Not all who wander are lost.

Posts by Jenny

Headed South

The other day Jason and I were trying to remember a day when we both felt good at the same time and its been awhile.  Jason got sick with Bronchitis soon after we got to Colorado (in November) and it hung on forever.  Just as it seemed as though he was starting to feel a little better, I (the person who never gets sick) ended up coming down with this awful cold/flu thing just in time for Christmas and its been with me ever since.  We’ve had some days where we felt okay, and others where we felt like complete crud but it hardly gave us the motivation to update the blog or much else. We did have a couple good days we were able to get out and ride our bikes, only to be completely drained when we got back.  I wonder if we’re actually picking different illnesses up as we go along since we’ve been traveling so much.  I think we’ve finally turned the corner though and even though this cough seems to have taken up permanent residence in my lungs, we’re able to get out and enjoy the area a little more finally.  And feeling well or not, waking up to the blue skies of Florida and ocean just out our front window is far better in our minds than being so cold in Iowa. We’re hoping to get everything caught up within the next few days.

One of our first stops on the way here was in Nashville at a place called Redkite Bicycle Studio.  Ron, at Skunk River Cycles in Ames had located another Raleigh Sojourn and since we were headed southeast anyway, picking it up worked out perfectly and saved us a ton of money in shipping.  These guys are actually more into the racing aspect of biking but they had the bike we were looking for and they were getting all tweaked and ready to go when we walked in.  We were immediately greeted by Patrick and Shannon and the first order of business here is to share stories and get to know each other a bit over coffee or a beer, depending on the hour of the day.  We hung around for a little while talking about bikes and complaining about the frigid temperatures we’d just left.  I don’t know why they did it, but they only charged us cost for the bike.  In other words, these bikes usually cost around $1300.00 but they charged us only just over $700!  I don’t know if it was because we shared our story with them, or if they just wanted to get the bike out of the showroom but given some of the luck we’d had recently we were reminded that there are still some caring and decent people out there.  I don’t know if we’ll ever make it over there again but we would gladly spend our money there if we ever decided to add racing as one of our hobbies.

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We wanted to get out of the car and stretch our legs a bit so we scoured TripAdvisor looking for something to see in the area. I gotta say, when you’re on the road an Iphone and TripAdvisor are the best thing there is when looking for something to do or somewhere to stay.  We stumbled across a place called Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama.  Its located on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey, which is the only Benedictine monastery of men in Alabama.  We stopped to pay admission and met Brother Christopher who shared the story with us.  On the site of a former quarry that was used by the Abbey,  the grotto was opened in 1934 to display the works of Brother Joseph Zoetl who came to the Abbey in 1892 where he spent his life in prayer and working in the powerhouse.  When he wasn’t shoveling coal, he was creating miniature replicas of famous buildings and churches from all parts of the world using stone, concrete and and other found or donated objects like broken plates, jewelry, seashells or the like.  They were built and installed along the hillsides of a 2 block pathway in the gardens of the monastery.  What I found amazing was that of all these 100’s of little buildings and structures he had only actually seen 6 of them in person. The rest were inspired by photos people had sent or just printed descriptions.  I couldn’t imagine how he was able to create these in such detail only using a written description.   He started his first structure 1912 and continued on even after a back injury caused him to have a haunch back and completed his last work in 1958 at age 80 which was miniature of Lourdes Basilica Church. The difference in his craftsmanship from his first work to his last is very distinct.   As we walked around we were completely overwhelmed with the sheer number of these things.  We could stand in front of a small portion of the hillside and look for a half hour and still not see every creation in the 4 foot section before us.

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Out of all them a couple of my favorites were Vatican City where you can see things like St Peters Basilica and The Colosseum just to the upper right..

