We are in Vegas Baby!

11.3

After being on the road for a couple of months, it actually felt kind of good to get to our Winter destination.  I am so glad we took our time getting here though because we got to see some magnificent views along the way.  After stopping in Colorado and Utah, we continued on to Nevada.  During most of our travels, we boondocked a lot -staying in very remote areas.  Jim and I did very well adjusting to not having a lot of the commodities that we became so used to while at our last volunteer site; all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our time boondocking.  The only down side was that once in a while we had to travel through some rough terrain.  The RV does not like that, and the FIAT cannot stand it.   So, after being out on our own and being very frugal with our water and power -it was a real treat to stay at the Valley of Fire Campground. It almost felt like we were in a resort.

11.8We have stayed at several campgrounds in our travels; but this one was one of the prettiest by far.  No, it did not have a pool – but other than that; it was wonderful.  The red fiery mounds or mountains did light up beautifully with the sunlight.  We could be looking at the same thing, but depending on the time of day -it looked completely different.  I wish I could describe it more eloquently so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about.

11.7 I also got to see a pink sky, which was so, so calming.  I had never seen that except in a painting that I had a long, long time ago while living in California.  I did not think a pink sky was real, but yes -I saw it.

11.6While we were at the Valley of Fire campground, Jim and I went on a several hikes (Mouse Tank, Rainbow Vista and White Domes), but one in particular (Fire Wave) I will never forget.

11.9It almost felt like we were on a different planet.  It was so beautiful!   It was an easy one too, no steep drop-offs or strenuous up-hill trails, but still -it was very rewarding.  It was also fun to be there because we discovered that one of our (mainly mine) favorite movies (Fools Rush In) was filmed there, so that was kind of neat.

11.11

We did not get to do the “Wave” in Arizona as we had intended, but I am hoping I will be telling you all about it one day in the near future.

Before we came here to the complex, we had planned on staying at the campground only for a few days to treat ourselves to nice long hot showers and unlimited power.  But, while we were at the Campground -Jim discovered that the toilet needed repair.  Oh no! We’ve been dreading that for a while.  We hear so many horror stories when it comes to those kinds of repairs.  Jim called a few mobile repair techs, but none of them even wanted to take on the challenge.  One of them, did say –“only if you absolutely cannot find anyone, then I guess I can come -but I really don’t want to”.  Well, Jim decided to tackle the repair and ordered the part.  I am very happy to report that Jim did fix the toilet with very little help from me.  Hip, hip, hooray!    So anyway, for that reason, we ended up staying at the campground longer; and I am so glad we did -because it was so beautiful!

11.12

Now, we are sitting in a huge County Shooting Complex.  Our first week here, we got our county volunteer badges, physicals, site assignment, keys to the mail box and to the free laundry facilities.  We both volunteered our hours already this week, but I am thinking that soon Jim will be  “working” most of the hours, so that I can go get a fun job outside of the complex.  I love kids, I love crafting, I love oils, I enjoy people – I am sure I can find something.  (May be crafting with children) Now, that would be awesome – or just crafting period.  We’ll see!

Since we’ve been here, we have had a lot of free time; so I have been “mastering” my yoga routine and my crafting skills.    I am also playing more with my facebook public page “misslittlelaura” I already have over 100 likes on it, yeyy!! My goal is 700 before my next birthday.  I hope I meet that goal since, I have yet to realize the one I set myself for the last one.  (I had said I wanted to do 50 pushups, then when I realized it was too ambitious I changed it to 37) – and I am still stuck on 27.

11.2Anyway, (as I have mentioned before) Jim and I have a lot of free time, so we’ve been enjoying some of the events here at the range and we also did get out to the Las Vegas Stip.  It is pretty, but there is so much traffic; even in the middle of the day!  So, I will probably not be going there much.  It’s was actually kind of strange seeing so many people.  We were getting used to being out in the middle of nowhere with no one around, but it’s ok – I think we will really enjoy this place.

11.1

This week, we got word that our daughter has some free time, so we took a day and made the drive to go see her for an afternoon.  We were incredibly happy to see her!

Well, that’s it for now -Hugs and Hasta Luego!

Ps. I still have not made time to practice my guitar, I been looking for some apps but no luck.  Hey, maybe I can find someone to practice with around here.  I will keep you posted.

11.10

 

Advertisements

Rolling along, taking our time in NoRush…

 

u21Jim and I have been on the road for about a month.  We’ve seen so many beautiful mountains; they are simply amazing -and they are everywhere! We went through Colorado, but only stayed there for a few days.

u15Besides enjoying a few hikes; we did get together with my friend Kristy and her two sons.  I am so glad we got to see them; it feels so good to see familiar faces along our travels.  I think getting hugs from friends is good for my soul, so yes – I was very, very happy to see them.  I had hoped to stay a little bit longer; long enough for me to go visit their new church home in Colorado, but we decided to keep on rolling -so I did not get a chance to do it.  Both, Jim and I do not enjoy cold weather, so we wanted to start heading to Utah before it got too cold for us.  We’ve actually been here a while and the weather has been good to us.  It’s still comfortable, but it does appear that soon we will have to keep on moving as the mornings keep getting colder and colder.

