Saguaro Cactus

A saguaro cactus in bloom

As I stand in the garage preparing for a garage sale, I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of crap stuff surrounding me.  I’ve never thought of myself as a packrat.  Nope, no hoarder here, but there’s plenty of stuff making for a nice sale.

Ever since our return from our winter RV excursion to the desert southwest, we’ve cleared out closets, emptied the basement, cleaned cabinets in the kitchen, and are now organizing the garage all in preparation to put the house on the market.


Parked at our son’s house in Phoenix, Arizona

Two weeks ago we drove to our son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, for a long weekend.  We took a trailer load of furniture and knick-knacks to give to our son as well as some items to store in his garage.  It was so nice to be greeted with 80 degree temperatures.  Bring out the shorts and flip-flops….yeah….happy dance!

I was also excited to see the desert in bloom.  I had never personally seen a Saguaro Cactus in bloom until this trip.  The vegetation in my son’s subdivision was alive with color.  The trees were covered in yellow and blue blossoms, the prickly pear were adorned with velvety yellow blooms, and the ocotillos sported a feathery maroon blossom.  I couldn’t help but smile as I strolled the neighborhood.

The guys unloaded the trailer, and I had a blast playing decorator and designer.  I was back in my element, doing something I love.  Son had to calm me down from bringing out the paint supplies or sledge-hammer.  Since it’s his house and his nickel, the remodeling will begin on a much slower schedule than I’m used to.  Ah yes, no loss for a project next winter.


a little decorating at son’s house

Back to my house, my project, and the term packrat.  Until our winter stay in Arizona, I did not know the “real” meaning of packrat.  I always associated the term with a person who is a hoarder.  Packrats are rodents who are interested in nest-building.  They are nocturnal and will spend their nights scavenging for building materials.  They love the hunt for really cool things that can become part of their nest.  They particularly like shiny objects and are drawn to the chrome on a vehicle.  Oh, and all those yummy wires and engine parts make for wonderful nest-building.

rope lightingDuring our stay at Cave Creek Regional Park, we noticed quite a few RVer’s using rope lighting outside.  The rope lighting was laid on the ground underneath their rig.  Al and I were somewhat perplexed as to why.  Is this some new trend I’m unfamiliar with? On one of my evening strolls around the Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson, Arizona, I noticed all the camp hosts with lots of rope lighting.  One or two ropes under the RV and then another one or two under their vehicle.  On this same stroll, numerous truck hoods were open or hoods were ajar with a flashlight turned on inside the engine compartment.

It was a cold night and few campers were out and about.  I finally came across a gentleman who was in the process of propping his hood up.  “Excuse me sir.  What’s going on with all the hoods opened”?  He responds in a slight southern drawl, “Packrats, ma’am”.  In a questioning tone, I ask “Packrats?”  “Yes ma’am.  From what I hear, there’s packrats round these here parts.  There’s a full moon tonight and since packrats like it nice and dark, we’re propping our hoods to let the moonlight in.  Some folks use them there rope lights to ward off the packrats”.  As I wave goodbye, I say “Thank you, sir.  Have a good evening”, and rush back to the rig to share this info with hubby.

rope lighting

a camp host uses rope lighting under his truck to ward off packrats

That night we lay a couple of flashlights under the truck for safe measure and the next day we head to Lowe’s and purchase some rope lighting.

Next on our agenda, crawl under the RV and make sure there aren’t any openings.  We already have a can of expanding foam ready to seal the slightest of openings.  No free loading mice or rats allowed in our rig.   I guess this is all part of the adventure.

No packrat of ANY kind allowed in my home……..the purging shall continue!packrat


34 thoughts on “Packrat

  1. Sold our house 4 years ago to RV full time. Sold a bunch of stuff, donated a lot, gave stuff to the kids and still have a 40 foot storage container of things I thought I couldn’t part with. Big mistake, we do visit sometimes but for the cost of storage we could have bought replacements as needed.
    Ruth from At Home on the Road

    • We’ve managed to whittle down to a 10 x 20 storage unit in hopes of getting it down to a 10 x 10 once our daughter gets a bigger place. Thanks for stopping by and FYI, my son’s name is Logan 🙂

  2. Good to see this info again. I had heard it before once and kind of half way considered it to be valid. This (for me) confirms it after seeing it again. Getting some rope light. Damn the list never is complete!!
    Good luck with the purging.

    • Hubby and I learn something new with each excursion. We’re off the road for a bit and can’t wait to get back out there exploring!

  3. We are in the process of cleaning out an old barn chock-full of “stuff” that the parents could not part with (most of it was junk). Terry took a trip to the scrap metal shop yesterday and got quite a bit of money for the folks. His dad made the comment that he should be hoarding more at these prices (not happenin’)! As for garage sales, I like to go to them, but preparing for one is certainly not something I enjoy. Take care Ingrid. 🙂

    • Preparing for the sale was overwhelming, but in the end worth in. Good haul today $$$. The house is officially listed. Yikes!

