Solo Campout

I finally completed my first solo camping trip! It had some rough starts. I had booked it in December wanting to go to Caddo Lake. It has all the cypress trees in the water and is perfect for exploring in a kayak but in March they called me to say there had been too much flooding and the water wouldn’t go down by April 8 for the tent spots so I rebooked for a water and electric that was higher up. I started getting emails a few weeks ago to that they needed to cancel my reservation and then cancelled it, I thought it was for the tent site and meant to call but forgot. So the day before I’m supposed to leave, I get a refund check in the mail. Uh oh. It’s for a larger amount than the tent site. While I’m waiting for Texas parks to call me back I got online to start finding another camp location within a 2 hour radius…I was going solo…so.. Only found one remaining camping at mineral wells state park. A 50 amp one… I didn’t really need that but oh well. Glad I booked it because sure enough I had no reservations at Caddo lake. It was bittersweet to camp at mineral wells since it’s the last time I went camping in our trailer…and with Lyn after TC had gone to college.

I loaded up all my junk, bike and kayak and was ready to go. When I was about 20 miles from the park I had to stop hard for a light and the kayak shifted…oops..I had threaded the strap the wrong way…fixed that!

Arrived at the park and their were only 5 50 amp sites left. I asked where I could easily put in my kayak…and she said oh take 30 you are right on the water. I must say it is quite probably the prettiest campsite I’ve ever had. I can hear folks walking behind me while I’m looking at the looking  or reading and they say wow…now there’s the view! I can put my kayak right it. I had a lovely kayak after I setup…the tent definitely needs 2 folks for setup since it’s so big but I manage. However one catastrophe, I was trying not to get too much water in the kayak from my crocs so I had stupidly put one foot in the kayak and was balancing to try and let the other one drain and I fell in! Luckily it was shallow but soaked my shorts and some of my back below the life jacket. Luckily it wasn’t too cold! I just went ahead and kayaked…I warmed up in the sun. Later I realized I had a huge goose egg on my hip and a lovely bruise to go with it. Dumb dumb! (Picture is attached because Rosemary said without the bruise, whose to say I wasn’t at a hotel! Isn’t she nice?!)


bruise size of my hand… on my hip!

While kayaking on the lake a huge cargo type Air Force jet, Lyn and Tristan would know the type would bank over the lake and poop out (seriously that’s what it looked liked) 18 paratroopers, first time it reminded me of the movie Independence Day and I thought they were jets around it but the next time it came around I saw them poop out. They must have done it 5 times but I only saw they 3 times… That was cool! Can’t remember the Air Force that is near here.

Then I went for a bike ride. Had beef and broccoli stir fry on a cool little stove that sits on a propane bottle. Then I had a dust kayak that was heavenly. I had hoped to join the star gazing activity they had from 8:30 to 10 drop in style but it was cloudy and so when it was dark I went in my tent and watched Up, I love that movie. Didn’t sleep well…lots of noises…one time something scratched several times on the tent, I’ve been watching too much zombie stuff…lol..since I must say that popped into my head…wouldn’t that be horrible! And I’m sure I hear raccoons hard to my tent since they screech sometimes…define lay heard coyotes at one time but very far away.

Up this a.m. For coffee, watching the ducks and the wrens I think that are eating the bugs, they are so cute. My wild like encounters are Lots of blue herons, road runners, ducks, and one bunny and a snake that I didn’t really get to see but it dropped in the water from a tree when I rounded a bend on my kayak.

After some eggs for breakfast on my cool stove and went for a long kayak with my poncho on since it was sprinkling. I was halfway around the lake when a there was huge clap of thunder…didn’t see lightening, but wholly cow…paddled like mad and stayed close to shore where I could. So now what. Well went for a hike on a trail along the lake. Four claps of thunder, never saw lightening, but by the time I turned around, it was raining harder, luckily woodsy, but I got cold. I didn’t pack for 55 degrees. I packed for 75 degrees. I sat in the tent trying to warm up for 30 minutes. Then decided to go to the park shop. Warmed up a little but no tea at the park shop! Talked to Lyn and finally was warm I went back to the campsite to go on another trail…which turned out was closed due to rain and the rain was coming back.

Hmmm…started to think about packing up to leave. Decided I’ll pack up, have dinner, have one more kayak. And that’s what I did! Was home by 9:00 pm. I had to hang up everything at home so they wouldn’t mold I had a lot to do the next day but it was worth it. I would do it again and I will be so happy to get a trailer and I will use it …yay! Test successful.


New Mexico October 2014

10/18 Saturday Dallas to Amarillo (Canyon, TX)

We leave at 7 am but have to stop at Lyn’s office to drop off a hard drive of Salvation Army spots he shot. He was having trouble uploading to Reel F/X. I am just thankful we can go. For a while there it looked like we wouldn’t get to go because Lyn was directing some spots and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to direct. I didn’t want him to miss it either.  I wanted to leave early to have time to explore Palo Duro Canyon. It’s a long drive to Amarillo, but actually interesting since it’s not big highway. It is interesting seeing the energy battle played out along west Texas with the oil derricks pumping away and the windmills for miles.  The oil derricks seemed to have just reappeared overnight about 4-5 years ago and are everywhere you go in the country, just like when we were kids in the 70s. Big difference in the oil derricks from when we were kids is they are different colors, blue, green, tan, and regular black. We stopped somewhere near the panhandle for lunch at a rest area for a picnic of cheese, meats and crackers (Mom taught us well!) We made it to Canyon, Texas, just south of Amarillo by about 2 p.m. We checked into the hotel, a Holiday Inn Express, and then headed out to the canyon. We hiked and explored the canyon (glad to be out of the car) and found a spot for watching and taking pictures of the sunset. It is a really pretty canyon. We saw the amphitheater. Lyn said the sunset was fair, no clouds to make a fabulous sunset on the rim of the canyon but we watched the sunset in the canyon instead. I had brought a chair for the sunset, but no one brought me a glass of wine, that would have been so nice…! Lyn ran around monitoring his cameras. It was lovely. At 7:30 we headed back to Canyon for dinner at Feldman’s Diner a local spot. It was a very busy place with families and two big train tracks suspended from the ceiling. Food was okay, nothing special.
10/19 Sunday Canyon, TX to East of Albuquerque

We got up early again to hit the road so we’d have time for hiking again after a long car ride. Turns out the Holiday Inn free breakfast was just fine and we are off to Albuquerque. We stopped in Tumacuri, NM, to follow Route 66 for maybe a mile or two for pictures, a stretch and some coffee. Found a mid century modern motel that was really cute with an old plane in front. A pickup truck attached to a Casita (we might get one) with a huge plastic (?) marlin fish hanging over the side in the bed was just leaving –  what funny sight! The little espresso bar attached to the motel had really good coffee. Near the hotel was a funny little RV park with an old car and teardrop RV attached to it as its entrance – it wasn’t in use. The office had a blue old frig, it was fitting.

Another long stretch of driving and we stopped just outside of Albuquerque and we ate sandwiches at a picnic pavilion by a soccer field. Glad we sat there since it dumped some rain on us. We waited out the rain at DQ and had ice cream. Back on the road and along the way we could have sworn we saw three coyotes staring down about a 100 head of cattle in a field. The coyotes were standing in a triangle formation and the cattle were lying down and spread out…not seemingly nervous, so I’ve wondered if maybe they were actually dogs. But it was an interesting sight!

We made it to Sandia Peak around 1:30. We had considered going somewhere else because the mountain was in a cloud, but so glad we didn’t. We bundled up since we knew the temperature would be 20 degrees cooler. I even had my gloves, Lyn did not. We really didn’t know what to expect when we rode the tram to the top. I was hoping there’d be trails. As we rode up the operator pointed out this house far far away on the edge of the mountain. He said; look at the guy on the roof – he was a dot! They said there was a trail. Well I knew that’s where I wanted to go when we got off. It was a 3 mile hike round trip to the Nawsai house. Us poor flatlander Texans started our first day of elevation at 12000 feet! Luckily I had brought water and we drank regularly to try to avoid the headaches. I never got one but Lyn did later that night. Turns out it was sunny at the top and clouds would come and go. At the top you could see the other side of the mountain and there were storm clouds. We’d hear thunder every so often but no lightening… The hike was awesome, not too bad fighting the elevation but we certainly felt it. It was pretty chilly at the top, about 40 but hiking kept us warm. We’d stop now and then to look over the edge and take pictures. It was breathtaking.

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As we got closer to the house we skirted a field and realized we were in the cloud, it was hard to capture the image but the clouds ran across the field. No bears or elk as promised…thankfully! We finally reached the house and it was so weird, it was engulfed in cloud. I sat on the cliff over looking Albuquerque, knowing the city was below but you couldn’t see anything. The wind and cloud rushed up and over you. We spent about 40 minutes at the house and we got cold but just as we were about to hike down from the house, the cloud cleared and we could see Albuquerque, it was beautiful. We hiked back to the tramway. We stopped in their restaurant/bar and had a fancy alcoholic coffee to warm us up. Coffee with Baileys, another liqueur and whipped cream, yum. Warmed us right up.

We rode the tramway down and realized it was still a drive to the hotel so we stopped for Mexican food that was okay. We made it to the Hyatt by 8:00. The room was wonderful and Diane had arranged for us access to the Regency Club which we used every day for breakfast which was so convenient.

10/20 Monday East of Albuquerque

Breakfast at regency club thanks Diane, then off to Tent Rocks. We took the trail to the top, which they said on the signs that it had some steep parts and maybe some scrambling. I was a little concerned about scrambling but thought we could always turn around. Glad we didn’t. I didn’t know it would take us to the top, it was a spectacular view. I even took a great picture of Lyn that he updated Facebook with…wow. We took all the trails they had and towards the end we saw storms all over the valley but it never rained on us.
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After tent rocks we went into Santa Fe for a coffee and snack. We didn’t spend a lot of time there since we aren’t really into shopping. We stopped at Whole Foods market to get some bread and a few items for picnics. We headed back to the hotel and had dinner at the hotel. It was good.

Lyn has gone on and on for years about the enchiladas at Casa Vejia for Dad’s 80th celebration. We would have loved to have dinner at Casa Vejia again but we knew it closed a few years ago (turns out due to a wall collapsing…no surprise, it was in a very old house). So on our way to dinner at the hotel that night, I just thought I’m going to ask the concierge if there is a place that has those enchiladas that is good. Well she was a funny lady! We told her the story and she goes…oh yeah…what’s that chef’s name…she said she had just read an article about him and his restaurant in Santa Fe. She did mad Google searching…Lyn along with her… She just couldn’t remember his name. Finally after at least five minutes she remembered his first name…she said it was a lunch place or something. She found his restaurant, Dr. Field Goods. Then she says wait pulling up the menu, and there it was…fancy food but there were the enchiladas! We couldn’t believe it. We made a plan to go the next night.

10/21 Tuesday East of Albuquerque

Breakfast and then off to Bandelier National monument. We were thinking it was the place Lyn and I went to 26 years ago when I visited him in Santa Fe when he was on Lonesome Dove (in 1988 when we got engaged). Turns out it was not the place. Puya Cliff Dwellings was actually the place we went which we didn’t visit this time. They won’t let you drive into the park due to them losing a lot of their parking in the flood so while we were waiting for the shuttle; I saw a map for a scenic drive in the information center, Highway 4. We decided it looked so great we would take that drive to Taos the next day versus taking the high road to Taos which was to have all the old beautiful churches, art and museums.

_1230837 _1230835On the shuttle to the park, we saw one of the few wildlife items on our trip, a deer! We loved Bandelier, all the leaves were turning and it was a beautiful valley that the cliffs over looked. It spit a little rain on us but since it was so dry it wasn’t a problem. I discovered a small tarantula along the path. The park had had a huge flood two years ago and they lost their day camp sites, water faucets, picnic tables. Before the flood there were several large fires in years previous which they indicated it made the flood worse. It was quite an interesting place. Reminded me a little of Canyon de Shelly. We picnicked at one of the picnic tables that hadn’t washed away.

After Bandelier we headed to Ten Thousand Waves. It’s a spa we went to 26 years ago and sat in a hot tub overlooking the valley. Since we didn’t make reservations, we took what they had, it wasn’t nearly as nice since we overlooked a garden versus the valley, but it was fun to go again. Wish we had massages! Showered and off to Dr. Field Goods. Lyn had the buffalo red enchiladas, and I had the Xmas enchiladas, one red buffalo and one green chili chicken. They were and are still the best enchiladas and our waiter knew it too! Diane, we thought of you the whole time. It was a restaurant we imagine you’d have, bar with interesting beers that faced a huge pizza oven (Lyn will have pic) and only 8 tables in the place. You watched the chef cook with his helpers throwing pizza dough for good looking pizzas. We watched the selections walk by and everything looked yummy! Lovely evening. Back to the hotel by 8 again.
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10/22 Wednesday East of Albuquerque to Taos

Up for the Regency Club breakfast, packed a lunch for a picnic and loaded up the car to head for Taos – the LONG way. It’s so funny that our hotel was just south of this beautiful highway – so we headed north from Bernalillo on 550 to Highway 4. Highway 4 goes through the Valles Caldera National Preserve to Los Alamos. It is approximately 182 miles to Taos this way and it took us all day to go 40 miles!  It was beautiful.

Our first stop along Highway 4 was the red rocks and a visitor’s center. We stopped for the restroom and bought some green chili cornbread mix and dehydrated green chilies to support the reservation! You couldn’t hike in the red rocks without a guide so we continued on. Really glad we had stopped at the visitor’s center because they told us exactly how to find the tunnels, where the turnoff was just down the road. We loved that road. It was through a valley with the trees yellow and funny houses in all shapes of repair. We arrived at the two tunnels – they were really neat and I discovered how we could hike down to the stream also. We spent quite a bit of time there and stopped to take shots here and there on the road back to Highway 4.

_1240673 - Version 2Along the way we found a park to picnic at, we stopped at some Pueblo ruins, and various different parks along the way – no camping at any of them – they were all closed for the winter, the next big stop was Soda Falls. Lyn spent lots of time taking pictures so I climbed all over the rocks exploring and tried to figure out how I could cross the creek to explore a cave I saw but I never could figure it out without having to get wet so instead I found another cave across the road.

It was a hard climb over loose rocks to get to the cave. There were posting everywhere not to take anything so I figured it must have been an old dwelling – not very fancy though but had a good view for enemies coming. I found a spring across the highway was hot and the soda springs were SMELLY!

Back in the car and now it’s starting to get to the late afternoon and we still have to drive to Taos! We had two more stops we had to make – one was the Battleship rock. We hiked around the campgrounds and tried to follow a trail for a while but we just couldn’t figure out the trail so we gave up. Next stop was Spencer hot spring. We hiked down to the water, no hot spring – we started hiking up the other side and just decided it was probably too far for what we had time for so we never saw the spring. Back to the car again this time with no more stops (or so we thought until we got to the top of the mountains). There was the caldera that we did get out for – it was cold at the top 40 or so, no elk spottedL. Then we were off to Los Alamos, it actually had a checkpoint where I had to provide my driver’s license and vouch for Lyn… I said he was OK. Wow Los Alamos was really beautiful.

On the way to Taos we are supposed to have dinner at a famous restaurant, Rancho de Chimayo. Our cat sitter had recommended it. Our Taos hotel told us it was the best in the area. We thought it was ok. Service was not so great. We were getting tired and still had a long drive to Taos. It was a weird drive to Taos in the dark (turns out we left in the dark too). I knew we were going up and up and up on winding roads, we could have been on the edge of a cliff, but we never knew. We made it to the Marriott El Monte Sagrado hotel about 9. Our room was at the very back of the hotel at the corner. It was very nice. We kept our sliding door open, we were on the 2nd floor, we had a gas fireplace, and a cozy bed. It was nice and chilly in the mornings, 30s…

10/23 Thursday Taos

We decide to drive the Enchanted circle. We make a picnic for lunch and grab coffee and bagels on the way. It’s a pretty drive but not as fabulous as yesterday. We thought we were going to a “park” with an entrance for Cimarron Canyon State Park. Turns out all the signs we saw we were in the park! After we drove through it, I thought this can’t be right – we left the mountains! We had to turn around and then we stopped along the way back. One funny part of the drive is we found out where Philmont is! It’s in the enchanted circle. We knew all about Philmont because when Tristan was in boy scouts, one of the parents was preparing to go as a chaperone, she was hiking everywhere around Dallas on hills with a backpack. Tristan was too young and NOT interested. Just outside of Angel Fire there is a lovely Vietnam memorial we visited. We did not check out Angel Fire because it said they only had things open on the weekend. We had wanted to ride up and hiked down (or I did!)  It was a lovely drive and fun exploring.

The Marriott where we were staying gave us the low down on all the places to eat in Taos… however they were all pretty fancy and we just weren’t into that. We found a great burger place that had green chilies on the burgers… I was apparently NOT getting enough. Nice evening.

10/24 Friday Taos

Up EARLY 6 a.m. for the balloons. We dress warmly and drive out – we actually could have walked but it was really cold (warms up fast when the sun comes up – but no sun yet) and we were going to go to breakfast afterwards. We drive over to the field and there aren’t even any trucks yet so we drive to the strip and get coffee! We come back to the field and sit in the car across from the field waiting for the balloons to start setup. They said at 7 a.m. there was a dawn patrol. It turned out it was a blow up balloon that they let go. About 8 balloons went that day but it was so much fun! You could walk up to the baskets, watch what they do, you can volunteer to help them and get a free ride. It was just spectacular as the sun rose and then the balloons ascended. We had never gone to a balloon launch before.

After the balloons we went for breakfast at a local place which was good – huevos rancheros for me! We returned to the hotel for showers and then off to the Rio Grande Bridge. No picnic today – we had a big breakfast! Drove over the bridge and checked out the tables with folks selling their wares… can you believe I didn’t buy any silver or jewelry on the entire trip. The concierge at Hyatt told us about the trail behind the restroom of the rest stop that if you walked it, you’d get a great view of the bridge, and we did!

We decided to drive up to the Taos ski hill. It was a beautiful drive, but nothing was going on on the mountain, but we did walk around. Not sure why people would stay there in the summer. It didn’t even look like mountain biking was an o          ption but maybe only on the weekends. We were impressed with the bikers that rode the road up the mountain to the ski hill. It’s a long way up. On the way back we stopped in Arroyo Seco. It was a fun little town with funny stores, we explored a few. We stopped in one pottery place that told us all about firing pottery. Twice a year about 10 of the artists in town spend a week firing pottery. The guy that was in the store that day owned the land and someone else had the kilns built on the land. They camp for the week, no facilities, and keep the fire going, cook pizzas (the kiln builder had the pizza oven built into it). They had two kilns, one was an Anagama kiln. It sounded so wonderful. The guy told us all about it, how the ash gets into the pottery. How it takes them days to load the kiln, and they have these little pottery marbles to separate the pottery in the kiln. The rest of the time in Taos at the good pottery places we’d look for the marks of the marbles and know they were fired in that kiln. He was wonderful to share his stories and love for pottery and firing and he wasn’t an artist. The store had several artists that sold their work as a collective. I was all ready to move (into my Earthship, later in the story, and make pottery to attend the week firing session!)

We had dinner at a local Italian place that was recommended. The service was horrid. We couldn’t figure out what was the problem. Our waitress never smiled, nor helped us with the menu or anything, but was nice to others around us. Luckily we just focused on our experience in the pottery shop. The food was good though.

10/25 Saturday Taos

Up early again for the balloons all bundled up. Today there were 30-40 balloons. We were there promptly at 7:00. What a sight. We so enjoyed it! I kept thinking I should ask to help and maybe get a ride but I was having so much funning watching each setup that I would hate to miss it for only a chance at a ride… maybe next time!

Off to breakfast at a local diner… great breakfast again and YES it included green chilies! So the plan today was to check out the shops. I wasn’t too thrilled about it but we thought we should. I also thought –we should just check out the Earthship place. Lyn had poo-poo’d it but I thought maybe just take a peak and if it costs too much…we won’t go in. I already knew they didn’t do tours of the Earthships from website comments but they said there was a visitor’s center. I did know they had rentals but seemed pricey and we were going to stay several days in Taos so I didn’t book them.

We arrived at the earthship neighborhood and went into the visitor’s center. I was surprised there were so many people there to check them out. A woman kept asking “are you here for the tour”? Everyone that came in said “no”. She finally said she was expecting a group from a university to take a tour and they were late. She said if they didn’t show soon she would make a deal with us. Eventually the university called and cancelled the tour. So she said she could take us as a family (we were adopted!) of about 15 adults and two other couples like Lyn & I on their tour! It included a tour of their $1,000,000 property that’s a rental!  Normally just walking around is $7 per person, but she gave us a discount for $5 each and we had a tour of a lifetime! It was fascinating – she spent about 30 minutes explaining the visitor’s center that is an earthship – a 2 bedroom house, fully sustainable. Backs up to a berm that has the water tanks for storage where the water is collected from the roof. It goes from drinking to black water and ends up in a field in the garden. You have to run the shower at least once a week because the gray water waters the plants automatically. The front of the house with the windows is a greenhouse for growing all your food and you can do a hydroponic system too. Electricity is solar and wind. The new ones now even have a type of air conditioning that goes through the berm to make it cooler. After her talk, we got to drive through the neighborhood (normally visitors never get to do) and see all the homes and then we toured the house. Plants all over the house, beautiful quirky bathrooms that we loved (no doors on the bedrooms though.  We got to spend about 30 minutes exploring the house and garden… they had chickens and I found a lizard almost in the house but I think bugs and lizards would be normal in a house full of plants. Lastly, we got to see new construction. They are connecting two older earthships into a dorm for the kids that come to their university to learn how to build them. In exchange, they have to help build, I think, two earthships as part of their humanitarian efforts in other countries.

Lastly they showed us their new houses; they don’t meant code but are being tested. They are minimal but they are used for student housing for the test. I think they are testing for disaster areas, like for something like Haiti.

At the end of the tour, it was a good 2 hours, we were SOLD! She had told us they have an earthship in almost every state. I asked so what are the rules for building one in Texas and she said (of course) Texas is easy, if you have 20 acres or more you can build whatever you want! UGH! We would love one… maybe our next life… we are city folk now!

In the afternoon we explored the Taos shops – and actually only purchased Lyn some Gramicci pants that were like the old style he loves. Then off to the evening balloon glow. Only about 10 balloons – they don’t take off – they just do their burners and it’s pretty at night… they do a show. Then off for a dinner – that included GREEN CHILI, Michael’s kitchen!

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10/26 Sad Sunday Taos to Dallas

Up at six – I want to be on the road by 7 a.m. We are on the road at 6:45 at drive roughly 679 miles to Dallas – Google says 11 hours but I figured it doesn’t add stops, coffee & lunch! However we made it back to our home by 6:30 p.m. I couldn’t believe it; we even lost an hour due to the time zone change.

