Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Decade Ago...

Travis hopped a Greyhound bus, and moved into my "house".

Us, ten years ago living in a van in Cali.
A few months later, we were down to our last $23. The plan, retirement at 26, hit a few snags.

What followed was a series of jobs, synchronicities and schemes that landed us in Arizona, aboard a donated Airstream camper, in the middle of nowhere, living on "borrowed" land and time.

Homesteading by amateurs. 
Clearing a driveway
The middle of nowhere was as good as anywhere.

Our existence  was a circular one.

We drove to the flea market on weekends. This served the dual purpose of charging batteries we kept behind the driver's seat, which powered our " homestead" for the week, and unloading our "products" which we made using the power provided by the said batteries. Life was a precarious affair punctuated by water hauling, battery charging, naked hacky-sacking and wild dancing by the fire pit.

We made "Rollerboards" that we sold at the weekly flea market to support our "retirement"

We scraped by like this for a few months. Our creative energy was high, but our funds could never  match our ambitions. Experiments with wind generators proved too costly, solar panels were beyond our means. We were heavily dependent on the car, as our means of transport and power, and it too needed maintenance we could hardly afford. When it finally exhaled its last carbon monoxide sigh, and quietly rolled to a stop, we were facing a grim reality. Retirement cost money and we had none.

Living in the RV park
So we did what anyone in our situation would do, we began working with mentally retarded people. Oddly enough it was a job we could relate to.

As our cash flow became steady, our thoughts turned away from the failed attempt at self sustainability. We moved out of the desert and into an RV park. Ironically, here we were surrounded by retirees or "snow birds" as they are called in Arizona. We watched these creatures, observed their migration patterns, studied their habits and nesting patterns.

This time of watching and learning the ways of the "snow birds", tempered our wild desire for freedom with the patience needed to earn such a freedom. The world didn't owe us anything. The desert didn't care how many great ideas we had, or how special we thought we were. That vast, hot landscape was impersonal in her judgements. If our preparations for life in that land were inadequate, that land would claim was what hers and cover it with a layer of dust. The only protection against such a fate was ... the set up.

This education in The Art of The Set-up, brings us to where we are today, celebrating our ten year anniversary aboard TARA, a key ingredient to our current scheme.

Ten years ago I could have not imagined that we would be living aboard one glorious yacht and ready to move aboard another. The lesson of the desert, the teachings of the "snow birds" and our own past failures at "freedom" are coming full circle. And this time around, at least for the moment, we find ourselves on the upswing.



The Gremlins Hammer said...

This is a great post! One of the best that I've read.

rob said...

Really Great Post thanks for sharing, I`d like to think that I will become a snow bird one
day but maybe its a little late :o))

Travis and Maggie said...

Thanks GH! It was a lot of fun to write.

dave said...

I love the part about the snow birds. Very funny.

Anonymous said...

what kind of van was that and how long did the two of you live in it? I've also lived in a van, but was by myself and I think another person would make it very tight.

Travis and Maggie said...

It was a Ford Econoline named YUMBUM. Together we lived in it for around 5 months, but it was my home for almost two years. It was tight but also very fun, and somehow it all worked out.

jomomma said...

Awesome post, love your ambition. Can't wait to see what the next ten years holds for you guys.

Jim Greenwood said...

Thank you for the post! I love your spirit and desire to do things in your own way!! I love the picture of you guys and your van.

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Congratulations on 10 years ... and so much accomplished! Thanks for sharing your past ... really cool stuff! The thought of living in a van or RV has definitely crossed our minds ... after cruising maybe.

Your hard work and patience are paying off!

Travis and Maggie said...

What a bunch of um... free spirits (I was going to say weirdo) we have gathered here! Thanks for the kind words, you are all a bad influence ;)

Becka and Justin said...

Nice Pic Guys! Congrats on 10 years! We would love to have you guys over to our pad sometime- we really are living it up in a totally rediculous manner- I think you'd get a kick outta our place. Justin says: "We just got to our ten years too, but the difference is, you two are old." I do not condone this comment in any way shape or form. In fact, I'm not even sure why I included it. Maybe it was the evil grin on his face. :-) Miss you guys, the water, and the marina.

Travis and Maggie said...

Hi Becka and Justin! So good to hear from you.
Was Justin sitting on his "old man" seat when he said that? Just wondering ;) We gotta get together. Its weird seeing your boat empty. We miss you too, the marina is not the same without you.

Linn said...

love this! love the van!!

Ali and Pat said...

Maggie, I loved this post. Seeing your van and then your donated airstream. Learning and getting it done. Good for you guys. Happy 10 years!

YUMBUM?! We are definitely kindred spirits. :)

Ali and Pat