My rv adventures began in September 2007 when I traveled with Mehitabel to the LoW East Coast Rally in Marion, NC. There I met people from all over: Indiana, Florida, Canada, Kansas, etc. From them, I learned a lot about where to go and free places to stay .
I did some dancing, got the rush from a couple of men – gee! – and had my first kayak lesson which was lots of fun. An 86-year old gentleman, so light on his feet, taught line dances each morning. I learned (sort of) the Electric Slide, Elvira, and Waltz Across Texas. It seems that I am quite challenged when it comes to dancing.
Throughout the long weekend, there was lots of company and entertainment – a bit too much actually – I occasionally escaped to Mehitabel to rest and read quietly.
On the last day, I had an early breakfast and went out to dump the holding tanks; this was not very successful. I had not parked close enough to the sewer drain, so the sewer hose was stretched to the max. When I opened the valve to the black water tank, the other end of the hose jumped out of the drain & spewed the contents all over - an extremely unfortunate rv adventure. I was glad it was so early and no one was around to witness my embarrassment at having to use Bijou’s pooper scoop to clean up the grass. Yuck! I’ll do better next time.
I arrived back to Raleigh just in time to turn around and take my car to pick up my friend Lyn from the airport. She lives in Salem, NH, and had flown in to share rv adventures with me on a trip North. I was about to head to Nashua, NH, to visit family, show off Mehitabel and attend grandson James’ first birthday party. This was to be the first long trip, and I decided not to tow the car.
Lyn and I headed off the next morning. This rv adventure was fun, and educational! We called ahead to a Wal-Mart in Maryland, but they didn’t welcome RVers and suggested the Timonium Fairgrounds. We took their advice and found a huge, wonderful empty area, but within 15 minutes of getting set up we were kicked out by the security guards, so moved the rig to a nearby “Park & Ride” lot that was right next to the highway. We didn’t get much sleep that night.
We discovered that things are apt to fly around in an RV, as though a poltergeist is at work. I hit a curb going around a tight corner; an overhead cupboard flew open and my plastic dishes cascaded across the floor with a great clatter.
The next day we traveled through PA: horse farms, fields of corn all dry and brown, hills, clear lakes, and lots of trees, some of them just starting to show their fall colors. We took our rv adventure on a detour through Amish country where we saw lots of beautiful farms and horse drawn buggies; it turned out to be a slow, winding, narrow road with no place to stop anywhere. Finally we made it back to the highway & continued on to Winding Hills State Park in Montgomery, NY, a pretty spot in heavy woods on Diamond Lake.
The following day, we made it to
Lyn’s house in Salem and I took off from there to find my son Brian’s house in
Nashua, NH. I got lost, and had to call him for directions, but finally
arrived and backed Mehitabel into his parking lot. We ran a long
extension cord from his kitchen window out to the rig, and I was set. The
first day was muggy, but then we had perfect fall days and chilly
nights. As I was to discover, I still had a lot to learn on my rv adventures.
My 10-year-old grand-daughter, Brianna, spent a night with me and darn near turned into a popsicle. She had not dressed for a cold night and I had not yet figured out that that I had a furnace and could set the thermostat. Nor had I realized the rig would get so cold when the temperature dropped – the bedroom stays about 5-10 degrees warmer than the living area which got down into the 40s. Later that day, we had a great birthday party for James, picking apples at an Carlson Orchards in Harvard, MA.
The next day I left Nashua and drove down to Westborough, MA, to show off Mehitabel to my dad, who was in an assisted living facility. He was quite impressed, though I think he had serious concerns about my rv adventure plan to drive across the country.
From Westborough, I journeyed on to a campground in Rutland, MA, to visit with my brother Jonathan and his family. I had been having some trouble with the slide-out, but when I got to camp, it extended with no problems. The next day, however, as I was preparing to leave, it wouldn’t retract, and I couldn’t make it go in by cranking it manually either. So I was stuck all day trying unsuccessfully to find someone who could come out and fix it. Finally, Jonathan came by after work and managed to muscle it in. Just another RV adventure.
