As soon as I can, I’ll update you on my one year trip. I’ve decided to leave everything behind and spend real time with the people that matter the most in my life: my wife and three children. This is my story, I hope it will inspire you to create yours.
You can read my previous “on the road” articles:
- On the road #1
- On the road #2
- On the road #3
- On the road #4
- On the road #5
- On the Road #6
- On the road #7
Date: from August 7th to August 14th
Miles on the road so far: 8,008
States/Province traveled through: California & Nevada
I’m writing this on the road almost all at the same place, at the same time in a very unusual place for me: a campground! Believe it or not, after spending 15 days literally on the road, we decided to stop for four days in a campground. Since we left, we never stayed four nights at one place. In fact, since we left Vancouver Island, we are on a roll where everyday brings a new place where we sleep. This was quite demanding and we all feel the need to take a break, a real one.
While we didn’t feel any rush and we did everything we wanted to in the past two weeks, sleeping in a different place each day is very demanding psychologically. I guess the worst part is that about 10 nights out of 15 were spent in places that are far away from being campgrounds. This break was very nice for all of us! But for now… let’s see how our boondock on Marina Green in the middle of San Francisco went.
Day #57-58 San Francisco… and the Walking Dead
Did we get kicked out from Marina Green? Man… I didn’t feel very well that afternoon. I was tired, I didn’t eat and driving downtown wasn’t a good idea consider the later aggravating factors. After writing my on the road #7, I decided to put my hood on and go outside to see what’s going on. Yeah…. We are at the beginning of August and I still have to put a sweatshirt with a hood on when I go outside…
I must say I’m flabbergasted! I didn’t remember SF being so cold in my memory… but I was only 12 when I visited, that’s probably why! I played soccer with my two boys and I went around to see what Marina Green looks like. It’s a pretty smooth green space right before the bay where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alcatraz prison. A few creepy RV are dispersed across this big parking lot. They are clearly sleeping here tonight… but I’m not even sure they are in conditions to ride the city anyway. This doesn’t help much.
We still decided to stay the night here as the other option in SF is paying $80 for a parking lot (hey! I got one for free!!!). The night arrives and I keep my Netflix open until 1am. My wife and I don’t feel like sleeping, so we rather watch some Arrow episodes instead. There are several cars and people coming by the RV throughout the night. Nothing menacing, nothing to really worry about, but a lot of noise and people around still. But, we made it through the night! The next morning, San Francisco awaken with a beautiful sunny day. We then decided to take the day to walk this beautiful city. SF has a great reputation of being “cool” and tolerant and it clearly shows. People are friendly, there are plenty of space for people to run, walk and cycle around the city. The beauty of being parked at Marina Green is that we can do pretty much everything on foot. Just walking by the city is an amazing activity:
We first stopped at the Fishermen’s Wharf and Caleb found himself a new friend:
I love the energy going out of SF. There are literally hundred of people running this morning. If I had a shower nearby, I would gladly join them (but taking a bath in the bay doesn’t seem very appealing…). We continued walking and went through the Italian neighborhood. There were plenty of places to stop and have a nice espresso or a delightful gelato. However, we were a bit early for a gelato and decided to continue toward Chinatown. SF Chinatown is one of the biggest and most impressive I’ve seen so far.
We had some restaurant recommendations and decided to have lunch at Huang’s House, a very typical Chinese restaurant. We ordered so much various food that it looked more like a dinner than a lunch, but we were all pleased by eating each plates. It was fun to share our plates with everybody. The dumplings and the orange peeled chicken were my favorites!
After this huge lunch, we had to continue walking to burn a little bit of it ;-). We spent the afternoon admiring SF architecture and great colors:
After a couple hours of walking, we hit Ghirardelli house of sins… I mean Ghirardelli’s market. While we were just feeling empty from our lunch, we were presented the most amazing sundaes you could imagine:
Real chocolate, brownies, three sorts of ice cream and biscuit bites… this was DELICIOUS! Believe it or not, we decided to continue our foodies trip a few hours later with a clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin’s. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better day to enjoy a city: walking through amazing architecture and eating various specialties throughout the day. This was just great! We enjoyed so much our day in SF that we decided to spend another night at Marina Green to enjoy the sunset…
The second night at Marina Green looked like the first one. Lots of people coming and going (especially a car parked right besides our RV for 2 hours with guys opening their doors and closing them several time… drug dealer? Most probably hiding behind our RV to do his business!).
We took the road the next morning and stop for some shopping at the SF premium outlet and Tracy’s Costco. We decided not to go to Big Sur because there is a big fire around there. The park is half closed and air condition sucks. Since we are more than well due to for a break, I looked-up for a state park camping where we can settle for a few days. We headed toward Barret Cove Recreation Area. On their website, the campground is near by a lake (the Merced irrigation station) and there are available spots, I just can’t register online for the same day. Fair enough, we will be there for 7:30pm, just in time to enjoy a glass of wine and relax after a long day of shopping and driving.
