Insights from the Road: Kiwi and Company

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Editor’s Note: In her last columns, Shelly Zavala wrote about her adventures purchasing a Dodge Ram Promaster 3500 Roadtrek Zion. Now, she’s preparing for her hiking and camping outings.

I took a flagship drive to Crystal Cove and did a hike. I love sitting up high in the van and when I’m not having to pay attention to making sure I’m not hitting something I can enjoy the view.

Living near the water, I get to enjoy driving along Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean.  I am very lucky living in Newport Beach, so close to the water. I have always had this need to be near nature. I live twenty minutes from hiking trails and a little over an hour to the mountains. That’s pretty cool.

I also have had to work incredibly hard to have what I have. Coming from parents who don’t even have a high school education, I put myself through college and then in my thirties I did my masters and doctorate. Having learning disabilities, I’m not sure how I did it, but there are many things in my life I’m not sure how I did it. I also did this while raising a young daughter.

Something I have learned is you can – but not always – find a way. This is how I got my van, which I have decided to call “Kiwi,” since I’m from New Zealand.

Anyway, situations are not always the way we want them. Never perfect. It’s sort of like hiking. Sometimes you end up going a different direction or making choices that are different due to weather, physical ability or even mental stamina.

So back to Kiwi. I’m heading over to Camping World. I’m excited. Let’s see what I can find to make my trips more fun. Last night I spent many hours on the internet. I ordered headlamps, a first aid kit (that was a tough one—Amazon sells a lot of first aid kits), and a few other bits and pieces.

Driving to Campers World was my first time on the freeway with this 20-foot van. It’s really pretty easy to drive. But still every muscle in my body was driving that van.

I’m so excited as I walk into the store of my dreams. I’m not into clothes or handbags and typically hate shopping—except REI and the occasional trip to TJ Maxx. But Campers World was calling my name. Everything you need and more.

I started with the chairs. Okay, red chairs, blue chairs recliners, rockers. How on earth do I decide? I had to try them out and with some help from the sales person we came up with a green zero gravity chair. One minute you are sitting up and the next lying down. I could just imagine coming back from a hike and sitting back in that chair allowing the blood to flow from my feet and back into my body. That just sounds so good.

Now on to mats and blocks and chocks and fire pits and barbecues. An hour and a half later I left the store, hungry and spent in more ways than one. I started putting everything away. Being hungry I decide to pullout a chair, and eat lunch in the parking lot. Sounds crazy I know. Yet it was fun. I cut up an apple and a flatbread I had made the night before along with a piece of chocolate. I loved using the kitchen and just enjoying being in Kiwi.

On the way home I stopped and get frozen yoghurt; parked by the harbor, looked over the water and enjoyed the scenery. A friend came by and checked out the van. And then home. I then had my brother and sister-in-law call so I walked them through it.  They were so jealous. I am so itching to get out into nature.

Below is the hike I did this morning if you are interested in exploring Crystal Cove State Park. Also if you are interested in following my hikes and trips I am on Instagram at dr.shellyzavala.

HIKE:  No Name Ridge, Rattlesnake, Ticketron, Deer Canyon, Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach, CA, 6.7 miles, 1,263 ft gain.

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