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…and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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I loved finding this unexpected treasure along the highway in Alabama.  I find myself constantly drawn to the unusual, less publicized places that people have created with their own two hands for no reason but to share their passion of something for anyone who cares to go find it.  If you find yourself along I 65 near Cullman Alabama, take a break, get out of the car, and fork over the $4 and go see this place. Talk with Brother Christopher who will tell you the story about how the  F4 tornado of 2011 ripped through the city stopping only a block from the Abbey before it abruptly changed directions, or how the huge tree fell in the garden missing many of the structures in the grotto by inches proving to him that the Abby is a safe and sacred place.  Don’t forget to stop at the gift shop before you leave and pick up some Mystic Monk Coffee and some Strawberry Rhubarb preserves!

We arrived in Laguna Beach, FL which is right by Panama City Beach and we’ll be here through the end of January.  Even though we aren’t right on the beach, we can look out the window every morning and see it right across the street which is good enough for us.  After getting yelled at on our first day here by an old busy-body dude, we found out pretty early that most of the beach front here is dog UN-friendly but there is a dog beach just a few miles up the road.  After speaking with the locals we found that most of them take their dogs anyway. Yesterday we were feeling like rebels so we took them down for a little bit and luckily didn’t face an encounter with anyone else who chose to set us straight.  Jude loves the water and looked like a little kid trying to body surf.  Lucy….not so much. She ran like hell every time she heard a wave crash.  We’re hoping to extend our stay for a little while but haven’t decided how long or where we want to go.  All we know is that we aren’t ready for the bitter, nose hair freezing air in Iowa just yet.

 

30 Minutes in Desert Hot Springs, CA

 

Raleigh Sojourn

We have taken a little break from our wandering as we had to get some things taken care of back in Iowa.  We’ve been a little busy with that and the holidays so haven’t had much time for updating the blog or much else for that matter so we’ll be trying to catch everything up over the next few days.

Prior to our arrival in Palm Springs our plan was to spend 4 nights in a city about 20 minutes away, Desert Hot Springs, CA.  There was a hotel there that was pretty reasonable and had 7 natural hot springs pools so we were looking forward to staying a few days in the same place so we could get some laundry done, travel around the area, and at the end of the day relax the hot springs on the property.  That was the plan anyway…

One of the downsides to traveling is not knowing weather you’re going to be in a safe neighborhood or not.  When we arrived at the hotel it was clearly a little older than we’d realized but it seemed clean enough and they took pets, which is always something we have to consider when choosing where to stay.  We got our room keys and went to the back to park and unload the car and take our stuff to our room.  We both kind of wondered if we were in a safe area, but it seemed okay (plus all of those hot springs were calling our names!)  As we were unloading, Jason mentioned that we should probably store the bikes inside this time.  We had them locked to the car carrier and these bikes literally have traveled the country with us, many times being locked to the car carrier.  They had spent the night locked to our carrier in Vegas the night before.

We got everything in the hotel, checked the room out a little, and took a little time getting settled in.  We had a good few hours of daylight and of course everyone knows that bad stuff only happens at night….right?  When Jason decided to go down and get the bikes roughly 30 minutes later, they were GONE!  Nothing else to do at this point besides be instantly furious. What people that don’t bike don’t get is what the bike means to the biker and how much of their time, energy, and money goes into these things. We didn’t either until we had been biking for a little while and then worked hard to earn and pick out these two bikes that we’d used to tour the coast of Florida just a few weeks before.  They aren’t toys, they were a means of transportation when I didn’t have a car available.  Biking helped us get healthier after I had my stroke and we had to quit smoking and actually get out a move our bodies.  The best part about it was that we loved doing it so it didn’t feel like exercise! It was one of our favorite things to do together.  We typically chose our vacation spots that were bike friendly as it gave us another view of the places we’ve visited over the years besides flying by in a car. We painstakingly researched which bikes we wanted for our trip, then we spent more time and money customizing and adding to them so they would be perfect just for us. It took us longer to select bikes than most of the cars we’ve owned!  If it was feasible, we biked everywhere unless the brutal Midwest winter reared its ugly head.  So to have someone just walk up with a pair of bolt cutters, cut them off our carrier and toss them into his ugly, old, green, Jeep Cherokee without a license plate on the front as if he was entitled to them, creates a level of frustration that I just can’t explain!  Theft is one of those things that I have a SUPER hard time dealing with.  Its the epitome of selfishness and entitlement that seems to be of the way of things these days.  I’m sure that man didn’t know that most of what we owned was either in, on, or on top of that car (and in a tiny storage shed somewhere in Colorado.)  I’m sure he didn’t know that Jason had just lost his job which could make replacing them very difficult.  I’m sure that even if he knew those things, he wouldn’t have cared and he would have taken them anyway!

