Category Archives: RV adventures

Lessons Learned

photo of the stage at Fiddler's Dream coffee house

The stage at Fiddler’s Dream Coffee House

Last night we made it home from our second trip out in the RV. We went back to Arizona again. This time starting off in Phoenix where we had a Sunlight show at Fiddler’s Dream coffee house. Then heading to Tucson the next day where we had a gig at Delectables restaurant.

Aaron and I, Sunlight, before our show

Aaron and I (Sunlight), before hopping on stage for our show

Fiddler’s Dream is just that, a dream venue! The audience is actually listening and not just there to eat and visit with each other. We had a really wonderful response there, it was lovely. We will definitely go back on our next trip to Phoenix! Before we left Phoenix, we spent the late morning/early afternoon at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. They had an exhibit of Chihuly glass sculptures all throughout the gardens.

Chihuly glass sculpture

Chihuly glass sculpture at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens

Though it was a bit chilly, it was a lovely sunny day to be there. We met a friend there and also had a nice lunch in the patio cafe where the quail were so tame they came right up to us and practically ate out of our hands. I have never seen so many quail in one place and NEVER so tame!

Chihuly glass sculpture in the gardens

Chihuly glass sculpture in the gardens

tame quail in the patio cafe at the botanical gardens

tame quail in the patio cafe at the botanical gardens

quail at the botanical gardens

quail at the botanical gardens

There was also a lone squirrel in the mix that did, in fact, come up to me and take a piece of bread from my hand. He even posed for several photos!

squirrel that ate out of my hands!

squirrel that ate out of my hands!

Delectables was another lovely venue. It was a restaurant/bar and though the audience wasn’t there just for the music (we played for an art opening), they were friendly and welcoming. The owner, Donna, was sweet and invited us to come back anytime we were in Tucson.

more Chihuly glass

more Chihuly glass

The third day, we were supposed to be on our way to Bisbee to play a show at the Grand Hotel Saloon, but our RV had other plans. It started the night before on our way back to the RV park from our gig at Delectables. The night had gone really well, the crowd enjoyed our music and we enjoyed the crowd. That is, until we pulled onto the freeway and the RV started shaking and rocking back and forth. Aaron immediately pulled over because we thought we had blown out a tire. He got out, walked around to look at all the tires and got back in saying they were all still fine. So, we fired the engine back up and got back on the road and everything seemed fine.

Huge Chihuly glass sculpture

Huge Chihuly glass sculpture

The next morning we headed back out on the road with the intention of making a couple of stops for a new air filter and dish soap before we hit the road towards Bisbee for our show at 4pm that afternoon. This time we were exiting the interstate when the shaking and rocking started. This was enough for us to stop in the parking lot in front of the auto parts store and check the tires and underside of the RV once again, this time in the light of day. There was evidence of something being off with the suspension, so we ended up calling the roadside assistance number for a tow truck. Incidentally, we had JUST purchased the roadside assistance before leaving on this trip. Thank goodness!

RV hooked up to the tow truck

Hooked up to the tow truck, finally, after a 3-4 hour wait!

Long story short, after a 3-4 hour wait (it was a Sunday after all), we got towed to the mechanic’s yard and ended up spending the night there while waiting for our new tires to be ordered and delivered Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, we were back on the road thinking we had taken care of all the RV issues. We had already planned on going home that day anyway. To our dismay, we found ourselves stopped on the side of the road again, this time because we were losing power and backfiring. After some consultation with friends and family on facebook we bought some fuel cleaner and that seemed to help enough to get us to Las Cruces (halfway point) for the night.

Aaron and I at the botanical gardens

Aaron and I at the botanical gardens

Needless to say, we have learned a thing or two on our first couple of RV trips! Due to monetary concerns, we have been forced to come home until at least the end of February. Here’s a short list of our lessons learned;

1. Roadside assistance membership is a MUST!

2. Three dogs is way too much for a small motor home! Any motor home really, they need a yard to run in and I HATE cleaning up dog poop in those little plastic bags! Gross!

3. Towing a car behind your motor home may be a pain, but having a car when you get to your destination is priceless. Bikes are fine, but when you get a flat tire in a small town, you’re stuck with a flat tire until you get to a place that has a bike shop. Also, driving a motor home to a gig can be difficult when it comes time to find a parking space!

4. Though it is nice to travel around in a motor home and have your home always with you, it’s also nice to have a home to go back to when the trip is over. Since we rented out all the rooms in our house with plans to live full time in our RV, we had to sleep on our mattress on the floor of our living room when we got home last night because it was WAY too cold to sleep out in the RV!

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Sidetracked…

We decided while in Bisbee that it would be a good decision to make a side trip back to Albuquerque for a few weeks. Lots of factors came into this decision but really, we just wanted to be home for the holidays! I thought it would be nice to be out and on our own, but when it came down to it, I just wanted to be with the family for the Holidays. Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday, being all about gratitude and food! πŸ™‚ Personally, I like to be thankful everyday of the year, but there is something wonderful about a day set aside for that purpose.

One of the reasons we came back to Albuquerque is because our harmonica player for Sunlight is here. We had planned to take him with us on our next trip, mainly because Sunlight just isn’t the same without Ray! His harp and percussion just fills out the music so well. Unfortunately, for Ray and us, he was hit by a car a couple of weekends ago! He suffered a shattered knee and femur and will be laid up for months recovering after two surgeries to repair his knee and ligaments. We have our fingers crossed that he will be able to join us by February when we hope to head back to Arizona again.

In the meantime, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are taking another trip to our neighboring state. We have booked a few shows for Sunlight this weekend in Phoenix, Tucson and Bisbee. The timing couldn’t be more perfect seeing as there is a cold front coming into Albuquerque the day we are leaving. Unfortunately, the same cold front is moving through Arizona too, but their cold temps are similar to warm temps in Albuquerque!

Since my last blog post we have ordered and received download cards for our first Sunlight album! We will have the cards available at our shows this weekend and the album is also available for download on CD Baby. Please let us know in an email or comment if you are interested in a physical CD of our first album. We do plan to have some made but want to wait to see what the demand is before we decide how many to have made.

While in Arizona, I am taking more prints to the latest gallery to represent my work. 55 Main Gallery in Bisbee. Turns out the venue Sunlight is playing at in Bisbee on Sunday is right next door to the gallery. The Grand Hotel Saloon is where you can find us this Sunday from 4-7pm.

Friday evening we are playing in Phoenix at Fiddler’s Dream coffee house. We are sharing the bill there and will be onstage from 8:50-9:35pm.

Saturday evening we are playing an art opening at a restaurant in Tucson. Delectables is on 4th Ave. We play from 7-10pm.

If you live in any of these areas, it sure would be great to see/meet you! πŸ™‚

This will be a short trip to Arizona, returning next Monday or Tuesday. In January, we are planning a trip to southern Texas. I am really excited about it, I have never really visited that area of the state. We plan to go to San Antonio, Austin and possibly Dallas/Fort Worth. We have heard so many great things about Austin, it’s going to be fun to finally go there!

Stay tuned for next week’s post, all about our trip and shows in Arizona! πŸ™‚

Bisbee, Arizona Then Home Again

photo of sunrise in Bisbee, Az

Bisbee sunrise

After the inspiring time spent at Chiricahua National Monument, we took a short drive over to Bisbee, Arizona. This small town is only a few miles away from the Mexican border.

photo of Aaron and Paula suited up to go into the Queen mine

Aaron and I suited up for our tour of the Queen mine

Bisbee was once the largest mining town between St. Louis and San Francisco! In it’s heyday the town had over 25,000 inhabitants. I forget the exact number but I believe there was 30 billion pounds of copper mined out of the hills and underground tunnels beneath Bisbee.

photo of fence post

Interesting fence post on a residence in Bisbee

The elevation is 5,300 feet so even though it’s located in southern Arizona, it wasn’t quite as warm as other southern towns in the state. In fact, after only a few days, a cold front blew in and we had wind, a bit of rain and lots of clouds.

photo of Main street in Bisbee, AZ

Main street, Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee High School

Bisbee High School

We took a tour of the Queen Mine which just happened to be just down the hill from the Queen Mine RV Park. It was an interesting and educational tour, even if it was a bit freaky being underground in the man made tunnels.

photo of the train ride into the mine

Riding the train into the mine

We stayed for a week and had plenty of time to explore around the town. Bisbee has some interesting architecture. It was quite a wealthy town when built back at the end of the 19th century.

shitter or sanitary car inside the mine

Sanitary or “shitter” car down in the mine

Aaron sitting on the shitter car

Aaron found this to be the perfect photo op! Sitting on the shit car! πŸ™‚

boss' quadricycle in the mine

Boss’ quadricycle. This was how the mine foreman got around in the mine’s 2,500 miles of tunnels!

