Tag Archives: Travel

Sold 

24 Jul

I was crying thinking about this post. I cried as I finally cleaned out Skyhorse, taking out all our stained clothes and rusty canned goods with Spanish labels. I cried as she pulled out of our driveway one last time. And I’m crying as I write this now.  

  
Skyhorse is officially sold. A man in Indiana bought her and the shipping company picked her up yesterday morning at 7am. I never got to meet the new owner or even speak to him. I don’t know his plans, though Hani says he wants to retire and live off the grid somewhere. 

I never thought Skyhorse would actually sell. We listed her on eBay a bunch of times and posted the sale on just about every forum. We got more questions out of curiosity than interested buyers. I was convinced that Skyhorse was just going to be a cool fixture in our driveway (which, unlike at my parents house, was welcome in the physical driveway and not tucked in the side yard because of some stupid ordinance). 

It’s kind of hilarious when you think about it, the full circle of emotions I experienced associated with Skyhorse. I thought Hani was insane when he bought the ambulance. And then the truck. And completely off his rocker when we went to an airplane junkyard, rented a U-haul, and brought home a plane fuselage. I can’t even begin to express the fury I felt when he purchased one tow vehicle after another, finally settling on the motorcycle. 

But then Skyhorse started to take shape. It took on all the qualities of a home. The idea of packing up and leaving grew on me and instead of seeming far fetched, it became the next logical step for us. And I have to profusely thank my crazy husband for having this vision and creating Skyhorse, the best home we will EVER have. Without Hani being Hani, we would never have this unbelievable chapter in our life. 

So after 5 years in the making and 2 years on the road, we parted ways. May each of our journeys continue to be adventurous.   

 

Travel Tips

20 Apr

With a new wave of travelers on the horizon, I wanted to share a few tips that made our life on the road easier. This is not really a “pack list” but more of a collection of helpful ideas, that may or may not be helpful to you. Everyone’s experience on the road is different but hopefully these gems will make your experience the best possible.

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General living
Document your days. I cannot stress this enough. I created a simple excel spreadsheet and wrote every day: where we ended for the night, the route we took to get there, how much we spent, a brief description of what we did, what we paid to camp and any exceptional circumstance we encountered. It takes 5 minutes to do. Not only does it keep you mindful of expenses, it was really fun for us to go back and see where we were 6 months earlier. And years from now, we’ll have this awesome list of everything we did.

Pack light and minimally. You can find anything on the road you forgot (clothes, sunglasses, kitchen items…) unless you like a very specific shimmering silky body wash (ahem).

Use quick dry camping towels. Real towels get smelly really fast. All 3 we had kinda sucked but the Aquis Adventure Microfiber Towel lasted the longest. Buy a few varieties before your trip and test which you like best. They are all really different with varying textures. And pricey.

Be a smart shopper. Grocery store prices south of the border are higher than the open air markets, mainly because you can’t barter. Produce was often better at the markets too. Bring a calculator (or your cell phone) into the store and do the math–a lot of times it’s cheaper to buy 24 individual cans of beer than 2 12 packs (stupid packaging).

The first few months south of the border were spent filling our water tanks with purified water. That proved to be both annoying and difficult because the purification centers were usually on tight one way streets. We quickly learned that the easiest place to fill up our water tanks are at a gas station or fire station. Fire stations typically had good drinking water.
Banking
Budget $100 a day but you’ll spend a bit more in the U.S. and less south of the border.

Find a bank that reimburses you for ATM fees, as you will accumulate a ton of fees living on the road. We banked with Charles Schwab. A person always answered our calls, it’s very easy to deposit with the mobile app and just all around a great bank. We were reimbursed hundreds of dollars in ATM fees over the course of our adventure.

Because ATMs south of the border are unreliable (they aren’t in every town or out of cash, especially on holidays or max you out after 2 transactions), keep about $400 cash on hand, but not on your person, in case of emergencies. No one takes checks.

