A Travellerspoint blog

January 2021

Time to start east

View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

Hit the road early on Saturday to start the trek back east. Put another 528 miles on the car bringing the total to 8170 so far to end up in Winslow, AZ.

Since I was there, I stood on a corner.

Milo was also very happy that there was a dog park in town. He got to run around after being in the car all day.

The town of Winslow is a nice little stop along the historic Route 66.

The world's smallest church, dedicated to veterans.

Grand Canyon

The goal of this stop was to visit the Grand Canyon. Anything else would be bonus. The Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for quite some time. And for all the hype....it lives up to it. Spent most of my first day in the area at the park. Went to several of the look out points along the Southern Rim starting from Mather Point and heading east to Desert View Watchtower.

The views along the way were magnificent and I wish the camera would do the colors and depth more justice...but alas I only use a cell phone.

The Desert View Watchtower was built to look like a period piece but was actually built in modern times. The internal structure is steal while the outside was constructed in true form from the time period. No modern tools were used on it and the result is very authentic looking.

Leaving the park, I decided to try and see a few more things while the sun was still up. I planned to stop at Route 66 ghost town, but ended up pulling over for Walnut Canyon. Its a smaller canyon that has some cliff dwellings. Sadly, Milo couldn't go down the trail to the dwellings, so we just looked from above.

I was losing sunlight and wanted to hit the Meteor Crater and see what killed all the dinosaurs. Made it 45 mins before they closed. Sadly did not get to spend much time in the museum inside, but focused on being outside.

Largest fragment of the original meteor found.

Nice NASA contribution to the exhibit

View over the landscape...nothing but flat for miles until the meteor hit.

It was a very full day and felt happy to see yet another National Park and continue to check off bucket list items. Heading back for the night just in time so see the true colors of the desert. When I think about the desert I picture brown with the occasional green tall cactus sticking up. However, spending time in the desert at sunset and sunrise allows all the colors to come out. There are pale greens and yellows that really pop against the light brown ground and other scrub brushes. I know it doesn't do it justice, but I tried.

I was staying in a state park, Homolo'vi. It is the site of two native American villages of the Homolo'vi people that dates back to the 1300s. One of the oldest preserved sites. Was amazing to see some of the footprints of the buildings and even a partial wall.

Staying in the park was really nice, but I knew it would be short term based on the temperatures. Both nights dropped below 20C and we would wake up to Milo's frozen water bowl.

Monday morning, we got up to strike camp and get to warmer weather south.

Kartchner Caverns

I really like staying at State Parks over private campgrounds. Happy to find Kartchner Caverns State Park with the bonus of a dish washing sink. This may not sound like a big deal, but having a separate large sink with instant hot water to wash the dishes every day makes life a lot easier in the camper.

Tombstone and Fairbank

First day after work, decided to head to the nearby famous Tombstone. They've kept it "authentic" with a dirt road that no cars are allowed on and having several of the same businesses and other ones named after the infamous residents.

The historic Courthouse had really nice lighting due to the storm that was rolling in.

There were other parts of town that looked original but not maintained as well off the main strip.

Thought it was amusing that there is even a fake Tombstone, in Tombstone...that's about the epitome of commercialization,

As I left the town to head back to camp, I stopped to look over the landscape. It really made me wonder what type of grit it took to see this vast emptiness and decide to want to live here. Folks had to be pretty tough, sleeping on the ground and finding food and water. I don't think I would have made it considering my penchant for soft beds.

As I drove back, I saw a sign for Fairbank, historical site and decided to pull in. I'm glad I did. It was a true ghost town that has been preserved for history.

There was even a trail to the cemetery. Milo and I needed to stretch our legs, so off we went on the hike.

This is probably the only cemetery I've been to that didn't have a single headstone. The time period of the town was 1881-early 1900's . It served a rail town closest to Tombstone, but after the mines shut down in 1886, the town declined.

Walking along the trail, with no one around was a little haunting, but the blue sky was just breath taking.

Saguaro National Park

As the country got a new President, I decided to use my afternoon to see more nature. I headed over to the Saguaro National Park so see some of the iconic cacti. One reason mastery of the English language is so hard...cacti, but octopuses. Anyway, there was a nice one way 8 mile loop around the park that afforded several pull off areas for photos.

Starting down the path, it was clear many cyclists used the trail, but clearly needed a warning for part of it.

The different types of cacti also amazed me. Growing up ignorant of the dessert, I thought they were only green, tall with weird arms. They are really diverse and beautiful.

Gilded flicker and Gila woodpecker excavate nest cavities in the cactus for a home leaving these holes. Other birds will use these spaces for homes after the woodpecker abandons it.

