Formula 1 Austin came to a close yesterday, and I can't say I'm all that bummed about it. The weekend was an interesting one to say the least, and although there were some highlights, there were also some absolute lows.
First things first, the weather was absolute garbage. Torrential rain every single day. With Hurricane Patricia off the coast of Mexico, we were getting some of that gnarly weather by us. What did this mean for us while we worked? Standing in soaking wet shoes, and clothes, for hours. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
We picked up work with a company called Stadium People. They hire out for stadium events and pay pretty well just to keep things organized. We were hired as Premium staff for VIP suites. This we assumed, was a jackpot.
We went through two separate training events with other Circuit of the Americas Staff, which really were just about being prepared and being nice to people. We still didn't have any idea what our assignment was, nor where we were placed on the track. You see, Circuit of the Americas is huge. Over 20 turns, 3.4 miles long, with tons of suites and skyboxes. They were so adamant in the training that we know our surroundings and didn't give people wrong directions, yet it wasn't until 6:30am Friday that we even found out where it was we were working.
Which brings us to not working together. We were separated at first, and both had a terrible time finding out where we were going. There was so much error in organization, that we were sometimes dumbstruck with the lack of efficiency. This is a billion dollar track and a 300+ million dollar event -- how is it not more organized?!
But I digress, Vanessa and I did end up working together in the Owner's Box where we met some of the highlights of this meaningful work experience for us. Sarah, Rhonda, Tim, Anita, Pamela, and Brittany. The staff that busted their asses to keep the Owner's Tent running smoothly and efficiently. Not to mention, we all had some good laughs and silly banter the entire weekend. If it wasn't for Sarah and her always-positive spirit, or Rhonda and her kind-nature and determination for efficiency, we probably wouldn't have had very many highlights.
Because Saturday was absolute shit. There, I said it. We had to be at the track by 6:30am, which by then was already hurricane force winds. Mind you, we also needed to wear the COTA white shirt (which were fun to wear when wet) and black slacks with black dress shoes. Did we mention that employee parking was almost a mile from where we had to check in? After standing for 14 hours the day before in wet shoes and damp clothes, we needed to do it all over again, this time in worse weather. So, we packed our work clothes, threw on ponchos, shorts. and flip flops and braved the rain.
Really no reason to put on makeup or do our hair because by the time we showed up at the check in, we were drenched. But alas, our work outfits were dry and warm in our backpack. We walked in, weather beaten and dismayed, to have the woman checking us in say snidely, "Oh, you guys can't wear shorts to work." To which we undeniably replied, "Yes, we know. We walked in torrential rain to get here, and need to change into our uniforms." Maybe it's crazy of us to be expecting a "thank you for showing up!" Especially because we were some of the ONLY people there on time, and well really there at all. Alas, she didn't say thank you, instead she said, "Oh you have to change. Well snap snap."
Vanessa almost left.I still had to band-aid my heel blisters from the day before. But, we decided to be better people and make it work because we gave them our word. So we changed into our dry clothes, only to find out we were taking golf carts to the Owner's Club, so really, we ended up getting soaking wet anyway. And our umbrella broke.
I don't want to keep going on about all the negatives throughout the weekend, like walking a mile to where the gate should be open and shuttle there for pick-up, but it wasn't, and we were locked in, drenched after working 12 hours. Nor about the experience of working the Owner's Box itself and being looked down upon often by people simply because they have a few more commas in their bank account total. Or the fact my shoes broke at the start of day two because they were so absolutely soaked.......SO, I won't. But the worst part was that as I was getting over bronchitis-like symptoms from last week, and Vanessa came down with something after being waterlogged all weekend we ended up missing working on Sunday and didn't even get to see the actual race. We were heartbroken.
But I do need to say the highlights for me included:
Rosie having an extra pair of flats that I could use after my shoes broke. She brought them to change into after her boots got to be too much but gave them to me to wear all day instead.
