Blog

A Breath of Fresh Austin

After a much longed-for shower we headed to Austin. We’ve traveled to all of the lower 48 states, and somehow always missed it. I’ve dreamed of seeing this vibrant, musical and arty city for years.

All new places offer surprises and push out the silly pre-conceived notions we harbor in our minds. I swear that I knew Austin is a city and yet still found myself surprised that it is huge (should’ve known, since it’s in Texas and all). It also caught me off guard being slammed with traffic… on a Sunday!

Navigating a city in an RV, is not generally fun. The oh so narrow streets, the traffic, the miniature parking lots, need I go on? This city, with well over 900,000 people is the 11th largest city in the US according to Wikipedia.

We spent most of our time in Austin driving around and enjoying the art. Taking a ride is among our favorite things to do. It’s all about the journey… the destination is only the ending. To truly get the most of this city, a car would be preferable, or alternatively a stay in town and renting the ever-present bicycles and scooters to get around. We did stop at “The Picnic”, a little gathering of food trucks and other trailers selling their wares represented a must-see. Their free parking lot accommodated our 27 foot baby and the picnic tables gave a place to sit and enjoy. After a brief stop the ride continued and then we tried to sneak right out of town, but that’s a tale for another day.

Just over half way through our journey to Seattle… and more than 3000 miles behind us!

Texas Yeah!

So happy to be in Texas, but the Austin food truck dinner was a fail. We settled for highway level fast food and a campsite in a lovely state park, after a couple of traffic incidents. One such incident involved dozens of horses with amateur riders and a young lady making the unfortunate choice to jump off of a moving vehicle. Don’t ask, all I can say is she lived.

Off to Jim Hogg Park we went. They offered electric and water for $22. The best feature of the facility is the availability of same day online booking. I may be a little in love with them for that. For some unknown reason all of the women in my family are phobic about making phone calls. We can do it, but it represents a last resort. Most campgrounds won’t allow online booking on the same day— we don’t plan ahead on a road trip— so you can see my Dilemma.

Driving into the campground we saw a doe and fawn, frolicking bunnies and stars popping right out of the sky. Yes, it was after dark. Backing an RV into a space after dark is a little like gambling. The jackpot is a crash-free landing.

Austin should happen Sunday, with a plan to see Chip and Jo on Monday and then work our way out of TX. The road often takes us to unexpected places… and that’s why we do it.

Calamity and Mayhem

Okay, so it’s only minor calamity and mayhem. When on the road, little life annoyances seem magnified. It’s partially due to the need to do a full on research project to find a mechanic, a tire place, a veterinarian, a whatever. You never know if you’ll find someone honest or someone who will take advantage of a stranded road weary traveler.

On the last full day in Florida Mr. Dog (not his real name) decided to fall ill. Waiting a couple days would be my response in an established location, but a journey loomed in the morning and we went to a vet right away. We got a family referral to vet and they set him up with many potions. After a few days his little tail started wagging again.

He felt so lousy he stole his friend’s tiny bed and did not want to leave

The next morning we boogied through the pan handle, whipped across Alabama and collapsed in a rest area in Mississippi. Crossing the border just before sleep, for the simple joy of saying we did.

The Moss Point Welcome Center has cool sculptures made from trees destroyed in a storm

We tried for Texas the next day, but alas, so very tired. We found A Plus Motel and RV Park in Sulphur Louisiana. It was more than our usual limit of free, but quiet with wonderfully hot water showers… pure bliss.

Louisiana has fun ads and food

And fun names for things… this was along an 18 mile bridge (The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge)!

New Texas Plan: Make the 4-5 hour drive to Waco TX and stop by Magnolia Market at the Silos (shout out to America’s Sweethearts, Chip & Jo). Our plans were quickly dumped when we discovered a low tire.

Mavis Discount Tire, a gem, found right around the corner from our campsite. The outside tire looked low, but it turned out the inside tire was the culprit. Our new friends at Mavis attempted to fill that pesky inside tire. There I sat, minding my own business, inside the RV, when I heard a gunshot! That cacophany actually turned out to be our own exploding tire! Thankfully our new friend scrambled out from under that rig just before the explosion and no one was hurt in making of that particular movie (phew!)