We went to the front desk to see if they had a security camera and they did.  It was pointed right where our car was and of course it had to be broken.  We called the police so we could get a case number to give to our insurance company and of course the first words out of his mouth were “yeah, you don’t want to leave things out in this town.”  Wow.  Ya think? That would have been good information to know..yesterday.  He was actually very nice and took all of the information we had to offer, but we knew that police don’t run around looking for stolen bikes as if they were a matter of national security as there are many other things they need to do that are much more important.  We decided that once we were done talking with the police, we weren’t staying another minute in this town.  I do have to say that even though the hotel’s cancellation policy states that we would have to cancel a minimum of 72 hours before our stay, the front desk clerk at Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel was very decent and refunded every penny.  Right before the police arrived, the hotel manager gave Jason a piece of paper with the description of the person that took them along with the details of the car, which is how we knew it was an old Jeep Cherokee. I just threw in the “ugly” part. I’m sure the man was ugly too!  A woman was working in her yard and watched the entire thing and didn’t bother to mention it to anyone until the hotel manager started wandering around asking people if they saw anything.  Thanks a lot, Lady!  We gave that to the police and at first we thought in a town of 20,000 people there would be a chance that we would get them back and thought we might even get a phone call in the next couple days while we were in Palm Springs, but as time goes by we know that’s most likely not going to happen.  I keep looking at Palm Springs Craigslist to see if they are for sale anywhere but I know we aren’t getting them back.  From what we understand, this city has a huge theft problem.  Apparently, the unemployment rate is high so they just decided to create their own jobs.  Here’s the problem though:  As decent as the hotel was to us, we will never go back there.  I’m pretty sure that the other people who have had things stolen will never go back there either.  So now, they aren’t just stealing our bikes, or someone’s car, or wallets.  They are robbing their community of other revenue that is appears to be desperately needed as well. Pretty sure that doesn’t help create jobs, does it?

We felt a little optimistic when Jason called the insurance company (which incidentally was our homeowner’s insurance and not auto insurance as one might think.)  Halfway into the conversation I hear Jason explaining to the adjuster about how he uses his Iphone app to keep track of mileage and such, and how he hooks up his blue tooth speaker so we can listen to IHeartRadio while we bike.  Let’s just say it really helps when your insurance adjuster is a triathlete. Even thought we didn’t get quite enough to cover all of it, he was able to get us pretty close even with our huge deductible.  See?  He gets it!

We’re back in Iowa for a couple more days and we’ve made a couple trips to the bike shop trying to decide which bikes to get.  As much as we loved them, we’re having a hard time spending that much money again. The ugly man that stole them doesn’t quite understand what he took.  The other issue is that these bikes aren’t being made anymore and they were a little hard to get the first time.   I do have to give a big shout out to Ron at Skunk River Cycles though!  He spent a great deal of time in the store with us showing us various bikes, he spent hours on the internet pricing out different options if we wanted to try to build something like what we had, and he made phone calls all over trying to find a couple of the same bikes that we had stolen.  Luckily he has one at his warehouse now and he was able to locate one in Tennessee. This is another person that gets it!  Looks like we’ll be stopping off in Nashville on our way to Florida to get our 4th new bike for the year.

Wandering Through the Desert

Today we decided to explore some of the weird and wonderful spots in Southern California.  It was a perfect weather day with the completely blue sky, no humidity (obviously…we’re in the desert) and the temperature was in the low 80’s.  We grabbed our travel companions and hit the road for a day trip.

