Saturday, October 12, 2013

Maiden Voyage - Lake Somerville

We chose Lake Somerville State Park as our initial test voyage.  It's close enough to get to in about 2 hours yet far enough away to stretch our new legs, aka tires.  It's one of our favorite state parks and perfect for a bike ride and a little fishing.  Our first venture from home would only be for one night only.

Joy and Bella
Earlier in the year we had taken the bikes to the park after dropping off our most recent foster pup with her new mom.  Bella is a small white four legged howler who found out we were soft-hearted and stupid enough to let her in when no one else in the neighborhood would.  Of course all recent stray arrivals are taken to our family vet. Bella was given her vaccinations and blood work up.  She was diagnosed with heart worms.  That didn't even phase her new mom. She said it was no problem that she'd do what she needed to get her healthy.  She's been in her new home for nearly 6 months now and is doing great in Killeen, TX.    

Anyway - we decided to make Somerville our first RV destination for a quick over night trip. A smooth drive and a quick set up, we were feeling like pros.  I guess the 3 pages of checklists helped.  It was hotter than hell and the frogs were so loud in the field across from us we barely slept but darn it, we were RV-ing without incident!  

Our poodle, Frances, all 9 lbs of her, wasn't too sure of herself in the great outdoors and when the pit bull next door looked at her through the screen-door you would have thought we were under attack by a pack of wolves.  We're going to have to watch that one! Our lab, Keila, is used to getting drug around the the state and adapted quickly to yet another adventure.  She was grateful to have 30 ft in which to relax!  Our last RV a pull trailer was just under 20 ft. 

Joy on a bicycle is always dangerous and it was good that were not on pavement.  We did get separated at one point and she, of course, knew immediately how to return to the campsite while I, on the other hand, was wishing my bike had GPS.  Joy says she MUST teach me directions or else we'll end up who knows where on our way to Alaska next year - but then again who cares!

Our Rig
We tore down on day 2 without incident, again with the help of a 3-page checklist.  We really scored with finding this RV and are so happy to have several months to work with and on it before we hit the road.  8 months, 1 day, 18 hours and 38 minutes until the next chapter begins - but who's counting?? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

ROT Motorcycle Rally, Austin, TX 2013

Okay I don't know if you really call parking on asphalt surrounded by 30,000 people and 5000 motorcycles camping- but at least we had our own bathroom and shower!  We've been involved in ROT for the past three years and it will be our last employment in Texas prior to our great adventure.  Although staying in a hotel was enticing it just makes more sense to be on site.    

Kathy drove the rig up to Austin alone while I worked a couple of more days in Houston.  She parked behind the Thunderdome along with about 8 other RV's used for staff and performer housing.  When you work 16 or more hours a day you don't want to drive to a hotel so staying on site during the rally is the norm.  

This year Kathy helped the ROT owners with conducting fraud and trademark infringement enforcement.  People try all kinds of things to steal from business like ROT, like creating fake wristbands, copying trademarked t shirts and other merchandise. 

Joy helps out where ever she is needed.  This year she managed the back gate while the performers arrived, most notably Dee Snyder and Twisted Sister.  She also helped usher in MMA fighters, managers, referees, and doctors for the Saturday night fights.  When you're in the middle of it ROT occurs to you as organized chaos; but with the professional and dedicated staff it somehow all works out with everyone on time and mostly satisfied.

Dee Snyder
With the rig backed up to the party zone sleep was in short order.  It seemed as though the roar of motorcycles never stopped. During out last night we finally smartened up and used ear plugs.  Duh!  We'll NEVER leave home without them again.   In fact it was tempting to drive through the camping areas at 7:00 am when we got up blasting horns or a stereo to repay the neighborhood hospitality but alas, we were just too tired to be mean.

Joy was able to find time to visit friends in Austin.  Chris is an artist and fellow public school teacher who's website,, is a must see. Liz is a designer, author, and blogger whose awesome blog,, is fresh and funny.  As previous next door neighbors, we became good friends when we fostered a pair of cute little fur ball pups, one of which became their wedding present, Pickles Marie Hasselhof. 

Joy got to spend the evening gazing upon David's head (a sculpture) in their back yard while enjoying cocktails.  We will miss them all of them next year (not David)
Arlen Ness

Sunday at ROT is really quiet as most are packing up to go home.  Joy followed Kathy home driving the GTI and we talked on our little walkie talkies as we traveled.  They have a great range, almost a mile, and it allowed us to feel more connected as we were in separate cars. It's always great seeing our ROT friends but climbing into our own Sunday night, where it was nice and quiet, was pure bliss.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

“The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.” - Chuck Palahniuk

The process of disseminating the contents of a three bedroom, two bath household has been occurring in stages. Something like the stages of grief.

