Transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Since we officially came off the road in June, many people have asked me how it feels to be back in Boulder. The truth is that I have no idea.

I was only in the house for one hectic week before I flew east to help my mom with bladder removal surgery (screw you, cancer). I retuned a month later, but only for about 3 weeks before we drove back east for our annual time in Maine and on Cape Cod with our families. During those three weeks it was great to see everyone but I was truly overwhelmed by continuously being asked, “So, how does it feel to be back?” I simply don’t know. I don’t know because I haven’t been “back” long enough. Even as I type this I’m in Massachusetts w my family and planning our return to trip to CO for mid-September. I also don’t know how it is to be back in Boulder specifically because it feels temporary at the moment. We don’t have plans for it to be temporary, as I am launching a business and Jon is sinking his teeth in to another layer of his budding career of doing basically everything, but it feels temporary. As a result of the unknown emotions associated with returning to Boulder, I’m craving September. I need routine. I either need a solid routine from a stationary house within our community OR I need to get back in the van STAT and comfortably settle in to the routine that comes with van life. However, financially we have to be still for a moment and thus comes my craving for September. It’s time for my new year to start.

The calendar tells us that a new year begins on January 1st, but every inch of my mind, body and soul does a hard re-set in September. We’ve been threatening to hit pause from van life for a while and this September that will inevitably happen. Jon is starting massage school and I’m starting my own physical therapy business. Our long term goal is to continue to live life as a series of mini-retirements (i.e. several prolonged van life episodes), but in order to do that, we have to pause and earn a buck and be physically grounded for a while. At least that’s how it seems at the moment.

Obviously this association of new starts in September began back in my school age days. Summers lead to the month of August at the Cape, after which we would head back up to the north shore of Massachusetts and get ready for school to start some time after Labor Day. As a result, ages 5-21 were dictated by a “new year” starting in September, but it didn’t end with college graduation. Every apartment lease I had in Boston started and/or renewed in September. I was only out of college for about two years before I decided to go to graduate school to become a physical therapist, which was preceded by a backpacking trip in Thailand in Sept 2001. Following that trip I spent quite a bit of time taking pre-requisites for graduate school, which were centered on a fall start schedule. During graduate school, the years of 2003-2006 each started anew in September as a new semester started and summer internships concluded. After grad school I moved from Boulder to Boston in October (close enough) where, again, leases were in September.

And then there was Jon. Technically, while some would argue we started dating the moment we met, our first official date was in Sept 2010, approximately three years from our initial meeting.  Football starts in September. We got Penny in September; ok fine that was October too but again close enough.  As I write this I’m wondering why I ever cared about a proper New Years Eve in my life because the rebirth, reset, refocus, renew clearly starts in the fall for me.

Fall is a literal and emotional transition and it compliments my internal calendar  perfectly.  I’m eager to welcome my most favored time of year. The mere exercise of writing this is a blatant acknowledgement of the “reset” that I’m craving.  And so, I will happily celebrate my Mum’s 70th birthday with her today, on August 31st, celebrate the flip of the calendar tomorrow and look forward to driving back in to Boulder in about 10 days with the renewed vision and focus that only September can bring for me.

5 thoughts on “September

  1. I just finished reading your article in Bicycling Magazine “Get in The Van” – and I was struck by your quote – “OK, we’re not going to be parents. What do we do with our lives?” While most would focus on the philosophical question – it is the first part of that statement that hit a chord with me. I understand your disappointment as the fertility treatments were not successful and the hopes of becoming parents seemed dashed. However, what about Adoption?

    As a couple – you have shown your willingness to journey around the country for the past 14 months and experience all that life has to offer. You collectively took on each day as it came and made the best of it as your own personal journey.

    If you want a real journey and life challenge – one that gives back and would also allow for personal growth – I ask you to strongly consider taking a life journey and consider adoption.

    My wife and I (avid cyclists) could have easier decided to live a childless life but we choose to adopt as the method of starting a family. We decided to give back a small portion of all that was given to us. Our adoption journey began in 2008 when we started to become foster parents. In 2013 we adopted our daughter from Ukraine and in 2016 adopted our son from China. Today we cycle and grow as a family.

    While you may have considered adoption and choose not to, I respect your choice. The statement in the article just made it sound like – since we can’t birth kids – we are done. I do strongly defend adoption as there are thousands of children waiting for the love of a “forever home”.

    By the way, our children are fully blind, but that does not stop them from riding strider bikes, tandems, tag-alongs and my daughter’s favorite the buddy bike.


    • Thank you for your kindly worded note and we are happy for your family’s success. We did consider adoption, briefly, and quickly & happily arrived at our truth, which was that we no longer wanted to be parents. Plain and simple. Thank you again for your interest. Have fun out there on your bike!


  2. Hi Jon & Pam, I just read the article about your “van” in the September (your new year month) issue of Bicycling. I just had to write and say hello. I’m not sure if you remember me from the Cognoscenti group ride that my brother Scott and I did in August 2015. I have retired recently and have been inspired by your story to travel the country and ride my bike just like you two. So much so that I’ve just bought a Tear Drop T@B camper for just that very reason. I’d love to hear or read your mapped out course. Also, places that you would go back to in a second and places that you’d never want to see again. Anyway, great article and I wish you all the best with your new business venture & schooling. By the way, THANK YOU so much for everything that you did to make our cognoscenti experience first class.

    Stephen Noel

    P.S. If you are driving through Nebraska on your way home to Boulder and you need to get a ride in, I’d love to guide you on some awesome gravel roads we have in and around Omaha!


    • Hi Stephen!

      Yes we remember you! He Cognoscenti trips and guests are hard to forget. Congrats on your retirement and Tab purchase. That’s so fun!!!! We dont / didn’t have a documented route for our travels other than a clockwise circle starting from Alaska (we booked a ferry to go up from WA). But we would love to chat more and help you get out there!!! You can email
      Both of us directly at keeperjon@gmail and pamelarobbins@gmail. We just arrived back in CO and came
      Back via KS. Sorry to
      Miss you in NE. Co brats again on taking the leap!
      Pamela & jon


    • Stephen, great to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. Congrats on the new chapter in life and in the purchase of the trailer. Those things are awesome.

      Happy to give some insight into mapping but really it was a lot of “this place looks cool” lets check it out. But email me if you want for other ideas. Keeper jon at g mail dot com. Cheers.


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