Week 2 Full Time

Camper Van

๐ŸŽ She Took My Apple!?

Last week we finished up in Carson City, Nevada after our stay at a Harvest Host, an Alpaca Farm with cute Alpaca personalities and a gorgeous sunset. After two weeks traveling full time, we are coming up on the most days out on the road in a row!

๐Ÿšย  Weโ€™ve Made our Dream Come True. After several years of dreaming of building a camper van to travel in, we bought a 2020 AWD Ford Transit and built our travel home on wheels. Check our website home ๐Ÿ  to see more articles about our build and other related posts. As we embark to explore from sea to shining sea, our goal is to connect with people and places through visiting, service and good will, experience freedom and bonding through traveling together and unveil the spirit of uniting with natureโ€™s Divine details.ย 

Over the last two years that we were building our van, we were traveling across the country to visit family and friends on the east coast where we lived for so many years. Those trips typically took us a little over two weeks total, but we always needed to get back home for many reasons that might be expected, such as a house, pets, job and volunteer responsibilities. Many situations changed that now enable us to more freely enjoy a year out on the trail.

We drove to meet my cool cousin on the east side of Lake Tahoe. This cousin traveled with her brother and our uncle to Big Bear Lake in Lewiston, MI where my sister and I would spend the summer at our grandparents cabin.

These cousins only came about every other summer when they would fly out from their home in California and stay for about a week. We had so many fun childhood memories and are making more when we find moments like these to meet as adults for a visit to catch up.

We had happy hour appetizers at the Chart House overlooking Lake Tahoe to reminisce, catch up and ooh and ahhh over the views. We took our pictures to remember our visit and then Bill and I continued our drive around the lake to our overnight stay.

We knew that we would be heading further south into the California summer heat where Bill had found a cancellation in Sequoia National Park where the giant Sequoia’s can be found. We definitely didn’t want to pass that up.

๐Ÿ—“ 1st Night, Tahoe City, California

Harvest Hosts, Church Parking Lot

This was a nice, flat parking lot stay over spot with only us in our van, Mr. Knightley, sneaking a peak of the west side of Lake Tahoe that evening. Since we are trying to slow it down and drive only one or 2-3 hours a day at the most, it was a sweet spot to have a good night on the trail.

Bill chatted with the grounds keeper in the morning while I finished getting ready to go and set the living room area up for the day. He loved hearing about the local information on the area and thoughts on living there and how it had changed over the last several years.

Time to head back out on the road to explore this side of the lake as we to start heading to our next night over and bucket-list destination.

She Took My Apple

Heading south on route 50 just south of Lake Tahoe, we encountered an Agricultural Inspection Protection Station where they asked where we were traveling and the purpose. They also asked if we had any plants or fruit, which of course, I said yes to, because I had fruit.

I remembered that I had an apple and strawberries and blueberries (although, I forgot that I had two tangelos in the fridge also).

The apple did not have a sticker with a bar code on it and I had bought it somewhere in Wyoming a week before our trip. As for the remainder of my strawberries, we didn’t know where their original packing had been because I threw that away and put the remainder of them in with the rest of the blueberries in that container to consolidate.

After she had looked over my fruit and we discussed the why’s and what for’s of this process in a casual, happy chatty way, she passed the blueberry container back to me. She had finished saying that they had inspections to check off certain things like location and items and such and was finished telling me about her list.

It seemed that the inspection was done, but she did not give my apple back. I asked her, probably a little forlornly, so, you’re keeping my apple?

She said yes, that she needed to research it further?! Ummm, I didn’t remind her that the strawberries weren’t identified either as they weren’t in the original container, but I let it go. I cared much more about my strawberries than I did the apple for some reason.

In hindsight, I should have just eaten my apple right then and there, then it wouldn’t be an issue. Right?

But, I always think of the things I should have done, well after the shock. Anyway, I think this is the link that explains it all. It sure did feel like we were in trouble and going through to another country and through a border crossing interrogation!

Later, I did see that the strawberries and the blueberries were both products from California when I looked at my grocery photo I took on our first day off on our travels and after I packed everything in the refrigerator and freezer drawer.

Now, let’s get back to our stay in a church parking lot. That may sound somewhat unusual. I haven’t said much about “Harvest Hosting”, overnight staying. So, maybe it is a good time to give you our thoughts on this type of staying, or parking overnight as an option for places to stay while traveling.

