The International – Bar & Restaurant

So the hubby and I were attending an awesome street fare last week in El Paso called Chalk the Block. See the review HERE. We were having a great time. Since, we brought our fur baby, we decided to eat at a local dog-friendly bar and restaurant instead of the food trucks. Needless to say it was disappointing.  But not the beer. The beer was amazing. If you want the details, click the link to my #YELP review.

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Chalk the Block

So in our efforts to take in as much of the local flavor during our travels, we came across an event in El Paso, TX called “Chalk the Block.” The downtown area of El Paso was blocked off and local artists were given chalk and a space of concrete sidewalk to create masterpieces.

We also ran across Matte finished vehicles that the artists were given license to create on as well. To us, the results were stunning.

There was some real innovation in 3D art happening there. To get the true feel of it, you will need to enlarge the photos below on your computer screen, download the app on your phone, and scan the image: Click Here for App Link. Once loaded, you can see the actual photos come to life!

We have now figured out we need to add at least 30 min to each planned outing that we take Brini to because she loves attention and she is sooooo cute that folks just have to stop and pet her in all her excited glory!

They did not leave the kiddies out of the equation. They were given chalk and an area they could express their inner artist as well!

This event was complete with food trucks and so many weight-adding options that smelled delightful and were a sensory over load!P1010510.jpg

This was an amazing event and we highly recommend you pay it a visit should your travels have you in the El Paso area in early October.  (Leigh here. We did stop to enjoy the fare at a local restaurant that didn’t go so well. But I’ll post that under the Beer blog)

Til Next time
Peace and Blessings
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What we miss…

We have been back home for some time now and are fully immersed in our life as full-time RV’ers. We absolutely loved living in South Africa. We had such a great time visiting the various historical places we got to see and tasting the traditional South Cuisine cuisine. (Leigh here – Can anyone say, Peri Peri sauce?) We loved seeing Soweto and the capture site at Howick Falls. We loved seeing all the animals in their natural habitat in Kruger National Park. The best thing, however, was the relationships formed and the many people we got to meet during our time there.
I miss the morning walks. The times I got to see the city of Johannesburg come to life. I miss the driving beat that the city possessed all its own. I miss the free and open debates that were part of a regular rotation of discussions by the Consciousness Cafe on post-apartheid South Africa and how best to move forward as a unified country. I would love to get involved in something like it here in the USA. We need it just as much as they do.

 


We miss the many fun times we shared with Charlene, Mpume, Tiseke, and Cmba at clubs and fine dining establishments. Our Thanksgiving crew, the Johannesburg Couchsurfers. Dez, Prisca, Elliot, Weng, Merushka, Naill, Sanele, Rejoice, Paulina, Freddy, & Ayuk…Plus, many others.

To that end, we also miss the frequent meetings with the lovely couple Sam and Thato… Wish we could have still been there for the birth of their first child.

 


We miss Leigh’s Pen-pal from childhood Thato (I have known him since high school. I got to meet my pen pal!) and his sister, Josephine, who’s hospitality on short notice was amazing.

We miss Yuniya who was so gracious to show us around to make our acclimation to South African life as smooth as could be.
We miss all of the lovely faces and the spirit of all the students & staff at Maharishi Institute that brightened so many days for us by simply being. Way too many folks there to name. I can’t mention the school without mentioning Meghan and her lovely mother.
We miss our adopted South African daughter, Zandile, (She gives the absolute best hugs) whose name we couldn’t pronounce right until just before time for us to leave. Lol, We miss your smile!
There are many, many more that we could name and I am certain we will get to them in future posts. Just know that we carry you all with us and treasure every moment we shared with our brothers and sisters across the water! Now come on over to the U.S. for a visit. We miss ya!

 

Til next time

Peace and Blessings

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Hidden Beach Resort!

20170903_192535We are on our way to Anthony New Mexico to hang out for a couple of months and see how we like it there. One of the perks of being a full-time RV’er is your home is on wheels and you can drive it anywhere your heart …and the roads will allow you to go. Leigh and I have followed some of the advice other full timers have given us about travel. No need to reinvent the wheel. We try and limit our driving time to four hours a day where we can help it.
So our first leg of the journey to New Mexico had us stopping in Blythe, Ca. We located a few pet-friendly RV sites and sent emails to the ones that we found interesting and in our price range… we are ballin’ on a budget here! Strangely only one resort answered back in a timely fashion. Hidden Beach Resort!


This place was awesome! We got a river front spot at off season rates even though it was a holiday weekend. The view was fantastic! The weather was perfect and the folks we met that night made it even more of a big deal than we could have imagined. Great conversation, grilled ribs, karaoke, Jack Daniels with a pickle juice chasers, and the list could go on and on! It was a great night that lasted way longer than it should but time tends to fly when you are having fun with good people no matter how old you get.

We were bummed we could only stay for one night but we will definitely be back to grace the shores of this river front oasis once a gain!
We are finding more and more how awesome folks in the RV community are and we are so glad that we made the leap and live this way full time! We are having a blast!

Til next time
Peace and Blessings
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Moving Gardens

Living on the road has been a blast for us so far. We have traveled across this nation from east coast to west coast. We have stopped at some pretty cool sites. Camp grounds, BLM lands, and even cool Walmarts.  We have added Brini, our precocious rescue puppy to the mix and now to top it off we are … shall I say Leigh is growing a garden. Yes, it seems to be possible to grow some of our own vegetables and herbs while we are on the road.  Here are a few shots from the start. We will keep you posted as to the products used and the progress made!

It’s home!

So we have been slowly going over all the functions and features of our home. In between trips to campgrounds, boondocking, and staying with friends it is hard to find time to modify our Foretravel. Like any home or vehicle if you aren’t the first owner it is normal to want to add your own touches to make it all your own.  Beyond the simple things like linens and curtains, you seek to make A home feel like YOUR home!

The carpet in our RV was serviceable. It had some age on it but it was well maintained and in good repair. The color went well with the rest of the interior but it was just something that was off. So we decided to replace it while boondocking at a friends house in Huntington Beach, CA. Who knew it was such a painstaking ordeal to pick out a floor for a space just a tick under 100 square feet. The endless comparisons of laminate or hard wood? How much does it weigh? …Weight is a constant concern for life on the road in an RV! Is the floor tough enough to stand up to the precocious nature of one Brini snuggle-butt Holmes? A soon to be 40 lb boxer mix that thinks the world is here for her and seems to have a mission to turn over as much water as she can.

 

We settled in on a beachy whimsy flooring that we thought would look fine and suited us. We went to Lumber Liquidators intent on buying said floor. Needless to say we were struck by another flooring choice as we were walking up to the counter and changed our minds. We think the results are fantastic!

I have to say this floor turned out way better that we imagined and it makes our little space really feel like HOME!

 

 

Til next time

Peace & Blessings

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A Nomad Addition

20017558_10155534906084265_3997906040985030207_oSo we have been traveling around the country in Stevie J., our 1990 Foretravel. This adventure has been filled with great pleasure, expensive repairs, and all other sorts of highs and lows but we would not trade a single second of it. We are a very loving couple. You know, the kind that folks say make them sick but secretly want to have that type of relationship. We have the good fortune of enjoying spending every second together without straining our bonds and depths of our affection for each other. It is a wonderful thing to possess with our chosen lifestyle.

Needless to say, we have lots of love to give, and now have expanded our nomadic family unit to three. Brini “Snugglebut” Holmes is the newest addition to our journey. She is a Boxer mix and she stole our hearts from just a photo. We had been discussing rescuing a dog to add to our family but had decided we wanted to get better at this nomadic thing as we are newbies and still learning to take care of ourselves on the road. We figured another six months or so, One picture and an explanation of the situation and, like so many of our plans, that was out of the window. Leigh and I hopped into Gizmo, our Geo Tracker, and were off to San Antonio, TX.

