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Tiny Lessons Along the Way

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Sometimes it’s the little things that matter, so I thought I’d write an entry on some of the little things that I learned along the way. So let me start with gas stations. Maybe as I get more experienced and fancy free I’ll say something totally different about gas stations but right now, on my first long solo trip, gas stations were something I had to learn to navigate. I originally planned to just go to truck stops so I wouldn’t become an embarassing YouTube video. I didn’t want to be known as the girl who took out all of the gas tanks at the gas station in some town U.S.A., or the girl who got stuck because she drove in and didn’t alredy have an exit strategy, or the girl who ran out of gas because she forgot to check ahead for the next station that actually had diesel and the five near her did not. All of those almost happened, but I’m proud to say I handled it! I drove like a pro, sometimes backing out of locations I had to stop at because I simply needed gas. Also, when driving along the highway and sighting the gas at next exit signs, often this was not enough notice to see and assess whether the station was a good one for me to stop at, or whether or not it even had diesel. And at each stop, I definitely would want to stretch my legs and walk about a bit with the dog. Actually I wanted to hit the rest stops for that, but it seemed like I’d get gas, then two miles down the road there would be a rest stop. Since each stop added at a minimum a half an hour to my trip and I had just stopped I’d decide to wait for the next rest stop in sixty miles, which inevitably would always be closed. And then I would need gas again. Anyhow… the best tools I had to  prepare ahead of time, find diesel and space to pull in and back out easily were Gas Buddy combined with Google Maps. Gas buddy let me know where gas was, whether or not they had diesel, whether or not anyone had actually bought gas from that location in the last few hours (which guaranteed that the station actually existed) and of course I could compare prices. Then I could look the station up on the google maps and get a good birds eye view of how easy it would be to maneuver. Below was my favorite gas station… easy off the highway, in and out and lots of space!

Stopping for food was also a learning experience. I decided it’s better to keep a good cooler of yummy treats. It’s a lot easier than trying to find parking around food establishments that have lots of traffic and curbs. At one fairly remote stop I thought I had done well in that there was a burger joint, a gas station and what looked like a trucker home cooked meal type of restaurant. I went for the restauraunt first, only to realize I had traveled a ways down a road to an abandoned building and a road that dead ended and likely the only way out was to back it up quite some distance. So, instead I dragged the bug ridden logs blocking the parking lot entry to the side, ignored the no trespassing on private property sign, hoped for no loose nails in the lot and drove in to turn around. I went to the burger joint which made me feel like I was in one of those twilight zone movies where I might not make it out. There were three truckers standing silent near the counter, nobody at the registers and one lady and a guy way in back moving as slow as molasses. They didn’t even notice that I had brought my little dog in so he would not get heated in the car. I’m not sure how much of the hour went by before the lady finally acknowledged me and said she would help me in a minute. I decided the kill ’em with kindness route was my best bet, so I smiled and waited patiently. Eventually I ordered my bacon burger, and then joined the truckers standing silently. The lady in charge slowly sauntered to the back to get a couple heads of lettuce which she brought to the front and then tucked between her arm and her chest, no gloves, no apron… so that she could open the refridgerator door. I repeated in my head like a mantra… I’m grateful for food, I’m grateful for food, I’m grateful for food. Well eventually we got our burger and got back on the road. I took the lettuce out, took a bite of the slightly warm burger and was not impressed…. there wasn’t even any bacon on my bacon burger. I shared the rest with my dog and made a note to self…. pack my own food next time.

