The Seekers Cafe


I’m just going to put myself out there a bit. I do not enjoy blogging. I do not enjoy writing. I do, however, love sharing life with others. That’s where I have been since my last post almost 2 months ago. It has been beautiful, challenging, liberating, and sometimes stressful. But, we have been forever changed by the people we have lived alongside for the past 3 months on the road.

Posting about our comings-and-goings just would not have done justice to what has taken place this winter. Besides, it really has not been about places and sights lately. It’s been all about the people.

I want to share a little bit of my spiritual journey here today . Some of you know that I resigned my minister’s license and left the institutional church (IC) about 3 years ago and have been struggling to find something more authentic since doing so. It has been, and continues to be, a long hard struggle. Aside from losing several hundred friends in the process, the bigger challenge has been finding my way back to a place where I want to talk about my walk with God. You see, when you leave a system like the IC there is a period of “detox” that must occur in order to remove all of the filters that cloud every spiritual thought that comes through one’s brain. Detox might sound like a harsh word to describe the process of leaving a church; but, in fact, some of the things I allowed myself to believe and even preached were toxic TO ME. They certainly were not intended to be harmful; but with the baggage of negative thoughts I brought into the IC with me, the system within it became detrimental to my developing a authentic relationship with God. It wasn’t until I removed myself from the matrix of the IC and took the proverbial red pill that I could understand there is a better way to walk with God that makes sense. There is an easier way (and easy is okay—probably the hardest lesson to learn!). There is a lighter way. I am only now, after 3 years, beginning to take that way and not feel condemned for it. And I am discovering God there. I am discovering love there. I am discovering myself there; and so are many others.

After meeting many families on the road who seem to be on a similar journey as I, I decided to take a leap of faith and start a Facebook group (The Seekers Café) for us all. The aim is to have a safe place for us all to share our struggles in this journey of spiritual discovery. We have about 30 members in its first week. It’s not really about the numbers; but it is good to find that there are others (mostly fulltime traveling families) that are hungry for real fellowship with God and each other outside of the IC. I am not trying to create “a thing” out of this group, but rather prefer it be used as a tool to bring people together—nothing else.

Call it what you will, but I seemed to get the confirmation I needed to let me know I was on the right track with creating this group the day after creating it. I decided to listen to a podcast (The Life of a Pilgrim, Part 2) from The God Journey. I rarely listen to them (even though I love to), but felt led to do so that day. [If you are interested in getting a little more insight into what I was listening to and what I hope The Seekers Café becomes for people you should take the time and listen to this]. In the podcast, Wayne Jacobsen is interviewing an 89 yr old Scottsman who is sharing the story of his own journey and he begins to relay a story of his first outside-the-church experience of christian community. He began describing a people in Australia that lived in what he called “house trucks”. Of course, the title of my blog being “House Truckin’” I was intrigued. Basically, he was describing this nomadic group of families that traveled and shared life together intentionally and authentically. I was really struck at the coincidence of the topic and the words he used to describe the houses as I listened to it and considered the timing of it all. I concluded, maybe naively, that God may have had a hand in the seemingly arbitrary words my daughter spoke when she called our first motorhome a “house truck” 2 years ago. Oh, and before coming across this podcast, I almost went with the name The Pilgrims Cafe instead ;). Time will tell, but I am anticipating great things as I continue this journey with my family and share my life and spiritual journey with others.

FOTR and Beyond…

We spent the week of January 15 at Thousand Trails Orlando attending the annual Families On The Road (FOTR) rally. It’s an event designed to bring together other “unconventional” families living the nomadic lifestyle to share their journeys and make new friends. There were about 15 families encompassing about 100+ people and we had a memorable time meeting folks from all walks of life.

We are certain we have made lifetime friends with many of these people and I feel our lives are richer having spent time with all of them. Kylee made new friends (Ella and Rosalie) and Lisa and I have connected with a couple of families that plan to travel a bit together to continue sharing our stories, laughter, pain, food, love and adventure. It has been so enriching and joyous to connect with such genuine people…something our family has been hungry for ever since our exodus from the institutional church in 2008.

Here are some highlights of the people we met on our journey:

  • Rita and Pete: Our rally organizers, this family has been on the road for 4 years with their kids and are passionate about bringing together families on the road.
  • Jon and Jema: Originally from Minnesota, they have been on the road for a little over a year now as they work, roadschool their 4 children, and work on a art project inspired by their son Ethan‘s love of butterflies.
  • Pieter and Clementine: Originally from Holland, they travel with their 2 kids. Pieter is my hero because he has rigged his unit with a real pellet stove! Clementine gave birth to Lewis on Thanksgiving Day on the floor of their RV…by choice!
  • Bonnie and Murray: Canucks, but we love ’em anyway! They come to the warmer states to escape the Canadian winters. Bonnie served as fashionista extraordinaire when the girls went clothes shopping while Murray taught the kids valuable martial arts techniques.
  • Wendy and Matt: Traveling with their 3 kids they just finished a year on the road in a rented motorhome. Matt flies all over the country working on various business projects and meets up again with the family wherever they happen to be. Rumor has it they are now buying a Mobile Suites to travel indefinitely…or was it a catamaran to sail the seven seas 😉
  • Phil and Lisa: They too are snowbirds, traveling from Michigan when the frost hits. Their daughter Ella and Kylee played for hours on end.
  • Angela and Clint: Founders of Eco Womb. They drive a motorhome powered by “Peace, Love, and Veggie Grease”. That’s their bus in the picture. It was really informative to learn how they live a sustainable life on the road.
  • Kimber: A single mom and country star traveling with her 2 daughters, Kimber provided live entertainment for us. She had a #1 country song hit the Australian charts for 3 weeks in a row!

So, as you can see, we got to hang out with some pretty cool cats. We can’t wait to stay on the road with them all! The rally was only a 4 day event. We enjoyed each other so much that only today, 3 weeks later, did we part ways…with plans to meet up again in 2-3 weeks.

This. Is. Why. We. Are. On. The. Road. The People. The Adventure. The Stretching.

Next we are heading to Ft Desoto Park near Seminole FL to do some kayaking and visit with Lisa’s parents who have a winter place down here.

Disney World, Orlando, FL

Disney World was a good time! We really enjoyed watching Kylee as we strolled through the theme parks. We camped at Fort Wilderness inside the park. It was a tight squeeze getting backed into our site, but no damage was done. At $100/night I was expecting a little more, but it was nice being parked literally right at the bus stop so that we could get up and go quickly each morning. I just couldn’t wait to stand in long lines all day! Really, it wasn’t too bad. Okay, yes it was.

Disney Corp. is a masterful marketing organization. I couldn’t help but feel a bit like a sucker consumer in Disney. I realize it is geared towards a child’s enjoyment…but it’s geared towards a parents wallet, so I believe some criticism should be allowed.  The “rides” were waaaaaaay outdated. I mean, come on, “It’s a Small World”?!?! That lame ride has been in operation since 1734. Then there was the college kids operating the rides like the Animal Kingdom safari that I just wanted to punch due to their sarcastic canned humor that was clearly written for their own amusement to keep themselves from going insane from repeating the same sarcastic canned humor. Nevertheless, Kylee was blissfully unaware of the commercialism. It was all a magic fairy tale to her…which makes it worth every penny. Well, most of the pennies.

I felt the food was mediocre, too. The World Showcase at Epcot was a cool concept…but I have had better Japanese food at the local sushi joint in Dover, DE than they had in “Japan, Orlando”. We bought the meal plan with our tickets and quickly realized that they were making out like fat bandits given that 75% of the restaurants are buffet-style. I am not fan of all-you-can-eat-and-sneeze-on buffet restaurants. It feels a little too trough-y to me. The chefs do a fantastic job of looking legit with their tall hats, french accents, and big smiles–but, they can’t possibly be that happy to be serving food this way after graduating from the International Culinary Institute.

On a positive note, I was extremely impressed with the ability of the Disney staff to be consistently and apparently genuinely happy to be working there. I mean, they really make you feel like a special guest. And to think, they do this 7 days a week, 365 days a year, year after year after year. The characters were the highlight for Kylee. She had breakfast with her favorite princesses–the highlight of the week for her. If I had to work there, I would no-doubt resort to coming up with some canned sarcastic humor bit. Hat-tip to their hospitality indeed.

In the end, it was a great vacation for us all. Kylee is still at that age where Disney World is a very magical place. At one point during the fireworks I  was holding her up and she said to me with a hug, “Daddy this is where dreams come from. You know what my dream was? You, Daddy”. Heart. Melt.

After Disney, we headed off to Clermont, FL about 30 min up the road for a Families on the Road (FOTR) rally. Details to come on that. Oh, and I did not forget I promised to blog about my hillbilly motormount for our new inflatable kayaks.

Here are some highlights from Disney…

Kayaking “The Chaz” in Homosassa, FL

We couldn’t wait to get out on the water again with our new Sea Eagle kayaks. Today, we headed out early to the Chassahowitzka River, a/k/a, “The Chaz” for obvious reasons. It’s actually not that hard to pronounce: chazawachassowts..chazzoowith… chazowitsk…oh, forget it.


