Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hitting the Road... Part 3 in the New Adventures for Fiberton Saga!

After I returned from Australia, I took two weeks to hang out with my parents and friends in my little town of San Miguel, CA. At that point, I had already packed everything up for the most part, so I worked on deciding next steps in my crazy little adventure.

December gardening with friends in Cali!

Winter on the Road...

I decided I'd first make my way down to visit family for the holidays in Prescott and Prescott Valley, AZ where I was born and raised. This was a perfect maiden voyage, as I followed my parents from San Miguel to there.  We were able to address bugs with the van as a small group, as life on my own for the first time was quite intimidating.  I didn't really want to let on...but being a single lady on the road by myself was a big change from my 17 years of marriage in a house or RV.  I knew I could do it, and was excited for it, but I welcomed not doing the first leg of my new life on the road alone.

Jazz Hands! (Thanks, Dad!)

The van did well overall, and I even spent a few nights sleeping in the cold AZ nights in the van to see how it might be. At that point it was not insulated, and, while I found out that I could do it if I had to, the cold outside and the heat from my body created condensation on the metal that was pretty significant.  That would have to be addressed for future comfort for sure.

Following mom and dad to SLC
After a great week or so in AZ, my parents followed me as far as Salt Lake City.  There we parted ways after (another) tearful goodbye and I decided to head to Colorado for a bit.  I had heard that there may be some shearing work over that way, and I wanted to check it out.

Wyoming in late Dec.

It worked out that I could help out with some bison shearing while I was there, which was a total trip.  During my time in Colorado, I generally stayed in AirBnB's rather than the van.  I did stay in the van one night and woke to this...

Meh...what's a little snow and negative degree weather...?

Needless to say, without the van being converted yet, it was not super nice to stay in it in the winter months.

Try and make the best of it! 

Springtime Travels...

After Colorado, I got the super cool chance to go on the road with Shorn Shearing again, this time getting to go first to the Southern Loop (FL, GA and AL).  I've always wanted to go to Savannah, not only did I get that opportunity, I got to do it during a tornado warning.  I felt like this was so much more authentic!  As Audrey Hepburn says in Sabrina (my fav!), "You get yourself, not a drizzle, but some honest-to-goodness rain..."  That's what Savannah gave me!  It did not disappoint me one bit.

I <3 Savannah!

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of my very fav books and set in Savannah!

During shearing I got to see a lot of the country that I had not seen... mountains and valleys, rock formations and rivers, animals and much, much more.  It just reinforced my love for the road and getting to travel and experience as much as I can.  Van life was looking more and more up my alley.

I got to practice some llama shearing at Ranch of the Oaks in AZ

Prescott, AZ

Navajo Monument in AZ
Moab, UT area
Pretty river in Utah.
So now what....?

Upon my return to Montana in early June (where I had left my van to go on my shearing adventures) I jumped straight into truly converting the van. And that, folks, is where I pick up next post!


PS - In future posts I will cover some of the places I camped that were super cool, like the Navajo National Monument! Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Australia bound...New Adventures for Fiberton Acres...part dos...

So where did I leave off....

Hitting the road in my sort-of-converted van!

Well...let me back up a little.

After my split, I had decided to begin a whole new career. As you are well aware of if you follow my blog or social media (or Etsy shop), I am an avid yarn crafter and love working with animals.  About 5 years ago or so, I met an alpaca shearer who I was quite impressed with at a shearing day and I caught the bug.  I asked to help out whenever he came through the area.  It was fascinating work, and it dovetailed so well into my passions for travel, animal husbandry and fiber arts. And it was a physical challenge that I loved.

And in 2018, I was invited to be the worker for Shorn Shearing on all of the California and Arizona loops of the shearing season. It was an eye opening experience, and I was excited to begin learning to actually shear.  I sheared my sheep at the time, and then those of a friend with a small herd.  I was slow and it kicked my butt, but I loved it.

Shearing Champ, my wether ram...very slowly...

Then I got the invite of a lifetime for a girl who wanted nothing more than to see the world and do this work.  Working with the shearer at the largest recorded alpaca farm in the world...in Australia.

Me?!  Could I do it?  Could I keep up and work with 150 lb alpacas all day long for close to 4 weeks straight?  I knew I could, or at least I knew I was stubborn enough to do everything I could to make it happen.  There was no f'ing way I would let this opportunity pass me up.

So that is when I quit my day job, made the difficult decision to find loving homes for my animals, and made some tearful goodbyes to family and friends.

I took a train from Paso Robles down to LAX and then boarded my 15 hr Virgin Australia flight to Sydney one late October evening.  Is there a word that means scared/excited/self-doubting/eager/proud all wrapped into one?  Because that was me. (Scexselfdoeagpro...? No...that sounds like something weird you'd find in an unsavory location online...hmmm....don't google that. lol)

Soon enough I found myself on a new continent for the first time in my life.  I got into a car on the wrong side, and drove down the wrong side of the streets, which was both exciting and terrifying after sleep deprivation.

A cool alley in Cooks Hill, New South Wales
Merino sheep sculpture/building!

I spent my time there getting to do some sight seeing, as well as working the hardest I had ever done.  I liken it to running a marathon (which I have only done a full marathon once)...you question what you're doing (and why) over the course of it many times, but you feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment at the end.  My hands were swollen to the point where I had to cut several rings off and I was exhausted but I grew quite a bit stronger, both mentally and physically.

My first day...and first view of a truly full shearing shed. Soon to be much cooler alpacas!

After cutting my first ring off...

And after the first week and an empty shearing shed!

Our biggest day!  113 alpacas sheared! 
I also proved to myself and those in the shearing shed that I could do it. (I was the first female worker they have had in there in that capacity...) And I made some awesome new friends.

It was bittersweet heading "home"... I knew I was going back to the uncertainty of my new life...to a packed up van ready for new travels but to places I was still unsure of.  I was also excited to see my friends and family back in the states and recount some of the tales...like of the crazy (to me) animals I saw, and the lovely beaches I relaxed on and the great food and show off my new muscles.

Beach in Terrigal, NSW

Just a normal sized lizard to Australians...

And a 'small' spider...

At the zoo...these are like seagulls over there!

Sydney Opera House

Blowhole rock feature in Kiama, NSW

A koala at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney

So really...it was then I hit the road...

More soon!