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.

 

Birds Flying Backwards

Wow…!  What a wind we’ve had overnight and this morning!  It’s gotta be making all the birds fly backwards out there.  Poor little seagulls!  I feel for them while I’m sitting nice and cozy-warm by my faux fireplace…in our little caravan home. 

I feel rather grateful today; thinking of the things we do have and not focusing on the things we are lacking.  One of which would be money:  broke as a joke…we are!  But, I still feel really grateful, none-the-less.  You see…?  My husband has started a part-time job for a time-share resort, and to us…this means ‘finally’ a steady income.  As much as we are attempting to live a simpler life, society just keeps reeling us back in.  And living below one’s means shouldn’t include having to struggle so badly that your selling your stuff (things you might not want to sell) in-order to keep bills current. 

I have to laugh at that one: keeping the bills current.  Sometimes I just don’t know which way is up!  We’re damned if we do (follow the 8 to 5 robotic flow of society) and we’re damned if we don’t (attempt to live below our means in a small dwelling, whilst the ‘uppety’ folks around us frown down their noses like we’re criminals?).  But it has all taught me a very valuable lesson: you can’t please everyone…so you got to please yourself, as the song also goes.

So I’m rambling, which I tend to do.  But I promise I really do have a point to all this.  My point is, we are thankful for what we have, though we are longing for less even-still: less of the societal hooks in our sides, less bills, less crowds of people and traffic, less work and more life (I miss my husband when he isn’t here, and this place would fall apart without him), less complications all across the board, and less nosiness from the folks that think it’s better to send my daughter to ‘traditional school’ (homeschooling looks better everyday).  I could go on and on…but I won’t bore you that much!

Either way, we will continue to work on our tiny house dwelling – caravan home, and I will continue to look for a small, but secluded, plot of land to homestead; something that we will own and I can have farm animals and make my own cheese, and gather eggs from our own chickens.  And…we can still be free to go camping and travel a bit in Peniki.  She needs an overhaul, so we are rather forced to stay put for now.  Still, she needs to be turned out to greener pastures and times…just like us.  Graze off the land, as we were meant to be allowed to do; this land was God’s gift to man, and man has dominated it to his own injury.  My belief…entirely.

So, even though these birds are still flying backwards in life, we are making some progress with the remodeling of our travel trailer — caravan home (one in the same).  Therefore, I felt in order to keep this blog from becoming such a ‘hodge-podge’ mess of subjects, I should go ahead and start a blog dedicated to the remodeling of our vintage trailer.  I hope you will follow and see what we’re up to, the many mistakes we often make (so you won’t make them too), and the little innovations we are forced to come up with…due to lack of funds.  I will be posting the link or reblogging right here…soon!  I invite you to take a peek into our chaotic life.  You might just be inspired, but you’re sure to have a laugh or two. 

Blessings & .V..

Beach Bum Scribblings

Stories on Yahoo!

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Have Hippie Van…Will Travel

Beach Camping on Gulf of Mexico

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G Town — Week 1 In Photos

East Beach Sunrise

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Family Road Trip — Mississippi through Louisiana to Texas

 

Camping Along The Natchez Trace Parkway

Mississippi Alabama Stateline

Mississippi Bi-Way

Entrance to Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace Pkwy

Bridge Over Natchez Trace

Native American History

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Building Campfire

Rocky Springs Campground, Miss

Rocky Springs Campground, Miss

Key West Road Trip — Natchez Trace Parkway

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{Journal Entry}

Day 5:

‘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!!!

Key West Road Trip — The Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

DAY 4:

‘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.

*Update*

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

The Beaches of St. Joe Peninsula

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Westfalias & Hippie Chicks: Van’s New Tiki Curtains

 

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I finally finished the van curtains a few weeks back; ‘just now getting around to writing about it though.  So are the days of a Nomad trying to prep for more travels.
If I had my way, we’d live in a different state every MONTH. I really can’t describe this wandering feeling that tends to overcome me when the warm winds begin to blow. Actually (correction), it comes w/o notice, but it is so intense that I can’t possibly ignore it; like a gravitational pull in another direction.
Either way…I’ll be happy to wake up each morning to the new van curtains I designed/sewed just recently. It felt good to create something of such use to us and our privacy/happiness/comfort when we are on the road or camping-out in our Westy.
‘Just a little longer. I can hardly contain my excitement. We’ll soon be seeing the sun rise/set from where ever we land.
Happy Travels to all! ‘Livin the dream!!! Because, life’s too short not to.

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!