Magic Carpet Ride

 Posted by at 1:18 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 112011

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.

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Nick Russell

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  37 Responses to “Magic Carpet Ride”

  1. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 = Rate this blog 5 Happy Faces! Nicely done.

  2. Nick, I’m sitting here reading today’s blog waiting to get into my squad car for the morning shift. I’ve got 10 months to go and we’ll be heading out to fulltime across this awesome country. You just made my day a little better.
    Stay safe.

    Bob and Laurie

  3. Now this is good stuff! I wish I could think as well as you write…

  4. Very well said Nick! You put into words what is in our hearts.

  5. Well said, well done, and Amen. A lot of folks should read this and then try to think up a way to tell us we are crazy.

  6. Mom and I have read your blog for many years and we both agree this is your best blog to date. I am making a copy of this, hoping some family members will read what I have not been able to put into words,

  7. What a maginicant bit of writing. We move along this morning, leaving NJ where we returned due to the sickness and then death four weeks ago of my mother.

    We head to Gettysburg for 11 days then to parts yet unplanned. We do have such beautiful options that unless you live this life you can never appreciate. We are truly blessed and fortunate.

  8. You have such a way with words, Nick. Well done!

  9. Nick-You did an amazing job here describing full-timing. We have had the exact same experience with our friends — who originally thought we were crazy gypsies but now all are extremely jealous. Most people I meet say they wish they could do the things we do. So glad we opted out of the rat race during the prime of our lives. We have been full-time RVing for 8 years and even had a late in life baby ‘on the road’. Now, we will be homeschooling her for a while so that she can see the country and meet new friends everywhere! And of course, we take our dogs and cats everywhere we go.

  10. I have tears in my eyes. Beautiful blog.

  11. What a great read,, This is the way my day should always start…

  12. Beautiful blog entry, Nick! You summed up what RVing and Fulltiming are all about perfectly and we had tears in our eyes reading it.?

    I would like to add that we experienced Mt Rushmore and Little Big Horn a bit differently, however. Where you said ”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” instead all we could think was how small they were in comparison to the magnificent and huge mountain carving of Crazy Horse, just 17 miles down the road in Custer. And at Little Bighorn, though we agree that “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”, we also felt a huge connection and empathy for the Indians who were just defending their way of life against these marauders.

    On our travels, one of our most moving experiences was visiting Wounded Knee, and then the museum about Wounded Knee in Wall, SD. Anyone who thinks they know they real story about westward expansion and the war between the Army and Indians, needs to go to these places. You’ll never look at things the same again.

    Again, absolutely wonderful sentiments in your blog entry today, Nick. From now on, whenever anyone asks us WHY? when we say we’re fulltimers, we’ll just point them to this post!

  13. A beautiful ride this morning. Nancy and I are viewing the beautiful snow-capped Rockies from our home here, at least for a few days, in Deer Lodge, MT. As always, oRV

  14. Wonderful blog today! We have friends who still say, “wish we could do what you are doing”. Our answer is you can, just make the move! “Oh no, I could never give up my house… I would be afraid…we can’t afford it…I have to be near the grand kids” or even worse, “my kids (grown up) need me!” We just look at them with pity for not being able to think outside the box! Two months ago we lost a friend who had been full-timing for 5 years. At least she had those 5 years on the road, seeing this beautiful country. Life is too short not to enjoy our lives. We have now been on the road for over 13 of the happiest months or our lives!

  15. Tomorrow I will have completed my first year of fulltime RV’ing. Your blog will be the candle on my anniversary cake. It says it all.

  16. Great blog.
    Our facebook friends from Kansas are baking in 110 plus heat and enduring while we are enjoying the Co rocky mountains.
    Yellowstone in Aug.
    OH and wait till winter and we can report weather from AZ

  17. I too have enjoyed the carpet ride – in 11 different rigs – all varieties. Once you started you “road career” you added many neat places to my routes. I thank you for that! I have probably been to about 3/4 of the places that you have – but you have probably only been to 3/4 of the places I’ve visited. It was sad when I nailed the carpet to the floor of our house – but it was time. I’ll keep the memories in my heart – and of course I can still keep up with your travels in the Gypsy Journal. Thanks for all that you’ve added to the lifestyle with your writing and also your great rallies.

  18. I just wrote a blog that consisted only of a link to this. Thanks for explaining it so well that I had to share it with my family and friends.

