Sunday, August 2, 2015

A small update

After a few weeks of working in thousand degree workshop over at Line-X of Plano, the beast got a facelift.

Maybe because of the time spent in New Mexico, but I decided to go for a Desert Tan color. This is the spray on truck bed-liner by Line-X. I'm hoping this will accomplish a few things. Namely: to be cooler in the sun, waterproof the roof for a long time, make the whole vehicle scratch resistant and easy to clean, and finally to add a bit of insulation to the entire vehicle. Oh, and also to blend into the sand dunes and deserts of the U.S.

In the next few days I'll be redoing the solar on top as well, building new railing systems and rewiring some of it. Trying to put as few as possible new holes in my roof covering with the new configuration.

All for now!  Thoughts?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Upgrades, Repairs, and Downtime

Not much to report for the next week or three. Except to say that some big upgrades to the Beast are in the works as well as some general maintenance issues that need addressing.

Here's at least 5,000 words worth of pictures to entertain you.

Sunset in El Malpais..on the last night there

Totally gone bushings on my sway bar

Monday, June 22, 2015

Views from El Malpais, New Mexico

Random overlook on the way to El Malpais

View from the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook in El Malpais

The main attraction in El Malpais National Monument, the Arch.

Ancient Lava flows

View of our campsite from one of my hikes

A little cactus man I stumbled across, about 8 inches tall

A view from above of the 10 camping site camp we stayed in for a long time, different spot than the picture above.

Another view of the Lava Flows from the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook

Sandstone Bluffs Overlook again

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sum Up

Catching up is just a bit too I'm going to use the wisdom of Inigo Montoya:

Quick Summary of the last month:

We left Plano, TX, and started our trip to New Mexico. After a couple days of easy traveling we got to the border, stopped at the Visitor Center in NM at the border to eat, and later that day realized that one of my tires was losing air pressure. After a little testing I determined it was actually the tire rim itself that was leaking. It had a hairline fracture that a little soap water revealed. The next morning I aired up the tire and we went about 50 miles to Tucumcari to a truck repair shop and for 30 bucks I got them to swap out my spare tire.

Back onto the highway for about 5 hours and after passing thru Edgewood a different tire started vibrating wildly. After pulling over I noticed the rear passenger side tag axle wheel was smoking good and was definitely hosed. Called Progressive roadside assistance and 5 hours later(around 11:00pm) we had the Beast on a flatbed trailer pulled by a Semi.  They drove us to 'Second to None' repair shop in Moriarty, NM. This was on a Saturday night about 11:30pm when we got dropped off, a few miles outside of town inside this repair shop's yard that wasn't open until Monday morning.

All things considered, their parking lot/yard was very nice and we had a fully stocked RV, so it was actually not bad at all.  The staff was very accommodating and allowed us to stay there while we waited for parts and repairs to be done. Turns out our Axle had to be repaired, which required an Axle Surgeon. We got out of the yard Wednesday around 5:30pm after repairs were completed.

After driving a couple hours west, we were getting a little hungry and decided to try to find somewhere to eat and we saw signs for Indian Fry bread. We exited I-40 and came into a small village and the Fry Bread restaurant was definitely closed and abandoned. Drove around a bit and eventually decided to turn toward I-40, and saw a casino in the distance. This is how we ended up Dancing Eagle Casino. Turns out they had full hookups in a small RV park right next to the Casino for 10 dollars a night, which is crazy cheap. I had to find my 50 amp plug to take advantage of this. Anyhow the diner in the place had really excellent food, very tasty Chili Cheese Fries. New Mexico style, so instead of like a traditional Texas chili, it had Red Chili/Green Chili sauce on them. Delicious.

We met a few RV'ers in the park from Australia that were here for a couple months traveling with some friends in a pack, hoping we catch up with Bill and Sue on their next visit to the States in a few months. A local told me about Acoma Pueblo, which was 15 miles down the road. Who knew that the oldest inhabited village in America was located right down the road and it also had the oldest European built Church in North America in it. And it was located on top of a Mesa, Sky City!

After 4 nights at the cheap RV park in Desert Eagle Casino and trying to win a Mustang and failing, we hit the road again and ended up in El Malpais National Monument. Free Campsites! Beautiful area.

Next destination was a whirlwind journey to the North Rim Grand Canyon, got a great camp spot for one night, then back down the mountain with smoking brakes.

And back to El Malpais for another week to chill out and hang out with my new buddy John, the camp host. Did a lot of hiking and relaxing. Met another full time RV'er as well, Tiffany, who we hope to catch up with one of these days.

Decided we needed some repairs on the Beast done and we needed to be back in Plano by the end of June. 'Course we had to stop at Desert Eagle Casino for a couple nights to recharge and do laundry, and eat more Chili Cheese Fries! Afterwards we hit the road and drove all the way back to Plano.

Now just waiting to do some repairs, have some leaky oil and transmission issues that I need addressed. Also may get an exhaust brake installed so the Beast can handle mountains better without the smoking brakes. Oh yeah, also a shock decided to rip itself free and was fully extended right above my rear tire. Good times. It's fun working out the kinks.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Catching Up after a Blogging Hiatus

After our trip to Padre in December, we decided to make another attempt at it this April. Again we had the beach all to ourselves, though the sand was littered with a lot of branches and refuse that had washed down from the Brazos and into the Gulf.

It amazes me how empty the beaches there are and how peaceful it is. At least until the mornings, when everything is literally dripping wet from the humidity. We managed I believe 3 nights there on the beach before a major storm woke us up early in the morning with some 40-50mph gusts that were blowing over the pet fence. So I ran out there in shorts and t-shirt trying to wrangle all the gear back onto the truck, before the combination of wind, hail, cold and rain forced me back inside to put on some jeans and my fleece jacket to continue the fight. After about 2 hours of fighting the weather I had everything loaded back onto the Beast (normally takes me about 30 minutes tops in good weather.) Of course about 10 minutes later the whole storm vanished, and it was sunny and peaceful again. By that time we were already driving off the beach and I was ready to keep on going. After a quick stop to the Padre National Seashore Visitor center parking lot to figure out a new destination, and to take a hot shower and put on some dry clothes we decided to make the journey to Big Bend National Park. Even after a very sleepless night, I managed to put about 450 miles of the 600 mile trip behind me, stopping near Ft. Stockton for the night, assuming we only had about 120 miles to go in the morning.

Anyone who has been there knows that I was a dummy for assuming that the GPS destination was our final destination. After arriving at the Park, it was another 2.5 hours of navigating the mountain roads and various Visitor Centers along the way to find a campground. We also had about a 30 minute stop along the way after we saw a Prius about 6 inches from about a 200 foot cliff. I offered my very amateur assistance to use my winch to yank the unfortunate lady's car back onto the road, but she opted to wait for a tow truck. Probably the wise decision. No pictures were taken of the lady's misfortune. Found it odd that with about 6 other 4x4 trucks that had stopped, including the park ranger, that I was the only one with a winch on my RV.

We spent about 4 nights there, and didn't see much until the day we left, when we hit a few trails, taking turns in the vehicle. Though the park allows pets, there are strict rules about them. Cannot take them on trails, cannot leave them unattended, and basically can't do anything except sit in the camp with them. Course this all became apparent after making the 700ish mile journey. So let that be a warning to all pet owners.
We did have nice views from the campsite though:

And had a visit from a herd of Javolina and a pair of Great Horned Owls to keep us entertained.

On the way out of the camp we stopped into the Santa Elena Canyon. Interesting enough, I didn't see anyone crossing the border from Mexico here. (Mexico is on the left of the Rio Grande)

We then started the long journey back toward Snook with a one night and day stay at the Caverns of Sonora. My photos cannot do it justice, but I guarantee that it's worth the stop. Also the gift shop wasn't overpriced like most are, very reasonable prices and lots of neat stuff. I believe it is about 200 miles west of San Antonio.

After another full day of travel we arrived in Snook Texas to spend some time with family and recover from our travels. Then back onward to Plano, after what was a 10 or 11 day 2000 mile trip around Texas, where we stayed for a couple weeks to take care of a few things and spend Mother's day with the family. That catches us up to mid May... to be continued.