June 9, 2014

On The Road: Super Simple Living

For the next while home is wherever our blue bus is parked.

It's official. We have initiated launch, and are on the road heading east. I wish I could could romanticize it all and say that it has been a freedom-filled fun fest, but so far it has been a daunting challenge.

It is hard to do super-simple living. Our blue bus feels spacious, but 120 square feet is a far cry from our former 586 square foot palatial condo. Throw in a wheelchair, three guitars and a bunch of other stuff, and easy tasks are all of a sudden quite difficult.

But as JFK said before sending people to the moon, we don't choose these things because they are easy, we choose them because they are hard. In other words, we can't find out what our limits and capabilities are in luxury and comfort. We need to face adversity or struggle in order to test our mettle.

It is good to find out that one can "cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way", whether you are going to the moon, or doing an extreme downsizing. This is exactly what has been happening for Linda and I on the first leg of our quest.

We are beginning to find our road legs and develop the routines that make super simple living not only possible, but exhilarating as well. The pay offs for our efforts are already rolling in.

One night we pulled off the side of the highway to bivouac for the night (yes - it was free). After crawling into bed Linda noticed that we could look through the van window and see the stars against the blackness of the sky.

After a while the moon rose above a mountain ridge, caressing the landscape in a soft light.

Toward morning I was woken by a grouse thumping its mating drum beat in the distance. Then just before sunrise coyotes yipping in an early morning conversation lifted me from my slumber. When they stopped there was a sweet silence that is never heard in the bustle and busyness of the city.

I fell back asleep grinning as the first morning light was illuminating a brand new day of super simple living and mettle testing on the road.

Bring it on.


  1. Wishing you safe and happy journeys!

    1. Gam,

      Thank you very much. Your support is appreciated.

  2. You are an inspiration. Woweeeeeee.

    1. T.M.,

      One thing I love about the NBA community is how we inspire each other. Linda and I derive a lot of energy from reading about the things that all of you are doing.

      The inspiration definitely goes both ways, so woweeeee back to you.

  3. What you're doing IS hard. It's very hard. When we relocated from PA to AL, we drove 2 vehicles 1168 miles with a dog and three cats in tow. It has become one of the top three most challenging things I personally have ever accomplished in my life up there with childbirth and running in a half marathon. Within the first half hour one of our cats had a meltdown and a major accident in her crate. It was not a good way to start. We stayed one night in a hotel with our dog in the room with us and left the cats in crates in the car and checked on them all through the night. The whole experience was very stressful on them and on us, but we made it. Good luck with your travels and I hope you find a new place to call home that you love.

    1. Clamco,

      I have never had a baby, or run a half marathon (or even a quarter, or one eight marathon), but I do agree that a long distance relocation is right up there in difficulty. We have been following your progress and are optimistic that we can "make it" just like your family has.

      Thank you for sending your kind words and giving us hope that we will successfully overcome adversity and rise to the challenge of establishing ourselves in a new sanctuary at the end of our 6000 kilometres journey.

  4. Anonymous6/09/2014

    It's great that you have the van, I can't imagine doing this in the truck. I don't know how you're doing this, but so impressed that you've taken the leap! My thoughts are with you both. Happy Trails!

    1. Miss Marla,

      You are so right. I am having one of those "what was I thinking?" moments, because this would have been very hard and very expensive if we did the trip in our old truck.

      The way we are doing this is by taking things one day at a time, one moment at a time. We have no schedule, so can meander and explore as we go along. We are kind of anxious to get to our new location, but also wish to keep a relaxed pace so as to enjoy the journey. It also helps a great deal to have the support of all of you here on NBA.

      Currently we are holed up at my mom's place in Nelson, BC. It is a beautiful place, and she is taking great care of us so we can leave recharged on the next leg of our journey.

    2. Anonymous6/10/2014

      To be honest I had a few "What are they thinking" moments when you were going in the truck LOL Knowing my own limitations, I just couldn't imagine how you would cope.

      It's good to have some "Mom" time, it also gives you a bit of time to let your back heal as well.

      Taking your time and enjoying the journey is what it's all about!!

  5. Hi Gregg,

    I just love your adventurous spirit, and I'm sure the journey will be amazing and worth every challenge you have to overcome.

    I left the city (Sydney, Australia) eighteen years ago, to live a simpler life in the country. I'd never heard the words tree change or downshift then, I only knew there had to be a better, more beautiful way to live.

    Whilst I only had to move about 600 kilometres it was still daunting. I didn't have a home to go to, the cat didn't enjoy the journey, and I also had to get my business up and running - all on my own! What I experienced was that people went out of there way to be helpful, my business took off like a rocket ( I did a bit of pre-trip networking and found the support amazing), and my life started to evolve into the one I dreamed of.

    Happy travels,


    1. Madeleine,

      It is so good to hear success stories from folks that have taken the road less traveled. A big risk can yield a big pay-off, and I am glad it did for you.

      Anything you can dream can be realized, and you are right that people will appear to help when you need it. I wish that all that good stuff would be in the news more often.

      Thank you for sharing your uplifting story at a time when life is evolving in new directions for Linda and I.

