Another Journey Begins…

β€œThe road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” – D. Williams Jr.

One of the most commonly asked questions on the tour has been “What are you going to do next?!”. We set out on this adventure exactly one year ago with the intention of trying out this vagabond lifestyle for the year and then reassessing our goals. We are happy to say that we’ve accomplished everything we set out to do! We traveled to faraway and delightful places, we met new friends (who will now be lifelong friends!), we educated others about sustainable living, and we spread the love of Jesus. All of that excitement has left us longing for MORE of the same! So, instead of settling down…we have decided to continue our journey indefinitely! We’ve enjoy the “mobile life” so much, that we wanted to make ourselves more permanently mobile. With that in mind, we’ve made a few changes.

The first change is that we have moved into a new home! Another home on wheels of course. :) We had been looking for a new RV for about 6 months, and found the perfect one for us in Burlington, WA when we were traveling through to Vancouver. It’s a little longer, a little wider, and has a few nice features that will make full-time life on the road easier. As I type this, we are in Eugene, Oregon having the veggie conversion done at Green Eye Auto. They are a fantastic company and we have been really happy with their service. If you are looking to get a veggie conversion done on the West Coast, be sure to give Clark a call! They also have an abundance of cool diesel (veggie-oil ready!) vehicles too. We’ll be headed to Bozeman, MT next to do the remodel on the inside. I’ll be doing an entire post telling (and showing photos of course) about the new RV near the end of July.

Our beloved “blue beast” has served us well…it was really hard to say goodbye to it! Moving out and saying goodbye was so bittersweet. Before I walked out for the last time, I paused to think about all of the memories made in that space…so many amazing people and intriguing conversations, the late nights spent blogging and sipping tea, delicious meals shared, and oh the sights we saw! It was a wonderful home…I was unable to hold the tears back! Bella was quick to point that out with her adorable comments. “Mommy…are those TEARS?!!?” and “Mommy…why are you sad?!”. We had some good talks about how you can be happy and sad at the very same time.

Luckily, we won’t have to say goodbye for good…the original Live Lightly Tour bus will “live on”! We have sold it to Jeff and Kim (you met them in yesterday’s post about Plano, TX) and they will be JOINING the Live Lightly Tour…starting their own adventure in early 2009. They will be doing a separate tour…doing demos around the country and using the RV as a tool to bring awareness to social issues. I asked Jeff and Kim to give me an overview of their mission and what they are all about so I could share it with you:

Hi! We’d like to introduce ourselves…we are Jeff and Kim Harrison. Our 3 yr old son Parks will also be joining us on our new adventure! Born and raised in West Monroe, Louisiana, we ventured out to Boulder, CO six years ago to live and play in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. Living in Colorado taught us to pay even more attention to our environment then we had ever done before and we want to take that knowledge and our passions of travel and meeting new folks out on the road, spreading some Live Lightly Love!

We had the amazing opportunity to meet up with Sara, Matt, and Bella while in Plano, TX where we currently reside. We had already felt the tug of our own hearts to hit the road and set out on a tour that would mirror some of their accomplishments. When they gave us the chance to become part of the Live Lightly Tour and share many of our same passions, we realized that it was no mistake that we had crossed paths. Our dreams were now given some wings to fly!

Our goal for the this tour is to encourage people to make simple choices for both their environment and their communities. By lightening our footprint on our earth, we would like to share some ideas for people to do the same in their own lives.We in turn want to continue to educate ourselves about organic farming, gleaning, and of course hopefully enjoy some great music along the way! We also desire to shed some light on organizations across the country who are sharing their own love to help others.

There are simple things we can all do make a positive difference, and we will live purposely to share that truth.

Our plans at the present time involve getting the RV home to Plano, TX and just doing some small projects to make this very cool bus our own. We’ll be donating and selling more of our belongings with the goal of moving into the bus around August of this year. Our desires are to keep our current full-time jobs through December 2008, and with Parks still in preschool, live in a local RV park here in Plano. This will enable us to schedule our route, make contacts,be with our families during the holidays, and develop our plans to hopefully hit the road Jan 2009. We HOPE to be doing some local demo’s here in the south throughout the fall, aiming to stay in the southern region on the first full-time leg of the tour, then moving farther north throughout the spring, summer, and fall. We will most likely begin in Florida, moving our way West, through New Orleans, across Texas, and of course passing through Colorado, aiming for Portland and Seattle. We also will plan to do an East coast leg as well because Nashville,TN, New York and the Carolinas won’t be missed!

Our paths will certainly intersect with the Janssen family while we are on the road…we plan to meet up with them to celebrate the Tour of ’09 and regain some much needed inspiration!

