Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Last Few Days!

We've had several wonderful days, these past few.  Right now I am looking at high grasslands outside of Winslow, Arizona (I know you're humming the Eagles song!  It's that Winslow,  Arizona! ).  We're spending the weekend at s beautiful state park called Homolovi.  Many archeological studies of the Hopi native American people going back to the 1250's.

We are so happy to be here!  The view is expansive and desert-like.  We will walk some trails later after we run a few errands.

Thursday night we slept deep in the Cibola National Forest,  although not our original intention!  We were headed to Bluewater state park in New Mexico.   We found the kiosk and paid our fee, but then couldn't find the campground!   We followed a road that we thought would take us to the campground,  but instead saw a sign for the national forest.   Long story short, we ended up on a very dust, rocky road and we just kept going!   Then it got dark and we decided to keep on going, having seen signs for a campground about 8 miles away.  Going no more than 10 mph, Michael did an extraordinary job driving.  This place was awesome! Trees and tall cliffs, steep drop-offs; made for an interesting drive!  We finally got to the campground,  dark and quiet with no people around.  No amenities except pretty clean pit-toilets.  The silence and the starry night sky were perfect!

We left the forest around 9:30am, and it was snowing for a bit,  driving another 7 more miles on the mountain road,  finally getting to a packed dirt road.  This drive was through the Zuni Canyon with cliffs of reds and grays.  Glorious! Finally saw some people as we reached the small town of Grants.   We finally found route 40 west, the road we've been on for a while.  

Happily we made it to Albuquerque, and found an REI to purchase some needed supplies. Fun, fun, fun!

On April 21st we slept at another gorgeous state park, Lake Arrowhead near Wichita Falls,  Texas. This park was lush green.and stunning. Saw our first black-throated sparrows along with white-crowned sparrow,  kildeer.  Heard eastern screech owl too. As we headed out, we drove through an active prairie dog town and boy, are they cute!

On our drive to Santa Rosa in New Mexico, we saw white pelican,  snowy egret and our first oil rigs in the distance. Beautiful wild flowers, mesquite trees, cacti, singing western meadow lark and great blue heron.  Saw our first cowboy on his horse, rounding up cattle!  And saw our first tumbling tumble weeds!  Saw a kestrel too.

Everywhere it is flat and you can see forever!   Then the skies grew super dark and a tornado warning was on the radio. Talk about anxiety!  We drove out of the way luckily and no tornado materialized.  This was in Adrian, Texas.

We crossed the border into Arizona and found Santa Rosa state park for the night of April 22nd.  Another pretty place, but campsites were close together. Saw our first white-winged dives and an olive-sided flycatcher. It was desert, our first real time to see this habitat our travels.

So here we are on the 25th on a cool windy day.  We also plan on wiping down both the teardrop and car that are covered with dust from the forest road!  Heard Flagstaff is having snow so we're glad we are not there! We will be heading to California tomorrow most likely.

The teardrop is absolutely wonderful! It tows so easily.   She handled the mountain road beautifully.  Our 4runner is great, too.  No issues other than happy ones!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We Love Texas!

I'm not sure how to express the glorious-ness of Texas and of this experience.  I know we are in the infancy of this odyssey, but day doesn't go by where I give thanks for this opportunity.  All of this emotion got heightened as we left Huntsville and headed toward Wichita Falls (in northern Texas, not far from the Oklahoma border.)  The land spread as faras the eye could see and everything is brilliant shades of green! We skirted Dallas and Ft. Worth and much of that route was rural.  Big ranches with beautiful wrought iron gates appeared more frequently.

We set our sights on Lake Arrowhead State Park about 15 miles outside of Wichita Falls.  A long winding 2 lane rural road brought us through what is known as prairie land or plains.  Lush green grasses and short green trees that we can't identify yet. This park is gorgeous as are the small camping loops. We're the only campers in our loop.  We hear birds and insects. Butterflies of all kinds flit through, so quickly we can't identify them either!  There are trails to explore here, plus a prairie dog town to see.  We might stay tomorrow night as well.

Last night we camped at Huntsville State Park, a beautiful environment of super tall pine trees. As soon as we got out of the car a pileated woodpecker flew in and we had great looks. Other birds seen with regularity now are scissor-tailed flycatcher and when they fly-catch their flight and antics are awesome.  Turkey vultures have been joined by black vultures and mockinbirds have been everywhere, but here so far.  Other birds seen or heard are overboard, chipping and song sparrow, northern parula, red-eyed vireo and whip-por-will again.  Last night Michael heard an owl make a short call that he said sounded like a barred owl.  Don't have a western field guide with us so we can't confirm if they are out here!

Michael is cooking as I write at a picnic table overlooking the terrain.  The teardrop is absolutely wonderful!  It tows so easily.  She isn't as pristine as she was a couple of weeks ago. She's been through rain and muddy puddles and we do try to keep her as clean as we can.  Sleeping in her is so comfortable and the storage is working out well.

And so it is dinner time and we will eat (6pm central time) while we listen and look at this beautiful place.

Friday, April 17, 2015


We've been told that Houston and the surrounding area has its own micro-climate. Similar to cape cod.  We have been experiencing some intense thunderstorms.  Yesterday was a nice day until the afternoon when the rains came.  Silly us, we never closed the cover to our fan, so we came home from running errands to a big soaked area of our teardrop mattress!  Fortunately, the mattress cover is a marine grade waterproof material.   The sheets, however, were really wet and while we were trying to soak up the wetness, it was still pouring.  Thankfully we have the tent set up over the picnic table,  but with blowing winds we weren't too dry!  Lesson learned: always close the fan cover before leaving the campsite.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Livingston, Texas y'all!

