Sabao Lake

We had been on the road for an hour already on winding back roads when we finally made it to Route 95 North. The highway sign read, Bangor -130 miles. At that point I was wondering whether this trip to Sabao Lake Campground was going to be worth the drive. Once we hit Bangor, we would have another 45 minutes of travel and then we’d finish the trip with 11 miles on a dirt road to get to the campground.

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I know you can’t stand the suspense, so I’ll answer the question now, “Yes! It was worth it.” As a matter of fact, we are calling it a gem! The campground is managed by a friend of ours, Arthur Tenan, and we are grateful for his warm hospitality. The campground is on land owned by a paper company and is leased by the Tenan family. We were told that the water in front of the camper was deep because they used to run the logs through there in the winter. The logs floating through formed a deep channel.

The camp is situated on a beautiful lake. The sites are big and, for the most part, we were the only people there. In our terminology, it is primitive camping, which means no electric hook up, no septic, no laundry, no water and very little cell service. There are several well maintained outhouses. We watched eagles and kingfishers dive for food, listened to bull frogs croak and loons cry for 4 days.

 

There was one log on the lake that was a favorite hang out for turtles. The woods and beaches had a great variety of wild flowers including a wild orchid, Rose Pogonia, some Shin leaf, water lilies and Pippsissewa.

We took nice hikes on nearby ATV trails and found an old bus that we learned had housed loggers who were working nearby back in the 40’s and 50’s. Given the sign on the bus, I am sure there were some more recent inhabitants as well.

Magic Bus

We had a pretty exciting moment when, after watching storm clouds for 30 minutes or so, I ran to Shiny as the wind picked up suddenly. I turned to see a funnel of water rising off of the lake. We made it into Shiny just in time to get the windows closed as the micro burst blew by, which was no small feat. Alas, Shiny did sustain some cosmetic damage and a tree fell down right near us. Luckily we weren’t hurt.

And, if you think that was terrifying, why, the next morning, we were drinking our coffee and the side table gave way and ALL of our fresh coffee spilled on the ground. We are still recovering from that. Luckily, the guardian angels of Shiny were with with us and we proceeded without harm.

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As usual, we meet very nice people on our travels and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Greg, our campsite host, who made us feel at home and looked after us even though he was on crutches. Thank you for your service to our country, Greg! On our last evening at the camp site, our peace and tranquility were broken by the arrival of some party-ready folks. Imagine our surprise and delight when one of them arrived at our campsite with a few pounds of fresh steamers complete with a can of beer in which to cook them! They were delicious and such a selfless gift from a stranger.

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We returned home feeling refreshed and glad for the reminder of life on the road. Now for a few more doctor’s appointments and jury duty and then, if the stars align, we hit the road again.

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For reservations call 207-546-3828. Downeast Wilderness Experiences does have a Facebook page as well. Tell them Shiny sent you!

 

Holding Pattern

We’ve been home here in NH enjoying our new grandson Connor. He’s growing fast but still needs a lot of tender loving care. Brooke, Dan and Sue are doing the bulk of that.

Meanwhile we’ve been thinking about our time on the road and our blog. We decided to hire an artist friend from Denmark, Jesper Deleuran, to create an image for us that we could use for the header. Jesper’s work is phenomenal. He created the logo for my website Slippery-Hill.com.

Here is the finished image for our blog Streamin-In-Shiny

Shiney in space

At first we thought we wanted a long never ending road as the background. Then Sue came up with the space idea. When I first saw this image all I could say was WOW!

We wanted to get back on the road by Labor Day weekend but Sue was picked for jury duty so that is now up in the air.

When we depart we plan on taking a route that traverses the northern states to the West Coast. Work our way to the Southwest again for the winter.

We’ll see!

Home For A Bit

I guess it’s time for us to tell why we had to scoot home so quickly.

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Connor Lawrence Foley appeared in this world a little earlier then everyone expected. But don’t worry everyone is doing real fine and Sue and I are very, very happy grandparents.

Sue flew home from Austin, TX on May 2nd  to go to Brooke’s baby shower and low and behold, Connor was born on May 3rd so she got home just in the nick of time! I drove home from Austin with Shiny via Jackson Center, Ohio.

What’s in Jackson center you ask? Well that’s where they make Airstreams! And they have a huge top notch service center and Shiny had developed a grinding noise in one wheel that sounded very serious.

Shiny was repaired the day after I got there. It turned out to be a brake problem in one wheel. They put new brakes in all 4 wheels. I’m happy with their service department. Not happy with the dealers who blew me off as soon as they heard the word “warranty”.

The Mother Ship was an interesting place. There were plenty of full hookup sites free to anyone there for service. $10 if your just passing through.

In a way it was a depressing place because if you are there it’s because you’re having a problem with your Airstream and so I had to listen to all the problems that people were having with there RV’s. But I did meet some very interesting people here.

I left Jackson Center and drove straight home sleeping in truck stops along the way.

When I got home Sue came running out, ran right past me and gave Shiny a big hug. 🙂

IMG_2652So, we are camped out in Shiny in our yard for a while and plan on making some short trips this summer. We already have the itch to get back on the road for a long trip. Maybe we will head out in September. It’ll depend on which way the wind blows.

South Llano, San Angelo, and Inks Lake State Parks – Texas

We have slowed way down into Shiny-time and the days have turned into weeks. We aren’t sure what day of the week it is. When one of us is in a hurry, the other will remind about shiny-time. It’s a lot about being in the present. Shiny-time is a great gift that Larry and I have received on this trip and we are grateful for that. Even in these ideal conditions, it’s easy to forget about the gift of shiny-time. I hope that, when I return to a home without wheels, I will still listen to her wisdom!

So, we’ve been to three state parks in the past 2 1/2 weeks or so. Each was beautiful in its own way. All had great hikes and at this time of year, all had lovely spring flowers. We have found that you have to reserve way ahead of time if you want a site during the weekends. Please add this neck of the woods to your bucket list!

Now for the photo tour. Enjoy!

The  South Llano River had pecan trees along its banks.

Larry spied these deer in the morning.

So much to see!

Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow. Does anyone know what kind?

San Pedro was windy and hot

Inks Lake was an incredible combination of hills, water, flowers, hikes and ROCKS!! Shiny had a nice shady place to rest.

Shiny

Did I say, ‘rocks’?

Gneiss Rocks

Then there are the lovely Spring flowers. I must have seen 6 different types of mugworts!

The combo

Texas VW Classic

All the Texas State Parks nearby were full for the weekend so we scrambled to find a place to park for 2 days. We were told, after the fact, that it was a miracle we were able to get a reservation at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park but somehow we did. And by doing so landed in the middle of the biggest VW rally in Texas.

And we had fun!

We were packed in like sardines and it was noisy as all get out, but we didn’t care.

The crowd was just a bunch of local Texas boys and girls out having a good time. Everyone was friendly and hospitable. Flannel was an acceptable outer wear. I fit in quite well.

People paraded their VW’s around all day and half the night showing them off.

This was not something we would have chosen to do ahead of time but this slice of Americana turned out to be a very memorable event.

Sue got to walk around in a haze of nostalgia remembering the VW’s of her youth.

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Kickapoo Cavern State Park

No cell service, anemic WiFi, and no trash removal, that’s all the downside (if you can call it that) we can think of for Kickapoo. Sue and I loved this park. It’s a Gem!

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The bathrooms and showers were kept in pristine condition. There are five full hookup sites. There is a guided cave tour on Saturday mornings. The rangers were friendly and helpful. The camp host went out of her way to make sure we were happy.

Group 6

Deer, javelinas, birds galore, few people, and eighteen miles of trails.

 

 

The most amazing thing of all, though, was the bat cave. It is home to over three million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. These bats are considered to be one of the most abundant mammals in North America. That’s something to think about! We drove to the cavern at dusk and on the way we saw clouds of what we thought were flocks of birds. But, no, they were bats!! When we arrived at the cave opening we were greeted by wave after wave of bats leaving the cave for the night. This went on for over an hour. When the bats were finished leaving for their night of hunting, cave swallows flew in for their rest. The smell of the guano was pretty overwhelming.

To borrow a phrase from Arnold Schwarzenegger “we’ll be back“.

Here is a meditation drumming in case you need to calm down after seeing all of those bats! Click here!

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is in the southern part of Texas and is along the border with Mexico. To get there, you have to drive for several hours through uninhabited desert land. When Larry and I drove there, it was about 95 degrees.  Once we entered the park, we still had 40 more miles to go before we would arrive at the campground. As we headed into ever more stark and dry landscape, our moods slowly dropped as we imagined being in Shiny in the full desert sun for four day. We were delightfully surprised when this lovely oasis near the Rio Grande came into sight.

