A Trip of Firsts

Brian and Shannon Helicopter

If you asked us before we set out to predict the most memorable moments of our then-pending trip we’d likely have described the destinations we were particularly excited to visit. Three years later, we’d say the things we’ve done, rather than those we saw, are the ones that made the most lasting impressions.

That’s mostly because some of those things changed us in important ways. It would be clichéd to say that they expanded our horizons, so I won’t. What I will say is that when we pushed against our comfort zone we found that, time and again, it yielded. But it did more than just give way. It grew and created space for other things we had never previously considered. The more we pushed, the more became possible.

Life on the road, literally

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

In some ways, RVing is the most important of all our “firsts.” Without it, none of the rest would have ever happened. Moreover, it looms largest as a life altering-decision.

Prior to selling all of our belongings and moving into an RV permanently, we had never spent a single night in one. We never owned an RV before and had never driven anything like it. We had no idea what we were doing and all of our careful plans hinged on it working for us. It was a huge gamble; one that happily paid off.

Cracking Crawfish

Crawfish, Crawdads,

I’ve always been an adventurous eater. After all, everything I enjoy today I had to try for the first time at some point. A new first is just another opportunity to discover a new favorite. So when I heard about the “best boiled crawfish in New Orleans” I knew I had to give them a try. There was only one problem. I didn’t have the faintest clue how to eat these things.


Shannon Ziplining

Zipping along steel cables strung between trees high in the Berkshire Mountains was our first real taste of an adventure sport. Apparently it just whetted the appetite.

Mounting strangers

Custom Horse Saddle

A story about sharing drinks with strangers in an unfamiliar bar that leads to an invitation to accompany those strangers home and ends with our legs wrapped around a giant but gentle steed might be the stuff of bad erotica, but it also pretty accurately describes our first horseback riding experience.


Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, Belize

Crawling around through cramped spaces in the dusty dark is not something we ever imagined doing, let alone enjoying. Today we think it is the single best way to experience the world’s subterranean riches.

Snorkeling (with sharks)

Caye Caulker Snorkling

Sea creatures are among the things Shannon most fears in life. Swimming, face in the water, out to the depths of the ocean deliberately searching for scaly things never seemed to make it on her to-do list. Until we did it once, and then added sharks.

Biking down a 14,000-foot peak

Pikes Peak Bike Ride

There is one thing to be said about biking down Colorado’s Pikes Peak: it beats the hell out of biking up.

Whitewater Kayaking

Kayak Durango, Lower Animas River, CO

“Remembering our guide’s counter-intuitive instructions I tried to lean toward the rocks that conspired to capsize me. The water had other ideas, though. As I threw my weight against the high-side of the kayak, the current turned me completely around. The boulder threatening to tip my kayak was suddenly on my other side. Instead of using my weight against a capsize I found myself leaning into one.”

Flying high

“At 140 miles per hour, we cruised over the vast Kaibab National Forest in no time flat. Before we even had a chance to get used to the thrill of the helicopter ride, our pilot told us to ‘get ready.’ Suddenly, the forest speeding by beneath us ended and the entire world fell away. We were no longer flying, it seemed, but floating with the Grand Canyon stretching before us as far as we could see.”

And falling fast

Without even knowing or planning for it, all of the boundary pushing we did over the past three years led us to the moment when jumping out of an airplane was simply the next logical, um, leap.

What comes next? Your guess is as good as ours.


18 Comments on “A Trip of Firsts”

  1. Touring NH February 18, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    I think the greatest adventures in our lives start somewhere outside of our comfort zone. Kudos to you both for pushing the boundries!


    • Brian February 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Cheers to that.


    • Caroline and Rob gap travel February 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      Enjoying you blog. I think the greatest thing about travel is the changing perspectives which helps you to look at life from different angles, somehow making you a rounder person. Are you planning to continue life in an rv?


      • Touring NH February 20, 2013 at 7:28 am #

        That is the ultimate plan. We already have the rv, but need to wait a bit longer. My youngest is still in highschool and we haven’t quite figured out all the finances yet. Hopefully in the next 5 yers we will hit the road!


  2. John February 18, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Great videos, thank you for sharing your excellent adventures!


  3. f-stop mama February 18, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    The two of you and your blog is so inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing and helping me take a look at my life and how I can change it to live a fuller life.


  4. www.travelwithkevinandruth.com February 18, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    “Prior to selling all of our belongings and moving into an RV permanently, we had never spent a single night in one. We never owned an RV before and had never driven anything like it.”

    Too funny…we were exactly the same!


  5. katbandit February 18, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    you are an amazing couple..i could only dream what you are getting to live…enjoy every moment…to me collecting the memories are far more precious than collecting material things…


    • Brian February 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      We feel the same way: memories & experiences > things.


  6. Karen February 18, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Wow! Life’s not bad is it?! Woohoo!


  7. Susan Johnson February 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Way to go you two. You are an inspiration. I did fulltime for 2 years in the mid 90’s and am now planning to fulltime again. Seems that now it is taking more planning then it did then. Of course I was younger then. Cant wait to hit the road and hope to be ready in the next year or so . One of my 1sts in my rv was going up in a hot air balloon. I was selling stuff at a balloon festival in Colorado and one of the pilots wanted to know if I would trade her a couple of sarongs for a ride in the balloon. Of course I took that offer and the ride went on as I was also invited to a big party after that all the balloon owners went to at the end of the festival. What fun. I love how these things happen while you are travelling and open to adventure.


    • Brian February 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

      I’d be curious to know the differences you’re encountering between your two trips. When we started getting ready to go we were most surprised by how logistically difficult it was to walk away from our lives. Being younger and not caring about things like having health insurance or a place to vote would have made it easier, I imagine.


  8. Cat February 18, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Zip lining looks like sooo much fun! I wanted to do it in the Dominican this week but every time we went to sign up we got roped in for something else, or they didn’t have it available on the days I wanted to do it. On the bright side we can always do it here in the U.S.


    • Brian February 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      Yup, you can do it in lots of places now – although my preference, if we were to do it again, would be to go someplace cool, like maybe through the rain forests of Costa Rica.


      • Cat February 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

        Agreed! Costa Rica zip lining photos always look amazing… Gotta put it on the list of things to do!


  9. judlaw February 19, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    I’m itching to get back into the RV and taking off again. We travelled by air to Las Vegas recently though, and did the airplane/helicopter/boat tour of the Grand Canyon. Awesome isn’t it?


  10. Arizona girl February 20, 2013 at 3:14 am #

    What an amazing lot of adventures you guys have had!!!


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