The Travel Author - From Home(less) to Home(everywhere)
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
"There are guys outside right now putting our house on wheels and taking it from us forever. It was technically taken from us nine months ago when Hurricane Michael hit, but this makes it so much more official and devastating."
Even nine months later, thousands of victims are still suffering from the after effects of Hurricane Michael... and nine months later, the pain and devastation is just as raw and real. The sad truth is that for thousands of victims, their lives will never be the same.
One moment, our family had a home and a long-term plan for our family life. The next, we were homeless and completely clueless as to what the future held.
First, we financed a RV. Before we even trekked back to deal with the aftermath, and after our house was rumored to be unlivable by nearby neighbors, we went ahead and purchased a fifth wheel.
From that moment on we slept and lived in the RV while slowly but surely going through the damaged house and sorting through everything. For a time, we were able to hang out in a small portion of the house during the day and sleep in the RV at night, but unfortunately the mold from the water damaged side of the house quickly began to spread, so our time grew even more limited.
Add that to the fact that for fifteen days we were without power. Thankfully, in about half that time, my brother-in-law used his awesome engineering skills to rig a way for us to use the water pump. This still meant cold showers though. But, hey, at least we could take showers, right?
That said, imagine my excitement when I learned a Planet Fitness not too far away was offering free showers (by the way, I was so impressed I eventually got a membership)...
To top the cake, Sky Zone hooked my kids up with a jump session at no charge.
Time for the waterworks.
I had not cried throughout the entire hurricane experience. Not even with the discovery that our home wasn't safe to live in. But as I sat in a comfy couch and watched my children laugh and play for the first time since, the tears poured freely.
Plus, after issue upon issue with dealing with FEMA -- who turned in paperwork stating our home wasn't damaged -- my faith in humanity was restored.
The insurance drama is another story entirely, and far too dismal even for this blog post, so we're going to skip it.
Even with our humanity restored, that didn't mean our trials were over. Far from it...
Sometimes, RV life isn't all it's cracked up to be. One crazy ordeal after another happened, and the RV was in the shop more than we were in it it seemed. Trust me, the issues didn't end there either. Of course not. For a small peek at the RV mishaps during our first trip, check out this blog post.
However, even despite the challenges that come with an RV, we were still feeling pretty froggy about our new home on wheels. Thanks to the hurricane (dare I say) we were presented with a once-in-a-life-time opportunity: What was once upon a time a seemingly far-fetched dream, would soon become our reality. With a travel trailer in our possession, we decided to... well... travel.
At first, our main goal was to practice routine. On day one, the boys did their schooling just like every Friday, and Saturday I wrote in the morning as usual. We spent the rest of the weekend as a family. This time, however, we added sightseeing, hiking, and attending a nearby event. All while Ryan worked/volunteered part time at the State Park, which covered our living costs (except for food, of course).
We were excited and the trip was successful. However, real life awaited us when we returned back to "home base." And boy was it a doozy. At this point we were still able to use half the house, but only in spurts throughout the day or else risk breathing in too much mold. Nevertheless, shortly after returning home, our washing machine started overflowing. Which was fine... we could turn off/on the cold water valve during the wash process, making sure it didn't overflow. But then the dryer stopped working properly. Which would have been fine if it would have stopped being rainy and cold all the time and we could hang clothes up. That's not the case though. No, we had to run the dryer 4-5 times just to dry one load of clothes. (We live in the middle of nowhere. No nearby laundromats.) Okay, fine. Whatever. A nuisance.
Nothing earth shattering. Oh but wait... our vacuum cleaner stopped working too. Then... the event that made me lose my ever-lovin' mind. My. Dishwasher. Broke. I covet my dishwasher. Yes I know dishes can be washed by hand. Yes I know it's not the end of the world. But I went into full-blown "toddler who had their candy taken away" tantrum mode. Even though I knew ultimately, that I wouldn't have a dishwasher anyway... nor the need for a vacuum.
Because, umm, we're living in an RV! Plus, someone worked out a deal with us where they'd pay to have the house removed and delivered to their own property where they could afford to fix it.
Hey, to each their own, tens of thousands of dollars in repairs was certainly not in our budget. Also, good riddens! At that point I was eager to get that house out of my sight anyway.
Needless to say, with everything going on... I struggled, and eventually it affected my ability to write.
During all this, I managed to publish not one, but two books. Broken, the second book in my Her Reverse Genus series (18+ adult romance), published the month after the hurricane hit. Resistant, book three in the same series published in March, five months later.
Looking back now, I am shocked that I pulled that off. Or maybe it's not that farfetched, considering writing was my escape from reality. After publishing that third book, though, I struggled... bad. Despite a streamlined workflow, a generous work schedule, and the presence of desire, my writing ceased. For three agonizing weeks. Motivation? Shot. Focus? Caput. Not a single word.
For an independent, strong-willed, small business owner, boy did that not bode well with my attitude.
May rolled around and it was time for our big, month-long trip. Cue a sigh of relief. Good gravy I was so very very ready to get the heck outta dodge and never look back. Especially with the promise that the house would be gone when we returned.
Our trip was bliss. I easily reincorporated writing into my schedule, and we made wonderful, lasting memories as a family.
Ahh, but then once again we had to return "home." And guess what? Everything was just as we left it. The house was still there. In fact, it took another month and a half before someone finally got around to taking it because of the horrible wait times for just about every home-related services in these areas.
Nine months later.
For me, it just rubbed salt in the wound. I couldn't hardly stand walking out my RV door any more. I hit rock-bottom... I also hit the road, solo. Just to get away. My amazing husband didn't mind being there so he took the boys. I got a gym membership (guess where?) and went to the beach for a week for a much needed break.
A couple weeks after I got back, they finally took the house. But just because it's what we wanted, didn't make the actual act of it happening any easier to handle. My sensitive emotions were overwhelmed with a mix of sadness and relief.
With the house officially gone, it meant no more shower and laundry facilities. The RV shower is not cutout for decent showering. Heck, Ryan at 6'4" doesn't even fit in there. Hahaha. So, I now exclusively take my showers at the gym, while the boys and Ryan shower outside. Oh, and Ryan does our laundry at his current place of work.
Even with these less than lavish lifestyle tweaks, having the house taken away was a big, huge weight lifted. We mourned its departure, but felt ecstatic with relief once all was said and done.
So ecstatic, in fact, that I wrote a record-breaking 20k words in five days.
What's even better, with the house gone and our focus more clear, instead of having no clue what life has in store for us, we were able to make a plan.
Never in a million years would I have imagined a life traveling the nation with my family of five. Up until now, I pictured a long life in the quiet country until we were old and retired.
Apparently grand things were in store for us though. We will no longer be utilizing this property we've called home for over ten years... instead, we get to experience life as vagabonds!
And the best part? I get to write and support my family full-time, while traveling all over the United States.
Growing up in Florida, I have been no stranger to hurricanes. In fact, one of my most favorite past times is collecting the beautiful seashells that wash up from the storm. For that very reason, I knew grand things were in store for me. All I had to do was wait for the storm to pass so that I might be blessed with the opportunity to find the seashells lying in wait.