Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

You can contact us at werkingwells (at) gmail . com

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Selling it all...

One of our first steps in this process of leaving it all was the garage sale. We held it on a beautiful February day. Many of our friends came by and we made enough to get us as far as Grants Pass! My only regret is selling the grill so early in the process. It seems that it is the one useful thing we still might need. Oh well, guess we'll just use the oven.

(You can click on the picture--or any of the pictures that we display in the blog-- for a higher-resolution version)

Garage Sale Sign

We must give credit for the idea of this sign to George and Sally (who had done something very similar to this a few years ago). Dylan was our graphic designer. Not only did this prompt people not to bargain us down too much on our prices, but it was fodder for some really interesting conversations. People wanted to know what we were up to, and what kind of plans we had. All the comments, especially from the older visitors were very positive and supportive. Many said they wished they had had our bravery when they were younger. Only time will tell if its bravery or sheer insanity!

(You can click on the picture for a higher-resolution version)

Thursday, March 24, 2005


It isn't easy disengaging from our grown up life. About two years ago I (Loey) started making noises about taking a really huge trip, to see the world and to let go of everything we have here in order to do it. Kind of like Siddhartha Guatama as he quested for enlightenment before becoming the Buddha, or Moses traipsing off into the desert. Except this trip has no religious overtones, and it's a lot harder selling a home, quitting a job and leaving your life while bringing along an eight year old than just wandering away from the tent or palace.

What we are hoping to do is take at least a year off, maybe more while adopting the nomadic life. We are leaving Portland in August 2005, first to visit Andy's family for a mini-reunion in Bozeman Montana, and then flying from there via Seattle to Japan. Our route should be Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, India, New Zealand, Australia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and then over to Central America. After New Zealand the trip planning gets a little fuzzy because it's so far away, and we're really not sure what countries we will be able to visit, what ones will be safer/saner than others and where we will want to sit and park ourselves for awhile. That is part of the beauty of this trip, there are no hard agendas we must follow, and we can alternate our routes as the desire hits.

We are not the first or only family to do this. I have been doing quite a bit of research on trips like this and there are a couple of great books and websites that pioneer round- the- world (rtw) families have created. One of the better known books is One Year Off, by David Elliot Cohen. In it, David has a mid-life awakening and decides to take his wife, three kids and the kids sitter on a round the world journey. It's a fun read in the form of e-mail dispatches that he sent to friends and family. Another good book is Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick. Daniel takes his 13 year old son and 8 year old daughter on a trip around the world that takes 5 months. His goal is not only to process a painful divorce he and his wife have just had, (and the recent death of his brother) but also to show his kids some of the great natural wonders of the world before they're bulldozed over for more Walmarts, or factories that create stuff for Walmarts.

I've encountered a couple of websites on-line, that families who have traveled rtw have created. One well-designed one was by the British family, the Flemmings who spent a year abroad with their two kids It is especially interesting to read what they thought of the United States. One that we especially liked was done by an American family who left Alaska, traveled for a year, and then resettled in Portland. Their site is at The really cool thing is that we have met this brave couple, George and Sally, through our mutual friends Daksha and Suzanne, and they spent an afternoon with us over tea and cobbler telling us about their adventure. It has been very helpful just talking to people who have made a similar life change that we are going to make. Like a seasoned parent to a new parent, they understand the reasons, the challenges and the support needed to embark on this kind of journey. But before we can take that first step, we must tackle a to-do list as long as the route from here to China, or at least Salem.

At this point Dylan and I have been totally immunized for every tropical disease there is a vaccination for, except Yellow Fever (only because we are not planning on going into sub-saharan Africa). The trauma of these vaccinations have hit Dylan and I in different ways. She has screamed, cried, hid under the chair, begged for sugar, and generally acted like we've tortured her for the sheer joy of it. The rabies vaccination was especially painful and she shed huge "Alice in Wonderland" like tears over all three that she had to endure. Aside from a few whimpers, the physical pain of the shots I endured was mild compared to the sticker shock once I had to pay for them each time. Let's just say immunizations for overseas travel is not cheap! We went to our local travel clinic which is fairly reasonable but at $159.00 per rabies shot, (and we each need three) plus the shots for Japanese encephalitis, hep A&B, the oral typhoid, just for the two of us it's well over $3,000.00! And Andy hasn't completed his shots yet! Fortunately our insurance covered the tetanus, mmr, and polio boosters.

We've had our shots, we have our passports with semi-flattering photos, we've had our health and dental check ups, the will has been updated, and all of our ducks are slowly getting lined up in a row. So what's left? Oh yeah, paying for this! In a typical American fashion, we are lousy savers. Yes we have the 401(k) (which we would not touch for this) but on the whole the money for this trip is coming from the sale of our house and personal belongings. We live in a lovely English Cottage style home in a nice part of Northeast Portland and we have about 5 years of equity in our place. Five years is the longest Andy and I have lived anywhere together, and so it doesn't seem too crazy for us to move somewhere new. The housing market is still pretty hot here, and to our advantage, and quite truthfully Andy and I would make really lousy landlords. We don't want to worry about our stuff or our home and it will just cause us undue stress to find out about a leaky toilet while we're in Thailand. Plus, we're not even sure when or even if we will return to Portland since we are both open to the idea of working overseas after this trip. Yes, we realize it is unsettling for many to think about not having a home to come back to, or not knowing what kind of job we will take, or even bailing out of the great American dream, which is our life. We have the lovely house, the cute kid, the newish car, the great job, the ability for me not to work, why do we want to mess with that and stick a big ole' finger in the pot? Because it's an adventure and the closest thing we come by adventure in our life is watching the Amazing Race on TV. Because we are always curious, and our curiosity has stirred us off the porch swing to see what's going on around the block, and because it's something we both want to do so much(honestly I haven't had to con Andy into wanting this, he just needed some "gentle" guidance) that if we didn't do this when we could, I worry about myself becoming a really mean bitter person when I'm older, constantly regretting that we chickened out of what we really wanted to do. So to put it into that perspective, why not sell the house, the cars, and the furniture we don't need, or that wont fit into our 10x10 storage unit, and pay for this trip up front, rather than chain ourselves to an uncertain future with huge financial debts?

That said, the house goes on the market on April 5th! Should we sell quickly and need to get out, we plan on renting something through July close to where we live now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

So what's with the name?

Loey and I spent some of the day today trying to think of a good name for our blog and email address. After much go-round, she finally hit on "Only Planet" and figures it'll be the title of the book she'll write about our trip, with the subtitle "One Child, One Year, One Planet" (or something like that). So I, being the technology geek of the family, went to to see if I could set up the name for us (I've already checked with the US trademark office to make sure that we don't run afoul of any megacorporation). Since "onlyplanet" is already taken (by some guy who started his blog and then hasn't posted for 6 months--quit parking on the name, for pete's sake!), I set us up as . And now we've got a place to put all our meandering thoughts about the big journey that we're about to undertake......


Friday, March 18, 2005

Who are we? What are we doing?

Greetings. We are a family of three about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. In August 2005 we plan to set off for at least a year and travel around the world. We are Andy, Loey and Dylan Wells and we currently live in Portland Oregon.

Andy(37) is a mechanical engineer who has worked for the same company for the past 12 years. He grew up in Colorado and Montana and went to college in New Hampshire and California. He met Loey at a Youth Governor's Conference for the state YMCA program in Helena Montana in 1985. They passed flirtatious notes back and forth and kept in sporadic contact for six years before Loey called him up and proposed a visit. From that moment on they were inseparable and have been married since 1993, when they moved from Southern California to Portland Oregon. Andy has traveled to Europe three times, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Andy loves being in the great outdoors, as evidenced by his work on the Dartmouth ski team, Dartmouth Outing Club and his long bike rides. Unfortunately since having a full time job, and a kid, Andy has had to cut back on his recreational time, but hopes that there are a few outdoor adventures in store for him on this trip.

Loey (38) is a writer/stay-at-home-mom/professional dilettante who can be found either sucking down the iced tea at Milo's Cafe, or browsing the stacks at the local library. Loey was raised in Colorado and Montana and did her respective university stints in Missoula Montana, and here in Portland Oregon. Originally Loey and Andy came to Portland so that Loey could attend the law school here and grow up to be an environmental lawyer. Loey soon discovered (within the first semester of law school) that she was a square peg being pounded into a round hole at the law school, and no matter how much she tried, she couldn't figure out how to be lawyer-like. She blames it on that damn ethics exam. Shortly after graduating from law school, Loey and Andy had their daughter Dylan and since then Loey has been a full-time caregiving parent, board member, volunteer at Dylan's school, professional fundraiser, writer, and social director. (not only for her family's life, but often for those around her as well.) Loey's lust for wandering first surfaced after a trip to NYC when she was 12. A three month backpacking trip through Europe in '91, travel to New Zealand, Japan and South Korea (the motherland) further planted the seeds in her mind for this trip. Loey's mid-thirties crisis brought the idea for this trip to the forefront so she takes the responsibility of being the grand instigator as well as researcher.

Dylan Elizabeth (8) is the best possible sport about this entire adventure. Dylan is currently a second grader at Hollyrood Elementary in Ms. Lindeman's class. Her favorite subjects are reading and project time and she really hates missing any recess period. Dylan's passions include eating sushi, watching Hayao Miyazaki movies (her favorites in descending order are Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle In the Sky, and Kiki's Delivery Service) reading, and RATS!!! Dylan had two pet rats, Tara and Sara who are cherished more in their afterlife, than they ever were alive. Dylan has enjoyed two trips to Hawaii, one to NYC, three to Boston, numerous trips to Disneyland and a big trip to Japan. Her goals on this trip are to visit every Disneyland in the world, and to find the best ice cream in every city she visits. Even though many well-meaning adults say that Dylan is the luckiest person in the world and that she will see the coolest things ever, she is forgiven for being doubtful, since at the age of eight, she's not sure what the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, or the Grand Bazaar mean in the scheme of things. She just knows she will miss her close friends and hopes they keep in touch via e-mail. Dylan will be homeschooled (or should we say worldschooled) while on the road.