Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bellies, Beds & Bells

Waking up to hard wood in my back is not as sexy as I thought it would be!! We woke up about 2-3 times last night to pump up our 'trusty' air mattress...and still woke up laying flat on the boards the bed lays on. Not cool, man. We figured now is as good a time as any to head down to 'the city' (Fresno-Clovis area) to get a new bed and pick up some things we can't get here in the mountains...or we don't want to pay for here in the mountains! We drove down and hit up the R.E.I in the good part of Fresno....sorry for giving Fresno a bad name in the previous links, this area was not bad at all but I still would not go to Downtown Fresno. R.E.I. was fun to walk around, we looked at everything; shoes, socks, sweaters, jackets, pants, little camping items, etc. We bought ourselves a solar shower (made by Seattle Sports) for a great price of $20.00 and a little 'shampoo' holder (hopefully this one will hold up, I think this is #3...they all seem to explode & break in the high altitude and heat!) We stopped for lunch at Chipotle, yummy yummy in my tummy. We drove in a big circle, trying to go to what we thought was a mall but was just outdoor shops, that you would find in a mall. Our main objective was to find a new bed so after we found ourselves from being lost, we were in a Jo-ann's parking lot...perfect! We looked at the foam padding they had, measured it, laid down on it (yes on the ground) and made it super dirty and after talking it over decided to look around before making a final decision. The foam at Jo-ann's was 2 inches thick or 5 inches (I think) thick and only 24 inches across. When we laid down on it, we bottomed out; touching elbows and knees to the tile. Plus, it wasn't wide enough to fill the entire space we need it to fill and to get what we needed would have been about $80+ for something we didn't really love.

We looked at some bells for Savannah (to keep track of the lil bugger)...the jingle wasn't loud enough for me so we left. Our next stop was going to be Home Depot to look at the carpet padding, we thought if we could get three layers of carpet padding it may just work (but honestly that's too many layers for this girl to roll up every day). On our way to Home Depot I saw a sign for a Fabric/Rug store, I told J' and since it was cater-corner to Home Depot he parked and we walked across to Home Fabrics. They pointed us to their foam and to the foam we went! This place rocked, there was no guess work here. They had a price chart alongside the size chart, we just had to know our measurements...60 x70. We went straight to the letter, "N" 60 x 72...perfecto!! We put them down on the ground and yep, we tried them out again. Guess what!? We laid down on 2 inch foam padding and did NOT bottom out... I think we found our match baby! We paid $107.64 for two foam pads and put a new definition on Happy Camper, haha. I told J' if we could only 'finish' them with some material my momma would be so proud!

[caption id="attachment_750" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Mr. Foam pad tester man[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_751" align="aligncenter" width="300"] So many to choose from[/caption]

We scratched Home Depot and went to Wal-mart to buy our necessities; toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels (a must in my world) and some other little odds n ends...thank you to my peeps who "Back my Blog" you helped with these necessities and you rock so thank you. J' also wanted Spaghetti and for once it didn't sound like a bad idea to me (for those of you who don't know me, I'm not a huge spaghetti fan). I have never seen sooo many people at Wal-mart in my life, I mean it was disgusting, icky, ugh, gross. As we were walking out we saw the dog tag kiosk so we got lil 'Nana a new tag with updated info on it, important if she's going to be running around like a mad woman! While we were in town we thought it would be super fab to get the van washed and the sheets washed and dried. Making many circles around town to find them, we stopped at other places we needed to...and yes, we do have a GPS but sometimes she gives us the silent treatment and we can't get a straight answer out of her. On our way to find a laundromat and/or car wash, we found a Petsmart, so we popped in to get 'Nana a bell, I knew they had them in the kitty aisle (3 bells for $5.99). This place was just as crazy as Wal-mart, they were having adoptions so there were kids screaming over the puppies and puppies barking for the screaming kids...Savannah was as scared as I've ever seen her. Still driving to find a wash we came across a JC Penny, we stopped in just to see what they had for jackets...yeah, that was funny! Looking for jackets in the middle of summer in California...yep, funny joke. This place, however, was a full-on mall, Fashion Fair Mall. We walked around, did a big loop and left. I felt a bit like a minority there, never felt like my safety was a risk though (and there is a TON of security here, like Military style security), but we had stuff to do anyway so we left.

