Cross Country Road Trip – Virginia Beach to Paradise

Paradise California

I believe this to be my twelfth cross country road trip in the last year and a half and it is difficult to believe. Nearly two years non stop on the road to date.

Why am I heading cross country yet again? Because my son and his girlfriend are sick of watching my cat. The cat eats plastic bags then runs through the house barfing and they are pretty sick of it and rightly so.

Not that I need much of an excuse to  hit the road. I love to travel and am particularly fond of long haul drives.

Pretty much any excuse to go out on any sort of road trip is good enough for me.

Need help selling your house in Seattle? Have a cool place to stay in Madrid New Mexico? Wanna have drinks in Denver?

Festival in Arizona? I’m on my way. Hiking in Maine? Castle in Scotland? Daring bridge crossing in Norway… I’ll be there.

I do not need a specific reason or destination, the drive alone is pleasure enough. A desolate and beautiful drive in the Scottish Highlands? I’ll do it numerous times. (Lately it seems I’ll do anything in Scotland, any chance I get.)

I do love to venture out and explore on foot. Yet driving to and around any destination is one of the best parts of travel for me. Be it cross country or a road trip to the next town, even in its simplest form,  such travel it is my bliss.

Routes of the Rootless Cross Country

At about noon I headed west on I 64 from Virginia Beach, bound for Lexington Kentucky. Amazingly I made it as far as Dale Indiana, where I spent my first night.

Having done similar cross country road trip sojourns so readily this past year, I opted to take a new route, staying as close as I could to the middle of the country.

I planned not to go too far north due to bad weather. Not that driving in snow bothers me. In fact I quite enjoy driving in the snow, and did so on a similar trip nearly a year ago

Dead Man Pass near Pendleton Oregon 2017

Fog and snow covered Dead Man Pass Oregon
Deadman Pass Pendleton Oregon 2017 Cross Country Road Trip i the snow

being that my plan this time was to get to my destination as quickly as possible, it made sense to avoid possible snow.

Dew the Cat

More commonly when I drive cross country routes I base them on things I wish to see and do. Yet this trip is more focused on quickly releasing my cat Dew, from my sons care.

Dew the barfing cat.
Dew the Cat

Dew the Cat

A sweet cat, Dew is clean, goofy and funny but skittish and sort of… well… dumb. That she does not get along with female cats (of which there are 2 in my sons house) was an issue. As a barf driven in general and has little understanding of boundaries. She also is not fond of the road trip lifestyle, but she is mine, and I love her. So off we go.

My son has been caring for her far longer than ever anticipated. An outrageous amount of unexpected circumstances held me up, including a broken leg that laid me up for over 5 months.

America, the Beautiful Toll Free

The stretch through the West Virginia and Kentucky mountains is phenomenal.

An aesthetically pleasing, as well as enjoyable drive. Rolling pavement brings you up and around beautiful countryside, with steep inclines and descends.

On this cross country passage, I mapped the trip via google maps. For the first time I chose the option to avoid tolls. In result, I ended up on wonderful local small town roads that winded me around the turnpikes and other toll roads. It worked out wonderfully.

Google directed me off of the highway just prior to the toll booth and took me on a few off the beaten path sojourns. Each detour was truly spectacular scenically and roadway wise.

This unexpected bonus only added a few minutes to the entire trip in the end. At on point, I was amused to see myself pull out right in front of the truck with whom I’d been sharing the road for hours, just beyond the clutches of the “pay your toll” booth.

Resting at Rest Stops

I created a cozy little sleeping nook in the back of my Lincoln Aviator.

Rest Stop on my Cross Country Road Trip
Sleeping in the SUV at rest stops on my cross country road trip

It was pretty comfy once I got the sun shade thing situated.

I slept at 3 rest stops along this road trip. Not only did it save me money, but it allowed me to hop back onto the road with little wasted time. I think I prefer this to motels when on a cross country route focused on expediency. over sightseeing.

Cross Country Road Trip Rest Stop Dale Indiana
Dale Indiana Rest Stop

This one in Dale, Indiana was not the most picturesque, but nicely maintained and I felt safe sleeping there.

This strip of highway has quite a few decent rest stops normally, but many were closed on this particular trip. I was extremely glad to find this one open.

Cross Country Road Rest Stop Ogallala Nebraska
Ogallala Nebraska Rest Stop

Good morning Indiana From there I hit a Denny’s for a power breakfast then headed out towards I70 making it as far as Oglala Nebraska.

The Nebraska rest stop was fantastic. Clean with lots of parking. Wide open spaces and lovely views.

Ogallala Nebraska Rest Stop
Good Morning Nebraska

Good morning Nebraska!

For some reason google gps routed me through Nebraska instead of my previously designated plan to follow straight through Kansas and Colorado, yet I enjoyed the I-80 drive passing miles and miles of cattle ranches.

Riding High on Audio Books

As much of this particular drive offers such exquisite views, I tend to revel in the scenery without distraction.

But on long hauls like this, driven alone, various forms of distraction are necessary to staying alert, even if that sounds a bit oxymoronic.

One way I pass time is of course my music. When I’m feeling tired I at times rely on talk radio to keep me going. Yet one of my best allies is Audible.

Listening to lectures or books or whatever wets your noodle, is one the most valuable tools when in the more long haul type of journey. Just make sure you download ahead of time.

Your in Reno? I’m in Reno.

Nevada Humane Society
Dropping campfire cats off to be adopted from Nevada Humane Society with FieldHaven Feline Center

Before picking up my cat from my sons house in Portland, I will visit with FieldHaven Feline Center, the group with which I volunteer from afar.

FieldHaven, a long standing cat rescue and shelter in Lincoln California has been working hard to help the thousands of cats affected by the campfire.

Along with the support of Alley Cat Allies, FieldHaven opened 2 temporary shelters; Alley Cat Allies Recovery Center in Marysville and Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station in Paradise. These additional shelters were necessary for the unprecedented amount of cats let injured, lost, homeless or without shelter and food across the burn zone.

Having been invited to stay with Joy Smith, the head of FieldHaven, I remained in touch with her as I headed West. When I told Joy I’d be in Lincoln Friday, she mentioned that she would not return from Reno (where many of the unclaimed campfire are being sent for adoption) and ot back home until 5pm.

Checking my itinerary, it occurred to me that I’d be in Reno by about noon on Friday. In the same time my friend Christine, who I hadn’t seen in years texted me, asking me to stop by when passing through Reno. (Is totally forgotten that she’d moved there)

In the end, I got to stop in Reno, take a much needed shower as well as visit with my good friend Christine, then meet Joy & Rog of FieldHaven, as well as a bunch of campfire cats at Nevada Humane Society then follow them back to Lincoln.

Landing in Paradise

I made it across the US, practically from coast to coast in 4 nights easily.

The expense of the trip was purely gas, breakfast and drinks in the end and it was yet again another fantastic road trip across the US. I GoPro’d every light day of it and will share it, along with my many other recorded journeys, as soon as I am able.

Saturday I was able to visit Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station as well as drive around Paradise to see the devastation first hand. It may seem a grim thing to do. Yet certainly I am not a catastrophe tourist. I’d ridden this area on my motorcycle many years before.  The strange familiarity felt by the awareness of knowledge of this place I had rarely ever been. I felt a unique and intimate understanding of the tragedy that affected so many.

The stories of loss, heartache and then the ultimate satisfaction of reuniting someone with a cat they were sure had perished in the fire. Cognizant of the feeding station and trapping locations as well as if I’d lived there and physically helped. To know the addresses and stories of human, animal and material loss as if it had happened to my friends and neighbors. It is difficult to put into words the sheer devastation of it all and how keenly I was touched by experiencing it first hand, after all of this time.

And am keenly aware of all hard work and dedication that FieldHaven and the many trappers, feeders, rescuers and shelters have put in just to help give a small bit of relief to the people and animals that have lost so very much.

Sadness and Loss

I GoPro’d the devastation but I’m unsure if I shall share it or not. It was heart wrenching to see the depth loss exhibited by these utterly charred neighborhood’s. Businesses mostly gone. Hearth and home obliterated along with the foliage and trees.

