October 14, 2016

Traveling Tuttles: Come Away...Home Away

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song
Come away with me on a bus...
 Come Away with Me...Norah Jones 

Do you ever find yourself singing a song because certain words come into your thoughts?  Yeah....it happens to me all the time.  I found myself singing the Norah Jones Come Away With Me song since I've been thinking of traveling as a lifestyle. 

We've been RV "shopping" every weekend since returning from our trip last month.  We've been doing this so we don't lose focus on our goal.  It's our way of being "visionaries for real".  

In our search we found a motor coach that can possibly fit us comfortably.  It looks very nice inside. 

Cozy...comfy...and the whole nine yards!   

Yep...I totally got the vision of us traveling from state to state....RV park to RV park with our van in tow. Yeah...it could work. 

But then the thought of the day to day life became a tad more clear.
Hmmm.....Yep,  that's what happens when you think a little more on the details...the little details. 

An important detail is to make sure Donnie has a comfortable work environment.  Donnie is a sales coach so he needs space with little distraction and minimal noise so he can do what he does best...motivate, inspire, encourage his clients.  He coaches clients via phone calls every week. 

A very vivid image of him trying to work in our 40ft motor coach came to mind: Kid noises fell into my ears; A rainy midweek day came into my thoughts; The possibility of the kids arguing with no room to escape;  Donnie getting all worked up because he's not able to concentrate eventually saying that we can't do this "traveling thing".

Honestly though, how could we make this work for Donnie?  Ok...yes...he could rent office space in the city we were staying at. But really?  Realistically speaking...that's not what he is looking forward to doing. 

I've been reminiscing of the home we rented during our Christmas getaway in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. That house was great!! We had plenty of space for all of us to stretch out.  It was equipped with everything we would need; We had WiFi connection, TV for the kids, plenty of outside space.  Beautiful and peaceful surroundings.  I could have easily stayed in that home for a few months.  Unfortunately...real life called us back...Donnie's office job and kids' school. 

Today we have nothing holding us back.  We are free to roam where we want to....all around the world (Remember the B52s?) 

Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, without wings without wheels
Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, without anything but the love we feel

Roam about in this amazing country....Heck...the whole world!!

I proposed the idea to Donnie....something to ponder on.  

Could it become a reality?  Could we live in Home Away homes or an Airbnb while we traveled around the country and eventually the world?

For those who don't know about Home Away, it's a site where you can find vacation homes for rent.  This is how we found our Michigan Christmas cabin.   I think it was once known as VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owners).  It is very similar to AirBnB yet a tad bit different.  I think AirBnBs are generally known for renting out rooms in homes to travelers.  Although, they do have whole houses for rent.  Whenever I think of an AirBnB...I kinda, sorta compare it to a bed and breakfast?

Anyway...the more we talked about the possibility of traveling this way, the more excited we became of the opportunity that was before us.  Yes...absolutely we could do it!  We ran some numbers in our head....continued to "dream"... looked up some of the home rental prices on the website and realized that we CAN DO IT!  Many of these homes are available for a lower rate if they are rented out for a longer stay. 

We gathered the kids around the dinner table and shared our idea.  Some of the kids were sad by the thought of us not traveling in an RV.  One child shared his concern asking, "How could we still visit the grand canyon, the great plains, or places like that if we don't have an RV?" We explained to him that there are people in this entire earth willing to rent out their homes to people traveling.  We told them that wherever your heart desires I'm 100% certain that there is a home in close vicinity.  If not...then we just have to drive a few hours to get there.  

We pulled up the website homeaway.com, typed in the location where the grand canyon is located, our family size and rental price suitable to our desire.  We found plenty of homes available.  We answered some more of their questions then realized....we all realized it was possible to travel while Daddy works!

To begin preparing for our grand adventure, we are getting rid of those things that will hold us back. Our lease in our current rental home ends in March of 2017 and from there we have no idea where we will be going.  Thoughts have crossed our mind about living near the beach, close to St. Augustine or Jacksonville since some of the kids have been interested in surfing lately.  

We may stay on the coast for a few months then either move towards the west....into Texas...New Mexico...Arizona..then into California.  Or move up towards the the east coast and experience a season living in snowy weather.  Maybe Alaska...heck why not Hawaii.  We don't know! We would love to have lived in every state.

It's all truly in God's hands.  And honestly that's what makes it even more exciting.  We believe that in our travels we will meet interesting people...we will make new friends.  

But you know what? Our home base will always be Florida.  Hurricanes and all! 

Our family is here.  Our amazing friends are here. This is where Donnie and I met.  This is where our kids were born. 

We know that we can always come back to living the life we have been living for the past 24 years.  The place we currently call HOME, Gainesville, Florida.  

The place where we began our family..growing from two to ten.

Yeah...that place.

I leave you with a little tune that just ran through my noggin...

Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Alabama, Arkansas,
I do love my Ma and Pa
Not the way that I do love you

Well, holy moly me oh my
You’re the apple of my eye
Girl, I've never loved one like you

Man, oh, man, you're my best friend
I scream it to the nothingness
There ain't nothing that I need

Well, hot and heavy pumpkin pie
Chocolate candy, Jesus Christ
Ain't nothing please me more than you

Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you
Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you

La la la la
Take me home
Mama, I'm coming home....

September 30, 2016

Traveling Tuttles: Two Tents....Ten Days

Yes...We did it!!  We survived living in tents for 10 days! 

It was a little challenging at times but through it all we remained strong with a few complaints while building strong bonds.  

Our first destination was to Nashville!  Country music blares from everywhere you go.  From car windows, the street performers on Broadway, in the Grocery stores and the Opry Mills Mall. 

It's a very lively city! 

We stayed at Seven Points Campground, nestled in Hermitage, Tennessee...where Andrew Jackson's Hermitage is located.  It's about a 20 minute drive into downtown Nashville. 

We arrived to a very wet campground.  Try setting up tents when it's raining?  Yeah...we tried.  And good thing Donnie accidentally brought the extra basket with extra towels.  I used those to dry the wet tent. 

We then put a halt to setting up and we went out for pizza while waiting for the rain to die down.  Once the skies cleared a bit, we finished pitching our tents, blew up our mattresses and settled down for a quiet rain filled night.  Thank God our tents kept us dry!! 

Camping is NO FUN when it rains...that's a fact! I am so very thankful it never rained again for the rest of our time camping. 

Our goal is to travel as much as we can.  

Was camping one of the things we really wanted to do?  No not really.   

When you have a budget and still wanting to experience the "world", why not jump at the opportunities that lie before you?  For us it's been going on camping trips. 

A must for me personally (to make camping work) is to have access to a grocery store (Super Walmart and Kroger's were my best friends during our stay).  Another must is to have a site with electricity and water hookups.  As well as decent bathrooms with toilet paper and hot showers. If I have these important things....I can survive camping. 

Yeah...it's no Ritz Carlton.

Another note to mention is that it wasn't always cozy snuggles, Kumbayas by the fire, or smiling Smores faces.  (Actually whenever they ate smores they were smiling....BIG).


Really....what happens when you take away TV, computer games, and throw eight kids together into one tent?  Ummm...some arguing, some complaining.  

It's ok though we made it through.  We did have the fires roaring at night and ate Smores to our hearts content! 

(If I look at one more graham cracker...I think I'm going to barf. )

Donnie would leave early morning to his conference.  He was such a good sport even though it didn't feel like real camping to him.  He would wake up before we did; Get dressed in his suit (try that in a campground...yikes); then I would drive him into town for work.  Three of the five nights he was able to get out early.  We made of the opportunity by sight seeing with Daddy.  

Tsavah's week was made when she met Wells Adams.  He's a D.J. in Nashville and appeared on this past season of the Bachelorette.  He's one of the guys we rooted for during the season.  Great guy!  

During the day, while Donnie was at work, we would cook breakfast (which takes twice as long when only having a small camp stove).  After breakfast we would shower, change out of our camp clothes, so we could go and explore Nashville.

Ana is someone who never hesitates to meet new people.  

We met Steve who would pass by our site several times a day walking his two beautiful yellow labs named Bella and Gouda.  Ana made sure she would pet them every time they would walk by.

Steve and his wife Jackie were so sweet to let the kids spend time swinging on their hammock.  These are memories that will last a lifetime. 

The neighbors to the left of us gave us these beautiful tulips to adorn our picnic table.  People were so nice to our kids.

We saw so much wildlife in Tennessee.  Our favorite was when Stinky the Skunk would come visit our site.  That was one of the highlights of our week.  Stinky the Skunk. 

We stayed in Tennessee for about 7 days then "loaded up our (van) and moved to Beverly...Hills that is"

Um...I mean Alabama.  The hills of Alabama.  We stayed right outside of Birmingham in Oak Mountain State Park.  

