Yoga and Alumapalooza 4

Alumapalooza 4: Our 4th year of returning home to the Mothership! Airabella’s birthplace, 22 years ago. Oh how we love to return home. I liken a trip to the Airstream factory as a trip to the ultimate candy store. 🙂

Our first official day as this years Alumapalooza Yoga Instructors started out beautifully with our 7:30am yoga class … 20 people in total! The weather was pure perfection, and with a freshly raked mown lawn under the big top tent, the earthen carpet for those to practice on was soft, clean and so very compelling in its true connection to Mother Earth, in every sense of the word. I love it when  people who are new to yoga, make the effort to come to our morning classes, never having attended any sort of class before. From the outset, we were very clear that these classes were purely a practice of breathing and stretching where we learn to listen to our bodies. Becoming attuned to one’s senses and connecting with in the inner world can be a very new experience for many. Any of the extra benefits of yoga (such as flexibility and strength) are just that … additional perks rather than goals. No excuses necessary or allowed! We had 7 new attendees, 4 of them new to Alumapalooza. YAY!

I learned a lot today from the multitude of discussions being offered in the main tent …. many great tips on rV Organization by a new friend Ramona Creel, the tech tips behind axle replacement on the Airstream by our friend Colin Hyde (we are possibly due to replace all 3 of our tandem axles). I had a tremendous amount of fun learning how to fly a trick Revelation kite (‘The Rev’), with Joe and my hubby. Roving Happy Hour was a wonderful success! We’ve been hanging with a similar group for the past 3 nights, and I’m thoroughly enjoyingWe were very blessed to have lent to us the wide variety of personalities, talents and knowledge base of these various new & old friends. It’s been such an amazing day of weather, warm sunshine, a cool breeze and endless blue skies. We topped off our day with sunset kite dances. Spectacular! Life is pretty incredible and amazing.

Arctic Blast

The temperatures for the next 4 days are predicted to be beyond comfortable with an Arctic Blast quickly moving south from Canada. Snow and ice had already wreaked havoc in Dallas this morning, and the pipe-bursting weather is predicted to hit Houston by tomorrow night. A good time for slaDE and I to head in to Houston for the week. Who wants to hang out in a trailer when we have a warm cosy space with friends (and 2 border collies + 2 feisty cats) whom we only get to hang out with one time per year?!

Fuel tips

Having overnighted in Houston, it was only a short travel day to Skydive Houston at their new drop zone in Eagle Lake. We made a pitstop at the Super Wal-Marts in Katy for fuel and staples. We discovered just only recently that some of the Super Wal-Marts offer diesel at remarkably cheaper rates than any truck stop prices we’ve come across. Almost 15-20 cents cheaper! When filling a 30 gallon tank each time, that savings adds up quickly.

My two tips of the day ….

  1. The website findfuelstops.com maps out the truck stops along your designated route and lists the latest (and cheapest) diesel prices at each stop that publishes their rate — the option to list ALL truck stops, with or without price also exists. This is a great resource in planning out a long haul trip, especially when crossing state lines. For example, we were debating whether to fill up yesterday either before leaving Louisiana or upon arriving in Texas. We chose the former, and it turns out diesel is much cheaper in LA than TX. A great savings!
  2. Super Wal-Marts that have a fuel island offer substantial savings in filling up your truck compared to the local truck stops or gas stations. If you have a Wal-Mart credit card, an additional 3% savings can be had.

From my RV Travel weekly newsletter (RVTravel.com: Issue 466), here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel.

  • Regular unleaded gasoline: $3.10 (on January 28) Change from week before: Down one cent.Diesel: U.S. $3.43 (on January 24) Change from week before: Up 2 cents

The price for our diesel at the Katy Texas Wal-Mart was $3.15 per gallon. That’s a huge savings from the weekly average. Last year at exactly this time, diesel averaged around $2.78 per gallon. Yikes! That’s quite the leap.
Hope this tidbit of information helps to save you money on the road :).

Our arrival at Skydive Houston was like the sweetest homecoming ever. Many of our friends from last years visit (who were on the ground, not jumping) surrounded us, full of hugs and smiles. It was an incredible welcome. And so good to see them all again. With a new airport location and temporary spacious facility for Skydive Houston (a new hangar and loft is in the planning and building stage on the ginormous airport lot, where a 4000 foot paved runway already exists), it was awesome for us to witness the fresh start to such huge potential for our beloved Texan drop zone. And of course, trailer hookup (water and electricity) was available to us for our stay whilst here. Sweet! We celebrated our arrival with our friend Stacey and enjoyed a yummy Mexican meal …. luckily, the camera that I had left behind at the restaurant was later retrieved. Thankful for honest goodhearted people.

Biloxi Red, Yellow and Oranges (no Blues here!)

Breakfast with the kids (Melody and Family) consisted of freshly squeezed organic orange juice, scrumptious steel cut oats and a yummy organic fruit salad. Truly, when I feed my body well, I am lovingly feeding my mind and soul. It was a wonderful albeit quick visit to begin our sunshiny Florida morning.

An exciting addition to our new family was made as well! An Android Smartphone that was no longer needed by Erez became an inexpensive purchase that will hopefully prove to be a useful tool in our travels. Currently, we own a basic Net10 flip phone — no bells and whistles here, and for the most part, we’ve been quite happy with its efficiency and cheap 10 cents per minute calls, no contract, no fees. Sadly however, the pay-as-you-go SIM card will not transfer over to the newly acquired smartphone. Bah humbug. So for now, until further research is done, we’ll use our ‘Desire’ Droid for Wi-fi access and the Net10 for basic calls and text messages. I wish that a phone company would come up with a phone plan that encompassed all of North America. It’s difficult to swallow paying 2 separate plans, for both the US and Canada, especially when 1 of those accounts will be ‘inactive’ for 6 months. We maintain our Canadian phone during our travels, year round. One telephone service contract is enough, thank you very much!

After leaving our eastbound friends to head west towards Louisiana, the next decision was an attempt to find inexpensive accommodation before our planned ‘high priced’ day (tomorrow) in the French Quarter. We discovered an RV park right in the heart of downtown New Orleans that appealed to us with our 1 day stay in the city called the French Quarter RV Resort. By far, this will be one of the most expensive RV parks we’ve stayed at during our travels, but because they honour a ½ price discount for Passport America members, the fee is affordable, and well worth the convenience of being smack dab in the bosom of New Orleans. The touted beauty of this RV Resort lay in the security features offered, with gated 24 hour video and foot security. Needed, I think, with the city projects on the outskirts of the French Quarter. Big shiny objects like an Airstream trailer might attract unwanted visitors. And thus, I like to play it safe. slaDE~ was comfortable with staying just outside of the heart in a Walmart parking lot, boondocking for the night before checking in to the Resort. However, I didn’t feel as secure in such surroundings.

With this in mind, I was scouring the map for a relatively close-to-New Orleans pitstop for the night. And Biloxi, Mississippi had our name all over it. On the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Sound, Biloxi is a noted deep-sea fishing and tourist centre which seemingly thrives with big name Casinos by the waterfront (Katrina and the tanking economy devastated this once opulent metropolitan centre). Upon closer inspection, it certainly appeared to be a really cool part of the world that neither of us had visited. And with a few quick phone calls, we found that the Grand Casino could offer us complimentary parking for the evening with 24 hour security as a bonus. Sweet!

After parking Airabella, with the sun barely skirting the horizon, I managed to catch some truly gorgeous sunset shots on the still Gulf waters from the man-made beach’s edge. You be the judge …. tell me what you think of the photos!

As with any Casino, many offer perks when joining as a club member. The 2 for 1 seafood buffet sounded like a divine treat. Crab legs out the ying-yang and lots of decent food made for a perfect ending to a great day!

We HIGHLY recommend the Grand Casino as a wonderful spot to boondock whilst visiting the Biloxi coastal area. Several nights stay here plus the option to unhitch ones trailer is allowed.

