2021 Recap:  We Traveled The World 1.5 Times!

2021 Recap: We Traveled The World 1.5 Times!

Our 2021 recap: We traveled the world 1.5 times and never left the United States!

Do you intentionally sit down and reflect on your past year?  We do and this is what we discovered.  Our 2021 recap: we drove enough miles to go around the world 1.5 times and never left the United States!

What a ride 2021 turned out to be.  Most of us weren’t sure how the fallout from the apocalypse would affect our travel desires, work ventures, and personal relationships.  At times, Robb and I even felt anxious about our future plans and remorse for the things we f’d up.   Thankfully, those low-frequency days are few and far between.

Since expressing gratitude and appreciation are the easiest ways to jump-start your vibe, we took an inventory of our most valuable assets.  Reflecting over this past year, Robb and I know we have so much to be grateful for in life.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our thoughts with you.

These are just a few of those gratitude entries:

  • Good health allows us the opportunities to hike, bike, kayak, and play with our grandkids.
  • A sustainable income allows us the flexibility to travel and explore.
  • Healthy family relationships let us know our kids love us and support our dreams.  Occasionally, they remind us they still need our reassurance and guidance.  Most importantly, they include us and humor us with meaningful conversations.
  • Grandchildren that think we are the bomb diggity and howl with us every chance we get.
  • Strong friendships that we can count on to lift us and encourage us when 1 through 4 seem to go wacky.
  • Our home on wheels carries us to the most beautiful areas of the country and provides some “off the hook” experiences that can only be understood by an RV enthusiast.
  • Future business relationships that both inspire and feed our entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Our relationship with each other continues to grow and flourish, as we make this next life transition being 55+.  We know that we always have each other’s best interest, even if it feels selfish.
  • Subscribers like you support our vision, our quirkiness, and our social media platforms.
  • Sponsors of our weekly show, “Sipping With The Stromads”.  What really rocks our world are those of you that join us on-air and in person for some tequila tastings.
  • 2021 checked many items off the bucket list with sightseeing, learning, adventure, and experiences.

Click here to check out our experiences on our YouTube Channel

In case you missed it, here are some of our 2021 highlights:

  • 2 Roundtrip Coast to Coast Road Trip Excursions
  • Pacific Northwest from Northern California to Washington
  • Central California to Southern California
  • 14 National Parks
  • Wildlife like crazy: Dolphins, Orcas, Manatees, Bears, Elk, Rattlesnakes, Burros, Big Horn Sheep, Condors, Eagles, and Moose
  • So many amazing sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico, The Pacific Ocean, and The Desert
  • Sunrise (Yes, sunrise…The desert has the most colorful sunrises ever seen)
  • Hot springs, hot springs, and more hot springs
  • From driving the lowest US elevation at 282 feet below sea level to elevations of 9300 feet!
  • Hiking, biking, and kayaking!
  • Connecting with the community, old friends, and meeting new friends.
  • Spending time with family on both coasts
  • Campfires, day, night, and late afternoon (our favorite)
  • We danced in the desert, howled with the coyotes, and shared a lot of tequila
  • Started our YouTube Channel
  • Worked on gaining clarity with personal purpose
  • Decided to follow our own dreams and ambitions

 

 

Grandkids

2021, welcomed Grandcub #3 to our family. Margo greeted the world in March, joining forces with siblings, Mason and Maeve.  Grandparenting is our reward for parenting our children.  We now get to have all the fun without too much responsibility.  Teaching the grands life lessons and valuable skills is so much fun!

 

Ask a Better Question

Stretching our time between family, friends and spectacular scenery may seem difficult to some individuals.  However, one of the most difficult aspects I find is answering this question: “What is your favorite place?”.

This question is much like asking which child is your favorite.  Of course, we all have one, or a different one depending on the time of day.  How about you?  Do you have a place that you return to year after year, or are you like us, driven by the need to see different places.

With over 35,000 road miles this year, and 49 states in the books, it is impossible to choose?  Ask us a better question and we will attempt to give you a solid answer.  Here are a few.

  • Describe a desert sunrise?
  • Have you ever seen the green spark in the ocean?
  • What’s the scariest road you have driven?
  • How do the mountain ranges differ between the east and the west?
  • How do you decide where to go next?
  • What are some of your favorite travel planning apps?
  • How do I find a community?
  • Can you suggest a place that has A, B, or C?

Quoting George Strait

Our wanderlust is fueled by the ever-changing scenery, the colors of the sky, and the call of the wild.  Whether we see mountains, ocean waves or even drive a deserted highway, RVing has changed our perspective on conventional living.  Will we stop?  Maybe, maybe not, it is currently what we do, not necessarily who we are.

We never really know what tomorrow will bring.  Life has times and seasons and TODAY is the day we immerse ourselves in and experience.  Living to make memories is almost counterproductive to living in the present moment.  Sure, we share lots of pictures and have fascinating stories to tell, hoping to inspire and encourage us all to dream, travel and do what is in your heart.  The memories we share are a byproduct of our life, not our motivation.

To quote George Strait, “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time”.

