Monday, November 26, 2012

T-minus 4 days!

Preparations are nearly complete.  Historic Route 66 Tour begins in 4 days!  The Jeep has been gone over thoroughly and is in (seemingly) fine running condition, supplies have been gathered, lists have been made.  We will be traveling the route backwards, from West to East, and will be taking 16+ days to do it.  Stops along the trip will include Moab, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Santa Monica Pier, and anything else that may catch our interest or our eye. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Progress and ideas

Since the decision to run Route 66, I'd been scouring the internet for ideas to pad the back of the Jeep for more comfortable sleeping.  I looked at workout mats, camping mats, and different types of foam padding... both new and used.  In my search earlier this week I found a king sized, 3" thick memory foam mattress pad on Craigslist.  I went to investigate, as I was seeing a lot of ads online for memory foam that usually ended up being cheap Wal-mart foam.  But fortunately, this was the real deal, the genuine article.  I got it home, lugged it in the house (stuff is heavy!), and spent the next hour or so cutting it down.  Once finished, I discovered that not only did I have a great 1-piece section to cover the area in the back of the Jeep... but I also had enough larger scrap pieces to create a 2nd layer!  Lucky us - now we have a 6" thick memory foam mattress for our journey!  Looks to be quite cozy!

In my daydreams of the ensuing trip, I've been formulating different ways of documenting our travels and experiences.  Obviously there's photos... duh!  It's what I do.  But, being that I've always enjoyed writing... I'm starting to think that it may be worthwhile to record our travel with a journalistic approach as well.  Writing to document the happenings of the trip... not only for us to look back on... but also with the possibility of submitting it to various travel resources after we return.  Can't hurt, right?  It's practice.  It's exposure.  It's something else for the portfolio. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Historic Route 66 Holiday!

We had plans to run the Maya Rally ( next month, but with too much procrastination on our part, not enough time for passport, and added costs, we're no longer going.

With Aaron having 2+ weeks of use-it-or-lose-it vacation time left, we've opted for another plan. We're going to re-create the trip he ran in one of his Astro vans a couple years ago... and take our time doing it. We've decided to take the first couple of weeks in December to run the length of Route 66, starting from the west and working our way back to Chicago.

We're taking the Liberty this time. From what he tells me, some of the original alignments of the historic route can be quite rough and not very road-vehicle friendly these days, so the 4wd may come in handy. We'll be camping in-vehicle (with lots of extra covers in anticipation of the cold weather). We don't plan to have any specific schedule to follow... only that we want to leave on Nov. 30th and need to be back by Dec. 16th. Everything else will be pretty free-form.

The few things are are on this loosely-based agenda... a stop in Vegas on the way out (I've never been), a drive down into the Grand Canyon, and a visit to a friend in New Mexico.

We've got a little under 3 weeks before we leave. The jeep is pretty much ready to go tomorrow... but I'm looking for some higher density foam padding to put down in the back to make sleeping a little more comfortable (no air mattresses in the cold weather, please), and a couple of other little odds and ends.

I haven't been southwest in many, many moons... since my early teens. Looking forward to the road trip, the photo ops, and the experience.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Words of thanks

I read daily on Facebook and other social media sites in which I subscribe to, the statuses of family and friends who describe an item for each day which they are thankful in November.  I think this is a great thing for some people to help put into perspective the things that hold value in their lives.  Sometimes we forget, and sometimes we take too much for granted.  It’s good to reflect on these things.

I’ve spent the better part of the last day or so archiving old images that have lived in my desktop/external hard drive since early in 2011. I have a couple of new projects and organizational ideas in the wings, and decided that it’s better to clear things out now and start fresh.  In going through old photos, I’ve found that it’s rather cool to compare where I was, nearly 2 years ago, to where I am today.  Oh, how the improvement shines through!

It has really been a combination of these two things… other peoples’ statuses and my own photo archival process… that has put me in the reflection mode today.  

