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Home Away From Home

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

So sorry y’all for the delay in story writing. We started this new overlanding adventure at the end of July and have been on the go through Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario Canada, Vermont, and now New York in our Toyota Tundra. Our “stuff” is either in the truck with us or a 8x8x8 POD in storage, that’s it! We have a roof top tent, ground tent, kitchen gear, screen room, inflatable boat/SUP, bikes, 4 seasons of clothes (Florida/Alaska), and some dispersed camping items like a shower tube, toilet and table. We’re resisting the temptation to buy a camper. We came up this way to change our residency to South Dakota because of the domicile system they have set up for full time travelers with a 24 hour process, no state income tax, and low vehicle costs. It seemed like a good option for us since we’re nomadic now, until we find our new “home”.

I’ve always loved road trips, but this 18 months of nomadism with only a vague sense of direction is different. I’ve always loved camping and staying at Airbnbs, but when the long weekend is over and Monday night we’re still camping or searching for the next “home”, it’s different. At this point, the longest we’ve stayed in one place is four nights. The blending of vacationing and living daily life on the road requires flexibility, adaptability, patience, openness, honesty, fortitude, perseverance, appreciation, gratitude, and an occasional meltdown.

There are sites we have pulled into like Peninsula State Park in Door country, Wisconsin or Indian Lake State Park in Michigan’s UP (upper peninsula) where we turn and smile to each other without a word knowing we scored a beautiful site on a lake feeling like we could enjoy being here for a good long while. There are also times we’ve camped in sloped, mud filled sites wondering where the flat grass spot went or a new campground where apparently the clearing of trees to make campsites happened only yesterday and we bushwacked our own spot. These times our hearts sink when we pull in and our eyes survey reality; we get quiet for a moment while embracing our disappointment and summon the courage to adapt to our new place. Either way, the set up begins. I turn our roof top tent into the cocoon we’ve come to love, especially on chilling 40 degree nights. Brian unloads the kitchen boxes and puts up strings of camp lights. We get some tunes playing, crack a beer and settle into the beauty of our surroundings. Ahhhh, we’re “home” again.

When the torrential rains come, It’s time to find our next “home”, that next hotel or Airbnb, one we can still afford as this current inflation has turned mediocre establishments into $100+ stays. I go into budget super searching mode which works well 80% of the time. Just the thought of a soft bed, shower, and freshly laundered clothes is enough to make us giggle with joy and gratitude. Excitement builds as I wonder if the place will have a toaster for the cinnamon bread we just bought or a comfy couch to curl up on and watch a movie (or for Brian F1 racing or a baseball game). Will it have enough plug-ins to charge our multitude of electronics (power banks, computers, phones, sonic toothbrushes, night reading lights, girly bedroom devices)? Will it smell like fresh cut flowers or the mildew/mold common east of the Mississippi that local owners like to call the “cedar” touch? Will it have an adequately stocked kitchen and bath (coffee, wine opener, ice in the freezer, lovely smelling soaps and lotions) or will we be dragging our gear into the place? Again, as we enter “our new home” either our hearts are relieved or saddened as we survey reality. Today is a joy day as I’m curled up on a comfy couch under a blanket writing this as Brian does laundry. Tonight I’m taking a bubble bath with a glass of wine, ahhhhhhhh! We’ll also go through our usual routine of researching our next place which requires a fairly extensive look at the weather, distances, fall leaf foliage reports, and budget.

Through this all, I’ve been thinking a lot about “home”. Since it isn’t made of concrete, wood, and drywall right now for us, what exactly is it? It’s not a building, it’s not a place. It is the past and the future, but not the present. Home right now is feelings - of companionship and love, comfort and safety, of inclusion with nature, of exclusion of the “real world”, of appreciation for good health (one trip to an urgent care aside), of discovering fluidity, of expansion and contraction as we set up temporary place over and over, of time warps and energy spasms. With each new day we get more accustomed to the change in our perception of time, how quickly a day goes by without the focus of work, how looking at a pic of somewhere we were a month ago feels like six months ago. Time is nonlinear, more wavelike for us now. Nature is a constant companion now, breathing in and out with the trees, sleeping with the wind and critters. I’ve been surprised by the energy demand the constantly changing weather puts on our minds and bodies, but something in nature restores energy in us too. Relaxing at an all inclusive beach resort asking the cabana boy for another cocktail sounds lovely right now and is part of our winter plan, but for now our days require a gallon of energy to just do the simple things in life, much like the gallon of rain that commences when one of us is in the camp bathroom and once again we ask “Where is my raincoat? Oh, dry in the truck, great!” Finally, there is the comforting and challenging constant companionship. So are you two still talking to each other you might ask? How’s this for an answer? We’ve become more adept at discerning each other’s moods, which helps us resolve disputes and return to a state of tranquil coexistence more quickly. Diplomacy aside, we adore and appreciate each other more with each passing day. We’re creating enough “inside jokes” to last a few decades. So for now home is Brian, nature and a Toyota Tundra.

Pop me a comment if you enjoyed the story, or think I”m crazy…chow for now.

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What an adventure you are on! I loved the perspective about a vacation that simply isn't going to end. Your frank and well-articulated thoughts on "home" are lovely. Wishing you both good health and frequent belly laughs.

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