The days leading up to our departure in Costa Rica I began anticipating the transition of being back in the States. I wasn’t sure what to expect, we hadn’t been gone too long, only about three months, but during those three months we were fully immersed into different cultures, different lifestyles, and a completely new view on life and what is important. It definitely took me two or three days to find a rhythm once we arrived in Wisconsin, but that could have been due to jet-lag and exhaustion caused by 40 hours of non-stop travel. Some things did take a bit to get used to, little things I wouldn’t have even considered while traveling were rather noticeable once we arrived back. Things such as: having access to a hot shower whenever I please, toilet paper being flushed down the toilet instead of thrown away, grocery stores’ products being in English, signs being in English, people speaking English, not having to pack up my things every day or so, and the consistency caused by sleeping in the same place every night. All these small daily changes were definitely noticed after a few days of our time back in the US. But as a whole, the transition for me was a positive one, rather than difficult or negative. I have found myself pleasantly surprised by the subtle changes in my demeanor and view on life. It’s a bit hard to put into words, but there have been a few situations that cause me to realize subtle changes in my being that I will share.
A couple days after arriving in Wisconsin we spent some time over at Kyle’s grandparent’s house. While there Kyle’s mother, grandmother, and I went on a golf cart ride around their property. We visited the vegetable garden, the flower garden, and just spent some time driving through the grass and around the perimeter of the wood line. During our excursion on the golf cart I found myself fully immersed into what we were doing. Patti, Kyle’s mom, and I hopped off the golf cart for a second to pick some asparagus and while we were doing that, it was as though there was nothing else going on in the world. My entire consciousness focused onto the asparagus and the conversation we were having. While we visited the flower garden I saw a small butterfly flying around some of the big flowers and I noticed it with my entire being. During all this I felt a deep feeling of peace and relaxation. That same sort of situation has happened multiple times a day since we arrived- I find myself much more present in each moment than I ever have been before, without particularly trying. Mindfulness is something I have been working on for almost a decade now, but it hasn’t been until these last two weeks that I have had so many moments in a day where the rest of the world fades away and I focus all my attention and energy on what is in front of me without consciously trying to do so. And with each one of these experiences I feel that deep sense of calm and tranquility come over me, which causes an even deeper mindfulness. It has been absolutely lovely. I don’t think that there is one specific reason for this, but rather a much larger spectrum of events and realizations caused by the last year of traveling.
The trip we took down the Mississippi and into the Gulf in SOLVI and then onward on the tandem bicycle created a huge sense of confidence and fulfillment that has bled onto every aspect of my life. The fact that Kyle and I made a decision one day, 18 months before we even left, to make it from Wisconsin to Florida by man power and then actually did it, despite all the challenges and “outs” presented to us along the way, is something I am proud of. I find myself feeling a sense of achievement that we did exactly what we put our minds to. Since we made it back from that journey whenever something is presented to me, even if it sounds challenging, scary, or difficult, if I want to do it, I know that I can. I now fully believe with every fiber of my being that we can do whatever we put our minds to. That with our thoughts we create our world, and whatever we want in this world is ours to have if we are willing to put in the work, effort, and time to achieve it. So with that new revelation created by our time in SOLVI we said YES to the voyage from Florida to California. And just as with SOLVI, we didn’t arrive at the “final destination” the way we had planned, but what I have learned along the way is that, that isn’t the point! Had we not have made the decision to make it from Wisconsin to Florida in SOLVI, we would have just stopped when we reached the Gulf of Mexico and would have missed out on the offshore experience and the tandem bike experience, both of which were wonderful. And just as with the journey on High Climber, had we not thought we were going to make it to California, I would have never made it as far as I did. And that is what I have figured out, it was never about getting from point A to point B. It was about leaving point A and enjoying the journey along the way, regardless of where it ends or what it leads to. I need a “point A to point B” plan in order to have the courage and determination to leave in the first place, but the experiences along the way are what really matter.
Our trip on High Climber was by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. The sea conditions and thus the living conditions on the boat were really difficult for me. There were moments where I was so incredibly uncomfortable due to malaise caused by sea sickness, hot and sweaty caused by summer in the tropics, scared because of the high seas, and full of anxiety because I wanted to get off the boat but was 200 miles from the nearest land and still had 4 days left of open sea. During these moments I felt like jumping off the boat and swimming away (to where I have no idea?). I felt like screaming, crying, anything to relieve the discomfort I was feeling. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do any of these things, I had to continue on. I had to get up, force food and water down my throat, put on somewhat dry clothes, communicate with my crew members, and then concentrate while on the helm so I could keep us and the boat safe during my shift. Being forced to rise when all I wanted to do what curl up in a ball, caused me to delve deep into myself, into my soul as it felt, and find strength. No one could give me strength in those moments except for myself. Kyle was there every step of the way, and he helped in any way he could, but in reality during those dark moments all I had was myself and I was forced to face myself and push forward. Which is exactly what I did and in doing so I learned and grew and found love for myself that I hand’t found before. Once it was over, I was filled with honor and self-respect that I continued on and didn’t give up, despite the harsh conditions.
The self-worth and self-love that I found in myself during those tough times bled into another part of me and allowed me to grow in a completely different area. I have always struggled with standing up for myself and standing my ground and saying exactly how I feel, especially to people who I am not extremely close with. But ever since those tough days on the boat, that is no longer. It is like it just faded away and I now am able to say how I feel, regardless of who I am talking to. I have learned to push past the discomfort and fear caused by disagreements that I used to carry, and let it go. There have been a few situations that upset me and instead of keeping quiet or whispering to Kyle about it later, I opened my mouth, spoke up for myself, and told the person how I felt. And you know what? It worked! In fact, in one of the situations I had the person come up to me a little bit later and say “Thank you for telling me how you felt and how it is rather than just being upset and letting it linger. I like when people put their foot down and I needed to hear it, thank you.” It made us closer and I felt SO much better. It was awesome.
Not only have I grown as a person because of what I have gone through during our travels, but also from what I have seen and experienced. Our time in Central America was very eye-opening for me, and I feel as though my view on various parts of life have changed a bit. I used to feel like the United States was the greatest country, and that I would like to live here for the rest of my life. And while I still feel as though it is a GREAT country, I no longer believe it is the greatest. I no longer believe any one country is greater than another. While we only visited 5 countries so my views are still very narrow in terms of the world, I do feel as though I was able to see a variety of cultures and ways of living. I could write pages on all the different things I saw and learned, but to avoid a ramble, I will stick with what was the most influential. People are good! It’s that simple for me. I understand there are bad people and bad things that happen, I am not naïve to that, but the reality is that during our last year of travel, all people have been good to us. They are kind, nice, caring, helpful, and each individual person is a teacher in their own way. We need to stop separating ourselves from other people, other cultures, other races, other countries; there is just so much to learn, so much to see, and so much good out there. Also, I saw and met many people who would be considered living in “poverty” if they were placed in certain parts of the United States, but in my opinion these people weren’t living in poverty. These people were living in joy. They were living intimately with their environment, and thus appreciated and respected Mother Earth fully. It was amazing and caused me to want to live in a similar manner. In simplicity! Anyway, my eyes were opened to the fact that we are all just trying to live and enjoy this life, and regardless of what country we are in, we can all relate in some way. I want to spend my life living, not merely existing, and for me that means meeting people, seeing new places, and treating everyone in between as an equal that can teach me something.
With all these new realizations and understandings slowly coming to light as I move through my days since returning, I have actually really enjoyed the transition. I have found myself with a deeper sense of contentment and fulfillment than ever before. The small things that would usually cause me worry or stress no longer impact me negatively. Instead I do what I can and I do my best, and then I let it go. If it is out of my control, I let it go. It’s funny, for years I meditated on this quote: “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway” and now, without even realizing I have learned to do just that. It is delightful and freeing. It doesn’t mean I am not motivated. It doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, pay my bills, and participate in society, it just means that I don’t feel stressed about it. If I have done everything I can, then it’s time to let go.
All that being said, the last few weeks here in Wisconsin have been delightful! They have been spent enjoying time with family, camping down by the river, boating, seeing old friends, playing catch for hours with the dogs, and really relaxing. Oh and lots of good food! We even have a rather big project going on, and we still have found a lot of time to relax. It’s been wonderful.4th of July Dinner- missing Kyle’s sister Riley in the picture! Camping on the St. Croix River was beautiful and made us miss SOLVI.
Okay well I only intended to write a paragraph or two about our transition, but 4 pages later here I am introducing what I meant to on the first page- the Teardrop Trailer! For those of you who don’t know what they are, a Teardrop Trailer is “a streamlined, compact, lightweight travel trailer, which gets its name from it’s teardrop profile. They usually only have sleeping space for two adults and often have a basic kitchen in the rear” (wiki). And that is exactly what we are building. We had towed SOLVI up here to Wisconsin from Florida behind my Mazda3 and when we left on the river trip we left the trailer and the Mazda in Kyle’s parent’s barn. Now that we are here and road tripping back to Florida, we really didn’t want to tow an empty trailer all the way to Florida. So what better remedy to that problem than to build something else to put on the trailer! Kyle’s parents, Patti and Rick, have been absolutely amazing and are very involved and excited about the Teardrop project. So not only have they lended us their garage, all their tools, and purchased a variety of things for the trailer, but they have also spent hours and hours helping us work on it- particularly Rick. We are now about a week and a half into the project, and it is going quite well. To get a better understanding of what it is we are building I have attached photos with captions explaining the processes. I’ll continue to post updates about the build and we are attempting to make a little video of the process once we are finished.
It’ll probably take us about a week longer to finish the teardrop, and then we will be ready for our road trip back to Florida via Utah. We will leave Wisconsin mid July and arrive in Florida mid August. I am really excited for the road trip. After a year of traveling by boat, oar, and bicycle a road trip sounds extremely simple and easy haha Well, life is good! Enjoy fully. Namaste.
Kyle cutting the floors to fit the trailer. This is what will attach to the trailer. The support beams that line up with the trailer.Adding insulation to the floor. Rick helping us cut and weld the trailer to make the axel a bit bigger. Thanks Rick!!!Kyle and Rick measuring the inside panel and getting ready to cut out the door. Planing the floor sides to make sure they are even. Doing a single coat on the inside- this will be covered in insulations and another panel, but a varnish coat helps protect the wood. This is mostly mine and Patti’s job! Brody is always helping 🙂 Kyle cutting out the door. He designed all the curves and shapes. Sides and support beams up! Hard to imagine right now, but that rectangle in front of me is our future closet. A picture from google to sort of demonstrate what we are building. Ours will be much different, but generally the same idea.
**I’m posting this more than a week after writing it- the teardrop is coming along great!! Has a ceiling, side insulation, a sink, and much more. Will post an update soon 🙂 **