challenges, dare to be different, Teddie Bear Adventures

RV Life Episode 1

The day finally came. Spring break 2022. The RV was loaded or hopefully loaded with all the essentials for a successful maiden voyage.

It started out shaky when the new driver (me) had about 1.5 hours of traffic due to road construction and accidents on the road. A lot of stop and go was good practice but I won’t lie when I say I was a bit claustrophobic at times trying to stay in my lane when tractor trailers were on each side of me. Nothing like trial by fire.

Although the start was rocky, the vehicle performed well on the road trip. About 7 hours total crossing one time zone and three states total. We did it. So many firsts. New experience for the pups. First time in an RV as a family. First time traveling to this particular state for a trip. The list could go on and on.

Electronics worked such as the wifi, the tv and radio. Although we didn’t use them all the time we had access which was good for many reasons. Weather was in our favor the first two days. Sunbathing and napping seemed be a good fit for me. Having all day to do nothing seemed okay with me for a few days off the grid.

We met some friends. We chatted with people from Wisconsin to California to Michigan and a few other states. We got to see how people traveled. Did they pull a trailer behind a truck or did they tow a tiny car behind an RV? So many options. We saw golf carts, bikes, trikes, motorcyles, jeeps and other side cars toted with each campsite.

Oh and how different each outside campsite was. From neon palm tree decorations to custom flags marking the spot. From simple to elaborate with everything in between. At night you could see the glow of green up high in the trees. The trees were adorned with internet boosters to enhance the WiFi coverage area. An interesting glow of sorts at night.

There were big grills, tabletop grills, and charcoal grills. Fire pits or solo stoves would light the night with the scent of toasted marshmallows. When one dog barked the others joined in. From near to far the barks varied in sound. From tiny schnauzer to the big Great Dane. The golden retrievers seemed to mostly listen but every other dog joined in the symphony of dogs. No cats in sight.

The RV resort was on the bay with beautiful views by day and night. Mid day there was a dolphin or two putting on a show poolside for those who wanted to watch them rise and dive again. Something I don’t see everyday thus I enjoyed it. Sunshine. Relaxation. No have tos. The perfect getaway. 

Meals outside on the picnic table. Movies under the stars. Music jamming at lunch outside. Time with friends and family. This reminded me of our lake days but this time on solid ground instead of by water. 

The first trip has come and gone. Many more states to visit. 900 miles on the odometer to break in the new house on wheels. Next up summer adventures near and far. Until then, I’ll leave you with some could have done without moments:

The water hose broke. Thank goodness for a friend saving the day with a loaner.

The grill connector didn’t fit. Good thing a neighbor let us grill with them.

The creepy gas attendant in Alabama who asked for a hug and kiss upon checkout. Random but I wonder how many takers he gets on a given day?

The winds that rolled in one day that gave me a hint of what it’s like to be rattled in a big storm if I lived full time on a trailer.

adventure

24 Hours

I had a small window of time to do a lot. Would I get it all in? Should I try to fit it all in? Do I focus on the need to’s or want to’s? I just said fuck it, and rolled with the punches.

I started out solo by car. I was pretty excited so I got up extra early. I totally miscalculated my arrival time as I changed time zones. Oops! First diversion in place unintentionally.

Visited a military installation. That was not a new experience, but something I hadn’t done in 10 years or so. Brief visit was good for me. Grabbed a coffee and snack with a buddy. Did some apartment shopping in the town I was visiting. Interesting to see old vs. new and how one mile one way you get one quality of life and the other way is completely different. Hence the purpose of shopping around.

Took a scenic route to visit the big city by car. Did some walking. Then some window shopping. Popped into a cozy bar for some punch in bucket and some good ole boy music. Not planned and not my normal environment, but in the end the lack of planning was good and so was the the punch bucket. I guess I sucked it from the bucket.

Time to kill before a dinner reservation. Time to sneak into a tattoo shop to get small piece of art to commemorate the 24 hour stint with my buddy. One for me two for the other. Inked up in no time. Feeling a little tired but time to fuel up to endure the time clock.

Refueling station (aka meal time) was again unplanned but a unique experience nonetheless. A supper club with 3 floors and a roof top. We sat on the main floor but could observe everyone coming and going from the main door. This of course made for good people watching while the food was prepped. Smash burger and turkey pastrami sammie for the win. Not five star but maybe a three for the food quality, but the substance was enough to level up in the time category.

Just when I thought I packed in enough we booked tickets to the hockey game. What are we thinking? Already pooped but we made it. A win for the home team and some great drunk people watching. An unexpected/unplanned adventure that exceeded my expectations.

