I’ve always longed for adventure, and freedom from average. Many times, however, I’ve just been too scared to step out of my safety zone and give something new and exciting a shot. But a few years back, I was spurred into finally acting on inspiration when my husband lost his job and we knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up our lifestyle or even pay for our house. We realized we would have to think of something, and quick. I did what I’d needed to do for a long time. I took a chance. We took the plunge together; selling off everything that wasn’t tied down.
With each item exiting our life, we felt lighter, freer, and relieved to see it go. Even our cars and some of the things I’d been collecting for nearly 20 years (armoires, antique couches, dishes, and garden décor) weren’t safe from the online auction and garage sale. All in all, it took us a couple of months to sell everything we intended to sell; the rest would go to charity or a small storage unit.
At the end of our lease, we were just in time to start our new life of living rather than slaving away to house all of our stuff. We lived on the money we’d made from the sales and enjoyed every minute of being together. There was no rushing off to work in the morning; rather, we sat and talked over coffee, relishing time with our little girl.
Most people might’ve been worried, but we weren’t. It all felt so right! For once in our lives we were doing what our hearts led us to do rather than what society tends to corner us into doing. We were happy. We’d lost our income, but created another way of life and lightened our load at the same time.
I remember those last days in our house; abuzz with people coming and going, buying and bargaining. We could feel our new destiny taking shape. We’d sold our cars — the luxury sedan, the convertible, the motorcycle — and kept the SUV to get around town. I was fixated on buying a classic 1971 VW Westfalia Camper Van that I’d had my eye on for more than four years, though I’d never been able to track down the owner. My husband wasn’t quite so sure about buying the old VW at the time, since it had been left for so long in someone’s backyard.
Many times we’d passed by, each time I crossed my fingers and held my breath that it would still be there. As luck or fate would have it, right about the time we were selling-off our possessions and tossing the ball as to whether or not we should by a travel trailer or motor home, the house where the van was parked went up for rent. I somehow convinced my husband that it was what we needed to make our plans take shape.
I’ve often heard that timing is everything, and in this case it was so true. I called the number on the For Rent sign and told the English gentleman who answered that I wasn’t calling about the house, but rather the van in the backyard. He informed me that it really wasn’t for sale, but… Needless to say, it just goes to show that just about everything has its price.
I was fulfilling my long-felt dream the day we went to pick her up. The VW Campervan we came to call Peniki was just our ticket to the life we never thought we’d be allowed to live. We were going to hit the road and travel cross-country in that very van. We could envision it happening before we ever set sail. We finally made it happen, but it wasn’t easy; as nothing worth doing ever is. We journeyed through five states, leisurely taking a month to arrive at our destination: The Florida Keys. It was the road trip of road trips: camping in the National Pine Forests of Louisiana and Mississippi, along the Natchez Trace Parkway, on the Islands of Alabama and Florida…lounging ocean-side on sugar-sand beaches, snaking along byways bordering the Gulf of Mexico, and riding bicycles on Key West; the wind in our hair and not a care in the world. Exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, it was the trip that has spawned many more dreams, the journey that changed our lives forever.
Now, looking back on the memories and friends we’ve made along the way — the many trips we’ve taken in the slow-lane on-board our Hippie Van — I can’t help but long for more of the open road to destinations unknown. Maybe we’ll head out West next journey. One thing’s for sure, seeing the world through the bay-window of Peniki, we’ll be happy to go where ever the road takes us.