when we think about early retirement in the abstract, the visions we each have revolve around getting out into the big wide world. one of us dreams of exploring all of the mountains, rivers and lakes of the mountain range where we live. hiking the long trails, climbing the big crags, paddling the winding rivers. the other dreams of waking up in different campsites all over the western u.s. and canada, and mexico and central and south america, for that matter. tierra del fuego. northern alaska. our individual visions differ in the where, but not much in the what, the how or the why.
our souls crave the outdoors, the clean air, the pristine waters, the sheltering woods, the wide open spaces. we feel most alive — most ourselves — when we are far from roads, far from crowds, far from modern comforts. we don’t need to stare down death — we’re not adrenaline junkies. (though we have clocked our speed down ski hills once or twice, we admit. ah, youthful indiscretion. in truth, we hope to retire while we still have a little of that left!) we’re more the opposite — instead of feeling big and full of endorphins, we love how nature, in all her majesty, makes us feel small. we take comfort knowing that, long after we’re gone, and all of our ego and insecurities with us, the earth will carry on just fine. the mountains will keep rising up and crumbling down, the water will keep flowing, the stars will keep twinkling overhead. spending time in the wilderness connects us to the timeless. the infinite.
but this is not our version of walden. we’re not about to move to a shack in the woods and go off-grid. there’s a lot about modern life that we love. as we shared in our recent minimalism with plenty of stuff post, we always want to have a home big enough to house an indulgently large sofa, and a table big enough to host thanksgiving. and the modern part — we love our phones, our computers our our tablets. we love having the world of books at our fingertips, the catalog of every musician we’ve ever heard of a few taps away. our lives are richer for this access to arts and culture. we crave simplicity in terms of stress, and a shorter to-do list crowding our minds, but for us that doesn’t mean retreating from technology and humanity. would we love to have a better garden than our shaded lot allows? sure. but we wouldn’t trade it for the community we feel in our neighborhood or town.
this is a lot to want — wilderness, a comfortable home, technology, community. and we’ve thought a lot about how to bridge all of it. we think the answer is staying put in our house (or maybe a smaller house in our town), but giving ourselves a portable home on the road that will let us travel for extended periods without sleeping on air mattresses on the ground every night (we may still have a little youthful indiscretion left, but our backs definitely know that we’re closer to 40 than to 30), and without giving up access to electricity and the occasional wifi. a home on the road that lets us live our dirtbag dreams, even though we’ll be a bit older than your typical dirtbag.
but what should that home on the open road be? certainly not a big rv or fifth wheel — not our style. too gas guzzling. same goes for an airstream, though we love the style. just too heavy to pull without a big truck. we’ve thought about becoming devotees to the #vanlife trend, and that could be our answer, but that requires another internal combustion engine that needs gas and maintenance. right now we’re leaning toward a light, lean travel trailer. something we can pull with our subaru, with just enough space and no more, and with minimal parts to break. best of all is the price — a brand new travel trailer with all the features of a small rv runs under $20,000. this matters to us a lot.
we’ll keep you posted on the decision, but in the meantime we’ll keep dreaming about what our next life with a travel trailer could be like. waking up in more remote places than just developed campgrounds, since we’ll be fully self-contained. doing a little writing in the morning on our laptops, thanks to the solar cells providing power. cooking up breakfast from fresh fruits and veggies that we can keep in the on-board fridge, and then packing up a fresh lunch, too. heading out on that day’s adventure, on foot, or bike or boat. taking lots of pictures, and looking through them later that night on the laptop. finding a good vantage point to watch the sun go down, a blanket draped over us. playing cards or reading around a lantern after dark. crawling into our comfy bed with real sheets and a real comforter — not sleeping bags — and drifting off, ready to hit the road and do it all again.
so that’s our dreamy post for the week. :-) what do you dream about when you think about freedom? does the road beckon to you like it does to us? or, more accurately, the trail? anyone used a travel trailer and want to give us some advice? we’re all ears!