The Beauty Around Us – Grover Beach, California

I almost cried today.

Flowers

I feel like we’ve been traveling non-stop for days, though really it’s the planning that has me feeling so beat. At last, we arrived today at Grover Beach, California – a place where we will be for at least the next month.

After settling into the RV park, we took Frodo out for quick stroll and to explore. Grover Beach – the actual Beach – the actual Pacific Ocean – is less than a mile from where we will be sleeping.

As we approached the beach, I could smell the salt in the air. There is no smell better than that of the ocean.

Grover Beach Entrance

Grover Beach was *cold. Windy. And beautiful. I darn near cried. I mean, I really had to stop and take a deep breath.

It was easy to understand the excitement of those around us.

Excitement

Dave and I are a few days shy of our 10th wedding anniversary. We’ve only taken one vacation ever, and that was on our first anniversary. This year, though we aren’t on vacation, it will definitely seem like it! I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to get to celebrate our life together.

Happy Anniversary Dave! ❤️

Dave

About the cold… *This sunbird gets cold in temperatures under 70 degrees. After recently being in 90 degree temperatures with 15 percent humidity, 68 degrees on the beach with 12 mile an hour winds, and 60 percent humidity felt cold. That’s okay. I’ll adjust!

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Impulse Shopping in Bakersfield, California

It’s not what you think, I promise. We were less than 5 miles from our designated stop for the night when the signs on the side of the road started taunting us. It wasn’t even out of our way, we were going to have to pass right BY it.

And it, is the California Fruit Depot. It’s really hard to pass up signs for fresh, locally grown Oranges and Medjool Dates! So of course, we stopped to check it out. We bought as much as we had space for in our kitchenette, and since we just got groceries yesterday, that wasn’t much. But we can always find room for more oranges and dates. And dried fruit. And nuts. Really, it’s awesome, you have to check it out.

California Fruit Depot

For any fellow travelers out there, they had signs declaring RVs & Trucks welcome, so be sure to add this place to your stop if you’re passing through Bakersfield, California!

Tonight we’re hanging our hats at the Desert Palms Mobile Home Park & RV Park, which like I mentioned, is just a few miles away from the California Fruit Depot. It’s a Passport America site which gives 50% off on weekdays (tonight is only $15 – for full hookups – sweet!), and, they sell propane onsite if you need a refill.

When we arrived and checked in I saw they mentioned on the site map they have a dog park. I laughed. Dog Runs or Dog Parks in RV Parks are usually a screened in fence that tends to be somewhere along the size of 6 feet by 6 feet. Well, this place DOES actually have a fenced in area, with grass, big enough where your dog can actually run!

Dog Park

See? I was standing so far away I have to show you a cropped view to see Frodo!

Frodo Close Up

And because we’re in California, this photo seemed appropriate!

Palm Trees

We’ve only been here for a few hours and we’ve gone through half the stash of oranges we just picked up. I wonder if we have time to go back tomorrow…

Just Passing Through: Barstow, California

We’ve been in Pahrump, Nevada for the last few days, mostly just as a resting point and time to plan. Before we left Lake Havasu City, Arizona, the temperatures were sky rocketing above 90 degrees, which was a bit difficult for us to handle. The AC in our coach definitely gets our van cooled off fast, but at those temperatures as soon as it turns off – it turns right back on again, so it basically has to run non-stop during the heat of the day.

I had a brief moment of panic after my camera wouldn’t turn on (which is stored in a heat sensitive place). Thankfully, all is well with my camera, it had just over heated. And with that, we knew it was time to leave. However, we still didn’t know where we were going! If you haven’t read the last post, it explains why our plans were still up in the air.

Today was a typical travel day for us. We got up before dawn, worked for several hours, walked the dog, disconnected from our spot in an RV Park, got fuel, got groceries, had lunch – and THEN hit the road to travel for several hours (and will work more once we get settled). I often fall asleep at some point during our travel time (obviously, Dave is driving) and I feel bad about it when this happens. For one thing, I feel like I’m abandoning Dave, and for another, I miss out on half the fun! But, with the way our travel days go, I can’t help it sometimes.