We are so grateful you have joined us and just want to say, get outside, explore while you can, and live a life of gratitude.  You won’t be disappointed.  Make 2022 the year!  Be mindful on your journey and inspire some good meaningful conversation.

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and encouragement.  We love hearing from you!!!

 

Travel Safe and Adventure Often

Maureen and Robb, aka The Stromads

Are we crazy for traveling 20,755 miles in our RV during a pandemic?

Are we crazy for traveling 20,755 miles in our RV during a pandemic?

Are we crazy for traveling 20,755 miles in our RV during a pandemic?

Are we crazy for traveling 20,755 miles in our RV during a pandemic?  To some, our traveling lifestyle may seem selfish and irresponsible.  For us, right now, travel is our life.  We can assure you that we take the coronavirus seriously, social distance, and take precautions.

To begin with, our Renegade RV is self-contained so we don’t need to use public restrooms or laundry facilities.  Rather than eating out in restaurants, we cook at home.  Our social circle is tiny, and before we see our family and friends, we do quarantine ourselves for two weeks.  Finally, we only flew once, therefore limiting our airline exposure

Where do we even start with this recap of 2020?  No doubt it was a weird year.  Yet, 2020 provided us some of the best and worst days we could imagine.

2020 in a nutshell:

Renegade RV Life Travel during a pandemic

  • Miles Driven:
    • RV: 20,755
    • Equinox (NOT Tow miles) 18,763
  • Flights: 2
  • States 37
  • Countries 2
  • Campgrounds 24
    • Commercial and Private 16
    • State and National Parks 4
    • Harvest Hosts 3
    • Hip Camp 1
  • Boondocking
    • Walmart 12
    • Rest Stops 3
    • Truck Stops 1
    • Other (Bass Pro, Home Depot, Cracker Barrel, Outlet Stores, Casino) 5
    • Overnight RV Service Appointments 4
    • Fairgrounds: 3 for a total of 30 nights
  • Hotel 4 Hotels total nights 7
  • Airbnb: 1 total nights 14
  • Checked off Bucket List: 8
  • Wineries Visited: 9
  • Lessons Learned: Stay flexible. Anything can change in a moment.  Most times, it is up to us to initiate a conversation.  Sometimes that communication is received openly, and sometimes it is opposed.  It doesn’t matter as long as it comes from a pure heart and motive.  Don’t wait.

Let’s talk about the journey

Initially, 2020 started like every other year for the last 20 years we have been in business.  Conventions, marketing, and a kick-ass work schedule entertaining in the fair and festival industry.  By the end of January, we knew our work commitments, and we were ready to fill in our calendar with fun travels.

Fairs in faraway places like Montana, North Dakota, and Texas reached out to us.   Our schedule was fast and tight, without a lot of room for error. Consequently, good planning and logistics are imperative.   We were grateful and excited to be on the road soon.

Robb and I welcomed the New Year in St. Augustine, one of our favorite cities.  Trolling around the alleys, finding unique shops, and sipping sangria are some of our favorite ways to spend the days.  However, as much as we love this little town, we found it too crowded for us over the holidays.

Over the next five weeks, our itinerary included:

  • Panama City Beach, FL
  • Shreveport, LA
  • Galveston, TX
  • Springfield, IL
  • Washington, DC

This schedule was just the beginning.

You are probably wondering: why in the world would we go to Illinois and Washington DC in the middle of January?  We ask ourselves the same questions.  The answer, in short, is work.  Nobody wants to be camping in an RV in Springfield in -3 degrees, much less be driving in icy weather.  Thankfully, our stay in Illinois was short, sweet, and quite profitable.

Next on our calendar was the Washington Auto show, 14 days in downtown Washington DC.  The weather cooperated, our event was successful and we were ready for downtime before our March gig in South Texas.  Our grandkids, Mason and Maeve gave us some much-needed love, and off we went, back to the road.

Bay St. Louis, MS seemed like a decent place to stay a few nights. Much to our surprise, the RV Park was beachfront and very reasonably priced.  The sunrise and peaceful setting were so spectacular we extended for another 8 nights.  To top off our stay, the nearby Silver Slipper casino offered a fantastic seafood buffet throughout the week.

Bucket list destination Mardi Gras 2020

Bucket List Check

I can remember thinking about how much better can life get.  Then, Robb surprised me with a bucket list check-off to Mardi Gras!   Parades, people, and Pimms Cups made this one of our top 10 of all-time adventures.  As a result, the beads we collected now have their own suitcase, ready for next time.

Our next stop was Mercedes, TX, for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.  South Texas is one of our newest favorite hot spots.  Only a few miles away is Progresso, Mexico a fun little border town with $5 Herudurra Tequila, the sounds of mariachi bands, and amazing churros from the street vendors.

The Quarantine

Unfortunately, the looming news of the pandemic was in the air.  The RGVLS came to a screeching halt.  Our other events began to cancel, the border closed for tourist traffic, and the stay-at-home order followed.  Although wanting to come back East to be with family, with social distancing protocols, we found our best option was to remain stranded in Texas, but at least it was warm.

Working and living a nomadic lifestyle is synonymous with missing parties, holidays, and happy hours with friends. Because of our schedule, we have grown accustomed to not socializing through most of the year.  However, the crazy thing was that when most people felt isolated and alone during the quarantine, Robb and I felt more connected to people than in most years.

As we sheltered in place for six weeks, Robb and I hosted a series of virtual game nights with our friends.  At times we had 25 people join us for Dirty Bingo and Trivia nights on Zoom.  In retrospect, the quarantine made it possible for us to connect more often than ever before.

Along with our son Matt, we were able to continue televising our live weekly internet show, “Off The Cuff’.  Each Tuesday at 8 pm we invite members of our audience to discuss valuable life experiences through topical conversation.  You can join too; it’s free and a lot of fun.

This year also brought us closer together with our immediate family.  Our boys, Mike (29) and Matt(25) live on separate coasts, east, and west.  Getting together for weekly or even monthly dinners is nearly impossible, and we all feel the strain in our relationships.   To change our family dynamic, we committed to having a family video chat on Zoom each Wednesday evening.

Family, Connecting, and the First Fish

This is the face of the first fish

Sharing current events, daily life, and even some inside jokes with them are the highlight of our week.  This call is in addition to our weekend calls with the grandkids,  Mason (6)  and Maeve (20 months).  Facetime, Messenger, and Zoom are a necessity for our lifestyle.  Although physically apart, we come together virtually for birthdays, holidays, and even random little chats.

Travel restrictions loosened up near mid-May, and we made our way back east.  Thankfully, we have friends with a farm that welcome our extended stay.  During this time Mason caught his first fish this summer, and ironically, so did his Dad.  S’mores, scary stories, daytime fires, and distanced porch parties filled our summer—what a fantastic time for all of us.

By early July, it became apparent that the rest of our events for the year would cancel.  We were starting to feel stuck.  For nomads like us, three weeks is a long time to spend in one place.  Imagine what we were feeling by now, five months, and no work and no travel.

More Bucket List Checks

In mid-August, our wanderlust got the best of us, and we headed out west.   Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, and Glacier were at the top of our bucket list.  We met the Jolly Green Giant,  drove the Enchanted Highway, and visited some faraway friends along with those excellent sites.  We were also able to spend 10 days in sunny Southern California with our son Matt.

Dancing in the desert, soaking in hot springs, and answering the call of the wild gave us what we needed.  Hearing coyotes yapping in the distance is a little freaky for sure and yet all so familiar.  Experiencing the ever-changing scenery and natural beauty is what we envision as constant travelers, and this is why we do what we do, right?

After 10,000 miles, we found ourselves home again.  At least now, the humid east coast weather started cooling, and late afternoon firepits became our solace.  We sold some equipment, cleared some space in our storage unit, and had the good fortune of one November event coming through to work in Florida.

On opening night, we realized how much we missed the fair circuit.  Seeing families together, the smells of fair food, and yes, the neon lights of a carnival midway brought us back to some semblance of our normal for a few days.  When the gig ended it was time to head a little further south.

Saying Goodbye

after a few days in the Everglades, we got a dreaded phone call. Robb’s younger brother Randy was in the hospital, and he was dying.  Thankfully, our lifestyle allows for sudden changes in family situations, weather, and impromptu decisions.  We set off, back to the mid-Atlantic.

Randy did pass quietly, and we were there to usher him to his final destination. A  few days later, over 50 friends and family joined us for a virtual memorial service.  Even amid social distancing, and the worst situations, it is possible to bring people together.

By now, the weather was starting to get cold, and restrictions were again being implemented, so, once again, it was time to say see you later to family and friends.  After a few more hugs and kisses mixed with a few dozen tears, we were off to Florida for some warmer weather.

Much to our delight, the weather here is perfect.  Warm days and chillier evenings make for magnificent sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico.  We are getting some much-needed exercise, both walking and riding our bikes.  Creating a new income source, exploring some interesting new tequilas and late afternoon fires fill our days.  As we await our new granddaughter’s arrival in March, we will take this time to, reflect, plan, and enjoy all that we have.  Indeed, life love, and all things good present themselves daily.

Are we crazy for traveling 20,755 miles during a pandemic?

Bucket List check Going to the sun road glacier national park

So again, I ask, are we crazy for traveling 20,755 miles during a pandemic?  Maybe so, but we did, carefully. Our family needed us at times, resulting in several thousand extra miles.  2021 may be a different year for travel.   Barring any travel restrictions, we have our sights on a few new destinations and bucket list items,

Like you, we are experiencing change everywhere.  Robb and I are not getting any younger.  Our desire to see beautiful scenery and experience life outside the box may shift at any time.  Expressing more gratitude, learning to live in the moment, and experiencing the beauty of travel is truly a gift.  Enjoy it!

What is your desire?  Hopefully, our share will be an encouragement that you too can live a life of joy and experience, regardless of what is happening in the world.  Sometimes it comes down to a choice and a sacrifice.

Our takeaway lesson in 2020 is to be as flexible as possible.  Every day may not be filled with triumphs, some may be tragic.  With these intentions, be open to the evolution of life.  Love deeply, be mindful, and always be grateful.

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Travel Safe and Adventure Often,

Robb and Maureen, aka The Stromads

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