We got to Canada Tuesday afternoon, honestly didn’t start out great.
To begin our experience the lady at the border was not very nice to us. She didn’t believe we would leave and go back to the United States, that there was no evidence we would leave. Since we could live in our car I believe she assumed we would want to stay the beloved country of Canada and not go back to the dreaded states. I’m not assuming all Canadians hate the U.S.... but some might.
Us not being in school, not having jobs and still living with our parents also did not help the situation. You wanna know what convinced her, Kember saying we plan to be in Seattle for Halloween... Us saying we are going to a party and dressing up really got her¿ So we were free to enter.
We planned to hang around Vancouver for the day going to art museums, parks and whatever we could find. This is where I discovered I don’t like Canada...
We found out the hard way you cannot park anywhere in the city. Like absolutely nowhere on the streets from 3pm-6pm some not even until 8. That was very annoying I must say.
We ditched the museum idea for now and headed to the big Stanley Park. Get this! You have to pay for parking there!! Like what? It’s a park. Good job Canada, really great job on convincing people to not get up and walk around the park... I was very mad at this point. I mean obviously Kember and I parked and just hung around the car so we didn’t have to pay.
This may look bad, but we don’t have enough money in our pockets to pay for a parking spot everywhere we go.
We left the park before 6 to snag the hot parking spots downtown. We realized we had fallen into a predicament, we had no change for the parking meters. Totally forgot Canada had dollar coins! Such a great country now that I realized that. Went into a Subway and asked for change, she didn’t even make me buy something!! Such a nice lady.
This is where Canada started being good to us, kinda. Well just wait, after this next part, then she’s good to us.
We were debating on parking in a parking garage so we wouldn’t have to keep filling the meter. Although as we drove down into this lovely garage. The top of our car hit the roof. That was definitely a fun experience. Having to back up a steep him ripping up the pipes from the ceiling. Thankfully we only had a few spectators. Anyway we got out of there and realized we were forced to park on the street.
All parked and paid for, we were off to the museum. I really didn’t want to pay 24 bucks each to walk around and see art. But get this!!! Tuesday is “suggested donation” of course we asked the man behind the desk if we had to give any money and he said yes because 0 isn’t a donation. We gave 50 cents each. I know tell me about it. So generous. Honestly this was the worst museum I have ever been to, Kember agreed. The whole first floor was like royalty fashion, I know guys… My favorite!!! Shockingly enough that actually was not the highlight of this not so great museum.
They had one cool room that was a huge stereo system build out of wood. That anyone could come and play their own records and just chill there. We were about to leave unsatisfied until I discovered this hidden gem. So glad I did otherwise that dollar I spent went to waste!! We hung out in there for a bit and headed out back onto the streets.
We landed at this very cool bar restaurant, watched the baseball game there which was as pretty fun. Haven’t watched tv in a month, kinda just got used to it. Never really watched tv in general, would sometimes binge watch NCIS for a day every now and then. Back to present day I won’t spoil the end of the game for anyone who went to bed before the ending...
Anyway, hung out there for awhile. Then we walked around for a bit after that.
Ever since then Canada has been pretty good to us. We are now on a hike, I’m sitting in a gazebo writing in my notes app. I will go now to finish this beautiful hike thought this forest and I’ll pick back up when we are in the car heading to take a ferry.
We stopped to check out this clock that blows out steam or something like that every 15 minutes... fascinating. We were in this very sketchy town, was not a big fan of it at all. I had my army backpack on so everyone was obviously scared of me because of that.
I’ll maybe write another one on just this little town. This was just to be a quick update¿
Soo yeah... we are in Canada now. Definitely not as great as I thought it would be. I’ve been to Canada a few times now and it has all been east. All those experiences have been great, then again, I wasn’t living in a small van in those days. Aah the good ol’ days:)
Anyway hope you are having a good day! I’ve seen a lot of people who have been doing drugs on the street today. So message of the day is “hugs not drugs.
Kember and I have a serious problem when it comes to buying stuff at thrift stores... I know I talked about consumerism and minimalism a few days ago but damn it's hard. I mean for me I usually don't end up buying something for myself because I don't want to spend money... I think its funny how much value we put onto a piece of paper or a coin.
I have been saving up money since at least the age of 12 when I had my first job. Honestly I have had several "jobs" since then. If you have ever met my mom I am sure she has had to of mentioned me being a mason, painter, working for my dad and her, you name it... I have probably done at one time or another. If you haven't heard these lovely stories of little Greta and her thinking physical labor is fun (definitely not anymore as much) ask any of my family members about it.
So I have had all these job yet something about spending money isn't easy for me, never has been. Even as a kid I believe, of course I asked for things, you know your basic kid who asks Mom and Dad for everything. Although I feel I grew out of that phase pretty early, I never felt this object in my hand was worth the price tag on it . I am not sure how I got onto this topic but I went with it.
I have a deeper meaning in my head of why I do this but I feel it is better if I keep my deepest thoughts off this blog, at least for now.
Back to Kember and I buying stuff, we have gotten a lot of books since we left, well actually I have bought one... We were at a thrift store in a town in Washington called Leavenworth. It felt like fairytale as we walked the streets, the whole town is German themed and I mean they go ALL out. All the buildings and founts have that classic German feel to it. Thor, Kember and I both agreed you would love it here, German night every night! (Insert unnecessary facts about my family here). You're welcome in advance.... My dad enjoys doing this thing where he invites his friends over and makes a German themed dinner. It is a good idea no doubt, although I think he could work a little hard on it. I suggest getting dressed up... Dad I think you look exceptional in some good ol' lederhosen. This little town can do it why can't we? I think we can bring all this fun back home to Fairfield.
This town did feel very weird, that people actually live there full time... We wondered if you get trapped in a fairytale, that when you go absolutely anywhere else in this world (besides real Germany) it is nothing close to that lifestyle or look. I mean for god sake the McDonalds and Starbucks were all decked out, I bet they both sold German sausages and a whole bunch of beer. Sadly we did not check them out, we ended up getting some lunch at what seemed like the hotspot of the town. It's Octoberfest so it was very crowded although I have this feeling it's kinda that way year round. So we stopped at this place for lunch and we were more than pleased I have to admit the pretzel we had, was nothing close to the real deal in Germany. We also didn't have any Haribo gummy bears but I would assume they probably wouldn't be as great as the ones from a vending machine in the German train station. Classic family memories!
Now that you guys know everything about this lovely town we were in and what we did, I can get back to this book I bought.
It is called The Impossibles Lives of Greta Wells I mean come on! How could I not buy this book for a buck, well a dollar and a few cents thanks to tax, but you get the point! My name is on the cover, it was the first book I saw as I stood in front of a whole wall. I mean it has to be meant to be. Anyway I bought the book and have yet to read more than 3 pages but we will see how it goes. Hopefully myself in the book lives up to my expectations.
I told Kember after I finish reading the book I would glue all the pages together so no one could read it... Then it really is the IMPOSSIBLE lives of Greta. HA I know hilarious.
Well I guess that is what I wanted to write about while I sit in Seattle at a friends house. The last day and a half here have been pretty great. We have a lot planned for the next few weeks and I can't help but be giddy about all of it. I forget on a daily basis that all my friends are off at school actually doing work, yet here I sit getting to travel and see things I have never got to experience before. Plus I have all the time in the world to do the two things I love most, read and write.
So not a very deep in thought blog post today, just catching you up on what we have been up to. I hope you are having a great day. My message for today is: Go out there and tell your Mom you love her:)
I have been reading this book my teacher gave me called Man's Search for Meaning, By Viktor Frankl. She gave it to me before I left for this road trip, I like to believe as a parting gift. I feel like I can’t continue my point of this story without mentioning how important of a role this teacher has been in my life. That I had her for the last 2 years of my high school English career. I say career because at times I felt like I had a job, quite an easy job honestly, it was to simply absorb myself in as many books possible.
Ever since 7th grade I would go back and forth with loving books and reading a book or two a week to not reading for months. Junior year my English teacher Mrs. Seltenreich created a challenge for us. We all got an index card that was posted to the wall andas we finished a book we would write the title on it. I filled up two, after a while I admit I stopped writing on the cards... Didn't want to show off ya know. Kidding, I wish I wrote down more of the books I have read over the years. At least just to keep track of them. I believe I read 26 books from the day she handed me the card (around January) to the end of the school year.
She gave me this motivation to read as much as possible. I mean she did say the person with the most books would “get a prize” at the end of the year. Which never happened, so Mrs. Seltenreich I’m looking for my prize. No I honestly think I will take all you have taught me about English and life in general, this book and the relationship we have over any prize. That I will take my relationship with all the teachers I got close with over anything. How could you not be motivated and inspired by all the people in the world that go to work everyday to better and educate the future. That everything they do is to help a child. I can never look past that, teachers go out of their way constantly to help a child grow, to be their own person, to create their own path.
I could go on a rant about the teachers I have met over the years but I will cut myself short here.
I wanted to talk to you about this book I am reading, how powerful it has been. There is this quote on page 77 of the book; I believe I will never forget the page number or the words written on it for the rest of my life.
“That it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”
These words stuck with me and continue to make me think, what this world expects from me. Who my life wants me to be, as if it is a puzzle or a maze. Not that you have to only pick the correct doors, that you aren’t allowed to make mistakes. I don’t believe that’s the point of the quote. That everything you are doing right now or that you will do in the future, it is getting you to the end person you will be. Each day and each step you take is getting you to be the person you are. I have said this before that the only thing that matters is: who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow. Those are words I continue to think about and live by, I am not sure when they popped into my head but I’m glad they did.
