Loading

Viewing entries tagged
small living

Past, Present, Future



One of the things I love about being over the road is getting to see all the terrain and climate differences from across the country.  I've seen the white sands of the Gulf Coast, the foliage filled mountains and winding hills of the Appalachians, the crop covered rolling hills of the great plains, snow topped mountains, painted skies, the intricately wind-carved ridges all along the Colorado river, wide open skies of Montana, and the airid desolation of the Mojave desert.  Each trip out is something new to see and experience.  Even places or roads we've traveled before reveal new sights due to different times in the day or variations in season.  Everyday quite literally is a new adventure.

One of our recurring conversations is speculation on what the native americans of yester-year and the early settlers saw as they too experienced this country for the first time.  What was it like for them then, back before technology shaped and often scarred the landsides?  What did they see by campfire light before there were paved roads, headlights, and streetlights?  We even discuss the travelers of last century heading across county by car, long before there were gas stations and rest areas every few miles.  And then we wonder what travelers of tomorrow will see as the world continues to advance.  Will those future travelers also wonder what we of today saw?  How much will the future change?  And how much of history and nature will be lost in those changes?

Sequaro cactus from Arizona.
This one was about 20 feet tall, though many of these
cactus can grow to 70 feet tall and live up to 150 years. 

Yes we're out here for work.  He has deadlines to meet and DoT regulations to maintain.  Often the days are long and by night we are road weary, him so much more than me.  But despite the required hours of work, in many ways truck driving is like a working vacation; a dream to get paid to travel the county.  Sure we don't often have time to stop, but this country provides visions of wonder to behold right out the window if you only take the time to notice.  I look forward to each day eagerly awaiting what ever wonderous view lays hidden around the next bend.



Sunset from US 95 in Southern California near the Mojave Desert.
~sierra

Realities of living in a Big Truck



[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

Its been a little while since my last update.  In that time we made it home for a few days. We are now back out again and currently making the long haul across Texas on I-10 heading to Southern California.  In just over a week we went from Florida, to South Carolina, to Indiana, to Dallas, to Corpus Christi.  When we left home in the Florida panhandle it was in the 80s. Today the high in Corpus Christi was 44.  44!!!  In what dimention is it considered normal for Southern Texas to ever be that cold?

So we are heading to Southern California which will take us right through the Mojave Desert.  Naturally I am excited. We have a lot of time to get to our drop destination.  That means time to stop and take pictures.  There is something about the southwest's desolate beauty that appeals to me.  Maybe because it is so radically different from where I grew up.

This trip out we have better organization in the truck. When we were home he installed a 3600watt power inverter.  This will help power the new refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. And of course we already had the crockpot.  We lucked out at Sams and found a nice fridge on sale.  Its about 2 feet tall, like the ones you usually find in hotel rooms. Now I'm able to keep fresh veggies, milk, and enough meat for two or three meals at a time.   We can now have fresh hot coffee every morning, home cooked meals, cold drinks, and healthy snacks.  He also installed some small dresser drawers above the bed for better organization and storage.

Most of the cooking is done in the crockpot.  I found these crockpot liner bags that make cleanup a breeze.  The clean bag goes in the crockpot, then the food for cooking.  After we're done eating I wipe plates, cutlery, and stuff down with paper towels to remove food particles and grease. Then wipe everything with lysol wipes with bleach which kills germs.  Finally, I have a spray bottle with water, which I use to spray everything down and dry with a clean paper towel.  It may not be as ideal as a dish washer, but it still kills germs and is less wasteful than disposable plates, bowels, cutlery, etc...  All the trash goes in the now empty crockpot liner and throw it all away.

Of course cooking while traveling down the road is great but presents its own challenges.  You don't realize how bumpy, crooked, or otherwise imperfect our highways are until you are balanced on one foot, on top of a spring mattress, reaching on tip toe to grab something out of a cabinet; or trying to cut veggies on a small cutting board on a small slide out table and keep said veggies from bouncing to the floor at the same time.  I feel like the girl on the flying trapeze.  And did you know a bed makes a great prep area?  It has become my assembly line. Everything gets lined up on the right side of me. As I use it, it gets moved to the left side.  Strap the crockpot down and put everything away again.

