I got to sit down and have coffee with Pat and she told me about her adventures so far on her 1 year road trip. She sold her house and most of her possessions last year, bought a truck camper, and started planning her extended road trip. She said it took her about a year to downsize and sell most of her belongings. But she also mentioned that all of the things she owned took a lot of effort to acquire over a lifetime, but little effort to get rid of. She’s retired and had been living in Connecticut near her children and grandchildren, and was craving a big adventure before she settles back down to be a part of their lives again.
She said she was a bit nervous to get started on her journey, but finally hit the road last November and it didn’t take long to become comfortable with her new lifestyle. She told me about Apps like “All Stays” and “Free Parking” that make it easier for her to find locations to sleep for the night. She also is connected to other women travelers through various Facebook groups that she uses to get tips, and meet up with other travelers. She’s been very content with her trip so far. When I asked her if she ever gets sick of being confined to such a small space, she just laughed and said “that’s just my bedroom, the outdoors is my living room.” She did say that the one thing she misses is having a garden at home. She described it as having “a foot in the earth.”
She described a typical day on the road and said she’ll wake up and take a sponge bath, make breakfast on her gas stove, and then start driving pretty early in the morning. She tries to drive until around noon and then will park and put out her solar panels to charge. She doesn’t have a strict itinerary but travels every day until she finds a place that she wants to spend more time and then will plop down for a week or so. When I met her she was headed to the coast to go put her feet in the ocean. She plans to head north and spend the summer and early fall in Canada exploring their National Parks.
I was impressed with the interior and exterior of her camper. She had optimal functionality inside while also having a personalized and beautifully painted exterior.The inside had a sink and wood burning stove, as well as a bed and lots of little detailed decorations. When I asked if she had any sentimental objects she told me she had a blanket that she kept that was a gift from her Dad. She said she decorated the interior with colors that are pleasing to her and burns sage inside to give a familiar scent. When she bought the camper it had already been painted with the text “Wandering Rose” on both sides of the exterior. She adopted the “Wandering Rose” text as her travel theme and she wears a hat with roses pinned in the side. She adds lapel pins to the hat from places that she travels.
She talked about the struggle of yearning for the freedom of traveling and security of having a home simultaneously. It’s hard to set yourself loose when you have roots that have been carefully cultivated and a sense of home in a place, however it can also be a burden when you want to lift your anchor and explore. Yet when you are constantly on the move you also become sick of your anonymity and desire to have those invested roots and familiar relationships. This is something I could relate to from working seasonally for years. I have an appetite for exploration, but constantly ripping yourself out of communities you invest yourself in takes a toll eventually. She said that’s why she gave herself a year for her travels and that she would probably be ready to stop at that point. I want to investigate the definition of "home" in this blog. Can your home have wheels and still provide the same level of comfort as a traditional house? Does the feeling of "home" necessitate remaining in one place to develop connections, or can you find a sense of community within a subculture of people that live on the fringes of society?
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This is a blog about transient lifestyles. I'm fascinated by people who live on the road for extended periods of time and I want to document what kinds of objects people decide to bring when there is limited space. I'm particularly interested in asking about objects with sentimental or aesthetic value. What are the excess possessions that people bring for comfort or decoration, and what might this say about their character and identity?
Joshua Tree National Park attracts a lot of interesting travelers and I want to share the stories of the people that I encounter here.
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