Hello, fren. It's been a while. And by while we mean well over a year. A YEAR. "What the heck?! I thought we were cool. Why'd you disappear on us like that?!"
All valid questions. We decided to take some time and make some important decisions regarding the future of our travel. In truth, the road beat us up a little bit. We were exhausted. We were frustrated. We needed to figure out what we wanted without constantly being on the go.
So, with that said....
We sold Maude.
Now, before you start throwing up your hands and shouting, hear us out. Maude went to a very loving owner and is being well cared for by her new travel mom. We settled down in Austin, Texas for the year in order to map out our next steps for getting back on the road. Because that's ultimately what we've always planned on doing, getting back on the road but on our own terms, new terms that had since changed since initially starting this journey four years ago.
With that said, we've decided to tackle two separate projects, a van conversion and a bus conversion, in order to have two different spaces on the road but still retain the ability to travel together.
Vanessa is going to be converting a 2006 Ford E450 shuttle bus into a house on wheels and I am converting a 2008 Dodge Sprinter Van. Two separate spaces that each represent our own individual style, but also two shared spaces. Vanessa's rig is going to house the bathroom and big sitting spaces (and the cats...more on that later) and my van is going to house the bed and the kitchen.
We cannot wait to share with your these photos, these experiences, and these builds. Living in a van has been something that I have been gearing up for for a while now and it's going to be one heck of an adventure. We'll be sharing our processes for each of our builds, as well as our supplies used, and then once we get back on the road, sharing our travels again as well. It'll be an entirely new experience, but we can't wait for you to tag along with us.
Until next time...
A few weeks ago, we sat down to a Skype call with Laura Hughes, the host of the She-Explores podcast "Women On the Road". The podcast essentially covers a variety of topics every other week involving women living in the road whether in a camper, RV, travel trailer, van or other form of mobile abode. Not only was it an absolute honor to be included in their latest podcast about relationships, but it was also a blast.
We've been on the road for two years now, living an unconventional life in our small RV Maude. We document a majority of our journey through social media or our blog, however there are many aspects to our life that go unseen. In truth, we put a lot of time and attention into our relationship, working at it every single day. Living in 171-square-feet invites a whole slew of new challenges into the mix, that normally aren't there for other couples. While the stakes can sometimes be quite high for us, it just adds to the resolve we have to make it work. Life together living in an RV full-time has its difficulties, and it is not always as glamorous as other social media accounts make it seem. However, as you'll hear in the podcast, there are many different ways to assess those difficulties and journey forward through it all together.
Feel free to listen to the podcast here, and share with us any thoughts you may have. We love hearing about other full-timers and how they manage to make their relationship work under such unique circumstances.
It's been a while since we wrote and for that, we are sorry. We completely became immersed in our recent travels throughout the California coast and have some truly stunning photography to show for it. We also have some stories to share, vegan food to obsess over, and updates to our small RV Maude that we will start sharing over the next few weeks.
Thanks to our friends over at The Modern Caravan, we were officially introduced to the Mendocino area, which (sigh) we fell in love. But, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves at this point. Let's talk about a few California RV travel destination highlights in the past month and a half...
Lee Vining, California
We met up with our friends near Yosemite National Park. We had never been throughout our travels and decided that Yosemite was something we really wanted to do. While driving through was absolutely stunning, we weren't too fond of the park itself. It was way too crowded, people were way too unkind (we're in a huge vehicle and we go the speed limit, please be kind) and not following park rules at all. We're not some brown-nosing trailheads who have to follow every park rule in order to have fun, but watching families along the riverbanks taunt and tease ducks and throw rocks and splash water at them, was not something we enjoyed. I won't get too far into the experience because I'll just get worked up, but the overall consensus: Yosemite = meeehhh but Lee Vining = YASSSS.
Lee Vining is this little town outside Yosemite with a quaint grocery offering alcohol, vegan options, firewood and basically everything we needed to live there for a week. But the best part about Lee Vining was not the grocery, or the gas stations, or the convenience of coffee shops but instead the BLM land which was free and oh-so-glorious. We had an expanse of desert at our doorstep, with mountains in the distance and Mono Lake right within eye shot. The sunsets were glorious and we could hear coyotes at night herding their pack. There was silence and solitude and scenery for days. Not to mention a $10 dump site up the road and FREE mountain spring water about 6 miles away. Here are a few photos.
Dana Point Beach, California
After leaving the desert, we ended up going to San Juan Capistrano still caravanning with our friends along the way. From the desert to the beach in just a few hours, and we were in heaven. Not only is the Dana Point State Beach a true gem, but you can park your rig right on the water's edge ALL DAY for $15. This means that from 6am-10pm, you can park your trailer, RV, van, Westie right on the beach. We did this for about a week straight and had an absolute blast. Not to mention, Marisa finally learned how to surf! For less than $25, she rented a board and a wetsuit and took to the water, and with the help of Ellen from The Modern Caravan, they taught each other how to surf. It was a life bucket list completed. Dana Point Beach will forever have our hearts for days filled with setting suns, swimming, surfing, and sunshine.
