Raton, New Mexico
April 12, 2018
In November of 2016 we were waylaid in Albuqueque, NM waiting on a trailer part to arrive to repair a leaking tank. While we waited, we ended up having a fantastic 3+ weeks exploring the interesting city, and made ourselves at home at one of our favorite campgrounds, Enchanted Trails RV. During that stay we celebrated our 100th day on the road, and we shared 100 random thoughts & lessons learned at that time.
Now by some insane twist of magic that time somehow does, we’ve arrived at Day 600. And we are in the same neck of the woods. In fact, we just spent 2 weeks at Enchanted Trails and will return there in a few days. I felt like the return to this same place for the celebration and reflection prompted by another milestone was a perfect opportunity to consider our lessons learned again. So here’s a new list of things we’ve learned (130 things this time ) for our return to Albuquerque…500 days later.
1. Friends are easier to make if you know how to make them.
2. So many people love Legos!
3. Life is hard, but also fun.
4. I’m so glad that now I don’t have to put the clothes boxes up and down every time we drive. (This was one of Sunny’s chores until Brad reinforced their shelves.)
5. I learned how to put the tripod up and how to unlock the truck and camper.
6. El Deafo is the best book ever. All the Harry Potter books are #2.
7. It’s more fun to make Mom happy than mad, but it’s easier to make her mad than happy.
9. Cougars are the same as mountain lions and pumas.
10. One Wild Kratts show = as much as we learned in 3 National Parks about animals.
12. “Science for Us” is more fun than regular Time4Learning.com.
13. Stalagmites are formed from stalactites dripping.
14. All the state capitals.
16. The capital of Virginia is Richmond. We remember that because white men came there to “get rich”.
17. You can get a lego set that makes a camper.
18. God is important.
19. I can set up the handrail for the front door.
20. I can tighten the tripod.
21. I can raise and lower the back stabilizers.
23. I can label 22 states on a blank map.
24. I can read now!
25. I can ride my bike without training wheels.
26. I can tie my shoes.
28. My cousin Ian knows my cousin Bridget!
29. To make friends you don’t only have to say hi. You have to like, talk to them and stuff.
30. Everybody’s weird.
31. Success looks like a lot of different things for a lot of different people. It’s important to find your own path to your own success.
32. The rust belt is super depressing.
33. I love the west.
34. I’m getting better at having flexible plans, but I still have a ways to go.
35. Things are rarely as bad as they seem at first, especially if you’re starving.
37. Sometimes “fixing things” is just winging it to see if it works.
38. It’s hard to exercise while traveling.
39. There are pretty parts of every single state. (But maybe not every city.)
40. Man cannot live on bread alone, but can get pretty far on bread and sunbutter.
41. I don’t like lobster enough to make it worth eating them.
42. There are jerks, rednecks, and wonderfully nice people in every corner of the country.
43. Ford makes good trucks.
44. I’m just a stressed guy trying to be chill, and usually failing. But sometimes not failing.
45. Couples fighting about backing-up a trailer is entertaining until it’s you.
47. The city of Quartzsite, AZ grows from a tiny town of 4,000 to 3/4 of a million people every winter when thousands of snowbirds camp in the desert in their RVs.
48. Quartzsite is a great place to sell used RV furniture on craigslist.
49. Spring is the windy season in New Mexico.
51. Sometimes convenience is worth the expense.
52. Minimalism is a style and a philosophy. The 2 aren’t usually compatible.
53. Grieving our beloved Mocha is easier for me than it was to miss her.
54. If you’re looking for grumpy people, you will find them.
55. If you’re looking for friendly people, you will find them.
56. Most people aren’t as much like me as I assumed.
57. The natural world has much more to see than I can even comprehend.
58. We are slowly but surely destroying the natural systems that we are part of and depend on in order to thrive on this planet.
59. Other people’s perceptions of me have always defined who I feel like I am. Now that I have been drastically cut off from many people in my previous communities, I sometimes struggle with how I perceive myself.
60. You can’t grind coffee beans with the power from the truck AC adapter.
61. If you and a 5 year old wake up one day and agree, “I really want to pet a cat today”, it’s actually much harder to accomplish than I would have guessed.
63. It’s best to turn your dinner plate so that the most drippy part of the meal is on the downhill side.
65. They aren’t antelope; they’re pronghorn.
67. You can live simply or extravagantly within any lifestyle.
68. The west is way more conducive to RV’ing than the east.
69. Point Pelee Canadian National Park is the southern-most tip of Canada, and is promoted within the country as being “the same latitude as northern CA!”
70. We love our long-lost cousins, and we are determined to keep them in our lives.
71. Louisville is a fascinating blend of crunchy and red-neck. (Aka…not all farmers markets are created equal.)
73. I have to resist the urge to let a bad “moment” define the whole day. Move on and make the rest of the day better!
75. Our family loves to learn to things, and I hope that never changes. If we can keep that love alive in our girls, then this season of homeschooling = total success.
76. I like the Tetons more than Yellowstone.
78. The UFO landing was actually closer to the town of Corona than Roswell, and it was probably just a nuclear test surveillance balloon.
79. Morning cuddles with Coral are pretty much the best part of life.
81. The trek from mainland Virginia to the peninsula, across the Chesapeake Bay, involves a bridge-tunnel-Bridge-tunnel-Bridge that closes for RVs when winds exceed 40mph. The experience changes from stressful to exciting if you turn on Sebastian’s “Under the Sea” every time you’re in the tunnel.
83. The campground employees always know which local RV shops are legit. It’s almost never Camping World.
84. Downtown Sante Fe is one of the coolest places in the country.
85. Dance parties cover a multitude of sins.
86. In the absence of routines that create weekends, we absolutely have to plan some “down days”.
87. Libraries are the best.
88. It’s impossible for my kids to be as grateful for this experience as I want them to be. I have to realize that I’m doing things that I’ve always wanted to do, but they haven’t even had a chance to develop such desires yet. So instead of being frustrated by their lack of appreciation, I need to focus on modeling gratitude for them. I’m not fulfilling bucket-list items for them; I am gifting them with a completely different way of seeing the world from an early age.
89. There’s no way I would do this with teenagers.
91. Boondocking isn’t as complicated or scary as I thought.
92. You need some battery power to run the propane furnace.
94. Visiting Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument in the same day will make your political history head spin.
95. I am really bad at stopping something that I like. Transitions are really hard for me.
96. Cheese curds squeak against your teeth when you eat them.
97. Most RV parks in the NE don’t open until Memorial Day.
98. Sometimes Hershey, PA smells like chocolate, but sometimes it smells like cow poop. Both are important parts of the local economy, so I suppose you could say it always smells like money.
99. My coping mechanism is zoning out, and I’m super good at it.
100. It’s easier to cross into Canada in your RV than get back into the US.
101. Leeches attach with both ends.
102. The 4 outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, & Uranus) are made completely of gas.
103. I am small, but my actions matter.
104. Teaching Sunny how to play solitaire was a gift for the whole family.
105. I try to pack too many things into each experience, and it’s super hard for me to let go of doing something if I already have a mental image of myself doing that thing.
106. Brad is my favorite.
108. Water is supposed to be an RV’s worst enemy, but I would take rain over wind any day.
109. Praises to the holy Roman god of Legos for keeping our family together.
110. There’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring, galactic show in the sky every night, and we usually miss it.
111. Roswell is in New Mexico. Area 51 is in Nevada – different conspiracy theories.
112. Prostitution isn’t legal in Vegas. But it is legal in the rural counties of Nevada. Along those same lines, the “Chicken Ranch” in Pahrump, NV has no chickens and is not a ranch.
113. Having fewer belongings forces us to be more creative.
115. Passport America membership pays for itself, even if you only use it once.
116. You only have about 6-8 weeks to explore Glacier while it’s fully open, and those weeks are in the middle of fire season. But it’s worth it…good luck!
117. Bad days make the best stories.
119. The Beatles have a song for every occasion, and it makes my heart happy when my girls request their stuff.
120. There’s never just one prairie dog.
121. Tolls don’t necessarily mean the road will be well maintained.
122. Our girls are amazing travelers.
124. You can have mail sent to any US postoffice as “General Delivery” and pick it up there within a week, and Amazon pick-up locations are AWESOME.
125. If you RV full-time, www.campendium.com will be your best friend.
126. The white sand at White Sands National Park is finely ground gypsum crystals.
127. Sometimes new experiences are just the thing. Sometimes familiarity is just the thing. Taking your home with you as you travel in an RV is great because it creates a blend of both.
128. In the absence of a trifle bowl, a plastic spinach container works great!.
129. We’ve been on the road 600 days, and in some ways it feels like we are just finding our groove. Other times I feel like we haven’t even figured this out at all yet. But I know for sure that the whole thing does get a lot less exhausting after awhile.
130. This was the best decision ever.