Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Ranch

One of the many perks of belonging to the Escapee's RV Club  is being able to stay in the various SKP parks sprinkled throughout the southern states.  There are no reservations accepted, you just pull in and they park you.  You provide the requirred information and check out whenever you decide to leave...no time limits.

All of the parks are very friendly and hugging is an Escapee tradition, but the welcome we had here at The Ranch exceeds any other we have had so far.

When you arrive to register they ring the bell and several people come out to greet you with hugs and handshakes.  It felt like going home.

We got the standard listing of rules for the park and the "other" warnings.  These were different and got my attention.

The Ranch is located in Lakewood NM and the entire town of Lakewood is comprised of the park and the post office at the end of the road, which largely serves ...well, us.

See-More in his newest location
The facility is set into an actual working ranch, henceforth the name. 

The perimeter is surrounded by electric wire which we were cautioned not to touch and you drive over a cattle grate to enter the park driveway. 
We are in a pasture, basically. 

The second warning was to be aware of cattle at night that may be standing in the road since many of them are dark and apparently none of them are wearing any kind of reflective gear.  Okay, got it.

The third warning really got my attention.  They have happy hour every night at 4:00 and we were encouraged to attend.  They often have Mah Jong or other games about 7:00.  Since it gets dark earlier now we were cautioned to always carry a flashlight when walking to and from the club house.  I couldn't quite understand why this was necessary, it wasn't very far away and I wasn't afraid of running into a bull or anything.

Oh.  It's for the rattlesnakes.  Being cold blooded they like to come out and lay on the blacktop at night to soak up some of the warmth retained from the sun.

Let me see if I got it all...don't touch the electric fence, don't hit the bulls with the car and don't step on the poisonous snakes.  Got it.  It's no wonder I had weird dreams that night.  That will be in tomorrow's blog.

Long Live the Queen of Forewarned

Monday, October 29, 2012

Busy doing nothing....and loving it

my former "meditation garden"
All my life I've been a bit on the hyper  side and could not be satisfied unless in motion.  Therefore, my current state of bliss is confusing me.

My previous digs had several gardens and I would spend an average of 4 or 5 hours a day working in the yard.  The garden beds kept getting larger and larger, no project was too big to tackle.  I've been known to redo waterfalls and the pond...more than once.  There were no plants in my yard that probably hadn't seen the other areas of the house at some point in their life.  Hauling small boulders from one part of the yard to another was fun.  I built retaining walls, erected fences and created pathways.

When I wasn't working outside I was inside sewing my dolls or quilts and trying to perfect the perfect show booth for the art shows where I would sell them. 

Inside the house I moved furniture around all the time - often from room to room.  At one point the dining room table and chairs were in the family room in front of the fireplace...including a large hutch.  This also ended up in my studio.

The computer room went into the dining room at one point, as well as in the family room.  Once it was arranged perfectly I would think of some other way to do it and off I'd be, pushing and shoving furniture around the room.  Being only 5'3" and slight of build (except for the blobs of fat currently residing in strategic spots) I would have to move them by sitting on the floor and pushing with my legs...inches at a time.

we had blue birds that nested each year in the front yard
The rearranging didn't stop there - I would often redo the studio and its basement storage counterpart.  That was much easier after investing in large rolling metal shelving.  The same shelves were purchased for the garage - yup, moved that stuff around also.

So you can imagine my concern when transitioning into a motorhome where things are bolted down and built in.  Yeah, I've moved things around in the cupboards and drawers, the few we have; but this has really been more to find the best location for optimal use, not just for the fun of it.

one of the numerous deer that ate my plants

So why am I so content to not pursue all my previous obsessions?  Could it be that moving my entire home from state to state is enough for me?  If I can't rearrange my things, I'll just move me?

My biggest fear (as well as Left Brain's) is that I would become bored with no gardens to work on or artwork to create.  What would I do with all those long open days?

My current routine is pretty much getting up, making the bed and then fixing food during the day and cleaning up afterwards.  Sure, there's the excitement of laundry day and hauling everything to the machines and trying to find enough quarters, but that's only ever week or ten days.

a regular visitor to our bird feeder
Yes, yes...Wal-Mart shopping is a blast and we do tend to go for groceries quite often as we enjoy the fresh veggies and fruits, but it's pretty standard shopping.  We have a list, we go and find the stuff and go home.

My main leisure activity now is messing around on the computer, either playing games or working on photos for my blog as well as keeping in touch with people via social media.

 Other than that it's reading and a little knitting I've started to play with.  I can only make dishrags, but it's something to keep my hands busy.  It sounds like such a boring life, and yet I'm content.  I just don't understand it.

Long Live the Queen of Contentment

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is it boon docking or dry camping?

note the hiker in the red shirt for a scale perspective
I’ve always been confused over the terms boon docking and dry camping.  So, here’s my definition…which may vary from yours.

Boon docking is parking somewhere remote, generally for free, with no sort of hookups.  And I don’t mean the kind of “hook ups” that the younger generation might be thinking…I’m referring to living without water, electric or sewer hookups.

Dry camping is when you also don’t have these facilities, but are only doing it as a last resort to stop for the night…such as at a Wal-Mart.  You generally don’t put out the slides, crank out the awning, drop the jacks…you’re just parked someplace safe for the night.  Although I’ve heard horror stories of RV’ers setting up camp at Wal-Marts with grills going and music blaring and settling in.  I fear that this small group of bad apples will ruin it for those who are respectful.

While at Big Bend National Park I considered us to be a hybrid version of the two.  We have no facilities but still pay $7 a night (it would be $14 without our Senior Pass). But is a picturesque area to be in and we enjoyed it there a lot.  So is it boon docking or dry camping?

Curious campers want to know.

Long Live the Queen of the Dry-Dock-Boon-Camping

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Things that go bump in the night

We all experience things that to “bump in the night” but it seems there’s much more of it living in an RV than in our sticks & bricks “Big House”.

Some of this is no doubt from living closer to others than we did before.  Our previous backyard was a bit like a sanctuary and the only sounds were birds and the sound of the waterfall emptying into the pond.  Sure we had our wildlife sounds, but these sounds are so different.

The other night, actually it was 4:00 am so it was morning I guess, there was a strange cry.  I jerked awake and listened at the window to see what in distress.  Was it a human cry for help?  No, it sounded more animal…but what kind of animal?  There was a definite canine quality to it, so possibly a coyote.  But then I could hear what sounded like squealing also…a wild boar?  Perhaps a coyote was attacking a wild boar?  Or, just as likely it could be a wild boar attacking a coyote.  We did see a dead boar on the roadside today, so maybe that was it.  Interesting road kill they have down here.

Then there are the sounds of big rigs coming in or going out at all hours.  Usually late at night it’s coming in.  But I suppose there may be someone leaving in the dark of night also, who knows.

The highway is close by and it doesn’t seem to make much noise until about 4:00am.  This must be when everything comes to life…coyotes, boars, and truck drivers.  You can hear the sound of big rigs swooping down the highway. 

Left Brain has a voice prompt on his cell phone that will suddenly announce “one new email” and the female voice expresses this news WAY too chipper for me.  She sounds authentically happy for him that this came in.  I could live without this at 4:00am also.  Who is sending him emails or messages at that time of night, I mean day?

The other noise isn’t loud, but just as startling.  It’s October now and the nuts on the oak tree are falling…seems those like to come down in the early morning hours as well.  It’s just a little “ping” and “plunk”, but when you live in a canned ham, it sounds louder than it seems it should.

Now rain on the metal roof –now that I love!  But if it gets real windy I’m reminded of the houses they pointed out in the park that are hurricane proof.  Hmm. I’m hoping to avoid that situation in an RV!

So, my question is:  when it’s seemingly quiet from about 11 pm to 4 am is it really an absence of noise or am I just sleeping soundly at that time?  In some places things are open and going nonstop, not so much down here in rural Texas.  In our little sleepy town most everything closes at 10pm and isn’t open at all on Sunday.  So maybe it really is that quiet after 10 pm.

Anyway, in spite of all the odd sounds we seem to be sleeping well in our new little digs and will gradually get completely accustomed to all that night music.  But until then, it’s interesting to sit at the window and gaze out into the dark wondering what’s out there.

Good night, y’all

Long live (and sleep) the Queen of the Night

Friday, October 26, 2012

Terlingua and Presido

Our plans had been to move to Terlingua and travel the other part of the park and then the next day take 170 to Presidio.  It was a good plan but then I became afflicted by whatever it was that Left Brain had.  He's so sweet...he shares everything equally with me.  I could have lived without this.

perhaps next time we'll stay at this charming establishment..I think not
This was where I learned how efficiently our bathroom is set up with the sink and toilet being spaced just perfectly for any emergency, especially if they happen at the same time.  Okay, too much information.

this would make for an easy volunteer duty at the community garden
Needless to say, we lost a full day as I moan and groaned and slept continuously.  Every muscle hurt, my legs ached, I was freezing, I was sweating...total misery.  But thankfully Left Brain is a good caretaker also and with time the symptons went away.  The next day I was much better, just very weak.

residential neighborhood in Terlingua
So we took a relaxing drive into Presidio, about 70 miles away.  Our plan was to go over for lunch and return.  We started out with touring historic Terlingua, the Ghost Town.  It's really kind of hard to distinguish the ghost town from the current one as there are people and businesses in the ghost town.

yup, they have everything in this huge city
The trip over and back was like riding a roller coaster, with lots of hill cresting where you can't see where the road goes next to tight curves.  The entire drive follows the Rio Grande River.  I'm sure it was beautiful, but I was still a bit fazed and greenish tinged.

the sign at the top says hill, just in case you hadn't figured it out by then
Our most exciting find in Presidio was a car wash. Left Brain had been fussing and fretting for days over how filthy the car was and you are prohibited from washing them in the campgrounds due to the lack of water.  So this was like an oasis to him.

a little cemetary in Terlingua
Then we had lunch at a tiny cafe where I believe every law enforcement officer and border patrol were currently eating.   We decided not to walk across the border into Mexico, just not interested and too weak feeling.

a cute little rest area
The ride back seemed even more of a carnival ride as the burrito settled into my gut - my first solid food in 24 hours.  Maybe that wasn't such a good choice?  But we got back safely and after a two hour nap I felt much better.  Tomorrow we'll start to head north and into New Mexico as we slowly make our way into Arizona.

Long Live (Please!) the Queen of the Wild West

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's a small, small world

The night before we left Rio Grande Village we took our computer down to the laundry room (where the Wi-Fi Hotspot was) to do a Skype call with the family.  It's always good to see their faces and catch up while on the road.

It was a hot sticky day, as most had been, and the laundry room was packed with people doing laundry, using their computers and taking the $1.50 coin operated showers.  It was mildly air conditioned in that space so it was a mecca of sorts for many of us.

During the visit they mentioned that the grandparents of one of the kids was traveling to Big Bend also.  It was when they said they had an airstream that my ears perked up.  I had watched one of those circling the campground like a shark looking for the perfect spot to set up.  Could it be?  So, they armed us with the names of the grandparents and we had planned to check them out the next day.

This is when the "bug" hit us.  It attacked Left Brain first and he spent many an hour behind the bathroom door where I could hear the most disgusting sounds emerging.  This was followed by a period of muscle pain, lethargy and headache.  Being the doting wife I am, I went into nurse mode.

I did take a moment to swing past the airstream in question and sure enough, it had Minnesota plates.  But, there was nobody home.  So I ripped out a page of an old Readers Digest and wrote a cryptic note across it, plunked a rock on top of it and let it go at that.

Once we got situated in our new digs we went out exploring the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  This is a 32 mile beautiful drive through deserts, canyons, mesas and mountains and is listed in the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways.  They've listed the best 275 drives in the US.  So, we have one of them now.  Only 274 left to go.

The first side expedition we took was to the Sam Nail Ranch, an old homestead and was my favorite place.  There was a shady spot with a bench and if you sat for a while the birds seemed to come from everywhere.  When leaving we passed a couple and I noticed the man was wearing a t-shirt that mentioned Ely MN.  Hmmmm.   I wondered but said nothing.

Our next stop was to check out a scenic overlook and use the bathrooms.  You tend to use these when ever you find them as they are far and few between.  There was a couple sitting in the shade of a tree having their lunch.  It was the guy with the Ely MN t-shirt.  Hmmm.  And the truck had Minnesota license plates.  Okay, now I had to ask.

So I sauntered up to two complete strangers and casually asked if they were Lydia's grandparents.  They were very surprised and said "Yes!".  It seems after leaving my note they had scoured the campground looking for Minnesota license plates to try to find us.

It's really a small small world when you find yourself chatting with a couple you'd only heard about less than 24 hours previously in a place as large as Big Bend.  To give you an idea of the size of this park, consider that it has its own desert and complete mountain range.  You could drop Rhode Island into the park very comfortably.

Now that we'd met we kept running into each other every time we stopped.  They were delightful people and I hope to meet them again someday.  And so it goes with our new life, meeting strangers on the road and developing friendships.

Long Live the Queen of New Friends


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goodbye Rio Grande Villlage

We were camped in a beautiful setting and we enjoyed it very much, but we've learned some interesting things about ourselves on this journey.

You can see from the photo above that this is definitely "off season" and we had lots of room.  We loved the view of the mountains right behind us.  Behind the tree is a cement patio with cover, picnic bench and bear proof food storage box.

Right behind us was a trail to the nature walk, complete with bridge and benches to watch the birds.  It was surrounded by tall grasses that swayed in the wind.


It was great to have cheap camping but we really are too old to be "roughing it" if you will.  Yes, we still have water on board but I never realized how much I enjoyed electricity!


Even without the internet available, I couldn't mess around on the computer with my photoshop projects very long until the battery is depleted.  And when you run the generator you're using gas and that's well over $4 a gallon down here.
This is a a glimpse of the road on the way to the hot springs.  Good thing most of it is one way!

this is the hot springs we drove several miles and then hiked to - it's a constant 105 degrees

So, even though we had one more day paid for I told Left Brain I was sick of "camping" and wanted to go home...meaning I wanted to use the comforts of our RV.

We had a Skype visit with the kids the night before we bailed out.  That was done in the laundry area of the office on his computer until the battery went dead and we lost them. During the call we learned that our oldest granddaughter's friend's grandparents were also in Big Bend.  She mentioned that they had an airstream and we had just watched one drive around earlier that night looking for a spot to park.  Such a small world.

old building near the hot springs
Shortly after the call an ambulance went screaming by.  This is a scary thought when you consider the closest town with a hospital is 100 miles away(one way) and these roads mostly have a 25 - 35 mile an hour speed limit with 15 mph on the hairpin curves.  That's a long time to wait for help to come and take you somewhere for treatment.  I was wondering if it was heat related or the mountain lion got somebody.

During this call there were people coming in and out using their computers, doing laundry and we had a couple of little kids checking out everything we were doing. Cute little kids, but there was no privacy or quiet and it was hard to hear everything said.
Note:  Roadrunners do NOT go beep-beep!

As soon as the call was over we raced back to the RV to enjoy the one hour of AC with the generator until we had to shut it off for the night.

When we left the next day I had hoped to connect with the other grandparents, but they were already out for the day.  So I left a note with our greetings and who we were.  It would have been nice to meet them, but we were anxious to get outta Dodge!  That's the beauty of this life. Not happy where you are?  Turn the key and go.

Long Live the Queen of Comfort

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You can't say you weren't warned!

For the most part the Big Bend National Park is unspoiled by a lot of extraneous signage.  But they do post the ones that are most pertinent.

Hmm.  What say honey?  Should we take the wee ones for a bit of a hike today?  Does pushing the baby in the stroller constitute "meals on wheels"?

Okay, maybe this isn't a good one to travel on towards dusk, how about this trail over here...well, maybe not.  I know it says not to run, but I only need to outrun Left Brain and then I'm okay.

It seems that each way you turn there is some sort of danger.

Everywhere you look there are bear proof trash cans, which were granny-proof also until some nice young thing showed me how to release the latch.  Yikes, I'm apparently not smarter than your average bear.
the big yellow box is for food storage.  there is a warning attached to the bench about javelinas

There's even signs in the picnic shelters warning you about the javelinas.  I had visions of huge wild boars running about the park, and they do...but there aren't as big as I had imagined.  They're more the size of a potbellied pig...but with some ornery looking tusks.

So I've started to fear a bit fearful of all the creatures roaming about, until I saw this cute little bunny.  Until I remembered the killer rabbit from Monte Python.  I kept my eye on him also.

They only casually mention the five varieties of poisonous snakes and that generally the scorpions and tarantulas won't harm you. I mean...look at the size of this thing crossing the road!

Just in case you wanted to see him up close and personal, here's a shot I took after I leaped out of a still moving car. I still can't believe I did that for a photo of a spider.  After seeing this you could not PAY me enough money to sleep in a tent down here.

Well, that's been our lesson in wildlife danger for today.
Class dismissed.

Long Live the Queen of Dangerous Encounters

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Desert in 3 D


If you thought you were going to have a short video clip here... you were wrong.  It’s just my clever way of relating some important survival facts to you.  So pay attention…this is important!

It is crucial while living in the desert to get enough water in order to avoid dehydration.  They always recommend having a gallon of water with you at all times.  I never knew how good warm (almost hot) water could taste.  When you’re thirsty it’s already too late, you’ve started to dehydrate.

I’ve seen what dehydration does to fruits and being a woman of advanced years as it is, I take precaution to avoid this process.  Neither of us can tolerate the sun very long, so we can't get too far away to be in any harm.

Diet is important also, you tend to need a little more salt to help retain that fluid…who’d have ever thought I’d want to retain fluid!  We also try to eat things that have moisture in them.  My favorite in this category is ice cream.  Even better with peanuts (for that salt) and bananas for potassium.  I’m not sure what the chocolate does, but I’m sure it’s vital. Left Brain doesn’t go along with this thought, but it’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

While reading an old Reader’s Digest the other day I learned that pomegranate is good for the memory, or at least I think that’s what it said, I don't really recall clearly.  To be on the safe side, I now have a frozen Daily’s pomegranate marguerite every night.  You can never be too careful.

Now for those sticklers out there waiting for the 3rd “D” (you know who you are) the last important lesson to learn while in the desert is to avoid diarrhea.  This is crucial for so many reasons.  Keep in mind that there is nothing around here for miles and miles.  So when that queasy feeling hits during a hike it’s a real eye opener.  What are you gonna do?

There’s literally nothing to go and hide behind to do your business.  The cactus doesn’t block much of the view; even if there’s nobody around…one still feels compelled to hide this activity.  Plus there’s the danger of squatting down in the wrong spot and angering a scorpion, rattlesnake or tarantula, like this cute little furry fellow.
yes, I shot this photo - and saw more than one that day.....yuck!

And let’s say that you found a nice big clump of cactus and survived any bites or stings.  How do you handle the paperwork?  It’s not like being in the woods of the Midwest where I knewwhich leaves were okay to use.  There are simply no leaves here to serve as toilet paper.

So leaving you with that image burned into your mind is my presentation of the desert in 3D.

Long Live the Queen of Always Carrying Extra Toilet Paper