It really wasn’t a bad drive. The weather was nice – although the sun pounded on Lyn the whole way. We saw one bunny and coming down from the mountains of Taos, just as dawn was breaking; a coyote ran across the highway, cool… what a wonderful trip we had!

(Judy had 3 day turn around to attend early voting, laundry, pack, and a list of things to accomplish before leaving to Jacksonville, FL for 10 days for work – our first hire in our department in 2 years… and not a very big hire).


Lost a BFF today 2014

What a sad day, but I am SO grateful I can count sad days on only my hands. I voluntarily gave up a best friend of 16 years. My 1208 Jayco pop trailer. We bought the trailer when Tristan was three, March 1998. Bob, Denise and Nico visited us the first time we camped.  We had been camping on and off with my parents in their 5th wheel and really loved the camping life!  I also refused to change Tristan’s diapers in a tent. Lyn had always been the one to buy toys but it was my turn. I was afraid of spending so much money and never using it. I purchased the trailer for around $6700. And boy did we use it. We have gone all over Texas and a little Arkansas and Oklahoma. We had years of great camping with my parents. It was something I looked forward to all year, our week in Junction, Texas at South Llano State Park. We had the scariest storms every year and would hide in the bathrooms. I would always leave that camping week so relaxed but so sleep deprived from the nightly storms. With all the time I had off from the government, I would be happy to go camping on long weekends and since it was cheap, I never felt too bad about the vacation when Lyn couldn’t come, which was often. The last few years had been great since Tristan could help me do the hard part, cranking up the popup and have a helper to hook up the trailer. Other than the favorite people I have lost, I have to say giving up the trailer today was like the loss of the cottage in Canada and Tristan going off to college.

Why it’s gone? For two years now we’ve been battling a problem that just can’t be fixed. A year and a half ago we had the wheels overheat which eventually blew a tire and later blew the other tire. It happened right as we pulled up to register for camping. $1,000 later of towing, brakes, new tire, we thought it was fixed.  Tristan and I then went camping again and the other tire blew. Although I was really proud of myself for changing it, I didn’t want to do that again. We took it in again to get looked at and get another tire, they said everything was fine. It overheated again when we brought it home from camping in Mineral Wells.  We didn’t use if for awhile because I couldn’t decide what to do, sell it or keep trying to fix it. I felt like with Tristan in college, we shouldn’t be buying a new trailer. I decided with Lyn I would take it in one more time to see what could be done – they worked on the brakes, fixed the interior lights, and I brought it home. After I got it backed in the driveway, it was squeaking badly and I noticed the tire was smoking again and greasing was melting in the tire. I quickly called the trailer place (it was 4:58 and they close at 5:00). They said bring it back. As I was bringing it back – I had to hit the brakes pretty hard since I did realize the woman in front of me was actually turning. I noticed a big plume of smoke from back of the trailer and as I tried to accelerate it wasn’t reacting right. Luckily there was a parking lot for a DDS office. I immediately pulled in. I quickly called the RV place because they were waiting for me. I thought I had a flat tire. They came to help me!  I was only 3 miles away. I got out of the car after calling them and realized the tire was OFF the trailer. I had dragged the trailer and it had scraped into the parking lot.



100_5089 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? After much discussion with Lyn and soul searching, I realized I would never trust the trailer. The trailer place says surge breaks are not so great and they just couldn’t guarantee they could fix it and I wouldn’t continue to have problems. They arranged to have it towed to their place on a flat bed. Today we went to go sign for the estimate and went ahead and looked at some trailers there. We then went for a late breakfast and it was there we decided not to fix it. We went back to the trailer place, cleaned out the stuff in the trailer and said our goodbyes and said we would look into a salvage yard to pick it up.

A small happy ending the lady that works in parts said she would really like it. They live in the country and it would be a great “play house” for their kids. I LOVED that idea. So the trailer will be happy… as for me… not until I’m camping again….

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Kitchen Reno March 2014

In preparation of our kitchen remodel, we painted our refrigerator from almond to black. We bought the frig in 1990 when we bought our house in Lancaster. Everyone says don’t buy a new frig if you don’t have to, they don’t last very long so we took their advice!


Goodbye cute but very old and worn out kitchen! Oh but doesn’t the black frig look nice!

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Living and working at home in my office during the reno…  ugh – at least there is coffee and frozen dinners… ugh.

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Monday February 27, tear out kitchen day. Wow, it was gone in 5 hours. Yes, yes we ARE keeping the exhaust fan. We love it and it (hopefully) will fit in well with our new funky, quirky kitchen.



The walls are getting fixed up and ready for the cabinets. Note the florenscent lights are gone… big triangles in the ceiling. Now four can LED – the fourth coming in after the cabinet so it is centered over the peninsula.

