Disclaimer – I had 2 “Day 24’s” back in October! LOL So my day count has been off – Took me long enough to figure it out. I’m officially correcting it going forward.
Day 98 Continued…
Monday, January 13, 2020 – Well, our 4 hour trip turned into almost 6 hours with our stops. As we are driving west, I’m trying to soak in this countryside! It is so amazing! I guess in the east, the mountains are covered with trees & greenery so you don’t see the ruggedness of them and how monumental they are.
We were warned that the Interstate 10 stretch from Junction, TX to Fort Stockton, TX had only a few gas stations on it, however, we failed to keep track of our fuel level and got dangerously low. Thankfully there was a gas station when we had about 10 miles until empty showing on our gauge. This will not happen again! The price of fuel was $3.19/gal – about a dollar more per gallon then what most of Texas charges. I presume since it was a remote location so they felt free to charge more.
From flatland to the rocky hillsides, it’s gorgeous! While at a rest stop and later at Walmart, we spotted a couple we met in our park yesterday. It’s fun to see people that are familiar to you. It doesn’t happen that often so it’s always a smile and wave.
The stop at Walmart was to stock up on groceries as we were told there wasn’t going to be a major grocery store for awhile, possibly not for about 2 weeks depending on where we end up. We arrived at our campsite just after sunset (Site 50). The campground reviews said to expect that most campsites in this park aren’t level. Thankfully, this one wasn’t too bad but it was kind of short for our entire rig. After a few adjustments, we were unhooked and set up. We ate some dinner and soon turned in for the night.
I’m still keeping an eye on Lucas’s tick bite. It’s just a small red mark at this moment. No change so far.
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 – After breakfast and while Matthew was on a run, I went to the office to see what options we had for moving campsites. Our site wasn’t ideal as it was in the valley and pretty close to our neighbors. There were 2 sites available for the length of stay we had planned, leaving Friday. Lucas and I scoped them out, chose one and then started packing for the move.
By the time Matthew returned from his run it didn’t take long to hitch up and move sites. Yay for a nice view! This park is pretty spectacular. The elevation at camp level is over 5,000 feet and the highest point in the mountain range over 6,000 feet. The Davis Mountains are the only mountain range fully contained in the state of Texas.
After setting up at Site 18, and eating some hearty Chicken Noodle Soup, it was time to hike to the top of the mountain via the shorter of the two trails – Old CCC Trail – just less than 2 miles each way. What amazing views along the way. According to the park staff, these mountains have Javelinas (a type of wild pig, pronounced with an H where the J is), Mountain Goats and Mountain Lions. Trails are pretty rocky – like rocks the size of baseballs & softballs at places. It was tricky for Lucas but he pushed onward, keeping an eye out for Mountain Goats. Unfortunately, none were spotted on this trip.
Arriving at the top, you round the corner through a short separation in the rocks to a spectacular, panoramic view of the valley below! After enjoying the views and seeing all there was to see, we headed back. Hike stats: 3.78, 1 hr, 56 minutes. (In case it hasn’t been mentioned before, the CCC was the Civilian Conservation Corps. Formed in the 1930’s, its purpose was to provide jobs for young men and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression. They built many state and some national parks.)
I took another look at Lucas’s bite mark and a circle is starting to form. Inside I’m screaming, angry and frankly devastated at what might be ahead. Hoping and praying it away. Late afternoon, I stopped by the Park Headquarters to see if any rangers have experience with tick bites. There were three super sweet ladies on duty, one in particular had experience with it as her husband was bit a few years ago. They all agreed that a bullseye was forming. Unfortunately, the closest doctor/clinic/hospital is in Alpine, about 30 minutes south of here. The offices would be closed at this time of day but they recommended that if we didn’t want to go to the ER, we could try the clinic in the morning. I’m slowly loosing hope but trying to stay positive and not make a big deal about it in front of Lucas.
