Our Story

Our Story

Our Story, like some, has two different versions.  Shannon’s version and Ben’s version.  Enjoy reading both!

Shannon’s Version

It’s been an interesting journey, this life.  Full of ups and downs…and ‘all arounds’.  And lots of traveling… in my mind, at least.  Not so much in reality.  Which is where I’ve always longed to travel:  in reality.

As a young girl, I remember I wanted to travel.  SO much.  I saw all the beauties in the movies, and my heart longed to go ‘there’.

Since I can remember, traveling has been one of my top 3 lifelong ‘goals’ (and desires).

I’ve traveled a fair amount – throughout my life.  But mostly to local places in my home state.  I never even flew on a plane until the age of 21 which is when I served as an LDS missionary on the beautiful East Coast.  Which I am ecstatic about visiting, again!  (And since then, I have only flown on one other round trip flight.)

Ben and I have been married for over a decade, and have done very little traveling…even in camping in our home state.  It seemed that all the other ‘life things’ took precedence over traveling.  School, work, finances, guilt…you name it, and it became a priority.

It seemed we never had the money to travel.  But, as I look back, I realize that I didn’t even give myself the opportunity to travel.  We had the money.  We (mostly I) just spent it on everything else, including loads of ‘stuff’.

Throughout our marriage, we have lived in 8 different places, and I’ve loved every move (the new, not necessarily the actual moving process).  I look forward to new places and new things.  Being able to discover.  It’s all exciting for me.

2 places of residence ago, we wanted to move.  But the market was such that we weren’t able to sell our house.  And so we stayed.  It was over 5 years by the time we (what felt like) finally moved.  It was such a hard situation for me.  I wanted to move, and was stuck.  And I didn’t enjoy the area very well, and just wanted out to a nicer area…not to mention, we owned a half of a duplex, and really wanted our own space.  Our own 4 walls.  Our own yard.  Our own energy.  AND, to be able to yell without worrying about other people hearing us… So, 2.5 plus years ago, we bought that house.

Single Family.  Quiet area.  Nice location.  Peaceful.  A place where we absolutely loved, and felt a ‘place’ with.  With a ward family that loved us.  A ward family where we felt comfortable.  A ward family we loved.  It was almost perfect.  AND, we could see ourselves living there for 5-10 years…which was unheard of in our previous abodes.

And then…disaster struck.  Well, at least emotional disaster.  (And, I should probably say disaster struck again.  This was not the only disaster between the 2 of us.)

Ben and I were having a really hard time in our relationship, and we opted to go see a marriage counselor – together.  And it was one of the best decisions we have made in our marriage.  It was such a huge help at that time.  And, because of the challenge we were having, and therefore going to a counselor, we are now owners of a motorhome.

During our time with our therapist, I briefly mentioned that I wanted to buy a motorhome and travel the country.  He asked “well, why don’t you?”  And I had no real answer for him.  I had plenty of ‘excuses’ and ‘reasons’, but no real answer.  But, if I’m being honest now, I have realized that I just didn’t feel I was worth it…or that God would be okay with it – since it was a ‘want’ and not a ‘supposed to’.

Me.  “We can’t afford our house AND traveling.”  His respone “so, sell your house.”  My reply “I can’t do that.  I love my house too much.”  After our back and forth – and me giving my lame excuses, it made me ponder.  A lot.  The possibility of traveling being our reality.

He shared something with us, and I will likely remember it for the rest of my life.  He said “Life is about experiences.”  And, he is right.  Experiences of becoming who we are meant to.  Experiences of being with those you love sharing in yourself with them.  Experiences of traveling.  ALL the experiences that lead to memories.  THOSE I get to keep with me forever.  The learning.  Not all the ‘stuff’ that I spent my money on, instead.  Experiences.

So, at that point we discussed and considered selling our home – which I LOVED, if you will remember – and I was devastated.  How would I ever find a home I loved as much?  Where would I put all my stuff?  What about all my friends here?

And we doddled.  And I worried.  And I doddled some more.  Procrastination and worry was pretty much the theme of my life for the 3+ months during/after that decision making process.

And then we decided that we wanted to do it… And since it was okay with God, that we would do it.

I mourned.  I cried.  A lot.  I questioned my sanity.  I wondered “who am I to do this?”  So much consternation inside.  It was actually ridiculous.  And totally expected.

I felt so sad with the idea of leaving my home.  I didn’t know if I could do it.  I thought I would miss my house SOOOOO much.  I worried that I would regret my decision.

Honestly?  There have been many times where I have continued to question my sanity, and have longed for the ‘normal’ trials of a ‘normal’ life to be back…but I have not once missed my house.  My favorite EVER house.  Not the massive master bedroom.  Not the huge jetted tub.  Not the gardens in the backyard.  Not the ward (though I have thought about, and missed my friends).  I am grateful for that tender mercy from Heaven.  Which has helped me so much in moving on, and not ‘sitting’ in the ‘loss’ of the decision and process of moving.

I learned through the procrastination in packing process that it is my STUFF I’m attached to, it isn’t my house.  I started feeling so much more peace and surety in my decision to ‘do this’ as I started removing the pictures from the walls.  Those ‘memories’ get to live on, in another home, in another place (if we ever decide to relocate.  Until then, storage is ‘the place’ they get to be.)

We had the luxury – when we moved into our last home – for Ben to be able to work remotely – from home.  Everything he does for his job is online.  So, as long as we had the internet (which was freaking awesome fiber internet – which we didn’t realize was as awesome as it was until we moved away from it) he could work.  So, he has been a full-time remote employee for the duration since then.

That ‘rule’ is still true.  As long as we have the internet, he can work.  From anywhere.  And, he will continue to work his typical schedule as we are out and about.  So nights and weekends will be our most exciting times.

So, I am looking forward to this time with my husband.  One on one.  Being able to continue to learn and grow in a completely different way.  And share in all the beautiful ‘experiences’ with him of seeing the beauties and people of this great country.

I give full credit to God in this process.  Who has led us in every step…holding our hand…guiding…loving…trusting us.  And I treasure His love.  That because He said “you can stay, or you can go, I can use you wherever you are” I can rest assured that I am doing His work.  Just by being me, and even in doing what I want to do, instead of living the rest of my life merely doing what I was “supposed” to do.

As I share my perspective of our experiences, I will continue to share bits and pieces of my life experiences up until this point.  But, for now, I feel this is a great start.  When God is involved, EVERY start is a great start.  Even with the frustrations along the way.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you.  And, also my testimony of God’s love.  He is SO good, and I acknowledge His hand in everything.  I’m so glad He knows ‘more’.

All my love and friendship,
Your Sister in Christ,
Shannon


Ben’s Version

This journey begins in August of 2016.  Before I get into what happened in August, you’ll need to understand a few things to set the story into perspective.

  1. We love God and Jesus Christ with all our hearts! Serving Them and being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is #1 in our lives.
  2. We don’t have any children right now. We’ve been married for almost 12 years and haven’t been blessed in that regard.  (Yes, we know all our options and have explored or research most and haven’t felt like it was time to execute any of them.)
  3. Shannon and I both love to travel and see new things, we are also home bodies. In those 12 years though, we haven’t visited many places.  The first time I ever went to Moab, Utah was May of 2016!
  4. I work from home. This has some pluses and minuses, trust me.  Technically, I can work anywhere, as long as I have an internet connection.
  5. In the summer of 2014, we moved to a beautiful rural city. We loved almost everything about living there!  (The only thing we didn’t like was to get to stores that we shopped at most often, we had to travel to 30+minutes!)  We loved the peace and quiet!  We loved our neighborhood and ward!  We loved our house!  We were very content!
  6. In the summer of 2015, we had an idea settle upon us to sell everything, buy a truck and 5th wheel and to travel the country. As we started looking at cost related to buying a truck and 5th wheel, what we could make from selling the house, debts, income, all of it, we realized it wasn’t going to work.  Reality hit home, hard.  We were so disappointed.
  7. I was the Elder’s Quorum President in our ward. I loved our ward!  I loved my calling!  I loved the quorum!  (Learn about Quorum’s here: https://www.lds.org/topics/church-organization/how-the-church-is-organized)

