2017 In Pictures

I will warn you right out of the gates...this post is a beast! So. Many. Photos. But 2017 was a big year and these images still barely skim the surface. In a nutshell...

  • We visited 22 national parks and monuments (and a bunch more state parks, national forests, and wild and scenic rivers!)
  • We road-tripped a total of just over 12,000 miles (these are road-trip miles, not the miles put on in daily life or excursions made from where we were located at the time...our truck actually put on more than double that!)
  • We lived in 4 locations: Alna, Maine / New Braunfels, Texas / Reno, Nevada / Hollis, New Hampshire
  • We took just shy of 13 weeks of designated vacation time total, generally in three-week increments
  • We visited six whiskey/bourbon distilleries (and more micro-breweries than I could even begin to quantify...)
  • We spent more than 50 nights sleeping outdoors either in a tent or the back of the truck (the camper doesn't count and I stopped counting calendar dates when I hit 50...)
  • I guided close to forty whitewater trips down the Truckee River (with just the one "dump-truck" that ended my rafting season!)
  • I shot more than 25,000 images for myself and for clients

There are a million things I can't count...number of campfires sat around, wildlife seen in action, hours spent in the hammock, friends visited and made, belly laughs, wrong turns, gps failures, mountain lakes swam in, moments of awe, moments of growth, moments of clarity.  

This year was harder and better and fuller than I've had in longer than I can guess and I am deeply proud of what we've done with our time. As we begin winding up our time here in New Hampshire and prepare to head west in just a few short weeks to pick up the camper and begin the next year of adventure, it's been a gift to go back through these images and my journals from the year and to step back and process just a bit. I suspect that I will continue to process these experiences for years to come, but for this one moment, I'm simply going to revel in the reflection of this year in review.

 

Maine > Texas (mid-January through April)

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Pulling away from the Alna house...

In front of our wedding venue in Williamsburg, VA...

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Let the Kentucky distillery tours begin...

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Not every night is a scenic campsite...there were plenty of Wal-mart parking lot nights this year!

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New Braunfels, Texas...

One of the perks of being in Texas was getting some time with my family, especially some outside time with my little brother!

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Texas > Nevada (May through September)

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Driving out of Death Valley's 100-degree temps and into the high Sierra's freezing ones in the same day was mind-boggling...a 70-degree difference in a matter of hours!

My love for Reno began with the bulging snowmelt currents of the Truckee...

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California > Oregon > Washington (12 days in September)

Nevada > New Hampshire (October through January 2018)

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Once back in New England, it's been a whirlwind of client work that has taken me all over this region as well as to New Orleans combined with reuniting with friends and family we haven't seen in a year. Snow and walks in the town forest and laughter over dinners with friends. I haven't had my camera out for much of the personal stuff, but I can feel that itch beginning and you can bet you'll see a bit more before we leave this place in a few short weeks...

A safe and happy New Year to all of you. My gratitude for your presence here is unceasing. Onto 2018 we fly, my friends!

Home Free

Well, it’s official.

We are now home-free.

On Friday we said goodbye to our home of the last half-decade and welcomed the beginning of a new era in our lives. An era that embraces change, uncertainty, and inconvenience. An era brimming with potential and unknown possibility, upon whose edge we are standing, squinting at a future that’s still blurry and just a little shaky.

Truth be told, we are still a little shaky.

Friends keep asking us if we are excited, if life in the camper is what we expected. We are excited, and life in the camper is good, but honestly, we are just a bit shell-shocked and still getting our bearings. The last week or so before our closing was an utterly exhausting whirlwind of decision-making, disposing of our belongings, problem-solving in the camper, and cleaning. The days were long and left little time for rest or reflection. Suddenly we found ourselves sitting on our front deck in bleary-eyed stunned silence waiting for the final walkthrough, the moment of farewell upon us. We walked through our home for one final time, smiled through our closing (we were blessed with absolutely wonderful buyers who made the whole experience as close to lovely as selling a house can be), and that was that. We were now homeless, or, as we’ve decided instead, home-free.

Home free.

