Badass Travelers

Many years ago, before working from the road was on my radar, I saw a picture from an airport that stuck with me. It was a picture of one of those overhead banners like you will see at a festival and it read, “No one in their right mind comes to Helsinki in the winter. Except you, you badass. Welcome!” For some reason it really stuck with me and I thought to myself, I want to be a badass traveler.

I think Kendra and I have accomplished that. We aren’t going into extreme environments, but we are moving freely around disconnected from “the grid”. Our last plug in was a month ago and the only reason we had it was to resolve an issue with the battery monitor system. We had a couple very stormy and cloudy days where we ran our generator exactly twenty five minutes, just long enough for Kendra to make a baked potato in the toaster oven. Other than that solar has covered all our work and cooking needs. On sunny days we generate far more power than we use. Eventually our black tank drives us back to society for a dump, but we have gone twelve days out and think we could make it fourteen if we played our cards right.

Heron Lake New Mexico

New Mexico has a reputation for being poor and rundown. We have certainly seen some of that, and you should avoid driving through the reservation land in an RV as the roads are in pretty bad shape. Even so, I have very much enjoyed the state. Heron Lake was just gorgeous with great hiking and the rangers and hosts were all very pleasant and seemed happy to be there. Also it was very cheap per night, which a Ranger pointed out when I mentioned we were headed toward Colorado to keep ahead of the summer heat.

We pulled in on Memorial Day weekend, and it was fairly crowded, but we got the best spot on the lake by luck of someone cancelling. By Tuesday it had cleared out and we had the entire campground to ourselves. I find it a bit crazy that no one but us used that amazing park for four nights. On Friday night just two other campers came in. This is my vote for most underutilized camp in the country. The lake water is lowering as it suffers years of drought, but there is far more here than just the lake.

It was over seven thousand feet up and we both felt that thinner oxygen a bit, but got in great workouts. Probably my favorite workout hikes I have done to date. We are definitely going to return another year.

Eleven Mile Lake Colorado

Insanely gorgeous is the best description I can give. At 8.7k feet we had views of snow covered mountains and hills that looked like the shire across the lake. The site itself had big stones, and our cat was in heaven. We couldn’t hardly get her to come in for meals.

On the downside, the services were raggedy as hell. The state invested in very nice signs that read “Road Damage”, and boy was there. We have gone into distributed camping that was in better condition. The showers didn’t always have hot water, and if you put in quarters for a cold shower that was tough luck, no refunds. All the rangers seemed lazy and like they didn’t want to be there. There was no actual hiking to be found, so my walks were mostly on roads. While it was some of the best views we have seen, it was an overall disappointment and I don’t think we will return. Additionally, my lungs got tired and I didn’t sleep well. I woke up feeling like I couldn’t breath. I am sure I would eventually adapt, but I didn’t in the week we stayed.

Next week we travel to Denver to visit with old friends. The forecast shows temperatures in the nineties, which is sad as we will be at a park with plugins and need to run our air. We’ve been spoiled by lovely weather and sleeping with the windows open.

May peace find you.

Flagstaff – Solar Work

This is our second visit to Flagstaff, and I find it to be an absolutely beautiful area. Windy nearly all the time, but beautiful. Probably not more windy than Chimacum ridge was, but they get very little rain here so you can get a lot of dust with the wind. Yesterday we had 20 to 30 mph gusts and at one point it looked like a scene from The Mummy as dust swirled around the vehicle and came plunging in through our screen door. No one died, but the cleaning we had done earlier in the day was more than undone. Both of us are suffering with some sinus issues from the dust.

Solar Issues

The main reason we came was to get our solar system up and running properly again. We had a breaker that was tripping between the panels and the batteries, so we could generate power but it wasn’t getting to us most of the time. Obviously we decided to camp without power the first few nights. While deciding to rough it with no working solar panels wasn’t our finest planning, Fort Tuthill was very pleasant. It has great hiking, a gorgeous 18 hole disc golf course, and a pine scent you cannot get from a bottle. I wanted to do more hiking and golfing yet when it was time to leave.

Boondockers Welcome

With the top solar repaired I ran updates on some of the devices I could connect to with Bluetooth. Did you know you shouldn’t update the battery monitor unless the batteries are fully charged? Well, I did not, so my monitor started saying I was fully charged, which was a flat out lie, leaving us a little clueless on a very important piece of information.