Casino camping (a form of boondocking, where no camp services are provided) is an wonderful option when looking for free overnight parking. The RVTravel.com newsletter pledges: “Forget about shopping centers or interstate rest areas — you’re apt to get a middle-of-the-night knock on the door asking you to move. Even many Wal-Marts have posted “No Overnight Parking” signs. Some truck stops are okay, but they’re noisy. Casinos, on the other hand, are hospitable to campers.” However, calling the Casino in advance and checking in with security is a common courtesy and preference. Our boondocking experience thus far in our Airstream travels has been, for the most part, positive and safe. Our Airstream is well insulated from noisy truck stops, so we don’t mind staying there. Wal-marts are good in that security cameras usually scan the parking lots 24-7, but finding businesses with Overnight Privileges is few and far between.

Moving Day

Moving day, again. It’s been an amazing week in Sarasota with our friends. But as the hours tick by, it’s time to make headway towards Texas. The draw of big ways, a wedding and Belize is beckoning us with a persistent whisper. I’m personally hypnotized by the gorgeous weather factor of Florida, but as consistent with the rest of the country, winter clothes need to be unfurled from the closet, and tucked at the ready. Sigh, at least we had a piece of Florida heaven whilst we were here.

Freshly squeezed organic orange / tangelo / mandarin juice helped to stoke the Florida fires, and without further ado, we were off, with many hugs, a promise of a return (someday) and a burgeoning storm to the northwest of us. And WOW, did the tempest hit, with a vengeance! Pelting rain enveloped our Airstream bubble, to the extent that 10 feet in front of us was a blurry haze (could have been I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but you get the idea). It felt like we were advancing through a torrential cleansing truck wash, but this, at 60 miles per hour! Seemingly unscathed (apart from jittery nerves hat lulled me in to a deep oblivious sleep), we stopped for the night just outside of Tallahassee. And then I walked in to the bedroom. Eeeek, a flood! Well, rather I should say, a leak. Through the rear improvised bedroom vent closure, water had made its way through some crevice, dumping the deluge on to our once dry bed cover. Sigh, more water repairs. But at least we have new Fantastic Fans ready to be installed when we return home. Lesson, you can never caulk to much! Makes me a tad bit nervous on our Fall caulking attempts which seemingly had been waterproof!

Like passing RVs in the night, we were gifted with a surprise text from our Canadian friend’s Melody and Erez, who happened to be only a few miles away. Within 30 minutes, a reunion between skydiving friends led to an evening of entertainment and big belly laughs, with little crawling Riley grinning up a storm and humungus Bender brightening our visit. Wonderful to feel the smallness of this planet, which at times seem beyond big, diverse, and at times lonely and without familiar faces.

Tampa RV Super Show

An old cigar factory and store in Ybor City

I was really looking forward to the Florida Super Show in Tampa. The dates of the show were scheduled between this past Wednesday through to tomorrow. Having spent a few extra unplanned days in Orlando with our friends, I was happy to at least get 1 full day in before the event’s closing. We were happy to have Minna tag along with us, so that she could experience the RV lifestyle through viewing the latest RVs and the newest technology. The beauty of the vast fairground acreage meant that it was highly accessible for wheelchairs, except for the actual entrance and exit in to each RV on display. One day was certainly not enough to view the entire Super Show … our ticket was a two day pass, but we only had allotted one day for the venue. With all the informative seminars going on, the acres of RVs to view and the vendors booths circulated throughout the grounds, we were on the go from our arrival until the park closed. My favourite area, of course, was the Airstream contingency. Gleaming rows of spanking new aluminum bullets made my heart glow with pride of ownership. 🙂 I even daydreamed about our potential next new Airstream, if that were ever to arise.

So much to see and do! Of course, an area for kids was apportioned for the kids, and a free climbing wall climb provided a nice distraction for us midday.

I took many photos throughout the day of cool RV innovations that I thought were worthwhile to include. I’ve made captions to describe what I found interesting about the picture. Unfortunately, I didn’t take notes on the manufacturer’s name or RV that the innovative item was housed. Sorry about that. Perhaps you’ll garner some ideas for useful potential inventions in your own home / RV!

Near the end of the show, we made our way to Camping World to look for any deals on the Fantastic Fans. We’re hoping to install two in our Airstream this Spring, as our current fan holes are temporarily sealed with the old blowers no longer functioning. We are definitely in need of alternate ventilation beyond the air conditioner, with the heat and humidity Summer brings! So after checking out what they had in stock, I noted that the two different models they had on display were labelled at one price for the two. Mentioning this to the girl upon checkout (with purchase of the 2 more expensive fans in hand), she noted that they she had to give me the ticketed prive, even though the actual Camping World price was double in value. Whoa! This meant a total of $180 in savings. WOW! Made for pretty happy campers :).

Ybor City with Minna and slaDE~

The Dirty Shame

After the RV Show, we made a beeline to Ybor City, a National Historic Landmark District just northeast of downtown Tampa. Ybor City was founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and was populated by thousands of immigrants who would roll millions of cigars annually in the multitude of cigar factories. Truly a vibrantly colourful part of town with much history, cool signs and tiling. But very quiet for a Saturday night. 🙂

A long long day of driving.

At 7am, a 2 hour and 20 minutes on the ferry crossing from Ocracoke to Cedar Island was ideal time to sleep and / or catch up on reading or writing. The Ocracoke Lighthouse made for a picturesque backdrop as we made our way through the choppy and rough passage. High winds whipped our tiny little boat in sporadic rolls and churn, and with each rhythmic lurch, the trailer (although chalked for the journey) sent the truck jolting back and forth along the deck, causing my startled nauseous nerves to stumble at times. slaDE~ was calming however and in the lull between chop, I continued to catch up on writing my unblogged thoughts and perusing through many a photo for said entries. My mind and body would not settle down enough to nap for the duration.

An unsuspecting result of the turbulent trip were the streaks of sea salt spray, hammering both truck and trailer. This had us searching for auto wash bays where our 55 foot long could squeeze in for a healthy wash and rinse, after we made our way down the coast of the mainland. Salt will do nasty things to uncoated aluminum and thereby needs to be removed as soon as possible. Although our trailer has a clearcoat finish on it, that 20 year old coating is oxidizing and is in need of a good polish / recoat. Salt is the last thing we wanted on both vehicles (kind of like the corrosive road salt we experience with Canadian winters — hence the oiling of most vehicles to prevent corrosion and rust). With a bit of luck, we managed to find a wash bay that served our purposes. After lengthy efforts at squeezing in to this tight space, we were dismayed by the faulty washer — no soap, just water. We reasoned that this would have to do for now as the other bays were either impossible to fit in to or exit from.

In total this day, we travelled over 15 hours, including our ferry crossing. Needless to say, we were more than ready to hunker down for the night at a Camping World just outside of Savannah Georgia which had reserved an electric spot for several nights in our name. One of the benefits of memberships: complimentary overnight parking at some of the nationwide stores, where available! A sweet deal indeed. 

Road Trip Choices

road trip guidelines

Jamie Oliver has been encouraging and motivating people around the world to change their diet and lifestyle. The blog by Canadian Karen ,”The Scattered Mom”, is one such example of a motivated Mother searching for healthy choices within her family and travelling lifestyle.

Karen’s inventory below is truly an inspiring checklist to follow on our next Airstream road trip. For the most part, we follow the guidelines below, to a T. I realize that I’m a big part of the driving force behind our healthy lifestyle that we lead. But of course, I’m human and have my weaknesses (before slaDE~, I never ever ate chips or junk food — apart from sugary items like liquorice or sour chewy candies, but now I’m rather feeble in my willpower if he feels inspired to indulge). As I get older, my body and metabolism is changing, and the need to be conscientious, consistent and diligent with my food / non-food intake is top on my priorities. So having a repertoire of ideas and a reminder of why I chose this lifestyle in the first place is a step in the right direction to a happy and healthy life filled with nutrition and goodness.

