Hello from your lovely meandering van-traveling crew. Today finds a fraction of the Vanajeros in Phoenix. The desert is a lean place of rocks, palms, and heat, with just as many misting machines as people. They are crucial to survival. We’re waiting for the last member, Parker, while he has a brief reprieve from vanlife in the form of a plane ticket home to officiate a wedding. He took a very official online certification program that probably involved clicking a button or two.
Highway 101 is made for an hour or two of sundrenched driving a day. We moved slowly: Seattle, Portland, Mount Hood, isolated Oregon coast, Trinidad, the Redwoods, Arcada, Santa Cruz, Los Osos, Santa Barbara, LA, San Diego, Joshua Tree, to here. Every place we find has a personality in its own right that we try on for a day or two, then move on. The routine of switching the van into sleep mode every night has gotten tiring, and we’re looking forward to the time when there are consecutive days without converta-vanning.
Everywhere we’ve gone there’s been a familiar face, glad to see us, and us glad to see them. We’ve been treated with so much love, and there’s a lingering feeling that there’s got to be something we can do to pay them back. We sat at dinner last night with Aidan’s Auntie Dani and his cousin Max, who had just gotten back to Phoenix from Spain. “Isn’t that an amazing feeling when traveling, when you look around and realize you don’t know anyone at all?” Dani asked. The back and forth between these feelings of familiar love and how attractive it seems sometimes to just be anonymous, make up part of that unnamable force that propels you out the door for adventures as ridiculous as this one.
In the vein of ridiculous adventures, we finally made it to our long-standing date in Los Osos with the GoWesty crew. We were nervous about meeting them since GoWesty is a large part of how we are able to get Sandy ready for the miles we’re about to pile on. The first night, Ted, their special projects supervisor, let us stay at his house when we were too, ahem, compromised to get too far from the Merrimaker, the bar that holds it down on the Wikipedia page defining dive bar (look it up). When Ted’s wife came out the next morning, smiling, offering to make coffee, and not even batting an eye at the sight of Parker strung up in his hammock between the van and a tree in her front yard, it could not have been clearer that we were in good hands.
Along with all the car parts and jargon (that only Aidan understood), they were essentially also giving us peace of mind.
From chance encounters with peaceful souls and their birthday cakes (that’s you, Donnie Hedden!), to encounters with the misting machines that we’re now convinced the van needs, to encounters with versions of ourselves we may not have seen in awhile or at all, we roll on to meet the world.