I say I traveled solo, but honestly I was only truly solo at one spot, a Harvest Host golf course location at which I enjoyed the quiet peace and serenity and in the morning quickly made friends with the workers who helped me get a coffee early in the morning before official opening so I could get on the road nice and early. I stayed at one private campground along the coast that I had booked a year out, where a friend who was traveling south joined me to celebrate the fourth, and then we made friends with the neighbors in the park. I stopped at a Harvest Host winery where a past coworker drove out and joined me for some great wine and cheese. I met family I had never met while parked at a state park campground. I parked on my Auntie’s Apple Farm and enjoyed good company, home cooked meals and a bath tub! And I parked on the street at my cousins where I picked her up for Canadian segment of my trip. On the way back I’ll see all kinds of folks too. I say that because I had read so much about safety and traveling solo. I realized you don’t really have to be any more solo than you are at home, and when you are solo it is a real treat, plus there are a lot of good folks out there looking out for you. Also, getting more involved in the different RV groups online and now rallies, I have made lots of friends that I look forward to meeting up with along the way. Being a healthy mix of extrovert and introvert, I do look forward to some of those remote beautiful boondock sites to come too.

As for the roads and road conditions, I have learned plot my route on google maps, talk to folks who have traveled the route and check YouTube to see if there are any videos of the roads. I don’t count on the weather apps to help much since most of the places I went I could not get any internet or phone reception. And as planned as I might want to be, I’ve learned to go with the flow because it is guaranteed that there will be surprises along the way. On my way into the Harvest Host winery I ran into a maze of narrow roads surrounded by water on both sides, I would have multiple beautiful bridges pop up in front of me with short notice to figure out whether they were big enough for my rig to fit through, tractors rolling down the road at a few miles an hour, construction zones where the two lane highway was ripped up with no middle line and drops on the edges while going through mountain roads and more.

I have to be honest each leg of the route I went through a pattern of being terrified of the upcoming drive, then delightfully relieved at the scenery and things to do at the next location, then terrified to get on the road again. The doubt had started to set in, as to whether this was for me. I just could not see continuing full timing if I was going to feel terrified every time I was getting ready to take off.  Then something changed. I’ll talk abou that in my next post.

I continue to be delighted that you continue to follow me! Thanks! Please feel free to help me increase my followers by sharing.

 

Sister Cousins

Canada

 

One of the many reasons I love living tiny in an airstream is that I get to travel about the country and see friends and family who I rarely get to see or in this case have never met before. I mentioned earlier that I was adopted. Well, having dabbled a bit with “Ancestry”, I was surprised to come in contact with a couple of first cousins, one from either side of my biological family. It was magical meeting Canada, my cousin, and her family. We bonded as if we had known each other all of our lives. I had found my “Sister Cousin.”

On this trip, I have not even known how to express how deeply moving it was to actually get to meet one of my biological relatives, Cousin Canada is from my biological father’s side. Our fathers, who neither of us knew, were brothers. We had been talking by phone and social media, slowly getting to know each other and now we finally got to meet live. Not only did I meet her but also her two amazing sons, I believe they would be cousins once removed, and also her husband. It was great meeting the whole family.

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My family that I grew up with will always will be my family. The fun thing is now I get to also acknowledge my birth family too. There is something special about meeting them after never knowing any of them. Canada was a pure delight! Her online presence told me she was someone special, but meeting her in person was an even greater treat. Online I knew her as a beautiful soul who spent her life giving to others. In her current work she helps people say goodbye to loved ones as a Celebrant. It takes a person with a big heart to do that kind of work, helping people find joy in a time of sorrow.  I just think that is an incredible selfless gift that she helps others cope with deep loss. She is a creative, just like me, and considers herself a Portland Hipster. I’m not sure how hip I am, but it’s fun thinking I am. 🙂

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My dog, Dudley was in for a surprise when stopped by her house and met her goats, especially the goat. She was the queen of the house and she let him know with a gentle but that sent him surprised and flying over onto his back with a puzzled look that said “Ma?! What kind of dog is that?!” The rest of the time he maneuvered around the yard keeping one eye open for the goat.

Anyhow… it was fun to see people that had some similar features as me because they were blood relatives. And we talked as if we had known each other all of our lives. It was great swapping stories and piecing together our history. It was amazing to see someone who also had survived the childhood traumas from her biological family, not only surviving but thriving. What a beautiful, intelligent, creative, fun, caring, kind, funny, sweet, cool Portland Hipster cousin. Feeling more like sisters, we call ourselves “Sister Cousins” So grateful to have met someone who is another piece of my puzzle…. My life. I can’t wait till we meet again and hopefully can have a longer stay and get to know each other better.

