Planning

Last Hours in California

 Vicksburg Street, Noe Valley, San Francisco.

Vicksburg Street, Noe Valley, San Francisco.

Erlend Øye - Legao - “Fence Me In”

 Last photo in front of Vicksburg.

Last photo in front of Vicksburg.

This is it! These are our last hours in the U.S. for some time. We arrive at the conclusion of six months of preparation, research, Netflix travel shows, somewhat heated debates, snarky remarks on gadgets, and for the last few weeks, beaming smiles on our faces. We’re excited, happy, grateful and a little nervous -- but it’s finally time to jump in.

Our last few weeks in SF have been packed with preparations and dinner with friends, culminating to a last DemiPêche with our good friend Joe, who a couple days later sent us off in our moving truck. It was appropriate. It is him, after all, who helped me steal Madie’s number one night in San Francisco. 

The past weeks reminded me of the last two weeks of school, right before summer starts: you wander around the same buildings, but you know something changed. It’s a little quieter, maybe even nicer. You say goodbye to your friends, promise to keep in touch, and hope you’ll be the same when you see each other again. Still, you hope to change. You have to change. Otherwise, why do it at all?

 Last drive across the beautiful Bay Bridge.

Last drive across the beautiful Bay Bridge.

We drove down Highway 5 and spent our last few days in the comfort of her childhood home in L.A., to spend time with her family. These last moments of quiet and comfort were important. They reminded us that we can always come back at any time and feel home. For one that has lived far from his home for 12 years now, it’s good to feel the warmth of a close family. Mine will join us on the trip. 

In the meantime, Lili & Roger shared with us this fitting quote from René Char:

“Impose ta chance, serre ton bonheur et va vers ton risque. A te regarder, ils s’habitueront.

Which roughly translates to: “Impose your luck, hold tight your happiness and go towards your risk. Looking at you, they will get used to it.”

So here it is. We leave Monday for a year(-ish). We start in the Philippines and follow with Indonesia -- afterward, all is blurred. We are trying to follow Spring/Summer everywhere we go to save on weight in our backpack (summer clothes only). We know we need to be in Thailand mid-June. We know of the scorching heat of July & August anywhere in Asia. We know we want to fly to Patagonia in November. I know I need to rest in France for a few weeks after a long travel of 12 years. We’re prepared -- we’re ready -- it’s a perfect plan (or is it?).

 Interstate 5 at Golden Hour.

Interstate 5 at Golden Hour.

But wait! This is a travel blog, so we need a “What’s in your backpack?” post, no? So here it is:

  • Two 50L Gregory Backpacks (Z & J), a smaller 12L Gregory DayPack, and a Tenba camera bag that doesn’t look like one (that last part is important).
  • Gadgets: Many. No idea why I went overboard on gadgets like this, must be in the DNA. My friend asked me, “What is the most useless thing you’re bringing on the trip?”: likely a tie between the solar-powered power bank and the portable hammock. Amongst them, you can find a Bluetooth-waterproof speaker, a door lock, zip ties, insect-shielded liners, a mosquito net, a waterproof case for iPhone, too many GoPro accessories (won’t list them here, because I don’t want her to know), and other things.
  • Two Kindle readers filled with a bunch of books. This is a year of reading, writing and learning about ourselves.
  • Computers: Cheap ones. A $200 Chromebook (for me) and an old MacBook Air (for her).
  • Clothes: Few, but you need a favorite one, the one that makes you happy. For her, it’s a green light jacket. For me, it’s the Maui cap. Otherwise, most things are quick dry, ready for summer, and inappropriate for cold weather.
  • Two dive masks -- the one thing that needs to fit perfectly when scuba diving.
  • Her camera, my GoPro.
  • Two phones, with international text & data plans (we could have only kept one but you have to love those family plans). 
  • A monocular, to make sure I can brag to my dad when I see the Moustached Puffbird.
  • Medication/First Aid Kit for the various adventures of the traveler inadvertently drinking faucet water after his knee failed him backing off from a monkey bite.
  • Lotion, mosquito repellent, sunscreen (or as my friend says: suncream), wipes, and four 3oz travel bottles we can fill.
  • A last minute journal (thanks J&J), and solar flashlight (thanks Dad Farin). 
  • No rings, but a promise to find cheap ones along the way. 
  • A Spotify Premium account. 

OK -- maybe one day, we’ll do a more detailed post on our packing list. Maybe when we know what is actually useful. Most importantly, we kept it light: around 25lbs for her, around 30lbs for me. All fitting in a single backpack each if we need to.

Next stop: Metro Manilla, Philippines. Next post will have more interesting stories and pictures, I promise (really?).