RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

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This week I feel like we have finally adjusted to life in an RV. It isn’t taking us half as long to unpack or pack up as it did at first. Everyone seems to pitch in and get it done. Gas station stops are not the heart pounding events they used to be as my husband has a better idea of just how much room he needs to maneuver our 27 foot home around the pumps.

We still have rough moments and I am sure those will continue, but for the most part now we are feeling comfortable as RV owners, drivers and occupants.

Now lets get on to what we got up to this week!

Early Sunday afternoon we pulled into our camping spot at Palmetto State park in Texas. I really liked this state park. There were lots of trails bordering the campsite that I explored the first afternoon on my bike. On one morning that we were there I managed to get out and take a 50 minute run around the park and the area was beautiful!

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

We drove into San Antonio Monday. We explored the Alamo first. I enjoyed the storyteller who was explaining the story behind the Alamo in one of the court yards the best. She really brought the whole history of the Alamo to life.

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

After we were finished exploring the Alamo we headed down to the river walk area.

Just as we were coming out from under a tunnel I snapped this shot. This here is what my husband and I want to see happen the most on this trip. This here is all three children enjoying a conversation together. You see, there are 4 1/2 years between our first two children and then just 2 years between the second and third child. We didn’t want that big initial gap, it just happened that way.

Over the years the age gap has meant that the second and third grew very close but our 1st is often left out. To see all three talking and laughing like they are above–it warms this mom’s heart. Of course, they are not getting along perfectly, last week we witnessed an entirely different type of sibling moment!

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

After lunch on the river walk we headed over to take a guided tour of the river walk area. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who visits the San Antonio river walk area. Our guide pointed out sites that I would have given just a glance to and told us the history behind what we were seeing.

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

Tuesday morning we left on what was a two day journey traveling through the rest of Texas. We did stop Valentine’s night in Fort Stockton and grabbed dinner, groceries and got our laundry caught up before heading out the next morning to our next two night night stop near Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

I wasn’t overly impressed with our RV park near Carlsbad Caverns; the staff was friendly, but besides that the RV park was a downer. The bathroom was clean, but the shower area was so unsuitable that I and two of our children refused to shower in it and just made do with the mini shower in the RV.

We were also shoved in like sardines. Seriously, my neighbor and I could have reached our hands out the window and passed each other items. There was perhaps a foot between our trailers once the slide-outs were out.

But the natural environment around the RV park was AMAZING and more than made up for the tight quarters.

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

I woke up to the most BEAUTIFUL sunrise Thursday morning. I can’t believe I almost missed it. I was working hard in the RV trying to get Friday’s post done when I felt a nudge to go outside for just a moment. I am so glad I listened. The morning sky looked like it was on fire.

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

Thursday afternoon we headed up the mountain to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This was the first of many National Parks we plan to visit on our trip so we bought an annual pass for $80 that will give four members of our family entrance at each park we visit at no extra cost for the rest of our trip. Considering we visited another National Park on Saturday the $80 pass is already almost paid for.

I have to admit I was a little worried about whether I could tour the caverns or not. You see, many years ago my husband took me to visit a cave in Kentucky and I had a minor anxiety attack as we climbed down this dark and narrow staircase straight down to the cavern below. We had 20 people or so in front of us and 20 or so more behind us. Considering I am not a fan of crowds or small spaces I barely was able to mentally talk myself through that experience.

Carlsbad Caverns was nothing like that, though. It was wide and open the entire way, and except for one small portion it was well lit too. My pictures did not show just how beautiful and vast the cavern was. I couldn’t stop oohing and ahhing.

 

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

As we were leaving Carlsbad Caverns my husband noticed a sign for a nine mile scenic gravel road down to the valley below. I am so glad he saw it and we had a truck that could take it because the views along the way were amazing.

I have to say I am in awe of beauty of New Mexico. I cannot believe how a landscape that appears so barren can be at the same time so beautiful.

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

 

Friday we spent traveling to Alamogordo, New Mexico which is just outside White Sands National Park. We arrived late afternoon and spent some time grabbing groceries and such.

Saturday we had a relaxing morning. I actually spent more time cuddling up in bed with the hubby than I have in years! Guys, I didn’t get out of bed until almost 8:00 a.m. For me that is like sleeping until noon.

The kids were still sleeping so the two of us went out to breakfast at Denny’s. After that I did some blog work while he took care of some RV maintenance.

After an early lunch we headed out to White Sands National park. We grabbed two sleds and wax for them at the gift store on the way into the park.

We spent the next few hours enjoying the miles of white sand hills. Hiking them, sledding down them and even rolling down them.

RV Trip: Week 6: San Antonio, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands

Yep! Even I got in on the sledding fun. I had some massive wipe outs too! In fact when I went to shower later that day I had so much sand in my scalp it took me FOREVER to rinse it all out!

Come back next Monday to see what we got up to this week.

Join me on Instagram for daily updates. I am doing my best to post one photo update a day on Facebook too.

