Archive for March, 2008

FAQ: Showering

 | March 23, 2008 8:49 pm

I know you’re wondering about showers. I know you’re wondering because it’s usually the first question I get asked when I tell someone I live in my van. In LA, when I’m staying put it’s easy. Time consuming sometimes, but easy.

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First day back on the road.

 | March 17, 2008 2:04 pm

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Ahh, that’s why I’m traveling. What a gorgeous road and I never knew about it.

I headed out of Los Angeles on the 5 freeway on Thursday night and stayed in Taft, CA. In the morning I stumbled upon the Taft Oil Museum while getting lost trying to leave the city in the right direction. It’s a really lovely museum. It focuses more on the history of the town rather than oil specifically, but since the town started as an oil mining town it still makes sense to call it an oil museum. Eventually there will be a replica oil mining camp from the buildings on the ground. Most of those were closed while was there so I just enjoyed wandering around the main museum.

Driving around Taft, the area reminded me of what I suspect Los Angeles must have looked like in it’s early history. Low mountains surrounding a flat plain dotted with oil derricks. The scene above is near the beginning of highway 58, the route I was taking to get from the 5 to highway 1 along the coast. cows-otside-of-taft-ca.jpgA fabulous road to start off the trip with. And the perfect example of the happy cows of California that are suppose to produce the best cheese. It seemed appropriate to stop and have lunch, (which did include cheese), on the side of the road near these cows. They were all a little concerned about my presence there, but it was fun to watch the young ones playing.

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Further along the road, the buffalo couldn’t care less that I’d stopped. They stayed right up next to the fence making sure they got every blade of grass. I’d never seen buffalo up close, so I stuck around and took pictures here too. Anything really to break up the driving some. This was a long day as far as mileage covered since I wanted to skip anything that could be seen on a weekend trip from Los Angeles and I wanted to get up to the Bay area while it was still the weekend and I could visit with friends easily.

I’ve just realized I didn’t upload any pictures of Soda Lake, the whole point of taking this route between the 5 and the 1. I’ll have to add one on a later post, but it’s quite an interesting spot. It’s in the northern top of Carrizo National Monument, an area that is shaped by the San Andreas fault, which runs through it. A long time ago, (a quick google search isn’t giving me any dates, so you’ll have to get vague knowledge), much of what’s now California was covered by the ocean. That ocean shaped the land that we see now, (and the ancient sea life caused the oil deposits).

Carrizo National Monument and Soda Lake is a spot that I think I will have to visit again on a weekend trip from Los Angeles to explore more. For that first day however it was on to Highway 1 and the Big Sur.

Much has been written about the California coastline and the drive along Highway 1.  It was a great drive for the sunset, but, of course, when you driving that winding road it takes quite a while to do. I stopped when it got dark and enjoyed it again in the morning light. I will not even attempt to do it justice here. I’ll just brag about the view outside my window when I woke up:

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Below, you can just barely see the spot where I stayed, way off in the distance. It was the furthest curve of the coastline in this picture.

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Along the way I listened to the start of Kevin Starr’s history of California as a book on tape. Very interesting focus a mental understanding of the history while driving around the state and focusing a mental picture of what it encompasses physically as well.

It was all along gorgeous roads, but quite a lot of driving for the first day. I enjoyed spending the last two days hanging out with friends in the bay area and am going to be doing the same thing for the next couple days as well. After that heading off north to spend some time in Point Reyes in Marin County. One of my favorite places in the US.

Starting all over again.

 | March 11, 2008 2:48 pm

One of the interesting things about this whole 1.5 months at work, 2 months off from work that I’m doing this year is that it means about every two months I head down to my parent’s house in San Diego, empty out the van and repack it with only what I need for the next two months.

Which is what I’ve been doing for the last couple days. The business-y clothing is getting packed away in the closet, (specifically in two paper bags in the back of my brother’s closet since I don’t really have a room at my parent’s house anymore). The jeans and t-shirts are moving to the van, (once the van was vacuumed, that is); the biking and camping gear is being sorted through and packed up. Paperwork I don’t need anymore is being filed away and the books I’ve been carrying for the last month are being replaced with ones related to the places I’m visiting in the next two month.

Basically, it’s like spring cleaning six times a year.

It would be a good way to keep sorting through all my “stuff” and getting rid of those things I don’t need. But I’m sitting here and look around at the boxes at my parent’s house of things I don’t need now, but want to keep. I do still a ways to go with the whole simplifying.

The upside is that I do get rid of a few things each and each time I get a little faster, a little more efficient at packing up the van.

I’ll spend the rest of the day here packing up, getting ready to hit the road again tomorrow, (well, after two more days of work on my way through Los Angeles). I still have to give my bike the once over and put the rack on the van. I to have pack up my computer and a few more books and paperwork. I’ll probably sort through my tatting supplies since the far end of this particular trip is a tatting conference in Spokane, Washington, in mid-April.

Still lots to do in the next 24 hours, but like I said, each time I get a little faster and more efficient. It won’t take me much longer to have everything packed up, folded up, stuffed under the bed, fitted into the drawers or tucked away in it’s convenient, but hidden away nook. The oil’s been changed. The gas tank and cooler are full.

It’s like paying off all your bills at the beginning of each month. Closing that checkbook and starting off knowing you are all caught up and everything is in order.

It won’t stay that way for long, of course. As soon as you put away the checkbook and turn on the tv the electric meter starts ticking away. I know it will only be a day or two before I pull everything out from under the bed searching for one book or another.

But it’s a base to start from, and I know that whatever happens, however messy or cluttered the van gets, no matter what it is I’ve discovered I’ve left in San Diego, I’ll be back here in about 7 weeks doing it all again.

Traveling in a van vs. living in a van.

 | March 4, 2008 8:58 pm

 Sometimes one of the great things about living in a van is not the ease of traveling, but the ease of staying put.

I’ve been back in Los Angeles for the last month working at KJAZZ, (America’s most listened to jazz and blues radio station according to the latest numbers), on the pledge drive. During the prep time for the drive I work out of the station’s offices in Westwood, but the drive itself is run from the studio in Long Beach. Most of the drive staff, of course lives near the Westwood offices, meaning that they had somewhere between 1-2 hour commutes each way depending on the day of the week. Not much fun to face when you consider that our work days were 12-15 hours long. With my little van serving as my home base, however I was able to stay down in Long Beach and skip all that crazy traffic on the 405. From the time I arrived in Long Beach on the evening of Feb. 20th to when I headed back up to Westwood on March 2nd I traveled all of 40 miles. Not bad.

I used to do something similar for the month when I lived in my van while working Monday-Friday in Westwood for KJAZZ and Friday-Sunday in Sherman Oaks for Premiere Radio Networks. (Yes, both places on Fridays, unfortunately. Thankfully it was only for about five weeks and the weekend job consisted of sitting in a studio with nothing to do unless something went wrong on the show.)

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