We lounged in the camper, while the guys worked in the 100+ heat index without a lift, (the camper was too tall for their bays). Four hours later, we were good as new and on our way. An hour into the drive to Texas and we realized, we would never make it before closing. On we pressed with a new plan to boondock and check out Chip and Jo’s place in the morning.

Another hour in and it hits me: tomorrow is Sunday… in Texas… there’s no way those shops will be open tomorrow. A peak at the wide world of web confirmed this little bit of sadness. Plan C: Reverse course and headed for Austin. Food trucks for dinner, woot woot.

Bringing Sexy Back?

We took one last day of activities with family in Central Florida yesterday. With a borrowed car (thank you Cassidy) we headed to Silver Springs. The adventure started with this truck, thanks for making us laugh “Big Sexy!”

It’s been about 20 years since I went to Silver Springs and I forgot how cool it is. The zoo and the water park disappeared after the state took over, but the nature remains untouched. It felt like going back in time, walking through those gates and a dark canopy of massive old trees. Shortly after arriving, thunder loomed and the boat tours were promptly postponed. Why do I always forget that lightening happens in Central Florida’s summer afternoons? There’s no excuse!

The wait turned into a blessing as we wandered through the educational centers. We learned about the wild life, the segregated parks of the past (two parks, owned by the same people), the old time movies and television series that were shot there, and we watched videos with people who worked in the park for decades.

No one in our party saw a monkey or any type of creature from the black lagoon, though we did see an alligator, turtles, fish, and remarkably clear water. Simple pleasures are the best.

One of the springs seen through the bottom of the boat

Mr. Alligator, gliding by on the left

Companions

But It’s a Wet Heat

Still in steamy Florida. It’s 92 today, but feels like 98! Friday we stopped to meet with dear ones and received blessings at their door. After a very special meal we were gifted papaya right from the garden.

Once we got to the next stop we presented the papayas, which were promptly turned into salsa and dessert enjoyed by a large crowd. Food is such a great way to bring family and friends together. It’s the best gift for people living a minimalist lifestyle. It shows love, is enjoyed right away and best of all it does not leave behind any burden of stuff. Feeling the love.

Florida Oh Florida

Progress To Date

There’s no where else I’ve seen, in the lower 48, with sights like these

One thousand miles behind us, and five thousand more to go (to paraphrase JT– for those who know). It’s so great being able to do this amazing journey. It never could happen without going tiny. Planning to relax in central FLA, with family, for a couple more days… then on to MS, LA and TX… and beyond. We may decide to stay here a bit longer, to wait out (potential) Hurricane Barry (I blame you for this Bazzer Hall 😀 ). Anyway, life happens and the Universe laughs at our plans at times. This is how we learn patience and maybe become blessed with unexpected experiences.

Navigate around the road blocks, detours, and negativity, no one gets through life unscathed

This is life calling, and it’s, “Time to Fish or Cut Bait.”

Creative Tiny Storage

The little cabinet to the the left of the refrigerator was a tiny life-saver for us. It gave more storage storage in the tiny kitchen without blocking access to the existing narrow attic door. We bought regular sized cabinets and then cut the backs off to make them more shallow. We cut them down on a table saw, and of course each of the shelves had to be cut down too. It was a fairly quick job.

They were attached directly to the wall without backs. Because of their size they were very stable. The depth was seven inches, which fit all kinds of things. We filled it with large mason jars, olive oil, vinegar, peanut butter, maple syrup, and of course a few spices. It added so much.

Another creative cabinet, shown below, was a wall cabinet that we put on the floor. It allowed extra storage without interfering with the walking path. Initially we put a pretty wood cutting board on top of it, but did not end up loving the look. The granite company was all to happy to sell us a little matching piece of granite to put on top. Another helpful solution in the kitchen was base cabinets with drawers. It’s fairly conventional and allows so much more useful storage than the more typical doors and shelves. That set up ends up involving squatting or kneeling and dragging things out from the back at times. With drawers, even the lowest ones let you see what you have and access it easily. We used the four lower drawers in this set of cabinets to hold food, pots and pans, mixing and storage bowls, and tea towels. It’s a little more money for drawers, but so much more functional. In the living room we found a little second hand toy storage chest. It allowed extra seating and storage without shrinking the room too much. A remarkable number of things ended up in that bench– paper, the scanner, the printer, blankets, and little odds and ends.