Seattle from the Columbia Center

It’s a Long Way Home (via California!)

posted in: Life on the move | 12

Some of you may have noticed that it’s been a while since our last update. From Vancouver, our last stop in Canada, we drove every day for 12 days. We stopped each night, and then moved on. We’d had enough of the cold and where heading for California and the warmer weather.

By the end of the 12 days and 1,067 miles of driving on some of the most wiggly, steep and epic roads so far, we weren’t in a very good state. We were exhausted, demoralised and irritated with each other. We were questioning what the hell we were doing; why weren’t we snuggled up on our super comfy sofas, sleeping in our super comfy bed and cooking in our lovely, spacious kitchen back in Bristol? Why had we chosen to leave all our friends and our nice life back in England to live in a tiny box on wheels and drive across vast swathes of foreign lands? As you can probably imagine, we didn’t feel like writing any blog posts.

Another stunning view
Another stunning view

It’s hard to admit (to yourself, let alone others) that you’re not having a good time when you’re living out a dream.  For over 3 months we’ve barely had to think about work, our days are our own, to do with what we will, and we are having the adventure of a lifetime.  What’s not to love?  Right?

The conclusion I’m choosing to draw:  we’re going through a transition phase. We’ve moved from initial excitement, naivety, and novelty to facing what is, basically, a radical change in lifestyle.  Don’t get me wrong. Every day we’ve seen the most beautiful and awesome scenery. We have visited cosmopolitan and iconic cities, including Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. We have passed through charming, character-filled villages and driven past cute and picturesque homes. But when ‘another amazing view’ is the highlight of your day, day after day, the novelty, it would now seem, does wear off after 3 months.

Thankfully the end of our 12 day drive ended in a stay with our friends Jo and Kevin and their kids in Orinda, near San Francisco.  We spent a gorgeous week in their lovely house, sleeping in a REAL bed, lounging on spacious sofas, eating food baked in an oven, having long, hot showers and being able to flush the loo and forget about it.

Our wonderful and generous friends took in two weary travelers and looked after us for a whole week, until we felt rested and topped up with friend-love. We immersed ourselves in their wonderful family home and routine, cooking delicious food together, playing games with the kids and laughing over bottles of wine (and rusty nails – thanks for introducing us, Kev 🙂 ). It was balm to our souls.  We properly relaxed and it felt like heaven after 3 months on the road. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Jo and Kev!

Heaven! A week's respite from travelling, with our friends Jo & Kevin and their kids
Heaven! A week’s respite from travelling, with our friends Jo & Kevin and their kids Scarlet & Conrad

Some new ideas that we are planning to try out, to see if they re-kindle our enthusiasm for our big adventure:

1. Get somewhere hot and see if that feels more fun (first hot-stop: Death Valley 🙂 )
2. Distance-drive for a maximum of 2-3 days on the trot (not 12!)
3. Stop for a minimum of 2 nights, preferably 3, so we can recuperate and do non-travelling things in between the long drives.
4. Get to Mexico and the beach a.s.a.p. and stop for a week or two’s beach holiday. Yippee!!

Our planned route keep changing.  We were going to cross over to Florida but we’ve decided we want to get to Mexico quicker, so we have now driven South of San Fran on Route #1, through the Big Sur, and across California to Death Valley.


Our present plan is to go East as far as the Grand Canyon, via Las Vegas, Area 51 and Sedona, before returning across California to see my God Father, Mike, and his wife, Liz, in Tehachapi.  And then we’re hoping to see our friends Rach and Neil in LA, before heading South to Baha California.  We’re feeling pretty confident that this plan will stick now!  We’re sorry not to see our RV friends in Florida.  Hopefully our paths will cross again, Louise and Al.  Jurgen and Clemencia – we’ll definitely see you on the way South!.


12 Responses

  1. Ron
    | Reply

    Ah ha – the dreaded “WTF are we doing” syndrome …. also known as “NWO” – Novelty wore off!

    You put so much into planning and execution in the first few months – even years – that sometimes you lose sight of the original plan! The other thing that gradually dawns is that the world is a huge place and driving eventually gets boring, no matter how good the scenery.

    From my own experience I can only pass on a few thoughts. You guys are a lot younger than me so have more energy, and you have this “2 years” limit hovering in the background. Have you guesstimated the potential total mileage and divided by 2 years? It’s a lot of driving. 10 years ago I wouldn’t think twice about 500k a day – my record was 900k in one session – never again! Nowadays our routine is lazy breakfast, get on the road, detour for shopping if needed, and then drive depending on our very rough agenda until about late afternoon. One golden rule is that we never drive at night, and never try to find a parking stop in darkness. Of course we will if we have to, but as a rule, we don’t.

    The other thing we do is always allow some randomness to creep in, usually as a result of some casual internet research over breakfast! And quite often if we find a pleasant stop by accident – we’ll just stop for a few days. On our most recent trip we had to be back in the UK on a certain date, and we were in Greece. We could have stayed on the beach until the last moment, and then hit it in 3 days … but I just knew it would be a stress, so I insisted we left early and do it in 10, and as a result we had 3 totally random unexpected experiences, that were not planned – just happened.

    I am sure you know all this already! The other side of the coin is that eventually you will get so used to it – it’s becomes routine – that you will feel strange when you do stop and live in a house for a while. When in the van we used to dream about big kitchens and bathrooms …. and then when we hired a house in Thailand for the winter – where we are now – we miss the van like crazy! Well I do anyway!

    Whatever you feel now will be nothing compared with when you actually finish the trip and stop – so try and prepare, because it’s a real anticlimax.

