Verizon Shut Us Down!

We saw Lakehead, CA in passing
Mount Shasta out the camper window

We left Sonora and headed straight for the Pacific Northwest. California, another painfully long state, much like it’s sisters Texas and Florida, all are easy to get into and hard to get out of when traveling by road.

As we neared our future home state of Washington, and reality hit that the time to knuckle under and look for a job was approaching, Verizon essentially quit on us. The mobile hotspots that we mistakenly thought were unlimited, along with our data, turned out to be quite limited in fact. Shut down, just when we needed it most! Our phones continued with internet, which became painfully slow when attempting to access well… anything. It felt like returning to the days of dial up.

Our Verizon Wireless bill comes in at over $200 each month. As serious data junkies we know we need to pay. But now I ask myself why we pay top dollar for this elusive unlimited data?

The representative cheerfully informed us that all data renews on the 12th of August. Sadly, this news arrived before the end of July. As the internet slowed to a crawl the tears began to flow. Maybe they were crocodile tears, but still.

We camped for one night at a rest area in Oregon, after driving past a smokey wildfire, we found a fairly breathable place to stop. The next morning we sailed past Portland and Seattle and headed for Monroe. For a week we languished at a state fairgrounds there, that doubled as an RV Park in the off months. It consists of a really large parking lot with hook ups. The activities there proved to be seriously loud until about 9:00 pm, as it doubles as a raceway and sits in close proximity to railway tracks. In the end, it served our purposes for a reasonable price and we met a few interesting people along the way.

The data work around we found involved going into town and bringing our laptops to Starbucks. We were rewarded with quicker internet service in exchange for five dollar beverages and a tip. Now I get why so many people hang out there with laptops. They’re probably just out of their monthly allotment of data. That’s what I am thinking.

The City of Monroe is very functional. It offers a lot of countryside and sells pretty much whatever you might want in town. The outskirts, near the highway, consist of a movie theater, Fred Meyer and Walmart, along side many restaurants and chain stores. Further down the road is a very cute little downtown. We were particularly happy to find the Monroe Laundry Company. A clean and efficient laundromat with style. Our small collection of clothing sparkled in short order. Overall, I felt thankful to be in Monroe and ready to explore the area to find the perfect place to settle.

Such cuteness here

Love how clean and fun it looks in here

You know you’re in the Pacific NW when you see moss everywhere

Nobody Parks in LA

Finally, we made it to the other coast. Southern California offers the the highest highs and the lowest lows. You’ll find the art, the traffic, the unique food, the palm trees, the dreamers, the crowding, the endless treats for the eyes, the sunshine, and many, many people sleeping rough among the plenty.

Sometimes we feel our hearts belong to this happy place. On the other hand, this part of California is not RV friendly AT ALL. So many people live in campers here that many of the communities created laws against anything greater a certain length parking overnight. In Santa Monica, where we stayed with family, we discovered that RV parking is not allowed ANYWHERE. A system exists for home owners to request a short term permit to park an RV on the street for a few days, but that ship had sailed.

We spent hours looking for a campground or storage facility. My dear husband even walked into an impound lot to ask if they might allow us to leave it there for a couple days. We tried the airport which approved an overnight parking permit, but would not allow a vehicle to take up more than one space. I know most of you won’t find this shocking, but the LA area does not generally offer open RV campgrounds spaces in July. The planners, happily parked at those campgrounds, were all set for a stay months in advance. We like spontaneity, and accept that the more densely populated places don’t always accommodate spontaneous. Our joy comes with a price.

Fortunately my cousin’s large driveway fit the camper. Sadly her electric car, which charges in the driveway, did not fit with the RV there. We spent much time driving the camper down the street to LA, where it could be briefly parked, in daylight hours, for just long enough to charge that ecologically minded vehicle.

With the parking problem more or less solved, we attempted to visit some of our favorite places. Once again we found going nearly anywhere in the city to be frustrating, if not impossible. Yes, you can drive around, just don’t try to stop or park. We rented a car for a couple days to give us access to the city. That helped us enjoy Venice, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and more!

Even the shadows shine

A massive disco ball on the balcony? Yes, you CAN see that in Venice

Many royal pathways

Just another day, walking the cat, in paradise

Street art is everywhere

Can’t Hear Me Now?

After Waco we traveled for an entire day through central Texas without any phone, internet or even text messaging. If that gives you the shivers, maybe drive down to Interstate 10 or up 20 when you leave Waco. We took state road 84 to 190 and caught back up with Interstate 10 around Fort Stockton, where we camped in a truck stop. Along the way we passed miles and miles of sparsely populated agricultural land. It’s beautiful, ringing with the song of cicadas, and virtually endless.

That night we napped in a rest area in Stockton, then passed quickly through New Mexico and stopped in a rest area after roaming past most of Arizona.

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.