Bourbon and Church.

Kentucky loves their bourbon. And beer. And wine too, I suppose. In a span of twenty-four hours over the weekend, we visited a brewery, a distillery, and a winery! Oh, Kentucky. We were unable to tour the bourbon distillery, but hope to head back as we tackle the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in the future. Otherwise, we've been exploring different small towns (and falling more in love with the area, one road at a time), moving the ducks into a new 'home', cleaning up the land a bit, hanging out with the horses (as usual), and enjoying the quiet out here. We've also had to bury a dog (Kyle helped a neighbor out with her dog too) -- that was sad, but such is life. With all the animals around, things like that are bound to happen. A sneaky fox steals ducks on occasion, and raccoons have stolen a couple turtles. At least I've got a little duckling following me around! Oh, and that rooster. He's a character.

We also found a church, which will be a vital source of grace and community for us. The people are warm and friendly, the community is tight-knit, the pastor is not afraid to address serious issues, and there are plenty of ways for us to grow & connect through volunteering, small groups, and worship. I'm excited.

Oh, there is an Amish community here! I'm not quite sure where their homes are, but one of my favorite grocery stores is a little Amish-owned store north of town. They come to town occasionally to sell goods and shop. It still throws me off when I see an Amish woman pushing a cart around at Walmart. In the past year, I have been reading a lot about the Amish simple way of life and feeling very inspired to incorporate some of their wisdom and methods into my own life. (I may expand on this in a later post.)

The residents we talk to seem so shocked that we moved from Chicago and usually remark with, "Wow, what a big difference!" Yep. That's why we are here: to live life with an adventure our hearts desire.

I probably have more to write about, but all I want to do is get off this computer and go outside. It's funny how my priorities have changed in just a couple weeks. Stepping back from what we used to know and considering how we want our future to look has given me some clarity. I won't stop writing, but my desire to share everything has lessened. I want to be here. Now.

We woke up today to a chilly fifty-degree morning (in July!). I don't mind - I love layers and hot drinks (is it too early to say that I'm looking forward to fall already?). Our plans for today include more odd jobs around Jordan's farmstead and a continued search for jobs. We're also picking up the truck from the shop (the trip out here was a bit much for it). Asking for prayers and luck in our job search! Hope you are well, friends. 

Of course, what's an update without some photos!?

in the bluegrass.

We made it. We're in Kentucky and loving it!

It took us two days to drive down to Kentucky with a truck, an RV with all our belongings, a car, myself, my husband, our friend Josiah, two cats, a bunny, and a bearded dragon. We left Chicagoland on a Sunday morning, stayed overnight at a campsite in Indiana, and arrived at a Walmart in Kentucky on Monday afternoon.

Walmart? Yep, to buy another new trailer tire. An hour after departing the Indiana campsite, I was following the RV (as was the plan) when I noticed a flat tire and pieces of rubber flying at me. I waved Kyle down and we discovered a blown-out tire -- the one tire we hadn't replaced recently. Thankfully, I caught it before it wore down to the rim. Kyle skillfully changed the tire and we hit the road again. Once the newly purchased tire was put on the RV, we headed to the farm.

Arriving at Jordan's (our adopted aunt) house was a huge thrill! We were welcomed with friendly faces, open arms, and dozens of quacking ducks. After years of talking about doing this, we are here.

The RV is currently parked in Jordan's driveway; we will be relocating to our spot (a hundred feet away) some time in the next week or so once we lay down some gravel. In the meantime, we've made multiple trips to stores in the area, done more RV work, rode around on the ATV, had breakfast at Waffle House, worked around the farm, played with ducks, hung out with horses, planted a tree, relaxed, explored nearby towns, met many nice people, BBQ'd, and enjoyed our time with Jordan and Hank. Last week was our vacation. This week, we're job hunting and settling in.

And in the middle of everything, we actually went back to Chicago for a day to see some family and visit our friends' sweet newborn son. It was wonderful seeing them. On our way out of Chicagoland, we saw a sign for the Dixie Highway and on a whim, decided to exit the tollway and hop on Dixie. It was a pleasant road that led us south through some small towns in Illinois. They were all so quaint and peaceful, a different side of Illinois than we're used to seeing (endless construction, rude drivers, taxes, tollways, etc). And somehow, that made us appreciate Illinois a little bit better. We grabbed pizza in near-empty Hoopeston, IL before getting back on the usual highways through Indiana back to Kentucky. 

It was so good to be back in Kentucky. The entire twenty-four hours we were in the 'burbs, we felt like visitors in the past, even though we only left a week prior. Those feelings melted away once we hit the road. Quacking ducks outside our windows is home.

The foggy mist here is gorgeous. It's slightly scary when you're driving through it on rolling hills in the middle of the night (I kept expecting a ghost to pop out), but absolutely stunning in the early morning hours. Click here to see more photos I took of the horses in the early morning mist.

