On The Road Again, Day 6: N. Little Rock AR to Tupelo MS

We made it!! Our Thanksgiving Pilgrimage is complete!

We left the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock around 9:20 this morning, but not before I took a sunrise walk on the pedestrian bridge over the river.

The Arkansas River from the pedestrian bridge in Little Rock.

My goal was to locate a geocache that was hidden on the bridge, and I found it. It was my first cache from Arkansas, and I really wish we had time to hunt for more in that area. We really liked the park where we stayed, and will probably try to visit there again when we can stay longer.

An early morning geocache find!

As we hit the road we made our usual stop for gas at a Love’s station just outside Little Rock, and then settled in for some serious driving. We finally stopped for lunch at a Walmart parking lot in West Memphis, AR. We usually try to take a break before we drive through large cities or rough stretches of highway, and we knew getting through Memphis was going to be both.

We were lucky to be driving through Memphis on a Sunday so the traffic was somewhat lighter, but the condition of the roads and highways is absolutely terrible. I don’t know what Tennessee is doing with their tax revenues, but they’re not spending them on the stretch of Lamar Avenue between I-55 and the Mississippi state line!! And it’s been that way for years!

Ok, rant over.

After crossing into Mississippi it was about a 75-minute drive to the next fuel stop at, you guessed it, Love’s. But we had a special reason for stopping at this one, as it’s where my nephew Tyler works, and I wanted to surprise him and say “Hi”.

Fortunately he was working today so I got to see him, but they were pretty busy so we didn’t chat long. Hopefully we can catch up later this week or next.

We arrived at Tombigbee State Park around 3:00 and parked in our favorite spot, site #11. Even though we missed the peak fall colors, there are still a lot of leaves on the trees that are starting to fall, and with the smell of campfires in the park, it just brought back a lot of memories of growing up in this area–football and basketball games, hayrides, decorating for the holidays.

Getting set up in site #11 at Tombigbee State Park

After getting the rig set up, we finally got to see my Mom and Dad. We met them for dinner at Olive Garden in Tupelo, where we caught up on all the latest happenings. We started making plans for the next couple of weeks, and I’m so excited about getting to hang out with them for awhile.

So I won’t be blogging so much for the next couple of weeks, since our time here isn’t about RVing, it’s about family. Besides, the cell signal here in the park is very weak so it’s hard to upload. Sometime next week we’ll start planning our return route, and I’ll post here as plans develop.

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

On The Road Again, Day 5: Campbell TX to North Little Rock AR

Currently at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas. We are traveling back to my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to spend some time with family for Thanksgiving. I’ll be doing a short update each day of our drive this week.

Yay, we finally made it out of Texas!! This will be a short update, because it’s late and I’m tired! 🙂

We pulled out of the Stinson RV Park near Campbell, Texas around 9:30 this morning and continued on our journey east on I-30. The weather was beautiful with cloudless skies and not much wind, so it was fairly easy driving. We made our first stop at a Love’s station near Texarcana to get gas, and then continued on into Hope, Arkansas where we stopped in a Walmart parking lot for lunch. We did do a little bit of shopping while we were there, fixed ourselves a quick hummus and veggie wrap for lunch, and then hit the road again.

Morning scene at Stinson RV Park. So peaceful!

We made it into Little Rock a little after 3:00 PM. The RV park where we’re staying is located on the banks of the Arkansas River, where we have a great view of downtown Little Rock across the river. It was a little tricky to get to, so thank goodness for GPS. This park is part of the Passport America system, so we get a night of full hookups and screaming fast wi-fi (and I mean that literally, not sarcastically) for $12.50/night + tax.

Parked at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock, AR

Also just across the river is the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Park, and there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river, linking the RV park to the Library area–very convenient. After driving all day, we decided that a nice walk was just the thing we needed, so we crossed the bridge and did a short walking tour of the grounds around the Library.

Walking across the Clinton Pedestrian Bridge over the Arkansas River

The Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR

This evening we met my niece, Katelyn, and her husband, John, for dinner at Loca Luna. It was so nice to be able to catch up with them, and the food was delicious. Andy and I both had the Iron Skillet Vegetable Medley on Saffron Fiesta Rice topped with melted cheese. It’s been featured twice in Southern Living Magazine, and it was a wonderful meatless option. Of course, we couldn’t resist trying their bread pudding, and that also did not disappoint. If you’re ever in the Little Rock area, be sure to check them out! But the best part of the dinner was the conversation with two of my favorite people!

The Iron Skillet Veggie Medley at Loca Luna in LIttle Rock, AR

We had dinner with Katelyn and John. And I don’t remember being so short. 🙂

I’m so excited that we’ll actually be at the end of our Thanksgiving pilgrimage tomorrow! Our 245-mile route will take us from Little Rock, through Memphis, and then through Tupelo before we land at Tombigbee State Park, sometime in the mid-afternoon tomorrow. I can’t wait to see Mom and Dad, and other members of the family over the next two weeks!

View of downtown Little Rock from the Clinton Presidential Park.

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

 

On The Road Again, Day 4: Mingus to Campbell

Currently at the Stinson RV Park near Campbell, Texas. We are traveling back to my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to spend some time with family for Thanksgiving. I’ll be doing a short update each day of our drive this week.

Today, our fourth day of driving on our Thanksgiving “pilgrimage” was a short day in terms of mileage (153 miles point to point), but it produced a higher-than-average level of stress by the time we got here and got settled.

Yesterday we took a “zero day”, a term I borrowed from the thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. We stayed put at the Cactus Rose RV Park near Mingus and just rested all day. I had thought about getting the laundry done, but they only have one washer and one dryer, and it just didn’t seem to be worth the trouble since we have plenty of clean underwear. I did some walking, reading, listening to audio books and working crossword puzzles; Andy read most of the day. In the evening I cooked enough dinner to have leftovers for tonight, and then I went to bed fairly early. I woke up early this morning feeling rested and ready for the day.

Cactus Rose RV Park near Mingus, TX

It got pretty cold again last night, cold enough to freeze the water in the hose between our rig and the water spigot. Fortunately we were able to just turn on the water pump and use the water from our onboard tanks. The hose thawed out pretty quickly once the sun came up, so no harm done.

We got on the road about 9:30 AM and headed east on I-20. Our first stop was at a Love’s station where we fueled up both vehicles for $2.049/gallon, the lowest price we’ve seen in ages. Andy also got the propane topped off at $2.99/gallon, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that there is no sales tax on propane in Texas. Once we were all fueled up, we took a deep breath and started our drive toward Fort Worth and Dallas.

We weren’t sure how heavy the traffic was going to be. On the plus side, we were traveling through the cities in the late morning, between the rush hours. On the other hand, it’s Friday, and sometimes the traffic gets heavy sooner in the day with people leaving work early for the weekend. But we found that traffic moved along pretty much at the posted speeds except for one little stretch  on the eastern edge of downtown Dallas, where it got really congested due to a disabled tractor trailer rig in the right lane. After that, it opened up again and all was good.

I think it might have been less stressful if traffic had been a little more congested so that everyone drove a little slower. But Andy handled the rig like a champ, and I just followed along behind to run interference for him when he needed to change lanes.

Traffic stalled at one point in Dallas (no, I didn’t shoot this while moving)

After we got out of the metro Dallas area, it didn’t take us long to get to Campbell where our RV park for the night is located. Unfortunately, we missed our turn and had to double back for about 7-8 miles, but we pulled into the RV park about 12:45 PM.

The Stinson RV Park is a fairly new, family-operated business. They have 79 RV spaces with full hookups (electricity, water and sewer). There’s a 3-acre pond on the property where you can fish (catch and release), and there’s a golf course next door. They have wi-fi, but as usual in RV parks, it’s not worth the trouble of connecting to it, it’s so slow. They do have laundry machines and showers, the latter of which I’ll check out before we leave tomorrow.

So, we pulled up to the office and I headed for the front door to get us checked in and get our site assignment. But the door was locked and there was a sign on the front porch that said they were gone to lunch and would be back “soon”.

OK, I could understand that, as it was in the middle of the lunch hour. The sign had a number you could call for someone named Margie, so I called the number to see if we could just go ahead and pick out a site and check in later (we were both hungry and ready to get settled). But my call went to voice mail, and the voice recording said the mailbox was full so I couldn’t leave a message.

So we figured we would just wait there in the parking lot for a few minutes until someone showed up. An hour later, still no one. Another fifteen minutes–no one. And then fifteen minutes more, and still no sign of Margie or anyone else (although one of the workmen had told us that they should be back any time.)

So since I couldn’t leave a voice mail, I decided to text this Margie person to see if I could get a response. Well, that worked. She called me back immediately, apologized profusely, and said we could just go ahead and pick out a site and get set up, so that’s what we did.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Even though all the sites are pull-throughs, they all have a hump in the middle of them so they aren’t really level. But by now we’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out how many leveling blocks to put under each tire, and we had things set up pretty quickly.

All set up for the night at Stinson RV Park near Campbell, TX

We wound up finally eating lunch a little after 3:00 PM, so I guess it’s good that we’re just having leftovers for dinner tonight. Easy peasy.

I think we’ll probably sleep well tonight (Andy is already asleep and it’s only 5:25 PM as I write this). We’re right next to the interstate again, but we’re starting to get used to the constant hum of traffic.

Tomorrow will be a long drive, our second-longest of the trip, 263 miles. We’re headed to the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Yes, tomorrow we finally get out of Texas!!

I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to meet up with my niece and her hubby tomorrow night while we’re in the area, as they live in or near Little Rock. We’ll see how it works out.

And then the next day we’ll end our pilgrimage in Tupelo! We’re almost there!!

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

On The Road Again, Day 3: Loraine to Mingus/Gordon

Currently at the Cactus Rose RV Park in Mingus, near Gordon, Texas. We are traveling back to my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to spend some time with family for Thanksgiving. I’ll be doing a short update each day of our drive this week.

This will be a super-short update because I’m having to type it on my phone due to really sketchy internet service here.

Left Loraine this morning about 9:30. Cold and windy when we left, fortunately not much to unhook and stow away outside since we only stayed one night.

Stopped at Love’s about 16 miles down the interstate to fuel up both vehicles. Had planned to top off the propane as well but they were out.

Time to fuel up at Love’s

Continued on to Abilene where we parked the RV at Walmart and then took the truck to Burger King for lunch (the Impossible Whopper). When we got back to Walmart we did a little shopping and refilled our drinking water. I bought some blackout curtains to hang between the cab and our living space to keep out the cold air from the front of the rig.

The creme and red panels will help keep cold or hot air from the cab out of our living space

When we brought our stuff back out to the rig, Andy noticed that the rear drivers side tire on the Tacoma was low. He had checked all the tires on Sunday afternoon before we left Deming, NM, but by today there was only 10 pounds of pressure left in it.

Looks like we have a low tire on the truck

He drove the truck around to Walmart’s auto center and waited an hour until they could check it. They didn’t find any nails or screws in the tire. They inflated it to 70 pounds and put it in a tub of water and couldn’t find any leaks. They think the problem may be related to the pressure monitoring valve cap on the tire, it might not have been screwed all the way on. Anyway, we’ll keep an eye on it.

Left Walmart later than we planned, around 2:45, and continued east on I-20, arriving at Cactus Rose RV Park just after 4:00 PM. It’s a small park just off the interstate so there’s some traffic noise. They changed management in the past year and they’ve made a lot of improvements from what I understand. The sites are level and fairly close together, but we got a site on the end of the row closest to the small clubhouse and showers. They do have an outdoor pool and laundry facilities (one washer, one dryer), and like almost every other campground that tells you they have wi-fi, theirs sucks. With our Passport America 50% discount we’re paying $24/night for full hookups, the most expensive park on our trip.

I met the owner, Cindy, very nice lady, very helpful. We’re going to stay here two nights so we can take a day off from driving tomorrow. The kitties are doing great with the driving, but I think they’ll appreciate a break as well.

Parked in site #3 at Cactus Rose RV Park. We’re definitely the smallest rig here!

Tomorrow I’ll try to do a load or two of laundry but otherwise we’re just going to relax. We’re in the middle of nowhere, so there’s nothing to tempt us away from our camp.

We only drove about 144 miles today, not counting going from Walmart to Burger King and back. Our next drive on Friday will also be fairly short but it will be stressful as we’ll be going through Fort Worth and Dallas.

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

On The Road Again, Day 2: Van Horn to Loraine

Currently at the Ms G’s RV Park in Loraine, Texas. We are traveling back to my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to spend some time with family for Thanksgiving. I’ll be doing a short update each day of our drive this week.

We got a very good night’s sleep last night at the Oasis RV Park in Van Horn, Texas, despite its many quirks. The temperature dropped to about 26° by 7:00 AM this morning; but between our small electric space heater, the gas furnace, and the Reflectix in the windows, we were nice and cozy inside the rig.

It was bitterly cold outside with the wind chill around 19° when we pulled out of the park just before 9:00 AM. Our first order of business was to get both the vehicles inspected to complete our annual registration (since we renewed our vehicle registration online from Arizona in August when it came due, we had three days to get the inspection done once we crossed the state line back into Texas).

Getting our vehicles inspected in Van Horn, TX

I had researched online to find an inspection station along our route, and the only one in Van Horn was listed at a Chevron station, so that’s where we went. Turns out, it’s actually the tire repair shop behind the Chevron station, and they were a little late getting to work this morning, so we had to wait in the cold for about 10 minutes or so. But when they finally arrived they took care of the inspection quickly, so now both vehicles are legal and we can stop thinking about that little detail. It was only a safety inspection (lights, wipers, horn), and cost $7 per vehicle.

After that, we made a quick stop at the Love’s station to fill up both vehicles with gas, and then we hit the road for a travel day of 273 miles. We started out on I-10 East, and then veered off onto I-20 East to head toward Dallas. Neither of us have ever traveled this portion of I-20, so we were both really fascinated by the scenery along the way. Our route took us through the heart of the West Texas oil patch. I’ve never seen so many pumping units, drilling rigs, production facilities, and yes, RV parks for the oilfield workers. It was amazing!!

Back in the Lone Star State ⭐️

As we drove through Odessa and Midland, I had so many memories of the first 16 years of my career when I worked for Hess Oil Company (formerly Amerada Hess). I had many opportunities to go out into the field and see these types of facilities first hand, but that was in Mississippi, Louisiana, and East Texas. I never saw any area that had the sheer density of pumping units and drilling rigs as we saw today along I-20. And there were so many flare stacks burning off the gas from the facilities–the landscape almost looked like a birthday cake! 🙂

We took our midday break at a rest stop near Monahans. Once again we had a simple lunch of hummus, avocado and veggie wraps with chips, along with some baby carrots and almond dip. After lunch we took a short walk around the rest stop, using the gravel path that they have provided for those who want a little exercise. They even had a playground for kids to burn off a little energy while their parents recover from the drive. We spent about an hour there at the rest stop before we moved on.

Stopped for lunch at a Texas rest stop

As we drove further east we saw less evidence of oil and gas production and started seeing a few more trees, albeit they are mesquite trees as this is still very much a dry climate. Finally about 3:00 PM we pulled into Ms. G’s RV Park in Loraine, Texas, our home for the night. Once again, this is a park that we selected because they offer the Passport America discount (50%), so we got a full hookup site for $15, although we’re only using the electrical hookup because the temperatures are going to be below freezing again tonight.

When I called this place a couple of weeks ago to make our reservation, the owner, Brad, told me to give him a call when we were about an hour away from arriving so he could be sure to be around. So today when my GPS told me we were an hour away, I gave Brad a call and got his answering machine–but it took me a minute to realize it was actually his machine. His message is, let’s just say, unique. I can’t quote it word for word, but he says he’s looking at a big buck, it’s just HUGE, and he just can’t believe what he’s seeing, so if he’s not around, he’s probably out trying to get that big ole buck.

Not one mention of the RV park.

Fortunately, when I had read the review of this park before making the reservation, I saw where someone who stayed here previously had also experienced the answering machine message, and they left a note in their review to forewarn the rest of us. Anyway, I left Brad a message, he called back, and I let him know we were on our way.

When we arrived, he met us at the entrance to direct us to our site. He’s a really nice guy, just a salt-of-the-earth type who is running this small business in a small town. He led us to our campsite and actually hooked up our electricity for us and helped us level the rig. He stuck around to chat for a bit before he had to leave and help the next arrival get settled.

Andy and Brad talking each other’s ears off 😊

The RV park is nothing to write home about. There are a lot of “permanent” residents, most likely oilfield workers. There’s a good bit of debris lying around, and there are a couple of dogs running loose in the park (I think they know we have cats in here because I opened the door once, and one of the dogs was just sitting there by the rig staring at the door.) But it’s fine for an overnight stay, especially for only $15.

I made a pot of chickpea curry with some brown rice for dinner, along with a side of green beans. And the rest of the evening has been quiet. It’s been too cold to do very much outside for the past two days, and we’re hoping for some warmer temperatures soon!

Tomorrow will be a short travel day, only about 144 miles into Mingus where we’ll be at Cactus Rose RV Park. We’re going to stay an extra day there so we can take a break from driving, and hopefully get some laundry done.

We don’t have a great internet connection here tonight, so hopefully this blog post will upload!

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

On The Road Again, Day 1: Deming to Van Horn

Currently at the Oasis RV Park in Van Horn, Texas. We are traveling back to my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to spend some time with family for Thanksgiving. I’ll be doing a short update each day of our drive this week.

It’s so exciting to finally be on the road again, doing some serious nomad traveling! We pulled out of Rockhound State Park near Deming, New Mexico this morning around 9:30, where the temperatures were a mild 58° under mostly cloudy skies. We spent a total of 12 nights in that park, and loved every minute of it.

Folding up the patio mat, and then we’ll be ready to roll!

We headed east on I-10, stopping first at a Love’s station just before we hit Las Cruces, where we fueled up both the vehicles. Then we drove another hour or so into El Paso, celebrating our return to our “home” state of Texas (we are domiciled in Livingston, TX).

We made a planned stop at Costco in El Paso to pick up a bag of cat food, some coffee beans for Andy, a big supply of hearing aid batteries for my parents (excellent prices on those at Costco!), and some new brush heads for Andy’s electric toothbrush. After getting the shopping done, we had a delicious lunch of hummus, avocado and veggie wraps in the rig. It’s always nice to have our kitchen and bathroom with us wherever we go. The kitties enjoyed the break from the drive, but soon it was time to get back on the road again.

Stopped at Costco for some shopping and lunch in the rig

As we were leaving El Paso to continue heading east on I-10, we started feeling the brunt of the wicked cold front that is moving through the country this week. The winds were coming out of the north, so they were hitting us on the driver’s side. Of course, Andy was driving the RV and I was following him in the truck, and I could see how much the rig was rocking from the wind, especially when the large tractor trailers passed by. We kept our speed between 55 and 60, even though the speed limit is 80 MPH on that interstate.

At first there was just dust blowing across the highway, but eventually we started getting rain. Fortunately it was never more than a very light rainfall, and as we got closer to Van Horn the winds did seem to lighten up a little bit, although it was still a struggle to keep the vehicles between the lines.

We got into Van Horn about 3:50 CST (we lost an hour driving east), and then it was time to find the Oasis RV park where we’re staying tonight. When we made our reservations for this week, we stuck with parks that offer the Passport America discount (50%), and this one is the only one in Van Horn that does, since the Desert Willow RV Park changed management.

The Oasis RV Park and Apartments in Van Horn

When we first saw the establishment, there was no clear “Office” or “Entrance” sign on the front. There were just a few old cars, a pink building that looks like an old motel, and the big Oasis sign. We drove around to the back where we found the RV park, as evidenced by the power posts that were in the gravel lot behind some more old cars and trucks. But still no sign of an office.

So I told Andy to stay put, and I drove back around to the front of the pink apartments to see if I could spot anything. First I found a building that had a neon “Open” sign in the window, but the lettering on the windows said it was the laundry and indoor pool, along with the location of the weekly church meeting and movie night (“Bring Smokes Beer You”). I stepped inside to see if I could find anyone but there was no one there–and that place was quirky!!

First time I’ve ever been invited to bring smokes and beer to church

I went back outside, and that’s when I saw a small sign at a breezeway between two of the pink apartments that pointed me to the rear of the apartments. Then there was another sign directing me around another corner, and then there was a third sign that said the office was in the “back door of the house”. Sure enough, there was a blue, two-story house behind the pink apartments, and there was another neon “Open” sign in the window beside the somewhat dilapidated door.

I pushed the door open and found myself inside someone’s very cluttered living room/tiny kitchen. I didn’t see anyone so I said “Hello!”

I heard a raspy male voice say “Come on in!”, but I didn’t see anyone. I said “Hello!” again. Again, louder this time, the raspy male voice said “Come on in!”.

I walked a little further into the room, where I first saw a little tiny dog on a footstool, and then I spotted the source of the raspy voice–there was an old, bearded man sitting in a recliner behind a short bookshelf. He was wearing a black headband around his long white hair and he was puffing on a cigarette.

I told him that we had a reservation, so he yelled out “Hey, Betty Jean (name changed), you need to get down here!”

I heard a female voice from upstairs yell back down, “I can’t come right now, I’m peeing!”.

Well, that was awkward.

So in the time we were waiting for the peeing to be completed, the old guy told me all about the junk cars and trucks and other vehicles he has scattered around the place. He has some ambitious plans for fixing them up. In fact, he said that if I was mechanically inclined, he would trade me a couple nights free stay in the RV park for helping him work on his projects. I told him I wasn’t the right person for the job.

The latest acquisition by the owners of the Oasis RV Park.

“Betty Jean” finally came down the stairs and got me checked in to the park by hand-writing me a receipt for the payment. With our Passport America discount, plus sales tax, the rate was $15.12. I gave her a $20 bill, and she gave me a $5 bill in return (evidently there were no coins in the till).

She walked me outside to show me where we could park. All we had to do was wend our way through the various “antique” vehicles sitting around so we could get to the pull-through sites, where we had our choice of #19, #20 or #21, all identical.

The weather when we got here was absolutely frigid. The temperature was 34°, but with the wind chill, it felt like 20°. There was some light moisture falling that felt like sleet, but it wasn’t consistent. Andy hooked up the electricity, but we didn’t bother with the water (supposed to get down to 26° tonight and we don’t want the hoses to freeze) or the sewer (only going to be here one night and we emptied the tanks this morning, so we’re good). They do offer cable television but we didn’t hook that up either, and they have free wi-fi, but it’s so slow it’s basically worthless.

Our site at Oasis RV Park in Van Horn, TX

As we started getting everything put back in order from the drive, Andy noticed that there was a little water on the floor under the dinette table. Our first thought was that the water pump we just replaced was leaking. Nothing to do but take the dinette apart to check it out. We removed all the cushions and opened the cabinets to examine the pump and the water tanks. Thankfully, the pump and all its connections appear to be fine. From what Andy could tell, it looks like there may have been some water intrusion from somewhere in the lines when he filled up the fresh water tanks this morning. It doesn’t appear to be anything actively leaking, so we’ll do some further testing when we get parked at our site in Tupelo.

Look for the source of some moisture under the dinette

So that was our day! We drove 221 miles, and those were some very stressful miles, especially the second half of the day with the wind and rain in East Texas. We’re all tucked in for the night with the electric heater going, and we’ll turn on the gas furnace as needed to supplement as the temperatures drop overnight. We have Reflectix on almost all the windows to help keep the cold out and the heat in.

Tomorrow, our first order of business when we leave here is to have the vehicles inspected, and then we’ll head further east to Lorraine, TX, to Ms G’s RV Park about 273 miles from here. Stay tuned for more excitement! 🙂

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

Rockhound State Park, Rattlesnake Wrangling, Thanksgiving Trip Plan

From Rockhound State Park near Deming, New Mexico:

Today marks one week that we’ve been camped here at Rockhound State Park, and we have loved it. The park and campground are located on a slope of the Little Florida Mountains, providing an expansive view of the valley below, all the way to Deming and beyond. The mountainside to the east tends to block the sunrise, but the view to the west is wide open for some gorgeous sunsets.

Sunset over the valley below our campground

It’s not a very large campground. There are 6 non-electric sites, and 23 sites with electricity. Most of the sites are available on a first-come first-serve basis. In addition, there is a group site where there are four or five electrical hookups. When the campground is full and no one has reserved the group site, they do allow rigs to park in the group area in a kind-of parking lot arrangement, fairly close together but at least they get a spot. There is a nice visitors center with educational displays on the rock specimens that can be found here; a nice garden with a labyrinth for reflective walking; a botanical garden with signs that identify the different types of plants growing here; and a couple of hiking trails a little higher up the mountainside that offer even better views of the valley and the campground.

View of the campground and the valley from the Thunder Egg Trail

We’ve met some really nice people while staying here. Some of them were actually camped near us when we were staying at Pancho Villa State Park and moved up here about the same time we did. For instance, there’s Bobby who is currently parked in the group site, who Andy met at Pancho Villa. Bobby is in the area because he’s getting some dental work done across the border in Puerto Palomas. Last night he came over with some homemade tortilla chips and two different kinds of homemade salsa, and we sat outside at our picnic table and shot the breeze.

We also got to meet the family that purchased the van and Airstream trailer from Nate and Marissa of Less Junk > More Journey of YouTube “fame” (at least in the RVer community). We’ve followed LJMJ for several years on YouTube, picking up tips for full-time RV living, so Andy recognized the rig as soon as it pulled in on Monday. We re-watched the video on LJMJ’s channel where the buyers picked up the rig from Nate and Marissa–sure enough, these were the same folks, Three Little Trees, who are just starting their RV life with three little girls. Congratulations and kudos to them!! Here’s a link to the video where they picked up the Airstream from Less Junk > More Journey:

NOTE: We’ve followed quite a few YouTubers for several years as we were researching and learning about full-time RV life. Some people get excited by meeting TV or sports stars, but we get excited about meeting our YouTube mentors. It’s always fun to pull into a new area and see a familiar rig or hear a familiar voice (Blue Van Dan!!). If you’re interested, I have a list on this blog’s home page of the YouTubers we follow.

Rockhound SP is very well maintained, with the cleanest and most up-to-date bathroom and shower facilities that we’ve found in any of the NM State Parks. The hosts are on the ball, and the staff is friendly and conscientious about their work. In fact, one of them had to come to our neighbor’s campsite yesterday to corral a rattlesnake that had crawled between our neighbor’s feet as he was sitting next to his rig. The snake was quickly captured using a snare on a pole, and then it was relocated to the desert about 10 miles from here. It’s good to know that there are people on staff here who are responsive in ANY situation!

This guy was assigned rattlesnake duty, and handled it perfectly

We’ve spent some time hiking the trails around the park, and I was able to find four geocaches. There is one more in the area that I plan to go after, but you have to take about a half gallon of water with you to retrieve it–it’s listed as a floater, and I’ve never had to retrieve a floater before, so this should be fun.

It’s nice to be closer to Deming after spending two weeks down at Pancho Villa SP. Last Friday we ate breakfast at a local spot called Irma’s Mexican Restaurant, and it was scrumptious. When we finished our meal Andy went to use the restroom, and while he was gone I struck up a conversation with two women at the next table. I was asking them for a recommendation for a good place to get my hair cut. We were still chatting as we walked out the door, after which Andy and I went to get groceries. On the way back to camp, we stopped by the Visitors Center and bought a new annual pass, good for thirteen months since we bought it on November 1 and it’s good through the end of the same calendar month next year (11/30/2020). We got back to the rig, put the groceries away and then spent some time scraping the old annual pass stickers off the windshields and applying the new ones.

Breakfast at Irma’s was so good we forgot to pay for it! 🙂

It was only then that it dawned on me that we had not paid for our breakfast at Irma’s. They had never brought us our ticket, so there was no visual cue to remind us, but that was still no excuse. I immediately called them to apologize and let them know that we were on our way back to Deming to settle up. As it turns out, they said they hadn’t even noticed that we didn’t pay, they just thought there was a problem with the register (or maybe they were just being nice). Anyway, Andy drove back over there and paid our bill, which was critical because we want to visit there again before we leave this area!

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past week finalizing our plans for our drive back to Tupelo next week. The RV Trip Wizard app makes it really easy and fun to plan, but it still involves a fair amount of research to make sure we’re getting all the discounts that we’re entitled to on the drive. Campground fees and fuel will add up quickly on this trip, so we want to save where we can.

We’ll be pulling out of here on Monday morning, hitting I-10 through Las Cruces and El Paso, until we reach Van Horn, Texas. We’ll lose an hour as we head east and we want to make a stop at Costco in El Paso, so Monday will be a full day. On Tuesday morning, our first order of business will be to visit the local Chevron station in Van Horn to have both vehicles inspected as required for our registrations to be legal. Since we were out of state in August when our registrations were due for renewal, we were allowed to submit our registration paperwork and payment online and they sent us our new stickers–but if we were to get pulled over in Texas for any reason and they checked our tag, they would see that we had not had the inspection done, so we could get ticketed for that as well. Per Texas law, we have three days from the time we re-enter the state to have the vehicles inspected. Fortunately we are domiciled in a county that only requires a safety inspection and not an emissions test.

Trip plan for next week

From there on, we’ll continue driving east through Midland/Odessa, Fort Worth/Dallas, Little Rock, and Memphis until we finally reach Tupelo on Sunday the 17th. We’re limiting our daily driving to less than 300 miles to make it a little easier on the kitties, and we’ve scheduled one day off completely from driving on Thursday, just in case we run into any issues and need a break.

I already have our reservations made at each stop along the way, using our Passport America membership to get half-price on the rates. We’re not staying any place fancy–and there’s not a whole lot to choose from in West Texas anyway. As long as we have a place to park safely, plug in to water and electricity, and get some rest, we’re good.

I’m getting excited about getting out on the road again, although I know it will be somewhat stressful. And I’m super-excited about getting to see my family again, and sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with them.

When we start our journey on Monday, I plan to do short daily updates to the blog to document the trip, so stay tuned!

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

October 2019 Expense Report – Full-time RV Living

It’s time once again for our monthly expense report where we share the costs associated with our full-time RV life. We live in a 2014 24′ Thor Chateau 22E Class C RV with our two cats, Maggie and Molly. We do not have a sticks-and-bricks home base, but travel wherever the weather takes us as we chase 70°.

We just completed our 14th month as full-time RVers. In this report we’ll be comparing our current month’s expenses to the same month one year ago, as well as looking at what our average expense has been for the past 12 months to see if we’re staying consistent from month to month.

First, a reminder of the caveats related to our expenses. Every RVer is different–different rig, different diet, different interests–so our expenses are unique to us. Also, I’m not going to share every single personal expense that we incur each month, but only the ones that are directly related to our RV life in some way.

So let’s get started!

Camping fees + Electricity

October 2019: $141

Same month last year: $323

Average for last 12 months: $97/month

We continued chasing 70° across New Mexico from north to south, taking advantage of our state parks annual pass which expired on October 31. The parks in the northern part of the state started turning off their water for the winter, so we had a lot of incentive to move south. We stayed in 5 different state parks: Coyote Creek (October 1 was the last night of an 8-night stay), Storrie Lake (5 nights), Elephant Butte Lake (9 nights), Pancho Villa (14 nights), and Rockhound (Oct 30-31), where we are currently located. Our annual pass allowed us to get a site with electricity and water for $4/night at each of these parks.  This monthly amount also includes the prorated amount for our annual pass ($225/13).

Last year was higher because we spent three nights in RV parks as we drove across Texas toward New Mexico, and we also spent three nights in an RV park in Albuquerque for my birthday visit to Santa Fe. That was the month we discovered the New Mexico annual pass after spending two nights paying the full price for a site. This was also before we knew how easy it is to get a first-come first-serve site in these parks, so we spent some money unnecessarily making online reservations at $12 a pop. Lesson learned–we don’t do that anymore! 🙂

For the last year, we’ve kept our monthly expenses fairly low by (1) boondocking on public land, (2) buying the annual pass for the BLM LTVA for the winter in Yuma, AZ, and (3) buying the annual pass for the New Mexico State Parks where we spend the fall. Since we didn’t boondock at all this month, our expenses were higher than the 12-month average.

Our campsite at Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, NM

DUMPING FEEs

October 2019: $0

Same month last year: $0

Average for last 12 months: $34/month

Since we stayed in state parks that have dump stations this month, we didn’t have to pay to dump our tanks. That helped offset the money we paid for the campsite electricity.

Last year, while staying at RV parks in Texas and New Mexico, we had full hookups, including sewer, so there were no dump fees. And when we stayed at New Mexico state parks, there was a dump station on site, which was free.

Over the last year, we boondocked on public land for a good portion of the year, which meant we had to drive somewhere and pay to dump the tanks.

Fuel for the RV

October 2019: $102

Same month last year: $452

Average for last 12 months: $107/month

Fuel costs were lower this month because, even though we moved 4 times, two of the moves were less than 50 miles. We bought 40 gallons of gas (68 last month) at an average price of $2.55/gallon. We didn’t use the generator at all this month since we had electrical hookups. Our gas mileage was about 9.5 MPG over 483 miles, helped by the fact that we were driving downhill from the higher elevations in the north.

Last year, October was the month we left Livingston, Texas and drove all the way across Texas and then half of New Mexico. We drove a total of 1,335 miles that month at 8.3 MPG, and the average price we paid for gas was $2.85/gallon.

We were very close to our monthly average this month ($102 vs $107) since we’re moving around a little more. The next two months will move that average upward significantly as we make our way back to Mississippi for Thanksgiving, and then back to the Southwest for the winter. The yearly average includes a lot of weeks and months where we just settled in to a place and didn’t move around much, helping to keep fuel costs lower.

Fuel for the Truck

October 2019: $102

Same month last year: $245

Average for last 12 months: $101/month

This month we drove the truck 864 miles, including the four moves to new campsites as well as some sight-seeing and grocery shopping trips. We bought 41 gallons of gas at an average price of $2.52/gal, and we got an average of 21.3 MPG.

Last October, we drove the truck 1,549 miles as we left Texas and moved to New Mexico, including side trips and sight-seeing. We bought 86 gallons of gas at $2.85/gallon, and averaged 21.5 MPG.

Our expenses this month were almost spot-on with our yearly average. That’s going to change in November and December. The average price that we paid over the last 12 months was $2.68/gallon.

Driving the Enchanted Circle toward Taos, NM

PROPANE

October 2019: $11

Same month last year: $0

Average for last 12 months: $41/month

This month we bought 4.1 gallons of propane at a price (including taxes and fees) of $2.70/gallon. Since we had electrical hookups all month, we only needed propane for cooking on the stove and for running the furnace for a short time each morning to take the chill off in the rig. We didn’t need it for running the refrigerator or hot water heater.

Last October we were hooked up to electricity for the entire month and only needed propane for cooking on the stove. We had filled the tank the previous month and did not need to refill it again until after the month ended.

Propane costs per gallon have been all over the board this year, depending on where we were staying. Over the winter in Yuma, it was $3.76/gallon. In May when we stayed just south of the Grand Canyon, it was $4.80/gallon in Tusayan since there was only one provider. Over the summer in Flagstaff, we paid $2.83/gallon at Tractor Supply, which was nice!

groceries

October 2019: $438

Same month last year: $499

Average for last 12 months: $491/month

We did a little more eating out this month which helped lower our grocery bill. Since we have electrical hookups right now, I’m also starting to do a little more batch cooking. We do enjoy the convenience of just reheating something in the microwave rather than cooking from scratch every night. Batch cooking also helps lower the grocery bill.

NOTE: We primarily eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet so we buy a lot of fresh produce and whole grains, along with some wine/beer. We buy very little processed foods in boxes and cans, although we do buy canned beans and tomatoes, both salt-free. We do almost all our grocery shopping at Walmart because of the prices and because the selection is consistent across the area in which we travel.

Prepping vegetables for my favorite Thai peanut noodle dish

dining out

October 2019: $335

Same month last year: $194

Average for past 12 months: $256/month

What can I say, it was my birthday month. We splurged a little bit and ate out more than usual, especially since we were able to walk across the border and have lunch at the Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico–twice. We’ve kind of gotten into the (bad?) habit of going out to eat whenever we go to town for grocery shopping or to do laundry, so maybe we should cut back a little bit on that.

Last year we were still new to the road, and we were a lot more conscious of what we were spending on eating out. This analysis is a good reminder of where we might need to tighten the purse strings a little bit.

But over the course of the past year, we really haven’t eaten out as much as we used to when we lived in our sticks-and-bricks house. Much of the time we’re boondocking out in the middle of nowhere, so it’s just easier to cook our meals in the rig. But when we do decide to splurge, we try to pick places that have great meatless options, and then we become repeat customers (that might also be a problem! 😉 )

NOTE: These numbers include coffee and snacks that we buy when we’re really there just to use the wi-fi. 🙂

We found a wonderful Asian/Southwest fusion restaurant–Latitude 33 in Truth or Consequences, NM

household / furnishings

October 2019: $59

Same month last year: $52

Average for last 12 months: $124/month

Besides spending $29 to replenish our supply of toilet chemical pods and toilet cleaner, this month’s expense was just the usual paper products, kitchen supplies, etc. for the rig.

Last year at this same time, we were picking up some little odds and ends for the rig that we hadn’t anticipated needing when we started out, including an extra pillow for the kitties.

The average for the last 12 months includes the purchase of a new memory foam mattress ($496) in April 2019 to replace the original mattress that came with the RV. That was one of the best decisions we made this year when it comes to comfort and relaxation.

petcare

October 2019: $26

Same month last year: $45

Average for last 12 months: $51/month

This month we got off lightly, only needing their canned food and treats.

Last October’s figure also included a stop at Costco to pick up a big bag of their dry food, which lasts us for several months.

Over the year, in addition to food and litter, we paid for checkups for both kitties at the Apollo Animal Hospital in Glendale, Arizona while we were there for the Christmas holidays.

The campground kitty at Pancho Villa SP came around once or twice a day looking for food, and we fell for it

verizon cellphone / internet

October 2019: $282

Same month last year: $245

Average for last 12 months: $276/month

This was the last month that our bill will include a prorated charge for the purchase of our iPhones from when we bought them in the fall of 2017. Hallelujah!! Next month our bill drops by about $40!  We both have the iPhone 8+ which we use for internet access as well as hotspot wi-fi for the laptop, Kindles and the Roku. We are on the AboveUnlimited data plan so we can go longer without getting throttled.

At this time last year, we were on a different plan with a lower data limit. After getting throttled several times, we soon found out that we needed an upgrade. 🙂

As long as our phones are working properly, we have no intention of getting new devices, so our 12-month average should continue to decline as long as the plan rates don’t go up.

mail forwarding

October 2019: $14

Same month last year: $12

Average for past 12 months: $28/month

This month we had mail forwarded to us twice, primarily because we were waiting for Andy’s new passport to arrive so we could visit Palomas, Mexico for my birthday.

