From the Tetons to the oceans, we must be mobile!

Published September 19, 2016   Posted in How to Think

Most of you know that my wife and I vacationed in Colorado a couple weeks ago. We stayed in a lakeside home near Grand Lake, Colorado for a week and enjoyed some time away from the brutal heat that continues to envelop the desert southwest.

A bed of fog drifted peacefully over the lake every morning as temperatures dipped down into the upper 30s and low 40s. The lake was quiet and relaxing. The log cabin felt cosy and inviting.

We loved the vacation. We hiked nearly every day.Β The family huddled around a campfire eating smores on a couple of the evenings. I would watch the smoke from the fire drift upwards and slowly wrap around the surrounding trees, hugging them with the sweet smell of burning wood.

Check out our video of the experience below if you didn’t catch it in last week’s Feast.

As I stood grilling dinner one evening, I peered out over the lake as I waited for the steaks to hit their medium-rare juiciness. I took a moment to consider my environment, and I realized something quite remarkable. I asked myself, “What if we moved to a place like this? Could we live here?”

While this place is wonderful, I’m not necessarily a mountain person. Then again, I’m also not a beach person, as our vacation to Baja, Mexico in July taught me. I’m definitely no city guy, either.

So, what am I?

When things become too routine

From our dock on a smaller lake, thunderstorms in the distance

From our lakeside dock, thunderstorms loom in the distance

As nice as the cabin was, I wouldn’t want to pay the price to live there. Even in paradise, things become routine when we spend so much time in one place. Yes, the lake was nice. But, I also realized that if this was our home, my appreciation for the lake and surrounding wilderness would eventually fade.

Soon, I might not even “see” the lake resting peacefully behind the cabin.Β The lake, like everything else, would start to blend in and go unnoticed as I live my life, take care of chores, maintain the house…work.

I lived in Colorado Springs for three years. At over 14,000 feet, beautiful Pikes Peak to the west would cast a gigantic shadow over the sprawling city. The Rockies is a beautiful mountain range. In the winter, snow would blanket the front range and bring with it a scene so stunning that it escapes description.

The first several weeks after moving to The Springs, I looked at the mountains nearly every day. But eventually, I didn’t even notice them. I knew they were there, but they began to blend into the environment. They became part of the landscape and no longer a daily feature.

In short, I stopped appreciating the Rocky Mountains because I lived there.

Now, I live inΒ cactusΒ country, and the Saguaro, the “King of Cactus”, largely goes unnoticed by this humble early retirement blogger. Visitors, however, love every minute around them. Why? Because they are new. It’s something they don’t often get to see. We appreciate fresh scenes in our life.

We cannot live in a home that is stationary

A few from our rented vacation home in Baja, Mexico

A view from our rented vacation home in Baja, Mexico

Naturally, the same phenomenon would happen if we moved up to a cabin near Grand Lake. The first few weeks – maybe even months – we’d love it. The mountains. The fresh air. The natural bodies of water that we don’t exactly get here in Arizona.

But eventually, we will lose appreciation for those things. They will become a part of our environment. We will take them for granted. Our environment becomes routine. I don’t ever want that to happen in the places that we happen to be.

The real reason why we are choosing a mobile life in our Airstream is to avoid this “appreciation depreciation“. We want to take notice of our environment. Experience the weather. Appreciate the nature. We want to breathe in the crisp air of the Grand Tetons and dip our feet into the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean. We want to hike the high alpine trails of the Rocky Mountains and feel the warm sand of Death Valley between our fingers. I want to sit in a Seattle coffee shop, too!

And we never want it to get so routine that we lose appreciation for what we love the most. Everything! We want to experience everything that our world has to offer and move on once we feel like we’ve had enough. We want the flexibility to return to the things we enjoy the most if we choose to – maybe camp on the West side of the Tetons instead of the East for a whole different view (not to mention weather!).

The only way that we can do that is my moving around. We need to be mobile.

What say you? Do you feel like your surrounding area has become routine? Would you appreciate your environment more if you moved around?

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34 responses to “From the Tetons to the oceans, we must be mobile!”

  1. Love the “appreciation depreciation” concept and I totally agree. We live in a “resort town” on a beautiful lake and there are people in town who NEVER go there. We follow as much of the lakefront as we can on our 6 mile walk most days. The views are breathtaking – if you actually stop and look at them and this summer the sunsets and moon rises over the lake were phenomenal. We actually bring kids from school to the lake (it’s about a mile or so from school) because some kids have never seen the lake – let alone swam in it. We have set two home bases starting next fall (NY/FL) but we plan to be as mobile as we can with two college age kids. No routine is what we hope our new life to be!

