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Prologue

This is how it begins, with a whisper not a bang.

Hello, hola, bonjour! Welcome to the prologue. Allow me to set the scene; two beautiful Adonis-ish twenty-somethings sitting in their living room. One turns to the other and whispers something equal parts breathtaking and terrifying into her ear, she feels his breath on her cheek as he leans in close and says “let’s quit our jobs and run away”. He doesn’t dare breathe as he watches for her reaction, and her lips trembling with trepidation form the word he’s been waiting for, “okay”. This is how it begins, with a whisper, not a bang.IMG_8657

Love in the Time of the Coronavirus

Storm clouds forming over Key Largo, FL

A slow blink like a countdown on a lazy, hazy, Florida afternoon. Biting nails and peeling polish as the news ticker makes its slow crawl across the screen displaying a rising death toll and a failing economy.

It’s is a very strange movie that we have stumbled onto the set of, a little bit post apocalyptic with a dash of horror and comedy thrown in for good measure. If asked, the MPAA would begrudgingly hand this film an R rating for language, violence, and partial nudity (although it would do better in the theaters as PG-13). The only things that you can find in the grocery stores right now are paranoia and gluten free waffle mix.

The Florida Keys has declared its independence from the mainland and to travel in you must have papers documenting your right to be here. The locals do not fair well under pressure, in the beginning cars were lining the road forming a rag tag barricade, signs held in shaky hands reading “Welcome to the keys, now go home”. They have drawn a line in the proverbial sand which is mile marker 107 on US HWY 1.

There are two types of people in the world right now; the ones heeding the calls of the doctors and scientists urging for social distancing and immediate action, and the ones taking all of their advice from the guy who sold bad weed in high school and can “see through the government conspiracy”. Some people are under the impression that the rain only falls on them and fail to see the ways in which this pandemic is affecting the entire world.

We have a strange sort of survivors guilt as 80% of the staff where we work have been laid off. Jesse and I are considered essential workers which I define as those doing the jobs which no one else wants to do. Our days are spent with our heads down avoiding the weighted looks of the seasonal instructors who still haunt the halls. The air is heavy with unspoken questions and an intoxicating mixture of pollen and humidity.

We have been working and living at MarineLab in the Florida Keys for almost five very strange and fulfilling months. I have never lived or worked at a place like this and have loved every second of it. Hurricane season is on our heals though and I’m anxious to see how we fare during this global crisis. Stay strong, stay healthy, live long and prosper 🖖.

A Nurse Shark resting on the seafloor in Molasses Reef

Gnome Proofing Your Tomato Plants and Other Advice For the Modern Era

A travel guide for the inexperienced and ill equipped

Can you pinpoint the moment? You know the moment, the moment that changes the moments that follow.

Sitting pretty in Nor Cal checking the weather obsessively as if it is your job and a promotion is riding on the details. Then you see a potential snow storm looming ominously over the day that you are to begin a 3,000 mile cross country road trip. Do you take a risk and wait it out or hang up your junior meteorologist hat and hit the road a week early? I miss the hat but we also missed the snow.

We teeter tottered across the lines of every state

Wyoming had the best Thai food we have ever had in our lives and Nebraska was exactly how I had envisioned it. Shout out to the 1984 family classic “Children of the Corn”

Being hired for the perfect job but a month in realizing that due to your gender you are not allowed to do the role that you were originally hired for. Who wants to be relegated to the position of “shop girl” with over 10 years of management experience. You then spend the following month sweeping out corners while simultaneously sweeping the internet for something better.

I know the saying “It’s easier to get a new job when you are already employed” but we had one foot out the door and one hand holding up a peace sign followed by the middle finger. Every day was spent drawing invisible lines in the sand and shifting our toes closer to the proverbial edge.

The day that my line was crossed was the morning that I was in the middle of helping Jesse get boats ready for the day. I was told to stop what I was doing and run up to the shop, upon stepping foot into the shop I was then led to a corner of a storage unit repurposed as a video room and received a very thorough lesson on how to remove dust from a corner using a combination of friction and kinetic energy. I pushed the dirt into a dust pan and then my pen across the paper as I wrote out my notice. I could have just swept the dust as well as my animosity under the rug but where is the dignity in that? In a brave showing of solidarity and a refusal to be left behind Jesse put in his notice as well.