The overwhelming emptiness of the place, bereft in its losses it is tangible as if a solid entity.

Paradise California 2019
Rainbow over Paradise

But the cats… so many survived. They escaped locked down burned out houses like little Houdini’s. Thousands of cats so far recovered. More found and trapped every day. Their ability to survive in a burned out world of nothingness is remarkable. This place so long considered a paradise for so many, as in name then to ashes.

It was a magical experience and an added bonus to this cross country drive. If it actually meant anything beyond a rainbow happened to cross my path at the most opportune moment or not, I’ll let you decide that. What I will state, is that my expeditious drive across the US, for me was well worth it if just for that moment.

Hell, I live driving and exploring so much, it was worth it just for the drive alone.

Next Stop Portland

Soon I leave for Portland to pick up Dew. Then I will head out with my friend Laurie, her chihuahua Rudy and my cat to cross the country once more, this time via the most northern route heading from Portland to Rhode Island.

First stop Yellowstone Park.

My Endless US Road Trip

Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon
Road to Hells Canyon

After a year of countless US Road Trip expeditions, on October 2018 I set out to Austin to help out my 93 year old mother.

Mom had fallen and broken her pelvis, so in response to her need, I headed to Austin, Texas to help. This would be my ninth US Road Trip in a single year.

I took a small blogging break through Thanksgiving intending to record my journey back to Virginia and begin writing again.

leg cast 2019
my broken leg after the cast was removed

Three days before I left Austin for my next US Road Trip, I fell and broke my leg. Sadly, I have been nearly silent ever since.

That Road Trip; from Virginia Beach to Austin. This was my 11th drive across the US, that covered over 1000 miles in the last year (2018) (so I am excluding quite a few 600 mile excursions in that number). Since that time, (and after 4 months of healing stuck in Austin on my Mothers couch) I have driven a moving truck from Austin to Raleigh North Carolina, flew back to Austin and drove my SUV back to Raleigh and then onto Virginia Beach. My next US Road Trip adventure starts today.

I have traveled from thousands of drive miles from coast to coast, to coast in the United States (East, West, South). Through deserts, up mountains, across cities, to seashores.

I have flown thousands of miles, then driven thousands of miles beyond these shores of ours.

US Road Trip et al

The 6 month delay created by my broken leg, caused quite a few challenges. Hurdles that I am yet attempting to overcome. One of the key issues was that my son (and his girlfriend) have been stuck with my cat for far longer than ever intended and she’s been causing a bit of havok.  At

Today, I began a US Road Trip sojourn once again. I will cross the US to pick up Dew the cat. leaving Virginia Beach heading to Portland in an hour.  Travel plans are to begin via the middle route and back again through the northern route, then heading West via the Southern route once more, if all goes as planned (and I utilize the road plan loosely, for I am greatly open to enjoyable deviations (even those nt so enjoyable)

On this new US Road Trip, I will be stopping in Butte County so that I may visit those with whom I have been remotely volunteering, FieldHaven since the Campfire. Once retrieving my cat, I shall pick up my friend Laurie and her chihuahua, and together we shall head to Yellowstone Park.

The plan is to US Road Trip across the Northern route ending at Camp Anarchy to attend the festival. From there we head to Rhode Island to try and sell off all of my things. Then we shall pick up my trailer and head West again via the Southern route.

I plan to once again share my travel stories with you. I hope you will follow along my 12th US Road Trip in a year

Check back again to see how far I have gotten.

First stop, Lexington Kentucky.

 

 

Travel Trailer Life in My Vintage Fan Camper

RootlessRoutes Travel Trailer Life

About a year ago I decided to create a life devoted almost solely to travel. Become… a Digital Nomad so to speak. Somehow I planned to diminish my expenses so that the majority of any future income could be directed to my travels.

Now I knew I wanted to live my life on the road, but had absolutely no idea how I was going to achieve that. Having already sort of ditched my home, I knew I was part of the way there, but when my random and impulsive purchase of a 1971 Fan Lee Liner occurred, my journey towards living a travel trailer life began. I was that much closer to my dream.

Although I am not even living in the damned thing as of yet.

RootlessRoutes Travel Trailer Life
Vintage Fan Lee Liner 16 foot Travel Trailer / Travel Trailer Life RootlessRoutes

Preparing for my Travel Trailer Life

It has taken far longer than I ever imagined for the stars to align and allow me to move in and start this new travel filled life.

Since I had little plan beyond that which existed in my head, I am not actually off schedule. But I’m ready and it is certainly time!

RootlessRoutes Travel Trailer Life
Entrance to my 1971 Fan Lee Liner Travel Trailer

I left the camper with the guy from whom I had purchased it until April, due to weather. Although I picked the travel trailer up as intended, I ended up heading back to Scotland for a month again. That’s twice in one year now. Since that time, I have been across the US numerous times. East to West, North to South and diagonally covering every existing coast on the mainland.

You just cannot visit Scotland too many times. Ever!RootlessRoutes Scotland 2018

Scottish Highland sheep 2018

Dundonald Castle 2018
Durness Beach RootlessRoutes
Durness Beach 2018

Rootless Routes Scotland Road Trip 2017Traquair House grounds 2017

It is not the trailer restoration that has taken so very long, but the typical extenuating circumstances of life. Sort of the expected, unexpected, that we all know will happen but do not know what they will be.

With little warning I had to pick up Roadie from the dog sitter. This was about a month earlier than intended. Roadie was located over 3000 miles away. I was missing her terribly anyway.

Roadie the dog RootlessRoutes
Roadie An Australian Cattle Dog living the Travel Trailer Life

This put me back on yet another cross country US road trip, right at the time I had planned to be selling off my shit and fixing up the trailer. It also ate up a large amount of my budget well ahead of time. But it was just part of life’s expected unexpected.

Not being one to miss an opportunity to travel. I turned this diversion into a travel adventure, albeit also a bit out of a necessity.

I flew from Virginia to Portland, drove to Seattle pick up the dog, and back to Portland I went.

Drove from Portland to Austin, Texas and then from Austin, Texas to Providence, Rhode Island, booking AirBnBs in the places I wished to explore. I did indeed get to explore and visit friends and family. But I was far away from the travel trailer that was meant to be a part of these journeys.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Dogs, Cats & Kin

When I found out that I had but days to pick up Roadie from the dog sitter in Seattle, I was staying in Virginia Beach.

Having left my SUV at my sons place in Portland when I left for Scotland, I had to book a last minute flight to Portland to pick it up, then drive to Seattle to pick up the dog. But of course, the travel trailer was still in Virginia Beach. Most of my belongings are in storage in Pawtucket (near Providence) and my Mom was feeling lonely in Austin.

RootlessRoutes Lincoln Aviator
My trusty steed that shall be the forefront of my travel trailer life

My 92 year old Mom was depressed and needing to see me, so after visiting with my son for a bit I headed to Austin Texas.

Dew the cat
Dew the cat

Jameson, my son had been watching Dew the cat while I was away and was not at all thrilled that I was not taking her with me. But the dog was sick, the journey ahead long and I just could not drag that poor skittish cat on another journey until I had the travel trailer ready for her.

I must make note that the dog nearly died in Baker City, Oregon. At 16 she is already quite elderly. An amazing vet saved her. Alika Fisher figured out it was a resurgence of an infection from a tick bite shed experienced in 10 years earlier. If you ever have an ailing pet in Baker City Oregon do not hesitate to stop at Baker City Animal Clinic. They saved Roadies life.

So we’ve covered planes, automobiles, dogs, cats and kin. There were no trains involved. Sorry.

Selling Off Your Life

It takes forever to sell off all of your shit. Especially if you’re living nowhere. Staying with friends and in AirBnBs until your home (travel trailer) is ready to move into kinda sucks.  You cannot help but feel that you are putting those involved out. Being home is never really being in YOUR home, which puts a lot of ones routine on hold. You stay on perpetual visit mode.

The money consequently runs out pretty damned fast. And you get to the point, after staying far longer than intended, that you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells. No matter how welcoming the people hosting your stay may be, it is indeed their home and not yours.

With my writing, photography, online shops and GoPro editing I need a fair amount of space to work and it is quite difficult for some to share their space in that manner. I don’t tend to just visit, I need t spread out in order to work.