Anyway, it is a river fed from a series of freshwater springs that also meets with the Gulf of Mexico at about the 7mi. marker which we did not quite make it to on this trip. Cut us some slack, we are still getting acquainted with our watercraft. The river runs along a National Wildlife Refuge, a 31,000+ acre refuge that was created in 1943 as a winter preserve for migratory waterfowl. We had heard that on a good day we might be able to see some manatee that come inland when the Gulf waters get cold (below 70 deg) to the river that stays a consistent 72 deg all year.

We got unloaded and into the water and barely left the ramp before we saw a couple of manatees swimming around. Kylee was so thrilled to see these graceful water cows swimming under our kayak. 

After spending some time with the manatees we decided to go explore some of the natural springs that feed the chaz. The water was crystal clear and in the summer these springs are a popular swimming hole.

We proceeded up the river and were thoroughly enjoying our time on the water. We did not see any gators on this river but we did see some fantastic birds.

          My favorite find today was this Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.
                                                             Wood Stork
                                                      Brown Pelicans

Needless to say, we are thoroughly enjoying our new kayaks! There is an entire different world to be explored that can only be seen from the water. Plus, it’s great exercise that I really need now that I am on the road and not playing basketball 2-3 times per week like I was at home. But, it is hard work and sometimes we want to just relax on the water and cover a lot of ground and see as much as we can see. So, I have come up with a plan…I’m going to rig our kayaks with trolling motors.  My next post will be about this project. My motors have been ordered and should be here this week…so check back if you are curious how I am going to attach motors to inflatable kayaks!

Hanging Out with Escapees in Bushnell, FL

We arrived here at Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, FL on Tuesday. It was a short 1 hr drive from Ocala. We immediately got the feeling we were joining a tight-knit community when we arrived. Escapees RV Club members are well-known for their friendliness and they sure have lived up to that reputation since we arrived. There are a lot of full-time RVers here as evidenced by all the South Dakota and Texas tags (for those of you unaware, most full-timers domicile in these two states for tax advantages). Combine the friendliness with low low camping rates of about $16/day, the 3 resident sandhill cranes, and on-site orange trees ripe for picking,  and we are content to stay here until our Disney trip planned for Jan 6.

Yesterday, I noticed I was getting  a lot of new followers to my blog. I checked my stats to see what was going on, and I noticed I had almost 4000 hits to my blog in 1 day! I know I didn’t meet 4000 people today…but I did meet a cool couple who knows well over 4000 people: Nick and Terry Russell. Nick and Terry (as some of my readers are well aware of) are the creators of a popular bi-monthly journal for RVers called Gypsy Journal… it’s packed with stories, humor, and useful information for Rvers! They have been full-timers for 13 years now and they put on 2 rallies each year to bring RVers and wannabes together to learn and fellowship. Turns out Nick mentioned meeting us in his blog and kindly linked to our blog, thus the 4000 hits yesterday. We had a good chat with them. It was obvious to us that they love this lifestyle and love sharing it with others.

It’s kind of nice to come to a park where there are lot of other full-timers. We have been staying in state parks quite a bit since hitting the road and you don’t get  a lot of opportunity to chat with other full-timers that way. I’m pretty sure we are the youngest family in the park right now so Kylee is getting a lot of love and attention from the other campers who are reminded of their own grandkids. Kylee is pretty outgoing and will not hesitate to walk over to your site (with our permission of course) and chat it up with you. Just don’t be offended when her inquisitive little mind inquires about your wrinkles on your face as she did with one gracious neighbor today.

These folks adored Kylee

Monkeying around in Ocala, Florida

Well, here I sit in Ocala National Forest at 9:00pm and it’s a balmy 70 degrees outside, unaffected by Dean Martin’s Christmas claim playing in the background that, “Baby, it’s cold outside”. It has been this way our entire 2 week stay here at Silver River State Park. And I’m lovin’ it! I am sure it would make my friends of the North feel better if I told them it didn’t feel much like Christmas with a high of 85 today…but I will not tell a lie. It has been a very pleasant stay in Northern/Central Florida so far.

The highlight of our stay here so far has definitely been our canoe trip up  Silver River through an absolutely beautiful wildlife refuge on the outskirts of Ocala National Forest. We rented a canoe and hit the gator-infested waters early in the morning and immediately were engrossed in trying to identify the abundance of bird species we had never seen before, outside of of our Florida wildlife books.