Livingston Texas is our new domicile.  A town of 5300 people, it has its share of new and old.  Big stores like Lowe's and Wal-Mart along with quite a few small business. Other areas are run down. Then there are green open spaces.

We arrived a week ago to 85 degrees and high humidity.  Quite a change from Wisconsin where we were bundled up!  Our route took us through Illinois,  Missouri and Arkansas, just missing the tornadoes that came through Illinois.   We found nice state parks to camp in. We continued to ride through farmlands and ranches.  And saw still more turkey vultures and lots of cattle egrets.  When we arrived in Texas I saw my first of two scissor-tailed flycatcher.

We are at the Escapees campground.  Escapees is a national organization for RV'ers.  We are on Rainbow Drive which is their HQ.  Our mail is now forwarded here and it will be forwarded to us as we request.  Lots of big rigs here (yep, talking the talk!) And we are th e only teardrop.

When we arrived at the office last week to check in, I pretty much freaked out as the door and sides of the building and the sidewalk were covered with caterpillars.  Now,  caterpillars normally interest me, but not by the hundreds.  These are the tent caterpillars that pillage trees and then make the tents in the trees and emerge as moths.  And they're everywhere, including on us!  We adjusted though and tend to flick them into oblivion!

Lots of mockingbirds, black vultures,  and boat-tailed grackles.  From our campsite we heard a whip-por-will.  And a beautiful thrush calling as I write.

A tiny lizard has made our picnic table his home.  We call him Lenny and he's pretty cute!

We have opened a bank account, and gotten our car and trailer inspected.  Tomorrow we register the car and trailer and get our drivers licenses.  So we are making progress. Our goal is to leave Texas on Friday and head to California for a teardrop rally in early May!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Heading South

There is so much to tell about our travels so far!  I think about all we are doing and write down the highlights when I can.  I can't even nap when I am the passenger because I am afraid I will miss something!

Tonight I write from a beautiful state park just north of Arkadelphia in Arkansas.   I cannot get auto correct to stop changing the name of the park!  It's wooded and quiet, except whenwe first arrived when the air was filled with bird songs and calls. Hearing our first black and white warblers of the spring. Glorious! Now it is peaceful and as we are the only campers on this part of the camping area!

Last night we were at another state park called St. F rancois, in Bonneville Terre, Missouri. Another great spot, but not like tonight's!

Between yesterday and today we have driven 632 miles.  Highlights are:

- birds including kestrel, a black-necked stilt, cattle-egret, a huge kettle of what we think were wood storks, snow geese flock, and if I didn't know better, I'd think turkey vultures were here to take over the world!  They're everywhere!

- really a low-light, but Arkansas allows smoking in restaurants.  Gag!

- from a low of high twenties in Wisconsin, right now it is in the mid-seventies!

- much of the terrain was horse and cattle ranches with some agriculture mixed in. In Missouri,  we saw our first budding trees and flowers in bloom.

- ate at our first Golden Corral of the trip yesterday.  We discovered this buffet years ago on our travels and we loved all the food for a reasonable cost per person.  Yesterday we ate for four!

- saw tons of wind turbines on farmland in Missouri.

Went by the St. Louis arch and it is quite impressive.

 We stopped at a Wendy's to use bathrooms and watched purple Martin's at a birdhouse right behind the restaurant. It's obviously not being monitored, as house sparrows were there as well.

-  Saw a huge sink-hole in a field in MO.  Some rain had fallen at some point and most of the fields were like marsh lands.  We even saw a flock of coot swimming in the huge puddles.

Although we had hoped to be in Texas today, we will get there tomorrow.  It's about a 255 mile drive.  We have been getting about 17.5 mpg and today Michael had to lower the tire pressure in response to the dashboard tire pressure alert.  It was too warm for the pressure we had in them from Massachusetts.   As soon as he did that, the light turned off.  I learn something new every day!

Michael cooked grilled cheese sandwiches for the first time using the Solo bio-mass gasification stove.  To perfection I might add!

Apologies for the lack of photos.   They will come as soon as I am typing on my tablet which is under repair at Dell.

Friday, April 3, 2015

We are Blessed!

We are officially full-time teardrop campers!

Right now we are sitting in the Little Crane eating an amazing breakfast and enjoying the warmth.   We have been camping at Camp-inn's little camping area since Wednesday when we finally got our teardrop. Today's weather in Necedah is cloudy and we had 25 degree temps this morning after two mild days.

It was an awesome day and experience on Wednesday when we met Cary and Craig and went through orientation.  It was a long day but it flew by!  We learned the in's and outs of our teardrop and shared lots of stories.  The trailer is beautifully crafted and, well, gorgeous!

We spent yesterday organizing our things in "Katie" (yes, we have named her!) and she holds a good amount in the provided storage compartments.  We are emptying plastic tubs and also getting the car in better order.

Last evening as we sat outside the trailer, in balmy and breezy weather, 2 beautiful Cranes flew by.  Auto correct won't let me write S andhill, but hopefully you get it!

The weather has warmed up a bit now as the sun is shining,  but with it being windy it feels cold still.  We spent a couple of hours at the Necedah National Wildlife refuge and within 15 minutes we saw a bald eagle on the nest, a pair of whooping cranes, great ducks, tundra swans, and more!  What a spectacular place with so many habitats.   Over 13,000 acres are wetlands alone!

After chatting with Cary, we decided to stay here one more night.   So we're going to go south tomorrow,  but who knows how far!?  That's the luxury of being retired, I am so loving!     we feel so fortunate and appreciative of this time in our lives and its only just begun.