Time flies when you’re having fun!

Wow, I can’t believe our stay in Phoenix has already come to an end.  The past two plus weeks have flown by.  We even extended our stay at Lake Pleasant by a couple of days because we just weren’t ready to leave.Phoenix Arizonadesert sunsetsAs usual, the desert sunsets did not disappoint.  Since our days were filled and thus we were kept pretty busy, it was always a treat to relax in the evening and enjoy the view over a drink.

So what kept us so busy?   Well, the new couch lead to a few other projects; some necessary and some just for fun.  The just for fun projects started with removing the wallpaper border which I found outdated, unnecessary, and simply didn’t like.

Although tedious, it was a fairly simple job that required a little muscle to pull and peel off the wallpaper border.  Any left behind adhesive was easily removed with soap and water.

Smart TileNext up was installing a tile backsplash around the stove.  I didn’t feel I had a lot of options as I don’t believe in using ‘real’ tile in a RV.  After a bunch of research I went with the “Smart Tiles”.  Basically they are a resin/plastic based peel and stick product that is flexible.

I know a lot of RV’s out there have beautiful ceramic tile installed and it looks great.  However, the home builder in me emerges and I just can’t help but feel it’s just a matter of time before cracks develop in real tile and grout.   A ridged, breakable product installed in a moving object just doesn’t seem to compute in my mind.

I recall a fellow RV’er once saying, “We live in a rolling earthquake”, and boy was she right.Phoenix Arizona

Next up, we had some necessary maintenance done which we enlisted the help of professionals.  We took the RV over to Little Dealer Little Prices and had the wheel bearings repacked.  This is something that should be done about every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or every one to two years and we were definitely pushing it.  So I’d say we were a little overdue.trailer bearings

There’s a lot of maintenance Al and I do ourselves, but repacking the wheel bearings is a messy job that we felt best left to the professionals that have the facility and equipment to tackle the job properly.

And while the RV was in the shop, we had the waste tank release mechanisms reworked.  Our release levers worked on a cable system, which I think is the most ridiculous asinine method ever developed.  It sure is a crappy situation when one of those cables decides to break 😉  The new levers are fantastic and offer piece of mind.

Once out of the shop, Al and I went to work on some other household maintenance. Al cleaned out the ‘basement’ and reorganized.  Any items we felt we wouldn’t need over the next few months would be stored over at our son’s home.  Let’s lighten the load!  While Al (at least part of him) was in the basement, I was on the roof with the caulking gun touching up.  After all, our journey would be taking us from the dry arid desert to the moist Gulf coast.trailer bearings

Our time in Phoenix, Arizona, wasn’t all work.  We managed to incorporate plenty of visits with our son and several get together’s with fellow RVer’s.RVing in Phoenix

And did I already mention the fabulous sunsets?  I could get used to these views.

Saturday we enjoyed dinner with our son and hugged him and my little red truck goodbye for a few months.  My Tacoma is safely parked in our son’s garage while we head off to the Texas Gulf Coast.Pleasant Harbor RV Resort

The Texas journey begins ……

 

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Dicor EPDM Rubber Roof Lap Sealant, 10.3 oz, White 501LSW-1

 

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A Special Day of Firsts

As I sit here in Phoenix, Arizona, enjoying the desert sunsets and regular visits with our son, my thoughts drift to our daughter.  You see, it’s her birthday. I wish I could spend the day with her, but knowing weeks ago that I would no longer be in Colorado for the special day, she and I managed to celebrate early and often before I hit the road bound for the desert southwest.Rocky Mountain National Park

Ashton and I always enjoy spending time together and although due to her work commitments we weren’t able to take one of our memorable road trips, we did manage to take in several day excursions.Fall colors in the mountains

Hands down, our excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park turned out to be one of our favorite day trips.  We could not have timed it better.  Fall colors were almost at their peak and the weather was near perfect this 3rd weekend in September.quaking aspen

fall colors in the RockiesSince I had already camped a week in Rocky Mountain National Park as well as taken a few day trips exploring this past summer, I left the plan of the day up to Ashton but did help by giving her several ideas and recommendations.  After a quick discussion, she decided she wanted to retrace our route from our trip six years ago.

