Thursday, June 18, 2015

Enjoying the Rockie Life.

For the past month and a half we have been Buenavistans. I guess that's what they're called. We have experienced freezing weather and now some rather perfect temps. The river has risen to levels locals haven't seen in quite some time. With such fast rising levels, come some hazards as well. Several rivers have been shut down to commericial rafting while others can only be used at certain points. We don't allow the kids to play by the rivers just yet since the rapids are huge and the water is moving at alarmingly quick speeds. Their time will come but it just isn't safe for them at the moment. Plus, it's still freezing. However, before the rivers did rise, we were able to take them rafting through Brown's Canyon. We knew that if we didn't take them at that time, they wouldn't get to go til the end of summer.   They were dying to get on the river and experience the rapids, so we jumped at the chance. Robby was our guide (he works with Chris) and he was great with the kids. He allowed them to guide the raft, stand up surf and ride the bull, which is sitting on the very front. Makenna volunteered for that position. At the time we ran Brown's, the river was mostly class II and III. It's now mostly all III and IV's. I've heard from others that it's huge. Rafts have been flipping and people have been swimming. It's the kind of position we don't want the kids to be in so we're thankful we went when we did. Montana had a blast jumping off his first cliff during that time as well. Chris and I were kind of shocked he wanted to but are glad he's taking the chance to push his limits some. 

Two weeks ago we took the kids ATVing as well with Play Dirty ATV Tours. It's something that neither Chris and I have gotten to do and was definitely a must while being out here. It was a blast and surely not for the faint of heart. It's not a little meandering backwoods drive. Oh no, it's more like a full speed, fly up and down the mountains, through mud and around cliff edges kind of drive. Myla was a little scared but that could have been because she about flew out as we went over some bumps and humps. It's definitely something we would do again and we would totally pick the same company. They're a great group of people who love their jobs and enjoying sharing that with their customers. 

Being here has also given Chris and I the chance to hit the river several times so that we can paddleboard and kayak. As the river has risen, I've had to really decide if it's something I can handle as far as rapids and swimming. I'm not gonna lie, whitewater paddleboarding means swimming and with swimming that means getting back onto your board while moving down river and through several other rapids. It's an exhausting sport but still tons of fun. I'm sure that as we head into July, paddleboarding and kayaking will pick up big time. 

In the mean time, we take the kiddos up to Cottonwood Lake so that they can play around on the board and so that they can go out with both Chris and I. It's absolutely gorgeous up there. It's kind of hard to believe at times that we're paddling around in shorts while there are still snowcapped mountains right infront of us. Love it! It's become a favorite spot for us all and I'm sure we will visit it many more times in the next few months. 

Living here for the summer has given us all the opportunity to see something new, experience different activities and make new friends. Last week we all had the chance to attend the kick off company party for the whitewater season. The kids had a blast and I was asked to photograph the event. Chris gets to work with a great group of people, while the rest of us get to hang out with them all after hours. Life is good and Colorado is amazing! 

"Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Preparing for Craft Show Season.

It's hard to think that craft show season will be upon us before we know it. In order to get prepared and have as many things ready for that time frame, I'm beginning to make things now. The things that I'm making can also be purchased ahead of time because I've been placing them in my Etsy shop. If you know of some little girl who loves princesses, Frozen, hair clips or Dolly and Me bows, head on over to check them out. You can follow this link and it will take you straight to the shop. WWW.ETSY.COM/JESSOATBOWTIQUE. Feel free to share the link with anyone you may know who loves all things bows and cuteness. 

In the mean time, I'm preparing a post about all the whitewater adventures and ATVing fun we've had! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lessons from a year on the road.

It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since we left the house and most all of it's belongings behind to live this adventurous life on the road. For over 365 days, we have lived in either our 34 ft. class A RV or our 13 ft. vintage camper and we're all still alive and kickin'. No one has been left on the side of the road, Chris and I haven't divorced and we're still as happy as we were while living in the stick n' brick home believe it or not. And to tell you the truth, we're happier now than we were then.

So why the happiness while we basically live in a tin can the size of most people's bathrooms? Honestly, it's the freedom. It's the freedom from things that weigh you down and it's the freedom to create your own schedule. We still have jobs and we travel to and from them, but while working those jobs, we can create the view we want to see, the places we want to go and the amount of time spent on the road. There are definitely sacrifices to be made while living life this way but for us, those sacrifices outweigh the many benefits.

So what exactly is it that we have taken away from being on the road our first year?  Well, there have been many life lessons and truthfully, way more than we can share in a post. Living on the road is something that each person has to do for themselves in order to fully take away all the memories and lessons that go with it. You can't ask yourself if this life is for you based off of how others are living it and you definitely can't do it if you aren't willing to take the risks that are associated with it.

For us, it's been the lesson of less is way more. Here we sit in a 91 sq. ft. travel trailer made in 1977. It has no toilet/shower, it has no running water, oven or microwave even. It has a minuscule refrigerator that can barely fit a 12 pack of coke and a freezer that doesn't even fit a carton of ice cream. There is no dining table (because that's where Chris and I sleep) and the girls share a bed. However, what we do have is a roof over our head, cozy beds, snow capped mountains in the distance, a river running right behind us and many new friends. We have games played in the evening, star gazing at night, and a bondness like never before. We can grill, cook on the portable stove, and keep most of our food cold without keeping it in a cooler.  What we have attained is the realization that we don't need all that we used to have. There were way to many clothes, tons of toys and more than enough forks and knives to feed an army. Here we sit with exactly what we need and it's plenty. This right here is happiness.

We've learned that you have to do what is best for you. There is no right or wrong way in how we are supposed to live life. However, there are definitely more than enough opinions of how you should do it and with those opinions from others comes judgement. It took us awhile to finally take the leap and do what we felt was right in our hearts for us. As humans we worry about what others think and we worry about letting others down and in doing so, we hold back. Don't forget who you are in order to please everyone else. Everyone on this earth gets one shot at life. You'll be much happier if you fulfill the dreams you have as opposed to creating a make shift life that pleases others. Stand your ground and walk your own path. You never know who you just may inspire.

Living on the road has also given us the opportunity to talk to so many amazing people. We've held conversations with Vietnam Vets, chatted with people who have hitch hiked their way across Mexico and talked with families who have been doing this for several years. Those are all conversations we most likely would not have had in our old community. And for a reality check, we only knew two of our neighbors. Our lives in a neighborhood are usually surrounded with school, work, dinner, bed and that's about it. People stick to themselves. They do their own thing and truthfully, there wasn't really much talk happening when we did go for walks.  It's been absolutely amazing to show our kids that there isn't just one way to live life. We don't all have to take the same one way road in order to be successful. We want them to know that their happiness is the most important thing to both Chris and I. These people come from all walks of life and if you just listen to their stories then you could be amazed at what you learn. Being able to show our kids that people are different is an important life trait that they can carry with them forever. To us, it may be one of the most important.

The full time life has opened up so many doors for not only us, but for our kids as well. They get to see places firsthand without having to read about them in a book. They've captured snakes, rescued animals, studied manatees in the wild, caught jellyfish and lizards, and watched baby dolphins swim with their moms. They have been rafting through Brown's Canyon, gone ATVing, bodyboarded in the ocean, visited National Parks, learned to longboard and paddleboard, and have chased prairie dogs to only name a few. Their learning happens when they walk out the door. Of course learning also happens inside but for the most part, we encourage them to step out the door and explore the world around them. Living in something so small means they spend most of their time outdoors and that is exactly what we strive for.

Tomorrow is not a guarantee. You are not promised to live til tonight let alone another 30 years. The problem with so many people is that everyone feels they can count on tomorrow to get something accomplished. People tend to put off their dreams and their goals in hopes of getting to do it later. However, one day they will wake up and there will be no more time left. We've learned to conquer our dreams now. Chris and I feel that as a couple and as parents, we want to enjoy life with our kids in the now. We want to experience all that we can with all three of our children while they are young and while they are growing up. Sure, the "American Way" of doing things or the "correct" way to do things in our day and age, is to work, work, work and put away as much money as we can so that we can pay for our kids' college or our retirement at 62. But let me tell you, I know way too many kids and adults who have never made it to college or til their retirement. For us, we would regret not taking the trips, creating the fun memories, or experiencing all that we have with our three awesome kiddos just because we were trying to save for a wedding or their college. On top of that, how do we even know what our kids want to do at the age of 5? On the other hand, we will never regret having taken the chance to live out our dreams.  Our kids can walk away from their childhood knowing they got to learn in one of the most unique environments possible. If you have a dream, chase it now. There may not be a tomorrow.

Of course, living life this way isn't all about sight seeing and pure contentment. Trust us, we've had our share of tears, bickering, stressful months and way to many car problems to even count. We've had the RV breakdown more times than we care to share, we've had financial issues because of it, and we eventually had to decide on where to go after that. This life hasn't been a vacation. Actually, it's not a vacation at all. Just like so many people who live in this country, we have to work. We have to have money coming in and we are not on a permanent holiday. The only difference is that ours is lived while on the road. Our kids still do school, we still hold jobs, we have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and cars to fix. It's the reality of being an adult unfortunately. However, we chose to get rid of our belongings so that we aren't tied down to any one thing or place. The road before us is always open and when opportunities arise, we have the chance to chase after them.

This past year has shown us that we are capable of so much more than we thought. We're completely fine with living in a tiny home. The thought of us all living in something that was only 13 ft in the beginning would have had both Chris and I running for the door but once we began living outside of our house, we realized even more just how little we truly needed. As a family, we strive for outdoor activities. The only time we need to be in the camper is when it's raining, snowing, freezing or super hot. Other than that, we are out living it up. We can hike, bike, longboard, bodyboard, jump rope, slackline, have picnics, kayak, paddle board, and the list goes on. We long for new friendships made, new sights to see, different activities to participate in and memories that will last a life time.

People ask us quite often if we have a finish date to being on the road. Honestly, no we do not. Living our life this way is more than we thought it could be. We're all completely happy and feel we have only just begun on this adventure. Chris and I see no ending to the camper life. If anything, this first year has only added fuel to fire for the passion that drives us in this full time lifestyle. The memories we walked away with in the first year alone make us all want to continue living life our way. We see no need to "settle" down or live the traditional American dream. If anything, the new American dream is to live the life you want and the way you want to do it. Not everyone's dream has to have a white picket fence and high end careers. Our eyes have been opened to the vastly unique ways that so many others are creating their own dream. For us, this is ours.

So as we walk away from our first year on the road, we head into year two with a greater appreciation for the freedom that surrounds us. We take with us, awesome experiences, new found friendships, a continued love for the outdoors, amazing memories and the passion to do what we love.

Welcome year two!