I’ve gone on a lot of hikes. Today’s was one of them.

Not my best effort. About ten steps into the planned “We’re doing all the trails north of the river!” hike, I knew I didn’t have it in me after all.

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We started up there in the parking area on the left, and managed to complete the entire Bamberger Trail, Golden-cheeked Warbler Trail, Little Bluestem Loop, and part of the Bauer Trail, for a total of about 5.5 miles. Another day, Hofheinz Trail. Another day.

I tried everything I knew to try. I drank more water, I ate my trail mix, I rested, I slowed my pace. I even tried to pep-talk myself out of it. “Come on, Emily. On this day 21 years ago, you gave birth to your first baby after 36 hours of labor. Now that was an endurance test. This is nothing. Wimp.”

Nope. Butt dragged the entire time. I’m blaming the fact that we haven’t hiked in Texas sun and heat like this (86 degrees today, and not a cloud in the sky) for several months, and haven’t hiked at all in weeks.

But I got pictures of a bird carcass and a cute little frog, and it turns out that if you hike for an hour, you get to a part of the river where there are no other humans. Worth it.

Bird parts

Bird parts

Teensy tiny froglet!

Teensy tiny froglet!

And the primordial ooze from whence it came?

And the primordial ooze from whence it came?

Unspoiled

Unspoiled

And quiet. Just the way we like it.

And quiet. Just the way we like it.

Welp, nobody got electrocuted, and then we got back to nature

Thursday, January 27:

The problem, in the simplest possible terms — the only ones I understand, really — is that the RV battery wouldn’t hold a charge. It would charge up while we were driving, as it’s supposed to, but then drop dead after we lowered the stabilizers and/or extended the slides.  This becomes a big problem when dry camping or otherwise not being hooked up to a power source.

Tim (and a host of online RV enthusiasts who have been there and done that) to the troubleshooting rescue!

You know it's gonna be a day when there's a drill next to your dish drainer.

You know it’s gonna be a day when there’s a drill next to your dish drainer.

And then you see what it must have been used for...

And then you see what it must have been used for…

... and then you step outside and find even more mayhem.

… and then you step outside and find even more mayhem.

The culprit seems to have been the control switch for the front landing gear. It was drinking more battery juice than it should have been. My understanding, anyway.

Tadaaaa! New switch.

Tadaaaa! New switch. May that bring an end to this particular problem…

... which we realized was not new. This text exchange is from last January, on an occasion when Tim went out to move the RV from point A to point B, and I stayed home.

… which we realized was not exactly new. This text exchange is from last January, on an occasion when Tim went out to move the RV from point A to point B, and I stayed home. It’s all making more sense now. And yes, there’s some other landing gear related stuff on the way, to go with that new switch.

When not filling my usual duties as the "Hold This, Fetch That" chick, I finally labeled all the plastic storage bins in the basement. No more guessing!

When not performing my usual duties as the “Hold This, Fetch That” Chick, I finally labeled all seven plastic storage bins in the basement. No more guessing!

Our supervisor, as usual, enjoyed taking in the sunshine and the breeze.

Our supervisor, as usual, enjoyed taking in the sunshine and the breeze while we worked.

Saturday, January 30:

Today, we humans took full advantage of sunny skies and breezy uh…  breezes, here at Guadalupe River State Park. Unfortunately, Lola’s leg injury (tore her ACL in December) now keeps her from exploring with us. We miss that. A lot. And we know she does too.

It's not hiking if I don't wear my boots. Today we just walked a few nature trails, and I broke in my new tennies.

It’s not hiking if I don’t wear my boots. Today we just walked a few nature trails, and I broke in my new tennies.

The Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe River

"I need a better foot rest, and there's a stick poking my ass. But other than that, this is a perfect spot!"

“I need a better foot rest, and there’s a stick poking my ass. But other than that, this is a perfect seat!”

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Today I learned two things: 1. I'm terrible at skipping rocks, and 2. It doesn't matter if you're terrible at skipping rocks. That shit's good therapy.

Today I learned two things:
1. I’m terrible at skipping rocks, and
2. It doesn’t matter if you’re terrible at skipping rocks. That shit’s good therapy.

How cute is that? Also, define "kids."

Discovery center at the park. Maybe define “kids.”

Wait. I've got a driver's license. I'm going back for one of these!

Wait. I’ve got a driver’s license. I’m going back for one of these!

We saw tracks. Raccoon

We saw tracks.
Raccoon

Deer

Deer

Dog

Dog

Dude

Dude

Tomorrow we plan to hit some of the longer trails in the back country section of the park. Stay tuned for a real hike, boots and all!

Some days, we grit our teeth. Some days, we throw up.

We’re not gonna be on an RV renovation show on HGTV or the Travel Channel.

I don’t even watch that shit. Hell, didn’t even watch it when we lived in a house.

And my Instagram feed is not going to be full of photos showing how we’ve turned our generic hotel room RV interior into something more beach cottagy, or fresh and funky world beat, or vintage retro.

We have absolutely no plans to turn our camper into a glamper.

One of the reasons I wanted to live in an RV for a while is because all the decorating has been done for me. No choosing paint colors, or bathroom fixtures, or upholstery, or wood finish, or door handles, or floor coverings. It’s all there, ready to move in and use, so that we can focus on other things.

Unfortunately, one of those other things is repair work — lots and lots of repair work and upgrades to the systems that keep this place livable. Hell, even if I wanted to redo these roadside motel window treatments (read: pay a crafty friend in beer and nachos to do it for me), that would take a pretty low place on the list after figuring out what the hell is wrong with our electrical system, repairing the front stabilizer jacks, making sure the lug nuts are tight (8 of ‘em on each of four tires, now checked regularly because of this bad day), cleaning the exterior, caulking seams, finding the source of the water leak in the basement, replacing toilet gaskets, and so on and so on and so on.

It. Never. Ends.

So much for making fewer trips to the big box home repair stores because we don’t live in an actual house anymore. Ha!

Another maintenance item: keeping the propane tanks full. Among other things, they keep the fridge running while we're driving (i.e. unplugged). Seat belt use is a personal decision.

Another maintenance item: keeping the propane tanks full. Among other things, they keep the fridge running while we’re driving (i.e. unplugged).
Seat belt use is a personal decision.

That's my guy, in the guts of this here rig, fixing a water leak in the basement. Yes, we have one. It's a forward compartment under the bedroom.

That’s my guy, in the guts of this here rig, fixing a water leak in the basement. Yes, basement. It’s a forward storage compartment under the bedroom, full of typical basementy stuff like tools, bike helmets, garden hoses, power cords, and dog food.

We love this unit for its floor plan, but we are beginning to regret every decision that led to its purchase. Yes, we knew it was used. Yes, we accepted the risks associated with that, and we inspected it to the best of our ability before we signed on the dotted line. But best we can tell, the prior owners did no regular maintenance, which means that at the 8-year mark, a lot of stuff is falling apart, going sideways, and causing heartburn. Buyer beware, indeed.
And speaking of heartburn, when the person who does all that trouble shooting and fixing and replacement part ordering and torque wrenching goes down with a stomach bug, 550 miles from home base, everything stops. And I worry. And I realize how much I still don’t know how to do, and in fact can’t do without Tim’s assistance. For a Navy wife who spent 20+ years figuring out how to take care of a lot of shit myself, while raising two sons, this is… well… it makes me question my abilities, and I don’t like feeling that way.
How we spent a Sunday afternoon in El Paso. Tim was pukey, and we needed to rule out anything more serious, so off we went to the urgent care clinic at Fort Bliss. The experience reinforced the importance of always knowing where the nearest medical facility is, keeping a list of your spouse's medications, and building an extra day or two into any extended road trip for just such emergencies.

How we spent Sunday afternoon in El Paso.
Tim was pukey, and we wanted to rule out anything more serious, so off we went to the urgent care clinic at Fort Bliss.
The experience reinforced the importance of always knowing where the nearest medical facility is, keeping a list of your spouse’s medications handy, and building an extra day or two into any extended road trip for just such emergencies.

And as soon as I get over the bug (We occupy 355 square feet — I didn’t stand a chance), it’s time for this girl to start regular lessons on “What to do if…” Because my plan to leave this rig behind with Tim in it if he has the audacity to croak while we’re on this adventure, and I don’t know how to do everything myself?
Not a viable option.

Two steps forward, one oh-shit-is-that-a-snake??? jump back

The answer is one.

It takes one old man, telling me one time ’round the campfire, that he’s seen one rattlesnake in this godforsaken desert…
to make me think that any slightly twisted stick on the ground is a fucking snake.
Not a snake

Not a snake.

