and our next big leap
We crossed into Alaska having no idea where we were going but the first crossroads takes us either south to the ocean or further inland, so we quickly/easily choose the path to the ocean!
We hadn’t read anything about Valdez, had no idea what to expect, but we’re so stoked that we chose this path! The skies were thick with clouds throughout our drive, but somehow every turn was more beautiful than the last. Mountains raised up on both sides of us, vistas abound and as we round a corner a giant glacier reaches up towards the sky in front of us. Absolutely spectacular!
The further we make our way down into the valley the more magnificent and impossibly huge the mountains become on both side of us. We catch ourselves leaning forward, bumping our heads on the windshield trying to see high enough to catch glimpses of the top of mountains from under the windshield.
It’s a terrific drive, and as we reach the bottom of the valley and things flatten out towards the town of valdez we’re winding alongside a raging river and stopping to glimpse at waterfall after waterfall, mixed in with caves, tunnels, snow capped peaks, etc. Absolutely magnificent.
Once in Valdez we pull immediately up to the marina and stop to stare out at the boats and the ocean beyond. We hop out of the vehicle and wander slowly from dock to dock staring at the boats, the mountains in the background and talking about life. Once again, it becomes clear to us how very drawn to the ocean we are.
We often try to ignore it but again and again it proves itself to us. In times of need it’s the thing that calms us, in times of pain it soothes us and in times of uncertainty it provides answers. As much as we love new sights and sounds and places unknown… it’s always the ocean in every place that we feel most at home.
We drive around the bay once a day hoping to see bear (which we do on one trip), but spend most of our time watching bald eagles, seal and otter and mesmerized by the absurd number of salmon trying to return to the place they were born to spawn. Ive never seen anything like it except on the nature channel. The hoards of fish swimming all over each other simply doesn’t seem possible in nature.
A few hundred feet away dozens of fisherman line the banks throwing baitless hooks into the water, not hoping for a bite but knowing that its impossible to drag your hook back to shore without it hooking some portion of a giant salmon and pulling it into shore. A talk with the game warden confirms our thoughts… this meat cannot possibly taste good, but that doesn’t stop each and every person from pulling in their max limit within an hour or two of standing along the shore. We opted not to pull the rod out of the van. I love the idea of catching some fresh salmon… but the sport seems entirely lost to me. Better off going in with bare hands I’m pretty sure- but regardless, we’ll wait for a river later on that seems more natural and at least gives the fish a fighting chance.This turn towards Valdez may have been well timed for us… or very poorly timed.
We may not find out for a while. But it’s impact is already becoming clear.
A few days ago we caught ourselves in deep conversation, as always seems to happen on these drives. No matter where the conversations start, the longer the drive the deeper they end up. A few of our chats kept somehow leading back to bigger picture and longer term plans and goals.
We never seem to know what lies more than a few days out for us much less months or years, but we caught ourselves talking about how, as long as we can remember we have said that one day we will end up on a boat, hopping from island to island. Back when we were thinking about and prepping for our first “leap” (our first attempt at leaving normalcy and running away from the jobs and schedules we had grown so tired of) it was our bus that led us toward the vision. The bus became our light at the end of the tunnel, the focus and icon of our freedom and for why we were working so hard and what might lie on the other side…
But once we moved to vancouver and lived alongside granville island we caught ourselves dreaming about life aboard a boat, about sailing and exploring from the ocean rather than driving along the coast. We immediately started looking at boats, made some offers on boats but eventually decided that timing wasn’t right (we would have had to work for several more years to travel by boat instead of by van) and it didn’t quite seem ideal to karma to have to live in such a confined space or put up with the rocking that came with life on water rather than life on land. We had a couple very near misses on boats that fell through, or else who knows where our path might have ended up.
Fast forward 6+ years and we still catch ourselves talking about how “one day” we’ll end up on a sailboat. We still don’t know how to sail, and we always talk about it as a far off adventure, which I think is part of why it’s always seemed so easy to simply throw it under the “one day” tag.
But… we also often hear ourselves talking with others about how the true value of our lifestyle is the chance to wake up every day and decide where we want to be, or what we want to be doing that day. And, if where we are and what we’re doing doesn’t match the dream, or isn’t making us perfectly and blissfully happy – we change it… immediately.
