a journey of discovery, friendship and travel

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Plan B

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For many an unbroken silence can be an awkward experience, but somehow the silence between Laura and I is not uncomfortable, nor is it uncommon. It’s an unspoken language that only the two of us seem to understand. A respect that even within the confined spaces of Faith, (a 5 door Ford Focus station wagon) we both understand each others space and the need to process the events of the past few days .

In some respects it almost feels like it was months ago that we both agreed to turn Faith around and head back to the great white north, but in reality it was less than 5 days ago.  In that time we have crossed the Sea of Cortez , bid farewell to the unknown excitement that lay ahead of us in Mexico and further south into Central America and travelled almost 2,500 klms across the United States.
They have been big days, not only in driving terms, but also in events and in the inner sanctum of our very own minds.
There are many times in our lives that we are thrown a curve ball. When everything that you had planned out, doesn’t work out, or when dreams are turned upside down or simply ripped out from underneath you.
Apparently they call it life.
Over the last few days I would have liked to call it a number of things, but none of those should be repeated here on this blog.
But as the rolling green grass and trees of Illinois filter past my passenger side window, as have done the farming lands of Mexico, the desert landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico, the dust bowls of Texas and the ranch lands of Oklahoma and Missouri, my mind is beginning to wonder to the possibilities that lie ahead.
It is hard not to forget what has just gone on, nor to continue to question why, but something within enables us, or teaches us that life will continue. Or perhaps this is just a lesson that my Mum taught. I’m not sure.
What I do know is that I have witnessed my Mum and many others just like her, pick up the pieces when absolutely everything has felt lost.  For me at least she did not let me see her dwell on the past, or question too much why. For I am sure that she did.  I am not saying for a moment that what Laura and I, or at least I have been through is anything as great as the loss of your husband, your partner or the father of your children, what I am saying is that it is still a loss.
A loss of an unknown future, of unknown dreams. Of challenges that scare and excite you.  When that is your whole world, and has been your whole world for a period of time, the grief process must still be worked through. And slowly, in our own ways I think this is what this return journey is all about.
For me the next step is to return home to Australian soil. To be with my family that I love so much and to concentrate on plan b.. Working for myself.
Plan A still exists.
It will always exist and remain entrenched in my heart. Now, however it will also grow. It will be developed further and refined by better knowledge and better understanding. It will be researched further and further and new adventures and challenges will be added.
One day, I’m not saying when, but it will become a reality.
xJ

Oops might just be an understatement!

The cover of our Australian Passports
An Australian Passport …. Hold it close and NEVER let it go.

A passport is an amazing document. Not only does it form part of your identity, it provides you with the freedom to leave your home country and travel the world.

For me, 7 years ago it provided me with a level of self confidence that I never knew that I had in me. For me to explore places that I never thought that I would ever visit, or that I has only ever dreamt of visiting.  It has allowed me to grow as an individual and to continue to discover new things about myself that I never would have learnt had I not left my small home town.

You are warned to keep your passport in a safe place. Close to you at all times and to protect it and never let it out of your sight.  I have always been so vigilant in doing so, but today, today was a different story.

You see, my poor little blue book had a bit of a vacation…like about a 4 hour vacation.

Earlier in the week Laura and I decided that we needed some business cards, or trip cards if you will that included our names and details of where and  how people could follow us online.. So being the marketable person I am, yesterday as we were driving the last few stretches of the New Mexico plains, I drafted a couple of versions of cards that outlined all the ways people could contact us, follow us and annoy us while we are on the road.. Today while we were in San Diego we decided to get them printed and while we were at Office Depot Laura grabbed some additional copies of Faith’s registration papers and I decided I’d re-copy all my documents just to be on the safe side.

Alas we collected our copies, received our business cards (which look pretty awesome I might add), had some lunch and headed for a bit of a touristy drive along San Diego’s city beaches and wondered the streets of the ritzy Coranda before enjoying late Jamaican and Kohito coffees at Migaul’s Cocina.

Our new Trip cards... and the instigators in the whole Office Depot ordeal

Our new Trip cards… and the instigators in the whole Office Depot ordeal

It may well be suggested or implied that alcohol does strange things to the mind, but pretty much as soon as we sat in Faith I had a feeling.. Yep, that feeling of ‘did I put my passport back into my travel wallet?’, upon investigation the answer was ‘No’.

With a very sly and unpanicked voice I looked at Laura and simply said ‘I don’t have my passport!’.

The look on her face was priceless.. Of utter shock and disbelief. ‘Your kidding me right?, you don’t have your passport?’ came her reply.

‘Nope, I think I left it at on the copy machine ar office depot’ I responded as I located the receipt from the purchase of our business cards and dialed the number.

Thankfully after speaking with a customer service rep at Office Depot, she confirmed that it had been handed in and that they had it.. PHEWWW

So with a quick detour on the way home I was re-united with my little blue book, never so happy, I don’t think, to have it back in my hot little hands (not even as happy as the day I received it).

You see, although I was pretty confident, my mind was still going a million miles an hour and while this whole trip relies on us both having our passports, the only real thing I was totally worried about was loosing a passport thats got all my stamps in it! It’s strange the silly and stupid things you think.

A VERY happy little vegemite tp have my passport back..

A VERY happy little vegemite tp have my passport back..

xJ


The road to Orlando

On the road in Pennsylvania

On the road in Pennsylvania

Working in an office it’s not unusual to receive marketing faxes for a variety of things. Tin sheds. Quickbooks training. Offers to help some Nigerian Doctor distribute the wealth of his recently passed millionaire uncle (all they need is your bank account details right.. How bad could it be).  But we also received travel package offers.

Just before Laura and I booked our trip to Cuba in 2012, we also brought one of these offers (after much deliberation, duplicate phone calls to the company, and receiving the same information).  The package included 3 nights in Orlando, FL, a 2 night Bahamas cruise and 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  The bonus, 2 nights in Las Vegas, NV that we used last September when we caught up before I flew home to Australia for a bit of a break.Unfortunately, or fortunately in our case, the package didn’t include flights, just accommodation.  Laura had always said that she’d love to drive down to Florida when we decided to use this package, so what better way to start our year traveling than with a trip to Orlando, a chance to live every childhood dream and visit Disney World and then spend a couple of days relaxing aboard a Celebrations cruise liner to the Bahamas and two days on the beach in Fort. Lauderdale?

And so the trip to Florida was born.

Deciding a route to take on any road trip can be mind numbing.  Neither of us aren’t necessarily against making the most of every opportunity to see something, but after numerous attempts to fulfill our traveling desires, we agreed that too much time in the US was going to drain our budgets significantly and that the drive from Saint Catharine’s to Orlando would just be that. A means to an end. Straight down the Interstates with very little detours.

Initially we had planned a route that would take us to Washington D.C., America’s capital and home to all things political, but after crossing into the US later than expected on Friday afternoon we altered our plans and hit the I90 toward Erie before heading south on the I79 towards Pittsburgh, PA for our first night.

Now you would think that with over twelve months to plan for this little adventure we are on, we would have at least our first nights accommodation sorted.

No.

Don’t be silly… What happens if you want to change plans? (And let’s just say this is not the first time this has happened to us on the road… Helena, Montana ringing any bells Laura?)

So on our first night we learnt a couple of things:

1. Perhaps being very carefree still requires a small amount of planning.

2. KOA campgrounds have a ‘no tents after dark policy’

3. The iPad can save loads of time when you can check availability of cheap hotels (read Super 8’s) and book online.

Night one was also the night we discovered Sheets, a fresh alternative to service station convenience stops and food on the go.

Day two had us up and back on the I79 early.  The further south we drove along the greying bitumen into Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the more evident it become that spring had sprung.  The new tree buds and pink and white cherry blossoms reminders of a new year and new beginnings.

Onto the I77 crossing from West Virginia to Virginia, we drove through some spectacular scenery that is the Appalachian Mountains.  Their peaks only recently cleared of snow and the signs of winter still lingering with the coolness in the air.

Night two, thankfully we had organized.  Friends back in Calgary had arranged for us to stay with family, so with a slight detour east we headed along the I40 towards Apex, NC.

What we found were amazing hosts that welcomed us into their home and lives and shared with us amazing travel stories of their own and a quaint little town that can only be described as peacefully beautiful.

From Apex, NC we hit the I95 and continued our journey southbound, through South Carolina before enjoying some typically southern lunch in Savannah, Georgia at Ronnie’s – think southern fried chicken and BBQ pulled pork sandwiches…YUMMO, at a typical American diner.

From Savannah we continued to follow the I95 hoping for glimpses of the Atlantic ocean to our east or even the opportunity to view one of those stately homes, you know the big old white ones that you see in the movies with the big columns out the front, only to have them blocked by the tall trees and dense foliage of the creeping vines.

Crossing the St. Mary’s river and into Florida we found Waldo (Aussie’s think Where’s Wally) before cruising into Gainesville, FL and spending the night with another gracious host, Laurie.

I first met Laurie back in 2011 when I came to Gainesville to visit with my cousin, Maree and her husband Jonathan while they where living and working aboard at the University of Florida.  Ree had worked some of her magic and arranged for us to stay with Laurie on this trip and it was just the rest and relaxation we needed after a long day driving before tackling the hustle and bustle that lie before us in Orlando.

Pat and Larry and Laurie we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for opening up your lives and your homes and accepting us in (as do both our families).

While it was only a short drive for us to Orlando, it seemed like forever, but eventually we saw the first signs for Disney World.  We had arrived at destination no. 1.


Today is just the begining

It’s a surreal feeling waking up and knowing that for the next unknown months of your life you will be waking up to your own time.  Treading your own path.

What started as a dream in Veradero, Cuba yesterday become a reality and we are now living the life that so many others only dream about.

After packing our lives into Faith (very nicely too I might add), running a few last-minute errands and taking in a quick tour of Lake Ontario, we hit the road. Destination …… south!

Crossing ‘Rainbow Bridge’ at Niagara Falls, ON life continued for everyone else like it does day in, day out. Hundreds of visitors lined the viewing platforms on both sides of Niagara Falls, while others took a closer look from the water on the ‘Maid of the Mist’ boats as they closed in under the thundering falls.  The mighty sound of falling water from both the US and Canadian falls carrying to the bridge were we sat idle enjoying their majestic beauty. Waiting to cross the US border.

With passports in hand we edged closer and closer, before finally being approved and allowed to enter the US.

Hello to our new lives.


We’re Pinning!!

Our Pinterest Home Page

How do you remember everything that you read on the net?  You don’t.. you PINTEREST it!

With so many countries to visit and an unlimited potential of sights, accommodation, places and things to do it would take a miracle for the two of us to remember everything AND there is no way that we want to carry a filing cabinet of information with us on the road……………………..

Enter Pinterest.

Pinterest is an online pin board, meaning that anything you read or see online or that you are able to save electronically can be ‘Pinned’ to your Pinterest profile (this means websites, scanned documents, photographs, etc) and  accessed from your Pinterest site where ever you are in the world (as long as you have access to the internet).

To enable you to ‘file’ information for easy recall, Pinterest provides its members with the ability to create numerous virtual boards with the idea of pinning like information with like information on a specific board.  In our case, we have started with establishing boards for each of the countries that we intend on visiting on our road trip and will continue to add boards as we see fit., both before and whilst we are on the road.

A sneak peek at some of the boards on our page.

While most boards are public and people are able to ‘follow’ your pins, Pinterest has recently introduced ‘secret boards’.  These are boards that are private and cannot be accessed by the general public, only members that you have approved for viewing.

For more information on Pinterest or to set up your own Pinterest account, check out their About Page here

Be sure to check out or Pinterest Page at http://pinterest.com/frolicinfreedom/ or if you are already a Pinterest user, make sure you follow us by clicking the ‘Follow Us’ Button on our Pinterest home page.


Do our readers want to decide?

Just to add a twist to our travel plans we are interested to know, would you like the opportunity to vote on where, how and what we do while we are on the road?


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Why not give it a go??

Why not ...


it all begins at the beginning

Not everything in life was created equal!

Some of us live in a world that is fast paced, continually changing and ever evolving. Sometimes we struggle to keep up, other times we flourish.

But out there, beyond what we call ‘normal’ is another world. A world that can be just as much the same as ours, but also a world that is much slower, much more basic and to us, a lot more interesting.

I first met Laura at an Australian meet up group function in Calgary, Alberta. Low and behold we literally lived across the road from each other and as two single girls we got together on the odd occasion for dinner or just to get out of the house, but it wasn’t till our first ‘road trip’ that we really become friends.

A lot of people can’t believe that I agreed to do a cross American road trip from Calgary to St. Catherine’s with someone who I’d only met such a short time earlier, let alone in a secondhand car that had only been purchased 3 weeks prior. But I did and it’s up there with some of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

x J

Laura and I enjoying a ‘couple’ of tasters at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, WI.


Welcome

Welcome to our little corner of the blogging world.

Our individual travelling journeys started some time ago, but on April 30th 2011 the lure of Canadian life and a game of Lacrosse on a wintry Calgary night led our paths to cross.

Since then we’ve packed up and road tripped Laura across the country (and the States) from Calgary to St Catherine’s, enjoyed a ‘winter escape’ in Cuba and explored Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon on a recent trip to Sin City.

It’s hard to believe that we have known each other for such a short time.. but when travelling, adventure and new experiences are in the mix, life makes it’s pretty easy.

Over the next six months we’ll update you on preparations for the upcoming journey.. our ultimate trip through North, Central and South America and relive some of our stories from our previous trips.

We hope you enjoy the journey.

xx j