Well after 63 days straight on the road we decided to compile a short list of what we have like, love and what we can do without! To make it a little more personal, we decided to capture our lists by each member of our family. Also for those wanting to embark on this kind of adventure we also made a list of RV'ing must haves based on our own experiences thus far. Here goes!
What We Like, Love & Can Do Without
RV'ing Must Haves!
Today we decided to take the kids on a lengthier hike than normal since the last few days all the kids have been battling some sort of stomach virus (urghh). As much as we thought we were distancing ourselves from these viruses we managed to pick one up from at our last stop in the Tucson KOA as there were tons of kids and families that we met and hung out with. The kids battled through and are better now, but we were getting tired of hanging inside the RV and needed to finally stretch our legs and explore the outdoors! Lucky enough, we were blessed with an absolutely amazing campground as we are staying at the Catalina State Park just north of Tucson, Arizona. The park is situated at the base of the Catalina Mountains and there are tons of amazing trails and sights to see. Highly recommended for anyone visiting or passing through the Tucson area. Campsites have the usual amenities, good privacy and an amazing view of the mountains. There are wolves howling nightly and during the day there are tons of ground hogs/prairie dogs that are at each and every campsite just hanging out (kids love them)! We took the 2 mile Canyon Loop trail which took us up closer to the mountains, meandering through tons of desert vegetation and hundreds of beautiful saguaro cacti which only exist here in Arizona. Who knew? You know the massive looking cactus that has arms. They are amazing to see up close. Thankfully, the hike also took us to a beautiful river (tiny stream actually) where the kids could splash and cool off from the 32C heat. We also managed to bump into tons of lizards, an iguana and we heard the rattle of a diamondback rattlesnake. Needless to say we didn't stick around to say hi to it. Surprisingly, apart from some complaining early on on the hike, all the kids made the entire journey in good spirits. Madden had to be carried a couple of times, but given he's only two we think he did amazing for such a long walk. We're doing our best to get these kids used to longer and longer hikes so we can continue to explore these amazing places we stumble upon during our travels! Here's a few pics we managed to capture along our hike today. Such a beautiful place!
First off, I should say that I am not fully recovered from the desert plague that I caught a little over a week ago. Thanks for the kind wishes from everyone, its nothing that a little emergency room hospital and intravenous can't resolve. Seriously though, Wendy is an angel for taking care of me and the kids all while living in the RV and maintaining her sanity! After getting out of the hospital we slowly made our way to New Mexico where we were blessed with just amazing sights everywhere! We started our visit in Carlsbad where we visited the famous Carlsbad Caverns. To be honest, I'm not much of a "caver" or "spelunker" (look it up if you don't know :)) and I wasn't sure what to think about this sight, but WOW this place was simply amazing!! It started with the drive which brought us to this beautiful serpentine road through the mountains all the way to the top where the caverns were. We opted to do the 'easy' cave tour given Madden is only 2. The easy tour take you down 75 stories into the cave where you get to walk through over 7 football field lengths of caves and various stalactites and stalagmites. Just a beautiful experience and the kids simply loved it! Highly recommend this place if you're planning on coming to New Mexico.
After a few days in Carlsbad, we traveled further west to Oliver Lee State Park near a town called Alamogordo, New Mexico. The drive from Carlsbad to Alamogordo was incredible! We went from pure desert with roads of nothingness, to mountain views with snow everywhere back to an arid hot desert in just over 2 hours. It was surreal and beautiful! We finally arrived at Oliver Lee State Park which was one of the most picturesque state parks we've visited since we've been on this journey as it has a beautiful mountainous backdrop and the campsites are all at the base with beautiful views in every direction. We were lucky to meet two other amazing families that were on a similar journey as us and each with kids in tow as well! The kids made such strong bonds so quickly and the adults enjoyed sharing stories of all of our various journeys across this vast land. In the morning, we left with one of the families for an adventure like no other. We visited the White Sands of New Mexico...one of America's National Monuments (just like Carlsbad Caverns). The White Sands truly are a surreal experience to witness. Miles and miles of powdery white sand dunes as far as the eye can see! Not only that, but the dunes are virtually empty and they were all ours to discover on our own. We grabbed a few toboggan's and went sliding down the dunes. The kids got their tobogganing fix without the -20C and 3 feet of snow :). The only slight downside was that there were signs saying that the dunes are subject to closure due to US Army missile testing. Lucky for us, the military opted not to do any testing while we were there which suited us just fine!
