I Bought A Van

I bought a van with our trip money.  Not that we’re not going on the trip, I bought it for the trip. Minimum down payment, high interest rates and I still bought it.  Yes, when you have poor credit you pay high interest rates.

We had already been across country on the Trail Blazer and it was breaking down every other month and I just didn’t trust it.  However, now I have a car payment that was not figured into the traveling budget.  Neither was repairing the Blazer along the way and having to pay for lodging when it did break down so I guess it evens out? Maybe?  It just makes me a little more nervous about money for the trip.

Not that we had a lot for the trip, we don’t.  So it’s going to be a much more budget friendly adventure than I had originally planned and that’s ok.  Maybe.  I just don’t want to be miserable for lack of funds.  Perhaps that will be the adventure, seeing the US with little money without being hungry or stranded somewhere I definitely don’t want to be.

It can be done, has been done by many people, just not me.  Will it take so much planning that it won’t be worth it?  Can we just fly by the seat of our pants and  enjoy ourselves?  There is so much I want to do, to see, to experience on this adventure.  One more week of work and then another week of packing, cleaning, re-packing and May 1st,  finally, leaving.

Tent Camping Across the US

We, my husband and I,  have set our sights on a new grand adventure, tenting (for the most part) across the US.  I must say I am a bit anxious about this endeavor is putting it mildly.  We have the route figured out for the first 10 days, leaving Virginia hugging the coast until we get to Florida. State Parks, private campgrounds and national forest are all paid for which is no small feat. This however does put us on a schedule and doesn’t allow for the inevitable things that can go wrong, will.  But it also is comforting in a weird sort of way,  both of us decompressing from work, getting used to pitching the tent, finding out what does and doesn’t work.  After the Florida trek we are pretty much going to be coasting along across Texas to California using BML land and national parks.  Planning a week or so in advance with a “we’re going in this direction” mindset.

We have 3 weeks to go until we leave which means our living room is a staging area for supplies, packed and repacked. Making sure I at least know where everything on the master list is. I spent a whole day tearing the house apart looking for my bicycle tire pump, needless to say I loaned it to my daughter who promises me she will get it to me ASAP. packing

We will be leaving in May so trying to decide on heat versus a fan, cold weather versus hot weather clothes.  Whether we are going to take electic versus propane cooking gear and such  is proving complicated.   Space will be very limited and lugging any extra gear out every couple of days will be tiresome and mailing it back home could be expensive.

I am very excited about this adventure too, it’s not all anxiety producing!  Three months have been allotted for the trip.  If we find somewhere that we just fall in love with then a possible travel assignment might be in the works, who knows?  After the 3 months bills will becoming due again and we will have to do something to make a living.

 

Confessions of a List Maker

I am a list maker.  I make a list of things on my list that I don’t complete.  I make grocery list, coupon list, cleaning, chores, packing, re-packing, places to see,  places to camp, mileage,  re-list of places to camp, and list of things that don’t really belong on any list but that need to be done.  I lose my list from time to time and have to re-write them only to find it and have two.  I also have a daily planner that I have list on as well as composition books that I list things in.

Now, this isn’t to say that I am a super organized person, oh no.  I am not, though I strive to be.  I work with a chaotic mind, forgetful and thoughts running rampant throughout the day and the only way I can get anything done is to write it down or something will be forgotten, overlooked or just dismissed.

I have recently discovered the “spreadsheet.”  A very easy way to list things then you have it at your fingertips through google drive.  You can also make list on notes on your phone.   Except I like paper so I end up printing it off and carrying it around like a regular list.

If I could only get everything done that I have written down!  I guess if I accomplish half of what I write down then I am better off than doing nothing.  list

Creating Balance

I was telling my husband all the great things I am yesterday.  Wife, mother, grandmother, bicyclist, camper, writer, nurse, coupon boss, recycler, memory hoarder and other grand titles and it dawned on me that I really am lacking balance.  I am a project maker never a project finisher.

I am planning the trip to Alaska, couponing and working extra to save money and while doing that my other projects go by the wayside.  Yesterday was the first day I have been on my bike in ages,  I have written nothing and I am starting to hate my job.  I need balance, a schedule, something!

How can I possibly do everything I want to do if I have no discipline at home. What will I be like on the road for three or more months?  Do I block schedule times for each activity I want to do?  Do I say F*** it and concentrate on one thing at the time? No, that wouldn’t work, something inevitably wouldn’t get done.

