Although I grew up in the Midwest, I have little desire to be back there except for visits to family and friends. This means that every Christmas involves a cross-country journey and doing my best to avoid snow, ice, traffic, and delays.
These days, we opt to drive instead of fly for this particular journey so that Monkey can join us for Christmas and because well, air travel just sucks. It’s a Jeep-only endeavor since the RV is a gas-guzzler, but fortunately, we found a departure campground with onsite storage to simplify the logistics. This year’s Christmas journey began in Albuquerque, New Mexico, made a stop in Atlanta, Georgia and then finally onto the town I grew up in, Arthur, Illinois.
On the eastbound journey, we broke up the drives with overnight hotel stays in Henryetta, Oklahoma and Tupelo, Mississippi, visits to Fort Smith National Historic Site and Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Arkansas, visits to Civil War battlefields in Mississippi, and breweries in Little Rock and Birmingham. Our stay in Georgia revolved around the husband’s business meetings, a company Christmas dinner, and getting an emissions test done in the Jeep so we don’t have to worry about that nonsense until August 2020.
It was Christmas traditions as usual at my parents’ place, with way too many amazing gifts and delicious things to eat. We tried to offset the impending fatness by running on their treadmill in the garage every morning. We spent a full week here in the house where I went to high school from and were able to get some much-needed downtime. I squeezed in work with every spare moment that didn’t feel like it was infringing upon the festive spirit.
I typically feel like I’m usually the one who makes the effort to visit people, but as an added bonus this year, everyone seemed to come to us! We had two sets of friends passing through Arthur who were awesome enough to stop by and say hello to break up their drives through the frigid corn fields. A few days later, a friend from high school came over to see us as well and scarf down some Mexican food to break up all the meals filled with casseroles and pies.
After spending a full week in Arthur, it was time to head back; however, all of the national monuments we’d planned to visit on the return journey were closed due to this idiotic government shutdown. So, we powered through Missouri and Oklahoma and stayed overnight in hotels in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Tucumcari, New Mexico along the way.
Central and southern New Mexico don’t typically get much snow, but the universe wasn’t smiling in our favor this year. The final leg of our return journey was riddled with icy roads and traffic accidents, and we were greeted by a busted pipe system and no running water when we got back to our home on wheels.
Now that we’re 2.5 years into this lifestyle and back at it again, here’s a quick recap of this past month’s batch of homes on the road.
Christmas Trip (Albuquerque, New Mexico > Atlanta, Georgia > Arthur, Illinois): Home on the Road #102
- Being able to keep up with my work and even get ahead a bit over the holidays.
- Good times with my parents, grandma, extended family, friends traveling through, an old high school friend, and my epic collection of Cabbage Patches that live at my parents’ house.
- Pretending like I’m a teenager again by having all of my meals cooked for me and laundry done for me
- Seeing tidbits of random towns in random states
- So many long hours in the Jeep
- Treacherous roads in New Mexico to get back
- Frozen pipe parts = no running water
- The government shutdown = no visits to national parks/monuments
Las Cruces, New Mexico: Home on the Road #103
Tired of all the camper drama that comes with cold and snow, we booked a campsite in Las Cruces in search of warmth and sunshine. But wouldn’t you know it, it snowed right here barely north of the Mexico border. Regardless, this was a fun place to ring in the new year and transition back into camper life after the holidays.
- New Year’s Eve Chili Drop festival downtown – we made it out until midnight!
- A healthy Monkey report from her annual vet appointment and dental cleaning
- Still the best campground bathrooms/showers I’ve ever experienced at Sunny Acres RV Park
- Why is everything in the RV breaking?!
- Not nearly as warm or snow-free as it’s supposed to be here
- Back to the grind with all work and not-so-much play
Marfa, Texas: Home on the Road #104
In 2.5 years of full-time RV life, would you believe that we’ve never camped in Texas? Sure, we’ve camped in Texas pre-camper-life in a tent and stayed in Texas hotels while making cross-country Christmas road trips. But our stay in Marfa finally warranted the adding of the Texas sticker to our RV travel map. I’d heard of Marfa’s mysterious lights and weird artist community, and I watched the one and only season of I Love Dick. This was our first time experiencing Marfa for ourselves though.
- Checking out minimalist, abstract, modern, and just plain random art in the middle of the desert (a Prada store that never opens?!)
