Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved the outdoors. Even when I was in my mother’s womb, my parents were hiking up mountains in California. The doctor told my parents not to go above 10,000 feet so they would turn to go back down when they thought they had reached that elevation.
I grew up in Lexington, MA which is about 15 miles northwest of Boston. We would take day trips to the beach and weekend trips to the mountains in New Hampshire. Despite my father struggling with his weight and type 2 diabetes for most of his life, he was still fairly active and would find a way to get us to the best scenic views on a mountain top or secluded beach. Before he died he said he was going to leave me a list of places he wanted his ashes spread, not because he cared where his ashes went, but because he wanted to make sure I went and saw those places. As I got older, I inherited that wish for sharing the beautiful views of nature with the people I love. I would always drag my friends up some treacherous and/or exhausting trail in search of a gorgeous scenic overlook at the end. They might curse me on the way up, but they were grateful in the end that I pushed them up that hill. I was grateful, not only for the beautiful scenery, but also because if I didn’t find that scenic overview, my friends might hate me.
Torn between my love of outdoors and my necessity to work, I always lived in a big city until now. I lived in D.C., New York, and Boston and then moved to Minneapolis thinking that it would be less hectic than the busy east coast cities. I found that it was more of the same, and I craved nature.
When I met Tim, we realized we both loved the outdoors and wanted to be closer to nature. First, we moved out of the city and to the suburbs with a big state park in our back yard. That helped for a little while, but the park got too small, the traffic too congested, and the winters too cold so we began to look south.
Tim had always spoken of the beautiful beaches he saw while he was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base so when we were looking for our next adventure, we looked around there and that’s when Tim found Dog Island. We had been to beaches around Tampa several times, but I had never been to any of the beaches around the Panhandle, but I trusted Tim since every beach he had taken me before was always amazing. When we began looking at houses on Dog Island, I was pregnant and afraid of mosquitos carrying Zika so he travelled down by himself and face timed me to show me the houses we had looked at online. I had so many reservations. You could only get to the island by boat or by air. There were no stores on the island. What if there was an emergency? How are we going to get the kids to school? I had a good job in Minnesota. What would I do for work? Tim had answers for all of them. We had a boat, so getting there wasn’t a problem. Going to the grocery store just means we get in the boat and go to town rather than the car. Tim could handle almost any first aid from his training in the military and as a personal trainer and there is a doctor on the island just down the road. Tim would take the kids to the bus stop every morning in the boat. What would be better than taking some time off to spend with our new baby and the other kids? Maybe they would keep me on and let me work remotely. We have this opportunity to live on this paradise island. How could I resist? So I took a leap of faith.
We made an offer on a house and put our house in Minnesota on the market. We had what felt like a million showings of our house. With 4 kids and a newborn, keeping the house showing ready was not easy or fun for anyone. We finally sold the house and I gave notice at my job. It felt very scary having worked since I was a teenager. We also sold a large majority of our belongings. It felt liberating to get rid of all that stuff. It makes you realize how much you really didn’t need it. It was also nice to have some extra cash on hand.
So we fit what was left of our belongings from our five bedroom house into a trailer and a car topper and made our way down to Florida.