My Jeep and Thor Chateau on the road during my first destination after selling my home and moving onto the road full-time. So March 1, 2016 marked six months since I sold my house on September 1, 2015, and gave up a traditional home for life on the road. It took a week to get the final logistics arranged but on September 8, 2015, I finally drove the tires of the RV on the pavement away from my hometown of Fort Collins and started the exploring.
Little did I know how much I would fall in love with many things when I left the hotel that morning.
In these six months, I have:
- driven more than 20,000 miles
- visited 8 national parks, and visited 9 other locations in the national parks system
- added photos of 7 new wildlife species to my inventory
- saw the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans plus the Gulf of Mexico
- driven through 26 states
- upgraded my RV already
- and have fallen in love - with the road and a new man in my life Dawn_and_huskies_YosemiteDawn and her huskies sit in front of the sign for Yosemite National Park, California. I never felt alone with my critters by my side.
Yes, I hit the road alone. As alone as you want to think of it when I travel with two dogs and two cats, and meet tons of people everywhere I go. I brought only one wine glass - conserving extra weight meant thinking of only what I needed for just me. I only brought hiking pants, tshirts and sweatshirts - nothing fancy or dressy for nights out. It would be next to impossible to date on the road and no point in wasting the weight on clothes I had no need to wear. And in all honesty, I was enjoying the freedom of my own choices.
And then one day, as I made a feeble attempt to level my RV in a campground in Rocky Mountain National Park, this handsome guy walks up and asks if I need help.
At first I said no. I was a woman traveling alone so safety was always first on my mind. And I am a bit stubborn and independent; I could do this. But he had a very sincere look and sweet smile so I gave in to let someone help.
After he very persistently but successfully wanted that RV perfectly level - it was one of the last spaces in the campground and had quite a pitch to it - we chatted for a while.Richards_TrailerRichard was traveling in a Forest River travel trailer towed by his Toyota Tundra
He was traveling alone too but in a travel trailer. He too had experienced some life altering events and decided to hit the road to discover where he wanted to be.
We talked about all kinds of things as we stood in that campground. I was immediately comfortable with him.
With all the people I have passed out my business card to with the hopes of selling a print or being hired for a photo assignment, this guy was the first I had hoped would see that phone number on the card for other reasons.
I wasn't looking for a relationship or to add a guy in my life. I hadn't been on a date in over a year. And I was quite comfortable with my simple life on the road.
But there was just something there with this man.
Apparently he felt it too.
He called a couple of days later. We talked every day for hours.
We made plans to see each other again a few weeks later in Zion National Park. For a week we spent every day together there.
He surprised me by showing up at my campsite at a state park in Colorado a couple of weeks after Zion.Big BlueThis is the 39 foot Fleetwood Discovery we purchased together so we could hit the road on a new shared adventure.
But from there I was heading to NJ and he was going back home to Louisiana. His time on the road was coming to an end.
A week after thanksgiving I had altered my travel plans and was going to see him in Louisiana.
We spent six weeks living together down there. By the end of that time we had bought a larger RV - a 39 foot 2005 fleet wood discovery. This monster of an RV would become our home as we started a life together on the road.
There have certainly been ups and downs as with any relationship. Living in the small space of an RV is a definite challenge for even seasoned couples. As any nature photographer can attest, our crazy schedules of early rising, late evenings and sleeping midday so we can photograph in the golden hours of light on the cusps of the day can be tough on relationships. But it has been wonderful to share this adventure together.
He takes care of the RV. I write and photograph. And on many occasions he has joined me as I venture into the field to shoot.
In Zion, he didn't even know apertures, ISOs or how to adjust the shutter speed. Now he is taking some amazing photos and doing a great job of tracking wildlife with me.
So you just never know what the road ahead has in store for you. Although the tragedies in my life taught me life is unexpected and unpredictable, the unexpected can also be amazing and beautiful. Mr BobRichard's photography has been very impressive and very quickly.
Living life on the road has given me the opportunity to photograph the beautiful country and its interesting wildlife.
A couple of days before I ventured out on the road I got together for a beer and dinner with a friend. She asked me if I was scared.
I believe I said something along the lines of I wasn't sure what to expect.
She replied with, "give it six months before you make a decision."
She was right on target.
I had planned the adventure up through seeing Yosemite in late February for the fire fall. After that I left the plans open.
Looks like there was a reason.
Here is to loving life on the road and to the next destination.
Dawn_and_Richard_YosemiteDawn and Richard pose for a photo in the late afternoon sun in Yosemite National Park, California