  6. Oops! That should have been 'their' not 'there' in the last sentence!

  7. Anonymous6/11/2014

    Every. Thing. Takes. Longer.

    Every. Thing.

    I found that to be SO true. Especially the first couple of weeks on the road. It took me a couple of weeks to get rested from the tremendous effort it had been to sell the house, car, most the furniture, and a LOT of crap and just get us on the road and living in the van.

    (And with all gains, all changes there is loss. There is grief. No matter how excited I am about something new, I am also leaving something familiar = loss. Grief and loss always catch up to me. I'm better off to acknowledge it and live it through rather than push it aside. It is powerful and it persists until I live it through.)

    During the first couple weeks, we acclimated to Every Thing. It took time to "settle in" into living on the road, figuring out how to handle restrooms needs, figure out how often we needed showers (its different on the road), get everything arranged in the van so sleeping, eating, etc was efficient. Acclimated to how to travel within my financial means which was not a fat account by any stretch of imagination. Many parts of the acclimating phase were VERY VERY HARD along with some moments of bliss and deep peace...which kept me going. I loved hearing about Linda noticing the stars and you the moon....You're there!

    I had to toss some of the stuff I thought we'd need. I had to acquire a few things at thrift stores sometimes. I had to rearrange. I had to rearrange again and again till I got it comfortable and functional. Acclimating. Adjusting.

    When I was frustrated, bewildered or felt challenged, I just said, "Every Thing Takes Longer" slowly to myself. Sometimes I sounded like a broken record but it helped me settle into the moment more patiently and allow myself more time to accomplish a task like preparing food.

    If that didn't work, I just stopped. I parked. We just hung out at the van - down time till the stress, overwhelm, and pressure flowed away. Stopped until I knew what to do next. Sometimes it took a week of "parked" before I felt ready to roll again. It afforded us some wonderful experiences as we'd sometimes find a local low key something to go see, like a historic site or something that wasn't touristy just stuff the local people enjoyed like a town park.

    History helps too. History of going through things, working it out. Obtaining experience. For me, it built confidence which reduced stress.

    It sounds like the blue bus was about the greatest treasure that could have landed in your world (as you readily found out)!

    I had my tent with us fully intended to sleep in it a lot. It didn't take me more than a few days to realize, we were sleeping in the van and I was NOT pitching the tent on this trip at all! It was not that kind of trip and I got OK with it straight away. Much relieved. Sleeping in the van eliminated some concerns. Rain and safety are less of a concern if you are sleeping in a van with a solid roof and behind doors that lock! It saved mental energy, time, and labor.

    It is hard, very hard sometimes to do what you are doing. Every Thing Takes Longer. It's a very big shift. It's worth it. Every mile was worth it. Worth the self-discovery. The resolution. The insight. The deep peace I experienced. Worth the tremendous bond with my daughter that was kindled on that trip. Worth the connection to the wild planet I call home. Best to both of you. Terri

    1. Terri,

      I can tell from your language that you have been there. So many of your descriptions are familiar to us from our previous rubber tramping, but also ring true for this trip. Probably more so for this trip.

      I feel like emptying our van completely since it was packed in what turned out to be a rush. Even though we have been planning and preparing for this for what seems like years, it still came down to a bit of a panic at the very end.

      Big challenges are tough, but they build so many skills and attitudes that are essential for successful living. You have described the situation very well and I can relate to all of your words.

      I like that you add grief and loss. Linda and I have both been very emotional since leaving. It kind of took me by surprise, but I guess it always does. As you say, best to acknowledge it, work it through, and carry on.

      Your van time with your daughter sounds awesome. How nice that you had the chance to spend such a time together. I am looking forward to resuming our trip, and we hope to head out again in a few days. Adventure awaits.

      It truly is a wonderful, amazing planet teeming with caring, loving people… for the most part.

    2. Anonymous6/18/2014

      You got me laughing! Yes, you know when you are talking to someone who has been there. You and Linda are old pros at this.

      I remember some van-emptying episodes! Obviously, your trip as journal-ed on your blog is bringing back a lot of memories for me. Thank you. I enjoy exchanging conversation because I don't know any people who've done this sort of thing before.

      It is also causing me to think, "Why did I ever bring all this crap back into my life after I purged nearly all of it back in 1992?" Your words at the end of "Crap" are ringing in my ears, "DO NOT bring any more into your crap-free sanctuary." I think I got it now!

      I have a feeling you'll know when the time is right to resume.

      You have a slew of wonderful, caring, loving smart people here on your blog. All are teaching me things.

    3. Terri,

      All you wonderful people have been a major source of inspiration, understanding, and support.

      Thank you, Terri, and all you other awesome commenters.

  8. Dears Linda and Gregg: i just found that you are in a cross-Canada quest, and i wonder if you have heard about the transition movement that is growing in babies steps all around the word including Canada (see http://www.transitionnetwork.org/) in cities and in villages like Surrey (https://www.transitionnetwork.org/initiatives/village-surrey-transition-initiative). I know that you love the wild, but, as we are aging, i think that we need each day a little bit more of community support, the same way we nead to give it back too: we all can be grand parents of a lot of children that dont really have them, for example. Have an excelente trip,


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