Monday’s Trip from Arizona to California

It’s taken me a few days to catch up and get this post written about our trip this past Monday.

Joel and I both woke up at 4 am but decided to try to get some more rest before our alarm went off at 5:45 am. Quick showers, cup of tea, check email, finish packing the van and we were on the road at 7:30 am. Today is the long 13-hour drive from Mesa Arizona to Roseville California.

Our first stop was at the Burnt Well rest area to use the facilities and a quick leg stretch. It was also the first school lesson of the day – learning more about Arizona cacti.

It was interesting to see a bit later snow on the mountains as we came into California.

For lunch we met Susie Speck Mayor at Fab Hot Dog, a hot dog place in Los Angeles she and her husband own and operate. Joel met Susie on Triiibes. Susie treated us all to our choice of hot dog and Fiona had her first YooHoo.

So we’re here in Roseville now and in two weeks our daughter Rachelle gets married.

Coming Back Home – Where is Home?

Yesterday I read a post at another traveler’s blog discussing where home is. Being a nomad means we have no home in the traditional sense of the word. Our last home was a rental in Roseville California. Now when asked where is home, I answer, here – where we are right now.

Right now, today, home is in Mesa Arizona. Home is where ever my husband and daughter are at. Monday home will be in Roseville California through March 20th. So some may think I’m going back home. Yet California doesn’t feel like home anymore.

When we return to Mesa Arizona on March 21st, it will feel like I’m coming back home. At least for a while. Until we go ‘home’ to Rice Lake Wisconsin where Joel’s mom lives. Joel was born in Wisconsin so he’ll be going home in yet another sense.

Home here in Arizona for the past 7 weeks has been great. Our hosts and friends, the Wilson’s, have made us feel right at home. We all pitch in together to shop, cook, and clean. We enjoy watching movies together at the end of the day. Joel and Terry, both musicians and bass players, loved participating in FAWM during February and creating new songs.

Fiona right now is making peanut butter cookies with Virgie. She loves both Terry and Virgie and they have made her feel very special while we’ve been here.

We’re very grateful to the Wilsons for hosting us these past 7 weeks. We’re happy they want us to come back to house sit in March while they’re on vacation. It will be nice to have a place to ourselves for a couple of weeks in a place where we feel comfortable and AT HOME!

Driving Through Coronado

Coronado is my favorite part of San Diego. The historic Hotel del Coronado was the largest wooden building in the US when it was built more than a century ago . . . and it still is, today. Then we cross the enormous Coronado Bridge, completed and opened in July of 1969, the month before my family moved to San Diego.

The ‘zippers’ I keep talking about in the video are two machines that move large concrete blocks from one side of the middle lane to the other side on the bridge. It’s a 5-lane bridge, so in the morning, it’s 3 lanes inbound to San Diego, 2 lanes into Coronado. Late in the morning, the two zipper-mobiles drive across the bridge. As the front of the vehicle comes to the concrete block, the block is lifted on a conveyor under the machine, then dropped off at the opposite corner of the zipper. Each one is only long enough and wide enough to move the blocks half a lane, so the two travel in mated pairs, moving the blocks across the entire center lane twice each day. It’s fun to watch; the weirdest mix of high tech and low tech I’ve seen.

The incidental music is “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” from ELO’s “Eldorado”

San Diego’s Perfect Weather

When people across the US and Canada discover that Sue and I used to live in San Diego, they inevitably ask “Why would you leave the world’s finest city where the weather is always perfect?” or something much like it. Well, we’ve lived there most of our lives, and we’ve decided that it’s a nice place to visit, but it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Warning: Sarcasm Ahead

House Sitting Job Needed

We’d love to spend the month of April house sitting somewhere in the south. For us, that means the Virginias or Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky. We’re flexible, so other states aren’t out of the question, and the end of March is possible, and the April thing is pretty open-ended too.

We also have this dream of spending May in Slovenia so if you just happen to know someone there who needs a house sitter for the month of May (or at least a few weeks) we’d love to talk.

And wherever you are, if you’d like to schedule a house concert in your living room for yourself and all your music-loving friends, I’d love to put you on my schedule. I’m proud of the music I write and enjoy sharing it with others.

