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Author: Marlaina (Page 1 of 18)

New & Improved

Port St. Lucie, Fla.

We’ve rested. We’re refreshed. Life with No Fixed Address is reborn.

Naw! The shitstorm that is 2015 has subsided a little. And well, I want, even need, to talk about it.

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Trying to stuff 2015 down the infamous Fargo, N.D. woodchipper. We’ve been passing the Visitor Center, home of the woodchipper, made famous in the movie Fargo, for years. We stopped in July for some anxiety management.

You may recall, there has been one post so far in 2015. Our pre-India post. We went, we saw, we returned. To chaos. But we have stories to tell, tips to pass along and photos to share. And we’ll bring you up to date on our year so far.

Since the blog was on the shelf so long, and Belledog complained, MacGyver decided we should have a new look. We have switched from a Squarespace format to WordPress. And we need an easier-to-use format so we can post in a timely manner. The format will showcase the photos with the stories.

This WordPress template allows readers to receive an email message when a new post has been uploaded.  Click on “follow” and add your email address.

Of course, in keeping with the theme of 2015 — one step forward, one-and-a-half-back — the switch has been aggravating for MacGyver. First there’s a problem sorting out the pages. Then the text from the previous posts has been imported, but there’s an issue with some of the photos. Realistically that may or may not happen. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. If not, oh well.

We will try to add the older posts and photos to this new site, but until then the old posts can be found here.

In the meantime, Life with No Fixed Address has been resuscitated.

India Separates Weak from Worthy

North Bend, Wash.

The Indian visa application was a test. We passed, barely.

Known around the world for its British-designed, stultifying bureaucracy, the visa process was riddled with inconsistencies, incongruencies, mis- and dis-information. That it was a test of wits and that we survived, is the only way to think about the three-day battle with the on-line application form and the eight-day battle on the phone with the Cox and Kings call center in Mumbai when my passport disappeared in the paper shuffle.

Black Beauty is driven hard — as hard as we can at 58 mph — and put away wet. One last early morning wash in North Bend, WA to remove the winter road salt before she’s stabled. We’ll be riding tuk tuks, taxis and rickshaws for the next few weeks.

 

India has been promising Visa-On-Arrival for its tourism visitors for years. Visa -on-Arrival means a traveler, bearing a passport granted by her home country presents herself and her passport to an Immigration Officer. Because her home-country has given her a passport, and with a payment of no money or a small amount of money, $50 to $150, the country she wants to visit her grants entry for a tourism visit.

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What Hazard Lurks In That Number?

Port St. Lucie, Florida

Famous for his fanatical attention to detail, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan jolted us from our sleeper berth by an egregious error.

How do I know this? Because I have an almost-expired Hazardous Materials endorsement on my Commercial Drivers License.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, cafe that appeared in Season 2 of Breaking Bad as drug overlord Tuco's office.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico, cafe that appeared in Season 2 of Breaking Bad as drug overlord Tuco’s office.

We cannot pull a HazMat load without this endorsement. And we cannot get this endorsement without a background check, which includes fingerprints — yet again, for a fee, of course. Since we have been driving, this is the fourth fingerprint and background check that we’ve paid for, and they are not cheap.

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Laughing, and Crying, All the Way to the Bank

Woods Hole, Mass.

Our freight-cation began in Washington state.

While we were without cashflow for four weeks after my mother died, it was the return to our routine that we needed. MacGyver quickly landed a coast-to-coast team run. A four-day, 3,300 mile passage across 13 states.

The second night of our freight-cation, and the night before we picked up Jason in Newport, Ore., we stopped at Boiler Bay and enjoyed Salena's Roasted Pork Loin.

The second night of our freight-cation, and the night before we picked up Jason in Newport, Ore., we stopped at Boiler Bay and enjoyed Salena’s Roasted Pork Loin.

Because of the decision we made 20 years ago, a few months before my father died, we had no money stress during this emotional time. Back then we were a few months into our new lifestyle, based on the FUF principle — Fuck You Funds — and madly paying down more than $25,000 in debt before we could start saving. Half way to our goal, we had started accumulating some savings, enough to handle last minute expenses and help my mother, without going into our credit cards. Fast forward to this summer, the peace-of-mind that we “bought” with our savings is worth the effort of a savings-first, cash-only lifestyle. Still, we knew, getting back on the road was essential.

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Memory Lane: Delightful, Tearful Surprises

My mother never said I love you. She was a doer.

Who stays up around-the-clock, four days, applying hot compresses laced with olive oil to conquer a sports injury? Who scours the heat registers for pennies to buy lentils and beans for dinner since she used the last of the paycheque to pay for a ballet tutu or piano, flute and guitar lessons or sports equipment for four children? Who makes you pay back a loan, used to cover my rent after a car crash, and sends the demand letter certified mail to teach me to save money? My mother who loved us.

The original 1929 tickets that brought my mother, Anna Betnaza, from Poland to Southhampton, England to Canada. My grandmother traveled with three children. The cost in today's dollars is a little more than $4,000.

The original 1929 tickets that brought my mother, Anna Betnaza, from Poland to Southhampton, England to Canada. My grandmother traveled with three children. The cost in today’s dollars is a little more than $4,000.

Mothers save everything. It was her last gift. The letters, cards and baubles that I sent her, from far flung locations, Cairo-to-Bangkok, assure me that I had been a good daughter. A daughter she shooed away at 17: “There’s nothing for you in a small town,” she told me.

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Anna Has Left The Building

Tiny and tough, my mother was feisty and fiercely independent.

She used to say, “no one gets out of this world alive”. She didn’t either. She died in July. A fall in her beloved garden — her foot got caught in the tomato cages — unleashed a cascade of complications. She was 87.

My mother's life was bookended by two incredible extremes. She walked barefoot to a one-room schoolhouse until she was 12. During her last 15 years, like every hipster, her life revolved around the Internet.

My mother’s life was bookended by two incredible extremes. She walked barefoot to a one-room schoolhouse until she was 12. During her last 15 years, like every hipster, her life revolved around the Internet.

Born in a time when women were seen as a weaker, softer farm hand, my mother, Anna Betnaza, embraced challenge. She chose a life’s path of learning and enlightenment. And she encouraged me to be bold.

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A Wheel Story About Wheel Men and Women

New Orleans, Louisiana

Twenty-six floors below me, the freighters winding along the Mississippi river through New Orleans, dodging the paddle wheelers teaming with tourists, seemed touchable.

Riders at the 22nd annual AmeriVespa rally in New Orleans line up to witness a scooter wedding. California scooteress Cynthia marries Philly scooter guy Christian.

Riders at the 22nd annual AmeriVespa rally in New Orleans line up to witness a scooter wedding. California scooteress Cynthia marries Philly scooter guy Christian.

Several hundred Vespa owners converged at the Hilton Riverside for the 22nd annual AmeriVespa rally in mid-June. Scooters, ranging from grandfather vintage to tricked-out with rocket launcher signal-lights, or in nautical attire and, of course, our modern classic, cruised the Big Easy.

This rally, which included a scooter ride around Lake Ponchartrain and a scooter wedding, has been on MacGyver’s To Do list for three years. We missed Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and San Diego, California. Continue reading

Almost Ready

Sebring, Florida

I am obsessed. With a Facebook page. Two actually.

Road Talk and Trucker’s Weather Updates and Road Conditions.

So complete is my obsession that MacGyver is waking every morning to his coffee, served in his red Ferrari mug, and my crash report.

This was a routine winter drive on US87 enroute to Great Falls, Montana in January 2013. But winter conditions this year seem anything but routine. Two Facebook pages which report weather and road conditions for big truck drivers, including multi-vehicle pileups has become my staycation obsession.

This was a routine winter drive on US87 enroute to Great Falls, Montana in January 2013. But winter conditions this year seem anything but routine. Two Facebook pages which report weather and road conditions for big truck drivers, including multi-vehicle pileups has become my staycation obsession.

“I need to unfriend them,” I tell him almost every day. “It’s freaking me out.”

It’s, like, an addiction that I feed it several times a day. There have been so many storms this winter and consequently many horrific crashes. Before Facebook I knew there were big truck crashes, I saw evidence of crashes, but there was no play-by-play.

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So Long Cali, It’s Been Good To Know You

Las Vegas, Nevada

The words from my favorite movie, Sound of Music, danced in my brain as we departed California before the first stroke of 2014.

“There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall, and the bells in the
steeple too…. Regretfully they tell us, but firmly they compel us, to say goodbye to you.”

Oh, we loved you California, even though the freight out often sucked, stranding us for more than a week.

While millions of people devour and depend on the goods and services and jobs that we bring, there is a serious lack of big truck parking. The constant road construction is never enough, the highways are dilapidated making it impossible to sleep on some routes.

One of the joys of spring in California. Fresh picked, fragrant, succulent strawberries in April and crisp, crunchy sweet peas. All a Vespa ride from the Lodi, California Flying J on I-5.

One of the joys of spring in California. Fresh picked, fragrant, succulent strawberries in April and crisp, crunchy sweet peas. All a Vespa ride from the Lodi, California Flying J on I-5.

The bad was tempered by the great. The velvety, Leprechaun-green hillsides of spring that seemed to infuse oxygen into a winter-weary body. The succulent, red Spring strawberries, hours from the fields to the fruit stands. Great salads in almost every restaurant — Lodi, CA at the Fox and Hounds has the best Sunday brunch omelette bar I have ever seen, they have roasted garlic — and the deliciously, languorous bike path along the water’s edge in Long Beach.

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2013: New Sights New Heights

Tucson, Arizona

It likely comes as no surprise that I am a goal-oriented person. And the end of the year is my finish line.

