…they walked up the hill to watch the afterglow clinging to the tops of the western mountains and to feel the breeze drawn into the valley by the rising day-heated air. Usually they stood silently for a while and breathed in peacefulness.
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
There were clouds that were this mix of blue, purple, and grey. The very tips of the clouds were lined with peach. I’ve never seen that combination of colors. In the forefront there was this green mountain full of lush beautiful trees, which I didn’t know existed in Arizona… lots of trees, Juniper trees…and in the second layer there was this beautiful adobe stone colored mountain… and in the last layer was this snow covered mountain because it’s snowing about 500 feet in elevation above us… and so you saw three different seasons right in front of you, and the sun setting with the colors above it. And the one mountain was a so far away that the sunset was a little bit later than the one that I was watching in front of my green mountain and even though everything was shrouded in clouds, about an hour after the sunset, the clouds started lifting from behind the white snow covered mountains, and you could see the sun brightly shining through it while the rest of the sky above me was blanketed in these clouds.
These are the words of my sister, Nora. She is describing a recent sunset from her new home in the West. While working on this story, I texted Nora and asked her to send me some photos if
she had them. She replied that she would send them when she was home from her hike, as she was presently on the side of a mountain. When I didn’t hear from her until several hours later, I assumed she had forgotten, only to get a late evening text from her that they were home: We stopped and got dinner to eat on another mountain!
The amount of energy this girl has baffles me. And I am supposed to be the young spry one. Before I get into Nora’s story, and how she finds herself in such places on a daily basis, I’d like to give some back story (pun absolutely and shamelessly intended). Nora has suffered from back injuries and other ailments for the majority of her adult life. Tied to weekly doctor’s visits, expensive medical bills, and a body that didn’t seem to have the energy and focus to stay awake or to venture outside of the apartment aside from her job, Nora felt “imprisoned.”
Several months ago her husband, a nurse, asked her what she thought of traveling for awhile throughout the US via a traveling nurse program. Nora said that she couldn’t think of any reason not to. She had begun to consistently eat healthier, “cleaner,” real, whole foods. She had replaced prescriptions with a healthy lifestyle and natural, gentler remedies, and she (along with the rest of us), began to notice a marked difference in the way she felt. And her back? Healed. That she attributes to the maker of sunsets, Himself.
And so, Nora, along with her husband, and her little dog, Dottie, began a journey traveling from state to state across the US in their RV.
Financial freedom is a big part of it, she said when I asked her to go into a little more detail about their reasons for starting this adventure, but having the time to do fun things together that we haven’t had in the past 10 years was one of the biggest motivators… and we’ve already had 10 years worth of fun in the past 4 months!
Living with only the possessions that will easily fit in an RV might sound like a challenge, but when I asked Nora how she felt about living with less and what she missed, here was her reply:
I miss living with more family around me. I miss living with that comfort, that close circle of people within driving distance…I miss the family I nannied for… and.. it’s so crazy but I really can’t think of anything else that I miss!
Did she feel cramped?
I actually feel like I have way more space…. I am free and have the energy and the time and the freedom to explore endless things around me. That’s the last thing I feel. I don’t feel cramped or wish I had more. I feel like I do have more than I used to.
Favorite place so far?
Right here, right now.
Nora gave me a little rundown of a typical “day in the life” of their little family.
When Nora’s husband is off of work (he works 3 days on, 4 days off), they like to sleep in, make a nice big breakfast, and then take off for a day-long hike with a packed lunch. They then usually come home, eat dinner, watch a movie, and go to bed.
On the days that her husband is working, she likes to get all of the housework done, which involves laundry, food prep, vacuuming, dusting, etc. She and Dottie take a 3-6 mile hike daily, usually first thing in the morning. And she also dedicates time towards researching for her blog on natural dog care. In fact, right after I talked with her, she was planning on watching a documentary to prepare for a future post. Dottie is a certified therapy dog, so Nora is planning on applying for some volunteer work as soon as they get settled into their new location. When they were in Memphis, she and Dottie volunteered at a nursing home. A lot of the people that had been placed there had to leave their animals behind. One woman, who had to leave her 5 dogs when she move to the home, looked forward all week to that little bit of time that she got with Dottie, who would hop on her bed, give her dog kisses, and bring laughter and joyful tears to a room so used to loneliness.
Nora has recently started a blog about natural dog care. Driving Miss Dottie is a place for dog owners to come together and learn about ways to care for their dog in the most natural way. Please check it out and subscribe, especially if you have a dog! She’s taken the time to be intentional and thorough about this, researching her topics extensively before presenting them to her audience.