Planing for the Road Ahead…

Hi All~

Sorry it’s been a while since our last blog. We have not fallen off the face of the earth or been downed by COVID. Though we have had a few medical issues to contend with (that’s another story.) We had hope that this spring would find us back on the road again and COVID free. Well though one of those is not likely to happen any time in the near future. We are moving ahead with the second and planning a shorter travel season.

Our plans are not fancy, and we have the months of Spring-Summer sketched out. We’ve learned from last year that no matter how much “well-planning” you do, you must keep yourself open to change and fluid to whatever comes your way.

It takes a bit more to plan these days, my little “Clo-ffice” (that’s a closet-office) has been covered with roadmaps, lists, calendars and traveling apps for weeks in order to get to the “few” destinations that we hope to hit in the next several months. I know many others travel less “schedule” that we do.

So you maybe asking why all the work? Easy~ Keith has to have realiable cell service – work, so do they kids for school. Most of our stays are a month a time for the above reason (work and school), so our “sight-seeing” is left for weekends or evening time. We “live” on the road, is not a vacation, so we have to be able to function our every day lives too.

Hard at work planning in my “clo-ffice”…

But we have continued to explored our FL surroundings while we have waited to hit the road. We have learned to be content in every situation we are blessed to be in. To be patient while we wait and to see the beauty in all our surroundings.

We usually close each blog with our signature “quote”, well we’ve been living by it too..

”Remember, it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

Keith & Merari

year in contemplation…McFarland Year End Greetings…

2020, not sure how to describe the year that the world came to a stop. Yet, again in our personal lives, we achieved so many milestones too. So let us recap our 2020 in a nutshell. The beginning of the year found us still on the road with an extensively booked calendar—our hopes to see so many new places for the year. Austin, TX, was the trendy start of our year, then we decided to relax and lay back in Galveston. Little did we know that would be our “shelter-in-place” for many months to come. After our extended and unexpected stay in a beachy but “fogged most days” in Galveston, we made some hard decisions. Unscheduled many hope and dreams for our spring and summer and decided to check on our family in Florida.   Preferring to lay low for the summer and see what this pandemic was all about and if it would hand about pass a “few more weeks.” 

While in Florida, however, we have managed to “celebrate” a few family milestones. Such as – Duncan’s graduation from High School, 18th b-day, getting his full driving license, and starting college – ALL IN ONE SEASON!!!  EllaMaria – celebrated her sweet 16th, got her driving permit, and began the 11th grade (yes – she is that much is closer to graduation too). Xavier – now a full-fledge pre-teen, who celebrated his 12th b-day, continues to become a nature lover and fishing enthusiast. In our new winter “spot” that happens to be a Nature Preserve, he has endeared to score a “junior membership” to the nature preserve society. We believe we have a future National Park Ranger in the making. 

Duncan’s Graduation Celebration

As for Keith and I, we continue to do the best we can within the “restricted” limitation to share our hearts about the ministries that the Lord has placed in our hearts. Our home on wheels and truck still share about “Justice and Mercy International,” so we always get asked who they are. I am now again actively serving in Women’s Ministry (online – www.lovegodgreatly.com), which brings me immense joy to see that this online ministry has provided a haven for women even amid a worldwide pandemic.  Whom may come and gather fellowship, and be encouraged when otherwise they would not have gathered in-person. 

Though this year has looked so much different from what we had initially planned, we still have been so grateful and praise the Lord for the things we have and can do. We have learned that the state we grew up in has much to offer and explore, and we have been able to do it safely and healthily. We have enjoyed a safe and healthy family time with loved ones that memories will last for a lifetime. Our growing children have made some incredible milestones. They show us that time is indeed precious as they are quickly developing into young adults that we “sadly” knew would too quickly come and was a keystone of what set us in our journey to be intentional in our lifestyle.  We hope not to miss the little moments that life has to offer. 

We pray and hope when you all read this, the Lord’s blessing will be upon your family and your person, and whatever 2021 may have for us, may we be a yielded vessel to love, serve and give grace back as is being given to us. 

“Remember it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

not the destination…but oh!!!

I always end blogs with “Remember its not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey…” This weekend that was never more evident as we hit the road and our rest stop became delightful and restful ”joy” in our journey.

