Getting ready for van travel

We are heading for the central California coast then over to Arizona. two different climates, how to pack?

First off we need to do some cleaning. Been washing sheets. Washed floor, counters, refill toiletries, paper towels. Check waste tank fluids, run generator, a million things to do

During the Last trip our 3-bike rack was damaged when hitting a bump. Seems the far outside rack bent so i called Rocky Mounts who sent me a warranty replacement part which i will install then use straps to hold 3 outside bike to the inside bike seat stem. Should work.

Got the replacement mount installed. Seems solid. Put Locktite on the screws. The road bike is now on the outside and my trail bike on inside. Then strap goes from trail bike to road bike.

Strap from road bike to trail bike in back.
The 3 bike option sticks out and makes the total length like 30 feet.

So now we are packed with food on freezer, water tanks and bottles full, waste tanks empty clothes and all the “necessary” accessories are in HahA. Sure I forgetting something. We shall see.

And we’re OFF in the early morning sun

A friend sent me this poem this morning as we drove off.

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.

Finding places to camp

We are working on Arizona reservations for late January. Currently we are booked down in Morro Bay for my birthday and now working on a couple weeks over in the desert both in Maricopa county parks and in tucson if possible. Need cancellations at this point.

Of the many travel apps, we have come to rely upon a couple. AllStays Camp & RV app has been our go-to app for years in looking for public and private campgrounds in any specific geographic area. It links to directions in both google and Apple Maps along with phone numbers and website links. Details such as elevation and # of campsites are included along with amenities

All Stays Camp & RV app

Campendium website and app is wonderful to see recent reviews and also check strength of cell service. It links to Google map overlay for location and direction information. Also really good for finding dump stations. I get weekly emails from the website offering fun places all over.

The website has lots of good articles about different places and camping etc. Tremendous resource

Campendium App

We are going to use Harvest hosts this year more also since a lot of public campgrounds like national and state parks fill up faster and it sometimes is hard to make all the plans far in advance. It is a subscription app and has added Boondockers Welcome section as well as many golf course who will allow overnight stays. Wonderful places like wineries, museums, farms, private homes even. Reservations are required in advance thru phone or email.

For finding boondocking sites , we like Campendium and iOverlander which is crowd sourced and a favorite of the DIY van crowd. Campers leave comments on every site along with GPS so you can find them.

I OVerlander App

We are going to use Harvest hosts this year more also since a lot of public campgrounds like national and state parks fill up faster and it sometimes is hard to make all the plans far in advance. It is a subscription app and has added Boondockers Welcome section as well as many golf course who will allow overnight stays. Wonderful places like wineries, museums, farms, private homes even. Reservations are required in advance thru phone or email.

Harvest Hosts App

We use a cool website called Wanderinglabs to find last minute cancellations. Put in dates needed and a campground and it will regularly search for available reservations. When sites become available it will text and email me. The bad news is it doesn’t work for Arizona state parks or Maricopa County parks. Then we check each morning around 730-8 to see if anything opens up. It does work for California and Oregon State parks and the recreation.gov sites.

Last minute note as of publication today—We scored 12 nights at one of the Maricopa County parks so will see how it goes, still looking for a couple more days but we may just try some boondocking sites we haven’t tested before. YAY i think….

The end for today. Need to get back to finding sites for Summer and fall.

Christmas 2021

What a year! We decided to go for it this year with our van. 8 trips with 108 nights out over 15,562 miles driven around the West!

We love stopping in the Mojave Desert at Amboy Crater
on I40 east of Barstow for a quiet winter night

Jan/Feb – Arizona – Our first trip in January found us heading for what we thought would be warmer climate down in Valley of the Sun. spent a few days cycling at White Tanks and Lost Dutchman parks then down to our usual haunts in Tucson where we stayed at Tucson Mountain park, and house sat for our friends in Oro Valley.

March – Death Valley- Since all national forest campgrounds within 300 miles of us are closed we elected to head to Death Valley. Caught a break in weather which allowed us to drive over Donner Pass and down US 395. Was snowy but roads were dry. We spent 4 days exploring the area with temps in 60’s, some rain storms in valley gave new experiences. And driving to the 5475 ft top of Dantes’ View in SE area gave us a wonderful perspective on the valley.

April – Had to get out somewhere so we headed back over to the eastern sierra for boon-docking in the Alabama Hills near Mt Whitney south of Bishop California. Biking the dusty trails and hiking for a few nights. This is where many old western movies were filmed back in 30’-50’s

May – One place Sraddha has always wanted to explore is the San Rafael Swell in central Utah. With features like the “Little Grand Canyon, Slot canyons and majestic geologic views. Most people head to the amazing national parks which we have done several times. This is less traveled and we had the place to ourselves much of the time. Trail cycling here was a lot of fun. We explored Goblin Valley, Temple Mountain, Swinging Bridge, Lake Powell, and Valley of the Gods.

Early June – finally the sierra opens up to camping so I went up to Lakes Basin for a few quiet days alone hiking and cycling. Explored some new trails and just hung out.

Late June/July – Colorado beckons. We had planned to meet Sraddhas family in Pagosa Springs for few days of fun. Our route took us across central utah and thru the Rockies to Lost Lake above Crested Butte, Colorado for a few days then winding down thru central Rockies to Pagosa Springs. Return trip thru Moab.

July/August – Wildfires and smoke caused cancellation of a couple trips into the sierra but finally the smoke cleared and we were able to get up to one of our favorite places near Tahoe and also went to Sea Ranch on California Coast for a few days of cycling and hiking.

August-September – Smoke again changed our plans. Originally scheduled to spend a week in Tetons then Idaho and on over to Puget Sound, we canceled the eastern part of trip and spontaneously headed up the Oregon and Washington coast for a real fun time. It is getting harder to find great places to camp on short notice but we lucked into some wonderful places along the coast including the Hoh River Rainforest campground. We stayed with friends over the weekend in Portland area and also visited the Ananda farm up on Camano Island (where we plan to return in the spring to help with planting a “cutting flower garden”. Camping on a city street in Edmonds at my cousin’s place is always fun. Great neighborhood there. We returned via Cape Disappointment SP at the mouth of Columbia river , Nehalem Bay, Umpqua Lighthouse and Bullards beach near Brandon.

October – Our last trip of the year was the most challenging. Our route took us down eastern sierra for a few days then on to Usery Park in Mesa, AZ where i would then fly to Atlanta for a few days of model railroading with some buddies whilst Sraddha explores museums in the Valley of Sun then on to Catalina State Park in Tucson before heading back home.

En route thru Nevada we stopped for propane. A couple days later, while camped at 9500 ft elevation, we started having issues with the propane system. We ended up cutting our eastern sierra travels short and headed to Las Vegas for repairs. The Van City service center took us in and diagnosed the problem to be bad propane. We ended up spending 3 day in Valley of Fire State Park to bleed out and empty the propane tank and 2 nights at a KOA near a casino in Vegas. A very different experience than was planned but much, but not all of the problem was solved. Still intermittent issues but we soldiered onto Mesa with our plans having set up a return visit to Van CIty for a couple other repairs we needed on Mightee Wonder Van.

This year has been a blessing. When we bought the van back in late 2019, we figure to continue travels as long as one of us has a valid drivers license. Didn’t anticipate the pandemic but we have found ways to safely travel and have fun.

I continue regularly with cycling, averaging about 60-70 miles per week mostly at elevation. We are blessed with good health, a safe community in which we live amongst good friends

Welcome to Chez Swell. Sand is our specialty.

In Chez Swell, located in the the San Rafael Swell in central Utah, we have a smorgasbord of sand for your delight. You can look at it, walk on it, wipe it out of your eyes and ears, shake it out of shoes, clothing, car, van, bed, dishes, brush it off your phone, wash it off your bike.

Basically it is everywhere. And the wind tunnel that is central and southern utah ( and frankly most of western USA, delivers it in very fun ways.

Up near Temple Mountain in the San Rafael Swell, Utah

The flavors vary depending upon location. The whole Colorado plateau encompassing western Colorado, southern Wyoming, eastern Nevada, much of Utah, and northern Arizona is sand in various forms. It came from ancient seas and lakes and rivers formed by the various tectonic plates moving around. 

Near Goblin Valley, Utah. San Rafael Reef in distance

How about some 2 billion year old Moenkopi sand on your plate found in Buckhorn draw?

What about Wingate sand from the majestic sandstone cliffs of the xxx period formed when seas rescinded forming a Sahara like desert in between the Rockies and what is now Nevada? These are seen everywhere.

Sandstone cliff

Earlier in the week on Monday, we were encamped in a little hoodoo like alcove across from the San Rafael reef. (Beautiful isn’t it?) 

Wind is blowing and we close our eyes, feeling like Lawrence of Ananda (haha). Such is life of the traveler. Like getting caught in a ice storm only it’s 80 outside and wind gusting to 30 as another front moves through. No wonder this place is only suitable for tourists!  

Time to entreat to the safe confines of Mighty Wonder Van where it is not so sandy. Except for the thin layer of sand on everything.

Sand on my outdoor Moon Chair


Such Tapasaya! Om Guru.

The resident gourmet chef prepares sautéed Napa cabbage with Ginger and the dishwasher pulls out his mundane Walmart macaroni salad. A few slices of pre baked protein round it out. Remember to eat your veggies while traveling. They help with regularity. 

Tuesday, the wind died down to a low comfortable breeze. Daytime Temps in 70’s. Night mid 40’s. We hiked Little Wild Horse slot canyon which is arguably the most popular hike in the swell. Two canyons go clear thru the reef the you hike in between in back side. 9 miles.
Here is link to video of the hike

Little Wild horse Canyon

Wednesday, we headed towards Capital Reef just south of the Swell. More reefs, more sand. Avast yea mateys.

We had considered heading to Bryce but decided to remain in Capital Reef. The park campground, Fruita was full of course but we did managed to dump tanks and take on fresh water for $5. Such blessings🙏🏻
We also did one brief hike of 2 hours 3 miles 

Driving thru the reef in early morning to refuel in Torrey.

Now we are encamped in a BLM area east of park up on a bluff where we have an amazing view of the east side of the reef. With its Navaho Sandstone sticking up like worn off teeth.

Capital Reef in background

No cell so will send this Thursday then route back to the Swell sandbox for some more gourmet sand.
{LATE BREAKING NEWS!}— after morning meditation and caffeine it was decided we will drive south down the Eastern back side of capital reef to Bullfrog, Utah where the Lake Powell ferry will take us across then on to Natural Bridges and Valley of the Gods in SE AZ. 😳
Not sure of cell service but will check in sometime and we will still be home on or before Tuesday. 🙄🤞🏻

Driving thru Capital Reef
Camping in Valley of the Gods near Bluff, Utah (founded in 650 A.D.)
Swimming in Lake Powell Upper end. Bullfrog, Utah

🙏🏻Blessing from the sand pile
Sraddha and Kent

Pre wash

2020 Desert Southwest

We have been here so many times and keep returning.

This February has been a bit more chilly than previous years, however with Mighty Wonder Van, we have remained warm and cozy when needed.

In previous RV travels with our bigger Class A rig, we tended to live from the inside out.

Last year out teardrop trailer experience taught is the value of nimble living from the outside in.

Now, we have, what we consider the best of both worlds. We have nimble easy travel yet can tuck in when weather necessitates.

Early Feb saw me riddling icy roads to head over Donner pass to take a shorter route thru western Nevada to Sedona AZ for a model Railroad meetup with some buddies.

Christmas Letter 2019

Christmas Card 2019-42019 rolled through like a freight train, didn’t it? Began with me getting all excited about buying a teardrop trailer, working all winter and spring on the photos and admin for our new Temple of Light in preparation for the largest event ever at Ananda Village in June. Then coordinating some amazing creatives for a week of photography and videography of an event with 1000 people

Christmas Card 2019-5Late January I headed to Tucson to run model trains and see my long time buddies.Joined by Sraddha who was helping one of her best friends move up here to the village.Hiking into a deep canyon near where we live and getting drenched in springtime snow without a jacket.

Christmas Card 2019-14

Our annual hike thru the oak savannah to hidden falls then the annual 40 mile bike ride around Sutter Buttes in the valley before it gets to hot .

img_3411Drove up to Portland to take delivery of Ladybug, our new custom built teardrop trailer and driving it home then traveling up in the remote NE section of California to experience the forests and desert and quietude.

