On the Road

Branson to Hot Springs and on to Fort Worth

img_2131We have been quite busy trying to stay ahead of the freezing weather so I’m a bit behind on updates.  We are currently just outside of Austin and plan to be here for the week.  It’s been raining non-stop for the last few days but the sun made a much-welcomed appearance today so we went to church with a coworker of Lenny’s that lives in the area and then puttered around Austin.  I look forward to sharing more about this area in my next post but I’ll catch you up on our travels since Thanksgiving.

img_1983I’ve had two convertibles in my life and sometimes when I get on a beautiful winding road I really miss driving with the top down.  One of those vehicles was a fun little two-seater sports car that was so much fun hugging tight turns.  After visiting with family in Branson, we traveled to Hot Springs, AR down 7 Highway.  It’s one of those kinds of drives you love in a little roadster but not so much with a big truck and trailer!!  I do highly recommend this route as the views were incredible but also be prepared to get a good glute workout.  Again, Lenny was a champ but between the oohs and aahs I was flinching and grimacing the whole way.  The steep drop-offs are always on the passenger side! We stopped at a little roadside gift shop at about 2100 ft.  The view from this area is absolutely amazing and according to the roadside stand, you can see into Missouri as well.  I don’t doubt it.

We arrived after dark at the Gulpha Gorge campsite which is managed by the National Parks Service.  It is a first-come-first-serve location so we weren’t sure what we would find but we were hopeful.  As we were driving around we were flagged down by an enthusiastic guy who told us his friends were just visiting in the spot next to him and that it was an awesome campsite.  He helped us to get the trailer backed in and shared the warmth of his fire for a moment.  When we woke up the next morning we were not disappointed.  It was a great little spot that backed right up to the creek and the hills over Hot Springs.

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Partial view from the Observation Tower
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Downtown Hot Springs

Hot Springs is an interesting National Park.  You can hike some great trails into town and if you hike to the observation tower you will enjoy an amazing 360-degree view over the town.  Besides the trails, the park is the town itself as well as the bathhouses along Bathhouse Row that utilize the 143-degree mineral springs that are unique to the area.  If you take a ranger tour you get the full history of the Fordyce Bathhouse which is one of the nicest in the area.  When I heard “mineral springs” and “bathhouses” I envisioned this wonderful spa experience but the bathhouses were really built as medical facilities.  People would come from all around with a doctors order for a series of baths.  There were ALL kinds of ways that they bathed people but none of them really looked very relaxing.  One of the more disturbing treatments was an area where a “medical professional” would wash people with what looked like high-pressure fire hoses.  There are some other very unique treatments but I’ll leave it for you to explore on your own. Lilya can also give you a tour as she is now a sworn Jr. Ranger!

Outside of the history of the mineral springs and Bathhouse Row, the town is a cute little area with lots of quaint shops and restaurants.  One highlight for Lenny was a visit to the Superior Bathhouse which has been converted into a brewery.  We enjoyed a sample of their local brews that are made with the mineral waters.  We also had an amazing pizza at Grateful Head Pizza and spent an afternoon working from Kollective Coffee.

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We have met some great people so far on our trip and one of our highlights from Hot Springs was the family next to us at Gulpha Gorge.  Remember our enthusiastic neighbor that was so helpful getting us set up the night we arrived?  Well, Tom, his wife Shannon, and their three kids have also been living full time in an RV for the past 10 weeks. Tom is a retired professional snowboarder who has a pretty interesting story.  img_2060He has lived through the wild world of snowboarding and now focuses his energy traveling around the country talking to kids about dreaming their biggest dreams and not letting their circumstances deter them in any way.  Tom also works with an organization called Compassion Causes that has a school in Nicaragua.  Spend ten minutes talking with Tom and you quickly realize you are talking with someone who has found his passion and is pouring himself into it fully.  The kids all became fast friends, we exchanged information and wished them well on their way back home.  We are looking forward to meeting up with Tom and his wonderful family again in California.  You can read more about Tom and his mission with Dare to Dream here as well as his work with Compassion Causes here.

