• sparkfireswan

A&A Challenges Of Mobile Living (420 Days)

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

End of Week #60

Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA

Miles traveled since last week's post = 0

Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer

It's been a bit on the chillier and gloomier side of things for over a week now in Gualala, with a lot of fog, sweatshirts and camp fires going on. After a few seasonably warmer weeks, it's hard to adjust to the cooler temps, especially when I've been seeing all my friends and family back in Minnesota sweltering in the heat for over a month!

This week we didn't really have big plans for our days off, aside from our typical Sunday night fire, and a road trip on Monday to get some groceries. It's always some kind of adventure going anywhere out here in rural northern California - as everything you want to do, or places you want to shop are a winding 2 hour drive away. Traveling most anywhere has started to become one of the smaller challenges we face in our current state of this nomadic journey. Every 2 months I go over what challenges we face and how we are choosing to work through them, so consider middle-of-nowhere living another item on the lessons list.

I used to preface a lot before making these challenges posts, that by no means is this an opportunity for me to speak negatively about the life choices we have made to go nomadic. I am absolutely not implying that we are unhappy in our situations or that we wish for things to be any other way. I like to continue to write these posts every 2 months to keep it real with you - to shed light on the ups and the downs of full-time travel, living in a smaller space, and navigating life on the road. (Especially over the past 4-6 months of this pandemic.) When it comes down to it, I do not have any complaints at all. I simply have before me, new opportunities to learn and grow in new places, while continuing to fine tune the lifestyle of my dreams.

If you missed my previous post about the challenges of mobile living at 360 days, you can check it out here.


From my last two challenges posts at the 300 and 360 day marker, I was more heavily focused on what was going on in the world and how it was affecting us firsthand. At this point, in the middle of the summer, I'm more so just trying to ride out the waves of what will be and what won't be and to see what fall will bring us. As things are still changing on a daily basis, and states like California have already started to tighten up their re-closures and restrictions, there still stands a chance that we could be re-shut down by the state or the county. If that were to happen I am now at a point of acceptance and will deal with whatever comes our way without resistance or expectation. On the plus side of things we have a guaranteed place to stay through our original commitment of mid-September, and as we get closer to that point in time we will do our best to solidify what comes next in terms of travel and a winter destination.

I am still trying to do my best to remain hopeful about everything, and that by the next time I do a challenges post in another 2 months that things will yet again be completely different. All we can keep doing is to continue to take each day as it comes, and do our best to plan and prepare for whatever life decides to throw at us.

Physical challenges versus mental ones

In previous challenges posts we may have encountered a lot more physical challenges in navigating traveling with the cats, damages to the RV, weather, boondocking, etc. But during a period where we are staying put in one place for an extended period of time, a lot of the challenges we face now are more mental. It's hard to not long for what we don't have right now - in sunshine, the opportunity to move and wake up to new backyards, and the ability to schedule visits and meet ups with those we miss the most. All we can do is wait. To take each day as it comes and do our best to focus on the present moment instead of allowing ourselves to get anxious over the outcome of the future.

Lately I've really been missing the open road. I hear people packing up in the campground -the familiar sound of the travel trailer tongue going up or down to attach to the hitch - the wife outside checking the brakes as they pull away. I miss the chaos. I miss the stress of traveling and the opportunity to experience some place new. It only makes sense, as this is the longest we have ever stayed put since we have started this lifestyle, but I also know that day will again return soon enough and there is no sense in wishing the rest of this pause away.

Highway 1

If you're trying to get anywhere fast, then living on highway 1 is not the ideal situation for you! It is a jaw-dropping stretch of coastal highway in northern California, but boy is it a winding, twisting, turning, slow going kind of route. For the longest time I couldn't leave Gualala at all without getting nauseous and car sick while on the highway. I've finally reached a point where I can manage my symptoms but after a long day of traveling anywhere to explore or get groceries, I most definitely feel like my equilibrium is rattled around inside of my body. The road also isn't always in the best condition in certain places and it can feel like some of the most bumpy stretch of highway out there. With all of the hair pins and elevation changes the typical speed limit does not exceed like 45 miles per hour, and at times is only 15 miles per hour, so going only just 15 miles north to the next town can take at least a half hour one way.

But on the plus side of things this is one of the most beautiful routes you'll ever take. Hugging the coast, at times without guardrails or much room to give, you are constantly surrounded by coastal forests, teal-blue waters, waves, wild life, and beauty around every turn. It's a mix of a place I'll never forget, and at the same time I can't wait to be able to travel in a straight normal line on a stretch of highway after we leave here.

Looking ahead to this fall

& trying to plan what the heck comes next.... That is most definitely one of my biggest current challenges. The planner in me would want to have it all solidified within the next couple of weeks to give ample time for changes and to get ahead of the curve for winter. But the realist in me knows this is far from possible and we are still in such a waiting game with the state of our country, the openness of every state, and the future of this pandemic, that there is no way to plan for what's to come. More than likely we are going to have to wait at least another month to get serious about our planning, but in the meantime we are continuing to search for workamping jobs on the gulf coast of Florida, Alabama or wherever else down south - as that is our ideal plan for winter.