It’s just the tiniest bit disconcerting to find ourselves in our late thirties, well educated and gainfully employed, and living in a structure that moves and rattles when our dog scratches her ears with any vigor. We are currently parked in our neighbor’s back yard, so there is the surreal experience of driving down our same street each day but turning into a different driveway, of walking our confused dog around the same block we’ve walked her for years only to pass our old home and cross the street.

But even as we muddle through this transition, forgetting occasionally that we no longer have a shower or an oven (or, you know, a flushing toilet), there is, indeed, the glimmer of freedom dancing around the edges of our new life, just waiting to be welcomed in. Or perhaps freedom isn’t exactly the right word…we’re still obligated to do and be all of the things we were obligated to do or be a week ago, after all. Maybe the word I’m looking for is attention, or, really intention.

Our new life is deeply intentional. From how/where we’ll use the bathroom or take a shower, to which appliances can run at what time (fan + tea kettle + microwave = breaker trips), to grinding our coffee by hand, to not having television (or wifi for that matter), nothing can really be done on auto-pilot. There isn’t space to leave dirty dishes in the sink. There isn’t enough water in the tank to let the faucet run while brushing teeth. To access one thing, we must usually move something else. Most of our day-to-day life “stuff” is shockingly inconvenient. 

Which is surprisingly delightful. 

I don’t feel like life is any less busy than it’s ever been, but since things must be done with care and attention, life has begun to feel slower. And that was part of the point to this whole exercise in the first place. To begin to “let that which does not matter truly slide” (one of my favorite quotes from Fight Club) and to make more intentional choices about how we spend our time and our resources. So, we are still in the midst of transitioning, but as my friend Lauren pointed out in a blog post recently, isn’t life always in transition?

What does it really mean to be home free anyway? I’m beginning to suspect that it has as much to do with being free to be at home anywhere, to carry our sense of home with us, as it does to be home-less...

 

**I wanted to share some current images of the camper with you guys…do you remember the before photos? Our humble little home has come a long way, eh? 

Renovation Station

Things are a-bustle around here. The house looks like its been hit by a bomb as I sort through what few things we'll take with us, what few things we'll store at Justin's parents' house, and what we're selling/donating/etc. The list for the first two things are quite short, while the "sell/donate/etc" list is quite long. We've been focused on getting our still-nameless trailer painted and renovated while we still have tools and space (an an address that Amazon will ship to!). It's been seriously crazy town and I'm pretty sure my friends, family, and clients all thing I've entirely disappeared from the face of the earth at this point!

Like any renovation project, we've run into a few hiccups along the way. We want to be sure to share all of our snags as well as our triumphs, so be prepared for some epic #fail moments as we figure out what the hell we're doing here.

We began the reno by painting everything but the cabinets. I just couldn't handle that much wood and it felt a little dark and claustrophobic to me. Also, while you couldn't really tell at first glance, most of the "wood" was mis-matched fiberboard paneling and some pieces were full-on different colors. The closer we look, the crappier the craftsmanship is revealed to be.

After googling the crap out of how to paint an rv/camper/travel trailer. A few themes popped up:

  •  a general recommendation against sanding fiberboard as it can't stand up to much abrasion
  • instead of sanding, use a chemical de-glosser/sander
  • Glidden's Gripper primer was almost universally recommended
  • consider exterior paint for extra durability

So. I purchased chemical de-glosser and wiped everything we were planning to paint down with it. Here's where we hit our first minor snag. While the bottle and the world of google were full of directions for using it in a properly ventilated area and other such safety precautions, other than a basic instruction to use a clean cloth to wipe it off and that a second coat could be applied if necessary after 10 min, I couldn't find any actual instructions on how to use it or what to expect or how to know whether it was working. So I donned rubber gloves and a mask and opened all of the windows in the trailer and went over every surface we were planning to paint, followed by a wipe down with a clean cloth. Nothing looked different, but what do I know about de-glosser?

Next we painted everything with two coats of Gripper. It went on fine in most places, but I definitely noticed a few places where it did that beading-up sort of thing that started to worry me. But the second coat went on just fine and a scratch test seemed to indicate that everything was adhering, so I continued to proceed. I realized later that Gripper comes in an "all-purpose" version and a "hard-to-stick-surfaces" version. We didn't realize that there were two varieties and ended up with the first. Oops.

