Nomad Life Aug, Sept, & Oct 2023

Ballena Blanca parked on a street in Cabbagetown.

On August 14 of last year, Greg’s father, Perry, had a stroke. We were in Cabbagetown (Atlanta) at the time house sitting for friends. After Greg got the call, we made a quick trip to the grocery store, and then Greg took Ballena Blanca and headed to his mom’s, Dossie, house in Lowesville, NC, outside of Charlotte.

I stayed at our house sit with Kofi, Elliot, and Bo. I let their owners know what had happened and that I might need to leave at any time. Other friends in the neighborhood called with their support, offering to take over the sit if I needed them to. We had another sit lined up as soon as my friends returned through an online subscription site called Trusted House Sitters. I didn’t know this host and they lived in another neighborhood. I contacted them right away and told them the situation. I suggested that they might just want to look for another sitter for their cats, Snetiker and Quink. Not knowing if Greg’s father would make it and not having any transportation, I didn’t want to leave anyone in a bind at the last minute. They were very understanding.

A few days after Greg arrived at his mom’s, his brother, Ken, and almost all of Ken’s family started to arrive. No one wanted the worst to happen without a goodbye. The house was packed. Both of Greg’s children made day visits from South Carolina.

Greg got a brief and exhausting respite from the full house when he drove back to Atlanta to return Ballena Blanca to me. He hopped on a Greyhound bus the next day and went back to his mom’s.

My Trusted House Sitters homeowners couldn’t find a replacement for me but had lined up a paid backup. I committed to the sit hoping there wouldn’t be any emergencies.  Greg’s father entered hospice on the day before the sit started and passed away.

The funeral was planned for the one-day break I had between my sit with Snetiker and Quink and my next sit with Dave and Dougie in Cabbagetown. I drove up to Lowesville in the morning, attended the funeral, and drove to our friends, David and Michelle’s house in Greenville, SC that evening. Greg, who had been sleeping on the floor of his mom’s house followed me in one of his mom’s cars to David and Michelle’s, where we both spent the night and had a much-needed evening unwinding with good conversation and a few drinks. The next morning, Greg headed back to his mom’s and I drove back to Atlanta.

The funeral was lovely. The young preacher was full of hopeful vibes, a heartfelt eulogy was given by one of Perry’s grandsons, a barbershop quartet sang some favorite songs, and Ken and one of his sons expressed themselves with music. Perry was buried in a private family cemetery next to Martha’s Chapel. One of Greg’s ancestors, Albert Franklin Sifford (either a great, perhaps great-great Uncle or grandparent) was inspired to build the chapel after a bad storm while burying his with Martha in 1908. The church didn’t have a full-time preacher, but Greg remembers his grandfather taking the grandkids to the chapel on a tractor when visiting preachers passed through town.

Martha’s chapel and Perry’s gravesite.

This event, Perry’s death, has altered many courses and has brought major changes for the immediate family. Greg and I put our plans to fly to South America and take 6 months of Spanish lessons on indefinite hold, Ken started making plans to find a job and move within a couple of hours of Dossie, and Dossie started learning a new life. We have talked to many people who describe their elderly parents as being two halves of one brain. I think after you have been married for 65 years (like Dossie and Perry were) it is only natural to divide up chores and duties depending on the strengths of the individuals. Without half of your brain, even simple things become complicated. Luckily people are never too old to learn and grow.

Greg continued to stay with his mother after the funeral and after Ken and his family left. Once my house sit was over, I joined him. We didn’t want Dossie to be alone, there was a lot of complicated business relating to the death to take care of, and daily things that Dossie needed assistance with to get accustomed to her new life. Ken booked dates to fly from Louisiana to give us time to go off on our own and spend time with his mom.

While we were staying with Dossie we also took a few fun excursions with her and her sister Sheila. We went to a play, visited Brevard College where she and Perry met, and drove to Greenville to have lunch in the restaurant managed by Greg’s son, James. From left to right, Duwan, Sheila, Dossie, and Greg.

I had one more house sit scheduled through Trusted House Sitters, a repeat with Smokey Blue and Lily Mae. Greg was able to join me on part of it when Ken was in town.

When Ken returned in October we were able to spend a whole week exploring in North Carolina.

Eventually, we also started leaving Dossie on her own, making quick trips to South Carolina and Atlanta to see friends and family.

