1. HAWAIIAN DREAM
For over ten years, me and my hubby Dana have lived the Hawaiian dream. The first three years on the sleepy and relaxed island of Maui, then relocating to the hustle and bustle of the “big city” of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.
We love Hawai’i, with all its rich history, breathtaking scenery around every corner, delicious food, the warm and friendly people. We felt right at home, especially as we moved to the east corner of the island, to the neighborhood called Hawaii Kai.
We had great jobs – Dana was running his own business in tax and financial management and I worked as a state employee, working for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. It was a job I will cherish and think about fondly for the rest of my life. The work itself was not always glamorous or exciting, but what it lacked in heart pumping action, it gave in heaps in feeling fulfilled and truly “at home” with the people I worked with. Anyone could call themselves lucky working with a group of people like that, and I will never forget the kindness, support and friendship that I have been given there.
It’s been a great life, well, almost.
Twice a year, me and my hubby would pack our bags and embark on a journey across the ocean. Sometimes across both oceans, because every other year we would fly all the way to Europe.
Our trips were, for the lack of any other or better word, epic.
Flying to the ‘mainland’ of the United States, we would venture on road trips of great proportions. In Europe, we would spend our time in multiple countries. We would travel by bus, by train, by boat, by plane, by car…..anything that moved and propelled us to the next destination, short of a bicycle or a motorcycle, we have taken it.
And then we would come home, full of adventures, our senses still overloaded with all the sounds, smells, tastes and visuals, our minds whip-lashed and our bodies jet-lagged.
Even as bone tired as we were, even with the mounds of laundry, unopened mail and an empty refrigerator waiting for us, we knew it was well worth it, already thinking of the next trip we would love to take.
And each time we would come back home, to our beautiful island and our lovely home with an insane view of one of the canals of Hawaii Kai in front of our window and the imposing mountain of Koko Head in the background, we shared the same thought. We wished the vacation was a bit longer, or that we didn’t have to come back at all.
Don’t get me wrong, we cherished the life in Hawai’i and in one way or another, Hawai’i will always be part of us. Our best and our worst memories will forever be linked with the islands, it gave us so much, but also took quite a bit in return. Like a tide of the ocean, forever bringing treasures to the shore, but also taking some of those back into its depths.
2. KICKING THE IDEA AROUND
We have been kicking around the idea of full time traveling for a while, but for a long time, it was just that. First a wishful thinking, a far-reaching dream, just a lovely thought without any concrete shape in mind.
Then we started coming up with ideas how this dream could be achieved in reality. RV-ing and the van life movement was on the rise, so the thought of buying an RV and hitting the road was more than tempting.
But with that thought came a myriad of other thoughts and questions. Unsurprisingly, the same thoughts that most people have, that want to hit the road or RV full time, such as:
1. How will we be able to support ourselves on the road and pay for it all (which is definitely a number one priority for anyone, not just on the road, but also wanting to change countries, cities etc.)?
2. What RV to buy? A trailer, a van, a fifth wheel, a bus? If a trailer, how to pull it?
3. Where to stay? Boon-dock, RV parks, RV resorts, State and National parks?
4. What RV memberships to purchase? What tier? For how long?
The questions kept piling on and even though we love YouTube, the amount of information and options was, to say it mildly, an overwhelming mess.
But we kept watching, we kept researching, we kept reading blogs and forums and kept on dreaming of a day, that we too, would be able to hit the road and keep on driving. For now, we had the beautiful Hawaiian sunsets to console us.
3. THE RV THAT ALMOST WAS
It was early 2018 and Dana had more or less figured out what he wanted in the sense of an RV trailer, and more importantly, what he definitely didn’t want at all.
He wanted a 26 foot Airstream Land Yacht. It was spacious enough inside for the two of us, but not too big to drive around or find a spot in any RV park, State or National park. The gas mileage wasn’t bad either. All in all, this was the ONE.
With a patient eye, he kept searching. And after a few months of searching, contacting, emailing back and forth, he found exactly what he was looking for.
The deal was good, the people reasonable and the proverbial virtual handshake has been made. The electronic airline ticket to Arizona and the hotel to stay at were booked. Arrangements for the newly acquired RV made far in advance. Everything seemed solid, all that was needed was to get there and pay for it.
And then came the nightmare.
There was miscommunication between the mother (the owner of the RV), who lived in a different state, not Arizona, and the son (the one who had the RV in his possession), who did live in Arizona and was supposed to meet Dana.
He didn’t possess any knowledge of the RV short of having it stored in his garage. He was also very sketchy when it came to the payment. He didn’t want cash, that he was adamant about. He didn’t want wire transfer, that he was even more adamant about. He wanted a cashier’s check or nothing. And since my husband was flying there overnight, he would get to Arizona on Sunday, with no bank opened in sight.
He reasoned with the guy to meet on Monday, which he said he said absolutely couldn’t do. Things were progressively getting stranger and absurd.
With a heavy heart and sadness, Dana cancelled his flight and his hotel. Things were not meant to be, we said to ourselves but we still felt little heartbroken none the less.
4. THE FINAL STRAW
And then, in June 2018, almost the worst of the worst happened.
It was a beautiful, sunny and hot day, just like almost every other day in Hawai’i. I was working and for lunch, my hubby used to pick me up on his way home from a client’s office. We would go eat all over the place around downtown Honolulu, but mostly to the cafeteria across the street, which was inside the Queen’s Medical Center.
The food was always fresh and reasonably priced. We would sit outside, in the shade of large plumeria trees and palms surrounding the courtyard, listen to the birds singing and enjoy our lunch break together.
On this day, it happened exactly like that, except my hubby started getting ill the second we left the courtyard. His body ached. His upper torso hurt and all he wanted to do was to lay down.
Good thing that we were already in the hospital, right? Nope.
He thought he ate something bad and that it would soon pass.
He walked with me all the way back to my office. At that point, he looked bad and I knew he was in trouble. He was pale as a sheet, his torso kept hurting him and he was sweating like crazy.
Thankfully my boos was in and he said Dana definitely should go back to the hospital to get checked out.
So we went down into our building’s garage and Dana drove himself to the emergency side of the hospital.
And thank goodness for that.
The second we walked through the entrance, a medic sat him down into the wheelchair and wheeled him right to a hospital bed.
My dear husband was having a heart attack.
We spent two days and two restless nights in the hospital, where he got a stent implant. We spent another day at a VA hospital figuring out all the VA procedures and all the right hoops to jump through for him to get the medication he needed.
At the end, it all turned out well, but it did cost us quite dearly. Not only in nerves, but financially as well . In short, the VA did my husband down and dirty. For all the ‘thank you’s for your service’ that he has been given over the years, he could probably pay for the medical bill we so rudely received six months later, on December 25th none the less.
He tried to get financial help from various people – including our ‘wonderful’ State representatives, but short of ‘thank you for your service’ again nobody was willing to move a muscle.
Thankfully my hubby was able to work it out directly with the hospital.
5. ALOHA, A HUI HOU (Until we meet again)
After a year of recuperating from life threatening event, we were ready to go. Safe to say that an experience like that does change one’s perspective on life.
As soon as the huge bill from hospital stopped looming over our heads, we knew it was time. It was time to put our dreams into reality.
We started right after Christmas and it would take us all the way until the end of May to organize everything we physically possessed. All that we owned then went into four piles: keep, sell, donate or throw away.
The keep pile started large and then it started to get smaller and smaller as we thought about what we would need on the road and how much we were willing to store indefinitely.
A day of our big yard sale came and it was a mayhem. I advertised our yard sale on Craigslist and because I used to be a collector of comic books and other valuable collectibles, like action figures etc., I knew there would be some interest.
The yard sale was supposed to start at 9 a.m. sharp. Me and my hubby woke up at 6 and started setting up tables and clothing racks for the huge amount of clothing I knew I wasn’t going to keep or lug around. By 7 a.m. there were people waiting on the sidewalk (some patiently, others not so much).
I don’t know how many times I ran up and down the stairs with hands full of clothes, shoes, handbags, kitchen items, all my collectibles and other miscellaneous trinkets. By 10:30 am we were almost all out of everything that could have been sold. Even our old, non-functional cuckoo clock got sold. There was a fight between a few tiny ladies over winter jackets and boots. People were shouting offers at me, which I promptly redirected at my husband, who is a skilled negotiator. I, on the other hand, hate to haggle or bargain.
That day was exhausting but rewarding as well, we got plenty out of that yard sale, financially and in a sense of a really good work out.
Our prized possessions were carefully bubble wrapped and packed into Sterilite footlocker storage bins. These are perfect since they have handles and have a small opening for a TSA approved Master-lock. We shipped all of them to Dana’s daughters’ house. She has a house with a big garage and offered to store the stuff that we wanted to keep but didn’t want to take on the road. It wasn’t cheap to send them all that way (via USPS) but it saved us lot of headaches.
Years before we moved to Hawaii, I lugged all these footlockers from Seattle to Maui. I hired a van, loaded all the footlockers and then had to unload them and store them at the airport storage. It wasn’t as expensive as shipping, but this time around we just didn’t have the time to drive back and forth airport in Honolulu and our house on the East side.
Prior to this ordeal, we shipped our beloved Volvo XC70 to his daughter’s house as well.
Now all we have owned was either shipped off, sold, or donated. Our house was finally emptied and cleaned. All was left was the final walk through with a property manager after professional cleaners scrubbed everything sparkling clean front and we were off.