Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Roaming About in 2017 – Our Year in Review

The end of the year is a good time for reflection. In the past, Mark and I would do so by recalling the islands visited, the people met, or the countries explored. The last two years, we look back at the house sits we fulfilled; new places we discovered in the US and animals we took care of. To give this review of 2017 a bit more depth, I am combining Donna’s and Peta’s idea of breaking the post down in months and Janis’ end-of-the-year focus by incorporating what I am grateful for.

January 2017 – Hospitality of others

In the beginning of the year, Mark and I finished a three-month dog sit with Herk in the Sacramento area, California. After that, we faced a short gap between house sits. Thanks to the home owner, who let us stay a few extra days, and a blogging friend offering up her guest room, we did not become homeless. Friends happily hosted us at other times during the month as well, keeping our accommodation free. During our 2+ years of house and pet sitting, Mark and I never paid for a hotel room.

February 2017 – The warmth of Southern California

Mark and I lived and traveled in the tropics for over a decade, before moving (back) to the US. Our first winter, house sitting, was spent in New England. While it was a mild one, we vowed to do better in the future. We drove across the country to accommodate our warm-blooded bodies and ended up in Northern California. That happened in October 2016. Better, for sure, but still a tad chilly. And wet. The silver lining about that episode was that the Californian drought was finally over.  To warm up, we jumped on the chance of a three-week house sit in Costa Mesa, Southern California, with Jaxx. While often foggy, the sunny, blue-sky days were embraced as no other!

March 2017 – The company of a well-behaved, sweet dog

Our two-month house sit in Sebastopol, Northern California, in the spring of 2017 will forever remain one of our favorites. Not only was the house artistic and comfy and the area very desirable, but our temporary dog, Lola, stole our hearts. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent with this spunky, sweet, soft, smart and adorable creature. Asked back by the owners to take care of her and their home again this coming spring, we declined. Our fond memories of Lola made it a tough decision.

April 2017 – Sharing our adventures with family

My cousin Griet and her husband Wim used to visit us frequently on our sailboat in the tropics. They loved their vacations in the Caribbean and South Pacific, and we loved our time with them. What would they do now, after we sold Irie? Come visit us in the US, of course. Being with family members we call friends, and sharing sights, views, experiences, meals, drinks and conversations together is something that makes me very happy.

Yosemite NP

May 2017 – A home country

Everybody has a home country, right? Why would I be grateful for mine? Well, if you have been roaming about for 15 years, it is nice to return to some familiarity – family, old-time friends, the house you grew up in. As my parents are planning to move in the near future (and I will really end up “on the street”), my trip to Belgium last spring was extra busy and emotional. I needed to “get rid” of most of my belongings. All that remains are my photo albums, souvenirs from 25 years of international travel and diaries. Any takers with extra storage? 😊 My childhood home might disappear, but my native country and family will always be there.

June 2017 – A short break (in Budapest)

Whenever I mention that Mark and I have never been on a real vacation – you know, the kind where you prepare and plan for a holiday in an exotic location, look forward to it, pack your bags with sun, fun and adventure in mind, jump on a plane together and land in a new place full of anticipation with no worries whatsoever – people look at me in disbelief. We haven’t even been on a honeymoon yet, after ten years of marriage. Believe me, living on the road or the water is not the same. The reason traditional vacations have been non-existent for us? Running our own business and not being able/willing to spend a lot of money on travel. That being said, we came pretty close to a break without worries in June, when we took a city trip to Budapest, Hungary. It was nice!

July 2017 – A camper!

The biggest change in our current lives has been purchasing Zesty, the camper van, in Arkansas. We picked him up after an arduous Amtrak train ride and became the proud owners of a home on wheels. The practical and promising facts of RV ownership: no worries about gaps between house sits anymore, and this is the first step to a new long-term adventure whenever the time is right.

August 2017 – Discovering a new state

In the middle of August, we took care of a home without pets for a month in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Exploring this fascinating new-to-us state every weekend was intriguing, satisfying and exercise-rich. If it fits in our plans (the near future will hopefully tell), we’d love to return for a two-month sit this spring.

September 2017 – Mobility

With our focus on attempting to not be cold in winter, Mark and I totally underestimated fall. While usually a very enjoyable season in Colorado, the autumn of 2017 brought floods of rain, heaps of snow and freezing temperatures. Luckily, we knew it was only temporarily. Zesty, while unexpectedly needing to be winterized, would bring us to warmer climes after a month.

October 2017 – Real travel and adventure

Our 12-day trip through some of Utah’s national parks in October was the highlight of my year. This is what I live for: travel and discovery; nature, beauty and freedom.  The photos of my blog post about that trip speak volumes. Let’s hope 2018 will bring more of that. While a house and pet setting lifestyle might sound adventurous, for us, it is about as mellow and settled as we have lived in… forever. We do enjoy it immensely, but are getting itchy feet again.

November 2017 – A warm home base

November in San Diego, California. We succeeded in securing a mild-weather winter sit for three months. Time to unwind, be comfortable, explore some of the city’s highlights and write. It was a productive and satisfying month. If only we could go back to it…

December 2017 – Flexibility

The last month of the year turned out to be quite turbulent. A family health emergency had us worried, stressed, frustrated, helpless and perplexed at what to do. Plans came, went, and changed over the holiday season, resulting last-minute in a wonderful Christmas Day with friends and a long weekend trip to the desert to welcome 2018. Hurrah for flexibility!

The New Year, unfortunately, starts with a trip back East to take care of Mark’s parents. His mom had a stroke and surgery, and will hopefully be on the road to recovery soon. Pleasant temperatures are exchanged for frigidity – outside, and inside the hospital.

Mark and I wish you all a happy, inspiring, active, adventurous, loving, cozy and – most importantly – a healthy 2018!!

50 Comments

  1. www.retirementreflections.com

    January 4, 2018 at 10:17

    Travel, discovery; nature, beauty and freedom…this post says it all!
    Sending warm wishes to Mark’s mom for a full and speedy recovery!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about Mark’s mom! As hubs and I have often said, “Sometimes, growing up sucks!” There’s just no way around it. But it speaks very highly of you both that you are rushing to her aid. One of my universal truths has always been, “You can judge a man’s character by the way he treats his mother!” In any case, your year looked amazing, and I’m sure that eventually, 2018 will be just as amazing for you both! Best wishes and safe travels! ~ Lynn

    • Thank you so much, Lynn. I actually have to grow up a bit more and stop the whining. Aging and ailing parents are part of life and there is never a good time to be confronted with that. But, we love our family, of course, and it is only normal to be there for them when needed. 2018 can only get better from here on out, right? I love your universal truth and am glad to be married to such a man. 🙂

  3. It has been an amazing year Liesbet and there is so much to be grateful for. Our thoughts are with you, Mark and all the family and we wish Mark’s mum a full recovery with all the help and care she needs 💜

    • Thank you so much, Xenia. she is in many people’s mind right now. Let’s hope there is some positive news when I get there this weekend.

  4. Given your life less ordinary, I can’t imagine a better format for reflecting on 2017 than the one you have chosen based on Donna, Peta and Janis’s posts.
    I’m keen to hear where you itchy feet are going to take you in the future, Liesbet.
    Best to you and Mark for a wonderful 2018, and best to Mark’s mom for a speedy and full recovery.

    • Thanks, Karen, for the compliment and the well wishes. We will probably remain in North America, but where specifically will be determined in time. 🙂

  5. Victoria Marie Lees

    January 4, 2018 at 13:16

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Lucky you, Liesbet! I just posted a blog post on Camping with Five Kids about Yosemite National Park. You can access it here, if you like: http://campingwithfivekids.blogspot.com

    Utah is beautiful as well, with all its arches and colorful sandstone, plateaus and canyons. You really have an interesting life, Liesbet. I’m praying for Mark’s mother. I hope she has a speedy recovery. It’s scary. All best to you in 2018.

    • We love Yosemite NP – I’ll check out your post when sitting at the airport tomorrow! Utah remains our favorite state to visit so far. 🙂

      Thanks for the wishes and the thoughts, Victoria! And, I’ll be in touch about exchanging parts of our memoir manuscript later in February.

  6. Looks like you had an amazing 2017, Liesbet. Wishing you and Mark a healthy and happy New Year, and Marks’ mom a speedy and full recovery.

    • Thanks for the wishes, Natalie. Wishing you a bunch of exciting and rewarding travel adventures for 2018! Enjoy the car-free life. We have been doing really well here in San Diego. Just LOVE being able to walk everywhere. 🙂

  7. I know what you mean about your lifestyle versus a real vacation, but you sure got around in 2017! So sorry that this year is starting with a less-than-ideal trip, and I hope Mark’s mom recovers quickly and well. When I read through your 2017, it was hard to believe I’ve only learned about all these places and adventures this year; it seems like you did several years of stuff in there! I always look forward to seeing where you roam next, so you know I’ll stay tuned!

    • Glad you understand the difference between a traveling lifestyle and a vacation, Lexie. Not many people do. 🙂 I hope we will be able to meet in 2018 somehow, when we are both on a road trip. I”m sure we will have a lot to talk about. About the present, and the past, which includes me being a full-time nomad since 2003, traveling by road and ocean…

  8. I’m sure Mark’s family is relieved to have you and Mark able to travel to help and support them. I hope Mom has a smooth recovery.
    So many of these photos I look at and think – They did that in March? April? It seems like last month. How time flies!

    • Time sure does fly! I actually had the same feeling when I was writing about our house sits in September and October. It totally feels like yesterday. Where is all that precious time going?? It’s nice to sit still once in a while as I’m sure you guys understand being in Vero Beach right now. It is the only time when some writing and work focus can be done. Have a productive and successful 2018, Lucy (and Matt)!!

  9. What a year! That’s for taking us along for the ride, Liesbet. I’m so sorry to hear about Mark’s mother…prayers for here and your family.

  10. What a magnificent year you’ve had. I am often telling the people I meet on the road that long to become perpetual nomads about your chosen lifestyle. I hand out your blog url A LOT. You’ve really had an amazing transition from sea to land. I am pleased to say that I remember all of your stories in 2017…up until December. I missed December and did not know until reading this that Mark’s mother had a stroke. I am so sorry to hear this news and wishing her a full recovery. My dad had a pretty full-on stroke back in the 90s but recovered using a mix of traditional and alternative therapies, much to the surprise of his medical team. He’s in his 80s now and still working. Sending healing vibes and warmth to carry with you back East.

    • There is a life after long-term cruising, I believe, and one that does not involve a cubicle. 🙂 I should send you some Roaming About-cards, Lisa, if you are ever in civilization long enough. Thanks for the ongoing support and sharing our lifestyle. BTW, I talk about you a lot, too. Most recently to Terri and Janis with who I went to lunch with here in San Diego a couple of days ago.

      That’s awesome about your dad. And, you didn’t miss anything. After struggling with the news for three weeks, these were the first blogs I mentioned anything about it. Thanks for the vibes and warmth. I’ll need it tomorrow. 🙂

      • Oooo – do send cards! Then I can give those out when I’m bragging To nomad wannabes about ‘my cool friend’s Mark and Liesbet’. We will be back at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club for 10 days at the end of Jan if you want to send them there (attn SY Amandla). Stay warm. Hug to Mark. Wish I’d been there to lunch with you, Terri and Janis.

        • I’ll keep it in mind, Janis. Lots going on here, back east, but maybe I have enough of them with me to stick in an envelop and mail to Malaysia!! xxx

  11. You really had a remarkable year, Liesbet, and in talking to you at lunch yesterday, 2018 is going to rock and roll! Thanks for the shout out and it was so nice having you and Mark share our little home with us and getting to know you better! I know the feeling about the childhood home being sold, we are on the cusp of that now, as my step children now rent the house I grew up in. One day it will be sold, and that will see me grieving for that loss, but it has to happen. I hope all goes well as you travel tomorrow and stay positive!

  12. What an incredibly full year you both had. Thanks Liesbet on the mention re structuring the 2017 review month by month. Much appreciated and as well led me to Donna’s lovely post. We considered other formats for our review but in the end this one was easiest to ” divide and conquer” all the photos from a full year. We too had a health scare w one of my sons which miraculously turned out to be a misdiagnosis. But oh the stress.

    Hope 2018 is full of joy and adventure for you both. We will probably be traveling end of May and June in case you would like some time in our home in Sri Lanka!

    Peta

    • Sorry about the health scare, Peta! Crazy stuff. The same thing happened to Donna, as you might have gathered from her overview. I guess a misdiagnosis is still better than it being the correct diagnosis in those circumstances. Now, it makes more sense to me why you returned stateside twice in 2017. I hope all is well with your family!!

      Our near future is up in the air right now, because of Mark’s mom. Thanks for the home sitting offer. We’d love to visit Sri Lanka one day, but it would probably be a better fit on a longer trip to SE Asia, whenever we make it out there.Staying closer to “home” these months/years.

  13. I see someone else has said the same thing, but I couldn’t believe some of these events were so long ago as it seems I just read about them yesterday! Herk in particular always sticks in my mind. So sorry to read about Mark’s mum and I hope she recovers well. I’m very familiar with the worries over ageing parents and their health: there comes a point where roles cross over and you become the responsible adult. (Though in my case that can be tough, because sometimes i’m sure mum thinks I’m still 6!)

    • Herk is an interesting name for a dog, and his personality was unique as well. I could see people remembering him and his photos. 🙂 Time sure seems to fly quckly; the older we get, the faster it passes us by. Thanks for your understanding re: Mark’s mom. Tough times. I”m sorry you have to go through this as well, Anabel.

  14. Nice recap. Sorry to hear about Mark’s mom. Timing on these things is never convenient. Stay warm and sending well wishes!

    • You are so right about the timing never being convenient, Ingrid. Her being at facilities over the holidays caused quite the delay in progress being made. Thanks for the wishes. Staying warm is hard with temperatures between -10 and 32, so far.

  15. It’s such a great idea to do a yearly recap. You guys managed to pack so much into 12 months and saw so much and had such adorable critters to pet-sit. I can see why the National Parks in Utah were among your faves. I love that area. Such breathtaking and otherworldly scenery.

    Hope your mother-in-law is on the road to recovery. I know what a difficult and stressful time this must be for the both of you.

    • Thanks, Ellen. Your life sure changes when taking care of elderly parents takes priority… We are glad to be flexible, because of our lifestyle. Baby steps. Mark’s mom likes to paraphrase Sesame Street: “It takes patience to be a patient,” but is having a tough time in the hospital.

  16. I know that you are (probably as I type) winging your way back east to be with Mark and his family. Like we talked about at lunch, “Life is what happens when we are making other plans.” You have had an amazing year and, even though you aren’t officially on vacation when you housesit, your creative lifestyle has given you the opportunity to get up close and personal with many areas of this country. I’m sure you two will soon be back enjoying and exploring, but right now family comes first, as it should.

    I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon when you get back into town. Best of luck to your mother-in-law for a speedy and complete recovery. Hugs to you and Mark.

    • These are very sensible and kind words, Janis. They touch me. I have thought a lot about what you said over lunch and we are trying to make the best of the situation and the changed plans. So much in life has to do with your mindset. Working on it! 🙂 We’ll make sure to see you one more time before we finish the San Diego house sit on February 1st.

  17. An amazing year (and many amazing photos!). Best wishes to Mark’s mom xxx

  18. A bit of everything in your lives – except boredom. Sounds pretty good to me. I wish you and your families well for 2018.

    • Thank you, Hilary. Best wishes to you and yours as well for 2018, with a bunch of writing thrown in and, maybe, even a completed novel? The garden can wait, right? 🙂

  19. Wishing you a 2018 filled with adventure and exploration! It’s been wonderful seeing places through your house sitting perspective. Best of luck to you and Mark as you help with your mother-in-law’s recover.

    • Thanks a lot! It looks like you put a few adventures behind your belt as well in 2018. Keep enjoying the explorations, experiences, unique discoveries and the writing. Best wishes for the New Year!

  20. What an amazing year for you overall, but I’m very sorry to hear about Mark’s parents. Hope they are on the mend and everything gets better.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    • Thanks for the well wishes, JH! Doing what we can to help. They are very happy we are here, albeit temporarily. Crazy busy days, with shifted priorities. 🙂

  21. You’ve had an amazing year! All the best for the recovery of your mother-in-law. It is so hard when someone in our family is sick.

    • Thanks, Damyanti. A lot of people, and readers of my blog, seem to have gone through episodes of taking care of ailing parents. Well, now I understand how that feels. Another adventure, and hopefully one with a good ending!

  22. Thanks for sharing your wonderful travel year with us. Hoping Mark’s mother will be on the mend soon. And Happy New Year. 🙂

    • Slowly, but (hopefully) surely, she is finally on the long road to recovery, Debby. Thanks for the well wishes and let’s hope none of us have to worry about our health too much in 2018!!

  23. I’m so sorry to hear of Mark’s mum’s healthcare at the end of last year, Liesbet. I wish her a speedy recovery. However, your year is like no other that I know of. Full of adventure, natural beauty, and freedom. Long may it continue for you both.
    Belated Happy New Year.

    • Thanks for the wishes, Hugh. Baby steps on the road of recovery. Hoping to pick up our lives again in a couple of weeks, but not sure for how long, since we most likely will have to come back East to the cold and health care facilities before long. We are fortunate to be flexible. If only flying was cheaper and quicker. And, it was summer in New England. 🙂

  24. Liesbet, I always enjoy reading about your travelling lifestyle, so it was great to see the recap of your year. What an amazing, busy year!

    Glad to hear that you’re able to be there to support Mark’s Mom, and that she is beginning to recover.

    I am getting curious about the new adventures you have been hinting about.

    Jude

    • Another wandering mind and adventurous body understands my desires. Yay! 🙂 Thanks for reading about our mellow adventures in 2017, Jude. The new adventures have yet to take shape and will probably be delayed, but, at some point this year, we hope to hit the road full-time again and make good use of our Zesty. 🙂

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