A Very Unparked Domain
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What is this trip all about?

The 3 toughest questions we’ve been asked so far by people we meet on the road are:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What is the trip all about?

1. Where are you from is a tough question because Neil grew up in an Air Force family, I’ve traveled abroad for school and work, we’ve had 17 addresses in our marriage of 7 1/2 years, and between the two of us we’ve lived in 2 provinces, 6 states, 7 countries, 3 continents, and we’ve traveled in oodles of others. (Other people collect stamps, we collect geography.) We are most recently from Richmond, Virginia: if anyone wants a more precise answer, we’d better sit them down and put the kettle on.

2. Where are you going is a tough question because, as Neil wrote earlier, we’re taking the scenic route to nowhere in particular. At least, we don’t have a set time frame, a set route, or a solidly set final destination. And what we think we’ve got figured out so far we fully expect to change while we’re on the road.

3. What is the trip all about is aneasier question to answer, even if the answer is a little complicated.

Seizing the Day
We’ve always wanted to travel together. We got engaged on a road trip on Neil’s old Suzuki Bandit (motorcycle), and we’ve just kept on trucking ever since.

When Neil became a full-time telecommuter this spring, we jumped at the chance to put the trip together and work from the road while we travelled around exploring the country. We really don’t expect to see gasoline prices drop in the near future, either, so we’ve both felt like either we make this trip right now or we might not be able to afford to do it later on. (We’d love to be wrong on this point!)

Fleeing the Heat
We’ve had 4 1/2 great years in Richmond. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity (and the collateral mold and fungus crops) have posed some real challenges for my health. And July and August are the muggiest, moldiest months of the Richmond calendar, which I typically spend living under virtual house arrest.

While we would have enjoyed a little more time to prepare for the trip, we scrambled to get on the road as fast as possible so we could avoid the Richmond summer. Our initial plan is to head to Maine, or somewhere similarly cool for the summer, and then start driving some serious miles in the fall when the rest of the country cools off.

We’re hoping that in our travels we’ll find somewhere with four seasons of mold-free, healthy weather that works for us.

Finding a Home
This trip is more about the journey than the destination, but our ultimate goal, to the extent we have one, is to find somewhere new to make our home base.

We’ve hopped around the continent throughout our marriage chasing jobs and opportunities, but so far we haven’t made deliberate choices about where we wanted to be. This is our big chance to chose our home.

So far our criteria boil down to looking for a place that offers healthy, sustainable, affordable living:

  • Arid climate
  • Temperate climate (in the subjective sense of “temperate enough for us”)
  • Outside hazardous weather zones (tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc.)
  • Good air quality
  • Walkable: preferably a walkable city, but even a good walkable neighbourhood will do
  • Good public transportation
  • Local food production
  • Local water supply
  • Reasonable cost of living

The shorter version: Vancouver, British Columbia without the rain (and with more affordable housing).

To some extent, the perfect home is like art: we’ll know it when we see it. And whether or not we find it, we fully intend to enjoy the adventure of looking for it.

If you think you know a good location that fits these criteria, speak up! We’re open to all suggestions.

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8 comments

1 Gavin John Sheehan { 07.14.08 at 2:48 pm }

I only hope that after 7.5 years of marriage, Erin and I can still pack it all in and head for the hills.

Be safe you crazy people.

2 Shaula { 07.14.08 at 2:52 pm }

Hullo, handsome!

In fairness, you and Erin ran straight in the other direction, towards the adventures of home ownership. (How is your crazy house going?)

I’ll trade you the movie rights on the story of our trip for the movie rights on the story of your house any day.

Please give our love to Erin and tell her that every time we pass a Food Lion, we think of her. (Seriously!)

And don’t worry, we are always safe. We’re just trying to also not be too expensive. It makes for a challenging balance.

3 Gavin John Sheehan { 07.15.08 at 9:12 am }

This should bring you up to speed on the past year at 2260 florian

http://www.flickr.com/photos/95526626@N00/sets/72157604041962804/

be good
g

4 Shaula { 07.15.08 at 11:38 pm }

My absolute favourite is Erin as killer of walls.

Are you the designated photographer? Because I’m having a hard time finding pics of you in there.

5 poetloverrebelspy { 07.20.08 at 3:11 am }

I find your thoughts on gas prices intriguing — almost everyone else is avoiding the road because it’s “too expensive,” but you are most certainly right to think it’ll probably never be cheaper again . . .

I wanted to chime in with a couple suggestions that may save you money and hassle anyway :)

+ It pays to know where to fill up cheaply. Thankfully, there are thousands of people around the country who’ve got your back. Check out sites like Gas Buddy.
+ Always properly inflate your tires — this will save you serious money over the course of such a long trip.
+ You can find more tips like these in my post Road Trip Savings: Fuel Costs

+ Get thee FREE road maps for everywhere you’re headed. Check out these resources:
> Friday Freebie: U.S. State Tourist Information and Highway Maps
> Friday Freebie: Canadian Tourist Information and Highway Maps
> Friday Freebie: Rand McNally Road Atlas

+ Finally, if you get bored, here a list of productive ways for Killing Time on the Road.

Enjoy, and please leave a comment with your own suggestions!

6 Shaula { 07.20.08 at 10:48 am }

The thing about “expensive” is that it is a relative, not an absolute, term.

Gas prices definitely feel expensive right now in the US. But gas isn’t nearly as expensive here as it is in much of the world. More importantly, it isn’t “too” expensive for us.

When it comes to budget/ financial decisions, my personal experience has been that perfection is the enemy of good. Rather than try to find the absolute cheapest / lowest / best buy, I’m more concerned in finding a good buy, that provides enough value, in a time frame that suits my needs.

From that perspective, traveling now while we can afford it and have the opportunity makes more sense than delaying our trip in the hopes of a better deal in an indeterminate future.

I’m all in favour of rational delayed gratification, but I’m not in favour of gambling. We try to aim for a sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

In addition, I’ve been used to work with some top notch economic analysts like Ian Welsh and Stirling Newberry; they’ve been writing about peak oil problem for years. Current gas prices don’t come as a surprise to me at all, and I do fully expect prices to continue to trend upwards.

Hence our carpe diem strategy.

Thank you again for thinks. We’ll check them all out.

7 Neil { 07.20.08 at 10:52 am }

Thanks, poetloverrebelspy,

Hopefully, we can return some tips as we go: such as if you have a *little* budget; many truck stops have an audio-book rental program, where you can pick up a tape at one stop, and drop it off at another down the road. They’re set up for long-haul truckers, so it’s a fairly natural fit.

8 Neil { 07.20.08 at 11:27 am }

We’ve also been running numbers on things. At first glance, it seems like a big waste of money (not to mention natural resources) and we both had problems with that. But what we’ve realized is that we might be coming out ahead (or at worst, even or not so far behind).

We already save far more fuel than we’re using, by not commuting to work and back. Not only did the straight mileage of a daily commute exceed what we’re driving now, but the timing was bad. You use more gas commuting in rush-hour, simply because it’s stop-and-go. Hitting the brakes as you drive is the equivalent of a plane dumping fuel: all that work the fuel did to build the motion gets thrown away. And then you have to build it up again.

We’re chasing the weather, which means we’re spending as much time as possible where the weather is nice. The money to get us to Maine for the summer–where we can leave the windows open–is less than the cost of air-conditioning the apartment in Richmond. I realize the raw fuel consumption difference is not as great as the difference in cash, but it still seems to be a much closer trade-off than we first envisioned.

We’re also hoping that we will be able to expand the trip and do large portions of travel by train. I believe trains are going to make a come-back (despite government attempts to shut them down). Trains are already cost-competitive with flying; and with security lineups, the time isn’t so drastically different for shorter runs. On longer runs, you can work on the train. Locomotives are also turning hybrid–which you’re not likely to see airliners do.

So, strictly financially, we feel we’re coming out ahead.

1 Trackback/Ping

1 Mortaine’s Blog / August 1: Blog Carnival of Full time RV Travel { 08.01.08 at 8:26 am }

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