Traveler’s Update

Hello, all! We are alive and well, and much has happened since we came off the road. I thought I would fill you in.

After reaching Georgia and taking care of a few things there, I headed south with the dogs (aka “the girls”). The plan was to board the dogs while I stay with my parents to look for work and find a place to live. Although my parents love the dogs, they did not want them living in their house, and I can’t say that I blame them. Dogs are messy and hairy.

Eric would stay behind in Georgia, and once I found work we would get a place to live and bail out the girls from doggie jail. This was the plan. But as we learned from our journey, things never go according to plan.

After a couple of weeks Eric was becoming restless and we were missing each other, so he joined me in Florida so we could be together and he could conduct a more practical job search. I joined a temp/staff service and got a week long temp job, then an interview, then a temp to hire position.

During these weeks living with my parents, we were missing the girls terribly. We didn’t want to go visit them because we didn’t want them to think they were coming with us. We thought it would do more harm than good.  We hadn’t planned on keeping them there that long, but days turned into weeks and it was hard for us to think of them in a concrete cell.

Because I got more stable work, we had now planned on looking for a place to live. Finally our plan to get the girls out sooner than later was about to come to be. The universe was about to speed up that plan.

It was a Friday that we were heading down to Plantation to visit with Eric’s parents for his dad’s 70th birthday. It was the same Friday that I learned I had gotten the temp to hire position. On our way down, we stopped at the boarding kennel to drop off a check. I wanted to keep up with that so when we did get them out the bill was not gigantic. While we were there, the girl explained that she was concerned about the girls’ weight. She wanted us to take a look. We explained that we didn’t want them to see us, so she let them outside and we peeked out the window. We were horrified with what we saw.

Elsie and Camille were both skin and bones. And I mean that literally. I’m not talking just a few ribs here, you could see their SPINES poking through their skin. Eric had to walk away at the sight of them.

After talking with the girl at the kennel, we decided to arrange to have them seen by a vet of our choosing. I explained that we would call with the vet’s name after I got a recommendation of someone local from my parents. We got back in the car and headed south to continue with our weekend plans.

The further we got from the kennel, the sicker my stomach felt. I now felt this urgency as my eyes welled with hot tears. Of course, we turned the car around and headed back to the kennel to get the girls. But where would we go? We decided for the time being we would get a hotel for the night and figure out the rest.

We picked up the girls, who didn’t seem to care that they hadn’t seen us for so long. The hopped in the car as if we had seen them yesterday. We took them straight to the vet’s office. Even the doctor and his staff were aghast with how thin the girls were. Elsie used to weigh close to 40 lbs, she was now closer to 30. Camille weighed 28 lbs. when we left Georgia in July. She now weighed 22. It was hard to see them like that. They seemed happy and their blood work came out perfect, but I wanted to have them checked out just to be sure.

As we checked into the hotel, it was as if we were back on the west coast. It all came rushing back. The feeling of adventure, of not knowing what was going to happen next. Although I wish the circumstances had been different, we were glad to all be together again.

After a weekend of looking at a few crappy houses, some nice apartments, and a brand new townhouse, we finally found a house to rent. It’s much bigger than what we need and it has carpet rather than tile, but it was the only thing we could find that we could move right into that wasn’t a dump. Luckily we have the generous support of my parents, and were able to move in within days. We didn’t have to live in the hotel anymore.

So now here we are… finally a permanent place to rest our heads. The dogs are with us and I am sure they will fatten up again soon. Eric is in Georgia right now and plans to be back soon with our furniture and other “stuff.” I have a job. It seems weird to go back to work after doing whatever you wanted for 3 months. But I realize that along with the perks of dog ownership comes responsibility, and we couldn’t have lived on the road forever.

We were missing the dogs and wanting them back, and that’s exactly what we got. They seem to be happy, but still boney. But they are getting lots of treats and love. And oh yeah, a much needed bath!

We’re still reeling from all the changes just in the past couple of weeks. It’s hard to tie ourselves down to commitment now that we have had a taste of true adventure, but this is what we wanted, at least for now. We are here for the next year, which is enough time for us to plan our next adventure.

