2020 – The Year Of Plans, And No Plans
Welcome all to the new decade! I trust your New Year’s Eve was pleasant no matter where you passed it.
Thanks to the miracle of the internet I was able to follow my friends all around the world including old buddies in Asia, RVers in the SW desert and Florida (wish I could have been there!), ex-school friends and more. And of course we had our own little celebration here in SW France. Just a very simple, chillax evening with our French neighbors. The perfect night.
And thus we enter the 2020’s…..Where We Have No Plans?
So what are we doing this big year, the year of the new decade, the year of the 20’s?
Well this is the first year in a long, long time that we actually have no firm travel plans in place. Nothing at all. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say we have lots of plans, ALL of which are on hold at the moment, like a hammock swaying in the wind.
It’s a bit destabilizing to be honest, but it’s just where we’re currently hanging.
Sometimes you drive life forward by your own means, your hands on the wheel, peddle-to-the-metal in full control of the ride. And other times life takes the wheel away from you and leads of its own accord, and you simply have to hang on and ride the wave to wherever it goes. Fate or random chance? Either way, the cycle is undeniable and inescapable.
As Usual, It’s All About the Paws
Our main thing right now is focusing on our pets, particularly our ageing cats. I’ve written about them before, so none of this is new for those of you who read the blog regularly. But it has changed our travel plans this year, particularly in the RV.
Rand is still doing perfectly fine, but Taggart (as you know) is struggling. She is still happy, interacting, sunning herself, walking daily in the garden, cuddling at night and eating like a champ all day. Honestly she’s doing really well for her age and kidney issues. But she does need a lot of support, and she is quite fragile.
I fear her RVing days are behind her. Which means of course, that our RV plans on hold too.
Our cats have given us 18 years of their life thus far, flying happily with us across continents (USA, Asia, and Europe) driving through the US & Europe with us on wheels and basically putting up with whatever travel-crazy idea we had at the time. They are adventure cats, true feline pioneers who have gazed over the rooftops of Hong Kong, hiked the Sierras, frolicked in desert sands, and walked in the ancients forests of France.
But now they are in their golden years and prefer resting over traveling. They are happy in their daily routine here in the countryside, and they love the peace and nature, especially Taggart. So, the least we can do for her after all her years with us, is give her that.
So What’s The Plan, Stan?
Here’s the crux of it.
We actually had GRAND plans this year, including a winter RV trip to southern Spain, followed by a huge summer RV trip to Scandinavia (where we were planning at least 3 months to explore it all). Plus we had additional side-trips planned for later in the year. I was super excited, especially about the Scandinavia trip which has been a bucket list item for me for many, many years.
But the way Taggart’s health is right now, we don’t feel we can put her through all that. Even a 2-week RV trip to Spain seems like it would be too much at the moment, especially with all the driving. She might surprise us and do a big turn-around (pets sometimes do), but in my heart-of-hearts I don’t think she’ll be traveling with us that way again.
It’s also possible we’ll find alternatives. Maybe we can rent a flat somewhere for a time, or travel by some other means (one at a time, short trips?). We’re mulling it over, but the truth is we simply don’t know right now….
And of course, there’s no way we would ever leave the cats in any kind of kennel or alternate care. We are here for them as their family, until the very end. That’s what we committed to when we adopted them, and we’re not going to abandon that commitment just because it’s easier or impinges on our current travel plans.
So that is where we are at. We’re basically in stasis….taking it day-by-day and week-by-week, doing what we can and giving our love until the Universe decides otherwise for us.
And The Blog?
I have to admit all this stasis stuff also has me struggling a bit with the blog.
I’m not a stationary gal by nature, nor am I really someone who writes just for the sake of writing. For the past decade I’ve been a story teller, with our travels as my inspiration. Words not only flow by themselves when I’m on the road, they practically burst to come out, demanding to be written down and shared. The same with my photography. I feel a deep need to capture the beauty that’s out there when I see it. A force stronger than me.
But when I’m stationary that inner dialogue quiets, like a boiling cauldron that settles to simmer. It’s unsettling, destabilizing even and it becomes difficult to write and photograph. Some of it is undoubtedly just habit and what I’ve gotten used to. It’s easy to write when you’ve got plenty of material right in front of you everyday. Some of it is within me. When travel slows, my mind does too. You could say that I’m my very own personal flibberty-gibbet.
So, as Taggart transitions so perhaps will I. Maybe it’s all fated, part of the cosmic plan and what I need to learn to move forward to whatever is next. Either way, I’ll work on it and when I know, you’ll know. I just need the Universe to show me the way…SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
And, It always does!
I hear your sentiments about writing and photography. I’m happy being (fairly) stationary these days, but what is there to say??
❤❤ to Taggart and Rand.
Indeed….I get ya.
Barrie Bochoff says
Thanks for the update and all the best in 2020 and beyond. I understand our furry kids can dictate our travel plans (or lack). My cat, Mojo, will turn 20 this spring. She was unwell over the holiday and I thought she getting ready for her departure. I did everything I could and let nature take its course. After a week she turned the corner… for the better. She’s pretty well back to normal now (well, normal for her age). She seems to understand my efforts on her behalf (perhaps I’m projecting…). So, I’m sure Taggart has surprised you in the past and may well again. My thoughts are with you and family.
Wow, 20 years! That is a long and full feline life, with more to come. Go Mojo!!
And yes, there’s still a chance Taggart will turn around for another RV trip…the possibility is always there.
Cycle of life Nina…..sometimes it travels at lightning pace, and sometimes it slows to a crawl. Part of a master plan or random, it is what it is. I love to hear from you (and see you, all) whenever I can. Makes me smile when I see your blog come up in my email. Enjoy this “down” period and your sweet old kitty while you can and look back fondly when things go pear shaped.
Thanks Sue. I think of you guys often, and our time together. I know you’ve been through your own down periods with ageing pets. And you’ve both always managed them with grace & love. Cycle of life, like you said…
hanna soule says
Your honesty, dear Nina, is stunning, and so is your surrender to “cosmic plans.” You are teaching the lesson of non-doing, of “being with” what’s right infront of you, and I am sure that everyone of your huge enthusiastic crowd of followers can and will relate to this message, be touched by it and support you – even if you would not write for a while. Who knows what might emerge from this pause/respite you decided to take, no matter if it was kind of “forced” on you or is the result of your insight and strong commitment to your chosen family.
You do live (in my opinion) in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Inspiration is everywhere when we listen – as you know so well. Wishing you a “20/20-clear-vision-New Year!” – Hanna
Thank you so much for those kind and insightful words. And yes, you are right. We are living in a beautiful place. We are VERY lucky to be here.
In following you I have always admired your care and concern of all of your paws. They have been very lucky to have entered into your family. I know this is a hard time for you personally and creatively. As I’ve heard in the past the best day in your life is when you get your pet in the worst day is when you have to say goodbye. I hope Taggart gets better and that his traveling days aren’t over. Enjoy your downtime, you have done so much in your life you have a lot to sit and reflect on.
Oh yes, those best and worst days. This is not the first time I will have been through this process, and it never gets easier. And I’ll do my best to reflect….admittedly I’m not very good at that 🙂
Betty Marvin says
I know exactly how you feel about having wheels under you to fuel inspiration, I have the same problem. However, here’s a thought…
I absolutely love reading your blog, but it does tend more toward a “macro” approach. How about taking a more “micro” look at where you live in France. Like a lot of us in the US, I yearn to know more about France and her people. I understand if you need to be more discreet about your exact location, but how about sharing some of the history of the region or even stories from some of the residents? I’d enjoy knowing more about it and them. Just a bit of encouragement to keep writing.
Those are good tips, Betty. I’ll mull over it. I do think I need to change my approach with blogging, especially as we are RVing less…
Your paws are some of the luckiest paws on the planet. Your commitment to them is amazing. Take what ever time you need to find your inspiration to write. We will all be here when you continue with your photography and blogging. Hope your 2020 is wonderful no matter how you spend it. Good luck to your paws this year.
Thank you for the kind words Carolyn.
Reader friends are like old friends – we pick up where we left off, whenever we get the chance to connect. Know that you’re loved and *missed* when you go quiet – but that it – for me – puts a little zip into my social media time when I do get to hear from you of you and yours and your adventures. Sending a little prayer for you all. Savor the days together! I bet there’s plenty right there to savor, just under your nose!
Thank you Renee…lovely words.
Cynthia Blaylock says
Nina, I so appreciate that you are putting the kitties needs first. We are doing the same thing with our 85 lb. rescue pit bull. He has never been a good traveler in our RV, despite me trying all sorts of remedies to relax him. He loves it when we arrive at a new destination, but he hates the process of getting there – he insists on standing the entire time – in between the driver and passenger seats. But now that he is at least 10 years old (you never know with rescues) and having had tie-back surgery last year, he really can’t handle more than a 90 minute trip. That makes it really hard to cover much territory! So we take short trips all the way from Orange County to San Diego County for the time being. But they are family and give us so much joy, accommodating their geriatric needs is the least we can do. Happy New Year to all of you!!
Awwww….what a sweetie your pit bull is, and how good of you to take care of him like that. That’s tough, especially since he has both travel anxiety and (now) the tie-back surgery. Your approach sounds perfect. A little bit of travel, but also lots of love for doggie.
Angie Quantrell says
You are such good pet parents! It’s hard enough to see our pets age and get closer to the Rainbow Bridge. You are doing such a wonderful job honoring your pets and the joy they’ve brought to your life. Blessings as you follow this new road.
Thank for the kind words Angie. We feel it’s all part of the Karmic cycle…they’ve given and taken care of us for years, now it’s time we do the same for them. Of course it’s never easy when you’re in the “carer” position, but I guess that’s also why it’s Karma.
I love the way you guys feel about your animals. There are lots of trips we would like to take but we aren’t leaving Emmi with someone else for that length of time. It kills me to leave her with Michael when I take trips alone–she is so attached to both of us. But, we would have it any other way–she is our girl! Great blog Nina!
I know you understand us! Emmi is a complete part of your family, just like our paws are to us. She’s a true adventure dog, as long as her parents are with her 🙂
Sue Malone says
You are the kind of caring parents that puts your kids first, and we have all watched from afar…and even up close sometimes. Of course you will lay low for Taggart. The last year I had Jeremy, my 18 year old cat, I wasn’t sure if we could manage our 3 month Florida sojourn, but we did, and I have precious memories of him on that trip, including a not so precious memory of a traumatized cat in a crate with an inability to control his bowels. I will always remember Manatee Springs campground for the crazy cat bath more than the beautiful spring. So I get it! Staying home will be easier on everyone. I also really!! get the writing thing, I need to be moving for it to work, or at least in some kind of trauma. If things are moving and there is no trauma…what to write about! Raindrops on the winter grass and steamy trips to the hot tub? wonderful stuff, but not so much to read about. Good to hear from you, Nina and of course we will be waiting for whatever comes next
Oh my….I just envisioned that whole bowel incident in my mind. A permanent memory, I am sure. This past trip (in Sept) Taggart had a few multi-level throw-up incidents on our bed, which of course happened in the middle of the night as we were sound asleep. Permanent memories those too….
And what an insightful comment about trauma! It’s crazy, but the incidents that happen in life (while we are traveling, or not) are what make for the stories. Don’t know that I’d really thought deeply about that one before.
Diane Borcyckowski says
Dear Ones, I feel such gratitude that there are people in the world like you – so caring and kind to your animals. You recently gave me advice about my Senior kitty with hyperthyroidism. I just had another blood test and he is “very stable” so says our vet. I, too, have an inner sworn “contract” with my pets/kids to be with them and for them until the very end. Stillness and silence are actually very valuable experiences and trust you will find your way with them as long as it’s necessary. Both your kitties are beautiful – so photogenic. May you thrive in 2020 doing what needs to be done. Blessings!