Dinner

We enjoyed a lovely dinner down on the Gorge at a popular spot after exploring the woods where deep inside is a network of roads that make up a little town. Great place to look for land and build! It was absolutely magical. Words and my photos do not capture the peace and serenity of those woods. 

This was my first time to Portland and I fell in love with the city. I’m sorry to say I took zero pictures. I was so engaged with all of the visual delight of all of the little neighborhoods. Wow! My kind of artsy, neighborhood, community place.

I also enjoyed camping at Ainsworth State Park, a quiet wooded park along The Gorge on The Columbia River, just a jump east of Portland. The quiet beauty of the wooded campground embraces you from all sides and makes you feel snuggled in and cozy. And by the way, if you decide to go there and want to feel a little more isolated, pick section A at the top which is quiet and built up with forest life between each site. If you are feeling more social pick a section lower down where you can swap stories and share tidbits with your neighbors.

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Harvest Host – My First & Definitely Not Last Experience- Julietta Winery, Sacramento

Purchasing an annual membership allowed me to boon dock “free” on over 1,000 farms, wineries, golf courses and museums in North America. Of course as a courtesy they hope you will patron the location.

This was easily done at Julietta Winery. I let them know ahead of time that I was coming to make sure they had space for me. I told friends nearby I was coming through town and got to hang out together.

When I drove in from highway five the drive was amazing, I drove along the Sacramento River and over some beautiful photo worthy bridges, further and further back in, hoping my GPS was not misleading me. Of course I could not snap the photos because I had to keep both hands on the wheel, but I will say, if you have not explored wine country near Sacramento it is definitely a treat.

The staff at Juliette Winery made me feel so welcome, from when I first got there and they helped me back into my spot, to enjoying surprising delights in both wine and cheese, both which I walked away buying… so not actually free…. but worth it.

The setting was gorgeous and after the winery closed it was just me and the dog enjoying the trees bending in the wind, a delicious dinner and the colorful sunset.

I even got to hold “Hei Hei” a love of a chicken! Who knew chickens were so sweet! Dudley gave me a good hard look at that point but he warmed up to the little guy.

I hope you enjoy the pictures! And for now good night! Tomorrow is a new day of driving!

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Rosie!

 

The thought of venturing out alone as a female, I have to admit was a little scarey. However, if I only did stuff when I had someone to do them with a lot of life would simply pass me by. Also as I learned at my first stop on my route on the Central Coast of California, we are never really alone. First of all, we are not alone because we have our own fabulous company to entertain us. And when I talk to myself watching all of the beauty of the world go by, I can be quite entertaining and adventurous. More seriously though we don’t have to be alone because our friends want to join on the adventure. My first guest stayed with me through the fourth of July and we had a lot of fun. (The benefits of a 27 footer is there is room for guests.) You never know when traveling with friends how its going to go, but when things go as peacefully and nice as they did, well, a fabulous time is had by all. Our fun included shared meals, art conversations, photo opportunities, abnd hikes and adventures like the ones below from the beach to Gum Alley.

 

What I had not expected, was the idea that one is never truly alone because we meet fellow travelers who are amazingly welcoming, kind and helpful. I met Robert and Dorothy, Grandpa and Grandma and their family. John and Brittani and Brittani’s sister and her husband and two children, as well as all of their dogs. It was the children who stole my heart. One boy with a brain injury he sustained at an early age made it a miracle that he was alive. Not only was he alive, but he was full of life, joy, curiosity and was as sweet as could be. And his younger three year old bright eyed blondie, brother Wyatt, who decided I was “too pretty for my name” so he renamed me “Rosie”. How hilarious! I became Rosie for the week! (His older brother became “Superman”) I didn’t take a ton of photos of them as I didn’t want to be invasive. Although, as they were leaving they said we wanted my photo, and they gave me their contact information and said if I needed anything along the way, to call them and they’d be there.

