two days in ubatuba.

back on a bus. ubatuba to rio de janeiro this time. it is windy through the hills, and i think my ability to stare at my computer in vehicles without getting queasy is starting to wear off as i get older. but, i’ll push through…

we arrived in ubatuba after a “three hour” bus ride (which actually took five) from sao paulo. two nights in an airbnb by praia grande, the most popular beach on a long stretch of beautiful coastline.

our airbnb host had been very helpful (and slightly overboard) leading up to our arrival, providing endless details, travel advice, and constant communication. however, due to that, we were able to jump off the bus at the exact right stop and walk 50 yards to her home.

the apartment was straight out of the 50s and definitely could have been lived in by the same woman since way back then. it had that old smell and questionable charm. the gas stove had some dodgy piping, but the view was unbeatable for $50/night. beach in front, jungle in back.

after dropping our suitcases off in our temporary home, we quickly changed into our swimsuits and settled into some serious relaxation. and by that, i of course mean burgers and beers by the beach. now, we might have preferred something else to eat, but it was pretty easy to pick those two items on the portuguese menu and since we were starving from our delayed bus ride, we went with easy.

praia grande was crowded. it was the weekend, but it also turns out that i accidentally picked the high season to visit. lots of local tourists flock to ubatuba in decemeber and january, when the temperatures are hot and the rains are rare.

we walked the long white sand beach soaking in the scenery. kids playing soccer and volleyball. groups of friends drinking too much and causing a commotion. couples holding hands and kissing in the waves. vendors selling drinks and snacks and ice cream and clothes.

as the sun started to set, we wandered back across the street to our apartment, where ryan proceeded to immediately fall asleep. a few beers and a little sunshine always manage to steal your energy. i thought he’d wake up in time for dinner again, but he just kept on sleeping. i guess he still needed to catch up on some zzzz…

as he slumbered, i strolled down to the local shop and picked up some pasta for dinner. i ate some food, did some work, and retired early. music blaring over loud speakers occasionally streamed in through our open windows reminding us of the party we were missing outside.

the next morning, i unexpectedly woke up just in time to catch the sun rising over the ocean. day two in ubatuba…

we boarded a city bus into the center of town, about a 20 minute bus ride that costs $1/person. ubatuba proper is a cute, decent sized town. there are plenty of stores and restaurants to explore. lots of places to sample brazil’s delicious “pastel,” a pastry filled with whatever you want basically. 

we walked through town and ended up back on the coast. the beach on the edge of the city center is pretty barren. there are no vendors, no umbrellas, no bikinis. but, there are something like 100 beaches along this stretch of brazil’s coastline, so we continued walking the coast exploring as many beaches as we could. 

after enjoying one other beach, we headed back out to the main highway and called an uber to transport us out to the infamous itamambuca beach, known by many surfers. about seven miles down the road.

itamambuca is beautiful. it reminded me of nosara, costa rica. dirt roads lined with elegant homes and understated beach shacks, all leading to the beach. small snack shops and surf stands ready to help visitors enjoy the ocean to the fullest. 

the ocean meets up with the itamambuca river here. the fresh water combines with the salty sea. it was less chaotic than the other beaches near town. there were still beach bars and vendors, but there were way less people. however, the water was much dirtier. perhaps the river’s fault?

we set up shop at a table on the beach, and with our toes in the hot sand and a “stupidly cold” (brazilian saying) beer in our hand, we watched the waves roll in and out.

unfortunately, the waves were not quite up to my aussie surfer’s standards. although the beach is known to have some good breaks, the waves were not cooperating for us this trip. but that’s how it goes when you only have a day or two. not enough time to patiently await the swell. oh well. we’ll have plenty of time to surf in australia next month. 

after we were sufficiently sunned, we shuffled back to the main highway on the dirt roads surrounded by jungle greenery. the bus took an hour to come by. but we waited. because we had nowhere else to be. nothing else to do. no plans. 

when the bus pulled back through the city center, we jumped off and walked the opposite direction along the coast. back towards praia grande via itagua, a hip little neighborhood full of restaurants and bars. 

and then we saw this…

yes, that is someone bungee jumping from a crane. and hang gliding from a crane. and free falling into a net from a crane. 

this was just randomly set up on the side of the street. there was not a fair or anything else going on around it. just long lines to defy death one more day. only in brazil i suppose? we were totally game to try one of them, but our desire not to wait in line won instead.

for dinner, we found a cute little health food restaurant, banana brazil. a welcomed break from the fried pastries and cheese filled everything that we’d been snacking on. so far, beyond the meat, brazil has not necessarily offered us any oh-my-gosh-that-was-fucking-delicious moments.

i remember experiencing this when i lived in argentina. sure, you can find a great meal here and there, but in general, the palette is a bit bland for my tastebuds (surprising i know, with all the white foods i tend to eat). it just doesn’t excite my tongue like japanese or italian or thai or indian or mexican… to each their own though. 

and then, you’ll never guess what we did… we went to sleep. clearly, we both really needed some vacation time…

and today, we travel. 

