Two technology consultants in their late 20s who are jealous of school teachers and their summers off. We live in the Washington D.C. area, met in college, and both graduated with degrees in Computer Science from James Madison. One of us is from North Potomac, Maryland and the other from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Sara is a natural athlete who played field hockey for JMU and is always super in-shape... I enjoy scotch, comfortable chairs, and pretend to be in shape by running a few races each year.
To answer all of the questions we have received concerning our life on the road for 3.5 months, we put the following material together. As many of you know, we tend to get pure joy from the challenge of planning the logistics for something like this. Ask us in mid-October whether it was carefully planned or a complete disaster... either way you can bet we had fun.
No, we like each other and are looking forward to it… if you know us then you know this won’t be a problem.
Sara and I work for great companies and great managers who were understanding and very supportive (Washington Consulting and Knightsbridge/HP). We saved a bunch of money and both took an unpaid leave of absence for 3 months with a few weeks of vacation tacked on the end. We were allowed to keep our health insurance and apparently will still have jobs when we get back.
Anything with “ing” after it. Hiking, biking, eating, drinking, driving, sightseeing, running, camping, flying, swimming, fishing, amusement parking, friend and relative visiting, rafting, sailing, whatever. Sport a flat-top haircut (ala 6th grade), grow a beard, get a tan, train for our race in October.
We have no real responsibilities aside from a few potted plants and they barely get any water when we are home as it is. We forwarded our mail and canceled some utilities. Long live auto bill-pay!
We will have kids soon (yikes) and this our last chance for a while... so why not?
We started in late September 2006. Originally we were going to take an entire year off, but then we came to our senses and decided that 3.5 months off was plenty. We didn't want to completely throw our careers away just to soothe our short-term “1/3 life crisis”.
Spreadsheets, lists, assumptions, and many Google searches. If, after the trip we feel that we have something of value which others could benefit from, we might put some of the materials out there in a reusable format.
No-- we are taking our Ford Explorer, a rooftop box, and a bike rack.
This was actually a major decision that we agonized over for months and months. We went to R.V. shows and dealerships and looked for used ones daily. I read books, websites, and chatted on forums... I am embarrassed frankly with the amount of useless knowledge I gained recently on this topic... I consider myself extremely knowledgeable on the positives, negatives of each class, fuel economy, chassis design, resale value, depreciation, axel ratios, weight-distributing hitches, gross-vehicle weights, tankage... just try me. See you on the RV.net forums! Just kidding… sort-of.
When it came down to it, we made the decision to not buy an R.V. or trailer because of the following factors:
We know our travel style... fast and flexible. We didn't want to drive in the right lane 15 miles below the speed-limit getting 6 miles to the gallon. Many parks and out-of-the-way places don't even allow the larger rig types or trailers. We are also planning on spending a lot of time in cities, not just the wilderness areas, so we didn't want to worry about where to park it, etc.
As gas continues to rise, cost became a big factor... Even starting with a used vehicle, we had difficulty justifying the additional costs incurred versus the added convenience and creature comforts of an RV. Adding up depreciation, loan costs, potential time it would take to re-sell the vehicle when we return, poor(er) MPG, additional repair costs, and insurance, it just didn't make sense. We even budgeted in about 10 nights a month for hotels and still think it will cost significantly less doing a mix of camping and hotels than to take an RV or trailer.
We came very close on a Class B/Roadtrek (like a van) or a short 18 foot travel trailer towed behind the Explorer. Yes, both would offer interior living space, shower, a toilet, a T.V., a place to get away from the elements, air-conditioning... but isn't that what this trip is about? getting away from the normal daily grind? Oh and it will cost significantly less only taking the Explorer you say? Done.
Very carefully. It actually wouldn’t be that all that challenging except that we anticipate crashing in the back of the car once in awhile. It might be raining and we will be too lazy to set up the tent or too tired of driving and end up in a Wal-Mart parking lot, who knows. So not only do we have a lot of crap, but that crap may have to coexist with us inside the car while we are laying on our full-size air-mattress. Impossible? We love a good challenge. See the pictures.
We found this great 5 day cooler… supposedly it keeps ice in 90 degree weather for 5 days - we'll see about that. However, it seems easier than carrying a portable fridge which always has to stay plugged in.
We have stockpiled 70 GB of MP3s (about 15,000 songs). I tried to hard-wire in an auxiliary audio input into the Explorer factory radio but it didn't work... back to the drawing board (FM modulator - ugggh)
We have two modes of camping and too much gear for both:
A car camping setup with more creature comforts like chairs, a table, a two-burner stove, pots and pans, pillows, plenty of Pabst Blue-ribbon and a wife-beater undershirt pre-stained with barbecue sauce.
A backcountry setup with enough gear to climb Mount Everest: full packs, trekking poles, bed rolls, water purifiers, GPS, grizzly bear pepper spray (Sara is not happy about this one).
We like fresh air and not working, but we are still dorks. We will be using my Motorola Q phone plugged to the laptop via USB to create a shared network connection to Verizon when we are in an area with signal. We set up the blog so that we could post pictures and text through email and pull it on to this site using Blogspot. If you understood that you are a dork too.
Who said anything about showering… see plans for flat-top hair cut and not shaving above.