4000 Rivets

We are Mike & Kristin Ryan! We are photographers, wanderers, parents, grandparents, writers, hikers, travelers, paddle-boarders, beach lovers, explorers, adventurers...and we are full-timing throughout North America, indefinitely, in our 30 foot Airstream, named Gracie Lou!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

January 2018

To be honest, I'm writing this blog post in March and January is kind of a blur...!!!  Not because I don't remember where we were or who we were with, but mostly because of what we did and how quickly the month went by - it was kind of traumatic!

We left Desert Hot Springs and went up to Las Vegas to drop Gracie off at the Airstream dealership to have some minor maintenance work done.  (Note to self; check the Las Vegas convention schedule when planning next time...make sure the CES Convention isn't in town!)  The dealership was gracious enough to let us leave Gracie for basically a month, even though the work would be done in just a couple of days...and we were able to leave the truck there too (another note to self; when the service manager suggests to take the bikes down and store them inside their shop, take him up on it)!

On the way into Vegas I insisted we stop at this random, wonderful art installation!

Seven Magic Mountains.

So fun!

We flew into Pocatello, where our daughter and her family live, and where we have had a home for the past 19 years...and somewhere in between the time we had decided to head north to check on things and spend time with family and when we landed in cold Pocatello, we had gotten an offer on the house...and signed papers to sell...  So, the casual, fun, relaxed time we had planned to spend with the kids was kind of wrecked...because the buyers wanted a quick close!  (We did manage to get in a Bagelry date, or two...and got to watch the girls in gymnastics, go to Harper's kindergarten class and played a bit in between the chaos!  Oh, and we had a fun granddaughter sleepover in a hotel the very last night!)

 We also got to be there when they found out that their third baby, due in June, is a BOY!!! 

And then, we got busy...  We had sorted and purged our house a bit, before we left on our travel adventures 8 months prior, but clearly not enough...!!!  It was a big, wonderful house, full of treasures...but honestly, once we started selling and donating our stuff, it because easier and easier to sell and donate our stuff!  We weren't attached anymore to the physical things...the memories didn't live there, they lived in our hearts and minds...  It's so cliche to say that, but it was so true! 

We did keep plenty of things...more than we had planned to actually, given our time constraints...but we did pretty well, going from a 4000+ square foot house that we had lived in for nearly two decades to a 250 square foot storage (that isn't even full!). 

We signed everyone's name on a support beam in the basement, everyone who had lived in that house, it having been a haven for plenty of family and friends over the years...and I wrote a blessing, of sorts, to the new family and those they welcomed...that they might have as many wonderful memories and as much love in that house as we.

And then, we left!  We flew out and headed West to spend some time with Mike's parents and siblings...and then drove over to our other little haven, our time share on the Oregon Coast.  It was the perfect way to end a crazy few weeks!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

The answer to the most frequently asked question....

...what is your system for carrying your bikes on the back of your truck?

We knew that we wanted to bring our bikes with us on this adventure, though we are not die-hard mountain bikers we do enjoy a good bike ride, whether around a park or to the store, and figured we would also use them periodically to check out campsites.  We also knew that we didn’t want to attach our bikes to the back of the trailer on a bike rack, but instead we wanted them on the truck so that we could have them with us when we left our site to do some exploring. 

We have had rolling tonneau covers on several of our previous pickups and have always liked them.  We went down to our local truck accessory store to discuss our options and how we wanted to carry our bikes and they showed us the Pace Edwards rolling tonneau covers that we were familiar with, but they introduced us to the Explorer Rails. These rails sit on top of the edge of the pickup bed and house not only the tracks for the tonneau cover but also have slots down the middle which allow you to mount either Thule or Yakima crossbars.

The tonneau cover we chose is a Pace Edwards Full Metal Jack Rabbit which is a step up from the Jack Rabbit version.  It has aluminum panels with a black ‘rhino like’ covering that roll up into a box that hangs down from the bed rails.  The box does take up some room in the bed of the pickup but because it rolls flush with the top of the bed it allows the crossbars to sit over the bed at a fairly low profile.  Our crossbars are made by Thule but Yakima also makes bars and stands that fit the Explorer Rails.

Our bike racks are also made by Thule. They are the Thule Side Arm and they mount to the cross bars. The arm that holds the bikes solid at the front wheel/fork locks in place. There is a cover over two of the fasteners that bolt the rack to the cross bar.  This cover also locks to make it more difficult for someone to easily remove the racks from the crossbars.

The rack holds the bikes sturdily and we’ve never had any issues with them moving around, even on bumpy roads.  The bikes and car top carrier make it a little more challenging to access the full length of the bed of the truck, but we can roll the tonneau cover back completely and still reach everything in the back of the bed without removing the bikes or the car top carrier.  If we want to completely rearrange everything and clean out the bed of the pickup we remove the bikes to make it easier.

