Sunday, March 31, 2013


Annual goal planning just wrapped up at work.  I am obviously excused from this activity but as a joke I sent "2013 goals" to my boss and manager peers the other day - more or less the following list:
  • Successfully execute a slow RTW trip.  Metrics: 
    • on budget
    • # of countries visited, avg length of stay/country
    • ratio of airplanes to buses/trains taken, ratio of volunteer days to self-funded days
  • Increase social network at least 25% through active engagement with fellow travelers. Metrics: 
    • # of new friends we make via people we know, or who we meet on the road
    • % increase in Facebook page “like”s 
    • % increase in travel blog page views and comments
  • Perfect the art of spontaneity by having a general route - but not a detailed plan. Metrics: 
    • # of countries/sights visited that were not in the original route
    • # of recommendations from locals that trump our plan on any given day
    • periodic stress level measurements on a scale of 1-5 from not having a detailed plan
  • Learn how to milk goats, stretch goal: learn how to make goat cheese.  Metrics: 
    • quarts of goat milk and pounds of goat cheese generated 
    • goat milk and goat cheese subsequently consumed
    • pounds gained from all the goat milk and goat cheese consumption
Pretty sure I was the only one who thought this was funny.

(Actually, I still think it's pretty funny...)

urban goat: do not milk

Friday, March 29, 2013

On general health and well-being during long-term travel.

This post is for our various Moms, biological and pseudo.

First and foremost: insurance.  We're generally healthy people, as evidenced by our ability to run half marathons and walk upright the next day, and by our avoidance of the widespread plague this year.  Our biggest complaints are usually not contagious (headaches and occasional migraines, toothaches) or they are simply due to the fact that we are getting older (yeah... we're still coming to terms with this).

We've both traveled a fair amount and never had issues.  But we still obviously need some guarantee of health insurance on the road. After much research and consultation with friends, World Nomads seems to be the way to go.  They cover medical emergencies as well as some material losses (for example, cameras breaking or being stolen).  We've never really needed insurance and we're hoping this will continue to be true for the foreseeable future.

And on general well-being...  We've gotten lots of tips on how to avoid and/or deal with stomach ailments and parasites (by far the most common risk we will face).  Common sense is the simplest approach, but when that fails, pharmacies overseas tend to be more liberal with antibiotics and other remedies.  We've also talked to various people about recommended vaccinations... which we're still debating.  And inevitably the oh-so-disgusting prospect of bed bugs and how to avoid them eventually comes up too ("um, here's a solution - let's NOT STAY THERE?").  We'll happily share any advice on these topics as we run into them.

Food might be an issue though - last summer Jen was diagnosed with potato and gluten intolerance, plus a myriad of things that come along with those two foods.  Almost every day we think about how this will impact us on the road.  Budget dictates that we will try to cook our own food whenever possible and we have quite an arsenal of cheap and delicious recipes on hand, but the language barrier!  How to say "I can't eat wheat" in Polish, Thai, Slavic, Turkish?  One day recently, Jen joked that "there must be an app for that!"

Glory hallelujah. THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT.   Haven't found one for potatoes yet, or one that applies to gluten and potatoes, but we'll keep looking. 

And despite his love of bacon (which we all know is its own food group), Patrick is otherwise pescetarian/vegetarian.  We doubt he will have too much trouble on the road but ample protein consumption is definitely something else we'll have to contend with. 

So overall, we're not really worried. And you shouldn't be either, Moms.

Clean underwear, on the other hand...?  Definitely a concern!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to (not) sell a car on Craig's List.

Step 1:  Learn that your car (pretty desperately) needs a new transmission.  Change the plan of whose car to sell first.  Decide not to replace transmission, keep driving car.

Step 2: Post Craig's List ad including transmission disclaimer.  Research how to sell a car in Oregon and more importantly, how to identify counterfeit money.

Step 3:  Start screening calls.  Determine that the probability that the first nineteen thousand callers are looking for a car for their "16 year old daughter" is pretty slim.  Ignore those callers as well as their repeated texts.

Step 4:  Hold first appointment.  Disregard comments that your car was involved in a rear-end accident before you owned it, because this was not disclosed to you when you bought it and therefore, despite the blatantly clear evidence this person is pointing out (that you never noticed until now - but now you can't stop noticing), it must not be true.  Disregard similar comments during second appointment.  They are both refurbishers (who also do not have "16 year old daughters") - refuse their offers of 60% of what you are asking.

Step 5: Worry obsessively that the dude with the mafia-like accent, who has left you many menacing messages about wanting to buy your car, might actually track you down and show up at your door with a gun.

Step 6:  Decide that you have watched too many episodes of The Wire and let it go.

Step 7:  Freak out about not being able to sell your car in time.  Mourn the fact that a tax donation will not help you now.

Step 8:  Repost and hope for the best.  Eventually show car to nice, quiet, pregnant couple.  Begrudgingly negotiate 75% of original price.  Collect money, sign paperwork over and watch them drive your car away.  Cancel insurance immediately.  Call person who actually DOES have a 16-year old daughter and cancel appointment.

