Thursday, January 28, 2016

Days 20-23 On the Road (Resting Along the Colorado River)

It’s been pretty quite around here since we left the desert huh? That’s because we have been resting and regrouping. I have been under the weather for a few days. I can tell you that being sick on the road is no fun. There were many things that I never considered about being ill on the road and I wasn’t prepared. Now I know and will certainly stock up on the ‘under the weather’ essentials for me and the kids. 

It’s also been pretty quite because I am working, at least in my head, on some major moves. Some interesting ideas have ‘popped up’ mixed with the ideas that were already floating around in my head and instead of pushing them to the side, I have decided to act on them. Heck, I’m already in the business of chasing my dreams right? Why not go for the gusto and chase them all. So I have been quiet while I think and plan, develop.

You haven’t missed much honestly (besides us smashing our goal of reaching California). We left the desert on Monday morning continuing our route west. We drove for the next forty minutes until we came to a town called Parker, AZ. We stopped at the super walmart and restocked our RV. Two hours and $191 later we stumbled out of walmart and continued our journey. Fifteen minutes from that walmart we crossed the California border. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment to drive past that ‘Welcome to California’ sign. We devoured our doubts and fears and conquered a huge goal, crossed a monumental milestone.  It took us twenty days on the road and 2,254 miles to get here but we are here!

We are resting at a campground resort called Colorado Rivers. It’s a really nice place and is giving us (or rather me) the opportunity to settle for a bit and recover both physically and mentally. 

When we leave here in a few days we will continue west towards Los Angeles. The kids are really eager to see the city and I’m eager to show it to them. The challenge is finding an affordable place to stay. From my preliminary research camping sites in LA range from $65 a might to $350 a night. That is complete lunacy, at least for my budget. I did find some spots that were around $35 a night but the locations are questionable so I will continue the search. We may end up staying further away from the city and will just rent a car and drive in. These are the types of decisions that have to be made on the road lol. It doesn’t seem like much but can become stressful, especially when you move around as much as we do. I feel like I’m constantly on the search for our next camping spot.

We will probably only stay in LA for a couple of days before pushing off and heading north. We will travel as far north as we can before the weather tells us to stop. I’m not a big fan of the cold so when we hit freezing temperatures I will be turning this rig around and heading back to warming climates.

So, I say all of this to say, you may not hear much from us over the next couple of days as we enjoy our time resting at this campground resort. I will be posting about other things but not so much about our journey until we are driving again.

So until we are back on the road… peace, love, and get plenty of rest.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Boondocking: We're Off Grid

I'm so excited to be writing this post. This post is all about boondocking and I'm excited to say we are actually doing it. So what is "it" you ask? Well boondocking is the term used to describe living in your rig outside of a campground, RV park, or any other place that offers basic amenities like electric or water. It is living completely off grid. 

We've lived off grid before and survived. The extent of that experience was dry camping in a Walmart parking lot for the night. Wait! What?!? What's the difference between boondocking and dry camping you're probably wondering. Or maybe you aren't, but I'm going to attempt to tell you anyway. Boondocking is being completely off grid on undeveloped lands in remote locations. It is away from public commercial spaces and even private developed spaces. Like now, we are camped on this dry open land with only the light of the moon shining down on us. There no parking spaces, no narrow lanes to navigate through. We just drove our rig across the hard, compact desert sand and chose a spot. Most significantly is there is no noise. No noise from other campers, or sounds from the highway or even noise of the town for that matter. The only sound I hear are my kids playing and the occasional yap of someone's dog somewhere in the distance. 

Dry camping, on the other hand, is parking your rig in the parking lot of a store, restaurant or other commercial property or in the driveway of a private residence. Dry camping is not being completely off-grid. You still have access to resources such as a pavement to park your rig on, lights from the city or establishment you are parked at, you can run into a store for necessities, or connect to a local business wifi. 

I'm sure there are better explanations about this but what I just described at least gives you the gist of it. 

