Scary Suspension Bridge Over Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon

Catching up on some more video from our Vancouver trip. Someone told us about this swinging scary bridge 150 above the floor of Lynn Canyon, so of course, we had to go see.

Fiona was very brave. I don’t know what Sue was, but she seemed to like it.

Here’s proof that I crossed it. Twice. Will I cross it again? Ever? Dunno.

It’s Not Just Physical

In the space of two weeks we have reduced the contents of our 4,000 square foot rental to what will fit in our van for traveling, and 20 boxes and a filing cabinet to go to storage. That square footage includes a full attic and basement; unusual for California, but we used them. I had a server room in the basement for my three servers and other network equipment. A full weight set, bicycles, and other exercise equipment; we used the basement. The attic wasn’t completely full. Not completely. But it wasn’t completely empty until yesterday.

There have been solid days of work; sorting, moving, selling, cleaning.

That first one, the sorting—that’s the tricky part; the hard part.

Much of what’s left are things I should probably have sorted out of my life years ago; some of it, decades ago. Instead, I’ve lugged boxes of stuff, some of it for 35 years, from house to house, from old life to new. One particular item, while I’ve only been conscious of carrying it for more than 30 years has been mine for 50: the center panel from the baby blanket my mom made when I was born.

It’s that old life/new life nexxus that’s been the challenge.

Much of what’s happening right now is the culmination of a process which started either 8 years ago, or 15 years ago, depending on which event you count from. The last major pruning of possessions occurred at the end of my first marriage. I ended up with virtually none of the books from my library of about a thousand, and about half my vinyl albums from a collection of about that size as well.

I also kept zero out of four children. Since they are all adults, I’ve accepted that it was their choice.

Boxing up my records for storage in a friend’s closet (they have to be kept in a space suitable for humans; no hot dusty garage or potentially damp basement) I had a stress attack as painful as the two which sent me to the emergency room twice, long ago before I knew what that pain meant.

It wasn’t the records; not entirely. I still have a collection even I find impressive; stuff you can’t find on CD or MP3; stuff I still put on the turntable I bought after my divorce just so I could continue listening to them. But mostly it was the aggregation of stress over the decisions, and over the realisation that no one values the things I love the way I do.

We had a very productive yard sale; over a period of a week, between Craig’s List ads and the yard we made enough to buy Sue an excellent laptop for our new life—and as much again beyond that.

But, my books? Sold 6, gave away a dozen more, and the other hundreds will go to the library’s bin for their used sale.

Computers? The one I recorded over 100 songs on, recorded my podcasts and online radio shows, a little workhorse that saw use by someone in the family every single day—I can’t give it away. Nor can I get rid of five or six more computers, including an IBM server which originally cost the company I worked for at the time something like $4,000. Nobody buys used computers. Nobody even takes them for free.

I have a thing about cups and glasses. When I find one that feels right in my hand and against my lips it’s like making a new friend. Over the decades, I’ve gathered a lotta friends.

How many cups, pub glasses, and favorite bowls can one put in storage? Not many, not if one intends to be a nomad, and not a financial supporter of the National Association of Storage Units.

Palm trees. Not real ones, but embroidered or painted on everything. Our home’s theme was always going to be Scheherezade’s Oasis. Palm trees and oriental patterns on lamps. Palm trees on the quilt on the only bed we’ve ever shared. Palm trees on clocks (plural) and paintings and who knows what all.

Gone. All but a single framed print.

Cassette tapes I’ve lugged around for far too long. Since the only cassette player we own is, hopefully, still going to be sold (another difficult sell: small stereo systems with multi-CD player, dual cassette deck, decent speakers . . . ah, well.) Where was I? Cassettes. Large box will most likely end up in the trash; small small handful, I just don’t know. I don’t even know what’s on them. I have 10 days to find out because we’re not storing them. I’m scared rigid one of them will be the only remaining recordings of my father singing, or have some record of my 4 older children.

Down at the far end of the library/music room, I found a handful of books by Booth Tarkington. They’re not mine; they belong to my second son, my third child. When his mother and I divorced, he boxed them up and mailed them to me. I’d bought them for him when he took an interest in the adventures of Penrod.

I’ve decided the only thing I can do is mail them back. I can’t store them forever. I cannot possibly sell them, or give them away, or throw them away. So, he’ll have to decide.

Golf clubs. Clubs I haven’t pulled out of the bag in over a decade. SImple decision, right? Hah! I might just be able to give them away, despite the fact that the woods, at least, are a matched set of Bobby Jones Jr. persimmons which crack like a whip and have a sweet spot the size of Milwaukee. Nice leather bag, and some easy-to-hit irons and a wooden shafted putter which is a nightmare to hit but pure joy to look at and hold.

When my older brother moved to Texas where I lived, he spent some of the very little money he had on those clubs to bring to me as a gift, so he could teach me the game and have someone to share it with. He did, and we did, and I’ll probably part with my beloved vinyl albums before I let the clubs go. Besides, if we end up in Ireland, there’s a glorious world-class course not far from where we’ll be living.

