Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Indie Travel - BHAG: Big Hairy Audacious Goals

I decided to add a bit more self-discipline to my laid back ultra-retired, drifting-around-the-Universe life. I joined BootsnAll's project to blog about travel every day for the month of November, a way easier goal than writing an entire novel during the month. Many of my friends join a project yearly in which they write 2 to 3 thousand words daily and by the end of a month they have a novel. A buddy of mine who did it said it's the worst crap he's ever written, but he does it every year, so the process must be fun.

Writing every day is actually a normal part of life. Somedays it takes up the entire day, and somedays it consists of a shopping list.

The real goal I think BootsnAll readers might want to hear about is the big-hairy-ass-goal of going on a trip around the world over the next two years, a trip already in the works, but still lacking the RTW airline tickets.

In 2009 I was working for Honeywell. The company, in a huge cost savings effort, made a deal to the older employees that was hard to refuse. They said if I would retire by September 1, they would subsidize my health insurance until I qualify for Medicare when I'm 65. I was only 56 at the time. A few seconds of deep thought ensued and I took them up on the offer.

I went right back to work at my old job at the Los Alamos National Labs under a different contractor for a lot more pay and no benefits. I didn't need any....I had health insurance through Honeywell. The plan back then was to sell my house, buy a condo, downsize, maybe pay off the condo, rent it and travel the world. That was about all the plan there was.....until......I got a little book full of blank pages that had an interesting cover : "Follow Your Heart, Chase Your Dreams".

So, I began to document my heart's desires. The big one for many years had been to travel. I read The Female Nomad by Rita Gelman and was inspired to chuck it all and head out. But I had a teenager still in high school, and college looming in the future. Still, it didn't hurt to write it down and keep it in the foreground. Maybe something would work out.

My friend Brenda, who lives in Bethlehem, PA.
I met her on my first trip to Mexico.
She's graciously letting me stay with her for a while.
The Universe delivered. My son decided not to go to college right away. The duplex sold, and I bought a condo. The condo is rented and at this moment, I am living in a 'tent on wheels'. The plan this fall was to go to a house sitting gig in North Carolina (see previous blogs - great town!), visit some friends, and then do a WorkAway gig in Boston. I'm with my friends for the next couple of weeks, but the WorkAway gig fell through. Another is in the works, so all is not lost. I've learned to relax. If everything were to fall apart, I still have the van, a comfy bed, a zero-degree sleeping bag, money in the bank, and I can always stay overnight in a WalMart parking lot.

I started the little book of Dreams two years ago. It took that long to finally quit the high paying job, sell and buy places to live, move, and a million other little things like remodel two bathrooms and a kitchen. I also went to Mexico three times and wrote a novel. No, not the novel in a month deal. A real novel. It's crap though and needs at least another year's worth of work. So rather than sit around at home and rewrite it, I decided to start going around the world and writing about that. The trips to Mexico impressed on me how terrible my Spanish is, and how I need to be fluent if I intend to travel through South America. So starting in January of 2012, I will live in San Cristobal, Chiapas for six months where I will be studying Spanish and helping out with a photography project. After that, I'll have to see where the winds of travel blow me. It could be South America, or back to the States for a long awaited summer trip through Alaska. In fall of 2012, I will be headed to Australia to help a friend with her business during their summer in exchange for a free place to stay and an opportunity to see life Down Under. I'm sure other plans will come into focus as time goes on.

It's as if a fairytale book opened up and let me walk right in to the colorful pages. I'm Alice in Wonderland without all the screwy characters.


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