Welcome to our Bungalow! Our tiny home on wheels will serve as our personal hotel, restaurant, edit bay and memory maker for many years to come. (Oh, and Dina Scrabble victories)!
Why get a camper?
We have long been dubbed by our friends and family as the 'adventure couple.' Every weekend in the winter you will find us up in the mountains skiing, and in the spring, summer and fall we spend our time off mountain biking, kayaking, boating, camping and hiking near Northern California's beautiful rivers and lakes. We have always dreamed about having a cabin in Lake Tahoe one day, but our finances and careers would mean that dream would remain as such, for now. We found ourselves spending a ton of money on last-minute hotels and scrambling to find a dog sitter for our fur baby Brewski every time we wanted to plan a weekend getaway. If only we could retire now and work later! Our wheels began turning (no pun intended) -- why don't we bring the hotel to us?
Our motto since we sarted dating six years ago has been: 'No Reservations.' We like to approach our trips in an unassuming and flexible way -- in other words, we hate planning. We like to be on our own time, and we both have that go-with-the-flow attitude. Our first taste of the camper life was during our honeymoon in September 2014. We spent 11 days driving around New Zealand's South Island in an RV. We would park in the darkness of the night in some random town and wake up to a new backdrop every morning. From ocean beaches to sheep farms to glaciers -- our morning cuppa was spent enjoying the picturesque scenery and being on no one else's time but our own. If there were stops we wanted to make along the way we did -- no stressing over checking into a hotel or cancellation fees. It was total freedom. It was magical.
"If you don't do it this year, you will be one year older when you do. " -Warren Miller
In November 2016, we decided to go for it and get a camper of our own. Since we are big skiers, we wanted to be able to drive in the snow with 4WD no problem. We also wanted something less cumbersome so we can park in the parking lots of the ski resorts which allow overnight parking. So, we chose to go with the cab-over camper option rather than tow a trailer. Robbie's truck is a short-bed F-150, so there weren't many options -- but the Lance 650 was built specifically for his truck. It's a 4-season camper, meaning it's insulated for those cold nights in sub-zero temperatures. There is a propane heater, a solar panel to help replenish our power supply and a shower and toilet -- all on the bed of the truck! There is also a two-burner stove, microwave, refrigerator and queen bed. I mean, what else do you need?
The day we signed on the dotted line, we took the Bungalow out for her madiden voyage to an RV campsite next to Lake Berryessa. We learned all about the private versus public campsites (which we will talk about in later posts) and the new little world we were about to embark on. We filled up the tank and started planning our next series of trips. Buckle up! You're coming with us!
Ok... so this post is WAY over-due, but better late than never, right?
I am going to go over our 12-day honeymoon to New Zealand! The country is stunning, the people are friendly and the adventures are unlimited! If you are adventurous and enjoy the great outdoors, this is the trip for you!
DAY 1 | FLY INTO AUCKLAND, DRIVE TO WAITOMO CAVES
The morning after our wedding, we hopped on a plane and flew from SFO to Auckland, in NZ's North Island. 12 hours later, we arrived -- it was 5AM local time. We picked up our rental car (which was a manual transmission in a car with the steering wheel on the left) and we drove (on the wrong side of the road -- thank goodness for Robbie) about two hours south to Waitomo Adventures. We pre-booked the 'Lost World Tour' excursion about six months out to ensure we got a spot.
By 7:00AM we had arrived and had about 20 minutes to squeeze in a power nap. Then it was off to our first adventure! Our group consisted of two guides plus Robbie and me, which made for a super personalized experience. We first suited up in wet-suits, steal-toed boots, helmets and headlamps. Then we proceeded to the route...
We walked through jungle-like terrain until we reached a gaping hole in the ground. Cables spanned from our feet, down 100 meters into the caves below. Next, we were abseiling (like repelling but below ground). The abseil down was remarkable -- eye stimulation overload! We kept looking up and down at the cable between our fingers, then over at the walls of the caves growing the most vibrant green ferns. The cave walls appeared to be breathing water -- a series of natural high-speed slides carrying the water from the earth's surface 100 meters to an underground river.
Once we landed on our two feet, we began our trek through the underground tunnel carved out by water. Every few minutes, our guides had us shut off our headlamps and gaze at the glowworms clinging to the ceiling of the caves. The glowworm, also known as Arachnocampa luminosa, can only be found in New Zealand. By the thousands, these tiny creatures radiate their luminescent light and create a natural flashlight for visitors entering the caves. With the help of their glow, we climbed through small openings in the rocks and jumped into pools throughout the tunnel.
We walked, swam, jumped, crawled, stopped for lunch and drank from the natural water flows. After about three hours hours, we finally saw the light (literally), as we had reached the end of the tunnel, but our journey was far from over! We were greeted by a sheep farm upon exiting the caves -- a lush, vibrantly green pasture with hundreds of friendly sheep. Then our guides took us to our final stop: dinner. We changed back into our warm clothes, ate a BBQ dinner with fresh New Zealand ingredients and had some hot tea. Then we drove back to Auckland to rest up for the night.
The Waitomo Caves excursion made for the most incredible greeting to our jam-packed honeymoon, and we would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a memorable adventure!