By: Jinyen and Chris Carew
Yellowstone National Park
Wow! Just wow. This past week we visited Glacier National Park in Montana, home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls, and mountains.
We saw a black bear hanging out, which was cool. Some nice hiking followed, through evergreens, and to cascading waterfalls, creating a series of pools, flowing into each other.
After a couple of days there, we stopped in a little lumber town, did laundry, got groceries, and found a spot with some WiFi, to catch up on some things. Then to our next stop.
Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the United States. It became a cherished national park in 1872, making this year its 150th anniversary. Upon arriving, it’s no wonder Yellowstone was granted this status before any others.
The park has a wide variety of things to see, with its geothermal features being most prominent. Old Faithful erupts high in the air every 90 minutes or so. We got there 15 minutes or so before its last eruption before nightfall, and it was a sight to see. It gradually builds pressure, like a pot of water with the lid on, until it finally boils over and shoots up to 180+ feet in the air.
There’s steam rising from the ground and water all around Yellowstone. There are fumaroles, which are kind of like the pipe in a steam room where the steam comes from. Then there are mud pots, which are basically boiling pools of mud.
Earth is amazing!
Okay! Our last west coast hurrah before heading back east.
Finished up in Seattle and hit two National Parks this past week: Olympic and North Cascades.
Olympic National Park is on the northwestern part of Washington state, and the lower 48 states in general. Our first stop was Cape Flattery, which is the northwestern most point of the contiguous United States. It’s actually just outside of the park, on the Makah Reservation, specifically Neah Bay. There’s a lookout at the NW-most point where you look out at Tatoosh Island, with its lighthouse. As is normal out there, it was quite foggy that day, but I got some cool shots of the island, so that was cool.
The park has a rainforest area and a coastal area. Both are amazing. The coastal area has some of the sharpest offshore rock formations I’ve seen, while also containing some of the most colorful, smooth rocks on the beach itself.
After Olympic, we started heading east, stopping in Seattle to get the girls their passports in an expedited fashion. After half a day of that, we got them, then headed east.
North Cascades National Park has one short main road that goes through it, with lots of trails and smaller roads for more off-road vehicles. Our 31’ front wheel drive RV sticks to main roads. Or at least paved roads, lol.
The main road through the park goes along the Skagit River, and there are three dams you can check out along the way. We saw two of them, plus the powerhouse for the other one. Dams really demand that you respect the power of engineering. These dams produce electricity, which is sent to power Seattle.
After leaving the park, we headed east to do some housekeeping. Fill up water, do laundry, get groceries, get WiFi.
Next National Park stops: Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton
Still in Seattle. As usual, the one week project turned into a two week project. All good though. Need gas money, lol. Actually, it’s nice to be paying less than $5 a gallon. Prices are down, and we’re out of California, so that helps.
We’ve been frolicking around Seattle on my couple of days off, hitting Pike Place to sample some Russian piroshkies, British crumpets, clams, mac-n-cheese, and more. Went to a little botanical garden, checked out The Spheres, and swam at a lake with a platform for jumping.
Thinking ahead to January, after our road trip is over, we’re trying to figure out our next move. I’m pushing for a European tour, before next school year, when the girls are going into middle school, but I’m not sure we’re ALL down for that. RV life is fun, but we’re always on the move.
We have some land Upstate, where we’re contemplating building a house, though we don’t really want to live up there full-time because we like cities with a diverse blend of people, foods, and things to do. Also, we’re a little over the cold weather, so we’re seriously considering Venice Beach or Marina Del Rey. That one’s probably going to win, because the weather is great – not as hot as inland LA gets. Also, we like to surf. Also, I want a sailboat that I can use year-round. Also, there’s a small airport in Santa Monica where I can get my private pilot certificate. So yeah.
The Pacific Northwest. Or the PNW, as everyone here calls it, is a place of beauty. So green. Evergreen, actually. Hence the nickname of Washington State. It’s not quite Autumn yet, but most of the trees here won’t be changing colors, unless you count the snow that will likely cover them all in the coming months.
It’s basically Christmas trees everywhere. Lumber yards abound! You need wood? They’ve got plenty.
Now to Seattle. It’s a pretty city, but it’s definitely got its share of problems. For one, it has a big homeless population, with tents all over. The city’s Chinatown is sad and desolate, very near to Pike Place Market, the main tourist attraction by the water.
On a different note, Seattle has some great food spots. From crumpets to burgers, and of course, seafood. Salmon is probably the most popular seafood here, since they run through all the rivers in these parts. And coffee, of course.
Seattle is a city of large corporations: Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, and Zillow, just to name a few.
We checked out Boeing’s Museum of Flight, which was very interesting. Lots of aircraft, from fighter jets to gliders to 747s. I’m kinda into planes, and I’m aiming to get my private pilot certification in 2023, so The Adventures of Us 4 will be continuing in the sky soon…
Portland was cool. We didn’t stay long, because we checked the weather (as we do), and it was about to be in the 90s there. So, we grabbed a bite at a couple choice spots, then left for Washington.
The client whose place I remodeled in Venice Beach referred me to her niece in Seattle, who then referred me to her mother-in-law – so now I have a project here to work on for the next week or so. That means I’ll probably be working most days, while Jinyen and the girls hang out, and prance around the city a bit.
