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Weather Made Us Double Back Through California

Weather Made Us Double Back Through California

Hollister, CA
40° / 69° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: San Benito RV Resort
OUR RATING: 3 Stars – a rustic campground tucked between hills of vineyards and farmlands, cell signal is poor but tolerable, nearby towns are fantastic and 1 hour drive from many awesome adventures
PRICE: (Free) Thousand Trails resort
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,895

We never made it to Lake Tahoe. The National Weather service had severe wind advisories in effect for the area we were to travel to. Beyond his fear of heights, Steve’s healthy fear of high winds had us re-thinking our ambitious plans to get to the Northwest.

As we explored our options, comparing driving and travel costs with park fees, it made the most sense to go back to a Thousand Trails park in California, and wait out the storm. Then head up north to Washington, Goal post #2.

That’s just what we did, but it wasn’t without a bit of driving peril. As we headed south down Nevada Hwy 95, hoping to have outrun the winds that were north of us, we ended up right back in the middle of the winds!

windy detourTroopers had just closed the highway and all “high profile” vehicles were diverted to a dirt lot, to sit and wait.

There’s a YouTube channel that we are addicted to, HappilyEverHanks , made by the most goofball couple ever about RV life.  In a episode this past winter, they got caught in a wind storm and shared an app called Windy which shows real time and forecasted wind speed and directions.  We’ve used this in the past and it seems pretty accurate.

We watched this app like a hawk while parked in this dirt lot on the side of the road with other RVs and lots of Semi Trucks.  The thought of hanging out in this lot for the next several hours seemed daunting, especially with the wind rocking the RV.

I ran into the RV and did a hurry clean up, keeping the driver’s side slides closed, opening up just the couch side.  Steve came in with the dogs and we all lunched and then napped the windy afternoon away.

At sunset, as the Windy app predicted, the winds died down and we were able to continue rounding the Sierra Nevadas.

We overnighted in Bakersfield, and woke up Easter morning to a beautiful 72° sunny morning.  We hooked up after a delightful morning brunch and made our way north, back to Hollister.

How Toastmasters Saved RV Life During COVID

How Toastmasters Saved RV Life During COVID

Hawthorne NV
33° / 57° Cloudy ☁
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $144/week FHU
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,231

A very long work day today. Very monotonous end of quarter administrative tasks choked out most of the day. Highlighted by a Toastmaster Zoom meeting and a client onboarding session.

Let me introduce you to my Toastmaster group and the integral role it plays in our RV life.

Toastmasters Hybrid Meeting circa 2020

Toastmasters Hybrid Meeting circa 2020

I joined Toastmasters 5 years ago to improve my public speaking skills.   At the time I was speaking on behalf of clients in various PR settings and felt they deserved a polished voice.  I certainly achieved that goal and after 5 years of continuous work, I feel confident behind a mic, on a stage, or 1-on-1 with anyone.  Toastmasters has a terrific curriculum, evaluation process and even speech contests.  No matter where your speaking confidence is on the spectrum, there is an opportunity for you to grow.  I certainly have.

About 6 months into Toastmasters, Parveen joined the club too.  We quickly hit it off through our mutual love affair for life long learning.  We both share high pursuits at work and play, and discovered that we enjoy how we critique each other toward improvement.

The first 3 years of Toastmasters stretched my comfort zone as I learned how to master the lectern in various settings.  With Parveen in tow evaluating my professional presentations, I got better.  I was in her tow too, evaluating her medical presentations.  A true win-win and we were expanding our speaker platforms.

Then COVID hit.

COVID began the slow, and eventual death of social organizations and the sudden death of social gatherings.  Speaking gigs stopped.

Toastmasters, like every organization on the planet, immediately moved to Zoom.  Gone were the sideways glances and snickers to people in the room – and in came chat feeds.  Or, for more personal chats, smartphone texting with others in the Zoom room.

The Brady Bunch square became our new stage.  We began evaluating each other on our use of the Zoom screen as a substitute for the obligatory Stage Presence evaluation.  This weekly, constant sharpening of the saw, made most of us phenomenal speakers in Zoom.

At work, I had started getting compliments on how I showed up in client Zoom meetings.  Most people sit on their hands and don’t move.  How boring!  Get your point across more effectively by raising those hands to your face and into your Zoom screen.

The most important aspect, especially of late, was having our social club meet weekly.  If for no other reason than a wellness check and to socialize.  During COVID, those meetings fed the soul.  During RV life, they keep me grounded and connected.  I love you guys!

 

Camping and Trapped Inside

Camping and Trapped Inside

Hawthorne NV
27° / 50° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $144/week FHU
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,231

It just dawned on me, that I can go days without stepping outside. Not exactly highly unusual since I’ve always lived and worked under the same roof, even before it was COVID-cool.

Before COVID, I deliberately put events on the calendar to force myself to go outside and socialize.  Puppy obedience school, doggy daycare, take human daughter to human school (aka college), get groceries, attend various networking events and once a week, date night with Steve and a day with Parveen.

COVID killed most of that, actually the entire list except groceries.

Now that we are on the road and Steve is taking a well-deserved hiatus from laborious work, he’s in charge of all the household errands including the laundry.  Which leaves me virtually no reason to go outside – especially when its 40° out there!  Brrrrrrr

no-smokingSteve is a smoker.  Always has been.

He’s somewhere between a habitual smoker and a chain smoker.  For those of you who count this in packs, he’s a pack every other day.   Since I don’t allow him to smoke inside our fancy new RV, he has to face whatever weather we are in if he wants to puff on his cancer sticks.  As long as he’s out there for 4-6 minutes, say 8 times a day, I think its only fair that he lets one of the dogs tag along too.  That just seems to be the frequency one of them needs to pee.  Don’t you think?

But that now leaves me without any single good reason to go outside except my own personal need to smell the fresh air and stretch my legs.

I decided back in Vegas to take both a morning and evening walk with Puddin.  That was working out great when it was 70° in the am.  Today’s thermometer showed 40° while the coffee was brewing.

The new exercise goal can wait.

Winded and Stranded Off-Course

Winded and Stranded Off-Course

Hawthorne NV
28° / 59° WINDY!!
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $36/day FHU with Good Sam
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,231

Today, we made it an entire 104 miles from Tonopah. High winds and wind gusts have shut down the rest of the road to our next planned stop – Carson City.

As we drove into Hawthorne, we spent the last 29 miles in a sand storm.  We were trailing another RV and I noticed it was fish tailing a little.

Steve fired back “So are we, look in your mirror!”.

nevada sand storm rv life

Sand Storm in Minah, NV

Sure enough, Steve was working hard to keep us upright on the road and in the middle of the lane.  His hands were sweating so badly, that between sand gusts, we amped up the a/c so he could dry and cool his hands, and pause from the swearing.  Then the a/c went off again a lessons learned last year in a previous sand storm to save the air filters.  A very expensive lessons learned.  At least today, there was visitiblity and we could actually see the RV in front of us and beyond.

The part that upset Steve the most, was that we had just splurged for a professional RV wash in Las Vegas.  They scrubbed the RV and hand shined every window and crevice.  When we pulled out of Vegas we looked like a Million Bucks.  Rig still looks good.

Right before the detour, complete with flashing police lights, I had spotted a large RV park.  After being turned around, we went straight to said RV park and snagged the last available spot with hookups.

This is our first time being stranded due to weather.  In one way, it’s exciting.  In another, a total bummer, as it takes a day off our Lake Tahoe visit, which was already a short 4 days.

While setting up camp, the wind was so strong that Steve and I had a hard time hearing each other over the walkie-talkies.  I literally felt the wind try to pick me up off the ground.  That’s some serious wind!

While I did my part for setting up, I started freaking out over the sheer noise hitting the driver’s side of the trailer, especially with our slide covers whipping in the wind.  After a quick vacuum, I pulled both driver’s side slides back in.  I could still feel the wind pressing up against the sides and the trailer started rocking.

We all came inside and had our lunches in the enclosed trailer, with the wind all around us.

Oh! the joys of exploring someplace new and various climates.

hawthorne navseaOne interesting point of note, this town is home to a NAVSEA location.  As evidenced by the signs on all the roadway fences “Restricted Area – Warfare Zone”.  The signs themselves aren’t creepy.  Coupled with the thousands of bunkers peeking out of the ground from behind those signs is!  Miles and miles of those bunkers.  Apparently warehouses for missiles.  Not entirely sure if that’s supposed to make me feel safer or not.

 

 

 

Don’t Make Me Read That

Don’t Make Me Read That

Tonopah, NV
32° / 55° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: Oasis RV Park
OUR RATING: 5 Stars – a well thought out RV resort complete with private golf course, large dog run and upgraded free WIFI. Bonus for being a 4 minute Uber from the Strip
PRICE: $36/day FHU
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 20,891

Just arrived in Tonopah this afternoon by way of a very long two lane highway with very little to distract the eye.  Highway 95 weaved in and out of various hills with small towns scattered about 100 miles apart.  “Small” and “towns” aren’t quite the right words.  A couple looked like a small outpost. Complete with wandering donkeys.  Tonopah itself could be considered a small town though.  It has a high school and a Rotary club sign as we came in.  Just down the road from our RV park is a cute distraction.  Some kind of famous “Clown Motel”.   Supposedly a clown museum passing itself off as an old western inn or motel.  Our treat for the day came from an unexpected A&W Rootbeer stand.  I’m a sucker for A&W Rootbeer, so we got a couple…. to go.

Steve really surprised me today.  Apparently, he, completely on his own, suggested we download a particular audiobook for the next leg of the journey.

Know this, I’m an avid reader.  In a typical year, I will read a book a week – more if I’m in a good series – like the recent Bridgerton books.  Parveen and I have fun one-upping each other on our reading lists and accomplishments.  We are both similar, in that we can only read 1 book at a time.  If the book is a dud, I will race through it, to get to the next one.  Parveen likes to race through all her books, just to get a gist of the story line, or maybe her brain just works 10x faster then mine.  I, on the other hand, enjoy reading slowly.   About an hour at a time, looking for interesting phrases.  Stopping constantly to build character maps on the inside book covers, or just to sit and reflect on a particular passage.

Steve is the complete opposite.  Unless the book ahs colorful pictures of food or recipes, he’s not likely to read it.

About 4 years ago, I discovered audiobooks and quickly fell in love with them.  I eagerly listened to them on long car rides to business appointments or meetings.  I binged them on longer road trips when I used to routinely drive from Tampa to Dallas, alone.  On several occasions, my kids (not together) would be on a road trip with me and we’d listen to books I thought they’d enjoy.

My son, Efren, used to be a science nerd.  So on our first road trip together, we listened to The Martian.  A highly scientific book, that later, the movie didn’t even scratch the surface of.  On our latest road trip together, we listened to Danielle Steele’s Friends Forever.  A story about life long friends.  Efren, having a life long childhood friend, was naturally hooked on the story.

Last year, when we started out, I took a risk and played an audiobook on our RV test trip.  It too was a Danielle Steele.  Steve OK’d the book, more just to satisfy my need to read, as it quickly became evident that its impossible to read a book while towing.  Way too much tugging, something we soon became accustomed to.

When that first book ran out, I was surprised when Steve asked “What’s next?”  While driving, we explored different genres and listened to trailers.  Knowing Steve wouldn’t want to listen to another girly romance novel, although after 13 years of being together, he knows  full well my attraction to Danielle Steele novels.  I’ve even read one aloud to him on a previous road trip (not towing).  He needed to find a genre all his own and one that I’d enjoy too.

As it turns out, Steve and I are both “West Wing” fans.  We often fall into binging season after season, year after year.  We’ve long ago lost count how many times we’ve watched all 7 seasons, as we can each recite all the episodes word for word and enjoy the political drama that seems so relevant today.  Even more so during the Obama years, when it seemed to be the playbook.  Not surprising, the Clinton Administration consulted on BOTH the Bartlet and Obama administrations.  One of the little games we enjoy playing is seeing who can spot the first West Wing alumn in a movie or show… there is always AT LEAST ONE!  And if there are two… that’s a West Wing Reunion!  Amy Adams has the most reunions so far by our count.

We tip-toed through the legal thrillers, and of late, have come to really enjoy John Grisham.  His most recent releases feature famous B actors doing the readings – probably to stay working during Covid.

Imagine our great surprise, when we downloaded the latest John Grisham, narrated by none other then Mary-Louise Parker.  A favorited West Wing alumn.

Oops!  I think I may have turned Steve into a “reader”!!!