Two months in: major life changes & lots of new adventures
I have to be honest, I have lost all track of time. Being on the road is different. Really different. Travel days are all-consuming, basic tasks take longer (things like doing laundry aren’t as simple as walking into the next room), and planning where, when, and how we’ll be moving is made up of a lot of moving pieces (have you ever needed to figure out where you’re going to dump your black tank?). But don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t change any of it.
The life changes have been big. Really big.
Moving from a 1200 square foot house into a 30-foot tube was surprisingly easier than it might seem. We didn’t have the Airstream yet when we left San Diego, so everything we needed and wanted to take needed to fit in the back of our pickup. Add in that we also wanted to take a bicycle and Roxy’s carriage, the space for our things got remarkably small. I must say, though, it was a great way to make us figure out exactly what’s essential. My favorite pair of fancy boots? Not so much. *sad violin* Two beds for Roxy and two cupboards’ worth of her food and treats? Absolutely.
But paring down our closets wasn’t the REALLY BIG life change…
This was the one we knew was coming but there was no way to mentally prepare for it. Hold onto your hats, friends. After 21 years at the same company (20 years with the same team), Greg left his corporate job to join me at Westway. Gasp! I know. We’re still finding our footing and figuring out how everything will be divvied up but I’m confident we will! I’m really excited to finally have him as an official part of the business!
Where have we been?
The past two months have been spent traveling nearly 7,000 miles across the United States. That’s a lot of miles — especially with diesel prices where they are. *cry-laughs*
We started our trip by driving clear across the country to pick up our Airstream in Florida. It took us six days with overnight stops in Tucson, El Paso, Bandera (the Cowboy Capital of the World!), Lafayette, Pensacola, and, finally, Tampa!
We were in the middle of a crazy storm in Bandera, TX (see video above). Our weather apps were showing 1.5″ hail heading straight for us, so we decided to seek shelter in the overhang of a local church. Hey, we didn’t want to wreck the truck before the trip really even got started! We got lots of heavy rain there and a bit of hail but nothing too bad. Coming from California, where we haven’t seen serious rain in a very long time, we were pretty excited about it!
When we finally got to Tampa, we could barely sleep knowing that we’d be seeing our new home the next day!
Greg, Roxy, and I arrived at the Airstream dealership where they had Sibbie all set up for us. We walked up to her and all I could think was “OMG, she’s HUGE.” I was already feeling anxious (big life changes, dude) and I was afraid we had made a huge mistake buying a 30′ trailer. (Spoiler alert: we didn’t.)
One of the Airstream employees gave us a full tour and showed us everything about our new home-on-wheels. Thankfully, Greg thought to record everything so we had a reference when we inevitably forgot something.
We spent the first night parked at the dealership just to get used to things. The next day, we decided to make two big modifications: soft starts for the air conditioners so we can run them when we’re hooked up to lower power amperage and a 3″ lift so we have a little more flexibility with bumps in the road, hills, and steep terrain. They finished up pretty late and we didn’t want our maiden voyage to be in the dark, so we spent one more night there. By the next day, we were ready to take off!
We hooked up and ventured over to a great RV resort a few miles down the road. I drove Sibbie off the lot and got honked at by impatient people as I tried to find a break in the traffic to make a left turn. Hello, stress!
At the RV resort, we chose a spot under the trees for maximum shade and relaxation potential.
We had every intention of installing our special hitch that eliminates trailer sway that weekend but it turned out to be a very daunting install and we decided to have the professionals handle it. We’re very hands-on when it comes to repairs and maintenance so we definitely felt a bit wimpy hiring someone for it but we’re glad we did; it took about 4-5 hours for someone who has done it before.
While we were in Tampa, we needed to pick up some new food for Roxy. We had limited space on our drive over and needed to replenish our stock. When we went into the store, Roxy and I were looking around when Greg casually called me over. That’s when I saw what he had spotted. I might have shrieked, “EEeEeeEEEeeeeeeee!” These glorious food bags feature dogs I photographed for Dr. Marty Pets in 2021. I have been waiting to see them out in the wild and I was so, so excited it happened so unexpectedly. We took lots of photos and as soon as we got back to the trailer, I texted them to all of our dog models’ moms!