    • Steve says:

      Hey Vicki! It’s interesting how that happens…when we live in beautiful areas, we tend not to experience those areas like tourists and visitors do. I can only imagine how breathtaking those views are for you. Good on you for including the kids, too!

  2. “Appreciation Depreciation” is a good word for it. I see it in us, we bought a house bordering a woods for the view a few years back. How often do I look at the woods these days? Every so often I remember too but not as often as I did up front. Also thinking to all the friends I’ve visited over the years who if not for me visiting would not have seen some national treasure in their backyard. We too plan to go mobile in retirement, though with the approach of keeping a home base for certain times of year. (We have kid and hopefully much later grand kids to visit with. ). Think something like visit Europe, buy cheap rev and car, and bum along for 6 months. Sell the vehicles after complete. Then out west comes next. Rinse lather repeat.

  3. I’m the same way, I suppose most folks are. But the other thing I noticed is that when we know we are going to only be in a location for only a certain amount of time, we try to cram in everything we want to do and make the most of it. For example, when we lived in SF for a short period of time, we were doing things every evening and weekend. Now that we are in Charlotte and we know it is going to be more of a long term stay, we are taking part of the local activities at a much slower pace. So by being mobile and moving around more frequently, I think you are naturally encouraged to take it all in at each stop.

    • Steve says:

      That’s true, too! If our time is limited, we do very often try to do as much as possible where, by the end of the “vacation”, we actually need some rest and relaxation. Happens to all of us, I’m sure!

  4. I think this is part of why we make the trek up to my parents’ cottage on the weekends. It’s so wonderful to get out and explore. We are stationary, but we live by a river, lakes, and more miles of hiking and biking that I could ever exhaust. I definitely get wanderlust when I see blog posts and photos like these (!!!!!!), but I know that our jobs have us pretty well rooted August-May.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Penny. That definitely sounds like a good plan…getting out and about at least every now and then helps to keep us fresh and active. More hiking and biking trails than you could ever exhaust…that sounds great! πŸ™‚

  5. Appreciation depreciation is definitely a natural tendency. I live in DC where there is an abundance of free museums and it is amazing how many people have lived here for a decade and either have not gone to some of the museums or have not gone in 9 or 10 years. It’s great that you were able to recognize that tendency and design a life that allows you to avoid it!

    • Steve says:

      Yup! We lived in the D.C. area for 10 non-consecutive years and know exactly what you mean. We did go to a few museums, and even watched the D.C. fireworks show on a couple of occasions. Definitely a lot to see there, though.

  6. I can definitely see the attraction. Why choose just one place to live when you can live every place?

    You’ve got the travel bug! Some people catch it, some people don’t, but you are bound to have fun.either way!

    Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen there is no cure! Traveling and seeing the world just ‘feeds’ the ‘bug’. The itch to move on won’t go away… But there’s nothing wrong with being a traveler for the rest of your days!

    Love that night-time shot of the lake BTW!

    • Steve says:

      I definitely do have the travel bug. I like the idea of our yard changing every couple of weeks…to go where we want to go and be able to stay there for as long as we like. You’re right, there’s no cure…other than to do it until you grow tired of moving around. Only time will tell how long that will take for us. πŸ™‚

  7. Dude, you’re a vagabond, and that’s awesome. You’ll have more adventures in a given year than many people will have in a lifetime. Take your wanderlust and roll with it!


  8. I don’t know if we could go totally mobile – we actually worked into that direction once with the plans of living on a boat but it didn’t play out well. We do seem to have some gypsy in us though because we’ve never lived anywhere longer than seven years. And our current goal we’re working toward is to be able to pick a different city every year (if we wanted) and live there. New York. Boston. Colorado Springs. England. Paris. Etc.

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, going totally mobile definitely isn’t for everyone. We could never do the boat thing, at least not for an extended period of time. It’s way too costly and, quite frankly, that’s just not for us anyway. But for those who enjoy it, that’s cool! Definitely a unique lifestyle, no doubt.

      I like your idea, Brad. Good luck!

  9. Mr. PIE says:

    Despite our plans to move to our mountain home in two years, It won’t stop us traveling. In fact, with more time on our hands and family and friends based in the UK, we intend to be seeing them a lot and using that base as a springboard to visiting more countries across Europe. Vacations in years gone by to the Greek Isles, wine country of Burgundy and lakes of Northern Italy only serve as a reminder to go back and explore much more.

