VW Bus Adventures — Kisatchie to Homochitto

We hope you enjoy The Journey into nature.  Fair Winds and Happy Travels!

.V.. (Peace) & Love,

GVR

Family Adventures

Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River —

It had been 30 years since he’d last seen the place, but my husband Nico insisted on taking Baby and I on a family adventure to see Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River.  I was a bit skeptical; picturing a run down, or shut down, remnant of what once had been a fun party place on the bend of the river.  Boy…!  Was I ever surprised!  –In a very good way.

I had already found myself quite charmed by the tiny ferry boat that had carried our crew of three across the ship channel, quite a ways inland and up the waterway from Galveston Island.  Able to carry not even 20 cars at a time, The Lynchburg Ferry was like stepping back in time, in a way.  Unlike the Bolivar Ferry — which we’ve ridden often — The Lynchburg Ferry looked a bit unstable at times, and traveled much slower than its much larger neighboring ferry (Bolivar Ferry).

So I snapped one-after-another photos of our crossing, and we were on our way…yet-again, down the road, searching for that place Nico had left in his past…until this day.  Bumping down the two lane road in our old VW Camper Bus, we stayed on the look-out for a sign…any sign, to let us know we’re heading in the right direction.  Then…we spotted it!  — Banana Bend…Just Ahead.  The sign said, in a nutshell; though Nico was going too fast for me to read the small print.

A few miles down the road, we came to an overpass that Nico didn’t remember ever seeing decades ago when he last visited Banana Bend.  So…we turned around and went back to the sign he’d sped past in such a hurry at last pass.  Sure enough, in small print, it had listed the street where we should have turned before.

Making our turn onto a much smaller road — a Farm to Market road — we continued on our adventure, searching…searching.  Then…there we were: facing two yellow kayaks planted vertically in the ground, reaching up into the sky, with a sign in the middle telling us we had arrived.

A nice little man was working the entrance gate, and let us in to look around since they were soon to close down for the day.  I felt like we had entered an island hide-away…on the river!  Palm trees everywhere, along with tiki palapas style cabanas and picnic tables.  And it was all so secluded, you’d never know it was there…unless someone told you.  I was thankful to Nico, for bringing us to such a charming island escape as Banana Bend.

And even though we were only able to stay for a short time before dark was beginning to fall and we had to head back and try to catch the last ferry, we had already began to plan a day trip to our new island escape (or escape from the island).  Having recent bouts of island fever, I know Banana Bend is just the place I’ve been needing all along.

*Here’s to new adventures, inland…and beyond!*

**NOTE to Families**  Recommended Family Days – Saturday/Sunday Afternoons & Weekdays (off-season): After careful research, it seems that BB is quite the party place during summer months and on weekends.  We visited late on a Saturday during the off-season, and all was peaceful and quiet.  It’s best to do your homework before visiting, to know of which events are taking place on any particular day or weekend.  Visit Banana Bend on Facebook.    

Reaching That Fork in the Road

Home on the Beach -- Galveston Island

Home on the Beach — Galveston Island

Today, I’m thoroughly enjoying the first Saturday Nico has had off in about a year or so.  Yes…we’ve somehow fallen back into a life of being ‘wage slaves’!  –Not what we had planned when we moved to the island.  Somewhere, we took a wrong turn, and…here we are.  Stuck in the mud…again!

So we’re once again standing at a fork in the road that will lead us to ‘the rest of our lives’.  –I rewind to 2010; back when we sold everything (save a few personal items that went to storage), bought our 71 VW Camper Van ‘Peniki’, and stepped out of the rat race.

Those were the times we cherish, to this day!  We wonder how did we get burdened down again, with bills, too much stuff.  Even though we no longer keep a storage, and live in less than 200 sq.ft of space.  I know we live small by most folks’ need for ‘necessities’.  I still feel we are ‘trapped’ in an endless…useless cycle of monotony.

On one hand, we have to earn a living.  The earnings from which go to endless expenses that get us nowhere.  The time I spend throughout the day is for Baby, teaching her…guiding her, cooking breakfast…lunch…dinner, cleaning, and a ton of piddle-y things that seemingly go unnoticed…for the most part.  Time with Baby and Hubby, is the best part of my day.  Though it isn’t always time well-enough spent.

My meaning of this, you ask?  Well, often times we’ll be side by side with someone, in the same room, the same dwelling, but we are not engaged with them.  We are all doing our own thing.  –Like right now…this very moment:  I sit writing, Baby is watching cartoons, and Nico is putting his time-in piddling around outside.  We are not together, but we are still so close.

Which brings me back to our vagabond days in Peniki.  We were so close in many ways–watching the world passing by at 55 mph, as we sat gazing (holding hands…Nico and I)…talking about everything we wanted to do and the things we had already done, the miles we’d covered.  I’d look back at our babyyounger then, and she’d be sleeping or looking around at everything that needed to be discovered.  –And, all was right with where we were, where we were headed.

Back then, if anyone had asked if I’d like to be anywhere else, I’d have truthfully, and quickly, answered “No.  This is where I’ve always wanted to be!  –On the road to discovery, bumping down the highway from place to place, seeing new faces, and experiencing new adventures.  My family by my side.”

These days, if someone were to ask the same question, I would undoubtedly have my answer as-to which fork in the road we should take.  Getting there, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.  The secret of life is that one thing, something different for everyone (from City Slickers).  It’s so simple, yet…it is so very difficult (to paraphrase a passage in Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit).  The fork we should choose in our road, I know, will be a very bumpy one.  The journey begins today.

Many Blessings & .V..

GVR

Boycotting the Power Grid

Our power was shut off today–just like that!  With the flip of a switch (or whatever they do to shut off power) everything went quiet.  Baby was watching Veggietales on VHS (Yes…!  We still watch those.  :  )P  ) and all-of-a-sudden, a quiet click…and silence.  She looked at me, and I just thought for a moment we had overloaded the breaker.  Then I realized, we were only running one little T.V. and the fridge.  That wouldn’t cause a shut down.

Then…I remembered that pink paper that had arrived in the mail about a week or so ago; the one that said we needed to pay our bill by such-and-such date, or ZAP!  –We’d be cut off.  Ooops!  Guess I forgot to note that little ‘pink slip’.  So…I located the oh-so-colorful notice, and…sure-enough, the last day to pay was…(YIKES) yesterday!  ‘Guess that might have had something to do with our lack of power.  :  /

In an instant, I was on the phone with a ‘robot customer service rep’; giving away most of the money we had left.   I was told our power would be back on between “…two hours time and midnight tonight.”  Oh well…!  Those are the breaks when you forget to pay the power piper.

Which brings me back to the instant after our power went off.  Most folks would feel quite defeated, upset, perhaps even come unglued.  Me…?  I felt a calmness, a peaceful feeling of quiet and comfort at the absence of that hum of being on the grid of power.  The feeling I had was akin to having a huge boulder (the burden of bills) being lifted off of my shoulders.  I sighed a relief in that very moment.

Explaining the sudden interruption of cartoons to my little-one took some persuading, but soon…we were outside, playing in the yard…rummaging around in Peniki.  I was wishing we were still living and traveling in our old hippie van.  I love that van…more than I’ve ever loved any material object!  I’m not sure why, other than she has saved us from homelessness several times.  She has hosted many afternoons of laughter, even a few tears, and reading in the quiet comforts of her fold down bed; the dim light powered by Mother Nature, and solar power (off the grid!).

I thought today, after the power shut down, about just how vulnerable we all are!  How we rely so completely on the grid of power, the water department, the gas company…and any others we succumb to on a monthly basis.  It makes me miss our vagabond days in Peniki, that much more.  I know it’s the wave of the future, going solar and such.  For a while now, I’ve felt there would be a paradigm shift towards a freer alternative to working to pay bills…just to work to pay bills…just to work, to pay bills.  It’s an endless cycle.  We all get snared.

Even still, I can’t stop thinking about how I responded to the cutting off of our power today.  It was a reality check, if-you-will.  –An insight into true freedom…and independence from working just to pay for stuff we really weren’t meant to have in the first place.  We’ve all gone soft!  And been forced to rely on something, for the sake of the vicious cycle.

Like the Native Americans, or natives of any land, we weren’t meant to live on the grid, get our pre-packaged food from the stores, pay others to build our homes…caravans…whatever abode we choose.  We, as able-bodied humans, were given all the necessary skills to nurture, so we…ourselves, could rely on we…ourselves. 

Though we are now backed into a corner, most of us.  Not only do we need gasoline to fuel our vehicles, but we also buy so many things that are manmade of artificial ingredients (plastic, instead of paper, driving instead of riding a bike (which is also made of plastics and such), or better-yet, going back to the horse and caravan (buggie) days.  I realize how much I alone, have contributed to the endless cycle of spinning our wheels to go nowhere but to work…to pay bills we were never really meant to have.

So, in a nutshell: I’m thinking even more now than ever before, about getting off the grid.  Instead of paying a monthly electric bill, have solar and wind power…along with sufficient batteries for power.  –Relying on natural burning fuel (propane canisters) for heat, cooking, and hot water.  –Using candles, oil lamps, and battery lighting to light our place after dark.

I know…!  Not quite off the grid, because we’d still be relying on plastics, artificial fuels and such.  Still, I know which way I’d like to go with being independent of utilities companies and bills.  I’m quite sure, in our day and age, it wouldn’t be allowed.  As the Good Book says, Man will dominate man to his own injury (to paraphrase).

As for me, I’ll take the ‘rough road’ any day.  I somehow feel, the path less taken is much more worth the effort and opposition I am likely to face along the way.  And I’ll take the peace and quiet of off-grid living, and the time (which no amount of money can buy back) I will have with my family…instead of working endless hours–a lifetime– to pay for the ‘so called’ easy life.  Nah..!  Not for meAnd I know I’m not alone on this.  The world is coming around.  I see it coming–soon…soon.

 

Land-Locked on Seaweed Island

One things for sure–us Nomadic Spirits rarely enjoy sitting still for long. There’s always someplace else calling us there…anywhere…any time of day, night…year. Sitting still is really getting this little ‘woman with wanderlust‘ to feeling low. But I keep telling myself, it’s for the good of remodeling our caravan home–Mermaid Mansion. She’s coming about quite nicely, I must admit to myself. Being stationary has had its ups; that’s for sure!

Though, on the other hand, it’s had its ‘downs’ as well. Such is life! And I know I’m babbling like a flooded brook, but sometimes this is my only outlet to shake the thoughts out of my crowded head: releasing it all out into the world for complete strangers–perhaps some friends–to read.

I write…! That’s what I do, And lately, I’ve been seriously working on photography. This month, I was ecstatic to have one of my nature shots featured in Galveston Monthly Magazine. I’ve since submitted more photos for consideration; I enjoyed it so much! It’s kinda got me hooked now, on sharing my photos and taking new and interesting photos of whatever I feel might be eye-catching.

So, I guess sitting still isn’t so bad after all! There are so many things I love about living on an island, but the seaweed is getting quite old; mounded up as high as the seawall, and smoldering to a terrible stink for locals and visitors (Poor visitors who actually spent money to get here!) to smell when we get anywhere near the beach. : / Though, on the bright side, I know it is just Mother Nature’s and Mother Ocean’s way of teaming up to cure all that man has made sick about the earth and ocean. I’m hoping we all don’t get burped right off the globe some day! It could happen!

And my garden, thanks to the very earth-friendly seaweed, has never been better! I swear–I’ve yet to see taller, healthier tomato plants…ever! Especially not in my own garden. But this year, after having lavished plenty of seaweed and compost on my bare garden patch last winter, my little caravan kitchen garden is super productive.

So, like any Gypsy-at-heart, Nomadic wanderer, I am beginning to preserve my Blessings from Mother Earth…and Mother Ocean (seaweed). After all, I must be ready with an abundance of provisions, for the day we hit the road. To where we go, could be anyone’s guess! The journey is always the best part.

But that leaves us with one more dilemma–whether to go by land…or by sea. I think I hear the ‘clanking of the mast’, the whipping of the sails, and a whisper from the wind…calling my name from somewhere afar!

*Where does a woman with Wanderlust go…?  Everywhere her heart leads.*

Going Inland

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So…we went inland for the Easter holiday, to see family in La Porte.  Funny how we’ve blended into the weave of fellow IBC’s (Islanders by Choice) here on our Gulf Coastal Island home.  Even still, we long for the water, the rocking back and forth of our sailboat, the clinking of the masts in the wind.  We visited with a local marina the day after Easter, after we got back to the island from a second trip to La Porte in two days because Nico left his phone at his Mom’s the day before.  I have to admit, that day was a good one: lunching with Nico’s dad (the baby’s only living Grandpa), the lolly-gag-of-a-drive back to the island, the visit to the marina…and the smell of the water…down along the slips.

My wanderlust is really getting to me these days, and I miss our sailboat more and more.  If not this year, since we just can’t bring ourselves to sell our old girl, I think next year we’ll certainly be bringing our boat to her new island home.  For now, Nico and I are still working on new tunes for Gypsy Vin Rose, and getting ready to start touring…again.  Gigs…?  Well, that’s another story.  If only we could get around the little problem of ‘no sitter’ and no room for another passenger (Grandma) in the Peniki van, we’d be good to go.

For now, I continue to write songs, and work on getting my voice back after a long battle with the crud.  Honing my mandolin skills, while continuing to remodel our old Gypsy Caravan and Island home Mermaid Mansion is the way I’ve been spending my days lately.  That…and going to the beach almost every day, if we’re not biking to Nixi’s favorite play park, has become our Island way-of-life.  I can’t complain, though I sure do miss the smell of our boat, and the cold spray of water splashing up onto the deck as we cut through the waves…sailing into the sunset.

I guess you could say I’m kind of ‘sea sick’, though in an entirely different way.  I miss the water, instead of being sick from it.  :  )  So for now, I’ll just remember-when, and continue to work on decorating Mermaid Mansion.  This week…I’m sewing new couch cushions.  And I must admit, I am so very proud of the way our old caravan is ‘coming about’!  Next up…sewing a custom quilt for Nixi.  I have the kewlest Hippie Van fabric I bought from Ebay, which I’ll pair with a flower child sort-of print.  I can hardly wait to see how it turns out!  I’ll post pics for anyone who wants to see how it all comes together.

For now, I think I’ll get back to my stitch-witchery, and making my vintage trailer a comfortable island home.  Cheers to all who read my scribblings, and Blessings to those of you who comment.  :  )  And…Fair Winds to all you salty Sailors and deep-sea Pirates out there.  May you find true happiness…just over the horizon.

.V..

Cap'n Nico

Cap’n Nico

Nixi Down Below in the Galley

Nixi Down Below in the Galley

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Getting Underway

Getting Underway

Relaxing Down Below With Some Cartoons

Relaxing Down Below With Some Cartoons

Sunset Sails

Sunset Sails

Me at the Helm = Bliss!

Me at the Helm = Bliss!