A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Meike Carter

The bay area

View Winter Journey on Meike Carter's travel map.

20190303_132651.jpg Living in the Bay Area is very diverse, mountains in the distance, green hills all around you, marshland only minutes away and a harbor where the river connects all the way to the San Francisco bay, spilling into the Pacific Ocean. I am amazed at all the cow pastures around here, which explains why California is the second largest dairy supplier, behind Texas in the United States. This State alone provides 80 % of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Vineyards and Orange groves grace the rolling hills, reminding me of Tuscany. For several years the state of California has been experiencing drought for the past few years, but with all the rain that we had lately, that ban just got lifted and California's reservoirs are filled back up. Marshland is filling up, ideal for fishing and boating. 20190303_132710.jpg 20190303_132839.jpg
Only a 30 minute drive from us is the famous wine region of Nappa. We are planning a wine tasting tour very soon. Monthly wine tasting trips are offered on post thru MWR, a designated driver will bus the crowd to the vineyards for a very reasonable price. We definitely need to take advantage of that. If you travel in your rig, check out Harvest Host. This website is pretty amazing! After paying a membership fee you will be able to find vineyards, farms and orchards that offer free overnight stays in your RV, as long as you purchase some of their products. I wouldn't have a problem purchasing some wine, cheese or fresh picked apples in order to stay on a beautiful vineyard. E65CB75CF2062156E1D555E350E67727.jpg The coastline is rugged and absolutely stunning. A couple times we drove to suggested whale watching spots. We did not see any whales at Point Reyes that day.... 20181222_144004.jpg
But we did at Bodega Bay a month later. IMG_20190324_092910_511.jpg
Unfortunately I was not able to capture that on film. The Coast Guard was trailing in their boat behind the whale, which helped us bystanders to focus on on that area. Whales migrate along that coastline from December through April. If you like to set up camp along the water, Bodega Bay offers several camping areas with oceanview. The County and State park offer waterfront campsites, as well as the Marina. E65B794A90AE54F9DDCE5EB4A30932F8.jpg 20190323_140646.jpg
Thankfully the rain season has come to an end and we can enjoy the warmer temperatures. Spring is in full bloom and the fields are bursting with yellow wild flowers. Our next adventure will take us to Monterey and Carmel along HWY 1. See you then.... safe travels! IMG_20190313_084628_069.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 04:50 Comments (0)

Over half a year on the road

View Winter Journey on Meike Carter's travel map.

