DAN & LISA BROWN
“The coasts we’ve seen, now traveling between” – Always On Liberty
Restlessness, adventure and wanderlust tugged at these nomadic Coast Guard Veterans hearts and souls after hanging up their military uniforms.
BACKGROUND/BIO: We were a military family with 40 years combined service in the Coast Guard and accustomed to relocating often. Lisa hung up her Coast Guard uniform after nine years to raise our family in 1990, and Dan retired in 2010 with 30+ years.
Shortly after retiring from the military, Dan went to work a couple jobs but never found satisfaction, drive or discipline in them. A year and a half later, he was hired to serve in the Law Enforcement Department with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife processing and storing criminal evidence. Though he loved his job, seemingly Dan was asking for unpaid time off so we could go on motorcycle trips. We each had Harley Davidson Softails sitting in the garage. The trips started getting longer and more frequent. They were our getaway excuse to travel and to see America. We loved seeing parts of the country we’ve never been to but as soon as those trips began, they quickly ended leaving us wondering what was beyond those mountains or over the river when it was time to head back home. Our nomadic souls remained incomplete.
Then we sat one evening in late 2013, in our newly renovated five bedroom, three bathroom Kentucky home positioned perfectly in a manicured neighborhood community that people typically see on HGTV. We looked around at our newly painted walls, freshly-laid hand-scraped wood floors, customized kitchen complete with mahogany cabinets with seed glass doors and huge granite countertops. It was beautiful; a place where our families should gather for celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But that never happened. It was the typical “American Dream” but it wasn’t “our” dream. Though amazingly beautiful and putting countless hours in all the DIY’s to make it our dream home, it just wasn’t. To us, it was just a house. We’re not complaining but there wasn’t anything compelling for us to stay. There was something lacking. It seemed we were always busting our collective hind-ends to keep up with ‘everything house’; cleaning, vacuuming, weeding gardens, mowing, etc. that left us so tired or very little money to do anything else. It repeated itself like the movie Groundhog Day.
Before pulling the plug on the so-called “American Dream”, we phoned our son asking him, ‘in the event that we were to leave this earth, what would you do with our Kentucky home?’ You could guess we looking for validation or permission. His reply was quick, being an outdoors guy with his own nomadic military background, “you have a beautiful home but it’s not ‘my’ home. I’d sell it. It’s not where I grew up, graduated or have friends or family”. Those are the words we thought we’d hear and being totally honest with ourselves, were the words we longed to hear. His words took us to the edge of our nest to look beyond.
Now, our XGen son left the military life to settle down with his wife and lives in Minnesota. With our new life, we can go see them anytime we want and literally take our house with us. To us, it doesn’t get any better than that.
THE RIG: Since throwing our proverbial bowlines off over three years ago, we’re now in our second 5th wheel. Our first was a 44’ 5th wheel Toyhauler that housed our two Harley Davidson motorcycles when in transit. However, after a year of frustrating maintenance and logistical issues with our Harley’s, RV parking was a challenge. Additionally, the fact that we were always riding in places unknown left us re-evaluating how we wanted to see the Country. Eighteen months later, we sold our Harley Davidsons and traded our Toyhauler in for a 41’ Luxury 5th wheel with more practicality and living space, but we didn’t give up riding motorcycles. We now have two Yamaha XT225’s ‘Adventure Motorcycles’ (ADV’s) that we can off-road ride and/or slab ride (paved roads) so we get the best of both worlds. After modifications, we safely tow them on the back of our 5th wheel on an Idaho Tote.
PETS: When we decided to throw caution to the wind, sell it all and hit the road, there was no question that our two Maine Coon cats, Krissie (Tortie, age 9) and Kandi (Calico, age 7) were going to join us. Rehoming was absolutely out of the question. It was a rough start, as with any pet, but now they enjoy and embrace the ride. They love meeting new people, watching dogs walk their owners, sunning themselves on the back of the sofa and chairs or sitting at the screen door while sniffing the new air at our new destinations. Sometimes, we will put their little harnesses and leashes on them for a little outside time or in their cat tent to relax protected if we’re working on something outside.