 

You get invited to join folks and really want to know you are not imposing on them. I soon learned they honestly wanted us to join them. They shared their food and company and stories, as well as road knowledge and RV tips. We brought the food we had next door and joined in. And on the fourth we all sat around the fire pit watching an inbcredible show of illegal fireworks surrounding the park. Yep… all illegal. It was like a war zone, only fun. And hey…. my American flag may have been small, but I proudly flew it out on the front of my Airstream with all of the others. I refuse to stop believing in my countryt, even if not everything is going the way I think it should go. Some of my new friends definitely did not share my political views, but hey… we had fun anyway. It is interesting learning about people who have had a whole different experience on the planet than oneself. Wyatt’s daddy was a bull fighter and motorcross sports bike and dune dare devil…. or something like that. And the girls and other son-in-law worked in the public school system so we had a lot of fun conversations and let the laughter roar when anyone tried to talk politics. Although Mr. D did not particularily like the fireworks display, he was grateful for CBD Oils, lavendar and a cozy back bedroom in the Airstream.

 

 

The first stop on my adventure has been filled with beach fun, tasty food at restaurants, home cooked food, country walks and fruit and veggie stands, yummy morning cups of Joe, sand dunes, fireworks, and firepits, starry nights, great neighbors, awesome friend company and fantastic alone time, as well as lovely soaks in the hot tub and pool, (something I miss since my Airstream only has a shower).

 

I’m thrilled to see what is ahead, and will be having some fun with my new identity as Rosie! Next stop, my first experience in Harvest Hosts, boondocking for a glass of wine on a California winery. Looking forward to catching up with old work colleagues.

Thanks for your follows!

Indigenous Folks, & Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru….. Tiny Living Before it Was Trendy in the U.S.

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Yes, I live in an Airstream and yes, I take vacations on airplanes too. I am so grateful for a recent opportunity to travel to Peru, South America. I say the name America because so often in the place I grew up called the United States, I am guilty of what so many others are, thinking the United States and America means the same thing. Well, really Canada is America, Mexico is America, and in this case Peru is America. So I’m going to be a bit more aware and start calling my country The United States.

I feel so fortunate to have experienced The Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru. Yes, Machu Pichu, Cusco, and Lima were all amazing too, but the people on the Floating Islands really touched my heart. They are Indigenous people from Peru and Bolivia and have lived on these islands for a long time, but tourists have only been visiting for the last twenty five years. And like Machu Pichu, it is very likely that one day tourists will no longer be able to visit, in this case becasue they may no longer exist.

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Their lifestyle is simple, beautiful and happy. Today, there are eighty five islands, each made from the root systems of the reeds found in the lake, and maintained by the layering of fresh reeds every fifteen days. They are located in a quiet part of the lake to avoid the ten foot waves that can be found elsewhere. Some of the islands are used to house pigs, each staked in its own area. Most of the islands are covered in a variety of housing. The housing we got to experience were the houses made also of the same reeds the islands are made of. And then there are the big beautiful boats also made of reeds. All of the clothing is colorful and tells a story as to whether someone is single, or married, and more.

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The people greeted us with so much warmth, kisses, hugs and songs. They were so happy to see us come visit them. They invited us into their homes and shared their customs. They told us please don’t give them money for tips as it was not worth much to them there. They might use it as toilet paper. Although I suspect they do use it on the mainland.

The children row their boats to various islands for kindergarten and elementary school.  We were fortunate to get to take a ride in one of the bigger boats. If the children choose to go further with their schooling, they attend secondary school on the mainland, where they often seek jobs and leave their traditional costumes for blue jeans, one of the threats to island living. The main threat to island living is global warming. If the lake goes down one more half meter, it will make it hard to get the needed reed roots to sustain the islands.

