Learning to live on the road.

So we’ve been on the road for a month now, and we won’t lie: it’s had its challenges.

When it rains, EVERYTHING gets muddy, and our camp takes twice as long to dismantle. Whenever I want something out of the van, Erik seems to be in the exact part I need access to. Campfire dinners can be gritty (particularly when your perfectly cooked pork loin rolls off the grill and into the fire). And campsite shower blocks – ugh.

Campfire Pork
Campfire pork, shortly before it rolled into the fire

But generally,  every frustration that we face has a flip side:

Rain means we’re staying in beautiful, lush locations.

The fact the Erik is here (even when he’s in my way) and we’re experiencing this trip of a lifetime together fills my heart with joy on a daily basis.

Campfire dinners are like having your own little smokehouse. Everything tastes amazing!

We’ve currently just reached a record low point with shower blocks, so I’m not sure I have anything good to say at this point in time… but they do mean we get stay in stunning outdoor locations and at least get (somewhat) clean.

The first few weeks (which Erik wrote about in his last post) have been heavy with spending time with friends and family. I have been a little overwhelmed by this as our time has been divided between working, sleeping and socialising with the people who have so graciously and generously put us up. As exhausting as this has been, I wouldn’t trade it. I’ve met wonderful people that help me better understand  Erik’s pre-Australia (and pre-me!) world (along with a few cheeky college stories to boot), and we’ve had local experiences we otherwise would have missed. Like seeing an 80s themed water ski show. Or being taken for a girl’s night away to a biker bar in the woods (which is not as dangerous as it sounds). Or learning how to dissuade deer flies from biting you whilst running through the woods in New Hampshire with the aid of tape, glue and a baseball hat. Or being taken to visit idyllic, quiet parts of Maine. The list of these small, private experiences goes on and on, and I think will end up being the heart of what we remember about this trip in years to come.

Deer Flies on Hat
How to catch a Deer Fly or two….

The logistics of living in a van have definitely been through a teething period. Setting up and taking down camp is time consuming, although we’re getting faster at it and learning what is achievable for one night stays as opposed to three night stays. Everything very much has a designated home, and these have altered as we learn what we access when. Some things (like USB fans and our premium pop up shelter) have been godsends. Others we daily curse their existence (our collapsable water storage container is the most ridiculously designed piece of crap and destined for a short life with us).

Then there are the physicalities of living in a van – particularly one you can’t stand up in. For the first two weeks my back was in constant pain from moving around hunched over. I have since learnt to move around in the van on my knees. We recently left the ‘roo set up in a camp site for a few days whilst we snuck off to New York. Oh, the delights of not only being able to stand up in your bedroom, but to not put your shoes on to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

For me,  driving on the other side of the road has been another challenge. I have done this before (in Sicily of all places, so driving in the states should be a breeze after experiencing the Italian roads), but never in a 17 foot long, 7 foot high, 20 year old beast like our Eagleroo. There have been several times when my nerves have been tested as we teeter along mountain roads or when google maps sends us on a 20 minute detour for the pleasure of a u-turn. Erik’s patience with my driving (and driving related melt-downs) seems to be never ending, for which I am grateful.

We also miss things about home. Our families, our friends, our fat little cat. Oh, and our kingdom for a night watching a movie on the couch! We have an iPad Pro, an unlimited data plan and Netflix in the ‘roo (which OMG do we suffer in Australia with our Netflix ‘lite’) but it’s not quite the same… particularly when we know a whole season of Masterchef has passed since we’ve left.


But, for the most part, it’s great. We wake up somewhere new (and very often beautiful) everyday, and have made made a comfy little home out of our 40 square feet on wheels… We’re here, we’re in the moment and we’re loving it.

Dispatches from the first couple of weeks

I’m happy to report that the first couple of weeks of the trip have gone more smoothly than that first couple of days, both automotively and spiritually. We have not found much time to actually document our exploits. Thankfully that’s due to catching up with friends and seeing stuff rather than coming to terms with our mechanical shortcomings. The Eagleroo has actually been running like a champ since we actually hit the road.

We left Dayton on June 28th and headed for Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Our tour was a bit of a blitzkrieg since we were on a schedule. I could spend days there… we spent about 90 minutes. Up close everybody’s stage clothes look so small and ridiculous. Except Jimi Hendrix’s. His are amazing from any distance. I was particularly taken with seeing Joey Ramone’s leather jacket and Paul Westerberg’s scrawled out lyrics to Bastards of Young.

From the Hall of Fame we scooted south to Malvern, Ohio and the Chippewa Lake Ski show. Four of the members of this impressive troupe belong to the Peshina family, friends of mine from college days. They glided across the water on anything that could be dragged behind a boat, jumping ramps and doing flips all to a thunderous soundtrack of 80’s classics. After the show, we headed back to their place to sit around the fire and fill in the blanks on the last ten years. Their talented kids serenaded us on guitar and ukulele and we couldn’t help but stay up too late.

Chippewa Lake Ski Show
The Chippewa Lake Ski Show

From Ohio we headed to New York state, where we would spend the next several days in the Finger Lakes region. On the way we stopped off for buffalo wings at the Anchor Bar. They claim to have invented buffalo wings and are certainly close perfecting them.  

Our Finger Lakes experience was rain soaked, thus providing the opportunity to test our camp set up and take down prowess. Some days are more prowess-filled than others. In between showers, we saw some pretty sweet waterfalls and visited the Women’s Rights National Historic Park.  


Finger Lakin’ good!

After our Finger Laking good time (I swear that’s Sarah’s joke), we spent several days in the foothills of the Adirondacks with our good friends Nikki and Konrad and their ridiculously cute son Charlie. Nikki grew up here in the storybookish hometown U.S.A. known as Glens Falls. We set up shop in the driveway of her extremely kind and accommodating parents. Our hosts treated us to a hike up Sleeping Beauty mountain, a 3rd of July party, fireworks, a 4th of July party and a gigantic boat full of sushi.

The Glens Falls crew atop Sleeping Beauty
The Glens Falls crew atop Sleeping Beauty

We were sad to leave but had more east coast splendour up ahead. First in Lake Placid, New York then in Burlington, Vermont, both of which provided beautiful mountain and lake views depending on where your head stopped spinning.

In New Hampshire we caught up with more friends, Mitch and Dylan, who have a wonderful house in Tamworth. Though there for less than 24 hours, they managed to take us on limit-pushing runs, a gorgeous hike, and provide a couple of delicious home-cooked meals. Though I’ve only met Mitch and Dylan a couple of times and Sarah had never met them, they are the kind of people whose warmth and generosity make them instant friends. We made tentative plans to catch up with the at the Grand Canyon as it looks like our paths may cross there as well.

New Ham-it-up-shire

Next it was off to Maine and another reunion with old friends. Lucy and Chris live outside of Portland, Maine on an idyllic property with blueberries, chickens and their two boys. They took us for lobster right on the shore and Lucy even showed us how to eat it (the green stuff is called the tamale and can be eaten or worn). We also had clams and oysters and even ate seaweed right off the rocks. We knew it was safe because a 4 year old told us it was. We capped the Maine visit with a trip to Lucy’s parents house, where they have spent the last 42 years living adjacent to some of the most picturesque coastline I’ve ever seen.

Next stop was Concord, Massachusetts where we saw the bridge where the Revolutionary war began. Sarah toured the Louisa May Alcott house while I explored Ralph Waldo Emerson’s. I took the 1.7 mile Emerson Thoreau Amble from Emerson’s house to Thoreau’s cabin and rejoined Sarah on the banks of Walden Pond. My transcendental batteries recharged, we headed to Boston where we are currently. Last night we had dinner with our friends Jim and Bridget and dropped off the van at their place. We are spending our Boston time on foot as a vehicle, especially one as big as Eagleroo, is more of a liability than an asset in a city like Boston. After dinner, Jim took us on a tour of his workplace. He designs custom kit cars. He’s one of those rare people who seems to be doing exactly what he should be professionally. The shop is amazing.   

We are truthfully a little exhausted from balancing this pace of travel with work but remain grateful to be on this journey. We’re taking a little time this morning to sit still in a coffee shop and try to remember all that’s happened over last two and a half weeks. Going forward we’ll try to share a little more frequently and in a little more depth. But for now, we’ve got Beantown to explore.