The majority of what I write is true and the rest is true enough. Freshly unemployed two weeks before Christmas is highly regarded as one of the least advisable times to dive headfirst into an expensive home remodel. But as they say idle hands are the Devil’s playthings and it was either remodel our home or start a hardcore band and I do not think that my voice could handle the strict schedule of being in a touring band.

We started from the ground up with the help of Jesse’s impressively unnecessarily complicated collection of tools and a sturdy step ladder, I never knew my real ladder. We put the RE in remodel as we had to undo and then redo a lot of things. Herring bone brick flooring seems like a fantastic idea until you are knee deep in mortar and would gladly take a swan dive into a volcano in Mordor just to not have to lay anymore brick. See what I did there? Try tiling floors once your hands melt off.

For what comes next I need to backtrack a little. On one exceptionally draining day at the docks following a lackluster European kayak tour, I received a text message from Jesse. At this point we already knew that we were on our way out so it came as no surprise to me that Jesse has sent me a link for a job opening.

Let me interrupt this story because I had also forget to mention that upon returning to Florida we sold the RV and had thought that our traveling was behind us, for a while at least.

Back to the story. The job was for a couple to live and work in Key Largo, Florida. Jesse sent me the link as a joke like “wouldn’t that be crazy?”. I, on the other hand took it as a challenge. Fast forward four weeks and we find ourselves one week before Christmas, two months since returning home, planning our escape again.

It’s Scary how easy it is, the things that we used to talk about as being impossible are in reach and that places that we swore we would never go, we have seen. It’s taken a little wine, a lot of anxiety, and a stubborn refusal to accept things like disrespect in exchange for a check and the idea that we are indebted to our hometown or circumstance. There are no rules on how you should live your life besides the obvious, don’t kill anyone who doesn’t deserve it, and don’t be rude to servers and retail clerks. Why not color outside the lines every one in a while. If you must choose between two evils than pick the one you haven’t tried before.

The first thing that drew me to Jesse was his quirky smile. The second thing was the way he took my ink stained fingers and gave me a story worth writing about.

A Casual Observation

“Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you” -We Were Liars

3,000 miles is the perfect distance to view your hometown from. 15,840,000 feet is how far you will need to walk, tape measurer in hand to gain perspective. Of the 672,768,000 breaths that you will take in a lifetime 115,200 will be spent just trying to make sense of it all. 6,000,000 steps will take you away from it all.
Where you used to be an active player now you find yourself watching from the sidelines, there is not even a trophy just for participation that is begrudgingly handed out at the end of the game. After a while friends learn not to pass the ball your way, you will fumble, you will fall, you will drop it and run away. In any given conversation I have surely lost the thread. It slipped thru my hands like so many seconds spent lost in thought, dreaming of all of the places I would rather be.
From a safe distance it’s easy to see what you are missing. From far enough away it becomes you who has gone missing. Eventually, whether you planned on it or not, you will slip between the cracks and become a casual observer of a life that you once knew.
In less than two months we will be returning to our small home in Florida and back to a more standard way of life. That gives us 60 days to figure our shit out to put it bluntly. We are trying to sell our RV while we are here in Nor Cal preferably before we begin the trek back east. Do not get me wrong, I love our tiny home and it has honestly changed our lives in the past two years. After a lot of late nights talking ourselves in and then talking ourselves out, we have decided that to continue this lifestyle we need something bigger, something that allows us the freedom to travel together and most importantly the room to stretch. To save money on gas on the drive home our goal is to sell the RV here in CA and hand it over to new owners on or after the first of October. This will definitely be a challenge with this small of a timeline coupled with the fact that we are living in it in the mean time, in between time.
It’s too soon to start sending out resumes and making plans for when we arrive home so for now we are just focusing on the day to day. Here is a taste of how that’s going:
July 12- I put on my shoes, and took about 15 steps before feeling a sharp pain in my foot. I immediately shouted “fuck!” Took off my shoe and threw it in the river.
July 14- The name of my book will be “An Unexpected Journey Inspired By A Series of Unfortunate events. We took a walk and planned to make plans.
July 16– It was a full moon tonight and something was in retrograde. I don’t get spiritualism, maybe when I’m older.
July 17– We were chased by a very aggressive deer.
July 22- Lily got her foot caught in the door and attacked the shit out of me when I tried to free her. I am drinking champagne while we glare at each other.
July 24- We went on a date and drank too much white wine. We ended the night laying on lawn chairs and watching shooting stars.
August 1- Everything was sticky. The hipster vintage cooler pinched me. My finger tips hurt.
August 2- I met a fake service dog named Chloe, she was very bad. I liked her a lot.
August 3– It was an extremely long day. Jesse fell in the mud, it was nice to see someone other than me covered in mud. We ate Mac n Cheese and talked about running away.
August 9- We met a drunk astronomer, Aliens are real.
August 12- I walked thru a cloud of Tortoiseshell Butterflies. If that is not a good day than I don’t know what is.
August 15- It was a Thursday and the day that the world melted. I picked blackberries and killed the microwave. It was a good news bad news type of day.
August 17- If I get “ghosted” by this guy one more time while doing the dishes I will lose it.
(Picture when Patrick Swayze helps blah blah blah on the pottery wheel in the movie ghost)
We are still having fun and learning new things every day and I cannot wait to see what awaits us on this journey. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have my closing sentence.