Oh, and something else I need to get used to: bats! At twilight, the deer walk out of the woods to graze in the pasture as the bats fly out of the trees, dipping and diving everywhere. They're fun to watch. :)

So there it is. We're here. We're happy. Pieces still need to fall in place, but we don't mind.

Our home is open to visitors! Come by anytime. 

Much love.

NOTE: My computer died. I've been alternating between using the notes feature on my outdated iPad (works great but most apps won't work because the iPad isn't compatible with the recent iOS) and borrowing Jordan's laptop to plug the notes into a blog post. I'll get a new computer eventually.....

See you later, Illinois.

I'm sitting here at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin, IL. This desk is in front of the window that overlooks the Fox River. So serene. This will probably be my last trip at a library/coffee place for use of the WiFi for another week or so.

Life is good. And challenging. As always.

More RV Repairs & Prep.

Repair discoveries are never-ending! One of the side walls on our slide-out separated from the floor. It's not as scary as it sounds (nothing fell through the floor), but it was something that needed to be fixed right away. We found more rotting wood where the floor + wall meet, which explains why it came apart. Brackets were put in place for reinforcement. More caulking was done around the RV and on the roof. Three tires are also dry rotting, so we've been replacing them one at a time (and giving them a little bath). After the tires are finished, we're done with repairs.... for now. The previous owners didn't take care of the RV well (so much water damage leading to so much rotting wood), or they knew about the problems and didn't tell us. Either way, we're dealing with it as it happens and still in love with our home.

The Storm.

One day, we had two large storms come through the campground. The first one was windy, but fine. The second one was expected to have 70-100mph winds with "potential damage to mobile homes" (according to the Weather Channel app). The others in the park didn't seem too bothered ("just hunker down and say your prayers to the man upstairs!"), but we were nervous and didn't want to stick around, even though there was a bathroom building nearby that could be used for protection. We grabbed all four pets, got in the car, and drove off in search of underground parking or something -- just to be safe. We ended up at Kyle's parents' house, hung out for a few hours, and headed back to the RV park when the storm calmed down a bit. The park looked.... fine. There was no evidence of a storm. Our home was fine. Whew. (Tornadoes did touch down about 30 miles south of us.)

Fourth of July.

Kyle was on-call over the weekend, so we planned to have a low-key Fourth of July holiday. Fortunately, he was never called in and we were able to enjoy a classic car show, some porch-sitting, a baseball game with dear friends, and fireworks on the 4th. What could be more American than that!? The rest of the week, we had more dinners and gatherings with friends (including a sweet celebration for Kyle's birthday!). Kyle's last day of work is today. Tonight, we're having dinner with both families. We're relaxing tomorrow (if you're local, swing by the park for a full moon bonfire just before dark!) and leaving Illinois on Sunday morning! We plan to stop somewhere near Indianapolis for the night and arrive in Kentucky on Monday. Eeeeek!

Love.

I often sit in our home and marvel at all the love that surrounds us. Handmade curtains from Sara, art from my sister, a windchime from Michelle, the stainless steel straws from Kelly, beads in my hair from Kristine, a tapestry from Ryan, candles from several friends, a quilt from our aunt, a photo from Ashley, the plant from Tom, the rug from Salome, wallpaper scraped by Amy & Rachel, so many things fixed by my father-in-law, windows caulked by Davy, floors finished by Bob & Josiah, a notebook filled with sweet well-wishes & cards from friends, and more. I think about all the people who have stepped through our RV doors, the conversations we've had inside, dinners around the picnic table, and moments near the bonfire. Tears well up as I think about how blessed I am to have a life so full of love through friends and family. And here we are, leaving in a couple days. I know I've been strong and full of smiles, but it is hard. Bittersweet. And oh, how my heart swells with love and gratitude for every beautiful, kind soul that has passed through my life. Some will remain in touch, others will fade away -- still cherished.

[I have plenty of stationary and stamps! Expect mail to be flying around.]

Are We Ready?

On a visit to Kentucky last year, my husband and I were sitting on Jordan's porch swing when he asked me: "Are you ready for this?"

Hearing this from him was kind of unexpected, as he's not usually the kind of person to ask such a question. Yet, it really hit me. Whoa. Our mini vacations this past year have shown us how much we thrive in a country setting. We're happier. Lighter. Outdoors more. Stress less. Full of hope and ideas. Free.

Yet... we are leaving a lot of people behind. A community that has slowly been built.

It will be hard. But it's OK. We are never really leaving.... It's just "see you later."

There is so much ahead of us, obstacles to go through and experiences to have. A dream that is happening, unfolding one day at a time. I'm incredibly excited.

Yes. I'm ready. Ready for new challenges and adventures. Ready to see where God takes us.

See you later, Chicagoland.