Saturday, September 30, 2017

RV Booking Hell

(Warning: This blog post is rated PG-13 for crude/foul language.)

Village Camper Inn located in Crescent City was one of the gems of RV parks along the coast.

Booking RV reservations is Hell. Seriously, a living Hell.

In many ways, this whole RV life I thought I was getting into is not the bed of roses I had anticipated. I had visions of forests, babbling brooks, warm orange sunsets and serene mornings that smelled of fresh coffee and ocean breezes. Yes, I got suckered in by the brochure of Instagram posts and YouTube videos showing happy couples hiking a forest trail and kayaking a lazy river.

But that shit ain't happenin'.

Instead we find ourselves frantically trying to book a place either for some random holiday we forgot existed (like Labor Day) or to escape scorching, 100 degree heat. We search on RV review sites for 50 amp service and 4G coverage, which only exist together in a downtown park of concrete and exhaust fumes. Mornings are filled with the sounds of lawnmowers and screaming children.

If we're boondocking (staying somewhere without electric, water and sewer hookups) we sleep with the generator running to drown out the sound of semis pulling in and out all night. There are times we can't even get cell coverage in a WalMart parking lot.

Boondocking at the WalMart in Yreka, CA wasn't unpleasant, but it certainly isn't on my Places To Visit list.

Perhaps we don't have the hang of this yet.

We've lucked out with a few wonderful stays, such as Village Camper Inn in Crescent City and Gold Ranch Casino and RV Park in Verdi, NV. Each park was located in beautiful locations, perfect weather and affordable rates. The neighbors we had in Crescent City were lovely people who gave us fresh rockfish from their daily catch. We found excellent motorcycle riding nearby along the coast and in the redwood forest.

Gold Ranch Casino and RV Park in Verdi, NV lies in a beautiful setting literally on the CA/NV border.

I believe we have a reasonable criteria for our stays.

Good Reviews
Location where we need/want to be
Sites - level, spacious, etc.
Comfortable Weather
50 amp electric
4G service
Reasonable Rates
Discounts: Good Sam, AAA, KOA, monthly or weekly rate
Pets allowed

We need to run our business along the way, which requires us to constantly be connected to the internet. We cannot service our clients who have hired us to manage their marketing and websites if we can't get online, which is why 4G is crucial.

At least the rest stop near Mt. Shasta was beautiful, even if there were trucks in and out all night. 

One day each month we seem to be spending hours and hours working together, struggling to find a place to stay. We've started booking months in advance to secure something reasonable. And just fucking forget about something as picturesque as Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon or along the Pacific coastline. If you don't book in advance or have a trust fund, good fucking luck.

Oh, you're going to visit in Yosemite and get 4G? HAHAHA!! That's hilarious!

I often have people ask me how to earn a living on the road. Well, here it is. Live full time in an RV and become an RV Travel Agent. Work for Full Time RVers who are trying to book stays somewhere other than KOA's filled with screaming kids (I've never liked kids) or a concrete parking lot without a single tree in sight. Start a business working with RV park owners to secure rentals and working with RVers who don't have the time to call 15 parks in one day, only to find out they should have called 6 fucking months ago.

And when you do start this business, call me right away. I'll pay you good money for your time. Please, just get me out of this living Hell.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Alaska, RVing and Work

Atop Turnagain Pass taking a look at a glacier, which you can see in the background.

Exploring Alaska is so fantastic because it is truly a land of it's own. The vastness is hard to appreciate until you get on one of the Alaskan highways and venture along. The beauty of the landscape, the intense weather, the danger of the wildlife, the sheer size of the state and the amazing people make Alaska truly the epitome of The Last Frontier.

Recently I flew up to Anchorage, rented a car, visited clients and drove to Sterling on the Kenai Peninsula for a visit. My friend and client Ed and his lovely wife Heather opened their home to me for a couple of weeks for a visit. This is my second visit with them, as I went last summer as well. I spent a few days working with Ed on his marketing strategy in his dental office Moose River Dental and enjoyed a few jaunts with he and Heather out and around the peninsula.

Even though it rained the entire time, Heather, Ed and I had a great time at the Ninilchik Fair. Just FYI, pallet fires get VERY HOT!

Ed and Heather are avid motorcyclists. 

But this year I had my own transportation so I did some solo-searching, along with some soul searching.

I took a drive out to the city of Kenai, explored Soldotna and even did an overnighter in Seward. While I didn't care much for the little touristy area of Seward, I loved the ocean views, the fishermen on the shore, the wet weather and the spectacular views of the heavy clouds hugging the mountains everywhere I turned.

The Seward Highway leads into those mountains. 

On the beach in Seward. I slipped on those rocks and hurt my hip rather badly. I've not been able to ride my bike much since then. Only short jaunts for now, but it is getting better everyday.

I'm so grateful I bought these boots and my pink rain jacket. I would have been lost without them, as it rained everyday.

It seems everywhere you looked there were views as spectacular as this.

There were plenty of fish to catch here in Seward. You could see them jumping from the water if watched long enough. 
The highlight of Seward was The Nauti Otter Inn. Wow!

The unique style of this collection of cabins, trailers and Yurts was perfect for my eclectic taste! Everything about it was enjoyable. The main house has the shower, fully equipped kitchens (yes, 2 kitchens!), communal dining area and large, welcoming living room, complete with fireplace and WiFi. The community aspect was comforting for this weary traveler and the staff was so much fun to be around. It was not at all what I expected all wrapped up as a delightful surprise.
The little cabins were great, but I opted for the tiny red and white trailer for my overnight stay.

The interior was tight, but had a hilarious Pirate theme. 

The kitchen sink and the stove were not in working order, but provided additional counter space for my food.

The communal kitchen and dining area

The outdoor facilities included an outhouse, a sink and a shower.

If you've ever been to Alaska you'd know that the jokes about the mosquitos are not jokes at all. 

Each cabin was decorated with it's own nautical theme.

Unfortunately I was only in Seward for one night and then I had to rush all the way to Palmer for the Alaska State Fair to visit my newest client Sina of Crab Terror Island. I couldn't leave Alaska before I saw her booth at the fair and watched her in action! Sina creates unique clothing while building a community of like-minded, dynamic individuals. While Steve rebuilt her website I began coaching her business marketing. I'm loving the interaction with this bright and enthusiastic business owner.

Sina is absolutely amazing! Crab Terror Island will be growing in leaps and bounds over the next 12 months!

It's clients like Ed and Sina that seem to be why we love what we do for a living; Marketing, website development, and business coaching.

Which brings me to my current conundrum; this drastic life change Steve and I have had.

Frankly, Steve and I don't ride our motorcycles as much as we used to. We still love them and love riding, but living in the RV has changed our lives drastically. We seem to be working on our business Too Much Tina Marketing more than ever. We spend a great deal of time planning our next destination, which includes searching for RV parks with availability. We never anticipated that this task would be so incredibly time consuming. Then there's the loading, unloading, setting up, etc., at every park. The overnight stays in parking lots, the long drives in the truck and climbing over and around the bikes in the living area every night we are on the road. Something as simple as making a piece of toast becomes a major endeavor! Mia the Road Beagle has grown more needy and nervous, mostly because of her age. At 15 years old, she's starting to have some issues.
Who could leave this beautiful, sad face behind?

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being on the road with Steve! I LOVE our life in the RV. It's very convenient and meets all of our needs. We love having Mia with us too. She makes our little family of three a "pack". Our home is cozy and comfortable, with great workspaces for the two of us. And this leads to us staying inside working more than ever, rarely exploring our surroundings. I keep telling myself I'm going to get outside more, but it's just not happening. It's too easy to get up in the morning and go straight to our computers.

We had custom, aluminum work stations installed at 99 West Trailers in Portland. The set up is so comfortable that we find it hard to tear ourselves away from home. 

Most of my Getaway Time is spent here in bed with my tablet and a hot drink.
For now, we'll be working more and exploring less, until something changes. I'm not sure what will happen, but I'm entirely open to seeing what the Universe has in store for us. So I guess now we are not the motorcycle vagabonds we once were. Now we are RVing vagabonds with motorcycles, living full time on the road.

And for some reason, it makes me a little sad.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Riding To Happy Camp

Stopped at the abandoned mercantile. It was bustling with activity on my visit 10 years earlier.
Since I began riding my own motorcycle, I've felt a great urgency to ride to Happy Camp, CA. I've only been to this remote mining town once before, to attend my Aunt Marcia's funeral in 2007. I knew I would return one day, answering the pang in my heart to see her final resting place.

Marcia's Graduation photo
Marcia and I have always had a great deal in common. She and her husband Bill raised 3 boys and lived in my hometown of Fontana, CA. They moved into an RV when Bill retired and started new careers, gold mining and selling crafts. But after 43 years of marriage, Marcia divorced Bill and moved to Alaska to marry a man she met online. She was a writer, a web developer and an adventurer. I have always admired Marcia, even when she did things that everyone in our family thought were crazy.

Marcia was very timid, humble and conventional. She didn't learn to drive until she was nearly 60-years-old because learning made her so anxious she would quit. But after her divorce it was as if she had broken the shell she had built around her and she became amazingly brave.

My Mom Suzi, my Grandmother Dora and my Aunt Marcia
In 2003 she was diagnosed with lung cancer and returned to Happy Camp to live the rest of her days. We wrote long letters to one another during her final 4 years and we came to know one another intimately. She shared things with me that no one else knew and I'll keep her private stories in my heart forever.

When Steve and I came to Crescent City, CA I was determined to ride to Happy Camp, which is only 85 miles away. But the ride intimidated me because it's over a rather serious mountain range. I invited Steve to ride with me but he wasn't much interested. I invited my friend Charleyn, who lives in nearby Brookings, OR. Charleyn and her husband Chad have a 2-year-old and most of their free time is spent close to home. So after 6 weeks of procrastinating, I set out to ride alone.

Stopped in O'Brien for a break.
I left Crescent City, CA and took Route 199 for 46 miles to O'brien, OR. Just west of O'brien is Waldo Road. This well-maintained, two-lane road goes by many names, but most locals just call it Happy Camp Road. The first 10 miles of this 38 miles stretch are in Oregon and near the summit the asphalt is spray painted with the Cali/Oregon border.

Near the summit in the Klamath National Forest
Happy Camp Road was a thrill to ride! In 38 miles I saw only 7 vehicles. The asphalt is in amazingly great condition, but has the usual road hazards of wildlife, gravel and road kill. Cutting through the Siskiyou Forest on the Oregon side and then the Klamath National Forest on the California side makes for spectacular scenery. The twisties are tight with numerous decreasing radius turns.

The Google Map tells the tale
Once the twists tightened, I could feel my anxiety rising. I'm accustomed to following Steve, so when faced with a challenging road, I start questioning my skill. So I slowed down and decided to relax and enjoy the scenery.

As I came upon one short straightaway, a doe stepped out in the road before me. I wasn't going fast, so I slowed down and kept my distance. She stopped and we locked eyes. She was gentle, unafraid and utterly beautiful. I felt an amazing sense of peace and connection with the forest in that moment.

I continued the ride and arrived in Happy Camp tired, hungry and happy. After I fueled up, grabbed a bite and a cold drink, I headed to the cemetery. It was hot and humid in the valley, as well as full of smoke from a nearby forest fire. The town had changed so dramatically over the last 10 years. Many of the businesses were boarded up and I saw quite a few homes abandoned. When the real estate bubble burst in 2008, this town was hit hard.
I was so grateful to arrive!
The cemetery gates were locked up and it appeared as if there wasn't a caretaker anymore. I walked around the side and found a broken gate, so I went in. I knew Marcia was buried high upon the hill, so I set out on the climb.

Then I saw another doe. She was standing off to the left, lazily eating the grass. She looked up at me and we both stood still for a long time. She slowly climbed the hill, stopping to nibble along the way. Something told me to follow her. Sure enough, she had been standing at Marcia's grave!


As I sat beside her headstone I felt relieved. For a few moments I remembered her laugh, her voice and her smile and I felt really good. I guess I had expected to feel sad when I saw her headstone for the first time, but I didn't. It had taken so long for me to finally get back there and it was such a challenging ride, all I could feel was accomplishment and relief.

I'm glad I took the ride and I'm really glad I ended up doing it alone. Although I didn't feel the way I had anticipated when I arrived, I was fine with it. It was just something I needed to do for myself.

I'm sure Marcia was there with me and I'm sure she is proud of the adventurous woman I've become!