This book continues to question my thoughts, to challenge me. I have always been one to accept a challenge and see it through to the end. I have yet to finish this book and I have never been one to take my time with books, although this one is different. I mean the title says it all, a search for meaning. This is something I have tried so hard to find in my life. To find what I am passionate about, what and who brings meaning to my life. This book is about a man's challenges and struggles throughout his World War II concentration camp experiences. It is a book that is full of pain yet all throughout it talks about accepting one's fate. It is a tough one to explain, I tired to explain this quote to my sister but I failed to find the correct words of how I felt, that is the case now as well. That these authors words will affect everyone differently, but with each page I turn I feel I see a new light, a new perspective on all around me.
That millions of people have or have had it worse, that some problems are not as big as they seem. I need to slow down and take it one step at a time. To live in the moment, to accept what is ahead of me, not turn my back and avoid confrontation. Face everything, to stop expecting something from life, that in reality it is life that is expecting something from me.
So what is life expecting from me? I am not sure yet, I am okay with that unknown for right now. That it may never be an a question I could fully answer, just something I could work towards each and everyday. Maybe these words I wrote or the quote by Frankl, will make you think about your own life for a moment in time. So I ask: What is life expecting from you?
*Disclaimer: So I wrote this awhile ago but haven't been able to post it... Currently in Washington right now. Our one month on the road is tomorrow/right now because its after midnight. All these moments honestly feel like so long ago yet it has just been a few days. Anyway enjoy the story just remember Not Yesterday!
We got our belts changed yesterday, I’m sitting in the auto shop writing this. It’s kinda like the perfect expectation of an auto shop you see in a movie or something like that. I’m not talking about the cleanest and nicest equipment, but stuff everywhere. Wood paneling on the walls, dirt everywhere and there seems to be mysterious markings all over the walls that have been collecting over the years. I will of course explain what is all spread across the floor: wheel rims along with engines, one of those yellow buckets on wheels to mop the floor, boxes all over the place as well as a bunch of other car parts I have no idea the name or use of.
If my writing doesn’t do this place justice I will insert a photo for y’all.
I hope this image explains the situation we were in... The guys who work here have been so incredibly nice to us. That we are two girls living in a 1989 Volkswagen and don’t have much knowledge about cars under our belts. I mean I can figure it out, where the gas goes… that’s the most important right? I know a bit about what’s under the hood of a car but not much. So these guys could easily take advantage of that situation, tell us stuff we need to get replaced or use big fancy car terms. Yet so far they haven’t.
I wrote that part yesterday while I sat in the auto shop like I said. Today we are waiting for them to change our coolant hoses. As we were waiting we decided to head over to the “downtown” which is just a bunch of big store chains. We chilled in a nice coffee shop for a few hours and headed across the busy 4 lane road that ran through this area to get some lunch. It was nice to have a chill day, spending hours reading and writing and just talking with Kember.
After a full stomach of delicious Japanese food we headed to the good ol trusted Walmart to hangout in because we had another hour and half to kill before seeing our mothership Vandy. Kember is very excited for Halloween (we are are going to be aliens). I use “we” very and I mean very lightly. That she is going to dress up, I’ll explain that in a minute, while I dislike Halloween and dressing up. The last few years I have worn orange and black clothes and call it a night.
I assume all of you want to know how insane I was when we got Kember’s costume. Do not worry, I will explain every tiny detail of the story…
We were at a thrift store called Deseret Industry, it’s every thrift store on crack basically. They are everywhere in Utah and honestly seem like a regular store like Marshall’s although everything is cheap! Gotta love a good bargain. Anyway while we were in one of these stores Kember had their alien costume in mind and she happened to find absolutely everything she needed. I mean everything: a white space looking dress, a pink wig, a belt to add to the effect, even all white high boots! Like was not expecting that! Cross halloween costume off the check list and call it a night!!
Aren't you guys glad you know about this Halloween idea, I know now your lives are complete knowing these great details in my life, just wait it gets better... Back to while we waited for the car we spent several minutes going back and forth of what makeup would go perfect with the outfit. Truth be told, I know nothing about makeup, never wear it, so I got tired and sat on the ground of this Walmart while she continued to pick. I of course helped to make the final decisions on what looked best but that’s really it.
I’ll skip ahead a little bit, we got the car back around 4:30, said goodbye to our new buddies at Metric Motors and headed for Idaho. We spent a night at a truck stop because we decided to just drive and put a few miles behind us. We would have driven further but they guys we just met were persistent on being careful about that.
We got up early this morning, Kember offered to let me sleep while she drove for about an hour. I was very excited about this, I had a horrible nights sleep, I guess I had a lot on my mind kid.
Just like in Pennsylvania we had a problem with our throttle. I’ll skip all the details but we were pulled over on the side of the highway, with 18-wheelers and cars speeding past at 80mph. No joke that’s the speed limit here! I am used to 55 back home and Vandy barely being able to break 60.
I would like to use this time to apologize to my mom. I didn’t technically lie to you. We were safe I did mean that, the car was fine, just a little bit not working. Didn’t want you to worry.