Before getting to Barret Cove Recreation Area, we hit a small road with mountains. The sun is slowly going down and its makes an amazing scenery. We drive on this road for 45 minutes or so and we finally get to the campground… but something strange. There is a post where the gates are opened. Nobody seems to be there. I drive slowly in the campground; it looks like this place was abandoned a while ago. It seems like there were some kind of apocalyptic disaster happened there. There is a volleyball net in the middle of what used to be a sandy playground. The shower building still sheds some flickering lights, the sun is about to disappeared behind the mountains and we really don’t feel comfortable about this place. In fact, it looked more like this to us:
I swear, I could think we were in an episode of the Walking Dead and I could almost hear the zombies getting out of the shower building! We decided to hit the road once again and drive another 2 hours to the closest Walmart in Sonora! The area was safe, but there was construction during the whole night. More than ever, we all needed a break. The next morning, I did 2 things: I got myself a Starbucks coffee and then hit my computer to find a campground!
Day #59-60-61-62 Nothing…really nothing…
Since we wanted to go to Yosemite, I picked a campground right before the park, Yosemite Pine RV campground. Man! This feels like being millionaire! There was a pool and free showers! Alright, I don’t need much to be happy right now ;-).
At first, we thought of going back and forth in Yosemite for 2 days. But after discussing with the family in our weekly council, we decided to simply make a halt and do nothing for 4 days. This was a time of catching up for me with my blogs and for school for my wife. I’ve spent time by the pool (Caleb now swims by himself with no floaters or anything!), read a book and enjoy the nice warm weather of California. Then, I did… nothing else for 4 days!
Interesting enough, we received the visit of another family traveling across the world. My wife met them through Facebook and the family decided to come over for an improvised dinner on our 4th day! It was a family of 4 with two boys about the age of my two oldest children. They had a blast playing together in the pool while adults were sharing our experiences so far. The evening went just too fast, it was full of laughter and great stories! It’s incredible how you can bond with stranger so fast when you live something very similar. After this evening, I know that we have made friends for life and that we will see them again after our trip. We would have gladly travel together for a while but they were going toward Vancouver to take a cruise to… Japan! It’s a little bit of a detour for us ;-).
On the fifth morning, we finally decided to get out of our RV and hit Yosemite park! Wow, I didn’t expect that! I’ve had seen many pictures of this park and many people told me how it was incredible, but I must say that we had the best hike so far! At first, I wasn’t super pleased. In August, Yosemite is very, very, VERY CROWDED. We decided to park the RV in the visitor parking lot and use the shuttle service (wise decision!). About half an hour later, we are finally at the beginning of our hike. To my surprise, the first part of the hike is paved. Not that I don’t like it, but it just convince more people to take the same hike if you know what I mean. I don’t really appreciate hiking among so many people that I feel I’m coming across a Walmart during Black Friday ;-). Once the pavement stopped and the big stairs start, now you are getting the real hikers and not the tourists that are willing to push you over the fence to take a picture to bump into you because they are too busy checking their Facebook status on their phone (note to everybody: when you go in National Park, leave your phone at home, the park is beautiful and you don’t need to see if you have a WiFi connection!).
The view on the first waterfall was truly inspiring:
It was a tough hike as it was probably around 30 Celsius that day. We brought 11 liters of water and they were disappearing very fast. At one point, we almost decided to go back as we have been climbing rock stairs for 1.5 miles and children started to get exhausted. We decided to take a break under the shades and eat our lunch before the final ascension. I’m glad we kept going as the reward was incredible. There was an even bigger waterfall and we could swim in the creek on top of the summit:
We then spent the whole day doing this hike and being inspired by nature. It looks like a playground for giants. Everything is so big and we are so small… it is amazing! I would definitely come back to Yosemite, but I would not do it during summer time. One day was perfect as it was definitely too crowded for my taste. Still, this is definitely the most fun hike (and probably the most demanding) we had so far!
We left the park around 6pm and hit the road for a long ride outside the park to sleep in a Walmart.
Day #63 Death Valley… and the Walking Dead
We were so dead from our Yosemite day that we slept like children. It’s interesting to see how we get used to sleep everywhere. The anxiety starts to fade as we become more confident. The next morning, we woke up in this quiet town and we started driving toward Death Valley. I was a bit nervous to see how Freefall, my RV, would handle such high temperature while climbing up mountains…
Driving through the Valley was quite impressive. I was especially impressed by how hard the sun is on our skin. We could barely stand 5 minutes out there without sweating like we were running a marathon. Still, we had enough time to take a few cool pictures:
I’ve walked on bad water (we are walking on salt!) with my oldest son for about 10 minutes. After this period, our arms and fingers started feeling numb. I was quite surprise to feel my body being under lots of pressure suddenly. It was definitely time to get back into Freefall and get out of the Valley!
