Love, Hate Relationship

I am currently experiencing a love, hate relationship with Northern California. Here’s the love and the hate in list form~

Love-

the great outdoors, nature, giant Redwood forests, green moss covered trees, bubbling brooks, the Eel River, cold weather (perfect for drinking hot tea and eating homemade chili), the “ancient look” of my surroundings, Richardson Grove State Park, the friendly people we encounter, the sunshine peeking through the trees, hills, mountains, fog that comes in from the coast, the quiet, Dutch Bros hot cocoa, the freedom our kids enjoy being outdoors so much, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something…

Hate-

the constant rain…not even kidding, it rains five out of seven days, the trees hinder the sunlight so it looks like it’s dark during the afternoon, it rarely dries out here because the trees keep the moisture trapped in, complete darkness at five in the afternoon, nature surrounds me 24/7, Dutch Bros hot cocoa is an hour and a half away, there are no decent grocery stores within an hour from here, have I mentioned the lack of sunshine yet, okay, I did…

Out of the four of us, I am definitely the only one with issues. Ha!

My husband and kids love to go hiking in the vast wilderness that Northern California holds. I however, have this incredible fear of wild animals being everywhere. The California State Rangers that we work with have assured me that black bears and mountain lions are extremely rare, especially during the fall and winter months. Nevertheless, I am sure the bears and mountain lions are all out to get us each time we venture out into the forest. (yep, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my mind)

It has been rather hard for me to acclimate to this new adventure as I deal with feeling eternally cold, wet, and fearful. But, isn’t that what adventure is all about? Dealing with being uncomfortable is part of this journey. However hard it may be to get used to very few hours of sunlight and constant rain, I know that the time spent in this gorgeous land will be remembered with fondness one day.

Yours Truly,

Marlie

 

My beloved atlas

Does anyone else share my love for maps? 

They don’t let you down like gps does. Three different times on our trip cross country, our gps took us to a vacant lot and said, “You have reached your destination.”

Nope. 

A vacant lot was not our destination, wrong again, gps.

We needed a gas station, a restaurant, and a Dodge dealership, and we found land with nothing on it. Boo!

I haven’t had my trusted Rand McNally atlas fail me yet. 

Sure, it takes more concentration than mindlessly listening to a voice tell you where to go, but I haven’t been led astray by my atlas.

There is something so rewarding about highlighting where we’ve been and looking at the next destination with anticipation.


Yep, I do use gps from time to time, but my atlas is always by my side. 

Yours Truly,

Marlie 

4,003 miles later…

Whew! Just knowing how many miles we traveled on the road makes me feel tired, but the trip was filled to the brim with lovely moments.
When I look back on our trips this far, I scarcely remember the exhaustion and fatigue. I usually recall the stunning landscapes and beautiful people we encountered. 

Often, my thoughts drift to what’s next for our family and I have to remind myself to be present. For the next few months, our lives will be relatively simple, if all goes as we anticipate. Our family needs some simplicity.

Life in Florida felt busy and frazzled. Mike’s school schedule was unpredictable and our lives revolved around that. Here, he will be able to work on school work on his own schedule which will create a more serene lifestyle for our family.

I look forward to days of normalcy and days of adventure to come. 

Yours Truly,

Marlie

When Exhaustion Sets In…

Road trips aren’t all fun and games. Sometimes the very thought of driving any longer makes me want to crawl out of my own skin. But, when we have to go across the country in a certain amount of time, we have to push through those times. The exhaustion of the many days of travel always hits Buttons first. I’m not sure why, but she is the first one to get a little out of sorts.

Then, it’s me. I admit it. The exhaustion of travel always hits me sooner than anyone else. I’m still not sure why. Maybe it’s the responsibility of keeping everyone happy and moving on with life while we’re on the road. It seems to be one of the things that I do best.

Day nine of our cross country road trip was the worst day for me. We were traveling from Arizona through Nevada and into California. When we got onto I-40 in California, I took over driving while Mike took a nap. Emma and Jensen were working on some math work while Buttons and Chocolate slept away. We were driving through the south east of California and believe me, there is nothing for hours. It is extremely dry and warm. We stopped at a rest area before I took over the wheel and were surprised to see “water” signs at the rest area. When we got out of the truck, we knew why. It was shocking how dry the climate was. We filled our water bottles and headed out. For the two hours that I drove West on I-40 there was nothing to look at. Jensen had a hard time with his math paper, “It’s boring and stupid”, and he didn’t want to do it. Ugh, kid, you’re so good at math. “I know it’s boring for you, but you have to practice the work on the paper not just doing it in your head.”

I even got a sun burn on my left arm from the intense sunlight beaming through the driver side window.

It was a rough couple of hours.

I wanted to pull over and take a nap, but I had to keep going. Eventually, I found the turn off on the exit towards Lancaster. I was relieved to get some food and hand over the wheel to Mike.

Those exhausting days are worth it since seeing new places is always invigorating. We have seen such beautiful sights on our trip, and Mike will fill you in on our self guided tour of Breaking Bad locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

More to come,

Marlie

We ❤️ Texas

Have I mentioned this yet? Our family adores Texas. The wild and open feeling of this state never gets old. Even though it is a beast of a drive to get through, we never get sick of the landscape. 

On Monday night, we stayed on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The campground on post was very nice. The spaces were eighty feet long and paved. Each lot had enough room for a decent sized yard. Buttons and Chocolate enjoyed running around in the pet area.

Emma and Jensen loved the playground and stayed outside until the sun set getting their fill of sliding and rock climbing.

Road trips are made easier for me when we can stop, put the slides out, and hook up completely to power, water, and sewer. Yes, boondocking certainly helps us get where we need to go, but I have to have a “night off” from the “travel” feeling. 

We’ve been on the road for six nights and only two of those nights were “full rv hookup” nights. 

Our drive through the Texas oil fields was quite the experience. We saw so many of the “gas flares” out in the fields and endured the terrible road conditions on 285. It did make me feel more comfortable with the idea of our plans to road trip to Alaska. “The roads can’t be worse than this!” I told Mike…he looked pretty pleased with my statement. (I’m the only one of the four of us that is hesitant about destination Alaska. Brrr)

The weather has been such that we have only used the generator one night for a/c which has been such a wonderful experience for us Floridians. This morning was crisp and clear in Roswell, NM. We are driving into Albuquerque today to see some Breaking Bad locations. My film student husband will be in heaven.

Yours Truly,

Marlie 

Travel Day 

We packed up the rig on Sunday morning and headed to Lafayette, Louisiana to see Mike’s cousins, Tim and Liz.

Sometimes, visits with family can feel so awkward and uncomfortable with everyone sitting around not knowing what to say. But this was not one of those visits. We had such a fun time laughing and cutting up. It was kinda sad to say goodbye.

That evening , we made it into “God’s Country” ie, Texas, and spent the night at a rest area. When Mike was stationed at Fort Hood, TX, we were told that Texas was “God’s Country” by the locals. That bit of information stuck with us. Texas will always be in our hearts. 

We are all thrilled to be back in this beautiful state for a couple of days. I can tell you that Tex-Mex is on our “must do” list. 

Yours Truly,

Marlie

Our visit to NOLA

Guys, I have to tell you, just between us, I didn’t know if I would like New Orleans. I can be a little bit of a stick in the mud, especially when my kids are around. BUT, I absolutely loved our visit to New Orleans.

We started our evening at the Riverwalk along the Mississippi River. The view was beautiful and the breeze was amazing! We got to see people everywhere, trolleys on the move, barges on the water, and lots of street performers. Mike and I have talked about going to New Orleans and getting a beignet at Cafe Du Monde for years, but we only drove through the city a couple of years ago. This morning while we were packing up to head on the road again, Mike said, “We should go to NOLA.”

Hmm…Yes! Let’s do it!

We found a RV park which is pretty much a glorified parking lot, but it was just off the interstate and close to downtown. We unhitched and took some time to rest then we got ready and went to the city.

The owner of the RV park gave us great directions into the French Quarter. One of the first encounters with a local was him yelling at us asking where the parade was going to start. Huh?

I yelled back out the truck window, “I didn’t even know there was a parade.”

He kinda smiled and acknowledged that we had no clue what we were doing. I wonder what gave him the hint…the giant Dodge dually in the downtown streets or the bewildered look on my face when I didn’t know there was a parade. Anyway, we found parking downtown, and as I already mentioned went right to the Riverwalk.

We made our way through the crowded streets to Cafe Du Monde. What is it about people in the city that makes the experience almost magical? Granted, we did not have any dealings with rude people; everyone seemed to be in a good mood. And DUH because they all knew that the Halloween parade was taking place!

I can’t be grumpy when a parade is around. That was my favorite thing at Disney World when I was a kid. Alice sitting on top of the towering mushroom (I was a kid, people, it seemed towering to me.) was my favorite part.

But I digress.

May I just talk about beignets for a sec? Gosh, they are good! The outside is similar to a funnel cake and the inside is almost the consistency of french bread. The powdered sugar on top is divine…and messy! I wondered why in the world I chose a black shirt for the occasion. It was a semi-bad choice.

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We did capture Emma and Jensen as they tried their first bites of beignets…YUM!

There you have it, folks, beignets are great!

After we finished our treats, we went back out to Decatur Street to watch the parade. It did not disappoint. We saw all kinds of people in costume from scary monsters to princesses. One of my favorite parts was the group of horse back riders dressed as skeletons. The horses even had some of their own costumes as they made their way down the parade route. There were quite a few marching bands and some pretty cool floats.

The best part of the parade was the people that we met. A woman and her husband had brought their grandson to see the parade for his birthday, and they were so kind. They were locals and gave us a history lesson on lots of various city related topics from Hurricane Katrina to statues in the square. They answered our questions and made us feel at home in this new-to-us city.

We walked back towards our truck when the parade was almost over. As we were weaving in and out of the crowds, I captured this picture of Jackson Square.

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Our evening was perfect; full of music, laughter, friends, and the four of us.

Thanks, NOLA!

Yours Truly,

Marlie