All posts by gogirlinvest

Montana mom of 3 with great husband. Nursing background in hospice and hospital care management. Organizer of WREIN (Women Real Estate Investors Network) originating in Butte, Montana.

Madeline Island Slowdown

Niles, Mike and I caught one of the last trips of the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island on the 11th after flying from Bozeman, Montana to Minneapolis, MN. The ferry operator was super efficient in affect and motion to guide trailers, cars, bikes and pedestrians on and off the boat in the the dark. You can tell locals from tourists easily by T-shirt age, posture and affect. We had our phones out snapping the moon. Gawking and ahhhing. Full tourist mode in new clothes and excited faces.

The Ferry empties it’s tourists straight into La Pointe. We stayed a block from where we landed. We joined in with groups of family finding what they wanted in and out of the shops and bars, woods and water. From the condo porch we could see the town’s main bar. Story has it that the bar burned enough times that now just the large tarp is the roof solution. Lots of happy noise comes from the place, live music. There was also live music in the park in front of the Tavern and an open market.

The goal of this trip was to get with family and do a lot of visiting while celebrating Andrea and Bob’s wedding. Andrea and Bob come regularly to the Island to get away. Their wedding and party was held at Joni’s Beach a short walk from where we stayed at the Bell Street Tavern. Bob and Andrea said their vows privately on the dock while the wedding party clapped our support.

My favorite private moment for myself was at the Ojibwe burial ground saved in the 1980s from development. Mike and I had a good sit there by the marina. Under a tarp, there is a carved canoe. The signage there prompted me to find this website to read more about the significance of the Island and its people:

From where we stayed in La Pointe, we could also walk from the condos to a Wilderness Park within the Casper trails which we started calling the Fairy Forrest. There is a kid camp that had built lean-tos on deadfall all over the understory giving the feeling of otherworldly inhabitants.

For us, the significance of this trip was being plucked from our tasks of make-ready for our upcoming trip to South America and instead be with relatives, make meals together and listen to family stories. I’m thankful to Andrea and Bob for making this possible.

Gap Year Planning

“(L)et them take risks, for Godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches — that is the right and privilege of any free American.” Edward Abby 1968.
Ok, maybe not eaten by bears and buried by avalanches but certainly, let them get tried and tested. Gap year here we come!

It was Vivian’s idea. She didn’t have a strong direction for college after COVID high school these past 2 years. When asked what she wanted to do after graduation she had a look of waking from a dream not knowing the day. Oh boy, we aren’t ready to launch.

After thinking a bunch, she proposed a gap year. A gap year of travel. A gap year traveling with us. Oh! Well, I accept this challenge.

Mike retired 12/31/21 after a very involved career as a Groundwater Engineer at Pioneer Technical Services (love). I have a fantastic nursing job at SWMTCHC (great place to work) and have been told it’s probable I can return after the gap year. He and I had geared our investments for this kind of opportunity. We had planned for the ability to be adaptable.

Honest, it’s very surprising how the seeds planted a decade ago have come to fruition. We spent many nights together going over excel spreadsheets to determine how and when to invest. We used a “pay yourself first” budget which takes your planned savings out before your bills and well before your fun spending.

The money I never saw wasn’t missed unless my mind was pulled into the violence of comparison. You know the kind that makes you jealous of someone’s new kitchen or wonder if you shouldn’t just buy a new car. Middle class is full of financial pitfalls that are completely self-induced.

Luckily, Butte, Montana is a very casual town. Our kids didn’t mind Goodwill treasures. We may have felt that saving and investing aggressively was too much suffering in another town. Plus, we have great friends who tend not to judge. The best kind.

So, we will launch soon by driving/camping from Butte, Montana to Houston, Texas. We will put the truck campers into a 40 foot shipping container. After they are loaded, we fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina via Bogota, Columbia. The stop in Columbia will allow us to break the flight up for the dog and do a Spanish intensive before the truck campers arrive by shipping container in Argentina.

Here is a fun book to read if you just had the impulse to say “Don’t go there, you will die, it’s not safe”

I’ve been listening to this book while getting ready for this trip. Fantastic information and inspiration.

Once we are done in Columbia, we go to Argentina to find our vehicles and start the journey North. El Norte! We have been asked if we will drive all the way back.

It’s possible to travel by land all the way back to Butte, except for that pesky Darien Gap which requires shipping the trucks from Columbia to Panama. The gap is not a gap in land but rather a gap in passable road. The land connecting Panama and Columbia is watershed jungle that has been deemed to environmentally fragile to allow roads.

Also, it’s really the place people are told not to go because it’s not safe and you will die. They are told this by the people who live on either side,so sounds legit. So, we would ship around that gap.