We had a couple "Howie adventures" even before leaving Austin recently. The fridge stopped working for a couple days, and then seemed to magically function again after John's defrost method of troubleshooting seemed to do the trick. Hmm. More serious was a leak in the valve going into the toilet - nothing like a good carpet soaking to make your week. Luckily we were about to head to the desert, where all moisture disappears in about 7 minutes flat. Also - marrying a handyman is highly recommended! One of the many reasons I love John.
So anyway, everything seems to be working now, and we have commenced our 2009 Summer Tour!
On the way across west Texas, we stopped to run at the South Llano River State Park. We were pleasantly surprised at this park - tons of trails, a pretty little river, a well-maintained park, and a wonderful place for bird watching. I sat in a "bird blind" and watched not one but two painted buntings hopping around. Simply awesome.
That night we stayed at the Balmorhea State Park, another neat gem in the Texas State Park system. One million gallons of water per hour pouring out of a springs supplies a cool pool, then flows down canals toward the town of Balmorhea. A quiet, peaceful transition from Austin humidity to desert aridity.
Howie and I were pleased:
For anyone just joining us, Howie is our "House on Wheels"-ie. We like to name our vehicles - Tug is our Dodge Ram, and George is our Geo tracker waiting in Austin for us to return in September.
The next day we spent some more time on I-10, stopping outside El Paso for a lunch break of sandwiches and chips:
On the way into Deming, NM, we moved to a parallel side road and did a ride-n-tie. It was a mostly quiet road with plenty of room to pull over every couple of miles. We alternated running and driving, covering over 15 miles between us. I was a bit surprised to have some difficulty breathing when I first jumped out and ran too hard. Oh look, we're up around 4000 feet of elevation. And it's almost 90 degrees. A nice start to the summer heat and altitude training.
Yesterday we spent time at Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. It opened to the public about 10 years ago, and it is clear that they are very concerned about minimizing the impact of bringing people through the cave. Airlocks, misters, multiple guides - interesting. The cave itself is very beautiful. They didn't allow photographs, so I bought a postcard instead:
We also drove over to Tombstone. As expected, it's highly touristy, full of western imagery. The Courthouse exhibits were worth studying to understand the history of the area. Apparently there's a lot of silver still there, underwater. A guess if it ever becomes profitable to mine it again, someone will do it. We skipped the "shoot-out" reenactments but did find out that a bunch of actors have played Wyatt Earp over the years.
Now we're set up at a park outside Tucson for the week. I've got to remember to carry my camera wherever we go now - I had gotten out of the habit over the winter!