Sunday, August 31, 2014

When You Hear Hoofbeats Think.......Zebras!

August 29, 2014

Sitting on the patio with a couple cold ones last weekend, Bill says "I think we should drive up to Cayucos next week and take Tessa to the beach." Doesn't have to be more than a suggestion for me to be packed and ready to go!

On Wednesday we realized it would be Labor Day Weekend. Yuk. Neither of us are fans of holiday traffic, and even less enthusiastic about holiday crowds. But we were already in countdown mode, and waiting a WHOLE other week was not possible. The itch must be scratched!

It did mean that reservations were probably necessary though, and even more so with the need for a dog-friendly location. Won't it be wonderful when we have our dog-friendly accommodations with us all the time?!

The places right on the beach were full, as were all the other Tessa-welcoming motels in Cayucos. I found an option in San Simeon which had good ratings, although not a lot of real information. Rather than be without a room, I made the reservation at The Morgan on Hwy 1.  I was able to get a ground floor room with a king bed at a decent rate (especially for a last minute grab on a holiday weekend at the beach).

Bill took Friday off and we got on the road by 7:30 AM. There was some commuter traffic in Santa Barbara (one of those spots where there is commuter traffic at     10 PM on a Saturday night), but the rest of the trip was pleasant and vehicle-light. My music-master husband made a new playlist and it was perfect! Favorites from the 70's that we sang along with the whole drive. I can't remember 90% of what I was taught in college, but a song I haven't heard in 40 years comes on and I know nearly every word.....Maybe instead of lectures, we should learn everything in a song!

The farther north we drove, the more the drought became more noticeable. I don't ever remember the hills being so dry - the typical golden brown has been replaced by fried brown. Lake Cachuma is little more than a large pond - Bill says he has never seen it close to that low. Depressing and a bit scary. I don't know how the wildlife is surviving, and the fire risk is off the chart!

We arrived in Cayucos before noon. Light breeze, bright sun, 65 degrees, plenty of parking places - good start! We chose Cayucos for two reasons: off-leash beaches and no huge crowds. Nearly everyone on the beach had a dog - or three. We had no idea how Tessa would react to the ocean, but were hoping that at the very least she wouldn't be afraid of the crashing surf (I have "other dog" history with that).

As usual, we had nothing to worry about. While she was less than impressed with getting in the water, she was fine following Bill when the tide went out. She made a few runs in the sand, and then spent the rest of the time by our side. 


What is all this weird stuff?

Good dog

More active dogs running by peaked her interest, but she listened when told to stay with us, so we were able to keep her off leash the whole time. When it was time to leave, she knew which stairs to take and led us back to the Jeep. Dogs, like partners, are so much more fun when they're smart!

Figured we could check out the hotel and get a bite to eat in San Simeon. Found the hotel, but no place to eat lunch, so we just turned around and drove the 15 miles back to Cayucos. We knew we wanted fish/clam chowder that we could eat outside with Tessa, and that we could find both in the little town. Duckies had great chowder, good fish and clams, and sidewalk tables where the three of us could watch the small-but-steady stream of people. We walked the small main street, gassed up the Jeep, and headed north again toward San Simeon.

We wanted to check out the RV campgrounds in the area so stopped at San Simeon State Park. 

Replace all green with brown for a current view

They weren't allowing "drive-throughs" on the weekend (which I would really appreciate if I were camping there), but the young ranger provided us a map and a couple brochures, taking the time to point out each of the loops and their details. A small park, I was surprised that the back loop accommodates 40'+ rigs in the majority of spaces. All dry camping. Due to the drought, the showers and flush toilets were closed, and most water spigots turned off. It pays to read all the notices on the websites before heading out to camp in these extreme conditions!

As we neared San Simeon we remembered to pull over to the side of the highway where cars were parked, and a few people were at the top of a small rise taking pictures. There are many herds of cattle and horses along the central coast, not usually unique enough to warrant a photo-op.

Think zebras! Not just a couple of them, but an entire herd with babies! These zebras who graze beside cattle on this land surrounding Hearst Castle are what remains of what was once the Hearst Garden of Comparative Zoology. The herd was too far away to get good photos on my IPhone camera, but it was still fun to see these healthy animals roaming free with their families.

Far away - but still zebras!

After checking in to the hotel we went down to the local beach. Dogs had to be on the leash here, and the entire beach was covered in kelp. I didn't take my camera.

Like Cayucos, there were few others on the beach with us. We found a nice log to sit, and spent an hour or so just enjoying the perfect weather and the sound of the surf.

