We have names!

After careful consideration and having a bit of time with our truck and trailer, we have given them names!

Bessie
Our 2011 Ford F-250 pickup is now known as Bessie. She is named after Diane’s Great-grandma Bessie May McClester Vale. Bessie was of Irish descent (McLaughlin and McClester). In the family archives, Diane’s Mom Betty wrote some biographical information on Bessie and Great-grandpa John Vale, Sr. The story goes that “John was traveling down the road in the farm area near Clinton, Pennsylvania when he was forced to take the side of the road to escape collision with a team of spirited horses being driven by what appeared to be an equally spirited young woman with red hair.” Later in the story, “If John was feeling adventurous, they would hitch up Bessie’s matched team and enjoy an invigorating and exciting race across the countryside with Bessie at the reins.” They married in 1899! Bessie also served as the business manager for John, who was a portrait artist. She would frequently tuck a hand-tooled leather portfolio beneath her arm and meet with potential clients (including Andrew Carnegie) to arrange for John’s next commissioned work.

Bessie May McClester Vale & John Webster Vale Sr – 50th Anniversary, 1949

Our truck’s “personality” is such that it is spirited with the turbo diesel engine. There are times when we’re on a rough road that she gives us an invigorating ride across the miles. Recently we took her on a 4-wheel drive adventure with Diane behind the reins on a forest service road in Pike National Forest. Bessie gave us an exciting trip up, over, down, and seemingly all around. She took to the trailer easily and pulls it up mountain passes and over boondocking terrain with very little effort. Since we purchased the truck on March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day, it seems fitting to honor Diane’s Great-grandma Bessie.

Tranquility
Our 2018 Northwood Nash 26N is now known as Tranquility. On July 20, 1969, the first lunar landing took place on the Sea of Tranquility on our beautiful Moon where the first human footprints were made by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. We both recall this spectacular event as we nestled around living room TVs in our childhood homes with our parents and siblings. While visiting the Great Sand Dunes National Park on September 21, 2012,  we patiently waited as the park ranger set up a powerful telescope one evening and pointed the scope at the moon, focusing on the Sea of Tranquility. It was a quiet night except for the gasps and comments of those peeking through the telescope.

Superimposed Super Moon over Great Sand Dunes by DianeFeltPhotography.com

We anticipate many incredible adventures led by Bessie pulling Tranquility. Earlier this week, they took us to a very tranquil location where we set-up camp without any hookups (it’s called dry camping or boondocking). The view was stunning during the day with the snow-capped mountains in the distance, at twilight with gorgeous sunsets, and in the dark of night with the star-studded sky.

Spirited and tranquil all in one package. Happy Trails lie ahead! We anticipate launching to full-time RVing status by the end of July.

 

Reality Check!

 

Okay, here’s a dose of our Reality Check! Guess what? Sometimes the pace catches up with us. Not everything may appear as it does from the outside looking in at us. Warm and fuzzy times meet cold and prickly moments! The reality is that sometimes not everything is a bed of roses, but thorny cacti!

Yellow Rose
Young Barrel Cacti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


As we’ve read in blog posts or Facebook posts of other folks who are full-time RVing, there are details galore to which to tend, that frankly sometimes just knock us to our knees. One couple wrote that downsizing drastically into a small storage unit and their trailer made them feel a sense of grief similar to what one feels when going through a family member’s estate after they’ve passed away. Definitely, grief has hit several times throughout our own process. We are also not setting aside time to enjoy just a few hikes or walks and have not bicycled at all. Yes, we’ve been a bit prickly and crabby with each other at times, despite loving and adoring each other overall.

There has been a large chasm between our last post and this one. A great deal of this hole is due to our somewhat “breakneck” pace that we’re keeping.

On the Go

We’ve made four major trips since March 23. Fortunately, having purchased our used 2011 Ford F-250 pickup a couple of weeks prior to the road trips, kicked us into our trailer-search mode.  All four of these trips have been absolutely fantastic as they included time with family and friends.

Trip #1: UT, ID, WA, MT, WY, CO (March 26-April 10)
Drove to Washington State to spend a week with our son and daughter-in-love. The drive through parts of UT and ID were beautiful. Prior to the trip, we researched Northwood Manufacturing and Lance trailer brands in the above listed states in case we could find one. Bingo! We found our 2018 Nash 26N in Helena, MT. Placed our downpayment and made an appointment three weeks out to return for it. Drove to Bozeman, MT for several days with family and friends. Then home to Colorado. Total: 2,600 miles

Trip #2: UT, ID, WA, MT, WY, CO (April 21-May 1)
In the nick of time, we had our custom SnugTop truck bed topper that we purchased at A&A Topper Sales in Littleton, CO installed the day before we left on this trip. Loaded yard and gardening tools, planters, a table, and four bar stools into truck bed. Also had numerous items for the trailer. We drove to Washington and delivered items to our son and daughter-in-love. We spent only two days before heading to D&D RV Center in Helena, MT to meet with a wonderful  RV technician over several hours to learn the ropes of our new Nash. We drove away in our new home! Our maiden voyage began with our first night at the KOA in Townsend, MT. Then onto the Sunrise Campground, Bozeman, MT for two nights. This gave us a little time to get acquainted with the trailer and to visit family. From there we had one night at the KOA in Buffalo, WY and one at the KOA in Cheyenne, WY before returning to Denver. We pulled our trailer into its space in outdoor RV storage. Total: 2,600 miles

Trip #3: VA (May 11-15)
Came to our senses and booked flights rather than driving. Flew from Denver to Richmond, VA via Atlanta, GA. We attended the college graduation of our niece from University of Richmond. It was great to celebrate her achievements plus spend time with family while in Richmond and Charlottesville.

