Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Playing in the sand

Today we went to White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, NM. The dunes are up to 70' tall and the wind blows them constantly in an ever-changing landscape.

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. :)

-Chris

Laundry and a beautiful sunset

New Mexico is known as the land of enchantment and I can see why as I watch the sun set here. Each night the setting sun is a masterpiece, and no two evenings are the same. I'm thankful to be able to enjoy a glorious sunset even as I do tasks as mundane as laundry.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tarrantula!

He was crossing the road, I don't know why! Do you?

The new view

We're now nestled in at the foot of a little mountain range in Oliver Lee State Park, NM. We're having some technical difficulities...one A/C is out, the transmitter on the satellite is slower than molasses in January, and the bigfoot levelling system is having trouble. We'll be here working it all out! Plus I really need to do some laundry! Life goes on even when you're living the dream... But now we don't mind these problems so much as when we were all stressed out all the time. :)

7500 ft altitude

We passed through our first mountain range today, how cool! There were pines and casinos and cool mountain scenery! We're on our way to Alamogordo, NM.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Aliens in the Boondocks

Yesterday we took the day to move to a new park in the same general area of NM. At this new park we're finally living off the grid with no electricity, water, or sewage hookups. In RV'ing terms this is known as "boondocking". We'll be living like this more as we get into the boondocks! And the great part about boondocking is that its usually incredibly cheap or free! This park is only $5 per day to boondock. And all the people here are very, very friendly!

Today we went to Roswell, NM and visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center there. It was really neat! It is a very small privately owned museum. If you are ever in the area its worth checking out. It will make you believe!



Friday, September 25, 2009

Things we've learned about New Mexico...

- The hot sauce is really ketchup with sugar and cilantro in it.
- Cheese enchiladas come with a bonus inside, lots of diced onions.
- Air conditioners are conveniently placed on everyone's roof. Probably sucks to be an A/C tech around here.
- The architecture is pretty nice, no cookie cutter McMansions around here.
- Ringtails do exist.
- When confronted with a Jeep, cows will stand very still and try to blend in with the pavement.
- You can't fart in Carlsbad Caverns without people 1/4 of a mile away hearing it.
- The Big Room is reeeally big and is a looong walk, and it's well worth it.



-

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Escaping Texas isn't easy!

We've finally crossed the state line and escaped Texas! We had to detour around a construction area and had to drive 50 miles off our expected route today! Hwy 285 is apparently under construction and there was a sign warning of a weight limit bridge: 11,000 lbs. We weigh 22,000 so we had to turn off and drive all the way back east to the next road into NM. That made our expected 2 hour hop into a long 4 hour drive. We also found what may be the bumpiest road in New Mexico! You know the roads called "other road" on the Rand McNally (in gray)? That should be replaced with "maybe its a road...mostly"! We did get to see some cool salt flats. Now we're comfortably parked at Brentley State Park, right outside Carlsbad Caverns. Our new kitchen window view includes a desert plain and a nice little lake and an incredibly blue sky!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Purple mountains majesty

Neither pictures nor words can describe the way I feel as I look around me at the mountains I can see in the distance through every window of my home here. There is an amazing breeze blowing through the open windows and door. Its a perfect day with brilliant blue skies, warm temp, and a future teeming with possibilities. I'm on the brink. I'm perched at the top of the hill with my foot caressing the pedal...
We'll spend a couple days here checking out the sights and get a few dives in and then we'll finally escape Texas and head into New Mexico!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The new kitchen window view

We're at Balmorhea State park, fixing to go diving at this little desert oasis. Last stop in Texas!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Off We Go. Well, Maybe Tomorrow.

After meeting up with us and visiting over the weekend Melissa's parents left this morning and we were going to head out shortly afterward. Unfortunately our mail hasn't arrived yet so we're having to stay in Sonora for another day to wait for it to catch up. We will be heading to Balmorhea State Park for some no-stress diving among endangered pupfish and Mexican Tetras sometime tomorrow. After that we're planning on taking a turn to the north to make our first stop outside of Texas at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

-Chris

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Caverns of Sonora



We're now in west Texas visiting the Caverns of Sonora. This is a place we've been wanting to see for a couple of years now. My family drove their trailer out here and we're doing a combo sight-seeing and visiting family. We live next door to Mom and Dad again! For a few days, anyway. The RV park here is very quiet and the caves were gorgeous!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More war stories

So today started with me dinging the Jeep (described in gory detail below) and continued along the same track. Later in the day we missed a turn and had to do a U-turn. We found a truckwash with a huge driveway to turn into. So we turned in and surprisingly ground to a sudden stop! The Jeep was still hanging out in the middle of the street and we're stuck on something! So instead of completing the turn Chris straightened out the wheel and with a little prayer and some gas the RV inched forward. We pulled forward into a truck wash bay. We got out to figure out what had happed and discovered a nice chunk of asphalt on our tow ball. The road had a small drainage trench on the side of the road and the truckwash was on a little rise. So we had gotten the tow bar into a "V" and the tow ball had been dragging on the pavement. Luckily there seemed to be no damage!
So then we notice that we have a new problem. One of the carwash hoses is wrapped around Chris's cell-booster antenna. We broke the antenna in attempting to free it. :( but Chris says he thinks he can fix it. I said its not that big of a deal; even if we have to buy a new one that is a small price to pay for our valuable driving lessons of the day!
Now we're having a well-deserved drink in Fredericksburg. We are planning to stop at a museum in the morning and then head west again. Hopefully tomorrow will be less eventful!

An itsy bitsy oopsy

Today I was driving the rig to the dump station and Chris was following in the Jeep. This is only my second time to drive the rig. I negotiated all the turns, pulled us up to the dump station, and Chris gave me the "ok" sign. He then proceeded to back the Jeep up and put it behind the motorhome to get us hooked up for towing. I put the rig in Park (well, I thought I did) and took my foot off the brake. On our ghetto rig the Park sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. It has been working lately and we thought it had spontaneously repaired itself. Another goofy thing about the transmission is that the gear label is slightly off center, so its kinda hard to tell what gear you are actually in. Well, I was either in broken Park or was in Reverse because the ghetto rig slid backwards and slammed into the Jeep. Luckily the Jeep has super duty bumpers and its just a little ding. This is all part of the learning curve!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The trouble with being homeless

Receiving mail has been quite a challenge for us. You can't exactly receive mail at your campsite! We have a mail forwarding service who collects our mail and forwards it to us wherever we are. We usually have our mail forwarded to General Delivery in whatever city we are going to be in next week. Today I am spending my day sitting around at my sister's house (while she's at work) waiting for UPS to deliver a GPS we ordered online. Of course it was sent "signature required". We need this GPS unit asap to help us navigate unfamiliar roads and not end up lost, stuck under a low clearance bridge, or on other not-RV-friendly roads. Its not like we can just turn around easily! This GPS software, Copilot, lets you input your vehicle height, length, and weight and will pick your route with those limitations. We are 12'6" ht, 40' length, and 22,000 lbs.
UPS should deliver sometime between 8 am and 7 pm tonight. I hate waiting!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hung up dry

We found this guy at a cute little country bar and he looked thirsty to me so I gave him a drink!

The view out our window today

We're at Lake Somerville south of Bryan, TX. We're visiting my sister and her husband before we head west. I recomend this park for anyone who wants some peace and quiet. The lake is beautimous!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why we start early

Here is a picture of the wiring harness that allows the Jeep's brake lights and turn signals to work while in tow. Unfortunately this morning it did not work. We realized the problem as soon as we hooked the Jeep up to it's tow bar at 7 AM. Luckily Chris is awesome and he was able to fix it right up so we could travel!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A wrench in the gears

We were all packed up to leave Southeast Texas Friday the 11th but at 8 pm on Thurs Chris got an email from his boss about a big project tomorrow! Well, there's no way Chris can drive and work at the same time so we'll be here an extra day for Chris to do some work. The best laid plans often go astray!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More rain...

Thank god for Jeeps!!!

The rain is coming down!

This is a picture of the windshield of the jeep as we drive through flooded Beaumont. The water was about a foot deep or more!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Signs you're in Southeast Texas

We've seen some great signs here. There was a huge billboard of Jesus. I snapped a picture of on of my favorites, the 9-1-1 sign, for the blog. We just left Walmart where these guys were preaching in the parking lot via PA system on their truck.

Friday, September 4, 2009

This week's kitchen view

We are in Beaumont to visit Chris's family and do some repairs on the rig. Nice view at Hidden Lake RV Park. See the duckies?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lots of tall trees here

We went on a hike next to the lake this evening. The trees are about a hundred feet tall here! It smells so nice: pine sap, campfires, and a rainstorm heading in. It was a relaxing day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Finally Here in the Middle of Nowhere!

We've arrived in Davey Crockett National Park (east Texas). No other campers here to be seen! Today was an adventure. We picked out our route carefully on a paper map, choosing I-20 east out of Dallas to Hwy 69 South to the park. According to the map Hwy 69 is a multi-lane highway the whole way to Lufkin. When we got to Tyler, TX on 69 we started seeing signs that say "No Thru Trucks". Oh no! What does that mean? What are the height clearances on this road?! You'd think that should be readily available information, but it's not! It turned out Tyler isn't too bad, there were some low-hanging cables and stoplights and one turn that was pretty sharp for this rig. On the other side of Tyler we found the truck route around the city that would have been better for a big vehicle like ours. It has taught us the value of a good navigation system. MS Copilot is apparently the only one that will (mostly) navigate you around low clearance obstacles and weight restriction bridges. Wish I had budgeted for that! :)
This has been a LONG day on the road! Crockett, TX apparently is capable of moving farther away from an approaching RV! I reached my max stress level about a hundred miles ago!
Time for some R&R.

Life is good!

I started my day with a nice brisk walk. Dallas climate is awesome, it was about 70 degrees at 9! It's getting close to check-out time now. I'm eating a turkey sandwich for lunch. Chris is on the phone working with an office in Florida. After we finish our tasks we're going to unhook our utilities and hit the road. Now we're heading to Davey Crockett Nat'l Forest (he's still King of the Wild Frontier!) We're not sure what's going to happen for the weekend, we just realized most places are booked for Labor Day weekend. Oh well, that's still a few days away and I guess we'll figure something out before then. I'll write and post pics of the forest when we get there!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

LIVE via satellite!

The satellite dish installation went well. Roger and Phil from Global Satellite Solutions in Arlington, TX did a great job and got us up and running in no time. We can now connect to the Internet anywhere between southern Mexico and Alaska (all of North America), no matter how far out in the boonies we are since the dish both sends and receives data. This was the last thing we needed to start our trip. Tomorrow we leave for Beaumont to visit family and friends, we should get there on Thursday after an overnight stop somewhere between Dallas and Beaumont.

-Chris

The satellite dish!

The drive to Dallas went ok except the part where I almost wrecked the truck on the way here by changing lanes without looking! Luckily the other driver had her coffee this morning. ;)
Now Phil's wife just drove away with the truck. Goodbye truck! It has served us well. Phil and Chris are installing the dish on the roof of the RV. This dish is BIG! It's probably 3-4 ft in diameter. Chris is going to seal up a little leak in the roof while he's up there too. Yay for no more leaky roof! and Double Yay for reliable internet service so Chris can do his work!