So we are actually boondocking tonight. We are in the middle of the desert somewhere in Arizona (don't worry...I know where we are but don't want to give away to much information on our whereabouts). We are surrounded by sand, rocks, and cacti and a few other rigs. We are here on BLM land (bureau of land management) where we can legally stay parked for 14 consecutive days. There is no running water, no light poles, nothing but us and the land. It's completely exhilarating and I am so excited to be doing it. 

I'm a bit nervous living off of just our house battery. I've never been in a situation to have to find out how long it lasts before needing to be recharged. I connected my solar panel to it this morning but again haven't tested that either. With no working generator I don't know how long we can last out here. My other concern was the amount of water I was able to fill the tank with. We haven't had to test how much water we consume on a regular basis so I don't know how long a tank full will last us. Even though I have some unanswered questions about our survival... Ha! I make it sound like we are lost in the wilderness. We can actually start this baby up and drive away anytime we feel like it so we are not actually "surviving" but you know what I mean. So even though I have some unanswered questions about our survival I couldn't be more excited to be doing this right now. 

I wasn't sure how the kids would handle it but they are troopers and taking not having *gasp* electronics to keep them entertained with a grain of salt. They are laugh, playing, and entertaining each other on their own which makes this moment that much more special. 

All in all I must close by saying I have a new respect for western pioneers. The desert is treacherous and doing what we're doing tonight but with a lot less resources is admirable. 

When we wake up in the morning having survived the night I know then I'll be ready for my spot on Naked and Afraid... I write from the queen sized bed in the bedroom of my home on wheels lol. 

Until we see you on the road or somewhere around the globe... Peace, Love, and Boondock


Days 16-18 on the the road: Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone is an amazing little town so full of such an interesting and rich history. It's as if it has been preserved in a time capsule for the last 135 years. 

It's a place that certainly should be added to your bucklist of places to visit if you haven't already. 

It was the stuff dreams are made of for my six year old (as well as my ten and thirteen year old)... Cowboys, gunslingers, gun fights, miners, horses, ghosts, heroes and bad guys. My six year old, who now only responds to being called Doc Holiday, couldn't get enough. It's the only place on this trip so far that has truly captivated him. I can't do it just in my description of the place so I'll finish this post with pictures (that, too, probably can't do it justice).

Until the next post... Peace from the City to Tough to Die!


Me and my Jr Outlaws running from the law

Can you believe he gave these kids a gun?!?!
Getting the 'stache trimmed at the Tombstone Mustachery
Nice! He wanted to look like Doc Holiday. Pretty good match don't ya think?
Some original artifacts from Tombstones wild west days
At the Birdcage... It's history is worth looking up. The wildest, raunchiest, rowdiest place in the country
Going down under to see where it all began
Mining with the Miner
Doc Holiday showin 'em whose boss
Running those cowboys out of town
Because... why not?!?!
A buffalo burger, fries, and sarsaparilla- Tombstones staple 
Ummmmmmm.... I have nothing for this one

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Days 14-16 On the Road: What Do Caves, Aliens, and Sand Dunes Have in Common?

We were sad to leave San Antonio. The people, the food, the culture, and especially the weather but the journey had to continue.

Kids enjoying swimming outdoors (on the day it snowed back in NC)
 We hit the road and traveled from San Antonio to Fort Stockton, TX. It took about 7 hours for a 4 hour journey but it was nice to not be stressed about the time. We just rolled and stopped when we needed to. Unfortunately we "needed to" because my check engine light came on. I pulled into a tiny gas station with no working gas pumps in the middle of nowhere TX to try to figure out what was going on. As I popped my hood a man, who had broke down a mile or so back, happened to be walking by and asked if he could help. He checked my oil and the look on his face said it all. "No oil. You have no oil. Zero". Oops! He showed me how to figure out what type of oil I needed and I went in the store and bought three bottles of it. I dumped in two of the bottles, fished the oil cap from wherever I had accidentally knocked it and started her up. She purred, thankful for the liquid and the check engine light went off. We hit the road again and drove for several more hours until the light came on again. This time it was dark and I pulled over on the side of the road. It was terrifying! The big semi trucks whizzing by on my right, the darkness of the dessert and all the creatures that live there on my left. I quickly checked the oil, which read full, jumped back in the rig and just decided to see how far we could make it. Fortunately we made it all the way to Fort Stockton. We found a Passport America park for only $15, plugged in and settled down for the night. I figured I would worry about what's under the hood and the blinkers (oh I forgot to mention my blinkers just stopped working) in the morning. In the morning I checked everything, everything was fine (including the blinkers) and we were off.

The nothingness for miles and miles and miles through Texas
 The drive from Fort Stockton to Carlsbad, NM was long and boring up route 238. There was nothing but oil fracking along the way. No trees, no animals, no buildings, just oil stuff and trucks. We stopped for gas about 40 miles outside of Fort Stockton in a town called Pecos. Leaving we were stopped by the train and decided to turn left to explore their downtown instead of waiting. We actually found a place to park our big rig and decided to get out. We found a cute little museum on Pecos town history and learned about its days as a frontier town, with saloons and gun slingers.
Clay the Gunfighter's grave (Pecos)

Jerry Heard, the Saloon owner (Pecos)
 Back on the road we pushed along with not much to see. We traveled along Route 238 for 120 miles. Can you imagine 120 miles of nothingness? Well, that's what you get along that route. The scenery was beautiful though and I was able to stop and get some pretty good shots.
flame from the oil fracking in the background

Guadalupe Mtns I believe. We had just entered NM here

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery
We finally made it to Carlsbad around 1:30p (because we actually lost an hour by crossing into the Mtn time zone). We checked into the White City RV park and headed up the mountain to the cave. The 7 mile drive up the mountain was... well, interesting in our big ole rig. We made it though and was glad to see other rigs up there as well.

The view from the parking lot as spectacular.  If it was this great just in the parking lot I couldn't wait to get inside.
views from the Carlsbad Caverns parking lot

views from the Carlsbad Caverns parking lot
 We checked in and decided to head straight to the caves before exploring the museum. The cave was amazing. It was a self guided tour but there were park rangers at the entrance to warn you about how treacherous it is. And he was right, it was the most treacherous cave we have done yet. The entrance leads you straight down into the cave via a winding path. Once inside the cave you continue straight down through winding paths that circle around the most gorgeous geologic features you may have ever seen. The stalagmites grew mighty from the ground and the stalagtites hung from the ceiling like geologic chandeliers. It was gorgeous. The walk down was steep and definitely not for the faint of heart and the walk back up was three times as bad as going down. Now I know I'm no athlete and I can stand to get in better shape but I had no idea that cave was gonna kick my but the way it did. Even the kids had to stop and rest several times. We all came out of our sweaters and sweated our way back to the top in our t-shirts. It was rough but it was so totally worth it. We conquered Carlsbad Caverns and didn't let it Conquer Us!!!
Going into the Cave

Going into the Cave

After the cave we checked in to a camp site at White's City RV. The customer service was horrible and it was made clear they did not want nor value our business so we pack up and left. We drove two hours and found a nice little park near Roswell.

We got up early this morning (7:30a to be exact... I think the time change has us all off wack) and cleaned the RV a little before heading to downtown Roswell to go look for aliens. The International UFO Museum and Research Center was very fun. We learned about the Roswell UFO crash of 1947 and I must admit it is pretty convincing.

After the museum we toured some of the neighboring shops and picked up a few alien trinkets for the road. We made our way into the El Toro Bravo bakery and it was on. We piled our tray high full of pastries, both those we recognized and those we didn't. We couldn't wait to get back to the RV to begin stuffing our faces.

