Greetings, everyone, from the Cactus Rose RV Park on I-20 near Mingus, Texas! Today is Day 4 of our long-awaited road trip where we’re celebrating the end of quarantine and looking forward to being with family again. We’ve been vaccinated, as have most of our family members, so we’re anticipating some big ole Southern hugs on this trip!
Before we left our home base in Deming, we finished up a few improvements to the rig that we had added to our list after our two shakedown cruises this spring. Andy got the new Battle Born lithium batteries installed, along with the Victron charge controller, giving us 200 amp-hours of power for boondocking. We tested them with the solar panels in the driveway, and the system worked like a champ. We don’t plan on doing any boondocking on this trip, but if we find ourselves in a situation without plug-ins, we’ll be fine.
Andy also fixed the broken latch on the silverware drawer, repositioned the power strip over the dining table, and installed a new vent cover over the new MaxxAir fan so that we can use it when it’s rainy or extra windy. The last item on the list was an oil change, and then we were ready to roll.
The last big excitement before we left was a haircut. Yeah, doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it was a BIG DEAL! When we first decided to live full-time in our RV back in 2018, there was a discussion about hair care. Andy had always kept his hair relatively short and used a LOT of hairspray to keep it in place. The hairspray got all over the bathroom in our sticks-and-bricks home and left a sticky film on everything. I put my foot down and told him if he was going to use hairspray when we lived in the RV, he would need to spray it outside. So he decided to be bold and let his hair grow out into a ponytail. Fortunately, he has beautiful white hair, and the ponytail looked great and was a hit with everyone that saw it.
Unfortunately, over time the hair on the sides began to get a little brittle and break off, so it didn’t reach back to the ponytail. It was always blowing in his face in the winds of New Mexico. So he finally decided to get it all cut off and go back to a shorter style. He found a barber in Deming who gave him a “gentlemen’s cut”, and it looks awesome. It’s easy to care for and style, and works well for RV life. Scroll through the pictures below for the before-and-after!
Before we left, we checked in with our neighbors to let them know we were going to be away. We have the best neighbors in our 55+ community, as everyone looks out after each other. Our next door neighbor volunteered to set out our trash bin for us and bring it back in. The neighbor who lives behind us is going to be picking up our mail for us. And the neighbors across the street will be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. They all have our phone numbers so we can keep in touch.
We pulled out of Deming on Saturday morning, May 1, around 9:45 AM. Our first day of travel was a 226-mile drive to Van Horn, Texas where we stayed at the Wild West RV Park. Using our Good Sam membership, we got a full hook-up site for $26.24, although we only used the electricity. We stayed at this park before when it was under different management, and it looks like the new owners are doing a great job keeping things nice. It’s not fancy, but the utilities work, the bathrooms and laundry are clean, and it’s quiet (except for the train going by).
After getting checked in and set up, we walked down Broadway Street to the Hotel El Capitan, where we enjoyed a draft beer in their lovely courtyard (scroll through the pics in the Instagram post above). The water fountain and the colorful flowers enhanced the shady space, and made it a little oasis in the otherwise-drab town of Van Horn. A few other travelers drifted in and enjoyed the space as well, and it was nice to hear the laughter and conversation.
The hotel is a beautiful structure, built in 1930, and appears to be well-maintained although we only saw the lobby, gift shop and restrooms. The restaurant is supposed to be really good, but we didn’t eat there.
On Day 2, we we had a longer drive of 272 miles to our next stop, Ms. G’s RV Park in Loraine, TX. (We try to keep our driving days under 300 miles.) This is another spot that we’ve stayed at before, but this one appears to be on the decline. The main reason we picked it is because we get a half-price discount with our Passport America membership, so the site only cost us $15 for the night. It was full hookup (electricity, water, sewer), but again we only used the electricity since we were only staying one night.
The park is small and is mostly filled with permanent residents who work in the nearby oil fields. The few sites that are available for overnighters are pull-throughs, but they have a short flat area at the top of a slope. A larger rig might have problems getting level, but our little 24′ Class C fit on that short flat area just fine, and we didn’t even have to use a single leveling block. The park is quiet (except again for the nearby trains going by). There are a lot of cats running loose in the park, and we noticed that one of the residents appeared to be feeding them. The cats were friendly, but I was afraid we were going to find one in our engine the next morning!