This system isn't theft proof, apparently...!  We had our bikes stolen off the back of the pickup in Las Vegas while we were away visiting family.  We left the truck parked in a semi-secure lot (it was actually at the Airstream dealership) for a few weeks...which was about two weeks too long as thieves decided to jump the fence and take them.  The bikes were cabled to the crossbars but the thieves cut the cable and then hack-sawed the rack arms to get the bikes.  We can’t really do anything about preventing someone from using a hack saw but we now added a chain to our setup, if we expect to be away from them for a longer period of time.  

This setup works really well for us!  Let us know (email us, find us on Facebook or Instagram) if you have any questions or suggestions!  


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Our month in Desert Hot Springs; Sams, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree

We left Death Valley and headed south to Desert Hot Springs, having called about a spot in a place called Sams Family Spa.  We had decided that we wanted to be in one place for awhile, to spend the holidays with the amenities of an RV park...and the monthly rate at Sams was pretty hard to pass up, $575 plus electricity (which ended up right at $30)...for full hookups and access to the hot mineral spas, pool, steam room and sauna.  

We drove in (they don't take reservations but will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not they have room over the phone) and found a spot along the back row of RV's, some of which looked like residents and others that were traveling through.  The friendliness of the staff and the laid back, easy going style of the place was just what we were looking for so we settled in.  

First on our to-do list, before we could explore the area, was to get ready for the holidays!  We had not had steady cell signal in Death Valley so we took to the internet for a day or two, paid some bills, caught up on everyone's lists and did our shopping and mailing...we even managed to do Christmas cards this year!  

And then, as we finished up the only significant thing we had to do for the month, the cold I had been denying for a week or so, turned into a mean sinus infection that just wouldn't let go!  So we lost about a week of opportunity while I was sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching...!

The first sunset, as seen from the UPS store in Desert Hot Springs!
Our first trip into Joshua Tree was really fun...lots of "wow, this landscape is crazy", as we drove through the park and took a couple of short hikes.  I was anxious to see the place, more than almost any other, that had peeked my interest long ago when we first started considering this traveling life...and it didn't disappoint!

Days easily blurred into one another, some days we just hung out by the pool, catching up on our reading...

And enjoying sunsets like this one...

Near Sams is a preserve called Coachella Valley, with a nice hiking trail that loops through desert landscapes to an oasis in the middle of cacti...it was a cool spot for an easy walk...and it's a free park (no dogs allowed because of the wildlife in the area...we heard a pack of coyote pups!).

One of the days we did the most touristy thing in the area...we took the Palm Springs Tram up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto for a hike around the mountain top and a cold beer in the lodge...and then an evening ride down the hilllside in the revolving tram...


Did I mention the sunsets...?

And the pools...

Several people told us about a little whole in the wall place in an out of the way little town called Pioneertown...so we made our way over one evening (made dinner reservations) for a great steak dinner and a live concert (Rose's Pawn Shop)...which was really awesome!

And back to Joshua Tree...this time, to do some night photography...

Oh, we also went to Palm Springs a couple of times, one of those times to the zoo...which was surprisingly very cool...a beautifully laid out, generously sized zoo with unique animals and a wonderful garden-like exhibit throughout the park of the native plantlife.

We also did lots of things without any photo evidence...we met some wonderful people at Sams and enjoyed sharing our time/stories/beer with all of them; Vince, Barbara, Susan and Michael, Bob and Kat!  We also ran up to Idyllwild to meet up with our new friends Don and Chris and Tess (from 13 Roads) for a hike and loved hanging out in that cool little mountain town with them!

One afternoon we wandered over to Sam Cobb's Date Farm, another recommendation from a fellow traveler...and met Sam Cobb himself...who might actually be the nicest person I've ever met!  And, his dates are sooooo good!

In short, we had a pretty great month at Sams.  There is certainly a lot to see and do in the area...and the pools and tubs are wonderful when you don't really want to do anything at all!  The RV park is nice...it's certainly dated, but it's clean and well kept...and they offer activities like yoga and water aerobics for those that like to partake...and movies on Fridays...and we did join in on the Christmas potluck dinner!  The park was about 3/4 full when we got there, but by New Years it was nearing capacity, so honestly, when we left we were anxious to find some open spaces!  The only real complaint we had was our neighbor...next time we would try to choose a spot that was not next to a resident.

And yes, there will likely be a next time...maybe not for a whole month, but the price is good enough that we could come and go in a month's time...mix in some boondocking or even do some tent camping in JT Park...there's always next time!

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