Oh My…Has It Been That Long?

That white stuff outside is snow, and that blurry bit of a silver car out there is my downsize from the Travato van to a Subaru Crosstrek.

Embarrassed I’ve left this site go fallow, but honestly, doesn’t seem that long ago when I wrote about the shift from the wandering life to the Ann Arbor life. Guess it’s been that busy since and hadn’t noticed! I’ll fix that shortly.

Besides the transition from van life to house life, the adjustments to having space and my things around me that were in storage, and yes, to winter in Ann Arbor, I’ve added a new distraction. On January 9 I opened (re-opened, really) my online niche-market stationery shop that I had for several years back in the day-job days. Love doing this and immersing into this world again, but damn, it was a lot of work to get ready.

Now that it’s settling into a nice flow of orders, I’m ready to get back to writing and sketching, things I love that were put on hiatus while I spent several months re-establishing Notegeist, the online stationery shop (check it out!)_.

And so, as I sit here at one of my newly adopted Ann Arbor coffee shop haunts (this one Roos Roost off S. Industrial), I’m working on reestablishing my direction for this year in writing, sketching, and traveling. The shop will be a part-time endeavor along with these other joys rounding out for a full and interesting time of things here in Southern Michigan. And yes, I promise to write more about all that here in a, ahem, more consistent fashion.

Last Voyage

Currently in the rain and cold (but comfy with the Truma heat going) at a campground in Van Buren, Ohio on leg one of my last voyage in Tamasté. I’m on my way down to South Carolina to hand him over to his new, adopting parents. Happy to report they are as excited to start their Travato adventures as I was a year ago this month when I picked up Tamasté from Lichtsin RV in Iowa.

It’s been a lot of fun and saw a great deal of this beautiful country in the year I wandered about in this Travato. Bittersweet for sure, but eager for the adventures ahead living in Ann Arbor, MI, with more travels in my sights (albeit not in a fully, self-sufficient rolling wonder that is a Travato).

The new parents will, undoubtedly, meet some wonderfully Travato owners as I have, some of whom I now consider long-term friends. All in all, I set out to accomplish a few things on this year of wandering and just about did them all. Only thing missing was visiting some natural places out West, and those I’ll still get to eventually, but in the more conventional way of traveling.

So to all those in the Travato tribe I’ve met along the road, I want to say thank you. You made this a special year I won’t soon forget. They say memories are a comforting blanket as we age, and this year has provided much warmth for those reflective years ahead.

Going Dark: Field Notes’ Autumn Trilogy Release

NOTE: You can now read my archived and current stationery reviews at Ink & Core. This specific review is now at https://inkandcore.com/2019/10/02/going-dark-field-notes-autumn-trilogy-release/

For us confirmed stationery nerds, the arrival of a new, limited edition subscription release is the highlight of the quarter. Challenge is, with social media coverage within niche groups so rabid, it’s nearly impossible to have the joy-like thrill of Christmas morning when the package arrives. Spoilers abound EVERYWHERE and there is only one way to ensure opening the package will be a surprise.

And so I went “dark.” I hid my icons to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, (and had to do this on laptop, desktop, iPhone, iPad) and then set up a Gmail filter to avoid seeing the announcement email when it came over. Worked pretty well, and the only news I couldn’t avoid was the release was called Autumn Trilogy. Since it’s the fall 2019 release, no surprise on the name.

Fortunately, my avoidance efforts worked. The release announcement, and no doubt multiple spoilers, came out yesterday, Tuesday. And through the benefit of being fairly close to Chicago, my package arrived today, Wednesday. So unlike our ancestral cave dwellers, I only had to spend a brief time being “in the dark.”

This release is nothing short of a stunner, and (recorders on and historians to note) just may be my all-time favorite Field Notes release. Let me repeat that: All. Time. Favorite.

The attention to detail in this release is amazing, clever, and hits the spot (at least, my spot). Since autumn is my favorite season, orange my favorite color, trees my favorite thing in nature, and pocket notebooks with 70#, fountain-pen friendly ruled paper my paper-format of choice, what else could this be but my new favorite. I see more packs of this coming to my mailbox soon since I believe this issue will sell out pretty quickly. More pix below of the details in the gallery.

If this hits your button too, head over to Field Notes Brand website and score some for yourself. But don’t wait: like every fall with gorgeous leave colors, they won’t last long.

A Necessary Pause: Full-Time to Part-Time

After my restart back on the road full-timing, I experienced some further issues that made me head back to the Midwest for more advanced healthcare support. This time, I connected to the University of Michigan’s famed cardiology center in Ann Arbor for a round of “what’s going on” tests.

