Reflections From The Road: Months 7-9

As I looked back through our blog to get a sense of what our life has been like in months 7-9 on the road…I am overwhelmed with emotion. I am in awe of how many places we’ve been, how many amazing people we’ve met, and the sheer joy of it all. We are so grateful for every day that God allows us to keep going on this journey.

Right now I am sitting at the dinette in the RV. We’re parked for the night in Penngrove, CA at a small park. The only sound is the soft hum of my computer fan and the tapping of my fingers on the keys. Outside…it’s completely quiet as the fog rolls in off the ocean. There is a chill in the air even though it’s almost June. Inside…Bella is sound asleep on the couch. She was determined to go to sleep there “all by herself” tonight…and she did. :) Matt is asleep in the back. Life is good. We have food. We have grease. We have faith. We have freedom. We have each other. Ahhhhhh…. :)

Here are some thoughts from these last couple of months…

Raw on the Road
We’ve been eating primarily raw foods for going on 5 months now…and we feel great! Matt just recently bought some new jeans because he has lost 40 lbs! He went from a tight 38 to a loose 34 in about 2 months. Eating is a joyful thing around here…there are no feelings of restriction or rules. A typical day for me might look like this (Matt eats the same, just more):

8:30am Green smoothie [banana/pineapple/mango/spirulina/hemp seeds/spinach]
10:30am Big bowl of strawberries
12:30pm Kale Avocado Salad
3:30pm Peaches (2 or 3)
6:30pm Walnut Meat Tacos
8:00pm Watermelon (lots!)
9:30pm Pot of hot herbal tea

I may occasionally throw in some other yummy snacks…like a handful of raisins or some Manna bread smeared with raw almond butter and creamed honey. We like to keep it simple…if I can make it in under 10 minutes, I’m happy :) The West coast is PACKED with amazing raw food restaurants and we’ve been trying them all! I’ll be posting photos and reviews at Happy Foody soon. Yum yum!

Beaches and Being Outside
We’ve been spending a lot of time outside and it’s so good for the soul. There is just something living in the RV that makes the outdoors feel so much closer. It seems much more accessible…a shorter walk to the door maybe? :) I love to make lunch and immediately walk outside to eat it…whether it be at a picnic table or just on the curb. The beaches have been so soothing. Siesta Key was beyond beautiful. San Diego…wow. Malibu…double wow. And then there was Carpinteria…probably my favorite beach so far. For someone who hadn’t really seen the ocean much before this tour…I’m getting my fair share of delicious sand and sunsets. Bella LOVES the sand. It’s safe to say that she will be a water girl…and will take after her daddy. He’ll probably have her wakeboarding by the time she’s 5. I am much more comfortable on land, however…but I enjoy watching them run around like crazy people.

We have had the opportunity to experience so many unique and vibrant churches during our trek across the south. Big churches. Small churches. House churches. It’s also encouraging to see the church as a whole start to concern themselves more with environmental issues. There is a lot of education going on in the local church…about how we can take better care of creation and in turn, take better care of God’s people as well.

Feels Like Home
We’ve enjoyed a lot of family time on this leg of the tour. My parents and my brother, Dan, flew into Scottsdale, AZ for business…but came 4 days early to hang out with us. We spent days and days just laying around the pool in gorgeous 90 degree weather…pure bliss and good tans! By that point in the tour, we were in desperate need of a break! It may seem like we are on a giant vacation…but we really do work…and the hours were getting long. Then, my parents extended their stay and rode with us in the RV to San Diego, and spent another 4 days there. What fun! Then, a few days later, we picked up my sister Laura and her fiance, Dan, at LAX (they flew in from Minneapolis) and they spent 5 days with us in Malibu/Santa Monica, CA. It’s been such a blessing being able to share our travels with people we love.

Geeky Stuff
Somewhere back around New York City, our original GPS bit the dust. We didn’t buy another one right away because the iPhone worked in a similar manner. However, we REALLY missed the GPS. We ended up getting a new one in Atlanta, and I cannot believe we waited that long. It’s a life saver. The difference is that with the GPS, Matt can just drive and navigate on his own. Whereas with the iPhone, I needed to be up in the front telling him where to turn, quickly typing in addresses, etc. In heavy traffic, it’s not a fun marital experiment :) Life is so much better when I can be tending to Bella…reading books, etc. while Matt navigates on his own. So glad it’s back.

We also added another gadget to our techie bag…a Verizon air card that works like magic. We were hesitant to get one in the beginning of the tour because of the cost, but after doing a lot of research…decided to bite the bullet. Costco has a special for members where you can get the card itself for around $10.00 and the service is $60 a month. It has been worth every single penny. Now we are able to have internet on our computer anywhere there is a cell signal…and we don’t have to seek out a wi-fi hotspot to get our work done. What an amazing feeling.


We have had an abundance of grease throughout these last few months…not including that one time in the middle of Texas when we ran out :) With diesel prices at about $5.15/gallon, we just smile when we drive right by the gas station! We have made back our initial investment on our veggie system several times now…it’s so great knowing that we are driving clean and driving for free. Matt is an absolute pro at finding and gathering…and after 17,000 miles (pre-tour included) on veggie oil, he should be!


We have stayed very busy with work these past couple of months…photo shoots, demos, raw food coaching…it’s been wonderful. Because of this, I am a little behind on getting photos and blogs written. I have approximately 4,000 photos waiting to be sorted/edited, etc. And that’s just California! :) Have patience with me though…I’m getting them done and the west coast has been an amazing ride! I can’t wait to show you all the beautiful sites…

We are embarking on the last leg of the tour…we’ll be headed into Oregon next week and then Washington and Vancouver. After that, we’ll be spending longer periods of time in Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa…catching up with family. It’s hard to believe we moved into the RV almost a year ago already! What a wild ride. :)

New York Times

We were mentioned very briefly in the New York Times over the weekend…you can read the entire article, “Chasing Utopia, Family Imagines No Possessions” here. You may have to register for free account with their site to read it. The article features several families who are headed down the same path of living lightly…including our boat-dwelling friends in Annapolis, Cindy and Doug. Be sure to check out the featured family in the article, Cage Free Family, the choices they are making will inspire you!

Dripping Springs, TX: Andre and Evan

We left for Austin, TX at 7:45 a.m…full of energy and smiles :) We were expecting a part for the RV motorized step to arrive that morning at the auto parts store and we were going to pick it up. However, we ended up waiting at store for quite awhile for their delivery truck. The truck finally arrived, but after Matt worked at it for an hour or so, we found that it was not going to work and had to drive back to the other side of town and return it. By this time, it was noon…and we needed to get on the road. It had already been a long morning, and we hadn’t even left town yet! It was a great reminder, though, how blessed we are to always have our home with us wherever we go. Bella and I were able to have play time and snacks during all of it!

All was well until we got to Taylor, TX, when we ran out of veggie oil. The fuel gauge was being a little feisty, and it appeared that we had much more than we did. Luckily, Matt was able to roll safely to a parking lot, and got the issue resolved. We had to switch over to run diesel for a bit…and for the first time in 14,000 miles on veggie oil, we had to run solely on diesel. It’s not a fun thing on the budget! 20 gallons for $90.00. Ouch!

We finally arrived in Austin at sunset (so pretty!), heading to Dripping Springs (just outside of Austin) to park at Andre and Evan’s eco-homestead in the hills! We arrived, got parked and headed inside. The first thing we noticed was the wonderful simplicity and beauty of their home. It was clear they took pride in creating a haven for their family. In talking with them further, we got a better picture of their home and what their goals were. I asked Evan to give me the run down in her own words:

We have a 2000 square foot metal roof to collect our water from. We had to honor our HOA restrictions, but decided on a roof that size based on André’s calculations for the amount of water that we needed. We have (2) 10,000 gallon holding tanks for the house and (1) 3000 gallon tank for the garden and (1) 200 gallon prewash tank. The first 200 gallons go into this tank so that any debris from the roof stays in this tank and doesn’t go into the household tanks. We also have a 1000 gallon tank as the garden back up. Our hope is to install a shop building this year and collect water from that roof as well. It will probably be about 1200 square feet of roof. Another project this year involves a covered porch for the front and a cover over the back patio. The coverings will provide more water collection and also help keep the house cooler in summer.

The actual structure is a metal building that we finished out. It came with an insulated liner. We added traditional studs for the walls, drywall and formaldehyde free insulation in the walls and the ceilings. We then wrapped the entire structure with limestone. Again, we had to comply with HOA restrictions, but this greatly increased our R factor (how well something is insulated). I estimate that we’re at R45, but that might just be my enthusiasm. We’re basically a house within a house and the air pocket in between the framing and the metal structure adds to the insulation.

We have only rainwater collection, so we’re very water-conscious. We had to change some of our water habits when we moved here, but now they are just habits and we don’t even notice that it’s a sacrifice. For the three of us we probably use 30 gallons of water a day. Some more or less depending on whether or not it’s a laundry day or if the dishwasher is run. We use the dishwasher about once every three days. Most days we’re under 30 gallons. We take military showers so that helps.

