Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Van GoGo Dancing Duo????

The Van Goings?
The Van Gone's?

Well, we've gotten some feedback about our last blog post and some people loved the new proposed blog name while others have struggled with it because of the pronunciation. We've talked with some friends and we've discussed options privately and we have some additional proposals for the new blog before making an official change.
We are trying to keep in mind that we want the blog to reflect the lifestyle that we are currently trying to lead. We realized in undertaking this endeavor, that many dreams have an expiration date – something that I had not really thought about prior to this project.
Most of you know that we've been leaning towards this lifestyle for several years now- I loved the idea of van life life long before we really got into RVing. I always had my van and I thought it would be really neat to live and travel something that was so easy to get around with. Once we started talking about living in RV full-time, the idea of living in a van never really crossed either of our minds.  There's a general connotation associated with people who live in vans- either that they're homeless and don't have an alternative, or that there're fringe dwellers who live apart from the structure and normalcy of polite society, or lastly, that they're twenty-something skier/snowboarders/rock climbers/adrenaline junkies who are living this way for an undetermined period of time until they "grow up" a bit.

While we never really fit into any of the above categories- we realize that we really wanted something affordable, easy to maneuver, comfortable and (most importantly) paid for.
We realize that 10 years from now when we are in our early 50s, we're likely not going to want to continue traveling in this manner, so we realized that this dream had an expiration date that was fast approaching.

Not willing to sacrifice a dream such as this, we decided to take the plunge sooner rather than later. Since coming east we have not done as much traveling as we had initially hoped, and we really wanted to catch the travel fever before we settled into complacency.

Let us know what you think of the above proposed changes or message us with ideas of your own.

Two days until official lift off!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Well, we are eight weeks or so into our newest adventure in our smallest RV ever. In just a few short weeks we will be on the road beginning a trip that we've never attempted before. We have until the end of October to gallivant as slowly or quickly across the country as we'd like. Thus far, we have 14 states on our summer itinerary. We have no intention of utilizing interstate travel if we can avoid it, and we have limited schedules in mind. Our goal this summer is first and foremost to clean out our storage unit in Utah, so that we have one less tie to tell the rest. In addition to frame up our minds and our space, we would like to also focus on building our travel network. We intend to blog more regularly ( a vow that I have broken to myself more times than I care to admit), take more pictures, and have more adventurous than we have in the recent past. If you have something you would like to see, perhaps a video tour of our new space or if you have questions that you would like answered, please let us know.

Additionally, we are thinking of changing the name of our blog. Since we no longer reside in a "tin can", we feel that perhaps the blog title is inappropriate to our current lifestyle. We have come up with a blog name that is an appropriate haplology of words that we think are well-suited to our current lifestyle. The downside to our proposed blog name is that the primary word is not a common word in popular culture. Eleutheromania is the nearly obsessive pursuit of freedom which we feel is appropriate to our current mindset. Since we are also really lovey-dovey,  our idea for our new blog name is "The Eleutheromantics". It also looks really cool because it looks like an homage to Annie Lennox.
Let us know what you think of the proposed name change, we really value your feedback, and we promise to start posting more interesting content frequently.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My friend Eric posted this to Facebook from a Robert Kirby archive in the Salt Lake Tribune:

For the uninitiated: Robert Kirby is a columnist for the SL Tribune, a practicing Mormon, and one of the few publicly VOCAL questioners of the Mormon faith from within the church fold. There are PLENTY of detractors outside of the LDS faith, but the church is (argue if you will) notorious for shaming and excommunicating members who too often publicly display “significantly questionable faith”.
 If you make it all the way to the end of this diatribe, I have an interesting personal tidbit on why EVERYONE of EVERY BELIEF should feel free and supported to question any doctrine respectfully.   

This is an edited version of the original article: 

Here's another important gospel question for people of "only one way" faiths.

How much does your unshakable faith comfort you in moments of genuine pain and uncertainty about eternity? A lot? Some? Only a little? Not a bit?

Now the question. Is your religious faith ever a major factor in causing that pain? Is there a time when what you believe isn't a comfort and, in fact, actually makes things worse?

