Monday, December 29, 2014


Boondocking is a term used by RV'ers for camping without any hook-ups.  That's the simple explanation.  More commonly it's used to mean camping "off the grid", or camping in "non-camping locations, or spots".  This can be anywhere from places like on the beach or the desert to WalMart parking lots.

When you are a small RV like a Class B (like a Roadtrek) or a small Class C, you can easily pull off onto dirt or sandy roads and find lots of cozy spots with privacy without to much notice or fear.  With a larger RV, that's a bit harder.  First of all, you don't want to take the chance of getting stuck - either in the dirt and sand or the fact that you might not be able to turn around to get back out again!  You also stand out a whole lot more, and therefore are a bit more noticeable to authorities or neighbors who don't much want you parking there.  Running a generator on a bigger Class A makes more noise than one on a smaller RV too.  All good reasons for us "bigger kids" to stay away from the "no camping zones" when we can.

For those reasons, and for general "safety" reasons, we don't usually boondock.  We have though, a very few times, mostly in desperation, over the three years we've been camping. Traveling through Texas usually presents those "opportunities".  You see, there are very large, open spans where there just are no campgrounds! "open spaces" in any.  The very few that are there, are filled with oil workers...if you even want to call them "campgrounds".  They are pretty much just large gravel parking lots with hook-ups, for the most part.  You can go miles and miles without seeing very much except for some tumble weeds and dust in between oil rigs and tiny towns with just the bare-bones basics. 

The one thing Texas does have though, is great "Safety Rest Areas".  They are big, clean, and well maintained.  They mark them on their maps for you as well.  You can park over-night there, no hassles, no problems.  Vending machines, security cameras or during peak season, security officers on duty.  They even have storm shelters.  Did I say they were nice?  ;-)

This trip through Texas we ended up staying at two of them...on the way into Dallas from New Mexico to visit my son and his family for Christmas and on the way out of Dallas towards Florida.  When we pulled into the first one, it was about 4 days before Christmas and about 5:00 p.m.  We don't put any of our slides out, we just tuck ourselves in and get cozy.  There were just a few other "18-Wheelers" in the lot with us at that time.  The night ended with a gorgeous sunset, and we called it a night.

That morning we looked out to see what other "company" had joined us in the middle of the night (I had seen out my side window that someone had pulled up next to us) and was surprised to see the lot almost full!  There must have been at least 30+ of those big guys there!  Many had already left, so we were sure it had been full over the course of the night.  I think we were the only RV though, all were the big 18-Wheelers.

At our second Safety Rest Area, two days after Christmas, the "make-up" was different.  This time, it was pretty much a 50/50 mix of RV'ers and the 18-Wheelers.  The lot wasn't as full either.  Being a Friday, with two days left before people had to get back to work, might of made a difference, I don't know.  I do know that the traffic picked up more and more as the days into the weekend passed.

I know that a number of people like to boondock to save money, and do so whenever they can, most often at WalMart's parking lots, but, I have to say, I still prefer a nice camp- ground.  I'm not out here traveling "to save money", I'm here to enjoy the scenery, and there isn't much scenery in a parking lot - any parking lot, no matter how nice it is.  I'm grateful that Texas has those rest stops, because there isn't much else for us, but given the choice, give me a pretty campsite any day!

...On the road heading to Florida,   Marie

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I practically grew up in San Diego.  I was a Navy brat, so spent two years here, then two years there and two years somewhere else again until I was ten, but in and out of San Diego and back again permanently at thirteen until three years, I've seen a lot of changes over the years.  I've seen San Diego grow up you could say.  Jack first moved here in 1970.

And "grow up" it has!  When I first moved here, almost sixty-five years ago, it was practically a "small town".  You could get from one end to the other in less than fifteen minutes!  We used to take Sunday Drives out to the north county for the day.  ;-)   Now, all my children have moved away to other parts of the country.  I still have some family and a lot friends here, so we still come back once or twice a year to visit.  One of the things we like to do tho, is to drive around and see all the changes the city has undergone while we've been gone...because it continues to grow, and change.

We had such a chance the other day.  We started off by going downtown to look for the new library that we heard had finally been built.  Now, if you've ever lived here, or are now, you know how long that's been coming.  It's been talked about and been voted on for decades!  Certainly something this city has needed for many, many years.  It took us awhile to find it, but it sure was worth the hunt.  What a beauty!  I think it's actually in a good location too.  Right at a trolley and bus stop, has parking (pay), out of the way of the Gaslamp District, near condos and apartments, etc.  San Diego can be proud.

We did have to shake our head tho at the continued building of more housing, knowing how bad the drought is.  Where do they think they are going to get the much needed water for all these people?  Jobs building these now, but how will these people get water later?  Short sighted planning, I'm afraid...

