Jumping into an Adventure with Both Feet

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Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been freefalling down a hole of uncertainty, unsure of where I’m going to land. Part of this has been caused by the excitement of unexpected opportunities opening up in front of me, and part of it is a horrifying limbo of indecision.

My partner and I have been conjuring up future plans for over a year. Our ideas have jumped like skipping stones from one option to the next. “What will be our next big adventure?” When life was at its most stressful, we’d ruminate on this question for hours, our eyes alive with possibility. Too busy to plan, we could only dream.

We dreamed of bicycle touring through South America. “We can eat our way from place to place, and stay trim from all the cycling.”

We dreamed of buying a 4WD vehicle and touring overland. “It’ll be like sailing, but without the seasickness.”

We got our heavy vehicle licenses in preparation for an overland adventure.

Getting ready to be a trucker.

Then, at the last minute, as we were selling our Stuff and moving out of our house and into an unknown adventure, we had new idea:

What if we bought another boat?

With twenty-four hours, Ivan had found The One online. At 44 feet, she had all the equipment we’ve ever wanted in a boat, and enough space to make a comfortable home. ‘The princess palace,’ Ivan called her, because compared with the run-down 32’ boat we lived on for two years, this fine vessel was fit for royalty.

The interior was stunning, and I mentally moved all my recipe books into the bookshelves, my spices into the kitchen, and our pictures onto the teak walls. Not only would she be a vehicle for exploring, she would be an elegant home.

Our plan was to move aboard, live in San Francisco for a while, and then sail her slowly down the Californian coast to Mexico, where we’d live on fish tacos and Pacifico beers for a while.

We put in an offer, and Ivan flew to San Francisco to see the boat. I stayed back in Australia, packing boxes and preparing for a life at sea.

In our dreamy heads, it was a fine plan. But she was twenty-seven years old, and, despite being meticulously maintained, she’d been around the block a few times. She was expensive, and we have enough experience to know that the cost of a boat doesn’t stop at the initial price tag. A wise person once said that if you want to get a sense for what sailing is like, stand outside in the cold, and have someone spray you with a garden hose while you burn $100 bills. Could we even afford her?

I was also concerned about the maintenance. Boats need a lot of it. They can’t get enough of it. And frankly, we’re not all that good at it. In fact, we’re far more apt at breaking than fixing. Could we keep her meticulously maintained?

And while the boat would allow us to travel and explore, so would a couple of backpacks and two budget airline tickets. I wondered if this boat was really just a big, expensive Thing. If we bought her, would we become her bitch?

*Whip*

After spending the last few years writing, self-publishing, and selling a book, I’d reached burnout. This creative adventure was as terrifying and rewarding as any outdoor adventure, and in truth, the thought of jumping directly from one perilous endeavor into another one filled me with dread. I needed to regain my footing.

My dear friend Carol, an experienced sailor, said, “It’s a huge decision and you want to be ready to jump in with both feet.”

Both feet.

But my feet were growing cold. However, I didn’t want to disappoint Ivan by telling him that I needed a break before taking this on, especially since he’d already flown to San Francisco to see our new boat. We had no other firm plans to fall back on, no home, and it felt like we had no choice.

Maybe if I try harder, I reasoned, I can rejuvenate my energy and be ready to go again. We can do this! It’ll be great! We’ll make it work!

Cheering myself on was only depleting me further.

For weeks, we wallowed in indecision. Time ticked passed. The yacht broker was calling every day for an answer. Ivan was with his parents in San Francisco, and I was with mine in Melbourne. The distance wasn’t helping the situation. People asked us, “So what are you guys up to now?” and we could only reply with confused shrugs and lost expressions.

Finally, over Skype one day, Ivan hung his pixilated head in despair. “I’m waking up with dread in the morning,” he confessed.

“So am I!” I said.

“I need a break,” he said. “I’m afraid that we won’t get a break if we buy this boat. It’ll just create a lot of extra work for us, and it’ll eat up all our savings before we ever get to explore.”

“I feel exactly the same,” I replied, “but I didn’t want to disappoint you. I thought you wanted this. I thought it was your dream boat.”

“It is, but not right now. I wanted you to give you a princess palace. I didn’t want to disappoint you either.”

Relieved, we turned down the boat.

We bought two tickets to Asia instead.

And now …

I’m writing this from a bungalow on a Thai beach. I have a little desk by the window, which opens up to the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline. From this small home, I can work on my manuscript edits with my publisher—something that would’ve been difficult (or impossible) to do from a bicycle, the back of a 4WD truck, or a boat on the ocean.

Ivan has been scuba diving every day. He’s getting certified, which is something he’s wanted to do for a long time. It’ll open up a range of ocean-related opportunities for him.

Our minds are free of worries over diesel engines, deteriorating teak decks, and maintenance To-Do lists. The last two years of hard work and stress are beginning to unravel. With both my feet on the ground here, I’m realizing something important:

Sometimes in life, the most thrilling adventure is a simple one.

Our Thai home.

My writing desk.

Cooling down outside the bungalow.

Warning: hammocks will swallow you whole and never let you out!

Ivan on the scuba boat.

Leave a Comment

  • Bex April 6, 2012 at 8:49 am edit

    Torre! You are one brave girl. The whirlwind that’s happened to you over the past year, of COURSE you need to go easy on yourself and cut yourself some slack.
    I used to think that if I wasn’t taking a trip to the Arctic or on a container ship through pirate infested waters, I wasn’t leading a worthwhile life, until I came to Athens, Greece and learnt that it’s not necessarily quantity, but QUALITY that matters. So now I take things “Siga siga” (slowly slowly), occasionally go to the many Greek islands and learn to love the sights and sounds of living in a foreign culture – laping up all that’s different around me and ALWAYS finding things to write about.
    Well done you – keep up the hard work of going easy and being gentle on yourself (because this not beating ourselves up IS hard work!) and I really look forward to the book when it comes out.
    Good luck to you.

    Bex
    http://www.leavingcairo.blogspot.com

    P.S. I might ask you for book advice when I come near to completing mine!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 6, 2012 at 8:54 am edit

      Thank you, Bex. I’m going to get siga siga tattooed on my head. What’s the point of doing something bold if it causes too much stress? Plus, slowly, slowly gives me plenty of time to do what I love most: read, read, read.

      Reply
  • Bird April 6, 2012 at 9:33 am edit

    Fascinating to read the plans that never were as well as sense happy contentment now in your every breath. I spent nearly eight weeks in Thailand recently and it’s where both my partner and worked and relaxed the hardest… We vow to return before too long.
    Are you travelling through more of Asia? Excited to watch the adventure (and you both!) unwind…

    Reply
  • Dina Santorelli April 6, 2012 at 9:49 am edit

    Torre! Happy to see a new post, lady, and that you’ve found someplace to land. With both feet. Looking forward to the day your travels bring you to New York.

    Reply
  • Sonya April 6, 2012 at 10:13 am edit

    Hi Torre!
    This is wonderful news! I am so happy for you.

    While my partner and I have taken on another “adventure” (adopting a second child, 6 yrs of age, within a week), I have stopped most of my work to cool down and be a mom for now. Doesn’t sound exactly adventurous to some, but for me who has been traveling the world, it’s the biggest challenge of all. Yet I can see and feel the benefits already now. Someone asked me the other day what we plan after our little guy has settled in. I replied that we don’t have plans for now and that I am sure something exciting will pop up once the time has come.

    Take gentle care and enjoy the peace and beauty of your new home.
    Much love across the miles,
    Sonya

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 7, 2012 at 3:01 am edit

      Thank you, Sonya. Though I don’t have kids, I intuitively understand that it’s an adventure to make all other adventures seem minuscule. How wonderful that you’ve adopted. I am in awe of you. Thanks for the comment and the love. x

      Reply
  • shelley April 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm edit

    Thanks for the inspiration. I take off in a few days for my first solo bike tour, 1800 miles to Mexico! YAY! Thanks, keep getting after it.

    RIDE ON! Shelley

    Reply
  • Amanda April 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm edit

    Good for you guys! I’m glad to hear you’re letting yourself just unwind a bit – you deserve it! Plus, who wouldn’t want to live in a Thai paradise like that for a while?

    Reply
  • Ayngelina April 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm edit

    I love this, sometimes you need to abandon everything you think you wanted to embrace something new without expectations.

    Reply
  • Kim April 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm edit

    Congrats- looks like heaven and that writing desk is sublime. I plan to make a long stop in Thailand myself for some good writing and beach time.

    Reply
  • Christy April 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm edit

    It sounds like a great decision to me! Although, I’m a little bummed I didn’t get to meet you guys in SF. :)

    Reply
  • Sarah Somewhere April 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm edit

    Hi Torre, wonderful post as always. It’s so funny I’m sitting here in our home for the next month – Chiang Mai, thinking ‘oh that looks nice’ and I was only doing that very thing on a Thai Island not three weeks ago before getting bored of it! The grass is always greener for me, something I really need to work on, just, being. I think that will be my greatest challenge of all! Take care, let me know if you’re in the ‘hood in the next couple of months :)

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 7, 2012 at 3:11 am edit

      Boredom (or restlessness) could become a problem eventually, but for now I have plenty of work to keep me distracted. I think the grass is always *always* greener for travelers. That’s why we travel! Hope to catch you in Asia. x

      Reply
  • Patricia Sands April 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm edit

    I’ve been waiting and wondering. So happy to hear you have found the right place for this NOW. Sending peaceful karma.

    Reply
  • Tania Elfersy (@PurpleLeavesRed) April 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm edit

    So happy to read your update :-) Sounds like you have made a wonderful choice. The adventure to rediscover your relaxed self is thrilling indeed!

    Reply
  • Beware of Falling Coconuts April 7, 2012 at 2:58 am edit

    Nice! I’m loving that you have your feet on the ground and are getting the much-needed, much-deserved break from extreme adventure … for now ;-)

    Reply
  • Nancy Sathre-Vogel April 7, 2012 at 4:17 am edit

    HA! You sound EXACTLY like how I did a year ago! We had just finished a massive 3-year biking adventure that had been wonderful. We looked around at what we wanted to do and the whole world was open – quite literally the whole world. We could keep traveling on bikes, we could ditch the bikes and travel with backpacks, we could buy a car, we could buy a boat. The world was our oyster.

    There was a LOT of pressure on us to keep traveling. People enjoyed reading our blog and many people felt there was no way an adventurous family like us could settle down and put down roots. Yet I knew in my heart that what I wanted was to find a little house in Boise, Idaho and put down roots. I wanted it, but couldn’t explain it.

    Then one day I realized that it’s all about pursuing your passion and following your dream – wherever it takes you. If the dream takes you around the world on bikes, then that’s OK. If the dream takes you to a little house in Boise, Idaho, that’s OK too. Here’s the blog entry I wrote about it: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/06/jumping-back-in-the-box/

    I’m so glad you finally realized you could define your dream any way you wanted and found your little bungalow!!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 7, 2012 at 11:26 am edit

      Thanks for your thoughtful words, Nancy. I knew you’d understand! (Was it really a year ago that you returned from your Alaska/Argentina trip??!)

      Reply
      • Nancy Sathre-Vogel April 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm edit

        It’s too bizarre to think that it’s been a year – doesn’t seem possible. That fact reminds me how important it really is that we live the life we want rather than the one others expect us to live. Time marches on way too fast not to.

        Reply
  • Sally April 7, 2012 at 6:02 am edit

    This new plan sounds fantastic. You don’t by any chance have a guest bedroom, do you? I think I could use a little beach time, myself. And I don’t even like the beach. :)
    Enjoy it!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 7, 2012 at 11:35 am edit

      That can surely be arranged. Bungalows are $15 a night here, and the one next door is free. Of course, we’d have to have our overdue Fearful Girl vs. Unbrave Girl olympics, and we’d need at least 12 bloggers to document it. Surely we’re *that* important, right? Right?

      Reply
  • Edna April 8, 2012 at 7:17 am edit

    Great story — I did the same thing in another Asian country, moving to Singapore on a whim (and it ended up being the best decision I ever made). Looking forward to reading your stories from Thailand!

    Reply
  • Beth Partin April 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm edit

    This post is full of good advice. Last year, when we were planning our 12 Cities, 1 Year trip (now curtailed), I felt so stressed out. I kept wanting to go to a beach somewhere and just lie down for about six months. We set out on our trip and enjoyed it for 4 months. Then we had to come back to Denver because of unforeseen medical problems. But we’ll be getting back on the road soon. Enjoy Thailand!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 22, 2012 at 1:31 am edit

      There’s nothing wrong with sitting on a beach for 6 months, in my opinion! There’s nothing worse than going on a holiday / adventure, only to find that you need a holiday from your holiday.

      Reply
  • Tatiana April 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm edit

    Selfishly, I’m so happy to know what you’ve been up to all this time! It does seem rather stressful, to have the whole world as your oyster and you’re not entirely sure how you want to eat it! But Thai seems pretty amazing – more amazing, than riding on a boat – but that’s just me! And with spring coming, it must be really nice, but not yet packed with a bunch of other tourists. How is the food?

