One-month Anniversary

As of today it’s been one month exactly since:

  • I retired from the magazine.
  • We left our house in Maryland.
  • We started our dream of living in the Airstream.
  • We parked here at this campground in Virginia, not realizing we’d be here much longer than a weekend (kind of like a three-hour tour).

There’s a lot packed into this one little anniversary that I’ve been thinking about.

Three years ago (almost to the day) after a shift sorting through my sister’s storage unit close to here, coincidentally.


You guys may know I’ve been motivated by an urgent sense of life’s brevity since my sister died three years ago. I’d been pushing through big changes in my life anyway, but somehow her death triggered, not exactly a panic, but definitely an urgency in my mind about getting on with the show here.

And Tracy’s had to withstand my pushing—he’s Mr. Patience and Planning, living with Ms. Let’s Do It All Right Now. RIGHT NOW.

Turns out that, in some ways, my near-panic set us up to leave the D.C. area and start our dream life not a moment too soon. Well, there would’ve been no such thing as “too soon” for me, but definitely not too late, which would have been worse—with the pandemic it would have meant impossible.

For example, I pushed us to buy the Frolic (since Tracy reasoned it was too early to buy the Airstream), and that taught us a ton about travel trailers, especially poor Tracy who made it workable with constant repairs.

The Frolic on our first camping trip.

Also timely: I had to push myself to sort and distribute all my family’s possessions after my mom died two years ago, which I’m so glad I took care of before our rush to leave, or else we would have been delayed enough to not be able to leave.

And, man, did we feel the rush right there during the final few weeks, amazingly just as news was hitting the public that the virus would change our lives significantly. We got out just in time.

Our Location

And because we got stuck right after we first took off, our location for quarantining couldn’t be better. We’d planned this first stop to be near family and friends to say goodbye, which means we have access to them now in case of an emergency. Plus we’re using one family’s house as our ship-to address and one friend’s empty house to do laundry.

It’s pure coincidence though that this first campground we chose and got stuck at is still open (because so many people live here full-time) and has full hook-ups (water, electricity, and sewer). We’re set for another month if we need to stay.

What We’ve Learned

Being in one place at the onset of such a huge change in our lives has given us a good opportunity to learn what we wouldn’t have otherwise.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: we’d rather be on the road. As it is, we’re living in a tiny space, in weather conditions this trailer wasn’t built to be lived in, and we’re going a bit stir-crazy.

But, the stability of being here without moving every week (or more often) has allowed us to work out the kinks in the Airstream and in living in it.

Learning about the Airstream

For example, we’ve had this steady, quiet time to figure out what doesn’t work in the Airstream—all the things she came from the factory with that are not exactly right.

The offending door.

Like the door. Airstream is renowned for doors that make this satisfactory thwump sound as they seal shut. Ours goes clank and then needs to be slammed.

Plus, if you don’t slam it just right you’ll get the lock stuck, which we learned only after we’d locked ourselves outside, then set off the truck alarm trying to get in there to retrieve the spare Airstream key, and then couldn’t flip the truck alarm off because the only truck key that would do that was in the Airstream. We’d created a loop we couldn’t break, even while the truck alarm was blaring throughout the campground. Thank goodness we learned that lesson early.

Establishing a routine

We’ve also had to set a daily routine for ourselves, just like so many people have while stuck at home. I’d always heard how important a routine is when you live on the road but couldn’t imagine us setting one, and here we are.

Banjo demonstrates “routine.”

I walk Banj early in the morning, then Tracy and I have coffee and tea together while we read the news and I write a blog entry. We take turns making a big lunch, and afterwards Tracy walks Banjo while I clean up, do a workout, and shower (if I feel like it—showering in a small space turns out to be its own workout). Each late afternoon we talk on the phone or text with family and friends and in the evenings we’ve been entertaining ourselves well enough with cards, board games, one of the DVDs we grabbed from Goodwill before we left (again, so smart!).

Setting up “house”

We’re also taking this opportunity while in place to buy things for the Airstream that we didn’t realize we’d needed. Tracy especially has his eye on the water filter system and the electric surge protectors: items this campground has put to the test. He’s also been upgrading our online network and learning how quickly waste tanks need to be dumped when we’re inside 24/7.

One more attempt with window clings to hide storage stuff.

I’ve been setting things up that make us more comfortable. For instance, I didn’t realize we’d need more than one hand towel in the bathroom, but of course we do! Yuck.

Settling in Banjo

And Banjo’s had this stable time to learn that this funny little space is her new home. No matter how much she’s enjoying sleeping in the sun outside, once the sun starts setting she’s ready to come in and sleep inside in her bed.

We even left her alone in the Airstream for the first time (she hadn’t done that in the Frolic) while we drove to relatives’ to grab our mail. She seems to have slept right through that. Good dog.

The Next Anniversary

Will we still be here at the end of May?

When the travel ban of nearby states is lifted and we can leave, there’s nowhere for us to travel to as long as other states still have a ban in effect. And we don’t want to jump the gun before it’s safe—for us and for everyone (safer than it has been, at least). So like everyone else, we have no clue what the near future looks like.

How about in six months?

That, I’m hoping, is a success story. So far we have reservations up and down Florida for all of December, January, February, and March. These are in state parks that I imagine will be open by then and at private campgrounds that are huge, so won’t go out of business (I hope).

Great blue heron doing some early-morning fishing on the lake here.

In the meantime, you guys, please keep on taking care.

8 thoughts to “One-month Anniversary”

  1. First off, congratulations you two (and excuse my grammar and spelling disabilities) at a high time like this. Second off, this to me is a major blog Shelly, which in a way surprised me, but still, I knew you had it inside you. The thing is, you talk to us all (at least me) and that you don’t have to rush yourself like traveling everywhere in a hurry. To get like stuck, staying, and establishing a relationship at one and the same place, teach you more. Third off, I salute you and wish you both good luck!
    Love -Li

    1. This is a great compliment, Li, thank you! And I just discovered that no one who has comments on this blog so far is receiving notifications of my responses. I just added a plug-in that should allow you to check a box if you want to be notified now. I hope it works!

  2. Congratulations! We’re doing OK at the magazine, but wonder if you have the access code for the bathroom at the office… we’re OK but the plants behind the office are not doing so well. Oh… and where did you hide the non-dairy creamer… and my stapler… 😉

    1. It’s good to hear you guys miss me! You might want to just throw out those plants – I’ve been trying to kill them for years! And I took the creamer with me – ha!

    2. Lol, I thought you were Jeff and partially serious until I found your email address. Hi G-man 🖖🏻