Sunday, April 17, 2016

Texas, Round 2

Destination: Amarillo
The Big Texan Steak House
The most well known restaurant in Amarillo is the The Big Texan, where you can sit on a stage and eat a 72 oz steak for free as long as you finish it, along with the added salad, a baked potato, and 3 fried shrimp. If there was ever a restaurant that encouraged unbridled gluttony I would have to vote the Big Texan hands down, not only because the portions are the size of Texas itself, but also the fact that everything in there is homemade and tastes so good you can't stop eating. No funky franchise flavored cardboard here folks. Real potato salad, cowboy beans, dressings, bbq sauce and much, much more made from scratch. We have all heard a mother, grandmother, or aunt say "save room for desert" many times in our lives. My advise to you is to go for the desert because it is all good. They even make their own fudge, cookies, and brownies. For the first half of the week I contemplated having my fifteen minutes of fame Cool Hand Luke style up there on that stage below the giant Longhorn Skull with glowing eyes, but I am not sure what I feared more, the discomfort of what it would do to my digestive track, or the anger of Hana when we had to pay 72 dollars for a steak I couldn't finish. That's the gamble, a dollar an ounce. Somewhere around 55,000 have attempted this feat, and only in the ballpark of 9,000 have been successful. Nonetheless, I say by all means do not overlook this place because it looks like a tourist trap. The bbq sauce was so good, I left wishing I could get a big tub of it so I could put it on everything, including ice cream. 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park
As for the outdoors we discovered the Palo Duro Canyon, which takes second place in size to the Grand Canyon. We had a good hike around the park through the trails, and fortunately did not see any snakes, although we did hear one in the brush. It was great to get out into some beautiful scenery after spending most of the week camped next to a busy highway. Maya was a trooper and stuck out the six mile hike we went on, and she got a well deserved bath in the river after. Today she was so worn out she just slept. She has been seeming like she doesn't want to walk too much most days lately. We even took turns to pick her up and carry her on one walk. As she is getting up there in age we are contemplating getting her a dog stroller so she doesn't have to be left out on long walks.

  Overall folks here in Amarillo have been pretty nice. I would say it is worth a few days here if you like to take your time with activities, and need a town to do some shopping in. 

  Since we are six months into the journey I will have a post coming soon summarizing some things we have learned along the way about living and traveling in an rv, what we like and don't like as far as where we have camped, along with some of what we have learned about ourselves. I have to say to any rv people contemplating doing this, not to over think it and just go for it, but don't have overly high expectations. Life isn't a bowl of cherries every day no matter what you are doing or where you are going in this mortal life, so I am not going to say everyday is "living the dream" to quote the overused phrase. It is just living life, but seeing a lot of beautiful places and making a few friends you would not have made otherwise along the way. Hana and I both agree that we don't want to go back to conventional life anytime soon. Speaking for Frankie and Maya, I would say they don't want to anytime soon either.


The Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum. An awesome museum we visited, full of vintage RVs and campers that were restored by the Traveland crew. The camper I'm standing in front of was purchased from an 85 year old lady at a gas station, and took 2 years to completely strip and renovate. The process is documented in a photo album, all of which I found very interesting!
Happy Max RV, featured in the movie "RV" with Robin Williams. Beautiful!
I keep checking and re-checking the weather forecast in Taos, hoping it will change. It looks like we're in for several freezing or below freezing nights next week. (How is it colder in New Mexico than Michigan btw!?!) We are also heading into another time zone, which means I'll be waking up bright and early at 5am for work on Eastern time :'( . Yay!

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Destination: Medicine Park, Oklahoma

Wow, he had zero expectations for Oklahoma, but this area in the southwest is absolutely beautiful! Home to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Reserve, which is definitely one of the best national parks/reserves we have been to so far. Tons of hiking trails, and guess what? Dogs are allowed!! I would highly recommend it to anyone passing through.


Wild longhorns
 We didn't know what to expect from Oklahoma, but got more than we thought we would. We stayed outside of Lawton, OK, which we only went to for groceries. We were across the street from the Wichitaw Wildlife Reserve with a beautiful view of  Lake Lawtonka and the mountains. From the tops of the mountains you can really see how flat everything else is. 

