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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!"

We are staying at a place called Gualala River Redwood Park, a beautiful place with about 200 different camping spots, river access, and so many places to explore. And YES we do have an address here, so if you need it you just let me know. :)

The only thing that is a bit of a bummer right now that will take some getting used to is the lack of service and connection. There is WiFi in the park but it's currently down by the employee spots so we have to drive to a specific campsite to utilize it right now. We also don't have service if we leave and go on the river, to the coast or in town. And as a general rule of thumb the whole time we are here - I am unable to send or receive text messages, or make phone calls - meaning I have to get more creative with how I communicate with others!

Highway 1 & driving the coast

Most of our second day of travels north involved driving on highway 1 on the Pacific coast of California, just north of San Francisco. (PS. We were totally going to drive through San Fran over the Golden Gate bridge since there is like no traffic in CA, but we accidentally took a wrong turn on the highways and went through Oakland... and oh my will I never go through that town again! Some of the most troubled and corrupt area I've ever seen.)

We only had to go about 60 miles on the coast, but it took about 2 full hours because it was only one lane, winding through the cliffs and forests, with a lot of spots that only had a speed limit of about 15-25 mph. We had to climb through some huge hills, we had to stop for construction, and we had to pull over a lot to let all of those behind us pass us. But my goodness, the VIEWS were out of this world. Neither Adam or I have seen anything like highway 1 before and were continuously stunned by the shimmering teal ocean crashing on the rocks and the cliffs of the coast. Right now most all of the turn offs are closed so we couldn't stop for better views, and all of the beaches are closed, but we are very hopeful and optimistic that soon enough we will be able to enjoy the coast even more. With the ocean only being 1 mile away from the park, we want to also spend as much time as we can soaking it in!

I think it's also probably safe to say that aside from leaving here and going wherever we go next, Adam probably never wants to drive our trailer on highway 1 again. Was quite stressful to tow something, especially your home, on a road like that!

Our new "home" & the future of our summer

We are currently 2 of 8 people total in the RV park, parked in what is referred to as an employee area, away from the road and nestled well into the trees. It is both really awesome and really weird to be one of only a handful of people in a park this big right now, but we are using this time to enjoy the peace and serenity of this beautiful place. I have been going for daily walks through the trees, and down to the beach, which will be packed with people once they open. Today we went for a canoe ride down the river. Adams been washing our home and Frank (our van), and we have been slowly getting to know the managers and our fellow coworkers.

The park here is absolutely beautiful and really well set up with signs, paths, and amazing features to check out. It's hard not to be completely taken over by the magick of the redwood trees, how big they are, how tall they are, how great they smell, and all the other Jurassic looking shrubbery around them. It hasn't even been a week here yet and everyday I'm already amazed to have found this experience and have met these people!

It is still unknown the fate of how this summer will go and if our jobs will continue as planned, but since we can't change the fate of it all ourselves all that is left for us to do is be patient and wait. California is a state that does not currently have a reopen date or an end date for mandated shelter in places, and until the Governor allows transient lodging to reopen in Mendocino County, we will not be able to begin our work here. But both the managers and our coworkers are also doing their best to stay positive and cheerful and prepare for the summer as if it is already a for sure thing, as there is no point in dwelling on that in which you can't change anyway!

The good news is that even if they were to further postpone opening we would still have this marvelous place to stay, and if they were to not open at all we would be given 2 weeks to refigure our lives out before having to leave.


Taking things week by week for one more week's worth of posts, and then I have a plan for the rest of the month of May, I promise. Things have just been changing so much lately I want to make sure that the topics I want to talk about still apply to the life going on around us. :)

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