The Food Revolution Road Trip Goals / Rules / Guidelines:

1. NO fast food or gas station food. We can stop for a bathroom break if we need to, but that is it.

Every year on a road trip we stop at least 5 times in a two week period at a fast food place-usually McDonalds for breakfast, or Subway for lunch. No. Not this year. (exception: Starbucks is our coffee place of choice and not considered fast food. We don’t really eat their food anyway)

2. Eat only ONE meal a day in a restaurant. Breakfast is easy, as it’s always covered with a hotel breakfast bar. Lunch is where we need to be creative and make our own. We’ll be traveling here and there; whitewater rafting, jeeping, driving, hiking. Can we do it?fast food nation

3. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/flavors, and anything highly processed. This doesn’t just mean in what I buy, but in the food at the hotel breakfast bar. How hard can it be to find healthy food, anyway? It’s pretty easy here. And is the USA really that different from Canada?

4. Snack on lots of fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and real food. That’s easy, right? Storage might be an issue. It should be pretty cheap, too.

5. Occasional treats are allowed because you know, this IS a vacation. Treats would be a chocolate bar, ice cream, or the fries with a restaurant meal. The fries will be hardest to avoid, but since we are on vacation a couple times each can’t hurt.

How about you? Do you make choices in your daily regimen to eat and be more healthy? Do you find that road trips tend to challenge your choices and restraint?

Lifted by the Wings of Grace

Feeling frustrated today. Willing and wanting my blog to be up-to-date. Lapsing further and deeper behind. So much to say, lots of lovely photographs to portray the events and good times. Not feeling the motivation to ink my thoughts so vividly, longing for my fingers to meander across the keyboard. Slowly, slowly. With patience and gratitude, a new day is before me and I WILL accomplish a few steps forward with my goals, my plans. Learning to forgive both myself and others is the first step, sometimes the hardest. It’s been a tough day of lacking in faith and letting go.

Chin up. Knowing I can be better. Will myself to be better, especially when I’m not soulfully feeling the much-needed inspiration. Deep breath and relinquish the control beyond my means, my abilities. There is no such thing as control. Something to remember. Always.

Return to the breath. The heart and soul of my being. This is the only truth I know, and perhaps the closest thing to goD that will ever be known. Until my last breath, forgiveness with each inhale and exhale. Knowing that greatness belongs and exists within each and every one of uS. Believe, act and I will fly and succeed, lifted by the wings of grace.

I love this poem, written by Alicia, as discovered on Facebook.

RV There Yet?You were born with potential,
You were born with goodness and trust,
You were born with ideals and dreams,
You were born with greatness,
You were born with wings,
You are not meant for crawling, SO DON’T
You have wings
Learn to use them and fly!!!!!

RV There Yet??

Flying J: Change of Dump Policy

I was really discouraged to hear about this news in one of my RV newsletters … Flying J will no longer offer free dump station services at their Travel Plazas.

Over the past 7 months, Flying J has saved our butts (sorry for the foul pun) many times along the road when we needed to dump our black and grey water tanks in an economical and convenient manner. Without fail, we could always rely on Flying J for providing us with a free place to camp overnight and a liberation of our burgeoning holding tanks. Alas, however, in the world of RVing, all good things seem to come to an end. Sigh ….

flyingJ

FYI — Flying J Dump Stations – Change in Policy
05/06/2010

To continue providing waste dump station services at Flying J, we are instituting a $10 fee to customers using this service. This has become necessary to cover the increasing costs of offering this amenity. These additional fees include:

• Escalating expenses associated with normal usage and the misuse and abuse of waste dump stations
• Rising costs from local sewer treatment service providers
• Increasing expenditures linked to stringent corporate responsibilities

For our best customers, those that are members of Flying J’s Frequent Fueler and RV Real Value clubs, a $5.00 dump station coupon will be added to their card based on fuel purchases. The club member must present their card to cashier at point of purchase to receive the discount.

We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to offer the best services and facilities in the industry.

By now, this program will have been implemented at all Flying J stations. In their protocol, I have heard that some of the stations will be monitored by a device, allowing the customer to pay at the dump, whilst others will require the customer to go inside the store to pay for the service. Sucky.