• sparkfireswan

A&A in North Country

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

So it’s the end of week #3…

It’s funny, I swear more people have been concerned with how the Bengal cats are adjusting than how Adam and I are doing …

The good news is that the kitty babies are doing better every day – slowly adjusting to their new roles as adventure cats. I think it’s safe to say they are finally well adjusted to the trailer, and seem to feel safe in here and familiar with our belongings. However, they are far from being adjusted to traveling in the van and may not reach that point for along time coming. I have been trying a few different calming treats to see if I can get them to relax and settle anxieties of separation and travel – but the problem is I’ve tried 3 different brands now and they don’t care to eat any of them. I did also try a pheromone spray that you spray in the area intended for them to calm down in, and that didn’t seem to do anything at all either … Ha! So the search to relax the Bengals while traveling continues. Honestly traveling in the van with the Bengals is one of my biggest stressors right now (the maiden voyage trip up with them was NOT good … see below when I discuss that day). I just want to do anything I can to make them as happy and comfortable as possible!In the meantime, they have been living their absolute best life up here in North Country, going for exploratory walks in the yard, and encountering all kinds of new animals and smells. At night they both sleep on our bed with us, which is a completely new thing from Woodbury life, as in our previous home they had their own full bed and bedroom to sleep in and never ever slept with us.

The Maiden Voyage – May 24

That’ll be a day I never forget. Probably the most stressful day of for sure 2019, and maybe even 2018 too. That day was like doomsday on the calendar – the moment of truth when so many things came together at once. Looking back on it we already would have done some things differently and would have not planned so many humongous transitions for one Friday in May. If I could do things over I would have went and got the trailer and moved it to Stone lake first, sometime before moving out of the house.

We mostly finished packing up our van the night before, almost filled every square inch of her. The house was empty, the cats were confused, and things felt so far out of my comfort zone I can’t even put words to it all. Some things were strategically left behind in the garage, as we didn’t have enough room to cram everything that was to be in the trailer AND the van, in just the van that morning. The poor cats had to go in their oversize carrier stacked near the front of the van, but completely surrounded by stuff. Just until we go to St. Cloud anyway, and then we moved things from the van into the trailer for correct weight distribution. Roscoe whaled the entire time in the van, but was at his worse while in that crate on the drive to St Cloud. He tried to fight his way out, cried death screams, and broke my heart a 100 times over. Roscoe even ripped his nose up trying to push his way out of his crate. I felt just terrible for him and wished I could tell him it would all be okay. Rahja was mostly quiet and scared, shivering in her crate, but fairly quiet compared to Roscoe.

We were in the van for about 10 hours that day, and a lot longer than planned. It took several hours at Pleasureland before we were able to take off with The Black Pearl, and it was raining and cold and miserable. That moment we hooked up and started driving away was a real big one for Adam, as I know it was quite a feeling to be driving that thing and pulling our new home! We made it in one piece to Stone Lake and were able to back her up and get her leveled and anchored in for the first time ever in quite a remarkable amount of time, all things considered. The poor babies finally got to exit the van and explore their new home (and crawl all over the boxes and bags of the rest of what we owned).It was all pretty surreal, and in the moment didn’t feel like anything but pure chaos spinning around me. It was a day you couldn’t wait to get here, but couldn’t wait to be done with either! Needless to say, we slept like babies that night – all 4 of us, and woke up full in the element of tiny living. [I think it was so cold that first weekend that we also got to test ride our propane tanks too – brr I’m a freeze baby!]

Adjusting to tiny living

It hasn’t just been all sunshine and pontoon boats up here, we have had stressors, challenges and obstacles to overcome too. Some of the biggest adjustments have been the transition to smaller space, less stuff, eating, cooking, and cleaning. Honestly it isn’t as bad as you would think, and our trailer is a LOT more spacious than it would seem. There are deep storage spaces everywhere you turn and that allows you the ability to tuck so much away and out of sight. We still have a full queen bed, a dining room table, and two recliners. I definitely wouldn’t want to go any smaller with the four of us (two Bengals + us), but I think this space works just right for us. Plus we have the added BONUS space of the great outdoors!

Other challenges we are overcoming

  1. Bugs: I fucking hate mosquitos with every ounce of my being, in fact one is buzzing around my head right now as I write this. Last week while I was working out I found a dinosaur looking humongous beetle on my back and just about love my shit. And a few weeks ago I found a spider in my moms cabin that was honestly the size of a golf ball. NOPE. NOPE. (I know what your thinking — I’m going to obviously see a lot worse things once we get going. This is a fear I’m trying my hardest to overcome but it’s most definitely a process for me.)

  2. Fears of dark… I have been afraid of the dark since as far back as I can remember. And you see, the thing is, it’s a heck of a lot darker out here than it is in the cities! My least favorite thing is walking to the trailer in the dark and not being able to at all see what is around me or in the woods behind us. 

