SPARK Adventure: A&A Destination Unknown

Two weeks down!

Excerpt from a recent Instagram post on 6/9/19:

“Rounding out the end of week two living the simple life up north in God’s Country, and my heart is overflowing with gratitude.

The wilderness, lakes and countryside of northwestern Wisconsin are truly something else. The weather has been a bit hot, but I’m not one to complain about being warm. I’m incredibly thankful for family, friends, and the opportunity to fully enjoy this time of year and soak up the summer sun & fun.”

It may not still all feel completely real, but it’s really been happening. Adjusting to tiny home living is easier than you’d think, and more of the challenges have been in preparing to go nomadic, and waiting for the final details to wrap up. The smaller space doesn’t actually bother me one bit, and if anything – I just am not a huge fan of the mosquitoes, but I think that’s to be expected! 🙂

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Design a lifestyle that gives you the freedom to fully experience life, in whatever ways that means to you!

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Going back a few months in time, I wanted to paint the picture for you of how we went about preparing for something of this magnitude. What steps did we take? What research did we do? How did it go telling our family, friends, and our jobs?!

Step One:

>>> Create a list… a BIG list, of all that this adventure would entail, what needs to be done, what supplies we need, and what our goals and intentions are. Make a tentative timeline for pulling the trigger.

We started with a HUGE pads of post-it note paper that we hung up all over our kitchen. We made so made lists, I can’t even tell you how many. We wrote down pros cons, realistic goals, supply lists – everything! For many months, each time someone would come over, we would take them down and hide them in the closet. We didn’t want to involve anyone else in our news until we knew enough in our hearts that we could really make this happen.

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Tentative timeline we decided on:

  1. Purchase new home on wheels end of March/beginning of April.
  2. Buy towing vehicle end of March/beginning of April.
  3. Quit jobs in beginning of May.
  4. List house for sale Memorial Day weekend in May.
  5. Move to Stone Lake WI while house sells.
  6. Have a “See You Later” party end of June.
  7. Wait until after Amanda’s 30th Birthday in July to start the journey out west.

Step Two:

>> Do MORE research. Check out YouTube, Instagram, blogs, and other social media outlets to see how people make this happen.

I think Adam honestly spent the equivalent of weeks online watching all kinds of videos from people that made the leap to move full time into a travel trailer or RV. He learned all about what kind of brands people bought, what kind of vehicles they used to tow, how to hook up and operate things, what types of supplies are needed to thrive, how to do things in nature, where to go and stay for free and so much more! As I’ve mentioned before, thankfully we each bring such different strengths to the table. Adam would watch hours of videos, and I would spend hours making lists of supplies, planning out a timeline to buy supplies and what would last us the longest, making checklists, budget lists, and anything else “project management” related.

You can learn more about specific supplies and things we learned by subscribing to our first Nomadic Newsletter coming this July!

Step Three:

>>> Attend the RV Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center in February.

The next step was honestly to agree on what type of mobile home on wheels we would want to pursue, and take a look at them in person to see if we could envision our life inside of it! Conveniently, the annual Minneapolis RV Show was taking place at the downtown convention center in February and we decided to make the trip, in the middle of a snowstorm mind you, to get a better look at possible new home ideas. (We were so worried we might run into my Dad and Step Mom, who usually go to the RV Show every year too, but thankfully we didn’t!)

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Upon first thoughts we were thinking about maybe going with a full blown RV, however we eventually came about the idea of a travel trailer instead. This would allow us to still disconnect and leave the trailer places, and have a vehicle to go places in – such as running errands or driving somewhere to meet up with people, go hiking or whatever!

We walked through damn near every single unit at the RV Show, making verbal pro and con lists about each and every one – and falling in love with one specific layout: a kitchen island to break up the kitchen and living space! We knew for sure we did not want a unit with any bunk beds, as let’s face it, we will be spending more time in this thing than anyone else!

From walking around the show, we were pretty hooked on the Outback Brand, and also liked Jayco, Zinger and a few others. It was really important to us to have adequate storage space, to be in a unit ranging from 27-33 feet long, and to have some space around the bed so it doesn’t just butt up to wall. We also liked units that had outdoor kitchen space, ladders to the roof, outdoor showers, and solar hookups.

Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters of our lives won’t have titles until much later.

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Step Four:

>> Shits starting to get pretty serious, so we better tell our parents about our plan! And make a plan to tell the rest of our extended family!

It’s no secret – we did tell our very best friends before we told our parents. We did not want to involve our parents until we really did all we could to research and prepare, and knew we were truly serious. Thankfully, we have the best friends you could seriously ever ask for, and they reacted in the most supportive ways possible.

We told my dad first, and I was so unbelievably terrified. I literally thought I was going to throw up on the drive over to his house on a cold Sunday afternoon at the end of February. I didn’t even have the full announcement out of my mouth yet, and my Step Mom yelled “OMG YOU’RE PREGNANT”… ha! Funny, but most definitely not. (My grandma also reacted this same way when I went to her house to tell her … LOL WTF.)

Within a week more we also had the same sit down conversations with Adam’s Dad and Step Mom, and my Mom and Step Dad. We made sure to tell as many of our family members as possible about all of this in person, to allow a face to face conversation.

All of our parents have been more than happy, excited, and supportive for us – even if they will miss us terribly, or have their own reserves about what we are doing. I think (I hope) they trust us enough to know we will figure this out as we go and that we semi know what we are trying to do here!

Easter – April 21, ended up being the perfect opportunity to tell the rest of our extended family. We made our way to three different family Easter get togethers that Sunday to do just that. No matter how we thought each person would react, things typically went a different way, but overall everything still went pretty damn well with everyone, and for that we are thankful.

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Step Five:

>> Buy a travel trailer. Buy a vehicle to tow it with!

Thursday March 28, we made the drive up to St. Cloud to go to Pleasureland RV and look at trailers with the full intent of buying one. I had taken a few days off of work for a “staycation spring break”, and Adam was off every Thursday. We tried to plan our timing right, to not be too soon or too late, as we already had a general timeline of when we would quit our jobs and when we would sell our house. (Sidenote: Mercury Retrograde also ended on March 28 and the witch in me refused to make a humongous life purchase until that bitch was done spinning backwards!)

We probably looked at about 10 or so different units and really didn’t necessarily LOVE any of them until the very last unit we looked at. The second we walked inside the Imagine I remember hearing Adam say, “Shit. This is going to be it isn’t it?” It sure the hell was! It was beautiful! And had all of the checks off our wishlist – center island, extra storage spaces, bathroom counter space (instead of just a pedestal sink), space around the bed, ladder outside, outdoor kitchen space – she was perfect!

We ended up going with the 2019 Imagine, Grand Design travel trailer. Model #2670MK, about 32 feet long, full queen bed, shower and one bath. Nicknamed The Black Pearl.

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After a lot of research on what type of towing vehicle to get – we came down to either a cargo van/express van or a specific 2004, 2005, or 2006 Suburban. (Adam’s the car guy, so I obviously trust his opinion on what’s best!) The main thing was to have some space in the back to store items, space to keep the cats during our travels, and space to possibly lay down in if someone needed to take a rest.

Once we started looking at vehicles, we honestly struggled to find something that would work. There just weren’t a lot of great choices out there at the time we were looking. We had our eye on a specific Suburban, which sold before we even ever got to see it, and ended up getting a 2013 Chevy Express Van from a dealership in Owatonna that we had to drive to twice before coming to agreements with the seller on price.

Our new 12 passenger, express van is totally equipped to do the job. I won’t pretend I know what I’m talking about, but he’s been nicknamed Frank the Tank, and is totally white (but with windows) 1-ton van equipped with a backup camera, and new tires! Honestly, we love this van!

Step Six:

>> How did we quit our jobs? And when!?

Figuring out a timeline to quit our jobs was something we each changed our minds on a lot. We were trying to work as long as we could, but still allow time to get the house prepared for selling, ridding of our belongings, cleaning, and packing!

I ended up quitting my job sooner than Adam did, putting in my formal 2-week notice, and ending my last day with my company on Wednesday, May 8. Adam’s job didn’t have a formal 2-week quitting process, and he ended on Wednesday, May 15. We each told them in person, the full story, and received so much unexpected love and support from our employers.

I wrote more about my quitting corporate America experience for the online magazine Life Goals Collective – check out my article here!

Step Seven:

>> How did we downsize? How on earth do you go through your belongings and decide what to keep and how to get rid of the rest?

I’ve obviously never done anything of this sort before – and hope to honestly never do it again. Getting rid of 80% of what you own is no easy process. Thankfully, the annual city-wide Woodbury Garage sales were conveniently two weeks before we wanted to list our house for sale/completely move out by, but BOY what work garage sales are! We set up shop on Thursday May 9 – Saturday May 11, with all of our belongings sprawled out across the driveway. I’ve never ever done a garage sale before and really didn’t know what to expect, but figured we would do pretty well in Woodbury and make around $2,000.

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… That’s really not what quite happened, as we didn’t get rid of everything or exactly hit that goal, but I think I just had a little bit too high of expectations for the whole thing. We sold a lot, but it still felt like we had SO MUCH left to figure out how to get rid of. We grossed about $1,200, which is still decent, but I felt like we could have done so much more. Rookie mistake, but I didn’t register us with the Lions Club in Woodbury, and looking back I really should have to help drive more traffic.

In order to get rid of the rest of what we weren’t going to keep, we had to make four FULL van trips to Goodwill and Savers to dispose of things, sold a few things on Facebook marketplace, gave a few things to family members and friends, and gave our parents a very small amount of things to store for us.

Honestly, we still probably have to shave down a bit more out of the trailer, as Adam keeps saying the trailer “needs to go on a diet” … 🙂

“To Travel is to Live.” – Hans Christian Andersen

A&A Destination Unknown

Support and subscribe to our journey in more ways! Check out our new Patreon site – A&A Destination Unknown. This will be a new way to stay up to date on more of the inside scoop to our journey, featuring special access photos, tips, tricks, stories, and more. You will also get a free copy of our Nomadic Newsletter (coming soon in July 2019) just for being a subscriber!

All proceeds will go directly to funding food, supplies, and all aspects of our journey – including internet connection to keep you updated!

NEXT WEEK:

Our next nomadic blog post will dive into the maiden voyage from Woodbury to Stone Lake, what it’s been like living up north in God’s Country (& what exactly we have been doing up here), and some of the other stresses and challenges we have had to overcome.

Make sure you stay connected with us!

As long as our network connection and nomadic life allows, we will be posting weekly blog updates specifically focused on our journey, each Monday or Tuesday. (I will also still be continuing other blog posts topics and articles for Life Goals Mag) You can also follow us along on Facebook and Instagram for more daily updates and insights into our wandering whereabouts.

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For more reviews, content, and other adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Spark Fire Swan.

xoxo

 

 

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