The park manager is pretty laid back. When I reserved the site, he told me to give him a call when we were about an hour away from arriving, which I did. When I spoke to him, he said that he wouldn’t be there when we arrived, but that he would come by later to check us in. He told us to take either site #12 or #13, which we did. He never showed up at our site, so the next morning I called him to see how we should go about paying him. He told me to leave the money in the little “birdhouse” dropbox next to the office. Now that’s pretty laid back.
On Day 3 (yesterday) we planned a shorter drive of 146 miles, bringing us to Cactus Rose RV Park near Mingus, Texas. Once again, this is a repeat visit, and this particular stop is one that we look forward to. It’s a small park just off the freeway, with only about 18 total sites, some of which are dry-camping. We are in a full-hookup site, and will be here for two nights. We like to take a day off after every three days of driving to give ourselves and the kitties a break. The facilities here are nice with a small pool, showers, and laundry. The manager, Cindy, is on the ball and takes good care of the place. They are also part of the Passport America plan, so we got the space for half price at $20/night plus a $5 reservation fee.
This morning we started Day 4 by sleeping late, having some coffee and breakfast, and then getting a nice shower. Before we went to bed last night, we were a little concerned because the area was under a severe thunderstorm watch. But fortunately all the bad weather went north of us, and we didn’t even get any rain, so we got a great night’s sleep. We’re using today to catch up on bookkeeping, reading, and of course, blogging.
We’ve done a few things differently on this trip when it comes to meal planning. The week before we left, I made a big pot of curry and another pot of corn/potato chowder for dinner that week, and I froze two meals-worth of each to take with us. It was really easy on Day 1 and Day 2 to just thaw out one of the meals and heat it up for dinner.
For lunches, we’ve been stopping at different locations along the route and having a big Southwestern salad. On Day 1, we ate at a rest stop, on day 2 we ate at the Comanche Trail South city park in Odessa, and yesterday we ate in the Walmart parking lot in Eastland because I needed to pick up a few things while we were there. The salad consists of chopped romaine hearts, black beans (drained and rinsed before we left), quinoa (cooked before we left), red onion, cucumber, shredded carrots (bagged), corn (thawed from frozen ahead of time), shredded cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips. I use Hidden Valley Chipotle dressing, Andy uses Ranch. The salad is delicious, filling, and mostly healthy. Since all the ingredients were prepped ahead of time, we just set up a little salad bar and quickly put it together. Clean up is a breeze as well.
So, where to next?
Tomorrow we continue heading northeast, driving through the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and we’ll be staying at Shady Lake RV Park, which is new to us. The next day will take us into Little Rock, Arkansas for a return visit to the Downtown Riverside RV Park. And then Day 7 will get us to Trace State Park near Tupelo, Mississippi where we’ll finally be “home”. We’ll stay there for 3 nights, and then move to nearby Tombigbee State Park for two weeks.
Since the last blog post, we’ve added another exciting element to our trip! When we conclude our visit to Mississippi, we’re going to head north to Indiana to visit Andy’s brother and sister-in-law Steve and Kathy. It’s been over seven years since I’ve seen them and almost as long since Andy’s visited them, so it will be nice to spend some time with those guys. This will be a part of the country that we haven’t RV’d in before, so it will be an adventure. We’re not sure yet what our route will be when we return to Deming from Indiana, but that’s part of the adventure.
So that’s where we are! So far, everything is working great (knock on wood!). As you may know, Andy drives the RV, Lizzy 3, and I follow behind him in our Prius named Pepper. For most of the trip so far, we’ve been going downhill with a strong tailwind, and Pepper has been getting nearly 80 miles per gallon! The RV has been getting right at 11 miles per gallon, which is also excellent. Of course we’ll eventually have to turn around and go uphill into the wind, but we’re enjoying this while it lasts.
We hope that you’re all doing well, and that you’re also getting excited about getting back out there this year! Stay safe, stay well, and stay happy!!
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