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Did you guys know that Phoenix, AZ is almost the same temperature of the sun? I’m kidding…sort of, but it was pretty hot along the way and I could have sworn I saw the Devil and a few of his Imps making a visit for some R&R while passing through. The heat was so intense that our beloved gizmo needed the clutch replaced before we could move on. A small matter (Did he just say a thousand dollar car repair was a small matter?  He is so bougie) and we were on our way to pick up precious cargo and would not be deterred!

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We arrived in San Antonio at the designated spot on the Riverwalk. Green Vegetarian Cuisine is a vegan restaurant that is very highly rated. If you know me, you know that I am a carnivore to the core. I tell folks when Lions and Eagles become vegetarians I will also. Until that day comes I will never surrender. Now I have on occasion enjoyed a meal or two prepared with no meat and managed to survive so this was not foreign to me but I must say I was totally floored by the Fish and Chips sold at this establishment! I would have bet a significant sum of cash on the fact that I was eating cod over some perfectly cooked fries. Let me tell you, they were delicious. My only complaint is that it was not enough for me. Mere mortals would have been satisfied with the three pieces portioned for this meal but I have a healthier than normal appetite and would like to have had a few more pieces to satisfy the little man in the tummy (That cracks me up...little man in the tummy…lmbo).

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Thank you, Angela, for not only bringing this little ball of joy into our lives but for the great suggestion of this restaurant and wonderful conversation. It was such a pleasure to meet you and your daughter and we will have to cross paths again just to see you and reunite the brother and sister for play dates! You are the best.

As you can imagine, life on the road, trying to crate-train a rambunctious puppy has been nothing short of insanity. I have the ability to write this blog because Leigh was gracious enough to mind the baby last night as she rebels against our loving training. So I will be back at it again tonight… wish me luck. We are loving Brini and she is adjusting to boundaries and limitations like a boss. It was a hot long trip back to Huntington Beach and we are settling in for a while helping out a friend. Hopefully, this helps in the training of Brini and gets her ready for her life as a Nubian Nomad! We are in love!

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Life on the road!

 

So we picked up our (New-to-us) 1990 Foretravel Grand Villa U225 less than a week ago and we are in love. Not only with the vehicle but the nomadic lifestyle in general. I don’t want to give the impression that it is all roses and daisies but we love it nonetheless. We got a really good deal on a top of the line motorhome and even though it had some use on it, it looks great and is very comfortable for the life we plan to lead. We knew when dealing with a vehicle/home of this age there would be things along the way that needed repair, replacement or just general maintenance for us to be secure in our travels. We did our due diligence and feel comfortable with our decision no matter what comes along.
The first pocket punch came at pick up from the shop we had to give it a once over. Needed new tires! Now in RV terms you rarely wear out tires they generally need to be replaced due to time. That was our case … The account is still feeling the pain. Six RV sized tires can cost as much as a good used car. Safety is always our first concern so it was a no-brainer no matter how painful it was. Cost us an extra day to go along with the sticker shock but we were happy to be on our way!
After returning the rental car in Charlotte, NC, we drove through part of the night to Gaffney, SC, where we boondocked for the night at a 24 hour Wal-Mart. Ashton, the night manager, was super helpful in telling us where to park and giving us permission for the overnight stay! After some shopping, exuberant I might add, we settled in for the night lulled to sleep by only the distant hum of a truckers diesel engine as white noise.

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The next morning was peaceful and serene as the shifts started to change and the shoppers started to pour in. We made ready for departure as we planned a rendezvous with Deidre Leaver-Dunn, a high school classmate that I had not seen since graduation in…19xx. She is a lady and a southern gentleman would never reveal the age of such. As fate would have it…more like our complete newbie status…we would not be able to keep our appointed deadline. Driving a 22K lb RV at 55-60 MPH, it is impossible to make up time as you would in a car over the course of a trip. We are a little smarter now and take that into consideration when planning our destinations. Thank you, Deidre, for the recommendations. Both Lake Lurleen and the Metro Diner were great. Leigh and I enjoyed a peaceful night’s rest with full hookups and a front door view of the lake. In a word, stunning! The breakfast at Metro Diner was awesome as well and we cannot wait to get back for a longer visit to meet Tate man and the rest of the gang!

 

 

On to Arlington, Texas… As travels would have it there are tests for any new driver and I am no exception. Heavy rain and jammed highways make for a fun day of travel. Add in a surging accelerator on a large vehicle and there were some tense moments. I was spent pulling into the Treetop RV park but the friendly folks there saw to our needs and were a great joy to deal with. The folks we met at the park were top-notch. Fast Eddie was awesome! After we connected on RVillage he came by our site and gave us the lay of the land. He introduced us to Dave whom we have dubbed Mr. Foretravel! From memory, he talked me through the mysterious systems that have alluded my grasp for the whole two weeks we have owned it! I can now fill and drain the tanks with fresh water. We also know where the secret compartment is. Mind you we had no clue it even existed! It has been such a pleasure to meet fellow RV’ers on the road and we love the community. We were so bummed we could only stay one-night RV’ers are awesome!
The next day’s journey started great. No problems and smooth sailing along…Until we were 90 miles outside of Lubbock, Texas. A loud popping sound startled us. It was the result of a suspension bolt sheering off. Luckily for us, the friends we were going to visit were in Lubbock and just so happen to work in the car industry. Crosby and Liesl were very gracious hosts. Putting us up for an extra night and giving us a quick peek into life at the home of Texas Tech Red Raiders! We will most definitely come back when we can spend more time as we treasure our friends and our friendships.
So to be clear we are over 1500 miles into our cross-country journey and we have replaced tires and had a suspension bolt break off, lost 72 hours of travel time to both issues but are having a blast still. Onward to Holbrook, Arizona. Having rested with our friends in Lubbock and the suspension issue resolved, we headed on with our plans to stay in OK RV park. Both parks we stayed at were gracious enough to allow us to move our dates back to accommodate our on-the-road issues and we are very grateful. On a fuel stop, I happened to notice hot green liquid spewing from the rear of the coach… Grrrrrrrrrr! Turns out there was a leak caused by an object of some kind hitting our radiator core. We traveled on watching the temperature gauge like a hawk. There was a TA center not far from our location and we made it. Only to find out this location only works on trucks and not potentially stranded RV owners. Luckily for us across the way was a Truck stop shop that was willing to take a look and managed to pinch off the damaged section and we were underway once again. Only 400 miles between us and OK RV park! Still mindful of the temperature gauge and stopping ever so often to check for leaks (Pleased to report there were none), We marched on. Thanks to Josie and Lorna for setting up a late check-in for 2 weary travelers! Lorna even doubled back about the time we said we would be in and showed us to our spot. We were very appreciative!

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The next day we decided it prudent to call up a mobile RV service to give Stevie J’s cooling system a once over and make sure there would be no further trouble … at least from that system! We even stayed an extra night just to decompress and game plan for the next few days because our next stop would be California, a mere 615 miles away. If you are keeping score that is 3 major incidents and delays on our epic adventure!
Still in love and loving our lifestyle choice …bank account, not so much but the ever prepared Leigh Lester-Holmes put us in a position to make this dream a reality and it was all taken in stride.
The last leg of the trip went without a major incident of the breakdown sort. There were some scary moments like the awning caught hold of some pretty brutal wind gusts and partially unraveling while in motion. Imagine being on the side of the road in high winds and dust trying to manually roll up a 10-foot awning with a broken spring by hand…it ain’t for the faint of heart! Leigh was a big help and all the athletic training of my youth paid off big time as we got that thing back up in those conditions. Speaking of high winds, being in the right lane on mountain sides where you can see over the edge with said high winds forcing you closer to that edge is no day at the beach either. This made for more than a few moments of trepidation …well in real talk we were scared sh&^*less on more than one occasion!
I can tell you that there were no happier two people to arrive in Huntington Beach, Californa to stay with our friends. Special thanks to the Swaroops! We love and appreciate you so much words cannot express! We are here safe and sound. Next order of business is to get our things loaded and take care of some maintenance overlooked by the first company that checked out the vehicle. As stated earlier we are in love and we are loving the ability to take our house with us everywhere we go!

