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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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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RV Trip: Week 4: Orlando & Niceville

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We have now officially been on the road for an entire month. Some days the trip seems to be flying by and other days it feels like it is crawling.

Some days I never want it to end and other days I miss taking a shower without shower shoes so bad that I want to go home right now! I also miss my toilet. YES–my toilet. My husband really isn’t into cleaning out a sewer tank and I don’t blame him so except for during the dark of night we use the facilities at the campsite.  In some places we have had both sewer and water, but even then we tend to use the restrooms for um…solids…and for showers (our shower stall is very tiny, you would have to be less than 5 feet to have the shower head hit where it is supposed too).

Okay, enough talk about what I miss and what I love–time to show you some pictures of our week.

We started off our week in Orlando. We stayed at a campground about 45 minutes away from the theme parks we wanted to visit.

The campground was NOT my cup of tea. It was crowded. You really had more of a parking space than a campsite. Hardly any trees and no privacy. The only good I can say about it was the restrooms were clean and new and the staff was friendly.

It really didn’t matter that the campsite wasn’t our style though as we were really hardly ever there. We left by 8 or 9 all three days we were there and got home anywhere between 4:00 p.m. to as late as 10:00 p.m.

We spent two of those days at Universal Studios and the other day at the Magical Kingdom in Disney World. Yep! It was a very expensive week. It was probably what will be our most expensive week of the entire trip.

This week was 100% for our kids. That one in the picture above with her dad talks about Harry Potter ALL. THE. TIME.

Her two siblings like the Harry Potter books/movies too, and so does my husband. I enjoyed watching the movies when they came out, but I don’t watch them over and over like the rest of the family. Still I really LOVED The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There was so much to look at. Oh, and if you go the frozen butter beer is way better than the regular.

We spent the first half of the first day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a good portion of the next day too. The rest of the time my teenagers and full-grown son rode the rides in the other areas while my husband and I read books on our kindles.

You see, this ride above is TOTALLY my kids’ speed whereas the ride below is more my speed.

 

Yep my favorite area of the entire park (after the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) was the Dr. Seuss-themed area. I rode all the rides but one in this area–that one spun you around and around which would have made me lose my breakfast.

It was also in this area where the kids and I discovered what just might be our favorite doughnut of all time–at least size-wise.

On our third and final day in the Orlando area we hit the Magic Kingdom. I have to be honest, I found it much less magical this time than I did on our first trip five years ago.

Even though we made that trip the same time of year as we did this one, the lines this time were horrible. The park was so packed that this introvert felt like she didn’t get her preferred 5 foot buffer between herself and crowds all day long.

However, the light show followed by the fireworks at the end of the day made up for the crowds. I told my family on the ride home I so wish they had a reduced ticket that could get you in just for the last hour of the day when they do the light show and fireworks.

We pulled out of the Orlando area early Thursday morning and headed towards the campground I had been worried about since we booked it back in August.

You see, the campground was just $16 a night when most we booked for the trip were right around $50.

When we pulled into Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou state park I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. This place is amazing.

The sites are huge and very private and we are lucky enough to have one with a water view. There are trails nearby that I have run on twice already.

The bathrooms are a bit outdated (green fake marble) but they are clean and in good repair.

And the sunrises–Oh, my!

This is by far the nicest campground we have camped at so far with Stone Mountain in Georgia as a close second.

It is also very close to Panera bread where I have been working at all week, as well as any other stores you might need and the traffic is light in the area.

I so want to lengthen our stay here, but we need to move on out of here by midweek so that we reach our relatives and friends in Canada when we told them we would.

Five and a half months seems like so long but when you start mapping it out, nights and days get booked up fast.

Another benefit of staying at Fred Gannon State Park is that we got in free to Henderson beach state park. There was a $4 each way bridge toll, but the beauty of the beach made it worth it.

The sand was so white and soft. The ocean was intense shades of blue and green. The waves rushed in creating foamy white caps.

I could have spent hours soaking it all in despite the fact that we went on a somewhat stormy afternoon and it was raining off and on.

Saturday we left Niceville and went to visit the Pensacola area about an hour away. We pulled out of the campsite at 9:00 a.m. and didn’t get home until 9:00 p.m.

The long day was full of beauty and history. We dropped off our boys to spend the day with a friend of theirs that goes to college in the area. We spent the day with just our daughter and boy was that quiet after weeks of taking all three everywhere.

Our first stop was the Pensacola light house. The museum area was free but their is a $6 admission to climb the lighthouse. I almost stayed on the ground as I am not a big fan of small spaces or heights and the lighthouse climb has both, but I am determined to jump out of my comfort zone on this trip when necessary so I can truly soak up the experience.

I am so proud of myself; I made it to the top with very little anxiety and I was able to go out on the ledge and grab a couple of pictures including this one that gives you an idea of how high up we climbed.

I am writing this about 24 hours later and I am feeling that climb in my calves and, um…backside.

After the lighthouse we took in the Aviation Museum. I was shocked to find out it was free. We also went down the road to see Fort Barrancas.

All three sites are worth seeing.

Our last stop before heading out to dinner and then home was to Gulf Shores State park and on the way through we stopped at Pensacola beach to enjoy the beginning of the sunset.

Once again we were greeted with white sandy beaches and brilliant blue water.

So our week started out full of crowds and excitement and ended with calm and miles and miles of beaches.

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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