Usually it is hard to pin down a beginning for most things, but our plans to start full-timing had a definite start in the spring of 2003 with a question.

But to understand the question, you need to understand that I am a dreamer. Sue is usually very tolerant as I bombard her with random ideas or half-conceived plans, the majority of which never see completion. It is just my way of tossing things out like seeds on the ground. And like seeds, sometimes these ideas take root.

On the day in question – or of the question, as it were – we were driving home in our blue Pontiac Aztek. I still remember the green fields of the Rockview prison land going by us on either side of the highway. The green of spring is always more memorable after a snowy winter like we had just finished. It is a time of year that is always fertile for change and new things can’t help but thrive. I had been mulling over my latest idea (probably some project for our house) when I asked Sue to tell me what one of her dreams was– regardless of money, time or other commitments we had.

Sue hardly had to take time to think before she said that ever since she was 18-years old, she dreamed of jumping in her car, traveling from place to place, and stopping to work for gas and food money before moving on. To be honest, I was a little surprised. We had been together for four years, and while we both enjoyed traveling, I never knew she had that wanderlust.

She was just as surprised when I said I had always wanted to do the same thing. To be fair, I had always imagined it would be walking from place to place (people who know about my experience with the Camino de Santiago won’t be surprised about that), but the size of the U.S. makes that a daunting task. Either way I have too much gypsy in my blood to make me want to live in one area too long.

So that is where we started - a random conversation in the car.

At the time, both of us were in successful, but unfulfilling, jobs, and were not too happy about it. The thought of leaving all of that behind was not a new one for us, but until then, none of the reasons to leave really felt right. While we did have commitments – mostly financial ones such as mortgage and car payments – there was nothing substantial keeping us in State College.

After doing a little research, we found out there were hundreds of thousands – if not more – people living our dream: traveling in RV’s and earning money as they went. True, there is a majority who are retired seniors, but the population under 60 is growing every day. So we made the decision to join their ranks and see what the country has to offer.

The path from that decision to actually setting off on our journey was not always smooth and didn’t always go according to our plans, but then, no journey worth making goes off without a hitch. And that is what we are on now. The journey of life is no longer metaphorical for us, but it still goes on one mile, one minute, and one memory at a time.


Phil Payne traveled the country with his wife Suzanne, their two cats and two dogs. After eight years on the road, they settled down at the Grand Canyon, but still go out camping in their motor home as much as they can.