7am wake up and pack up
8am city bus to the major ubatuba bus terminal
8:30am walk a couple blocks with luggage because we got off a stop early
8:45am make ryan go get cash from an atm to buy bus tickets (sao paulo only took cash)
8:58am hope the bus we want is not sold out
9am ticket office opens, and it turns out they take credit (oops…)
9:30am drink coffee and eat deep fried something
11am bus scheduled to depart for rio de janeiro
11:45am extreme bus stop boredom sets in
12:15pm bus actually departs for rio de janeiro
5pm now, still on the road to rio 

here’s to our final two days in brazil!

p.s. sorry this post is boring. we needed a few days of boring.

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one day in sao paulo.

the only way for me to capture an experience on paper is if i write it down immediately. many of my travels disappear into memories before the details make their way into words. a few photos get posted here and there to help jog my memory years later. 

but, it is the trips that include lots of bus time, flight time, and alone time that end up being best documented. this trip is one of those trips. first up? brazil!

we are on a bus heading from sao paulo to ubatuba. just reaching the peak of the serra do mar and heading down the hills to the beach. our quick trip to brazil is something of a city sandwich: sao paulo and rio de janeiro with some relaxing beach and surf time in ubatuba in between. 

after a five hour flight to atlanta and a nine hour redeye to sao paulo, ryan and i arrived in brazil absolutely exhausted. (the late night celebration in san francisco prior to our initial flight might have been part of the problem… thanks viv, ruth, and andrew…) we quickly skipped through customs and threw our one overstuffed suitcase into an uber. yep, an uber. ordered straight from the app with ease. ¡vamos a jardins village hostel por favor! 

oh wait, they don’t speak spanish in this south american country?! shit. 

i haven’t visited a country without a native speaker or being able to speak the language in a little while. it is sort of fun to be forced to learn some portuguese and create my own bastardized version of spanish, english, and random google translated portuguese words. turns out i can understand enough key words to get by. and the google translate app is like cheating really… with the photo hover translate feature?! i can’t wait to tell our children about the days when traveling to a foreign country was WAY harder.

we are in brazil for five days. we haven’t traveled like this in awhile either. quick stops in multiple places to see as much as we can before going onto the next country. we have had the privilege and luxury of spending weeks or even months in most of our travel destinations. time to shift the mindset. we’ll never see it all, just sample and take notes for next time.

and so, we spent our first 24 hours in brazil, walking around as much of sao paulo as possible. my feet have blisters and my shoulders are sunburnt, but my belly is full and my heart is too. 

sao paulo has a population of 12.11 million people. it is the most populous city in the southern and western hemispheres. it is the 11th most populous city on earth. 

and yet, it felt manageable.

of course, we didn’t have time to visit everywhere, but the neighborhoods we visited were clean, easy to navigate, and full of cheerful paulistanos (sao paulo locals). 

our hostel was in an area known as jardins, down a cute little alley.

it was a couple blocks off avenida paulista, one of the main bustling city streets crowded with men in suits, street vendors, and an endless variety of people. 

that was one of the main things we noticed right away. it is impossible to typify a brazilian. every time i thought i’d hear english or german or japanese come out of someone’s mouth, it was portuguese. every time i thought, “that person is for sure a tourist,” they’d prove me wrong. brazil should maybe steal the american title of “melting pot.”

and everyone is lovely. from the uber driver trying to point out attractions to us in broken spanish…
to the shaved head barista teaching us about the history behind the delicious “bread of cheese”…
to the old man helping us find a misplaced credit card at the empanada bar…
to the woman at the phone store directing me to a place where i could find an outlet converter…
to the waiter at the brazilian steakhouse explaining how to take advantage of all the tableside-carved meat.

every confusion caused by our lack of portuguese came along with a loving smile and a joyful willingness to help. 