We also people-watched. A family of four each carried a bucket down to the water line. After much "preparation" they filmed each other doing the "ice-bucket" challenge. Fishermen passed behind us and headed toward the cliffs nearby. Thinking they were going to a little inlet, we were surprised to see them on top of the cliffs! They continued north, and were soon out of sight. We figured they must know the terrain very well as they would most likely be negotiating those cliffs in the dark with a couple buckets of fish! After watching the water crashing violently on the rocks, we watched (concerned, uncomfortable, horrified) a lone surfer attempting to catch a wave directly behind the rocks. Hunger and increasing cold winds overrode our morbid curiosity and we returned to the hotel. I'm sure he was fine :-).

El Chorlito was next to the hotel and had a lovely patio where Tessa was welcome to join us. While the food was just okay, the location and the service were both wonderful. Clouds came in and eliminated our sunset-watching plans so we returned to our room for the night.




Friday, August 22, 2014

The Joy of Lust

Heady stuff, that lust. While love fills the heart and warms the soul, lust is a powerful spark that inflames desire and consumes thoughts. Lust reminds us we are alive, gets our juices flowing, encourages us to "do things" we would otherwise never consider.

Wanderlust of course....... What? The lust that rises every time Bill walks in the room will never be the topic of a blog post - ever. You're welcome.

But wanderlust? Although it can be extremely personal, it is something recognized by all who share the affliction. 

That powerful spark

I have described myself as "obsessed" about our plans, almost as a defense against those who would so judge me. There are other things in life after all. There are other things in our lives, in my life! They are blessings, things we cherish and enjoy. Comfortable and familiar things. Not just material things, but life things. Things we love.

Why would we leave such things?



Most "experts" would say that lust is not sustainable. The flame eventually flickers and dies. For some, that lust transforms to love. For some, there is regret. Certainly the responsibilities of home and family and career can temper lust until it is just a memory. Sometimes it's a choice. Often it isn't. For most, lust is "just passing through".

I don't see (feel, experience, read about) wanderlust the same way. Not all who know it's power are born with it (I might have been). But once you "catch it" you don't grow out of it.

Not only is wanderlust sustainable, but it continues to exist as it develops love, regret, memories - even responsibilities. In the last decade, wanderlust has created it's own unique community. More and more people are taking their home, family and career with them, on the road, with no permanent address. It's not "the norm". It's daring and risky.

You don't do that for comfort. You don't do that for love. That is the stuff inspired by lust.

What is most telling for me when reading others' blogs is that regardless of the amount of time, the logging of miles, and the number of returns to an "area" - the wanderlust is still strong. Health issues, rig issues, route issues, weather issues - nothing is stronger than the desire and joy of what's still to be discovered! 

Over every hill, around every corner.....

Those few who have been dealt life-altering changes that leave no option of continued travels satisfy their wanderlust through the blogs and photos and videos of others, remaining "active" members of the community. That lust will not be denied!

At the "front end" many of us who are preparing for the life also participate in that community. I continue to enjoy my morning coffee traveling around the country, hiking, kayaking, seeing wonderful vistas and wildlife. I find support and encouragement from others who are ready but not quite able yet.

This is not something I'm seeking a cure for. And I'm no longer referring to it as "obsession".

I'm just caught up in the powerful joy of lust.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Motorhome Is Like a Wedding Dress

No, not because you have to purge first before "everything" will fit in it! Although......

While I'm confident there are many more styles and sizes and colors and lengths and every other configuration of wedding dresses (have you ever been to a designers' outlet?), there are still a LOT of different motorhomes to choose from as well.

Rows and rows

Rows and rows

Yet it is also not the sheer variety that is the similarity I'm thinking of here. It is the finding of perfection, and knowing when you do.

(sorry guys, we might be entering foreign territory for some of you)

If you've been wedding dress shopping, you undoubtedly heard "You'll know it when you find it." It seems very daunting and overwhelming at first. It's the most important "component" of the event, and you just have to get it right! Bridal magazines, bridal fairs, multiple websites in your Favorites, a huge Pinterest board - it's always on your mind.

Even though you know the exact amount you have budgeted, you still look at amazing options that are completely out of your price range. The shopping and research and trying-on is a lot of fun, but there is always that nagging at the back of your mind - "....gotta find the best one for me....!"

So you find the dress and the pressure is off. You know it's absolutely right. It fits you perfectly. It's the style you like, and works with everything else you have planned. You look at yourself in it and you just know. It is the one for you!

And then you keep looking and shopping and even trying-on! Because it's fun! You might find a feature or accessory that will make "the one" even more perfect!

Sound familiar?

