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Blue Sky Challenge: Tag, I’m It

I was surprised and honored to be nominated by Andrea at 40 Foot House for the Blue Sky Challenge Tag Award, one of blogdom’s self-created awards that’s actually fun for participants.

Andrea and her hubby sold everything and hit the road in a 40-foot 5th wheel with their dog Elvis. Check out Andrea’s Blue Sky Challenge post here.

Current status 😊

A post shared by Andrea Elkins (@40foothouse) on

Here’s the deal for lucky nominees:

  • Write a post answering the 11 questions posed by your nominator.
  • Include 11 new questions you’d like your nominees to answer.
  • Tag 11 others and ask them to accept the challenge.

My questions & answers

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I’m probably supposed to come up with something far more inventive than flying here, but no. Sorry not sorry. It would be so amazing to be able to soar through the sky like Superman. Even as an adult I’ve had dreams that I could fly 🙂

Do you have pets? Please describe them.

Yes, two. Greyhounds. But then if you’ve spent more than two-and-a-half seconds on this blog, you know that.

John Lee & Laurie
This was a fluke. These guys *never* share a bed.

John Lee is a black but greying boy named after blues legend John Lee Hooker, I’m certain (with littermates named Howlin’ Wolf, Koko T and Ms. Holiday, the theme was clear). I like Hooker & the blues, so the name John Lee is what first caught my eye when I spotted him on the Greyhound rescue group’s adoptables page.

Even though John Lee is nearly nine, he frequently acts like a puppy. Like most Greyhounds, he lays around 95% of the time. The other 5% he’s spazzing out over someone coming to the door, me leaving or me coming home. Or he’s doing donuts on the living room carpet. Ay…

Laurie is our 14-year-old girl, who came to us as a foster after being found in a ditch a couple of counties away. She had heartworm, a mouth full of rotten teeth, a tumor on her thigh, and was generally a frightened little girlie.

Laurie’s previous owners put an electric fence collar on her (really bad idea with a Greyhound) and apparently left her in the yard a lot. Every time she’d try to leave she’d get zapped. Three and a half years later she’s still skittish.

Either that or she’s playing us.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’ll admit I can’t adequately answer this question. I haven’t been much of anywhere (not for lack of trying, I assure you). That’s part of what’s drawing me to nomadic life.

If we get tired of RV life or have to stop for one reason or another, I ❤ New Hampshire.

Internationally – OMG so many places I’d love to visit. But to live? I’m not sure I’d want to permanently live any place that’s less free than the U.S. More free? Maybe!

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?

The good stuff. Regular Hellmann’s/Best Foods is fine, too.

What factored into your decision to write a blog?

I’ve always been a writer, but except for corporate or technical things, I didn’t allow myself an outlet for writing.

I started this blog in 2013, after I’d signed on to participate in the Free State Project. We couldn’t seem to find a viable way to leave Georgia. I was fed up with local goings-on and felt trapped and frustrated.

I wrote quite a bit about local issues as well as general libertarian philosophy and ideas. All that writing on top of attending and prepping for local meetings, plus years (decades?) of neglect culminated in agonizing RSI pain that wouldn’t go away. So I backed off the blog.

After years of massage therapy (thank you, Mary Lou Ross) and regular workouts, I was ready to write again. Right about that time, our push to get out of here and move to New Hampshire hit what was for us the final brick wall. And then, we discovered full-time RV life.

I couldn’t not write about how our dream died, then enabled us to find another. I changed the name of the blog from Porcupine Dreams to Wandering Porcupine. We were through dreaming and ready to do. This is not an RV blog. It is not “monetized.” It’s an outlet I simply must have.

As one of my nominees put it in a recent newsletter, I write to process things. It works.

When was the last time you did something that scared you, and what was it?

This is somewhat embarrassing.

During our Independence week camping trip, I went out for a pre-dawn walk. The campground we stayed at has paths that meander through wooded areas, many of which are paved and simply loop back in to one another before long. I’d walked them a little during the day with John Lee, but it was mercilessly hot for the both of us so I didn’t get far.

As I set off to walk, fear was the furthest thing from my mind. The morning air was significantly cooler than the daytime temps, and it felt good to get out of the RV and explore (we had issues with the dogs on this trip, so I was inside a lot).

Not long into my walk I came to a point that was still paved, but disappeared into a heavily wooded area. It was beginning to get light out, but here where the woods closed in around the path it was still dark. I could not see more than a few yards ahead.

I stopped in my tracks, mind racing. What was in those woods?

Was there anything large enough, or poisonous enough, to cause harm? Was I invading their space by choosing this dark, quiet hour to walk?

It had been decades since I camped, but back then I worried pretty much only about staying out of poison ivy. How the hell did I devolve to the point that I feared merely walking through the woods? On a paved path, even?

In a moment I went from being frightened to being angry with myself for being frightened. I forced my feet to move ahead, feeling like I was walking into the wild unknown. Can you guess what happened?

Not more than a minute after entering the dark, scary forest, the path opened up into a large clearing. I felt foolish for being afraid, and glad I pushed myself down the path.

Little Tallapoosa Park, just after sunrise. Not scary (anymore).
Little Tallapoosa Park, just after sunrise. Not scary (anymore).

I know it’s supposed to be OK for girls to be sissies, but I have got to get my outdoor mojo back, y’all.

What moment in your life would you like to do-over?

Ooooh…now here’s a tricky one.

Everything in my life has worked together to bring me to where I’m at now. If I erase even one regrettable decision, what goes with it?

By far the worst decision I made in my life was marrying my first husband. But if I do it over then I don’t have my two oldest kids.

I have to look for a do-over with no downside.

I suppose a close second – of course we have no way of knowing the downside here – would be my decision to buy the house Brian and I live in now.

It’s too big. We can’t keep up with the repairs and maintenance. We can’t do what we want because I bought in an HOA neighborhood. Oh, and at least a couple of the neighbors are passive-aggressive jerks.

So yeah – we’ll take a do-over on the house, thanks.

Did you grow up in a traditional household (mom, dad, 2.2 kids, family dog)?

Ummmmmm…no.

The Rosche family + friends
The Rosche family + friends

I mean, I suppose I could spin it like that. My mother and father were married the entire time I lived with them. We had a family dog. But that’s the end of anything that could be construed as traditional. Our upbringing (mine and my five younger siblings) was…difficult.

My dad must’ve had some kind of undiagnosed mental illness. It made him an abusive bully. Our house was an embarrassing hodgepodge of home repairs gone wrong, or not done at all, Dad’s homemade furniture (ugly, yet indestructible) and the mess and filth that were inevitable with six kids and a checked-out mom.

But y’know what? My childhood BFF (that’s her in the photo with my family…she’s the ponytailed blonde with her head turned to the side) grew up next door in a stereotypically traditional household – right down to the demographics cited in this question. Her parents loved her and she knew it, and their house on its worst day was still pretty clean. Yet she still knew heartbreak and struggle.

Life is oftentimes not ideal, but as with the question about do-overs, it’s all connected. It all shapes us.

How do you choose which books to read or movies to watch?

I’ve become so conscious about bringing anything more into our house or spending money that I honestly do not enjoy books like I used to. That makes me sad.

These days my book buying thought process is: What’s in the Kindle store? Has a major publisher set the price so high I won’t buy it because I know I’m going to want 5+ books in a month? What are the reviews like? Is it a business book and therefore a “should” read?

I guilt myself over reading all the damn time.

Movies are a rare indulgence. We don’t really have a dedicated viewing area at the house, so we almost never watch movies here.

It takes a great movie (or at least one we think will be great) to draw us into a theater. But when we go, we go big. Once we went to a theater with reclining seats, full bar (21+ – no rambunctious kids!) and decent food, there was no going back. Douglasville doesn’t rate a theater like that, so we drive 30 – 60 minutes to get to one. Worth every penny.

We usually check Rotten Tomatoes for reviews, then adjust for our preferences. Our last movie, Dunkirk, was Brian’s pick. It got decent reviews but we both found some fault with it. Me more than Brian. But it was still a decent outing because #fullbar 🙂

The RV is now set up for movies, but TV is such a low priority for us that we’re not paying for cable or satellite.

