Sunday, January 2, 2011

Go West, and Grow Up With the Country

At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 1, 2011, Aerosvit Airlines Flight 131 touched down on the JFK tarmac.  After 313 days for me, 365 days for Davo, we were back in the U.S.A.

I've been back for 36 hours.  I'm adjusting ok.  I washed my clothing in a washing machine and dried it in a dryer.  For the first time in months, my clothes felt clean, like really clean, and the colors are brighter.  If you wear the same clothes for a year, you'll know what I mean.  I've enjoyed drinking water from the tap.  I could do that in Israel, and even in Turkey, but the water tastes better here.  In fact, I'm going to get a glass of water right now.  The first time I plugged in my computer, I wondered which plug adapter I should use and decided on my universal adapter, but then I realized that I don't need a plug adapter anymore.  That was silly.

It's no secret that I didn't want to come back.  The world is big and beautiful, and I want to be a part of it, everywhere, all the time.  I've learned what types of experiences are fulfilling to me, which types of places I love, and I know how to spot the open, warm, wise faces of people who are my future friends.  If I could take off again, oh! the adventures I would have...

But here I am.  And I'm ok with that.  I've been singing a little song in my head, quietly reminding myself
"Don't give the sellers of stuff
power enough
to rob you of your grace--
Love is all over the place."

So what's next?  Where will I go, what will I do?

Well, it's become abundantly clear that Davo and I are not "desk job" people.  In retrospect, I'm surprised I survived at a desk for as long as I did, though in retrospect, I was awfully depressed at times.  Dave?  At a desk?  Wearing a collared shirt?  I'd eat a maggot before I'd believe it (apologies to people who eat maggots).

I don't remember which of us said it first, nor when it was said, but at some point our gentle jokes about "Well, we can always be farmers, har har har" stopped being facetious and started being real.  All we need, all we want, is a small piece of land where we could grow our own food, generate our own energy, find our creativity, and generally live our lives away from televisions screaming buybuybuy.  Is a homestead the idyllic dream of naive kids from the 'burbs?  Well, was an open-ended wander around the world an idyllic dream of cubical rats?  Who's afraid to live their dreams?

Changing subjects.  I met an Iranian in Nepal.  After making me eat almonds and raisins out of small burlap drawstring bags with red Arabic letters (yes, Iranians will carry almonds and raisins to 16,000 feet), after taking photographs together with his friends on multiple cameras (man, Iranians are friendly), he proceeded to give me advice on which canyons I should visit in the western United States.  Despite our governments' mutual loathing of each other, the Iranian had obtained multiple visas to my country and had seen three, four, ten times as much of it as had I.  I was slightly embarrassed.

I would have talked more with the Iranian, but Dave started vomiting blood, so we needed to excuse ourselves.  But it got me thinking--I've seen a little bit of the world, but I haven't seen much of my own country, the place that everyone and their brother loves and loves to hate.  Through and through, I'm American, a Yankee girl.  What if I explored the U.S.A?  What would I find?

And so the idea was born.  An epic road trip across North America, combining apprentice work on organic farms with hikes through the monumental National Parks system.

Davo and I have talked in circles about 2011.  Would he thru-hike the AT while I went to Argentina?  Would we both go to Mexico?  Would he stay in New York to play Ultimate while I went to British Columbia to plant trees?  Would we head west, together, again, this time on the Epic North American Road Trip of 2011?

Ok, ok, I'll get to the point.  As of 6:46 a.m. on Sunday, January 2, 2011, the probabilities of the known possibilities are as follows:
--Epic North American Road Trip of 2011:  95% and trending upward
--We both go to Latin America:  2%
--I go to Latin America, Dave thru-hikes and plays frisbee:  2%
--We "grow up" and get jobs:  0% and trending downward
*Probabilities do not sum to 100% due to rounding.  Haha.

So there it is, Mummers.  You've been asking what the hell I'm doing in 2011, and now you know.  We're packing the car with our work gloves and our hiking boots and we're heading west.

If you're reading this, and you know farmers who use organic/ permaculture/ biodynamic methods, especially in the northern States, drop me a line.
If you're reading this, and you live somewhere in North America, and you would enjoy a visit from two vagabonds, drop me a line.
If you're reading this, and you've got suggestions on which National Parks we should visit (all of them?), drop me a line.

Onward and upward!  :-)


  1. Hey you - I used to belong to the Caretaker Gazette; a publication that matches caretakers with caretaking opportunities all around the world. The people seeking caretakers range from wealthy business people in search of gardeners and housekeeepers for their third home in Hawaii to organic avocado farmers in search of farm workers in exchange for room and board. I haven't been able to afford a subscription lately, but you can check out Caretaker Gazette online and see if it's something that might connect you and Dave with opportunities that meet your desires...just a thought.


  2. Oh! Do you like caves? If you do, you may want to try and get down to Carlsbad Caverns, in New Mexico! They've got above-ground hiking and below-ground caving, including some really tough trails (I guess that's what you call them? I'm not a caver, if you couldn't already guess). Here's the website:

    Or there's the Petroglyphs:

    Or Chaco Canyon! They're rebuilding the visitor center and it won't be complete until November, but you can still go and look at stuff. Website:

    There's more to do in New Mexico, too! See:

  3. Caretaker Gazette? Hadn't heard of it! I wonder how many more of these opportunities are out there... thanks for the tip.

    Anastasia, are you from New Mexico by any chance?! LOL! My dear cousin went to Carlsbad on her cross-country road trip, and she said it was amazing. Adding it to my list now. :-)

  4. I have taken so many property caretaking assignments via - I'm glad to see it suggested here! Marilyn

  5. Same!!! Nico Nico I love it! We'll be in SD, so please stop by when you're anywhere close.

    Maybe we can set up our small farms next to each other :).

  6. South Dakota is now officially on the list. Let's go hiking in the Badlands ;-)