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.

 

A Visit With Santa On The Strand in Galveston

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Yesterday, we finally broke-away from the remodeling chaos, and took Baby down to the Strand District…here on Galveston Island.  It was her very first ‘Claus Encounter’, and it went really well.  But…I think Daddy might’ve embarrassed her just a little.  ;  )

It’s a rarity these days, for us to get out-and-about–I hate to admit–and just see the sites that our new hometown has to offer.  The cost of such an afternoon?  Nada!  Which is about all we have to spend after Christmas shopping.  Still, I have to say, our little tour of Downtown Galveston, and the Santa Claus photo shoot with Baby and Gypsy Vin Rose, was a huge success!

Next  year, Santa…we’ll see ya again!  Same time…same place!  And we promise, we’ll be good in 2014.

Blessings to All this Christmas…New Years…and Always!

.V..

Ringing in the New Year…on the Sands of Time

Memories of one New Year, spent on the Sands of Time.

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Fort Worth Events

Fun things to do Year-Round in Cowtown!  Enjoy!!!

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Shopping in Key West

*Journal Entries from Summer 2011*

Day 20-Something (We’ve lost track by now):

Okay…!  So we’d planned on heading on in to Key West today; check it out and see what it’s all about.  Long-about noon time,  we cruised over Cow Key Channel and there we were: In the Famed Key of Keys!  I snapped pic after pic of anything…everything my shutter could capture.

It didn’t take us long to see that it was a very busy little island.  Taking the right path where it splits (A1A goes left, Hwy 1 goes right) we ended up in traffic!  Yuk…traffic!!  Of all places in the world, I never expected such hustle and bustle on Key West.  But there we were; one red light after another, waiting…waiting, to see what all the fuss is about.  Still, we weren’t seeing it.

Finding our way to the Publix Market, there were bikes everywhere out front: That was different than anything we’d seen back in Texas or along the way.  A nice change of pace, I thought to myself.  We parked and went in for a few necessities, and plenty of libations for T.J.’s barbecue later that evening.

I must admit, the view across the street from Publix was like seeing night and day; Publix was ‘Blah’…the Gulf side Marina was very inviting.  I saw houseboats everywhere!  I wanted to go live on one of them.  Nico and I dreamed of what it would be like to float around in our houseboat, without a care in the world; singing…playing music, writing songs all day or night.  The vision was nice while it lasted; thanks to the hectic frenzy inside Publix.

The energy in there was all bad!  The people were as crazy as back home; the vibes I felt from one woman were barely short of evil.  She was in a very bad mood and didn’t do much to hide it.  I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there!   We decided to avoid Publix after that.  I was rather taken-aback by the ‘feel’ of the place and the people in it.  Publix is definitely a place I’d NOT recommend in Key West.

So…after that ‘experience’ at Publix, we decided to check out the other side of the island before heading back to Sugarloaf Key.  It was a very refreshing change from the commerce side of Key West: hotels, seawall, beaches, miles of sidewalks for riding…running…walking.  I loved the other side of Key West!  Now this…I definitely would recommend.  When you visit Key West, take the left turn…not the right.  You’ll be glad you did!

After a brief tour of the ‘lighter’ side of life on Key West, we spent the rest of our day back on Sugarloaf; kicking back a few brewskies and prepping to mosy down to T.J.’s for some laid-back fun on Lazy Lakes’ peaceful freshwater lake.

The evening was filled with fun, good food, singing and playing our music.  I do believe, after that night, T.J. is our biggest fan!  He shared a lot of insider secrets to entertaining on Key West.  To hear him tell it, we needed to share our songs at the Sunset Celebration that goes on nightly over on KW.  It was fun to imagine, but we weren’t quite sure we were ready to join the ranks of street performers.  But, time would tell!  If it was left up to our new friend, I knew we’d soon be braving the crowds on Mallory Square.  It was an exciting thought!

 

Three Weeks in the Florida Keys

Day 2 on Sugarloaf Key:

For us…this morning was a new beginning.  The light of day had brought with it a better view of Lazy Lakes Campground and the clear water lake beside us.  More of our new neighbors stopped for a friendly ‘hello’ and to tell a few tales of their younger days when they either owned or knew someone who’d owned a Hippie Van like Peniki.  Still, we seemed to be frowned-down-upon by the more ‘uppity’ clan of big-riggers; the ‘old codgers’ I call them.

All in all, the folks at LL are turning out to be a pretty warm bunch of retirees, part time beach bums, or full time ‘conchs’ as they so lovingly refer to native residents or transplant natives of The Florida Keys.  Again, our new friend T.J. happened by on his bicycle…on his way down to a little store called Kickin Back, a mile or so down Overseas Highway.  Being the nice person he is, he asked if we needed anything while he was there.  Lucky for us, we were well packed, and at that time only needed to buy more ice for our ice box.  The campground office sells ice and is really laid back on when campers pay.  Like I said, Lazy Lakes is just the place to go for a relaxing vaca in the Keys.

For most of our first full day on Sugarloaf Key, we’ve lolly-gagged about on our bikes with baby in tow, met a few more nice locals, and relaxed for the first time in days; got a little fishin’ in too.  We ended our day with a few brewskies by our trusty old VW Van, overlooking the myriad of fish from the ‘backyard’ of our new place in the Keys; however temporary it might be.

Tomorrow will be a busy day when, in addition to the barbecue we’ve been invited to at T.J.’s, we will head in to check out Key West, pick up a few more groceries and supplies…and see how the local ‘Conchs’ live.  I can hardly wait!

Travels: A VW Westy & Hippies at Heart

Day 22 In the Florida Keys:

Woke up….packed up a partially set-up camp, deciding to leave and explore Key Largo.  Gotta find a WiFi signal soon.  A little while later, stopped at a little sandwhich shop near the Publix Market and used the internet there.  We met a few nice folks–Kim the shop clerk and Brent the owner of the shop.  I got Kim’s FB info and we decided to keep in touch.

Had initially planned on heading to Big Pine Key to camp for a few days; at least until we went and checked the only available spot at Breezy Pines RV Campground.  It was a ‘no go’ there!  Bad energy and too many shady looking characters.  We ventured further down…closer to Key West, even though it was late in the day.  I’m glad to say, after much fear we would end up w/o a spot for the night, we landed at Lazy Lakes on Sugarloaf Key.  This is a happy and peaceful place to be.  Love it here!

Road Trip in a Hippie Van to the Florida Keys


Day 21: Leaving Sebastian Inlet, Headin’ to the Florida Keys–

Up by 8:30 or 9ish, ‘did laundry and packed up the van for the final stretch of our Peniki adventure road trip.  ‘Got on the road late b/c we had hot dogs and good conversation with our neighbors Eddy and Suzanne.  Nice People!  We’ll have to keep in touch.

‘Thinking we’d head straight for Key Largo today; per a tip from Eddy, we decided to  take the Toll Road straight on down and by-pass Miami this time around.  I had really had my heart set on seeing Hollywood Florida, but our new friend Eddy said it’s just a lot of hype, souvenir shops and the like.  Still, I want to see it…someday.

Visited the ATM, bought diapers and wipes, fueled up the van and we went in search of Florida’s Toll Road.  In the end, the toll road proved to be way too fast-paced for our old classic VW.  I was a mess when it came to nerves, but Captain Nic kept it steady and calm; even when we thought we might get mowed down by the crazy drivers who aren’t still stuck in the 70’s…goin’ 55 mph.  :  )  The left side service station exits, right off the ‘fast lane’ really didn’t help our case any at all. At one point, some flaming idiot came past in a fury, yelling some stupid shit!  I wanted to catch up to him and put the Whoopass on him….but the van never could catch the maniac.  LMAO

Finally, after hours and many miles of chaos on the toll road, we rolled in to Key Largo at about 9 pm or so, quickly found a campsite (as fast as we possibly could anyway), and ended up at The Key Largo Campground and Marina…just off Overseas Highway and within walking distance to Publix.  We paid WAY too much for the lot w/ a water view, but at last….we had arrived.  A BIG sigh of relief fell over our camp and ourselves as we went about constructing a partial set-up for the night.

Camp was finally put together and we were more than ready for bed by about midnight.  Luckily, the baby slept through it all.  ‘Will see tomorrow what this place looks like; if it is worth the $$$ we spent, though I doubt it is.

All in all, it had been a pretty good day’s travels.  Peniki had taken us all the way to the Florida Keys and God had blessed us in so many ways.

*Remembering* Nico met a nice man from Haiti who was working at the Key Largo Burger King.  I remember thinking of how much farther he had traveled to a new land, by comparison to our own travels.  I thought to myself: If this brave man can come all this way and make it work, we should be able to as well.  I dared to dream.

VW Westfalia Family Road Trip — Hippies at Heart


Day 20–Mother’s Day:  Flagler Beach to Sebastian Inlet SP

Mother’s Day today!  Woke up around 9:00 or so to a beautiful sunny day on Florida’s East Coast.  Lovely ocean waves in the distance; I can barely hear them from our campsite at Flagler Beach’ Gamble Rogers State Rec Area.  We really do like it here.  The facilities are nice, with clean restrooms right across from us, and a laundry facility as well.  I can see the Atlantic Ocean from our temporary front yard.  ;  )

Nico cooked breakfast, made some coffee and fed Baby too.  Flagler is a very inviting place, but I think we’ve decided to press onward.  We were up and gone by noon, but in our travels, we’ve discovered that A1A Highway along the Atlantic Coastline, is NOT a friendly road!  We were going the speed limit of 55 mph, but cars were still idiotically passing on the wrong side of a skinny two lane road…with no shoulder to pull over if needed.  Crazy Drivers!  We escaped A1A as quickly as possible, and opted to take Highway 1 on down from Ormond Beach.  The SP there was nice, but still not the best we’ve seen.

Stopped near Daytona for drinks/ice/gas, and decided to head for Sabastian Inlet SRA.  [Note to Self: Daytona…YUK!  No Go There Again!]  A little while later, there we were at a nice campsite across from the Gulf side of Florida, watching the sun set over the water.  ‘Met a nice couple from Jacksonville–Eddy and Suzanne Shores–camped out next to us at Sebastian Inlet.  But we quickly realized that the Park Hosts really ‘STINK’ there!

Travelling with Baby in a VW Hippie Van

We travel for up to 6 months out of the year, and more often if we’re lucky.  Part-time living/traveling with our little one in Peniki, our Vintage VW Westfalia, is what life is all about for our family.  For us…it’s the way to go!

Here’s a little story that was recently published on Green RV Living, about how we roll…and live PT Off the Grid.  God Bless and Happy Travels!

*Peace!*

http://cheapgreenrvliving.com/Family_IN_VW_Bus

Travels: A VW Westy & Hippies at Heart

Day 18: Econfina River State Park from St. George Island

 

Pulled out of St. George at around 12:30 PM on Friday.  We said goodbye to Rob West; our nice camphost from Pennsylvania.  ‘Found an island grocery market and a ATM, then stopped-off at a little roadside seafood stand and bought the day’s catch directly from the fisherman who’d caught it that morning. What we bought:

1 lb shrimp, 2 lbs red snapper filets, 2 crab cakes.  Yum!  I’d be cooking the cakes later on down the road, along with the shrimp, and the fish I planned to save and cook the next day since it was frozen.

While at the seafood stand, we met a nice man, a retired college professor.  He loved the van!  : ))  We love St. George Island!  …hate to leave.  We both agree we could live quite happily on Saint George Island.  Never know…maybe some day!

*Beautiful drive along coastal 98 headed East, as we were leaving the long bridge to/from St. George.*

We stopped at an IGA in Carrabelle, FL for groceries and stuff.  The ladies at the store were really nice and helpful.  You don’t see that everyday!  *Cute little town, that Carrabelle!  I took pics of a kewl wooden boat-bar.  Love it!!  We wanted to stop, but we had to forge ahead.

Refueled in Pancea while down the road, and had every intention of going on to our desired destination, but considering the time-of-day and how tired we were, we decided to camp for the night at Econfina River State Park.  Come to find out, there were no campsites at the park, so we found a rural spot at a private compground up the road and secured a spot for $17.  Not too bad!  And the primitive site was very secluded and lush with Palmettos and Palms…and that scary Spagnum Moss hanging from the trees.  It reminds me of the Scooby-Doo mysteries every time I see it. Lol  This trip, we’ve seen it a lot too.

*Nice old bald man (The ‘old bald man’ part…his words, not mine.  lol) named Ron, who we met back at Econfina while asking for directions, loaned me some sunblock/bug repellent called ‘Cactus Juice’.  It comes from Texas!  hahaha  Good stuff!  We used a little then returned it to the store nearby, per his request, the next day before we pulled out.  He said he knew the folks there at the store and they’d hold it til he came in the next fishin trip…that next weekend more than likely. : )

We cooked the shrimp from St. George on the open fire-pit that night.  It was delicious!  Once we turned in, we had a bit of a scare when we heard some goings-on outside our camp.  Blanca had been fixated by something out in the woods all day since we’d arrived.  Nico went out (I begged him not to, but…you know men) to see what it was, but seemed rather spooked when he came back in.  He said what ever it was, it was circling our campsite, was very heavy…and very fast.  Needless to say, he stayed in after that.  ; )

Obviously we made it through the night, or I guess you wouldn’t be reading this.  Haha  It had been a good day…all in all.  Many…many Blessings!

A Volkswagen Westy & Hippies at Heart: Saint George Island, Florida


Day 17:

Had breakfast and got ready for a nice day at St. George Island Beach.  ‘Loaded up the bike trailer to the limit, and we were off!  Fun…fun day!  ‘Found a Pirate’s Booty of seashells!  Yayahhhh!!!

Headed back to camp and started a campfire to grill Bratwurst sausages.  While the fire was stoking, I headed out to buy ice from the camp-hosts and ended up meeting Rob’s wife Anne.  Nice lady!  We ended up chatting for over an hour and meeting other passersby out walking their dogs.

Later that night, Nico played guitar for Nixi and we settled in…after showers.  It had been a good…good day.  Lovin’ every minute of St. George Isle!  No words to describe…

A VW Westfalia & Hippies at Heart: Grayton Beach to St. George Island, Florida


Day 16:

Met a nice couple from Gainesville, FL this morning who bought a copy of our CD (First one sold!!  Yay!!!).  Huck told us that he’s a native of New York State and his wife Leah is from Colorado.  They had two sons, and they were there at Grayton Beach SP on a family camping trip.  Nice people!  I hope they keep in touch.

We finally hit the road at around 2 PM (Ugh!!), leaving Grayton Beach headed East on 98.  It was a nice drive with no complications.  Yay!!  ‘Arrived at St. George Island State Park after passing over a three-mile-long bridge and snapping a few pics of the lighthouse there on St. George.  While we were stopped at the Ice Machine, an older couple pulled up in a golf cart wanting to snap a pic of us; the Hippies in the VW Van.  Too Kewl!

Arriving at SGI SP, we paid for a couple nights and set to work on camp.  ‘Met camp-host Rob West from Pennsylvania while buying firewood for our campfire-to-be.  Settled in for the night after setting up rig and cooked a bit on the fire.  Turned in at a reasonable time…for a change, but didn’t get much sleep (for a good reason, this time).  Nico and I made up for lost time.  Yayah!

Not bad for a day’s work!  We were lovin’ St. George Island so far.

A VW Westfalia & Hippies at Heart: Grayton Beach State Park


Day 15: 

Finally…time to sit still and enjoy the beach.  We paid for 2 nights, and boy…was I ever glad we did.  Nico loved it at Grayton as well.  The beach was a wonder of white sand and perfect waves.  We surfed as much as we possibly could on a surfboard with ‘no wax’!  Whoooaaa!  Slippery when wet!  Lemme tell ya!  But…even still, we had a blast being kids again!  It seems having a little one in our forties has brought a bit more of the kid out in the both of us.  Gotta love that!

