Category Archives: Robin Blog

We needed a good paddlin’

It seems like we are constantly figuring out new things about ourselves as we explore this beautiful country. One of the things we have learned recently is how much we enjoy kayaking/canoeing together and with friends.
We have always known that it is something we enjoy but after having 3 outings in the last month, we have realized how much we enjoy it.kayak4

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Up a Creek…

After making it through the very rainy month of June in Ohio, we spent the first day of July kayaking in Alum Creek just north of Columbus with wonderful friends Pat and Denny.


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No UFO’s found in Roswell’s Bottomless Lakes State Park

Written by:  Robin

We headed up to Roswell for a week on our way to Albuquerque.  I was full of anticipation to check out what I remembered from my childhood as a unique funky town.  I had announced my intention to visit the Roswell UFO Museum and hear what “really happened” with the mysterious crash of 1947 as well as hear the conspiracy theories about the alien autopsies that were allegedly carried out at the Roswell base.  FUN!!!!   As we drove through the town to make our way to Bottomless Lakes State Park, I quickly felt my anticipation fade to disappointment as I realized that what seemed cool to me as a kid…just felt cheesy now. Alienneonsign_edited-1 UFO museum2As we drove out of town we realized that the park was a bit further from Roswell than we realized so I decided that I would just let it go…and would not likely be venturing into town to explore much anyway.  I was driving this time, and my disappointment soon turned to anxiety as our GPS became confused and the directions I got when I called were making less sense the further we drove.  Wondering if there were mysterious forces messing with me because of my disbelief, we made our way down the very sketchy, narrow road that seemed to be heading to nowhere.

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Happily, after 7 miles of white knuckle driving, we saw a beautiful bright blue lake and some RV’s, so we knew we had made it.  It was starting to feel better already.  e were greeted by the campground host, Deb who upgraded us to a nice big pull through spot because they were first come, first served…and we were early!  As I began to look around at the beautiful area, I decided that maybe I should adopt Jeremy’s philosophy of the natural attractions being the ones we seek out, rather than the man made.

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This state park quickly became one of our favorites.  Here are some reasons why…

Geology….This was the first state park in New Mexico, established in 1933.  Apparently these “bottomless lakes” are actually an ancient limestone reef that formed caverns (not all that different from Carlsbad where we had just visited).  The nearby Pecos River eroded away the rock which collapsed the caverns and formed the 9 small but deep lakes, which are actually cenotes. They are fed by underground water percolating through the rocks. IMG_4760 (1024x683)

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This makes most of them salt water rather than fresh, because of the limestone.  This was GREAT news for hank, who loves to swim but breaks out in hives from most fresh-water environment.  Swimming was a regular activity for him that week.

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Rufus wasn’t as excited about the swimming, but Puperoni’s and some coaxing got him in the water a little bit!rufus almost swam (1024x768)


History….They are not actually bottomless, but range in depth from 18-90 feet.  They got their name because the cowboys who named them were trying to figure out their depth and tied two or three ropes together and drop them into the lakes to try to reach the bottom. The ropes were not long enough, so they thought the lakes were bottomless! The greenish-blue color created by algae and other aquatic plants also added to the illusion of great depth.  There was lots of great hiking around the lakes.  Deb even told us about a “buffalo killing field” that we could hike to.  We decided to stick to the lakes!one of the lakes (1024x683)


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Mystery….other tall tales and folklore abound.  There are two lakes called the Figure 8 lakes, that are side-by-side.   One tells of a horse that fell into one of these lakes, drowned, and was pulled out of the other. Also, numerous objects  have been reportedly lost in the lakes, only to be retrieved later from Carlsbad Caverns or even the Gulf of Mexico! There are stories of strong underground currents that suck divers and swimmers deep into the bowels of the Earth, never to be seen again! Just when you thought that was enough intrigue…the Bottomless Lakes also have stories of monsters that are said to be giant turtles that lurk in the depth!  So…there…who needs UFO’s and aliens anyway!

Peace…As it was early in the season the park was only half-full.  This made for many lazy afternoons in the sun, which we were really getting for the first time in about 4 months.  It was such a cold and rainy winter on the gulf-coast that we went a little crazy now that we had sun and warmth.  No distractions of a city or town…just the few of us campers nestled in the warm, sunny desert.  Ahhhhhhh…….

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Beauty….not only was this a great state park with HUGE spaces…it was very well kept.  There was an entire extra space in between each spot, so there was plenty of room to breathe!  Deb also told me about Pecos Diamonds, and gave me a map of where I could go to “hunt” them and a sample of her own so I would know what to look for.   Instead of visiting the UFO museum, one afternoon I set out solo to some remote land and went hunting.  She was right, once I learned what to look for…I couldn’t stop seeing them. (except when I got distracted by other pretty things…)20140325_140836 (1024x768)

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Character….Deb, what else can I say…excellent and kind campground host!  There were also others who are worthy of mention… a family who frequents the park, and sets up a MONSTER tent for 2 weeks at a time.  They don’t have an RV, but they did pull up in a big U-Haul, which carried their tent and the houseful of furniture and supplies they needed for two weeks…I felt like I was on the set of M*A*S*H!

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We met several friendly folk during our stay.  There was one, though, who we never met…who stayed in his BMW with the windows tarped, spoke to no one and occasionally emerged to take an hour trip to town or to walk to the restroom.

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Seemed creepy at first, but Deb assured us that they had their “eye’ on him…  We couldn’t figure out exactly what his story was…strangest camping neighbor yet…who knows, maybe I got to see my alien after all!

We enjoyed our week much more than we expected.  What a wonderful addition to our visit to the “Land of Enchantment”!!  It was actually hard to leave…but it was time to get back to a city so we could work, so off to Albuquerque we went.

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Live, Breathe and Drive a Big@$$ Truck

Written by: Robin

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I have been driving now for 29 years, so I have some experience.  About once a month I speak publicly for 8 hours in front of 40 strangers, so I am not a coward.  So, I am not sure why I have been such a chicken when it comes to pulling our 5th wheel travel trailer.  Last week I had no choice but to jump in and do it.  I cannot remember the last time I felt as nervous as I did the first time I pulled away with the trailer attached.  However, I have logged about 7 hours so far, and made my way through downtown Kansas City in the process!

I am lucky to have a very good mentor in my husband.  Not only has he let me ease in to it by doing only what I am comfortable with, he has given me all kinds of tips and advice, and most important when I am behind the wheel he trusts me completely.  More than I trust myself.  In my mind, I was letting the physical difference between me and this giant rig get the best of me.  He reminded me that it is no different than conquering anything…let go of the fear.  I had to approach it the same way that I approach anything that is scary (skydiving, scuba diving, public speaking, etc..). I had to convince myself that it is really no big deal and that as long as I believe that I can do it, breathe deeply and most of all…allow myself to be a novice, everything will be just fine.

When I work with teachers, I am constantly reminding them what research has taught us about becoming an expert.  Expertise comes slowly (some researchers say it takes 10 years) and only then with constant practice and reflection.  I used to think the opposite of “expert” was “dummy”…now I know that it is “novice”.  To get better at something, you have to practice…a lot.  Then, you have to reflect on your mistakes and figure out a way to avoid them before you practice again.  It helps if you can discuss them with someone else who is learning to do the same thing, as two heads are better than one.  I am lucky that my peer is about six months ahead of me and can help me avoid some of the rookie mistakes.

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Which brings me back to breathing deeply.  You can’t practice something if you are too afraid to try it.  I found myself many times in those first seven hours having to loosen my grip on the wheel (as my knuckles were turning white), slow down and take three very deep breaths.  That always did the trick to help me stay centered and stop freaking out because that semi came too close, or there is a super skinny construction zone for the next five miles. The more uptight I got, the more the trailer would sway; as I loosened up (both mentally and physically) it would settle back down.  Tight but loose.   The tight part is about paying attention; to the many gauges which tell me if my engine is doing ok, to who/what is going on in the lanes around me, to the directions that I need to be following, to the clearance marked on bridges and overpasses, etc… so things do need  to be monitored tightly.  The loose needs to be my state of mind, specifically my anxiety.   If all of the evidence that I am monitoring says everything is OK…then I need to trust in that…and relax.  I might go slightly over the line on the shoulder, I am noticing everyone else does occasionally too.  I might be driving too slowly for some, but maybe I am giving them a chance to practice their patience. (haha)

RV Lesson #3:  My advice for those new to towing an RV is to slow down, breathe, let go of your fear and prepare yourself to not be perfect…yes it’s a huge piece of machinery you are operating, but the power of the mind is much more powerful!