In my perfect world we would make a lot of stops throughout California on our way back south, to all the places we didn't get to go on the way up here. From there we would continue to retrace some of our previous steps to see all that was canceled when covid first started to take over the news in the US. Come mid-November we would have made close to 20 stops along the way, taking us to the west coast of Florida to park until about April 2021. I think it will be a great plan to hunker down someplace again for the winter, give our budget more of a break with a workamping free place to stay, and soak up the sun in some new states we haven't traveled to in the RV yet.

Other NEW challenges:

The squeeks and sounds of the trailer... She's definitely starting to squeal a lot! It seems like everything makes noise, but most especially the bathroom door, and the refrigerator door. We are going to have to start lubing up everything that opens and closes in the trailer to help make it more quiet, as it can be especially annoying when you're trying to sleep and you hear the bathroom door screech open. :)

Living & working amongst a community... Consider it a transition from being alone all the time to now being around the same group of people all the time (minus the constant transition of new campers). It is a fun atmosphere to be a part of but it can still be challenging to navigate boundaries, personal time and space, and not feel like you live in a bubble. I like to refer to it as if we are at an adult summer camp or contestants on a "camp and work in the woods" survival game show. But all jokes aside it is a positive experience, just one that can also be sensitive as you have only known everyone for a total of about 3 months of your life.

Transitioning to working... Both in terms of the working 30 hours a week after going about a year without doing so, and also in working at the "same job" as each other for the first time in our lives. We went from having all the free time in the world, no alarm clocks, and no "duties", to now having a lot of responsibilities outside of our own RV. And although we do not work directly alongside one another, we still interact on our walkies in calling in job orders and this is all a completely new experience for us.

Entertaining the Bengals... With so much time spent sitting still, and with both of us now working during the week, we have been spending less time overall with the bengal babes. They also have had more time cooped up in the trailer, especially since there are now other campers in the campground and lots of dogs too. I oftentimes feel bad for them and the lack of space they have to run and chase each other or mix up where they want to take a nap. I know they are just cats but I still think they thrive in more space overall and I can't help but think that Rahja misses her big ole cat wheel or that Roscoe misses having their own bedroom to sleep in at night.

Things we ongoingly continue to work through:

RECYCLING, missing friends and family HARDCORE, being away for celebrations-birthdays-deaths-milestones-dinners-holidays, being away from people we know and people in general, being away, etc….

Solutions to some previous 360 day challenges

Water pressure... We got ourselves a new water pressure regulator and all of our previous issues with pressure have been solved! Plus, since we are hooked up to sewer connection, I can take a long hot shower without having to pause the water flow (and I turn on both the electric and propane heaters for extra long hot water too)!

RV damages... A few months back Adam repaired the damages to the underbelly of the trailer so we are good to go there. We have since also made a plan for getting all new tires this summer and installing them here at our campsite to save on costs to tow the trailer to a dealership 2 hours away, and to save on the costs of labor. By the time we roll out of here this fall, she will be full of lots of new parts!

Previous 360 day challenges, that are STILL a challenge

During my last challenges post, 60 days ago, the pandemic was still striking hard across the country. Needless to say, we are still experiencing some of the same challenges from our last post, and some things I imagine we will still be dealing with in all challenges posts to come. But considering there isn't a whole lot we can do to change the overall state of the country, the most important thing is to remain honest, positive, and hopeful for the our future. With that being said, here are a few things we are STILL dealing with:

Quarantines, lockdowns, & business closures... And I would even add to this, the whole aspect of not knowing when we are going to next see our family and closest friends due to all that is going on across the country. California just recently re-closed indoor dining and a whole slew of other things, taking a step back from opening up just over a month ago. This is happening in other states across the country too, and we are really only one step away from having our campground shut down again. Thankfully at this time things are still far more opened up in California then they were at the last challenges post, however this is consistently something we are dealing with firsthand and experiencing even in our small coastal town.

Small town living... Speaking of living in a small coastal town - boy does it have it's own set of challenges! We pretty much decided early on that we would refrain as much as possible from buying groceries in town, as the options were limited and quite expensive, so that means we make a long trip 2 hours south to Santa Rosa every 3-4 weeks. We do our best to stock up on what we need or order other things we need online since we have an address to ship to - but being so far away from civilization and in such a rural area, it can take longer to ship items and there is less availability for services in person. (Hence why we are going to put new tires on the trailer ourselves.) This is the type of community where all the locals know all the other locals and they aren't particularly fond that we ("tourists") are here right now. At any given time there isn't a lot of options for take out food, for things "to do" or places to go that don't require you to drive at least an hour one way.

The darkness (& dampness) of the forest... I have to say we have really started to get used to it but it's still something that presents its own challenges. We always trend about 10-15 degrees cooler in the woods than at the beach by the river or even at the coast. With no natural light in the morning it can feel harder to get out of bed and I can't help but feel like the cats miss basking in the sunlight too. We typically run the space heater or the fireplace at night and I'm pretty much always in pants and a sweatshirt, but at the same time the forest is so moody, so beautiful and so serene. It's always super damp here, but hey we have started to get used to that too!

Things that are still NOT a challenge another 60 days into it

Smaller Space

Less Clothes

Less Stuff

Full-Time Travel


Summer 2020 has given us a new sense of appreciation and protection over the coastal forests of northern California. There is so much to explore in terms of forest fairy wonderlands, such as Montgomery Woods State Preserve, Humboldt State Park (& Avenue of the Giants), and our own backyard here in Gualala. Next week's post will dive more into how we have become Stewards of the Forest this summer, with a travel review of some of the best forests around us to explore!

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