Quartzsite Reflections

Top of the Hi Jolly Tomb in Quartzsite, Arizona

Happiness is not a place.

Sunset on BLM land in Quartzsite, Arizona

Material possessions do not bring true happiness.

Dome Rock in Quartzsite, Arizona

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Travel is personal

“What do you enjoy?”

For many people, the response to this question is “I love to travel.”

I fall into this group, but my travel preference may be a bit different than yours. And that’s the way it should be… your travel should fit you.

If you enjoy travel, you should make it your own. Do it the way you want to do it. Don’t do it to impress anyone else.

When I travel I often like to blend in with the locals, enjoy the day-to-day in a new location. My travel is usually not about beaches, theme parks and endless partying. My travel is slow-paced, spontaneous, and reflective.

I am currently one month in to a road trip… a road trip that has me living in a van… a road trip with no destination in mind.

People often ask me where I am heading, and I usually don’t know.

If I decide to end the #sandybanff journey tomorrow, then so be it. I will put the van in storage or sell it and move on to the next adventure.

My travel is not glamourous. My travel is not the variety you’ll find in the pages of Departures (a magazine that American Express sends me regularly that I immediate chuck into the recycle pile). My travel is personal, and it is not for everyone.

My Jumpstart Toward a Simple Life

My quest toward a simple life began over a decade ago. It took two events to jumpstart my journey.

I was confronted with what would become one of the most stressful times of my life… an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The ordeal was ongoing for two years, and it included the audit of three years of federal tax returns.

My shortcoming in reporting my finances was not birthed out of deceit but instead out of a need to control. I felt the need to control every aspect of my life, including my finances. I was in control of the accounting and tax return preparation for a company that had over $1 million in annual sales… a company of one… a thriving business with an astute leader but an ignorant accountant.

The hard experiences in life are often the ones that have the most profound impact on us. If you can learn from these struggles, is the experience truly negative?

My tax ordeal taught me to delegate… to keep it simple.

At the same time I struggled, I feel in love. I feel in love with a boy. I feel in love with Amsterdam.

Time has a way of sorting out emotion, both good and bad. In retrospect, I realize I feel in love with simple living. This is not meant to minimize the love I felt for the boy or an amazing city. However, Amsterdam and the boy both represented a life I wanted… a simple life.

Amsterdam, the boy, and the IRS audit were all a part of my journey toward simplicity. These things are not part of my current reality, but fundamental in the journey of who I have become.

Bricking My Cat

My cat, Patrick, has been sick for several weeks now. My boy’s thyroid and pancreas are not in the best of shape, and the medication does not appear to be working as it should.

My once fat fluffy boy is now a shell of himself… weighing in at around 8 pounds.

So, today I create. I create for #patthecat.

Original photo
Enhanced photo
Bricked Pat and the girls

Creation Without Validation

I started reading a short book (with a long-ass title) from Nate Green. I only made it through the introduction of What We’ve Learned: 85 Practical Solutions for Getting Your Shit Together, Improving Your Relationships, Figuring Out Your Career, Boosting Your Self Confidence, Overcoming Self Doubt, Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone, and Living a Better Life, but I was inspired by this little tidbit…

Bonus points if the thing you create helps people; when those two things meet, it’s like magic. (It’s also, occasionally, a business.) Here are two things I know for sure: It feels good to create things and it feels good to help people. But creating things — especially good things — is difficult. It takes time, focus, and courage. Maybe even a little masochism.

Helping people is easier. There are a million ways to do it: You can hold the door open for the guy whose arms are full of groceries; you can help an old woman across the street (that’s still a thing, right?); you can share your life experience and hope that someone will read it and find it applicable to their own life.

This little nugget reconfirmed that I have a strong desire to create. So, why don’t I create more?

I feel many times I have created in search of validation.

Businesses were created. The validation? Money.

Many times these businesses were abandoned after the validation did not materialize in what I felt was an adequate amount of time. I am sure that my lack of perseverance snuffed out many legitimate business ventures. I’ve never been very good at “treading water.”

I’ve never been materialistic, but somewhere along the journey of life, I allowed money to become the primary source of validation. I began to take interests and allow their lifespan to be determined by their monetary value. So… if a hobby could not produce money, it was discarded.

My LEGO art… a hobby that didn’t sell

My blogging has also become a victim, allowing validation to fuel creation.

I would write in spurts, and if posts did not receive views… I stopped.

I enjoy journaling my thoughts and experiences… sharing. Still, I need to learn that my musings do not need to find an audience to have value. If they do, cool, but the validation of increased views or comments should not drive (or deter) me from writing.

So… having shared all of this… I’m back. 😁 👍

 

The Van That Couldn’t

“IKEA on Wheels”

After proclaiming my love for the Carado Banff yesterday, I was met with this snarky comment from a Facebook troll user.

Well… if I can buy two and half Banffs for the price of one Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL, sign me up and tell me where to pick up my hexagon assembly tool.

I can absolutely appreciate nice things, but I am also a practical person that doesn’t need all of the bells and whistles.

So… this brings me to the lavish purchase that I made about six months ago. Say hello to van experiment one…

I bought her six months for $800 somewhere in Tennessee. It was my intention to build out the inside and hit the road again with my trusty sidekick, Pat the Cat.

Oh… and the van was so fancy that you didn’t even need a key to start her. You just had to touch two wires together. 😀

So… what happened to the unnamed Dodge?

After six weeks of tinkering… removing seats, adding subfloor, insulating walls, and bloodying up myself on more than one occasion, I decide to send her own way. The new owner picked her up today. She sold for $400. 😐

It was a $400 loss (not including the additional items I purchased), but I learned in the process. I can do more “handy” stuff. So… well worth the expense. Now, I just need a tool belt. NOT! 😛

So… where am I going with this?

Well, if I was willing to make a 1994 Dodge Ram conversion van my home, then I definitely don’t need an induction cooktop and motorized awning. So… IKEA van… sign me up. Hmmm… what should I name her? HATTEFJÄLL?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Before the paperwork had even been signed on the cabin, I had already started to consider a new adventure. Say hello to the Carado Banff.

Nothing is set in stone at this point, but I am itching to get out on the road again, and the Banff is a worthy contender.

With my Mom and aunt in tow, I checked out and drove a 2018 Banff, and I was thoroughly impressed. Check out the interior pics…

This would be the perfect size for Patrick and I. It even has a toilet and shower. You can see it peeking out in the second and third pics above. Still, what I am most excited about is the 200 watts of solar power on the roof and lithium batteries installed in this little guy. If you add in VoltStart, I am practically in boondocking heaven. (VoltStart allows the engine to automatically start up to power up the batteries.)

This little nugget has practically everything I need… stove, refrigerator, microwave, solar, shower, toilet, gas heat, hot water, and air conditioning. The only thing missing is a backup camera, which I can easily install… or just buy a 2019 model with backup camera and GPS installed. Plus… VoltStart is available on some 2019 models. *swoon*

So… what happens next? Well, I need to make sure my impulsive little self isn’t jumping the gun here. I am going to make a final decision after the sale of the cabin has occurred. I signed the listing agreement yesterday, so the ball is just now starting to roll. The only issue I am finding is a covered garage in Downtown or Midtown (Atlanta) that can accommodate a vehicle 9’5″ tall.

What do you think of the Carado Banff?

Cabin Life

He’s baaaack.

Yup… it’s been almost 10 months, but I’m back. If you’ve not figured it out by now, I am a bit random. I tend to march to the beat of my own drum, and well… the beat tends to have a shelf life of about three to six months. Still, I keep finding my way back here to share, and boys and girls that is what has brought me here today.

After wrapping up My Scotty Adventure in May of 2017, my next undertaking began to emerge within a few months. I was going to buy a cabin… enjoy the outdoors… reconnect with my fellow man.

So… in October 2017, I purchased a cabin in Ellijay, Georgia.

She’s a beauty. I named her Cabin Casa or Casa Cabin (depending on how dyslexic I am feeling… or how many whiskey drinks I have had). She is secluded (2.5 acres, lots of trees), relaxing (hot tub, front porch rocking chairs), and simple (no air conditioning, simple furnishing).

I was committed to her and the new adventure. I built a fire pit and had a fire blazing most nights. I bought a chainsaw and chopped down many trees. I built a small fish pond to offer the critters a place to drink.

Casa Cabin has been good to me. Patrick and I spent almost every day in our rustic home for almost seven months. And now…

I have decided to move on. I have decided to sell the cabin. Why?

  • My life does not feel fulfilled standing still. I need movement.
  • My motivation was not entirely altruistic. Vague? Yes… and I will leave it at that.
  • I get more happiness with less. I do not need to own something to appreciate it. The cabin has become another thing… a thing I do not need… a thing I do not want to maintain.

I am back in my tiny home in Downtown, Atlanta.

I am starting to travel again.

Life is good.

Break the Twitch

young mobile phone users

It’s time to take a step back from the smartphone. Check out these stats from Break the Twitch.

  • The average person receives 63.5 notifications per day. [Telefonica, 2014]
  • 52% check their phones a few times per hour or more, whether there’s a notification or not. [Gallup, 2015)]
  • Meanwhile, 91% of millennials say they have a healthy relationship with tech, but still check their phones 150 times per day. [Qualtrics, 2017]
  • It’s not just millennials, though—52% of boomers use their phones during meal times, the highest percentage of any age group. [Nielsen, 2015]
  • U.S. users spend over 4 hours per day on mobile devices. [eMarketer, 2016]
  • During which, the average user touches, swipes, and taps their phone 2,617 times per day. [Dscout, 2016]
  • The average age when kids get their first cell phone is now just 10.3 years old. [Influence Central, 2016]
  • 74% of mobile users ages 18 – 34 report an urge to immediately pull out their phone, open an app when bored. [ComScore, 2017]
  • The creators of the Facebook “Like” button substantially limit their own social media usage, and the guy that literally wrote the book about designing addictive smartphone apps has his home internet shut off on an automatic timer every evening. [Guardian, 2017]