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sunrise, sunset

8.9.2010

As the sun sets here in Jackson, TN, we realize our adventure (at least this specific adventure) has come to an end.  What we thought would be a year turned out to be about 6 weeks, and that’s ok with us.  Plans change.

Tomorrow we will be back in Blairsville.  A few days later I will drive down to Florida to start transitioning back into “normal life.”  Job hunting. Settling down. Back into a routine.

It’s a bittersweet time.  Although we have had enough of packing up and moving to a new city, sometimes a new state, almost every day, I must say I will cherish this time we had on the road.  I’m so glad we took the plunge into the unknown and made these memories together.  And even though it turned out nothing like we had planned, I don’t regret a thing.  But now a new chapter must begin.

We are excited and scared about our new journey.  It’s the same feeling we had before we first got on the road back on July 2nd.  So many “what if’s?”  We have a plan, but undoubtedly, things will not go according to plan.  Again we are forging on into the unknown, but somehow I know we will land on our feet, just like we always do.

Thanks for following along.  We hope to see you on our next adventure.

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taos, nm

8/6

Of all the places we have been, I think I like Taos the best.  Eric likes Sedona, with Taos at second place.  If we weren’t headed back east, I think I could stay here for awhile.

Our day started with a drive to visit the Earthship Visitor Center.  If you haven’t already seen it, I highly suggest you immediately rent the movie Garbage Warrior.  We saw it last year and were excited at the thought of seeing them in person.  Today we fulfilled that wish.

Entryway to the model Earthship

I really think the world is missing the boat, here.  If living this way is possible, everyone should be doing it to some degree.  One of the guys working on an Earthship in progress explained he pays about $100 A YEAR in utility bills because he lives off-grid.  Amazing.

Exterior walls of an Earthship made from recycled tires and colorful bottles

These homes are not traditional looking by any stretch of the imagination and might take a bit of getting used to for some, but I could totally see us living in an Earthship.

Rio Grande Gorge

After visiting the Earthships, we drove over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and headed back to downtown Taos.  I wanted to visit the San Francisco De Asis Mission, the most photographed mission of it’s kind in the world.  Construction of the church was completed in 1815 and it has been a creative inspiration to famous artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams.

San Francisco de Asis Church

We got there at the perfect time of day for taking pictures.  The light was just right.  After visiting the church, we went downtown and browsed the shops and ate lunch.  The girls did well again with all the people and noises and things to see.  After that we were spent and headed back to the hotel.

San Francisco de Asis Church

After lounging for awhile it was time for dinner.  We decided after last night’s meal at the hotel (we ordered fettucini alfredo with sauteed veggies; we got Lipton Pasta Sides with a can of green beans thrown in; we paid $12.95 for it!  the nerve!), that we would get some take out from one of the lovely restaurants we saw in town.  Thankfully we decided on Lula’s, a cute little cafe on the main drag.  The pasta special was divine and the mozzarella panini was delicious.  We even got a piece of cheesecake for dessert, which was also wonderful.  Even though it was so good, I miss having a kitchen and being able to cook yummy and healthy food for ourselves.

Tomorrow it’s back on the road again to head back east towards Georgia.  This adventure is slowing down, but we have new adventures ahead…

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bluewater lake state park, nm

8/4

It’s so hard to go back to camping, especially after TWO nights at a hotel.  But, we have to be frugal if we want to do the things we want before we get back to Georgia.

The drive to Bluewater Lake State Park from Sedona was nice and not too long.  We picked this park because it was about halfway from Sedona, AZ to Taos, NM.  Taos is the next and last place on our wish list of places to see.  We want to see an Earthship live and in person.

View of Bluewater Lake from our tent site

During most of the drive we were in Navajo Indian Reservation, and there were many places along the way to stop at look at locally made jewelry and crafts.  We stopped at a spot off the road where they were selling jewelry and I bought myself a little turquoise charm.  It was made by a Navajo/Zuni Indian and it’s in the shape of an arrow.  This fetish shape is supposed to mean protection through life’s journey.  I thought that was cool.