But first, before we hit the Emerald City, we stopped at Mount Rainier National Park. It was breathtaking! We saw some cool
wildlife while hiking around the mountain. Elk, mountain goats, and hoary marmots!
It’s August, and there’s snow on the mountaintop, which provided a nice, cool breeze throughout the area. Perfect for hiking!
Then it was off to Seattle. More on that next week…
Yosemite National Park – breathtaking!
Lassen Volcanic Park – amazing!
Crater Lake National Park – awesome!
The National Parks are the wonders of the United States. If you get the opportunity to explore them, take it. We got an annual pass for $80, so we get into all of them for a year. That’s not per person. That’s our whole family. It’s well worth it, seeing that most of the parks are $25+ each.
Yosemite is full of sheer walls of rock. Jinyen and I saw a black bear, which was actually brown. It was when we first arrived, and the girls were still asleep, so they missed it.
We did a little hike up to Lower Yosemite Falls, where the water was crisp and refreshing. Half the family took a dip, while the other half avoided the cold water.
A little more oohs and ahhs, then we headed to Lake Tahoe. It’s on the California/Nevada border, and reminded us of other mountain lake towns, like Lake George, in NY. We took a dip in two different spots there, then headed north.
Next was Lassen Volcanic NP, a geothermal area with bubbling pools of sulphur, which you definitely don’t want to take a dip in. There was a beautiful, clear lake that we did take a dip in. It was the clearest water I’ve ever seen.
After Lassen, it was off to Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake lies in the caldera of a volcano that erupted 7,700 years ago, collapsing onto itself. All of the water in the lake comes from precipitation falling directly on the lake, or around the crater, and washing down to the lake. It’s not fed by any springs or creeks from elsewhere, so there is hardly any sediment. That gives it a sharp clarity.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, at over 1,900 feet deep. That’s like a 190-floor building. Yikes!
Next we left for Portland. Just got here, and we’re kinda just hanging out with my cousin, who we’ve maybe seen once since 2009, when Jinyen and I went on our last cross-country road trip.
Oh! We finally decided to just hire an editor, so all of this footage we’ve been getting will soon be on YouTube, I swear.
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook @theadventuresofus4
We packed in a lot of sights in San Francisco! Chinatown, The Mission District, Castro District, Haight-Asbury, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Land’s End, and more. Oh, and we went to a San Francisco Giants baseball game. It was the first baseball game for the girls, and what an introduction!
The Giants were down 6-7 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. But that’s when a two-run homer won it, beating the Pirates 8-7. What more can you ask for? Golden Gate Park is the Central Park of San Francisco.
We went there a few times, to enjoy the Botanical Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden, along with some good old hiking. Saturday was Li-Yen’s 12th birthday, so apparently we’ll have a teenager in a year from now. Just wow. After San Fran, we headed up to Napa Valley, where the wineries are wonderful. We stopped by 4 different ones, before we finally found one that’s family-friendly. Three of them were straight up 21+, and one let us bring the kids in, though it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. That was a little uncomfortable, seeing as we felt like we had to be library-quiet.
The final one was more our speed, with a whole marketplace, and outdoor seating. We’re used to wineries out East, which are more like the apple farms upstate, with a casual vibe, welcoming to everyone.
Most of the wineries out here have more of an exclusive, club feel. We were hoping to see some of the behind-the-scenes, but that’s pretty much reserved for those who pay for expensive tastings and tours. Next stop, Yosemite.
Then Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake, and Portland. After a few days in Portland we’ll head to Washington, with 3 National Parks within 2-3 hours of Seattle. So, be ready for more National Park pics next week!
What a week!
Family was in town, so instead of our usual traveling-all-year pace, we kicked into high gear this past 7 days.
Disneyland was super fun! The girls had nonstop action, from 8am to midnight. It’s like $180/person, so we had to milk EVERY minute. And, in those 16 hours, we still just barely rode everything we wanted to ride.
Next stop, San Jose, where we have some family on Jinyen’s side. We went to the nicest, largest dim sum spot we’ve ever been to. We kinda agreed it was the tastiest too. That’s probably because they actually give you a menu when you arrive, then make things fresh, as opposed to the normal dim sum, with carts full of food that go around.
A few other eating situations, then off to San Francisco for one day, until they family flies back out to Jersey…
First, we head to Fisherman’s Wharf, to Boudin, a place that’s been making their famous San Francisco sourdough since 1849! Sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder, tomato soup, or beef chili? Yes please!
Next up, we hopped on a big boat for a trip into the bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, then around Alcatraz. Li-Yen is pretty sure she saw the fin of a Great White Shark. That is completely likely, as there are 5 types of sharks in the bay. Despite that, there were dozens of guys out there windsurfing and kite surfing.
Back on land, another classic must is to take a ride on a cable car. They were invented here, and have been running since the 1800s. The actual cable car we rode on has been in service over 100 years!
Jinyen and I have loved San Francisco since our cross-country road trip in 2009, pre-kids.
We’ll be here for another week. Then it’s off to Yosemite and beyond!
It’s Li-Yen’s 12th birthday soon, and both her and Brook Lyn miss their cousins. Plus, Jinyen’s parents miss her (and the rest of us), so they came out here to surprise the girls, and go to Disneyland with their favorite cousins!
It was not easy for Jinyen to hold her excitement in, but she did okay. They were so happy to see each other for the first time in person since November that they all cried tears of joy. It was cute.
Before Disneyland, I have to do some finishing touches on this studio I’ve been working on since we arrived in May…
After Disneyland, it’s off to San Francisco. We’re altering our trip up the coast a little bit, going more directly up to San Jose instead of moseying up the coast. That’s because we’re visiting some Cali family in the limited time that the New Jersey family is in town.
So, after about two and a half months, we’re going north.
Back in LA, and we have a few more things to mark off our list. Do an art show here, and go to Disneyland.
We have all been to Disney World at least once, and I’ve been too many times to count, growing up only an hour away. Of course, back then it was like $30 or so for Florida residents. Disneyland is like $180 per person, which is crazy to me, but I digress. You only live once, and your kids are only kids for a limited time. So, we’re going in the next week or so.
Driving around LA, I haven’t seen many spots that have the street side energy that we are so accustomed to in NYC. It seems like nobody walks here, except those less fortunate, and in some places – tourists.
That being said, I’m not ready to take the leap of renting a storefront for a pop-up art show. I’ve done a lot of shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan, for which I’ve done a LOT of marketing and promotion. It’s definitely different out here.
I have to say though, Venice Beach has a boardwalk area that has vibes from a few of our favorite places, like South Beach, Washington Square Park, and The Jersey Shore. During the week it is a higher percentage of homeless, with a high concentration of mentally ill people. On the weekends though, people come out in droves, so the number of sketchy people is at least diluted.
Anyways, we did some reconnaissance (as we do) and found a sweet parking spot just one block from the boardwalk. Street cleaning is only two hours, once a week, so I grabbed a spot on Monday and that was our spot for a week. Every morning, around 11 or so, I lugged a bunch of my art pieces down to the boardwalk, setting up shop. After 7 straight days, about 8-9 hours each day, I sold a few pieces. Also met some cool people, and did a lot of pondering about how I can get one of these oceanfront spots next year.
I’m always plotting something…
Two months later, left LA to hit the beaches to the south. First stop, Laguna Beach. It’s beautiful there, with amazing homes perched on the side of bluffs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Lots of galleries too. I actually got an opportunity to have 9 of my paintings on display there, so that is awesome, because that was one of my goals on this trip.
I tend to set lofty goals, so that even if I fall short, I’m always making progress.
Taking next steps on my salad-making machine too, so that’s exciting. (more on that another week)
Next stop, San Diego. La Jolla has some of the most beautiful little beaches in the country for sure. There are seals and sea lions just hanging out on rocks, and in the water, where you can swim. I literally was swimming with a sea lion like 8 feet from me. That was cool.
We finally made it to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, where we saw tons of animals we’ve never seen before. Fennec foxes, a red panda, a Pygmy hippopotamus. Komodo dragons, and a jaguar.
Gotta get back to LA. Until next week…
Chinatown! We all know NYC has one. San Francisco’s is also famous. We’ll be there next month. But this week we checked out LA Chinatown. We went around 7pm on a Tuesday and it was like a ghost town. We know from our trip that things close way earlier everywhere outside NYC, but it was not even dark yet and hardly anything was open. It did make for some cool pictures though. The place felt like an abandoned theme park, with old signs, coin rides, and neon lights, once it got dark.
We also checked out Little Tokyo. It’s really little, but cute, like most Japanese things. There we went to a sushi place where dishes go around on a conveyor belt, and if you like what you see, you grab it before it passes. That was fun, and definitely recommended if you can find one. Pretty sure there’s at least one in New York.
Got a chance to check out the Getty Center, which is up high above the city, with amazing views! It’s free, and you take a cable tram up the hill to the Center. That’s always a fun experience, and was especially cool to see all the really nice homes in the hills. The Center is beautiful, and it was really designed to take full advantage of the views. Highly recommended!
This week we’re going down south, to Laguna Beach and San Diego. Stay tuned!
Fireworks! We went to Playa del Rey to see the Fourth of July fireworks, which were beautiful, but it’s bittersweet, seeing what the Supreme Court just did to turn back time. I’m not going to get into politics, but let’s just say we came for the fireworks more than to celebrate Independence Day.
Anyways, we’re going sailing this week, so that will be fun! The RV life is a bit of a practice run for living aboard a sailboat some time in the not-too-distant future, so we are (I am) excited to hit the water to sail, and to explore Marina del Rey a little bit more.
More food! We checked out the famous Randy’s Donuts, which was awesome! We love donuts. We also went to Roscoe’s, a classic spot for chicken and waffles, which was actually started by a Harlem native. New York City influences a lot of things, in case you didn’t already know.
Finally got a chance to bike down the beach on the Metro Bikes, which is the LA version of Citibikes. At $3.50 an hour, they’re well worth it.
Be back next week…
We’ve been in LA over a month now, and are no doubt enjoying it. Lots of beach days, scouting the coast for our favorite spot to be. So far we have played at Venice, Santa Monica, Long Beach, & Playa del Rey.
Beaches on the west coast are generally much more dramatic in their landscapes, with the possible exception of the New England coast. The weather in Southern California, where you can actually hit the beach pretty much year-round, gives it bonus points though.
