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The Old IN and OUT

I’m talking about schlepping.  That’s what the mobile life is ultimately all about.  We’ve been rolling stones since late 2008 after the birth of our youngest, Charley, who just celebrated her third birthday.  Even when we live on the boat in the Sea of Cortez we are still mobile,  sailing around the Sea and down the Baja. In the past three years I think the longest time we have spent in any one place was just recently in Maryland where we put the kids in preschool for about 6 weeks so Hil could recuperate from her back injuries.

The scenery may change but the routine is the same.  We move the bags, toys, food, instruments IN every time we land somewhere (even for a few days) and then we move the bags, toys, food, instruments, and accumulated junk OUT when we leave and head down the road to our next temporary abode.  I admit,it does get old.  I’m constantly harping to lighten our load mainly because I’m the one that schlepps back and forth. Hil is equally tired of repacking the bags eighty zillion times.
The truth is, it’s a losing battle.  As the our little girls get older, I was recently made to understand, their associated ‘stuff’ gets multiplied almost in direct proportion to their sassiness and attitude.  I’m pretty much a minimalist.  Being the good sailor, I can wear the same pair of shorts until they disintegrate off my body (much to the chagrin of my wife).  Thusly, my wardrobe is pretty sparse in comparison to the three other females in my life.  On a positive note, I do get a fair amount of exercise with the endless trips back and forth to the car.

Maybe I can curb the tide with technology.  iPad books, games, toys, movies, can replace the massive square footage required for the real deal, but Mom is not too crazy about raising the kids on artificial ingredients.  She likes the feel of turning the pages to our favorite Dr. Seuss book while reading to the kids and the plushness of all the baby dolls and stuffed animals around the boat. Admittedly, it would feel sterile without the indicators of wee ones stickered all over the boat.  Besides, by now, there’s so many ‘Hello Kitty’ stickers on the boat it’s probably a structural component.

We do have the bi-annual routine of completely clearing out the boat and the van before we move aboard and whittling away some of the older, out grown items to donate them to the local orphanage in Mexico.  Hell, sometimes we drag the hand-me-downs thousands of miles to Mexico before we offload the items to a worthy cause.  It’s a nice way to teach the kids there are always others in a far worse situation AND the value of sacrifice.  On a less charitable note, it also gets the stuff off my boat.

We’re packing up once again.  Tomorrow we hit the road over the hills and through the woods to Darby, Montana.  We’ve had rain/snow here in Jackson for the last two days.  The Jackson ski resort opened yesterday and the tire chain law has been in effect for the Jackson pass.  We’ll drive both the 1995 Toyota Landcruiser (all wheel drive) and the 2004 Dodge Sprinter (not all wheel drive) around the pass to Apline, Wyoming then onto Idaho Falls, Idaho where we’ll off load all the work related, boat related, summer related stuff into the trailers we have stored before continuing on to Darby, Montana with, hopefully, only the necessary items for our longest stay in one place yet- two months!

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We’ve loaded up with yet more stuff at the second hand and consignment stores to equip our fair weather family with adequate and affordable if not necessarily the most fashionable winter gear to enjoy the white stuff from up yonder skies.  From past experience, there is nothing worse than not having the right winter clothing and freezing your piggy wiggies off to deter your enthusiasm for such a wonderful seasonal shift.  Everyone now has snow boots, jackets, pants, bibs, gaitors, long underwear, ski helmets, goggles, and gloves in anticipation of all the  snow angels, sno-ball fights, sledding wipe-outs, knee deep hikes, and general day to day mucking about.  I found our two snowboards, boots, and helmets that have been stored here for at least 7 years since the last time we used the gear.  Still looks fine to me for all the daredevil face plants I’ll probably encounter.

Ultimately, the schlepping is still worth the adventure.  At 37, after a career gone bust, I came to the conclusion that life was just passing by WAY TO FAST.  Here I was married with a newborn child, broke after spending over a decade building a business that was gone in a year.  Certainly in 2008 I was not alone as our country faced the worst economic recession since the great depression.  But there were so many things I wanted to experience.  I wanted to live on a boat.  I want to spend the winter skiing/snowboarding.  I wanted to travel and explore new communities and cultures.  As a result, the break from one life to the next became quite easy.  The ensuing consequences required, you guessed it, a lot of schlepping.

Consider the opposite of schlepping.  The multi-decade accumulation that fills closets, attics, basements, garage, and storage units never to see the light of day again. Residential black holes!  Having gone through two of these ‘reductions’, my biggest fear now is material accumulation.  I’ll take the forced lightness of material objects contained by small, mobile spaces and the consequential schlepping over the ease and comfort of a permanent abode that you can’t really leave like a really long tether on a ball and chain.  Some people like to lay roots like an oak but that just is not our family.

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