Horton's Travels

Two People, One Big Adventure, and of course…Horton!

2013 Map

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Despite crossing from south Florida all the way up to northwest Montana, 2013 was our lightest travel year to date. We only put around 5,000 miles on Horton but that was as planned and much appreciated. Initially our plan was to go from Florida, through Texas and then in to Colorado for the summer. However, after the elevation of the Colorado rockies didn’t really work for us we decided to head back into Montana and immediately felt like we were back home. We spent the remainder of the summer and the start of fall bouncing around western Montana before deciding that we weren’t ready to leave and making the big decision to park Horton for six months while we tried out the new experience of a winter in the north. We finished the year with a truck drive back to the southeast to spend time with friends and family for the holidays.

2014 will start on New Years day with us back in the truck making the trek (through a snowstorm) back to Montana. We know that we’ll be in our rental house through the end of April but what comes after that is still up in the air. Will we be itching to roll? Guess we’ll all just have to wait to find out.

2012 Map

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Year two of this one year journey is just a few days away from completion. We’re currently parked in Lake Worth, FL, back at our very first stop on the trip way back on January 3rd, 2011. We’re spending the holidays with family, a great improvement over last year’s holidays in the hospital in San Diego. 2012 started there in San Diego with Christine recovering from her hospital stay prior to us moving on. We moved from there into the desert for 2 months spending time among the masses in Quartzsite as well as in near total solitude around Ajo and Sonoita. Then there was a cross country marathon drive of 1500+ miles from New Mexico up to Rochester, MN for a week long Mayo visit that turned into a month. Then from the top of the country to the bottom in another marathon trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans to see our friends Adam and Sarah get married. We moved from there to our first Red Bay, AL visit then to Chattanooga and Tennessee Valley Cattle Dog Rescue. We escaped the first visit but Shadow snuck into the car somehow after our second stay with Michael and the dogs. 

We moved to North Carolina and stayed with my parents for a couple of months before heading north to visit New England. Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Time in Philly as well as two weeks in D.C. before being run out by Sandy. We ended up in Asheville for almost a month, condo living and finally exploring that city for an extended period like we’ve wanted to do for years. After Thanksgiving with the Walker family we headed slowly south with an end destination of Lake Worth for a long overdue extended stay with Carolyn and Jason.

Year two down and once again another year is spread out in front of us full of unanswered questions. Where will we go, what will we see, what experiences will come along to change us? Will we find a place to settle? Will year three of this one year journey turn into year four? We don’t know but we’re happy to find out. Hope you can come along with us.

Aug 21 – Oct 29, 2012

We spent two months this fall exploring just a little bit of New England. We spent the majority of our time in Maine and New Hampshire, but also had a great week in Connecticut with Matthew and Nancy as well as several days in Vermont with our friends Chris and Michal. We had shorter stays in Pennsylvania, pass throughs of New York state, a couple of nights outside of Philadelphia and finished out with two weeks in Greenbelt, MD just outside of Washington DC. A fantastic trip all around and as usual we were left feeling like we need to go back to see all that we missed!

Aug 28 – Sept 3, 2012

We’re fresh off almost a week of hanging out with our friends Matthew and Nancy at their home in Connecticut. Matthew and Nancy are now former RV travellers having just sold their rig, Gigantor and the Whale, after almost 3 years of travelling around the country. We initially met virtually when we were both travelling across the south, us following a week or two behind on almost the same route. It took almost 6 more months of travelling before we managed to make our paths cross and meet each other for real just outside of Glacier NP in Montana. continue reading…

Aug 21 – 28, 2012

It’s been one week since we got back into the travelling mode. It’s been pretty smooth but it’s definitely taking a little time to find our groove again. We spent most of the week in Pennsylvania, getting here on the second day and deciding to stop when Christine had some work come in. We made our first stop at Cordorus State Park just outside of Hannover, PA. Turned out to be a pretty nice park once we finally managed to get level. They had a good bit of trails, mostly informal, that wandered through the woods and around the lake. At first we were a little put off by their pet policy that restricted pet owners to specific sites and actually quarantined you to only walking your dog within those areas. You couldn’t even walk the campground roads that went past non pet campsites. It was interesting but we found enough routes to keep Shadow happy.

It was also pretty cool to see that they had some American Chestnut trees growing in the park. These were part of a program of crossing the American Chestnuts with Chinese Chestnuts until they are 15 parts American and 1 part Chinese. This blend is supposed to retain all the qualities of an American Chestnut with the blight resistance of a Chinese Chestnut. You can read more here. continue reading…

March 4 – August 19, 2012

Well, its been 5 months since our last post and it was relatively busy for us both. Last time we updated we were in the southwest hanging out in the desert with Jim and Julie. Since then we’ve made an 1500 mile journey from New Mexico to Minnesota, then another 1100+ mile journey from Minnesota to New Orleans. We’ve been to Atlanta a couple of times, visited the dogs at Tennessee Valley Cattle Dog Rescue twice and got in more time than we had hoped for with our family in North Carolina.

