We are beginning a 1-month trip today, September 18.  On Thursday, September 20, we will pick up our brand-new Oliver travel trailer in Hohenwald, TN.  We will stay in Thousand Trails Natchez Trace Campground to get supplies and figure out how it all works.  This new travel trailer has options that we did not have before.  On Sunday, September 23, we will travel down to Arkansas and spend a few days at 2 of the state parks and then head west to New Mexico.  At least, that is the plan for now.  We may change plans if the weather doesn’t cooperate in New Mexico or along the route there.  I will be posting every 2 to 3 days as I have time and a signal.  If you would like to follow our daily footsteps, visit this link using password – tlc4girls.  Please join us on the adventure by checking out our web site www.tlcaglephotos.com .  Note that I will add photos this blog as I have internet service, which may be sparse at times. 

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10/11/2018 – Ute Lake State Park, NM – El Reno, OK (322 miles)

We woke up really early this morning – around 5:00 and decided to get an early start.  Around 9:30, Tom got a call from his brother, Bud.  He and his wife, Cora, were also travelling, but from PA to AZ for the winter.  We were both on I-40.  So, we figured out a way we could meet.  We picked a Dairy Queen in Groom, Texas.  What an unexpected surprise.  They live in PA and AZ, so visits are far between.  We drove a little longer than we had planned, but this will make tomorrow a little shorter.  Tomorrow we will drive to Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas, where we have made reservations for the weekend.

10/10/2018 – El Morro National Monument, NM – Ute Lake State Park, NM (318 miles)

We got to Ute Lake around 3 and I made a yummy chicken fajita early dinner.  Around 6:00, we popped a move in the DVD.  We picked ‘The Way’ with Martin Sheen.  We had seen it before, but it is a great movie about a man who travelled to Spain to retrieve his son’s body.  His son had been accidently killed on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  This is a 700km trek that individuals take to cleanse their life.  The dad decided to take the pilgrimage in an effort to understand himself and his son.

10/09/2018 – El Morro National Monument, NM

We did get into the campground, YEAH.  The temp dropped to low 30’s so we definitely used the heat last night.   We left around 9:00, stopped by a little café and then to the Ice Cave.  If you had seen the little café, you would have thought it couldn’t have good food --- WRONG.  It was one of the best breakfasts we have had.  The Ice Cave is Located in part of a collapsed lava tube, the Ice Cave's temperature never rises above 31º F.  The natural layers of the perpetual ice create such an atmosphere that even subspecies of algae can grow fruitful in near freezing conditions.  Ancient Puebloans used ice from the cave, as well as settlers.  We were then going to hike to the volcano rim, but while we were in the trading post, it began to rain, sleet and snow!  So, we elected to skip that hike and go back to the Oliver.  The temp had dropped to 30 degrees.  We will leave tomorrow to wind our way back East and home.

10/08/2018 – Abiquiu, NM – El Morro National Monument, NM (165 miles)

After filling one of the propane tanks, we hit the road to El Morro National Monument, hoping to get a site.  The  campground is first-come first-served and there are only 9 sites.  We lucked out and got a great place and will stay here for 2 days.  On the way, we stopped at Shiprock Peak due to the morning light on the peak and the fluffy clouds above.  Shiprock (Navajo: "rock with wings" or "winged rock")  rises nearly 1,583 feet (482.5 m) above the high-desert plain of the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, New Mexico. Its peak elevation is 7,177 feet (2,187.5 m) above sea level.  It is governed by the Navajo Nation, and plays a significant role in Navajo religion, myth, and tradition. It is located in the center of the area occupied by the Ancient Pueblo People.  Shiprock is a point of interest for rock climbers and photographers and has been featured in several film productions and novels. It is the most prominent landmark in northwestern New Mexico. The temperature dropped to 37 degrees around Gallup, NM and it began to mist – could have been a little snow mixed in.  We went to the Visitor Center and walked a short trail around part of the base of the mountain, where you can clearly see petroglyphs from the ancients going back to the ancient Puebloans, and from Spanish explorers dating as far back as 1605!  There also were inscriptions from a US Army Expedition to this area. We stopped back at the Visitor Center and Tom asked about the weather over the next 2 day.  The verdict:  tonight a low of 31 degrees with possible snow showers; tomorrow a low of 28 degrees.  BRRR!  Thank goodness we have a good furnace and 2 propane tanks full of gas!  Tomorrow we are planning on going to an Ice Cave and to a Wolf Sanctuary, each within 20 miles.  We may go back to El Morrow if the light is right and take photos, since we only took our cell phones today.

10/07/2018 – Abiquiu, NM – Kirtland, NM (159 miles)

I forgot to mention in previous posts at this location, that the camp hosts, Wenche (pronounced Vinky) and Harry are exceptional.  When we checked in Vinky opened the overflow lot for us – she didn’t have any spaces for more than one night.  Anyway, she said she had the perfect spot for us, and boy, was she right.  We have never met a camp host as cordial, friendly and helpful and Vinky and Harry.  Vinky is from Norway, by the way.  We are heading to Kirtland, NM today, hoping to get into the Bisti Wilderness Area.  The weather report is for rain for several days there, so not sure if we can get in.  When we got to Homestead RV Park in Kirtland, we decided to go for a ride to Bisti and check out the parking area to see if it was muddy.  It poured down rain just after we got on the road, so we were pretty sure we would not be able to camp there, or even go into Bisti.  The landscape in the wilderness (except for the road in and the parking area) are grey clay and so sloppy when wet.  The road in wasn’t so bad, but when I walked over to the park sign to look at the map, my shoes got caked with grey mud.  So much for Bisti.  We will have to leave that for another day.  So all the on-again, off-again became a permanent OFF for this trip.  We haven’t figured out yet what to do tomorrow, but something will come to mind when we pull out.

10/06/2018 – Abiquiu, NM

We took a 1.8 mile hike this morning down to the lake, going down the road and trail and then returning by the trail up the cliff.  I was worried that I would have trouble on the return trip climb up the cliff over boulders, but I took it slow and did really good.  After we got back, Tom worked on setting up a piece of photography equipment that tracks stars and I worked on updating my blog.  Just before sunset, Tom noticed that it may be spectacular, so we gathered our equipment and hurried to the cliff edge.  It was just a short walk from our campsite.  We were not disappointed.  We captured the most amazing colors of orange clouds that reflected back into the lake.  A true New Mexico sunset!

 

 

 

 

 

 10/05/2018 – Abiquiu, NM

 

 

 

 

 

 We skipped sunrise again this morning and cooked breakfast instead.  Tom made bacon, ham, eggs and tortillas.  I made gravy and we had breakfast burritos.  So good!  Camping food is the best.  On a previous trip to this area, I saw a sign for Adobe Lavender Farm, so we drove there after breakfast.  The lavender had already bloomed out and was harvested, but it was still a good stop.  They make many products of lavender:  tea, bath salts, culinary spices, essential oils, candles, etc.  We drove down a dirt road to Plaza Blanco (named ‘white cliffs’ by Georgia O’Keefe).  We didn’t take our cameras as it was pretty hot out and the light was harsh.  Tonight, we both took Milky Way shots.  After getting situated and taking several test shots, I found the spot I wanted.  THEN, I smelled a SKUNK!.  I have never packed up so quickly.  I relocated closer to the Oliver.  I knew if I got sprayed, there was no way Tom would let me back in the Oliver or the truck.

 

10/04/2018 – Abiquiu, NM

 We work up early, looked out the window and could see the sun rising over the lake.  Although I didn’t want to drag out, the sunrise was becoming beautiful, so we hurried to a great spot to take photos.  The clouds were amazing with the sun turning the clouds and the top of the cliff across the lake orange.  Later in the day, we drove to Abiquiu proper which consists of a post office, general store and the Abiquiu Inn.   We had breakfast at the Inn and on the way back stopped at an overlook of the Rio Chama River, a major tributary to the Rio Grande.  The cottonwood trees along the winding river were showing their beautiful yellow fall colors and the view looked like an artist’s palette. In fact, many artists pull into this overlook to capture this beauty on canvas.  Back towards camp, we made a stop at some red cliffs made of Navajo sandstone.  We stayed in tonight.

10/03/2018 - Mancos, CO – Abiquiu Lake Reservoir, Abiquiu, NM (186 miles)

We don’t have a reservation at the campground at the Abiquiu lake campground, but we are going to see if we can get a walk-up site.  This lake is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and their campgrounds are usually clean and quiet.  When we got to the campground, the camp host said they didn’t have an electric site, which was okay with us.  There are so many people here, she opened the overflow loop for us and took us to a wonderful site.  We love it.  We don’t have neighbors right beside us and we are close to the bathroom. We just stayed in this evening.  Tom set up for star shots but I didn’t feel like dragging out all of my photo equipment.  Tomorrow we will go for a drive and scout out locations.

10/02/2018 – Mancos, CO

It has been raining off and on since last night.  I did laundry again today and I was able to finally get service on my computer using our Verizon MiFi.  I needed to check on our bank accounts, bills, etc.  Our plan for the next stop is Bisti Badlands in New Mexico. The forecast for NW New Mexico does not look good with rain forecast from Hurricane Rosa.  Although the accumulation will be low, in this area just a small amount of rain can cause flooding and cause dirt roads to become impassable.  Even in Santa Fe, once out of town the roads are dirt.  Bisti Badlands is in NW New Mexico and is about 6 miles down a dirt road from the blacktop.  And, there is no campground, folks set up RV’s in a huge parking lot that is also dirt.  The badlands are clay and get extremely muddy and difficult to walk in when wet.  So, we have changed our plans again.  We will probably go to the Santa Fe area.  The ease of changing plans on the fly is what makes these trips work.  You never know where you are going to land.

10/01/2018 – Mancos, CO

We got up super early this morning, made a to-go coffee and hit the road. We drove the loop road from Mancos, CO through Telluride, Riverton, Silverton, Durango and back to Mancos.  The aspen were absolutely amazing!  It was cloudy and rained a little, but that just made the colors pop.  It took us 8 hours for the whole drive so I am glad I fixed a picnic lunch.  We stopped in Silverton to see what time the Durango-Silverton train would leave the depot.  We drove down a little dirt road by the river and met a man with a drone waiting for the train.  He gave Tom a tip on a good place to view the train.  We waited about 40 minutes in the light rain, but were repaid when the train came by.  Both of us were so cold when we got back into the truck.  We will stay here tomorrow, since it is supposed to rain in this area for the next day or so.  Would you believe Hurricane Rosa is bring rain to the four corners area?  We had planned on going to Bisti Badlands from here, but that is out.  You can’t drive in there if it has been raining --- dirt roads can be impassable.  We are working on a backup plan.

09/30/2018 – Angel Peak, NM – Mancos, CO (120 miles)

We had a short drive today to Mancos, Mesa Verde RV Park.  We haven’t had a good enough signal in over a week. We just rested the remainder of the day.

09/29/2018 – Angel Peak, NM.

 We slept in this morning and then cleaned and straightened up a little.  We drove into Farmington to Wal Mart (our favorite store while travelling) and had lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant.  Francisca’s served a wonderful, tasty Navajo taco.  If you have never eaten one, that is a must!  We got all of our electronics charged and were able to download photos to update our web site.  We left about an hour before sunset in a pot that would give us color over Angel Peak.  We changed locations for the Milky Way.  We had already picked a spot on the canyon edge.  It was so amazingly quiet and peaceful.  I can’t explain how glorious the skies are out here with no light pollution.  There is a slight light in the valleys coming from the oil rigs and transfer stations.  The Milky Way is amazing out here and there are a ‘gazillion’ stars out.  What an amazing site to witness God’s handiwork!!