Living in NYC for the last 15-20 years, we’re not easy to impress on the food front. That’s because NYC obviously has basically every cuisine you can imagine, and you can get many of them until late at night. Being that spoiled, we have to throttle back our expectations when traveling…
That being said, we have found that there are some $1 taco spots, where guys set up on the sidewalks with a whole situation, slinging chorizo, pastor, pollo, and other typical Mexican meats, on corn tortillas. After we get our 3 basic street tacos for $3, we have lots of toppings to choose from (at no additional cost), including diced onions, cilantro, ceviche onions and peppers, cucumbers, radishes, and, of course, salsas.
Where in 2022 can one get full for $3? Let me answer that for you. Almost nowhere in America…
Los Angeles (still)
What’s unique about Los Angeles is the range of microclimates in the city. At the beaches you get nice 70-80-ish degree weather in the day, and cooler at night, but inland, it gets like 10-15 degrees warmer. I say that to say this: we are in love with the weather on the coast, because it has been perfect for the RV life – no air conditioning needed during the day, and nice and cool at night.
Recently, we’ve been to Van Nuys, Hollywood, and some other neighborhoods, where it gets a lot hotter. Hot is not fun in the RV. We escaped that when we left Nevada, and we’re glad we did, because now I’m looking at temps out there, and you could damn near cook a chicken outside there. Ugh!
Jinyen and I have been loving the plant life out here! Damn near everything grows out here, and flourishes. Lemons, oranges, loquats, figs, olives, almonds, strawberries, aloe, eucalyptus, and on and on and on. I’m not sure how colorful it is here in February, but in June it is amazing!
We’ve just been strolling around Venice a lot, and despite how small the lots are, the homes here have so much privacy from the streets, mostly due to thick shrubs along the property lines. It’s also nice to see such a diverse range of architectural styles all next to each other. You have super modern homes with glass walls, next to classic beach houses with lap siding, next to Spanish Colonials with stucco.
Anyways, can you tell we’re sold on California?
We’re mentally adjusting to the idea of living in LA. More specifically, we’re super into
Marina del Rey. It’s the largest man-made small craft marina in the world, with around 5,000 boats. When I say ‘small craft’, that doesn’t mean these are little boats, by any means. It just means it’s not for cruise ships and cargo ships, but rather boats and yachts, some of which are 100+ feet long, and probably cost more than most people make in a decade.
Actually, we just looked at two boats ourselves. I have been wanting a sailboat for a while now, because I love the water, and because the ocean is probably the most free place on Earth.
So, we looked at two sailboats in Marina del Rey. One was 27’ long, and the other was 35’. Both sizes are great for a family of four to cruise. The 35-footer is even slightly livable. Having a boat in a marina can be the least expensive way to live in some places, if you’re ‘bout that life’. Being that we have lived in the RV for the last 6-7 months, we are pretty much ‘bout it.
Don’t get us wrong though – we are trying to get a boat that we CAN stay on for a few days, or maybe even a week or so – but we aren’t necessarily trying to live on a boat full-time. At least not the ones we can afford at the moment. There are definitely some nice boats that we would happily live aboard full-time, but we’re trying for one that we can AirBnB at the Marina when not in use, to help offset the costs.
BUT, we have kinda decided that it would be best to wait until we finish the second half of this trip before we jump into that. So yeah, we’ll almost certainly have a boat here next year, but not just yet…
So, we’re thinking of moving here to Los Angeles. It’s like a mix between NYC and Miami, but with better weather than both.
We really want to do the bicoastal thing though, because we love New York. And the weather in NY is all good from April to December. We do like the seasons you get in NYC, and the holiday season is unmatched. It’s the January to March weather that is nice to get away from.
I’m still working on this remodel, which is cool, because I like to see the progress of a place from old and dark and dingy to new and bright and shiny.
Also, since starting, we haven’t moved the RV much, besides here and there because of street cleaning (once a week), and dumping our tanks at the water treatment plant. That’s great, because gas prices range from $6 to $7 in LA right now. So yeah.
Anyways, I haven’t been sightseeing much, but the ladies went to a Rainbow High Popup event with a friend we know out here, so that’s fun.
Until next week…
There are a lot of people camping in LA, in RVs and in tents. Some by choice, most by necessity. It’s a crazy world out there right now.
We have been staying in Venice for a week and a half now, just moving to avoid parking restrictions. We’re thinking how we wouldn’t mind staying here, with the weather, the beach, and the city all around. But then we look at the prices of everything, and staying in the RV seems like the best choice for now.
The girls are doing well, writing in their journals every day, and finishing up their workbooks. We got them started with daily journals this year, with a little pushback. It was a decision we think they’ll appreciate when they read later on in life. I love seeing their handwriting and illustrations.
They have adjusted quite nicely to the #RVlife, but they’re definitely looking forward to the day we get back to normal, whatever that means anymore. They’re in 4th and 6th grades right now, so they’re anxious tweens, excited to be teens, and ready for middle school.
I don’t blame them at all. Their parents just need to figure some things out…
Finally, we made it to Los Angeles! Land of palm trees and beach sunsets.
First stop is Venice, where a few day construction gig has just turned into an entire renovation of a garage into a studio apartment. We’ve been here a few days, but I’ve been doing full days of plumbing, framing, roofing, electrical, and drywall work. I have done handyman/construction work off and on for about 20 years, so what starts as a specific gig will oftentimes expand in scope once I get started, and the client takes a liking to my work.