Use a credit card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. We used Capital One and got cash back for our purchases.
Safety
Make a copy of everything important from your passport to credit cards and hide them. If you are privileged enough to be pulled over, NEVER present your original documents. That’s just setting you up to have to pay a bribe to get it back. Always give a copy (or say you lost it or left it somewhere a few towns away).
Techie
Get an unlocked iPhone, download the iOverlander app, and thank me later. You really can’t beat the ease of an iPhone on a trip like this. iOverlander was created by fellow travelers Song of the Road and tested by yours truly, among others. It is a map database with camping locations and other helpful landmarks GPS marked. Some other useful apps were Whatsapp (free, text over data so you can text any phone number in any country), magicJack (another free app that uses data and allows you to call the US for free, worked much better than Skype calls), Google earth and Google translate. With the cell, just load local SIM cards (about $2) when you arrive in a new country.

A wifi extender is a must! We had the Alfa extender and it worked fabulously at grabbing a far away wifi signal.

Put all your movies on a hard drive (DVDs take up so much space). The drive also is key at backing up your travel pictures. We bought a 1T hard drive before we left and that was plenty of space for our thousands of pictures and hundreds of movie, music and tv files.

Bring a small thumb drive to easily grab movies from a friend’s computer to yours. Because not everyone has a Mac (oddly enough).

I am a huge fan of my Kindle. While Hani is partial to paper books, they really just take up so much space. A Kindle or eReader is much more practical and an easy way to store guide books. Except the Church and Church Guide to Camping in Mexico. That book is a must for Mexican camping. And paper maps if you are lucky to find good ones. We didn’t.

Get a good camera and learn how to use it BEFORE you go.

Now you are all set! Happy travels!

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The return of Skyhorse

6 Mar
       Yesterday–March 5, 2015–concluded the travel portion of our adventure in Skyhorse, as we have landed back in Key West (for a visit, people! Not permanently.)
       Everyone asks how it feels to be back. Well, here it is…
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       I crave that simpler time. When the highway meant a one lane partially-paved road in either direction with bare land or small shacks on either side. When I didn’t care if I had makeup on or whether the clothes I was wearing had holes in them or were stained to near oblivion. When $4 meant a full meal for two or a weeks worth of fresh produce or a box of wine. When living with minimal possessions in a 14×8 space was more than sufficient.
       That being said, I missed our friends and family more than I thought. Yes, Skyhorse felt like our home because it had all the things that made it a home. But STUFF doesn’t always make a home complete. The one, massive part of our adventures that was missing was all of you. And it feels FAN-freaking-TASTIC to be back to that.
       This was not just “a trip.”  It was OUR LIFE for nearly two years. We lived in our moving home with the forest/ocean/mountains/wetlands/volcanoes as our ever changing backyard. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
       Your reality is whatever you make of it. Hani and I made our best possible reality for two years. So if you want to work 24/7, do it. If you want to quit your job and travel, do it! Whatever you want or dream, don’t just want or dream.
Make. It. Your. Reality. NOW!

Random thoughts/ month 22

3 Mar
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Rockin and rollin and truckin across the southern United States to finally arrive in FLORIDA (to cold weather). This month we:
+ especially love our Tennessee, Georgia and northern Florida friends. Thank you Faiqa, Scott, Wesley and Lamar, Cheeks and Lynne, and the Gardis for letting us stay warm indoors and/or use your electrical outlet for our heater. When the temps dipped in the 20s, you all saved us from a slow frigid death. Your generosity can only be repaid by taking Skyhorse off our hands. Now, who wants her??  
+ are still selling our beautiful home Skyhorse! Let us know if you are interested.
 
+ toured Tennessee. Man, that state is couuuun-try! Guns, camo and fried everything. And super flipping cold.
+ Memphis-ed. We visited with Hani’s friend Faiqa and her family, spending quality time drinking tea and talking shit about her brother. Kidding (but only about the tea part, Zia).
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+ nerded out in the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The famed Lorraine Motel where MLK was shot is site to one of the best museums we’ve visited. Packed with videos, sound bites, replicas and news stories, this museum is a must see if you are anywhere in the vicinity of Memphis. Eat a big meal before you go so you are not forced to leave at hour 4 from hunger pains.
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+ sang our way around Graceland. Super pricey but well worth the tour around The King’s gorgeously decorated property, planes and cars, hosted by none other than John Stamos.
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the coolest bar

the coolest bar

even the king loved poodles

even the king loved poodles

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And now the cars and plane…
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+ checked out Sun Studio, where Elvis, Johnny Cash and others recorded. Pretty cool but mostly pretty boring. Graceland was better. Sorry Peter!
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+ got sick, then better, then sick again. I don’t think this winter weather is good for our health. I hear the beach calling…
+ had an “I escaped Key West” reunion in Nashville. Miss these faces! We had such an amazing time meeting our friend Scott’s new wife Mandi and meeting Wesley and Lamar’s darling kids. Thanks baby Bub for letting us sleep in your room while you were away!

Huck wants to come in and play

+ shot our first rifle at a gun range in Nashville. Our Key West friend Scott relocated back to Nashville and after generously letting us crash in his spare house and showing us the cool parts of town, he introduced us to a typical Nashville afternoon activity…at the gun range. While I sucked and missed every skeet sent into the air, Hani did a pretty good job and hit 3 skeet! It was a hilarious experience and so fitting for our time in the south.
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lots of ammo

lots of ammo

+ adored Chattanooga. The city is blossoming with cute neighborhoods, restaurants and outdoor activities. While I died, Hani fielded questions from lots of people who spied our ‘for sale’ signs. Chuck was one of those people, taking instant adoration for Skyhorse, so much so that he invited us to dinner with his family. It was very reminiscent of our early days on the road where we’d just click with random people we met. Just the reminder I needed that even though we are at the end of our trip, we are not completely useless unemployed blobs.
+ wandered around Rock City, an area several miles up over Chattanooga. We followed a series of paths through rock formations and gardens to the highest point, where you can see 7 states in the distance. 

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+ played in Atlanta with my high school bud Matt, his wife Lynne and their two little girls. The girls were OBSESSED with Skyhorse, climbing all over the inside and jumping around the plane. They were definitely the most excited kids to see the truck. One of them almost drove Skyhorse as they accidentally (on purpose?!) shifted it in reverse. Guess you can’t leave a 5 year old alone in a vehicle.
+ met up with Estee and her fiancé Yoni in Atlanta. It was our first time all together and we had a blast doing what us Mayas do best: eating and drinking. After all, Estee and Yoni are on a strict Mediterranean diet. Until we meet again sissy and baby bro!
+ arrived in Apalachicola just as Hani’s sickness reached its peak so all I got for Valentine’s Day was his cough and a camp coozie. While Hani hibernated in bed for a few days, I got to work at our Key West friends Matt and Lisa’s year old bar, Bowery Station. I helped bartend slowly and meticulously twice (first time working in almost 2 years!!) and Hani made an appearance to wash glasses our last night in town. Waking up close to noon, listening to live music, pouring frosty brews and closing shop at 8 is work I could get used to!

+ met John and Mandi, soon-to-be overlanders, for a fun afternoon in Apalach. We gave them some travel tips, brunched and walked St George Island beach. Hopefully some of our advice will be helpful as they hit the road in a few months. So jealous of you guys and wish it was us starting our trip!!
+ played on our first beach in a long time. Too bad it was so cold out.
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+ landed in Daytona Beach for a long awaited visit with Hani’s parents. We haven’t seen them since we left their house at the beginning of the trip. For a week, we spent time with the Demetrious fam, eating all our favorite foods (stuffed grape leaves!) and reliving Hani’s “best of” Daytona spots. We even got to spend quality time with a few of Hani’s friends while in town.