On my way again the following day, I stopped for gas a bit south of Hartford. I noticed the outside rear tire was very low and tried to pump some air into it without success. There were some bikers standing nearby, so I asked them what I was doing wrong. They pointed out that the tire was totally flat and off the rim. Fortunately there was a tire dealer very nearby, so I eased on over there, spent $300 and sat around for a couple of hours while it got replaced. That was dumb – I could have called AAA and used my spare. (I hope these rv mis-adventures mean that my trip to New Mexico will be uneventful.)
Late that afternoon, I finally made it to Allentown, PA, and found the Wal-Mart – another first. Two enormous trucks parked near me at the far end of the lot and ran their diesel engines all night. I felt like they were my guardians.
New Mexico or Bust
On November 20, I was on my way at last, driving through a golden, russet and olive green world toward New Mexico. The plan for this great rv adventure was to meet up with a fellow I’d met at the September Rally who was heading in the same direction. The two of us would then caravan our way out to New Mexico. I left Raleigh about 9:45am and met up with Ken at a rest area in Winston-Salem.
We spent that night at a rest area up in the mountains past Asheville. He was under orders to show up for Thanksgiving at his daughter’s house in Knoxville so we headed there the next day. She and her husband had a lovely house, a barn, 100 head of cattle and two adorable and very shy donkeys. We parked at the barn, he visited various family members that day and on Thanksgiving, we enjoyed THREE Thanksgiving dinners!
On Friday, the 23rd, we left Knoxville and drove across Tennessee,
stopping at an outlet mall just east of Memphis to figure out where the
nearest Wal-Mart was. That parking lot was where Mehitabel decided on her own rv adventure and quit
– there was nothing but a click when I turned the key.
I called AAA and they sent a truck out, but the guy couldn’t figure out what was the matter; next morning AAA worked to find a wrecker and someplace that might be able to fix me up on a holiday weekend. The only one they found was 67 miles in the wrong direction at Mann’s Wrecker Svc. in Jackson, TN – they had a repair business and ccould fix me up if it was something simple. Even more important, they would let me and Bijou stay there in the RV over the weekend if they couldn’t find the problem.
Ken headed off, deciding to go down to San Benito, TX, where it was warmer. (I didn’t really blame him, but this is not what your caravan partner is supposed to do.) I waited for the wrecker and then followed it back to Jackson in my car. Of course, they couldn’t find the problem, so we settled in for a cold, rainy, bleak rv adventure weekend on the wrecker lot. On Monday morning they tow me back to Memphis and leave me at Chuck Hutton Chevrolet.
At 4:00pm, on 11/26, I was, finally, on my way again, with a brand new ignition system. Twenty minutes out of Memphis, a rock (or a bullet?) hit my windshield and created a star right next to the center divider. Was the universe trying to send me a message about my rv adventures? I decided to ignore that possibility.
I parked that night at a Wal-Mart lot in Forrest City, Arkansas, and hit the road again early the next morning, driving down through AK and into Texas to Caddo Mills and Dallas NE, a Good Sam Campground just east of Dallas. As I crossed the border into Texas, I suddenly felt so exhilarated - it felt as though something inside of me was expanding, opening up.
On 11/28, I journeyed around Dallas and kept heading west, through Midland, TX, where poor George and Laura have their ranch. The air smelled of oil, and Midland was not pretty at all. That part of Texas didn’t look good for rv adventures - maybe not good for anything but oil; there were drilling rigs everywhere.
On the last day of driving, the landscape got much more interesting – mountains and great empty plains – I was in the Chihuahua Desert.
I finally arrived at the LoW-Hi Ranch in Deming, NM, on 11/29 about 3:00; I parked, hooked up, re-stocked with groceries, vacuumed, and had a much needed shower.
The next night a rip-roaring storm came through; it rained all night, very heavy at times, and the wind woke me up at 4:00am. Mehitabel was rocking and rolling with the gusts, but we made it through the night in good shape and didn’t even have any leaks.
11/31/2007: The wind kept up all day on the 30th, almost
knocking me off my feet a few times. I met a nice man, Robert, from MN
and the two of us drove out to RockHound State Park and nearby Spring Canyon
in the Florida Mountains. We didn’t find any valuable rocks, but
we did see some Ibex, a sort of goat imported from Iran, up in the
canyon. The desert is stark here, but quite lovely. There are other mountains
in the distance in every direction
12/01/07: My rv adventures soon got more interesting and I actually had a dinner date – Robert took me to a nice Italian restaurant here in town. The food was great and several times the chef came out to serenade the diners with Sinatra songs. It was lots of fun and we ended the evening with a little dancing between the tables.
On Sunday, the air was crystal clear, the skies were blue and the wind had died down. I was finding this rv life and my rv adventures somewhat hard to believe, but I was loving it!
These things are amazing. Now if they could only make one that does the laundry and scratches your back!
12/14/07: I must be a late-blooming hippie – life in an RV seemed to suit me. I had met some really nice people, danced the night away at the VFW, hiked up a small peak in the Florida range with Robert, and did quite a lot of exploring, also with Robert.
Every morning at 6:45 the pleated blind in my bedroom was suddenly suffused with rose, then gold, as the sun started creeping up behind the Floridas. As the sun went down around 4:45, those mountains turned rosy and there was a band of lavender near the horizon. One end of that range is all jagged – it looked like the back of a triceratops.
New Mexico is the land of UFOs. I saw a bumper sticker that read: “Fasten your seat belt. It’s harder for the aliens to suck you out of your car.”
Have any of you ever gone to FindYourSpot to see where you are really meant to live? I did that and there were quite a few towns in this area that came up as good fits. Truth or Consequences, NM, was #1 – we drove up there one day and wandered around, chatted with people, had a great lunch at a little Mexican place, but I decided I didn’t really like the landscape. It’s quite mountainous and very hilly everywhere, so you don’t get the wonderful long views which I was coming to love in Deming.
#2 is Silver City, NM.. I visited that town, too. It’s about 60 miles north of Deming, right on the edge of the Gila Wilderness area and I was enchanted by the town. There is a large concentration of artists in the area and an extension branch of NMSU. Last year, Las Cruces, NM, had been #1 on my list – for some reason, it was now #13.
#3 is Bisbee, AZ, another arts community. I plan to head there for a visit when I leave Deming the end of this month. #10 is Green Valley, AZ, just south of Tucson and #4 is Alpine, TX, in the Big Bend region. I hope to visit them all, as well as Tucson, and #7, Carlsbad, NM, if I can fit them all into my rv adventure.
The Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico
Every Tuesday folks at the ranch piled into a few cars and headed to Palomas, Mexico, about a half hour south of Deming. Parking at the border, we walked across to The Pink Store, where we had lunch. The Lo-HI RV Ranch apparently has a long history with the The Pink Store; the owners set up a long table right down the middle of the café and treated us all to a free Margarita – delicious! Most of us had another while we waited for our lunch.
During lunch, a three-piece band serenaded the guests. This week, I got asked to dance a polka and what a wild dance it was – it went on & on ‘til I thought I would drop. The store, in the same building, is huge and has all sorts of jewelry, stained glass, glassware, pottery and weavings.
Our very expensive fence was evident at the border. It is supposed to be impossible for anyone to penetrate. I heard that three college students were paid to test it, and they made it over in 15 minutes. There was a big balloon blimp up in the air as well, watching over the fence. When we walked back after lunch, we had to pass through the border patrol, show identification & declare our citizenship. As of January 31, we would need to have a passport.
Most mornings I walked about 2.5 miles with Robert, my Minnesota friend. Although we had had some rainy days and several with pretty stiff winds, most days were sunny and got into the 50s. The nights were near or just below freezing at that point, so there were lovely feathers of frost on the roof & windshield of my car.
Robert and I hiked up a bigger peak in the Floridas one afternoon – it was pretty steep in some parts and I had to scramble on all fours – wonderful views, though, and we got some great photos.
Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking - If you love boondocking, you'll find these books invaluable. There are two new ones that cover California. Definitely check them out!
We went to Silver City for a day, had a great lunch, visited a couple of galleries, then drove about two hours on a narrow, winding, up and down road. At one point we were at 7440’ – the views were breathtaking. The road ended at the Gila Cliff Dwellings, where we walked/climbed the 1.25 mile path up to the caves and down again.
There are lots of quail and hawks around at the ranch and almost every night we heard the coyotes yipping & howling. Somewhere nearby, just before sunrise, a donkey brays and roosters crow.
I decorated a tumbleweed with Christmas lights, and weighed it down with a rock or two, next to my RV.
Guess I didn’t weigh it down well enough, as the next morning was windy and the tumbleweed did what tumbleweeds do & disappeared, leaving the lights strung out behind my rig. We found another easily enough – they’re piled up against every fence.
The day before Christmas was our usual party at The Pink Store where we enjoyed the famous margaritas, danced, and ate too much. On Christmas Day, we had a nice potluck supper at the campground – lots of good food, wine & company.
That evening I was out for a couple of hours, got home at 10:30 and discovered that the spigot for my drinking water had been knocked open (Bijou!) and the running water had filled up the holding tank, then backed up into the shower pan and overflowed all over the floor, soaking a good portion of the carpet in the front part of the rig. I had to go out in the cold, windy night to dump the tank so I could drain the shower (the compartment lid kept blowing down on my head), then do the best I could to sop up most of the water. Falling into bed finally at midnight, I wondered how much damage had been done. The next day I borrowed a wet vac but it took several days for things to dry out, however all seems to be in good shape. Just another one of my rv adventures!
My month at the LoW-HI Ranch ended on 12/29. Robert & I were planning to go up to Silver City for a week, but SW New Mexico was having a cold snap and we decided to flee the cold weather – temps were down to 14 at night and frozen hoses to deal with – and go to Double Adobe Campground in McNeal, AZ, a few miles from Bisbee. The drive was about 4 hours – we followed each other to the new site to continue our rv adventures together. In the afternoon the temperature was 60-something and we sat out in t-shirts enjoying the sunshine and watching quail run around the campground near our rigs.
We went into Bisbee, a delightful little town, and saw the Lavender Pit where copper was mined. We would be exploring the surrounding towns during our rv adventures in the next few days: Tombstone & Douglas in AZ, and Sonora, Mexico where we hope to find another Pink Store – we miss those margaritas!
1/24/08: I now owned 2 pair of cowboy boots, 3 western shirts, a fancy belt buckle, and a Wrangler blue jean jacket. Oh, and a cow skull. Robert likes to buy presents.
Double Adobe proved to be a great location for our rv adventures– it was an easy drive to several nifty places. However, it was very poor in terms of internet and cell connections, so I was frustrated in my efforts to stay in touch with people. If we come back to this part of the world (and I’m sure we will), we’ll need to find someplace with better connections.
Our rv adventures included an interesting tour down into the Queen Mine - the big copper mine here in Bisbee (not presently in operation). We went up to Tombstone again, to see the gunfight at the OK Corral and have lunch at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.
It seems most of the folks who live in Tombstone either run a retail establishment or dress up as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, or assorted cowboys and wander around the town like extras on a movie set. I don’t know what else they do. It’s a funky little town – didn’t even have a grocery store!
Douglas, AZ, has the Gadsden Hotel which is 100 years old with beautiful stained glass murals, fancy woodwork, and a glorious marble staircase. Legend has it that Pancho Villa once rode his horse up the staircase.
Whitewater Draw is near us – a big wildlife refuge that, at that time, had a population of 26,000 sand hill cranes, and smaller groups of snow geese, and great horned owls. We went out there several times, and got some wonderful photographs.
A daytrip took us up to Chiricahua National Monument, about 75 miles away. What a fantastic day that was – glorious views across the mountains & plains, and incredible rock formations. On the way out of the park, we saw several deer close to the road – more great photos!
Robert went out one day into the mesquite
forest that surrounded the ranch, taking his camera and hoping for
close-ups of the Gambel’s quail. He stalked one covey, hunkered down to
look through the brush, saw a bobcat instead, and got a fantastic shot
which amazed everyone around here as no one had ever gotten a photo of a
bobcat before. He became quite famous locally as a result and several
folks requested copies of the photo. He was pretty pleased with that rv adventure.
We parked at the border in Douglas and walked across into Mexico several times – but, alas, we didn’t find another Pink Store in Sonora. We did, however, discover wonderful margaritas, as well as good food, at Phil’s Steak House, just up the road from the RV park.
Robert’s son, Skip, drove down to AZ from
MN, and spent several days with us, before going up to Mesa to some
kind of old car show. My San Francisco son, Jeff, flew into Phoenix one
weekend with wife, Laurie, & 5.5 year old son, Jack, so we took my
rig and went up to Phoenix to spend some time with them. Had a great time
– they were staying at a very fancy resort with heated pools, wave
pools, water slides and hot tubs. Clint Eastwood was supposedly staying
there, but we didn’t have a sighting. On Saturday night we all went out to
dinner at a nearby steak house, Rustler’s Rooste. Skip was able to meet
us there, too.
On Sunday, Jeff, Laurie & Jack came over to the RV park and we cooked out on my little charcoal grill (which didn’t work too well), ate at a picnic table, and then played Jr. Monopoly with Jack until it was time for them to head back to their hotel.
These rv adventures seem to suit me well. There’s an amazing sense of freedom when your home is on wheels!
We left Double Adobe on Jan. 31st and headed back to LoW-Hi Ranch,
where we experienced the second day of an incredible wind storm with
gusts to 45mph. At one point, all the mountains were obscured by blowing
dust – nothing to be seen but a brownish haze in every direction. In
the late afternoon, the Floridas were illuminated by the sun, and it
looked as though the mountain has been completely coated by sand. Fine
dust had seeped through the window frames on the upwind side of
Mehitabel, and the window ledges were coated with it. My rv adventures in
this part of the world sure included a lot of wind and dust.
It was good to be back here and see everyone. We went to the VFW for dancing a couple of times. It was fun to dance again, too – we were getting pretty good together.
I was ready to head home again and start closing down my business, marketing the house and so on. Much as I was enjoying my rv adventures, there was a lot to be done & I was anxious to get the ball rolling.
02/13/08: It was in the 70s the past few days – really enjoyable. We hiked up Spring Canyon one afternoon and had a great time, but Robert twisted something in his knee, so our physical activities were somewhat curtailed for a while.
We drove up to Silver City, visited The Last Day in Paradise Gallery, had lunch at Vicky’s, then drove out Rt. 152 by the Chino Mine (which was amazing), onto 61 which runs along the Mimbres River for a ways. We stopped at City of Rocks State Park, where we explored a bit. There are lots of big, piled up “rocks”, which were formed from volcanic ash & are not really rocks at all. They stick up, all alone, in the middle of a huge, flat plain – very mysterious looking!
02/22/08: On 2/17, we left Deming, NM, and headed for Raleigh, NC - my shakedown cruise was over and I was ready for bigger rv adventures. Bijou and I were in Mehitabel, and Robert followed in his Tioga. We finally arrived “home” and got both RVs parked in my driveway. Soon, my house was on the market. I priced it very aggressively, knowing that if it didn’t sell quickly, it might sit for months. It went under contract in two weeks!
Robert was a great help – fixing things, getting the yard in shape, doing whatever he could to help. It wasn’t easy – both of us were exhausted much of the time.05/02/08:
After two months of cleaning, selling & giving away belongings, I
closed on my house on 4/28 and I was ready to continue my rv adventures
with Robert. We took our rigs up to Falls Lake State Recreation Area for three lovely days
of relaxing, and left on 5/2/08 to begin the journey to MN.
1413 Elberon Place, Raleigh, NC