Friday, February 15, 2013

And so it begins.

In today's mail we received the first tangible evidence of our impending RTW trip.  Until this point it’s been fairly theoretical and almost entirely virtual in nature. You know, lots of “what if” conversations, spreadsheets of budgets and to-do lists, daydreaming while watching Long Way Down or Full Circle.

Sure, we purchased the Canadian WWOOF membership a while ago just to start browsing.  We've invested in warm layers but those could be useful just for camping trips.  We got a new waterproof camera but that could just come in handy over the Portland winter. This little piece of paper (which appears to have been hand-typed by a little old lady in some small Canadian province) is the first thing we can solidly hold in our hands that says “WE ARE DOING THIS”.

To that end, we thought we’d offer some of the most common questions we anticipate, and our answers to those questions.

Why do you want to do this?
P: Growing up in a small city in Oregon with easy access to the mountains and ocean, I developed an early appreciation of nature. Numerous weekends I'd find myself in the back of a wandering car, meandering down a quiet logging road or foothill fire lane; sometimes to dead end beaches or deserted dunes. It didn't matter to my parents what the destination of our journeys would be. Only that the journey was happening past rhododendron filled forests, or a rocky coastline, or along a ice cold stream. Nature was where they wanted to be most of the time, when time permitted.

Now I'm older. And, I've carried that local wanderlust with me. Enjoying what this beautiful state offers to it’s native child. Only, recent conversations brought to my attention the many local places I have not seen within my birthplace paradise. Which got me to thinking... I've got the rest of my life to explore Oregon and all it's wonders, I'm ready to take my wanderlust global. There are too many beautiful places to visit on this planet. I want to learn from other native children what makes their “Oregon” special to them, and peek inside their natural world to see what makes them feel awed. My close compadre and I are off to see, do, and listen about the places that make others feel the way I feel about my great state of Oregon.

J: I’ve tried to write an answer to this question numerous times, but I keep coming back to what she said. Unlike her, I wasn’t a headstrong child, I’m not married or mortgage-riddled, and while I love sharing my experiences with whoever runs across them, I have no expectations of turning this into a travel writing career. (Don’t get me wrong - that would be awesome - it’s just not what is driving me.)

But like her, I keep thinking that there must be more to life than this. And that sentiment is reinforced by every person who hears our story and says, “I wish I could do that.”

So why don't they?  As I get older I find that I need to learn every day to stay engaged. Traveling teaches me how other cultures treat life, and in my limited experience we Americans have a lot to learn. But it's not just that - from traveling I also learn patience. I learn humility. I learn gratitude.

There is a line in my favorite Barbara Kingsolver book, Animal Dreams: “What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive.” It’s time to start driving. I understand that not everyone has the luxury of taking this much time off to travel. I feel incredibly fortunate that I do, and I hope to give back in each place we visit as a way of thanking the universe.

Aren’t you scared?
J: Yes... but not in the way you probably mean.  I’m scared of waking up in 15 years only to get ready for my cube job while I wait out retirement.

And in the way that you probably mean, well... anything that could happen to me outside of Portland could just as easily happen to me inside of Portland - probably easier, in fact, since my guard is rarely up here. I kept my wits about me in South America (and crazy taxi drivers aside, that worked out well), I’ll do the same on this trip, and whatever happens will happen.

P: Well, yes.  Who wouldn’t be scared of walking away from an income, the security of a roof over your head every night, a pantry full of food, and all the comforts you expect in our fortunate society.  But I’m discovering this false sense of security and comfort is lulling me into idleness; the day to day routines dulling my senses.  I crave change!!  And what better way to force change upon yourself than shedding all your possessions and venturing off into the world.  Yes, I am afraid of what is to come.  I also feel more alive each day closer to our departure date, leaving all this behind to hit the road.

How do you even plan something like this?
J & P:  Excellent question that we ask ourselves almost every day.  Let us know when you find a good answer...!

But seriously.  So far our approach has been to scrimp and save as much as possible, slowly start to purge our possessions, immerse ourselves in RTW blog research, and map out a general route which includes must-see places, potential volunteer spots, and considerations about visa requirements, budget, weather, and general safety and security.

 a typical weekend lately

a typical evening lately

The best advice we’ve seen is to not plan. (That’s about the hardest thing for a project manager to hear... but Jen is coping with it rather nicely.)

So... what IS your plan?
J: Thanks for asking!  Read on...


  1. I love that I have found your blog! My husband and I are contemplating the same thing and I love reading stories from others who are making it happen! I look forward to following along on your adventures!

    1. Erin - all I can say is: DO IT! We have very few regrets and we've had an amazing two years and counting... Please let us know if you have any questions along the way.

  2. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do
    it for you? Plz respond as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where
    u got this from. thanks

    1. Thanks. We used a template out of Blogger.