Category: the trip (page 1 of 3)

Happy International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day means to me: celebrating women. Doing and being me. Taking risks. Exploring. Standing up for myself. Listening to my inner voice and meeting my needs. Raising up other women. Disengaging from stuff I don’t believe in, stuff that tears women down. Being strong in and out of the workplace. Not listening to the “shoulds” anymore. Smirking when people tell me solo travel as a woman is “brave” (eyeroll much!?)

It’s stepping alone over snake tracks in the desert despite my fear, and marveling in the sunrise.

Making my own map, and my own destinations.

It’s celebrating the beauty in unexpected places. 

Much love to all my women and those who support us.

😘😘😘

 

solo women's travel

Catching sunrise in Death Valley

Being Social vs Being

I am about three months behind on my social media posts!

If you follow me on  Instagram or Facebook, I’m posting photos from Oregon. From the end of September. Eep!

Then again, who wouldn’t want to live in these images?

And you know from the blog, too, that it’s been hard to maintain anything like an up-to-date story here.

It is SUCH a double-edged sword.

Brain-cation

I am really proud of myself for taking the summer off, and not increasing my cell phone’s data package from 2G – on a family plan. With my parents! And using GPS semi-frequently.

Sure, I could’ve gotten more followers or engagement in the moment. But, part of this trip was that I was really burnt out on all the “glued-to-a-screen” connectivity of modern life and of my job. Especially my job.

And I really started to notice all the mindless scrolling I did when I did get back on wifi. Reddit. The latest SNL videos on Youtube. Facebook.

I’ve seen marked improvement in recent days. I think it’s because I started getting curious about the value add. And because I actually have things to do, like finish my novel and increase my Instagram followers – see below!

Moment vs. Memories

Plus, sometimes it takes a LONG time to craft posts. You have to drive to the place that has wifi, connect to wifi, download the images, sort them, edit them, log in to the social accounts, upload them, hope the wifi doesn’t crash in the middle of this (which has happened more than once!), caption them, hashtag them. THEN, you have to “engage” with people online by liking and commenting on their stuff. I mean, this is like a full-time job in some companies! ::shakes my head::

Meanwhile, I’d been sitting at a screen for the past 15 years. There’s an entire natural world out there to explore, and I want to make the most of the time that I have. This is a big country, and some of the destinations are far apart. The drives are long. The hikes are tiring. So sometimes it’s hard to have the brain power to want to buckle down and sit behind a screen.

Instagram Social Boost

I’m also proud of myself for figuring out a way to finally increase my Instagram following. In the last seven days, I’ve increased my followers by about 160 percent. Woo hoo! It’s taken some concentrated effort, and regular wifi access. But not very long per day to do. Which was awesome!

And, hey! If you’re not following me, go do it. Right now! www.instagram.com/laurenalism

I’m Feeling 22 …

Just did a tally and … it looks like I’ve been to an equal number of states and national parks in my six months on this trip: 22.

How is that possible?! Looks like I can’t go to any others on this trip – gotta keep up this equilibrium!

This lil car has seen a lot of places!

National Parks: 22

Cuyahoga, Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier, North Cascades, Olympic, Mount Rainier, Redwood, Lassen, King Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Carlsbad Caverns, Saguaro National Parks.

States: 22

Virginia, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona.

 

Souvenir Shopping in Taos, NM

Despite my conflicted feelings on Taos, I bought my most significant souvenirs there.

Proud Lady

The first was this R.C. Gorman print: 

R.C. Gorman's

R.C. Gorman’s “Proud Lady” source: SouthwestArt.com

 

I first saw this in the lobby of the Hotel LaFonda, and wow. To see this towering over you, in a 6’x4′ frame (at least.) “Powerful” doesn’t do it justice.

I wanted the largest one, but I am glad I got one at a solid size, which I could afford.

Finding the Perfect Souvenir

The other was the one souvenir from the outset of my trip I knew I wanted to get .

When I was growing up, my dad’s father wore this turquoise ring that was silver and had two rectangles of turquoise next to a larger square of turquoise. It was pretty big – took up most of his knuckle. He and my grandma traveled a lot, and that ring always stood out to me. It was lost at some point, so since I was going to be in the Southwest, I was looking for something similar.

Unfortunately, the bigger the (real, quality) ring, the more expensive. And, of course, we are still doing “women’s = FLOWERS” and “men’s = huge and clunky.”

After combing through entire jewelry stores, I finally found a large, oval ring made for women. It is as tall as my knuckle and actually fits snugly around my finger. It’s got these kind of “rock and roll” details, too: the band splits into three different ones that end in these silver knobs. They perfectly accent the black marble design on the turquoise. Many people who have seen it have complimented the turquoise, so I know I did good, and I am really happy about that!

The Majesty of Yosemite

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Visiting Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is awesome! It floats in the distance beyond Seattle, an eerie apparition that glows in the pink sunsets. Being able to explore it up close was so cool.

Everywhere you look, you see the peak.

Mount Rainier Geology

It’s the highest mountain in Washington, and the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest.

It’s a volcano, and there’s a chance it could blow in our lifetimes.

You’d be forgiven for not realizing it’s a volcano, though. Its fiery potential is covered by 26 major icy glaciers, 36 square miles of them.

Needless to say, it was interesting to sleep on. Not as scary as Yellowstone’s Supervolcano, but it somehow felt more conspicuous, being a conical mountain. It was easier to imagine the lava blowing out the top.

Mount Rainier National Park

I really liked this National Park, because it was a manageable size. There’s one main artery through it. The hikes are straightforward, and there aren’t things like grizzlies or rattlesnakes to contend with. There weren’t many people there when I was there, either. Another highlight.

I did meet another woman who was traveling around the country by herself. She was a bit older and had a small RV and two dogs. I haven’t met too many other solo women travelers on this trip, so I enjoyed talking to her.

West Side, First Night

On my drive and for the rest of the night, it was a bit misty and the sky was overcast. When I arrived to the park, I checked out the short Kautz Creek Trail. It was an interpretive trail that talked about lava flow, mud and debris from the volcano. I walked around the Longmire Museum, but it was closed. The trail that circles the entire peak (26 miles!) is always open, so I walked down a bit of that, the Nisqually River for a while. I love glacial melt, the eerie greenish-gray color and the rushing water.

Log bridge over the rushing Nisqually

There’s a Mount Rainier back there, I swear

 

Then I set up camp.

The night I arrived was cool and misty, but I got sooo lucky the next day, as you can see by the photos. I also got lucky to wake up early, before any clouds came in to interrupt the sunshine.

Stevens Canyon Road

It was pretty shocking to wake up and realize that the overcast sky had covered a GIANT peak. The same peak I had seen miles away, from Seattle and Bellingham and on Whidbey Island. Meanwhile, driving right into the park, I didn’t see it at all.

Boy, did I see it the morning I woke up in the park. It rose up in front of me the entire day, no matter where I was.

