Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Two Full Days in Yosemite NP

Yosemite NP is one of the most impressive national parks in the United States, if not the world. Mark and I visited Yosemite Valley once before with my parents, in 2005, but we had mostly forgotten about its allure. That being said, when we returned to California in mid-October, the park regained a spot on our mental “things-to-do” list. We considered a weekend getaway there during our three-month house sit in Rocklin, but winter was upon us and the dog we were taking care of did not get along well with others, so we pushed Yosemite into a corner of our brains. That was until my cousin Griet and her husband Wim decided to fly in from Belgium for a 10-day vacation in Northern California. They generously treated us and Lola to a weekend in Yosemite.

The family at Tunnel View

Continue reading

A Week of Sightseeing with Visitors – Sonoma, Marin and San Francisco Counties

On March 24th, Mark, Lola and I picked up my cousin Griet and her husband at SFO, the airport of San Francisco. While visiting us many times on Irie, in the Caribbean and the South Pacific (they also helped us transit the Panama Canal in January 2013), it was the first time they came to the United States. Customs and Immigration procedures took a while, as expected, but once we found each other, their 10-day vacation could start…

The heavy rains paused for about an hour and a half, in which we brought them to a viewpoint over San Francisco and to Fort Funston, an awesome off-leash dog park. Lola had been very patient in the car during the two-hour drive in rain and traffic and the one hour wait at the airport. She loved her reward in nature, our guests enjoyed their first impressions of the city and Mark and I appreciated stretching our legs during a break in the rain.

On Saturday, we revisited Armstrong Redwoods, still as impressive as the first time we came with Lola. Continue reading

Monthly Expenses – March 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without being rich. Or even without owning/earning a lot of money. That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is car, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up. 🙂

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, oat milk for Mark and organic 2% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Utilities are always Skype-related, since that is how we make phone calls. 

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state (we are currently in California), it will be expensive for either of us! Every six months, we have to fly or drive to the East Coast for check-ups. I still pay a small three-monthly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

Here is an overview of our expenses in March. This month, the car brought us above $1000. The total could have been much higher, but our generous visitors,  my cousin Griet and her husband Wim (regulars on Irie as well) treated us to a wonderful weekend in Yosemite National Park, took us out to dinner and contributed towards wine, fuel and tolls. Thank you, guys!

Continue reading

IWSG Writing Update – April 2017

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing.  Since August 2016, the IWSG offers a particular question as a writing prompt for their members. Answering it is optional. This month that question is “Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?”

Talking about a current topic… The A to Z Blogging Challenge takes place every April. Last year, I did participate for the first time and succeeded in the challenge. I even picked a theme: “Thoughts on Being a Nomad”. You can read those posts here. After a month of writing and posting every day, the A-Z Challenge finished with a reflection post. I might have mentioned that I started work on a memoir, but I did not promote anything.

Continue reading

Weekend Adventures in the Area – Sonoma County

Mark and I never go on vacations. We do travel a lot between places with our car, but the last time we had a real holiday together, as in taking a plane to a destination solely for sightseeing or vacationing, was back in… never actually. For me, it must have been when I was still living in Belgium, working as a teacher, before 2003. If you don’t count the city trip I did with my mom to St. Petersburg, Russia a year and a half ago. Yes, we do fly to the East Coast or Belgium once in a while to visit friends and family and we went on a five-day camping trip in 2015, but it is not the same. I hear some of you scoff, when silently mumbling something like “How about those eight years you were sailing in the Caribbean and the South Pacific?” or “What about that yearlong of gallivanting by RV in Central America?” Again: not the same. Leading a certain lifestyle, when working many hours a day at our computers does not equal vacation. 🙂

There are three reasons we never buy a plane ticket to go have fun in a new country. Continue reading

Weekend Fun – A Letter from Lola

While this past weekend the weather was not as enjoyable as the previous one, Mark, Lola and I still had a nice time together. At least that’s what she told her loved ones in Mexico with the following letter. I couldn’t have phrased it better myself! 🙂

