My 2015 Year in Review

31 December 2015 · 24 comments

This has been quite a year for me. In 2015, I did a couple of Big Things that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. They were scary — but fun. And while my life was mostly awesome, it wasn’t perfect. (It never is, right?) I’ve struggled with my fitness, especially.

By far the biggest event in my life this year was our RV trip across the United States. Kim hatched this plan in early 2014, and after we realized we really wanted to do this adventure, we spent the rest of that year preparing for it. By early 2015, we’d begun shopping for a motorhome and planning for six months of travel. In the middle of January, we bought a used 29-foot Bigfoot for $38,000.

Bigfoot
Bigfoot, before the adventure began…

I don’t think I can convey just how nervous it made me to buy this vehicle. Motorhomes combine the worst aspects of owning both houses and cars. To me, making this move felt — and still feels — like a a huge risk. But calculated risks, life lacks zest. (Plus, we have high hopes that we can recoup much of that $38,000 when it comes time to resell the rig.)

Kim and I spent most of February and March preparing for our trip. We arranged for our friends Tyler and Jess to housesit our condo in Portland. We packed away all of our stuff (except our furniture). We outfitted the RV. Kim quit her job — a big leap of faith on her part. We took a couple of weekend test trips to nearby campgrounds.

Then, on my 46th birthday, we drove off for what we expected to be six months on the road.

Things got off to a rocky start. Kim and I don’t fight often, but there was some definite negative energy the morning we left. That bad vibe lingered as we drove south through Oregon and into northern California. But by the time we reached the Redwoods, we were back in sync. With a couple of exceptions, we remained in a good groove for the next nine months — despite being in constant close quarters and having nobody else to hang out with.

Bigfoot, at home in the Redwoods

After a week in Wine Country, we moved on to California’s Sierra Nevadas to explore Kim’s childhood stomping grounds. We visited her friends and family. We explored Yosemite.

Kim plays with her nephew, Porter, as a thunderstorm approaches

Yosemite Falls in the Yosemite Valley

By the middle of April, we’d reached southern California. We parked the RV in Palm Springs for a week, which gave us time to explore the surrounding area. We visited Joshua Tree. We drove around the Salton Sea and through Anza-Borrego. We spent time with more of Kim’s family in southern California.

J.D. stopped to take MANY photos
We were lucky to tour the park when it was cloudy and rainy.
The weather added texture to everything.

From there, we moved on to Arizona. Arizona! Wow, what a lovely surprise. The state is absolutely gorgeous.

When she was younger, Kim lived for a year in Flagstaff, Arizona. But at the time, she and her husband hadn’t had the time or money to really explore the region. This time, we spent nineteen days sampling the state from south to north — and still didn’t see half what we wanted to.

We loved the funky charm of Bisbee, the mining town built into the side of a mountain. We enjoyed the hospitality of her aunt and uncle in Tucson. We made a quick pitstop for Chinese Mexican food (yes, really) at Chino Bandido in Phoenix. We spent a week exploring the area around Sedona. We camped for free in the national forest just outside the Grand Canyon.

Devil's Bridge behind Sedona
Devil’s Bridge behind Sedona (click for larger version)

Greetings from Forest Road 688F
Forest Road 688F, just south of Grand Canyon!

Grand Canyon is Arizona's most-famous (and most-visited) landmark
Grand Canyon is Arizona’s most-famous (and most-visited) landmark.

The canyon is vast almost beyond imagining -- 277 miles of fantastic formations
The canyon is vast almost beyond imagining — 277 miles of fantastic formations.

It's the Colorado River far below that has carved this region's landscape
It’s the Colorado River far below that has carved this region’s landscape.

The views are so vast that you can watch the approaching weather
The views are so vast that you can watch the approaching weather.

But the biggest surprise of all was probably Page, on the Arizona-Utah border. This town came into existence during the construction of the much-maligned Glen Canyon Dam. It’s surrounded by astounding geologic formations, including the jaw-dropping Horseshoe Bend and the famously photographed Antelope Canyon, both of which are well worth the time and effort to visit.

