A friend asked me about how Kathy and I began to consider prepare for and experience BOLT (Black Old Lesbians Traveling) life. As I answered her, I decided to also share my answers in this post.
Kathy and I have talked about a life of travel from the moment we met. It was something we always considered. We traveled a lot even while working. We found we travel well together.
In 2014, after years of caring for my mom (an ancestor now) and being at my job for 32 years, Kathy and I set our intention to be”home free” travelers by the time I turned 60 in September 2015.
It took us about a year of preparation and letting go of stuff, property, etc to be ready to hit the road:
- We had yard sales, donated stuff, gifted things to friends. We sold our house and cars.
- We made living wills as well as traditional wills.
- We got bank accounts with no ATM fees (Charles Schwab is good).
- We digitized all our important documents and keep them in the”cloud”.
A few guidelines and agreements we made:
- We could each have one rolling bag, one backpack and one purse which must hold everything we need.
- We limited ourselves to one bin of stuff to save: pictures, mementos from my kids, etc. These are in Kathy’s mom’s garage.
- We made budgets and savings plans.
We talked a lot about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.
Then we set out. The 30 day cruise was the perfect way to begin world travel. We went to over 10 new destinations and traveled from Seattle to Singapore with no jet lag.
I still had too much stuff, broke our 1 rolling bag rule and had to give a bunch more stuff away while traveling. It worked out ok because the the cruise and hotel staff benefited.
After a year in Asia we decided to pursue another dream: RV travel. I love road trips and seeing beautiful North America has been wonderful. But full time RV life is not for me. I like mixing it up with long term stays in foreign countries. I have not found the same connections to community with RV life.
Somethings I’ve learned about myself are:
- I don’t like fast travel. In the beginning we would stay places a week or less and they became a blur.
- I like staying in places long enough to get to know folks, find meetings, activities etc.
- Kathy and I get along well in small spaces but it’s important for us to have solitary time daily. I have quiet time in the morning and I take a solo walk daily.
- I’ve always been a neat freak but in RV life it’s super important. A place for everything and everything in it’s place!
- I’ve learned I don’t need as much stuff or variety of stuff as I thought… cosmetics, vitamins, hair care stuff, jewelry are some of the many things I carry only small quantities of.
I’m not sure if I answered my friend’s questions but these reflections have been rewarding to me and I hope helpful to someone. If you have any questions about a life of home free travel, please email us at email@example.com.
Compared to our last border crossing (Tijuana with a 6 hour line of cars and bomb threats), today’s crossing was a breeze. We left Puerto Penasco this morning around noon headed for the border at Sonoyta.
Sonoyta is a small town in the Mexican state of Sonora. It’s right next to Lukeville, Arizona. The crossing station is only open from 6am to 6pm daily and is little used. There was one car ahead of us when we crossed at 11:30 am.
We had our passports ready and encountered no real problem. A U.S. Department of Agriculture agent did come into Winnie and left with a carton of eggs, some frozen chicken, potatoes and soy chorizo. Had we known we could have left those things in Puerto Penasco. Here’s a link for what foods can be brought from Mexico to the U.S.
The drive after crossing was quite lovely. Lots of cacti and small towns. We took highway 8 all the way. Right now we are spending the night in Campo, California and enjoying a beautiful sunset. One great thing about RV life is that home is where you parked it!
Descanso means rest in Spanish. After 7 lovely days on the road in Baja California, Mexico we crossed over into the mainland. We are currently in the Mexican State of Sonora in the town of Puerto Peñasco.
Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, is a Mexican fishing and resort city on the Gulf of California. It’s known for dune-backed Sandy Beach and Bahía la Choya’s tidal pools.
For BOLT, Puerto Penasco will be a place of rest. We have found a lovely RV park, just blocks from the beach, and plan to stay a month.
Sunset RV park has a beautiful salt water swimming pool, an area for barbeques, laundry facilities and everything else we need.
Kathy and I are looking forward to a wonderful month of descanso and exploration of this part of Mexico. We are very close to the U.S. so please come visit!
I’m too tired and jet lagged to write much but the BOLTs have arrived safely in Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.
We are reunited with the BOLT dog, Kahlo.
And are back in the cozy Winnie.
The trip was grueling with a 5 hour layover in Bangkok and a 12 hour one in Tokyo. We ventured out from Narita Airport, by bus, into Tokyo. I don’t recommend this. The bus ride is 3 hours round trip and all we saw was the big, bustling, business part of Tokyo. We will definitely visit Japan when we have time to explore and enjoy.
We arrived safely in San Diego after a 10 hour flight. From San Diego we enjoyed the Blue Line Trolley which took us right to the Mexican border.
Crossing the border was easy, the Mexican immigration folks are lovely and friendly.
We took a taxi from the border to Ensenada, less than 2 hours, for $80. There are cheaper ways to go (by bus) but we were very tired. We arrived safely at the Mona Lisa RV park. And are enjoying the Pacific Ocean Views.
I love a good road trip and yesterday was the perfect one! We set out in the morning from Inthakin Green Village in Mae Teang. We headed north, destination Chang Dao, just a few kilometers from the Myanmar border.
Most of the drive was along the Ping River which was lovely in itself. We traveled through small villages and lots of lush greenery.
Our first stop in Chang Dao was the temple /home of a local monk. It was wonderful to see him again, he had given us a special blessing a few months ago. We also got to see our friend, Pi Oi, who lives near the monk.
No road trip is complete without delicious food. The gyoza at this small restaurant is amazing!
After our bellies were full, we headed up to this amazing wat (temple) . Called Wat Tam Mung Na, it’s building it built onto a cave. There’s an easy trip up several levels of ramps to the top where you find the cave and are surrounded by soothing chanting and can join in sitting meditation.
Many people come to spend the night or several days in meditation and chanting. There were tents everywhere.
These are the views from the top of the temple.
The temple grounds were very beautiful with lots of amazing statues.
There’s even a cute little coffee shop, which also offered amazing views.
Kathy and I had a truly fabulous day, made even more special because we spent it with people we love. Thank you Wanvisa, Jen and Ajan Sai for a perfect day!
Wiang Kum Kam is a really interesting place to visit in the Chiang Mai area. It is the “old” capital city of Lanna Kingdom before Chiang Mai was founded over 700 years ago. Wiang Kum Kam was frequently flooded, abandoned, buried meters underground and forgotten. It was only recently rediscovered again in 1984 by local villagers, and some of the sites excavated.
The sites are not in one particular location, but spread out through out the village. You can tour the site via horseback carriage, tram, or rent a bicycle. My friend, Lisa, and I visited and enjoyed walking and riding around the different sites. It was very uncrowded and a lovely way to spend a few hours.
I love living in Chiang Mai, there is always something new to see!
“Living that Chiang Mai life!” is a favorite expression of our dear friend, Ken. Kathy and I are truly doing that and it’s a great life!
Folks ask us all the time, where do all these Black folks in Chiang Mai come from?
The answer is the answer that is true for Black folks everywhere…from all across the diaspora.
Many of us are from the U.S. as evidenced by this election watch party, but even then there was a Canadian in the bunch.
We are from South Africa as well as other countries in the Motherland. Some of us are from Europe.
No matter where we come from, we find a lot of joy and community in Chiang Mai.
We participate in community theater; we work as teachers, digital nomads or entrepreneurs. We volunteer and we are students.
We are tourists and residents. Some come for medical care or spiritual growth. Like Kathy and I, many are retired. Some of us stay briefly and some are here for life.
I really wish everyone reading this post could come and experience the beauty of living that Chiang Mai life! Kathy and I are happy to help.