It’s only been three weeks since our last post yet so much has happened. We made our beeline home and arrived on time. We cleaned up and unpacked the Tardis and I was home for a whole day before I flew to Oklahoma City for a little storm chasing. It was just a couple of days but after spending months on the road, I loved the idea of just being out for a couple of days instead of a week or more like we usually do. Also, I would much rather be in someone else’s van when the big storms roll across the plains than towing an Airstream! After a couple of days of chasing through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas, I flew back home and the next chapter began.
When we started this trip, we had a number of questions that we wanted to answer but the biggest one was also the most vague. That questions was, “What’s next?” Leslie had finished writing and had published the book she had been working on for several years. I was finishing a long term project at work. We had sold our big house that we raised our kids in and they were both in (or through) college. With all of the distractions and familiarity of home, though, we couldn’t really get ourselves very far into that question. We needed to really shake things up – tear ourselves away from the familiar and jump into the discomfort of different. So we embarked on the planning and then the execution of the first leg of our travels in the Tardis.
When we got home, we knew we were pretty close to being able to being able to answer the question but we needed just a little more time to process what we had learned. Here are some of the big lessons.
- We love Whidbey Island, and Langley in particular. While we were on the road, I wondered “What if we lived here?” about every place we visited or thought about visiting. While lots of the places we saw were fascinating or lovely, none of them matched what we love about the Seattle area and Whidbey Island.
- Am I done with work? Am I ready to retire or change jobs completely? Nope. I still like what I do and I missed the social interaction with other smart, techy people. Also, I’m a bit too young to stop altogether so, upon our return home, we realized that I need to ask that “What’s Next?” question not just about what we do, but about what I’ll be doing.
- What about my photography? I love getting out to interesting places and creating interesting photos that capture the essence of that place. I’ve built up a pretty big collection of photos but the thing I kept wondering was, “to what end?” Capturing the shots is great and filling up the website and Facebook with them is nice but I really want to share these with more people, and figure out if they are just nice enough to “Like” on Facebook or are people willing to pay to be able to enjoy my work?
- Leslie was also looking for a new endeavor and she wanted to get closer to the community in Langley. Of the two of us, she was the most eager to get home to Whidbey Island.
So after a few days of bouncing between a few dozen combinations of options we arrived at the solution. We are opening a fine art photography gallery in Langley. Leslie will be running it while I will be curating the collection – first with my work and soon after with other photographers from the area. I’ll keep working at Microsoft in Redmond but the hope is to be able to work from Langley a couple of days a week, and stay in Redmond on the other nights to avoid the absurdly long commute as much as possible. Opening the gallery in Langley helps both of us get more connected to the community in a much deeper way than we have in the past and continuing to work in Redmond lets me continue to work with a bunch of outstanding people with the added side benefit of keeping me from driving Leslie absolutely crazy by being at home all the time.
Last week, we signed the lease on a little shop on First Street in Langley and created The Poppybank Gallery, LLC. We’ll have a bunch more to share about that in the coming weeks but we are working feverishly towards opening the shop in late May. Langley’s big tourist season runs from June through September so we’re going to have a very busy summer!
What about the Tardis? Well, as I mentioned, I’ll be staying near Redmond a few nights every week and what better place to stay than in our Airstream? Today, we hitched the Tardis up to Ruby again and I drove from Langley to Fall City, Washington to the Tall Chief RV Resort and this will be our little pied-à-terre for at least the next few months. It feels so much more homey than hotels or apartments and, I gotta say, it’s great to be back in our Airstream again.