So yes, construction is one of the ways I make a living, here and there.
The weather here is basically perfect, and it seems like it’s actually like this year-round. Of course, if you live here you already know that. For this reason, among others, we might just want to settle down out here…
But for now, we’re going to hang in the LA area for the rest of this month, all of June, and probably all of July.
After this remodel, I’m focused on finding a nice space to host a group art show, likely in Downtown LA. I’ll be organizing this show with 10-20 local artists, in a good-sized space, around 3,000-4,000 square feet or so. (This is another of the ways I make a living, though the whole pandemic put quite a damper on the live event side of things.)
Oh! Gotta get back to work. Until next week…
The Vegas Strip is like a longer, wider Times Square, surrounded by desert. Hoardes or tourists, performers, and hustlers, trying to make a buck. Spend your money here!
It’s all a facade, because a block away from the strip it gets crazier. But not a flashy crazy, like wow. More of a shady crazy, like woah. I think the 100-degree-plus heat may increase the crazy.
So we left Vegas for California. First stop here was a nice little State Park at a beautiful lake in the mountains. We decided we could live here, with temps in the 70s.
Life is too short to be hot as hell or cold as ice. We’re trying to chase the 50-to-90-degree weather all year. Cool nights in the RV are lovely, snuggled up in the blankets with a view.
Heading to LA next. Going to swing back and see Death Valley and Joshua Tree this next few weeks. Gotta make some moves in the city first.
We all love the outdoors, but I think we all love the city too.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Viva Las Vegas! We’re not big gamblers, and we are traveling with two kids (with no
babysitter), so we probably won’t be doing much gambling, if any at all.
We’ve been pondering what we will do after this trip, and we’re still not sure. Jinyen is working remotely, and it doesn’t look like she will really need to return to the office again, since she can do everything online. I’m in the same boat, except that I am working on a big project that I’m developing over this next year, for which I’ll have to choose a base in 2023. But it’s flexible.
A lot of people, upon becoming parents, decide to make the move to the suburbs. For me, that this has never been an enticing path. I’m not a huge fan of suburbs, preferring the diversity of the city, and the stillness of rural areas. I don’t want to live in the wilderness, but I love to escape the city for the woods every once in a while.
Jinyen, on the other hand, grew up in the suburbs, so she has a different outlook. Despite this, we have pretty much concluded that it’s gotta be New York City, Los Angeles, or maybe San Francisco. We’re kinda leaning towards LA lately, considering the weather and all. That’s the only thing we’re not huge fans of about NYC. We’ll, maybe not the only thing, but one of the biggest things. And we all know the song ‘It Never Rains in Southern California’. (It doesn’t snow either)
I say that to say this:
We probably won’t end the road trip and stay in LA when we arrive, but it has been mentioned…
Lake Mead, Nevada
Dam! The Hoover Dam, to be exact. We just visited it, and it was impressive, as expected. It’s amazing what humans can build. It provides power and water to Nevada and Arizona, plus a bunch of other Western states.
After that, we came to Lake Mead, which is on the high side of The Hoover Dam, and is the largest reservoir in America. It’s a beautiful place, though the water level has been rapidly lowering every year. It is at its lowest point ever right now, and apparently that is uncovering some things – like the body in a barrel that was found the exact day we arrived. Yeah. I mean, Las Vegas is half an hour away, and we know the mob had a lot to do with its growth, so more things are expected to be uncovered as the water recedes here…
Before we got to Nevada, we stopped in Phoenix and tried fry bread, which is a Native American bread, which is fried (obviously). It’s similar to other ‘Indian’ breads – as in India, not Native Americans – kind of like Naan, but fried. King of like sopaipilla, but different. Check our socials to see (@theadventuresofus4)
We were shooting to see the Grand Canyon after Phoenix, but there are some wildfires up in that direction right now, so we headed west, and we decided we will swing down on the way back east instead.
Next stop, Las Vegas, followed by Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, and then Los Angeles. Once we get to LA, we’ll probably hang out for a bit.
If you don’t know, gas prices in California are CRAZY. Like way more than the rest of the country. With an RV that gets around 7 miles to the gallon, it’s not something you look forward to, so we’re praying gas prices go down soon. Not holding our breath though…
Okay! Now we’re moving and grooving. We just got to Arizona, and we’re jazzed to see the next three National Parks here in Arizona.
This past week we stayed at the beautiful Elephant Butte (pronounced Byoot, like beautiful, though we were calling it Elephant Butt the entire time – lol). That is a great state park in New Mexico, containing Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is actually the largest reservoir in New Mexico. We camped out there and met another family of 4 who was there for the weekend from El Paso.
After that, we were off to White Sands National Park. That place was magical, with pure white sand dunes that drift a little bit each year. We spotted a coyote there, which we’ve been crossing our fingers for. Also, sledding down the dunes is a thing there, so we did that. There are lizards that live on the dunes, which have evolved by natural selection over the last 10,000 years to be white. So that was interesting to learn.
Seeing all of the military testing areas out here is crazy. Los Alamos, home of the infamous Manhattan Project, is up near Bandelier, where we were last week. Look that up if you don’t know the history.
White Sands Missile Range is where they test missiles, which sometimes closes the National Park, but luckily not when we were there.