While at the park headquarters, I picked up a list of park activities as well as information about the McDonald Observatory that is nearby. On Tuesday, Friday & Saturday night’s the Observatory hosts a Star Party where they point out constellations, planets, etc and allow you to view the night sky through their telescopes. We couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
After dinner, we drove the 13 miles west to the Observatory. Lucas was pretty excited about checking out some stars. We purchased our tickets and headed outside to the amphitheater walking along the path marked with red lights along the ground. Did you know that red light does not interfere with your night vision?
It was a chilly evening, Lucas had a coat but Matthew and I weren’t really prepared for the temperature drop at this elevation. The show started at 7:00 and for 45 minutes, we sat in a circular area listening to an astronomer speak about the planets, lightyears, stars, constellations and even use a green laser pointer that allows him to point directly at a star. It was incredible! We learned it takes your eyes about 45 minutes to acclimate to the dark and provide the best clarity for viewing the night sky. The Milky Way was clearer than I had ever seen in my life! The whole lightyear thing blows my mind! Like these stars are really old that we are looking at! LOL
About 30 minutes in, Lucas fell asleep on my lap. He was exhausted from our hike. We listened a bit more then decided to look through a few telescopes before ducking out. I attempted to wake Lucas and finally at about the 3rd one, we got him awake. Once his foggy brain cleared and he realized what was going on, he loved looking through the telescopes. We were able to see Uranus, the 7th planet from the sun, which appeared as a blueish ring and several star clusters through the telescopes.
By this point we were all pretty chilly so went inside to watch a brief movie on telescopes. It was incredible. Around 9:00, we returned home. Overall a wonderful experience and highly recommend everyone experience an observatory like this at least once in their life.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020 – Immediately upon waking up, I checked Lucas’s bite – no question its a bullseye now. My heart sank! We ate some breakfast and loaded up for the drive to Alpine. Last minute, I grabbed the dirty laundry in case there was a laundromat nearby and had the time. On the way, Matthew and I discussed our travel plans. While we had hoped to link up with our FL friends, Kyle & Angela, at Big Bend National Park, it looks like we need to postpone. There is zero medical care within 3 hours of the Big Bend. I called the park office and extended our current site through Saturday and completed a new reservation for another site from Saturday through Friday, January 24th. Staying put here seems to be the best plan. Lucas had an allergic reaction to penicillin when he was younger so want to be safe.
We arrived at the Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine and went into the clinic that’s connected to the hospital. The receptionist informed us that they only had an OB/GYN on staff today and suggested the Preventative Care Clinic down the road. After waiting for another patient to check in, I was told that they didn’t have any appointments available today and this receptionist suggested another Doctor’s office. I asked if she could call ahead to check on availability. She graciously did and told me they would be able to see Lucas. On to the 3rd location – Alpine Medical Center. We checked in and were soon taken back. Lucas weighed in at 48 lbs, 5 oz but I forgot to record his height. He’s gained about 3 lbs since we started out and I know he’s grown at least an inch – his pants are getting so short.
The Nurse Practitioner confirmed our fears – the bite shows the typical Lymes Disease bullseye pattern. She prescribed Cefuroxime 250mg twice/day for 14 days and recommended that we follow up with her or another doctor in 2 weeks to be sure all was well. We went to the pharmacy and then went back and forth with the doctors office for several hours because the original prescription was for liquid and it was no longer available. In the meantime, we ate a bit of lunch and did our laundry – YAY!. We picked up the medicine and finally headed home around 3:00. (Photos below are of the side of the doctor’s office and the pharmacy.)
As we were pulling into the entrance of the park, we spotted a few Mountain Goats on the side of the hill. I wasn’t able to capture a picture but it felt like a gift after our crazy day!
Now to figure out how to give our boy his first medicine in pill form. We thought mac & cheese might work and let’s just say after about 30 minutes of screaming and tears – from Lucas and Mom – he got the pill down! Tomorrow morning, I’ll be going to the grocery store to buy applesauce, juice and anything else that may help it go smoother.
Thursday, January 16, 2020 – Lucas and I woke around 7:00 and headed to the grocery store, Porter’s, about 2 miles away. Porter’s has been around since 1945 according to the sign and I have to say, for a small town, they have a great selection and decent prices. We picked up juice, applesauce, flavored instant oatmeal, yogurt and a few essentials. Interesting tidbit, this store sells Shurfine brand foods which was the brand sold at the grocery store I worked at after high school – Giles Shurfine.
