We saw a lot of interesting RVs at Zion National Park – a teardrop (which is basically a tiny bed-mobile with an outdoor kitchen on the back), late 1990s Airstream, a ladder-accessible tent on a luggage trailer, vehicles emblazoned with the New Zealand and Swiss flags…and a Teapot Van! This last vehicle was a van that had been fashioned into a teapot, complete with a spout, handle and lid. Yes, really. So we had to meet those guys.
Nicole Gruter, a Madison, Wisconsin-based musician and performance artist whose current project, ‘Tea Tour 2009’, seeks to get members of the public to take time out of their insanely busy lives to sit down and have a cup of tea with her at vacation destinations across the USA. Here’s her website:
The idea is to discover what stresses people out – whether it’s the outside world or everyone just making themselves crazy by trying to meet unreachable expectations – and whether they are willing to change their lives. Do people really want to have more time for leisure, friends, family, relaxation, etc?
The inspiration for the tour was a tea set inherited from her Dutch grandmother. In the midst of ridding herself of as many possessions as possible, Nicole came across the teaset – she couldn’t bear to throw it away but didn’t have any use for it…until it became the centerpiece of her current project.
Nicole is traveling with her friend Shane, who is himself a performance artist known as ‘Shane Shane’ on the road promoting his work, mainly musical. He’s taking some photos, helping with driving and providing additional fun. He gave us a promotional t-shirt and CD – we listened to it in the car, and our favorite track was ‘Boomedley’.
We missed Nicole and Shane’s official Zion tea party, but they were kind enough to throw us our own individual teatime, the morning we left the park for Nevada. Shane kindly played tag, jump-in-the-tent and who knows what else with Sophia, while Daniel, Lulu and I chatted with Nicole.
Her themes are certainly pertinent for me – it took a new baby to unglue me from a Blackberry and ridiculous working hours. The main idea behind our trip is to enjoy our lovely daughters, and each other. Maybe that could be done without upping sticks, buying two vehicles and risking our careers…but maybe it’s actually all for the best.
Anyway, it’s fantastic that people like Nicole and Shane are out there to help the rest of us stop and think for a moment.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.