Unpacking the Whale

Our lives as wanderers means that with each stop, we have to pack up and strap down our home, and make home afresh at each new campsite.  Sounds tedious, eh? But as you can see, from setting up the kitchen to pouring in drain cleaner and fluffing pillows, it takes no time at all…

 

In the belly of the Whale: Mid-meal Messy Mayhem

So, in my last post on my kitchen, I showed what it looked like closed up and ready for driving, and what it looked like open and ready for some action.  What I didn't show was what it looked like while I was actually cooking…

As you can see, it's a tiny space indeed! But with some acrobatics and a balancing act on whatever tiny ledges are available, we make it work. The good news is that in cleaning my whole kitchen, I don't need to take a single step.

Boondocking 101: On Water

Dry-camping in Colorado. Well worth learning how to conserve water.

Mastering (i.e. attempting) boondocking* (i.e. dry-camping) is a new skill that has taken over our lives in the first months of this year. Appropriate somehow, since we started our journey in the Western deserts and water conservation is a big theme in these lands.

Filling up with our 39 gallons at Joshua Tree

Living in a trailer, we’re living in an odd half-state between “normal” home conveniences and tent camping – all depending on 3 magic lines – electric, water, and sewage. When connected to all 3 lines as a “full hook-up” we get to live like we are in a normal (albeit tiny) home with high pressure running water, tv, lights and air-conditioning, and could go about taking long showers and sudsing up a ton of dishes without a care in the world. Pretty excellent, considering our backyards are some pretty spectacular places. 

Continue reading “Boondocking 101: On Water”

Half way there! 25 National Parks, 25,000 Miles and Counting….


Summer’s in full swing here in South Dakota, and we’ve hit 25 National Parks out of 50, and put 25,000+ miles on the road with The Dude.  With the Whale in tow, we’ve hit 10,000 miles since January and have managed to drive about 3/4 of the way around the United States.

It’s hard to believe that in 6 months we’ve managed to drive down the Californian coast to the Texan-Mexico borderlands and swing up along the wildflower-ridden Appalachians.  Then it was down down down the length of Florida to the Southernmost tip of the US in Key West, and the up up up along the East Coast to the icy lobster-rich waters of Bar Harbor, Maine.  From that easternmost point, we darted westward, exploring the Boundary Waters of the North Woods of Minnesota, and then across the Great Plains to the Badlands.

It’s been a dizzying, amazing ride so far.  And now, there’s only 25 National Parks to go…

 

Guadalupe and Carlsbad Caverns: It’s what’s inside that counts

Natural entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns is a national park many have heard of, as it’s famed for beautiful limestone cave formations and the underground fantasy world they create. Guadalupe? I never heard of it. It’s claim to fame is hosting the highest mountain in … Texas. And while it is striking to see any peaks in the barren desert and mild slopes in this corner of Texas, I wasn’t sure it justified us spending a week of dry-camping in a parking lot. (Indeed, the campsite for RVs is a parking lot, and the heat brought out all the loudest generators in Texas.) While I don’t have a favorite park, it’s a running joke between S and I that I have a least favorite.

Guadalupe National Park aka Tip of the Permian Reef

Carlsbad Caverns on the other hand…  Cave exploration there requires reservations for ranger guided tours, which fill up fast (hint: reserve very early), so we had just one day to explore underground.  Much to our dismay, for time seems immaterial in that underground realm, and the hours slipped away too fast. The world below was almost unreal in its spectacular beauty of pale delicate speleothems, moist rooms crammed with spindly stalactites and fragile draperies. Continue reading “Guadalupe and Carlsbad Caverns: It’s what’s inside that counts”

Boondocking, and the Beauty of Living Off the Grid

In this year of living without in the National Parks, one goal was to learn how to boondock  (aka dry camp) and live off the grid in the Whale.  Our trials and tribulations with bad RV batteries and dodgy dish-washing techniques I’ll share later, but the reward of conservation and minimizing your resource usage is oh-so-amazing.  Because this, my friends, is what dry camping can be like.

Big Bend, Chiso Basin in the background

There’s nothing quite as amazing as waking up to this view, and feeling a little naughty (and a little guilty) that, for the time being at least, this vast awesomeness is your backyard.

When S and I were envisioning a place of peace to help us detox after years in China’s crowds and pollution, and a land of beauty to reinvigorate our souls, I believe this kind of magical stillness was exactly what I was dreaming of.