BareNeckers Blog 2017-09-26T14:32:14+00:00 https://bareneckers.com/feed BareNeckers hello@bareneckers.com https://bareneckers.com/petaluma-and-san-fransisco-treats Petaluma and San Fransisco Treats 2017-09-19T05:00:00+00:00 2017-09-19T18:08:58+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

This summer has been a bit of a whirlwind. We’ve been wandering up the west coast since leaving Mammoth Lakes. And honestly, it was hard to leave. We had gotten used to the cool breeze and the amazing sunsets. There is just a sense of ease and relaxation there. We’ve visited some pretty great spots so in order for us to remember we’ll start with our first stop on the west coast of California.

We made our way over to Petaluma where we stayed at a friend’s farmlet so we could explore the area.

farmlet parking

Of course our first place to check out is usually the local market. Ada and Jax found the ‘jackpot!’

mexicoke jackpot

I was able to get 10 limes for just one dollar, but let's be honest, I was more excited to find MexiCoke. I was so happy to have found this place, but then realized that just about everything was in Spanish and I had no idea what most of the items were, and in the meat case there were chicken feet and a tongue of some animal. I tried to ask questions but she didn’t speak English and I couldn’t recall my freshman year Spanish (sorry, Senior Maxwell) to communicate with her. It’s now on our list to learn Spanish as a family. At least enough to know what some grocery store items are!

It was quite hot that week in Petaluma to not have hookups so we ventured to the coast as often as we could. While we found several cool places to cool off, let me just tell you that if Bodega Bay isn’t on your list of places to visit, it needs to be!

Img 6939 Img 6954 bodega bay amazin bodega bay beauty Img 4451

The hike out around the rim was just incredible. Every few yards the scenery would change into something even more incredible than the last view we stoped to stare at for a good 5 minutes. Although very windy, it’s worth the drive out to spend a few hours exploring, just remember to bring your jacket! You could even pack a hammock to enjoy this really cool spot that’s not far from the parking lot, you’ll find this huge mass of windblown trees that would make the most epic hideout for kids. We were kicking ourselves for not having hammocks and a good book to enjoy here. 

tree hide out

We took a day to drive out to Point Reyes to see the lighthouse. I hadn’t anticipated how busy it would be. Be prepared that when you get out of your car, you will be attacked by tons of lady bugs and they’ll stay on you the until you’re back in your car and you’ll most likely find them in your clothes a few hours later! We parked in the lot and made the mile trek out to the lighthouse. Make sure you take the hiking trail out to the light house instead of walking on the road. It was probably the best part of the whole trip!

hike to point reyes lighthouse

One of our favorite things was just seeing how quickly the fog was moving. On the way down the steps to the lighthouse we had a great view of the coast but by the time we headed back up, we were already engulfed in the thick fog.

walking to point reyes lighthouse point reyes lighthouse point reyes fog

If you make the trip to Point Reyes, make sure you stop by the shipwreck! You’ll see it from the road and while there’s not much to do or look at, at least it makes for a fun picture!

point reyes shipwreck

The main reason we went to Petaluma in the first place was so we would have a short drive to visit San Fransisco! We have been wanting to go here for so long. Jonathan had actually gone to the city several years ago for work, and he went on and on about how great it was so we were eager to see for ourselves.

We got up before the sun in order to drive to the bridge in hopes of watching the sun come up. However, this was the view at sunrise…

san fran sunrise

At least we tried. We drove to another spot at the base of the bridge just to get a closer look at the construction.

san fran bridge cold in san fran

It just boggles my mind all the work and hours and labor that went into making huge bridges like this one! So impressive. We found a great little place to park (FREE) for the day so we bought our transit passes and headed into the city. Thankfully a sweet lady that follows our journey on Facebook offered to help us with an itinerary. We used her suggestions, combined with a few things we had already planned, and we were able to cram as much as we could into one long day! 

We visited Land’s End and the Sutro Baths. If you go to the city, make sure you visit this place! It was so peaceful and beautiful first thing in the morning.

sutro baths exploring sutro baths sutro baths 2 sutro baths 3 sutro baths 4 sutro baths 5

You can read more about what the Sutro Baths were here.

Walked around Gheridelli Square.

ghir square

We walked out to Pier 39 to see the sea lions. They were a noisy bunch. It was really fun to watch them interact with each other.

sea lions

Two little guys kept pushing each other off the platform and yelling at each other. Glad to see our kids aren’t the only ones who argue!

We bought the most amazing sourdough bread at Boudine Bakery.

boudine bakery

It was so fun watching them make the loaves. It was such a work of art. This time we ordered the crab loaf but the kids have already decided that next time we go back we’re ordering the alligator loaf. I’ve already researched what it would take to ship some of it to us wherever we are! Maybe my Christmas gift…to myself.

We walked around and found a store called Paxton Gate. It was so weird and awesome. I used to love visiting shops like this but now it just bothers me because I have no place to put all these cool things I find. I guess it’s good I’m not spending money on frivolous things but sometimes I find some really cute stuff that would love to put somewhere. But then I remember I have literally no room to put them in! See, living tiny does have it’s downsides…it’s no longer fun to shop at fun stores. 

Jonathan was able to get in touch with a friend from High School and met up with him for lunch in the Mission District. We had the most amazing burrito at Taqueria El Farolito.

taqueria el farolito

Woah, that delicious, and it was so fun to meet the famous Richard Huffaker. Thanks for taking time out of your day to meet up with us, Richard!

After that amazing burrito we walked over to Dolores Park and let the kids run around and then we played in the grass under a tree and almost got peed on by someone who didn’t have a leash on their dumb dog. We totally would have taken naps there on the hill if we had a blanket to lay down. We took some time to recharge ourselves and our phones! We thought ahead and brought along our Goal Zero charger since Jonathan’s phone battery hasn’t been holding a charge like it should.

goal zero san fran

I still get giddy every time we are able to charge anything with the energy of the sun (especially our home!).

After chilling out in Dolores Park, we headed down the street to Bi-Rite Creamery. Anytime you see a long line out of an ice-cream shop, you just HAVE to stop!

bi rite icecream

We were so glad we did. I highly suggest you get the strawberry balsamic but seriously, everything we sampled was amazing. The long line was very justified.

By this time, it was mid afternoon and we had hoped to stay to see the Conservatory of Flowers light up at night, but we just were too exhausted. We had been up for so long, walked all over the place, ate so much delicious food that we were all just ready to get home. 

Our trip to San Fransisco was one we will always remember, though. I thought it would be similar to visiting New York but I’m so glad it wasn’t. It was so much better. We loved this city and it’s definitely on our list to visit again!

Thanks so much to Dave and Anne for letting us stay at the farmlet. It was the perfect spot to see that portion of California. 

Next we head up the west coast and meet up with some friends that we haven’t seen in almost 2 years!

Locations in this post

1

Petaluma, CA

Petaluma, CA

2

Bodega Bay, CA

Bodega Bay
CA 94923

3

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Lighthouse Visitor Center
27000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Inverness, CA 94937

4

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, CA

5

Sutro Baths

1004 Point Lobos Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121

6

Pier 39

Beach St & The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133

7

Gheridelli Square

900 North Point St
San Francisco, CA 94109

8

Boudine Bakery

160 Jefferson St
San Francisco, CA 94133

9

Paxton Gate

824 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

10

Taqueria El Farolito

2779 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

11

Dolores Park

Mission Dolores Park
Dolores St & 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

12

Bi-Rite Creamery

3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

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https://bareneckers.com/our-top-east-coast-destinations-for-traveling-families Our Top East Coast Destinations for Traveling Families 2017-09-14T05:00:00+00:00 2017-09-15T01:05:36+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

After being on the road for over two years, we thought it might be fun to look back at our favorite places we've visited. To keep things manageable (for us and you) we decided to break them up into general locations. So we shall begin with the East Coast!

Overview

  1. Lynchburg, VA
  2. Outer Banks, NC
  3. Acadia National Park
  4. Savannah, GA and Yessammee, SC
  5. Dry Tortugas National Park
Lynchburg Bike Bridge

Lynchburg, VA

The first time we stayed in Virgina it was a perfect storm of cramped campsites, sweltering humidity and a single lone Air Conditioner in our 37’ 5th wheel. Bad first impression to say the least!

Thankfully, a stop in Lynchburg, VA redeemed the state for us. Why? Bike trails. Someone had the genius idea to turn a bunch of old railroad lines into smooth, paved trails that connect all around the city and the downtown area.

One day I’m sure we’ll get into mountain biking, but at the time we had one kid who couldn’t ride a two wheeler and the other who was just learning. So these easy to ride trails were perfect.

And they were gorgeous! Winding in and out of forests, over wooden bridges and through cave-like tunnels there was always something new to see. We put a lot of hours on the bikes the two weeks we stayed and loved every minute of it.

Lynchburg Bike Tunnel Lynchburg Natural Bridge1

Just a couple of hours away was the Natural Bridge. Though a little pricey, the 220 ft tall rock formation was truly awe-inspiring. After a history lesson at the base, we were free to hike the short trail to a waterfall at the end. On the way there, we came across a replica of a Monacan Indian Village

This turned out to be almost as cool as the bridge, with volunteers there explaining how they made rope, pottery and clothes back in the day. The kids were fascinated by the whole thing and they learned a ton.

Read the whole story

Maybe you’re more of a beach bum? Keep reading.

Beach

The Outer Banks

This is one of those places that we had heard of, but never really paid attention to. I’m so glad we changed that with this trip. A long strip of islands off the coast of North Carolina, the Outer Banks is home to Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Hatteras Island.

Our home base was right in the middle at Camp Hatteras, and we loved the close access to the beach with beautiful ocean and bay side views on each side. Having a bonfire on the beach and ghost crab hunting was especially fun at night.

Kids at Bodie Island Lighthouse

The islands are home to several light houses and we made it to the Bodie Island one. Ada was too small to climb to the top, but we found one further north (Currituck Beach and Lighthouse Museum) that was safe for younger kids. Making it to the top and looking out over the ocean was amazing.

Kite

Finally, if you’re in the area make sure to go to Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Next to White Sands they were the most magnificent sand dunes we’ve ever seen. The kids had so much fun running sliding and playing in the endless sea of sand. Make sure you go later in the day so you don’t burn your feet. We went at sunset and it was perfect. Bring a kite, too!

Overall, the laid back beach vibe was right up our alley - and with so many activities accessible up and down the islands we had plenty to do. Highly recommended.

Read the whole story

Jordan Pond Hike

Acadia National Park

I had no idea just how beautiful Acadia was until we were there right in the middle of it. Way up on the very northeastern tip of the United States is this amazing national park full of lakes, mountains, trails and trees.

Jordan Pond is still one of our favorite family hikes. The crystal clear water and varied terrains on the trail kept things super interesting for the kids without being overly difficult.

Acadia1

The coasts were all just breathtaking. The rocks and sheer cliff drop-offs were made up of a stone color and texture that I’d never seen before. That combined with the water make me want to go back every time I look at a picture.