    I take it the van is behaving ……

    Keep on trucking!

    Ron and Luda – in supposed to be sunny Thailand – it’s pouring down!

    • Saskia
      | Reply

      Hey Ron and Luda, it’s great to hear from you 🙂 And great to hear WTF and NWO are to be expected. Of course it seems obvious they would, now we’re here! Thanks for your thoughts and tips, all greatly appreciated. It’s reassuring to know that we’re not the only ones. Arriving at our destination with a few hours of daylight to spare definitely makes for a gentle and enjoyable landing – we’ve had a few stressful nighttime arrivals, which are particularly awful after a long drive. We’ve experimented with leisurely days of only 1 or 2 hours driving and they are great. As we’ve got such a bloody long way to go, luckily we both enjoy the 8-10 hour days to. We put on some tunes, listen to audio books and swap drivers every 2 hours. We’re tired by the end, but chuffed at the miles we’ve covered. I think the distance we’re aiming for might take us longer than 2 years!

      Sorry to hear about the rain in Thailand. We’ve just had what looks like a rainstorm coming our way and unseasonably cold weather here in the desert of Death Valley! Oh well, c’est la vie 🙂 Hope the sunshine comes your way soon. Saskia and Mark x

  2. M
    | Reply

    Hello darlings,
    Ah well, such are the ins and outs of life ???and the relief of wonderful friends?. Will we get to hear about or see, retrospectively, any of your twelve days journey? Have only just seen your last blog with fabulous photos. Will get there soon! We’ll miss you around Christmas time.xxxx

    • Saskia
      | Reply

      Hi Mum. We are going to do posts over the next few weeks on the places we’ve already been to. We’ll catch up with ourselves soon, all going well 🙂 xx

  3. Dad
    | Reply

    Great pics again. what a collection you’ll have by the en…xx

    • Saskia
      | Reply

      I know, Dad! I’m totally loving the pictures my birthday camera takes 🙂 xx

  4. Jo
    | Reply

    Hello Beautifuls,

    I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write this and I know we’re a blip in your rear-view mirror by now, but I wanted you to know that I felt so humbled by the lovely things you wrote about your stay with us. First, you were the MOST best guests ever…it was such a joy to have you here. I adored the ease with which you hung out with our kids and how you just relaxed into our groove and routines.

    It was such a pleasure to spend time with Mark and I’m so happy that my beautiful friend has hooked herself up with a very genuine, smart and down-to-earth man. We loved the evenings we spent with you and hearing your perspective on how the world works…the story about the guy with the car and the two-ropes still makes me chuckle.

    We truly miss having you both here.

    My darling Sas…I’m always thrilled and amazed that no matter how long we spend apart we’re connect so quickly when we get back together. You are such a wonderful, wise and wickedly cool woman and I’m honored to be your friend.

    We’ll be following your adventures. I think about you both everyday. If you need anything we’re here in a heartbeat.

    Merry Christmas you crazy kids.


    • Saskia
      | Reply

      We love you all! Missing and thinking of you everyday too. Xxx

  5. Rhonda
    | Reply

    oh boy.. do we know what you’re feeling!! We had traveled long term once before – back in 2007-2008 for 14mths backpacking around the world, and experienced those feelings at random times. Now, just two weeks in to our road trip down the PanAm we’ve had crappy weather, sickness, camper issues and an accident… an inauspicious beginning to say the least! But hang in there…. the transition is always the hardest AND never drive 12 days in a row again! lol, repeat after me now, never drive 12 days in a row again! Enjoy your slower pace and warmer weather. We’re now in San Felipe and life just keeps getting better and better.

    • Saskia
      | Reply

      Hi Rhonda! Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂 Sorry to hear about your tricky start – we had one of those two, arriving in Canada from England to stand pretty much still for 6 weeks til we fixed mechanical issues on our van. And since then the cold weather has been chasing us!! Can’t wait to get to Mexico in a couple of weeks 🙂 I left a message on your blog – not sure if you got it. Happy travels!

  6. Suzanne Curran
    | Reply

    We have been on the road for 8mths and can feel your pain! As much as you want it to be not every day can be an adventure and sometimes things aren’t as wonderful as you would like them to be. We do take hotel (cheap and cheerful ones) breaks which helps on the hot shower front, but then there is the money guilt – however we try not to drive too many miles all in one go and think about the journey and not the destination. On the road life does become a routine and as with any normal life there is good and not so good. Living with someone 24/7 no matter how well you get on can have its moments – we have been married nearly 30yrs but still we have “moments” – 3mths is the settling in period and I’m sure you are going to have an awesome time everything takes a little getting used to. We are going to Canada to do West to East after Asia so will go back and look more closely at your posts – good luck and enjoy your travels – Suzanne, John and Tigger

    • Mark
      | Reply

      Hi Suzanne, John and Tigger,
      Today is a day for catching up and we have missed a few comments in the last month or so – so really sorry not to have responded beforre now.
      Yes that whole adjustment to life in a tin box on the road was (and still is) a many and varied process.
      We have been promising ourselves a 4 day stint on a beach since we arrived in Canada – nearly 6 months ago – and not been able to do that yet. But tomorrow we are moving from Mulege (Baha California Sur) down the coast a little to a beach called Coyote which by all accounts will be amazing. Hope fully you are still having a great time in Asia and we have more information from our Canada experience than we put on the blog – so if and when you need it please contact us with any questions and we will be happy to try and answer them. Thanks for your lovely and insightful comment – hopefully we will hear from you again soon. Lots of love mark and Saskia x x x

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