A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Adventure

Day 26: Content to the Bone

Golden plains stretch as far as the eye can see.  The sun beats against my face.  I shift in my seat but cannot escape its glare.  James Vincent McMorrow’s voice…

Golden plains stretch as far as the eye can see.  The sun beats against my face.  I shift in my seat but cannot escape its glare.  James Vincent McMorrow’s voice fills the cabin and his lyrics stir my heart.  My body is tired and achey from hours of sitting yet I’m content.  Content to my bones.

After there days of go, go, go.  I’m ready for a day on the road.  We are headed to Carlsbad to experience the mystery of the caverns.

Eastern New Mexico is desolate.  We passed nothing but flat land and run down buildings that are slowly returning home to the soil.  I love it and prefer it over a cityscape any day. I will miss the west.

I open up my computer to try to write for a few minutes.  Suddenly after hours of silence I get a barrage of questions.  Thing 1 needs to know all about the campground.  Brent is wondering if I can make calls.  Traveling as a family is wonderful yet it is not without frustrations (as you might imagine).  Solitude is scarce these days.   I must carve it out in my mind amidst questions, quarrels, and cramped quarters.  The vast plains out the window help.

After hours of driving, we come to Roswell, New Mexico.  The store fronts are plastered with little green cartoon aliens capitalizing off the supposedly UFO crash of 1947.

Meow Cow wakes up from his slumber on the console to take in the town.

“So that explains it.”

We drove off into the sunset straight to the Walmart parking lot.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 24: Neurotic Nomads – Montezuma Castle and The Petrified Forest National Park

At Montezuma Castle, it is easy to imagine being Sinagua people making our way through the sycamore and cottonwood trees to gather water at Beaver Creak before climbing up the…

At Montezuma Castle, it is easy to imagine being Sinagua people making our way through the sycamore and cottonwood trees to gather water at Beaver Creak before climbing up the ladders to our home way up on the cliffs.  Except that I’m afraid of heights.

Montezuma Castle was mistakingly named after the Aztec king by settlers in the mid 1800s.  As it turned out, it didn’t belong to the Aztecs, in fact, it’s not even a castle.  It is an adobe community clinging tight to the cliffs.  Like Tuzigoot, it was built by the Sinagua nearly 2000 years ago.  Until 1951, visitors could go inside Montezuma Castle but due to vandals it was closed.  Now visitors can stroll the path among the white barked sycamores and imagine, if you are like me, life as a Sinagua, your life depending on the whims of Beaver Creek.

Back to the reality of being a newschool nomad, after both boys were forced to earn earned their Jr. Ranger badge, we hit the road and headed hurriedly east on I-40.  There would be no long bathroom breaks or food stops.  We were on a mission to get to the Petrified Forest National Park to see the highest concentration of petrified wood in the world and the painted desert by 5:00 pm.  As long are you are at the gate by 5:00 pm the park lets you in and you can at least take the 28 mile drive through the park to soak up the beauty.

A National Monument and Park in one day.  Maybe we should be the neurotic nomads.

At 4:15 we pulled into the gate with just enough time to visit the visitor’s center (sometimes it pays to be bossy) and stroll among the ancient stubborn trees who refused to fall prey to decay.

The boys climbed on trees that were as hard…as well…rock.

I had doubted our decision take the time for a detour but the first glimpse of the hills covered in Saturn-like rings of color (my photos do not even to begin to capture their beauty), my doubts were put to rest.

It was otherworldly lovely.

The boys kept exclaiming we were on Tatooine (a planet in Star Wars).

As magical as the sunset was I was sad to see her disappear and leave us in darkness as we drove the last 5 miles back to I-40.

If you ever get the chance, drive through the painted desert at sunset.  You will never be the same.

I couldn’t imagine a day filled with more beauty despite going to bed in an Alburquerque Walmart parking lot.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 19 : Pit Stop

  Driving days are my favorite.  The endless black snake of pavement makes me feel like each cell of my body has a breath of it’s own. While on the…

 

Driving days are my favorite.  The endless black snake of pavement makes me feel like each cell of my body has a breath of it’s own.

While on the road my mind wonders.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m running from something.  I search every nook and cranny of my mind and heart looking for the thing that draws me to the open road.  If there is something, I’ve yet to find anything except the love of adventure that is around every corner or behind each mountain.

Today we didn’t get far in our exploration when we noticed at a rest stop that our two back tires on the right side of our rv were rubbing together.  A few days ago I mentioned to Brent I smelled burning rubber but he didn’t hear me and when the smell dissapated I passed it off as “the brakes”.  Have I mentioned we are newbies?

The rest stop was still a good two hours from the nearest town.  Brent contemplated fixing the tires himself but we decided for the safety of our family to take it to a shop.  Only problem was the nearest shop was a hundred miles away and the afternoon was slipping away behind the mountains.  I began making phone calls and found the closest tire shop in Fort Mojave. I told the woman we should be there by 4:30 just before the shop closed at 5 pm.

Wrong.

Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time. When I called her to let her know we were just around the corner she said they had closed.  Awesome.

I must have sounded pathetic desperate because she said one of the guys could take a quick look at it.  Unfortunately, it looked as if a bolt had been “sheared” and a leaf spring needed to be replaced.  They said they could take a better look at it in the morning.

As luck would have it, a campground in our RPI network was just two blocks away.  Literally.  Full hookups for $11. Living in luxury in Fort Mohave.

We set up camp and I set to “work” worrying about how much tomorrow morning’s repair was going to cost.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Overcoming Fear at Point Sal

I heard the sound of a harp digitally strumming from a distant land of the awake.  I felt Brent’s warm body shuffle next to me.  It was 6:15 am. Realizing…

I heard the sound of a harp digitally strumming from a distant land of the awake.  I felt Brent’s warm body shuffle next to me.  It was 6:15 am.

Realizing that it was the alarm, I asked  just to be certain,  if it was indeed the alarm.  One can hope. I told Brent I was going to stay in bed and he could go alone with Matt.   He insisted I come.

Fifteen minutes later, I was wedged in the crevice between the bed and the closet nervously searching for my clothes.  Getting to your things isn’t always easy in an rv but digging through plastic drawers of black pants for a particular pair of black pants when your nerves are on edge is a test of character.  I got dressed and shuffled across the cold sidewalk to the house where Brent had prepared scrambled eggs and black coffee.

At 6:50 I headed upstair to wash my face thinking I have 10, probably 20, minutes to get ready.  Not so.  Matt showed up 10 minutes early.  We piled into his van and  headed off to Point Sal.  I settled into the front seat excited and nervous for my first ever mountain bike ride.

Bikes scare me.

This explains why I haven’t owned once since I was 10 years old.  Once when I was riding along a country road in Indiana a car drove by and the side view mirror hit my forearm leaving a long red cut from my elbow to my wrist.  They didn’t even stop.

But the real fear comes from when I was in elementary and my little brother fell on his bike in the back yard.  The details are now  fuzzy in my mind but I remember it like this. My brother was riding around in the backyard when he fell going down a slope behind the garage.  The handle bar hit his stomach.  There was a red mark but the skin wasn’t broken. Thousands of little boys fall on their bikes every day so there didn’t seem to be reason for much concern.  However, my parents watched him for a few hours and noticed he was getting more lethargic. They took him to the emergency room.  He ended up being in the county hospital for a week getting sicker and sicker.  Why they didn’t do a ct scan right away or whatever it is they do to see what was wrong I don’t know.  Maybe because it was a small hospital and they didn’t have the right equipment.  Maybe the ct scans didn’t exist back then.  I dunno.   I remember visiting him and his little pale body lay motionless in the hospital bed with tubes coming out of his nose, mouth, and stomach.  All from a simple bike crash that didn’t even break the skin. After a week, he was transferred to a children’s hospital where they discovered he had a punctured pancreas. They removed a part of the damaged organ and he came home almost a month after the accident.  Just a little bike ride down a slope in our backyard.

Today, I was going to face my fear of bike riding and hit the trail.  I was nervous to be sure but I was also excited.  Brent used to love riding his mountain bike in the hills of Santa Barbara and for years I’ve dreamed of finding the courage to join him.

We parked the van and unloaded the bikes.

It was still cold from the night but the morning couldn’t have been more beautiful.  The sun was still barely above the mountains casting golden rays over the hills.  Matt and Brent gave me a few instructions and we headed up the old fire road.  Soon after we started, I realized that they were right and my seat was too low.  I wanted to be able to touch the ground with my feet.  However, my legs were getting thrashed and we hadn’t gone very far.  Raising my seat gave my legs an immediate relief and we continued upward.  Every turn surprised us with a new view seemingly more magical than the last.

We reached the top and started our descent toward the beach.  They adjusted my seat and told me to put my weight back and ride my breaks if I needed it.

The road narrowed and tall reeds lined the sides of the path creating “a tunnel”.  Broken reeds poked up through the old asphalt like spears. They boys rode up ahead of me and I “sat back in the saddle” lost in the exhilaration overcoming a fear and of the ride itself.

The road narrowed again to a “single track” and I took a deep breath determined to continue on my bike. I went as slowly and as carefully as possible trying to avoid  deep grooves where the earth had been washed away.  At one point, I got off my bike and walk down the loose rock.  No shame in using my head.

We parked and continued by foot down the hill to the remote beach.

The sun had warmed the day and we walked along the sand each in our separate thoughts.

I found a dancing starfish.  (Yes, I know they are technically called sea stars.)

And I decided to dance with it.

We saw dolphins.  There was an abandoned dirt bike under a cliff.   One can only imagine how it got down there.

The day was perfect yet there was work to be done so we headed back up the trail toward our bikes and began our ascent.  Back on the rough single track I fell.  I slipped off the back of my bike pulling it onto me and landing in the tall reeds.  Ouch.  But I lived and continued by foot to our meeting place.

I headed up the next part of the trail  ahead of the boys because I knew within minutes they would catch and pass me.  They did.

Halfway up I realized I was going to half to walk and half ride.  It was quite a blow to my ego but a relief to my legs. What goes down must go up when mountain biking.  I continued walking and riding until we reached the peak.

After a short rest we started down the last phase of the trail.   We adjusted my seat and took off.  The boys again quickly disappeared ahead of me checking in every so often to make sure they hadn’t lost me off the side of the mountain.

Exhilaration.

The wind, bumps, curves…all of it, but especially the thrill of overcoming fear, made my cells buzz with the thrill of living.

Love and laughter,
Jenn

 

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On the Road At Last

We felt like a thieves slipping through the night. Thieves refusing to follow “rules” and breaking out of the “box” we had created for ourselves. Thieves, tired from days of…

We felt like a thieves slipping through the night. Thieves refusing to follow “rules” and breaking out of the “box” we had created for ourselves. Thieves, tired from days of planning and plotting yet determined to complete the final phase of the mission.

Originally we had planned to leave in August.  We soon realized the absurdity of that plan and pushed our departure back to October 9th. It would have been a perfect way to celebrate our unofficial official anniversary. But as a bird had reminded us 12 and a half years ago when he dropped a “gift” on Brent’s breakfast muffin as we strolled along the Thames during the wee morning hours in newly engaged bliss– shit happens…even during the best of times.

Brent got sick and lay in bed for 5 days.  Work projects took longer than planned.  No matter how much I packed it still felt like I was just starting.  We changed our date of departure to October 16th.  Then the 19th.

Finally on October 23, we found ourselves walking in stealth to the rv parking lot in the back of our neighborhood that had begun to sleep.  We had hitched the trailer to the truck before the sun had settled so our arms, tired from 15 hours days of packing and cleaning, were loaded with our remaining items.  Being in front of our little ragtag group, I held my breath hoping to avoid the spider webs that I knew hung like valences over the path every evening. The pugs ran in circles (we had accidentally packed away the leashes) around our feet, darting in and out of each driveway we passed.  Poor confused creatures.  The cat crouched in bag strapped across my body.  I like to think he was excited to be a part of our “heist”.

This was not how I imagined it.

During months prior, I had daydreamed of our departure and it looked like this. The warm California sun would pour out its magic making everything more beautiful than reality.  The RV would be meticulously packed and organized. We would stand in a circle holding hands praying for our trip.  We would hugs our friends one last time and lean out the windows waving and etching their beautiful faces into our minds.  Then we would drive into the sunset to live adventurously ever after.

Instead I felt like an outlaw.

And I loved it.

Life is rarely picturesque and beauty is so much more than a Hallmark card.   Once settled into the truck we said our prayers and drove north into the night.  The pugs were tucked into their “den”, the cat curled up, the boys fell asleep in the back seat, and Brent and I held each other’s sore and tired hands our eyes resting on the road.  It didn’t matter that Thing 2 was wearing his brother’s clothing, that we had at the eleventh hour let go of some of our favorite items, and I didn’t know where I packed my toothbrush.

We had done it.  After years of dreaming, we were on the road with almost everything we owned in tow behind us.  The fumes of exhilaration ran out and the peace of God settle my heart.  It will be ok.

Let the adventure begin.

love and laughter,
jenn

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Who, what, when, and why????

(photo by Raya Carlisle) Well to our almost brand new blog.  Since, this is the first post and I’ll get straight to the point with the 5 Ws. Who ? Brent,…


(photo by Raya Carlisle)

Well to our almost brand new blog.  Since, this is the first post and I’ll get straight to the point with the 5 Ws.

Who ?
Brent, Jenn, Thing 1, Thing 2, Meow Cow (the cat), Nigel, and Nico (the pugs)

What?
A year long cross country road trip.

When?
ASAP.  Which realistically means sometime this fall or possibly early winter.

Where ?
We would like to see all 48 contiguous states.  If time and finances allow, we would also like to drive up to Alaska.  Hawaii would be awesome but I’m not sure how well the RV would do in the ocean. However, we are sort of thinking about adding some rocket boosters to the RV and checking out the moon.

Why ?
To learn about the country.  To learn about each other.  To slow down.  To live simply.  To live with less.  To seek adventure.  To seek God.

From there I’ll let you decide if you want to stick around.  I hope you do!

With love,
Jenn

 

 

 

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