A Reason to Live and the Freedom to Fly (our first snowbird season)

Just before we left for our first snowbird season in the American southwest I was interviewed on a radio show called “Breaking Free” which is all about people who have broken free from the traditional world, from society’s expectations, and have sought out a new life on their own terms.

When I listened to some previous recordings of the show I was struck by how everyone’s story was different yet the goal was the same: to create change in order to live a better life.

My goal involved a quest to become a happier person and finding that happiness by changing my career and lifestyle. A quick recap for my new readers: I closed my software consulting business, sold my house where I lived for 15 years, sold almost all of my stuff, bought an RV and set out to live the life I always dreamed of – travel photographer.

No one paid me to be a travel photographer. I just bought an RV and spent some of my savings so that I could go and experience the life I wanted by driving all around North America for a year photographing beautiful places. Luckily for me my husband, Ray, also wanted to travel North America, but we both thought it was something we would do when we retired. You can read the whole story about how I changed my life here if you’re interested.

If I learned one thing through our journey it is this: don’t live for someday.

I can’t tell you how very much it means to me to think that my story can inspire others. Not only was I contacted by the radio show, but I receive emails every week from readers who use the word inspiring. One reader even wrote to tell me that my journey inspired him and his disabled wife to change their lifestyle so they could lead more fulfilling lives. She is housebound, but now their house goes with them. He said that now they had a reason to live. Seriously, he actually said “reason to live.”

I almost cried when I read those words.

It’s astonishing to me that it wasn’t all that long ago that I was searching for my own reason to live. I truly had no idea that it was in me to inspire someone else’s reason to live.

After the first few months of our initial year-long journey, Ray and I knew that we loved being nomads and didn’t want to go back to our old lives. We decided to become snowbirds. We were only home in BC for four months before our first snowbird season would begin. (Actually, because we are from Vancouver Island, we like to call ourselves rain birds!)

The first year we traveled our focus was on experiencing the life, making beautiful images, and sharing them with the world. For our first snowbird season, the goal had to change because now we needed to make our lifestyle sustainable. We needed to start some “location independent” businesses if we wanted to continue being nomads.

Things were a bit different this time as we both spent many hours writing and less time traveling. We stayed in places for longer periods of time and didn’t go nearly as far. Here’s how our travel map looks for our first snowbird season.

Map of Our First Snowbird Season

We focused on the part of North America that we missed on our first trip, southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Please click the images to view larger versions.

Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Saguaro National Park by Anne McKinnell
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
The Valley of Fire, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell
The Valley of Fire, Nevada

And, oh yeah, we went to Mexico and got all our teeth fixed!! I know, it sounds like a risky thing to do but we met so many people in the RV parks along the way who had done just that and told us that their dental work was excellent, it was clean, and cheap. I had 8 crowns for $1280! The dentist was the best dentist I have ever been to. All the work was done in about 6 days. It could have been quicker, but Ray had some complications with his dental work and had to have oral surgery, which went smoothly and quickly.

All in all we couldn’t be happier with our new lives. My eBooks have been very successful and now I’m just about to start my first eCourse. Ray started a new website called “Love Your RV” all about RVing (it’s at http://loveyourrv.com if you’re interested in checking it out) and he’ll have some eBooks soon too. We are just getting to the point where our businesses are paying the bills.

But the most important part is that we discovered the freedom of the snowbird. We spend our time doing things that we love and anytime we are ready we have the freedom to fly.

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  1. says

    Love your story and your spirit. I just retired from my job of 16 years manning a computer (tax software testing and then writing tax education materials). My wife and I are home bodies for the most part, but home is Florida. I was born here 66 years ago and haven’t seen hardly any of it…that’s about to change. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Dennis Warren recently posted..Sometimes Daily PostsMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Dennis, we absolutely loved our time in Florida. We didn’t see any of the interior, we just followed the coast line all the way long. It took us two months! Mind you, we were purposefully going very slow because the weather was bad everywhere else. There is so much to see in that beautiful state. I wish you an adventurous retirement!

  2. Albert says

    I living the same life as your old one: a software product engineer.
    I also dream to be a travel photographer.
    Your story really inspired me a lot !
    I hope I have the courage to follow my heart as you do.
    Really glad to see your new career and life going so well !
    Hope you have happier life and more exciting adventure in the coming season :)
    Will always support you!

    • says

      Thank you so much Albert! I hope my story helps you see that it can be done. I’m sure if you decide to follow your heart you will soon wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. Good luck!!

  3. tom e says

    I was on Pin it and found your info and photos. I was inspired. See I boondocked many years by myself for health reasons out in the SW finding Hot Spring BLM in Ca for good recuperation. I’ve arthritis. The past two winters I’ve stayed back home in upstate NY having missed my working wife. This year we hit a place money wise for her retirement. Feeling worse physically I questioned my abilities to RV any longer. Your Pics reminded me of what I miss about the SW in scenery. More importantly I’ve missed the number of great people I’ve met over the years. Thank-You Anne for being here for me and making up my mind to continue on in the pursuit of wintering out West again by RV. We are traveling to Vegas, by air, to visit our daughter. There friends that I met out west settled down after years and many miles of RV travels. They want me to buy their rig. Now we Will probably buy. Cheers, Tom

    • says

      Hi Tom, thank you very much for your wonderful comments. It means a lot to me that my photos inspired you to keep RVing! We meet a lot of people on the road, and when we watch all the people coming and going we see how various people accomplish things that need doing on the RV. It seems there is always a way if you really want to do it.

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