How it all began...

The idea had been circling in my head for years. But the time was right and I could no longer fight the wanderlust that had built up. I bought a 1977 GMC NuWa motor home, threw a solar panel on top and started getting it ready for the open road. My main goal: to wander around North America, catching up with old friends, visiting new places and experiencing things I haven't before. This is my story...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Days 9 - Too Long : Albuquerque

For those of you akin to New Mexico or Albuquerque, please do not read the post title and think ill. I simply did not plan to be in Albuquerque for 12 days. I was awaiting some mail to be sent to a friend here and its delivery was delayed. I accomplished many things during this time and was also able to reconnect with two friends living in the area (thank you Liz and David for entertaining me!). Yet I was feeling the need to be away from the city. Having said that, I did make the best of my time in the Big A and had some interesting experiences. Also, Stella loved the daily trips to an amazing dog park!

Has anyone ever heard of Dahn Yoga? Apparently there are about 100 of these nationwide. This is not your typical yoga practice with downward dog, eagle, crooning hyena, whatever. Oh no, it is something completely different. I walk in with my yoga mat in hand and was immediately directed to a "changing room" disguised as a coat closet. Seriously, she told me to hang up my coat, close the door and change. Change into what one may ask? A uniform. Yep, a uniform. It looked more like Tai Chi. Once in class we spent the first 5 minutes hitting ourselves in the stomach. No joke. Both my arms and my stomach crying out in pain. This was apparently the warm up. All I could think was "warm up for what?! A boxing match?" Although the yoga was very different from any other experience I have had, I did get enjoyment out of it. The movements were fluid and natural, lending to a peaceful feeling. My favorite part was at the end, we sat around in a circle while being served tea and cookies (instructor said they were "power cookies", though it tasted just like a peanut butter cookie...go figure). Then we went around and shared with the other students our experience with the class. It was nice to share stories. When I told the instructor that I was traveling and exploring the states, she asked "have you explored yourself?" Excellent question and I think I am doing that right now.

Anyone out there heard of or tried 'vermiculutre'? It is composting with worms. It is supposed to produce amazing results and it decomposes your leftovers 3 times faster than normal composting. It was first suggested by a friend but I was reluctant to try. Well, I did more research and found that it could really work well in situation. I searched around Albuquerque for someone selling worms (weird, I know) and found the Gardeners' Guild. I dropped by and the person working there, Christianna, took time to answer all of my questions. I was so impressed with her knowledge and her helpfulness. If you live in Albuquerque and have gardening needs, this is the place to go! So off I went with a cup full of worms and the knowledge to start my 'vermiculture' experiment! I'll let you know how it goes!

One of the things I had to do while in town was buy banjo strings. I know, many of you may be saying "wow, I didn't know Brian played the Banjo." Well, I don't...yet! I have my grandfathers old banjo and recently restored it, but was in need of a new set of strings. Well, apparently, Banjo playing is not very popular in Albuquerque. I called 4 or 5 music stores in town and was finally referred to a place called Apple Mountain Music. Once again, the people in this store with extremely helpful and one of the employees, Dane, took the time to show me the proper way to string and tune the banjo. Now I was ready to Jam! That night, Stella was the focus of all my melodies. I'm not sure she was very happy with the jam session that ensued.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 6 - 8 : Bridges! Santa Fe! Albuquerque! Oh My!

We began our day with a visit to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (5th highest in the US) north of Taos, then made our way back south to our final destination for the day: Taos Junction Bridge near Pilar, NM.

We did a little day hike up near the rim in order to get this shot...

But in the morning, we had quite the surprise! Snow! It made for a beautiful drive, though the thought of driving the rig 6 miles down a winding road did not sound like fun to me...

We made our way down to Santa Fe to spend the afternoon, then on to Albuquerque to have dinner with some of Kim's extended family.

The next morning (Day 8 for those still counting) I bade farewell to Kim, my travel partner for the first 8 days of my journey. Thanks Kim for coming along!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 5 : Going to Taos!

We left the sand dunes behind today and started back on the New Mexico!

Highlight of Taos: Eske's Brew Pub for a Growler of beer! Also, camping in a parking lot in town that backed up to a horse pasture where Stella had a brief encounter...she was "unsure" of the situation, to say the least.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Days 3 - 4 : Hot Springs and Sand Dunes!

Only 250 miles into my journey and I have my very first roadside repair. One of the belts had been screaming at us since the trip began, but I thought it simply cold weather. So we took off from Salida, but about 4 miles into the days travel, the noise became unbearable as we climbed one of the mountain passes. I pulled over and upon inspection of the belt discovered chucked missing. Egads! That can't possibly be good. Luckily, the previous owner had given me a spare belt, so I donned the coveralls (think jumpsuit) with the name Bill on it (he is apparently my handier, mechanically-inclined alter ego) and got to work! I was elbow deep under the hood while Kim prepared breakfast...and Stella just sat there hoping a squirrel would happen by. Ok, so the "repair" honestly took about 15 minutes and did not justify the donning of my Bill Jumpsuit, but then again, when else will I be able to wear this thing!?!

On the road again...
Our first stop today - some hot springs for some relaxation and rejuvenation. We traveled to Valley View Hot Springs (Orient Land Trust) near the small town of Villa Grove. Although the 10 miles of dirt road was hell on the rig and my 2 bikes attached to the back (I had no idea how much dust this mobile brick kicked up!), the hot soaking tubs and scenery made all those troubles ease away. We spent the majority of the day soaking in the tubs and the views. I highly recommend checking these hot springs out. Nice people, wonderful views and pristine waters.

Back on the road once again...
We made it to the Great Sand Dunes National Park well after nightfall and camped for the night. The next morning it was off exploring for the three of us! We hiked to the the visitor center, then started the trek up the dunes. Funny thing about dunes: 1)they seem a lot closer than they actually are; and 2)climbing them is much harder than it looks. But this did not dissuade us from our goal: to get up high enough for a spectacular view!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 2: In Salida

Though sleeping in a bit, Kim and I were determined to do something active today. We thought briefly of skiing at Monarch, but decided against the extra cost. Instead we headed to Monarch Pass for some snowshoeing. Well, make that hiking, since we didn't actually use the snowshoes. But it was a wonderful hike up to Old Monarch Pass where we enjoyed a beautiful view and some snacks. Oh and Stella burying her head in the snow searching for critters of any size.

On the way up I had underestimated how much gas the rig would consume on the haul up to 10,000 feet. Thus, we pretty much coasted the entire way back down to Salida so that I could fill up on gas. That was my first lesson: my rig burns gas like I breath oxygen...constantly.

We spent a few hours walking around Salida then headed back to the Leesely's for dinner. Michael had prepared a wonderful Indian Curry for us and I complimented the mean with some Mango and Sticky Rice (delicious!). We then sat around, sipping our beers and having another great conversation. Tomorrow we get back on the road...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 1: The Journey Begins

As usual, my time of departure was delayed by about 4 hours....I am excellent at procrastinating. Maybe that will be added to the resume? On second thought, maybe not. My old roommate and friend, Kim Wortley, decided to join me for the first week of my adventures. It would be a nice transition from my home in Denver to the roads of North America.

After getting everything set in the rig, I picked up Kim at the Stapleton Park-n-Ride and off we went towards the mountains. Our first destination: Salida, Colorado to visit Michael and Barbara Leesley. Although it was only a 3 hour drive, I had not driven the rig in the dark, nor on curvy, mountain roads. Thus, I was in for an immediate adventure. Going up the mountain roads at 35mph (not because of the speed limit, but because of the limit of my speed) I could help but laugh at the LONG line of cars behind me. I was suddenly THAT guy who drove at the speed of tortoise. Yeah, that fast.

Finally arriving in Salida, we were greeted by Micahel and Barbara. We chatted through the evening and snacked on food they prepared for us. It was just nice sitting with good people and having good conversation. It was a great start to the adventure.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Well the time had finally come and it was time to leave Denver and my friends to go out into the world and seek some adventures. My 8 years in Denver was wonderful, but for someone with wanderlust coursing through his veins, it was well overdue to get back to exploring. I leave behind a great core group of friends and many more people that have made a positive impression on my life.

It's just me, my dog Stella and my motor home.

Now what lies ahead for me and my endeavors? I actually have very little planned other than some vague ideas and thoughts. And I have to be feels great. My main goal: to wander around North America, catching up with old friends, visiting new places and experiencing things I haven't before. That's about it. If I find a place that really intrigues me, I may stop for a bit and look for work, trying to experience the area that I have chosen. Or I may just hit the road again...