A Race Across Central US

When you’re new to full-time RV livin’ you have many things to learn. Like when to be and where. What parts of the country are best what times of the year and where to avoid driving (or definitely go) during certain times of the year. For example, it’s probably best to try NOT to go over the Rocky Mountains in January or February. You can try hauling your ginormous camper through snowy, slushy roads, but wouldn’t it just be easier to plan to wait until late spring or summer?? If you have the ability, why not?

Mike and I had decided a long time ago to spend the summer back on the east coast. We were already late. Memorial Day weekend we were supposed to fly Mike’s son, Z, to Charlotte to take him to look at southern colleges. But we hadn’t made it that far so we flew him to Denver instead. Luckily he’s only a sophomore so we still have time. One of the reasons we were still out west was the rain and tornadoes across the central plains. No one wants to drive camper through that if they can help it.

After hanging out in Santa Fe a bit the weather across I-40 seemed to be opening up and we decided to follow the clear skies. But that also meant driving days and days to get to my relatives in West-By-God Virginia! We have now been driving three days since Santa Fe. Currently we are outside of Knoxville, Tennessee at Melton Hills Dam, a TVA campsite. Last night we were in Memphis at the Agricenter¬†and I got to meet up with some good family friends, camping buddies of my dad and me, and the dad and sister of one of my BFF’s if high school. (if you didn’t follow that, it’s ok. It’s kinda complicated…) How fun to drink a beer with your friend’s dad… Here I am, almost 40, but I was never old enough to share a beer with Dave growing up. I hope to meet up with his son (my HS BFF) and his wife and kids later this summer. It really is extraordinary catching up with friend’s, living this lifestyle. I doubt I would have ever had the opportunity otherwise. (although how I got away without taking a picture of all us is beyond me! Next time!!) But I will recommend the Flying Saucer in Memphis! A bazillion beers, great food… I can’t say enough!

We have to make a stop at Camping World tomorrow to get a tire and brakes checked. I don’t have high hopes. Speaking with my MBA cap on, I think Camping World has the market so cornered that they’ve ruined it. I’ve come to expect less-than-stellar service, especially being a full-timer. Then again, the local mom-and-pop shops are a bit scary to those of us that travel ALL THE TIME and don’t know them. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s excellent service, sometimes it’s questionable… so to be safe we go with a national company so at least we feel we have some sort of recourse when it all goes down the drain. I challenge someone with the know-how and wherewithal to start a national competitor to CW, maybe just for service. It would make me feel better crusin’ around the US!

Next stop (after Camping World) WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!

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Lewis Weber, Lewis Webster, are you UP,Shur?? (inside joke for anyone who had Coach Sauro Sr. for WV Civics in 8th grade…)

A Slight Detour

Sitting in rain reminded us why we live in a camper in the first place. We can go ANYWHERE we want WHENEVER we want. Specifically to avoid unpleasant weather. Once we had decided to leave Denver early and head east we thought it prudent to check the forecasts around our intended path across the US. If you recall a week or so ago, most of the entire US was covered in rain.

We didn’t have many choices. So we went chasing sun and warm temperatures. Because we can. ūüėČ

That led us to the southeastern corner of Colorado. And a reservoir out in the middle of cow towns. (See what happens when you don’t immediate blog? I can’t find one reference to where we were!! Sorry!) Not the first time, we essentially had the campground to ourselves since the Memorial Day crowd had already rolled out.

We kept watching the weather. Texas was getting clobbered. Our good friends, Tim and Rebecca (The Nouveaux Honkies) had been in Austin recording their latest album. They were trying to make their way west while we were trying to make it east. As it worked out we met up in Santa Fe for a few days!!

Although one big party, it was not meant to be. Tim had a terrible stomach bug – potentially from drinking contaminated water before leaving Texas. And Rebecca wasn’t feeling 100% either. But we girls made the best of it! We parked side-by-side at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, a quaint park on the south side of town. It’s a great campground, especially if you have dogs! They have a fenced-in dog park area as well as a 3/4 mile trail that loops around the property. Although meant for the dogs, many people walk and jog it too. Out here, everyone gets along!

While Tim slept off his terrible sickness and Michael was in serious programmer “coding mode” (aka: needs complete silence to concentrate. I do not comprehend “complete silence”…) Rebecca and I headed out to explore Santa Fe. Two afternoons we spent going through clothing boutiques (Rebecca is a clothes shopper. She has to have cool threads to wear on stage!!) kitchy souvenir shops (just because you have to if you’re a tourist, jewelry stores (southwestern¬†opals are¬†amazing! I had no idea all the colors!! The turquoise is phenomenal too!! The craftsmanship….), olive oil and balsamic vinegar shops (because I can seriously shop for food items!), and second-hand stores (because NO ONE can resist inexpensive, used clothes. Even me! ).

The clothing stores we both found to be a bit outrageous in price. But that’s because I’m cheap. I don’t know Rebecca’s excuse. ūüėČ The clothing stores downtown (in the historic area) cater to affluent, money-dropping tourists.¬†Neither of us¬†fit that bill. (and even if I did I subscribe more to Warren Buffet’s way of living. I might have money and splurge on a few things, food!, but seriously, I ain’t got time to be showin’ off and all…) Also, many of the stores we first went into we geared towards women of a certain age and style – which didn’t fit either of us. Eventually we found the cute, edgy stores that really fit Rebecca. I loved looking at clothes and was even actually tempted to purchase a cute dress! But alas, no need to bother when I live in an RV. :-/ I have a few sundresses that suffice. A sacrifice to my way of living… haha!

But I do have to call out one particular store that had BOTH of us wandering around for hours! We first walked into the store because the sign outside said “Vintage Clothes” or something of that nature. It was a second hand store trying to be fancy, I suppose. Rebecca started looking at clothes, then price tags. Tank top, $90. AT A SECOND HAND STORE?!?!? I guess that’s what you pay for “vintage”? It took me all of 2 seconds to ascertain this was not my scene. As cute as the clothes were I did not need to drop that kind of money nor did I have anywhere to wear such “expensive” clothes.

Side note – funny how your perspective changes. I wouldn’t have blinked to drop $90 for a nice tank to go under a suit for work. But y’all, I live and work out of an RV. I don’t need threads like that anymore.

While Rebecca was still sorting through the vintage clothes I walked around the corner to kill time. I saw there was a pottery shop in the same building. But around the corner was not pottery but a WALL of COWBOY BOOTS!!! New and used!!! Mens and Womens!

By now you’re probably wondering, “what is this store?” It’s called Double Take and you must go! Walls and walls of cowboy boots! and further around the corner…. a true THRIFT STORE! ¬†A HUGE ONE! Clothes for all, shoes, jewelry, bags, games, you name it! (at reasonable prices you and I are accustomed to.) Holy Moly!

Rebecca is a clothes shopper and I’m not, really. So she was really lagging behind me. I had already gone through the whole store and she was still in the boots. I saw an upstairs sign that said “Furniture”. Turns out, neither Rebecca nor I need furniture – we both live in RVs. But I happen to LOVE looking at furniture. (figures…) So I head upstairs to kill time.

Furniture, knick-knacks, linens, the pottery! What did I find in the this deceptively huge store? I bought a set of queen sheets for the extra bed – for $25. I told the guy I would have bought them even if they were Hello Kitty or had outrageously tacky 1970’s flowers all over them. But as it turns out they were just common ‘ol khaki-colored. Matched our interior perfectly! Not bad for $25!

I don’t have any great pictures to post. I have a few on my Canon but until I can figure out how to upload, back-up-not-necessarily-sync my files they are being held hostage on the memory card. And Mike, Rebecca, Tim and I didn’t take a picture together because who wants their picture taken when they’re suffering from bad water??

I’ll leave you with this – the Nouveaux Honkies recently replenished their merchandise and I was able to finally get my hands on some t’s. They have different artwork, but this design is one of their new ones, and one of my favs. It’s got an RV on it!!!

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I hate rain

I used to live in Colorado. I loved it! The mountains, the sunshine, the people.

Did I mention the sunshine?

How about the beautiful snow-capped mountains??

I have been going on and on to Mike about how awesome Colorado and Denver are. I couldn’t wait to get from California, back across the Rockies, to introduce him to this amazing part of the country. We timed it just right, too. The snow appeared to be finished for the season as we worked our way through the high-walled gorges and then through the ski resort towns. Arapahoe Basin seemed to still have some snow on her surface – I could make out the moguls on the slopes – but the ground was clear. The Eisenhower Tunnel was clear and open. These are the things you consider when crossing the Rockies, especially when towing a 16,000 camper!

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Colorado does a great job of keeping motorists informed of road conditions! If you’re heading through the area I highly recommend this site to see if the roads are clear. You can choose your interstate and it gives you the conditions by mileage section. Very helpful on long hauls!

I had us booked to stay with friends for a few days then on to Chief Hosa Campground in Golden. I could hardly contain myself! Finally getting back to Colorado, seeing friends, knowing I was spending Memorial Day weekend in Golden AND we had tickets to a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater! This couldn’t get any better!

As we rounded the edge of the pass the sky started looking cloudy. Then rainy.

We drove into Denver in rain. ¬†Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine, more than San Diego and Miami Beach! And we arrive in rain. But not worry – just hang around a day or so¬†and it’ll clear up, right??

WRONG!

Our plans had us in the front range and Golden for seven days. IT RAINED the first FOUR DAYS! Turns out, it’s been one the wettest Mays Colorado has seen in quite a while. Rivers were flooded, farmer’s fields were swampy messes, some people living on old farm houses on rivers evacuated. It was not a normal time to be in Colorado.

To make matters worse, we flew Mike’s son, Z, out to Denver for Memorial Day weekend. He flew three quarters across the country to sit in a camper and watch movies. At least for the first two days of his three days with us. Whoopee :-/

Finally, on Z’s last, full day, it started to clear up. We did a little hiking, headed into the town of Golden and prepared for the concert at Red Rocks that night. The forecast was predicting heavy rain but we figured we’d go, stay as long as we could and leave when the rain got too bad.

Hiking above Golden:

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Side note – If you’re in the Denver area check out Red Rocks and see who’s playing. If it’s someone/a band your even marginally interested in GO! This is, by far, hands down, the best music venue! It’s a natural, rock amphitheater. The acoustics are unbelievable, the scenery of the sandstone monoliths framing the panoramic view of Denver is breathtaking. Just go.

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We ended up staying for most of the concert! The rain never came! (at least while we were there!) We had to head out since we had to get up at *ahem* 4am the next morning in order to get Z up, ready and to the airport for an early morning flight home.

Even though the rain had let up we were getting tired of the “wet” and we needed to start heading east for the summer. We decided to skip town a day earlier than planned. Mike promised me we’ll be back to Denver!! (preferably with drier conditions!)

Long Lost Friends

One of the greatest things about RVing? Catching up with old friends!

I lived in Ohio until I was 14. Aarthi and Meera moved in across the street when I was 5, Aarthi was 4 and Meera was 1. I was an only child until I was almost 11 so growing up they seemed liked little sisters to me. I moved when I was 14 and we kept in touch sporadically. Facebook made it easier to know what they were up to but we had lost touch with what was really going on in each other’s lives.

I did know that Aarthi did her residency at Stanford and Meera went to Berkley. Aarthi, Meera, their mom and I actually went to Egypt for vacation when I had just graduated from graduate school and Aarthi was in medical school. But not long after that trip we sort of scattered. I hear med school is pretty demanding… ūüėČ

Eventually their parents moved to the Bay area too. Their whole family had relocated out west. So when I knew I’d be in Napa I reached out. They each have 2 1/2 year olds and Meera was pregnant with her second child.

So on Mother’s Day Michael and I drove to San Francisco and ran a 5K at one of the parks below the bridge.

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After a little superhero change-a-roo (and a deodorant shower) in the truck – what? You don’t just meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a decade after a run and a swipe of deodorant?? – we had a little reunion of sorts!

This is trying to recreate a picture from when we were little.

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Did I mention Meera was pregnant? Did I mention she was due the previous Tuesday?? She finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following Saturday.

I was even able to see their mom and dad! I have such fond memories of her mom’s Indian cooking growing up. Even though she was my pediatrician…. Food makes better memories than doctor visits. It’s a bummer I left without getting a picture of all of us!

It’s great to see old friends! And I’m very excited to stop by and my way through the Bay area the next time because their mom said she’d cook for me!!!!