I started by driving Stevens Canyon Road. The road rose as it went along. I pulled off most of the pull offs. After a while, I started to be higher than the clouds! I saw Narada Falls, Christine Falls, and Reflection Lakes. Then the elevation changed again: I came around a corner and was in Stevens Canyon, which brought me back downhill. There was some gorgeous red foliage, as it was full sun here. It was a great fall scene.

Fall foliage in Stevens Canyon, Mount Rainier

 

Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier

Sunrise

Then I drove out to Sunrise, which was pretty remote. It’s one of the least visited areas of the park. When I got there, the parking lot was nearly empty. The Visitor’s Center and the Day Lodge were closed. I took my oatmeal, coffee, and Jetboil to a picnic table for breakfast. Frozen Lake was too far for what I wanted to do that day, but I hiked a bit down the trail. I did hike over to Emmons Glacier Overlook. That was cool. Rainier rose up like one of the Alps, and the Center and Lodge added to the Swiss feel.

View on the drive to Sunrise. What a commute!

A deer friend, enjoying the view of the peak.

Paradise

I coasted back down the mountain, and hit Stevens Canyon Road again. This time I did the Grove of the Patriarchs, where I saw some giant trees and a very pretty river. Then I drove up to the Paradise Region.

There’s a reason its name is “Paradise.” Mount Rainier rises up dramatically behind it. From the visitor’s center/parking lot, many trails take you all the way up to it.

“Up” indeed. Thankfully, it was the perfect fall weather, and I had my hiking stick. I made it about 1.5 miles in, with some serious elevation gain. It was awesome. The views stayed … about the same. It was surprisingly crowded, considering the campground and most of my morning drive were barely populated.

On the way back down, at the entrance to the trail just past the visitor’s center, these two girls were doing “glamour shots” on the mountain. One was taking photos, and one was modeling, I guess? Maybe it was senior pictures, or one of their clothing line. There was a lot of giggling, frolicking and hair tossing. Not the usual vibe on a mountain trail, but it was entertaining. And the backdrop was amazing, so I can see why they chose it.

 

View from Paradise Region. Mount Rainier dominates the skyline up here.

Camping

I camped in Cougar Rock Campground. It was my first night back to camping after nearly a month in Bellingham and Sarah’s AirBnB. I really enjoy camping, so the transition wasn’t too hard, and it’s not too cold yet. The night was quiet and cool. I enjoy all the outdoor time, and getting in my tent just after sundown. I usually get a lot of sleep this way, and sleep very solidly.

The only problem was … this is ANOTHER National Park that did NOT have soap in the bathrooms. Not, like, they ran out. They just didn’t have any. Shake my head … It can’t be good for public health and safety.

I’m also listening to a fascinating audiobook, The Mysterious Benedict Society. It’s a bit Lemony Snicket meets Spy Kids. I enjoy breaking up my usual with lighter fare like this, and I can usually devour kids’ books in a day or two on the road.

Recommendation: Do It.

I really enjoyed my time on Mount Rainier, and I would definitely recommend a stay in this park. I’m sure it’s crazy busy during peak season, and it has one of the more limited seasons because of snowfall blocking much of the park. Plus there’s clouds to contend with. But if you time it right, it’s a majestic experience.

 

Photo of the Day: Oregon Coast

First glimpse of the Oregon Coast!

 

It is a lifelong dream of mine to drive the entire Pacific Coast. Now, after doing the San Diego to San Fran portion of the Pacific Coast Highway in October 2015, I’ll be within reach of that!

The Oregon portion is 363 miles, and I will do the whole thing. Starting in Astoria, zooming on down to Brookings. I’ll take about a week to do it, camping at the awesome state parks along the way. (No reservations, wish me luck!)

The route itself was founded in 1926. Could you imagine tooling along it back then? It’s pretty remote now, with just a few population centers. Vacation and second homes dot the route, but they cost a serious penny.

Oregon’s Mile-by-Mile Guide

I’m also soooo excited I found this amazing guide, Oregon Coast Magazine’s Mile By Mile Guide.

As an info geek, it’s been really helpful to have in the passenger seat. It’s easy to read and follow along with. It’s incredibly thorough – if anything, I was missing stuff. But not this guide!

 

 

Grand Tetons: Hiking String Lake and Rockchuck Peak

Almost back to Civilization: Chilling in the North Cascades

Destination: Bellingham

Excited for and interested in Bellingham. Islands and orcas and civilization, OH MY. 🙂

I’ll have to look up some things to do, tomorrow, at that wifi place, and then at the dealership. Two weeks later, I’m back in the dealership. BUT. It’s serendipitous that (if such a thing had to happen) I can go.

I wish the ferry didn’t cost so much. Sounds pretty cool, eh?

Not sure about customs, I guess.

Will have to get one more night in the hotel, pray they have one! Sunday to Monday, they should, eh?

Or I can see if the Air BnB has one.  X-P

Nights in Bellingham, I’ll have to do a little report on Yellowstone. Start with Wikipedia, perhaps.

And I need to get Empire of Shadows. An 800-page book about the history of Yellowstone Park’s formation? I’m there.

We’ll see how pretty Bellingham is.

Beat Poets in the Cascades

After reading about the Beat poet’s connection to the Cascades in Poets on the Peaks, I also need to find a book store, stat, for some Kerouac: Dharma Bums, [Desolation] Angels.

Can you IMAGINE a crazy drug addict up in the fire tower? Almost makes a good play in itself. Perhaps.

Mousey Roommates

I’m doing … weirdly fine. There’s the stress about the mice situation, but it’s, uh, as under control as it’s going to be. IDK. I’ve caught like ten. This is really embarrassing to tell you guys, I don’t know why. The dealership guy was like, “Yeah, you were camping … and mice got in the car. Of course.” Meanwhile, I’m having a nervous breakdown. Le sigh.

We’ll see what kind of damage they’ve inflicted to my internal wiring, clothes, etc. EEK. At this point I think they are just coming out from the woods here, rather than an internal thing. Fuck you, NPS, for your “not messing with the ecosystem*,” as well as anyone who leaves their shit out**. *I mean, really. A campground and **the people who leave their shit out are already messing with the ecosystem. The people scare away the larger predators, which makes the little guys … abundant, to say the least. So, NPS: help us out with some mouse control, y’know?

The Rest of North Cascades

Today I think I’ll do the right side of the park (east), and …

The road to Stehekin is washed out! That’s crazy. No shuttle bus, either, which is weird for a national park. For all the money I’m sure the damn Seattle City Light people bring in, this place is seriously low maintenance. The “national park” designation definitely feels like a front …

I bet people in Seattle don’t come here as much because they think of this as some crazy electric company complex, or something. I wouldn’t blame them. Newhalem has that feel.

I do need to put my new sticker on my computer! My computer is going to look pretty rad as I head to new locations. 🙂 I’ll need to keep getting small stickers, of course.

The Daily Grind

This Neil Gaiman book, Stardust, is the bomb diggity. It’s totally a kid’s fairy tale, but it’s got elements of LOTR in it. Total “hero’s journey” kind of thing. I do want to read “The Hero with 1,000 Faces” some day.

I’m clearing like, an audiobook a day, which is fun and exciting. It’s hard to read books when I’m driving all day, setting up camp, cooking is more involved, etc.

I meditated this morning, too! Excited that I finally am doing some daily practices, like meditating and writing, that were really hard to do when someone else’s work was my top priority. Blech 🙂

Forty-five minutes to the nearest grocery: Notes from Cascadia

Out in Cascadia, living in the beautiful solace of aquamarine lakes and mountains also means a 90 minute round-trip drive to the nearest store, gas station, and showers.

Diablo Lake

Worth it, right? Diablo Lake. Yes, it’s really that color! Tiny debris from glaciers (“glacial flour”) reflects the sky & light, which makes it that color.

Travel Life

Finally found the showers. They were at this chi-chi campground outside the park and past town. I drove right by them yesterday because the place had recently been bought and the name changed.  The facility was actually really nice. It was newly remodeled and your $5 got you into what looked like the bathroom of someone’s house. The showers weren’t on a timer, either, so I took a big long one 🙂

In town, I also found free wifi! It was from this modular building that served as the library, though its hours were really limited so I just sat on the steps outside. Downloaded ten audiobooks, and talked to a few friends for a long time. I checked some emails, IG, FB, and texts. It was nice to plug in again … I guess ;).

The Sights

I then did the river loop trail and trail of the cedars and walked around the town of Newhalem, as well as the Ladder Creek Falls and the Gardens back there (very citizen kane, if you ask me), as well as checking out Diablo Lake again. I listened to the entirety of Mogul while I did that, and then Marie Forleo’s interview with Daymond James.

Skagit River

Skagit River from Trail of the Cedars bridge

Trail of the Cedars

Trail of the Cedars bridge, North Cascades National Park, Washington

 Details of the Day

The weather has been perfect: sunny and 75. It gets just cool enough overnight that it’s good for sleeping, but I don’t need tons of layers or blankets. Bless!

I wrote for 45 minutes this morning, too. Getting any kind of daily habit while moving around so much, and doing all the physical work of setting up the campsite, etc.

Came back and listened to a ton of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.

Colored while making dinner and actually until almost 9:00 pm. It makes me feel better. Listened to Stardust until nearly 11, and then went to sleep listening to a guided meditation. Overall, I slept pretty well.

My air mattress is losing air more rapidly, but having the foam pad underneath has been helpful. I may have to take it out and see what’s up; it’s the one thing I didn’t take apart and clean in Missoula, so it may be time.

Nighty night!

The Case of the Missing Showers

Guten Tag!

I’m supposed to be a writer, so this is me writing:

I’m sitting at a picnic table, waiting for water to boil. I haven’t showered in 2.5 days.

Doing a hike right up the side of a mountain today probably didn’t help.

Cascades

Cascade Range, from my campground

Hidden Lake Remained Hidden

It was an odd experience today. I had to turn around, though went until I couldn’t go on any longer. Alone, as it was getting way hotter, and then … I smelled cigarette smoke on the trail?

Even with bear spray, my brain was psyching me out too much. All it kept telling me was that there was a cigarette-smoking loner on the loose. Phooey.

Also I hate uphills, so it might have been my brain sabotaging my hike. 😛 Except … a 9-mile, 2900-elevation gain by myself probably was a bit ambitious?

I did get up to crossing Sibley Creek, and that felt like I was in the land of dinosaurs. There was so much vegetation, huge leaves, slits of brilliant sunlight … it was awesome.

Here’s Hidden Lake via NPS, since I couldn’t deliver 🙂

Diablo Lake

It’s not Hidden: here’s Diablo Lake. Yes, this is the view from my campground. This place is magical.

Shower Sleuthing

After lunch, I went to the Visitor’s Center to text my peeps. That is the only place with service in a 30-mile radius. Then I drove around for 1.5 hours to find ice, and ostensibly to find the place with showers. There are none in the National Park, which seems to be par for the course? I don’t exactly understand that … I guess it’s an environmental thing, and a resource thing? But they could also be making money off them, in theory.

Anyway: North Cascades Visitor’s Center directed me to a campground outside of the park.

I think I drove right by it? (To be fair, I think its signage sucked.)

I ended up in a state park, which had no showers. I also drove by Cascadian Farms. Like, the actual farm of that brand. They had strawberries, but no showers.

Thank heavens for baby wipes, I guess?

Night Life on the Road
Campground in North Cascades NP

Mmmchka. It’s bumping around here.

Meanwhile, for dinner, I’m making Hamburger Helper: Hashbrowns, so that’s exciting.

It doesn’t get dark for a while, so I’ll probably work on some fiction, then listen to an audio book.

Here’s hoping not showering is a natural bug repellent …

Diablo Lake, North Cascades

Yes, the water really is this color. The windswept trees were crazy. That happens because they are so high on the cliff and the wind comes right down the mountain, over the lake, and back up.

The coloration of the water is caused by “Glacial flour,” tiny particles that get ground up under and in the glacier, and then come down as the glaciers retreat in the warmer season, or maybe through rain or snow.

T-Minus 20: Thai Food and Sleep.

Bon Giorgio! (That should say “bon giorno” but it autocorrected, and I like it!)

The latest: 

So, work today took a very weird turn. I won’t go into details, per basically every career advice article on the Internet. But, I would just like to submit to the record that as the odd timing and circumstances of things continues at a fast clip … “signs,” if you will? Yeah. There is no doubt I am meant to go on this journey. 

Sell-pdate

Today I only sold $10 worth of items, but it’s still amazing to me who will drive how far to buy $5 items. One guy was *jazzed* about this small vase I have. There are 100 stories to conjure from that! The first is: “is this secretly way more valuable than I realized and I need to look this up on Antique Roadshow or something?!” Or he could just really be into Pier One Bellagio-esque vases. Who knows! 

Still messaging with people at a steady rate, but it is distracting and annoying. The follow-through rate of some people! Or just the kind of defensive posturing or start to conversations. Sigh. It’s good perspective on “shit-together-ness,” I suppose.

Sleep

The bed thing … slept on my camp pad last night. It works and I love it, but it’s not my bed. Still in a mourning period I’m sure. Sleep is so important that I really feel like it affects the rest of my day. Also had some intense PT for my rotator cuff yesterday, so not sure if today’s discomfort is from weird sleep, or PT soreness. Days like this I with semi-terror that I may be in pain and feel like shit the whole trip. Nearly everyone has promised me not. My PT and chiro assure me that getting away from my desk is (in essence) the cure. (Yeah, the hazards of sitting are THAT real.) 

Sleep GOOP

Speaking of hazards: I tried some “Amazing GOOP” on my air mattress. Yes, that’s its name. No, it is not by Gwennie, but watch out for that fat lawsuit. Anyway: this adhesive advises use in highly ventilated areas. Except it’s still like 50 outside, so I may have to move my camp pad to a different room so I don’t die of pneumonia or fumes. Though, tbh, I’m not sure it’s active bc it came out like drying gum and sure applied looking like gum discarded on a sidewalk. But, shit, if it fixes my badass queen-sized air mattress, then … who cares?