Diane, I am SO happy to hear your baby is stable on the hyperT meds. Bringing down those T4 levels to normal will greatly extend his life and well-being. May he have VERY many good, healthy years with you.
I completely understand and empathize with your current 2020 concerns! Our dog is also reaching what might be the end of her life, with multiple health problems. Her health was one of the primary reasons we sold our motorhome in 2018, after years of living on the road, and we too have cut way back on travel. Even though we are currently living in a somewhat “exotic” place (Mexico) with our dear paws, we have been in the same spot for over a year now and are limited to day trips. Like you, we won’t board our girl, so unless we can get somewhere and back in a day while she rests at home, it doesn’t happen. We had gotten so used to moving about frequently, that it has been strange to be in one spot for some time, without the ability to travel whenever we wanted or felt the need to get away. But, family, paws included, comes first. You are wonderful pet parents, and you should do exactly what feels right to you. The blog and your readers will be here when and if you are ready to write more, whether you are traveling or not, so don’t feel a minute of guilt. Just enjoy your lovely life, your paws, and write/photograph when/if you are so inspired. And if not, that’s okay too. All the best to you all in the new year!
Oh gosh Emily, we are going through exactly the same thing. It’s so tough to see our pets age, but it can also be a struggle to stay still, when your mind and body wants to travel. We’re like you though. The pets come first, so we do what’s best for them.
I wish you all the best with your old doggie. May she have lots of peaceful time with you. Love to her and your whole family.
Thank you, Nina, and the same to you and yours. xoxox
Pamela Wright says
We can plan all we want but we never know what tomorrow brings with it. Your kitties have given you a lot of cuddling years. It is their time now to be comfortable. They certainly have been world travelers but now they are homebodies. We do understand the whole blog struggle. John is going through that now. He doesn’t write just to write. We’ve been to Tucson several times so he sees no need to repeat himself. So we might not even get out a blog even though we are on the road again.
I totally get it. You guys have also blogged for years now, and it’s linked to RVing. It’s tough to see it any other way. That said, DO tell John to blog when you go out again…I need those RV pic fixes from the US 🙂
Deanna Tolliver says
Hi Nina. Everyone else has verbalized my sentiments about how you guys are committed to your four-legged friends, so I don’t have a lot to add about that, except that as a veterinarian, I am wishing a lot more pet owners were like you. I’m wondering, however, if you could find some middle ground. Could your dad or another family member/close friend care for Taggart, in your house, while you traveled for a few days at a time? I’m not familiar with how close to you anyone lives, so maybe this isn’t an option. Also, I totally agree with another writer that even though you may not be traveling much, you are a good writer, and we would love to read more about your lifestyle, your area, etc. Don’t stop writing for us!
Thanks for your thoughts Deanna! My dad likes our paws, but he couldn’t do all the stuff that’s needed for Taggart at the moment. There’s just too much going on. It’s just a phase…a frustrating and sad one…but we need to be here for now.
exploRVistas - Jim and Diana says
Family first, Nina! No need to worry about your readers…we will be here. We’ve slowed a bit on the blog since getting to Florida, so we get it about not having things to write about…except rocket launches. 🙂
Gotta love a good rocket launch! One of the best things about the Space Coast IMO. Enjoy!
Much love to you and the paws. We are missing you guys big time this season as we return to the desert.
We’ve made a similar decision with Kiki too… we used to be able to leave her with loved ones for a few weeks at a time while we did non-cat travel adventures. But she now has separation anxiety when away from us for too long. So, we’ve resolved to only do adventures she can join us for.
Oh how these fuzz balls own our hearts.
May you find creative inspiration in other ways during this next chapter.
Totally get you. If Kiki wants her parents around all the time, Kiki rules 🙂 Enjoy your fab time out West…wish I was there with you.
Gerri Lilly says
My heart goes out to you as your fur babies age. It certainly takes the joy out of planning and traveling. We lost our precious dog Gracie, and it’s like all the joy went out of life. Trying to recover and hoping that 2020 will be a good year for all of us.