After our chores (yes we finally found a laundromat and car wash), we headed to the Wal-mart we were going to stay at for the night, but before we stopped we grabbed a not so impressive bite at Wendy's, although the Frosty was super delish. Since we loaded the van this morning all crazy, everything was still piled in the middle (yes this happens a lot...we live in an Astro van people!) We still had to get the foam pads down into place to make a bed, so we found a vacant parking lot and started the transition. Our stuff was in the van, on the van, and in the parking lot but after about an hour everything fit in just fine...right back into their places. Now with the foam pads we are not smooshed up against the ceiling, it'll be so nice to not bang our heads, shoulders, knees...whatever on the ceiling as we are sleeping. With the air mattress we only had about 2 maybe 3 inches of move-around-room, now we have feet! After our clean-up we drove to our Wal-mart and got out the computer so we could watch The Bachelorette. We missed the last one and since it is the last day of the month, we don't feel bad for using our data for it...hee hee It was a good day although we had to spend a little bit of money, but we got a new bed, new bell for Nana and some yummy goodies for our bellies. I don't think you can complain about a day like that!





Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We scream for...sunscreen

We woke up with an intended quest today. We had an outing planned! J' & I woke up and did our usual; put on clean clothes, put up the bed, fed 'the bug', and ate some oatmeal, just regular oats with cinnamon and a little brown sugar added to our liking. Then gathered by the fire pit to meet up with the other campers. Bob was going to show us around the Sierra National Park...well a bit of it at least. Around 10:30 a.m. we all gathered in one of the gals vans, Tex, she calls it her baby RV (she also has a mama 40 footer back home). There were 6 of us all together; J' & I, Hank (Bob), Tex, 'Edward' & Hightower, and Savannah & Homer of course.

[caption id="attachment_691" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Tex, High Tower, J' & I groovin' & movin'[/caption]

The first place we stopped was McKinley Grove, a beautiful place full of Sequoias and other big trees. Let me tell you, if you think you've seen a big tree, you haven't seen nothing until you see one of these Sequoias. These trees, in this area, date back at least 2,000 years and can be 19.5 feet in diameter!

They are simply amazing to be next to and to look up at. The top of the tree is just as wide as the base~ totally rad, man.

And the pine cones are so small that come from this incredible's very impressive. I also learned from reading (good thing I learned how to do that) that it takes 2 million seeds to grow one tree and there are only 200 seeds per pine do the math('cause I'm not haha)! We spent some time walking around and gawking at the trees. I think it's funny to walk around and look at everyone, everyone's head is pointed up, haha. This puts a whole new meaning on tree hugger for me.

After experiencing the Sequoias we drove another good 12-15 miles up to Wishon Dam, it's one, of not many, Earthen Dams. It's a spectacular view no matter which side you stand on. On one side you have mountains upon mountains of varying sizes, trees & rock.

On the other side there are mountains and the bluest water you'll ever see, with a small one lane road running through the middle of it all...breathtaking.

We sat here for a little bit and took some pictures, while we were taking in the sights there was a family blowing up a raft to the side of where we were standing. We caught ourselves very intrigued with the family. There were three teenage boys with this big red & orange raft, they blew it up with air and started truckin' it down the hill to the water. A woman followed behind them and she was yelling, "You better have sunscreen on, if you don't have sunscreen on you're not going in!". She then was yelling to her husband for them to not get in the water until they had sunscreen on. The husband then says, "Ya'll have sunscreen on, if ya don't, ya cain't go in." We (yes we are all still watching, haha) then see the boys all throw the raft down and run over to their dad and start loading up on sunscreen. We really just wanted to see the reaction of them getting into the water because it had to be ice cold, but they took forever putting on sunscreen so we left.

We drove back down the mountain to go have a picnic, but before lunch we stopped at Wishon Village. Wishon Village is a campground but also a small grocery store. They sell food, drinks, beer, knick knacks, clothing and of course ice cream! We have learned that you get your ice cream when you can around here, so we 'spoiled' our lunch with some yummy cold ice cream. I had a Nestle's cookie sandwich and J' had a chocolaty drumstick.

Since they don't have cell signal here, they do have pay phones outside of the store and you can buy calling cards to make your phone call. *BEWARE: Everything up here costs triple what it would in the city. Our two ice creams were about $8-9.00. The gas up here is $4.39 for regular unleaded. So beware if you need or want something, I would REALLY make sure you need or want it.* Also down in the campground they have a laundry facility. We drove into our picnic area and set up for lunch, we all brought our own food. We sat and talked, while eating our lunch, about everything from campsites to tattoos.

[caption id="attachment_705" align="aligncenter" width="300"] It's a long way down, Nana[/caption]

On our way back we stopped at the Ranger station to throw away garbage and fill up on fresh water, this was a major find...thanks Bob!

The rest of the day was spent lazily hanging around reading and chillin' by the camp fire. A couple more people are leaving in the morning so it was nice to have one more night to hang out and chit chat.