We're happy to have seen Arizona. Now it's on to other states!
Overlooking Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona.

Antelope Canyon is a crazy kaleidoscope of shapes and colors.
Antelope Canyon is a crazy kaleidoscope of shapes and colors.
Between the two of us, we took over six hundred photos!

After a quick stop at the relatively disappointing Monument Valley, we spent a week in southwest Colorado. Again, more amazing scenery. From the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde to old mining towns like Silverton and Rico to the fantastic Rocky Mountain peaks around Telluride and Ouray, we loved soaking up the history and the views. Top highlight? Probably the afternoon we spent at the “clothing-optional” hot springs outside Ouray. We spent several hours reading in the mineral pools, getting massages, and experiencing a fantastic thunderstorm.

The train followed the bank of the Animas River
Riding the Durango narrow-gauge railroad next to the Animas River

Ouray, Colorado is tucked into the Rocky Mountains
Ouray, Colorado is tucked into the Rocky Mountains

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

From there, we moved on to the Fort Collins area, where we enjoyed ten days with Kim’s mom and stepdad. We biked around the town, ate and drank too much (a theme for this trip), and got to visit with friends like the Mr. Money Mustache family. A great break after the first stage of our trip.

Atop Rocky Mountain National Park
Atop Rocky Mountain National Park

Financial friends in Longmont
Financial friends in Longmont: Derek and Carrie and the Mustache family.

By early June, we had a feel for how this whole motorhome thing worked. We left Colorado and drove northwest into Wyoming, where we explored Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for a week. Again, so much beauty! The western United States has some world-class destinations for nature lovers.

Old Faithful in action
Old Faithful is neat, but Yellowstone offers much more

Grand Prismatic Spring is gorgeous!
Grand Prismatic Spring is beautiful…

The magnificent Tetons
Morning in Grand Teton National Park (photo from top of Signal Mountain)

After a minor mishap on our way to Sun Valley, Idaho — we managed to run out of gas while driving the back way into the resort town — we settled in for a quiet week in a small town.

A long way down...
The drop down into Sun Valley on Trail Creek Summit Road

From there, it was north to Montana. The end of June found us camped on the shores of Swan Lake, a great base for exploring Glacier National Park and the surrounding area. We spent a lot of time on the water, basking in the sun — and dodging mosquitoes. (From the time we reached Fort Collins at the end of May until we settled in Savannah in early October, both of us constantly sported bug bites.)

Boondocking at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains.
Boondocking at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains.

The cold, cold water of Swan Lake in northern Montana
The cold, cold water of Swan Lake in northern Montana

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, as seen from Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The first three months of our road trip had been spent exploring The West, a region we already knew fairly well. (In fact, we had never left a place that Kim did not know.) Now it was time to head into the unknown. Our first stop? The Dakotas. We passed Independence Day in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a wonderful vacation spot.

Mount Rushmore!
Mount Rushmore would have been neater at the start of our trip. By July we were jaded.

We darted down to Nebraska to visit Kim’s close friends and spent a night parked on the edge of bluff overlooking Badlands National Park (just a few miles from the infamous Wall Drug, perhaps the country’s top tourist trap). Here we reached Peak Mosquito. The nasty bloodsucking menaces were so thick that we could not walk from the car to the RV without getting new bites. Crazy!

Sitting on the edge of the Badlands
Sitting on the edge of the Badlands…

Parked on the edge of the badlands!
Our best camping spot on the trip if not for the bloodthirsty flies and mosquitoes.

It was here that our troubles began. Driving east toward Minnesota, the motorhome’s engine blew. We found ourselves stranded for ten days in the small town of Plankinton, South Dakota. While the fine folks at Overweg Auto installed a new engine for us, we took the time to visit the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, see the Corn Palace in Mitchell (meh), and watch a lot of movies on our laptops.

Stranded!
Prepping to tow an injured RV back to town…

The Ingalls homestead
The real-life Ingalls homestead. Laura first met Almonzo in the slough behind this white building.

It was in Plankinton that the seed was planted for my new financial blog, Money Boss. While hosting a financial webinar for my friend Leo Babauta, I realized that I really do love reading and writing about money, and helping others improve their finances. So, after years of saying I was retired, I put the wheels in motion to get back in the game.

With our newly-repaired RV, we got back on the road and tried to make up for lost time. I visited my friends Joel and Aimee who live smack dab in Garrison Keillor country. (Seriously, they live just a few miles from the fictional location of Lake Wobegon.) We parked for a few days near Duluth, Minnesota, where we got out first introduction to what passes for scenery in the East. (Sorry, folks, but it’s not nearly as scenic as the West!)

The sea caves at Devils Island
The sea caves of the Apostle Islands. Like a submerged Sedona. [click for larger version]

In the Land O’ Lakes, we started dropping in on friends. We spent a few days with Jim Collins on the shore of Lake Michigan; we saw Shannyn in Chicago (our first real city since Denver two months earlier); we camped for a week near the Amish enclave of Shipshewana, Indiana where we enjoyed the hospitality of Phil and Kathy; we visited Adam Baker’s family in Indianapolis. It was all great fun, but Kim and I were both interested to see that once we had crossed the Great Plains, it was as if we’d entered another country. Again, the eastern U.S. is very different from the west.

J.D. and Jim, walking the beach...
J.D. and Jim, walking the shores of Lake Michigan…

The river tour of Chicago's architecture may be the best such trip I've ever taken
The river tour of Chicago’s architecture is an excellent way to learn about the city.

An Amish farmer works his field

Adam and J.D. and three Baker girls
Adam and J.D. and three Baker girls

Next, we moved on to Ohio. We stopped near Cincinnati for four days, where we had three great social experiences. First, we met Chris and Jim (a.k.a. Geeks on Tour). Then we enjoyed a home-cooked meal from Amy Finke. Then we enjoyed another home-cooked meal from Andrea Deckard.

J.D. and Andrea are very tired...
Can you tell how hot and tired Andrea and I are in this photo?

In fact, the 24 hours with Andrea had a profund impact on both Kim and me. Over dinner, she told us about Steve Chou’s course on how to open an online store. Kim has been searching for some way to make money online, and this sparked something inside her. The very next day, she had begun researching how to make this happen. (Unlike me, Kim is not a natural internet denizen. She doesn’t enjoy computer work. This is a whole new world to her.) The next morning over breakfast, Andrea gave me some not-so-gentle prodding to start my new website.

These 24 hours with Andrea completely changed our plans. We’d already realized that this six-month trip across the United States was going to take at least a year, but we’d had no plans to stop. Now, however, both Kim and I became distracted. Instead of being in the moment, enjoying where we were and what we were doing, we were thinking about other things. She was thinking about what to sell online and how to do it. I was drawing up plans for Money Boss.

Thanks to Andrea, everything changed on August 14th.

We left Cincinnati and drove deep into West Virginia, a state of mountains and trees. Although this was probably the most beautiful place we’d seen since Arizona, neither of us was fully engaged anymore. Instead of exploring the world around us, we were spending time in the motorhome, working on our projects.

West Virginia is beautiful
The lovely misty mountains of West Virginia…

The New River Gorge Bridge

For the next two weeks, we tried to explore the places we visited. We took a tour of the West Virginia State Penitentiary. In Cleveland, we took a day to ride the roller coasters at Cedar Point. We also visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame (very disappointing) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (better than expected — great, in fact). We parked the RV at a winery in northwestern New York (dangerous!) and biked around Niagara Falls. (So far, Niagara Falls has been the most impressive geological feature we’ve seen in the East. It’s pretty neat. If it were in the West, it’d be a National Park.)

The West Virginia State Penitentiary
The penitentiary building, as seen from the mound across the road…

Harvest Host parking in New York
Our RV spot (and fire) at Freedom Run Vineyard

Niagara Falls from the Canadian side
The incredibly beautiful Niagara Falls (click to enlarge)

As a sign of how much we’d lost our enthusiasm for the trip, we skipped New York’s Finger Lakes, a region we’d been looking forward to visiting. We did stop in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame (again, underwhelming). This area was far more beautiful than we’d expected. We both thought we could live here.

While the next two weeks weren’t miserable, they were certainly the least enjoyable two weeks of the trip. We spent four days in Pennsylvania’s Poconos, a place I’d always thought was some sort of resort get-away. Turns out it’s a dirty over-commercialized tourist trap. Then we spent ten days in an RV park near Atlantic City, New Jersey. We ventured outside the motorhome only rarely. Instead, we cooped ourselves up inside and worked on our projects. By this time, my plans for Money Boss were in full swing. Meanwhile, Kim was receiving a crash course in internet marketing.

We did take time for two visits, however. Our friend Harlan drove out to see us one afternoon. And my little brother Tony happened to be in town for a business convention (which was why we’d picked Atlantic City as a stop in the first place), so we spent a day with him. It was awesome to see both guys.

Tony and J.D.
Brothers with beer.

Harlan and J.D.
Business buddies.

After Atlantic City, we parked the RV at Jim Wang’s house outside Washington, D.C. We drove the Mini Cooper to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend two conferences: Digital CoLab and Fincon. This week with friends and colleagues energized both of us, and reinforced the idea that it was time for us to take a break from our travels.

But where should we stop? Where would we live? What would we do with the RV? How long would we stay put? What would we do for money? Is it possible to simply set down roots all of a sudden with no plan, no preparation?

Turns out, it’s surprisingly easy to do so.

After exploring Charleston, Savannah, and Orlando, we decided to settle in Georgia for six months. We rented a fully-finished condo in Savannah for six months and settled into a routine.

During October, Kim and I were both good about exercise. We’d gained weight from too much food and drink (and not enough exercise) during our six months across the U.S., and we aimed to fix that. At the same time, we both dove deep into our businesses. Kim ordered lots of different products from China to test their marketability online. I worked on content and design for Money Boss.

In early November, Kim’s brother flew out to visit us for a long weekend. We played tourist in Savannah and had a great time trying restaurants and touring the historic sites.

Doug and J.D.
Doing the tourist thing with Kim’s brother, Doug.

After Doug’s visit, I reverted to bad habits. You see, if I’m not careful I can become a workaholic. And that’s what I did. I spent the entire month with my head down in front of my computer. I stopped going for walks. I stopped lifting weights. All I did was work. In some ways, this was productive. I created an excellent (IMHO) ten-part series that summarizes my financial philosophy. And just before Thanksgiving, the Money Boss website went live!

Money Boss screenshot
Money Boss is live! So excited for this new site…

On the other hand, all work and no play makes J.D. a very dull boy. I lost my fitness gains from the month before. And after getting into a good groove with my writing, I fell into a mental funk. The first couple weeks of December weren’t good.

Kim, on the other hand, was a machine. She was exercising. She was working on her online business. And most impressive (to me) was the fact that she had hustled to get her Georgia state dental hygiene license, distributed her résumé to offices around town, and now was picking up all sorts of fill-in work. Her hustle is amazing.

While we’d settled in Savannah, we continued to explore our surroundings. For Thanksgiving, we drove to Orlando to spend the holiday with our friend Toni and her family. We also spent a night in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest European settlement in the U.S. (We’re heading back to St. Augustine in a few days to help celebrate Toni’s birthday.) In early December, we drove two hours north for a weekend in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.

The Angel Oak
The massive Angel Oak is a Charleston landmark.

The Old Sheldon Church
The ruins of the Old Sheldon Church between Charleston and Savannah.

