Having cleared out my conscience a bit, I've been feeling much more able to make progress on this dream, and I've set myself a time frame: six months. I want to be out of here by Thanksgiving, because if I spend another holiday at home I'll get all sentimental and have to detach all over again, and also because I'd like to spend it with my family far away.
To further motivate myself to get moving with, uh, moving, I've been indulging in some daydreaming about where I want to go, and I thought I'd share that here. This is an extremely long (and still incomplete!) list, but I don't plan to rush through everything. First of all, there are three states I plan to use as "home bases" for extended stays - Arizona, Massachusetts, and Florida, the places where I know the most people. Plus, I plan to do a lot of workamping to keep my costs down, and that will often involve staying in one place for several months at a time.
- St. Augustine
- Melbourne (Kayla)
- Boynton Beach (Terry)
- Miami (Netzi, if she's still there by then)
- Obviously, I will come back to Jacksonville for visits later on
- Alma (where my grandmother is from)
- Savannah (Kimber)
- Atlanta area (Donna, Bill, Abby)
- Historic sites around ATL
- Dragon*Con if time of year is right
- Columbia (Lovejoys, Melissa)
- (David W)
- Washington, D.C.
- Manahawkin (Spiffy)
- NYC (just for a day - park in Jersey)
- Boston (Val, Michael, Eli)
- Salem (Baptista-Toolans)
- Historic sites (?)
- Cincinnatti (Hannah & Ramona)
- Cleveland (Rock n Roll Hall of Fame)
- I'd say UWWG, but a Florida girl driving an RV into Ohio in February...
- Joliet (where my dad is from)
- Appalachians (ARGH, if time of year is right)
- Memphis (Graceland, as a bit of a tribute to my mom)
- Tri-Cities area (Ren, Laura B)
- Chattanooga (Haworths)
- New Orleans
- Jena (Alanna)
- Norman (Annette)
- Gonzales (Hillshade RV Park)
- Austin (Monica)
- Waco (Cameron T)
- El Paso (Samantha)
- Albuquerque (Whatever SUSS is being renamed as, if time of year is right)
- Tucson (Bobbie, Lin, Megan)
- Tempe (Roni and Lyle)
- Grand Canyon
- Everyone says I should go to Vegas, but no one has given me a convincing reason yet. I don't gamble and I don't know what else is there. Fill me in?
- Escondido/San Diego? (Uncle Joe)
- San Francisco (Meet Bobbie and Lin there, if possible)
- Corvallis (Diana)
- Vancouver (LIFE is Good, if the time is right)
- Mount Rushmore
Please note this is NOT a complete list - this is a brainstorming list. If you/the place you live are not here, it doesn't mean I don't want to visit you! You're probably missing because I don't strongly associate your name with the place you live, or I don't even know where you live, so none of these states brought you to my mind. I'm pretty open to visiting anyone and anyplace - as you can see, most parts of the country are "on the list." If the place you live is nowhere near anywhere I plan to go - well, even better! I'd love to hit as many states as I can, but there's some places I haven't yet found a particular reason to visit. Maybe that reason will be you?
And if you are on this list and didn't expect to be, please realize that I'm not inviting myself to your house (though I'd love to visit anyone who'd like me to)! This is just a statement of intent that I think you're way cool and I wouldn't dare swing by your area without, at minimum, inviting you out for coffee.
Also note that
the only reason Canada isn't on the list is because I don't know much about the logistics of crossing the border with an RV full of pets. I imagine there will be some bureaucracy involved. I still very much want to see Canada (and Alaska), but for now I'm keeping "The List" to the lower 48 for simplicity's sake. it is apparently not that difficult to cross the border and I will definitely make sure to find ways to meet up with my Canadian friends!
Finally, if you know of any super awesome places I absolutely have to go, PLEASE let me know! I'm especially interested in historical sites and lesser-known state and national parks - especially ones that offer workamping. (If you know places with living history or science-related workamping opportunities, I'm especially interested in those!)
I expect to be on the road for as long as I can afford it - I was originally thinking two years, but after hearing many people's success stories of finding work on the road, I'm now thinking I'd like to travel for five years or more. Of course, those five years will be the second half of my twenties, so I fully expect a lot to change in that time! Maybe I'll be married by the end of it. Maybe I'll have found a city I love and decided to stay there. Maybe I'll settle on a career that needs college and end up doing a degree. Who knows? Who cares? The biggest point of this journey is to find out exactly who I am, where I want to be, what I can do that I didn't think I could before. So I'm trying to keep my mind and my eyes open, and just let it flow.
The Caveat: Taking Friends on the Road
I currently live alone, pets notwithstanding, and my RV will probably have room to sleep 4-8 people (depending largely on how well those people know each other!) I also know that plenty of people my age are itching to hit the road themselves. In fact, when I first announced my travel plans, at least five people's immediate response was "Can I come?" The answer to that, no matter which friend is asking, is: Yes and no.
No, I'm not looking for a roommate or a permanent travel buddy. I'm very introverted, with a lot of weird sensory needs and idiosyncracies, and I just can't see myself sharing a tiny space on any permanent basis with someone to whom I am not married and did not give birth. I value my friendships too much to put them to that kind of test, especially with friends who may not be able to easily go home if it doesn't work out. Plus, I have a lot of friends who want to travel, and I don't want to put myself in the really awkward position of having to audition them to see who gets to go!
But yes, if I know you reasonably well, you can come along - for a while. I'd love to bring people with me to specific destinations, especially when I'm traveling to places where I don't know anyone. Maybe I can swing by where you live and carry you across the country until you reach a friend's house or decide to fly home - hey, it's cheaper than flying out, staying in a hotel and flying back, right?
Here's the ground rule, though: If you come along for more than a week or so, you're going to need to help pay your own way. Note, however, that I don't necessarily mean "I won't bring you along unless you give me money". Maybe we'll arrange to take turns workamping (only one person needs to work, usually, to get the site free), or maybe you can "pay" by helping out with stuff I will definitely need help with, such as pet care and dealing with mechanical problems. Maybe we can sell crafts or services and pool money to make ends meet.
If there's a place on my list that you really, really want to go, or you just want to travel, let me know! I'm not able to make any promises at this point, but I'm absolutely willing to talk to you about it. My house isn't even on the market yet, so we have plenty of time to come up with something.