Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 6! Zapata Falls and onto Pueblo, CO.

Once we got all packed up and left Great Sand Dunes we headed to a nearby trail that leads up to a waterfall, Zapata Falls. But first you've got to drive up a 3.5 mile gravel road that about rattled our teeth loose.  Anyway, we made it to the trail which is only half a mile long but we've had to really take things slow in this altitude (about 8000 feet).  We're used to that thick Texas air down around 500 feet.  We get up to the creek and to reach the falls you have to hike in the creek itself which is freezing cold!  It was totally worth it to see the water blast out of rock about 25 feet overhead.

Had to hike thru this ice cold creek

Into this crevice...

...that the stream has been carving for millions of years!

Angie admires the water's awesome power!

That water had some force!

Angie and Kipper from a little ledge above.

Once we were down from the falls and the bumpy gravel road (sorry LeTigre), we made our way over to I25 to head up to Lee and Patti's place in Pueblo West.  There we were greeted with a smorgasborg of food, Kipper had a bath (boy did he need it), I finally shaved for the first time since we left home, and we've already done laundry and just generally invaded their space.
Thanks Lee and Patti!

Day Five! Ow, That Sand is Really Freakin' Hot!

We missed getting into Great Sand Dunes National Park the day before so we pack up and leave Lake San Luis early and book it over to the Dunes. The "Campsite is Full" sign is down so that's a good sign. We pay the entrance fee to the park and the Ranger says there should still be some spots. Excellent. Get to the Ranger that runs the campground and she says to drive thru and pick any spot that says "open" and come back to claim it. Lots of people are already doing this so we make haste to find a spot and happen upon a nice one with a great view where a family is packing up to leave. I leave Angie with LeTigre to hold the spot and ride my bike back to the Ranger's hut to reserve it. While doing all this I catch a glimpse of another Tiger...not an old one like ours but a brand new one! By the time I get back the owner, Kathy, has seen LeTigre and is chatting with Angie. We talk a little and she offers us a tour or her Tiger which we decide to do later that night so that we can get out to the Dunes before it gets much hotter.

Sweet camp spot!
We set up camp and get to try the fridge on propane for the first time since these are primitive sites (no power or water). We've had electric everywhere else and then switch to 12Volt while driving to our next destination. Once camped we grab whatever we need and head to the Dunes.
The Great Sand Dunes have been formed over thousands of years by wind that piles up sand grains in an alcove at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Looks like a little Sahara Desert surrounded by mountains.
It's quite beautiful... and the sand gets up to 140 degrees in a hurry!
Kipper and I find this out the hard way because we're walking around barefoot in the sand. We climb around on the dunes until it's unbearable and head down to where a creek runs out onto the sand and makes sort of a beach like atmosphere. The sand is wet so it doesn't scald your feet. After that we had to run across the scorching sand back to the trail to get to the campsite.
Poor Kipper, no permanent damage.

 At this point the sand is just beginning to hurt...

So we retreat to the cool, wet sand.

We spend mid day lounging about. Angie got to try out her hammock, that was a hit. That afternoon the wind picked up so we retreated into LeTigre until the sunset.

Lazy bums...

Another great sunset

Had pasta for dinner, mmm.

That evening we drop in on Kathy to check out her new Tiger RV. Wow, it's amazing. They quit building them on Astro vans when the Astro was discontinued and now only build them on one ton 4x4 pickups. They can go almost anywhere. Kathy was a wealth of information. Everytime we mentioned a destination on our route she had been there and offered great advice. She is well-traveled to say the least. Kathy came by as we were packing up the next morning and got a look at LeTigre too. We laughed about the similarities because the interior layout hasn't changed much, it's just been refined, very refined.
Hopefully our paths will cross again down the road!

I joked with Kathy that Tiger owners were like a cult and she agreed. In fact, she had just come from a Tiger owners rally the previous weekend in CO. We barely missed it!

Hard to believe LeTigre has evolved into this! This is a very capable rig.
Me want!

Day Four! Keeping it Casual.

After a pleasant camp at Coyote Creek we decide to move onto Colorado.  On a previous trip several years ago to visit Angie's Mom and Grandmother in Pueblo, my brother-in-law, Vince, and I drove out to Great Sand Dunes National Park for the day.  It's a pretty unique place so I thought Angie should see it so we head that direction.

The drive takes us thru Angel Fire and Taos (which we might come back to for skiing), and then bam! right over the Rio Grande Gorge! We stop to take a look and walk out to the center of the bridge where there's an overlook spot.  Well, turns out Kipper is afraid of heights.  He went reluctantly but practically broke my arm when we turned to leave and go back to the van.
Who knew?

That's a big ditch!

A few miles from the Rio Grande we happen upon the headquarters for Earthship which is an organization that builds homes out of recycled materials such as tires, aluminum cans, and bottles.  I had heard of these and seen their website so I couldn't pass on an opportunity to see them close up.  The homes are self sufficient and get their power from wind and solar and also recycle their wastewater.  It was a hot day and the interior was remarkably cool without any AC due to the thick walls made of tires that have been filled with soil and covered over with concrete.  There's an entire community of these homes located here.

Atrium faces South to warm the home in the winter and the grey water is recycled into the plants.
Pretty cool.

Late afternoon we arrive at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado just to find out that the campground is full.  Turns out it's Friday (which we didn't even's easy to lose track of the days!) and a bunch of other people are camping for the weekend too.  Oops.  No problem, the guide book suggests a nearby state park, San Luis Lake State Park, about 15 miles away.  Seems this is the go-to place if you can't get into the Dunes so we speed over there and get a spot before they fill up for the night.  Actually turns out to be a happy accident because we get a nice campsite overlooking a little lake and beyond that is the Dunes in the distance. It's quite windy until sunset but the campground has built windbreaks over the picnic table and I position LeTigre to provide additional protection.  We get camped and cook a great dinner just before the sun sets at our back making for some fantastic
views of the Dunes.  Good day.

Home for the night, not bad.

Ang' and Kipper get the lay of the land.

Another good day coming to a close.

Best meal yet.  More to come.

Day Three! Wow, it's not Deadly Hot Here!

So we left Palo Duro Canyon with the intention of reaching some mountains to escape the oppressive heat.  Palo Duro Canyon is a magnificent place, we'll go back and do it right at a cooler time.  But for now we have to get the heck out of the heat!  The nearest mountains are Northeast New Mexico so we point towards those with a park called Morphy Lake as our destination.

After a quick diversion to Cadillac Ranch, outside Amarillo, we make tracks for New Mexico.

Lots of driving on I40 (yuck) and then a backroad (which was really nice) to get to Las Vegas, NM.  We stop in a store and luckily Angie asked the cashier if he'd heard of Morphy Lake and we find out it's dried up and the campground is closed!  He suggests Storrie Lake which is just outside of town.  A drive through the campground shows us it's basically just a dusty parking lot looking at another lake suffering from drought.  Ok, bust out the map.  The next closest place is Coyote Creek State Park so we head towards it.  Very scenic drive on little backroads and mountains all around.  As we're driving you can feel the temperature decreasing!  Still warm but no longer oppressively hot.

We arrive at Coyote Creek late in the day but get a good spot with electricity.  The place is great!  There's a little creek that's ice cold and we do a short hike on a trail that overlooks the campground.  That night it gets nice and chilly and we have to use a sleeping bag!

Where's LeTigre?

There she is!

If Kipper could talk he's probably be saying "seriously, another photo?"

Finally, cool water.  A lot of the campers were fishing with great success in this stream.

Day Two, Highway to Hell...

Destination on day two was Palo Duro Canyon! A beautiful place we had heard all about and it was on our route so how could we not stop in for a night? This turned out to be very misguided. Texas is hot. So very very hot, and when you bury yourself in a canyon, with little to no breeze, but plenty of sunshine, in late June, in a camper van with no AC, you've
basically duplicated Hades. We tried to make the best of it and put up our little awning to shade LeTigre, but the energy it took to erect the thing under the blazing sun nearly did us in. We stayed motionless, in the shade of nearby trees,
surrounded by the beautiful, deadly canyon...

I didn't think there was a rig on earth to rival LeTigre but this thing was pretty cool.
This is an expedition vehicle from Germany traveling the globe, nice. 

It really is beautiful if you can get past the heat.

Luckily, things cooled off overnight and we actually managed to get a little sleep until... there was a thump in the night (about 3am) from the direction of our picnic table. Angie peers outside and can make out the shape of the biggest racoon on earth rummaging thru Kipper's dog food! Note to self: Don't leave Kipper's food out overnight. I go outside with
a flashlight and wave it at the racoon who reluctantly wanders into the trees. We clean up the whole mess and go back in and Racoonus Gigantus comes right back to clean up anything we missed and then saunters off to the next campsite.
It all looked very routine. We were definitely guests in his house


No cooking tonight, just basic food.
Needless to say we got up early and hit the road. We had done most of the teardown the previous evening and just had to load up and go. We had discussed a route the night before and basically the goals were:
1. Exit Texas, and 2. Elevation. Elevation. Elevation.

We love Texas, it's our home, but we couldn't get into New Mexico fast enough.
Next destination: cooler climes...

Day One! Off to a Rocky Start...

So the day finally arrives!  We're in high spirits...although a little stressed with last minute details and packing the van.  We had started packing the night before and had even done a "dry run" about a week before.  Well, between our dress rehearsal and doing the final pack, Le Tigre had either gained weight or we weren't as thorough as we thought.  Once we had everything in, except ourselves, I stood back and took a look and could tell we were overloaded.  So, after a tearful goodbye with Amy, we scraped our way out of the driveway.

I honestly didn't know what to do. We had put a lot of thought into what we were taking but the van was obviously struggling. After a quick discussion with Angie we decided we were going to have to do a purge on the van much like we had been doing in our recent moves. So we headed across town to our storage place at Thad's. If something wasn't absolutely necessary it was getting left behind. All the recent moves were the real "dry run" because in less than an hour we completely unpacked, reevaluated everything, and repacked the van.
No "just in case" or "we might need this" items were allowed, no matter how small.
We even managed to eliminate the need for the cargo box on the back which was
basically just an enabler to take too much stuff.

 Once her load was lightened,
Le Tigre was back to her old self and ready to roll so we hit the road!

Our first destination was Lake Colorado City State Park. We chose this location because it was a good day of driving (about 5 hours) but not too long and we wanted a location where we could look forward to a swim after a hot day of driving. Well, the lake was in pretty sad shape from the drought. So sad, even Kipper didn't want to swim in it. Bummer. We camped, showered, had dinner, and that was the end of day one. Not a thrilling first day but we were on our way!

First meal, a salad with hard-boiled eggs, not bad.
Thanks Mike and Ayse for wine. Y'all are life savers!

Where is everybody?
Oh yeah, it's Tuesday and the lake dried up.


Quick Update!

Sorry for the long silence.  We've had limited internet access and haven't been able to update the blog.  Angie has been tweeting almost daily via phone so if you prefer to know what we're doing in a more timely fashion please follow us on Twitter also.
We're currently in Colorado visiting family and friends.

To catch up we're doing a bunch of entries all at once so please scroll down to "Day One" so you can read them in order.  We've been on the road for almost a week and everything is going smoothly overall.  However, it didn't start that way...
See "Day One! Off to a Rocky Start..."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Candi and the Strangers

Saturday night was our last Candi show before we leave.  And it was GREAT!
A really great line-up, starting with the Dead Black Hearts

followed by Elevated Lines

and then us.

I really really liked the first two bands.  And I really liked the venue, Skinny's Ballroom.

It was a fun night!  And the 3D glasses were a special touch.

Tracy!!  Old friends reunited over silly paper glasses.

Vince, me, and Samantha.  They look great, but I've got Terminator eye.  

I'm going to miss Candi and the Strangers.  Greg's been in bands since he was 15, but this is my first one and it's been fun.  It's a cool process....working with other people to learn music.  Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard.   I never really considered myself a musician, but being in a band with my husband and friends I've know for 20 years brings a lot of trust into the situation and makes everything easier.  

Hopefully, this isn't the end........just a little break.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

ontheroadwiththeroses - The business card!

New business cards for the trip!

Almost put Kipper on it but it's easier to photo LeTigre.

Just the facts...

Hooray! Greg is unemployed!

My tshirt screen printing shop has been sold.  Yep, I'm jobless, but it's all part of the master plan.  It's worth more now than it would be after being gone for a year so it was the right thing to do.  Two friends bought it and are going to operate the business together.  I think they'll do well!

I forgot to get my camera out to document the move until the last moment as they drove away with the equipment.  You can just barely see the press and a bunch of screens in the back of the truck.  They showed up with trucks, a trailer, and an army of guys to help so it went very smoothly.

Haven't seen the shop this empty in 3 years!
Wonder what we'll do with it when we get back?  I forgot to get a before photo but if you're curious what it looked like there's a video on the shop's website
Don't email me there, it's no longer mine!