We are at the halfway point of our nine-day journey from the West Coast back to the East Coast, so an update would be appropriate.
On Friday morning, my boyfriend and I packed up all our belongings and placed them strategically into the trunk of one vehicle — the other had gotten sold only two days prior, which was such lucky timing. I realized the vast majority of our “stuff” was related to our hobbies: rock climbing gear, camping/backpacking gear, art/painting supplies and paintings, yoga mats, and books. Our clothes combined could have fit into one small rolling suitcase, thanks to several previous wardrobe purges in an effort to travel more lightly with a minimalistic wardrobe — wearing scrub uniforms for work also helped greatly, in addition to living in a warmer climate. But gosh, how to keep up with these hobbies that require gear if we continue to try downsizing and traveling light?
After loading up and saying our goodbyes to the lovely couple we had been renting a furnished room from in Santa Barbara, we started our trip. So long, California! First stop: Tucson, Arizona, where we had a comfortable Airbnb booked and a gym workout planned — after nine hours in the car, these were much needed.
We got to see the start of a beautiful sunset in Tucson and I tried prickly pear cactus in the form of nopalitos for dinner. Overall, it was a short but positive first Tucson/southern Arizona visit. We had done some sightseeing in the northern part of Arizona on our previous cross-country road trip, during which we zigzagged through the middle of the U.S. from Boston to California. So it felt fitting to balance out and do a different route across the country this time, but the desert is *hot* this time of year.
Day 2: We drove from Tucson to a middle-of-nowhere town in Texas that we had picked the previous week for an overnight stay: Fort Stockton (because “Stockton,” and John Stockton is a retired pro basketball player Jim idolized as a kid — it’s the little things in life). No Airbnbs near here, so we went with a hotel and had a Triple A discount, which helped our budget. We traveled through two time zones and ended up at the U.S. Border Patrol at some point near the Mexico border, which was confusing but exciting because we didn’t even have to leave the country to say we went through Border Patrol. Amusing.
The next morning we continued on to San Antonio, where we visited a great couple we had met in California, both traveling OTRs. An afternoon and evening of catching up, laughing, and exploring really helped break up the long drives and highway life.
One challenge I have been running into during these breaks or gaps in between travel assignments is the mentality of vacationing versus being unemployed, which leads to some anxiety regarding “Am I doing this right?” and “Where is the balance?” Contract jobs usually open up within a few weeks (or even days) of the expected start date, so planning far ahead is nearly impossible.
We are currently in New Orleans for the first time, visiting relatives of Jim’s, taking the day off from driving, and allowing Jim to do some work (he’s currently working as a web programmer/entrepreneur, which allows him to be mobile and still have work coming in).
I am still learning too, but the best advice I've got for the new traveling professional is try not to focus on what you think you “should” be doing, try to enjoy the time off, maintain savings or an emergency fund, and stick with a budget. The next job will arrive soon enough! So I guess this is the time for me to learn to trust the universe a little better. Everything always has worked out.
More updates on my adventures as a new travel therapist to come. Until then, may this week bring you the opportunity to try a new food, new hobby, or new experience.