u10

 

u4We’ve been able to do a lot of sight-seeing her in Utah.  We visited the beautiful little town of Moab.  There, we did some breathtakingly beautiful hikes in and around Arches and Canyonlands National Park.  The rock formations are truly mesmerizing.  Some of the scenery is hypnotizing – I love everything about the hills, cliff and arches (especially Delicate Arch) – the only thing that makes me uncomfortable is seeing people (especially Jim!) get so close to the edge of the cliffs.  I get so worried sometimes; I have to be careful not to let my fear take away from the wonderful adventure of seeing such inspiring panoramic views.

u12u18

We were Moab for a couple of weeks or so, and there too; we got a chance to see friends from Big Cypress National Preserve.  I am so glad we got to see them, plus -they took us on a wonderful hike that we probably would have missed otherwise.

u5

As you can imagine; we’ve done lots and lots of sight-seeing -and we are loving it!  Something else that was extra special about Moab; was that, I found a wonderful church to go to.  It was a little bit out of the way; but it was so worth it to go there for morning service.  I found some wonderful warm and welcoming group of people.  The bible class, the sermon, the women’s prayer circle and the pot luck was all amazing!  I was thinking I may be able to go one more time, but again -we decided to keep on rolling.

u9

Now, we are boondocking near a town called Torrey; which is right outside the Capital Reef National Park.  Again, we are surrounded by majestic hills and mountains and the most glorious displays of natural sunlight and evening stars.  We’ve only done a few hikes here, but hope to do some more before we leave.  We still have a while before we actually have to be in Nevada, but then again -there is still a lot to see here in Utah.

u33u22

Something else I have not mentioned before, is that -I have been learning a lot about the Native American cultures – well I guess not a lot – but enough to know that -yes- I feel so connected.  From listening to stories, viewing pictures and reading some of the history – I can tell that definitely I am connected.

 I am so happy to be on the road and discovering not only new places, but also learning new things. Times and places like these are the reason I am so happy that we are able to live off-grid.  Thanks to Jim for making sure that the RV (NoRush) is well equipped to keep us comfortable while disconnected from mainstream civilization.  Well, I guess this is it for now.  Again, thanks for following our blog, my Instagram account and my fb pages.  – Hugs and Hasta Luego!

Ps.  I am still enjoying my essential oils and my yoga.  I am also still working on my crafts, making cards and painting rocks.  Oh, but I have not been practicing my guitar.

u23

Getting ready to roll again!

084

Oh, my goodness! Where did the time go? Seems like we just got here and we already talking about leaving.   I just saw our volunteer schedule and are names are not in it anymore!!

083

It’s a good thing though, we do not want to be here when it starts getting cold, and I am sure it will be soon.   We also want to take our time going through and enjoying the wonderful state of Utah We hear it is beautiful.  I have seen to many beautiful pictures, we cannot wait to go see for ourselves before reaching our Nevada destination.

Everywhere we go, we meet great people -so yes, we will be saying good bye to friends again.  It’s ok though, because thanks to social media, we do stay in touch, and hopefully we will see them on the road again.

I will certainly miss the wonderful running trails in South Dakota.  Everywhere we’ve been, I been blessed with having a wonderful place to work out, but I’ve got to admit – Spearfish definitely is on top of my list of best park trails.  It is just absolutely wonderful for runners and bikers alike.  I will definitely miss those trails.  I will be leaving another church family – and yes, I will miss them too.

087

I know it sounds like I should be sad, but really – I am very excited to go to new places.   God is good to us, so I know we will be fine wherever we go.

Well – I actually do not have anything too exciting to share this time.  We have not really done anything out of the ordinary.  I have been continuing to absolutely enjoy my morning run and my daily workout routines.  I have added yoga to my daily workouts – that way, I will be able to keep my motivation to exercise while we are on the road.  I figured, even if I do not get to go out running (as we are traveling) -at least I will be able to do my yoga routine.  It is quite a good workout -I would have never guessed that. But thanks to my friends and neighbors, (one who encouraged me to do it, and another one for giving me a yoga mat, and another one for giving me a yoga block) I gave it a try, and I like it!

086

Oh, I just remembered something I wanted to share.  This month, I decided that I would get serious about learning to play the guitar.  Shortly after I mentioned it to my neighbors -one of my neighbors gave me a guitar!  She actually was talking to a store owner and mentioned that she knew someone who was looking for a guitar -and the store owner asked her to give it to me! – AND, if that was not awesome enough -another neighbor just gave me three beginner books to help me learn.  Yeyy!! I said that I wanted to learn and God is definitely making sure I do by putting nice people around me to help me with my new endeavor.

Something else, that did this month is -I gave myself a great birthday present; finally got my starter kit from the Young Living Essential Oils.  I know, I know – sounds crazy, but I absolutely love my oils (I always have!)  As far as I know, there is no better way to live than to go to bed with the wonderful aroma of essential oils.  (I only wish Jim would agree with me).

