Good afternoon from Long Beach, California where Melanie, Miranda and I are in residence for a few days at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
The church is situated about a mile from the coast where, among other points of interest, boating is a thing as well as oil derricks made to look like off-shore apartment buildings. Melanie and I rode down to the beach yesterday and traveled the Shoreline Pedestrian/Bicycle Path which runs along the beach. Great ride, but for the bit of cool dripping rain that fell during part of our ride. Nothing really to complain about, but one gets spoiled after so many days without rain. Besides, the rain provided a great reason to stop at a local brewery for a beer and chicken wing snack.
As has been our habit recently, we're parked in St. Luke's parish parking lot so Melanie can speak to parishioners about how EPF can assist with their social justice issues. When we arrived yesterday, we were told they were finishing up feeding some of the homeless population and providing showers for them too. Yesterday, I'm told about 200 people came through. But for a glitch in uploading the information, they would also have been registering people to vote.
We continue to see many homeless people on the streets, Long Beach is no exception. Last night we witnessed them sleeping on the street just outside the church parking lot gates.
Which brings me to something that seems increasingly important during this election year. As I was riding a few days ago, I remembered something from our time at the Columbine Memorial Service last April 20th in Columbine, Colorado.
During the service no mention was made of guns or the gun violence that happened 20 years ago, but they did mention their use of the catch phrase, "If you see something, say something." I won't go into the myriad reasons why the use of that method to combat gun violence is mostly wishful thinking, but I would like to put it to use during what is increasingly a very contentious election season.
In the run up to our elections in November, I would advocate, "If you see something, say something. Thoughtful." Let me clear, I'm not necessarily advocating debate or arguing with anyone online or otherwise, though that may be the case, but something akin to what Kurt Andersen advocates in the book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500 Year History, which, by the by, is an excellent read.
[D]istinguishing among the factually true, the dubious, and the false, at least outside religion, doesn't involve judgment calls about taste or "appropriate" and "inappropriate." This struggle should be less fraught.
But it will require a struggle to try and make American reality-based again. We few, we happy few, we band of sisters and brothers-- in fact, we're not really so few. Fight the good fight in your private life. You needn't get into an argument with the stranger who claims George Soros and Uber are conspiring to make his muscle car illegal, but do not give acquaintances and friends and family members free passes. If you have children or grandchildren, teach them to distinguish between foolish and wise. We need to adopt new protocols for information media hygiene. Would you feed your kids a half-eaten casserole a stranger handed to you on the bus, or give them medicine you got from some lady at the gym? Do you have unprotected sex with people you just met? Remember when viral was a bad thing, referring only to the spread of disease? The same goes for what you read and watch and believe.
And fight the good fight in the public sphere. One task, of course, is to contain the worst tendencies of Trumpism and cut off its political-economic fuel, so that a critical mass of fantasy and lies doesn't turn it into something much worse than nasty, oafish, reality-show pseudo conservatism. Progress is not inevitable, but it's not impossible either.
This is not just a progressive cause, liberals can be just as swept up the hysteria and by erroneous information and beliefs as their conservative counterparts. Check sources, see what reliable media has to say about what's being argued. In short, engage, but be informed. Be thoughtful.
Get out of your comfort zone, open your eyes to what is taking place in your community. Our system is not working for a great many of our fellow citizens who suffer various injustices. Melanie and I see this daily. Now is the time for raising consciousness about the issues facing our nation. Before November.
A belated thank you to Jessica Jew and her husband, Chris for spending time with us when we were in Los Angeles recently. Jessica took the better part of Saturday afternoon and showed us the Natural History Museum and California Science Center.
We were then invited to their home where we had a great dinner they prepared Saturday evening. We also got to spend time with Emile, their son.
Jessica is on Melanie's EPF board and was also responsible for bringing Melanie to St. John's Cathedral to preach and for several other events.
Good afternoon from Trabuco Canyon, California and O'Neill Regional Park in Orange County. We
are here for a few days after spending three days in Los Angeles parked in St. John's Cathedral parking lot.
Over the past few weeks we've been alternating our stays between church parking lots and various campgrounds around Southern California.
The weather is wonderful here and reminds me much of spring in the South, minus the rains of the Southern spring, but sporadically punctuated by Santa Ana winds. Last night the winds blew at around 20-30 miles an hour with gusts reaching much higher, rocking Miranda periodically. Temperatures are generally in the 60's during the day and 40's at night. Spring in Winter.
Which goes a long ways toward explaining why Los Angeles has the second largest homeless population in the U.S., just under New York City. The weather in LA is more friendly to those on the street.
We see homelessness everywhere we travel. I'm guessing some people here in our current campground are homeless. There's a couple camped in a tent with children. Their car tag is one from Kansas.
The photo above was taken in Riverside, California last week. The fire happened along the Santa Ana River. There's a bike/walking trail, the Santa Ana River Trail, running just over 50 miles along the Santa Ana River. I rode from our campground in Riverside to the trail then west along the trail for about 10 miles one afternoon.
There are many homeless encampments along the 10 miles I covered on my ride. I can only imagine there must be many more in the 40 or so miles I didn't cover. Fires are not uncommon in a place that's dry and has low humidity and where people camp out of necessity.
While we didn't travel extensively in Los Angeles, we did get out some, going to the California Science Musuem, the Natural History Museum and lunch on Saturday, then dinner on Sunday evening. The homeless are everywhere downtown and all around where we were staying near the USC campus. They sleep on the steps of the cathedral and under nearby interstates.
On any give night there are 60,000 people who are deemed homeless in Los Angeles. A fifth live in shelters, a quarter live out in the open and thirty percent live in vehicles that may or may not be operable. 780,000 in Los Angeles spend 90% or more of their income on rent.
The economy is great. For some.
Which brings me to this past Sunday morning where I was, once again, in church. This time Melanie was given the opportunity to preach at St. John's. If you really want to know what she's been up to for over a year now, give a listen. She'll tell you, pay attention, it's dark outside y'all.
If we wait for it to work itself out, it will never be worked out! Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil...
The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliaiton.-- M. L. King, Birth of a New Nation
Good afternoon from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where we and Miranda are parked for a few days.
I'm writing for the sole purpose of giving you the benefit of my experience in church on Sunday in Pasadena, California at All Saints Episcopal. Those who know me well know I'm not a regular in the pews. That's pretty much overstating the case. I'm generally not in church on Sundays.
Here's the but. There are times when not showing up to a church service is tantamount to proving just how intransigent a fool could be left to his own prejudgments. This is especially true when your church lady wife gives you the heads up that something extraordinary may just happen, so suit yourself.
All Saints Pasadena is known for their activism. Their "Mission Statement" includes walking with a revolutionary Jesus, loving without judgment, doing justice courageously, embracing life joyfully.
Sunday's service began with the words of Dr. King, spoken by Dr. King over the church's public address system. It was as if we were all right there with him. Powerful. After a moment of silence, and a hymn, Andre Henry, (artist, writer, and speaker contending for the world that ought to be) gave the morning's sermon. And, lucky you, all you have to do is click right here.
I'll add. If you listen to nothing more, Mr. Henry's opening is pure grace.
Good afternoon from Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, Castaic, California. We're here for a few days before we travel to Pasadena, California so Melanie can worship at All Saints Episcopal Church and meet with fellow EPF members there.
The question that is the title of this post was posed by a friend as a comment to an Instagram post of mine. Probably posed because our Instagram posts are the window dressing of travel. Surely there must be some downside not pictured. Right?
The question is one Melanie and I talk casually about periodically, but not one for which we have ready answers because, so far, at least for us anyway, full-time travel has been almost without exception, great. We're just getting started on this great adventure even after over a year's time.
Whenever Melanie and I try to discuss any downsides or drawbacks of what we're doing, Melanie's first answer is she misses having a cat around. Sure, because of her part-time job, we are able to sometimes interact with the pets of those we meet, but, for her at least, it's not the same as having one of our own to care for and pet and love on. I like animals, but have not missed our cats as much as she has, maybe because I still see them on a regular basis via social media and know they're well cared for. And no cat box or cat yak to clean up in a while has not been a bad thing.
I think the answer to the are there any drawbacks question has to be, almost by definition, answered individually. The answers involve personal preferences in living. What are you willing to compromise so this kind of travel is possible? What is your comfort level with uncertainty? Do you enjoy logistics? How much of a financial buffer will you have for unexpected emergencies? Is it possible for you to work from the road?
Many before us have tried to generally answer the question and you can find their answers online, one reason I've avoided trying to give any list of pros and cons from the Missing Persons' perspective. I think you'll find their answers mostly expressing personal preferences about their own travel issues. Some of the people I followed as we prepared to travel are listed on our resource page and perusing their sites is a good exercise.
Here are some of my random thoughts this afternoon that may help provide you with your own answers.
Have you, during your life, camped out? Backpacked? What are your memories of the experience? Were you intimately involved in the preparations when you went camping or did your parents or a significant other do the prep work and then you got to experience a wonderful time and venue without any worries about what was needed to make it happen? Do you enjoy time outside?
Do you like to drive or travel in general? Do you enjoy the journey or do you really just wanna jump on a plane and pay someone to get you there? Someone who just bought a van told me yesterday she couldn't believe she turned 66, had agreed to stop flying from place to place so she could travel in a camper van. She was joking. Sort of. She and her husband were days into their travels and I believe she was enjoying it, but she was still a bit skeptical. And they aren't going to be living full-time in their van.
While the state of the art for our 25' Leisure Travel Van is pretty amazing and we enjoy many of the comforts of a brick and mortar home, we are camping. I choose options to make our life as easy as possible, but, like living in a bricks and mortar home, there are things that must be done regularly. Some of those things are just a bit different than when you're stationary. I don't miss yard work nor my small kitchen garden.
I have to regularly empty the black and grey water tanks in the van and replenise fresh water. Emptying the black and grey tanks is sometimes a bit smelly, but the tanks fill up and must be emptied. The black tank has to be flushed periodically too. It's not an onerous task, but must be done for the system to function properly.
Do you think you can be comfortable living in a small space with your significant other? People jokingly point out Melanie and I haven't killed each other yet, so things must be going well. It's hard enough to live with someone in a home with several thousand square feet, what about 100 square feet? We like spending time with each other, we enjoy each others company but not everyone is like that. Knowing how to disagree and come to closure is paramount.
The kitchen area in our van is small. There's a two-burner stove top and a microwave/convection oven. There's a nice size refrigerator (that must be defrosted). I believed initially I might adapt the space and prepare great meals for us, but, honestly between the space being small and washing dishes by hand afterwards in a small space, we've opted for now to not cook as much. We have a small grill and I have an InstaPot I use occasionally.
We buy prepared foods when they look good and supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables. We eat out a fair amount too. Since in the past we have enjoyed sampling the local cuisine of places to which we've traveled, that hasn't really been a drawback. But mostly, food is not the point.
Will you miss the social network you've developed in your hometown? Social media has made it possible to soften the distance you will create with travel, but doesn't replace face to face socializing. We're fortunate that Melanie has a part-time job that offers us opportunities for making new friends and meet interesting people who are passionate about the issues for which travel in support.
We're also fortunate the Leisure Travel Van we drive is a sexy house car (a four year old recently dubbed Miranda our "house car"). I can't tell you how many times people have approached me on the street to ask about Miranda. You can meet interesting people who sometimes become friends.
What about your children? We are fortunate ours had, or were about to, finish university. There are no grandchildren on the way. At any rate our boys had been away from home for a while and it was not likely we'd have seen them much even if we'd stayed in Birmingham. FaceTime is a great way to catch up and offers the opportunity to actually see them once a week. What other person to person ties might make full-time travel difficult?
Before we began travel, I was walking about 4-8 miles a day and worked out in our apartment gym about three times a week. I've fallen away from the walking and haven't done strength training in about a year now. That's about to change, but it's harder to maintain good habits when you travel. Not impossible, just more difficult. We do have great bicycles we use regularly and that has kept us moving too.
I think as long as you don't deceive yourself or glamorize what full-time travel is or should look like, and make sure you do your due diligence in preparation, then it can provide an over the top experience. But. It's camping. Even if it is at the Ritz, so to speak. 😎
Good afternoon from Hemet, California, where the skies are blue, there's snow on the surrounding mountains, the temperature is mid 70's, and our Verizon service is not what it should be. One of a handful of times where when we should have good service, we don't. I had planned on uploading some recent photos taken in Tucson and Joshua Tree National Park along with this, but that would only be an exercise in frustration.
Today, January 6th, marks our one year anniversary on the road. We left Saint Andrews Episcopal Church this day (Epiphany) last year shortly after Reverend Tommie Lee Watkins blessed Miranda and many of our friends gave us a great send off.
Suffice it to say, for now, our life on the road is nothing short of great. We continue to find amazing places and people along the way and we look forward to what 2020 brings us.
We're in our 35th state, California, and plan to spend much of our winter wandering around the Golden State. As weather permits, we'll begin to move ever so slowly northward, hopefully, landing in Washington in Spring as the tulips are in bloom in the Skagit Valley. January and much of February will be in California.
Watch this space.
Photos from yesterday's trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Saguaro National Park and the drive through Tucson Mountain Park.
We were in Las Cruces, New Mexico a few days back, then made the drive to Bisbee, Arizona where we stayed a night. I shot a series of point and shoot photos as I drove south/southwest on AZ-80. These photos represent the stretch of that highway between I-10 and Douglas, Arizona. Set the camera. Point and shoot. Not shown, the chip in Miranda's windshield on the drivers' side she received a few days before. Thanks, PhotoShop.