In October of last year, we only had mail forwarded once (and at non-priority rates), but we also paid for special handling to have our absentee ballots delivered for voting. Our mail service, Escapees in Livingston, Texas, is awesome about making sure that their members are able to have their votes counted, even when they’re on the road.

We typically have one, sometimes two, shipments of mail sent to us, although we’ve been going longer and longer between shipments as we handle almost everything electronically now. And we do pay an extra $30/quarter to have them scan the front of every piece of mail that arrives so that we can view it online, and then tell them to hold it for mailing or shred it.

We made two trips across the border into Mexico in October after Andy renewed his passport

Laundry

October 2019: $12

Same month last year: $7

Average for past 12 months: $21/month

This month we made one trip to the laundromat in Deming where we did four loads of laundry. This laundromat is one of the most reasonably priced ones that we’ve encountered.

Last year we did laundry at the Enchanted Trails RV park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when we stayed there for my birthday. Their laundry machines were less expensive, but they should have been, based on how much we paid for our site!

Since we’ve been on the road, we typically do laundry about every three weeks, unless there’s a cat pee emergency. When we have to wash all the bedding, the cost goes up. Fortunately, lately we haven’t had…..never mind, I don’t want to jinx it. 🙂

attractions / entertainment

October 2019: $105

Same month last year: $84

Average for past 12 months: $80/month

In addition to the monthly subscriptions to Hulu, Spotify, Audible, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, etc., Andy tipped the mariachi trio at the Pink Store $20 to sing a couple of songs for my birthday. I also paid $21 for a yearly subscription to the NY Times Crossword (includes additional puzzles like Tiles, my favorite). It’s a great way to keep the mind sharp.

Last year’s expenses were pretty normal in October.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve kept this line item fairly low by avoiding the temptation to slip into “vacation” mode just because we live in an RV. We are not on vacation, we are simply living our everyday lives. But we do occasionally like to visit those touristy spots, and we can save a lot of money primarily because of the Senior Lifetime Pass that Andy has for the National Parks, Monuments and Forests. We got free entry to the Grand Canyon (multiple times), White Sands National Monument, and several others, as well as half off the camping fee when we stayed near Prescott. And the pass only cost him $10–for life!! (It’s $80 now, but still a bargain!)

memberships

October 2019: $31

Same month last year: $60

Average for the last 12 months: $32/month

This month we renewed our annual membership at Costco ($60). We shop there primarily for the dry food for the kitties, as well as hearing aid batteries for my parents (Andy no longer wears his hearing aids).  We also paid $39 for a year-long subscription to RV Trip Planner, an online application that has some wonderful tools for planning cross-country trips like we’re getting ready to make to Mississippi and back. These two expenses were offset by a credit of $68 that we received when we cancelled our roadside assistance coverage with AAA and switched to Good Sam. Since Good Sam offered us free coverage for the first six months if we switched, that will help lower our average monthly expenses for this line item.

In October of last year, we only had the Costco renewal as an expense item.

Over the last year, this line item has included things like AAA Roadside Assistance, Costco, Sam’s Club, Escapees, and Amazon Prime. We are also members of Passport America which gets us discounts at RV parks, but we’ve already paid several years in advance. We were also members of Harvest Hosts this year, but elected not to renew that membership since we only used it once.

The aliens have landed, and they look like Andy!

Equipment for RV

October 2019: $0

Same month last year: $207

Average for last 12 months: $370

Fortunately we didn’t need to purchase anything in the way of RV equipment this month.

Last October, we had to buy a new 30-amp surge protector after ours got fried during thunderstorm at an RV park in Van Horn, Texas. We also bought roof vent covers so that we could leave the overhead vents open with the fans running even when it’s raining (worth their weight in gold). And we had to buy another set of leveling blocks because a lot of campsites are just too sloped to allow the systems in the RV to function properly.

The yearly average is fairly high, primarily due to the November 2018 purchase of our solar system, which is comprised of three 100-watt solar panels and a 100 amp hour Kodiak solar generator which we purchased as a kit, two 100-amp-hour Battle Born lithium batteries, a Morningstar solar charge controller, and all the cables and wiring to connect everything. It was a big investment, but this system is what allows us to boondock and dry camp without hookups, saving us thousands of dollars in campground and RV park fees.

RV Maintenance & REpairs

October 2019: $140

Same month last year: $46

Average for last 12 months: $151/month

This month we finally replaced the water pump that gave us trouble several weeks ago. So far it seems to be working fine (fingers crossed), although we only use it on those nights when the temperatures get below freezing and we have to unhook from the campground water spigot.

Last October, Andy repaired the toilet and the gasket around the overhead fan in the bathroom.

Over the past year, in addition to replacing the water pump twice, we had some higher-than-normal expenses in August 2019 for generator repair, two new tires on the front, and an oil change and air filter.

Swapping out the water pump at 9:30 PM is not a fun time.

truck maintenance & repairs

October 2019: $5

Same month last year: $0

Average for last 12 months: $7

This month Andy gave the truck a quick wash (and not a very good one).

NOTE: We drive a 2004 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner pickup with a camper shell on the back as our chase vehicle (not towed). It has just over 110K miles on it, and it’s super-dependable.

Vehicle insurance

October 2019: $111

We have insurance through Progressive and get a multi-vehicle discount. In our first year, we paid $57/month for the RV for full-timer’s insurance. That increased to $60/month beginning in September 2019 for the next year.

For the Tacoma, our insurance was $40/mo for the first six months, and then in March 2019, it increased to $49/month. When it renewed in September 2019, it went up to $51/month for the next six months.

VEhicle License and registration

October 2019: $17

Our annual license and registration for the RV when we first registered it in September 2018 was $260 (prorated at $22/month on our monthly reports). For the truck it was $201 ($17/month). Since this was the first year we registered the vehicles in Texas, there was an extra $95 charge on each vehicle to transfer them from out-of-state. When we renewed the registrations in September 2019, the expenses for the next year came in at $134 ($11/month) for the RV and $75 ($6/month) for the truck.

Late afternoon golden hour at our campsite in Rockhound State Park, NM

Summary

So our RV living expenses for October 2019 & 2018 and the past 12 months were:

October 2019: $1,932

Same month last year: $2,605

Monthly average for the last 12 months: $2,406

Like I said, this does not include personal expenses like gifts, charitable contributions, grooming and haircuts, clothing, medical expenses or health insurance–things that really aren’t a function of our RV lifestyle. Those types of expenses can vary wildly from person to person, so we don’t include them in this monthly report.

So we again had pretty decent results this month, up slightly from September with the replacement of the water pump. The increase in camping fees and dining out expenses were somewhat offset by savings on fuel and groceries.

Now it’s November, and we have a lot of traveling ahead of us this month. Sometime around the 10th, we’ll head east across Texas and Louisiana, into Mississippi to be with my family for Thanksgiving (hooray!!). And then we’ll turn right around on December 1 and head back out west to the BLM LTVA near Yuma, Arizona where we stayed last winter. We may possibly take a detour through Quartzsite to have our awning replaced–it’s starting to fray a little bit where it attaches to the top of the rig, and with the windy conditions during the winter in Yuma, we don’t want it to totally rip apart. So that’s a lot of driving (i.e. fuel + camping fees) coming up in November and December.

And we have already made our reservation for an exciting adventure in January 2020! We will be joining a group from the Escapees in Carlsbad, New Mexico, to spend a week working underground in the caves of Carlsbad Caverns as part of the annual “lint-picking” clean-up effort. We paid $299 to reserve a campsite with full hookups since there’s no telling what the temperatures and weather conditions will be in late January. We are really excited about being able to spend time in the caves “up close and personal” with the stalactites, stalagmites, and other natural features, doing important work to preserve this natural wonder.

If you’re curious as to what exactly “lint-picking” involves and what we’ll be doing, here’s a little peek:

Currently we’re parked at Rockhound State Park in Deming, New Mexico, which has quickly become one of our very favorite locations. We were able to get a first-come first-serve site with electricity (they’re a little hard to come by in this park). We just purchased our new annual pass which is actually good for 13 months since it expires next year on the last day of the same calendar month in which we purchased it. We are huge fans of the New Mexico state park system, and will definitely get our money’s worth from the pass.

Let us know if you have any questions about our monthly living expenses on the road, and we’ll be glad to answer if we can!

If you’re interested in our monthly expense reports or just our daily adventures, be sure to subscribe to this blog so you get all our updates. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads to stay up with us between blog posts. We also have a YouTube channel where we post occasional short videos of things we’ve seen or done–you can check it out by clicking here!

Safe travels!!

Pancho Villa State Park, The Pink Store in Mexico, New Water Pump, Clothing Storage

From Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico:

Today is Moving Day again! We just wrapped up our 14-day stay at Pancho Villa State Park, one of our favorite state parks in New Mexico. We stayed here last year over the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed it so much that we had to come back this year. It’s a very laid-back kind of place, but there’s a lot of history here, and with the border crossing being close by, there’s opportunity for some interesting day trips.

Since we’ve already seen the museums here at the park and in Columbus, this stay was more about just hanging out and enjoying the sunny, comfortable weather. Some days got a little windy, but we never had to turn on the air conditioner. The nighttime temperatures were generally in the high 30s to low 40s, so we used our electric heater in the early mornings to take the chill off, sometimes supplementing with the propane furnace when it was extra cold.

We made two trips across the border into Puerto Palomas, once on my birthday and then again this past Monday. Both times we had lunch at The Pink Store, which is THE place to go in Palomas. Since we were here last year, they have greatly expanded the store and the restaurant, so I guess business has been good. The same mariachi band as last year was playing at lunch, and Andy gave them a big fat tip to play a couple of songs for me on my birthday.

Great little mariachi trio that plays at The Pink Store in Puerto Palomas

On both trips to Palomas we visited the local panadería (bakery) to get some fresh pastries. We’re always amazed at how inexpensive they are in relation to the quality of the product. Both times we were there a little later in the day so the selection was a little picked over, but again, this seems to indicate that business is really good and we’re happy to see that.

Enjoying my birthday flan at The Pink Store

While we’ve been here I was able to do some geocaching, going on three different hunts and locating all three. One of them was actually hidden inside The Pink Store, so I was able to log my first international geocache on our first visit there. I had forgotten to bring my little bag of trinkets to swap with the items in the cache, so I wound up leaving my Sacagawea dollar coin that I carry around in my wallet. Fortunately we made a return trip to The Pink Store for lunch this week, and I carried my swag bag with me, revisited the cache, retrieved my dollar coin and left a more suitable trinket in exchange.

Andy hanging out with some Día de Muertos decorations at The Pink Store

We made a couple of trips to Deming while we were here, which is the closest town of any size. It’s about 30 miles one way, so it’s not somewhere that you can just make a quick trip to the grocery store for some forgotten item. We made one trip to do laundry, having lunch afterwards at Burger King (the Impossible Burger rocks!). We made another trip for groceries and supplies at Walmart, after having breakfast at IHOP.

Our third trip to Deming was to hopefully put an end to the saga of the water pump. You may recall that while we were at Elephant Butte State Park, we had taken our broken pump to a local shop to get a new one, but the shop owner tested the pump in his workshop and it seemed to work just fine, so Andy reinstalled it and we went on our way. Well, while we were here at Pancho Villa, the temperatures were forecasted to dip below freezing one night, so at nightfall Andy disconnected the water hose from the spigot outside and drained it so it wouldn’t freeze. We turned on the water pump so we could use the water from our onboard tanks overnight for toilet flushing, etc. The pump worked fine all night, but the next morning when Andy went to turn on the water in the sink, the pump conked out again. We decided to go ahead and replace it since it’s not reliable, and we found an RV shop in Deming that had one pump in stock. We purchased it and Andy installed it. Ironically, we haven’t had to use it since then as the temperatures have been warm above freezing, so we’re just hoping that the issue was the pump and not the switch or the electrical system.

Handy Andy installs our newest water pump. Third time’s the charm (we hope!)

While we were in Deming to pick up the pump, we decided to try a local eatery for lunch, and based on glowing reviews in Yelp, we went to Si Señor, a Mexican restaurant. It just wasn’t good. They were packed, so evidently the locals like it, but our food wasn’t that good at all. First of all, they got my order wrong (to their credit, they offered to replace it, but I wasn’t in the mood to wait). The refried beans were watery and runny, and the chips were hard and cold. At the table right next to us, there was a child that screamed the whole time we were there, the sound echoing off the tile floor (again, not the fault of the restaurant, but just another thing that ruined the experience). They did serve us complimentary fresh, hot sopapillas for dessert, so that was a plus. But we won’t be visiting there again.

Si Senor Mexican Restaurant in Deming, NM. We can’t recommend the food, but their tile floor is interesting!

We’ll be pulling out of Pancho Villa State Park later this morning after Andy has his breakfast and takes his shower. We give high marks to this park for their clean, well-maintained bathrooms and showers, as well as the friendly park hosts and staff. While there are a lot of rigs here, there always seem to be first-come first-serve sites with electricity available, and they keep them groomed and in good working order. They have a very nice visitor’s center with an interesting museum related to the history of the area (this was the site of Pancho Villa’s raid into the United States from Mexico), and there are several original structures still standing which were part of the original Camp Furlong that was located on this site at the time of the raid.

The downsides to the park are the distance to a good grocery store (there is a small one in Columbus, but it has very little in the way of produce), and the lack of nearby hiking trails. The park is only three miles from the border wall/fence, and there is a lot of Border Patrol activity in the area–not sure if that heightens or lessens the perception of danger, but we’ve never encountered anything or anyone that made us feel threatened. On the contrary, everyone on both sides of the border here is friendly and helpful.

Campsite #40 at Pancho Villa State Park

Yesterday we spent some time going through all our clothing for the change in seasons. Our winter clothes were packed in a storage bin in the back of the truck, so we had to unload about half of our belongings to get to the bin. I went through my clothes first, and wound up purging a lot of things that either I had never worn, or that I had completely worn out. By the time I was done, I was able to fit my entire wardrobe, both summer and winter, into my little overhead storage compartment, and had nothing left to go back in the storage bin. Andy went through his clothes next, and since he’s a little more reluctant to part with things, he still had some stuff to go back in the truck. But as he said, he needs to keep that bin in the back of the truck anyway to create a flat surface on which to store the solar panels when they’re not being used. Honestly, the back of the truck is like a big Tetris puzzle!

So, where to next?

We have two days left on our annual pass for the New Mexico State Parks. We are going to try our luck at getting a first-come first-serve site at the nearby Rockhound State Park which is located just south of Deming. If we can get in there, we plan to stay for 9-10 days until we make our trip east to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. If we cannot get a site at Rockhound, we will probably try at City of Rocks, Oliver Lee or Leesburg Dam State Parks. All three of these should have sites available, but they’re a little more out of our way for where we want to travel. If we can get into any of these state parks, we will most likely purchase another annual pass on November 1, which will then be valid through November 30, 2020 (13 months).

We plan to allow ourselves about one week to travel to Mississippi. Once we enter Texas, we will have three days to have both vehicles inspected (since we were out of state at the time our tag renewals came due, we haven’t had them inspected yet), so we have to allow ourselves time to have that done. We considered heading east a little earlier and doing a bit of meandering and sightseeing across Texas and Arkansas, but then decided we’d rather just get across Texas as quickly as possible. West Texas is boring, and we’re not excited about the possibility of getting caught in some of the intense fall storms that the Dallas area is famous for. So once we head east, we’re going to high-tail it to Tupelo as quickly as possible.

We’re really excited about seeing the family for Thanksgiving!!

