New Orleans, LA

French Quarter

We’re here! Yes, one of our favorite spots is New Orleans, so much to see and do. First, we went into the French Quarter and did the touristy-thing mostly walking around and taking in the sights. We stopped into Caf茅 Fleur De Lis for breakfast and I tried the seafood eggs benedict. They used a crab/shrimp cake instead of an english muffin and topped it with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce and it was delicious. Joel had banana praline pancakes with caramelized bacon and a shot of Kentucky bourbon – boy that will wake you up! New Orleans has the best food馃槝.

There was a street band playing in Jackson Square that had such a fun vibe, you couldn’t help but shake that booty! Video below…

It was super hot and muggy (sorry to weather-complain) we expected this going to the South in the summer, but you don’t realize how HOT and how HUMID it is until you step outside of air-conditioning into 95 degrees with 85% humidity. Ugghhh….

Mid-City Park and Sculpture Garden

The beauty of the ancient live oaks and large greenspace is stunning to find just north of downtown New Orleans. This park is HUGE (1,300 acres, 50% bigger than Central Park in NY) and there is so much to do and see. The park features museums, a sculpture garden, Story Book Land which has life size renditions of all our favorite classic fairy tales, and an amazing collection of fauna and flora. It also serves as home to the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some of which are more than 600 years old. Originally in the 1800s, the area was used as a location for dueling, men would defend their pride and honor by dueling each other under the live oak trees. There is also carousel (known as the “flying horses” to locals), originally it was mule-driven when it opened in 1897, and was updated to a mechanical carousel in 1906.聽The animals are still hand painted and so beautiful. So yes, there is some history here. Also, there’s a Cafe du Monde location for beignets, what could be more perfect?

san antonio, texas

Hello! We pulled into San Antonio, Texas for the next 4-5 days, this will be our main stop-over in Texas. We visited the Alamo and River Walk when we did a similar trip 5 years ago, so those sites were not high on our list this time around. However, we did end up at River Walk for an afternoon, but what a difference post-COVID vs pre-COVID. A lot of stores didn’t make it and the restaurants were short staffed, so long wait times for seating and food once you ordered. We heard the problem was getting employees to come back to work. I guess as long as the extra money provided by the Feds is around, this will be a challenge. We actually came across this issue at restaurants across the country, help wanted signs are everywhere.

Dining on the River Walk in San Antonio

Of course when in Texas barbeque is mandatory and we found a great place called 225 (degrees) Urban Smoke. We tried the brisket and smoked sausage with a yellow bbq sauce (kind of a mustard based flavor) and traditional bbq sauce. We paired this with scratch-baked macaroni and cheese, shoestring fries, and pickles, yum!!! The only thing missing was fried green tomatoes, we will have to find these at our next stop in New Orleans, LA.

San Antonio sunset and new closet shelves!

San Antonio weather kept us guessing! The forecast would call for rain and we had clear skies. The forecast said no rain and we got torrential, drenching rain and this was especially frustrating on the day we planned to go to Sea World. We were supposed to have clear weather and at first it was just raining just a bit. No problem, we brought our umbrella and light raincoats (because its also warm, in the 80s). Then it started coming down a bit harder and harder until it was torrential and they actually closed the park. They issued passes to come back another day, so not a total loss. On a brighter note, we finally built some shelves in our closets – yeah 馃槉 more storage space!

A few days later, we tried going to Sea World again, this time, only a very light rain first thing in the morning so no problem. But as the day progressed, it got so hot – – 90s – – plus the very high humidity, we only lasted a couple of hours before calling it quits. I fear we have more of this to come as we travel through the southern states, thank God 馃檹 for air conditioning!!!

An odd duck? Not sure what type of bird this is, but he was very friendly and came right up to us to say hello.

Sonora, TX

At last we are out of New Mexico and {hopefully) safe from any more hail! Note how I am strategically hiding the hail dents in the above photo (ha ha). Okay, so we booked a one night stay at Sonora Caverns in Sonora, TX. I really shouldn’t say “booked” since when I called to reserve a spot, they said their campgrounds are never full, so no need for a reservation. This is a shame because this place is so beautiful and quiet. It has been owned for many generations by the same family and includes pull thru spots with hooks-ups (except sewer) and as a special bonus – – peacocks!!! Yes, these lovely and oh-not-so-quiet fowl freely roam the property, but they mostly stay up by the peahen’s pen. She is in a pen because some rascally racoons ate all the rest of the peahens and she is the only one left. So she is now in witness protection and the peacocks can only visit her through the fence. I really did enjoy the peacocks and you will see why when you see the pics posted below.

Moving on…I also included a sneak peek at the Sonora Caverns which were very interesting. In the pic above, you see a smooth-walled cave, but the cave is completely different as you traverse its corridors. It was a totally different experience than Carlsbad Caverns and I cannot recommend a trip to visit highly enough if you are ever in the area. Everyone here is so nice, and I have never been called “mam” so much in my life, which was really sweet coming from a teenage boy selling me homemade fudge. The fudge was yummy, but you have to be quick when it comes to Joel and fudge (he got most of it)!

Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns聽was formed over 4 million years ago and is one of the聽best聽preserved and most accessible聽cave聽complexes聽in聽the聽world. It is hard to capture in a photograph the enormity (imagine a 60 story building going straight underground) of the cavern and also the low lighting levels make it difficult to photograph. This was our second visit and I feel like we experienced it in a new way, it wasn’t like “oh I’ve seen this before.” Awe inspiring in the complexity of the various formations and the sheer size of it all, this should be on your bucket list! It’s actually on the “world’s bucket list” as it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (joining the ranks of the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, and the Palace of Versailles to name a few). Carlsbad Caverns is part of the national park system, so they accept the national park pass, otherwise, admission is only $15pp. You can enter the caverns one of two ways, either the natural entrance, a long, winding, steep trail or by elevator. We came in through the natural entrance (pictured above), but exited through the elevator. Our visit was delayed a few days due to my mourning the hail damage to our Airstream. However, I decided that I need to accept what has happened, figure out how to get it fixed and move on.

Carlsbad Living Desert and Zoo

We had time to fill on a rainy Sunday in Carlsbad, NM, so we decided to visit the Carlsbad Living Desert and Zoo. It’s more desert than zoo (having come from a city that has a world renowned zoo, maybe I am a bit of a zoo snob). There was a huge variety of cactus along with birds, a painting bear (we missed seeing this, maybe he was sleeping), cougar and a few other small animals. Of the selection, the great horned owl and roadrunner were my favorite. The prickly pear cactus were in bloom with beautiful yellow flowers bursting from their paddle shaped stems. The barrel cactus were also blooming in response to the recent rains. The park is located high on a hillside and the cool, rainy, breezy day was the perfect time to visit.

Carlsbad, NM Wacky Weather

Ugghhh…this crazy New Mexico weather! One minute it’s 90 degrees and you are thinking about taking a dip in the pool to cool off, the next some giant thunder/lightening/hail storm comes rolling in! Strong winds that whip up at a moments notice help to keep you guessing what’s next. On Saturday I was making sausage/egg biscuit sandwiches for dinner (as mentioned above, I was mourning!) and the sunny sky started turning black and then we were hearing these loud booms. The booms were coming over and over and we went out to investigate. A campground ranger was coming by and explained that the large pecan farm next to the campground had weather canons that fired bursts of air into the atmosphere in an attempt to break up the storm clouds. This went on for hours, but must have worked, because the worst of it passed by us and we later heard tornados were spotted just 50 miles from us, south of Roswell. The other thing about these storms is that the rain is SALTY, like super salty! Our truck is covered in white salt. Joel and I spent hours washing it off on Sunday and guess what? Yup, covered in salt again. We are leaving tomorrow morning. 馃檪

Hail Damage to our Airstream

So, as you can see, it was not a good day in Carlsbad, NM. We arrived yesterday afternoon to the KOA which is about 15 miles outside of town. The skies were blue and the temp was in the 90s. We follow the weather forecasts for all the places we visit and it said there was a 50% chance of thunder storms in the late afternoon. The weather remained clear all day until about 7 pm, that was when a dark bank of clouds appeared on the distant horizon. 

About that time we took the 15 mile drive into town for dinner.  We had a really nice dinner at Brix restaurant on their patio with live music, all was well. About 8:30 pm we stopped at Lowe鈥檚 to pick up some shelving materials to install in the closets. While we were in Lowe鈥檚 we could hear thunder, then rain, and then the pounding of what sounded like gravel being poured on the roof. I rushed to the front door to see that it was pouring rain with huge hail, lightning and thunder. I found Joel and we left everything in our cart and made a run for it to the truck. Within those few short minutes we were soaked to the bone wet. I have never seen rain/hail come down so fast and furious. Lightening was continuously flashing across the sky and the air had a burned sulfur smell. We started back to the trailer since we left the dogs there while we went to eat. All I could think of was how scared they must be. The rain and hail was so loud and heavy we could barely see the road or even hear each other talk.

It seemed like it took forever to drive those 15 miles, we had to go slow since the street was flooded and there was almost no visibility. Once we made it back, the worst of it had passed. It was pitch black out, we retrieved a flashlight to assess if there was any damage to the Airstream. Unfortunately, we could see the front and back of the roof was heavily pitted with dents. The dogs were fine and happy to see us.聽聽I don鈥檛 even know what to think is next for us.聽

Turn up the volume to hear the hail pounding our truck

Earlier that evening when all was fine and we were celebrating a birthday-eve dinner….