Ok, back to travel… now that our hitch was installed, we were officially ready to start our journey: to Fort Myers we went! We stayed at the most incredible little RV resort and we were backed right up to the water and mangroves. We could open our back window and see nothing but nature. It was magical!
While we were in Fort Myers, we did our first photo shoot for our trip sponsors with my friend, Julie, and her family! They were absolute rockstars and we got so many cute photos for dooloop, P.L.A.Y., and Wellness!
The very next morning, though, a tropical storm rolled in and was slated to dump about 5″ of rain on us. We decided we didn’t want to risk it, so we said our farewells and high-tailed it out of there for St. Augustine, where it would still be sunny.
We found a cute RV resort in St. Augustine where we could regroup and figure out a plan. As it turned out, St. Augustine was absolutely gorgeous and I felt very strongly that I wanted to do some more photos here for our trip sponsors. It was just too special to pass up!
I found two additional models who were absolutely incredible. Between them and Julie’s family in Fort Myers, we were able to capture some very special images for my trip sponsors!
After photo shoots, we need food… and where better than Mojo BBQ? This was some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had and those onion rings you see were quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Yes, we went back a second time.
St. Augustine was just so lovely, we didn’t really want to leave. We found a campsite on Anastasia Island, nestled into the trees, and camped out there for a few days. This was our first experience not having full hookups. We had 30 amps of electricity (50 is full power) and fresh water but if we needed to dump our waste tanks, we were out of luck… conservation is absolutely key in situations like that!
A few days later, we left St. Augustine and headed north. We made it to this incredible old pecan farm that has been in the owner’s family for generations. We slept alongside the trees and a pasture with two horses who were grazing just outside my window. It was about 95º and 1,000,000% humidity but the location with the animals and the peace and quiet was absolute heaven! This was our first experience with no hookups and it was definitely rough with the hot weather. We still loved it, though!
The farm housed many animals, including chickens, sheep, alpacas, and a flock of talkative geese who were all named Roger. I felt a real kinship to the Rogers. I think we would have all become good friends. :)
Of course, we couldn’t leave the pecan farm without buying a bag of fresh pecans and a jar of Tupelo honey from their little store. They were both delicious!
Leaving Georgia, we made our way to Charleston, South Carolina. We saw this cute little shop along the way and had to stop in! It was as cute inside as it was outside.
While in Charleston, we met up with a fellow photographer friend, Dana, for margaritas, burritos, and lots of business talk before continuing on our way to Wilmington to visit family we hadn’t seen in many, many, many years.
In Wilmington, we played so many cards (a favorite pastime for my family that always brings us together) and I finally had an opportunity to spend quality time with everyone. We walked around the town, went to a museum of creepy stuff where the boys had been wanting to go, and got ice cream in fresh waffle cones. My cousin’s youngest kiddo loved pushing Roxy in her stroller. It filled my heart with such joy! We had a blast together and I really want to go back again soon!
Next up was Charlotte, NC. We tried out Boondockers Welcome for a spot to stay and it was great! The host family was so kind and hospitable. I’ll never forget how the husband brought out a giant fan to help keep Greg cool while we tried to get the truck and trailer hooked up (we were still getting the hang of our hitch and it was taking us some time).
While we were in Charlotte, we got to see two of my old friends!
First, we met up with Kris, who I used to work with at one of my first jobs in San Diego. Her boyfriend works at Stewart Haas Racing and we got a private tour to see some real-life NASCAR cars up close. I don’t know much about NASCAR but I love cars and truly appreciated being able to learn more about what they do there. Roxy was welcome, too, and got a few cookies from a nice guy there.
The next day, we got to visit with my good friend, Nicole, who runs the Hair of the Dog Academy. We’ve also taught workshops together in Breckenridge, CO and Anna Maria Island, FL. We all had some work to get done that day, so Nicole invited us over for AC and internet. *angels sing* When it was quittin’ time, she made our favorite drink — “mud seasons” (which are just mud slides but there’s a whole story behind it) — and took us out in a boat on Lake Norman. We floated, chatted, and had a really wonderful time!
I had heard so many great things about Asheville, NC and it was only a stone’s throw from Charlotte, so we knew we had to go check it out. An added bonus was that we were finally going to meet a long-time pet photographer friend who also does my website, Lauren! Our first night there, we had a lovely evening full of delicious food and great conversation at her home and the second night we went into downtown Asheville for some dessert at French Broad Chocolate. We highly recommend it!
By this time, I was beginning to feel the stresses of constant travel. I was loving getting to see so many friends and new places but I was getting behind on work and it was hard to keep track of the schedule. I needed a few days to decompress, get some stuff done, and feel like myself again.
Greg to the rescue! He found us the most incredible camp site with full hookups (power, fresh water, and sewer) where we could be right on a creek (see above). I was able to sit outside with Roxy and work from the picnic table. It was so, so, so perfect and after a few days there, I felt a whole lot better.
A few days later, we moved closer to D.C. and Greg finally got to take me to his favorite Mission BBQ (it was delicious)! We also visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles. We saw the Space Shuttle Discovery and a bunch of awesome planes but Little Butch was one of my favs.
While we were near D.C., we wanted to make a stop in to Arlington National Cemetery to visit a family member who is buried there. The staff were so helpful and were able to point us directly to his grave. The cemetery was a really beautiful place and it felt very peaceful. It sounds odd to say but we had a lovely day there.
The whole reason we came to the D.C. area was to get Roxy’s leg brace freshened up with some new straps at Bionic Pets. Derrick and his team specialize in prosthetics for all kinds of animals, including elephants, which is the mold you see Roxy sitting next to above! She’s not wearing her brace in the photos because it was being worked on. It does wonders to help her continue to walk and move. We are so grateful to the team there for the amazing work they do!
In the days following D.C., we found ourselves in Hershey, PA for some yumma-yumma chocolate! We stayed at a beautiful farm with horses, goats, a mini donkey, and a cattle dog puppy! It was absolute heaven and I truly didn’t want to leave! We were backed up right on the pastures where the animals stayed at night when it was a bit cooler.
Roxy loved it here because she could be off-leash and there were lots of familiar smells in the air. It was like the ranch but greener!
The hosts were so kind, they even brought us a dozen fresh eggs from their chickens!
After a few more days, we finally reached our first goal destination of the trip: my family’s home! We were able to park in the trees, get our new Starlink internet hooked up, and finally breathe a sigh of relief. From San Diego to New York, we did it! For years and years, I dreamed Roxy would be in the northeast with me and that dream had finally come true. She loves it as much as I do, too.
The past few weeks have been filled with home cooked meals, serious card-playing competitions with my nearly-103-year-old Nana, and lots of laughter. We have also squeezed in a few trips to Vermont and commercial photo shoots for our three trip sponsors and another repeat client. It has been busy and I’ve been stuck behind my computer for a lot of it but I’m so, so happy to be here with all the people and pups I love most!
Where are we going next?
August will be mostly spent in Vermont and New Hampshire, catching up on work, visiting good friends, doing our monthly photo shoot for our trip sponsors, and enjoying all the small-town New England goodness. We absolutely love this part of the country and are really excited to spend some quality time here!
A little later in August, I’ll be hopping on a plane to Nevada for a commercial shoot with one of my long-time clients. It’s gonna be hot this time of year, so we’ll be shooting at sunrise (oof!) so our dogs and models stay comfortable. It’s gonna be awesome!
After I return, our plan is to make it up to Maine for a bit in September to visit clients, friends, and eat all the lobstah rolls.
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‘Til next month!