State of the Trip: First Quarter

25 Jan
2012

We’re about three and a half months into our twelve month trip, so we thought it was about time for a quarterly status report. Rather than create a formal report, which would need to be audited for accuracy by someone like KPMG, we thought we’d just answer some of the common questions we’ve been receiving.

How’s it going so far?
So far, so good. The first few weeks were by far the most difficult — it was difficult adjusting to such a major change in lifestyle and putting on so many miles jumping between New York and Wisconsin. After you adapt, anything can become normal. The van has become like a home to me, and I heave a sigh of relief crawling back into bed after having been away for a few days. I love being able to see new surroundings whenever I want and am getting spoiled by our mobility. Paul is feeling a little less comfortable being unsettled. He misses the comfort that comes from knowing a place, from not having to search for coffee shops, grocery stores, libraries, etc., from not constantly using Google Maps to get around, to find showers, to figure out where to sleep. But when we think about settling down, the desire isn’t there yet. There’s still too much to see and do.

Do you still have bad days?
Of course! Some days it feels like nothing quite goes our way. But that’s life! We try to roll with the punches, and remember that every day is a new one.

How’s the budget holding up?
We both generally agree that we should be spending as little as possible. So far it’s going quite well. Every once in awhile we’ll have a $100+ day that will make us cringe, but these are few and far between. Most days we’ll spend around $40-$75, total, and some days we’re even getting away with a total spend of $10. So far we haven’t had any no-spend days, but we expect to be able to do this as soon as it warms up. Most of the free campgrounds are on national forest land, which tends to be at a higher elevation and is much colder (and snowier) at this time of the year. Overall, we’re feeling pretty good about the spend so far, and we keep getting smarter and smarter about the best ways to save money.

Any ideas on where you want to live when this is all over?
We’re learning more about how we want to live rather than where we want to live. So far, while we love the southwest and southern California, we know they’re not the places for us. When we do settle down, we want to live as simply as possible, somewhere where there are lots of outdoor activities close by.

What have your favorite places been, so far?
For parks, we’ve best loved White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, Catalina State Park in Arizona, and Death Valley National Park in California. In the civilized world, we’ve most enjoyed LA, Tucson, and Bisbee.

What are you finding it difficult to live without? 
When we’re camping in a location without water, we are painfully aware how much we miss sinks. A simple sink, with running water, is truly a great luxury.

We also miss our friends — specifically just being able to spontaneously hang out with our Chicago friends. We are getting to see lots of people that we haven’t seen in years, which is wonderful, but a full-scale visit is different than a Saturday night dinner. We miss being able to plan a casual get-together whenever we’re feeling lonely for company.

Any surprises so far?
What surprises me, out of the small amount of stuff that we do have with us, is the even smaller portion of that stuff that we actually use on a daily basis. We haven’t yet slept in our tent because it’s so chilly at night and the van has been very comfortable, so we have an entire section of the van that hasn’t even been disturbed since it was packed. We have probably used only half of the dishes that we brought along. I’m surprised at how little we really need to use on a daily basis. I’m happy that our consumption of most things has gone way, way down, but our consumption of gas has increased from nothing to a tank every few days, and I’m not feeling great about that.

Are you sick of each other yet? 
We got this question more before we left than we do now. Now we can say from experience: not yet!

Let us know if there’s anything else you’re curious about and we’ll answer in the comments or in another post.

What season is it, anyway?

What season is it, anyway? I can't remember, and neither can these trees. One was covered in blooms and bees, the other in berries.

  • keep it up. Spring is coming!

    • Boy, we’ve had a tough run lately (more on that later). Luckily we found a good spot outside Julian, CA to stay for a few days — Aqua Caliente.