(this post is for Saturday Travels, but posted on Sunday morning)
We woke up in our cozy motorhome with the heater on high... why high? Because it was freakin cold out again! There was frost on everything when Steve took the dogs out. Brrrrr
Having solar panels to recharge our batteries is a very nice thing. After pulling off the road at 5pm yesterday, we had the television on to watch the news and weather, and left it on all evening. We had two laptops going and the router with our aircard to share our signal. Various lights on and off here and there, plus the water pump going for 2 showers and dishes. We recharged the cell phone and 2 rounds of camera batteries.
After using that and the tv well into the later night, about 11 pm I think, our four 6 volt golf cart batteries were only down to 78% by this morning ... (one should never let their batteries get below 50%) The sun was burning through a dense layer of fog, and the batteries were almost to 90 by the time we were ready to take off. Of course the alternator charges them as we drive too, but a recent discussion on our SafariFriends list remarked on how much more strain it is in an alternator to make it charge the depleted camping batteries as well as the driving batteries when driving.
I perked up the coffee and then we decided to hit the road by 8am. We got ready to roll *Road Worthy* and started west. As we left town it was sunny, but the further west we went, we were catching up to the fog again!
But once it burned off, this is what we saw--- rolling hills and the starting of some desert landscapes!
We marveled at the changing terrain from flat grasslands into desert and tumbleweeds and sage brush and rocks... there were sections that would suddenly burst into rock formations and desert, and then suddenly we would be back to flat yellow grasslands with cows happily munching their breakfast.
I won't bore you with tons of photos taken through the windshield, but it was all new territory for us. Neither of us has been to this part of the country, so we were tickled at the ever-changing landscapes.
I had no idea they grew cotton in Texas! I know we saw cotton growing in the fields on our way to Florida and back, but I guess I didn't think of Texas as being a cotton belt state. The cotton fields had already been picked clean by machines but ends of rows with tufts of cotton still in the boll. I could take them, and pick out the seeds and spin them if I wanted to on my spinning wheel by attaching a spindle. But I would much rather spin wool! Here is a shot of the leftover cotton at the end of the rows... almost looks like SNOW to us Northerners!
We didn't see much wildlife yet. Steve saw an upside down armadillo that might have been dead or might have just been hanging out on the pavement to get warm? A couple of dead skunks too... but I think around here they call them *pole cats* ... LOL Then, suddenly, across in front of us spurted a brown animal the size of a dog.... at first I thought it was a coyote, but watching it hop through the grass and saw the white sections of the back of the feet it must have been a big jackrabbit.. errrr a jackalope? Ironically, the town we were just passing through was Home of the Jackrabbits sports team at Ralls TX! Too funny!
We fueled up at the Flying J in Lubbock TX.
74 gallons at $3.719 per gallon $275.00
They were painting around the RV islands which have cones blocking them, so we had to pull around the building in a big loop out to the road, and in again into the semi truck islands. We pulled into #20 and Steve went inside to prepay (they swipe your credit card now for a set amount instead of just leaving it on the desk in there) .... and then you come back in after the actual amount is pumped and they adjust it. Soooo Steveio is waiting patiently at the counter to give his card, tells the gal the pump number and she said: "Oh, that pump is out of order, you have to move to another pump" ARGGHHH She said the painters doing the overhang canopy must have moved those cones. So he comes back out, fuming, and we have to loop around the building again, out on the road, and in again..... and this time pull into #18. He has to go BACK in so the card can get pre-swiped. He comes back out, pumps, goes back in to get the slip and have it tabulated. Guess what? THE PRICE WENT UP during the time we were messing around with the pumping and moving and moving again!!!!!!! We complained to the clerk (she was nice) but she couldn't do anything about it. Plus she also forgot to swipe the RV Value card for our 1 cent a gallon discount. We complained more, and she went and asked the manager to adjust the price. Nope, Nada, No Go. Needless to say, I fired off an email to the corporate office, noting the manager's name, store number and time of purchase. Had it not been for their painting and misplaced cones, we would have gotten our fuel 4 cents cheaper per gallon! I know it's not a big deal, but it was the principle of the thing.
We drove on to Hobbs, NM without incident and pulled into the Walmart for an overnight. The weather was amazingly warm. It was 77 degrees and sunny!
WE FINALLY FOUND SOME SUN!!!!!!!!
A Bounder pulled in near us and proceeded to fire up their generator, which was facing us. At first I was thinking perhaps just long enough to cook dinner in the microwave? But no. It ran all evening, and all night. Oh well, we shut the windows on that side and ignored them. It was a free place to overnight, so sometimes ya gotta just deal with it.
I had a question in the comments sections of yesterday's blog:
How do you like the Microsoft Streets and Trips software? Hope you feel better soon. I really enjoy reading your posts as you make your way down the road.
Well, ours is an old version, 2006. It came with the GPS dongle that plugs into a USB port. It also came with an extension cord with a suction cup so you could stick it to a window, but a wire must be broke inside the cord now. Probably from getting caught in the slides on the drawer of the built in computer desk on the passenger side. So that was the cord I replaced yesterday at Walmart. I got a retractable USB extension cord for $15 and it is nice to just pull it out to work and then ZING back into the little circle thing to stow. No messy cords hanging around. Here is the GPS dongle on the left and the full screen on the laptop on the right.