- Scenic and secluded hike at Davis Mountains State Park nearby
- Warmer days in the 50s and 60s
- Slow pace of life and some rare downtime
- Looking through telescopes at a “star party” at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis
- Tent camping for the weekend at Big Bend Ranch State Park, an excellent Big Bend National Park alternative (I’ll kick off with this in next month’s post)
- Never-ending camper repairs, especially the plumbing system
- The “donations suggested” campground washer/dryer machines that took 4+ hours to do one load of laundry
- Strong and never-ending West Texas winds
- Shops, galleries, and restaurants often closed and only seem to open when they want to
- Not a good time to visit Big Bend National Park with the shutdown so skipped it
This Month’s Ramblings from the Road
- Working in certain hotels on the Christmas journey really made me miss having a real desk and chair to put in my 8+ hours per day. Pictured here: LaQuinta in Dunwoody, Georgia.
- For a while there, winter camping was further driving me towards calling this lifestyle quits in 2019. Winter or not, we’re working towards a plan to plop down by the end of summer in the Southwest. Therefore, 2 1/2 years of camper life = six months left of camper life (approximately). There is an end on the horizon, which is pretty unsettling but also pretty exciting to enter a new phase in a new place.
Looking Ahead to Next Month
Month #31 is looking like a whole lot of Texas, including some new parts of Texas that I have yet to see. From Marfa, we’re heading to the Del Rio and plopping down there for a couple weeks. After that, it’s on to San Antonio, which will be our home base for a full month. We’ve never actually reserved a campsite for an entire month before! It’s usually cheaper to do that, but we typically have a harder time staying in one place than paying weekly rates. However, we won’t exactly be IN San Antonio all that time.
I’ve been frustrated with putting off international travel just because of the logistics of camper life, so just before Christmas, we did something spontaneous and booked a flight to Japan! It seems like all we ever do is travel plan, so our Japan itinerary is still wide open. However, we’ll be there for a week, flying into and out of Tokyo, and looking to take trains to other places like Osaka, Kyoto, snow monkeys, etc. Please send any tips or suggestions my way. Thanks to my friends who have already offered great tips!
Then the non-camper living continues even after Japan for me. Towards the end of the month, I’ll be heading to Vegas for a weekend girls trip with some favorite ladies from college. So while month #31 is going to be all about Texas and trip preparations, month #32 is going entirely out of my normal routine. Bring it.
Catch up with the journey:
- Picking Up the Pace of Southwest Adventure: Month 29 of Nomadic Life
- A Nomadic Sweep Through Familiar Lands: Month #28 in NorCal
- Adventures Off the Grid: Month #27 of Camper Life
- A Very Idaho Birthday & Back on the Oregon Trail: Nomad Life Month #26
- RV-Free Road Trip to the Midwest & Back: A Nonstandard Month #25 of Camper Life
- TWO YEARS on the Road?! Camper Life Celebrates a Big Milestone, Takes a Turn.
- Temporary Canadians: Camper Life Goes International in Month #23
- Life as Washingtonians: A Year & 10 Months of Camper Life from the Evergreen State
- Life as Oregonians: Month 21 on the Road
- Redwoods, Rain, and FINALLY in Oregon: 1 Year & 8 Months on the Road
- Making Our Way Up California (yes, again): Month 19 on the Road
- It’s Officially Been a Year & a Half of Camper Life!
- Southern Utah & Northern Arizona: How We Spent Month #17 on the Road
- Greetings from Utah! A Look Back at Month 16 of Camper Life.
- A Month Split Between the West & the Midwest (#15)
- 7 Months in the Pop-Up, Now 7 months in the RV
- Lucky #13: A Recap of Nomadic Life One Year & One Month In
- ONE YEAR LATER: Nomadic Life, California Style
- It’s Been 11 Months on the Road…Will We Make it a Year?
- Double Digits Down: A 10-Month Report on the Ups & Downs of Camper Life
- 9 Months Later…Yup, We’re Still on the Road!
- Camper Life Month #8 in Dragoon-A-Saurus Rex de la Mantequilla
- A Day of Love, Hallmark Cards & Our 7 Month Camper-aversary
- Half a Year on the Road! A Six-Month Camper Life Update
- 5 Months on the Road: Wait No More, Your Full-Time Camper Life Update Is Here
- Month #4 on the Road: Camper Life Update from Colorado & Utah!
- Month #3 on the Road: A Full-Time Camper Life Update!
- Two Months on the Road! A Full-Time Camper Life Update
- One Month on the Road: A Full-Time Camper Life Update
- Final Days in Atlanta…Next Up: Full-Time Camper Life!