With three months of nomad life officially under our belts, I now feel like I can give a report of what it’s been like thus far. With things we love and things that are a bit challenging, it’s definitely been an interesting experience, to say the least…
The Good: We are getting to explore so many new places! From the beach in Rockport to the mountains in Denver to this desert-mountain area of Bend, Oregon, we feel so lucky to get to see so many different parts of the country. Living on the beach for a few weeks in Rockport was amazing – waking up and taking a run to the beach is definitely not a bad way to start your day. And Colorado was also breathtaking. There seemed to be just one beautiful place after another in that state, and we got to see a lot of it: we went camping at Turquoise Lake, rented a condo in the mountains of Keystone, went hiking in Fort Collins and Estes Park, and spent an incredibly relaxing weekend at our friends’ mountain house in Westcliffe (former home of Matt LeBlanc’s dad!), where we got to ride ATVs among the fiery aspens and see countless shooting stars while sitting in a hot tub. Can’t complain about that!
Photos from Colorado, Left to Right: Golden, CO; Keystone, CO; Turquoise Lake, CO
It was also nice to get to spend so much time with those above-mentioned friends who live in Denver. Alex and Tim included us in anything and everything and really made us feel like we were part of their Denver life – from volleyball games, kickball games and six-thirty a.m. workout classes (still can’t believe they got us to do that…) to food truck nights, fun bars and weekend trips away, they made our time in Denver something we’ll never forget. Denver was also nice because so many people from various periods of my life have since moved there – so it was a lot of fun to reconnect with old high school friends, friends from college, and even an American friend who taught English in Austria with me – some of whom I haven’t seen in 10 entire years!
With Alex and Tim in Westcliffe, Colorado
And now we are in our very first new-new place – somewhere neither of us has been before – Bend, Oregon. We both have never been to the Pacific Northwest, so we are really looking forward to exploring the region. After a week here, our first impressions of Bend have been great. For those of you who have never heard of it (I myself hadn’t before August), Bend is a small town of about 90,000 people, located in Central Oregon. To the west are the majestic Cascade Mountains, and the Deschutes River runs through the city itself. While I’m sure summer here is also beautiful, the fall colors here are absolutely amazing. Everywhere you go, deep reds, bright yellows, and burnt oranges dot the landscape – and these colored trees overlooking the river are truly something to see. The little downtown is also like something out of a storybook. Coffee shops, bookstores, breweries (twenty-eight in the tiny city!), restaurants and local shops line the brick sidewalks, and it feels like either a little Mayberry or the closet thing to Europe you’d find in America. We’re excited to keep learning more about it – further report to come in a few weeks!
The Bad: While seeing so many new places is definitely amazing, that doesn’t mean things are always easy. One of the hardest things is well, the lack of things. When we left Boston, we sold or gave away many of our possessions, so some of the things most people count among their cheap, basic possessions we just don’t have anymore. I went to physical therapy in Denver, and the therapist asked if I had a foam roller at home. “Well, I used to….” I replied wistfully. Just today, I went to yoga for the first time in Bend, and was a little worried because it was at a gym, not a yoga studio, and the schedule said to “Bring your own mat”. Um, don’t have one of those anymore, either. And then there are the normal household items – our current AirBnb doesn’t have a drying rack for dishes or for clothes, there is no blender to make smoothies, the Denver AirBnB had no full length mirror…definitely not necessities, but things you do miss when you don’t have them for months at a time. We’ve also been riding bikes in both Denver and Bend, and my mom will be happy to hear that something in my body completely rebels about getting on a bike without a helmet. Our AirBnb host had one he let me borrow in Denver, but here, I had to order one off of Amazon (but it did come in my favorite color!). The problem is now that I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it once we move cities. A helmet is a little bulky to pack in a suitcase, especially when its already full…
Bend, like Denver, has bikes you can check out and return to different stations – very helpful for us when we’re just here a few months!
Our other problem here is a lack of fall clothes. We were originally planning on only going to warm cities, so we brought the bare minimum of cold-weather clothes with us (thinking we’d just have to get through the possibly cooler end of September in Denver before we moved on to a warmer place in October). Well, one thing led to another, and we ended up here in Bend – which is windy and 40 degrees as I write this. My mom said she could ship us our fall clothes, or we could also buy some, but again, the problem is that we will be moving again soon. Our suitcases are already at the maximum of 50 pounds each, so we really don’t have any room to buy anything and bring it to our next stop with us. Looks like we will be doing a lot of laundry (which our AirBnB luckily does have!) and I will have to rock my tennis shoes when going out instead of my cute fall boots that are currently in a box at home in St. Louis…
Our Belongings for the Year
The Ugly: To be honest, nothing is really ugly, but for the purpose of the title, let’s call it that. While overall this is a very fun thing to do, there are some things that are on the more difficult side. One thing that has become more complicated is work. At home in Boston, we each had very nice desks, monitors, ergonomic desk chairs, etc. On this travel year, we have to take whatever the AirBnB has to offer. In our last three places, this has meant that we’ve been working at a kitchen table and chairs, which isn’t horrible, but not the most comfortable day after day. It’s also hard for me to work without my large monitor I had in Boston. As I translate old German script, I need a monitor to zoom in on the tiny handwriting (and to have the German on one screen while I type the English on the other). I do have a portable monitor for travel, but it is much smaller and flimsier that the one I am used to. Thank goodness for coworking spaces – we went to Modworks in Denver and are going to BendTech a few days a week here. Great places, but even there, the availability of monitors isn’t guaranteed, so it does make you feel like you have to race to the office in the morning to make sure you get first dibs on one of the few monitors available. Guess we need our friends Alex and Tim back to get us up early for those 6:30 a.m. workout classes to get an early start to our day…
Speaking of friends, that will probably be the most difficult thing about nomad life. We were so lucky in Denver that we had friends to show us around and to hang out with us, but here in Bend and in our next few cities, we know very few, if any, people. Markus and I are both extraverts and love doing social things, so a few months in a city without knowing other people isn’t exactly ideal for us. And even if we do meet people, once these potential new friends discover we’re only going to be here for two months or less, many of them likely won’t be interested in investing in the friendship just to have us move away again a few weeks later. So we’ll see how that goes…
Watching the football game with friends in Keystone, CO – I’m not much of a football fan, but you can’t beat that view!
Finally, as the weather gets colder, I really miss my crockpot.
Just kidding. Kind of.
Deschutes River in Bend
Other things, like the lack of our normal doctors, dentists, hair stylists, etc., as well as getting adjusted to the ins and outs of a new place when you feel like you’ve just gotten used to the old one, are also of course a bit of a challenge. Overall, though, these last few months have been exciting and fun, and we are enjoying it immensely. While there are definitely things that we have to do without and things that are a bit of a struggle, the pros do outweigh the cons, and we’re excited to see what the next few months have in store. Stay tuned!