So we are sitting in Laredo, TX waiting to cross the border in the morning. We decided to take a couple of days to finally take care of some housekeeping. It seems like a long time since I last wrote but in reality it has been just about a week. We’ve done a lot and covered a lot of ground. We’ve drove along the Gulf Coast, visited New Orleans and spent way more time than we thought we would in Texas. As we’ve been preparing to enter Mexico we have had some time to reflect on our journey across the US and all the places we’ve seen and the people we have met. It’s been an epic journey so far and we are only half way there. The adventure is just beginning.
Last weekend we were in New Orleans. We spent the night outside of the city in a state park and headed in the morning. We had found on the internet a parking lot where you could park an RV overnight for $25 as opposed to the French Quarter RV Resort, which wanted $100 a night. While we rave about Google Maps usually, this was an occasion when it failed us. The GPS routed us through the French Quarter- which was a navigational nightmare in the bus. By the time we had arrived Trevor was feeling pretty done with the city. However, shortly after we parked the folks in the RV parked next to us came over to check out the bus. And then not long after that another couple came over who had rolled up in a 1984 Bluebird Wanderlodge. Soon we were all hanging out, getting know each other, touring everyone’s bus.
This Wanderlodge was amazing. It was a motorcoach built on a school bus chassis with all the bells and whistles back in the day. It had details like four telephones on it. Plus, it was a beautiful piece of vintage roadtripping in amazing condition. I wish I had gotten photos of the interior but unfortunately I was not so lucky. I did get a photo of the exterior which was pretty cool too.
We spent a couple of hours just hanging out where we parked and were generally feeling much better about things so we re-evaluated our plan to just spend a few hours in the city and decided to stay the night. So off we headed to explore the French Quarter. The architecture there was stunning and I love the real gas lamps that are everywhere.
We got a New Orleans sampler for lunch of red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, and something else I can’t remember. But it was all amazing. We bought some art from Jackson Square to hang in the bus. And pretty much just played tourist for the afternoon. Later we went to dinner and ate some more traditional New Orleans food- I got crawfish. We walked back along Bourbon St (at about 7 PM so nothing was really happening) and I finally got the beignets I had been looking for. All and all a great day but I don’t think I would want to spend all too much time there. It is a little too seedy for me to enjoy long term. But the food- to die for.
We got up early the next morning and did a big push to get in to Texas. We did what I think is the longest push we have done and made it all the way across Louisiana into Texas almost to Houston that day. We camped that night on a reservation and headed towards Austin the following day.
I had reached out via email to some folks in doing Natural Building in Austin and was thrilled with the response I got. The guys Brad and Aaron at Earthbound Builder Collective were kind enough to take some time to arrange for us to check out a build being done by Kendra and John of Clay, Sand, Straw.
The natural building scene in Austin is very different from the other places we have visited. Kendra and John are building a 2,000 sq ft home that at first glance you would never guess was cob. You don’t see any round walls and it doesn’t on any way remind you of a hobbit hole. But the walls are three feet thick and the timbers are all sustainably harvested locally. The results are stunning. While very different than what we will be building it was great to check out some established builders working to normalize natural building here in the states. We enjoyed a great afternoon exploring their build site and getting inspired.
Aaron invited us to dinner at his place and let us park the bus outside for the night. We had a great evening hanging out with his family and chatting with him and Brad about the mission of their company. Their goal is to normalize natural building so that people who finish a natural building apprenticeship can actually get employed as builders when they are through. It’s quite a challenge they’ve taken on but from the little we saw Austin seems the place to do it.
The next day we met up with a girl Dani who happens to be originally from RI that we had met on Ometepe. She works with a touring theatre company and happened to be in Austin at the same time we were. She was renting a Tumbleweed tiny home on wheels so we went by and checked out her space. We had a great afternoon comparing tiny spaces and just catching up.
After a couple of days in one spot we had the urge to get some miles in so we drove to Blanco, TX about half way between Austin and San Antonio. We got some Texas BBQ and explored the tiny historic district before checking in to a state park there for the night. Our bus was quite the attraction there and we had all the retired fulltime RVers popping up with tons of questions. We were even given some Gideon Bibles.
The next day we did our last big drive in the US through scrub land and oil country on to Laredo. We arrived here Friday knowing we wanted to spend a couple of days relaxing and cleaning before we crossed the border. So here we are.
The bus is cleaner and more organized than its been so far. We hung our new art work and took care of all the little details we’ve been meaning to do to make the space work better. Mileages wise we are over the half way mark and we haven’t even crossed a border yet. While I’ve driven across the US before this time we really took the time to see the country we passed through and how diverse it really is. When we left RI we were out running the snow and the cold. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 90 degrees here. We’ve driven through the Appalachians and along the Gulf Coast. Strangers have welcomed us into there homes and shared meals with us. There’s been such wonderful inspiration from all the old and new friends who we’ve met up with along the way. We are truly blessed to be able to take our time on this journey and really appreciate the diversity there is in this beautiful country. Tomorrow we cross the border and we get to continue to see what the rest of the world has to offer. I look forward to the real adventure starting and the new experiences this will bring for us. Next post will be from Mexico.