By: Jinyen and Chris Carew
Okay! Now we’re moving and grooving. We just got to Arizona, and we’re jazzed to see the next three National Parks here in Arizona.
This past week we stayed at the beautiful Elephant Butte (pronounced Byoot, like beautiful, though we were calling it Elephant Butt the entire time – lol). That is a great state park in New Mexico, containing Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is actually the largest reservoir in New Mexico. We camped out there and met another family of 4 who was there for the weekend from El Paso.
After that, we were off to White Sands National Park. That place was magical, with pure white sand dunes that drift a little bit each year. We spotted a coyote there, which we’ve been crossing our fingers for. Also, sledding down the dunes is a thing there, so we did that. There are lizards that live on the dunes, which have evolved by natural selection over the last 10,000 years to be white. So that was interesting to learn.
Seeing all of the military testing areas out here is crazy. Los Alamos, home of the infamous Manhattan Project, is up near Bandelier, where we were last week. Look that up if you don’t know the history.
White Sands Missile Range is where they test missiles, which sometimes closes the National Park, but luckily not when we were there.
Also, as you drive along Interstate 10, you’ll notice huge blimp-like things, which are actually called Tethered Aerostat Radar System, and are used by Border Patrol. There are lots of Border Patrol checkpoints out here, which we’re not used to, having lived on the East Coast all our lives.
Oh! We just saw a rattlesnake finally, right when we pulled up to our campground last night. We’ve been seeing signs warning of those since Texas, so that’s another check off the bucket list.
Much more to come! Stay tuned…
Austin was fun. We stayed there for longer than expected, because we were having so much fun. Also, I picked up a gig building some stuff for a music festival last week.
Our littlest lady just turned 10 years old, so we ate lots of food, and took the girls to a trampoline park to jump it out with their new friend.
Now we’re in Freeport, Texas, which we heard about from some fellow travelers we met in Austin. Just got here last night, and to our surprise, there is nothing but oil refineries here. This whole town is basically just a big oil refinery on the Gulf of Mexico. Driving through, we were imagining how polluted the air must be. Then we thought how polluted the water may be, so we started Googling…
Turns out the beaches around here are not so clean, but it’s really due to sewage runoff more than pollution from the refineries – or at least that’s what the searches revealed. So yeah, we drove back east to get here, and it looks like we won’t be going in the water. But, it is nice to camp on the beach, with the sound of the waves, and the nice sea breeze blowing through the RV. So, we’re going to stay another night or two before leaving for San Antonio. Remember The Alamo!
After San Antonio, we’re heading west, to see our first two national parks (of 47) – Guadalupe Mountains NP and Big Bend NP. Then we hit New Mexico, where we’re excited for all the alien vibes of Roswell, the artsy vibes of Santa Fe, and the dark skies which are sure to make for some amazing stargazing.
Get ready for some epic photos!
Almost April already! We’re still in Austin, boondocking around the city, here and there. Boondocking is what it’s called when you camp without being hooked up to utilities (electricity, water, sewer).
We have a fresh water tank that holds 33 gallons of water for the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. And to flush the toilet. We have a 41 gallon grey water tank, which holds the dirty water from all of those, except the toilet. Then, we have the black water tank, which holds the sewage.
Living the boondocking RV life – as opposed to just pulling into campgrounds and hooking up to utilities – you learn how to find sources of water to fill the fresh water tank, and places to dump the other two. Since we have the solar panels, we always have battery power, so that’s been awesome.
Austin weather is great in March, FYI. Plus, it’s a great spot for vanlifers and RVers like us.
We got a tip that an RV can drive on the beach and camp right there on the sand in Freeport, Texas, so we are going there next, even though it’s back East, south of Houston. In NYC terms, it would be SoHo I guess. Except this Houston is pronounced the other way.
Anyways, we are excited to camp on the beach, because that’s not a thing you can normally do without booking far in advance, and paying. Freeport is free, which makes sense now that I say it out loud.
After beach camping, it’s west to San Antonio, then put to our first national parks of the trip, Big Bend, then Guadalupe Mountains. Both of those are near the border of New Mexico, our next state.
We’re having fun! Stay tuned for more…
Last time we were in Austin was 2012, selling Chalkboard Tees at Renegade Craft Fair. I built a nine foot tall Lone Star installation out of wood, painted with chalkboard paint. It was an interactive art piece with a Texas theme (and a chalkboard theme, of course).
Austin is cool. The residential architecture is interesting here, with neighborhoods full of different style houses. That’s in contrast to so many neighborhoods across the country that look blah because there are only three model homes to choose from, in three colors, and one developer builds them all. Boring.
The food has been tasty too. Had quite possibly the best churros ever. Had some bangin’ brisket, sausage, and ribs. Had some good local burgers and tacos. Also had some really good pizza, which was a pleasant surprise.
Living in NYC for almost two decades, eating at some of the best spots, and hosting markets with some of the tastiest foods, we would definitely be considered ‘foodies’, if you’re into labels. We have always made a point when traveling to find the food, but we never worried about getting footage before. We’re probably going to stay in Austin through this weekend and work on some things, like ACTUALLY getting our YouTube channel in order.
Until next week, follow us on TikTok @theadventuresofus4
We’re in Austin! Though we sort of breezed through Florida and Alabama and Mississippi, we did stop in New Orleans for a sampling of some local favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, a catfish po’ boy, beignets and chicory coffee. The four of us usually get a spread and get a few bites each, so we can try as many things as possible.
After New Orleans we headed west to Welsh, LA, and ate at Cajun Tales, a place right off I-10 that Jinyen and I have gone to twice before. They had the best biscuits and crawfish etouffee omelet before, but they don’t do breakfast anymore, so we went for lunch and got gator bites (yum!), crawfish pie (amazing!), an oyster/crawfish po’ boy (slammin’), and a really good hush puppy.
Now we’re in Austin, and I’m showing art all week, trying to sell some pieces to lighten our load a bit. Went to Barton Springs last night, which is a cool natural/man made hybrid spring/pool spot that is open until 10pm. Took a dip late last night and it was cold, but refreshing, so we’re gonna go tomorrow during the day when it’s a little warmer.
Will let you know about some BBQ and maybe the rodeo next week…
The day has come. We’re heading west.
We leave tomorrow for the first of three days of a nice amount of driving. Gas prices are surging. Fantastic.
Remembering back to the road trip we did in 2009, before kids, in a Grand Caravan, selling t-shirts. California gas prices were crazy high, so we’re a little sad about that, but that’s a first world problem. So we’ll move on.
Jinyen and I have been road tripping since way back, but this is definitely the largest load. FYI, The RV is perfect for living in while you renovate a house.
Anyways, our plan is to do 5-6 hours of driving or less between overnight stops. So, our next few stops are looking like Tallahassee, New Orleans, Houston, then Austin, for SXSW.
Going to hover around Austin for a couple weeks, including San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and some other stops. We’re going to take the girls to see Gwen Stefani at the rodeo in Houston.
There will be serious eating of things such as Cajun food in Louisiana, Fried Green Tomatoes in Alabama, and BBQ in Texas.
The dark skies are one of the things we’re looking forward to past Texas, to New Mexico, where the light pollution is super low, so the stars are much easier to see.
Our battery never dies since we got the solar panels installed. So that’s amazing.
Of course, the sun is super hot in Florida. Getting a little too hot. Gotta go.
Until next week…
Can of worms. I’ve never purchased one, literally, but I’ve opened a few, figuratively. Renovating spaces is a common one.
I renovated my 4,500 square foot studio in Bushwick starting in 2019. That was going in the right direction, but then we went viral, when the crown of viruses threw everything way off course.
We thought about doing this RV thing a year ago when it was first looking like it wasn’t gonna end quickly, but being who I am, I hoped it would get better sooner. It did not, so we did it this time.
And now I’m in Florida doing another renovation, so it’s okay, because I really don’t have anywhere specific to be yet. Which is sort of the point. But not really, because I was trying to be in California by now, in my ideal world.
So now we are trying to get to Austin in the next few weeks for South by Southwest, because I’d like to do another box truck popup art gallery there like I did in Miami. Also looking for places to pop up in Atlanta and New Orleans, on the way to Texas, but nothing set yet, so yeah.
Had my little birthday party art show Friday. This little town is not the art show type of place, but it was cool to see my pieces up in the different rooms. Probably won’t see them all spread out like this again until Los Angeles, where I’m working on doing a full brick-and-mortar show, rather than a popup box truck or art market type of thing.
But while we’re in LA I’ll also be hiring for the salad-making machine thing I mentioned last week. More on that later.
Still enjoying the birds, but hating the mosquitoes and no-see-ums. If you don’t know about those, great. You don’t want to.
It’s already getting hot in Florida, and soon it’s going to be sweaty hot every day, so I’m going to try to finish this house up, because I can’t wait to get on the road again.
Follow @theadventuresofus4 on Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, & Facebook
This is not a renovation piece, which is why I wasn’t highlighting it, but I’ve been renovating this house for the last six weeks or so. The thing is, I didn’t have that in my plans in December, so we’ve been staying pretty local for longer than expected, which has still been pretty adventurous, albeit a different type.