7A2BA45FD531386C486515751D3F0B0F.jpg We are into our seventh month of RVing , stationary in San Francisco Bay area until May. With February almost over, we are laying all our options on the table, the wants, needs and dreams. There is nothing wrong with chasing after your dreams, right? It is so confusing to make any plans for us, because we are very spontaneous people and don't always stick to our plans. We do set goals every January for the year, write it down and file it away amidst other paperwork. It never fails that it reappears a year or two later, while packing or reorganizing, just to realize that our goals were actually achieved. I am beginning to think, that once we put our goals on paper, subconsciously we aim towards them, approaching them as life unfolds. On the way to that goal we usually experience obstacles, forks in the road and big old potholes( as much as they suck, they can be the best learning experience). 7A2C6D7BBAF56888C84845D3756BC8FF.jpg Currently we are going through another change, which started with both of us getting diagnosed with medical issues a couple of months ago. After experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort I was diagnosed with a fibroid in my uterus setting me up with a surgeon to discuss my options. That occupied my mind and Tony could tell how it affected me and as the typical problem solver, opted for a change of scenery. That is when we spontaneously flew to Hawaii. I forgot about my medical issue, too excited to go back to the island where we met, but while Tony ran back to the terminal after returning the vehicle, he noticed some pain in his kidney.
During the flight the pain got stronger and by the time we landed in Hawaii he urinated blood and had to visit the ER on our first day on Oahu. Two weeks in Hawaii passed while he was medicated to deal with the pain. Back in California he actually passed the 14 mm kidney stone on his own, while sitting in the ER yet again, waiting for help. The doctors were stunned that he passed this massive stone, it was almost triple the size of kidney stones that could pass through the urethra without needing to get blasted. The urologist set up for the removal of the second kidney stone that was located above the entrance to the bladder. That stone was stuck due to inflammation caused by the first stone and had to be surgically removed. I have never seen my husband in so much pain. After that surgery he swore up and down to pass a stone naturally, before ever attempting that procedure again. The entire healing process took well over 2 weeks and kept us indoors. We were about to go stir crazy! 7A2D63B1EE17E5F5BCEDD1415AD6113A.jpg 7A2CE4E8927BB626D6D3820A75BE0CCB.jpg All our homeschool and college classes require hours behind the laptop, eating up the majority of our time. Come Friday night we are ready for a break, usually having dinner cooked early to set up Landon for a cozy night of gaming or movies. That gives us adults some time alone, outside with our outside fireplace, cushioned chairs, blankets and a couple of glasses of our favorite creamy Sherry. During that time we brainstorm our options for the next weeks, months and years. We confuse ourselves, wondering if settling down would be a wise decision, which leads to several hours of property searches, but still not feeling excited about it. We then wonder, if working in the corporate world would bring a sense of accomplishment, but we quickly toss that idea aside. What if we backpack for a while, or go to Europe for a few months, or should we fly to Australia or just take the RV across the States again starting in Washington state all the way to Maine, maybe Nova Scotia. We could also live in the Keys for a while... you see, we are at a big fork in the road. At this point I will let things just happen and still focus on school, editing my YouTube videos and work on my latest and biggest project yet. Unfortunately I can't reveal it, because it is at the beginning stages, but it will be one of my most complex and time consuming undertakings as of today.
One thing that I realized by living in an RV fulltime is, that I don't get sidetracked by chores around the house or the yard. Giving me more time to create and reflect, ultimately opening more doors to my own creativity, that I never knew existed. Sometimes it's good to step out of the circle and find yourself, whether you're out kayaking, hiking. Snowboarding or painting. IMG_20190302_084702_092.jpg This is our time out from the circle and for the last seven months we have learned, that we can do just fine without the material items, that downsizing down to the essentials is easier than we thought and that in return life gets filled with wonderful memories and stories. We have a little over 2 months left in San Francisco Bay area before we hit the road again. I am looking forward to see, what path life will take us on.

Posted by Meike Carter 00:56 Comments (0)