Of the beaten path in South Carolina, Lake City is a hidden gem. The little town holds historic buildings that are loving being brought back to life with delightful stores and gourmet treats. Our early morning strolled through the main street, we found so many things to delights in, including a delicious bakery (https://www.bakerssweets.com) provided our reward for our morning ”exercise 😃.

Hidden gems like these are what so delights us while on the road. It allows us to see that the destination is not always so important as taking in the daily moments that we live in. I hope that each of y’all does the same

“Remember its not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey...”

while at the springs…stuff happens

I know I have neglected to keep up on our sharing of the Journey. I am going to confess, these past few months have been not only extremely busy, but also a bit overwhelming. In our last installment, I shared that our family had decided to slow our travels and stay in the proximity of Florida for many reasons I had previously mentioned.

We have begun to explore the natural sites that Florida has to offer. Such as the first National Wild Life Refuge (Pelican Island), which was established in 1903 near Vero Beach, FL. I loved that even though the mild hikes didn’t make you break a sweat (well I did sweat but that was cause it was almost 100% humidity – it is Florida after all!!). It was such a beautiful tranquil setting. With a marvelous view, well pictures would probably speak better than my words:

After a few more local explorations, we decided to get some “long term logistics done”. Bus maintenance was overdue, and we had tossed the idea of a long term winter spot in Florida since (Keith’s health) does much better in Florida weather. The family celebrated many milestones, to name a few: Ella, Xavier, and Keith’s B-day (plus several extended family members), Duncan’s High School Graduation. Family gatherings’ for Mother and Father’s day.

However, we were itching to get back “on the road again”, we knew that would be limited. So we headed a few hours north of our now winter spot (in what’s known as the Space Coast).

Ocala is known as Florida’s horse country. It didn’t disappoint, to those of you that are familiar with Florida’s landscape and its famous beaches you may not be aware of this hidden gem. In a state filled with palm trees and sand, this would seem completely foreign, with its hardwoods and emerald brilliant rolling “hills” and their majestic horses munching away at the grass. This area is also surrounded by another natural wonder, “hot” springs. So we decided to partake in the delights of the Florida Springs.

Fun Facts About the Springs:

Temperature is a constant 72 degrees ALL YEAR AROUND

Source of 90% of Florida’s drinking water

(The how and why of the spring) Water in the springs rises through the limestone, which has a relatively soft texture. As it rises, the rock itself filters out many of the impurities. Which creates crystal clear and reflective (almost turquoise surface) water.

The family ventured out first to Ginnie Spring near Gainsville. Though the natural beauty was magnificent (the experience however left to be desired as the location was crowded and during these times that can be overwhelming). “Reality” also happens when you live life on the road and one of which is getting sick – I had a double ear infection and had negated to go get medical help until the last possible minute and was miserable and missed that outing. I finally relented and got medication, which I am glad for because that earned me a trip to Silver Springs State Park . We did their famous glass bottom Boat tour of their pristine springs. This is one that I would highly recommend – though I would caution if you do, make sure it’s during the week and not during busy times.

Reality came crashing down as we sat down for lunch after our wonderful day at the springs, everything went up in “smoke”.

So here are a few lessons to share about RV living (even home living). Never neglect your smoke detectors or electrical protectors. So, a quick back story for those of you that travel in RV or such, if you have ever wondered if having a surge protector is an important asset, YES, IT IS. Here is why, as I finished prepping lunch we promptly loss all of our power and the generator kicked in with emergency power. The oddity this time was that when Keith went outside to check the power outage (which in itself is not strange, it happens from time to time). However, what does not normally happen was the smoke detector in the power bay going off. Smoke coming from the shore power cord that provides power to our bus/RV. We feel blessed that our bus/RV has an internal power surge protector and we took measures and added an outside surge protector too. The electrical failure was contained between these and didn’t come into the bus. We have seen too many times where similar situations have caused fires to claim an RV all too quickly. We were sparred, our home on wheels will be repaired and we will continue to explore soon.

This journey continues to show us that we do not know what is around the next bend, we just need to be willing to go with the flow and readjust our trajectory.

“Remember its not just the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey...”

the after…life after COVID-19

How has life changed for you after COVID-19? It is a valid question that many of us have been asking in the last several months. As life settles into a “new normal”. Such as shopping with a mask on, making sure there is some type of hand sanitizer or cleaner available at all times, 6-feet rule…this has become our new “world” every day living. We all look at what is ahead and are not quite sure what awaits us…

Friendly neighbors…

For us, who travel “full-time” life has also taken a new perspective… It has taken me a bit to be able to process this new “norm” and to be able to sit down and write to you all. To recap where this “pandemic” has first encounter us and taken us, and how it has changed the course of our current journey.

We happened to be in beautiful Galveston Island, after preparations to hunkered down and were able to safely spend close to 3-months in shelter-in-place there while waiting to decide on how to best move forward… Able to hear the roar of the ocean even if not able to see it still brought comfort and refreshing breezes, and our neighbors were gentle and friendly horses that loved “carrot treats”. We knew that a change was headed our way.

Duncan – Grad 2020!!

Florida was our next big destination due to our eldest upcoming high school graduation, which like most of the US has been celebrated at home with the well-loved and embarrassing “graduation sign” in front of the bus, cap, and gown party with family (more of that to come). We also wanted to check on our family that was also in the state, especially our parents.

One of our hopes with this life was flexibility, and allowing the Lord to lead the way. Well, we definitely feel like there has been ” A LOT” of flexibility this year and definitely “A LOT” of leading. Once in Florida, it continued to become apparent that many of the scheduled plans we had made were not going to be possible due to partial or full closures. So, we decided to look at what was possible instead.

Florida happens to be the childhood state of both Keith and me, yet neither of us has explored it with the “eyes” that we look at the rest of the US… so we decided to take a fresh look at it and see what everyone else saw too, here is what I have found out so far:
NATIONAL PARKS: 3
STATE PARKS: 175
STATE TRAILS: 9
HIKING TRAILS: ESTIMATED 5,000 miles of available trails
FRESHWATER SPRINGS: 700
KEYS(SMALL ISLAND): 800

So if for the time being, we have to stay “around” one area, guess we’ll have just about “enough” to explore for a while… Stay healthy and safe.

As always remember:

“It’s just not the Destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

2 years..where have you gone?

March is peeking around the corner, the birds are chirping (well in southern TX – the Grackles are making a ruckus – but that is a whole different blog). We find our selves looking back in awe that we are at our “2nd year Nomadiversary”. For those of you not familiar with the term, that means “nomad- anniversary”.

We embraced Full-Time RV living back in March of 2018 (even if it was in our driveway at the time). While we fully transition and finalized all the details,  we lived, schooled, and persevered through the rough spots and hit the road in June (2018). We started in a different “tiny home on wheels”, we’ve discovered more about ourselves, made a few “mistakes” along the way and became fully committed to our Journey. We continue to endure and found that even in all the “ups and downs”, God’s amazing Grace sustains us in this amazing Journey.

We still “do everyday life” – work, school, chores, (yes lots of chores) and lots of fun stuff too … but it’s not a vacation y’all! (though my pictures may make it seem like it is – ok it maybe it is a vacation for our dogs!!). We live intentionally and want to work, serve and play TOGETHER  (and sometimes fight and cry too). Life is REAL.

Our journey has seen many great milestones for all of us. So let us give you a recap. As the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words, the following should be worth…about “a MILLION“!!”

 

“Remember if just not the destination, but the Joy of the Journey”

a history gem…in the midst of a bustling city…

While in our recent visit to the bustling metropolitan city of Phoenix, we visited a beautiful little gem of a Native American history museum. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park​​​​ allows you a glimpse into the life of the Hohokam people. Hohokam people had a unique relationship with the environment. You will be able to take advantage of the hands-on gallery that explains the process of archaeology, and the changing exhibit gallery, which features rotating exhibits on a wide variety of fascinating topics.

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Our kids always have so much fun learning about this part of our rich history.

