Bumps in the Road. Didn’t See THAT Coming!

During the Pandemic, when international travel was not an option, we craved a way to escape all the craziness. So after 2 years of being cooped up, in February we disconnected from social media, bought a little work van, and converted it into the perfect camping oasis – a tiny, modern gypsy wagon. Our dream was to travel the US in our own little bubble until sanity returned to the world. We named her “Gallivan.”

And for the next few months we hit the road, wandering America’s Blue Highways. It was a glorious freedom after being on lockdown. 

When we weren’t on the road, James used Gallivan as his basecamp for multi-state bike rides and fossil hunting forays. He rode hundreds of miles, discovering challenging bike paths – and an abundance of fossils – in our own back yard.

But no matter how careful we were, Terri still caught Covid – at her doctor’s office (of all places!) after eye surgery. Of course, she gave it to James. Love is sharing.

Fortunately, we survived Covid, and began frantically planning a month-long European getaway. We were a week away from leaving when Terri suddenly fell seriously ill: Sepsis and kidney failure. This bump in the road caught us totally by surprise. Between hospitals, tests, and infusions, James struggled to cancel plans, juggle doctors, and maintain his composure … and sanity.

Now, after 4 months of recovery Terri is nearly back to 100 percent and raring to go … anywhere!

Hopefully we’ll get the all-clear from the doctor by the end of the year. We had planned our third Round-the-World Trip for 2021, but the Pandemic ruined those plans, so we moved it to 2022. That too was a bust! Hopefully 2023 will prove that third time’s a charm.

Our word for the year has been “Endurance.”

We didn’t plan on taking time off from the blog – dropping off the scene without an announcement. Life just happened. But the two most important things we learned are:

  • We truly missed you. Not having contact has left a serious hole in our lives.
  • We missed blogging. And boy, do we have some stories to tell.

It’s time to put the FUN back into our lives. Thanks for checking in on us while we were gone. We can’t wait to reconnect with you!

Terri & James

Photo Credits: 1. Kevin Benkenstein 9. Yasmin Dangor 

Author: gallivance.net

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 gallivance.net.

72 thoughts

    1. Thanks Mick, we’ve really been enjoying the van. It’s a tight fit for 2 people, but it gets the job done and we love it. We’re just heading into winter here in the US, so our forays may have to wait a bit unless we head south. Very tempting! Thanks so much for stopping by. ~Terri

  1. Phew! I felt sure that it was going to be James who took the tumble, but I’m so glad Terri is recovering well. Life and its curve balls, hey? Take it easy, you two! You don’t have to be on the road to enjoy life. (but we all know it helps)

    1. Many thanks, Jo. I feel so much better and am chomping at the bit for a bit of adventure. As for James, he’s an amazingly adept bike rider, so you don’t have to worry about him. 🙂 And he’s always up for some travel. I do love your observation that “You don’t have to be on the road to enjoy life.” We all need to remember that for sure. Jo, it’s so great to talk with you again. ~Terri

      1. We spent the morning walking and now I’m sitting on the roof watching the washing dry. At 4.00 we’re off to meet up with our new American neighbours. Life could be so very much worse 🤗💗

  2. Terri and James, welcome back guys. I did miss you and was wondering if there were health issues. I am so glad Terri is on the mend now. Life does throw some curveballs, but I guess we have no choice but to deal with it. Endurance is a great word.
    I love your new van, Gallivan is such a great name.
    I will be looking forward to following along on your travels. Keep well guys.

    1. Thanks so much, Gilda. Following along on your adventures this past year has been one of the highlights of my recovery period. You and Brian always provide a glorious distraction for the travel-starved reader. The van has been lots of fun. Even though it’s a squeeze for 2 people, we always manage to have a good time. Glad you like the name. 🙂 It gets lots of comments when we’re on the road. It’s wonderful to talk with you again. Looking forward to more of your travels. ~Terri

  3. I have been worried about you two. So thanks for the update and I’m so glad everyone is healthy and back on their feet. You have been missed. I look forward to your stories and pictures. Big hugs to both of you and an extra one for Terri. You both are the poster children for Endurance!
    PS I love Gallivan.

    1. Thanks so much for your concern, Darlene. And for the hugs. 🙂 Much appreciated. I can’t wait to catch up with you … and Amanda to learn where her next adventure is taking her. It’s great to reconnect. All the best, Terri

  4. Welcome back. That’s a beautiful van, and even though it’s probably spruced up for its photo pose, I doubt I’ve ever seen one looking as nice.
    “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first” has long been my motto, but even after 53 years dealing with illness, we too have had a particularly bad year of crises one after another when our longest/only long venture from home was just six days. But we hang on to another cliché, this too will pass.
    And indeed, each day gets a little better and next year is looking good.
    We hope next year is a great one for you, and perhaps that we might even pass somewhere along the road.

    1. Thanks Ray. Serious illness never seems fair, and in Terri’s case, it developed quickly and without warning which made it even harder to accept or understand. But ultimately, the goal was just to get through it and back to good health, and that’s the best we can hope for.

      We’ll both send out good health vibes to both you and Alie for the future, and wish you all the best for getting back on the road. ~James

    1. Thanks Beth. Scary is the word for the past year, that’s for sure. As Robert Earl Keen says in his song: “It feels so good feeling good again.” Good health to you and thanks for checking in. ~James

  5. I’ve thought of you a few times, and presumed you were deep into another adventure. So you were: just not the pleasant sort I was imagining! It’s good to see you again. I hope the new year is much, much better for you.

    1. Thanks Linda. I suspect that for most of us the invincibility of youth is being overtaken by the realities of getting older. But to use a phrase from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, this illness was really a case of the “Fickle Finger of Fate.” We’re happy that all is getting back to normal and we’re moving on. Good health to you and thanks for checking in. ~James

  6. I hate to say this, but I was off my own blog for so long that I barely noticed who else was! But more seriously, you are the second blogger I know who had a serious health scare in the middle of all this Covid nuttiness (both not Covid). I know there are theories that we were all missing other illnesses or problems in the years when we stopped seeing doctors regularly, but it sounds like this could have happened any time. Scary in its own way. BUT I’m glad all is well now, and that you are thinking of getting back out there in something other than that (gorgeous, by the way) van! Happy to hear from you and excited for your round-the-world trip!

    1. Lexie, that’s amazing! I had just read Kelly’s post about her illness and being missing in action for 11 months. And then I read your post about meeting up in Malta. How exciting! Have you been before? It’s really fabulous and I think you’ll love it. We have it on our RTW list of places we’d like to revisit, so hopefully we’ll make it back, too. Thanks so much for your kind words. My illness came totally out of the blue (I’m usually healthy as a horse) and has the doctors totally mystified. So I’m just chalking it up to chance! Hitting the road is on the top of our list and I’m SO excited for you. Can’t wait to hear all about it. ~Terri

    1. Thanks Beth. We’ve all had family and friends go through this sort of thing, but a personal experience is a serious dose of reality that is hard to deal with. We’re both happy to be back and looking forward to getting back to normal. Best wishes for a happy holiday. ~James

  7. So good to hear from you! I have been wondering. Also good that you didn’t come down with long Covid. Hope Terri makes a full recovery.

    I am immuno-compromised thanks to the medication I take, so haven’t been anywhere since March 2020. I did move to an apartment this fall and put my house on the market, ahead of an expected move to a CCRC next year.

    Have fun planning the RTW! And if you decide to head south this winter, consider coming through central NC, would love to meet up with you.

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy. It’s wonderful to hear from you. As you know too well, it’s difficult for us travelers to stay put. Sorry to hear that your health has kept you at home. I keep hoping that Covid will become a thing of the past, but by all indications it may be with us longer than we’d like.