After leaving the fantastic grasslands of Cieneguitas National Conservation Area we journeyed back to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus New Mexico. This was our first repeat stay, our first time was in March last year, and we even settled in the same spot as we had the first time. We spent a week and a half there this time around, getting to repeat Camp Furlong Days (it was cold this year) and thankfully not repeating the federal raids on a local gun ring. continue reading…

February 19 – March 4, 2012

Leaving Tucson we only drove 45 miles or so south to get to the Cieneguitas National Conservation Area, just outside of Sonoita, Arizona. Christine had found reference to the spot using FreeCampsites.net and it looked like it had good potential as a free boondocking site. The plan for the next week or two was to find a quiet sunny spot where we could hang out with Jim and Julie some more while getting work done and putting the new solar setup to the test. Mission accomplished!

After scouting out the gravel roads in the Mazda we settled on a spot in the Cieneguita Camp Area, a sweet little section of the grasslands that has some established spots but looks like extremely light use. We oriented Horton broadside to the south while J&J manuevered into a spot nearby. Settled and happy!

The next day I set about crafting some tilt bars for the panels. Now, you can buy some custom bars from AM Solar, the same vendor we got the rest of our equipment from, but they will run you a pretty steep $40 / set. $40 * 4 panels = $160 worth of tilt bars…really? Thanks to a tip from Nina on her WheelingIt blog we knew that we could easily and inexpensively craft our own. Picked up some aluminum stock from Home Depot along with some bolts and wing nuts for a total cost of $40 or so and set to it. As a bonus, I was able to cut the bars and drill the holes using power tools driven off the inverter and then happily watch the solar panels push that power right back into the batteries. Sweet! continue reading…

February 14 – 18, 2012

Time for a little catch up.

After getting our new solar system installed we moved just an hour or two down the road to Oro Valley, a Tucson area suburb. Not surprising for us but maybe for others in the park, it was snowing as we pulled in. Yep, snowing, in southern Arizona. What can I say, if we come, there will be cold. Jim and Julie understand, and even gauged how close we were to arrival by when it started snowing. But hey, it made for an amazing view coming into the valley. Our destination was Catalina State Park which sits just at the base of the Catalina mountains. Now somewhere in the back of our minds we might have known that there were going to be mountains but we weren’t prepared for the grandure of the view rolling in. Flat land with the periodic dip down for a wash as far as we could see right up until the range started reaching for the sky. Add in a little snow to decorate the peaks and we could hardly keep our eyes on the road for the last 15 to 20 miles of the drive in.

Catalina was set to both be a reunion, with our friends Jim and Julie of ImperfectDestiny, as well as a meeting with virtual friends Tricia and Keith of Geeky Explorers and Tommy and Danielle of Our Mobile Love Affair. Jim and Julie were the first fellow travelers we met way back in February of 2011, just a few weeks into the beginning of our journey. Tricia and Keith are fellow former Georgians whose blog we had been following with interest as they worked through the process of pitching all their stuff and moving into a motorhome. Tommy and Danielle were travelling last year on an extended trip when they ran into our then virtual and now real life friends Matthew and Nancy of Gigantor and the Whale (now back on the road!). Similar to how Jim and Julie told us about Matthew and Nancy, Matthew and Nancy told us about Tommy and Danielle and that is how these mobile road connections work it seems. While we were hanging out in the desert south of Ajo we found out that all three couples were going to be in Tucson at the same time and we knew what our next destination had to be. continue reading…

In our travels around the country we’ve always gazed enviously at rigs that have solar panels integrated. Its one of those things we really would have liked to have the past year but had decided early on that it didn’t make a lot of sense financially. The financial equation especially didn’t work out when viewed in the context of a one year horizon, however, as some of you may have noticed, our one year is kind of up. Since we blew through that barrier and aren’t really considering moving out of Horton we decided to re-evaluate the solar decision.

Let me just take a short cut and say, if you are looking to justify solar from a strictly financial standpoint, forget about it. It just doesn’t work, at least not for a long time. Take for example our two weeks in Ajo just before we got our install done. We stayed on BLM land, free camping, only two costs, propane for heat, cooking and refrigeration and diesel for the generator. Out of those two costs, solar could remove only the generator. When we’re boondocking, even while working all day, we run the generator generally once per day to float and potentially for a couple of short sessions to heat something in the microwave or whatever. In our two weeks in Ajo, we burned 10 gallons of diesel, so figure that at $40. Multiply that out by 26 two week periods in the year and you pretty quickly realize that even if we boondocked every single day of the year (which we don’t) it would still take years to pay off the materials side of a solar install. continue reading…

Ajo

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Jan 27 – Feb 12, 2012

After leaving Quartzsite we made a beeline down to some BLM land located just south of Ajo, AZ. Ajo is a quiet little town just north of Organ Pipe National Monument. There is a large mine in town that is no longer operational and its obvious that the town has seen better times. But there is a pretty good grocery in town, a nice little bakery with fresh doughnuts and best of all a small little shop that sells homemade tortillas bagged up and still warm!

Our first week in the area was really quiet. After arriving and spending one night in an easy access spot just off of Darby Wells Road we went out scouting and found a super spot, more private and isolated but still with strong 3G. We settled in and spent our days working, reading and enjoying the sun. We took daily walks wandering out across the desert and spent our nights huddled inside hiding from the illegal activity ;-) continue reading…