Trail Ridge Road it is!fall colors in the Rockies

From Denver we took a lovely scenic drive via Highway 36 and arrived in Estes Park, Colorado, about an hour and a half later.  As we drove down Main Street, we made note of stores and restaurants for our return back through town.  A few miles later, we entered the National Park via the east entrance; Fall River Entrance Station.Fall River Entrance Station

We planned on traveling up Trail Ridge Road (America’s highest paved continuous road) and making a bunch of scenic stops along the way with Grand Lake being our destination.  Our first stop was at Sheep Lakes.  This is a popular area for mountain sheep to be seen from spring to about July.  Starting in mid to late September and all through the rut, Elk can usually be spotted in this meadow.  During my several visits this year, I’ve never had any luck spotting wildlife at this location 😦painting in Rocky Mountain National Park

Next stop was just a little further up the road on a side street.  We noticed a group of ladies on the side of the road and had to check it out.  There was some big event happening that weekend in conjunction with an Art Gallery in the town of Grand Lake which was tantamount to a painters marathon (my take anyway).  Later that day, Ashton and I actually stumbled upon the art gallery that was behind the artist event. Grand Lake Art Galleries

Ashton was rather excited when we spotted this gallery.  A little browsing was in order. Too bad I don’t have any wall space these days because some of these works were breathtaking and I found several I wouldn’t mind owning.  Thankfully the lack of wall space in my RV allowed me to spend money on more important things…. say fudge.canvas painting of the Rockies

Ashton and I watched these gifted ladies capture the scenery on canvas.  I’ve never possessed such talent but I have always appreciated it.  This was a first for Ashton.  She had never seen an artist in action before.  She was fascinated and in total awe.art galleries in Grand Lake

We reluctantly tore ourselves away from the artists at work, and continued on our journey.  We made a couple of quick stops before taking a more leisurely stop at the Tundra Communities Trailhead near Rock Cut.unique rock formations

I wanted Ashton to see Mushroom Rock and hopefully a few Pika’s.  She’d never seen a rock shaped like this before and found it quite interesting.

I noticed the tundra during this visit looked very barren and brown.  What a sharp contrast from my August visit.  I could feel the harshness of the land knowing winter was just around the corner.  Although I found it rather strange that the temperature during this September visit was warmer than my August visit.  At an altitude of 12,125, I expect cold temperatures.  During my visit in August, I wore gloves and earmuffs but the tundra wildflowers were still present and the pika’s and marmots were everywhere.  No wildlife sightings today and no need for earmuffs.  I almost didn’t need to wear my sweatshirt – that’s how mild the temps were.photography in ColoradoLast time I experienced a little light-headedness on this trail, but today was no problem.  Thus, Ashton and I hiked to the end.  At the end of the trail, we climbed up the rocks a little to take in a bird’s-eye view.  Before doing so, I reminded Ashton to be sure to step only on rocks and avoid stepping on vegetation.tundraThe tundra has a very delicate ecosystem and the plants are quite fragile. I am totally intrigued by the tundra and the ability of anything to survive in such a harsh environment.  Ashton and I find ourselves lingering in silence and in awe.  What splendor lay before our eyes!Tundra

Our stomachs growling finally broke our trance and had us returning to the vehicle.  We decided to bypass the Alpine Visitor center and continue down Trail Ridge Road in search of a scenic spot for lunch.

Lake Irene Colorado
Ashton tries to cut a bagel with a butter knife.     After some serious laughing and attacking the bagel – success!

Lunch along Lake Irene proved to be the perfect place for our picnic lunch.  Stomachs satisfied, we were off to Grand Lake for a little shopping.

shopping in Grand Lake
hitching posts are still used in Grand Lake, Colorado
shopping
stuff we all could live without 😉

One ice cream cone, one piece of fudge, and one key ring later we were back in the truck driving the 48 mile stretch of Trail Ridge Road back to the town of Estes Park.  Let’s see – it only took us 3 hours to drive 48 miles from the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park to the town of Grand Lake.  Gorgeous scenery has a way of lengthening any drive.  I believe it’s called ‘photo-op’.three amigosThe return trip to Estes Park took a little less time but still ended up taking a couple of hours due to Elk viewing.  Ah, yet another first for Ashton as she listened to the Elk bugle.  Although the ‘rut’ hadn’t officially started, it was obvious the time was nearing.Elk in rutAfter a light dinner at an Irish pub in downtown Estes Park, it was time to head home.

elk in rut
It was exciting to stand this close to a herd of Elk

It was definitely a memorable day with several first’s for my daughter…….

