Overland Travel: With love

2.5 years ago I met Elmer while he was working. Since then I created the habit of writing him a tiny love letter on a paper napkin when I’m, once again, one of his passengers. Tomorrow (4th of february) Elmer has to work on his Birthday, but I will not be on the plane sneaking a paper napkin into his hand, instead I’m writing him this love post.

Warning: I’m a scientist by training and have what philosophers call a post-romantic view on relationships. I tend to not only reveal the passionate and happy moments, but also value the difficulties that cross our roads. I hope by the end of this post you, and especially Elmer, see the beauty in it all.


When visiting my parents, my mom and I often went for walks in the neighborhood. It created the time to talk about what was happening in our lives. During one of those walks in 2014, she asked me if I already met someone new. I told her I wasn’t really looking for a relationship. I was happy living on my own, surrounded by good friends.
I had already been married to a great guy once before, but eventually that marriage was no longer viable. So I remember telling my mom that the next person I would consider starting a relationship with had to be one special guy, the cherry on my cake. Two days later, I met Elmer…

For us to meet, it took a strike, an airplane I shouldn’t have been on, a seat I shouldn’t have been sitting in and a malfunctioning entertainment system. A lot less was needed to get the both of us in Elmer’s Jeep Wrangler crossing the border of Turkey into Georgia two months later.
Terratrotter in Cappadocia Turkey

Luckily our story didn’t end there. It easily could have, since there is no better way to get to know someone than spending 24hrs/day together for 5 weeks, in a space smaller than most people’s bathroom (but then without a toilet or shower curtain). It certainly is not a place where you can easily hide any of your flaws.
A few clashes were therefore simply unavoidable. Did that make the trip any less special? No, not at all! It’s easy to be around someone when the sun is shining, but what about the dark and rainy days? Well, we kept on driving together.

Scientific formula to a happy relationship – Open Communication & Giving room for each other’s flaws: check & check! ☺


Upon return we started to plan for the future: traveling the world together. By the end of 2014, we purchased the truck and started the journey of creating our tiny house on wheels.

Scientific formula to a happy relationship – Partner that is similar to you & Work as a team: check & check!

One year later (beginning of 2016), I wrote the first post about how this decision had impacted us. To avoid repetition, you can read in the original post  “how preparing for a complete new lifestyle was a gift and a challenge at the same time”.


Less than 30 days after I had written that post my mom passed away at age 59. It was a Friday, almost dinnertime when I received the phone call. It was one of my sisters on the other line. “Mom will not make it through the night, you better get over here” she told me. My mom’s condition had worsened at such a rapid pace that even the doctors couldn’t follow and prepare us for what was happening. As such, I wasn’t ready for this phone call.

My instincts took over. I called up Elmer who was just on his way back from running errands. Expecting the worst but still wishing for a false alarm, he drove me to my parents’ house in little more than 2 hours (a drive that normally takes us 3.5 hours). Upon arrival, my mom was already heavily medicated but I was given one more chance to look her in the eyes and tell her that I love her.

Elmer always made my mom smile

Elmer got me through the days that followed. I’m ever grateful that he was there to catch my tears. He still does when grief sits beside me.

My mom was a huge supporter of our dreams (and of Elmer too ☺ ). So we continued to build our expedition truck and left for Romania in June 2016.

Although I have been struggling with becoming more dependent on Elmer, I slowly come to the realization that love calls for a leap of fate. It requires the heroic act of trusting the other with your vulnerabilities, so love has the chance to grow. And that it definitely did in 2016.

Our relationship is strong, not in spite of, but because of the dark and rainy days.

Scientific formula to a happy relationship – Commitment: check!

The world had to turn for us to meet.

To find our place in the Wrangler’s seat.

The roads less traveled brought us together.

But it’s love that keeps us driving through bad weather.

Happy Birthday Elmer!



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6 thoughts on “Overland Travel: With love
  1. Many happy returns Elmer, me thinks that you have a good one there! Hold on to her or some one might just steal her away. Happy birthday and as we say in Barnsley have a gud un.


    1. Hello Elmer,
      Happy Birthday , enjoy it , even you have to work . Say Hello to Nicole !

      Grtz SteWiLa
      Backfield, the Netherlands

      By the way , we just have a Puppy-dog , 8 weeks old, his name is ,,buddy” .
      It’s a Berner-Senner???

      1. Thanks Stephan!

        We hope to see some pictures of the Berner-Serner in your truck 🙂

        Nicole & Elmer

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