I located a gallery, 55 Main Gallery, that is now representing my art prints. I once sold my Paula Beck prints in the same space! I didn’t realize it was the same place until showing Aaron around the gallery. I found one of my old print racks, designed and custom built by myself with my stepdad’s help back in the early 1990s.The gallery had since been sold to a new owner, but apparently, the print rack came with the space and is still being used to display prints! 55 Main gallery has been in that location for 20 years now. My how the time flies by!

Copper Queen hotel

The Copper Queen hotel is at least a hundred years old and possibly haunted. We ate lunch at the restaurant there and enjoyed some live music in the saloon.

We got plenty of exercise while we were there as the town is made up of nothing but hills and stairs! Unfortunately, my bike tire popped while we were in the Chiricahuas and there is no bike shop in Bisbee. So, we walked everywhere and road the town bus a couple of times in order to get our groceries from the only store about 5 miles away from the RV park we stayed in.

stairs in Bisbee

Bisbee is famous for it’s stairs! They even have a race called the 1000 stairs race.

more stairs!

more stairs!

After a month on the road, we learned a LOT! We have since decided to return to Albuquerque for a few weeks to regroup and figure some things out. We have a Sunlight show booked in Phoenix for December 6th at the Fiddler’s Dream coffee house. We hope to book a few more gigs before then as well. This adventure is FAR from over, I can promise you that! πŸ™‚

Chiricahua National Monument

Panorama shot taken from the top of Inspiration point. This spot was a 4 mile hike into the monument. Definitely, an inspiration! We ate lunch here, it was wonderful!

Panorama shot taken from the top of Inspiration point. This spot was a 4 mile hike into the monument. Definitely, an inspiration! Click on photo to see larger version.

We pulled out of Silver City, NM on November 7th and headed straight for Chiricahua National Monument just past the NM/AZ border. Another of those amazing desert mountain ranges that seemingly pops right up out of the middle of the desolate desert southwest.

In the Heart of the Rocks trail, so many huge, gorgeous rock formations!

In the Heart of the Rocks trail, so many huge, gorgeous rock formations!

Using my iphone maps as a guide, we ended up driving our RV down a scary dirt road. We have since bought an atlas in book form. No more trusting the iphone map app! It’s not necessarily that the dirt road was so bad, but we happened down said road at the least opportune time of day.

drivingdirtroad

The beginning of the dirt road we took

The sun was in that spot where it shines right into your eyes as you drive towards the horizon. The road was a bit twisty and of course we had never been on it before so we had no idea what to expect. Luckily, the dirt road only lasted 11 miles, but it was the most nerve wracking 11 miles! It seemed to go on forever!

Aaron throwing a stick for the dogs on one of our many walks down to the Silver Spur meadow

Aaron throwing a stick for the dogs on one of our many walks down to the Silver Spur meadow

Of course it didn’t and we eventually ended up in a beautiful mountain canyon campground. The Chiricahuas are known for their awe inspiring rock formations. They resemble crowds of people, sentinels watching over the canyons like ancestors of the Apache natives that once called this place home.

Taken on our first hike, back lit tree at the spot we ate our lunch

Taken on our first hike, back lit tree at the spot we ate our lunch

These mountains were the last stronghold of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. Geronimo was a member of this tribe and he fought hard to hold his homelands as long as he could. Though the story of the last Apache war is a sad one with the tribe eventually being put on a reservation like all the other Native Americans of this land.

There were numerous balanced rocks like this one all over the place.

There were numerous balanced rocks like this one all over the place.

Luckily for us all, the homesteaders that took their place loved the place so much that they saw to it that it was preserved for future generations. They were instrumental in seeing the Chiricahua National Monument and National Forest designated for the benefit of us now.

Faraway ranch is where the homesteaders settled and built their ranch in the late 1800s. The Riggs ended up being instrumental in getting Chiricahua designated as a National monument.

Faraway ranch is where the homesteaders settled and built their ranch in the late 1800s. The Riggs ended up being instrumental in getting Chiricahua designated as a National monument.

One of my more artistic shots taken at Faraway Ranch

One of my more artistic shots taken at Faraway Ranch

The landscape is reminiscent of the area around Silver City, the Gila Wilderness and National Forest. Deep canyons surrounded by tall rock formations and trees. Sadly, in 2011, this area was devastated by a man made forest fire. Much of the trees are now only charred skeletons, though there are still places where the fire didn’t reach and the shade of the tall trees is a relief from the heat of the sun.

This grouping automatically struck me as a family, daddy, mama and baby rock. :)

This grouping automatically struck me as a family, daddy, mama and baby rock. πŸ™‚

The weather here is absolutely gorgeous this time of year. The temperatures ranged from the upper 30s lower 40s to the mid 70s while we were there. We spend two days hiking, a 6 mile hike the first day and a 10 mile hike the second day. We encountered a rattle snake on our second day, though we didn’t see him, we heard his warning rattle clearly coming from a pile of rocks on the side of the trail. Unfortunately, for our doggies, there was only one meadow trail leading to the old homestead where dogs were allowed. So we added on another 6 miles of walks with the dogs to make up for the fact that they had to spend hours at a time in the RV while we were out hiking.

Kissing Rocks formation

Kissing Rocks formation

I took 280 photographs during our stay! Everywhere I looked was another rock formation or beautiful vista, textures galore and birds, birds, birds. The hardest part about putting this blog post together was picking just a few photos from the pack.

Balanced rock formation

Balanced rock formation

There were no hookups at the campground, so we had to leave after only 3 days because our ice had all melted and honestly, after 22 miles of hiking, we were ready for a shower and a cold beer!

I call this one Ancestors. The entire time we were hiking through the monument it felt as if we were being watched by the Apache ancestors who once inhabited the area.

I call this one Ancestors. The entire time we were hiking through the monument it felt as if we were being watched by the Apache ancestors who once inhabited the area.

We are now parked in the Queen Mine RV Park in Bisbee, AZ until Monday. On Thursday I will blog about our stay, so far, in this cool little former mining town that sits a mile high in the hills just 5 miles north of the Mexican border.

One last grouping of rock formations. It was so hard to pick just a few photos for this blog post!

One last grouping of rock formations. It was so hard to pick just a few photos for this blog post!

Be Careful!

Our shadows cast on the desert trail, walking the dogs out in the desert is a favorite for us, the dogs can run free and we can walk in peace away from traffic.

Our shadows cast on the desert trail, walking the dogs out in the desert is a favorite for us, the dogs can run free and we can walk in peace away from traffic.

The one phrase we’ve heard most often since taking off on our trip is “Be careful!” I understand the people telling us this have nothing but good intentions. I really do appreciate everyone’s concern. Last night when I heard it again for the hundredth time, it just struck me as such a funny thing to say.

The dogs are ready to get their run in!

The dogs are ready to get their run in!

First of all, of course we are going to be careful! What hit me more profoundly though was the fact that to do what we are doing, traveling around in an RV, is a risk. The type of risk that most people would never take. Maybe that’s why people tell us to be careful, because they cannot see themselves doing what we are doing. They see it as too much of a risk. Way too far out of their comfort zone.

fall colors on a tree in Las Cruces

Fall starts a bit later down south, but the trees are starting to change.

I guess it’s all in your perception. We see it as an adventure! No doubt, we are stepping out of our own comfort zone. We have lived the last 13 years in the same town, in the same house even. We have established ourselves in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have a business, we have friends, family, in short, we have comfort in Albuquerque.

photo of Leon family in Las Cruces

We have enjoyed visiting with great friends, Saturday evening was spent with the Leon family, too much fun!

We spent two days with our lifelong friend Rob, here with his dog, Paco.

We spent two days with our lifelong friend Rob, here with his dog, Paco.

Visiting our hometown for the past week has reminded me of my adventurous spirit. I first left Las Cruces, New Mexico as a 17 year old. Newlywed, young mother, my husband was in the military, our first duty station just happened to be Hawaii. We were there for a short 8 months, but at the time it seemed like forever! It was so hard being so far from home, back in the days when long distance calls were expensive. But it was fun! I guess I’ve always been good at stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s just a part of who I am.

One of my record paintings hanging on the wall at the Leon family home! :)

One of my record paintings hanging on the wall at the Leon family home! πŸ™‚

For years, when my kids were growing up, I wanted nothing more than to have a safe, secure life. Buy a house, get a steady job, stay in one place so the boys would have friends and feel like they belonged somewhere. It took a long time to get to that place. From that first adventure in Hawaii, to finally settling down in Albuquerque spanned a period of 15 years and at least 20 moves in 6 different states!

photo of Organ mountains

My favorite landmark in Las Cruces, the Organ mountains to the east of town. This view is from the front porch of our good friend Rob’s house.

Now that the boys are men, adults taking care of themselves (for the most part!), all I want to do is explore and move, enjoying the time spent traveling from one town to another. Unlike when the boys were small. All the moving back then was a nightmare. Now it’s just Aaron and me, we don’t have to worry about anything but what we want to do.

dogs running at park with Organ mountains in the background

And a view of the Organs from Young Park with the dogs running in the foreground

Way back when, at the young age of 16, when I had my first son, I promised myself that I would reward myself for the sacrifices of having kids at an early age by enjoying my 40s. I am now here and spending my 40s doing the things most people do in their 20s.

Ran into our friend and fellow musician at an open mic night. Big thanks to Tom Foster Morris for the cd he gave me for my birthday!

Ran into our friend and fellow musician at an open mic night. Big thanks to Tom Foster Morris for the cd he gave me for my birthday!

My promise to you all? We will be careful! πŸ™‚

Week One

Would it be obvious to say it’s been an eventful week? We pulled out of Albuquerque last Thursday in the late afternoon. It didn’t take long for our first incident…

photo of our dogs in the RV

The dogs were ready to hit the road!

Just after we passed the first Belen exit, which is about 20 miles south of ABQ, the RV started sputtering and then stalled. We pulled over to the side of the road and I struggled not to have a complete meltdown! I fought back the tears, how could this be happening? All this time we had waited to leave town and we hadn’t even made it out of the area yet. As usual, Aaron stayed cool and calm, as he took the engine cover off and started looking at the engine. I suggested Aaron text Chris, the mechanic we had bought the RV from, since he had told us to call him if we had any issues. He responded very quickly and proceeded to ask Aaron questions and then told him that it sounded like the choke was sticking or a float within the carburetor was sticking. He suggested trying to start it with the gas held to the floor and sure enough, it started right back up! Back on the road after a few minutes, we didn’t have any issues after that. The RV runs quite well as a matter of fact. Our conclusion was the carburetor was clogged after sitting in our driveway for over a month.

New Mexico sunset photo

Sunset shot on the way south from Albuquerque

In Las Cruces Thursday evening, we parked the RV in my brother’s driveway. He has one of those great big driveways, especially made for RV parking. How convenient!

Go burger sign

Biggest, best burritos in Las Cruces!

Friday was my birthday! I always take the day off on my birthday, so Friday morning we got up and decided to take a walk to one of our favorite burrito joints in Cruces, Go Burger. That’s one of the nice things about visiting Las Cruces, you don’t really NEED a car. As long as it isn’t the middle of the Summer! This time of year however, the weather was a perfect 78 degrees. We initially thought the walk would take us an hour, but we arrived within 25 minutes and had our yummy chile relleno burritos in another 10 minutes. If you are ever in Las Cruces, I highly recommend eating at Go Burger, they have lots of great Mexican food, but the burritos, with their 12″(at least!) homemade tortillas, are the BOMB! Funny, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger there!

chile relleno burrito

Go Burger chile relleno burrito, YUM!

Our trips to Las Cruces usually revolve around food and eating out. The Mexican food is quite different even from southern to northern New Mexico. Having grown up in the south, we like it best! On regular trips to LC we eat as much Mexican as we can, but this trip even more so! Since we are getting ready to leave the state, we are getting our fill of our favorite food from home. Now, I know, I know, you can get Mexican food all over the country these days, but nothing is quite like Southern New Mexico style. The chile is grown locally and is famous for being the best in the world!

