Monday, December 31

Home from the Holidays

We're back in the bus in Colorado, and damn does it feel good to be home. Joey even said last night that he's still cool with the bus, he's not totally over it yet. That was even said while we still had no water because we had a frozen line somewhere. It finally thawed out this afternoon while he was filling up our propane tank, once again more quickly then we expected. I thought I heard another leak inside the bathroom wall so I shut the water off, told him about it and he promptly cut into the wall when he got back, only to discover once he turned the water on and checked it himself that it was at the valve, not in the wall. My bad. At least it was the same wall as before. The valve that won't close is a small water spiget right above the toilet that I've always hated anyway, so I convinced him to just cap it, and while he was back at True Value getting a cap, he got us a new shower head. A real shower head, not one of those pansy ass RV types. Everything is back in perfect working order, and I believe we're all set for the rest of the winter. Joey's going to go back to work until spring or until he gets his newest toy, a huge boat. One that we can live aboard for months at a time. In the meantime I WILL complete my bus remodel. I will. And hopefully get in lots and lots of skiing.

I can't believe another year has come and gone! It seems like just last month that we moved into the bus, and we're going on two years already. There's no end in sight for bus life, although there may be a new bus in our sights. Here's to a great 2008!

Saturday, December 15

Correct way to handle yourself...

In an accident like this:
diesel in the ditch

Is to always show your good side:
diesel in the ditch

Thursday, December 13

Kinda like a Snowbird

Joey said something to me that made my heart sink: I'm getting tired of the bus.

We got back to the bus (after our Arizona trip) late at night, a cold night, to discover a broken water pipe and an empty propane tank. That meant no water, or fuel to cook or heat with, but we did have electric heaters so we didn't freeze. The broken pipe was in the shower so we had to cut into the bedroom wall behind it dreading what we might find, but luckily it was an easy fix. These are typical things that happen when you live in an old bus, but since I'm not the one to fix any of these issues they tend to be no big deal to me. To Joey, though, they're coming one after the other. His main focus is keeping us and the bus from freezing, and he can't bear the thought that something might happen while he's working and I'd be left to deal with it. So we decided to leave the bus for a month, or three, and come down to Texas, and my folks.

We left Friday morning, the morning the storms hit and ended up being in it the entire way down. We weren't out of freezing rain until Wichita Falls, TX! (And today is the first day we've seen the sun.) Going over the Rockies was quite an adventure. I followed Joey, and for once was thankful he's such a slow driver. We were in our four wheel drives going slower than some idiots in their Crossfires and convertibles, and eventually we'd see them in the ditches, either being towed out or waiting for a tow. Near the Summit a semi with trailer, directly in front of Joey, was sliding all across the highway, and we didn't know whether to stay behind him or pass him. We eventually passed him but I feared for our lives that he'd end up behind me on a downhill slope.

We only made it as far as Pueblo before calling it a night, and enjoying the indoor heated pool and jacuzzi. We also found out that we made it through just before they closed the Interstates.

The next days travel was grey, grey, grey, but luckily no ice on the roads, just the trees and windshields. I had to pull over often to clear the ice off my guaranteed no ice buildup for life wipers. Amazingly though, this was the most stress free road trip I think we've ever been on. Not one time did the kids fight, tease or look at each other wrong. It was so peaceful, and Joey got to listen to his punk rock channel full blast, for two days straight. Well almost two full days, Jewel rode with him the last eight hours or so not taking her eyes off the navigation system, and making him turn down the stereo. Aren't we supposed to be the ones saying "turn down that music!"? She does like her some Deadbolt and Bastard Fairies, though. Those we can crank. Speaking of Bastard Fairies, check out their site and download their album for FREE. And if you like them, be sure to tell a friend. They're giving it away free in hopes that you'll tell a friend, and they'll tell a friend. Plus, it's a really great album! Thanks to Schuyler for tuning me into them.

Back to my boring travel story: We came to Texas to escape the cold and now find ourselves in weather just as cold and grey. When I check the average temps for where we are in CO vs. here in TX, they're not much different. We've also figured out that Joey just needed a break from the bus, he's not totally over it yet, and since we left the wood skirting from last year down here, we can take it back up with us and Joey won't worry about anything freezing looks like we'll be going back after Christmas. Music to my ears.

Monday, November 26

San Juan Skyway, Part II

We're back on the San Juan Skyway and this time there's a noticeable snowed!
San Juan Skyway 2

It's a lot different on this side of the mountain, much more like you'd expect from a place that calls themselves the "Switzerland of America". The views are absolutely amazing, each one better than the next. This is also a point where I'm wishing I had a better camera. My pictures do nothing to convey how beautiful it really was up there, and I was just getting more and more frustrated after each shot. At times I'd give up, then I couldn't contain myself anymore and would just shoot right thru the windshield. Then a rock came at me and lodged right in the middle of my view!

San Juan Skyway 2

San Juan Skyway 2

San Juan Skyway 2
It just hit me why they call them the Rocky Mountains.

We're so high now, we're getting to the top of the tree line.
San Juan Skyway 2

We took a little side trip into Telluride so Joey could show us where he once went to a high society Christmas party (as if that'd EVER happen now) and to see The Castle on the Hill. Can you see it?
San Juan Skyway 2

Look closer, above the frozen waterfall.
San Juan Skyway 2
How'd ya like to live there?

The kids were regular troopers on this road trip, and not one time did I hear a complaint about my picture taking or have my camera hidden. That's what I call a successful trip.

For a slide show of the complete set click here.

Sunday, November 25

Mogollon Rim Revisited

Mogollon Rim again
We took the Payson route home instead of the Salt River Canyon which is always my favorite, but after driving up to the Mogollon Rim I realized I'd forgotten how pretty is up here. Joey and I used to come up here a lot before leaving Arizona to live on the road. We stopped at the Woods Canyon Lake turnoff to step on the rim and take in the huge views. It's easy to forget these mountains exist when you're so used to relating desert to Arizona. Our dates before we were married consisted of day trips hiking around the lake, tent camping in the woods, catching crawdads in Chevlen Crossing, cooking them in beer, and hiking down Clear Creek Canyon, having to carry our lazy fifty pound bulldog back up. We continued going after we were married and had Jake. I remember Jake swinging in his infant swing, covered with mosquito netting, with a bee inside. Our nephew even totaled our forerunner up here on a family camping trip. Dang, I can't believe I forgot how much we used to come up here. Now I feel bad we didn't get to camp with JimRo, and I didn't have the heart to tell them the weather was beautiful up here.

Saturday, November 24

Four Peaks Wilderness Area

Before we left for Arizona Jim and Rosie invited us to go camping with them after Thanksgiving up on the Mogollon Rim. JimRo had been planning it for weeks, so when we woke up on Friday morning to twenty degree temps up in the mountains, it was a huge disappointment for them when they realized it would just be too cold for everyone to enjoy themselves, and sadly had to cancel after packing up their pop up and after all the hard work Rosie did preparing for the weekend. I hid my excitement of the cancelation well.

Four Peaks
Eventually Jim suggested going out to the Four Peaks Wilderness Area for the day, so they and their dogs could get out of the city and run wild.

We followed them for miles, and miles, and miles down dirt roads, passing groups of weekenders out for four wheel fun.
Following JimRo to Four Peaks Wilderness Area

Jim found us a great spot off the road, in a wash, along a rock canyon wall. We immediatley head up the wash for a short hike and found a fun spot to hang out for a while while letting the kids explore to their hearts content.
Our wash for the day
We also marveled at the saguaro growing right out of the rock.
Saguaro Cactus growing out of the rocks

Eventually Ro and I got hungry so we walked back to the trucks and hauled the heavy cooler back to the guys, just to have them say they were heading back to the trucks to start a fire and find shade beside the canyon wall. Joey carried it back on his shoulder as if it only weighed five pounds. Pfff.

Only Jewel and Tristan stayed with us.
Tristan & Jewel
But no matter how much Jewel likes Tristan, she didn't like him stealing her spotlight.
Four Peaks (19)

The boys came around when they got hungry and thirsty, or when they wanted to show off their climbing and jumping skills.
Four Peaks (32)
They even made up their own Kid Nation, with cabins and stores and a town counsel, all out of the natural landscapes the huge boulders provided. It was pretty cool, and I'm sure Jake was the President.

We stayed way into the night, simply enjoying eachother's company.....and wishing we would have brought our camping gear.

Friday, November 23


We got to Jim and Rosie's the night before Thanksgiving, and naturally, had a blast reconnecting and catching up. Jim's girls weren't able to make it for the holiday so they were able to put us up, or put up with us, for the few days we were in town. While I was sad to not see the girls, I was happy to be staying here. Rosie and I have the best time picking on the brothers, and the kids can never get enough of each other.

Before going to Jackie's for Thanksgiving Dinner the kids had to continue their tradition of jumping in the freezing cold pool. Last time it took ten dollars to get them to jump in, this time we couldn't have paid them ten dollars not to.
JimRo's house

Dinner was great, but I have to admit I was a horrible guest. I dropped the stuff I brought off at the door for everyone else to deal with while I made the social round. Then I was one of the last ones left eating so by the time I was done, everything was all cleaned up and put away. I did remark how nice it was to have everything just put itself away though, so I should get some points for that.

Swinging on Thanksgiving

With the nice weather we spent 99.9% of the time outside, mostly laughing...non-stop. Occasionally I stopped for pictures, but they're mostly of family and I just don't feel right posting them. Besides the fact they were mostly in their underwear. The kids just cannot resist an icy cold pool! All the kids, I think eight, ended up in the pool, whether their parents allowed them to or not. We even had a few adult (if you wanna' say that) men that ended up in their underwear in the pool. Not my typical thanksgiving, and I'm thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 21

Four Corners

After a yummy continental breakfast we were back on the road.
Four Corners (26)

Within minutes we were already in different terrain. While this land is absolutely stunning, it's almost impossible to enjoy physically. It's on the Rez, Navajo Indian Reservation to be exact. The highways are lined with fences in order to keep us out, and their land pristine. It's working.
Four Corners (21)
I just wish I could get a good picture without fence posts.
Four Corners

We have to stop at the Four Corners Monument, even though the last time we were there we were disappointed. We must have forgot. This is the monument, people.
Four Corners National Monument

This is me and my spawn on the monument as taken by two boyfriends after I took their picture.
Four Corners (1)

Their picture included the actual monument.

The best part is the Indian Fry Bread, topped with honey. That's why we really stopped. Sightseeing over, time to get to Mesa. Get outta the way, sheep.
Four Corners (11)

Tuesday, November 20

San Juan Skyway, Part I

For our trip to Arizona we decided to go against Microsoft's quickest route and opted for our own route, going through Durango and the Four Corners area. Would you like to come along?
San Juan Skyway
We just went through Grand Mesa, again finding ourselves on some typical flat ranching land, but I can hear the San Juan Mountains calling our name already. First I have to say, Let's be thankful Joey's doing the driving.
San Juan Skyway *Watch the Road*
Not that I don't watch the road, just sometimes it's not my road I'm watching.
San Juan Skyway

The town of Ouray, which is the Gateway to the San Juan's, also claims to be "The Switzerland of America". I'm not exactly seeing Switzerland yet, but I'm lovin' the mustard river. This is definitely a first.
San Juan Skyway
We have to stop.
I have to get a closer look.
Creek on San Juan Skyway
It's not so yellow on the bank, but check it out under the melting snow.
Snow melting into yellow creek on San Juan Skyway

Maybe these are the cause of the yellow river?
Red Mountain on San Juan Skyway

Ahhh, it's an old iron mine, that makes sense. Now it's under a massive water restoration process, beautiful, no?
San Juan Skyway
A closer look reveals old mining buildings.
Old mine on San Juan Skyway

Say good-bye to this part of the San Juan Skyway Loop.
San Juan Skyway

We'll be revisiting the other side of the loop on the way home, but for now it's time to call it a night and get a room. We even managed to top off a beautiful day with a two room suite in Cortez for only $59. Two rooms! (Those living in an RV with kids will understand my excitement.)

Arches National Park

We woke up yesterday morning still not ready for the long drive to Arizona for Thanksgiving. We're thinking we may not even go, so we're thinking up alternate plans. Rocky Mountain National Park came up, Aspen was mentioned, as well as Durango, but those are all cold places right now so I check out the weather and notice it's seventy degrees in Moab, UT. We decided immediately to go to Arches National Park for the day and were out the door in twenty minutes, and on red soil in three hours.

Arches National Park
Did I say soil? I'm not actually sure if the boys' soles actually touched soil, there were too many rocks and other cool structures to walk on to waste their time on mere dirt.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Arches National Park
The boys ran this whole trail out to the arch, while Jewel would stop every hundred yards or so and build a small mound out of the soft sand and poke a stick through the top. On the way back the boys would trample down the mounds, and Jewel would do quick rebuilds.

Arches National Park

Arches may have their balancing rocks.
Arches National Park
But we've got a balancing Jake.
Balance Jake

Petrified Dunes in Arches
This view shows the many different terrains in the park. There's the labyrinth of caverns to the left, petrified dunes straight ahead, along with some green dirt, more pinnacles and the LaSal Mountains in the background. So much more than just arches.

This was named Park Avenue because it resembled the high rises in NYC.
Park Ave. in Arches National Park
Then that must be Central Park the boys are running through.
Kids hiking in Park Ave

The setting sun produces the prettiest glow.
Arches National Park

Arches National Park

We spent a fabulous day in the park and I couldn't convince Joey to go on one more hike so it was time to say goodnight to Arches.
Arches National Park

We were hungry and tired so we went into Moab for supper and also ended up getting a room. A nice, BIG, hot bath was the perfect ending to another well exhausted, yet exhilarated, day.

We planned on either going back to the park the next day or driving some 4x4 trails but when we woke up we felt ready to head to Arizona so we came back to a messy bus and loads of laundry in order to pack. Laundry done, buss kinda cleaned, we're leaving for Arizona in the morning.

Saturday, November 17

Life with unschoolers

I've been trying to get my groove back. That's a hard thing to do, considering our lifestyle. There's no "normal" or "usual" daily routine. The only time I get any sense of some sort of routine is when Joey is working. When he's home any ideas I had to do outside of the bus are completely shot, and life becomes even more spontaneous, or more reclusive. Take your pick. For the past two weeks Joey's been working and I've been trying to be more productive. The first week back is always a recooping period for me, where I catch up with Tivo, blogs, and hang out in the RV park office with Jeannie and Katrina, while doing the never ending laundry. Since the kids and I have a car now we've been going to the Activity Center, but most of my driving has been the multiple trips to Glenwood Springs in an attempt to finish the bus remodel.

Even the kids are having a hard time finding their groove. Normally when I ask them "What do you want to do today?" they respond with swimming or raquetball, but the last time I asked, they said, "Go shopping!"

Yep, they're mine.

We started giving the boys an allowance back in May. The deal was one dollar for every year they've been alive. That was nine for Jake and seven for Jonas. Since working the pipeline now, Joey doubled his pay, and doubled their allowance. Now Jake gets twenty dollars, and Jonas gets sixteen dollars....every week! That's a lot of video games, but the sweet thing is: they buy their little sister games for her DS, too.

Monday, November 5

Black Canyon National Park

Earlier in the year when we were in Northwestern Colorado a couple locals told me about a cave in the area. A cave that has a lake inside, with eyeless fish. We drove an hour to get there, hiked up to the opening and went inside just a little ways. We only had a couple flashlights and since it was an undeveloped cave, we were actually a little scared to go too far inside, so we turned around and vowed to come back again better prepared. We thought about going there this past weekend, but we decided against it since we thought it would be too far for a day trip.

Instead I break out the road atlas and found another one of those "green areas" south of us, that didn't look too far, so we packed up some drinks and snacks and headed off for The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

We headed south on scenic Hwy 65, otherwise known as The Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. Turns out the mountain that I had been calling Grand Mesa, isn't. Here we are driving over Grand Mesa. The mountain range in the far right distance is the mountain I see from the RV, not Grand Mesa, someday I'll learn the name.
Grand Mesa

After leaving the mountain we were in cattle country. And donkey territory.
Donkey along the road to Black Canyon NP
He's about as afraid of cars as the deer are around here.

Check out the road to even get to this National park.
The road into Black Canyon NP
When I took the pic I didn't even notice the very edge of the canyon walls, doesn't really look like much, huh? Take a walk to the edge:
First view of Black Canyon NP
Holy cow! It was way more than we were expecting, it's freakin' deep. As it turns out, this canyon is the deepest, sheerest canyon in North America, with the water in the Black Canyon falling more than ten times faster than the Grand Canyon.

Black Canyon NP
Rock that makes up the canyon walls: They appear black because the walls are so close together, and so deep, casting lots of shade, darkening the appearance. At least that's my uneducated guess. :)

Blue haired Jonas leaning over the railing.
Black Canyon NP
Trying to see the bottom.
Looking straight down into Black Canyon NP
Jake asked if he could pee over the canyon, I said "sure".
Shocked, "Really?"
Black Canyon NP
Click. No, but thanks for the photo.

It took us almost four hours to get there, and we only got to the North Rim. We had planned on driving around the entire park and viewing both rims but that would have taken another three or four hours. The cave with fish with no eyes, would have taken an hour and a half....max. I'm so glad we came though, and hope to see it again from the south and also check out the visitor center there, and maybe be there during sunrise or sunset to get better pictures that aren't blinded by the sun. Now we know.
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