Two Turtles and Their Turtle Shells

We have been approaching our world tour with our heads, hearts and whatever fits in our backpacks. While traveling we like to spend as little money as possible (though we occasionally opt to spend more money in the name of comfort). We travel lightly in part to see if we can thrive with less and also because it’s way easier to travel with small bags (they’re easier to carry, we don’t have to check our luggage for air travel and we have fewer wardrobe decisions to make). It is a challenge that we enjoy and offers opportunities for us to reflect on our enculturation that more/better belongings = greater happiness.

We thought it would be fun for us to list our cargo (as it’s referred to in Guns, Germs and Steel) and possibly interesting for you to read about. Kind of like how it can be fascinating to look into someone’s medicine cabinet when you’re in their bathroom. Below is a list of most of the things we carried with us on the Camino, though some of our belongings have since been liberated

20130728-143953.jpg In the months leading up to our departure from Portland we sifted and sorted through our possessions. For David this process took 6+ months of mental preparation before he even felt ready to let stuff go. The apartment was emptied. Many of our belongings were gifted to friends or donated to Goodwill. The remaining items we’ve chosen to keep are being stored by generous friends and family (thank you Erin & Nathan, Kjell & Hillary, Anne, Allison, Jason, Kagan & Danielle and Neighbor Dylan!) or kept in a low-cost storage unit (thank you, storage unit).

Parting with stuff can be a difficult and sometimes emotional process; “I know I haven’t used this in three years but what if I need it later?”, “I love this [random nonfunctional item] so much”, “I got this thing on sale for only $8! I can’t let this go!”, “This is an heirloom/has sentimental value/is a pile of legal or tax documents that I should probably retain for future reference”, “These pants don’t fit quite right, but if they did they would be my favorite” were bargains, pleas and sentiments we wrestled with frequently. Because one of Austin’s favorite activities is purging personal belongings (What does she like even more than than getting rid of her own stuff? Helping other people get rid of their stuff!), we did pretty well at the task. Now that we are far away not only do we not miss having access to the stuff we’ve chosen to keep (though Austin does miss her Fluevogs), but we can’t even remember the things we’ve gotten rid of and we’re certain there’s even more we can do without upon our return (yes, Mom, this means we are still planning to return).

After months of getting along comfortably with just the bare necessities (like our small quick-dry microfiber towels, for example) normal accoutrements that we otherwise take for granted (like freshly laundered, full-size cotton towels) feel like the most amazing gift of luxury. The best part is how good it feels to be so appreciative of things that are so easy to take for granted.


Dear French Knife That We Left Behind,

We really loved you. How many picnics did we share together? Countless. How many times did you open packages that teeth could not tear? Innumerable. How many times did we rely on you for protection when we found ourselves in the midst of a brutal knife fight? OK, none, but we definitely would have considered it had the need arisen.
You were a beauty beyond comparison. We are sorry that you look so pixilated in this photo. It really doesn’t do justice to your dangerous curves. We think of you fondly and will never forget the time we could have used you to gut a fish had there been an opportunity to do so in Spain.
Please don’t dwell on the fact that we abandoned you in a hotel room with a red poncho, pair of winter gloves and a camping fork when we left for Norway. Your joke about bringing you along in our suitcase was a good one, but we didn’t realize you were actually serious. That would be a federal crime. We will miss you but we definitely won’t miss any more of your bad ideas. Like knife fights.

Your friends,
David & Austin


16 thoughts on “Two Turtles and Their Turtle Shells

  1. I can’t imagine making it through a normal day without a pocket knife, much less on a backpacking expedition. Do you just buy a new one after every flight?

    • Fred- Good question! The need for a good or even poor quality pocket knife does arise daily, but we managed (somehow) to do with out a knife most of the time in Norway. We did have three borrowed knives while we were camping. I think it’s almost time to pick up a new knife although it will mean another sad goodbye in a few months.

      Your comments are appreciated.

  2. Love your choice of words and your way of expressing your feelings [ poor French knife 😦 ] but I do have one question: what’s a fluevog?

    • Thanks, Sue!

      Fluevog is a special shoe company. I have a pair of boots that I adore but did not bring on this trip. If you are curious you can check out some of their outrageous styles at

      How are you handling the summer weather in NY? As always, it is a delight to have you participating on the blog. Talk soon,


  3. I am still taking mental inventory of all my possessions after reading this. Hmmm….think I will start to purge my t-shirt drawer and perhaps some things that my children tossed and I retrieved for the memory. Love you lots.

  4. your ability to downsize inspires me…gosh! i need to go through my clothing. but i was mostly happy to read the part about you returning 🙂 love and hugs to you!

    • Hillary! We are both excited to hang out with you and Kjell when we get back to Portland. Hope our downsizing themes don’t create judgements in anybody about their own belongings. I still have loads of stuff in storage. -DH

  5. I’m glad you included the letter to your abandoned French knife. If you happen to write any more letters to your inanimate friends i ask you to continue sharing them here. Only if hey consent of course. Don’t want to embarrass anyone…anything…uh

  6. You guys are my tiny shell idols! But now I somehow want to add several pretty knives and a pair of high-heeled fluevogs to the already crammed contents of my extra super jumbo shell…? Sigh. (your 2nd birthday post inspired me to go back and find your first post…and I keep getting distracted on my way back there ;))

Please leave us a comment. We'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s