The Ache to Travel

Fernweh: An ache for distant places; missing places you’ve never been. A certain craving for travel. A feeling even stronger than ‘wanderlust’ (Origin: German)

Will and I at the front door of our palace, Francine the Travel Machine, in La Quinta, California shortly before we crossed into Baja California, Mexico. December 2021 – Photo Credit: Cheryl Kamolz

Will found this word on a package at an outdoor store in Hood River, Oregon. At last, a word that describes how we feel! It’s been 4 months since our travel exemption was approved and we took a flight out of Australia, and 2 months on the road in our house on wheels, Francine the Travel Machine. After years of planning and preparing for this adventure, we’re finally actually doing it. It doesn’t take Will long to get in the groove. Normally his attention is bouncing all over the place (he has self-diagnosed attention deficit disorder). However, cruising in Francine on skinny winding roads of Baja California in Mexico for hours was his perfect medication and meditation. It takes me longer to chill and let go of all that was (making money, career progression, daily showers, etc). However, the strongest feeling I’ve had since starting this trip is gratitude. I reflect on the events that lead us to this beautiful place.


Will and I were both born in 1980. Will grew up in small towns of Ontario, Canada. I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, USA. Although our childhoods and upbringings were extremely different, we both developed a love for the outdoors and exploring at a young age.

In 2005 Will and I met at a great little running store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prior to that Will had landed at the University of Minnesota on a track and field scholarship and was coaching and working at the store post-university. I had gone to the College of St Benedict and moved to Minneapolis for a job after that. I had just purchased my first house near the running store and picked up a part time job because I loved the store. That’s how we met, but it was years later before we became an item.

Work mates…look at these baby faces! Random shot from Marathon Sports. Perhaps a crush was developing, but romance blossomed years later. Sometime in 2005 – Photo Credit: Chad Juncker

Significant life events form us, and my dad dying of cancer at the age of 53 is one of those for me. I was 27 at the time and quit my job in the city to move to my hometown to help run the family woodworking business shortly before he passed. It was late 2007 and the start of the Great Recession. Our business in the construction industry was hit hard. It was the perfect storm of dealing with the loss of my father and working with my dear mother to keep a business afloat. It was an extremely trying time.

For Will, a book could be written entirely on his significant life events. His curiosity and resiliency developed early, and it was an incredible village that raised and inspired him. An amazing teacher identified his talent for running, and that opened doors for him and took him around the world racing for Canada. Thankfully running brought him to Minnesota where our paths would later cross.

In late 2008, desperate to find more work for our woodworking business, I began spending more time in Minneapolis looking to expand our market. Will and I had reconnected through Facebook Messenger (this was before dating apps exploded). We started hanging out, but I didn’t want the distraction of a boyfriend. However, our conversations were long and deep and I’d never felt more understood and challenged by a “friend.” I felt completely myself. It is hard to describe, but it was easy. I couldn’t resist the connection and charm of this Crazy Canadian (my mom still has him listed in her phone under that name).

We weren’t an item for long before I proposed to Will. We’d only been officially dating a couple months when Will was on vacation in Mexico and lost his Canadian passport. The normal process of replacing a passport to get back into the U.S. didn’t work so well for Will. Since graduating university, he had been travelling across borders with his Indian Status card. His mom’s family is from the Delaware Six Nations Tribe, and they were on the land before the US-Canada border was defined. Will was asked to provide evidence of his Native American heritage and he’d be allowed back into the US. He needed to prove he was 50% “blood” Native American. His family thought it would be no problem. Unfortunately, it turned out the family tree wasn’t what they thought and Will could only prove he was about 25%. He was asked to leave the country or face deportation. It was April 2009 and a whirlwind of events kicked off. He was fired from his job for not being able to provide them with appropriate paperwork. He owned a house that he had to leave. He cashed out his 401k retirement savings. He hired an attorney to help navigate the process. I went to the appointment with him to be supportive. The attorney provided his options and asked, “How close are you two?” I started sweating. It was clear he was leaving America, and didn’t have any great options or returning. A fiance would be his easiest option. He told me he’d marry one of his friends for a visa and we’d keep dating. I didn’t like that idea.

On one of Will’s last nights before he had to depart America, he was at a bonfire with friends in Minneapolis. I was two hours away, sitting on my deck thinking and wondering what my dad would think about all this. Around 10 pm Will called from the party and his phone was passed around the fire so that all his friends could tell me to marry Will. I had already decided what I was going to do, but had to wait until he got home at midnight to call me back. At midnight, over the phone, I proposed that we get married. He accepted by stating, “Well, I can’t say no!” And just like that, we were engaged. My mom’s reaction to this news was, “You are impulsive, just like your father!”

A week later I joined Will as he removed himself from the USA. In Canada I spent a week meeting his village and then I returned to Minnesota. We spent six months apart sorting out a visa to get him back. Luckily, the same company that fired him in Minnesota for not having appropriate paperwork hired him in Canada for a different role. Six months later the same company figured out a way to get him back to the USA on a work visa. We spent $8,000 on a fiancé visa that ended up being thrown away, but at least he was back!

Our wedding on May 29, 2010. Sitting in the weeds on an old A&W orange booth I found on the side of the road.

In May 2010 we had a big wedding at my mom’s farm complete with a live band, hog roast, beer trailer, food, wine, friends & family. We honeymooned immediately after in France and Switzerland. We returned and I went back to my house to run the business and Will remained at his house in the city working his job. The honeymoon was truly over, and we spent our first year of marriage living apart.

