Musings from the road

Just before Christmas, we stopped at Santispac Beach for a few days, just south of Mulege. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, although the water was cold and the wind relentless, so we decided to return on the way back to enjoy some real swimming and beach time.

View of Santispac Beach from the highway.

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We’re parked here for a few days and enjoying the ebb and flow of life on an “almost-boondocking” beach. While there are no hookups, there is water delivery and a sani-dump at one end of the beach. There is a restaurant when we don’t feel like cooking and a daily delivery of fresh shrimp, fish and vegetables when we do.

We discovered this path above the beach – an old road that is no longer passable by vehicles, but ideal for long walks and chatting about the meaning of life.

I thought this might be a good time to share some of our thoughts about this life of ours, now that we are two and-a-half-years into being “unhoused.”

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When we were shopping for a trailer, we had a great chat with a very funny salesman who warned us that this life would mean, “you’ll be having breakfast with the same person every morning.” More to the point, we would also be together for lunch, dinner and all the time in between. 

That is not a concept one can fully understand until it is put into practice – we don’t have jobs, friends, family or hobbies to separate us so with a few exceptions, we go through our days and nights in tandem. Our trailer is 7’ x 17’, so even our bathroom moments are not that private. But so far, it has not been a problem – we enjoy similar things and have similar warped humour. Most of our days are spent outside. We walk, swim, sightsee, read, socialize with other people and it all seems to work.

All that togetherness means we have had a few snappish moments along the way. We are both bossy first-borns who don’t like to be told and those less-than-endearing traits are magnified on the road. We’ve sorted out what needs “work.” I’m trying not to jump in with my version of the story when Stephen takes his time talking, and Stephen is trying not to correct what he refers to as my “inaccuracies” in front of others.

Here we are, getting along well, even though I appear to be clutching at Stephen’s shirt.

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We cannot say enough good things about the Escape. It operates smoothly and follows behind us, no matter how twisty and bumpy the road.  It is comfortable and cosy and all we need.  However, we occasionally wonder if rather than “leaving ourselves behind”, we are “dragging ourselves behind.”  

When we unhitch and drive around with just our truck, our mood lightens – we’re free!  We can go anywhere!

It is too soon in our journey to come to any conclusions. We finish this trip in May and then after our summer trip to  Alaska and the Yukon, we’ll be in a better position to know how we want to proceed. Sometimes we wonder if a 4×4 truck camper or a rig like this one would suit us better.

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One of the biggest attractions to this life is having freedom to do what we want and when we want to do it. Once the outline of our trip is planned and we have done the groundwork (research, necessary shots and/or visas) our life unfolds as it should, with room left for changes or detours.

While we are not without any responsibilities, our main concerns from day to day are planning what to eat for dinner, where we’ll be a week from now, and finding ways to stay in touch when wifi and cell service are spotty or non-existent.

Being on the road means we run across a huge swath of people and hear their stories; we would have no way of meeting them otherwise.

We love t
he mystery of the open road – trying to anticipate what is next. We are far more engaged in order to deal with the constant change. It slows time down when the tyranny of the week and its routines is gone. When we talk about buying a house again and changing the way we travel, we both react the same way – “Not yet!”

We never know where the bend in the road will take us and that is highly addictive.

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Of course there are downsides to our way of life.  We go through periods where we miss our family and friends so much it feels like a sharp ache. Our friends will still be our friends when we see them again, but we’re no longer part of their lives. I’m more or less off Facebook, but when I dip in from time to time, I discover the changes, big and small, that have happened.

We don’t see our parents or our extended families as much as we would if we were in one place.  We don’t see our kids more than a couple of times a year and now we have big news – along with two other excited sets of grandparents, we are expecting our first grandchild the end of May. In fact, we recently learned we are expecting our first grandson. Aside from a couple of photos of our pregnant daughter-in-law, we feel so removed.

Another downside of nonstop travel is the challenge of maintaining continuity in physical exercise and in pursuing hobbies. Even cooking becomes rudimentary in a small trailer. 

Every way of life has its trade-offs.

After meeting so many young people on the road, we were struck by opportunities we may have missed when we were their age and raising our own family.

This is what our 60-something selves would say to our 30-something selves.

Don’t wait until you are retired – do this now. If you can find a way to put your lives on pause and just go – do it! There are many young people and young families who are on the road for a year, two years and indefinitely. Their backgrounds are varied. Some have left advanced degrees, well-paying jobs and homes to pursue lives that are giving them greater satisfaction. Others have cobbled remote work – writing, farm work, seasonal work, teaching, etc. – to bankroll ongoing travel. We met a couple who travel every winter then return to BC in March to begin their garden for their farm-to-table restaurant. Another young couple from Oregon travel in the winter and return to their seasonal businesses back home – she is a gardener and he has a tile and stone business. A young family from Marin County have rented out their home for a year and hit the road with their seven-year-old son. They home-school him, but he is also learning Spanish and spending his days kayaking. At this point they are not sure if they will go back to their old lives – this may be the beginning of something different.

We had insightful philosophical discussions with these young people about how they are choosing to live their lives. They all share similar traits – they are happy and unstressed and fully engaged. They know that following the well-trod path does not guarantee that your marriage will stay intact, or you will remain healthy, or you will keep your job. With that in mind, it feels far less risky to step off the cliff and see what else might be out there.

We would say – step off that cliff!  If we had it to do over, we would have taken our young sons and lived in another country for a year. We have our children with us for such a short time – maybe we would have done that a couple of times.

We leave you with a question:

What would your 60-something self say to your 30-something self?”