When it Rains…It Pours: Belize day six

We knew that it was too good to last. So far our vacation has been perfect. Perfect weather, perfect food and drink and perfect group out here on Half Moon Caye. Our last night was full of dancing, drinking and sharing tales. We watched the sunset at the beach just outside of camp while partying with all our new friends. We took pictures and shared email addresses then went back to camp where the guides performed native Garafuna drumming, song and dance. We all danced the night away and had a lovely prepared meal (no shortage of those). Then off to bed.

The sun began to wake up the day as a big ball of pink in the morning sky. A cloud bank began to roll in and by breakfast the storm had arrived. We all ran out to our tents and secured the rain flaps. Within 5 minutes the rain began. First a little drizzle, then the lightening and thunder accompanied the sheets of rain. Now we are all sitting in the mess hall watching the rain, hoping the boat coming to get us today actually will leave Belize City and make the 2-3 hour trip across open water. I personally would be happy if the boat was unable to come.

Chris and I recounted our trip so far. Chris said that this island adventure reminded her of summer camp. There was always activities to sign up for each day, an applause after each meal, educational moments and of course glamping. So now every time I think of the last five days I smile and think “adult summer camp”.

Have I Said This Before?

My girlfriend and I have been planning our escape for years. It was some fear and apprehensions that stopped us from taking the leap years ago and wandering our beautiful planet on a forever way of life…traveling.

We planned and saved every dollar we could. Tried to make good decisions about big purchases. Brought our company to a viable asset. Fixed everything physically wrong with our aging bodies so we could be young again. We made a goal of 2017 as our jumping off point.

Well 2017 came and went. We put our business up for sale at the beginning of 2017. We had several interested parties, but running a car dealership is not as simple as liking cars. Everyone that came to the table either faded away when they found out how much was actually involved or the banks turned them down. I fell into a deep depression that I kept hidden as best as I could.

We set ourselves up to live a good life. We built our dream home 18 years ago and are about 3-4 years away from paying it off. Our house is warm and comfortable and WAY too big for our little family of two humans and a corgi. It was a tax shelter and necessity which has now become a source of financial security, affording us freedom if we could cut the chains.

We have read countless books on becoming a minimalist. We have attended Overlanding expos and created good, healthy ties with fellow explorers and travelers living both here in the US and in foreign countries. We bought a 2015 Ford Transit 250 to build into our adventure mobile. Of course with our still busy schedule it has not had much attention. So here we sit, chained to our business and unwilling to give up our comfortable home until the sale.

To make matters worse… everyday we wake up to another mass shooting, another unarmed kid shot by cops, a narcissistic POTUS who is batshit crazy and can seriously impact our financial health, physical health and turn the world against us. Kids are taking to the streets demanding change but getting the hand by the grownups they rally against. It is just too much for my fragile psyche to be bombarded with everyday.

Why take off and leave all that we know? Why sell off everything and have nothing but freedom to show for it? Why break away from all that is comfortable and travel to third world countries where people are happy and live harmoniously with the world around them? Seriously… you need to ask!

A Long Time Coming

It’s hard to tell a story with so many twists and turns. Sometimes the anticipation and planning is more stressful than anything I’ve done before. It’s different when it’s a long term decision. The path we choose now WILL affect the next phase of our lives. Saying that out loud really brings this into perspective. The decisions we have made in the past could be wrong… we always had the time and means to make it right. This decision may not be so easy to undo.

What on earth could be so dire? Well it’s the decision about our new home on wheels.

So you may be saying, so what’s the big deal?

When you are going from a house too big for two, to a custom created camper van with a living space of 73.5 square feet. Everything you own is contained in this space. How do you decide what to keep and what to discard? We grew up in a time when at least 40 years of our lives were NOT digital. That means for a photographer… boxes and boxes of prints and negatives. I have a wood toy chest from my childhood I have lugged all over the US every time I moved. Handwritten letters from past loves, friends and family. Artwork collected from around the world.

The electronics, furniture and other STUFF is easy to part with. There is just so much STUFF to get rid of…

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The process: We have really vacillated back and forth between a very used Sprinter van to a gently used Ford Transit. My mind has been designing and redesigning our cozy living space. The main goal is usable space and storage. A space that two women and a corgi can live in comfortably. A “home on wheels” that is comfortable and inviting. Our Tiny Home.

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There is so much I have had to learn. Solar, plumbing, electrical, wood working. The imagination is strong and the ability to recreate what I see may be tough. We hopefully will be buying our van this week and the build will begin. I hope we will be able to be patient and build out our space carefully and “hell for strong”, as my dad would say.

The Hurry Up and Wait Game

The hardest thing of all this moving on is the hurry up and wait game. I guess we did it to ourselves.

In the US, perhaps as with many other countries too, forgive my ignorance… we have to invest our money in a home in order to offset some tax burdens imposed on us. Same holds true with a business… pay yourself or pay the government.

Seventeen years ago we built our dream home. We had no intention of moving outside the US or traveling to the extent we are currently planning. If you had told me back then that we would amass a good amount of money, enough to live very well on, I would’ve laughed. Today this is very much a reality.

The biggest hang up is our business and building it works out of. I have no doubt that our home will sell quickly. The business is hit or miss. The building is also a major wildcard. Part of investing in our future has been making these investments. It is the time it takes to liquidate all these that is driving me crazy.

It is the hurry up and wait game that we are embroiled in currently. People inquire about the business, the building and what not. We answer these questions and nothing seems to ever materialize. The other day some “YouTube” guys came in and took a tour. They are looking for a studio to make their videos. Another guy came in and sat down in front of me until we had so much going on I had to excuse myself. Another guy has been texting and has a walk through and interview on Tuesday. I hope that in all this action some solid lead will come.

In the meantime we continue to move forward with decluttering years of possessions. The various pieces of local artwork from different countries where we have traveled all have to go. The nick knacks, furniture and household items we have accumulated must go. It is hard to put what worldly treasures you think you want to keep and someday be reunited with, in an assortment of manageable boxes.

What will life look like when we finally land and put downs some roots again? Will we be able to live on our own and be healthy? A deep down part of me fears growing old. Being alone someday. The life of  a Gay Woman, a Vagabond, an Overlander, a World Traveler… all come with a price in the end. Growing old and alone. Hey… it’s reality. No kids, no family but those you’ve met on the road. No roots, no foundation but the means to buy whatever happiness you can… and even now that isn’t always a given unless you carry around pieces of gold.

So now… sitting in my backyard, surrounded by sounds of the birds in our little piece of forest. Somewhere in a small mountainside in Utah, my home, the simple greens of our oak trees and aspens are soothing that turmoil of fear. Life is here and now. Sometimes, yes we must settle with hurry up and wait.

 

A Proud People

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Weekly Photo Challenge

Overlanding Expo May 2017

I don’t know who coined the phrase “half of the experience is the journey itself”, but they hit that nail dead on the head. We started packing last weekend. The Cruzer is taking some getting used to but she is capable of handling our gear. The way I figure it… I pretty much have everything I need to be self sufficient for several days.

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What’s the difference between a trip for several days vs. several months? Not too much. If you were living on the road, the road would be your home and you would need to stop and do laundry once a week, or so, just like you do in your brick and mortar home. I think you generally just stink and after while don’t notice. Ha! What a thought. So you don’t need to own but maybe two weeks worth of clothes… and I’m not talking three changes a day… think about it; what do you really need if it’s 50-100 degrees everyday. A chance of rain half the year. Twelve hours of daylight on average per day.

Food? Well unless you’re going down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon by paddle boat, you can go to the market once or twice a week and buy fresh. We don’t have a full on refrigerator after all. If you go camping for a week you go to one place and hopefully have enough food and ice to keep it cold. So there you have it.

One thing I would have to do though is organize the Cruzer. It was frustrating trying to find anything. I had to do a lot of climbing around and rummaging to find things I knew I had put in there somewhere. Oh well… duality noted. I think we will need to build compartments. That’s what I hope to bring home from the Expo.

Part Two: The Revelations:
First let me start by saying going to the Expo was a great thing! I met some genuine people there. The camp area was packed tight with all types of rigs from VW Buses to Hummers to Land Cruisers. All the rigs had basically the same equipment. Tents of all types and sizes. Gear necessary to support it’s occupants for a trip into the wild. Varying degrees of sophistication. Some old and some newer. Some costing thousands of dollars to build to several hundreds of thousands. What did each have in common? The owners and travelers desire to be self sufficient with the ability to escape the realm of responsible reality.

I was lucky to get some great neighbors on each side. The most memorable will be Mona and Al from San Francisco area originally.
To say they took a blow on the chin and continued to turn the other cheek would be an understatement. They lost their home in the fires that ravaged the area a few years ago. Still they remained hopeful and positive, and picked up what they had left and continued moving forward instead of becoming “victims”. They reminded me so much of Chris and I it was amazing. They complimented each other, obviously loved each other and yet were so totally opposite of each other. I think that is the greatest strength of any healthy, life long relationship. Mona and Al took me in and we became good friends in the short time we spent together. They have big plans for escaping just as Chris and I do.

I attended many seminars, Q&As, demonstrations and took from each a bit of vital information and revelations. I really enjoyed speaking with real people that have actually done what we are preparing to do. The greatest part was that maybe learning from them and their experiences, we can avoid some costly mistakes.

I got to experience the life of “up at sunrise and to bed at sunset”. I got to pick people’s brains on a personal one to one basis. I was taught as a student and was showed things I never would have known otherwise. I gained a confidence in what our future may look like. I came home with so many great, doable ideas and how to put them into something tangible that will increase our chances of survival as two women alone on our Overland voyage.

The best part of it all was when Chris finally joined me on Saturday night. There was no way I could show her all I had learned but I took her around and showed her it was possible. Our dream could come to fruition with the knowledge of those who have been doing the minimalist life style for years and years. I was able to get her buy in 100% to building our “home” on the road. We discussed at length weather or not we had the right vehicle. We discussed other possibilities if money was no option. In the end I told her I would design Lucky’s interior and before it went into production get her buy in.

Leaving on Sunday was bitter sweet. I had to say goodbye to my new friends. Pack up all our soon to be “worldly possessions” and hit the road for the long journey home. This 8 hours was the longest Chris and I had spent without the TV on, faces in our phones or iPads in a long while. It was the quality time we needed to do what we do best… discuss our ideas, hash out our differences and compromise.

The next phase will begin as I draw out my ideas about how we need to improve our home with the knowledge I gained from veterans who have gone before. Hopefully learn from their mistakes and leap into the next stage of our lives with a better knowledge and understanding of what could lie ahead. I feel it will be easier for us to transition into life on the road without time limitations and the burden of owning anything except what is “on our backs” as it were.

In conclusion, this was an enlightening weekend. It was a necessary step in the right direction. It affirmed this journey as possible. It drilled into my brain the realities of the dangers and enjoyment one can encounter when all ties are broken and life is lived not just endured.

“We travel not to escape life… but for life not to escape us”.

On The Road Again….

Well we are off… spent last two days scrambling around to get everything just right. It’s an eight and a half hour drive and 531 miles. First road trip… me, Gandaulf and Lucky, the Adventure Cruzer!

The Overland Expo will fuel my imagination and give me great ideas for finishing off Lucky’s interior. It can also be dangerous!  These guys live to outfit the lifestyle we are striving for. With our home on our backs, so to speak, everything we own inside a 12x6x4 foot space, we need to learn to travel safe.  We need to learn how to read a map… not always gonna have GPS or cell phone service… can’t just call AAA if we get a flat.  This weekend is gonna be like going to outdoor school. So excited!!

Flagstaff ARIZONA here we come!