we walked from our hostel in jardins all the way to vila madalena, an artsy district full of hip shops, galleries, and cafes. it was further of a walk than we expected, but it was a great way to take in our new surroundings. 

we toured beca de batman, an alley filled with amazing street art. all of sao paulo is covered in street art and graffiti. buildings, sidwalks, walls, cars, there is art everywhere. but, this specific alley is a famous spot to see a lot at once. 

after this, the effects of our redeye started to set in. we were both exhausted. like, barely keep our eyes open exhausted. we stopped to fill our bellies with empanadas and hoped it would give us a little energy boost. 

it didn’t. so instead of walking an hour to our next destination, we called up an uber. $4 for a 30 minute drive? yes please. ryan instantly fell asleep as we battled traffic to the central part of sao paulo or the old historic downtown. 

the calm, artsy vibe of vila madalena and the poshness of jardins disappeared. we were now back in what felt like a city. people everywhere. smells everywhere. an underground system of rails below us. the blazing afternoon sun above us. we let ourselves get lost. walking the streets taking in as much as we could.

throughout our travels to major cities, we inadvertently have started a tradition of going up to get a bird’s eye view of the city from its tallest building. usually it is overpriced and overcrowded, but it is always worth it. a chance for perspective. a chance for orientation. a chance for awe. 

the edificio italia has a 360 degree viewing terrace from their 42nd floor. it cost R30 (about $7.50 USD) and included a free glass of wine. a real steal compared to the $30-60 you usually spend getting to the top in places like hong kong, seattle, tokyo, chicago, etc.

sao paulo sprawls forever. in every direction. there is no one main clump of skyscrapers. it is a sea of skyscrapers. 

with my shoulders getting progressively more red and our lack of sleep getting progressively more impossible to ignore, we decided it was time for a little siesta. after realizing we were in an uber pickup hell (three drivers couldn’t find us and canceled even after we tried moving), we jumped into a taxi and fiercely fought our heavy eyelids. 

sure, we only had 24 hours to take in as much of the city as possible, but enjoying an afternoon siesta is definitely a classic way to experience south america. 

we passed out hard but woke up just in time for dinner. what kind of food did we want to eat? meat, of course! 

when in brazil, a churrascaria it is pretty much a must-do. an endless delicious variety of meats on a skewer brought to your table and hand carved onto your plate.

the restaurant we chose came complete with a beautiful buffet of sides as well (and the above photo on their website). not to mention a tasty flan for dessert. 

after we literally could not eat another bite without spewing, we strolled home in complete satisfaction. it was only 9:30pm, but we had to catch a bus early in the morning, so we settled in and drifted back to sleep. 

i know, we must be getting old… in a country known for its celebrations and not going out until the sun comes up… 

we’ll have to see what rio has in store. 🙂

that one day we got engaged.

five years ago, i met a man rock climbing in maple creek canyon in utah. we happened to both be going to kentucky for a month. and then, i followed him back to australia to see if it was something more.

five years later, he dropped to one knee and held out a ring. i’m a sucker for a good love story, and so far i’ve been given all the makings for a romcom box office hit (including a cute foreign accent). 

but for now, i’ll just skip to the engagement proposal story so i can start directing people to my blog instead of leaving out more and more lovey-dovey details every time someone asks. and so that in the future, i’ll actually remember the details…

a few months ago, a longtime beloved festival (the event that i work for) attendee emailed me asking if he could propose to his girlfriend on the stage at this year’s festival. after asking my boss, i realized there was no way in hell i was going to be able to convince him to halt the main music lineup for a random patron to takeover the microphone and share his love with 3,000 other patrons. (he’s not quite the romantic that i am.) i gave up on that idea but was committed to helping this man find the space to propose at the festival.

once onsite the second weekend of august, i met with him and helped plan a time for him to get on the microphone at the yoga pavilion. on saturday afternoon, following a great ecstatic dance set, he professed his love in front of her family, friends, and a small dance floor full of other attendees. 

i stood on a hill overlooking the proposal feeling pretty proud of myself and basking in their love. i walked back down the forested pathway to the office getting drunk on chlorophyll and glowing from their love. everyone loves love.

when i returned to the office, i told my boss how i had just facilitated my proposal perfectly. he looked confused. he asked me where. i told him at the yoga pavilion. he said, no no, i think we should do it at the stage. then i was confused. i thought you said we couldn’t do it at the stage. 

all the sudden, he realized i was talking about the guy who emailed a few months ago. he changed his tune and gave me a high five, finally joining me in my pridefulness. then, he started hounding me about organizing the staff photo. he had been bugging me about it all weekend. typically, it was not a big deal and a pretty last minute thing. we would just pull as many people as we could to some discreet location sometime on sunday. 

this year, he said he wanted it on sunday afternoon at the stage right before manoj’s dj set, so all the staff would stay and dance a bit to his set afterwards. (manoj is a good friend of many beloved staff.)

cool. sounds good. staff photo planned. now stop bugging me about it.

back to the grind. i run around nonstop during the festival. as the general manager, i have most of the answers, so people ask me all of the questions. my mind has zero time to think about anything unrelated to the festival.

i made the announcement for the staff photo over the radio on sunday morning. all call, all call. the staff photo will be at 3:15pm at the stage. be there and bring your smiles.

3:15pm came quickly, and i rounded up all the admin staff in the office to head down to the stage. a couple of my coworkers alerted me that it was pretty hot outside (since i had not left the office since breakfast) and encouraged me to take off the black leggings i had on under my green dress. 

okay, leggings off. now let’s go.

i asked our security manager to borrow his megaphone, and we headed to the stage. 

it was the middle of the final day of the festival and the dance floor was packed. all the staff gathered together and waited for the current musician to finish their set. i continually glanced around the audience trying to figure out who was missing. which staff members would i need to radio individually and remind them to get their butts down to the stage for the staff photo?

i didn’t see ryan, so i texted him to make sure he was on his way. 

the music ended, and we all congregated in front of the stage on the dance floor. several of our festival photographers were there to help capture the moment. megaphone in hand, i directed everyone to squeeze in closer and move to get out of the sun. eventually, i slide into the front row, and the staff photo was complete.

we all hugged and started to clear out. i said thanks to everyone and thought we were heading back to work.

but, then my boss announced that he wanted to do department photos…

my thoughts: department photos? you’ve got to be kidding me. everyone has so much work to do. we never do department photos. there are over 20 departments. this is going to take forever. ughhh… 

he took the megaphone out of my hand and called out for the operations department to gather. (i guess the boss always gets what he wants.) the operations crew (ryan’s department) gathered on the dance floor. one photo down, a million more to go…

next up, they called the admin department (my department). i started walking out and all the operations crew pushed everyone else back. 

i yelled out something dumb like “oh now we’re doing couples’ photos?!”

but instead of an admin department photo, ryan and i were left alone in a small space on the dance floor encircled by hundreds of my fellow staff and thousands of festival patrons. (the view behind us looked something like this…)

he had changed out of his filthy work clothes and put on a nice button down aloha shirt. he dropped to one knee and held out a ring. 

holy. shit.

my hands went straight over my mouth as shock and awe overtook my body. it is hard to surprise me (especially when we have discussed marriage and i knew it was coming), but he did. 

it was too loud to hear over the audience’s cheers, but i think ryan did actually ask me to marry him at some point, and i am pretty sure i said yes.

our friends from hawaii adorned us with a handmade lei and flower crown, and the operations crew gifted us with champagne to uncork over the crowd.

manoj’s dj set began and the endless group hugs turned into joyous dancing. what a perfect sunday afternoon.

and all this time, i had no idea that i was planning my own proposal. that my boss and boyfriend were scheming to make me the center of attention. that thousands of patrons would high five us the rest of the weekend. that my engagement party would have 3,000 people.

apparently some people are allowed to stop everything for a declaration of love in the middle of the dance floor at beloved festival, and i am deeply grateful to be one of those people. thanks elliot. (i am also grateful that my gals made me take off my leggings in preparation for photos that will be shared forever.)

thank you to everyone who made it happen. to everyone who kept it a secret. and to everyone who continually supports us in our relationship and in our love. 

it is not easy living a love that involves friends and families and jobs and homes across two different countries that are separated by a giant ocean, but we have done it. we will continue to do it. and it is absolutely worth it.

we love you. we love each other. now let’s plan a wedding… or two…

*****

p.s. i am sure i left out a few amazing details that ryan will alert me to after reading this. i’ll be sure to edit if he feels i left out anything absolutely essential. he always seems to think i do…

p.p.s. if you’re one of those people who is just dying to see the ring, here is the beautiful one that ryan slid on my finger at the festival.

however, he knew that i have dreamt of a custom ring designed by my friend rosemary for quite some time. so, this is not the forever ring. we will be going through her amazing love story custom ring creation process soon to craft a one-of-a-kind symbol of our relationship. check her out if you’re in the market for jewelry.

