Hello my friends, MAK here! It’s been a while since we’ve had a month on the road recap. This is a particularly exciting one because it’s our first being in our new rig/home/office and with our cat Luna!
Before we dive into the events of March allow me to bring you up to speed if all of this is new to you! We got a new home on wheels! We’re so excited about it and you can read more about it over on our blog post HERE or you can watch this quick tour video to see what it looks like in more detail now that we’re officially living in it!
Alright lets pick back up in Orlando, FL where we packed up our new home so we could hit the road!
After picking up the new rig in Philly, Owen and I blasted back down south to pick up all of our belongings and sell our dear Lando. We drove Lando to his new home in Tallahassee, FL. The drive gave me time to shed a few tears and say goodbye to Lando. This truck completely renewed our faith with our choice to live our lives out on the road and we’re forever thankful for that! Luckily, he went to an amazing couple with adventurous souls, who have big plans for him. I know he will go on to make them as happy as he made us.
We returned from Tallahassee to a blank slate that was ready for move in! We’d dreamt of this day for so long that it felt like we already knew this space like the back of our hands by the time we started to fill it with our belongings!
In total, it only took us about a day and a half to get moved in and organized. After we were packed we left to pick up our cat Luna from Owen’s parents. It was finally time to leave Florida.
Though we don’t have any pictures of this time, we went to Atlanta to visit some friends and have a few work meetings. As always, we stayed with our friends Silas and Sarah who always make us feel so at home. Our stay there ran about a week longer than planned because our thermostat wasn’t working in the camper and thus would not allow the heater to turn on. Luna’s first few nights in the camper were below freezing, so we made it a priority to wait for the parts to fix it!
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
When we finally got around to leaving Atlanta we were a bit pressed for time to make it to the West Coast because I had to catch a flight for work. With those dates on the horizon we blasted through familiar territory in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas until we got to New Mexico.
Our first stop was Carlsbad Caverns! We’ve long dreamed of seeing Carlsbad but this is the first time we were able to make it happen!
In total we were underground for about 3 hours. We walked slowly, mouths agape, taking in the incredible views that seemed to be around every corner. The hundreds of photos that we took don’t do this place justice. It’s hard to really understand the size and detail from the photos, even for us! Carlsbad made us feel like we were finally out there and back on the road. If you ever find yourself in the area we HIGHLY recommend checking out Carlsbad!
After leaving the park we went to camp which was just a sort distance down the road. We were rewarded by a beautiful sunset and then a mind blowing sunrise the next morning!
In the end we decided to stay in the area for another day to knock out work and give Luna a break from all the driving we had done in the last few days. Here are some of the pictures from our time here.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
After leaving Carlsbad we headed over to White Sands National Monument, another spot that has somehow evaded us over the years!
We spent a few hours walking until we found “virgin dunes” to call our own. It’s an incredible sight to see over 200 square miles of perfectly white sand dunes surrounded by sharp mountains on all sides. Though we didn’t rent sleds, we still managed to find our own fun out there amongst the snow white dunes.
While we were out in the dunes, Owen and I stumbled across the path to the 10 backcountry camp sites that White Sands has to offer. We hatched a plan to come back in the morning and try to get one of those sites. We thought that being able to spend the night in the dunes and see the sun set & rise over the beautiful landscape would be the best way to take it all in. With the plan in place we headed to camp for the night outside of the park.
At camp we met up with a guy that we met outside of Carlsbad named Brian. We posted a video of him driving past us on our Instagram stories and someone mentioned they knew him, so I shot him a message and invited him over for a drink! Less than 10 mins later we were hanging out in our camper and talking travel plans over whiskey. Turns out he too was headed to White Sands.
Fast forward to us looking for a campsite outside of White Sands, we saw his rig from across the lake and decided to join him at his campsite. Luckily, he accepted our unannounced arrival at his secluded site. We enjoyed a collaborative dinner and sunset together!
Early the next morning Owen and I headed to the visitor center to try and score our backcountry camping permits only to find that we were already the third people in line! Turns out we’d blindly stumbled into camping the night of the Spring Equinox Super Moon! The man who was first in line had apparently been planning to camp on this particular night for this specific event for over three months, and had driven over a thousand miles to be there! Lucky us right? We secured our campsite and headed into the park to start packing.
We waited until late in the day to head out to camp to be sure the hottest part of the day had past before we left Luna to hold down the fort for the night. We packed, worked, and prepped Luna for the night!
The hike to our campsite was a short .7 miles. The campsites were spaced apart far enough so we couldn’t see another campsite anywhere in the distance. After arriving at our spot we set up our tent and ate dinner while we waited for the highly anticipated sunset and moon rise!
While we were waiting for our dinner to soak (the joys of backpacking food), Owen decided he was going to try to master the art of the backflip off of our own private sand dune.
He was somewhat successful.
When sunset started to roll in we had all cameras in hand for the show!
As we watched and photographed the sun setting we couldn’t help but feel we’d made the right decision to come out here! If you’re going to go to White Sands, which we recommend that you do, this seemed to be the way to see what White Sands has to offer. The colors changed as day turned to night and every passing minute felt like we were looking over a new landscape!
As the sunset began to fade it quickly became clear that we were in for a cold night. We’d heard that White Sands can get really cold at night, and we thought we came prepared until we went pack. Turns out, Owen and I offloaded some crucial gear (ie. sleeping pads), and our sleeping bags were rated for warmer temps than what the forecast was calling for by 20 degrees. To compensate we brought a blanket to serve as a sleeping pad, packed an extra layer of clothes and called it good!
We spent a few hours waiting for the moon to rise and taking a few night shots. After we were good and freezing we decided to call it a night because heavy cloud coverage moved in over the super moon.
Our suspicions were correct. We definitely didn’t have enough of anything to keep us warm that night! We spent the entire night trying to figure out how to stay warm. We zipped our bags together, took turns warming the other person’s feet even though we had our thickest socks on, and still froze. I think what got us so bad was how cold the sand got when the sun disappeared over the horizon. To this day I think that was the coldest I’ve ever been for that long.
We counted down the hours until sunrise, wanting to make it the whole night out at our remote camp spot. At 5:30am we called it quits and packed up our unbelievably sandy gear and started the walk back towards the truck and Luna. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who were feeling that way because we spotted multiple groups leaving their camp sites at the same time.
By the time we made it back to the parking lot, all we could think about was a hot cup of coffee, so we chucked everything in the truck and headed towards civilization!
Indian Bread Rocks, AZ
As we were leaving White Sands NM Owen and I got a message from our friends Vanessa & Adam that they were in the same area! We told them we were headed to one of our favorite camp spots and that they should join us. Being the cool cats that they are, they were down to meet us for a few nights of camping!
**Side note: We met Vanessa & Adam in Quebec last year at the Go-Van meet up called El Campo!**
The last time we saw Vanessa she was pregnant with their son Cedar who is now a full time member of the adventure team! We had a wonderful evening meeting Cedar, catching up, and enjoying a wonderful sunset! We love spending time with these guys because they’re just so easy going and are both incredible cooks.
Chiricahua National Monument, AZ
The next day we all packed up camp intending to camp somewhere else. When we were on the road Owen and I spotted a sign for a National Monument that we had never heard of before. We called Vanessa & Adam who stopped to run some errands and they decided to forgo the unexpected change of plans. We just couldn’t pass up the opportunity since we were so close. We made plans to catch back up with them in a few days and turned down the country road leading to Chiricahua.
As we drove the 40 mins. to the entrance of the National Monument, Owen and I decided to try to not look up much information about what we were headed towards. We wanted it to be a surprise, and a surprise is exactly what we got!
We drove into the park, continuously exclaiming at the sight of the rock formations in Chiricahua! After a quick stop at the visitor center we found a series of hikes that would take us into the heart of the rock formations.
Our long day of hiking started at Massai Point where we took the trail down into the canyon on the Ed Riggs and Mushroom Rock trails towards Inspiration Point. Inspiration Point, in our opinion, was the best view of the canyon and the surrounding formations in the park!
From Inspiration point we then took the Big Balanced Rock Trail to the Heart of Rocks. This section of trail was a maze of impressive formations, naturally named after their likelihood.
From Heart of Rocks we took the Sarah Demming Trail down into the lowest portion of the canyon before hopping on the Upper Rhyolite Canyon and Hailstone trails to meet back up at Massai Point! In all we covered about 11 miles and saw a huge portion of the park! We were exhausted, but we don’t mess around when we only have one day in a park!
Cochise Stronghold, AZ
After leaving the National Monument we headed towards Cochise Stronghold, a spot that we’ve wanted to check out for sometime now!
Cochise Stronghold is known for it’s climbing. When we got into the area we went to scope out the climbing and found it to be crowded and decided to back track a little to find a quiet spot for the night. We decided not to attempt any climbing because I was coming down with a painful case of heat rash on my feet and had a hard time imagining cramming my feet into climbing shoes.
Instead we just enjoyed the sunset and morning of the following day with a little work before closing the gap with Vanessa & Adam!
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ/Mexico Border
Getting to Organ Pipes NM checks another never heard of National Monument off our imaginary list! We got in later in the day and took up camp north of the park after reuniting with our dear Vanessa & Adam!
We all had a lot of work to do, so we spent our first day in the area moving slow and getting some work done. One of the things that we worked on was this video:
After spending a super chill day at camp we made plans to head into the park the next day to see what there was to see!
We talked with a park ranger and learned that the best way to spend the day was by doing one of the few scenic drives in the park. Being that it was a really hot day we opted out of a hike so we didn’t have to leave Caden (Adam & Vanessa’s dog) and Luna back in our respective vehicles.
After getting our fill seeing the scenes in the park, we headed back to camp for one last night outside of Organ Pipes.
Salton Sea, CA
Alas! After nearly a month on the road we made it to California! Not ready to say good bye to Vanessa & Adam we went our separate ways only to reconvene at the windiest camp spot yet in Salton Sea!
We attempted to align our rigs in a way that would protect us from the wind, we stood around for two hours debating if we should find a more protected spot. Once we got our top up, it undulated in the wind so much that Luna wouldn’t stop looking up at the roof and then back at us. We kept joking that she was saying “Are you all sure you know what you’re doing?!
We decided that we’d all sleep better in a quieter spot, so we headed down the hill and found a less windy place to call home for the night.
**We have since talked to Four Wheel Campers about how strong of winds the camper can handle with the top up. We were surprised to hear that they got word of one of their campers riding out a hurricane with the top up and no problems! **
Sadly, this was our last day with Vanessa & Adam before we parted ways for preexisting obligations. We so enjoyed spending time with them and look forward to the next time we can share a campfire and cute giggles from Cedar!
Anza Borrego State Park, CA
The next day Owen and I turned west towards the coast to try to tackle the one issue we have had with the truck thus far. When we picked up the new build we were warned that the fueling could be a bit temperamental because of the aftermarket fill neck that comes with the flatbed tray, but that we’d learn how to fill it and it wouldn’t be a problem. As we drove back towards Florida we did experience some of those issues. The fuel nozzle had to be just right or the gas would foam up and stop fueling as if the tank was full. We chalked it up to our inexperience and pressed on.
As time went on the fueling showed no signs of improving as every fill turned into a battle between us, the filler neck, and the gas pump. From the time it took us to get to the west coast we had yet to have a single hands free fill up. At the worst it took us 30 mins to get a full tank of gas because of how badly the gas was foaming. To make things “easier” we started doing a bucket brigade of filling up our jerry cans and then using them to fill the tank. Yes, you read that correctly, that was the easier way to fill our tank!
We were in contact with Main Line Overland (who did our build) about the problem and they made it clear that this was VERY out of the ordinary. They recommend that we head from Salton Sea to Agile Off Road in Santee, CA since we were nearby and have them look at it.
After arriving, no questions asked they looked things over. Right there in the parking lot we pulled the whole fuel neck system apart all the way down to the tank. The only suspicious looking part was a piece of one of our jerry cans had fallen into the neck and was blocking the flow! Can you believe that?! With the piece removed we were still perturbed because the fueling was already an issue which is why we were using the cans in the first place. Unfortunately, nothing else stuck out as being an obvious problem. So we reassembled everything and decided to go give it a try at the gas pump. Low and behold, this truck was trying to make us look like fools because for the first time ever we had a hands free fuel up!
MAJOR thank you to Agile for helping us strangers who came wandering off the street with little notice! You all are so wonderful!
After we said our goodbyes to the Agile team we headed for camp in Anza Borrego.
The last time we were in Anza Borrego it was completely different! Last time it was in the fall and everything was brown and dried out from the long, hot summer. This time, the whole place was in bloom, cacti and all!
After getting to camp, I went on a solo mission to explore the hills behind our camp site. What I found were incredible views of the valley below and an impressive collection of cacti that I’ve never seen bloom before! I promised to bring Owen up the next day!
After a full workday, I took Owen up the hill as promised! Anza Borrego has stolen our hearts once again!
Joshua Tree NP, California
After a morning of Saturday work (when you work for yourself, everyday is a work day), we loaded up to head to Joshua Tree National Park and Pioneertown to celebrate the birthday of our dear friend Tierney!
We started off in Pioneertown to go to a show that Tierney heard was going to be great! Only downside, the show was sold out, we had no tickets, and had a party of 6! We made friends with the lady working the door who helped us score tickets! Pumped for the show we all settled in for what we thought was going to be a country show… turns out it was a rock/metal show. Nonetheless we watched the whole show and retired to our rigs parked nearby!
The next day we ventured in the park to explore with our new friends. Turns out Joshua Tree during the weekend is an incredibly busy place to be, but we managed to find some fun away from the crowds!
Wow, that was a long one. Sorry about that! We just packed so much in because it was our first month being back on the road and it felt like all of our pent up energy got used on our shutter buttons! If you made it this far in the post, you are a champion and we thank you for being along for the ride!
See you next month!