It also became very clear that Milo had never encountered a cactus before. He kept trying to get right up next to them. Even after pulling out a couple of spines, he would still insist on seeing them up close.

Coronado and Border Wall

The next day after work I decided to drive down to the border wall. I wasn't very far and I felt like I needed to see massive horrible structure. Driving down I made a quick loop into the Coronado National Park.

Its very pretty, but the sun was starting to dip, so I didn't spend much time there.

I drove towards the border town of Naco and Bisbee. Driving right up to the last turn around spot before crossing the border I cried looking at it.

As I left I took a few more shots from a distance. It just sits there like a giant scar on the landscape. Blocking natural migration paths for animals and destroying the land.

Leaving the town did afford a nice backlit view.

And I even got to see a road runner finally! They sure do blend in!

Heading back to camp I decided to take a break from the same food I had been eating all week and got drive thru homemade quesadilla. Delicious. If you're ever in the area, make a stop at Camino Cafe.

Kartchner Caverns and Sky Island

The last full day in town, I finally got to visit the caverns. It was the only opening all week. Learning about the giant sloth that was found in the cavern goes to show how it changed over time. Unfortunately, could not take any photos inside but it was beautiful.

I took advantage after work to do one last drive of the area up Mount Lemmon. Its called the Scenic Drive to Sky Island and allows you to travel from the desert landscape up to pines. The views were great and I mostly enjoyed the view while driving the winding road and only stopped on occasion for photos.

Arizona was a nice place to visit. I highly recommend it and will be back since I didn't see everything.

Time to find a new view!

Posted by Oceansview 18:17 Comments (0)

Compton Upgrades

View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

I was able to help out a friend and have a house to myself for 2 whole weeks. Win/Win

He asked me as he was leaving...when was the last time I was in a house, by myself? The answer...since mid-Sept when I sold my condo. It has really afforded me a nice time to work on some upgrades for the camper and finish cleaning out the car and getting really organized.
I also "upgraded" the gate to his backyard, so Milo couldn't escape


Adding carpeting strips similar to Slim Potatohead's suggestion. However, let me caveat this with...the striping he suggests (called J-edge) is NOT that easily available. It was the main reason I hadn't been able to do this upgrade. Every hardware store that I would stop into since Wisconsin didn't carry it in stock. Apparently its for tile and not a popular model of how to do tile these days. Since I was finally stable long enough, I was able to order it online and get it delivered. Fairly easy to install with some contact cement and I just used the edge of the hinge as my guide to be "level."

The carpet also proved a little tricky. I kept looking for carpet similar to his video that was cloth material on both sides. However, carpet usually has some sort of backing. I ended up just buying a rug runner from the dollar store and cut strips from it. Installation was fairly smooth once I got the hang of pushing in the carpet with the flathead.

And thankfully my supervisor was around to help

I then decided to use the rest of the carpet on the floor. I love my little turquoise rug, but it was just thick enough to cause issues with opening some of the doors. This fits perfectly underneath to not cause any problems.

I'll be heading back into some colder temperatures, so also decided to add another layer on the main window to possibly help with insulation.

I didn't follow the instructions because they recommend starting from the top. I can see how this would make sense for a normal window because the layers then fall down. But since the largest part of the window was at the middle, I started from there and pushed the plastic up behind the paper towel rack and then cut off the excess. Seems to be a decent job and it tightened fairly well with the hair dryer. Another thing I did was to seal it in 2 sections. I think the top section will stay firmly attached, but with the bottom having some screen and a not clear area to put the tape I'm not as confident that area will stay.

I got to take another outing with a work friend and Milo made another dog friend. We went to the Japanese Tea Garden in Kenneth Hahn park. We didn't stay on the paths too much, again..all the people.

One thing I would never have imagined until it was pointed out to me, is how much of an oil state California is. I mean its super progressive and all for clean energy..except for all the oil wells. Everywhere...in parks, next to a Chick Fil A (I mean that's another reason to not eat there). Its CRAZY.

I started checking the camper and getting organized a few days before I hit the road again and boy am I glad I did. Camper battery was totally dead. Brought it to an RV shop and they tried to slow charge it, but nada. Thankfully the warranty was good and I got a free replacement!

One last upgrade before hitting the road was for my wardrobe :)

I've enjoyed my time in Cali, but it is time to start the trek east again.

Next view will be the Grand Canyon!

Posted by Oceansview 23:04 Comments (0)

New Year's Getaway

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The trifecta

Yep...we pulled it off. 3 days and 3 National Parks. Death Valley, Red Rock Canyons and Joshua Tree. I do not apologize for the numerous amount of pictures.

