The State of the Basecamp

Tents with rainbow

I know that when I say “Basecamp” you’re probably envisioning us lounging in some exotic locale, “glamping” on a romantic African safari. Ahhh, wouldn’t that be nice. Alas, no … at least, not yet.

If you’ve been tagging along with us for awhile, you know that when we recently returned from our second RTW, we stumbled across a surprising find in the Southeast USA – a little, inexpensive one-bedroom condo that would suit us perfectly. We could live there, visit with our families and friends, then turn the key to go traveling anytime with no worries. So we bought it and decided to name it “Basecamp Gallivance.”

There was only one catch – it needed some serious TLC.

But since we are veterans of many previous house renovations, we decided to tackle the challenge. It required:

Parking our rolling backpacks (only temporarily).


Moving some stuff out of storage (and a stop for some liquid motivation).


Creating endless lists and diagrams.


Donning kneepads.


Making a total mess.


Hammering … well, everything!


Painting miles and miles of walls, ceilings, trim, and cabinets.


Laying a new tile floor and baseboards,

New floor

Grouting tile.

Grouting tile

And installing lights in tricky places.

Undercabinet lights

Now, as of yesterday, the last piece in the “kitchen puzzle” has been put in place and it’s done! Finally! We can’t tell you how thrilled we are to finally have a working kitchen sink, and we’ll show you the results next week.


If you’re curious about our Letters from Basecamp Gallivance Series, these posts will give you a flavor.

Establishing Basecamp Gallivance
The Pace Quickens
Totally Floored
From Chaos to Cozy
Back in the Saddle
Chaos for Christmas

Fridge photo

Photo Credit: 1. Courtesy of Yellowstone Under Canvas


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

35 thoughts

    1. Thanks Virginia. We’re not quite finished, but we’re nearing the end. The final push is the bathroom, and coincidentally, now the bathroom sink is out of commission until we replace the vanity/sink/faucet. I’m sure that you’ll hear about it here.

    1. Thanks Sudapoedia. Years ago, when we started moving around, we both decided that we wanted to be able to do a few more things with our hands. Finishing projects on our own, is very rewarding, and when we do the work ourselves, we never take it for granted.

    1. Thanks Laura. From the tone of your comment, it sounds as if you speak from experience. We’ve done a few renovations, but this is the first one in which the kitchen sink has been out of service for a while. We were both surprised at how its absence complicated our day to day lives.

    1. Thanks Laura. When I’m crammed into one of the cabinets under our sink, and I drop something (usually heavy) onto my head, I jokingly say to Terri, “Is it too early to start drinking?” LOL

    1. Thanks for the compliment Joan, but I have to say that some days I don’t feel so talented. Many of our projects are “learn as you go along.” One interesting thing about DIY, is that you have to live with your own blunders, and there’s no one else to blame. And after the smoke has cleared, we usually have a chuckle and say, …oh well.~James

  1. I’m in the midst of a house renovations too! And what fun with an infant! To her credit though, she isn’t phased by the noise… But we’re getting there… The “10 day ” new siding installation has turned into 2 months due to unforeseen (mega) rot!! But it will be lovely when it’s ALL finished. Cheers to your new and improved “basecamp!”

    1. Elizabeth, it’s nice to hear from someone else “in the trenches.” I can’t imagine how you juggle a reno and a baby as well. And your rot problem sounds like bad news for sure. On our last renovation, we had some foundation problems, which required jacking up about a 30 foot section of the front porch … ouch. I’m sure the we could exchange some stories. Hopefully, there won’t be any more surprises for you. ~James

  2. this is so great! it makes me with i were there to volunteer! the thought of pounding old floor tiles with a hammer makes me smile… you could probably place an ad that says, ‘Stressed out? For a $20.00 one-hour session, we’ll teach you a novel method for relieving stress!’
    you’d have a queue of participants that would leave an hour later with a big smile and a great story!
    your new place is looking great already!

    1. Too funny … and so right! While I was slinging that hammer I just had to concentrate on not bashing myself in the head. I covered the tile with a towel while I whacked away at it (shard control), but I still found pieces of tile imbedded in the wall across the room! LOL. ~Terri

      1. Over the past decade (and maybe even before that), we’ve developed a pattern of traveling hard, and then settling hard. We move to a new town, buy a house to renovate, fix it up, live there a couple of years (if we’re lucky), then sell it, put our stuff in storage, and hit the road. Our families and friends started to understand after the first three moves and long trips. It’s not the easiest of lives, but it’s gotten into our blood.

      2. it’s a great balance!s i’ll bet there are some who tell you that they wish they could disconnect and do what you are doing.. many people are hobbled to a life that owns them.

        congratulations on following your dreams!

  3. I am wildly impressed. Best of all is the to-do list that says “Wednesday” and that’s crossed out and the word “Thursday” appears instead. Perfect.

    1. That’s so funny because I didn’t even realize it when I took the photo! That’s the way it is around here – if you don’t get it done on Wednesday (often the case) just shift it a day … or 3! LOL. ~Terri

    1. That is too funny Mark! We just need a better film crew and some makeup assistance. Plus, how do they do all those projects and keep their clothes so clean? No paint blobs! We have dedicated “renovation clothes” that we ceremoniously toss at the end of a big project. ~Terri

    1. How exciting! We were in Oz and NZ recently, and had a great time. Terri really enjoyed NZ, but I spent most of my time there recovering from Dengue Fever, but hopefully, you won’t have that problem. I see that you’re both wine fans. I need to give you a heads up on Australian wines. They’re actually more expensive in OZ than in America. I need some economist to explain that one to me (I’ve been told it’s taxes, but that can’t be the only answer.) If you can make it to Xian in China, the Terra Cotta Army is absolutely amazing. Have a great time on your trip! ~James

  4. Thanks Naomi. Because you’re a blogger as well, I’m sure you understand that anything can (and frequently is) fodder for a blog post. For us, any pictures are “stock photography” until they magically become a blog post. ~James

  5. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement on our blog guys! It’s so nice to hear from others chasing their dreams when it seems to be such a rare thing to do. I love your story, can’t wait to spend some time browsing through your travels… Especially the beautiful pictures! Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Lena, for the comment and for dropping by the blog. Like you, when it comes to our home renovations, we’re frugal. It’s all about knowing where to spend money to get the “biggest bang for the buck.” We put in sweat equity when we can, and are always looking for great things on sale. We’ve had great luck with discontinued light fixtures at Home Depot, bathroom hardware at Costco, etc. We always consider it a victory when we find a great deal.

What do you think? We'd love to know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s