A Travellerspoint blog

February 2021

Winter

Why does it exist?


View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

For those that know me, know that I think winter is terrible. I detest it every year and actively try to avoid interacting with it. I know that there are those out there who frolic and revel in the winter season. I think if you don't have to go outside ever, that is perfectly acceptable. Anything below 60F (new low for me..most of my life it was 70F) is wrong. After living in an area that has winter every year for the last 6 years, I decided to start trying to figure out why I hate it. And the crazy truth-- I run hot. Now some of you may be scratching your heads saying "Well, wouldn't you like winter since you are hot natured?" You know...that does make potential sense. However, even the hottest person needs to to wear protective clothing when they are outside. And that is the crux of my problem. I wear all the proper things to keep my body from freezing and instantly start to sweat. So by the time I arrive anywhere, I'm all hot and sweaty and can't rip off the layers fast enough once inside. So its torture. Winter is terrible.

With all of that in mind, I've been fairly successful in not having to have a lot of winter this year (success!!), but even the best planning will get you in the end. I headed up to Colorado to see a good friend and winter found me. Thankfully I was staying in his house and with another dog for Milo to play with and a fenced in backyard, I didn't have to interact with winter a whole lot. We did manage to go hiking one day before it was too bad and I finally got to see the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

20210208_125918.jpg20210208_125922.jpg

But being me, once back at the house, I had to shower because I was sweaty...in 30F. So, winter is terrible, but being with friends is good.
Another bonus of being stationary at a mail-able address was KING CAKE! Since I couldn't bake my own this year, I ordered one to share with my friends and they did not complain.
20210207_091546.jpg

My friends very much spoiled me this week, with daily trips to Starbucks to homemade meals every night. It was quite a nice break for once to not have to make decisions about food or bathrooms.

Pandemic Delivery

Back in the beginning of July, I was inspired by another friend who had bought roller blades for her 40th. I thought..you know I love to skate, I should treat myself to some nice skates for my birthday. At the time of ordering them, there was an 8-10 week production window since they are custom made. This was a perfect time line and I placed the order. Since then, I've received several emails from the company with apologies for delays. I guess I wasn't the only one who wanted to skate during the pandemic. Fast forward 6 months...and they were finally shipped!! Had to call to get them re-routed since my mailing address was no longer accurate and TA-DAY!! SKATES!!!!

20210207_100642.jpg
I didn't take them out for a real test, other than adjusting them since...winter...but cannot wait to be in warmer climate to break them in well.

Remember I mentioned that Milo had a friend for the week? He had such fun playing with his big friend. She also really liked me and would check on me throughout the work day. I've since had my friend text that she still goes downstairs after the daily coffee run to see where we are :(
20210212_113644.jpg20210212_113618.jpg

After a thoroughly relaxing week, I had some decisions to make (which I now regret). Which path to take to get south? I had pretty much decided I didn't want to go through Texas. I've lived there twice, visited countless times and I'm sure I'll be back. I just didn't have a desire to drive through it. So I opted for the more northern route of through Kansas and Arkansas (never been to either). Thought it would be fun to go to new places. After consulting my personal meteorologist (everyone should have them)/ friend I was staying with, we decided that was the better route with the impending snow storm. I would drive on Saturday, stay in place for 2 nights to let the storm pass and drive again on Monday to get to Hot Springs.

Kansas

On my drive through Kansas, I decided to take the detour to visit the geographical center of the lower 48. It was only a couple of extra hours, why not?
20210213_163900.jpg20210213_163843.jpg20210213_163824.jpg

So now I can say I've been there but didn't stay long. The temps were below 0 and refuse to give them credibility by labeling them. So snapped my pics before running back to the warmth of the car. I really wanted to go into the little downtown area, but the side streets weren't plowed, so I waved, looked for Springsteen and kept going.

I stayed in Wichita since it was about halfway to Hot Springs. Decided that was a good decision. I celebrated Valentine's like every year, with pizza and action movies and watched the snow fall.
20210214_122619.jpg

Hitting the road Monday, I felt good. We had little issues getting back on the interstate, but once there everything was cleared enough to travel safely. I opted to stay on I40 longer, rather than heading down smaller highways to Hot Springs. And that proved to be at least initially a good idea. I arrived at the exit to Hwy 9 which I would wind down for the last part of my journey when everything went to shit.

As I was exiting, I was eyeing the snow berm in front of me caused by plowing of the main road. I thankfully had a yield sign and figured if I just kept going I would be ok. I was wrong. My little 2-wheel drive hit the berm and gave up. No amount of rocking back and forth helped. A 70ish man stopped to offer help and only after he did, did anyone else. They got me pushed into the first gas station where I decided to reassess my life. I looked down this twisting, not well plowed road and thought...not worth it. There was a hotel across the street...up a hill...

After filling up my gas tank, I eyed the snow berm heading out of the gas station and the other one heading to the hotel...up the hill. I tried to gun my little car as much as possible checking for a clear spot, but the berm defeated me again. Thankfully a different group of locals pitched in. One who drove my car successfully, with a few others pushing across the street and up the first part of the hill where it wouldn't go anymore. By this time a guy was walking out of the Waffle House parking lot (shared by the hotel) and called to the driver of my car. Great thing about small towns in the south...everyone knows each other...and someone will have four wheel drive and a tow strap. Waffle House guy was that guy. He hooked up the tow strap and his lady partner drove the truck pulling my car and trailer up the hill...and semi-parallel parked along the side.

Before I tried leaving the gas station I called the hotel. I know not all hotels take dogs and I didn't want to make the effort of getting over there only to be turned away. They didn't answer the phone.

I walked in asking about a room..they had one..no dogs though. I looked at the lady and asked where I was supposed to go. Didn't she see that I was towed in here? Milo is a good dog, won't make noise, won't chew on anything and won't have any accidents--he's better than most toddlers. She asked me if he was a service dog...without flinching I told her he was my Emotional Support Animal (to be fair, I do not have a letter from a doctor stating such, BUT I do have depression and honestly feel my life would be worse off without him and I am a doctor...). She gave me a WTF look over her glasses, but mumbled that if anyone saw him I should say he's a service dog. And to only use the side entrances....not the main one. Sure, sure anything you say, please let me have a room. I booked for 2 nights hoping that would give enough time to fully clear the roads and let me escape down to Louisiana.

After being stressed out, I was now exhausted and hungry. I didn't eat lunch while driving (I do this sometimes) and with Waffle House just a few feet away, got a burger and hash browns (diced, capped and covered) to go and settled in for the night.

Change in plans

Now remember I said I regretted my decisions earlier? The regret was not staying in CO with my friends. Now to be fair, I don't like to overstay and he was stressed for his job and hadn't thought through the next week implications. So decisions were made, I'm now in BFE Arkansas. Hindsight and all that.

He texted me Tuesday morning telling me that leaving the next day would be a bad decision. Another storm system would be moving through and if it was possible at all to just stay put until Saturday. This was not the news I wanted to hear. I didn't want to be stuck in this hotel that allows SMOKING in some rooms, but not dogs. Where my only easy food option was Waffle House. But after accepting that my safety would be at risk, I was able to get groceries delivered to the hotel to live out dorm life for a few days. Room did have a microwave and refrigerator so I stocked up on canned soup, tuna and crackers. I will make this work. Managed to do some stress therapy after work and started my new sewing project. I was living in a hotel...and not in an exotic location.

MG (Meteorologist guy) was spot on. I watched the snow all day knowing it was going into the early morning the next day. But thought I would share a few more musings from my time stuck.

Waffle House

Before you get started on how racist it is...unless I wanted to take my life in my hands and go down the hill, cross the road, up the other hill to the McDonald's or Subway with no visible sidewalk and only a sort of visible road, Waffle House was going to be dinner. I've been to Waffle House a handful of times since undergrad where it was a very common 2am visit. Ms. Dixie was the best waitress in my college town. She didn't put up with any nonsense from the drunk frat boys. So I have fond memories of WH. However, being an actual adult now, I recognize they do not have anything remotely healthy and eating there for many days would be terrible. Thus dorm life food. But I wanted to point out the wonders of WH. Like the fact that their cooks are probably the only people in the world who can multi-task. How many of you can cook one order, while listening to another one and start on that? At any given time having 3-7 orders going. I have always been fascinated watching this. Loud drunk people yelling to their friends, but a clear voice ringing out, "Drop half, smothered, covered and diced, drop half bacon...." and more. Watching the cook move spatulas and crack eggs and never miss a beat or an order. Its a talent I will never have. I also appreciate that on the WH application (hopefully still there, haven't looked in recent years) there are math problems. So the question of when will I ever use this? from that obnoxious student in math class--to work at WH. Where honestly, young man, that would be ambitious for you--better stick to scraping gum off of the floor for a living.

So that's my ode to WH. Their workers are fascinating at the level of handling multiple things. I've been a server at a few different places and I can say with absolute confidence...I have forgotten orders..or at least part of an order. And I've blamed the cook. Unfair, but the cook is always in the back where no one can see and can take the blame and protect my tip. WH servers don't have that luxury. So they are the stars of the serving world.

Fingers crossed after two full clear days, the roads will be cleared out so I can continue my trek onward south.

Hope you enjoyed the view,
Ocean

Posted by Oceansview 22:10 Comments (0)

New Mexico


View Nomad life 2020 on Oceansview's travel map.