We finished our day in Parhump where another Boondocker welcomed us with the most precious gift: power for our A/C! We slept very well! The next morning, we will hit Vegas and my mother is spending a few days with us! But that’s for another on the road!
Hi Dividend Guy,
Great update. I had the chance to go up to Yosemite with Family in July, and did the same day hike up Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. Only think I was lucky enough to get a day permit to go all the way up to the top of Half Dome. The cables up at the top were really fun even if the lines were a bit slow. It was the most fun hike I’ve done in Yosemite and a great feeling of fun and accomplishment to do this day hike which took about 8-9 hours in total.
Enjoy your adventures!
isn’t that most beautiful hike you have done? It was just amazing to be able to swim in a small lake at the top of the mountain! I keep amazing memories from this moments!
It was my children’s favorite too!
All Travel Journeys
Looks like the trip is going great Mike! I’ve never been to Yosemite, but it’s on the list. Haha, then again…..where isn’t on the list 🙂 Looking forward to your posts as you continue south. Safe travels
There are so much to discover in the U.S.! We recently left for Mexico with a feeling that we will need to come back later on.
I love your blog. Your descriptiveness makes me feel like I’m doing this with you. Good Luck on the remainder of your very ambitious trip, and keep the blogs coming. Maybe you could publish a book after this is over.
I’m seriously thinking about writing my story as a book. I might even change the way I write those update for this reason. Thx for your kind words.
Just catching up on your recent travels. We lived in CA up until 7 years ago, and spent many a week camping in Yosemite. Your hike sounded like that to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls. Brought back a lot of memories from the 70’s and 80’s when we took our children there. Ditto for SF.
You are clearly doing the right thing with your family trip. Wish we had done that. Seize life when you have the chance! You never know when the door of opportunity will close.
Great to follow your trip.
you got that right! it was the hike we did :-). We got lucky as we only could spend 1 full day in Yosemite. I will definitely have to come back here and do more hikes!
That brings back good memories from our honeymoon!
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
I’m curious 🙂
Fascinating story – I look forward to reading it every week!
Thx MG! I’ll keep writing more!
Dividends Down Under
Awesome update Mike, you guys sure look like you had an amazing time in SF and Yosemite (but not in Death Valley, haha, I wonder how they came up with that name). That sundae looked amazing, makes me hungry 🙂
I actually really enjoyed Death Valley. I was very impressed by the power of heat and how the sun could burn us (literally!). But it’s definitely not a place you stay more than a day! hahaha!
Quite enjoying the posts, when the wife retires in about 6 years thus will be what we’ll be doing. One though perhaps a summary of your costs would be helpful.
Opps this is what we’ll be doing
I will definitely post about my budget later on. As we are still adapting to different lifestyles (we are now in Mexico), I want to wait a little to show the variation from one country to another (Canada has been the most expensive place so far!).
As RV’ers for the past 14 years…(7 full time)….I’ve enjoyed following your blogs and give you and wife great credit for taking the venture now with children…..an admirable life choice….
Knowing you are headed for Mexico has left me with a concerned cloud over my head for your coming experiences there and beyond. Your earlier comment about your..” growing confidence” .. while staying in places where you feel a bit vulnerable, is good to the extent you are becoming more relaxed at night here in the U>S……
But in Mexico you need to rethink your approach…..we do not have the personal experience RV’g there but have an RV lot in Yuma,Az where we talk to many…(mainly Canadians)…..who do travel often in Mexico…..and they do it with a degree of unconcern that I do not understand
We love Mexico and its people from our vacation travels there on past vacations, but RV’g there is a different matter. Even with their seeming unconcern, those we talk to most often follow these approaches:
-Travel only main highways during daylight hours between destinations
-Always travel with…..(at least move with)….others going on the same route
-They always stay in campgrounds with numerous other RV’s at night
-They never stay in isolated locations where no other Rv’ers are present
-They keep their gas tanks reasonably full as possible
You can free wheel a lot in the U.S. but you need to be selective and plan ahead so you know your routes and destinations in Mexico . I know this sounds a bit paranoid but just adjust your approach some headed South..
Wishing you the best and safe travels,
Thx for your sound advices. We are now in Mexico (the Baja) for the past 8 days and I’ve never felt threatened so far. However, I already follow the guidelines you have listed so far (no more boondocks for now! hahaha!). On the other side, we manage to stay at most campground for about 150 to 200 pesos per night (which is between $10 and $13 Canadian dollar). It’s not worth boondocking at this price!
I’ll share more about it in my upcoming articles. I got a bit late with my “on the road now…”.
Almost 3 months have passed since you started. How is your income vs. expenses? Maybe it’s a good time to present a “Quarterly Report” 🙂 One of your main goals from the trip is to test the living mode without a have-to-work job, isn’t it?
You are not the first one asking for a budget report. You are right, I think it’s a good idea!