A quick trip to the hotel to crash. Just a few hours to spare for rest. I didn’t want to get up. It was so early the coffee wasn’t even done brewing in the lobby. Such a tragedy. My route back home involved a plane. Solo again. A full flight. A mask which I almost forgot about. I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing over what I just did in a short 24 hour period.

The year of 2022 has brought so much new to me. New ways to look at life. New experiences. New adventures that lack my normal plan– gram style. There are some days where I think life is an absolute shit storm while other days I think are just amazing as they can be.

Sometimes I write to have memories for later. Sometimes I write for therapy. Today I write to say today is a gift and tomorrow is never guaranteed. Take 24 hours and spin it your way. Lose the worry of tomorrow and be present in today.

Tomorrow may look different for you. You never know. Therefore embracing what is today is a true gift. My 24 hours with my buddy was a gift. One I will treasure for years to come. 24 hours. Your gift. Spend those hours your way. Enjoy!

adventure

Going Dutch

My daughter and I recently hit the road and headed to Texas.

It wasn’t too far into our trip that I declared “I don’t want to eat at any chains on this trip.”

If you’ve followed the Chicks for a while, you know we try to support local and small businesses as often as we can, so no chains seems right up that alley. But it was early the next morning when I had to add an asterisk to my “no chains” rule. I made exceptions for chains that didn’t have locations anywhere near our home. And so, bright and early, I started a trek to a coffee chain I had heard about called Dutch Bros.

Dutch Bros. is one of those chains with a cult following. There are secret menus. Collectible sticker days. IYKYK kind of stuff. Thankfully, at 5:30 am there was no line, so I had plenty of time to quiz the bubbly young woman at the order window.

I’ve weaned myself from coffee sweeteners and even cream for the most part, so this would be a treat. My favorite holiday drink is a peppermint mocha, so I ended up with a Dutch Bros. toasted peppermint bliss cold brew. My second drink was an Americano with soft top. If none of these make sense, check out the Dutch Bros. website. I also accidentally ended up with a hazelnut truffle mocha.

All were deeee-lish. Positive messages on the windows and the drink tops. And the woman at the window was a total gem! Win all around.

Yes, it was a chain, but still something completely new and different. Get out and explore and try new things, wherever you may be!

adventure

Hello Philly

Just a 24 hour pit stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1 full day is what I had but I planned to see and do a ton.

The first stop was to feed my belly of course. A quick stop for cheese steak at the famous corner in Philadelphia where you will find Geno’s and Pat’s. Which would I choose? I opted for Pat’s. I had to learn how to order which was harder than it needed to be. Then off to find a seat to enjoy the foodie treat. My belly was full. Steak, provolone cheese, onions, and peppers were loaded to the max on big hoagie bun.  Maybe not my favorite meal of my trip but overall I can said I had a Philly cheese steak from one of favorite local hot spots. 

Time for the sweet tooth spot. Insomnia cookies for the win. A sampling of sugar, snickerdoodle, macadamia nut, double chocolate, blueberry and chocolate chip cookies went In the box. Nobody needed the cookies, but we all opted to spurge and get the cookies. We all nibbled at each. Sugar was my favorite. Surely we were going to have a sugar overload at any moment after this stop.

On to the city we went, twisting and turning on a million one way streets. Looking up at the magnificent buildings and their architecture on the way to the hotel. Parking in the parking garage was an experience. Super low ceiling, limited turning radius, and very narrow pathways. 
The next adventure after parking was exploring the area by foot and stopping in on the shops that were open late. An Italian dinner in the city streets. Interesting setups by each restaurant to accommodate outdoor seating. An interesting sight to see including the various designs and creativity involved. This was a side of the pandemic I had not yet experienced. I observed the financial cost to set up power outside for lights. Shelter to be built. Weather proofing elements. And one can’t forget the curbside appeal to make people want to stop. Some had fancy chairs while others had old ones that I’d assume wouldn’t matter if they got weathered or stolen. Interesting walk to say the least.

A good night’s sleep nestled high in the sky on the 16th floor was a great experience. The view was amazing and the location was perfect. Early rise to walk to the Liberty Bell. Photo op one was in the books. A walk in the other direction took us to Love park for a photo op. This was slightly disappointing but also sad. Many homeless people were nestled in this park in the morning as they rose. From young to old. Made me wonder about their stories. 

A shift down the road with all the worldly flags was a beautiful sight. It led to the Rocky steps and statue. The one and only Rocky Balboa steps. Of course I ran them multiple times. I took photos. I FaceTimed those who couldn’t be there with me. We even had a virtual run. That was a first for me. But so much fun. We toured ourselves but ran into the walking tour many times thus we felt we did a good job planning our stops.