For example, suppose a son — let's call him Buddy — you raised to be a devout Latter-day Saint, a superstar kid through Primary, Boy Scouts, a mission, etc., suddenly announces that he's an atheist? And he's not kidding.

Not only is Buddy now an atheist, so is his new wife. Furthermore, all of your grandchildren from them will be reared as atheists.

I'm not picking on atheists here. I could have used Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Democrats and anything else that puts a loved one crossways to your core beliefs.

I'm also not singling out sons. The person in question could be your father, your spouse, a sister, a daughter, a best friend or anyone else you hope to see in heaven when you get there.

In every other regard, Buddy is still the same kid you raised. He's happy, smart, loving and even respectful of your beliefs.

Does your faith make you feel better about him, or is your belief in your theology a constant source of worry and sorrow for you now?

Hey, Buddy's not following the plan. He's going to hell (or wherever true believers like you don't go). There, he'll either sulk forever that he's no longer welcome at eternal family reunions, or every morning his entrails will be torn out again and used to floss Satan's teeth. Anyway, it will be bad.

But let's not worry about forever. Let's stick with right now. Do you believe you're so right about Buddy's new godless situation that it detracts from a healthy and loving relationship in the here and now?

Every time you look at Buddy now does your unshakable faith automatically remind you that he's doomed, that this theological rift is so important that mostly you just feel sorry for him and sorrier for yourself?

Maybe you've decided to grudgingly accept this "lesser" Buddy for who he is now out of the goodness of your heart; that if you can't love him the way your faith mandates, you can at least tolerantly pity him in a Christ-like way.

If so, consider the very real possibility that you're an idiot. First for letting theology get in the way of love, and second for believing in a plan/god/spirit that would condemn Buddy for being a wonderful human being but unfortunately, not a believer.

This also applies to nonbelievers who so firmly suppose they're smarter than believers that they can't relate to their loved ones anymore either.

Religion (or whatever you choose to call it) isn't just divisive because we exclude and sometimes even kill one another over it. It's also great at silently torturing loving relationships to death. ~Robert Kirby~

Okay: So here is my juicy parable- It's known in Psychology as the Pot Roast Principle and the story goes something like this:

A young woman is preparing a pot roast while her friend looks on.  She cuts off both ends of the roast, prepares it and puts it in the pan.  “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asks.  “I don’t know”, she replies.  “My mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her”.
Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation.  During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?”  Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven”.    “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked.  Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!”
Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation.   When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?”   The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences.  “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot”.     The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?”     The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered.   “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then.  I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot that I owned”.

If we never question doctrine, we may well find out that we've created already outdated gospel to address an ever-changing world. I know that there are those of you out there who believe that the word of the Bible is the end all, be all for time and eternity- and there are those who believe that God sent an updated version of the Bible 2.0 in the form of the LDS Scriptures.
Both of these beliefs are fine and dandy if they get you through the day- but even the Mormons believe that they can still receive 'updates', in the form of Divine Revelations, to further clarify ambiguous texts of the past as they apply to today's world.

 Frankly, the Mormons are far more forward thinking in my mind, than the religions that believe that the Bible holds every answer to every question that will ever be asked from the beginning of Humanity to present- yet still eat shellfish, wear Rayon and don't own slaves or beat their wives for back-talk. 

The Carl Sagan quote, “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth", should absolutely hold true for any belief that a human dares to pin the entire context of his or her life upon.

Katrina and I were speaking on this subject the other day and discussing how many people (not all) spend this lifetime as holier than thou, sanctimonious assholes- in the belief that they are going to be Gods of their own worlds in the after-life (LDS belief), or sit on a golden cloud in a perpetual fit of bliss for eternity (general Christianity?.

They can be judgmental, condescending, homophobic, self-serving, misogynistic abusers of humanity and the environment, simply because they focus on an archaic text that tells them to look to the heavens and their eyes are on the spectral promise of an eternal afterlife.

But what if they're wrong? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

American Muscle, Detroit Gold & Saying Goodbye

My family made a very difficult decision a few weeks ago to say goodbye to a long-cherished 'family member'.
Daisy has been in my family since 1965, when she was purchased new by my eldest aunt in New York in 1966. She is a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible.

 She lived in California for many years and she is the vehicle that I first saw the original Muppet Movie in at a San Diego drive-in during the summer of 1979 with my cousin Ernie Scholz- we were six years old at the time.
She came to live with my dad in Texas about a dozen years ago, as we wanted her to remain in the family.
My dad and I have worked on her carburetor, washed her, waxed her and enjoyed long drives in her. She was intended to be an early inheritance at some point, as she held many fond memories and is a gorgeous piece of industrial art.
Several months ago, my dad asked me if I was ready for my inheritance and could I make the necessary accommodations for her. We discussed options back and forth and Katrina and I decided that our present lifestyle was not the most suitable situation for maintaining a classic car and that the storage and maintenance expense would be significant and would likely require us to go back to a more traditional lifestyle that we no longer desire and possibly couldn't afford comfortably long-term.
We shared our concerns with Dad, who was very supportive and understanding and we decided to pursue other options for Daisy.

This week, Daisy joined the extensive Gullo Ford Family Museum collection, where she will be on display for the enjoyment of many for decades to come. If you ever have a chance to visit the collection, please say hello to her from us. It's not often that a family heirloom finds its way to a museum in your lifetime.
As sad as it is to see Daisy go, we know she is well cared for and loved.
'Hippie Van' now takes the lead as the patriarchal vehicle in the Holt family as he enters his fortieth year and possibly the half-a-million mile mark one day soon. He has not been driven much in the last fifteen years and his newly rebuilt engine and transmission should help to change that very soon.

In the meantime, I am keeping up the family tradition with Molly (Jeep), as she prepares to celebrate her 25th year this July. My dad and I drove to my hometown of Cocoa Beach, Florida on July 14th, 1990 to pick her up. I was seventeen.

I am reminded in writing this that many of my fondest memories with my dad revolve around these and other vehicles. His passion for collecting and maintaining his very own 'pieces of industrial art' have always been a part of our relationship, and washing the cars every Saturday was a childhood ritual that I will never forget. He taught me how to change my own oil and tires, lube a chassis and gap a spark plug.
 He knows the answer to any and every mechanical question there is to ask about any internal combustion or nuclear powered engine ever manufactured.  He can look at four square inches of a fender, bumper or tail fin and tell you the year make and model of any car built after 1950. He owns every issue of Car and Driver and Motor Trend since 1969. He has one hobby and one passion and he’s dedicated a lifetime to honing his expertise because he is simply overcome with curiosity about all things automotive.
We bought my first car before I was even old enough for a driving permit- a neglected '78 T-bird that had sat for years in a field in Virginia. We spent two years rebuilding the engine (using the onion skin manual that my dad ordered from Ford for $100) and polishing off the oxidation until she shone. I owned that T-bird for fourteen years and more than 260,000 miles. She drove from Texas to Alabama, Oklahoma, all over Florida and the southeast, and she towed my worldly possessions from Alabama to Utah as I fled an abusive relationship and a case of bronchitis so severe that my dad ended up driving me from Houston to Salt Lake City at a moment’s notice while I slept fitfully and heavily medicated most of the way.

My own Detroit fascination is homage to him and a continuing tribute to the amazing man who has skillfully shaped and continues to influence my life today. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

One More Reason That My Wife Is Totally Awesome

This morning before work, I was goofing around on the computer and trying to clean out my email and FB notifications. I subscribe to several deal sites like Brad's Deals and Living Social, and I saw an intriguing ad for a waterproof wireless shower speaker with a really funny video ad.

Basically, this dorky guy is trying to be studly and sexy in the video (and he knows that he isn't), and is talking about how many and heavy metal this speaker is... Cut to a silhouette of him laying in the tub with candles and bubbles listening to "On the Wings of Love" while turning on the water with his big toe. It was fairly amusing.

Anyway, Katrina is flitting around making our breakfast shakes and lemon tea and isn't really paying attention to me. About 20 minutes later, while I am washing dishes, I start belting out a comedically off-key rendition of 'On the Wings of Love', to which Katrina stops short and gives me this really odd look.

"What's wrong?" I say, genuinely concerned that she, after all these years, suddenly thinks this is my real singing voice.

"That's SO weird. I was JUST thinking that song in my head." She sort of tilts her head speculatively.

"What are you thinking?" I ask.

"Well, I knew that is was just a matter of time before I developed super powers", she replies with a straight face, "I just sort of hoped that it would be either magic or the ability to fly, but I guess mind control is pretty good, too."

 She laughs and then says, "Please tell me that we recently heard that song before I think that we're now sharing one brain or something..."

And THAT is one of the many reasons that my wife is freaking awesome. Super powers- her totally rational explanation for the not-easily-explainable. That, or a Vulcan mind meld...

God, I love this girl!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Space Between

I have not updated in months, because it was just too difficult to follow the timeline that I was trying to maintain, but I am overflowing with thought and I need to share!!! So here's my latest (totally random) blog:

I am sitting at a picnic table in front of my RV, less than ten feet from a roaring campfire, in an insanely popular and lovely state park- and I’m pensive.
We have new neighbors this evening- from Pennsylvania- and they've commented, as have many others, how young we are compared to other hosts they've encountered. A common conversation thread includes:
·         You must love it- no responsibilities, fun all the time, just playing.
·         You must travel all over. I’ll bet you’re never in the same place for any length of time.
And most commonly (and obviously),
·         How?
We've been full-timing for a year-and-a-half, and traveling for about 7 of those months, and as I ‘settle’ into the ‘reality’ of living this way, I have begun to develop an awareness of the uniqueness of our particular circumstance.

Most of our friends and family are ‘stick and brickers’- that is, the majority of their lives are lived in a perma-structure of stick and brick creation. Some of them may be weekend campers or RVers, but their modular existence is in the nature of recreation, so when they are in their RV’s or tents, they are usually pursuing other entertainments or activities and are using the modular structure as a ‘hotel room’ to further enjoy their outdoor activities.
Some of our family and friends (Katrina’s parents and our camp hosting friends from Croft) are ‘full-timer lites’- when they RV, it’s often for months or seasons at a time, but they still have S&B homes and in the cases of all of our Croft friends, at least one spouse still works at a job that he/she must physically show up for most weekdays. These folks understand our hopes and dreams, because many of them share a similar vision, but they still have the ties that anchor them to ‘respectable’ society. In other words, most people don’t view them as fringe-ists or as completely unhinged- just slightly eccentric.
Lastly, there are the other full-timers that we know- The first group of folks are our friends from Salt Lake in the “RV Pit”, who are mostly just young families and folks our age struggling to live in an economically challenging situation and trying valiantly to get back into ‘respectable’ living.
The second group of full-timers are the retired camp hosts that we meet at the parks where we volunteer. Almost without exception (a widow, widower and single older lady not yet retired) all of the hosts are retired couples with big rigs and guaranteed income just looking to travel and stretch their accommodations dollar as far as it will go.  They are the appropriate age and demographic  to make vagabonding socially acceptable.
Enter the Brolts (my amusing haplology of our last names- kind of like Brangelina, but classier). We don’t smoothly fit into the niches of polite society- we aren't retired in our big rig, we don’t have a ‘settled’ place to return to (an ideal that my mother frets herself into foaming fits over- repeat five times fast)  and we’re not transitioning between the two.
We’re a bit of a conundrum. This entire issue really lies with me- someone from one side (an S&Ber, for example) will make a comment- perhaps about how lucky we are to be on a lark and just enjoying no responsibility- and it will irk me no end.
Do you really think that I have no responsibilities whatsoever?
How do you think I support myself and my wife, pay my bills and put food on the table?
Feed my cats?
Buy gas?
Repair Justin the Behemoth Beaver?
Buy awesome shit that I can’t live without?

So I sit in front of a campfire and ponder my life. I think about an internet meme that I once saw that depicted a vignette about Lesbians. I’ll include it below because it succinctly illustrates my next point (please don’t be offended at the slightly risqué- ness of it- I didn't create it)

So, off-color though it may be, the above is a good generalization of my current challenge. S&Bers think that we’re just hanging around the campfire all of the time, doing nothing; and the retired folk/Lites, wonder why we’re always inside on the computer working instead of out by the campfire like them.

It’s like we’re in RV purgatory…

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Year 2014!

Well, I swore that I would be more diligent in keeping up with this blog, but that resolution has yet to  be fulfilled. Perhaps the blush of a new year filled with hope and new opportunities will hold me to some of my literary promises.

