Joy and I had always assumed we’d pursue our full-time travel lifestyle for about three years before settling down. As part of our travels (18 different countries in 2017 alone), we would ask ourselves whether each place might be a good spot to call home. Most locations fell into the “a nice place to visit, but we wouldn’t want to live there” category.
Even though we were evaluating places, we weren’t in a rush to actually choose anywhere. But then our dog, Brighton, happened.
When we began telling family and friends three years ago that our plans to sell or give away the vast majority of our possessions included giving Brighton away, folks thought we were nuts. They were forgiving when they learned Brighton was going to Joy’s sister.
We had planned for this to be a permanent housing arrangement but about 18 months in, Joy’s nephew became allergic to dog hair. We needed to find a new home for him (Brighton, not Joy’s nephew). We spent a few months looking for another permanent replacement home but those options ultimately didn’t pan out. We then experimented with asking friends to take him for several weeks at a time since Joy and I already had a lot of travel booked and paid for. Although our friends were incredibly gracious, we knew it was an imposition, and it was tough on Brighton to keep moving him to different living arrangements.
We decided it would be best to reclaim Brighton and begin looking for a new home sooner than we expected. We thought we would spend most of a year doing short term rentals in a few of our top-choice US towns as a way to really get a feel for each place. We started with Ashland, Oregon, which has always been high on our list of possibilities. We rented a place from the end of January and through most of February. Why not see Ashland at its winter-worst?
We’ve been to Ashland a few times for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), and like what Ashland has to offer for a small town. In addition to OSF, Ashland is also home to Southern Oregon University, so the town has an intellectual vibe to it, lots of young folks with lots of energy, and a political leaning that aligns with ours. Ashland is located in a lovely part of Oregon with easy access to outdoor activities, including hiking and cycling trails. There are lots of restaurants (a few really good ones), some really good local coffee places, and a few great places to try local beers and local wines.
It’s also only a six hour drive to the Bay Area, which is important to us, as we still have a lot of family and friends there and we want to be able to visit several times each year.
Towards the end of our stay we visited a realtor’s office. We started off saying, “We don’t plan to buy for a year, but want to get a sense of of the housing market.” After visiting some of the available listings we realized that Ashland is what we’re looking for and we’d seen a house we liked. We told the realtor we’d changed our minds. We wanted to buy now, and we wanted that house.
We had planned to spend this spring and the early part of summer cycling up the east coast, from Key West, Florida, all the way to Canada. We’d already arranged for a friend to take Brighton for several months, and even bought our flights and paid for hotel stays. Instead, we spent the spring moving to Ashland and repatriating art that had been fostered by friends and family.
We’ve now been in our house for about two months, the first two weeks sans any furniture at all. But since we’ve been living “on the lean side” for two years, I suspect we coped better than most folks.
When the possessions we’d put into storage two-plus years ago finally arrived, opening the boxes was like Christmas. “I wonder what’s in this box? Ooh, I remember this, and I love it!” There were only a few things we wish we’d kept and almost nothing that we unpacked that we wondered why we kept.
Joy and I are both happiest when we’re surrounded by color and art so we’ve already painted two of the bedrooms and changed the living space from bland to bold. The “Before & After” photos show what the staged house looked like – all white/off-white, and our start at adding colors to the walls.
Does this mean we’re done traveling? Absolutely not! We plan to travel about 50% of the time, though for the next few years we’ll mostly be doing US-based trips where we can bring Brighton. He likes being in the car so we’re planning lots of car trips. We’re also investigating getting a dog trailer to hook to our bikes so we can take him on bicycle touring trips. One of us will carry all our stuff in panniers and one of us will haul Brighton around. Since the trailer itself is about 30 pounds and Brighton weighs another 30 pounds, we won’t be too eager to tackle the Sierras again, though!
Future Blog Posts
We’ll still keep our Itinerant Philosopher blog going. Fewer posts will actually be conceived from the bike lane, but we ride often enough that I get random thoughts percolating through my head while we cycle.