All Sunshine Makes a Desert

PHOENIX!!! We parked our booties at West World right next to the polo fields. West World is a large event complex that’s owned by the city of Scottsdale. They host horse shows, polo tournaments, and other great big things. Guess what had just wrapped up before we got there! No, that wasn’t happening. That either. You know what, let me just tell you: BARRETT JACKSON! The auction with all the fanciest cars in the world had just ended on the 22nd (darn) and most of the cars had not been shipped yet so the view to the right was the coolest.


Nevermind the glorious mountains

All week long we watched them load up the most incredible cars that we’ll probably never see again. Check out this coke truck, complete with glass bottles:


One of the other RV’s about three spots down had Evel Knievel’s F150 parked next to it. It was purchased from Barrett Jackson back in 2011 and the owner brought it there to show it off while he undoubtedly looked around for more treasures.

We also saw lots and lots of airplanes go by while we were there as we were super close to the airport. On the first day some fighter jets flew overhead doing aileron rolls. Later in the week there was a red biplane that circled the area for a good hour.

Justin’s cousin Micah lives in downtown Phoenix so we were able to spend a really good amount of time with him that week. We all went to the Capitol museum together on Saturday.

On our way back to the truck we passed through a ton of memorials in the park across the road. The USS Arizona was one of them of course, and this one caught my eye:

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a memorial specific to Enduring Freedom. The memories of war efforts of the early 2000’s are especially poignant. Justin is still suffering the ill-effects of  his participation, some of which will never go away. Thankfully all of the men and women in his unit came home with him from both deployments. Even so, I’m appreciative that in a little park in Arizona people can pause a moment and show some gratitude for the ones who passed before us in the name of justice for all.

We also hung out with Justin’s Uncle Dana and Aunt Brenda that weekend! They are extremely knowledgeable in minerals, shells, and fossils. Their home houses many excellent examples of all of the above. We had fun ogling their collection! Uncle Dana was able to identify some things we’d collected and been hauling around in a bucket, some of which we’ve had since last July. They also took us all out to dinner at great place called A&M Pizza in Florence, AZ. The proprietors picked this location out in the middle of nowhere-ish in honor of their Grandfather who was from Florence, Italy. Delicious pizza and great company made for an excellent day!

What else happened that week? I let life get the best of me and yelled at a lady who let her dog pee on the water spigot next to our camper. She told me that she had no control over where her LEASHED dog went. I won’t go any further into the details of that “conversation” but I will say that everyone should take a valuable lesson away from this: if your water source is near the ground, it has pee on it.

The rest of our time in Scottsdale was spent relaxing, washing the camper and truck (it was caked in cow poop from who knows where), visiting the local science center, and being stuck in traffic over and over again. I cannot tell you how many red lights were ran or how many people tried to run us off of the road in Phoenix, mostly because there were too many to count. “Too many to count” is such a lame phrase. Everything can be counted, Lori, get your act together. Just know that the shoddy drivers were ubiquitous and we were not amused. *sigh*

The good outweighed the minor troubles, though. Family visits are the best and the mountains and weather made for a gorgeous week.


Pro-tip for everyone lucky enough to live in a state with prevalent 7-Elevens: They sell these little books for $5 and they contain twenty coupons, each good for a small Slurpee. A 25 cent Slurpee makes everyone’s day!

Our next stop after Phoenix was nowhere. I mean, it was somewhere, technically California, but it was really nowhere. We ended up parked in the desert two miles from the Mexican/US border, with the freeway in the distance, on a Bureau of Land Management site called Pilot Knob. At least I think we were on it.


We just kind of picked a spot to the side of a road that wasn’t on the map and set up camp. We have a generator and a large water tank so we’re mostly prepared for boondocking. We could probably last quite a while if we used paper plates and never took a shower. One night was all that we needed at that point, although, I would not mind going back there again for a few days. The kids had a blast running around in the wide open space, collecting small rocks, and drawing in the dirt but NOT TURNING OVER ANY LARGER ROCKS, FOR THE LOVE OF SNAKES. Once night took hold we stepped outside. The sky was phenomenal! I almost wish we had let the kids stay up late to see it. Almost. Also worth noting: the Mexican border was lit up like Christmas.


Don’t tell me what to say, google!

In the next installment of “This is Our Life” we continue on over to San Diego County! Stay tuned!