–Something else – (Yes, I probably should take notes before I sit down to write my blog) Jim and I went back to Bear Butte and we hiked it!  And I made it all the way to the top -all by my little self.  Jim decided to stop and wait for me – turns out he got tired before I did – I don’t think that had every happened before.  I think it might be thanks to my essential oils – I’m just saying! lol

081

Well, that’s it for now.  We will be on the road within the next two weeks. -so, who knows where we will be next time I post my blog.  Hugs and Hasta Luego!

085

PS.  Thank you to all of you who read my blog and my “yosoybetty7” facebook page.  Extra Hugs to you my friends!!

Sturgis, the bikes are rolling in!

b15

The bikes are rolling in, and they are loud!  The famous Sturgis Rally is happening soon, so bikers from all over the country are rolling in and making a statement.  The campground is expected to be filled up to its full capacity and beyond; I know they are not invading our space, so it’s all good. b2

The bikers seem very nice and happy, I think they just having a good time.  Some of the volunteers that have been here in years past tell me it’s a lot of fun and to enjoy the activities, but the more I think about it, I think we just might stay put in the campground and let the commotion take its course.  I think it will be fun to just watch!

Jim and I have been busy doing lots of sight-seeing again.  We managed to go visit new places and revisit some our favorites.  Our daughter came to visit, and so we wanted her to see some of our favorite places.  We took her to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Devil’s Tower, Tatanka Story of the Bison, Jewel Cave, and The Presidential Wax Museum.

b13

We also drove through the Black Hills and the Bad Lands so that she could see how beautiful this area is.  Camping was also in our itinerary, so we camped one night at the Wheels West Campground in Custer -and of course, we also had to stop at Wall Drug.  Yes, we just had to!

b7

I have so many great memories from each and every day that she was here.  It felt good to share them with her.  While in Mount Rushmore, all three of us (and a whole bunch of other veterans) were brought to the stage during the night ceremony to be honored during the lowering of the flag ceremony.  It was nice that all three of us experienced it together.  I loved it!   During our visit at Crazy Horse Memorial, we got to see a Native American man play several wind instruments.  I don’t know why, but lately -I am so in love with the pan flute music -so when I heard the music- I was immediately hypnotized by it, and loved every second of it.  (I even bought me a plan flute at Wall Drug, but of course -I am not doing a good job playing it.)

b8

The Devil’s Tower visit also ended with an adventure.  While at Devil’s Tower, we noticed that a storm was coming in.  It actually looked very eerie, but beautiful at the same time! There were some climbers up on the tower, so we stuck around for a little bit to watch them while they were very slowly descending from the top.

b14

After a little while, we realized that the storm was now very close -so we hurried to leave.  While on our drive home, we were abruptly greeted by a hail storm.  Even though, I was not happy with the hail coming down so hard on our little Fiat; I was very happy that our daughter also got to see it; she had never seen hail that big!

b5

b4

We made it home safe and sound, and so did out little Fiat.  While on the scenic drives, we saw again the many beautiful rock formations and some pretty cool wild life sightings.   Our favorite wild life sighting (by far), was the buffalo running across the field.  The buffalo was so awesome to watch, but I cannot ignore the fact that the wild donkeys and little prairie dogs also made us smile.  We had a great time!

b10

b17

I’m so happy that she was able to visit us here in Spearfish.  She stayed here for almost a week, and I was glad to hear that she was quite comfortable in the RV.  I was worried for a minute that she might not like it, but she did -and she loved the area too, so that was nice.  I want you to know that Jim was extra wonderful driving us around to so many places.  Also, our volunteer neighbors were awesome because they covered our volunteer shifts so that we could spend time with our daughter.  Also, the Black Hills VIP Pass, along with our NPS Volunteer Pass have been awesome to have.  Thanks to those passes, we have been able to enjoy so many attractions for free!

We’ve done just about everything we’ve wanted to do here in the area, so I’d say our mission of exploring the Black Hills and the Bad Lands has been fully accomplished.  Our volunteer season ends sometime in September, so we are already making plans to slowly start getting into rolling gear.  I wonder where the road will lead us. We were thinking Texas, but now it looks like we will be heading West instead.  We’ll see.

Well, that’s it for now my friends.  Hugs and Hasta Luego!

ps.  My daughter took a video of the buffalo running across the field.  It’s pretty cool, but I was not able to load it here.  To see it, click on my instagram widget on the right.

 

There is so much more beauty to explore!

bad17

Jim and I have been exploring the Black Hills and the Badlands, which is really a dream come true for us.

bad12

bad13

This area of the country is definitely beautiful! We are absolutely loving our long drives through the hills.  We have been out and about several times with the specific purpose of seeing wildlife -and we have not been disappointed.  We have been awed by the majestic buffaloes, the elk and goats; we’ve also been entertained by the silly prairie dogs (even the white ones!) and the playful goats.

Besides “just” taking longs drives, we have also been out and about and enjoying some of the venues and the many historical places in the surrounding areas.  The Needles Scenic Highway was spectacular and Bear Butte was very, very nice.  The view at the top of Bear Butte was gorgeous! The hike up to the top was only about two miles; but it was rocky, windy and kind of steep, so because of that, I would say it was a bit challenging and very exciting.

