Monday, August 3, 2009

Into the Wild... and back again!

"The core of a man's spirit is in new experiences." --Alexander Supertramp

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

National Parks

National Parks

I can’t not say enough good things about our national park system. The state and national parks in this country are truly fantastic. We have visited 15 national parks, including several of the big ones like Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower and the Grand Canyon, plus several less known places that are gems in their own right.

The effort, time, expertise, and money that go into preserving and protecting these beautiful areas while still making them safe and enjoyable for everyone, is amazing.

A big emphasis at many of the national park museums and visitor centers is on getting kids involved in nature. The book “Last Child in the Woods” is everywhere. All of the parks have regular Ranger Programs designed to educate children (and their parents) about the wild and wonderful things that exist in our world. With their natural curiosity, and the need to constantly move, touch and explore, I can’t think of a better place for kids to be than in our parks.

*The National Park Passport book is a family keepsake. We've had it stamped at every national park we have visited.

* The doll is mine! ;-)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pictures from AZ and TX!

Pictures from the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and a Texas-style roadside attraction!

New pix

Back in the Green!

We’re in Arkansas!

Once we made it east of Oklahoma City, things really started to green up. The hot, dry southwest is beautiful but it’s just, well, hot and dry. I don’t think we saw “woods” at all in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (am I missing any?), oh, and parts of Oklahoma.

Fortunately, we have been able to spend the last few nights in some lovely state parks. With trails to hike, lakes to swim in, campfires and nature programs, it’s going to be hard to get back to the real world. Although as I am writing this, I realize that much of what I love about the parks is what I love about our neighborhood. It’s even hot and humid here! Just like home!

And speaking of green… I have not seen a recycling bin since California. You should see my car.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It was going so well....

It was going so well….

1. The morning after the Grand Canyon day started off really well. We got the camper packed and closed up; Garrett raised the hitch and I backed the truck up to the hitch. I got it lined up on the first try, by the way. But then the hitch made a funny noise. And it looked kind of awkward… was it up too high?? I checked in the office to see if anyone could help me, and the one old guy I found said he didn’t know anything about electric hitches. I called Lloyd. He said according to the manufacturer, the hitch could not be overextended. Well, had they really tested that? Like tested it with a 12 year old and his mother?

Lloyd called me back with a plan to override the electric hitch and do it manually. Of course this required tools I did not have so I did what I could with my pocket knife and finally found a couple of guys with the right tools. I soon had a team of guys helping me with the hitch and we got it working!

2. We found a very nice campground in New Mexico, got set up, had a nice dinner, and went for a swim. It had been a hot day, but the evening was beautiful. Clear, sunny and breezy. On the way back from the pool, I noticed water dripping from the back of the camper. I thought I turned the a/c off? I walked up to the camper, opened the door and the first thing I notice is that the floor was soaking wet. It took about 10 seconds to realize the camper was full of water! The bathroom shower was overflowing and the bathroom sink faucet was on and water was everywhere!

I turned off the sink, but I wasn’t sure what happened or what to do with all the water. So we grabbed towel, sheets, anything we could find to mop up the water. Then I realized that the water tanks must be full.

Note: Many campsites have electricity, water, and sewers at the site. Nicholas and I had a couple of mishaps with the sewer stuff so we usually go for a campsite with just water and electricity and use the campground dumping station for empting the holding tanks when we leave. The campsite we were at did not have sewers at the site. That would have made things much easier.

Once we got a lot of the water up, we needed to empty the holding tanks. That, of course, meant we needed to drive to the dumping station. In order to drive we had to hitch, close up the beds, bring the slide in, and unhook the water and electricity. It was 10:00 and dark. But we did it. We did it and drove to the dumping station, emptied the holding tank, drove back to the campsite and set everything back up. Then I started doing laundry. Five loads.

The kids were amazing helpers with all of this. They were excited to help, and dare I say, almost giddy. “Are you going to put this on the blog? What are you going to call it? How about sewer catastrophe? Are we going to have to get a new camper? ARE YOU GOING TO TELL DAD????”

We never really figured out how the whole thing happened. Seems “nobody” was in the bathroom before we went to the pool. We left all the fans running on full power overnight and I think that really helped. The place was pretty dry in the morning and with the hot, dry days ahead of us, I think the camper will be fine.

3. Because things happen in 3’s… The last thing is actually very minor, just “cosmetic” really. And when you are standing a few feet away from the camper, you can hardly tell.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Trip Home

The Trip Home

I have often joked that I spent so much time planning this trip, that by the time I tried to plan anything beyond CA, I was mentally done. We’ll be home when we get there. Let’s see where the road takes us. We’ll be home when we run out of money. Well I talked to Lloyd a little while ago, and he had just checked my bank account. Seems I’ll be home tomorrow.

Oh wait! Since I’m still in AZ, it might take longer. Let’s see how far that last $300 gets me…