The people here live by three rules: Don’t lie. Don’t steal. and Don’t be lazy! They are hard working clever people who live off the land, mostly sustained by fishing the lake. The lake is peaceful and noticeabley void of ski boats and jet skis. The community is void of drama, violence, grafitti or any of the other things we see as signs of poverty in the U.S.

When I started tiny living someone asked me to reflect on my values for tiny living, my why. I love tiny living for several reasons. I love the community it builds among others doing the same thing. I love the freedoms it affords in terms of forcing me to focus on what is most important to me, spending time and resources on just that and only that. I love the mobility it offers, allowing me to travel and see friends and families. And I love how stress free (although not problem free by any means) it is.

The people on the Floating Islands I noticed shared a lot of these values. Everything was about working for the good of the whole, supporting comunity within and connecting to other communities. Their life was simple and their homes were tinier than mine, but they were happy with the few possessions they had. Everything was made from what they had, like the reed houses and boats and island itself. They could move if they were not happy where they were, just pick up anchor, their version of hitching up to the truck and driving somewhere new. They didn’t have a heavy reliance on money and could enjoy the arts and each other. They were definitely stress free. Life expectancy is over one hundred years. The last woman who died on the island was one hundred and  twenty six. Life expectancy on the mainland is sixty five. These Indigenous Peruvian folks ae definitely on to something. And even though here in the U.S. living tiny is a newer trendy thing, I think we are feeling the pull from some ancient ancestors somewhere and experiencing our own kind of floating islands.

 

 

Grief…. Just Before Launching

It’s almost time for me to get on the road. I noticed I was ignoring a feeling deep down inside. Yes, I’m thrilled beyond imagination that I get to go explore the continent in my Airstream, Nefelibata. I’m feeling more confident that I know enough about both of my rigs, my RV and my truck, the routes, campgrounds, and all of the other details one needs to know when traveling across the continent for a few months. I know, no matter how much I plan, the universe has a sense of humor and will have its own plan for me. I’m ready. I’m ready to go and experience the journey. So what is this feeling speaking to me from deep down?

They say when you make a major change in your life you shouldn’t make any more life changing decisions. Well, in this case it seemed necessary. Everything just fell together, one thing right after another. However, what I did not expect was the accumulation of grief. And I am quite surprised to find I have a need to release a lot of sorrow and loss in a time that is quite joyous and fun. 

I sold my house, downsized into an apartment, and then made the leap to full timing in my Airstream in a park. At the same time I took an early retirement leaving my life long career and jumped on the road less traveled. I listened and honored that small voice inside that wanted to address my inner creative self. In doing all of this I am discovering I am courageous, resourceful and skilled at things beyond my wildest imagination. I am discovering I am adventurous and bold, which really means I have learned to lean on my faith more than some crazy notion that I control my destiny. I am learning to find my truth my voice and speak it. This means changes.

Change involves new ways of relating to a world of things, different choices in how I eat and exercise and take care of my physical and mental health. I have found in going through change, I change, which also changes my relationships.  Not everyone wants to go along for that ride. I shed things that no longer serve me, I also shed ways of being in that no longer work for me.

As I await my upcoming launch out onto the road and get ready to give up having a permanent parking space, I am full of excitement and joy. I also contemplate grief. As much as I am making choices that are good for me, I also am going through great loss, and nobody really tells you how to do that…. So I do it to the best of my ability. Grief, is a part of my journey. When going tiny, I have to be gentle and kind to myself and allow time for that part of the process.

 

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David Meets Goliath, Money, Power and Living Tiny

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Everyone kept telling me “OMG, you’ve gotta see the latest John Oliver show!” Then someone sent me the YouTube link, posted below. I wrote this post before I left, and sitting in a Canadian coffee shop listening to some locals have strong political opinions (very different than mine) where I finally joined the conversation just to break up the narrative and throw some food for thought about what it’s like to live at the Mexican border from someone who actually lives near it…. made me realize I never posted my one political post. I know folks hate politics but hey… politics are in every part of our lives even Airstreaming. So… here the post is… late and out of order. 🙂