Safe travels my (new) friends. We will see you when our roads meet again.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's Official

[caption id="attachment_932" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I've never seen this before![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_934" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Vegas Baby![/caption]

"The Party" has officially begun! All of our driving has finally paid off, we have reached a big goal... California!

[caption id="attachment_936" align="aligncenter" width="300"] We made it![/caption]

We drove through some country where there is vineyards, farms and more cows galore. I saw my first almond tree farm! We stopped about an hour in to the state to take showers at the Flying J. Gotta love a good shower, plus they let us share one so it's only $10 for the both of us.

After showers and gassing up, our next stop for the night was Fresno...or so we had planned. We exited off the Interstate into Downtown Fresno. It was strange, it was Saturday night and not a single soul in sight. Every store, apartment and/or building had bars on the windows or barbed wire fences.

[caption id="attachment_937" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I did like the art on the trains though![/caption]

We drove around just a bit and after seeing the police were the only ones out and an overwhelming anxiety attack from yours truly, we drove up to the next big town. The next town, Clovis, was like night and day from Downtown Fresno. I don't really know what was going on with me but every 10 minutes or so I was having major anxiety/panic attacks (& Downtown Fresno did not help my situation). I think my brain finally caught up with what we are doing and it sent a little shock to my system. This is the farthest I've been from everything I've ever known, so I think I really needed to get out some tears, anxiety, emotional stress and give some relief to myself. J' is so great though and gave me full reassurance that no matter what, I have him and he will take care of me. I think us girls need to hear that from time to time, and I'm lucky that I get to hear and feel this ALL the time. Alright, enough with the mush-mush. We parked at a Wal-mart in Clovis, they had these great 'umbrella' trees, great for parking under. We would meet up with Bob (that guy) in the morning. It was nice and cool so we had a pretty good nights rest. We ran some errands for ice, food, sunglasses (J's broke and mine were on the verge) and propane~ oh and we bought two chairs and a table, all around good camping items! We were on our way up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to meet up with Bob, it was about 50 miles from where we left Clovis. As we drove, we drove into a few small towns in the middle of the mountains then rounded a corner to a beautiful lake...I mean gorgeous.

I think everything in California is more beautiful than anything else I've ever seen...okay minus D.T. Fresno! The mountains are bigger, the water is bluer, the air is's amazing. We pulled over to take some pictures and we were also going to start organizing the van. *When we switched out the propane everything had to go in the middle of the van for us to be able to get the tank out of the cabinet, so it was a sea of clutter.*

Before we started organizing and making something to eat, J' got on his computer to see if Bob had given us coordinates to the site...nothing...uh-oh! haha As J' was doing some footwork to find us a spot (until we heard from Bob), an instant message came through. Alas, it was Bob!!!  He told us where he was so we drove to meet him...the long way. We (well J') thought we could just go around the lake (I wanted to go back the way we came), but his way took us miles away from the lake, circled a huge forest and put us right back where we started! Oh well, we went down the mountain into the downtown area and found him at the local market. What a super nice guy. We talked for a bit while one of the other 'members' finished up on the internet. *See, where they are camping for the next week or so doesn't have signal for phones, internet or T.V. so they just happened to be in town for an hour checking all of their stuff while we were trying to connect with them. Talk about perfect timing. They said that was the first time they had been in town in 3-4 days!* After they were done, we followed them to the camp. He is holding the R.T.R. ~ Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, that we didn't even know about, so when we got to camp there was a whole group of people sitting on chairs talking and laughing. As soon as we got out of Joon Van they were yelling to us, "Bring your chairs" and doting over Savannah. We went over and met everyone, about 10 people and then I just had to go organize everything, it's the "C.D.O." in me (OCD...only certain people will get that). What seemed like an afternoon later we were at a stopping point with the van so we rejoined our new group. The group consisted of 4 'single' men, 4 single women and another married couple.

[caption id="attachment_943" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Our camping family[/caption]

For the rest of the afternoon into the evening, we sat around and talked, getting to know everyone and listened intently for tons of learning. These people have been doing this (mostly) full-time for years so it's awesome to sit and hear every kind of story and adventure they have had thus far. I was pretty surprised at the big dogs also along for the travel. One guy even drives a motorcycle with a sidecar for his pup to sit (and sleep) in! Totally rad man!

