Today I am using Tim’s computer. Most of our blog posts are written on my iPad when we have enough wireless to upload photos. I love the iPad, but it makes writing text a little more challenging. We are spending today in Silver City, a small town near the Gila Mountains. It is refreshing to have reliable internet, good coffee, showers, and laundry.
We left Tampa two weeks ago yesterday. We have already learned a lot about ourselves and each other. Yesterday was a “treat” day, where we eat out and spend less time in and around the van. We are staying at a campground with laundry and showers. You don’t realize how much you love a hot shower until you don’t have access to one. Our solar shower is great, but it is not the same. It is also nice to empty our laundry bag and have fresh, clean-smelling clothes. We have tried to have one of these “treat” days once a week, which has helped us with maintaining a sense of normalcy and appreciation for things that we have taken for granted for a very long time.
Last night, in accordance with our treat day, we had New Mexican enchiladas at a local place in town. Both of us were feeling a little down. We talked it out, and our general ennui had to do with a few things:
- Transitioning from full-time work to living in the van. We are so happy that we can have this adventure, but it is necessary to establish a new routine. We were both accustomed to going into work, seeing our friends/co-workers, patients, students, and so on. There is a certain kind of loss that is both exciting and sad.
- Loneliness. We spend all of our time with each other and we get along very well. Many people exclaimed that they could never live in a van with their spouse, but we were not really worried about it. However, we do not go our separate ways throughout the day, like we do in Tampa. We don’t come home and say, “Guess what happened?” because we already know! We were there together. What a gift, but also can be isolating.
- Fatigue. Overall, it can be tiring to unpack and pack the van, search for things at the bottom of boxes, scour maps, and hike in high altitude. We go to bed early and wake early. I really enjoy this aspect, but by the end of the day, we are tired and can be less patient with ourselves.
It felt good to talk about these things with each other, instead of feeling guilty, frustrated, or just trying to ignore these feelings. We came to the realization that these feelings accompany any significant change, whether it be a new job, a move, or so on. It’s normal. We also confirmed that we want to focus on this amazing opportunity and to do so, we need to be focused on the present. Instead of worrying about what will happen this fall, we need to appreciate that it’s May 23.
We are committed to reading more, writing more, walking more, and experiencing more. After dinner, we decided to buy a six-pack of beer and bring it back to our little campsite. We had seen a few younger guys setting up lightweight backpacking tents earlier in the day, and we wanted to invite them to have a drink with us. It was a good idea. They are all hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), which is a 3,100 mile hike from Mexico to Canada. The entire hike will take them roughly 4.5-5 months to complete, with an average hike of about 30 miles per day. It is the lesser known of the three major long trails, which also include the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Two of the guys, who are originally from California and Germany, have already hiked the AT and PCT. The third, B., works in New York City in finance and is taking the time off for his first long trail. It is pretty amazing to think of the mental and physical fortitude necessary to complete these hikes. We were happy to share our drinks with them and tell our stories. We went to bed feeling rejuvenated and excited for our trip, and hopeful that they will have a great experience on the trail.
While we were at our previous site in the Organ Mountains, a couple with three small girls in the adjacent campsite started a conversation with us. We ended up talking for awhile around the campfire–A. is from Texas, spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, flies planes, and completed an arctic survival course. B. is from New Mexico, told us about a few places we should go while visiting the area. The three girls were excited to tour Ranger and were fascinated with the solar shower.
We have only been on the road for two weeks, but we have been so fortunate to see amazing natural beauty. We have also experienced the generosity and care of many people along the way, from Dallas to Artesia to Silver City. Sometimes you have to reach out beyond your comfort zone and talk to people you don’t know. Safety is paramount, but most people are wanting to connect. We get our energy from nature, but also from each other.
Today has been a great day.