Ok.. on to the Streets and Trips program. I reallym really like it! I fiddled with a small portable GPS of a friend's once back in 2005, and had a hard time reading the route numbers, and setting it to find an address by pushing this button umpteen times for a letter of the alphabet, then that button umpteen times etc. I wasn't going to blow $400-500 at that time to buy one. But then Steve's dad told us about Streets and Trips he uses for his business travels. So we bought one at a Walmart on our way to Florida. Turns out that it needs a DVD drive, not a CD drive to be installed into the laptop. And my old 2002 Dell at that time only had a CD drive.
I tried to return it to the next Walmart we stopped at, but because it had been opened, it was considered software and not returnable. I said it was HARDWARE (the GPS part) and the disk was something that came along with it, like a digital camera. But no go.. we were stuck with an $89 program that I couldn't even load up. ARGGHHH So once we got to Florida, I got to thinking. What about changing the CD drive on the Dell laptop to a DVD drive? So I ordered one up on Ebay, it came 3 days later to my mom's house. I installed the new drive, then the program... VOILA! It worked! So now that I had it, I had to learn to USE it.
I LOVE having the big screen to work with.
I LOVE having a full keyboard to type in things (even notes of what we saw where, or costs of campgrounds, or favorite site numbers)
I LOVE that I can make a map and save it as my basic "Camping Map" where I have imported a bunch of POI (points of interest) that show me all the campgrounds, all the Walmarts, all the Flying Js, all the Cracker Barrels etc. Then from this base map that I keep saved, I can use as a template to make individual trip maps. Then I don't have to import the POI's each time I made a separate travel map.
I LOVE that I could make a map and save it as "Out West Trip" or "Florida 2009" and keep notes of places we stopped, or prices we paid for fuel, or routes we took
I LOVE that I can set it to leave a little blue trail of wherever we went, called a GPS Trail.
I LOVE that I can see how fast we are going...because I can not easily see Steve's odometer. So when I say to him: Steve--- it's 35 mph speed limit here, and Mr ZoomZoom used to LIE to me and say: "I am! I am!" ...... but now I know he is fudging about it and is really going 42 or 43! Ask him about the warning ticket that he got for that very reason in our pre-GPS days!
I LOVE that I can change trips stops or add or take off things en-route with the click of a few keys, instead of leaning over a dash sideways to fiddle with the tiny buttons of a built-in GPS. If we see a sign for something interesting, I can just click some keys and add it to the route.
I LOVE that I can take a little highlighter icon and draw across the map from point A to point B and it tabulates the miles to get there, just to see. Without changing the preplanned route. Especially useful when deciding if we go this way or that way, which is shorter? And a click of a button erases it fast too.
I LOVE that I can click on a button and it will tell me how far to the next stop I have plugged in, or the stop beyond that, or the last stop etc. Then we can plan our segments of every 200 miles to stop and move the transmission gears on the Tracker we tow behind. We can also plan our fuel stops by just clicking to see how far ahead is the next big town to get fuel.
I LOVE how it can search and find gas stations (even by brand), campgrounds, grocery stores, restaurants (even by ethnic styles) museums, hospitals, etc. in a pre-determined radius. Then it even gives you an option if you are hooked up to the internet, to click over to get their webpage!
I LOVE how I can plan trips while still in the house and just carry the laptop out to the rig. Or the car. Or the Tracker. Or bring it back into someone else's house to figure out more things, like I did at Sam and Donna's the other day.
Now.... what I DON'T LOVE are three things.....
I DON'T love how you "must" un-check the box of "Keep Position Centered" before you try to make changes to the route planner or want to scroll the map over to see something just beyond the edge of the screen. Then once you do that, you have to remember to re-check that little box on the Task Pane.
I DON'T love that for some reason the maps do not include the names of lakes, rivers or streams, unless they are HUGE. Even when zooming in close up, most of the lake names do not come up.
I DON'T love that it fights with my MediaImpression program for the camera. If I have both programs open at the same time, it usually ends up in a flickering battle, which gives me the dreaded BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!
I am using Vista and was told by Streets and Trips people that it isn't always compatible with the older versions like mine. Also the lady's voice of the driving guidance feature does not work with Vista. We don't use her anyhow, Steve has it hard enough just taking directions and listening to ME, much less ANOTHER woman! LOL
So I hope that answers your question? That was a long long diatribe, but you gotta understand, that right now we are up at 4am on Sunday and decided to drive to Carlsbad in the dark before the big winds pick up in a few hours. So I needed something to type about, there isn't anything outside to look at or take pictures of! So this is being typed while Steve is zooming down the road towards Carlsbad, and I am toggling between the internet and the Streets and Trips program to keep tabs on our route.
We hate driving at night, but after watching the weather report warnings of gusts up to 50 mph, we decided to head on out when we both woke up at 4am.
Have to get that *work alarm clock* adjusted ... plus we are in a new time zone so it's really only 3am!
321 miles traveled today
1521 total so far