Til next time
Peace and Blessings
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Back Home!

20170411_065651_001So it has been a little while since our last post. With all the farewell parties while in Johannesburg coupled with all the welcome back greetings in California, sandwich in a work trip to Atlanta combined with picking up our travel trailer and beginning our nomadic lifestyle. To say it’s been a whirlwind, seems to be the understatement of the century! We are super excited and constantly on the move but life has been a constant case of fun with family and friends and endless adjustments (This is Leigh…and work. he keeps forgetting work). We have changed our plans since we left South Africa no less than ten times and have now resolved ourselves to just making plans on a month to month basis to remedy the situation (For those of ya’ll who know me & my A-type personality, I am going a bit crazy, but I am learning to cope). The funny thing is as I am typing this post, we are contemplating adjusting our plans again to accommodate both work and travel situations. Brings to mind a DMX tune…”here we go again.” Lol. Such is life!
We would like to thank all of our South African family for such a warm send off and the persistent feeling of home we felt while in your company. We are eternally grateful and humbled by your hospitality. We feel completely loved and accepted and are already planning our return trip (In pencil, of course). We are also holding to task those of you that promised us that you would come to the USA. We look forward to returning the warm hospitality. We are waiting to hear from you!
We are also really thankful for those of you here at home that greeted us so warmly and welcomed us back to our native soil. We have not been able to see everyone yet but know that you are on the list and we are moving in that direction as quickly as we can!
So on to this intoxicating lifestyle of ours.

We picked up our travel trailer on April 14th and I have to say for me it was all that I had hoped for and all that Leigh and I had discussed. We stayed at a KOA RV park in Las Vegas the first night we got it. The small quarters were quite cozy and intimate. There was enough room for the things that we brought along with us to get settled in. The second night we decided to stay on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) and see what this boondocking phenomenon was all about. We found a piece of land where I-40 and Historic Route 66 intersect in Ludlow California. The space was clear and there were no other visitors staying that could be seen (Some showed up later, but left driving further into the abyss). The view was breathtaking. Mountains surrounded us and we were able to view a spectacular sunset over the crest of a mountain top! So yeah! Now we get the whole boondocking thing. We look forward to more and more opportunities to do so! Something about being out in nature with our home and a panoramic view that sets the soul free and we are hooked! OMG! Words cannot describe the bliss we felt waking up to such serenity.


Now on to moving past the last vestiges of our former life. Betty our beloved Mercedes has now moved on to a new owner. Breezy my BMW X5 has also found a new home, both gone on to family and friends that will love and appreciate them as much as we did. Bonus is at least get to see them when we come to visit and maybe even get to take a drive still! (That was his baby ya’ll)20170521_110730
On the flip side, we picked up Gizmo, our tow vehicle, a 1995 Geo Tracker. It is a fun little vehicle that we think will make a great grocery getter when we are out on the road and need to get to places that **Stevie, our new-to-us 36ft Foretravel dare not go! Thank you, Becky and Joey, for your hospitality and generosity during the purchase. It was great to meet like-minded folks and the homemade Enchiladas were amazing! (They made me want to slap my momma!) We look forward to seeing you guys on the road. Speaking of our land yacht, we are here in North Carolina only days away from taking possession of our new home (Every second feels like a year…seriously). Just a few adjustments left to make at the shop and we will be on our way. Special thanks to Momma Jean and Poppa Jim for being our rock and helping to make all of this possible with your support and love! We love ya’ll to the moon & back.


We are super excited to get going. Plotting and planning places to visit and stay for a while is part of the fun and we cannot wait to get going. (tick, tic, tic, tic)
Til next time

Peace and Blessings!
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