Happy Wife, Happy Life – Keeping It Together On the Road

Columbia River Gorge in the fog

Some people get cranky when they’re hungry. I summon NARG.

NARG is an ugly, surly monster. He lacks empathy or logic and excels at blaming. Slumbering most of the time, this Creature From the A-Hole Lagoon climbs out of the depths and controls my being when my stomach grumbles too long.

Chelsea created this all-caps creation to separate the venomous devil of a cranky person from her usual (awesome, sweet, playful…HA) husband. That raging maniac telling her she’s the hungry one? That’s just NARG, not her husband. Feed the slavering beast and I return to Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde’s shadow disappearing into the foggy swamp.

Along with keeping me fed and subduing my alter-ego, we have a few other coping mechanisms for traveling together. You might wonder how our marriage survived eight months in 75 square feet of a camper van, not to mention weathered the 4,000 mile bike tour last summer without the van. It’s a good question, as I seldom write about our travel ethos or discuss practical advice regarding surviving (enjoying!) our travels.

Well, I’ll say this: there were no pre-established ground rules. They evolved. Slowly, in some cases, and immediately in others, usually after I was overly controlling and tried to tell my (always stubborn) wife what to do. Some practices evolved via discussion, others from necessity. It’s still a work in progress.

It's all about balance!

It’s all about balance! Chelsea and our friend Brooke demonstrating perfect form on a hike in the mossy Oregon coast range.


To wit (I’ve always wanted to write that): we recently did an excellent interview over lunch with my friend J.D. Roth, founder of the popular finance site Get Rich Slowly. The interview discusses many of our thoughts and philosophies related to staying sane and happy while exploring the world together, with ideas that apply to any kind of travel, whether by van, plane or bicycle. The discussion began because J.D. is about to launch on a long RV trip around the U.S. and is interviewing inspiring people along the way. I’m honored to be included.

We talked about many things, but one of my favorite quotes from our chat came from Chelsea. It totally sums up our current approach to travel (and life, for that matter). “I guess the bottom line is to be easy-going and adaptable,” she said. “When you’re nomadic, you’re open to serendipity. It permeates your whole life. You find yourself saying ‘yes’ a lot more. It’s a very ‘yes’ experience.”

When NARG isn't around, C and I get along. :) Here we're enjoying a walk on the Oregon beach. Always sunny in the NW!

When NARG isn’t around, C and I get along. Here we’re enjoying a walk on the Oregon beach. Always sunny in the NW! (Photo courtesy of Nicole B.)