We never seem to acknowledge big life changes until all of the little things add up over the course of a day or two… or a week.  “Oh yes!  We are going to quit our jobs, and move out of our condo and into a truck!  Instead of sleeping in a bed, we will sleep in our roof top tent and drive and see amazing things and have a great time, and everything will be wonderful! We are living the dream! Yes!!  It is warm and sunny and we are drinking beer and getting tans, and there are kittens and rainbows all around!!”  There is, of course, an element of truth to this.  But, the shock factor had to hit us eventually – the ups and downs of life and realities of living on the road were about to make themselves evident (or had been building up for a week or so…).


Once we entered California we realized that state parks charged $35 per night, instead of the $15-18 in Oregon.  Now, as I am sure you can realize, we are on a budget.  And this factor affected our budget significantly.  So our genius plan was now to find free or cheap camping.  Unfortunately for us the Bureau of Land Management website (which shows off the beaten track places to camp for free) was not working due to the government shutdown. And we do not have access to wi-fi on the road.  What limited research we conducted showed a cheap campsite on the Lost Coast, which appeared to be a reasonable distance from where we were situated.  Yes, this was based on a simple tourist map we possessed.


Three hours after leaving Highway 101 and a few mountain passes, potholed and windy roads, and one set of directions from the locals, we arrived at our (free!) campsite.  Hungry.  Tired.  Angry.  Rich was seriously tired of never getting the truck out of 1st and 2nd gear on the ridiculously steep inclines and declines and how the potholed roads seemed like they were systematically trying to tear apart the truck.  Ash was suffering from a cold which seemed to be getting worse in the cold and damp weather, and her female hormones had decided to take a turn for the worst (by the way, Ash wrote this so she is allowed to say that!).  Gas was only available at a small town nearby, and we had no idea how long it would take to drive back to the highway.  This was after a day of driving that totaled 8 hours.  Ash hadn’t had a shower in several days and she struggled to get the camp stove to work while Rich was agitated by the day and was pacing around the campsite.  Meltdown time.


This is when we asked ourselves, “What are we doing!?  Why are we doing this?”  A variety of other comments included “I want to go home” and “I want to go home to my own bed and my own shower.”  What this experience really meant to us though, was that we were in the adjustment period between our old lives and our new ones.  We hadn’t gotten into the groove of things yet and we’re sure our minds and bodies were having a hard time adjusting to the shock of turning our lives around in a complete 180.  It also meant we needed to prepare better, do our research, and slow down.


And you know what we did?  We said, tomorrow is a new day (after Richard sampled a couple of his favourite Lost Coast Brewery beverages).  Nothing is the same forever, everything is always changing.  We can deal with what we need to and move on.


The next day we woke up, drove out of there and waited 2.5 hours for the gas station to open up in Petrolia (beautiful little town – seemed like the locale of a Nicholas Sparks novel). Then we filled up on suspect gas and we drove 3 hours to the highway, and then we drove 5 more as all of the campsites in Bodega Bay were full.  So we kept driving, and somehow ended up in Petaluma (which was not our intended destination).  At that point it was 9 pm and we just said… screw our budget, it’s time for Motel 6.

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  • Anonymous

    Overlanding/Traveling (on budget) is a great way to appreciate a lot of things you take for granted in everyday life in first world country. It helps you to understand yourself, re-evaluate values in life and understand other parts of world better. Have fun and enjoy your trip! 🙂


  • Sarah

    It gets better. And easier. And more fun. Stop researching and start enjoying. The best nights we’ve had were randomly pulling off the road and tucking into a nice spot not marked in any map or guidebook. See you guys soon.

  • Paul Cripps

    Well, that’s life on the road for you… keep smiling, the sun always comes out eventually.
    Enjoying the blog Rich, keep on rolling, You have the envy of most of us, no matter how tight it gets in the truck!!

  • Rhonda

    It does get easier..and it doesn’t… throughout the course of our 14mth trip we would, alternately, be ecstatic to be living our dream in some exotic part of the world, with being homesick, sick in general, road weary and seriously in need of a decent shower, Nothing can really prepare you for life on the road, but in the end your life will never be the same!

  • Ryan

    Man, I know what you mean. While I was on the road through California for a month+, I was appalled by the prices to camp throughout the state, but the prices along the NorCal coast were beyond crazy! I was pleased that I managed to spend so much time down there and paid for like only 1 night. You just gotta be creative with your campsites (and be covert, which must be a lot harder with a roof top tent).

  • Emma

    I’ve always found that after a crappy couple of days, all you need is a hot shower or a cold beer to change your perspective for the better. But then you have to squeeze that into the budget I guess 😉

    Even after you’ve settled in to your life on the road, I’m pretty sure it is only natural to have the odd day like this. What is pretty certain is that the great days will outnumber the average in the long run! (Although the crap days tend to make the best stories.)

    Enjoy 🙂

  • Erica

    We have learned that melt downs happen when you are exhausted and don’t have a camp spot, it gets easier just like everyone says. Come to Orange County for some hot showers and free meals 🙂

  • James

    lol sounds like its time to get a decent map! no GPS? our garmin map had most of the fire/logging roads on BLM land out there in California. Use that BLM land while you still can! boondocking in central america is a bit more challenging. Baja aside, baja is glorious. god i miss baja

    but you got the idea right, a couple brews, a nice night, everything gonna be alright. you good to go

  • Ainsley

    RICHARD – i will mail you a garmin GPS – im not using mine, and am happy to get it into happy hands while you’re on the road- however… you are on the road, so i dont know how i would mail it to you. If you come up with a solution, and want it, and give up on the maps (although i have a rising suspicion that you guys wanted to go old school style), you know where to find me!

    Despite all that – these are just the first few bumps in the road – literally. Im sure you have heard all of this before, but utilize mcdonalds parking lots wifi, screw the state campgrounds, and keep on trekkin’! Nothing gives me more joy seeing someone do what I always have wanted to do – pack up, and take off!

    You can do it! 😀

  • Brenton

    Glad to see you guys handled it well. Here’s a warning though: this won’t be the last meltdown.

    Make some coffee or tea, maybe crack a beer or two, a bottle of wine or whatever. Most importantly take a breather, and think about something completely different for a few minutes. Then when the stress has eased, take stock of everything positive in your current situation, think about what you can do to remedy the negative, then think about how you can improve your situation. Like you said “tomorrow is a new day”…a great mantra to live by.


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