We eventually moved in together, and spent every moment we could adventuring. While working in the US that meant being weekend warriors and taking off internationally for about two weeks each year. The topic of kids would come up. Will was definitely a partner I would have kids with. However, we loved our life. My doctor advised me that having kids wouldn’t get easier the older we got and suggested we pick an age to make a final decision on the life choice. We picked 35. On Will’s 35th birthday we summited Kilimanjaro. In our element, on the top of the mountain, all we wanted was more of what we already had. We made it official that our family would be Will & Beth and the people we meet along the way.

Completion of Mount Kilimanjaro summit hike – March 1st 2015 (Will’s Birthday)

Prior to the Africa trip, I had realized that without my dad, my heart wasn’t in the family business. It was an incredible opportunity to carry on his legacy, and I felt huge guilt in giving up on it. But it didn’t align with our dream of seeing the world and getting our living in while we had our health and one another to travel with. We were sitting with my mom at a local dive bar, the Groveland Tap, when this all hit me. I cried into my beer. My lovely mother didn’t bat an eye and supported me fully. I can’t say enough about this woman. She is a saint. We put the business up for sale and after three years on the market it finally sold. Will and I purchased big backpacks and high-end sleeping bags and figured we’d head to Patagonia for six months of adventure. However, Will’s boss suggested he look at international roles and there were openings in Australia. I had spent a university semester abroad in Australia and loved the place, so I was all in for moving down under. Will had his first remote interview from the Jordan River in Israel, his final interview from a backyard in Canada, and we moved to Melbourne Australia in October 2016.

Taking off from Minneapolis to Melbourne with the few possessions we didn’t sell! Help from the great luggage handler Matt Palazzolo. October 2016 – Photo Credit: Leah Palazzolo

We love Australia – the culture, the coffee, the weather, the friends, the wine, the beaches, the holidays, and on and on. However, you can take the crazy work horses out of America, but you can’t take the work ethic away. Will connected me with a great job at the same company as him, and it wasn’t long before we were both back in the same work routine we’d left in Minnesota. We were nearing 40 years old. We had really good jobs. We could keep on climbing and making more money. But three of our four parents died early and didn’t get to see retirement. So what was the point? We still had this ache for far away places. And a perk of our company was a 12-month career break after 3 years of service. Sign us up!

After much searching, in November 2019 Will found our perfect house on wheels in Everett, Washington. She is a 1992 Ford F250 with a 2005 Lance Camper on the back and we lovingly named her Francine. We were meant to meet her in May 2020, but COVID interfered. We endured the longest lockdown in the world in Melbourne, Australia. For 270 days we had restrictions as to how far we could go from home, how long we could be outside each day, how late we could be out each night, what we could drink while walking (coffee was OK, so we got good at drinking wine out of coffee cups). A year passed and we were homesick and yearning for this trip. Will gathered heaps of documentation and we applied for an exemption to leave Australia (we weren’t allowed to leave as permanent residents.) Our application was denied. We were crushed. We tried a second time using our mental health as a reason why we needed to get home. At last, we were approved and we boarded a plane from an empty Sydney airport on September 6, 2021.

Will sitting with all his friends at Sydney International Airport. Preparing for departure to Minneapolis – September 6th 2021

That’s the long story of how we got here, living in Francine and heading south from Seattle to the bottom of Argentina. Fernweh has proven to be the glue that has held us together for the past 13 years, and if we’re lucky, will continue to keep us chasing adventure for many more.

It’s taken me ages to document these stories. I write these posts for us, so that we will have a record of our crazy love story and can read this for years to come and continue to feel gratitude. Thank you to any beautiful people who wish to follow along.

15 thoughts on “The Ache to Travel

  1. omg i loved reading this so much Beth, it made me cry! So happy to see you and Will living your best life! Every time you post photos, they make my day! I miss you, stay safe! Until we meet again! X

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love every word you wrote and feel like I’ve been a fly on the wall watching your lives blossom. You two are soulmates extraordinaire and I love you embracing life and new and old friends along the way. You are living the dream! Xo


  3. I love every word you wrote and feel like I’ve been a fly on the wall watching your lives blossom. You two are soulmates extraordinaire and I love you embracing life and new and old friends along the way. You are living the dream! Xo


  4. Wilby & Beth, this was a great read. Amazing to see you guys having this adventure! The year off that we took was the best thing Kat and I ever did and the itch to travel again is definitely there! How long are you travelling for and will you be coming back to Oz? Come visit in the Sunshine Coast when/if you do get back here!


    1. Thanks Ben! You inspired us to do this trip! We’re on a 12 month adventure and definitely heading back to Oz after. We would love to visit you, and fingers crossed there are roles available up your way!


  5. Good for you for following your hearts and your passion! And what a fabulous company for having that break option! Everyone needs to refresh to be even more productive. And, trust me, traveling is easier before your joints start hurting. Enjoy! And thank you for sharing your story so far! I still say you need to vlog your journeys! Love to watch it all on Netflix 😉


  6. What a lovely new post! You write better than my owners, and I wish to be included in the story down the road. I have the family portrait to prove our relationship! Miss you and love and licks.


  7. Oh my god this is the loveliest story! You guys are the best xxxx looking forward to watching your travels from afar. Lots of love from your Melbourne crew X


  8. What an absolutely gorgeous story, you two really are special! Keep up the travels and adventures. Rony and I are sending you both lots of happiness and love along the way xx

    Liked by 1 person

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