It’s Sunday morning, a bit after 7, and I’m snuggled in bed with Jimmy and Cassidy as she munches on Joe’s O’s and watches Moana for the 17th time. It’s freezing! Well, it’s only 51 degrees in here but the furnace is running and warming things up. It’s been getting down into the 40’s at night which is great for sleeping but not so great for waking at 6am when Cassidy wants to eat breakfast.
It’s been a week of firsts which usually means rough sailing, but the challenges are always good and force us to problem-solve.
So, this week’s firsts. . . .
— experiencing mechanical issues with the Airstream
— utilizing roadside assistance
— camping in a Walmart parking lot
— visiting a Walmart (Aidan, Fiona, and Cassidy)
— spotting a tumbleweed (Fiona)
— holding an Arctic Fox (Bernadette)
— using the furnace in our Airstream (it works!)
— meeting other homeschooling families on the road
— beginning a quilt (Fiona)
But let’s back up for a quick re-cap. . . .
Colorado Springs, CO
A belated shout out to my brother, Benny, who turned 30—happy big 3-0, Benny! See you in San Diego in November!
This was a travel day (which I talked about in last week’s post) and after the epic back-in we didn’t do much 🙂
Colorado Springs, CO
Garden of the Gods! What a great day! We headed out early (well—9am: early for us) to visit Garden of the Gods Park. Our campground was just 2 minutes from the park and it was awesome to begin to glimpse the sandstone rock formations as we drove to the Visitors Center.
View from the Garden of the Gods Visitor’s Center looking out to the amazing red rocks we’re about to get up close to.
After chatting with a guide and grabbing a trail map, we headed out to hike some of the Palmer Trail, a dirt and stone trail that circles the park and offers beautiful views of the formations. When it coincided with the Perkins Central Garden Trail, a paved path in the heart of the park, we hopped on to that for close-up views of the formations.
For those of you who’re wondering (Alisa, I’m lookin’ at you! But you probably already know this stuff! In fact, I was wishing you were on our hike with us to explain the rock formations!) the distinctive 300 foot orange rocks used to be sand dunes (about 250 million years ago).
“About 65 million years ago, there was an intense period of mountain building caused by the old Pacific plate slamming into the North American plate. As the Front Range Mountains rose`, the overlying sedimentary rocks were bent upward. Over time, the softer rocks eroded and valleys were created leaving harder rocks standing as the tall ridges in the Park.”
After our morning hikes we headed back home and, after settling Cassidy down for her nap, I took Aidan and Fiona to the campground pool. They had the place to themselves (mostly) and I got to do some poolside yoga (aaaahhh).
There were quite a few kids at this campground and Aidan and Fiona met a brother and sister at the campground park. Before long they were running around playing games and racing off on their scooters. I got to chat with their parents, Valerie and Tom—full-timers who just celebrated a year on the road working, traveling and homeschooling their kids. It’s always great to compare notes and get tips—so nice meeting you, Tom and Valerie! (You can follow their adventure at fouralifetime.com)
Colorado Springs, CO
Happy Birthday, Mom! Your card will be in the mail as soon as we find a mailbox!
Went for a solo walk on the path outside the campground, saw a deer drinking from a puddle in the street (will I ever get to the point when this seems commonplace??). It is very apparent to me on this trip how much I need these walks in nature—love to soak in the scenery and, sometimes, listen to podcasts: The Moth, This American Life, Reply All, Muse and the Catalyst…
Jimmy took Aidan to the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. There’s no charge to tour the base, but you have to pre-register, allow a background check, bring proof of vehicle insurance and allow your picture to be taken before entering the base.
The boys’ thoughts on their tour:
“Was cool to see an actual nuclear warhead (unarmed of course) and a launch bunker that was used for training purposes.”
“Very interesting, but don’t ask for a tour guide; you’ll be stuck there for an hour.”
They both agreed the tour was very cool, but there was much more talking than Aidan likes and no hands-on exhibits. Still, it was nice they could get some father-son time.
That evening Aidan and Fiona met more homeschooled kiddos at the park and had a great time running around and playing. Again, I had the pleasure of chatting with their mom and hearing about their adventures and life on the road—so cool! (thewanderingwilhites.com)
Colorado Springs, CO
Shout out to my brother-in-law, Scotty—happy Bday, Scotty!
Travel day! We got an early start (again, early for us—10am!) and had about 3 1/2 hours to travel to our next campground. Things were going well—it was a beautiful, sunny day and even our 10 minute stop for road construction was wonderful because we got to pause and take in the view.
We were about an hour from our destination and slowly traveling through the town of Alamosa when I noticed a passing motorist motioning for me to roll down my window. The woman leaned out the passenger window and said, “Your trailer is making a really awful noise! Like a bearing’s going or something!” I don’t know how she heard the noise over the sound of her own car which had possibly lost its muffler in the previous intersection, but nevertheless, I pulled over and Jimmy hopped out to check it out. Sure enough, there was this strange grinding noise coming from the trailer wheels.
Jimmy got on the phone with roadside assistance which Airstream had provided for us for one year (thank you, Airstream!) and, when they located a technician, told us he would be out the next morning to take a look at our trailer. (The next morning?! Crap.)
Jimmy found there was a Walmart only a few blocks away (the kids asked, “What’s a Walmart?”) and we limped there with hazards blinking. Found a spot in the back of the lot and Jimmy trekked across the asphalt terrain to ask the manager’s permission to camp overnight—the manager was a teenager and she shrugged and said, “okay,” which, officially, meant “permission granted.”
