instagram: @johnandmandifacebook: johnandmandiRss FeedContact Us

John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
843 days a wanderin'

Sailing Away to Becoming Petrified

May 14, 2015
by John
in: USA

Our first couple of weeks have been quite the roller coaster. It started with a mad dash to the Port of Galveston to get on a Royal Caribbean cruise, an 11.5 hour first day on the road ending in a Walmart parking lot. We designed the van to function popped or not so this was another good test. Excitement was too great for us to slumber, but we were only an hour away from the port and what we had been referring to as 7 days of sleep.

Cruising is not for everyone, a go-to vacation for us over the years. We have visited almost all of the Caribbean islands by ship and might round out the remaining few while we are on the road. The environmental impact of a cruise is debatable, we've waffled over the years, the waistline growth is always an unwelcome side effect. This time around we booked an excursion for Jamaica and winged it at Cozumel and Grand Cayman.

Our days were filled with food, sleep, beverages, and great conversation. By chance, we met a world traveler who has become a wonderful friend. Each day we met up and just squandered the time away chatting and trying out the different activities on board. He even managed to get us to break our long standing tradition of never attending a show - goes against the whole cruising thing, we know - with an ice dancing performance. Glenn will forever be the highlight of this past cruise, a likely visitor while we are off on our adventure...we can't wait.

My monkey crushing the rock wall

My monkey crushing the rock wall

Some monkey on monkey action

Some monkey on monkey action

Dork alert, dork alert! Mandi the monkey insisted this image be included

Dork alert, dork alert! Mandi the monkey insisted this image be included

Stepping off the ship had us sizing up the reality we were facing. Not the trip overall, the task of getting to Mormon Lake to attend Overland Expo West. Having a general idea but no specific route was challenging.  Our plan to chart our course while on board the cruiseliner was thwarted by forgetting the atlas in the van, whoops. We changed our destination from Chaco Canyon to Carlsbad Caverns a few hours in so we ended up driving a wee bit longer than anticipated. Lesson one, pick a destination before setting off on a long drive to prevent an even longer drive, we'll see if this has been learned.

Wandering the caverns the next day was wonderful. My laziness to not dig out our nice camera means we don't have any quality photos to share. It's a place that must be visited to appreciate anyway, aren't they all, so take the time if you get the chance. We've come to realize that we probably aren't desert people, although driving through New Mexico was transfixing. The stint over the icy roads from a hail storm was stressful, we are from Florida so that shit be crazy. We passed three accidents, one rollover, I guess my tactic of slowing way down and following the big rigs wasn't entirely stupid.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM, USA

Might not be our thing, beautiful nonetheless

Mandi located a national conservation area that had some free campsites in the middle of nowhere, we were the only ones there, we're trying to free camp as much as possible. It was our first chance to rearrange and purge a few things so we spent four hours fighting the wind while doing such. It's apparent that this will be an exercise we will be performing many times over the next few months, joy. It was so quiet it was hard to sleep, totally unexpected.

I did forget to fill up with diesel before we ventured out into what appeared to be uninhabited land. Lesson two, always check fuel level and fill station availability before driving 100 miles to nowheresville. Fortunately we found a station that carried diesel on our route back to civilization, crisis adverted. We have a 46 gallon tank but it doesn't report the full amount so we believe we have over ten gallons when the gauge reports empty. What we don't know is whether we can use said ten gallons, something we'll need to sort out before we head south.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM, USA

Not one alien sighting, mind protection system successful

Oh shopping, how different you have become. Running to the local stores during our daily routine has perished, life on the road woes...poor us. We had to plan our route through New Mexico around cities that had the places we wanted to stock up at. Albuquerque then Gallup, the van was stuffed once again. The previous purging freed up space for more junk, at least it was filled by mostly food. We decided we should stay at a campground before Expo, arriving freshly showered might be courteous to those who will be around us. The shower was disappointing so we're not sure it was worth the ten dollars.

Finally reaching Arizona, we immediately detoured to the Petrified Forest National Park. We have a desire to visit every single national park in the US, inflicted from the Ken Burns series documenting their history. The majority of the day was spent snapping photos, walking the trails and just taking it all in. It's starting to sink in that this is our lifestyle and not a vacation, a hard adjustment.

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA

Why are there so many prickly things

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA

Ain't in Florida no mo

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA

That log there be turned to stone

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA

Back off bitch, staredown from the Arizona wildlife

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA

Over the shoulder shot, random peeps photo bombing

We decided that our shower the night before wasn't sufficient, also needing to cut our hair, we spent last night at an Arizona State park. It was really windy but we managed to shave our heads and get a hot shower after fiddling with the finicky faucet. We're excited to meet other travelers over the next few days. We haven't planned on doing much at the Expo but we know how fast that can change. Hopefully we'll get some decent sleep, our bodies are still on East coast time.

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA

She's sexier when she's a little dirty

There have been ups and downs over the last couple of weeks. Sometimes our stress bubbles up and we get a bit overwhelmed. Slowing down is the key, it's how we are planning to travel the Pan-Am. Leaving the comfort and convenience of a sticks and bricks home for life on the road is challenging. Every task takes more time and some planning, an acceptable cost but an immediate difficulty. Not wanting to complain, considering the fortunate nature of our situation, yet a reality needing our attention. Growing past our unknown affluence to gain insight, an unexpected journey.


Say what? (5)
May 14, 2015 at 01:01 PM
Hey travelers. You are in my old stomping ground. Message me if you need tips on free forest camping, hot springs, restaurants or even a place to work on the van. I gotcha covered. Geneva
May 14, 2015 at 01:08 PM
Yes please! We will message you over the next few days, Mandi has a thing for hot springs.
Eric
May 15, 2015 at 10:14 AM
Nice report guys, thanks for sharing!
Aaron
May 15, 2015 at 03:03 PM
If you don't have it already download the app Trucker Path. I've used it many times in my travel to find a nice clean shower, which most good truck stops have. You may also find decent showers at laundromats.
May 18, 2015 at 08:04 PM
Thanks Eric, wished you could have made Expo West.

Great advice Aaron, thanks!
Leave a comment:










Notify me of follow-up comments and new posts by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.

© 2001 - 2017 johnandmandi.com