I thought we were adventuresome two late bloomers, but some friends of mine, Tim and Tracy Ruckman outdid us last year by far. I followed their tent-camping, cross-country trip via Tracy’s blog posts and was amazed how these two discarded the stereotypes of the senior adult years. Tracy’s photography skills documented their challenging journey and together with her writing, created a book you won’t want to miss. Tracy gives us some highlights and pictures to whet your appetite. Her book will inspire you to take something off the back burner and “Just Do It.”
Dreams off the Back Burner
|Tim & Tracy Ruckman
“Ever dreamed of doing something so big, so epic that seems impossible, yet the idea remains on the back burner?
At the end of 2018, my husband and I received difficult news that forced us to make some life-changing decisions. We began tossing around questions and ideas as we grappled with changes coming our way. Was it time to take that outlandish dream off the back burner and make it a reality?
Tim is 72 years old, I’m 56. One of our back-burner dreams had always been to travel around the country, but we’d never thought it was something we could do. We’d always focused on what we didn’t have, rather than on what we did, but when faced with these sudden changes, our perspective changed.
We didn’t own an RV, nor could we afford one. But we drove an SUV, and being lifelong campers, we knew tents were affordable. We didn’t have savings, but we had Tim’s small retirement income and my small business income (I work online), so it was more than nothing. We weren’t in top physical shape (unless you consider round a shape?), but we could still get around and being more active would be a healthy improvement. Our kids were grown and on their own. By the time we finished listing all that we had, our decision was made.
We sold or gave away most of our belongings and put the sentimental stuff in storage. We bought a used tent (big mistake!) and packed our gear into and on top of the SUV.
On January 8, 2019, we turned over keys on the rental home we’d lived in for eight years and our back-burner dream became a reality. We hit the road, heading south and west, trying to escape the winter weather.
We spent a total of 189 days tent camping our way around the country. We camped in national parks, like the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota. We camped in state and city parks, rest areas, Walmart parking lots, and alongside the Erie Canal. We visited lakes, rivers, the Atlantic, deserts, plains, and caverns. Niagara Falls was never on our bucket list, thinking we’d never have the opportunity go, but I’m so glad we made it!
During the first three months of our trip, we stayed in motels nine nights – some due to weather, some due to exhaustion, once due to health. But from April to July, not a single motel stay for the entire leg – I guess we toughened up a bit.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to all the states. But we visited 36 states! Twenty-three of them were new for Tim, 18 new for me. We saw places we never knew existed, ate food we’d never tried, and experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities we never imagined before we left home. We checked off many items on our individual bucket lists, but we added twice as many more for future trips.
Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.”
Tracy Ruckman is an author, artist, and book publisher. Her book, Go West, His Momma Said, detailing the first leg of the Ruckman’s tent-camping journey released January 8 and is available on Amazon. Tracy’s artwork is available for purchase on FineArt America. She loves to connect, and invites you to follow her online: