Hello, my name is Laura and this is my first blog post! I grew up on a farm in rural MN and have recently resettled in Portland, Oregon, where I lived for about 4 1/2 years prior to the last nine months. In the past nine months, I moved to San Diego to work for a solar company doing energy audits. I had a friend working for the company and qualified people there were hard to come by so I thought, why not further my professional skills in a sunny locale? Of course, this was my rationale during rainy and cold January (although still not as harsh as MN winters). San Diego was a sunny and warm relief and I did learn a lot about energy auditing as well as about solar. I was less impressed with the amount of people, traffic and obstacles to cycling but did manage to eventually find a relatively safe route to work and back with the help of a pedestrian bridge. After three months, I was promoted and transferred to the Orange County office in Santa Ana and found a place to sublet on the UCI campus. I actually enjoyed living in Irvine mostly because the city has a great network of multi-use paths which I enjoyed for recreational cycling (riding to work was not really feasible) and because I had a really great roommate with an adorable cat. My new role at work was as a lead auditor (I was an assistant before) and at first I had an assistant who soon was phased out so I was doing audits solo. At first, it was a bit overwhelming, especially when I was going to two homes a day and then having to complete the data upload. Eventually I worked out a system that streamlined the audit and data upload process and enabled me to complete audits faster with better accuracy. Then the company decided not to offer the full energy audits and to incorporate a simplified version to the solar audits in order to still meet incentive requirements. That meant my job would be phased out. So I continued to learn as much as I could about solar including the auditing, permitting and inspections processes in hopes that I could transfer to a new position. Unfortunately, by the time my audits ended, the company was not in a position to transfer me so I was laid off after 4 months. During this time, I also learned that living in the "O.C." did not really fit with the culture and values I want in a place so I decided to move yet again. I stayed with a friend in Sacramento for a week, left some of my things there and headed east on a three month road trip in my Subaru. The details of this adventure will be covered in a future post. By the time I returned to Sacramento, I realized that Portland was where I really wanted to be, so I found a place to stay through a friend where I am able to keep living costs low by helping work on the house. As much as I enjoy traveling, it really is great to have a home base! Part of the reason I started this blog is because I want to share my travel experiences and to inspire extended periods of travel. The other part is that, after moving 6 times in the last year, I really want to have a place of my own. Since I cannot afford a conventional house and do not want a mortgage, I have decided to build a tiny house next summer. Until that time, I will be volunteering, researching and blogging about what I learn in hopes of being able to help and inspire others who also want to build. My dream is to have a tiny house in Portland which I could rent out when I want to travel to those interested in living more simply. I would also like to find and buy land in the forest and build a small strawbale cabin, studio, sauna, etc. which would be a retreat for me and others. I am excited to share this journey with you wherever it leads!
|On the road to San Diego|