We are both teachers that love to explore and play in the great outdoors whenever we can, especially during the summer. It also gives our little guy a chance to see the world beyond the small corners of our town.
Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
One of the coolest aspects of the travel we do is learning. Always learning. And with internet literally being at our fingertips, we learn a lot. Of course, there are also the occasional historical information signs that help spark the further pursuit for knowledge. One such marker let us know that the strange fence across the street from our current stop was not just a plain fence, but history.
According to Wikipedia “Fencepost limestone, Post Rock limestone, or Stone Post is a stone bed in the Great Plains notable for its historic use as fencing and construction material in north-central Kansas resulting in unique cultural expression.” Its most famous use was miles and miles of stone fence post along the country highways. We were on HWY70 in central Kansas; Wilson, Kansas actually. According to the information sign in front of The Kansas Originals Market these fence posts were sometimes carved into faces or shapes, but many of them have weathered away over the years.
We saw these post for miles along HWY70, even seeing some of those that were carved. The unfortunate thing about traveling with a 9,000lb house behind you is that you can’t just “pull over here so I can get a picture.” Believe me, I’d be stopping and going all the time!
We discovered this summer that Betty Deux is our home not just a house on wheels. For whatever reason, there is a comfort level achieved there that is not present in our brick and mortar house. Sure there is only a fraction of the room. We are limited on the things we can take with us, however, we seem to take what is necessary for both living and entertainment. And that seems enough.
Now that we are home from this summer’s adventures, we find ourselves sitting in front of the television or the computer an exorbitant amount of time. Let’s face it, it’s just too damn hot to do anything else! No more sitting outside with our early morning coffee watching deer graze nearby or cottonwood snow or baby robins. No more meals prepped in the best kitchen ever, the outdoors on the cast-iron grill. Exercise is forced now rather than the constant going in and out of the camper or taking early morning or evening walks around the campground, nodding a friendly hello to the neighbors.
Bertha is unhitched, free from her tethers. Betty is under cover, cleaned out and waiting for cooler weather to have her interior painted. For Betty, time is at a slight stand-still, waiting, waiting.
And oh my, Toto, there was a lot of wind this day. But it didn’t stop us from enjoying a few moments of fun in front of the Kansas Originals Market and Gallery. What a neat, unique gift shop. So many cool things to look at inside and out.
Capt’n Jim can’t seem to help himself; he loves to pose with statues and such. This, of course, being the first of many such opportunities. And all of this BEFORE the wine tasting! Yes, they offer wine tasting. This was my first experience with wine tasting and obviously with Covid-19 protocols in place it was different than what is the norm. Still, all in all, a lot of fun. Glad we did it too, as Jim opted for their more expensive wine to start with. He was going to just buy it without trying it and I insisted. Glad we did as we didn’t really like it. Instead we bought two other reds: Czech Style Red Wine (a sweet) and Heartland Red Velvet (a dry.) Both are produced by Smoky Hill Vineyards and Winery. And, on a final note, a big thank you to the young man who waited on us. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his name. He was new at doing this and did a great job. He and I briefly talked cameras as he liked my baby!
Well, someone made chicken salad out of chicken poop. I can just imagine all these gears laying around rusting and filling up a scrap yard. And then comes along some Rooster with a creative brain and voila you have a made from scratch yard art!!
This was one of the neatest shops we have been in on our travels. We stayed there for at least an hour and a half. I highly recommend stopping there if traveling through Kansas on I-70. They have the most unique items and friendly staff. Thoroughly enjoyed our impromptu excursion.
If you can’t visit in person, and I highly recommend that you do, then visit their website. I know I plan on visiting and purchasing virtually from them until I can visit in person again. https://www.kansasoriginals.com/
When are you gonna come down? When are you going to land?
Swallows were common sights during our travels, often seen flying over fields, barnyards, and frequently right in front of our truck. According to https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/overview “Barn Swallows often cruise low, flying just a few inches above the ground or water. True to their name, they build their cup-shaped mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures.” And true to their nature here they were. We were totaly amazed at this long line of hotels. Swallows flew in and out of these “hotel suites” so fast it was almost impossible to capture a photo.
I have decided to change my format of my blogs. Keeping it simple. One photo, a tid-bit of information and a personal connection. Nothing more, nothing less.
Willie Nelson sings that “If you don’t like this rainy weather you better pack your bags and move.”
The wind howls and screams past our little home, rocking her uncomfortably. Rain and hail pelt the windows as we wonder at the difficulty of packing up and leaving during a crazy prairie storm.
Limon KOA is located on the Colorado’s High Plains. A beautiful, clean and quiet park, 90 minutes from Denver and Colorado Springs along I-70. We stopped there on our way from Kansas. They provide a playground, bike rentals and swimming pool (seasonal). Many of these things were being worked on or were closed due to Covid-19. Pets are welcome. Sites are pull-Thru RV sites, a little close but easy access. The store has some RV supplies, groceries and gifts. Our most memorable moments? JackaLopes. We had Kaelin believing jackalopes were real. https://koa.com/campgrounds/limon/
This photo, taken at the beginning of our Summer 2020 adventures, represents how I feel right now. Sad to be no longer traveling in our little home. Sad to be back in the oppressive heat of Florida. Sad and watchful of how things are in our world today and scared of the upcoming storms.
We have planned. We have prepped. We now pray. And this being spring and summer of 2020 we do a lot of praying. It’s inevitable. Something will happen, it’s going to and nothing you do stops it. When the Coronovirus hit we prayed majorally. We prayed, like everyone else, for it to be some big mistake. Then school was cancelled. Being teachers we went into panic mode – they were going to cancel our summer! The very thing we looked forward to the rest of the ten months of the year. When one state after another shut down, we prayed they wouldn’t cancel our reservations in Michigan. They did. We heard that campgrounds across the nation were closed and it didn’t look like an end was in sight. We prayed for an alternative. Our prayer was finally answered in the form of Riverview Campground in Loveland, Colorado. Being a private campground they were able to open sooner than the state and national parks. Hallelujah! We were on our way.
Then the praying was kind of superficial. You pray for what you might have forgotten to pack. It can’t be helped, you will forget something. Usually, we forget something important. Our classic was when we forgot to pack coffee and the coffee pot into the Chrylser, our sailboat. You don’t just run over to the local Wal-mart from a sailboat! Coffee is Important!! That has never been forgotten by either of us and serves as a reminder every year to check twice. This year we did very well, primarily because our planning and prepping paid off. We only forgot a drill and our new “We’ve Camped There” stick on map. Livable mistakes. Make a list people; can’t stress it enough.
You pray for good weather and safe roads. We really had both this year, so far. For the most part, we have managed to steer clear of any real major rain. We had lots of wind in Kansas and one crazy storm in Limon, Colorado. Even the other day, coming back from seeing the Pawnee National Grasslands Buttes (which are amazing) we managaed to skirt around a really bad storm system. We could see it off in the distance, always keeping to the right of us. It made for some impressive skies. I don’t know why Capt’n Jim didn’t want to constantly stop for me to take pictures.
You pray that your travels are uneventful. Well the laugh is on you. Something always happens. Last year it was our wheel bearings seizing up on Betty Deux. We had to leave her at a rest stop overnight and Jim had to take off work to fix her just enough to get her home. The whole ordeal was awful! New axles, bearings and tires later…
This trip was no different. “Oh darn, I don’t think we turned off the water pump.” “It will be alright until we get to our stop.” No, I don’t think so. Several hours later, we stopped to get gas and turning the corner Jim saw water pouring from the camper. Water pump no problem, until something bumps against the kitchen faucet and turns the water on into the covered sink. 40 gallons of water throughout the camper. We spent the next several days soaking up as much water as possible. At one point, Jim even had to suck water out of the heater vents. As far as we can tell we got it all. Pray? Praying no further damage shows up later down the road because we didn’t follow our checklist. Of course, now it’s a joke every time we pack up and leave. “Is the water pump off?”
Yes, you pray. We pray that we are making a safe choice this year due to Covid. But we are taking our precautions. We wear the dreaded mask any time we are in public. We keep our distance. Hand sanitizer is our new go to after store trips and yes we follow the arrows! Well, most of the time.
We have seen many people, for example in Missouri, not follow guidelines and it’s very disconcerting. Colorado, however, has been great. Very few people don’t follow the mandated protocol. Very few. We are outdoors, in some of the freshest air we have smelled. (Well, maybe except for Greeley, Colorado. But, that’s for another story.) It’s beautiful here and so worth it. Yes, we pray for our health, but knowing that we have partaked of the great outdoors of the Rocky Mountains and it’s surrounding area, I think we are good.
For once, Jim feels the truck and camper is completely ready. He worked tirelessly over the past several months making many alterations and upgrades. He’s excited about our new cell phone booster. Boy will be doing online classes again this year, so he will need the extra connectivity.
In addition to the booster,, he also installed shock absorbers for the axles to smooth the ride. In addition to the shock absorbers, he put two new tires on the trailer and new heavy duty axles. We had the horrible experience of the bearings burning and caused the axle to bend. This is not an experience worth repeating! So, of course, prior to this trip all wheel bearings were greased and lubed. On the lighter side he installed a poop hose holder, cleaned the ac and the vents, replaced the thermastat with digital.
We also did a complete bathroom upgrade. I noticed that we were having a lot of separation of the vinyl wallpaper. We have had that issue in the main living area from the time we bought it and then it showed up in the bathroom. I was concerned for moisture getting into the walls and causing mold. I removed the wallpaper (with a hairdryer) and applied 4 coats of really good paint. Jim installed a real (not plastic) water faucet and then he installed a stone backsplash (again, real, no press on stuff) behind the sink. This was done after he also raised the bathroom cabinet higher. He was tired of bumping his head everytime he brushed his teeth. New caulking, new shower curtain and a few pretty photos and voila, new bathroom.
Cooking prep has begun: hamburger for taco salads in a jar, hamburgers premade, rice cooked and frozen for cauliburgers. I make salads in a jar which gave us an easy healthy alternative for a couple of nights. They can be made ahead and kept for up to 5 days. I baked muffins and egg/sausage “muffins” for easy breakfasts. Freezer was packed.
Clothes were packed at least a week ahead. I told everyone to wear it twice if you have too! We did buy a few clothing items to have some fresh wear on the trip. I never had the chance to do that in my earlier years so I like to take advantage of summer buying and then again right before school.
All laundry is done! House is cleaned (no one wants to come home to a dirty house.) Dishes cleaned. Coffee pot emptied (believe me that is not cool to come home to!) Mail stopped. Lawn guy hired. This was a new one for us and hopefully it will be helpful to come home to a nice mowed yard and not a jungle. I’m sure the neighbors will appreciate it. Betty Deux (camper) gets washed and waxed. Bertha too. That’s our truck. You know because she has a big butt!
Then comes the last two days. That’s when it gets real. Gas tanks filled. Toiletries and meds in. Pillows and of course Boy’s blankies. Cameras, printers and computers go in. All those little things you couldn’t put in ahead of time. We also turn off the AC and the water heater in the house. I empty the fridge and we turn it off. My daughter laughs that she needs to keep some room in her fridge for my yearly purge! If you are going to be gone an extended time why pay for utilities that you aren’t going to be there to use. We do put a light on a timer. That helps for safety purposes and have someone check your house often or use securtiy cameras connected to your phone.
Prepping takes time and is best done over time. Don’t wait until the last minute. It will not be worth it. Use your list you created in the planning stages and check it multiple times. Have your partner check it too. We really followed the list well this year and it helped tremendously. I think when it came down to it we only forgot a couple of things. We forgot the drill for doing the levelers, but bought another one at Walmart. We also forgot my new sticker map. I was so sad about that, but I’ve been informed that we can just buy another one as it wasn’t that expensive. YAY! Can’t wait to start inserting all those places we have stayed on the new map. (Oh, and if you are wondering, we are from the “It’s where WE have stayed overnight” camp.)
Planning for a normal camping trip can be daunting. Planning for a two month adventure is beyond intimidating. So many things to do.
Months before a trip, Capt’n Jim will haul out the navigational charts (Google Earth and Allstays) and plan our destination. This takes hours and days, months even, of careful contemplation. Virtual field trips help kindle the fires. It was to be the Michigan shores of the great lakes this year. That is until covid 19 put a halt to those plans and almost to the summer. After much watchful consideration we decided to veer westward again, back to previously charted waters, Colorado.
The creation of list become a daily habit. Jim writes his on small pieces of paper or on the back of personal business cards created with him in mind. He writes , scratches off and adds more until departure day. His lists keeps him motivated and organized. My list takes place on excel. I have created a comprehensive checklist that covers everything from inside to outside. We even have a take-down and set-up list. Since we are gone for an extensive bit of time I have included a checklist for leaving the house. My list were combinations of list found online and tweaked for our type of camping and camper.
Making lists is an essential part of trip planning. I cannot stress enough to find your way of list making, whether it be on post-its or computer. Life will be much easier. There is such a sense of accomplisment when something is marked off as done! And, that being said, make sure you follow the list. We skipped that step a few times and regretted it, but that’s for another post.
Think about your trip, plan it out. Don’t just wing it. Have steps in place and allow for times that you can wing it. Even that is part of the plan. Know a basic direction you want to go. If you veer from that plan because, hey, there’s Cadillac Ranch or a cool yarn shop, it’s okay! Just get back on the path and enjoy the journey.
Wanderlust settles in me like a too tight favorite jacket. I’m excited about wearing it, but it pinches all the same. School wraps up this week and the countdown begins. With that comes intense anxiety. Can I get everything done in time? What will I forget? I’m adding to and amending my packing list constantly. That, I think is finally almost publishable!
On the other hand, my mind plays previews of roads not even traveled yet. Open highways, mountain views, and quaint towns. My excitement can hardly be contained. Jim watches lots of YouTube videos and travels Google Earth in preparation for the trip. I think this is his mental meditation.
We have a destination and a few weeks ago we weren’t even sure we would be going any where. Originally we were to go to Michigan, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic we had to change gears. Now we are Colorado bound!
In the past, travel took the form of short burst, several days to several weeks at a time. This year we reserved a month at Riverview RV park in Loveland, Colorado where my daughter lives. We stayed 2 days there last year, so know pretty well what to expect. Of course even this causes that anxiety jacket to pinch again.
It’s the unknown that rubs at my nerves. It’s also the unknown that makes it exciting. I am reminded that the goal is not the destination, but the journey.
This is my first post in a long time. I find writing blog post time consuming and always seem to find excuses. Perhaps this year will be different. That being said, I would like to change the name of my blog site. 2bikes1boat served its purpose, but no more. I would like something that reflects our traveling ways, our sense of adventure and wonder. Ideas Welcome!