Way steeper than it looks. This is where my brakes were smokin’
I’m camping for free on BLM land near Sedona. It’s indescribably beautiful. The drive here over highway 89A from Prescott was crazy, crazy fun and steeeeep: Elevation climb of about 2500 ft. (760 m) in about 10 miles (16 km) with switchbacks, blind corners, and I was towing my trailer – whooooohooo! I camped at the top of Mingus Mountain on National Forest Land (free) in the pines and fresh, fresh air, completely alone in that silence. When I woke up there were 8 big deer all around my trailer getting up on their hind legs to eat something out of the pine trees.
When I came down the hill to Jerome the next day, I stopped at a scenic viewpoint and discovered my brakes were smoking and stinky. That was definitely one of the scarier parts of this trip so far. My knees were weak at the thought of losing brakes on that steep downgrade with all the big cliffs. (brakes were fine, just hot – I’m safe and sound)
Jerome is a great place to visit, and thanks to my stop at the scenic viewpoint before I finished descending the mountain, I got the inside scoop on a parking place big enough for my trailer. That allowed me to spend a few hours hanging around taking some photos and looking at nice art.
Now I’m near Sedona in the Red Rock area on BLM land with the views below all around me. It snowed last night and today a little, but I’m staying warm and cozy. Hope the photos are okay!
I wish I could post more often and I could if only I weren’t so concerned about the colors, contrast, etc. on this little baby laptop – I hope these aren’t cartoonish colors or anything too dull. Whatever. Here’s what I’ve been up to in a nutshell:
I’m really taking to dry camping, with just a little 100W solar panel and being careful with my water, data, and electricity usage. It’s working out pretty well so far and best of all it’s either free or nearly so. Plus, I’m meeting the most fun people and seeing some remote sites.
Work is keeping me supplied with everything I need as long as there are no big emergencies, so I think I can keep doing this for a while longer. It’s been great on my own, but I had an amazing side trip to Mexico and a few days of horsing around going on hikes and playing desert mini golf with … a man. That was pretty awesome. Now I’m camping next to a wonderful couple I met in Quartzsite. We went on a 7 hour hike practically straight up yesterday. It’s great having friends on the road.
I’m in Yuma, Arizona at the moment in a great little comfy coffee shop playing old tunes and hoping whoever is reading this doesn’t think my photos are overdone. Can’t wait to play with my big computer with its way better color calibration, but that will have to wait until I pony up for a site with electricity! All in all, feeling great out here.
Feel free to tell me all the bird names and I’ll update the post with corrections.
I’m finally able to post, thanks to Starbucks! I’ve been camping with about a zillion other people in the desert in Quartzsite, Arizona with no electricity, so it’s pretty much impossible to charge my battery more than just enough to do my (paid) work each day. Having a great time here, meeting many other RVers, getting great tips about everything, amazing coffee cooked over an open fire, evening campfire circles, and lots and lots of stars. I love being somewhere in January with warm temperatures and nice people!
These photos are from a couple of weeks ago, in Southeastern Arizona. I’m not a birder, but could easily become one now that I’ve seen these amazing birds. It’s a Sandhill Crane migration, with literally thousands of birds coming to take a rest here in January and February. I found a bit more info on this Audubon page. I don’t know what all the other birds are, but they sure were pretty. Actually, birders who were there told me, but of course I’ve forgotten. UPDATE: I’ve added captions with bird names. Thanks Karin <3
Little Florida Mountains
Have to post quickly but want to tell you that this is around Deming, New Mexico. I’m staying in a beautiful campground with a view of the Florida Mountains out my window and the brightest stars ever in the sky. This is only about 30 miles from Mexico – a big group of us went there for lunch and shopping and they all sang happy birthday to me! It was a fun and tequila-shot kind of day. I also went to a truly magical place called Gila Cliff Dwellings (please google it), and have some pictures for next time. No time to post more now because I’m headed to the next state over. Most of these photos in today’s post are from the City of Rocks, also in New Mexico. I plan on camping there someday. It’s only $14 and has the world’s best camp spots, I think.