I think in total there are 6 dogs here, so hopefully after all of this Savannah will learn how to be a good camping dog. So far, she's been trying to bully everyone around, but I'm sure one of these pups is bound to put her in her place! In the evening we took a walk with Bob and his dog Homer~ a gorgeous black and tan coon hound. At first, I was very leery to let 'the bug' off her leash but J' reassured me this is where she is going to learn and that it will be okay. I am a mama, so I worry...she's just so small, ya know! I guess I'm going to have to let go of some stresses with that so I gave in. She was so so excited, she went a million miles a minute the whole time, running, jumping on and over things~ she was crazy.

[caption id="attachment_945" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lil bug in a big forest[/caption]

We came up on a bunch of huge boulders and as we came over them I saw ripples in the water that lay down below. My heart started beating so hard (I thought I was going to throw up). I knew Nana had run over this boulder, not knowing it dropped off into water on the other side. I saw J' running to the other side and as I peeked over the edge, there she was swimming, trying to find a place to climb out. Luckily, Daddy wedged in between the two boulders, reached down and was able to fish her out of the water. As soon as he put her down she took off running like a crazy woman and barking barking barking like a crackhead~ I swear nothing phases her but I'm sure she learned a big lesson today or at least I hope so...for my sake! I thought I was going to fall apart when I saw her looking up at me trying to find a spot to get out.

[caption id="attachment_946" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Homer is very concerned[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_949" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Hooray for Daddy's long arms[/caption]

Good thing she can swim, phew. It took me longer to recover than her! Crazy girl. We finished our walk through the beautiful forest and Bob said this isn't even the pretty part of this area~ well I think it's amazing. When we got back the circle was starting to move over to the campfire, when the temperature drops out here, it's no joke!

We learned the hard way that night, it gets f*in' cold~ like 25 degrees the heat of the summer. Crazy, man. Bob had even offered us a nice cozy blanket that we turned down because we thought we would be warm enough...haha silly kids. Fortunately, I asked J' if he would get our Big Buddy heater out and hooked up...just in case~ we used that thing (off & on) all night. *Our blankets are not made for extreme cold temperatures* After a not so restful night, we woke up to beautiful weather, the bluest of skies and the songs of birds. One of the ladies, Miss Cherry, (I nicknamed her this because she makes everything seem so wonderful, like a cherry on top) offered us a nice big, clean quilt for the next few nights sleep (we would be together for a few days and she wasn't using it).

Bob also gave us a beautiful wool blanket he said he only paid $3.00 for and never uses. Needless to say we will be going into town to buy our own very soon, but it's so nice to have people around that care...and have extra stuff they are willing to lend...haha. The day was full of cooking, eating, talking, sharing, learning, walking, reading and even a birthday celebration with a cake made from solar~ Sunoven and we had ice cream! Who says there aren't ice cream "socials" in the woods? Not this group. We know how to par-tay, baby!

 Savannah is doing much better with the dogs today and all of the people. I think this IS exactly what she needed. She has not been on a leash for 48 hours now, she is such a good girl. Bob says, "A tired dog is a good dog." And I believe him!

Some people are leaving and going separate ways today, but we are sure to meet up again soon one day...probably at the R.T.R. in Quarzite. I never knew hanging out with complete strangers could be so fun...and comforting!




Friday, June 22, 2012

We're at it again our daughter would call us; Yes, we are the A.D.D. family! We change our minds at every rest stop.

[caption id="attachment_983" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Good to know we're nowhere![/caption]

When we stopped for the night last night, J' checked his email before we laid back and watched T.V. (yep, we bought a new antenna, not as compact as the other one but not as fragile either)

[caption id="attachment_988" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Not big at all![/caption]

because he has been talking with this guy that runs this forum he follows. (

The guy, Bob, wrote back and gave us some pretty good tips about where to go for the Summer months, where to get cell service, etc. He also invited us to come camp with him if we wanted to, so after talking over some new options we settled on going more towards California than Wyoming. We figured this guy has the answers we're looking for and we need a resting place for now, so J' can work and our gas bills can settle down for a bit. So we are heading to California now! Man is it windy here, out on the open road of I-80.

 It's nothing but open land out here so there's mad wind. I had to lock my door to make sure it wouldn't come off...the door is actually shaking, geesh! There is also a disgusting amount of cow manure stank in the air. I did not appreciate the poo particles being forced down my throat, Thanks're special. Makes me think twice, after seeing all of these poor cows, about eating beef...damn my taste buds. Yucky! Oooooo also we have seen sooo many wind turbines. Those things are amazingly huge. I think they are really pretty. I want one, just not sure where we would store it, hee hee.

[caption id="attachment_991" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Pretty Energy[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_992" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Whoa mama! Just one blade...look at the trailer![/caption]

Other then lots of corn, semi's and open road, right now there's not much going on, but we're getting there. It kind of feels like this whole thing hasn't even started let's get this party started already!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Driving to the end of the Earth

Today is the longest day of the year! Good day for lots of sunlight to drive. We've been driving forever, it seems. We drove from Bill & Beth's house to Atlantic City, New Jersey.

