One of the many things my new husband and I had in common was our LOVE of camping, dirt biking, and exploring nature. Both of us have always been drawn to being in the woods: campfires, hiking, wildlife, rivers, lakes…what’s not to love? We both find God there, in creation. So in June of 2014, Doug and I purchased a new 26′ toy hauler (for the dirt bikes!) and began our camping adventures.
That summer we spent almost 50 nights in the camper. My pantry in the RV was stocked better than the pantry at home! We took long weekends to extend our camping trips; then, when even that wasn’t enough, we found we could camp for weeks if Doug commuted the 90 miles by motorcycle to work from our campsite. We were obsessed. We quickly noticed that we much preferred the camper to our new beautiful 2,400 square-foot home! In fact, every time we returned home we were sad. Seriously. Sad.
In August of 2015 we had the big ah-ha moment and knew we needed and wanted to change everything. Since it was such a big life change, we decided to first try it for a month and see how it went. If it was as wonderful as we thought it would be, The Plan up for discussion was to sell everything, retire early (wayyyyy early!), buy a newer and larger RV, and live in it full-time.
First we took an additional month to research and discuss logistics, and if we could actually make this work. Could we? Doug is a planner, and going into this he needed a PLAN. We knew we were too young for the traditional concept of “retirement” and wanted to keep working at something, but we wanted it to be at something we loved, and on our own terms. As exciting as this idea was in theory, was it even doable? Or were we crazy?
Our financial planner had just told us weeks earlier that to retire comfortably we needed to work until we were 70. At 50 and 55, that was still a long way off for us! What about health insurance? Could we really reduce our monthly expenses to way less than half? Was there work on the road for us; could we make a living or at least some income as we travel? We had fears…and many of them.
A month of discovery was just what we needed. We were like giddy little kids talking about our “escape plan,” which is what we came to call it. Those weeks proved invaluable, and the yellow brick road was being paved. As we camped that month, we did so with a purpose. We started talking to Forest Service rangers and campground hosts, and read every blog and article we could find from those who had gone before us.
On one such weekend of interviews we met with the camp hosts at Grand Jean, Idaho. They were lovely couple in their late 70’s who had been camp hosts for over 10 years at the same campground. After two hours with them, we were encouraged that we could do this! They were being paid to camp in one of our favorite spots on earth. They passed on the name of their employer and encouraged us to apply.
The escape plan was coming together…we could do this. We WOULD do this. We set the date, April 2016.
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