Once in a while I had to tell myself not to look down, but other than that – I enjoyed the hike very much.  In addition to the lovely views, the hike was particularly enjoyable because the trails were adorned by many colorful prayer cloths tied on to trees; they have a sacred significance, so we are not to touch them or disturb them in any way.

bad34

bad47

Somehow, they were very peaceful to look at and they gave me a sense of serenity while I was hiking. Some of those cloths have been there for a long, long time -and I could not help but wonder who and why he or she left them there.   I am sure they all have their unique and interesting story.

bad24

Jim and I bought a tent and a couple of inflatable mattresses months ago.  We figured it was time to put them to use, so we decided to go camping during our time off from volunteering.  We spent two cold nights in our tent.  We brought plenty of blankets, and way too much food, so we were fine – I am just so happy that I did not have to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I would not have been very happy about that.  I would say that our camping get-away was a success (with one exception – Jim and I managed to get on each other’s nerves) but other than that – yes, it was a success!

The second tent camping escapade was much, much more exciting!  I will start my narration by letting you know that despite our wonderful adventure; we did have to cut the trip short (by one day) shortly after chasing our tent about 150 yards due to strong gusts of winds and rain.  It may sound awful, but actually it was fun and very exciting.  I got to watch my husband chase the tent with such an athletic ability that I did not know he had.  Plus, watching him dive to the ground and actually stop the tent from rolling and flying away was priceless!  This my friends, I will never forget.

I will also not forget the beauty of the blanket of stars we witnessed at night.  I only wished I had stayed up longer.  The Badlands is such a beautiful place; we enjoyed it so much!  The buffaloes did make me nervous; they are such majestic beasts -and huge! I knew that my little Fiat would not be a match for them if they decided to get hostile.

bad8

Thank God, they did not.  I know it’s not common for them to do so, but the little voice inside me was still making me very nervous.  Jim and I did climb a hill and the view was beautiful.  Jim did great coming down so smoothly; -me, on the other hand -had to get down on my bottom and slide down as graceful as I could.  The next time Jim wanted to climb a hill, I was not brave enough to try it -but he did.  He made it to the top and even did a couple of yoga poses to make me smile.  Right then, I wished I had gone up too -Oh well, the experience was still amazing.  I feel so happy knowing there is so much more beauty to explore.

bad4

Well, that’s it for now – Hugs & Hasta Luego!

bad15

 

Note:  Websites to some of the most recent places we’ve visited in this area. ( I know I am forgetting a few)

http://www.nativesunnews.today/news/2017-05-24/Top_News/Hiking_to_top_of_Bear_Butte.html

https://www.nps.gov/jeca/planyourvisit/scenictour.htm

http://www.rushmtn.com/

https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm

http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/business/four-mile-old-west-town

We made it to the Black Hills!

0601

Where do I start? I guess, I will start by telling you that while we were in Texas, we got the call letting us know that there was a volunteer spot for us -here in South Dakota.  Coming to South Dakota has been in our bucket list for a long time!  We were already planning on coming this way anyway, but we had no idea where we would be staying or what we would be doing.  So, needless to say, I was very, very happy knowing we had a free site to stay while enjoying the beautiful Black Hills area!  Since we’ve been here, we’ve been able to go sight-seeing and enjoy the beautiful scenery all around us.  The weather, although nice, has not been as warm as we would like, but it’s not too bad. – I take advantage of it by cooking our favorite comfort foods and also by enjoying a wonderful hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, which always makes everything better.

Going back a little, I would like to tell you that our stay in Texas was awesome!  The people of Texas were admirably pleasant and welcoming.  We enjoyed visiting Texas so much, we actually plan on going back and do our stay all over again.

0608

Well, anyway…we’ve been here in South Dakota almost a month now.  Since we’ve been here, we’ve visited Devil’s tower and Mount Rushmore.  We’ve taken long drives and seen lots of scenic places, but those two visits have been the highlights -so far.  Mount Rushmore is definitely beautiful and the rock sculptures are simply amazing.  I want to go back and enjoy them all over again -maybe, next time we will actually take the audio tour, which will probably make it a lot more interesting.

0605

Devil’s tower took my breath away!  I know, I know -it’s just a big rock, but oh my!  If you have ever looked at it as close and I did, you will understand why I have no words to truly describe it.  There is no way you can convince me that we do not have a magnificent Creator.  That rock literally looks like it was crafted.  While we were hiking there, we saw several climbers using their skills to climb up to the top of the rock.  They seemed to be taking a break while we were there, so we did not hang around long enough to see them reach the top.

So, we’ve been volunteering here at the beautiful DC Booth Hatchery.  We don’t get to “work” together, but we do have the same easy schedule, which is really nice.  I primarily get to help out at the gift shop behind the counter and at the Booth House giving tours to our visitors.  I really enjoy both, I guess it’s because I enjoy meeting people, I especially like it when little ones come to get a tour.  By the time this season is over, I have a feeling I am going to be an expert tour guide; for now, I am still working on perfecting my skill.    Jim volunteers at the museum and the rail car (also giving tours)-and once in a while he gets to help to maintain the grounds, which he really likes to do.

0603

Our site at the volunteer village in the Spearfish City Park is very, very nice.  We have plenty of room in “our front yard”.  We are also right next to the volunteer community fire pit.  We are expecting to have pot lucks there from time to time, but in the meantime; Jim and I are enjoying the fire pit whenever we want to, which is generally on Friday nights.  I also love the brook running right behind the rv.

