• sparkfireswan

A&A Challenges Of Mobile Living (480 Days)

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

End of Week #68

Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA

Miles traveled since last week's post = 0

Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer

One week from today is the day we depart Gualala! We can't believe the time is dwindling down to the final few days. We have already had to say 'see you later' to one of our neighbors and fellow workamping couples as they head out on their next journey. (But not without first having an awesome "GRRP Camper Crawl" over the weekend, of course!)

As the summer wraps up for us on the northern California coast there are a lot of lists we are tackling to prepare to be on the road again. With so much change and transition ahead of us, we are doing the best we can to also handle whatever adjustments are being thrown our way too!

Every 2 months I go over what challenges we face and how we are choosing to work through them. It's only fitting that we have another challenges post just in time for our departure from our 5 months spent in Gualala, California. We had one in the beginning of this journey in the Redwoods, in the middle of it, and now at the end of it - all amongst covid, wildfires and everything else going on in the world too!

If you missed my previous post about the challenges of mobile living at 420 days, you can check it out here.


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 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.

With that being said, let's dive into the 480 day marker!

Wildfires in the west & where to next

It's no secret that the west is on fire right now, and smoke is being blown all the way to our home state of Minnesota, and even New York too! Thankfully, we have already been planning to head mostly south out of here, but that doesn't mean we are in the clear just yet. With wildfires across most of the state of California, it only leaves us two choices: to bomb out of California as fast as possible, or to very strategically and carefully make our way through some of the prime destinations we do not want to miss out on while we are all the way out here. We will likely be taking the latter, but possibly hugging the eastern border with Nevada as much as possible. It's hard to know ahead of time what will happen with the fires, how the smoke will impact each stop along the route, or what new dangers we could encounter along the way. I am doing my best to state up to date with Cal-Fire, and any news regarding the current fires that I can.

As of now we are still planning to make a handful of stops throughout California, but this plan could still easily change in the upcoming few weeks. To start, we will try to head a little north and a little inland, to Lassen Volcano National Park. That path is currently clear and puts us in a good position to bolt to Nevada if necessary. There is also a campground in the park with vacancy for us and up to date alerts are provided on their website. They also have a live video cam of the mountains and the current air quality.

After that, we do not have anything set in place just yet - but I do have a list of options and ideas for how we could start to make our way further south. We will continue to monitor the live wildfire situations and use our best judgements on air quality, route safety, and weather to ultimately decide each next stop we make.

Getting ourselves ready to travel again

There is something to be said about sitting in one place for such a long time, even when you are living the minimal, nomadic lifestyle. It can make you complacent again - too comfortable even! We have gotten so used to not moving that it is definitely going to be challenging to be on our way again. There is so much to prepare yourself for - both physically and mentally. After having a practice run this weekend in moving the trailer, I feel like we remember our routines pretty well, but it's just the anxious act of having to make sure you aren't forgetting anything important before taking off again. (And the physical act of having to move everything you own!)

But like all things we encounter on this journey, I know these feelings of having to get ourselves ready again are only temporary. I have no doubt that in a few weeks we will be completely back into the swing of things and will feel alive with passion for the open road. Sometimes the anticipation of what's to come is almost worse than the physical act of it...

Getting the cats ready to travel again

This is going to be the real struggle - probably one of the hardest things for us (& them) to get adjusted to. The bengal cats are not the most fond of traveling in our van, or moving at all for that matter, and we are fully aware they will express their unhappiness to us every second along the way. Thankfully we are experiencing a lot of practice this week to get them slowly acclimated again - in moving our RV out of our spot earlier this week to let our neighbors behind us out, in all the work we have been cleaning and packing up, and in the possibility of moving to another campsite in the park later this week. They can absolutely sense when we are anxious, stressed out, or are doing things in the RV we don't "normally do" and they will spook easily. Rahja tends to hide in places we can't easily reach her and Roscoe paces like a nervous nelly so much he can eventually lead himself to throw up.

Within time I think the cats will start to get used to our way of life again, obviously appreciating a return of sunshine, grass, and outdoor adventures way more than life in the van. But soon enough they will realize that this is what is happening and they are safe with us, and everything will be okay!

Saying 'see you later' to Gualala, our fellow workampers, the Redwoods, & our amenities

We don't do 'goodbyes', remember?! We say 'see you later' only! But my gosh this is going to be one of the most difficult 'see you laters' we have had to do since we left our home state of Minnesota last summer. We have been working and living with the same people since the end of April, and have gotten to know each other on a lot of different levels. We are a team, operating this campground by day, socializing by night, and talking through what it means to be full-time RVers with each other. I feel so fortunate to have spent the summer here in the Redwoods, just one mile from the Pacific Ocean coast. I am so grateful for this experience at Gualala River Redwood Park, and all that we have learned and all that we have been given. It truly has changed our lives in a lot of ways and it will be difficult to drive away from the park next week.

It will also be a transition for us to depart from all the wonderful amenities we have had here in the forest. From a safe, free, magical place to call home all summer, to the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables from managers, guests, workampers, and owners, to free laundry and ample campfires... I am surely going to miss it all! We will also have to get used to only buying an amount of groceries that fits directly in our own small fridge and freezer, as we have been so used to using overflow freezer space here at the campground all summer. Lots of big changes coming our way in the amenities department, but I know we will find ways to adapt as we need to.

Other NEW challenges:

Redwood sap on the RV... Some parts of the trailer look like something out of a horror film right now, with bright red drops across our white siding. You may not have known it, but the Redwood trees have a red colored sap that drips from their massive trunks and falls all over our white trailer and white van. The most interesting part is that it will not wash off with soap and water! Rumor has it that we will have to wait until we can get out into the sun again for awhile to help "dry it out" before trying to wash it off again.

Cleaning up: the dust, the dirt... The forest has been nothing short of magical, but it also has been the dampest, but yet dustiest place we have called home. The maintenance team has been watering the road in the campground every day all summer, but it still doesn't combat against the amount of dust and dirt always in the air, on our shoes, on our clothes, and all over the inside and outside of our RV. We will do our best to deep clean a few days before leaving here, but I have a feeling we will still be wiping away dust from the Redwood forest for a few weeks to come.

Trying to plan everything... It's almost ironic, as I went into 2020 with a mentality that I was going to do my best to plan out the entire year as far out as I could - much different than how I'd been going out about our travels prior to that. And then spring hit, we took a job in the Redwoods, covid hit, and life has been utterly unplannable since. Here we are at our time to hit the road again and I'm still having a tough time planning things out in the way I would want to. I think one of my personal lessons this year has been to learn to just go with the flow of things more, as anything I have tried to plan has just changed many times anyway.

Leaving California and entering new states... It's been so long now since we have really spent time on the open road, and we will have to start to understand what covid restrictions and parameters are in place for each state we travel too. With everything so different across the board, it will definitely be an adjustment we have to figure out as we go. We have gotten used to the restrictions implemented in the state of California, but as we travel along there will be certain states with even more restrictions, and many with less restrictions too.

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 420 day challenges

Looking ahead to this fall... As we are preparing to leave the darkness & dampness of the forest behind, the small coastal town of Gualala in the rear view mirror, and the end of a summer spent working in the Redwoods - a lot of our previous challenges are finding ways to sort themselves out. The first day of Fall is upon us next week and we are moving forward and onward to the next chapter whether we are completely ready for it or not!

Living & working amongst a community... There are just two workamping couples remaining in the forest this week, and the fellow nomads in our community are spreading their wings and hitting the road in different directions. Our time together is closing in and all of us are taking off on our own unique journeys across the country. We have learned so much from each other these past 5 months and it is now our time to say 'see you later' and wish everyone safe travels for their next adventure.

Previous 420 day challenges, that are STILL a challenge

Looking ahead to this fall... With Fall looming in on us, it is both a solution and an ongoing challenge. There is only so much we can prepare for and plan out right now and the rest of it is just going to have to happen as it may happen. We have to maintain a lot more adaptability and flexibility than we are used to, as wildfires and covid still wreak havoc across the country. There is no doubt these are still odd and challenging times we are living in!

Quarantines, lockdowns, & business closures... I imagine we will still encounter a lot of this out on the road, both in the state of California and as we enter other states. I feel this is something that might continue to be ongoing for several challenges posts to come in the future too! As for other states out there in the USA - we really won't know the status of what it's like until we start to experience it first hand, and we will just have to learn to adjust to how things are as we go.

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

Smaller Space

Less Clothes

Less Stuff

Full-Time Travel


This Friday, September 18th, the 2020 camping season here at Gualala River Redwood Park will officially be coming to an end. The park will close its gates, the employees will finish up tidying the park up for the winter season, and all of us workampers will finish preparing for our travels on the road. Next Monday's post will be the day before we take off from Gualala and will be filled with reflections and lessons from a summer spent in the Redwoods!

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