It was cold, cold, cold in my little tin can! But look how beautiful. Now I’m in New Mexico where it’s much warmer and also filled with amazing landscape. Will post some photos from there in a minute or two – if I don’t get interrupted. This is a rush job because I need to head out towards Arizona.
These are from my walks in Fredericksburg and Midland. Midland is serious urban sprawl, but there is a beautiful nature preserve that’s very diverse, with desert plants, a marsh, and lots of birds. First time in a long, long while that I’ve spent so much time editing photos! (It was fun)
This little town felt like the Christmas center of Texas as far as merry shoppers, wine tasting, lights, and even ice skating (in 70-degree weather) goes.
I camped at a place called Lady Bird park, where there was a great trail with cactuses and turtles. I’ll post nature shots from that walk and a nice walk where I am now tomorrow (yes, really – will post again tomorrow :-)).
As far as RV stuff goes, I’m learning how to deal with the cold. It’s hovering around freezing at night. I have loads of blankets and bought a sweet little electric heater, so it’s okay. I need to watch out that the water hoses don’t freeze though. Off towards New Mexico and Arizona right after Christmas. I bet it will be beautiful.
I pulled into San Antonio last night – It snowed! I was freezing all night, brrrr.
KOA campgrounds are crazy expensive, but it was nice to stay so near to downtown. And what a beautiful city it is! The Riverwalk and the Alamo were all they’re described to be. It was festive not only because of the very rare snow last night, but because they decked the place out with Christmas lights – there was even a little party for the public at the Alamo with homemade cookies, hot chocolate, and music.
I’m heading west now and that feels strange after heading every other direction but west for the past few months. I’ll be in west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona at least until February or March, and then we’ll see where the road goes.
So far this is still fun, but I do get worried about things like my trailer not being insulated, not being able to carry a generator, etc. It will all work out, though.
I had a great trip to Boston to see family – still owe you lots of photos from various places on the road, but it seems like I’m either working or driving all the time and never get time (how can that be?) to post more photos!
The pictures from Chugwater, with the soda fountain, are from two days ago when a windstorm kept me in a rest area for 24 hours (I wrote about this last post).
From Chugwater, I drove quickly through Colorado, and then on to Goodland, Kansas, where the Van Gogh tribute painting is. From there, I drove to Hays, Kansas and parked at a Walmart for the night. Again, there were high winds and worst of all, my heater stopped working and it was freezing cold. I tried to sleep until 2 am, when I finally got up, packed the trailer, and drove to a Days Inn, which didn’t turn out to be a pleasant experience and I couldn’t sleep. I drove, very tired, to Wichita and stayed in a fantastic Super 8, and the desk clerk, another guest and I all ordered Chinese food delivery. Really fun! I met a couple from Washington this morning and they gave me a something-something fruit (have to look this up) that I’ll photograph later. It’s huge and supposed to keep spiders away – will definitely try it in the trailer!
On the way here, I kept seeing signs for Swedish handcraft and the biggest little Swedish town in Kansas (Lindsborg), so of course, I had to stop. It was such a cute town! The shops were all super friendly and invited me to the big Swedish festival this coming Saturday. They only the festival once every two years, and I would’ve loved to stay, but need to get to Texas, meet my friend Christie, and fix my heater.
I’m looking forward to traveling a bit slower after I get to Texas. So happy I’m getting into warmer weather!
I haven’t been able to post anything because I got caught in the scariest ever (for me) wind storm after I left Wheatland. I only drove a little more than 20 miles when the big, neon road signs warned of heavy wind gusts. After the trailer got a couple of side gusts, I decided it was time to wait it out at a rest area. Turned out the gusts only increased, up to 65 mph and it lasted for 24 hours! It was violently shaky in the trailer so I slept in the Tahoe as best I could.
Finally on the road again, I was really excited to see a former student of mine whose parents I love dearly. Unfortunately, I was a bit sad because I thought the student would be equally excited to see me (haha, such an ego!), but I guess he turned out to be too busy since I only received sporadic replies to my questions about where we could meet. Oh well, no worries – turned out to be a great day, and I made a lot of time. After days of sketchy weather and looming chill, it felt great to finally make progress, and see the subtle beauty of Western Colorado. This was on Colorado Hwy 86 from Castle Rock to Limon – highly recommended!
I stayed at a KOA campground for the first time last night and it’s a great one. This is in Goodland, Kansas. Seems like the only real point of interest is a Van Gogh billboard here in town and the Wizard of Oz house a few hours away in Liberal, Kansas. Really wanted to see the Wizard of Oz house, but since it’s raining again, I think I’ll just hit the road and make time towards Paris, Texas.
Sadly, I still haven’t had time to process other photos from the trip, but here are some from a very sweet family I met (I’ve been given permission to post these) who went on a little road trip with me to Guernsey, Wyoming where we saw all these birds’ nests, ruts from the Oregon Trail wagon trains (don’t understand how they got so deep), and Registry Rock, where the pioneers and many since have carved their names in the cliffside.
I found a free campground with free electricity in a sweet little town near the freeway. The highlight of my day today was meeting two local women at the nearby pool where I thought I could shower, but the pool is unfortunately closed for the winter. I got lots of tips from them about future spots to see and we had a nice visit. The lowlight might have been driving out a gravel road (it started out paved!) to look for bison and other animals to photograph. I drove nearly 10 miles trying to find Laramie on the backroads, only to end up having to turn back and re-do the entire drive. I didn’t make it to Laramie, but I did see this creepy dead snake that I guess must be a rattlesnake – it was way bigger than I though rattlesnakes get. I was afraid to get to close even though it was clearly dead. Imagine if it suddenly came back to life!
The full moon rise was amazing tonight. It’s also warmer, so it’s nice and comfy in the trailer. No need for long johns or hat in bed tonight – yay!
I left Banff to snow and freezing temperatures. I was really afraid I was going to run out of propane and not have heat, so as much as I would’ve liked to stay and explore, it was clearly time to move on. I was so tired of being cold that I stopped in Fort McLeod to stay in a great little motel. I just picked the town at random because I was tired and it was there. It turned out to be a really great little town that I’d love to visit again someday. Several movies were filmed there, understandable with its wild west vibe.
I left Canada and visited my cousin and family for two weeks in Livingston and Wilsall, Montana. It was such a great time and busy, so no time to post. Three days ago, I had a beautiful drive from Wilsall to Thermopolis, Wyoming. This is another amazing place, with the world’s largest natural hot spring and a fantastic campground! It’s once again getting cold, so I’ll head south toward Texas via Colorado tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to warmer temperatures. So far, this is a very, very good trip – I catch myself smiling at the good fortune of being able to work remotely and see all these beautiful places.
So I had a couple of adventures yesterday and today. I had planned my campground on the highway between Jasper and Banff and it was getting late when I pulled in. Turns out it closed for the season 2 days ago! Luckily, another campground let me park in an overflow area.
When I woke up it was pouring rain, but I really wanted to move my trailer to a prettier spot next to the water. I did that, super-proud of my backing-up skills, and then I left the back of the Tahoe open while I leveled and set up. Stupid me – my battery died and I needed a jump start 🙁 It’s still pouring rain and might even snow tonight (fingers crossed that it doesn’t snow because I am not set up for it!), but I found wifi at the tourist office so I can work a little and post a bunch of photos from yesterday.
I’m so glad I got to see the Rockies yesterday! It’s incredibly beautiful here.
I’m so proud of myself for driving over this 4000 ft. pass, up and down! My trailer made it and the truck didn’t overheat – no disasters whatsoever. I pulled over every time cars piled up behind me. At one of the pullovers, I saw this guy who had ridden his bike all over the Rockies and also in Crater Lake, Oregon. Gave me a reminder that I shouldn’t feel like I’m doing anything special – look at this guy!
Now I’m sitting outside with the mountains all around me, hoping these pictures show up okay. The last picture is from where I sit right now. I just did laundry here – great campground. It’s a beautiful morning!