A little bit less Cruisin’ USA

Today we unfortunately didn’t do as much as we wanted, but still had a great time. Rhonja prepared breakfast in the microwave, bagels with cream cheese and bacon. Apparently bacon is easy to prepare in a microwave, and our stove isn’t perfect either so it was a great solution. It turned out awesome. Rhonja claims bagels are pretty awesome.

Our RV has issues with the AC though and also our sewage is a bit leaky. (Yesterday I tried hooking it up, but even though all valves were shut, there was an immediate flow of nasty stuff. Today it dripped nonstop during our trip, which technically is littering, which technically can be fined up to $1000 if we believe the signs next to the road. 

Yesterday we called our RV support and they told us to visit a place in Fresno, so they could take a look at our issues. After an hour drive we arrived at Cruise America Fresno. Immediately a woman came to us and asked if she could help us. Unfortunately she apparently could not. They were a small site and only had experience with the larger RV models, so we made a call to support again.

Support was going to check around the area for a garage that could help us and call us back.
We waited 5 minutes in our RV and thought, screw it, we have no idea how long this’ll take so we’ll just do some Fresno sightseeing.

We made the right decision: we visited the Crazy Squirrel, which is a boardgame store. Also went to a comic store for a change, where Rhonja bought a small Legend of Zelda figurine, and afterwards headed to a huge shopping area to grab some lunch at the ” Cheesecake Factory”.

Boy were we fooled. That place is just a regular restaurant and do also serve a few cheesecakes which admittedly do look great. The food was still great though, but we didn’t expect to get pizza and pasta there. But the meals, despite us getting a lunch version, were too large for us to fit in a slice of cheesecake. Yes, even when split between the two of us. It’s as horrible a thought to us as it is to you 🙁

With more time to burn we visited some more stores that seemed appealing like Gamestop, Disney and the like. Still waiting to hear from Cruise America about our RV aid.

After 5 hours we decided it was high time to head out. Even if they found a garage able to help they wouldn’t have time anymore anyway. Our RV site was also still a 2 hour drive away so we started towards Yosemite. Rhonja drove while Marcel tried to call one last time. Obviously this was to no avail. But they’d keep looking and we have a $75 dollar budget to spend on fans. If only we could find one….

But like you just read Rhonja was behind the wheel. Which means adventures aplenty! Because the road to Yosemite isn’t flat like last time. Rhonja was rather apprehensive about driving the RV on mountainous roads but apparently Marcel thought she handled herself well enough already to try anyway as he refused to take the wheel. Typing this means we’re obviously still alive! Rhonja took it nice and easy and driving automatic is really quite helpful in the mountains. She even managed to back into our newest RV campsite with a little extra eyesight from Marcel.

Our dinner consisted of “leftovers” from yesterday since we bought way too much meat and the eggplant was enormous! Marcel served as an excellent grill master and Rhonja prepared the vegetables, wrapped in BACON this time. ‘MURICA!

We’re currently figuring out what exactly we want to do/see in Yosemite tomorrow. There’s plenty to see, so it’ll definitely be awesome!

Today’s road trip:

Walking among giants

An RV is actually more comfortable than you would think. We didn’t have a perfect night of rest but it could be worse! It does seem like our roof AC isn’t working properly though as it didn’t seem to do much even on “high cooling”.

The breakfast we had hurriedly picked up when shopping wasn’t too bad either. Americans really don’t like bread crusts though. This bread did have the appearance of a crust but it was just as soft as inside. And they also don’t like brown bread it seems, as this looked a little brown but still tasted bland like white. Perfect for sandwiches?

After breakfast we went back on the road to Sequoia National Park! 
The park is known for their trees. They are pretty big, I mean you would’ve had a hard time fitting one in a pot since they take up a reasonable amount of space. If I were to make a guess: A regular (normal sized) tree would be around 0,5 meters in diameter, over here they were about 5 which would take up a reasonable amount of your garden.

The trees are amazing though! We knew what they looked like but their bark is soft! They’re cuddly trees! So we cuddled a tree!

Sequoia have a lot of amazing properties besides their size though. They’re pretty resistant against a lot of general hazards for trees. Like bugs, disease, rot and…. fire? Their soft bark is really thick and filled with tannins, so it’s flame retardant.
The trees even use fire to reproduce, in a way. Lightning strikes a giant sequoia, it suffers some minor burns and it also sets the undergrowth on fire! The resulting ashes provide excellent sustenance for saplings and there’s also plenty of sunlight to grow now.

