We hope you enjoy The Journey into nature. Fair Winds and Happy Travels!
.V.. (Peace) & Love,
We hope you enjoy The Journey into nature. Fair Winds and Happy Travels!
.V.. (Peace) & Love,
— Living Big…and Traveling Small —
Key West Road Trip in a VW Westfalia: In our second stretch of the journey to Florida, we stopped at beautiful Kisatchie National Forest in central Lousiana. We hope our adventures inspire you and your family to live on the simple side of life.
Love & .V.. (Peace) to You and Yours!
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.
It seems to me that there’s been a spike in popularity when it comes to folks wanting to mimic the Gipsy way of life. Well, let me just say; it looks pretty and all (the clothing styles, the caravans painted bright exotic colors) from the outside looking in, but in reality, it’s a very hard-fought way of life. I cannot claim to be a Gipsy by origin , though we’ve been referred to as-such many times (hence the name Gypsy Vin Rose).
I can however, resonate with the way of life: moving often, though not as often as one might like, for lack of money (no residual income or retirement to keep us going); doing anything…everything to make a living (which often includes salvaging items from curbsides to sell…or selling aluminum/metal, thus saving it from the landfills); playing music for measly tips and meager offerings of passersby…but performing or playing for the love of music; living in a trailer (though many frown-down their noses at such living arrangements); shying away from many situations where crowds or socializing is involved (most Gypsies like to keep to themselves); overcoming the pressures to conform to societal molds; persecution for not being, or living, like everyone else; homeschooling of children, to keep them from the influences of others; being seen as outcasts by many mainstreamers, though they all want to act like Gypsies.
I could go on and on, when it comes to how actually living like…or being a Gipsy is different from just saying you are a Gypsy. Most folks are just full of a lot of hot air, though very few want to make the sacrifices or give up their luxury autos or 2 story brick monstrosities, nor do they want to scrounge for a living or live small in a trailer. They do, however, have no problem with saying they are Gipsy and dressing the part for their own image-appeal.
One thing that comes to my mind when I do see so many trying to play the part is: if you’re going to talk about it…try being about it. It’s not an easy way of life when you don’t have thousands to spend on travel, and you feel the need to keep on the move to avoid persecution. That is the Gipsy way of life.
I just wanted to share. Agree or disagree. It is….what it is.
Blessings & .V..
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.
Sometimes we take the smallest things for granted in life, including ‘life’ itself. But in the end, if a lesson has been learned, we find that the simpleness of living is priceless. This is what I’ve come to find since we up-rooted from my hometown of Fort Worth, and relocated to Gulf-Coastal Texas. It has been a long road to plow (as my dear Mother used to put it), but I find now that our ‘garden’ (the garden that is life) is beginning to come-in quite nicely.
It all began the day we pulled out of Jamaica Beach RV Resort; happy to be leaving the paved-but-posh confines of the best RV park on Galveston Island. (Our opinions…and we’re sticking to it!) I have to admit, our past experiences with campgrounds has left us with a bitter taste for such surroundings. JBRV would have to be an exception…if you ask me.
Either way, and even though we would miss the hot tub, laundromat, pool…playground, and the charming little Seven Seas Grocery just across the road, we remained hopeful that we’d be well-on-our-way to actually gaining a semi-permanent address on Galveston Island. The Blessings we’ve been met with since that day have been abundant. We have been at our island home ever since; being lucky to have a very understanding landlord who knows what it means to start from the bottom and work your way up. He has become somewhat of a friend since we’ve gotten to know him better. He has also taken Nico under his wing by teaching him a trade that my husband had never-before learned. It brings to mind a saying I hold close to my thoughts: We never stop learning until we are no more.
So there we were– we had a place…but not entirely. Our very understanding landlord had taken a chance on us–renting us a lot, even though I know we appeared a rogue bunch. We had made a deal that if we could rent the place ‘temporarily’, and set up Camp Peniki, we’d be hard-at-it to find a better-suited living quarters…to keep up appearances mostly, since we’d live in our old Campervan full-time if society allowed. Had it just been us (Nico and I), we would still be out there…giving in to Wanderlust. But most vandwelling souls with little n’s find out the hard way–like we have–that we really aren’t free after all when it comes to the way we are ‘allowed’ to live or be.
So…we had a limited time to find a larger place to put on our really great lot…with a priceless view of the sunset…out over the bayou. I set to work searching and combing the internet, selling everything we didn’t need in storage to raise the money for our new home. Two weeks later, with half of our belongings sold and our storage half empty, we were on our way to get our new/old place: a vintage caravan in major need of some love. Perhaps it was the way I had called and called the man to see if our ‘home’ was still there (I had already claimed it in my mind). Maybe it was the desperation in my voice (I’ve never been very subtle with my emotions). I guess I’ll never truly know. All I do know is that he (the seller) took pity on us and ended up knocking $200 bucks off the price when we showed up with cash-in-hand. It’s a very good thing too, cause without that extra money…we wouldn’t have made it back to Galveston with our new place.
I know I’m just one of the numerous folks who believes that Blessings often come in disquise. This was so true for us when it came to getting our caravan-home…home. More than 24 hours later we finally pulled into our lot with what would become a full-time remodeling job. As that day before had gone, we’d suffered a major blow out in Liberty, Texas…right in front of a church, where the pastor had just arrived, on Memorial Day weekend. Due to the holiday and the late hour, no tire shops were open anywhere near the small town. The nice preacher man Blessed us with the offering of allowing us to park our travel trailer there…safely in the church parking lot for the evening. We all headed back to my Mother-in-law’s to stay the night, with hopes that we’d find a place to buy some spare trailer tires on a holiday Sunday. It’s great to know people when you are in a desperate state to do business when everyone else is on vacation or just off work.
Thank God we have good family to help us pull heavy things our old VW Van can’t; nice folks who know Nico’s family back in his home town; nice sellers on C List who don’t mind taking less and giving more to a family who was in need of a place to call home. And even though it has been a steady stream of remodeling our badly damaged and neglected caravan, I can honestly say…”It sure is a great feeling to actually ‘own’ our home. Bought and paid for; it may be small and not so pretty to some, but to us…it’s perfect!
It’s all in how you look at things. From where I’m sitting, this place is really coming around. I’ll gladly be sharing photos of our remod when the time is right. I hope it inspires some family…somewhere, to step off the crazy train of keeping up with the Jones’s, and live within (or below) their means. We are so-very glad we made that leap!
Blessings your way, from our Vagabond family to yours!
Just a few months ago…we pulled into Galveston with everything we owned in a 17 foot U-Haul truck, and Peniki (our old Hippie van) safely strapped on a car trailer. We were high on hope and full of dreams; we were. Arriving at around 3 am, we found an out-of-the-way spot on the seawall, crawled up into our old VW on the car-hauler…and fell in ‘til morning. We’d be heading over later to unload all of our stuff into our 10×15 storage unit that we’d pre-arranged weeks ahead of our move.
So there we were, soundly sleeping…exhausted and happy to finally be in Galveston. For several years we’d been trying to make a move. For several years we’d been locked in the rent-race and living paycheck to paycheck; never enough money to save or travel. Finally…we were really newbie transplants to the island—we were finally islanders.
“Yes…!” I said to myself as I awoke that morning to the sunrise out over the Gulf of Mexico. It hadn’t all just been a dream after-all. Baby was still soundly sleeping beside me. Nico was next to her, still snoring away. I knew he was road-weary after pulling such a rig for hundreds of miles. I let them both sleep while I sat there and watched the sun come up. It was beautiful! Just as I’ve always thought the sunrise is astounding, this one seemed even better than I’d ever witnessed. Perhaps it was because we had actually made the move and were trying to let it sink-in that we were in Galveston to stay and build our lives and a business; raise a child too. It was a dream…coming to reality.
So, for a while…I just sat there, mesmerized by the moment that was my here-and-now. I had no clue how it would all play-out: our establishing ourselves as islanders, our business launch, where we’d end up setting roots and living—in my father-in-law’s motorhome, was the initial plan—who we’d meet along the way, would we be met with success or failure. I had so many questions that would have to go unanswered…for the time-being. I wondered too if we’d find a way to get our music out there to the local music scene and start establishing ourselves as musicians more thoroughly in G-Town than we ever had in the city. I was left to wonder so many things. I would just have to wait and see.
Having enjoyed some quiet time to be alone with my thoughts, it wasn’t long before Nico was awake and back behind the wheel of the U-Haul truck; we had a busy day ahead of us…we knew. Me and Baby just stayed sleeping inside Peniki while Nico pulled us a little ways down Seawall and around the corner to Taco Cabana; we were starving and needed to carve out a plan for the day. Coffee…! That was all I cared about at the time. I needed some java-juice and I needed it quick!
A little while later, I was enjoying my black coffee…along with some really delicious bean and cheese tacos that tasted much better than I ever remembered them tasting before; even when we’d have them back in the Fort. We scoped out the goings-on of our first morning as islanders: noticing that for everyone else, it was just another day. The hustle and bustle—be-it at a slower pace—the tourists arriving or departing the island, the huge dinosaur-of-an-outdated-motorhome sitting a short distance away from us in the Randall’s parking lot. I wondered about the occupants of that motorhome for some crazy reason: were they new to the island, had they just gotten here or been here for a while? To this day, I still don’t know why I gave them a second thought.
Funny…the things I wonder and think about! I scare myself at times. And while I couldn’t actually know about what was going on for other folks, I knew for us, it was the start of a different life; one we’d been trying to transition to for quite some time. We just sat there and enjoyed ourselves and the down-time we knew wouldn’t last once we got to storage. It was a morning that will forever stand-out in my memory as the day we arrived; when Galveston made islanders of former city folks. We so-welcomed the change.
I guess when you have no where to be at any given time, you lose all track of the hours, days, weeks…months. That’s pretty much how we had been until we drove back across the Texas state line. Even if we did enjoy our drive on the biways of Tejas, we realized with each mile we came closer to home, that our journey would soon be ending and we’d once again be back in the rat-race.
Some years back, I finally realized that me and the rat race…don’t mix. People are always in a hurry, they cut you off; even flip you off at times, and they really have no good reason to race to the finish line. We’ll all have our day at the finish line. I’m in no hurry to get there. Which is why our old girl Peniki is the perfect mode of transportation for our little family.
I swear, that old VW can get around town just fine, but she has to go at her own speed. Being a classic Volkswagen Westfalia, I’d like to think our van has earned seniority in mileage. Either way, she got us back home…safe and sound.
So many miles we had traveled, and by the end of the day…we were pulling into Fort Worth. I could hardly wait to see my kids, even though I was already missing the travel…and the next destination; knowing we’d no longer be spending our nights in Peniki. I was sad for that.
It wasn’t long after our return that we settled back into the old routine, but our journey was still fresh on our minds. We knew we would have to go again, but we didn’t know quite when.
Here we are, almost 2 years later, and the wanderlust is swelling up inside of us both, though we realize we have responsibilities and Baby is now older with a mind of her own. It was so easy when she was in her playpen. We could set up camp while she played safely in her space.
Now, she wanders everywhere and is like a little octopus with too many hands in too many things. But, she comes by that honestly. Nico and I are both exploring spirits with curious minds as well. And there is still so much more to explore.
*Live The Life You Love*
— Free Camping at Rest Stops —
It’s funny how scenes, places, conversations, and miles-traveled can all turn into one big blur after a full day on the road. Leaving Natchez Trace Parkway and Rocky Springs Campground was the highlight of this particular stretch for home. Booking it as fast as our old VW Van could travel; topping speeds of 60 mph at times, we made it across the Mississippi state line to Louisiana in one jaunt, and many miles and hours later we found ourselves once again on Texas soil…just barely.
After surrendering my former belief that folks just shouldn’t sleep at Travel Stops or Rest Stops, we bunkered down for the night in our camper van; exhausted and glad to be so close to home. Even if we hadn’t wanted to leave the Florida Keys, the one’s we’d left behind back home insured our return. One thing we know, looking back on it all, is that we knew the place to where we were returning…was surely not where we’d stay.
*Let your heart roam, let your spirit be…like the child you used to see*
‘Took off early–7:30 am–for once. Heading back to Hwy 84 from 65 Interstate; hoping to make it to Mississippi today. *NOTE * There are No places to camp along 84 East to West in Alabama! Only one State Park and one National Forest…that we’ve come across.
We managed to make it down to Natchez Trace Parkway to Rocky Springs Campground. This drive was one of the best of our trip! The speed limit was 55 all the way, no big trucks allowed, and the scenery left me in awe. I look forward to making this drive in it’s entirety someday.
Also, for the record, Rocky Springs Campground is one of the best, cleanest, most peaceful places we’ve camped. Besides being a FREE SPOT (Yes…I said Free) where you can stay put for up to 2 weeks, it is peaceful, roomy, and has plenty of room to set up camp, ride bikes, hike the rough terrain within the grounds, or just build a fire in the ring. Being surrounded by wilderness, it’s hard to believe the Ranger Station is within walking distance, and the restrooms provide showers and sufficient toilets. The water spigot by the restrooms might be the only place to draw water nearby (since there aren’t spigots by the campspots) but at least you can’t beat the price or the serenity of nature.
We loved, loved. LOVED Rocky Springs Campground on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Highly recommended!!!
It’s a beautiful Autumn morning here at the Sailing Club; I’ve been walking along the shore admiring all of nature’s bounty in the trees…filled with pinecones just waiting to fall; the shrubs brimming with berries of red…purple…blue.
I’ve already polished off my first cup o’ joe…and I’m hankering for another. Little Blanca, our bratty schnauzer, didn’t mind me sharing my cold tamale with her; we both like ’em that way.
I hear another dog—not qute as content as my little dog laying quietly beside my chair—barking off in the distance…over across the cove. I feel the breeze brushing my hair, the sun on my face. I hear the wind rustling the leaves on the half-bare trees, the waves lapping ashore. And all is right in my world.
Nico and Baby sleep soundly inside our old camper van, though I know I don’t have much longer to be alone with my thoughts. I think I hear a rustling inside…baby is now waking. My morning is fast-turning into day. I sigh a farewell to peaceful morning.
Blessings to all this Sunday.
‘Pulled out of St. Joseph’s Peninsula at around 1:30 or so, headed West on Scenic 98 to 71 North. We’re planning to visit the Southern Tip of Georgia before we head home on El Camino 84 to Texas 287. That’s the plan anyway.
We ended up at a rest stop off of Interstate Highway 65 at 1 AM in the morning. Ugh! ‘Drove all night, but we didn’t want to pay the $$$ on a room for just a few hours of sleep. So…after stopping numerous times at various motels–and trekking out to the ONLY (what seemed like it) National Forest in Alabama, we settle for a nice…much safer, rest stop. It was the best choice, and one we should’ve made much earlier in the evening.
*What I Learned* Sleeping at rest stops isn’t half as bad as I suspected. Guess it pays to listen to Nico sometimes; as much as I hate to admit it. lol
‘Pulled out around 11 am and headed North on 301/27/441, we will take 441 N/W when we see it and hopefully hit 98. *Camped at St. Joe Peninsula last night. I met a nice Mother-Daughter (Rebecca & Nicole) camping team, set up right beside us in a Classic Serro Scotty Vintage Travel Trailer. I loved their rig as much as they loved ours!
We sat up ’til way into the early morning….laughing and talking, tossing back a few cold ones, just having girl time. Lucky for me, Nico is great with Baby….so I kinda had the night off. Come to find out, they are Florida ladies. I exchanged emails with Rebecca so we can keep in touch.
*About St. Joe*
Beautiful beach. Had Fun fun fun! Watched a show-stopping sunset! We hope to return someday soon. Loved the beach and company, though the sites are really close together and very hard to get. I’d definitely make reservations for out next visit.