A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Arizona

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 23: Jerome and Tuzigoot

Please bear with me as I catch up on our blog by posting a few posts a day.  I want to share our journey with you and I want to…

Please bear with me as I catch up on our blog by posting a few posts a day.  I want to share our journey with you and I want to have a day by day account to give to the boys so they can remember this adventure. We just spent 10 days in Austin with my best friend.  I typically write at night or in the morning but since I rarely get to be with her I spent every free moment I could hanging out and creating memories.

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Jerome, an old mining town, is nestled high atop Cleopatra Hill in Arizona’s Verde Valley. In 1900s,  Jerome was a boom town. Copper had been discovered and thousands flooded to Jerome their hearts filled with ambition.  Some even referred to Jerome as the “wickedest town in the west”. If only those crumbling walls could talk. Jerome’s population reached it’s peak of 15,000 during the 1920’s but every good party comes to an end and in 1953 the mines closed. Not long after, Jerome was declared a ghost town with a population of around 50 people. Leave it to the artists to rediscover the beauty of Jerome during the 1960s and 1970s.  Today Jerome is a communtiy of about 500 people.  Artists, artisans, writers, and families seek out Jerome for another kind of wealth.  The streets are no longer filled with miners in search of an improved life but tourists walk up and down the hilly streets reflecting on a different era.

We wandered around the worn streets and down a slope to the front face of an old building that sat precariously on the mountain. The walls had long ago crumbled but the facade arched proudly  to the sky.  We noticed a sign for glass blowing demonstrations. “Glass blowing demonstrations from 12-ish to 5-ish” We headed in and much to the boy’s delight a man with long grey hair tucked under a red bandana was giving a glass blowing demonstrtation.  He spun, shaped, and colored the molten mass until he had a tear drop shaped stem that shimmered in the light that poured through the large windows.

The Jerome Historical Society’s Mine Museum was well worth the $2 admission (children are free).  The museum boasts many relics and exhibits that help bring the town’s history to life.  Just down the hill is the Jerome State Historic Park.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  Thing 1 was really ticked because he wanted to see the Douglas Mansion. However, the Audrey Headframe Park was open right next door and the boys got to stand on glass above a 1,900′ shaft.

After Jerome we took a short drive to the Tuzigoot National Monument.

Tuzigoot is the remnant of an ancient pueblo built by the Singua around 1000 AD. The views are amazing and I imagine haven’t changed much since the Singua gazed across the valley. There is also a museum where you can look at artifacts and learn about the site’s excavation.

On our way home we passed a Goodwill. Brent stayed in the car while the boys and I puttered around the store. As I was going through a rack of jackets (I’m on a mission to find a myself a vintage peacoat.) a strange man approached me. After asking if I had found any treasures, he asked if I had dinner plans. Yes, with my husband but thank you. I guess. As I was telling Brent about the brief exchange (that he had watched through the window) Thing 1 piped up, “Why didn’t you say yes?  You could have brought us back something.” That’s one way to look at it.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 22: The Warmth of Freshly Laundered Towels

Today, we had plans but somehow the details of life devoured the time. At 3:30 pm, I still had laundry in the dryer and the sun was getting low. These…

Today, we had plans but somehow the details of life devoured the time. At 3:30 pm, I still had laundry in the dryer and the sun was getting low.

These sort of days frustrate me. Especially now that we are living on the road and there are towns to be explored and national monuments around the corner.

Yet, I’m learning these days are necessary. After all there is laundry to be done, a house to clean, and minds that need to rest.

While I shuffled through through domestic duties, the boys played with the kids they met yesterday.

Brent worked.

We lived.

Life almost felt normal. I was glad to have the company of an ex-drug addict while I did laundry. Her honesty and hope was as warm and inviting as the the scent of the freshly laundered towels.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Day 21: Porcupines and Passion

‎”When I got into hunting porcupines, I knew everything there was to know about porcupines. I was passionate.” – Tom from the campground chapel service We set up camp at…

‎”When I got into hunting porcupines, I knew everything there was to know about porcupines. I was passionate.” – Tom from the campground chapel service

We set up camp at Thousand Trails Verde Valley  last night.  Will we ever get in before dark?  While we were driving around blindly looking for a space, I spotted a group of javelinas. Meow Cow must have spotted them too because he got all funky on us, hissing and growling.  That ferocious feline.