Heading further east, I landed in White Sands, NM.

New Mexico has some pretty strict restrictions for COVID (yay! good leadership!!) that prevent out of state people from reserving sites at their state parks. So I landed at a KOA. To be fair, all KOA folks that I've met are wonderful folks. I just prefer to not be in a parking lot if possible. Oh well.

White Sands/Alamogordo

I decided to give myself permission to relax for a few days. Every day in Arizona, I was running off after a full day of work each day to take in the sights. While that is one of the goals of my trip, I also need to have days that I'm not running around. So despite being in a place on a weekend day, I relaxed more and didn't go see things right away. Instead, decided to give you an update on camper life.

Camper Life

My friend gave me a gift before leaving Compton of a little egg souffle maker. He thought it would be good since its so small. And let me say, IT IS! I don't make eggs every morning, but its really nice to throw eggs in a device and not have to watch it.

0b34bf90-5e6b-11eb-a98b-1f2c85215441.jpg11dc3d50-5e6b-11eb-a98b-1f2c85215441.jpg

I use my inductive stove top a lot for my various one pot meals (I'm getting to be quite the expert), but I also use the single propane burner every day to make coffee. I found this great collapsible pour over thing that has made having fresh coffee every day possible.
20210130_080052.jpg

I also boil water at night to wash the dishes. Having only a small sink with a direct connection to a hose (if available) doesn't allow for hot water. So twice a day this is my view.

20210124_194751.jpg

I mentioned I'm getting to be a fairly good one pot chef. Key is to just put things together that taste good even if occasionally you have to remove to cook a different part of the meal. Chicken sausage and sauerkraut are some of my favorite go-tos.
20210124_161246.jpg20210124_162147.jpg20210124_163151.jpg

Another fairly easy classic (and bonus of only needing to keep one of the ingredients in the fridge) is chili. I use ground turkey for my meat and the rest is canned goods and onion.
20210128_182007.jpg

However, it has now been zero days since a red sauce incident. At least with this one, Milo could help clean up.
20210128_182004.jpg

Lincoln National Forest

The first couple of days I was in the area, weather was not the greatest, which probably contributed to me be lazy. After work on Monday, I decided to drive through the Lincoln National Forest.
20210205_092543.jpg

The snow was beautiful and as typical, Milo could care less that a strong wind was blowing and freezing. He is also NOT scared of heights if a good smell is involved.
20210126_151551.jpg20210126_151538.jpg20210126_151544.jpg20210126_151456.jpg20210126_151449.jpg20210127_194126.jpg20210126_151441.jpg

There aren't many photos because the road didn't have many pull over spots. There were also some not cleared parts, so driving was the priority. I'm glad we went through because it was a beautiful drive.

Bloomfield

After a week in White Sands area, it was time to move up north. On the drive up I stopped a 2 of the 3 Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument sights. These are Spanish Mission locations that built these sites in partnership with the Pueblo people built in the early 1600s.
The first place I stopped was Gran Quivira.
20210205_092759.jpg20210129_102339.jpg20210129_102318.jpg20210129_101708.jpg

The churches were the main part of the community and the biggest building.
20210129_102048.jpg

Underground kivas, usually circular were allowed to remain even though they were used for dancing for the Pueblo peoples rituals.
20210129_102747.jpg

The second location was farther north and I had a chance to stop into the visitor's center. I've been excited when National Parks are open so I can get my official stamps. And I was able to get THREE here! You get the general one from Salinas and then one for each sight you visit. The third site was in a different direction so I didn't make it to that one.
20210205_092816.jpg20210129_114407.jpg20210129_113917.jpg20210129_114533.jpg20210129_114159.jpg20210129_113941.jpg20210129_114109.jpg20210129_114356.jpg

The different brick colors were rather interesting. Even though they are not very far apart its apparent of the different materials that are available. This one was also a lot larger and had an area for inquisitions. The Pueblo people were not ever tried for an inquisition, but they could act as witnesses.

Day of Disappointment

I got to Bloomfield and headed to the RV park. The owner had called me a couple days before to let me know that he would bring fresh water down to me since he didn't have a potable line. I thought..ok, its a slight hassle but its fine. Then as I was getting close to town he calls to check on when I will arrive. I was about an hour out. He said he would leave several jugs of water for me. I asked him to make sure to leave the bathroom unlocked. He then said he didn't have bathrooms. ... I told him his website indicated that he did. Oh yeah..he had port-a-potties but they had started freezing so he returned them. I asked exactly what I was paying him for since I could pee in the woods for free. Needless to say, I cancelled and found another park driving into town.