From Hot Springs, we traveled on to Fort Worth, TX.  Again, we have been traveling in the evenings but we landed at a nice location in Grand Prarie called Loyd Park. Thanks to the park staff, we once again found a great campsite with a pretty view of the Christmas light display across the water.Fort Worth-50

Our purpose for stopping in Fort Worth was primarily to visit with Cody and since we all had quite a busy work week, we didn’t get to explore much.  We did, however, go late one afternoon to see the longhorn cattle drive through the Fort Worth Stockyards.

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Longhorn cattle drive!

It’s a ten-minute event but pretty cool and a great chance to see longhorn cattle up close.  I don’t recall ever seeing one previously so it was a fun experience.  Most importantly, I was able to visit with Cody a couple of evenings, see his apartment downtown and get a little time to just hang out.

So far, things have been going well and we look forward to staying south in the warmer weather at a slower pace of travel.

Preparing

Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

If you don’t know what we have been up to, we rented out our house in downtown Lee’s Summit to our friends the Parkers who we met through our local community.  They took advantage of a good market and sold their house and didn’t know exactly what their next move was.  We were all chatting at a Fourth Friday’s event this summer and we mentioned that we had a wild idea to rent our house and work and live in an RV for the next year and that they could stay at our place while they figured it out.  The next day, a call came from our friends asking if we were serious.  We were serious as a heart attack!   They came and checked out the place and next thing you know, they would be moving in at the beginning of August.  At that moment, everything became real.  The Parkers have been amazing and a great help along the way.  We think they might be Airstreaming next year!  Haha!

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Hanging with the Parkers on the 4th of July. They had to make sure the neighbors were cool before they moved in!

About the same time, tenants at another property we had been renting for 9 years let us know that they would be moving out.  We knew we didn’t want to hassle with trying to rent that house again and since the market was pretty good, we thought it would be best to sell.  However, that property needed a LOT of work to get a good market price.  So, the week we moved out of our primary residence, we moved into the rental and began rehabbing it.  I wanted to have it listed by Labor Day but we were WAY off.  It was just SOOOO much work.  Cleaning, painting, repairing, etc….  Lenny and I worked our day jobs and spent our nights and weekends getting everything done.  It’s never as sexy as it looks on HGTV!  At one point, we were all sleeping in one room in the basement as we worked on the upstairs.  We also didn’t move much into the house since we knew we would be moving back out again soon.  We finally got it listed in October and had several great offers within days.  Nine years of property management and several months of hard work panned out.

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Our first cooked meal! Thanksgiving dinner.

So last week we had to move, deal with closing issues for the house, move some remaining items into storage, consolidate the rest into our new 30ft shiny house and get us out of town before the weather got too bad.  If you have been following winter storm Bruce, I’m feeling very thankful right now that we snuck out just in time!  We had planned to leave on Wednesday evening to spend Thanksgiving in Branson with Lenny’s family but had another delay so I found myself trying to figure out what to do for Thanksgiving.  We haven’t had a normal routine for months and the one thing I wanted to ensure was that we took the time to be thankful and to enjoy a decent sit-down meal even in the midst of a tight timeline.  So, Lenny went to the store, got us a small ham, and items to make a few traditional sides.  And of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without pecan pie and eggnog!  So, our first cooked meal in the Airstream was in the driveway of the rental house on Thanksgiving.  To make it more memorable, I forgot to open the stove exhaust and set off the alarm!  Total newb move!

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Waking up in the Airstream. The cutest sloth I know!

We finally made it to Branson and spent the rest of the long weekend, getting things in order and learning how to do everything in this little house.  Thankfully, we have had the conveniences of Lenny’s parent’s house for showers and laundry since we still aren’t in a warm enough setting to unwinterize.  Basically, we are still practicing but are planning our next move to Hot Springs, AR (the first National Park and first on our journey) and hope that we will soon hit warm enough weather that we can unwinterize the Airstream and have a fully operating home!  So, in the interim of all of this work, I think it is important to take a moment and reflect on just a few of the things we are most thankful for.

  • Our families, both genetic and adopted
  • Our wonderful friends (shout outs coming for a few in an upcoming post)
  • Our health
  • To live in a time and place where we have the freedom, technology,  and opportunity to take on such an expedition while still maintaining our jobs and quality education for Lilya.
  • The support and excitement of our coworkers and clients
  • The timing of everything.  Both good, and even what seemed to be bad at the time. 🙂

Please leave me a comment of what you are thankful for below.

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