Go to church; they’ll give you food

Blog Title Image, pink and white lettering on faint black background: "Beautiful Mountains, www.marianamcdougall.com." RV inn front of mountains near Sommersville, PA

Erie, Pensylvannia

Dan and I have to stifle a giggle when the priest announces that there is a pancake breakfast after mass.

Pink sky as seen from the windshield of an RV


Almost every Sunday of this trip, someone has either fed us a meal after mass, or there’s been a very reasonably priced option for a great brunch. The latter is the case today in Erie, Pennsylvania, where the Lion’s Club is having their fundraising brunch. For less than $30, the children, Dan, and I eat a delicious breakfast, and our payment goes to a good cause. The service is great, too, and we meet a lovely couple, Frank & Doris. They tell us that before leaving Erie, we should check out the peninsula. Since we’re in no hurry, we decide to follow their advice, and we don’t regret it.


Father and three children walking int he woods at Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvannia


“Unto the heavens I will soar with the water at my feet to gently float with the balance of nature as my guide,” reads the inscription on the wood of the lookout. And a more appropriate verse couldn’t have been chosen. Standing here on the edge of beautiful Lake Erie, feeling a part of the gorgeous nature around you, you really do feel like you could fly.


Tree on the left, Lake Erie on the right


An empty sign frame offers a great opportunity for a photo-op, and we all have fun taking turns, pretending we’re part of a gorgeous painting, with the beautiful trees as our background.


Three children stand inside an empty sign frame at Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvannia.


One last look up before getting back into the RV reveals a sky that looks as if it was painted to perfection. We get back on our journey uplifted by our Sunday nature walk.


Lake Erie under a blue sky with white clouds that look like they have been painted on the sky


Washington, Pensylvannia

In Washginton, Pennsylvannia, an amazing view is free, from the Walmart parking lot where we spent the night.


View from Walmart parking lot in Washington, Pennsylvania. Mountains, houses, and rooftops.


Morganstown to Sommersville, West Virginia

The mountains are impressive against the backdrop of gorgeous blue skies. The fall colours have faded, but the wonder of these mountains never will. There’s no question that we need to stop here for photos, especially when the clouds are putting on this incredible performance.


Mountains, blue sky and clouds near Sommersville, PA


Mountains and blue sky with white clouds near Sommersville, Pennsylvania


As I take pictures, a couple leaves their car and the lady asks me if that’s our RV back there. A lengthy conversation ensues. When she asks me, with much ceremony about not having to answer if it’s too personal, about how we afford this trip, she nods her head when I say not having debt helps.” As does having work that I can take on the road.


RV in front of tree-covered mountains, under a blue sky with some white clouds.


Sometimes I myself can’t believe that we’re doing this, and it’s sometimes hard to explain our lifestyle to others who only see one way to live a life. For some, having material goods is important, and if having a beautiful home is your dream, that’s fine.

But staying put in one place for the sake of having “something to show for myself” just isn’t for me. While “our house is not much to talk about,” being frugal with just about everything else has allowed us to fulfill dreams like these. We did in in 2008, and now we’re doing it again.

In both cases, we lived cheaply for a long while and saved for our adventures. And we try to travel inexpensively whenever possible, saving money for the experiences we value most. Sleeping at Walmarts is perfectly fine by us, if it means we can save the money to travel long-term and have special experiences with our kids.


Pinterest Image, black and white lettering on faint pink background: "Our Simple Process for Affording Long-Term Travel, www.marianamcdougall.com," text set against image of clouds

For anyone who wants to travel long term, our advice is simple:

  1. Pay off all debt (but preferably, don’t make it in the first place).
  2. Live below your means and save money for what matters to you.
  3. Plan.
  4. Go.

These simple suggestions have helped us to continue living life on our terms, making memories instead of collecting “stuff.”

What memories will you make next?

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