The grand adventure is now transitioning to a new lifestyle experiment. Prior to setting off on our cross country odyssey, we recognized that this trip could lead to a lifestyle transformation. Perhaps it was a result of our intentions, we have decided that becoming full-time RV dwellers seems to be the correct path, and with that, a radical change away from comfort and material, towards simple living and new experiences.
We could get used to this! – Miso and Kimchi
At the start of our adventure, we hadn’t planned on spending so much time in the desert, largely because we were unaware that there was so much of it in this country. As easterners, when we thought of the desert, the image of brown, scrubby and barren came to mind, a waste land. Never did we think that it was colorful, filled with life, delicate with ever changing landscapes and vistas around every bend. Nor did we know that it would attract us, and spark a desire to want to better understand its mysteries.
Death Valley National Park
The Garden of Eden comes to mind when exploring Yosemite National Park. In late April and early May, when we were there, the waterfalls, streams and rivers are at full flow. The rushing water sounds like thunder, and rainbows in the mist fill the air. The bright green meadows, newly budded deciduous trees and flowering Pacific Dogwoods in the valley create a lush and sumptuous scene. Animal life is active; birds of prey soar high above, deer and bears are seen drinking from the streams, while the smaller forest creatures scurry about comfortable with their human guests.
Left to Right: Upper Yosemite Falls from Big Meadow, Vernal Falls, Big Meadow
A secondary hope I had for this trip is that it would restore some of my faith in humanity. After living for nearly a decade in Baltimore City, where the worst of people is on display for all to see daily, I had gown cynical. I wanted to see people who were living creatively and full of life, not overwhelmed by programming and addictions.
I have found some of what I was looking for in the West. It started in Texas with its independent spirit and gumption. In New Mexico and Arizona I saw people living off the grid and in small make-shift communities consciously living outside of convention. Some of the residents in small desert communities made a big impression upon me. These desert people are not consumed by pursuit of fortune, prestige or ego inflation, but seem content to live simply and cheaply in a barren yet often beautiful landscape. Between the solitude, surroundings and simple living, they seem more connected with something and at peace. The central coast of California, so far, is where I have encountered people most full of life and living at a higher frequency. I couldn’t get out of southern California quick enough, a place where indulging in ego pursuits and selfishness seems extreme, but 100 miles up the coast from Santa Barbra to the north everything changes. The central coast has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and the people are out enjoying it. They are active, love to get out in nature and seem to fully appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. Smiles are frequent and civility is the norm.
New Mexico is fondly called the land of Enchantment. I am unsure what the true meaning behind this is, but for me it describes the ever changing landscapes and history rich in Native American lore. We drove from the southeast to the northwest of the state and hit several points in between. In New Mexico the landscapes seem to change dramatically every 30 miles or so. One minute you are in a dry flat desert and the next climbing up a snow capped mountain surrounded by Ponderosa Pine. We even found ourselves in areas where we were looking at 4 or 5 distinctly different landscapes at one time; desert, shear cliffs and buttes, canyons and Rocky Mountains.
Road between Taos and Colorado
Texas is, well… Texas. Coming from the east coast I have always had an idea of what Texas is and it did not disappoint, but it is also more than I expected. It has a fiercely independent spirit and does not take its freedoms for granted even if some of them are harmful. Gun shots are heard regularly and driving fast is government sanctioned. It is true; everything really is bigger in Texas, especially the trucks. However, supporting small and local business is a part of the culture. The country music has an edge and leaves the popular stuff for Nashville. Good Mexican food is everywhere and Sushi is hard to find.
6th Street in Austin:
Our first priority for this road trip was to escape the winter weather and find some warmer air to settle into. After almost a week of traveling south, we finally made it to the gulf coast and were blown away with the beach scape that we found here. The Gulf Shores National Seashore is incredibly beautiful, with miles of pristine white sand beaches and calm emerald green water. We had no idea the Pensacola area of Florida held such a gem!
Luckily, Christian had planned ahead and booked a few nights at the Fort Pickens campground, which is within the National Seashore, and we were not disappointed. In fact, we liked it so much, that we stayed an extra night to help us fully relax into our new life-style. There are five camping loops within the campground (A, B, C, D, & E) and we had the pleasure of spending time in both loop A and loop E.
Our first two evenings were spent in loop A, which seems to be the most popular within the campground. It’s separate from the other loops and has the added benefit of a lot of natural foliage around each campsite, which adds some privacy and good ambiance.