I called our buddies back in Utah to let them know Mechanic Greta was up and running! Gretas Auto Shop is open for business so book your appointments now! I’ll already totally booked up until 2020. I must say, I take full credit of fixing the car and that made my day so far. 1. That the car is fixed and we can drive again. 2. That I actually did something!! Mom aren’t you proud?
It has been fun to figure things out as we go, this trip is not only a bonding moment with my sister, a chance to see the country we live in, a time to learn about myself, most recently it has been also a time to learn about this old car we drive and all her little problems.
So that’s my quick update, we are passing through Idaho now and headed straight to Oregon. My love for Idaho has definitely decreased a bit, I have yet to have potatoes, it has smelled like cows (I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one… gotta keep it PG) since the second we entered the state and then we break down. Getting some bad vibes. I have faith she will turn it around soon and make me fall in love very shortly. I’ll keep you updated don’t worry:)
Have a great day! Go out there and learn about something new. Something you never thought you’d need or never thought you’d be interested in. You never know it might become a new passion of yours. It never hurts to learn something right?
A good friend of mine says “the more you know, the less you have to learn.” That’s something I’ll never forget, I guess it's time to know more!
I have always been intrigued by minimalism and life on the road. I have lost count of the articles I have read or documentaries I have seen about these topics. That each and everyones experience with minimalism or living on the road are so different. You don't have to live on the road to be a minimalist, although I believe you have to be a minimalist to live on the road and travel. I think those go hand in hand.
That living in a small space is challenging but I have always wanted a challenge, I have searched for something like this. I think in some aspects I am a minimalist, that I only buy things I know I need, or that I basically wear the same 15 outfits just in a cycle. That I could get rid of the majority of my closet because I don’t wear half the stuff in it anyway. Although I feel like that’s the case for everyone on this planet… We have more stuff than we know what to do with. We fill our homes with “stuff” or “junk” when our basements or attics are full we get storage units to hold more of these unnecessary items. That so much in our lives we are surrounded by each and every day have no value to us. Weeks, months, years can go by without even acknowledging half of the items we own. Honestly I believe we easily forget the things we own, especially when it comes to clothes. (Sorry to call you out Mom…) I have seen my Mom purchase the same looking shoes dozens of times because she will say “Oh I don’t have a pair that look like this.” While if you look in her closest or the bin of shoes in our basement you could easily say otherwise.
When I go shopping with friends I am always so lost in these stores: Forever 21, H&M, Brandy Melville, Urban Outfitters, these are all popular stores for teens and young adults and the best at getting people to buy and buy. I do this to, that every thrift store I am at I always find myself leaving with another t-shirt or hoodie, for anyone who knows me, I could wear a different hoodie everyday for at least a month. So I am a victim of this consumerism as well. I am not looking down at people and being like “how can you be so blind” or sh*t like that. It’s the world we live it, companies and magazines are very smart. They know how to sell, know how to keep switching the trends to make you feel the need to buy more. We live in a “I need” kind of world.
Anyway my point in all of this is I want to live a life where I only have the bare minimum. I believe it could feel so freeing, to only have things that we care about. It’s a funny thing, that at times I really do believe I could get rid of all the crap in my room. But it’s the sentimental value we attach ourselves to everything. That I have so many memories on a magnet board for instance, I have a receipt from McDonalds order 222 that my friend Justin gave me. I wasn’t even with him when he got this order, but he knows that it is my favorite number. That in the moment he kept it and gave it to me because he knew I would smile at it. He probably did not think I would keep it… because let's be real who hangs a McDonald's receipt in their room? I guess I am that 1 out of 7 billion who would. I have a very strong passionate love for the golden arches. I have this crazy built up sentiment for this piece of paper that millions of people would just throw out. Me saying this proves the challenges with being a minimalist. Although I don’t think there has to be strict rules to consider yourself as one.
That if you only keep the things that bring you joy or have a meaning in your life, I feel it could make us all happier in general. That the amount of unused items in our lives bring an unneeded stress.
I am not telling you all to go throw out all your shoes or all the boxes in your basement. Maybe just take a moment and look around your room, think of all the things you use and all the stuff you don’t. I constantly keep my room clean and if I see I haven’t used something or if I can see myself detaching from it. I simply throw it away and don’t look back.
This whole idea of living on the road keeps me on my toes and keeps me engaged. It is like a constant rush of adrenaline, that this home on wheels is your everything. It is a hard thing to understand but this small yet steadily increasing community gets it. They understand how when you are away from this small home of yours for too long you miss it. That everything in this metal vehicle is important to you. That is the life I want to live, and yes maybe I won’t be living in a van forever;I hope when I am older that everything found inside 4 walls of a home, are important to me. I don’t want to fill my house with stuff I forget about in weeks passing.
Maybe this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, that maybe it is just me wanting to be different but I think it’s more than that. That it is me searching for a more simpler life, one without all this stress. Stress that consumerism brings on all of us.