I Just Want World Domination Like Everybody Else

So if you hear me talking strategy, well it’s only to myself. -The Front Bottoms

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have, my opening sentence. Life is a good news, bad news situation. Good news is all of these cells and molecules came together just right and you are alive. Bad news is that this miracle alone does not entitle you to anything and now you have to figure out how to actually live or die trying. There are a few essential rules of course such as do not kill anyone, do sort your laundry before washing, and do not forget to reapply your sunscreen after 90 minutes. Besides a handful of things you are essentially on your own to excel and soar into enlightenment or crash and burn in self destructive as you see fit. I personally am somewhere between self actualization and remembering to wipe toothpaste from my mouth when leaving the house, it’s a very slippery slope. On the bright side no matter how much you think that you are failing there is most definitely someone who is failing way harder than you and with much less fashion sense. Every time I fall, I fall better with more grace.

We are currently waist deep into the camping season in Northern California on the edge of Mt Lassen. This adventure has been as much fun as it has been both educational and terrifying. Not a day goes by where we are not smiling, laughing, or questioning our sanity. Valuable life skills that I have learned so far include the art of making the perfect milkshake, how to disembowel a dyson without ruining your shirt, and the appropriate amount of time to wait between handing someone a menu and asking them what they would like to order (I still struggle with this). There was a lot of awkward and embarrassing trial and error involved in the learning process. Actually that last part was a lie, it was pretty easy, you do not realize what you are capable of until you try it.

Do not get me wrong though, not everything has been easy. When we first arrived there was so much snow (and still is in Lassen National Park) that our roof decided that is was not meant for this world and spring multiple leaks. Remember that song about the girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world? The world was my living room and the girl was the ceiling. We and by we I mean Jesse spent a week cleaning and removing old roof coating and laying down fresh sealant while whispering to the roof sweet nothings to try to improve it’s countenance. It has been a month since and I can safely say the roof has not leaked once, although it has not rained since. We have also had to contend with a community of mice making a home in our engine compartment and declaring their own sovereign nation, the paper work to evict them was horrendous. Most recently one of my biggest fears has come true. I slipped my feet into my white and red converse and walked 15 steps, shortly after crossing a makeshift bridge over a small stream I felt a sharp pain in my left foot. Have you ever tried to take off a tied shoe while panicking? It was not pretty. When I finally eased my tender foot out of my now mangled shoe I saw a large black spider crawling out. I reacted as any sane adult would do, I screamed “fuck!” As I flung the offending shoe complete with eight legged passenger into the stream and in dismay watched it float away. Relizing what I had just done I limped after it and did the walk of shame, soggy shoe in hand, back to my little home. Inside my shoe I found the large egg sack that the spider had been protecting and considered that had it have had time to hatch I would’ve been stepping into hundreds of spiders instead of just one. My toe seems fine but I never got to figure out what kind of spider it was. One thing I do know for sure is that I will never be the same carefree girl who puts on her shoes without checking first.

In the mean time, in between time we are exploring every chance we get and making the most of our time here. Northern California will take your breath away and due to the high altitude will never fully give it back.