I mean, uh… : Can’t wait to start sleeping on a cot in cold-ass natural elements!! (Oh hey daily, “CAMERON CARPENTER WHAT HAVE I DONE!?” (yes google him.))

Budget Time

I will need to start to more seriously watch my spending. I was in a fog after work. Combination of the work thing, general lack of sleep, and shoulder soreness. I’ve also eaten out since basically Friday night (mostly on other people’s incredible generosity, FTR 🙏) So I was like, f it, and took a walk to the Thai restaurant by my house.  A Nutella factory and a Thai restaurant are basically the only two things that should not be within walking distance of my house.

But! Walking is good, and I have been doing more lately, which is great. I definitely need the practice. Trying to bump up to 15K average steps/day, from 10K. Which is not terribly hard, interestingly. Once you get moving … 

Funny, reflecting on that & my work experience … early this am when I first woke up, I Tweeted: “Get to it to get through it … right?” 

Answered my own question today, it seems. 

With the help of relying heavily on my friends. And a bit of Thai. Now: to sleep?

Xo

LJP 

T-Minus 21: Holy tsunami.

Phew. 21 days, y’all. The tsunami beginneth. 

Three weeks! 

One week from today is my birthday! 

So much is happening! 

Tsunami Part 1

Driving home tonight, I hyperventilated for a minute when I realized this is my last full week of “normal” work – like: the final. Four. Days. Of. Employed. Life. For the forseeable future. And this trip is happening in 3 weeks. 21 days. It’s actually happening. 

NBD.

😑  

Endings

No matter how much I want this; no matter how much I have wanted this freedom & sabbatical & unlimited vacation days, there is something significant about the ending. 11 years of familiar, quasi-routine, in the same place with many of the same people and things. 

Buh bye. Poof. Vamoose. 

Reflections

I had dinner with one of my oldest friends tonight. We’ve always talked a lot about our hopes & dreams. There were some really good highlights – he’s soooo excited for and proud of me. I’m holding on to this outside perspective when things get rough. He also talked about, in the simplest manner, realizing that some things we adore just cannot be done for other people. 

Bada boom: for me, that’s writing. Thank you, CHo. 😉

And he totally identifies with the “what am doing with the mortgage and the job instead of The Dream?” We talked about how to get after that. It was very nice. We also ate way too much pizza & frickles. Frickles. Of course that happened! 🙂

I know I haven’t done nearly enough justice to the significance of all the meetings I’ve had with the people – the people are the significance, not all this selling shit. But I won’t be able to sit down & digest that until some of the selling is done … or maybe not even until I get to my parents’ house. Or on the road-road. It’s a lot. #tsunamis. 

The Selling Tsunami Ebbs

While I waited for him, I split up more of my possessions. I sorted out the rest of the pantry. I got the boxes out to start packing. I’m going to send one or two home so I don’t have to worry about my car overflowing. 

I’m also sorting the “sell” pile into “give to friends” “donate” “etc.” A good chunk of whatever doesn’t sell online by the end of this week will go with me to the park. Talk about a swag bag! Lol. 

The couch still needs to go. It’s a little disconcerting, but I have half a month after the 1st (when I assume people will be looking) to sell it, so … it’ll be fine.

Though I should trust there’s a reason it hasn’t sold yet … probably because right now it’s my bed. And office. And living room. Good rehearsal for #tentlife, eh? 

The Belt-Tightening Beginneth

Now that I’ve gotten all this rad sales money in … time to stop the outflow. Today I was able to request final service on Comcast (no fee was mentioned … yet … allegedly it’s $220!?) and my electricity. My gas account locked me out, so I’ll have to do that tomorrow. And I really need to renew my VA license plate registration like ASAP. 

I’ll also have to suspend my Netflix soon – aka hurry up & finish Frankie & Grace. 😢

Spotify is the one “disposable” income item I will wait til my last $10 to cancel, however 😉 

Thank bless that podcasts are free! 

I will probably listen to Up & Vanished’s latest epi as I’m falling asleep. An odd choice, I know, but ITS THAT GOOD. Though right now I’m on Doreen Virtue’s weekly video, which is hella relevant. Of course. 🙂 

Of Weather and Sleep

Sitting in the bath, writing this on my phone & trying to chill myself out before couch sleep. 

Ironic, since My Best Friend The Weather Channel ™ is still saying it’s going to be 90 this weekend. That’s nuts!! It’s 50 and rainy right now. Talked a lot about the weather in the parks with people who’ve been there. One who saw five days of chilly rain in Glacier in August; the other who saw 90 in Yosemite in August. So, basically: this week. Oy. 

I continue to see people all week. Next week will be much chiller. I’ve noted before that it’s probably good that I’m so busy right now, because I think I would stress myself out wayyyyy too much with the “wtf”s and “what ifs” and re-organizing my possessions for the umpteenth time if I was just home every night. 

But, at least there’s stuff to do other than RUMINATE. 

I know selling my bed was a big deal, but quitting my job without another … That makes it real. Things really do start to spin out of my control then (no more income that day or 14 days later, etc.) 

Not to mention I don’t need any other factors to contribute to not being able to sleep on my truncated bed/office/couch/closet/unintentional trial run situation. Le sigh 😉 

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

You see, kids, this is when Grandma was too lazy to glue the hole in her giant air mattress that night … or clean off the clothes, coat, laptop, ExHd, etc. … thus bringing the tsunami to bed. BAD FOR SLEEP HYGIENE. Learn from my generation’s mistakes.

Good night!

Xoxo

LJP 

Gear Check: Considering The Cot

My sleeping plans for this trip are cornerstone to this trip.
Which makes this baby one of the most important items in my gear load. Yes, I have the Cadillac of all air mattresses, the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Dream Mattress  (which, incidentally is listed for way more than when I bought it, wow.)

Comfortable sleeping arrangements are the only way I could do this trip. My back and shoulders are not in great shape (thanks to sitting at a desk all day!!!) And (as anyone who’s woken up near me knows) I’m useless if I don’t get enough sleep – my brain goes on strike for what seems to be the whole day. So, to be able to rely on the comfort of the Therm-A-Rest is well worth the money (or, as I put it: “the cost of 5 PT appointments”!) I’ve slept on it a bunch now camping & it’s fabulous.

So then I saw the REI Cadillac Cot and thought if I had that, I’d have a real “bed” of sorts … Well, it’s too big for my tent (pout!) So now I have to decide on a different one. The idea would be to put the air mattress on top of the cot. The question is, which cot?

Choices

I headed over to my frienemy Amazon. They conveniently have a whole section on cots that you can rank by rating. This Coleman “Converta” cot caught my eye. I like how the back comes up, to have a ‘couch’ or chaise, so I do not have to add  a camp chair as well.
But it looks like my air mattress is going to be right up to the edges of it. Not sure if the overlap on those middle supports on the side will hurt the air mattress.

I’m also concerned because the fabric that is wrapped around the bars creaks – A LOT – when I first sit on it. Other users on Amazon said theirs ripped, even if they were well under the weight load.
Coleman makes the same version of this one, but with bungee cords on the side. Those may make it more giving/comfortable?

