Newsletter – First Half 2023


Welcome to our very first Newsletter. We plan to publish these every 6 months, one in June and one in December. The idea behind the Newsletters is to let everyone follow along with what we have been up to recently, and what our upcoming plans are.

We are making great progress transitioning to our new life without work. The high level plan is very simple: spend a third of our life in New Zealand, a third in Belgium and a third in Molly, our adventure truck. Although a simple plan, in real life the details are a little more complex. We are still working through these details, making small adjustments and learning as we go. So far, it looks like we will spend

  • The summer months of February, March and April in New Zealand.
  • More summer months in the northern hemisphere, with July and August in Belgium and also Christmas
  • Spring and autumn months of May, June, September and October in Molly.
  • Of course that leaves November, December and January a little open, which gives us flexibility.
The year so far

We started the year in a very traditional way, with friends and a New Year’s Eve party at our place in Gent. A few days later we were on a plane heading back to Seattle to close down our apartment. It was a crazy week, selling, shipping or giving away everything we owned in the United States. We had a wonderful 22 years in America, but it was time to move on. Next stop was summer in New Zealand.

Our garden in Havelock North had exploded with new growth and weeds. It took many sessions to beat it back into shape. Very pleased with how it is progressing, given how young the garden is. We managed to finish the fence with the neighbours and do a little more planting and now the building works

are completely done. Stephen has a few more electrical gardening tools and building a garden shed is being seriously considered and discussed with the builder. We have also been very lucky to find a delightful couple that have agreed to look after the garden while we are not there.

We spent time in the North of New Zealand on a short trip to Russell. A very nice break and rounded out January. February saw the arrival of Cyclone Gabrielle which wreaked havoc on the Hawkes Bay. We had a few days without power and Internet, but we were very lucky, all considered. Not too much damage to our garden.

Stephen made the big decision to walk New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail, a long distance footpath from the northern tip of the North Island to the southern tip of the South Island. The walk can be done in a single effort, typically taking 4 to 6 months to complete, but Stephen plans to tackle it in four equal-ish sections each summer over 4 years, with each section taking between 30 and 45 days. This new passion allowed Stephen to buy some new ultra-light camping gear. Stephen went on some multi-day walks to test the new gear out. Including Abel Tasman Great Walk, which was just wonderful.

We had originally planned to return to the USA in mid March, but we extended our stay by a month because of the cyclone. Staying the extra month turned out to be a great idea, as the weather in New Zealand continues to be nice until at least mid-April, and it is still cold in the northern part of the USA. So, in the future, we will likely stay in New Zealand until mid April. At least this is the current plan.

Once back in the USA, we broke Molly out of storage and spent 2 months travelling around mainly California, Arizona and short stint into Utah. What a great trip we had, and the first trip we spent more than two weeks in Molly.

We really enjoy this type of adventure travel. We caught up with friends and explored new places on our wish list like Anza Borrego State Park and KofA Wildlife Reserve. We managed to squeeze in a few National Parks and a visit to Overland Expo West, where we made some new friends. Caroline headed to Europe in early June, with Stephen following a few weeks later. The gap is because of the 90 day Schengen visa free rules. During these two weeks Stephen and two good friends, went into the backcountry for a lads adventure.

We are in Belgium now, enjoying the summer and catching up with friends here. All of our “stuff” from the USA has arrived and has a new home in Belgium. Stephen has joined the local gym, with good intentions to get fit again. We have also started to plan for the next 6 months.

The next six months

We will remain in Europe until the end of August. Caroline will head to England to complete Hadrian’s Wall, and Stephen will head to Norway to walk the Massiv Ruta. Long distance walking is likely to become a bigger part of our travels going forward.

While in Gent we will enjoy Gentse Feesten and three days at Gent Jazz.

In September and the first half of October we return to Molly for a trip around British Columbia and probably Vancouver Island. It is time to revisit this amazing part of Canada.

Later in October we return to New Zealand. Stephen will start the Te Araroa trail, by walking from Cape Reinga to Cambridge. This trip should take about 35 days. Once done, the thought is to head back to Belgium for most of December and enjoy a little winter weather and of course Christmas.

More details of our travels can be found in our Latest Travel Blogs