-Jeff, Kim, and Parks

We are so excited to welcome the Harrison family to the tour! They are a perfect fit and God has had his hand in this process from the beginning. There have been so many little details over the last couple of months that have worked out exactly how they needed to for everything to happen. Jeff will be flying into Seattle tomorrow to pick up the RV and will meet up with us in Burbank, WA so we can give him an “RV 101″ class :) before he drives it all the way back down to Plano, Texas.

The website will, of course, remain…but will undergo a few minor changes…adding their blog, etc. Those changes will take place over the next couple of months. Basically, The Live Lightly Tour will now have two families traveling and spreading the love instead of one. Double the fun!

As for our immediate plans…our schedule on the Route page is still accurate. Our last booked demo was in Vancouver, BC…but we will still be available for bookings in the Midwest. We will be focusing on catching up on blogs and photos from the West Coast and relaxing throughout the rest of the summer and will be with Matt’s family in Montana and Minnesota and my family in Iowa. We’ll head out to Colorado in the fall…we’ve been contacted by several different groups to speak, so if you’re out that way, watch the Route page! My sister is getting married in October in Minneapolis…and after that, our life is an open book! Another journey begins! We are planning on heading south during the winter months and then will be back to the Midwest in the summertime. We’d like to settle into a routine of 6 months traveling, 6 months parked (near family). We will continue doing demos, although the schedule will not be as intense as this year! And of course, we’ll be swinging in to say hello to all of our new friends around the country.

Thanks for hanging in there with us through all of these transitions….please bear with me as I get everything uploaded and blogged from this last leg of the tour. I hope that you’ll understand now that you know all the craziness that has been going on! :) To tide you over…here is the San Diego photo set that I just uploaded.

I am also excited to announce that I will be working on an eBook in the next 3-4 months that will go into greater detail about our everyday life on the road, traveling on veggie oil, and also how YOU can travel too :) Stay tuned!

DwellSmart to the Rescue!

One of the things I have missed most in our travels is growing plants, herbs, etc….just green stuff in general! We don’t really have the space to have big plants in the RV…but growing herbs in the windows is the perfect solution! We were excited to receive a package in the mail from DwellSmart in Charleston, SC with the herbs as well as a neat compost container and compostable corn-based plastic bags. The herbs were so easy to set-up and grow. We have 2 different kinds, lemon basil in a fully biodegradable pot and saucer made from reclaimed rice hulls…and a mint “garden in a bag”. Bella loved helping me plant them and was absolutely giddy when the seedlings finally popped through the dirt to show their delicate green leaves. She continues to water them daily and asks constantly when we are going to eat them. :)

The compost container has been a great place to put all of our food scraps…and it’s so easy to just grab the bag and throw it in the compost pile. No mess! It’s surprisingly large and smell has not been a problem at all because it’s breathable. The unique material allows heat and moisture escape, therefore eliminating “stink”.

DwellSmart’s mission is to help protect and improve the health of individuals and the environment. We had a great time checking out their store when we were there….so much green goodness in one place! I was hyperventilating! :) They truly are a one stop shop for all your eco-needs…with a staff that is committed to living green and helping you do the same. Be sure to comb through their website…lots of goodies!

Florence, SC: Rocky and Becky

Eight days of relaxation and fellowship…ahhhhhh. Just what we needed to recharge before the holidays! We pulled into Florence on Monday afternoon and drove to the home where we would be parking our RV for several months. We were greeted with lots of love…and reunited with one of my sweetest friends, Becky…and her husband Rocky. Becky and I met on MySpace over 2 years ago…and a friendship formed. We started talking more and more…exchanging things in the mail, talking on the phone…etc. So when I decided to dread my hair, I immediately thought of Miss Becky (she has amazing dreads herself!) and asked if she would be interested in coming to Boulder when we were there visiting family and friends over Christmas. She had a friend in Boulder at that time too…and I was so excited when she said YES! Weeeeee! I was on my way to meeting one of my most favorite people! We had a wonderful time in Boulder getting to know each other IN PERSON. It was a blessed time of fellowship.

Fast forward one year…and here we are! Florence, SC Baby! We spent 8 days there before we drove the car back up to Raleigh to fly back to Minneapolis. And what a wonderful 8 days they were…here are some highlights:

We spent an amazing afternoon in Hartsville at The Midnight Rooster. Becky’s dear friend Jessie is the owner of this adorable establishment and we had a great time eating veggie delights and sipping lattes while the girls danced on the stage and entertained us all. This is the kind of coffee shop that you just want to stay and stay and stay some more. It’s eclectic, warm, funky, and fresh (I just like saying funky and fresh in the same sentence). Check out some of the other pics I took there and you’ll see what I mean. Lots of great ideas for decorating there :). I want to go back!

