Monday, February 25, 2013

Just some thoughts...

We have been living and traveling full time in our 5th wheel for six months now.  We started out in South Dakota and have so far spent time in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

It's funny, the kids each have very different favorites from the places we have liked the fast pace and lights of Salt Lake City, Utah and another preferred the silence and solitude of Death Valley.  I find it hard to pick just one favorite.  I liked parts of them all :).

When we first started out, I was unsure whether 365 square feet of living space would fit all seven of us and our belongings comfortably.  Well, I'm happy to tell you that it does.

It's eye opening how little we actually need.  I have had empty cabinet space from the beginning...a pleasant surprise when we were all loaded up and ready to set out on this adventure.  So, to those of you that wonder if we are crammed in...the answer is no :). 

Even though we aren't packed in here with "stuff", I definitely did over pack.  If I thought we'd want it, I brought it.  I have gotten rid of things at pretty regular intervals along the way.  The first thing to go was our regular hard sided laundry hamper and baskets.  They simply took up too much floor space.  I donated them and replaced them with mesh laundry bags for our hamper and the collapsible laundry baskets that fold flat.  I can store both items in our closet when not in use and they take up a tiny amount of space.  Much better :).

Another thing I was unsure about was the tiny little RV fridge.  Would it hold enough groceries to feed my hungry bunch?  The answer to that is yes.  I am amazed at how much actually does fit in there.  I took out the little shelf with the notch in it and we can fit two gallons of milk and a carton of juice easily on the top shelf.  I only have to shop once or twice a week for groceries, no different than when we lived in a house.

One thing I thought I could skimp on was a vacuum cleaner.  We got rid of our big upright vacuum and only brought a little stick vac, which is basically one of those small hand held vacuums on a stick. was easier to store, it would fit in the closet...but it didn't do a good enough job.  So out it went and we had to purchase a better (and bigger) one with the rotating brush thing on the bottom for the carpet.  Definitely worth the extra space it takes up to store :).

Speaking of floors, I highly recommend a large rug for just outside the door to your camper.  Most people probably already know this and have one, but if you don't you should consider it.  We have a large rug out there with a small bristly mat to clean our shoes off on also.  Just inside the camper door we have a small rug to catch any dirt that managed to make it in.  These really keep our floors pretty clean.  When I mop, I use a spray and clean the floor with white towels and there has only ever been just a slight trace of dirt on the rag after I've done the entire floor.  So that's good...

Laundromats?  I will never like those.  Nothing more to say about that, hahaha

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Coast Guard Pier Monterey, CA

With Dan's work schedule, we travel from town to town and sometimes state to state during the weeks that he is off work and at home with us.  When it's time for him to go back to work, the kids and I stay put in one place for a month.  When we were planning where to go on the California coast for our monthly spot, we changed our minds at the last minute and ended up in Monterey instead of Morro Bay.  I'm sure Morro Bay is beautiful, too, but I truly think we made the best decision for this stay.  There is so much to see and do here that we finally sat down and made a list of everywhere we wanted to go.  Best "to do" list ever :)

One thing on the list was a visit to the Coast Guard Pier at low tide.  We were told that this was the place to go to see starfish, anemone, and all the other more colorful little sea creatures.  Other than a few dollars at the parking meter (did you know the meters take debit cards now?  I had never seen that before), there was no charge to go onto the Pier.

standing on the pier looking towards Cannery Row

We planned our visit around the tide schedule, we wanted to go during the lowest possible tide to up our chances of seeing critters.  The day arrived with the lowest tide during daylight hours and it was raining off and on, but not hard enough to keep us home.  We just grabbed a couple umbrellas and went anyway :).

We had barely stepped onto the pier and already the kids spotted several brightly colored starfish clinging to the rocks.  They were so excited..."look, look, LOOK!" could be heard by anyone within shouting distance :).  These pictures really don't do it justice.  The colors in person were so vibrant and pretty.  As usual, where water and sand are involved I just can't bring myself to use my big camera...I tend to be a bit accident prone.  So, cell phone photos will have to do :).

can you see the little crabs?