Sex, Drugs, and Finely Glazed Bowls

A wise man once said

Some wise words

..but I digress

A photographic journal of life out West consisting of mediocre art, questionable poetry, and a recipe for ratatouille.

Live a little and then live a little more.

https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/ratatouille-in-the-crock-pot-52757

Putting the “Vent” in Adventure

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have”

Anna Quindlen

Florida to California, the finer points..

    Vortex Springs, Fl– Picture the movie Wet Hot American Summer with Country music on repeat and PBRs to beat the heat.
    Natchez, MS- Bull frogs singing, ticks biting, river overflowing.
    Wind Point, TX- Friendliest deer west of the Mississippi, a single restaurant with the single best food, winds so strong that you should probably hold on.
    Wichita Falls, TX- A river the color of chocolate milk and pair of Geese from Canada.
    Tucumcari, NM- I’ve pronounced this ten different ways and they are all wrong.
    Alburquerque, NM- Explored Petroglyphs and contemplated alien existence while sitting in a hot tub.
    Lake Powell, AZ- Took my breath away and has yet to return it.
    Cedar City, UT- Witnessed a woman harass a young mom who brought her four year old son into the ladies room, and questioned my faith in humanity. Highly recommend the pizza.
    Beatty, NV- Got lost among the ghosts in an old mining town, stumbled across beauty in the middle of the desert.
    Mill Creek, CA- Saw trees again for the first time in a week, let out the breath we had been holding and the inhale was sweet.

That’s right we made it to Mill Creek Resort nestled among towering trees in the shadow of Lassen Volcano in Northern California. Our love story with Mill Creek began as many modern love stories do these days, with an email. The owners, a young couple named Jillian and Joseph saw a resumé that we had posted on a site called workamper.com, the resumé explained that we were hard workers and not serial killers which is a hard combo to beat. Thru a series of emails we made a plan to spend the summer exploring Northern California while working and living at their small resort/restaurant. Mill Creek has a handful of employees who already feel like family and is held together by a love for the area, fresh local food, and a revolving cast of mountain folk, cowboys, travelers, adventurers, and kind hearted locals. The owners take a lot of pride in what they do and joy in their work or at least fake it well, and it is felt throughout the resort from the good food to the cozy cabins. We came here looking for something different from the corporate run campgrounds, not only did we find something different but also a reason to make a difference.

A quote that really resignates with me is by Cesar Pavese; Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all the familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance, nothing’s is yours except the essential things -air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. -All things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.

We get so wrapped up in our lives, our stories, our versions of reality, that we forget to look at the bigger picture. In any single moment there are a million different things that you could be doing or places you could be going, what will you do with your one wild life?

You don’t have to be rich to travel, maybe a little creative but certainly not rich. We funded our trip with 5 months of hard work at minimum wage jobs, achievable goals, and the support of family and friends. I have had the nice house and well paying job but traded it in for the chance to live instead of make a living. I’ll take being rich in experience over wealthy in life any day. It’s amazing what you are capable of when you gain control of your life and forget about what others may think. Not happy at your job? Get a new one. Don’t like your town? Leave. Want a pet Guinea Pig? Adopt one. Need extra money? Call 877 cash-now. Live within your means and make the best out of every single day that you have the ability to do so. I’ve got 99 problems but regrets ain’t one.

Losing A Whole Year

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

Current Location: Lake Powell, Arizona

Date: I think it’s Thursday, but I haven’t checked

Soundtrack: Third Eye Blind

Our Adventure began on April 10th when we woke to the shrill consistent buzzing of an alarm set the previous night for 6am. Untangling from the blankets and sheets and shaking off the quickly fading dreams that settled the previous night, we clumsily began to pack. There was a halfhearted attempt at organization that was short lived and vastly overshadowed by the excitement in the air and the urge to flee. Windows were closed, switches were flipped, the refrigerator unplugged, and the front door locked. We were ready, we were going, we were gone.

