Warcken Hard and Hardly Workin’

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“How are you going to live?” “Where will you go?” “What will you eat?” “How will you make money?”

In 2015 Gregory and I took a bit of time off work. We sold or gave away most of our furniture, appliances, clothes, dishes, toiletries, and a third vehicle. We kept five pieces of sentimental furniture, our photos, some books and dishes, and the Subaru, and are storing them in an old camper at Greg’s parents’ farm. We’ve got everything we’ll need for the summer in the back of our 2002 Ford Windstar- hiking, climbing, and camping equipment, as well as our bikes and running shoes. And some clothes, firewood, and a box full of hiking guides and maps of our beloved national parks. Like I said, everything we’ll need. We get questions about it from everyone we’ve seen and people we’ve met along the way.

In our previous life I was a cardiovascular intensive care nurse and Greg worked for a major airline. Greg brought home the flights benefits and I brought home the bacon. While our jobs afforded us an amazing lifestyle traveling around the country and the world we were still seriously unsatisfied with our situation in Montana. We just never found our balance there (read: I never found my balance there).

I need family and friends and exercise and alone time and projects and travel, but could never make all those things align in Montana. We were rarely there so we hardly felt at home, we barely had a social life, and we never had any projects. I take that back- last summer I planted a huge garden with kale, cilantro, onions, green onions, arugula, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, sweet corn, and carrots. And not one plant, not one, produced a thing all summer. My Mom (the wizened Indian woman I always refer to) told me it’s because nothing was pollinated, and that to pollinate plants need insects and wind to carry pollen to ohmygodIknowwhatpollinationmeans. Actually it’s because our side yard didn’t get much sunlight and we were gone for three weeks in July with no one to water and my thumb is as black as my heart and maybe it had a little to do with pollination but probably not. We just weren’t there to care for it.

I realize, being away from home was entirely our choice, but when we weren’t working a real desperation to get away from our jobs and town came over us and we ran ran ran away every chance we got.

We moved to Montana because we both love that state and we love the mountains and the bears and skiing and hiking and snowshoeing, but after our flight benefits kicked in we stopped hanging around on our days off. My schedule allowed me to work six days on then take eight days off, and for the most part Greg was able to match his schedule to mine. I know that sounds awesome and that half our year was spent away from work, but those six days in a row can really drag a person down. Twelve hour shifts can kill a day, a week, and when you’ve got bad patients all those days in a row, your whole life.

When we actually stayed home I always worked overtime shifts because I love making hay while the sun shines, but my life was nothing but work. Greg was my wonderful little househusband who cooked and cleaned and made my coffee so I could go on autopilot and worksleepeatrepeat. That lasted about a year before I went totally psycho and threatened to quit if they didn’t let me start choosing my own schedule. That lasted about six months before I realized I’d had enough and didn’t want to work at all. But please don’t think this was all about me. While Greg loved the actual work, he was more than ready from a break from the job. We’re like a military couple, only without the military. Greg is sure he’ll go back to an airline someday but I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to nursing. That’s all I have to say about that.

But look at us now, our bellies full of Virginia fried chicken, exhausted from a day of doing nothing, and looking forward to another day of doing nothing tomorrow. Gregory and I have a lot of big dreams- all the baseball parks in the country, all the national parks, all the states’ high points, and Greg wants to run a marathon in all fifty states before he’s fifty. He’s on his own on that one; I’ll stick to 13.1. Gentle reminder, Greg, you’re not getting any younger. While those are some long-term goals, our more immediate ones are to recharge our family and friends batteries, hike and bike 1,000 miles before harvest (walking and running don’t count), spend less than $30/day, not put any more money into our van, and make the money we’ve set aside for this time off last as long as possible. The ultimate spend less, travel more adventure! We hope to drive the van into the ground and if she makes it through this summer we’ll be thrilled! And if she doesn’t we’ll pack up the Subaru and keep on trucking.

After 37 days we’ve biked 80.06 miles, hiked 0, and spent an average of $25.33/day on food, gas, van repairs, entertainment, everything. We’ve even earned a bit of money along the way doing odd jobs for one of my brothers. It’s amazing when someone gives you money after you haven’t earned any in a while. $35 for mowing the lawn?! We’re rich! If we can stay out of restaurants, we’re going to be just fine. I love being aware of every dollar we spend, and that means very little, if any, going out to eat. A meal out is an entire day on the road and totally not worth it to us. Go out to eat less, travel more.

Lovers' Leap
Lovers’ Leap at Hawks Nest State Park, West Virginia

“How are you going to live?” “Where will you go?” “What will you eat?” “How will you make money?”

We’ve saved our money. Wherever we want. Jerky, nuts, popcorn, cheese, oatmeal, peanut butter, granola, and canned beans. We won’t until we have to, or want to.

p.s. Thanks for the fried chicken, Mama!


9 thoughts on “Warcken Hard and Hardly Workin’

  1. Hey Jamie!!!! I love reading your blogs, and living vicariously through you. Girl you have to do what works for you and your family, and if you’re having fun along the way GREAT! Keep posting and having fun. 🙂

  2. You are and will always be a “Superstar” Jamie! This is awesome, love reading about your adventures!!

    1. Ha! Thank you! Not long after I started dating Greg his mom told me “You remind me of that Catholic school girl on SNL.” Uhhhh yep.

  3. Such fun, when you get to parks in W TN look us up! I will cook dinner! Love you

  4. Greggy, you and your lovely bride are welcome to camp out here at my apartment anytime!! Id love to see you… ill even cook! Safe travels… i think it’s awesome what you are doing… very Alexander Supertramp! Lol…Hugs!

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