Also, despite appearance to the contrary, not a snake

Also, despite appearance to the contrary, not a snake.

Not a writing pit of snakes

Not a writhing herd (gaggle? flock? slither?) of snakes.

Hiss hiss, motherfucker. (Still not a snake. Just wanted to add a little homage to The Bloggess.)

Hiss hiss, motherfucker.
(Still not a snake. Just a little homage to The Bloggess.)

On the plus side, I burned several extra calories on my 4.5 mile walk this morning, due to embarrassingly frequent leaps backward, spirited arm flailing, and random high-pitched squeaking.
Sheesus. The “I Thought I Saw A Snake” workout, coming soon to a fitness center near you.

Greetings from the corner of Centipede & Fourth

Curious little place, this.

We pulled into the Phoenix area on Sunday, January 17, with plans to set ourselves up before sundown at the Luke AFB Fam Camp, and stay for a few nights. That plan would have worked great, had we actually read enough of the description to learn that the fam camp is not on Luke AFB at all. Not even close. It’s an hour’s drive southwest of the base, at the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field — the AFAF.

See? Gila Bend AFAF, right on the water tower.

See? Gila Bend AFAF, right there on the water tower.

So a good two hours after sunset, we finally had a place to stop for the night. All the spots with hook-ups were taken though, so we had to dry camp, and then play the vulture game in the morning.

For the non-RV crowd:

  • Dry camping = relying on internal water tanks and power sources, which is not a hardship if you’re prepared with fresh water in your holding tank, a working water pump, a fully charged battery, and, if you want to use anything that plugs in, a generator. We do not have a generator. Sometimes we don’t have any of those other things either. It’s all part of the adventure. Have I mentioned that we’re on an adventure?
  • Vulture game = Peering out windows, watching for other campers to leave, so that you can pull into their spot immediately, hook yourself up to shore power and water, make coffee, and take a hot shower.

Nothing wrong with waking up in the desert.

Nothing wrong with waking up in the desert.


And the base itself is quiet. The visiting officers quarters reminded me of our various stints in Navy housing during Tim's career.

And the base itself is quiet. The visiting officers’ quarters reminded me of our various stints in Navy housing during Tim’s career.

Life here is a bit hardscrabble. There are no amenities like you’d find on other military bases (no commissary, exchange, restaurants, bowling alley, or even a gas station), and the water is unfit for consumption — bit of an issue with arsenic — so you’ve got to fill up jugs at one of many reverse osmosis stations scattered throughout the campground. Plus, you’re parked in dirt.

But hey, the washers and dryers are free, and the rate for full hook-ups is $10/night, which is a steal. Also, truly the friendliest and most welcoming RV’ers we’ve ever met are parked here, probably because it’s so remote and so lacking in all the usual comforts. Newcomers need help figuring out how to survive, and the long-timers, some of whom have been wintering here for more than a decade, are very willing to provide advice and assistance. Hell, we’re borrowing extra hoses from one guy, sharing a water hook-up with another, and we only drank the wrong water for the first 36 hours thanks to these folks!

Nightly campfires are one of many ways this community comes together. We uh, we reduced the average age of attendance considerably, when we arrived.

Nightly campfires are one of many ways this community comes together. We uh, we reduced the average age of attendance considerably when we showed up.


Just behind the RV park? A boneyard for old military vehicles from decades gone by.

Just behind the RV park? A boneyard for old military vehicles from decades gone by.


They get used for target practice on the bombing range!

They get used for target practice on the bombing range!

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Some items are older than others. Wooden wheels with steel rims!

Some items are older than others. Wooden wheels with steel rims!


The business end is stamped "Bethlehem Steel," and some other stuff I couldn't make out. A relic!

The business end is stamped “Bethlehem Steel,” along with some other words I couldn’t make out.
A relic!

And even if you leave the base to go into the actual town of Gila Bend? Yeah, not so much there either.

One of two options for grocery shopping. The other was a Family Dollar. Yeah.

One of two options for grocery shopping. The other was a Family Dollar.
Yeah.


We may or may not have increased the Old Crab population.

We may or may not have increased the Old Crab population.


See? Corner of Centipede and Fourth. That's where we are for the next few nights!

See? Corner of Centipede & Fourth. That’s where we’ll be until Saturday morning, when the next set of vultures can pull in as we pull out!