Now, I’m leaning toward the Coleman ComfortSmart. It comes with its own mattress. I imagine my air mattress + this would be sweeeet. But is it going to be too thick once it’s folded & in my car?

Or do I go super-basic, flat, military-style, like this Coleman PackAway Cot?

Gear: National Parks Annual Pass

It’s National Parks Week! So let’s look at a key piece of gear for my National Parks trip: the National Parks Annual Pass.

This thing is a steal! And it’s a great way to support the lovely wonderlands in our country.

It’s also how I’m able to afford visiting so many of the National Parks on a really tight budget. The pass allows you to get into any per-person or per-vehicle National Park without paying the fee. With some parks costing $20 per person for entry, this is an insane bargain. Especially because ~

Pro tip: if you’re broke, you & a friend (does not need to be relation!) can both sign on to one pass. So You each pay $40, and then just need to visit +2 parks each to save. Woo hoo!

Join my adventure by buying your own! Here’s some FAQs for more information.

Also, check out this list of all the Federal Recreation Areas. This may come in handy at some point! ::saves to iBooks::

 

Image result for 2017 annual pass national parks

Ironically this year’s image is one of the places I intend to visit!

via

T-Minus 26: Light at the end of the tunn-sell?

I took this week off work to prep, post and sell as many of my things as I could. (And also because my workplace doesn’t pay out vacation days at the end, eye roll! Protect yourself & check the policy, people.)

Thanks to my work over the past three days, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel with this sell-all-the-things nuttiness. I also can finally see an ROI, too!

Why sell?

My goal is to divest myself of things for the spiritual benefit – that whole, “what are you creating space for?”

In my research and gear-gets, I see too that we need next to nothing to survive. I then reflect on how much debt we are in. I wonder if everyone sold their stuff, too …

Speaking of avoiding debt: these sales further add to funds for my trip! I just did the math and right now, what I’ve sold will consequently fund at least six extra weeks of camp sites. So! I’d say six extra weeks of sight-seeing is worth the work of the past two. 🙂

Only a few more things to sell ... #adventures #adventure #packing #selleverything #ontheroad #getoutside #camping #gear #forsale #bye

“Stuff, stuff, go away, bring me money so I can camp some extra days”

It’s like air traffic control for a private jet convention

Thanks to K’s tip on Facebook Yard Sale groups, in three days, I’ve doubled my earnings from the past three weeks sellingallmystuff. I’m now 4/5ths of the way to the (arbitrary) goal I set. WOO HOO!

And this doesn’t even count the big things: bed, speakers, couch, dining table.. I’ve gotten bites on each of them, so that’s a start.  Let’s hope they sell! (Switch to affirmation mode: My bed, dining table, couch, speakers are sold. I hold the payment for them in my hands. I see it go into my bank account. Repeat.)

It’s definitely not easy. One lesson is that to post & sell so many items is like a new job. Definitely want to create space for that! There’s a lot to manage, and intricacies to learn in the photo/post/correspond/meet. That aspect can take it out of me too. I joke that I feel like the air traffic controller at a private jet convention!

Fo Realz

I find I start to get annoyed with myself, or embarrassed, about writing/whining about the “sell” part of this trip “so much.”

::dramatically falls back onto chaise.::

But, I realize now this is part of the ‘job’ or work of this expedition. It’s the foundation that will allow me to get on the road. I don’t think it’s realistic to just leave behind an apartment full of possessions. Or prudent, cuz it turns out they are also little piles of dollars. Hehe!

And to share what I’m going through in the moment is part of the “real-ness” I want to bring to this experience. (Er, this blog. This trip is already so real.) I do not want to be one of those FOMO-inducing people who only shows the pretty mountain pictures. (Editor’s note: Check back June 15 for gobs of pretty mountain pictures.)

Lessons Learned

If I have any wisdom from this experience, it would be that I could have better time boundaries around these tasks, and hence, it’d be easier to chill in my “off” times. I basically fell into that in the last 24 hours. The schedule sort of sifts itself out, too, I suppose.

And yet, I furthermore have had to deal with grief, away for five days for the funeral, and there are also some other life things going on. Therefore, I’m sure that combination, plus my general fears & “what ifs” about this trip, fuel the feeling of busy-ness.

But, I have to give myself credit, too! I’ve done the work and have been able to earn a lot of money, in about three weeks. I will have few possessions left to hold me down or worry about how to get them to where I end up. I know my car will not be over-full when I am on the road (always a safety concern!)

The Rest of the Picture

Like a snow globe, it was a right flurry up in here for a bit. But finally, it seems like things may slowly drift into place:

  • It is nice to notice that the rest of my apartment really is mostly ready to go. (Cupboards, drawers & shelves are empty. Clothing mostly packed. Trip gear packed & separated into its own closet.)
  • I have already set time boundaries for the final weekend, to do the required deep-clean of my apartment. (Ah, ye Sisyphean task! ::shakes fist:: Hey, you know what would make a good birthday present por moi? LOL.)
  • I simply have to survive either three (or one?!) more weeks of work.
  • I’m set to see most of the people I want to before I leave.
  • The invite for the farewell/birthday party is out.
  • The first 30-60 days post-D.C. is outlined.
  • My general itinerary is in place.
  • Most of the gear I have.
  • There’s a running list of remaining bits “to order.”

Zoinks.

This trip is, like, really about to happen. 😳

And, best of all: I maybe actually will sleep a full night tonight 😱

Thanks for riding along,

LJP

Gear Check: Clothing

The great sorting has begun! No, this is not Harry Potter, though I’m sure HP’s involved. I inventoried the clothing I’m going to take, and divided it below. The first list is grouped by “event,” the second is by items (ie all Ts are together, technical or not.) What am I missing? What should I consider adding? (Aside from a sun hat. Probably need a sun hat.)
As things heat up here in DC (it was 91 on my car temp gauge this Sunday!) I checked the monthly averages of some of the parks again … and some of them still get down to 40 ON AVERAGE overnight, no matter HOW hot they get during the day! I was planning to sweat, but now maybe I should plan to freeze? (Also: a friend mentioned that one of those emergency blankets is a great sleeping bag liner, in case it does get really chilly. Wheeee.) Here we go:
Some of the clothes.

Maybe someday I’ll do one of those fancy, OCD-ish laid-out spreads, … but who has time for that, really?