It’s a good thing though, because this house needed it. It was my grandmother’s, and she kept it nice and clean, but it’s old, so we updated things a little.
Now it’s a fresh gem of a spot and before we leave Florida I’m doing an exhibition there, of the works I made at my studio in Bushwick before we left New York. Also, my birthday was the 18th, so this is doubling as my 40th birthday party too. So that should be fun.
Which brings me to our other ventures along our adventure. I’m kind of addicted to building things and making ideas come to life, so we’re building bunch of things on this trip.
One of these things is a lemonade brand, based off the lemonade stand Li-Yen and Brook Lyn made, called Lemonland Lemonade (@lemonlandlemonade on Instagram). Our daughters are awesome and smart, and we are currently homeschooling them, so business, marketing, design and hospitality are a few of the electives they’re taking this year. Jinyen and I have done a lot of design work – for our own products and for others – and marketing, also for our own projects and for others. We’ve both done a lot of business and hospitality too, so it’s all fun, and we’re teaching them things they would not be learning in school.
We will be selling lemonade around the country all year long, getting our recipe perfect, documenting it, and designing our labels, with the goal of getting into New York City Whole Foods locations by 2023, then everywhere else.
That’s just one of the longer-term ventures we’re working on. Others include a salad-making machine. More on that later.
Food videos coming soon.
Solar panel install video coming soon.
So close to finishing this renovation, and so anxious to hit the road.
The food destinations alone have us excited! Looking forward to things like lobster roll in Maine, jambalaya in Louisiana, hotdish in Minnesota, Frito Pie in New Mexico, and BBQ from Alabama, Texas, Kansas and The Carolinas. They all have their own unique styles, and they’re all tasty!
Not to mention the Mississippi Mud Pie, Cincinnati Chili, Boston Crème Pie, Georgia Peach Cobbler, and so many other local dishes — some of which you can only really get in those places.
The list is way longer, but you get the point.
Other than that we’ve just been playing catch, cooking, eating, test-shooting for videos and planning our next moves.
Next week I’ll talk about some of the other things we’re working on, that we haven’t mentioned yet. Stay tuned @theadventuresofus4
Ok, so the temperatures everywhere north of Florida have been colder than we want to be in, so we’re still in Florida.
Also, I’ve been helping to renovate a family home for the past few weeks — which should be done next week — so hopefully the weather lines up around that time, because we’re getting anxious to leave. Not anxious enough to leave 50 and 60-degree days for 20 and 30-degree days, but a little anxious.
We haven’t done a bunch of Florida traveling since Christmas because we’ve been doing some much-needed catching up with family for the past month or so. Plus, we’re planning to loop back around to Florida this coming December, for Art Basel and Christmas again. That’s when we’re going to knock out the rest of the state.
It’s super rewarding to see the solar panels making electricity, and being able to monitor it all on the my phone. Yes, there’s an app for that.
The girls are having a blast running around the woods with their cousins, riding golf carts and chasing dogs.
Jinyen is enjoying the weather and wildlife, and, of course, cooking.
I swear we’re leaving Florida soon…
Finally! Solar panels are installed! Well, besides the two cables I had to order last-minute after needing to… Nevermind.
But seriously, for all intents and purposes, they’re in, and Thursday the last pieces come in. I literally just plug those in and BUZZ! Electricity from the sun. You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting solar panels, so I’ll stop now.
Yesterday, SpaceX shot off a rocket, and we watched as the boosters returned to the launch pad. So that was cool. How many places in the world do they shoot rockets from Earth to Space? Not many, but look it up.
Also, Jinyen made some tasty Chinese food for Lunar NYE dinner. She always makes amazing food, and that’s why I’m trying to get her to exploit her talents for a YouTube channel, because why not?
We scoured the internet to create a list of unique regional foods for our state-by-state food tour of America, and now the citizens of the World Wide Web are helping us figure out exactly where to go for the best version of those foods.
It’s a fun research project, and we’re super excited to go to the places, eat the food, and make videos about it all.
Getting that YouTube channel all set up now with some videos, so we can make a splash debut next week, when we leave Florida!
People can follow us on all the social media platforms for the latest updates…
Just search @theadventuresofus4 or type out ‘The Adventures of Us 4’
Brrrr. It’s cold in Florida. I mean, not NYC cold, but like thirties-for-one-night cold.
Plus, the path from here to Los Angeles is full of a-little-too-cold temperatures at the moment, so we’re not rushing to leave yet.