Sarah giving me her extra pair of dry socks so that my feet weren't freezing and wet all day.
Chatting with Rhonda on the couch about tattoos and Japanese tea ceremonies. There's something to be said about a woman who marches unapologetically to the beat of her own drum that we admire and honor.
Seeing Lionel Richie.
Watching the Formula 1 cars practice, and seeing the ways they risk their lives doing something they absolutely love.
It was a hell of a weekend, and we're still feeling the backlash of being under the weather. But, onwards and forwards as we prepare for another weekend of finding work on the road at the Austin City Film Festival.
This past weekend Vanessa and I were lucky enough to work the St. Louis music festival LouFest, with Chicago-based clothing and accessories company Futurgarb. Although it was a huge departure from our job last week with Sowing Seeds Nursery, it wasn't any less of a blast or a learning experience. Working on the road allows us many different opportunities to highlight many of our skill sets and meet all different kinds of people.
Saturday and Sunday were spent selling Futurgarb merch, which overall was pretty amazing. As most of you know, I FREAKING LOVE HATS. The hipster in me craves wide brims and felts on a daily basis. Futurgarb has THE coolest and widest arrangement of hats I have ever seen. (Note: the post is not sponsored, I really just love hats, mmkay?). Besides hats, they had killer sunglasses, scarves, Eco-friendly wallets made of recycled bicycle tires -- just accessories galore. Which made this stuff really easy to sell.
Let's just say, Vanessa and I worked our butts off this past weekend. We were exhausted and on our feet for 12 hours each day, but it was well-worth the adventure. We met so many amazing people, we spent the weekend outside, we could dress up in festival-wear and showcase our individuality, we were able to listen to some kick ass bands all weekend (Billy Idol, Nate Ruess, Brandon Flowers, Misterwives, Young the Giant, Ludacris, and more), and most importantly we were together.
HUGE shoutout to Futurgarb. Thank you for a memorable weekend and an amazing festival.
It was a sad goodbye today as we left Pikeville, Tennessee. We spent the last four days working on the road at Sowing Seeds Nursery & Garden Center. We want to find meaningful work throughout our RV travels. Needless to say we left with so much more than we ever could have imagined.
The Smith family, Wendy, Glen, Alli, and Ethan, quickly became a second family to us on the road. They taught us things we never knew -- what an unharvested walnut looks like, how kefir can be made, that lemon verbena makes an excellent tea (thanks, Wendy!) and they also showed us what true Southern hospitality means.
What Wendy and her family are doing on their nursery/homestead is very similar to the practices Vanessa and I implement throughout our travels. Self sufficiency, minimalism, never-ending growth, and at the center of it all is love. They raise chickens, cows, horses, goats, pigs, ducks, turkeys, and even a donkey named Dusty. All their animals are fed a GMO-free diet, which is something Wendy is adamant about providing. This nutrition and dietary awareness extends to her family as well.
At every turn, Vanessa and I were fascinated with what Wendy and her family had built. Most recently, she started a straw hay bale garden. This type of garden means seedlings are transplanted into the bale, where they can grow at their leisure. Work smarter, not harder as Wendy would say.
Tomatoes, peppers, basil, lemon verbena, pineapple mint, sweet potatoes, oregano, Italian parsley, and lavender, are just a few of the plants grown in the garden. Not to mention the walnut tree out back, the abundance of aloe plants, and the soon-to-be-orchard we helped prepare. The family understands how fulfilling it is to be reliant only on themselves and their land.
These were the highlights during our trip:
Riding a horse for the first time
Gathering walnuts and clipping fresh herbs from Wendy's garden
Vanessa holding and calming a squealing piglet
Cooking vegan fare for the family
Tending to the nursery plants
Working outside and not being swayed by the rain or the dirt
Falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and howling mountain dogs in the distance
Spending time laughing and joking with the Smith family
We were even lucky enough to take a trip up to Fall Creek Falls, a local favorite amongst the people of Pikeville. It was there, at dusk, that we bathed under the waterfalls, our breath catching in our lungs from the temperature we soon adjusted to.
