Our Saga – Unabridged Version

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
~John Steinbeck

Welcome Family, Friends, Visitors and Fellow Life Travelers

This blog’s 2006 inception is a result of our Australian/New Zealand adventure. That’s when Mr. Pepper aka Scott convinced me to take 5 weeks off from work. Being self-employed, this was a frightening prospect, but I did it. And it reminded me there are more important, more exiting, and more enlightening aspects to life than devoting 70 hours/week to work. It’s been all downhill, in a skiing on powdery snow sort of way, from there.

At the time of our first big adventure together (separately and prior to our hookin’ up we traveled extensively), all the peeps in my life asked me to send postcards during the Australian/New Zealand tripulation. I don’t do postcards and not just because I’m lazy, but because I don’t want anything that resembles a chore while I’m on vacay. I also don’t see the point in spending money or wasting the paper. A blog seemed like an easy solution to that problem, because I do like taking photos and I do like expressing myself in the written word (maybe a little too much). It just made sense to keep a virtual journal to share with others. Little did I know that this form of communication to loved ones would turn into an international sensation! 😉 Since I moved from Blogger to WordPress and launched an official site in 2014, things are picking up. There must be a lot of cheeky readers out there who like adventures – at home or away.

And what about us now?  Really, wassup with us Peppers? We mind not one bit if you eat popcorn while reading the blog. We actually encourage it. I do suggest organic if you want to avoid a genetically modified snack fest.

Spanning a few continents and a dozen or so countries, our travels have taken us to new heights and brilliant horizons. Between the two of us, we have visited more than 50 countries. While I haven’t written in each of the places we’ve visited, I have taken tens of thousands of photos. One day when I’m old (er) and with nothing else to do, I’ll refresh this blog with some of my favorite images from every place I’ve ever visited.  That will never happen.

Costa Rica

We are asked a lot of questions about our current life, which at this moment doesn’t involve corporate work. While we don’t, as of the writing of this page, plan to get back on the corporate crazy train, we do have several ideas about earning some dough while living this frugal and adventuresome journey.  In the meantime, folks want to know, how are we managing this? Two extremely very young and vibrant y.o.u.n.g. people and their dog on the road. We spent two years on the road. Hard to believe. One day there will be a post or two or five about how we made this awesome dream a life reality. Hopefully we’ll call it something catchy like Two Cheeky Monkeys and their Dog on the Run from the IRS or Two NuttyNutBars Conquer the World Armed with Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes and their Frenzied Furry Companion.

In the meantime, I can give you one hint as to how we make it happen, this journey: We seek a simpler existence. Our travels look different now than when I first began writing a blog. We still have a great time, even better in many ways. But it’s different now, because we’re approaching it with a mindfulness to connect with our environment and people we meet. We are frugal, no doubt. I mean, c’mon we eat beans and rice almost every night for dinner. But we’ve discovered riches in our frugality. By connecting our resourcefulness to our needs, we’ve learned to do a lot of things on our own (DIY baby) and we’ve learned there is a lot we simply do not need. Through advocacy and a mindset of sustainability, we aim to help make the world a better place on this journey.

Scott Pepper

In this photo, Scott earned himself the nickname, Zoolander. He is Kenda’s Mr. Everything Guy.

Scott winking

He is the Head of Retirement R & D, with a special emphasis on anything smacking of “Early Retirement”, “Frugal Living”, “Investing Overseas”, and “List of 10 Greatest Places To [insert activity here]”.  A recent escapee from the Corporate Treadmill, having graciously been allowed to exit with “time served”, he is also an accredited Master Bean Maker, Body-surfing aficionado, Beach Volleyball Seeker and Guitar-Playing Rock Star Wannabe. Seeing and experiencing new places with Kenda and Stella is his life’s major goal.

Kenda Swartz Pepper

By trade, Kenda is an organizational development consultant with a Masters in Art Therapy Psychology and by travel, she is a painter, writer and photographer.

Kenda in San Miguel

Kenda in San Miguel

A Sagittarian, Kenda’s favorite food groups are chocolate and peanut butter. She also enjoys strawberry coladas and getting caught in the rain, the feel of the ocean and the taste of champagne. Kenda finds comfort referring to herself in the third person. She believes if she speaks or spells her name often enough that folks will eventually learn there is no “r” in Kenda.

While currently a recovering workaholic, Kenda finds herself deeply immersed in whatever community she currently resides. Her free time is spent dreaming about growing vegetables with Vandana Shiva and hanging out in Tanzania with Jane Goodall and her wild chimpanzees.

Kenda makes a pretty good show of pretending to be a writer and a photographer having published an award-winning children’s book entitled Well Earth Well Me! She visits schools and hangs out with children reading, singing, jumping about, and generally having a good time while talking about outrageous ways children can save the earth.

Some ask her, “Why did you write a children’s book about caring for the earth?” Her response varies from one day to the next, but the consistent theme is:  “I have faith in the infinite wisdom of children.”

Besides, “I’m worried that humans have done irreparable damage and adults can’t be trusted to make the right choices, so I’m hoping our children fix the mess created by foolish, ego-maniacal, thoughtless adults” doesn’t seem like the answer most people would want to hear. She remains hopeful. And each time she reads to a group of children who share their tremendous insights, she feels uplifted and confident that the human race will continue to thrive in sync with the earth and her inhabitants.  To learn more, check out the website to the (did she mention award-winning?) children’s book Well Earth Well Me!

Well Earth Well Me!  To order a copy, click here.

Oh, and we love butterflies.

Scott and Monarch

Scott at Cerro Pelon Sanctuary, Mexico

Our Daughters, Jaime and Stella

Stella, our canine daughter

Meet Stella, aka Punkin, Stretchy Girl, and Baby Girlfriend.  Stella is Top Dog, herder of humans, princess of love, and chaser of all things roundish or stickish.  In a recent interview, Stella was asked, “Who is the prettiest girl?” and “Who is your Mama’s baby girl?”  She enthusiastically responded by grabbing her favorite toy, Mr. Squirrel, and shoving him in the interviewer’s face.

I’m mentioning Stella first – only because she’s our regular travel companion.  And a great companion she’s been.  She has flown to and rode with us all over Mexico.  She has made friendships – human and nonhuman – with folks from all over the world.  She now speaks Spanish, English and Dogspanglish fluently.

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Our Human Daughter, Jaime

Jaime lives in Boston, so we’ve only seen her a couple times during our travels.  But we’re most proud of her because unlike Stella, Jaime is a Masters graduate of Harvard in Environmental Sustainability. She also works at Harvard, and we maximize every opportunity to talk about that. *Beaming* at how awesome she is.  I can take no credit at all, since I am merely the stepmother, but I own the pride nonetheless. If I can spin this well enough, I somehow get to look good because of her. We enjoy visits from Jaime at the various places we’ve lived.  As always, it is a joy when the whole pack is together.

Jaime DSC_7188

Jaime Florida

Our Story Starts and Continues

Our adventure began in Mexico, October 2012.

We lived in Sayulita, Mexico for eight months.  There, we built an awesome community and experienced life in a small Mexican coastal town. I joined a writer’s group and Scott honed his body surfing skills.  We took jungle walks and savored the occasional icy margarita.  Living high on a hill in a 3-walled house with a lovely peek of the Pacific Ocean, we enjoyed colorful evenings and the obnoxious call of the Chachalaca in the early morning hours. And in a 3-walled house in the tropics, we learned to connect to our inner insect.

Towards the end of our Sayulitan living experience, we fostered two sibling puppies, Frida and Diego.  Frida was the first to get adopted.  Within one week, a family wanted her in their lives.  But Diego didn’t get noticed as easily despite his gorgeous face, beautiful coat and optimistic attitude.  Eventually, he and his new Mama (two lucky souls) found one another.  Diego is happily residing in San Diego, California with his new Mom, Sarah.  It was sad to say good-bye.  It’s all good.

Scott, Stella, Diego, Kenda

Scott, Stella, Diego (our foster dog), Kenda

We then moved to San Miguel where we lived for four months. Our last month in Mexico was all about exploring the southern states our favorites being Oaxaca and Chiapas.

This journey took us to South Africa and then across the US twice, the last being on Route 66, a cool ride down mid-century memory lane.

Our journey came to an unplanned stop when we decided to provide a place with for Scott’s 90-year old dad to live. Currently, all four of us (Al, our now 91-year old Dad) happily reside in Southern Oregon. Working part-time while leisurely and carefully searching for full-time work that feeds my soul, I am earning my Master Gardener certification as Scott sharpens his carpentry/plumbing/electrical skills.

A shout-out about my Amazon promotions.  If you order products (those I mention and those you find on your own) through any of the numerous Amazon links on this site, as an Amazon Associate (an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon), I receive a small percentage of your purchase in advertising fees at no extra cost to you.

One day we’ll be writing about and detailing how we created this new way of life. But I can share now in one sentence that despite our frugal existence, being creative about making some green paper, particularly that which has the faces of presidents and founding fathers is welcomed.  Hence, Amazon. So thank you for shopping Amazon through my site.

And thank you for reading.

Update 2016: We currently live in Jacksonville, Oregon. Expect to learn a LOT about this cute lil town and the surrounding area before we move again in the coming years. Looks like we might be here for a bit as Scott’s dad now lives with us. I also plan to add more posts around the topics of sustainability and environmental justice. Good things are happening.