It was a cloudy wet morning. After a lingering breakfast, went to the campground chapel service which was really more of a “Bible study”.  Travelers of all ages and walks, sharing their opinion on God and the Bible. The topic was “passion vs. duty”.  Tom was my favorite.  He told of of his passion for porcupine hunting and searching for gold.  How he threw himself into researching and pursuing his hobbies with commitment and passion.  His wish was to pursue God with the same passion.  While clearly simplistic and odd, there was something sweet and touching about his honesty.

Personally, I don’t see passion and duty as mutually exclusive nor do I see one as better than the other.  (Although passion is most certainly more fun.)  They work together.  Duty picks up when passion falters.   I experience this again and again.   Take fitness, for example.  Sometimes I workout because I crave the feeling of strength found through the cold iron of kettlebells, sweat, and time alone for my mind to wander.  Other times, I do it because it’s what I do, like flossing my teeth.  The same goes for marriage, parenting, writing, and my faith.  I try to cultivate and feed passion but try not to shun duty.  Mostly though, I try not to over think it too much because that makes me crazy and I have enough of that for 5 people already.

Anyway, I sat quietly the entire chapel taking it in and stumbling over the hymns.  I didn’t grow up singing hymns.

After two days of driving, we decided to rest the remainder of the day.  The boys met another fulltime RVing family and played with those kids the rest of the day.

I sat at the window and watched the desert landscape.  I’m a little sad and worried.  After the broken refrigerator and new tires, I’m starting to wonder if we should have saved up like we intended before we left.  Certainly, that would have been the dutiful thing to do.  However, passion took over and we took off, trusting that God will provide.  Clearly, I’m as simplistic as Tom.  Maybe, I should take up porcupine hunting.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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So Much for Kicks on Route 66

I like this quiet little campground nestled out here in the middle of nowhere Fort Mohave. It’s not much more than a parking lot in a desert but you can…

I like this quiet little campground nestled out here in the middle of nowhere Fort Mohave. It’s not much more than a parking lot in a desert but you can see the mountains in the distance, it’s clean, and there is a little random cactus garden between the office and the parking lot.  This morning, I saw a roadrunner dart through the garden.

After a breakfast, we took the RV back to the tire shop.  As it turns out there is nothing wrong with the mechanics of the axel and suspension the tires are just delaminating. Unfortunately duck tape won’t fix this problem. The numbers are running through my head.  Once again as “luck” would have it, I had the exact amount in my paypal account from selling stuff on ebay before we left.  I guess I won’t be getting that new camera lens afterall.  Something about this trip is makes me feel like a college student scraping together money to buy a pizza.

We while we were getting the tires put on we drove over to Nevada and filmed a workout for Girl Heroes in the rain.  Shortly, after lunch we were back on the road shortly after lunch.  Not without a stop at the Goodwill in Laughlin where I found an adorable Marc Jacobs dress for $5 and a peacoat for Brent.

Back on the road.

Hours later we stopped at, Seligman, a town on Route 66.  We had heard there were cars painted like the cars in the movie Cars. (What a sentence.)  We exited the freeway and drove down the nearly deserted street to Delgadillo’s.  It was closed.  In fact, almost the entire town was closed despite it being 4:30 pm on a Saturday.  We got out and walked a bit and I had this eeery feeling come over me.  It was similiar to the feeling I got when I “met” Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.  The town seemed to be suspended in time, waiting for something that was never going to come.  Everything looked fun but frozen like a painted smile on a clown.  Bright colored signs advertising “Route 66” were on every delapitated building.  A group of mannequins posed happily on a roof overlooking the empty street was about as much as I could take so we headed back to the car.

So much for getting our kicks on Route 66.

Love and Laugher,
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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