New Year, New Life?

In my last post, back in September, I talked about my yearning to settle down. As it turns out, that wasn’t just idle talk.  I’ve slowly come to realize my discontent with nomadic life comes from a pretty deep-seated loneliness. As a deeply introverted person, it takes me a very long time to make friends. The constant moving doesn’t allow for that. I think if I had a partner to travel with I would feel very differently about the nomad life, and would probably not give it up until I couldn’t see to drive anymore.

I’ve spent a lot of time since that last post researching options in my chosen area. I was really attracted to western North Carolina, but when push came to shove, rents there just proved too expensive for my modest income.

So I moved my search across the mountains to eastern Tennessee. As of a couple of days ago, I’ve committed to a small apartment, with a big garage for my motorcycle and my bicycle and all my outdoor gear, in Johnson City. It should be available for me to move in around April. There is tons of hiking in the area, and I’ll only be a half hour drive from the Appalachian Trail.

As always, big changes are both scary and exciting. My biggest fear is that my years of wandering have ruined me for being stationary, and it will turn out that I can’t be content with either life. I do plan to sell the AdventureMobile, but I also plan to buy a smaller RV, something I can tow with the pickup, so I can still travel when the urge strikes.

Now that I’ve settled on a course of action, I’m really anxious to execute it. I’ve never been good at patiently waiting. I’ve got another month here at Big Bend, then in February I’ll head back to East Texas to get the cracked windshield on the AdventureMobile replaced. I’ve got reservations to spend my birthday on the beach in far southeast Texas. Then I’ll slowly start moving east.

Happy New Year everybody!

Is It Time?

The basic theme of Monkeywrench Your Life is not being afraid to make big changes when you recognize the time has come to do so. That time may have come.

The AdventureMobile has been my only home for more than four years now. I’ve been all over the US, all over Mexico, and have explored a bit in Canada. And all the time, people have asked me questions like “What’s your favorite place” or “If you were to settle down, where would it be?” And I’ve always said that those questions miss the point entirely. I didn’t want to have one favorite place. I didn’t want to settle down. In fact, the whole idea used to make me shudder. Movement was the point.

But suddenly, I find myself yearning for exactly that. The idea of having a fixed address seems so simple and comforting. My mail wouldn’t have to chase me around the country. I could subscribe to a magazine or two. I wouldn’t have to plan doctor appointments a year in advance, for the next time I manage to be in the state. I could go backpacking for a week or a month, or load up some gear on the motorcycle and take off for a trip, and just lock the door and come back afterwards and everything would be just as I left it. The simplicity of it is very appealing.

Of course, the change didn’t actually happen suddenly. I’ve been struggling with discontent on several fronts for a good while. It’s the realization that this is what I want that was sudden.

But where? Where do I want to live, and perhaps more importantly, where can I afford to live? There are lots of affordable places all across the country, but I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life in most of them. I miss trees and green grass. I miss the mountains, easy access to lots of hiking, and hiking culture.

The obvious choice might be New England, as it has all of those things, and it’s where I spent most of my life. But I can’t afford to live in New England, and I can’t deal with the long, cold, dark winters there. The last decade or so that I lived there, I suffered terribly with SAD in the winter. I can’t do that again!

My first thought is the southern Appalachians. Eastern Tennessee or western North Carolina. Yes, they have winter there, but it’s relatively mild and short. But that’s just my first instinct. Someplace else might bring itself to my attention. In fact, if you have a suggestion I’d love to hear it.

Nothing is going to happen right away. I’ve got commitments for the next four months. I’ll be in Livingston tomorrow, and I’ve got doctor and ophthalmologist appointments lined up. I’ve got to get the truck inspected. The usual stuff I take care of every year while I’m there. Then in three weeks I’ll head west to Big Bend National Park, where I’ll be volunteering patrolling backcountry campsites for three months. When I leave there at the beginning of February, maybe I’ll head east and start checking out possible places to settle down. Or maybe I’ll change my mind entirely. Who knows? Only time will tell.

Monkeywrench Your Life?

Monkeywrench your life. What does that mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, a Monkey Wrench is:
1: a wrench with one fixed and one adjustable jaw at right angles to a straight handle
2something that disrupts 

It’s the second definition I have in mind; something that disrupts. And yes, I know it’s weird that I write monkeywrench as one word instead of two. I always have and even though I know it’s wrong, I’m going to continue doing so. Continue reading “Monkeywrench Your Life?”