 

 

one month of finding balance.

two full months on the road based out of our van, moby clit. aptly named by my auntie because ryan insisted that our big white van was not big enough to be called moby dick. plus all cars are ladies right? you can call her moby or mc for short.

month one…

our first destination was red rock canyon national conservation area, just outside of las vegas and part of nevada’s mojave desert. we spent three weeks there hanging with a gang of lovable canadians. it was a gentle ease into van life with such a major city only a 15-minute drive down the road. with friends for ryan to climb with, it also allowed me to keep up my full time job and not feel guilty that he had no one to belay him.

that is one thing that i am realizing about van life, it is hard to keep up on all the work i have to do. before when i was on the road, i had multiple clients who only expected a few hours of my time each week. but now, i have one main employer who expects 40 hours of my time each week. so just like everyone else working the 9-5 grind, i am basically a weekend warrior. i might switch out a tuesday for a saturday, but i pretty much only climb three days a week. and i’m sure ryan is getting over the fact that we need to wake up at 7am and find cell service for a couple hours before we head up the rock and off the grid.

but welcome to real van life. it is not all play, but it is worth it.

it is worth it to experience things like the stark juxtaposition between city and nature. las vegas is a weird town to begin with, but when you seclude yourself amongst the rocks for several days and then saunter into a casino covered in sweat and dirt, you really feel out of place. we treated ourselves to one night in old las vegas, but otherwise, we tried to stay out in the wilderness.

since this was our first destination, we had to get back into the swing of climbing. our fingertips needed to turn red and raw before callousing. our forearms needed to tire out entirely. our calves and gluts needed to get used to the long, uphill approach hikes. our minds needed to reacquaint themselves with the innate risk that comes with climbing.

but eventually, our bodies adjusted. our brains adjusted. and our way of life adjusted.

we spent our days climbing the red rock and our nights playing cards or sitting around the fire. and on rest days, we filled our bellies with cheap mexican and unlimited wifi. it was wonderful.

then, the clouds rolled in and the thunder roared. it was time to move… the climbing life is always dictated by the weather.

the whole group relocated to one of my favorite small towns in california, bishop. it is at the foot of the sierra nevadas and near mammoth lakes. although most people go there for the bouldering, we found ourselves hanging out on the beautiful granite cliffs of pine creek canyon.

i had to remember how to trust my feet on tiny granite crystals. i had to remember how this magical rock could be sticky and slippery all at once. i had to remember how to crack climb. (i had to do this in red rock as well.) and i had to remember why i love to climb.

it is easy to be unmotivated when you live on the road. since there are no time constraints, there is no pressure to cram it all in. leisurely mornings (sometimes too leisurely) have become our standard. we’re lucky if we have put on our harnesses by noon. some days, i am all for this, but other days, i wish i could find a little drive. a little more excitement to conquer the rock.

“wherever you are, be all there.” – jim elliot

this quote is on an old tea bag tag taped to the back of my phone. so far, i am finding it hard to heed these words on the road. when i am on the cliff, i am worried about missing important emails. when i am staring at my computer, i am worried about missing epic climbs.

but, there are moments where it all comes into balance. even if it is just that one minute where i am at the top of a climb looking out over the canyon below with my best friend by my side realizing how lucky i truly am. or that one minute where i am sitting in bed catching up on emails next to a campfire realizing this is an amazing life i lead.

but back to bishop…

aside from the amazing rock climbing that is in and around bishop, the town is one that we could see ourselves spending a bit more time in. it is close to skiing, climbing, hiking, hot springs, and lots more. it is four hours to los angeles and las vegas, give or take. now if only the ocean were a little closer and had good surf, i don’t think ryan would ever leave…

before heading north to catch my mom in san francisco for mother’s day and visit my aunties, we celebrated a friend’s birthday at whitney portal.

wow. what a stunning area. with views of mt. whitney, unique rock formations in the alabama hills, and gorgeous pine trees lining the bottom of giant granite walls, this detour was well worth it. and so was the taco truck and pub in lone pine, population 2,035.