Warning: PG 13 activity captured in this photo! Camille makes herself at home at Bluewater Lake

We finally made it to Bluewater Lake State Park, which is beautiful.  We found a nice site that was right on the lake and had afternoon shade.  We both weren’t feeling the best, so we made dinner and walked down to the lake to pick out our rocks.

The sun melts into Bluewater Lake

The sunset was gorgeous.  We sat on a rock and watched the sun slowly set into the west, the same west that we just came from.  It was another grand performance from Mother Nature.

The next morning we made a pancake breakfast and hit the road for Taos.  We weren’t sure where we would be bedding down for the night.  Once we got closer to Taos and saw that a big thunder storm was coming, we decided to get a hotel.  We found a nice little local place, The Sagebrush Inn, for a really reasonable rate.  It was built in 1929 and is so charming!  All four of us are staying here for2 nights for the price of one night at our hotel in Sedona!  Sounds good to me.  Not only that, but we were upgraded to a suite because the front desk lady had the hots for Eric!  And there’s more: live music tonight and tomorrow night, and there’s a restaurant right in to hotel.  We probably won’t be leaving the Sagebrush to explore until tomorrow.

Not only do we plan to explore the Earthships in Taos, but we also want to browse the Historic District, a local Ghost Town, Taos Pueblo, and some local wineries.  Stay tuned for details!

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sedona, az

After settling in to our room, Eric took this awesome sunset picture just outside our door.  Gorgeous!

The next morning after enjoying another Best Western continental breakfast, we headed out for the full day we had planned.  First, a hike at Bell Rock which took most of the morning.  It was late morning when we got started and getting hot.  By the time we were through there we were all spent, including the dogs.

Bell Rock

We ate lunch at a little place called the Blue Moon Cafe.  It was yum!  That cold apple juice hit the spot after our heated hike, and we were able to sit outside with the dogs.

View from Bell Rock

We then took a scenic drive to Javelina Leap Vineyard which was about a 25 minutes from where we were staying in Sedona.  Yes, they have vineyards in Arizona!  I’m pretty sure there is a vineyard in every state in the continental US.  It was a cute little boutique winery.  We did a tasting of the four wines they had available.  Eric was not impressed.  I liked the Barbera.  We left empty handed and went to browse the shops downtown.

Grapes growing at Javelina Leap Vineyard

By the end of the day we were all exhausted.  We are staying one more night in Sedona.  I’m not sure where we will be headed tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Fun Fact:  Sedona is the home to the only McDonald’s with teal arches instead of golden.  Click here to find out why.

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zion national park, UT

8/1 & 8/2

After leaving Cathedral Gorge, we headed towards Zion National Park in Utah.  We had heard great things about it and were excited to see it in person.  It was only a few hours drive from our last camp.

We got there early afternoon and were surprised to get a campsite just past the south entrance.  After setting up camp and paying for one night, we looked through the information we received at the entrance and were disappointed to learn that the one long road in the park where all the points of interest are was closed to private vehicles and open to the shuttle buses only (no dogs allowed!).  Had we known this we probably wouldn’t have stayed in the park.  But we decided to make the best of it and went on the road that we could go on.  It was a long curvy mountain road that was under construction.  At this point we were put off by Zion.

Yes, there are breathtaking canyon views in Zion that you can’t see anywhere else.  Yes, we know we have dogs and if we didn’t we could move about the park freely.  But, at the end of travel days when we are usually tired and hungry we tend to be a bit cranky.  After snapping a few photos and getting back down the mountain, we decided that I would go on the shuttle bus and see a few of the sights.  Eric would stay back at camp with the dogs and relax.

I got on the shuttle bus about a half a mile from camp and took it all the way to the last stop.  I was looking for the stop that had the petroglyphs that Eric read about online.  The tour didn’t mention them, so after walking around at the last stop, I decided to get back on the shuttle and ask someone at the Zion Museum.  It turned out that what I was looking for was right across the street from our campground.  I thought that was odd that this feature of the park was so secretive and not marked.

