Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pasture Parking

“Man, it’ll be nice just to get home, pull the trailer into the back pasture and set up for a mellow evening before continuing north. Dinner tonight at your place so the kids can play? Well that sounds pretty good actually. Can we bring anything? Dessert? Okay, we’ll just throw together a gigantic peach, pear and apple crumble from the fruit we picked before we left but haven’t been able to use. See ya in a couple hours.”

And with that, we added another post 9:00 bed time for the toddler. The next morning, it was clear that we needed to recharge, she needed to recharge and there was no good reason to stick to a plan that was going to stress us out; So we changed it. In fact, not only did we decide to stay another two nights in our “pasture parking” - a spot out on our “back two acres” where we’ve hosted The Democratic Travelers, Aluminarium and Currently Wandering in their Airstreams but never stayed ourselves – but we extended our midweek reservation in Hendy Woods along Highway 128 in Mendocino County by another two days. On past trips, a two night stay has felt like a luxury. Now, we’re coming to realize that three nights may just be our new minimum, and boy would five be nice.

As we toy with the idea of doing more extended travel, both in the Airstream and internationally, the hardest part to reconcile is time away from friends and family, both for us and for the kids, as well as a sense of contributing to a community. It’s just so easy to have a casual dinner with friends while the two tiny besties (for the most part) amuse each other and a lot harder to find community on the road. Of course, there’s also value in being able to make friends wherever you go (am I talking about the kids or us now?) and, at this point, we seem to know Airstreamers and overlanders just about everywhere with whom we have a lot in common.


For the most part, the people around us understand that, although we’re likely to take off for long periods of time, we try to be good about cultivating our relationships and are always excited to see everyone when we get home. We know there’s time to put down more roots as the kids get more into school age, and so far, we’ve found that travel has instilled a healthy sense of flexibility and adventure in them.



But for now, we set up camp in our back yard and got comfortable.


The directional antenna on the batwing easily grabbed the wifi from the house and the DD-WRT firmware on one of the routers passed the connection to secondary internal router to be shared by multiple devices. While the system worked some of the time, there were some drops and slow speeds that I’ll need to look into. As I may have mentioned, we reserve the right to give up and buy an off-the-shelf solution for sharing wifi.



The new Eno DoubleNest hammock has really turned out to be a great addition. Wynne’s happy squirming around in it alone, or it’s big enough for one of us to be in there with her while she plays around. Of course, I’ve snuck away for a few short solo naps in there as well which are pretty awesome.



A last minute birthday party for one of the “frousins” (friend/cousins) in Golden Gate Park was a perfect chance to see a lot of people before heading out for a couple weeks, though it did mean having to recite our convoluted schedule of potential travel plans several times, including the fact that we’re contemplating being on the road for up to a year starting next Spring (Alaska->U.P.->Nova Scotia->New England->South down the coast). Hearing it all tends to trigger the response of throwing their hands up and saying something like “Oh, well, guess we won’t see ya for a while then!” despite the reality that we’d likely be seeing them in two weeks at Labor Day, a month after that at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, three weeks after that at the wedding in Baja, anytime they wanted to visit us in Tahoe through November and for a few months at the beginning of the next year – probably about as frequently as we’ve seen everyone since we moved to Petaluma and we all started having kids!


“I wanna cupcake! I wanna cupcake!” (Ha ha, joke’s on you. Those are carrot cake cupcakes…)

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That evening we returned to the trailer to find long lines of ants marching across my beautiful new cork countertops. It felt like such a violation, and I took personal pleasure in squishing every last one I could find, disrupting their orderly ranks into a frenzied free-for-all to avoid the gigantic thumb monster. After breaking their momentum in the late night battle, I put my best person on the task of choking off their point of entry first thing in the morning.


Despite a few more last-minute runs to the house for laundry and to turn off the water heater and furnace, we soon found ourselves hitched, everything in the trailer stowed and the truck packed. This time, we weren’t just heading across the bay. We weren’t going to be back home in a couple days. This time, it felt like a real departure, and we were excited to finally be on the road for a bit.