Sometimes Those Millions of Baby Spiders Come in Handy

You might be wondering about bugs. I did too. I’m not a big fan of bugs. Seattle is awesome and amazing for many reasons, not the least of which is its general lack of insects. Camping tends to bring to mind the opposite. That is, all the insects.

But how often do you really find bugs in your car? Likely not as often as you find bugs in your house and you sleep there every night.

What I’m saying is that you have probably found a mosquito or a spider or a fly or something in your car at least once in your lifetime and once is way too many times.

Today I found a spider web in the RV. But no spider. WHERE WAS THE SPIDER? Obviously hiding in wait for me to sleep so he could jump on my face.

I looked everywhere, but no spider. So I knocked down the web and traveled on. As I was driving, I saw a teeny tiny spider crawling across my dashboard. Clearly, the only option available to me was to flail about like a crazy person. Fortunately, I was driving through a little town at 25 miles an hour and could pull off into a parking lot before the spider was able to jump on my face and murder me.

So I killed the teeny tiny spider. Problem solved. Or was it? Was that the spider that spun the web? Or was that one of the millions of spider babies that the huge (yet somehow hidden) mama spider left behind in strategic and well-hidden locations?

I read Charlotte’s Web. I know about the millions of spider babies.

In the end though, the spider mama outsmarted me, as I haven’t seen another spider baby or web. But I am ever vigilant!

My RV has lots of window screens. I even have magnetic screens I can put on the front windows. On the west coast, this set up is ideal for letting in the summer breeze and keeping out the mosquitoes. After staying in the mall parking lot, several RV parks, the beach, a mountain lake, and my sister’s driveway, I remained bug-free. (Other than the millions of hidden spider babies.)

And then I went to the Irvine suburbs.

The deceptive peaceful tranquility masks the hidden underbelly of a killer ant invasion!

OK, maybe just regular ants. But still.

I drove over to hang out with some friends and spent the night in my friend’s guest room. When I went out to my RV in the morning, a long line of determined ants had recreated the two roads diverged in a yellow wood poem. Only instead of a yellow wood, it was my ceiling.

Ant spray, poison, and a good hosing off and the ants were mostly gone, but I still saw one every so often. You know how sometimes, you feel something and you think, ack! a bug! But then you look and it’s just your hair or a leaf or the wind? Well, that’s what kept happening to me except every time  I looked, it was an ant!

This continued while I was slept. Or tried to sleep. Every hour or so, I’d jolt awake and brush at my arm, and think, surely just my imagination. But no.  Ant.


A digital memory of the ant-filled night

I did eventually eradicate the ants entirely. Or possibly the millions of baby spiders ate them.


In Which I Steal My Sister’s Electricity and Let My 9 Year Old Niece Sing About Getting Drunk and Setting Things On Fire

I’ve been camping in a driveway. One of the awesome things about the Roadtrek 170 is that since it fits in a normal parking space, I can just stop, turn on the emergency brake, and suddenly I’m camping.

The downside to camping in a driveway is that everything’s at an angle.

This makes, for instance, sleeping, a little difficult. And apparently you’re really supposed to keep RVs level for reasons other than just it’s best if your house doesn’t tilt, like somehow the refrigerator doesn’t get cold correctly.

I have these leveling blocks that go under your tires, so things are more level now. Just not entirely level. Levelish.

Here’s a cool thing: I can plug my RV right into my sister’s house and use up all her electricity for my air conditioning! Who knew you could just plug an RV into an outlet! (I mean, I guess lots of people knew, but I did not.)

My nine year old niece was super excited about my RV. When I first told my sister I was thinking of getting one, she said, “oh Sofia has been super obsessed with RVs lately!” As nine year olds can be. Sofia kept texting me as I was driving down from Seattle. “When is the RV coming here?”


She camped out in the driveway with me overnight. And spent most of her time in it doing stuff like this.

Who knew my RV could be the set of a music video. (Maybe a 9 year old shouldn’t be singing “I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver” or be reinacting a video that features copious amounts of alcohol with a pill chaser. But then, I’m the aunt that brought her to Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air on New Year’s eve at midnight for caviar and filet mignon and let her drink 9 shirley temples, so I’m not really known as the strict one.)

When I was a kid, both sets of grandparents had campers of one form or another and when we would visit, the cousins would hang out inside and play cards. Both sets of cousins. Both sets of grandparents. If you don’t know what to get your child or niece or nephew for Christmas, have I got a great idea for you!

Camper and cousinsMy sister (far left) and me (far right) with cousins. In my grandparents’ camper.

RV Service

All’s Well That Ends Well

Something happened. I didn’t really talk about it because I didn’t want to worry anyone and I figured it would all work out. And it did.

But not long into my drive, when I encountered the first somewhat steep downhill grade, the RV started shaking uncontrollably and even though I was gripping the steeling wheel as hard as possible with both hands, I could barely hang on.

Since I was driving basically a house, it felt and sounded like an earthquake. The entire RV was shaking so hard that everything was falling over and banging against each other. Even though I was going fairly slowly, was in 3rd gear, and was in tow mode (the grade was about 6%), I slowed down even further and went into second gear for the next hill. (Since I was in the middle of a mountain range, avoiding hills was not really an option.) I lightly tapped the brakes. Uncontrollable shaking.

It was pretty terrifying.

In addition to being scared out of my mind, I was also super irritated because I asked specifically about the tires and brakes before I bought the RV. Several times. My continued questions about the quality of the tire and brakes and how those might impact my safety got really annoying for the RV sales and technical staff. But the answer was really important to me. Mostly because I wanted to live.

Anyway, I was fine on flat roads, so I just went as slowly as I could on downhill slopes (when you’re in second gear going 25 mph on the freeway, you get lots of mean looks even when you’re in the slow truck lane, but I decided to choose mean looks over dying).

Once I got to my sister’s house in southern California, I brought the RV into a local mechanic. Who told me that the brake rotors were warped. And that while the tires looked fine from the outside, the side of the tires pointed inward were completely bald.

Well, that explains the whole terrified I’m going to die while going down hills thing, I guess.

$1,500 later and I had sparkly new tires and unwarped brake rotors. Hurray for money and safety!

The happy ending is that when I later came across signs like this:

Steep Grades


The downhill grade was terror-free. No shaking or hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life.

The other happy ending is that I sent the RV dealership an email with photos of the tires and a copy of the receipt and they sent me a check for the entire amount. I’m not sure if I should be grateful they reimbursed me when they could have told me used cars are “as is” or irritated they bought my silence for nearing killing me for only $1,500. I’m choosing to go with the first one.


No Reservations

It’s July. In California. It’s probably a good idea to make reservations. But that’s just a level of commitment I’m not ready for. I stopped in San Luis Obispo for a work meeting and then headed down the coast towards Los Angeles. But where to stay the night?

Here’s what you end up with when you don’t plan ahead.

Lake Camping


I drove up the mountain road towards the lake and pulled up to the entrance. The guy in the booth said I should just drive around and pick a spot I liked then drive back and tell them the number. I asked what he recommended that would be pretty and relaxing. He got out a map and studied it. And then he got a red pen and circled the spaces he liked. “Don’t get this one. It has problems.”

Map in hand, I drove around. And ended up here.

Lake Camping

The only problem with parking on a cliff is that no matter how many times you check the emergency brake, you’re pretty sure you’re about to roll right off into the water. (I did not roll off the cliff into the water.)

I had heard (er, read on the internet) that Carpinteria Beach had great RV camping, so the next day on a whim, I drove on over. I had also heard that the reservation window opens six months in advance, and all the spots are snapped up within ten minutes.

I drove up to the window. “Today is your lucky day!” said the woman at the booth. “We just had a cancellation not more than 5 minutes ago!” The way it works (other than driving up at 2pm right when someone cancels) is that at 9am, you put your name into a lottery. They process the cancellations and then call out names. I guess I should have played the real lottery because I stayed three nights (I didn’t try my luck for a fourth).

Carpenteria Beach

In the morning, I looked out my window to these guys:

Carpenteria Seals

The second and third nights, I had spots without hookups, so I was really roughing it. I had to have dinner here:


Can you imagine?

I found this little coffee shop downtown and camped out there for a while to work.

Coffee and wifi

Totally coincidentally, some friends of mine were in Carpinteria on vacation so we met up for brunch. In case you all thought I was becoming a recluse and shunning people and forgetting how to use speech and stuff.