I walked back to camp to find Eric mending another hole in our tent screen.  He explained that he was resting in the tent with the dogs and Camille spotted another dog who was unleashed.  He tried to grab her by the leg, but she took off through the screen making a huge hole.  She ran around the campground for a bit, long enough to attract the attention of a park ranger and the camp host.  They reminded Eric that dogs are supposed to be leashed (we know!).  After mending the other few holes Camille has created in the screen, we were now out of thread.  We had to head back into town to get some and I finished mending the hole.  While I did that, Eric went to take a look at the petroglyphs.

Camille wears her hairpiece (end of my braid). Good thing she's so cute or Eric would have left her in Zion.

We ate dinner and turned in early.  The next morning we had a wonderful pancake breakfast, then packed up and were on the road by 10:30.  On our way out of the park, we asked a park ranger if there was somewhere else we could see the petroglyphs.  He explained that there are several areas in the park that have petroglyphs and pictographs, but because of past vandalism and possible future vandalism, that not all of the locations are made accessible to the public.  Such a shame that this is the case.  What the hell is wrong with people anyway?

View of Columbia River seen on our way to Sedona

We made it to Sedona and are staying at the Best Western tonight.  The drive was a little longer than 5 hours.  We didn’t get here soon enough, because I had a smashing headache.  Tomorrow when I’m feeling better we will explore what Sedona has to offer.

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cathedral gorge state park, nv

7/31

We woke up and had our Best Western continental breakfast, then left Tonopah for Cathedral Gorge State Park.  We were excited, because today’s drive would take us on the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Extraterrestrial Highway sign in Nevada

The Ale-Inn in Rachel, NV

The drive through the desert was as expected.  Miles and miles of nothing and a sign that read “163 Miles until next gas.”  We didn’t see any aliens, but we did see a lot of signs illustrating the capitalization of aliens.  The “Ale-Inn” in the town of Rachel is probably the most famous destination on the highway.  When I say “town” I mean one restaurant with a trailer in back where all the employees live.  We took a picture of the sign, Eric got an “area51” sticker, and we were on the road again.

The Alien Museum

Really? Alien Jerky? The aliens are mad that you are making money off of them like this!

Along this highway there were these mysterious little trees that were obviously planted and not native to the area.  We spotted them about every mile or so, and they had colorful ribbons tied to them.  Not sure what they meant, but they were pretty cool.

One of the mysterious trees on Extraterrestrial Highway

It took us a few hours to get to Cathedral Gorge.  I must say, of all the places we have been, this is my favorite.  I was worried we wouldn’t get a camp site, but upon arrival we could see this was silly.  There were 22 sites and only one was taken by an RV.  I guess the desert is not a popular place for camping in the dead of summer.  We had our choice of spots, and picked the one with the most shade.  After setting up camp, we got back in the car to explore the park.

Now we can say we have been to the moon!

First stop was the moon caves.  The name was appropriate, because it did look like we were on the moon or another planet.  The temperature in the caves was probably about 20 degrees cooler than the summer heat out in the open.  We explored a few caves then drove to the next point of interest.

Eric and the dogs explore the Moon Caves

Miller and Eagle Lookouts were next.  As you can see, this place is amazing.  The reasons why I liked it here so much was because it was somewhere that was out of the way, not crowded with people, but still had amazing things to see.

View from Miller Overlook

After our exploration we headed back to camp and set up the hammock.  It was late afternoon, so it wasn’t as hot and there was a nice breeze.  We sat in the hammock and read for awhile, talked about our next moves, and just enjoyed the scenery.  We were completely content.

View from camp at Cathedral Gorge

As the sun sank in the west, we took a little walk on one of the trails to take some sunset pictures.  We all climbed this small hill to get a better view of the gorge.  Breathtaking.  We were sitting on top of the world, a gentle breeze was blowing, and the sun was lighting up the gorge.  We sat there for awhile and soaked it all in.  We were filled with amazement at Mother Nature, and also with a bittersweet feeling knowing our travels would be over soon.

Eric and the dogs enjoy the sunset

Watching the sunset from a hilltop

Back to camp to cook dinner, take a shower (yes, this park has SHOWERS!), and turn in.  Even though we only stayed one night at Cathedral Gorge, we’ll never forget it.

Climbing down the hill after sunset watching

View of sunset from camp

And by the way, Cathedral Gorge’s penny was from 1999.

Next stop: Zion National Park in Utah.

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