Why did you stop? Now your views are all going to be the same! What, no more adventures?
Thanks for comments like these, jerks. Like moving into a house wasn’t a hard enough decision, or fucking terrifying without hearing from the peanut gallery. And if you’re looking for a short answer because you don’t want to read the whole blog post the answer is because it’s all your fault. So thanks for the support, motherlicker.
Seriously though, it’s not your fault, at least if you’re reading this far. It’s our own decision. But I gotta weed out the riff raff who won’t take the time to read this.
Isn’t it ironic (cue Alanis Morissette) that we just now are seeing the most support on social media as we choose to pause our adventures? Not that being “Instafamous” was ever our goal. Really we just wanted to have a good time, wanted to inspire others, and because fuck dude, when else would we have the chance to do something like this?!
But yeah, you’re here reading this because you want to know why the hell two nearly-thirty kiddos and their pup would give up a life of galavanting and adventuring all across the USA to pursue a stationary life of paying bills and working?
Well to start, we only planned to do this for a year, surprisingly enough. But when that year came and went we just couldn’t stop, so why not one more year, or maybe two, or three? There was no end in sight, and no real goal anymore.
On top of this there’s a shocker you might not realize - we were still working and paying bills while on the road. The other shocker? We weren’t traveling as much as you might have thought or as much as we may have portrayed. That’s the beauty of crafting your narrative through social media. Remember that friends, when you’re drooling over people on Instagram and Facebook who make their life look amazing - a lot of it is smoke and mirrors.
Hell, that’s the beauty and the problem with social media. I can almost guarantee that the majority of folks you follow on Instagram are having the same damn troubles you do all while you long after what they seemingly have. Sure they might get to see cooler areas than the cubicle you call home most days, but at the end of the day people tend to have similar fears and troubles in life. And nobody gets pumped up to go see what the latest troubles are in someone’s life on Instagram or Facebook. We’re drawn to the happy stories.
So about the past two years - yeah, we’ve been working since about the first week on the road. News flash guys, we’re not rich. Never have been, probably won’t ever be. Fuck, we’re not even middle class. Before we hit the road we were living more or less paycheck to paycheck. Sure we have a badass truck and a sick-nasty camper, but that was earned through tons of hard work, saving, and selling damn near everything we owned, including two perfectly fine vehicles and my beloved motorcycle.
I was a kitchen manager working 60 hour weeks and only getting $25,000 a year before taxes. That’s about $10 and hour or less. I did the depressing math so you don’t have to. Beth was a server at the same restaurant and made pretty good money at $100 to $200 a shift, but that wasn’t every day, and it sure as hell wasn’t all year. She made a little more than I did but then had to pay a ton of money to the IRS each April. Our rent and bills weren’t terrible, and we did get to drink craft beer regularly, but there was nothing we were working towards and we didn’t (and still don’t) have a ton in savings.
Once we hit the road we didn’t magically become rich, famous, sponsored or anything of the sort. We had $4000 saved up, but that money went fast as we learned how to navigate life on the road and battled the never ending laundry list of repairs or maintenance Darlene required. Like a dog on a leash, we followed our master across the country - work. And once we were there, we often had to stay for months on end in order to save up enough to travel and make it to, you guessed it, the next job. On and on this cycle continued. Find work. Adventure there. Stay for several months. Something breaks on Darlene. Use a large portion of our savings to fix truck. Find new job. Adventure there. Rinse. Repeat. On and on our adventures were footnotes in our search for an ever-elusive job that would provide us the freedom to travel.
Sure, not having rent or utility bills was pretty rad, but the money we saved from living rent free just went to fuel and fixing the truck and in the end equaled about the same. Meanwhile our jobs just barely kept up with it all.
At some point during a nine-month stint on a farm, Beth turned to me and asked, “what are we doing? If we’re living a stationary life, why don’t we have a house?”
True dat, baby. The seed was planted. We pondered and schemed. Maybe we could find location-independent work. Or maybe we could find a really really good paying job where we’d only have to work a couple months and then be free to galavant once more, but that seemed unlikely. Or maybe we could just find an awesome place to live and have more adventures on weekends, holidays and vacations. You know, just like everyone else. Except better, because we’re friggin awesome.
We set our intentions of working one more season on the road and pinching every friggin’ penny we could to afford so that we could move into a house somewhere out West in the beginning of 2018. We’d find rad jobs that we enjoyed (or tolerated), live a minimal lifestyle, and focus our energy on exploring the areas around our new home. We just needed to figure out where to move and save up enough money for the transition.
Then it happened: just as our current job on a farm was coming to an end, two of our friends who had moved to Eugene called us - they were leaving Eugene and moving back to Asheville, and they wanted to know if we might want to move into their house. An affordable amazing house with a garage, fenced-in back yard, greenhouse, chicken coop, and as the cherry on top a month-to-month rental agreement. Not too shabby.
Obviously our stars had aligned and it would be stupid to refuse when the universe conspires to help you accomplish your dreams and goals. So we dun did it. You’ve seen the photos - we boogied out East, saw some friends and family, grabbed what few things we still owned from storage and hauled all that junk across the USA in a dinky U-Haul trailer.
I sit here now at my little kitchen table quietly sipping coffee and tapping out this tale on the keyboard. Alfredo tip-toes around the house while Beth sleeps in, his paws click and clack on the hardwood floor. I see the trees swaying outside in the wind and rain, but I don’t hear the loud pitter patter on the roof or feel a sway in the suspension. I’m wearing shorts and a sweater even though it’s cold outside, and I just took a shit in a real toilet, not squatting over a hole in the woods. Hell I took a shower just two days ago, and I might even take another one today instead of waiting my customary week.
Our first few nights in our house we forlornly looked out the window to Darlene, seriously considering popping the top and sleeping in the driveway for comfort. Already we miss waking up to the sunrise, feeling every change in the weather, hearing every little sound outside our walls, and the excitement and fear of not knowing where we’ll sleep or wake up tomorrow. We miss the feeling of freedom, even if we knew we were still tied to jobs and money just like everyone else.
But having running water is nice. Being able to sit up in bed is nice. Having a full-size fridge is nice. Having an oven is nice. And getting to leave the dog at the house while we do dog-unfriendly things is nice. It’s taken a few days of deep cleaning and organizing, but this place is starting to feel like home. The second home Beth and I have built together, our new headquarters of adventure.
Will we miss living on the road? Hell yeah! The truth is life on the road was radical. It was fucking epic. It was hard too, don’t let me fool you. The juice was well worth the squeeze. Will we return to it some day? Fuck, I hope so.
But this is the start of a new adventure, and our time spent on the road will always be a part of us. It has changed us, shaped us and our relationship. We’ll come back to it some day, but for now we’ve got other things in life to explore.