the (often) meandering travels of a student anthropologist
Field Notes: August, 2017 - Asheville, NC
My original date to get on the road was the end of August. An urgency has descended as I try to finish Juno up to be road worthy. Despite my best efforts, my deadline gets extended again, and again. Here I include a note to a professor about motivations, and I list what has been accomplished and what still needs to happen with renovations.
Note to one of my professors:
"Someone recently told me we live our lives one of three ways: treadmill, saga, or pilgrimage. Take your pick, she said, for it is a choice you must make every day." [Also, these are the] first lines of Gutsy Women: Travel Tips and Wisdom for the Road by Marybeth Bond.
I looked it up - the idea seems to originate from The Struggle of the Soul by Lewis Joseph Sherrill, (I believe) a Presbyterian minister. Here is a discussion of the concept from a christian blogger: https://ferrellfoster.com/2011/11/17/pilgrims-on-the-road-to-somewhere/ He defines pilgrimage as follows: "A pilgrimage means to go somewhere with a purpose, often of a spiritual nature, in order to gain some internal or external benefit. (Ferrell’s Unwritten Dictionary)"
I feel in a way I am doing a pilgrimage - fieldwork, a thesis, finding a new direction for the second half of my life that is, if nothing else, authentic.
...there is a blogger that puts herself out there as transexual and I am reading their presentation as female). If interested here is her video channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwaGC6GC3yS48u-D4vTcv0g
I didn't realize she was until after I'd followed her for a few months and I had admired her for changing out her fridge herself (they are heavy). When I finally read that on her about notations I was dad gum - that's cheating. She has man muscles!! But, I have to say I got a lot accomplished before I realized that so have to hand it to her - she was my inspiration.”
I’m not where I need to be at this point. Every project has been more expensive and taken more time than I expected. And I’m feeling nervous about leaving. The first night in the RV (in the yard) I was overwhelmed with feelings of strangeness and “what the heck am I doing?” I didn’t expect this. I have always loved driving, road trips, starting over, and I loved living in an RV when I did it with Rick back in mid-2000s. How do women juggle family, friends and those connections? How do they make a vehicle a home? I expect I’m particularly obsessed with the home and hearth aspect. I wanted my RV to feel really nice and my time and attention has gone a long way into making it pleasant. Not everyone would. But women do seem to put a little more effort into it (at least what I’ve glimpsed on interviews and in vlogs).
RV is being sealed - I opted to do it professionally - I can’t afford more serious work if rot starts. Big chunk of change. I’ve now spent on the mechanics and RV place about $3500-$4000 and still have a round of mechanical work to go.
But I have working systems - propane is good - stove/oven, refrigerator and heating all work.
Electric is all working - I have fans, lights, 12v and 110, a converter to recharge the battery (if I’m plugged in) and the alternator charges it when I am driving (this isn’t enough - still need solar/generator - some sort of combination thereof. A.C. works.
Plumbing - toilet, water pump, tanks all good now - just have to replace kitchen faucet and drains. Later I need to hook up water heater to see if it works and change out bath faucet (which has a diverter for the shower) - but for now baths will be gyms, truckstops and lots of baby wipes 🙂
Exterior - between my work and fixits is sealed and should be good through the winter season. I still need to create some insulation for windows.
Interior is done - just some final painting and there’s a storage space I want to build out on top of the fridge that is going to have to wait - but bedding and curtains are all done and flooring is finally finished. Most everything painted except bathroom.
Working on my communications and electronics - one antenna/booster is in for cellular but probably needs a better antenna. Still need to order/wire in one for wifi for those times I’m near public hotspots. Backup camera is working - just waiting on extension cable to wire that in. Still need 12v accessory outlets in.
Heat - Denver. Winter. Must think about heat. The furnace sucks both propane and electric. If I can’t hook up I need to work more with catalytic heat and more resources to recharge batteries.
Communications - working - ordering and setting up services - right now it’s overwhelming to try to cover every eventuality cheaply.
These field notes, while essentially raw, are an edited version. While I have tried to leave them intact in order to offer my project visitors an authentic peek into the process of creating an ethnography, as well as my own emotions concurrent with the experience, at times I have needed to remove or modify information to protect my relationships, or my informant's privacy. Grammar and spelling is only modified when necessary for readability, I've designated omissions with [...], and sometimes will add hover notes for clarification. Please see methodology for more information.