While at Porter’s, I took advantage of the cell service and called Danielle back in VA. It was time to catch up! On the way out of the RV, Lucas had grabbed his iPad which turned out to be a huge win as I could chat without interruption. 😉
We returned home and commenced to administering another pill. There was a bit of fight but not as dramatic as the night before! After relaxing around the RV for the morning, hand washing a few items that I had forgotten to grab yesterday, Lucas and I went for another hike. Picking the Montezuma Quail Trail with it’s trailhead by the bird watching area. (We chuckle when we see bird watching areas – just not happening with a 5 yr old!) It was a little over a mile long hike with a few pretty steep areas. My phone died part way through so Lucas allowed me to borrow his camera that he took along. (His camera is a really old digital cameral of mine. He pulls it out from time to time. I love to see what he captures. He’s doing better about holding the camera still until it’s done taking the picture.)
Later that evening, we drove into town to send a few messages and find free wifi. The wifi at the park is pretty unpredictable. Lucas and I popped in the “Drug Store” which is a restaurant, soda fountain and ice cream shop all in one because he needed to use the restroom. I had to take a few pictures. Definitely a landmark of this town.
We returned home and I decided to open a bottle of wine that I’d been carrying around for about 8 years! It was a special gift from the Israeli Embassy.
Friday, January 17, 2020 – We had a thunderstorm overnight! As you can imagine they don’t get much rain here. I asked a ranger later in the day and was told we had about 7/10th of an inch. I had gone to bed late and then the rain started so I didn’t get much sleep. While I like the sound of rain, in the RV it always sounds like a deluge!
After a lazy morning, we decided to visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site in town just a few miles away. Lucas was excited to do another Junior Ranger program. We picked up our booklet and started wandering around. Fort Davis was established in October 1854 as a way to provide protection along the southern route to the west. The Fort was along the San Antonio – El Paso Road. The soldiers here also worked closely with the Indians. Lucas completed the Junior Ranger Program and received Badge #10!
Tonight’s dinner was pizza and afterwards Lucas made an off-road course with our outdoor rug. He entertained himself quite well.
Today’s pill taking was easier. The redness seems to be decreasing in the tick bite area.
Saturday, January 18, 2020 – We tried to catch the sunrise on top of the mountain but we were a bit late. After taking a few pictures, we headed back to camp stopping by the Indian Lodge on the way. This lodge was originally built in the 1940’s with a few additions over the years and is a popular place for folks to get away. A restaurant is also part of the facility now but it is closed this week for it’s annual cleaning. Oh – we also saw a couple deer on our return.
Moving day…to a new campsite – #24. It was directly across the loop from our current spot. But you still have to go through the full pack up process in order to ensure that everything is secured. I’m getting more efficient at this process.
Once settled in our site, I headed into the town for a couple hours of WIFI. When I returned, we decided another hike was in order. Today we picked the Skyline Drive Trail. I thought we were only going to do part of the trail but once we started the “mens” wanted to keep going. I walked within 10 feet of a deer at one point. Then the decision needed to be made how we were going to get back – the sun was beginning to set! We chose the Old CCC trail which was approximately 1.6 miles and arrived home as the last light of the day was fading. Hike Stats: 3.55 miles, 1 hr, 41 minutes Our boy was exhausted!
I received an email from Angela (our FL friend) today. I had emailed her on Thursday that we wouldn’t be coming to Big Bend for at least another week. They decided to come join us here on Monday and stay for 4-5 nights. Hearing this news really made my day! We’re excited to see them again and to get to know them better.
Sunday, January 19, 2020 – Take 2 of catching the sunrise. Today we arrived at first light and enjoyed watching the horizon come alive. What majesty in the colors and landscape. We did videos chats with our parents so they could see the sunrise too.
After breakfast we got ready to go to church. There were a few in town so picked one and set out. Not realizing it was about 40 minutes away, we decided to pick another place closer. Choosing the First Baptist Church of Fort Davis, we had a bit of time to kill so we drove around the streets of town. While the main street is paved, most of the side streets are dirt.
We enjoyed a few traditional hymns and sermon. The folks at First Baptist were very welcoming. It was good to be in church again.
From there we stopped by the Double Shot Coffee Lounge which is part of the Limpia Hotel. The gentleman working there was very welcoming and easy to talk with. The coffee they serve is from Big Bend Coffee Roaster in Marfa, TX and it was delicious. Upstairs in the building is a lounge area that’s technically part of the Hotel but we were told we could hang out of there. It was perfect for the free wifi and entertainment for Lucas. He loves playing pool although he technically doesn’t play it. He has a great time nonetheless.
We attempted to get Lucas back on his bike today. Telling him that Reed (our FL friend) was coming and he needs to be able to ride with him. It didn’t work. Instead he just pushed his bike around the grass.
Later that evening we took another drive up the mountain. Cell service is spotty – there is one rock that if you stand on it you sometimes get signal – so up the mountain we go to check messages. On our return we spotted a herd of deer.
Monday, January 20, 2020 – Happy Birthday to my brother, Nate, up in NY! Happy Anniversary to Matthew’s Parents in SC!
The mornings have been chilly but once the sun comes up over the mountain, it warms up nicely. Lucas was outside pretty early to play on his off-road track again. He was content for awhile.
Our FL friends arrived early afternoon!! Lucas was so excited to see Reed again. They definitely picked up right where they left off – playing in the dirt! It feels so good to have people around that you kind of know. And especially another family as we don’t see that many.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 – Lucas’s tick bite is definitely improving. The redness is getting lighter and the pill taking is getting easier. He knows the drill now although asks each time how many he has left!
Mid morning, we connected with the FL friends and the boys wanted to play soccer while I relaxed by the picnic area. We used our 2 solar Christmas lights as goal posts. They soon broke one but it wasn’t a big loss as they came from the Dollar Store.
Our router arrived at the Park Office so we took a little hike. Kyle & Reed joined us. It’s so sweet how Lucas tries to look out for Reed.
We had purchased a LTE Router and a Yaggi antenna in hopes of improving our connectivity while traveling. Since most of our travels have been confined to rural areas and sometimes one of our phone’s don’t have service while the other does. We decided to purchase a T-Mobile SIM from the local Dollar General in hopes that it would work with the LTE Router. After much trial and error T-Mobile support said that there service wouldn’t work on the Router even though they first told us it would. We decided to purchase an AT&T Sim so that we would have a Verizon phone, Sprint phone and AT&T via the router. Our hope is to get jobs that allow working remotely so that this lifestyle can be sustained.
Tonight the redness around the tick bite is completely gone. There is still a bump where the actual bite occurred. Thank you, God!!
Wednesday, January 22, 2020 – We started our morning slow again. We are enjoying this down time and staying in one place. I’m so thankful for the fireplace in our RV. It really helps take the edge off the cold mornings. It’s electric so doesn’t consume our propane. While enjoying my morning coffee, 2 deer wandered right through our site. I enjoy seeing wildlife!
We drove into town for cell signal again, ending up at the county park. It was a little chilly, but Lucas enjoyed it even spotting a dandelion. Being in the dryer west, I appreciate finding the pops of color.
I was expecting an Amazon package (vitamins for Lucas) and had addressed it to General Delivery at Post Office. Well, they couldn’t deliver it there and unfortunately, the local UPS spot wasn’t answering their phone. So on our way back through town, I stalked the UPS delivery guy. He showed me how packages should be addressed in order to receive them at the park office. Wow – this can be so complicated.
Early afternoon the boys were playing together again. I love that Lucas has a playmate. He misses his friends back in Virginia so much. That is one of the few negatives about this journey we’re on. We went for another short hike to the Park Office – still no package!
Matthew drove to Alpine this afternoon, about 30 miles away, to see about purchasing an AT&T sim card. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the type we needed. He was able to order one online and is hoping it comes before we leave town. To be safe, we’ve extended until Monday, the 27th.
Thursday, January 23, 2020 – Today the boys met up at our FL friend’s Airstream to play. They stacked blocks, hiked the “wash” (aka creek bed) which had some really neat paths that people had built, climbed trees and painted. They even enjoyed lunch together that Angela made – mac & cheese with peas! What boy doesn’t love that?
Later in the afternoon while playing by our site, new neighbors had come in and discovered a snake skin shed! They invited us to see it before they took it to the Park Office. It was probably 5-6 feet long! So creepy…at least to me. 🙂
Lucas’s tick bite seems to be drying up! Progress!
Friday, January 24, 2020 – We woke to freezing temperatures! The last few nights were chilly and typically we set our water to drip into our Brita water pitcher overnight but we had forgotten. The spigot outside on the post was frozen. No water! Matthew walked to the office to report the issue. When the park staff stopped by, they told us to just wait until the sun came up because then it would thaw.
In the meantime, we started researching how to sanitize our fresh water holding tank since it hadn’t been used in awhile. Because we were working outside, a few neighbors stopped by and chatted. One gave us a few pointers on what we were doing. For the most part, we find very friendly people everywhere we go. It’s refreshing.
Once the sun came over the mountain, the water line thawed out. It was also about the time we were ready to move to another site – #33 this time. Lucas played at Reed’s place while we did the move. It sure is nice to have someone else watch Lucas while we pack & move! So thankful for this time with friends.
Tonight’s dinner was turkey sausage, sweet potatoes & cauliflower steaks! Oh my goodness, the steaks were so good! I just fried them in a little seasoning and olive oil. Delicious! Will definitely try that again.
Our site in now across the wash from our FL friends. We spent quite a bit of time chatting while the kiddos play! We enjoy the fellowship.
Saturday, January 25, 2020 – Today our FL friends have to move campsites so we had Reed over while they packed and moved. More dirt moving, pretend hunting – what they don’t think up – and ball kicking!
I hand washed a few items today to hold us over for the next week. Things dry quite quickly in this part of the country. The little folding dry rack we purchased a few weeks ago at Walmart has come in handy. Of course I have a really nice wooden one at home but it was just too bulky to bring along.
We tried the bike riding thing again today. He will only ride it if we have a hand on the handlebars. I guess that’s a baby step! The picture below is of the bike riding, yes, but more importantly, it’s this really cool little trailer. 🙂 Matthew is always scoping out the unique rigs, especially the European ones.
As we’re leaving Monday, there is one more hike that we want to do. After dinner, we headed out on the Indian Lodge Trail. Matthew had hiked it a few days ago so was familiar with it. It was such a beautiful hike but a little intense in spots. There just aren’t any bad views in this place! I spotted a mountain goat but wasn’t quick enough for a picture. Lucas was pretty disappointed with that.
While we have enjoyed our stay here, we are so ready to move on! And as far as Texas State Parks, we loved them! We have been in Texas almost 2 months and are just now feeling it’s time for the next phase.
Sunday, January 26, 2020 – We enjoyed a relaxing day hanging out with our FL friends. Early afternoon, Matthew and I went into town to get a few groceries and wifi. What a special treat to have about an hour to ourselves. This is the first time since we left NY in October!
Late afternoon, we drove up to the McDonald Observatory wanting to return there in daylight. Unfortunately, they close early on Sundays so we missed the inside by about 10 minutes. We were, however, able to walk around outside a bit and drive around the facility.
We returned home and hitched up the rig. Hoping for an early start tomorrow as the camping sites at Big Bend National Park are first come/first serve.
Monday, January 27, 2020 – It only took a bit to get packed up this morning. I made a quick breakfast and we were on our way to the dump station at 8:00. We have one more package to pick up at the Post Office which opens at 9:00. The package was delivered on Saturday but the Post Office was closed.
After our grey and black tanks were emptied and our fresh water tank filled, we pulled up near our FL friend’s Airstream to bid our farewells. We may cross paths again in New Mexico but we honestly don’t know. We are so blessed by their friendship and it’s so special for Lucas to have a friend.
The stop at the Post Office was successful and we were on our way at 9:05! Next stop – Big Bend National Park!