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    Everything Else Fabulous

    Six Months on the Road

    Our travels create alot of data!

    SIX MONTHS DOWN – Interesting Statistics to share

    Well we made it to the sixth month mark.  It hardly seems like it.  I think about where I was six months ago – I had shingles, I was miserable and stressed trying to get everything done to leave the country.  When I think of that it seems like another person.

    Here we are now, our final days in the Seychelles Islands, Chapter Seven of the Grand Adventure.  It’s summer now in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s

    Koh Samui Thailand

    time to head back that direction and spend some time in Europe.  The months ahead are full, and I have no doubt it will be a blink of an eye before I am writing about the one year mark.

    How has it been for six months you ask?  Nearly perfect.  There have been a few bumps.  Two colds and two tummy disorders but nothing earth

    Hua Hin Thailand

    shattering.  Oh and one dog bite.  Grrrrr.

    Here are some fun statistics for you –

    181 days

    9 Countries (*two are airport touchdowns only); United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia*, New Zealand, Australia*, Seychelles

    20 airplane takeoffs

    20 airplane landings (phew!)

    15 Uber rides

    12 Taxi rides

    10 Tuk Tuk rides

    12 Songthaew rides

    Siem Reap Cambodia

    16 Boat rides (including six days and five nights on board the Mekong Sun – Mekong River and one night onboard the White Cloud Halong Bay)

    130 nights in 13  Airbnb’s (most expensive: Koh Samui for 4 people at $187 per night with a car and private pool.  Least expensive: Hua Hin for two people for $43 per night)

    13 nights in 7 hotels

    27 nights in the Kiwi Karavan

    3 nights on overnight flights

    2 nights ‘glamping’ on the Abel Tasmin

    1 night at a sheep farm

    31,800 miles flown

    4250 miles driven

    923  miles walked (an average of 5.1 per day)

    40 books read (Laureen’s list  Arne probably has about the same but he isn’t tracking  we mostly read the same books but not always).

    150 games of Scrabble (estimate)

    Siem Reap Cambodia

    1 dog bite

    Millions of bug bites

    We went over budget in New Zealand but have been able to stay under or right on our $200 a day budget everywhere else.  Asia was cheap.  So even in Thailand where we spent more in lodging for four people it averaged out. Europe will be more expensive, except for Bulgaria.  It’s cheap. One of our Airbnb’s in Bulgaria is only $35 per night.

    Hoi An Vietnam

    When we break out our budget we are averaging per day $86 on lodging, $39 on food (both groceries and dining out) and our airfare expenses average out to about $25 per day.  That’s $150 average per day for essentials.  Leaving $50 per day for other stuff.  This is much cheaper than our daily expenditures living in Gig Harbor.

    Hoi An Vietnam

    Speaking of money – after six months we often need to stop and think what country are we in and what is the current conversion?  I am constantly asking Arne to tell me how much something is, in US dollars, because I can’t seem to keep it straight in my mind.  From Thai Baht to Vietnam Dong to

    Luang Prabang Laos

    Seychelles Rupee it’s a continuous game of “what is the real cost of this orange?” (the answer has varied from 10 cents to 4 dollars). Here’s the rough mental conversions we used;

    One Thai Baht = 3 cents

    8000 Laotian Kip = $1

    20,000 Vietnam Dong = $1

    One New Zealand Dollar = 60 cents

    One Seychelles Rupee = 15 cents

    Hmong village Laos

    In Cambodia they use the US Dollar so that was perfect!  Although strange.  It’s still not clear to me why they no longer use their local currency of Riel.  US dollars came out of cash machines and were excepted everywhere.

    We have been to 3 countries that drive on the left side of the road (Thailand, New Zealand, Seychelles)

    Milford Sound New Zealand

    and 4 countries that drive on the right side (Vietnam, Laos, UAE and Cambodia).  So it’s been a constant struggle to remember which way to look when crossing the street (although in Vietnam you need to look both ways all the time! They drive crazy!).

