Monthly Archives: October 2012

Trip Map – Magic Marker Route

The google map depicting our route via pushpins is a neat online thing, but can be hard to follow since there is no option to draw a line connecting the pins. For schoolwork we have C draw our route on maps to learn map skills, directions, etc. Here is a scan of the route so far. It’s a large-ish image (1.9Mb) so some zooming may be required if you want to see all the little towns. Some folks have asked for some trip details about various places we’ve been, if anything looks interesting feel free to ask – email me at

trip route, in marker

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Day 106 – Green oatmeal and the Wampus lair

You know how sometimes you hear so much about a place that by the time you see it yourself it isn’t as amazing as all the hype?  Carlsbad Cavern is NOT one of those places.  I’ve been in quite a few caves before, and nothing could have prepared me for the enormity and beauty of Carlsbad.  Robbie and I agreed that they should have a chiropractor on staff to straighten out visitors’ crooked necks from walking around with our heads craned back!  Thankfully, they NPS provides a nicely paved path with a contiguous railing so that you can look around while you walk without fear of ending up in a face-plant.

Brocolli formations

That night we stayed at one of the nastiest RV parks we’ve encountered.  No soap in the bathroom, torn shower curtains instead of bathroom doors, frighteningly non-code-compliant electrical, non-functioning WiFi, questionable water, and all for a ridiculously high price.  But Carlsbad Cavern has no campground, and there’s no other option within an hour of the park.

When we have to get up early on a cold morning, we make easy steel-cut oats.  We boil them briefly before bed, then leave them to soak overnight in the truck.  In the morning we heat them and eat.  Our second day there, Robbie started cooking the oats and quickly called me over to look at them.  They had some sort of green scum over the top!  After careful inspection we felt confident it wasn’t mold (far too cold overnight for mold to develop), and it smelled OK.  So we scraped off the green gunk and cooked it REALLY WELL.  It tasted fine, and so far none of us has grown a third ear, so I think we’re OK.  But we didn’t drink their water after that.

After the green oatmeal adventure, we visited Slaughter Canyon Cave which can only be visited with a Ranger.  After suiting up with helmets and gloves, we hiked a steep half-mile to the entrance of the cave.

Ready to go!

C uses a rope to ascend a particularly slippery spot

While not a down-in-the-mud spelunking trip, it was fun to see an undeveloped cave by head-lamp.  The cave had many enormous and impressive formations.  We encountered this guy deep in the cave.  Thankfully he was friendly and didn’t eat us.

In the Wampus lair


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Day 104 – Space, aliens

I realize I’ve been a bit remiss in keeping you all updated on where we’ve been lately.  There’s a lot, so here goes.

We spent a few days around Alamogordo, NM (translation: fat cottonwood (really)).  A highlight for me was our trip to the Very Large Array, an array of 27 radio telescopes located in the middle of nowhere.  It is VERY large.  The dishes can be spread out over miles of track, and you can barely see the ends of the array from the middle.  If you stand under a dish and wait patiently, you can see it move in synchrony with all of the others.

Watching the antenna move

We also visited the White Sands Missile Range which has a small but fascinating museum about rocket development after WWII and Trinity Site, the location of the first atomic bomb detonation.

C comes nose to nose with a V-2 rocket

From there, we visited the New Mexico Space Museum, notable for it’s original section of Daisy, the extreme acceleration/deceleration track used in training Gemini and Apollo astronauts.

On our way out of Alamogordo, we stopped in at the National Solar Observatory.  It could have been really cool had we not visited on a cloudy day.  But we enjoyed seeing the telescopes.  Especially an old one that was built out of a grain bin from Sears.


Since no lesson on space would be complete without a discussion of the possibility of life on other planets, we had to visit the UFO Museum and (wait for it) Research Center in Roswell, NM.

The truth is out there…

Despite their claims that even doubters would be convinced of an alien landing, I remain skeptical.  I did, however, appreciate the earnestness of their efforts and the semi-functioning animatronic aliens.

We were all impressed by the small but lovely Roswell Museum of Art and History.  They re-created Goddard’s rocketry lab in the museum and displayed some of his early attempts (and failures).

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Day 101 – All of your questions answered!

A few people have asked me the same questions, so I thought I’d go ahead and answer them here:

How is road-schooling going?

So far, so good!  We divided duties, so Robbie teaches writing using the “Writing With Ease” curriculum, and I teach math using the “Singapore Math Common Core Standards” curriculum.  C takes care of reading, as she’s a voracious reader.  She has a Nook, and I download books from the King County library whenever we have an internet connection.  We improvise science and social studies since the parks and museums provide all sorts of fabulous learning opportunities and activities.  We have a US history book, and I have her read relevant sections.  Likewise with science.  Generally she does 4-5 math lessons each week, usually in the car.  She does formal writing lessons a few times per week, and she’s writing a fiction story on her own.  She definitely enjoys the individual pace, but sometimes she has a hard time staying focused.  But I can already see how much she’s learning during this trip!

Do you get enough personal time?

Yes and no.  We spend an absolutely ridiculous amount of time together, but it’s really working out great.  We sometimes separate to run errands or take turns hanging with C while one of us goes mountain biking, but we spend the vast majority of our time together.  Right now we’re all sitting around the table working on different things: C is doing an art project, Robbie’s reading, and I’m blogging.  We’re together, but in our own little mental spaces.  As someone who values my personal time, I thought I’d need more time away from my peeps, but so far that isn’t the case.  Aside from the occasional argument (we’ve been married 10 years, after all), we all get along quite well.

Are you sick of travelling yet?

Nope.  We’re seeing and doing so many cool things that it makes the hassle of travelling worth it.  There are definitely days when we have absolutely no interest in breaking down camp and driving, but we always end up having fun.  So we suck it up and make the best of it.

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Day 100! – W is for White Sands

I had my fair share of fun at White Sands National Monument.  White Sands is a really cool place with lots of dunes made out of a white type of sand called gypsum.  Since the dunes are white, they’re very bright, but also cool so it feels good if you walk on them.  The dunes look a lot like snow-covered hills, and you can also sled on them like they were snow-covered hills!  At the gift shop we rented a sled.  We headed out to the larger dunes.  The ground was cool, and so we decided to go sledding barefoot.  When you go up the hills you get a good workout because the sand is soft and your feet sink in a lot.  Once we got to the top we rode the sled one by one.


It was a lot more fun than we expected it to be.  It’s funny…one moment you’re at the top of the hill a little bit nervous.  The next moment you’re in the middle of the hill moving fast and then you’re at the bottom, giddy from your fast ride.

This is me going down the hill:

After we went to White Sands, we drove over to an ice cream shop in Alamogordo.  There was a big board of all of the things you could buy.

Decisions, decisions

I got the Gizmo (“just plain good”) with hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, and caramel sauce.  Just for fun I added Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and kiwi.   The kiwi addition was surprisingly good!

Sledding and ice cream always make good days!

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