  19. Your magic carpet is our guide to see this wonderful country. You’re one fine pilot and Miss Terry is a great co-pilot and navigator. Todays writing should be etched in stone and placed in the Rv Museum.
    Reading this blog every morning is like giving catnip to a kitty. Thanks Nick.

  20. Beyond words. My carpet ride was short (not by choice) and hope to change that someday and be once again on the road, but until then, thanks more than words can say for letting me “ride along” with you from my computer. You and Miss Terry are a blessing to so many. Live long and prosper!!

  21. Nick, as usual you have done it again. Made the world a better and happier place for all of us full time RVers and those who want to be, but are afraid to make the move. Had hoped to hook up with you and Miss Terry in Bremerton, but wife landed in Tillimook hospital, so will catch you later down the road. Be safe out there on patrol BOB. Travel safe.

  22. I retire on August 31 and plan to take off on the magic carpet ride. I can’t wait.

  23. If every RV dealer in the country handed today’s blog to each customer who walked on their lot, they couldn’t make RVs fast enough to keep up with the demand.

  24. You,brought tears to my eyes…again. Met you/Mz T in Q 2-3 times & attended 1st Gypsy-Rally/West in Casa Grande, AZ. In 7th RV in 45 yrs now in Cloudcroft, NM (poss 70F HI) today. Last 15 yrs travel about 2 mos RV-road & 2 mos stix/brix; but have had chance to see all 50 states.

    However, recently returned from nephew’s heart surgery U-MI,Health Cen, Ann Arbor. 3 of us cousins visited w/him 3 days before negative outcome. Sad, he & lady friend had read/bought atlas’s, travel books, gps, priced RV’s etc. Saddest part he may have received 1-TSA/Detroit retirement check & 1 SS check before he met the grim reaper. Think I’ll re-read your blog and weep again. Thank you for your fascinating posts.

  25. Yep, one of your best!

  26. Nick, ye’ve a bit of the poet in ye…


  27. It was not an easy adjustment for us when we went from stix & brix to full time RVing. Our used MDT, even though it had been checked out, has required very expensive repairs and the break-downs have been truly trying and stressful. But, it has been interesting and we are enjoying seeing the different parts of the country. We enjoy the fact that we get to meet new folks in the different campgrounds as they not holed up in an apartment or house (as in regular neighborhoods). We were fortunate enough to have been able to “hit” the road at a younger age and as we start our third year feel very fortunate.

  28. Nick,

    Sandy S hit the nail on the head. The RV industyr group that does TV ads should have you seated behind the wheel of your RV reciting today’s blog with a photo backdrop of each place you have been.

    There would be an economic resurgence overnight in this country.

    Well done, my friend. See what happens when Greg White is not influencing your behavior?

  29. Nick, you have a gift. This is exactly why we love our “Magic Carpet.” We’re not full timers and we haven’t been to every place you described but we’ve been to/done many of them. And in the few minutes it took to read your blog, the joy of each trip returned. Thank you for expressing what we feel in a way we’re not albe too. Bob and Dot Hines

  30. Nick, a SUPER, SUPER blog today.

  31. Nick, I love it, have felt it for many, many years and done it since 2005. Well actually my Rv’ing adventure began with my parents heading off to Switzerland every summer in a self-built travel trailer. Man, you can write and think like few of us. I’m gonna have you on my blog list.

  32. Such a classic blog that pretty much sums it all up… just do it!!!

  33. Nick,well said! My first RV trip was literally as a babe in arms back in the late 50s. The wanderlust is in my blood, courtesy of my Dad. Full-timing was always a dream of mine – first contemplating it as a solo journey. Thankfully, my dear husband bought into the dream (with a wee bit of convincing – ha!) and we have been on the road a little over a year. Cheers for your post!

  34. Well said. Well said. And with that you now have a new follower.


  35. Is it silly to get choked up reading a blog? This blog is a keeper – I think I’ll print it and keep it where I can read it often. We are not full -timers, just “any-timers” but we still enjoy our Magic Carpet. Thanks you for a wonderful piece of writing.

  36. Next week is the first anniversary of the purchase of our camper. My husband and I have been to so many wonderful places already, and we’ve only just begun. Great post about a great way to live.

  37. Very nice blog Nick. We sold our house this summer and are living in our RV fulltime. We would love to hit the road however husband still works. He would love to depart from his corporate job but since we aren’ t 65 yet and don’t qualify for Medicare we wouldn’t have any health insurance. So I guess we wait awhile longer.

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