House Sitting in Roseville with Fiona Bunch

We are currently house sitting for friends in Roseville California while they are backpacking in Italy. We’re one week in to our two-week house sitting job here and loving it.

The home owners gave us permission to take some photos and post them here. As all of you who were worried about Fiona having a bed and room of her own to sleep in, she does have a bed and room of her own – much nicer than she had previously. She certainly didn’t have a walk-in closet before!

Besides the fresh roses in the guest bedroom, there was a vase of fresh roses in the kitchen awaiting us when we arrived. Along with a note that said, “Eat what you want; use what you want.” Fiona was given a gift by Bob and Bentley – the mini dachshunds we are dog sitting.

One morning we were eating breakfast at the dining room table and I looked out the window to see a beautiful rainbow. I quickly took pictures and then watched as it disappeared.

When my friend from Grass Valley asked how it felt to be ‘homeless’ I looked around and said, “I feel like I’m living in luxury at the moment.”

What I Learned from Our Trip to Canada

You may wonder what it’s been like packing up the van and taking our six-year old to Canada and back. There were those of you who were worried about how Fiona would handle it. Would she have friends to play with? Would she have a bed to sleep in? How would she continue doing her school work?

Then there were the questions of how we would continue to work while traveling. Would we have internet access when we needed it? Would clients want to work with us knowing we were out of the country?

And then the questions of how much would this cost? Wouldn’t this be expensive?

Let me start by saying we’ve decided the experiment was a success. We learned some things and know they are some adjustments we need to make so that in the long run this works most effectively. There were some challenges – all of which we were able to deal with successfully. So much so that we’ve decided to do this as our way of life for a while. We’re leaving California again at the end of September to travel cross country and up into Montreal to stay with friends for a while.

Fiona had a great time! She made new friends that we will stay in touch with. She got to play with new friends at the park. Everywhere we went she had a bed to sleep in. Actually the last night she slept on a friend’s couch – and thought that was a blast! We started doing school work and it worked just like it always did.

We continued working with all our usual clients and started working with new clients. That’s the beauty of our virtual work – it doesn’t matter where we live. We always had internet access either where we were staying or at a nearby coffee house. One new client did ask where we were located and then was very impressed that we could get the work done so quickly – all without being anywhere near him physically.

This was not expensive! We never ate out and enjoyed home cooked meals the entire time. Lodging cost zero. So there were no extra costs except for gas for the van, which had already been covered by funds we received from our yard sale and donated to us.

So I learned:

  • Being together as a family is most important
  • Possessions are not important
  • Our work is not dependent on our location
  • Fiona is a very happy traveler
  • Joel and I love traveling
  • It will actually cost less to live as nomads than to continue renting and paying utilities
  • Our family must live a nomadic life (at least for a while) so we can meet new friends and enjoy our life!

So here we go! We’re in the process of selling off a lot, storing the few things we always think we’ll want, and packing up the rest to go on the road. Fiona has helped decide which books and videos to take, store or sell, and will help decide which toys to take, store or sell. We have wonderful friends here who are willing to store what we’re leaving behind. Other friends who are graciously opening their homes to us along the way. And clients who know their business will continue to be taken care of as we travel.

Stay tuned for what happens next!

Guest Post by Sara Gaffney: You Have My Blessing and Envy

Sara is a virtual assistant who founded the Northern California Virtual Assistants Meetup Group. We’ve been able to get to know Sara quite well over the last year or two. She recently sent us a couple of emails that she has agreed to let us share as a guest post.

Hi Sue & Joel,

I have been following your blog. I think it is great what you guys are doing! I am enjoying reading your posts :) Where are you heading next? Do you have your two months planned out?

Make sure you have a good GPS, and good set of tools with you and your battery is always charged on your cell phones. Never take a detour if you are not sure if the weather is bad, and always let someone know where you are heading to. OK, those are my motherly tips for the day :) BE safe, have fun, enjoy, and experience life as it was meant to be experienced; meeting people in their own environment, face to face, seeing life through your own eyes; instead of what you hear on T.V, or in books.

This is an experience every child and adult should have.

