Back in 2006, we were a young, energetic couple that had decided to put the 9 to 5 lifestyle on hold for a few years and take to the road.
Our plan was to stop in small towns, out of the way places and visit as many National Parks throughout this great country of ours while writing and photographing about our journey.
We had no idea what to expect? We had never tackled a road trip of this length or time frame. Who knows…..We thought that we might have liked the travel lifestyle and continue to carry on with it or we might not and we’d go back to a steady job once the trip ended. We had no idea what to expect and just thought we’d take what ever was thrown at us, be it 4 months of 4 years.
When Cindy and I met, we were young and carefree and wanted to travel the States before settling down to work out the remainder of our lives. Having a young daughter who might not understand what her parents were doing and why, we decided to wait till she was older and out on her own.
We never let go of our dream and made sure we always kept it in mind when taking on any new goals; we had thought about it and kept aspirations of accomplishing the adventure since we met one another sometime back in 1993. We might not have talked about it everyday, but it was always in the back of our minds in every decision we made.
Now that our daughter had grown old enough, with her feet planted in a positive direction, we decided it was time to take advantage of this opportunity and go on the trip of our dreams.
Most people would wait till they are older and reach that retirement age before they’re ready to take a journey of this caliber. We thought we would rather take the time to do it while we were still agile enough to accomplish all the activities we enjoy doing while our bodies were in great shape and never held us back from tackling anything put in front of us.
When this trip began, I was in my early 30’s and Cindy had just turned 40. We agreed this was our most opportune time to accomplish something of this magnitude. No longer were we young kids making silly decisions, but we were decades away from our Golden Years. We also thought that if the trip ended up taking multiple years to accomplish, we’d need some fall back time to recoup our cash losses we would incur during the hiatus from a steady income. Most of this was paid for from years of working multiple jobs, living very frugal and selling everything we owned to pay for our truck, camper and camera gear. Even though everyone thinks we’re Trust Fund Kids living off their parents fortune, we’re far from that.
We both come from very blue collar families who taught us hard working values that we put to good use with every business opportunity put in front of us.
We were originally only planning on a two year trip thinking we’d have circled the country multiple times. Little did we know that 4 years into the adventure, we’d have spent every dime we had put away and hadn’t even visited all the continental United States.
I heard a great quote the other day that made me think of this last paragraph. It goes something like this – “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
By no means are we trying to ridicule anyone in their Golden Years, but doing extensive research on this topic, there is one thing almost 100% of couples traveling together have told us, “If we would have done it while we were younger we could have taken a few more risks and tried more adventurous things”. Neither Cindy nor I want to look back years from now and say “What held us back?” “Why did we wait so long?” “I wish we could climb that peak, but I just can’t climb like I used to.” “If we only would have done it sooner.” This was our reasoning for doing this trip at such a young age and not worrying about spending our retirement money long before we’d really retire.
A Little History on the Two of Us
We met at an early age and pretty much grew up together learning each others quirks and abilities while learning quite a bit about ourselves in the process.
Cindy and I have both worked in the hospitality business for most of our lives. We met while working in a restaurant and ended up owning our own, very successful restaurant in my home town of Milford Michigan. We owned and worked side-by-side in that business for 6 straight years before we sold it to leave on the Every Miles A Memory road trip.
During our relationship, we have endured many losses together and have always pulled each other up through our hardships with time spent together resulting in coming out on top of any situation we encountered.
Dealing with the emotions of losing two siblings, both under the age of thirty, it was a major decision maker to throw caution to the wind and live our lives enjoying every day. With our passion for adventure and learning, we hoped this journey would be our driving force for many good years and many good stories to come. Needless to say, we get along great together and luckily for us, spending many hours together in the small confines of a RV wasn’t anything we had to worry about. We have many things in common with one another, and share many of the same interests and passions.
Cindy is a great cook, always the most liked person in any room and always looking to try something new. I love to see and try new things, and love to explore new areas, I can get along with just about anyone and I can adapt to almost any situation. We would consider ourselves very outdoorsy and adore being surrounded by nature. While together before this adventure, we had taken many trips around the United States, and it seemed we were always looking for a new adventure.
With our interests in photography, writing, and exploring new places; the combination of the three was a story book waiting to be written.
About the only thing we love more than being outdoors and the company of one another, is finding new towns to explore while photographing our journey along the way. We had always made it a requirement anytime we went on a trip, to only travel along two-lane roadways and never get on an expressway unless it was absolutely necessary. We feel this style of travel shows us the true meaning of America and what’s out there.
