Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The End of the Road

With a firm departure date ahead, we bee-lined for the Dallas area to store Ginger and return Fred. Somewhere along the way we made a lame attempt to list Ginger for sale on Craigslist but quickly decided storage was a better idea. Well, maybe not a better idea but certainly one that works well for two people who like to kick big decisions down the road as far as possible. We'll just deal with it next year! On our way we made the most of the Allstays app and found some good state parks to break up the trip. Compared to Tangent it was relatively easy to get a trailer ready for storage. The constant downpours didn't help but we got it all done and managed to sneak in some surreptitious Christmas shopping before hopping a flight back to PR.

We had a lot of fun playing in the dunes at Monahans Sandhills State Park. 

The weather was perfect and the sand was really soft.

It was really windy which kept us cool in the strong sun.

The kids wandered off by themselves for a while but we followed their tracks. It was easy to get lost among the dunes. 

We rented sleds for a couple dollars from the office. Sliding down was easy but just like all sledding, going back uphill sucks. 

Really sucks.

It was slower than it looks and we were wishing for some non-nutritive cereal varnish to spray on the bottoms. 

Just like at every beach, a fort was built. This time a mini one for plastic horses. 

A quick lunch stop at the Odessa Meteor Crater. The world's most boring slight dent in the ground. Oil rig in the background. The rigs were everywhere through NM and TX.

At Lake Mineral Wells Andy and the kids went for a walk in the woods. They heard some rustling and saw this funny armadillo guy rooting around in the leaves. They look like little dinosaurs.

Okey dokey!
Ginger gets a much needed bath.

We stayed at a pretty awful RV park in Cleburne where we packed, cleaned and winterized through endless downpours which kept the kids trapped inside while we tried to work around them. Ginger is too small for everyone to bustle around so the kids were relegated to bunks and beds and helping with the laundry. This cute kitty wanted to get out of the rain and made herself right at home. She kept the kids company and added to the general chaos. Not to mention a round of tears when we had to say goodbye. "But what's going to happen to shmiiiiittttteeennnnnssss???"

Andy doing some outside work during a brief break in the rain. 

Ginger's winter retreat!

At our hotel I had to unpack and re-pack everything to make it all fit in our bags. Drew's tiny pile is on the little side table. Cubby's mountain of crap and stuffed animals is at the end of the couch. I can still feel my despair when I look at this picture. 

Up and out the door at 4AM waiting for the airport shuttle. Horrible. But so excited to be packed up and on our way back to Tangent. This traveling thing is exhausting! 

A quick breakfast and nap before taking off. Puerto Rico, here we come! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Aliens & Underground Lairs

We had to get back to Texas somehow so chose the Roswell to Carlsbad Caverns route and broke up the trip with pitstops along the way. There are long stretches of nothingness and oil rigs so you have to find ways to break up the monotony.

One of the long stretches. The roads were so straight with nothing along the way that we had trouble even finding a place to pull over for lunch and bathroom breaks.

Practicing alien greetings.

The museum had a very long and hard to follow movie in the style of "Unsolved Mysteries" complete with overly coiffed host. It was full of interviews with hard to believe people. The only time everyone perked up was at the conclusion where we were invited to enjoy the "free" museum. Free? What? When? And then there were the exhibits. UFOs, aliens and dry ice.


Dead alien.

I don't know if I was in outer space myself that day but I could just not follow any of the "logic" of the theories and firsthand accounts. Skeptical to say the least. The kids still have very active imaginations, though, so they were a little freaked out before we visited. These exhibits had the opposite of their desired effect and actually put them back on the track to reality!

I'm sorry, did you say 'va...'? Nevermind. 

Hey! These look familiar! Maybe the people of Sego Canyon were documenting alien encounters in their pictographs!

We stayed at a KOA a little way outside of Carlsbad Caverns. The campsites closer by the NP were reviewed terribly because of all the roughnecks living in them and partying a lot. But we were close to Living Desert Zoo State Park and visited with all the animals. This is a Javelina and actually cuter than she looks munching on her veggies like a little piggy.

I read a book called "How's Inky?" to the kids while we were traveling and they discovered a new love for porcupines. This guy obliged and waddled around for us.

It seems like it's very hard to spot owls in the wild so we enjoy seeing them when we can. The Zoo was also a great way to learn about the flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert. It's quite pretty up close with the variety of plants.

Usually we don't get so lucky to see such active animals in captivity. These beauties looked like they were ready to pounce on us and they came right up to the fence making eye contact. One was trying to get the other to play. 

And then there were these two little punks! The kids ran up and down the path while the bobcat kittens raced up and down enjoying the game of chase and climbing up the fence. We took a huge blade of grass and ran it along the fence and they were playing like crazy. It was just like playing with a domestic kitten! They loved it and so did we. And the mountain lions had a window into the bobcat enclosure and liked watching the show. 

There were lots of little bunnies in the park. 

All layered up and ready to go.

Another strong warning. What goes on in these places? 


The winding walk down. It goes on and on. But, thankfully, no one got weak knees.

It was dark throughout with certain highlights lit up. But it was very hard to get good pictures. This is Whale's Mouth.

Lots of cool formations.

Plenty of mites and tites. This is Witch's Finger.

We did the audio tour which was really good. 

Since no food was allowed underground we took the elevator up, quickly scarfed and got the last elevator down so we could visit the Big Room. We spotted roadrunners during our break.

Chinese Theater. Check it out! 

At the end of the day we stuck around to see all the bats come out. A park ranger gave a little talk, told everyone the strict rules about silence and photography, and then offered to do Q&A until the bats started coming out. They took much longer than usual and the crowd was unbelievably hard on him! Somehow he managed to keep his cool. At last the bats came out and we were all very relieved! We watched them swoop around for a while then headed home knowing that was the unofficial end to our sightseeing. Just miles to cover and taking care of business from here until Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New Mexico: Sante Fe & The Atomic City

New Mexico has really nice weather and we enjoyed many sunny days with perfect temps and clear air. There's plenty to see and do but with lots of miles of desert in between.

From Durango we made our way toward Santa Fe with a quick stop in between. The quaking aspens were beautifully yellow.

From our campsite in the Santa Fe National Forest we drove up the mountain to the local ski spot. They had one of the lifts running but we were too late to get in the very long line. So we walked up instead and it was very pretty. It reminded us of the fun weekends we had skiing at Butternut. The kids really miss snow!

Someone had fun with the menu. Hot what?? 

Longing for snow.

We had lots of talks about the future during this road trip. I wonder what he's contemplating. Maybe he's lamenting the Walmart haircut.

There were lots of pretty streams to play in and the weather was perfect. 

A brook babbling along nicely. We enjoyed hot chocolate at the lodge at the end of the day.

There were cow patties all over the slopes and we found the culprits on our way back to the car.

A praying mantis at our campsite. We also heard coyotes in the middle of the night. It sounded like screaming and partying!

We visited downtown Santa Fe and faced the usual "city" frustrations: Not knowing where to eat and tempting store fronts full of unnecessary tchotchkes everywhere. 

We got a recommendation and had lunch at Pasqual's. It was totally worth the wait and reset us for the day. 

We took a quick peak at the church.

And had a great visit to the Governor's Palace. That kept us busy all afternoon with extensive exhibits on the history and culture of the area. 

The next day we went to Los Alamos to learn about the development of the atomic bomb. The Los Alamos National Laboratory is still very much in operation but under lock and key so a visit to the Bradbury Science Museum is the way to go. The movie was great and so were the exhibits. We went in to one room that seemed like it was meant for kids but couldn't solve any of the puzzles so walked out of that section very annoyed with ourselves.

Come to think of it, a lot of it was over my head.

But a picnic lunch is one thing we all excel at! This park was a nice place to eat and relax and ride the statues.

The two men in charge of the Manhattan Project: Oppenheimer and Groves. In the background is one of the remaining buildings from the boys school that had to accelerate their last graduating class before handing over their property to the project. It was a little bit of a sad sidestory and we enjoyed the visit to their museum. This year, President Obama signed off on designating the area a national park so maybe one day we'll return to see the changes and take a tour.

It was kind of late in the day but we decided to rush to Bandelier because it was so close. 

Good call! We got there after the shuttles stopped running but before they closed down so we parked right at the Visitors Center and had the place almost totally to ourselves. And it was nice and cool at the end of the day.  This is a big kiva.

Lots of people lived here.

The holes in the rock are called cavates and were used as rooms. 

Eek! Tarantula!

It's just a baby one. 

Kids in a cavate. They loved the coziness. We could smell the lotion of the people who were inside just a few minutes before us. So we were very glad we didn't visit during the busy time of day with people following us into the rooms. 

This is, quite possibly, the dorkiest picture ever and that's why we included it. The guy taking the photo was so into it so we have 10 versions of it. Buddz.

More rooms to explore.

Look how cozy!

There's a little snake in there.

Off we go to Alcove House.

Deer tracks. OMG we have to get Drew's blog going.

The view from Alcove House down to us. I'm waaaaaaaay back there. No more ladders on the edge of cliffs for me. 

Andy got a view as the light was fading. We had a nice dusk walk back through the woods and heard an owl hooting. It was so loud and clear with the cliffs in the background. 

The architecture of the NP buildings is always great even if the photography isn't.

A quick snap of the sign on our way out.