Before Perry’s stroke, we were having a great Cabbagetown experience. We house-sat Lucy and Cosmo for our good friend Debbie and when Debbie got back from her trip we stayed on for the big 60/70th birthday party for me and my friend Ros. We left Debbie’s and spent 4 days in North Georgia camping at Carters Lake. After Greg left I still got to spend time with friends and soak in more of the Atlanta/Cabbagetown experience.

Expense Report

The Expense Report is being suspended for the time being. Our expenses since August aren’t really related to being nomadic. And I just haven’t been keeping up with receipts. I have a shoebox full of them that I still need to go through. I am hoping to restart the expense report once we are on the road again and to report on expenses for one special trip we made in December.

To see all of our past expense reports, click here.

And if you are interested in reading other expense reports from other nomads who really know how to live cheaply while still having a good time, check out the blog from our friends Mark, Liesbet, and Maya at Roaming About. They are currently traveling in Bolvia.

Map and Miles

No miles this time, but I did make a map.

The Plan

The Plan to fly to South America and spend 6 months learning Spanish is still on. Ken got a job and should be moving to the area in about a week. Once he arrives we will do a tour around the Carolinas and Georgia to say another goodbye to family and friends, before heading west to New Orleans to see my niece.

And then we are going to sell the van.

We aren’t giving up the van traveling life but are putting it on pause for a while. When we initially came up with the idea to spend 6 months in South America we thought we’d store Ballena Blanca. We had a place lined up to do just that but then after we thought about it some more we decided that we didn’t want her to just sit for that long. We have been talking about buying a new van or just rebuilding Ballena Blanca for years now. It looks like we have settled on starting completely from scratch with a new van.

We are going to situate ourselves in an area that has plenty of house sitting so we won’t be living in Ballena Blanca potentially creating more wear and tear on her. And once she finds a new home, we will truly be homeless and be relying solely on house sitting until we are ready to board a plane heading south.

In Memoriam

Two of our dog friends that we sat with this past summer have passed over the rainbow bridge.

Elliot, with his soulful eyes, was always in good humor and a friend to everyone. He was a love. He was frail when we stayed with him in August but still climbed the stairs to sleep beside our bed every night.

Dave was one of a kind. A standard poodle, he didn’t walk but strutted. He was like an eccentric rock star. His special quirks made everyone laugh.

Here are pics from their younger days.

Right Now

We finally left Dossie on her own. She is doing good. But we don’t want to be too far away. So we are spending our time house-sitting in a two-hour radius of Lowesville until Ken arrives. Currently, we are farm-sitting. There are cows, chickens, geese, ducks, two donkeys, a goat, and two dogs. It has been very unique and I will write more about it in my January Nomad Report.

Hopefully, I can revive this blog. Things have just been weird and discombobulated, but we are getting back into the swing of our lives and making more stories to tell. Next up, my final two blogs about Oaxaca, Mexico!

Duwan and Greg at Crabtree Falls in Western North Carolina.

8 thoughts on “Nomad Life Aug, Sept, & Oct 2023

  1. Missed your posts, but you had good reasons. Don’t worry.

    Just know that those you’re writing to are envious of your lifestyle and we live it vicariously through you.

    Good luck in South America!

    1. Thanks, John. If you keep saying you miss my posts, I’ll keep writing.

      I hope we have more adventures to be envious of soon.

  2. Welcome back, Duwan and Greg! Good idea to combine a few months into one post. That’s the best way to catch up! Those house sits seem to have been a saving grace, as well as a source of extra stress during the sad time of Perry’s stroke and passing. I do miss the house and pet sitting lifestyle at times.

    Your plans sound great and I hope it works out to sell the van quickly, so you can join us in South America. Maybe even swing by “Bolvia.” 🙂

    Enjoy the farm and talk later!

    1. The house sits have been great- especially lately, since it is too cold to live in the van here in the Southeast. If we hadn’t had the Trusted House Sitter sit, there would have been a lot less stress. Lots of Cabbagetown friends were offering to fill in for us. We are so lucky.

      I don’t know if we will make it South America in 2 months, but would love to see you somewhere down there!

  3. Dear Duwan and Greg, We are so sorry to hear about Greg’s dad passing. It is a basic loss. Glad you were able to be there; so hard on everyone. Take care and safe travels to South America. Meredith and Ed

    1. Thanks you two. We were hanging around the Southeast because we were concerned about Greg’s parents. We didn’t really expect anything like this. We were really glad to be close by.

      It’s always good to hear from you. I hope you and Ed are well and enjoying a nice Tucson winter.

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