A Sense of Freedom

We’re baaaack, comfortably parked in the valley of the sun, otherwise known as Phoenix, Arizona. We arrived in early October and have been enjoying regular visits with our children and a few of our non-RVing friends. We’re staying at a new to us RV park on the north side of Phoenix near the town of Anthem, Arizona.

Grand Canyon Black and White photography

south rim of the Grand Canyon

The RV park is your usual 55+ pack’m in kind of place, but it’s working perfectly for our needs. Could it be that when we toured this place earlier in the year, the woman behind the counter was hesitant to give me any information. She looked at me and said, “You do know, you have to be 55 or older to stay here?” With a smile on my face and calling her my new best friend, I summoned hubby over to the counter and proceeded to say, “Well, if I don’t look old enough, I bet he does”. A few chuckles later, we picked out a site and our three month reservation was made – Oct 1st to Dec 31st.

company Adirondack chairs on the beach

Adirondack chairs near Rockport, Texas – pre hurricane Harvey. I doubt they survived the storm … sigh!

I’m not usually a fan of RV Parks, much preferring the rustic scenic landscape of a state park, regional park, or national forest, but wanting a three month stay with full hook-ups finds us homesteading with all the other silvers and that’s ok. For now, we still have plenty of elbow room around us in the way of vacant sites, but each day more and more RV’s are pulling in. I’m sure by the end of December this place will be full, and I’ll be ready to roll, but for now things are going well.

Chicago skyscrapers

Willis Tower aka Sears Tower Chicago

Over the past few weeks a few things have happened that have put me in a reflective mood. I think it started with the Lake Havasu lighthouses and continued with a photo challenge on Facebook … Seven days, seven photos in black and white of everyday life. No people, no pets, no explanations.

I’m usually not a fan of black and white photography, especially my own, but I was up for the challenge which had me going through a bunch of my photographs ….. a bunch!

As I searched through my external hard drives, I wanted to pick photos of a variety of places showcasing a diverse collection, as well as have the photograph look every bit as pleasing as it’s colored counterpart. I had so much fun gathering these photographs and turning them into Black & White that I thought I’d share them here.

As the week went by posting a photo a day, I reflected upon the memories behind each photograph. For me, they represent a story…. my story. I can’t help but feel fortunate to be able to experience so many beautiful and diverse landscapes.

Dillon Lake, Colorado

Dillon Lake, Colorado

The Facebook challenge was just one reason I found myself digging through archives. A couple of blogging friends reached out to me in search of recommendations for their Arizona travels this winter. It’s usually easier for me to search my blog for past posts and then email the links onto them for ideas.

During my search for helpful information, I came across a few posts that brought a smile to my face. Again, I was reminded why I love RVing AND why I blog.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Not everyone gets the whole RVing thing and that’s ok …. actually more than ok.  I would prefer this RVing boom come to an end and soon. It’s becoming more and more of a challenge to find available camping which interferes with keeping our plans fluid.

sunrise over the Gulf

somewhere along the Texas Gulf Coast

Going through my photographs and blog archives not only brought a smile to my face, it reminded me of all the wonderful experiences we’ve encountered over the past six years of RVing.

trees in the mist

Trees in the mist – somewhere near the Texas Gulf Coast

For anyone traveling to Arizona this winter and looking for some interesting things to do, here a few links to posts I’ve written in the past ….

If you enjoy wildlife as much as I do (especially birds) then you might enjoy visiting the roosting grounds of tens of thousands of sandhill cranes. I know it was a very special and amazing sight for me. Plus free camping – Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw

We don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do, we try to find unique dining options. This post shares a couple of our favorites – Dining Western Style  (unfortunately, the original Buffalo Chip Restaurant structure burned to the ground, but it has since been rebuilt.)

We’ve always had a great time visiting western Arizona. Here’s a couple of posts on those excursions – Hiking Sara’s Crack and Happy Hour

We’re never at a loss of things to see or do while staying in Phoenix – A Tour of Phoenix. Why spring is my favorite time to visit the desert and if you’re looking for an adventurous day trip, the Apache Trail is not to be missed.

