Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bucket List Moments

Even my 12 year old has a Bucket List. It's quite popular these days. Do you have one? I mean a real one... all written down and planned out. I don't but now I'm wishing I did. I never dreamed I would have this opportunity so I never bothered with it.
This past year I have definitely experienced some bucket list moments and many moments
that I will remember forever like...

Visiting Mt Rainer National Park

Riding a Sea Plane to the San Juan Islands

Seeing the Wild Orcas

Feeding Penguins

 watching a storm roll in from the top of a ski resort...

Going to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival
Flying over the mountains to California
Sleeping in the historic Disneyland Hotel
Watching my son and hubby ride California Screaming 17 times in a row
Having Knott's Berry Farm all to ourselves
Living in a historic adobe house in New Mexico
Learning about Swamp Coolers (water cooler air conditioning)
Waking up to sunshine and blue skies in Roswell
Hiking the old entrance to Carlsbad Caverns
Driving up Apache ski resort in Ruidoso
Seeing Disneyland at Christmas
Driving through a Snowstorm in Oregon
Living in a luxury high rise in Tacoma, WA
Smelling the amazing Christmas trees in Washington state
Feeling the powdery snow fall in Wa
Seeing Bald Eagles flying wild and free
Smelling the fresh air atop crystal mountain ski resort with my husband
Riding the WSDOT ferry to Vashon Island
Gazing at the Blue water of the Puget Sound
Viewing snow capped mountains from every direction
Visiting Point defiance zoo and aquarium
Watching the sea lions in Commencement Bay
Driving across the historic Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Visiting Gig Harbor and Bremerton
Parking on Ocean Shores Beach and watching a coyote chase seagulls 
Sightseeing Aberdeen Wa
Strolling through Seattle's Pike Place Market
Visiting the Seattle Space Needle and EMP Museum
Experiencing Seattle's aquarium and harbor tour
Smelling the California Sea Lions in the wild
Feeding the penguins at Seattle's woodland park zoo
Seeing the Elk Crossing flashing signs on the Highway
Experiencing my very own Northern Exposure in Roslyn WA
Hearing and Breathing the Snoqualmie Falls
Traveling to Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains
Eating West Coast Prawns
Riding the tram at Northwest Trek wildlife preserve
Riding the amtrak Train to Portland Or
Learning about public transportation in Portland
Browsing Powells bookstore in Portland OR
Eating VooDoo Donuts in Portland OR
Never getting a bad cup of coffee
Experiencing "my" Mt. Rainier completely
Flying in a seaplane to the San Juan Islands
Having a religious experience with the wild Orcas
Riding the clipper ferry to Victoria, BC, Canada
Road tripping through 7 States
Landing in the Wild Wild West of Winnemucca, NV
Vacationing in beautiful Lake Tahoe
Riding the gondola up to heavenly Ski Resort
Zip lining from the top of Heavenly Mountain
Parasailing in Lake Tahoe
Kayaking Lake Tahoe
Taking an evening cruise to Emerald Bay
Seeing the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Driving through Donner Pass
Staying in a 4 star diamond resort hotel in Reno
Driving in the desert with the windows down and not a soul in sight
Sleeping in the cold desert with a million stars all around
Smelling the desert rain
Experiencing on more than one occasion a complete stranger speaking truth to me
(that one gives me chills every time. I just say God, I know that was you)
and Going to as many Arcades, Pizzerias, and Casinos as humanly possible.

Yes we did all this and much much more.
I know I have left out a lot, like being in the hospital in Tacoma, lol, and how Steve works a full time nursing job to pay for all this joy.
We spent the last year truly living and experiencing true freedom.
It was priceless.
For years we devised Operation Freedom and we worked hard at Plan A
to make these dreams a reality.
It was totally worth all the sacrifice.
Today we are making choices about where we are headed in the future months.
We have not determined a direction at this point.
 Ultimately we will go wherever God leads us and wherever Steve decides to work.
We will sight see the local area and enjoy every moment. 
I've just started researching possible places we may travel to in 2015/2016.
We do plan on staying in the Houston area for a while...
and if the creek doesn't rise, maybe even 6 months or more...
to re-evaluate, take stock, and re-organize.
After that...only God knows for sure. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Life in Winnemucca

We are now into our last 8 weeks here in Winnemucca. Today is a pretty average day. All 3 of us woke early, checked our electronic devices, made contact with family and close friends, I fed the cats, opened the windows, had coffee, and made breakfast. 
That's my routine wherever we live, but here's what's so special about living in Winnemucca. 
When I woke up...I was cold. It was 68 degrees in the apt.
When I checked my iPhone I was reminded I am out of network. There's no AT&T service here.
When I texted friends and family, their day had long started 2 hours ago. 
When I raised the windows...I was greeted with a fresh burst of 42 degree wind 
and the distant sound of a train.

Shortly after we ate breakfast it began to rain ever so softly and the smell was incredible.
Maybe a mix of sagebrush, sand, wind and fresh water.
Who knows? maybe it's just a mix of everything Nevada. 
It was a short lived little shower that cleaned the air and settled the dust.
On a day like today we are reminded how slow life is here. 
It's incredibly quiet too. 
At night there's a lovely view of the city lights from our porch,
And the! 
It's a good life here and we've had a good experience living in the high desert.
However, day in and day out it does become monotonous for us city folk. 
Thank goodness for our close proximity to Reno! 
It affords us a few days of dining, entertainment, and shopping!
But it's nice to drive back to Winnemucca and sleep in the cold dark quiet desert
with a million stars all around...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Future Plans

God willing we will continue traveling for a while. It's been a great year. As our freedomversary approaches we've been discussing our options within Plan A.  Never before have we had so many opportunities before us which require decision making.
We hope to go back to Texas for a while, love on our family, upgrade our vehicle, and head east in the spring. On this go round we both agree we need to live less like tourists and more like the locals. That's a hard one for us because we are traveling to so many places we have never seen. Truth be told we are tourists in every sense of the word.
Except we rarely buy any souvenirs due to lack of space.  
This past year has been one big vacation that seemingly never ends and one we will treasure forever, but there are days when it does get old.
We love adventure but we need to pace ourselves in the coming months.
We did a lot this past year and we still have 2 more trips booked before we celebrate our one year of life on the road. One year... it just blew by.
So much we learned this past year and yet we have so many more lessons to learn...
and hopefully many more adventures to experience.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Cost of Adventure

Yeah, it's expensive all right. There are so many cost factors that add up. Everything and I mean everything is more expensive out west. After going without, I finally accepted the fact that I have to pay more to get what I need.  Gas has run from $3.45-$4.29 a gallon since leaving Texas a year ago. It may have dipped down at times, but its been an average of $4 bucks a gallon wherever we've been and we've used that number in our calculations and planning.

I know I already mentioned this, but it's the best example I have. Average groceries like milk, peanut butter and jelly and a few ice cream sandwiches ran us $25 bucks!

But what about the real cost of travel...

hmm...considering time as a commodity.
Then I guess we are rich...
Travel nursing has afforded us more time to enjoy doing the things we love, 
but I never imagined we would enjoy it this much! 
I half expected to make it through the first year and that would be it. 
We are fast approaching our freedomversary and I'll blog more about that and our plans for the future.

As most of you know by now, we sold our house and most of our possessions to live this life. 
We have one vehicle...a used 2008 jeep patriot, that's really all we have.
We travel with a few carry on's, duffel bags and backpacks. 
We are not rich nor did we win the lottery.
So, technically, we are poor by most standards, lol
Getting back to what it costs us...financially speaking. 
Steve works within a contract. He negotiates his contract. At this point, his contract includes furnished pet friendly corporate housing and all the bills related to housing. Sometimes we get blessed with wifi, cable, big flat screen tv's, bedding, housewares, linens, and new furniture. 
Sometimes some or none of those things are included.
It just adds to the adventure when we arrive in a new 
So far our housing has been great! and by that I mean NEW and MODERN.
New housing... better than any housing I've ever lived in and since its all included in the contract, we never see a bill, we never pay an electric bill, we never deal with the water bill, repairs, maintenance...
However since it is part of the contract, that means it does cut into the overall compensation. 
We can provide our own housing and bank the stipend (like $2k mo) but that's for another adventure in the future...
He is also comped for his travel between job locations and that helps, too. 
 I'm not going to disclose his take home pay because for one, 
each contract has its perks and that affects the bottom line. 
But, I will say that his take home is comparable to what he was earning in the
 Houston Med Center. 
The big difference for us now is that we are debt free! 
and what that means for us is.... Steve's paychecks are free and clear. 
Imagine what you could do if you had no bills, my friends! 
It's possible...
This is how we are able to travel, stay in nice hotels and buy tickets to do so many things...
So there are no financial obligations other than jeep maintenance, insurance, cell phones, gas, food, storage, medicine, Dr. visits, and then there's some other incidentals that pop up. 
Without the weight of the monthly bills on our shoulder, we have been able to say yes to so many adventures. 
Adventures we only dreamed of ....
Traveling to destinations we never imagined...
 WOW! I'm so grateful for this crazy good life 
and today we can say that we have spent the last year really our faith and trusting God. 
We haven't forgotten that this worldly life is temporary. 
We haven't forgotten who we are.
and since heaven is forever...
we keep on
working, praying, giving and saving like never before...
 not knowing where this journey will take us. 
That my friends is the true adventure.