We’ve used low or no VOC paints, reclaimed materials when we can find them, and bamboo flooring from sustainable sources. Some of our furniture is new, but most of it is inherited or Craig’s listed.

Now that’s an eco-friendly house! And let me just tell you…their house is wonderful and inviting to be in! They are set back up in the hills and they have enough land to feel very secluded and free. It’s lovely. Every time I walked from the house to our RV, the crisp cool air would fill my lungs…and it was almost as if it had some kind of magical “happy” potion in it. :) Ahhhhhhh…

Evan and Andre are involved with various eco-minded projects in their city. They are in the process of starting a food coop and are working closely with CSA’s and local growers. They are also in the very beginning processes of planning and developing a holistic health and wellness center. They are part of a team of healers that are interested in non-Western practices. Evan in in school right now for naturopathy and André is a 5th degree black belt in a variety of martial arts. He teaches Tai Chi, Qi Gong and is a Reiki master. It was so refreshing and fun to see a family that walks their talk. They are passionate about the environment, each other, and living simply. The best part is that they are actively teaching their daughter to follow that same path.

Our days in Dripping Springs were filled with little girls laughter, raw food making, and good conversations. We ate at the cutest little restaurant, The Leaning Pear (located in Wimberley, TX). I could have stayed on their patio for the rest of my life! :) We also loved the Thai Noodle House, near the University of Texas campus. Big portions of yummy food for little prices!

A big thanks to Andre, Evan, and Pilar for their generous hospitality!

Photo album here.

Doyline, LA: Lake Bisteneau State Park

We had a long drive ahead of us as we headed toward Texas…so we decided to break it up into 2 legs. Knowing that Bella’s birthday was on April 7, we decided to make that day a family day and spend a few days at Lake Bisteneau State Park, just outside of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Lake Bisteneau turned out to be a beautiful, quiet state park with a great price tag (only $16 a night!). Nearly every site had a large wooden deck on it, and all the roads were newly paved and perfect for a little girl with training wheels :)

We settled in for the night and got up early next morning to celebrate Bella’s fourth birthday. We surprised her by decorating the inside of the RV with pink streamers and balloons. She got to open up her presents right away, and then we got all the bikes ready for a ride and went to the playground. While we were there, we received several phone calls and emails about urgent tour-related business and had to drive the 25 miles into town to take care of a few things. Sometimes I think it would be really nice to have satellite internet!

When we got back, we made a raw strawberry pie, at Bella’s request, put that in the fridge to chill…and headed back out on another bike ride, this time with Bella in the Burley. When we got back, we held the candle lighting ceremony outside and we each grabbed a fork and dug into the pie! Yum! Bella had us re-light the candles 3 times for her to blow them out again. When we got back into the camper, she re-wrapped a couple of her presents again too…just for the thrill of it!

It was a really peaceful couple of days…they only thing is that we are still itching all the mosquito bites we got while staying there! Our campsite was right next to the lake (aka “the swamp”) and the mosquitoes were deadly!

Off to Austin!

Photo album here.

Birmingham, AL: Ryan and Meredith

We knew nothing at all about Birmingham, Alabama when we arrived … but quickly found that it’s a fun college town with huge views and lots of flowering trees! The minute we parked at Ryan and Meredith’s house, we smelled the flowers! Purple wisteria and white dogwood trees…gorgeous!

Bella was a happy girl to find out that this stop had a little girl to play with as well. This little girl was Audrey…and she had really fun toys and dress up clothes…a play kitchen and a new swing set with a sand box. A dream come true! It took Bella about 2 seconds to get off the RV and over to their swings!

The night we arrived, Meredith made a delicious homemade tomato basil soup and we enjoyed conversation over dinner and afterwards we watched the girls play in all their silliness. Every 5 minutes they would come out with a new outfit on…costume changes were an integral part of their time together :) They danced up a storm while Matt played the ABC’s and 5 Little Monkeys on the guitar. Fun times :)

On Thurs. night, I had the opportunity to shoot some stock photos for MPower in Birmingham. Ryan is the Executive Director of MPower, an inner city ministry. The night I went, they were providing free medical care for those who needed it. After that, Meredith and Ryan took us out to a delicious Thai restaurant near downtown Birmingham. So tasty. After we came back home, we watched Becoming Jane. A delightful little flick :)

Thank you Ryan and Meredith for a wonderful visit…and to Audrey too!

Photo album here.