09/28/2019 – Angel Peak WMA, NM

We got up very early this morning so we could shoot sunrise photos.  It was not a magical moment; however, th e horizon was hues of pink and blue.  When we came back, we cleaned out the truck and Oliver and made breakfast.  We were able to get our photos downloaded, and I started updating this blog to finish tomorrow or the next day. Around 8:00 we drove to an overlook to find a spot to shoot the Milky Way.  We took a few photos at an overview then came back to the Oliver and shot a few here.  It sure is dark out here, except from the light from the oil rigs and transfer stations.  Tomorrow we will skip sunrise.  Very tired.


 09/27/2018 – Angel Peak WMA, NM

We got away earlier than before- 7:45 MDT, hoping for a site in Angel Peak (they only have 9).  The drive was very beautiful and we now are in the real SW desert.  We had a couple of interesting events.  On I-40 about 40 miles west of Albuquerque we ran into very dense fog.  So foggy, a 14-wheeler was parked on the median on the westbound side, facing EAST. Apparently, the driver got on the wrong ramp due to the fog.  I-40 will have to be closed to ‘turn that rig around’.  The second incident involved us.  I had to go to the bathroom and Tom needed to fill the truck with gas.  We stopped at a station not far from Angel Peak.  I went in to find that there were about 15 teenagers (boys and girls) waiting to get into the restrooms!  Ouch.  When I came out, Tom said the card reader wouldn’t work so he would get gas tomorrow.  We took off to drive the next few miles and a red pickup pulled up beside us pointing to the back of the truck.  Tom first thought that he left the gas cap open.  WRONG!  When he looked in the rear view, he saw the nozzle still in the tank filler and hope flapping in the wind!  We turned around assuming this was going to cost $$$$.  I told him maybe our insurance would pay it?  When we got back to the station and walked in, the clerk and customers were laughing and talking about the man who drove off with their nozzle/nose.  Tom spoke up and said it was him.  The clerk said she was glad he brought it back and it happens all the time.  No harm, except to Tom’s ego!

We were lucky enough to get a pretty good site, even though it was extremely unlevel.  But Tom worked it out.  We drove to an area where we could take some sunset photos.  What a tiring day.

09/26/2018 – Santa Rosa State Park, NM to Angel Peak WMA, NM (?283 Miles)

For a rest day, we certainly were busy.  Laundry, groceries, Dollar General.  We are prepared now to boondock for our first time in the Oliver.  It was very windy and was around 50 degrees last night.  We had to turn on the gas heat for the first time.  Today’s high was around 65.  We met another couple from Durham who were also travelling in an Oliver.. We seem to have a lot in common:  they are from NC (Stanley), they have stayed in the same last two state parks as we did, but a day later. And in one they had the exact same spot!  And, she and I both grew up on tobacco farms.  We traded contact information and hope to run into them again sometime during our travels.  To stayed out late and shot star trails. I am inside testing my let – total knee replacement last December and am still have pain when I sit a lot or lie down for a while.  I read and listened to 50’s music on XM radio.  The Oliver has built in TV, AM/FM radio with surround speakers, so the sound is amazing.  Tomorrow, we hope to leave very early so we can get a good campsite at Angels Peak, NM

09/25/2018 – Foss State Park, OK – Santa Rosa State Park, NM (345 miles)

Somehow we always leave around 8:30???  We will stay at Santa Rosa 2 nights, so we can do laundry and replenish our food supply.  We will be doing a little ‘boondocking’ in the next week.  Boondocking, for those who don’t know, is camping in the rough. Usually on Federal land, like BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or other Federal Wildlife Management Areas.  There is no charge, BUT there are also NO facilities. Not to worry, Oliver is self-sufficient and we have all the comforts of home.  Just after we entered Texas, we began to see miles and miles of windmills.  The wind is so strong, that these windmills are generating a whole lot of electricity.  Thankfully, we got to the Santa Rosa State Park early.  We got a great place to park for 2 days with water/electric.  We will do laundry and shopping tomorrow and rest the remainder of the day. Tonight, we are going to listen to the Braves baseball game on our XM radio. 

09/24/2018 – Russellville, AK (Lake Dardanelle) – Foss State Park, OK (364 miles)

 We slept really well last night.  It rained off and on all night and was raining when we departed around 8:30 am CDT.  Our campsite was right on the lake and would be a place we could have stayed for a week.  But, we had tracks we had to make!  We met 2 nice couples there – one lady and gentleman were locals but just needed a getaway.  The woman and her son both lost houses in a tornado that hit Elk City, OK in the spring of 2017.  We were affirmed that we are indeed blessed.  We just relaxed in the evening and actually got a signal on our TV so we watched a little bit of a show. To be honest, we prefer the XM radio, even when we are at home.

09/23/2018 – Hohenwald, TN to Russellville, TN (377 miles) Lake Dardanelle State Park

We left around 8:45. Oliver is so much easier to prepare for travel each day than the Casita.  For us anyway.  We  drove further than we had planned, which is good.  My knee is holding up pretty good.  For those of you who don’t know, I had total knee replacement in December and am still having some pain, especially when I sit or recline for a while.  Gets a little stiff.  We had rain most of the day – some downpours.  We didn’t make reservations since Sunday night this time of year is usually not that booked.  We got a neat spot on an inlet to the lake where the marina sits.  We had dehydrated chicken fajita for dinner.  Say what?  OK, I’ll explain.  These dinners are by Mountain House and there is a variety of meals.  Just add boiling water, and WA-LA, you have a meal for 2.  Gotta love it.  Less work and clean up when it is late, you are tired, and it is raining.  We have a great signal here, so I am taking advantage and updating my blog.  Tomorrow we will be heading to Oklahoma.

09/22/2018 – Hohenwald, TN

Today we just chilled.  Tom made eggs and bacon for breakfast, which, for some reason, are the best eggs and bacon in the world.  The Oliver has a built in DVD/TV/radio, so we watched a DVD movie.  We didn’t have any channels available on the TV.  We had thunderstorms last night and it rained off and on all day.  I can’t wait until we settle down for a while to do a little hiking and photography.  We took a drive in the afternoon to a public campground to visit another new Oliver couple that we met on Wednesday.  They picked up a day before us.  We have planned out the rest of the trip, but, of course nothing is permanent.  The target is New Mexico.  We had thunderstorms off and on all night.

09/21/2018 – Hohenwald, TN

Camping is so much fun, but can be very tiring.  We had to visit Wal Mart again to get final provisions.  Why is every Wal Mart laid out differently?  We probably walked a mile in that store, revising areas more than once.  Nothing seemed in logical order.  It took us over 1 ½ hours to get all that we needed.  Then unloading and reorganization is required in the Oliver.  But all is well – we had the best dinner – steak, corn and apples.  Oh, yes, wine was required, of course.  All-in-all, a great day!  Tomorrow it is supposed to rain, so we will just rest and maybe watch a DVD.

September 20, 2018  - Hohenwald, TN

 This morning we picked up our Oliver!  We spent the afternoon moving stuff into the Oliver.  What a job!  At least now we can see daylight in the back seat of the truck!  We will stay here until Sunday and make sure everything is working.  WE LOVE IT ALRLEADY! 

September 18 – 19, 2018 – Walkertown to Hohenwald, TN (534 miles) 

We were able to leave as planned on September 18.  We had worried that due to the hurricane we would have to delay.  We had no damage and no electric outage, but the sump pump pumped water that would have been in our basement for 2 ½ days!  The first night we spent in a lakeside cabin on Oconee Lake. 

On Wednesday, the 19th, we drove the rest of the way to Hohenwald, TN.  We diverted a few miles so that we could tour the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg.  The distillery is in a dry county!  We had a great tour guide and I recommend this tour which gives the history of prohibition, the first distillery opened by Jack Daniels, when he was still a teenager, and its success since that time.  The tour included a whiskey tasting.  Now, I am not a whiskey drinker, but you know I had to be a good sport. 

 

 

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