The next morning I got up excited to go see Mesa Verde. I have become more intrigued with the Pueblo peoples and how they were able to work with the land verses our current way of exploiting the land. The drive up had some icy areas, which I'm never a fan of, but made it to the park. Got to the check-in point and was told they weren't allowing anyone without 4-wheel drive or snow chains to enter because of the roads not being in great condition. So we turned around. I saw that there were some more Pueblo sites not far and headed towards those. Turning down a snow packed road, I got to enjoy the view of unblemished snow fields.
20210130_112819.jpg20210130_112814.jpg20210130_112806.jpg

When I was about 1/4-1/2 mile from the site, the road was no longer snow packed, but about 2 feet deep with a single set of tire tracks. I turned around again, disappointed. Now yes, I could have hiked along the tire tracks, but I did not bring snow boots with me.

I then decided to drive to Four Corners. Another landmark I have wanted to see. I knew it was not in the mountains so the roads should be fine. The drive was again beautiful with gorgeous formations.
20210205_092941.jpg

As I got to the turnoff, there were large signs saying CLOSED and a gate was shut and locked across the road. Four corners in located on a Reservation. I cannot blame the Native Americans at all for wanting to keep the white folks out. I mean we have given them enough illnesses and problems.

At this point it was mid afternoon. I was very disappointed to not have seen any of the places I set out to see. I decided to find a place that had Navajo tacos as something to not be disappointed about and was finally successful. Headed back to the RV park to enjoy my taco and do some more sewing. I am getting close to finishing my current cross stitch project. And I wanted to enjoy something after my very disappointing day.

Aztec Ruins and Simon Canyon

The next day, I woke up determined to see something! I had passed the Aztec Ruins sign on my way to Mesa Verde yesterday, so decided to try it out. We headed out early and I had a nice time with the park completely to myself. Milo wasn't allowed to explore so he napped in the car.
20210205_093008.jpg

The majority of the ruins have been maintained by the Park service and they reconstructed the main Kiva so show what it would have looked like when it was used. This would have been the main worship area.
20210131_093648.jpg20210131_093726.jpg

The remainder of the ruins showed a very community driven way of life and a very practical way to share resources. Living spaces were small connected rooms that shared wall similar to apartments. I was very impressed with the amount of original features that have survived the passing of time.
20210131_095015.jpg20210131_095156.jpg20210131_095216.jpg20210131_094950.jpg20210131_094423.jpg20210131_094833.jpg20210131_095418.jpg

20210131_095107.jpg
The broom and mat were found with the original ruins and have not been moved.

20210131_094103.jpg20210131_094152.jpg20210131_094752.jpg20210131_093917.jpg20210131_093940.jpg20210131_095011.jpg

I stayed in Bloomfield for a couple of more days before moving on. It was nice and is now on the list to re-visit post pandemic in order to see all the things I want to see.

Taos

Several people have told me that I needed to see Taos, so I rented a small AirBnB to get out of the wind and cold for a few days. It was definitely the right decision as 2 of the nights I was there the wind was really ripping through and I'm not sure my little camper would have done well. It was also nice to have indoor plumbing again. Walking outside in the cold to go to the bathroom is not my favorite activity. I probably partially dehydrate myself in order to reduce the possibility of a late night trip. Anyway--don't need to worry about that for a few days!

The historical plaza of Taos was really cute, but also depressing. Many of the shops are closed (possibly permanently) and there were no people. I know its off season and folks are being careful, but to not see anyone out walking was sad.
20210205_134934.jpg

Taos will be another place that I come back to visit. I can see how it can have such personality.

Earthship and the Gorge

On my drive into town, I saw a little house built into the earth and thought--OH its one of those cool houses I've read about. Then as I drove a little more, I saw it was an entire community of eco-friendly houses!! I also drove over the beautiful gorge and knew those would be my first explored places. My first day after work, the weather was pretty crappy, but I drove out to Earthship. They have an entire Visitor's center set up to explain how everything works. From building the walls out of tires and adobe mud to the water system (used multiple times before going to the septic tank). It is such a cool concept and I can see building one or buying one in retirement. Living off grid with a low carbon footprint in any place seems pretty ideal.

20210205_093114.jpg20210203_155323.jpg20210203_155400.jpg20210203_155444.jpg

I then drove back over to the Gorge after a freezing rain and high wind event hit me leaving Earthship (that's why there aren't more outdoor pics). I arrived just in time to see a rainbow.
20210203_160242.jpg

The gorge is another amazing natural feature and has a nice hiking trail, but with the rain and the mud, we decided to pass.
20210203_160341.jpg20210203_160424.jpg

I enjoyed my northern New Mexico adventure, but was ready to not deal with rain/sleet/snow for a while.

Off to enjoy the next view!
Ocean

Posted by Oceansview 18:24 Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]