Also, as you drive along Interstate 10, you’ll notice huge blimp-like things, which are actually called Tethered Aerostat Radar System, and are used by Border Patrol. There are lots of Border Patrol checkpoints out here, which we’re not used to, having lived on the East Coast all our lives.
Oh! We just saw a rattlesnake finally, right when we pulled up to our campground last night. We’ve been seeing signs warning of those since Texas, so that’s another check off the bucket list.
Much more to come! Stay tuned…
Wow! Carlsbad Caverns National Park was our third one, and it was breathtaking. Walking down into that place is surreal, walking by bats and swallows, as you go 750 feet underground, surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites.
If you get a chance to visit, definitely take it. Li-Yen and Brook Lyn got their first Junior Ranger badges there, and loved every minute of it. That’s good, because they’re not always easy to please. I guess that’s what happens when kids grow up in New York City, with cool ass parents who like to do cool things all the time.
After Carlsbad Caverns, we drove through Roswell, New Mexico, which is famous for an alien crash landing in 1947, which is laid out with numerous witness accounts at the UFO Museum & Research Center there.
I can’t forget Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which was nice too, though overshadowed by Carlsbad a bit.
Today we went to Bandelier National Monument to visit the cliff dwellings, which was interesting to see. The Anasazi people lived there, in the side of the mountains, and we got to go into a few of the dwellings. Also, there are still petroglyphs on the sides of the mountains there, so that was awesome to see.
Ate sopaipillas in Santa Fe, which is a puffy fried bread, sometimes stuffed with savory fillings, and sometimes just topped with honey. Both versions are tasty!
Super hyped for the next few national parks, including White Sands in New Mexico, followed by Saguaro, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon – all in Arizona.
I swear the YouTube channel is coming. For now, follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, & Tumblr. Just search ‘The Adventures of Us 4”
Big Bend National Park
We made it to Big Bend National Park, our first one of the trip! It’s beautiful here, along the Rio Grande in Texas. There are a few little towns all along the way. Though we all decided unanimously that we would not want to live out here, in the middle of nowhere, seeing the vast landscapes are a reminder of how small we really are.
Before we came here, we stopped in San Antonio for a few days. We checked out The Alamo, which was interesting to see, and The River Walk was definitely the highlight for us. It’s a wonderful place to stroll through the heart of the city, one story below street level. We happened to arrive on a weekend of their Fiesta celebration, which is a big gathering, with a parade each day.
Oh, and we cannot forget the puffy tacos! That is San Antonio’s signature dish, which consists of a corn tortilla, fried until it’s puffy and crispy, topped with your typical Tex-Mex taco toppings. I think we all agreed that they were our favorite kind of tacos.
Now we’re heading northwest, where we will be knocking out three more national parks in the next week or so – Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, then Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands in New Mexico.
Water is a luxury out here, so we’re constantly searching for a faucet to hook our 100’ hose to, so we can hook up the shower, wash dishes, and fill up our tank. The fresh water tank on our RV keeps getting punctured by bolts on our suspension, which is super frustrating, and definitely a huge design flaw that I wish we knew about before.
RV life is fun, but challenging. Maybe next week I’ll tell you about the grimy side of things…
Austin was fun. We stayed there for longer than expected, because we were having so much fun. Also, I picked up a gig building some stuff for a music festival last week.
Our littlest lady just turned 10 years old, so we ate lots of food, and took the girls to a trampoline park to jump it out with their new friend.
Now we’re in Freeport, Texas, which we heard about from some fellow travelers we met in Austin. Just got here last night, and to our surprise, there is nothing but oil refineries here. This whole town is basically just a big oil refinery on the Gulf of Mexico. Driving through, we were imagining how polluted the air must be. Then we thought how polluted the water may be, so we started Googling…
Turns out the beaches around here are not so clean, but it’s really due to sewage runoff more than pollution from the refineries – or at least that’s what the searches revealed. So yeah, we drove back east to get here, and it looks like we won’t be going in the water. But, it is nice to camp on the beach, with the sound of the waves, and the nice sea breeze blowing through the RV. So, we’re going to stay another night or two before leaving for San Antonio. Remember The Alamo!
After San Antonio, we’re heading west, to see our first two national parks (of 47) – Guadalupe Mountains NP and Big Bend NP. Then we hit New Mexico, where we’re excited for all the alien vibes of Roswell, the artsy vibes of Santa Fe, and the dark skies which are sure to make for some amazing stargazing.
Get ready for some epic photos!
Almost April already! We’re still in Austin, boondocking around the city, here and there. Boondocking is what it’s called when you camp without being hooked up to utilities (electricity, water, sewer).
We have a fresh water tank that holds 33 gallons of water for the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. And to flush the toilet. We have a 41 gallon grey water tank, which holds the dirty water from all of those, except the toilet. Then, we have the black water tank, which holds the sewage.
Living the boondocking RV life – as opposed to just pulling into campgrounds and hooking up to utilities – you learn how to find sources of water to fill the fresh water tank, and places to dump the other two. Since we have the solar panels, we always have battery power, so that’s been awesome.
Austin weather is great in March, FYI. Plus, it’s a great spot for vanlifers and RVers like us.
We got a tip that an RV can drive on the beach and camp right there on the sand in Freeport, Texas, so we are going there next, even though it’s back East, south of Houston. In NYC terms, it would be SoHo I guess. Except this Houston is pronounced the other way.
