Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View
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Eric & Sherrell
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Posted on Wednesday May 30, 2012
Take a ride with Jordan Kitty leading the way through the Appalachians on our latest compilation. We picked about 1-3 pictures from all the places we travelled to on our way through Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. (The second take version has a sound track that isn't blocked in the US.)
Posted on Monday May 21, 2012
It took longer than I expected to get the first part of our trip put together. I think it gives you a good view of our hiking and biking in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The weather was cold for March and April. Many of the camp grounds were closed, some roads were still completely blocked with snow and most the of the trees had not bloomed. Despite the nights at 20 degrees F (-6C) we had a great time! Jordan especially enjoyed getting down and dirty (see bonus material at the end).
Posted on Monday May 14, 2012
I got a great deal on them in Peru because no one wanted boots for feet like flippers. For cheap boots they did well. I've probably put 400 miles or more on them and had to shoe goo and restitch both of them. When the soles gave out again on our very last hike, it was time to let them go without a fight.
Posted on Monday May 14, 2012
Posted on Wednesday May 9, 2012
The Appalachians have not disappointed! We hiked & biked over 100 miles in and around the mountains including a hike up to the 3rd highest point in the East Coast. And we also hiked some ridges along the famous Appalachian Trail.
We drove some of the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway before we ran into tire trouble again. Now we've managed to replace all the old tires on the RV.
We had a great visit with my Aunt and Uncle here in North Carolina. It has been 11 years since we saw them last. And we had the opportunity to visit my Grandmother who is 93 and still healthy. Her short term memory is going, but she was having a good day and was funny and sharp-witted as ever.
Our next destination is the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia for a few more days of hiking the Appalachians before heading to Maryland. Someday soon we'll post some photos...!
In the meantime here's a short translation guide for West Coast hikers coming to the East Coast:
Posted on Sunday Apr 22, 2012
Oauchita mountains (really only hills) were beautiful! Everything was blooming and spring was in full force. Unfortunately the camp sites were "closed until spring." Since no one was around we camped at the mountain visits and hiked several of the trails. Lower down along the rivers there were some free camp sites, but the nearby farms sounds made it sound like it was feeding time at the zoo. Hounds, geese, cows, pigs were going nuts. Quite a weird scene to be camped by the river in the woods yet feel like you're in a farm-insane-asylum. I guess after being feed they all seemed to quite down because eventually the forest returned to normal.
The bonus was we road some of the BEST single track mountain bike trials right from our camp site!!
We also stopped at Hot Springs, Arkansas. Home of Bill Clinton and National Hot Springs Park. Excited to soak in some hot water with our sore biking muscles we strapped on our boots and hiked about 5 miles from the park's campground to the hot springs center.
Nice museum and everything, but no public hot springs?! They brag everywhere in the park about preserving the springs for everyone, not just the elite few and how this is one of the oldest protected areas in the USA from the 1800's. And for irony the campground doesn't even have hot showers! Something's wrong here. And all the private spring bath houses are expensive. So we got caught in a freezing rain storm, trudged all the way back to the campground and huddled in the RV with the heater going. Great. Some hot springs park. At least the hiking trails were nice.
Now we are in MISSISSIPPI looking for our next campground/trail/adventure!
Posted on Monday Apr 16, 2012
Starting the day with a bang can suck. Especially if the bang is your hard-to-find 8-ply tire and you're in the middle of nowhere. We were heading down out of the Wichita mountains in Oklahoma when one of our dually tires exploded. (Dually tires are two tires side by side.) Fortunately only one of the two blew out, so we were able to slooowly drive on the shoulder to a truck stop, oddly named "Love's."
Finding the replacement means ordering it, because it is an odd tire. So here we sit at "Love's Travel Stop and Country Store" of Medicine Park, OK waiting for the tire to arrive tomorrow. In the meantime we have been busy listening to dozens of trucks running their engines all night (Sherrell's resorted to plugging her ears with tissue). Quite a change from the pleasant wilderness we were camping in only 20 miles back.
All the free camping we have been doing has just been wiped out by having to special order the tire and having someone come do a roadside repair for us. In a WTM-style moment we thought about just cutting away the blown tire (a la hacksaw because the lugs are on so tight we can't turn them with our tire iron) and driving another 11 miles on the shoulder of the freeway to a tire store and save about $50, but here in the US the cops wouldn't look lightly on us pulling that stunt on the freeway and unlike Mexico where the drivers are more prepared to handle unusually slow moving things on the freeway, I fear someone might plow into us as we creep across on and off ramps. In both cases the risks are too high. So like good citizens we are staying put and paying for someone to fix it for us.
Now if we can only get some of these semis to shut down their engines during the night....
Posted on Wednesday Apr 11, 2012
Six days in the Gila wilderness wasn't enough. The temps at night were in 25F (-4C) range and it snowed on us once, but there are over 400 miles of hiking trails and lots of hot springs. The camping was free and hardly anyone was in the park -- probably because of the cold.
We stopped at White Sands National Monument which blew our minds, literally.
Now we are in Roswell checking out the crashed aliens and looking for the truth.
After today we are off to Bottomless Lakes park and then onward to the Wichita Wilderness in Oklahoma. Assuming we don't stop for an abduction.
We will have some great videos and photos to post when we have a decent internet connection in Maryland.
Posted on Friday Mar 30, 2012
We left Tuscon and headed to the mountains last week. We mountain biked at Catalina State Park then went by Biosphere 2 to check it out. They wanted $20 per person to tour it, so we just looked from a distance and left.
The drive through Salt River Canyon was breath taking. And then we worked our way to the forests near Show Low and Pinetop where the night time temperatures were in the low 40's (probably colder on the mountains where we camped). They had a blizzard the week prior which left snow patches and mud in many places. Most of the AZ state camp grounds where closed so we had to get creative in finding legal but nice overnight camp sites.
After about 4-5 days of hiking/biking we are now on our way through Alpine and towards the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. Since many of the upper roads were closed due to snow we had to skip some of the more impressive camping areas in the 9000+ elevation area. We were really disappointed, but we had to leave Mexico because our Visas were up which forced us to be here a little too early in the season.
At least the weather has been very nice. In the 60's during the day and 35-45 at night (brrrr!) with a bright sunny sky.
Ok, we've borrowed this WIFI connection long enough...got to hit the road!
Posted on Thursday Mar 22, 2012
When that "Charge" light kept turning on after the engine warmed up, I decided to just wire the solar panel into the engine electronics. With all the sun down here we turned the WTM into the WORLD'S FIRST HYBRID TOYOTA MOTORHOME. The solar would run the fuel pump and the electronic ignition and keep the battery charged up enough to crank over the engine once or twice a day. Our goal was to get to the US where the car parts are a lot cheaper.
In Guaymas we stopped to visit friends and I noticed the belts were really loose on the engine. Since the alternator failed to charge after the engine got hot, I wondered if the belts were just slipping. So I tightened them and we pressed on.
Well, it was obvious after about 30 minutes when the charge light came back on that the belts weren't the problem. We pushed on. A new alternator in Mexico is almost 2x more than in the US and we only had about 400 miles to go.
All was great with the sun shining brightly on us powering our electronics. However at the US side of the border everything changed. They made us pull into the Agricultural Inspection Area that is covered (no sun!) and shut off the engine. Without the solar power we couldn't get it started again. Ok, we really didn't block the WHOLE border. But we did shut down our line (1 car behind us). The officers said it happens all the time and since I had cables, we got the car next to us to jump us.
But now that we've got a new alternator all is good (we hope!). Only $80 here, instead of $140 in Mex...that's why we rigged the RV to run off solar until we could make it back to Tuscon...almost worked.
Changing the alternator was a classic WTM moment too. We parked next to O'reily Parts. Went inside, verified they could test everything and they had a rebuilt alternator in stock. Then we proceeded to strip out the old alternator in the parking lot -- it's not like we could really disable our only car anywhere else.... The job required removing some cooling hoses (and draining the coolant) and taking off several brackets and plates. Once we could squeeze the alternator out it of course passed their tests. Since it normally takes about 20 minutes for the alternator to stop charging (measured at the alternator), we opted for the new alternator assuming the problem was intermittent. Then we put all the pieces back in and refilled the coolant system.
Not as quite a WTM moment as when we changed all the shocks last year in the NAPA Parts parking lot with a huge floor jack we rented, but it is a close second! Installing the shocks with the RV blocked up was quite a crowd pleaser.
Now to start the long trek EAST to see our family!