping an occasional journal of our preparations to travel with the intention of sharing it with our girls someday. (Because surely someday they’ll wonder what possessed us to pack them into an RV and hit the road). Since my typing skills are stronger than my handwriting skills, it seemed a natural to make it a blog and that way my parents could track our travels as well. And now it’s morphed into something a little bigger…we’ve decided to also share it with our friends and family.

If you’re just joining us, the brief version is this: we’ve sold our house (closing in a matter of hours!), have bought a fifth wheel, and plan to travel North America for the next three years. We have a loose itinerary that includes 49 states and parts of Canada. Rob telecommutes already and can work from anywhere, so we realize this makes us incredibly blessed and very, very lucky. Our three girls are young with our oldest just finishing kindergarten tomorrow, so I’m going to try my hand at homeschooling for a few years. We can’t think of a better education for them (and for us!) than seeing the country firsthand.

As people have learned about the adventure that awaits us, we realized how many either long for this type of opportunity or think we’re completely off our rocker. Either way, it’s clear many people are very curious. We thought this blog would be a way we could take everyone along for the ride.

Both Rob and I will post. His entries (like the one immediately below) are labeled with an “R.” Mine will always begin with “Jill’s Journal.”

It will take another week or so for us to completely wrap up things here in Lexington, Kentucky, and then we’ll be on our way. So, stay turned and join us on our journey if you’d like. And welcome!

Completely crushed...

I'd write more, but it really is very difficult to find the time right now. I'm hoping to have a chance to go back and revisit the most significant moments of this transition, but I've found that, unfortunately, the moments that are the most important to talk about - thusfar - are the moments I don't have the time to talk.

Hopefully soon, I can look back at the notes, the timeframe and everything going on and expound.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It Can Be Done!

Jill's Journal: This is what it looks like when a family is hyper-committed to downsize, purge, and consolidate: less than 40 square feet worth of “keepers,” all from a 1,500 square foot house, garage, attic, separate office with almost 1,000 square feet of additional storage space, plus a horse barn and varied farm equipment. It really can be done!

And truly, we kept more than we thought we would. I’ll bet we could go through it again and cut it down by half. But as we’re getting down to the wire, we’ve started having thoughts like this, “Well, I really like my wine glasses. We have the storage space; why not keep them instead of having to buy them again someday when we settle down?” So yes, we kept more than we intended. But most of the boxes are full of sentiment, like an antique mirror from Rob’s grandmother who died before he was born. Or framed family portraits. Or my wedding dress (which I considered parting with, but I have three daughters and what if it means something to one of them someday?).

Our storage unit is 10x10, the size of a small horse stall; Rob’s tools and the girls’ bedroom furniture will take up the rest of the space. Life’s essentials will fit into the RV; everything else is gone or going!

It has been wonderful to go through every item in our possession. A true journey. We learned there’s so much we don’t need and/or that wasn’t worth keeping if it had been in a box for the last 10 years. How many people never go through all their belongings in their lifetime and it’s left for their children to do after they’re gone? Hopefully I'll still be on this earth for a long time to come, but I don’t want to do that to my kids. Rob and I have commented to each other so many times that everyone should downsize like this in mid-life; it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride (lots of highs and lows) sorting through every single piece of paper, memento, item of clothing, etc. But like any great roller coaster, it has left us flushed with excitement and accomplishment at tackling it (and surviving to tell the tale)!