Yep, so much fun traveling down memory lane. All these fun excursions have me contemplating the new year. What ever shall we do? Can we top these adventures? Ah, this sense of freedom is the best, and the amazing beauty we get to immerse ourselves within on a regular basis are things non-RVer’s don’t understand. But shhh! Let’s keep it our secret.


Guess who got a new camera for her birthday 😎 (affiliate links ahead). Love this little powerhouse of a camera and I haven’t even tried the 4K video yet!

PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S, 20.3 Megapixel Tripod


70 thoughts on “A Sense of Freedom

  1. What a lovely birthday present! Lovely to reminisce about past adventures and those yet to come. Hopefully the RV parks don’t explode but I will admit after reading your posts over the years even I would consider it. 🙂

  2. Ingrid, once again amazing pictures!!! Your black and white photos are great!!
    I so agree with you on not everyone understanding this lifestyle and hoping the “boom” will subside! I like to be spontaneous with our travel plans as well!!!
    Thanks for all the links!! I can’t wait to experience the desert one day!!

    • Thank you Gerri. The desert is definitely different than the lush green seen in your neck of the woods. Some folks love it while others have trouble adjusting. Personally, I love the diversity of both. Thus, the home on wheels 😁

  3. Great pictures as usual, Dave got into the challenge too. Someone tried to tag me in it, LOL. How about a hike and we do the new Buffalo Chip for lunch afterwards or dinner with the hubbies…we never made it to the original.

    • I did contemplate forgoing the B&W challenge, but once I started going through my photos, I really enjoyed it. Yeah, you’d be the wrong person to tag lol. Look forward to getting together. A hike and lunch sounds perfect!

  4. You picked some amazing photos for the B&W challenge on Facebook. While I usually prefer color photos, I did join the challenge as well (but randomly and quickly picked some photos floating around), and gained appreciation for the new look. I hope your time in Arizona will be an enjoyable one, without too many issues. At least the climate should be alright, right? 🙂

    • The beauty of Arizona is its diversity. If it’s too hot or cold in one spot, drive an hour or two and you’ll find a twenty degree difference. I can be camped among saguaro cactus in Phoenix and a two-hour drive up to Flagstaff will have me camping in tall pines. So I can usually find some beautiful spot that’ll work anytime of the year 🙂

  5. You did an awesome job on the black & white photo challenge. Great variety. Hope you survive your time in an RV park this winter. I too would like my parks a tad more rustic/scenic but hubby’s a no go with that. I’ve learned to adapt.🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, compromise is a big deal in any relationship but especially living this mobile lifestyle. Sounds like you and I are on the same page while our husbands share an opinion. And since where ever we’re parked is temporary, I’m ok with being flexible. We all adapt 😉

  6. Going back and rereading posts can offer a tremendous sense of accomplishment. We are so grateful to have many wonderful memories to contemplate on. I did the FB photo challenge as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was interesting to see that some photos actually looked better in black and white while others lost their luster. I hear taking the images in black and white produces a better quality of tones but have yet to experiment with it. Have a great week! 😁

    • I think I’ve only taken B&W photos in camera once. I enjoy color photos way too much that I’d rather take them in color and convert to monochrome later, but I bet there is some tone quality lost. I do enjoy photo challenges and this FB one was definitely fun.

  7. I rarely change a picture to B&W but when I do it almost always offers a different perspective on the entire scene. The shots you picked were great examples of this and are absolutely stunning, I think the mountain scape it my favorite. I love my FZ 200 and am looking forward to your comments on the 300 when you get it.

    • Thanks Jim and I’m really glad to hear you love the FZ-200. I’m always hesitant to make recommendations but this ‘bridge’ camera I feel works great for our lifestyle. I believe the FZ-300 is weather sealed and the video is supposedly far superior to the 200. All the reviews say, it’s worth the upgrade. For now, I don’t feel a need to spend the $ but I have put it on my ‘wish list’ on the B&H site. That way, I’ll be notified of a price drop … dangerous temptations 😉

  8. Lovely pix!
    Yes, I’ve noticed a surge in folks RVing, as the booking of sites has been harder every year. I think RVs have come down in price, inviting new nomads. That, along with more remote jobs becoming available.
    We’ll be going to Galveston Texas this year for Christmas. I think we got a lovely site facing the beach, although sites look small. I’m ok with that. That’s not where we’re spending our time!

    • I love Galveston, although the weather can be a little hit and miss. We were fortunate to spend an entire month there a few years ago during November. Have a great time – look forward to those posts!

  9. Wonderful B+W images Ingrid! Your photo selection is always inspiring. I have 2 cameras for different purposes. A nice compact Canon G5X – 20mp, fast lens, 4x lens, ERV, touch/rotating screen, and compact enough to fit in a large pocket – great for indoor shots and candids as well as most anything.
    Then in January, after lots of research I got as Lumix G85 mirrorless and added a 28-280mm equiv. lens – extremely pleased with it, although I was hesitant about only getting 16mp. However, half my images are taken with my Samsung S7 – quite remarkable quality as long as you don’t need zoom. I think of it as my photo-sketch book.

    • Thanks Micheal. I remember when you got the G85. It does take amazing photos and I’ve been eyeing the various mirrorless cameras. I too enjoy the rotating screen on my FZ-200, and although the ZS70 only flips, it has come in handy. New toys are always fun!

  10. I rarely joined in any FB photo challenges but for some reason the BW one caught me. Like you I have to dig up thousands of picture and there were so many to choose from. I do reflect sometimes what to do with all these pictures, other than culling great memories!
    Sounds like you are happy with your latest toy! 4K is the bomb, you got to try it, my hummingbird photos were a 4k product, such a cool function.

    • Digging into the archives is always interesting. I’m reminded how much fun I’ve been having 😁 There are so many bells, horns, and whistle on this new camera, it’ll take me awhile to figure it all out. I’ve decided I need to take a notebook in the field with me to write down the settings I’m using and then review on the computer because I never remember what I did and what worked well and what didn’t. Must be old age 😆

        • Thank you for that tidbit, and although helpful, it doesn’t tell me in what mode the camera was set on. Was it on ia, P, scn, or A? I’ve decided the ZS70 is not my camera of choice for birds. I like it for landscape, street, and social photography. When it comes to birding, I’ll stick with the bigger camera. It’s a fun camera and much prefer it over the little Sony even though the Lumix is almost double the size.

  11. What a fun photographic challenge and I love the photos you chose. We often reflect on how fortunate we are to have visited so many places in our RV travels. We love small town Americana but are always glad to get back to the Valley and Sonoran Desert for the winter.

    • Living in diverse environments is fun. There are pluses and minuses to small town living and big city living. I get frustrated with the lack of shopping options in the hinterland and then frustrated with traffic in the big city 😄 Hope you’ve given that FZ-300 a good workout. Look forward to visiting with you tomorrow.

  12. I so enjoyed your black & whites Ingrid. It’s interesting how the mood changes in the photo from colour to black & white. Hope you enjoy the precious time with your kids & for the record, it’s not surprising to me the gal at the park questioned your age & eligibility to stay in the 55+ park😘

    • Awe, thanks Lynn. And you are so right about a photographs mood changing. It was not only a fun challenge, but enlightening as well. I’ve also enjoyed your monochrome photos via FB.

  13. I definitely want to hear about the ZS70 performance. I bought a ZS100 in June, sacrificing zoom for a slightly larger sensor, though I see people getting drop-dead pictures with a 1/2.3.

    • I seriously looked at the ZS100 but the zoom is too important to me thus the new ZS70 won. Since I rarely print a photo over 8×10 and most of my photographs are shared via social media, the larger sensor didn’t seem necessary for my purposes.
      Some of the photographs taken on full auto or on P have been less than crisp (user error? probably!). When I’ve dialed the setting for ‘food’, the photographs have been impressive right out of the camera with almost no processing needed. My daughter and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden yesterday and the camera performed well. Plus it was fun using. I’ll keep you posted!

