Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our Crazy Colorado Trip, Part 2

Once we got our tires replaced and had a little fun at the Cadillac Ranch, we headed off into the great blue yonder yet again. The first several hours were sort of boring because, well, it looked like this…

…for hours.

We played games, we switched off kids, we listened to Car Talk and Lake Woebegone podcasts. We are really klassy travelers.

Finally we started to see this out the window…

I must have taken 600 photos of this! We went a different way this time, going up into Albuquerque and then north to Durango. We saw a storm come through, it was just truly amazing.

When we left Tx, this was the temp.

When we were just barely north of Albuquerque, this was the temp.

It was glorious!

However, now that we were inching up on two full days of travel we were all getting a wee bit tired of being in the car. One can only listen to so much Lake Woebegone before even Garrison Keillor's voice becomes grating.

We were close to our next spot. It was a little known state park in Northern New Mexico I’d found online. WE were on track to pull in and get set up before dark and then have some dinner and enjoy the beautiful view the park promised in the photos online.

We found the park. We pull in and Dan comments on the fact that the bikes that were on a rack attached to our bumper seemed to be listing. We’d just gone over a gravel road that was not exactly smooth and they’d bounced around quite a bit. So before we go find the park host to get checked in and find our spots we check it out.


Turns out, the weld that Dave’s friend did to attach the bike rack held very nicely. The bumper however, did not. The bumper was peeling off the camper! Sheesh! What next?

Dave, Dan and Gunnar got out the straps and strapped down the bumper so it would not come off the camper (See? Klassy!) and we took the bikes off and stuck them in the back of Dan’s truck. (Noticing a theme here? If we’d not been traveling up there with Dan and Ruth, we’d probably still be stuck in New Mexico!).

Once we got the bumper situation temporarily fixed we went in search of the park host. The Park Host was nowhere to be found. We did find out, however that this was not the section of the park we were after. Not to big of a deal though, we were in the right State Park, right?


We drove all over that stupid state park, washboard dirt roads and all with our bumper attached by straps. We drove to the marina, over the dam (That was scary!) back to the highway, around the lake, back over some dirt roads, through a creek. Yeah, in the dark, towing campers, we forded a creek! It was getting darker and darker and we were getting nowhere fast. We got out of the cars several times and conferred. Dan and Ruth had a GPS and at one point in our search for the park, the GPS had us in the lake! It was at this point we knew we were in trouble.

No one was going to say it, but we really needed a plan B. We drove around some more, coming up on a dark and scary looking, very narrow bridge. No…wait…it’s not a bridge. It’s the DAM! We drove around for three hours on back roads, dirt roads, over creeks, around a lake and ended up right back where we were!!!! I’m sure it has an official name, but we’ve taken to calling it The Damn Dam. It seemed fitting.

My Sister in Law, Ruth, who was about as sick of the car as I was, suggest we go back to an RV park we’d seen on one of the many roads we’d been on that night. We all heartily agreed.

We made our way to the RV Park, plugged in, fed the kids and then went to bed. What a day! We were in the car for 16 hours!!! We started the day in Amarillo at a tire shop and ended it driving aimlessly around a lake for 3 hours. Oh, My Heavens! What’s next???

On a happy note, all was not lost. We woke up to an amazing view we’d not been able to see in the dark the night before. We had a leisurely breakfast in the cool New Mexico morning overlooking an amazing view.

This was what we drove into. A dumpy little RV Park...

I had woken up early and stepped out of the camper just in time to see the canyon wall across the river lit up by the sun. It was the most brilliant orange I’d ever seen. It was such a nice treat to wake up to see a little bit of God’s majesty in a yucky ol’ RV park. It was a little gift we’d not expected.

Tomorrow, we’d head to our destination in Colorado, with (Please God!) no more catastrophes!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Crazy Colorado Trip, Part 1

Family vacations are always something to write about with this family. I don’t know why, but they never seem to go off without a hitch. There are hitches. Many hitches.

We left Dallas happily enough. We were leaving the 100 degree temps to go to the mountains where the temps don’t get above 80, what’s not to like?

Our plan was to get from Dallas to Amarillo on the first day, we were not leaving Dallas till 1pm, but it’s only a 6 hour drive so that should work.

We met up with Dave's brother Dan outside Ft. Worth. We were off! Two giant trucks pulling two giant RV’s heading for the mountains. Life was grand, the skies were blue, and all was well with the world…until the first blow out.

We suddenly hear Dan hollering over the walkie. “Pull over…something…tire…bad…” it was hard to hear.

So over we pulled.


We got it taken care of and only lost about a half hour of travel time, there was much laughter about how this seems to happen on every trip, but still spirits were up, we were heading to the mountains after-all!

We hopped back in the car and headed out again. We’d gone about 4 hours so far but we were in the middle of W Texas and it all starts to look the same out the window after a while.

Within about 10 minutes…

Yes, again.

This one was trickier. The blow out was more severe, causing some damage to the underside of the camper, and our spare was already in use. We were pleased to find that Dan’s RV spare fit our RV, so after much taking off and putting on of tires in the HEAT of W Texas, we were on the road again. We were somewhat less jovial now. It was readily apparent to Dave and I that we needed to replace all the tires. We’d had one blowout on a previous trip and Dan mentioned that usually when one goes they all go. We decided not to replace them all though because they were not that old and seemed to have much tread left on them. It was a strategic and informed decision. And also the wrong one.

We began making phone calls to find a tire place in Amarillo that would still be open when we got there. We also began praying that no more tires would go out on either camper seeing as we had no more spares and were here in the middle of Nowhere Texas...

…for the next several hours.

The last few hours to Amarillo was a bit more somber. It would be really bad if another tire went. We were praying against that. Finally, about 2 hours later than we expected, we pulled in to the RV park. We were unable to find a tire place open at 9pm, but we were told if we got there when the place opened, they’d help up first.

I started my first official day of vacation getting up at 7am, sans coffee, to take our house-on-wheels to the shop. This did not bode well.

We got to the tire place, unhooked our house and left it there. We drove around Amarillo at 7 am aimless for a while. Well, not really aimless. Dave was looking for a car wash and I was looking for any place that sold coffee. We found the car wash and then, mercifully, Dave took me through the drive through at Whataburger for coffee. I think, maybe, possibly, my attitude may have been suffering.

We headed back to the tire place to find our house had been repaired. We tried not to think about the fact that we could have had our friendly neighborhood mechanic and friend, Carlin, replace them for half the price if we’d done it before we left. As we all know, hindsight is 20/20.

After we got the wheels on our house-on-wheels back on we called Dan to tell them we were ready to go. I tried really hard not to think about the fact that they had been enjoying a nice leisurely morning, undoubtedly with lots of coffee, while we ran around Amarillo.

We met up with Dan and family, at the
Cadillac Ranch, just down the road from the RV park we’d stayed at.

We did our first official act of tourism that day.

The rest of the drive to CO went off without a hitch. Gunnar even got to drive the rig for a while into barren flats of W Texas.

Sadly that was not the end of the catastrophes for us…

Go Here for Part 2...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Tale of Three RV's

I finally have my beloved computer back. She has more memory and fewer glitches. I have missed her terribly!

After I get caught up on the five million things I have not been able to do without my computer, I'll tell you the stories. The stories of two blowouts, a near collision, a dead battery and spewing oil. Oh, and mountains. How I miss the mountains!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I need a post vacation vacation.

We returned from the Mountains on Sunday. I have been buried under the laundry pile since.

It was everything you'd expect from a Hilltop Family vacation. We had two blowouts on the RV 10 minutes apart, the battery in our Excursion died, the bike rack ripped off the bumper of the RV though not while on the highway thank goodness, we got so lost looking for our of the campsites that we drove around for 3 hours until the GPS had us in the lake, and we gave up and went to an RV park, and last but not least, we developed an oil leak that caused my Excursion to spew a fine mist of oil all over the front and sides of the pull behind RV all the way home.

And finally, to add insult to injury, we left CO and it was 60 degrees. When we arrived in Dallas it was 107.

But somehow, we still managed to have a wonderful time!

My computer is in the shop, because we've not spent enough money on repairs so you'll have to wait a bit for the full story and photos.