When you are confined to a 73" living space three things become important. First, you have to have organization. In small spaces it doesn't take much for trash and clutter to build up.  A cluttered space is depressing and unhealthy. We try to keep everything put away. Trash gets taken out evry day. He even installed an air hose in the cab to help blow out dirt and dust.

Second, you have to make time to get out and walk around. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It can create blood clots in your legs due to lack of circulation. Being sedentary is bad for your blood pressure and your metabolism, as well as bad on your joints and nerves.  When we stop at truck stops he always parks in the very back, which gives us lots of leg stretching time when we walk back and forth. Having Missy with us helps too, because we have to walk the dog several times a day.  And on the days when we aren't pressed for time extra stops for pictures and site seeing help too.

Third, its important to have hobbies. Being cooped up in a small space with nothing to entertain your mind causes cabin fever, grumpiness, high tension, and other forms of stress. He and I spend a lot of time talking and joking with each other. We talk about the things we see as we travel, as well as future dreams and plans.  I look up places we're going to and we discuss the history and other trivia. We listen to a lot of music. We listen to the news and have discussions on what we hear. I spend time blogging. Yes, I do updates and check ins with my friends and family on facebook. I read on my kindle app. I have my drawing materials for when we are stopped.  And currently, I am again trying to teach myself to crochet.

Also important I think, is for each of us to have time to ourself. Not that easy in such small confines. He gets up in the morning and shuts the sleeper curtain allowing me time to wake up slowly. This is his time to listen to his talk radio shows.  After I wake up we spend some time together talking and planning.  We plan the trip route together, daily stops, fuel locations, and work on paperwork together. Usually some time in the afternoon I will go back in the sleeper to read, cook, rest, or listen to music with my headphones on, and let us each have some "me" time again.

I think we are managing a good balance. We manage to be considerate and respectful of each other. There's always lots of laughter and I love yous. And overall I feel this adventure has been good for us.  Adapting to a new lifestyle isn't all smiles and sunshine. But when two people work together the bumps in the road don't seem quite so big.

~sierra


The best part of waking up...


The year was 1993. I was barely 21 and getting ready for my first day at a new job and what turned out to be the start of a new career.  Mornings were hard for me.  I was lucky to get my clothes on right-side in and forward most days.  There I was standing in the tiny kitchen of my rented house trying to figure out if I had everything before walking out the door when suddenly there was a knock.

Anxiously I peeked out and there he was, all smiling and full of energy.  He came by to wish me good luck on my first day. I remember him straightening my scrub top and fixing the hem of my pants so they were properly tucked into my socks, hey it was the 90s.  He made sure I had my purse, my lunch, my keys, a big hug and loving kiss, then sent me on my way.

It is now 21 years later, mornings haven't gotten any easier, and he is still always thinking of me.

This morning I woke up and the truck wasn't moving.  He usually wakes up before me and drives for an hour or two before I wake up. Then we stop to get coffee or breakfast. But, this morning we were already stopped.  I poked my messy bed head out of the sleeper and was greeted with "Good morning my beautiful!"  A groggy, I-haven't-had-coffee-yet smile and I manage to ask why we were stopped.

There is a pass in North Carolina on I-40 heading up to Tennessee.  It is a gorge that follows the Pigeon River for 20 some miles.  He told me he didn't want me to miss it, so he stopped and waited so I could see it.  Always thinking of me.  Always taking care of me.  After getting dressed and getting a hot cup of coffee, made right here in the truck, he took me on a leisurely drive through the gorge.  As I sipped my coffee I got to see the mountain fall colors in all their magesty.  Ambers, golds, coppers,  and ruby reds, mixed in with the vibrant evergreens.  It was a gorgeous morning driving through God's garden all decked out in Christmas colors.
Morning in the mountains, 11/07/2014


And there he sat in the driver's seat pointing trees and mountains out to me, all the while with a smile of amusement on his handsome face. The road was narrow and curvy, and there weren't any scenic pull offs to stop and take pictures. While I managed to snap a few from the moving truck, the memory of this serene mountain morning will always remain.  And every day I hope I make him as happy and feel as loved as he does me.