To end the year, we booked a week in New York City. Kim had found a Groupon for a cheap hotel near Times Square. (The place? The very European Row NYC, where rooms are small and functional because you should be out enjoying the city.) We flew up for Christmas week and had a blast. The highlight was an evening with blogging buddies Harlan, Miranda, and Athena. (Trivia: We’ve now seen Harlan and Miranda each three times on this trip, the most we’ve seen anyone.)

The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty.

NYC Street Scene
On the street, somewhere near Harlem.

As I say, it’s been quite a year. When we think about it, Kim and I are blown away by how much we’ve done in the past twelve months. Seriously. With zero experience, we bought a motorhome and launched on the adventure of a lifetime. We explored half the United States. We settled in a new city (if only for a few more months) and both started big new projects. Through it all, our relationship has only gotten stronger, which is something that wasn’t a given. (Many folks find that RV living harms their bond rather than helping it.)

That said, our health has suffered. We’ve enjoyed trying the food (and beer) from around the country. Our bellies are good barometers of just how much that’s true. We’re not worried, though. We know we have the drive and ability to shed the weight once we establish some sort of routine. Unfortunately, that might mean when we return home — next October.

2015 Travels
Where we’ve been in 2015. So many places!

What next? Well, Kim will continue doing fill-in dental hygiene work in Savannah. She’s shocked by how well this has gone. People love her, both patients and dental offices. She has more offers of work than she has days in the week, and she’s getting more all the time. (She’s even getting calls from offices she never applied to; folks are referring her to each other!) Meanwhile, she’s about to place her first order for product from China. She’ll be selling teething necklaces (!?!?!) on Amazon.

Kim's eCommerce Stuff
Our kitchen table is filled with Kim’s ecommerce stuff.

My work is focused solely on Money Boss. Now that the site is live, and now that I’ve finished writing my ten-part “crash course” to my financial philosophy, it’s time to settle into a writing routine. The challenge? I not only need to produce articles for now, but also articles for when we’re on the road. Once we resume our RV trip, I want to devote my efforts to that. I don’t want my attention to be divided. It takes the fun out of things. That means I have to create twice as many articles (or three times as many articles) as I need for the immediate future.

Fortunately, I have tons of ideas. Plus, during my years of “retirement”, I saved up lots of notes and half-completed stories. I shouldn’t have any trouble coming up with new stuff to write. (First up? Tomorrow — on New Year’s Day — I’ll write my article for April first. It’ll be an update of a GRS classic: Lifestyles of the Rich and Stupid. Very eager to write this one.)

We plan to take a two-week trip through Florida at the end of February and beginning of March, but other than that we’ll be camped here in Savannah until it’s time to hit the road again. After the huge St. Patrick’s Day celebration — the biggest such event in the U.S., bigger than New York or Chicago! — we’ll start packing up the motorhome. Our plan is to hit the road by the time the lease on the condo expires on March 31st.

We’re not sure what route we’ll take. We skipped some places we wanted to see when we got burned out at the end of the summer. But we don’t want to drive all the way up to New England. (I’ve promised Kim that I’ll fly us out to see the fall colors in 2017.) We’ll probably start in Washington, D.C. (Maybe we can park the RV in Jim’s driveway again? Or maybe we’ll drive the Mini Cooper up and rent a cheap hotel? AirBNB?) From there, we want to explore the South.

We know we want to hit Kentucky in late April or early May. Kim wants to see horse races! We want to see Nashville and Memphis. I have a college roommate in Huntsville, Alabama and I’d love to reconnect with him. Kim has never seen New Orleans, and she really ought to do so. Our friend Bret will kill us if we don’t spend a week in St. Louis. I have a cousin in northern Oklahoma. The state of Texas is h-u-g-e and might take an entire month to explore. Kim wants to see New Mexico, and we’d both like to visit her mom again in Colorado on the return trip. Plus, there’s Arizona. Arizona! We want to see more of what that state has to offer.

Our only real timeline is that we have to be in San Diego for a conference in the middle of September. (I’ll fly home to Portland for World Domination Summit in August, but that shouldn’t affect our travel schedule.) After that, we’ll drive north to Portland. We should be home in early October. We can’t wait! The U.S is amazing, but Portland is home and we miss it. And we miss our friends. Our only other plan for 2016 is a trip to Ecuador for the fourth annual chautauqua on money and happiness.