As for this story, let's pick up where we left off several months ago.
Polk County Courthouse

I am married... I am in Des Moines in September with my new wife, which sounds lovely, and is for the most part, except for the weather. My God, it's hot! And muggy- let's certainly not forget the muggy. And I am in jeans and a button-down and suede (good choice, Jenn) shoes.
We are trudging back to Justin Beaver after filing our papers and we are now coming down from our adrenal overload of the past two hours and are starting to feel the effects of a 'three hours of sleep in the jungle' kind of night.  The sky is threatening and there is nowhere to sleep or have a (much needed) shower in Des Moines, so we are heading out in hopes of a breeze or a truck stop, anything but the oppressive monotonous stillness of the weather in the city.
Wedding Ring
We drive towards Missouri, trying to eat up some miles en route to our first destination of Asheville, NC. Initially, we had hoped to honeymoon in Memphis or Nashville, or someplace romantic- and not boondocking in front of my mom's house- but with all that has happened on this trip, we feel that a 'bat out of hell' approach is best in this instance.  We travel a few hours, through torrential rains that are not cooling or refreshing, at all, and I am tired and hot and sticky and grumpy and hungry... We stop in a small town in Missouri that we later find out is named Holt (kismet!!!), and we stop at the first place that we find open that isn't fast food. The New China Buffet with over 100 items turns out to be the nastiest Chinese restaurant in the free world. We eat and laugh because, of course our wedding meal would be awful! It's just the universe's way... But we're happy despite the food and fatigue and we decide to see if Holt, MO has a place for the Holt's for tonight. Twenty years notwithstanding, a hot shower and air conditioning would make an excellent wedding night gift. We find a motel that is only slightly questionable and back the Beaver into the spot right in front of our room. We feed kitties, grab what we need and tun the AC on high and the shower on hot... and then bathed and cleaned and fed, we sleep.  Blissful dreamless sleep until the crack of thunder (apparently under the bed) makes us both jump to our feet. It is pouring  down rain outside and the RV windows are open for the cats. I put on my shorts and run barefoot to the RV to close all of the windows while thunder and lightening and the heavens erupt. I am soaked through when I return to the room and collapse back into bed after a quick wardrobe change. Our hotel is built into the side of a hill and our room is right at the juncture, so once the thunder stops it's pealing, we sleep through the rest of the night. We find out the next morning that we have slept through an F2 tornado. All is fine with Justin Beaver but the cats are pissed! We pack up under sunny skies but watch the ominous blackness to the East (of course,  the direction that we are heading). We hit plenty of rain  but no significant weather or issues until we reach Cape Girardeau, MO, where I discover while fueling, a gasket seal is blown on my rear tandem wheel hub. Not taking chances, I locate a diesel repair shop and $135 later, I have a silicone repair that took about thirty minutes and will hopefully hold for awhile.
We make it to just East of St. Louis before nightfall and spend a noisy night in a Hampton Inn parking lot right next to the freeway. Up and early the next morning, we finish the rest of the trip without incident. Two days later, we pull into my mom's drive, where we will spend the next ten days working until it's time to leave for (finally) Myrtle Beach.
Finally legal!
While in Asheville, I have dinner with my aunts and cousins, who share with us wonderful wedding presents and we also drive to Spartanburg, SC to see my cousin, Jimmy and his wife, Patricia, and to see Croft State Park, which is our next assignment after MBSP. Patricia also made us an unexpected surprise of a wedding cake, which was so kind and thoughtful (and not to mention delicious!). What a wonderful gift to celebrate with our family on so many occasions.

We weren't originally thrilled about our scheduled time at Croft State Park because it isn't a well represented park. I chose it mainly because of it's proximity to my mother, it's lack of snow, and a YouTube video on trail biking that I found. Once we arrived, however, my attitude completely changed. Ranger Dave took us all on a hike down to the river and the mountain bike bridge, and he also took us to the lake and up a closed pass in the park. We had a great time and were really looking forward to our next assignment after MB. as a fotnote, I am actually writing this update from Croft, having been here for a little over a months now. 
After ten days spent with family and friends, we were ready to hit the beach!!!

Stay tuned for our further adventures in Myrtle Beach!