My father was a voracious reader and a great storyteller, and from as far back as I can remember, he would tell us stories about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn rafting down the Mighty Mississippi, John Henry beating the steam drill and dying with his hammer in his hand, Paul Revere’s midnight ride, and magic lanterns and flying carpets in the tales of the Arabian Nights. I think that sparked a wanderlust in me that has brought me to where I am today. I grew up wanting to travel. I wanted my very own magic carpet that would take see the places I learned about in those stories my dad told. I think I was more disappointed to discover that flying carpets didn’t exist than I was to learn the truth about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
But then I grew up and discovered that while we may not have flying carpets, there are magical inventions called RVs, and just like the magic carpets of the Arabian Nights, they can transport us to adventures most people only dream of. Our motorhome may not be able to fly, but it is our very own personal magic carpet!
The fulltime RV lifestyle has allowed us to take this magic carpet ride everywhere from the rocky coasts of Maine, to the sugar white sand beaches of Florida, to the deep forests of Oregon, and the historic monuments of Washington D.C. We never guessed what wonderful experiences were waiting for us when we first turned the key and drove away from our old workaholic lives.
Who knew that one day we’d be standing on the flight deck of the massive Spruce Goose airplane that made only one flight, or that we’d get a private behind the scenes guided tour of Jefferson Davis’ last home? How many people get to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston and the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, or climb Bunker Hill Monument and the Astoria Column? We have.
You can see a million pictures of Mount Rushmore, but until you actually stand at the base and look up at those gigantic faces carved in stone, you have no idea just how magnificent they really are. We all know that Custer met his end at the Little Bighorn, but you don’t really get a feel for how desperate those men of the 7th Cavalry must have felt unless you actually walk the Montana battlefield that the Indians called the Greasy Grass.
Our magic carpet has taken us to tap our toes to bluegrass music in the Tennessee mountains, to zydeco music in Louisiana’s Cajun country, and to cowboy yodelers in Arizona. We have fallen asleep to the sound of freight trains passing by, ocean waves crashing on the shore, and coyotes howling at the moon. We have paddled our kayaks in the Florida Keys and seen rays gliding silently by beneath us, on the Texas Gulf coast where a pod of dolphins kept us company as they rolled and frolicked in the water near us, swimming circles around us when we stopped to float, and keeping pace when we paddled on.
I have traced the names of my friends carved into the black granite of the Vietnam Wall with my fingers and wept for what might have been, and wiggled my toes in the beach sand of the Florida Panhandle and smiled as I watched the sun set. We have eaten barbecue in Texas, snacked on cafe au lait and beignets at the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, and enjoyed seafood so fresh it was swimming in the ocean that morning in Morro Bay, California.
We have met some amazing people on our magic carpet ride, including an octogenarian solo lady RVer who had been traveling the country for over 50 years, a World War II fighter pilot who had been shot down over the Pacific and floated on a life raft for two days before being rescued, and a lady in West Virginia who had never been more than twenty miles from the mountain hamlet where she was born. We have gotten to know authors, artists, musicians, wood carvers, glass blowers, and sculptors.
When we gave up our careers and sold everything we owned to begin this adventure, some of our friends thought that we had lost our minds. But how many of them have slept on a houseboat in Key West, or climbed to the top of a lighthouse in Oregon. While they are stuck in the same rut, we may be riding a train to the Grand Canyon, or standing in the mist from Niagara Falls. While they are sitting in traffic jams on the commute to work, we are slowing down as we pass Amish buggies in Indiana, or poking along on some two lane road where the only traffic we encounter may be a farmer on his John Deere tractor. A lot of those friends who wondered about our sanity when we started our magic carpet ride now tell us that they’d trade everything to do what we are doing.
Our RVing friends spent their working lives doing everything from delivering mail, to teaching school, to plowing fields, to driving trucks, We know military retirees, working RVers, and young families who home school their kids as they travel. Some of the people in our extended family of RVers have to stretch to make ends meet, and others are quite wealthy. But when we sit around a campfire and tell our own stories at night, it doesn’t matter who has what, because we all have one thing in common. Each and every one of us can’t wait to climb back onto our flying carpets to see what adventures await us tomorrow.
Thought For The Day – Never put off till tomorrow what you can avoid all together.