Wondrous Week One!

2022 van miles, over the first 7 days sounds like a lot of miles, because it is! I do believe I’ve mentioned previously that John’s planning has been ambitious in terms of the distances between our overnight stops. We realized this during our inaugural 2-week trip to Florida last month, but given that reservations have already been made for future trips through July, we will be putting on some miles. Planning for the next few years, after July, will have more stops, with longer stays, and fewer long driving days between. This is what Texas looks like, from the backroads:

Boondocking would come in handy in this desolation, allowing for more leisurely travel, and yet I’ve gotta say that boondocking in the stark, open desert of Texas, where we’ve been for nearly all of this first week, holds no appeal for me/us. I have found the vibe in Texas to be wild with an overtone of conservatism that does not feel welcoming. As well, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I appreciate campgrounds with their amenities…

We’ve learned more about vanlife this week. First and foremost, the natural beauty we have seen is glorious – sunrises and sunsets; fabulous birds, many of which are “lifers” for us; and the marvel of the southeast desert brings us the sort of out-in-nature experiences we had imagined for our retirement. Sharing it with John is truly a blessing, we are well matched in our reverence for mother earth’s gifts and our interest in exploring new places. Look at this stunning roadrunner!

Easy learnings:

  • Preparing food at home is a game changer! We ate cheese enchiladas for two dinners and calzone for one, which I only needed to slowly reheat in the sauté pan. 
  • Talk about game changing—the non-stick pans are wonderful! It may sound silly, but the cleanup is much simpler now, and why not take simple when that choice is available?!
  • Since some of you have asked,
    • Morning coffee is at 0500;
    • Breakfast is yogurt and nut butter;
    • Lunch is an apple, cheese and crackers, and a homemade cookie;
    • Dinner starts with a large salad every night, ala Kitchen Zen style: In the fridge, taking up prime real estate, is one huge bag of wash/dried salad greens, arugula, and spinach, all locally grown in Evansville, and one insanely huge bag of chopped veggies—broccoli, cauliflower, purple cabbage, carrots, celery, and turnips. To that goodness, I add a handful of raw nuts (so many nuts: hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, pepitas, and pecans), dried cherries and raisins, and an avocado if one happens to be ripe. We’ve been alternating a fab green goddess dressing that I made the day before we left with olive oil and fig balsamic. YUM! 
    • We’ve eaten up the homemade dinners, so I made shakshuka one night, pizza one night, and last night was light due to a late lunch—we had just a salad and some grilled cheese bread. Tonight I am going to make salmon burgers using canned salmon, herbs, and an egg for binding, that I’ll top with homemade nectarine-meyer lemon chutney that I brought from home.

Untraditional pizza, utterly delish!

We spent the last two nights at Big Bend National Park, at a campground with no electricity or water at our site. There are flush toilets and cold-water sinks, but no showers! It turns out that while no shower may not be ideal, it’s really not that big of a deal! 

We have oodles of solar/battery energy without being plugged in, so our own hot water kept us sponge-bathed. We’ve known all along that water would be our limiting consideration – Vanda has a 20-gallon tank, and we carry an additional 5-gallons in a collapsible water jug, which we were able to fill up at the communal spigot. I admit to looking forward to a shower this afternoon when we arrive at our next camp spot, but truly this has not been a problem. Live and learn. 

So yes, we had enough power to keep our devices charged but ironically, we had no cell service at the camp site! I can honestly say it is somehow liberating to be “off the grid” in terms of social media, however, I really like to share John’s photography. Because he makes so many gorgeous photos, I also like to stay on top of them in terms of that sharing. While there were a few intermittent moments in the Park during which I could access a cell signal, I am definitively behind schedule now! But hey, I’m retired! 



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