“All Who Wander Are Not Lost”

The other day I sniffed the air, opened my eyes wide, and leaped…into a world I have always wanted to own.

Yes, own.

For years I slept in an ancient army-surplus mummy bag, stuffed with feathers that stuck into your skin and made sleep a chore.  It was definitely not waterproof.

Eventually I graduated to a fifth-hand Eureka pup-tent, which I still own.  I found it last year when some workers were taking down an old house, and it was stashed away in a corner of the attic.  I gave my truly amazing Marmot four-season mountain tent to my son, along with the really excellent down bag I haven’t used in years and years.  He does use them.  He’s in that part of his life.  One day maybe he’ll pass them along to his own daughter or son.

So I, longing to own the road rather than be owned by it, have acquired a small camper van.  It has everything I need in it, unlike the barn I have been occupying for the last several years.  It has a tiny but functional bathroom, complete with tiny but functional shower.  It has a large back seat that converts into a king-size bed.  A king-size bed!  Maybe I need another dog.  Noga would never forgive me, though….that mass of blonde hair is Noga.  She’s 13 pounds of fierce.

20130319_221249I have been asking myself, truly, is this the life you want?  To purposely NOT have a home?  And the answer is always a resounding YES!  I need a break.  I need a break from fucking everything.  To be able to pick up and amble my way to New Mexico, Colorado…Boulder, such an interesting patchwork community….and I want to see the Redwoods.  I lived in America for 54 years and never saw the Redwood trees in Northern California!  What’s up with that?  I guess it just wasn’t time yet.

If you asked me if I plan to be a gypsy for the rest of my life, today I would say no.  Tomorrow, who knows?  I don’t want to be constrained by time.  Geography is a bit of a challenge for me, as I really would rather be gypsying in Israel.  That, however, is not only physically impossible, it is outright dangerous at this moment.  This breaks my heart.  My constitution is not set up for war.

So, no, I have no idea where this is going, where and when and how long it will take me…but it will be a liberation for me, a throwing off of all obligation and responsibility.

I’m already finding others who live on the road–mostly people like myself, who have had enough of working their brains out for–what?  A fancy house?  Even a not-fancy house?  There was a time when a fancy or not-fancy house looked mighty good to me, when I was outside huddling in my not-water-proof feather bag.  Now people of my generation are saying good-bye, so long, farewell to permanence, and have formed a loosely knit family of choice, meeting up at campgrounds or by a lake, or any place they choose.  I guess we’ve regressed, hit the road again–the Woodstock Generation gone to seed.

I’m going to try it and see what it’s like.  I’m a solitary person–this way if I want a little human company, I know where to find it; and if I want solitude, well, that’s everywhere to be had.

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36 Comments

  1. im happy for you. i think it will suit you well. im thinking of the same thing in 18 months. or maybe a trailer instead. but then again maybe costa rica?

    Reply
    • Costa Rica is amazing. Especially if you speak Spanish and have a good ear. They speak a dialect called Tico, and they call themselves Ticos. I hung out in CR for a few weeks and loved it! That was in 2004. Maybe they’ve improved the roads since then…used to be a joke: how do you know if a Tico is drunk? He drives straight. (The potholes in the road could accommodate an oxcart). I’d go back in a second. Let me know when you plan to leave:-D

      Reply
  2. Laura, terrific news! Well, maybe it’s the Woodstock Generation full speed ahead. I don’t see any going backwards! There’s places in every state to park that camper van. Photos would be nice and blog posts of your adventures! Safe and happy travels! Christine

    Reply
    • Thanks, Christine! I think that after I get over the sticker shock from the camper I might invest in a really decent camera to go with it….Oh yeah, I forgot…my computer is slowly expiring…priorities….

      Reply
  3. Terri

     /  February 12, 2015

    I think it’s fantastic! I’d be headed the same direction if I wasn’t so terrified of driving now….never used to be that way, but seem to be getting worse. Always dreamed of a life like that and now you are on your way! You are your wonderful puppy!

    Reply
    • I’m sorry driving has become such a huge thing for you. I had an acupuncture client who went sliding off a wet road and became terrified of driving after that. Luckily there is an acupuncture treatment for acute trauma that has become stuck. That’s really what many fearful drivers have. Did something like that happen to you?

      Reply
  4. That sounds so wonderful! I hope you find peace in your travels.

    Reply
    • I hope so, Kaitrana. I must admit, I am more than a little scared. I feel like I’m looking down in a huge body of water, getting ready to jump in. You have a beautiful name. Where is it (and you!)from?

      Reply
  5. I understand the wonderful feeling of saying “The hell with it…I’m going and that’s all there is to it”. Believe me the feeling is overwhelming me now. I truly wish you well on your journey of freedom and hope we may here a few adventure stories as you go.
    I wish I has the choice to decide to wander…but miracles are few and far between. So until the stars change, enjoy your journey of life.
    Blessings, Susan 💖

    Reply
    • Thanks, Susan. Things are getting crazy again in my family, fortunately not immediate, but affecting everyone, so I might not be as footloose and fancy free as I had hoped…at least not for the moment. But I am forging ahead with my RV plans, and will work things out as they come along. I guess that’s all we can hope for anyway…

      Reply
      • That’s true I’m afraid bug as s long as you have an escape plan there is something to look forward to. I keep saying”if only” and then reality crashes back and I have to accept, very reluctantly, that I am stuck here whether I will or no . 😔

        Reply
  6. Hi Laura, I wish you a happy journey. Noga is with you so you always have a company. I wish that you meet up with lot of like minded people. There is an Urdu couplet which goes ,

    “I started alone, people kept joining and thus a caravan was formed”.

    Love and Peace
    Ashu

    Reply
    • Thank you, Ashu! It’s not exactly what I had imagined I’d be doing right now, but it’s as if this is my destiny right now. Kind of strange, but that’s the way it is. Yes, little Noga is a great traveling buddy. I wonder if she will identify the van as “home.” Every place we have traveled, I point to the place we are staying and say, “This is home,” and she seems to understand me. So now we will have a home on wheels!

      Reply
    • You speak Urdu? What is your native language?

      Reply
      • Hi Laura, We speak Hindi, though I am v fond of Urdu Poetry. My native language is Marathi.

        Reply
        • Aha. So do you speak Marathi at home? And how did you learn Urdu? You’re a bit far from Persia 😉

          Reply
          • Hi Laura, heheheh India has more Muslim Population than Pakistan, and we were ruled by Mughals. So Urdu influence is evident in our lives unknowingly, I learnt little Urdu knowingly.

            Glad you know the regional languages of India. :-)))

            Reply
            • Ah yes. I see. I really don’t know that many Indian languages, only that Hindi is supposed to be the common language, although I met many people who don’t speak Hindi (nor do I). I know which languages are dominant in which regions only because I studied linguistics in grad school, and of course when I was in South India I learned about the tongues spoken there. And because I have a particular love for Skikhi I have had to learn a bit of Gurmukhi. It’s common for linguistics graduate students to be required to recite ALL of the major Indian languages, and to speak three or four fairly fluently. Luckily that is for Ph.D students and not the lowly master’s degree students like myself!

              BTW can you please remind me what the Vedic word for “Hindu” is?

              Reply
              • Hi Laura,

                The word is ‘ Sindhu’ on the name of River Sindhu. We are called as Indus Valley Civilization and its inhabitants.

                People in South specially Tamilnadu don’t know Hindi. There was a movement in the late 70s which made Tamil as the main language and Hindi was ignored. Glad that you know Gurumukhi and I am in awe of the students in your country who can speak three to more Indian languages fluently, a big thing even for us.

                Reply
                • Hi Ashu, thanks for this! I was amazed to find Ayurvedic treatment therapists who could speak Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, English, and a bit of Russian. Many of them come from Kerala of course. I fell in love with these healer ladies. I could use about three months of treatment to get my vata balanced…Maybe I made the exact wrong choice for vata control!

                  Reply
  7. Amazing Laura! I hope you have lots of great travels in the new camper van. Adventures are awesome! Xoxo

    Reply
  8. manyofus1980

     /  February 15, 2015

    I dont know if my last comment went through. I was saying…adventures are awesome. I hope you have lots of them in your new camper van. Xoxo

    Reply
    • Hi! I think you might have changed your blog title or something, because it went into moderation. But you’re on board now! I was thinking about you this morning and how I need to get myself focused and get your interview up. Hopefully I will do this before the power goes out…looks like I’m not going to have any traveling adventures until the weather breaks. I don’t like “bad weather adventures”!!!! Have had too many of them already. So the camper stays in minus-many-degrees Michigan, and I stay in very-bad-weather-coming-here-tomorrow, and I will be going to the market soon to stock up on necessary items along with the other 200 people who live in this sparsely populated area. How is the weather treating you???

      Reply
      • manyofus1980

         /  February 17, 2015

        I did change my blog name, so email me for the blog title and URL okay? The weather here is not too bad I’m a little bit rainy and cold but no snow or ice, thank goodness

        Reply
      • manyofus1980

         /  February 17, 2015

        Again I don’t know if the comment went through, was saying that the weather is cold and rainy, and also if you’re pulling my interview up please email me from my blog name and URL

        Reply
  9. Laura, Have I ever told you about our family camping for 5 months? I don’t want to repeat myself, but it was a wonderful experience that is somewhat similar to what you will be doing. We did it partly because we had to (financially) but we were excited about the adventure, too. I guess even if I’ve spoken of it before I can say this: it was an experience like none other and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything, including a big, fancy house. Our kids were young (2 1/2, 6 and 9) and we lived in a tent for 4 months, then a tiny camper for one or so when it got cold. We experienced a simpler form of life that taught us all a great deal about priorities, nature and meeting people where they are at. At one point we went to Colorado for my family’s reunion and it was so strange in many ways….we were in a house, of course, but it was so hard to sleep there w/out the fresh air! And we had all the appliances, etc instead of cooking on a fire, taking showers in campground facilities and making due w/ whatever toilet facilities were available or not. It was so strange and I realized that much of what we think we “need” we really don’t. And listening to my family sharing about their lives made me aware of the need to really appreciate our experience with simplicity. We did move around a bit from campground to campground, but all in western Washington. It was great to experience different areas and the people we met at each one.
    I know that your experience will be your own and different from ours, but I just know that you’ll be happy to did this. I’m so happy for you and the growth you’ve made personally to be able to take this step! Peace to your heart, Sara

    Reply
    • Wow, Sarah, what a great way to be homeless with your family! That will be glue for your family forever…and who knows, one or two might hit the road with their own families. When I was a kid, vacations meant tenting it. My dad was a WWII veteran, and according to him, staying anywhere but outside was just…not fun! He taught me how to build a smokeless fire (for years I always carried a little box of dry tinder–birch bark is the best!), how to use God’s Big Bathroom in a sanitary way, how to pitch a tent in the dark and stake it so it wouldn’t blow away…and so much more. 20 years ago I would never have imagined an actual camper van, but now the old joints will not cooperate. My son happily uses my backcountry camping stuff, and that makes me happy! Thank you SO much for your story…I need encouragement, since I’m right now at the “what the hell did I just sign up for????” stage!

      Reply
  10. Let me know when you make it out to California. I live in Southern California, but love the redwoods up north. I was born in San Francisco and am quite fond of Northern California.

    Reply
  11. Sounds absolutely wonderful and just what you need right now! And as for the future, why worry about tomorrow? Some smart bloke about 2000 years ago said that today’s worries are enough for today.

    Reply
    • Yes! That bloke certainly had that right. Oh, to internalize that and live it! As a doctor one has to think about all the possible angles and how to react to them. It’s a hard discipline to take off the white coat and hang it up! Sort of reminds me of Mr. Rogers, you know, when he would come in the door and take off his galoshes and raincoat, and put on his nice homey cardigan…I think I’ll meditate on that for a while….in the meantime, pass the fish….

      Reply

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