Flashdance
What a (bad) feeling.

When we were on our last trip the decision process was like this:

Me: “I’m wiped out. I don’t feel like doing anything.”

B: “Want to watch a movie?”

Me: “OK. Let’s see what’s available.”

Scrolling through options…even the paid ones seem lousy to us…we look for the best available free movie.

B: “Want to watch Flashdance?”

Me: “OK. I remember that from back in the day. I thought it was a cool movie.”

We watch Flashdance…and cannot believe how bad the acting and plot are.

Both of us, after the movie: “I want that hour and a half back.”

Can you speak multiple languages?

Only when ordering at a Mexican restaurant.

I grew up in L.A. with a mom who was fluent in Spanish, and family friends who were Colombian. So I understand or can figure out a lot of Spanish. Pretty sure if I was alone and hungry in Mexico, Spain, Colombia, etc., I’d start speaking a helluva lot more, y rapido!

What advice or feedback can you give me on my blog?

Feedback: I ❤ the name, Andrea 🙂 40 Foot House is brilliant.

Advice: Set up navigation menus and include links to an About page and any other static content you have.

If you don’t have an About page, do one. Let us know more about who you are and why you RV. Even though you’ve written about it in posts, an About page is a way to quickly get newcomers up to speed.

Congratulations, nominees!

As usual, I’m late to the party. I think many of my favorites may have already been nominated. But y’know what? I don’t care. If you’re a nominee, I’m nominating you because I like you and I read your stuff.

I hope you’ll accept the challenge, but if you don’t want to do it or you’ve got a Blue Sky post in the works that just isn’t published yet, I understand. Or, if you’d just like to play along in the comments here without doing a post on your own blog that’s cool, too.

It’s also cool if you weren’t nominated but you’d like to play along in the comments. C’mon in – the water’s fine.

And the nominees aaaarrrrre…

Camille Attell of More Than A Wheelin’

Kelly Beasley of RV Chickadee

Mike & Crissa Boyink of Ditching Suburbia

Derek Cobia of The Frugal RVer

Sam DeReign of Two Guys and a Camper

Debbie LaFleiche of Supersize Life

MaKayla Leazott of The Radical Roadtrippers

Heath & Alyssa of (duh) Heath & Alyssa

Rita Quinn of The Phoenix Journeys

Stacy & Justin of Opting out of Normal

Liz Wilcox of Liz Wilcox’s Virtual Campground

Nominee Instructions

Should you choose to accept this honor, please answer the following questions in a blog post:

  1. What was/is your biggest challenge in transitioning to a nomadic lifestyle?
  2. Where in your family’s birth order do you fall?
  3. Describe what real freedom is for you.
  4. What should Brian & I appreciate about our S&B house while we still have one?
  5. What job/activity/hustle contributes the most to your bottom line?
  6. What job/activity/hustle/side hustle do you most enjoy?
  7. It’s the end of a busy travel or work day. You’re famished. Using only what you have on hand now, what’s for dinner?
  8. What is the single healthiest thing you do for yourself? And the unhealthiest?
  9. If you had the power to erase a single man-made law (i.e., not gravity 🙂 ) that personally affects you, which one would you choose, and why?
  10. Barter, cash-only roadside produce stands and hairdressers operating on the d/l in RV parks are just a few examples of gray market activity one might encounter living a nomadic life. What product or service might tempt you to consider straying into the gray market if you weren’t so straight-laced?
  11. We finally meet IRL. Where are we and what are we doing?

As a reminder, in your post, you’ll also nominate 11 bloggers, and include 11 new questions you’d like them to answer. It’d be great if you let me know when your post is published; I’d love to read it and link back to it 🙂

3 thoughts on “Blue Sky Challenge: Tag, I’m It”

  1. First and foremost, Hellman’s Light is absolutely my favorite too! I don’t know if there is a timeline on this. I’d love to play and loved reading your responses. I’m 4 weeks from leaving Alaska and starting life as a full-time RVer. I am underwater with all there is left to do…all while still while working full-time and training my replacement. But I’ll be thinking and will play soon! Thanks for including me in your list!! So honored.

    Liked by 1 person

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