Taking advantage of a three day weekend, my friend and I decided to hit up some National parks and even threw in the Hoover Dam and a drive through the Strip for fun.

Day 1

Death Valley--with our furry pals


And of course some fine gas stations refreshment

All of the landscapes were amazing. We drove through the "middle" route and also along Artist Drive.

I had never spent any time in a desert and am just continually amazed at this country's beauty.

At the end of the day, Milo made a new friend.

Day 2

Red Rock Canyon

I'm not sure what I was expecting for Red Rocks, but I probably couldn't have been prepared. From the stark contrast of the bright blue sky and the red rocks to the pink cactus....all of it was absolutely breath taking.

Milo's favorite part was the slow drives through the parks where he was allowed to have window time.

Furry friends had to stay in the car, because of other smaller furry friends in the park


Hoover Dam

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Overview of Lake Mead on the way to the Dam

I would have liked to have gotten out of the car to explore more around the dam, but SO many dam people(that is a rare pun intended to keep my pun-friendly folks involved)! Crowded on the sidewalks, brushing past each other. Car view was good for me.

The Strip!

We arrived during the last daylight hours and made an initial swing through.

I was still amazed at the number of people out and about. We decided it probably wasn't even safe to grab something from a resturant so we did a quick off strip grocery store find and got food from the deli before returning to see all the pretty lights. I am clearly not a photographer ,but was pretty impressed at my quick searching to find how to make my phone take at least decent pics at night.


On the drive back for the night, we needed gas. I found a place on the route and it just so happened that it was a place that some people seek out...

Good to know, Aliens need love too.

I was very tempted...but it wanted cash.

Day 3

Joshua Tree

Last day of many long days in a car. I'm also glad that my America the Beautiful Pass was actually paying off. I hadn't needed to show my pass until these parks and bonus was Red Rocks and Joshua Tree visitor centers were actually open! I finally go official stamps in my Parks Passport!!!

Cholla cactus--very cute, even Milo appreciated them


The famous Skull Rock


I feel incredibly privileged to be able to see all of these wonderful places and have a flexible way to work right now.

Now, off to view Compton!


Posted by Oceansview 22:01 Comments (0)

California dreaming

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Oh Cali, how you warm my heart and my skin. Also--long post to include all the fun of Cali through the end of the year.

I arrived in California the week before Thanksgiving and had an enjoyable time with my aunt. After a week, it was back on the road for a quick trip to Monterey. One thing I decided once on this journey was to take advantage of being able to see people in person! Monterey afforded that chance with 2 folks where I had social distance coffee with one and back porch drinks with another. Just seeing people made me feel good. Even if the camping wasn't ideal. I was at a KOA which was perfectly fine--but its basically a parking lot and not near enough green for me. However, they had openings where none of the parks did.

The week of Thanksgiving I headed down to Long Beach to stay with an LSU friend. Now I'm sure at this point you are thinking...wow, you sure are seeing a lot of people during a pandemic. 1--my aunt was the first person I had hugged/physically interacted with since the beginning of my trip. She is retired and doesn't really leave the house except for groceries. 2--grad school buddy lives alone and also doesn't interact with anyone. Judge away if you still think I'm being unsafe.

Being able to be with someone for the week of Thanksgiving was also a good mental break for me. Don't get me wrong I have greatly enjoyed my time alone and all of the places I have seen, but its also nice to be able to have a conversation with someone as mundane as how was work today? Milo provides great listening ability, but doesn't ask questions. His demands are more in a EXCUSE ME bark or sneeze.

We made a nice dinner for two complete with pecan pie martinis instead of a real pie (who knows if its any less calories).

We also decided to be LA tourists. My friend had lived in the area for several years, but hadn't explored much. We had a great time buying a map (a real physical one!) from a lady on the side of the road who told us that her family had been in that business for 20+ years. She also gave us a great short drive and which houses to see. She even marked where the map was incorrect. We "saw" many houses, well we saw the tops of them or tiny little peeks at weird angles.
Jennifer Aniston's driveway was my favorite--note the sign!

Witch's house doesn't actually have anyone that lives in it, but is a maintained prop house. You probably saw it in Clueless.

After touring houses, we decided to head go see other iconic places in the area like Rodeo Drive

And Beverly Hills

We also went up to see the Hollywood sign and observatory. There were some folks, but thankfully no crowds and it was very easy to avoid being near anyone.

The next day we headed back into town and took a walk down Hollywood Blvd. I only captured the really important stars.


It was also great to see so many big named folks wearing masks.

We also made a stop in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

I was struck by the sectioned off areas of the cemetery. There was clearly a Jewish area and an even more separate area for Asians. Hoping as we continue to move forward in this country it will become more inclusive and people coming to visit our graveyards won't know of any distinctions.

