Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Back On 2012: Transition

Looking back on 2012, it's been a year of transition for me.

The first six months I spent in south-central Pennsylvania were generally good, productive and fun. Mostly, though, it was a rewarding experiment in being in one place for a while.

Very different from my constantly moving, high-energy lifestyle of the past six years, I found myself feeling surprisingly comfortable living at a slower pace. Developing deeper connections with people in a community, following-up on opportunities rather than just moving on to the next one, and making progress on projects instead of perpetual travel plans were salient parts of my experience.

Although I was careful to make clear to everyone that I wouldn't be staying forever, there was a different energy from them thinking I would be gone tomorrow. It fostered a momentum to move relationships and projects forward, but without the manic urgency of "now or never." My departure stemmed from my readiness to move on, rather than being driven by a train timetable.

I was aware of this being a different mode of living my life, and upon reflection I see that it was the beginning of a larger scale transition. I'm still not interested in living someplace forever, but I think I may have transitioned from being a full-time traveler to being something more like a serial seasonal resident. I'm looking forward to exploring -- and reporting -- more about this transition.

Similarly, my cross-country road trip on US Highway 30 was different from my previous treks. It was less like "what I'm doing en route to the next big adventure" and more like "the migration to my next place for a while." I was bound for the pacific northwest, but I didn't have a pre-set arrival date in mind. No boat to catch, no event to be in time for and no reason to hurry along the way.

As a result, I enjoyed the trip more than past drives. Despite the fact that the road itself was the least pleasant one I've driven, I stopped more often, spent more time in places and got more out of it overall. Hanging out for hours with old ladies in little town museums was a new and surprisingly enjoyable experience. I also found myself looking at places as possible seasonal locations, rather than just as burgs I've been through. Upon reflection, that's more evidence of a personal transition.

It's been my experience that life gives us profound and compelling opportunities to realize what we need to, when we need to. This fall has been an example of that for me. Virtually everything that has happened in the past three months has spurred, spotlighted and reinforced the transition I'm in:
• The theft of my truck triggered a complete overhaul of my road-rig and living situation. I don't have nearly the same degree of capabilities for extreme exploration, but I'm significantly more comfortable for seasonal stays. I'm honestly happier with the result going forward than I am sad about the loss behind me.

• Last month, my 96 year-old "aunt" had an episode that put her in the hospital, followed by a stint in rehab. I spent time in New York making adjustments to her living situation so that she could move home again, and to help set her up to live the rest of her life as best she can. It's clear to me that the timeline of caring for elders in my life has begun, and that also has implications for my transition going forward. Being able to change locations and stay someplace for a while has taken proper priority over being footloose in the world.

• This past month I've had a very personal experience of love, loss and longing. I'm not willing to say any more about it in this venue, except that it has greatly increased my clarity about what I want in my life going forward. Thus, I'm aware that my current transition extends beyond changing where I go, what I do and how I do it. Who will go with me now matters.
I've been thinking about how to write this post for a few days, but it wasn't until I stood on the deck of a ferry boat to the San Juan islands yesterday that it became clear. Looking out across the cold, misty straits I thought, "I can't see what's around that foggy point, but I know it's gonna be great!"

So there's my look back on 2012: Macgellan has been in transition, an evolution which will almost certainly continue apace in 2013.

I fully expect to continue my explorations, and will happily report my findings as warranted. The ongoing Voyage of Macgellan may be different and harder to predict, but I'm sure it's going to be great… Stay tuned!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Winter Camp

Greetings from my Winter Camp! As you can see, I'm in a nice, open lot in a beautifully wooded campground. I'm quite happy with my location for the winter, just a few minutes from "downtown" Anacortes in one direction and roads leading to the larger cities of Burlington, Bellingham and Seattle in the other.

As you can also see, I've completely restructured my Road Rig -- aka "World Headquarters of Me Right Now" -- consisting of a new truck and a new trailer. This restructuring has involved a pretty complicated set of variables, constraints and transactions -- too much to explain in full -- but here's the gist of it:

I've downsized my truck to a Ford F-150, basically a smaller, lighter, more nimble of version of Darth's F-350 stature. Accordingly, I've named my new truck Anakin, a reference which I hope is fairly obvious. He's got plenty of interior room and comfort, plus all the modern technology with which I am trying to become familiar. He doesn't have the same hauling or towing capacity as Darth, but his twin-turbo EcoBoost engine has plenty of pep and power to meet my needs going forward. So far, I'm pretty impressed and happy with him.

Downsizing my truck prompted me to also downsize from my Arctic Fox camper and sled. Since there's no way I could ever put the camper in the back of my new truck, I could never use it as a truck camper again. Leaving it permanently on the sled and hauling that combined rig around all the time doesn't make sense either, mostly because it is very heavy for its size.

So, I traded in the combined camper and sled for a new, traditional travel trailer. At 20 feet long, it's just about the same overall length as my old rig, but it is less than half the weight and easily within the towing capacity of Anakin. It's also got substantially more interior space which -- after a little customization -- should suit me very well going forward.

The past month has been disruptive, exhausting and expensive for me, but I feel good about where I am now. I don't have the same configuration options or overall capabilities with my new rig, but it's lighter, more comfortable, lower impact and less expensive to operate. I'm looking forward to being in my winter camp for the next few months and will post current events as warranted.

I expect to hit the road again early next spring. Meanwhile… Stay tuned!