Free as I'll ever be.
An unexpected opportunity arose over the last couple weeks and came to fruition in Costa Rica last week. I guess it all stemmed from my dog mushing experience in ‘09/’10. After training huskies in Montana all winter, I headed to Alaska during the Iditarod Sled Dog Race to witness the culmination of the previous 7 months of work. While my boss, Cindy, and the dogs were out traveling across the 1000-mile expanse that is the Iditarod trail, I spent several days in Anchorage before flying to the finish line in Nome. While there, I met a friend who extended generous hospitality in the form of caribou, smoked salmon, kindness, and a couch. We loosely kept in touch via the Internet over the last couple years (mainly in the form of me continually viewing his inspiring photography). He is always traveling somewhere in the world and sharing his stories with stunning photographs. Natty contacted me recently, telling me that he was heading to Costa Rica for a photo shoot with Merrell. He offered me a job as a model in the shoot, and I happily accepted the invitation.
Merrell sent me some clothing and when it fit, they confirmed that I had a spot on the trip. It all seemed surreal until I found myself flying out of the Nashville airport last Thursday. I met two new friends in Atlanta—Nadira, the female model, and Sophie from Merrell marketing. It turns out Merrell is based out of Rockford, MI, so these two lovely ladies will practically be my neighbors this summer. We flew to Costa Rica, rented a Toyota, and headed south to Nosara—a quiet beach town that would be home base for the next 3 days. Upon our arrival, we met up with Natty and Whitney, and then proceeded to jump in the Pacific Ocean to celebrate. It was evident pretty early on that these were some very cool kids, and it was about to be a good week.
Costa Rica is beautiful. I loved it there because of the natural beauty of it all—The Pacific Ocean and mountains and colors and creatures, but even more so because of a beautiful attitude towards life. Time slows down and there’s nothing you can do about it—even if you wanted to hurry around, it just couldn’t happen. People seem to appreciate the very present and beautiful passing of time. It’s the simple things that matter—I didn’t see any mansions or shiny cars, but there was a contentment and happiness that was very evident. It’s a different world down there, and I can’t help but think it might be a world that I was better designed for. Let’s just say I am planning to learn some Spanish.
We spent the next 4 days traveling around and taking pictures of Merrell shoes/apparel in interesting places. For the photos, Nadira and I rode bicycles, shopped at local markets, swam in the ocean, flagged down imaginary taxis, and played in a waterfall. I can’t say enough about the crew I was able to be a part of. The days were long and that place is hot (especially in jeans), but it never failed to be a good time because of mi Costa Rica familia—Nadira, Sophie, Whitney, and Natty. We spent all day everyday together and got to know one another pretty well. I miss those people already and reminisce daily about the good times we had. I’m looking forward to the next time our paths cross—hopefully sooner than later. Overall, I’m so very grateful to have had some time in paradise with incredible friends.
I was welcomed back to Nashville by my colorful house filled with people I love. My brother and sister-in-law were in Tennessee and hopped on board to greet me at the airport. I hadn’t seen them in far too long and it was so good to catch up in the Music City. Andrew had his hands in this bus project from the beginning—he believed in us before most people did, and helped us turn our school bus into a home. It was great that he could get a glimpse of Lost Bus livin’ before the tour comes to an end.
We spent a lot of time on Percy Priest Reservoir near Nashville. There was an excessive presence of garbage on the shore, and we decided to try to make a dent in it. We did a kayak cleanup on Bear Island, but we were frustrated when there was more garbage than we could haul home on our little boats. The next day we were able to team up with the Army Corps of Engineers and have a much bigger impact. We zipped around the lake with Matt and Amber, stopping at the hardest-hit areas to clean up. It was a fun day and we made a good haul.
After waking up in Nashville on Saturday morning, we somehow decided to head north and find Chicago. Spontaneity has to be one of the things I love most about this lifestyle. We worked with a CRWRC crew from the Chicago area a few weeks ago in Alabama—we decided it would be fun to go to their church in the morning. We drove for about eleven hours that day and ended at our destination. They were surprised to find our house in the parking lot when they arrived at church. We enjoyed a morning of reuniting with friends and enjoying the company good people. Our Chicago visit was short but very sweet. Elizabeth Voss, you rock.
I’m in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as I type this thing out. Yikes, I have definitely turned into a wimp over the last 16 months of migrating with the seasons. It’s cold here. We have just two weeks until we plan to arrive back in our hometown of Holland, Michigan. The thought is that we will travel around Lake Michigan before ending this journey. We realized that we now know several other states better than our own, and we want to spend some time in the high-five of America before parking this rig for the summer. It’s very strange and bittersweet to think of this journey coming to a close. I’m looking forward to the next chapter while savoring the last moments of this lifestyle that I love. I’m as free as I’ll ever be and trying to appreciate every second. Feeling blessed, life is good!