Sunsets in New Mexico are always stunning, even an hour after the sun is gone

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

 

 

 

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Water Pump Mysteries, Trip Planning Tools

From Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico:

We pulled out of Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas, New Mexico a week ago today and made the 278-mile drive to Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We arrived here without a reservation and found that all the first-come first-serve sites were occupied. However, there was a reservation site that was available for one night only in the same area with a great view of the lake, so we took that one for the first night. The next morning, as expected, one of the first-come first-serve sites opened up, so we moved just up the hill. The new site actually overlooks our original site, so it has the same great view of the lake. We went ahead and paid for an additional 8 nights at only $4/night for electricity since we have the annual pass.

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Changed campsites this morning. Last night we were in site #91. It’s a reservation site but since no one had it reserved we were allowed to stay there for one night. This morning it was my duty to go out scouting for a first-come first-serve site, and it just happened that site #76 had opened up this morning. In fact the camp host was in the process of tidying it up, and he held it long enough for me to go get the truck and drive it to the site. We’re moved in, and since we’re actually situated just up the hillside from the previous site, we have the same view of the lake, only now it’s in our back window. 😊 We plan to be here for 8 more nights, at least. . . . #rvlife #fulltimerv #lifeisgood #homeiswhereyouparkit

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Speaking of the lake, we were so pleased to see that the water level is up considerably since we were here a year ago. I checked online and found that the reservoir is currently at 21.6% full, which doesn’t sound that great, but when we were here a year ago, it was only 3.1% full (you can see all the stats here). The landscape looks so different this year with more of it under water. Many of the places I had hiked and photographed are no longer visible, and areas where RVers were boondocking last year are not accessible this year. That said, there are still a lot of RVs camped along the water’s edge on the new beaches, which is an awesome way to camp out here.

Last year the road went all the way to that island where I hiked and RVers boondocked. Not this year!

The area where we are camped is called Lion’s Beach. The sites have electricity and water, a covered picnic table and a fire ring. The sites are fairly close together in almost a parking lot arrangement, so there’s not a lot of privacy. It’s not our favorite camping situation, especially after spending so much time boondocking at a remote site in the forest all summer. But our neighbors have been pretty chill so it hasn’t been that bad, and we’re enjoying having access to electricity, water and a convenient dump station for a change.

We’re not doing a lot of sight-seeing around here, we’re just enjoying the view of the lake and doing some geocaching and people-watching. We did make a return visit to the Passion Pie Cafe, a local establishment that we discovered when we were here last year. In addition to being a top-notch bakery, they also serve breakfast and lunch, and their menu includes a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. The owner is the head chef, and she is generous with the samples of the baked goods. If you’re ever driving up I-25 through Truth or Consequences, it’s definitely worth your time to pop in here for lunch, but fair warning–they do close early sometimes when they have a large catering order, so you might want to call ahead.

Veggie croissant sandwich with side of pickled veggies at Passion Pie Cafe

It wouldn’t be RV life without some maintenance issues. On the Saturday night before we left Storrie Lake, we were getting ready to do the dishes when the water pump quit working. One minute there was water flowing, the next minute there wasn’t. It was 8:15 at night, not the best time for something like that to fail. Fortunately, we had an old water pump on board from when we replaced it back in January (read about it here), so Andy put the older pump (Pump #1) back online, and stuck the dead one (Pump #2) in a box and put it in the basement. Pump #1 seemed to be working fine when we left Storrie Lake, but we knew there was a pressure leak somewhere because every few minutes we would hear it activate for just a second (for those who aren’t familiar with RV water pumps, you should only hear the pump running when water is flowing through a faucet).

Since we’ve been hooked up to city water while here at Elephant Butte, we hadn’t thought much about the water pump until today because we weren’t using it. Andy was in the process of unhooking the electricity and water lines so he could drive over to the dump station when he noticed that we had water trickling out of the overflow valve on the side of the RV, meaning that our onboard water tanks were full. They weren’t full when we arrived, so the only thing we could deduce was that the city water coming in from the faucet was flowing back through the old water pump and filling the tanks. So that meant we had both a dead water pump and a leaky water pump on board and needed to get the problem resolved, most likely with a new pump.

I checked around and found an RV parts supplier here in Elephant Butte, so Andy grabbed the dead pump (pump #2) out of the basement and we drove over to O’Neill’s RV Supply, where we met Rick. Andy showed him the old pump and told him what had happened. Rick had the exact same model available for $110, but first he said he wanted to check our old one because he had never heard of one just quitting like that. He took it back to his shop and hooked it up to electricity, and immediately it came to life and spit out the water that was trapped inside it. So obviously, the pump wasn’t dead after all. After some discussion, we decided not to buy a new pump, but to try re-installing Pump #2 to replace the leaky Pump #1 (confused yet??).

So that’s what we did. Andy put Pump #2 back online, and after a couple of times flicking the switch on and off, the pump pressurized and started working again. So now, we have two things to keep an eye on: (1) Will Pump #2 stop the problem of the city water flow seeping into our onboard tanks and causing them to overflow, and (2) Will Pump #2 suddenly stop working again, and if so, is it a pump problem or an electrical switch problem?

Life is never boring in an RV.

Full moon rising over Elephant Butte Lake as seen from our campsite

We only have two more nights here in Elephant Butte, and then we’re going to head further south to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico, where we’ll close out the month of October. This is also a return visit as we were camped there last year over the Thanksgiving holidays. We’re really looking forward to walking across the border into Mexico on Thursday to celebrate my birthday at the Pink Store in Puerto Palomas, and also picking up some delicious Mexican pastries at the nearby panadería (bakery). Our New Mexico State Parks annual pass expires the end of October, and that will be our signal to start heading east to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi for Thanksgiving.

We’ll have seventeen days of travel before we reach Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo, Mississippi where we’ll be staying over the Thanksgiving holiday. We have reservations that start on November 17, and this is the first time in over a year that we’ve had to plan our travels in order to be at a certain place on a certain date. I started looking around for some online tools to help plan the trip and settled on one called RV Trip Wizard.

RV Trip Wizard is a web-based application that lets you plan a route with a starting point, end point and stops in between. Some of the features that I really like are:

  • You can specify how far you want to drive each day (minimum, maximum and target), and the app will mark that distance on your route so you can see what city you’ll be near when you reach that limit.
  • You can specify what types of parks or campsites you want to see, based on what memberships you own (i.e. Passport America, Good Sam’s, state parks, etc), and exclude those you aren’t interested in (i.e. Thousand Trails, local parks). Then those parks show up along your route, and you can click on them to get all the details.
  • You can specify points of interest that you want to see along your route, such as museums, hospitals, hardware stores, beauty salons–you name it.
  • You can see fuel stops, dump stations, rest stops and overnight parking options along your route.
  • You enter the height and weight of your rig, and the application will show you any hazards along your route, such as low clearances or rickety bridges.
  • After you plan all the stops on your trip, you can export the trip to Google Maps, print out the step-by-step directions, or send the trip details to someone via email.

So, for instance, here’s a screenshot of the beginning stages of my trip plan for our Thanksgiving trip. I specified a target distance of 300 miles per driving day, with a minimum of 250 and a maximum of 350, so those are the circles on the map showing the mileage radius from a state park in Texas that I selected as one of our stops. By looking at the yellow circle, I can see that our target mileage would get us almost to Fort Worth on the next leg of our journey, so I can search that particular area for a campground for our next stop.

The beginnings of our trip plan for Thanksgiving

RV Trip Wizard offers a free demo of the software on their website. The annual subscription is $39 and it works on a laptop, smart phone or tablet, although it will look a little different on each device. So, for instance, you can create your trip plan on your computer and then log in on your smart phone to view it.

By the way, I’m not sponsored in any way by this company, I just think it’s a really cool tool to use. I’m a real geek, so I know I’m going to enjoy playing with this application as we plan our travels both to and from Mississippi for the holidays. I’ll be sure to check back with you in a later post to let you know how it worked out in “real life”. 🙂

So that’s life for us at the moment–all is well, everyone’s healthy and happy and looking forward to more adventures ahead.

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!