Anyways, we are excited to camp on the beach, because that’s not a thing you can normally do without booking far in advance, and paying. Freeport is free, which makes sense now that I say it out loud.
After beach camping, it’s west to San Antonio, then put to our first national parks of the trip, Big Bend, then Guadalupe Mountains. Both of those are near the border of New Mexico, our next state.
We’re having fun! Stay tuned for more…
Last time we were in Austin was 2012, selling Chalkboard Tees at Renegade Craft Fair. I built a nine foot tall Lone Star installation out of wood, painted with chalkboard paint. It was an interactive art piece with a Texas theme (and a chalkboard theme, of course).
Austin is cool. The residential architecture is interesting here, with neighborhoods full of different style houses. That’s in contrast to so many neighborhoods across the country that look blah because there are only three model homes to choose from, in three colors, and one developer builds them all. Boring.
The food has been tasty too. Had quite possibly the best churros ever. Had some bangin’ brisket, sausage, and ribs. Had some good local burgers and tacos. Also had some really good pizza, which was a pleasant surprise.
Living in NYC for almost two decades, eating at some of the best spots, and hosting markets with some of the tastiest foods, we would definitely be considered ‘foodies’, if you’re into labels. We have always made a point when traveling to find the food, but we never worried about getting footage before. We’re probably going to stay in Austin through this weekend and work on some things, like ACTUALLY getting our YouTube channel in order.
Until next week, follow us on TikTok @theadventuresofus4
We’re in Austin! Though we sort of breezed through Florida and Alabama and Mississippi, we did stop in New Orleans for a sampling of some local favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, a catfish po’ boy, beignets and chicory coffee. The four of us usually get a spread and get a few bites each, so we can try as many things as possible.
After New Orleans we headed west to Welsh, LA, and ate at Cajun Tales, a place right off I-10 that Jinyen and I have gone to twice before. They had the best biscuits and crawfish etouffee omelet before, but they don’t do breakfast anymore, so we went for lunch and got gator bites (yum!), crawfish pie (amazing!), an oyster/crawfish po’ boy (slammin’), and a really good hush puppy.
Now we’re in Austin, and I’m showing art all week, trying to sell some pieces to lighten our load a bit. Went to Barton Springs last night, which is a cool natural/man made hybrid spring/pool spot that is open until 10pm. Took a dip late last night and it was cold, but refreshing, so we’re gonna go tomorrow during the day when it’s a little warmer.
Will let you know about some BBQ and maybe the rodeo next week…
The day has come. We’re heading west.
We leave tomorrow for the first of three days of a nice amount of driving. Gas prices are surging. Fantastic.
Remembering back to the road trip we did in 2009, before kids, in a Grand Caravan, selling t-shirts. California gas prices were crazy high, so we’re a little sad about that, but that’s a first world problem. So we’ll move on.
Jinyen and I have been road tripping since way back, but this is definitely the largest load. FYI, The RV is perfect for living in while you renovate a house.
Anyways, our plan is to do 5-6 hours of driving or less between overnight stops. So, our next few stops are looking like Tallahassee, New Orleans, Houston, then Austin, for SXSW.
Going to hover around Austin for a couple weeks, including San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and some other stops. We’re going to take the girls to see Gwen Stefani at the rodeo in Houston.
There will be serious eating of things such as Cajun food in Louisiana, Fried Green Tomatoes in Alabama, and BBQ in Texas.
The dark skies are one of the things we’re looking forward to past Texas, to New Mexico, where the light pollution is super low, so the stars are much easier to see.
Our battery never dies since we got the solar panels installed. So that’s amazing.
Of course, the sun is super hot in Florida. Getting a little too hot. Gotta go.
Until next week…
Can of worms. I’ve never purchased one, literally, but I’ve opened a few, figuratively. Renovating spaces is a common one.
I renovated my 4,500 square foot studio in Bushwick starting in 2019. That was going in the right direction, but then we went viral, when the crown of viruses threw everything way off course.
We thought about doing this RV thing a year ago when it was first looking like it wasn’t gonna end quickly, but being who I am, I hoped it would get better sooner. It did not, so we did it this time.
And now I’m in Florida doing another renovation, so it’s okay, because I really don’t have anywhere specific to be yet. Which is sort of the point. But not really, because I was trying to be in California by now, in my ideal world.
So now we are trying to get to Austin in the next few weeks for South by Southwest, because I’d like to do another box truck popup art gallery there like I did in Miami. Also looking for places to pop up in Atlanta and New Orleans, on the way to Texas, but nothing set yet, so yeah.
Had my little birthday party art show Friday. This little town is not the art show type of place, but it was cool to see my pieces up in the different rooms. Probably won’t see them all spread out like this again until Los Angeles, where I’m working on doing a full brick-and-mortar show, rather than a popup box truck or art market type of thing.
But while we’re in LA I’ll also be hiring for the salad-making machine thing I mentioned last week. More on that later.
Still enjoying the birds, but hating the mosquitoes and no-see-ums. If you don’t know about those, great. You don’t want to.
It’s already getting hot in Florida, and soon it’s going to be sweaty hot every day, so I’m going to try to finish this house up, because I can’t wait to get on the road again.