First time hearing about our trip? You can catch up on our all our trip updates on the RV trip page.

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Earn PayPal Cash With These 12 Websites & Apps

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You have probably heard that you can earn gift cards through websites and apps, but perhaps you don’t shop at the places the gift cards are offered for. Don’t let that stop you from earning money doing things you already do in your daily life through these types of websites and apps because many programs offer PayPal cash out options so that you can then take your earnings and spend them on whatever you want wherever you want.

Earn PayPal deposits using these websites and apps. Real cash you can spend on what you want.

 

These programs will pay you to use them while you shop for groceries, eat at restaurants, search the web, answer surveys and more. You won’t earn a significant amount at each app or website, but a little earned through this app plus a little earned through that website can add up over time to a nice stash of cash.

Earn PayPal Cash With These 12 Websites & Apps

Apps that will give you cash for grocery shopping & more

Ibotta

You can use the Ibotta app to earn cash back on both in-store and online purchases from everything from milk to movie tickets to daily deal offers.

Go here to sign up for Ibotta

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use Ibotta, some information is outdated but the app still works the same)

MobiSave

My two favorite things about MobiSave is that you can use it wherever you shop and you get paid within a day of entering your purchases regardless of how much you earned. So if you claim just a $0.50 offer you will get your money for it, you don’t have to wait until it equals a high sum to ask for a cash out.

Go here to sign up for MobiSave. Enter my referral code OGHHUVPZ into the promo code area.

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use MobiSave)

BerryCart

If someone in your household is gluten intolerant or if you eat a real foods diet, then you are going to want to sign up for BerryCart–an app that offers cash backs on gluten-free foods as well as organics and real foods.

Go here to sign up for BerryCart

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use BerryCart)

Receipt Hog

No need to claim rebates with Receipt Hog, just scan your receipt into the app to earn either coins or spins which will soon add up to a cash out. This app works at grocery stores, clothing stores, department stores and even some chain fast food restaurants.

Go here to sign up for Receipt Hog

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use Receipt Hog)

Websites that will give you cash for shopping at your favorite stores

TopCashBack

Most cash back sites have a minimum payout threshold–TopCashBack does not. The moment your cash back is in your account you can claim your cash out no matter how small it is. TopCashBack offers cash backs at a variety of different stores online.

Go here to sign up for TopCashBack

Ebates

The selection of stores that you can earn cash backs through at Ebates is amazing and they often offer higher than normal cash back value days.

Go here to sign up for Ebates

Websites that will give you cash for filling out surveys

MintVine

What I love about MintVine is that they tell you exactly how long a survey should take before you get into it and I’ve found that that time is fairly accurate. I also like that their pre-screening process is fairly short and often you get something for your time even if you didn’t make it into the survey. Plus their cash out threshold is just $10 so you don’t have to wait forever to get paid.

Go here to sign up for MintVine

(here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use MintVine)

Paid Viewpoint

No pre-screening, paid for every survey, $15 cash out threshold–those are the things I like about PaidViewpoint.

Go here to sign up for Paid Viewpoint

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use Paid Viewpoint)

Websites that will give you cash to search the web, shop, answer surveys, watch videos & more

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is like an all-inclusive road stop…except for people who want to earn gift cards (or PayPal cash) instead of truck drivers in need of gas and food. There are over 20 ways to earn points. My favorite ones are the ones where you can earn points for things you already do online, like using their toolbar for entering web searches, I earn several points each and every day for just that action.

Go here to sign up for Swagbucks

(Here is a tutorial I wrote for those that are unfamiliar with Swagbucks, it is a bit outdated but most of the information still applies)

PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel offers nine different ways to earn points with the major way being surveys. PayPal deposits begin at just $5 .

Go here to sign up for PrizeRebel

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use PrizeRebel)

InstaGC

I prefer to cash out my InstaGC points for other types of gift cards and not PayPal simply because they charge a 20 point fee for a cash out, but if you don’t cash out often and you are saving up cash for something the InstaGC PayPal payout is a great option to help you reach your goal faster.

Go here to sign up for InstaGC

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use InstaGC)

MyPoints

MyPoints was the first point rewards program I ever sign up for. That was well over 10 years ago now and I am still an active member. My favorite ways to earn points with MyPoints is through their click through emails. When they send you an email it will often say “5 points for going to…” and when you do you earn 5 points. It is quick and simple and those points add up over time.

Go here to sign up for MyPoints

(Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to use MyPoints)

Looking for ways to earn money at home? Check out these posts:

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RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

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I am currently writing this in the RV using my son’s cellphone as a hot spot (we use Ting by the way and LOVE it so reasonable most months we pay right around $45 for service to 3 smartphones).

It has been 2 long-ish days of travel in a row for us, but we are now settled into our new area for a few days.

Our two teenagers are doing some schoolwork while I write, not their favorite trip activity but necessary.

Now lets get to what we got up to this last week.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

At the beginning of the week we were still in the Niceville area of Florida. Monday my husband and I decided to spend one more afternoon strolling the beach.