What a history lesson. Fiona can really experience how others live, not just those in Roseville California. It is not always easy when your child/children asks you those difficult questions that most parents try to protect our children from. When you pass through a town that you want to lock the doors or a city that looks deserted because all the factories and businesses have closed down. Or where the majority of people have different skin color then you. If more people were able to get out of their back yard and travel around we would be a better place.

I would add that you make time for play groups. I would hate to think she has an imaginary friend :) That could be fun too… I seem to remember I had an imaginary friend. I didn’t turn out too bad!

This is from the Webster Dictionary: Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse

Wow, for some reason I don’t see how you fall under the category of guilty.

So don’t have any guilt. You’re giving your family an opportunity to live outside your backyard and make friends with people that have all different kinds of stories to share about their life. And for a person to grow, they need to get out of their own backyard sometimes. Who’s to say when that time is? Live in the moment, who knows if there’s a tomorrow?

You have my blessing and envy.

Take care,


P.S. One more thing, you are not cheating the system… We created virtual businesses so we didn’t have to work for any one. That we could work on the beach if we wanted to. Well, you have choosen to work driving around in your car right now, home to home. What’s is wrong with that? You are working, making money, doing what you like, while others are hating life, losing their home, fighting with their spouse and getting fired.

So I say, when you pack the car, smile wide and wave good-bye knowing at least for now you have done the right thing. You can always rent a place again. You can even move in with your kids :)

OK, that will be $55 hr for my counseling services :)

When we asked her if we could post this as a guest post she replied, “OK, sure. If it makes you not feel guilty and gives hope to others to see that living is not just behind four walls then go for it.”

Have I Always Had the Travel Bug?

Looking back over my 46 years of life (I’m not afraid of my age), I think now perhaps there’s always been a part of me that wanted to get up and go – travel.

As I child the only vacation I remember our family taking was driving to the Grand Canyon. Many times dad just took mom and us four kids for a drive on a Saturday afternoon. That was our entertainment (we weren’t big TV watchers). My favorite thing about going camping when my older kids were growing up was the journey of getting there more than the camping itself.

Yet as an adult I didn’t like the idea of not having a home and stability. I wanted to feel rooted and safe. However as the years passed there were many times when I just wanted to get in the car and drive – and drive and drive and drive. I wanted to pack up and go with no real reason, destination or plan. Yet I never did until I started my life with Joel.

Joel and I started our life together with a 25-hour road trip from Phoenix Arizona to San Francisco California. And then we took several road trips from Sacramento to San Diego during the next year. Our honeymoon was a road trip from our home in Roseville California to Oak Creek Canyon Arizona. We both love to drive, listen to our favorite music and talk during our trips. Since we’ve been taking road trips since before Fiona was born, I think she was born with the travel bug. Even as a baby she was an excellent traveler.

Now we often take off for a day and just drive. The idea now of living in one place (so-called stability) no longer appeals to me. Why does staying in once place equal stability? If my quality of life and enjoyment of life is actually improved by traveling, isn’t that more stable than being in one physical place – feeling stifled?

Yes, I think I’ve always had the travel bug and now have someone to share it with who is even more adventurous than me! And I feel safer than ever.

Here’s to our happy travels!

From Washington to Oregon in a Day

This morning we left Arlington Washington and drove down to Portland Oregon. We stopped in Olympia, Washington’s capital, and at the Farmer’s Market bought breakfast – great fresh fruit: peaches, apples, plums. We also bought lunch – cucumbers, grape tomatoes and a great loaf of garlic and rosemary French bread.

Upon arriving in Portland at 3 pm we went to the Starbuck’s we had arranged to meet some people at. Debi Leonard and Annette Pederson are virtual assistants who met with us to discuss their business and each got a copy of the action guide for virtual assistants. We also met Triiibes member Patrick Proethe. Fiona met a new friend – Anna.

We’re now catching up on emails and such while we wait for Troy & Nancy to call us back. (The phone just rang; it was Nancy). They’ve kindly agreed to put us up for the night. And I just found out we are probably all going to another friend’s house for a BBQ.

Tomorrow is the long haul back to California. Here we come!