Bev’s First New Rule of Travel

When in doubt, take your stuff with you.

I’m on the Maine coast for the weekend – gorgeous sun, beaches and rocky coastlines and seafood restaurants every block. I mostly came to see the Atlantic Ocean – having driven over from Oregon, I felt like I had to go All The Way, so I could legitimately say I’d driven all the way across the continent in my little red POS.*

Atlantic Coast, Maine Coast
Cool library!

I got a cheap room on Orbitz** that was close to the beaches and not far from Portland, ME. Also have to go to this Portland over here because, duh.

I’ve been at Laurie’s house for more than two weeks now, and I got all settled in and shit – took the tubs with extra clothes, snacks and whatnot into the house. I unloaded the bags I had full of ‘hotel room’ amenities like paper plates and extra cups so I could use those bags for other things.

I looked at all that stuff when I was packing to come here this weekend. Looked right at it, and then left it behind. And I’ve been mad at myself ever since.

List of things I left behind that I totally could have used in the last 24 hours:

beach towel
paper plates (purchased again)
crackers and cashews for snacks (purchased again)
actual shorts (rather than just capris)
laundry bag for dirty clothes
HDMI cable so I could watch something I *chose* instead of whatever was on TV

List of things I just got lucky were still in the car:

fork/spoon/knife set (you know those three little ones on a ring, that you have for camping? Yeah, those) to eat the ice cream I bought at the store and to stir my tea in the morning

beach chair (which did a pretty good job of replacing the towel I would have laid on at the beach)

Ogunquit beach, Atlantic Ocean, Maine Coast
Taken from my beach chair. These two girls were having a blast jumping over the waves, and the sailboat decided to make my photos even cooler.

It’s not even that I left anything important behind, or that my trip is ruined, or I spent a lot of money on things I didn’t need. It’s just SO annoying to know that the exact thing I wanted SHOULD have been in the car, and would have been if I’d been on the road rather than planted somewhere. These were the things I carefully curated before leaving Susan’s house, to maximize the useful things I’d have with me without carrying around a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t use.

I didn’t really pack a lot of extra stuff, so I should really have it all with me. Again, duh.

Now I have to figure out what I’m taking back to Portland, OR in a few weeks. The car-traveling-kit is too big, and a lot of it is pretty specific to traveling by car – but I don’t want to spend weeks pissed off that I left a stupid towel behind.

*And yes, I acknowledge that Portland is not on the coast, but I have indeed driven that car to the coast – more than once – so I’m totally counting it.

** I’ve used Orbitz a few times now & I’m liking it. They keep sending me discount codes, and I earn points with them pretty quickly that will get me a free hotel room soon. No, they are not paying me to say this. But I’m totally willing to accept any and all such endorsements, if anybody knows somebody there.


“You’re Going to Do… What?”

happy shit

Changes to life = changes to blog.

16 months ago I paid off my last debt. 25 years of credit card payments and 12.5 years of student loan payments… and then nothing. And some kind of bomb went off in my head.

I’d been working towards that moment for years – actively managing my spending so I could make large payments on my credit cards, and when those were gone to make HUGE payments on my student loan. But it wasn’t until my last debt was down to $1000 or so that I could FEEL IT. I was making more than twice what I needed to maintain my life without any debt to service.


This is the bolt of lightning that struck me in the shower (where all the best thinking happens). It’s not even very well constructed, as sentences go. What it means is that I could live the rest of my life and never again submit to the daily grind that passes as normal in America today. I’ve been rebelling against that grind for years now – quitting when I get bored, part-time jobs, etc. But this would be escape. Could be. If I wanted it to be. If I put half the energy in to making it so that I’ve been putting into trying to be content with 9-5 and living to work.

I could spend my days traveling, or sleeping, or reading, or writing. I could go visit my friend at the beach and stay an extra day if the sun made its first appearance the day I was supposed to leave. I could drive to my sister’s house and STAY THERE for weeks instead of spending 20 of my 96 hours off driving alone through beautiful country I can’t stop and enjoy because I’ve got to get back to work. I could travel the US visiting all those people I know that now live in places I’ve never been. I could work those travel-hacking tips I’ve been reading about and finally leave North America. I could stop being jealous of Frances Mayes and live a life that belongs in a travel memoir.

I struggled against that epiphany for months. Tried to go back to school instead – but that meant borrowing more money (a thing I believe I’m now genetically programmed to self-destruct rather than endure) or add another wheel to the rat race I was trying to escape. It flat-out just did not feel like any fun, and I could not make myself believe I wanted it.

This bolt, this bomb, this epiphany, this revelation – it would not be negotiated with. I could say yes or I could say no, but I could not say ‘well, maybe, but how about I hedge that bet with two more years of school and work and keep all this supposed-security I’ve got going right now?’ It would not be convinced that the way to freedom was to ADD MORE WORK, even if that work would be more interesting than regular work.

I don’t have the words to describe this feeling in my chest. Not in my chest  in every cell in my body. I call it a bolt because it was fast and overwhelming. I call it a bomb because it destroyed what was there before. I call it an epiphany because it took those pieces I’d always had and rearranged them into something new and amazing. I call it a revelation because it seemed so obvious once it arrived. But these are words about thinking and analyzing. This was not only thought, this was feeling.

This was JOY. THUNDERING, 5-ALARM, EARTH-SHATTERING JOY that took over my head and my body and invited me to consider a life where this kind of joy was not just possible, but likely to stick around.

And so I did. Consider it, that is. And I considered going back to school, and cutting my hours, and some other things I don’t even remember because IT WAS ALL BULLSHIT. How does ‘only working three days a week instead of four’ or ‘spending $20k on a MA in Literature’ compare to SOUL-QUAKING JOY?! Yeah, it doesn’t. So I quit considering and just said fuck it – I’m doing this.

I spent 2014 saving money (almost) as diligently as I was paying on my loans in 2013. Decided to work until the beginning of April (and, yes, many people made April Fool’s jokes!) and then STOP. I saved $12k in 14 months. I have a part-time job that doesn’t require my physical presence. I gave up my (wonderful) apartment Feb 1 to save more money, staying with friends in Portland until my final work day. I quit the best job I ever had, telling everyone that I was taking time off to travel until I couldn’t afford to do it anymore (because the long answer is way too much to explain in one go).  I culled my possessions down to a pick-up-truck’s worth (stored at my sister’s house in Montana) and drove out of Portland in the rain April 11.

My car and my stuff in my sister's truck - this photo contains all my material possessions.
My car and my stuff in my sister’s truck – this photo contains all my material possessions.

I woke up April 13, my 46th birthday, in Montana on Day One of Life Post-J.O.B.

Now what?