Christmas Card 2019-19Spending several week long trips up in Tahoe/Truckee area hiking, cycling, trying out eBikes, sitting around campfires while the valley roasted in 100 degree temps.Hiking in High Sierra’s is an amazing experience.

Sure can see why indigenous people spent summers there. Fortunately we live at 2700 ft so are somewhat acclimated.nevertheless, hiking up a hillside at 8,000 ft takes your breath away even before you get to the view.Sraddha got an eBike in between everything. Takes the hills out of the ride

Christmas Card 2019 FreezingWe discovered that it can get real cold up there in late September,like down below freezing! We also learned that we prefer a bit more warmth.Ya think? Yup, we love the teardrop camping experience in warmer weather, however….

Christmas Card 2019-33We decided to see how well we could travel with the teardrop behind the subaru. (Hint, It travels well, but we don’t when weather turns cold). Nevertheless we headed to Utah for two weeks in early October.Saw a new niece, and some tall ones too. Had fun with some wonderful family.

We had scored a reservation down in Canyon lands National Park for 4 Christmas Card 2019-35nights.First 3 nights we great then weather turned as forecasted to freezing temps and 30 mph winds.brr. We bolted out of there to Zion, spending a few nights in motel due to no campgrounds available. A good lesson which we learned that is was time to move up from small trailer to something that is warm inside. The question was bigger trailer or camper van.

Christmas Card 2019-44Long story short, we found the van of her dreams in Atlanta of all places. Flew out the week before thanksgiving, bought it, and drove it 3000 miles back home. We had planned to drive over I-40 to Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving but the weather turned real freezing harsh so ended up traveling I-10 thru Tucson (in stealth mode) and LA then up I-5. Happy to tell you story in person.

Our new rig is called Wonder by Leisure Travel Vans. Only 24 ft on a Ford Transit chassis with diesel engine. We call her “MighTee Wonder” (MTW) and she drives like a dream. Already planning our 2020 trips.

We wish you all a very happy holidays and look forward to seeing ALL of you in 2020.

Some photos below of new rig. PS She loves driving it!!!

Link to Kent’s Christmas photo album

The Last Travel Pod Post

If you have never seen our old travelpod blog which is shutting down, here is the last post in it’s entirety:


Star Date Sunday, June 11, 9:15 AM PDT

This is the last post from Travelpod to you for three reasons.  I thought the last post might be it but this is definitely the last post.  We so much enjoyed this phase of travel and are now happily “home” at Ananda Village, fully engaged in community life, and many volunteer projects as well as cycling, railfanning and working in garden and yard (yes yard, heh heh).

First off:  Blog shutting down

The Travelpod blogging system we were using got bought out by a bigger “borg” and they are shutting it down June 18 so I need to send this to you before they do.
Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 9.17.41 AM
HOWEVER – An enterprising young soul has undertaken the task of providing archive space for the history and I have migrated a copy over there.  If you want to see any of our travels you can find them at the following link: http://bit.ly/PhotoKent_TravelArk I hope to resurrect them elsewhere so we will see.

 Secondly:  We sold CharLi

We sold CharLi,  our RV to a wonderful couple in Oakdale, Ca, about 3 hours south of here.  They have been looking for a long time for this model and were thrilled to be able to buy it.  The added bonus for us was his willingness to buy the tow package also.  And he was able to uninstall it so I hitched up Mr. Toad one last time to CharLi and drove both down to his home where we spent all day removing the system.  He will install on his jeep.  So we are done.  See photos below of CharLi with new owners, and a photo of Jim under the Jeep removing the tow bar.  Not an easy task!

Lastly:  I have a new blog

I have begun a new blog called “PhotoKent’s Musings” which I am just beginning to use.  It will feature some photos I take and also some photos I may have shot in previous years but I will talk about how I made the photo. So it will be less of a travel blog and more of a creative process blog.  You can click on this link to find the blog:  https://photokent.blog.  (oh wait, you are here already)

If you wish to subscribe to updates when I do make a post go to the bottom of the home page and add your email address then you will get an email notification when I post which is usually weekly or so.  It will also appear on my Facebook page when I post too.

It has been a wonderful journey and now a new phase opens up.  Please consider subscribing to my new blog.  And above all, be filled with joy in your life!

Kent

PS  here are some additional photos I posted all from iPhone