After the Gripper had a chance to dry, we applied two coats of high-gloss bright white interior/exterior paint. We knew the gloss would show imperfections, but felt like it was worth it for the increased light reflectiveness as well as the most wipe-ability. 

Y'all it looks GOOD. And so much brighter.

But.

I think you might know where I'm going with this. When we started pulling the tape off, the edges of the paint began peeling up. We haven't tested to figure out just how vulnerable the entire paint job is (mostly because we simply don't have time to fix it all at this point), but it's not looking ideal. Our short-term solution? Caulk down the edges, be careful not to ding up the paint, and have extra primer/ paint handy for touch-ups.

I don't know if it was a poor application of deglosser on my part (since I didn't really know what I was looking for) or the all-purpose vs the hard-to-stick-surfaces primer mix up, but for those of you considering a similar project...maybe do a test area?

Other things we've done so far:

  • Applied this wallpaper to the back wall of the dinette
  • hung small picture ledge shelves in the dinette (sort of like these...)
  • Began applying these Smart Tiles to the kitchen backsplash...under-ordered and are waiting for a second delivery to finish the job and hang a shelf across the kitchen wall
  • applied magnetic & chalkboard paint to the fridge (same issues and had to caulk edges...but it's paintable caulk, so I'll touch them up with chalkboard paint and then test the whole thing!)
  • I sewed some curtains from indoor/outdoor fabric I found on sale at Joann's (though we realized we hung the curtain rods of two windows too low to use the clips I bought to hang them with, so I had to use the top pocket of the curtains instead...not a big deal, but I don't like the look as much) (oh, also...I sewed one of the curtains upside down...oops)
  •  bought this mattress topper and these cute organic sheets  for the new bed (we're going from a full to a queen...so funny to be getting a bigger bed!)

We're under the two-week mark now and it's going to be a race to the finish, I think. We've still not decided where we'll park this thing once we close on the house, so there's that. But I found a co-working space to rent a desk for the next few months, and that takes some of the pressure off...it's good to know that my work can proceed without too much interruption even if we park somewhere without wi-fi!

Next on our list:

  • finish the "tiles" and hang the kitchen shelf
  • paint the front door yellow (low-priority at the moment)
  • mount mirror in the "closet" door
  • figure out storage for clothing/food/etc
  • dispose of all of our world possessions & clean the house for our awesome buyers! 

Sleep is for the weak! 

Stay Curious, friends!

 

Not Quite #Vanlife

Well, we made a decision about housing (which is good, since we close on our house in T-minus 3 weeks)!

We'd like you to meet our new home!

(We haven't named her yet...Justin's vote is for Ethel, but I'm still not sure I'm totally on board yet)

A few things about her:

  • She's a never-owned 2016 Whitewater Retro 176s by Riverside
  • She's just shy of 18' long and 7'7" wide and has almost exactly 100 square feet of living space when the slider's out
  • She features a slide-out dinette area (so I actually have enough floor space to roll out my yoga mat when the weather isn't cooperative for an outdoor practice! Getting' fancy!)

We looked at only a few trailers...it would seem that the only trailers New Englanders seem to buy are bigger than our current house, so finding some small ones (that weren't pop-ups) took a little doing. We are planning to pull the trailer with our 1999 V6 Toyota Tacoma, so in this case, size does indeed matter.

We found the Retro online and had to travel to look at a few. We'd originally decided on the 166, but ultimately decided to splurge on the space afforded by the 176S's slide-out given that this will be our full-time home (and my office once we hit the road in January) for the next several years.

I have some plans to renovate, but I thought I'd share a few quick snapshots I took as we were preparing to paint...

The plans include a ton of bright white, high-gloss paint, immediately disposing of the super-crappy weird bedding that came with it, and maybe turning the fridge into a magnetic chalkboard. Some of my big plans were immediately dashed when we got in and realized just how "lightweight" the building materials are...ummm...we're sort of crossing our fingers that this thing can stand up to a strong breeze...bookshelves are totally out.

I will do my best to keep you posted over these next few weeks as we whirlwind renovate/pack/sell everything we own/ figure out where we'll park this thing for the next few months!