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

Palm Springs and Such

Yes, Palm Springs did find us with another tire issue. This time the valve permanently gave out, and we needed another new tire. The team at the first place, as nice as they could be, referred us to another tire place after an hour and a half. They did not charge and refused a tip. Off to the next placement, and another nice group of guys who got us back on the road in a few hours.

Palm Springs surprised. This town made us think of luxury. The opulence here felt like going back in time to the 1950s. It’s well maintained mid-century architecture for the most part.

You know your in California when even the parking lot flowers look this good. My husband said, “The colors of the flowers look so good, I want to eat them, and I don’t even want to know if they’re poisonous first!” Should I be worried?

We loved our campground here, Horizon Mobile Home Village and RV Park. It consists of full time residents, winter residents, RV sites and lots of folk art. The prices were very reasonable, and the neighborhood was super cute and friendly. If we returned to Palm Springs in an RV, we would go right back.

Palm Springs seems to have many funky interesting little bistros, though very few parking lots that can accommodate an RV. We finally found a larger parking lot with choices for takeout offering fairly exotic fair (for those coming from pragmatic New England). I found mixed vegetables with Asian flavors and grilled tofu for a song. The prices were surprisingly reasonable. We went to sleep feeling well fed and dreaming of our next adventure in LA.

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.

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!

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.