Even though this particular day was rather a blur of fun, surfing, exploring, biking to the beach and around the park and such; even a bit of foraging for wild blackberries…growing beside the park road, it was just what the doc ordered.  By day’s end, I actually felt fulfilled and rested…all in one.  And while Nico had gone to take a shower, and baby slept soundly beside me, I found my Zen and wrote a song; singing the tune into my Zoom recorder…just so I wouldn’t forget what had come to me.  It’s an upbeat…beachy…reggae-ish kind of islandy sound.  I can hardly wait to get the music right on it so we can record.  The day was  a success…if only for that reason, though there were so many more reasons for a girl/Mom/Wife to feel blessed.

Happy…Happy Day at Grayton Beach State Park.  A wonderful place to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  I know we will visit again.

A Volkswagen Westfalia & Hippies at Heart: Big Lagoon to Grayton Beach S.P.


Day 14: 

Up by 8 AM, I fed Nixi and put on a Dora DVD.  Nico took down the drive-away tent while I made an Italian Omelet and some coffee.  We enjoyed our breakfast, packed it all up and were on the road by noon.  We’re getting better at this!  I realized.

Quite a few hours and miles later, we decided to stop-short of our intended destination and camp for the night at Grayton Beach State Park.  And while we weren’t quite sure we liked our spot when we pulled in, we settled in for the night in the very last spot they had (last-minute cancellation), right by the bathrooms/showers.  We’d explore the next day, and see what discoveries lay in store.

The park was quiet, even with neighbors close-by.  So far…at that point, it was looking like a good place.  We started a campfire and cooked some ‘dogs’…sat back and relaxed.  It had been a long…hot day, but a good one still.

A Volkswagen Westy & Hippies at Heart: Ferry to Mobile Bay, AL

 

Day 12:

Had brekkie on Dauphin Island, picked up camp and was gone by noon.  We had to catch the Ferry across the bay.  Sitting in line to load the boat, we figured it would take forever, but were pleasantly surprised after waiting only 5 to 10 minutes.  Lucky for us, we were the last one’s allowed onboard.

So, there we were…cutting through the waves on The Mobile Bay Ferry.  I had decided to stand upfront to take pics while Nico sat in the van with baby.  Little could I have known that I’d end up soaked all down the front from the splashes of the boat ripping through the tide.  I loved it!  Nice and refreshing; much-needed on such a hot day.

As we pulled off the ferry, my heart anticipated our next stop–we were closing in on Florida.  I could hardly wait!  A little while later and a few miles down the road, we crossed into Florabama (Party Town!!  Jimmy Buffett style!) and over the state line.  It was around 2 pm and we were ready to sink our toes in the Florida sand.  After passing through Florabama, we stopped at Perdido Key State Park day use area, for  some fun-in-the-sun, a pit-stop and a picnic (not necessarily in that order).

After munching down some lunch, we headed down to the lofty white-sand beach and played in the crystal clear…aqua green-blue water.  Love it!  We splashed around like children and never wanted to leave, though we knew we must.  There was a campsite calling our names a little ways down the road at Big Lagoon State Rec Area.  It was getting late…we were tired…Peniki was tired, so we parted with the lovely beach and headed out.

A short bit later, we were settling in at Big Lagoon and quickly making friends with the campground hosts Butch and Ronnie; brothers with great hospitality and a bucket of laughs.  What wonderful people to know!  We enjoyed every minute of conversation with our new friends.  Super nice people!

At that point, we’d already decided to stay another night…having already been made to feel so welcome there.  So…we settled in and relaxed to the music of Bob Marley on the player while I fried some yummy fish and enjoyed a bit of refreshment.  I tell ya–It just doesn’t get much better than that!  No siree!!!

A VW Westfalia & Hippies at Heart: Day 11 at Dauphin Island, AL

‘Woke up early and got down to the matter at hand.  Breakfast!  While we were leisurely eating our grub, ‘decided to go for a nice ride around the island.  I had seen miles of bike trails on the way in that night before, and I could hardly wait to venture out.

We headed in the direction we had yet to travel and soon discovered Historic Fort Gaines, right on the waters’ edge.  Then…we rolled down to the beach nearby and saw Dolphins leaping and dancing in the water.  What a sight!  I only wish I had been able to snap the pic in time.

Baby had fallen fast-asleep; soothed by the motion of the bicycle and the cool ocean breeze on her face.  So…after enjoying the breeze and introducing our toes to Alabama sand, we headed back towards the campground…but didn’t stop there.  Our destination?  The Fish Market!  I was gonna cook some shrimp on the Bar B later.  Yum!!