I’ve read the desert was kind of a weird place and we certainly weren’t disappointed today.  It seems like you can drive for miles and miles and not see one person, a gas station, or any other kind of civilization.  It gets a little creepy getting low on gas and knowing that if you run out, there is nothing for miles and even road side assistance would take awhile to get to you.  I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the settlers as they pushed west not knowing how much further it would be before they found water, or anything else besides sand for that matter.

Our first stop of the day was the Salton Sea.  I was intrigued by this place when I first heard about it in a movie and since we were in the area, we had to check it out.  I only did a little bit of research so here’s the short story version to give you an idea. The Salton Sea is a huge man made irrigation project lake gone wrong in the middle of the desert between Palm Springs and Mexico.  Somewhere in the 1950’s vacation homes, hotels, and all the businesses that those bring, started popping up everywhere (think Okoboji type stuff). It was supposed to be the vacation spot for years and years to come.  Due to the heat, pollution, and many other reasons the lake became saltier than the sea and vast amounts of fish died and washed up on the beach.  There were also a couple floods in the 70’s that added to the troubles of the already doomed desert lake.  Soon, most of the people left and the businesses shut down and now it looks like something that might be a good set for the next zombie apocalypse movie. This lake is just huge! It goes on forever and when we looked out, we couldn’t see anything but water much like the ocean.  Driving by it we could see the mountain views in the background and the and sparkle of the water and it looks to be a beautiful place to spend and afternoon doing whatever people do on the beach.  Once we got there though, it was something entirely different.  Although it was probably a gradual evacuation, looking through the ruins of the campers and homes would seem as though everyone left suddenly.

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What was left were pieces of someones lives from years past slowly becoming part of the earth from which they came. It’s definitely an eerie feeling and I don’t know if its because it seemed like a lonely forgotten place or because we knew that over time, there could me many more places such as this if we weren’t careful.

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The next stop was Salvation Mountain.  We’d never heard of this place until we saw the movie “Into the Wild” and I knew that somewhere in our travels this was a place I wanted to see.  The mountain was created by Leonard Knight who, at age 36, had a spiritual awakening and dedicated his life to spreading a simple message, “God is Love, Accept Jesus into your heart, and Repent and be saved”  He created and maintained this mountain until he got too ill to take care of it in 2012, then passed away in early 2014. Now, the place is maintained by volunteers and donations and its free for everyone to come and enjoy.  I saw that they are hiring a couple to live on the mountain as care takers but I don’t think Jason will go for it.  We wandered around and climbed the mountain and went inside the structures he had built with mud, hay, and paint.  There was an area that was built with trees and he would have had to crawl up pretty high to paint them all, then looking up even further we noticed the glass windows he had installed.

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We spoke to a couple who were there with paintbrushes in hand, working hard to preserve Leonard’s work.  They were traveling around the country, home schooling their 5 kids, and were spending some time there as volunteers. They explained a bit of the history and how its being taken care of now.  We should have asked them how they were funding their travels given our recent situation.

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Religious or not, I don’t see how anyone could visit Leonard’s mountain and not be touched in some way by his dedication to spreading his one simple message.  It’s not up to interpretation, its pretty easy to understand what he was going for, which to me is how it should be.  As I stood around looking at all of his colors and verses, and learning how he spent over 30 years creating and maintaining this place just so people could come and wander though this wonderland of latex paint, mud, and hay, I experienced a quiet peace that I hadn’t felt for awhile. Maybe that was the whole purpose of it.

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Right next to Salvation Mountain is Slab City which was also featured in “Into the Wild.”  This place started as a Marine training camp called “Camp Dunlap” during WW2.  It closed, the buildings were torn down and all that was left were well…the slabs.  It is now home to about 200 full time residents (called “Slabbers”) and about 2500 during the winter months.  This is truly “Off Grid” living.  There is no water, sewer, electricity, or any of those other luxuries most of us have grown accustomed to.  It is entirely free to live there and literally anything goes at this place.  We just drove through part of it briefly because even though I was really curious about this makeshift city in the desert, we didn’t want to drive around snapping pictures of their chosen lifestyle as if it was a tourist attraction.  I loved the idea of the place, but one thing we’ve learned driving around in the desert this week is that it’s not the climate for us.  We love the warm weather, but looking out at the sand that goes on forever, almost looks like a construction zone to us.  I thoroughly enjoyed stopping at every place we went to, but I don’t think we’re ready for this level of “Off Grid” living just yet.

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Tomorrow we leave So. California and head towards Colorado to spend Christmas with the kids.  We plan to stop in Lake Havasu tomorrow so we can check out The London Bridge. Later in the week the plan is to see the Grand Canyon.  As many times as we’ve driven around that area, we’ve actually never seen it so we think its about time.  We’re still weighing our options and trying to figure out our plan after the holidays, but I think we’re leaning toward figuring out a way to continue to wander the country.  There’s still way too many things that we want to see and places we want to go.

“So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

 

 

A Walk in the Park

We spent a good portion of yesterday in much better spirits driving from Grand Junction, CO to our next stop.  We had the Rockies in our rear view mirror, the Sierra Nevadas in front of our windshield, and we were driving through everything in between.  It’s a beautiful drive!  As we drove through the vast areas of bare land, we were able to get a sense of what our country might have been like before it sprouted huge housing developments that led to the perceived need for Walmart, strip malls, and Starbucks.

We landed in St. George, Utah for a couple days which is in the SW Corner of the state not far from Arizona or Nevada.  We chose this spot so we could spend some time wandering around Zion National Park but as we were driving around running some quick errands we couldn’t help but notice this magnificent, white, structure that could be seen from pretty much everywhere in town.  We were pretty sure that this was a Mormon temple so we drove over for a closer look.  This thing was huge!  We saw a sign that said “Free Tours” so we went in to the Visitor Center to see what this was all about.  We were greeted by a very nice man who gave us a tour through the center and told us about the history of the Mormon settlers who were sent to St. George to grow cotton, grapes and harvest silk (which have since been replaced by more prosperous business)  We were pretty amazed when he talked about how the temple was built.  It’s crazy what the early settlers were able to do without the modern tools we have today.  I love to hear about the history of places and how they got their start.  We had the dogs in the car so we couldn’t stay long so we took our Book of Mormon and headed to the park.

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If you’re in the area this park is a must see!  One of the little challenges that we deal with from time to time is traveling with our dogs.  Although we are finding the places are becoming much more accommodating, most of the national parks will not allow dogs on the trails at all.  At Zion, there is one very nice trail that will allow leashed dogs so we were able to get in a nice 3 1/2 mile hike.  Its difficult to describe the absolute awe of this place.  It’s a combination of mountains, streams, little pine tree forests, meadows, and wildlife.  Once deep into the park, we were surrounded by the red and white massive rock formations that almost gave us a feeling of being inside a building.  At times it was incredibly disorienting and we couldn’t get a sense of just how big these things are so we lost all perspective of size and distance and it eventually made us a little dizzy. We found ourselves about 20 feet from a female mule deer and her baby.  In Iowa the deer would have just run away but this mama decided she wanted to have a little stare-down with us as if to see which one would back away first.  As soon as she took one step toward us, she scared the hell out of me and we were perfectly happy to back up and leave her and the baby to continue munching on the vegetation below them.  I’ve apparently watched “When Animals Attack” one too many times.

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Overall, it was a really good day.  St. George is a really nice place and the people are very welcoming.  It would be nice to come back here and explore Zion National Park a little more and hike to some of those areas that we couldn’t go with the dogs but tomorrow we head out and will be spending the evening in Las Vegas.  The way our luck has gone lately, we aren’t staying anywhere near the strip and we aren’t going to put one cent in a slot machine!

The Difference of a Day

It’s been a SUPER long time since we’ve posted anything.  This wasn’t our intention when we started this whole thing but there have been quite a few things that have not gone as we intended when we started this whole thing.  We’ve been dealing with something this last week and so far the major lesson we’ve learned is how to deal with set backs and still continue to run, or in some cases limp, toward our dreams.  We’re still out here, and we’ve finally started to wander again.

