The Playa Palace Adventures Part 1 – Burning Man

Wow.  That was definitely the longest vacation of my life, or it felt like it, and it was still too short.  I’m not sure where to start but early memories are already dimming, so I’ll just start writing and remembering chronologically speaking.  Adding photos that I took with my phone, it will be a few days or more until my camera gets downloaded!

Thursday August 25

We were all packed up and flew to Reno Nevada! The night before was busy with packing, and as we were at Newark Airport, we started hearing about the hurricane.  Before that, I heard “blahblahblah hurricane blahblahblah florida” and that’s all I thought about it.  But it was Thursday or Friday that we heard about it hitting our area and hitting it hard – even being declared a state of emergency well before it was in range.  We were slightly panicked about this, as we didn’t expect it and had to ask our awesome friend who keeps our kitties company to move some of our balcony items to safety (more for the safety of others!)  Regardless, we made it through flying – no scan or grope, delays while we were on the plane, worries about making our connection in Phoenix, and relief that we wouldn’t have to fly home this time!

Our second leg from Phoenix to Reno was full of people going to the same destination as us, and as luck would have it we were seated by a local friend SusieQ – of course this leg always goes faster!

Landed in Reno, got our bags and a cab, and we were whisked away to our new home.  The sellers of the Playa Palace met us at the RV storage lot, gave us a once over of the most important things and walked us through hitching up.  All four of us crammed in the cab of the truck (who we affectionately nicknamed “Buddy” later in the trip) for the first drive over to the Grand Sierra Resort RV Park, then the sellers got a cab ride home from there. We were left to unhitch without any guidance, but it all went smoothly and soon we were set up for the next few days.  After grabbing a quick bite, we had to run over to my friend’s shop (Prism Magic in Sparks!) to grab bikes she lent us for Burning Man, as well as boxes I had shipped from NJ with bedding and other supplies.  One quick run to the Walmart next door (first of many!) and we had pillows and towels as well, and it was time for some much needed sleep after a quick bite at the resort.

Friday August 26

We slept fitfully in our new surroundings, and our first morning was bright – too bright!  We are not early risers, and I put on my expanding to-do list to buy some fabric to hang up in the windows.  I used velcro stickers to hang it up and it worked like a charm on the following mornings – until we got to Burning Man and the heat killed the stickiness!  (By then we were tinfoiling the windows, so we just kept the tinfoil in place ever since.  The bedroom was blissfully dark and cool!)

Anyway – that’s not the exact order of things.  We had a breakfast buffet that was scrumptious at the resort, and set out for shopping.  We shopped and shopped and shopped.  Mostly at Walmart. Groceries. Booze. Household essentials. I’ll come back with more detailed info if anyone can stand to hear about it when I have my travel organizer/notebook on hand… Eventually we took a break to enjoy ourselves at the resort pool and hot tub, and had a drink at the bar where the bartender from Florida tried to ease our worries as we watched the news coverage scaring everyone about the hurricane.

Pool & hottub break!  Biggest little city

(click any image to see it larger!)

We spotted the Technomads in their new vintage bus down the path from us in the RV park, not wanting to drop in we ended up having a twitter conversation where they invited us over after we crashed for the night! We didn’t catch up with them until we were on the playa.

One of our purchases was a handful of DVDs from the sale bin, as there’s a dvd player and tv in the Playa Palace – we enjoyed watching them in the evenings while we were hooked up to power, while making our own meals instead of eating out.

Saturday August 27

So Friday and Saturday are blurring at this point. Some things may be switched. I’ll come back to this with my book 😛  Oh we went back to Prism Magic to do some vital blinkie and costume shopping – keeping our awesome friend Lauren in business!

Sunday August 28

It’s D-Day! Departure day! We had become more familiar with the trailer at this point, and driving the truck on it’s own, but it was time to REALLY get used to driving it! We ran a few more errands for fresh produce, toiletries, and something from Home Depot.  Then it was time to hook up and head out.

On the road! Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

We skipped our usual route going through Sparks on Pyramid Way, for the less windy/scary drive along 80 to Wadsworth.  Normally my routine is to get an Indian taco on the way back, but we were hungry and needed some food so we stopped at Elaine’s taco stand.  I have to say, it was probably the best taco I’ve had out there!  Elaine was wonderful and chatted with us for a while before we had to keep on our path.  We also got free water bottles with ads for bail bondsmen and lawyers on it… Hmmm what are they trying to tell us???

Free water bottles. Just in case.

We were excited to see the general store in Empire The town that no longer exists was open, though we didn’t stop because space was tight and we (read: Random) are new to driving this trailer.  We did stop on the way out however! We got through Gerlach and off of pavement around 6 pm, and had about a 2.5 hour wait to get in and reach our campsite.

Waiting to enter burning man during sunset Burning man entry line

After a beautiful sunset, we reached camp in darkness and found our campmates, helping them set up then get the Playa Palace into place.  It was late and we were beat, so no parties that night – we crashed so that we could do more in the morning!

Monday August 29 – Monday September 5

You surely can’t expect me to remember what day things happened in a city where schedules mean nothing? 😛 I’ll tell you that Wednesday we volunteered with WDYDWYD project and it was our night to make dinner for our relaxed meal plan group of half the camp. Other than that, the Man burned Saturday, the Temple burned Sunday, and when anything else happened doesn’t matter – only that it did.

Since I mentioned it, I’ll hit it first – WDYDWYD. Why do you do what you do? It’s an ongoing project that people can submit photos to with their answer (ala Postsecret) but the heart of it occurs at Burning Man each year, since well, a few years ago (200-something). I always loved this project, and this time we signed up to participate – my husband as a conversationalist and myself as a photographer. It’s the first time I took my DSLR out to the playa (I insured it first!) and of course, the day of our shift was the ONLY dusty day out there! It came and went in gusts so it wasn’t a serious white out, I just kept my camera in a ziploc bag as much as possible between shots. We also managed to get campmates to participate on Sunday – I need to get those model releases and images submitted soon!

What else can I say… It was a blur at the time, let alone a month later. The weather was amazing – aside from a few REALLY brief whiteouts on Wednesday, we had only a little dust, it never got too hot, the first few nights were warm but got really chilly midweek. The playa surface in the past has been difficult to bike around in, but this year the surface was in great condition except for a few odd streets where the water trucks (to keep dust down) ended up creating more potholes than in all of NJ…

The art was outstanding, we didn’t see enough of it (always the case!). The temple was absolutely amazing, and we were so excited that the Gameltron (we experienced this twice at PEXfest) was at the heart of the temple – we had one visit where we just sat and meditated under the music.

Playadipity – (serendipity on the playa) – we got an art car ride for our camp (that broke down. 😛 of course) and it stopped at the metal forest.  While we were there, a new friend that I met at my cousin’s wedding ran into us! It’s the only time we saw her, and we weren’t at either of our camps.

One night, a camp mate said she knew of a local camp doing a onsie and whiskey party. I don’t drink that much whiskey, but I had a onesie (one piece pajamas), so I put it on and we set out. We wandered all over, and we were across from the camp at one point but didn’t know it. Which was fine, the fleece onsie was surprisingly comfortable – I wore a tank top underneath so when I was warm/dancing I didn’t wear the top part.  It wasn’t as comfortable when the temperatures dropped and I had to strip to use a portapotty! (Note to self: buy onesies with a trapdoor next time.)

So – I have to mention our friend leading us was dressed as Alice from Alice in Wonderland. At one point she stops at a random camp to ask about the party we’re looking for.  She’s chatting with two guys, and then one takes her into the back section of their camp – she assumed they were looking for a map – and a guy in our group followed after her. As the rest of us waited and were starting to get impatient, she shows up eventually saying she fell down a rabbit hole!!! They lead her into a crazy maze of structures, which eventually opened up to a bar/lounge that felt like the real thing and not just  a tent in the desert.  The guy who followed her (the preacher) ended up staying as we wandered on, but he took Random and I there later in the week. This was such a great set up, it really was a crazy maze of structures that ends in a lounge – there were walls, artwork, air conditioning, a stage for open mic/musicians, and more. Unfortunately it was empty when we were there, but the “rabbithole” and the story of how Alice stumbled in it is one of my favorites from this year!  It was on C around 2:45.

A block over from this was another amazing structure on B, a temple-esque looking building with a second story that had a rotating hanging bed/lounge.  Our second time we stopped there, there was a great DJ and I danced as long as I could before companions wanted to travel on. I don’t know much about it, looking for more info, but I heard the camp members were Russian, that they wanted to burn it, but didn’t have the ability to move it from the crowded city streets to open playa, and had no burn pad. I saw a photo but forgot to note where it is….

By the way, there are some great pics here (#9 features two of my awesome campmates :P)

So let’s see. We did a lot of hanging out at camp during the day, and kept trying to stay out all night. Never made it to sunrise though we saw the sky starting to lighten one night! Oh well, sleep is a beautiful thing too sometimes. We had a great time with our campmates, it was great to see some old friends and make some new ones! Our art car adventure was a blast, and we went prepared for it to break down even though our campmate Stiles can work some crazy magic with beer and ether….

We watched both the Man and Temple burns from a distance away – it’s a different experience, but still really nice to enjoy the quiet and spaciousness rather than being jam packed in there.

I really missed PEX and a stage for fire performers – seems like there was less fire (art and performance) out there this year.  Out of the honorarium art installations, we saw and liked Aurora the giant weeping willow (we managed to stand under it before it was fenced off, due to people stealing the beautiful copper leaves!), the Pier, the Wet Dream (a beautiful sight at night, with LED raindrops, umbrellas, and the sound of a thunderstorm!), and the amazing Temple. We both also loved the tesla coil that made music! And the giant flowers, that had some kind of digital display that we didn’t see in full production, but were amazing.

We had to leave at the worst possible time – we love being able to stay until Tuesday and skip the long lines, but we only planned one night in Reno before starting our trip home (which we delayed a day…) and thus we were stuck for 7.5 hours on the exodus line on Monday. The pulsing method was much better than inching along, we would move then stop for an hour or so, get out and meet neighbors and hang in the shade of the RV.  But it was a long day.

Since this is already a novel, I’ll leave you here for the time being. In part 2, I’ll talk about our road trip from Black Rock City back to New Jersey, and hopefully have my photos done and ready for you! Here are two albums from camp mates though to hold you over!



No news is eventually good news! Our first home!

All’s been quiet on the nomad front, at least from your point of view perhaps!  While longer term goals of becoming location independent were pushed to the back burner, we held to our original goal of 1) buy an RV and 2) get to Burning Man this year.  If we didn’t buy one, we couldn’t afford the trip as it would eat away at the funds for the RV.  While in past years we borrowed most things, including shelter and transportation from a generous friend, this year that wasn’t possible.  So it’s a darn good thing that we accomplished step 1! 😀

I wanted to blog when we thought we found our new home, but I didn’t want to jinx it or speak too soon.  And I would have spoken too soon, as that one slipped through our fingers to a seller who had cash on hand!  However, that led us to another lead we had ruled out early on.

We originally looked for a Class A or C RV, about 30′ in length, diesel to convert to WVO.  The one we almost bought was actually a fifth wheel trailer and diesel pick up truck – a number of things about the ad made it intriguing to us, and the logistics of vehicle and trailer grew on us.  When it fell through, we were looking at a short time frame to accomplish the impossible.

Our generous friend, who lives in Reno, had put out a call on the local Burning Man email list about our search.  One reply was a friend of hers whose father was selling a fifth wheel.  We ruled it out initially as we had our eye on a Class A or C, but when I came back to it with a new appreciation for the benefits of a fifth wheel, it only had one major drawback.  The pickup truck is gas, not diesel.

We didn’t have time before Burning Man to purchase a trailer and tow vehicle separately and figure out hitches ourselves, so we made the decision to consider this opportunity with the idea of upgrading the truck to diesel later on.

The more we talked to the seller, the better things sounded.  This one was much larger than the one that slipped away, so it’s much more suitable for living or traveling long term!  It didn’t have some of the bonuses the first one had (already had a dish for internet service), and it would need a generator and upgrade to electrical system for extensive boondocking or living, but the price was lower allowing us to budget more for improvements as we go.  It does have solar panels though!  It’s been with one owner who is meticulous about keeping records and original paperwork – the owners manual binder includes notes they asked the dealer when they originally bought it!

Through the help of our network of burners, we had the Trailerburn* crew do a visit in person to check it out on our behalf.  We got a big thumbs up, and thus we dived into purchasing a trailer and pickup truck in Reno, sight unseen!

* If you need any assistance with buying or renting a trailer in the Reno or CA area, please look these guys up! Good people!

Well, not unseen, but we have only seen photos.  And so here we are.  As of last week, we are the proud new owners of “The Palace” as her former owners called her – we may be renaming her the Playa Palace, but we’ll see what sticks!  We are flying into Reno on August 25, making the Palace our home while we prep for the burn, driving out there for the week and then driving across the country home to New Jersey!

In the meantime, I’ve been shipping bedding and supplies to Reno to furnish the Palace, and we have the joys of DMV we still have to finish — we went on Friday but they RAN OUT of license plates, so no new car registrations!  Seriously, they did.  Everyone I tell is shocked 😛  A big box of plates had severe water damage, and over 1,000 plates were stuck together to the point where they are unusable.  Cross your fingers that this week goes smoother (did I mention we finalized the sale just as Mercury went into retrograde? Oh yeah…)

We’re planning our route across the country home – we don’t want to be on Route 80 the whole time, but have our eye on the Badlands of South Dakota, the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, and who knows what else.  If you have suggestions, please share!

Without further ado, here’s the Palace! It’s a 2001 Alumascape 33SKT by Holiday Rambler with a 1995 Dodge Ram 2500.

Palace June 2008.JPG

Image 1

Image 2rev

YES IT HAS A KITCHEN ISLAND! Can you tell how excited I am about that?

Image 3rev

Image 4rev


Image 6rev

Image 9rev


33SKT only


So, a huge thanks to everyone who helped us in any way – from giving advice, to inspecting RV’s on our behalf, to handing off the check to the seller, and to the seller himself for being a fantastic guy! We promise to treat the Palace well and have some great adventures with her 😀

If you are coming to the burn, be sure to visit us at camp New Jersey in the 4:30 Plaza.  Ask for Hunnybear and Random or come knock on the Playa Palace door!


Just as I realized how this project is redefining what a home is, it also has me examining our life in terms of sustainability.  I don’t mean our carbon footprint, I don’t mean taking steps to be organic and reduce our impact on natural resources.

Our dream to be sustainable nomads really hits home the point of what is sustainable about our lives.  For me, staying in the traditional path (work hard just to take a 2 week vacation and buy expensive toys for our free time) is becoming less and less sustainable.  I love my life, but if certain things stayed the same until retirement age, I wouldn’t make it that long.

We went through an odd period of planning for this project (ironically right after my post on fear), and it made us rethink each step.  We don’t know what the final goal will be, or if it will change several times.  Actually I expect it to.  But we stopped when we both felt we were spinning our wheels and said (of ourselves and each other) – what do we want?  What do we want to change in our current situation? What kinds of ways could this project end up that could be considered a failure (as not sticking to the original plan) but we could see being a sustainable lifestyle in terms of our happiness and accomplishment?

One of my biggest fears is not finishing something.  I’ve started many things in life, only to run off to do something else before it’s done.  I feel a pressure (from who?) to see things through to the end, but I need to admit when the end may not be the best solution.  I now see this journey not as one big “do it all or else we fail” – that would just be setting ourselves up for failure.  I see it as a long term goal or guideline, but recognize that it’s the direction we move towards rather than the distance we travel that matters.

After our analysis of the state of the project and our commitment to it, we both felt that our topmost priority remains the same.  Purchase an RV, convert it to WVO, and drive to Burning Man this year.  Where we go beyond that, no one knows yet.  However we do know that pursuing this is helping us to change our lives into a more sustainable lifestyle – meaning spiritually, financially, socially, ecologically, and in terms of our life happiness.  (I couldn’t find an -ly word for that! :P)  We’ve also taken the next big step in the project, which is getting loan info from the bank – we now have a budget to work with!  It’s not a large budget, but we don’t want to go deeply into debt or have monthly payments that we can’t meet.  Luckily, I have a hankering to redecorate/renovate and Nathan is a tinkerer who wants to learn more hardcore DIY.  Somewhere out there, there is a Class A or Class C motorhome with a diesel engine calling our name!

Dig Deep

Those that know me well, know that I never hesitate to recommend sites or products I enjoy – I love helping entrepreneurs and small creative businesses get more coverage, and I love helping friends find them as well.  Today is a new venture, for the first time I signed up to be an affiliate!  While this is an opportunity for my blogging to pay back some of my expenses from buying too many domains and e-courses, I want to promise you this.  I will never be an affiliate for a product that I wouldn’t recommend for free.  So all fears of selling out aside, let me tell you a little of this story.

At some point, I stumbled on this blog called The Organic Sister.  It may have been the hooping that made our paths cross, or it may have been my searching after my husband and I got a hankering to do what her family did.  Tara, with her husband and son, live and travel in an RV converted to waste veggie oil. (They just sold their old rig and now have a truck running on WVO and a fifth wheeler!)  I think it was the hooping actually that led me there first, and I subscribed to the blog once we started thinking about the RV.  Over the past year or so that I’ve read it, I’ve enjoyed our many common interests in travel, sustainable technologies, and more.

She started Sustainable Baby Steps and Organic Life Coaching, and she had a lovely email conversation with me about RVs on WVO.   I’ve enjoyed getting to know her a bit better, and when she did a pre-launch of her latest efforts, I jumped right on board.

Click for more info! (Affiliate link)

I read the first two chapters and skimmed the rest, but I can’t wait to really dig deep into this project.  That was enough intro for me to sign up for the affiliate program.  I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but Tara’s approach and style are the perfect fit for me.  Her methods are clearer steps to those I started learning to do on my own (or, as influenced by the many sources in my life) – recognizing and identifying my emotions, and gently taking the time to figure out the sources for those emotions.  She goes further than I ever did on my own, and her workbook exercises really help you to, well, dig deep into understanding ourselves and growing in a positive way.

She’ll walk you through the ways to change your mindset about a situation, and therefore the whole situation, without any of the new-age “The Secret” hype – she’ll have you getting your hands dirty digging in your cobwebbed corners.  But she leads you there gently, with guidance and support, because she’s been there herself.  This workbook, taken seriously, could easily be worth more than a year in therapy!  She can’t fix all your problems (newsflash – no ebook or ecourse can! :P) but she is giving you all the tools and support for you to do so.

If you are struggling with any kind of blocks or unhappiness in your life, and know that if you could change your outlook you’d be able to overcome it… If you are willing to go all “Mythbusters” on yourself, doing experiments to determine which of your habits/expectations are plausible (reasonable) and which are busted (unreasonable and unhelpful, based on past experiences and not truth)…  If you can’t afford therapy, and want to take your soul/spirit on a coffee date, hold its hand, ask how it feels and what you can do to make it happier…  If you want to dig deep, Tara is the perfect person to guide you on this journey.

I’ll be working through it myself, so I invite you to dig deep along with me.  Feel free to connect with me by leaving a comment or contacting me off blog if you wish to talk more about it!

This icon and link will stay in my sidebar to the right – to support our blog (all proceeds will be going directly to our Sustainable Nomads venture!) you have to click this link.

Travel versus Vacation

I haven’t had much to blog about here lately, as other life projects and twists or turns have a habit of getting in the way of our project!  (We’re also a little stuck in the fear/what step do we do next loop!)  I’m trying to accept it, and glad we didn’t set a hard departure date yet – it would have been possible, but we would have given up so much of what’s currently important in our lives at the moment.  It will be tough to balance doing everything we want in the busy summertime and still get the bigger picture tasks done, but it may be our last summer here for a while.  We are still sticking to the main goal of buying an RV, converting to WVO, and driving it to Burning Man this year – and just taking everything else as it comes.

Without much progress, it’s hard to find something to talk about!  However a tweet and blog post by the Technomads was a great jumping point for a topic today – they are leaving St. John where they stayed for the winter, and talk about how nomadic travel is different than a vacation.

The differences are the same reason that I want to live in an RV and explore – without changing locations daily or weekly, rather than the usual work hard and take two weeks off to travel somewhere every year.  Vacations are wonderful, and many destinations have popular tourist attractions for a reason.  If you spend only a few days in a city, I’m sure even locals will say you can’t miss famous landmarks during your visit.  The thing is, you get to know the landmarks – you don’t truly get to know the city or area, or the people who live there, in doing this.

I was lucky enough to spend a semester of college in Nottingham, England.  It was my first trip out of the country (except for visits to Canada and the Caribbean), and the first significant journey I took on my own, though I traveled there with some fellow classmates.  For about 5 months, I lived there and went to “uni” among Americans and Brits during the week, and traveled with the Americans on weekends.

While we had our share of tourist sights, my fondest memories are not of the Robin Hood Museum, the castles, the cathedrals, the museums.  Being immersed completely for that long really lets you find the hidden gems – a favorite secluded restaurant, picnicking at the lake on campus, meeting people and having the chance to see them often.

The thought of living constantly on the move is not appealing to me, though I know it is for some nomads.  The intrigue for me is being able to stop, anywhere and everywhere, for as long or as briefly as we want.  We expect to spend weeks or possibly even months having a home base, making further excursions as we want to explore.  We will have to balance time spent on work with time getting to know the area, but part of the beauty is in developing new daily routines that introduce us to locals and their favorite places.

Some, if not most, of the most amazing places our world has to offer are off the beaten path.  A simple cross country drive would not allow us the time to truly get to know the people and areas we pass through.  I can’t wait to explore America on a deeper level!


Pushing Past the Fear

I want to write about this a bit today, for a few reasons.  I crawled out of 4 days of a nasty head cold and avoiding the internet, and already in my catching up a bunch of great blog posts are related to this in one way or another.  Also, today is a day the fear is small, so it’s a good day to talk about how to keep it from winning.  Apologies in advance for being too rambly or confusing, we’ll just blame the cold medicine if I am!

I was thrilled to see some comments coming in from a guest post I wrote on a site that’s not live yet – it’s in beta testing until Sunday – and that’s what has me excited.  And already I see comments that sound like they could be me, in the past or even now – saying “Oh I wish I could do that! But I could never because……”  Whether our dream adventure is something they truly want or just briefly fantasize about (hey I’ve done that a lot with adventures that are not meant to be mine! It’s fun to pretend!), I hear the fear.  It’s my fear too.

Changing our dream to a goal last year did not get rid of that fear.  It probably added to it.  For every ounce of excitement, sometimes there’s a pound of fearful voices in my head.  How will we afford this?  How will the cats adapt?  How will WE adapt?  How will I ever downsize enough to do this?  What about when we break down? What about health insurance? The questions are endless.  Sometimes they are loud enough to paralyze me, to convince me that this won’t happen.

But you know what?  We aren’t doing anything new.  New to us, sure, but it’s been done before and people survived to talk about it!

The last time I remember this kind of fear was before my first trip to Burning Man.

I heard about it and thought, “That’s amazing! I would LOVE to do that, but I NEVER could camp in the desert!!!” The next year, the same person who brought it my attention the year before posted again that tickets were on sale.  She offered that anyone on our online forum could stay at her house in Reno, and get a ride out to the event.  I bought a ticket, saying to myself that I could resell it up until I bought the plane ticket.

The fears continued.  I was about to go to a stranger’s house, and then go camping with her.  Knowing the kind of questions my mother would ask and worry about, I did my best to research.  I talked with a friend from the forum that I knew in person, who had met my future host in person.  She does exist, she doesn’t appear to be an axe murderer, enough people know her and I that I felt a little better.  I read the survival guide cover to cover.  I asked her a million questions. I flew into Reno, and we immediately bonded and started a wonderful friendship (which, by the way, culminated in her officiating our wedding last fall!)

That fear aside, the moment that scared me the most was when we first glimpsed Black Rock City through the dust.  I was going to be here for a week, there was no escape if it got too dusty or hot or weird.  It was also the most exciting moment.

Not only did I survive, I went back again and again.  And I realized that no matter how loud the fears in my head were, there was a voice saying “Yes. Yes, it’s risky and dangerous, but you must do this!”  I am so glad I listened to that voice.  I did it when I said I’d never be able to spin fire, and went on to learn despite that fear.

So here I am again.  Listening to the voices of fear.  But now I know how to deal with them!

1) Research.

We fear the unknown most of all.  Reading up on it won’t spoil all the surprises, but it will give you an arsenal of knowledge of what can go wrong, how to try to avoid it, and how to fix it when it does.  Listen to those who have done it  before, and read a lot of first time accounts!

Recommended Reading: Specific for RV full-timing, I can’t recommend this enough – the Technomad’s “Answers to the Common Excuses to Not Travel Full-Time” is available for pay-what-you-will.  Their years of experience answers the biggest questions you’ll have, and we are taking much of their advice to heart!

2) Be responsible.

For me, this is also the “How are you going to convince your mother that you won’t die” approach.  I love my mom, and love her asking all these questions because even though it’s not fun to think about, it helps prepare a safety net.  It’s the keeping your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.

Come up with plans about the major pitfalls you may hit.  They aren’t reasons NOT to do it, they are just reasons to do it with care.  We could quit our jobs tomorrow if we had an RV in our hands and just take off, but we would not be ready to face even minor problems without turning tail and heading home being homeless.  We have so many uncertainties, especially without a mobile business going yet, that an escape plan and enough money to relocate on a moment’s notice is crucial for us.

There will be dangers, but they probably won’t be much worse than the ones you face today.  Even the most dangerous hobbies, like fire spinning, can be approached with common sense and reduce your risks of being hurt.  But there is absolutely no promise that following the “safe” path will keep you safe – so you may as well be doing what you love, not what you hate!

Being Practical Isn’t All That Great – one of my nomadic mentors, The Organic Sister, tells it straight about why practical or playing it safe won’t always get you what you want.


Get inspired by others success stories!  If you’ve read too much about the worst going wrong, stop, and read about things going right.  Have faith that as long as you have half a brain, some AAA coverage, a little savings, and a good support network of family and friends – everything will work out, even if it’s not as you expected. Maybe some of those successes came easily to others, but I’m sure the majority faced the same fears you are – and overcame them.

“I’m not here to chase my dreams, I’m here to live them.” A great post on Roots of She to get you out of dream mode and into goal mode!

The Flip Side of Unconventional – It may take more work, but it’s worth it for a life worth living.

Chris Guillebeau has a treasure trove of blog posts, e-books, and courses to inspire a life of non-conformity – I first read his “A Brief Guide to World Domination” (free) and most recently his book “The Art of Non-Conformity

For a great kick in the pants, ride the wild donkey with Leonie!

4) Find community.

No matter how outrageous and crazy you think your idea is, you probably aren’t alone.  Once you start looking, you may be astonished at how large the community already is – we are surprised to find out just how many others have done or are planning the same thing as us!  When being the risk-taker or dream chaser among the naysayers is wearing you out, find like-minded people to rejuvenate you and help you along your journey.

For RVers, there are some links to communities in the right sidebar.  If your passion is something else, google the hell out of every term you can think of and you’ll be sure to find your people!

Fear is healthy, in small doses, but don’t let it get the best of you.  When you feel the urge to keep going despite that fear, when it’s something that you are passionate about pursuing, don’t let anything stop you!

Back to school!

First, a big welcome to anyone who stopped by our new little home here since we created it!

Obviously, we are still growing and building this blog as we plan our adventure, but I’m a little excited to admit that we may get more publicity soon.  The first post on this blog was actually written and submitted to a new site that launches February 28th – I’ll share more about it on that day!

The other exciting news is that we enrolled in the Digital Nomad Academy!  They just launched and offered a great opportunity for the first class to save some money and provide feedback on their course.  The timing was just right, the price was just right, and then a tweet by the Technomads endorsing the course pushed us into action, and we are so glad it did.

Generating an income while we are on the road is really what will make this not an extended vacation but a lifestyle choice, allowing us to stop when we want and not when the funds dictate.  Nathan has an advantage here, as working in computers is often done remotely.  I have to figure out which of my skills are most marketable as a nomad, but I expect I may have several sources of work rather than just one. I hope to get money from my photography one day, but I’m aware of the struggles photographers face and I won’t have a “local” client base.

Our first exercise has us looking at our ideal schedule for work, social, and personal activities.  Unlike most (all?) of the other students, there are two of us working together – so we created ideal schedules which had meal times and family times coinciding as a framework.  I was really surprised that when it comes down to it, our ideal schedules are VERY close to our current ones – except for working a lot less hours, and filling in that time with hobbies, fitness, or even possible income generating hobbies such as my photography.

Of course, I expect actually starting our own business will take similar time commitments as our existing jobs, but the point of the exercise was an IDEAL schedule.  It was enlightening to see just how much time there is in a day when you get rid of the 40 hour work week. While I think I want lots of “do nothing” time, I felt the desire to make most hours of the day count – just in an entirely different way than I currently do!

It’s not that I don’t currently have those same blocks of evening time free, but that with my current job, I come home weary and low on motivation.  This journey – building a business and living in an RV – will take a lot of time and work, but the goal is to make it more meaningful and personal work, with greater rewards beyond just a paycheck.

I’ll be sure to share our experiences with the DNA here and some of the results from our exercises.  But the thought I leave you with today will be the ones we just faced –

What would your ideal schedule be?  Would you work Monday through Friday?  How many hours of actual work would be ideal, assuming you have to do something? (For us, it was around 20-22 hours each!)  What habits are most important or nourishing to you? (One of my favorite things was scheduling in a big breakfast on the weekends, I love a relaxed morning to sleep in and cook up a huge meal!)

Most importantly, how could changing an hour or two of your current schedule make it closer to your ideal schedule?  You may feel stuck and like you have no control, but I bet you can find at least 1 hour a week to do something that really nourishes you and fuels your spirit.

Even if it’s an unexpected free 10 minutes, I challenge you to take a deep breath and ask yourself what you need in that moment.  It may be to sit and do nothing, to have a cup of tea, cuddle with a pet, or do jumping jacks.  If you could do ANYTHING you wanted for the next 10 minutes, what would it be?

I give you permission to go do it, and to feel guilt-free about it.  Maybe not NOW, but as soon as you have a few moments free.  You are worth those few minutes, and oh so much more, simply for being here, for being you, and doing ALL that you do to survive.  Enjoy it!!

Bonus points: Make this a daily or weekly routine, each time choosing the activity (or inactivity) that resonates with what you need or want the most.





Redefining “home”

Long before we got married, I felt that home was anywhere as long as I was with my (now) husband.  We have the homes we grew up in, the homes where our parents are today, our homes of temporary community (at Burning Man and the regional burn, Playa Del Fuego, where we met)…  We live in the apartment that I rented over 8 years ago, but have yet to feel the need to own a house despite it being expected as the next traditional step.  I never expected to stay there that long, and though I stayed, I relished the freedom to be able to leave without the obligations of property ownership.

The urge to get up and go on a grand adventure never left, and now I feel that the reason I stayed this long was to meet – and marry – my adventure partner.  Last year we changed our mindset of it being a dream to a g0al, and as we wrap up wedding related tasks (and get those thank you notes sent out), we are plotting and planning together.

We have our vague goals – to travel, to experience some other regional burn events, to visit far away friends and family.  And we have enough specific goals to guide us in how and why – we want to own an RV, convert it to more sustainable technologies (waste veggie oil, solar power, composting toilet), learn how to build fully sustainable housing and apply that knowledge to the RV.  The plan is to live full-time in the RV for as long as we want/can afford, likely 1-2 years.

The hard part of planning is just starting.  It’s time to talk budgets and loans, determine what we want to buy, put plans in motion for ways to make money while being location-independent.  Yet the more we plan, the more we realize how possible this really is for us.  It will take time, and a lot of hard work, but there’s no reason we can’t!

Some of the best advice we found was to set a launch date and stick to it – we aren’t quite doing that yet, though we have a concrete goal.  We plan to buy an RV by August, and take it to Burning Man this year.  Ideally, we’d return to finish the transition to full-timing immediately, but until we figure out the financing and make a purchase, we accept that we may return to our full time work for a bit after that trip.  It will be a harsh test run for the vehicle, and there may be modifications and renovations that should occur after rather than before living in the dust for a week.  We hope to be departing in 2011, but will reassess the schedule once we purchase the RV.

Last weekend, we went to a local RV show to tour different models and types in person.  It was exciting and overwhelming, but we ended up with a fairly clear idea of what would suit our needs.  (We don’t NEED a fireplace or huge flatscreen and kitchen on the outside of the RV, which is good as we can’t quite afford those models!) As excited as I am to find our vehicle and renovate/redecorate to make it ours, it wasn’t until my husband said this at the show that it really sunk in.

We are buying our first home!

It’s unconventional, it’s not permanent, there’s no 30 year mortgage because we don’t expect to be in it for more than a couple of years, but it will truly be our home.  And the best part is that it will go wherever we want to go.  It’s going to be fantastic!


Ready to follow along our journey?  We’ll be blogging the transition and planning process and share what we learn with you.  Even if you have no interest in the full-time RV lifestyle, almost everything we learn will be applicable to traditional homes and cars.  We have a few good habits about living sustainably, but I fully admit we are a long way off from where we’d like to be.  We’ll share our struggles and our triumphs, and hope to inspire and educate others along the way.

It’s our biggest adventure yet, and we can’t wait to share it with you!