Got the charge controller for the solar setup, so now we’re just waiting on the mounting brackets, so I can install it all (finally).
We are documenting basically everything for our YouTube channel (going live soon), so I have unboxing and install videos to produce and edit.
Going to do some painting this week, and probably going to head back to Miami to show some art pieces before we head north, then west.
Jinyen has been cooking amazing foods like she always does, and we’ve decided to do a cooking series, because why not?
Starting to really map out our food destinations, because we’re producing a food road trip series for YouTube too.
The plan is all coming together. Lots to do!
Got all of our solar panels finally! But still waiting on some other components so we can install everything. So close!
SpaceX is shooting off rockets like crazy out here. About twice a week, it seems.
As we’ve been stalling in Florida, we’ve decided on two new goals:
1.) We’re visiting all of the lower 48 states in 2022. (Maybe we’ll get to go to Hawaii or Alaska too, if we’re lucky.)
2.) We’re visiting all 47 of the National Parks in the lower 48 states.
Oh, also, it’s probably going to be more like a 10-month road trip, instead of 6.
There’s a lot to see, and we’re working on a few income streams that will allow us to travel year-round. Plus, we don’t know if we will ever do this again, so we figure we will do it right this time…
Solar panels should be here this week, but still waiting for the charge controller, which should (hopefully) be here next week.
Everything costs more time and/or money since March 2020. Ok, fine.
Very appreciative of nature and wildlife at the moment.
The diversity of birds in Florida right now is vast! Weather is nice, but bugs that bite are plentiful. Ocean breezes can blow them away though. And bats and birds can eat them. Isn’t it funny how all those things work together?
Loving looking at the stars and the planets and the moon, and the rockets launching towards them.
Enjoying southern food at southern prices.
Taking it easy, and taking this time to get all of our plans in place.
Getting our curriculum in order for the girls. Geography, history, zoology, geology, music, art, business, home economics, design, real estate, astronomy, fashion, and more.
This is basically the best field trip ever.
It’s going to be a great 2022.
Oh, and follow us @theadventuresofus4 on Instagram & TikTok
Weather! Not gonna lie, we’re pretty happy when we hear it’s freezing in NYC, as we enjoy a warm, Florida New Year’s Eve.
Of course, there’s no place like NYC. The food, the people, the state of mind, the tap water. (Pretty sure Montezuma may have a grudge in Florida that people don’t mention). Oh, and forget about doing anything after 10:00pm, unless it’s a trip to Wal-Mart.
Booked some cool spots to stay for the next few months, from Texas to California. Still unsure of our exact departure date from here (shipping delays), but it’s kinda nice, actually. Every day in New York was a hustle, so we’re enjoying the slow pace, for now.
Anyways, the girls are having lots of fun, running around with their cousins and their dogs, while Jinyen has been cooking her heart out. All the while, Chris has been capturing some shots of the natural world – alligators, chickens, rabbits, lizards, birds, squirrels, planets, and the moon – for an upcoming exhibition.
Still in Florida. Had a fun Christmas with the family, saw some very Florida Christmas things — golf cart parade, anyone? — but still waiting on these solar panels.
We’re taking this time to work out the finer details of where we’re going, and we can’t wait to hit the road again.
For the next leg of our trip we’re going from Florida to California, via Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We’re really trying to check out this rodeo in Fort Worth in the middle of January, but besides that we’re not stuck to any dates yet.
We do have to start picking some dates for those high-demand California coastal campgrounds though, because last cross-country road trip we learned the hard way that those get booked waaaaay in advance.
So, rodeos, canyons, vast landscapes, southern food, riverboats, and reservations are next. Super excited!
Also, I dropped my first NFT : )
Until next week…
The Adventures of Us 4. We’ve had the RV for about 3 weeks, and it’s been fun so far!
Our first stop, on the way to Art Basel in Miami, was Washington DC. There we meet up with a friend, and shot our first food trip episode at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a DC staple.
After dinner, it’s off to Florida. Had to make a few stops, but made it to Miami on Friday. Just in time to get the big Uhaul for the popup art gallery Chris has planned.
Met some cool people, sold some art, hit the beach. Monday comes, and we’re off to Key West.
The Keys are beautiful, but not so RV-friendly if you aren’t staying in a campground – which we won’t be doing very much on this trip. That’s why we’re upgrading with SOLAR PANELS! So we can go off-grid as long as possible.
After The Keys, we head back to the Space Coast to hang with family for the holidays, get accustomed to our new home on wheels, and get the rig ready for the long road trip ahead before setting off…
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