Betsy Marsano has set a goal to travel indefinitely and see the country.

The former Belfast Co-op cashier, who lived in Waldo until recently, said she was "going to take a right," and then "another right," hitting the open road on a non-stop adventure and consciously choosing to be homeless.

The Friday before her anticipated departure she noted, "Everything is gone," referring to all her belongings.

The first right turn refers to a trip to New Hampshire, visiting family along the way and passing through Montpelier, Vermont.

The next right will take her to Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. She then expects to head west on Route 20 in upstate New York until reaching Lake Erie, then drive south to the Blue Ridge Parkway. From there, her plans become more fluid.

Enterprise, Alabama, is on her list, to visit family and have a big old-fashioned Thanksgiving celebration. Later, she hopes to head west and cross the Mississippi at Natchez because of the way novelist Greg Iles illustrates the area in his prose.

Marsano has a friend in Austin, but said she is not "big on going into cities."

"I really don't know, once I get past the Mississippi," she said. She would like to stay on the southern end of things during the colder winter months, with the possible exception of venturing as far north as Vancouver, Canada, for Christmas.

Alaska, however, is definitely not on her radar. She said she read that a vehicle can go through as many as two or three pairs of tires just getting there.

All her life, she said, she has worked low-income jobs, never making "real money," or investing. In January, Marsano turns 70. She said she is just tired. 

"I have to work 32 hours a week to pay for heat in my house in winter," she said. "When you are poor, you spend so much of your energy hiding your fear. When one thing goes wrong, you realize nothing is in your control."

She said she sees her adventure translating into a economically feasible lifestyle and one that could be less expensive than elderly housing — and a lifestyle where her scenery will constantly be changing.

"You can't have a life on Social Security," Marsano said.

"For a lot of people, it's a desperate last act to just survive," she said. "For me, I want to feel good about my life, rather than just the satisfaction of paying my bills every month."

Marsano said her life has not been easy, but she has had a lot of fun living it.

As Marsano figures, she can pay her expenses (car loan, car WiFi and gas) with her monthly Social Security check, save money, and travel the country, too. She also said she has full health insurance through MaineCare. She has mapped out her expenses down to the tankfuls of gas — four tanks at $50 per fill-up will get her approximately 1,000 miles.

"I've never done anything crazy like get married," she notes, "but I've tiptoed pretty close."

She planned to leave Labor Day in her 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan. Her van is equipped with "Stow 'n Go" seats that fold flat, leaving plenty of storage below. A sheet of plywood on top of the seats stabilizes her sleeping platform.

On her voyage, she is taking seven wooden crates she got in college, a Coleman stove and a cooler "that will hold a suitcase of beer." She is also traveling with 40 years' worth of journals, something that she enjoys writing in every day.

"I write like someone's going to read them," she said.

Marsano said her research on freecampgrounds.com revealed many free places to park her Caravan. Hospital parking lots are also prime areas to stay, she said. They are usually monitored 24/7, and offer the use of public bathrooms, which might include showers.

According to Marsano, the Army Corps of Engineers also maintains a list of reasonably priced facilities they operate that are clean and offer basic amenities (showers, restrooms, water, picnic tables and fire rings).

On the topic of security, she has spoken with female friends who have gone on similar traveling adventures, all without incident. In the event of an emergency, she said, mace is not an effective means of defense because "you have to be within striking distance."

She recommends using wasp repellent, which works up to 30 feet away, and carrying an air-horn, which "really draws attention."

Marsano said family is important to her, and she comes from a large "weird" Belfast family. Her family sold the land on which Belfast Area High School was built and also owned the Colonial Inn where the laundromat is now located. The inn was destroyed by fire in 1978 and seven people died, she said.

According to Marsano, her father "ran" the Crosby School in 1928. Her brother Francis became a judge and state representative and another brother was known as Rocket-J-Racoon at the Belfast radio station WBME in the '60s and '70s. One of her sisters also taught at the East Belfast School for 35 years and now works at a state university.

No one ever moved away or lived anywhere else, she noted.

Marsano graduated from the University of Maine on the Dean's List in 1986 at the age of 37 with a degree in philosophy. She was a Green Party candidate in the Maine gubernatorial race in 2018 but dropped out before the election.

Living in Boston in the early 1970s, she experienced busing when it was "a thing," she said. Her rent-control apartment cost $168 a month and was situated opposite Boston Common.

Her travel plans, she said, are a viable option for anyone on a limited income who has a vehicle.

"I don't know if it's courage or stupidity," Marsano said. "I think it's just a matter of deciding to do it."

She does not anticipate longing for home on the road, though the hardest part so far, she said, was giving up her cat before leaving on her journey.

She hopes to start a blog at agingoutofplace.org, where she will give out daily snippets of her adventures. She summarized by saying she has no expectations.

"I call it coddiwompling," she said, "to travel with great purpose with no known destination."

Parting words of wisdom, she listed good coffee, olive oil and real butter as "essentials," when living on a diet of macaroni.

"After that," she said, "the day is what you make of it."