These are my thoughts at midnight as I laying parked at a truck stop still in Utah. I know this won’t change your lifestyle, I mean how could it? But maybe it will make you think about this world we live in. That we live to buy.
A friend asked me the other day, "where do you see us/yourself/me in 5 years?"
Has anyone asked you this question before? No has for me, it honestly sent chills down my back. I have always struggled with looking into the future, I can't really see anything. It is all just blurry to me. I have no clue where I will be in 5 years, who my friends will be, what job I will have. One thing I am almost sure about is the type of person I will be; I will continue to care about everyone around me, want to give as much as I have and continue to grow to be the best person I could be.
But how can I predict where we will be? I can have an educated guess of what you will be up to when you are 24 years old. Yet who knows, I can't predict someone else's future anymore than anyone can predict mine. I wanted to answer this question so badly for my friend but I just couldn’t. That maybe as you grow older it is easier to predict your future. That you will more or less be doing the same thing, that your goals will be to get that promotion or buy that car you have always wanted. But at age 18 your life is changing so much that how could anyone know where they will be in the next 5 years. They can assume they will have a college degree and just find the first job they can after college. That’s really it.
I hope one day I will be better at looking at my future, that I have an answer for someone who asks me. Maybe I do have that answer already, but I am too afraid to share it. What if I fall short? What would I look like then? If I tell someone my dreams for myself in 5 years and they don’t come true then what?
A lot of the time when I write I have no plan, I use writing as a break from my mind. I write or type words onto a page and give my mind sometime to look over them, to understand all that is running through my head. All my words have meaning to me, that every word I write is helping me solve a puzzle in my own head. So as I write and as you read these words, we are figuring out everything together basically.
I do have dreams of what I want to be and what I want to study. That I know what I am good at or what I am passionate about. These things are simply helping others, I love being around kids and teaching, I love to study english and psychology. Yes I have goals for myself in the future, that I know what I want and who I want to be. Although I continue to struggle with looking into the future. I see myself with a lot of the people I am with now, that I will continue to love a lot of them and want to do anything I can to make them smile. That part of me won't change in the next 5 years. I hope that I will continue you to see the positive things, continue surrounding myself with people that push me to be better and that make me happier.
Ever since my friend asked me where I see us/yourself/myself in 5 years I have been thinking nonstop about it. I am pushing myself to think about things. Yes it is very vague and I just have a few pinpoints put together but for me that's a start. A week ago I never thought about it before, about the future, but now I think I have made great progress.
I wonder if the person asking the question affects your answer. That if my mom asked me this question, someone I know who will always be in my life what my answer would be like. That this person who asked me, very well might not be in my life in 5 years or even the next year. So I wonder if that changed my answer to the question…
I guess now in 5 years I will have to look back on this blog I started and read about it. I basically put no exact points of where I will be in 5 years because like I said I have no idea, but it would be funny to see what my thoughts were when I was 17 as I look back as 22 year old. So to my future self, I hope all is well in your life. I hope you figured out who the important people are and stuck with them. Are you happy with whatever it is you are doing? Did you achieve my goals, to help people in anyway that you can? Whether you are studying psychology, english, teaching kids or a job I never predicted... I know you are doing the right thing for you, for me, for us. That the person you are right now is someone I am going to be proud to be, someone I worked hard on becoming.
I think I have an idea of how I want to run this blog, that I will use it to post small updates here and there of what were are doing and what we have seen. I know I will have to create a schedule for myself, what days I post about what etc. hopefully I can stick with it...
Anyway we are in Salt Lake city right now. Ever since the cold Colorado our lovely Vandy has been making some ear bleeding noises every time we start her. Kinda makes it challenging to sneak out of a campsite at 6 in the morning. Vandy needs some extra time to warm up, so about 3 minutes after this horrendous sound has been squealing nonstop she starts to purr again. We decided enough was enough this afternoon after we hung out in a little cafe down town. We headed to a little auto shop here in Salt Lake to see if they can help us hush Vandy.
Going into it, I assumed it was an issue with the belts, although this made no sense to me seeing how we just got them replaced before we left. A silly error with wrong belt size in Fairfield caused these little issues. With a 1989 Vanagon you kinda have to go into every mechanic shop knowing they will list 7-10 things you should get fixed in the near future. Otherwise you will be stuck on the side of the road, or burst into the flames. When they say these things like that, yea it can be scary but I tend to brush it over the shoulder and be an optimist. Maybe one day that will blow up in my face, fingers crossed am I right!!!
Anyway, now we have to chill in Salt Lake for another day and hope they can fix the problems in just one day so we can be off to Seattle by Sunday. That is about 840 miles and about a 3 day travel for us. I was told I need to eat potatoes in Idaho so I am looking forward to that!!! Although our local five guys gets their potatoes from Idaho (ya know when you walk in and their is that sign posted up stating where the potatoes are from that day), so honestly, might not be that amuses while I am their. Who knows though? I don’t! It’s funny because I have talked about wanting to move to Idaho for years now, well I tell my Dad this a lot. He asks why every time and I say “For the potatoes of course” or something along these lines… I honestly don’t remember. Hopefully this image I have of the glorious Idaho matches up to the real deal. Otherwise I think I will be heart broken.
