Our time here in PA is coming to a close. We, or at least I have been here about two weeks (one of which I had the nasty flu which I am still suffering with), and I’m getting more frustrated and antsy by the day. PA, especially southern PA is not my choice of places to be, today it’s humid, made worse by an Urban Heat Island effect and overrun by the unpleasant sounds of suburbia (lawn equipment, sirens, young children screaming, and traffic). I actually came inside just now as the neighbor (20ft away) decided to fire up his massive John Deere Riding mower to cut his .002 acre lawn that was just cut two days ago. I swear suburbanites need to have this information on lawns imprinted into their minds between “Overbreeding” and McMansions, how to Fit 6000sq ft on a Postage Stamp” While the scene is very Stepford Wives-esque in it’s neatness I associate myself as being akin to placing a freshwater fish in briny water….it might not die quick, but it will suffer. While Maine does induce flashbacks of unhappiness, it does have many happy places that I would really enjoy to see again.
So where are we going and what are we doing next?
Option 1 and most immediate: We are getting on the Appalachian trail again this Monday night and heading north. Our initial plan was to simply store the cruiser and hike north but given the need to possibly return if one of Autumn’s family members run into a complication with a risky cancer treatment we will have the cruiser and a spare car. Essentially we will park each car one week apart and hike to them, shuttling and leapfrogging on up to Maine. While this is not how I had hoped to hike the trail, and it does add a level of worry and complication, it does also add a level of ease, and the cost is essentially the same as not using the car if not less (no shuttles, storage fees, postage for bounce box).
Once we hit Maine the end of the summer, we hope to spend some time cleaning out the storage unit and get rid of some stuff as well as to gain some more liquidity with selling some stuff, essentially paying for the unit another year.
Option 2: While we hope to hike the AT to Maine we are not 100% committed to the arrangement. Having added the vehicles and other complications the purity has been lost for me. The hot weather is also making an appearance, and the idea of carrying 30 lbs over mountains in high heat and humidity does not sound like fun, so we may hike for a while and head north just hitting a few of the notable locations like the Long Trail, Whites, Bigalow, and 100 Mile Wilderness. If we did this, we would have more time to sort/sell the unit, and we would spend more time in Maine visiting family, camping and recreating in the state.
Option 3: Employment, this is a wildcard. I have applied for 9 jobs. 8 Forest Resource Officer jobs and one for the Customs and Border Patrol. The prior 8 fit my long term goal, the last was done on a whim as it would pay off my student loans eliminating the need to simply have them forgiven in 15 years, further buffer a nest egg and get me further ahead in life, even if it would be a VERY DIFFICULT assignment for me given my world views against Trump and his illegal policies. The CBP job would be located in extreme NW Maine (tempering the workplace culture as I already dislike the the older isolationist Quebecois) and as it’s considered a hardship post would be paid an additional 25% on top of the 25% federal LEO pay which is on top of an already good pay…essentially $75k per year with each year raising $10k for 5 years to a max pay of approximately $125k yr…..in a community with nothing to spend it on. The other jobs are seasonal, $15hr jobs with little responsibility and located in the national forests out west. If anything comes through plans change. I do need to look at my future as I have none at this point. If anyone has any job offers, please let me know!!
Option 4: The Cross Country road trip. We are going out west one way or another. We are considering driving to Maine, sorting the storage unit, visiting my family for a few weeks and then heading westward till we hit the ocean. This will happen eventually as this winter we are planning on living out there. How soon is the question, I would rather not hit the Rocky Mountains in December.
Option 5: Canada, yeah this is a stretch. We still want to go north and become Canadians. I can’t do it alone, and I’ve learned that I am essentially worthless to the Canadain govt. I have no skills of value which leave my employment shy wife to take up the reigns once again. Time will tell if this can happen.
Looking to the future we have a lot of options, but also not many in many ways. We would be exploring the southwest right now and enjoying the cool snowy mountains if it was not for Autumn’s family and the unfortunate circumstances. It’s been a hardship giving up our dreams to sit around and try to be helpful but not be appreciated for our sacrifices and even yelled at times. This was not the plan when we sold the house 6 months ago, but life happens. We planned on Baja, that did not happen. So much has not happened and we really need to get our shit together to make it happen. This has been the cause of my funk recently I just can’t sit around watching my dreams like the rest of my life slip away waiting for someone else.