Sunday, January 29, 2017

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I don't want to give away my age, but this movie had come out on video when I last lived in Texas.  I never forgot that scene.

I gave us well over a month to get from Yuma Arizona to New Orleans, but we are already more than halfway there and it isn't even February yet.  Part of the reason is that Texas is just so hard to boondock in.  There's no free BLM camp sites.  We went from a truck stop to an abandoned Chevron, and now an RV park.

Truck stops and illegal campsites outside abandoned buildings are not place you want to stay more than one night.  Truck stops are noisy and full of exhaust.  Illegal camp sites, no matter how well established as good sites by others, always have the risk of a cop banging on your door at 6am.

We saw a cop go by while we were camping last night, and he saw us.  He didn't bug us.  Probably if we stayed two nights he would have told us to move on.  That's fine because we wanted to get out of there anyway.  Like an idiot I parked right by the railroad tracks.  I think my cat Precious lost two lives just from the fright of the booming train whistle.

To get back to my point, we're blowing through Texas at a breakneck speed because instead of mosying along, staying four days at each stop, we're doing 130 miles every day.

Today we are in an RV park 130 miles away from San Antonio.  I just paid for two nights because I can't deal with this non-stop travel.  It's $15/night, which for me is a splurge.

We're in Iraan Texas, a place of little note.  It reminds me a lot of Riesle Texas outside of Waco where I lived two years as a child.  Texas has improved greatly in terms of opportunity and population, but the vibe never changes.  It's still a land of sweet tea, cowboy hats/boots, and everyone saying yes ma'am or no ma'am.  I remember when I went to school in Texas that if we said 'yeah' it would be a detention.  They hammer in the 'yes/no ma'ams' hard.

It's also a place that seems like it's one cop for every ten people.  You see speed traps every 30 miles, and cops are in every store and restaurant.  The state motto used to be 'Don't Mess With Texas' I don't know if it's still that way, but the state is big on discipline.  When I was a child school principles doled out corporal punishment with tailbone-breaking wooden paddles.  It would have been child abuse in any state above the Mason Dixon line.

The women here seem to all be dolled up in that Texas beauty pageant way.  I know that when I grew up the men were the only ones who could land good-paying jobs.  Women were always trying to find a man who could support them.  Women didn't seem to get out of the rut of poverty and a lack of education so they could support themselves.  I wondered if it was the same, and then I saw a woman with highlights and full make-up going grocery shopping with her three children.  Maybe?

Anywho, I don't mean to be down on Texas, but we didn't like the state when I was young, and I'm not sure if that will change.  The good thing is that we are no longer poor.  I can pass on through without getting stuck here.  When I was younger it was hard to get out. was a nightmare, actually, but it's not a story I want to relive by telling you.

In other news I let myself get discouraged with my diet and sabotaged both my mom and myself.  I feel terrible about it, because my mom would have continued happily if I hadn't stopped.  She said she felt guilty about failing at the diet.  The guilt is all mine.  I had several days of *gaining* weight after I had fasted and got fed up.  Today we had pizza.  I suck.

The fasting diet is still a good diet, but I can't do it when I have a book I need to finish.  I just couldn't muster the brain power to write on fast days and didn't feel like it on feast days.  The plan now is to finish my book and then try to get back on some kind of diet.  :le sigh:   

Saturday, January 28, 2017

When You Lose Your Follow Car

Last night we nestled between some big rigs to have a noisy night's sleep at a truck stop.  It's kind of necessary in Texas, where there is no BLM to camp free on.  We left and headed to our next stopping point, an abandoned Chevron off the highway where hopefully we can stay without a visit from a cop.  And there's a lot of cops in Texas.

Driving through El Paso was stressful.  So much traffic.  So much construction.  I find myself driving the RV with a barrier on one side and a big rig walling me on the other.  My knuckles are white as I squeeze the steering wheel desperate not to veer too many inches to the left or right.  Then lanes end and you have to merge at a moment's notice--this means merging with enough space and notice to make sure my mom gets in behind me too.  I watched in the rearview as a big rig almost ate her and slammed on my horn.  Driving through big cities is a nightmare.

We made it to the truck stop and finished out the day.  We decided not to get gas there, but to get the heck out of El Paso where traffic would be thinner.  Thirty miles away I stopped at another truck stop by highway ten and filled up. 

As I'm pulling out the RV a truck comes behind me blocking my mom.  I told her we were getting back on 10 east through the walkie talkie.  She says wait because traffic won't let her out of the gas station.  So I wait on the ramp to the highway.  And I see her drive past the ramp in my rearview.

I tell her she passed me on the walkie talkie.  She's panicking saying she missed the turn.  I say turn around and come back.  I'll wait here.

I thought she was going to turn around at the end of the road and come back to get on the ramp.  I look in the rearview.  She's gone.  I realize she got on the westbound ramp.

Holy crap. 

She's out of walkie talkie range.   I wait on a steep ramp trying to get over in the dirt as far as I can to keep the trucks from hitting me.

So, I assume she's going to go west until she can turn around and go east.  Right?  She doesn't think we're going west, right?

Ten minutes pass.

Twenty minutes pass.

Oh my God--where is my mother?  I keep trying the walkie talkie hoping she came back in range.  I see a silver SUV and start screaming, 'Mom is that you?  Is that you mom?'  It's not.

Now I'm praying.  It's been 30 minutes.  What if she got lost?  What if she got in an accident?  Did she pull over and is waiting for me to get her?  I'm sending psychic messages for her to get to a phone and call me.  If she's lost she can give me an address and I can go back and find her.  (We only have one cell phone because I don't use one enough to pay for it.)

I don't know what to do except wait.  I know if I move I'm going to make things more difficult.  I'm tearing the skin off my cuticles until they bleed and my heart is racing.

And I think:  I don't want to do this anymore.  I don't want to travel.  I don't want to watch trucks almost eat her in my side mirror.  I don't want to risk losing her and facing catastrophe.  THIS IS NOT FUN.

A little silver SUV appears on the highway below me.  "Yamila!  Where are you!"  Holy crap, it's her!  "I'm on the exit ramp waiting for you."  I see her and I know she's safe and my heart attack stops building.  I turn the RV back on, take off the emergency break, and head onto the highway. 


And please never let me go through this horror again.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Intentional Community Day 2

I'm writing from a truck stop in El Paso, but I shall be reporting on the events of yesterday.  We are going to try for membership at this intentional community.  I made some awesome friends there who I want to have as a part of my life.

They're picky about who they let in, but I will begin going through the membership ritual in April.  I first have to live in the community for a few months for them to make sure I'm not any trouble.  Then they can vote, and it must be a 2/3rd vote to get me and my mom in.

We haven't started anything yet because we still have to be in New Orleans in March to fly to Puerto Rico.  After that we'll be heading back to New Mexico, and should be here by April.  So...we'll see how it goes!  This might change from an RVing blog to a living in a commune blog.  @-@  Exciting?

Just now I got a call from Shirley (my new bff even if she doesn't know it yet) and she's getting thing in the works to smooth over my integration into the colony.  This is so nice I'm almost brought to tears.  They really want me!!

All of the homes I'm sharing with you through the pictures are either vacant, or the owner gave me permission.  Isn't this place cool?!

One woman named Fran gave me the grand tour of her EPIC set-up.  She was super-nice, and I hope I can get to know her better once I'm in (if I get in).  She is like the uber-version of what I picture myself becoming.  She uses the sunshine to filter her water, lives on solar, raises veggies with her own compost, and has some amazing projects and out buildings.  She showed me so much I hope I can convey it all in this post.

Here's the outside of her main house.
The inside is kind of like a really heavily padded yurt.

Look at her car!  I don't even...!

She has lots of little RV trailers here and there.  The pink boots are for a celebration at the 'Pink Store' in Mexico
She has a bus converted to an RV in her backyard.  I blocked out Shirley because I'm not sure if she was okay with me sharing her picture.
Look at this steering wheel!

It has a stove!

So kewl!

Here's Fran's outdoor bathtub!  The barrel will heat the water with the sun in the summer and in the winter she can light a fire under it.

What the heck is this?!  She had it in her back yard too.

Inside is a giant pit!!  I thought it might be a root cellar, but it's actually a place to go during the hot summers so she can live without AC.

She has quick hoops with chicken wire to grow stuff without the rabbits feasting.

She also grows stuff in trows recovered from abandoned pasture in the desert.  The bottoms are all rotted out, so they drain for her.
 I was amazed and grateful she was okay with pictures.  She's a really cool lady!  Not everyone lives like this, but some of the long term residents have amazing set-ups.  They embody what you'd expect from a colony like this.

That doesn't mean everyone is living that way.  There are mobile homes and modular homes with all the modern conveniences also.  We would live in our RV with an electrical connection.  We might buy a home for sale here, but might not.  We really like our RV.

It was exciting, incredible, rejuvenating, and hope inspiring.  It gave me a destination for my chaotic life.  I will be away for a while, but I know I'll be back.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Palomas Mexico

We're on the Mexican border right now so we dipped south to Palomas Mexico.  This was a much more pleasant side of Mexico than Algodones and San Jose where we've been before.

Palomas is on the border of the sleepy tiny New Mexican town of Columbus.  Not many people cross here, which means it's easy in and easy out.  You have a free parking lot to park to walk in.  There was no line mid-day when we headed back, and apparently there rarely is.

 In Algodones the street were congested with vendors, beggars, and wandering peddlers.  In Palomas you can walk around without being bothered too much.  It looked like a really nice place--a place I might be happy to live in.

We browsed the 'Pink Store' which is huge and gave us free Margaritas just for stopping in.  Then we went to a little cafe for lunch and had some mariachis come in to sing La Cucaracha.  @-@ 

After that we checked out a furniture store with lots of great deals.  The prices were in pesos which you can estimate by moving over a decimal point.  100 pesos = $1.  Not really, but close enough.  Lunch was 290 pesos but only cost us $20 American.  They take US money no problem, like many border towns.

I want to thank Shirley from the intentional community for being such a doll and taking us around.  ;o;  It would have been a wasted trip without her.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 1 At the Intentional Community

We're at an intentional community somewhere in New Mexico.  You're going to hate me, but I'm not going to tell you the name of the place or the location.  I haven't met my main contact yet, and I don't want to expose things about them until I get permission.  It's possible this may not, sorry.

They have an RV space with electric and water.  We're camping here while checking the place out.  Here's the bathroom assigned to the RV spot. 

Now, what I would really like to do is take pictures of all the amazing houses here.  Houses made out of bottles, mud, 'papercrete', a house that looks like a medieval castle, a pyramid, a house with a rocket in the yard, and this is just what I can see from the RV windows because I was asked not to wander around by myself.  As I sit here I hear chickens crowing, and one of the women to welcome me said she has ducks.  ;o;  I feel like I'm home!

Communities like these get lots of prospective members visiting.  I understand that there's not many people around to hold our hands and so forth.  I'm very lucky that a woman I emailed with was kind enough to show me her house and tell me more about things.  She has a 'normal' house, a modular home that she bought from the next town over. 

Behind her house is a half built foundation and an RV sewer, electric, and water.  This plot is available for a new member, and I thought MINE!!  The people who were building on it passed away.  (But we think we found something even better right across from her.)

So, in this community you go through a vetting process and if you're accepted you pay around $2,000 for a plot of land and put a dwelling on it.  My  mom and I started talking about building a house on the land we would get if we're accepted into the community.  I always knew we'd need something, because we need a place to take showers and do laundry.  My thoughts were a shed with a shower and laundry room in it.  We passed a place selling portable buildings in Deming.  These sheds were huge, and in our budget.  Now we started thinking about converting a shed into a tiny house.  Something 16'x32' would give us our own bedrooms, kitchen, living area and bath.  But now we're talking $$$.

The original plan was just to use our RV as our house since, you know, I still owe $65k on it. However we met someone who owns a really nice house in the community and wants to sell it.  It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, RV hookups in back, a screened garden, a greenhouse, two sheds, and fruit trees.  I'm in love, and the price is right.   My mom really wants it too.

I've gone over my reasons for wanting to settle in a commune/intentional community in another post.  This house would give us everything I want, already built for us.  It's just perfect!

We've decided to take a gamble and put a $500 deposit on it to buy the house if we're accepted into the community.  We might lose our money, however, if we do get accepted here and don't get the house we'll feel bad. 

So far I've made a good friend and hopefully future neighbor.  She said to the man selling the house that we were solid and she was going to vote for us to be accepted.  Another woman on the board told us we had her vote too.  This woman owns a theater in the small town attached to the community.  We talked about me getting involved with the theater.  I'd like to write and act in plays there.  @-@  I love to act!

I'm not doing anything just yet.  I still want to get to know people and see how this place works.  It seems pretty autonomous, with lots of volunteer and community activities.  I think I could be happy here.  At the very least I could get back to raising my own crops and chickens.  (Rabbits are out because wild rabbits are spreading some disease.)

We've only been here a few hours and right now I'm in my RV hoping for another escort to come and take some time with me.  This is a really cool place.  Maybe it can be home?


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Indian Bread Rocks, Bowie Arizona

We left Catalina State Park yesterday morning and headed east to a place halfway to Deming New Mexico, which is our intermediate travel goal.  This is Indian Bread Rocks, a recreational area on BLM land care of

As we were driving here there were electronic bulliten boards over the highway that warned of severe weather through Monday.  That doesn't mean snow down here, but severe winds and rain.  It hadn't started yet as we were driving.

We made it 100 miles to the spot.  Passed a Border Patrol sentry at the dirt road leading in, and drove miles down dirt roads that I worried would soon become impassable.  We didn't have much choice at this point.  The storm was rolling in.  Severe winds are not what I want to be driving the RV in.  It would have been no picnic for my mom in the follow car behind me either.

We finally get to the GPS coordinates and it's a small parking lot next to a dirt pull out.  @_@  what the heck?  I thought this was a big BLM area where you could camp multiple RVs!  And in fairness, it might be, because I didn't go further down the road. I pulled into a little grassy patch and tried to make us as level as I could.  (We're not level at all.)

All night long the rain and wind pelted us.  The RV was freezing inside.  My mom is on blood thinners due to a rare form of lupus.  She gets cold much faster than me.  Add to that, it was our 'fast' day.  We weren't eating.  She insisted I turn on the RV heater.  I'm scared to waste propane when we might get stranded here, but I cranked it for a little while.  She was turning blue.  ;o;

The next morning we saw the road was still intact and the sun had peeked out.  I went out to take some pictures for the blog.  That's when I saw two other campers had joined us!  Apparently this is the right spot, or my being here made it the right spot.  Who knows.  (Sometimes I think I blaze a trail and others follow, but that's probably egotism.)

We're here until at least Monday, because I'm not driving in this weather.  It may end up longer depending on how bad these roads get or if there's a flash flood.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Catalina State Park, Tucson

We're in the 'Poor People's Section' of the Catalina State Park campground in Tucson.  They tried to sell us a $30 spot with hook-ups.  PAH!  What am I?  The Queen of England?!  They were happy to put us in the 'overflow' $15/night dirt section.  :)  A dump station, water spigot, shower, and trash dumpster is all we need.

I was actually hoping I'd get half off with my mom's Access Pass.  This park doesn't take it, but they didn't charge me for the car, so it's all good.

Weird European camper here.  It had healthy blond giants in it.
This is a beautiful well run park.  It's packed to the gills right now because it's concert season here.  We got a space just in time.

Today is our 'feast' day for our Feast or Famine diet.  I cooked chana dal (Indian lentil dish) and Chicken Tikki Masala on some drumsticks.  I'm also indulging in sweets.  ;o;  I luv this diet. 

Some of the other benefits to the diet are that our tanks are lasting longer and my freezer is still packed with food from our last shopping trip.  We aren't actually eating any more than usual--so it's great!

Alright--time to take our showers.  After this we have two more stops before getting to the Intentional Community I want to check out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Casino De Sol, Tucson

Yesterday we left Painted Rock and continued east through Arizona to Tucson.  We're blacktop boondocking in the lot of Casino De Sol. 

Most RVs are parked in a lot further back, but we thought it was too crowded and parked in a lot closer to the casino.  The staff said we were fine, but would get kicked out if there was a concert.  And there isn't.

We're excited about being in Tucson because it's the first major metropolitan area we've stayed in in a long time.  It's a proper big city but with great weather and a safe vibe.  We really like it here. 

Today we ate out at another Red Lobster and went to the zoo.  The zoo in Tucson is AMAZING!  It's the best zoo I've been to so far--which isn't saying much.  I haven't been to many.  I was excited to see giraffes and a rhino for the first time. 


A very fun day!  This looks like a nice city to settle in, if we ever consider cities that way.  Anyway, tomorrow we continue our journey.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

We are half-way between Yuma and Tucson at the Painted Rock petroglyph site in Gila Bend Arizona.  We're staying here 2 days before continuing on to Tucson. 

This is a pay campground at $8/vehicle per day.  We get half off with my mom's Access pass.  The sites are level.  Gravel roads.  Desert landscape.  Touristy signs with info.  And theoretically a petroglyph site, though you can't get close enough to see any.

These pigs will eat your dogs (and cats).  Don't let pets out in Javalina country.

I'm taking our trip West in small bites.  Two hour drives at a time.  My mom and cats can't deal with 6 hour drives anymore. 

Last night we stayed at the Cocopah casino in Yuma to do the following:
  1. Replace all four tires on the Nissan
  2. Get air in the RV tires
  3. Grocery shop
  4. Do laundry
The day before we did our last shower at the token shower at the Imperial Dam LVTA.  @-@ We're clean and were ready to go.  It felt good to get on the road after being suck in dreary Yuma so long.

So I went to look at the petroglyphs.  It's apparently a huge draw since there are a lot of RVs here.  Signs say to stay on the walkway, which is marked with yellow sand.  It makes such a far loop around the rocks you can't see anything unless you have binoculars.

Here's the best picture I could get of a petroglyph.

In other news, my mom and I have been losing weight steadily, but I've been struggling and haven't done as well as her.  I'm fighting blood sugar and serotonin drops that make me crave sweets and carbs desperately.  I was eating better than before the diet, but not able to lose weight without stumbling every few days and gaining it back.

So, new strategy.  We've switched to the Feast or Famine diet, which may be something I made up just now.  I've always done well with fasting, and so has my mom.  We fast every other day now. 

On fasting day we can have broth, diet soda, water, tea, and sugar-free gelatine.  On feasting day we can eat up to 2,400 calories.  This will average us out to 1,200 a day, which will get us to our goal.

The benefit of this diet is that I don't have to deprive myself of anything.  I get a lot of calories to play with, and nothing is off-limits.  I'll still eat healthy, with protiens and vegetables, but I'll open the door to carbs and sweets again.  The fasting days feel good too, especially near bedtime.  We sleep so well on those days.  This seems so much more sustainable to me than Atkins.

Today is our second fast.  Yesterday was our feast...which was at a Golden Corral.  That was my only meal yesterday, but I may still have overdone it.  We'll see when I weigh myself tomorrow.