The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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Portland, ME

cape spearOperation Silver Snail was hatched after a solo road trip around the Canadian Maritimes with Riley (my dog) in July and August of 2007. For six weeks, we traveled coastal roads and tented it, slept in the car, or succumbed to the lure of a hotel when it seemed good for our health. Most of the time was spent in Newfoundland and Cape Breton island and it was an extraordinary experience that stretched my boundaries of what I thought I could do and where I could go. Eventually, work responsibilities beckoned and the budget ran out, so I half-heartedly made the journey home. I was eager to see friends and my cozy apartment again, but the idea of staying in one place made me restless. I wanted to see more.

Very soon after getting home, I wracked my brain to find a way to keep traveling - in a way that Riley, Peyote (my cat) and my graphic design business could come with me. I knew my office could be portable, as I've brought it along on plenty of vacations, and my major clients supported the idea. Initially, I investigated buying that sailboat I've always wanted to live on, but found it was still out of my price range. I wondered if there was some way i could travel AND save money. I posed this idea to my friend Amy, and she plainly said "Why don't you just get an RV? " Yeah... but I wasn't the RV-type. I was always a tent camper and resented how the huge RVs invaded my nature-time with their imposing size, loud generators and flickering televisions. But, a few days later - it came to me - an AIRSTREAM! I'd always loved those silver bullets and, in my mind, they weren't really RVs, they were works of art. The Airstream trailer was an icon, a symbol of a freedom – one that has inspired generations to not only travel, but to live passionately, with spirit and style. While I loved the vintage models, I didn't want a project and I didn't want to scour the country looking for the perfect one. Winter was looming and I wanted to escape sooner than later. With a quick trip to the nearest dealer, i learned that I could afford (and my Toyota 4-Runner could pull) a twenty-footer. With a 2-year warranty, i wouldn't have to worry about repairs for a while. So I did more research and crunched the numbers, and on September 14, I was towing The Silver Snail back to Portland, Maine from Massachusetts.


Many, many, many thanks to my sailing friend Ted for taking an entire day to come with me to the dealer to pick it up. It was a huge deal and while my mind was distracted with thoughts like "Holy crap, this is really MINE? Am I really going through with it?", Ted helped to make sure everything was in proper working order before we drove off. Towing my 4,000 pound shiny new home for the very first time was a very careful task, and I think I did fairly well, but halfway home I was beat and gave the wheel to Ted, who skillfully got us home at the end of a very long day. I had never towed anything before. It was suggested to me that I see how I like it before committing to the purchase, but I figured it was just something I'd learn to do - a minor detail, really. I was only going to know by doing it.

Special thanks also to my good friend Chris for giving me a place to park on his farm while I went about rearranging my life for the big departure. Since I lived in a 4th floor walk-up in the middle of the city, it was great to not worry about the trailer in the meantime.


I wanted to leave Maine by November 1st, escape the cold and travel for a while - a year, maybe more, maybe less - essentially immerse myself in the nomadic life. It was a bit overwhelming. I knew very little about electrical systems, black and grey water, hitching, towing, propane, plumbing and everything else related to a home on wheels. I had to liquidate most of my superfluous belongings via yard sales, ebay, consignment, and craigslist, then figure out what to do with the rest of my stuff, and figure out what to do about my apartment. On top of that, I was entering into my busiest work season. On top of THAT, a Norwegian friend I had met in Canada called to invite me to visit Norway. I couldn't refuse.

So I went to Norway for two weeks and had a great time sailing the frigid coast, flying a twin-prop plane, scuba-diving in a dry suit, speed-boating into Lysefjord, and jumping into the cold Norwegian water from a steamy hot tub.

When I returned to Portland, I still had mounds of stuff to get rid of and needed to find a subletter. I put a "free" sign on the sidewalk and unloaded lots of books, gave the rest of my useful belongings to friends, and, as luck would have it, sublet the apartment to a friend of my neighbor's. Of course I didn't make it out of Portland by November 1. Nope. I got everything squared away by December 20 and finally left Portland for......Cleveland. Cold, gloomy Cleveland (my hometown) for Christmas with the family. Let the propane burn.

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