I must admit I was not thrilled about spending the winter in Florida. My limited exposures to Florida heretofore have been Daytona Spring Break in college and Disney as a kid. I don’t care to relive the Spring Break thing and the only thing I remember about Disney was that I got lost. But, now…Florida as new appeal to me! The rivers and waterways here are just fantastic. We enjoyed our canoe trip so much, we bought 2 kayaks (review on these forthcoming) and plan to hit as many rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways as we can over the next 3 months. I figure the best way to sum up this trip is with a good slide show. So, enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

A note about the monkeys you’ll see:

A colony of Rhesus macaques was established in the Silver River State Park  around the spring of 1938. The monkeys were released by a tour boat operator known locally as “Colonel Tooey” to enhance his “Jungle Cruise” ride some time around the Spring of 1938. A traditional story that the monkeys were released for scenery enhancement in the Tarzan movies that were filmed at that location is false, as the only Tarzan movie filmed in the area, 1939’s Tarzan Finds a Son! contains no Rhesus Macaques. In addition, various colonies of rhesus and other monkey species are speculated to be the result of zoos and wildlife parks destroyed in hurricanes, most notably Hurricane Andrew.

images are clickable

The Great Exodus

(Note: Please forgive the grainy photography. These were all taken with my Iphone. One reason I do not update the blog regularly is lack of good photos. This will be remedied after Christmas as I will be getting a new camera.)

After a few days in Rehoboth Beach, DE we decided to head to our Thanksgiving destination: Williamsburg/Jamestown, VA. It seems like a great place to spend this heritage-rich holiday since, after all, it is arguably the location of the first Thanksgiving celebration in the nation in 1619, two years before the pilgrims of Plymouth, MA had theirs.

We first stopped at Kiptopeke state park just north of the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge near Cape Charles, VA. It was a great place to stay. It had wonderful trails, beach walking, and spacious sites. We stayed there for 3 days and then headed across the bridge. I was a little unnerved about driving into the ocean (literally) with a 43′ trailer, but in the end it turn out to be pretty uneventful aside from the $60 it cost for our 2 vehicles to pass through it.

Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge

We arrived in Williamsburg, VA and set up camp at American Heritage RV Park, about 15 minutes fro Colonial Williamsburg. We had a nice large site with good satellite reception and the playground was right across the street for Kylee to play at. The park was okay, but we much prefer the state and national parks as they are a more natural setting with better aesthetics, trails, and are cheaper.

By the weekend we were surrounded by RVs

This place is $41/day just because of its proximity to Colonial town. But, that’s why we chose it…so off to the colony we headed to explore a bit.

I should be jealous...but it IS Thomas Jefferson. Kylee wasn't impressed though.

Kylee was much more impressed with this guy.

Waxing philosophical with TJ.

Unforunately, Thanksgiving Day did not start very pleasantly. Kylee had the stomach flu earlier in the week and I picked it up the night before TDay. But, alas, I was determined to get some turkey. So, I pulled myself together late in the afternoon and we were able to keep our reservation at The Blue Talon where we were served a delicious Turkey feast. With bellies full and everybody healthy again we were ready to join the great exodus of RVers heading to Florida for the winter. We drove about 4 hours to Fayettevillle and stayed their for 2 days before heading to Savannah, GA for a week stay at Skidaway Island State Park. We loved this park! It was a little difficult maneuvering the rig through the park; but once set up the sites are acceptably private, very roomy, and aesthetically pleasing. The best part, though, was the beautiful trail system within the park, which I utilized daily for jogging.

This gorgeous red-tailed hawk was perched about 15 feet up a tree

Palm trees...a sure sign we are getting closer to Florida!

Savannah is an interesting city. We would have liked to stay longer and explore the history a bit more, but Florida was calling us! So, we spent a couple of days exploring City Market and River Streetand enjoyed these very much. Word of caution when driving down River Street: It’s one way. Generally going the wrong way on a one way street will get the folks going the right way a little excited.

There was a Grinch Christmas dance on River Street, complete with kids from Whoville.

I got distracted when this 330+ yd cargo ship came into port. This thing was impressive!

With Savannah under our belts we were ready for Florida. We drove the 3.5 hours to St. Augustine and are now set up at North Beach Camp Resort, which is set nicely between the inter-coastal waterway and the ocean. We were originally scheduled at the KOA in St. Augustine but we quickly ruled that out after 1 night there. It was way too tight, rather ugly, and the staff was not exactly in the Christmas spirit, if you know what I mean. We have found that to be pretty typical of KOA campgrounds…not sure why. North Beach is in a great location, has good hook-ups, water pressure, and friendly staff. But, it is waaaaay over-priced at $350 for the week. If the jacuzzi was warmer than 80 deg I might think otherwise, though.

Downtown St. Augustine is gorgeous.

Site 111 here is plenty big for us, but we can not get satellite reception. Not to fear, they have great cable.

Yesterday we went on our Christmas tree hunt. We decided on a real tree since we knew we would be throwing it away afterwards. Kylee had a blast decorating it!

From here we will be heading to Ocala, FL where we have reservations for 2 weeks at the beautiful Silver River State Park campground. We will spend Christmas here and then meet up with Lisa’s parents who have a place in Seminole. Lot’s of stuff happening after that! We will be meeting up with other families on the road and working on a really cool project I’ll share with you all later.