We saw plenty of wild buffalo and longhorns. Often they can be found crossing the street, and you just have to slow down and let them cross. They don't impose an immediate threat unless you get too close to them. On one hike we came across around 30 of them next to the path and we just kept our distance. I do have to say I was scared when I came within a few feet of a copperhead that was on the trail. He blended in to the sand, and almost looked like a stick in the path until I stopped and looked at him closer. From what I am learning about snakes, the ones you don't see are the most dangerous because you can easily step on it, or be in it's zone where it would feel threatened.

Wild buffalo
The Reserve for the most part is beautiful, and you just never know what awaits you around the corner on a hiking path. There are a lot of paths of different levels. Most are very rocky, and some are very steep. There are also some moderately level paths too. We came across some really scenic lakes and creeks that ran across large stones. It is a very peaceful place, and if you are hardcore into hiking you will get your exercise. There are also a lot of half mile to two mile paths. Mountain bikers also flock to a couple of the paths in one area on the outer edge of the reserve.  I also have to mention that the military owns a large part of the land next to the reserve. There was one day hiking that I heard quite a few booms and lots of jets tearing through the air. 

This week has also been exceptionally windy, more windy than anywhere I have ever been. I am not sure if it is just the way it is here, or just wind storms coming through. For the most part the days have been warm and the nights have been cool enough for me to sleep comfortably. I sleep best when the room feels like an ice cooler, and if anyone knows my wife they will know that she will be under an electric blanket while I am next to an open window. 

Almost blew right off the top of the mountain!
Wichita National Wildlife Refuge
Downtown Medicine Park - sculpture
Medicine Park - shopping
 In our week here there hasn't been much socializing or meeting people. I did talk to one guy fishing who gave me a generous amount of shad he collected earlier in the day, a catfish, and a few crappie.  There is a small cobblestone community called Medicine Park that has a stocked creek. Most stores are only open on the weekends or just make their own hours. I was never able to go in the bait shop because it was always closed. I also was looking forward to the bakery in town which was always closed. The one day I went in when it was open you had a choice of either four muffins or a brownie. That was about all she was selling. There was, however, a shop which sold cigar box guitars which is something I recently discovered and am considering making. There are two guys who make them in the town. 

   Ticks have been an issue since we have been on the road. We have been pulling them off the dogs as well as ourselves. I have found them in places you don't want to find them on my own body. They seem to like me more than Hana. This week I alone I have found five, and have bites in other places!

Downtown Medicine Park - riverfront

  We haven't been to the dentist since being on the road, not that I went that regularly before. I always hated going to the dentist. Nonetheless, I have gotten into the habit of oil pulling. My teeth were stained from coffee, and I want to keep any potential infections at a minimum. I have also read that it has a lot of other health benefits as well. All you do is get a teaspoon of any type oil, I usually use coconut or olive oil, and vigorously swish it in your mouth for 20 minutes then spit it out. After three months I can tell you not only are most of the coffee stains gone, but my teeth are whiter than they ever were after a cleaning. This has saved us a fortune from having to get the under the gum scraping that dentists recommend. 

  I am now becoming active on RV forums, such as the Good Sam Forum. People on the forums are very helpful and more than willing to give any advice or feedback, which is greatly appreciated. It's definitely a good resource for travelers and full timers!

So far most RV parks we have been to are more or less filled with permanent locals, and are located on busy roads. We have been going to these mainly for the full hookups because it was a pain to run out of water every other day, and have to move the RV every day to drain the grey tank. You would have to shower less and not wash dishes often or very well to stretch your supply and grey tank storage. It takes an average of 15 or more minutes just to level the vehicle in most places, so moving it a few times a week in the beginning was taking up too much time. We aren't expecting perfection, and still the pros far outweigh the cons. I am finding it just takes a while to find what suits you best. Also, in the places where the people are more permanent there isn't as much socializing with your neighbors as there is in places where there are more travelers, or people camping for the weekend. Like everything, life is full of trial and error, and overall it is the journey which we most enjoy. 


Weird RV of the Week:

Yes, this is an actual double length city bus converted into a home on wheels!

Next stop, Amarillo!

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Destination: Daingerfield State Park and Dallas, Texas