Our next stop was Carlsbad, NM to see the white sand dunes. The two hour drive there was uneventful. We stopped to snap photos of the beautiful scenery along the way and tasted fresh tamales from the only gas station in the small town (population 702) of Hondo, New Mexico.

About twenty miles outside of the dunes we came across the world's largest pistachio so of course we had to stop. I mean that's what this trip is all about right? Stopping to see the randomness of the country. We tasted more varieties of pistachios than I could have ever imagined existed. We bought some yummy pistachio brittle and were on our way.

The white sand dunes were AMAZING. They looked exactly like how I saw them in the photos that first made me want to visit. The only difference was the views that were not shown in the photos were absolutely stunning. The San Andres Mountains that lined the horizon were breathtaking.  The kids and I had a blast sliding down the dunes for the next hour until we were completely exhausted.

After the dunes the kids and I decided to keep pushing west and ended up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We are now snuggled into our campsite here and about to get some sleep.

Tomorrow we plan to push into Arizona to visit Tombstone... I'm excited to see a wild west shoot out. Of course I'll post pics but until them or until I see you on the road... Peace, Love, and Blessings!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's Not All Fun and Games

I’m on a domestic and international travel year with my three kids. If you follow me on Facebook or like my pictures on Instagram you already know about this journey that I'm on. You've seen the pictures of my smiling, happy children. You seen the pictures of some of the amazing places we've been to. Heck, you even know what we have planned for the rest of the year regarding this travel journey. It is true we are having the most amazing time. But I have a confession. I feel I've misled you in some ways. I haven’t lied to you or anything like that. It’s just that I haven’t given you the complete and total truth. So let me clear this up right here and right now.

I keep getting told how amazing I am for doing this with my kids and how brace, and what a great mom I am but please let me be the first to tell you that it ain't easy. 

What you're seeing is a lot of the good and none of the bad. You’re not seeing us camped out in the airport on a seven hour delay or me having to negotiate the price of food in a language that I barely speak. I’m not posting the pics of my kids bickering, or of me yelling about them cleaning up their mess for the bazillionth time. You're not seeing the long long driving days when we don’t see anything cool, just the open road mile after mile after mile. I haven’t shared with you how scared I was pulled over on the side of the dark, spooky highway terrified I was either going to get flattened by a semi in front of my children or eaten by a coyote that was most  certainly about to jump out of the darkness at any second. I didn’t post that I was out there on the side of the highway because I had to check my oil because the check engine light came on (for the second time in the last several hours and the first time it was due to having no, and I mean zero, oil in the engine…oops!). You can't hear the phone calls I'm on dealing with issues back in Charlotte. You don't get to see us muling over our schoolwork (both the kids and I). I’m to tired to tell you about last night when I had to console a crying child who had a nightmare and let him squeeze into the already tiny bed with me causing me to get very little sleep (or the time before that or the time before that one). I’m not showing you photos of my suddenly broken generator or leaking propane line that now I can't turn on for fear of blowing us up. There's no way for you to know about the moments when I'm frustrated because I'm lost and can't turn this big RV around and nothing seems to be going right. 

And all of this stuff is just as real to us as are the amazing places you see in my pictures. This is our way of life for now and we are living it. A friend recently commented that "oh you're on vacation..." And I had to kindly yet firmly explain that this is not a vacation, this is our life. Our home is on our back (either in the RV or in our backpacks) and we are living on the road and around the globe (which dredges up a whole other list of concerns) for the next however many months. There are ups and downs just like everyone has in their day-to-day lives. So I don’t want you to get the wrong impression from my pictures and posts and think that it’s all fun and games. As much as I wish it was… it is not!

Hour 11 of a 22 hr travel day... still smiling but not for long

Don't get me wrong, it is utterly amazing to be on the open road, freely traveling the country and the globe but it definitely has its challenges. So let me apologize if I have made this look to easy. I'm sorry if I've made things look perfect because they're not always. The road can be tough and bumpy (literally and figuratively). We learn to adjust and keep it moving but we honestly wouldn't have it any other way right now!