Okay, so back to August of 2016.  We were meeting with a marriage counselor (yes, we have marriage challenges).  One of the things that came up that Shannon told him, was that she had always wanted to travel, and that we wanted to buy an rv and travel the country.  His question was “So why don’t you?”  That hit us both like a ton of bricks.  Why are we letting things hold us back?  Why are we stopping our dreams instead of finding a solution?  As we drove home that night, we discussed what happened and by the time we got home (his office was over an hour drive from our home), we had decided to do our plans from the year before and figure it out!

We spent time pondering and praying about it to see if God was even okay with it, or if staying was what He needed us to do.  God told us that we could go or we could stay.  He would use us either way.  Woot woot!  We decided to do it!

And so the journey began!

When we made the decision for the GO, it was the beginning of September.  We started looking at bumper pulls trailers as this seemed the most logical and the least expensive.  We looked at what was available on our local classifieds and probably have looked through pictures of at least 500 units.  We went and toured about 50.  We played with the numbers, talked to a couple of banks, started reading blogs, talked, looked, and talked some more.

By the end of September, we had found a brand new trailer that we really liked (not our favorite style, but it fit the towing capacity of our truck), we had found someone that wanted to buy our house and wanted us out by the end of October.  So, we started packing and selling some of our things.  We were super excited and busy!

Then, a week into October, things came to a screeching halt!  The family that was going to buy our house couldn’t get the financing that they needed.  So we put our brakes on and started slowing down a bit.  Also, as Shannon was thinking about living in the trailer, she decided she didn’t want to feel like she was camping every day, but wanted to feel stable like a home.  Even with the jacks down, trailers and fifth wheels tend to move and shift a little.  They aren’t solid.  So, we decided that we need to look into motor homes instead.  (There is much more to this part of the story, but I’ll save that for another time. 🙂 )

Toward the end of October, we had a realtor come to the house to give her clients a tour.  A couple of days later we got an offer from them and worked out a deal.  Yay!  The house was under contract again!

As we kept looking for a motorhome and were trying to sell our stuff and pack the rest and … and … and …  It was all VERY stressful. Something to note too, is that I am still working at this time and October/November is one of the busiest times that I have in my job.

So, pack and sell and pack and sell all through the month of November.  Then, in the first of December we closed on our house and it was sold!  Moving became the next challenge.  We still had quite a bit of stuff that we were going to be keeping.

The house was sold.  We were moved out.  Our stuff was in storage.  We were living with family.  Not a bad deal overall, but still has its challenges.

The next few weeks brought sorting our storage units, looking online for a motorhome, adjusting to living with other people, and Christmas.

Finding a motorhome was proving to be a big challenge.  After looking at a lot of ads and talking with people, we decided on some criteria that we wanted.  Diesel, washer and dryer (or at least hookups), queen bed, larger fridge, oven, angled sink, two slide-outs, two air conditioners, four seasons, and plenty of windows.  We really wanted the door to be in the middle of the coach instead of at the front, but finding a diesel with that is very difficult, not impossible, but difficult.

And then it happened.  We ended up finding one online that we really liked.  It was about 4 hours south from where we were living.  Shannon found it the day it was listed on our local classifieds page.  I reached out to the seller and was waiting a call back.  We decided to head to the bank to get a final per-approval done.  As we showed up at the bank, I received “the call”.  I sat and talked with the seller for about 20 minutes.   He was very forthcoming with information and telling me everything that he had done since owning the coach.  It was a great conversation and left me with a lot of hope.  I told him that I would talk with Shannon and let him know if we wanted to come and look at it.

We “slept” on the idea of it and tossed it about a bit and decided after Christmas to make a trip down to take a look.  A few days later we saw the coach for the first time in person.  Wow is the best word to describe it!  You don’t realize the size of a motorhome until you see it next to a house or something that gives you a perspective.  We toured through the coach, asked a lot of questions, and the seller told us everything he could think about it.  There was only one thing that the coach lacked that we wanted: an oven.  The microwave is a convection oven/microwave combination, but we really wanted a gas oven.  Other than that, everything was what we wanted.

We spent that night in a hotel and prayed about it.  God has been very willing to guide us in this process, but has also left a lot of decisions up to us.  Some of the guiding process has been us heading down one path (like looking at a trailer) and then being lead and inspired to head another direction.  With this decision, we felt like it was up to us.  This coach met almost all our criteria, so we decided to go with it.

The next day we went back to the seller’s house, did a final tour and made a deal with him.  We were super excited!  We headed back to our home (4 hours away) that night and I kept seeing motorhomes heading south and just got even more exited!

We then headed to the bank to get everything finalized.  We thought this process would only take a day or so.  That day or so turned into 2 weeks!  Patience hasn’t been the best thing for either of us, but we were sure being dealt shovelfuls of it!

Things went back and forth from our bank to theirs and back and forth again.  Finally, we got things sorted out and the check was on its way to their bank.  That ‘only’ took 4 days to arrive and then his bank claimed it would take another week to post the check and that he would be cleared of everything.  What!?!?!??!  I was on the phone with our bank, he was on the phone with his bank.  Our bank said that it was a certified check and that as far as they were concerned, the motorhome was ours.  His bank was saying that they had to wait for things to clear so that they weren’t responsible for the outstanding balance (if something didn’t work out).  Finally, he was able to get someone at his bank that actually knew what they were talking about and it was finalized.  We decided that we would head to pick it up that next Friday.

We arrived at the seller’s house to finish everything.  We walked through and he explained how things worked.  We pulled in the slides, raised the jacks, the seller pulled it out of his driveway, and away we went.

As a reminder, where we were living and where we bought our motorhome are about 4 hours apart.  I figured it would probably take 4 ½ to 5 hours to travel home since I hadn’t ever driven a motorhome.  The drive actually took us 6 hours!

The first part of the journey, between two cities, was insane!  The drive that normally takes 45 minutes, took us about an hour and 20 minutes!  About 10 minutes into the trip, cross winds picked up and started blowing us around.  The car Shannon was driving was also being pushed around.  At times we had to slow down to 45 MPH just to stay on the road!  Once we got to the next city, we had to pull over to recover.  I did a lot of deep breathing.  Once I was recovered, we headed out again.

The rest of the drive was mostly uneventful.  We had a little bit of snow, some foggy patches, needing to get diesel, needing some food, the heater for the driver wasn’t powerful enough to keep me warm, oh the usual, you know.  🙂  It was relief to get about 45 minutes out from our home, to finally have lights lining the freeway and to know that we were almost done with our first trip.

At 9 PM that night, we finally arrived at our family’s house with our NEW house!  It is a 2002 41′ Tiffin Allegro Bay, Diesel Pusher!  Their first words were “It’s a bus!”  Yes, yes it is.  Fourty one feet isn’t something you can ignore!  We gave them a tour and then parked it in their driveway.

The journey hasn’t ended there.  Since that date, we’ve been doing our fixes to it.  Cleaning it, packing it and getting it ready to live in.  Check out the rest of the blog for things that we’ve done and where we have been.

One of the hardest things for me in the whole journey so far has been leaving my calling as Elder’s Quorum President.  I have loved working with my presidency for the last almost two years.  I have loved working with the quorum.  I have loved working with my ward.  Making the decision to move and to decide to be released has been very hard for me.  The week that we were moving, my presidency and our wives were called to meet with the 1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency.  He expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the service that we had offered and extended the release.

This whole process has taught us that the Lord has his own timing.  Trusting in Him (even when things aren’t going as expected) is what He wants us to do.  From the very beginning, this process hasn’t gone the way we wanted.  We were expecting to be out of our house by October 31st, packed into a trailer (at that point) and heading off to the coast in early November.  Here we are now, the end of January, and we still haven’t finished all the fixes, or even packed up yet.  Trust the Lord.  Trust His timing.  Just trust.

Thank you for joining us on this journey!  I hope that God blesses you as He has us.

Love, Ben