Editor’s note: Jim and Fernanda Dorsey recently moved to Richmond Hill and are building a house in Waterways. They’ve had so much fun getting here it seemed a shame not to do introduce them to our readers.
Q: As concisely as you can, tell us a little bit about yourselves. Where you’re from, what you did until you got out of the rat race?
A: (Jim) I Grew up in Michigan. Been living in California for the past 35 years. Travelled the world for the past 18 months. Moved to Richmond Hill.
I spent 31 years in the apparel industry specializing in marketing, business development, account management and client/ vendor relations.
During that time I had the good fortune to work with a wide variety of brands, companies, museums and non-profits including The North Face, Timberland, Patagonia, Esprit, GAP, Banana Republic, Malibu Shirts, LACMA, MOMA, MOCA, Panavision, The Cousteau Society, ONE.org, American Rivers, Oceana, Rails-to-Trails and many more.
Fernanda attended film school before taking a sharp turn to build a career as a product manager working for various internet, telecommunications, and tech companies.
Q: What prompted you to give up your home and regular life and start traveling?
A: In our 25 years of marriage we have travelled extensively, yet our vacations have always been limited to 2-3 weeks.
We decided that, after working for decades, it was time to take a sabbatical and see the world over a longer period of time.
While we both enjoyed our respective professions we wanted to experience different countries and cultures through the lens of travelers, not as tourists. In addition, the housing market in Southern California was strong thus making it a good time to sell our home. Also, we were several years into the development of Playground Earth, our online travel publication, and as such we wanted to continue building the publication while travelling. This not only gave us some real time experience by writing about the various places we visited, but it also added a layer of purpose to our travels.
While some people may have viewed what we did as a risk we saw it differently, knowing that we could always return to the US, buy another home and restart our lives. For us, it was the perfect time in our lives to take a long term break.
In a nutshell, it was time to take a break from the day-to-day grind and see more of the world.
Q: Where did the idea for your business come from and what is it you do?
A: Fernanda started Playground Earth as an online travel company.
As a Product Manager she has the skills and experience to envision, design and build online platforms. She builds and maintains the site and I manage the content strategy, editorial guidelines and business development. Together, we define the overall vision, strategy and ongoing goals.
The name Playground Earth came up during a long hike in Hawaii celebrating that we live in an amazing playground.
Realizing that each of our vacations offered us unique experiences along with fascinating travel stories, we started taking notes and creating journals. With time I found that travel writing was my passion and would be a perfect path for me when I retired from a 31 year career in the apparel business. My philosophy is that we all have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves at any age. In my case, I found a way to transform my profession into a vocation.
Q: What are your goals as far as the business is concerned?
A: Our goal is to build a platform and marketplace to connect traveler’s with adventure companies. We invite visitors and customers to “Explore the world with us!™ ” via our original travel stories and directory listings.
Q: What made you decide to move to Waterways and what’s been your take on this part of the world so far?
A: We returned to the US in March of 2021 after 18 months of travel and began our search for a new place to settle down.
Our search began in and around Charleston, South Carolina. While touring different developments in the greater Charleston area Waterways surfaced in our various online searches. We were attracted to the development and the approach that the developers are taking with the land. We drove down from South Carolina and upon driving into Waterways for the first time we knew that we would live there.
Having never travelled to this part of the country (let alone live here!) we are both fascinated by the land, the water and the culture as well as Savannah and the surrounding area.
To us this is another adventure in an already adventurous life together.
We have found the people to be friendly, kind and welcoming, which to us is very refreshing. We feel very fortunate to have found a new community that embraces diversity in all its forms.
Plus, being a car guy Jim loves the once-a-month cars and coffee event held at the Richmond Hill History Museum!
Q: What’s your advice to others who may be thinking they’d like to do something similar?
A: We collectively agree that if anyone has the time and the means to take a long term break from their “normal” lives then they should make a plan to travel for at least 6 months. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a global excursion as there are many places in the United States worth visiting. The larger point is to get out and see the world, meet new people, experience different cultures and simply to live without the constraints of a 9 to 5 existence. Also, one doesn’t necessarily need to sell their house as we did as there are many options to lease your home, house swap etc. while travelling.
With the current expanding trend of remote work it is also possible for many people to live wherever they choose while remaining gainfully employed if that is their choice.
Travelling long term offers a much wider perspective as time slows down, allowing the traveler to get into the web of life in different places.
Our own experience living on an island (Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal) for a year gave us the opportunity to experience, and pay attention to, the changing of the seasons. We were able to observe the fields turn from tall grass to hay and then to the planting and harvesting of corn.
We witnessed storms of impossible strength and fury and nights so quiet you could hear your own heart beating.
To be sure...we did receive a wide range of responses when we shared our exodus with family and friends. Those responses ranged from “wow...you guys are nuts” to “wow...I have always wanted to do that”.
At the end of the day we went with the “wow...I have always wanted to do that” route! And we will never regret having done so.
For more information about Playground Earth, visit www.playground-earth.com.