Two Days in San Francisco – RV Living

I’ve been in San Francisco for two days. I’ve been doing a lot of walking. Like miles and miles and hours and hours of walking to the point of exhaustion. Yet, I’ve only explored a fraction of the city covering the top left quarter including Golden Gate Park, The Presidio, the Castro neighborhood, and areas in between. Oddly, I’ve avoided the waterfront areas having not seen the Western beaches, the Golden Gate bridge (though I was only a mile away), and downtown (really anything east of Van Ness Ave).

The Avenues is where I’m parked, mostly residential area. There’s a bustling Asian neighborhood on Irving Street running parallel to Golden Gate Park. I’ve heard there’s a Chinatown and Japantown also. Man, there’s a lot of Asians here. More Asians than I ever imagined any US city having. It’s jarring to be in a train car and notice there’s always more Asians than anyone else. But I should have known considering how close we are to Asia.

Some stray observations:

– There are indeed a lot of gay folks in SF especially in the Castro. A lot of hand holding between men that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I lived in Orlando for several months, supposedly the second most gay city in the US, but it’s not even close.
– SF is all about money. I’ve seen more Porsche cars here than anywhere else
– Parking is horrendous. I’ve spent the majority of my time just spying out the possible parking places.
– 24 Hour Fitness sucks. They refused to give me a guest pass because I’m not “local”. I guess this prevents free loading parasites who use the gym and pay nothing. Then again, the vast majority of gym members don’t actually go to the gym, and there’s a higher likelihood I would join if I had the guest pass rather than being rejected. I mean really, what the hell.
– RV Living in SF is really nice. The weather is absolutely perfect. I actually went to sleep and woke up feeling cold. And it’s like this year round.
– RV Living in SF is really bad. Parking is scarce. There’s a good number of hills. Sprint 4G is surprisingly really poor. Dump sites and good mechanics are far away.
– I meet Tynan over tea, his blog originally planted the seed of buying my Rialta motorhome as well as a dozen others. Having looked at his mug for years on his website, I didn’t originally recognize him with his overgrown beard and hair. After meeting both Tynan and Tom, I feel motivated to really kick some butt and wonder why aren’t I doing just as well as them. But I know why, and I know I can and will.
– Portland and SF both have this “honor” system of public transit. In Portland, you’re suppose to buy a transit card yet there’s no scanners on their metro trains. Likewise, there’s a scanner on the SF trains, but you could just board without scanning.  For example, I purchased the SF “City Pass” which gives me free use of the public transit, but I don’t have anything to swipe or scan. Compare this honor system to Boston’s Greenline streetcars where they only opened the front door by the conductor for entry/exit to make sure everyone paid (and caused considerable delay).
– SF Citypass costs $70 for 7 days allowing entry to top attractions. I’ll probably spend my weekdays doing these tourist traps.
– After being robbed, I’m free of a lot of junk. I still wish I had my dress shoes, my student id cards, and my external hard drive. But I don’t really “need” them right now. I can carry (and have been) almost everything in my Aeronaut backpack:

  • – Clothing (including super light weight winter coat and rain/wind shell)
  • – Laptop
  • – Kindle
  • – Digital Camera
  • – Flipflops
  • – Barefeet shoes / regular shoes
  • – Chargers
  • – VOIP Phone for Work

I don’t take all my clothes around with me, but if anyone dares rob me again, they won’t find much. If I do keep this RV, I’ve been thinking about adding metal pieces to my cabinets so I can put a padlock on them. Short of picking the lock or hammering the compartment in, that should keep everything safe and a lot cheaper than buying and welding a safe.

– The biggest inconvenience is lack of shower and using the bathroom. I haven’t showered since I left Oregon on Friday. I wanted my gym pass so I could shower but I might just stay at a hostel instead and also make friends along the way. I don’t mind pissing in the RV, but I’ve yet to shit in it and would prefer to keep it that way. So far so good. Unfortunately, I’m parked in a pretty isolated area. I’ll probably be moving soon.

– I got a wheel alignment on the way to SF since the RV was dragging to the right and was causing uneven wear on the tires. I might be getting new tires this week too though.

– I’ve been getting better gas mileage in the 16-18 range. Perhaps because I’m driving slower, new transmission, wheel alignment, and/or going up and down mountains.

– SF is huge. After Chicago, I was just used to smaller metro areas. Denver, Portland, and Seattle. They’re large but nowhere in comparison to SF metro area. I thought Berkeley was initially SF. It’s also quite beautiful here from the homes to the hills and the fog.

– I sense a partial change in identity and also how others are reacting to me. Which is strange considering I haven’t really done anything beyond drive a RV around. In a sense, I guess I completed a vision I had for several years now. I lived up to my word. Now, I can conquer other goals.

Go to Seattle, Dance with Europeans

I’m on the road again, sort of.

I’m writing from Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle. I’ve been here two nights and couchsurfing this weekend.

Meanwhile, the RV transmission is getting rebuilt and should have the RV back in working order next week. Also, I filed an insurance personal lost claim so hopefully I’ll get some cash for my stolen items from two weeks ago.

The past few weeks, I’ve been staying with some good friends in Corvallis and exploring the beautiful Oregon country side. But, I’m getting antsy to leave the North West especially before the bad weather kicks in.

Last weekend, I was in Portland via Greyhound. The Farmer’s Market there is incredible as well as the Powell Bookstore, the largest independent bookstore in the world.

I also meet up with Tom from Tom’s Adventure, a former Rialta RV traveler, globe trekker, and successful internet entrepreneur. It felt really good to be able to talk to someone else about RVing and business. Funny enough, I felt like selling the RV afterwards though because of how nice it is to be in a house.

So, I’m in Seattle. My primary reason for going here was to buy a new backpack or luggage bag at the Tom Bihn store/factory. The only brick and mortar place possible to buy these amazing bags which are handmade in the US. The place is rather small and located in an industrial block penned in with machine shops and warehouses. In the background, I could see rows of sewing machines with old Asian ladies working away. I think I saw Tom Bihn himself possibly moving into an office or maybe just the manager.

I ended up buying the Aeronaut, their largest luggage bag that also works as a shoulder duffle bag and backpack. I also really liked the Synapse which is the only bag Tynan uses. It’s probably the lightest and most versatile daypack, but I still have a messenger bag and need something with more volume and flat space for dress clothing. The aeronaut is incredibly light and doesn’t look all that special. But it has backpack straps that can be zipped away. Almost all the bags they have can be enlarged or compacted in size which was pretty cool. My goal is to be able to live with just the Aeronaut and a daypack.

I’ve never stayed in a hostel before, but this Green Tortoise I’m pretty sure is the nicest hostel in the US. There are individual bathrooms, free breakfast, and a really great location. All of it is incredibly clean, safe, and nice. There’s a lounge area with computers and a television where people can eat and hang out although most people are just glued to their laptops. There’s mostly a mix of Europeans, Koreans, and a few Americans here. My only complaint is probably the beds are rather small.

Last night, I went out with a group of Europeans, an Australian, and a few Americans to standup comedy and a few local bars. It was a fun, drunken night. Someone kept the wheels greased with shots and drinks so I was pretty happy and got to dance with an Aussie. Hostels are a great way to meet some Europeans in the US.

I’ll be couchsurfing the rest of the weekend and then going back to my friend’s on Sunday. My host is busy both Fri and Sat nights though so I’ll be left to my own devices again.

With the RV fixed next week, I’ll have to decide whether I’m selling the RV or keep traveling. Based on the poll votes so far, the majority want me to stay in the RV forever. If so, I would need a number of upgrades. First, a swamp cooler could make summers in the RV livable in a low humility environment. A swamp cooler pulls in the dry, hot air outside and pushes it through a water sponge. The water evaporation cools the interior. I still need to figure out if winter living is feasible though. In that case, I could also get a high efficiency propane heater, but money money money. Not to mention the frozen water tanks. Swamp cooler, propane heater, and a high efficiency DC refrigerator. Each of them costs around $600, and I have no idea how to install any of them.

I’ll likely keep the RV for now though. I want to drive down through California and back to Colorado via Nevada or New Mexico. Not sure yet. I’ve never seen the SW before though.

Primarily, I want to see San Francisco, the startup capital of the world and probably one of the few US cities that full time RV living makes sense. Then I might make some trips to LA and San Diego where I know a handful of people, but I’ve also visited both cities before. I am interested in seeing Claremont University which has the only Ph D Program in Positive Psychology.

Chances are high I’ll be back on the East Coast for the holidays either early November or early December with or without the RV to be seen.

To RV or Not? You Vote

Last weekend, my RV was robbed in Portland.

The next morning, the transmission died.

I’ll be spending several thousand to get the RV fixed and replace my lost items.

I’m not sure what to do with the RV once it’s fixed though.

The transmission is the most likely and most expensive piece of the RV. After this, there “shouldn’t” be any expensive repairs.

But how far do I want to go?

Realistically, living in the RV is only possible in the Fall and Spring and part of summer/winter. Unless I’m living in the West Coast like San Diego or San Fran where the weather’s always perfect.

If I stay in one place for a year, that’s likely saving $7k-$12k in rent and could justify the money I’ve put into the RV.

No matter what, I plan on staying out west until at least the holidays in late nov/december. The question is whether I sell the RV now, in December, or years from now?

Based on the results of this poll, I’ll decide.

[poll id="2"]