The critters were out in full force.  We saw pink, purple, and orange starfish.  Bright green anemone, pretty pink stuff clinging to the rocks, and little crabs with dark bodies and bright orange claws.  There were a couple of sea otters chilling in the kelp off shore and some dolphins jumping out of the water and seeming to have a grand time.

Something else was there, too.  We could hear them barking long before we saw them...sea lions!  Lots and lots of sea lions.  When they are resting they seem like the most relaxed things in the world.  They will attempt to raise their heads and instead they just kinda loll around and drop back over.  It's funny :).  Some of them were so close we could have petted them if we wanted to.  We did not want, they are wild animals and who knows what they would do if you touched them...and two, they STINK, really really really stink.  Bad.

After watching the sea lions for a while (they are all the way at the far end of the pier), we started walking back.  We noticed this sign warning us of a possible Tsunami...scary.

There was also this little building covered in the prettiest green moss...

Near the end of the pier we saw a sea gull.  So what, right?  Wrong.  This sea gull was so gross.  He was attempting to eat a starfish and it was way too big for him to swallow.  One side of his neck was bulging with it and there were still a couple legs hanging out of his mouth.  The real kicker?  He was standing on a rock eyeballing another starfish!  Nasty ol' thing :P

At the end of the pier there were stairs leading down to a little beach called the breakwater, a popular spot for divers to enter the bay.  We spent a little while checking it out and watching the dolphins play just off shore.

On the other side of the beach is the beginning of Cannery Row...old Sardine Factories that have been rehabbed into some nice restaurants and shops.  There were some relics on the little beach from one of the old factories...

We had hoped to walk down Cannery Row and pay a visit to the Ghirardelli shop for some ice cream.  Just as we started walking that way the sky let loose, so we hurried back to the car instead.  If I had it to do over, I would probably just pop open the umbrellas and go for the ice cream ;).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Monterey Bay Sea Glass

The kids had been wanting to get in the water and use their nets to scoop for sea glass.  So, when a warm day with fairly calm waters came along we grabbed our things and headed to the beach.

Even though the water was chilly, it felt really good to get our feet wet and walk in the edge.  It was nice to pretend that it wasn't winter for the day :).

We had so much fun dodging the waves...well, trying anyway.  The kids would watch for a lull and make their dash to scoop up as much sea glass and/or rocks as possible before running back up onto drier sand.  When the next wave would come in they would swish their nets in the water to rinse out the dirt and then they could see what they managed to "catch".  Big fun :)

We stayed until the kids all had their fill of splashing and treasure hunting, then it was time to go home and wash everything up.  Luckily for me, they also thought that sounded fun and were eager helpers.  We filled a dish tub with warm water and a little Dawn dish soap.  I put a few little colanders down inside the soapy water to hold the sea glass as it got washed.  That made it so much easier... when a colander was full we would just lift it out and run clean water over it to rinse it all off.

we even found a sea glass cool!

I think we ended up with just about as many rocks that day as sea glass :).  Tyler was collecting an assortment of rocks for a science project he is doing for school...more on that later.  We did find some really cool rocks, though.  Some of them look like swiss cheese with perfect round holes in them.  Oh, and a stick.  Can't forget that :) ...our youngest boy loves sticks and if he is outside it's a good chance he will have a stick in his hand.

The weather turned chilly the next few days, but the kids wanted to go treasure hunting again anyway.  So hunting we went...

The kids can't get in the water on the cooler days, but they still have fun... running all over the beach and drawing in the sand while they hunt for the treasure of the day.  Sea glass for some...sticks for others...

Just in case you're wondering, we don't keep everything we find.  Some of it we enjoy for a while and then leave on the sand for someone else to find.  The kids also enjoy sharing their finds with others ...if someone comes up to us and asks what we are finding the kids are happy to show them and then give them some to keep for themselves.  It's fun to see the look of surprise and delight on the recipients face :).