So, there you have it. A busy and blessed 2015 with more to come in 2016. If I could get my eating and drinking under control, my life would be pretty much ideal. I hope your life is similarly wonderful, and that you and I will continue to become better people together as time goes on.

1 Tom Murin December 31, 2015 at 11:56

What a year. Your photos are amazing! I want to do the RV thing when I retire, but that will not be anytime soon. Otherwise, I am surprised that you didn’t like the Baseball Hall of Fame. Too calm for you, I think. Otherwise, Cooperstown is a nice town. I don’t think you missed too much by skipping the Finger Lakes. Thanks for keeping us updated on your travels.

2 jdroth December 31, 2015 at 13:12

Yeah, I was surprised too that I didn’t like the baseball HOF. I think there were two issues. First, I’d built it up to be a big deal in my mind. It couldn’t live up to my expectations. Second, when I started to get into baseball twenty years ago, I immersed myself in the history. You’d think that might ENHANCE the experience, but it actually made it disappointing for me. Nothing was new or surprising. The Rock and Roll HOF, on the other hand, had lots and lots of amazing stuff and I learned a ton about music history…

3 Elizabeth December 31, 2015 at 12:48

If your southern route takes you through Arkansas, there’s an RV park right on the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock that’s a good launching point. There’s lots to explore in the area, and one particularly gorgeous stop would be the Buffalo National River. Sounds like a great year!

4 Michelle December 31, 2015 at 13:05

Love all of your photos! We started the full-time RV life in July of 2015 and we will do it for at least the next year and then possibly sailing the year after that. Loving it so far but as you said, it can be hard to stay healthy! We love trying out new restaurants :)

5 Donna Freedman December 31, 2015 at 20:50

Sounds like a lot of discoveries, both external and internal. Wishing you continued success with MoneyBoss.

6 AzJoe January 1, 2016 at 07:24

Great post. I have a few of thoughts on your up-coming trip. While in DC spend some time and go to some of the Smithsonian’s (I think there are 8 or 9 now) and while in Florida, do go to the Everglades and Key West. I realize these are “tourist” things but they are tourist destinations for a reason, they are good. Have a great trip. When you get to Zion national park, look us up if you have time. Travel carefully.

7 JoDi January 1, 2016 at 11:34

What a year! Even though I followed along all year, it was neat to see it all in one recap post with a few new details. I hope the break in Savannah refreshes you to enjoy the next part of your journey even more! Best wishes to you and Kim for an awesome 2016!

8 Aunt June January 1, 2016 at 19:22

What a Store House of memory and writing material. I honestly never thought your journey was a risk. J.D. and Kim are more than capable of turning water into wine. You are truly turning over pots and seeking rather than expecting. Much love to you both . Your force is with you. Love, Aunt June

9 Connie Blaylock January 1, 2016 at 19:36

An adventure you two will remember for a life time. Thanks for giving us a little snapshot of your 9 months on the road. Have a wonderful New Year.

10 Rebecca January 2, 2016 at 02:07

Wow! What a year! It reminds me a lot of the cross-country trip I took after graduating college. I was Peace Corps bound and wanted to see my country before becoming an ambassador. The West is so incredible! If you’re going back through Utah, you may want to put Arches on your itinerary.

I love the teething necklaces. I had one in my cart the other day, and saw a friend wearing one just yesterday. I have no idea if the beads were from China, but with something going in baby’s mouth, it’s good to see Kim is so careful with quality control.

11 TheHappyPhilosopher January 4, 2016 at 12:54

Wow…just wow!

Loved reading this JD, sounds like an epic trip. You have inspired me to think about doing the same in a couple years. Some of those pictures you took are amazing. And to top it off you got to hang out with a couple of my favorite bloggers!

Arizona is something special. I don’t know if there is anything more beautiful than Sedona! New Mexico is a really cool state to see as well and I highly recommend it. Lots of cool stuff in southern Utah also.

If you want an experience life no other I recommend rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon – hard to even describe how awesome this is!

Keep rocking it in 2016.

12 Joy Edwards January 4, 2016 at 19:46

Thank you so much JD for recapping your road trip for all of us fans. I love the fact that the two of you made a choice to travel and broke away from the ho-hum of everyday life. That is truly something that few people are ever able to do. Kim, I am also setting up an online store. My website is just now being built. I just moved to 150 acres bordered by a National Park, so I’m sure there’s a place for your RV if you get back to the Temecula, Ca. area again. Kim, as always I am so proud of you. It’s easy to get a job as you just proved, but not so easy to follow your dreams. Keep on truckin, or not. Love Auntie Joy

13 Gretchen January 5, 2016 at 08:28

Savannah is my hometown, so I was thrilled to hear you are spending your downtime there. Make sure you guys get out on the intra-coastal waterway while you’re there. The barrier islands are so beautiful. I happen to be related to the owners of the best boat guides in the area – Sundial Charters. (Not just my biased opinion – they are highly rated by Trip Advisor). Their “Little Tybee Un-plugged” tour is a great way to spend a few hours. Enjoy St. Patrick’s day in Savannah, but be prepared to take a break from your healthy living plan on March 17th! It’s crazy!

14 Lake Livin' January 5, 2016 at 19:28

Wow, what a year! The RV trip is definitely a dream of mine. If you decide to explore Fort Worth while in Texas (and you should, it’s an awesome city & way better than Dallas IMO), you’re welcome to park in our driveway. We live on a lake!

15 Kevin January 6, 2016 at 18:08

Thanks for an amazing post. You and your sphere of blogger friends are a lot of my favorites and regularly provide inspiration and vicarious joy, and your cross country adventure is exactly the sort I envision undertaking with my family in the next couple of years. I live in Atlanta and travel the south with my job, so I would love to take you to lunch on my next visit to Savannah. I grew up in Southern Kentucky near Nashville, and went to school and worked at one of the horse farms in Lexington. I agree with your assessment that the scenery out west is bigger and more impressive than the East, but I have a few recommendations on your trip once you get started again. On your way over to Nashville, stop a bit and spend some time around Asheville, also go funyaking on the nantahala or nolichucky river. In Nashville, get there on a Thursday, and just barhop along the riverfront through the weekend. Every dive bar in Nashville has someone playing music that would be big attraction in other cities. And if you don’t like the style of music, you can just walk to the next bar for someone equally as good. For Kentucky horse racing, go to Lexington and Keeneland rather than Churchill downs. Churchill is fun during the Kentucky Derby, but Keeneland has a much classier and “Old World” feel when it is running. You’ll see all of the horses in the paddock, and people really dress up for the spring season making it feel much more like an event. Also, Lexington is really horse country, and it is what people who aren’t from Kentucky think of when they think of Kentucky. :-) Also, I think that you would both enjoy Red River Gorge which is just outside of Lexington. Do the hike to Courthouse Rock, and if you are feeling adventurous, tent camp on top of it. It is pretty amazing and I spent a lot of my college weekends there. I have enjoyed all of your blogs, (both lifestyle and finance) and will continue to read. Happy trails!

16 Guillaume January 8, 2016 at 06:24

Hi J.D.,

So amazing and inspiring ! It has been quite a year for you guys ! It reminds me some places we have been and the good times we had. Living experiences make us happier than spending money on things, and it give us incredible memories. You are a living proof of that. Thanks for this reminder. The RV trip is also a dream for my wife and I . Keep sharing, we appreciate ! And good luck for Kim in her new business endeavor.

