As I sit on my borrowed bed in Brunswick, Georgia I can’t help but feel grateful for each twist and turn of the road that has brought me here. It hasn’t all been easy but as I look back over the past 6 weeks and 6000 miles I feel blessed to have the family, friends and the man I love who have supported, helped, encouraged, bribed, pushed and applauded me along each step of this journey toward a new future.
The last leg of our journey across America ended just a few days ago. As we flipped over the last page in our Atlas which showed the Atlantic Ocean we looked at each other in amazement! We drove from Seattle, Washington to Florida with our truck, two paddle boards, two bicycles, and a boat. We slept in a hotel 4 nights, made 3 family visits and the rest of the time we camped in our tent or slept in our boat.
Now I know what you are wondering…..6000 miles? It’s not that far across the country. Well, it IS if you take the back roads most of the time, make several big loops along the way and have plans that get changed often! So as a well seasoned traveler indulge me as I share with you what I have learned.
Let go of your Expectations. As a recovering perfectionist this is hard for me but I have learned that the plans are going to change. Call it Murphy’s Law or whatever you like. It’s fine to have a idea of what you want to do but it is essential to be willing to let go of your plans if necessary. A few weeks ago, we spent a couple of days heading across Texas to get our boat to Corpus Christi only to find out that they were having a horrible red tide! Red time means dead fish and a horrible smell! Not exactly the type of water we want to be sailing in! It took a good half day to get over our disappointment but finally we decided that this change would allow us more time in Destin, Florida and it turned out to be a glorious time sailing with a pod of dolphins who swam by to check us out!
We also expected that camping with a boat would be easy but found out that especially RV parks didn’t want us. Let me ask you if a boat isn’t a Recreational Vehicle what the heck is it? (Grumble, grumble, grumble) Through our frustration we learned to use smaller & less expensive private campgrounds or National Parks – but we were usually the only boat there. We got a lot of strange looks towing our boat through the desert!
Being outside is GOOD. After camping, hiking, sailing and adventuring for 6 weeks it feels really strange to be indoors! Each time we have stayed in a hotel or with family we were amazed at how different it feels to be inside. We are just so used to being outside, adjusting our clothes to the temperature, taking in the natural beauty, exercising and enjoying the fresh air. After that, sitting on a couch watching TV feels robotic and just plain wrong.
I found that very quickly I stopped worrying about wearing makeup. Doing my hair meant running a comb through it. Watching the sunrise and sunset were major forms of entertainment and cooking our own food on the jet boil was the norm. Once you start cooking all of your own meals the amount of money it costs to go out to a restaurant is really shocking!
Be grateful for what you have! There are so many things that we use in every day life that we take for granted. After sleeping outdoors on the ground for several days it makes sleeping in a bed seem like I’m a princess sleeping on a cloud. Having to hike to a waterfall to find a place to bathe makes a bathtub full of hot water seem like an actual miracle!
And let’s not forget running water! There were places in California where there was no water. The bathrooms were closed and porta-potties were used. Drinking water was $5 per gallon! So being able to turn on the faucet and put your glass underneath it for free, fresh water! That’s something to be grateful for!
Take your time – slow down. Now that our drive is over the main thing we would do differently is to take more time in each place that we visited. We caught ourselves several times “hurrying” to drive to the next place and that felt wrong.
We did notice however that when we took time in the morning to practice yoga and meditate the area wildlife would come by to check us out. These three birds came very close to see why we were sitting so still on the shore of Destin Harbor. If you sit still long enough nature will stop to take note of you!
Our next big adventure is a four month trip to Spain and Gibraltar. I plan to take time to be more grateful for what I have, to go a little more slowly along the way, to enjoy being outside and to let go of my expectations and have faith that it will all work out somehow!