On Sunday we went to our local Camping World to look at a 27' Thor Axis. Why? It has a walk-around king bed. Although about 5' shorter than what we've been looking at, I wanted to see how they managed the bed when the 35' Itasca we looked at earlier had a very tight queen bed. We were both very impressed with the layout! We started seeing ourselves making it work. Being in a smaller rig would give us more site options, it was much cheaper, and it had a lot of features we want. But we came to our senses - limited storage, small propane refrigerator, tiny living space up front, gas engine, smaller towing capacity. Not the right one for us. We know it.

We looked at a few others (a delightful salesperson makes all the difference, especially on a hot day), and had a great time doing it. We even checked out a large Class C with a sweet layout. Nope.

See, we've already found the right rig for us. We found it nearly a year ago. Knew it as soon as we stepped inside. It isn't parked out front because we won't have the funds until the house is sold. But the Tiffin Allegro 33aa is the right rig for us.

You'll know it when you see it
Just like the dress - fit, style, features - perfect for us.

And we keep looking and "trying-on" - for all the same reasons.

Finally, "putting on" that motorhome on launch day will be very much like putting on that wedding dress on the big day. All the research, budgeting, shopping, planning comes down to that moment.

Maybe we'll have the family toss rose petals at us as we drive away.......



Sunday, August 3, 2014

143 Days Until Christmas, and Then.......

There are usually two types of Christmas countdowns - the one that focuses on Santa Claus, and the one that focuses on VISA.

The Santa Claus is Coming countdown includes decorating the tree with meaningful ornaments, enjoying stockings and presents, singing well-known carols, preparing and sharing the holiday meal, and all the feel-good trappings of family gathering to enjoy traditions together.

The How Much Can I Put on the VISA countdown is more about getting started "buying stuff" early enough to spread out the costs and therefore avoid maxing out the credit cards at the last minute, anticipating what trendy gifts that are popular in the Fall will still be desirable in December, agonizing over the simple but impersonal easiness of gift cards, and attempting to avoid the pressure of matching home decor to a Pinterest Board.

I love Christmas and everything about it, and for about 40 years these have been my countdowns to the big day. Generally, the first one has been the driving force that kicks in the second one around the end of September each year. While the second countdown is not delightful, the two do compliment each other. They do work together.

Regardless of our changing "family structure" over the years, the boys and I have always celebrated Christmas in our house. With room for lots of family and friends. With a large tree. With lots of presents. With a big meal prepared in my big kitchen. With my collection of 75 Santas decorating the whole house. Bill and I have enjoyed all of this together with our six sons since 2008. 

This year will be the same - and completely different. This year there is a new countdown added to the other two. This year will be the last year that Christmas will look like all the Christmases before. 

This countdown continues ticking after Christmas Day.

It is very telling for me that as much as I adore all the traditions and sounds and smells and feelings of Christmas, I remain most excited about the new countdown.

I'm still looking forward to Christmas. I already have some gifts bought (that VISA countdown is more critical when aiming for debt-free by February). I've looked at flights from Seattle for Jeff. Jillian's stocking has been added to the other seven. I won't hate it when decorations show up in stores before Halloween.

Last year when I put away all the ornaments and lights and decorations, I did not include anything that wasn't used. Those things went in the yard sale pile, and meant two emptied storage containers. It felt like progress. It felt good.

There were still nine containers returned to the attic. Don't judge me :-). Some of the Santas are pretty big.

This year, when this last big Christmas is over, there will be one remaining container. Holidays will still happen every year, and our new home will look and feel like Christmas for a couple weeks. But in the foreseeable future our Christmases will be much smaller.

Like in all other areas of our life, only those things that pass the "most precious" test will make the final cut. Photos of all the Santas will be added to our growing album of memories. It will mean an empty attic. It will feel good.

Some of the more precious and breakable pieces may be added to the two "under a friend's bed" boxes that will stay behind. I'm hoping that family and friends will want some items, and that I'll get to see them enjoying a new life as part of someone else's traditions. My comfort with the purging isn't dependent on that happening, but would be a nice bonus.

When we first started discussing this lifestyle change I worried about all we would be "giving up" by not having the S&B. I thought that the "lasts" we would be passing through could be sad events. I anticipated we might dread these milestones.

I'm happy to say that the opposite is true. In addition to the joy of experiencing the event, I can now add the excitement of marking off another day, week, month from the countdown calendar! It adds happiness rather than causing sadness. There is no dread, only celebration.

So Santa Claus is Coming and the VISA will take some hits just like every other year. In January we will be just a few months from our launch, and Christmas countdowns will never look the same.