- Long Strange Trip November 1, 2017
After we said goodbye to Breckenridge, we had a choice: take our time getting to Florida or power through. Powering through meant taking at least a week off of work and not ever taking time to see things. Taking our time meant we may need to stay a week in a place where we had no interest in staying and no relief of “we’re here for a while, let’s relax”. It is one downside of working from the road is you actually work during the day, so you can’t explore the biggest ball of string in the world because at the end of the day, it’s only the biggest ball of string and we wouldn’t be there if it weren’t so darned convenient.
Now we’re here at Riverbend Motorcoach Resort (what a beautiful park!) and we can now reflect on the trip.
Time: 2 months
Hours: 50 (give or take)
Wrong turns taken: 2
Truck stops visited: 10
Emergency stops: 1 (that story comes later!)
Longest trip (without emergency): 5 hours (300 miles)
Longest trip (with emergency): 6 hours (194 miles)
Shortest trip: 1.5 hours (57 miles)
Some of the route doesn’t make logical sense because of our needs/wants. We wanted to go to the Texas State Fair and it was only happening at a certain time. We had to both travel for work so needed to be close enough to an airport. Sometimes we had to book our plane tickets before we were actually there so there was a commitment we needed to make once we booked the flights. For some of these trips we took the rig and tow separately (anything under 2 hours) but for most we did the rig plus tow. A brief overview of the parks we stayed at and of the area:
- Tiger Run RV Resort – Breckenridge, CO – reviewed here. Our second time here, we had much more difficulty with connectivity (internet, cellular) but we love Breckenridge, not necessarily Tiger Run which is hella expensive. We were there for about 4 months.
- Central City KOA – Central City, CO – We stayed here because we remembered the view was fantastic. It was. At night it’s also pretty spectacular. This is an all-gravel KOA so tough for Piper, but we made due. We’d been to the area last year and stayed because we couldn’t get into anything closer to Denver. This is a small Casino area and old mining town (see our run-in with a miner here). We took the tow separate from the rig, making the haul on 70 a bit easier. Kitschy, not much immediately around, but cute for a weekend which is how long we stayed.
- Cherry Creek State Park – Aurora, CO – reviewed here. Our second time here, we learned that staying at a state park during a summer holiday weekend isn’t the best idea thanks to campers who forget basic etiquette and man alive it was loud. We drove the tow separately. We did have a cadre of deer (a group of deer is called a herd, but cadre sounds cooler) visit us. We also preferred our other loop (Buffalo) versus the loop we were in (Coyote). But still, one of our favorites. It is very convenient to Denver. We were there for five days.
- Colorado Springs KOA – Colorado Springs, CO – We wanted to pass through Colorado Springs to see friends but didn’t want to stay at Mountaindale again because it’s so far outside the city itself. This place probably had the most narrow pads we’ve ever seen – which only mattered because they were enclosed inside a curb and we were surrounded by trees, bushes and a sewer cap that we needed to avoid (so not good for big rigs). We drove the tow separately. Convenient to Colorado Springs. We were there for a few days.
- Raton Pass Campground and Cafe – Raton, NM – Okay, we really stayed here because we wanted something convenient on our route and wanted to stay in New Mexico. This sufficed. The sites are TIGHT but we had a mountain view so didn’t notice the rigs kitty cornering. Again, what made this campground was the view and bonus were the hosts. It was convenient to stay for a week as we rested for the next place. It was right over the border of Colorado and quite honestly, we did any restauranting and shopping there – about 15 minutes from the park. We were there for a week.
- Oasis RV Resort – Amarillo, TX – We wanted to go towards Austin so stayed here. They had large lots and sites (we were on an end so even more room). The site we stayed on was made for big rigs so very long. Pads were paved but lots were gravel. It was VERY windy in Amarillo and the dust from the gravel was a bit nuts. We wouldn’t stay in Amarillo again, most likely, but the resort was nice. We also managed to go to the home of the 72 ounce steak and a small fair where we saw a ride break down (twice) and a very gloomy, stormy night. Twister 2 would take place there, if there was a Twister 2. This was our introduction to Texas roads and drivers. Both were a bit nuts. For example, you enter the highway on the left, pretty much all the time. Oncoming traffic needs to yield (not the same throughout most of the country). Also, people in this state tend to NOT pass on the left. Yes, this is a problem throughout most of the country but it is by far the worst we’ve experienced than anywhere else. Not the park’s fault, just the first park we stopped at in Texas! And guess what? Texas in September is HOT. We were there for a week.
- Whistle Stop RV Resort – Abilene, TX – Another pass through. This park is a diamond in the rough because they haven’t finished it yet. They have all the things you’d want but they haven’t finished them yet. It’s all gravel. Good for a one night stop. In Abilene, there was a ton of construction near there which was very confusing and signage on the major roads was poor. Not the park’s fault. We did experience our first, and most likely last, experience with D-Box seats at the movie theater since it was a HOT day. These are seats that recline (yay!) and move with the movie – it is much cooler sounding than it is. It basically means your seat vibrates in any car chase and shooting scene. Good to try once. But the movie theater was brand new and gorgeous. Just a two day stop.
- La Hacienda RV Resort & Cottages – Austin, TX – What a disappointment this park was! Oh boy, this looked promising on RVParkReviews and their site, as well as Google Maps, we didn’t realize how ridiculously tight the roads were. We also didn’t really understand how horribly unlevel their sites were. The staff kept saying “we’ve never had a problem with that site” only to find out that 45 foot class A motorhomes weren’t common on that site. In driving around the park, we saw a lot of class As with their wheels off the ground. Yikes. However! This park has by far the most amazing dogs parks you’ve ever seen. Piper was running around like a little nut – when she zooms, she ZOOMS! – because she didn’t want to leave ever. We suspect that this was an old baseball field split in two. Close enough to Austin which is fun. We were here for two weeks – one because we wanted to explore Austin, another because one of us had to fly out of Austin airport and wanted a secure enough place to stay.
- Bluebonnet Ridge RV Park – Terrell, TX – Great little park that suited our needs (close enough to Dallas for the State Fair, far enough on I-20 west of Dallas to continue our journey when we needed). The pads themselves were rather narrow as well as the sites, but fine. Great neighbors and two parks in one (one nicer one with paved roads/pads for folks staying 6+ months, another for more short-term stays with gravel). We were here for a week because we wanted to take some PTO mid-week and go to the State Fair (explained here).
- River Cities RV Park – Boyce, Louisiana – This was a pass-through park with gravel pads and grass in between. The park is self-sustaining, meaning there isn’t an office. You must make a reservation and pay before entering. Then enter the code to get in and park at one of the assigned spots (one of 40). There seem to be a lot of long-termers. We only stayed for one night as there wasn’t anything around and we didn’t want to unhook.
- French Quarter RV Resort – New Orleans, LA – We were told this was like Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort and Tiger Run. That’s a big fat NOPE. Inside, don’t expect a resort. Expect a parking lot. A nice parking lot, but a parking lot. Our spot was extremely rare as it actually had bushes on it, giving us some privacy (although because of the location there was pool noise). No other site provided this. They had razor wire, which normally you’d think is for birds but those birds would’ve been chicken nuggets with the type if wiring they had. While convenient to the French Quarter, the staff were adamant that we didn’t walk (at least at night), so the convenience is gone when you can’t actually use it! Even worse, inside the “resort”, residents were partying LOUDLY (the night before our departure, when we needed a good night’s rest) until 2:30 am without security doing a thing, until the new security guard on duty told them to stop. The office staff were stellar and told us they were having problems with the security company. New Orleans wasn’t our bag, no matter. We stayed here just shy of a week.
- Gulf State Park – Gulf Shores, AL – This place was really nice. The problem with it was that it was so comfortable. We were happy to be here after French Quarter RV Resort and the beachy surroundings made it awesome. We enjoyed the local fare and just laid low for a week, before our final home stretch!
- Hitchin Post Corral and Campground – Cottondale, FL – This was a pass-through place, convenient on I-10. We left in the early morning, worked, then left that night for our next stop. The hosts were extremely nice. The campground itself was fine for a one-night’s (day’s?) stop.
- Lake City Campground – Lake City, FL – Oh my, we are so close to our final destination! We stayed here one night, but had to pay for two nights because we came at 7 pm and left around 4:30 pm. Again, it was a one-night stop. The sites were incredibly unlevel but long and wide enough for a big rig. Convenient to I-10.
- Riverbend Motorcoach Resort – LaBelle, FL – TBD. We’re here for a month and a half. Time for some R&R, at least from the roads
So it took a while. This is the map view. Holy moly!
In discussing it, if we are going to a bunch of spots with not much to them, we may just power through. That said, we saw some things that were cool, others that weren’t. Explored a bit, had some white knuckle moments on the roads, and are now here. Yay!Continue reading →
- Texas State Fair October 23, 2017
We were going to go straight from Austin to Louisiana until we found out that the Texas State Fair was coming to Dallas. It apparently was huge so we had to do it. To quote the movie Real Genius, it was a moral imperative.
It was indeed big. The food was meh. We saw the vendors and were drooling over the mentions of fried this and fried that. One big bummer is that the state fair had the concept of tickets. Each ticket is worth 50 cents and were a big pain in the butt. The other odd part was that the games required a separate game card, not purchased with tickets (so two payment systems).
The food included fried everything – fruit loops, smores, pumpkin pie and sliders. We also had beef on a stick.
The sights were better than the food. Many from above thanks to a Ferris Wheel.
They were doing a taping of some kind of Carnival Eats with kids, and Guy Fieri was on hand to keep us all entertained.
So would we do it again? Sure, if in the are, we totally would go again but wouldn’t go out of our way to be there. We spent a TON of time there (at least 6 hours) and enjoyed walking around the fair, everything was paved so made for easy walking. We would not get as excited for the food but was still fun!Continue reading →
- Firewood October 9, 2017
Chris was in Las Vegas for a conference at the Mandalay Bay. The night the conference was set to start, he met with clients and about to leave after just paying the bill. They started to head out around 10:15 pm. As they attempted to leave they were locked in by police. Everyone inside knew there was a gunman but no one knew how completely tragic the events would become.
This is our second brush with an American tragedy that was too close for comfort. Kim was on 34th and 7th in New York on 9/11. Chris was in the Mandalay Bay in Vegas when 59 people were gunned down and hundreds of others were injured. We both have tales of the hours and hours we spent trying to get back to home base but we both know that these experiences was a pittance in comparison to what others endured. We have no explanation or reason why it happened. We know that we were damned lucky to be where we were during the time. Even being on the peripheral of these events, they are ever surreal.
We have no words for this tragedy. We just need to carry on in some way. Regina Spektor has a lovely song called “Firewood” which kind of gets to the guts of it.The piano is not firewood yet
They try to remember but still they forget
That the heart beats in threes
Just like a waltz
And nothing can stop you from dancingRise from your cold hospital bed
I’ll tell you, you’re not dying
Everyone knows you’re going to live
So you might as well start tryingLove what you have and you’ll have more loveYou’re not dyingEveryone knows you’re going to loveThough there’s still no cure for crying
We have reservations in two very different locations for the winter. After the hurricanes in Florida we made reservations at Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort, just in case. We stayed at LVM for six months in 2015-2016 (our second winter). We still have reservations for Florida. There is a 75% chance that we’ll be going to Florida because Las Vegas is COLD in the winter (for people who like warmth). That said, the events in Las Vegas won’t deter us from going there again. The weather might, but the events won’t. We will keep traveling throughout this nation.One of the downsides of RVing is the amount of planning you need to do if you have a large RV and want to stay in a popular place. However, life then happens. Hurricanes happen. Our recommendation is if you plan on staying anywhere for a whole season, particularly somewhere there’s weather activity, make alternate plans elsewhere and cancel if you must. Big rigs are tough, particularly if you care to keep them in one piece. We will continue to travel and stay where we want, enjoying what this nation has to offer. That said, we can’t help but feel extreme sadness for all those whose only crime was being in a spot that a madman, or madmen, targeted. It is so tragic and yet so simple, thoughts and prayers don’t even begin to touch it. And during this time, we learned Tom Petty died. One of his songs happens to be the one we sing at the top of our lungs all the time (Free Fallin’). Sigh. Dance on, friends.Continue reading →