A Good Ol’ Texas Winter

Alright everyone, change of plans since our last post. We were going to show you a few of our favorite hikes and campsites from our time in Arkansas, and I know we just told you we wouldn’t be updating our location in real time, but people have been checking in because of the record cold and snow here in the southwest so we thought giving everyone an update on that is more important.

The short answer to all the questions is yes, we’re fine. It’s been ridiculously cold, the kind of cold we left New England to avoid, but we’re making it through just fine in the van. We spent the two coldest nights at a state park campground where we could get a site with a shore power hookup. This allowed us to run a space heater as much as we needed to and still leave the campground fully charged. 

Being such a small space, the van heats up relatively quickly. While it does cool off significantly overnight, we’ve found it never really drops below 10 degrees above the outside temps. Now, I know that sounds horribly cold, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make it extremely difficult to get up in the morning, but hear me out. We have a down comforter, a quilt, and we each have our down sleeping bag/quilt, both of which have a 10 degree rating. So even with as cold as it’s been the past few nights, we’ve been quite comfortable. It just takes a special kind of pep talk to get out of bed in the morning.

Sometimes the best option is to start working from bed
I wish we could say this is the lowest we’ve seen inside

As two native New Englanders it’s been interesting to see how this weather has been handled in this part of the country. The snow and ice is nothing by our standards, but Texas just doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle something like this.

Our first taste of this record-breaking southwest winter weather came on Friday last week. We had spent Thursday night just off the highway and woke up to the trees and ground covered in ice. Since it was a work day we decided to stay put and work as long as we could tolerate the cold, then take a lunch break to drive to another spot to finish out the day. So far this has been a good system for us if we want to move around during the week. It’s a good way to break up the driving and it allows us to heat up the van before stopping again.

These lunch break drives typically go off without a hitch. However, Friday was not a typical day. Maybe 15 – 20 minutes into the drive we found ourselves at a crawl on the highway. Another half hour after that we were at a complete stop. We’re not sure exactly how long we were parked there, our best guess is somewhere in the range of 3 – 3.5 hours. From what we could tell based on traffic reports and DOT social media updates, they’d completely closed a section of the highway up ahead of us to clear the inch of snow and ice.

People were getting out of their cars to walk around and stretch out, kids were playing catch in the ditch, and the long stretch of bushes and cacti along the right side of the road became an improvised bathroom. I honestly don’t know if we’ve ever felt more grateful to be so self contained. For us, being parked on the highway was no different than sitting in a parking lot, or a driveway, or a forest service road. We simply pulled out our laptops and continued our normal workday. With our kitchen right behind us we could still make lunch as we’d planned to do at our next stop, and I could drink all the tea I wanted without having to worry about peeing behind a blanket on the side of the road. All in all, this was a good reminder of just how lucky we are. 

We finally got moving again late in the afternoon and spent that night along a scenic loop a little ways off the highway. The area in which we pulled off for the night was the first place it really felt like we were somewhere different. Granted, it might have hit us sooner if there wasn’t snow and ice covering so much, but this particular pull out was our “oh sh*t, we’re really here” moment.

The view from our Friday night spot
Not quite the way we expected to enter the desert
Everything was covered in ice

From there, we went on to Davis Mountains State Park, where we spent Saturday and Sunday nights at an actual RV site with a power hookup. This was the first time we’ve done that since hitting the road, and while we might have been fine without it, we decided to play it safe just in case. The park lost power on Monday morning as we were trying to start working (we’d planned on using their wifi since there was no cell service), so that answered our debate of whether to stay another night. Thankfully our batteries were already fully charged by that point.

The state park was great, we thoroughly enjoyed the day and a half we were there. Saturday afternoon we went for a run on one of the trails that sort of followed along a scenic drive, and when I say run, I really mean a humbling shuffle up a mountain. Let’s just say it was a solid reminder that we’re not at sea level anymore.

On Sunday we managed to get in a 12 mile hike, despite the below-freezing temps. The trail we took switchbacked up to the top of a plateau, looped around the top of it, then went back down the way we went up. As with any frigid winter hike, the last mile or so of this one was spent discussing what to cook for dinner when we got back to the campsite.

The view from the top

Of course, the day couldn’t end without another little adventure, if you want to call it that, and we wrapped up our Sunday with the loss of our inverter. I’ll spare you the details, but basically for us no inverter means no electric kettle and no space heater; not something you want to be dealing with in this weather. We ended up running an extension cord out one of the front windows to run the heater directly from the shore power. It was way too cold to have the back doors open to troubleshoot in the electrical box, and any possible problem that could be fixed from inside required parts we didn’t have.

As I mentioned, the campground lost power on Monday morning right as we were settling in for the work day. It could have been worse though, we still had to troubleshoot the inverter issue, and we had quite a bit of driving to do if we needed to get to an open hardware store. Chances are, any town with an open hardware store probably also had enough cell service for us to work.

We ended up pulling off at another scenic pullout along the way, and while we were there the sun came out enough that we decided to deal with the inverter, since having the back door wide open wasn’t as bad if we were at least in full sun.

Wild Rose Pass

Monday ended up being a fairly long driving day. It was not the day we had planned, and it did mean I ended up having to work while we drove, which is not at all a thing I like to do. However, there was a bright side to it. We started the day in snowy Texas, but we ended the day a bit farther north, just over the New Mexico border. There was still a bit of snow our first night, but I’ll tell you, the desert sunset and sunrise makes it worth it.

Monday morning
Tuesday Morning

4 thoughts on “A Good Ol’ Texas Winter

  1. Hi, Annie! Thank you for posting and describing your latest adventures and reassuring everybody. I bet people in their cars were so jealous of you guys at that highway stop. Your photos are magnificent! 🤗


    1. We felt bad that we didn’t have much to offer to people around us! I did see several people get out and grab stuff from their back seat or trunk though, so it seemed like most people did have water and snacks at least.


  2. Thanks for all the updates! Well done in going with the flow and making the best of all the “bumps” in the road. Totally agree, the photos are magnificent!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: