Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Journey West - New York City to Denver in 7 days

With this post I am playing catch up - I'm writing this two months later on the west coast sitting in a beautiful campsite near San Diego.

Monday 11/16/15
We left Liberty Campground heading west through the urban jungle of Northern New Jersey.  Jersey City didn't want to let us go.  We navigated the streets to the Interstate entrance, only to find the on ramp closed for construction.  This lead us on a 5 mile detour through the city to the next exit, auspiciously marked. "No Trucks Allowed".  Once we were on the highway things settled down and we made good time out of New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.
As we were approaching the entrance to the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Harrison we decided to pull into a Flying J truck stop to look up the turnpike tolls on line.  As it turned out the tolls were within the realm of acceptable but we decided to hang out at the Flying J as we had a good parking spot and had learned that these truck stops fill up quickly as dusk approaches.

Tuesday 11/17/15
We spent the day driving from Harrison PA to Zanesville Ohio.  Zanesville isn't much of a town, but they did have a Walmart where we arrived near sunset, finding a flat spot out beyond the garden center.  From the time we left Vermont I had been struggling with the RV's alternator.  It went from intermittently spiking the batteries with 50 amps of current to not charging at all.  This was a continuation of the problems that had begun last year as we headed from Florida to Texas, including getting a replacement alternator (which failed within 30 miles of being installed) and getting the original one rebuilt for a small fortune.  The latest chapter in the drama was replacing the voltage regulator while we were parked in Jersey City.  This did not prove to be a solution as the new voltage regulator was now showing the same symptoms.  When we got up Wednesday morning in Zanesville we went searching for another new voltage regulator.  Eventually ending at a little business behind a residence on the outskirts of town where the proprietor had one left (a different brand from the failed 2).

After installing the voltage regulator we continued on our way west, hopeful that our charging problems had been left behind.

Wednesday 11/18/15
We drove from Zanesville Ohio to Terre Haute Indiana.  Things got flatter...  What can I say?  On the plus side the alternator worked the 303 miles we covered!

Thursday 11/19/15  We drove from Terre Haute Indiana to Boonsville Missouri where we stayed at a Walmart.  The memorable event of this day was crossing the Mississippi at St Louis.  Lucie raided her Maker supplies we brought with us on the roof of the RV to give her something to do while we traveled.

Friday 11/20/15 we drove from Boonsville MO to Salinas Kansas.  By the time we got to our truck stop for the night the tedium of driving every day was beginning to get to us.
Walking around the truck stop we decided we needed to do something to break up the monotony.  Then we looked out over the flat prairie to the horizon in every direction and wondered...

Saturday 11/21/15  We drove from Selinas Kansas to a truck stop in Oakley Kansas.

There were windmills and oil rigs along with way.  We even got to video conference with the Grandkids as we drove along.

Once we arrived in Oakley we traveled out a frozen dirt road to view one of the seven wonders of Kansas - the Kansas Monuments.  A chalk formation in the middle of the prairie.  

Then we returned to the truck stop where we met with some old friends, the Snows who were heading East to buy a new RV.  We had met them in Cedar Key, Florida two years ago and since then have been following their travels on line.  We had a meal together at the truck stop diner then they continued east.  We spent the night lulled to sleep by the idling diesels parked next to us.

Sunday 11/22/15 It was cold!  We drove from Oakley KS to my son Warren's place in Broomfield Colorado.  We left behind the flat prairie for the Rocky Mountains and we left behind the road for a spot on the street out front of Warren and Allison's new (to them) home.  It is in a delightful neighborhood in this town tucked between Denver and Boulder where we felt right at home, being the 3rd RV parked on their street.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Boondocking in the Desert Day 8

Today started as a Tech Day, proceeded to a Hiking Day, then to  a health related challenge, and ending with another amazing sunset and fire.

During yesterday's closet therapy,  I tore open my box from Adafruit which contained  the new $5 PI Zero  and related peripherals.   One of the things I have discovered while boondocking is that the the desert is filled with geeks, after all who else besides a DIY personality would volunteer to go live without power, water, and sewer and call it fun! ;-)

So knowing there was backup around me, I put out the word that I was about to unpack my Adafruit box filled with Pi goodies and sent out a Facebook message inviting anyone who was interested to join me. 

I was quickly joined by Kelley who showed up carrying a battery pack and a Pico projector.  Soon Eric came over with his Dell Mini projector.  Both had enough experience to know that these might come in handy.  One of the things I learned about boon docking in a group is that everyone around you is always willing to share any resources they might have to help their neighbors. 

Kelley and I quickly explored the various components that had come in the box.  
First step in any project is too familiarize yourself with your materials.  It wasn’t long before we had power.  Next we played with display options, and finally came to a standstill realizing that the Pi Zero would need a new version of Raspbian.  I immediately started the two hour download process and then we all went off to look for palm trees in a nearby canyon!  But I had what I needed — a boost of confidence to set forth on my exploration of the Pi Zero and write the first of a Raspberry Pi series I'm starting at my Learning With Lucie blog.   Special shoutout to Kelley and Eric and all the other geeks who live, work, and learn from the road who inspire me with both your knowledge and your DIY spirit!

In the afternoon we moved on to explore a new canyon - this time by foot.  We drove over to a hiking trail that would lead us to a most unusual view of Palm Trees growing along a canyon wall.

Grabbing some photos of the palm trees about a half mile into Palm Canyon was a good chance to take a rest before the trail changed into more of a obstacle course.    Craig wasn't feeling so well so he and I decided to sit out the rest of the hike along with Lynn, who was being more cautious as her ankle was still healing from a nasty break.

We grabbed the first ride back to camp, where Craig immediately grabbed some IBprofen and headed for bed hoping the excruciating pain in his side would soon stop.  Meanwhile I watched another amazing sunset and researched the nearest hospital and started to strategize (just in case).  Thankfully he woke up a few hours later, pain free, and was able to join the group for one last fire before we relocated the bus to the Bluebird gathering in  Quartzite.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Boondocking in the Desert Day 7

Today Craig and I went our separate ways for a good part of the day.  He joined the gang that was going off road again, and I opted to stay behind and enjoy some LUCIE time.   I LOVE  being with my amazing husband, but I have to admit that I have missed having some Lucie time.  And even when I do things like fly back home and leave him behind - he's the only one that gets alone time, since mine is spent connecting with family and friends.   

I used my 'me' time to sort through my closets and cubbies and unpack my suitcase from my last trip to Vermont.  I found that so much easier to do without Craig around since it mean pulling things our, sorting through stuff - touching my stuff - and then putting everything away in a more organized fashion.  I find that process very therapeutic - especially doing it alone (with nobody else watching). 

Eventually I felt organized enough to join a group who were being leisurely around the firepit. And I think I even relaxed some. 

Meanwhile the off-road crew had quite the adventure. One of the vehicles got stuck on a rock and everybody got to work together towards a solution that get the Jeep off the rock.

Turns out that Eric had a marshmallow type of tool that could be inflated beneath the car to lift it up far enough to build a rock ramp beneath the wheels.  This sounds like the perfect engineering challenge for Craig to be part of - providing him with some good quality CRAIG time!

And of course he came back with some great pics of the desert.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Boondocking in the Desert Day 6

While our boondocking experience started in Quartzite with about a dozen or so Bluebirds who we had not yet met face to face,  the next few days of our  boondocking experience was spent with a intimate group of fellow nomads that we had previously met during our travels (and some of their friends).

How cool it was to see how each of our approach to traveling has evolved over the years.  Facebook posts and blog post have kept up informed about some of those changes (i.e. adding solar panels to our rigs or broken ankles) and some of the highlights of our journey (i.e. trips to Alaska and other exotic places) It was also great fun to make new friends who were friends of friends. We even met a couple from Vermont (our home state)!  

Spending  time together under the desert stars,  sharing the  intimate moments of our lives around a campfire, seemed to cement the friendships into ones that will continue in the years to come.   We shared tips and tricks we've learned from our travels, shared some of our personal growth journeys, and shared future plans (short term and long term).

Boondocking (in this case) certainly did not mean being alone in the desert, and it certainly was NOT lonely!    Craig and I usually retired from the fire earlier than the rest of the group -- and came to terms with the fact that we needed to be OKAY with being 'old' or "older'.   Yes,  we had commonalities with our fellow campers in the fact that we were NOT retirees - we have discovered how to use technology to work from the road,  and we are all living on a fairly tight budget.  But our age and stage of life also highlighted some differences (like needing more sleep, or missing our grandchildren, and favoring less rigorous hikes in less rugged terrain).

How fortunate we are to have discovered such cool people in our travels and be able to stay connected.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Boondocking in the Desert Day 5

Offroading was a brand new adventure for us. Our friends, Eric and Jeannette, let as tag along as they took their Jeep up into Queens Canyon - a part of the the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.