Watching it made me think about everything goin on right now. The opioids addiction crisis and the fight with “Big Pharma” as well as the challenges in getting descent affordable health care, the toxic work environment narratives where fights between big management and the little worker are showing a push back and growth in union membership all have something in common. Our attempt to hang on to the little collective voice we still have is indicative of the times The homeless and housing crisis, the fight over what constitutes real food or who decides what women do with their bodies and the tiny movement as a response to everything going on are all related. In all cases we’re talking about who has the power. Yes, there’s power in big money, but sometimes we forget there’s also power in numbers. And we may hate politics and want nothing to do with it, but it definitely is not leaving us alone in any segment of our society, including living tiny. And of course, because living tiny is a powerful political statement and action that challenges the very core of who we say we are as Americans.

Yes, Mr. Oliver’s show is about mobile homes. No, I don’t live in a mobile home. I live in a high end trailer that I have privilege in that I can move  it at any time, and that will likely always have good resale if I choose to go back to a sticks and bricks lifestyle. I have privilege in that I am not stuck living in one park. And I am super creative, smart and resourceful as to the multitude of options that I have. That said, I believe and injury to one is an injury to all. As the end to my sort of permanent stay in my RV park approaches and I feel a shift to the excitement of hitting the open road, adventure and travel across the continent, I also am aware that that original dream of living in a tiny house on some property is a dream shared by many that is under attack by the wealthiest in our country. All of the topics mentioned above have that in common. It seems that many of the wealthiest in our country are hung up on having more with no moral compass for when enough is enough. They want more money, and more power. Maybe it all fits under the umbrella of addiction? There is an addiction to money and power and possibly we are witnessing it in all aspects of life, even this Gypsy nomad RV travel adventure life as parking becomes less and less available.

The past owners of my park did not own the land. They owned the business. They had a forty year contract. We loved them. Their employees, who have worked here forever, made you feel like you were home when you drove in. These owners had to go back to bid to keep their business this year and went for a twenty year contract. Another large company beat them out. When this company held informational meetings for the current residents they said with a smile on their face, “Well you know, we are in the business of making money.” They do not believe RV’s and trailers should be allowed as full time residents, really because they know they can make money on forcing the industry to only provide opportunities for vacation travel, and no parking for long term residents.

The entire moral movement of the tiny house movement is to have a smaller footprint on our planet, to share the wealth, promoting the idea there is plenty to go around for all. What I’m seeing in my park is no different than what John Oliver talks about in his video post about the wealthy using the poor to make more money. The narrative of weather tiny houses should be built to solve the housing crisis, or house the addict or mentally ill, the discussions around how someone in an RV establishes permanent residence and whether or not they are able to get a permanent ID which allows them to vote, or whether they should be allowed to park in someone’s back yard, are not the questions that should be asked. Tiny houses, RV’s, trailer life is not just for the disenfranchised.  Anyone should be allowed to live in a way that supports everyone in the community having resources rather than a small few. The questions that should be asked are who benefits from all of the different rules and regulations, restrictions, permits, lack of allowing permits, lack of parking land? Why does anyone care if someone wants to live in a tiny house, and RV or anything else? Even though John talks about Mobile homes, I think what he uncovers applies to a broader stroke of types of homes including my Airstream.

Yes, I have the privilege to go anywhere, but an injury to one is an injury to all, and I refuse to allow folks to squash the rights of others trying to live simply, or silence the voice of anyone who wants to have a voice, or squish out anyone trying to have a more positive environmental impact on our planet. If they come for the mobile home parks, who is to say they won’t come for us next. Will they attack our right to park on BLM lands next?

I for one plan to stay educated, share what I know and if need be organize as all of these topics have touched my life and all can make a difference on the bigger picture of bringing the power back to the regular folks.

John Oliver’s You Tube video on Mobile Home Parks and Big Investors:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCC8fPQOaxU&list=PLa4DLBASQ-JdWJtn2Wkz-ubfD3Td5rLCT&index=96&t=15s