The Journey Begins: Travel Trailer Life Part 1

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Life is full all kinds of journeys. This one in particular started a little over 2 years ago when we sold our house and 90% of our possessions and moved into our travel trailer. Why on earth would anyone want to do that? Well, here’s our take on it.

I don’t remember exactly what started it all, but I remember realizing home prices were really high and somehow Cowboy and I started talking about pursuing a dream of living in the country. We had a nice home in the heart of the city and were very comfortable there but we were also thinking about long-term goals and how to get to them. We talked and dreamed and thought through all the logistics and after a lot of prayer and weighing different options, we decided to put out a fleece. We decided to list our house for top dollar and if it sold for that price – and no less – we would take that as a sign that it was time for a new chapter and time to pursue our dream. I still don’t know if that was a wise decision or not – putting out a fleece – but within 2 days of listing it, our house sold for full price. It was scary and exciting. We were doing this!

It was interesting to see people’s reactions when we told them what we were doing. Some people kind of shrugged as if to say, “it’s your life!” Some people shared their concerns and asked if we realized what we were doing and what it would mean. What surprised me most was the number of people who were excited for us and said they wished they could do what we were doing. Really? I didn’t know there were so many other weird people out there but as it turns out, there are!

After we sold our house we started minimizing belongings. Drastically! It felt SO GOOD to get rid of so much. We didn’t have much of a set system for what to keep, but it looked a little something like this:

  • If it was an absolute necessity, we kept it. It was enlightening to realize how few things fit into this category.
  • If we had room for it and it would be expensive or cost unnecessary money to replace, we kept it.
  • If it meant a lot to us and we had room for it, we kept it.
  • We kept all of our games, because we wanted to get better at having fun – the years prior had sucked a lot of life out of us so we didn’t the extra room they would take up if it meant bonding or fun.

After three garage sales, selling lots of things on local Facebook pages and giving a lot of things away, we started packing up our remaining belongings. It was a process that we all took to heart and I was so proud of our kids for how they got involved with such joy and paired down their belongings. We kept books, one bin of home decor items that I really liked, clothes, school stuff, some kitchen items, and some sentimental momentos. It was hard to see some things go but most of all, it just felt incredibly freeing. I truly believe there is a strong tie between physical possessions and our souls. It feels like getting rid of unnecessary “stuff” is cleansing emotionally and mentally, too.

On a rainy day in February 2015 we packed up the truck and one moving van and took all of our remaining belongings in two directions: one not too far from the house we sold in town where Cowboy would stay during the week because it was close to work, and one almost 2 hours away where the kids and I would stay in the travel trailer on a large plot of land in the country – Cowboy would come out every weekend and on days he didn’t work. We planned on this living arrangement to last through renovating and flipping a couple of houses and buying a new one to live in. We knew it wasn’t ideal but we were focused on the long-term and Cowboy and I were both willing to do whatever we had to do to make it work… And boy did we.

 

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Some of our family has a large plot of land that we cleared a place on and Cowboy ran electric and water so we could park our travel trailer there, under a canopy of trees. We always pictured raising our kids with lots of outdoor space to run, and this place definitely has that! We have a unique setup here in that we are close to some family members and are able to keep our washer and dryer, fridge, and some pantry items in a separate building and contribute financially to cover the resources we use. We also use their oven once a week or so because I quickly learned that the oven in the travel trailer is a joke (I use it as storage, along with the microwave). This setup makes it possible to go do laundry a couple times a week and go “into town” about an hour away to stock up on groceries twice a month. We have everything we need here and are surrounded by God’s beautiful creation. If we are going to live in a travel trailer in between homes, this is the perfect place to do it.

 

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Moving day in 2015. I looked at this and thought, “How on earth am I going to make it all fit?!”

 

Part of our plan was to buy, renovate, and sell hopefully at least 2 houses during this “transition” time (can we still call it transition time if it’s been years? Yes? We’re going to because I know the best is yet to come!). We have completely renovated every house we’ve lived in and Cowboy is amazing at it! We bought our first flip house after the move in the Fall of 2015 and had it ready to sell early 2016. It took a while because Cowboy was renovating it by himself in addition to working full time. I got to help stage it and it was so much fun! It sold quickly and we were off to look for our next house to flip!

 

 

 

 

 

This whole journey has been an adventure, to say the least! “Adventure year” turned into “adventure year 2”. I think it’s safe to say that life is an adventure, no matter what, and the “adventure” part is how you choose to look at it.

Like so many other times in life, things didn’t happen according to our best laid plans (I’m sorry, I know that is a total spoiler alert). Instead of one year, we are sitting at a little over 2 years. Every move we’ve tried to make has been met with opposition, which was very frustrating for a long time, but later Cowboy and I both looked back and felt it was God’s protection. House after house that we tried to purchase to renovate fell through so we finally decided to just start looking for a house to move into. Oh, the stories there! One time we were literally chased off someone’s land by a raving madman when we went to see a house. Another time we were stranded for a day on a back country road when our car got stuck in deep mud. Once in a while we found a house we liked but either our offer wasn’t accepted or it sold before were even able to make an offer (mostly the latter – this market is crazy!). Not only is the market high in Texas but we just couldn’t find what we really wanted, where we wanted it. We talked about moving back to the city, but neither of us have any peace moving back to a place we don’t want to be and spending money on a house that we don’t even like. We are currently thinking building might be the way to go – if I had my way, we’d move to Colorado and go to Bible college and figure it out as we went but Cowboy is a lot more analytical than me (thank God) and carefully considers every possible scenario before making a step. He takes such good care of us! The house hunting has been exciting but the home front has probably been even more so.

