Expectation and Reality

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Current Location: New York, New York

After almost 3 months of driving around and across the country, we finally arrived in New York on November 1st! I thought New York is surely cold by now, but surprisingly we were greeted by 50s to 60s F weather and got to see the colorful changes of fall foliage. I am so excited to spend November and Thanksgiving here with family, meet up with friends whom we had not seen for a long time and do all the things we wanted to do every time we had come before but never got to do because we never had enough time.

Living in the minivan was a new experience for both of us. We had very little time (4 months?) to prepare for this trip. We sort of knew what we were doing by watching YouTube videos and taking advice from friends who had been living out of their car; but honestly, we can only anticipate so much ahead of time. Now that we are 3 months into it, we definitely noticed some differences between expectation and reality.

  1. You need very little clothes!
    Okay. This one only applied to me, not Min. It was August when our trip started and I knew it would start to be cold when we traveled North, so I brought both summer and winter clothes to make sure that I will be warm. Reality is that I probably had only worn about 30% of the clothes I brought. I brought way too much and I don’t need that much in reality. A few good hiking layers of clothing, one or two set of street wear and pajamas are all you need! I like my outdoor clothing so much that I just want to keep wearing the same thing again and again!
  2. There would be so much free time!
    Driving cross country for a few month means we will have so much down time, right? We brought a few books to read, ukulele to learn and practice and Min planned to learn some coding on the road. The guilty reality is that we got hooked on TV shows and spending our night time watching shows instead of enjoying some quiet time. Well now we ran out of episodes to watch, so I think we will have to work on this more when we start going back to California.
  3. Van life is hard!
    This one was a surprise to us. We thought living in the car would be difficult because of all the convenience that we are forgoing; but it is actually not bad at all. Reality is that we simplied everything that we do and it is completely okay if things take more time than before. Also the US is so abundantly resourceful that it is not a problem to find food, water or bathroom at all! As long as we have good weather, everything is good!
  4. Everything is within reach!
    While we stored everything we need, like clothes, necessities, gears and tools in this tiny living space, we still have a hard time looking for everything. We would forget where we kept the duct tape or the liquid soap, and then ended up going through all the storage boxes and turning everything upside down just to find one thing.
  5. I am going to have a self-revelation!
    Taking a few months off to experience nature and explore the country is a good opportunity to think, mediate and come out with some kind of self-revelation, right? Or so we thought. Truth is the last 3 months just felt like a very very long weekend. We were constantly planning for the next place, spending a few days here and there and then moving onto the next location. We had many good conversations about the future and what life looks like when this trip is over. We got to know ourselves and each other even more through the trip. But for me, no, I still do not know what I want to do when we go back to California in January. And is there some significant life lesson that we had learned so far that will change our lives? Hmm.. not really. Perhaps we need more quiet time to ourselves.

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