06011

I love the water noise especially when I am falling asleep or while I am relaxing in the morning after my daily workout.  The only thing I am missing for now are the wonderful and unobstructed Florida sunsets that we often enjoyed and loved in Big Cypress.   It’s ok, though – the sunsets here are beautiful too, but just not as mesmerizing because of the dense tree lines.  All the trees that get in my way to see the beautiful sunsets are the same ones that look so beautiful throughout the day and especially while on my daily morning run, so I guess I won’t hold a grudge against them.

061111

Well, this is it for now my friends.  Hugs and Hasta Luego!

0607

Want to enjoy Big Bend? This is how we did it…

bb7

We learned so much from reading other blogs, so we also wanted to help others, and decided to share what we learned after spending seven days in Big Bend National Park.

We love to be off grid.  That means no hookups, no noisy generators, wide open spaces and no neighbors.  So….Big Bend’s back country camping was just perfect for us; exactly what our doctor ordered!

Big Bend has several backcountry sites, but only a few were accessible to us.  We have a 33ft RV and tow a small Fiat500.  The backcountry permits are only $12.00 and you can use that permit for up to 14 nights on the backcountry sites!

Our trip to Big bend started in Stockton, TX (about 100 miles north of the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center.  Before our adventure in Big Bend started, we actually spent one night in the Fort Stockton Walmart.  Walmart works great for single overnight stays, plus you can also stock up and get whatever supplies you may need.  We usually will shop at Walmart as a token of our appreciation, plus -there is always something you can use or need, so why not buy from Walmart.  While in Fort Stockton, it would be a good time to consider getting free potable water from the Flying J.  If you need to dump your gray and black tanks, Flying J also has an RV dump Station which you can use for $10.00. We actually did fill up with gas and water before heading to Big Bend.  Turns out we did not need to fill up on water, as water is available in Big Bend.

bbs4

The entry fee to the National Park is $25.00.  Once in, you can purchase the backcountry permit at the visitor center for $12.00.  You cannot get them in advance and they must be purchased in person at the visitor center.  When you purchase it, you will also choose what site you want; but be warned, the one you want may not be available -but no worries, there are several sites to choose from -so you will just have to select an alternate one.  Since this was our first time visiting, we decided to let the Volunteer at the Visitor Center choose the sites for us.  (We figured, he knew the area a lot better than we did, so we just told him how many nights we wanted to stay and what size rv and car we had, and trusted that he would make a good selection for us).  You can stay up to 14 nights for $12.00 -but it has to be a single purchase.  If you decide you want to leave early before your permit expires, well then you just do -but be nice and let the visitor center know, so that they know the site is empty and they can go ahead and let someone else have it.

The first night we were there, there were no open remote sites available for us -so we ended up getting a site in one of their regular campgrounds.    Big Bend has campgrounds with hook up and no hook ups.  We stayed at one with no hook ups (Rio Grande Campground)– that was $14.00 a night.

bend1
(https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjH0-KD87bTAhVbVWMKHey0CuQQFggkMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nps.gov%2Fbibe%2Fplanyourvisit%2Frgv_hookups.htm&usg=AFQjCNHZXIPZGPhwOWhr22sRfhvU8ivR7A&sig2=gYItQtDSXxIDQrU-BLX2yw ) no

Some of the sites at the Rio Grande campground can be reserve -others are walk ups.  There is a “no generator” section.  The next time we go to Big Bend (We do plan on going again) We will reserve a site there for the first night so we can dump and fill up with water at that campground.   Then, there would be no need to fill up water at the Flying J. I would still top off my fuel there or at the Walmart in Fort Stockton.

The Rio Grande campground is very nice, there are some walking trails close to the border crossing in the little tiny Mexican town.

bbs1

From there, we headed to our first, and best backcountry site. Grapevine Springs (site one). This very private site is located close to the center of the park with easy access to everything in the park. It is about a 1/4 mile drive (down a well maintained gravel road).

 bbs3
Next on our list was Nine Point Draw. This site is located on the north side of the park, near the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center. It is also pretty easy to get in.  The gravel road leading to the site is NOT marked.  It is about 1 mile south of the Dog Canyon and Devil’s Den trailhead. If you miss the road coming from the south, you will need to go all the way to visitor center (maybe 5 miles?) to turn around (do not ask how we know).   If you miss it coming from the north, you got a bit of a drive (about 15 miles) before you can turn around (if you are driving an RV). This site is in a very remote and isolated site

bend2

The hike to Dog Canyon and Devil’s Den are nice (each is about 4 miles -round trip).  This is the perfect place to just be alone -and enjoy the desert.

After that we headed to Croton Springs, site one. This site has two sites located at a trailhead that almost nobody uses. You may have a camper located on the site near you, but is still pretty isolated.  It is a nice location for exploring the west and south ends of the park.  Pretty easy in, for both the RV and the Fiat. There are coyotes nearby; we did not see them, but we did hear them (nice and loud) two of the three nights.  The only wildlife we saw there was jack rabbits; at least that what we think they were.

Out last spot was supposed to be K Bar, site two. We had some free time before we were supposed to be there and took the Fiat to check out the site.  We quickly learned that the RV would be ok going in there, but not the Fiat.  The Fiat is too small.  It would have been ok if we were towing a jeep or a truck, but not the fiat.  The terrain was just too rough.  We would have probably stayed there had it not been for the fact that we like to go out and explore.  That would mean, the Fiat would have to go in and out several times and we decided we did not want to do that to our little Fiat

We never it made it all the way to the site.  The Fiat was taking a beating, so we decided to turn around and not to use that site this time.

So -with that in mind, we decided that after 7 days and in need of a water refill and a dump, we would skip K Bar and leave Big Bend.

You can purchase gas in the park at two locations. One near Rio Grande Campground, and one near the Center of the park. They are a little pricey, but considering the convenient locations, they are not too bad.  By filling up the RV in Fort Stockton, we did not need gas except for the Fiat and that thing uses very little gas.

Do not try to take a large rig (over 20 ft) to Chisos Basin.  It is strongly discouraged, and it would just not be a good idea.

Again, if you leave and still have a site on your backcountry permit, stop in the visitor center and let them know you are leaving. That way others may use the site. I would suggest getting more sites than you think you need since it is 12 dollars for 14 days and cost nothing to turn give the sites back, I think that if you get 7 nights and decide you want to stay longer you need to go back and do the 12 bucks again and go through getting a new permit.

Note:  While in Big Bend, we did venture and went Boquillas del Carmen, which is a tiny town in Mexico and we also went to Terlingua, which is a little Texan town.

I suppose that if you have your passport and if you want a Donkey ride and Mexican Food, well then go ahead and go to Mexico.  For us, the trip was nice, but not something we would absolutely recommend.

The town of Terlingua was not much better either.  They do have several shops for tourists and we did enjoy browsing in there, but again -it was not great enough for us to recommend it to you.

Final note:   Drink lots and lots of water.

map: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/maps.htm

bbs5

Hugs & Hasta Luego!

Our Big Bend Story…

bb3

Big Bend, It’s incredibly majestic.  The views are phenomenal and the dark skies are breathtaking.  But…the elevation and the dry heat, well that’s new to us, so it took us a few days to get used to it.  We knew it would, so it was no big deal.  Staying hydrated seems to be a little bit of a challenge.  The dry heat is deceiving since we do not really feel like we a sweating.  That is actually good, but we can get dehydrated very quickly if we are not paying attention.  We been out and about a lot, but we have also have had plenty of down time relaxing and enjoying the scenery.  Big Bend has a border crossing station, so we ventured and walked over to the Mexican side.

bb23bb24bb25

The border town was significantly smaller than I had imagined.  But it was OK, I was in Coahuila, Mex, which happens to be very close to my heart since that’s the sate I was born in.  For a minute, my heart beat faster thinking that I may be able to travel to my beloved Torreon; but my dream was quickly crushed as the young lady at the immigration booth told me that the road to Torreon was highly dangerous.  The little town we visited is Boquillas del Carmen.

bb33bb31

It’s people’s main source of income comes from the tourists that visit it.  The moment we crossed the Rio Grande, we were surrounded by little children selling their crafts.  They were so, so cute; they were not shy at all; they have mastered their courteous sales tactics; I guess, they have to in order to make ends meet, but I really don’t know.  Maybe, like me as a young kid.  I just loved to sell everything I could put my hands on.  I was not shy either.  Oranges, popcorn, candy, chocolates -you name it.  I was the go to person for that.  So anyway, yes…when I saw the little ones, I immediately connected, and it made me feel good.  Going in, we had the option of hiring a “guide”, taking a donkey, horse or truck ride into town, but we did not choose any -we decided to hike down the dirt road.  The tiny town had a little church (with no scheduled time for the services – they just happen when the priest arrives); the school was empty (it was Easter Sunday), but we did go to take a look at it.  There were two restaurants, we later found out that they are owned by the same person.  We also found out, that although they are owned by the same person, we had obviously made the wrong restaurant selection.  It was still ok…the food was good; but not as delicious as I had hoped for.  We had rice, beans, tamales and enchiladas -and not one thing was better than my own.  (So, there -even though Jim does not always approve of my cooking, I know I am a pretty good cook).  We did not stay at Boquillas very long, we decided to head back, which was a good thing considering it suddenly began to get crowded by the tourists invading the little town.

 

bb27

Back in Big Bend.  We were mainly sightseeing; this park is gigantic.  We been walking here and there, but we have done four major hikes.  The most notable of the two was the Santa Elena Canyon and the Emory Peak in Chisos Mountain.  The Santa Elena hike was very pretty with lots of scenic views, nothing too strenuous; it was very enjoyable, and it would have been more so if I had not made the mistake of wearing my sunglasses and my regular shoes.  I also did not take my walking stick, which would have been very, very helpful.

bb14

Going up the hill was ok as long as I did not look down too often.  My sunglasses were protecting me from bright sun but it was not doing much for my vision.  I still enjoyed it, but I had to be extra, extra careful on the way up.  On this one, I did keep up with Jim, which is not always easy.  I know he does not believe me; but my little feet and short legs are no match for his.  Even when he walks slow, I still have to take about three steps for one of his.

The hike to the Emory Peak in Chisos Mountain is one we will not forget.  Jim gave me every opportunity to get out of it, but I couldn’t.  We had been talking about doing it since the moment we got here and I also wanted to challenge myself.  This time, both of us made sure to wear comfortable clothing, good hiking shoes, walking sticks and plenty of water (more than I wanted to carry).  Knowing that there would be plenty of people in the trail, we decided that we would each walk at our own pace.  Jim made sure to tell me not to try to keep up with him and not to do anything I did not feel comfortable doing.  We started at about 8:30 am.  The weather was cool and breezy.

bb21

Jim quickly disappeared from my sight, but strangely enough I did not feel any concern.  As quickly as Jim disappeared from my sight, so did my energy.  The trail was long and narrow, when someone wanted to pass me, I had to move to the side.  At first I wanted to walk faster as to not to have to move out of the way, but I decided to just let them pass. As I hiked up along the trail, I began to see man made steps; at first, they were a welcomed sight because I thought they would actually help me, but I quickly discovered that the “steps” were becoming my nemesis as they began to get higher and higher.

bb5bb22

I suppose that if I had longer legs, they would not have been a problem, but instead of the stairs helping me -they became more of an obstacle.  No big deal, I can handle it.  Yes, I can!  So there, I went -going and going.  I stopped along the way to take pictures (at least that’s what I kept telling myself) in reality, I was stopping to take a break.  Fortunately, the breeze still felt wonderful and there were plenty of shaded areas to stop and take a big deep breath and just enjoy the beautiful views.  The damn steps were never ending and suddenly it occurred to me that at some point I would have to also come down using them.  Oh no!! My depth perception with my glasses is horrendous….but -for now, I decided to not think about that and continue on up, I had already made it far enough that it would make no sense to stop.  I was tired, but considering how long I had been going up, I thought I was feeling and doing pretty good.  From time to time, I was catching up with Jim, but only because he was taking a break (I really think, he was just stopping long enough to make sure I was OK and still on track)  I was also seeing other hikers struggling on the way up.  Yeah, they were passing me, but I did not care.  They were half my age and their legs were longer than mine.  Yes, it was a personal challenge, but I could not help comparing my stamina to the rest of the hikers.  Their facial expressions were very encouraging, I guess it’s true.  Misery loves company…well, actually no it’s not.  I was just happy to know that I was not being a wimp, that in fact…this trail was difficult.

This went on for a while until suddenly I heard people talking, and they sounded happy!  Yeah, I am so close!! But wait, what is that?? The hill suddenly began to get even steeper, the trail and the steps were gone! Now, it was just a pile of huge rocks.  I was literally climbing, not hiking anymore…..and yes, then I saw Jim and the other five hikers that had previously passed me.  They were all trying to figure out how to get to the top.  A young lady was climbing like a spider all over the place trying to help the others to figure out the best way to get up there.  She had already been all the way to the top, but wanted to help the others.  Jim went up just a tad bit higher than I was, and he quickly realized that that was it for him; and with that, I decided that was it for me too.  We were so close!!! But the risk was way bigger than the reward, so we came back down.  Going back was way easier, even with my depth perception issues….unfortunately, I was very, very tired.  I was feeling good, just tired.  I was cursing the load I was carrying (water and walking stick), but then I realized they were my blessings because I am sure I would not have made it up and down without them.  Instead of thinking about how tired I was, I began to feel thankful for everything I could think of.  Our child, our parents, Jim, my walking stick, my shoes, my feet…you name it.  Everything was beautiful again and I took my time coming down from that mountain.

bb7

Aaaah, and when I finished; I felt amazing!!!!  Jim was done way before I did, and so he was waiting for me with a bottle of Gatorade in his hand.  It was the best Gatorade ever!!!  Woww! After all the mixed emotions, I was actually feeling amazing!  Was I ready to do it again? No, not really.  Not this week anyway.   The hike was definitely a challenge, and yes, I am inspired to keep on challenging myself.

bb1.jpg

I am actually surprised that both of us are doing very well, we were both thinking that we would surely be super sore the next day, but we are not -not any more than usual.

We left Big Bend today.  Now, we are our way to South Dakota.  I cannot wait to find out what’s in store for us.    For now, that it.  Hugs and Hasta Luego

Ps.  Sometime during our hike, a man had to be rescued from the mountain.  I don’t think he was attempting the big hike, but within the first two miles or so, he went down and could not get up again.  Luckily there was a worker doing some kind of trail maintenance who was able to radio in help for him.  The Rangers (Back Country paramedics and first responders) took about 45 minutes to get there. Ultimately, the man had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital and his wife had to drive several hours to meet him there.  I am telling you, I did not see all this in action; but Jim did and talked to his wife -and he tells me that those first responders did an outstanding job.  They also had to hike their way in and carry the man out on a one wheeled stretcher.  It was not easy.  Boy, now more than ever I am hoping the funding for the National Parks is not messed with.  It’s true….Park Rangers do Rock!

bb49

A Storm!! Now, What?

bend1

We’ve been in Big Bend National Park for a few days and had seen many storms brewing off in the distance.  We’ve been getting little rain here and there, but never lasting long at all.  No surprise there, since we’ve been told that this area does not get much rain at all.  Well, yesterday was not much different.  We could see a storm approaching but did not take it as seriously as we should have.  We did bring in the awning as we normally do.  We came inside knowing it would not last long.  As usual, we left our lawn chairs outside, not thinking much of it.  It did not take very long for us to become alarmed as the wind was howling, so Jim immediately brought in the slides.

bend2

The wind began to get stronger and stronger, blowing at about 50 miles an hour.  Not long after that the RV began to rock from side to side.   The rain was pouring, but that was not the worst.  We could hear hail dropping on us like bullets.  The wind was so strong that the rain water began to make its way in, bubbling in through the window seals on the passenger side.  We had plenty of towels, so we managed to quickly place them in such a way as to soak up the water to prevent any more water from coming in.  The storm lasted a while; thank God, we had daylight.  While inside Jim kept checking the weather radar and both of us kept on the lookout for any funnel cloud formation.  Again, thank God there were none.  I did not want to have to leave the RV behind and try to make a quick escape in the little Fiat.  And, the way it was looking – that did not even seem like a viable option.  Actually, the bear proof box was looking like our only option for a safe place to ride in the storm.  Fortunately, the storm came and left with hardly any damage done.  We did have to go for a walk to find one of our tire covers and did find two little dings on the body of the RV but nothing very noticeable -so all in all, we are very thankful, and are taking it as a learning experience and has inspired me to write this in an effort to create a list of the things we need to do in the future.

bend

  1. At all times, check the weather app and keep our eyes on the clouds to make sure they are not becoming dangerous.
  2. Know in advance what we are going to do if the situation worsens (find a safe shelter or drive away)
  3. Make sure cells phones are charged.
  4. Bring in the awning, tv antenna and the slides.
  5. Make sure all our outside doors and windows are locked.
  6. Do not leave anything outside (chairs, floor mats, tire covers, etc.)
  7. Make sure nothing will get in our way in case we need to roll or evacuate. (inside and out)
  8. Make sure that if we have to leave, to take what you need with us (prescriptions, money, phone)
  9. Have towels handy to soak up any water coming in.
  10. Once the coast is clear, inspect for any damage.

One of the reasons why we are able to concentrate our efforts in these few items, it’s because we (as full time RVers) have already decided to keep our home ready to roll at a moment’s notice, and for that I have been thankful many times.

Well, that it for now; I am going to enjoy the bright blue sky or maybe do a sewing project.   Hugs and Hasta Luego!

Ps.  This was but one day here in the beautiful Big Bend National Park.  Soon, I will be telling you about the rest of our adventure here.  So far (besides the storm), it has been wonderful and very peaceful.  We have secured several remote camping sites, so we are getting to see different areas of this amazing park.

Good bye Big Cypress!!

007

I have so much to tell you.  So much has happened since my last post; but before I tell you some of it, I will start by saying that tomorrow -we will be rolling away from this beautiful place.  This has been a tremendous experience.  We have learned so much and we’ve done so much more, all of which has been so much fun and rewarding.  Yes, everything!

Panthers, alligators, sharks, birds, bugs, trees and flowers – I will not ever look at them the same way ever again!  I have always loved nature, but when we started to actually learn more about God’s amazing creatures; somehow their magnificence begins to shine brighter!

I guess, this will be a good time to tell you a little bit of what we’ve done since my last post.   To start with, I conquered my fear of snakes and overcame my disgust for bugs.  Yes, I actually handled a big python, grabbed it by the neck and put it in a bag!  Bugs, well -those I just ate!  I have no idea specifically what kinds of bugs I ate.  They were fried, others covered in chocolate, so they were unrecognizable.  No, I will not try them again unless I absolutely have to, which I do not foresee that happening anytime soon.

We also, joined a scientist on an exciting trip to study squirrels.  No, we did not see any; but it was still fun going out on a buggy ride, hiking through some dense trails, setting up game cameras and leaving a tasty treat for the squirrels.  I hate to admit it, but the most exciting part of the trip was when a hail storm caught us by surprise.  Let me tell you, getting hit by penny size hail was no fun at all, but the experience will always be memorable.

0027

Something else, we got to do was -going out to look for ghost orchids.  If you ever heard of them, you will probably know that they are extremely rare.  They are so rare that when found by the rangers, their location is never ever disclosed to the general public.  We did not get to see any in bloom, but we did find some that were about to bloom.

Something else, I got to do was visit the Naples Botanical Garden!  That place was also beautiful!  I won’t tell you much but here are some pictures.

Well, I am sure I have so much more to share but I really need to get back to packing.

Today, we are tying loose ends and getting ourselves ready to roll tomorrow.  We did take the time to enjoy one more magnificent sunset here in Big Cypress.  We invited our neighbors to come over tonight and enjoy some time with us before we leave.  They did come and we had a very nice time, and the sun did give us a great show!

Well, that’s it for now folks.  Hugs and Hasta Luego!!

ps.  Note to self:  Remember Pluto!  This little student was a perfect example of “Soy Yo”.