now if only i had starred in one of the hundreds of movies filmed in this area

coming up in month two: san diego, joshua tree, and yosemite

van life: red rock canyon (video tour)

we left portland at 9pm on thursday, april 12th with red rock canyon, las vegas, nevada set in our google maps. we were so excited to hit the road and sleep our first night in the van, that we didn’t even care that we would only drive about three hours before needing to pull over and go to sleep. so excited, that we totally didn’t even think about the fact that the pass over mt. hood might have snow… which it did.

despite the chain requirement warning, we slowly pushed through the pass and safely found our way to the redmond, oregon wal-mart, our first home away from home.

it was freezing. we didn’t think about the whole snow thing at all. we curled up close in our new cozy bed, too lazy to unpack our extra sleeping bags.

in the morning, we woke up and hit the road again. i worked for 10 hours while ryan drove for 10 hours. and then, we arrived in vegas. our first climbing destination.

we met up with some friends who were in town from hawaii and were treated to a true las vegas luxury dinner (from a famous chef that i can’t remember the name of) after a full day of exploring red rock canyon state park. it was so great to share our home with some good company. plenty of space for four… thanks nate and nancy!

after a few days of climbing and a few nights camped out in a casino parking lot, we met up with some other friends and moved out to campsite closer to the canyon.

it’s been almost two weeks since we landed in vegas and since we moved in our new van life. these first couple weeks have been full of learning. learning what works, learning what doesn’t, learning what we’re missing, and learning what we love.

life is pretty great. i am so proud of ryan and the home he has built us. it is cozy and has everything we need for the life we love to live. it is a blessing to wake up every day and look around at the beautiful creativity of my partner. thank you ryan.

and now, what you’ve all been waiting for… a super awkward video tour of the final product!

beginning van life: week 8-10

so it turns out that ryan isn’t great at documenting a van build… since i was working full time (and overtime) while we were stationed in portland for the past two months, i could not help get footage of the amazing process ryan underwent to produce our new home.

since my last blog post, we have completed the van!!!

it took about 4-5 weeks of full time work, and i am still totaling the expenses, but probably around $8,000 for everything including the vehicle. more details on expense breakdown to come soon.

in the final weeks of the van build, a lot of things came together…

ryan framed the kitchen and modified a piece of bamboo donated by my boss for the counter top and pull out table/desk.

he built out the cupboards and drawers. complete with soft close hinges! and then, he gave them all a couple coats of oil to protect the wood and make the grain pop. our van is majorly cedar, including these beautiful cupboards.

 

as everything came together, some of the last details were finished up. we added a vent fan over the bed to draw air from the front windows throwout the van, and ryan finished up all the electrical.

the sink was custom made from a bowl to minimize depth and allow space for our pull out table/desk.

 

and then there was the one thing that i contributed to the van… the curtains. i will admit that i cannot even take full credit for them since a friend of mine did assist with the sewing. thanks elana!

and then, we unpacked our storage unit into the van and moved in…

now, to hit the road…

beginning van life: week 1-7

the number one question from everyone these days has been, “how’s the van coming?” so, i guess it is finally time to do our first update on the pending #vanlife chapter of our lives.

it has been seven weeks since we arrived in portland, and we have been super busy. ryan thought he would have all the free time in the world while on a break from work, but he was very wrong.

our first three weeks here were pretty mellow. lots of craigslist searching and alert setting, checking out various vans, and daydreaming about creating our new home. since ryan was not working full time like me, there was also a lot of boredom and anxiety to get started on this next adventure. that boy does not like to sit still for more than a day or two at a time…

we joined a climbing gym in portland, which gave him something to do while we continued to scour the internet for our perfect van. we needed to get back in shape anyways. our forearms and fingertips were definitely not up to climbing road trip status. but, after seven weeks, they are starting to get there.

after about two weeks, an alert popped up in my inbox: 2004 chevy express 2500, 164,000 miles. i forwarded the info to ryan, and he went to suss out if this could be our glass slipper.

turns out that it was. but it also turned into a hilarious example of a craigslist fiasco…

after getting the van home and getting ready to register it, we realized that we had the wrong title. what?! for the next several hours, my brain thought about every possible scenario. was this a stolen van? did we just get swindled? it turns out the answer was no. we bought the van off an electrical company that was selling off a couple vans from their fleet; we just had another van’s title.

during this time, ryan also realized that the transmission could use a little work. lucky for us, the owner had to meet us to exchange the titles. when we picked up the new title, we learned that the vehicle we had purchased was actually a 2003, not a 2004.

