We made it back from our Washington D.C. trip last week and got back to work on our trip. We only had the opportunity to learn one thing about the van on this trip....check the parking garage heights before booking hotel rooms in large cities!!! Fortunately, Toni thought to check this out before we left and found out that our van, no higher than most SUVs, would be too high to park in their parking garage so we had to drive the car instead. Very valuable lesson learned. Once we arrived, we did learn that there was more clearance than posted online so now we know to call and check before booking. Most garages average 8 feet or more, but this one stated 6'2", which seemed to be the average in D.C., so it's important to find hotels that offer higher garages or outdoor parking options.
The March itself and our time in D.C. was an experience in itself. It was not our first trip there and certainly will not be our last, but it definitely was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I'm not going to go into details here, because that's not what this Blog is for, but the trip still taught us a few things in regards to our upcoming adventure and overall was a successful trip.
Now that we are back, it is time to get back to the planning. This week we went through our house and started to sort through each large item and decide if we would store it, sell it, donate it, or trash it. Originally we had decided to keep a lot of our furniture....and then we watched Minimalist. It's a documentary about simplifying your life. Now, I have no desire to live that simply, not forever; however, we have never been much for buying "things". We prefer to spend money on travel and experiences, or buy things that provide us with experiences (kayaks, paddleboards, etc). Don't get me wrong, we own plenty of things. Most we have accumulated over the last decade or so. We just don't have many knick-knacks or useless things. Most everything that we have has a personal story behind it or some type of sentimental value to it. After really sitting down and trying to plan on how much we want to spend on storage, the value of these items, the ability to replace them when we return, and whether or not we would be wiling to ship them to us if we decide not to come back to Tampa played a large role in ultimately deciding to let go of most of these items. With the exception of some personal belongings and a few larger pieces of furniture and equipment, the rest will be sold. The downsizing process has begun and we have started to advertise some of the things that we can live without for the next few months. We also got rid of that ridiculous cable bill and have started using our Amazon and Netflix more. One of Toni's projects is to find ways that we can still stream some of the shows that we love while we are on the road. We have a ton of adventures lined up on this trip so it seems silly to be thinking about TV shows, but we do plan on having plenty of down time so we are on the go constantly, and it would be nice to have access to the shows that make us happy! I am going to open up the comments section on this blog post so you can chime in on what you are using for your TV enjoyment these days!
Another project that we are trying to finish this week is the closing on our investment property. This property is the same property that we have rented for the last 8 years for our business. Though we are trying to sell the business, we recognized that 1. This might not happen before we leave and it would be nice to know that we have the office secured while we are gone, and 2. It's a great investment in a fast-growing area and will provide us with rental income which will help pay for our travels. The property is under contract and we are just waiting for a closing date. We are very excited about this purchase, but we also realize that this will make some additional projects for us before we go. Once we have closed we will talk some more about those projects.
Toni has started her research into stops that she would like to make in the US. Though many seem to overlap, she has found some great resources online of some weird and mysterious type places that we will definitely be adding to the list. Once we publish our list we will make sure to provide you with the websites to this information! We also are opening up the comments section on this Blog Post so we can begin getting feedback from all of you on some of your most favorite places from back home, from where you live, and from where you have visited. We want to hear all of your stories about beautiful places, great restaurants, and some of the coolest experiences you've had. Please share!!!
We are starting to spend much more time preparing for the trip now so please make sure to like us on Facebook (@ThirdRockExplorations) and keep check our Blog for more information. We will have notifications set up soon via and RSS feed for those that don't want to miss a thing! Stay tuned...it's about to get crazy!!!
Toni has been working tirelessly on modifying the van so that we could have it ready for the trip to participate in the Women's March on Washington D.C. Next week will be our trial run with the van to see if we like the current set up. It will also give us the opportunity to tweak a few things and find out what other items might come in handy along the way. Certainly a 14 hour trip won't compare to an 18 month journey across two countries, but it should point out some of the more obvious issue we may run into.
As we mentioned in our first blog, we will be living out of the van and not in it so we just wanted to have a platform that we could use as a bed if we just need a quick nap, and then some storage for all of our clothes and gear underneath. Toni decided to build a series of crates that would allow us to move them if we need to and that would provide a long gap in the middle in case we needed to store something longer. The tops are removable to access everything in storage underneath. Toni also laid down some reflective insulation and a foam pad on the bottom to help regulate temperature, protect the floor, and reduce vibration. The tops have a camping foam pad attached to them followed by a think vinyl cover. This should provide a nice base. We then purchased a 3" thick memory foam pad to sleep on. Here is a slideshow of what Toni built...
This week we will get the wiring done on the hitch receiver we had installed last week, just in case we decide we need it sometime down the road. We also ordered a roof rack, which is getting installed this week. Besides that, we just need to start shopping for bins, shelves, and other storage items. After our trip next week I am sure we will come up with several things that we will want to add to the van. We did manage to find some nice and warm oversized sleeping bags this week that will be nice on those cool days that we nap in the van or that we are camping outside.