And of course can't miss the La Brea tar pits.
Sticks put in the tar for folks to play with....
People who are jerks and put both ends of the stick in the tar...

The tar bubbles so forcefully at times, that it sticks on the trees.

Closed visitor center :(

Ongoing research finding out items buried in the tar.

Having the LA tourist experience was pretty amazing and I got to see a lot of things normally reserved to the viewing from a TV. But like all fun things, it must come to an end and hit the road.

I headed down to San Diego to house sit for a while and take advantage of being closer to co-workers at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

I was also able to see a cousin and we realized it was the first time in our lives that we hung out without other family. It was nice to get to know him as an adult and meet his lovely girlfriend.

After enjoying several nights on the beach, it was time to head back to a camp ground. I had called the day before to make sure everything was fine and was assured it was (at this point Gov. Newsom had announced Southern Cali to go back into lock down). MY LSU buddy was going to meet me at the park for us to walk the pups since it was a place she hadn't been before.

I drive up and hop out of the car to check in at the station, only to be met with confused looks. Why was I there? Didn't I know the park was closed and they were actively trying to get people to leave? UGH. I got a full refund (eventually--had to call the state parks department) and drove over to meet my friend for the walk...and to tell her I was homeless. She of course told me to just come back to Long Beach with her.

So I had stable housing for several weeks for the first time since leaving on my trip. It was nice to have co-workers who only caused trouble occasionally.

Christmas was another small affair and Milo was happy to get some soft squishy balls for himself that I let him keep. He kept stealing the dryer wool balls and chewing on them until I found him and took them away.

I was excited to get my Secret Snowman present from work!

I also got myself a present and it provided a nice distraction in the evening to build it.
Sadly he is all built now, but back in his box and hopefully won't fall apart too much on the return trip.

At this point was looking forward to 2021, not being 2020...I didn't know how wrong I could be.

Hope you enjoyed the view,

Posted by Oceansview 19:23 Comments (0)

Reno to Cali

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Travel dates: Nov 8-18

Staying outside of Reno was an intentional short trip. By this point I had run into more issues finding campgrounds and nights were getting pretty cold. Even with my electric blanket and space heater, I was waking up freezing and dealing with the ever present problem of condensation. Even frozen condensation for a couple of days. Milo was also feeling the cold as I would find him buried underneath blankets every morning and unwilling to get up and go outside. One day he stayed in bed until almost 9 before I forced him to go out.
The drive afforded a few more beautiful scenery.

While in Reno, I decided to try and make the most of it. Walking downtown in the frozen city one day.
Had to see the sign...from the safety of inside my car.

I hadn't forgotten about getting ice cream when I can and when I feel that the place is safe.

And then heading off to Lake Tahoe after work on the second day.
The camera doesn't really do it justice.

Milo classically refusing to look at the camera.


I did manage to wander around a little in the downtown shopping area. There were not many folks out (probably more due to the weather than actually staying home orders) so didn't feel to stressed. Driving around the lake was pretty magical.

I also went to 3 different RV shops in pursuit of a new L linchpin for the sway bars. One is slightly bent ..I'm assuming all the salt kept it from moving as it should. Even with a thorough cleaning, it still didn't move. I did what they tell you not to...I used WD40. I couldn't push or pull the bar to remove it and despite all advice, I need to be able to attach and move the bars by myself. No luck on the linchpin and I was told that even with the slight bend it should be fine. And so far that has held true.

On Veteran's day, I took off to head farther west. Made a quick stop to visit the Donner Party. I'm sad to say that I didn't know the true history of the Donner party other than they ate each other to survive. Truth is there was close to 22 feet of snow, which trapped them, thus leading to cannibalism. The statue is the height of the snow from that storm. I don't like a few inches of snow, so can not even imagine that much snow.

Crossing into California, I got stopped by the agriculture stop. I had been told they wouldn't stop white people...truth is...they don't stop folks with California plates. I got stopped with my Maryland plates. And was very honest...remember those apples I picked in Wisconsin? Yeah, still had 2 with me. I had been savoring them. They were confiscated and I was told to not admit that I hand picked the produce next time. I also got my daily dose of sexism...I was asked if I was a traveling nurse because "I looked the part." Female in car, with a camper and a dog...I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that traveling nurses don't camp that much. Maybe I'm wrong.

Onward--arrived at my aunt's house in the Bay area and was happy to be inside and warm for a week. We spend our evening driving through Napa and my days working. Even ventured out for a little light hiking. Milo is always happy to get out and explore.

It was nice to take a break before hitting the road again.

Hope you've enjoyed the view!

Posted by Oceansview 20:07 Comments (0)

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