A&A Getting To Northern California | Welcome to Gualala
End of Week #48
Catalina Spa RV Resort, Desert Edge CA > Santa Nella RV Park, Gustine CA > Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA
Miles traveled since last week's post = 601
Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer
We made it to our (hopefully) long term destination! Pronounced "Wualala", the town of Gualala is a small coastal region in northern California, in the Redwood Forest and along the Gualala River. If all goes well and according to plan, this will be a long term destination of ours through the middle of September 2020. We have signed up for our very first #workamping positions here, which are essentially jobs in a campground that come with certain stipulations and amenities depending on the rules of who hires you. In our case this includes a free place to stay, all the free amenities, hourly pay for us both, and the ability to invite and welcome in friends and family to visit us as well!
As I've mentioned in previous posts this was something we have had planned for several months now and was a big decision for us to make to change up our travel plans for the summer.
A&A Getting To Northern California
It took us two days of travel to get from southern California, all the way to northern - going over 600 miles and almost 2/3rd of the state. As it was such a process, with so many emotions and situations (both exciting and scary), I wanted to take the time this week to walk you through our journey.
11 month #Nomadiversary
You may have saw on Facebook, but this past Friday was our 11 month #nomadiversary since we went full-time. We celebrated with our first full day in Gualala and spent more time getting to know the park and the area and all the beautiful scenery here.
It's so crazy to think that we began this adventure before #Covid19, before quarantine. Before social distancing was the expected thing to do anywhere you went. Before working online was so mainstream, before stocking up on supplies was trendy across the world. Before all of this - we took a chance. A chance to live our lives differently. And while the times are more wild and uncertain than they have ever been before, I am so overly thankful and grateful that we did take this chance. This is our chance to see and explore the country we live in and not take any precious part of it for granted.
Because at the end of the day, we never know what is going to happen in our lives, and in the world. We never know how things can completely change, in just an instant even. And at this point in my life very few things are more important to me than my freedom and the ability to live my life on my own terms and in my own way. Pandemic or no pandemic, I'm happy we are out here and are doing our best to make the most of every minute of it.
In typical A&A fashion, we ended the night with our traditional tequila shot to toast the memories, the accomplishments, the things we have overcome - and to remind ourselves that we have many more adventures and memories to come.
Leaving the desert
Palm Springs was our final spot in the desert for many months to come, and we said goodbye to it last Wednesday as we made our way through central California. It has been a lot harder of a transition for me than it has for Adam, but he is helping me get through my feelings to overcome the way I feel about our huge environmental change.
I think it's completely normal to feel the way I've been feeling about leaving the desert, as anytime you go through any kind of big change in life it's expected to miss the old way of being. It's expected to feel uncomfortable. Adam and I spent 3 or more months in desert regions of the southwest and personally I have gotten very accustomed to the sunshine, the warmth, the dry heat, and everything that goes with it. Adam has been more than ready to leave it all behind, but I can't help but shake the desert from my heart, as it really did feel like a good place for me to be.
Now don't get me wrong, the forest is absolutely stunning and mysterious, and full of peaceful life. But on the flip side, coming from a girl who loves the desert, the trees here block out ALL natural light and anytime we are outside of our trailer right now (until they spray the park) we are eaten alive by mosquitoes! (Which does give me a lot of nostalgia for good ole Stone Lake, WI.)
It's hard for me not to have feelings of loss over missing Arizona, but I am doing what I can to remind myself that these feelings are temporary. This is all another step in my upleveling process and I know in my heart that it's good for me. I know that throughout our stay here, whether it's just for one month or for the full 4.5 months, I will come to love and miss this place in the same ways I've missed the desert. Because that's the thing - that's how you know you're evolving. Everytime you push past that barrier and through another layer of your comfort zone you grow a little more in the process too. You uplevel.
This is just another leg of the grander journey of our whole experience. It still feels right and it is still going to offer me new ways to learn and grow and develop into a stronger person. Whatever the experiences we have here, I know without a doubt they will be valuable.
Finding places to stay, striped tire, trailer damage, long day of travels, oh my!