Mendocino.....where to begin? Mendocino really took our breaths away, in more ways than one. Not only is the true beauty of the area such a stunning landscape, but it was the simplicity of it all that really stuck with us. We didn't have the best experience in Fort Bragg to say the least, so Mendocino was the warm welcome we needed to revive our spirits. We happened to pull into town during the exact two hours on a Friday in which they were having their Farmer's Market, which was perfect. We stocked up on fruits and veggies and hung out with some locals. The free boondocking was in abundance, not to mention the fact that we could pull our rig into the beach recreation area during the day and hang. The water was a bit chilly for us so no surfing or swimming happened, but we did some hiking, visited Harvest Market for some vegan goodies and had a memorable, mouthwateringly good meal at Stanford Inn. We won't go into too much detail about the vegan food we ate throughout the trip because that will be a whole other post, but for real.... get ready.
If you're ever in the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area we also highly recommend Glass Beach. Being down in the sea glass and seeing all that beauty in one place was an experience in its own.
Anderson Valley, California
After leaving Mendocino (regretfully), we ended up passing through Anderson Valley unexpectedly and found wineries up the wazoo. It was really fun to stop by a handful of places, enjoy the rows upon rows of vineyards being harvested, and sip on some delicious wines. Our favorite winery to visit by far was Husch Vineyards. If ever you're passing through Anderson Valley you have to stop by for a tasting. They offer 6 complimentary tastes of their wide-ranging selection, and they all came with a story. One important tip for this particular winery is to ask for Margaret. Not only will you have yourself a blast with her wit and humor, but she sure does know her stuff.
We're currently headed south at the moment, picking up a few hidden gem spots to accommodate our small RV. In truth, the next month is filled with a lot of question marks as we wander around enjoying the potential of what autumn will bring. Stay tuned for our next post on all things vegan food, where we talk about The Butcher's Son in Berkley, Stanford Inn in Mendocino and probably the best vegan sushi spot we have ever encountered in our lives in San Francisco.
We didn't think it would be possible to get a regular house mattress into our small RV and level up the sleeping situation. Yet, we had to try. After a bout of some restless nights and terrible tossing and turning, we knew we needed something different. The RV mattress which came with Maude was a thin, very light piece of wood and maybe (?) some springs, which we layered with both a 3 inch-thick foam mattress pad and a very fluffy topper. But still, we were able to sink into the layers and find the hardness of the mattress below each and every night.
We needed something different. We needed a change. Our poor bones weren't getting enough rest and when you're on the road you totally understand and appreciate what a good night's sleep does for you. So we decided to take the plunge and replace the RV mattress. The RV mattress was connected to a few pieces of metal, which were seemingly attached to a hydraulic-type-mechanism. With just a few bolts to unhinge, we got it out with a celebratory sigh.
The problem though, is that when we tossed the mattress, we left a gaping hole in where there would be support for our bunk. There was no longer any pieces of wood to keep us upright in the bunk, and for that, we had to devise a plan. Turns out, just a few pine boards from Home Depot combined with some screws and metal supports to connect it all allowed for a makeshift bed frame to be created. Not only is it sturdy (we screwed it into the sides of the RV bunk base) but it provides a really nice structure for our new mattress.
That's right, we said it-- new mattress. A Tuft & Needle mattress at that. Never did we think that we could rip out the RV mattress and replace it with a full-size, house-intended mattress, but guess what? We did. And the results were freaking fantastic.
We have officially slept on our Tuft & Needle mattress for over a month now and we have a few exciting things to report:
One of the coolest aspects about our Tuft & Needle mattress was that it came in a box, perfectly packaged. We had heard about mattresses arriving in boxes from other fellow-travelers or through podcast commercials, and really admired how simple receiving a mattress could be. It wasn't until we received our Tuft & Needle mattress in this compact box that we really were impressed.
We can't say enough good things about Tuft & Needle. Not only has it added a huge layer of comfort to our small RV, but it also provides us with consistent sleep night-after-night no matter where we pull off to doze. We are actually excited to climb into bed and rest.
For those who are interested in checking out a Tuft & Needle mattress, you can try it out for 100 nights to see if it is a good fit. Plus, any mattress that is returned after the 100-night sleep trial is then donated to local charities and non-profits across the county. HOW COOL IS THAT?! Tuft & Needle offers one fair price always which means that there are no sales pitches or gimmicks attached. Transparency at its finest.
Please note: We were not financially compensated for this post. We received a mattress for review purposes. However, the opinions are completely our own based on our personal experiences with the product. We only choose to review products and brands that we love.
People go on road trips for lots of different reasons. Thrill seekers go to find the highest cliffs. Nature lovers go to find new camping spots and hidden natural secrets. Anthropology hobbyists go to discover the cultural heritage of America. And foodies…we go for the food. From coast to coast, this country is packed with diverse cuisine.
When it comes to vegan foodies, we’re in luck. Some of the best vegan restaurants in the world are right here in the US of A. Whether you own an RV or rent one from a site like RVshare, finding a renowned vegan restaurant is just another part of the adventure. So, if you’re planning a road trip soon and you love to eat clean, why not make a point to stop at some (or all) of these famous vegan eateries?
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