Almost 7000 miles driven, more than 200 miles biked, and close to 5000 feet climbed. Phew! What a summer it’s been. And man would we love to spend the fall up in the mountains watching the aspens change, but since we’re back in Phoenix in time for Josh to start teaching his fall classes, we’re ready to get resettled. And, believe it or not, I’m even ready to land a new job and return to being a productive member of society.
Of course this trip was overall awesome; visiting amazing places, meeting new people, having the freedom and relaxation of not working, doing activities we love, together. But there were some simpler pleasures that really stood out. And we know that bringing up the few negative aspects will be about as welcome as listening to a movie star complain about how rough their life is…but since we hope all of you are working on planning your own trip, we thought we owed it to you to point out some potential hurdles. After all, being without a home and a job can at once be completely liberating and also a little unsettling.
Josh’s favorite things:
1. I had a constant smile on my face that I was not in Phoenix during the summer. No 115 degrees for me!
2. I do admit that I appreciate the amenities that the big city has to offer. I enjoy the various business opportunities and all the events and activities. However, my love for the outdoors supersedes all that fluff and camping almost every night for 90 days was a dream realized.
3. Everyday was like a new painting or professional photograph, such beautiful creation around every corner.
Aminda’s favorite things:
- Being able to hang out in a sports bra & tee every day. As well as not having to get fixed up, but rather just be casual and comfortable. Of course it was nice, every month or so, to get a little done up and feel feminine.
- Being a complete glutton of both food and sleep, both of which are totally satisfying after wonderfully long days of physical activity.
- Constant natural light and fresh air. It just feels good and invigorating.
- Having such a great partner to share the experience with. When backpacking in Europe (in my single days) it was just me and my journal. It’s wonderful to have a partner to make decisions with, laugh and share observations with. I love that Josh and I are taking so many inside jokes, stories and memories from this trip.
- Plenty of time (maybe too much) for reading fiction…something I haven’t done for the years it’s taken me to complete my master’s.
Aminda’s biggest challenges:
1. Lack of personal space. Public showers, public laundromats, public campgrounds.
2. Having our very limited personal space invaded. For the most part, we’re pretty quiet, keep to ourselves and try to be as respectful as possible of others. So it’s difficult for us when others seem to ignore our presence either when they themselves or their dog feels free to wander about in our campsite, or when their noise carries into our tent, long past standard quiet hours.
3. Lower standards of cleanliness. In addition to infrequent showering, dishes and clothes just never seem to be as clean as they are inside.
4. Food storage challenges. I’m pretty anal about minimizing waste (and, in turn, our trip expenses) so it was really difficult to see so much food spoil, spill or get scavenged by critters.
5. Wearing the same 3-4 outfits for three months gets old. Especially by the end of the trip when almost every clothing items has gotten torn.r.
Josh’s Biggest Challenges:
1. No a/c in the truck. Even though it was pretty cool during our trip, I really missed my Tacoma push-button a/c.
2. I love food. However, I do not love the same food everyday. This was not an ongoing problem and we came up with creative ways to have some new and creative meals.
3. It’s just weird when your vehicle is invaded by mice that do not leave, even for someone like me.
So, after all this time, we’ve learned a few things about living out of a car. Well, not that any of these are brand new concepts to us, but rather were basic principals that we’ve been reminded (the hard way) not to ignore.
1. Treat guidebooks like necessities not luxuries. Their detail saves time and headaches. Without guidebooks we found ourselves riding around in circles, mostly uphill for hours trying to navigate back to a trailhead, we would ride loops backwards, or we wouldn’t be able to find the trail or the crag at all.
2. Along those same lines, if you don’t have a guidebook be wary of trails that start with a descent. It’s too easy to keep moving forward downhill and lose track of the distance you’re going to have ride back out.
3. Avoid packing white clothes. It’s dirty out there.
4. Be wary of leaving the trailhead after a group of 15. (see our post from Idaho)
5. Be always deliberate about food storage. Keep everything in the truck at all times and even when food is in the truck, keep it in storage containers. Campground scavengers such as bears, squirrels, raccoons and mice are smart and savvy. Bears and coons recognize coolers by sight, not just smell. Mice and squirrels are tenacious and devious.