First Nomadiversary

We have been on the road for an entire year now (as of yesterday). I like to think that we drove around the sun.

The term adopted among fulltime travelers for the anniversary of their launch is Nomadiversary. Nomad Anniversary. For some it’s a big deal, for some it’s just a blip. I am sure some don’t even like the term … but it’s a term people use.

Time for data. From a numbers perspective how did our year play out?

An explanation about what's missing. With 7 children eating up our spare moments like candy, we need simple allocation of our time and brain energy. That means some things are omited on purpose. So, sorry mom and dad, we didn’t keep itemized track of campground costs and I'm not going to scour my bank statements for them. A friend once told me, "analness never was happiness". Time and brain space spent keeping all that up would just be time away from my family, and in the end would change very little about how we live. But to be helpful, if you intend to live this way and want a campground nightly figure (for when you don't boondock for free), we try to go trees & nature over swimming pools & shuffle board and average somewhere around $33 USD a night (a 2019 figure).

  • States Slept In: 26 (in order of how many nights we stayed in each)
    Florida (60), Illinois (37), North Carolina (22), Maine (22), Connecticut (20), Virginia (17), Maryland (15), Pennsylvania (14), California (14), New Hampshire (12), Arizona (11), Alabama (11), Utah (7), Nevada (7), New York (6), Texas (6), Tennessee (5), Kentucky (4), Mississippi (4), Vermont (3), West Virginia (3), Delaware (3), Louisiana (3), Massachusetts (1), Indiana (1), South Carolina (1).
  • Canadian Provinces Slept In: 3
    Prince Edward Island (44), Nova Scotia (8), New Brunswick (4).
  • Places we count that we didn’t sleep in: 5
    Missouri (went to the Zoo), Rhode Island (cliff walk, mansions, beach, sailboat watching), New Mexico (drove through), New Jersey (drove through), Georgia (drove through).
    Also we spent time in Washington DC and Tecate (small town in Mexico).
Map of US with state highlights

Map of our first year on the road in an RV. Lighter states were just visited and not slept in.

  • Number of the types of parks we stayed in:
    RV Park (14)
    State Park (12)
    County Park (11)
    Lot-Docking (7 – Walmart, Worldmark, Sams Club)
    Moochdock (6 – IL, PEI, CT, TN, NS)
    Harvest Hosts (6)
    Boondockers Welcome (4)
    Provincial Park (4)
    Thousand Trails (3)
    Trails Collection - Encore (3)
    National Park (3)
    Fairgrounds (2)
    Rest Stop (2)
    Welcome Center (1)
    Repair Shop (1)
    Hotel (1 – Timeshare stay with visiting parents)
    Army Corps of Engineers (1)

    Our favorite is moochdocking as it’s a GREAT way to make lasting connections with people and to get plugged into the local social scene. Runner up is state parks.
  • Life events:
    Baby went from not crawling yet to running (took first steps on beach in PEI Canada), #6 potty trained, 9 birthdays, holidays, home schooling, many lost baby teeth, 1 sprained ankle, a few miner splinters, 4 tick bites in New England in June (no sign of any tick related illness), very little sickness when compared to living in the suburbs, lots more head bonks for dad (keep forgetting to bend down enough under the 5th wheel overhang – no one else has this problem), typical number of cuts and bruises (no more than living in the suburbs despite more time outdoors).
    Life is life – and it still happens in an RV.
  • couple with sunglasses on beach with ocean behind them at North Peninsula State Park Florida

    Matt and Tabitha at North Peninsula State Park in Florida

  • Weather events:
    Sun, strong wind, heavy rain, snow (but other than our first day I never drove in it), Tornado Warning (waited it out in a campground bath house).
    We love experiencing weather in a way where we are much more connected to it.
  • RV/Truck problems:
    Alternator and battery issues with the truck, 2 floods from the stupid outdoor kitchen, nearly burned the place down first time moochdocking with an extension chord that was too thin and coiled up so the heat had no where to go but to melt the wire shielding to a boiling dripping mess, repaired a punctured tire, replaced a shredding tire.
  • Ecosystems:
    Beach, desert, savannahs, bogs, swamps, Atlantic coastal plain, lakes, mangrove, forest, hills, canyons, islands, big and small cities/towns, prairie, grassland, sand dunes, tidal zones, salt marsh, etc.
    In the last year I have grown an appreciation for ecology that I didn’t have before.
  • Zion Canyon

