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Chapter 1. Leaving it all behind
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One Year Before We Left
Our homemade calendar had shrunk to a dozen pieces of paper. We were down to the final year. The big "12" highlighted on the top couldnít be avoided. This short amount of time pushed the issue of commitment. If we were actually going to go through with our plan, several critical tasks had to be completed. Accomplishing these tasks would require commitment from Cindie and push us past the point of no return. We had to sell or box for storage everything we owned except what we could carry on two bicycles. In addition, we had to move out and rent our house, switch bank accounts and cancel auto insurance policies. My discrete persuasion and patience was put to the test.
Previously, Cindieís first reason for not going was the lack of funds. Now, the numbers in our bank account looked good and she knew that we could reach our savings goal of $105,000 within twelve more months. This caused the true fears inside of her to surface. Completely letting go of the security and comfort of her current lifestyle was staring her in the face. Everything she was used to would be left behind. I am not exactly sure when she decided to commit fully. It was gradual. Nevertheless, I was happy when she told me she was ready to quit her job and go. She later confessed that she wanted to go on the trip while she was still willing to camp and sleep on the ground.
Once she was committed, she never looked back. She isnít a quitter. Now that we have been on the road for several years, it would be impossible to talk her out of it. She is also married to the road. A true rambling woman.
I formulated the escape plan. I truly thought of it as an escape plan because it seemed as if everyone and everything was trying to prevent us from living out our dream. Our friends outside of work told us that we were crazy and tried to convince us to keep our careers. I knew that they were only looking out for our best interests. They still didnít think we were serious. We were alone.
Going from living in a house with a car to living in a tent with a bicycle is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Whenever people ask us what has been the hardest part of our global bicycle adventure, we answer, "pedaling out of our driveway." It was easy to save money compared to working out all the details of moving to our new lifestyle. This wasnít only a vacation where we had to arrange to have our mail held and plants watered. This involved things like juggling our time with ending our jobs, selling our cars and painting the house.
I came up with a plan that would eventually leave us with only a tent to call home. I feared that this extreme change would be a huge jolt to our mental health. We needed a transitional lifestyle that wasnít yet on the bikes, but with fewer comforts than living in our house. Besides, we had a lot of work to do on the house to prepare it for renters. We wanted renters before we left, so we couldnít stay in our house until the day we left on our bikes. I decided that we would move back into our old and rickety RV as a temporary step between worlds. This was the key to solving the problem.
Our RV motor home we lived in it rent free while we saved and prepared for our long bicycle tour. You can see the generator and the blue water containers on the back. One of them has a siphon hose filling the fresh water tank.
We started the long process of moving out of the house by having a big garage sale. This wasnít an ordinary garage sale. We were selling almost everything we owned. Things that seemed essential now felt like anchors holding us down. We questioned why we even had a toaster we never used. We had pots that didnít have lids, clothes that were too small and enough extra sheets to supply a small motel. We emptied everything out of the house in two days. Basic essentials and work clothes were set up in the RV, and the rest was placed on the driveway to sell. The prices were ridiculously low. Everything had to go in one short weekend. This drew hordes of people. They were sifting through our things and buying all our possessions.
Our friends and neighbors were concerned; this was the first concrete evidence that we had lost our minds and were serious about leaving. They pleaded with us to "think hard" and reconsider. We were thinking but not the same way they were.
Cindie cried after watching her beloved houseplants, dress shoes, crock-pot and other favorite trinkets vanish from her life. These things must have seemed irreplaceable to her. I had a different outlook on the matter. I felt relieved to lighten the load. We were moving in the right direction. I comforted Cindie, telling her that we could always buy new things but that traveling the world was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our lives were forever going to be different. It was like taking a giant leap in the dark and hoping to land in a good place.
Finally, everything was sold or given to charity. The last item out of the house was our bed, marking the final conversion to RV living. We stayed parked in the driveway while we prepared our empty house for renters. We cleaned and painted every day after work for a month.
Once the house was ready, we had several property management companies come by and look at it. This was nerve racking. We werenít sure how much monthly rent we could collect. We needed enough to cover the mortgage, 10% property management fees, insurance and a little left over to pay for occasional repairs. We both knew that if we couldnít rent our house for a substantial amount of money that we would have to sell it. I wanted to find a way of keeping our house. I knew from traveling in the past that itís hard not to have a place that I could call home and theoretically return. Most of the property managers told us that our house wouldnít be worth enough in monthly rent to cover our expenses. One company liked our house and believed that it was marketable. They told us that it would be easy to collect enough rent to cover our expenses. We signed a contract, and they took over.
Signing the contract with the property management company meant that we had to move our RV permanently from the driveway. I was teaching at a remote residential school. We parked the RV a few miles from the school. This worked out well in several ways. I was close enough to my job so that I could ride my bike. Besides building my fitness, I was now able to sell my car. Cindie still needed her truck to go to her job. We knew that we would have to sell it at the last possible minute. We never worried about selling the RV because it was disposable. I knew as a last resort that I could always drive it to a junk yard the day before we left.
The other advantage to living in our small RV was that it was free. Our house was now rented and paying for itself. We were still working and could save the money that we normally sent to the mortgage. We did this for several months.
We had been researching touring bikes, travel clothing and camping gear for months. Now that the big job of selling our things and moving out of the house was complete, we were ready to make final decisions and buy equipment. We bought all of our equipment Ė such as a tent, bike clothing and camp stove Ė on the internet and sent it to Cindieís work address.
Two Months Before We Left
While we were living in the RV and buying equipment, we had been keeping our plans hidden from people at our work places. Soon, however, boxes were arriving almost daily at Cindieís office because that was now the only physical address we had, and her coworkers were growing suspicious.
My principal and coworkers were confused when I started showing up to work on my mountain bike. They knew that the school was a 45-minute drive from my house. What they didnít know was that we were living in the RV a few miles from the school. When questioned, I told them that I was trying to get back in shape. Rumors were flying around at both of our workplaces. I could only imagine what people were dreaming up to explain things they didnít understand.
Two months before we left, we both submitted resignation letters to our supervisors. I wrote a brief memo announcing when my last day of work would be and that I was quitting because I was leaving on a seven- year around-the-world bike tour. They initially were skeptical; they could not believe that my wild story was true. When Cindie gave notice, her boss took the news better than she expected. He was supportive and helped make the final days of leaving smoother.
Telling all of our friends was much easier than those at our jobs because I had been hinting to them that we were leaving for years. We wrote a group email that we sent to over three hundred friends and both of our families. This letter also committed us to leaving on a specific date. The letter told the world when and where we were going to break free and start living out our dreams.
The Plan: Our Letter Ė
At this point, we plan to spend the first four weeks meandering around southern Arizona to get our legs strong and break in the gear. Around May 1, 2002, we will cross the US-Mexico border at Douglas and begin the many climbs into the central Mexico highlands. Around July, or so, we want to spend a few weeks going to a Spanish immersion school in Guanajuato, Mexico. The famous velodrome (bicycle race track), where Eddy Merckx set the hour record, is on our list as well. Around October 2002, we will descend out of the Central highlands of Mexico and cross the Guatemalan border in late November, 2002.
We will spend about five months in Central America riding south through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica until we arrive in Panama around April, 2003. At this time, we plan to visit my family in Indiana and Cindieís family in Connecticut for a month. After our time in the states, we hope to continue either in Colombia or Ecuador around June, 2003. Colombia is a great bike country but not the kind of place you want to visit in a bad year.
If all goes well we will follow the spine of the Andes Mountains south all the way to Southern Chile. We havenít decided whether we want to go all the way to the tip at Terra Del Fuego or not, but around March 2004 we plan on flying to Africa to spend several months riding in the more friendly countries (not in civil war) of that continent.
After Africa, we think that we may want to teach English in Europe. Maybe southern Spain or Greece in September 2004. Athens for the 2004 summer Olympics may be a possibility too. Besides teaching English, we would like to travel around Europe for a year. I am sure we will have to catch a major portion of the Tour De France or we will surely feel like we came to dinner but never really ate.
Things get very sketchy after that, but I can see us flying from Europe to Hong Kong and riding several months in China and eventually meandering south through Asia until we get to Australia. Australia will take about a year to explore. Heading to New Zealand is a requirement that I must accomplish in order to satisfy an agreement that I made with Cindie. You have no idea what other things I had to agree to before she would go on this trip, but she is my trooper and worth every effort.
Come Join Us
We leave Saturday March 30, 2002. We will have breakfast at the Tecate Grill in downtown Prescott at around 8 a.m. We will be leaving on our adventure from the Prescott Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. I would like to invite anyone who wants to see us off to meet us for breakfast at the Tecate Grill and/or at the Prescott Courthouse to ride with us one last time. I know that this will be impossible for the many out of state recipients of this email and we will have to catch up with you later. For the rest we would like one last grind up the Whitespars together or at least coffee.
We will update our Web page www.downtheroad.org when we can. The site is started but is a shell at this point and will have more content as we travel down the road. We are starting a new email list in order to stay in contact with everyone. If you would like to remain on this list, please reply to this email.
Donít be afraid to write,
Tim and Cindie Travis
The reaction this created was overwhelming. Emotions ran the spectrum from panic to enthusiastic approval.
||More about this Book||Next
|Chapter 1. Leaving "It All" Behind.
PART 1. Background START HERE
PART 2. Five years before we left
PART 3. Two years before we left
PART 4. One year before we left
PART 5 The week before we left
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