We arrived right as the sun was setting.  We pulled up to our site where we found rows of tents along with RV's in very close proximity to each other.  The bathhouse was right smack in the center.  It felt a little like a huge tailgating party or a commune.  I didn't know what to think of it.  

Everyone was super nice though.

Donnie was given firewood from a couple who called themselves T and Bones.  The younger couple on a "camping date" watching college football on their big TV they had brought from home, gave us some lighter logs. The Asian family across from us would smile toward our direction.  They looked like they were enjoying family and friends to their hearts content. Behind us there were children riding their bikes to the late hours of the night.

The sounds of laughter, firewood crackling, and Asian chatter filled the nighttime sky.  It was lovely in a lively kind of way.  

The next day everyone around us had packed up and left leaving our lonesome family in the middle of an empty campground.  We then asked the park attendant if we could pitch our tent in a more tree covered site.  Thank God we were able to. I wish I had a picture of the boys moving the tent from one site to another.  They lifted and carried the tents across the campground. We really did look like the Beverly hillbillies.  haha!!

We stayed in Alabama for a total of 3 days.  We spent our days hiking and exploring.  The park was 10,000 acres with so much to do. 

I also had to throw in a little history lesson while en route to Alabama.

We celebrated Tsavah's 17th birthday before we left for home.  Thanks to Donnie's amazing team leader, we celebrated Tsavah's birthday with Cake and Pizza.  

Not sure where our next adventure will take us.  All I know is that we are just beginning of our "world" travels.  Our next one will be around Christmas time.  In the meantime we are planning on some day trips to the beach and other Florida landmarks.   Bon Voyage! 

September 16, 2016

The Traveling Tuttles

This Saturday we leave for Nashville and then take a little detour into Alabama.  All this for Donnie's remote sale's coaching job.  If you weren't aware, Donnie's now working for a  company called Southwestern Consulting based in Nashville, TN.

Having a remote job has been something I had prayed about for years now.  Giving us the freedom to live and travel anywhere our hearts desire.

(happy sigh...)  



Nashville!  Donnie has been there but we haven't...so I'm super excited to see the country music capital of the world! 

Oh....and we're camping!  Yeah!  Again!  Eek!  Well...right now that's the way we roll with a limited budget.  A couple tents, a few air mattresses, a cooler, blankets, flashlights.....yeah...I think we can make do for 10 days of travel.

I just love the fact of picking up and just going.  We can literally travel anywhere now that Donnie has this new job and the kids now homeschoolingBeing location independent is our desireTo spark our vision, we went scoping out RVs....looking at sizes and what can endure the cross country lifestyle.

Yeah...we're nuts! But seriously...why live so conventionally when you can literally explore the world with your little "abode" in tow!

Hmm...Could it be so that within this next year we could be touring the states?? I hope so!  The kids are ready...I'm ready.  We gotta do it since the kids are believing for this way of living.  

Kole is begging for a camera so he can start his travel vlog.  He said it'll be called "Dreamer: Adventures of a 10 year old boy who travels the world with his family."  This made this mommy heart smile.

All of this traveling talk with the kids has taken me back to my childhood.  I remember the times my dad would take us camping and when we drove across the states to San Diego. It also brings back memories of when I was really little living in Chile.

I lived there from birth to about 6 years old.  I clearly remember swinging on the squeaky old swing which hung right at the entrance of my grandparents garden nestled in their back yard.  This garden smelled of mint and was filled with big juicy blackberries.  This quaint little place faced the Strait of Magellan.  

This beautiful view was located 4 blocks from my grandparents home, my mother's childhood home...my first home.

It's so funny to think back on what my little mind would imagine while I swung on that squeaky swingI remember thinking I had seen a whale. I'm still not sure if it was part of my imagination or if I really did see one.  Either way...I would carry this imagination for years sharing it with childhood friends

Oh and I'll never forget about that shooting star....Oh yes...the one I cried over because I knew it had fallen out of the sky but couldn't find it on the ground.

Oh...all those lovely memories. 

The more real and vivid memories are of us traveling.  I remember staying at hostels in Santiago.  As I got a little older, I dreamed of becoming a flight attendant. 

Oh the memories.

Now it's time to help my kids make some of their own traveling memories. 

Onward we go...Not sure where our adventures will lead us.  I'm already planning for our Christmas getaway.  And hoping to stay longer this time.  

Thinking up North again. I hope this time we experience a lot of snow.  

I am so thankful we have the freedom and flexibility to be able to work on the road.