The Harvest Hosts website says this…”We are a network of wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, and attractions that invite RVers to stay in 4629+ stunning camping sites. The $99 yearly membership gives members unlimited access to stay overnight at any one of our Hostโ€˜s locations. We kindly ask our members to support their Hosts by purchasing one of their local products with each stay!”

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Click on this special link to get our personalized promotion for Harvest Hosts for 15% off and it helps us out too.

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How Harvest Hosts Works

The goal is to change the way RVers adventure. Hosts offer a different way for RVers to meet other travelers, stay overnight in gorgeous settings, and create unique memories. 

  • ๐Ÿš Members get unlimited, unique overnight dry camping opportunities๐ŸŒ…
  • ๐Ÿ‡ Hosts get new customers and great exposure for their business๐Ÿ“
  • ๐Ÿ˜ƒ Members and Hosts get to meet and connect with each other on their adventures; creating lasting memories๐Ÿซฒ๐Ÿผ

We love using Harvest Hosts and have been members since July of 2021. The more you use the membership, the less your stays will cost.

There are a few different ways to look at the cost of a stay once the year membership is accounted for and take in consideration and a look at what is spent at different host stays.

There may be an opportunity to go for dinner at their restaurant or to purchase a dozen eggs at the farm or go on a tour or whether to just give a donation. It’s up to you how you quantify your purchases whether it’s put under eating out, or for groceries, gifts, charity, etc. or if you choose to add it in to the total costs of staying overnight.

Here is a list of our biggest reasons for using their membership.

  1. Harvest Hosts are more often available when there is not a campground option to stay overnight, giving us more choices.
  2. Most Harvest Hosts will just need one or two days notice to book their place to stay, enabling more flexibility with timing our travels.
  3. Unique opportunities to stay overnight in beautiful settings.
  4. There are no, or hardly any, Harvest Hosts with campfires. Burning wood really bugs my sinuses and can give both of us headaches, so this is great for us.
  5. We are often the only, or one of few, others staying overnight, making it easier to connect one on one with other visitors and/or host.
  6. Harvest Host stays are typically very quiet evenings.
  7. The overnight stays can be more affordable than campgrounds or other places to stay overnight, especially the more often the membership is used.

Check out Harvest Hosts online for more details to see if it is right for you, but don’t forget to come back and get your 15% with our GoodnightTrail promotion. They often have deals to look out for during the year as well.

Continuing south we stopped a few times to take in the spectacular mountain views and rivers and lakes and to infuse our senses with the different aromas of the natural surroundings.

๐Ÿ—“ 2nd Night, Raymond, California

Core of Engineers, Codorniz Campground

On our way to Sequoia National Park and our newly-made reservation at a campground in the park, we wanted to continue to go slowly. So, we found a good stopping point. We have discovered that the U.S. Corps of Engineers have wonderful recreation areas as well as fairly priced campgrounds with nice facilities.

The agency is responsible for a wide range of efforts in the United States including addressing safety issues related to waterways, dams and canals but also environmental protection, emergency relief, hydroelectric power and a lot more. This is often why their campgrounds are beautiful places of retreat and make a great setting for camping.

Once again, it was in the 90’s during the day so we arrived late in the afternoon and set up the AC with our electric hookup we purchased.

Turkeys roamed the neighborhood and made frequent stops at a leaky water spigot and many other birds, such as a Nuthatch and Juncos and evening bats were filling their measure of joy in this pretty place.

What a beautiful cool evening that set us up for an early break to get us off to our much anticipated destination as we trekked south, even against our better judgment in the summer.

We knew once we arrived, it would be a perfect summer stay with comfortable temperatures and stunning scenery.

๐Ÿ—“ 3rd Night, Sequoia National Park, California

Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park

The giant sequoia is the largest tree in the world in volume and has an immense trunk with a very slight taper. Many can grow between 250 and 300 feet tall, the tallest being about 325 feet high.

Still reaching impressive heights, giant sequoias are typically shorter than their coastal relations, the redwoods which is the world’s tallest tree. The giant sequoias spread up to 25-35′ at maturity. They are closely related, but do exhibit many individual characteristics that distinguish them from each other.