OasisThere was no electricity at the campsite but we were able to generate quite a bit with our solar panels. Alas, on either side of us were two big motor homes and they stayed cool by running their generators constantly. And, one of them had a huge TV screen on the outside of their rig and they watched March Madness basketball games with the volume on. So, needless to say, the feng shui of the site wasn’t the best. We were lucky to be in the shade of a big cottonwood. We had to trust the Fates in the middle of the night when the wind was REALLY BLOWING!

Under the treeThe park was big and raw and beautiful. Some of the rocky landscapes looked like we were on another planet.

We couldn’t help but think about the proposed wall along the border. Many types of animals migrate back and forth on land, air and water. Seemed like the wall would be an ecologic disaster to say the least. We found little walking sticks and wire beaded animals for sale on one of our hikes. Two young men waded across the Rio Grande and up to the items for sale, checked the money box, tidied up the display, and left and waded back across.

On our many hikes, we saw lots of wild life and beautiful spring flowers. It was hard to imagine how such life could exist in such a harsh environment.

We feel so lucky to have these parks in our country and to be able to have so much fun in them!

the wall

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

volcano and treeThe Guadalupe Mountains are among the best examples of a marine fossil reef. Isn’t that amazing? These mountains are in the Chihuahuan Desert in the southwest corner of Texas. This planet is an amazing place!

mountainsThese lands were originally inhabited by the Nde (Mescalero Apache). As settlers headed west, the area became sought after because of the nearby springs. In 1849, the US Army began a campaign against the Nde that lasted 30 years. In the midst of this conflict, Butterfield Stage Coaches began carrying mail through the mountains on the nation’s first transcontinental mail route.

The Park was beautiful and wild and rough and interspersed, for me, with sadness at the thought of the genocide that was committed there.

We took some really great hikes and enjoyed learning about the area.

The night sky was filled with stars. The camping section was a little less than ideal. We were all smashed into one parking lot and there really weren’t enough places for everyone.

parkingWe felt badly for folks arriving in the evening and finding that there wasn’t any room for them. The nearest other campgrounds were about 30 miles away in Carlsbad. We did meet a nice couple who own an Airstream who live in Lubec, Maine.  On the last morning, I watched as a young mom hid Easter eggs for her kids. Home is where you make it!

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Brantley Lake State Park

Our first impression as we drove into Brantley Lake State Park was that it was an ugly place. It turned out to be the Ugly Duckling of our trip. We stayed 5 nights the longest of any campground yet.

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It was ugly at first because of the stark  landscape. The campground sat up on a knoll and could be seen for miles around. The man made Brantley Lake in the middle of this desert seemed so out of place.

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But there was beauty on this ugly knoll. As we sat at our campsite we were entertained by a parade of wildlife. An assortment birds including quail, morning doves, and road runners, rabbits, jack rabbits, and lizards all passed us by.

The night skies clear, dark and just plain amazing, as were the sunsets and the sunrises.

Sunrise

Here’s a shot of the Star Ship Enterprise caught from our campsite.

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Every afternoon around 4:00 the wind would pick up. One day it was especially fierce and so we spent about 45 minutes erecting a wind block out of our camp rug. It worked (kind of). Sue was very proud that her knot tying skills were up to the task!

Wind

We took a side trip to Sitting Bull Falls. It was amazing to see this 500 foot water fall surrounded by an arid desert.

In the state of New Mexico you can buy an annual pass for $210 that will get you into the state parks for one year. Yes that’s right, you can actually camp in New Mexico for one year for $210. Now that is a good deal. While I was in the shower room one day I met a truck driver who buys the pass every year just for the showers!!

Here is a meditative rattling session from Brantley. Please enjoy. Click here

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site sure was one of the high points of the trip for me so far. Phew! This site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and contains more than 21,000 petroglyphs. One of the amazing things is that they are not roped off. You can hike up a trail and find hundreds of them. There is some graffiti going back to the days of the Spanish explorers but that is really minimal. No one can really agree what the petroglyphs were for or who made them. I do know that they moved me greatly and that the energy of the place was quite cleansing and liberating. I like to think the the wise ones of the old days had left messages for us to live life to its fullest and to stay in the game.

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We were able to camp right at the Site and there weren’t many people there. We got to chat with a couple from Illinois. They had just driven to the site from the midwest in four days, having stayed mostly in Wal-Mart parking lots. There were on their way to a convention in Albuquerque for square dance callers. She taught square dance calling for a living. They were fun folks.

The site is in a mostly desert area with few trees. One of the trees was in bud and it was swarmed with bees. You could hear the hum of them from quite a way away. I did make a recording of drumming with the bees, but alas, I lost it, so here is a one minute clip of the bees in the tree. Here’s to life! Click here

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