So, after just completing that sentence I think I  have to at least schedule times, in general for things.  Different things can be combined, recycling and biking perhaps. Using coupons and biking or trip planning and using coupons.  Memory hoarding, which is what I call doing something with all my photos.  That  is something that can’t be combined with anything so that will have to be one of those one thing only projects.

How do you fit everyday regular things into this project free for all? Cooking, cleaning, driving back and forth to work?  I drive 3 hours to my job and stay for 3 days, more if I do overtime. I am basically living in a hotel for 3 days a week, plus drive time.  How do you exercise in a semi crappy hotel and it’s dark when you get off work.  Not to mention being dead tired from working?  Couponing and writing should be easy in the hotel but it’s not.  It’s flu season and what is generally hard work has become exhausting work.

I feel like I have asked more questions than answers, hopefully I will come up with some solutions. image

Hotel living at it’s finest!

Camping and the Evils of Pinterest

tentredrockI have tent camped most of my adult life.  Personally, I like the tub method of sorting and obtaining supplies.  One tub for the kitchen, one for the tent/air mattresses/blankets or sleeping bags and all the gear that goes with that, one for light, electric and emergency supplies.   This has worked well for us until I went on Pinterest.   I never knew I was packing so wrong and missing so many creature comforts of the camping experience.  But I did go there and now I will need a separate vehicle just for supplies!

I have a strange relationship with Pinterest.  I am the owner of 42, yes, 42 boards of various things that have caught my interest over time.  I don’t know whether to be ashamed or proud that I have 42 boards.  But be that as it may I was searching camping, supplies, hacks and whatnot.  To tell you the truth my head hurts.

We have tent camped from Virginia to Washington State to LA and back home again. Haphazard as it was, it was minimalist, it worked, and it fit in the Trail Blazer.   Now I must go to the store and get a bucket and pool noodles for a toilet, kid foam flooring and a fold up kitchen to lug across the country.   Rugs to keep dirt out of your tent,  poles for your lantern,  a hand washing station separate from the spigot that we have been using for years.  Hanging dishes in a tentmesh bag, belts for you cookware to hang from the trees and pool noodles attached to your tie downs so you don’t trip in the middle of the night.  How did we ever make it in the wilderness?

I know, Pinterest is for ideas. You have to pick and choose what makes sense for what you’re doing, where you will be going and how long you will be on the road.  Since this trip across the US will last a few months I can’t be a camping “junky” and really need to think about how we will use the stuff , multiple uses and how economical it will be.  Decisions, decisions!

My Pinterest boards.

National Parks

 

Sevierville

Smokey Mountains

There are 59 National Parks in the US, I have visited 18 of them.  That leaves 41 for me to complete my bucket list.  As I am doing research for our US road trip I have learned that there are 417 national park sites but only 59 have the actual “National Park” in their name.  There are battlefields, memorials, parkways, reserves and seashores and much more than just parks. The best information regarding the national park sites is from the NPS website,  here.  What an awesome legacy we leave to the younger generation that rarely goes outside anymore.  As I write this President Trump has made efforts to take some of the land from Bear Ears and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  Two places that I haven’t seen but will make sure to include them in our trip before they no longer exist.  The world has become smaller and I fear that the land is too valuable for the greedy to “waste.” That, of course depends on your definition of waste.  So, I will  attempt to see as many of the national parks as I can with this trip.

We will travel through 25 states, more or less and the Yukon territory of Canada if everything goes according to plan. Starting in Virginia we will make out way down the East Coast to Florida, follow I 10 until we get to Texas.  We will spend quite a bit of time in Texas, going to Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and the Rio Grande Scenic River.  I am most excited about Big Bend.  Before my mother died from cancer we had made plans to go there so that will be a tribute to her.  We will then head to San Diego, California and head north through Northern Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming to Alaska.  It will be an adventure of a lifetime!

Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

I Am a Terrible Blogger!

38122301814_19fe98dc3d_o (1)We did make it Florida and down the coast, over 600 miles!  I lived!  Man, what an adventure that should have been put to words.  I didn’t.  I was busy trying to cycle, trying to make miles, trying to live the experience.  I do have some grand memories to write about!  I found out that I love my brother and would be his friend even if we weren’t siblings.  I realized that I could do anything I wanted with a little preparation and training.  I will relate these experiences in the days to come.  I am also planning my and my husbands trip to Alaska.  Four months of working hard and then we’re off. This is going to be a super budget trip, camping, glamping and hotels along the way. I hope, I hope to be better disciplined with writing especially since we will be in a car. I love planning trips almost as much as I love taking them. Since my husband has no interest in the planning phase I will be making most of my notes here. At least it will be in one place!

We Made it to Florida!

Yes, we made it to Florida. A thousand miles for my brother and roughly 500 for me. All with relatively few hiccups. My brother, George, henceforth know simply as G had some car trouble at the beginning of his journey. He has, like most of us do many computer parts in his car that decided to quit communicating . He had it repaired only for it to stop communicating again once it got here. But the always piddling brother of mine got it fixed long enough to drop the car off at storage. That and an expensive hotel room, who knew Jacksonville was having a game Sunday things went pretty well for me.

So it’s close to 6 am day 2 and I’m sitting on a picnic table waiting on my coffee to boil and the fog so thick I thought it was raining. I slept horribly having set my tent up right on a root that crossed just under my hip. Tossed and turned all night with my hip and thinking it was raining.

We are camping on a naval base which is quite interesting for me. Sailors up at the butt crack of dawn doing PT. Running in fog while I’m trying to discretely pee behind a palm tree. Ships moving out of the harbor as soon as the fog lifts and the sea birds fishing for their morning breakfast.

The sun has burned off the fog and it should be warming up soon. I have to shake out the things I left on the picnic table to dry, lesson learned, everything can get wet whether it’s raining or just fog.

It is time to get busy with day 2, drying out the tent!

Four Days and Counting

I had a whole blog post about the things you learn while bicycling in Virginia that I thought funny and informative and my notes that I wrote on the trail magically disappeared as well as a check for 130 dollars from the dentist.  Not to mention that I have a cold, third one this season and four days to go until I leave for my bike ride in Florida.  So, lessons learned the hard way.  One hundred thirty dollars less and no humorous blog entry.  The cold, I don’t know what to do about except drink various herbal teas, keep hydrated and bring along a pharmacy of drugs to keep the snot from constantly running from my nose and to lessen the headaches.  Other than this seemingly run of crappy luck all  is on tract for me to leave Sunday for Florida.

I have the panniers all packed bringing my carrying weight at 20 pounds minus the tent and whatever food I will be packing. Not sure how much that will weigh in at. Planning for the weather has been a challenge. Yesterday, I was mowing grass in shorts, cutting down spring flowers and onions and today the morning temperature was in the 40’s.  To offset widely varying temperatures I have decided to bring clothes that I can layer. I can’t stand to be cold.  Maybe it’s my advancing age but it bothers me more and more every year.                                              38021133102_2f893e05f9_z                                         The kitten (Bonnie) will stay home this time!

I can’t think of anything else I may need and it’s not like we will be in the wilderness with no way to stop at a store to get what we may be lacking.  Despite the aforementioned setbacks I am very excited to be experiencing this adventure with my brother.

Three more work days and my contract is up until December, hopefully this trip will allow me some time to enjoy life for a while and enjoy nursing when I return.  I am ready!

packedbike

 

Red Tailed Hawk

After working my three 12 hour shifts in the ER, nursing a sore shoulder from lifting very overweight people who somehow become totally immobile once entering the hospital it was time for a ride.  One of the best things my town has to offer is a pedestrian/biking trail. It is along the river that separates the “north side from the south side of town.  I live on the south side which has easy access to the river trail with little street riding (which can be dangerous) if you cut through the local park.

The Danville River Walk is a nine or so mile paved trail that follows the river with side trails that you can make into a 20 or more mile ride.  The city has actually worked very hard to make this a beautiful place. The wild life is abundant, turtles, birds, with a reemergence of the Eastern Bluebird due to the birdhouses along the trail, deer, ducks, beavers, and red-tailed hawks among many other animals live along the river. It is one of my most favorite places to be. I feel so connected when riding the trail.22639148_1945294459127096_2687513315172679680_n

I have a special connection with hawks, as crazy as it may sound I feel as if it is my “totem” animal.  I was riding along a quiet part of the trail and this beautiful plump hawk flew right beside me before turning towards the river. At that moment, I knew I was at the right place for me, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.