I’m starting to accept the idea that our method of travel doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. If I fall asleep, it’s okay. Well, mostly. Anyway, moving on…

We arrived at our overnight stop in Barstow, California and I took a few snapshots while we walked Frodo. I was so tired I didn’t think I’d take photos, so these were all taken with my iPhone. Note to self: ALWAYS bring camera. Always!

I love wide, open blue skies. I always have to stop and stare (and take photos).

Blue Sky

For some reason, I really dig overnight stops. Everyone is simply, “passing through,” and the owners we’ve encountered have always been really friendly. It almost feels like a step back in time to when people were always courteous and friendly, and stops like this just have a really good vibe to them. Small towns are awesome.

Shady Lane RV Park

This is the craziest tree I have ever seen…

Crazy Tree

All right, we’re all tucked in for the night, with another travel day ahead of us tomorrow.

Van Tucked In

G’night!

Secrets Full-time RV’ers Will Never Tell You

Sharon and Dave 2015Secret #1. Rv’ing can be super cheap, but it can also be incredibly expensive. Of course this seems obvious, but it’s being new to the road that will bite your finances. You will make mistakes with regard to planning, and most of them will be ones that cost you money.

Most people will say you don’t need to make reservations, and whether you do or not depends on your flexibility.

Secret #2. Your RV will limit your flexibility. Weather will limit your flexibility. Add your budget to the mix and you have the perfect storm. Ha! No really, so you want to go visit Anytown, USA? You will be limited by time of year, temperature, and costs. This is of course obvious, but the actual assembly of this 3D puzzle in real life with real constraints is incredibly difficult. It involves researching an area with regard to weather and elevation, potential places to stay, costs to stay there, and speed of getting there. Faster is more expensive, slower (using Weekly or Monthly rates) is cheaper. Sometimes you can’t opt to go the speed of your choice.

The different ways your RV limits you is the following: How much insulation do you have? Are your water tanks heated? How well does your AC work? Are you able to boondock and go offgrid if you want to (if so, for how long?). Even knowing the answers to these and having an idea of how things will play out, doesn’t fully prepare you for dealing with the actual limitation of say, choosing a city in an area to visit but knowing the surrounding areas are outside the temperature band of what you can reasonably pull off. This map gives you a general idea, but with planning, keeping an eye on elevation of your travel path is critical!

Secret #3. Planning for your budget doesn’t necessarily mean those options are available. If you aren’t interested in Boondocking (not everyone is!), sure, staying somewhere for a full month is the cheapest way to go. Daily rates are super expensive, Weekly rates are less so (but only likely affordable if you use this option sparingly), and Monthly rates are where the financial wiggle room is. But, to stay somewhere that meets your interest, temperature range, and time of year? Everyone else in an RV is doing the same thing – and they snagged all those Monthly rate spots A YEAR AGO.

Our plans A, B, C, and D have all been squished and gone splat. Spend a month in Utah? Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. The place we were interested in was booked a full year ago, and still has a waiting list.

Our idea of spending a month (or two!) in Boise, Idaho? Gone. Too many other folks had the same idea – LAST YEAR and there is a waiting list for the places we wanted to go.

A month in Portland? Nope.

We’ve spent the last several weeks planning, re-planning, pulling my hair out, and planning some more.

For a few days we are chilling out in Pahrump, Nevada to escape the heat of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and even getting a spot here was luck.

Spring is migration season, and as hard as it is to get a spot where you want in Winter, that difficulty remains all year round! I’m telling you this because no one else will. The easiest thing to do is travel off-season, but that again flips your 3D puzzle on it’s side and has you evaluating if you want to BE in those places off-season. Chances are, you don’t.

Sure, we CAN boondock, but we only want to occasionally. A day here, a day there. A small RV means small water tanks and we prefer having at least partial hookups.

Secret #4. It is incredibly time consuming to figure this stuff out. Before we set out, I began following several bloggers of folks like us who work for a living and travel by RV. I will tell you this, no matter how much time you think it will take to learn the ropes of the road, and plan travel paths, it will take you longer when you sit down to do it. Possibly two to three times longer than you expect. Doing this while working 7 days a week is beyond exhausting.

For non-retirees, personal time is different than neighboring retirees. Almost every day we are asked if we’ve seen (some nearby place) to say, “No.. um… we were working. We’re mostly just here for the weather and scenery!” I think people think we’re a little nuts…

Anyway, we had some great travel ideas in plan for the summer, in an affordable method (Monthly rates – yo!), but those plans are not actually doable in a way we can afford, at least not without having the full year mapped out and reserved ahead of time. We could still go to the places we want, if we traveled using overnights and Weekly rates, but that method is way, way outside our budget.

As luck would have it, we finally found a place where we can hang our hats for the next month. It’s in a beautiful part of the country, has great weather, and, holy cow, it’s even affordable! I never would have guessed we’d be able to stay on the Coast in Central California without making some blood sacrifice, but we can!

Grover Beach, California wasn’t part of the initial set of plans, but I’m very excited to head there and check it out! Based on the last several weeks of planning, I have no idea what to expect after next month. If we like it, we may stay there for a few more months (if they have spots available) – who knows? So to our friends and family who keep asking where we will be next so you can come visit us, I’m sorry to say – we’ll know when we get there!

It’s disappointing that our initial set(s) of plans didn’t work out, but our new plan looks pretty nice so far. I’m really shocked we found an affordable place in California, that was probably one of the last places I ever would have expected!

Secret #5. As crazy as all of this is, it’s still amazingly awesome. There is no place in this country I want to be for 12 consecutive months, so even with all of the above, living in an RV is still fully worth it to us!

It looks like the next year will be very interesting one way or another. To those of you following along, thank you for reading!

This post was written in Pahrump, Nevada.

Frodo and the Fridge

Frodo March 2015

Does your dog tap the fridge to request peanut butter? Yes, Frodo is very spoiled. But he’s also well trained!

Since Frodo has a lot of issues with allergies, he frequently gets peanut-butter-topped-benadryl. What, you didn’t know this was a thing? It’s a thing. Trust me.

When it’s time for benadryl, all it takes is one of us getting the bottle out of the cabinet and he runs to us and sits down, eager to enjoy it. We made tapping the fridge and “finding” the peanut butter part of the game, so he’s thrilled to have his medicine.

Yes, Frodo is a very good dog…! It’s a joy to spoil him 🙂

Our Bathroom is So Small…

Our 25 pound dog doesn’t fit fully (head-to-tail) when standing sideways! Seriously, take a look:

Frodo in the Shower

No, we STILL haven’t made a video tour of our van, but this is a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a comically small living environment.

Our bathroom is indeed, comically small. Yes, that is the shower, and behind the curtain is the toilet.  During a shower, the curtain is pulled across the doorway (where Frodo’s head is in the photo) to keep the water inside the shower. This means the toilet lid and base are in the shower, and not protected from the water like the photo shows. We did that today to make Frodo’s bath less work by skipping some of the post-bath/shower squeegee time.

Our bathroom is what is known as a Wet Bath – when everything you need is in one space – and it all gets wet. On the PRO side, the area around the toilet gets a bath every day preventing those super scary dust bunnies that would otherwise grow there. On the CON side, you have to learn to be careful in the shower or you’ll bruise your knees!

Today was a very long overdue bath for Frodo. Er, shower. He kind of had a shower. Frodo doesn’t mind the micro-bathroom, and the end result is the same – he is now clean again – yay!

Yes I know, we owe our friends and family a video-tour. Some day that will happen, some day…