It was our first week of learning and working during our RV travels. Everything Vanessa and I wanted out of life was encompassed in our stay with the Smith family. The gratitude we felt after every day in the sun, hands calloused from digging, pulling, cutting, was enough in itself to remind us why we're doing what we're doing.
We hope each of our adventures can be as fulfilling as this one. Thank you Smith family! You set the bar very high.
Vanessa and I are often asked the same question whenever we speak of RV travels -- how are you going to make money? Valid question. We both had very lucrative jobs before taking the plunge into full-time RV exploration, yet that doesn't mean that we don't have to make a living while on the road. As awesome as it would be to just live off savings and travel without regard, that doesn't seem to be in the cards for us just yet.
As a copy/freelance writer, I'm blessed to be able to work from just about anywhere. As long as there is WiFi, of course. I take jobs here and there covering topics that I feel strongly about, or that allow me to broaden my knowledge on a whole slew of varying topics. I've learned quite a bit while freelancing, plus it keeps my writing skills sharp.
Aside from writing, Vanessa and I are hoping to find other sources of income while on the road, particularly involving farm work, harvesting, manual labor and the like. We're looking to get our hands dirty, and invest a little bit of ourselves back into the earth. Maybe it's hard to imagine a former Miss Teen USA and a published author choosing a life of working with our hands from dawn to dusk, or harvesting apples under the autumn sun, but it's with good reason.
One of my favorite chapters from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers is the last, right before the epilogue, called Rice Paddies and Math Tests. (If you haven't read this book, I urge you to do so. If you want my copy, email me your forwarding address and I'll send it along. It's worth the read.)
Gladwell speaks about meaningful work in this chapter and the importance it has on a person and on a community. The Chinese, as a culture, spend so much time building, maintaining, and harvesting from their rice paddies in order to provide for themselves, their community, and their families. There is meaning behind the work they do. There is pride and reward. This ultimately is a contributing factor to why the Chinese are so hardworking and motivated as a whole.
Vanessa and I both worked in offices, without significant personal reward. We were making money for our bosses, while stationary behind a desk for hours at a time. There wasn't much meaning in the work we were doing. We felt extremely unfulfilled.
To us, working on a farm, or harvesting grapes in a vineyard would facilitate meaning and purpose. Not only would we be helping the smaller farms who need more hands than people are willing to offer, but we also are rewarding the community with the fruits of our labor (pun definitely intended).
Maybe it sounds crazy to some, but one of the main reasons Vanessa and I are taking this leap of faith into full time RV living is so that we can cultivate a stronger sense of purpose and meaning while exploring the country on our own terms. We don't want a 9-5. We don't want to sit in traffic every day. We don't want to earn a paycheck just to buy more "stuff" nor do we want to sell people more "stuff".
It's a lifestyle change that we're hoping to find much more rewarding on a personal level because it speaks to the very core of our being.
Life on our own terms.
Over the past few months, Vanessa and I have made some very difficult, yet rewarding decisions. We had grown tired of conventional living -- working 45+ hours each every week, sitting in hours of traffic, having little-to-no time together in evenings, and so forth. We were both exhausted mentally and physically, and our lives and relationship were suffering. Thankfully, this exhaustion prompted dialogue between us to where we discussed what would make us happy and where our efforts and energy should be directed. Do we continue to work so hard to pay for things we really don't need? Do we continue to sacrifice our time together in order to follow the scripted American dream? Do we exhaust ourselves in order to maintain a life of "security"? The answer was a resounding "NO".
We wanted travel. We wanted experience. We wanted time together.
Thus began our adventure into non-conventional, RV living. We quit our jobs, risking financial security, we began to pare down our belongings, and we bought our first RV --Maude. We hope you follow along on this journey as we travel across the country and live a life that is meant to be experienced and enjoyed.
FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE