Trouble with the Dream

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘your living the dream’, I do a slight cringe. Dream? Hmm! Living full-time in a RV was never a dream of mine. Al and I decided to move into the RV full-time on a whim four years ago with the intent of traveling for a year or two before finding a home base. And here we are, into year five of full-time RV living and still rolling along. We haven’t found that home base just yet, but we’re still searching and getting closer every day in narrowing down our choices.

south rim Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park – south rim

I have to admit, full-time RVing is an adventurous lifestyle that is filled with highs as well as lows. And the highs are indeed like a dream …. gorgeous scenery, beautiful weather, birdingand the forging of new friendships makes this lifestyle somewhat addictive.

What’s not to love? Perhaps that’s why we haven’t looked too hard for that home base.

But those lows? Ah, yes …. those lows sure don’t feel like I’m living a dream. Feels more like a nightmare and not one where I’ll wake up thankfully realizing all is well.

Nope, no waking up from a bad travel day. Instead, we find ourselves digging deep for the energy and wherewithal to deal with life’s mishaps, and we try our best to keep a sense of humor about us …. remembering this too shall pass!

Let’s take a step back… We spent four months this past summer camped in Prescott, Arizona. It was a very enjoyable summer with very little vehicle or RV maintenance mishaps. Al did have an issue with the F-250 back in May, but after some service it pulling a fifth wheelworked great all summer long which included a bunch of trips back and forth to Phoenix in the excessive heat to visit our children.

Tidbit – there’s about a 3,000 foot elevation change between Prescott and Phoenix, Arizona, meaning there’s quite the hill climbing necessary heading north on Interstate 17 from Phoenix. When temperatures exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit, overheating vehicle engines are quite common. Thus, we were thrilled the Big Dog handled those drives without incident, but remember, we weren’t pulling the RV during those Phoenix excursions.

camping near the Grand Canyon
Our son joined us for a few days. Good times around a campfire!

Once the calendar flipped to September 1st, it was time to lift the jacks and get the wheels rolling. We moved up to the Kaibab National Forest located just south of the Grand Canyon and enjoyed a near perfect week camped in a pine forest surrounded by wildlife. Our son even drove up from Phoenix to spend a few days with us.

bull elk
one of our neighbors strolling by our campsite
Coyote
This neighbor serenaded us at two in the morning. Al and I were amused – son not so much!

Considering it was the Labor Day Weekend, we were pleasantly surprised with the lack of crowds (that is, in comparison to other times of the year) and we considered ourselves lucky to snag such a beautiful campsite.

If it hadn’t been for Al’s dental appointment back in Prescott, we would’ve stayed another week, that’s how much we loved our little spot in the Kaibab National Forest.

squirrel
Don’t be dissing one of my relatives!

But alas, Al needed a tooth dealt with. A week earlier, he woke up with an abscess which made him look like he was storing nuts for the winter. His name quickly changed from Al to Alvin … as in, Alvin and the chipmunks 😆

With a round of antibiotics completed, it was time for a root canal and crown … I’m sure you can imagine Al jumping for joy!

Medical emergencies of any kind while living a mobile lifestyle is always stressful. Will we find a Doctor or Dentist who can see us right away? What kind of care and follow-up can we expect, not to mention the cost? In my opinion, this is the biggest concern about full-time RVing. I can deal with the maintenance issues much easier than medical issues. And don’t even get me started on the problems with insurance!

Speaking of maintenance issues … so after our glorious week near the Grand Canyon, it was time to hitch up and take what should’ve been an easy non-eventful two and a half hour drive back to Prescott.

Grand Canyon camping

Travel day morning, I noticed a tire on my little red truck looked low. This was the perfect scenario for Al to try out his new air compressor – Viair 450P Automatic Function Portable Compressor. I bought this Viair compressor last spring for Al’s birthday. Fortunately, at the time Amazon was doing a Prime deal on it. This was the first time we took the compressor out of the package.

portable air compressor

We had a bit of a Frick and Frack moment when we failed to remove the red plug for air intake. Duh! But in our defense, the instructions made no mention of removing the plug. So what should’ve taken five minutes to add ten pounds of pressure to my low tire, took a tad over thirty minutes.

portable Viair air compressor

After a good laugh, it was time to hitch up the 5th wheel. Al positioned the truck and slowly backed toward the hitch. I flipped or rather tried to flip the switch to raise the front landing jacks. Hmm! The switch wouldn’t move. With my nifty little hand singles, I stopped Al from backing any further and walked up to the driver’s side door. I proceeded to tell Al the switch wouldn’t work.

Al begins to tell me how the switch works. SERIOUSLY, dude dear husband!!!  We’ve only owned this RV for the past seven years and hooked and unhooked this RV a few hundred times. I think by now, I know how the dang switch works. Not in a mood to argue, in my sweetest voice I ask, “I’m sorry honey, but I’m just not sure how it works. Could you please show me?” My man to the rescue. Al walks over to the RV and tries to move the switch. “Ugh, the switch won’t move”, he says in a rather perplexed tone. “Ya think”, I declared in a less than amused tone!

5th wheel landing jacks
Me getting in an upper body workout hand cranking the front landing jacks up!

Like a couple of RVing newbies, we stared at the switch then at the round hole in the side of the RV. “Isn’t there a hand crank that fits in that hole?”

Coyote
Hey, you guys need any help?

Kaibab National Forest

We were an hour and a half behind our self-imposed schedule, but still smiling as we waved goodbye to our neighbors and campsite. A few deep breaths and fifteen miles later, we had settled nicely into the drive heading south on route 64 toward the town of Williams. Since we were traveling with two vehicles, we used our walkie talkies to stay in regular communication. Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair) (Black/Silver)

Arizona state route 64

Just when I thought all our troubles were behind us, Al radios me and says the truck stalled and he’ll be coming to a stop 😨 Let’s turn on our flashers/hazard lights!

Let me explain a little something about Arizona State Route 64. It’s a busy two-lane road with virtually no shoulder, and it’s the only route to or from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Thus, one can expect lots of RV’s, large tour buses, and plenty of traffic on this road.

sitting ducks
sitting ducks – stalled on Arizona State Route 64

Al pulled over as much as possible and I did the same, keeping a fair distance between the two of us. We were sitting ducks and I prayed traffic would see us sitting there and slow down.  The fear of being rear ended was a constant concern. We were also concerned about oncoming traffic knowing that southbound traffic would need to go around us and there wasn’t enough space for us and the two-way traffic. In essence, we had shut down the southbound lane.

coyoteA few days earlier while Al and Logan (son) were exploring some of the back roads in the Kaibab National Forest, the truck had stalled necessitating Al call our mechanic in Prescott.

After a few wire jiggles on an internal temperature sensor, the truck started up.

So there we were stalled on route 64 in a very precarious situation waiting for the truck engine to cool a tad all the while Al jiggled the wires. After 15 minutes, the Big Dog started up and kept running all the way to Prescott.

Suffice it to say, by the time we arrived at our destination, we were a bit frazzled but okay plus Al was not looking forward to the next day – a morning spent in the dental chair. Good news, Al had a positive experience with Highland Dental (Dr. Bennett) and his mouth is doing just fine these days… no more Alvin and we’ve found a dental office in Arizona that we like.

But ‘living the dream‘ didn’t end here. After Al’s dental appointment, we spent the rest of our week in Prescott doing a deep interior cleaning of the RV along with taking care of the necessary truck and RV maintenance.

RV mice
We eventually found a SOS pad to wrap around our electrical cord.

Along with Mr. Elk and Wiley Coyote stopping by our boondock campsite in the Kaibab National Forest, Mickey and Minnie Mouse decided to stop by and dine on some peanut butter.

Apparently, we left the door open (electrical cord opening) and the welcome mat out (interior electrical cover plate off) for Mickey and Minnie’s easy entry. Al normally wraps steel wool around our exterior electrical cord but he misplaced it and eventually we used a SOS pad. I also forgot about the interior electrical cover plate that had fallen off the wall (hiding behind my camera bag). Anyway, this combination provided the perfect entry for the little field mice.

Boondocking and mice are a pretty common occurrence and one we’ve come to expect, but once we get back to full hookups, it’s time for some deep cleaning and making sure our unwanted guests haven’t taken up residency.

Whew! It was an eventful and busy week which was anything but dream living. A week we’re glad is over. And now we’re onto a new location and working on living the dream. So far, so good!

south rim Grand Canyon

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Waiting for the Sun to Set

I had a fabulous week boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest. After spending four months in a RV Resort in Prescott, Arizona, it felt fantastic to get the RV rolling, and camp by ourselves in a forest of soaring pine trees. We found a lovely slice of land to call home, and it was only fifteen minutes down the road from the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

sunset at the Grand Canyon
me waiting for the sun to set at the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon camping
Our ‘home’ for the week. Aaahhh, can you smell the fresh scent of pine?

Although it did take a little effort on my part to leave the solitude of my beautiful campsite, I did venture up to the Grand Canyon a few times for photo ops. Most of the time, Al chose to stay at camp. He’s not a fan of the Grand Canyon nor of the hoards of tourists. I never mind venturing off on my own especially when hubby has a roaring campfire waiting for me upon my return.

sunset at the Grand Canyon
Lots of tourists from around the world waiting for the sun to set at the Grand Canyon – a storm is brewing
south rim of the Grand Canyon
south rim of the Grand Canyon

While I, along with hundreds of other people, waited for the sun to set at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, a storm started brewing. I could hear thunder in the distance and see an occasional flash of lightening.

south rim of the Grand Canyon

The approaching storm along with some lingering smoke haze from forest fires in the west made for a very interesting sky.

stormy sky at the Grand Canyon
stormy sky at the Grand Canyon

stormy sunset at the Grand Canyon

The sunset was definitely worth waiting around for, and the stormy sky added a touch of drama. I’m glad I pulled myself away from camp to experience the beauty of the Grand Canyon at sunset as a storm approaches. Yep, worth the wait!

sunset at Kaibab National Forest
This was the sky back at camp!

 

Comforted by Banana Nut Muffins

We’ve had an incredibly busy August which lead to feeling like the summer whizzed by. Can you believe it’s already the beginning of September?  And to think, when Al and I decided to spend the summer parked in the same RV Resort for four months, I thought for sure I’d be bored and ready to roll after the first month. But Prescott, Arizona, is a lovely community surrounded by beauty which kept me entertained and the camera clicking. We had a great summer!

sunset at Goldwater Lake
Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona

As the end of August rolled around, it was time for us to get the wheels rolling again. I’ll be honest, I had a few mixed emotions about packing up and leaving and actually thought about staying another month, but with twinges of hitch itch nipping at my heels, I knew it was time for a new backyard.

camping in Kaibab National Forest
My new yard. Our home for the Labor Day weekend

Currently I’m sitting in the Kaibab National Forest just south of the Grand Canyon surrounded by tall pine trees and enjoying the crisp fresh air. Wow, talk about a change of scenery along with cooler temperatures. I found myself pulling out pants and a sweatshirt camping in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyonas the evening temperatures dropped into the 50’s … refreshing, and ah, the smell of pine is intoxicating!

As I sit here relishing the tranquil beauty around me, I feel incredibly lucky yet overcome with sadness. Mother Nature can be gracious and bless us with amazing desert sunsets or spectacular beach sunrises or she can lower her hammer sending death and destruction.

This past week, the Texas Gulf Coast certainly felt Mother Nature’s wrath when she sent hurricane Harvey ashore. I’ve stayed glued to my computer following news stories and getting updates from friends via Facebook and email. The photos and updates are heartbreaking.

Banana bread
I need some comfort food!

Al and I have a special relationship with the Rockport area (this is where the center of the hurricane came ashore). Rockport has been our winter home for the past four years and just a little ways down the coast is where my parents used to winter. Al was also stationed in the area during his military days. Thus, you can see, we have a fond connection to this part of the Texas Gulf Coast.

bird photography
This little guy poses nicely for me. I’m sad there won’t be any Texas birding for me this winter.

For obvious reasons, our usual Texas sojourn won’t be happening this winter. I always look forward to our visits which includes communing with shore birds and reconnecting with friends. I’ll definitely miss this years excursion. I’m afraid if I talk anymore about this disaster the flood of tears will short out my laptop 😪

banana muffinsSo instead of crying, let’s head into the kitchen and bake up something comforting … well, at least comforting to me.

I’ve always loved banana bread, and it usually makes me think of my mom. She made the best, and I could literally devour half a loaf in one sitting provided she didn’t take it away from me.

Because of this lack of will power, I make muffins instead of loaves and can usually limit myself to one a day. But as my emotions run rampant thinking of the Gulf Coast, my mom (RIP), and her favorite beach in Texas …. I think two or three 😋 might be in order. I need something to comfort my emotions. I’ll take an extra long hike tomorrow 🐾

Banana Nut MuffinsBanana Nut Muffins 
4 very ripe bananas
5 Tablespoon of melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add melted butter and sugar and mix well. Mix in egg, coffee and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt mixing until all ingredients incorporated well. Fold in walnuts. In a paper lined muffin tin, divide batter equally by filling each muffin cup about 3/4 full.

Bake in a preheated oven – 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12.

Banana nut muffins

Stay strong Texas … You’re not alone … sending prayers and support!

never alone in the woods
Never alone !

BTW – this is not my mom’s banana bread recipe. I don’t know what I do wrong, but mine never tastes as good as hers did. My mom was a great baker. Oh well, I found this recipe online a few years ago and tweaked it and am sharing my version. It’s not the same as mom’s, but it’ll do. Hope you enjoy it!

Some items I used during this post – pls note: these are affiliate links 😀
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites