Over the last 25 years, we have always traveled with a dog. Mercy “Bucket”… a 75 pound German shepherd was an awesome travel companion and member of our little family. She passed on Mother’s Day in 2008 at 15 years old. After a short grieving period we got Gandaulf. We were looking for another Adventure Dog that could keep up with our travels but this time without the size and hairiness of a shepherd. The Corgis are a working breed just like the shepherds, with a lot of the same mannerisms, easy to train and always out to please.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Gandaulf came to us as a rescue at 10 weeks old. How could a dog with such short legs keep up with our hiking, climbing, rafting and travel abroad? He would get high centered on the Sunday papers in driveways on our walks, high centered on tennis balls… but boy could he jump! It wasn’t long before his first 2 mile hike, camping trips and rafting/fishing trips. He was a natural in the outdoors.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Gandaulf is now 7 years old and shows no sign of slowing down. He has been to more countries than most humans. Every year he has his own calendar showcasing his travels… he’s a natural in front of the camera. This adventure will be a test of his patience and travel savvy.
We have never entered another country via driving across the border. There is a bit of trepidation on our part. We see blogs and FB posts of people traveling with their dogs. Traveling by airplanes is such a hassle with the red tape and vaccinations he has to go through. Poor guy… but he is a trooper. We hope crossing a border is no big deal…
We would love to hear from anyone out there with such experience for some pointers. Dos and don’ts, etc…
If anyone our age tells you that they are not afraid to do something new, give up everything they have, quit their job, sell their homes, cash out their retirement accounts and leave whatever family and friends they have, I’d say they are not centered in reality.
As human beings we resist change. People cling to religion because it is a constant in their lives. They stay in their homes till they die or they can no longer live alone.
We are at a jumping off point that is like jumping off a 700 foot cliff with a wing suit as safety equipment. Oh… and with no prior training. Do not hesitate. Yes websites, blogs, Facebook and many other publications exist that make this journey a bit more manageable… but the actual “doing” is scary as hell!
Twenty years ago even thinking about doing this would have been a daunting undertaking. Where do you start? Where is it safe to cross a border? Where is it safe to spend the night? What do you need to cross a border? The world was a huge unknown for the most part. The US state department made you so afraid to venture into other countries. As a visual learner, I find the task at hand much easier to comprehend. The how to exists out there. YouTube, Blog sites, Facebook pages for expats, AIRBNB, VRBO, where to go and how to manuals are everywhere.
When we were younger this would’ve been an absolute thrilling notion, like when we hit the road back in 1993/4. Cell phones were new on the market and very expensive (for what they were). IPads were a futuristic concept. Hell a portable laptop computer was even just a glimmer in someone’s imagination. We were kids… we threw caution to the wind and just did it. Ahhhh… for the innocence of youth…
This time we have so many options… some more fraught with danger than others. Could we be happy settling down in some mountain town in Ecuador, Columbia, Peru? Become beach bums in Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, and Thailand? Travel the world from ‘point A to point B’ with no time limits? Will our vagabonding lifestyle be possible as planned? Best made plans are often laid to waist when put into action… still we continue to put one foot in front of the other. I continue to wake with butterflies in my stomach, that’s the “more mature age” jitters… The Fear Factor
When Chris and I decided to “hit the road”… we vacillated between flying to one destination, settling in for a short while… getting healthy and traveling out from a home-base. In October 2016, we bought a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser and a light went off. Why not go Overlanding? Drive down into Mexico and through all of Central America, west coast and back up the East Coast… and wherever the road takes us.
Some modifications needed to be done in order for this stock Land Cruiser to be road worthy in Central America. We started out with an ARB Sahara front bumper. Next came upgrading the headlights to a set of LEDs… don’t want to hit a cow in the middle of the night… Next came beefing up the suspension, not too radical after all we are a couple middle aged women and a short legged Corgi. We put on a full set of “KYB Excel-G Shocks”, beefed up the tie rod ends to “Proforged Chassis Parts Tie Rod Ends” and upgraded the tires to “Yokohama Geolander A/Ts” for a nice deep tread and strong sidewalls for off-roading… but not a noisy road tire.
How did she get her name? She’s copper penny color… pennies are LUCKY…
Lucky will become our Adventure Cruzer. Still to come… a “Geo Adventure GT-180” fold out roof top tent with annex, interior build for storage… solar panel and backup deep cycle battery with an 800 watt power inverter for charging laptops, phones and running our “Edgestar 43 quart fridge“. A mounted lock box for securing personal items during travel. Off-road lights and an 8,000 lb winch. Two middle aged gals and a Corgi as the icing on the cake.
It is something we all put up with every year if we live in a place that the snow flies and the sun hides its warm, shinning face for days and weeks on end. The cold winter blues. The longing for that sun and warmth, longer days and for old man winter to quit dumping ton and tons of snow on us.
One of the reasons we chose Central and South America as our destination is to run away from the grey winter days which seem to go on forever. It’s funny how even our skin looses the life glow like the trees loose their leaves. It is only the second week of January and I am done with winter… but it’s not done with me.
I dream of warm beaches, colorful trees blooming in bright orange and yellows and green grass. Tropical breezes and an abundance of critters hootin’ and a hollerin’ swinging through the trees and flying in colorful waves through the sky.
The older I get the more my mind and body crave this warm stimulation. Freedom from the stress of white knuckle driving on snow and ice packed roads. Freedom from the back breaking shovels of cold wet slop on top of the old black frozen slop from a few days before. My very soul longs to feel the sun on my body.
So the biggest challenge that faces us is liquidating everything we own. It is amazing to me that two people can collect so much “stuff”. Our first house was 1300 sq. feet. It was two bedrooms and a living room and a kitchen… simple and never too cluttered. As with the American dream, and the desire to pay as little to the Man as possible we moved into a 2600 sq. foot home. More rooms and more “stuff”. Our third home, the one we currently occupy, 6500 sq. feet and even more “stuff”. Lots and lots of “STUFF”. The bigger the space to more room to accumulate.
If you asked me to name two or three things I could not live without, I would tell you some trinket, object or maybe a favorite bed. Ask me what I would grab if my house burnt to the ground… I would answer my GF, dog and cat, and perhaps iPad and cell phone. Isn’t it sad that aside from living things I would probably rank my media devices over anything else. Actually my past 20 years is stored on those devices so it would be like my grandmother grabbing her family photos and memoirs. Of course we do have “the cloud” so these devices are actually just material items.
Last year we began to eliminate the clutter. Can I tell you how freeing it is! Just last weekend we filled two 50 gallon garbage cans just from one room in our house. We have donated clothes, blankets, pillows, and other miscellaneous sundries that have been gathering dust for years. We are down to just the bare needs in the kitchen. Our closet of clothes that once spilled into two walk in closets has shrunk into less than one. Of course a girl must have her shoes so it has been hard for Chris to part with those, even though she hasn’t worn them in years.
Our goal is to have everything we own fit into a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser. Like a turtle our home will be on our backs. This is not our first rodeo, we’ve done this before in 1992-93 when we hit the road in a 24′ fifth wheel trailer for over 10 months. We traveled all over the USA until we ran out of money. This time we are MUCH older and wiser and have more “STUFF”. This time we will be gone for 10-15 years or longer, till death do us part… This time the emphasis will be on spiritual growth and the accumulation of memories rather than treasures.
This is the post excerpt.
What a great question, and one I’ve asked myself many times. When I first thought about it I envisioned the three of us driving on the highways and byways of Mexico down to Panama, stopping at beaches and pitching our rooftop tent. Wake up in the morning and hit the road again… My mind just couldn’t wrap itself around the idea that we don’t have any place to be at any particular time. This is an alien thought to someone with a full time job and daily responsibilities. We call this idea a “vacation”… a bit of time set aside to go recreate somewhere away from home with a finite timeline.
For us it will be more of a vagabond lifestyle…with means. Belongings “on our back” or in our 1998 Land Cruiser and all the time in the world to explore destinations unknown to us for now. It will be a serious unwind from 25 years in the same business. Time to reflect on our finite existence in an undetermined amount of time…as much as it takes. To enjoy creature comforts as they present themselves, a hot shower, flush toilet, real bed, and depending on how long we’ve been on the road, people. Time enough to connect to our surroundings without the ever looming time crunch of a “vacation”. It will be a new lifestyle not set in any boundaries of time or space.
I can tell you when I originally mentioned this idea to Chris I scared myself. At first it will be hard to just relax. Then there are the unknowns, which actually is what adds spice to life and the journey, but is frightening. We’ve done it before but in a country where we felt “safe”…for some reason. With propaganda and warnings from our own government telling us it is not “safe” to travel out of our little cushy country, it makes it tough to not be looking over your shoulder.
There is no rule book. No instruction manual. No “How to for Idiots”. It’s like jumping off a pier with 100 lbs of weight strapped to your waist and having faith that you won’t sink straight to the bottom of the ocean. It’s a combination of faith mixed with a bit of crazy. There’s only one way to do it. JUST DO IT! Look forward and embrace the unknown.