Sixteen days into our journey and I’m finally publishing our first blog post from a Starbucks in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s been a whirlwind of a time on the road so far, filled with many farewell and dinner parties, entertaining friends in Moby, exploring the sticky, wonderful dirt of Oregon, hunting for mushrooms in dripping wet forests, soaking in wild hot springs and absorbing coffee and books in bed while waiting out the rain. The stuff of weekends, just without the two-day time limit.
Of course there have been less glamorous moments during our first forays into van living. We’ve learned that before embarking on a long and lonely stretch of road, a half tank is the required minimum to prevent our quiet, internal panic regarding the whereabouts of the next station with diesel. We must locate flat and “legal” parking for the night before hanger makes us less than courteous to each other. Twelve hours of driving in a day is too many. And in the battle between taking advantage of our wonderful ‘bathroom” (portable toilet and cold water shower in a 2′ x 4’ space) and not wanting to clean said toilet nor endure the briefly torturous icy spray, its best to utilize what we installed without thinking about it too much and draw straws on toilet cleaning later.
Our itinerary and schedule are both works in progress and our focus is fairly broad; experience as much of North America as possible for as long as we can make this work, engage in outdoor pursuits, devote time to personal passion projects and receive an education in the process. The ‘garage’ in Moby (more about this design masterpiece in a later post!) is packed with four pairs of skis, two mountain bikes, ice, trad and sport climbing gear, a crash pad and the fly fishing outfit from one of my past lives that I look forward to becoming reacquainted with. All necessary backpacking and general outdoors accoutrements are tucked into every available inch of storage in the main living space of the van. Time in the mountains and wilderness, pushing our limits, improving our skills and developing our relationship as partners in play is definitely a major focus and impetus for this trip.
But we are also treating this time as an incredible opportunity to focus on smaller individual endeavors that often lose priority in the generally hurried and full, busy world of mainstream living.* For Rémy, this equates to taking the time to ponder and plot his next career move, which may ultimately be starting his own business outfitting vans. (Clever name suggestions and logos welcome.) He also wants to pick up a musical instrument (banjo or guitar…depends on what we come across first), devote more time to reading and generally keep an open mind to the different opinions and cultures that exist in our country outside of the Bay Area bubble that he has known for nearly three decades.
I’m viewing this as an opportunity to write more, to bring the stories conjured within my brain out of my head and into a medium that is readily shared with others. I’ve long wanted to start a blog but have procrastinated over crossing the first hurdle, the actual writing part, as I have repeatedly convinced myself that I lacked the time to devote to one. No more excuses now. I also want to learn French, paint & sketch more, take an AIARE 1 course and define my own voice and brand within the greater adventure travel industry. An annoying internal whisper of self-doubt has also somehow grown louder over the past year, even though no one else hears it but me. I look forward to hushing this.
Here are some other general focal points that we’ve adopted for this trip.
Cut down on the booze. This hasn’t been easy with all of the entertaining that occurred at the onset of the journey (not to mention the dozen bottles of wine that we were sent off with thanks to Lynn & Olivier Pieron and their friends!) But we’re working on it. Hangovers in your thirties are the worst.
Go veg. Sort of. This is partially ethical as tromping around BLM land and its ever-present carpet of cow patties is an in-your-face reminder of how many beef cattle are wandering around the open range. And the damaging environmental impact of large scale farming and ranching in general. And how by continuing to consume certain animal products, we too are contributors to that issue. Plus its a lot cheaper to consume a vegetarian diet. But I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t both love the taste meat and aren’t stoked about turkey on Thanksgiving. So we are going to start by not purchasing or cooking any more terrestrial mammals or fowl while living in Moby and see what develops. Cheese, eggs, fish and honey are all still fair game.
Make time to see ALL THE BABIES! Friends, if you are expecting or have welcomed a child in the past year or so, you can expect a visit from us in the next 365 days (according to your schedule, since you, of course, are the busy ones with real responsibilities and dependents.) We’ll hang out, cook for you, help with whatever household work needs doing and babysit since we realize that getting out without your children is a big effort and that your lives are forever changed. Just let us park in your driveway , use your laundry and maybe sneak a hot shower, deal?
Spend time with family and friends around the country. This is a worthy pursuit in its own right. Enough said.
Be good to each other. And light candles at dinner. (Thanks Lynn)
Post a blog update every week. This one is one me, but by typing it out I am holding myself accountable through the powers of social media.
Take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Example: A few weeks ago, Remy was offered the chance to go to Dubai from December 3-13 to install the Shrumen Lumens at an arts festival. With no set amount of vacation time to weigh and the ticket paid for, why not?
Read, Listen and Ask Questions.
With this last one, I’d like to introduce a segment that I intend to include in all future blog posts, creatively titled ” What We’ve Read, What We’ve Heard, What We Learned.” I always love to receive suggestions for books and podcasts and am forever enamored with facts and trivia. I hope you are too:
What We’ve Read, What We’ve Heard, What We Learned.
Remy has been reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I just finished Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and we both tore through Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (thanks to Brett and Tom for that gift of hilarity). Recommended one and all.
When a dose of comedy is needed, we’ve been tuning into ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno“, the live-reading podcast of hilariously terrible erotica penned by the sixty-something father of the main narrator. It’s awful and cringe-inducing and good and the ‘cervix grabbing’ that goes on in the tale puts Trump’s pussy-grabbing to shame. Check it out.
We recently learned that a small section or Oregon lies within Mountain Time while the remainder of the state (and indeed most of the same county – Malheur County) resides in Pacific Standard Time. I don’t know what this is, but imagine that it can cause some confusion for residents of Malheur County, though they’ve probably figured out how to deal by now. I shall have to find someone to ask and report back.
Posts on recent adventures in Oregon and the build out of Moby forthcoming. Thanks for reading! Kirsten
*I know that there are people out there who climb or ski or bike hard, are incredibly driven career wise, can sing and dance and paint and cook brilliantly while simultaneously writing their own music on guitar, flawlessly preserve vegetables grown from their own backyard organic garden, which is nurtured by their carefully cultivated compost pile while also raising 2.3 perfect children. Teach me your secrets.