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Your New Neighbors

Posted by on August 5, 2011

It was almost 13 years ago when Monique invited me to join her for The Whole Being Weekend in an artsy mountain-high community called Idyllwild. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was going to be a test. If I fit in with the folks at that retreat and felt at home in Idyllwild, she would consider continuing our 3-month-old relationship. We were married four months later.

Barry clearing the driveway.

She had always loved Idyllwild, having visited often over the years for a variety of social and spiritual events. Having spent three years living in Silverado, a mountain enclave in Orange County, I took to the community like a strawberry dipped in chocolate. Mmmm.

Life went on for us. We lived the standard suburban life in San Clemente. Monique taught and counseled. I left home each morning at 4:30 to drive 60 miles to work on the 405. That was okay, but even with our stickered Prius, it took two or more hours a night to return to the nest, after which I usually was too tired for dinner. We looked forward to tent camping about once a month, and spent time with family and friends. Even after seven years in San Clemente, the only neighbors we knew were the girls on one side of our home.

On September 8, 2005, I dragged myself into the house, where I found Monique in a family room recliner. “What do you think about selling the house and traveling in an RV fulltime?” Before I had a chance to think this out, I asked, “Can we afford it?” She assured me that we could.

The house sold on June 1, 2006, with all the furniture in place. We had endured the pain of selling or giving away just about everything else we owned, and what was left was crammed into a storage unit in the desert.

I’ll talk about other details of our life over the past five years in future blog posts, but to continue the introduction of the Zanders to Idyllwild, I’ll begin by telling you that in the past five years, we have parked our travel trailer in 34 states and three Canadian provinces. We spent the winter of 2009-10 in Key West and the summer of 2010 on an 8,000-mile round trip to Alaska. We’ve called 40 of the 58 National Parks home for several days or a week.

Arriving in the Yukon.


In 2010, I was invited to submit articles for the Good Sam Club’s daily news blog. The 36 or so postings on the Alaskan trip earned me the opportunity to write a story for Good Sam’s magazines, and recently I have accepted the role of regular columnist for Trailer Life Magazine. That has significance to our introductory article.

Jump to December 2010. While staying with family in Huntington Beach, we took a ride up The Hill to Idyllwild. Always interested in getting off the main roads, we took a few hours to just ride around and actually spent about 45 minutes listening to Joe McNabb at Idyllwild Realty tell us why fire danger and remoteness from healthcare aren’t major drawbacks. Then we left.

Now leap ahead to January 2011. I awoke one morning with the thought, “Why not return to the mountain, sit down with Joe to tell him what we would be interested in buying. As I explained to Monique, we don’t know where the market is right now, but if we bought a place sometime in the next year, we could surely ride the market up over future decades. Monique began immediately to tell me the requirements to impart to Joe – a list of eight items, including being on a snowplow friendly street.

Death Valley Mountain

It didn’t work out exactly as we had planned. When we sat down with Joe, he said, “I think I’ve got a place like that.” A few hours later, we were the highest of three bidders on the cabin. So here we are.

Back to the “significance” of the writing. As much as we love our cabin, we also love traveling around North America pulling our travel trailer. As you can imagine, trying to write 12 columns and other articles of interest to RVers from Fern Valley would limit my perspective, so, while we dread the thought of moving the all essentials of life back into a 28-foot RV, we will continue to travel.

In the coming months, we look forward to telling you about our adventures on the highways of North America, always trying to groom articles for the unique folks of Idyllwild. Interwoven in the blogs will be articles relating our perspective on what makes Idyllwild so special. For instance, we already know about 50 times more people here than we did in San Clemente.

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