Stage One: Let's make some money!

This stage went into full swing with the concept of Ebay, Craiglist, Half Priced books, consignment shops, and garage sales.   First we went through the house room by room figuring out the few pieces we needed to keep for staging the house, the pieces we need for day to day use, the pieces important enough to store, and those we needed separate from.  It seemed tedious to price, photograph, and post so many things, not to mention driving around town to meet buyers.  But doing so kept us in touch with the path, the road to freedom that was less than a year away.

Coin collection?  Mostly gone with the remnants on Craigslist.  Housewares?  Greatly reduced or moved to the RV for later use.  Clothes?  Donated.  Guest bed, living-room chairs, and piano all sold quickly. Stage One was a major and a minor success all at the same time.  We came to realize that people don't want to pay decent prices for decent stuff.  We'd rather donate than work that hard again bargaining with someone who wants something for nothing.  Some of our stuff is gone and forgotten while some ended up coming back into the house for re-marketing efforts.  Ok.  Round one over and we need to re-think the purge.

Stage Two:  Clean out the closets!

A meeting with a realtor, touch up paint, selling vehicles (there are 3 we must purge) and a thorough review of possessions made it really real.  The 1969 Karmann Ghia can't be a toad (a vehicle we tow behind the RV.)  We still haven't posted the motorcycle but the truck now sits in the neighbor's driveway.  He said since it was always parked in front of his house he might as well own it!

The idea that even the dishes are going came with tears over a hand mixer.  For some reason we needed to keep the mixer, the food processor, or the blender!  Two were gifts from Kathy's Dad so there's definitely emotional attachment.  The mixer will be kept until we move into the RV.  Why?  It seemed ceremonial to a past agreement that had been broken.

One more garage sale planned (violating phantom deed restrictions that no one can produce....)  We've agreed to rock bottom prices and a donation truck at the end of the day.  The date is set for October 5. Care to join us?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finally told the boss…..

I finally told my boss that I was unfulfilled at my job and planning to resign.  I had been having this conversation in my head for months and the desire to quit my job for about 2 years.  There is just nothing like climbing the career ladder for 18 years, only to find that the ladder is leaning against the wrong building.

Thanks to the Landmark Forum, I decided it was time to live a life that is powerful and to live a life I love. Over the past 6 months I finally figured out that my unhappiness at work wasn’t because of bosses, or other people, or the organization as a whole – it was simply because I was uninspired.  I have figured out that I don’t like managing people – a task I equate with babysitting – only not the “fun” babysitting of babies or kids, but babysitting adults.  Blah!  I discovered that my passion lied in projects, investigations, initiatives, etc.  I need the finality of something in order to feel accomplished.  “That’s done – now what’s next?”  I need to conduct research, to learn, to set all the pieces before me and see how they fit together.  I simply lack the empathy required to lead people and don’t take pleasure in seeing others grow, mature, succeed, etc.  I don’t think this makes me a bad person, it just is what it is.

My boss was incredible.  I felt as though I had nothing to lose when I finally sat down in front of him so, although I was anxious, I was not afraid.  I am glad I brought forth a proposal that would allow me to stay with the department until our adventure begins next summer and, as it turns out, what he is allowing me to do is even better than what I proposed.  I am grateful for his understanding, support, and shared excitement and finally feel as though 1,000 pounds have been lifted off me.

I guess I could lament that I wasted 18 years finding this out, but I feel I’m on the path I’m supposed to be on and am grateful that I am figuring it out now while I still have time to simply change paths.  Every now and then anxiety sneaks in and I realize I am a little concerned about what my subordinates will think about my voluntary demotion; but then I remind myself that it doesn’t matter what others think.  This is MY life, MY path, and MY decision.  I’ll be long gone while most of them suffer through their lives and jobs, never realizing that they do actually have the power to choose something else.

About Us

We are a middle aged couple who have reached career pinnacles only to find ourselves asking, “Is this all there is?” Recent Landmark Education graduates, we have decided to throw our hat over the wall and then figure out how to get it.

Our plan?  Quit our jobs, sell our house and just about everything we own, buy an RV and hit the road full time for at least a year.  

First destination??  Tok, Alaska where we'll be volunteering for 2 months at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge!  Mode of transportation?  2006 Itasca Sundancer (31 ft class C) Departure date? June 8, 2014

We're calling it "pretirement" and the adventure of a lifetime. No waiting until we're too old or too sick to enjoy life.  Of course, our "kids," Keila and Francis, will be joining us.  Both are of the 4-legged variety and just as adventurous as we are.  

What will we find?  Life.  Why don't you join us?  ;-)