Sorted by Event
Sports/hiking wear: 
Capris – 3
Long leggings – 3
Conversion shorts/pants – 1
Sleeveless tanks – 4
SS Ts – 5
LS shirt – 1
Rain coat – 1
Sports bras – 6
Sports technical socks – 14 prs
2 swimsuits
1 swimming cover up
#
Regular clothes: 
 
Sleeveless tanks – 6
Short sleeves – 3
Zip grey sweater – 1
Raspberry zip hoodie – 1
Jeans – 1
Black legging/jeans – 1
Shorts – 2 (1 jean 1 blue khaki)
Skirts – 2 (1 grey 1 black)
PJs – 2 pr boxer shorts 2 shirts
Regular bras – 3
Mid cotton socks – 7 prs
#
Cold Weather Gear (taking w) 
1 Columbia Coat
1 pair sweat pants
1 grey hoodie
1 pr long john thermal leggings
1 LS thermal shirt
1 shawl/scarf
1 pair leather gloves
1 beanie
2 pair thick socks
#
Shoes 
Hiking boots – 1
Hiking sandals – 1
Tennis shoes – 1
Water shoes – 2
Flip flops (showers) – 1
Strappy sandals (regular) – 3
###
 
Using the above inventory – overall wardrobe by category: 
Bottoms – 16
Shorts – 4
Capris – 3
Skirts – 2
Conversion shorts/pants – 1
Long leggings/pants- 6
Dresses – 2
Tops – 25
Ts – 10
Tanks – 10
LS shirts – 2
Sweaters – 3
Other
Rain coat – 1
Bras – 9
Socks – 21 prs
PJs – 2 pr boxer shorts
Swimsuits – 2
Tunic cover-up – 1
Cold Weather – 6 
1 Winter Coat
1 pr long john thermal leggings
1 LS thermal shirt
1 shawl/scarf
1 pair leather gloves
1 beanie
Shoes – 10 prs
Hiking boots – 1
Tennis shoes – 1
Water shoes – 3
Sandals – 5

Communications Gear: To PLB, Satt Message, or go off the grid?

While I intend (look forward to, savor, rejoice at the idea of) to be “off-the-grid” as much as possible, and really, really would like to break my “checking my iPhone every 1-3 minutes” habits, there are practical considerations* to being in an area with no communications by cell phone or wifi service (egads!) (*usually, those are: “serving as the backdrop for a horror flick or James Franco vehicle.”)
A friend who does some extreme backcountry camping  – more intense that I intend to do for now – suggested a PLB in case of actual emergency & no signal.
My mom … suggested I find something that lets her stay in touch as much as possible.
So I did a little research.
#

This DeLorme device appears to have been the best for two-way messaging: https://www.amazon.com/AG-008727-201-Explorer-Satellite-Communicator-Navigation/dp/B00I6EY01C/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1492220519&sr=8-11&keywords=personal+locator+beacon#HLCXComparisonWidget_feature_div

The “new” device (the DeLorme tech under the Garmin name) seems to be the one preferred for messaging, no matter if we have service: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MRZ9ATL/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=hikeve-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B01MY03CZP&linkId=f8a3bc0524535763c28adaeb43543145&th=1

To access the Iridium network and communicate with an inReach SE+ or Explorer+, an active satellite subscription is required. Depending on usage level, users can opt for an annual contract package or a flexible month-to-month airtime plan, which allows them to pay for service only when they need it. Annual plans range from $11.95 to $79.95 per month (plus activation fee), and month-to-month plans range from $14.95 to $99.95 per month.

Let me know your thoughts. I’ve read a bunch of articles now and these seem to be kind of it for options. In fact, C and I went to REI and the ones I’ve outlined above (minus the last one) … were all enclosed in case together, haha.
If you see or know about another good emergency/limited contact device when there’s no cell or wifi service, let me know!

T-Minus 29: Getting Excited

Hey poopsies! So, holy cow, I’m leaving in “less than a month.” That shit is official.

I finally posted my bed & table & couch on CL. Like, that official.

And while I’ve been mired in the stressful air traffic controlling of selling stuff, I think I’m finally hitting the tipping point. I met for brunch this morning with a good friend who had done my trip before.That was a good choice, because listening to her tales & recommendations & how she was able to survive on the road and work in various places was really exciting. It was exciting to talk about the places I want to go, and hear highlights. As a friend said, “Remember the why!” So, as more things flow out of my house, & brain, I think I’m starting to have space for the excitement, and to be able to turn my attention the future. YAY.

As to the present: I’m off work this week. I initially requested it to give myself time to pack-sort-sell. SO GRATEFUL it worked that I had the chance to already put a car load of things in storage in MI already. That’s nothing short of a miracle, because I can’t imagine how stressed I would right now – or how effective – trying to pack or sell “it all.” Plus what if I did end up with an extra car load of stuff on May 15? That would mean I’d have to rent a car and find someone last minute to drive it to/fr MI. HA.

So, with some time freed up from that, I’m running around a fair bit with some errands, lunches with friends, that sort of thing. Honestly, it’s not much more than during the work week, just minus those pesky in-office hours. It will be a lot – it’s not like I’ll have long periods at home.  (This camping trip, with zero commitments & large swaths of TIME, is going to be a revelation.) This week will be an interesting exercise in balance, focusing on writing, going for long walks, etc. And WRITING when I can 😉 Fortunately this trip seems to have a never-ending flow of topics, and the hamster wheel hasn’t stopped for long.

I do have a fat stack of “writing” documents & papers to read through. That + my ExHDs … I will have to spend some more time on the ExHDs before I leave for my trip, as I don’t want to take three ExHDs with me!

After that, my sorting-packing-selling stuff is essentially done.  The storage run was a blessing, and I kind-of maybe don’t feel like I have a car-full of things left to take back with me??? (lies, blaspheme, sacrilege. I’m inevitably going to have to mail USPS-knows how many boxes of things home to mumsy.)

I will definitely have to continue to get rid of “the two piles.” One is still stuff I need to photograph (!!!), and another is stuff that I need to sell (c’mon, CL!) If I can sell  my bed, table, and couch, I will feel a lot better about donating some of the random items that I have left in my apartment (I mean, $ is nice & will help fund my trip, but so is not being STRESSED OUT OF MY MIIIIND.)

I also have random items I need to make decisions about – such as my pots & pans. I don’t think those are coming with me on the trip, so … donate? Try to sell?  When?

 

The part I most loathe about moving is those sorts of Sisyphean little tasks. It’d be brilliant to have everything settled out the weekend of May 6th, so that I can focus on cleaning my apartment out (another Sisyphean task!)

OK, I will attempt sleep now. 🙂

xoxox

LJP

T-Minus 31 Days: The Creative Muse Knocketh.

Good morning.

/ argh!

I *never* get out of bed if I wake up in the middle of the night. Usually I just pop a soothing video on YouTube & shut my eyes until its gentle sounds carry me back to the Land of Nod. But, no matter the amount of ASMR or meditation videos I watched in the last 1.5 hours, I have not been able to even start to close my eyes. Like, I made coffee when I woke up. At 12:30 a.m. That’s how futile I could physically feel my body saying it was to attempt sleep tonight.

I suppose I could blame this on the full moon, or the stress of the previous week, or the impending moving, or the excitement of my upcoming trip. Maybe the two homemade brownies from the pan my GED program supervisor made for us, and/or whatever the heck my foam roller stirred up. (Despite being miraculously physically FINE all day, I twinged my left sacriocillac muscle somehow, which is now messing with the bottom of my left shoulder blade. Lervely.) But, I’ve also been into this pattern of like, 6 hours of sleep a night, since I started stirring up my possessions & prepping for this move.

