Nearing home

250 miles from home and we ran into a light ice storm. Minus 2 forecast for Sunday. Welcome home to us..

It’s a long drive today which provides time to think. Mel and I have reconnected in a way I didn’t expect. 24×7. 63 days. Thought it would be tough on us with so much togetherness. But we really enjoyed each other’s company. We talked so much more than at home. And we did nearly everything together. It was really nice.

It does appear that we have different opinions on future travels. Mel prefers to get somewhere warm with a beach and stay. I prefer to see lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife in new and exciting places. We made a new year’s resolution to try to camp at least once per month. (His idea). So hopefully we can fit in both.

We really enjoy campfires which requires evening temps above what we had in New Mexico. And we easily got into a rhythm of cooking, cleaning and caring for Winston.

We like the smallness of our RV. We’re in the minority in Florida but similar to more rigs out west. I think we’ll downsize when the grandkids outgrow camping with us. Mel and I aren’t very materialistic. We brought little and it worked out fine. We’ve made a list of things not to bring next time even though we have spaces in the RV that are empty.

We both had great fun on our first voyage together. Two months went quickly. Anxious for our next adventure out soon!

Gulf shores alabama

Our dreams of exploring New Mexico were postponed for another year. Nights were in the mid 20s and forecasts predicted similar lows through February. We considered meeting a friend in Mesa to watch the Cubs in a spring training game, but record lows hit Arizona as well.

The only part of the country that forecasted better weather was the southeast so we turned back east and stayed in Gulf State park.

A huge park with lots of RVs but spaced reasonably. We took full advantage of twenty five miles of bike paths and hiked twice a day with Winston. Some of the five days were windy, but overall the weather was sunny and warm and we walked every day on the beach.

This park has a beautiful Olympic size swimming pool, tennis courts, three large lakes and walkways crossing the highway to the beach. We met a lot of friendly people and ate out more than usual, knowing our trip was coming to an end. I would’ve liked to have stayed on the road another month, but Mel is ready to head home, so we’ll head out Wednesday after stopping for an overnight visit with Tia.

Traveling with a 60 pound dog in a RV

Initially Winston was reluctant to even get into the RV. As we traveled he stayed in his bed. But he got comfortable after a few days and now sits or lays between us in the cab as we drive. He is fearful by nature having a rough start in life.

We didn’t realize how much he would shed as we moved in and out of warm climates. Good thing we brought a small vacuum which we use every day.

He loves being outside. We brought both an inside and outside dog bed. Keeps him off the dirt which helps keep our living quarters clean. We hike at least twice a day with him which makes him happy and gives him solid sleep.

I think about how much he sleeps at home and how little he sleeps on the road. But by 8 PM, he is sound asleep here for the night.

We are restricted by having a dog with us. Particularly one that is fearful and reactive. Periodically we leave him in the locked RV with A/C on, but generally he is with us wherever we go. We suspect we’ll be able to travel differently someday when he’s gone, but for now he brings us so much joy, he’s worth the adjustments we make for him.

Having a fairly large dog certainly minimizes living space. Winston doesn’t seem to notice and spreads out easily.

Food treasures

We’ve had some exceptionally good local food during our road trip.

At a laundramat in Carlsbad New Mexico we were approached by a mission member selling freshly baked banana bread. Feel good donation for an yummy sweet.

Homemade gorditas at a gas station in a little town near Marathon Texas. Young pretty Hispanic girl cooking behind a counter we would have missed had an information center not recommended it. Two gorditas for $5 with rice and beans hit the spot.

Peach and apple yeast bread at the Oasis cafe in Marathon Texas. So good warmed.

Two Beignets at Cafe DuMonde in New Orleans when we passed through.

Fresh mangoes and avocados at a Venice Beach Florida farmers market were exceptionally good.

Homemade spinach and cheese ravioli at a Siesta Key farmers market was delicious.

And I can’t call this good. But Mel sure does. He had fried oysters at Sea and Suds one of his favorite beach places in Gulf Shores. And we both enjoyed hush puppies a lot.

Galveston Texas

Galveston state park is located on the far west end of the island. Technically we’re in Jamaica beach, the only section of the island not within the city of Galveston.

Galveston is an interesting city. The beach area is a typical tourist area with chain hotels, chain restaurants and crowds. But a historical section has many beautiful old buildings. The port serves cruise ships, fishing boats and cargo ships. Seems like a progressive city with beautiful parks including dog parks and a recycle center that accepted numerous items including electronics.

Our campsite was very close to the beach. In fact we could see the waves out the RV window. Most days were chilly with high winds or rain or both. But it was one of those times when we both were content to sit and be still. Mel put a tarp on one side of our picnic area that blocked the wind so we could sit outside most of the day. Lots of walks on the beach with Winston with rain coats or sweatshirts.

Found some seashells we hadn’t seen before. And warnings about venomous snakes which would apply in warmer months. Nearby houses were pretty quaint. Painted bright colors and on high stilts. Those on the beach rent for $300+ per night in the summer. Galveston beach is pretty narrow and the ocean is brown at least this time of year. It hosts the largest Mardi Gras celebration in Texas spanning two weekends. Mel is anxious to get to warmer weather so we’ll miss it this year but saw parade floats and numerous house decorations.

We had a great dinner one night at Waterman’s restaurant. Another indication of how busy this area gets over spring break and summer because they had seating for many guests. A great meal. Mel had fried catfish, fried oysters and fried shrimp (yes we are in the south where everything is fried) and I had pasta with scallops (I stretched my vegetarian rules one time). We had a crazy experience though with a table of six behind us. About our age. One man got furious with another and started yelling and hit him numerous times. I got up and notified a waitress. Half their table left soon after. Cousins from Kansas. Geez!

Sunsets were incredible. I couldn’t adequately catch the beauty, but best sunsets yet.

On to Gulf Shores where the weather is warm and dry with a stop near Hammond Louisiana on the way.

Ah…a bath

We’ve decided to head east to avoid the cold weather in New Mexico. Destination…Galveston Texas where it’s a bit warmer. Seems to be an unusually cold winter around the country so we’ll accept highs of 60s instead of the 80s we were hoping for. Lows are more like 50 there rather than mid 20s New Mexico hsd.

I’ve loved baths for as long as I can remember. Soaking in water so hot it makes my skin red. But…RVs don’t have bathtubs. Luckily for me, we were unable to find a campsite because it is a holiday weekend. We tried multiple state parks and all are full. We tried a KOA, which we don’t like because sites are so cramped, and they wanted $55. So we stayed at a Best Western instead. With a bath tub. I’ve never enjoyed or took a longer bath. Simply wonderful.

Winston however wasnt particularly comfortable with people noises and woke me a number of times during the night. But still worth the hot soak. Maybe this will become a tradition???

White Sands National Monument and Oliver Lee Memorial state park

Camped three nights at Oliver Lee. Beautiful scenery in both directions since the campsite sat up high over the valley near Alamogordo New Mexico. We hiked easier hikes since we all felt the elevation of 4363 feet. Sunset and sunrise were both beautiful most days.

White Sands has huge white gypsum sand dunes. This time of year it’s like finely ground sand, but in summer there are fields of crystals that will be worn down by the wind the next winter. Only 10,000 years old.

White Sands is dog friendly so we took Winston on most dune climbs until the sun against the stark white dunes started to bother his eyes. He was blinking feverishly.

Kids used saucers to slide down dunes and i took off my shoes to feel the cool “sand” on my feet. Mel and Winston wandered into a field until we read we shouldn’t leave the trail in this area, but not too soon to scare up a jack rabbit.

They’ve discovered prehistoric footprints as the sand has shifted. Mammoths, American lions and camels. We didn’t know the last two were on this continent at one point. The footprints are eventually covered back up with the wind moving the sand.

Oliver Lee campsites were nicely spaced with lots of privacy. We spent our second day just enjoying the sun, reading. relaxing and taking short hikes then watching the sunset.