The kids were a little beached out, but we thought they would perk up once they saw the sand and waves once again. I mean who wouldn’t love miles and miles of white sandy beaches.

Well…one of the three did perk up and the others seemed to be okay too until we reached what became the last beach. You see  it wasn’t going to be the last beach until…the fight.

The fight happened of course at the most upscale beach we visited. It was lined with multi-million dollar homes and when we pulled our 10 year old truck into the parking lot I already felt extremely out of place.

We all descended this grand staircase down to the beach. At the bottom was a lovely tidal pool of warm ocean water. One child playfully splashed another and the splash child returned the action with fistfulls of sand and then the first child splashed the sand-throwing child with buckets of water then nasty words were shared between the two.

And that was our last afternoon on the white sandy beaches of the gulf coast of Florida.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

My husband and I decided perhaps what was needed to help the kids recharge their batteries was a day of nothing. And so on Tuesday we took the kids nowhere.

I did work at Panera in the morning and came home just before a storm hit. It started out as a gentle rain and so I thought I would take a comfy camp chair and a light blanket and sit in the middle of the covered picnic area listening to the rain while  reading a book.

About 15 minutes later the gentle rain became a torrent and the wind blew so hard that a large limb broke off a tree and fell on top of the camper by the picnic shelter. Luckily no one was hurt, but their trailer did sustain a good amount of damage.

I packed up my things and made a run back to the trailer for the rest of the storm.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

Wednesday we said goodbye to Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State park in Florida and headed to Fountainebleau State Park Louisiana which is about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans.

Our travel day routine has included packing a small cooler with water, a bag with a mix of different granola bars and other snacks and then we prepare a finger food lunch and stick it in the fridge in the RV until lunch time.

We don’t generally stop and eat instead we eat as we drive. This travel routine is saving us a lot of time and money.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

We had two full days in the area surrounding Fountainebleau State Park. We spent most of one day in New Orleans.

The first half of that day was spent at The National WWII Museum. This museum is very well done and if you ever have a chance to go make sure you go for the movie upgrade ticket–it is 100% worth it.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

After the war museum we headed down into the French Quarter for lunch. We are not big on shopping so our time here was short, but we did enjoy taking in the architecture of the area as well as all the wonderful colors.

Oh, and I just had to try the Tabasco chocolate that you will find in all the shops in the area. I’ve got to tell you I was surprised by how much I actually liked it!

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

We had originally planned to spend more time in New Orleans and take in dinner as well as lunch but on our first night at the Fountainebleau State Park my husband and I made a discovery we knew the kids would love way more than a second meal out.

We found out the state park had 2 bedroom lake side cabins for rent at about the same price we would spend on a dinner for 5 of us in the city. We immediately booked one and surprised the kids with the news as we were heading into the city the next day.

They were thrilled. After being crammed in an RV for over a month they loved having a bit more room to stretch out and get away from each other. It isn’t that they dislike each other, it is just that we are introverts raising introverts. We all recharge through time alone. Something that is hard to do in a 300 square foot RV.

They were also as thrilled as I was to take a shower in a real shower stall without shower shoes!

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

The highlight of our time in the cabin though was watching the sunset on the shores of the lake. I stayed outside and watched every last moment of it.

The next morning I got up early enough to see the moon go down on one side of the lake while the light of the sun brightened the sky of the other side. I soaked up every minute of it.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

We had the cabin until 11:00 a.m. the next day and we didn’t exit it until exactly 11:00 a.m.

We returned to our RV, unpacked our belongings, had a quick lunch and then took off on a family bike ride.

We ended up going 30 miles total and not once did any of our three kids complain that they were tired. In fact, I think they could have gone farther but my husband and I were done. I haven’t biked that far in months and I was feeling it in–well–the trunk area.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

After the bike ride my husband and I grabbed one more round of what is now a family favorite as well as some supplies for the next day of traveling.

This time we headed out of Louisiana and into Texas. We spent our first night in Texas at Sea Rim State park.

We had an RV spot just a minute’s walk from the ocean. You could hear the waves roaring from the campground. The spot was beautiful, but it came with a HUGE downside.

No showers, pit toilets and millions of mosquitoes. Yes, I am pretty sure millions is an accurate account. They started coming out when the sun went down and when it was fully down there were at least 20 to 30 on each of our RV windows trying to get inside to eat us.

They did mostly disappear in the morning when the sun came up, but none of us got out of there without at least one or more bites.

We only had one night at the park so we took off first thing craving showers and flushing toilets. Thankfully our current spot has both.

RV Trip: Week 5: Niceville, New Orleans & Sea Rim State Park

This is the view at the edge of our current campground. I am looking forward to filling  you in on our adventures in this area next week.

Hopefully those adventures include freshly made tacos because I heard they are excellent here in Texas.

Come back next Monday to see what we got up to this week.

Join me on Instagram for daily updates. I am doing my best to post one photo update a day on Facebook too.

First time hearing about our trip? You can catch up on our all our trip updates on the RV trip page.

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