Happy to report I aced all tests and no issues with my thumper or its body-wide system. So the unsettling symptoms experienced in the wild–not a good place to be feeling poorly in mysterious ways–are not cardiac or related to the June stent. I believe, however, I’ve identified the culprit.

All that sums up to deciding to stop traveling for a while and take time to resolve the off-and-on-again nagging thing. That, plus winter is coming–my least favorite travel season (but a forever, memorable phrase from Game of Thrones). As an added bonus, staying in one place for six months should help me to catch up on writing projects including finishing two books in progress.

The decision to winter in Ann Arbor was not an easy one, but I have a friend here I can stay with comfortably plus a great, nearby RV storage place. For now, Tamasté’s parked (other than two short day trips per month to keep things working) until I travel west in March.

Some would say the phrase “wintering in Ann Arbor” brings shivers, and yes, it’s not as nice as saying “wintering in Barbados,” but it’s the place I need to be for all the reasons above and more. Ann Arbor has always been at the top of my list of landing spots after full-time nomadic RV traveling is over, so this is also a chance to test winter here (as a retiree who won’t have to get out when it’s nasty I’m hoping that will make it tolerable).

Now that I’m settled in my rented room, set up with my former writing studio’s books, supplies, dictionary stand, and such, I feel jazzed to get the work done. It’s nice to be pampered by space and essentials too. Funny, but fellow Travato traveler and writer Sarah hit the same notes when she posted about the experience of extended house sitting after traveling…the full kitchen, showers without timing the water running, real beds, couches, etc., all a siren song of civilized (nay, decadent!) living.

Nomadic traveling has its soul-satisfying reasons to be out there, but hard to beat…for now…a big refrigerator and pantry-a-plenty, washer and dryer, and access to the arts and culture that Ann Arbor offers daily.

Plumbago Zine Article Published

Quick mention of an article I wrote, “Nomadic Writing,” published in friend and pencil guru Andy Welfle’s bi-annual pencil zine, Plumbago.

Andy’s one of the three hosts of the Erasable Podcast and the active pencil fanatics’ Erasables group on Facebook. Plumbago articles come from those who use and love pencils and analog tools for creative and everyday work. Always a great read for stationery nuts, Plumbago’s sixth issue focused on Travel and Nature.

If you want to grab a copy of the zine, click on the image above. Or to read a PDF of my article (apologies on the quality; used iPhone photos to create the PDF), click on the image at the right.

Where the Tribe is Family

What did we do back in pre-Internet, pre-Facebook days to mingle with others who have similar interests? We formed face-to-face clubs and gatherings to share tips, tricks, and discuss the joy of delving deep into a hobby or shared interests.

Fast forward to now, add Facebook groups and the Internet and bonds of common interest form quickly and start virtually. The RV community at large is no different, with more special-focus Facebook Groups on specific models, brands, and even aspects of the RV culture and roaming lifestyle available on just about any related topic.

But beyond the virtual knowledge sources, in the Travato world we have the Travato Tribe. Like my old days of sport cars and when passing a Porsche on the road, we’d wave at each other in that secret club sort of wave, Travato owners do similar acknowledgements and tend to approach each other, though complete strangers initially, in parking lots and at campgrounds. What usually ensues is a lively discussion of issues, improvements, places visited, and a new friendship is started. I’ve met complete strangers driving Travatos who after the conversation offered me their driveway for the night should I ever pass their way.

In my current Travato travels, I’ve had the pleasure of attending several meet-ups, from informal groups of 4 to 5 vans to an Arizona rally in March with 100 Class B Vans (of which about 90 were Travatos). At such events, everyone seems to instantly be your friend, and you typically drive away after the rally with a handful of new, close friends and lots of driveway camping offers. Sharing food, parts, mods (owner-installed improvements), invaluable tips on places to stay (and where not to), and the ever-appreciated intelligence on free dump sites and where to get fresh water, are some of the tribe bonuses beyond the friendships.

Wandering the country as I am in this self-contained, mostly self-reliant camper van, I can certainly travel and discover things on my own. But having the Travato Tribe and its hive wisdom makes this experience all the better and open doors and location knowledge more than I ever would on my own. And I’m happy to report the tribe’s provided a slew of new friends who would give me the shirt off their back, as the saying goes, if needed.

Wisdom says it takes a village to raise a child, and similarly my nomadic experience is all the better having the Travato Tribe to learn from and connect with. As I head out on an extended nomadic period of traveling America today, I will likely stay at numerous Travato Tribe driveways across the country. This tribe is my support family, no matter where I roam in my Travato.