[caption id="attachment_1004" align="aligncenter" width="300"] So much hope![/caption]

We were going to get a hotel room for a night in Atlantic City but after driving the town, getting numbers, calling the hotels, finding rates and looking at our surroundings, we decided against it. First, the hotels we could afford were scuzzy and shady and they didn't accept pets, so Nana would have to sleep in Joon Van...uh, NO!

[caption id="attachment_1005" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Not in my worst nightmare[/caption]

Second, the hotels that had better parking and allowed pets started at $139.95+ tax + pet deposit a night, some even went up to $360...for ONE NIGHT! Plus the hotels that allowed pets don't want you leaving your pet 'unattended' (meaning leave it in a crate when you leave). Before making our final decision we thought we would walk the Boardwalk a bit to see if we would be missing out on anything really big. We parked at a meter, put in 4 hours of change and off we went. The weather was nice, we both had on jeans and long sleeved shirts...pretty windy, cold in the shade, nice in the sun. We walked a good 2-3 miles of the "Worlds Longest Boardwalk". I read in a' Fun Facts of New Jersey' Pamphlet, the Boardwalk is 4 1/2 miles long but then saw somewhere else that it was 6 miles...not sure which one is true but anyway ya slice it, it's long!

There is a ton of stuff going on; mini golf, bars on the beach, bars on the boardwalk, restaurants, shops, the beach itself, small and large casino's and even a little historical park.

[caption id="attachment_1007" align="aligncenter" width="300"] La Playa[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1008" align="aligncenter" width="225"] A 'little bit' of History[/caption]

We even saw some hookin' going down...with no pants on...maybe that's why she was hookin' to go get some pants! haha

[caption id="attachment_1010" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Help this poor girl, she lost her pants![/caption]

We popped in a few of the bigger Casino's, like Bally's and Trump Plaza, to look at some tables and ended up walking out with a Starbuck's instead. We enjoyed the walk and the sights and decided against the hotel this time around. That night we found a Flying J to sleep at, we Love them!

 Seems like since we left New Jersey, that next morning, we've just been driving...oh wait, that is all we've done!

**Sidenote: If you are traveling Northeast, especially up to, around and through New Jersey, be ready to pay some tolls. I took note of every toll we paid in a day and a half and it came out about .15 cents under $30.00. So be prepared!**

[caption id="attachment_1013" align="aligncenter" width="300"] World's Longest Double Suspension Bridge~ Delaware[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1014" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Needing sunglasses on Sidling Hill[/caption]

We stopped in Ohio and we were going to find some parks to hang at for a couple of days like we did in North Carolina, but when we got out of the van to get gas, the heat and humidity was so overwhelming we chose to catch some zzz's and get on with it the next day.

Yesterday morning, we stopped at a rest area and got on the internet and made a plan of going to Roswell, New Mexico for the UFO Festival that's happening June 29-July 1. We punched it into the GPS and started on our way. Hours later we stopped for some ice and to make something to eat and it was at this time, sitting in an uncovered parking lot in the van with fans on and windows open, we changed our minds about going to Roswell...the middle of the freakin' desert in the middle of summer! If it was this hot here (Indianapolis, Indiana), we were sure to be twice as hot there. We got the map back out along with our trusty computers to look at temperatures across the United we're thinking with our noggins! After looking and talking we put a finger on Wyoming~ the temps right now are mid 60's during the day and can get down to the 30's at night. We would definitely be cooler, no doubt. We know it's hot everywhere right now, so we thought this would be a nice change. So...we are driving. We have gone through two time changes already and are just at 740 miles for the day. We've driven through: Peoria, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa (where we stopped at the Worlds Largest Truckstop...don't be jealous), and Omaha, Nebraska.

[caption id="attachment_1018" align="aligncenter" width="300"] We have arrived, haha![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1016" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Got to sit in her...whoa nelly is she big![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1017" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Something out of King of the Hill[/caption]

Since it's the longest day of the year AND we are driving West AND we woke up not knowing of one time change and then hit another time change, it has definitely made this day never-ending. BUT we have gotten a large majority of our trip out of the way. J' is such a trooper, he's been driving 98% of the time, but I was able to give him a break today for a good solid three hours. I'm trying to help, I just get totally freaked out driving with these big trucks, high speeds and curvy roads that he usually can't stand to sit next to me "screaming" and going 10 miles slower than the speed limit...haha but I am still trying to help!

Until next time travelers...