The end of March marks 6 months on my solo road trip adventure, taking me from Austin Texas to Portland Oregon. Here are the places I stayed, so I could wander and explore, while enjoying my new nomad life adventure:
- Alpine TX – October
- Big Bend National Park TX – October
- Las Cruces NM – October
- Tucson AZ – mid-October through November
- Palm Springs CA – December
- Carpinteria CA – January
- Oakland CA – February
- Ashland OR – March
- Portland OR – March
One of the best parts of this road trip is all the people I meet along the way. Meeting new people brings some magic to each destination. Visiting in person with Facebook friends has been fun – so cool to meet internet friends in real life. My sister joined me in Carpinteria for a long weekend! In Portland Oregon I met up with my cousin – 35 years since we saw each other and my first time meeting his wife. In a few days I’ll meet up with my artist friend Ruth in Olympia Washington – we have been online friends for over 10 years but have never met in person!
- Miles traveled – I have traveled 7,295 miles (11,740 km) in 6 months on the road
- Parking tickets – just one in Tucson Arizona – $64 for an expired parking meter. I was only 15 minutes late! Ouch!
I still love you Tucson! But I’ll never get another parking ticket – lesson learned!
- Speeding tickets – zero, nada, none! Woohoo!
- Number of times I got lost/took a wrong turn – too many to count! But these were all minor incidents. And I have not made any major errors while driving from one nomad home to the next. Since I always print out Google maps before I leave and highlight the important interchanges, turns, etc. Yes, I am aware of GPS but I like good old-fashioned maps. Getting lost is all part of the journey for me. Today it took me 4 tries before I found my way to the Portland Aerial Tram – the reward is greater when there is difficulty reaching a goal.
- Number of haircuts in 6 months – None so far, but I have thought about getting a haircut…maybe in April or May I will get around to it.
- Best clothing purchase for nomad adventure – My Ahnu hiking shoes are by far my best investment for this road trip adventure. My Ahnu hiking shoes are waterproof and that has come in handy many times! While I do plenty of hiking these are also the best walking shoe out of all the footwear I brought with me – 7 pairs of shoes and boots in total…plus my Havaianas…I bought them on my trip to Rio de Janeiro in 2010 and they are still going strong!
- Best food prep tools/gadgets I brought with me – Hamilton Beach mini-size travel blender.Most of the Airbnb places that I stay at do not have a blender. I make a healthy smoothie every morning for breakfast. The Hamilton Beach travel-size blender has been great!
- Biggest food habits besides the morning smoothie – fish tacos are one of my constant purchases. Guacamole with rice crackers or tortilla chips is often my homemade dinner….with a glass of wine. I make my own meals a lot. Mostly I like to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits and I prepare simple meals.
- Strangest things I brought with me
- 6-pound dumbbells for working out – it is good to have a portable gym
- Fan – for white noise while sleeping – so glad I packed this on my trip
- Rubber gloves for washing dishes. Because I didn’t want to toss the gloves out I threw them in the trunk of my car. And I use them a lot. I hand wash dishes rather than use a dishwasher, and sometimes I don’t have a choice so it’s good to have the gloves.
- Most extravagant thing I brought with me – Nespresso coffee maker and maybe the Brother laser printer, although I could argue that it is a true necessity. I prefer to print documents (later to be shredded) so that I can highlight or check-off items as necessary while I am working. The Nespresso maker is pure extravagance on a road trip.
- Items purchased in six months of nomad life
- 2 (gorgeous!) leather handbags – I am not much of a shopper and I resisted the temptation everywhere else that I stayed but Palm Spring did me in. The Nordstrom Rack next to Whole Foods in Palm Desert was my downfall. And it was December so everything was on sale. One red-hot Milly handbag and one cross-body Persian blue Fossil handbag and I am set for almost any occasion.
- I love my tiny wallet by Hobo – it holds all my credit cards, ID, and there is a tiny zippered pouch – perfect for traveling light!