Monday, August 18, 2014

One Year Ago Today...

I was overwhelmed...

I was blogging with so much anticipation and deep down I was scared to death. 
I was concerned about the unknown and struggling to put all my hope in a future that was unseen, unknown... unrehearsed.
A year has passed and all I can say is "WOW"
I am so thankful my husband had the vision to secure a career that would allow us to travel.
And with much prayer I am so thankful God changed my heart to accept this opportunity. 
We prayed, we even argued, but we put all our trust in God and walked out in faith.
Many times we did not know where we would live or even stay for the night. 
Many times our plans changed and many times we were disappointed. 
Many times we were at the mercy of strangers. 
But all the time we saw God's hand in the opportunities before us. 
Even when we were not sure (which was often) we trusted God and his ultimate plan for our lives. 
Did we make mistakes? yes, of course. This life is not perfect by any means. 
Did we learn from our mistakes? Yes, I think so. 
I consider it nothing less than a gift from heaven to live this past year in freedom. 
Freedom from a mortgage, bills, and society demands.
Freedom to change our lifestyle completely. 
and the freedom to choose...
Some days I am actually overwhelmed by the choices before me. 
I'm no longer a slave to society anymore and it took me a year to really let go and live.
I'm not as afraid anymore and truth be told what scares me more than anything is going back to Texas and taking up a mortgage and settling back into our past life. 
I still have nightmares about the pink slip electric bill...
Remodeling the bathroom...
and paying the car pmt late...and so on and so on...
It was a toxic life and and I feel ill and panicky just thinking about it. 
When we decided to take up this lifestyle, we determined that a year would be a good trial run.
To test it and see if we like it...

and friends...It's been an amazing year. 
I plan on recapping the events of the past year, but it won't be easy. 
I never imagined I would ever see and do such much even in the course of a lifetime.
We are headed back to Texas in work and visit and play and love on our family. 
To live forever?? don't think so unless it's God's will. 
Then we will.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Atlantis Resort Hotel in Reno

The way Steve's schedule at the hospital runs here in Winnemucca tends to be a stretch of working 4 or 5 days in a row followed by that same amount of time off! It works out great for taking little trips. Steve needed to get his fingerprinting completed for his Nevada license and I had some shopping to do and since we love Reno, well... yeah, we will use any excuse for a little road trip. We usually just make day trips to Reno, but since we had a few things to do and some time off I booked us a hotel room. 

We traveled all morning through the cold rain...

it never rains here,

 but it did on our travel day!

so we just took our time and listened to this great Journey CD from 1981.

and finally arrived at the Sparks Legends Outlet Mall...

of course I went to my fav store...

These days I buy little things that travel well. 

So small and perfect for sightseeing.

and don't forget about lunch...we chose BJ's Brewhouse this time around. 

oh my goodness...Pasadena friends...GILLEY'S in Reno, lol

the downtown strip...
and our hotel with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance!

We usually don't stay in such nice accommodations but without the cats...we splurged. I would have booked the concierge level had I known we would have our rooms and meals comped.  

All I can say is...WOW! 
This place is amazing.
There are about 7 restaurants alone. 
2 pools
valet everything
ahhh....and I'm sure there's much more amenities than I know.

Here is our lovely room in the Luxury Tower...

Small but very nice!

the beds were amazing...and the pillows...just right!

the newly remodeled bathroom  with casino bling...

even a phone by the toilet, lol

The rooms start at $59 a night, so I think they depend heavily on people coming to gamble.  We did gamble some, but with our streak of win, lose, win, lose...LOSE... 
we can't do that the whole time, lol

our evening view of the strip

a late dinner at the Purple Parrot

We signed up for the player club and got these free buffet comps!

So we ate at the buffet the next morning for brunch! WOW! 
It was huge!

and then enjoyed some family gaming...

Fun! I found my new fav game...the batman!
I got to drive the batmobile...
but I'm not very good at it. 

Steve found some old school games too!

and Spencer has some favs but he enjoys most all arcade games! lol

After a nap we had an early evening dinner at the Texas Roadhouse
and decided to take a drive down the strip

finally landing at CIRCUS CIRCUS, lol!
we pulled into the valet parking and had some more fun at the midway!

It's like a Carnival Chuck E Cheese Arcade

lol, sorry Spencer, I had to!

