A Travellerspoint blog

California dreaming


View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

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).
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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.
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Jennifer Aniston's driveway was my favorite--note the sign!

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

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It was also great to see so many big named folks wearing masks.
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We also made a stop in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
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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.
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Sticks put in the tar for folks to play with....
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People who are jerks and put both ends of the stick in the tar...

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

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Closed visitor center :(

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I was excited to get my Secret Snowman present from work!
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I also got myself a present and it provided a nice distraction in the evening to build it.
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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,
Ocean

Posted by Oceansview 19:23 Comments (0)

Reno to Cali


View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

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

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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.
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The camera doesn't really do it justice.

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Milo classically refusing to look at the camera.

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

Hope you've enjoyed the view!
Ocean

Posted by Oceansview 20:07 Comments (0)

Big Titty mountains


View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

Still back blogging :)

Leaving South Dakota to head to Wyoming was one of the prettier drives. This part of the country has just amazing views and if you ever get the chance to drive through I can't recommend it enough.

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My mom got to visit Jackson, WY years before and I'll never forget the story she told me of one night at dinner with fellow conference folks where one of the women suddenly realized the translation of Grand Tetons, is essentially Big Titties. The woman was highly embarrassed by this event, but my mom found it quite funny...and so do I. Now I've had the chance to see the Big Titty mountains myself.

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While the majority of the drive was lovely, the last bit was a little terrifying at times. In some of the more shaded parts, ice was still on the roads. I slowed down and didn't have any traction issues, but with the sun going down and visibility becoming more tricky, I was happy to get through and have the mountains on my right heading to the town. I was even more happy to see one of the construction signs as I entered the town saying "Welcome to Jackson, MASKS REQUIRED." To be in a town where I could feel safe going into buildings makes a world of difference after being in a state where I didn't even feel safe to go to a grocery store. I wanted to stay in Jackson for a week, but the weather was predicting a snow storm on that Friday, so only had 4 days. Even staying in a little cabin didn't mean I wanted the chance of getting snowed in.

Milo quite enjoyed being in a cabin as well.
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While the SD part of my trip included lots of hiking, WY was more limited since pets weren't allowed on any trails due to the threat of bears and other wildlife. So Milo and I took to driving tours. I really, really wanted to see a moose, but never did. That's ok, it just means I'll have to come back.

Researching places to drive around, discovered Snake River as a place to watch the sunset. There were several birds and even a couple of little beavers that decided to check me out. They were much smaller that I would have thought.
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Views of the Tetons were magical and I was so excited to even drive around them.
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It was also nice to get to explore the little village and see the town square. There were not many folks since it was past tourist season and everyone was being good and wearing masks.
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After working Thursday, I hooked up the camper and headed out again for Salt Lake City. I drove down a 2 lane highway for the majority of the trip since it had less grade. Driving along roads with only a few cars is always so nice since its less stress. My camper is only the width of my car, but the AC unit (still not used) sticks out about a foot. I know this doesn't make me even close to a wide load, but it still makes me check every time someone is on that side of me. This drive was another beautiful one with several layered rock formations. I was able to pull over for a couple of them, but not enough :)

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Salt Lake City put me back to camper life. I was excited to camp on the lake. The state park has a few RV spots and I snagged the one closest to the bathrooms. Getting there after dark didn't allow for a lot of exploring, but got to enjoy my upgrade from Wisconsin for the first time. Being able to put up the pot and pan and free up counter space was amazing.
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The next day the views of watching the salt being blow around was beautiful with the sunset being more beautiful. Knowing that the fires in California were providing the ash to make the sunset have beautiful colors was a little heartbreaking.
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After work, Milo and I walked around on the salt flats and had a few sky visitors.
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Heading back to fix dinner after sunset, I noticed the wind was picking up some. Checking my wind app, saw that there would be some 20mph gusts throughout the night. That was fine, my little camper can handle that. However at 7pm, a gust hit us broadside that rocked us and made the roof shake and sound like it might get pulled up. Looking over at Milo all snuggled into the bed, I made the quick decision to find a hotel. Being injured from a collapsing camper isn't worth it. I know staying in a hotel increases my risk of exposure to COVID, but my safety is important as well. We packed it up and headed off. I'm thankful that I did since it allowed me to actually get some sleep.

The next day I planned to pack in as much SLC fun as possible. Starting off with a short hike up to an overview of the city really got he hear pumping. The All Trails app rated it as "easy." I'm sure since it was only a little over a mile that was what determined the setting. However, the out part was all uphill. My asthma doesn't particularity like that, so it was slow going, but the views were worth it.

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After the hike, we headed downtown to see the Church of Latter Day Saints and the surrounding gardens. I have to admit it was really nice to see the diversity of nativity scenes on display.
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It was getting close to lunch time, so I started looking for an outdoor place that would allow dogs. After going to a couple of recommended places only to find them closed, I ended up at The Green Pig Pub. It boasted a roof top patio that was dog friendly. I liked it immediately as I walked in and they asked to take my temperature. Milo and I headed up the stairs and took a nice corner table. I ordered him a scrambled egg and got myself a cocktail.
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I could hear honking and yelling down below and couldn't figure out what was happening. At that moment I got a text from my dad, "Looks like science won!!" ??? What was he talking about? A quick opening of Facebook let me know that Biden had been declared the winner. I walked over to the edge of the roof to look down and saw people holding up Biden signs and honking and cheering and dancing. It was such a surreal moment. I intentionally didn't put my Biden sticker on my car knowing I would be driving through non-liberal friendly areas. Seeing the increase in violence against Biden supporters honestly had me afraid. I'm sure people out there would tell me I'm paranoid..but being a single woman traveling and having experienced sexual harassment and at times fearing for my safety in normal travels, I wasn't going to take any chances.

The rest of the day we took a drive through the mountains since it had started to rain. The views were just spectacular and I started to finally feel hopeful about the future.
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Sunday morning, I got up and packed to hit the road for Reno.

Hope you've enjoyed the View!
Ocean

Posted by Oceansview 21:53 Comments (0)

Mountains for days

South Dakota to WY

Back blogging for the next few entries....

Arriving in Rapid City after 2 days of driving, left me a little tired. I didn't do a whole lot the first few days other than a little hiking after work each day. Other adventures included washing the camper to get all the salt off of it. Happy to be in a part of the country that doesn't blink twice when you pull the little camper to the car wash.

Most days I was able to go out after work to the Black Hills and do some hiking. The views and mountains were just beautiful.

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The weekend was the big adventure days with driving through Custer's Wildlife loop and checking a bucket list item of seeing Mt. Rushmore.

The drive through the wildlife loop was pretty cool. We saw a lot of evidence of bison before we started seeing them
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Lots of bison and a few other animals that didn't seem to mind being up close and personal.
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Heading into Mt. Rushmore, you think you know what to expect..we see the images all the time. But they do not ever talk about the trail you can walk where each president (except Teddy) is highlighted based on the view.
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The gang

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Really cool cut out view of Washington from inside a rock formation.

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Lincoln

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Best view of Jefferson

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Sculptor's cabin where all the magic happened

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Side view of Washington as you leave the park

After leaving the park, Milo and I walked some more in the Black Hills and found an "interpretive area."20201031_101841.jpg20201031_102528.jpg

I know some of you may be concerned that I haven't said anything about ice cream...well here is my proof of keeping it up. Started with a bison burger for dinner from a place in Custer touting the best burger in the country (Black Hills Burger and Bun Co). Have to say...homemade bread was a clutch addition.

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After being in SD for a week and seeing some amazing sites, it was time to head to another state. Jackson, WY would be my home for the next week in this little cabin (campgrounds still closed up north).
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Posted by Oceansview 22:48 Comments (0)

Had to get to South Dakota to warm up


View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

I know its been a minute since an update and there will be plenty in this post. One thing I think some forget, is I'm not on an extended vacation. I'm working M-F 8 hours a day. I happen to be in cool places, but it does limit my time for other things and honestly at the end of some work days, there is no way I want to look at a screen anymore, thus the blog suffers.

After leaving Michigan, I went through the UP to get to Wisconsin. Mainly to see things along the way and to say I'd been in the UP. One thing I have been struck by is the hope I feel driving through these areas. There are less nasty political signs and more hopeful ones. In southern Wisconsin, I even saw bails of hay in a line with the tarp over them proudly displaying BIDEN HARRIS 2020. It truly felt good. Makes me think there are many in this country who see the dangerous path before us and are choosing to pull over and turn around.

In Wisconsin, I driveway camped again at a dear friend's house. Found out you can buy a "dogbone" to convert 30AMP to 15AMP house hold plug. It works really well for all normal activities like charging devices and running my 12 V cooler. I'm sure if I were trying to run the A/C, we would have different results. Considering it didn't get above 40 the entire time I was there, no AC was needed.

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Only good thing about cold weather is the excuse for a fire. Yes, that's a BYEDON flag in the background.

The week was fairly uneventful with working everyday. That weekend we got to adventure out to a pick your own apple place and went for a social distance hike at the state park.
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I still have a few apples and have been enjoying them!

Last Sunday, I hit the road again. After looking to find some place to hang out for a week before hitting my goal of Mt. Rushmore, I decided to just have 2 days of driving. There's not a whole lot that looked interesting to me (sorry Iowa and Minnesota). I did make one great stop on day one of driving.
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I loved the movie Field of Dreams as a kid, so it was great to see that its been maintained and stand on the field. Milo didn't know what all the fuss was about, but he appreciated me interrupting his multi-hour nap.
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Hit a little bit of snow on the drive, but nothing too intense and roads were kept pretty clear.
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Stopped over night in Sioux Falls before hitting the road again on Monday. Second day of driving was a little more stressful. Several icy areas that hadn't been cleared completely. I decided to just go slow in the clearest lane. I'm sure I irritated the locals, but after passing 3 accidents on the opposite side from sliding off the road, I really didn't care what they thought. Decided to take a couple of breaks even with a shorter day of driving and saw the epic Corn Palace. I spent approximately 5 minutes inside before fleeing from the non-mask folks.
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My second break was in Wall Drug. Again the level of non-mask folks made me uncomfortable, so just stayed outside. Spent most of the time parked in my car while taking some work calls before continuing on to Rapid City.
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Car issues seem to have settled down. No more electrical issues and only had a minor adjustment to the bracket for the sway bars. It kept angling forward, preventing the bar from moving and causing me to be off center. Nice folks at an RV center changed the position and its been smooth sailing ever since.
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I'm in an AirBnB this week because apparently up north campgrounds close. Its been a nice change of pace to not have to go outside to use the bathroom. And the weather has been very nice. Other than the first day getting down to 8! Its been sunny and "warm" in the 50s.

Hope you enjoyed the view,
Ocean

Posted by Oceansview 11:38 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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