- Spare Tire On the Back February 16, 2018
It happens. After spending a week in what we thought was an overrated and overpriced park in New Orleans, we happily left a day zcwearly to get to our next destination a day early. Yippee!
Life then happened and then said “Well, not so fast, geeks!” While we were anxious to leave New Orleans, it was on the very infamous I-10, notorious for construction and potholes. We caught a shredded tire on the road, aka “road gators”, with our tow. No, we didn’t have the TPMS system (we have it but the one we bought wasn’t that good) but a kindly stranger really good at mouthing “Your tire is shredded!” from another car. The inevitable result was this beauty.
We had a spare tire but on I-10, didn’t want to change it alone as I-10 doesn’t exactly have a wide breakdown lane. We called trusty Geico for roadside service. Despite telling them where we were, they insisted on doing geolocation and sent the first roadside service. Big mistake, as Geico sent the first servicer to the completely wrong place. The first servicer stated since we were on I-10 they couldn’t come to us. Finally, three hours later, we received the service and were on our way.
It was a bit disconcerting being on the side of I-10 for that long but we managed. We were delayed by three hours and arrived in Gulf Shores 6 hours after departing so it was dark. Luckily we had a pull-through so parking the rig wasn’t tough at all. No life lesson here, only to have a flexible (enough) schedule and identify places to stop along the way if you need. Also? Don’t plan too long of a day. We never plan to go longer than four hours. We’ve done longer (unplanned) as a pleasant surprise rather than planning too long and having to cut the trip shorter than needed. That way there’s no disappointment if you don’t reach your goal. It also cuts yourself some slack. We learned this lesson in our maiden voyage where we planned on going from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in one trip. That’s seven hours via 95, eight hours via 81 (we opted for 81). After encountering torrential rainstorms and seeing at least six accidents, we were forced to stop for the night at Walmart. We underestimated how draining driving the rig was going to be, and in retrospect would’ve planned a halfway stop.
- New Year’s Day January 2, 2018
We’ve kind of dropped off the face of the earth, so it seems, and don’t worry – we haven’t. We could use the same old excuses – we’ve been busy with work, we’ve been busy traveling, the holidays were crazy, the dog ate our posts – but in actuality we’ve just been lazy.
Two months is an awfully long time but also a blink of the eye.
For New Year’s we like to keep it low-key. When you travel all the time and have excitement year-round, it’s a blessing to say “we’re enjoying the quiet”. We experimented in the kitchen with those Instant Pot recipes we’d been dying to try. We caught up on those shows we’ve been neglecting on the Apple TV. We had a nice dinner (this was a gamble, depending on the Instant Pot results, and paid off) and had some nice wine (that was a guarantee, thanks to our travels we’d collected some nice bottles).
Being honest, New Years has always been a time of sadness as well as a time of hope. Kim lost her birthmother to breast cancer on December 30th one year. Last year we lost Nala on December 31st. Every year the park where we stay has a New Years party and we opt to stay in, spending the time with each other, thinking about the previous year and about the year to come.
Looking back on the year, we started out with sadness with Nala’s death. She was such a wonderful little kitty with a meow that was extremely distinctive. Now and then, when a sound on the TV is just so, we hear her. We still miss her. We still have her Christmas twin but it just isn’t the same.
We spent a couple months in Vegas, freezing our keisters off but enjoying the confines of Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort. We celebrated our anniversary by taking a helicopter ride and found someone to build the desk. While it was sad to leave, we became too comfortable there and knew that the weather (freezing in the winter) would be hot hot hot in the summer. We moved onto Newport Beach, CA and then onto San Francisco. We saw Hamilton twice , ate a ton of food and drank a lot of wine and then moved onto Oregon.We encountered our first snowfall while driving the rig there and saw some family for Easter. It rained a LOT in Oregon and were glad to escape it by way of Wyoming.
While in Oregon we noticed that Ally’s symptoms came back and confirmed her diagnosis in Oregon. We rushed to Colorado to say our goodbyes. She was such a great RV dog up until the last days. She was our heart dog and we are happy we were able to make it to one of our favorite states to properly say goodbye.
Summer was spent in Colorado: Fort Collins, Aurora (Cherry Creek), Central City, Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, of which most of our summer was spent in Breck. There we encountered our second snow but saw it warm up to ride many bike miles, see the Continental Divide, attended several festivals, and saw the eclipse, among other things.
From there we went to New Mexico for a quick stop over, not seeing much of it. Then we went to Texas and ate like Texans both in restaurants and the Texas State Fair. We then stopped in Louisiana/New Orleans and then Alabama for our final destination for the year in Florida. Ten states in a year – not bad (not even counting our brief stints to different locales for work in Wisconsin, Las Vegas and Colorado). While in Florida we saw the new Star Wars movie, went to Key West, got stuck in Key West (that’s another story), had several fixes done while here (that’s yet another story) and will be leaving to go to Clermont, where we started out two years ago, to prepare for our east coast tour.
Happy New Years everyone!
- 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!