So, I guess now I stay up or wake up and write. Really late at night.

Like, my eyes are burning right now more than my brain is sleepy. I may actually be able to fall asleep because my eyeballs revolt & are like, “we can’t take being open anymore, mate! Fuck off to sleep now, would ya?”

This weekend, I was telling my mom about my fears of staying up too late when camping (mostly bc of fears, ie ‘what was that noise?!’) & then napping midday. She was all, “but, Circadian Rhythms!”

But, it turns out I may be on to something.

I have always been a night owl. In my wise 30s, I’ve sometimes practiced Arianna Huffington–style sleep hygiene and force myself to to sleep at 10 p.m., because I’m forced into this stupid 9-5 structure, and I’m at least learning, so that my productivity isn’t utterly shot the next day. (I’m starting to realize that has more to do with lack of inspiration at work …) But I usually feel like I could take a nice siesta from 2-4pm, and on my days off, I seem to follow a “get up and go, lull, go” pattern. I wonder if people survive on 4-6 hour nightly sleeps, with a 2-4 hour midday nap. Guess I will have literally all the time in the world until I run out of money to find out!

But, lately, call it alignment, call it whatever: the creative muse appears to be knocking and cannot, will not, be ignored. It feels like she’s Tinkerbell, in that scene from Peter Pan where she gets locked in the cupboard and is knocking about, sparking rage and sparkles everywhere.

That’s fine*.

Especially because it means I will be able to update, and back date, some of the stories from the previous 10 days or so that I’ve missed because of my uncle’s passing and my subsequent road trip to MI. So, in the interest of full disclosure: I’m writing on 4/14 the posts from 4/11-now, and not publishing any posts for 4/5 – 4/10 out of respect for my uncle & my need to grieve during that time.

Xo

LJP

*Except …

My internet isn’t working right now. Now! It picks this moment. Thanks, Mercury Retrograde 😉 (&Comcast. I just put my check in the mail! It’s not due for a few more days! WTF!) By this moment I mean apparently the entire hour and a half 3.5 hours now I’ve been up writing this.

So even if I wanted to, I apparently was not going to be able to watch any more videos in bed. I heed the call, and back date the blog with 3,000 7,000 words. Fortunately there’s Microsoft Word that I can save my musings into, until I figure out WTF is with the Internet. [Realizing things like “1700 words per hour + readthroughs … not bad, right?” affirm that my writing Tinkerbell was indeed a-knockin’ for a reason, and sometimes I think this is more valuable than sleep. J]

T-Minus 32: On Love, Death, & Family

So: it’s been a hell of a week.

As you guys may have seen, my uncle passed away last week after a two-year (two year and three day, how about that?) battle with pancreatic cancer.

It sucks. It fucking sucks. He was 57. He was my mom’s little brother. His kids are still in or barely out of college. One is set to graduate, one month and one day after his death.

It went quickly, or at least it seemed to for those of us on the outside. He was apparently up and walking around on the two-year mark, and then Sunday things got not good, Monday the doctor visited, and by Tuesday night he was gone. I got a call Monday, then Tuesday around noon, and then Tuesday around 8 p.m.

The date we found out about his diagnosis – that call, that night – I will never forget. Neither will my friend who was with me, I’m sure, as I kind of was in a fog and maybe punched a construction site fence. It was April Fool’s Day. My mom’s tone of voice – I knew this wasn’t a joke, but she kept saying over and over again, through tears,

She’d just lost her best friend, her cousin that grew up across the street from her, three weeks before. How fucked up is that? I’d just flown home for the funeral.

The two-year mark was important to me because the average life expectancy for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is 8 months. Eight! My grandma lived two weeks from when she got her diagnosis, in 2000. So we were lucky – immensely lucky – that we got three times as long as we could have.

And my uncle went to some of the best hospitals in the country: U of M, Johns Hopkins, and MD Anderson. So he definitely fought. I always hoped he’d be the one, of course, to break through and be the first one to get ‘the cure,’ or part of a class of those who could. He was still waiting to get into an experimental trial in MDA when he passed. I was lucky enough to help: help connect him, through my HS BFF’s pilot-dad, to the Angel flights that took him to JHU and MD Anderson, to a doctor at JHU I happened to meet at a Gala in DC. And I drove up to MI and drove him to U of M for a few appointments.

We had a really good day in the Dundee Cabela’s that I will never forget, and that’s actually where I got my Kelty Salida 2 that I will be taking on this trip with me. This is one of the most heart-warming things that’s ever happened to me:
My uncle and I went to Cabela’s in late June/early July 2015. I told him about how I was looking to get new, lighter gear for easy camping, I wanted to do more of it and even was thinking about taking “a road trip” someday, etc. I had a list and wanted to see some of the gear in person, and wanted his tips on what other kind of stuff I might need for a trip like this. He was looking for a sun hat, one of those wide-brimmed ones. He tried on one that made him look like the archeologist from Jurassic Park.

We walked around and looked at a lot of stuff, and he shared stories, tips and advice. This was back when he was getting chemo, so he would get worn down easily. But we walked all over that store, and looked at a lot of different things. I especially wanted to look at the tents, because I’d heard the Kelty Salida 2 was one of the best backpacking tents out there, and was really light with solid construction, so we went and checked out nearly all the tents they had. I was concerned about the poles, because they were made of something different than most tent poles (that’s how they could be so much ridiculously lighter.)

That Christmas, nearly six months later, my uncle came over for a combined birthday (his)/Christmas celebration. His wife, kids, and stepson all came, too. We passed out presents as usual.

Finally, I got to me, and I opened up mine. And stopped.

There, nestled in the box, was a Kelty Salida 2 tent.

I’m tearing up writing this now, just like I teared up then.

The only two tents I’ve ever owned have massive meaning, and this one more so than ever.

I want to say I don’t know what to write about grief, what to say here. It’s a whole life – how do you sum that up, in words, much less in a succinct manner?

Grief is an immense topic, too. There are times I get really mad – why this? Why did he have to get this? What’s the point? And if he did, why couldn’t the FDA approve the trial faster? [And then the rabbit hole of other ‘what if’ scenarios around treatments, cures, pharma, funding, etc.]

There are times that I get really confused or even depressed – wtf? Why? Why cancer, at all? Sometimes it’s at God, the Universe, whatever. I’ve often said in the past two years that I totally count “WTF?!!?!?!” as a prayer.

I also get despondent, especially when thinking about how he was only remarried for not even four years, or that his kids are still in or barely out of college, and there are so many things he will miss, that they will not have their dad present for.

Then there was the tension, the not-knowing. Sometimes it felt like Groundhog Day, where we kept seeing the bus that was about to hit, but never quite knew when the day would come.

But there are, I suppose, beautiful moments, too, in all this terribleness. There are certain ways to look at horrible things like this, certain facets like on a diamond that sparkle more brilliantly than others.

The walk we did in Ohio, and many other memories of our time together, was one. In a way, it drew us closer together as an extended family, and I saw many, many examples of love and support from family, friends and strangers that was endlessly inspiring.

