Monday, June 1, 2020

New Mexicoooo

Near the mouth of Diablo Canyon

We have been to New Mexico before just not the places where we  recently camped. We choose some spectacular spots that changed our minds about what New Mexico has to offer. It's gorgeous ❤️

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

We had to scurry around for a camp site near Taos as everything is still closed. We ended up at a private park in Red River. We drove the Enchantment Circle which takes you through different topography.
Along the way we found a huge brewery out in pasture by itself (shown below)
After a few nights in the forest we left to camp in White Rock near Santa Fe. We dispersed camp at the mouth of Diablo Canyon a rock climbers paradise.

Our second day camping we hiked a few miles to cool off in the Rio Grande.
Off to Texas today as we need to head East.

A run through the canyon in the rain.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Traveling with Terrapin - in a pop-up camper

Introducing the newest member to the Terrapin tribe, our cozy pop-up camper "Dutch Oven".  

We set out with a modest budget of $2,000 to fulfill our wildest camper dreams. We found Dutch Oven for a cool $1000 from a shady couple and to our surprise when we went to register the camper it hadn't even been reported stolen. 

Dutch Oven is a bit smaller than we were originally hoping for but she fits the bill. She's small enough to fit in the garage and light enough to be pulled with my mom-mobile. 

Before photo from listing

before photo from listing

With the leftover $1000 from our budget we painted, put in new flooring, bought new upholstery, and paid a teacher to create new cushion covers, made new curtains with lightweight tapestries and covered countertops with thick contact paper that looks like marble.

During the remodeling and refitting process of getting Dutch Oven ready for dry camping, Phil got in touch with his sailor self and now this glorified tent has solar, a charge controller, a water pump, all new electrical, special gas valves for cooking both inside and outside, 4 new fans and a new waterproof roof, oh and a 4 pack of bike racks. If it weren't for the quarantine I don't know that we would have finished the projects that we through would only take a few weekends and ended up taking months. 

We originally planned our trip pre-Coronavirus and have had to make some detours and changes to the itinerary. We will shuck and jive our way from Colorado to North Carolina for a beach week taking a southern route and plan to return driving a northern route. 

We've used a few different websites to help us navigate through free camping, private land camping,  BLM land, etc. 

Hipcamp- this is an awesome site where people list their private land for camper and RV use. We used this site to book a farm in Illinois and a camp friendly brewery in South Dakota. Has an app too.

Campendium- we used this website often to reference camping spots that we found but wanted to make sure they were up to snuff. It also provides free camping spots

The Dyrt - this website provides reviews of camping spots and makes for a good reference.

FreeRoam - this app offers up tools and a community for those wanting to boondock and is a popular resource for vanlifers. It also lists spots for RV's. 

If you're up for an adventure, then stay tuned as we stuff 4 people, 4 bikes, and 1 fat dog into a pop-up camper the size of a shoe for a 7-week expedition. What could possibly go wrong? 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

To end our stay in Vietnam we took a 4.5 hour bus ride from Saigon to the Mekong Delta where stayed in a tranquil home stay right on an inlet. The Nguyen Shack was nothing short of amazing. The grounds are gorgeous and our shack backed to the water, a place where we could relax in hammocks at night, enjoy a few drinks and watch the fireflies go buzzing by. 

The Nguyen Shack is a great place to visit as a family with plenty of room for kids to safely run around and explore. The girls enjoyed putting their feet in an abandoned boat with toe nibbling fish. 

Crossing the "monkey bridge"...because one looks like a clinging monkey while crossing

At the shack we met people from around the globe, all here to see the slower pace of life along the delta. One of the highlights of our stay was the puppies and kitties that called the shack their home. We had a mom cat and her 1 kitten stay in our shack with us. 

Relaxing and catching the sunset with our kitty

The Nguyen Shack offers free bikes for touring the many little roads that wind their way along the delta. We couldn't get over how friendly everyone was to us. Kids would run after our bikes, screaming "hello" and wave at us. Men would yell from their boats, "Welcome to Vietnam". Having lived in China only 5 months, smiling faces, waving hands and warm people are almost foreign to us. I don't think we realized how complaisant we have become since moving to China. 

The Nguyen Shack took us on a 5:30am trip to the Cai Rang floating market. The market is up and running strong from about 6am- 7am.  This market is where local farmers come to sell their produce to people with smaller boats. It's the smaller boats that then make their way up the inlets and re-sell the produce to others. 

You can buy just about anything to eat or drink at the Cai Rang market. We bought some Vietnamese coffee from a couple in a small boat on our way to see the market. 

The easiest way to know what the farmers are selling is to look at the produce tied to the bamboo stick raised above the boats. If a boat had carrot, onion, cabbage, and taro tied to their stick, the locals would refer to that boat as a "super market".  Other boats sold melons of all sorts and pineapples. 

In addition to the Cai Rang floating market, we took a sunset boat tour through the delta. At sunset the tide is low and unfortunately the amount of trash thrown into the delta can be easily spotted. I don't understand why if a region relies so heavy on something such as the delta, why the locals trash it. I understand that at times trash is displaced, but this wasn't the case. On several occasions we saw people purposely throw plastic bags of trash into the delta and just walk away. Do they really think it just disappears? 

Irony~ a man bathes in the delta next to a bag of floating trash

We really enjoyed Vietnam, from the lantern festival in Hoi An to the Cu Chi tunnels and relaxing on the delta. But I can honestly say, we wouldn't come back. The amount of trash thrown all over the country is too much. From the trashed beaches to the 4.5 hour bus ride from Saigon to the delta where for hundreds of miles we saw trash to watching it float through every's too heartbreaking.