      Congrats on putting your house on the market. We had talked about that a while back, and I knew that was in your plans. After selling our house we now love being apartment dwellers. Hope you are enjoying it.

      I hope that the winter weather treats you well and stays mild there in NC. We’ll keep you in mind if we go roaming. All the best, Terri

  8. Love your van. We’ve considered doing something similar for quick AZ state getaways. Unfortunately, we still need to stick closer to home for annoying health reasons. Glad Terri is doing better, and you’ll be back out traveling soon.

    1. Thanks a bunch, Ingrid. I feel so much better. Glad you like the van. She’s tiny, but perfect for simple camping and getting away from it all. And no worries about where to park her, or can she go down this gravel road. 🙂 Gallivan does it all.

      I hope that you’re able to resolve your health issues quickly so you can wander as you please.

      BTW, I just read your post about creating a book out of your blog. What a fantastic idea – that I didn’t even know was an option. Thanks for all your in-depth research and recommendations. ~Terri

  9. Hi James and Terri. Sorry about that massive bump in the road! But very glad you are well on the way to recovery and travel again. And hey – I really like fossils too! The Gallivan is amazing. Endurance is the perfect word – I think everyone is enduring something in their own way. Looking forward to hearing about you having FUN again! We’re hoping to have some fun too next early spring after 1 1/2 years without vacation – maybe in the desert Southwest. Take care and tell us how things are going! If you make it to Florida, stop by this way to say hello!

    1. Many thanks, Pam. Life is good and we’re ready for a little “normalcy” – whatever that is! James has had a blast in Gallivan on his fossil hunting trips, and he’s found some great specimens. He’s still looking for the ever-elusive Trilobite to complete his collection. The day he finds it you’ll probably hear his whoop of joy all the way down in Florida! 🙂

      Glad that you’re finally going to get a vacation next spring. That’s really exciting, and I remember how much you enjoy the desert Southwest. Can’t wait to hear more. We’ll keep you in mind if we go wandering. ~Terri

  10. So sorry, Terri and James, to read about your collosal bump in the road that came out of the blue. If both getting Covid wasn’t bad enough, sepsis followed by kidney failure must have been scary as all hell for you both. I’m glad you’re feeling much better now, Terri, and have trips planned in Gallivan to look forward to.

    Steven and I were just on day 4 of our 7-week trip to Central America in late September when I slipped on some mud in northern Guatemala and broke my left femur. Had to be airlifted four days later to a hospital in Denver after a rod was inserted at a Guatemala teaching hospital that saved my life.

    Like you both, we’re also talking about getting back to international traveling again later in the New Year. Be safe and continue your journey to good health!

    1. Oh no, Annie! I’m so sorry to hear about your slip in Guatemala. How frightening. Thank goodness for the teaching hospital and their smart thinking. Then airlifted to Denver – how are you doing now?

      Thanks so much for your very kind words, Annie. I feel great now and I’m ready to take on the world – or at least a little piece of it. 🙂 Hopefully the new year will bring new travel experiences for all of us. Wishing you and Steven all the best, Terri

  11. Luckily NOTHING as serious as your health concerns, Terri, but I did and do have plenty of medical complications. Our saving grace was having bought emergency medical evacuation insurance – we’d certainly never travel without it.

    Wishing you both lots of fun as you go gallivanting stateside or internationally!

    1. Annie, that’s good to know about the emergency medical evacuation insurance. I’m embarrassed to admit that we’ve never bought it, but I think we’ll be rethinking that now. Thanks. Do you have a company that you recommend? ~T

      1. Terri, We’ve bought the same type of insurance for many, many years for all of our overseas travels just in case of this sort of accident. We consider it in the same vein as car or homeowners’ insurance – you hope you’ll never need it but thank your lucky stars when or if you do. In recent years we’ve used Travel Guard/AIG. My recommendation would be to check companies for their catastrophic policies to keep your premiums down. Our health insurance policy in the States covered the cost of the surgery and hospitalization in Guatemala. Hope this helps, Terri.