A little while later, we were pullin’ out of the market with a couple ‘pounds of freshly caught shrimp, a few pounds of catfish, and some crab-stuffed jalapeno pepper-poppers.  Needless to say, by the time we left the only grocery store on the island to pick up some other groceries and libations, I couldn’t pedal fast enough…just thinkin’ of getting back to cook those peppers.

Fast-forward a few hours later: In our efforts to work off the crab-peppers, we set out to explore Dauphin Island Campground and get to know our immediate surrounding a bit better.  To our pleasant surprise, we discovered a shade riddled trail into the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.  Treasure!!!  A long walk later, and a gazillion pics too, we made it back to camp to ready the skewers and get an early start on dinner.

Later that night, we sparked the campfire and grilled mango/chipotle marinated shrimp & pineapple skewers.  Man…!  I really out-did myself this time!  *patting myself on the back*  This….was what posh-camping was meant to be.  Simple pleasures by the sea, and good company.

Priceless!  : )

A Hippie Chick and Her Westfalia

I finally had a chance to drive my Westy this past weekend.  Even though it is technically my van, I rarely get the chance to drive her because of problems with the fuel tank.  

Anyone who has ever owned one of these vintage Campmobiles knows that if-ever it is left to sit (the gas in the tank) for very long, it either turns to muck if left full, or rusts if left empty.  So…that is the ‘next’ problem we are aiming to tackle; or Hubby is that is.  All I do is track down the parts and purchase them; Hubby installs and fine-tunes when the parts arrive.  We work in shifts around here.  ;  )

But, needless to say, it gets REALLY frustrating that I can’t drive the van as often as I’d like to because, like most ‘mothers of toddlers’, I do not wish to get out in this crazy-city traffic and stall-out in the middle of the road.  Yes, it happens to us all the time lately; a regular part of our weekend outings.

‘Not a problem for Hubby; he gets back there and just fixes whatever’s wrong, and we’re back on the road in no time at all.  Me…?  I haven’t-a-clue what to do when/if the van kills-over on me.  And being out and about with little Nixi is not good if I break down in the middle of crazy traffic with her in the van.  Not safe….not at all!  So, I just leave the driving to Hubby…and eagerly await the day when the fuel tank isn’t full of muck-muck, and I can safely drive my van. 

This week…I’m searching for a new/after-market fuel tank for our 71 Campmobile.  So far…no luck!  But, I’m kinda stubborn, so I won’t be giving up anytime soon.  Never will I let a little thing like a fuel tank come between me and my van.  No Siree!  This Hippie Chick loves her Westy waaaaay too much to give up that easily. 

Times a wasting…so I’d better get to it.  Happy Travels to All!!  Ching Ching!!!  ;  )

Westfalia Road Trip: Camping on Galveston Isle

Travels in a Volkswagen Westfalia: New Braunfels Road Trip

 
  
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 September 8th 2010:

 Nico is 41 today, and, so far, his birthday is starting out better than mine did yesterday.  No matter, I guess my day ended pretty well.  So…today we plan on walking to Market Center first, then to the River Walk to find some excitement: restaurants, waterfalls, cool refreshment; filming all the while with our Zoom recorder I bought off of Ebay.  It’s great for video, though we’re not sure about recording our music on it just yet. 

 We finally found the tourist-loop of the River Walk and decided to hang out at The Hard Rock Cafe for a bit; Nico’s choice.  I filmed a short clip of our time there.  About an hour…’two beers for Nico…one beer for me’ later, we headed back to the hotel to ready for our cook-out at Chris’s later that night.  I  wish we could have strolled along the river for a while longer.  I’ve always loved the river walk in SA, minus the bad smells in some spots.  I swear—one strip under one of the bridges smelled like raw sewage.  Not good!  Oh well, you take the good with the bad.  Right?

 So…there we were, using the GPS…again, for directions to Chris’s.  This time it actually took us to the right destination.  I say…  “It’s about time!”  After several wrong turns and one wrong address, we were there: hungry, thirsty, and ready to relax.  And so…we did!

