In the high desert of Colorado, nestled between mountain ranges, is a lovely little hot spring named Joyful Journey. This is the sort of fairy tale setting everyone dreams about who wants to pull up stakes and hit the open road. The air is fresh and clear, the sunlight sharp, and the views breathtaking.
For our week stay it had lows in the 40’s and highs in the 70’s most of the week. The cool mornings made a hot soak spectacular. The warmth of the day made the evening breeze more enjoyable. This is just an amazing place to decompress after a few months of intense activity.
It would have been absolutely perfect except for one thing, altitude sickness. We were almost eight thousand feet above sea level and I suffered from altitude sickness. I had two symptoms. The first was suddenly feeling like I couldn’t get enough air to sustain life. Yes, it is every bit as pleasant as it sounds. Sometimes it would be after hiking or walking the dog, but sometimes I would just be in a video conference call trying not to look like a fool as I took in big breaths to survive. Obviously, there was plenty of oxygen and air, but the lungs panicked anyway. Stupid lungs.
The second symptom was worse, I would wake up after a few hours of sleep and could not fall back asleep. With work, hiking, and lack of sleep I hit the end of my relaxing week more exhausted than I began. I still enjoyed the experience, but I need to do more cardio if I am going to hang out at altitudes.
We left Colorado on Saturday and headed through New Mexico into Arizona. Torta handled the mountain passes pulling the Honda like a champ. Over thirteen miles per gallon going up and down seven percent grades. Wish we hadn’t been delayed on leaving, because the pine-covered mountains we passed through were amazing. We will definitely return to explore more of Colorado. Northern New Mexico has roads that try to fling all six tons of Torta into the air. We are so grateful we upgraded the suspension as we have. Next week a state park in Arizona and we finally get our solar install!
As we prepared our home for sale, I thought about what I wanted to do with recording our adventures. As part of that process, I decided I did not want to give much in the way of advice. I follow several people and one thing they all seem to do is present their way as the best way. There is no best way when it comes to people. We are all unique and what is right for us could well not be right for you.
That being said, I don’t recommend traveling on a workday. Being on the road does not alter time so if you work from eight to five that is nine hours of your day. Packing up and moving on top of that is exhausting. We have gotten it down to about fifteen minutes tear down or setup, but combined that is a half-hour. Tack on a stop for gas and or food along with driving and you are probably close to a twelve-hour day. At fifty-plus twelve-hour days are undesirable. And whatever you do, never ever travel every day after work for an entire week!
That being said, we traveled every night after work the entire week. We had intended to spend three full days traveling from Ohio to Colorado then relaxing for two weeks as we meandered to our solar install. With the break down we lost that.
Torta was fixed Monday before my lunch which was faster than we had anticipated. It was just two wheel sensors and was under warranty. We had choices to make. We could stay the week in Indianapolis, the sensible decision that wouldn’t exhaust us. However; we would be in Indianapolis. Not that it is a bad city, but it isn’t where we wanted to be. We could drive two nights after work and arrive on Sunday to spend one week resting, but then I would be working or driving every day for a couple of weeks. The third option would be to drive every night after work and all day Saturday so we could enjoy a full rest day before the workweek. Over 1,200 miles in six days with a forty-hour workweek. Sitting here I think it was a solid decision, but I am going to nap soon.
The day stops have bled together in my memory. I doubt I could describe all five of them and I know I couldn’t name them. Until solar is installed I must have a plugin to work. Even if we did have solar we would have needed plugins for air conditioning this trip. The temperature was over 90 every day. One day the Weather Channel said 98 and our thermometer read 102. It was an arduous week, but I think we made the right decision.
After five years of planning and six months of trying out life on the road we took the leap. On August 20th 2019 we sold our house and became official Xscapers.
The process of downsizing and preparing the house for sale while working full time was intense, both emotionally and physically. It took us over three months and involved blood sweat and tears. That isn’t a joke, there was truly buckets of sweat and some blood and tears involved. The hardest for me was my books. Thankfully a friend with a big house accepted all of them so I know they went to a good home. We reduced ourselves down to one five by ten storage unit and what we travel with. It is an odd feeling after years of accumulating stuff to suddenly reset, but overall I think we are happy about it.
With the expense of the house gone, and some cash in the bank, we began scheduling the rest of our setup. First step was to convert our 2013 Honda CRV into a tow vehicle. We purchased the Blue Ox tow system and a DEMCO Stay-N-Play braking system. We finalized our solar setup with Northern Arizona Wind and Sun and spent as much time visiting friends and family as we could while the tow system was installed.
While I don’t love Ohio, I love many people intensely. Saying goodbye, even knowing I will come back to visit frequently was tough. Everyone was so kind letting us crash in their driveways, use their showers, and taking time out of their busy schedules to visit. I grew up in an era when men don’t cry, but it was touch and go to stick to that on several occasions.
We had some warning lights on both vehicles which delayed us a week. We missed the long Labor Day weekend for travel so I took a vacation day on Friday and we began our three day trek from Ohio to Colorado. Torta still had an ABS light on, but we don’t plan on traveling in bad weather and will have it looked at in Tucson where we will get a full inspection and maintenance done. We both felt a bit of pressure to get to Joyful Journey Hot Springs. After all the hard work we deserve a week relaxing on the way to the solar install.
First night we crashed at a Cracker Barrel near Indianapolis. I really like their food and most of them will let you spend the night in their lot. A real win win. Because we were short of Indianapolis we got a very early start the next morning trying to get through ahead of the rush hour traffic. The ABS light had gone off, traffic wasn’t too bad and things were really looking like they were going our way. Yea us!
We stopped for gas when we got past the Indianapolis traffic and as we pulled back onto the highway something really weird happened. The vehicle began accelerating on it’s own, much like the cruise was on, only it wasn’t. I rapidly pressed the lever to turn cruise off and tapped the brakes repeatedly. It wasn’t like it was floored, just a steady increase in speed which I could compensate for with brakes. After about ten to fifteen seconds the ABS light came back on and the vehicle began performing normally again. While it was a bit scary, it didn’t seem dangerous so we continued on our way.
About an hour west the excrement hit the wind generation machine. The transmission dropped into first gear and refused to shift reducing our maximum speed to under 40 mph. With the max speed being 70 mph, and still in the predawn conditions, it was a very tense seven miles to the Terre Haute exit with our emergency flashers on and butt cheeks clenched.
We limped into another Cracker Barrel and began researching. Turns out Mercedes Benz has a thing built in called “limp mode”, designed to allow you to get somewhere safe but to force you into the shop. While limp mode was very effective, I’d have preferred a stronger worded message instead. I’d also have preferred to stay in Ohio an extra week and taken care of the ABS there, but hindsight you know.
Took us many hours to arrange the tow. We began working on it at 9:30 AM and Torta arrived at the dealer in Indianapolis just before they closed at 6:00 PM. We rented ourselves and the pets a lovely AirBNB near the dealer and are awaiting news on Monday while questioning our life choices.
If you followed my previous blog entries on Facebook, I mentioned that life on the road is more lively. It is a more intense way to live and when it is good it is really good, but when your entire home is being towed it is absolutely nerve wracking. I speak to a lot of people who tell me they dream of doing what we are, but it truly is not all relaxing by the fire and seeing gorgeous landscapes. I hope that my next entry is about the sunrise while soaking in hot water, but it could be another harrowing misadventure as well.