Cheers from San Diego

17 John W Thomas January 13, 2016 at 23:55

Your financial knowledge is equalled only by your abilities with the written word and that leaves me great hope that art will not be lost by your and younger generations.
Sorry I have not been much help with areas to the east of us as we have no experience visiting those locales as adults, but you have whetted our interest in the east coast.
What I can tell you with growing up in Texas and living there 24 years is there is not as much there as is ballyhooed. Generally, there is not much to the west of Interstate 35, the Gulf of Mexico pales compared to what the Southeast and West coasts offer and there is not a lot of natural beauty – very little federal or state land given the size of the state. The Austin-San Antonio area offers a lot in terms of entertainment, music scene, eats and the area immediately to the west is some of the prettiest Texas country (Fredericksburg, Kerrville). If you are into presidential libraries the LBJ is in Austin, Bush 41 in College Station and Bush 43 in Dallas. I didn’t care much for Houston, living there for 5 years, but there are for sure big city/cultural opportunities there and NASA stuff in Clear Lake. I’m a Dallas boy and the restaurants, museums and shopping are among the best in the state, Ft Worth has some great Art Museums. I have heard great things about the Perot museum, would like to go. One thing on my bucket list for Texas and wow if you want to get out into the middle of nowhere is Big Bend National Park, miles from nowhere in the Chihuahuan desert along the Mexican border, way SW of El Paso, And I am sorry, but I have yet to have a Texas wine that hasn’t sucked, I know, I am a wine snob. They tout their wine, but meh… If you find yourself in the Amarillo area, Palo Duro Canyon is worth an overnight stay. East Texas is a continuation of the great southern pine forest, Texas style. Got to have Texas BBQ and Central Texas (Austin and surrounding areas) are the best, but not the only by a long shot. The Riverwalk in San Antonio is a must see and the Mexican food there is IMO the best in the state. You cross into Mexican border town at your own risk these days, but I used to enjoy walking across the bridge into Juarez for happy hour from El Paso w my 20-something buds.
Do NOT take your car into Mexico unless your spirit of adventure and risk requires it.
If you travel through New Mexico, more to see there than you would think, concentrate on Albuquerque and north. Central Santa Fe is hundreds of years old, lots of history, great New Mexican cuisine, Taos an artist’s colony. The back road from Santa Fe to Taos is amazing (leave Bigfoot behind) and the Rio Grande Gorge.
There you have it, some recommendations and thanks for letting us live vicariously through you all and giving us some travel ideas at the same time.

18 Lora January 17, 2016 at 08:58

When in Nashville, you need to go to the Bluebird Cafe. To get tickets for Friday or Saturday night, you have to be online at 8 AM and be quick on the keys. It is amazing to hear the singer-songwriters play their music in the round. Also, Kentucky and Tennessee both have really nice state parks to visit. Mammoth Cave National Park is great also. They sell tour tickets online but we think that they hold a few for people traveling through based on our experiences. Have a great trip!

19 Mr. Enchumbao January 29, 2016 at 08:01

Hi J.D.
My wife and I are thinking about getting an RV after early retirement. Not sure if we’re going to do but the option is on the table. Thanks for such a detailed post. You brought up good points that we haven’t thought of.

20 Kerry February 1, 2016 at 06:32

Inspiring recap! And great photos. (I especially love the one of Kim pushing the swing.) I think there’s also a great lesson about the nature of cycles in the creative process–filling up with inspiration and then needing to pour yourself back into work.

21 Mark E February 16, 2016 at 11:16

Good afternoon,
I LOVE seeing your success and happiness. You’ve truly pursued this for a long time and worked to get it. You made it! Congrats!

22 Matt February 20, 2016 at 13:52

I grew up in Moundsville West Virginia, I cannot believe you were in my hometown! So awesome!

23 Rebekah March 24, 2016 at 13:18

Long time reader here… I loved this post! What a cool trip. This is an idea that I have toyed with for the last 1.5 years, and it’s always inspiring to hear about other people who have done it and have had a good measure of success.

I see you’re planning on visiting Huntsville – I’d love to buy you and Kim a beer at one of our local breweries when you swing through!

Congratulations on Money Boss! I can’t wait to check it out.

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