Oh I’m so sorry about your Gracie. I wish that losing a pet was easier, but it never is. We know their lives are short on this earth, and yet we cannot help but grieve most deeply when they their time is up. The love we share with out pets is so deep, so fierce that almost nothing compares. I hope you find the peace that you need to find joy again. Your Gracie will be with you, always.
Yea, our journey though life doesn’t go as planned does it.
On December 31st, just two days before we were to leave for 3 months in the SW, Tula (Mazzie’s “replacement”) and her puppy friend (also 7 months old) both crashed into Holly from behind while on a walk. Holly fell and landed perfectly on a pointed rock, resulting in a broken hip. Oh-well, I guess Bend isn’t a bad place to spend the winter.
Best wishes with your journey and “Hi” to Paul.
Oh MAN….UGH!! I’m so sorry to hear that. Really hope the hip recovery goes smoothly and you can continue your adventures. Love to you both (and Tula too….the new paw family member).
Denise Marie Colby says
It’s okay to take that break once in awhile. It proven that when the mind is under stress, so is the body. We all worry about our traveling companions. For us it’s our cat, Kitty Kat. She is older, but actually does better on the road than at home. We didn’t think she would be able to handle this road trip, but she has turned in around and is flurishing. She loves to sit on the sofa and watch out the windows. I think it gives her hope, that life is bigger than a box of chocolates.
I wish you all well and hope the transition is easy and pain free.
Awwwww….so happy your senior kitty is enjoying her time on the road. May you have many more years travel with her.
Thank you for sharing this information and for once again being such an inspirational animal lover. My 18 year old Buddy the cat is one who keeps inspiring me to keep going! He is the most amazing cat (a Ginger one like Taggart, there is just something about this color!). And I also understand your desire to reconsider what is happening with the blog. The golden days of your blog, at least for me, were learning of your RV travel and to this day I am going to it to review some of your campground reviews on the east coast as we are setting sail in our RV this March to the east coast. Please know that no matter what you decide to do that you have impacted so many of us in so many different ways. I credit you and a core group (the Wynns, Technomadia, RoadsLessTraveled) that inspired us to take on the full time RV Life. Bravo for all you have done and please give us some updates when you can! I also have been greatly inspired by your photography!
How lovely to hear your kitty is 18 years old. What a FINE age, and a beautiful ginger to boost. May you have many more travel years with him! Enjoy the East Coast. We had some good years out there and truly enjoyed exploring from FL to ME. My heart will forever be out West, but I enjoyed the East too.
Jodee Gravel says
It is a blessed life that allows us to pace ourselves by what is most important, family. I also believe change comes to us when we need it, although we too often rail against it. You and Paul always seem to accept what comes with grace and good humor and are generous to share it all with us. I have no doubt you will find inspiration in where you are and with what creative adventures you pursue. Looking forward to seeing what that looks like :-))
Indeed you are right Jodee. I was talking to a neighbor friend some time ago and her response was very simple “you are where you need to be right now”. I’ve thought about that comment a lot.
Tami Fox says
Thank you for being you. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog the past couple of years and all the inspiration you have given to us in regards to travel and living in an RV full time. Best wishes for your future and I hope I still get to hear from you occasionally.
Thank you and best of travels to you!!!
Well, I’m with Betty above. Could we see some of your area of France? I have a particular interest in local markets, grocery stores and street scenes, if that would not be too invasive. I do love a good grocery store, the Julius Meinl in Prague was simply swoon worthy.
Happy the cats are hanging in there, I think they’re buoyed in their golden years by your love and attention. We should all be so lucky.
I’m going to give it a try Allison. I always think my stationary life is so boring….or rather would make for boring blogs, but perhaps there’s something in it. I’ll give it a try and see…
Aaron and Beth says
You brought some amazing memories of rving with our old fur babies back as I read this today. I promise for my 2020 travels to take some of your advice and slow down and enjoy the one fur baby we have still with us. We’ll make the 2020 summer rv trip revolve around her! Pet friendly places, for drinking eating and playing! God bless you and Paul, hope you continue to write as you feel up to it.
Sounds perfect!! And I know the memories you make with your fur-family will be precious! Best of travels to you and your paws.