To fix it we need to fully charge the batteries and neither of us wanted to run the generator for several hours to accomplish this. Off we went to a friendly drive way with a plugin. This was in the mountains West of Flagstaff which is rural farmland mixed among national forest. Was a lovely area and I did some scouting back in the woods. I found an incredibly remote site that we may try on another visit, though it has a 10 yard section of seriously rocky terrain that will be scary to bring Torta across.

Cali is a desert cat for sure. Every time we get into arid areas she wakes us up by 3am wanting out, and rolls in the dust until she looks like Pigpen. She can literally make a cloud by shaking now.

Walnut Canyon

We still have parts coming to improve the solar, but we are doing well enough that we decide it is time. Thirteen days in the mountains East of Flagstaff. We scouted heavily the day before, brought our routers with us and finally found a spot with sun, a view, and a route that we felt we could get Torta into. We didn’t realize it came with dust storms, but for free camping it is glorious. Should get three of the four parts we are waiting on today and should be generating around 700 watts tomorrow. That is more than enough for me to work all day and us to cook with electric and never need a generator. It is exciting to be this independent.

May peace find you.

An amazing Hoh

As we do repairs and get ready to travel full time again, we are also taking the time to do some hiking. There are so many amazing hikes in Washington it would take a lifetime to do them all. Recently we did six hours of driving to see the Hoh Rain Forest. Since our house has wheels, we typically don’t drive that far for a hike. It is far easier to move the house and stay closer to the hike for a week or two. That didn’t fit into our timeline and I have been dying to check out a rain forest since we arrived.

The rain forest did not disappoint. One of our best friends thinks it is funny that I am so into moss, but moss is gorgeous. If I ever own a home again I won’t have grass, and will have moss everywhere. So many types of moss in the Hoh, and so many big trees! Rather than write your ears off, I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

May peace find you.

How do you work from the road?

By far and away the most common question I have been asked is how I work while living on the road. To be honest, it is the only question I have gotten, but I have been asked twice. Considering the tremendously limited popularity of my blog, any question at all is astonishing.

Connectivity

If you are reading this as a how-to article you will likely want to look into Starlink. This is a satellite service that Elon Musk is rolling out which is touted as fast, cheap, and coming soon. Being a Musk service the fast is probable, but the cheap and coming soon are neither likely. Historically, satellite broadband has been good for downloading, but the ping rates are far too slow to allow conferencing making it unviable for work. The Starlink service is touted as breaking this barrier and early reviews agree that it does. Time will tell.

In the meantime, the only broadband option that is versatile enough is cellular. If you just walk into a cellular store looking for a broadband account, they are going to price gouge you so hard you will think you’re passing a kidney stone. I recommend following Technomadia. This couple is on top of every deal from every cell service and will also have the newest information available about the Starlink product. We subscribed to their full feed about a year before going on the road and managed to get deals that don’t charge a pound of flesh.

The newest version of the RV WeBoost system. Ours is one version back with the major difference being antenna upgrades.

My connectivity equipment consists of a WeBoost, AT&T router with 100 gigs a month, Verizon jetpack with “unlimited” bandwidth, and two T-Mobile phones with “unlimited” bandwidth. There are quotes around the word unlimited as both companies will throttle you down to half the speed of smell if you use a lot of data. With Verizon, we can get approximately 100 gigs and both phones 50 gigs. This is more bandwidth than I require for work, but we also use it to stream entertainment many evenings. The WeBoost helps a lot if the signal strength is on the low side, giving you a bit better download and much better upload than you could get without it. That may not sound like much, but it has made the difference between being able to stay where we want, and having to move many times.

The office configurations

My very first efforts at work environment. A lot of thought went into it. An A for effort, but B- performance.

If you have a giant fifth wheel you might have room for an office with an office chair, but in a small RV you have the dining table or the cabin seats to use and that is all. I began our journey with my laptop as my primary monitor and an energy star rated 17″ side monitor as seen above. This was passable, but a lot less monitor than I was accustomed to, it dominates the dining area, and the comfort is less than ideal.

It’s bigger on the inside

My new office space. Lap desk, with wireless keyboard and mouse sitting in the passenger seat facing into the living area.

I like to keep up with all the newest tech gadgets because I am a big old nerd. I stumbled across a video review of a VR product called Immersed done by Cas and Chary. The last time I had tried VR it was fairly primitive, but that was likely in the ’90s. It was certainly not good enough that I would consider working in it. Add to that my aging eyesight, and I was fairly skeptical, but with the Oculus Quest priced so low, I felt it behooved me to give it a try. So glad I did. I now have four huge monitors in a virtual coffee shop where I spend my workdays. Are there downsides, you ask? Twice I have attempted to set my very real cup of coffee on a completely virtual table. Sorry, no video of that. In the video below, on your monitor, it may look small, but in VR these monitors are huge. I would estimate I set mine at around 36″, but the upper limit is far bigger.

Showing off three of the environments available to work in. Starts in my café of choice, heads over to a public area that no public was in, and ends up on a space station.

May peace find you.

Why we do the things we do

To be honest, our timing couldn’t have been worse. Five years of planning to downsize into an RV, approximately three months on the road, and then a world pandemic. WTF Mate? You have to make real sacrifices to live in a tiny nimble RV. No oven, no bathtub, no washer and dryer, no extra room you can go into and shut the door, and no damn space for anything extra like wet clothes and shoes. If you thought the pandemic was tough in your home, imagine shrinking down to a single small room with a curtain hiding the privy. After a year of sitting in one spot, because we are good citizens trying to do our part, we were feeling irritable and beginning to question our life choices. There are no upsides to living in an RV that goes nowhere.

Our home for most of a year.

Finally, we see our numbers are dropping, people are being vaccinated and we take the opportunity to spend a week at the beach. It rained half the time, our site flooded with 3″ of water, gale force winds for over thirty hours straight, and it was fucking glorious. We walked on the beach every day, even in the rain and wind. It reminded us that there are upsides to the RV lifestyle.

We initially landed at Ocean shores state park. It was supposed to have good broadband on all our carriers, but instead, it had full bars and no internet on all but AT&T which worked a little. I tested hoping I could work there, but it was not possible. This is only the second time we were forced to move because of internet issues. We spent the weekend there, enjoyed amazing Thai and pizza from the local restaurants, and scouted for a new spot. I wanted to put some pictures below because it was very pretty, but with the stress involved neither of us snapped a single shot.

I am calling it kismet that we had to move, because Pacific Beach was a half-hour drive north, much closer to the ocean, and the sound of the surf pounding the beach made for great sleeping. The sites were smaller and without trees, but the beach was huge and flat and glorious to walk on.

Was a little tricky starting it on the wet sand, but the steady winds made for a warm fire.

We are now settled back in near Chimacum to do some maintenance and get ready to hit the road again. Posts should come more often, and the world should be a better place for all of us. The pandemic isn’t over, but most of us are more prepared to deal with it. We will avoid the States with governors that have wet soil between their ears.

May peace find you.

The Pandemic Entry

All citizens of Earth will have this experience in common for the rest of their lives. There is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a little chaos, and a lot of hero’s doing everything they can to help. Sun-Tzu said that in the midst chaos there is also opportunity. It is my fond hope that we come out the other side of this a little more connected and kinder to each other.

How does this impact a couple on the road? That is exactly the question we had to ask ourselves two weeks ago. If we were a traditional family, returning home would be the obvious choice, but today our home is where we park it. We do have a vet, and doctors in Washington and considered returning, but we decided the most responsible thing we could do was to stay put and isolate.

As luck would have it, we found ourselves in a remote port town in California. Kendra talked to the owner and we are officially monthly tenants of the park which is within walking distance of a lovely beach. Our plan is to stay right where we are and social distance until the lock downs are over.

Our entire lifestyle is about existing in the world, not in our home. Our home is twenty-five feet from bumper to bumper and takes us to the amazing places we want to explore. A luxurious space it is not. If I were in a home I would be baking pastries, and would have many options for entertainment. Kendra has read six books in two weeks, I have read four. We are both sick of everything we can easily cook with our limited kitchen and our dog really doesn’t get why she cannot greet anyone.

I had hoped I would be able to play disc golf during this, and I have walked over twice, but the local course is crazy busy. Additionally, both times I came back with a tick. It is amazing that their is such a strong community around the sport, but they aren’t distancing properly. The second time I commented and was told that you can play and stay ten feet apart. That is true, but I looked at the group sitting next to each other on benches, petting the same dogs, doing fist bumps and elbow bumps, handing disc’s to each other and couldn’t comprehend how they felt that was distancing.

Stay safe out there people! May peace find you.

On the Road Again

Our two month stint in Washington was enjoyable and productive, but it felt nice to wheels up and point our nose south. I like a nice rain, but two months of cold rain wears out its welcome, even with me. We couldn’t have asked for better travel weather with sunlight falling on spring blossoms.

Into Portland

Friday I worked from a rest area so that we could land on the Sandy River just outside Portland for Friday night. We had a few errands we took care of, took a short hike and had breakfast at my favorite spot, The Fireside. We never get to spend as much time as we would like in Stumptown, and less than twenty-four hours left us looking forward to returning later in the year.

Boondockers Welcome

There are so many different ways to find a place to park for the night that I have lost track of the ones we are members of. One of the many is Boondockers Welcome and it payed off for Saturday night. Just a couple hour drive south of Portland we pulled off onto a super quiet plot a fellow traveler put up just to be friendly to other people on the road. It was a great place to spend a rainy Saturday night and we met someone we might caravan with at a later date.

Brookings or Bust

The pictures pretty much say it all. It is an amazing place to be and offers up two of my top three nature sounds. The gusty ocean breeze whistling through the spruce and cedar trees is tremendously relaxing and the beat of the waves with a cliff to echo off of is powerful and peaceful at the same time. If you like nature, Harris Beach State Park should be high on your wish list.

May peace find you.

Ferrys, Trains and Automobiles

Living on the road isn’t a living vacation. All the normal tasks everyone has, when not on vacation, fall upon us as well. So we decided to take a vacation last weekend. Oh what fun it was!

The Journey to and from

I’ve always had a fascination with trains, not Sheldon level, but still I am drawn to them. In my fifties you would think I would have managed to actually take a ride on one, but nay nay. Turned out a Ferry can drop you off a twenty minute train ride north of the city. I have no point of comparison, but I rather enjoyed it. Two stories with comfortable seating and tremendously civilized behavior. I hope to do something a bit longer than twenty minutes in the future.

Seattle

I don’t think I would want to live here, but boy was it fun to visit. I’d describe it as a cross between New York City and Portland. The amount of construction was mind boggling. They had at least eight new apartment buildings in the works. Not little five story places, massive sky scraper apartments. There was so much close to our hotel we averaged over five miles of walking a day and had two things remaining on our want to do list when we ran out of time.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Friday night we went to a local jazz club for dinner and a live performance from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy If you don’t know who that is click the link I put on the name for a recording of one of my favorites. I’ve listened to them for years and when Kendra saw them performing so close she made it happen. The sound I made when I found out would best be described as a squee. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a manly version of that sound.

Temple of Meditation for our Consumer Overlords

I had seen an image of the Amazon domes, but honestly didn’t even realize they were in Seattle. I’m not sure what Amazon does is good for the world, and I’m sure the way they treat some workers I disapprove of; but damn they can pay for a pretty building. They only allow us lowly serfs in a couple days a month, but it was amazing from the outside.

Pike Place

If you know me you know I am passionate about coffee. Starbucks isn’t my favorite, but it is a reliable location for a cup of joe, so if I am just passing through an area I often end up with an overly sweet cup of warm delicious drugs. Kendra said we must visit their very first store since we were right there. It was at least a twenty minute wait, but it was also the best peppermint mocha I have ever had.

REI Mothership

We had both been wanting new shoes for months, but put it off to check out the first REI store. The store blew my mind. The entrance was a little slice of nature with areas to try out gear. Waterfalls, biking path and a feel like you were entering a mountain resort. If you need any outdoor gear and are in Seattle I would highly recommend visiting.

Pacific Science Center

She blinded me with science. I’ve been to a few different science centers and always enjoyed them, but Seattle’s is especially good. I wanted to bring that big globe home with me.

May peace find you.

Forty Days and Forty Nights


As you may have gathered from the title, it rains in Washington during the winter. Since most of the people who may read this warned me over and over about rain in the area this is surely not a surprise. I am not currently building an arc, and I am not certain it has rained every day, but I cannot recall a day without some rain, which can get tedious even for a pluviophile.

We pulled into the Port Townsend area on January first and have fallen a little in love with it. Winter weather is mostly mild, if wet and windy, and the area satisfies both our cravings for culture and natural beauty. We did have three days that dropped below freezing at night and one snow storm. That is just about the perfect amount of winter for me. Some pristine white snow to walk in and then it melted the next day. I did end up shoveling out the clubhouse as I figure I am the youngest person currently staying here.

So what does the area offer? Within walking distance is a nine hole disc golf course that gave me the opportunity to try out my disc set. About a fifteen minute drive away is an eighteen hole course that looks like it would be a destination for a PGA tournament if it had holes instead of baskets. There are three very close health food stores with a ton of local produce. There is a tiny hole in the wall bakery with insanely good pastries and great bread. Kendra has found several places to take exercise classes and has loved every instructor. There are so many good places to eat it will take years to try them all. There is a wide selection of local music available nearly any night of the week. Last Friday we went to a local cidery that had wood fired pizza, live music and eight different ciders on tap. Interestingly the wind was gusting well over 30 mph and we lost power. They did an acoustic set in the dark and we finished our food and drink while listening to the performers attempt to compete with the sound of the wind. Was very enjoyable.

Oh, and there is an adorable theater. The Rose theater has three locations you can watch movies from. The first we attended was the Starlight room. You go to the top floor of the building, it has two walls of windows with a nice view of the ocean, comfy couches with tables for food and drinks. Restaurant quality food and alcohol at restaurant prices instead of the crazy theater markup. About ten minutes before the movie they pull blackout curtains, the chandelier lighting comes up and a person walks out and tells you a little about the movie you are going to watch and why it was chosen to show. It is just a delightful experience. On a side note, Knives Out is well worth seeing.

My next post should include my thoughts on Seattle and the local Ferry system. May peace find you.

Into the breath of the ocean

I have visited the Pacific Northwest many times in the last few decades, and explored as extensively as my aging legs possibly could. However; most of my time was spent in Oregon, barely venturing into Washington. I anticipated it being very much the same as Oregon, and in many ways it is. Washington is gorgeous, it has mountains and ocean and big trees, but the mountains aren’t quiet as tall, the trees aren’t quiet as big, and the ocean extends deeply into the land mass. It is this last trait that I never considered and has surprised me existentially.

My past experiences of being surrounded by the ocean have been in Florida and the Bahama’s. Being surrounded by ocean this far north is a very different experience. The air contains ocean moisture and controls the temperatures allowing little variance. Our days so far have all been a high of 48 F and a low of 42 F. It is cool, but at the same time comforting and amazing. We are parked right next to the water. If I didn’t know it was ocean I would think it was a slow river or lake, but it is salt water, it has significant tides, and it is so crystal clear you can see right through to the bottom like looking through glass. How did I not already know about such pristine waters?

When I was young I was a distance runner. I was never very good, but I did enjoy it and the very best running experiences were those rare Ohio days when it would mist. Maybe one or two of those would happen a year, and I would always make my best effort to get out and experience the phenomena. I don’t mind getting wet and something about being in the mist is exhilarating.

I don’t yet understand the science of it but, the location of the Olympic mountains and Pacific ocean and prevailing winds causes this part of the world to have tiny little raindrops just like those Ohio mists for nearly every storm. It has been raining all morning and the drops are so tiny I can barely make out the sound of them striking our roof. Shanti and I coated up and spent the better part of an hour walking along the shore enjoying the tranquility. I don’t imagine many people would enjoy this, but I found it incredibly soothing.

I was nervous planning ahead to spend the first two months of the new decade in Washington state. It is, after all, further north than Ohio where those months are absolutely miserable and depressing. Now that I am here I find myself excited to have new environments to explore. I haven’t gotten to do much hiking yet, but I anticipate my next entry will have pictures from at least one hike.

I hope that you have a wonderful new year and the next decade treats the people of Earth better than the last.

May peace find you.