Big Bend Part 2

The second full day was a kayak trip on the Rio Grande.  I thought it was going to be in Santa Elena canyon, but it was out by Lajitas in the Big Bend State park.  One bonus was the fact that we would have the opportunity to stop by the ghost town of Terlingua.  Santa Elena canyon was muddy so the group didn’t plan a hike there.  There are a couple of options to kayak Santa Elena, one is to paddle upstream 3 miles and then float back.  The other is to do an overnight camp on the river.  Our 3 hour kayak trip in a two man inflatable kayak was perfect.  We did experience rapids and they were exhilerating!  We started the trip on a somewhat swift moving river and immediately crossed over onto the first bank and stopped on the Mexican side…legally?  We ate lunch on the Texas side.  It was so much fun watching everyone enter the rapids.  Everyone was hoping to make it through without flipping.  We all did!  You definitlely get wet!  The kayak guides had dry bags to throw your stuff in and those things stayed dry.  The weather was beautiful and the water was probably 75 degress.


This was a great opportunity to get to know your new friends.  One of the most facinating things was our female kayak guide and her life off the grid.  She came from a family of park rangers and is married to the park ranger that runs the Big Bend State park.  They live on solar energy in the desert environment.  Solar energy does not provide enough electricity for things like air conditioners.  So how do they stay cool, especially at night when sleeping?  They spray themselves down with water, including the sheets and sleep wet!  WOW!  They bring in their water, which must be a task because the closest town is 100 miles away.   And here is the best part…no complaints.

Afterwards, we headed to the town of Terlingua.  This town was the place I originally thought would be great for my family to say in a hotel…on second thought, no.  I was reminded of my plans to stay in a boutique hotel in Venice beach, CA.  This was exactly the same idea.  Not a good fit for the fam.  Camping is MUCH better!

The town is really unique.  First of all, the big draw is the general store that has all kinds of interesting things.  Some of the group got great T-shirts.  (Day of the Dead themed…it is that time of the year) There were people on the porch playing guitars and hanging out.  I would describe the scene as straight up hippy….old school style with young people.


We visited a local restaurant/bar and had wine margaritas and pork nachos.  Fun day!  Bill and I opted for dinner at the lodge instead of cold spaghetti and we both enjoyed a great trout meal and showers at the lodge.  We tried to watch the media shower that was obstructed by the massive full  moon.

Day 3’s plan was a hike in Boquillas canyon, crossing the border into the Mexican town of Boquillas and a dip in the hot springs.  I rode with some really cool people that were so much fun!  As we hiked into the canyon, we heard singing.  As we made our way to the bottom, we found Jesus…that’s right, Jesus singing.  Now who is going to tell Jesus that he can’t come to America illegally and sing to us 🙂



I chatted with our leader Regina about the issues we have with Mexico and the border, namely the dangers of drugs on the border.  She thought it was safe and spoke with some of the people in Boquillas who said here wasn’t an issue.  Truth?  I don’t know.  I have heard stories from my own neighbors that cautioned not to go off the trail that there are drug mules in the area and it was dangerous.  I can’t imagine, this is a really rough terrain area.  For MILES there is nothing but desert.  I guess if you are really motivated, you would find a way to do whatever it is that you plan to do.  I felt safe, even with very limited ranger support.


Big Bend Part 2

Big Bend Part 1

FINALLY!!!!!  It pays to persevere.  The stars were in alignment and I finally got to go!  I rented a jeep and took off for the 9 hour drive to Big Bend National park.  The alone time was very enjoyable and then turned a little scary as I went through the town of Marathon.  From Marathon it was 90 miles until the park and there is absolutely nothing around and no cell service.  No gas stations, hardly any cars, just vast open spaces.  Desert with mountains.  The desert has it’s own beauty.  There is alone and then there is really being alone.  I haven’t quite felt the sense of that until that particular stretch of drive.  It reminded me of how much we really need each other to survive.


I made it to the park and paid my $25 entry fee at the Panther crossing stop in the park.  I got my map and headed to the group campsite.  The group is Hill Country Outdoors and most people were arriving around the same time to setup camp.  I’m sure everyone had in mind to get their tents setup before dark.   I met up with some ladies who wanted to check out the lodge where there is a store and wifi.  It’s a .6 mile hike, you can drive, but who wants to use any more gas!  Our campsite had a fantastic view of “the Window” which is amazing at sunset and behind my tent was “Casa Grande”.




We had bathrooms with flushable toilets and actually there was an electric outlet in the restroom.  They even had a spigot for water at the campsite, even though I brought my own water.  There were no showers but we had rented two rooms at the lodge for showers during our stay.  It didn’t get too cold either.  It was in the 50s at the lowest.  Dinner was at 6PM, frito pie.  The moon was full, so the dark skies were well lit and hid the many stars that you would normally see.

On day one the plan was to hike the Lost Mine trail.  We carpooled to the trail head and began our 5 mile hike.  We were given lunches to bring which consisted of protein bars, trail mix, crackers and fruit.  Hiking up the trail we were able to meet and find out more about the people in the group which was really enjoyable to find out a little bit about everyone.  I was so happy to find there are people around my age that enjoy this kind of adventure.  Once we climbed for a ways we had an amazing view of the valley.


and then we lunched at the top.  Joe had binoculars and shared them so we could try and spot bears, but we didn’t see any.  It was fun looking.


After heading back to the campsite we decided to rest then hike to the edge of the window to see the sunset.  It is a 2 mile hike.  A small group of us went and it was not a disappointment.   On the hike we saw deer and traversed the pretty trail.  At the end it was challenging to navigate the rocks and the water, lots of climbing.  And then the reward!  There is a pool of water that is low right now and falls off the edge I’m guessing into the abyss because you can’t see where it goes.


The hike back in the dark was fun.  We got lost and we spotted eyes…everyone believes it was a fox, we made it!

Big Bend Part 1

Progress not Perfection

Progress not perfection, this is something I know is true.  This week we moved a house of 17 years partly to storage and partly to an apartment.  On move day I worked all day with 4 movers tossing stuff, sorting stuff and storing stuff.  My fitness tracker went well above the goal and I have it set to the highest level! Going from a house to an apartment is really tough.  Again the benefit is selling the house and not having to worry about two mortgages.  Trying to look at the bright side of apartment living, at least we chose a really nice location.  I took my kayak and plan to kayak towne lake, which should be fabulous!  Now let’s see if my kayak will be stolen off my balcony.  Fortunately we have a very private balcony when I saw it, I said YES I’m bringing my kayak.  My husband said no to hanging my road bike as decor in the living room (storage issues)  I still don’t see why not.  I wouldn’t do that in our own house, but apartment life, why not?  So the compromise was the bedroom?


The biggest issue with the apartment is space.  The pantry was cut in half (I threw out half the house pantry).  Clothing storage is also an issue, I have clothes under my bed and in the linen closets.  There is no space to hang delicates from the wash (so they are in the shower until they dry) and another issue is clutter.  I can’t handle it.  There must be a place for everything and that is the current challenge.  My computer is in the living room because I’m the first up.  It’s set up on an end table with an ottoman as a chair.  Not the best solution, but one that I hope can work.

I’ve noticed some apartments now don’t have dining spaces.  It does have a large bar and with barstools this is now the “dining room”.  We had two dining areas in the house and only used one.


We are living in the apartment for 7-8 months.  I can’t wait to see how this all works out.  Are we definitely going to close Tuesday?  The house was a mess after the move which has taken 6 days to complete the move after the initial movers.  I’m glad we moved a week in advance of closing.  The garage and the storage room were the hardest areas to clear.  At the end I had a mound of garage at the street and was feverishly trying to get people to take furniture which went through “Offer Up” and a neighbor who took some tables and an armoire.  Then the mess.  Lots of vacuuming (the vacuum kept getting clogged) and scrubbing of the pantry shelves and we even had to do some major paint touch up in the laundry room so that it wasn’t a shock looking in there.

Our last meal at the house was tacos!  I’m going to miss the space!  We’ve done this before, only for 3 months! We will survive again.  Sadly my mood has turned pretty down, not sure if it’s the 6 day endurance of the move or a week with no exercise.  Weird.  Time to make it a point to do some cycling and running to see if it makes a difference.  My running route will change, funny how people are creatures of habit.



Progress not Perfection

Roam if you want to

It’s getting closer!  The culmination of selling a home we have lived in for 17 years, moving into an apartment and going on one of my dream adventures all within a couple of weeks.   I will never understand the timing.  Even though I didn’t get to plan the dream adventure entirely my way (to go with family), I’m happy to be going with other adventure enthusiasts.  My big bend trip moved to the second week because of the closing.  I am now in full on prep mode.  This with a move going on too!