We also visited the General Sherman tree, it’s the largest tree in the world and as tall as the Statue of Liberty (we saw that in 2013 in New York! :D). It’s impressive, sure, but not necessarily more so than the other sequoia we already visited.

Well, fuck it. There was supposed to be a picture here of the world’s biggest tree, but thanks to our T-mobile hotspot it screwed everything over five times in a row and I gave up. If it helps: just image the biggest tree ever, but then make it even bigger. Right now you’re staring at General Sherman. 

EDIT: Here it is! 

On our way back down the mountain we made a quick stop at a little sign Rhonja saw too late on the way up for Pinewood Spring. It was really just a little creek but it was still pretty. Marcel suddenly started calling Rhonja back to hurry though, as he saw a black bear cross the road just a little ways up from where we were.

When we were down the mountain again it was high time for Rhonja to take the wheel!
Rhonja thought it was weird. Automatic gearshift, but it was located on a handle beside the wheel. But she did fine (Opinions differ. Trust Rhonja though).
Groceries had to be bought though! We couldn’t stand to eat another microwave meal when we had the time to cook today. And Marcel was itching to try his new grill!
And so we had a BBQ partayyyyy!
With a giant pork chop and some sausages. Also grilled vegetables and BBQ potatoes. A feast fit for kings!

After dinner Marcel called Cruise America though to complain about the air conditioning unit on the roof. It only acts as a fan rather than an airco, and even that is aimed right over the top of the roof so you won’t feel it at all inside. It sucks!
So as a result, tomorrow we will head to Fresno to get it checked out. Incidentally there’s also a boardgame store there that Marcel is now dying to check out, so it’s not a wasted trip whatsoever!

One refreshing swimming pool trip later it’s now time to head back to bed. Tomorrow, Fresno!

Cruisin’ Usa

This morning we started out with an all American breakfast at Peter D’s.  There was only one waitress there, she was an older woman with a fitting all American diner name: “Darlene”.
Our breakfast consisted of: 3 (blueberry) Pancakes drained with Maple syrup, two pieces of bacon, an egg, and of course some freshly brewed coffee.

After our delicious breakfast we called for a Lyft (since Uber is a bit wonky for us, seeing we only have a worse than average internet connection, and he could bring us to our RV pickup-location, some 50 minutes away in Fremont. Of course it was just rush hour so we hit traffic a lot, but nonetheless we arrived spot on at 10:00 am at Cruise America.

We got our instructions on how everything worked, checked for damage (of which there was quite a bit actually, we needed a mechanic twice to fix some stuff inside the RV) but after half an hour we were ready to leave. 
Driving a “beast” like this takes some time to get used to, if you normally drive a relatively small Opel Meriva; about 50 meters from the pickup-location there was a speed bump which I (Marcel) took a bit too fast, and I could hear glass clinging. (I thought it broke, but no damage was done)

Our first stop was Dale Hardware, where our brand new Weber grill was already waiting for us. When we were done we went towards Walmart, where I think we spent a good 2,5 hours.
WIth renting the RV we had several options to rent stuff like sheets and foldable chairs, we figured it would be cheaper to get this stuff ourselves at Walmart, and we were right.
– Stuff for the bed was about $100 to rent. We spend about $40 (and it looks way better since we got to pick colors 😀
– Foldable chairs were $9 a piece to rent, we bought them for $9 a piece (and will bring/donate them to the Salvation Army afterwards)
We did get a bit hungry during our shopping, but luckily this is ‘Murica, so of course there was also a McDonald’s in the store.
Near the end of our shopping spree we also figured we needed something for dinner, but at that moment we also found out Walmart apparently isn’t really a suitable place to get this.
Sure, we (finally) got some decent beers, but for a good meal you’re in the wrong place. Since we were both a bit tired of shopping and we still had a 3,5 hour drive ahead of us, we went for some good ol’ microwave dinners.

Now it was time to head to our next destination: Visalia, which is near Sequoia (This is where they have humongous trees!)
We reserved a spot at an RV park nearby, but we still needed to do some driving to get there. We went through mountains, passed lakes, and traveled through scenery which was surprisingly flat like Holland, just a lot dryer.

Finally at about 19:45 we reached the RV park, settled down and had dinner, which tasted a lot better than what you would expect from a microwave dinner, but maybe we were just hungry.

Now we’re hanging out at our private picknick-table drinking reasonable beers (Rolling Rock) and just resting from our first RV day.
Tomorrow we’ll head to the Sequoia National Park (for which we can use the “America is Beautiful” pass)  and probably stay another day at this RV park. There’s still a few more things we need for the RV, and we can make some preparations for the virgin-meal on our new grill!