  12. I’m so sorry that Terri went though all that she went through, and so pleased she is doing so much better now! It sounds like you both had a lot to cope with, and you are so blessed to have each other through it all. Wishing you both lots of fun new adventures in the near future! ❤

    1. Thanks Anita. Neither of us ever takes our good health for granted, and we do our best to stay healthy. But after being so careful to avoid Covid, and then catching it at the doctor’s office we were miffed. Also, Terri’s problems came out of nowhere so we were totally unprepared. It was a harsh reality to face, and you’re right that having a partner through it all makes a huge difference. Good heath to you and thanks for checking in. ~James

    1. Thanks Sue. As you know, sepsis is very serious, and we had a few very scary weeks of worry and Terri’s care, treatment, and recovery totally dominated our lives. And add Covid on top of that and WOW! What a year. We’re both just starting to breathe a sigh of relief and looking forward to normalcy. I hope you, Dave, and the family are well. ~James

      1. James such a scary time for you both. Yes very serious. You have now had your share and I predict sunny skies ahead!
        Dave and I are both well and doing our best to keep up to three joyful grandkids.

  13. Happy you will be able to gallivant at will again. We had to interrupt our spring trip to Spain unexpectedly because of a medical emergency. American Airlines was super-nice about getting us on a what appeared to be a full flight right away with no extra charges applied. Been adjusting to medications and maneuvering with one eye but have received doctors’ go-ahead to resume boulevardier-ing. Still have plenty of photos to edit and post from that spring trip to entertain myself while we wait until after the holidays, and we took advantage of the down time to renew our passports. Being passport-less was frightening, but Homeland Security surprised us by being fairly efficient in issuing new ones – virgin passports waiting to be stamped. Take care and safe travels.

    1. Many thanks, Gayle. As you know so well, it feels good to feel better. I was so sorry to hear about your medical emergency, and glad that the airline handled it so graciously. We need more of those stories, don’t we. I hope that your vision and coping are improving and that you’re doing better. What a frightening thing to have happen.

      Glad you’ve got the go-ahead to resume boulevardier-ing. Renewing passports is always a turbulent time. That’s great that it was handled so well. We’re in the middle of trying to renew our Global Entry – I’ll let you know how it goes.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Gayle. Talking with you really brightened my day. ~Terri

  14. Wow Terri, you have been through it! I’m so glad to hear you’re well again, and hope you get the all-clear to start traveling again soon. May 2023 be the year!
    The Gallivan looks fabulous by the way – a really inviting cosy home.
    Looking forward to future posts. It’s good to have you guys back!
    Alison

    1. Thanks Alison. Terri is feeling much better and is looking forward to being totally free of meds and doctors, and she’s almost there.

      Our little van has been the perfect travel solution for us. We designed and built the entire project just for our needs and preferences, and it’s been a cozy little travel bubble for the pandemic. It also fits our simplicity philosophy and traveling with a small footprint. I hope you and Don have a great holiday season. ~James

  15. WELCOME BACK!! Bumps in the Road is the perfect title for your post. A traveling lifestyle is rarely a smooth ride through life, but you guys never give up, I love that. I hope Terri continues to improve and 2023 truly is your year! In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the loved one around you.

    1. Thanks Laura. Terri’s feeling near normal and is getting close to being free of meds and doc visits so she’s a happy camper. This entire experience has been a serious dose of reality for us, and while we never take our good health for granted, we’re both breathing a big sigh of relief today.

      I hope you and Steve are enjoying some FL sun and moving lots of Christmas trees. Best of luck and have a great holiday season. ~James

  16. Oh I’m so sorry Terri and James, what you’ve been through sounds a truly awful time and I’m so glad you’re making a good recovery Terri. Let’s hope 2023 is filled with adventure and fun (and no more hospital trips)!