Last week we hit a big, tall, strong, brick wall that sent our original plans into a complete tailspin. When we started this journey the plan was that Jason was going to quit his job and do computer contract work from the road.  We would travel where the work was and move on when it was done.  When he gave his notice he and his boss were able to come up with a plan that would allow him to keep his job and work from the road, which was amazing and we were so thankful to have that part taken care of.  It was the final piece that needed to be in place that would allow us to live the way we wanted. By the time we actually left, he heard the company was most likely going to be sold.  The writing on the wall seemed pretty clear and we figured we would need to come up with another way to earn a living once everything was finalized.  We hoped that Jason would be able to continue to work for a least 2 or 3 months during the transition period and then we would have a little time to rethink our strategy and decide if we wanted to continue on our journey.  Well, he got the call we were dreading last week and by the end of this month Jason will no longer be working for AWS.  Of course the only way to handle this situation was to completely PANIC!  I can’t explain the range of emotions that went through both of us that day eventually leading to the feeling of complete and utter defeat.  That’s it!  After a streak of really cruddy luck, The Road had kicked our asses! We were going to have to sell the RV and the truck and go home and get jobs, a place to live, furniture, dishes, winter coats, you name it.  I was mostly depressed about the winter coat thing!  Since we left we’ve had the strangest string of bad luck and with each weird mishap we wondered if this wasn’t the time for us to pursue this.  We’ve been so very fortunate these last few years that we didn’t know how to handle these types of things.  But who really does?

We spent the better part of “Dreaded Phone Call Day” staring at our computers looking at jobs on Craigslist in Ames, Fort Collins, Boulder, Pensecola, and even San Fransisco. We looked at apartments in all of those places too.  We took a long look at our finances and once we figured out what Jason would get in unemployment benefits, we became even more down and our new friend, Panic, come back.  I don’t know who can survive on that  amount of money even for a little bit.  If we would have stayed in our house, we would have lost it for sure. I guess we’ll get to figure out what this Obamacare is all about too.  We ran through so many different scenarios trying to decide the best course of action and by the end of the day we decided we had no choice but to sell the RV and truck so we would have some cash to live on and free up some funds from insurance payments and the ungodly amount of gas we kept putting in that thing.  What we couldn’t decide was what the heck we were going to do after that.  All we knew was that we literally just started our travels and we couldn’t bear the thought of ending our wandering so abruptly.  We weren’t ready to go home and that is the only thing we knew with certainty.  We were also starting to feel like Iowa was becoming less like home and we wondered where home really was anyway.

After one day on Craigslist, we struck a deal with the first person that came to look at the RV.  When she left all I could think was “Damn that was fast!  Now where the heck are we going to live?” and “Crap! We should have listed it for more money!”  Luckily, we had a couple days to get our stuff out and figure out our next step.  Jason will get a paycheck through the end of this month. Plus we’ll have the proceeds from the house sale and the money we’ll get from selling the RV/Truck so we’ll have some funds to sustain us for a little while.  Once we close on the house, we will have very few monthly bills so aside from food, shelter, and car payment, we won’t have much else going out.  The idea of going back to freezing cold Iowa wasn’t good (that winter coat thing!) We didn’t get to see one tiny little smidgen of all the places we had planned to visit so we weren’t excited to stay in Colorado either.  We finally decided that just because our situation changed drastically, it didn’t mean we should have to give up on our dreams all together.  We just had to come up with another way.  Finally, we rented a small storage shed in Fort Collins for our most of our stuff, bought a roof rack for the car for the rest, and our Gypsy Wagon has become our beloved Mini Cooper with St. Christopher hanging from the mirror to assure safe travel, a big sleepy dog in the back , and the world’s smallest, feistiest wiener dog on our laps to protect us from highway robbers.

