Here I am sitting on a rock in the middle of the NV desert. A minute ago I was driving and found myself just wanting to “get there”. I thought to myself, “why can’t you just stop?” Surrounded by all this beauty and the grandeur of the desert in all its vastness, emptiness, and its own beauty. Why can’t I stop? I finally pulled over and found this rock and had the desire to write. Writing makes me stop, turn inwards and listen. It tunes out the outside, complicated world and makes me calm down.
I hear the breeze blowing thru the dry brush. I feel the vastness of the blue sky. I feel the warmth of the sun contrasting the coolness of the rock I am sitting on. I hear my inner demons and the battle that I am waging on the inside. I feel the sadness of being alone, but not lonely. I feel the struggle of an inner peace scratching and clawing its way to the surface of my being.
It is a perfect 72 degrees. The sun shining brilliantly in a near cloudless sky. The desert surrounding me shows off billions of years of weathering the turmoils of life. Life of a desert. There are hundreds of colors if you look close enough. Birds sing their songs of the day if you stop and be still. When all stops the silence is deafening. I can hear the tapping of the keyboard, the rush of blood in my ears, my heartbeat and every breath I take. A car passing by breaks my trance and I must move on. A bit calmer and more centered than just a short time ago.
I found a trail that lead to the top of a ridge for some 360 views. Again the silence is broken by the sound of the wind in my ears and the sound of the passing cars below. Winding thru this landscape is a black ribbon that allows even novices into this stark landscape. I take a sip of water and am reminded that is this one element that is lacking here. It is the one thing that brings life and death to the desert. A gentle burst of rain is quenching. A sudden downpour can equal death and destruction as it upsets the tiny microclimate, causing run off, flash floods and great land disturbances that shape the ever changing dynamics of the desert.
The mountains of the desert are like folds in the earth’s ancient crust. Others are like ancient sea reefs. Others are great monoliths of long extinct volcanoes. They all loom high above the desert floor and are haloed by the true blue of the desert sky. They stand like monuments, thrusting out of the flat sandy bottoms to touch heaven itself.
I venture further into the ever changing landscape and come to my favorite, red rock. The red rock is the womb of Mother Nature. The wind and rain carve into this sand stone and give it its unique characteristics of color, carvings and caves. The caverns that are created remind me of a womb. This rock has pushed up from deep inside Mother Earth and survived years of punishing to create these eerie formations that hold a history lesson in fossils and primal composition. The layers reveal stories of years gone by before man and memory. Every sound echoes through its strange formations. I could sit here for hours and pick out faces, shapes and become entranced by is stark beauty.
A small lizard just ran past me and broke me from my daze. The desert has a way of stealing you away. It lulls you into a trance of sun, rock and heat. Transfix your gaze on an object and hours can go by without notice. The desert soothes the mind and rocks the soul into a blissful existence. The shadows grow longer and the sun moves slowly, methodically across the sky. These rocks and sand have seen the same path over and over again, but the visitor to this realm, is transformed with each moment spent in its splendor. Tread lightly and take only pictures and leave only footprints in this land of history and intrigue.
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.
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.