Staycations, explore your surroundings

2147D9C5C1E4281F74CDE97AED044F34.jpg During the colder and wetter months, living in an RV can be a bit boring. When it pours down rain, I prefer to cuddle up on the couch with my blanket, a book and a nice cup of tea. Sounds relaxing, but I can only relax so much until I get bored. I usually stay occupied homeschooling Landon, blogging, editing and working on my Vlog, but in order to continue working on the material I need to gather it first. Any chance I get and when the weather cooperates, I hit the hiking trails in our surrounding area. I heard that this winter here in the San Francisco Bay area is more extreme than usual. The constant rain has left the area muddy or flooded. We have been on some trails that were so soggy, our shoes got soaked and heavy with caked on mud. Walking with the extra weight is strenuous and wears on you quicker, especially on steeper inclines. We figured out where some hiking trails are, that are still paved and on higher elevation, allowing hikers to continue their hobby even after downpours. I just took Landon, our 9 year old to one of these trails, amidst cow pastures and had a fantastic time. IMG_20190217_072853_587.jpg
We spent a good 2 hours on the trail, reached the top, where we rested for a bit. I packed water and stuffed pita pockets to refuel us before our descent. We ran into a herd of cows that were blocking the path. Puzzled we tried to figure out what to do. Usually cows are pretty mellow, but not this Mama cow. She was protecting her young as it was resting in the pasture and gave us the stink eye. She did not mooooove, until another hiker tried to shush her away. That must have upset her, because she was about to come after him. Finally, we clapped our hands, made noise and whirled our arms, and Betsy cleared the path for us. She was definitely stubborn. 20190216_151145.jpg
Last week we checked out Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. It was very exciting to me, coming from a big city I need the occasional Metropolitan feel. The combination of city and fishing piers hits everything that I adore. It was windy and cold as we strolled around the piers, visiting tugboats and schooners, observing the sleepy sea lions on the decks and diving in and out of colorful buildings selling souvenirs. At a food stand we purchased bread bowls filled with steaming, velvety clam chowder. The market stands were bursting with lobster rolls, fresh crab, chowder and fish. It was a challenge to chose what to order. It turned out to be a perfect winter's day outing.7981A3FFA81CCAAD641A076FC5FDB8DE.jpg 79809D45E273AFC2F4A59F1FD6A48A8C.jpg IMG_20190214_073134_828.jpg 798121FDAF361C311E44ABCF69EB6ECA.jpg 20190211_152551.jpg
I love that this area has so much to offer, just alone San Francisco will take several trips to explore, with its parks, seashore and historic landmarks. 20190211_155930.jpg IMG_20190213_084122_781.jpg
We are very fortunate to stay in such a diverse area. Two hours from us, driving east sits the impressive mountain range of the Sierra Nevadas, where we can explore Kings Canyon, the redwoods at Sequoia and Muir trail. Several family sledding trips are offered thru MWR that will transport you, equip and feed you for the day. Definitely one trip, that is on my bucket list. With Spring around the corner, I am eager to head into Napa Valley to soak in the country side and taste their fruity wine creations. Lake Tahoe is another day trip that I am looking forward to and for a longer stay, Seattle Washington with a quick visit to Victoria B.C on top of my list.
Setting some goals helps overcome the winter blues, looking forward to learn more about the area makes it interesting and fun. Don't get stuck in a rut, even if you can't get far, turn your hibernation into a staycation. Go out and explore! 180_20190216_160938.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 04:13 Comments (0)