Scene: Vortex Springs, Ponce De Leon, Fl

80 degrees, Wednesday April 10

“Gin Clear Water”

Maybe it’s because it was a Wednesday or maybe the apocalypse started while we were too busy to give it any notice, an email moved to the spam folder without a second thought containing nothing less than the fate of mankind. The park was empty of people excluding a group of 5 steadfast partiers alternating between gyrating to loud club music and swaying to soulful country ballads when the whisky took hold. As promised the water was clear as gin and felt cold as sin. We sipped wine from cans and watched from afar as the now intoxicated spring breakers threw their sunburnt bodies down long dry water slides. Shuddering every now and then when hearing the inevitable and unmistakeable sound of flesh sliding against the dry cracked plastic.

Natchez State Park Mississippi

80 degrees Thursday April 11

“If the gators don’t get you, the ticks will”

Driving up to this park we sent up a quiet prayer to whoever was listening that these ruddy backwoods roads were not leading us to our death. I know that I have said this before but I will say it again. You will never learn more about a person then when you have to check them for ticks, it is the equivalent to a trust fall at a work retreat. Of course there is much more skin but the same feeling of fear and trepidation and of relief when it is over. Love life aside, Mississippi was exactly as imagined, air heavy with mosquitos and the sky thrumming with the wings of unseen things. We ate Ramen noodles and listened to the rain pounding on our roof.

Wind Point Texas

Friday April 12 – Sunday April 13

75 Degrees, Severe Storms, Tornados likely

It was Texas in the beginning of April at a place called Wind Point, we should have known that there would be tornados. We spent our days here faces pressed against windows only pulling away long enough to clear the fog that our warm breaths created, looking for the tell tale funnel cloud with fear and excitement. We grew up watching Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt chasing twisters, we had been preparing for this since 1996. We spent restless nights here listening to NPR and sifting thru our DVD collection for any type of distraction. At night there was a thick haze over the lake that turned out to be swarming insects and in the mornings you could make out the shadows of deer watching lazily through the brambles.

Wichita Falls Texas

Sunday April 11, 80 degrees

“There were Geese”

We had a few minor inconveniences on our way to Wichita Falls including the rubber roof coating on top of the RV peeling off and flapping in the wind like a white flag of surrender. On the plus side I had the opportunity to feed a pair of Canadian Geese and we got pizza delivered.

Tucumcari NM

Monday April 15, 75 degrees

I forgot about this place until looking back on our reservations

The entire drive to New Mexico we were assaulted with gusts of wind up to 40mph of hot dry air. Past the towering oil pumps and spinning wind turbines in the heart of BFE you find Tucumcari. We stayed at a KOA and blew thru our laundry money drinking red wine and playing pool in the clubhouse.

Albuquerque NM

Tuesday April 16, 81 degrees

Home of the Chupacabra

Eyes to the skies we pulled into Albuquerque, I was sure that if we were going to see a UFO this was the place. My neck is still stiff from constantly scanning the horizon while visions of the movie “Mars Attacks” danced through my head. We hiked over desert terrain at Petroglyph National Monument and marveled at the etchings left behind from a long ago long gone people. With a new perspective and fresh sun burn we shared beers at a local brewery whilst discussing the pros and cons of running into the infamous Chupacabra. We camped next to a man in a van who was clearly running from something and awoke to a desert storm.

Lake Powell Arizona Wednesday April 17- Thursday April 19

71 degrees

Just hold your breath and we’ll stop time

With looming canyons and perfect climate I imagine that if there were an afterlife it must resemble this. Nothing makes you more cognizant of the shifting sands of time than the well worn canyons of Arizona forever standing testament to the power of wind and water and bearing the layers and secrets of our planet. We plan to spend our time here drinking too much white wine and getting more than our fair share of sun. I could never find the right words to describe the world, this alternate reality that we have tripped and slipped into. If given the chance to visit do not hesitate or let the opportunity pass you by. Our days are filled with dirt biking across the ancient terrain segmented with the occasional fall to keep things interesting and lounging in the early spring sun watching the world wake up.

I have learned a lot about our country and its inhabitants on this trip. From the Homo Gluteus, the elderly man who chose to forgo underwear and whose pants subsequently slip a good six inches every time he bends to adjust his bearings. To the Homo Maximus, the guy with the 50ft RV pulling his 2019 lifted Jeep and refusing to leave the sanctuary of his AC and satellite TV regardless of location. It has been a very humbling experience to leave everything we know behind and travel across the country. I have never felt so small and I have never felt so alive. With 2 cats, a dog, and a handful of bad ideas and good intentions we do what we always do, we carry on.