We are the vagabonds, the adventure travelers, the free spirits. The people whose roots grow by traveling the world and not by owning a house. When asked where we are from, the most common answer is “my storage unit is in ____.” The question that usually follows is “well what do you do?” This question causes a guttural reaction every time, leaving me to wonder whether I tell them the full story or to leave it short and generic, cutting out the answers that will lead to more questions.
2016 - My co-workers and I surrounding the Fule Mule, a fuel truck that was retired later that season. McMurdo Station, Antarcrtica.
Well what do you DO?
How do you explain that you travel all summer and work all winter in Antarctica? Or that you fight Wildland Fires all summer and travel all winter? That I choose jobs that pay enough to save a lump sum of money in order to travel without the need to work for at least a few months?
For some it’s a hard concept to grasp. How does one begin to explain away societal norms that so many choose to live by? A 40 hour per week job, most likely located in one location, a house to live in and an income to pay for it. These are all amazing things to have and I can't say one bad thing about them.
To wake up knowing which state you’re in, or better yet, which roof you’re sleeping under has got to be amazing! To have a 401K plan, health insurance, and a church community. Roots, yet of a different nature. I frequently daydream of these things. Just last month I had made the decision to live in the state where my family resides. I made the choice to be there all winter, but while driving there I was already planning the next flight to book. Will it be Iceland finally or should I finally set foot in England?
After a summer on the road, it took less than 2 weeks to decompress and come to this final conclusion. Taming a free spirit is like trying to box the wind. It just doesn’t work, nor does the concept even make sense. Every effort I make at trying to settle down is thwarted by an opportunity to explore a new job or country, or job that takes me to a new country.
You’d be surprised at how many people are truly in awe of this ‘homeless’ life. When asked where I lived this summer, I answered in my Wee Bitty (the name for my 4x6 enclosed trailer). I was traveling the USA mountain biking wherever possible and following a dream (down2bikeproject.com). The most common reply is “I wish I had done all that before settling down” or “it must be nice being on vacation all summer long.”
The grass is always greener on the other side folks. I purposely leave out the details of the 16 hour drive days that caused hallucinations or the unsettling feeling of trying to find a safe place to park for some rest without being hassled. I leave out the part when I lie about having a boyfriend with me for fear of being followed, robbed or worse yet, being raped. (Side note: Bear spray, my car alarm and having a covert sleeping rig helps gain a sense of security back).
Then why do it?
Because there is a constant pull, a gravitational like force instilled in my innermost being. The knowledge of so many places and people that are out there and how little I’ve seen. The truth is, I’m 34 years old and over 1/3rd of my life is over and gone, never to be recovered. There is no guarantee of how long I will be blessed with this magnificent world to explore. God has yet to tell me the days, months and years I have left to live. So I figure why not go for it and reach farther than my grasp. To ask without fear of the answer, because it’s better to ask than to live with a ‘what if’ or ‘I should have.’
So I’m off on another adventure. A return to the continent of Antarctica where the everyday employee is also a vagabond, a world traveler, a free spirit. Antarctica, a rare place that when you ask someone where they’re from, the common answer is “My storage unit is located in ___.” I can’t help but feel at home there, but realize it’s not the place that feels like home. It’s being surrounded by the people who understand what it means to try and tame the wind.
2013 Fuels Crew - McMurdo Station, Antarctica. My first season experiencing 'the ice.'
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