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While Cowboy was at work in town, we encountered lots of things that made me feel like a reluctant survivalist. In reality, I am far from a survivalist in a nice travel trailer with every amenity I need and family close by but still, some days it’s felt like it. Like when I found animal entrails (I’m assuming left by coyotes – but do coyotes usually leave anything?) and animal carcasses left on our “doorstep”. That doesn’t happen in the city! We’ve learned what snakes are poisonous and how to take care of them and I now know how to empty the black water in the travel trailer, take parts of it apart and put them back together, and do some general upkeep on it. It was difficult to live apart for Cowboy and I, even if it was only part time. I have a new appreciation for single moms and families with a spouse who is deployed. If that’s you, you are amazing! Much, much (much, much) grace to you!

 

 

 

 

Left: our first “batch” of newborn goats; Center: Lucy with her new babies; Right: Little goat hugs.

We’ve been able to be part of a growing farm out here and have absolutely loved it – mostly. We’ve learned how to raise goats, watched them give birth (good school lesson right there), and learn how to milk them. Same with chickens, except the milking part. We’ve been adopted by a cat who came right up to us when she was in labor and let us be part of her birth – she’s actually about to give us some more kittens (she keeps getting knocked up again before we can get her fixed). It’s been such a beautiful thing to get to watch so much new life come into the world.

It’s also been tough to learn the ways of the country and see so much of that life snatched too quickly. I helped a mama goat deliver her 3rd baby, which was stillborn, and I got to bury that baby as an act of love for her mama who worked so hard for her. I fell in love with a male goat (of all things! Seriously, what are the odds? The heart is a funny thing) and was heartbroken when coyotes ended his life too early. We’ve lost more chickens than I care to count and most of our guineas. This has been a rough part of country life for these city people. I proudly claim “country” during the big barbecues, evenings spent listening to wildlife, and family work days on the land. It’s easy to love it during the morning chores of taking care of animals and tending a small garden. It’s harder when it means finding out an animal you loved died, dealing with the endless dirt (sometimes I feel we live on a waterless beach), or discovering a mouse somewhere that mice should never be. On those days my tune changes from proud country girl to, “I’m so not country enough for this.”

 

 

 

 

Left: New chicks! Center: The chickens went through a hangry season where they would come knock on the door if I didn’t feed them quickly enough. I opened the door one day and knocked 3 chickens off the top step; Right: Leaf Butt. “That thing about you that everyone sees but you.”

 

 

 

Left: We got front row seat to watch kittens be born! Center: One happy mama; Right: 8 week old kittens on the day they went to their new home.

I’ve noticed a deeper, greater appreciation for life and God’s creation as we live life out here. Evidence of His handiwork is everywhere and the slower pace has allowed me to take more notice of it. There is so much symbolism in seasons, seeds and plants, and even all these animals running around. If you’ve ever watched a baby goat play with complete abandon and NEVER take anything seriously, you know what I mean. Or planted seeds, tended a garden, and enjoyed the harvest.

The animals especially, along with the kids, have been a sweet reminder not to take life too seriously, to choose joy, and to laugh as often as you can.

Another thing I have a deeper appreciate for is food. Eggs are not just eggs – they are the result of a lot of love and care. We cared for those chickens and watched and waited for that first egg and took great joy in it when it finally came! We spent time  keeping their coop clean, protecting them from predators, and making sure they are well cared for. They are so easy to care for and keep but it’s still pretty thrilling to see the fruit (or eggs) that comes from it. It’s easy to be deeply thankful for something you put hard work into. I think about that every time I crack open a beautiful farm fresh egg.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an equally hard and beautiful season but really, couldn’t we all say that about nearly every season in life? We’ve had broken bones, flooding in our storage structure that destroyed some of what we had stored, heartbreak within the family, deaths in the family, and things we got to be part of that were absolutely life-changing.

We have all learned so much here. The kids are learning to care for animals, that hard work is required to reap a reward, gardening and composing, woodworking, baking basics, and the beauty of working together to make something happen. I’ve experienced so much healing while we’ve been here and more than anything, I’ve learned that I always have a choice. What feelings I entertain, what I focus on, what I think about, what I choose to believe, how I choose to respond – all of those things are always my choice!

This brings us to now. We are all living together again, still in the travel trailer, and are still in a season of “when nothing is certain, anything is possible.” It’s a sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating place to be. Often I wonder if we made the “right” decision in starting this new journey. Sometimes I don’t know if there is a right or wrong decision. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know God has promised that His plans for us are GOOD. I believe He has something wonderful in store for us. And honestly, now that Cowboy is here, I’m very content. That’s not to say I don’t want a full kitchen again and a place big enough to entertain, but we truly have so much that I can’t complain. Our space is small but so is an apartment in New York City and so many homes in other countries – and they don’t have the view we have here.

Sometimes I look at what society says is necessary and question where we are – we are totally doing it wrong if we go by what society says. But then I look at what our goals are, what we really want (long-term), and I’m content. Our kids are happy and thriving, we are collecting experiences more than things, we have all that we need and more, and our future is spread out wide before us. I don’t want to be here forever, but I am content to sit back and see what the next chapter holds.

 

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Some of you have asked what it’s like living in a travel trailer so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it in the next post.

Stay tuned!

 

 

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