Monday, April 25, 2016

New Mexico & Arizona

The Cameron Clan at The Grand Canyon, Arizona

We were happy to leave Texas and it's extreme weather behind.
Next, we travel west towards the coast, but first we must travel through the desert. 
Bring it on New Mexico.

So we traveled west along the freeway 40 through miles upon miles of abandoned, dry wasteland looking desert. Dan kept mentioning to me that he couldn't believe that people actually traveled west in covered wagons through this terrain. Yeah, I'm pretty glad that we are traveling in our comfortable truck on paved roads thank you very much.

Anyway, we made it to the Kirkland Air Force Base after about 5 hours of driving and set up camp. Yep, we were in the southwest alright. The drought resistant landscape and varying shades of earth brown covered everything. I was afraid that maybe the weather would be hot but on the contrary, it was in the lovely 60's most days.

While we were in Albuquerque, we visited The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science where they had a kick-ass dinosaur exhibit. Our boys are really into dinosaurs right now, so it seemed like the natural choice.

Here is the entrance to the dino exhibit. The boys won't look at the camera.
The boys under some GIANT dinosaur bones.
Daniel is giving me the thumbs up. He likes the museum.
Again, the boys won't look at me, but are super excited to see this sea dinosaur.
We are the only people in The Planetarium getting ready to see a movie about our planet. Unfortunately, they were having technical problems so we didn't get to see it. Next time...

We also drove through Musical Road and heard the song  play. It was kinda cool. We enjoyed New Mexico and when it was time to leave it was hard to leave our little home we made while we were there. It's like that when we stay some place for two weeks or longer.

The drive through Arizona was completely different. The landscape changed as soon as we crossed the border.

Here is the approaching Arizona border. 
This is right before the Arizona Welcome Center.
I loved the train against the mesas. Very southwest.

We arrived in Williams, Arizona (just outside of Flagstaff) in the afternoon and set-up our trailer. We were here to visit my Uncle Danny and Aunt Char. They have a lovely ranch style home here in beautiful Williams. Until I began looking for accommodations, I had no idea that we would basicly be staying right outside The Grand Canyon. Bonus!

Tomorrow, we would visit with my family and then the next day, we would be going to see The Grand Canyon.

So we went to my Aunt and uncle's house for dinner and it was great. My uncle Danny BBQ'd chicken, steak and short ribs. I really missed my families BBQ No one can BBQ like the Trevino's. We talked, ate and relaxed. Wonderful. I missed my family so much and now I'm really excited to see the rest of my family in San Diego.

My Uncle Danny and Dan talking after dinner.
My Aunt Char cleaning up. I'm terrible at taking pictures when I'm enjoying myself.

After a restful night, we dared to make the  30 minute drive o The Grand Canyon. Here is the gate to get in. This was the second time we got to utilize Dan's free national park pass. The entry was completely free. Sweet!

After finding parking, we walked to the visitors center, checked the map, then headed to the viewing area. It's crazy! We just walked a few feet and BAM! There was The Grand Canyon. Super accessible.

The boys hanging on the rail.
Look at that view
Dan and my Selfie
Daniel posing for this panoramic picture :)
Long way down!
Look at these cuties!

My Guys!
Family picture outside the visitors center.

We had a lovely time visiting The Grand Canyon and we were super fortunate that it wasn't the busy tourist season. Dan told me that he came here once before hoping to see The Grand Canyon but the line of cars were so long, there was no way he could get in.

We were acctually planning on leaving Williams today and travel to Yuma for the last stop before arriving in San Diego, but there was a serious wind advisory that made the drive unsafe today. That's ok we'll leave tomorrow. 

We knew it was going to be windy, but we didn't expect SNOW!

I had to pull out my snow gear to walk to the front office to pay for another night.
Weather is funny!

The next post will be from SAN DIEGO baby!

Leaving Texas

Everything is BIGGER in Texas!

Longview, Texas was definitely a great place to stay this past month and before we left, we decided we needed to try the local Kilgore Crawfish Boil located a few minutes away. It's just a simple shack that sells local favorites like alligator, frog legs and crawfish. 

We were met by Dan's friend Dave, Daves coworker and his wife. It was casual and friendly. Dan and I both ordered the 2lb crawfish boil with a side of frog legs because, why not?

Our spread of food
Caiden loved the frog legs, or as he called them "chicken"

We left Longview the following morning and drove to Sunset, Texas to rest up for the next leg of our journey. We stayed at Sunset RV Park where they actually offered FREE laundry! I wished I hadn't just done like 6 loads of laundry before we left Longview. Anyway, it was a wonderful little town with a lovely couple running the RV park and we would definitely stay there again if we passed through there again.

Ultimately we headed towards Albuquerque, New Mexico to stay at the Kirkland Air Force Base. We plan to stay there a couple of weeks and get out taxes done just before the deadline.

Before we arrived in Albuquerque, we needed to stop around Amarillo, Texas which is the halfway point so we could rest and relax before heading back on the road. I just happened to read the latest weekly newsletter from (a family of four who have been traveling full-time for several years now) and apparently they were staying in Amarillo for the next few days. 

It was too big of a coincidence! It was Awesome! 

Let me explain...They were one of the first full-time travel family's I read about like 3 years ago when I was still just dreaming of traveling with my own family. I dutifully read their blog dreaming of my own family travel some day. Once I actually hit the road full time with my own family, I even thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be great to meet this pioneering family on the road?" 

I wasted no time. I contacted them to see if they would even be interested in meeting up with my sorta groupie/crazy self and as it turns out, they were. 

We met up at the Oasis RV Park (right next to the Cadillac Ranch). We met Mike, Crissa, and Miranda Boyink of the Ditching Suburbia crew. They have a 19 year old son Harrison, who has recently left the full time travel life to work a full time job back in their hometown of Holland, Michigan, so it was just the three of them. 

They were so laid back and relatable. It's obvious that the carefree vagabond lifestyle of full time travel has left them able and willing to connect with perfect strangers. They treated us as if they had known us for years and I was grateful for the opportunity to have met them.

The wind was blowing really hard here and we were all just trying to hurry up and take the picture 

While we were in Amarillo, we had to stop at the World Famous Big Texan Steak Ranch home of the 72oz steak challenge. If you can eat the 72oz steak as well as a few accompaniments, your meal is FREE. 

Here is the front of the restaurant. 

No, we did not attempt the 72oz steak challenge, but Dan did order a big steak and I enjoyed a delicious chicken sandwich. The boys ordered the kids meal and they came with cowboy hats that they got to take home with them. Wow! 

Her's out delicious food.
Howdy there cowboy!
Here is a view of the restaurant from our table.
I made the boys pose for this picture outside the restaurant. They were not thrilled, lol.
Daniel in front of the famous bull.

When we got home from the restaurant, the wind started picking up and by that night, we were wrestling 70 mile an hour winds that felt like a tornado. I had just put Caiden to sleep and Daniel was still up when the strong winds hit our trailer.

Our trailer rocked and shook. Was this something to be afraid of? Yes. Dan began strategizing our escape plan to a tornado safe building several yards away and I was slightly panicked. I had my shoes on and my children's shoes in a pile with my purse on the couch. I was ready. Time ticked by and I didn't put Daniel to sleep at his bedtime--it was better is if he was awake when we had to bolt for shelter.

After what seemed like forever, the high winds died down to a more normal level and Dan and I took a deep breath, finally relieved we didn't have to run for shelter while our tiny home became wreckage. We've never been so terrified of Mother Nature. Thank goodness we were leaving in the morning.

Next stop...Albuquerque, New Mexico!