I’m Deanna, the first half of Uphill Zen. I’m just a woman who decided to hit the road and travel solo full time in my classic motorhome. I’m not an expert at this. In fact, when I got started, I knew almost nothing about trucks, campers, electrical systems, etc. I’m just figuring it out as I go along, which sometimes works out better than others. 😉 But more on that later…
First, let me introduce you to Zennie – my 1986 Toyota camper, a 21-foot Sunland Express. Zennie is my transportation, my home, and my partner in crime for travel and adventures. I’m not sure where all the road will take us, but we’re going there together!
Why “Uphill Zen”?
One thing about Zennie, is that this is a big vehicle for a little engine, and we go slowly up the hills.
I quickly came to realize there were important life lessons to be learned from this…
- Patience. It’s going to take time! No trip is as fast as Google Maps says it will be.
- Humility. Everybody from oil tankers to smart cars pass us on the way up.
- Notice the little things. You can see the flowers much better at this speed! 🙂
- Trust. Yes, it’s slow, but we’re still moving, and eventually we will reach the top.
- Live in the moment. Enjoy the view, instead of worrying about how long it’s taking.
I’m still working on these lessons, and probably will be for years.
And that’s what Uphill Zen (and Zennie for short) is all about!
Why travel as a single woman?
Well, my last boyfriend and I shared a love of adventure, and a desire to travel the world. It turns out that was the main thing we shared, and it wasn’t enough to keep us together. But in the meantime, we had lots of conversations about going overlanding full time, traveling through the Americas (and perhaps further). It was an exciting dream, thinking about all the places we could go…
When we broke up, I found that I was just as upset about losing that dream as I was about the breakup itself.
And then I realized…
Why do I need to lose the dream? I don’t need him in order to go overlanding – all I need is a vehicle, and I can go by myself!
It was one of those “Duh” moments when I realized this. So I set out to find a vehicle and make it happen! 🙂
Isn’t it scary traveling alone?
This is probably the most common question I get. A lot of people think it must be dangerous out there for a woman traveling solo, and ask me whether I’m afraid or not.
The honest answer is that yes, sometimes I’m afraid. But usually I’m not afraid of the people out there, I’m afraid of vehicle issues, or other circumstances. For instance…
- When my brakes suddenly had a problem at the top of a 10,000 ft pass, I was afraid, especially since the only thing I knew about brakes was where the pedal is, and the only way to go was down, down, down.
- When I was parked on the playa at Black Rock City, with not a soul in sight, and it started to rain, I was scared. I was there at Burning Man one year when it rained, and I know the impossible mud that creates – I could easily be stuck, stuck, stuck!
- Strong winds are something I avoid when possible, but when it’s necessary to drive in big cross winds, it can be a real white-knuckle time. I love Zennie, but this is not the ideal vehicle for driving in high winds!
- As for people, I know there are bad people in the world, but I believe most people are fundamentally good. I’ve met wonderful people along the way, who really helped me out when I needed it — like the couple at the top of that pass, who gave me a ride to the next town to buy brake fluid. 🙂
So yes, I’m afraid at times, for sure! I just don’t let that stop me.
And on the plus side, there’s nothing like the freedom you have when traveling solo! There’s nobody to compromise with — I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. It’s an exhilarating feeling! 🙂
Travel writer rolling slowly and exploring the world with my vintage Toyota camper (Zennie). 😎🚐🌎 Latest book = Adventurer's Guide to Yucatán (link).
Why not wait until I was better prepared?
I could have spent years getting both Zennie and me better prepared for the trip.
I did a lot of work on this camper in a short period of time, to make it a workable, livable vehicle that I could travel with. But there were a ton of projects I didn’t get to, and a lot of other things I could (or should) have done (like really sealing those roof leaks)!
I could have educated myself on things automotive and electrical, so that I’d know how to research problems, and what to do about them.
But the bottom line is that I could have spent forever getting ready. The list of projects just kept growing – every time I changed one thing, I’d discover 2 more that I’d like to do, too.
Back in my IT days, we talked about “analysis paralysis“, where you keep analyzing in greater depth, and never get around to actually doing anything. It’s an easy problem to fall into, especially if you have any perfectionist tendencies. 😉
So to avoid the paralysis of a never-ending project list, I had to draw the line somewhere. And I knew I wanted to get through the northern states before winter hit, so that gave me a deadline.
Ready or not, we hit the road! 🙂
That’s Uphill Zen in a nutshell!
So that’s our story, and welcome to our site! Please browse around while you’re here.
You can also find us on social media:
You can also use our Contact Us form to send an e-mail.
Thanks, and have a fantastic day! 🙂
- Deanna & Zennie