Finally, on our last stop in New Mexico we opted to stay at Silver City (thank you our RV buddies Craig and Kimberly for the recommendation) so we could take in yet another US National Monument called the Gila Cliff Dwellings in the mountains north of Silver City. Again, I really didn't know what to expect when visiting this place, but it was absolutely incredible! The drive to the mountains was about 1.5hr from Silver City and the road was a windy, hilly, mountainous trek up about 8000 feet to the park ranger office. Once we were there, we had to hike about a mile to the cliff dwellings. I was shocked that the kids made this hike with no problem despite having some serious inclines especially for Madden! Once we got to the cliff dwellings it was well worth it! Caves and homes built within them that have been preserved for over 700 years!! This place was amazing with just spectacular views of the cliffs and river below. The kids and us had an absolutely amazing time hiking, learning about our North American First Nation culture and just spending time as a family. Overall it was a really full week, but one that we will remember for a very long time!! After Silver City, we headed to Arizona which is where I'm writing to you from at the moment. Until next time...travel well,
Holy cow what a whirlwind week we have had! So We arrive at Balmorhea State Park in western Texas March 3 and are so looking forward to hanging out in the natural spring fed pool and swim with the fishes for our 3 days there. We arrive, set up camp do a quick and cool late night dip then off to bed. Boom does Alex not contract some sort of desert plague that literally leaves him bedridden and unable to eat or move for 4 days straight!! I thought maybe his leg wound from the shin buster accident was infected, but no it seemed fine. A stomach flu? But how and where in the middle of a desert would he get that and no one else got sick sharing a 200 sqft trailer?
I got panicked by day 4, loaded up the kiddos and drove to Fort Stockton 1 hour away (doing 85mph in the truck oh ya Texas speed limits were handy here) to the nearest hospital. Well we thought OHIP was bad and I can say we waited just as long or longer for this visit :( 8 hours in ER he got the all clear with two bags of IV fluids to combat his severe dehydration (drink more water in the desert!), pain medication for the migraine he couldn't shake off (I'd rather push out another 10lb baby then suffer from a 4 day migraine) and antibiotics for an ear infection (probably from capsizing in the South Llanno River last week...see our canoe conundrum post).
While he was locked in ER and I was not allowed in with kids I took them outside to eat vending machine junk (the only food for miles) and let them run around in the hospitals 'garden'. Does Madden (of course!) not pick up a giant spider by it's long ass black legs and start poking it. A gardener in his thick Texas accent comes around to say "Hey now boy that there is a black widow! Yo don't want to mess around with her she's venomous!" OMFG! Cue me screaming and smacking that sucka outta baby's clutch! Excitement right? geez!So happy to report after all that week long drama Alex is finally better (8/10 and 10 lbs lighter but I'll take it!!!!)
It is hard seeing a loved one sick and to single parent it in the middle of a desert with no support, stores, people or wifi was a bit of a challenge and took its' toll on me (was not the happiest mama for a few days), but I am just so damn happy Alex is finally up and at it again! Praise Jesus!!
So I'm so sorry Balmorhea State park we did not get to enjoy your natural spring fed swimming pool and swim with the turtles and fishes as planned, but thank you for the road runners (remember the cartoon? Meep Meep) running around and providing the best entertainment for the boys who would chase you all day long. Free outdoor entertainment rules! (would love a road runner pet for Madden) And to the amazing stars lighting up the sky at night as I slept on the pull out couch (not bad friends/fam tried it out for ya'll) thank you for giving me comfort and seeing the beauty when I was run down, tired and worried for Alex. The coyotes again at night would howl away and the kids slept soundly as the desert is hot as shit during the day, but very cool at night and who is with me on the best sleeps come with open windows and fresh cool air blowing on them? Riiight! Maybe next trip we will check out your pool, but for now I am glad to have moved on from Balmorhea State Park and on to New Mexico!! Caves, aliens, missile testing and sand dunes oh my! Stay tuned..........