Wow I just realized how easy it is for me to get on tangents of random nonsense. I was about to write that I would love to be back in the hot springs we chilled in but I guess I started to talk about my random love for Idaho instead…
Soooo about this hot springs!!! We finally went to one! We have looked several up and planned to go but always chicken out. In Colorado we started a hike to one but we soon realized that this would be a very long hike. Spoiler Alert: we turned back around and never saw the hot springs. Anyway we drive out to this one and it is literally in the middle of a field. I figured it would take a hike to get to but boy was I wrong. The little dirt road goes straight up to it. It was a chilly day so the walk there was rough but walking back all wet to the car was even worse. We spent at least an hour in the hot springs and a man started talking to us, he’s from San Diego, not that anyone asked, that’s just the first thing I could remember about him. He was a very funny guy and said to call our dad everyday. That his daughter is also a traveler and he gets so nervous about her. We had a great conversation with him and he gave us a lot of recommendations, he even gave us his card (he builds longboards), saying if anything goes wrong we will always have a friends in California. I know you shouldn’t trust strangers and we haven’t really. But we are smart kids we know what information not to give out to people and how to stay safe.
I think you have to see the best in people at times, that if we went this whole trip not talking to anyone, we would learn very little and we wouldn’t grow as much as an individual. Both my sister and I want to see more and meet new people. That every now and then you have to step outside of your comfort zone and just say hey to someone. Like in Trader Joes here in Utah (we were on the hunt for stocking up on dried mango), a guy with his wife and 2 kids (under age 5 a assumes) asked us if we were the ones living in the van. Asking if we were living in it long term/ where we were going. He said they were fellow van livers and go for a few months at a time. I could honestly list dozens of times that people have come up to us talking about a Westfalia they used to have or just living on the road in general. That each person that comes up to us shares the same love and passion for traveling as we do. That it is the new American dream. So maybe this is the new dream, no more white picket fences, and more of homes on wheels, never being stuck in one place forever.
Anyway to loop back to the beginning of this post, the van is hopefully getting fixed tomorrow, nothing major just a few belts and hoses that are being replaced. A big thanks to my Dad for picking up the phone every time we call and saying "What's wrong, you break down?" I am sorry father, I will call you soon with no problems, just me wanting to say hey to my old man.
It has been 22 days since we left for this trip, we kinda just fall into a routine now, way different from your average nightly routine when you live in a house or in a dorm. To me it seems more simple and easy living, but from an outsiders view I can understand that it can seem very complex. That there is no absolute, which I admit I have craved in my life, I have always needed to find an answer. But since we left I have fallen in love with living in the grey area.
I am an indecisive, go with the flow, anything is fine by me type of person. I have lived for doing spontaneous things, or I guess you could say, never having a plan. So a lot of me lives in the grey area in my day to day life, although not all of me. As I travel the states in a van having a plan but also at the same time no plan at all. I am working on becoming okay with living in the grey area with other places in my life. To become more okay with not finding an answer. Sometimes there's just no answer.
I guess part of me wants to find the answers but not be limited by them, that college is not the only answer, that there is always an open ended option. We all don't fit into a box or a multiple letter choice answer, there is so much more than what people have the option of. We limit ourselves without really knowing, society has controlled us and made us unaware of all of the potential each and everyone of us holds.
Last night as I was going to bed I had a thought to myself, this whole time while on this trip I have been so connected to my friends at school. They can all text me, call me, snapchat me, Instagram, Facebook... so on and so forth. So I sat there wondering what am I doing? I love hearing about what my friends are up to; all their studying they have to get done, or that sick party they were just at. I even love seeing all the selfies my parents took while they were away in Italy. So don't me wrong I want to hear about you guys but it seems to make this trip less exciting. That I never actually left.
The point of being away from someone and reconnecting is you start to appreciate the time you have together, you hold it that much closer to your heart. So if I don't answer your calls or texts or I don't respond to that cute snapchat selfie you just sent me I am sorry. I am out here trying to live my best self and see as much as I can around me.
It is a hard thing to balance, not wanting to miss out on what your friends are doing. Although the way I see it; if you spend all your time listening to what your friends have experienced, you miss all that is before you, all that you could have been experiencing. I think we all face these challenges in our lives one time or another. That yes you missing a semester of college or taking that job over the summer, may cause you to miss some moments with your friends. But you will be getting the experience, you will be the one with more ahead of you, the one taking an opportunity and not looking back. So I say go for it.
Maybe I am naive, that I don't understand college life because I have never been but I think we all put an image on college that makes no sense. College is 4 years of your life... That is such a tiny fraction of all the years you live. I honestly believe the whole idea of college will never make sense to me...