- Sony a-6000 mirrorless camera – to replace my little Canon SX-700 that I dropped in the tide pool on Santa Barbara beach. While I tried drying it out in a sack of rice, the patient did not survive. Since I purchased the Canon camera almost 2 years ago I did get many thousands of photos before the death by tide pool :(
Random observations and musings about this modern nomad life
- No alarm clock needed – I have not used my alarm clock to wake up in the mornings! My circadian rhythms enjoy the nomad life and I enjoy waking up naturally. Usually I get between 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Occasionally I wake up after only 6 hours of sleep but feel well rested so I get up. And once in a while I wake up real close to time-to-open-the-laptop-and-work time so I do sometimes (shhhh don’t tell my clients) wear my yoga pants and a tank top to work :)
- Fill to capacity – just like any handbag I own, I fill my car to its maximum capacity – it’s a law of physics or some such thing.
- Why do refrigerators make so much noise? It’s not just me being overly sensitive to sounds, I googled, plenty of other people make the same observation about refrigerators – they are noisy beasts!
- I do not miss my things and stuff – I thought I would miss some of the possessions that I got rid of while downsizing my life to this nomadic lifestyle. But I don’t. Not a thing. Life is easier with fewer things. Probably I could downsize more and I plan to do so. For instance, my Nespresso maker could be replaced with a traveling French press – smaller and lighter to carry.
- Organizing is important – even though I own few possessions it is difficult to find things if I do not keep well-organized. Small plastic bins with lids are helping me stay organized. I have to remember to put everything in the same place each time I pack up, otherwise it takes me ages to find anything.
- I do miss socializing with friends – I figured I would miss my friends in Austin so no big surprise. But I am enjoying long-distance virtual happy hours with my friends!
- Letting go is getting easier – Just when I begin to feel at home and know my way around a place, it is time to leave for the next stop on my road trip adventure. There is some sadness in leaving a place behind, balanced with the excitement of traveling to a new destination. I am getting better at living in the now and embracing each moment.
- The driving part is fun too – I am beginning to enjoy the driving part of this long-term road trip. Keeping my travel days down to around 6 hours of driving is a key to my driving happiness. Some people can drive for 10 or 12 hours in a day, but I find it makes me too tired. I am one of those people who could easily fall asleep whilst traveling in planes, trains, or automobiles.
Random observations and musings about places
- Portland Oregon – I now know why y’all drink so much coffee around the Pacific Northwest – rainy days for days….and days! My favorite is Peet’s or Seattle’s Best but I avoid that other Seattle coffee place like it’s poison. Beginning of March was all rain all the time in Portland but the end of March is filled with sunshine, so I should switch to beer instead of coffee in the afternoon, right?
- California drivers – why are you in such a hurry? A lot of California drivers could use a chill pill – why the hurry bubba?!
- Groceries in California were noticeably more expensive. No surprise I suppose. When I researched online to see if I was imagining things I found groceries overall were 20 – 30% higher than in Texas. I have downloaded all my credit card transactions into QuickBooks so I can organize and analyze all my travel expenses.
- Best grocery store find so far – Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley California has the most ginormous produce section I have ever seen
— Susan Moore (@SoloTrips) February 10, 2016
- Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara had loads of beach glass during January. One of the locals told me that in summer when the waters are calmer there is not so much beach glass. While the downside to the stormy winter waters of this El Niño season is that a lot of the sand washed away from the beaches in Santa Barbara. While in nearby Carpinteria there was still plentiful sand on the beaches despite the storms.
- Carpinteria is a beach beauty – I had 5 beaches to choose from within a 5-minute drive of my Airbnb home. My biggest decision of the day was which beach should I go to for my sunset beach walk!
- You can’t pump your own gas in Oregon, evidently it’s a dangerous activity requiring skilled workers.
- You can’t buy Allegra-D over the counter in Oregon, it is prescription-only, because the risk of anyone buying some Allegra-D and starting their own meth-amphetamine lab (watch Breaking Bad if you don’t know what I’m talking about) overrides allergy sufferers convenient access to allergy medication, which is over the counter in 48 states of the United States.
- Oregon wines are delicious! Move over California vino and hello Oregon wine – I love you! If I cannot have my allergy medication at least I can enjoy delicious Pinot Noir any day of the week without a prescription!
I will finish up with a few more photos from the first six months of my solo road trip adventure around the USA – 5 states visited so far and I will visit Washington state for the month of April. Port Townsend will be my nomad home base from April 4th until May 6th.
The long-term road trip adventure continues north with stops in Port Townsend Washington, Vancouver British Columbia, Lake Louise, Banff, and Calgary Alberta – my home town!
What is your favorite road trip dream destination? Or your favorite road trip so far?