this was used to our advantage as i tapped into my schneider debate skills and negotiated a partial refund due to the less than perfect transmission and older than expected vehicle. threatening legal action (without actually knowing anything about the laws surrounding craigslist purchases and bill of sale stipulations), we got them to agree to a partial refund.

with the actual title now in hand, we registered the van in our name and dropped it off at the transmission shop for a makeover while we headed down to lake tahoe for a little snowboarding fun with friends for week four.

we returned to portland in early march, and ryan got straight to work. he joined a community workshop space, so he had access to all the tools he would need. and now what you’ve all been waiting for…

week five:

  • removing the stickers from the outside
  • stripping the inside of shelving and cage divider
  • insulating the walls and floor
  • sanding the wood wall panels
  • waterproofing the wood wall panels (the only thing i have done to contribute thus far)
  • starting to install wood wall panels

 

 

 

week six:

after endless hours researching and unsuccessfully finding a van bubble topper for a decent rate and reasonable turnaround time, we abandoned the idea of adding a higher roof onto our van. at least for now. standing up in the van is definitely a very exciting luxury, but in an effort to save time and money, this part of our plan has been postponed.

  • finishing installation of all wood wall paneling
  • insulating the roof
  • installing wood ceiling boards
  • wiring the van for our ceiling lighting and mood lighting
  • online research and ordering of parts

week seven:

  • installing LED mood lighting
  • prepping holes for ceiling lights
  • building bed frame
  • oiling wood wall panels “to make the grain pop”
  • designing (and arguing about) under the bed storage compartments
  • designing and planning out the kitchen
  • more online research and ordering of parts

and there you have it! three weeks of hard work and ryan has already created an amazing new home for us. i can’t wait to see what else he has in store for _______! (we are taking name suggestions. “rowdy” has been suggested as a throwback to the previous owner’s company “gowdy electric” but we’re still open to ideas…)

mahalo.

with the amount of adventures we’ve undertaken in the past two years, you’d think that my blog would be filled with endless entries. but since we moved to hawaii at the beginning of february 2016, the weekly excursions never found their way to the page. and now that we are gone, i feel like i have so many stories to tell. as i scroll through my hawaii folder of photos, i am overwhelmed by this life we live and the love that follows us wherever we go.

what started as a way for ryan and me to live together in the same place for more than three months at a time, has ended with a place we will always call home.

our last weekend was filled with socializing and saying goodbye for now to the wonderful friends we have created over the past two years.

the friends who slacklined with us until the sun set over waikiki beach. the friends who hosted “sunday suppers” complete with homemade pizza, sushi, and other utterly messy food creations. the friends who made absurd mock reality tv show intro videos. the friends who are smart enough to get us out of an escape room in under an hour.

the friends who taught us how sharp volcanic rock is and tried to turn us into boulderers. the friends who almost swigged a bottle of tequila full of dead fruit flies. the friends who made me feel extremely tall and pale and loved. the friends who supported and amplified my rockstar karaoke dreams.

the friends who saved me from drowning at rockpiles when my surfboard leash broke. the friends who know the seriousness of spike ball. the friends who love taking massive group photos touching each other’s butts. the friends who know how to light up a dance floor (even in costumes). the friends who know how to reap the benefits of a fishing trip.

the friends who lived across the pond. the friends who fed us way too much european wine and delicious food. the friends who embraced the full moon’s excitement. the friends who took us to hidden tide pools and unpopulated waterfalls.

and of course, the friends who started as family. ❤

yes, hawaii is awesome. yes, we did a lot of epic shit. no, i didn’t lay on the beach everyday. no, i don’t have a killer tan. but, yes, we have made some amazing friendships on these little islands in the middle of the pacific. and yes, i now own an obscene amount of bikinis and rashguards.

for now, that is all. but don’t worry, i am sure as the nostalgia sets in even harder, our stories of hawaii will come to fruition, and we can relive the memories together. mahalo.