Although my friends in Virginia have been remarkably kind. I have lived amongst them on and off a great deal in the past year. They have become like family to me. A family more accepting and appreciative of me and my lifestyle than one I have ever known.

They have offered me understanding and support. Given me unending space and freedom to live as I wished within the confines of their home. Lent a hand at fixing up the camper and with helping me move about. I will miss them when I go and cherish everything they have so selflessly offered me.

Travel Trailer Life

My 1971 Fan Lee Liner RootlessRoutes
My 1971 Fan Lee Liner Travel Trailer

Yesterday, my 1971 Fan Lee Liner went into the shop to complete the things I could not do myself. Soon I will be on the road doing a cross country test drive. Nothing is even close to ready. Yet the travel trailer is ready enough for me to live in. I will finally truly be living on the road nevertheless.

My travel trailer life will begin.

Well sort of.

I still need to head back to Rhode Island to try and sell off more of my shit yet once again. But at least I can stay in the trailer and not bleed out money to an AirBnB. I suppose once living in the travel trailer, no matter what I am doing I have at least met this one goal.

It’s ironic that getting to the point that I can begin my travel trailer life lifestyle, may be harder than actually living it. Once I finally start living in the damned thing.

I read so many blogs about the travel trailer life, the RV life, Van life but I have yet to read about what a pain in the ass it is getting to the point where you have cut enough ties from stuff and expectations to actually move in and start… well living the travel trailer life. But I am close, so very close!

If you wish to find out how it all shakes out. Follow my blog and we can experience it together.

Madrid New Mexico | Part II | Google Maps Hell

Madrid New Mexico

Only 7 miles from Madrid and I was most certainly not the carefree dog in the car hammock. (click for Part I)

I was driving a heavily loaded SUV with a dangerously low tire along an unfamiliar roadway with sharp turns, steep inclines and little between myself and the edge.

The dog was snoring. Swaying without a care in the world in her hammock in the back.

Madrid New Mexico
A dark entrance over the pothole covered unpaved road into Madrid

It was after 3am. The dark of night before me was nothing more than what looked like an empty abyss.

Highway 14 coiled up a steep grade with little between us and what was a likely harrowing end below.

In the pitch of night it was impossible to see more than a few feet around, but easy to surmise the depths that lay beyond the edge of the tenuous roadway.

Only 6 miles to Madrid.

The console indicator kept demanding attention to its unmitigating message “Air pressure dangerously low”.

We weaved down to more level ground and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Just 5 more miles, just 5 more miles.

I Curse Thee, Google Maps

The tire had gone flat earlier in the day.

Against my better judgement I filled it with Fixaflat and headed back out.

With only 16 miles to Madrid, I figured it should at least hold that far.

It was after 1am. I’d covered well over 900 miles that day. An unplanned detour added 4 hours to the drive but I thought it worth the experience.

Skyline Drive took me miles out of the way in Utah. It was also likely to blame for instigating the troubles we were experiencing now.

Skyline Drive, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah
Skyline Drive, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah

Well worth the added miles and the trouble, but trouble I was now in, nevertheless.

With so few miles to go, we just had to make it. Just HAD too.

Almost To Madrid

I drove with care towards Madrid, switching from my preferred WAZE to Google maps, just in case I lost signal out there in the middle of nowhere.

I love WAZE. She has directed me safely across countless cities and unfamiliar continents, but she is limited when signal is lost.

Google Maps allows you to preload maps, so if signal is lost you still have a map to follow.

But then Google Maps did what it does and put me on 57A, a gravel road, full of potholes the size of gullies.

I do not see how at 1am, in the middle of the desert, this was a better option than the paved highway only a few miles out of the way.

57A between 25 and 14. is not a worthy shortcut, remain on the highway and go the extra few miles to go around.
57A is not a paved road. It is a farm road for local use and not to be trifled with via anything but a 4WD or off road vehicle.

It is not the first time Google Maps has pulled this shit and it is why I prefer WAZE. WAZE acknowledges that easier and safer is at times better than faster, far more than does Google.

Only 3 miles to Madrid.