Then, in the aftermath of the news, I got immediate shedloads of help from my friends last week, who were absolute all-stars: J talked to me for hours, C called me from Europe, there was a great outpouring of support on Facebook. My best friend from HS and his mom were stellar, and they even showed up to the funeral service!

My therapist and T both helped walk me through some of the more difficult family, and my therapist was a rock star by email last week, responding quickly & sometimes length-ily. I am definitely going to miss regular appointments with him.

And then there’s a way to look at the alternatives, too: if there had to be a choice, I suppose I’m grateful that this happened when I could get home, when I could be there for my family, when I still had therapy budgeted into the mix. When I was not stranded on a mountain where I maybe wouldn’t have heard about it, or maybe wouldn’t have been able to get home. Definitely not as simply as this.

I don’t know. I don’t know what I learned or how I grew, but in some ways I think that’s because it’s immeasurable. I do know I got two extra years with him, and that I called and visited and got to know him & talk to him as much as I could.

Maybe that’s all that matters.

Much love,

Lauren

PS – I’d be remiss to not mention this essay from Reddit user GSnow, which a friend sent me early on, just after we found out about my uncle’s diagnosis. It’s an oft-cited one, and a good resource for anyone also grappling with this issue & these questions. It ends:

If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

Xo

Road Trip Vehicle Conversion :-0!

OMG you guys! Look at what my dad just sent me!

Ultimate Road Trip Car Conversion (Honda Fit)

zomg, i have seen my future and it involves … piano hinges

http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultimate-Road-Trip-Car-Conversion-Honda-Fit/

That’s my car! Turned into a platform of AWESOMENESS.

A) Like: serious props to pops for the love & support to look that up & find it & send it to me

B) He just retired so obvs needs a new side project, right?

C) I seriously may be am abso totes now in the market for piano hinges (!??!?!?!?!).

::Mind.Blizzown::

(even more than usual, Ash ;)) 

Expenses

Ok, so, confession time: I have no idea how much this trip is going to cost.

Of course I don’t, I’ve never done such a thing before. I can guesstimate how many miles it may be & how much fuel I may need. I can guesstimate how much food I may eat, what the campsite costs might be, how much outlay I’ll need for sunscreen & bear spray.

But, at the end of the day:

There’s too many variables right now to get an idea. My *goal* is to buy most of my food from the grocery store, cook most of my meals, etc. I plan to camp, drive to the camps & then as little as possible in the camps, etc.

But there’s too many what ifs: what if I want to follow the signs for The World’s Biggest Tacky Road Side Attraction Yet! ? What if I want to eat out because I’m too tired, or even – GASP – stay in a motel because I didn’t realize it was monsoon season in Mitilitiarkana? What if I get addicted to $5/day campfire wood? Y’know, the practical things.

Heck, I don’t even know how long this trip will take. [Nope, still no end date ;)] 

There is, however, one thing I *can* rely on: there is no way this trip is going to be more than my current monthly expenses in D.C.

The average rent in Washington, D.C. is $2,080/month for a 1-bedroom. (I definitely pay less than that! Wow, average? Does that include utilities or something? Shudder.)

Then you look at the BLS national Cost of Living statistics:

  • $20,194 per person per year according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (value given divided by 2.5 average household size (‘consumer unit’) – [1]
  • Of this, food ($2577), housing ($6844), cars ($3442) totals $12,863 per person

Before I get all judgy on DC rent, BLS sez:

  • $1500 of this is mortgage payments, or about 1/4 of all housing costs

::record scratches:: Wai, wha? For the whole year?!?!! That can not be right.  … Unless I’ve been living in the DC bubble for too long? Gulp. ::does the sign of the cross:: 

(here’s the most recent BLS data, for my nerds.)

Anyway, let’s move on to: Fun! This cost of living calculator says that Yellowstone is 28% cheaper than D.C. Phew! (Actually, I was hoping for even lower, somehow. But if I’m halving my rent … Maybe the difference is made up in bear spray expenditures?)

And, from Nomadic Matt – a great resource for all things budget travel:

His 116 day US Road Trip = $6,262.67 total / $53.98 per day.

His breakdown:

Accommodations: $1,036.36
Food: $3,258.23
Drinks: $438.94
Gas: $696.98
Parking: $253.00
Starbucks: $75.26
Miscellaneous (movies, toothpaste, shampoo, conferences, etc.): $170.00
Attractions: $269.40
Taxis: $41.00
Bus: $17.50
Subway: $6.00

Seems fairly spot on. I may be slightly higher on accommodations, and hopefully slightly lower on food, parking & attractions as well as misc. transpo. If I make those sort of adjustments, then yeah. (He also doesn’t include phone, insurance, car repairs, oil changes, etc. I also already have most of my supplies, minus food, but those should be factored into the long-term planning.)

With his calculations, $10,000 = ~ 28 weeks, or 7 months.

$5,000 = ~ 14 weeks, or 3.3 months

Hm, maybe those BLS statistics are looking more realistic?

I’ll keep you posted as the trip progresses, of course. Honestly, at this point, it’s looking like my escape is going to cost more (rent termination, shipping or storage, Comcast termination, other fees/expenses?) We’ll see!

His article, and some additional resources below:

How to Travel Across the United States on $50 a Day

 

USA Road Trip Budget Tips 2017

Budget: how much does a 1-month USA road trip cost?

T-Minus 42: Everything’s Going to Be Okay (A Note From The Universe)

Most of All, Remember The Why

“Stop. Breathe. It’s going to be okay.”

This may be my new, spiritual version of “stop, drop, and roll.”

I was reminded of this all weekend, and it really hit home when I got one of TUT.com’s recent Notes from the Universe. They are good reminders that there are greater forces at work out there – or just the possibilities for a different perspective – than the one rattling around in my brain. This recent one was especially relevant:

Let’s see… It’s impossible to fail. Everything works out in your favor. The elements conspire on your behalf. There are always more reasons to be happy. Millions of lives are touched by yours. Thousands have thought of you fondly. Hundreds have called you their friend. You can have anything you dream of. Things just keep getting better. And you live forever.

via: www.tut.com 

Seems like just what I need to hear right now! Maybe because I’ve been a bit in panic mode & getting weighed down in the reality and the details. As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of messages about NOT FAILING.  Not in the pressure-y way, but in the “EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY, DANGIT!!” way.  And I really like how this note builds to a crescendo, of almost infinite possibilities.

A good friend told me this weekend that among the swirl of chaos that are the details of packing and moving, I needed to remember my “why” first of all. Why I’m going on this trip. What’s motivating me, what my intentions are with it.

I will admit, it’s been hard to see the forest for the trees (and I think you can tell as much in my recent posts!) I’m scared I’m going to shed all of my stuff & then regret it, or need it back sooner than I thought, or anything that amounts to failure.

But really, any judgments, any negativity like that are

So, to remember the why: here’s just a few, for instance, and one that keeps coming back to me:

Who doesn't want to go to there? <3

Glenn Lake, Montana

photo via NPS.

Ah, everybody exhale.

Good night, peace, and love!

LJP

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