Travel blogging

90_20181222_162141.jpg Honestly, I never ever thought of blogging a couple of years ago. Matter of fact, Tony and I slowly began to disconnect from anything that could cause an outside effect on us. That meant no more TV with annoying commercials, instead we watched Netflix and YouTube. No more News, we were beyond tired of opinions versus news. It literally affected me and I developed insomnia thinking everything is so bad, how can we last another decade. Finally we decided to free ourselves from anything that caused us anxiety. Tony spent over 5 years deployed, fighting and it was time to give it all a break. The military life definitely left an imprint. We had to let go of many things that either reminded us of the hardships we had to endure or we had to readjust and approach situations on a lighter note. I slowly reintegrated myself into the world of social media less than 4 months ago.
I was excited to reconnect with friends and family yet hesitant to get too involved. Being away from family, due to always changing duty stations was difficult at times, but we learned to get used to it. Unfortunately we didn't really fit in anymore. Life changed us so drastically over the years and we felt awkward being around people. I developed very bad anxiety that ultimately sent me to the Emergency room a few times. In order to cope, we realized that traveling was like medicine to us. What seems to be more unnerving to most, because their home and inner circle is their safety net, seemed to be what we needed. We like to be in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what tomorrow brings and living in the moment. I didn't used to be that way, but Tony's deployments changed my take on life. I want to live it to its fullest and teach my children how beautiful the world is and that it is okay to take risks. IMG_20190204_080923_785.jpg
I took the risk of blogging. Seriously, that was unexpected! During the drive from the Four Corners to Gallup, New Mexico I played around on my phone and came across this site for travelers, asking if I would be interested in sharing my travels. Heck ya, I love to share, because traveling is awesome! I wrote a few lines, almost deleted it, squeezed my eyes shut, held my breath, pushed the button thinking here goes nothing. Well, I guess viewers did read it and quickly I learned how to build it up, adding backgrounds, fonts and most importantly pictures. To my surprise I just hit 3500 views, since I started blogging in November 2018. As a private person, I had to overcome being such an introvert,which took some courage to expose myself, but I felt the need to share with others what we have learned and hopefully help someone in a similar situation. Blogging and writing is not my strength. Matter of fact, during my high school years in Berlin,Germany my English teacher told me, that I was incompetent and would never speak English. I made a point to return back to my high school a year later, after Tony and I married in 1995 and told that teacher in English that she better never tell another student that they are not smart enough and incompetent. Her remark certainly stayed with me, which makes me question every single time I post a blog, if it is good enough. I hit that publish button anyway, because I don't want fear or uncertainty to keep me from doing what I love to do. Practice makes perfect and I mastered the art of learning from my mistakes. One thing led to another and blogging triggered vlogging. We had been watching YouTube videos for a while, following families that sail the oceans and travel the country. It inspired me so much that I wanted to give it a try. Like I said, I learn from my mistakes and quickly learned that filming, narrating, and walking is harder than expected. I was unfamiliar with the equipment, especially the editing software. For hours I tried to piece together footage. It was necessary for me to teach myself from scratch. Although time consuming and unprofessional at first, I had to go thru the learning process. As time progresses I can see the improvements in my videos, pushing my creative side to different levels. IMG_20181217_163557_785.jpg
Blogging and vlogging has been therapeutic for me somehow. In the beginning I cringed every time I heard my voice and especially my accent. I picked out my flaws and focused on improving them. A few videos later I noticed the difference in my speaking. Without planning it, vlogging turned into my speech therapy.
Blogging on the other hand is helping me to focus and broaden my vocabulary. It also serves as a diary that reflects on our Journey.
Hopefully one day my children and grandchildren will be glad that I created these everlasting memories to pass on from generation to generation. It also connects me to my family overseas. My YouTube channel -C's the Journey- allows them to get a better insight of our lives by practically tagging along. Some may never get the opportunity to visit us in the States, but they can enjoy the beauty of this land on screen and see us almost in person. It is not about the likes or the number of subscribers, it simply serves a deeper, more private purpose. The purpose is, to connect to the people we love and care about. Making new friends along the way makes it even that much sweeter.
Thank you for reading!

Posted by Meike Carter 09:13 Comments (2)