We went to Marianne and Kirk’s house. I wish I could truly explain with words what it means to be at their house…it’s an experience that you need to have in person. They have 6 kids. They have a huge open hearth fire. They have a ping pong table in their family room. They have a wood fired oven in their totally crazy amazing commercial kitchen. And the moment you walk in, you feel like you’ve been there 100 times. They were missionaries in Italy for 9 years. Marianne is like a mother to everyone near her…she’s Italian. She’s beautiful. She can cook like no one’s business. That night we had wood fired pizzas…on the most tasty crusts I’ve ever had. The olive oil they used for the meal that night had been pressed just 3 weeks prior in Italy (they order it direct!). They have the kind of house that you want to stay and stay and stay.

We met Tami. Beautiful, world-traveler, aspiring midwife, yogini Tami :) She holds a yoga night at her adorable home and we went over to say hello. Of course, once I was there, I had to capture it in photos. I loved looking around her home…you can tell so much about a person by what they choose to surround themselves with. It was so fun to see all of her treasured items…a necklace from Africa was my favorite. I also loved how she didn’t have a couch…but a soft futon on the floor, covered with pillows. I may have to steal that idea someday :) So inviting.

A few days before we left, we packed all the kiddos in the van and headed to Myrtle Beach. It was a beautiful 75 degree day, and we had so much soaking it all in. Lilli and Bella were CRAZY in the water (even though it was COLD!). They played in the sand all day. We saw a horseshoe crab and found lots of seashells. Rocky and Matt stayed at the water’s edge with the girls while Becky and I walked and chatted. There is just something so soothing about the sound of the waves. I could have stayed and stayed and stayed! Noticing a pattern here? :)

Becky and Rocky play in a band called Rosewater Faire…and I fell in love with their music the first time Becky sent me a CD 2 years ago. We had the other band members over on Sunday afternoon for lunch and we were treated to an impromptu concert in the living room. Yay! Becky sings lead…she has the most beautiful, smooth, haunting voice. Be sure to check out their music on their MySpace page. They haven’t been playing actively for awhile…but they still sound great!

We had a couple different families who have been following our tour stop by the RV to see it and say hello. Debbie brought her son and his friend and Hope brought her daughter Claudia to play with Bella.

The best part about spending time with this family is that it’s just “easy”. Everything feels so comfortable. Bella and Lilli had so much fun playing together every day in their cute little fenced in yard. Their house is so warm and wonderful…with music always playing, tea always brewing, original artwork adorning the colorful walls. Becky spoiled Matt with one too many pans of rice crispy bars…and he loved it :) They fixed us “grits”…which I promptly put butter and brown sugar on. Oh boy…you would think I was going to be kicked out of the South for that one :) Apparently they like to put cheese and salt on them. Ish! :) Rocky and Matt had “boy time”…and we had “mama time”. It was definitely hard to leave Florence…but we knew that we would be back! We are planning on spending more time there when we get back from the Midwest. It will be a welcome change to go from ZERO degree weather…back to warmth!

Florence photo album here.
Yoga photo album here.
Myrtle Beach photo album here.

Holly Springs, NC: Old Friends Reunited

When Matt was 16, he applied to work on the High Ropes Course at Camp Shamineau near his home in Brainerd, MN. Normally, they didn’t hire anyone under 18, but the ropes course director, Bart, took a chance and hired him anyway. Bart and Matt’s friendship quickly blossomed and Bart has remained a mentor throughout Matt’s life. The last time we saw him was when he stood up as a groomsman in our wedding. We were so excited to reunite in North Carolina after not seeing him in 7.5 years! Bart has recently proposed to Diane, a news anchor in Raleigh. We had a fun time getting to know her better and hanging out with them for the weekend.

Photo album here.

Raleigh, NC: Patrick and Jen

What a blessing it was to spend time with Patrick, Jen, and two of their children (Luke and Lauren) in Raleigh. Jen is a self-professed “former vegan hippie” who is now finding her way back to her roots :) . She’s a homeschooling mama of four who has a kind, generous spirit. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her through Walk Slowly and was excited to meet her in person. We were welcomed with open arms into their warm home and fed amazing, delicious vegan food (check out the photos!). The next morning, Jen made MORE yummy food … and we sipped tea and coffee while looking out the windows to their backyard. They live in a really pretty wooded area…complete with a HUGE (and I mean huge) tree swing that lofts you out into the trees (and tree with colorful leaves STILL on them!). Fun! We are planning on getting together with them again when we fly back into Raleigh after the holidays.

Photo album here.