I used to simply exist day to day.  Sure, I had family and friends and work and dance and all that… but life weighed me down.  I was in the dreaded rut that we all worry about getting stuck in.  I worried too much about silly things.  I was afraid to tell people how I felt without fear of consequence (which of course prevented me from saying anything).  A few years back, I went through a really bad spot… one that made me re-evaluate a lot of things.  Relationships.  Friendships.  Family ties.  Job.  All of it.  I decided at that point that I wasn’t going to hide behind fear anymore (or at least, try not to).  

I began by clearing the air.  Certain things that I needed to say to my family were finally said after 12+ years – to my parents, my husband, and others.  It kept life and moods rough for a while, but we all worked through the issues, and are now much, much better for it.  Voicing my thoughts and feelings at that time was one of the better decisions I had made in my adult life.  I believe it was the choice to keep things honest and true that launched me into life as I know it now.  No regrets.

Next I decided that I needed to get away from a job, a “career” that I found no joy in.  All I’d done since high school was customer service and sales type jobs.  I’d tried the same role in different industries, only to find that it wasn’t working.  What’s the line about being crazy to try the same things and expect different results…?  Yeah, that.  I dreaded the thought of being stuck in that same scenario for the rest of my life.  I had lost my happy, and wasn’t able to reclaim it.  I knew I needed to get out and start fresh, doing something else entirely.

Being as supportive as he typically is, Aaron launched me in the search for volunteer work… somewhere away from home, somewhere where I had the opportunity to explore a little.  Next thing I know, I’m in Alaska… meeting the amazing Wood family in Ester, and getting to meet Rachel near Anchorage, and the Harness’ family out in Homer… and all of their friends and family in between. And, wow… just WOW!  The kindness they showed, and their willingness to welcome me into their lives and into their homes… overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe.  I truly do hope I have found friends for life, as I feel so very fortunate to have spent time with each and every one of them this year!  

Upon my return, and with the same determination avoid the “same old job” as I’d left back in April, I came across Lifetouch.  Yes, it was in the photography field… but not entirely what I wanted it to be when I first read about it.  It paid lower that what I made at the horrible other job… so I planned on passing it up.  Aaron, again, made me look a little closer at the possibilities.  Sure, it paid lower but we were doing okay financially and could afford to take cut.  It would teach me about portraiture – lighting, posing, etc… something that I lacked in my everyday photography practice.  It was full-time seasonal… meaning that I would (eventually) have time to work on my own freelance side of things.  It would keep me on the move – different school almost every day, working with different photographers almost every day (with more networking possibilities).  I ended up interviewing, and they picked me up the very next day.  Now, here I am 4 months later… and I love it still.  There are challenges, but even when I’ve had a ‘bad’ day… it’s never really a bad day.   

And, my freelance photography has picked up some too!  Certainly not enough sales to even begin thinking about it as a solo career… but I’m finally on the right path.  

I guess this is proof that you can change your life… even just a little bit at a time.  In 3 or 4 short years, I’ve gone from existing day to day to being generally jazzed about everything that I’m doing.  My future looks a little brighter, I’m looking forward to what’s on this path in front of me (and enjoying the ride along the way), and my relationships have gotten stronger.  My happy has been restored!

So here’s my list:  I’m really thankful for Aaron – for pushing me in the right directions at the right times, and for always being ever so supportive of all these wild and crazy endeavors.  For both sides of the family – for taking this crazy ride with me.  Although I’m sure they are often reluctant to support my ideas and plans, I think they may finally realize that after 35+ years, I’m probably always just going to do my own thing anyway.  My couple of close friends for so many things:  for being awesome sounding boards for ideas – and always playing the role of devil’s advocate to make me think alternately and really look at the entire big picture ahead of time.  For watching over the house and the pets as we go gallivanting across the country.  For generally being accessible – you guys are the best!   And for other friends… for taking me in, for your kindness, offering your friendship, your help, and your support – mad props to you all!  ;)  

I don’t think there are enough days in November in which to be thankful.  And just think… what you finished reading is simply the icing on the cake, the tip of the iceberg, and really only just the beginning.  :D