Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
We are relieved to know our rig can handle those kind of roads and now we're in a great full hook-up spot in Paso Robles, CA. This place is the center of central California wine country. There are literally a hundred wineries within easy driving distance and one we could walk to from here. They also have a tempting olive press in the area with tasting and several gourmet food shops around. I would love to stay and play here awhile but we are low on funds and I can't trust myself to visit those places and not buy some wines and food! Besides, I have a job in Big Sur to get to...
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
We left Quartzsite, AZ at 7 AM Tuesday morning. We turned off all of the appliances we could, gave the cats a big dish of food, and jumped in the Jeep. Now we knew we were on a timer. We had to get back to the rig before the battery drained dead. Even though we had turned off as many things as possible there are still some items that suck energy. So we knew that if anything happened to delay us we could come back to a dead rig (not to mention some very upset kitties)! According to Google Maps this drive should only take about 4 hours. The first leg of the drive was through the most desolate desert highways you have ever seen. Two hours of nothing but sand and cactus. The few "towns" we came across didn't even have so much as a stoplight or a Shell. Suddenly out of nowhere a mountain loomed ahead. I swear this mountain is the most surprising thing ever. How does a mountain sneak up on you? No foothills, nothing. The road just turned up at a 45 degree angle and we started to climb these switchback mountain roads, winding in a hundred and eighty degree turns and always climbing. The conditions limited us to about 25-35 miles an hour most of the time (in the Jeep!) After climbing for about an hour we finally came to the picturesque city of Prescott, AZ. This was the first real city we'd seen and it was time for fuel. So we filled up and headed on our way. We drove straight out of Prescott and started winding around the mountains some more. A light snow began to drift down, sometimes snowing, sometimes raining. We drove through several tiny towns - one was called Skull Valley. The roads twisted and rose and fell for another hour. Then we came into Prescott again... We had taken a wrong turn!!! We just drove a hundred miles around in the Weaver Mountains and made a full circle! Apparently there is a right turn to stay on Hwy 89 in Prescott which is not very well marked. Oh well, we said, and continued on our way to the Grand Canyon. Once we were past Prescott it started to snow.
This was a thick snowfall with the snowflakes clumping together as they fell. It came down so hard you could barely see the road and the snow was accumulating fast. It was freezing on the windshield. The land around us was turning into a winter wonderland and we started watching for ice on the roads. Chris was very excited to see real heavy snowfall! We were approaching the last leg of the drive which was I-40. As we got to the highway, we saw red and blue lights flashing...the interstate was closed! The whole eastbound side of I-40 was closed. We stopped at a gas station in Ash Fork, AZ and carried in the old Rand McNally. The map showed a couple of back roads (gray on the map) which might get us to the Grand Canyon. The locals at the gas station said yes there is a back way, but do you have four wheel drive? Well, as a matter of fact, we do! There was a lady driving a Frito Lay truck which she had nicknamed "The Beast" who said she was going to try the back way and we told her we'd follow her. The directions were: follow Ranch Road AA until it forks and then take the right fork. It's 24 miles to Williams, AZ, and the roads are all mud. Sound like fun? We followed the Frito Lay truck for several miles. With the snow still falling it was getting hard to tell where the road was, everything was covered in snow! And this road had some pretty bad rocks and ruts in it. We could only drive at about 10 miles an hour. After about 20 minutes the Frito Lay truck turned around and told us, "I'm not sure if we're going the right way. I'm turning back." So we turned around also. The interstate was still closed and when we tried to ask the cops about an alternate route they told us to "Just go." So we started heading south again. There was another possible route, a mystery road on the Rand McNally (gray again) that heads through Drake, AZ. We found the road through Drake and turned off the highway. The road passed some factories or plants and quickly turned to a dirt road. At least the snow had stopped at this point, so we started down the muddy road. The Jeep was throwing up mud in every direction, the road was soft and slippery. In some places the Jeep would start to slip and we'd slide until the tires caught again. We kept thinking this road has to go somewhere! We saw other traffic on the mud road. We actually drove down this mud road for about 45 minutes and made it about 10 miles. It had started to snow again. The mud road didn't seem to be leading anywhere. The Jeep was so dirty you couldn't see at all through the layer of mud on the windows. We are starting to be suspicious of gray roads in the Rand McNally! We finally decided that the Grand Canyon didn't want us. Sometimes you just have to believe in fate; apparently we were not meant to make it to the Grand Canyon today.
We drove back to Prescott, AZ and found a hotel room at the historic St Michael. We had a great dinner at the St Michael's Bistro and met some nice people at the bar. We played in the snow at the city park, threw snowballs and made snow angels. We had some drinks on historic Whiskey Row. What an adventure! Maybe another time we'll actually get to the Grand Canyon!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
We walked around the cemetery at Boothill. Melissa's standing in front of the graves of the Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury. (The three Cowboys killed in the shootout.)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Today we visited Saguaro National Park in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Here are miles of desert and cactus every direction. The desert is framed by mountains silhouetted against a gray sky in the distance. You don't realize until you are here just how huge these cactus really are!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Arizona, here we come! :)
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Next we travelled to Bastrop State Park to meet Melissa's parents for a couple days' visit. The pine needles cover the ground here and soft golden Fall sunlight filters in between the trees. This was a lovely park with great hiking trails. If you ever get out this way check out the drive down Park Road 1C. It's a winding country road through thick forest for about 10 miles. The nights are getting cool now and we spent each night sitting around a glowing fire and drinking hot chocolate.
Next we'll stop in Austin and visit our storage facility. We now have a good idea of what we need and what we do not. I have a stack of stuff that can go into storage and we won't miss it at all!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
-installed alarm systems for propane and carbon monoxide leaks
-installed a battery monitor for electricity status
-killed off the ant colony that was taking over the kitchen
-fixed the rusty ding in the Jeep
-adapted our TV to run while boondocking
-rebuilt the levellers
The levellers were a Big Repair. And 3 of the 4 had completely failed. We couldn't get level anymore which meant when we parked we were sometimes at a weird angle - not good for using the sinks and shower! We actually had a leveller fall while we were driving down the highway once! That was scary so we had wired them up.
So now we are road ready again! We'll be heading to Houston tomorrow and our 5th anniversary is Nov the 13th!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sorry we haven't written to the blog lately; we've been underwater and under several dozen feet of solid rock! When we heard our friends from Austin were planning a trip to cave country in Florida, we realized we were so close to the TX/LA state line already that a trip to Marianna would only be about an 8 hour drive. Compared to our recent driving marathon, eight hours just seems like nothing! So we decided overnight to jump in the Jeep and drive to Florida. Our friends already had a place reserved and offered to let us stay with them for the steep price of a 6 pack of cerveza. An offer we couldn't refuse! We left Beaumont on Halloween morning and arrived in Marianna just after sunset. We spent 4 days diving Jackson Blue on the Mill Pond. I worked on increasing my confidence in cavern and cave diving, venturing a little further into the cave with each dive. Flow was down, water visibility was crystal, and the days were sunny and clear. Brian completed his Cavern Diver course, Ian and Chris had a great dive together, and I got to a point where I could relax and check out the millions of fossils in the cave. We never did make it to any of the other caves on the Mill Pond so next time we're out that way there will be plenty more to explore!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I've completed some repairs but between the weather, work, and getting sick I haven't been able to get as much done as I had hoped. We're bringing the motorhome to a hydraulics shop in the morning to have the levelers pulled off and rebuilt, one of the major repairs that we had scheduled to take care of while in Beaumont. I still have several electrical upgrades to make and one electrical gremlin to shake out.
It looks like we'll be leaving the Beaumont area and starting to head west again on the 12th or 13th of November. We're planning on spending our 5th anniversary (on the 13th) somewhere nice and then we may head to the Renaissance festival for that weekend. After that we'll be moving straight through Texas and New Mexico on I-10 heading to Arizona.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
On Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 (after 48 hours on the road) we finally arrived back in our hometown. We had decided to try to park the motorhome in Chris's parents' yard. So we drove up to the house and skinnied the RV into the yard between the telephone pole and the bayou and promptly got stuck. The ass-end of the RV is sticking 10 ft across Grandview Street and the wheels were just spinning in the mud. Oh, crap. This is a 24,000 pound vehicle. It's not like just calling for a tow. Hauling this thing requires an industrial tow truck. We tried shingles under the tires to give it some grip. The tires just ripped the shingles through and spit them out on the other side. We tried pouring cat litter into the mud. We were starting a rocking program (driving in a rhythm of forward and reverse to build up the momentum) when a guy in a F-150 drove up and offered to help. With the combination of Chris gunning the motorhome engine and the truck pulling us we managed to get out of the mud and back onto terra firma. We left some pretty nasty ruts in the Peterman yard!
Long story short, we tried 2 other RV parks in Nederland before giving up. One was full, the other had the electricity blocked and did not answer the phone when we called. It was so hot! We were sweating buckets by now; heat index in Beaumont was 104! And we'd been driving so hard we hadn't showered in 3 days. Yuck! We needed to find somewhere to park the RV and get to the hospital to see Chris's dad. We drove back to Beaumont and shelled out the bucks for a week at the RV park we stayed at last time we were in Beaumont. We can't afford to stay at this place the whole time we're in Beaumont but we were exhausted and had reached the limit of our endurance.
Now Chris's dad is doing much better. We're getting discharged today!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
The blogs will probably slow down for a while but I'll keep y'all up to date!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
We got home early to prepare for some diving at Blue Hole in NM the next day.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
A picture to prove that we really were there.
The balloons heading off into the sunrise.
After the balloon festivities we went shopping and picked up a lot of RV items we've been needing (and a couple we were coveting.) Camping World seems to be the Wal-Mart of RV'ing, we just can't get away from them.
We're taking steps to move our way off the grid. It looks like we may have solar panels installed in November and may try to stay at super cheap "extended stay" areas with no water/sewer connections or electricity for several months this winter in California. Melissa's researching solar ovens, if you or anyone you know has used one let us know.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Chris and I are still working on a name for our rig. Today we thought of "Viva Nueva" as a good name. We know that this rig is taking us to a whole new kind of living. We're relishing life, unfettered and free. Plus I'm learning Spanish right now. The word "viva" in Spanish has a much larger definition than just "the state of being alive." It means living unencumbered, enjoying life, being active, intense, kindled, and pure. So that's why I like Viva Something. Comment if you have any other good ideas... We're still working on it.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Here's a weird factiod: when we drove into this park we were told that we are on Reservation land and in this territory it is illegal to POSSESS alcohol! We didn't throw the beer out but we won't be drinking it outside while we're here!
We also have to get a satellite dish repair while we're here. It should still be a warranty item since its a brand new dish! We'll see what happens.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Truth or Consequences, NM has natural hot springs all over the place. Most of them are owned by fru-fru spas that charge an arm and a leg to use their "healing waters." Melissa tracked down a beautiful hot spring that was $10 per person for a public dip or $15 per person for a private spring. The water was 106 degrees and crystal clear. Our private terrace overlooked the Rio Grande and mountains in the distance. I've been constantly working since we arrived in Elephant Butte and it was nice to finally relax a little.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Melissa wrote her name in the sand and got this picture of me standing in front of the landscape. Check out the sandstorm in the background!
The sand is very fine and was actually really cool (as in cold) to the touch, even in 90 degree heat.
I got to bury myself halfway under the sand.
Looks like a snow angel but it's made of sand. We had a lot of fun here and will be going back in the next couple of days to play some more (we can actually go sledding! down the dunes), hike a bit, and do a sunset tour. This place is like a huge playground and made us feel (and act) like kids again. :)