Thanks for joining us on this journey so far and I hope you continue to follow. 

Until I see you on the road or somewhere around the globe... Peace, love, and keep it real!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Days 8-11 On the Road (Bdays, zoos, museums, and more)

Let me begin this blog by saying I am in LOVE with San Antonio, TX. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the food, the atmosphere… aaaaahhhhhh! I just can’t get enough. But before I jump into that let me back this up a bit. Ok! Where to start? For starters, my baby is 6years old. He celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. We woke and and he and I snuck off for a breakfast together, just he and I. We celebrated with our friends during the ay and chuck made Nay’s favorite meal (grilled burgers) that evening. Nay played hard and overall had a wonderful day. It was tough to leave our friends the next day. The kids were so sad to go. They are already planning when we can visit Mobile again.

He's a big boy 6y old now!

Getting on the road was smooth and easy. We jumped on I-10 a couple of miles from our friend’s house and it was smooth sailing. We drove into Mississippi where we found an RV dump station on a rest stop. After emptying our tanks and using the restroom we were back on the road. The next couple of hours were easy. I drove until I was tired and that placed us right outside of Lake Charles, LA. I called around and found a campground, Cajun Palms. We set up camp and then settled in for the night. We were up early the next day. We started the process of cleaning of the RV. When we left we were just throwing stuff in here just to hit the road. It finally came time to face the piles of stuff and find a place for everything. We spent the first three hours of the morning sorting and organizing and then we were off toward Houston.

We arrived in Houston around 3p. We had planned on heading straight to the Houston Space Center but we would have only had an hour and at $90 for my family to get in that was not an option. The cost of the space center was prohibitive and we decided to use our reciprocal passes to the children’s museum and Houston zoo. With this new change of plans we back tracked and head west toward the city. 

We found a large public parking lot and took a chance and parked there. It was only two blocks from the museum in an area called the museum district. For the next three hours we played, tinkered, built, and created at the Children’s Museum and had an amazing time. The museum was really great and I highly recommend it to anyone passion through the area. My 6 year old, 10 year old and even 13 year old all loved it.

After the museum we called around for a campground and found one that had one spot left. We snatched up that spot and after a little confusion we parked and settled in for the night.

I was able to get up and get us packed up while the kids were still sleeping. I maneuvered through the city without waking them up and found a place to park in the large, empty parking lot of the zoo. The kids were excited to wake up at the zoo. I loved traveling with our house on our back.

We really really enjoyed Houston Zoo. We used our reciprocal pass and save $60 but it would have been worth it if we had not. We saw lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh My! My two youngest feda giraffe and we were not impressed with his tongue lol.

When we returned to Sammie Blue after the zoo we were surprised to see our RV surrounded by cars. We were trapped. With the help of this nice family, whom I’m eternally grateful to, we inched our way out without causing any major damage to any other vehicles.

We got on the road and headed straight to San Antonio. It was s month and easy three hour drive with nothing but a vastness of green land and cows to look at along the way. We got to our campground and settled in. We met and chatted with the neighbors and then we were off to catch the city bus downtown. The Riverwalk of San Antonio is wonderful. The kids and I enjoyed a guided boat ride around the river, we had some awesome Mexican food from a food truck on Main St, and watched the most amazing light show at the Cathedral of San Fernando. We did get a little lost trying to get back to the bus stop but that was not a nerve wrecking experience. Nothing about San Antonio made me want to clutch my purse or my peals and se we moseyed around until with located the correct stop.

We made it back to the RV safe and sound.  I’m super excited to see the Alamo tomorrow and to settle in here for the next couple of days. The driving is starting to get exhausting. I think I’m going to start slowing down and pacing myself. The goal was to get to California by the 21 but now I feel like if we make it great and if not that’s ok. Now that we are in an area that we have never visited I don’t want to let to much pass us by.

Until we see you on the road or somewhere around the globe… peace, love, and RVing