Jim Nelson and René Agredano are different. They aren’t waiting for retirement to get out and see the country. They are a young married couple (he’s 40; she’s 38) off on a yearlong adventure, traveling the nation’s back roads in an RV.
Before putting their careers on hold, the couple had what many would regard as an idyllic life, running a marketing communications and graphics business out of their 100-year-old home in the coastal town of Eureka, California. But they were putting in 12-hour workdays and getting burned out. When their dog, Jerry, was diagnosed with bone cancer and had a leg amputated, it hit them like any serious illness of a family member, and they decided to reassess their lives.
“Neither one of us had seen much of the country, or taken any real time off,” Jim said. “We’d both been working full time since college, and never stopped. Even though we were nowhere near retirement age, we agreed that if we didn’t take some time to find our true calling, life would just pass us by.”
So the couple sold their business and home, got rid of most of their possessions, and bought a 2006 Dodge Ram diesel pickup truck and a new 24-foot Arctic Fox fifth wheel.
Business and Pleasure
What makes their cross-country odyssey unusual is that they are also making it into a business venture, using their skills as computer geeks to become RV bloggers on the Internet. At their Web site, www.liveworkdream.com, you can follow their trip as they post new entries nearly every day, supplemented with photos and video. You’ll also find maps of their journey, lists of RVing resources, a soundtrack page with lyrics to classic road trip tunes, RV books and other selected items sold through amazon.com, and ads from Google. The site documents the couple’s journey, but also is intended to share ideas with others planning sabbaticals or similar life changes.
The couple has another Web site, www.agreda.com, where they promote other enterprises, including a service to help people compose digital scrapbooks. And their dog, Jerry, has his own blog at tripawds.com, a Web site they set up to assist pet owners coping with canine cancer.
These Internet marketing and advertising efforts aren’t yielding much income at this point, they say, but it’s possible that the blogs could grow to support a full-time life on the road. If that doesn’t work out, they will have to buy a business or find some other way to earn a living. Meanwhile, Jim and René and their three-legged dog are getting a great look at the whole country so they can see where they might like to settle down and what occupations they might pursue.
After picking up their fifth wheel in Portland, Oregon, they set out in early June from Eureka, traveling southeast through Nevada to Arizona, then northward past Mt. Rushmore to Minnesota and east to Pennsylvania, where I caught up with them by telephone.
Jim said the most surprising thing so far on their trip was how easily they adapted to full-time RVing, even though they had practically no experience as RVers. Their fifth wheel has worked well for them and is so comfortable that they have abandoned their plan to spend occasional nights at a hotel.
They have mostly stayed away from big cities and concentrated on small towns and the countryside. They figure they can always fly into a city and visit it, but they’ll never see the out-of-the-way places unless they do it on a road trip. René said her biggest surprise was how much she liked the Midwest. “I never thought I would like it,” she said. “It is so beautiful.”
Jim and René are running their truck on biodiesel wherever they can find it, and have installed a solar power system to increase their ability to camp without hookups. They bought an Internet satellite system for high-speed access, and the service has been much more reliable than their cell phones.
What they didn’t buy is a TV. At night, instead of watching TV, they are busy on the Internet, updating their Web sites. And if they want to watch a DVD, they can do it on their computer.
You can get a day-by-day account of their experiences at their Web site. It’s all there, from cafes where you can find good (and bad) biscuits and gravy to tips for full-time RVing.
Jim and René said they hope to inspire others of working age to follow their example and take a long break to see the country. “People should do things like this when they are young enough to really enjoy it to the fullest,” Jim said. Rene added: “If more people did this, we’d have happier, more balanced adults, and the country might be a better place for it.”
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