Eventually, along a very long road trip (with no wifi, no radio and a music selection that has now been on loop more times than we care to count)… this eventually lead to a question of what we are planning and want to be doing this winter. We already know that we’ve had our fill of snow-chasing and mountain hopping at least for a while, so we’ve been assuming a drive south to baja was the right answer. But in reality, we prefer to be staring at the beach from the other side. To be sleeping on the water rather than alongside it… so the question really became why we aren’t on a boat right now?
We honestly had no answer to that question. In the beginning, back in the day- it simply didn’t seem fair to karma. We’ve often said that the reason we travel in a van instead of flying to exciting spots around the word is because it means we get to be together and in the beginning the confinement of a boat didn’t seem fair to her. But now… our precious girl is much older and sleeps all day anyway. If anything, we find ourselves confined or limited in the amount of hiking or backpacking or other activities we do because she can’t go with us… In reality, all of the reasons (or are they excuses) we had given ourselves for why we weren’t on a boat have now changed, and I don’t think we actually realized it until right now.
The only other reason we could possibly come up with for why we don’t already live on a boat is simply put… our friends. Our tribe. We have spent the last few years hopping back and forth between friends. Making the circuit from portland to vancouver to calgary to denver to southern cal and all over again trying to get as much time with all of them as we possibly can. Trying to make ourselves available to them and planning our journeys around fun events with each of them as best we can. But, we also find ourselves admitting that in reality, while we drive to and from each town to be near them and available to them… that they in fact have less availability. They have jobs, or young kids or other schedules that mean that even when we are sitting in town, a few blocks away with the specific goal of seeing them as much and as often as we possibly can… that reality says we still get very little of them. Now, is (as it turns out), may in fact be a very good time for us to be away…
The fact of the matter is, that this thing we always talk about as a long term goal, or dream, or fantasy could very much in fact be a possibility or a reality today… which, as two people who often find themselves preaching about how you should chase your dreams today- leads to a bit of a conundrum. We are all about practicing what we preach and we have always advised/consulted to others that there is no day like today for going after what it is you think may be your happiest life… so we suddenly found ourselves talking in depth about if we, should in fact be chasing ours.
The last year has been a very interesting one.
We started off traveling more than we ever had before. Most of it a repeat of the roads we’ve already traveled in the PNW but with some exciting additions along the way. We also found ourselves starting a new business, which led to us being way too busy and working far too hard compared to what we know our perfect balance is. We also found ourselves with a bit of money in the bank. Some from the business(es), some from investments we made long ago that we finally were able to sell (not for a profit mind you…in fact after much work/love/sweat/tears and over a decade of waiting I’m pretty sure the investments broke even or maybe lost us a few grand) but the end result is still cash in had.
Money in the bank, something we haven’t felt or experienced for a very long time. We also (before those properties selling became a possibility) pulled out an equity line in order to try and do some projects of our own but inspired by the fun/cool/financially rewarding projects we’ve been designing for our clients… but at every turn those projects keep running into issues/hurdles that make them difficult or impossible to pull off.
We may have just found ourselves in the middle of a perfect storm. A far off dream that is suddenly calling our name and making us wonder if we’re being true to ourselves, combined with a bit of cash in hand… for people that are used to having no security blanket whatsoever and for whom being true to your dreams is possibly the single most important thing.
So…as you might imagine… it finally happened.
A few days in Valdez. A few days of staring at the ocean and walking the docks alongside the boat, a few days of reading boat names and making up stories about where each one has been and the backstory of its owners… We finally asked ourselves the tough question(s).
“What do we want to be doing more than anything else?”
“When are we going to do it?”
“If the goal is to do it in ten years, why aren’t we making it happen today??”
I know… this is deep stuff right? I blame the dempster. Imagine how much further this conversation would have gone if we could have actually heard each other’s voices most of the time!
Suffice to say, in typical Dangerz fashion…we don’t yet have answers to most of these questions, but we also know enough by now to admit when we want something, and to chase it down with wild abandon.
This conversation started just a few days ago… but while there aren’t yet any answers, we just made an offer on a boat. Gulp.