*  Fall colors near peak in Rocky Mountain National Park
*  Artists at work in the field
*  A rock shaped like a mushroom
*  Elk bugling
*  Standing so near to a herd of elk

It was a special day indeed –  Happy birthday, Ashton!Rocky Mountain National Park

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Eddie Kohair Elk 8″ by Douglas Cuddle Toys

 

Remodeling and Debauchery

As I choked back the tears, I gave daughter one last hug goodbye before climbing into the truck. We not only bid farewell to our daughter but also said goodbye to our beloved Colorado for the year.  It was a great summer filled with plenty of discoveries and new-found friendships.  We already look forward to next summer.boondocking dry camping

Alas with frost nipping at our heels, we set off on our 1,125 mile journey to Lake Mead, Nevada. We were on a mission …. a mission that entails redecorating the RV.  We’ve now been living full-time in the RV a little over a year and although I don’t miss living in a sticks n bricks house, I do miss certain niceties.  One of which is our beautiful leather couch and loveseat.  I really miss that couch and loveseat.  Before the movers showed up to haul them off to the storage unit, hubby and I even contemplated swapping out the RV couch for our leather loveseat.  It unfortunately just wasn’t going to work.  So we hit the road as is over a year ago.

free camping in Las Vegas Nevada
sun setting over the Lake Mead desert

But the RV couch has remained a source of discontent for both Al and me. I hate the chenille fabric and really miss the leather.  I’ve continued to shop online off and on for a new RV couch ever since hitting the road full-time and a tentative plan to head to Elkhart, Indiana, in the summer of 2015 was being discussed.

remodeling RV
This is the couch the RV came with. I do like the storage drawer so storage is an issue with anything new I pick.

Allow me to digress and backtrack a tad. Last March while camped in Phoenix, Arizona, we were joined by fellow bloggers, Linda and Mike.  During one of many conversations with this engaging couple, the subject of RV remodeling came up.  Linda and Mike were making plans to head up to Oregon to have solar panels installed as well as possibly replacing the loveseat with a desk…..  “Say what? Whatever shall you do with that soft, supple, butter cream, leather sofa?  I call dibs!”

camping at Lake MeadWe spent more time hanging out with Linda and Mike as our paths continued to crisscross during the months of April, May, and June.  Each time I stepped into Linda’s RV, I continued to longingly eye that loveseat but contained myself from saying, “When can I have the loveseat huh, huh, huh?”  At that point they still hadn’t decided if they were going to go forward with the remodel.

Fast track to September – just when I was convinced my loveseat shopping would need to resume and that trip to Indiana was inevitable, I received an email from Linda asking if we were still interested in the loveseat?  “Dah, YEAH!”  A price was quickly agreed upon and then talks ensued for the logistics to be worked out.

We were in Denver, Colorado, and they were in Eugene, Oregon.  We were separated by approximately 1,300 miles but our winter plans had us traveling in opposite directions. Where ever shall we meet?  Lake Mead, Nevada, it is!

You can read about Linda and Mike’s remodel here.  It turned out great.

RV furniture
Our new couch as it sits in the center of Linda and Mikes RV. For traveling, they had to strap it upside down to the other couch. They traveled like this for over 1,000 miles so their friends could enjoy this loveseat. I did call first dibs after all 😉 In all seriousness, we very much appreciated the above and beyond effort because they did have an opportunity to sell it in Oregon. Friends indeed!
RV furniture
Linda and dog Lucy help supervise the guys as the couch comes out of Linda and Mike’s RV.
RV furniture
Lucy makes sure the guys don’t damage the couch as they take it into our RV.

So now you know why we needed to go to Lake Mead….. to pick up our new loveseat.  Let the remodeling commence.  Come on, you didn’t think I would stop with a new couch.  Nope, now there are chairs to reupholster……   and of course a few other things here and there, but all in due time and I’ll share it all in a future post once our DIY projects are complete.

camping in Las Vegas
boondocking at Government Wash at Lake Mead, Nevada
free camping at Lake Mead
not a bad place to call home for a few days. Boondocking with friends at Lake Mead.

debaucheryWith the heavy lifting complete, what do two couples do boondocking in the desert in 100 degree heat with no air conditioning?  But of course, sit in the shade, drink, eat, and solve all the problems of the world.  After four days of desert dwelling and plenty of debauchery, it was in everyone’s best interest we bid farewell before we all needed to check into a detox center, but we do have plans to meet up again down the road.  Perhaps more desert dwelling is needed.

skilletini
Eating well. We start the day off with a hearty ‘breakfast skilletini’… red potatoes and veggies with eggs on top with a side of bacon.  Note – no bread involved…. Paleo eating all the way!
Paleo muffins
Or how about starting the day off with fresh-baked banana muffins and zucchini bread? Paleo of course!  I love my little RV oven.
free camping near Las Vegas Nevada
All alone boondocked at Government Wash at Lake Mead 😦 Time for us to move on as well.

Al and I are now comfortably parked in familiar stomping grounds back at Lake Pleasant located northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, and not far from our son’s home.  Our stop here will be short.  We’ll get in plenty of visits with the son, take care of our DIY projects, and some RV repairs, then hit the road around the 24th.  Until then, I’m thoroughly enjoying the desert sunsets….. they’re the best!photography

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I Could Live Here!

At the end of September we spent our last week in Colorado. You’d think after spending four months in the Denver area that I’d be ready to get our wheels rolling again.  Although I was ready for a change of scenery from our extended stay at the Westminster Elks Lodge, I wasn’t ready to leave Colorado or say goodbye to our daughter.  After all, the Aspens were just starting to peak in the high country.

Colorado State Parks
This was the view out of my RV door. I could get used to this!

Colorado State ParksThe Chatfield State Park turned out to be the absolute perfect change I was craving. I can honestly say one week here was definitely not enough.  I could’ve easily stayed a month – regardless of their 2 week rule 😉

The Chatfield State Park is located near Colorado’s lower foothills at the southwestern edge of the Denver metro area.  The gently rolling prairie sits at an elevation of 5,450 feet and offers a little something for everyone.

There’s over 26 miles of an extensive trail network for hikers, bikers, and equestrians to enjoy and can be shared with your favorite pooch.Colorado trailsIf boating is your thing, there’s several boat ramps and a full service marina.  I will note; Chatfield Reservoir is very popular with locals especially on weekends.  To say it ‘gets crowded’ is an understatement.  So you’ve been warned 😆Colorado State parksbirding in ColoradoWith over 200 species of birds in the area, birding is a popular activity with regular ranger lead treks.

The Chatfield State Park also offers a model airplane field, on site equestrian stable, swim beach, and numerous picnic areas.

But for us, the main attraction was the camping facility.Chatfield State ParkAll campsites are within walking distance to the lake and are surrounded by native vegetation.  Very few sites have natural shade though.

Chatfield State ParkThere are 197 campsites all offering electric hook-ups.  Sewer and water hook-ups are also available at select sites.  There are 4 Loops and Loop D appears to be the most popular and has a new camper services building.

Loops A and D offer full hook-ups.  Loop B is split between full hook-ups and electric only. Loop C is only electric as is the Group camping area.  A sanitary dump station is conveniently located nearby.

We stayed in Loop B and absolutely loved our views and the spacing between sites.

Colorado State Parks

The majority of the sites appear to be mostly level with minimal leveling required and most seem to be able to accommodate any size RV.  Weekends do book up quickly.  Thus, reservations are a must especially during the summer.mule deerAfter our week-long stay, we begrudgingly pulled up stakes.  I could easily live here ….. well, maybe not in the winter, but definitely the rest of the year.  However, I’m sure the park service might have issue with me planting myself here longer than that 2 week max stay.

Alas, when one lives in a home on wheels, those wheels are meant to turn.Colorado State ParksWith daughter moved and settled into her new place and with impending cold temps approaching, it was time for us to head to the desert southwest. We bid farewell to our daughter in Colorado and look forward to saying hello to our son in Arizona, but first we needed to make a quick detour to Lake Mead …..Colorado State Parks

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