Finally the next day Steve had his appt for his fingerprinting and wouldn't you know it was right across the street from the new Reno Cheesecake Factory! So we had a very light breakfast, checked out of the Atlantis Hotel and headed for some cheesecake.

This restaurant has just opened within the last week and they still have some kinks to work out.
However, the manager was amazing and due to our long wait and wrong order, she comped us not just 1, but 2 slices of cheesecake! 
She tried to give us 3, but I assured her 2 was more than plenty. 
We usually only order one and we all split that.  
I'm impressed and hopefully we will be back... 
and I'm sure we will as we have already been to 6 dif cheesecake factory restaurants in 5 dif states this past year alone! lol

Red Velvet Cheesecake, one of our favs. 

and white chocolate raspberry! 

3 days of fun went by way too fast...back to reality and Winnemucca! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Winnemucca Extension

Well it's official. Steve signed an extension to stay an additional 6 weeks here in lovely Winnemucca, NV.  He still has about 3 weeks left in his original contract so this extension will take us through til Oct. 18.  That will be perfect timing for a wonderful fall roadtrip back to Texas.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have a solid date.  It will be a fairly hard drive of at least 3 days. So, I'll be planning the route and looking for pet friendly hotels along the way. We may head south to Las Vegas and then east through Arizona and maybe even the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque and back into Texas! 
This past year has been such a fun experience. I'll be blogging soon about how we lived like rock stars and tourists this past year and our thoughts about travel nursing in the future! 

Reflections on my Anonymous Life

Truth be told....I live an anonymous life right now and it's awesome. I'm like a tourist everyday and it's fun! Nobody knows my name here....and I like it that way. No, I love it that way. I have always been very private and over the years I learned how to guard my heart.  However now I find that there is a huge amount of joy in living this travel life less guarded.

This past year has been so therapeutic for me. September 1st will be our one year anniversary of being on the road...nomadic yes, homeless no.  It's like a whole new world opened up and slowly revealed itself over the course of a year.  I slowly let some of my guard down and began living again. Everyday is still revealing more freedom and tranquility that I've never known existed.
My little world was small. My circle of trusted friends was small and it still is... but I needed to get out of that environment.

Since taking up the traveling life... community basically went out the window. Now the people I come in contact with don't know me from Adam and I will most likely never see them again. They are not like me and it's ok. I don't owe them anything and all the pressure of being good enough is lifted from my shoulders. Wow, talk about peaceful.  In public I actually find myself more sociable. I can let my guard down and share my incredible life with them and they find me interesting. I never imagined.

I have experienced some of the most meaningful conversations with strangers since there is no fear of recourse! I'm able to live a more abundant life on every level.  No one to please. No one to win over. No one to judge me. No one to tell me I can't. No one to have to coddle and maintain. Am I accountable for my actions? Yes, even more so now... to myself, my friends, my family and God.

I see now that over the years many relationships proved hindrance to my personal growth. It was a safe necessity and it protected me at the time, or so I thought. The letting go of everything that enslaved me ultimately brought about a different level of living. This truth was something I never saw coming and it really opened my eyes.

 I am such a work in progress and I
see that like never before. I never expected that stepping out of my comfort zone would give me such clear vision and empower me to live the life that I was meant to live.
This year has turned out to be much more than just a gift of sightseeing but a true life lesson on learning about myself and what I really need in this life...on this temporary journey.

I've wrestled with many fears this past year and I'm looking forward to the lessons that are yet to be learned... no matter where the road leads in this great big world... 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Humboldt County Museum

Steve works at HGH Humboldt General Hospital. The only hospital in the county. 
Shortly after we arrived we received a phone book. It is so small I thought it was only for the town of Winnemucca but it is for 3 counties. 
This area is so sparsely populated that everything is scaled way way down in comparison to the larger cities we've visited. 
We have been enjoying Steve's days off and using that time to sight see around the area. 
We found a nice little city park just outside of town that is home to the Humboldt County Museum. 

At first when we arrived shortly after noon it was closed...for lunch. 
We came back around 2pm and they were open for business, lol.
Small town issues... 

There's an old episcopal church that was moved to the grounds and remodeled.
It's open for weddings and events!

Here's an old general tiny

A lovely home of a prominent railroad conductor...

info about the railroad...

The view of the museum grounds as you drive up from the highway...

Inside the main building there were some old restored cars. Steve and Spencer enjoyed that a lot. The rest was just local history about the town...schools, buildings and the people. There really was not a lot to see here, however the grounds were nice and clean...
 and it made for a nice afternoon visit.
But I'm ready for more adventures...Reno, San Francisco, Yosemite...