    Abel Tasman New Zealand

    There are things I miss -well of course family and friends- but it’s the everyday conveniences that I notice.  A good can opener. My French press. My cast iron skillet. Reliable wifi. A screwdriver.  Solid deodorant.  Ovens.  Hot water in the kitchen. And definitely my bike.

    Everyone asks what has been our favorite place and with all honesty we can’t say.  Every place has had its pros and cons.  I wasn’t a big fan of Hanoi – too crowded, noisy and busy- but it still offered interest.

    Seychelle Islands, Praslin

    I loved New Zealand – but even there we dealt with chilly weather and high prices.  So the reality is, it’s all been worthwhile, interesting and amusing.

    We still meet people and hear from people at home who can’t believe we are doing this.  Words like brave, ballsy, adventurous. I don’t see it that way.  Surely it’s not for everyone, but it is not hard, it’s very interesting, it’s exciting and relaxing at the same time.

    Seychelle Islands

    I often think about the times in our lives when we discussed Arne changing jobs and moving our family to places like Chicago, Huntsville, Oklahoma City and even Australia. Had we made any of those choices we would have left everything behind – it’s not all that different to be out here traveling –  in fact it’s easier. We have very few cares in the world, except the occasional online issues and occasional banking or credit card issues.  We have no bills to pay, no house to maintain. We live cheaply and

    Time together as a family

    don’t need much.  It’s a very simple life.  We are making memories and enjoying experiences that we find very valuable.  We couldn’t be happier.

    We enjoy each other’s company and don’t take that for granted – it’s the best part about the adventure.

    Time together as a couple

    So, time to say farewell to the Seychelles, by far the most remote destination we have been too – a little too remote in all honesty.  But it was fun and quiet and beautiful. And ever so relaxing.  Chapter Eight – Bulgaria, here we come. We depart on May 29th.

    Note – in this blog I have chosen to include two favorite photos from each country.  Wow was that hard to do! 


    Fab North America Travel

    The End of the Road

    Chapter Four – Farewell to 66

    Location: Route 66

    We found it. The Pacific Ocean.

    2448 miles from Chicago we arrived today at the terminus of Route 66, Santa Monica California.

    Like many people before us, coming to the end of the road was sentimental yet satisfying. Not everyone can say they have made the entire trek, and not everyone would want to.  But we now are part of the “club” and I loved it all.


    The start of Route 66 in downtown Chicago


    One of the slowest and most winding sections from Kingman to the California border

    Standing in the middle of downtown Chicago seems so long ago. Then I really didn’t know what we would find. Parts of the road were long and straight. Parts of the road were rough and complicated. It’s a metaphor for life really. Today as I stood  in Santa Monica and enjoyed the Pacific breeze it was a feeling of accomplishment.  A task done and complete. Total miles since leaving home 8200. Six weeks and one day


    A former roadside attraction – live lions – in Two Guns, Arizona

    I learned a lot about American history on this trek. I felt apart of the salt of the earth people who make our country great. It’s not a myth or legend – America is great and vast because of its people. We met a wide variety of Americans. Midwesterners bustling in the streets of Chicago. Cowboys in Texas. Snowbirds in Arizona. Surfers in Santa Monica.

    From Chicago to LA. From Lake Michigan to the Pacific. From St. Louis to Oklahoma City. From Amarillo to Albuquerque. From Flagstaff to Barstow to Santa Monica. The terrain, weather and food is as varied as the people.


    Burrows wander the streets of the old mining town Oatman in Arizona

    I wish more Americans would see the whole country from this road, or any road. There is so much to appreciate. The sunsets. The flora. The food. The patriotism.  The architecture. Fascinating and fabulous all.


    We added our names to the sign post at Cool Springs Camp Arizona

    And so with fondness we say farewell to Route 66 and turn north for the first time in over 8200 miles. We begin our drive back to Washington State. With a For Sale sign in the window of pretty pink Betty as we near the end of Chapter Four.

    But before we close this Chapter, a few more adventures are ahead. We make a right hand turn right onto another historic road – Hwy 1.  Another week heading north.