  14. It is fun to go back through blog posts and it certainly does make me smile, as well, remembering each place. I’m with you when it comes to the RV fad needing to run its course. It is amazing how crowded every RV park has become over the last five years especially. We are also seeing sooooo many workers that now travel in RVs. It wasn’t like this when we started eight years ago.
    Enjoy your family time! Spending time with the kids is such a treat:)

    • Al and I are definitely enjoying our time with the children, even if it’s just meeting near their work for lunch.
      Looking through posts from four years ago, I was reminded how we traveled without reservations. We always managed to find a spot to camp. That has definitely changed and I think it’s only going to get worse. Every time I hear about the RV Nomads movie, I cringe. Nothing like encouraging more people to join RVing so prices can go up and options can go down. I’ve noticed places we used to boondock for free are now charging a fee or have closed off access. Next several years should be interesting.

  15. Look forward to seeing what you think about the new Lumix. Looks like a good size. We liked the FZ200 much better than the Canon we replaced it with so will probably go back to a Panasonic one of these days.

    • I was wondering what your thoughts were on the Canon. I’ve done extensive research on ‘bridge’ cameras and the general consensus is Panasonic’s are the best. When my budget allows, I will probably get the FZ-300. All the reviews including Graham Houghton’s seem to say it’s worth the upgrade. I think it’s even weather sealed. This ZS70 does take good pics in certain settings. Some pics have been less than crisp (user error? never!). It’s much bigger and heavier than the Sony 350 but I already like it tons more. I’ll keep you posted. BTW – I would recommend going to the B & H website and putting the camera on your wishlist. When they drop the price, you’ll be notified. Plus free shipping, no tax and excellent return policy. I returned a Canon SL1 after shooting with it for two weeks along the Texas coast. Then bought a second FZ-200 when the price dropped (daughter uses my original 200 that survived a serious fall … occasionally has a glitch but daughter says that’s ok considering the price she paid for it 😄)

  16. I’m so glad I didn’t get tagged to participate in the photo challenge. But I’m so glad you did! Your photography is just amazing – coffee table photo books would sell, I am sure. These were especially lovely.
    We’re with you on our least favorite RV places to park….but on the east coast, our choices are limited. The only place we have been staying for more than a month, besides our “home” base in Fredericksburg (and then we’re all about family time) is here in Myrtle Beach. We’re enjoying the off season, so it’s not too packed – but for some reason, the site we were on last year and now this year is popular….We wear ourselves out on the beach with our daily five mile walks. Since we have to go with the tides, or go at low tide. We have enjoyed the various “landscapes” the ocean and sky create. I’m sure a better camera would help capture these lovely scenes….maybe for Christmas???

    • Awe, thank you. Appreciate the compliment. The best camera to have, is the one you carry. I hate taking pictures with my iPhone 5 and thus always have one of my cameras with me. But I have friends that take amazing photos with their phones.
      Glad you’re getting in your steps. I have yet to hit the trails and am feeling very out of shape. Time to dig deep and find some motivation 😏

      • I love the ease of taking pictures with my iPhone 6. I do always have it with me! And a bottle of water so no place to carry a camera. When we’re at “scenic” places, Bill carries our Nikon P90 Coolpix. But it’s seriously lacking….

  17. I go through our log of pictures regularly, looking for one thing or another, and always come away with a wonderful feeling. We, too, have had so many wonderful experiences, a few bad to be sure, but looking back reinforces how right our choice to travel is.

    • Yeah, always one bad apple in the bunch i.e. broken truck, But the good ones make up for it …. hopefully. Look forward to getting together and catching up!

  18. One of the best birding spots I have fallen in love with is South Florida..and I DO mean SOUTH!. Big Cypress National Park, and Everglades National Park are unbelievable. However you must go in the late Fall and Winter or you will melt and get invaded by mosquitoes..and you will need reservations, (but because you are traveling with an old fart, it is half price camping!) SCORE!! It is an entirely different world than the Southwest..and if you are really adventerous, go all the way to the keys..Now there is something very different than the norm…We are headed to Texas this year, and I do love it there, but there is something about that tropical ocean ambience that draws me..maybe that’s why we loved Rockport/Fulton so much..sad.

    • I used to go to Florida a lot when we were in the airline industry and I know it’s not the same as RVing there, but it’s just not pulling us yet. Up until a couple of weeks ago, we were still on the fence about going to Texas this winter, and have recently decided to stay in Arizona. Truck issues and dental work played a huge role in the decision making ☹ You’ll have to say ‘hi’ to the birds for me!

  19. Nice camera Ingrid. 4K selfies beats any cell phone to death. The Lumix brand is awesome. I’m still loving mine and thanks again for the recommendation. My Canon DSLR has a rotating screen. Great feature for taking photos of items that are directly below or shooting a video. Will be interesting to see how your knew camera does with moving targets.

    • My Lumix FZ-200 also has the rotating screen which I love and use regularly. The selfie feature on this new camera is pretty nifty and the video quality is supposedly very good. BUT I have a lot to learn about video and am a little shy in front of the camera. Thus, we’ll see how much I use that feature. Having a new toy is always fun!

  20. Your black and white images are wonderful Ingrid. It’s an area of photography that I would love to improve upon. I will be anxious to hear how you like your new camera.

    • Thanks LuAnn. All this photography stuff sure knows how to challenge me 😅 but I enjoy every minute of it. I really like the new camera but it won’t replace my FZ-200. I’m thinking about getting the FZ-300 next year, but so far my 200 is holding up ok. The focusing frustrates me from time to time, but it’s still a great camera. I’ve read a lot of reviews on the 300 including Graham Houghton and everyone seems to think it’s worth the upgrade. All about the budget, ya know 😉

    • Thanks Brenda and welcome back to the valley of the sun yourself. You should step up to the B&W challenge. You’ve captured some beauties along your travels that would look amazing in monochrome.

  21. Hi Ingrid!! I’m living vicariously through you and having so much fun! Love all your tips! Excellent B&W photos. 6 years? Already? Congrats! Keep up the hard work!! Hugs, Brenda

    • Thank you Brenda. I had a great time switching these photos to monochrome. We’ve owned the RV for 6 years and part-timed with it the first two years before deciding to go full-time. I’m sure sometime in the near future, we’ll return to part-time.

  22. I really enjoyed your collection of black-and-whites, Ingrid — not only beautiful art but a fun treat to see different parts of the U.S. I found the penultimate one, “somewhere along the Texas Gulf Coast” especially intriguing and attractive. Happy trails to you!

    • Thank you Jet. That last photo is also a favorite of mine. It was early morning as I headed out before sunrise in search of the whooping cranes. As I drove closer to the coast, the fog thickened. I was drawn to the trees in the mist. As I listened to the whooping cranes calling to one another, I stood near the fence snapping away, all the while thinking, “How cool is this!” A fond memory that continues to make me smile.

  23. Great post! I too am not fond of black and white photography however the right capture in its own monochromatic style can become an exquisite beauty!

    It’s been fun getting together here and there while you both have been back in Phoenix. See you when we get back from our family gatherings in Pennsylvania. 😊

    • I was pretty pleased with these photographs. Thus, decided to share. Even with our truck and dental issues, we’ve enjoyed being back in Phoenix and the month of October flew by. And now we’re into mid November … egads, where does the time go? Enjoy your time with family and we’ll see ya when you return 😃

  24. I have an old LUMIX GX 7. It’s my daily camera. It is getting pretty worn from our many adventures.
    I’m spending 3 months in an pack-em-in RV Park: December through the end of February. I’ll be in New Orleans. I enjoy the street photography there.
    Have fun with the new camera.

  25. Good morning, Ingrid,
    what great b&w renderings! I’m still trying to decide which I like most. It’s really difficult, as they all appeal to me. Maybe the last two most? Well, as I said: not sure. Thnaks for showing all of them.
    Congratulations – belated – for your birthday, and for the new equipment.
    Have a wonderful time in AZ,

    • Since the last two pics were taken near the Texas Gulf Coast, it does not surprise me that you prefer those photos. You and I are both very fond of that part of the country. So far, the new camera is working out beautifully. I’ll be sharing photographs taken with the new camera soon.

  26. I am not one to use black and white photographs either, however it definitely adds something and you have chosen some great pictures to use!

    • Thank you and as much as I’m not a huge fan of B & W photography, I was rather pleased with a couple of these photos. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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