Trip #4: NE, IA (May 23-27)
Dro
ve across Nebraska and as far as Davenport, IA on this trip. Made stops across Iowa to donate my great-grandfather’s book that Diane co-edited and self-published. Several public libraries and the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City now have copies to enjoy. Spent overnights and had enjoyable visits with family. Attended the high school graduation celebration of our other niece. Diane donated her wedding dress and three vintage dresses of her Mom’s to Diane’s high school alma mater’s drama department to be used as future costumes. Drove 775 miles and 14 hours in one day to get back to Denver. Fortunately, we made this trip sans trailer. Total: 1,700 miles.

The Checklist

The list is getting shorter, although some of what’s left is the most difficult, requiring more of an emotional process of sorting and letting go of household items that have been a part of our home for up to 42 years! This is some of what we’re accomplishing together or dividing and conquering.

  • Downsizing: gleaning treasures, cataloguing items that we’re keeping, packing for storage, donating or re-homing.
  • Calendar: appointments for truck maintenance, lawn sprinkler system repair., meetings, gatherings
  • Scanning: dozens of critical documents have been scanned, moving to the Cloud
  • Going Paperless: contacting various accounts to stop receiving mail.
  • Planning ahead: making reservations for 30 nights of stays in August and/or September, contacting family and friends to visit upon launching our journey.
  • Rearranging rooms: taping off a 10’ X 10’ section of the office to simulate what the storage unit size will be. Moving items for storage to that section. Moving items to sell to the living room. Items to scan to 2nd bedroom. We live in disarray!
  • Equipping the trailer (after discerning what in household can be repurposed): shelf/cupboard liners, linens, tubs, baskets, dishes, utensils, clothes, outdoor rug, heavy duty chocks, tools
  • Sending Mass Mailing/Email: notified family and friends of our plans and our shift to Traveling Mailbox and preferences of texts, calls, social media to remain in touch
  • Preparing to close business: Diane to close her Heartfelt Legacies business tomorrow!

A Deep Breath at 42!

We blew the whistle and claimed our 42nd anniversary yesterday to be a day off. Instead we selected a brand new trail from our brand new Colorado Benchmark Atlas. It was great to hike to a place we’ve never hiked, to drive rugged Forest Service road to get there, and to soak up amazing view from Devil’s Head Lookout Tower along the Rampart Range. 

 

What does 12mph and Speed of Sanity mean?

A 12 m.p.h. sign near the Chief Mountain Trailhead in Colorado.

Life happened the last seven weeks since our last post. A childhood friend passed away on February 7, so Diane drove back to Iowa to be present for her memorial service. This week-long trip also provided time for Diane to spend with Iowa family. Fast forward to March 1 and Steve retired. Then during the weeks leading up to now, we’ve been steeped in researching used pickup trucks, used travel trailers, pickup bed toppers, virtual mailbox services, and travel trailer insurance. We’re gradually going paperless between scanning, shredding, and making sure we receive important account information via email or by logging into accounts. And, we did purchase a used pickup two weeks ago. This week we ordered the pickup bed topper and signed up for Traveling Mailbox (our virtual mailbox). Today brought another donation run to ARC Thrift Store as we continue to downsize our household. The pace has been almost daunting, which brings us to the Speed of Sanity!

People have asked us, “Why 12mph and why Speed of Sanity?” Well, 12mph was the average pace that Steve anticipated for his bicycle ride across the U.S. in 2005. He coined our blog then as “12mph….America at the Speed of Sanity.” With the passage of time and the shifting in lifestyle, we are coining this next journey of our lives as “Life at the Speed of Sanity.” Yes, we will do some bicycle riding, but of course we won’t be driving the truck at 12mph! (To read the entries related to our 2005 summer, go to Categories and 2005 Bike Trip).

The online Oxford dictionary defines sanity as “The ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health,” and “Reasonable and rational behaviour.” Did you know the term ‘sanity’ is outdated in the field of mental health? Our first step in our own journey to ‘sanity’ is throwing off the expectations of the culture in which we live. For us, sanity is atypical and recognizes that we are not only rational, but relational and emotional humans. We are intentionally shifting to a lifestyle for us with a measurably slower pace, much like the 2005 summer. Likely, many people would agree that the pace at which we live, acquire or receive information, work, transport, shop, and communicate is frequently intense and rapid. A gentleman in our neighborhood mentioned last fall as he visited our yard sale, “Denver is hyper anymore between the traffic, the noise, the exhaust fumes, the rudeness. I’ve been here 20 years and have no intention of retiring here.” We are exhausted at the end of our days.

Yesterday we sat over breakfast to consider what we mean by “Life at the Speed of Sanity.” Slow down. Enjoy the surroundings. Savor time with family and friends. Be open for serendipity to surprise us. Appreciate spontaneity. Be flexible. Push away from a hyper environment. There are opportunities for us all the time and around us everywhere, but we zip right past them due to the pace of the world.

We anticipate witnessing kindness and civility along the way. (These were both experienced in 2005). Over the past 13 years, we’ve shifted our mindset to embrace the relationships in life, not the stuff. While not intent on becoming full-fledged minimalists, we are using the concept to help guide us. Having the stuff out of the way, opens us to possibilities of engaging with others, nature, beauty, and our Creator. After all, what good is the journey if you know the destination?