Shipping day!

One of the most asked questions about our move to South Africa is “how do you get your stuff there?”

Well, you use a shipping container and it goes by boat.

There are moving companies that you can hire to do an international move. This container is a 20ft one, and we filled it (mostly) with our 2 bedroom house, all our camping/overlanding gear, and some extra furniture from my wife’s parents. You can also pay for a partial container, but you might have to wait for somebody else to fill the other portion which may add a delay in receiving your items.

In our case, after loading, the container was trucked to the Port of Tacoma where it will ship from. It’ll go through the Panama Canal and on to Durban, SA; from there, it’ll be loaded onto a truck and shipped to Joburg. It’s quite a process…

Is it expensive? Yes and no. It’s about $7000 U.S. to do this. But, when you factor in the cost of replacing your possessions with all new items, it’s a good value. Ours came to the price because we boxed our house up ourselves, and then they loaded it into the container. You can change packages where they pack and load, or where you do everything yourself (they just bring the container to load and you’re responsible for loading it.

We used International Sea and Air Shipping. Natasha’s parents used them last year and had a good experience, so it was an easy choice. They brought the container to where we needed it and provided a crew that sorted, manifested, and loaded our packed boxes into it. It ended up being a six hour process. The crew does everything, you just watch.

If all goes well, it will be a month from door to door. In September, I can post up how it worked and in what in condition everything arrived.

I will say, it is a strange feeling right in the middle of the stomach watching the door close and be locked knowing how close we are to the actual move…

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Beer and doughnuts filled with ice cream!

What?

Yes, you heard that right. lowercase brewing in Seattle did doughnuts from Side Hustle Doughnuts filled with ice cream last night.

Good beer. Good treats.

It wasn’t a food and beer pairing night, but I asked which beer they would recommend with the orange honeycomb doughnut; they suggested their Belgium Witbier… perfect combo.

Home! Home! Home!

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The full moon slips into the Valley night just above Mt. Blanca, the rocky peaks doing their best to hold it down. In the winter, the mountain casts a shadow over the valley floor as the sun struggles to get over it. Then, in the evening, the snow on the peaks goes cold and pink, competing with the sunset over the San Juans.

That mountain, if anything, visually signifies that I’m home, even before I’ve actually reached Alamosa.

The Valley is a harsh. Winters can be cold. -20*F cold. The summers hot. And the wind. The wind. It blows most of the year, but especially late winter and through the spring. It cuts across the Valley floor from the southwest corner diagonally to the peaks of the Sangre de Cristos in the northeast. Constant. Wind. It carries all the topsoil and sand and dirt, grinding at your skin, blasting your eyes, until it all gets caught up in the Sand Dunes.

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Great Sand Dunes

The wind is the only thing I hate about home.

I love the mountains all the way around; I’ve lived the majority of my life with horizons blocked by these mountains. The sky is blue. Blue. Not azure or sky blue, or some crayon color, just blue. It’s the blue of living at 7500ft, of being able to scrape your hand into it, parting it open to see the Milky Way behind the sun’s glare. Day, night, the skies are stunning.

In the summer, the fields of alfalfa, barley, potatoes… stand green in contrast to the tan, gray, muted olive of the rest of the Valley floor. The big sprinklers in the field spray water in huge arcs, making rainbows on clear days. It’s something to see, a place so dry and brown for so much of the year explode into an agricultural buzz: sometimes, I’m not sure the crops should be there.

And I could go on: about deer, elk, and pronghorn, about frogs singing all night in flooded fields, about the sound of the dirt beneath your feet when you walk out in the country, about carp slowly sliding along the bottom of the Rio Grande as it bends through Alamosa…

It’s home.

I moved to Seattle, WA 7 years ago and life has made it difficult to return. It’s a remote place that takes hours to get to (a flight of 3hrs followed by a drive of 4hrs); a weekend visit isn’t easy. Add a few other life things, and it’s become easy not to return.

Within this move to South Africa, there was also a plan about me and home. With Paige heading back to live with her mom during the school year, we have set it up so that we visit my parents at the end of this month, and spend every other Christmas with her and my parents. This is important to us.

Like many people from there, the sky and landscape has a pull on me… I can’t wait to stand near Mt. Blanca again.

Paige, Paige, the Giggling Machine

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After moving out of the house that we were renting in Seattle, we decided to clean it ourselves. Seven hours of cleaning. Seven. It was hot. We started at the top floor and moved down to the bottom while saving the kitchen ’til last. To make it more efficient, we divided ourselves into different jobs for each room. We had Paige on her hands and knees doing the baseboard. She washed the walls. Swept. Scrubbed. Sweated.