      You and Terry will be so thankful you’re cleaning that barn now instead of down the road. I’m sure by the end of the summer, you two will be antsy to get back out in explorer mode. I’ve been playing around with smoothies….no kale for me 🙂

      • I’ve got lots of smoothie recipes without kale if you would like some suggestions. Glad to hear you are having a successful garage sale. Good luck with the house sale, probably a little scary but exciting as well. As for the barn, we know anything we do now will help down the road.

  4. Wow! Did you know that the cute bunnies at DIA do the same thing? Apparently they are snobby and only like European cars. They climb in and chew up wires. Little bastards.

    • Wow, sounds like you’re speaking from experience. I did not know those cute little guys would do that, but hey at least they have good taste. When we’re not traveling with the RV, our diesel truck ends up sitting on our driveway. We’ve had damage by birds nesting. Oh well, little critters gotta live somewhere 😦

  5. I have heard of packrats, but didn’t associate the lights with trying to keep them at bay. Something to keep in mind for when we make it to the desert.

    • It didn’t dawn on us either until we finally asked. I think next winter we’ll need to spend some time near the Gulf. The beach is calling!

    • The desert in bloom kept a consistent smile on my face. I was in heaven with all the flowers blooming. Now if only they’d start blooming in Colorado!

  6. My husband was the human variety sort of packrat. It took me a solid year to clear through all the treasures. What a relief it was to have that done, though. I had an incident with a mouse chewing into a gas line out in the detached garage….. can you imagine chewing into a GAS line? You’d think the stink would have discouraged the enterprising rodent, but no…. had to have the car towed because I was afraid to have it blow up from all the leaking gasoline.

    • That gas leak had to be very, very scary. We moved out of our large house 3 years ago and that move was horrible. As I go through stuff in the basement, I can’t believe I moved some of this crap. I guess I just wasn’t ready to let go like I am now. It’s been kind of liberating.

  7. Definitely have to worry about those packrats in some of the out in nature parks. The lights are a great idea and very pretty also!

    You are going through the down side of getting ready to go full time…good luck!

    • We’ve actually progressed from the overwhelmed stage to the excited stage. Perhaps we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks.

    • We didn’t realize the purpose behind the rope lights either. We spent 4 months camping around AZ and didn’t know anything about packrats until the end of our trip. We’ll be prepared next winter!

  8. We always put rope lighting around our rig…to keep me from falling in the dark when I go in to get another wine…However, when we were in South Texas on the Rio Grande, lots of people set mousetraps inside their truck/car engines..The mice get in and chew the insulation or some such thing..Dennis A.K.A. MacGyver is THE biggest packrat I know…I so envy you getting ready for the next chapter in your life novel….Our taxes have gone up $800 in the last 2 years..TIME TO GET OUT OF ILLINOIS!!!!

    • The best thing we ever did was leave Illinois….no regrets. Property taxes there are unreal. We’ll need to load up on traps for our Texas trip and use that rope lighting for those nights…..ya know, those nights 😀
      Start the de-cluttering NOW. It’s so overwhelming but very liberating. Wish we had started a year ago. Some how I don’t think you’ll ever leave IL 😉

  9. Yikes! Glad you got the useful tips to ward off the packrats. Who would have thought that they could tell when it was a full moon. 😀 I’m dreading the time when we have to sort out all our hoarded stuff when we eventually sell up in South Africa. 😦

    • Moving is always overwhelming, but downsizing is the worst. I wish we would’ve started clearing things out a year ago. Start early and get those special mementos off to the daughter….less to do down the road 🙂

  10. I didn’t know there was such a thing as real packrats. I thought that was just a term for us humans who don’t like to get rid of things. Seal that RV up nice and tight. *Shiver*

    • They are real alright and have been known to case extensive damage to an unknowing RVer. The sealing shall commence….squeal.

  11. Good to know, I will be packing some rope lights now. Good luck on the sale, our first sale was this week, went well, sold the Harley. Now to sell the mustang and house. This is going to take a while but letting go of stuff is getting much much easier. Kris

    • Al and I are feeling a weight lifting with each closet being emptied. The basement is left with a few things going to storage. Yeah, it’ll take awhile for our house to sell. The market here is still pretty slow. Fingers crossed, we’ll all be out there full-time real soon 🙂

  12. I just figured all those rope lights under RVs was for ambiance and general site lighting! Nice to know there is a purpose!

    • That’s exactly what we thought….ambiance or city folk being city folk. Now perhaps some do it for ambiance, night time light to take pets out, etc. but I think most to ward off the packrats. In some parts of the desert southwest it could only take a night or two for those little guys to do extensive $$$ damage to wiring of vehicles and RV’s. Others have never used lights and never had a problem with the rascals. I guess it’s all about luck 🙂

  13. Nice lesson on packrats….who would have known! We’ll be traveling with our blue rope lights…now to load up on extra flashlights :O) Glad luck with the sale! Hope it all disappears and it’s a entertaining day with the buyers…I get a kick out of yacking with them. Now back to taking in your Phoenix views…it’s warming my soul!

    • I’m hoping the weather will hold out for lots of folks to show up to the sale. I don’t enjoy garage sales, so this is not fun for me. Whatever doesn’t sell, will be donated. Yeah, packrats? We learn something new with each excursion. Spring in the desert is totally different than spring in the Midwest….each has it’s own beauty!

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