The concept seemed simple at first…just pack up and go; put life on hold, enjoy life and each other’s company and travel around for a year or so before we really have to “grow up.”  Ha!  How could I have been so naïve?  Once we actually decided to make this happen, it became apparent that it takes an awful lot of planning, preparation and money to take off on a plan-less adventure!

Money.  Simply put, we weren’t going anywhere without it, and unfortunately, our bank accounts at the onset of this idea were not going to support us for any length of time.  Granted, we were planning on living uncomfortably and eating simply throughout the trip, but even that takes money.  We began saving our pennies and finding ways to scrounge up extra cash wherever we could.  In the back of our minds, everything became, ‘do we buy this, do we really need that, or do we go without and instead earn ourselves 1 or 2 or even 3 more days on the road.’ Don’t laugh…we went to extremes in some cases, but it’s working and we’re leaving in just over a month!

We stopped eating out and going out.  I love to cook, so this wasn’t an everyday thing for us anyway, but a few meals a week were at restaurants and Mike typically bought his lunch at work everyday.  Wow…who knew we spent so much on entertainment, food and drinks?  Our monthly credit card bills were cut almost in half!  It has been a satisfying adjustment and it makes the infrequent times we actually DO treat ourselves to a night out seem more special.

We froze.  Some people think it doesn’t get cold in California.  Our house, known to many as “the double wide in the ditch,” is exactly that; a little cabin down in a culvert, next to a river, surrounded by a lush, damp environment. It gets cold down here in the wintertime…believe me, I come from Minnesota and I know what cold is!  Our brilliant money saving idea last winter was to go without heat.  It was painfully uncomfortable, but we were both too stubborn to give in.  Instead we simply wore our down jackets, hats, mittens and long underwear around the house.  It was a bit cumbersome trying to cook and eat dinner with all of those clothes on, it was ridiculous seeing our breath inside our own house and it was pretty pathetic that we had to go outside to warm up because the temperature was higher outside than inside, even with frost on the ground!  I’m not exactly sure how much money we saved doing this, but I’d like to believe it was worth at least a couple of months of travel!

We sold things…bicycles, a TV, furniture and my car (which was really sad for me).  I am not someone who holds onto “stuff” and I’ve never before been connected to a vehicle, but I truly loved Green Bean. Perhaps it was because she still had a faint new car smell even after a year and-a-half of use, or she was still spick and span clean, shiny and new, or the fond memories of fabulous road trips and adventures taken together.  I wanted to keep her so badly, but it was inevitable, she was not a “she” but rather an “it”, simply a possession that was impossible to make loan payments on without an income.  I sold Green Bean a few weeks to a great couple.  It was a bittersweet end.  I kissed her goodbye, paid off my loan, never looked back and surprisingly, I didn’t even cry!  

We recycled.  All throughout the Bay Area I have noticed recycling sheds with people standing in line to be reimbursed for bags full of bottles and cans.  I wasn’t sure how much money they were getting for their efforts and I was positive it wasn’t much, but I thought I’d join them.  Between biking and running, we spend hundreds of miles out on the roads each week and the number of beverage containers strewn along the roadways makes me sick.  We began picking them up and collecting them in our garage.  I was embarrassed at first…very embarrassed!  Some people said "thank you" as they passed, but most just looked at us funny as we ran down the road with arms full of recycling or jersey pockets overflowing with beer bottles and cans.  It's a dirty job, but a satisfying one as we watched the roads around us become cleaner and the garbage cans of recycling pile up.   I quickly accepted the humility of this project and now when passersby ask me what I’m doing, proudly say, “recycling!”  Over the past 7 months, we have taken several truckloads full of recycling down to the sheds, stood amongst the homeless folks waiting in line and realized the irony of it all in that soon, we too, will technically be homeless. It takes a lot of cans and bottles to get a few bucks, but it slowly and surely adds up…

We stopped cutting our hair.  Have you ever added up how much your family collectively spends on hair stuff every year?  Although neither of us are particular about or pay much attention to our dews, it turns out to be a lot!  Like enough to buy us a plane ticket to South America!  It has been almost a year since either of us have cut our hair and we’re looking very shaggy, but we’re finding it rather fun and figured since we won't be cutting our hair while on our bikes, we might as well start our scrubby vagabonding look early and save a few bucks.

10 months of no hair cuts!

No comments: