Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hueco Tanks State Park

While in El Paso, Texas staying at the Ft Bliss RV Park, I was approached by an individual who wanted to know if I wanted my RV washed and waxed.  I was going to say no, because I figured it would be more than I wanted to pay, but the price was quite reasonable with a 50% discount being offered to active duty and retired military.

The gentleman, we soon came to know as Adrian, came by and started to wash and wax the RV, which was long overdue!  We were also blessed with meeting his son, Julian and Julian's girlfriend Pita along with Pita's brother, Stevan.  

Adrian's business is called Sun Ray and if you are interested in a really good wash and wax for your RV call him at 915-703-8712.  He charges a very reasonable price, does an excellent job, and also washes your tow vehicle which is included in the price.


Sun-Ray Logo.
The day he came to wash the RV, Misty was really feeling down in the dumps and disconnected.  For some reason she felt an urgency to come out of the RV, even though she had not gotten ready for the day (which is very odd for her), and started to talk to Adrian, who we found out is also a minister, and after a quick prayer, Misty was feeling much better.  I did not know of her prayer the night before where she asked God not to leave her and to continue instructing her to do His work so did not know why she seemed so relieved and joyful over this meeting until after Adrian prayed and had left.  She then told me of her prayer and that she knows God sent him to comfort her and to assure her that he will always be with us.  He gave her the urgency to go outside even though she looked a mess (her words) because he was sending her reassurance through Adrian!  That caused her to reflect on all the times that God consistently sends us help, comfort & reassurance after asking as long as we are on the path of fulfilling His will.  It has only been times when we are seeking our own desires that He has remained silent.  During those times, we have turned away from Him instead of Him leaving us.  God is great in the way He guides us, when we just listen or follow.

As we got to know them better, they invited us out to do some sight seeing and one of the first places they recommended was Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site here in El Paso.  So the next Sunday, after church, we packed a lunch and drove out to the park for some rock climbing.

First off, if you are going to go climbing, you need to be in shape, which I am not.  I found out the hard way that sometimes a few extra pounds, thirty in my case, will hinder you when climbing on a mountain.  You will see very well what I'm talking about here in a few.

Just so you know, the park will only let about seventy individuals into the public area of the park, where you do not need a tour guild, at any one time.  There are a lot of indigenous species of animals and plants they do not want hurt along with pictographs and petroglyphs that they do not want damaged or vandalized.  You also have to sit through a brief film on the do's and don'ts  before you can enter the park.
A view of the North Mountain from the Interpretive Center.
Looking off of the North Mountain towards the entrance of the park.
Looking northeast towards the oasis that made Hueco Tanks such an important spot.
Not sure if these are pictographs or just graffiti, but they are all over the mountain.
More drawings on the mountain.
The views are spectacular along with the climb to the top of the North Mountain.  The elevation is right around 4800 feet, so that was not too bad on the breathing.

The Spanish word hueco "whey-coes" means tanks which are found all over the  mountain.  Early settlers would come and collect rain water pooled in the natural basins or tanks so hence the name Hueco Tanks.
Some of the natural basins created in the rock of the mountain.
Another hueco in the rock.
Tia, Pita, Adrian, Chloe, and Misty starting the climb up the North Mountain.
There are also tons of nooks and crannies to craw into and explore.  I guess it would be wise to watch out for snakes while crawling around the rocks, but luckily we did not see any while we were there.
Not sure if this is a nook or crannie, but it was fun to enter.
Looks inviting, doesn't it?
Rocks on top of rocks.
Tia, Pita, Avery, and Courtney in a natural made rock shelter.
Pita, Chloe, and Tia resting out of the sun.
As mentioned before, having a few extra pounds on can be harmful while climbing through some of the cracks in the rocks at Hueco Tanks.  If you ever watched the movie 127 Hours, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Don coming through one of the many cracks in the rocks at Hueco Tanks.
If you want to see exactly what I'm talking about, just watch the video clip below.  Needless to say, there was a couple seconds of panic in my heart.
video
We climbed on up, over, and through the North Mountain until we could climb no more or to be more accurate, until it started to get dark at which time we knew we had to find our way off the mountain while we could still see.  Luckily they have a chain trail off of the east side of the North Mountain that made it easier to climb back down.
Misty squeezing between two rocks on the North Mountain.
Julian way up on top of the North Mountain.
Two thumbs up from Julian.
Stevan and Don crawling through one of the many openings in the mountain.

Ian and Avery climbing the mountain above us.
Ethan on the North Mountain.
Julian and Ian taking a break.
Avery and Ian showing off their mountain climbing muscles.
Ian showing us his fun meter reading.
Don holding up the mountain with just one had.
The rock overhangs would have made a perfect place to camp for the night.  It sort of felt like we were back in time and walking where past explorers and settlers had walked years before us.

The pictures do not do Hueco Tanks justice on its massive overhangs and rocks.  It is one of those places you have to experience in person to really get an idea of its grandeur.
Looks like a great place to spend the night.
Ian, Adrian, and Don on the south side of the North Mountain.
Another hueco or tank with water in it.
More of the mountain.
The group just before the Sun set.
Tia, Courtney, Misty, Stevan, Ian, Ethan, Pita, Chloe, Avery, Julian, and Adrian.
If you are ever in the El Paso, Texas area, you need to make the time to visit Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site.  You will not be disappointed.
A panoramic view off of the North Mountain.
Once again while traveling the world, God has put us on a path where we meet just the right people and get to witness His might by showing us His wonderful creations on this Earth.  For us, just seeing what He has made is proof that there is One greater than us.

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We are so blessed to be able to explore this world, that God has created and that we have come to know his Son, Jesus, as our savior.

God bless you and your family and may He watch over you always.

Thanks!
Don, Misty, and Kids...

Monday, November 24, 2014

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Well once again we have to slide in the slides, pull up the jacks, and unhook so that we can head down the road to a new location and experience and leave Blue Bonnet Ridge RV Park.

We are really going to miss our good friends the Jungels-Norris family who were a Godsend and gave us just what we needed as a family.  I am sure we will be seeing them in the future.

We also met Sean Allen who was a very nice young man who liked to hang out with us and the Jungels-Norris family.  We will be sure to look him up when we get back in the Terrell area.

Along with them we also made friends with Dennis and Gabrielle Haynes who were staying in the lot next to JD and Jenelle Jungels-Norris.  The kids offered to walk their dogs and so of course we met them and became friends.  We also met their son Daniel and daughter Callie.  They have another daughter, Raechel, who we have not met in person yet, but will some day.

We are going to miss them all as we leave Terrell. 
A picture of JD (his back anyway) and Jenelle (pink shirt with cross) Jungels-Norris along with Sean Allen (sitting facing).
Dennis and Gabby Haynes with Sean Allen and the Jungels-Norris family.

The good thing is that this time we are going to traveling with Dennis, Gabrielle, and Callie Haynes.  Dennis is retired from the NY Army National Guard and so we both know some of the same people and have plenty to talk about, especially when it comes to comparing our war stories.

Before we left Terrell the kids had fun carving their Halloween pumpkins that one of the park employee bought them since they helped him with some of his daily chores in the park, such as picking up the trash.
Jenelle, JD, Misty and some of the kids carving the Halloween pumpkins.
Avery wondering why his hand is sticky.  Now you know why I was taking pictures and not carving the pumpkins.

Pumpkins carved while at Blue Bonnet Ridge RV Park in Terrell, TX.
Our neighbors' girl's pumpkin.
Our Neighbors' girl's pumpkin.
Courtney's pumpkin.
Tia's pumpkin.
Avery's pumpkin.
Ethan & Ian's pumpkins.
Unfortunately we left Terrell, TX before the kids got to trick or treat and so they did not get to see their masterpieces on Halloween night.  They did get their candy though once we got to El Paso, TX.

While driving to El Paso, TX, which was our next destination, we stopped for a few days at Van Horn, TX and took in some of the sights there with our friends Gabrielle and Dennis Haynes along with their daughter Callie.

We stayed at the Van Horn KOA which was a nice park, like a KOA should be.  The park hosts were also very friendly and accommodating.

While in the area Dennis, Gabrielle, and Callie took us sight seeing to some of the area's attractions.  One of the first things they did was take us to the local Prada store.  They had a limited selection and I think maybe they were a couple seasons behind.  Also I am not sure of their hours since they were not posted.  For more info you can go to Prada Marfa.
Prada store just outside of Marfa, TX.
Just some of the handbags available.
More handbags to choose from.
Their shoe selection at the Prada store in Marfa, TX.
From the Prada store we made our way to the Marfa Mystery Lights observatory.  To this day there is still no explanation of what the lights are.  Unfortunately it was not dark yet, so we did not see any mystery lights, but that does not mean they were not there.
Panoramic view of the Marfa Mystery Lights observation area.
Information on the Marfa Mystery Lights.
After our Marfa Mystery Lights experience we drove to Guadalupe Mountains National Park which is an excellent example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era.  The views were awesome along with the hike to the top of the mountain which is the highest point in Texas at an elevation of 8749 feet.
Entrance to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in west Texas.
We were intent on making it to the top of the mountain, but some of use had some issues along the way.  You know the type, tightness in the chest, confusion, labored breathing.  Luckily Ethan performed CPR on me and got me going again. (Kidding!)
My chest hurts!
Don't worry Daddy, I know CPR!
Ethan performing CPR on Dad after he collapsed from climbing on the mountain.
I think it is working!
Dad feeling better after receiving CPR from Ethan.  Now only his tummy hurts.
After our little medical emergency we dusted ourselves off and headed on up the mountain.  We never did make it to the top, but had fun trying.  I did find it hard to breath while trekking up the mountain path and pretty much just wrote it off that I need to lose a good thirty or forty pounds, but then Misty complained about the same thing, so maybe I'm not too fat after all. (I know I am, but let me have my moments please.)

While climbing the mountain we paused so the older kids could have their pictures taken with Callie on a boulder that was on the edge of the trail.  The pictures do not do it justice since you do not see the boulder they had to climb on to get the picture.
Callie and Ethan taking a selfie.
Callie and Courtney posing for the camera with two thumbs up.
Callie and Tia with a thumbs up.
Callie and Ian smiling for the camera.
Courtney, Avery, Misty, Ian, Don, Ethan, Chloe, and Tia at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
As I mentioned before the views were really great and we had a fun time climbing up and down the mountain.  As we left the park that evening we took some shots of the mountain and that evening's sunset.
Guadalupe Mountain's El Capitan.
Close up of Guadalupe Mountain's El Capitan.
The sun setting at Guadalupe Mountains.
A panoramic view of the sunset at Guadalupe Mountain's El Capitan..
After we left the park we drove to the McDonald Observatory to take in a star party.  This was the first star party that we had ever attended which was very informative.   Afterwards the observatory had all different types of telescopes set up to view an assortment of astronomical sights such as Ring Nebula which was very beautiful.
McDonald Observatory.
As the star party started we were fortunate to have the International Space Station (ISS) come over our heads while there.  It is as if the observatory had planned it that way and it was part of their show.

I tried to get a picture of it with my iPhone while it passed by the almost full Moon that night.  The ISS is the small spot on top with the Moon at the bottom.  It was one of those situations that you had to experience yourself to fully appreciate.
International Space Station passing above the almost full Moon.

Of course not everything has been peaches and creme in our travels with a couple of mechanical breakdowns.  When we reached Ft Bliss we discovered that we had a leak in our hot water tank, our toilet quit flushing, and the washing machine also developed a leak.


Water leaking out of the RV from the hot water tank.  You can even see it dripping onto the tires.
When I pulled the cover and looked at the hot water tank I did not see any leaks from the connecting water lines but noticed the water was coming from underneath the tank.  This was not comforting since that meant the tank would need pulled and probably replaced. 

The average cost of this water heater is around $800.00 but usually runs into the thousands.  Luckily we have an extended warranty that covered the cost of it and the labor, so, "Yay extended warranty!"

Even though this is only a ten gallon hot water heater, the water mixing valve, which is the silver thing coming out of the back top of the tank, makes it seem that it is a sixteen gallon tank and so Misty and I can take back to back showers with plenty of hot water.

We can also heat the water with both electric and gas, so if I have both running, the water temperature recovers quickly so that the kids can all take showers back to back.  Not that they would want too though.  It seems they like to go to the shower house better than taking a shower in the RV.
Our ten gallon hot water tank.
Leaking hot water tank.
What it looks like when the tank is removed.
To fix all of our broken stuff we called Double T Mobile RV Service who came right out to assist us.  They took our extended warranty information and dealt with them so I did not have to, which was nice.

After ordering the parts they had us fixed in no time and then called a few days afterwards to check up on us and make sure everything was still working fine.

I would recommend them to anyone who needs their RV worked on.
Double T Mobile RV Service.
The new hot water tank in place.
So that is everything that we have done or been through up to this point.  As always we really enjoy our adventures and the people we meet along the way.  Most do not realize what we are talking about until they hit the road themselves.

We are so blessed and thank God everyday for what He allows us to do.  Just like most, we get in the dumps at times and maybe even feel sorry for ourselves, but always realize that God has given us the gift of travel and roaming spirits that want to know whats around that next bend of the road to fulfill His will.  His greatest gift was his son Jesus Christ, and He continually gives us what we need to live and we need to praise Him every minute of the day.

We have thoroughly enjoyed west Texas and still have some other sights to see.  We will be sure to show them to you in our next post, but have covered enough for now.

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!  Be safe on Black Friday if you dare to shop.  As for us, we will not.  It is safer to shop on-line.

Thanks!
Don, Misty, and Kids...