• sparkfireswan

A&A 2019 Nomadic Year End Review

End of Week #31

Jamaica Beach RV Resort, Galveston TX

Miles traveled since last week's post = 0

Total miles traveled to date = 4,884 with trailer

The end of the year is here! Can you believe it?!

Christmas came and went, and really didn't FULLY feel like Christmas for us at all. But we still enjoyed ourselves, Adam made a BOMB dinner (even better than Thanksgiving), we video called with loved ones, and hung out at the RV social mixer. It was a beautiful day here and we were merry and bright the whole week through.

And then just like that it's the LAST blog post of the year, (and possibly one of the LAST blog posts on my current WordPress domain too!) I'm writing today's update from my 'front yard', sitting outside and soaking up some sun today under the palm tree. There is a lot of commotion here this week, with people leaving and coming in, people outside washing trailers, having fun outside, and enjoying the activities here at Jamaica Beach.

Wednesday is the day - the day we start moving again! We will be traveling for about the first month and a half of the new year (although our first 2 weeks will be in one place). Then we will plan to take another month of stillness in Arizona, before heading out again for another handful of MONTHS. I hope to plan another month 'break' in around June-July time frame, because boy oh boy it's going to be a busy year for A&A! (And Roscoe & Rahja too!)

With the year closing out I hope that every single one of you has a very happy New Year's and spends it however best suits you! We will definitely be missing our friends back home over New Years and look forward to some calls and celebrations to welcome in the 2020 decade.

In typical Spark Fire Swan fashion, it's time to wrap up the year with a review - stats and accomplishments, highlights, lessons, themes, and everything the year taught me in a nutshell.

A&A 2019 Nomadic Year End Review

In a lot of ways, I'm struggling for the right words to sum up what has been the past year of my life. It has undoubtedly been the best year there ever was, but it also hasn't been without its own challenges and lessons too.

The last 7-8 months of 2019 has been made up of 4,884 miles, 9 states, 11 National Parks, 6 National Monuments, 7 (or more) State Parks, and countless other mountain ranges, beaches, flatlands, prairielands, deserts, and sand dunes across the wild west. We have stayed at 30 different camping spots over the course of 31 weeks, used 17+ tanks of propane, explored 34 different hikes, and we are still going strong as ever!

Considering we spent just a bit more than half the year traveling in 2019, it will be very exciting to see what kind of wanderlust and experiences the whole year of 2020 brings us.

Personally & In Relationships

This year has taken all of my relationships to levels I would have never expected them to go to - including the one with myself. From having to report to the CEO of a Credit Union and let him know I was quitting to travel full-time, to having to move most all of my friendships and interactions with family to the digital world for most of the year, this has surely been a time of tests and challenges when it comes to relationships of all kinds. I've learned more about myself and what I want, and what I'm willing to do to get there. I've grown a lot stronger mentally and spiritually and have learned a lot about what it means to step outside of my own fear and comfort zone.

Looking back on the year, there were so many personal instances that helped me evolve further in my relationships. One big one was having to tell my own parents, and grandparents, and all my other family members that I was leaving the state. To tell them that I decided to try living life differently. That I wanted more. Halfway through the year I also said goodbye to my 20's and turned 30 years old, which is just another number sure, but it still had a lot of meaning and impact on me. And then this fall I started an online business and invested in myself and the future life I want to live - scary and exciting and totally freeing too!

In terms of A&A, I think this year has been the most wild ride we could ever imagine for our relationship with each other. We went from working opposite schedules and mostly only spending a few nights a week together, to spending time with one another 24/7, full-time. This journey has pulled us closer, showed us new levels of one another that we have never experienced before, and allowed us to grow and develop as a couple. PLUS WE GOT ENGAGED TOO. I still am shocked at how Adam pulled off the greatest surprise at our 'See You Later' party earlier this summer, and that moment took our relationship even further!

