Monday, March 9, 2015

The Adventure Is Dead - LONG LIVE THE ADVENTURE!

3 Years In America

On my way back to the USA I stopped in Tokyo and spent 4 days with my brother who is an expat, & has lived in Japan for 13 years. He had just spent 3 weeks back in the US visiting our mother and I asked him for some entertainment hints regarding cable TV. His advice was keenly accurate, “All channels from 1-100 are, “How I met your Mother”. All channels above 100 show either pawn shops or storage container auctions” I had no idea what he meant, until I parked myself on the couch at mom’s house. I’m back . . . .

For the first 6 months, I could stand in any cashier checkout line in any city in America and feel like a complete foreigner even though I have a perfect American accent and look like every other guy at Home Depot. I didn’t know the first thing about pop culture or any current events. The cover of the magazines held no familiar faces or names. I barely knew the politicians or the issues. During those 6 years in the 3rd world, nearly all of my transactions were conducted in a foreign country with a foreign currency in a foreign language. Now I swipe my debit card without even exchanging a smile with the cashier at Walmart. Too easy mate. Convenience gets boring.

This is a verbatim entry I wrote to myself last year: “Humans need to be challenged and I’m no different. I’m living in San Diego CA and it’s a very pleasant easy convenient life with consistently wonderful weather. But I feel bored. Why? I could find challenge in the business I’m creating but it’s not the challenge I want. I’m looking for something more base. Something more carnal. Something that I can feel hourly and that has more serious consequences. I don’t want to sleep walk through my days which is what I do here. It’s too easy. I want an existence that is closer to the bone. I want to wake up with a jolt and go to bed feeling fulfilled and that happens for me when I’m in motion. TRAVEL!!!”

Truck + Camper = Freedom

Mark Sessions is a childhood friend. When we were 19 we drove a motorcycle around the western US for a summer. It was a wonderful adventure and I credit it for kick starting my wanderlust. I floated my idea of an overland driving adventure to Mark and unknown to me; he began shopping for the rig. In Aug of this year he bought it and offered it to me at cost. I flew to Phx and fell in love. The truck is a 1999 Ford F250 4x4 Superduty 7.3 liter diesel. The camper is a 1998 Northstar 10.5 XL. Collectively I refer to them as a “She”, as in - “She’s got character, and I love her”. I call her one of 2 names: LC for Landcomber (pronounced “Elsie” cuz she’s a bit of a fat Guernsey), or “Freedom Machine”. My friends seem to have latched onto Freedom Machine since I turned it into a hit single that I’ve been known to sing in the late hours at the bar.
She's a work in progress

Mark and his whole family got behind the effort of readying her for the upcoming adventure. I’ve thanked them many times and now it’s on the Web. Another man I need to thank is Ben Kates. We met in Bali when we were sailors on our boats and by chance we both ended up back in San Diego. Ben let me park Elsie at his house and helped me put on the solar panel, wire it to the battery (he gave me for free!) and install the winch mounting bar that took more than 2 days. What a hero! Adventures take planning and lots of help.
Ben cleaning a fish in Baja

So what’s the plan?

Maybe this is the formula for creating an amazing experience: Do your due diligence. Make sure your airbags and safety belts are in place, check the weather reports, and then throw yourself off a cliff. In other words; improve your odds the best you can and then take huge chances. The plan is for me to drive this rig all the way to the farthest tip of South America and back.
It’s my intention to stay in RV parks for the first couple weeks until I learn the ropes and get south of the Cartel violence. Maybe I’ll adopt a dog as an added security measure. Maybe not. I’ll be on the lookout for like-minded "overlanders" (that's what I’m called now. no more "cruiser". i've been demoted;-) and a single gal who might want to travel with me. I'm a decade older than I was when I left 10 years ago on Barraveigh. My hair continues to thin and the sun damage has caught up with a vengeance, but I'm keeping hope alive that I can still land a cutey. Why wouldn't I - I got a 1998 camper that is at least 75 sq ft! That was a very funny joke. You aren't laughing. Why aren't you laughing?

The plan breaks down like this: I’ll spend the first year in Central America. The second on the west coast of South America and the third year on the east coast of South America and then drive back to SD.  The trip I just described is about 40,000 miles. Spread over 3 years, it’s a leisurely pace befitting of my new snail costume.

What took you so long?

It all happens by degree. It has been a slow surrender. My friends in S’Mish have said goodbye to me numerous times and then I’d stick around for one more party. Sometimes you have to paint yourself out of the picture to actually get yourself out the door. I leased out my top 2 floors and moved into the studio below. I threw away my SD library and Ralph’s reward cards. I sold my car. And lastly - I cleaned out the fridge/freezer and unplugged it, leaving the door open. That’s when it hit me. Nothing looks more final than an open empty fridge. Goodbye SD. You are the hardest lady I’ve ever had to break up with . . . twice.

Unlike Sammy Hagar - I Can Drive 55

The work is done. I have spent and fretted and raked my knuckles enough. I leave tomorrow morning. Everything else can be tackled on the fly. I got a white board and every tool I can carry. I'm trying to quickly get down to Puerto Vallarta to catch my sailing buddy Dan ( who is about to cross the Pacific.

Everyone needs a “Freedom Machine”. Barraveigh was a FM. But it doesn’t have to be so big that you can live in it. Whether it’s a surfboard or a bicycle or a skateboard – whatever it is that morphs into an escape pod when you choose it to – that’s a Freedom Machine. I got a Freedom Machine. What’s your Freedom Machine?

~Blacktop Bobby~


Anonymous said...

What comment do I leave on the blog of a man with whom I shared a chapter or two on his sea going Freedom Machine? He mentioned failed relationships in his previous update. Ours has not failed, it changed title for sure but I will always be a friend, supporter & a huge fan.
Bobby, go live that adventurous life, find those corners of the world that only those with enthusiasm to live that alternative life can experience. I will be reading your updates with very green eyes & itchy feet. Happy Wandering my friend.
Oh & my FM - a little grey T4 VW campervan called Lady Portia that I bought a few years ago on my return from life onboard Barraveigh.

The Beatties said...

Where's Suzi? She'd make a great co-pilot...yes?

Pete Dangerfield said...

Good luck Bobby, can't wait to read all about your adventures.

Fredrik said...

Excellent plan Smithers! My own FM is a 1993 Eurovan Weekender. I call her: The Lone Man Family Adventure Mobile. That would be yours truly and his four women. Shoot, sometimes yours truly even bring his mom to make it 5 women! Last year the road-trip adventure was Malmo (Sverige) - Barcelona (Espania). This year the plan is London (Ont) - Prince Edward Island.
As the saying goes: keep your eyes on the road, your hand upon the wheel....

Anonymous said...

Happy Trails, Rob! I'll look forward to each and every one of your posts. Oh, and by the way, my FM is a horse called Al (short for Alvin). Earlier today we went on a little adventure. We both made it back home before lunch safe & sound:-) Also, I have one request, could you post a video of you singing your theme song? Be safe! Connie

Unknown said...

Use 4 wheel

Captain Bobby said...

That's Suzi's comment just above yours. She is in Brighton having her own exciting life. We are, and will be, fast friends forever.


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