Setting out on this journey has been a roller coaster of emotions. The prologue was the toughest. Are we making a mistake? Will this camping thing be a flop and will we hate it? Will I miss my friends and family terribly and be miserable? What am I giving back to society? How can I be so selfish? How can I watch my clients sob before me asking what they will do without me and still selfishly move forward?
An email I received from a client justified why I can do this and feel ok…not ok, amazing, about it. Because I can inspire people in another way as we set out on this journey. A way a little different from “normal”. Maybe make people ask, why not me? How can I preach a life of living with passion and following your heart if I do not chase my own heart and my own dreams?
Picking up the camper from Shirley and Jim was a reminder of why we are doing this. As they handed over the keys to us they said they will probably mourn the next few days. They have been camping their whole lives and Jim’s health enabled them to continue. They also said that they had been to the State Park we are staying at, but could not hike all the way to the top of the mountain because of their health. This reminded me why we cannot wait for “the perfect time” to do this. There will never be a perfect time. We can’t keep waiting, because we never know what the future holds. We have talked to so many retirees who look at us with such hope and bless us for doing this. Almost every one says, “Good for you. Do it now, while you can.” Most of them have worked their whole lives for retirement, only to retire with bad knees, bad hips, or an unfortunate illness that does not allow them to do more than drive to locations, hoping for some scenery.
So, we drove away from Jim and Shirley’s telling each other that we would LIVE and enjoy these next 5 months in honor of them. I already felt such great energy in the camper, knowing that it came from such a beautiful couple who enjoyed so many years of camping. This particular camper was not able to be used as often as they would have liked, so we will pick up where they left off.
This camping experience has been amazing so far. It is exactly what we have always wanted. We had basically a campground to ourselves for the first 5 days, answering the dream Erik always had: “I just want a tiny house in the middle of the woods with 2 acres of land”. Well, we have a beautiful State Park as our backyard, with over 11 miles of hiking trails, 2 beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and greenery that makes you feel as though you are in the rain forest.
The best part? We are staying here for free!!! Electric, Sewer, everything! We are volunteering to help out around the park for a free stay. Our first job was….hike the trails! Literally, that was our job. We were asked to just take note of any areas on the trail that needed to be cleared up or back. So, we did.
We hiked the Lake Trail, Carrick Creek Trail, and to the top of Table Rock Trail. Such a beautiful park!
Last night the Ranger stopped to give us keys to everything. Anything we needed at maintenance we could use AND a key to the boat house. We could use the kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, trolling boats for fishing….anything! How freaking amazing. He also went over what our jobs will be this week. We will start by clearing brush from around the cabins, then we will head up to the Ridge Trail (a 2.5 mile climb) to do some trail work. EXACTLY what we wanted. Physical labor in and around the trails. We plan to work our tails off to give back to such an amazing State Park that has been so hospitable to us. Every Ranger has been more than accommodating and staying here at no cost has been such a treat.
We spend our mornings with our coffee, listening to Coffee House and Howard Stern on SiriusXM or watching our Golden Girls DVDs. We then hit the trails for some hiking, go to the Visitor Center where Internet is available along with rocking chairs on a porch overlooking Lake Oolenoy and Table Rock Mountain. It feels like it is straight out of a story book. We spend time listening to Y2Country on the outdoor speakers (LOVE) with the lights hanging off the camper giving us the look from Parenthood we always wanted 🙂 At night we play games (Scrabble, Yahtzee, etc) and we discovered our antenna picks up about 15 TV stations, so we watch TV before calling it a night around 9:30pm!
Time seems to FLY while we are here. The one thing we have predicted to be an issue is Gunner. He has been great so far, but has not left our side. When we start working on Monday we are concerned that he may be a nuisance. We did have a family of 5 just move in next to us last night and with the noise they are sure to make, I am worried he will bark and cry the whole time we are gone. We already warned them and they said not to worry. We’ll see.
A rainy day today. I will make a trek into town (20 minutes) to Walmart while Erik cleans and watches football. I am not sure I will ever be able to sleep in a tent again. This camper is so cozy and cute. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at Erik and said, “I love camping” or “I am so happy”.
Follow your heart. You will be amazed the opportunities that fall into your lap as you go. Everything seems to fall into place when you chase your dreams.