+ had a fantastic girls reunion in West Palm Beach. A few of my sorority sisters met up for a much needed afternoon of giggles and food. It’s times like these that makes it SO GOOD to be back!

Skyhorse For Sale

11 Feb

Our travels have ended and we begrudgingly are selling our home.

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Skyhorse is the most unique camper you’ll ever find! We have traveled in this camper for 22 months from Key West to Alaska to Panama and back. It’s tried and tested. I can tell you everything about it since I built it. There are many features but here are a few to give an idea of what this amazing vehicle offers. The best feature, though, are the smiles, laughs and nods of delight you get while driving it.

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Our travels have ended but YOUR adventure is waiting to begin.

It cost me $60,000 to build I am asking $30,000.

I was living on a sailboat when I met my wife who gets seasick.  So our alternative was to overland.  I wanted to build a quality, rugged, self contained, creative motorhome.  I mounted a 1991 ambulance box on a 4×4 crew cab Ford F700 that was previously owned by a Florida electric company.  The plane on the front is Cessna 310 that is mounted on an aluminum frame.  I used lots of marine components such as appliances, wiring, electrical components, etc., aluminum, and stainless steel in this build because of the quality.

Truck Specs:
1994 Ford F700 Crew Cab 4×4, 5.9 Cummins Diesel, 2-50 Gallon Fuel Tanks, Air Ride Front Seats, Air Brakes, Around 70,000 miles, Allison Automatic, Pass Through to Camper, Aluminum Rear Motorcycle Rack With Winch for Loading/Unloading

MIKE HENTZ/The Citizen

Camper Specs: Full Kitchen- 2 Burner Stove, Oven, Top Loading Marine (Isotherm) Refrigerator, Lots of Counter Space, Double Sink, Food Pantry, Full Bathroom- Shower, Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, All Aluminum Camper Box, 95 Gallons Water, Solar Panels 405 Watts / 400 AH House Batteries, Lots of Storage / Spacious Interior

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Give me a call or shoot me an email if you have any questions or to make an offer! (305) 731.0419 // orangeokra@hotmail.com

What’s next?

9 Jan

As you read this, we are probably somewhere in Northern Mexico, around Monterrey, or driving through the Laredo, Texas border arriving back in the US of A after being gone since November 2013. Insane. Then we begin the trying task of finding a city to move to.

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We will visit Austin, New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville for a few days each with hopes that one of those cities will be THE ONE. Thoughts? Feedback? Because we can sure use it! I feel like we are as clueless about where we want to go now as we were when we first started our trip. If you are in any of these cities, let us know, we’d love to see you.

And then we’ll do the looong drive south through Florida: Apalachicola (Gardis, we are coming for you!), Tallahassee (see you soon John and Mandi), Daytona, Miami and ended where it all started, in Key West.

So, yeah, that’s the plan. But as you must know by now, we never *really* stick to a plan so we shall see what life in 2015 brings.

What I’ll Miss

13 Nov

When we crossed into Mexico one year ago, there was so much about daily life that took me by surprise. How I needed to visit 3 stores just to get everything on my grocery list. Why it was impossible for someone to give correct directions. Now, these once-annoyances are second nature. They are what give Central America it’s charm. The woman serving my meal licking her fingers–I’ll have a second helping please. Taking a long time to explain where to go sans street names and I still get lost–typical, but always my fault according to Hani.

We celebrated a year and a half on the road on October 25. As of today, we’ll have spent one year of that time in Mexico and Central America. Here are some things that I know I will miss dearly once we return to the States, things typical south of the border and of life on the road.
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I will miss…

The obligatory lone flip flop and dirty diaper left on a beach

Waking up in an unfamiliar place with nothing and no one around

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Meeting strangers…because you parked on their land

Making fast friends with people because they are traveling just. like. you.