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Cabinets have arrived and were installed on Saturday March 1.  Same day we finally got my kayak!


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Tristan will arrive this Friday and will expect meals – what a great kid… it should be done by then!

OH and we caught the mouse… with NO help from Georgie! She is now having a lovely time at the lake, but it’s sleeting today, so maybe not.


Tuesday – Turning Right out of Big Sur to explore Hwy 1 to Carmel

Today we are up and off to the north on Hwy 1. The only downside about where we are staying in Big Sur is the coffee is across Hwy 1. Another reason I am glad I quit smoking! Lyn has to get up and get dressed to go smoke outside so I can lay in bed WARM while he takes our cups across the road for at least free coffee. I had the presence of mind to bring my travel mug so mine stays warmer too. Thank you Lyn for my coffee every morning! As we head off this morning we stopped at Ripplewood Inn for breakfast. This was the other place we had thought to stay. We were intrigued by the chairs setup in the big creek behind their inn. However the rooms were not as nice as where we stayed. However, I have to say, it was the best breakfast. I had crab and avocado eggs benefict. I don’t know what they added to the hollandaise sauce but it was wonderful. There were big lumps of crab that you could actually taste…  I was in heaven.  I’m sure you are wondering what Lyn has, Lyn has what he always has, scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits (each time hoping the biscuits will be amazing…), don’t think they were here.


Off to explore, the scenery on this part of the drive was so different. We observed the moss or shrub type growth on the rocks and hills were different colors, like fall colors, dark greens, red, oranges, and yellows. Then we’d go beyond that section and it’s just rock and grasses… We loved the drive to Carmel and made mental notes of all the stops we needed to make back driving back to Big Sur but we decided we needed to go to Point Lobos State Reserve first. I have to say, it was definitely one of my top 5 favorite parks, up with Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon.

We explored the majority of the perimeter of the park. Whalers cove, cannery point, cypress trees,  sea lions, and pelicans, what a park. When we arrived the sun was shining and the water was so blue. The huge waves crashing against the rocks, like cymbals crashing together. We just couldn’t get enough. At Sea Lion cove we separated since Lyn was going to do a lot of tripod shooting. I wandered the rocks, squinting through Aunt Barbara’s binoculars that I love, watching the sea lions play and surf in the big waves. I know I’ve spent hours looking through the binoculars trying to find a whale… but never did..  Even though we weren’t there an hour when the fog rolled it, it was still beautiful. My photographer captured the beauty of the place forever for us. He didn’t like as many photos because the colors became so flat – but wow… don’t you wish you could paint? She has an amazing spot. (Remember the uglier pictures are mine!)

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Leaving Point Lobos we slowly make our way back to Big Sur. Right outside of Carmel is the Garrapata State Park. Turns out all it is is about 9 pull outs, but the views are amazing. It also has trails in the shrubbery to explore.  Note Judy looking for whales!

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Along the way we discovered a spectacular beach with the biggest waves we’ve seen in a long time. They were perfectly formed and curled exactly like a tube. We were hypnotized.

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And of course, the Bixby bridge!

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That evening we ate at Nepenthe. Gus and Joy were correct, it was amazing. We faced the Pacific and watched the sun set and the woodpeckers fight in the trees, over a lovely dinner. I had a filet with portabello mushrooms and a blue cheese butter and Lyn had a huge pork chop. It was really wonderful – but very expensive! We paid for the view happily. We were also grateful for the heater over us. It was chilly. We sat next to a guy from Pennsylvania who was in CA for a job interview in San Francisco. He said this was the best restaurant he’d ever been to (the view while you eat… as he played on his iphone…) and he had traveled the world. On the other side we sat by a couple a little older than us who were funny, they talked themselves into dessert. They decided they didn’t want to drive back to where they lived so they were going to say in Big Sur but didn’t want to pay $800 a night. The waiter recommended Glen Oaks, he’d heard was a good place, we piped in to say that was where were we staying. We did see them checking in several hours later, they had viewed a cabin and were happy with the choice. Now off to bed, still full of Aleve everyday but making it.

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Honoring the loss of JFK 50 years ago and Judy turns 50 in the same year

Friday, November 22, I attended the ceremony at Dealey Plaza in Dallas commemorating 50 years since JFK was assassinated. It was bitter cold, starting gently (thankfully) raining 15 minutes before the ceremony began. It rained through the entire ceremony as was appropriate. I showed up at my appointed time to pick up my wristband (Lyn couldn’t come at the last minute) after catching the train downtown at 7:00 a.m. After getting the wristband at the American Airlines center (where the Mavs play) they sat us in a hot shuttle bus for 20 minutes. They finally shuttled our group over to Dealey plaza (they had issued 5,000 free tickets for the event that we had signed up for in JULY!) I quick ran over to get a big cup of coffee and headed into the plaza. The ticket holders were wanded and items searched twice for the event. Lots of folks were jealous of my coffee since they all thought there might be vendors need the event… no such luck. I was thrilled with my coffee until I found out where the restrooms were…