    Note – A big shout out to Mrs. O’Neils Sunday School Class (Grades 3-5)  at Gig Harbor United Methodist Church who have been following our journey on Route 66 as they study the 66 chapters of the Bible.  I love that they were able to find the journey both educational and spiritual.

    Fab North America Travel

    Midway Route 66

    Chapter Four – Adrian Texas

    Location: Route 66

    Yesterday marked one month on the road and we rolled on past 6000 miles.  I was thinking about Saskatchewan. It seems like a lifetime ago.

    But today we mark another milestone – the midway point on Route 66. Adrian Texas marks the middle at 1139 miles.

    I am enjoying this drive tremendously – even though I once again wish we had more time. Driving on Route 66 our speed is rarely more than 45 mph. The parts of the original road or the second generation road that is still accessible is usually narrow and IMG_6174rough. But oh so fascinating.

    Often the road parallels the freeway. But not always. Long stretches of the road are straight, especially through Oklahoma and Texas. But other stretches IMG_6162are winding and rolling like in Missouri. Much of the road – both the driveable parts and the non-driveable parts are the original Portland concrete. It’s interesting when paralleling the interstate Route 66 is rolling up and down while the freeway has been filled in to be a constant grade.

    We were moving along on the original road today in the Texas panhandle when suddenly Route 66 IMG_6205turned to gravel. That was a surprise. This was the Jericho Gap. Famous for historically swallowing cars in the mud. Lucky for us it was dry.

    We’ve lost the road a couple of times, although the small brown historic way-finding signs are numerous and helpful. Until we got to Texas and they disappeared altogether. We got really lost in Tulsa because multiple versions of the old road crisscross the downtown.IMG_6014

    The maps I ordered online have been helpful in keeping us on or as close to the original “mother road” as possible.  And best of all the maps guide us to cool sites of importance from the old days: service stations, motels, diners. For the most part these cool sites are no longer operational. A few are. And a few have been restored by the Route 66 National Historical Association. Others are dilapidated and ghostlike – in fact some towns like Texola Oklahoma are entire ghost towns – lost in time after Interstate 40 went through. Just like in the movie “Cars”.IMG_6187

    I love old stuff.  I fully admit I have an active imagination and always have.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy creative writing.  My imagination is on overdrive out here.  I imagine the thousands – probably millions – of people who have driven this road before me.  Of course I think about the Joad family and all those real people like them. I imagine post war convertibles, with a blonde woman her hair covered with a scarf sitting next to her husband who wears a driving cap. My mind thinks about a family in a station wagon, not unlike my own family in the 1960’s, on a summer vacation.  Perhaps heading west to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland.IMG_5821

    And then I think about the towns and the people who are the towns.  The lucky ones whose livelihood came from the road bringing guests into their community and their businesses. And then I think of the others whose world was shattered when the interstate killed their town and their dreams.

    As children we learned about Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Trail and manifest destiny.  To me the history I am driving on is just as important.  An IMG_5718important piece of American history – not just an icon or a piece of Americana but a significant part of the building of the America we know today – the development of cars, roads, technology, commerce

    I admire it, revere it, cherish it for it’s importance while my imagination embraces it and feels it and all those who have come before me.



    Fab North America Travel

    Filling in the Donut Hole

    Chapter Four – OKLAHOMA

    Location: Oklahoma

    If you’ve been a reader of My Fab Fifties Life for awhile you probably remember when I wrote about The Donut Hole of my life – Oklahoma.

    Feel free to read that blog again (link here) but basically Oklahoma has been the one hold out state that has eluded me all these years.

    Until today.

    Check! Today I can proudly claim that not only have I visited Oklahoma, I’ve visited all 50 states.image

    Accomplishing this, on Route 66, with pink Betty and my best friend and husband is a Fab Fifty moment to remember!  Worth stopping the car and being silly on the side of the road.

    Because it will never happen again. Oklahoma is fabulous!

    Go. Be. Fabulous!