Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Past Part 1: Kansas

I don't think one is ever ready to finally travel, especially if it's a foreign lifestyle to your family and your upbringing. You will spend years 'getting ready' and never get anywhere. This is something I've been remembering lately. I've forgotten it while living here with my parents, thinking everything needs to be perfect. It never will be.

Other than just random road trips to no where, back in 2010 was my first real 'on the road' experience. Probably a year before that I bought the travel trailer (1962 Yellowstone) shown above and intended it to be a weekend camping trailer. My life was changing and I'll admit my hand was forced. I had the option of going back to my parents house but it sounded awful. Ironically that's where I wound up but I delayed it for a year.

I did not have that much money. The car I used to tow with had been parked for several years at this point as I had another car I drove. But at the end of October, I hitched up my old travel trailer to my old worn out car and headed south. I had never towed a trailer like that very far, and here I was towing it 850 miles across the country. I'll might even mention that until about Missouri I didn't even have insurance on that car anymore. Irresponsible, I know. But, nothing will ever be perfect when you embark on your journey. I even lost the trailer license plate somewhere in Illinois shortly after the following pictures were taken.

My destination was the Amazon distribution center in Coffeyville, KS. A 2 month job during the holiday season. My trip to Kansas went without any problems, other than the license plate thing. Working at Amazon was great. I lost 35lbs pretty quickly and Amazon provides a free campsite so I was saving practically all the money I was making there. My job there was to pick items for orders. 4 days a week, 10 hour days. Close to Christmas it became 5 days a week and overtime was nice. I even turned some voluntary overtime down. I worked the night shift and if my memory serves me, I went in at 5 or 5:30pm and got out at 3:30am. According to the pedometer I picked up, I was walking around 14 miles every day back and forth through the warehouse. I had huge blisters on my feet, they were incredibly sore, and my thighs killed from all the bending down. I loved it all, until the last few weeks when I was tired and worn out. I was ready to get out of there.

I had plans after Amazon to go volunteer with the National Park Service at the Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico but while I was waiting to go there apparently administration at the site had changed and they lost some of my information or something and in the end it became an easy excuse for my doubts to get the best of me. I was nervous about towing the trailer all that way, and the road to the dwellings was supposed to be steep and narrow. In the end, at the last second, I returned home to Michigan. I had some things I needed to take care of, they weren't going to go away on their own. I was back for about 5 months before I took off again, but that will come in Part 2.  Oh yeah, on the way back to Michigan I got pulled over in Illinois. His excuse was my cracked windshield but in the end he searched (with my consent) my vehicle and trailer. I guess I looked suspicious towing my hippie camper up into the snowy lands of Illinois and Michigan on Christmas Eve.

I met some great people at Amazon that I'm still in touch with today. Older folks, of course, but they're still out on the road doing what they do and occasionally poking and prodding me to get back out on the road.

For the fun of it, here's pictures of my two cats. They adjusted to the small trailer just fine, even despite all the time and energy I put into thinking and worrying about it beforehand.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Dominator

The other morning I was driving the 25 miles to work, getting frustrated at all the other drivers and how absolutely busy that road seems to be getting lately. Also grumbling about the night before when I had to close the store that I work at and how I had difficult customers and nothing went easily for me. Key holder is an iffy position because I'm not management, but I'm in charge. Weird. All of that melted when I came across THE DOMINATOR (shown above, poorly). For those of you that don't know, The Dominator is a vehicle featured on the Discovery series Storm Chasers (and also on MythBusters) designed to sit in the path of, and withstand, a tornado. The guy behind the vehicle is originally from my area and his parents live nearby my work apparently. Also for those of you that don't know, which I'm assuming is all of you, I used to be in a life position where I could take off at a second's notice and drive across the country and chase storms. Which I did. I wasn't good at it, and I never saw a tornado, but it's the thought that counts. It made me remember why I want to hit the road.

As mentioned, I've been given a key to the store. I close regularly now. I feel good about this because let's face it all most of us want in life is to belong. And I start to feel like I belong here. It's why we stay in relationships we know are bad for us. That's pretty much how I feel about this job. I learn more, I feel more comfortable, I could endure if necessary. But I'm not happy, it's not what I want to do with my life, and I know there's something more meaningful, to me, out there. I'm just not sure how soon I'll be able to break it off and tell her we'd be better off just friends. Does this make it sound like I've had a lot of break ups? If so, I've only ever had one girlfriend and the break up was more or less mutual. If not drawn out and complicated.

Overall, things are still at a stand still. I'm gaining confidence in the abilities of the motorhome. I'm also realizing I'm becoming too cautious. Each time I've traveled with my travel trailer before I've had about as much money in the bank as I have right now, and I just trusted things would work out. I need to find my faith in the journey and adventure again. Just leap.

In the past, I had started to write about my previous 'adventures' on the road. I think I ended up scraping them. However, I'm thinking of seriously sitting down soon to write about them. I need to dig up pictures and whatnot to accompany them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stuff Makes a Heavy Heart

Yesterday's go-get-em attitude with cleaning out my storage unit was met with much resistance today. I had too much time to think about it all overnight I guess? It seemed like suddenly everything was worth keeping. Or even if it wasn't worth keeping for ME it was worth donating, or trying to sell, or something other than simply throwing it in the back of the van to take to the dump. This is when things get complicated for me because the longer I have to think about what to do with something the harder it becomes for me to get rid of, or the more frustrated I become with it.

I would love to come out of this little experiment with money in my pocket, but when it comes down to it I just want to not deal with it anymore. But I'm not quite yet to the point where I can just ignore the monetary value of things completely.

The internet has helped me out through this. Today when I came home frustrated after my first trip to the storage unit I started searching for articles about how to get rid of stuff, how to let go emotionally.

It gives me some extra motivation but it's still difficult.

On top of cleaning out my storage I'm trying to sell my old car this week. I have it listed for $500, and will take $400. It doesn't seem like it'd be that hard to get rid of, but it is. Both in finding a buyer and in letting go without thinking I'm selling it too cheap. It has served its purpose for me over the years and now its purpose is over. It needs to go, no matter how cheap.

Something like that.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Go Wander

The title is from a song of the same name by a band called The New Trust. One of the bands I've enjoyed over the years. ANYWAY..

How long has it been since I've been here? Seems like forever. Probably is. I have this week off of work. Vacation time, oh yeah. It's wonderful so far. I slept in until 11am today just because I could, and because I wanted to. I know so many people in life that get bored or can't stand not going to work. I am not one of those people. I could do this every day.

I continue to not know what I want to do with life anymore. I'm right on the edge of being sucked back into a normal lifestyle and forgetting all about this traveling and living in a van or RV thing. Overall I've taken a bit of a step back from everything and I'm just seeing where things start to lean.

I cleaned out the van a few weeks ago. It was really messy. With it cleaned out and with taking the bed frame I built out of there also, I can start to see my old vision with it again. When I decided I wanted a twin size mattress in there it just took up too much space and snuffed out the entire vision. So I might go forward with more van work again. If nothing else it'd make a nice weekend getaway vehicle until something else happens and would possibly increase value or chances of selling it if I ever reach that point.

As for now, the van is about half full of JUNK. I magically, and suddenly, reached a decision to get at least one van full of stuff taken to the dump this week while I have the time off. Not only that, but I'm in an 'act now, think later' mindset about all of my STUFF. I've been paying for this huge storage unit for 2 and a half years now and I doubt any of what's in there is actually worth the money I've paid over that amount of time. Even with that knowledge, I don't expect to get rid of everything.

I don't like going through my stuff. Especially the stuff that is left over from when I had my own house. Memories. And to be honest if I had the money for another place of my own, I'd probably do it. I like having a home base, and it doesn't mean I can't still travel. Anyway, it just makes me sad and makes me deal with emotions I like to ignore.

Today I also gave away 8 chairs. 2 computer chairs, 2 beach chairs, and 4 rolling dining chairs. For free, on craigslist. There will probably be more of this to come, and I'm also making a pile to give to Goodwill. Kind of depends on what my thoughts are on the item about whether or not it goes to craigslist or goodwill. I might try to sell some stuff too, I don't know. My ultimate goal is fast and easy. The chairs took up a lot of space in storage and now I'll actually have room to move around and sort through all the other stuff.

I wanted to get something fun done this week during my time off from work, but it's looking like I'll just be hanging around home, trying to get things cleaned and organized. I'll probably feel a lot better about that in the long run than I will if I had gone somewhere fun.

Don't get me wrong, I already drove up north a ways and hiked a nice trail and had some close encounters with wildlife and whatnot.

I've also decided I have analysis paralysis with practically every aspect of my life. Really I just learned I could put a name to it. Haha. I think everything out and all of my choices until I overwhelm myself and in the end just don't do anything. I'm working on that.