Home Sweet Home: Walmart, Alamosa, Colorado
It wasn’t long after that that we discovered our refrigerator wasn’t switching to propane. Usually we run the refrigerator on electricity, but when we’re not hooked up, it’s supposed to automatically switch to propane. It didn’t. After turning the fridge off and on several times and reading the manual and online resources (which all said, “time to contact a licensed technician!”) Jimmy headed back into Walmart to buy coolers (well, first one cooler and then a second trip for a second cooler when all our food wouldn’t fit—how can we cram so much into a little refrigerator??) and ice to transfer all our food. We handled that with only a modicum of arguing (“All the food isn’t fitting!” “I could’ve gotten a bigger one!” “You didn’t send me a picture of what size you were getting!” “You wouldn’t have been able to tell by the picture!”). Clearly we were a little anxious about the mechanical issues with our trailer. . . .
After a chilly night, we anxiously awaited the arrival of the technician. When he was due to arrive, I took the kids into Walmart to kill time while, fingers crossed, the repair took place.
It was the first time our kiddos had entered a Walmart (we’re Target loyalists) and they loved it! We spent at least an hour in the Halloween section trying on masks and having fun with the decorations. Then we spent another hour sifting through the $5 movie bin—even grabbed a second cart to empty the bin into (Fiona asked, “Won’t people think we’re weird for doing this?” To which I, of course, replied, “Who cares what people think; we’re looking for Home Alone!”). Well, we never found Home Alone, but we found several other winners and met a few people who stopped to ask if we were buying that entire cartful of movies.
After some time in the toy aisle (of course!) and a perusal of the grocery section for some lunch food (big thanks to Kurt & Suz for sponsoring our Walmart shopping spree! Besides movies we also bought some new wheel chocks—they work great—thanks!!), I realized it’d been 3 hours and we headed back out to our parking lot home to check on the repair. What we discovered was Terry of Terry’s RV Service: a pony-tailed cowboy who knew EVERYTHING about RV’s, including how to fix our mechanical problem AND who’d already repaired our refrigerator, but was having a heckuvva time locating the parts needed for the repair.
For those of you who want the nuts and bolts about the repair, here’s what I’ve got: turns out there was a factory defect in a bolt in the brakes in one of our tires—the bolt had broken off (which was making the grinding noise, rendering the brakes on that tire inoperable, and, potentially, could’ve caused some major damage). Terry contacted Dexter, the manufacturer, directly and they confirmed they would completely cover the repair. Terry said he had a lead on some parts he was going to pick up Friday night and he’d be back Saturday to do the repair. Sweet potatoes! (But that also meant another night in the parking lot…)
We ate lunch on the curb near our trailer and Fiona spotted an honest-to-goodness tumbleweed actually tumbling down the street—she and Aidan were thrilled!
Parking Lot Picnic Lunch
The kids watched movies on Aidan’s computer and did a fine job of entertaining themselves in a Walmart parking lot, I must say.
Night 2 at the Walmart Parking Lot
South Fork, CO
I took the kiddos into Walmart for round 2 of exploration (“This place is awesome!”—Aidan & Fiona) and at one point I ended up cradling an Arctic Fox in my arms (?!?!). Yeah, I noticed this guy standing at the end of the Halloween aisle holding an interesting looking dog with a long bushy tail. Not being one to gravitate toward animals, naturally I turned my attention back to the giant baby masks until, a few minutes later, a woman walked by and said with awed excitement, “That guy’s got an Arctic Fox over there!”
Walmart Woman: “Yeah! It’s so cool!”
Walmart Woman: “Yeah! I didn’t want you to miss it!”
Okay, even I had to admit that that WAS pretty cool, so I walked over to the guy and said, “So, I hear there’s a real fox over here!”
And he said, “Well, I have been working out.”
Yeah, I walked right into that one. We began chatting about the fox (the animal, not the guy) and then, he just plopped the fox right into my arms. So there I was, holding an Arctic Fox in a Walmart in Alamosa, Colorado. Pretty cool.
More Walmart fun…
Anyway, after returning the fox, we headed back outside to see how the repair was going and found out that the parts Terry had driven 2 hours to pick up were, he discovered when he arrived, not the correct parts after all. Nooooooooo! But! He could do a temporary fix so we could at least drive to our next campground. Yeeeeeeeesss! So, he did and we did—thank you, Terry! We were grateful to Walmart for being there when we needed it, but happy to get back to a campground.
And when we arrived in South Fork Campground it was aaaaaaahhhhhh! Big trees and blue skies and the smell of campfires—literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air.
Our campsite was only four away from the Rio Grande (what?? Yeah, still sounds amazing to me, too!) and we went down to explore—beautiful, of course.
Our kids were the only ones in this small, private campground, but that didn’t stop them from having a lot of fun—there was a little playground at one end with a tether ball (this trip has been an education in old-school playground equipment), some swings and one of those small, plastic playhouses.
Well, somehow they landed on playing “Little House on the Prairie” and their “farm” became more detailed over the next 3 days as they spent hours tending it, giving themselves Prairie names and, in general, playing just beautifully together.
South Fork, CO
Which brings us back to today. We’d planned to head to the sand dunes today, but it ended up being a rainy day so we stayed put.
The kids had more “Little House on the Prairie” fun at the playground, Jimmy worked, I did some laundry and helped Fiona who is working on her very first quilt!
Happy trails to you all! Thanks for tagging along!