California Redwoods

“Hi mom and dad,

I hope you are having a good time in Mexico. While I miss you a lot, I am happy to have remained in my own comfy house. I can lay in my favorite spots, play with my favorite toys, stroll in my favorite yard, bark at my favorite deer, and each time we come back from a car ride or a walk, I am so happy to be home. Sometimes, I don’t even want to leave, because I like it here so much. Last week, when it was so warm, I lagged behind on walks and panted a lot. I can’t believe that these two drag me out into the hills every day! Well, it is kind of nice, but sometimes, I just want to nap.

Grabbing balls at the dog park

Continue reading

WW – Spring is in the Air

It has been a while since I created a Wordless Wednesday post. Spring is arriving at our current two-month house sit in Sebastopol, Northern California and I am loving it. The blue sky, the warmer temperatures, the sweet blossoms and the colorful flowers… I never realized I loved the visual appearance of spring this much. Must be because we lived in the tropics, void of seasons, for a decade and, really, are not too fond of winter. Which is why we “moved” to California this fall. Compared to last year, when I posted a similar blog  in June and left for Belgium to experience spring, we have no complaints about the change of seasons this year! 🙂

Has spring sprung yet where you live?

Fruitvale Stationed – A Week in the Hood

(Oakland, CA – February 14th to February 21st, 2017)

A little while ago, Mark and I saw a house sit posting in Oakland, California that sounded just perfect. We still had a little gap to fill between our time in Costa Mesa and our current, two-month house sit in Sebastopol, and the listing we were eyeing promised to be “an oasis” in the middle of the city. Mark and I immediately thought back about the time and place we met, a desirable, pedestrian-friendly area of Oakland called Rockridge. Based on the description of this potential sit, it had to be in a similar area. After our one-week sit in Fairfax, we decided to swing by the place and meet its residents on our way south to visit friends, and then continue on to Costa Mesa.

Following the GPS directions, we arrived at Fruitvale Avenue. “This can’t be right,” Mark mumbled, as we drove along the dirty road with cars haphazardly parked and small stores reminding us of the ones in Central America. Continue reading

A Very Important Woman – My Oma

Today’s blog post is a difficult one for me. I have written emotion-laden blogs before, like the one about our sweet, smart and cute dogs Kali and Darwin and the one about my sister-in-law Dru. I never wrote about my dear aunt Monique or my paternal grandma I called meter. Both also passed away while Mark and I were sailing the seven seas. During all those years abroad, I had one massive dread and worry. It had to do with my maternal grandma, my oma, who I loved more and longer than most anyone else.

When I was thinking about this subject, I realized it is International Women’s Day today. Perfect! What better day to celebrate the woman who meant so much to me, my whole life? Continue reading

Monthly Expenses – February 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without being rich. Or even without owning/earning a lot of money. That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is car, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up. 🙂

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, oat milk for Mark and organic 2% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Utilities are always Skype-related, since that is how we make phone calls. 

You now see health insurance and costs related to my health care, since we are not in the lowest income bracket anymore and I am not a US citizen. As a matter of fact, I owe the government $1500 for health care insurance in 2016 (and a lot of taxes!), because our income was a bit higher than anticipated. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state (we are currently in California), it will be expensive for either of us! I still pay a small three-monthly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

Here is an overview of our expenses in February. It is a much higher than normal month, because we bought two sets of plane tickets for each of us. The first leg will be to Boston the end of April, from where we will both fly to Belgium for a month on May 20th. On the way back through Boston, we just have a short layover, before continuing on to San Francisco. Fuel costs are relatively high due to our return trip from Southern California. The good news is that we signed up for a fancy credit card, which gives us 100,000 points, if we spend $4000 in three months. We are doing our best to make that (high for us) number, and the flights - relatively cheap for what they offer - happily help. 🙂

Continue reading

« Older posts

© 2017 Roaming About

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: