Happy Holidays!Our Epic RV Adventure continues, and besides an update from the road, we also want to send holiday greetings your way! This will be our first Christmas on the road, and it feels a bit strange. We're looking forward to celebrating the holiday with our daughter and her husband for the first time since they moved to Phoenix several years ago. We hope you are celebrating with loved ones as well!
Our journey thus far has taken us over 3,000 miles, and I can’t tell you how happy we are to have finally arrived in the Phoenix area! Temperatures for the week are forecasted in the 60’s and 70’s, with nighttime lows hovering around 50. There is some rain in the forecast, which I think is highly unusual for the area at this time of year; but the weather everywhere we’ve been on our trip has been highly unusual, so it’s par for the course. And rain at 60 or 70 is much better than rain at 35 or 40, so we’ll take it!
First, for our map update:
In my last post, I introduced a Creativity Challenge and didn't talk much about our travels, so this post has lots of travel updates and campground photos.
After leaving Louisiana, we camped at Cedar Breaks Park, a national park campground overlooking Lake Georgetown in the Austin, TX area. We traveled there to visit with Steve’s lifelong friend / band-mate and his wife, and I was so happy that the guys had a chance to play a little music together. I took a video to share with you, but it seems I can’t upload it into a blog post (technology, sigh…). If you want to see it, head on over to my Instagram or Facebook (@SusanOHanlonPottery), where I’ll share it as a story and add it to my #Potteronwheels highlight on Instagram.
I wish the weather had been warmer in the Austin area so we could have enjoyed a campfire with more music and laughter, but I do cherish the time we were able to spend together.
I had one opportunity to photograph the sunset over Lake Georgetown at Cedar Breaks in my continuing quest to delve deeper into the art of digital photography. This time, I was able to take photos right from the comfort of our site, which was really beautiful. Here’s what my camera saw that evening:
In this photo, the sun was actually setting to my left. The colors in the opposite direction were subtle, soft tones of peach and pink. After the sun completely set, I turned my camera around and this is what it saw:
It was a rather cloudy and windy day, and although the sunset colors weren't spectacular, my shutter stayed open for about 20 seconds so I captured the movement of the clouds which I thought was cool. Each time I take out my camera is a learning experience, and now that we're settling in the Phoenix area for a while, I hope to have a lot more opportunity to practice.
Despite the creative outlet that my foray into digital photography has been providing, I’ve found myself itching to get my hands in clay. I have yet to complete the computer work I promised myself I would do before getting my hands in mud again, but the universe conspired to help ease my itch anyway.
You may be wondering how a wooded path and an itch to play in clay have anything to do with one another. Do you see how the earth cracks on the path at the bottom of this photo? That’s clay! We ventured out for a great hike on our one warm day at Cedar Breaks to discover that the trail was comprised predominantly of rocks over clay soil. In spots with little rock cover, it felt as if the clay was caressing my soul as I walked the path, and I swear I could feel that itch ease as the my shoes met with molecules of clay underfoot. It’s not quite the same, of course, but it is a temporary respite until I find myself in a place where I can work out in the sunshine, and until my computer work is (mostly, at least) done!
Here are a few more photos from our time at Cedar Breaks:
The weather turned chilly once again, so I had a cooking marathon day inside Irving, where everyone was toasty as I prepped food for the three-day travel marathon that would take us from Cedar Breaks in TX to Lost Dutchman in AZ.
After leaving Cedar Breaks, we traversed Texas, New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona. Texas is mostly flat, and I spent considerable time avoiding my computer work as I gazed out the window in search of trees that were taller than my house. I didn’t find many until we hit western Texas. As my friend Patti (married to a native Texan) says, “Texas grows tall people and short trees.” We saw a few hills and lots of farms, cows, sheep, ranches, small towns, oil fields, wind turbines and vast open spaces.
After our first long day on the road, we took advantage of our Boondocker’s Welcome membership to overnight at a private residence in Midland, TX, where our lovely host greeted us with a bag of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that rivaled my mom’s (don’t tell her I said so, though!). Thank you, Scott, for the quiet place to catch the sunset and rest, and especially for the delicious home-baked treat!
Before we arrived at Scott's we stopped at another Texas state park to give the dogs a long walk. It was quite pretty, and was home to a fabulous swing set. I'm a big fan of swing sets, especially the kind that don't squish your butt. This one had long chains and solid surface seats, and it was at the top of a pretty big high (or small mountain?), so the view was spectacular!
Based on Scott’s suggestion, we took a more scenic route through Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks en route to El Paso. What a spectacular ride! I took several videos to share with you, but only one photo. And I've since learned that I can't include videos in my blog posts, so I'll share the best of them on my social media pages, and if you miss them, as #Potteronwheels highlights on Instagram.
This is the view of one of the canyons from my “mobile office.” I got absolutely no work done as we traversed these canyons, but overall I've been relatively productive while traveling. Steve's been doing most of the driving, so in between navigating and back-seat driving, I exercise my creativity in a different way by designing social media content for my new brand identity. Our daughter Kaity, who just graduated from Tyler School of Art, has been helping me, and I’m so grateful to her for her expertise and her endless patience! If you’re on social media, watch for new content with a polished look over the next few weeks, and tell me what you think. And while you’re there, check out my daughter’s Instagram (@KateOHanlonDesign), too!
I'm inserting this random photo of Bandit, who has taken to jumping up on Steve's seat as soon as he gets out to pump gas. I think he wants to help Dad out with the driving, which could go really well until a squirrel crosses the road.
After our second long day on the road, serendipity once again intervened on our journey and landed us at a beautiful spot just west of El Paso for the evening. We had planned another boondocking stop, but travel times and dark skies being what they are in the Southwest, we didn’t think we would make it in time to avoid potential road hazards. Instead, we stopped at a wonderful local restaurant for Huevos Rancheros and Nachos (soooo good!), and pulled into a Texas State Park just west of El Paso, where they found us a spot to dry camp for the evening. (If you ever find yourselves in El Paso, be sure to stop at Lucy’s Cafe North for a really warm welcome, excellent food, and incredible energy and synergy among the staff! Thank you folks, for making us feel like anything but tourists, and for a wonderful meal that we enjoyed twice!)
Franklin Mountains State Park is a beautiful spot, nestled in the hills overlooking El Paso on one side and the valley on the other. We arrived there in time to walk the dogs and see some old Aztec caves, then venture out by ourselves to watch the sun set over the valley.
Aren’t those colors just stunning? There I go itching to touch my colored clay again so I can create pieces with this same vibrancy. (Focus, Susan!!!!)
As we ventured further West, the cloud cover that seems to have travelled with us for most of our journey broke, and the sun finally blessed us with its light and warmth! We have finally arrived at Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona, just east of Phoenix, and we can’t wait to be outside and explore. The pups are well rested and ready for more long walks, new adventures, and fresh smells!
Our campsite is tucked at the base of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction, AZ, where we are afforded a beautiful view from which to enjoy our morning beverages. We then enjoyed a long hike with the pups, and are settling in for another few days before heading to Phoenix for Christmas. (I’m going to get a shower without flip flops, and what a gift that will be!) Here are a few photos from our hike.
For a few moments today just before sunset, the light reflected off the Superstition Mountain peak before us and created utter magic on the surface of the rock formations.
And here's tonight's sunset. It's incredible, I know, but believe me when I tell you that my iPhone camera - as good as it is - really doesn't do the colors justice.
I know what to look for now, and where to look, so tomorrow I'll be out there armed with my digital SLR, and tonight I'll brush up on my manual to figure out what settings I can try out to capture this magnificence.
We are looking forward to spending the next couple of months exploring this region of the country. I’ll be sharing more scenery photos in my upcoming blog posts (hopefully images captured with increasing success with my digital SLR!), as well as more info on the modifications we’ve made to Irving to support our extended trip, and updates on how they're working out for us now that we've been on the road for a while with them.
I also hope to be able to share news that some of you are participating in my Creativity Challenge. Don't be shy! Let’s make 2024 the year that creativity blooms, and where we all find common ground in supporting one another’s growth!
Until next time, Steve and I wish you a joyous holiday season! We hope that you are able to spend time surrounded by friends and family, that you feel the love of those who you aren’t able to celebrate with, and that you experience peace in your heart as we move into the New Year! See you then, digital camera in hand…
As always, thanks for being part of our journey!
Susan and Steve