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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Year One Status Report

May 16, 2016
by John

It is hard to believe that we have been on the road for a year. Time has dripped at warp speed. This past year felt like a decade long month. There were times it seemed as if we were running out of time yet we caught ourselves referring to moments as though they were weeks past while they were really only from a few days prior.

La Gringa, Baja Mexico

Shit definitely looks different when you glance back

Some Basic Stats

Total Miles Driven: 23,692

Gallons of Diesel: 1,571

Average MPG: 15.09

Best MPG: 18.22

Worst MPG: 11.85

Average Cost Per Gallon of Diesel: $3.20

# Nights Spent in the Van: 280 (77%)

# Nights Spent Elsewhere: 86 (8 afloat, 10 house sitting, 54 mooching off of friends and family, 14 in a hotel/apartment/rental home)

Most Valuable Smartphone Apps: Banking, iOverlander, Weather (we screen shot 5-10 days ahead if we think we won't have service),, Translate, WhatsApp, Facebook (Pan American Traveler's, Overland Sphere, and On the road in Mexico groups), Instagram (rough idea where other travelers are), Compass (digital level)

What We've Learned

Instead of regurgitating useless lists of the where and what of our first year we thought maybe we could provide something useful. While this may not prove so, hopefully there is a slight possibility it fosters a little insight for anyone considering a trip like ours.

We Are More Inside People Then We Thought

Many years ago, while researching traveling the U.S. in a travel trailer, I read several threads that suggested anyone considering full time life figure out whether they were inside or outside people. We agree with that sentiment but it takes much longer than can be assumed to really sort it out. When we camped and took vacations we were entirely outside people. A year spent living in a van has taught us we're really closer to 50/50. While we love being outside we prefer to perform our mundane chores, cooking, blogging, route planning, etc., inside. We are grateful to those who strongly recommended having an indoor space when we asked them about overland rigs.

We Are Not Drivers

Yes, we are on a driving trip. However, driving is the means and not the trip itself. We thoroughly enjoyed the Dempster highway, Turnagain Arm, and our routes through Veracruz and Chiapas to name a few. What we don't like is driving long distances almost every day. That's what took a toll on us in the great white north and why our style has almost gone full circle to the slower, erratic nature it has today. Ironically, we probably drive more miles than we should due to our loops, back tracking, and obscure route planning. This works for us because we can strike a balance between hanging in one spot for three or more days before setting off on a multi-day drive. Several times we have ended exactly where we started, chilling in a place we like both pre and post drive.

Fast Food Is Not Off The Menu

Our relationship with fast food changed many years ago, becoming boycotters of the big industrial food-like product pushers. While we are still strong advocates of eating clean and putting an end to big conglomerates, sometimes our ideals are sequestered to the back seat. It cannot be explained, the allure of the Golden Arches, when you see them after not even noticing they were ever gone. Slamming the brakes to indulge in gastric horror has a way of enlightening one to inner desires. We have only succumbed a few times, we are not proud.

Less Is Always More, In All Things

We all know this, then we over think it and screw shit up. We obviously have too much crap, a great deal hasn't been used. We keep it because we have it and we think it's foolish to have to re-buy something we already had, that's utterly and entirely stupid - yet we still haven't gotten rid of enough stuff. Same for when we changed our jack-knife sofa. We wanted flexibility but were over engineering it. Velcro, a clip strap, and four 1" tubes are all we needed to use our cushions as an upper bed in the extreme heat. Fancy shit is cool, takes up space, and becomes a nightmare to field repair.

Sometimes You Have To Sleep With The Enemy

Many of nights have been spent under florescent street lamps in dingy to immaculate parking lots. Truth be told, the big box brands have some of the nicest facilities and parking spaces available. Once again our romantic ideals must be swallowed for something as simple as toilet paper in the bathrooms. Sinks with hot water, be damned, we may never leave.

We Are Too Old To Be That Cheap

It would be easy to free camp everywhere and eat nothing except for beans and rice, eff that shit. Maybe 10-15 years ago but no mo', we're not going to skimp on the simple pleasures. We worked really hard and sacrificed a lot to be where we are, punishing ourselves now would defeat the purpose. When we want to eat out we do. Sure, street food has been really affordable in Mexico so it's pretty easy to eat on the cheap. Us oldies need a "real" sit down every now and then which adds up. Entrance fees, souvenirs, van upgrades, camping, etc., inflate our overall expenses but make a big difference in overall experience.

Everyone's Trip is Different

We knew this one going in but since we read so many blogs we had formulated some unexpected expectations. Nothing shocking, just learning how we are similar and different from our overland friends. We aren't desert people and we like things pertaining to nature and archaeology so it's expected we'd like the ruins set in the jungle over others. We also love the Caribbean beaches so how could any other compare, we're sure we'll one day find one that ranks equally. These preferences determine our perspective ultimately deriving our opinion or "experience". While we are not individual and unique snowflakes, we do interpret things differently.

There Are No Firsts

This one is not for us but is for aspiring travelers. We have met several overlanders that appear to be looking for something to set them apart, some claim to internet fame, a uniqueness or un/under discovered place. We have joked in our blog about feeling like Indiana Jones at times but that is a mythical character. Humans have dominated this planet for at least 10,000 years and have traversed it the entire time. While the possibility of discovering an obscure species in the Amazon is possible, the probability of actually doing it not so much. There is a lot to do and see in this wonderful world. We are overlanders not expeditionists, no matter what words are used in company names.

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Say what? (4)
May 17, 2016 at 10:03 AM
oh wow.. I hope you guys can fully understand just how much this post resonated with us!!! We, too, had set ourselves up for certain expectations pre-trip based on our weekend persona back in the 9-5 along with the reading of so many others blogs. I, too, am actually in the middle of writing a similar type of post on what we've learned about ourselves at only 130 days into the trip and some of the discoveries have been eye-opening and somewhat surprising to us. Love this!
May 17, 2016 at 02:45 PM
Thanks Rhonda! We can't imagine how different, for the better, we will be after the next year to come. One day we will all get to swap war stories, growth insights, and favorite experiences over drinks and/or around a fire.
May 19, 2016 at 08:08 AM
Worked for your mom many yrs at JAC, yes, we met that as well. She has keep me updated on this adventure. Congratsulations on living your dream. Cheers, George
May 28, 2016 at 02:48 PM
Thanks George. If you know of any places near where we will be please share!
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