What We had Hoped to Accomplish With This Trip
Too many times had we heard the complaints and woes of everyday life, with talk of dreams left undiscovered or left behind; to most, the only excuse for not accomplishing life’s most important goals and dreams were the drudgeries of every day life. Getting away, if only for a few days, to relieve some stress becomes their only serenity and strength; most only taking a week throughout the entire year for a vacation, and then most of them were bringing along work to finish on the trip.
Our goal with this trip of ours was to give people some tips and trips that offer relaxation, a little bit of self sufficient abilities and the satisfaction of leaving your worries behind even if only for a short time.
We hoped to show others that short get-aways can be done with little planning and only limited funds. You don’t need to save up for the entire year to make that vacation enjoyable. Multiple weekends spent leaving the worries behind can make those everyday stresses much more tolerable.
Whether it’s kayaking the picturesque shoreline of Lake Superior, paddling down a small river nestled in the woods or the shoreline of a forgotten island in the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you’re hiking along a section of the Appalachian Trial, or mountain biking through the backwoods of some ancient forest, we want to let people know this is still accomplishable on a limited budget with limited time.
How We Accomplished our Adventure
A tow behind camper or Travel Trailer is what we decided would suit our needs best. We weighed out the options between Class-C Motor Homes, Pop-ups, and Slide-In Truck Campers with our reasoning being that if we wanted to travel for a few years and not get on each others nerves, than we needed the space of a small Travel Trailer without having the length, height and weight restrictions a larger camper would have incurred.
A Class-C Motor Home was our first choice, but when we looked back on our many previous road-trips, we thought back on how narrow most of the roads were, how many times we had to turn around to get another look at some roadside attraction, and how traveling in a large Motor Home would limit us to bigger roads and that’s not what this trip is about. We both liked to get off the beaten path and find out of the way campsites back in the woods or out in the deserts.
We understood that a travel trailer might be a little small for the two of us for a year or more of non-stop travel, but we planned on being outside as much as possible and really thought we’d just be using the camper for sleeping. We ended up living in a lot more than we had planned, but it was lots of fun and I wouldn’t have changed anything looking back on it now.
I will be the first to admit that at our age, tent camping in the pouring rain had lost its adventure aspect and a dry bed with a roof over it seemed so much more appealing. Living out of a back pack for a full year isn’t exciting at my age and having a few of life’s luxuries available made a trip so much more livable.
Traveling as light as possible but still allowing us some creature comforts we tried to be as energy efficient and Earth friendly as possible. We installed solar panels on the roof to aid in charging our bank of deep-cycle house batteries which allowed us to travel without having to worry about finding campgrounds every night. Boondocking is more our ideal way to camp, although the typical RV campgrounds were welcome treats after spending days, sometimes weeks off-grid.
When we saw a spot we liked, we pulled over and explored it without having to worry if they had a campground with all the proper hook-ups. Our truck ended up being a Ford F-250 Diesel and we tried everything possible to get the best fuel economy available. Looking back, we probably averaged between 12-15 mpg. Some might say that’s not all that GREEN, but when that was really our only foot print, it wasn’t all that bad in my book. Living the gypsy lifestyle, you eat local, you buy local and you tend to use much less than when you have a faucet you can turn on and not worry about the water usage issues. If you want to read more into this, check out a recent blog post I made about Saving The Earth While Living in a RV
One thing we never planned on doing was driving across the country in record time, we had planned on spending a few years on the road and wanted to go as slow as possible and see anything and everything that passed us by. A few hours a day spent in the vehicle, with four being the max, was our daily limit if we had to move from place to place. Most of the time an hour or so was the norm, and every now and then we might stretch that if we really needed to get somewhere, but that was few and far between.
We never had an agenda, but rather go where the road and weather took us. If we found a place that we liked, we stayed a week or more or until we felt we had exhausted our options. It usually depended how much there was to do and how nice the locals were. Heck, some places there wasnt even all that much to do, but the locals might have been so much fun, we’d stick around awhile just enjoying new friends.
These topics along with the adventure itself made for an enjoyable read if nothing else. For those who can’t take a few years off, they can follow along on our journey and learn from our mistakes for when they are ready to do it themselves. For those who are planning a trip like this of their own, they will be able to see what it takes and maybe take some notes for their adventure.
We hope you can join along in our travels and we look forward to hearing from you if you have any comments or suggestions.
Thanks ~ Pat & Cindy Bonish – Every Miles A Memory