Railroad Days

When we began talking about this adventure, things were a little bit more organized in my mind.

The van would be running, and we would have had several overnight trips in her before we left. I’d have storage all figured out. Everything we needed would be purchased. We’d also have a better plan as to where we were going. A system, if you will.

Life has a way of getting in the way of planning things out perfectly – if we kept waiting until everything was perfect, we would still be waiting.   Jason didn’t have as much time to work on the van as he had hoped, and the lease of our house set the date we had to vacate. The house projects and getting rid of our stuff took priority from the van. The packing came the day before we left. Bode and I first rode in the van on our way out of Alameda 9 days ago. On that day, everything left in our garage was unceremoniously shoved in the van.

In this small space, it is very important that everything has a place. We realized this after the first 2 days of constant questioning “where’s this?” followed by ‘in a bag, either in the closet, under the jump seat or on top…i don’t know’. And so the van projects, tweaks and adjustments as well as the storage are getting figured out as we go. It will take some time, but we know the camera, map, and soy yogurt must always be easy to get to. I fear the day we can’t find a store selling soy yogurt (Bode loves it an he’s allergic to milk).

Saturday, we worked on Red Beard, with Jason doing some electrical stuff (horn fixed!), and me repacking. We gave Red Beard a break from the mountains and traveled through Carson City (yay Trader Joe’s) and Reno, Nevada before heading back into California and towards Lassen. We decided that if we are to camp, we need a more leisurely 3 pm roll-in.  Otherwise, its just too hectic to enjoy. That didn’t happen, but everything worked out perfectly anyway.

We drove into Portola, CA in the afternoon hoping to find a playground and campsites and were surprised to find  “Railroad Days”. Carnival rides, street fair and live music. Just what Bode needed. We ended up staying late and drove a few miles north to Lake Davis to camp really late.   In a true test of VW camping, we were able to pop the top and move all our junk to the driver’s seat without getting out of the van.

We went back to the fair on Sunday and did some ‘fishing’ thanks to the California Department of Fish and Game.  They set up a tub packed with hungry trout for the kids to try their hand at landing one.  I was surprised that the kids actually got to keep the fish.  The guys handed out backpacks to the kids and dropped the flopping fish in and they were happily on their way.  Kids walking around town with fish flopping around in their backpacks.  Gotta love it.  Portola also has a little skate park and free Wi-fi at City Hall.  All of this stuff is immediately next to each other, so we had a fun and easy morning enjoying Portola.

Next, we are heading on towards Lassen.

By the way, for those VW folks- Red Beard did great, no problems at all.

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10 thoughts on “Railroad Days

  • August 25, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    OK. Now you are streching the truth. I know Bode and he does not love soy yogurt. You make him eat soy yogurt, he tolerates soy yogurt, but he loves pizza. You should have made fish tacos out of the trout. I bet Bode would have loved that.

  • August 25, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    Ah, Ron-
    That was soy pudding he didn’t like. Soy yogurt is a daily staple. He wanted to keep the fish, but I said no. It was definitely a small country town –the kids had live fish flopping around in their backpacks. Not something I’ve seen in the bay area, but something I imagine happening where Dad grew up.

  • August 25, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    So I haven’t seen Bode since he was a tiny little baby at our wedding and I’ve been searching for a picture that tells me whether he looks more like Mom or Dad. Finally found it – to me, the pictures of Bode fishing with Jason and then skating at the skate park make him look like a miniature Jason. Particularly the concentration on his face on the scooter. Very cute!

    Keep up the blog entries – it’s a great way to get away from the hassle of work every day! Puts a smile on my face every time. 🙂

  • August 25, 2009 at 3:16 PM

    Yumm, yumm…who doesen’t love a good ole cup of Soy Yogurt?!?!?!

  • August 25, 2009 at 3:21 PM

    BTW…the BodesWell thong is a Fine, Fine Item! Ahhh…Christmas gift giving will be fun this year!

  • August 25, 2009 at 7:34 PM

    I am really loving your tales of life on the road in a VW van. My best friend Caroline & I quit our jobs in 1978 to do a “retirement trip” in a 73 van which we rigged up with a bed & roof vent. We figured we didn’t know what we would be like when we were old ladies so we’d retire first & come out of retirement when the money ran out, about 3 months later. We traveled from Nashville to all thruout the West, up the Pacific coast & on to Alaska since it was “only 1000 miles, as the crow flies…” somewhat longer as the VW van travels. Outran one forest fire, backpacked in some of the most beautiful wild places, drove over a winding steep mountain pass with one foot on the gas & the other on the brake when we had a vacuum leak that was repaired in Dawson City, Yukon…I could go on & on….. Long story short, my Ole Buddy, Ole Pal, Caroline died a couple months ago at age 60 from cancer..I can truly say that she lived well into her 60’s. Every year we’d commemorate our retirement & it still brings smiles to my heart. No matter where your bus will take you (or strand you, but believe me that’s part of the adventure!), this trip is just the beginning of a lifetime of memories. Happy Motoring!
    Pat (aka JoEtta Cool)
    PS. throw in some parachute cord along with the duct tape for car repairs — very handy if the gas cable breaks & you need to do a pull on the cord strung back into the engine compartment as you’re leaning forward maneuver 😉

  • August 26, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    Keep smiling. Through it all it will be a positive adventure especially for Bode (Soy Yogurt and all). Keep the blogs coming we are really enjoying your adventures!

  • August 26, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    Love reading about your adventures! May they keep coming. Are you cooking in your camper or doing campfires outside?

  • August 26, 2009 at 11:57 AM


    your early retirement sounds like it was a great adventure! We’ve considered Alaska, but fear we might be just a little too late in the season. Like you say… It’s only 1000 miles, so you never know 😉


  • August 26, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    Mike and Susan-

    only a few campfires so far. There’s no stove in the bus (those came later, in ’74 or so?) but we do have a multi-fuel single burner stove we use to cook outside. that means we’re burning unleaded gas and don’t need to carry around any extra fuel or canisters, other than our spare jerry-can.

    Our single most expensive upgrade to the bus was to remove the old ice-box and splurge on an Engel 12V refrigerator that runs off a second battery (isolated). Highly efficient and highly recommended!

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