The first thing I decided was that I am going to drive alone for 9 hours to Big Bend in a rented jeep Renegade.   Back in my college days it was not that big of a deal to make the trip from south Florida to Tallahassee which was at least 8 hours, so I figure this will be the same.  I found out that we will be in the Chisos basin group camp sites with no electrical hookup.  Rented rooms at the lodge on day two for showers.  This weekend I plan to get a new tent and a propane heater (Mr. Heater).  I searched all over for a battery powered heater fan and they just don’t exist.  I don’t mind camping, I just don’t like to be cold.  I’m so looking forward to the simplicity…hopefully.  No cell service in big bend so no checking my phone.    My previous plan included a hike to the Window, staying in the town of Terlingua, a trip to Balanced Rock and the Santa Elena Canyon.  Plans are now slightly modified.

Day One: travel

Day Two: I have signed up for the Lost Mine Trail hike.  I would have done this with the family but didn’t plan on it because they aren’t hikers.  It’s 5 miles and 1000 feet climb, considered moderate.


Day Three: float the Rio Grande.  I don’t know that I have ever navigated class two rapids.  We will be in inflatable kayaks with a guide.  This ought to be interesting.

float trip

Day Four: Hike to South Rim, 12-14.5 miles, strenous.  Pretty much all day.  My kind of activity.


When I leave, I plan to go visit the town of Terlingua.  I hope the weather will be as beautiful as it looks in these pictures.  I do plan to bring my moutain bike, although I’m not sure how much I will use it.  Somewhere I will fit in the Window which is best viewed around dusk and it is .25 mile from the Chisos basin, I should be able to see it.  And I can’t wait to see the stars at night.  I’m grateful I’m able to do what I love and find people to go with…even if they are complete strangers, we share the same goal.  Adventure awaits!!

Roam if you want to

Mid September dreaming about October

October is going to be such a great month that it is over shadowing September!  With things breaking down at home who wouldn’t dream about better times?  October for me is going to have two big events!  A trip to San Diego for a sales reward and then Big Bend!

San Diego comes first and I am excited to go with my colleague.  We are going to do an Amazing Race style event for prize money.  I’ve always liked that show, just wouldn’t eat anything weird.  So here is my chance for a mock participation.  I’m so excited!

Then comes a dream, Big Bend.  I’m going with Hill Country Outdoors since I couldn’t get one family member or friend to go.  We have a pre-trip meeting October 1, which is the day before I fly out to San Diego.  They have currently scheduled a kayak trip on the Rio Grande, which I want to do for $59.  So far, I see that there are 11 going on the Big Bend trip, maybe there are more.  I’ve stalked their profiles to see that the majority are women.  I’m happy with that. So I’ve probably mentioned my favorite TV show is Naked and Afraid.  I know it’s just for entertainment.  But to think about surviving is really cool.  We live in a modern world with conveniences that we have built.  It’s hard to imagine that we started with nothing and had to survive.  And there could come a day where that happens again.  Not to be crazy or anything, I do enjoy modern conveniences, however, there is a price to pay for it.  And that price can be expensive and stressful.  For a few days, I’m camping and for the record I won’t be naked.  Not exactly my dream plan for visiting Big Bend, but do-able.  I am a little concerned about being cold at night. I’ve discovered there is no electric hook up.  So no electric heater fan…bummer!   And there is a little concern about bears, so I might be a little afraid.  Plenty of people camp at Big Bend, and I guess if it’s my time it is.  I’d rather not get eaten by a bear though.

My plan is to rent an SUV and carry my stuff so I can escape if I need to.  I plan to buy a new tent.  That’s all I’ve got so far.  And I really want to do the kayak trip.  It says class 2 rapids, but I know that water conditions change.  They are renting out two rooms at the lodge for showering.  And they will be providing meals with a rotation of people participating in meal “delivery”.  All stuff I’ve done with girl and boy scouts.  I recently renewed my passport.  Hope it gets here before the trip.  We are right on the Mexico border so it’s good to have it in case there is a reason to go.  So looking forward to view the beauty of the dessert, mountains and the stars at night.

big bend stars at night

Mid September dreaming about October

Meetings Meetings and More Meetings

Building with Toll Brothers has been an interesting experience.  You need to schedule meetings to discuss anything related to the building project.  Those meetings are in person and it takes 45 minutes one way to get there.  The builder further designates some choices that you do directly through Toll Brothers and other choices go through the design center.  The design center is available for other builders as well and it is the place where you choose flooring, cabinets, appliances, and fixtures.  Keeping up with the upgrades between the design center and from the builder directly is rough.  It helps to put together your own spreadsheet.

You have three one hour appointments with the design center.  And with the builder, many more pre-construction meetings.  With the builder so far we have had:

  • Contract meeting
  • Plan meeting
  • Electrical meeting (for designating where plugs and lighting will go)
  • Selections meeting (entry door, garage door, exterior paint choice, roof type as well as glass selections for the door and windows)
  • Audio Visual meeting for designating where the TV/network/sound system outlets go.

We had to put down a deposit of about 5% of the house value then with upgrades after the selections meeting, they asked for more.  I really wish they would have an agenda for building to follow along.  It has been a surprise during the process of when and what the content of the meetings are.   We selected the lot in March and chose to delay building for an April closing.  It supposedly takes 8-10 months for the actual construction which is currently scheduled to commence in October.

One of the most difficult choices was the exterior paint selection.  The house is mediterranean style with a stucco exterior.  As we sat for the majority of the selections meeting appointment with 8×10 swatches of stucco I was completely discouraged.  For some it is impossible to choose colors from a small swatch.   Add to it the fact that this is a choice for outdoor paint and we are looking at it indoors.  Also, the builder didn’t have the roof choice (there are only two composite roof choices) to view with the color scheme. We had driven around looking at others and even took a few pictures, but to match it exactly is impossible unless you have access to look up the actual selections.  After choosing a charcoal roof with some taupe and white accent we finished the meeting and were told to go look at some houses in the neighborhood with the charcoal roof.  From a distance it looks like a roof with just tarp paper.  I quickly realized it was a bad decision. My husband rounded the corner and all of the sudden we found exactly what I had in mind.  It has the dark roof with the variation of medium to light with contrast that I had imagined!  This was another Toll Brothers house so the exact selections can be pulled.


I will say my husband wanted the charcoal roof with the house color grey with white trim. This is part of the negotiation process with your spouse!  I’m happy we could agree with this color scheme.



Meetings Meetings and More Meetings

3 yards

It’s not a football thing.  Even though this weekend is all about football. It’s a mulch thing. Three yards cost $120 delivered.  And it took 20 hours of work to dispurse it.  That is exactly what I did over labor day weekend.  Again, with the prep for putting the house on the market, I tackled the biggest job.  The outside.  The stager said that curb appeals gets people in.  I put this off because of the amount of time I knew it would take.

3 yards.jpg

The stager said our yard looked overgrown.  I’m guessing that a landscaper would charge about $500-$600 to remove some bushes, trim and mulch the yard.  I really wish I would have taken a before picture.   There were several bushes that were just crowded and webworm looks like it did some damage on Indian Hawthorn bushes.  It took 40 minutes per bush to take out mini bottle brush.  Indian Hawthorn were easier to remove.

plumbago gone.jpg


The dump truck came and dumped the mulch.  And I tried to protect the driveway from the stain.  FYI  that makes it harder to shovel the mulch into a wheelbarrel when you have it on something plastic like a tarp.  I started Friday after work with the trimming.  I took out plumbago which is a pretty blue flower that fills in like a weed.  I cut it to the ground, so sadly, it will try to grow back. For now it looks fantastic.  We just need to sell and get out of here.  I am really tired of throwing out stuff and keeping the place looking pristine and it’s not even on the market yet.

Also, Google is awesome!  The stager said I need to remove some rust stains from an iron door mat.  I found that muratic acid removed those stains and it did!  So I don’t have to buy a new mat.

front door.jpg

I’m happy to have saved the money and wonder what I could have done with 20 extra hours.  I did manage to go to a baseball game, play tennis, spend a little time with my daugher and go to a nice lunch with my husband.  I’m thinking at this point camping is a great option.  No upkeep!  Speaking of which I can’t wait for Big Bend!!!!!!!!!  I put in that lock by the way.  The last lock got to the point that you had to shoulder in to get the door open. It was pretty easy to change the door hardware and I’ve been pleased with the results. Just picked that bad boy up at Home Depot and replaced it.

3 yards