We decided to head West and visit all of the strange, wonderful, and quirky places that we saw in movies and travel books that gave us our case of wanderlust in the first place. Traveling by car will save us quite a bit in gas money and will allow us to move around a little quicker.  Finding affordable lodging is going to be the biggest challenge, but we figure if we choose spots during the off season we should be able to get some great deals.  In keeping with our recent luck, we made plans with the mechanic in Fort Collins that is working on our truck after the emergency brake blew apart. (I have to say that we have always been Ford people until we bought this one Chevy and it has been in the shop more in the last month than most of our Fords put together!)  Then we finally took off today and as I write this we are sitting in the Econolodge in Grand Junction, Co.    I get to check another state off my list as we head into Utah tomorrow where we’re hoping the weather is decent enough to check out Zion National Park.  We plan to hit Palm Springs, CA this week where we’ll spend a few days checking out places like Salvation Mountain, The Salton Sea, and whatever else grabs our attention along the way.  From there, we’ll head back to Colorado to spend Christmas with the kids.  We plan to use these couple weeks to figure out whether we want to settle somewhere and get jobs, or find a way to continue to travel the country and earn as we go.  I don’t know what’s in store for us or how long we’ll get to roam around our beautiful country, but I can say that I’m never happier than when I’m sitting next to my husband in a car on the highway, with music on the stereo, and miles of road ahead of us promising all kinds of mystery and adventure.

 

Thanksgiving Weekend

Well, things are definitely starting to look better for us here in our little home.  It looks like that ridiculous cold snap is over for a bit, or for least the duration of our stay, and we’ve been able to have water every day since we moved to our new campsite.  It’s a relief to not have to get all bundled up, scrape off the windshield, get the dogs all ready to go, and jump in the car to take a shower!  Slowly but surely we are getting used to our new life and we just might be over our initial panic that we dealt with after the first couple of weeks.  We haven’t been wandering much yet, so Jason spends his days plotting our next trip, working on the website, and working, and I’ve been working on some fiber preps, spinning yarn, and other little creations that will soon be in our shop.  I was hoping to have it up and running by now, but I’m not moving as quickly as I’d hoped.

We survived our first Thanksgiving and the turkey was even edible!  We’ve cooked turkeys before but not very many and even though each have turned out just fine, I still get a little worried that we’re going to end up with a turkey that resembles the one  on the Griswold’s dinner table in Christmas Vacation (or caught on fire like the one we saw in Jennifer’s kitchen on Facebook 🙂 )  I really wanted to have it here in RV until we realized that our oven wasn’t quite big enough for even the smallest bird to cook properly, and not to mention the amount of propane we would use cooking the thing for 4 hours would be ridiculous!  We thought about getting a roaster, but those things are huge and what would we do with it when we were done?  So it was much easier to just do it at Brooke’s place.  We had a nice casual dinner with just the family and spent the rest of the night lounging around watching “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix.  To me, some of the best days are just hanging around with people you love doing absolutely nothing, laughing at dumb stuff only we think is funny, and just being together.

Photo Nov 27, 6 56 42 PM

Yesterday we had temps in the lower 70’s so we decided to stay as far away as possible from the malls and big box stores and took the dogs and the girls and hiked around Lory State Park.  It was a beautiful day for a nice long walk after stuffing our faces from the day before.  We both had small heart attacks when Brooke and Sadie decided to climb up part of the mountain.  Brooke assured me it was safe, but my idea of safe isn’t climbing around a jagged rock 20 feel off the ground!

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Sadie is planning on staying with us a little longer than originally planned so she’s leaving in about a week.  It’s been really good having her here.  We only hope that next holiday season Ben and his family will be able to join us, wherever we are!

We got some really exciting news yesterday! We got an offer on the house on Thanksgiving day, which was way too low as they usually are.  We sent back a counter offer but we weren’t confident that they would be willing to come close to that.  Well, we heard yesterday that they are going to accept it!  So we just need to sign a few things and it looks like we have a deal…again!  So we could really use some positive vibes sent our way so the sale goes all the way to completion and we can be done with this house!  We have to give a shout out to Lisa who went in and did some final cleaning for us, and my dad who stopped by and shoveled the walks for us.  The people that looked at the house that day are the ones that are buying it!

