It’s getting real (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 8 days)

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Milwaukee, WI: photo by Tom Kwas

That moment when you realize there’s no going back? I can tell Gary’s there. It’s a good thing his friend Tom Kwas is hanging out today, distracting him with jokes and cold beer. I’m getting on his nerves with all my checklists, budget fretting and what-if’s. This trip will test our new marriage in a way that shooting videos together never has. In that life I’m the organizer too, but of other people’s schedules and money. He had to sell his camera to buy this truck; his lighting kit for the camper. If we can’t make this work, we have no jobs to come back to. Or a home, at least one on solid ground.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Downsizing dilemmas and delights (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 10 days)

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Milwaukee, WI: photo by Gary Geboy

Remember that day-planner-from-hell I showed you a few weeks ago? This is what happens to it when you quit your job and contemplate living on the road for a year. Suddenly I have space to doodle and daydream and it’s driving me to distraction. I’ve never NOT had appointments and meetings and deadlines. I feel like I’ve overslept and forgotten my real life. My job today? Figuring out how to downsize my entire wardrobe to fit next to groceries inside the tiny Avion cabinets. I wish I had discovered this downsizing blog earlier. This so isn’t going to be “glamping,” despite what the brochure implies.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Franken-camper (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 12 days)

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Gary thinks the Avion, propped up as it is on adjustable jacks and four skinny columns of bricks because we need the truck to run errands, looks like an elephant on toothpicks. My mother-in-law doesn’t want her only grandson Alex working inside it in case it topples. The precarious hassle of backing a truck under a jacked-up camper is the one main drawback of truck-bed campers. You can’t just unhitch it like a trailer or fifth-wheel and zip off to the grocery store empty. Still, the Avion looks a lot steadier than the camper my father built for the first road trip down the Pan-American Highway in 1973.

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photo by David Bruce

Of course it helps that the commercially built Avion doesn’t weigh north of 14,000 pounds, like my father’s mad laboratory contraption.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Hardest Father’s Day Ever (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 13 days)

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Milwaukee, WI: photo by Tom Kwas

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The Geboy men don’t talk about feelings much: they demonstrate their love and appreciation for each other by pitching in on whatever work needs doing. It’s also how they put off impending goodbyes. In 2003, three generations spend Father’s Day measuring carpet, building under-camper lawn chair storage compartments, waterproofing the riveted seams of the all-aluminum Avion and teasing Alex about his new girlfriend back at college.

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Gary’s mom Angie with the late, great Joe Geboy

Fourteen years later, one’s missing. And life will never be the same.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

How much does the ultimate road trip cost? (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 15 days)

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I have a sassy producer answer when clients want to know how much a video will cost: what does a fish weigh? But ball parking budgets for every type of video imaginable isn’t practice for a year-long road trip down the Pan American Highway. The credit card is already adding up: a $400 awning to shade Wipeout when we’re parked during the day, $2,000 satellite phone for emergencies and $1,500 for a year’s worth of storing everything that won’t fit in a $1,200 camper.

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Milwaukee, WI: photo by Gary Geboy

All I can do is subtract the credit card bill from our savings and divide what’s left by twelve months. Street market grocery shopping can’t be more than $10 a day. Propane tanks to cook the food… maybe $20 a month? If I allow another $10 a night for campgrounds that leaves about $6,100 for diesel. My head hurts…

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Meeting the Avion (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 17 days)

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We’ve entrusted the job of finding, buying and restoring our only home for the foreseeable future to Gary’s 81-year-old dad Joe. This sounds crazier than it is: Joe is a WWII vet with depression-era spending habits who built the three brick-and-mortar homes of Gary’s Wisconsin childhood. He has been kid-with-a-secret dying to show us his best find ever: a 1968 Avion truck camper advertised in the Milwaukee classifieds. Only one owner, only $1,200 and complete with the original glossy sales brochure.

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It’s stunning, or will be when Joe’s done with the finishing touches. In roughly two weeks we’ll test the brochure’s Mad-Men claim, “This compact castle lets you live like kings and queens wherever you go – even way back in wild bush country!”

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Licensed to Thrill (Drive Day 1 minus 14 years, 18 days)

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Gary always wanted to be a race car driver as a kid. Right now he’s pushing 70 on I-76; feet navigating around a tiny white cat who thinks the area between the brake and the accelerator pedals is the perfect place to hide. He’s behind the wheel of a brand-new diesel Ford F350 four-wheel drive. It’s a truck that’ll never win Le Mans, but this road trip?  To quote Steve McQueen, “Anything that happens before or after… is just waiting.”

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Washington DC: photo by Gary Geboy

Hence what the hell, an international driver’s license. We’ve got just about every other piece of paper imaginable, at least this one’s got some street cred.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. It officially goes on sale TODAY! Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.