Schoodic

Schoodic Point is a bit of a drive, but totally worth it. The crowds don’t flock here like they do the main park and there’s more opportunities to get close to the water and waves with those unique rocks.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Finally, if you can swing it, get up at 4:30 AM and drive to Cadillac Mountain one morning. It’s the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard and the first place so see the sunrise in the morning. You’ll freeze your butt off and cheer with everyone else as the sun slips up over the mountains.

Read the whole story

Sheldon Ruins

Savannah & Yessammee

We weren’t expecting too much when we visited the line between Georgia and South Carolina - except maybe mosquitos and humidity - but we found some delightful spots in the area.

The Sheldon Church Ruins - a parish that got burned and rebuilt multiple times  over the last 300 years - was perfectly surrounded by Spanish Moss trees and creepy graves. Too bad we weren’t there for Halloween!

Spanish Moss Bikes

Down in Savannah we biked the Spanish Moss Trail which is actually right on the water and just simply a gorgeous ride. We also went to Old Fort Jackson which had a great musket demonstration and a perfect view to watch the massive container ships go by in the canal.

Old Fort Jackson Cloudy Hunting island tree reflection

Over near Hilton Head Island, we stumbled on Hunting Island State Park. The beach was covered with the coolest dead and gnarled trees - there was even a lighthouse you could go up in on the property as well.

Riverwalk sunset

And on your way back, make sure you stop at the Riverfront in Beaufort for great food, ice cream and a view of the harbor. Perfect end to the day.

Read the whole story

Dry Tortugas From Top of Fort

Dry Tortugas National Park

Whenever someone asks where our favorite place we’ve visited has been we all answer, “The Dry Tortugas!” and then we get weird looks because no one’s ever heard of it.

So now you have! It’s a National Park on a remote island 70 miles off the coast of Key West, FL and houses the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. Which is crazy, because it’s on an island in the middle of nowhere!

We tent camped for two nights on the island and it was simply magical.

Campsite at Dry Tortugas Dry Tortugas Snorkeling

The snorkeling was out of this world, the water was unbelievably clear and once the ferry tourists cleared out every afternoon you pretty much had the island to yourself.

The fort itself is a massive, hulking structure with incredible brick work and fascinating stories of how it was built and who lived there. And at night, the stars come out and you can walk the moat around it and feel like you’re walking in outer space.

Dry Tortugas

At night millions of hermit crabs emerge and the ground comes alive. You have to watch where you walk!

Why else should you go here? To catch a glimpse of the crocodile washed up on the island during a tropical storm a few years ago? To snorkel around the pylons of an old dock and marvel at the coral reefs and schools of fish? To see the glowing bioluminescent organisms shine blue in the ocean at night?

Ada Dry Tortugas Dry Tortugas Teal Water Dry Tortugas Merry Conchmas

Yeah it’s a pretty unforgettable place.

Read the whole story

Do you have a favorite place to explore on the East Coast? Let us know in the comments!

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https://bareneckers.com/our-super-reliable-internet-setup-for-working-on-the-road Our Super Reliable Internet Setup for Working on the Road 2017-09-04T05:00:00+00:00 2017-09-14T17:01:28+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

We get asked quite a bit about how we make money on the road. We wrote about that here, but there was one important piece of that puzzle that we didn’t address in detail because it required it’s own post. 

That’s right, we’re going to talk about how we get reliable internet for full-time travel (and businessing).

Before we get started, let’s get a few important items out of the way:

  1. Wifi at campgrounds or just about any other public places suck. They’re slow, unreliable and insecure. Having a wifi booster is fine, but as I learned quickly you can’t rely on provided wifi if you want to get any work done. Don’t even think about watching YouTube or Netflix. It’s at this point you realize you have to make your own destiny (see #2)
  2. A cell phone company will most likely be your main source of internet. With the right booster(s) you should be able to connect most of the time - but that data is super expensive and finite. A very different ball game from what you’re probably used to at your house. The big upside is that you’ll be more secure and generally have a much faster and more stable internet setup.

For maximum flexibility and stability, there are several things you’ll want to look for to have solid internet access. Below are the 5 major concepts plus a handy shopping list.

Article Overview

  1. A great data plan from a cellular carrier
  2. A good hotspot device with USB tethering
  3. A cellular signal booster
  4. Antennas and cables that bring the signal into the RV
  5. A router that can grab and boost wifi signals while tethering to your hotspot
  6. Shopping List

A Great Cellular Data Plan

This may be the hardest part of the whole process. Buying gigs is expensive, yo. “But Jonathan,” I hear you say, “all the major carriers have unlimited internet plans now. Why you gotta be all apocalyptic about it?” 

Read the fine print, kids. Nearly all of them slow you to a crawl after about 20GB. And by crawl I mean you’ll barely be able to check your email. Oh and that cutoff goes even lower if you’re using that data tethered - which you will be if you’re trying to work on your computer. The upside - I guess - is that you won’t get charged if you go over your data. The downside is you’ll only get to use it for a couple of days. Generally, Verizon is going to be your best bet coverage-wise especially if you’re out West. But I would recommend having at least two carrier plans just in case. We have AT&T for our iPhones (just switched to the Unlimited Plus plan - 22GB per line) and a Verizon plan (see below). 

If you can snag one of the mythic Grandfathered Verizon Unlimited plans do it. No “network management” - i.e. throttling - and solid as a rock. Lately Verizon has been cracking down and trying to kill these so you’ll want to stay under 200GB/month so you don’t flag their attention.

Much smarter people than me have done a ton of research in to plans that are currently available. You’d be doing good to read more here.

Mobile Hotspots

A Good Hotspot

The device your SIM card goes into is pretty important, too. It should allow a decent amount of wifi connections (if you want to skip the #5 router hardware), have antenna ports and USB tethering capabilities. 

We recently upgraded to a Verizon MiFi 6620L and it’s much better than the others we’ve used. Up to 15 connections allowed, long lasting battery and that oh-so-important USB tethering. More on that in a bit.

We're also about to try the Netgear Unite Explore 815S as an add-on to our new AT&T Unlimited Plus plan while we explore Canada and Mexico. We'll let you know how it goes.

The biggest thing you have to watch out for with these Jetpack devices is that they aren’t meant for full time use. So if you leave them plugged in all the time the batteries can swell and stuff starts getting weird. 

When we renovated our Airstream I put in an internet kill switch that cuts power to the booster, router and hotspot. I flip it off each night so the battery can drain and get a bit of use.

Weboost4Gx

Cell Signal Booster

This is where it starts to get fun.

WeBoost seems to be the go-to for most of us. Their products are really reliable and they have a good spread of options for different levels. I’ll say this, though - I’ve tried a few cheaper models and if you need internet for work go ahead and spring for the upper models. 

The Drive 4G-X has double the uplink output compared to the 4G-M - useful for grabbing signals much further away. The difference is night and day. The increase in upload speed, download speed and latency have proven totally worth the stress-inducing cost of the 4G-X. While not every place we’ve stayed has had blazing 30+mbs speeds, everywhere has been usable and that’s saying a lot compared to our previous setup.

If you got both directional and omnidirectional antennas you’ll want to keep both ends near the 4G-X where you can plug and un-plug depending on which one you want to boost with. A bit of small space acrobatics, but I don’t need to switch them often.

You’ll also get an inside antenna with your booster. Run this so that your Jetpack or hotspot is right next to it. Just recently weBoost came out with an RV version of the 4G-X that has a more powerful inside antenna that shouldn’t require such close proximity - but I haven’t tried it myself.

Roof Of Airstream With Solar And Antennas

Wifi and 4G External Antennas

If you live in a tiny box - aluminum or otherwise - it’s really hard for wifi or cellular signals to get inside to your devices. It’s even harder if you’re in amazing camping spots off the beaten path.

Having the right antennas combined with a signal booster box will really up your signal game. You’ll want to boost in two ways:

  1. Omnidirectional - This means that the antenna captures or gives off signal in a 360 degree pattern. Most of the time using your omnidirectional antenna will work just fine.
  2. Directional - occasionally you’ll end up somewhere and the tower is too far away for the radius on the other to catch. In that case you’ll use a directional antenna to point directly at the tower. This takes a bit of trial and error and I’ve only had to use it a few times, but it’s a huge lifesaver, especially if you’re going to be somewhere for a week and the omnidirectional isn’t cutting it.

Thanks to some serious sleuthing by our friends at boldandadventurous.com this SureCall Wide Band Omni-Directional can be used for both 4G and wifi signals (and move signals both ways). We use one connected to our cell signal booster (see below) and one connected as an outgoing antenna from our wifi router so we can get signal outside the Airstream. We even use it when we’re driving so the kids can connect.

For your Directional, weBoost makes a great Wide Band Directional Antenna - the tricky part is that you have to be able to get it high enough to not run into interference - and you have to be able to point it. I installed an RV TV antenna mainly so I could mount the directional antenna to it. Those TV antennas raise up and down and rotate 360 degrees. Pick up a bar and some hardware and you should be good to go.

We'll cover cables in the equipment list at the end of the article.

Pepwavesurfsoho

A Router Made for Nomads

So this last step is optional. You could grab an unlimited data plan, a Jetpack and just connect everyone wirelessly to that. Nice, simple, clean. But we’re talking about working and making a living on the road (and traveling with more than 2 people) so I’m proposing a router should be added to your arsenal. We’ve been using the Pepwave Surf SOHO MK3 and we love it. Why?

Consistent connection

You’re not always going to be connected via LTE. Sometimes there’s a decent wifi signal you’ll want to grab, and with more than one device logging them all into the new network would be a pain. A router massively simplifies this for my family of 6.

USB Tethering

The Pepwave has built-in profiles for tons of devices and our Jetpack worked perfectly with it. Just plug your USB charging cable into both devices and you’ll be charging the Jetpack as well sending the data signal in a lossless way via the cable. If you’ve ever tried to connect a wireless router to a hostpot device and share that signal you’ll know how quickly that signal degrades and slows down. This keeps things nice and speedy.

Device data tracking

Want to see who used 20gb last night? The Pepwave conveniently tracks all that for you, even giving you granular data for what hours the device downloaded or uploaded the most data. It helps track down automatic updates or random apps that are chugging data.

External antenna

You may remember up above that we bought an antenna and cable that connects to our router. The Pepwave has screw-on antennas for spreading signal inside, but with the added external antenna (SureCall Wide Band Omni-Directional)  it allows us to use our wifi outside of the Airstream and even on drive days. 

Security

Having everyone connect to our router before connecting to public wifi helps secure things a bit, but the Pepwave even has built-in support for VPN networks if you want to take it to another level.

More

Honestly, there’s a ton more options built into the box, but the reasons above were enough to sell me on adding a router to my setup.

If this all sounds a little confusing, here's a handy illustration of how it's all connected together:

Internet Setup Illustration

Shopping List

We’ve been using this setup every day for 4 months and we’ve been super happy with it’s speed, stability and connection. It’s world’s above our previous setup that included a Wifi Ranger, weBoost cradle booster and trucker antenna. I can count on one hand the number of times we didn’t have a strong enough cellular connection to get work done. And the majority of the time it’s not only strong, but crazy fast.

If you’d like this same setup in your rig, I’m listing everything we used down below. For cables, order the correct length to go from your antennas to your booster and router.

Have questions? Feel free to ask below in the comments. Happy Interneting!

Spoiler alert! There are affiliate links above. We may get compensated if you follow it and buy the product we've written about. Of course, we only recommend things we genuinely love. Thanks!

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https://bareneckers.com/a-different-kind-of-education A Different Kind of Education 2017-08-15T05:00:00+00:00 2017-08-16T04:47:59+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

I was recently asked how traveling has enriched our kid’s (and our) education. Well, there are so many ways it’s hard to know where to begin.

Maybe we’ll start with the fact that until I was in college I thought that Washington, DC was in the state of Washington. Yes…I went to public school. I somehow managed to graduate without ever reading one book of the required books for English Lit. (sorry Mr. Barrett) And apparently never paid attention in Geography, either.

So there are the obvious ways it has enriched our ‘education.’ I now know where the President lives, and it’s not in the Pacific Northwest. 

One of my favorite things about traveling with our kids in tow is that we get to learn all these new things together. We get to learn about the Ancient civilizations that built their homes in the cliffs and then actually go there and touch, feel, experience their ancient dwellings. 

walnut canyon

How many kids in traditional ‘school’ can say they’ve swam in both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans or have stood on the top of Mammoth Mountain, or could even tell you where Mammoth Mountain is? I’m guessing not that many. 

top of mammoth

Traveling allows us to give our kids (and us) new opportunities and experiences every week. We are always on the move and even just moving 30 minutes up the road often gives us a whole new area to explore and learn about.

A fun fact that we just learned recently is that there is an actual rainforest in the USA. Did you know that? I didn’t! And we didn’t just read about it, we spent weeks living in and exploring that very rainforest. There’s something so special about learning all you can about a place and then actually getting to live there for a bit. To touch the moss on the trees, to hike to the waterfalls, to swim in the streams and walk on the fallen trees that give new life to the plants and animals around it. 

Img 5050

Learning isn’t just something we do 4 hours a day by staring at books. Learning, for us, is happening every day and in many different situations. This week our oldest wants to learn how to bake bread. But not just bake a loaf, she wants to learn the art of baking bread. 

She wants to know what makes a great piece of bread and the different techniques for different types of bread and I am so excited that I get to help teach her! She’ll research recipes that she wants to try, find the ingredients, write out a recipe card, watch videos on how to properly knead a loaf and why it needs to rise, and how long it needs to bake, etc. Heck, she’ll even be practicing her fractions because we only have 1/4 cup measuring spoon and I know the recipe calls for 2/3 cup of water. 

kids making bread

You see, learning for us isn’t only with workbooks and standardized tests. We are constantly learning how to live this crazy life were given. I believe, with all my heart, that the desire to learn is deep within all of us. I’m constantly wanting to learn new skills. In the last few years I learned how to build farmhouse tables, paint custom signs, make amazing salsa verde and the proper way to smoke a hunk of pork shoulder. I’ve taken a stained glass class and learned how to do a few cool macrame projects. 

Our kids are watching us. They are here with us every day and see our desire to create and learn new things…and that rubs off on them! After watching me make a macrame planter, Adali picked up it up in no time and has been selling her own creations! 

adali and macrame

She took it upon herself to watch tutorial videos and let me know what she needed to make what she wanted. It’s been really cool to watch her turn into this young lady and watch her desire to learn new skills. Last I checked, they don’t have macrame classes in school, and probably not bread baking classes, either.

So yeah, it’s crazy to think of all the ways traveling has enriched our lives. It’s given us so much freedom and time to dig deep into our new interests and passions.

Having the time and headspace to learn all these new things is great, but the experiences these kids are having in a new place every week is something they will carry with them the rest of their lives. They will grow up and know that they can make it wherever they end up. They will be able to talk to adults and actually carry on a conversation with someone that’s not the same age as them. They’ll feel, smell, and taste things that most kids their age won’t. They’re fully immersed in this big, beautiful world and they have the opportunity to see and experience it all first-hand. That’s education. That’s living. 

So, for us, education might look different. 

campfire in rainforest

For now, we’ll camp under the moss covered trees, wake up in a dewy tent with the aroma of last nights campfire embedded in our clothes, bake bread, hike and enjoy this big beautiful world we live in...and we’ll learn as much as we can along our way.

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https://bareneckers.com/small-town-love-lee-vining-and-busy-mammoth-lakes Small town Love - Lee Vining and Busy Mammoth Lakes 2017-08-02T05:00:00+00:00 2017-08-02T15:56:36+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

When we were cleared to leave Phoenix after Ada’s surgery it was time to head to California. We had our hearts set on exploring Mammoth Lakes for a long time, but were worried about heading up into the mountains with that one big problem. We took a minor detour to San Luis Obispo to get our brakes fixed before we headed into the Eastern Sierras. 

We are so thankful to everyone who helped us get that fiasco under control. We find our selves still braking just for fun, followed by a, "that's so nice!" Yeah, we're weird.

You may have read that on the way to Mammoth Lakes, we got stuck in Bishop, CA with truck repairs. (Ouch! $$$$) At this time, we were beginning to wonder if we weren’t supposed to make this trip. We got our truck back and decided to give it a go. We made the short drive to north to the boondocking site we had picked out on Campendium…only to find someone was in our spot! I’ll admit...I was pretty upset. It was my birthday week and I just wanted to soak in some hot springs while drinking a cold Mexicoke!

We made the decision to drive north 30 more minutes and find a site in Lee Vining. I’m so glad we did. 

Mono Lake Airstream

This place was stunning. We spent a beautiful four days enjoying Mono Lake to our east and the Eastern Sierras to our west. 

Eastern Sierras at Mono Lake

This spot was so lovely. Every night was a magical sunset. 

Airstream Mono Lake Sunset

The fragrant sage brush and the evening breeze relaxed our bodies and nourished our souls. It felt like...home. 

Lee Vining is such a small little town but I absolutely loved it there. The visitors center is well stocked with books and cute trinkets and wonderful information. We went there several times during our stay. 

We enjoyed the hike down to the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve.

walking to the tufas

It was other worldly to be amongst these tufa towers.

Mono Lake Tufas Mono Lake Tufa Two

Every place we to we try to find amazing local restaurants. Our favorite local eatery was Mono Cone! Their hamburgers were so tasty and they have soft served ice-cream that made us come back more times than I’d like to admit.

Mono Cone

But if hamburgers and ice cream don’t fancy you, try the Mobil Gas Station restaurant called Woah Nelli Deli. I know it sounds weird, but their food was actually pretty good.

Woah Nelli Deli

I had my doubts but it’s always busy and they have plenty of outdoor seating. It’s located at the east entrance of the Tioga Pass which helps the town of Lee Vining so much. Everyone coming out of Yosemite National Park seems to stop there for a bite to eat. They also had free water, a dumpster, and a really good selection of stickers and magnets for things in the area which is something we always look for. You could even pay $10 to dump your tanks there!

While in this area, I was still nursing a hurt foot. I’m not sure what I did but we took a couple weeks in this area to rest and let it heal. We were able to spend a lot of time catching up on projects and work. Sometimes it’s nice to just breath and take some time off of adventuring.

On our 4th day in Lee Vining we decided to drive back down to Mammoth Lakes to see if the spot was available that we wanted. NOPE! They were still there so we took our time and drove around the area to look for another site that we’d be able to camp in. We found a wonderful site at 7:30pm. We went back and forth wondering if we should run back and pack up and move down here to Mammoth Lakes. It’s only a 30 minute drive…30 minutes to hitch up…30 minutes back… Could we make it before dark? We decided to give it a go. 

We hitched up and hauled it back down to the site we had found only to see that 2 vans had set up camp while we were gone. Drats! What now? It was now dark and finding a campsite at night isn’t going to work well. We ended up parked on the side of the road for the night in hopes of finding a place nearby in the morning. Why did we choose to break our don't travel at night rule?

We woke up around 5:30, Jon went to gas up the truck (we were almost empty), and when he got back I went out scouting for another site. I drove back to the one we had found last night and the vans were gone. Sweet! I pulled out our tents and set them up so that no one would come take the spot while I drove back to hitch up the trailer!

Tents at Mammoth

We made it!!

tents and airstrea

We’re super excited to be in Mammoth Lakes because just down the road from us are several Hot Springs. It was my birthday week and all I wanted was Sushi and to drink a MexiCoke in a Hot Spring. 

We probably should have looked closer at the actual site we chose. It took us 5 tries to get the trailer somewhat level. Actually, we could get it level but the ground was so slanted that in order to level the trailer, the nose had to be a good 4 feet in the air. Our front stabilizers extended the whole way which made for a VERY wobbly trailer…. With our bed is in the front…the trailer would be really rocking (if you know what I mean). So, we tried again and finally got it to where we didn’t have to jump to get into the trailer, the stabilizers were still extended pretty far but not like the last few options we tried. 

Ahh, we enjoyed this site for a solid week! It was nice…but we found ourselves really missing Lee Vining. If you’ve been there, you’ll know why. It just feels like home. 

While here, we tried SO MANY times to get in a hot spring but they were ALWAYS occupied. There were so many campers in this area. Like…SO. MANY. PEOPLE. We made the most of it and enjoyed the Hot Creek weaving its way behind our trailer, the nearby geological site, and the view just out our front door. 

mammoth lakes hot creek mammoth lakes boondocking hot creek geological site

We took a day trip up to Mammoth Mountain on my birthday. Surprisingly, there was still a bunch of snow and we got to watch people skiing. We didn’t expect that! The mountain was hopping with so many people. We decided to splurge a bit and took a gondola ride up to the top of the mountain. Never again will I get in one of those things. I thought for sure we were going to be dropped do our death. I don't want to go out in a gondola, guys. 

Heights and wobbly transportation don’t make me feel real safe. We enjoyed the views and the visitors center and then it was time to head back down. 

Mammoth Mountain

Let me tell you, it was even worse going back down. I just had to suck it up and get on with it. Obviously we made it back safe but I was done!  

With half the day left, we decided to go back down towards Bishop to visit the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest. I was not prepared for how windy the roads were. Lots of switchbacks going straight up a mountain for about 45 minutes! That drive was crazy but once we made it to the forest, it paid off. 

bristle cone pine forest ancient bristle cone pine forest

We saw some of the oldest trees in the world. If you're near Bishop, it's a must visit!

One of the last nights at Mammoth we decided we would just drive to every hot spring because surely one would be available. We took our chilled Mexicokes with us and headed out. After about 45 minutes of trying different hot springs we came upon one that people were just getting out of. SWEET!

We walked up to it after they had left and we all just looked at each other. I was expecting crystal clear, hot water, and a beautiful view. Only one of those things was the reality.

hot springs

We soaked in lukewarm, buggy water that had animal fur and human hair floating in it along with all the debris from the rocks and gunk growing on the rocks. I don’t know why I thought it would be clean!?! I mean, in all the pictures you see, it looks crystal clear and so relaxing.Just another example of real life. Things aren’t always as glamorous as they appear in pictures, remember that :)

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We made the most out of it though. We drank our Mexicoke and enjoyed the view. I mean, how many of us can say we soaked in the hot springs while watching the sun go down in the Eastern Sierras? Even though we were soaking in animal fur and human hair, we choose to look at the beauty in the moment, it's a memory that won’t soon be forgotten. 

hot springs and eastern sierras

We collectively decided that it was time to leave busy Mammoth Lakes and all just wanted to go back to Lee Vining! I assumed there would be no way we would get our same parking spot so we had a couple more options lined up. Lucky for us, no one was there so we snagged the same awesome spot and enjoyed another week in my new favorite small town. 

mono lake sunset

With my foot feeling better, we decided it was time to explore more. We took a day to drive the Tioga Pass.

tioga pass

If you only have a day to spend seeing a bit of Yosemite, I highly suggest you drive this gorgeous route. It had opened up just a couple days before so there was still quite a bit of snow in areas along the road.

tioga pass 2017

We pulled off at several locations but our favorite thing was Olmstead Point. We pulled off and crossed the road to climb up on the huge rocks that overlooked Tenaya Lake on one side and Clouds Rest and Half Dome on the other.

olmstead point olmstead point2

That was the first ‘hike’ I had tried since I hurt my foot and I’m happy to report that it is fully healed! 

We pulled off to play in a waterfall and we have a short snowball fight. 

We had a blast driving the pass and the views were stunning in every direction. 

With more day to explore I booked us an early morning canoe tour of Mono Lake

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If you’re in the area, I highly suggest you do this tour. It was so informative and fun. 

mono lake canoe tour

A guide comes with you in the canoe and tells you the history of the lake and tells you about all the trillions of brine shrimphow the tuffa formed, the volcanos nearby, and the birds that come to nest on the tufa every year. You have to look this place up and read about Mono Lake. It’s got such an interesting history. If you have time to go, make sure you do the earliest canoe tour possible. 

canoe mono lake

You’ll be on calm, clear water and you will not regret the early rise to make it. 

Lee Vining has stolen a piece of my heart. With views every night like this... 

sunset lee vining

...it's moved to one of my top three favorite places we have ever been.

Have you ever visited Lee Vining? If not, mark this one down on your bucket list.

Locations in this post

1

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
US-395
Lee Vining, CA 93541

2

Mono Cone

51508 Hwy 395.
Lee Vining, CA 93541

3

Mobil/Whoa Neli Deli

22 Vista Point Rd
Lee Vining, CA 93541

4

Mammoth Mountain

1 Minaret Rd
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

5

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

White Mountain Rd
Verenigde Staten, CA 93514

6

The Rock Tub

Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

7

Olmstead Point

California
USA

8

Tioga Pass

Tioga Pass, California 93541

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https://bareneckers.com/heads-up-butts-up Heads Up, Butts Up 2017-07-14T12:30:00+00:00 2017-07-15T03:03:40+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

Our kids recently found a rock that they have named Chance. One side is butts and one side is heads. They flip Chance and see if it lands heads up or butts up. (Think heads or tails)

It was funny...the timing of their game. We’re in the process of seeing some of our biggest dreams come true. We have been working hard on a new project and finally seeing it coming to life is so exciting! 

It's hard, you know…trying something new. You can plan, you can do all the research, you can crunch all the numbers and weigh all the odds but until you get that idea into the hands of someone who can help make it happen, you just never know if you’ll land heads up or butts up. 

Best case senario is you land heads up and turn your kick awesome idea into a new epic adventure. But you know what?? Even if you land butts up, you can always pick up that rock and flip it again, and again, and again.

So here we are, flipping that rock one day at a time, looking forward to landing heads up into our new awesome adventure.

Cheers to trying new things!

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https://bareneckers.com/flagstaff-and-surgery-in-phoenix Flagstaff and Surgery in Phoenix 2017-07-10T08:00:00+00:00 2017-07-10T00:48:15+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

We were all a bit sad to leave Sedona, but the heat was getting unbearable. We decided to head north to Flagstaff in search of shade and lower temperatures. We were just killing time before we had to drive back to Phoenix for Ada’s surgery. 

Nestled under towering pines, we found a little peace and quiet in the solitude of the Coconino National Forest. This boondocking area was quite busy but we were able to find a place away from the crowds. Our neighbors were udderly adorable!

cows in flagstaff

While in Flagstaff, we were able to visit a few awesome places. First up was Wupatki National Monument. We have visited so many ruins lately that they’re all starting to run together, but I do remember this place being really cool...despite the 100+ degree temperatures that day. The kids were able to complete their Junior Ranger booklets while we were there, earning another badge. I love how much they (and us, too) are learning by visiting all these National Parks and Monuments. 

wupatki national monument wupatki national monument 2

The same day that we visited Wupatki we also had time to go to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Another Junior Ranger book day! This place was really neat. 

Sunset Crater National Monument

It’s not often that we get to walk on lava rocks. On our little hike around the area, we even got to check out the ‘ice cave’. It’s blocked off so you can’t go in it, but just standing outside the cave entrance you can feel how cold it is. We stayed there a long time to cool off from the trail on black lava rocks. We were all so hot that day. We were counting down the days until we could leave Arizona. At this point, temperatures were reaching 110-113 and we were miserable!

Sunset Crater National Monument2

We headed back to the Airstream to cool off in the shade for the rest of the evening. Nights were cool and breezy which made our days tolerable. 

The next morning we woke up refreshed and ready for another day of exploring. This time we visited Walnut Canyon National Monument. Some call it the Mini Grand Canyon. While it’s really impressive, I’m sure that it doesn’t come close to the endless views of the Grand Canyon itself. (Hopefully we get there one day)

walnut canyon national monument

With another Junior Ranger booklet in hand, we took the trial down the canyon. I think there was around 273 steps into the canyon and then you make your way around this huge bolder that once housed hundreds of Sinagua Indianas. Their cliff dwellings we so well preserved. We loved that you could actually go in several of the ‘homes’ but can you even imagine raising a toddler on a cliff? Let alone fetching water and carrying it up the cliff side into your home? It’s amazing to think of how easy our lives are now. Sometimes I wish we could travel back in time to experience what it was like back in the days without stores, cars, electricity, plumbed water. 

walnut canyon

I loved that we could go in some of the dwellings and see what others saw centuries before us. 

With another badge to add to the collection, the kids were ready for a Junior Ranger break! 

walnut canyon 3

While we love the program, perhaps 3 parks in 2 days was a bit much. We took their advice to just do something for fun and ‘not educational’. Ha, little do they know there is ALWAYS something educational about the places we go. 

So, we planned a ‘non-educational’ trip to a Lava River Cave! Guys, this place was our absolute favorite hike in flagstaff and it was FREE!! Out in the middle of forest roads we came to an opening under ground. A lava tube was formed and it’s over a mile long, underground, in the dark and it’s chilly in there!

ice in lava cave lava cave

Armed with flashlights and jackets we entered in and we were blown away. It was probably around 45 degrees in there but the hike was so physical that you don’t mind being in the cold. 

You climb down rocks in the beginning being careful to watch your step as it’s just rocks piled on top of each other. There is ice in the cave year round so it made your steps a bit slippery as well. I started questioning myself as to if this was a good idea with a 5 and 7 year old…and me…but we did it. It was so much fun. At one point you come to a fork and we went to the right which was a really small spot. We practically crawled to get to the other side. 

Since there were only our flashlights, no pictures could really show you what was going on. It was so cool and you MUST go if you’re in the Flagstaff area. Such a cool experience. Make sure you take at least 3 light sources in case one or two go out. At one point, we all huddled together and turned out all our lights. It was so amazing. Just being in complete darkness, cold, quiet and just being there alone for a few minutes. Jax freaked out a bit and had to turn on his light - he does not like to be in the dark, even with us right there next to him. I can’t blame him though, it was kind of creepy! But creepy in a really awesome way. 

We enjoyed several campfires at our secluded site.

campfire in flagstaff

It was so nice to just relax by the fire and talk. We are truly loving our time as a family off grid. It’s been so nice to just be together without distractions. 

It was finally time to head back down to Phoenix to get ready for Ada’s surgery. We wanted to be close to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and when some friends on Instagram invited us to stay at their place (and help us try to fix our brake issue) we couldn’t say no! Especially since they had electric hookups! If you’re boondocking in Phoenix in the summer, something is wrong with you.

We headed out the next morning after a fun evening with new friends. We found a place on Boondockers welcome that looked promising. The family was out of town but they had people watching their house, but the big draw was they had a pool that they said we could use. 

We tried one night without hookups and it was just too miserable. We made reservations at a nearby state park, jumped in the swimming pool to cool off a bit, then quickly made the drive to Lost Dutchman State Park

lost dutchman state park

We absolutely love this park but it was hellish hot we couldn’t do much. We had reflectix in all the windows which looked rather conspicuous but it was totally necessary to keep the trailer below 90 degrees! We were happy when it was 85 in here. Thank goodness for (nearly) empty state parks that let us use their electrical hookups!

We stayed 10 days. Jonathan was able to get a crazy hike in one day. I thought he was nuts! He woke up at 4:30 to start the Flat Iron trail which was supposed to take around 4 hours! Long story short, he ended up taking a wrong turn about half way through and never made it all the way to his destination. 8 hours later he makes it down in the 100+ temperatures.

flat iron

I’m so thankful he made it down, especially since hearing that sometimes people don't... I was getting worried around the 6 hour mark! He enjoyed his time and the views, although, he did leave a little disappointed. I know he’ll do it again though (with a friend) if we’re back down this way and it’s not in the summer!

Before Ada's surgery, we were able to meet up with a childhood friend of mine. The Prather girls lived just 2 streets over from us when we were just little kids. They had 3 girls and so did we, and we were all really close to the same ages. Nicole was the same age as my oldest sister. 

She now lives in Phoenix and invited us to her beautiful home to swim. It was so fun to catch up with her and meet her 3 children. It's probably been 25-30 years since we've seen each other but it was so fun to remember all our times playing together. Roller skating in our driveway, walks to the McDonalds to play the Monopoly game, etc. A walk down memory lane. 

meeting nicole

This is just one of the many reasons we love traveling. Getting to meet up with new and old friends along our way. Thanks for having us over, Nicole!

Now it was time for Ada's surgery. She has had a hernia since she was born and it was finally to the point of hurting her if she got hit in her stomach. We knew it was time to get it fixed. This is one hard thing about being away from home, finding doctors and a hospital that you feel is the best option for where you are. We did a lot of research and talked to several friends in the area and we found a doctor that we felt really good about. Luckily he was able to get her in very quick. 

ada pre surgery

She did great with the surgery. She had very minimal pain and was back to herself in just over 24 hours! Now, almost a month later, she’s doing great! I am so thankful for Dr. David Notrica and Phoenix Children’s Hospital for taking care of our little girl. We were a nervous wreck but Ada handled it like a champ!

Now, let’s get the heck out of Arizona!