    Despite originating from the UK, there is an awful lot of the smal island (including coastal Northern Ireland) we have not seen. Again , an opportunity to roam with help from some low cost board and lodging…..hopefully πŸ˜€

    • Steve says:

      Amen to that, Mr. PIE. No stationary home should keep us from traveling if that’s what we truly want to do. I understand how easy it is to travel around Europe once you’re already there, so a springboard in the UK definitely sounds like a smart idea. Enjoy!

  10. I think you nailed it.

    We too spent some time in the mountains recently – Park City, Utah. And we’ve rented houses in Durango and even considered moving there. But I too question whether what we experience on vacation for a limited time would fade if we lived there permanently.

    Same with the ocean. I love the beach. But I have friends who live not 2 minutes from the ocean and never make the effort to actually walk across the street to enjoy it. I would like to think that wouldn’t be us, but I’m afraid it just might.

    Great pics, btw.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Financial Slacker. Yeah, I think this probably happens to most of us over time. Our environment just becomes part of the routine after a while. That doesn’t mean we don’t necessarily enjoy *ANY* of it, but it definitely has a tendency to wane. When it does, time to move on? Maybe! πŸ™‚

  11. I’m going to tough love you a little bit today, Steve. πŸ˜‰ Having lived in the mountains for five years now, I will tell you that I appreciate them more now than I did when we first moved here, and I think Mr. ONL would say the same. The reason: We make a conscious effort to appreciate what’s around us and to focus on gratitude. It would be easy to let any place stop impressing us, just as it will be easy for you to stop appreciating the full entirety of what you’re able to experience on the road, if you let that happen. Or you can choose to be appreciative, and that makes all the difference. If you moved to the mountains or the beach and consciously chose to stay in a mindset of gratitude, I bet it would all get more beautiful to you over time, not less. πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      I think it’s awesome to be able to say that your appreciation for where you live has increased, not decreased. Apparently, not many people can say that, me included. I’ve tried, though. I’ve tried to notice my surroundings more. To take things slower and look around. It works for a little while, but eventually the routine gets going once again and I lose sight of it all.

      More power to you for figuring out a way to increase your appreciation! Jealous! πŸ™‚

  12. Lady Locust says:

    Interesting. I totally get it, but I’ve lived at our river’s edge, mountain home for nearly 16 years and though as you say, I mow the lawn, paint the door, etc. there are times I just stop and watch the water flow by or the clouds among the tree-tops because it’s just that beautiful. I do like to travel, but also like to know where home is as that’s where I feel grounded. Maybe part of the reason is because I still have to leave home every day to go to work! Ha, you might just be forewarning me as to what’s to come:)

    • Steve says:

      Definitely sounds like you’ve found a way to appreciate where you live even after 16 years of living there. We haven’t lived in one place for more than 6 or 7 years in my life, so it’s tough to imagine living in one place that long! πŸ™‚

  13. Tawcan says:

    Love that you’re living the dream and having adventures everywhere. We hope to join you soon but with two kids along with us. πŸ˜€

    • Steve says:

      Lucky kids! They will easily be more well rounded and appreciative of the country they live in than anyone else their age. Good decision, and we’ll look for ya!

  14. Appreciation depreciation, two novel words that I haven’t heard of coined together like that! Right now, I’m so focused on reaching financial independence (a big goal) that I don’t really appreciate or notice the small things in life, like the environment. I don’t mind that my life is a routine right now because it’s a routine that’s letting me progress and move forward, I might change my mind 6 months out but that’s where I stand currently!

    I love watching the green scenery and listening to the oceans so I want to be able to do that in the future. Breathing in clean air.. always a treat!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, Finance Solver. Understood on focusing on reaching your goal. It can be tough to stop and appreciate some of the smaller things in life along the way, no doubt. And I agree, breathing in clean air is always a welcome treat! πŸ™‚

  15. I 100% agree with wanting to experience everything! ^_^

    For us, we might have some long-term “settle-down” home, but it would have to be near a city. There are enough random things going on to keep us interested, at least for now. With the great outdoors, it feels like it’s easier to get bored. There are a limited number of trails or mountains to explore, a limited number of activities…at least with a city there are always different things going on – art, festivals, food – I love it all!

  16. I’m with you here, Steve. I don’t think I can imagine settling down anywhere for more than a few years. I love the chance to get to know a place, but once I feel too comfortable and the routine gets old, I’m ready to go off to somewhere new. Because of this, the military lifestyle works well. Once we’re both out, who knows what we’ll do.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment DTG. Yup, routines quickly get old with me as well…I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but we’re gonna roll with it. πŸ™‚

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