Where is Here? x 401

401 days on the move
55,167 km / 34,279 miles travelled
34,156 photos taken
27 friends and family prevailed upon for lodging, visitations, meals, bathroom and laundry facilities
13 national parks
34 provincial / state parks
4 county parks
54 private campgrounds
2 campgrounds we paid for and then left right away
13 motels / hotels
4 house rentals
2 b&bs
6 ferries
2 row boats
2 motor boats
2 burros
6 bikes
6 buses
1 former Tijuana city bus turned Alt-tour bus
2 street cars
7 taxis
2 tow trucks
1 horse drawn carriage
2 rental cars
16 appointments with mechanics
10 border crossings
6 provinces
24 states
102+ cities / towns / villages
3 countries
Overstayed our allowed time in USA by 1 month and not advised to re-enter until October 15th, 2015 at the earliest

Overall incredible supporters of the US economy (and not exactly slouches here in Canada either)! It’s a wonder they won’t let us back in for a while!! The Gross National Product of the United States has dropped since we crossed back into Canada on April 12th, 2015.

One Year of Van Repairs: A Whopping $9,286.65!
Supported 8 Auto Garages in 2 Countries; Awesome Customers of GoWesty, VanCafe and Bus Depot; Provided Custom to Canadian Tire, Part Source, Napa, AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts

June 5, 2014
Ultimate Auto, Toronto, ON
Engine Block Breather Tower
Wiper Arm Nut Cover
Sliding Door Latch – Screw
Breather Tower O-Ring
Drain Cap – Gray Water
Oil Change and Filter, Distributor Cap and Rotor, Ignition Wire Set

June 4
Ordered Locking Gas Cap

July 26
Maurice’s Service Centre, St. Anthony, Newfoundland
Water Pump

August 19
Beetle Shop, Belfast, Maine
Temporary Fix to Leaking Fuel Tank

August 28
Ultimate Auto, Toronto
Replace Fuel Tank
Oil Change
New Tires and Alignment

September 5
Towed by CAA to Ultimate Auto, Toronto
Rear Hatch Shocks
Fuse for Radiator Fan

November 6
Towed by Skelton Towing to Buddy’s Auto Repair, Alpine, Texas
New Alternator

December 5
Auto Glass of San Diego, California
New Windshield

December 9
SouthWesties, San Diego, California
Oil Change
Awning Crank Replaced
Installation of Pop-Top Struts

January 29, 2015
Autobahn Automotive Service, San Antonio, Texas
Replace 2 Hydro Lifters and Push Rod Tubes
Oil Change

February 12
Sunshine Auto Garage, Sarasota, Florida
Remove and Install New Fuel Tank, Vent Tube and Vent Hoses
O-Ring re-installed
Replaced Flywheel Seal
Installed new Pedal Pads on Brake and Clutch
Rotated Tires

February 17
Sunshine Auto Garage, Sarasota, Florida
Replaced Cooling Fan

March 19
Sunshine Auto Garage, Sarasota, Florida
Replaced Remaining 6 Hydro Lifters and Push Rod Tubes

March 30
Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia
Noticed popping sound from Fuel Tank starting again!!
Removed Gas Cap and sound stopped. Began searching for a Vented Gas Cap!!!
If we had done this from the beginning we would not have had to replace the Fuel Tank twice nor lost a significant number of brain cells.

April 23
Ultimate Auto, Toronto
Replace Master Cylinder Assembly and Rear Wheel Cylinders
New Spark Plugs, Air Filter, Brake Fluid
Replaced Speedometer Cable but Cable was Faulty

April 28
Ultimate Auto, Toronto
Replace Front Shocks

June 5
Ultimate Auto, Toronto
Replaced Faulty Speedometer Cable

June 6
Interstate All Battery, Woodbridge, ON
New Auxiliary Battery

Clearly 55,000+ km in one year takes a toll on a 25 year-old vehicle! We are hoping the repairs slow down for a while. A long while.

So, one year later….
Regrets? None.

We read this quote on the Our Open Road blog recently. It is from the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. When asked what surprised him most about humanity replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

The most important thing we have learned from living and travelling in our van this past year is to really live in the present and we largely lived without stress or anxiety. Amazing how just the idea of returning to our home province and country made us anxious. All the stressors we left behind are still here. Plus, returning ‘home’ we were compelled by others and ourselves to consider the future, our future. Where will we live, what will we do for work? For the record we did take on some design work while travelling – we designed the theme and corresponding digital and print materials for this year’s Terroir Symposium. It was something we worked on as we travelled across the USA finishing up the print portion upon our return to Ontario.

We needed to take care of all kinds of practical matters when we got to Toronto: taxes, doctors, license renewals, a mountain of mail, etc. Plus, we have spent a month and a half with (Julie’s) Dad in Amherstburg dealing with matters of health and welfare. Our return to the open road has been necessarily delayed.

We still don’t know where or if we want to plant roots though it is always on our minds these days. We’ve looked at options here in Amherstburg, back in Toronto, Prince Edward County, Marfa, Texas, Corsica, the Amalfi coast of Italy and Rome. So far nothing’s clicked. What we know is that we want to live somewhere beautiful, unpolluted (if that’s even possible anymore), a place that has great food and a fresh market, near or on water, mountains or desert, a thriving, creative community, that it be walkable / a place where we don’t have to drive everywhere, if not a city then not too far from a city and an international airport, where there is great hiking close by, solid, dependable internet, a place that inspires us, with room for visitors of course. Sounds like Utopia?! It is definitely much easier to imagine the place we want to live! We have found places that fit some of our developing criteria throughout our journey but there is usually at least one critical component missing. If you know of a place that fits this description let us know. Right now, the van life fulfills our needs.

We are always thinking, as entrepreneurs, of our next iteration in business. We have lots of ideas. Business ideas aside we have an art project in mind inspired, of course, by our travels. We plan to start development at the end of September for execution next spring or summer. Something we were reminded of as we consider new business ideas or ways of making money is this: we have never been driven by money. Our businesses: GreenStreet Design, Pantry Press, Canadian Chefs’ Congress have all been projects of passion. We started them because: 1. We loved and wanted to be together 2. We loved collaborating with artists and curators 3. We loved the tactile quality of letterpress printing and wanted to be able to do the things other printers said we couldn’t do 4. We loved the idea of re-inventing social stationery 5. We loved working and spending time with our friends Michael and Nobuyo 6. We loved the idea of learning about Canada’s food culture, exploring our country and meeting new friends. So, when we started talking about potential new businesses we found ourselves getting excited about an interactive art installation project inspired by places, experiences and people we have met in the past year. We reminded ourselves that money follows passion. When we decided to dismantle our comfortable life our goal was to find renewed creative passion. So it follows that should we start a new business at this point in our life that the primary goal is not just about generating income. We need to be excited.

So, one year later – do we have clarity? Yes. And no. It’s a process. Not a divine intervention. A process we are enjoying. Who knows where we will stop or if we’ll stop. And we are still okay with that.

On our honeymoon in 1997 we spent a couple of nights at the Roycroft in East Aurora, New York (Elbert Hubbard’s arts and crafts campus). We bought this original letterpress print, with his quote, printed on handmade paper, which has guided us and hung on a wall on our studio up until last year. For us, it is as relevant as ever.

The mintage of wisdom is to know that

Rest is Rust, and that real life

is in love, laughter and work.

– Elbert Hubbard