I believe in aiming high. When I aim high, I come out farther ahead than when I’ve aimed more realistically. I have learned that writing my goals down on paper, specific goals with numbers and details attached and putting them in my wallet, keeps me on target. And most importantly MacGyver has learned that my goals are his goals. (“Get on board or get left behind,” is his translation.)

2013 - New Sights New Heights

Dancing on the Louisiana bayou, not far from Henderson, at Whiskey Creek. Where the oldsters out maneuvered the youngsters, dancing up a storm to the Zydeco Bands.

Since my birthday is at the end of the year, my favorite present is my yearly review. How did we do?

WE Inc. is celebrating. We did a lot of stuff this year. There was fun. There was business. There were issues. And as my husband likes to say, with an astonished inflection in his voice, we’re still married.

We traveled new roads with Black Beauty. She was on the BC Ferries to Vancouver Island to deliver a chiller to the Victoria, British Columbia (BC) Target store. We crawled up the mountain, literally, 13.5 kilometers on a forest service road above Squamish, BC where an eco-power generation station is under construction.

2013 - New Sights New Heights

“You have the right-a-way Captain.” I drove onto the taxiway at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to make our delivery.

The craziest delivery was at O’Hare airport near Chicago where we delivered a jet bridge to gate E2 and I drove across the taxiway between the arriving and departing jets. And in five years on the road, it afforded us our first opportunity to visit Chicago. We found downtown, off-street, secure parking and launched our Brompton bicycles to ride along Lake Michigan on its glorious biking and walking path. We will be back to take the architectural boat tour. It is a beautiful city that comes alive in the summer.

2013 - New Sights New Heights

We finally made it. We had been driving around Chicago in all directions for more than five years but we had never visited Chicago. It was a glorious weekend, we rode our bikes on the bike path around the Lake.

While our trip to Hay River, Northwest Territories, the home of Buffalo Air at the 60th Parallel was exciting for us Canadians who never expected to ever see the place, my favorite stop was Lafayette, Louisiana.

Our last visit to Louisiana was in New Orleans at Christmas 2010 where we made the most of a bad situation when Black Beauty had a major transmission repair under warranty, but it was an incomplete visit. We did no dancing and I heard no music because we were on a strict 3 AM and 3 PM  driving schedule delivering expedited air freight.

MacGyver discovered a real treat this summer, a Sunday afternoon, because I still don’t stay up very late, four o’clock to eight o’clock dance fest at the Whiskey River Saloon along the bayou. We drove the Vespa about 30 miles out of Lafayette to a corrugated metal shack leaning jauntily toward the water. Inside, the wood floor was rubbed smooth by years of pounding cowboy boots. The best part, it was all ages, but mostly oldsters. When I say oldsters, I mean older than me oldsters. Feet were flying, stomping, sliding and kicking.

This year MacGyver turned 50 and he celebrated, often. There was the up close inspection of the Yas Marina Formula One race track in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the view of the Coca-Cola 600 from a luxury condo above the track, the load that brought us within a one hour Vespa ride of the Austin, Texas Formula One race.

It wasn’t just fun. We advanced our small business by making two big purchases. Early in the year, we added a 51 foot Fontaine step deck trailer to our equipment roster. Instead of paying $170 a week to rent the trailer, we are now paying ourselves $200 a week to pay back our loan from WE Inc. By owning our trailer, we get an extra eight percent of the load. This year I paid ourselves back $8,250 for the trailer purchase and we brought in more than $10,000 in extra revenue. My first priority for 2014 is to finish repaying our savings account.

In November, we added a conestoga-style rolling tarp system to our trailer and loading ramps, costing almost $26,000. The tarp is on a frame. We push the frame and tarp forward to load the trailer, then push it back, cinch it closed and we’re off, saving time and energy. A businesswoman friend calls it a revenue-generating insurance policy. If either one of us gets hurt, it affects our income. We owe our savings $20,000 with interest and it will be repaid at $150 a week for three years.

Most importantly, we again reached our top goal of every year. We deposited our maximum retirement contributions. In my mind, the only money a small businessowner really makes, is the money that is set aside for investing in the future and providing for the business.

2013 - New Sights New Heights

We delivered a building, literally, up the mountain, above Squamish British Columbia in August. We drove 13.5 kilometers up a Forest Service Road. It was very steep, up and down, and the view was incredible.

My financial plan is simple. Each year I decide how much will go into savings and investments. We have learned to never pay interest to others. I cover the fixed business costs, such as insurance, permits, plates and the variable costs, repairs and maintenance and supplies and then we spend the rest. If we need something for the business and we don’t have the cash, we put off all personal spending. So, the downside, the Marlaina-is-no-fun side, is that there is no exotic winter holiday this winter. We’ll be sitting in Florida, I-know-it-could-be-worse, selling crap on eBay.

Thank you for joining us on our travels this past year.

For 2014, we wish you health, happiness, and success in reaching your goals.

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