The day was so beautiful and after strolling through this great museum and we were able to do a little more sightseeing through town and did another great stop – Hole-in-the-Rock. Keith and Xavier were the only two that were dressed for that hike and took on the challenge!! The rest of us meandered around the surrounding area which looked like a watering hole in the backwaters of the Nile…

 

 

Hope you are enjoying our journey updates as much as we are enjoying our journey…

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“Remember in not just the destination, but the Joy of Journey…”

Making of a Mountain Man…

Many have commented on the evolving “look” that my better-half, Keith has been sporting this past year. His facial hair has indeed been on a journey of its own… Many have concluded that he has become a “mountain man”. However, though he is not a stranger to facial hair this new transition to “full-bearded” Keith has taken many by surprise… I laugh a little as so many puzzles over his choice… Yet, when looking around it seems that “beards” have become the last frontier of masculinity that men have left (to quote a very funny comedian)… And in some aspects, I think this may be true…Whether sporting a mustache, a 2-day stumble or a well-groomed (or not so well) full beard men embraced facial hair all around us.

Looking throughout history men’s facial hair has had diverse meanings (such as masculinity, royalty, fashion, and status.) Many civilizations went as far as creating “fake beards” to achieve this imposing look (i.e. Egyptians)…Many have as intricate grooming rituals as we see today. Items as beard curling iron (to create fanciful cascading curls) to beard oils and specialty dyes to look more “dashing”. Beards have been seen as a sign of wisdom by some while others as a sign of “aggression and authority “…(in the Middle Ages – if one man touched another’s beard it could be construed as a sign of aggression and a duel 🤺 could be issued – glad this is not the case now or Keith would be issuing tons of duel to me…lol)

Beard Historical Chart
“Pick the best beard for you??”

Of course, one core practicality is that it also keeps your face warm (Keith’s favorite attribute), his least favorite… drinks dripping from the beard constantly – and must be constantly wiped off (🙄)…Whether you are a fan of the fuzzy and full beard look or the smooth and clean-shaved  one… Beards are here to stay…As for me (humble wife) as long as it’s clean and groomed, we’ll live with whatever facial hair makes our better half happy…

 

until next time California …

Wrapping up our visit to CA we took a beautiful drive along the Monterey/ Carmel coast. An adventure in itself, as we encountered such diverse weather. We left in the cool mist of the morning, to arrive at Monterey in a cool, crisp sun, we hiked along the beach path and got some great Ocean pictures (actually – a family competition “who can get the best wave picture”)

Xavier didn’t believe the rest of the family that the Pacific Ocean was cold, insisted on trying out for himself. It was a very “chilly” lesson to learn…

We proceeded to drive the famous “17 Mile Drive” to Carmel and were engulfed by mist and cold fog… there were spots that “well it was just plain hard to see”…

When we emerged at Carmel-by-the Sea a cool crisp sun greeted us and we can see the overwhelming beauty and attraction of this “famous” coastline that has so many enamored with it.

 

We said good bye to CA as we traverse the state again this time via Mojave National Preserve. The drive afforded us unique mountain vistas, which after a recent snowfall was even more beautiful (though I still have a hard time wrapping my head around cactus with snow on them!!) – sorry no picture for that – could not stop 🛑!

We now begin our journey east – we’ll see what kind of adventures and people we’ll meet along the way!!

“Remember it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey!”

until next time California …

Wrapping up our visit to CA we took a beautiful drive along the Monterey/ Carmel coast. An adventure in itself, as we encountered such diverse weather. We left in the cool mist of the morning, to arrive at Monterey in a cool, crisp sun, we hiked along the beach path and got some great Ocean pictures (actually – a family competition “who can get the best wave picture”)

Xavier didn’t believe the rest of the family that the Pacific Ocean was cold, insisted on trying out for himself. It was a very “chilly” lesson to learn…

We proceeded to drive the famous “17 Mile Drive” to Carmel and were engulfed by mist and cold fog… there were spots that “well it was just plain hard to see”…

When we emerged at Carmel-by-the Sea a cool crisp sun greeted us and we can see the overwhelming beauty and attraction of this “famous” coastline that has so many enamored with it.

 

We said good by to CA as we traverse the state again this time via Mojave National Preserve. The drive afforded us unique mountain vistas, which after a recent snowfall was even more beautiful (though I still have a hard time wrapping my head around cactus with snow on them!!) – sorry no picture for that – could not stop 🛑!

We now begin our journey east – we’ll see what kind of adventures and people we’ll meet along the way!!

“Remember it’s not just the destination, but the Joy of the Journey!”