May 22, 2014

Life After "The Big Adventure"

In January we loaded The 4Runner into a shipping container and sent it back to the US via Miami, where we will reunite with it soon.  We are trying to establish a new homebase in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where all of Shannon's family has migrated to over the years.  Shannon will go back to nursing and Brenton will explore other opportunities while he tries to get back into the fire service.

Well, things are quickly shaping up for us and we're slowly immersing ourselves in our own culture.  It’s impossible not to have a different perspective than we once had before heading south.  Our attitudes have certainly changed for the better and this grand journey has opened our hearts and minds more than we could anticipate.  

I have found that I have a very difficult time talking about our experience in Latin America.  I have learned to avoid the discussion completely unless someone else brings it up.  The reason is that I can go on and on about it for hours, and eventually I realize that my words have fallen on deaf ears. The truth of the matter is that most people will never grasp what it means to go on a journey like this, unless they have done something similar.  We all get so caught up in our own daily grind that we really don't even care to look at a life outside our own experience.  Occasionally people will find out we did this big trip and start asking a few questions. Even though they ask questions, they often don’t care for an authentic response and they usually just want to hear what was our favorite country or if we've ever been robbed or murdered (P.S. we weren't).  For these reasons, I really don't talk about it unless I feel someone is really interested and asks the right questions.  So here I am, with this amazing experience that I can rarely talk about, unless I'm around other people who "get it".  The struggle is real.

Unloading the 4Runner at home.  Finally a place to work on it.

Our priorities have shifted.  If the past two years has taught us anything, it's that the people around us are what makes us happy.  With that being said, we miss all of the friends that we have met on this adventure, but hopefully we will reconnect soon.  We also miss the Pacific Northwest along with our friends and family there. For now this is where we are.  

Family bon-fires and burning brush is becoming a regular tradition.

This is why we've chosen to be in North Carolina, to be near Shannon’s parents and work on the next chapter of our lives.  To grow and build and be creative as a family…and yes, that includes starting a family of our own.  This two year journey has also presented us with some really interesting opportunities and projects that we’re really excited to work on.  We've been invited to do speaking engagements, sharing our story and also be featured in a few publications which is a weird feeling.  We've also had several opportunity to help and mentor others who are planning similar journeys or preparing for big expeditions.  it's all so surreal, but we've realized that at this point that it just flows naturally and we just want to encourage others to explore responsibly and have a great experience while they're doing it. We've also hooked up with a few great nonprofits doing disaster relief work, which has been an amazing experience.

Building bridges and putting in work on the family property.

After two years away from family, we are really enjoying the time we spend here and we no longer separate our friends and family into two distinctive groups.  We're also trying to take the time to enjoy some "micro-adventures" to occasionally scratch the itch and stoke our curiosity of unfamiliar places.

The view off the back porch (photo credit: Ned Hibberd)
Sunset over Mt. Pisgah (photo credit: Ned Hibberd)

The family homestead is on 25 peaceful acres of pasture and temperate forest with an incredible view of the Appalachian Mountains (it's actually pronounced Aaa-puh-lah-chun).  There is so much to see and do in this area, exploring this unfamiliar part of our own country.  We have been very busy at Shannon's parent's property, trying to increase our self-sufficiency and help them build a mini-farm so we can surround ourselves with good food and good people.  It's also been incredible to be back with our dogs and they have really taken to the property, with plenty of space to run and explore.

UPDATE: in 2019 after years of struggling with climbing rents and insane property values, we finally lucked out and found a place of our own.  We bought a house on an acre, with a big yard surrounded by woods and pasture.  There's even a detached workshop with a loft above which we hope to turn into a rental someday.  We're super grateful that we found this place before it hit the market and we were BARELY able to afford it, but it's great for our growing family and future rental possibilities in the event that we relocate.

Shady enjoying some pasture time.  Photo credit: Ned Hibberd
Our little Riley enjoying an afternoon drive. 

To sum things up, "The Big Adventure" has never really ended for us.  We choose to encounter new people and engage in conversation, to continue exploring different cultures and expand our horizons.  To learn and discover ourselves in new ways and become more rounded individuals.  Adventure is an attitude and a perspective, whether you're driving across the Americas, moving to a new town, learning to homestead or expanding your family.  So for now, the adventure rolls on and we thank you for following along with our little story over the years.  If our story has somehow inspired you and we can be of any assistance at all, please don't hesitate to reach out to us!  We've learned so much from these experiences and we want you to be successful.  Contact us at or you can possibly track us down individually on social media.