Day Fifty-seven Going back to the old 'hood was a bad idea!! We got our first knock last night. It extra sucked too, because I was so exhausted – like one of those days where every cell in your body is just done. I was overly tired by the time we settled in at 8 pm. Kate fell right asleep but I was struggling. Right when I finally drifted off around 11 pm, I was startled awake by a VERY loud pounding on the window along with yelling, “Harris County Sherriff, Open up. We need to talk to you" repeatedly.
I knew this night would come, but ugh, really?
I had to argue with them to get their flashlights out of the crack in the Reflectix so I could see if they were actually officers. I told them several times that their lights were blinding me and I need to see who they are before I open. They finally did. I opened the window and they said that there were reports of a suspicious looking vehicle. I asked how it was suspicious when we were parked; not even near anyone’s house, and not doing anything. They said, "It’s unfamiliar."
Kate didn’t even stay awake long enough to hear the whole conversation, but I was up for hours afterwards. Thanks, fight-or-flight system.
In the morning, we switched our service provider from Verizon to T-Moblie, did some printing and scanning at Staples, then went to the Houston Downtown Aquarium. We saw some beautiful creatures and rode a couple of rides.
Day Fifty-eight We asked the front desk person at the Y if we could stay there (it’s a different Y from before) last night. It was like the other Y, where they had a large playing field behind the building so we parked there, way off the main road and away from the front parking lot. What we didn’t know until 12 am- and then again at 3 am- is that it’s also near a train track. Other than two trains, it was a dark, quiet, peaceful night.
We headed to Rosenberg- a cute little town! We went to the police station to ask if we could stay tonight. The dispatcher was very nice and asked if we needed hookups. We said we didn’t so she gave us the location where we could legally stealth park in town. I asked if they wanted my driver’s license or tag number and she said they didn’t need it. Later a police officer waved at us as we were driving in town. I’m not sure if she told officers about our conversation or he was just a friendly cop that waves at people. It was nice, either way.
We spent time at the park, including reading a chapter of The Swiss Family Robinson in a beautiful meadow. Then, we did some shopping for restocking the necessities. It was so great to actually have working wifi with our new T-Mobile Mi-Fi- and get caught up on some things that we were behind on due to slow internet from the other service provider.
Later in the evening, we went back to the park. As I was sitting on the bench listening to the kids’ laughter and watching them all play, I thought to myself, “It’s almost 7 pm and I’m at a park enjoying myself. I’m not in xyz situation doing xyz stuff. I have my life back.” (There is a lot of backstory and emotional weight to that, but I will leave out the details to protect the guilty. At least for now.)
Today was also a turning point for Kate. Once we got back home (to our van, Eliza) for the evening, she finally expressed some anger. Finally!! Anger is good. Anger is a necessary part of the healing process.
Day Fifty-nine The overnight low last night was 75 degrees, so we were a bit uncomfortable. Around 1 am, I turned the van and the a/c on for a bit. Otherwise, we were comfortable and peaceful. The dispatcher was right- we would be safe in that space.
We headed out on our normal morning routine to find a public trash can and cup of coffee. (I gave up that slllllooooowwwww 12-volt coffee maker weeks ago.)
In keeping with history, my two days off during the week were rainy and gloomy. Why can’t my video call days be on rainy days and my days off be sunny days? Doing videos in a van when it’s 80 + degrees outside is not pleasant. And there isn't always something else fun or educational to do on those wet, dreary days.
We really like Rosenberg, but their list of family-friendly indoor activities is small. Plus, we didn't want to over-stay our welcome, so we headed on.
We landed in Wharton, Texas, a cute little town with a couple of nice parks. We went to the police department. The dispatcher had us speak with the Lieutenant regarding places to stay. He directed us to Love’s. Not really what we wanted, but hey, it’s not our town. He was really nice, though. He invited us into his office, and gave Katelyn an Honorary Officer badge and a coupon for a free McDonald’s soft serve.
Katelyn thought to ask a question from a pre-covid school assignment, “What do like the least about being a police officer?” He took the time to answer her. But not in an age-appropriate way. Let’s just say, there are down sides to being a police office and leave it at that.
The Love’s Travel Stop that the lieutenant recommended was five miles in the opposite direction of where we were headed, so we keep traveling east. We found another Love’s about 30 miles away and parked for the night.
Day Sixty While the weather was cool again last night, the noise was a bit much. Not only did we have the truckers, but the highway runs alongside a train track. This makes me appreciate the good nights of sleep even more!
We headed into Victoria, which ended up being a great mid-size town. We arrived early, just as the sun was coming up, and noticed a Walmart parking lot with a spattering of travel vehicles and decided that would be tonight’s spot.
With a population of 67 thousand, it was too large to bother the police department and too small for mico-policing. Perfect for van dwelling!
We went to Riverside Park, which is an impressively large, well kept area with golf, a duck pond, play structures and pic-nic tables. Kate read Pilgrim’s Progress while I had a few zoom calls. And, yay- a rainy day! Finally, a day that’s appropriate for indoor van living
Day Sixty-one 3/31/2021, for reference. This Walmart does NOT have those annoying tinny loud speakers blasting notices about mask wearing or playing twangy country music! How nice! The overnight low, however, was 72 again, so sleeping was once again a struggle. I ended up turning on the van – and the a/c, full blast - for about an hour to get it nice and chilly inside.
In the morning, we found coffee then headed over to Staples for more work-related scanning and printing.
Day Sixty-two We met Kate's older sister (Mel's older daughter) in Corpus Christi for a beach vacay! It was nice to connect with her again after all of this covid stuff. She is not a vanlifer, so she booked a room at a snazzy hotel. Kate and I stayed in the hotel parking lot.
Day Sixty-three We enjoyed North Beach (with beach front parking!) and toured the USS Lexington.
Single mom and kiddo set out on a nomad, van life, roadschooling lifestyle. Watch the beginner diy van conversion, first time homeschooling, first time build, first time on the road experiences, newbie family van life adventures unfold.
We will share van life travels and tips to encourage other people to get out and explore the open road.