The past few weeks have felt like a lifetime and also like they just started yesterday. Time seems to ebb and flow when you're doing something out of your element. And in a way, it's similar to how I felt when we first moved abroad, 4 years ago now.
I'm an obsessive note taker and always have been. But when I'm traveling, the notes get lengthier and more detailed. Today I wrote out “Day 14.” I didn't even realize I'd been on the road for two weeks until I wrote that down.
The past three years I've been jaunting around Europe. This kind of travel has been oddly familiar to me. It's the main kind of travel I've done my entire life. Growing up, my parents taught a summer abroad program in London and every year, I'd hop on a plane and we'd gallivant to Big Ben, ride the Tube, and feed the ducks in Regent's Park.
However, actually moving to Europe opened up my world. I lived in a country I didn't go to before moving. I traveled to over 50 countries in 3 years. The dogs went to 8. I went by myself to places like Paris, Corfu, and Bucharest. I spent more time looking out plane windows and less time watching Netflix. My visa got denied. After 8 months of waiting it got approved. My Instagram tripled. My business flourished. I also didn't sleep a lot. I felt in limbo of happiness and worried that the bottom could fall out at any moment. But, maybe that's how everyone feels.
It was wonderful, and exhausting.
Despite not knowing the language in the countries I visited in Europe, Michael and I had a rhythm for our European travels.
I thought that when we began traveling America it would be a lot easier than traveling Europe. Not just because everyone speaks English, but because this is my home country. And, we were going to travel SLOWER.
Turns out, I was wrong. First, we have quite literally thrown ourselves into living in an RV. After one measly night of practicing in an RV park 30 minutes from our home in Dallas, we drove 15 hours to Colorado.
In the car on the way, we had a whole slew of new experiences. As we were packing up the RV in the morning an alarm kept going off. It took us 20 minutes to realize we hadn't opened a lock on our hitch and that's why it wasn't catching to lock on to our vehicle. For the first time in his ten years of life, our Doberman Hugo had diarrhea in the car. At one point, Michael went through a gas station to fill up with the trucks to find out that it wouldn't work for our vehicle.
The temperature was 112 degrees and we were thrilled when the clouds rolled in to give us a break from the pounding sun, so hot, we wouldn't let the dogs walk on the pavement. But those clouds turned into a storm that pummeled the car with wind and rain. I checked the radar and realized we missed 60 mile per hour winds and even hail if we had been even 20 minutes sooner.
That night we arrived at 2:30am and finally went to bed at 3:30am.
The next days, we were sure, would be better.
We met up with friends in Denver who are also RVing, and we decided to traverse the country together. Without much of a plan, we left Denver heading to Wyoming. Quickly, we found out we have a lot to learn. Jet-setting from place to place just isn't possible when you've got a home attached to your car, 2 dogs, and no real idea where to park next. But it's really challenging to slow down.
I recently told my Dad that I'm overly concerned with time. I worry I don't have enough of it. How can I accomplish everything I want in this short little life? How can I create a lasting business? The next great American novel? Leave a legacy? See the whole wide world? Then, when will I fit in the time to write about my experiences? Time always seems fleeting and I worry I'm not accomplishing enough. My Dad told me that while he worked in the newsroom, he wished people would have timers that would go off on their heads so that they could stop talking and he could get back to work. It's precisely how I feel. There are timers on everything.
A friend recently asked: have you always been so driven?
The answer is oddly, yes. I once had a lemonade stand that I parlayed into a bracelet making foray in which I employed the neighborhood kids to make bracelets and sell the lemonade while I oversaw the operation. I was six.
Now, time feels even quicker. And a bit more stressful.
Don't get me wrong; it's also been incredibly fantastic. Seeing the mountains of the Grand Tetons, hiking and seeing a bear, being utterly awe-inspired at Yellowstone National Park, looking at the brightest comet in 30 years under a blanket of stars, working on my own little space, has all been absolutely what I needed.
I was a bit worried that RV life wouldn't be for me. But the past two weeks have confirmed that this is an absolutely incredible, albeit, different experience than any I've had before.
I think newness always brings about stress and challenges. Generally, anything in life that's worth it, usually does.
Moving to Europe was tough. So is this, it's just different.
Even before moving back to the US, Michael and I decided that we wanted to buy an RV. To us, it seemed like the best way to see America. You have the freedom to explore new places whenever you want, and the opportunity to do things slightly unplanned. Meaning, you don't have to leave if you don't want to, you have a place to stay.
What we realized when we moved abroad was we wanted a sense of home on the road. It felt kind of lonely, even when traveling with my husband, to not have that sense of home. Plus, we really wanted the dogs to come along. They did when we drove but often, we flew when we traveled, and this just wasn't easy to bring the dogs along.
We had no idea that a worldwide pandemic would hit, rendering it very important to avoid airports and even hotels. We even chose to spend the majority of our first two weeks in the least populated state in America: Wyoming.
Like most people, we've been hit close to home with Corona-virus. As a travel blogger we've lost a significant amount of money and opportunities.
Right before we started traveling in the trailer, we headed to Croatia for 10 days for a friend's wedding. That was met with mixed emotions. Many people felt we shouldn't be traveling overseas. Worse still, others thought that we found some crazy loophole to sneak into the country (which couldn't be farther from the truth).
For the past few months, social media has been a tough place. Whether it's because of the state of the world, the impending election, or just the fact that I'm staring at my screen all too often. But despite all the stress of what's been happening since we've traveled, it's been a welcome one. I've shut off the news and social media almost completely these past few weeks.
I've been focusing on what I need to do and how to accomplish the goals I have, instead of staring at my phone and not sleeping.
We all face different challenges in life. Some are unavoidable, some force you to get out of your comfort zone, and some come when you choose to take risks.
I'll admit the past few weeks have been a bit more stressful than normal, but I also know that any investment is a risk and will be worth it.
So far, we've been through Colorado, Wyoming, and now Montana. I'm learning a whole new way of life and travel and I think it's a good thing.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit stressed and overwhelmed. But, I'd also be lying if I said there wasn't a small part of me that know that every great adventure of my life has always been a bit stressful and overwhelming. And totally worth it.