~sierra


Red Rover, Red Rover


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


Send tumbly right over.

How many of you remember playing Red Rover in elementary school?  You would wait for the other side to call your name and then run as fast as you could to try and break through their held hands. If you broke through you went back to your team. If you didn't break through you had to join the team that called your name.

Driving down the highway in southern Colorado I finally saw a live tumbleweed.  Ok.  So technically tumblweeds are dead plants blowing across the road.  But someone forgot to tell them that. The tumbleweeds were all lined up against the fences on either side of the road.  The bunch of them just quivering in the breeze like a bunch of kids waiting to hear their name called. Suddenly, one breaks free and rushes across the road, bouncing,  zigging and zagging.  The brownish bush darting forward then jumping back, only to zoom forward again.   This one made it across.  The next one turned around and went back the way it came.  A bunch of kids playing Red Rover between the cars on the highway.



They were fun to watch.  I could just imagine them laughing and giggling as they tumbled along.  Cheering each other on.  Razzing the hesitant ones, and squeeling with delight as they played chicken with the big trucks and won.

Yes indeed, I saw my first and many live tumbleweeds in the desolate flat lands of southern Colorado.

~sierra

Truck Lag

Being sick when you're over the road sucks!

To be fair I doubt being sick at anytime is on anyone's list of top fun things. But when you are traveling it is even worse.  All you want is a dark room, a soft pillow, a comfortable bed, and lots of quiet. Instead you are in a big truck traveling 70mph down bumpy interstate roads, up and down mountains,  and often crazy traffic. Now imagine all that motion on top of four great big air pillows!  The cab of our truck sits on these, "air ride", it helps cushion the jarring from the road. But when you are laying down in the sleeper on a spring matrress it feels like being bounced around on a trampoline.  Fun.

I'm not really sure what was wrong with me.  It started sometime Sunday, but really hit me late Monday.  For a little over 24 hours I had no energy or appetite.  I didn't even want to drink anything.  At one stop before it hit full force we were walking back to the truck and I had to lean on him to help me because I suddendly felt overwhelmingly exhausted.  I wasnt sick to my stomach. No fever.  No sniffles or coughing. Just pure exhaustion. Oh and a whole lot of peeing even through I wasn't drinking anything.

He says I was probably suffering from road or truck lag. Essentially the same principle as jet lag. In the past 3 weeks I went from living on the east coast at or below sea level for most of my life, to traveling over the smokey mountains twice, across the midwest plains three times, up, over, and down the rocky mountains four times, and from the coastal pacific northwest, down through Texas, and back to the east coast. Thats a lot of time zone, climate, and altitude changes in a short amount of time; especially for someone who isn't used to it.

Thankfully today I feel almost normal. We stopped and got a long hot shower, a  hot cup of coffee, and a good meal.  Tomorrow on to new adventures.

~sierra

Living Small in Wide Open Spaces

The past couple of days we've traveled through Kansas, Wyoming, and down in to Utah. Looking out on the plains to a horizon many miles away is a lot looking out across the ocean. It's harvest time, and the lyrics "amber waves of grain" come to life before my eyes. Then later, some nearly 9000 feet above sea level in Wyoming looking out from the top of a mountain and seeing the beauty of the world below spread out in
uncountable miles of glorious beauty was a moment I will never forget.





Born and raised in Florida I am used to trees hugging the roads. You can't see too far off in the distance unless you're at the beach. Out in the midwest with rolling hills, farm land, and mountains there is lots of wide open spaces in every direction. I imagine due to the more airid climate and high winds trees don't grow nearly as tall and they tend to be more spaced out; oasises of green nestled in fields of gold. The open space is refreshing, especially as I gaze out from behind the glass of our International 73" sleeper.

While it is wide open spaces on the outside, inside we are learning to live in a total space that is about half the size of our bedroom back home. Clutter adds up quickly if you're not careful. Having such limited space makes you really think and prioritize all your "stuff". It is more important than ever to have a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. Clothes are rolled, not folded, to save space. Each category of clothing is in its own bag to keep everything from getting jumbled up. Plastic store bags, the kind you get from the grocery store or walmart, become small trash bags that are thrown away daily. We took the top bunk out to allow more head room when standing. It makes the sleeper feel less crowded. In the relatively near future he plans to build some small cabinets snd shelves with netting to better utilize the verticle space. Especially since we will remove one of the small cabinets on the floor to put in a refrigerator and microwave.

Of course the mind needs a personal space to be cluttered, messy orgaization. The cubbies above the driver and passenger seats are for each of us to keep how ever we wish. While I straighten up the sleeper and cab daily and keep on top of any trash or clutter, his cubbie is left alone. That is his personal, hands off space. The same with the cubbie on my side. It gives us each a sence of personal space in such small confinement. Being in such close quarters basically 24/7 it's important to have that little bit of personal space no matter how small or perceived.

I am looking forward to both the interior and exterior upgrades to our extremely mobile and tiny home. And I am still beyond excited about seeing this amazing country.

~sierra

posted from Bloggeroid

Beyond Pictures

It was early morning, the sun barely in the sky. As we came around the curve and up over the hill, I couldn't believe my eyes. Through the mist and rain, clouds rested against the mountain sides. The wind rustled the multi-colored leaves and the clouds stretched like pulled cotton clinging to the tree tops. Down into a valley another curve in the road was balanced between a steep drop to our right and sheer rock cliffs to our left. Every few yards cool mountain water raced from rock creavaces cascading onto an old railcar resting on its iron tracks which hugged the rugged curves of this Tennessee mountain.

And there was no place to pull over to capture this picturesque scene which seemed straight from some old Hollywood movie. Even if there had been the slanting rain would have made digital capture near impossible. But the memory will forever be burned in my mind.

And of course his smile at watching my excitement and reactions.

Breath caught finally and conversation ensued. We were going by Lookout Mountain, the top of which allows a spectacular view over multiple states. I vaguely remember going with my parents when I was young, 9 or 10 maybe. The last time he was there was with grandparents when he was around 13.

....

We both visited Lookout Mountain as kids at the same time! Was he that rambuctious boy my parents scowled at? We'll never know, but it makes my heart race to think about the many near misses we had through the years. The almost meeting here or there. We have many of those, and today was the discovery of yet another.

I can't wait to see what new adventures every tomorrow brings.

~sierra
posted from Bloggeroid

New Adventures


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


Seventy three inches. That is the total length of our new "home."

Along with new living space I am also learning a whole new language and lifestyle. Being on the road is a culture unto itself. Lifestyle changes, storage challenges for small living, CB radio lingo, trucker jargon, and more are all part of this modern-day gypsy lifestyle. I have only been on the truck a few days and I have learned to differentiate between different truck models and styles even from a distance, the names of different truck parts, and experienced a few of the woes of being mobile. Overall it has been a good, if somewhat slow start.

We've been stuck in Atlanta for a couple days. While being parked in a truck stop over the weekend isnt terribly exciting, its given he and I a chance to talk about plans, places, dreams, and adjust to being in such close confines and around each other essentially 24/7. I am happy to say all is well in that department, great even.

Seventy three inches isn't a whole lot of space, and I was worried I packed too much. However, I got most of our belongings all put away and surprised there is still room for more. Even the twin mattress feels comfy and roomy with the both of us on it. For now we just have sheets and a sleeping bag until I find a comforter set I like. When we first started talking about doing this I teased him about putting kitty paw prints all over his truck. Guess what? He decorated the truck with little kitty cat paw prints decals for me!







We are in Atlanta for a few more hours then we begin a trek across country to Denver and then Salt Lake City. He's already trying to plan a route that will take us by some huge sunflower fields for me to see. Regardless of which way we go, I am just excited to finally be able to see more of the country and have a great partner to experience it all with me.

~sierra
posted from Bloggeroid