For a variety of reasons (a delay with the solar power installation, trouble having the tow system set up, and an unexpected surgery, etc.), we ended up not leaving until New Years Day. While the concept of starting the new year with a new beginning certainly has some symmetry and romance to it, the reality of going RVing in Colorado on January 1st fell somewhere shy of romantic. A couple of days before we left, the temperature was -24F, but as we were actually leaving, it had warmed up to 10F above.
|The day before departure|
Our RV (since named Daisy), ran like a champ, and really the only problem that the cold caused, was that we weren't able to fill our water tank so we weren't able to use the sink, toilet, or shower.
When we left my parent's house in Greeley, CO at about noon, it was sunny, with a clear forecast, but by the time we got to South Denver the skies were grey and thick with snow. I-25 was icy and snow-packed from Centennial over Monument Pass to Colorado Springs. Towing a car for the first time while driving in the snow made for a white knuckle experience, but we took it slow and didn't have any problems. We got to Pueblo, CO well after dark, and crunched through the ice to a small RV park.
The next morning was shockingly cold but clear, and after a quick bowl of oatmeal we were on the road as soon as possible. (Lack of any running water really tends to speed up the morning routine).
From Pueblo we headed east, a general trend that we would keep up for weeks. We zig-zaged down through the plains of South Eastern Colorado, cut across the few miles of the Oklahoma panhandle, and into Texas. We spent two nights in Dalhart, TX in order to let a snow/ice storm blow through. Dalhart was cold, but not Colorado cold.
|Sunset Dalhart, TX|
After a quick lunch at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, it was on mercifully dry roads that we drove to Abilene where we spent the night at our first Wal-Mart. Up early again (really early this time, as that's when all of the truckers leave), and on to Austin. Hooray for sunshine! For the first time we could go outside without our coats (at least for the first couple of days).
From this point on we were able to slow down to allow Brooke to get some work done. We spent the first night in Austin at a private RV park where we were able to take showers and get the RV cleaned up. After that we drove 10 minutes down the road to McKinney Falls State Park, the first of many beautiful Texas State Parks. This one was especially nice as it was half the price of the private RV park, was in a beautiful forest, and was within Austin city limits.
|Lower McKinney Falls, Austin, TX|
After Austin we spent a week at Pedernales Falls State Park in the Texas hill country. The Pedernales river flows through the park, and has cut a canyon into the underlying sandstone. The water has shaped a series of pools, slides, potholes and small waterfalls, which are really spectacular.
|Heron, Pedernales Falls State Park, TX|
|Pedernales Falls State Park, TX|
|Dawn on the Brazos River, Stephen F. Austin State Park, TX|
|Beach at Sea Rim State Park, TX|
|Great Egret, Sea Rim State Park, TX (this photo was shot about 200 yards from the other photo).|
Crawfish, gumbo, and shrimp and grits. Friendly people, and chicory coffee. Po-boys, oysters on the half shell and bourbon bread pudding. Did I mention that the food was pretty good in the Big Easy? New Orleans is definitely on our list of places to go back to when we get the chance.
|Louisiana fast food, New Orleans, LA|
|Patterns drawn in the sand by sea oats blowing in the wind. Gulf Islands National Sea Shore, Pensacola, FL.|
After a week at Pensacola, we went to Black Water River State Park for one night, and then down to Grayton Beach State Park on the Gulf Coast near Destin for a few nights. Brooke and I had been to this area before, and were excited to go back. More delicious food, and more stunning white sand beaches.
|Grayton Beach, FL|
From Grayton Beach we drove for the better part of a day across North Florida to get to Otter Springs near Gainesville. I was excited to come here because it is the center of the highest concentration of natural springs in the world. The geology here is like swiss cheese with underwater rivers and caverns. Where the water comes to the surface, it is often so clear that it's hard to tell where the air stops and the water begins. Some of the springs are in state parks, and many others are privately owned.
So that was the short, short version to bring us up to date. We'll do better about posting from now on as we get things figured out.
February 20, 2015
Otter Springs, FL