A vision this big requires a little advance planning!
We knew getting ready for this trip will take some time. Once we knew we were committed, we gave ourselves a two year preparation window to get ready. We are not even sure if two years is enough time -- there is so much to do! We have hopes of hitting the road in May of 2023. We shall see if we can pull it off. One step at a time!
We had to make some big changes
Teaching at North Salem High School in Salem, Oregon, brought us much joy and satisfaction for many years. Andy taught Woods Manufacturing and Cabinet Making, while Sherry taught a variety of social studies and business classes. We loved working there, to be honest. The students were wonderful;, the staff was a close-knit family, and the community was very supportive. Being one of the only married couples on staff, we were like the mom and dad there. We will miss North tremendously. Go, Vikings!
We will also miss the great friends we made in Salem, as well as Salem Alliance Church, a place that felt like home, but never failed to challenge us and make us grow.
Finish the house remodel
We purchased Sherry's grandparents' home in Montana in 2004 and have been slowly remodeling and adding on to it ever since. We have managed to rent it out -- or at least parts of it -- here and there while we were over in Oregon teaching, but now we have to kick it into high gear and finish every last little project. Monetizing this house fully is a major factor in being able to finance our travel life. Time to get 'er done!
Fortunately, Andy has the skills needed to do or oversee all the projects. We have to gut and re-do the main hall bath, finish the kitchen, build a spiral staircase up to the loft, finish the loft, finish another bedroom or two in the basement, and an assortment of other little projects. We also have to figure out how much of the shop and barn buildings need to be improved upon, depending on what we decide to do with the property long-term.
It has been our labor of love for 18 years, so it is hard to say goodbye, but we are ready to move on.
Going into our golden years as fit and healthy as possible is another major element of getting ready to embark on this journey.
We have committed to working out -- improving not only our strength and cardiovascular fitness, but also our endurance, flexibility, and balance. Trips to the little gym fifteen minutes from home have become an almost daily part of our routine. We are also focused on eating right -- cooking most of our meals at home with lots of fresh vegetables, sensible portion sizes, and minimal junk food. We are even working at getting adequate rest -- not an easy task for a couple of natural night owls like us.
Build an Expedition Vehicle
Walter Mitsubishi, our 2010 Fuso 4x4, will carry us around the world -- or at least that is the plan. Andy's many acquired skills and his ability to learn new ones are being put to the test with this build project -- a challenging endeavor we have never before attempted. He will be documenting the entire process in videos, photos, and blog posts, so if you are a gear head or interested in camper construction, you will want to follow along!
Sell just about everything we own
Just when it seems we have sold everything we can do without, we take it to another level and make another series of hard cuts. It is hard to eradicate an entire lifetime of accumulated possessions!
It does get easier with practice, however. Each thing we sell brings us closer to our goal. Our kids will have an easy job of sorting and cleaning up our leftovers when we are gone -- that's for sure!
The hardest things to figure out are treasured family heirlooms and photos, as well as Andy's tools. We are still without answers on many of these.
Rent or sell our home
Sherry's grandparents built the original portion of this house, a little two bedroom, one bath, in 1976, when they were the age we are now. Sherry grew up coming here for vacations. Andy has poured his heart and soul; his very blood, sweat, and tears; into turning it into the big, beautiful home where we raised our kids. The whole extended family has loved coming here for visits for generations. As a result it is hard to let it go. Should we continue to rent it out and have a property management company care for it for us in our absence, or should we sell it altogether? We haven't yet decided.
Explore the world as nomads
This is the end goal, of course. Our hope is to head to Alaska and northern Canada, completing the northern portion of the Pan-American Highway first, before turning Walter south and heading down through Mexico, Central, and South America to the end of the longest road in the world.
We will be meeting as many people as we can along the road, and we don't plan to be in a hurry, so if you know someone we should connect with, please don't hesitate to contact us!
After South America, who knows? If we still like travel (and each other), perhaps we will put Walter on a cargo ship and head overseas to continue our journey elsewhere!