It was time for dinner when we finished, but, we knew that we’d have to come back that night to finish off a few things outside. I decided that we would eat, then leave Natasha behind, and Paige and I would return late to finish. I looked at Paige as I was saying it and said, “Besides, there’s only two Magnum bars left in the freezer and we can’t just throw them out.” Her face stretched around a huge smile and out bubbled her giggle. That’s Paige.

No matter how tired she is, or how bad the day is, there is always something to make her smile and laugh.

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She has lived with me and Natasha since I moved to Seattle and she now wants to live with her mom in Colorado. It’s an urge for home: the night skies of the San Luis Valley, the San Juan Mountains, Mt. Blanca to the east. It’s the same pull, of earth and scent and sunset red, of home, that drives Natasha’s desire to return to Africa. The Valley has it’s windy hands around Paige’s heart.

Her mom lives in her home town. Paige has spent every summer with her, and school years with us. We knew that she would want to change that, and be with her mom more. Her conversations with her mom are different than what she has with us; they talk and gossip for hours at a time. When Paige is with her they are silly together, go camping, ride bikes or run through their small town. As time has gone, and especially when her sister, Zoe, headed off to college, she really wanted to be with her mom more. After the summer vacation the year her sister graduated, she asked to flip the schedule so that she would be with us during the summer and with her mom during the school year. We, of course, said yes…

And with that, the first piece fell for us to move to South Africa. Her asking to change her schedule was a quick acting catalyst; we’d talked about living in South Africa, but only after Paige was out of high school. With this, we fast tracked the idea.

Like our customer said, if your pursue your dreams for the right reason, then the benefits spill over to those that you love. Paige gets to go home; then every summer she gets to travel southern Africa. Who can argue against that?

Soon, she’ll be giggling somewhere out on the savannah; I’m sure the hyena will enjoy the laughing competition.

Packing, packing, packing!

We’re out of the house we rented in Seattle and in our temporary place in Edmonds. The truck sold, our stuff is in storage waiting for the day it gets loaded in a shipping container. Everything is manifested and getting organized. I don’t think we’ll fill the container though.

It’s odd to have all our possessions in boxes knowing we won’t see them again for months.

We still have much to do and things to dream about (like shopping for the next adventure mobile,getting the next business running); and, of course, more to write about.

Zoe’s Big Ass Trip to South Africa

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Toward the end of our shop, we had a customer discover us as she was walking around the neighborhood. As she became more and more regular, Natasha broke the news to her that we were closing so that we could move to South Africa. She smiled excitedly said: “Well, when you pursue your dreams, and you do it for the right reasons, it benefits all of the people that you love.”

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This is Zoe, my oldest daughter. She moved out of the house and headed to college. She wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do other than she wanted to work with plants. And so she immersed herself in botany and forestry. And loved it all. Except, she realized that she didn’t know what she could do or wanted to do with that field of study. So she talked, and thought, and talked, and dreamed, and pondered… and decided she like the idea of having her own small organic farmer.

Yup, she wants to be Farmer Ted.

But, you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars of debt to be a farmer. More talking, more thinking, listening to advice… and she decided to take a break from school. Then, she landed a perfect job at a locally owned nursery/garden center, working with plants that are edibles.

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Of course, working with plants every day, getting quizzed by her boss about them, helping customers and giving them advice means that her knowledge of plants and growing them has blossomed. I hear it. I see it. She knows how much light a kiwi tree needs to produce fruit. She can identify leaves, tell when a plant has a fungus infection vs. sunburn, or when one is begging for nutrients. All of this excites her…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what does this have to do with South Africa. Well, one day Natasha was talking to a customer and telling her our story. When Zoe came up, and Natasha was talking to the lady about her wanting to farm, the lady asked if Zoe was going to do WWOOF. We had never heard of it, but as always, the internet saved the day. We found WWOOF, read about it, forwarded it to Zoe, and we all started to research it. As luck would have it, some of the participants were interviewed on a South African radio station and our family there heard it.

It’s a volunteer program where one can work on an organic farm for room and board while being taught farming techniques and the skills to run a business. It’s like somebody listened to her dreams and built a program around them.

We paid for her passport, paid the fees to join WWOOF, and now she is ready to contact organic farms to volunteer on. She can experience all of this while being fairly close to us. She can see us on days off and we can plan a holiday with her. Perfect.

We may have not known about WWOOF if it wasn’t for us planning and talking about moving to South Africa…

I can’t wait to see her in SA. But, I really want to see what she’ll grow there.

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