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Intro to Golden Life Adventures
It all started when I met AJ in a trauma room of the local emergency department. We’re not here to talk about that, however, and the adventures that commenced since, but rather our desire to travel the world. We are currently on day 40 of a 180 day overlanding adventure through Mexico, and hopefully Central America. This is my perception of our adventure, and how we live our dreams.
If you know us, or work healthcare and/or emergency services, then I am confident you can appreciate how precious life is. I never really expect people to understand or condone our life decisions. The rather uncommon “good for you” or “you know, I wish I did that when I was younger” reminds me that we’re just where we need to be in life. We have one life to live, and we prefer to live it in ways I’m about to share with you.
The day was back in August 2015. A realtor sat at our kitchen table in Red Deer, during a slump in the housing market. I didn’t like hearing that selling our house wasn’t really an option, because AJ and I could both safely assume that nobody would want to rent our house for 6 months so we could gallivant Latin America. At the time we had our hearts set on South America, but soon realized that such an overlanding trip could hardly be achievable with 6 month…we would need more like 18 months! So, driving that far south was out.
The following spring AJ found an acreage she thought we should look at. We started tossing that idea around, only to spend the entire summer of 2016 inside over 40 homes and acreages across the central province. Our poor realtor was a trooper and so supportive of making sure we were happy.
Trying to Find A House
After backing out on two different occasions after less desirable inspections, we found ourselves in a situation. We just signed a lease agreement with tenants in Red Deer so we wouldn’t be stuck with two mortgages, but now had a little over a month to find a dwelling of our own. We were essentially soon-to-be homeless with two kids! Click. We found our means! We had our house rented without having to sell in a buyer’s market, and were fortunate enough to be offered our friends’ rental house at a great price, on a month-to-month basis. Holy smokes! This is gonna work out, isn’t it? We had better get planning!
Getting The Time Off
When I approached my boss at work, I had asked for a 3 month leave of absence. Now 2 of 99 reasons my job is the best… #1 is I’m a paramedic and my day-to-day is ever changing. I have the potential to help, influence and affect change in dire situations. #2 is my general manager is one that an employee only dreams of, but doesn’t know they actually exist. I originally asked for 3 months, which evolved to 6 months. And when we left, it was agreed I would simply give him a few months notice of my return.
And so it began. We bought books on overlanding Latin America, detailing everything from the type of vehicle you may want, to border crossing processes and what you could do for internet. We ordered a plethora of travel books for each country we expected to visit, along with excellent road maps from National Geographic. AJ took to the blogs & forums, and made essential contacts with those already traveling potential countries. I started reading about where the roads might take us…what to see, where to go and, more importantly, where NOT to go. And together, we would stare at our maps, eyes gleaming, like two kids peering through the window of a candy store. We are but two people eager to make memories in as many countries as we can. The world is our oyster, and we LOVE oysters!
Before AJ, I backpacked through Central America for 5 months and most of Europe, twice, for over 7 months. AJ has traveled Ecuador, Trinidad, Australia & New Zealand, Germany, and had been to Hawaii over 30 times! We’ve both been through most of Canada and much of the USA, together and individually. We were married in Hawaii, lived in Australia, and traveled Bali, Costa Rica and parts of Mexico. So you can see where the idea for a trek such as this would come from.
We decided we would start on our journey in the fall, and had secured our tenants for the duration of our travels. Originally, we were loosely mapping fairly straight south, from Lethbridge, Alberta, through Denver, Colorado, to our first grand stop at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in Arlington, about 3200km. From Arlington, another 900 km to the border crossing, and we would be making planned and random stops through central Mexico on our way to Oaxaca City for the infamous Dia de Los Muertos celebration. Unfortunately, devastation #1 — Hurricane Harvey — had torn through Texas. Needless to say, we returned to the map to adjust our route.
Okay, we’ll go south through Utah, see some beautiful national parks, and then southwest to Las Vegas, Nevada. From there we could decide if we would prefer to travel down through California and the Baja Peninsula, or see the Grand Canyon and pass through Phoenix, Arizona. But we’ll still be in Oaxaca for our festival.
Day of The Dead
Now this festival, el Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, came to us from a kids movie called the Book of Life. The festival is celebrated all over the nation in many intensities, but research geared our hearts to celebrate and remember those who have passed on in Oaxaca City. Terribly, we would learn of devastation #2 — the earthquakes — of both Mexico City and Oaxaca. News, blogs and overlanding RV forums spoke of terrible destruction.
Back to the drawing board. Go with the flow? We must! We had also read about festivities in Aguascalientes, Mexico, a city about 6 hours northwest of Mexico City. I’ve recently learned that it is amongst the top 3 safest cities of all Mexico. It wasn’t nearly as far down on the map as Oaxaca City, so we could have more time for our road trip through the USA. But I remember thinking to myself, and even saying to AJ, “OK, but if anything happens in Las Vegas we are done! That’ll be too many coincidences.”
It was the morning of October 2nd, that I read my fiends’ Facebook status “We’re safe in Las Vegas.” Wait…what? I quickly learned of devastation #3 — mass shooting at an outdoor country concert. I feel deeply for those innocent lost souls, and for their families. May they rest forever in peace.
With sadness in our hearts for what had happened, we decided we would proceed. We were in search of the next chapter in life and had everything set in motion. One dream on our bucket list is to run a bed & breakfast, restaurant or some sort of combination of the two. Living and working the grind was a sure way NOT to bring it to realization. We needed to proceed. So we did…