Thursday, April 30, 2015

First Stop - Destin, Florida

So as most of you know, we left the Cocoa Beach area on the 20th of this month. The kids said their good bye's to their good friend and shed a few tears. That's the hardest part about staying for awhile in one area and then leaving... the good bye's.  However, they exchanged addresses and know they can write letters and keep in touch. We ended up actually leaving on the evening of the 19th and began our trip a tad early because of some severe storms coming in. Our original plan was to go towards Jacksonville but they ended up having some tornado warnings along with horrible thunderstorms and we didn't quite feel like dealing with that on our first outing with Filmore. Instead, we took the toll roads around Orlando and up towards the Tallahassee area. 

That first night was interesting to say the least. The campground we stayed at, called Wilderness something or other, was in the middle of nowhere it seemed even though it was off the highway. Both of the girls were having to use the restroom pretty bad and both Chris and I kept saying, "we're almost there, we're almost there." Wouldn't you know that this would be the first campground we have EVER stayed at that locks the bathrooms at 7pm... seriously?? Neither of us have ever had to deal with that and after calling the lady back, she said it was to keep "certain" people out. We both looked at each other like, "um, should we be staying here?" It turned out alright and all the kids "watered" their grass for them. lol. When the sun arose, we high tailed it out of there and headed to the rest area down the street. 

That next day we arrived in sunny Destin, Florida. We had perfect weather with the sun shining the entire time. Seriously, we could not have asked for better weather and it seems as though we brought it with us. Supposedly the Destin area had received rain for 9 days straight and when we arrived, it stopped.. thankfully. We camped at the Destin Army Recreation campground for two nights and actually ran into a couple from the campground we had just come from back in Cocoa. It's a rather small world after all. :) 

The kids loved the campground but more so, the swimming pool. They're all water bugs, which meant we spent most of our time there. We toured the area for a bit, visiting Bass Pro, eating at Fudpuckers, fed the alligators and stopped by to see the EOD Memorial.  The evenings were spent longboarding down a few of their hills and munching on ice cream. All in all, we loved the area. There seemed to be something for everyone to see or do. After that, we headed on to Alabama. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Vintage Trailer Redecoration. Fulltime Living.

It's done and we are officially living in our 77' Sunline 13 foot vintage camper full time. Yes, we are all still alive and we are all happy. Sure it's tight and the space much smaller but all you really need is a bed and a place to call home. I guess we will see how the rest of the summer goes, but for now we are getting our rhythm down and enjoying our itty bitty camper. It has everything we need besides a toilet and some running water. There is a sink in it but we haven't tested that part out yet til we aren't living in it. The people we purchased it from didn't use it either so we figured we would play it safe and wait. Our plan later on is to fix the ceiling on the inside from some water damage, redo the curtains and repaint the outside. So here is little ole Filmore in all his glory... all comfy, cozy. 

Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Turning a vintage trailer into a home.

Well, Just like many other things in life, there isn't just one way to do something. Nope, there seems to be many different roads to take in order to get to the end destination. For us, it seems that purchasing a new home is what we ended up having to do in order to travel around the country. Many of you have asked about the current motor home we have and what we are going to do with it. Well, we're keeping it but storing it here in sunny Florida until we come back to the sunshine state. It has costed us way too much money and both Chris and I feel that it wouldn't be wise to drive it across the country all the way to Colorado. It's been a great home as far as comfort and size but sometimes we just have to make sacrifices so that we can continue living out our dream. And honestly, we don't think it would make it out of the state of Florida before dying on the highway. We will all miss the space that this 34 ft home gives but we also all know we want to travel and see more. So with that in mind, we decided to downsize.

What we did know was that our car (Kia Sorento) can only tow 3500lbs. We also knew that we could not afford another payment and so that left us with purchasing something small and inexpensive. After many months of hunting online, searching craigslist ads and talking to people, we found it. Our new home is going to be a 1977 Sunline travel trailer. It's all of 13 feet long and is roughly 91 square feet. We were super fortunate to have found it right down the road in Daytona Beach, which meant not traveling far to pick it up.

So, now come all the fun questions. Most people want to know how the heck we are going to sleep in there, how will we all survive and are you guys crazy?

Yes, there is enough room to sleep. Chris and I will be on one end while the other side will house the kiddos. Montana has the top bunk and the girls will sleep on the bottom bed. The sleeping part is not the problem, lol. My main concern is fitting all the essentials into such a small space. :) This camper will be home for the next 6 months and to top it off, we will be dropping in temps as we travel, which means more clothes and thicker jackets. Eek. The kids have been so used to warm weather and beach days for the last 5 months that I really don't think they will know what to do when it comes time to put shoes on their feet. We will also be traveling with 5 skateboards, 2 whitewater kayaks, 1 paddle board, 1 beater board, and a mountain bike. Most of our time will be spent outdoors but the camper does need to feel like home for the days we are stuck inside due to weather.

Are we crazy and will we all survive in such a tiny space? I sure hope so. I've told people who ask that question that maybe as we travel, we'll just drop kids off along the way. haha. Not really but you get the idea. Sure, it's going to be small but as they say, we'd rather have a crowded camper than an empty castle. This is just another adventure to write in the books and as we go along we'll fill it with lots of memories.

So here it is. We've been working hard at repainting the inside and getting it move in ready. The girls have wanted to help with every little detail. I think, they think that this is their mini play home. Who knows, maybe some day it will be. Eventually, we will repaint the outside, redo the curtains and add better cushions. For now, we are working with what we have and slowly turning this into our sweet little home.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The "PERFECT" life we live.

One of the misconceptions of living on the road full-time is that we live a magical life. People assume that by living in an RV, we are wealthy, live with no responsibilities, and are super fortunate. I'd agree in the latter. Yes, we are super fortunate and we feel blessed to live this lifestyle. However, that's not to say that there isn't the same faults, struggles and worries that come with not living this lifestyle. Just like living in a home, we have problems, worries and days of doubt. Sure, the photos show our happiness, the fun we are having as a family and the amazing places we have been. They show the kids laughing, running in the waves, and the amazing sunsets that go down here in Florida. But just like everyone else, there are the moments of fear, dealing with paying the bills, and broke down vehicles. There are flooding kitchens, days of dumping tanks, and more broke down vehicles. When we chose to live in an RV, it wasn't because we won the lottery or inherited thousands of dollars. We still have to work and we have to live this life of nomadicness in a way that suites us. Sure, we would love to travel non-stop from location to location and see all the wonderful landmarks this country has to offer but we can't. We too have bills and we also can't afford to just retire. Nope, The Oatman's are NOT rich!

The number one question we get is, "How do you make this kind of lifestyle happen?" Everyone who inquires wants to know what we do to make ends meet. Of course, it's only natural to want to know how to live a life that looks perfect and is truly nothing but a dream to most. I'm not going to lie. There are times when we scrape by. We knew when getting into this that we would have to do what was necessary to make our dream a reality. We are not set up for the future but we never were before either. There once was a time when we had savings accounts and bank accounts with money in them. All that disappeared when our son battled cancer and that moment alone changed much in our eyes. It showed us that no matter what, you can not plan the future. From that point on, we decided to live in the now with our kids. We decided to not let moments pass us by that would eventually become years. We didn't want to just sit at home and try to rebuild savings accounts while not experiencing life with our children. So for us, it only made sense to try to live our dream and have no regrets years down the road.

For many years, Chris and I would tour RV's and campers. All those dealers became second homes and piles and piles of brochures sat on our table. We never thought our dream was attainable. All we ever saw were people with money and retired couples living in huge motor homes. We knew that was not for us. There was no way possible we could afford that. Roughly 9 years went by and we finally began to get serious, research and found tons of helpful information. There were actually families living on the road, working and making their dreams a reality. Finally, we were talking. That was something we could do and we did! We are doing this. It's hard to believe but we made our dreams a reality and we are doing everything we can to survive, to live and experience. It's definitely not easy. We've had the RV break down more times than we can count, we have put thousands of dollars into fixing it, we have had tears and stressful moments, but we are doing this. That is all that matters to us... we are physically living out our dream! We are truly living a dream that we have planned and wanted for years. It may not be perfect and it may not be the way our neighbors are doing it, but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that we are doing what is right for us. So for everyone who asks, "How do you do this?", "How do you make it happen?", or "Is this way of life achievable?"... Heck Ya. All we can tell you is that you have to do what you need to do in order to make your own dreams come true. It may not always be pretty, it may not always be the way that others see things, and it it may not be the way you envisioned it originally, but who cares. Just like any other thing in life, you will do what is needed in order to survive. The only difference between many other families and us is that our home has wheels.

So, Yes, the photos look amazing, the traveling is awesome, the friendships attained are priceless and the journey is never forgotten. However, there is always, always another side to the story. In the end, you just have to decide what you want more. It's not always an easy lifestyle to have but it's definitely worth the fight and these are the memories we will cherish forever. So when the going gets tough, we tell ourselves....