Moncure, NC: Piedmont Biofuels

Piedmont Biofuels, located near Raleigh, NC is one of the pioneers in backyard biodiesel production…and they are only the second coop we’ve seen that offers B100 (100% biodiesel). We stopped there on our way through and chatted with them for the afternoon. They have a great facility with gardens, a cob house, a straw bale house, biodiesel production house (of course!), intern housing, and a great tree swing (weeeeee!). We had fun talking with everyone and enjoyed the beautifully sunny day. We were delighted when they generously offered to donate 20 gallons of veggie oil to us…as well as a big bag of organic bell peppers from their gardens. Yay!

Photo album here.

Charlotte, NC: Ben and Jenny

When we were in Greenville, I got an email from Jenny asking if we could stop by their house on our way through Charlotte and show them the RV. The timing worked out perfectly, and we were able to spend a night visiting with them. Jenny’s husband, Ben, is a member of the band “Scotty Don’t” and they spend a lot of time touring around the country with their two children. They have an RV already, but they are looking for a more environmentally friendly way to do it. We had a great time hanging out with them…meeting their friends…eating good food…and of course, playing princess.

Photo album here.

Greenville, SC: Chris and Jen

Chris, Jen, and Bryce are fellow travelers AND Volkswagen lovers…so of course we liked them from the start! (For those that didn’t know, we used to own a delightful 1977 Westy). They went on their own cross country journey about a year ago in a VW Bus with their 2 year old. You can read all about it at “We Stay Gone”.

We had a great time in Greenville with them…Bryce and Bella had fun playing, fighting over toys and chasing each other around the yard. They have a gigantic Great Dane as well…gorgeous. They showed us around the beautiful downtown area and took us to the Mellow Mushroom (a delicious little spot) and out for ice cream and coffee. It was so odd to see Christmas lights in all the trees…but no snow! There is a really neat suspension bridge and park downtown. It’s a fun walking area.

I also had the chance to meet another friend while we were there. Kate came over with her kids to check out the RV…and then we all went out for coffee at Port City Java. It was so fun to put names with faces!

Photo album here.

Asheville, NC: More Fun with Friends

I had been looking forward to our visit to Asheville for a LONG time! Everyone had been saying for months how much we would love it there…how fun it was, etc. It didn’t disappoint. We met Charlie and Angela (from Johnson City) there for a Saturday of fun. It was quite chilly out…but we bundled up and enjoyed the brisk autumn breezes. The first stop was The Laughing Seed. Oh…the deliciousness abounds. All vegetarian…all yummy. I ordered the hemp seed burger…and it was great! The restaurant was SUPER busy (they said it was their busiest weekend of the year!)…but that just added to the experience. There were more dreadlocked people in there than I have ever seen in one place, ever. :)

After lunch, we just walked around the downtown area and checked out all of the little shops. My favorite store was Terra Nova Decor…with decor, clothing, and other goodies from all around the world. I completely fell in love with an amazing Mongolian bed and platform couch. Oh…the love. We saw many other cool things…from art to incense…before stopping for some coffee and pastries at World Coffee Cafe.

We had so much fun running around town with Angela and Charlie…it’s always more fun to do things with friends!

Photo album here.

Clyde, NC: Kris and Natalia

As we headed to Asheville from Nashville, I emailed my friend Becky in SC and asked her what we should do while we were there. She immediately told me that we HAD to stop and see her friends Kris and Natalia!! Natalia was a “friend” of mine on MySpace and a real-life friend of Becky’s. And boy am I GLAD that we made plans to stop and see them…it was such a blessed time.

We arrived in the dark…we should know better, but it just happened that way. The dark made it a little hard to locate their house…but we kept driving and talking to Natalia on the phone until we saw her waving at us in the middle of the barely lit street. I jumped out and helped Matt get the RV all situated…and then we all headed inside where a delicious dinner was being prepared. My first impression of Kris and Natalia’s home was “I want this house!”. It’s so cute, warm, and homey. The colors are so rich and wonderful…you just want to stay forever. They have a beautiful property…with the perfect spot for our RV. We really COULD have stayed forever :) Bella made friends with the girls quickly and they were soon exchanging shoes and clothes and hugs. They have a great playroom in the basement…it made me want to be a little girl again!

Natalia is Portuguese, but grew up in France…she and Kris met when she was back visiting a friend. They have a great story and have two beautiful children, Carla and Maya. We so enjoyed our time there…we ate, drank tea, ate more, drank tea again…and talked and talked. I went to a “mama’s night out” with Natalia…which was a nice getaway for me. We attended their church on Sunday and spent the weekend relaxing. It was another stop that God had planned long in advance for us…knowing exactly what we would need at that point in our travels. It was a spiritual, mental, and physical “recharging” time for us. I hope our paths will cross again…

Photo album here.

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