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. 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
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. 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 in cactus 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
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?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.