Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Our New Van Won’t Start!

We did it! We bought the van and drove it across the street in search of food. We walked in to Panera, then back out with some dinner. We hopped in the van, analyzing how far we could drive through the night before stopping. Ivan turned the key and heard a long beeping sound. Click forward, nothing. We each take a deep breath, glance at each other, and he tries again. Turns the key, nothing. Neither of us are quite ready to say it, but, “We own this piece of junk now. What have we done?” I had just written a check for something in the area of $18,000 for something that won’t start.


An hour earlier we were “inspecting” the van. We took it for a test drive and didn’t hear any scary noises. We glanced over the body and at the tires, but nothing seemed to say, “I’m a problem”, except for the missing door handle. We stopped in a parking lot close by and tried to talk through any concerns we might have had. We couldn’t talk ourselves out of it. Nerves tensed from head to toe, but tummy jumped in excitement! Ok, we decided. Let’s do this.

After waiting in the office for 7,000 hours while the Financing department ran a credit check (and who knows what else) they handed us the keys and waved goodbye. How is it that only 30 minutes later the van doesn’t start?


I texted the salesman right away. He tried to assure me that the battery was new, everything had been checked out, but he knew and I knew – this is was not okay. To his credit, he drove right to us even though he was off the clock and ready for a relaxing evening. He dropped us off at a hotel and promised to reimburse it.
That night and the next morning we couldn’t help but wonder, “Did we just make a huge mistake? What could possibly be wrong with it? Better now than halfway through Nebraska.”


In the morning, we Uber’ed back to the dealership with bags in tow. They assured us they checked the engine, batteries, etc. Apparently, Ram ProMaster’s have a key issue. If you turn it too fast, it locks up. They promised this was it and that it was even a recall issue that could be resolved.


Tentatively, we took the keys back and rumbled out onto the road in hopes that we would make it 1,400 miles back to Utah.

So, we bought the van. It’s a 2017 Ram ProMaster 2500, extended. We bought it for $16,500 and ended up paying another $1,500 or so in fees and taxes (yuck).


We are ready to take on the challenges that come our way. For better or worse, it’s ours now and there’s no going back.


Much Love,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found travels/travel nursing van build

Back in Action

He’s home! He’s finally home!


It could have been 4 weeks or 18 weeks, once Ivan walked out of the airport and into my arms the pain of missing him dissolved into relief. Like putting on a favorite old t-shirt, we fit together just right as if no time had passed – but, we also felt a little more tender and little more grateful to be together.

Moments after reuniting at the airport

In no time we were planning for the future. I put in my noticed at school that I would not be returning in the fall. Ivan and I felt like now is the time to do something a little daring, a little crazy.

We spent a year traveling in the past. Ivan is a nurse and there is a position called, “travel nurse”. A travel nurse gets hired with a company who has relationships with hospitals. The hospitals come say, “We need nurses” and the company sends the nurses. Ivan had an employed, but worked at 5 hospitals during the year. We lived in Maine, California, Idaho, and then back to Utah.

With this experience under our belt, we had been toying with the idea of traveling nursing again but this time, with a trailer or camper. We had fun living in different apartments and AirBnB’s. There was something satisfying about knowing, “I can only keep what fits in the car.” On the flip side, we had to hunt for the perfect furnished apartment and be willing to pay a premium for said furnishings.

Ivan’s recent contract in New Jersey gave us just enough cash to buy a Ram ProMaster van – this has quickly become our next adventure. After a few weeks of emotional recovery and van hunting, Ivan found one that might work. After a few days of me applying a bit of wifely pressure, we agreed to buy a ticket to Chicago. We texted the dealership on Sunday to set an appointment, bought the flights, and will land on Monday. I’m so anxious, but excited.

My mind leans toward worst case scenarios, so let’s play Worst Case Scenario: we arrive and the van has been sold, and there are no other alternatives. In that case, we would find lodging and a ticket home. We spent $550 getting there, so that would be easily $1,000 for nothing but a story. Maybe such a story/failure/mistake wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I certainly dread it. Now, I have to focus on belly breathing so my body doesn’t stress and switch to sympathetic mode. Next scenario – we go, the van is there but for some reason or another, it’s not a good fit and we walk away. The consequences are the same as above. Final scenario – we go, we just spent $550 getting there, so we talk ourselves into something we don’t actually want just because of what it took to get there. I guess this isn’t worst case scenario, because the price of the van is $16,000. That leaves us $4,000 in the budget for fixing up unseen problems.

This brings us back to our original decision making. There are new vans with lots of miles, old vans with less miles, higher cost, lower cost – so it becomes a matter of fitting all those pieces together. We were debating between a $20,000 van and a $16,000 van. We settled on the cheaper one with the understanding that there will likely be those pesky car problems you don’t foresee and we’d at least have an extra $4,000 to put toward it. $4,000 goes a long way in car maintenance.

Now, we are sitting at the airport, waiting minute by minute for boarding to begin. I’m scared, excited, I feel a bit reckless, but I also feel like an adventure-seeker. Sure, I’ll be skipping out on work and haven’t thought through those consequences. Sure, we’ll be setting ourselves up for a 20 hour drive back and haven’t thought through those consequences. But, away we go.