  3. NO NETWORK: I’ve wrote about this on Instagram before, but it’s still on ongoing challenge to get used to not being continuously plugged into the social media system. Check out the pros and cons list I made here: Instagram post.

Adam made us a vegetable and bone broth!

  1. GROCERIES, produce, price! Dude, eating right is a hell of a lot more expensive up here than it was in Woodbury! I could get everything I needed at Whole Foods, earn points off my Amazon Prime card, and even have groceries delivered. Nowadays we have to drive to Hayward and go to the only grocery store there, Marketplace, and try to sit and debate what is the best crap food to get on a budget that is still semi healthy even despite how many chemicals it’s probably laced with for being conventional food. I’ve been eating mostly organic for quite a handful of years and I just don’t want to put toxic chemicals, such as cancerous glyphosate, in my system if I can avoid it. Even if that means spending more precious money! We are in search of farmer’s markets too, and there was supposed to be one in Stone Lake but no one seems to know when it may or may not start.

  2. Friends: Obviously I miss my besties. It’s super hard to be 3 hours away from them and not just get to go indulge in HH together or have dinner and drinks on the weekends. We were fortunate enough to have two of our besties come visit us and stay with us this past weekend, but I know that is something we won’t always be able to set up. Don’t take the people you care about for granted ever! The ones who mean the most will still always be there no matter what, but just cherish every minute with them too.

  3. Doing things with trailer for first time: Like emptying our black and grey tanks – that was an adventure! (Okay honestly it wasn’t all that bad and only took like 20 minutes) Everything is still such a learning process right now though, and I know it will take time. Packing everything up and moving it and then re-settling is quite a task too and usually takes us a few hours, but I’m sure that will get better with time too. We will get through it and look back at all of this one day and be super proud of ourselves!

So what have we been doing anyway?

Honesty I’ve been spending a lot of time pacing and stressing about the house and my car selling (not really, but actually kind of.) Waiting for loose ends to tie up is stressful enough, especially when your entire adventure kind of requires both of these things to happen successfully! We never in a million years would have thought it would take this long for each of them, but we are doing our best to stay positive and strong!This is also a really great time for us to get accustomed to everything going on!

  1. What else do we need in terms of supplies?

  2. Practice loading up and settling back down

  3. Adjust to the space

  4. Cleaning more, but less to clean, and takes less time to complete

  5. Things like cooking and washing dishes take longer though – it’s that slow life

  6. Wash the laundry, air dry it on the line

  7. Reorganizing things, going through more things (Adam still says the trailer needs to go on a diet)

  8. Something as simple as making coffee is such a different and more lengthy process now with our french press. Everything is simpler, but slower, and I don’t mind it that way.

  9. Read actual books

  10. Finding a network connection to do things like write, blog, and grow my CBD online business.

TATAs weekend: Tania, Amanda, Tommy, Adam!

Enjoying north country!

There really is so much beauty all around us! We have been doing what we can to explore, canoe, fish, lakes, hike in Stone Lake and surrounding area. This truly is a peaceful part of northwestern Wisconsin and I just love all the lakes and forests. (I joke that the only thing it is all missing is some mountain tops!) There are tons of wildlife too – I don’t think a day goes by without seeing bear, deer, porcupines, or some other animal out there roaming around.

Each weekend we have been spending time with family, up at their cabins, and that come up and visit. That is a good chunk of our socialization each week and usually come Monday we are pretty drained and ready to recharge anyway. We have also been doing what we can to stop around at local businesses to see if anyone has any cash projects or cash jobs for the time we are up here – as we might as well make some money too!I love this time to learn more about Stone Lake, my families own history with this town. We even have been going to a few local events that seem like something fun to do to enjoy the summer and are trying to experience more of what Stone Lake has to offer.

Stop and smell the fresh air. Take a good look around at all the wildlife, the trees, the colors, the woods.

Taking this time up north while we get settled and situated to depart on this journey was a really great decision if you ask me. I’m thankful for the ability to have a place to go like this and I’m grateful for the people in my life that have helped make this all happen.

Wisconsin, you really are something else! I’m happy to be spending so much intimate time getting to know you.


Finances and supplies! We are always asked if we saved for a long time for this as if we had to spend a ridiculous fortune up front to make this all happen – and the truth is we didn’t and we haven’t. But we did spend specific pools of money on supplies, food, and other things, so let’s break that down further! How have we been thrifty?! What kinds of things did we get?

Here’s to looking ahead too – in the coming weeks we have our “See you later” party with friends and family, we head off west back to MN for our next stop at Sturgeon Lake, my 30th birthday, and then we take off through South Dakota!

Make sure you stay connected with us!

As long as our network connection and nomadic life allows, we will be posting weekly blog updates specifically focused on our journey, each Monday or Tuesday. (I will also still be continuing other blog posts topics and articles for Life Goals Mag) You can also follow us along on Facebook and Instagram for more daily updates and insights into our wandering whereabouts.


For more reviews, content, and other adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Spark Fire Swan.


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