From there we mossied toward the Embarcadero and admired the progress of the enlargement of the airport.  We also noticed all the new signs and how they "dropped" the name Lindbergh, and are just using "San Diego International Airport" now...poor Charles.  They even painted over his picture and did a new mural!  Guess he just didn't make the cut.  While there, we drove on around to Spanish Landing to see the progress of the building of the replica of the San Salvidor.  What a lovely surprise, as she's almost complete!  They should be launching her in about a month.  What a great sight that should be for San Diego.  We wish we could be here for that.  It's been fun to follow the building of her over the years.  The Bandy Blacksmith Guild has been forging all the ironwork for it, which Jack is a member of that Guild, so we feel proud if only by association.

Leaving there, it was time for lunch, so naturally we had to stop at a favorite stop...El Indo!  Thank goodness some things never change!!  YUM!  Chips to take with (of course!)  and off to Pacific Beach...

When Jack first moved to San Diego, he lived in Pacific Beach, just a few blocks from the beach.  I also didn't live very far from there for many years, only "fifteen minutes", and was there often.  It was "my beach" hangout.  So it's the one we go to, when we are in town.  (there are beaches all along the coast in San Diego that people think of:  Pacific, Ocean, & La Jolla).  Now, PB (as it's called) is always changing.  There are some places that change constantly, and always have - same building, but new name.  It's like a game "what will it's name be this year?"  Then there are the ones you know will always be there, like the Denny's that's been there for sixty years, etc.  But the "old ones" are getting old and it's the beach after all, and the sea takes it toll, so buildings need repair, and times change, etc.  So, one never really knows...such was our discovery.

As we drove down our favorite streets and remarked on the various buildings, we had very little surprises.  We loved that we actually found a parking spot right at the beach (that's rare).  We have a favorite restaurant, one that has been Jack's since the very beginning.  It's a simple, clean, nothing fancy place, called The Green Flash.  It always had a line, breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It catered to the quiet crowd, beach people who just wanted good food with a good view, as it is right on the beach.  There are plenty other places catering to the 20s-30s drinking crowd.  We loved it.  So as we walked the beach, I asked, "do you think it's still there?"  Just as Jack was saying "of course, The Green Flash will always be the...OMG what have they DONE TO MY RESTAURANT?"  ...we had turned the corner and saw the change...ugh.  It was no longer The Green Flash...but the garish Baja Beach Cafe...filled with the 20s-30s sipping their huge Margaritas...and enjoying the changes....

...but that's ok, life is still good!

...kicking back in San Diego CA,  Marie

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thanksgivng Blessings...

We usually spend the month of November in Washington.  Both our toad and our rig are licensed there, and most of my family lives there.  So, once a year, we, and our vehicles all go there for "annual check-ups" and visits.  Now, November isn't the warmest of times, but, alas, that was when "everything" fell into place three years ago!

Three years ago, last December, we sold our house in record time (two weeks!), found the "perfect" RV (clear across the US) and loaded up what we didn't sell into a tiny storage unit and headed north.  Washington seemed like the perfect "home base" since we knew we would be on the road full time, and my sister was willing to be our mail person.  So, we drove up there, registered ourselves, got doctors, new licenses, etc. and celebrated!  Now, once a year, we brave the rain & cold and visit family and get rewarded with a wonderful Thanksgiving Feast for our efforts!

We started out thinking our adventure would be just for one year.  Jack was new to "camping".  Born and raised a "city boy", his idea of "camping" was "no room service" at a hotel.  I, on the other hand, love it.  This whole thing had been my idea all along, he was just "coming along for the ride...or the drive, actually, since he does the driving.  Now, this being our third full year, with no end in sight, he's the one who is still really loving it!  Probably even more than I, if truth be told!

Every year has been very different from the one before...just like life itself.  We are blessed with good health and this year I was reminded how much that matters as for the last four months I've suffered with limited use of my right arm due to some bone spurs in my shoulder.  I was thrilled that the doctor in Tacoma was able to tell me what all the pain was about and that a simple out-patient surgery will fix the problem once and for all.  I will have to come back in a few months to have it done, but that's minor, and we can go on with our journey from there, no further problems.

I also feel blessed that I have a family that allows us to travel the way we do and understands and loves us.  We don't get to see them as often as we would like.  Our children and grandchildren are spread all across the US and it's tough getting around to all of them very often and still see all the nooks and crannies of the various states, but we try as best we can, but of course, its never enough, and we miss them more than we like.

We are also blessed by the people we meet along the way.  Some are just in passing, but some we've managed to stay friends with, and that's extra special.  People like us who really get this crazy life-style of ours, who love this wonder lust.  This year, several of our friends who haven't been able to RV in a long time due to family issues, now can, are now planning on trips to either join up with us, or travel along with us.  We've always traveled alone, so we are looking forward to doing some "companion traveling" in 2015!

Doing what you love, being loved, and being healthy and happy...that's truly a blessing, ones I wish for everyone!

On the road again,  Marie