As we made our way out of Palm Springs, heading north up I5, we planned to reach a park we had found as a place to stop just south of the Bay area. It had been quite a struggle to find an open RV park, as I've mentioned in several other posts that California has had some of the strictest shutdowns affecting not only State and National Parks, but privately run RV parks too. We had a gracious offer from a lovely friend to park on her ranch in central California too, but caught word through the managers at our workamping job that there was a park a little further north that was still open as well. (Private RV parks in California have only been allowed to stay open if they have full-time residents living in the park year-round, commonly in mobile homes.)
This was to be our longest stretch of travel to get to Gualala, going almost 400 miles in one of our top 5 longest days ever. Not to mention it was going to be quite a boring drive too, as central California much resembles Iowa in a lot of ways, without a whole lot of scenery going on. And then a little over halfway through the travels of the day, things decided to get even more interesting on us. If you missed my Facebook post about our travels you can find it here.
We typically make a few stops throughout a long journey, both for gas and to feed the cats/let them out of the carrier to walk around. As we were making our last stop for gas I was going to run into the trailer quick to go to the bathroom instead of going in the store, and I noticed the whole side of the trailer skirting was twisted up and destroyed in ways it definitely shouldn't have been. I quickly called for Adam who first noticed the tire before I ever saw it and saw that our back passenger side tire on the trailer had stripped and it had flung off causing damage to the skirting and the underbelly of the trailer. Now I want to preface here that the damage could have been A LOT worse than it was and if the tire would have blown completely I don't even know how bad things would have gotten. We are extremely grateful that we made a stop and saw the damage before continuing on!
I think it goes without saying, but panic took over us immediately - we had obviously never encountered anything like this before and were limited in what we could even do about it. Thankfully the gas station was part of a larger complex that had a McDonald's in it too where there was a stretch of a large enough parking area for us to pull into to figure out what to do. I am also very thankful that Adam was so handy, had such a good history with cars and vehicles, and was able to critically think well on his feet under the stress of what we were dealing with. Right away he reminded me we had ONE spare tire and that we would need to get it on and get to our destination (about 100 miles away) and go from there. The hole in the underbelly appeared to not be all the way through, and we didn't even go inside to assess anything else at the time as it was a scorching hot day and we needed to get moving quickly to arrive to the RV park before 6 PM.
Adam strategically set up some wooden blocks to drive the trailer up onto to act as a jack so he could switch out the tire, and he impressively changed the tire in less than 45 minutes - including the time we spent initially freaking the bleep out about it all. After he did get it on we proceeded to keep moving and further assessed the damage once we got to the RV park, only to find that the way the tire had flapped into the underbelly also pushed some sort of pipe up into the floorboards, making a big mountain (I call it a pimple) in the flooring inside. This mountain was also exactly in the area that the kitchen slide needs to roll over and back so we were initially very concerned with the slide working properly or even being able to go out at all.
At the end of the day, the slide worked, and seemed to hover just high enough to not be impacted by the mountain, and the rest of the tires were able to guide us the rest of the way north! Here in Gualala we will look into ordering a new side skirting to install so that side of the trailer is back to normal, and we already went to a hardware supply store in town to get stuff to repair the underbelly hole. Adam was able to fill it with insulation that had been stripped out and he also reinforced it with sheet metal so it's even more stable in the future. (We also plan to reinforce the other side with sheet metal too so they are even.) We have decided we will just live with the mountain in the floor, since doing anything about it would involve taking it somewhere where they may have to keep it for days on end and that really won't work for us, especially right now in the middle of nowhere during #covid19. And we will also invest in all 4 new tires sometime this summer prior to leaving Gualala. We had already planned to get new tires this summer, as they are typically recommended at the 10K mark, but since we were only at the 7,9K mark we had figured we had more time. ;)
It really just goes to show you how fragile a home on wheels really can be and how dangerous it can be to even just drive along on the highway at any given time. We are still really amazed we never heard, felt or saw anything happen while driving, but I can't not express enough gratitude to our spirit guides watching over us throughout our travels.
Welcome to Gualala
Consider it a coastal forest oasis, a true gem in what is seemingly the middle of nowhere California. But yet so different and foreign to any other part of California I have ever been to before. As my friend Tania puts it, as a California native, "Northern California should be a whole separate state!"