The road has been A-OK

16409386_10154873894943548_73649369_oWhere were we? Ah yes, Dallas. We were actually staying in Lavon on a pretty little lake of the same name. Five days of sickness made for not a lot of adventure. Wesson managed to bash his front, permanent tooth on the slide at the playground just to add a little variety to life. Thankfully it did not fall out.

The last day in town we decided to go find something noteworthy to stare at. We ended up at the Dallas Museum of Art because the playground we were trying to go to was closed for repairs. Y’know what? The best places we’ve ever visited have been on the fly. The museum was FANTASTIC! It was such a diverse collection and it flowed well. It was very easy to walk through. Four floors of amazing pieces; from sculptures and paintings to furniture and clothing. Some pieces were thousands of years old. They even had some scavenger hunts for the kids to complete that brought them to some works they’d probably never have given a second look.

The most noteworthy finds for us were two paintings by Claude Monet. Mara had just been studying Monet and for her to find some water lilies made her day (and mine too). The visit definitely opened our eyes to the fact that we’ve been glossing right over the art museums and not giving them a chance. They’re on our radar now, and we’ll be making time.

Next, we wandered over to Deep Ellum Brewery. The Deep Ellum area is a colorful neighborhood. There are murals and art installations all over and small businesses aplenty. The brewery itself was the work of some really creative minds. Take a look:

Sunday the 22nd we packed up and hit the road for some serious movement. The target distance is usually about 250 miles or less. That might not seem like a lot if you’re like us old people and you’re used to driving straight through, all night, 1,000 miles at a time to wherever you want for no apparent reason. With kids and house in tow this dance has become a lesson in patience. Get up at 0700, leave at 0900, get to wherever we’re going before 1600 and set up so that dinner can be made and bedtime can be standard. With these short jaunts somewhat planned out we were also able to fit in a little sightseeing at our stopping points.

The first hop was to a Texas State Park called Copper Breaks. This was a poor choice. The place was so damn beautiful and quiet and I wish we had not even stopped because I wanted to stay there much, much longer than the 17 hours we had allowed. The canyons were vividly colored with green copper breaks and red rock. A photo could never do it justice. I climbed atop the camper just to see as far as I possibly could with my camera.


The picnic tables were covered in these cute little teepees.


And the STARS! OH, THE STARS! The park was so black and the sky was so, so bright. It felt as though anyone could have reached out and ran their fingers through the constellations. The only other people in our campground loop were the camp hosts (from Minnesota) who could not have been nicer. I’m actually disappointed that we didn’t get to hang out with them a bit more.

Our next stop was supposed to be Amarillo, but when we checked the weather our entire route was being bamboozled by weather that was not conducive to hauling your house behind you. Amarillo had 55 mph winds, Albuquerque had snow, White Sands was supposed to be 45 degrees… if only somebody had checked the weather before we left. Way to go, self. So, we sadly routed ourselves to Elida, New Mexico instead and turned on the seat warmers. We got about 30 minutes down the road a realized we’d have to go through Amarillo anyway. “Let’s just see what the weather is like when we get there.” It was WARM and SUNNY! It was a tad windy, but who cares?!


On the way we stopped at a little town square to eat lunch. It was the town of Estelline, Texas, population 136. It was the perfect set-up for us. Big, wide streets for the camper, a picnic area for lunch time, and space for little people to run in circles. It also had a post office with extremely inaccurate scales. That’s scales, plural. We kept our mail that day.

We pulled into a little campground named A-OK that was on the outskirts of town. I never saw another set of people in this park, FYI. Payment was on the honor system: cash through the slot in the door at whatever rate you chose off the list. The place was covered in dog poop.


Menacing looking emu

They had a menacing looking emu (truthfully they always look menacing), a donkey, and two alpacas behind a suggestion of a fence. They offered a full hook up for less than $13, though, so I really can’t complain too much. It was A-OK.

We did some super cool stuff in Amarillo and I’ll tell you ALLL about it after bedtime. Or tomorrow. Maybe Friday?

Don’t call me Dorothy



The second largest live oak tree in the world is behind that fence. Neat.

Here’s my attempt to write things down before “HOLY CRAP I FORGOT TO WRITE STUFF DOWN” sets in. I’m making an effort, people; Be proud of me. I’m doing this while riding down the bumpy freeway. I’m sure I’ll catch the typos later.

This week we were in Rockport, Texas at Goose Island State Park. The park had A LOT going for it in terms of scenery.

One heck of a front yard

Every night was a new, more beautiful sunset, the kind that make you sigh heavily, relax all the way down to your soul, sink in your chair, and wonder what you did to deserve such a watercolor-painted sky. “It  certainly can’t get better than this.” Oh, but it does.


The kids fished in their front yard EVERY. DAY. They caught nothing but fun. There were few fish who wanted to make friends with the fishermen.

Even the seasoned anglers were having trouble. One nice woman gave my kids an anatomy lesson on a flounder she’d caught. I saw one other fish that week and it was a Wesson-sized behemoth someone had caught offshore. They all had fun casting and reeling anyway. Mara used her time to collect shells and fall face first into the water. She wanted to test her life vest, I guess. Thankfully she was in about two feet of bay and just gave the water a smooch, catching herself with her arms. No tears, just a lots of PTOOEY-ing and laughing.

We took advantage of the awesome weather one day and hit the nearby beach. It was a weekday so except for the occasional runner it was blissfully quiet.

The kids ended up acquiring a kite along our travels in Michigan. Justin happened to grab it on the way out the door that day but failed to bring the kite string. Wesson’s fishing pole was the cure. It was a very Dad solution. This will be the only way we fly kites from now on.

We also took the ferry to Port Aransas! They had five big ferries running. We were first on the boat both times so we had a big, wide window to see all that was happening. Fun fact: all the boats were named after state roadway engineers. We had the GPS running the first time through and when the boat started moving, the Garmin lady said “in one-quarter mile, exit the ferry.” It gave me a “hah!”

We took the kids to the University of Texas Marine Science Education Center. They had some wonderful hands on things to do and some saltwater fish habitats to explore. There was a telescope set up to look at a nearby lighthouse and we ended up seeing a pod of dolphins as well!

Just inside the doorway was the jawbone of a giant whale. As we were investigating a woman who was hurrying by stopped to talk to the kids. She shared a tidbit and acted like she had to go but then talked to them about the dolphins, then a whale skull, constantly trying to get away yet sucking herself back in, like she had an uncontrollable urge to share and educate. My guess is that she was a professor and probably a parent. We roamed in the wetland education center as well and peered at different birds.


We drove on the actual beach next to the actual Gulf in our monster truck.

Some creative driving inspired us to order a HOONIGAN sticker for the truck.

We managed to get the kids to walk out on the South Jetty into the Gulf of Mexico. It was a little chilly and a lot windy so we didn’t go fishing but it is on the list for next time.


We had plans to bring the camper here and spend two nights living on the beach but the weather had other plans. Saturday was the end of our reservation in Goose Island which was fine because that spot was so incredibly windy and a hail storm was coming. Storms rolled into the area on Friday and as of now it is still raining.

Our next scheduled spot was in Galveston Island State Park and they were getting tornadoes. We strongly considered going to Mexico because it was dry and warm and they have tacos. We opted to just go inland a bit and ride out the angry sky. Goliad state park was our new heading and it was perfect. Our benchmark for perfection is rather low, though. It had a full hook up (sewer, water, and 50 amp electric) and a level, pull-through spot. If you’ve ever been in a RV here’s where you say “ahhh, paradise.” It rained the entire time and threatened to flood but a least there were no tornadoes. The park had plenty of historical sites to explore and I wouldn’t mind coming back here again when it’s dry. That’s probably the worst part about traveling when there is inclement weather. I wanted to see all the things and all the things were wet.



These guys pulled into the park and just about made my day. They ended up parking across the street from us and left the next day before I could ask them any of the many, many questions I had.

We’re now at Lake Conroe RV Resort just north of Houston. THEY HAVE A KROGER NEARBY! I am way too excited about a grocery store, but if you’ve ever shopped at a small town, hole in the wall grocery before you know the struggle. Give me my normalcy, please. Moving on…

We are here because Justin’s parents bought the family a membership to mother-freakin’ Johnson Space Center. As in, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” The place where they run the International Space Station. The original mission control. I’m not excited at all. We plan to spend the next few days immersed in NASA. You WILL hear about it, whether you like it or not.

Friday we head back to San Antonio to set up camp at Medina Lake again. My mom and my brother are coming down for a visit and to watch the midgets while Justin has hernia surgery at the Veteran’s hospital. All that is for another day. For now, enjoy the sunset.

“When twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star, remember that you have a friend, though she may wander far” – L.M. Montgomery