All 17/18 year olds are spending hours on hours to prove to a college why they should be picked. But how many hours do colleges spend to prove to kids they are the college for them? Surely not enough I'd say. I think this process is all backwards. That colleges look for the kids who are "fit for their campus." Why does every place have make people fit into a checklist. It’s funny because I suppose college is a grey area for a moment, at least when you are applying and not sure if you will be accepted or not. Or kids who are undecided majors, not sure what they want to do with their lives. We force those unbalanced and unsure thoughts away, forcing kids to believe they must pick a major and stick with it for good.
Writing about this stuff I can’t help but laugh, I see a lot of problems and challenges that don't make sense to me. I don’t mean to write about these things as if I know the answers to everything. I don't, and I definitely don't have a key in my back pocket that will turn this world into something perfect. A world with no hunger, poverty, discrimination and so much more I wish I could fix. I only write what I see, what I believe. My intentions are not to stereotype but to express my feelings.
I am just one person, one kid from Fairfield Connecticut, so what do I know? Honestly not a lot, and I am okay with that. But I want to learn more and that's all that matters to me. I am willing to put in the time and effort to learn more. One step at a time, some steps are planned out while some are eyes closed and hope for the best. There are no absolutes in life, I am learning that maybe the hard way or maybe just the normal way like everyone else.
I apologize for not having posted in a while. I have been in Colorado and now Utah. There is honestly a lot to catch you up on. We have done a lot, traveled a lot of miles, seen a lot of this country. That Utah might be my new favorite place we have seen so far. I must say, I dislike picking favorites. Simply because with every new adventure, it seems like the best. I guess that’s a good problem to have, that I am constantly seeing new places and having to choose from... The city of Chicago, corn fields in Minnesota, Badlands in South Dakota, snow in Colorado and so much more. Our new favorite addition is the Canyonlands in Utah. I know haha I laughed at the name at first as well. And get this, we camped at Hamburger Rock the second night there. Canyonlands sounds a lot like Candyland, but trust me everything’s not made out of candy. Learned that one the hard way...
Honestly the best part of Utah has been the sun. It’s been great to finally have a short sleeve on. I am used to being bundled up in 5 layers and not being able to see my skin for 3 days straight because of that. One thing about living in a van you have to get used to is either not being able to change or just changing wherever you are. After awhile you feel kinda gross wearing the same outfit for 3 days.
I hope you hearing about me not changing and showering everyday changes your views on me¿ Well I guess I wouldn’t care that much if it did anyway. That yes living in a van is hard and gross and a struggle and a half when you are a clean freak and your fellow traveler isn’t. But it’s a learning experience. It’s an adventure. My sister and I test each other’s limits. We are sister, we “are bound to fight” and I can’t lie we aren't perfect saints or that we never get on each other’s nerves. I push her buttons, and she pushes mine. But at the end of the day when you live in a van you just have to figure it out. Maybe with life in general... You just have to figure it out.
Here is a quick update on what we have been up today.
Colorado was cold and not what we hoped for. It’s kinda frustrating to be honest. We traveled halfway across the country to see someone but our plans just fell through. That we expected so much to come out of this visit, maybe too much I guess. We got over it pretty quickly but we’re still frustrated the whole time there. Part of it was due to the snow. It was way too cold so we headed out of there as fast at possible. We did enjoy a lot of Colorado though, we made fires almost every night we were there. I brought out the axe and cut down a couple trees. I'd like to think my father and grandfather would be very proud of me. Fun fact for you folks: I got an axe for Christmas one year from my grandfather... Best Christmas gift I'd say!! Anyway enough about axes and that nonsense, onto where we are now.
Like I said before we found ourselves at the beautiful Canyonlands National Park Thursday afternoon. We have been pretty naive when it comes to camping, we have 0 plans of where we are spending the night... Just roll up and hope the campsites not full. 9/10 times the campsite is full, it's always f#cking full... A little trick up our sleeves is that handicap spots are reserved until 8. So after 8 anyone can have them. We just post up in them, assuming no handicap persons will show up.
Our first day we decided to go on a very long hike, we got lost 2 miles in but thankfully 2 women enjoying their hike saved us without even knowing. So back on the path we spent the rest of the day laughing and enjoying ourselves. All this fun came to an end the second my army hat fell off my backpack. I realized this tragic event happened hours later back at camp. To be honest, I was not a happy camper. I checked with lost and found the next morning. And get this!!! No they didn’t have it... sorry to get your hopes up, it’s even worse. They wouldn’t file a missing/lost report on it because it’s under the price of 75 dollars. I was livid. Honestly I think my blood was boiling at this point. This sweet looking old lady had an attitude I was not expecting. I honestly took offense, her assuming my hat wasn’t worth 75 bucks. I mean yeah I got it for $3 at a Salvation Army in Maine but she didn’t know that. Anyway sorry for my rant, I could honestly go on for a lot longer. I miss my hat, I wore it everyday since I can remember. Feel free to send some support my way, I plan to buy several more hats. Although they will never be the same. Maybe just maybe they can help fill the gaping hole in my broken heart
Another thing I plan to do is buy a patch from every state. I was on the hunt for the perfect jacket and I’m Colorado I found it!! It was a 6 dollar hidden gem. She’s a tan Carhartt and I have been in love since the second I laid my eyes on her.
