After a Few False Starts

I’m sitting at the kitchen table gazing out the window and beyond the deck. In the far distance Pikes Peak is covered in a low shroud of gray cloud cover. The chill in the air serves as another reminder that more snow is on the way. I’m feeling down! Even the dog seems depressed.

November 2011 – “Okay, time to snap out of it, Ingrid”, I mutter to myself. I allow my fingers to quickly move over the keyboard on my laptop. I Google everything I can think of with those two letters; R V. I come across some interesting articles and dive a little deeper. Blogs? Hmm, I think I heard that word once before on one of Paula Deen’s cooking shows on the Food Network. She had a guest on her show who wrote a very popular cooking blog called the Pioneer Woman. Prior to that, I’m not sure I’d ever heard the term before, and I still wasn’t sure exactly what it was.

Pueblo West, Colorado with a snow covered Pikes Peak in the background.

For years I was so busy working, being a wife, mother, and business owner that I rarely had enough time for myself let alone have the ability to just linger on the internet. But that all changed with the Great Recession, a poor housing economy, and an empty nest. I now found myself with more time on my hands than ever before. Time to daydream about RV travels. I gobbled up as much information as I could find and began reading RVing blogs, blogs all about RV travel.

I was green with envy as I read travel tale after travel tale accompanied by beautiful photographs. I wanted in. I wanted to be a part of the RV lifestyle. My poor RV had been sitting on the side of our house neglected for almost a year. It’s as if I could feel my mom’s presence as she stood over me saying, “What are you waiting for? If that’s what you want, go for it”.

There were many times in my life where I wished I had listened to my mom more often, and now that she was no longer physically here, I thought it would be a great idea to at least listen to her spirit or those voices in my head. Before long, I was studying Google Maps. I had to keep winter weather and winter driving conditions in mind while planning a trip.

Sitting on the side of the house hooked up and ready to go. We just need a break in the winter weather!

The makings of a plan

Where to go? I knew I wanted to go west and include a visit with our son in Phoenix. As I scour the map, two words jump out at me like a red beacon; Death Valley. Oh my gosh! I have wanted to visit Death Valley National Park for as long as I can remember. It sounds so foreboding, so mysterious, and fits my current gloomy mood.

I run the RV trip idea past Al. In September, just two months earlier, Al found himself flying back to Illinois to attend his mother’s funeral. He wasn’t in any better of a mood than I was and was rather indifferent to a getaway. Basically, his response was, “Go ahead and plan a trip and just let me know what direction I need to point the RV and when. AND don’t get us into a pickle, a situation that may damage the RV”.

Alrighty then! Let the planning commence. Oh, and I think I’ll start my own blog in the process. The blog will serve as my personal journal documenting this trip.

Darn weather!

It was now January 2012. With holiday decorations packed away after enjoying a very low key Christmas holiday with both children joining us in our new house in Pueblo West, it was finally time to set a timeline for that RV getaway. We were in the thick of winter weather in Colorado, and we’d have to plan our drive strategically to avoid icy roads. The previous winter, we had spun out in my little red Toyota Tacoma on some black ice near Trinidad, Colorado, and we certainly didn’t want to experience anything similar with the RV in tow.

After a few false starts due to snowstorms, we finally had a big enough break in the weather and were on the road in mid-February 2012. Two days later we arrived in Phoenix, and once again, we stayed at the Desert’s Edge RV Park on the north side of the valley for a couple of nights so we could get in a quick visit with our son.

Arizona Highway 95 near the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge

Next stop, Lake Havasu City

We were traveling in footloose and fancy-free fashion with no reservations, no real timeline, or a definite destination in mind other than Death Valley. We meandered along our route taking in the new sights and pulling over whenever we felt like it. Eventually, we arrived in Lake Havasu City and drove around looking for a camping option. The state park was full. The first private RV park we pulled into was also full. After a little more driving around, we pulled into the Crazy Horse Campground which was also booked up, but they had a large parcel of land outside of the RV Park where they allowed RVers to boondock for a fee which included the use of the restrooms/bath house located within the RV park.

Lake Havasu State Park Arizona
Exploring Lake Havasu City – looking for a place to camp!

We were fortunate the campground was booked.  The RV spots in the campground were tight and RVs were packed in like sardines. There was hardly enough elbow room between units. This was not what this newbie RVer had in mind when we set out on this journey. It’s all about being in nature for me and having a view out my window.

I loved our view and distance away from other RVers on this dirt parcel of land.  This overflow lot overlooks the lake and there’s plenty of room for everyone. We even had a fire ring for real campfires of which we took full advantage.

Even Bear enjoyed our boondocking campsite.
We loved our nightly campfires
The view from our campsite.

We loved staying at the overflow lot at the Crazy Horse Campground. It is located on an island, thus requiring us to cross the London Bridge for access.  It is within walking distance of the bridge, shops, restaurants, and lakeshore. The shoreline offers a lovely park setting with walking trails, a dog park, a marina, beaches, playgrounds, and picnic areas.  We took full advantage of this location and explored via foot every day.

Unbeknownst to us, we happened to pick the busiest and most popular weekend out of the year to visit Lake Havasu. The annual Winterfest is held every President’s Day Weekend in February. It’s a weekend filled with festivals, a car show, Rockabilly Concert, and Winter Blast. Winter Blast is a fireworks extravaganza. Spectacular fireworks are displayed by firework professionals who are testing the latest advances in the industry, culminating in a huge pyrotechnic show in the evenings.

Lake Havasu City was developed by Robert McCulloch in 1963 on the eastern shore of Lake Havasu. He later purchased the London Bridge, which was dismantled brick by brick and numbered and then shipped to Lake Havasu City from England.  It was reassembled and completed in 1971 and connects the island to the mainland and serves as a popular tourist attraction.

Interesting tidbit: After Robert McCulloch developed Lake Havasu City, he went on to develop Fountain Hills (1970), just east of Phoenix, as well as Pueblo West, Colorado (1969) – our home town from 2000-2013. All three communities were designed in a similar fashion and share many of the same street names.

The London Bridge

Lake Havasu City is a playground mecca for adults. The large lake offers visitors a host of water activities, and the land offers an endless amount of trails for off-roading and hiking. If you don’t have your own toys, there are dozens of places to rent the toy of choice; boats, wave runners, kayaks, ATVs, and more.

One unique and rather popular hobby around here is power gliding. At our campsite, we were buzzed regularly by what I liked to call flying lawnmowers.  Al was totally infatuated by the sight and ready to return to the skies. My initial thoughts were I don’t think so!  Although Al does not miss his commercial aviation days, he does occasionally miss those daring Naval aviation missions overseas. I left Al to his thoughts while he builds us another campfire and contemplates going up in a power glider.

Al and I did our best to explore as much as possible during our five-day stay in Lake Havasu City. We also befriended fellow campers/neighbors who had been visiting the area regularly over the years. These seasoned RVers were a wealth of information, and we gobbled up as much info as they were willing to share.

Just another gorgeous sunset over Lake Havasu

Funny campfire story!

One evening, our group of befriended neighbors were away attending the pyrotechnics show at Sara Park. They had invited us to join them, but we opted to avoid the big crowds by staying home and enjoying a quiet evening around the campfire. As we were doing just that, we noticed a man walking around in the dark, sometimes in circles. He seemed lost in his thoughts. We invited him over to our campfire.

We asked him if he was okay? “Not really”, he responded. As he continued to sip on his beer, he hesitantly began telling us his situation. His girlfriend was back at the RV having a heated phone conversation with his wife who was currently living with the girlfriend’s husband. Say what? I guess these two couples met years ago while boondocking at the magic circle in Quartzsite. The magic circle is just a small section of land in an otherwise massively large parcel of property managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM – Federal Government) located in Quartzsite, Arizona, and is a clothing-optional area.

Every winter, Quartzsite is inundated with thousands of RVers boondocking in this large sparsely vegetated desert. Many folks return year after year rendezvousing with friends and other like-minded RVers. Such was the case with these two couples, and as their friendship grew, they began swapping spouses. Once it was time to move on, each normally left with their legal spouses, but not after this most recent Quartzsite visit. The couples agreed to leave with the others’ spouses and reunite a few weeks later. But when a few weeks later rolled around, both women wanted to stay with the same guy, leaving our campfire friend feeling at a loss. He wanted his wife back, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to return. Thus, his conundrum.

Al and Ingrid at their campsite in Lake Havasu City

The next day, our campfire acquaintance and his girlfriend packed up and pulled out of camp leaving Al and me wondering what the outcome would be. Would they return to the magic circle and reunite with their fellow nudists? Would any of them remain married? We are left to our own imaginations.

A couple of days later, it was our turn to leave. We had new territory to explore. We left Lake Havasu a little wiser and definitely more enlightened. There were a lot of facets to this new RV life that we never imagined.

Lake Havasu State Park
Lake Havasu State Park

34 thoughts on “After a Few False Starts

  1. LHC is a great place to visit and live. Traffic is very little and easy city to get around in. I recommend it to all who love the great outdoors, nothing more scenic than the desert surrounded by mountains and water. You are even more fortunate if you share this beauty with someone you love. I sure miss my husband to share these moments with.

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    1. Totally agree … LHC is a great place to visit and live. We almost bought a house there a few years ago. There’s always something to see or do. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sure it’s challenging not having someone special to share in the joys of life. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. 😊

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  2. We love Lake Havasu City and wish we were there this winter. Staying in FL this year because most all of our family is on the East Coast.

    Thanks for sharing as it brings back some great memories of LHC and AZ in the winter.

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    1. I’m with you and love visiting LHC, and we are long overdo for a revisit. Since most of our family is in AZ, we find ourselves staying in Phoenix more and more and traveling less. I guess after 8 years of full-timing, we’ve slowed down. Hope you’re enjoying FL this winter. It has been a little colder than normal this winter in Phx, but I am not complaining. 😀

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  3. I love this story. I hope to buy a secondary home in Lake Havasu someday. Thsnks for rekindling my dream and sharing yours.

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    1. LHC is a great place to have a second home. We almost bought a house there a couple of years ago. Just couldn’t come to terms with the seller. Such a fun place to visit. There’s always something to do as well as doing nothing but enjoy a sunset.

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    1. Havasu is a really fun place to visit. There’s a little something for everyone as well as all kinds of lodging options. Great place to spend an extended weekend or even a weeks vacation!

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  4. HI, Ingrid – I am greatly enjoying your posts for your Blog to Book Series. It is wonderful to travel back with you to your early RV adventures. Your photos are beautiful and that campfire story made me read twice to ensure that I hadn’t missed something the first time around! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Donna. I have one or two more posts to finish and then I think I’m done with this first RV trip – the six-week road trip and then ready to tackle putting the book together. I can’t wait to see how it turns out before I start writing about the four-month road trip which lead us into moving into the RV full-time … decision made on a whim.

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  5. I’m trying to remember if we ever drove through there when I was a kid, Ingrid. I’m sure it’s changed. It was fun to read how you started blogging and you and Al went on your first real RV adventure. It was definitely kismet for you to be able to boondock away from the campground. My brother recently moved to Fountain Hills–they love it there! Lake Havasu is a place I would stand-up paddle, too. Thanks for including that map as well!

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    1. We boondocked right from the beginning. But then again, we already had the generator from our truck camping days, and as former tenters, we were used to not have services. Fountain Hills is a lovely community. We considered there as well as Havasu for potential houses. Still looking 😊

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  6. We visited Lake Havasu once when we had our first fiver…We stayed in a state park . That trip was the same one when we stayed at a campground in Vegas, broke a mirror and had 2 flat tires on the RV…Ahhh , the memories we make in RV’s….

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    1. As you well know Donna, those mishaps are all part of the RV adventure. We love visiting this part of AZ and almost bought a house in Lake Havasu City. I think we’ll stick to visits though.

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    1. Yeah, the London Bridge tale is very interesting. What I failed to mention was McCulloch confused the Tower Bridge and the London Bridge and once the London Bridge was fully reassembled in Havasu, he was sorely disappointed. Fun place to visit!

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    1. Oh, wouldn’t that be fun to know how things ended with those couples? Believe me, my husband and I kept an eye out for their RV over those first couple of years we traveled around AZ. There’s a lot of fun things to do in the area making Havasu a great vacation destination.

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  7. Ingrid,
    That campfire story is a hoot! Would love to know how it worked out (or maybe not). We visited Lake Havasu City on the same trip we met you and Al at Lost Dutchman. Loved the State Park Campground and enjoyed perfect weather. So glad you are sharing these posts with us. When did you get into photography? Have a great week! Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We meet the most interesting people in the RV community, don’t we? We love visiting Lake Havasu City. There’s such a variety of things to see and do in the area. The deeper we got into RVing and the more we traveled, the more interest I developed in landscape photography. As I post some of the older snapshots, I cringe a little, but then I’m reminded of where I started and notice my photo improvement over the years. Hope you and Helen are staying warm and dry!

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