We left San Leon on Thursday headed to Davis Mountains State Park in West Texas. We had an over night at the Sonora rest stop. We’ve stayed here a couple of times before. Overall pretty quiet and safe. We like it. Saturday marked our 1000th day full-time. Quite an achievement but, as we left the rest stop and got back on the road, it became clear pretty quickly we were going to have problems. There are quite a few hills in this area and as we approached each one, Moose, our F-150 began to struggle more and more each time. A little jumping at first and then more a of jerking. We got just outside of Ozona and then the engine light began to flash… then the truck cut off. We pulled over to the side of the road and put on the hazards. Shaken and scared I had to figure out what to do. Who do I call? We have roadside assistance with Geico. Ok call Geico. Then I also remembered we had roadside assistance with CoachNet or did we? Was that still in effect? How did we pay for that? It was lumped in at the time of purchase right? Hell I don’t remember. We’re stalled on the side of the road, our house attached to us, 18-wheelers flying past. I finally gathered myself and called CoachNet. My biggest concern was I wanted BOTH vehicles towed. NO WAY was I leaving Trixie on the side of the road alone.
I called CoachNet, I very nice young lady answered and first asked if we were in a safe location. I didn’t feel that we were given that we were literally in the middle of nowhere and trucks and cars whizzing by. She was wonderful. She got all the information. Verified that we were indeed covered. She called around to find a wrecker service to transport both vehicles. She called the neared Ford dealer to see if they would take our truck. She even looked for RV parks in the area for us. I was a Googling madman trying to find a place to go. We were 80 miles east of Fort Stockton and over 2 hours from our original destination. – The Davis Mountains weren’t happening. I had to call and cancel that and then call and cancel our Star Party at he McDonald Observatory. Luckily we have been to both places before, we were just revisiting to have some down time after a lot going on… guess we weren’t done with stuff yet.
The wrecker driver called and said he was 20 minutes away. He arrived and got Moose loaded on the flatbed and attached Trixie to tow behind. We hopped into the big rig and went on down the road. I was able to secure a spot for a few days at Hilltop RV Park in Fort Stockton. Jim, the owner was very nice and took care of us. There are a few RV parks in the area but majority of them are at capacity due to the oilfield work. We were surrounded by oilfield workers who live there full-time. But the park was exceptionally clean, surprisingly quiet and overall really nice! I’d certainly stay here again, without it being a last resort. There’s laundry, clean showers and working wi-fi! But the biggest plus was how nice the owners are! I’ll never be able to thank them for fitting us in with zero notice!
Monday morning we shot over to Stockton Ford. The only Ford dealer for miles. The service manager, Todd was very nice. He hooked Moose to the computer and only got an error code for low coolant. He drove the truck and was able to get it to act up some, came back and ran the diagnostic test again. He got a misfire on the #5 spark plug. He pulled the plug to discover it was cracked. Mind you, I had Moose serviced this time last year and he got all new spark plugs. Or so I was told and charged for. So they changed the spark plug and took Moose for another drive. And two more spark plugs misfired. So we had them replace all of them. We are hopeful this was the problem and that when we leave here and head for Carlsbad we won’t have anymore problems. I guess we will find out at the end of the week.
The planner in me likes knowing we have a place to stay when we arrive somewhere. This time out it will be a little different. We plan on a couple of boondocking spots, so of course you can’t make reservations for a spot of dirt! I’ll just have to remember that when I’m looking at our schedule and our plans are realize I don’t have a reservation for us for a few days. I’m sure it will be fine…
I just firmed up our New Mexico plans. It’s going to be a fairly quick run through… a few day here and there. Carlsbad Caverns should be fun! Then we’ll jump over to Roswell, because we have to check in on the aliens! A trip to the International UFO Museum should do the trick!
After we play with the space ships we’ll hang out in Albuquerque and go birding with a friend from Texas who is living there now. He’s got all the spots good stops staked out to take us. We’re excited to get some life birds from New Mexico. We had a trip loosely planned back in 2012, when we were doing our photographic Big Year but I unexpectedly had to have my gallbladder removed and that threw a monkey wrench into our plans.
From Albuquerque we’ll head to the Alto area to visit another friend, an old oil colleague of Blake’s that has lived there for quite a while now. There has been talk of us visiting for many years, so now we actually get to do it! We are very excited to spend some time with friends!
From Alto we head to Alamogordo in search of the famous landfill where all the Atari ET cartridges were dumped back in the 80’s and then discovered in 2014. Even if we don’t see any, seeing the place is still very cool to us! After a visit to ET we are going to go play in the sand at White Sands National Monument. I’ve watched tons of other RVers sled down the hill over the winter and I can’t wait to try it myself. Hopefully I won’t get hurt, but it’s something you have to do if you’re going to go right?!
When we first decided to go full-time I started cleaning out our 2600 sqft. house. In fact, I had already started getting rid of stuff before we fully agreed to sell everything and go for it! I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of laundry I had to do every couple of weeks. For a year before we agreed to leave it all behind I was clearing things out slowly.
As things become more serious and more real that we were going to buy an Airstream and travel the United States I started getting rid of more and more stuff. It was like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders, I could feel the stress melting away. The less you are responsible for, the better you feel.
Living in 175 sqft. was an easy transition for me. I absolutely love it! Although I will say that we have accumulated a little more than I’d like. Clothes are the biggest thing for us. Whenever we go visit a client for Gearphoria, they want to give us a t-shirt with their logo on it. We don’t want to hurt their feelings and sometimes the shirts are really really cool! So we take them, although I will say that we’ve gotten a lot better about it and we’ve started explaining to them that we just don’t have the room to take on more clothes. Most people understand so that has gotten a little easier.
I’ve been purging things since we’ve been back in Texas. I went through all the cabinets last month and took out anything that we haven’t used in the last 6 months on the road. I feel like every piece I can get rid of helps lighten the load. If we aren’t using it, then there’s no reason to keep it! I’m getting ready to go back through our clothes again. I’ve already donated two bags of stuff but I think there might be another bag in my future.
Sometimes I lay in bed at night and think, do I need to keep that? Are we going to need it? I should just toss it (and by toss it I mean donate it, I donate everything we can’t or don’t use). I like to follow becoming minimalist on Facebook. I really enjoy seeing the posts, I have my settings fixed so that it’s one of the first things I see in my newsfeed. I get a lot of inspiration from Joshua Becker, he’s very insightful and helpful and some of the quotes and inspirational messages he shares really put things in perspective. It’s not about stuff, it’s about experiences. I want more experiences not more stuff. Stuff just stresses me out.
I’m still working on breaking the cycle… our society is centered around material things, it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve been getting better at saying, ‘I don’t need that’ or ‘I don’t want that’. I’ve been deleting all the shopping apps that have been on my phone and I’m removing my email address from all the emails that come in. – Remove the temptation, it makes my life simpler and less stressful all at once.
I’ll leave you with some quotes from Joshua Becker that have helped encourage me.
We haven’t done a lot of boondocking other than in a Walmart parking lot for an overnight. This year we are going to try to do some more as we can.
I’ve been researching portable solar panels to keep our batteries charged. I’m leaning towards the Renogy 100 watt suitcase. It’s seems pretty affordable and easy to use. I’m still researching, but I’m going to have to make a decision and purchase soon, we hit the road again in about 3 weeks!
We purchased a cool UPS Battery Backup Generator on Amazon thanks to a review from Long Long Honeymoon. It’s a CHAFON and I think this thing will come in handy as we start our journey into boondocking more. The timing of me watching their video and browsing Amazon worked out perfect. Amazon was running a ‘Lightening Deal’ and we had a gift card we got for Christmas from a very sweet friend so we saved about $150! I can’t wait to try this thing out!
I still have a few smaller things to purchase as well, water storage is one. Some fellow Airstreamers sent me some messages when I was asking about boondocking on Instagram so I’ve got some leads on a lot of cool products that as I purchase and use them I’ll post my thoughts on them.
I’m taking baby steps into this bookdocking thing for multiple reasons. One, because we’ve never done it for more than one night. Two, because Blake is very much a city boy and likes his technology and being connected, I want to ease him into it so that he’ll enjoy it and want to do it more. I also don’t want to stress us out too much with all the gear that is required to do it properly full-time. Solar panels on top of the Airstream is my ultimate goal and I do think that will come, maybe sometime this year even but when you’ve never done something before, it can be intimidating and I don’t want to hate it just because we didn’t do something right. So we’ll be taking out time to ensure that we enjoy it and want to do it more.
The Grand Canyon has been on our list since we started talking about going full-time. It was one of the places that we both thought we would see right away, but once we hit the road we went east to Maine and then when we did head west we had a destination of California and a time frame we had to meet so it just never happened.
We’re going into our third year of full-timing this year and we both decided that we needed to add more National Parks to our journey. So I booked 2 nights in the Grand Canyon. It’s the most consecutive nights I could get for the beginning of June. All of May was pretty much booked solid, I could get a night here and there but not 2 together. It’s crazy how quickly these site book up! It’s February and I’m booking for June! And if I didn’t book that I wouldn’t have gotten anything!
I’m grateful to be able to spend any time I can get there at this point. I feel like the Grand Canyon is something everyone should try to see at least once in their lifetime. – I’ll let you know if I still feel that one once we’ve seen it, something tells me I will though!
We talked to our friends It’s a Wonderful RV Life, Chris and Rachel about going somewhere together and we decided on Utah in June. A place I have really wanted to go since we started this journey. There are 5 National Parks in Utah not to mention countless other National Monuments and amazing parks!
Just the other day we firmed up our plans and booked those reservations so we’d have a place to stay! 3 different campgrounds and 5 weeks should allow enough time to see Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches and Moab. Let’s hope so anyway because that’s all we’ve got!
Wow we have had a ton of rain here in Southeast Texas! The ground is still wet from Harvey but that hasn’t stopped the rain showers from happening! I’m a little stressed about getting the Airstream out of my parent’s yard. The ground is soaked and we haven’t seen enough of a break in the rain for it to dry out much.
We are flying to NYC this weekend to attend Toy Fair, a large industry convention centered around you guessed it, toys! Like the kind kids play with and some adults collect. Blake was invited to speak on a couple of panels there about the process of his book, Toys That Time Forgot. It’s a huge honor for him and he’s excited!
Once we get back it’s all business! I’ve got taxes to do and he’s got Gearphoria to put together. Once all of those loose ends are tied up we are heading west for a bit. First back to Davis Mountains state park and then over to New Mexico and eventually Arizona and Utah. At least that’s the plan currently. I’m trying to be more open to change. I normally plan everything out months in advance and book it all. After our plans getting scrapped the second half of last year, I’m trying to be a little more flexible. We will see how that goes. I’m a planner, I’ve always been a planner… I’m not sure if I can fly by the seat of my pants like most do.
Wow you guys! Where did 2017 go? Does anyone else feel like it just flew by? I feel like we just left Texas and here we are back for the holidays. And now the holidays are over and I’m planning a new journey for 2018. This year we are going to do our best to see more National Parks. Working from the road has been a huge adjustment. I still don’t have it all figured out, I probably never will. What I do know is that the second half of 2017 was fairly stressful and I’m going to leave that behind me, right where it belongs!
There are lots of great things happening for us. Blake’s book Toys That Time Forgot was a successful Kickstarter last February and he’s almost sold through all of the extra copies. So if you’d like a copy you can send him a message through Facebook here. He is now compiling information for Volume 2, look for that in 2019! And we are heading to NYC in February to Toy Fair so he can do a panel on how he got the idea, how he did the research, wrote it and went to Kickstarter! We just published a new issue of Gearphoria today. Issue #29. So crazy to think a side project would become a full time career. I am so proud of this magazine and what it has become. I also took on more work… because all I have going on just isn’t enough I guess! I love a challenge! I am now a Consultant for Rodan+Fields. I started using their skincare line back in September and fell in love! My skin has never looked or felt better! You can join my Facebook group here. Or follow me on Instagram @thenomadrfgirl. And if you’d like to place an order you can do that here. Or if you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also working on another business idea… so look for that coming later in the year!
I’m so excited to see where 2018 leads us! I’m planning on trying out some boondocking and certainly more State Parks as well! And I hope we get to meet more of you guys along the way! Cheers to a new year!
When we started this adventure two years ago it became very clear very quickly that we were not going to get in everywhere we wanted when we wanted. I learned that fast! I had been so involved in getting the house cleaned out and sold, then getting the Airstream and getting it set up that I didn’t realize that everyone goes to Bar Harbor, Maine in the summer! So we had to wait until after Labor Day to get a spot anywhere. Lesson learned… plan ahead!
Bar Harbor was absolutely beautiful. Maine had always been on my radar. Acadia National Park was all new territory, truthfully National Parks in general were all new territory. Adventure wasn’t something we had done prior to going out on the road. We were birding pretty often and our trip to Arizona in 2012 was certainly an adventure… from that, my eyes were opened wide to all the amazing things this place has to offer and a fire was lit in me that I could not contain… I wanted more, to see more, to do more. Sure we traveled a lot… mostly for work and we would go to a few places around and see a few things but nothing like hiking in the mountains in Arizona or exploring National Parks like we have had the pleasure of doing now.
We left Vermont on Labor Day and drove the 3 or so hours to Bar Harbor, if you’ve ever been there then you know there’s basically one road in and one road out. As we were driving in it seemed like everyone and mean everyone was leaving. RV after RV, travel trailer after travel trailer filing out. We were excited to have the place to ourselves. That wasn’t actually the case, but I can tell you it was certainly less crowed after Labor Day than it would have been a week earlier.
While we were there, we met a wonderful Airstream family. Wandering Nation. Matthew and Celeste and their two boys were so fun! And we were lucky enough to see them again on the road when they came through Texas earlier this year. I can’t say enough good things about them. Matthew was super helpful with questions we had about boon docking and the kids are a joy to be around! They told us about driving to Canada and seeing Campobello, FDR’s summer retreat. The place he was diagnosed with Polio in 1921. Also on the grounds is the Well-Shober Cottage where you can have “Tea with Eleanor”. You’ll have to check the schedule for that, both us and The Orrs missed out on that. From Campobello we drove back into Maine and stopped at Quoddy Head State Park, located in Lubec, Maine. Home of the Quoddy Head Lighthouse and the also known as the easternmost point of land in the contitnental US.
And what’s a trip to Maine without seeing the world’s largest blueberry and Stephen King’s house? Definitely recommend both of those things!
We camped at Hadley’s Point Campground. We enjoyed it very much. Very rustic sites set in the trees but a clean campground and the staff was very polite. My only negative was how expensive the laundry facility was. But that’s just a part of being on the road in a remote spot… still the most I’ve ever paid for a load of clothes to be was and dried though.
Acadia is stunning, go. Go if you ever get the chance. Hike the trails, listen to the birds, take in the tranquility of Jordan Pond, see Bass Harbor Light. It’s a beautiful lighthouse! Just watch out for the cruise ship tours that take over Cadillac Mountain!
Such a whirlwind of things since Harvey hit Houston. When we come back it’s always stressful for me to be here. Demands are put upon me that are hard to explain. I just want to be out roaming and exploring but somehow we always come back to Texas for the holidays. It’s pretty much a requirement, because our parents are older and tend to be alone so we feel obligated to be here. I scroll longingly through my Instagram feed at all the beautiful places everyone is visiting this time of year and wish I was there too.
Being here is giving me the opportunity to clean out our storage unit and realize how much crap we still own. It’s easy to throw it in there and not think about it again. Going through all of it makes me want to simplify my life even more.
Research has begun on where to go next year… most of this year was spent on Blake’s book, Toy That Time Forgot. The Kickstarter was done in February which funded! They we went off to explore some. We got to go to Big Bend National Park which turned out to be absolutely amazing! We roamed around Texas for a bit, exploring our home state that we really don’t know all that much about. It was wonderful to get out west and see some of the beautiful things this state has to offer… but that just left me wanting more. I often find myself dreaming of Joshua Tree and Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Teton, Olympic and the Grand Canyon. So many places, so little time! Time moves fast on the road. So much so that the seasons change and we run back to Texas, our ‘safe’ place. In 2018 I want to stretch our wings more, get out of our comfort zone… adventure more! The state of the world doesn’t help the situation either these days. All these mass shootings, crazy politicians and everyone’s lack of respect of not only themselves but for others has me urning for solitude. I want to walk among the trees, hike through the desert, soak in a hot spring… I just want to see what this earth has to show me before it’s too late.