Detour to Eastern California

View out the back window at 4 am (after “the guys” ran off)

After Los Altos, we bumped into our next misadventure. Instead of listening to our friend and staying the night on a quiet little street as advised, we decided to make it to the next rest area. All I can say, is it seemed like a good idea at the time. We planned to get closer to the next destination and take a break in a well lit area. This resulted in sitting through hours of construction delays and related rest area closures. Once it hit midnight and we passed the third closed or inaccessible rest area I hit up the GPS to determine where the next putative rest area might be. It indicated that no rest areas existed along our active route. What?!

Plan B, find the next random Walmart. The GPS guided us to an unknown town at 1:00 am. Honey said, “I’ve never been so happy to lie down,” followed by a knock on the door and, “We are sorry sir, but this parking lot closed at 12.” I loath to admit that honey begged to stay, but there just might have been a little pleading involved… to no avail.

We found a nearby parking lot in a supermarket and it seemed the best place for desperately sleepy people to stay. Sleep for me seemed elusive, though I must have drifted off at some point, as I awoke to the sounds of opening and closing car doors, and loud profane voices edging ever closer to our camper.

I opened the window shade a smidge at 4 am, only to find two sketchy seeming characters examining our dirt bike rather closely. They appeared to be checking out the straps securing the bike from about 6 inches away. Not sure what to do, I whipped open the shade, resulting in saucer eyes followed by a rapid retreat.

Meanwhile honey continued to enjoy his slumber. I put a rapid end to that situation and we headed out right away. Finding nowhere else to stop, we made it to Sonora, at the base of Yosemite National at 5:30 am. We found a perfect Walmart, then slept pretty much all day in that parking lot. We found a campground on the internet and booked it for that afternoon, provisioned ourselves at Walmart (I always try to patronize when we stay for a protracted time), and went to the 49er RV Ranch. During the gold rush this campground was a working farm that let 49ers stay. So it’s essentially been a campground for over 150 years.

The campground was hokey and wonderful all at the same time. Sonora is just beautiful. After our campground, we stayed on our niece’s little farm. We had garden fresh veggies at dinner and farm fresh eggs to take on our way. We really didn’t want to leave… until we found out their dogs had been vaccinated against rattle snake bites. That’s a thing?!

Next stop… the Pacific North West at long last.

Grape arbor at the farm

Love all the wind energy

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

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.

Wonderful Waco

We found this great little campground out in the countryside of Waco on a Sunday evening. We settled in, ate leftovers and prepared to see the city in the morning. Riverview Camp Ground is not fancy, rather it offers quiet, shade trees, and a country kind of pleasantness. We thought we might just like to stay forever.

Early on that Monday morning, I shunned prepping for the day in the RV, donned my pink shower shoes, and headed for the real showers offered by the campground. The plan: get to the Magnolia Market Silos at opening time and avoid the crowds. We were so naive back then (sigh). With much construction going on in the area, it took 20 minutes to find a place to park the RV. We paid $20 to an attendant in a church parking lot and walked a few blocks over in the blazing Texas sun.

It started with a gatekeeper at the bakery to control the flow of folks into that establishment, so no bakery for me! Fortunately, I discovered the inner courtyard with many food trucks offering samples from the bakery and restaurant. We picked up two cookies (easily a pound’s worth of gooey goodness) and a carbonated elderberry lemonade for $16. Despite my judgement of the place being crowded, the young ladies at the food court laughed a little at my commentary and deemed it to be a slow day at the Silos.

The lovely store, full of decore and fun little household things, held too many souls for me. My best intentions of finding gifts for the holidays flew out of my head, as soon as I spied the very long lines, resulting in a quick retreat back to the courtyard. My apologies to all of our would-be-gift-recipients. You may be sensing that crowds are not really my thing at this point, and thus the time to say goodbye arrived fairly quickly.

We toured the rest of Waco a bit and enjoyed many lovely sights. This place is full of charming restaurants and cute little places. It really is a sweet little college town, despite all my whining, I recommend a visit here.

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