As we continue life on the road, of course some of our closest and most personal relationships with friends and family suffer a bit - we aren't there for the holidays, the birthdays, the hardships, and the fun adventurous moments. We aren't there to meet up for dinner or drinks, or to hang out and watch football. And don't get me wrong, it's been super hard on us. But we also know that it would have been even harder to not pursue this life, this idea, this plan, just because we didn't want to miss out on things at home. One way or another we would have missed out on something and it has been really important to us to seize life and make the most of it too!

PLUS, in some cases, we interact with our friends more now than we did before. Being "away" provides a greater sense of needing to stay updated and we have more time now to connect digitally than we did during our 9-5 grind back in MN!

Travel & New Experiences

In the grand scheme of things, we have really just begun - which is the craziest part to think of. We have ONLY gone to 9 states. We have ONLY had 30 campsites. I think by this time next year we could be around 20 NEW states and 50 NEW campsites, and that's sort of a hard concept to grasp right now. (It also makes me feel a combination of excitement and exhaustion at the same time, ha!) But it's all been so very worth it, so rewarding, and such a fulfilling experience. We have already seen things that I have only dreamed about seeing, and we have gone places I had thought it would take me YEARS to get to (if ever). Not to mention getting to spend so much quality time in places like Stone Lake, Edelweiss and in the Badlands - all with loved ones we never got to spend that much time with before.

To me, experiencing new places, outside of what you know, and where you grew up, is one of the most important things you can do. It changes you, going somewhere new. Seeing a new town, a new city, and how life operates there, it changes you. I think that traveling builds character and opens your mind to things you were never open to before. Life on the road teaches you patiences and flexibility. It teaches you how to be calm under pressure and fear, and how to problem solve when things don't go according to plan. It shows you how less is really more and has opened my mind up to the vast beauty that is my own country, when I have historically always been obsessed with only visiting other countries.

I'm so grateful for this time, and this opportunity to do what we are doing. It has already changed our life in so many ways and I know we will forever be molded by this experience. By this CHANCE we took.


It can be hard to see in what ways you transform from day to day, but looking back over time the ways in which you have grown become too obvious. The entire being of how we lived in what I keep calling our "old life" has been turned completely upside down into what is now our current reality. It goes all the way down to the little things, the superficial things - the hundreds of dollars spent on weekends to eat out, drink, and gamble. The endless online shopping I used to do. The same old, same old routines every single day of my life. All of the space and "stuff" that I didn't need and hardly ever used. All of it was shifted entirely into a different way of living.

When you change your whole world, your whole surroundings and your environment - it changes you on the inside too. I've talked about minimalism in another post before, but letting go of all the stuff that used to own me has been a really freeing experience. It has shed light on the things that truly matter the most and really shown me how little I actually need to be happy, joyful, and comfortable in life.

In fact, this entire experience has shown me that the typical standards I've always thought were needed to live a happy and stable life have been a lie. I don't need a big townhome in Woodbury to be happy. I don't need 2 closets full of clothes. I don't need a corporate job and the same old routine over and over again day in and day out. I don't need a fancy car, and a car payment, or the hippest clothes, products or "things". In fact I don't need any of the things I used to think I needed, but actually just tied me down.

I can make a home anywhere I go. All I need is what I have with me and who I have by my side. The rest is interchangeable. And at the end of the day the rest doesn't even matter as much as who you are experiencing life with and how you are choosing to experience it.

Abundance Mindset

I'll say it again and again and again... but LESS IS MORE. Abundance is all around me. Abundance is in the trees, the mountains, the ocean, and the sand. Abundance is in the smiles and laughs and simple pleasures like reading a book, or just sitting outside and letting the sun kiss my face.

This year has taught me that life is really simple, and in the past I was doing a lot of it wrong. I was searching for happiness in places that it was never going to appear. I was longing for more but not ultimately doing anything about it. I was buying things sometimes just because I could, and I may have had a lot of stuff but most of it was useless and just taking up energetic space that could have been put to better use. In a lot of ways the abundance I thought I used to have was blocking me from the abundance I was really trying to create.

Love and abundance surround me