If you guys don’t care about my hat or new jacket, I apologize but I guess I am very passionate about certain clothes items in my life¿
Tonight marks our 3 week anniversary of starting this trip. We made some soup, had some cheese and crackers and enjoyed it by a river bend in Utah. We of course found ourselves in the same predicament as before. Full campsites. We are parked in front of a sign stating “Day access only. No camping.” Hopefully no one bothers us, if they do I’m sure my moms talents with these kinds of situations will kick in. So thanks mom:)
Anyway I’m going to go now and enjoy this beautiful moment with my sister. Hope all is well. I miss my dogs, cats and I guess the humans that are in my family as well.
Note to my editor... I hope I didn't make too many mistakes in this one buddy. I got tired half way through of rereading it, plus we are trying to get on the road to Seattle. Love ya bud thank you for your minimal editing.
I know, isn't that title just so funny!!! I thought so as well. I am sitting in this cafe called Mutiny Information Cafe, Kem and I thought that would be a great cult name. It's Day 3 in ColoRADo so I think I will back trek and tell you about what we have been up to!
As you guys know the first night here we slept in a Walmart parking lot, my bud of course sent me this lovely video that I will never forget. Lets just say I never want to sleep in a Walmart parking lot again. I will leave out the details of the video I was so told to watch. Trust me, you don't want to hear about it.
So as we got to Colorado we were faced with the big city just like in Chicago, at this point I am used to cows and corn fields for miles not much else. So all of a sudden driving on a 5 lane highway with cars all around us, it was a bit of a shocker. We found our way to a cute part of the city and hopped out to take a walk. We found ourselves a nice Mexican restaurant to enjoy a real meal for once. We of course had to stop at Trader Joes, it might be our last one for awhile so we had to make it last. Kember said to me as we left... "When I grow up I want to work at Trader Joes." Which may sound weird but the one we went to seemed like so much fun! They were playing great music (hence we were there at like 9:20 pm and they close at 10 pm) so I think around 9 they turn on the club music and it turns into a secret party hang out.
Something I love that we have been doing since we started this trip that every person we see on the side of the road, holding a homeless or hungry sign as we are driving by. I jump out of the car, praying to god that light doesn't turn green so I can give them an apple or a banana. I really hope we continue to do that. Something about seeing the smile on their face and their appreciation is amazing. We were on the way to the botanical gardens when we saw a man on the side of the road. I ran out and handed him an apple and he was just so thankful. I feel like I got more joy out of the act than he did to be honest. The light of course turned green as I ran back to the car so that was an adventure, trying to jump in a moving car and slide the back door shut. I figured it out don't worry.
In the botanical gardens Kember and I had several laughs. Kember said that I just keep getting funnier and funnier so I definitely keep her amused. I know you guys were worried about that, what if I run out of jokes!?! Trust me it will never happen! For example in this lovely garden they had a walk way called "Birds & Bees walk" I of course commented on this. Like who runs this place... why couldn't they just call it Bees & and Birds walk" for god sake... I don't know I could retell all of the jokes but it seems more special to keep them between my sister and I. That her and I will be he only ones in the world who shared those laughs together.
I am currently in a state that my brother would love and I so wish he was here with us right now. Dane if you are reading this... Honestly have no idea if you do, if not I am very offended. Anyway, we are thinking about you no doubt about that. We will definitely have to be back here one day and do some good ol' sibling bonding together;) love ya kid. Please continue to send videos of the dogs bugging you all the time!!
There is so much I could write about right now, like my night last night, we met up with the family we met in Yellowstone. It was fun to see the again, they even treated us to dinner. The rest of the night I think it is better of if I keep that between my sister and I... Lets just say I was a little bugged out.
I could talk about how I just wrote a bunch of post cards to my friends and I finally bought envelopes. So hopefully when I asked for my friends college addresses they didn't suspect a thing!!! Anyway I am off to go explore Colorado before it starts to snow! So far on this trip I have had to be the car mechanic which has been a lot of fun. I fixed the battery situation yesterday which was an easy fix, all it took was this hidden fuse that was almost impossible to see! Not challenging at all:/ Only went a week without power... I get to add oil and coolant to the car all the time, I even get to wash her at every gas station. I know if Kember sees this she will be upset that I make it sound like she doesn't do anything. Which is not the case at all, I enjoy doing all this stuff. She always offers to help no doubt in that but I enjoy the challenge and I am more than happy to do the hard work or the "mans job" as some horrible people could put it. I constantly see "Men at work" signs which I just hate... honestly it gets my blood boiling. I'll write another blog about all the wonderful signs I have seen since I started this trip. So for now I am off to explore this beautiful state:)
Hope all is well in your world. Have a wonderful day!
Greta Ann Vanderblue.