2015 Year in Review: 3,872 Miles Traveled & 53 Books Read!

If I had to describe 2015 in one word, I’d probably call it busy. If you grant me two words, I’d say life-changing. Can I have two words please?

We kicked off 2015 as new residents of Asheville, North Carolina. Not long after settling in we experienced the Asheville Snowmageddon 2015. It was fun… at first. Much better after we got a snow shovel. Though, I have to say the Fall of 2014 was a lot more fun – especially for Frodo.

Asheville 2015 Pisgah National Forest

We experienced the joy of living in a National Forest, definitely an experience I’ll never forget. This also included fighting a little bit with the creatures that lived near our house. There were the birds, and the spiders. And Dave protecting our house from critter invasion…

Dave on a Mission

I finally had a chance to photograph our bedtime routine with Frodo. Yes, we still brush his teeth every night. He loves it, and so do his teeth! You can tell from the photos he has a good time.

In May, we watched a life-changing documentary, and have been vegans ever since. It’s been almost 8 months now and I only wish we had made the change sooner.

Early in July we decided to take our life on the road, and began the process of downsizing our belongings. In a few short months we sold most of our stuff, our house, our car, and purchased a truck and a travel-trailer. It was a whirlwind of activities.

We hit the road October 17th, officially house-less, beginning our journey as nomads. After leaving Asheville, we traveled very quickly to South Dakota to get our driver’s licenses. On the way, we stopped through some pretty areas I look forward to re-visiting. Columbia, Missouri was gorgeous! 

Stephens Lake Park_The Lake

Rock Port, MO had a lot of character. I wouldn’t mind going back for a few days, especially during warmer months.

We were only in Amarillo, Texas for a short time, but long enough to see some interesting things. Like a donkey. And an emu.

And then, we got crazy with it. It was at this point we further downsized and sold our truck and travel trailer, and switched to a van. Once comfortably settled in our new van, the race was on to get somewhere warm. We headed to Arizona, yet at the same time, experienced a month without hot water. Go figure.

Now we are wrapping up 2015, living in a van, living a vegan life-style, and currently chilling out in Lake Havasu City, Arizona – while we recover from the whirlwind that this year has been. And it’s been a doozy. With only traveling the last portion of the year, we still managed to cover 3,872 miles. The speed was purely insane and I hope to never need to travel that far at that pace ever again! But, we managed to get our domicile squared away, improve our travel setup, get our van repaired, and… rest in the quiet of the southwest. I’d say the travel part of this year was smashing, though speedy. But, it was worth it. Every crazy minute of it.

2015 - 3872 Miles Traveled

There’s still one aspect from 2015 I haven’t had a chance to address yet, and that’s my reading life. I set out to read 52 books, and did it (read 53 books actually), and though some were good, and some were great, many were fantastic. I figured I would highlight my favorites from this year and tried to narrow down my selection to a Top 5. I couldn’t.

Out of the 53 books I read this year, here are my Top 8 Favorites:

2015 was a great year, and 2016 will be even better. I wish everyone a happy, healthy new year!

Camp Crashing

October at KOA Asheville West
The view from KOA Asheville West – October 2015

Have you ever crashed a wedding? Hmm, me neither. But lately I have been cramp crashing! Specifically, I’ve been living at a campground while we wait for our house to sell, surrounded by other people who are truly camping. It’s an interesting experience, and apparently a life-hack.

Feeling stressed? Tired? Worn out, and in need of a vacation? Surround yourself with others who are on vacation and the vibes carry over. Maybe it’s just walking past people’s campfires at night, but it’s a pretty neat trick! I don’t know what it is about campfires, but they seem to create happy, relaxed feelings. Is it just me?

This morning I awoke feeling stressed about work, and the remaining things we have left to remove from the house before we transition to completely full-time RV living. And then, I opened the window shades in our Airstream and remembered. I’m at a campground, and it’s a holiday weekend! Our “neighbor” has festive lights hanging from his RV awning and I remembered where I am and what I’m doing here. And I smiled. Life is really good. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever!

My beautiful Mother-in-Law is visiting, yay! It’s been fun taking her around our area and sharing our forest with her.

At One with Nature

Today the weather was beautiful so we got to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here we are at Chestnut Cove, elevation three thousand feet!

Pam at Blue Ridge ParkwayDid I mention the weather was beautiful?!

Clear Day

I’m so grateful to have this amazing woman in my life!

Pam

Earth Day 2015 & The Tree Who Lived

Earth-Day-2015

Today I learned…

A tree of ours is healing itself from the outside-in! The tree callus is visible now, where it wasn’t just a few months ago. I never knew trees had self-healing properties, did you?

I look forward to photo-documenting the tree as time marches on so the healing progress will be visible. Every “tree of distinction” near our house has been earning a name, and this one for our reference has been named Harry Potter – the tree with the scar. 🙂

Harry Potter Tree
December 2014

The photograph to the left was taken December 2014, and healing is not yet visible. Click the photo to see it larger…

Now, compare that photo, to the one below, taken today (April 2015). It’s only been a few months, isn’t that amazing!

Trees are wonderful. Happy Earth Day from our tree(s) to yours!

April 2015
April 2015

All photos above were taken in Asheville, North Carolina 2014-2015.

The Forest Awaits!

April 2015 Bent Creek Experimental Forest
Photo taken April 1, 2015: Bent Creek Experimental Forest (Pisgah National Forest)

“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.”
― Susan Polis Schutz

Look Up, Look Down, All Around

Tree Tops
Photo taken December 2014: Winter’s cold spring erases

After six months of living at the edge of a national forest, I would have expected I’d be used to the feeling by now, getting dizzy as I watch the tree tops sway in the wind. Today I realized, I will never get used to it, and to be honest, I’m happy about that. There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not in awe over my surroundings.

Today we had a little fun with math – which is something I never thought I’d ever hear myself say! We determined the height of one of the trees we look at every day (with a little help). The answer? Seventy-five feet. The trees that surround me every day are 75-85 feet tall.

That just boggles my mind.

* Since it’s Spring it feels odd to post a photo taken this past Winter, but it shows our wondrous trees!

Asheville Snowmageddon 2015

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, technically, we still live in the South. Especially after waking to see 5 inches of snow outside. At least we finally have a snow shovel, which by the way, is much more efficient for shoveling snow than a garden spade (which is what we used the last two times we had to shovel).
Asheville 2015 Home

This was the view from our front door. Not too shabby, eh?
Asheville 2015 Pisgah National Forest

Frodo of course, LOVES the snow.
Snow Joy

For playing… and eating. Apparently snow tastes good!
Catch a Snowflake

Asheville Ice Day 2015 and Silly Dog Tricks

Nothing slows down Frodo when he wants to play fetch. Ice is no match! That isn’t snow in the photo, it’s ice. Ice-covered steps… that have temporarily been converted to an ice-ramp.

Fetch on Ice
Going for a Walk
Testing the ice…
Testing the Ice
Yep, it’s cold today!
It's Cold
Frodo’s balance on ice was so impressive, we made him do tricks. And, I just learned how to make Animated GIFs. I’m sorry.
Tricks on Ice