across the colorado

We did it.

We made it across the California border and into Arizona. It’s one small mile for the FaceDragon, but one giant mile for… oh whatever. It’s a big deal, psychologically. It’s transcending some boundary that I’ve been imagining, at least.

We did Halloween trick or treating for the kids just outside Joshua Tree National Park. On a recommendation from an NPS ranger we drove into a in a little slice of desert suburbia that was positively teeming with costumed kids. I think the sparse layout of homes and neighborhood blocks in the desert ends up funneling the masses into the most traditionally arranged tracts.

And now we are sort of purposely adrift, not knowing where we’re headed each day or where we’ll land each night. It’s working out OK, I think… I’m comforted a little by our having a “want to see list” against which we can at least plot some notion of a linear progression (there, my need to plan and foreknow bows again). Anyway, so far so good.


the desert!

Gusty winds, brown-grey rabbits, and low plants like juniper and creosote and scrub oak. Where all the plants are out to prick and stick and poke and the tumbled rocks are irresistible and must be climbed and conquered.

It’s unbelievably beautiful, so much so that a feel a spiritual kindling inside. I think of the original and indigenous peoples who once called this inhospitable place home, who knew what every plant and bug and seed and root could be used for. It’s something we’ve moved so far from…

I know also, though, that I’m as moved as I am by this landscape simply because it’s such a marked departure from where we’ve been these past weeks since getting underway. As much as I’m acknowledging my own neurosis in saying so, the dramatic change of scenery just feels like progress.

We’re moving, things are changing. Soon there will be more desert and then mountains and then huge rivers to cross and we’ll be far, far away from California and truly gone.

The desert.

road life

I think most people would find it a little hard to believe how much I actually enjoy living full-time in this 30′ RV. It is, to be fair, anything but conventional. But guys, if I had a way to generate income I’d really consider being on the road indefinitely – no joke.

Yeah sure, everyday there’s a new tank to empty or fill, a new impossible-to-find-for-sale broken bit that needs replacing, some doodad that’s stuck or got bent the opposite way it’s intended to bend, not to mention the whole contraption is slowly rattling itself to pieces the more you drive it.

And there’s the fact that whatever you want is, by RV law, behind or under five things you don’t want but are bound to hep out and hep back again. There’s no space for anything and not enough space for everyone and almost always a line for the bathroom.

Yes there’s that and more, but, man, I really can’t get enough of the family time and sense of adventure and discovering. All the detractions have, in fact, become part of what I like – keeping the ship running, being the chief maintenance engineer, the master mechanic, the dad and husband.


straining against california

It’s like California has a hold on us, we just can’t seem to get across the border!

My inner pessimist keeps chiding me, telling me we’ve been on the road more than two months yet aren’t but a day’s drive away from where we started; that we’re laboring through some protracted failure to launch. Yes we went clear up to Seattle & back down – it’s just that “back down” bit that’s eating.

I realize this is completely symptomatic of my inability to just live-in & enjoy the moment, to not need to be looking forward to some future “then” or “when” where things will really start. We’ve started, we’re going, we’re having a blast… I have to stop discounting imagined undercards I deem ancillary to some imagined main event.

Sharaun doesn’t struggle with this, I feel like she’s just living for the day, doing much better than I at going with the wind. I’ll try to lean on her for insight.

But man, I do wish we could get out of California…

omelets for breakfast

Last day without mom – not even a full one as she’s back tonight sometime around 11pm. We’re “camped” close enough to SFO that we can watch her plane on approach if we go outside at the right time, so I think we’ll try to do that.

Instead of going shopping while Sharaun’s been gone I’ve been slowly working to maximize our existing food stores in the RV. I love doing this. It gives me a feeling of being efficient and I love efficiency. What’s more I feel creative when I can make something surprising with only what we’ve got. This morning I wanted to use the remaining eggs, and we had some bacon, the last couple slices of cheese, an unused onion and half a tomato so I decided to make the kids omelets.

I haven’t made an omelet probably since my first couple years of college when I was still living at home, and I don’t think either of the kids has ever really had one. It’s funny sometimes how there are things we tend to cook/make, and things we don’t, and how that varies from family to family or person to person. We don’t make a lot of seafood, even though Sharaun and I both like seafood. We don’t make omelets. Don’t make many casseroles. It’s not that we don’t have diversity in our repertoire – I guess it’s that you just get settled into a rotation or something. I suppose it has a lot to do with what was made in your home as you were growing up.

Anyway I made omelets for the kids, who were fairly taken aback that dad could execute cooking requiring such perceived technical skill. “Did you use a recipe, Dad?,” Cohen asked. No, I did not. “Dad, this is so good!,” said Keaton, obviously a bit surprised to be having the opinion. I overcooked Cohen’s (the first one I did) just slightly, had the gas turned up just a bit too high for the post-fold cook, but Keaton’s came out awesome. I used three eggs each, partially because we had six eggs left and I wanted to finish them and partially because I didn’t know if I could even make a proper omelet with just two eggs. Neither kid ate all theirs so I happily cleaned up the leavings as my own breaking of fast.

After cleaning the mess, which wasn’t too bad but for the splattered bacon grease, I felt good. Like, particularly good… surprisingly good. I had cared for my children, fed them foodstuffs so they would not starve that day, single-handedly knocked out a tier on Maslow’s pyramid. I had surprised them with a skill they didn’t know I had. And you know men and fathers and husbands and sons all deeply want, no, need!, their family to acknowledge their skills and smarts and provision. Dad can change the oil in the car, he can hang a picture straight, he can fix a leaky toilet, and he can even make an omelet!

There was this brief moment, just after I got started and had all the ingredients arrayed before me on the laughably small RV kitchen counter, where I became overwhelmed and a bit frustrated. This was too much; we needed to get school started and here I am needing to dice tomato and onion and fry and cut bacon and I’ve only got the one small frying pan and I’ll have to dirty two bowls and and and! It was going to take forever! I should’ve just made them toast and given them each a yogurt or sliced up our last apple.

But not giving up provided a sweet victory. This one little accomplishment, and the resultant praise from my children, set the day off on a wonderful note, a serious high!  Still riding that high right now, in fact.

Hugs & love.

near enough midnight

It’s near enough midnight & I’ve just set down my Kindle but not yet turned out the light. I’m in the back of the RV on the queen bed, but since we’re “camped” on the margins of a suburban street in Napa I’ve kept the slide-outs slid-in out of respect for our temporary neighbors & there’s no walking room around the bed. The bed is still functional, and the tightness of the space is even a bit inviting.

Cohen is sharing the bed with me tonight as Sharaun is still gone & he’s already deeply asleep, his breath coming in the loud and almost confident rhythm of a contended slumber. And taking my attention from my book I’m sitting here admiring my progeny.

His hair is so fair that little lengths of it catch the light and almost glow. His lips are slightly open and a little wet with drool. The skin on his arm has red creases and lines where he’s been lying on the wrinkled sheets and they’ve made an impression. He’s absolutely gone to sleep, I can pick up his arms or force open his little balled fists and he registers no awareness or disturbance. He’s out.

We made this little human! And look how big he’s getting! A little bigger every day! For years I changed his diapers and now he takes his own showers & does two-digit subtraction with “regrouping” (the fancy common-core word for what I learned as “borrowing”).

This process, this slow transforming of babies into adults, is incredibly fascinating. And on this trip I intend to immerse myself in study of it; to watch it in slow motion & thus influence & inform tiny little turnings I’d have otherwise missed entirely.

To stare at my sleeping children and simply enjoy their being.

Yeah. That’s good.

that weather where it feels like you’re floating

The past few days Sharaun has been gone on her girl’s trip.  I’ve taken to calling it a “girl’s trip” because it sounds much better than saying “New Kids on the Block cruise,” which just sounds sad and embarrassing.  Regardless, that means it’s been kids & dad back here on the roadtrip.  

For our dad-days I decided to go spend a few nights visiting a friend who’s also currently taking a break from his career to work at a winery in Napa Valley.  He’s got a little triplex walking distance from downtown Napa and wide enough streets that we had ample room to “camp” right beside his place.  

We rolled in on Thursday afternoon around 3pm and only after my usual somewhat manic focus on leveling the rig and getting settled in our spot did I notice just how amazing a day it was.  The sun was shining, the sky was a cloudless blue, and the temperature was that perfect temperature where there seems to be zero differential between the body’s natural temperature and the outside air – where it almost gives you this feeling of floating… or being perfectly matched with your environs.  

We decided (OK I decided but the kids ended up being willing enough) to take a walk into downtown Napa.  Google navigated us through the neighborhood on a ~20min easy walk.  Over the next few hours we had appetizers and beers (dad only) at a couple gorgeous outdoor spots & then got some ice cream before walking back home as dusk settled in.   

During our walks there and back we talked about the various houses we passed along the way.  Which ones we’d like to live in, what we’d change if we did live in them, which ones might be the best to trick-or-treat at come Halloween.  At dinner we talked about our favorite parts of the trip so far and what we’re looking forward to coming up.   

Both kids were well behaved and we were all invested in just hanging out.  It was a wonderful time where I could just sit and talk and connect with the kids, and will, I think, be a particularly memorable bit of the trip. 

That said, I am eager to have Sharaun back.

Peace & hugs.