 One meal of barbecue chicken, with all the fixin’s, and a few drinks later, the guys broke out the guitars and we all succumbed to our passion: music.  Nico and Chris played for a while and I listened, enjoying every minute of seeing two old friends catch up; picking up right where they’d seemed to left off.  Then…I chimed in; singing a song that Nico and I wrote a few years back.  It was a lot of fun.  But, soon, it was time to head back to our hotel-home. 

 We knew we had another busy day ahead of us, since we’d already decided to head back to the river walk for a longer, more leisurely tour.  We would also be filming again for a video I’ve been planning for one of our songs.  I am also working my way towards documenting our travels in the Westy, though I find juggling the baby while navigating on our road trips a full time job in and of itself; never mind trying to enter filming into that equation.  I guess time will tell.

If only we could have known what surprise we’d find when we arrived back at our room.  I guess we should have known better than to leave Blanca, our little schnauzer, all alone in the room.  But, at the time, we really had no choice; since she was ‘on her monthly’…in diapers…and couldn’t go along with us because Chris’s dogs are male and so on…and so forth.  Either way, we thought we were doing the right thing at the time, and felt Blanca would be fine since she’d been alright with it earlier that day when we’d gone to the river walk.  But…she wasn’t, not this time around.  She’d torn through the bathroom door, which was brand new…though made only of paperboard, and also nibbled on the corner of the other door.  Needless to say, we’d be paying for the damages.

 *What I Learned By This Little ‘Event*:

-Leave the dog at the pet-sitters

-Get your dog ‘fixed’ asap—don’t put it off ‘til you have to diaper the little brat

-It is better (in case you can’t leave your pet behind or at a sitters) to leave your little K9 in your van-home, where she/he is familiar with the surroundings, than to shell-out travel money for damages to hotel rooms.  Ugh!!!

-Pay for the damages and become a very welcomed, and trusted, guest at your fave hotel           

 

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September 7th 2010:

 Just as we feared, the weather made a turn for the worst this morning.  Happy Birthday to me!  Instead of just a drizzle, the rain is pouring and we have to evacuate the river…before we’ve even had a chance to set up our drive-away tent.  ‘Satisfaction of knowing how it will serve us in our travels eludes me still.  Dammit!

 We talked to the campground host before we left; his name is Marty…he loves our van.  He told us of how his parents traveled with him in their VW Van, back when they moved from South Carolina to Texas.  It makes us a lot of fast-friends; this old Westy.  She’s a definite ice-breaker when it comes to conversation with strangers and making friends.  Still, we had to evacuate the river because, according to Marty, the camp-site we’d chosen would soon be under water.  So…we packed up…again, and headed out.  To where, we had no idea!

 The wind was gusting so swiftly we could barely keep Peniki on the road, and the rain made visibility less than safe, so we decided to stop a while…in a Taco Cabana parking lot, of all places.  Hence the reason one should always pack a lunch and plenty of food.  It doesn’t hurt to make a plan B when it comes to your destination as well.  On any trip, long or short, Mother Nature is the real driver and we are only passengers.  Anyone who knows Texas weather knows how flaky it is at any-given time of year. 

 So…there we were, contemplating plan B.  A few stormy hours later, we headed south to San Antonio.  The river walk was our next stop.  Nico phoned his best friend to let him know we were in town, and we all made plans for drinks later that evening.  The welcoming sign of our favorite ‘pet-friendly’ hotel, Motel 6, was a grand site after such a day.  The trendy contemporary décor of our remodeled room was the icing on the cake, a hot shower…even more of a treat.  We commenced to cleaning ourselves up for our soon-to-arrive guest.  It had been too many years since Nico had seen his oldest friend Chris, though they still keep in touch on a regular basis.

 The weather cooperated enough for us all to take a stroll to the river walk, about a mile or so away.  We never did find the touristy part of the Riverwalk, so we gave up…from exhaustion, and headed back to the hotel.  Following the GPS was the last thing we should’ve done, since it took us so far out of the way that we ended up in a ‘not so safe’ part of SA.  No blame on anyone, but next time we went out touring, we carried a map and our compass.  So much for technology!

 What did we learn from all of this…?

*Carry a good map of the city and a compass.  A flashlight at night helps immensely too.

*Take plenty of extra cash, just in case your thrifty camping adventure has to be traded for an uptown excursion.

*Carry some mace in a strange city; especially if you’re a woman.        

*A shoulder tote or backpack always helps if you have to bring water and other items, such as baby necessities.

  

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September 6th 2010:

‘Woke up late today, even though we swore we’d get up and get going down the road like early birds.  No matter—we are like the tortoise: slow as hell.  Still, we managed to make it out of Dallas before noon-ish.  We’d been spending some time with my oldest daughter Mia, there in the West End of Big D. 

 It had been a very enjoyable week for me, Mia, and Nixi.  ‘Not for Nico:  he’d been taking the six o’clock Dart Rail to the TRE train to Fort Worth, then The T bus to work; an all day journey that landed him back in Dallas no sooner than 9 PM each night.  I hated him being gone for the entire day…before sunrise ‘til post-sunset.  But we made it through the week…I spent some very valuable time with my Mia…and all systems were pointing to ‘go’ for our longest road-trip in Peniki to-date. 

 A bit nervous and excited all in one, we looked forward to a new adventure in our Westy.  Although we did a bit better in our preparations this time, our plans to head out early were steadily curbed.  But what can one expect from a couple of turtles.  After all, it is quite a task driving to storage for our camping gear, loading or unloading, gassing-up, ice…food…drinks…traffic until we are out of the city; it just seems to be one thing after another.  And, before we know it, we’ve spent half the day and almost $200 before we ever get going.  It sucks…yes.  But…it is the path we’ve chosen…for now.  I remain hopeful that we will find the place to set some roots.  Soon, perhaps…?  One never really knows. 

 So…there we were, finally losing the hub-bub…rat-race…congestion of the city, finally reaching the peacefulness of the path less traveled; a state highway after Labor Day, headed for New Braunfels.  My 42nd birthday was the next day, Nico’s 41st birthday would be the day after mine, and he had planned a river-camping trip for our big days.  I was excited because we were actually going to be able to set up our drive-away tent…more than two months after purchasing it on Ebay.  I’d been anticipating how much room we’d add to our tiny van-quarters.  Turns out…I was right!  But I’ll get to that eventually…in a future post.

 A longslow time later—around 2 AM the next morning—we finally arrived at River Road on the Guadalupe River; a place Nico had visited more than 20 years prior and now wanted to share with me and little Nixi…Blanca too.  So, there we were; exhausted…road-weary, and it began to drizzle just before we fell in for some much-needed rest.  We could only hope that the next sunrise would bring a more enjoyable day on our first lengthy road trip.  A sunny, cloudless day for my birthday would be a welcoming surprise…no doubt.  If only that had happened…it would have been femmetastique!  But…as most of us know, life usually doesn’t turn out that way. 

 What did I learn from all of this? 

*Do all prep-work (storage, packing the van, food/drink purchases, gassing up, etc) the day before you’re set to leave. 

*Research, research, research the weather before you set your destination.

*If you’re slow-going (Peniki topped speeds of around 55 on level ground and 45 up hill), divide a trip of 300 or more miles into two trips of 150 miles…coming or going. 

*Buy Ice before you get out of the city, or you’ll be paying double…more than likely.

*Pack a weeks’ worth (no more, due to weight) of canned goods, dry goods, fruits and veggies; things you don’t have to keep cold…just in case.

*Make sandwiches before-hand and pack in a cold pack or cooler, so you won’t spend money on unhealthy fast-food.

*Pack plenty of water…no matter what.

*If you carry a portable potty, make sure it is very clean…first, then if there is room in your van or travel vehicle (and privacy), keep it inside where you can use it in case of emergencies.  **Not recommended for all travelers…believe me!**

*Try not to pack too much inside the van/RV/camper cabin so you can move around and be comfortable…and safe on the road.

*Always carry tools and a spare tire.  **We had a flat in the middle of ‘nowhere’ on the way back.**

*Relax…have fun…meet new people, but, don’t drink too much.  Too much of a good thing is usually…not.

Happy Travels!