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.

 

Overland Expo West… Here We Come!

It seems like forever since I have written. Life has been crazy… to say the least. We are continuing to sell cars, go to work everyday, walk the dog every morning, pay bills, do yard work, fix up the house for the eventual sale, and still try to fit some fun time in. I will be happy when the list gets cut in a third and all we have to do is plan our next destination, walk the dog on a beach or jungle trail, make new friends and LIVE.

We have been beefing up Lucky, our 1998 Adventure Cruzer. She has almost a complete ‘face lift’ now completely replacing most of her front end suspension parts, installed the roof top tent, added a great, non-ostentatious stereo with Bluetooth and XM, second battery system installed and cold air intake installed.  There is still the interior build for storage coming up… but first The Overland Expo in Flagstaff this weekend for some over the top experience and lots off good ideas from fellow minimalists and overlanders.

It is amazing to know that there are other crazy people in this world that like to “hit the road”, abandon the “responsible reality lifestyle” we all have been raised to live in and forced to conform to. With the instability in the political climate of this world it it scary to even turn on the TV and wonder what stupidity has occurred overnight. To be reliant on fossil fuels, electricity, consume water like it’s a right… these items are what keeps most of us chained to our homes, our repeating loop of everyday living to support our reliance on our carbon footprint. Hitting the road forces us to downscale. Live life at its fullest without being tied down. It allows us to move freely about, exploring the world and all it’s back roads and byways, without having time limits.

In two days I will hit the road with Gandaulf and Lucky for our first 600 mile road trip. I hope to connect and be motivated. To be inspired by fellow travelers. To accept criticism on ways to better keep us secure as two women travelers. Stay tuned as we post some incredible pics and share great ideas as we travel to and attend the Expo!

Until we chat again…

Two Middle Aged Women Travel Alone

So I always ask myself… What’s the worst that could happen?  Next thing I know my mind is off on a nervous stream of random thoughts… and I promise they are not all good. There is always the flat tire in the middle of the desert while four wheeling, the blown hose when there is no service station or parts store within a hundred miles, being held up, car stolen by some rogue police men in a far away country… hell any of these things can and have happened right here in the US.

Some people think we are crazy! What on Earth are two middle aged women gonna do out there on the road, overlanding in “third world” countries… if something happens? I have never let my fears and nervous thoughts dictate where I am going to go, what I am going to take, what might happen to me. Quite the opposite. I let the fears keep me safe. I proceed with caution and good common sense. If I let the nervous jitters stop me I would never set foot outside my own house… hell maybe not even get out of bed.

Our plans for the end of this year are slowly gathering momentum and we are beginning to make lists, planing our financial well being, checking and double checking supplies. I spend at least an hour of everyday online, asking questions to those who are out there living the LIFE we only are dreaming of… gathering tid-bits on how to rig our Adventure Cruzer for overlanding… learning from others misfortunes. The best part is compiling the “BUCKET LIST”.

Everyday someone comes up to one of us and asks us if we are sure this is really what we want to do? The answer is simply, “yes or the stress is going to kill us”. Face it we are not getting any younger. The things we like to do take good health and strong bodies and time. Our life now is so stressful, we have so much “stuff”and so little time. We have been locked in the same career for over 25 years… it is time for a change.

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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.

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.

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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…

The Fear Factor

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

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Flower Power… Beauty in the eyes of the beholder

In each intricate petal of a flower there is evidence of something greater than any of us. The simple way each unfolds into a predetermined pattern to form a stunning work of natural art. This album is of some of the beauty I have captured in our travels.