So, that is some of the progress that we made with the van this week. We will let you know what we find out after our road trip next week. It has been a busy couple of weeks and I am also making some progress with my planning as well! Will post those details soon!
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel. I feel as though it is in my blood, but it definitely wasn’t inherited. My parents have never been much into traveling. When I was young, my dad was a truck driver and for some time he drove across the country. I don’t remember, but I can imagine that my mom must have told me stories of my dad when he was on the road and all of the places he was driving to. Maybe my dad shared stories of the places he had seen once he returned home each time. I don’t know for sure, but something in me sparked my interest in travel at a young age. I’ve dreamed of doing many things in my life and though some of those dreams have changed, my love and desire for travel has not.
When I joined the Marine Corps, it wasn’t to see the world. One doesn’t join the Marine Corps for travel opportunities since there are limited bases outside of the US, and there are certainly easier ways to see the world than this. I was hoping to end up in Hawaii though. Instead, I got the grand tour of the South. This included Parris Island SC, Camp LeJeune NC, Fort McClellan, AL, and back to Parris Island. Keep in mind that Camp LeJeune was deemed toxic and closed at one point and Fort McClellan closed right after I left and as been named the most toxic place on the Earth. So, I wasn’t exactly seeing the most beautiful parts of the Country, to say the least, but I was still excited to be seeing new places. I would hop in my car whenever I had the chance and go out and explore the areas around me.
When I got out of the Marine Corps I made a promise to myself that I would do whatever it takes to at least semi-retire by the time I would have retired from the military, and I would go see the world. My goal was to go out and explore while I’m still young enough to experience it all without the aches and pains of old age holding me back! Since then, 2018 has been on my mind as the year I start my travels.
Upon discharge from the military, I hopped a flight to Hawaii and settled in there for a few years. Some people get island fever, but not me. There was always something new to explore, and if I got bored on one island I would hop to another to see what I could find. Living in Hawaii only fed my travel bug. I had many friends that were military and would talk about the places they had been and I would start adding those places to my “bucket list”. Hawaii was the most beautiful place I had ever been and now I wanted to go out and see more.
Money is always an issue that keeps people from their travels and was certainly my biggest concern. I was broke and living paycheck to paycheck. I knew I would have to return to school and get a degree so I could start my own business that would provide me with the financial means and the freedom to make this dream happen. I went back to college, moved back to NY, met the love of my life, moved to Tampa, finished two degrees, started a few businesses, and have continued to work hard towards my goal of travel. It hasn’t always been easy, but Toni has stood by me through it all and luckily she shares my love of travel.
In 2015 we started planning an 18 month 47 country world trip. No specifics, just started nailing down the places that we wanted to go. We started sharing our plans with friends and joking about how we need to travel soon before we fall apart. Little did we know how quickly all of those aches and pains would multiply and become chronic for both of us. Years of sports, work, military training, and playing in the toxic sludge in Alabama is starting to take it’s toll on me much sooner than we thought it would.
Toni’s car accident in 2015 would change everything for us. Not only did it leave her with some permanent injuries and chronic pain, but it seemed to be the catalyst for a series of events that led to an awful 2016 for us. We were hit with several reality checks in 2016 which gave me some perspective on life, my values, my passion, and what is really important. It also made me realize that our “good years” are quickly passing us by and that if we don’t get going soon, our bodies may limit how much we get out of this trip. We also realized that if things continue the way they are, the Earth’s “good years” will pass by as well and we will miss out on seeing things like the Great Barrier Reef (what’s left of it), and non-toxic lakes and rivers, and National Parks without the oil lines passing through them. Things just seem to be moving in the wrong direction. By the end of 2016 we were ready to move our trip up a year, but with a slight change. We decided that we would begin our trip in the United States and Canada and then continue on around the rest of the world, instead of saving the United States until later. The reason for the change? I am seeking hope.
I live in a country that I barely recognize right now. There has always been a divide and there has always been hate, but it seems to have multiplied significantly in recent months. I believe it’s because it’s what we focus on, what we are fed through the media. As we embark on this journey, in the back of my mind I know that the reality is that I may not decide to return if things continue in this direction. Yes, we are going from state to state to see the amazing sites that this country has to offer and to experience as much as we can, but it’s much more than that. I have made it a goal to go out and find positive stories that are happening in communities across the country. I want to meet people that are making a difference by doing good in the world. I want to be a part of the solution by spreading kindness everywhere we go. I want to see things that give me hope that this country isn’t everything that we see in the media. I want to find my own proof that there is more good, more tolerance, and more love than hate here. I want to learn about people and hear their stories. Travel is so much more than just seeing places. It’s about learning and growing. I hope that I find what I am looking for here, and around the world, and I hope that I can inspire others to go out and find and be a part of the good things happening all over this country.