Locations in this post

1

Wupatki National Monument

25137 N Wupatki Loop Rd
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

2

Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater
Arizona 86004 USA

3

Walnut Canyon National Monument

3 Walnut Canyon Rd
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

4

Lava River Cave

171B Forest Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

5

Phoenix Children's Hospital

1919 E Thomas Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85016

6

Lost Dutchman State Park

6109 N Apache Trail
Apache Junction, AZ 85119

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https://bareneckers.com/the-brake-saga The Brake Saga 2017-06-30T05:00:00+00:00 2017-06-30T22:20:16+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

If you follow us on Instagram - @bareneckers - then you would know that we’ve been having one heck of a month. 

And you would know that we’ve been having brake issues on the trailer since the end of March. It started on I10 in Louisiana when the road was so bad that it seemed something rattle loose and caused our truck to throw a TRAILER FAULT code every time we hit the brakes. We tried to locate the issue many times on our own. 

Img 2993

We checked our wiring to and from the trailer. We had our truck checked out, we rewired the pigtail, but we could never find the issue. 

Full Size Render 3

We took it to a brake shop in Texas and they said it was our truck’s brake controller so they installed a 3rd party controller but 10 minutes down the road we were still getting the TRAILER FAULT code. 

We were stumped. No one could locate the issue! Finally we went to Arizona and ended up at a friend’s house we met through Instagram (we love our community there). He offered to look at it for us. We pulled the wires down from the junction box we created under the trailer. I’m so glad Dad decided to add that so that all the wires weren’t hidden in the underbelly. We have access to the wires and so we pulled them down to see if there was an issue there. Our friend Yancy found one wire that had a slit in the casing with a couple wires popping out. We thought, that has to be it! It must be hitting something up in there and causing the brakes to ground out. Yancy wrapped up the wire and the next morning when we left it seemed to be doing great! But sure enough, when the brakes were applied hard enough it would still throw the fault code. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS IT!?

We had planned to go up in to California and would be on some mountain passes so we HAD to figure this out before we made that trip. We were just frustrated. We thought for sure we were going to have to drop the underbelly and look at all the wires again. That was the LAST thing we wanted to do. 

Then something awesome happened. Another guy (@poorboy_lighting) who follows us on Instagram (see, I told you…we have a great tribe there) offered to help us out. He is an electrician and has worked on Airstreams with his friend Jay, @vintage_trailer_restoration, who restores them so they know what to look for. 

We changed our plans and headed to San Luis Obispo, CA. It was so out of the way but we needed trailer brakes! Thankfully we didn’t have anywhere we HAD to be, we were just trying to escape the heat. We found a campsite close to his shop in SLO and headed there first thing Monday morning. These guys really do know what to look for. 

Full Size Render Full Size Render 2

They checked the wiring and we went through all the possibilities all morning. They thought for sure we needed a new plug on the Airstream side so a quick change-out and we thought we had it. A quick test in the parking lot and….TRAILER FAULT! GAH! 

We knew all the connections were right. All the wires looked good, then Eric says, "I wonder if it’s in the wheel?" We knew we were getting signal to all of the wheels because we tested that, but one of them wasn’t engaging despite receiving the signal. Okay, let’s just disconnect the front axle to see if the rear axle  brakes will still work. A quick test and…. THEY WORKED! 

Now we know that the problem is in one of those wheels! Neither of us were comfortable taking apart the wheels to check so we looked for a trailer brake shop. The quickest we could make it in a shop in SLO was 4 weeks! WHAT??? We can’t stay here that long! We called around and found a place in the next biggest town that was on our way and called to see if they could get us in and they said, "how soon can you get here?" 

We found this awesome campsite at Availa Beach (no hookups but still $50/night!?!? WHAT?? We have to get off the coast). Yes, it was a crazy expensive site for no hookups but it was pretty great! Amazing view, cool breeze, walkable beach. We'd probably go back if we come down the coast this fall.

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The next morning we headed out to Bakersfield to get our brakes fixed once and for all...or so we hoped!

We thought for sure it was the driver’s side front wheel so they started with that one. But when they opened it up they said it looked good. Arghghghg!!! We were about to lose all hope. “Well, let’s try the other wheel on the same axle,” they said. And guys…THEY FOUND IT!!!!! 

Img 6313 Img 6314

Apparently the bushing that holds the actuator arm in place had either fallen off or was never attached to begin with. That meant that the main braking arm was just flopping all over the place and had worn through the wire’s outer casing. 

Guys, these were 3 month old axels/brakes! It never crossed our mind that the problem would be in the new parts! Good grief!

It made more sense to just replace the whole assembly, and luckily Bud's Brake and Wheel Shop had the part and put it all back together in a few minutes.

We took out of there, slammed on the brakes and NO FAULT!!!! Whooo! We were so excited.

So, a huge thank you to @poorboy_lighting in San Luis Obispo for helping us locate the problem. He went way above and beyond to help us figure this out. When it got too late in the day to work at the shop, he took us to his house so he could continue looking for the issue. If you are in need of any electrical work, we can highly recommend you work with Poorboy Electric. Thank you Jay, for also helping us figure out this issue. We are so thankful for your knowledge and willingness to help us out on such short notice. If anyone needs help with their vintage trailer, Jay's the man to help you bring it back to life. Here, you can find out more info about his Vintage Trailer Restoration business!

And a great big thank you to Bud's Brake and Wheel Shop for getting us in so quickly and fixing our problem! It is so nice to have trailer brakes! We have gone far too long without them. 

We are on our way! We can finally make it to the spot in Mammoth Lakes that we have been itching to get to. It’s a 4.5 hour drive that we would tackle in a day. We where about 2 hours away when we got a code on our dash that threw our truck into ‘limp home’ mode! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW???

We barely had enough power to make it to the shop 10 minutes down the road. We were climbing hills at a whopping 40 MPH and just praying we weren’t killing the engine. We made calls and found a place to read the code. Long story short… we were stuck in Bishop, CA needing a new Turbo…45 minutes from our spot in Mammoth Lakes. 

Guys, it’s been a very expensive month, but what are the odds that we were 10 minutes from a place that could read the code and then 30 minutes to the nearest town that had a Ford dealership just 3 minutes from a campground. We know Someone is watching out for us! 

We were stuck in Bishop for 6 nights due to the part not getting to the shop on a Friday. Luckily Jon got his bike off the truck so he could ride to the grocery nearby...and deliver us a pizza. 

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It all worked out and the truck is running better than ever.

Now, we can finally get to our spot in Mammoth Lakes! Just a 45 minute drive from Bishop and we'd be alone in nature, enjoying our site! 

We pulled up and...there was someone in 'our' site! How could they? 

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Honestly, I was mad, but just 30 more minutes up the road we found this gem and now...I'm not mad anymore. This is beautiful.

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I love this spot. We have a cool breeze and we have Mono Lake to the east and the beautiful snowy Sierra's to the west. We are settled here for awhile. We have a FREE water source just 2 minutes up the road, excellent Verizon signal and the lovely small town of Lee Vining just 3 minutes away! We're not going anywhere for awhile :) It's time to recharge and relax. 

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https://bareneckers.com/sedona Sedona! 2017-06-26T05:00:00+00:00 2017-09-14T20:57:44+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

When we left our friend’s house in Phoenix, we headed straight for Sedona. We had looked at pictures, gotten recommendations and knew it was going to be a great spot, but nothing could have prepared us for the beauty we saw as we pulled into this serene red rock oasis.

We found a great site via Campendium. We knew there would be lots of options for us off the main road so we dropped our trailer and went out to scout for the perfect spot. And boy did we find it! 5 miles of washboard/dirt road that twists its way up to the promised land.

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We were tucked away from the hustle of Sedona while getting to enjoy the quiet scenery of the towering red rocks nearby. 

This is it. This is the life. This is when we get really excited about our ever changing backyard. This is when all our hard work really pays off. When we find gems like this. We planned on staying a week but that week quickly turned into two. 

There was just so much to do. So many awesome hikes, trails and places to visit. So much to see here. We knew we could never see everything we wanted so we picked what we thought would be the best hikes for our family and headed out.

Our first hike was Doe Mountain. Listed as ‘easy’ well, I don’t know if I would call it easy. It may be moderate in my (out-of-shape) book. However, it was really a great hike. Lots to keep the kids entertained. So many rocks to climb over, switchbacks to navigate and views to take in when you stop to catch your breath!

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We made our way to the top and just had to stop and stare for a few moments. Everywhere you look its just jaw dropping. There aren’t words to describe Sedona. It’s just magical and I hope everyone gets a chance to see it. 

We walked around on the top of Doe Mountain to the other side with equally spectacular views. Of course the kids really wanted to get as close to the edge as possible. 

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Makes my stomach turn just watching them get so close. It’s Jonathan’s job to watch them when they want to venture out to the edge. My momma heart just can’t take it.

It was a super fun hike and everyone enjoyed Doe Mountain. If you get a chance to go either at sunset or sunrise…even better.

Another hike we loved was Fay Canyon. It was a easy hike and honestly a bit boring until the end. There were no rocks to climb over, it was a mostly clear, flat path all the way in but when you get to the end of the marked trail, that’s when it gets fun. This huge boulder is in front of you at the end of the marked trail and there is a path that you can take all the way up for some amazing views. 

Top Of Fay Cayon

Jonathan and the kid’s ventured out for a long time up there. I stayed down to get some pictures as they climbed up. Fay Canyon is one of their favorites due to not being on a trail at the end and just getting to go explore the giant boulder.  

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One place we really wanted to visit was the Airport Vortex. What the heck is a vortex? I had no idea either but it’s believed to be a special spot on earth where energy is either going into or projecting out of the earth’s plane in a spiral moving up or down. All of Sedona is said to be a vortex. You’ll find trees all over that are twisted and oddly shaped but on top of the Airport Vortex you’re supposed to be able to feel the energy even more. 

It was a super easy climb up to the top. The kids said that it wasn’t even a hike because it was literally less than 1/4 mile round trip. It was still beautiful to be up there near sunset.

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The golden sun just bounced beauty off the red rocks and onto the land below. And as usual, the kids found their way to the edge and were about to give me heart attack. I try really hard to not tell them ‘no’ when they’re seeking adventures, but man…they’ve taken some years off of my life! Luckily they have a dad who’s willing to get right out there with them. Perhaps one day I’ll be less scared but for now, I’ll take their pictures.

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None of us were magically healed by the vortex or even felt a bit different but we loved being up there and taking it all in. It’s a very popular place and busy, but well worth the trip to see it.

There was a day or two I wasn’t feeling well so Jonathan took the kids to the Palatki Ruins. They had a blast. You do have to call ahead and get a reservation for the tour but it’s free and well worth the time. The rangers were very informative about the area and it was a really neat place for the kids to visit. 

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The last hike we chose was Devil’s Bridge. Woah! If you do no other hikes, do this one! However, don't take the shortcut unless you have a high clearance 4 wheel drive, and for Pete's sake, take off your drop hitch! (we forgot)

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It’s quite the workout getting up to the top. You’re scrambling boulders the last 1/4 mile and are practically going straight up. After a few rests and breathers, we made it! 

There were a lot of people up there due to the popularity of this hike. Everyone knows about it and everyone wants to get out on the bridge for a picture! Well, mostly everyone. Again, I stayed back and took video and pictures of Jonathan and the kids. And let me tell you, I really regret not going out there with them. We could have handed our cameras over to anyone there and they would have taken the picture but I was too chicken. If we get the chance to go back, I WILL do Devils Bridge. I will go out on the ledge with my family and get that picture. I WILL face my fears next time I get the chance to get out on the edge with them. 

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From the pictures you can’t really tell just how high they are on that ledge. It was making my legs shake just watching them get out there. But really, even if you have a fear of heights like me, you have to do it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.


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It wasn’t just the hikes that we loved though. It was the peacefulness of Sedona. It was so quiet at our little campsite. The weather was so great the first week we were there. It was perfect camping weather so we were able to pull out our new Winterial tents and test them out for the first time! 

Tents Set Up In Sedona

We were so lucky to get these tents. We have been dying to get into backpacking with the kids. They love ‘camping’ so having these smaller tents were a necessity for us to be able to go backpacking in the very near future. We are hoping to get up into Canada this summer for some epic tent camping. We also have a few sites on the west coast that we want tent camp this fall/winter!

They were a breeze to set up. We made a nice fire and enjoyed a quiet evening together outside. We even got stuff to make S’mores. 

It had been so long since we had a proper campfire and even longer since we’ve made S’mores (always with Reeses cups, if you don't make S’mores like this…we can’t be friends). Everyone had a blast and I think the kids loved having their own tent. Though it was a bit cramped in there, I think for now, this one will be okay. We have only used the tents that one night but so far, so good. We love the ease of setting them up. It’s so much easier than our huge Colman 8 person tent we used to have.

Our last few days there we did get to hit up Tuzigoot National Monument and Montezuma Castle National Monument. They were so fun to visit despite the crazy hot temperatures. The kids were able to finish their Junior Ranger booklets and earned their badges at both places. 

The last thing I want to tell you about is our newest project. We are creating a show! We are so excited about the possibilities. We can’t show you the whole first episode yet, but here is a trailer for it.

We are already starting on our second episode and have some great things planned out. Be sure to sign up for our email list so that we can tell you the latest news with the show!

So, just to wrap it up. Sedona needs to be on your bucket list! I’d say plan to stay at least a week, two if you can swing it. There is so much to do and see there, one week may not be long enough.

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https://bareneckers.com/nopaymay-success #NOPAYMAY - SUCCESS 2017-06-01T08:00:00+00:00 2017-06-01T17:08:51+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

We made it! We went the whole month of May (plus some more days) without paying for a campsite! We can count on one hand the number of showers the kids had (yikes), but we made it. We spent almost two weeks in Las Cruces, one night in a Travel Center parking lot, 3 nights in a friend’s driveway, 2 weeks in Sedona and a the rest of our time in Coconino Forest in Flagstaff (which is where we still are currently).

Flagstaff Coconino Forest

So, let me breakdown the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good.

We were able to save the $500 we set aside each month for campground fees! WOOT! Everyone is so excited that we are able to get the kids something that will be very useful for their research/learning and free time. 

It has been a big deal for me to push my comfort zone. I’m used to cleanliness, order, and let’s face it...air conditioning. This has been a test for me. And you know what? I survived. 

We found out that we can make it through 95 degree heat without an air conditioner, but we may end up spending some extra money in icy drinks and gas to go to the local library during the hottest part of the day.

Our solar set up has been awesome! In Sedona and Las Cruces our batteries were up to 100% by noon every day. In Flagstaff, not so much. We may need to move to a new site up here.

Having the Nature's Head composting toilet has been a huge component in us being able to be off grid for long periods of time. It's been a great way to save a crap ton of water! 

Natures Head

The Bad.

Dirt, guys. SO MUCH DIRT! 

Airstream Dirt

The Sedona red dirt has left a permanent mark on our hearts, as well as our bed sheets and rugs. Geeze oh Pete! The screens of our Fantastic Fans are coated in dust and blow a nice layer of red dirt when turned on. I’ve already cleaned them a couple times this month...but you’d never know it. 

I can count on one hand the number of showers the kids had this month and my hair hasn’t been washed since May 4th! However, we recently got the opportunity to try out Epic Wipes and woah! Game changer!

These wipes shouldn't even be called wipes, it's basically a wet towel that smells amazing! They're so big that we cut them into forths so that between the four kids, we can use just one wipe and they still get clean!

Epic Wipes Kids

Jon and I cut one in half to make them last longer, too. I LOVE the smell of the oils used in the wipes, plus they are 100% biodegradable (made with bamboo) so we don't feel bad about throwing them out. I can see these being a big part of our travels.

The Airstream and truck both looked as though there was a red dirt tornado that came through them but is there any point in cleaning it when we’re still on dirt roads? Not really.

The Ugly.

The heat made me loose my cool on more than one occasion. 95 degrees in the trailer?? NOT A FAN. Yes, we made it, but it' wasn't pretty.

I’ve learned how crazy I am about having a clean place to work/live/sleep but I’ve also learned that the red dirt on my bed at night isn’t going to kill me. 

My hair! It's so hot and heavy right now. I’ve never had hair this long and the dreads are at a point where I’m searching how to comb them out and looking at short hair styles because...holy cow! I miss my head feeling the wind and rain.

What did we get the kids?

We were able to save $500 from #nopaymay and we used that along with money that the kids had been saving from birthdays and chores and we were able to purchase 2 iPads for them! We bought each of them Kindles last Christmas and those have been a nightmare. (hey, we have 4 Kindle Fire's for sale!) Different chargers, the OS is lame, and everyone is always frustrated with them. Plus, we're huge Apple nerds and knew that iPads would be a much better fit for us. The two little kids claimed these, so if we can make it through June without paying for camping, then we'll grab 2 more for the older kids. With as much research as Adali has been doing for her tiny farm, having a good device to work on is going to be very important. Plus, all the school work I can have them do on them will be a huge bonus.

Will we do it again?

Heck yes! We’re already planning out our boondocking spots for June. (hello, Grand Canyon!) Our only hang up is the need to be in Phoenix next week for a doctor’s appointment. We may splurge and get a hotel for the night! Or we’ll bring the Airstream and find a cheap place close to the hospital. Who knows? 

Finding all these public lands we can camp on has been life changing to say the least. I never even knew that it was an option when we first started traveling. We just thought we’d be in campgrounds all the time. My, oh my...how things have changed. We love the solitude, the quiet, the peace we find when we score a chunk of land with no one around and a million dollar view. 

So, what about you? Would you go a whole month on the road without paying for camping? Would you park in the middle of nowhere with no one around to save some cash? Is boondocking your style or would you rather be with full-hookups? We’d love to hear what your favorite type of camping is.

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https://bareneckers.com/moochdocking-with-friends Moochdocking with Friends 2017-05-26T05:00:00+00:00 2017-05-30T18:48:53+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

You probably know by now that we’re committed to boondocking the whole month of May - #nopaymay. Well, when the opportunity came up to stay in the driveway of some dear friends, we couldn’t say no!

We left Las Cruses and headed towards Phoenix but we decided to just take 2 days to get there instead of driving 6.5 hours at once. Originally we weren’t even going to be in Arizona but once our plans changed in Santa Fe and we had to head south, we just thought, why not? We’re so close to our friends, let’s stop by Phoenix for a bit!

We overnighted in Benson, AZ to break up the drive and we kept with our #nopaymay commitment. We overnighted at a truck stop and boy were we thankful that we had bought reflectix for our windows when we were in Texas. SO. MANY. LIGHTS. They didn’t bother us once we put that reflectix in the windows. We all slept like babies!

The next morning Jonathan worked and we made our way to Phoenix. It was so nice to see our friends again. Last year we met the Trujillos (via Instagram) when they offered to let Jonathan and the kids stay with them while our RV was in the shop and I was in Knoxville cleaning out our storage unit. It was so nice to be back with our friends. Our kids began playing together like they had never been separated. It’s so nice when you find families that just click with you. 

We squeezed the Airstream into their driveway and they even had an electric outlet that we could run our AC on. A must when in Phoenix (geeze, oh Pete! I don’t think I could ever get used to the heat there)

Driveway Moochdocking

They even let us get some supplies shipped there before we arrived and told us to bring our dirty laundry to do at their place! I mean, who does that? Then there was the “here’s the bathroom, take as many showers/baths as you want” comment that had us all like (heart eyes).

Michelle and Juan made our first ever moochdocking experience a breeze. It was so nice for the kids to be able to play together, use their pool, attend their son’s birthday party. We got to show them our home and we got to see their 1964 GM Bus they’re renovating. We cannot wait for the day we get to go camping together!

Tru Friends Fun

Trujillo’s thank you so much for a great weekend! Your friendship means a lot to us! We’ll see you on down the road!

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https://bareneckers.com/las-cruces-nopaymay-2nd-nomadiversary Las Cruces, #NOPAYMAY, 2nd Nomadiversary 2017-05-24T05:00:00+00:00 2017-05-30T18:48:37+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

This wasn’t our plan. We were supposed to leave Santa Fe and head up into Utah but the weather wasn’t cooperating with us so we changed our plans last minute and found a great little boondocking spot in Las Cruces at the base of the Organ Mountains.

This is where my desire for a drone increased ten fold. I am so anxious to be able to truly capture just how amazing these places are that we are visiting. The Organ mountains were just screaming at us... “I can’t believe you don’t have a way to capture our beauty!” I know, I know...I’m trying!

Airstream In Las Cruces

When we were on our way to Las Cruces, the idea popped into my mind to just try to go the whole month of May without paying for a campsite. Why not? We have all the gear to be able to run what we need to (hello, solar!). We have two 5 gallon jugs that we can haul water to the rig. We can do this! We got this! #NOPAYMAY (you may have read about it here).

Every night we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

Airstream Sunset In Las Cruces

And often, the sight of grazing cows out our window. 

Cows Out The Window

One morning they woke me up by chomping on our tow chains! I scared that cow to death when I sat up in bed! They mooved on quickly. (see what I did there :)

Most of our time was spent catching up on things and enjoying the cooler weather. We hiked at the near by Dripping Springs Natural Area which was really pretty. The hike up to the cave was breath taking (except for the many, many bugs flying around our faces)

Sunset Hike To Cave Hiking To Cave Sunsetting At Cave

We were treated to this view from the top!

View From Top Near Cave

We went on a longer hike that landed us at an old sanatorium and exploring old house and hotel ruins.

Old House Ruins

Just down the road we found another hike (New Mexicans are fit, y’all) that supposedly would lead us to a waterfall. Sweet, it was a hot day and playing in a waterfall sounded perfect!

Hike To Waterfall

Guys...we got to the ‘waterfall’...it was literally a drip running down that dang rock. I mean, really? We need a waterfall to play in. It wasn’t even enough to get our hands saturated. It wasn't even worth getting a picture because you wouldn't be able to tell it was there!

It was a good hike though. Such a beautiful area and it was interesting enough (towards the middle of the hike) to really hold the kids attention and not bore them to death.

Waterfal Hike Sunset

Our kids hate easy hikes where you’re just walking on a flat surface and I agree, that’s boring. We need rocks to climb over and slot canyons and a certain level fear to keep our interest in the hike. This one passed with flying colors!

We arrived in Las Cruces just a couple days before May and on May 2nd we celebrated 2 years of being nomads! 

It has been the hardest and most rewarding 2 years of my life.  We have laughed and cried and screamed and been overwhelmed with so much love and joy. Living in a tiny house on wheels isn’t for everyone but it’s for us and we love it. It is really amazing how little we really need. 

Living with less has been such an eye opening experience. It actually makes me sick to think about much money we wasted when we lived in our huge house. Not only on the house but everything we bought to fill it up. All the ‘things’ that we ‘needed’ was just so unnecessary. Now, let me tell you. I do miss having a place to decorate (and the garden, I really miss my garden). It’s really hard for me not being able to paint rooms again or move around furniture. We had a really, really great house. We just realize now how much of our lives were wasted keeping up with it. 

On our Nomadiversary, we took the day off from work and asked the kids what they would like to do to celebrate our 2 year Nomadiversary and they all were for going back to White Sands National MonumentNo complaints here! 

Kids At White Sands 2Nd Time White Sands Walking Up Dune White Sands Leaving

We love that place. It’s so special. I could stand in that sand all day! The deeper your feet go in the softer and cooler the gypsum sand is. It’s just so fun to play in. 

Ada On Dune At White Sands

We spent a full 2 weeks in this sweet boondocking spot and we enjoyed being only 15 minutes from town but far enough away that it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. The only slightest bit of complaining I have that our ‘neighbor’ up the way liked to run his generator...a lot! But honestly, he was far enough away that it wasn’t a huge deal. If he had been closer, we would have left. The joys of having a home on wheels!

Oh! I nearly forgot! A whole bunch of our time here in Las Cruces was spent working on a new project! I can’t wait to be able to show you but for now...here’s a hint!

Jax In Video With Jon Recording

Guys, this life we live is not perfect. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I just want you to know that we have bad days just like everyone else. Heck, did you know we’ve been driving around without trailer breaks for much longer than I care to admit? (We still haven’t found the problem.) Anyway, we just share our travels as a way to remember the places we have been and to hopefully help someone else who wants to explore the area. Thanks for taking time out of your day to read about our family’s adventures. 

Cheers!

Locations in this post

1

Sierra Vista Campground

Dripping Springs Rd
Las Cruces, NM 88011 USA

2

Dripping Springs Natural Area

15000 Dripping Springs Rd
Las Cruces, NM 88011 USA

3

Bar Canyon Loop Trail

Soledad Canyon Day Use Area
Soledad Canyon Rd
Las Cruces, NM 88011 USA

4

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument
White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico USA

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https://bareneckers.com/hello-santa-fe Hello Santa Fe! 2017-05-22T06:00:00+00:00 2017-05-22T17:40:00+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

Spoiler alert! We were fully or partially compensated for this product/experience so that we could review it for you. Rest assured we don't sugar coat or give favorable reviews just because we didn't have to pay for it. Now you know. Thanks!

After our perfect boondocking site in Roswell, we headed out for Santa Fe in search of cooler temperatures. We found an Alpaca Farm through Harvest Hosts that turned out to be a really great spot for a couple nights. 

We got to meet Bob, the owner of the farm, and he told us about his alpacas and horses. He even had two miniature mules named Romeo and Juliet. They were adorable. Adali was able to get some answers to her questions about alpacas and see what it takes to raise them. This farm even offers mentoring for those interested in starting their own herd. You can go there to learn all you need to know about how to care for your own alpacas. We are keeping this place in mind. When the time comes for Adali to spread her wings, she may just land at an alpaca farm. Who knows?

Alpacas On The Farm

While staying at the farm, we saw we were really close to Pecos National Monument so we took advantage of that on a Sunday morning. 

Kids At Pecos Working On Jr Books

Such a neat small area. The kids were able to complete their Junior Ranger booklets while we were there and earn another badge. 

Pecos Shot

They learned a lot and we just enjoyed being together and exploring new places again. We especially loved being able to climb down into this kiva.

Inside Kiva At Pecos

After the farm, we made reservations at a campground just west of Santa Fe called Cochiti Lake COE. It’s right on the lake. We paid for 5 nights with water and electric hookups and while the site itself was nice, when we saw the primitive campsites down on the water went straight to the office to see if we could move down to a site without hookups! 

Cochiti Lake Airstream

Of course they were happy to change our site for us and we were much happier down by the water away from the crowds.

This campgound is only 5 minutes away from Tent Rocks National Monument which is why we chose to camp here. We couldn’t wait to hike the trails, and they did not disappoint. 

Jax And Ada In Tent Rock

We loved the slot canyon trail! You twist your way through the slots and up to an observation point to overlook the tent rocks. It’s incredible. We have never seen anything like it. 

Tent Rocks

On our way back down we were just talking and enjoying our time when we ran into someone we knew! (what are the odds) Our friends from Belgium that we had met while we were at Big Daddy’s Grill in Fairhope, AL were on their way up the trial. We stopped and talked for a bit and asked them where they planned to camp for the night. They didn’t have any plans so we invited them to camp by us at Cochiti Lake. It was so nice to have neighbors we knew for a couple nights.

Cochilit Lake With Yellow Bus

We had one incident while at the campground. Evidently there was a ‘fight’ about 4 sites up from us. We didn’t hear anything but around 1:00 am we noticed really bright lights at our friend’s site. We looked out the window and saw a police officer looking around their site. Then we heard the officer knock on their van door. What could possibly be going on?

Well turns out the people on the other side of us called the cops due to a fight that broke out 2 sites UP from their site but the officers went two sites DOWN from their site. It was another 30-40 minutes of bright lights as another officer came with his spot light to address the problem. 

In the 2 years of camping, we have never seen an issue like that. Evidently one of the guys in the fight had to go to the hospital that night. Luckily, they were gone the next morning and we had no other issues. 

While visiting Santa Fe, we were able to visit several of their art museums. I had no idea that it was such an artistic town. 

Jett Art Museum Kids At Art Museum

There are sculptures everywhere and so many museums. Jax loved this section of the history museum. He had never seen a phone like this before!

History Museum Jax

We also visited their Botanical Gardens.

Kids On Bridge At Botanical Gardens

It's relatively new so there wasn't much to look at but we enjoyed walking around and looking at all the native plants. 

When we told some friends we were headed to Santa Fe we had several people tell us, "MAKE SURE YOU GO TO MEOW WOLF!" With that many people telling us about it we made sure to check it out. WOAH! If you haven't been, you must go! 

Meow Wolf is an arts production company that creates immersive, multimedia experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of storytelling. Our work is a combination of jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum, and immersive art exhibit. This unique fusion of art and entertainment gives audiences fictional worlds to explore.

It was incredible. 

Meow Wolf Colorful Trees

The amount of work that went into this museum is crazy. There is no way to show you how awesome it is. And it really hard to explain. But, if you in the area, you MUST go!

Red Kids At Meow Wolf Meow Wolf Green

There is an underlying story that you have to basically be a detective and go through this house and all that's in it to find out about this family and what happened but then it opens up into all these secret rooms and it's just nuts. So very interesting. It's hands on, and you get 4 hours to spend inside trying to find out what's going on. It's hands down the best museum/entertainment place we have ever been to. Well worth the price to get in.

When we chose Cochiti Lake Campground it was because of how close Tent Rocks was to us but looking at the map, it appeared that Bandelier National Monument was also close by. Turns out you can’t take a direct route there which would have only been 30 minutes, but instead you have to drive almost in a complete circle to get there. I wish I would have looked that up before. But, it is what it is. We didn’t want to miss Bandelier so we drove the 1.5 hours to get there one afternoon. I am so glad we did, too. 

Girls In The Creek Crossing Creek At Bandalier Small Ladder At Bandalier

We got there just 2 hours before they closed which was just enough time to hike their best trail but it also involved 3 big ladders to get up to the Alcove House. Umm, I’m terrified of heights so I just planned on waiting down below while Jonathan took the kids up. 

When walking through, it was so neat to see how these homes were built into the cliffs. I can’t imagine how much work that would have been. There was a section of the trail that was just these huge rocks and several little homes built into the cliffs. I just couldn’t stop imagining all these families with little ones running around the rocks. It must have been the ultimate playground and the perfect spot for kids to grow up. I mean, how cool would it be to live in a cave in the side of a cliff?

Bandalier Caves

We made our way to the ladders that lead up to the Alcove House. I told them, “I’ll wait for you down here.” 

Kids Going Up Ladder At Bandelier

Just looking at where they were going gave me all the anxiety and I couldn’t look. But standing down there and hearing them be so excited to go up the ladders, I just got an uneasy feeling. We are always telling our kids that they can do hard things. We are constantly telling them to push themselves a little harder because we believe in them and we know the can do it. So, why am I not doing the same thing?

If I want our kids to be brave and do hard things, then I need to as well. 

So, I started up that first ladder. “Just don’t look down” I kept telling myself. It was all I could do to stop shaking. But I made it up that first ladder and caught up to Jonathan and the kids. Together we made it up the other ladders and into the Alcove House. 

Alcove House Kids In The Alcove House

Looking out, I couldn’t believe that I did it. I remained relatively calm and we ate a little snack that we had packed and tried to imagine what it would have been like to call this place home. 

Then we had to go down...ugh.

Going Down Ladder At Bandelier

Even half way down Jett was saying his legs were so shaky. He said, “not from it being hard to do, just because I was scared.” Me too, buddy, me too. We all made it down and Jett said, “I’ll never do that again!” but I don’t believe it. He loves that kind of stuff and now he knows he can do hard things...and so can I.

It seemed to be getting colder every day were were in Santa Fe, and the morning we were to leave, it started snowing! What? NO! We packed up quickly and changed our plans and headed south instead of north to Utah. We found a site in Las Cruces and the forecast warm and sunny! Let’s go!

Locations in this post

1

Blue Mesa Alpacas

10 Blue Mesa Rd
Santa Fe, NM 87508 USA

2

Pecos National Monument

Pecos National Historical Park
Pecos, NM 87552 USA

3

Cochiti Lake COE

82 Dam Crest Rd
Peña Blanca, NM 87041 USA

4

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Veteran Memorial Overlook
Jemez Springs, NM 87025 USA

5

Palace of the Governors

105 W Palace Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501 USA

6

Santa Fe Modern Art Museum

108 Cathedral Pl
Santa Fe, NM 87501 USA

7

Santa Fe History Museum

113 Lincoln Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501 USA

8

Santa Fe Botanical Garden

715 Camino Lejo
Santa Fe, NM 87505 USA

9

Meow Wolf

1352 Rufina Cir
Santa Fe, NM 87507 USA

10

Bandelier National Monument

15 Entrance Rd
Los Alamos, NM 87544 USA

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https://bareneckers.com/roswell Dreaming with the kids in Roswell 2017-05-09T08:30:00+00:00 2017-05-09T18:06:03+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

When we left Texas we came across some giant legs! 

Legs And Airstream

We couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a picture. 

Everyone Between The Legs

Texas is weird in a really good way, but we were ready to explore more of New Mexico. We went through the southern part last year on our way to Oregon for the summer, but we didn’t have time to really explore it like we wanted to. We decided to head towards Roswell after escaping the storms in the Texas panhandle

I searched some blogs and found a place that I thought may be a good fit for us! Haystack Mountain OHV Area was just outside of Roswell, on the edge of a canyon rim, with a covered picnic table, a fire pit (which we couldn’t use due to a fire ban), and even a charcoal grill.

Once I read that it had a covered picnic area I was sold. That means that we won’t have to set up our dinning table every single day and we would get to enjoy our meals outside. We could even hang hammocks to enjoy the shade. If you’ve ever been near Roswell in the spring/summer, you know shade is everything!

When we pulled up to the location, we were so excited. 

Roswell Empty Airstream

There was no one around and the views were gorgeous. There were even vault toilets which can really help in boondocking situations. We couldn’t have picked a better spot. This was our first place to stay off grid for more than a couple days. We ended up staying 4 nights so we could really see what our solar panels could do and how long we could go on a limited supply of water.

It was such a great experience. We learned we really need to work on our water conservation methods. We would have stayed longer if the weather wasn’t so hot. Even in the shade it became a bit uncomfortable for our liking. It was so hot we bought spray bottles so the kids could cool down with water during the day. We would spray our hammocks and lay in the shade and try not to move. You may think that sounds miserable but it was actually just what we wanted.

Our days consisted of hand washing clothes.

Kids Washing Socks

The kids loved washing their own socks. Adali and Jett helped with the other clothes. Hanging our laundry out to dry and saving money on laundromat trips was awesome. Plus, it gave us more shade when we'd relax in our hammocks.

Laundry And Jon And Kids Jax Chiling In Hammock Ada In Hammock

I'm not sure if it was the air or just New Mexico in general but I've never slept so good as I did when we were there in Roswell. I think it's because we were able to hang our blankets and sheets outside every day and there's nothing like falling asleep on fresh smelling sheets and the open windows blowing fresh air in all night. Plus, I think New Mexico has some kind of magic calming abilities. We've felt so at peace here. 

Me In Blanket In Hammock

At night we would grill out on the tailgate with our Davy Crockett Green Mountain pellet grill.

Grilling On Tailgate

It's so nice to cook outside so we don't have to heat up the Airstream with the oven or stovetop. 

We took one day to make it into Roswell to visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center

Outside Aliens With Kids

It was definitely interesting to see all the research. The kids weren't super into it, which is weird because all kids like aliens, right? I think it was just too much to read and not easy to follow visually. Although now, they really want to watch ET. If you're in the area, I'd say go because it's not that expensive. Just don't have high expectations.

The biggest bummer was that the real crash site isn't even in Roswell! It's like 1.5 hours away and supposedly you have to hire a tour guide to take you there. We were really hoping to explore and find it ourselves. Oh well. Now we know.

Inside Aliens With Kids

The best part about going into Downtown Roswell was our lunch spot we found! If you visit, please make it to Big D's Downtown Dive! And you MUST order the garlic fries! Like, woah!

Back at camp, we watched the sunset every night from the picnic table, often laying in our hammocks. We would look at the stars which were SO BRIGHT every night. Not having the glow of the city lights was incredible. You never realize how much light pollution there is until you make it out to a place like this. Complete darkness. Solitude. Quietness. 

Airstream Sunset Roswell Sunet Hammcoks Sunet In Hammocks

It's been so awesome watching the kids grow up so fast while we've been on the road. It's a new found independence and I can see they are much happier with their freedom. It just gives them more time to explore what they are interested in. Adali perfected her egg-in-a-basket breakfast while we were in Roswell. She's becoming more interested in cooking these days.

Adali Making Breakfast

I will always remember this place. Not only because of the great location and views, but because it’s where we got our groove back. The renovation took a toll on our relationships so it was so nice to be together with no distractions. Just us.

During the days, the kids and I would read and talk about their dreams. Telling me about their plan to live on the same property together. They told me of the houses they want to build and the pond that will be in their middle of their homes. In their minds, it’s all planned out.

The girls talked about all the animals they will have on their little farm and how they'll make goat soap from the milk. The boys told me about their plan for Jax to fish all day in the pond so that Jett could run their restaurant on the farm. He even came up with a name for his restaurant. It shall be called, Short Jett Bronze (kind of opposite of Long John Silvers).  

I love that they are best friends and that they like each other enough to want to live together on the same land, working together to create their own lives. I love that with the freedom they have, Adali is always busy reading and researching about the animals. She wants to be prepared for when the time comes to get her own place. Is that normal for an 11 year old? 

Whether or not this happens, I think the most important thing I can do is help them learn about what it takes to make their dreams come true. To really get involved and let them know that it’s possible. We talk about how much things would cost to get a farm started. We talk about barns, fences and different feed options. We research how to build their own houses and all the different options they have. Jax can’t decide if he wants a treehouse or if he wants to live on a dock over their pond. I told him he should have both!

When was the last time you really dreamed with your kids? 

Hammocks And Laundry Hanging

This is why the little spot in Roswell is so special to me. We talked for hours about their plans, and my plans, and what we would do if we had property. We allowed ourselves to dream big. But we also allowed ourselves to believe that all of it is possible. 

The good news is, you don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere to be able to dream with your kids. I would encourage you to really talk with them and ask them about what they want out of life. They may surprise with all the information they know. I couldn’t believe all the facts Adali told me. I had to look up some of it just to make sure she was right, and she was!

Kids are so awesome when we let them be themselves. When we don’t push our ideas on them, and when they’re allowed to truly dream and think for themselves. 

We all agreed that it was getting too hot here, so we packed up and headed north. We headed north to an Alpaca farm! (keeping the dream alive)

Locations in this post

1

Haystack Mountain OHV Area

Clovis Highway
Roswell NM 88201

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Big D's Downtown Dive

505 N Main St
Roswell, NM 88201

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https://bareneckers.com/brake-issues-a-winery-and-palo-duro-canyon-state-park Brake Issues, A Winery and Palo Duro Canyon State Park 2017-05-04T08:00:00+00:00 2017-05-03T23:14:26+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://bareneckers.com/

After leaving Caprock Canyon State Park, we started having a brake issue with our trailer. We kept getting a TRAILER FAULT warning on our dash (our F350 came with a factory brake controller). Jonathan could tell that the when he would push on the brake while towing, if that warning came up on the dash, our brakes were not engaging on the trailer. NOT GOOD!

We called around but being a Friday afternoon we couldn’t find a place that was able to look at it until Monday morning. Okay, so we needed to stay near Amarillo for the weekend in order to be close by the shop when they opened. 

We overnighted at a Walmart parking lot. We saw a storm brewing in the distance and didn’t want to drive any further than we had to with our faulty brakes. 

With nothing else to do, I decided to head out and get our laundry done for the week. When finishing up, I glanced outside and noticed a familiar glow. When I walked outside and looked up, I couldn’t believe what I saw. 

I have NEVER seen clouds like that but the color of the sky mimicked that of a sky I remembered in Indiana right before tornados swept through my hometown. I remember watching one in the distance from our front porch. The sky was a odd golden color and the tree tops seemed to have a different tone to them. I remember the smell in the air and all those memories came flooding back when I walked out the door of the laundromat. 

Boobclouds

I called Jonathan and he too was outside taking pictures of the clouds! It was the coolest experience. I just wanted to stay there watching them blow by. But my momma instincts said to get home to my family. 

The Wal-Mart security guard stopped by to warn us of the storm headed our way. With hail in the forecast and based on the lightning we were seeing, we were slightly worried about the winds and possible tornadoes.

Last minute, the winds shifted and we didn’t even get a drop of rain. We watched lightning around us in the distance, but we slept like babies that night!

Saturday morning came and we were eager to get out of Wal-Mart. We called Monty from a Harvest Host winery and asked if he had a spot we could stay for a couple of nights. He said he sure did! It was only a 20 minute drive which we were thankful for as we were driving with faulty brakes.

We set up and walked around the property before they opened to see what was around. They have a great set up on a hill outside of Amarillo. Beautiful location with the most amazing sunsets over the back patio. 

Barzsunsetpatio

Monty was a great host. He told us some of the history from the area and about a guy who cloned racehorses that lives nearby! Crazy stuff! We love being able to talk to people who really know about the area. It’s the best way to find out all the great spots that only the locals know about!

I couldn’t tell you if the wine we bought is any good because we don’t drink - however, I do have a bottle of 8 year old wine waiting for the next awesome people we meet along our way. Hope we picked a good one! Judging by the crowds at his winery, I’d say it must be pretty good!

Saturday was grocery/meal prep day. We realized that the next day was actually Easter Sunday so I found out that there would be a sunrise service Sunday morning in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We’ve never been to a sunrise service so I thought what a great place to go to our first one! 

We woke up a little after 5:30 AM so we could get to the park around 6 or 6:30. I think I can count on both hands the number of times we’ve ever woke the kids up to go somewhere. They’re not huge fans. But they were troopers and we made it in time to get a seat. I thought it would be a bit more crowded but I’m glad it wasn’t. We knew we were in the bottom of the canyon but all we could see is this setting.

Dark Sunrise Service

But as soon as the sun peeked over the canyon rim, everything was slightly magical.

Sunrise Service

It was a much different service than what we are used to. We come from a large Pentecostal church that has an amazing band. The stage was so awesome. I just kept imagining how awesome it would have been with the band from Park West Church!

Just imagine the music building and just as the sun comes over the canyon everyone is singing loudly about our risen Lord. I built it up in my head too much, I guess. 

We decided to stay in the park for the morning and hike as much as we could. We packed our lunch and lots of water and started with an easy trail. Beautiful doesn’t do it justice. The rushing stream, the singing birds, the humming bees. It was magical. And every hike after was better than the last.

Paloduro Hike Flower Path Kids In The Red Rocks On Hike Ada Semba Kids In Cave

As we made it back to camp, we were treated to a great sunset Sunday night which soon after turned into a bit of a scare. As I was washing dishes, Monty came and knocked on our window and said...”You need to come look at this!” He explained what the clouds were doing and showed us his radar. He let us know that the storm that was just about 30 minutes from us was producing golfball sized hail and producing tons of lightning. He was a bit worried which made us a bit worried. 

We had just bought some Refletix the day before to be able to block out sun from our windows so we took that and taped it to the outside of our windows in preparation for hail damage and prayed that the storm would turn. And you know what? A wind came and blew that storm away from us! You don’t have to tell me who is responsible for that. We have seen God’s hand in every step of our journey over the last 2 years. But seriously, it’s time to get out of the Texas panhandle.

We said our goodbyes and left for our appointment Monday morning. A quick diagnostic suggested what we thought all along - the factory brake controller was acting up. They installed a third party controller and so far, so good. Really hoping that’s all it was.

We realized that in all the weather drama we had neglected to figure out where to go from here. We thought about just heading west to Albuquerque but decided to take the Roswell exit instead! I love the flexibility of being able to just go wherever the wind takes us. 

A quick search on our favorite boondock locating site, Campendium, and we found what turned out to be the most magical location to date. Just wait until you see where we ended up! 

Locations in this post

1

Bar Z Winery

19290 Farm to market 1541
Canyon, TX 79015 USA

2

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5
Canyon, TX 79015 USA

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