    1. Thanks for checking in Hannah and for your good wishes. After a year like this it’s natural to play the “Why me?” game, but at this point we’re glad to be back on track and moving on.

      I checked in on your blog and see that you’ve been to the Baltics. We really enjoyed our time there, and it was a real eye-opener. Best wishes for a great holiday season. ~James

    1. Thanks Shane. With Terri’s improving health we’ve been dipping our toes into some local and regional trips, which have been a great break. I’ve also been able to squeeze in quite a few bike/camping trips which have been really good. Slowly we’re getting back to normal. Take care and thanks for checking in. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog Allan. I guess that it’s not a matter of if bad things happen but when, and we’ve just been prioritizing things and trying to keep moving forward. Hopefully next year will free us to begin international travel again. Take care and thanks for checking in. ~James

  17. Wow, you two haven’t had the greatest year either. I’m so sorry to read about the trip cancellations and especially about Terri’s serious illness. I’m so glad to read she is back to being 100%. Good health, truly, is the most important thing in the world. Together with love and family.

    The van looks very modern and cool. A nice vehicle for short ventures and adventures. Fingers crossed that you get to go on the next round-the-world trip, next year. Your “endurance” word is one I can certainly relate to this year.

    What’s so strange to me is that, for years in a row now, I keep hoping and thinking that the next year will be better than the last. And, ever since 2019, the opposite has been true. So, let’s count on turning another leaf in 2023!

    1. I’m with you on turning that leaf, Liesbet … quickly! Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. We sure do appreciate it.

      And talk about tough years – you and Mark have had more than your fair share of challenges this year. I’ve been following along on your blog and Facebook. So what’s the latest update on Thirsty Bella? ~Terri

      1. After being pushed onto a future boat (boat #2) because our agent messed up, we are not on the boat (#1) that arrived in Cartagena this past weekend. The new ship has had delays and when it finally left Mexico after a ten-day wait in port, heading to Texas, we learned that Cartagena had been scratched from the route. And our camper hadn’t even been picked up in Texas yet. We left it there three weeks ago.

        Instead of waiting another month in port for the next boat and having to pay port fees (the fifteen-day free period was gone), Thirsty Bella actually got loaded on this boat (#2) and would be transshipped in Panama. So, she is heading to Panama, where she would be dropped off, wait for four days, and be picked up by ship #3.

        Except, another delay happened and boat #2 is now scheduled to arrive AFTER the next boat (#3) was supposed to pick her up. So now we hope boat #3 has a delay as well, or boat #2 gets lucky and manages to dock in Mexico (where it’s been anchored off shore awaiting dockage) faster in order to make this short connection in Panama. You asked… 🙂

      2. Oh no, Liesbet. What a nightmare! And you still don’t know when you’re going to be reunited with Thirsty Bella!!! You and Mark must be pulling your hair out with frustration. So sorry this is not going smoothly. It all seems simple and straightforward … until it isn’t. I’m looking forward to your next update when hopefully you’ll have some good (or at least better) news. In the meantime, hang in there and know that you have lots of friends in your cheering section. ❤ T

  18. Oh my! I can’t imagine the frustration you both had. But the most important thing is Terri has now almost completely recovered. I do miss reading your travel stories, so fingers crossed 2023 will be kinder to both of you. And like everyone else, I love the look of Gallivan!

    1. Thanks Bama. It’s wonderful to have Terri back to normal, and we’re pleased to be able to blog again. Terri isn’t totally clear of doctors and meds, so we have to stay close to home for now. But, we’re looking forward to getting back abroad soon. Take care and have a great holiday season. ~James

  19. I can relate to you! After over two years of not travelling, my husband and I went to three different French cities this autumn in the space of two months. We wanted to make up for lost time! You see my husband is French, we met in Paris when I was an au pair. We like to get back there once or twice a year. Love the van! By the way I must write a post or two about our visits… Welcome back to the world of blogging. Look forward to more posts from you…and thanks for sharing.

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