Much Love,

Hanna
#vanlife#newadventures

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found

8 Weeks, No Husband

Are there any blogs out there not talking about the impact of the corona virus? Is there anyone out there not impacted by it? Here’s what’s been going on with us… About 8 or 9 weeks ago, my husband accepted an offer to do a travel nursing contract in New Jersey. We live in Utah. Covid-19 was just stretching out its grubby little fingers across the country, schools were announcing two week closures, and everything was a ‘maybe’. At the time, we knew traveling was increasingly risky and flights were getting cancelled left and right, but figured I would still be able to visit. I thought for sure, “I’ll see him in two weeks. Ok, maybe 4.” One week ticked by, then another, schools closed until summer break, restaurants and non essential businesses were closing down, should I even go visit a close friend? About 3-4 weeks into his contract, we accepted the fact that I would not be coming out to see him. (You can probably tell by now, I didn’t intend to provide a checklist of productivity habits. It wasn’t until I started posting that I realized that would’ve been a good idea. Next time?)

How do people do it? I’ve been thinking of military families this whole time. 8 weeks has been painful and lonely. 8 weeks of no kisses, no hugs, no hand holding. But, all the while, it’s nothing compared to what other families suffer for months or years. Thankfully, he’s safe at an American hospital – not at risk of being attacked like our military men and women. But, it’s still the most time I have spent away from him and I still don’t like it.

Why did he go? I’ll be honest, but brace yourself – you might find it to be shallow. The money was too good to pass. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m rather lost these days, clomping around in swamp of ideas until something magically clicks. I’m leaving my teaching post and we are getting ready to set off on another year of DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:gg57travel nursing. So if Ivan could earn in 8 weeks what I make in 10 months on a teacher’s salary, well, why not? Oh, keep in mind, we didn’t think it would be 8 weeks apart at the time. What I noticed during the 2 months apart, is the way that time becomes suspended. Days blur together and suddenly I look up and it’s finally Friday. How is it that the mind can compartmentalize like that? Perhaps it’s the routine I created during the work week, but it’s like the clocks function separately from me. The weeks are a blur. I experienced this when I was hospitalized a few years ago. I was in the hospital for 1 week and one moment it was morning, then suddenly it was evening. On the one hand, days are slow and time drags. On the other, it’s like a trance where maybe time moves and maybe it doesn’t. The blur of time makes it less painful. Watch TV and, “Oh, look at that. Time for bed.”

Here’s an actual shot of me falling through time:

Have you experienced this time suspension? If so, I’d love to know what it was like. Comment your experience below! A lot has happened in the last 8 weeks, and wherever Corona decides to go next, at least my husband and I will be together for it.

Much Love,

Hanna

#hescominghome

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Are you a little lost?

Hi there! My name is Hanna, and lately, I’ve been feeling a bit lost. Quite a bit lost. Can you relate? In fact, getting older hasn’t helped much. I seem to feel more and more like a wanderer.

Right out of high school, I went into college not quite knowing what my major would be, so I blended three of them. Upon graduating, I didn’t know what career field to jump into between teaching, business, or government, so I applied to a Master’s program. Upon being accepted, I bought an extra two years of safety in schooling. It was nice to know, “Here I am. Here’s where I’m going. I’m in school, I’m going to get a degree and for the next 2-4 years, I don’t really have to think about other things.” I graduated with a Master’s degree in French Language and Literature. This is the degree you get when you are considering teaching, and generally teaching at the upper levels. Are you surprised to find out I didn’t end up doing that?

I hesitate to continue this introduction, because I’m feeling a bit vulnerable. Perhaps you as a reader may be thinking, “Oh wow, six years of college? Poor you.” I’m not complaining about my education, I value it! I love the content of the things I studied. I just didn’t know what that would look like as a career trajectory.

After graduating, I worked as a bilingual credit specialist, meaning I made companies pay their late bills – and sometimes I did it in French. Talk about imposter syndrome (we’ll get into that later). One year later, I decided to take the plunge into teaching! I taught Kindergarten, French immersion for 2 years. This is where the real wandering begins. My husband and I decided to take a chance on travel nursing. He would get 13 week contracts at various hospitals, and I would teach online with VIPKid. We missed our home and family, I missed the Kindergartners and stability of the classroom. We traveled for a year and came back. I thought I had been found! Yay! Back in the classroom! This is where I belong.

Then again, maybe not. One more year of Kindergarten, and the first 4 or 5 months I was utterly exhausted, super stressed, and dreaded the day. The days are so long in Kindergarten. I went from complete freedom, going wherever I wanted to go and any time, back into the classroom regimen – Monday through Friday 8-4.

I’m a little embarrassed writing down the changes year over year. How can anyone respect a person who changes her mind every 1-2 years? Am I the only one who is so lost? I love kids and I love teaching, but maybe not for 7 hours a day, five days a week, with a combined total of 50-60 students (AM and PM classes). I look around at my colleagues on our Zoom meetings and wonder, “Am I the only one here who’s kind of enjoying these quiet moments of remote teaching?”

So, here I am on the internet with binoculars on gazing around to see if anyone else can relate. My hope is with this blog, we’ll be able to journey through being lost & being found together.


Much Love,

Hanna