The pining for more understanding of the ancient trees and beauty is as enveloping as the sweet, steeping aroma of wood, pine, flowers and foliage so unique to this forest. I’ve never been anywhere with this heavenly recipe of scented flavor; welcoming yet mystifying. I feel small in the grand scheme of things here, yet significant.

This is a remnant stump of the “Mark Twain” tree. It was felled in 1891 so that slabs from the trunk could be shown in museums in New York and London to help in conservation efforts. Many of these giant stumps can be found in the park on the Giant Stump Trail.

โ€œI can call back the solemn twilight and mystery of the deep woods, the earthy smells, the faint odors of the wild flowers, the sheen of rain-washed foliage, the rattling clatter of drops when the wind shook the trees, the far-off hammering of wood-peckers and the muffled drumming of wood-pheasants in the remotenesses of the forest, the snapshot glimpses of disturbed wild creatures skurrying through the grass, – I can call it all back and make it as real as it ever was, and as blessed.โ€ Mark Twain

I was in heaven and awe struck at every step. I saw a happy rock that seemed to reflect my very being. To see my Goodnight Trail Facebook reel and the smiling rock I saw on Congress Trail inside the park, click on the link.

๐Ÿ—“ 4th Night, Raymond, California

Core of Engineers, Codorniz Campground

After our blissful visit to the long awaited trip to witness the great Sequoias, we headed right back to the Core of Engineers Codorniz Campground. We arrived late again for a quick, overnight stay before going back north to our summer plan for cooler temperatures.

Just a quick stop but in the evening it was just beautiful summer camping.

But no better place to be in the summer for comfortable air than at our next destination which we specifically planned for the weekend to have the most time with friends in a new city for us.

5th & 6th Nights, San Francisco, California

Downtown San Francisco, Friend’s Neighborhood

We have had San Francisco in the plans to visit for a long time now, especially since we met our latest van friends while building out our van. We noticed, they too were working on a quality, DIY camper van build and Bill and he started asking questions back and forth online about our builds.

We also met them in person on a few different occasions across the country. We always discussed visiting them in their home city where they could give us a tour since they have lived there many years.

Well, they gave us quite the insider tour!

They took us to popular places to view the Golden Gate Bridge. At one stop I had to snag a photo on the way, because, when I see a frame I must stop to shoot, stop time and capture the moment that snags my heart.

Further down the trail is the typical photo everyone is looking for.

A not so typical video of the wall of fog passing through the Golden Gate Bridge captivated my attention.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps is a community-driven mosaic with neighbor-named tiles. If features a design of a flowing sea to the stars and has 163 steps following a beautiful garden all the way up.

The Four Seasons Houses are some of the most beautiful and distinctive houses in San Francisco on Haight and Ashbury streets.

The Palace of Fine Arts is a Greco-Roman palace and gardens and is quite an architectural attraction.

It was originally built as a temporary structure for the World Fair in 1915. It became so beloved as a representative of resilience that it was kept, but was falling apart by 1950.

In 1964 it was demolished down to only its steel structure and rebuilt with great attention to detail.

Many beautiful parks adorn the already beautiful landscapes of the city.

Know as the crookedest street in the world … where millions of visitors walk or drive down its eight, sharp, manicured, hairpin turns, including us!

After a day and a half visit, we said our thank you’s and goodbyes for a wonderful and thoughtful visit with friends and personal tours!

๐Ÿ—“ 7th Night, Napa, California

Harvest Hosts, Dan Dan Olive Farm

We traveled just a little ways north to continue on our journey to follow the California coast north. We meandered just a little east inland for this beautiful setting of rest and recuperation from a somewhat whirlwind trip so far.

What a setting for our last day of our second week traveling full time in our home on wheels.

We opted to try another Harvest Hosts on our way and found this olive farm to be the perfect location to catch up from a week-filled of van living travel.

Click Here to see my Goodnight Trail Facebook reel #1.

Click here to see my Goodnight Trail Facebook reel #2.

Week 2 and loving the travel and experiences and meeting old friends, family and new connections to people and places every day! We are all on a journey.

Follow us as we share how we live by these themes and principles through our adventures, as we have joy in all aspects of the journey and refine our spirits through purposeful experiences.  May we meet up in person on our adventure or through our posts. Thank you for coming along with us on our first week! Have a good night on the trail fellow travelers, wherever you are ๐Ÿš๐ŸŒ„

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