At 37 degrees, no sun and gusts up to 25 miles an hour, at 8:15 a.m. in the morning.. (weather says feels like 26). it was going to be a LONG wait until the ceremony at 12:10…When they issued the tickets we were given the assigned time to show up. I had only brought my cell phone, camera, water bottle and poncho. I had felt silly laying out my clothes the night before, T shirt, Patagonia Fleece pullover (that usually I get too hot in), my Lands end jacket, gloves, scarf, (wish I took that hat after all) and my winter hiking boots. Boy was I a smart cookie. It was very cold but I didn’t freeze until the crowd dispersed when the ceremony was over.

They nicely handed out clear plastic bag type ponchos, and since you couldn’t bring a blanket or chair – we all sat on ours. We stood for an hour, sat for maybe two and stood another hour. As much as I hate crowds, I was glad for the crowds, as Lyn suggested the penguins were no dummies. Everyone was so friendly and nice. I met and spoke with lots of folks, a couple from CA, a couple in security and law, a daughter in the police academy. I couldn’t believe in a crowd so big, how police everyone was.

I do think it was still a Dallas charity event. Probably all the big donors and city officials got to sit in the center section and who actually got to see the ceremony. Sad part was for us who signed up for the free tickets – we were on the hill sloping down so we couldn’t see. The platform should have been higher but I don’t think we were that important… we were just there for the crowd. I was there to support Dallas and honor Kennedy.

Mayor Rawlins speech was forceful and thoughtful. He wished well for Dallas. The US Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club was wonderful singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “America the Beautiful”. There was no fly by, as the weather was too poor and clouds too low, and the Dallas Symphony didn’t make it but I was still glad to be there. 

Good news is I was home in 30 minutes – no big crowds for the trains – so many drove…  was glad to be a part of history… just said my pictures turned out so terrible… I missed my photographer..

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Monday Big Sur

Sun evening arrived in Big Sur. How beautiful. Our room at Glen Oaks was modern, comfortable and  we are here for three nights. We couldn’t have been happier, lovely gas heater with flames behind glass on the wall and heated bathroom floor… We loved that.. Who has that in Texas!? And of course, if your trip gets stressful yoga mats and pad for Japanese calligraphy…so nice for evenings. We had a lovely dinner at the Big Sur Roadhouse, owned by the hotel but across the street, Lyn had a steak and me salmon… It was a lovely dinner in a small restaurant. We were so surprised by the number of foreigners everywhere we went!
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We woke up bright and early, and me discovering I had a sore throat…ugh!! Gulped some Aleve and we are off to explore Big Sur. Our first adventure was to find Pfieffer beach. All info read on the Internet and books say it is hard to find but we only passed the unmarked road once before we found the road. A single lane paved road about 2 miles long. At the end you pay $6 for who knows what but oh my. Only one other car in the small parking lot – yippee. We walk the sandy pavement overhung with the most speculator trees which opened out to a gorgeous beach and we found out why it was one of the favorite beaches.

The sun was out before the fog rolls in, beautiful rock formations, caves in the rocks big waves and it was high tide. When I look at my pictures and the photographers pictures… well there is just no comparison.

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We spent the day driving South on Hwy 1 towards San Luis Obsisbo. We stopped for a coffee and breakfast/lunch at a deli/coffee shop and off to all the pull offs we missed. We stopped at every pull off and found a hike. This one we found by mistake when we noticed folks had hiked down a road to a rocky beach, it was a long hike down, but on a dirt road, which we thought went to a mine but turned out was a tunnel through the rock to a lookout … We also walked to the beach. It was a long hike back up the hill with the sore throat ending up to be an elephant on my chest…cough… But glad I don’t smoke anymore! Us flat lander texans! But well worth it.
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We saw the famous waterfall that has moved since a huge rock slide over highway one a few years ago changed it so the beach is bigger and the fall no longer hits the water. Turns out our neighbors in Dallas were on their hwy 1 trip when the rock slide happened…Hwy 1 one was closed for a year so they missed that whole part. The fog had rolled in by the time we saw the waterfall but it sure was a beautiful sight.  Anyway we spent the day exploring every nick and cranny that we legally could! But we know we missed a lot.

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As the day neared to an end, we decide to go back to Pfieffer beach to watch the sunset… it was speculator…of course!

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We ate dinner that night at Fernwood bar and grill we over heard the volunteer at the Henry Miller’s library (interesting old hippy place) talk about…we heard him say it was the local hang out so good beer, good food, and close to the hotel