CAMPING PRESENCE: For the past three years, we’ve parked in campgrounds, rv parks and resorts. We prefer small and quiet venues with less activity and pomp. We don’t need to be entertained with distractions and activities nor do we wish to pay for them. We are all about simple as long as it’s clean, big enough for our RV and friendly. We’ve have more of a ‘country mouse’ mentality. We, however, yearn for wide open spaces. Since our first boondocking experience this past January (2017), we are wanting more. We have almost completed our RV with solar so we can boondock more to experience living off the grid, be where animals roam, have amazing views and where we can get back to simplicity. However, we do need to be where we can get a WiFi signal to work (Lisa is a blogger and writer). We look for places where we can hike up to moderate-level trails, ride our ADV bikes and explore. We also enjoy rock finding, photography, observing wildlife and then, returning to our campfire and chairs to enjoy our 5:00 Somewhere’s and stargaze.
FULL-TIME EXPERIENCE: We put our home up on the market April 1, 2014. While Dan drove home to Pennsylvania to take care of family matters, Lisa and the girls (our nomad cats) moved into our toyhauler full-time. It was the last time we slept in our S&B (sticks and bricks home). Until our home went under contract, Dan continued to work at U.S. Fish & Wildlife in October. Since closing on our home, we’ve been full-time nomads looking for every mountain, every stream and river and every cool thing that 99% of society doesn’t get to see or experience. Today, our road map is a bunch of squiggly lines with no hard plans. We vie for places where the temps range from the 60’s to the 80’s.
NOTABLE BAD EXPERIENCE: We’ve had a few and most we don’t talk about. However, when we had Liberty 1 (Cyclone Toyhauler), we had a mishap with a cargo door and slide (the cargo door lost that fight!). But the one we look back and laugh about most is when we were parked at a state park in Kentucky. On the back of our toyhauler, we had an automatic awning that unfurled shading over the ramp deck and had arms that attached to the railings for stability. Lisa stayed back to work in Liberty while Dan had to drive to Lowes in the next town over. Out of nowhere, an unpredicted nasty spring storm unleashed 40-50mph straight-line winds with small hail and torrential rain. Lisa pulled in the two side awnings in time but because of her height, she couldn’t get that back awning arms unlatched so she could retract the awning in. Fast forward a few minutes after the storm started, Dan pulls into the campsite, runs in the RV and sees Lisa out there holding onto the awning in her pajamas soak and wet, hair blowing everywhere and screaming words that would make a salty sailor blush. Dan was trying desperately to unlatch but it wasn’t cooperating because of the wind so he relieves her by grabbing the awning and holding the awning down, praying it (AND US) weren’t going to be flipped over the roof of our RV. Five minutes later, the storm quit, sun was shining, birds came out tweeting and here we were, both soaked and started laughing hysterically. Since then, we are hyper-vigilant with our awnings.
TOP CAMPING SPOT: Though, we’ve only touched the surface of boondocking, we’ve still come to appreciate a good quality RV park or resort to enjoy full amenities (laundry, long showers, sewer, etc.). Our two favorites (because we can’t pick just one) are Wine Ridge RV Resort in Pahrump, Nevada…because they have wine…and a 4 star restaurant…and great staff and River’s Edge RV Park & Pizzeria (it was Josephine’s when we were there in summer of 2016) in North Fork, Idaho. Both were also near ADV trails! We very much enjoyed boondocking in Quartzsite, Arizona because we could unload our ADV motorcycles and go hit the trails, dry washes and mud puddles. We are nearing completion of our solar project, so we will be boondocking more in the middle of somewhere.
FAVORITE MOMENT: Lisa’s birthday this year (2017)…we found out our son and his wife are expecting our first grandchild this November. Can it get anymore favorite(r)? A very close up-to-that-level was the day we locked the gate behind us at the State Park in Kentucky when we finally hit the road late November in 2014. There is no greater feeling of freedom; hence why we named our coach(es) “LIBERTY”. And now, those both go hand in hand; we have the freedom to visit our son’s family anytime we want with our own home on wheels.
WHY SELL IT ALL AND GO ON THE ROAD: Because everything else is just stuff and clutter. It’s been said, ‘you can’t take the stuff with you but you surely can take the memories’. Everything else just collects dust and taxes. God made us to be nomadic and it’s not our place to argue. We both proudly served our Country for a combined total of 40 years and now it’s our time to enjoy the fruits of our labors. We hadn’t much opportunity for cross-country travel while serving in the Coast Guard because our busiest time was SAR (Search and Rescue) season when everyone else was on their own vacations. Our family budget didn’t allow vacations in addition to, we were full-time hockey parents while raising a family. So now, it is our time! We’ve surely earned it. We pushed ourselves out of the nest and now we’re sailing our Nation’s highways and byways in our landyacht!
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