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My Van Life: Day 62

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Barstow, CA - Sacramento, CA

While every fiber of my being wanted to keep on pushing through those last five hours after we stopped at Love’s Travel Stop last night, I’m pleased to report that my better judgment was, well, exactly that. Better. We decided to drive to a rest area down the road and get legitimate sleep before tackling the handful of hours of driving ahead of us. Only five hours stood between us and home sweet home...

It’s funny really we had no intention of being back to Sacramento this early. We planned to try and make it there by Halloween weekend via a route that would allow us to take our time and enjoy some new scenery on the way back West. Especially because traveling in the van has been significantly more pleasant now that temperatures have dropped and it actually feels like Fall. We were just ready to be back home. I think a lot of things contributed to us hitting the fast-forward button on these last couple of weeks. For starters, there really wasn’t any Planet Fitness locations within sixty miles of the road we’ve been traveling. Knowing that Planet Fitness has been our savior when it comes to consistent workouts AND showering, well…I’ll let you infer what that’s meant for the two of us over these last few days. Our laundry bag is officially overflowing, Coco had her “situation” the other day, the random animal encounters. We’re just ready. Ready to be home and settle back into an official routine away from our four wheeled one.

Anyway, back to the day at hand. I was very much grateful we listened to that little voice inside my head that said “stop and rest” last night because we both woke up feeling refreshed and ready to hit the road once again. We popped into a Starbucks in honor of our last official Starbucks stop of Van Life and hit the dusty trail bright and early. While we only had five hours ahead of us, we both had to juggle busy work days so we had to be very strategic with how and where we shaved off some mileage in our drive.

Speaking of mileage and driving, I forgot to mention in my post last night that we were quite rudely greeted upon re-entering California with ASTRONOMICAL gas prices. It’s funny when we started our trip at the height of Summer gas was of course high, as it traditionally is during those peak months, but then we made our way from West to East and gas got significantly cheaper. As to be expected. Well, now that we’ve made our way from East to West once again, gas prices have gone up and far exceeded the price it was at when we left California back in July. I think we paid $89 to fill our tank (reminder we do put Diesel in the van) last night. That wasn’t even a full tank that was for like 3/4 of a tank. Like I said, how’s that for a welcome back to California???

Thankfully we filled up last night and didn’t have to worry about it the rest of the day. The rest of this trip I guess. We drove for a little bit this morning before finding a Walmart parking lot to post up in for the work day. It was a gloomy and rainy day most of the day which seemed only fitting in honor of our last Van Life day. Van Life for right now at least. It’s not a goodbye, just a see you later, you know?

We purchased this book Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty on Audible yesterday and we’ve been listening to it nonstop. She’s one of my favorite fiction authors. I fell in love with her style of writing after reading Nine Perfect Strangers last summer, which as many of you know is now a Hulu series but perhaps many of you don’t know it started off as a book. At any rate, we haven’t had the best of luck with the Audible books we’ve purchased thus far. They’ve been rather drab, read by people who should likely stick to writing and/or their day jobs, whatever they might be. However this one, this one is different. Of course she’s an incredible writer so I knew I’d love it but Caroline Lee is the narrator and she does a phenomenal job. I’m wondering if Audible is best kept to fiction books and the non-fiction ones don’t translate quite as well? That would make sense to me. While I traditionally prefer a non-fiction read, I do still enjoy fiction and now I know more so than non-fiction via Audible. Nevertheless I would highly recommend this one whether you read it in real life or listen to it via Audible. It’s been a tremendous “read” thus far and has kept these desolate miles, the last ones of our trip, quite interesting as we’ve been so enthralled with this book.

It’s funny how you’re almost disappointed to stop driving when you’re listening to a good book or a captivating podcast or your favorite song even. It makes you actually enjoy your time in the car no matter where you might be going or how long you have to spend at the wheel. Nevertheless we did have to stop as duty called (not that kind of duty, our 9-5 duty). It’s so odd to think this is the last time we’ll be doing this for who knows how long. The last time we’ll be sitting in this van we’ve called home the last few months, connecting to our mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, praying the connection is strong enough to last us both the entire workday. The last time we’ll be preparing a meal in our little “kitchen,” mindful of our energy and water usage after each meal and subsequent dish washing session. Yesterday and today have both been filled with a lot of ”lasts” so I’m trying to cherish each and every one of them.

We did end up making that last lunch in our van and enjoyed our last lunch hour together before diving back into work in the afternoon. We were both so anxious to hit the road again knowing at this point we only had a couple of hours before pulling up in front of the house and stepping out of our van for the last time.

Finally the time came when we were ready to begin that home stretch (quite literally). It’s funny how no matter what you’re doing, it could be a run, a walk, or in this case a drive, the last little bit seems to be the longest. You know exactly what I’m talking about don’t you? Like you could have been driving for 7 hours straight and there’s only sixty miles between you and your final destination, let’s call it an hour, but that hour inches by slower than any hour you’ve already driven that day. Of course, that’s exactly how our last two hours went. It also didn’t help that we hit some rush hour traffic at various points along the drive, further elongating those final miles.

But, we made it. We made it home and yes Coco was as excited to see my mom as we anticipated she would be. My mom feeds Coco all the treats so she’s come to have a special affinity for her. Naturally. As any dog would.

It took us probably about 3-4 hours from the time we parked the van in front of my mom’s place, emptied everything out into my room, drove the van over to our storage spot, returned home, ate dinner, showered, and proceeded to organize everything once again, before we crawled into bed and called it a night. I’m the kind of person who CANNOT leave a mess. Yes, I’m the girl who immediately unpacks upon arriving home from a trip. I can’t help it, that’s just the way I am. Mess = stress for me. So yes I painstakingly organized every little thing we had removed from the van back to its happy little home. Which took time. Plenty of it. But I’m going to bed feeling light as a feather and I will not wake up in the morning and scream in absolute terror at the mess around me.

And just like that, Van Life is officially wrapped. Like I said, it’s wrapped just for now, not forever, but unfortunately we had bigger priorities calling our name. While I’m laying in my own bed instead of inside the van writing this, I don’t know that it’s really sunken in just yet. We‘ve just spent the last three months of our lives traveling, two of which we lived in a van and traveled the entire US. We drove from California all the way to Florida in less than two months time. We saw so much, we experienced a lot of what this incredible place we call home in the United States has to offer and we adventured. Boy did we adventure. It may not have sunken in just yet but my heart is full. That has certainly sunken in. My heart is eternally full with memories to last a lifetime…Thanks for coming along for the ride…

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