A Year of Driving; A Driving Year

One year ago today, perhaps one year ago this moment, I looked up from my tea and said, “It sure would be cheaper to live if we didn’t have a house to take care of.” And the other responsible mature adult in the family, rather than laughing at my insanity or rolling her eyes at my immaturity, looked down at her tea and said, “We can’t leave today, but we could go for a nice long drive and talk about it.”

sunny nomad familyOne year later we’ve realized that we’re barely getting started. There’s so much to see and do. We’ve certainly seen and done a lot already. But just counting the predominantly English-speaking portions of North America we have passed through only 21/63 of the states, provinces and territories (which you mathematicians know can be reduced to 1/3; hey, we’re homeschoolers, we’re always teaching.) And that doesn’t even acknowledge the original goal of sharing a meal in each state, province and territory. That probably requires a complete recount which may reduce the number significantly.

Canadian waterfallAnother Year—At Least

One year from now we hope to be 63 for 63.

That’s going to take planning and occasionally pushing just a little. So far we’ve let our travels take us wherever there was a place to go. During the coming year we might make choices instead of drifting on the wind.

It does not yet feel like work. We don’t feel unstable. As the bumper sticker in Taos New Mexico said, ‘all who wander are not lost.’ We wander, but not lost.

Settling In,
Not Settling Down

We’ve talked about moving our World HQ from Northern California to the frigid wasteland of Wisconsin in order to be close to my mom as much as possible. We’ve taken a few preliminary steps but it’s nothing like settling down.

That process though raised thoughts of settling down. We realized as we drove and talked that we no longer need to travel. Now we want to travel. We’re not sure we’ve seen any change in our finances. What we have seen is a great long list of changes in us.

Canfield familyLessons. Friends. Wealth.

After knowing each other nearly four decades we’ve managed to learn new things about each other during the past year, even during the past month. Sue has developed greater faith that things will work out, that we will sleep indoors, eat regularly and have the things we need for our simple life. I’ve developed greater faith that I can advance confidently in the direction of my dreams. Our little one has learned that not all heights are dangerous and that outside is better than inside.

A caravan of angry camelsWe’ve made dozens of connections and half a dozen lifelong friends. We’ve realized the power of asking and the nearly universal presence of generosity and kindness.

There are still challenges almost every day. Being a nomad doesn’t mean leaving challenges behind. It means doing battle with the challenges on our own terms. We have learned to measure our wealth not in dollars but in time spent doing what we choose.

We are rich beyond belief.


  1. Yes, it’s been quite a year. We’re very glad we took that drive as well! It’s been lots of fun, we’ve met so many new friends and seen such wonderful country.

  2. Nice!

    I have wondered about your financial balance. I can see some savings but then places that increase costs like not knowing where to shop for bargains when you first arrive in a town or the cost of gas & van repairs or the cost of leaving salt and toilet paper at the hosting home.

    Whether at one address or on the road I would need occasional treats – how are these different when one is nomadic?

    I can see saving money on Fiona’s dance or swimming lessons or tai kwon do or soccer but I imagine this is offset by very few visits to amazing tourist sites – some of which must be visited or part of the point of going new places is lost. And, while not everything worthwhile costs money, some things do. BTW, have I encouraged you to go to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.? All the museums are free and one could “go to school” there for years.

    Meanwhile, more dollars! More sufficiency. More fun. More generosity with stuff. How great would it be to be nomadic multi-millionaires?!

  3. We truly don’t live much differently now than we did when we had an address. Our favorite drink is water, our favorite activities are walking through the park, listening to music, visiting with friends.

    I’d say virtually the only increased expense is gas, and more oil changes and tires. But it’s not extreme, and so far, repairs are still under warranty. Much cheaper than a house in California ;)

    I want to see the Smithsonian, but feel free to remind us when we announce we’re heading that way. I’ll forget.

    It does feel like we’re on the verge of some big changes, financially. I’m falling into the trap of not letting myself get excited because that increases the disappointment when things fall through. Not healthy. Hope for the best, and be prepared to accept it when things fall through. But ignoring the joy of hope isn’t helpful.

    Working on that money attitude, we really are.

  4. Oh, we get treats Caitlyn! Dark chocolate wherever we can find it. :) And we’ve been able to see lots of things for free. The cost of leaving some toilet paper at a hosting home is no different than purchasing some for our own home. Asking a local friend where to shop for bargains has always worked out. So far our travel certainly hasn’t been more expensive than staying ‘home’ and never seeing anything new.

  5. Well, I’ll tell you “staying home” around here is costly! First we fall in love with a house for sale. Not a rental. Buy. Huge mortgage (+ all that interest!) Then renovate, fix, renovate, fix, improve, fix, plant, now paint. Not to mention filling the place with things like a new couch!

    And in less than 2 weeks almost $4000 of property tax are due. There ain’t no way you’ve spent $4000 on oil changes and tires. Or almost $4000 on painting anything. And, your couches are supplied free. Phew, I’m glad I have a millionaire mind – otherwise this might look an awful lot like living in the rat race… or, um, er … squeak.

  6. Two sides to all of it, of course. If there’s any way we can settle down in a beautiful old house in a nice town and fix and renovate and plant and improve, I’m pretty sure that’s on the menu somewhere out there a ways.

    But if you ever really start thinking you’re in the wrong race, you’re allowed to change tracks.

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