No, not the final frontier – just the frontier. We’re not moving to space, at least not yet. But when humans begin sending out space colonies, I might opt to get off this planet filled with over 7,000,000,000 crazy people.
Last weekend my friend Troy and I camped at the top of Hermit’s Peak in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico. It was extremely cold and windy and I hardly slept. Nonetheless it made for an unforgettable adventure, as such excursions always do.
We prepared Thursday and Friday nights so we could leave early on Saturday morning. The weather was nice for the hike to the summit.
The hike took around 3 hours and is labeled “strenuous” in the guides. It seemed moderate to me but was made strenuous because of the backpack. It was a great workout in pristine, untouched nature. What can beat that? We cracked through the ice and drank water from an Artesian well at the top too. The peak was named after the Italian religious recluse, John Augustiani, a hermit who lived many years atop this very mountain during the time of the U.S. Civil War. This spring was his water supply.
The pictures cannot ever communicate what it feels like to be at the top of a mountain. There is no representation of the sound of the wind in a photograph. The vision of the world before your very eyes, with nothing between you and the vast space of our earth cannot be described. The sense of accomplishment from continuing upward, step after step after step, breath after breath, all the way to the top, makes one reflect on his own strength.
The wind was alive, always present, always with us. All through the night and the morning. Howling gusts. It seems to speak at times, but in its own language that I don’t quite understand.
I was up most of the night. I was ok with it though, somehow at peace because of it.
At one point in the middle of the night I was finally warmed up in my sleeping bag, drifting off to sleep. Then a gust blew forcefully under and into the tent and all my warmth was stolen away in a swoop. I thought, “It’s going to take me 20 minutes to get that warm again.” That happened over and over. ha ha
As for our RV journey to the west coast, we are planning to spend the winter in this part of the world. Although the weather is nice in Arizona, we are hoping to start a project or two in the Santa Fe area for now. I also have a few friends with whom I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro last year that live in the area as well as some old friends from medical school. It’s great to be around good friends again!
It’s been a while, I know. I have been very busy exploring South Dakota and then Colorado. I absolutely love these places. I feel at home and at peace and I can’t really explain why. One can feel the spirit of the lands out here. Today we arrived in New Mexico which will be a blast! We don’t know how long we’ll be here but we might stay through the winter.
In South Dakota we spent a few days in Sioux Falls. We also visited our official hometown – Chamberlain, which was beautiful, right on the Missouri River. After that we visited Rapid City and then saw Mount Rushmore, which was always a dream of mine when I was a boy. (I can check that off the list, now.)
We spent a few days visiting the healing waters at Hot Springs, SD. I swam in the Cascade springs outside, which were actually pretty cold. At the main location in town they built a pool complex which was 87 degrees and comfortable. I drank as much as I could. I’ve been feeling great!
In Boulder, I had a few hours free so I hiked to the top of the 1st Flatiron. The 3 huge boulder formations just south of Boulder, Colorado are called the Flatirons. It looked like a lot of fun to climb, but being alone and pressed for time, I just sprinted towards the top. I didn’t see any climbers. I slowed down because the altitude rocked me. But I was able to reach the summit and back in under an hour and a half.
Today we’re visiting some old friends and there will be lots of music, drinks and laughs! Wish you were here!
We are headed further west again – little by little. Wisconsin is next, then we will pass through Minnesota and probably spend a night or two there en route to South Dakota. This is very exciting for me because I have never been to these states. There are only 14 states I have not been to yet and these next 3 states will bring me down to 11!
We are planning to go to Rockford, Illinois, where they have a Barnes and Noble, a GuitarCenter, a WalMart, an open-mic night, and an ice rink all within just a few miles. We’re going to do all those things in the next 2 days. In the meantime, I’m working on an article about my latest research – how to make money writing songs.
Moving day. Wish us safe travels!
Toledo is in Ohio, of course!! We headed west from the Amish country and spent the night near Pittsburgh in order to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. For those unfamiliar, this is the house built on a waterfall back in the late 1930′s. The house was designed to blend in with nature. For example, a naturally occurring stream was left as a fountain in the hallway. The pool is filled with crystal clear spring water diverted from the main river as well. Some windows open up leaving the wall completely absent and nature can come right in. The house is amazing to say the least.
We are now on the road to South Dakota, our next destination. Where we go after that is undecided. For now, we are visiting the dunes parks on the Indiana coast of Lake Michigan. We just arrived today, my brother Joe’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Joe!), and we haven’t seen any dunes yet.
Next we will likely spend a few days around Chicago, which is only 50 miles west of here. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for keeping an eye on us!
Yesterday when I went to empty our waste tanks I noticed fresh black soot on the cover of our hot water heater. Although at first I was overwhelmed – Another %$&#@! thing gone wrong with the RV!!!! – I was soon able to relax and get to work. Some online research brought me to the following link which was incredibly helpful: http://www.rverscorner.com/waterhtr.html. Thank you rverscorner.com!
You can see the soot all over the exterior of the exhaust vent. Very scary! Soot means incompletely burned fuel and carbon monoxide. This needs immediate repair before the hot water is to be used again!
Here is what you see when you open the cover. For this problem we only need to concern ourselves with the burner assembly across the bottom. First detach it by removing the 6 or so hex nuts holding it in place.
Now detached, we are able to inspect and clean the various components of the burner assembly.
Our culprits. No surprise here. Three beetles are clogging the flow of gas through the burner assembly. With the sudden appearance of soot it makes sense that it was an insect nest or other blockage causing the problem.
Nasty. Let’s just hope they don’t climb inside again soon, requiring me to do this frequently!
At the air shutter end of the assembly we can see that the tube is clear. After removing the bugs I cleaned it by spraying compressed air through the tube.
Here you are able to see the orifice quite clearly, where the propane enters the assembly. Often there may be a blockage in the orifice itself which can cause a similar problem. NEVER insert anything into the orifice!
Clean the orifice with rubbing alcohol and a q-tip. If you need to dislodge a piece that clogs the orifice, use a wooden toothpick, but never use anything metal or you may damage the finely calibrated opening.
Finally, after reassembly and turning the heater on, we can see and hear the loud, blue flame that heats the water tank. Total repair time approximately 30 minutes.
Monday was “Moving Day” which happens about every 3 to 10 days. It’s quite exciting to start up Ol’ Bessie and cross our fingers that she’ll get us where we want to be. It’s usually stressful too though, but we’re improving our routines.
We’re camping at French Creek for a few days. It’s very pretty, but we have been getting down to business. Today I made a few RV repairs and we did some food and necessity shopping at Wal-Mart (which is never too far away, it seems).
The biggest news is that our cat, Bridget, decided to stay in New Jersey! Isn’t that outrageous!? After 11 years together she made it perfectly clear that she was NOT coming with us when we move next. She was happy at Lake Laurie Campground and wanted to stay. I think now that her secret plan all along was to stay behind so that Joe would rescue her and she’d get to stay with him – which he did. Joe and Jean are going to care for her while we cross the country. Bridget was truly hating the “on the road” lifestyle. Now looking back on our stay at my brother’s, I find that she was making every effort to stay with him after all. I am happy with how this turned out in the end.
That’s the news. I have to go check to see if I still have a microphone. I think I’m supposed to write a song for this blog soon. I better get on that.
I don’t really have any new pictures so I’m posting some old photos of the RV. These were taken right after I drove it home from Indiana, back in July. I plan to take some new pictures and a video at some point. Hope you like them!
I’m finally figuring out how to get the map function going. Pretty soon I’ll have a map of the route we’ve taken so far.