And Up Next: Whaaaaaat?!

Capturing the ins and outs of each day is impossible. I’ve spent a huge amount of the last four days inspecting and overhauling Charley’s trailer towing package. I started out knowing exactly nothing beyond there are such a thing as trailer brakes. The rabbit hole I’ve gone down renovating Charley’s system is quite deep but I’m finally to the point were I can take him out on his first test run. And why all this work on Charley? More on that below…

As I started writing this Dani was mixing homemade body scrubs after having researched deodorant recipes. And those were just the low-key activity of the evening following her taking point on real estate research in Maine for the past three days.

Unexpectedly, Maine has yielded tremendous-sounding leads for land. I always shied away from Maine because I was worried six month winters would be too much of a hurdle for the aspiring micro-farmer/homesteader.  Yet people do live and farm there year-round. Given that we can actually afford land there, the more we look into it, the more it seems like this is doable. We’ll have an entire season to get a roof over our heads and plan for dealing with cold, snow and food. And in the event of catastrophe – which we will do everything we can to avoid – we’ll have Dani’s family not too far away.

Perhaps at some point we will be able to write in detail about why California didn’t work out. But it didn’t, just like Oregon. We’ve also looked at New Mexico. The past three months of road blocks have at least taught us enough that we can see there are currently no good prospects in New Mexico either. We do dearly love Nevada County in California, just as we love western Oregon. If there was a space for us in those places for this season of life we would have found it by now.

Every day spent in the Treasure Valley chafes me. I must get out of here. Almost everyone who is born in Boise is compelled to leave (either by internal impetus or external circumstances). For those of us afflicted with the internal impetus, something always seems holds us back. My friend and former bandmate Tommy (the same who gave me sage shaving advice) wrote a song about this called “Rope” saying:

“Well I’ve been – hanging all around – this tattered place – off the rooftop – by a thread. – This rooftop – to me it’s Boise – where every thread you have – becomes a rope.”

“Why must I fall? – Again and again, here… – why can’t I fall far away? – Why must I fall? – again and again, here… – I want to go far away.”

Tommy, and every other former band member (save one: Nate) found a way away from Boise. Every single friend I grew up with (again save one: Ted) has moved away. At some point, a few (of my friends, three) have come back. But most of those again move on at some point (only one of those three friends remains: Ben).

I’m one of the last indigenous Boiseans of my generation. And, nearing 40 years old, I ache with the need to go far afield. I’ve wanted to for decades, but have never had the chance. It’s not like Boise is a bad place (the North End is especially wonderful); but it’s exploding in all the ways we don’t want anything to do with. We’re currently staying out in the center of an ocean of urban sprawl. When I was a teenager there was only farmland out here. Now it’s almost all been sold and replaced with legions of McMansion subdivisions, tacky strip malls, titanic gatherings of big box stores, an inexhaustible supply of fast food chains and never-ending traffic. Each day spent here is a day not spent building our future home.

Our old place in the North End was wonderful; within walking distance of Downtown Boise, often visited by deer, owls, hummingbirds and honey bees. The only problems were we had no way to garden, paying the rent was not a sustainable option and we had no hope of buying the place outright. So, even though that was our first home together, we decided to leave it behind and began the Ambling Full Tilt journey. In only three weeks we downsized, found Charley, outfitted Charley, (roughly) planned our Ambling Full Tilt journey, transferred our lease, stored the stuff we didn’t sell and then hit the road for six months.

We could remain another season in Boise and actually build a tiny house here, then haul it across the country once we have found a place. But if we have viable land leads, we could just haul the house-less trailer (much easier) across the country and build the house where we want it to go. And that gives us the opportunity to pursue all the other aspects of homesteading as we build our house.

We do have viable land purchase leads and a fall-back plan of land offered by the family (i.e. it is available, we know it will work, it won’t be sold, and our lease would be super cheap).

With as close-to-a-guarantee as one can have on the land front, we suddenly have a way forward! We have a trailer in California, ourselves in Boise and a dream in Maine. Ambling Full Tilt 2.0 is now underway!

And in true Ambling Full Tilt fashion we have exactly three weeks to hit the road in order to get relocated and settled before my brother’s wedding in Florida in May.

So that means exactly three weeks – again! – to finish all downsizing, outfit Charley as a towing rig, pack everything, sell our other car (the Adventure Versa), arrange all U-Haul plans (including destination storage), solidify an interim living plan in Maine, move all real estate purchasing efforts forward, research all code/ordinance compliance concerns, finalize our design and pack the rigs.

If we pull that off we expect then to take six days and around 3,700 miles to retrieve the trailer from Northern CA, rendezvous near SLC, then take the convoy across the country.

What will happen next? Who knows, nothing is guaranteed. But life opens doors when it’s good and ready. What can one do but respond?

Almost two months ago we got a fortune cookie that said our lucky day was two months hence. We almost forgot about it until one month after that we got a second fortune cookie that said our lucky day was one month hence! The cookies were keeping track of things! With another auspicious fortune about retirement (which is how I have describe this lifestyle to many people) we had to heed the cookies:

The cookies don't lie...

The cookies don’t lie…

The first one was from February 19th, and the second was from March 27th, so they’re out-of-sync by about a week. But they are just cookies after all. That would be pretty accurate for a human, so I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt. And in the interest of furthering confirmation bias I hereby declare that something wonderful, our lucky day, will happen on or about April 19-27. Though we plan to actually hit the road on April 30. I would like the luck day to be after we get to Maine, but we shall see.

This is it folks! Things are actually happening!


4 thoughts on “And Up Next: Whaaaaaat?!

    • We were going to write you directly (we owe a LOT of people messages!) but I can at least answer your questions.

      SLC – Salt Lake City, UT. I’m going to head out a day early, drive to Nevada City, pick up the trailer, and haul it another couple of hours east. Dani will head out with the U-Haul the following morning; so we won’t meet up to caravan together until that afternoon.

      That song Rope was played in two bands you have never heard of “The Tommymonsters” and “Nate Can’t Drive.” I was the bass player (though I do play guitar). The two bands were differentiated by a change in drummers. We were kind of a jam band, so that limits appeal. All tremendous guys, I loved playing with them, but it never worked out (as is the case with most bands).


  1. I don’t live in BOISE anymore!!! I escaped!! I DID, I tell you… 😉
    …but you are right, on occasion I have to endure the endless strip malls and countless disgusting restaurant chains…the never ending sea of churches (one on every corner, quite literally (and not “literally” in the figurative sense, the actual real definition of literal)) and more Walmart’s than you can shake a stick at. This is why I do everything I can to not leave our little piece of heaven here, just far enough away to forget.
    Boise is not all that bad, but it isn’t all that good either, it is by far in the ugliest part of the state, but close enough to the pretty parts 🙂
    In all my travels, I often forget which one I am in. Boise, Henderson, Billings, Denver, Kansas City, Miami…the list goes on and on. Each of them have little pockets of awesome, but are being (or have already become) little clones of the same thing; Starbucks, Walmart, Lowes, McDonalds, TGI Fridays…filled with unhappy, unfulfilled people, unaware of why they are so unhappy…
    I rant too long, good luck my friends, may many awesome adventures fill your journey! Breathe it in, for you are some of the lucky few to actually live life. You escaped the matrix, you are no longer a copper top. Continue to do and BE!!
    Let’s meet in Portland and have a few drinks and some delicious lobster at Fore Street! (


    • Ben, you are amazing and completely right to correct me that you are not in Boise – you are in Eagle, dammit, and I had better get that right! 🙂

      I’ve been here my whole life, basically. The Ambling Full Tilt trip was the exception. If it was a terrible place I would have left a long time ago. It’s funny you mentioned the churches, I thought about them but specifically chose not to write about them. I figure my frequent quoting of Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, etc., already irritates my irrevocable ties to Christianity through family enough. But the churches’ imposing presence in the valley is not something I enjoy. It reminds me of a hilarious juxtaposition we saw on the road:

      Apparently porn shops are a big thing with truckers? I had no idea. You don’t see them advertised in the West much (apart from Nevada). But elsewhere in the country you often see giant billboards on the freeways advertising “adult shops” often in the middle of seemingly-nowhere. “Adult shops?” More like randy trucker hidey-holes that I’d rather not contemplate the contents of nor activities that occur within. Another billboard you frequently see are the accusatory, condemning Christian “turn-or-burn” canards. On one random stretch of highway we saw the “adult shop” billboard in garish colors conjuring repugnant implications immediately followed by a billboard that said something like “You need Jesus – your life depends on it!” I commented to Dani “I wish they could dig up one of those billboards and place it right in front of the other – but facing each other. Let the fucking billboards argue this out and leave the rest of us out of the conversation.”

      But I digress. The time has come for us to leave – finally. There are indeed “little pockets of awesome” all over the place – even in places you don’t expect: Missoula, Rapid City, Roanoke, Flagstaff, to name a few. But liekwise there are vast pockets of indistinguishable blandness and mediocrity all over the country brought to you by our modern, consumer culture. I’m not going to fault people for participating in that existence; as you said it is VERY much “The Matrix.” The world that is imposed upon us “consumers” is mightily difficult to see through. There is ZERO incentive for doing so. Morpheus summarized it perfectly when he said:

      “Remember: all I’m offering you is the truth. Nothing More.”

      We’ve said it a million times: this path is vastly more difficult than a day job. But it is living our truth.

      And hell yeah, if you’re in Portland let us know! We’ll find a way to meet you!


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