Living in a Motorhome

79D30D2EC06ADBEC21165036FBD3EE32.jpg Traveling in a Motorhome sounds fantastic, but what about living in it?
I wondered about that before even finding our Winnebago. Unsure if I could downsize to a tiny house on wheels , while I boxed up all our possessions that filled our 2500 SF house in Texas. Once the boxes were taped and labeled I already felt a disconnect with them and I didn't care to know what was inside them. Once they were stacked in the storage unit, the door shut and the bolt locked I immediately erased that I ever owned any of it. Just like that, a weight lifted and the excitement of something new and unknown overcame me.
It was pretty easy to adjust to the tiny living. We only brought our clothes on board and narrowed down only the essentials that we purchased to fit the coach. I finally bought my orange Rachel Ray cookware set and it fit perfectly into one drawer. Everything has its place and is somewhat organized. I used to have a linencloset full of towels, bedding, sheets etc...now we each have 2 towels, one beach towel and one extra set of linen and that's it. I can fit all that into one overhead compartment. Do I miss my other 10 towels, countless linens and beach towels? Nope!
I threw out a ton of makeup, nail polish and creams. For one, they piled up over time , getting outdated or dry and I still wasn't satisfied with my selection. Decision was made pretty quickly and most of my stuff went to donations or the trash. Same goes for clothes. I have one drawer in the bathroom with feminine products, hairdryer and a round brush. One shelf in the medicine cabinet that holds hairspray, deodorant, nail polish remover, mouthwash and all my meds and vitamins. My go to face and body cream is, plain and simple, coconut oil. Besides sunscreen lotion I have not used anything else. As far as makeup goes, mascara, 3 eye liners, 3 lip gloss and bronzer with brush will do the trick. I am outdoors hiking, biking and exploring and need comfortable clothing and shoes to protect me from the elements.
As long as we are on the road and change our surroundings, living in an RV is amazing. 79D3DBFAA19402E010A353B91CAFB8D3.jpg
Being stationary for more than 3 weeks or stuck indoors due to heavy rain for days, can feel depressing and claustrophobic. Reading materials, games and movies are essential for moments like that.
In order to stay on the go, I homeschool our 9 year old son, Landon. We recently had to transfer him from the Cyber Academy of South Carolina to Cyber Academy of California. The time change from Eastern to Pacific time cut into our new schedule here in San Francisco. He used to have homeroom at 5am , a little to early for my taste. Now we are in the correct timezone and everyone is happy. If you are considering homeschooling but still want the structure and curriculum of a public school, the K-12 program might be for you. All our books get shipped directly to us, we follow a daily lesson plan, but we still have the freedom to work as much or as little as we want. As long as all your lessons are completed by a certain grading period you are setting your own pace.
People ask me if Landon feels isolated traveling and living in the RV, since he doesn't attend public school.
I asked him about it and he is glad to be living like this. He still plays with other kids and interacts, but he really loves the fact that he can explore new places and learn hands on, rather than just read about it. He learned about Native Americans last semester which led us to visit the Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde, Wupatki and Walnut Canyon. 20181104_140326.jpg
Anytime we decide to stay for a longer period in one location we set up all our doctor appointments and use that opportunity to fix everything that needs fixing, whether it's the coach or us.
Tricare Prime covers all our medical and assigns us to the proper region during our stay. We have the option to pick up our prescriptions in person or have it delivered per mail with ExpressScripts. Once while on the road I ran out of my meds, I called ExpressScripts, gave them my next destination and they overnighted my meds By the time I arrived in Kentucky the package was sitting at my door. 79D48876939D20FE08287665FF371E96.jpg
In order to stay healthy you have to eat healthy. Which leads me to the smallest kitchen I've ever owned. RV kitchens are tiny in comparison to kitchens in a house or apartment. Countertop space is definitely limited, but manageable. I cook every meal we eat and get frustrated when I have to move and shift, while chopping and preparing. Being a bit OCD does not help the situation. Once everything is in the pan or the pot, clean up is a breeze and the countertop is visible again. Unfortunately we don't have an oven, instead we have a convection microwave. We tried heating up mini quiches, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, jalapeno poppers etc... it works but it takes longer than an oven. If your starving, you might be better off throwing something on the stovetop. We cook with propane and it cooks quick. I always make sure to either open the windows or the vents while cooking, to avoid a buildup of toxic fumes within the coach. Living with two males is bad enough...
That ties in with the bathroom....taking a shower is a bit more cramped but totally doable. One downfall is the low water pressure, a regulator is certainly helpful. I do have a built in seat in the shower, that makes shaving my legs much easier. There is always the option to use the bath house to take a nice hot shower. When you are in the wilderness and dry camp your hygiene regimen will be different, since you have to pay attention to your water consumption. Washing your hair in the sink and taking either sponge baths or quick showers will have to do.
Keep an eye on your tanks, especially the black water. You don't want that to overfill!
Routine checks are necessary and can save you money in the end. Check your batteries to see if they need to get topped off with water. We skipped that part once (as newbies) and our generator wouldn't crank, because the batteries were completely drained. To prevent any leaks it's good to climb up on the roof, keep it free from any debris and reseal it as necessary. During a very rainy 2 weeks last October we dealt with a leak along our right slide out that trickled onto our kitchen counter and the couch. We had to retract that slide, dry it off real good and seal it. Once it was dried completely we extended the slide back out and it solved the problem.
Living in tight quarters can be difficult at first, but the biggest payoff is the vast and always changing backyard that makes it totally worthwhile. 79D2B73C90750E506DE10BAD2D48F722.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 05:23 Comments (0)

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