That evening my brother and his wife took us out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. We drove out to Old Mesilla, just outside of LC, and ate at La Posta. This restaurant has been around for a LONG time, it opened in 1939, it’s the place you take tourists when they visit. It’s an old historic building built in the 1840s. The food is good, but the atmosphere of the old adobe walls, lots of small rooms connected in a maze, with live parrots in a huge cage in the entrance is what makes La Posta such a magical place to visit. Of course, I didn’t take any photos this time! 😦 I promise to be better about that, still getting used to the idea that I promised to share our adventures!)

outlet and plug halloween costume photo

Aaron and I in our costumes, I was an electrical outlet and Aaron was the plug. I was actually surprised by how many times we had to explain our costume!

Saturday we spent time visiting friends in the afternoon, before my brother took us with him to a Halloween party. His band, Flat Blak, played and Aaron and I even played a few songs with my brother on drums and another friend, Larry, on keyboards. We spent the day driving around town searching for a costume for Aaron and ended up finding a couple costume that was so perfect and funny! I was an electrical outlet and Aaron was the plug! My brother and his wife had matching costumes too, my brother was the dude from Duck Hunter and his wife was an army girl. As usual when partying with my brother, we were up until 4:30 Sunday morning! Needless to say, we didn’t do much other than watch football on Sunday.

Duck Hunter and Army girl halloween costumes

My brother, Travis, and his wife, Charlene

There is still more to share but I don’t want to make this post too long. I will finish up on Thursday. Subscribe to my blog if you want to receive notice of my next post. I had planned to post a new blog every Tuesday, but a week is a long time and a lot to share, so I’m thinking of changing that to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Depending of course on how much we have to share or how busy we are. My next post will take you through Monday to Wednesday of this week. Hopefully, next week’s post will include photos of some new paintings or at least progress on a new painting. It is quite an adjustment to work while traveling, though it is nice to have our “home office” with us while we are on the road. We are currently planning to leave Las Cruces on Friday/Saturday and head to Silver City, NM and the Gila National Forest and Wilderness Area. Stay tuned…..

3, 2, 1….

photo of our view of Albuquerque from our neighborhood park

Our favorite view of Albuquerque, from our neighborhood park, Pat Hurley Park.

The countdown is almost over! In two days we will be pulling out of Albuquerque in our vintage Travelmate motor home and embarking on our latest adventure!

The past month has gone by so slowly, yet here we are, about to leave. We had a huge list of things we had to take care of before we could leave for a long absence. There were home repairs and improvements that had to be done so we could rent our house. We had to move all of our belongings that didn’t fit in the RV into storage. There was painting to be done at Chroma Studios. We had chickens to find a new home for. Our two male dogs had to be neutered! Plus, a bunch of other things here and there that popped up.

We do, in fact, still own a business here in Albuquerque. Chroma Studios is still here and going strong. Luckily, for us, it doesn’t take a lot of time to run and our youngest son is looking for experience with managing a business. He is currently enrolled at our local community college, majoring in business. What better way to learn about business than to manage one? He will take care of day to day operations, though we will still oversee everything from afar.

photo of my new painting area in RV

My new space for painting, yes, it’s the table in our RV!

Because we have spent the last month working on preparations for our adventure, we have had to put our music and art businesses on the back burner for the most part. I am so excited to get back to being creative again! It is the one thing that keeps me sane! Let’s just say this past month has been pretty crazy! We did get a few opportunities here and there to be creative, but now, we will be spending ALL our time on our creative endeavors.

I have a new art project to get moving on, we have new songs to write and learn, and of course, I will be blogging regularly about our latest adventures in travel!

Our first stop is a personal one, we will head south on I-25 to Las Cruces, New Mexico to visit with my brother and his wife for about a week before we go west to Arizona. There may also be a stopover in the Gila National Forest for a bit of decompression time, ie peace and quiet away from everything!

My plan/goal is to post a new blog every Tuesday, possibly Thursdays too. If you aren’t already subscribed to my blog, now would be a great time to do so! Stay tuned for more about our adventure! πŸ™‚