To friends who have asked me what has surprised me most about this adventure, one of my answers has been the extent of planning and forethought required. The follow-up question has at times been how truly necessary all of the planning was – could we not have pulled this off in a bit more seat-of-the-pants fashion? Answer: probably… but we would have missed a lot, and likely ended up doing several late night Google Map searches for the nearest WalMart or Cracker Barrel so that we could button up and get a bit of sleep in their parking lot. Not what we wanted, and the stress level (mine) involved in that sort of existence would be beneficial to nobody in my vicinity.
I’ve estimated that there’s been about a three-to-one ratio of planning to doing. That’s a worthless statistic and impossible to measure, but the truth it’s pointing at is that we spent almost three years dreaming up this trip, in the process inhabiting a universe of possible scenarios, as well as levels of theoreticality. As in, “wait… are we just dreaming here or are we actually going to do this?” When we first tossed it into conversation, I would have assigned the probability of our actually trying to pull it off at about 2-3%. By early June of 2017, which was our initial intended departure date and at which point we had already bought (!) a new motorhome and planned an entire flow of travel, I still wouldn’t have pushed that probability above 60-70% or so. We had emphatically decided that we couldn’t do it without a sold house in Annapolis, which we most certainly didn’t have, and our kids were feeling quite attached to home, with Keeper having just been accepted into his future Junior High’s highly selective STEM program.
You can read about how that state of affairs led to our somewhat short-fused decision to Go For It back here at the beginning of our blog. And that dream plan-make plan-tweak plan process has continued throughout our journey. But my point is that we have had so many master plans in effect that we’ve joked multiple times that “Plan A, B, C, etc…” no longer works for us and we need multiple letters to designate our plans.
Letters are about to jettisoned altogether.
Essentially where we are is this: we’ve taken stock and realized that what we initially said we could not manage, i.e. live on the road while paying the mortgage on our empty house, we have been doing for the better part of a year. While this isn’t dire in itself as we discovered at some point that our expenses on the road were quite manageable, we are approaching the end of our year, the point at which we had always intended to settle down in the town we had painstakingly chosen. For good. And well… first of all we don’t yet have a sold house. And second of all we realized that of everything we planned into the ground, the one thing we hadn’t devoted much thought to was how exactly we transition back to life off the road, in a house which we’ve presumably bought.
We’ve realized we need a new master plan. One semi-obvious option which we were able to rule out pretty quickly was pulling our house back off the market and returning to Maryland. I had been concerned when we returned to Annapolis for the Winter that we would create an inertia that would be difficult to overcome. In fact, the opposite happened. As much as we enjoyed seeing our friends there, we were all restless. And a bit more surprisingly, our kids didn’t take to it like we thought (feared?) they would. That feeling has only intensified for all of us while on the road. The kids want to move back westward, as do we. We love our friends and family in the East, but it has become crystal clear, more so than I ever guessed it would, that the West is where we belong.
There were several other nuances of various other options which we worked though, but in the end it came down to two, and we decided that to assign them letters would be a subtle way of implying that one is more preferable, which is not the case. Here then, without further ado, Plan Sun and Plan Moon.
Plan Sun: We get the kids into school and we end our adventure at the one year point as originally envisioned. We travel until mid-summer and then find a rental house in Bend (Oregon, if you haven’t been reading – it has emerged as our overwhelming favorite in the places-to-settle competition), preferably furnished. We suck up the mortgage-plus-rent expense until the house in Maryland sells, and when it does we breathe a sigh of relief. In the meantime, we’ve hopefully learned more about the market and neighborhoods in Bend, and are ready to buy there in a year or so, after our house in Washington has sold as well.
Plan Moon: We keep traveling. Life on the road has suited us, so let’s keep doing it and spend more time out West, at least until our Washington renters leave and we can get that house on the market. We’ll get to spend more time with family, put the hurt on those newly purchased Epic Passes, and give the Maryland house more time to sell. The down side (maybe?) is that we start another year of home/road-schooling, and this wasn’t something we had considered before. Once we get the WA house on the market and sold, we settle in Bend in earnest.
There was a time when the mention of Plan Moon would have made my head explode. In fact Tacco has floated severely abridged versions of it for months, and each time I cut her off immediately with stern threats of the aforementioned exploding head. My head is intact this time though. Though Plan Moon is so far from our original plan it feels like a free-fall to me, and is on some level terrifying, it has considerable charms. Plus it’s impossible to deny the financial realities of paying for two houses.
We would make it work either way. And my gut tells me it’s time to get the kids back into school and get them settled again. Us too, to an extent. But more travel would be pretty cool…
Interestingly (and surprisingly) enough, we broached Plan Sun and Plan Moon to the kids, and found them to be as balanced as we are in their assessments. That’s encouraging! It will be interesting to see how this morphs.