Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends and Family! We’re not super big on the holiday ourselves (lucky Jim!) but are having a wonderful Tuesday, just the same. The day started with Jim making his famous eggs-in-the-hole breakfast this morning in our new “long-term” temporary stay-over here at the Green Acres RV Park in Redding, California. The theme this year has been to focus more on our long term goals and not “travel” nearly as much to make the most of our time before actually settling down at the end of the summer. So, for the next 30 days, we’ll be sitting here in beautiful, outdoor trail-filled Redding with unlimited electricity, water and WiFi. It’s the little things on the road that make you realize how different this lifestyle really is; most people don’t ever have to think about how they’re going to charge their phone, flush a toilet, or take a shower every day, but for us, having these things not factored into our daily time scheduling is a welcomed treat. This month-long stay will be the longest we’ve had at an RV park yet and we’re looking forward to getting a lot done.
We pulled into this beautiful mountain town Sunday after making our way north from Santa Clara, where our Amazing Race casting call audition took place. Finally come and gone, Saturday’s audition was an experience, to say the least! The day started in Milpitas, a town roughly 8 miles away where we had been boondocking for the past week. As soon as the alarm clock went off, we hit the road in our pj’s and hopped on Saturday morning’s empty freeway for the quick drive into the city. We got totally lucky with a parking spot less than a block away from the convention center where we were to meet for the audition (good thing we came early!). Once curbside we quickly ate breakfast and immediately started getting ready for the big day we had been looking forward to for two weeks. Our casting call was set for 10:30am with very specific instructions to NOT come early. We got there at 10 and were, of course, surrounded by lines of hundreds of people. Not to be discouraged, we quickly learned that most of these people were just lined up to enter the Travel & Adventure Show, the carrot on a stick all 1600 casting call auditioners were intended to explore before and after their on-camera moment. We checked in, got our wristbands, and entered the T&A Show (tee-hee), where we were immediately met with the Amazing Race team check-in booth and learned we were Team #10 for the day – perfect! We didn’t have to wait long – it seems they’ve figured out how to streamline the process and make it much less painful for the people auditioning than it has been in the past as a free-for-all. We met a great couple in front of us while waiting for our time to go on and immediately warmed up to them. She’s a police officer and he’s a fireman, she’s a runner and he’s a triathlete, and, like us, they were high school sweethearts separated by college before being reconnected and married years later. We suddenly realized what we’d known all along: we weren’t the only ones here with a worthy tale!
As we got closer to the front of the line, we could finally see in the door that we had been watching fly open and closed to make way for the wide-eyed couples heading into the unknown. They had rented out the entire ballroom of the convention center for the screening, so when we made our way across the threshold and into the room, we were amazed at the operation going on before us. The perimeter of the ballroom had a full-blown camera station set up with what looked like half a dozen small scale tv production rooms. Every station had a team of two show-hopefuls standing under a boom mic, being lit up from every angle by the massive flood lights. CBS interviewers asked questions to the teams and they answered however they thought was best to catch someone’s attention that would be scrolling through literally thousands of these videos. We found out later that the experience varied quite a bit from camera crew to camera crew, and that some teams were told they had a minute to say whatever they wanted to about why they would be perfect for the show while other teams, like us, were asked a very specific set of questions. All in all, it was an absolute blur and neither of us can be sure what we said. It was so fast, in fact that while walking away we realized that we never even got to bring up the fact that we had dated half a lifetime ago – something we thought was a highlight among the many parts of our story that we’re so blessed to include. All in all, we got to open with the fact that we live in an RV named Bertha (arguably the most unique/unusual/catching aspect we think separates us from the pack), and that we have both traveled and experienced a seemingly unreal number of experiences from scuba diving in Hawaii to finishing Ironman Florida together, all in our newlywed first year of marriage. Will it be enough? Honestly, we aren’t real hopeful. We’d love to say that we nailed everything and we’re certain “they have to pick us!” but that’s just unfortunately not the case. We’re not out, though, and if we’re looking for a silver lining, (other than actually getting to meet Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race who called us “fit”, ha!) it’s that we’ve been making a video to audition for this thing for a year now and have been reinspired to get that done this week and submit it during casting season. Jim’s been working on putting various video clips of our adventures together for it and we just need to do some final editing and some voice over and interview style additions. Time consuming, but our current RV park situation is perfect for getting this done this week. Our blog followers will of course be the first to see the video, and the plan now is to have a link to it in our next update (Feb 21)!
Once that crazy audition was over and we were finally able to proceed north, we hit the road and got out of Santa Clara. It was a great experience, truly, but we were ready to settle into an RV park as we had been so looking forward to after juggling with more Bertha electric problems (yes, they continue…). Redding, California was the target set for Stu, our trusty Australian accented GPS, and along the way Bertha would hit a rather literal milestone: she turned over 50,000 miles! It’s a small celebration, no doubt, but to think that she only had 33k on her when we bought her 14 months ago is kind of a big deal to us. Aside from the frustrations of the electric problems of the house, Bertha’s ability to be a functional vehicle is flawless and she’s safely carried us more than 1200 miles a month since the day we bought her. [Note: for those concerned with the odometer picture (aka “parents”), Jim was driving while Heather took the picture!]
We boondocked one night in Willows, CA, a perfect halfway point for our drive that had a Walmart conveniently located just off of the Interstate. After the long day, we hopped into bed early and watched the movie Sully before turning the lights off (great movie, if you haven’t seen it! It will surely give you new perspective on the events of January 15th, 2009). Waking up Sunday morning, we turned the generator on for the last time in many weeks to come and smiled at the thought of endless hot showers, electricity, water, and space heaters. It was a quick 90 minute drive from Walmart to the Redding Civic Auditorium, our midday stop along the Sacramento River that was to be our staging grounds for a glorious bike ride and run. We rode our bikes up the tree-lined highway 299. The highway had big, safe bike lanes and the hilly terrain made for a wonderful training ride. The wide shoulders eventually ended as we got a few miles out of town, so we turned back and ended up with a nice 20 miler full of challenging hills. Once back home, we put the bikes up in the trailer and strapped on our running shoes to shake our legs out and snap some pics of the Sundial Bridge that soared high above the rushing, currently flooded Sacramento River. We ran for about a half hour and then took our last overly water conserving showers before eating dinner and finding a Lowe’s to sleep at before heading to the RV park first thing in the morning.
Monday morning was simply wonderful, getting up, eating a quick cereal breakfast and then driving directly to our new home for a month and getting all plugged in and set up. Jim headed to the library to get his coaching business work completed while Heather worked with unlimited power and resources back in Bertha, getting her cleaned head to toe as only she can while taking care of laundry and all the other fun adulting tasks that our Mondays call for. We had another delicious Heather-made dinner before Jim cleaned up the kitchen and we headed back to bed for some togetherness reading time.
Today was the last good weather day on the weekly forecast so Jim took the opportunity to log some miles in the saddle while Heather worked her Tuesday schedule. This town of Redding is turning out to be quite the perfect stop for us to spend a month, as it’s full of trails to run and bike and the roads are all seemingly super bike-friendly. When Jim came back from his quick ride through the hills, we had homemade pizza for lunch before trading places; Heather headed out for a magnificent run in the sunshine followed by some yoga while Jim enjoyed the workable Bertha conditions inside.
All in all just a wonderful week full of lots of together time, unique experiences, and lots of productivity. We hope you all have had a perfect week and a love-filled Valentine’s Day, too!
Total RV Trip Miles: 14,788.7