My father’s tool box; the one he carried in the trunk of our car from my earliest memory. The hasp has been broken since somewhere around 1985, I think. It contains some greasy rust and a torque wrench. The likelihood that I will ever again use a torque wrench is right up there with my chances of winning American Idol. It sits on a shelf, with a few other oddments from the basement, hah; basement oddments; mocking me, daring me to email my sister and older brother Yet Once More asking, since you’re taking Dad’s 1951 Webster’s Dictionary, and the cuckoo clock he found somewhere and fixed, would you like his broken toolbox, too? And then I have to store it until our travels take us to San Diego in a few months.

We haven’t lived in our old home for almost a week. We own exactly one piece of furniture, a glorious mahogany table with a carved top and sensuously curved legs which I’m not ready to part with just yet. Oh yes; we own a table and four chairs, being used by Sue’s two adult children in their new apartment until we need them, or abandon the belief that we ever will.

On the 29th, our hosts return from Italy. We’re invited to stay over that night, then we’re leaving at the crack of dawn to make the 13-hour drive to Phoenix. If we don’t, our options are pretty severely limited. We don’t have a home, we don’t have furniture.

And yet, the naysayers continue to wriggle out from behind the paneling, suggesting that I’ve taken leave of my senses, that I need guidance and direction to set me back on the right path, that my family, my business, my spirituality, my life are all at stake if I don’t wake up and smell the good advice.

What, at this point, would a naysayer like me to do? Just because you’ve only thought about this for a week doesn’t mean I’ve only thought about it for a week. I’ve thought about it off and on for years. Sue and I have actively thought about it for months. We even included a 5-week experimental international trip.

After much thought and consultation with many trusted advisors, we made the best decision we can with the information currently on hand. Your opinion does not constitute ‘more information’ and isn’t going to cause us to reverse course, find a tiny apartment where we can sleep on the floor under the single blanket we own, eating off paper plates on the storage boxes we’d have to use as table and chairs.

I think that, just maybe, now that I’ve reached the age of 50 (that’s, y’know, half a century) I’m capable of making a decision without your second-guessing it. In fact, I have, and it’s done.

Thursday morning, September 30th, my life turns an abrupt corner which has been a long time coming.

Fasten your seatbelts and hang on. It’s gonna be a wild ride.

Montreal Itinerary

Looks like it’s going to take 2 full weeks, 14 days, to make Montreal. Guess I’m not the road warrior I thought I was, but I just can’t imagine pushing that hard for that long. Also, I guess I can’t just drop in on my Mom, who I haven’t seen in nearly 10 years, for a single night. (We’ll be back later to spend a couple weeks with her.)

I’ll be reconnecting with an uncle and aunt I haven’t seen in nearly 30 years, staying with a musical buddy who’s slept on my couch, staying with a friend who just moved from here a few weeks ago, and meeting a couple folks who’ve become incredibly close online but whom I’ve not yet hugged in real life.

Update 1:Thanks to Jerry Kennedy‘s reminder nudge, we checked out and found a place in Albuquerque.

Update 2:I didn’t check with enough people in Toronto, so one of them checked with me. H’ray for Debs, my musical friend in Toronto!

Thursday 30 Sep Home Phoenix Terry
Friday 1 Oct Phoenix Phoenix
Saturday 2 Oct Phoenix Albuquerque Sonja
Sunday 3 Oct Albuquerque Denver Jason
Monday 4 Oct Denver Rapid City Denny
Tuesday 5 Oct Rapid City Arlington Mimi
Wednesday 6 Oct Arlington Rice Lake Mom
Thursday 7 Oct Rice Lake Rice Lake
Friday 8 Oct Rice Lake Rice Lake
Saturday 9 Oct Rice Lake Fremont Charlie
Sunday 10 Oct Fremont Fremont
Monday 11 Oct Fremont Toronto Debs
Tuesday 12 Oct Toronto Ottawa Shawn
Wednesday 13 Oct Ottawa Granby Cristina

The Real Challenge

I wrote a few days ago that the real challenges are inside us; the journey simply exposes them.

Here’s my challenge: guilt.

And I don’t even know, for certain, why.

I feel like I’m cheating the system. Living without the cost of a house and its utilities is less expensive. I know a lot of people who’d travel if only their significant other wanted to, or the kids were older or not born yet or whatever; if only they had a job that blah blah blah.

Everyone I talk to says, how nice for you. Some of them seem to mean, that’s great; how can I make it better? But I feel, sometimes, like there’s a subtext of, sure, you get to go driving all over creation, dragging your wife and little girl along, while the rest of us have to have a real job and be mature and keep civilisation from collapsing.

Yeah, maybe that’s it; that’s where the guilt comes from, in part. What nonsense.

It is not wrong to live an unconventional lifestyle. I’ve lived conventional. For years, I had work (which I loved) which was in an office. I had other responsibilities in life which made a location-specific life make the most sense.

Now, that’s changed. We’ve built businesses which are location independent. Certain spiritual responsibilities are no longer mine, at least for the time being. Fiona’s school allows her to go where and when we go. My friendships are worldwide, many of them virtual (which I’d like to change, which is another reason to travel.)

The only value in guilt is when we’ve done something wrong and need to correct our path.

Nothing doing. There’s no reason for guilt here. I am making good choices with my family’s best interests at heart.

Still, it lingers, that angry voice in the back of my head, whining about responsibility, what I owe.

Ah well. I’ll keep listening to the voices that make sense.

Vancouver Review: Dates & Duration

We crossed the 49th parallel heading north at 9:15 am Monday the 2nd of August.

We crossed the 49th parallel heading south at 3:30 pm Wednesday the 25th of August after spending 3 weeks, 2 days, 6 hours & 15 minutes in Canada

Still to come: statistics (miles, dollars, etc.), impressions, achievements, and more.

Home—For Now

We pulled into the carport at 9:50pm, after 31 days on the road and in Canada. Unloaded and ready for a shower and bed by 10:30.

Much to share about the trip and the future. But not tonight. Tonight, I sleep in my own bed for the first time in over a month.

And that doesn’t feel like the big deal I thought it would.

Desire for a Flood

We are not ascetics. We love good food and wine (well, Sue’s pancreas has decided she can’t have alcohol any more, but she loves the smell) and we prefer nice furniture to garage sale stuff. We like a comfortable life and nice things.

Clearly, though, folks who are doing their best to divest themselves of stuff aren’t focused on said stuff too much.

Our goal is a simple lifestyle. This doesn’t mean living on crummy food or in dingy basements. (Consider that some of our best alcoholic beverages originated in monasteries.) It’s about choosing which stuff needs to be nice, and which stuff doesn’t matter.

I read this sentence this morning:

“This world’s advertising elements try to build in us a desire for a flood of consumer goods that we do not need. (Italics mine.)

Need. That can be a tough word to define, and we’re in the process of redefining it for ourselves.

Most of us can agree that the average family does not need six cars, or a house with more bathrooms than people.

But how many computers does our family ‘need’ ? Does Fiona need a computer? Do I need all my musical instruments?

Drawing the line between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is a difficult and, in the end, subjective and personal challenge. Resisting the media’s crushing push to make me want more more more, though, is an imperative.

The Eagles Have Landed

Ian and Caitlyn have arrived for a quick overnighter before Trip #2.

Beans on the stove, brown rice and cornbread in the oven, homemade salsa in the fridge.

It’s gonna be a great dinner, followed almost instantly by waffles (or pancakes, no one’s decided for sure) for breakfast.

By bedtime tonight we will have tripled the amount of time we’ve spent with these folks whose home we’ve been living in for more than two weeks.

Guest Post: Ken Grossman on Brilliance and Absurdity

Ken has been a good friend to our family for many years. He’s a deep thinker with a sense of humour skewed in directions we like. He sent this as an email, and at Sue’s request is allowing us to post it here.

The nomadic lifestyle took awhile to sink in with me but I’m on-board now. I cannot say whether it is an absurd idea or brilliant but I suspect it is a bit of both. Here is what I like about it:

  • It serves that inner voice in many of us to live life with gusto
  • It also serves the inner voice that speaks to our wanderlust (But we may need to be aware of too many inner voices as we may end up on medication:)
  • A chance to meet people and REALLY get to know them
  • I think you and Sue have the brainpower and personality to pull this off
  • The world has become very virtualized and there are not many things you cannot do over the Internet
  • Freedom, not total freedom, but freedom to a degree that most industrialized people will not voluntarily seek
  • Exposing Fiona to an unconventional and rich array of experiences, I suspect she will grow up to be a different sort of person and I can’t wait to see
  • I would hope there is a potential through your website to catch an audience that may fuel you both spiritually and financially
  • If you can be successful, I would think you would achieve a comfort with living your life in a predatory world and not fear the future. (See Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

There are probably more things I can think of I like but on to the things I am fearful of:

  • You WILL be very dependent on the Internet; stay tuned into potential changes there
  • I don’t know what kind of safety nets you have in place but I suspect that it is not many. Your level of vulnerability concerns me
  • A big safety Net issue is Health care…
  • Traveling the roads makes you very dependent on your vehicle
  • There are bad people out there. Some of them really really seem like good people. Be careful
  • Fiona is blessed to have you both but I would be concerned about her none the less. I don’t wish to verbalize all the reasons…
  • It is a truly crappy economy out there and this might be the perfect way to face it, but, we relentlessly move towards the future and preparing for that should be somewhere on your radar.

OK, a couple of thoughts.

  • The My-Fi from Verizon is very good for browsing the Internet but it sucks for file upload/download especially outside the 3G range. I’ve read about new technology for cars but I don’t know anything about it. You will need to find hot spots.
  • You may want to put a Android phone near the top of your list. If you can try one for 15 days before returning it (Verizon included a $35 restocking fee for my Droid X) then that might be worth it. If you cut loose on this project, I think a Droid phone would be like a Swiss Army Knife for you.

What do you think about Ken’s lists? Are the pluses enough? What about the concerns? We’d love to hear your comments below.