Follow @theadventuresofus4 on Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, & Facebook
Space Coast, Florida
This is not a renovation piece, which is why I wasn’t highlighting it, but I’ve been renovating this house for the last six weeks or so. The thing is, I didn’t have that in my plans in December, so we’ve been staying pretty local for longer than expected, which has still been pretty adventurous, albeit a different type.
It’s a good thing though, because this house needed it. It was my grandmother’s, and she kept it nice and clean, but it’s old, so we updated things a little.
Now it’s a fresh gem of a spot and before we leave Florida I’m doing an exhibition there, of the works I made at my studio in Bushwick before we left New York. Also, my birthday was the 18th, so this is doubling as my 40th birthday party too. So that should be fun.
Which brings me to our other ventures along our adventure. I’m kind of addicted to building things and making ideas come to life, so we’re building bunch of things on this trip.
One of these things is a lemonade brand, based off the lemonade stand Li-Yen and Brook Lyn made, called Lemonland Lemonade (@lemonlandlemonade on Instagram). Our daughters are awesome and smart, and we are currently homeschooling them, so business, marketing, design and hospitality are a few of the electives they’re taking this year. Jinyen and I have done a lot of design work – for our own products and for others – and marketing, also for our own projects and for others. We’ve both done a lot of business and hospitality too, so it’s all fun, and we’re teaching them things they would not be learning in school.
We will be selling lemonade around the country all year long, getting our recipe perfect, documenting it, and designing our labels, with the goal of getting into New York City Whole Foods locations by 2023, then everywhere else.
That’s just one of the longer-term ventures we’re working on. Others include a salad-making machine. More on that later.
Food videos coming soon.
Solar panel install video coming soon.
Space Coast, Florida
So close to finishing this renovation, and so anxious to hit the road.
The food destinations alone have us excited! Looking forward to things like lobster roll in Maine, jambalaya in Louisiana, hotdish in Minnesota, Frito Pie in New Mexico, and BBQ from Alabama, Texas, Kansas and The Carolinas. They all have their own unique styles, and they’re all tasty!
Not to mention the Mississippi Mud Pie, Cincinnati Chili, Boston Crème Pie, Georgia Peach Cobbler, and so many other local dishes — some of which you can only really get in those places.
The list is way longer, but you get the point.
Other than that we’ve just been playing catch, cooking, eating, test-shooting for videos and planning our next moves.
Next week I’ll talk about some of the other things we’re working on, that we haven’t mentioned yet. Stay tuned @theadventuresofus4
Space Coast, Florida (still)
Ok, so the temperatures everywhere north of Florida have been colder than we want to be in, so we’re still in Florida.
Also, I’ve been helping to renovate a family home for the past few weeks — which should be done next week — so hopefully the weather lines up around that time, because we’re getting anxious to leave. Not anxious enough to leave 50 and 60-degree days for 20 and 30-degree days, but a little anxious.
We haven’t done a bunch of Florida traveling since Christmas because we’ve been doing some much-needed catching up with family for the past month or so. Plus, we’re planning to loop back around to Florida this coming December, for Art Basel and Christmas again. That’s when we’re going to knock out the rest of the state.
It’s super rewarding to see the solar panels making electricity, and being able to monitor it all on the my phone. Yes, there’s an app for that.
The girls are having a blast running around the woods with their cousins, riding golf carts and chasing dogs.
Jinyen is enjoying the weather and wildlife, and, of course, cooking.
I swear we’re leaving Florida soon…
Space Coast, Florida (leaving soon!)
Finally! Solar panels are installed! Well, besides the two cables I had to order last-minute after needing to… Nevermind.
But seriously, for all intents and purposes, they’re in, and Thursday the last pieces come in. I literally just plug those in and BUZZ! Electricity from the sun. You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting solar panels, so I’ll stop now.
Yesterday, SpaceX shot off a rocket, and we watched as the boosters returned to the launch pad. So that was cool. How many places in the world do they shoot rockets from Earth to Space? Not many, but look it up.
Also, Jinyen made some tasty Chinese food for Lunar NYE dinner. She always makes amazing food, and that’s why I’m trying to get her to exploit her talents for a YouTube channel, because why not?
We scoured the internet to create a list of unique regional foods for our state-by-state food tour of America, and now the citizens of the World Wide Web are helping us figure out exactly where to go for the best version of those foods.
It’s a fun research project, and we’re super excited to go to the places, eat the food, and make videos about it all.
Getting that YouTube channel all set up now with some videos, so we can make a splash debut next week, when we leave Florida!
People can follow us on all the social media platforms for the latest updates…
Just search @theadventuresofus4 or type out ‘The Adventures of Us 4’
Space Coast, Florida (still)
Brrrr. It’s cold in Florida. I mean, not NYC cold, but like thirties-for-one-night cold.
Plus, the path from here to Los Angeles is full of a-little-too-cold temperatures at the moment, so we’re not rushing to leave yet.
Got the charge controller for the solar setup, so now we’re just waiting on the mounting brackets, so I can install it all (finally).
We are documenting basically everything for our YouTube channel (going live soon), so I have unboxing and install videos to produce and edit.
Going to do some painting this week, and probably going to head back to Miami to show some art pieces before we head north, then west.
Jinyen has been cooking amazing foods like she always does, and we’ve decided to do a cooking series, because why not?
Starting to really map out our food destinations, because we’re producing a food road trip series for YouTube too.
The plan is all coming together. Lots to do!