    Also – I’m guessing you decided to purchase a macbook air? It’s so thin! :3

    Reply
  • Vacay Girl April 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm edit

    I’m so happy you both came to a conclusion that you both could agree on. That’s what relationships are about, talking it over and coming to a solution together. Now you both will have no regrets over the boating issue. The price might have been right but the moment wasn’t and that’s okay. You will be presented with the right opportunity at the right time and you will both know when that exact moment is. It will all work out. You both are blessed to have the options you have set before you.

    Reply
  • Emily Woodhouse April 9, 2012 at 11:10 am edit

    I’m feeling jealous to see such a beautiful couple in a beautiful Thai beach. If I were there! Cool post, very informative. Thank you so much for sharing the experience with us.

    Reply
  • Lynne Knowlton April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm edit

    Wow, I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures. Thai beach ??!! Amazeballs !! Thailand is beautiful on so many levels. I am subscribing to your blog . Right now. Love it.
    Lynne xx

    Reply
  • Charley @Secret_Water April 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm edit

    Pleased to hear you’ve found the right adventur and you can start rolling again (choose your own adventure is always the best). If you get needy of some boat diy stories and want to feel good abut your decision you can catch updates on my blog about our renovation of a 30 year old 26 foot endeavour yacht…..

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 22, 2012 at 1:38 am edit

      Renovating a boat sound really appealing to me. I think it’d be a great way to learn the boat intimately. Renovating is hard, yes, but not as hard as breaking down mid-ocean and having no idea how to fix the problem. :(

      Reply
  • crazy sexy fun traveler April 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm edit

    Hm good decision! Even tho a boat trip would be maybe more fun, but more difficult, too. Enjoy Thailand, I miss it!

    Reply
  • Cristina Garcia April 13, 2012 at 2:20 am edit

    We were in the Kalahari last week and saw one of those trucks that you and Ivan wanted to buy. I kept thinking about you two in Africa…but you are in Thailand!

    We came back only a few hours ago and already want to get back, buy a truck again and do it all over again.

    I always wanted to go to Thailand and stay in one of those bungalows. I love your new house!

    enjoy your freedom!

    cristina

    Reply
  • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot April 16, 2012 at 1:02 am edit

    Oh that’s brilliant Torre, so relaxing and I’m sure I’ve stayed in that exact bungalow:) Wow! You got your HGV licences too – you guys are ready for anything now… but nothing looks like bliss:)

    Reply
  • Eileen April 19, 2012 at 12:24 am edit

    Amazing. I find that to be really inspiring. :) I am honestly happy for you. This is great. In a way, you give me hope with what I want to do with my life oddly enough.

    Reply
  • Davis April 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm edit

    I was worried about you there for a while. Buying a boat is like buying a railroad because you like to take train rides.

    The world is full of people who would love the romance of a boat, but who shy away from the upkeep. If you would like to become as rich as a computer nerd, you might think about designing a boat that won’t become a money pit.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche April 22, 2012 at 1:18 am edit

      Ha ha.

      They do cost money, but boats are like a magic carpet that can take you places no other vehicle can. I agree that if you plan to buy a boat and keep it in the dock, you’ll be feeding a money pit, but buying a boat to see the world is a different thing. The money is worth it. (We’ve done it before.)

      In this case, the boat was too big and too expensive for us. It was luxurious because it was oversized, but all of that extra room was going to cost us too much over time.

      Reply
  • criss April 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm edit

    Hi Torre,
    Interesting and incredible! Thai home looks cool! Well done Torre. Keep posting such fascinating experiences.

    Reply
  • Michi April 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm edit

    Sometimes it’s those little assumptions and expectations that can let us down – it’s great that you both figured out the boat situation and felt the same way about it! It kind of made me giddy to come back and read that your last-minute change of plans (after planning for over a year) ended up working out for the very best. I love it when that happens. :)

    Reply
  • Lauren May 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm edit

    Loved reading your incredible story. Congrats to you both on your new adventure. And yes, I can’t agree more: ” Sometimes in life, the most thrilling adventure is a simple one.”
    My your new Thai home and adventure rejuvenate you and inspire you!

    Reply
  • Jeremy Branham May 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm edit

    Good for you Torre! With the burnout stage you seemed to have reached, this seemed like a perfect choice. The stress of the boat or bicycling or 4WD would have been an adventure. But it seems you needed a place to unwind and relax. Kudos on making the right choice!

    Reply
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