The summer of 2017 was a life experience where for the month of August we were roaming nomads. It is a polite way of saying we were without a home for 30 days as we moved from Tarboro, North Carolina to Newport, Rhode Island. It was not planned that way, but when life gives you opportunities just take them. I know I am a better person because of it… for me, it was a profound life experience.

My husband, Jeroen, accepted a teaching position at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. It is his dream job teaching architectural history and preservation. This is why he came to the United States from the Netherlands to pursue a Ph.D. It was to teach. When the opportunity came to him, we decided it was a one-in-a-life-time chance to make a dream come true.

Selling the House

The choice was made: accept the position and move up to Rhode Island. Our house was an old Queen Anne-style cottage from 1904 in the historic district of Tarboro and restoring it was on-going. We did, but mostly Jeroen, three years worth of work on the house in two months. Lucky for us the word got out we would be moving and folks started to offer to purchase our house before we even put it on the market. We sold our house to a lovely woman, Jennifer, and her sweet family. When you own an old house, you are more a caretaker than an owner and Jennifer was of the same mindset as us.

When we agreed on the closing date of 31 July, we didn’t actually know where in Newport we were going to live. Yes, crazy I know. The rental market in Newport is VERY tight and expensive. My son and I ventured up to Newport in June. We lost out in every place we looked it. It was feeling bleak when we looked at this one rental, which the owner had just found out their tenants were moving out in August making the house available 1 September. The house was a duplex built in the early 1900s in the “local” section of Newport. It has the number of bedrooms and bathrooms was right. It had an office space. A good kitchen. It was within walking distinct of campus for my husband and school for my son. Down the hill was a “Main Street” of shops and restaurants. Newport is really a walkable and bikeable city. Perfect for us.

And the journey begins

 

So on 31 July, we passed this old house caretaker role to Jennifer. We packed all of our stuff up on a moving truck to go into storage for a month. Jammed our cars with everything we would need for a month on the road. My car had Oppie the Cat and all of his things as well as my son and kitchen items. Off we went with our two cars, a cat, a child, and Opa.

Well Worn Apron Travels

 

 

The Well Worn Arpon begins its travels. I filled a tub with all my important spices, teas, tea kettle, knives, tools, and utensils as well as my slow cooker and Dutch ovens I love to use on a daily basis. And of course, the well-worn apron made it in the back of the car. I was looking forward to experiencing new cooking opportunities using local ingredients. For me, I love sourcing new and/or local ingredients. Going to a local grocery store or regional chain is fun. I enjoy just looking at what is different and special to locals. You can tell a lot about a place by what is in their grocery stores.

Northern Neck of Virgina

We are lucky to have great friends and are so thankful to them for their generosity. They offered their water house on the Chesapeake Bay of Virgina to us as they were traveling the month of August. We gladly accepted and stayed for three weeks. The Northern Neck is one of my favorite place on the planet. Maybe it is because of our wonderful friends, Dick and Sandy, who have made their home such as positive and warm place. The regional is filled with coastal beauty and deep history.

Staying in the Northern Neck gave me an opportunity to explore the Northern Neck of Virginia with its rich food culture of fresh produce and seafood. I became addicted to fresh heirloom tomatoes, corn, and nectarines again going through tomatoes like they were candy. I ate them every day for three weeks. It was wonderful. The selection of produce and seafood made it very easy to get fresh and healthy. Add in the water views, swimming in the Bay, and walks along the beach, I felt amazing. The best I have felt in years.

Madison, Connecticut

After an overnight stop in Princeton, New Jersey, we settled into our Airbnb in Madison, CT, for the last two weeks of our trip. We used Madison as our base to jump back and forth to Newport. First was our first Airbnb experience and didn’t know what to expect. It was super. Our host was amazing and helpful even though she was traveling Europe with her family. We chatted a lot. Madison is the picture-perfect New England town. It was quite lovely with an active Main Street scene. We did day trips to explore the area. We went to two open-air history museums. Mystic Seaport was one of the day trips and the other one was Sturbridge Village.

Newport, Rhode Island

Driving over the bridges to our new house and new life was a great feeling. It was like we were coming home though we have never lived in Rhode Island before. Our landlord was great and we got the keys a couple of days early. Unfortunately, the moving company did not arrive with our stuff until seven days later. We made the best of it. We urban camped as I called it. I am so glad to be living in Newport, Rhode Island. It is a great place to live. The people are nice and friendly. The foodie scene is strong. You can’t beat the nature and beach. Since arriving in Newport, I have never been so hopeful and excited about living anywhere. I feel healthier both mentally and physically.

The Life Experience

Living out of bags for a month as we traveled up the East Coast was a good life experience for me. It made me aware of what I really needed in life. And it is not tons of stuff. I had my favorite cooking pots and spices. I had clothes to wear. My iPhone and laptop to communicate and write.

Most importantly, I had my family and friends. We were able to spend quality time together. For 30 days, we were free of the typical American life where everyone is busy doing something. We slowed down to enjoy the simple experiences of life such as taking walks together, cooking, and long conversations. I have continued those feelings to Newport. While we were a close family before this, I believe this has made us stronger as a family.

What’s Next?

I loved the travel and living in new places experiencing the regional differences especially the food. This life experience was good for our family. I set a goal for myself that in three to five years, we will travel somewhere during the summer for one month living there as locals. I am lucky with my chosen profession that I am able to work anywhere in the world as long as I have access to high-speed Internet. And now that my husband is a professor with a more flexible schedule, we have more freedom with our time. Currently, I am working to build my business.

if you could travel for a month, where would you go?

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