We’re going to spend a few more days here and then Sadie will be heading back to Ames, and we will begin traveling south to a place where we won’t have to worry about freezing lines.  We’ll then head back here to spend Christmas with our kids, then head even further south.  We’re currently in the process of looking around and mapping our trip so we aren’t 100% sure where we are going yet.  All we know is that its going to be warmer!

 

 

What the heck are we doing here??

Those who know us well, know that we are not winter people.  All winter long we whine and complain about how much we dislike the snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures and then vow that each winter will be our last.  Then we plan some way to get to a sunny spot to shorten the amount of time we have to suffer through the cold and darkness.  So it would seem sort of backwards for our first stop to be a place known for skiing, snowboarding, and all those other “fun” winter sports wouldn’t it?

Well, before we picked this spot we did our research as we do. We checked the average temperatures for November and December, which according to Weather.com is in the 4o’s and 50’s.  One day last summer, Jason spent a decent amount of time putting together a spreadsheet of Iowa weather in comparison to Loveland, CO for me and it was significantly warmer each month (he was trying to help me make an informed decision since he knew how this cold weather makes me crazy) This area is also supposed to have 350 days of sun each year too which is just what I need to maintain my sanity. Who would have guessed that the time we decided to come spend some time here, they would see the coldest temperatures they’ve seen since the 1800’s??  This seems to be a growing trend with us.  When we were in Florida on our bike trip, the locals told us they haven’t seen that much rain in years and years, and now here we are sitting in our camper with cold weather that hasn’t been here since wooly mammoths walked the earth!

We knew that November and December were going to be tricky and there would be some cold nights but -11 windchill was nowhere close to the temps we thought we would be dealing with.  We learned that we can put heat on the waterlines all day long but at these temps, all we’re doing is using up propane faster than we care to and our waterlines?  Well, they’re still popsicles! We had a small tiny bit of thawing yesterday and got about 6 drops of water out of our faucets and got all excited, but after the temperature dropped again today we lost that tiny bit of progress from yesterday.  We woke up this morning trying to figure out why our noses and ears were on the verge of frostbite until we realized we ran out of propane.  Again.  But this time it was in the middle of the night.  So when we took the truck in to get the brakes looked at, we ended up needing to make another stop at JAX to get our propane tanks filled.  Sounds like the infra red heaters that my old friend Katy suggested might be on the shopping list soon.  At this rate, we’ll be paying over $300 a month in propane.   We’re not having trouble keeping warm in the RV really, well once we put on our 2 pairs of socks, long johns, pants, 3 shirts, sweatshirts, scarf and hat.  Its fun to get all bundled up and watch movies isn’t it?

One thing I can say is that its given me a little time to work with my fiber.  With all the planning and getting ready the last couple months I had to put it on the back burner so it was nice to spend some time prepping some fiber and getting a little spinning done.  Here’s a little of what I worked on over the last couple days.  If the temperature stays like it is, I should be out of raw fiber in no time.

Photo Nov 15, 2 44 28 PM   Photo Nov 14, 10 11 51 AM   Photo Nov 14, 1 48 39 PM

Luckily it’s supposed to be a balmy 40-ish during parts of next week so we’re hoping we can get a little thawed out.  We’ve gotten used to working with no water in the kitchen but it sure would be nice to get cleaned up without trudging through the snow and getting in the car to get to the shower.  Needless to say the last few days have been a little frustrating. When we were planning all of this, everything just fell into place.  We felt like we were doing what we were supposed to be doing.  Lately we wonder if these are all signs that we’re not quite where we are supposed to be at all.  We’ve definitely had a weird stroke of bad luck.  The good thing is even though we’re stuck in this tiny little space all day long like a couple of sardines (hoping we don’t freak out like that dude in The Shining who wasn’t very far from us) we still really like each other .  All I can say is that I sort of wish we were whining about the rain in Florida again. I know things don’t always go as planned, but man, we could really use a few of those average 40-50 degree Colorado days about now.