    Zion Canyon

    Woman jumping at beach

    Tabitha at Brackley Beach, Prince Edward Island

  • Notable geographic locations:
    Eastern Most point of the United States, Lowest point of the United States, Canadian Island exclave, visit to the 45th parallel.
    I really like stuff like this!
  • Living history museums (and their like):
    Williamsburg VA, Louisbourg NS, Highland Village NS, New Salem IL, The Big E, Kinston NC, Desoto National Memorial Park, and probably others I can’t recall right now.
  • Family we have visited: Parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, finding long lost Canadian cousins. • This lifestyle allows you to visit far away family in a way that would be impossible otherwise. We tracked down and met my 5th cousin whom I didn’t even know existed. How cool is that!

We saw LOTS of wildlife, historic sites, monuments, battlefields, forts, castles, notable rivers. We learned about explorers and how the different nations navigated their relationships with their conquered (or claimed) territories. We learned about the Colonial period, American Revolution, horrible history of slavery, Civil War, and beyond. We made educational connections by seeing history in person. We have seen the location of each Virginia capital city (Jamestown, Williamsburg, Richmond) and in seeing the geology of each city we understand why they moved it.

Father and Daughter at wetlands boardwalk looking at a white Egret bird

Matt and Evelyn face to face with a beautiful white Egret.

We tried local foods and caught sea life (crawdads, ocean fish, crab, lobster, river fish). Picked apples, wild oranges, wild blueberries, wild blackberries, wild raspberries, and other things. We learned about new and old trades, about engines, have seen a rocket launch, enjoyed many sunsets, and countless other uncommon adventures.

Girl cooking pancakes on griddle in rv

Lydia cooking pancakes for the family.

In summing up the year, my original intent was to only mention where we stayed, and maybe that’s a better take on it because the experiences we had are very personal to us. Any other family would have done it differently and would have seen different things. That being said, our eyes have been opened to the natural beauty of the continent in ways we never anticipated. Summing all the details into a phrase is simple. We live in a remarkable world with remarkable people, places, things, plant and animal life – and we are glad to have seen one year’s worth of it.

Are we done? Not even close!

We’ve been asked, how long will you live like this? When are you coming ‘home’? These are funny questions to us. We are already home as we take our house with us and our home is with each other. I could ask the same question of “how long” to anyone. The truth is no one knows the answer to that question. Anyone’s plans can be upended by any event within or without their control. So the best answer I can give is we will live this way until we don’t anymore.

That said, our curiosity and concept of life’s possibilities has grown from a small spark to a raging fire and we don’t want to tame that fire yet. It’s burning through the overgrowth of the savanna of our former suburban lives and making room for new growth. As fire tends to rejuvenate landscapes, our curiosity is rejuvenating our excitement for life and the unknown. In a lot of ways I feel like a kid again, exploring and discovering things that until now didn’t really exist in my world. Kids are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. Now (as grown ups), Tabitha and I are often asking each other, WHERE do you want to go now that you are grown up? What do you want to experience? What memories do you want to make?

two boys and a girl running on pink sand dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes Utah

Kids running down a pink sand dune.

Any plans for the second year? Yes, some BIG ones. But, we have decided to keep the plans to ourselves as we change our plans so frequently based on how the wind is blowing that I probably shouldn’t say things that might not happen after all. What ever we do, it will be great! As Dr. Emmett Brown said at the end of the Back to the Future Trilogy, "It means your future hasn’t been written yet, no one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” We will!

- Matt

Further Reading

  • Previous article of other ditchers when they hit their 5 year anniversary
  • Launching Best

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