30 days of gratitude: day 19 – sue

day 19

while living in grand rapids, michigan, i was introduced to this crazy woman and instantly fell head over heels. every young woman needs a mentor, and every mentor needs a young woman. the two of us have been unstoppable ever since.

i am grateful…

  1. that the wilsons thought we should meet each other
  2. for attic chats and brainstorming sessions on how to conquer the world
  3. for every healthy and delicious meal you and roger have prepared for me
  4. for your nut yogurt (so damn good)
  5. that roger has never forced me to try his pepper powder collection
  6. and for the joy it brings me when ryan accidentally sprinkles too much of roger’s pepper on his meal
  7. that i know i always have an adorable old farmhouse to call home when i’m in grand rapids
  8. for your motherly advice
  9. and your unmotherly advice
  10. for the amazing, boundary-pushing literature you’ve created for youth covering topics like artificially insemination and incarceration
  11. that you potentially come up with more crazy ideas than i do
  12. that i tagged along for the 300-mile bike ride from grand rapids to chicago to share tillie anderson’s story with hundreds of youth
  13. for your encouragement of my writing and interest in youth
  14. that i have a twin a few decades older than me to lead me through life
  15. that you are unafraid to tackle difficult issues in our society
  16. for every hug
  17. and every tear
  18. for your continued investment in my career development
  19. for teaching me that it’s okay to not have everything figured out
  20. for roger’s secret comedic side
  21. to have your marriage as an example
  22. for sipping mocktails in the sunshine in your epically beautiful yard and garden
  23. that you’re someone i know i can say absolutely anything to, with no filter
  24. that i’m your chosen daughter (is that the name we landed on?)
  25. for supper clubs and your continual creation of community
  26. that you ride alongside me on our emotional rollercoasters
  27. for your reminders to be kind to myself
  28. for your love and care of german shepherds (and all animals)
  29. for the handmade greeting cards you send my way
  30. that i have such a fierce, unstoppable, ever-changing female role model to look up to and share my life with

30 days of gratitude: day 18 – the grants

day 18

dear grants,

what a blessing it has been to get to know each of you more and more over the past four years. when you find someone you love, you’re not always guaranteed to love their family, but you are all amazing! i cannot wait to continue to grow my relationship with each of you, and potentially become an “official” grant one day. (no pressure ryan.)

i am grateful…

  1. for the time i completely fell off of my bike, skinned my elbow and knee, and had a super wet bum the first time i met steph and dale (and they still accepted me)
  2. to have witnessed the amazing transformation/renovation of the tugan units (wish ryan had gone in on that one…)
  3. for our first hawaiian new year’s eve celebration at the outrigger club, especially our on-stage dance routine and seeing travis hungover for the first time in my life
  4. for the first several months, where i didn’t get that everything out of gordon’s mouth is leading to a punchline (boom, boom)
  5. and for the endless amount of bad “dad jokes” that i now know (i might regret saying i’m grateful for this…)
  6. for heather’s deep love for her three wonderful sons and her adopted daughters
  7. for the time dale let me beat him wrestling, only after informing me he was going to kill me
  8. that steph and dale let us crash their mini-moon and adventure on fraser island with them
  9. and that steph was there to save my life as the spa jets sucked my hair into them (no thanks to ryan)
  10. for that time i tried to keep up with the boys in darwin and drunk dialed dale to tell him i liked him better than ryan (i still do dale)
  11. for the endless similarities in every grant boy and their unique differences
  12. for the two years we’ve spent in hawaii and the time growing closer to travis and blair
  13. for heather’s anzac cookies, perfectly timed cups of tea, and loving hugs
  14. for steph’s signature dance move, intense hatred of horses, and extreme love of dogs
  15. that both grant brothers married such amazingly beautiful, strong, smart, and supportive women that i hope to call my sister-in-laws (aka SILlies) one day (including carly)
  16. that i now know that travis is entertained by literally anything and thinks the smallest things are absolutely hilarious
  17. for steph and blair’s understanding of what it means to date a grant
  18. that blair was the first american to steal a grant (made it a little easier for me to do the same)
  19. for getting to spend the first year of hugo’s life by his side and ensuring he likes to dance
  20. for all the boys’ lively, carefree, simple, fun, and hands-on approach to life
  21. for all the amazing accomplishments that have landed each of you the “best grant award”
  22. for gordon’s delicious brekkies and seafood cook ups on the barbeque
  23. for the amazing friends of all of the grants (seriously, what a fun crew!)
  24. for room beers and slope adventures in niseko with steph, dale, and that awesome crew
  25. that there is another baby grant to call me auntie on the way (fingers crossed for a girl)
  26. for that time gordon couldn’t process that my mom doesn’t drink, “are you sure i can’t get you a wine sherry?”
  27. that i know i have a home in australia and a home in hawaii no matter where we are
  28. for every time that all the grants get to reunite in one place, even if only for a few days
  29. for the fact that heather and gordon were in the circus back in the day (like for real, best story ever)
  30. that my someday in-laws are all people that i love, respect, and adore