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This time last year (April 2020) we were back in Montana under quarantine after our first trip around the country in our fifth wheel. That first trip was great, but the second trip has been even better. Every stop along the way has been hard to leave.

The highlights from the past 7 months:

  • Southern Utah / Northern Arizona – Everyone needs to visit Zion National Park and Lake Powell. No excuses, these places are epic.
  • Nashville – I LOVE NASHVILLE. I would live there. I seriously would. It’s just not Zach’s favorite. We are however stationed and likely buying land just 5ish hours away. So I can visit anytime. I’ll meet you there.
  • Homosassa Springs FL – Swimming with the manatee has been on my bucket list and we made a special trip to do just that. It wasn’t how I envisioned it to be, but it will still a great time. I’ll tell you more in a minute.
  • Savannah GA – The Georgia country side was such a wonderful surprise. I would live outside of Savannah if there were a lake for us. I got my first Furry Bones in Savannah.
  • Charleston SC – Another city on the list of places YOU MUST visit. This city is remarkable and full of so much history. The architecture is from another world. There times we were walking the streets and I felt like I was back in Europe.

The Search is Tiring

I kinda wish we weren’t looking for “homebase”. It’s exhausting. Most people have one option. This is where we live, so let’s pick the best home where we live. It’s different for us. We can live anywhere – in reason. We have a series of must haves for the area we choose.

Must haves:

  • A lake
  • 8ish months of surf weather
  • Proximity to large airport, mountains or running trails, and activities
  • A church we feel at home in

I am enjoying the freedom of the road and love change. Not to say that when we pick a homebase that we won’t still change our scenery throughout the year. What I really like about North Carolina is that we can travel to many places we have never been very easily. I want to continue to really explore the US and Europe for the next 15 years.

Trade Offs

I guess I am naïve, but I really thought we would find the perfect spot that checked all our boxes. I have come to realize that there are definite tradeoffs going from Montana to North Carolina.

  • Lake water clarity – We lived near Canyon Ferry Lake in Montana and while it was a reservoir it had fairly clear water for at least two months out of the year. The water in North Carolina isn’t as clear as Canyon Ferry. The soil here is different and causes a murkyness to the reservoirs. The last lake were at in North Carolina I decided was too murky to live near so we moved. There are some natural lakes around us so if the water gets too murky toward the end of the season we can travel around to check them out. If only we could have Whitefish Lake (but 6 times in size) an hour outside of Charlotte!
  • Crime – More people, more problems. The last area we were in on the east side of Charlotte was ridiculous. Like multiple shootings every week. We left and feel more comfortable in the area we are in. I have been all about cheap living, but am learning that paying more for a safer area is a must here.

Let’s Talk Manatee

Every winter the manatee of the Gulf of Mexico make there way into the inland waterways of Western Florida. These waterways are full of natural springs and provide the manatee with a warm environment for the winter. Manatee are known as Sea Cows. They feed on the vegetation of the ocean – not people.

Swimming with the manatee is a local attraction near Homosassa Springs and Crystal River. We made an impromptu trip on our way up to North Carolina. It was the right time of year to swim with these massive creatures. We booked a tour and went out on a pontoon in search of manatee. Unfortunately when we were there the temperatures were abnormally high for the year and the majority of manatee had already ventured back into the Gulf. We did see three in the wild and swam with one. We also saw three at a park.

The one we swam with was sleeping at the time. So we passively observed it in our snorkel gear. While they sleep, they lay at the bottom of the river but surface every few minutes for a breath. They are quite ugly and covered in barnacles. They are really fascinating creatures.

Oh yeah, we bought a surf boat! Come to NC and we will take you for a surf.