Today we have a treat with a post from my wife. I thought it might be interesting for people to see life in the household from my better half’s perspective. I hope you enjoy it, and please do leave feedback and ask questions about our path.
Traveling during the off-season or during the workweek to vacation destinations is a great way to avoid the masses. In an earlier post, we pointed out savings when visiting cities during the off-season. If you have not already read that post, please check it out here.
If you are looking for a quiet campground experience, planning your stay during a workweek makes a big difference. We are writing this post from our travel trailer in Pine Grove Campground located approximately 20 miles south of Flagstaff AZ. We decided to camp for four nights, Monday through Thursday, leaving on Friday, which is when the majority of campers will arrive for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
For the most part, we have had the campground to ourselves, with the exception of a few 60-plus retired folks whom are seasoned campers staying for several weeks at a time. They have been quite friendly and shared their wisdom about extended dry camping using various power sources of solar panels, generators, batteries, and pure wave sine inverters. We have also enjoyed hearing their stories of where they travel to each year to escape extreme seasons. We noticed they seem very happy and content! We do not want to have to wait until we are their age to be able to do the camping and travel we desire.
What is interesting is that most campers seem to have at least one dog. We are a little different in that we have our cat “Hershey” who travels with us. Part of our decision to buy a trailer was so we could take our cat with us. Hershey adapts amazingly well and he spends hours gazing out the windows at the birds and squirrels.
Relaxing in Nature
This campground is off the beaten path enough that we do not hear any highways or airplanes. Also due to fewer campers during the workweek, it is incredibly quiet and peaceful. The air is clean and temperatures have been around 20 degrees cooler than the 100 plus degrees we have been experiencing at our home in Sedona AZ.
Due to the remoteness, we have had no internet access and little or no cell phone coverage. This has been an interesting experience and a blessing in disguise, forcing us to slow down and live in the moment while tuning in with nature. The last time we had no internet or cell coverage was earlier this year in February during our cruise to the Caribbean. Bryan especially finds vacations away from internet and cell coverage the most relaxing due to always feeling tethered to his virtual job.
I find being in nature puts me into a relaxed meditative state without any effort. Wednesday we went on a hike through a meadow to nearby Lake Mary.
Exploring the Arizona Trail
Thursday we hiked the Arizona Trail that we caught just outside the campground. The Arizona Trail is a 790-mile non-motorized trail traversing the entire State of Arizona from Mexico to Utah. The trail is open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers.
We had the path all to ourselves as parts followed an old turn-of-the-century rail bed. There were deer and elk tracks and we saw ravens, hawks, and even an egret. It was wonderful to experience the vast open space. It amazes me that we are only about 60 miles from Sedona experiencing such a different landscape.
Reevaluating Life’s Path
This week of camping has led to introspection about where we are heading and how we want to live. Something that has weighed heavily upon us this week is recent news that a friend’s son tragically died while studying abroad. This tragedy reminded us of how fragile life is, our mortality, and what is most important in life. Spending time with loved ones is priceless. We all have a finite time on this earth and we never know how much time we have left.
I WANT MY CAKE AND TO EAT IT TOO! If we keep waiting to experience early retirement until we have enough money to have it ALL we run the risk of perishing unexpectedly or never arriving due to health issues. Bryan wrote a post YOLO (You Only Live Once) that goes into more detail about this philosophy.
Sometimes the Path Takes a Turn
Yesterday we received a call from our friends that they will be unable to come visit us this month due to some unexpected health challenges. Later we were remarking how for years this couple have been talking about plans to take a big exotic travel excursion once they retire. Now they are in their mid-sixties and due to their living expenses and challenges with health, they have not been able to retire yet and will probably never be physically able to take this trip. I am sure many of us have heard of a similar scenario.
“Life if not a dress rehearsal” – Rose Tremain
We, like our friends, spend a lot of time talking about once we stop our corporate jobs we will begin living a lifestyle path where we can travel and spend more time with family. Do we wait until our health keeps us from experiencing the life we want to live? Do we wait until traditional retirement age path to spend extended time camping and traveling like the people we have met in the campground this week?
We are deeply saddened over the tragic loss of our friend’s son. It is sobering to watch our other older friends struggle with health issues. Facing tragedy and our mortality have pushed us beyond our comfort zone and are prompting us to grow. We may never feel 100 percent ready to take the less traveled path of retiring early and living the life we have been dreaming of while we are still somewhat young. This week has confirmed our decision to begin our journey sooner rather than later, accepting there may be unknown risks life could pitch us.