Step 9:  Make up a hundred stories about the pregnant couple and all the illegal things they plan to do with the car.   Check the money a hundred times.  Worry (x100) that the money is counterfeit.

Step 10:  Deposit money which is, in fact, not counterfeit.  Let the DMV worry about it from here...

thanks for nine great years!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday three.

Three reasons we want to visit Croatia, in no particular order:
(More amazing worldwide waterfall photos here.  Too many places...!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On planning, but not really planning. (But really, lots and lots of planning.)

Today is March 21.

We officially drive out of Portland on April 21.

Holy.  Crap.

This is not like packing up for a 3-week trip to New Zealand or Argentina, which we both did independently last year.

This is not like when I left for South America for four months in 2010.  I downsized, sure, but I left essentials in a 5x10 storage unit and I knew exactly when I was coming back.

This is actually a pretty big deal.

Almost every day now, one of us looks up and says "gaaaaaaaaaa we have so much to do!!!"  This causes a temporary panic and we go to the list... and then we calm down because we have crossed so many things off lately.  We've figured out daily budgets, packing lists, and health/travel insurance (more to come on all these later).  We have a list of visa requirements for the countries we know we want to visit, most of which we can get upon arrival, some of which we will need to take care of on the east coast where we'll also get our extra passport photos, Hostel International memberships and vaccinations (and where we will figure out what to do with Patrick's car).  We've set up general methods of communication including but not limited to what you're reading here (see "find us on" sidebar). 

We have the Canada leg pretty well lined up and we have all sorts of maps to get us to our various destinations (thanks, awesome future WWOOF hosts and AAA).  We're on alert for Skyscanner cheap flights to Poland in late August/early September.  And as far as the post-Canada portion of our trip... other than having a general destination and general route, We. Don't. Want. To. Plan.

We have tons of great advice from people we didn't even know would have advice.  (That's probably been the most amazing discovery over the last few weeks. Networking is easy when you find folks who are in the same frame of mind as you.)  So far no one has raised a question or concern that we haven't already thought about.

Granted, there are lots of little things to check off:
  • notifying the landlord, utilities, banks and credit card companies
  • shipping "must keep" memorabilia to safe havens or dropping personal boxes off with gracious friends who have offered to host a small space of stuff for us
  • determining the best cloud storage option for our music and photos for easy (and weightless) access on the road
  • trying to see our favorite Portland bands one last time
  • last visits with family and friends
  • selling my car and prepping for our moving sale in a few weeks (gaaaaaaaaa okay, those are not so little)
So we do one or two little things, and then we go for a run or I do yoga while he reads and then we watch a fascinating documentary about domes

While our daily freak-outs continue and will probably increase in frequency and duration over the next four weeks, I feel pretty good about what we've already accomplished and I am pretty confident that we know what we have to accomplish in the next few weeks and later on the east coast.  I'm grateful for my years of project management experience. I'm grateful for all the internet advice that has helped us get to this point.  I'm grateful for my east coast family and friends who will help us wrap up our task list later this summer. I'm grateful to have a partner in crime who helps me through my daily freak-outs, and who is just as eager as I am to check things off the list.

But mostly, I'm just grateful to have a moment of peace in a crowded bar where we can celebrate this milestone.  One more month!

Dry Fly Wheat, Yamazaki

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A dollar for the jar.

Patrick and I work at the same company (at least, we do for the next five weeks).  Right after we moved in together we cut a hole in the top of a Mason jar and from that point onward, added money every time we talked about work at home.  The amount of the deposit varied by topic and duration of conversation, ranging from $0.50 all the way up to $5.00.  It was a good reminder for us to leave the job at the office and enjoy our down time, and the proceeds were withdrawn every so often to purchase a nice bottle of whiskey.

When a 2013 departure recently started to look like a reality, we stopped removing dollars and decided to use that money for something specific for the trip - our Canadian National Parks passes.  Like the US National Park system, Canada allows you to purchase an annual pass good at all parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites.  We definitely want to see as much of Canada as possible, get some good hiking in, and hopefully do lots of camping as well - so this seemed like a good investment.

 plus or minus, depending

I don't know how much is in the jar right now.  I do know that it's definitely more than the cost of our Canadian National Park passes.  I also know that I've made additional deposits including the $100 bill I got from friends at Christmas ("for when you are sick to death of grungy hostels and just want a nice hotel") and the proceeds from selling DVDs and CDs back to Music Millennium.  I'm sure that some money from our forthcoming "estate sale" will make its way into the jar as well...

And I'm not sure what will replace our jar on the road - the receptacle or the reason for the deposit.  We don't plan to splurge on much but we both have our own creature comforts that will be even more important as we adapt to constantly being on the go.  So I'm sure we will think of something.  Ideas welcome.

(We also have a loose change jar in the form of a red velvet Buddha... but that's a story for another day.)