A little further down the road was boat house row. A picturesque water side view of the row of boat houses and their boats. I enjoyed the waterside view more than the street view but it was a new experience nonetheless. This area was a great place to run, walk or ride a bike. The weather was perfect on this day to tackle a nice flat surface for some light exercise. 

As we circled back many miles and hours later we hit the Reading Market. An interesting place full of vendors. Mostly food options. I grabbed a coffee and some sweets. Not a smart choice of fuel for the body but more a celebration of the city’s offerings. We nibbled on:

A colossal cinnamon bun 

A chunky slice of white cake

A creamy pumpkin roll slice

An enormous crumb cake 

All were full on sugar rushes! All were amazingly good. None of them were finished. All of them were tasted. We tried not to be wasteful but we did opt not to finish our plates. Time to load and go. Off to the airport. One last stop we shall have.

In the last of the 24 hours we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s, a local spot near the airport close to the sporting venue. A massive dining space. An interesting menu. For me it was the lobster roll for my meal. An overstuffed bun toasted to perfection. Slivers of celery, onions and just the right amount of seasoning. A nice treat for the end of a whirlwind 24 hours.

My belly is full as I sit on my flight writing. My heart swells from the memories made. My smile is big daydreaming of my next 24 hours of adventures. Where will I go? What will I see? Who will I meet? Who will I travel with? It’s all a mystery for now. Maybe a story will follow. Maybe it won’t.

I hope you enjoyed my 24 hour summary of Philadelphia. Maybe you will get there one day and choose the same route or travel new route. For now this city is off my list of tourist stops. 

adventure, dare to be different

My Tiny Life

I lived a tiny life for four days. What does this mean exactly? I opted for accommodations in a tiny home vs a hotel for my last summer adventure

How did it go? It was an experience and I’m excited I gave it a go. So much to get annoyed about when living small. Many things you just don’t think about. Like a closet. Like bathroom counter space. Like multiple seats for conversing while eating. Just little things.

First was the arrival. The suitcases. There were three of us traveling which means three decent-sized suitcases. We learned fast that we couldn’t all be sprawled out at the same time. Our solution was to store the bags in the the car and only open up when it was shower time and tuck wherever we could.

The tiny home was super cute. From decorations to natural lighting to appliances. How practical were they in reality? The fridge worked of course but its door swung open in a way in which you had to slide into the bathroom to retrieve anything. It was funny but thankfully we only used it to keep water cold as we were on the go a lot. There was a kitchen table with 4 stools. You could really only use two but the table was a storage area for us on top and shoe cubby below. Looked good but space was not functioning for us as designed.

Cutest little cozy couch area under the loft set up with a nice tv. It was comfy and fit just right. A great use of space as it was a pullout allowing for the the extra sleeping space. The big but was when you pulled it out it took away the floor space for the suitcases and they had no light so at night it was an oddly dark space.  One solution created another problem. Surely this kept us on our toes, but we managed and maneuvered and it was all good in the end.

The loft was by far my favorite place. It had a sky light that was amazing to peek through by day or night. It lad long windows on each side of the bed to see the fruit tree on one side or the green grassy yard on the other. The bed was comfy and there was a tv squeezed in as well. I didn’t need the tv as I enjoyed the rest and relaxation in what I called my treehouse space as I felt I was sleeping in the trees. 

I was writing this blog in my peaceful loft space to capture the spirit of the post. The overcast skies were rolling in. The drops of the rain from the trees hit my sky light. What a peaceful sound. The ambience of this place I will remember. I definitely find inspiration to write in many places. Some I write about others I don’t. 

Some things I didn’t mention above. The floors were an epoxy finish. Great little detail that made it fashionable just like the vintage fridge and microwave did. The bathroom and shower were small but I’d say the shower was bigger than most hotels and for cleanliness and quality it gets a thumbs up from me.

A few funnies to note. The label maker signs. Don’t take the extra toilet paper. Ha I wouldn’t but I’d assume somebody did in the past. This is a window not a door sign on the sliding glass door on the backside of the kitchen. It was clearly purposeless for me as there was no access outside but as a window it brightened up the place immensely. The sign just added a funny side to it as clearly somebody must have been using it in the past.

When and if you try out a tiny space like me think about things before you go. Pack light. Storage is minimal. Think tiny. Consider the tiny home dimensions. The one I stayed at was narrow. Being narrow limited certain things. Not sure I would go back to this place but it was a fantastic first try at something new. Emphasis on the trying something new, opting for different and enjoying the experience despite any challenges.

Tiny life is fun for a short stint but I think I prefer to live larger. I miss my high ceilings for sure.