Sea Legs

We hit the road a little over seven months ago and the experience has been better than I could have ever imagined. We’re finally comfortable with all aspects of that ‘Stream life and are looking forward to at least another two years on Boat with Dog. This comfortability didn’t come without its challenges, and while I don’t harbor any real complaints, the lifestyle did take a little getting used to.

Starting at the top, we actually live in a trailer. While the most obvious change to our cozy apartment living in LA and Seattle, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest through the 28 foot aluminum tree lens when you’re in it the majority of your waking hours.  While we’ve taken to the smaller confines and can’t image actually filling any more square feet, it still blows my mind that we live and work from the road and have all of our worldly possessions either onboard or in the truck.

 
 

Despite the fact that we’re 100% mobile and share one long room with our one large dog, our workday routine isn’t that much different when you really boil it down (*our weekend routine is DRASTICALLY different for obvious, really braggy reasons). The alarm goes off around the same time.  The morning coffee is still hot. Dog gets her “walkies.” We login to our machines by 8am-ish. The work day comes and goes. We discuss dinner cravings throughout the afternoon. Stay in or go out, accordingly. Cuddle the dog. Find something on TV and go to bed when we feel like it. Once we got past the fact that we were doing all of the above less than four feet away from each other, it was pretty easy to embrace the new old routine.

The proximity wasn’t the only adjustment for yours truly. Sam was effectively working remotely during our Seattle stint so the transition from couch to couch was relatively easy. I, on the other hand, was very much not working from home and had just quit my job when we set off. So once we got past the water debacle in Monterey and Sam had somewhat settled into her work routine, I found myself...chillin’.

By design I had yet to find gainful employment and was pretty happy about it--one of the highlights of the new lifestyle was that until I found work, I was to be a house husband. I had visions of getting in shape, crafting exquisite meals, shaving a few strokes off my handicap, maybe learning a language, and generally being an errand boy slash honey-do-list-doer. It was going to be pretty sweet.  

Those visions were dashed before our second week on the road. I got a new job. I got a new job way too quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, having a steady paycheck from a ‘Stream life friendly company, working in the programmatic advertising space, doing something I enjoy is a happy tradeoff to the language I wasn’t going to learn and the runs I wasn’t actually going to take. I just really wish the opportunity took a tad longer to materialize. Understanding the glaring case of a first world problem, I was kind of bummed to be back on the grind less than a month after leaving ESPN. It’s not that I didn’t want to work, I was just really excited by the prospect of not working. But I quickly got over it; in large part due to a good friend and some wise words.

The night before we hit the road, my buddy and I were in his basement, in the cups, and I was waxing on both the pending adventures and the loss of my old work routine. My walk to and from the office. Actually having an office. The conference call and meeting cadence. Free coffee. Ten plus years of work equity. The fostered relationships. Inherent challenges of starting a new job or career. Etc.

When I was done with my melancholy soliloquy, my buddy cleared his throat, “politely” told me to get over myself, and astutely pointed out that all of the old routines (work or otherwise) are off the table. That I should fully embrace the pending adventure and that work will be the least of my worries. And also, that I was being kind of a bitch.

My man.

I’ve gone back to this conversation dozens of times since we’ve been on the road and it has helped me keep the proper perspective throughout our travels--the adventure is the routine and it’s pretty easy to “deal” with no commute, working from home, seeing a new city every two to four weeks, getting to tell people you live in an Airstream, loosely maintaining a blog, and doing all of it with the love of your life.  

I’ve been on the new job for six and a half months and while I’m still learning the associated ropes, I’ve got the new routine down.  

  • The walk to the office now consists of getting out of bed, making coffee, turning 180 degrees, taking a single step forward, and sitting down

  • Fun fact, our wireless routers work just as well in the truck. Office problem solved.

  • Turns out, pretty much every company has a steady cadence of conference calls and meetings.

  • Equity is relative to your downpayment and my new coworkers are great.

  • Change is good and it was about time I jumped into a different pool.

An unanticipated benefit of the new job is Goodway’s (my new employer) commitment to a truly healthy work-life balance. Whether during a regularly scheduled lunch or a flexed morning break, I have the time to fulfill my house husband duties. I get to make Target runs (when there’s a Target nearby), get the tires rotated or oil changed, fulfill shopping lists for semi-exquisite dinners, visit the local hardware store, and even go on an actual run or two. It’s pretty sweet.

An unanticipated drawback to the new job is navigating the logistics tied to work trips while living on the road.  Before we were full-timin’, I flew in and out of exactly zero ”Regional” airports. Moreover, I had never left my wife and dog in an RV park in the middle of Idaho or Southern Utah. Needless to say, those streaks came to a screeching halt with the new gig. At the end of the day, none of the trips are really all that different from your standard SEA to JFK directs. The smaller airports are just smaller with fewer watering holes and no pre-check. And it’s really not that bad once you get used to hearing stories about the, “Nice older gentleman who was really just curious what a pretty lady and her dog were doing in Ketchum all by their lonesome…”

Like most adjustments, the major ones happened over time and it’s hard to pinpoint when exactly we become comfortable.  Save for one. Halfway between Whitefish and West Yellowstone, we pulled off for gas and the pumps were full. We had to circle around the back of the adjacent convenience store, navigate three big rigs, and round back to one open pump through a gap just wider than Boat.  We crushed it; figuratively. That’s when I knew I finally had the dimensions down and was as close to 100% comfortable hauling as I was ever going to be.

 
 

As for the rest:

  • Figuring out how to cook and clean with limited stove space and a gray water tank, that I absolutely refuse to put food into, only took a few dozen trials.  We’re still honing our one-pot meals, but have the temps, cooking times, and water conservation mastered.

  • Setting up and breaking down are well-oiled processes and none of the hoses scare us anymore.

  • We dump the poo tank (which we don’t actually poo in) whenever we feel like it and have even figured out how to rinse it.

  • Back-in spots, while not quite as easy as pull-throughs, are no longer the stuff of nightmares and we’re good with any spot the campground gives us.

  • We’ve come to expect some bumps and bruises on Boat and have enjoyed finding wood filler for the bathroom door and non-stick silicone lubricant for the awning and stabilizers.

  • Most every city or town has a dog park, and Dog still really enjoys dog parks.

  • Propane isn’t that difficult or expensive to refill

  • This lifestyle is tits.

During the last interview with my current employer, I was asked how I was going to balance all of the newness.  Would a new lifestyle, paired with a new job and unknown stresses be too much to handle? Was it a good idea to throw a new company into the mix?  Etc. My answer was easy--Any one of the changes, in a vacuum, had the potential to derail our master plan, but because they were all happening at once meant that there was no alternative--it was going to work out; we were going to be successful. Basically, the chaos would make the order.

And that sentiment has held true. Sam, Dog, and I have found our sea legs and wouldn’t trade our new routines for any of our old hats.

~ Pete

Boat LifePete2 Comments