Sharon’s Birthday Eve Dinner at Brix

Las Cruces, NM

Long lonely road

Heading out from Luna Lake to Las Cruces we had a variety of landscapes, first mountains with lots of trees, then they thinned and thinned until there was nothing but long lonely stretches of road for miles. We made the journey pretty much straight through, stopping to top off the tank and make a quick snack back in the Airstream. We arrived at our first Harvest Host spot, the Rio Grande Winery in Las Cruces a little after 4 pm. Unfortunately, I am not a wine drinker, but Joel enjoyed their local beers and we sat out on their gorgeous patio while the sun set. We dry camped near the vineyards along with two other campers, an Airstream (nice older couple) and a young couple who just purchased a van and were beginning their adventures of full time van living/travel. We had a great time talking with them and wished them a safe journey. It is nice to see people taking the leap and following their dreams.

Luna Lake, AZ

Bedroom view of Luna Lake through the forest

Unexpected places are what make a road trip interesting. Luna Lake was just such a place. We had planned to stop at Cosmic Campground, a dark sky viewing spot near the border of AZ and NM. However, Joel decided to make a change in plans and we ended up at Luna Lake. It is gorgeous! The weather was perfect and we were lucky to snag a lakeview spot. There are no hookups at Luna Lake, so this was our first chance to try out our dry camping skills with our newly installed solar system. We enjoyed a huge evening fire (free firewood everywhere as they were cutting down all the dead trees to thin out the forest for fire season). We had this great forest/lake view out our bedroom window. The camp spots were spaced far apart so you felt like you had the place all to yourself. It got a bit chilly at night, after nearly freezing to death, Joel finally turned on the heater (he thought we would run the battery too low). But, guess what?!? We had a nearly full battery still the next morning…ugghh, me and the dogs are still shivering!

We said a sad “goodbye” to our buddies Linda, Thurman and their adorable little dog Gidget as we head to Carlsbad Caverns (a 2 day drive). We had such a fun time with them, they will be missed! We got a late start since I accidentally left my credit card at the brewery/restaurant the night before. They didn’t open until 2 pm, we were hoping to leave town by 9 am. Through perseverance, we finally got a hold of someone at the restaurant, retrieved the card (what a hassle it would have been trying to order a new one while on the road) and headed out of town late – but credit card in hand!

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

We cruised into Williams, AZ to meet up with our good friends (and fellow Airstreamers) Linda and Thurman. We have a buddy site at the Grand Canyon Railroad RV Park. When they say “railroad” they are not kidding! It’s just a few hundred feet away and super fun at 1 am when a conductor decides to lay on his airhorn for 10 minutes!! However, this didn’t spoil our trip as we enjoyed a day shopping in the cute little town. With so many the kitschy souvenir shops, we all ended up with something new to take home -including a few extra pounds as the BBQ was great at the Cruisers 66 Cafe. Shortly after we arrived for dinner, I happened to look down at my hand to realize that my wedding ring was gone. I remembered taking it off to clean it in our RV, but didn’t remember putting it back on. I was too panicky I couldn’t wait until after our meal, so I ran back to the campsite to look for it. I went through every spot I had been to no avail, I was feeling more than a bit desperate when I finally searched a cupboard one more time and it was laying at the bottom of a bin. Ugghhh! It’s always something, but so happy I found it.

Oh Deer!

We spent another day at the Grand Canyon Deer Farm. We have all visited before, but this is not to be missed when you are in the Williams’ area. The deer are very friendly when you have a cup of food in your hands, not so much once it is gone! They are ever hopeful though, so come around to check if you have gone for a refill. In addition to deer, they have all sorts of other creatures including reindeer, a camel, miniature horses, a zonky (yes, you read that right, a mix between a donkey and a zebra), and prickly porcupines just to name a few. You can get up close with most the creatures who come in as rescues and their staff is super friendly and informative.

Site Seeing in Sedona

Williams is about 1hr 20min to Sedona, AZ so of course we took the drive down. The winding drive down through the mountains into town is so beautiful, it’s simply breathtaking. On this trip we visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which none of us have been to before. It sits high atop the red rocks and though Catholic in faith, its doors are open to all for a visit. Once you arrive, you walk up a circular ramp that takes you to the entry doors. I was more than surprised upon entering to see a 90 foot tall iron cross with Jesus looking down as he hangs from the cross, his eyes are piercing. There is such a deeply spiritual feel to it, I had to sit in a pew and just pray. So thankful for our good friends, this great trip and how fortunate we are to have these opportunities. May God bless each of you!

Fabulous Las Vegas

Our first stop outside California is fabulous Las Vegas! We stayed at the Oasis RV Resort which is a few short miles from the strip. It has a resort worthy pool, security, and is convenient to freeways, attractions and of course, casinos. We didn’t spend too much time in the casinos, as I have cousins who live in town and they are a lot more fun to hang out with. My cousin Steve took us on a UTV ride though the desert around Mt. Charleston. It was Joel’s first time in a UTV and we had so much fun that my cheeks hurt from laughing afterwards. They recently adopted the cutest golden doodle puppy named Ollie. I am so in love with Ollie and he is a great sport, racing along through the desert at 60 mph, his ears flying in the wind. It was a great visit and good to catch up with cousin Steve and cousin Shannon.


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