I was pooped when I stopped in O'brien on my way back to Crescent City
We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Minimalism of Travel

From mid-June to mid-July, this is our home.
The picturesque Village Camper Inn in Crescent City, CA is tucked away in the sky-high pines and redwoods and is surrounded by the echos of birds by day and the foghorn from the lighthouse at night. It's beautifully peaceful here, with only the faint buzz of a chainsaw off in the distance from time to time. In the front half of the park are spaces for tents and RVs staying for shorter stays, along with the laundry and bathrooms.

We're staying in the back of the park with the monthly renters, among a wide array of RVs, mostly towables. There are a couple of "Tiny Homes", a mobile home, and a couple of structures that I couldn't even classify. Some of these homes appear to be built by hand, right here on the property. Each space is kept clean, well appointed and nicely cared for.

From the window of our toy hauler I can see our neighbors are quite busy today. This older couple is going in and out of their RV, toting bins, laundry, and grocery bags. I'm rather impressed with their industrious nature.

Dean is hard at work today.
The folks beside us have a 30' fifth wheel with a slide out. It appears they've lived here for quite some time, because they are quite dug in. They have a shed full of tools, a workbench, a chest freezer and a wishing well outside their RV. They also have a paved sidewalk, custom redwood steps to their front door and some beautiful plants, including a gorgeous hydrangea. Even though their space is narrow they have cut away some of the forest behind their rig to store even more items.

Our neighbors have quite the set-up, including the most beautiful hydrangeas I've ever seen.
We've enjoyed our stay here. We have hiked a little, spent time on the beach, enjoyed coffee shops, the local brewery and even had Thai food delivered to the bar. There's good riding here, along the coast and into the twisty, mountain roads. It's quiet in Crescent City, especially at night when the last of the open businesses close at 10 pm.

I can see how easy it would be to settle in here for a long time. And whenever one settles in, one accumulates.

I'm very tactile, so I tend to accumulate things that feel good to the touch. I love fine china, real furs, soft blankets, beautiful jewelry, bulky sweaters, etc. I'm learning to appreciate things without owning or keeping them, which has helped me embrace minimalism. And in minimalism I'm finding more freedom.

Certainly, seeing the panicked look on Steve's face each time I bring anything into the RV reminds me to keep things to a minimum. Steve has a terrible aversion to "stuff". His ex-wife is a hoarder and when he left that marriage he was determined to live with less. When we began living as vagabonds I began to see the benefits of minimalism. The less I had, the less I had to worry about.

I love this teapot not just because I drink tea everyday, but because it was such a thoughtful gift from my Mom.
Still, I have things I want to keep with me. My English teapot of bone china was a birthday gift from my mother in my early twenties. I missed having it when we were vagabonding by motorcycle, so it's been nice having it with me in the RV. But when I dropped the lid and chipped it last week it made me a little sad. It had been pristine up until that time, but now I'm left to wonder how long before it will fall and shatter.

I'm still attached to certain things, I suppose. I believe most of us are attached to a few things. If you're like me the thing you treasure reminds you of a special person or time. It's often not the thing that you value, but the feeling associated with it.

As we embark on our RV-vagabond adventure, minimalism is constantly in the forefront of our minds. We're still determining what we need and eliminating things we thought we would need and don't. We're also finding we don't have everything we need, such as a chair for my workspace, an outside WiFi antennae, and wheel chocks for our motorcycles. (At this point each bike has fallen over once, regardless of being strapped down snugly.) The balance is a difficult one and something we must remain mindful of.

As I watch my neighbors spend the entire morning moving stuff around, I'm grateful I don't have those types of things to worry about now. I have almost as few things now as I did when I first moved out of my Mom's home in 1983, when I packed everything I had into my Chevy Vega Station Wagon. I spent my life accumulating, hoping to find something I was missing, only to be left more empty than ever before. Now that I have less, I have found simplicity and peace and I've never been happier.

We're on another Road Pickle! We hope to find great breweries, tacos, steak and biscuits with gravy, as well as some roadside oddities along the way. If you don't want to miss a thing, join us by subscribing to our vlog on YouTube. I PROMISE you'll see some cool stuff!

And don't forget about my book, Rude Biker Chick, Lessons From My Daddy. Click below for more information.


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About Sash

People call me "Sash" because I'm a former beauty queen in my old home town. My father used to ride in an MC which got me interested in the culture. After my last divorce I said "goodbye" to Susie Homemaker and became the rude biker chick I always felt inside. (Read more...)