Golden gate, Pier 39, Boardgames and BBQ

We weren’t jetlagged anymore at all, so after a good night’s sleep we managed to get up nice and early to visit more of San Francisco! 

The day before we saw a place called Peet’s. It looked okay and it was close by so we got ourselves a medium coffee with a sandwich. The sandwiches were nothing special, but their medium coffee was HUGE and it was fairly decent coffee.
We were both still a bit hungry afterwards though, so before continuing on our journey we stopped for a donut at Bob’s Donut. There was a hobo trying to scam the barista out of some free coffee (“the guy who just left paid for two coffee’s, right?”) and we got ourselves some awesome donuts.

We really wanted to visit the Golden Gate Bridge since yesterday it was still too far away. So we asked an Uber driver to drop us off at the Disney museum which was nearby. We weren’t planning to enter it necessarily, but from the outside it looked like a nice town house. Rhonja might have wanted to enter but…. it’s closed on Tuesdays. Who’d have thought?

The walk to the Golden Gate Bridge from there was pretty nice though! We had some nice views of the bridge and Alcatraz along the way and as we got closer to the bridge we also saw a lot of cyclists heading there (there are rentals where you can cross the bridge by bike and head back by ferry).
San Francisco is pretty well known for the fog so while the previous day it was clear skies and you could see the entire bridge, today it was obscured by fog which was pretty cool in it’s own way! We could watch the top of a tower disappear into nothingness!

With another Uber ride we headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf, as we knew from yesterday that it was pretty far away!
It was pretty busy and reminded us of a theme park. The little stores were cute but not much special. We did have a nice lunch at the end of the pier though, Marcel got a burger (to compare to the others!) and Rhonja decided to get a crab roll. Both were  pretty nice but nothing too special.
Marcel saw on his map that on the Wharf there should also be a game store “Out of the Box”. It turned out to be a wooden puzzle game store though! It wasn’t what we were looking for but the employees were nice and handed us some wooden puzzles to play around with right away. After solving the first, which Marcel won, we both got a box with four of the same blocks, with which we could race each other to the solution (Rhonja won!).

After strolling around the Wharf some more we caught yet another Uber to find the actual game store Marcel had been wanting to visit – Gamescape. 
It was a fairly decent sized boardgame store with a playing area in the back. We both had a lot of fun just browsing and Marcel even found a game from his wishlist that was nicely priced. So obviously he had to buy Suburbia, a city building game Marcel compares to Sim City.

On our way over there though our Uber driver also told us about some awesome restaurants in that area. Since it was almost dinner time we decided to head to a nearby bar first for a beer and then decide which restaurant to eat at afterwards.
The beers we got at Fly – the bar – weren’t bad at all but not too much to our tastes either. So we headed out to dinner around 6 pm.
Our driver was talking about a little BBQ restaurant where the chef had been studying how to butcher pig for years so his restaurant served mainly pork as a result! It sounded like this chef knew what he was doing so we stopped there. It was weird, you had to order inside and take a seat in an outside area. The most “inside” you could get was in a shipping container cut in half length-wise. There were heat lamps though so it was pretty comfortable even!

Despite us hearing it was all pork though, there were plenty of other meats on the menu. Marcel ordered beef brisket and Rhonja chose pulled pork. Rhonja thought the food was nice but Marcel thought both dishes tasted a bit like knakworst. Marcel is weird.

The restaurant was about 20 minutes from the Japanese arcade we visited yesterday, so after dinner we stopped by for some more Pop’n Music, a single attempt on the rigged claw machine and a multiplayer game of Taiko No Tatsujin, a game with drums! Obviously Marcel won that one, but it was a lot of fun to try!

On our way back to the hotel we decided to stop at Whole Foods Market to get some more bottled water as we had run out that day and now we’re finally back at the hotel. Tomorrow we get to pick up our RV and officially start our US Westcoast roadtrip! We’re very excited for that!

Arriving, burgers and Japan

After a long flight (around 11 hours) we finally arrived at San Francisco airport.
Note that by now it was 21:00 in Holland, but only 12:00 in SF, so we had a long day ahead of us…

We did manage to get some rest on the plane, so luckily we survived the day, even though it was quite busy.
First we had to get past immigration. Since we were seated near the exit of the plane we could leave the plane first to walk sprint towards immigration. Unfortunately also a 747 from Asia just arrived so the lines were quite full. But we didn’t do too bad, when we joined the queue I think within 30 minutes it grew 3 times in size. All in all it took about 1 hour to get our fingerprints scanned and a picture taken.

Luggage was easy, since one guy was already desperately clearing the belts (probably because another plane arrived) our suitcases were already present.
Outside the airport we tried to get an Uber, but unfortunately it apparently doesn’t support cash or my credit card as payment here, so we took a slightly more expensive cab.

At our hotel the guy at the reception drew some stuff on a map of SF so we could get around more easily:
“If you go to this street you’ll find food. That part is Chinatown which is great. The wharf is over here…” 
Then he drew a wary cloud over certain areas and wrote “No” in them:”You don’t wanna go here, it’s a bad neighbourhood”

We went to the wharf first, where we also got our “America is Beautiful” pass. This one allows us into a lot of national parks and resorts, which comes in quite handy when we have our RV.
We checked out a tugboat and a ferry, which was loaded with oldtimers. Also from there you had a nice view of Alcatraz (To which we’ll be going on our last day)

We also had quite an experience when visiting a T-mobile store. We headed there to get a simcard with some data, so we can stay better connected.
While I was talking to the guy behind the counter, some shady guy walked into the store and headed over to some wall racks with headphones. The racks had a lock so you couldn’t pull off the headset, so he just dismantled the whole rack, grabbed it and slowly walked towards the exit.
My guy noticed this and walked over to him to stop him. They had a bit of a wrestle (although it looked more like roughousing, so we weren’t sure if they were serious), but in the end the shady guy managed to escape with the loot. Business went on as usual and both Rhonja and I were looking at eachother: ” Did that just really happen?”

Afterwards we did a little bit of shopping and went looking for “Playland” 
I (Marcel), found online that there’s a place in SF called Playland, in which they have the Japanese arcade game “Pop’n Music”. In case you didn’t know: that’s my all time favorite video game of like ever!
On our last trip to Japan I was unable to play this game due to my sprained wrist, so we HAD to check it our here.
So using Google maps we found this Playland, but it looked awfully like a plain bar. (GMaps did show a picture of the arcade cabinet at this location, but it was nowhere to be found)
Since we were there anyway we grabbed a drink, and we also found out the confusion:
We were at “Playland”, the arcade I was looking for was apparently at “Playland Japan”, which was in Japan town a few blocks down the road.
So of course we went there and we finally got to play Pop’n Music again, which of course was amazing.

(And the best part: our hotel for the last day of our holiday is right next to this place!)

After this highlight of our holiday we headed towards a flame grill bar where we got some great burgers and fries. Nothing special here, except for the discusted looks of people when they saw I put mayonaise on my fries.

So we managed to get through the complete day! Right now it’s 21:34 (or 06:34 Dutch time) and we’ll be heading to bed soon. Hopefully getting through today prevents our jetlag a bit.
Not sure where we’re going tomorrow, but probably the Golden Gate Bridge will be one of our destinations.

Ready to board! 

The trip to schiphol went fine, and at the departure area a guy was waiting for us to pick up our car. We did a quick inspection of my car, unfortunately we noticed some douchebag apparently bumped into my car somewhere, a huge scratch was the result 🙁

Other than that it went really smooth. Hardly any waiting lines and we’ll be boarding in a few minutes. Hopefully the food will be decent, but we’ve brought our own snacks just in case (even some Indian snacks from our last trip!) 

The flight will take around 11 hours, we’ll arrive at 11:45 in San Francisco, local time of course. 


So, only a few days left!

I think we’ve got most of the stuff covered now:
– Reserved parking at Schiphol
– All the needed papers/insurances are in order
– Solar Eclipse glasses are in (21st of August there’s a total eclipse)
– Hotels for the first and last days are booked
– Our RV will be waiting for us on the 9th
– A few blocks from there our new BBQ is also waiting for us!

Rhonja will be back from her other (way less cool) holiday in a few hours and tomorrow our ferrets will be dropped off at the shelter.
After that one last check we’ve got everything packed, and if not, there’re enough stores in the States to keep us covered.

Really looking forward to our trip. It has been a while since I’ve been to a country where I can fluently speak the local language, so at least I’ll know I don’t have to make myself clear using drawings in case of an earthquake (like in 2011 Japan)

Hopefully the trip towards Schiphol will be a bit smooth!


Currently we’re still making a few preparations for our trip, but the website is up!

Check out the “Plans” page to see the plans for our trip, which will start on the 7th of August!