$5 doctor visits and $2 round of antibiotics

Walking into a pharmacy and getting whatever medication you could possibly want dispensed to you, no questions asked

The culture

Hearing Spanish

Searching for THE BEST spot to park for the night

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Wondering what that man with his back to me is doing then realizing he’s peeing in the street

Cars with a loud speaker announcing a sale of eggs or campaign

Bargaining for everything, including but not limited to keepsakes and handicrafts, clothes, meals, produce, doctor’s visits, medicine, laundry, beer, museum admission, parking, camping spots, water…

Dollar fresh squeezed juice and smoothies with no additives

Drinking said beverage out of a plastic bag with a straw

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Beach venders approaching you selling knock off sunglasses, sarongs, drinks and food

Pick up trucks carrying 15 standing people in the bed

Bombas

Long days of nothing

The wildlife

Sleeping on a slight decline because you can’t get the truck angle just right

Festivals for everything at all hours of the day, even in the middle of the night

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Clos boxed wine, not because it’s good but because it’s $3 and who the hell cares

Foreign currencies that look like fake money

Collecting shells, rocks, and sand

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The smell of fire

Buying Jiff, regular milk, generic whole wheat bread and Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup and not feeling guilty because it’s not the all-natural organic versions

The excitement of finding kale, mushrooms, arugula and other “rare” produce

Jamming to dance music the DJ spins (turn tables, massive speakers and all) in the middle of a grocery

Cooking with limes because lemons don’t exist in Central America

Cattle in the middle of a highway stopping traffic

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Old men with machetes the length of their leg

Using those machetes to “mow” grass

The highway suddenly becoming a narrow road through a teeny town…and it’s market day

Spitting on the floor (in and outdoors)

Women in traditional clothes

Those same women balancing heaping baskets of food or bags of firewood on their head

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Teens (and adults) wearing Aeropostale

Trophy-headstone stores…winning and losing at its best

Town squares

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Soccer fields in every village, no matter how small the village is

Guards armed with massive semi automatic weapons at the entrance to a pharmacy or ice cream shop

7 shacks in a row alongside the highway all selling the exact same one item

People juggling fire at an intersection in a major city

Asking for the wifi password and making sure it connects BEFORE ordering

A long deserted beach all to yourself…until that asshole parks right on top of you blasting crappy music

Topes

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Streets with no name and directions drawn in the dirt with a stick

Vehicles pouring black exhaust into the air

The power of the stamp and border bureaucracy

Making photocopies for inflated rates when the person needing copies has a machine right next to them

Getting clothes handwashed, line dried and folded for $5

The local market, skinned animal carcasses on display and all, where open air stalls sell everything from underwear to bootlegged movies to live animals

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40 cent chocolate covered frozen bananas

Conch fresh from the ocean

The familiarity of eating at McDonalds

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Hearing random B-list 90s music on the radio

Relaxing anywhere, a beach, square, park, national monument, and being bombarded with people selling trinkets

Spying auto hotels off the highway and wondering what is really going on there

Amazing street food for pocket change

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Said street food coming out of questionable half broken down trucks

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Highway-side dining

Walking past a restaurant or food stall and having the entire menu recited aloud in fast succession

Chrome buses and tricked out tuktuks

The leash phenomenon: wandering dog–a kid will kick it. But put that dog on a leash, that same kid will fight his siblings to hold the leash and walk the dog in circles

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I’m excited to…

Have SPACE and be able to do cartwheels INDOORS!!

Blast air conditioning

And then control the temperature of the house

Have a freezer

Drink good wine from a bottle out of a glass

Drink water from the tap

A real steak

Eat real sushi and drink real beer

Not have to scour for a free wifi connection

Be able to just pick up my cell and make a call

Receive mail and physical magazines

Cook what I want to eat for dinner and not what I should make because it’s too hot to use both burners and the oven

See distances in miles and measurements in gallons because I STILL haven’t figured out kilometers and liters

Drive a car. MY car. And drive it over 50 mph

Flush toilet paper down the toilet instead of opening the trap door of our composting toilet or in the waste bin at a restaurant

Have money coming into my bank account

See dogs that are well taken care of and part of a family instead of starving on the street

The familiarity of being home