The Day Facebook Saved Our Lives

I try pretty hard to keep my posts in order, even if it means getting behind by weeks (sometimes months) where we actually are in real life. But, something happened recently that  I think is too important to wait.

We’ve been meandering our way back to Florida. My last post was about Yellowstone NP and since then, we’ve visited Grand Teton NP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Grand Staircase NM, Carlsbad Cavern NP and finally Guadalupe Mountains NP. This found us once again in Texas. Our plan was to catch up with some friends from our job last summer then head to NOLA to check out the WWII Museum before making our way to Crystal River, FL to visit with Daddy. We were unemployed at the moment, so taking our time was fine.

Just outside of Odessa, TX our plan, and Waldo, came to a screeching halt. We were broken down. Naturally, this happened on a Friday afternoon. With the weekend looming, no one had any interest in getting us on our way. One company Steve called said sure, they’d come look at Waldo, but “Be prepared to pay ALL the money.” Gee thanks, but no thanks.

What do you do when you are broken down in a strange place and no one seems to care? You reach out to whoever you can think of, anyone you think *might* know someone in the area. Last year, when we were working at Wind Point Park, we met Ben Miller, the promoter of Turkey Drag. I was hoping with all of his car club connections he might know someone who could help. I reached out to him via Facebook and then something incredible happened. Ben posted a “looking for recommendations” on our behalf on his page and within minutes, people started leaving suggestions, tagging friends and offering help. Someone sent Ben a screenshot of a contact on their phone. It was Jake from DropTine Auto in Midland, Texas.

Steve called Jake and explained our situation. Despite the fact DropTine is a very busy shop, Jake said we could bring Waldo there. When Steve explained he was a mechanic and could do some of the work himself, Jake said – “Great.”  To make a long story short, not only did Jake allow Steve to do 99% of the work himself, but he let us stay in Waldo in the yard. It turns out the problem was related to what caused us to break down in Alaska, only this time, there wasn’t a “band-aid” fix. The gear which runs the hydraulic pump is located on the mainshaft of the compressor and it was toast! Steve called Caterpillar and they said sure, they could get a new one for $2200 in about 6 weeks. I just cried. “6 weeks, stuck in Midland? $2200 we can’t afford that!” Jake called the manufacturer of the compressor to see if there was a replacement available. The unit had been discontinued. WHAT? But, they offered to rebuild ours for $250 plus shipping.  All we had to do was get it to them in North Carolina.

In the meantime, I had been looking for winter work. I found a seasonal job in Fort Lauderdale selling Christmas trees. Would Waldo be repaired in time for us to get there? We had already been broken down for 15 days, now we had to ship the compressor to NC and hope for the best.

DropTine is a busy shop with several great employees, but Jake allowed Steve to help out in the shop when he wasn’t working on Waldo. That was awesome! It gave Steve something to do and helped make us feel like we weren’t just taking up space in his yard.

The rebuilt compressor showed back up on Monday the 5th…

img_6974

with its shiny new gear. Isn’t that sexy?! It took until Tuesday afternoon to get everything back together. When the work was complete and we were ready to hit the road, we asked Jake for our bill. He said we didn’t owe him anything. He took into account the work Steve had done around the shop and called it even. I was floored. He also said if the shop was still busy in the spring, Steve could come back and work for him for a month or so before our next workamping job. It makes my heart happy to know there are still people in this world like him.

Happiness through the windshield…

img_6975

We have since arrived at Daddy’s house and are leaving on the 14th to head to Fort Lauderdale. I’ll keep you posted on how selling Christmas trees goes and promise to eventually go back and write about the places we’ve been.

A heartfelt thank you to Ben, his friends and all the guys at DropTine Auto!

Stepping Back in Time

The post title is about the museum, not that I am 3 weeks (or more) late in writing about it. I promise, I am trying to catch up.

When we left Palo Duro Canyon, we stopped in Amarillo at Jack Sismore’s RV Museum. It is free (one of my favorite prices). We drove by and it looked a little tight to get Waldo towing the Jeep in, so we disconnected at Walmart and drove back. I have to say, it was definitely worth the hassle of disconnecting!

We asked the lady at the front desk where the museum was and she happily pointed us to the back door – no really, the museum is in a building out back. We were instructed to stay between the red painted lines and take our time and enjoy ourselves.

Jack Sisemore owned a Chevron station…

RV Museum-4968

He started renting motorhomes, barely a year later, he had 6 rentals and started Jack Sisemore Traveland.

RV Museum-4974

The oldest “RV” is a 1921 Ford Lamsteed Kampkar…

RV Museum-4950
I can’t imagine bouncing around the roads of rural America in this beauty.

He started collecting and restoring unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago and has quite the collection.  See for yourself…

RV Museum-5021

RV Museum-4981
1946 Tear Drop Kit

One of the neatest RVs he has is the 1948 Flxible which was used in the Robin Williams movie RV…

RV Museum-4960

RV Museum-4963

RV Museum-4962

He also has the very first Itasca ever built, serial number 1…

RV Museum-4966

And the world’s oldest Airsteam, a 1935 Torpedo…

RV Museum-4959

Not his only Airstream…

RV Museum-5010

RV Museum-5012

 

He bought this 1953 Fleetwood from an 84 year old lady who had decided it was time to quit life on the road…

RV Museum-5004

RV Museum-5007

Also pretty neat is the 1976 FMC coach which was owned by Max Factor Jr (1904-1996)…

RV Museum-4995

Other cool RVs…

RV Museum-5017
1976 Argosy
RV Museum-4990
1973 Starcraft
RV Museum-4972
1970 Avion

RV Museum-4973

RV Museum-4965
Not restored

To complete the throw-back feeling there is an old A&W drive up restaurant…

RV Museum-4952

And other vintage items, like this cigarette vending machine.  When’s the last time you saw one of these?

RV Museum-4953

Not only are the RVs lovingly restored, but there is a ton of period material to make the experience more real…

RV Museum-5015

RV Museum-4986

RV Museum-4978

RV Museum-4955

Overall, I am glad we stopped in. It really was neat to see these old RVs and to think of how far we’ve come in the world of RV living.

If you are ever in Amarillo, I highly recommend stopping in!

Next post…Unplanned Happiness!

 

 

 

Rolling into “The Big Easy”

And so begins our next big adventure. We have a job in Alaska this summer but we have to get there first. I spent weeks planning our route. Where to stop, what to see, how long to stay…all while keeping in mind we have to be in Moose Pass as close to May 1st as possible. If we had chosen to drive straight there from Daddy’s house, it would have been 4773 miles. Instead we decided to go west, then north, making the trip 6110 miles.

Our first big stop was The Big Easy, The Birthplace of Jazz, Crescent City, New Orleans, NOLA, N’Awlins, whatever you chose to call it, it is a happening place with so much to see! We only had time to stay 3 nights with our somewhat rigid timeline so we wanted to make the best of it. You could stay there a week and never get to take it all in. We used  Pontchartrain Landing as our base camp, only 15 minutes from the French Quarter. With our Passport America discount, it was only $41 a night.

New Orleans-6061

The first thing we did was drive by the house my dad grew up in. I hadn’t been there since I was about 5 years old and it didn’t look anything like I remembered, but lets face it, that was many years and several hurricanes ago! We wanted to check out some of the plantation homes gracing the banks of the Mississippi River, so we headed towards Vacherie. It was a little further than I thought, but it was a nice ride. Just before we got to Oak Alley Plantation, we caught sight of the Queen of the Mississippi

New Orleans-5913

We found a place to park and walked up to the bank to admire her. The Mississippi River is a busy river! All types of ships and barges travel it’s waters…

New Orleans-5911

New Orleans-5909

After watching the river traffic for a while, we got back to the original reason we were there. Plantations! We weren’t going to have time to tour any of them, but we wanted to drive by and see as many as we could. Oak Alley gets its name from the 28 evenly spaced live oak trees lining the front walkway. These massive trees are thought to be about 300 years old, man, if trees could talk!

New Orleans-5922

My picture really doesn’t do the scenery justice! A bit further, we saw a single live oak in the field, with no one standing near it, it is hard to give a sense of scale, but it was a beautiful tree…

New Orleans-5930

Not all the plantations have been restored, some are in the works and others are in pretty poor condition. Sugar cane is still grown in the area and we passed lots of freshly planted fields…

New Orleans-5928

I had to ask Steve to turn around so I could get a picture of this oak lined driveway…

New Orleans-5932

A quick stop at another plantation…

New Orleans-5935

Then back to New Orleans and the French Quarter! Parking is very pricey in the French Quarter but I found a neat app called Spot Hero . With the app, I was able to find parking right on the edge of the French Quarter ($17 for 12 hours on a Saturday!) We hit the streets and tried to take it all in…

New Orleans-5938

New Orleans-5943

New Orleans-5958

New Orleans-5963

New Orleans-5964

New Orleans-5966

New Orleans-5968

New Orleans-5953

New Orleans-5978

New Orleans-5998

New Orleans-6001

New Orleans-6002

New Orleans-5997

New Orleans-6003

New Orleans-6005

There were all kinds of street performers. each vying for your attention (and cash)…

New Orleans-5950

New Orleans-5959

New Orleans-6014

New Orleans-6017

New Orleans-6018

New Orleans-5975

Then, there’s the people watching! A never ending stream of people from all walks of life…

New Orleans-5980

New Orleans-5965

New Orleans-5961

At night, Bourbon Street really comes alive with music, neon and people…

New Orleans-5987

New Orleans-5991

We stopped in at Ticklers and listened to the house band for a bit. I noticed the neon board and paid my dollar to change the phrase of the night…

New Orleans-6006

New Orleans-6008

This should be quite a year to visit New Orleans as it is celebrating it’s 300th birthday…

New Orleans-6011

I never gave it much thought, but apparently getting married and parading down Bourbon Street is in!

New Orleans-6024

New Orleans-6023

The morning we left, I climbed up on top of Waldo to get a shot of the park…

New Orleans-6059

We will probably go back to New Orleans when we can stay a little longer. There is still so much to see!

Have you ever been to the Big Easy? What was your favorite thing to see?

Exploring Big Cypress National Preserve, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can find it here. Big Cypress encompasses several different environments, and they each require a specific mode of transportation. Many places are accessible with your own vehicle, despite any warning signs you might see…

Big Cypress-4454

Many of the roads are hard packed sand and are easy to navigate…

Big Cypress-4622

They offer a stunning array of scenery and wildlife opportunities…

Big Cypress-4466

Big Cypress-4434

Big Cypress-4518

Big Cypress-4663

Other areas can only be reached via hiking trails. We started out on the Gator Hook Trail. At the start, it looked something like this…

Big Cypress-4457

With scenery like this…

Big Cypress-4466

Then it became a bit muddier…

Big Cypress-4463

As you can see, Steve is having second thoughts about this hike. And with good reason, the rest of the trail looked like this…

Big Cypress-4469

We hadn’t really planned for a wet hike, so we decided to head back and check out some of the other trails. One of the neat things about Big Cypress is they have several boardwalk hikes. Most are less than a mile and are wheelchair accessible. You can see almost all of the same scenery, but with dry feet.

Big Cypress -5232
What do you think of this in black and white?

The boardwalk at the Kirby Storter Roadside Park has a chickee near the beginning of the trail…

Big Cypress -5193

As the boardwalk meanders through the forest/swamp, you can’t help but notice the changes in the landscape. Cypress knees begin cluttering the forest floor…

Big Cypress -5247

Most of the cypress trees were logged out during the late 1800’s. But every now and then, you can find one that has been around a while. I have no idea how old this tree is, but the plastic water bottle near the base of it gives something for scale. (There was actually very little litter in the preserve)

Big Cypress -5198

The boardwalk ends at a large viewing platform with several benches…

Big Cypress -5204

While Steve was talking with another visitor, I watched the anhinga looking for its lunch…

Big Cypress -5222

Another day, Steve and I hiked out to Deep Lake. Since we were there during the dry season, the path was pretty easy to walk. There were a few places where getting wet was the only option. At least we were prepared this time…

Big Cypress-5849

Deep Lake is a naturally occurring sinkhole lake and is over 90 feet deep.

Big Cypress-5844
How many alligators do you see? Hint, there are more than 5

One of the benefits of hiking versus driving, is you can just stop and check things out. You will see things you would have otherwise missed. Like the neat pattern the fungus made on this tree…

Big Cypress-4656

Or the blooms of the bromeliads…

Big Cypress-4659

Or the lizards,

Big Cypress-4652

A strangle fig with its victim,

Key West iPhone-2-33

A squirrel hiding in a tree,

Big Cypress -5332

Or a liguus tree snail…

Big Cypress-5627

For me, kayaking is probably the next “slowest” way to take in the sights.

Big Cypress-5806

I imagine during the wet season, all of this is underwater.

Big Cypress-5821

Other ways to get into the “back country” are airboats…

Big Cypress -5350

And my personal favorite – swamp buggies…

Big Cypress-5838

There are lots of places you can take airboat or swamp buggy eco tours, but we opted not to on this trip. Maybe next time!

Until then…

Key West iPhone-2-2

 

We say “Thanks for coming along!” and we always love reading your comments!

Exploring Big Cypress National Preserve, part 1

Everyone has heard of “The Everglades National Park”. But did you know there is another , equally beautiful, tract of land just east of the Everglades called Big Cypress National Preserve? What’s the difference between a national park and a national preserve? Land use is restricted more tightly in a national park, for example you can not legally hunt in most national parks, but you can in national preserves. Big Cypress was the first national preserve, established Oct. 11, 1974.

The concept of a Preserve was born from an exercise in compromise. Everyone saw the importance of protecting the swamp, but many did not want this region merely added to nearby Everglades National Park that was created in the 1940s. Many felt that national parks were managed in a restrictive manner and access to the swamp would be lost. The resulting compromise created a new land management concept – a national preserve. An area that would be protected, but would also allow for specific activities that were described by Congress within the legislation that created the Preserve.”

Steve and I recently spent 10 days exploring Big Cypress. We stayed at Burn Lake Campground which was a perfect jumping off spot for our day trips. There are no services at Burns Lake (electric, water or sewer), perhaps that is why it was so much less crowded than some of the other campgrounds. With only 10 RV sites (sites 1 & 2 are reserved for camp hosts) and 6 tent sites crowding is seldom an issue. Several nights during our stay, we were the only RV in the campground other than the camp hosts.

No matter where you travel within the park, you are guaranteed to see 2 things – alligators and birds!

Big Cypress-4674

Frequently near each other. These wood storks aren’t paying any mind to the alligator on the shore. I don’t know how often a bird becomes a snack but…

Big Cypress-5701

This vulture was more than happy to feast on these alligator remains, while the rest of the flock waited their turn…

Big Cypress-5667

While many of the birds are out in the open and easily seen…

Big Cypress-4699

Others challenge you to find them…

Big Cypress-4559

Some birds strike regal poses for you…

Big Cypress-4514

While others appear to be having a “bad feather” day…

Big Cypress-4557

And speaking of feathers, I loved the way this one was drifting along in the current…

Big Cypress-4523

Some of the other birds we saw…

Big Cypress -5225

Big Cypress -5363

 

10K Islands NWR-4744

Big Cypress-4604

Big Cypress-4541

Big Cypress -5285

But, the most exciting bird encounter we had was at nearby 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Steve and I had been there several days earlier, but wanted to go back for a sunrise view from the observation platform. While the sunrise was beautiful, I didn’t really get any images I thought were spectacular. Not wanting to waste our visit, we walked along the refuge’s Marsh Trail. We stopped for a time to enjoy the peaceful surroundings…

Big Cypress-4720

When to our amazement, an osprey decided to search for breakfast right next to us! The scene went something like this. The osprey flies in, literally, not more than 20 feet over my head…

Osprey Hunt-5110

Sees something good to eat and prepares to dive…

Osprey Hunt-5117

Gaining speed…

10K Islands NWR-4999

I lost sight of him in the brush, but I heard the splash.  Then he re-emerges and flies off with breakfast…

Osprey Hunt-5130Steve and I were stunned to witness this so closely! On our way back to the Jeep, we stopped at the observation platform and I think this picture is perfect. To me it shows what a wide variety of people enjoy the refuge…

10K Islands NWR-5186

Ok, so about those alligators. There are signs everywhere, warning people not to feed or harass the alligators. In the visitor’s center, they tell you to stay at least 10 feet away from them. That’s it? 10 feet? Hmmm, okay. My picture…

Big Cypress-4436

Sorry, wrong one. My picture…

Big Cypress-4499

And my proof I was 10 feet away…

Key West iPhone-2-4

We happened upon lots of gators soaking up the sun…

Big Cypress-4648

Big Cypress-4511

Big Cypress-4483

One of the hardest animals to get any photographs of were the turtles. Yep, the turtles! Nearly every time I would see one, Steve would stop the Jeep and they would disappear into the water. I did manage to get a few images…

Big Cypress-4532

Big Cypress-5660

If you are lucky, you might get a chance to see some of the other animals in the preserve. While we did not see any bears or panthers, we did see a few deer off in the distance…

Big Cypress-4677

 

What else is there to see and do? Stay tuned for Part 2!

Thanks for coming along!

A Year in Review

With 2017 and Peterborough in the review mirror, I realize just how much our life changed last year. When 2017 began, we were still living in a stick and brick home, we owned a business and we were still making our plan to hit the road. Then, something happened and it all changed. Accelerating our plan to move into Waldo full time a year ahead of schedule required quite a lot of work. First, had to decide what we wanted to keep and what needed to go, then we had to get rid of all our belongings that weren’t going with us…

img_1237
One of our many yard sales

We had to get the house ready to sell. Clean, paint, new flooring…

unfinished

kitchen cabinets

And, of course, the we had to wait for the weather to warm up…

IMG_3168

IMG_3187
Sometimes, you just have to take a break!

Then, there was all the work we needed to do to Waldo before we could leave. My favorite “upgrade” was our new curtains…

Curtain A
What do you do with family photos?
Curtain B
You turn them into iron-ons and make curtains!

privacy curtain pano

SC2

SC3

SC4

We said goodbye to family and friends…

the family

goodbye

Finally, Florida bound…

img_3896

By far, the biggest improvement we had to do was get a new roof. We decided Florida was where we should get that done. The benefit of being able to stay with my dad while the repair was done, made the decision an easy one…

roof repair-0341

Steve began to adjust to not going to work every day…

img_3908

It was July before we truly ready to hit the road. We had a job waiting for us in Texas and it was time to go…

img_3891-1
Our first meal living full time in Waldo.

And then, our new temporary home in Texas…

Texas-

The next 5 months seemingly flew by, bringing us to December and the impending new year.

How things can change in 12 months! From this view…

snow

To this view…

Wind Point Park-2365

From using wood for winter heat…

img_2861

To using wood for camp fires…

img_4409

It’s been a year of major changes, all for the better. We’ve visited beautiful places and made some wonderful new friends. It means so much to me to have you along on our journey. Thank you.

May 2018 be your best year yet!

A FAIR-ly Amazing Day

I’m going to warn you right up front, this post is bursting with images. I was able to narrow down the 527 pictures I took to about 50. Give or take. Given the fact Fair Park is 277 acres, I think I did pretty well.

We have been planning our trip to the Texas State Fair for a couple weeks. We knew it wouldn’t be a cheap day, hence all of our recent freebie day trips. Fair Park is on the east side of Dallas and has been home to the Texas State Fair since 1886. You can read about all the history here.

We arrived just after the gates opened and scored a parking spot near the gate (all the empty spaces you see are reserved for the handicapped)…

Texas State Fair-2852

We bought our tickets online, part of a package which included admission and 100 ride/food coupons. We first ran into using coupons at Grapefest. I’m not really a fan of the system, I’d rather pay for my food using cold hard cash.  I think it is easier to plan using money than coupons, but I digress. Anyhow, our first stop was the cattle barn and judging arena…

Texas State Fair-2854

Texas State Fair-2858

Most of the cows were lazing around waiting their turn…

Texas State Fair-2857

Others were being led to grooming stations…

Texas State Fair-2863

Where shampooing and combing awaited them…

Texas State Fair-2859

I’ve never seen a setup quite like this. Now, I’ve been to my share of fairs and always visit the livestock exhibits, but this really takes it to the next level! I was a bit disappointed there weren’t any longhorn cattle in the cow barn, afterall, this is Texas and longhorn are cattle. I wasn’t disappointed for very long! We stepped out of the building, on our way to the swine barn, and found this monster in a pen all his own…

Texas State Fair-2916

Texas State Fair-2910

Yes, you read the sign correctly, someone was brave enough to get a measurement of this behemoths horn width. He was even more magnificent when he stood up…

Texas State Fair-3379

I absolutely loved his coloring.  On to the swine. I love piggies, always have. Of course I love piglets even more…

Texas State Fair-3006

Mama almost looks like she’s smiling. Cattle weren’t the only critters getting groomed for their showings…

Texas State Fair-2879

Texas State Fair-2878

And people were getting in some last minute runway practice…

Texas State Fair-2890

Every time I look at this picture quickly, I think those pink spots on his snout are tusks. But if I wanted to see real tusks, I need not look any further than Borris…

Texas State Fair-2889

Texas State Fair-2883

Our next stop was the horse barn. All of the horses were in bar lined stalls and you couldn’t really get close enough to take any pictures, but I was able to sneak a picture of probably the largest horse I’ve ever seen. This is saying something because I’ve been up close and personal with the Budweiser Clydesdales!  Meet Rossina, she is a Friesian. She is over 17 hands tall…

Texas State Fair-3024

I thought we were through with livestock viewing until we came to the Children’s Health Barnyard. The squeals of delight could be heard long before we entered the building. Kids of all ages were having a grand time. It was more like a petting zoo than a barnyard, with animals from around the world…

Texas State Fair-2962

Texas State Fair-2987

Texas State Fair-2949

Texas State Fair-2998

This zebu was far more interested in getting her neck scratched than eating some handouts…

Texas State Fair-2968

Just outside the exhibit was the little red barn I’ve been hoping to find. Barns here are the same as barns in the northeast. Most of the are pole barns, but this is the type of barn I love…

Texas State Fair-2934

It was getting on towards lunch and the choices were so numerous I couldn’t decide. One thing I learned is Texans will deep-fry ANYTHING…

Texas State Fair-2933

Texas State Fair-2936

Or wrap it in bacon…

Texas State Fair-3009

 

As we were walking past one of the many coupon booths, the reflection in the puddle caught my eye…

Texas State Fair-2931

We still hadn’t decided on lunch, so we walked into the food court. Overwhelmed is an understatement!

Texas State Fair-3373

Unfortunately, we stuck with something simple (but still expensive). We should have…

State Fair

And how do you top off lunch? With an adult beverage of course…

Texas State Fair-3033

So, I’ve covered livestock, cute animals and food. What else could there be? How about the art…

Texas State Fair-3027

Texas State Fair-3043

Texas State Fair-3055

Texas State Fair-3062

And the history…

Texas State Fair-3281

Texas State Fair-3063

Then…there are the shows! As we were walking along the esplanade, we happened to catch the Zu Zu African Acrobats. Their skill, flexibility and agility were astounding…

Texas State Fair-3121

Texas State Fair-3160

Texas State Fair-3215

I kind of covered statues when I mentioned art, but there is one statue that literally can’t be missed…Big Tex himself…

Texas State Fair-3287

If the size of the Wednesday crowds leave you feeling a bit on edge, not to worry! The Dallas PD has you covered…

Texas State Fair-3289

Our final adventure of the day was a ride on the sky wheel…

Texas State Fair-3305

There are 44 car on the wheel. I don’t know how tall it is but the views were stunning!

Texas State Fair-3325

Texas State Fair-3335

I haven’t come close to showing you all the things to do at the fair. We skipped the aquarium and the botanical gardens because, well, let’s face it, I’m not a kid anymore! It isn’t that I wouldn’t have enjoyed them, I’d have loved them, but I was pooped!!!!

We still had about an hour and a half drive back to Waldo and it was time to call it quits. The day had one more surprise in store for us…

img_4040-1

A beautiful sunset to round out our trip.

What is your favorite thing to do at the fair?