Full Circle at Circle M

We wrapped up the first season of our full-time traveling life at the Circle M Thousand Trails in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For the time being, Pennsylvania is our “home” state – where we have our mailing address, our vehicles registered, and most of our family this side of the Atlantic. Returning to Pennsylvania brought our first leg full circle.

state of independence

Circle M

Our first impressions as we pulled in to Circle M on a sunny Saturday were that it was crowded and cramped. The sites felt small and we drove around for a while before finding one we were willing to call home for 3 weeks. It was loud and everyone seemed to be having some kind of party. But it’s the closest Thousand Trails to where we wanted to be, and after all that driving, we were ready to be still for a while. So we decided to give it a chance.

We spent the day Sunday elsewhere with family, and when we came back in the evening, it was like a ghost town. Everyone had cleared out and it was calm and peaceful. That was when we figured out how popular Circle M is on the weekends, but only on the weekends. This was a lot more doable.

The pool at Circle M is indoors, so school and pool days weren’t dependent on the fickle spring weather. At times, the hot tub was even working. It usually wasn’t, and after it was fixed it often didn’t stay working for very long, but when it worked it was great. There was a lounge in the same building with good wifi, helping us to get caught up on working and blogging. We went to the pool nearly every day. And this was where Peter learned to swim independently for the first time!

first time swimming

Too impatient to wait for his swim vest that day, he decided to hop in to the shallow end and give it a try!

There is also a really good playground, mini-golf, a game room, a snack bar, and other activities, though most of the buildings are only open on weekends. It’s clear why this is such a popular place for locals to spend weekends. We also enjoyed taking walks along the Conestoga River.

Three weeks was the longest we’d stayed anywhere since we started traveling, so Circle M started to feel like home. Despite our first impressions, we really enjoyed our stay. Its proximity to friends and family essentially guarantees that we’ll be back there from time to time.

The First Leg

Altogether we were in the US for 7 months on this first leg of our journey. It’s hard to understand how it seems like such a short time, while also feeling like a lifetime. Time is like that, isn’t it? We spent the first month finding our new home and our tow vehicle, Herb. The second month was spent settling in and finding everything we needed for our new home. We pushed through some cold weather and learned how to thaw our water lines in order to spend Christmas with our Pennsylvania family, and then we raced Winter Storm Helena down the East Coast until we finally reached the balmy breezes of Florida.

During these 5 months we visited 17 different states, sometimes just for a night and other times for several weeks. The majority of our time was spent in Florida and Texas, and after a decade of harsh Swedish winters, the novelty of a warm evening stroll in January never really wore off. We visited treasured old friends and met many new friends. All the while, we got to watch our kids growing and learning in amazing ways. Our newborn grew into a baby who could sit up, crawl, and eat solid foods. Our newly minted 5 year old learned to read, swim, and fry meatballs. The big sister learned how to multiply, “do the monkey bars” and build a fire. Seeds were planted in all three that will take longer to grow, but we can’t wait to see them bloom.

after swim crash

Wiped out after a swim in the pool

 

tooth fairy

The tooth fairy also visited us several times while we were on the road. Good thing she always knew where to find us!

There are so many things we’re looking forward to as we prepare to start a new travel season, but this first one will always hold a special place in our hearts.

A Foster Family

Eventually it was time to drop off our rig with its “foster family” for the summer. Friends of ours stored and cared for both vehicles, and even took it on a few adventures of their own. Storing an RV can be expensive, and there are always risks of water damage, mold, and pest infestations when you leave it empty and unattended for that long. What a relief to know that it would be well taken care of and enjoyed!

 

And so, with most of our things in boxes and our home in good hands, all that remained was to pack our bags and board a plane bound for Sweden. Seven months to the day from when we landed in New York, we were headed back to where we came from. So much was the same and yet so much was different. And once again, we had come full circle.

 

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