Why I miss a Home Base | A Major Decision

Why I miss a Home Base | A Major Decision

The life of a nomad can appear glamorous. All you have to do is spend a little time on social media and the stunning images will have you longing to live a life of full-time travel. Yet those beautiful photographs don’t usually tell the whole story. I know I’m guilty of sharing predominantly the upside to RV living. Let’s face it, most people prefer to hear and see the positives of those living the nomadic life and ignore many of the realities.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told we’re living the dream which always makes me cringe. Ah, photographs, videos, and stories might appear like many nomads are indeed living a dream (and many feel they are), but in reality, there are days it’s far from a dream and more like a nightmare.

single lane tunnel in rearview mirror
RV won’t fit in that tunnel.

Travel fatigue, decision weariness, and sensory overload are real things.

My RVing friend, Laura at Chapter 3 Travels, recently wrote an article about travel burnout and the realities of living in an RV full-time. It’s a great read, and I would encourage any RV newbie or wannabe full-time RVer to read it.

Laura says … Because RVing has gotten so popular, and because a bunch of yahoo bloggers are all “blah, blah, blahing” about it online, there are more RVs on the road than ever before. What has not kept up is the supply of campgrounds. Ergo, supply and demand doing their thing means prices are going up and competition for choice sites is tougher than ever. Even worse, back in the olden days, there were plentiful options for boondocking on public lands. Now, many of those places are so overrun with RVers that public lands are actually closing down.

I couldn’t agree with Laura more and I accept the title of yahoo blogger knowing that she’s standing alongside me sharing that title.😁

Yep, traveling in an RV full-time ain’t what it used to be! Long gone are the days of traveling on a whim without reservations. Oh sure, Al and I still wing it when transitioning between locations, but we’re also willing to overnight in parking lots when campgrounds are full. (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, Casinos, Truck Stops, Rest Stops) Those transitional travel nights are the only time we wing it.

Unfortunately, all the planning and scheduling that’s necessary has taken some of the fun out of RVing and that sense of freedom has changed. RVing full-time can be very stressful!

RV traveling down a deserted road in Utah

Why we got a year-round RV site

We’re in our seventh year of living the nomadic life … living in an RV full-time. A lot has changed over the years, including us. We’ve changed the way in which we travel. We’ve changed our goals and priorities. We’ve definitely slowed down as our equipment and our bodies have aged. Say it isn’t so! But to be honest, we’ve always traveled at a slower pace than a lot of other full-time RVers. Perhaps that’s why travel burnout has taken a little longer to hit us.

Even at our slow pace, we feel downright tired. Tired of planning. Tired of making never-ending decisions. Tired of researching. Tired of wondering if we’ll break down. And tired of worrying.

Now mind you, we’re not done with RV travel. Nope, not even close! We still love the adventure and socializing with like-minded friends, but we feel even the most adventurous need a break from a steady diet of travel. This is why many full-time RVers, Al and I included, start missing a home base … a place to go back to on our terms and regroup. A place we call ‘home’.

Sandhill cranes standing in reflection water
We love hanging out with like-minded friends.

Over the past several years, we’ve actually put contracts in on a few houses but were always relieved when negotiations stalled. We soon realized, we weren’t quite ready for the commitment of a sticks and bricks dwelling and that’s when the thought of an RV lot came to mind. We first heard about RVers owning their own lot several years ago through the Escapees organization.

At the time, we were relatively new to Full-time RVing and the thought seemed ridiculous to us. After all, the whole point of RVing is to travel. Why would anyone want to sit in an RV Park for months at a time? Well, after years of living life on the road, we finally get it! And now we’ve decided to rent a year-round RV site.

Why we chose the Pioneer RV Park in north Phoenix

Since our children live in Phoenix, Arizona this is where we spend the most amount of time throughout the year, and because of that, we made Phoenix our legal domicile several years ago.

Considering Phoenix is a winter hot spot for snowbirds, having a reservation in this entertaining city is an absolute must, especially during the most popular months of January, February, and March. Also, prepare for the city to explode in population during those prime months making traffic potentially difficult, but the good thing is with that influx in people, there’s no shortage of like-minded folks to mingle with and meet, and personally, we like that … just another upside to Arizona.

wild iris

This is our third winter camping at the Pioneer RV Resort near Anthem, Arizona and it feels like home. It’s now our home base and a place we have the freedom to come and go without concerns of reservations or fears of backing in the RV. We know exactly which site is ours. It’s a place we can leave our second vehicle and a place where we feel a sense of community.

We decided to contract for an annual site last spring after our first six-month stay at the park. Six months in one location? Wow, we didn’t think we’d last that long without hitch-itch setting in, but we did. We also felt more relaxed than we had in years. Renting a year-round site seemed to solve most of our travel fatigue without making a long term commitment.

I’ll admit, paying the monthly rent on an RV site all summer while we were away, did grind at me, but when put into perspective, it’s not so bad. Let’s face it, if we had purchased a sticks and bricks house, we’d be paying property taxes and all the other things associated with homeownership every month including the months we are away traveling. So, this is no different and our monthly rental cost is significantly less expensive than most monthly expenditures for real estate.

crabapple with droplets of water

For now, this works and solves some of our weariness. And with a mere thirty-day written notice, my rental obligation is nullified. This is the perfect solution for two people with location commitment issues.🤣 Perhaps if we didn’t have children, we might have chosen a place to purchase real estate by now. Or maybe, we’d still be drifting around. One never knows!

A lot of our RV friends that hit the road full-time when we did have either come off the road altogether or have gone part-time or have purchased lots at the Escapees parks or other similar parks. Then there are others who rent annual lots at various RV parks throughout the country as we’ve decided to do.

This changes everything!

So, with a monthly commitment, Al and I won’t be rolling much in the next year or two. We know we’ll be spending 6-8 months living in Phoenix, and during the hot weather months, we’ll escape the heat by traveling north. We’ll probably spend 3 months this summer back in Hayward, Wisconsin doing a repeat of last summer. We enjoyed that visit with family so much so that we’re already looking forward to this summer’s trip.

Will I miss our winter travels? Absolutely! But the travel downtime and the knowledge of knowing where we’ll be sleeping is very much needed at this stage in our journey. 2021 might look the same or we might shake things up. Aren’t choices wonderful?

So, now you know our plans. We’re always open to connecting. So, if you
find yourself in the Phoenix area, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Happy trails!

mallard duck
(Thank you for shopping my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and very much appreciate your support ❤)

Lasko Ceramic Space Heater
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Frontier Soups Homemade in Minutes Variety Pack

February | Love, Baseball, and Wildflowers

February | Love, Baseball, and Wildflowers

The month of February ranks pretty high on my list of favorite times of the year. It wasn’t always that way. Nope, that didn’t happen until we started spending winters in the south. Here in Phoenix, Arizona, February marks the beginning of spring-like conditions.

Fairweather temperatures, sunny skies, and budding vegetation are telltale signs that the end of winter is near which always brings a smile to my face. Bye-bye winter, hello spring!

February weather in PhoenixSeriously, what’s not to love about February in the desert southwest?

February is the month the desert comes alive. Vegetation of all kinds come out of winter hibernation.

Plants are starting to bloom and by the end of the month, the desert explodes with color from wildflowers, cactus blooms, and budding trees and will continue well into April.

This time of year, the citrus trees are loaded with ripened fruit just waiting to be picked. And let me tell you, delicious doesn’t adequately describe the taste of freshly picked citrus.

My palate is indeed spoiled after picking my own oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. How will I ever eat store-bought citrus again?

Cactus League | Spring Training

February also marks the beginning of baseball spring training. Due to spring training and the gorgeous weather, mid-February and into March are the most popular times to visit the Phoenix valley.

It’s also the most expensive. RV Parks are booked well in advance and hotel room rates are nearly doubled in price. So, if getting up close and personal with your favorite ballplayer is high on your bucket list, be sure and plan well in advance for your Phoenix, Arizona visit.

There are ten stadium locations spread across the valley making it convenient to attend at least one baseball game during any visit. For a Cactus League schedule, click here.

Valentine’s Day in the southwest

Ah, but February isn’t just about baseball and wildflowers. It’s about love. Yes, spending Valentine’s Day in the desert southwest can be very romantic. There’s usually at least one chocolate festival to attend somewhere throughout the valley.

And as much as I love chocolate and indulge regularly, one of my favorite activities and challenges is to spot heart-shaped items while out hiking. I have a couple of friends who collect heart-shaped rocks … something I’d also love to do, but due to space and weight constrictions in my RV, rock collecting is not an option for me. Thoughts of The Long, Long Trailer and Lucille Ball come to mind.

Heart shaped cactus

With thoughts of Valentine’s Day nearing, I begin wondering what Al and I might do to celebrate. Would we celebrate? Perhaps a walk under the moonlight would be a romantic gesture. There are no shortages of great trails around Phoenix to do just that. Realistically, with my poor night vision, I’ll take a pass on night hiking but I would consider the short hike up to Hole in the Rock at Papago Park to watch the sunset, but sharing this cozy spot with twenty-some other people might fall shy of my romantic expectations.

My thoughts are leaning more towards a quiet evening out dressed in something other than hiking attire … maybe! Living in a major city offers a variety of cuisine options. Between Phoenix and Scottsdale, there’s no shortage of award-winning restaurants with food ranging from signature southwestern dishes to interesting international fare and every option in between.

owl couple
Happy couple hanging out together!

I love trying out new restaurants and usually focus on ordering a dish I don’t normally make at home. Then my quest is to try and recreate said dish at some point in the near future back at the RV … with the proviso that Al and I enjoyed the meal.

Ah, with no shortage of romantic options in Arizona, I’m sure Al and I will come up with something to do! How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

                         How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
                                By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

                         How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
                         I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
                         My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
                         For the ends of being and ideal grace.
                         I love thee to the level of every day’s
                         Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
                         I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
                         I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
                         I love thee with the passion put to use
                         In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
                         I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
                         With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
                         Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
                         I shall but love thee better after death.

love is in the air

What is your favorite month of the year and why?

(Thank you for shopping my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and really appreciate your support ❤)

Valentine’s Day Tower of Hearts
Gold Heart Necklace
101 Famous Poems

Derailed Goals and Being Interviewed

Derailed Goals and Being Interviewed

The last week of January passed in a blur and not in a good way. Talk about a wasted week. The majority of my time was spent on the couch hugging a box of kleenex while watching daytime TV. Although the severe head cold made normal function difficult, my brain was further negatively impacted by the TV watching. After a week of watching daytime TV, I’m sure I have some fried brain cells causing my IQ to drop dramatically. Seriously, who watches this stuff?

I was so ill that I didn’t even turn my computer on for three full days. I know! That meant I was really really sick. I’ll admit, I did use my iPhone to try and stay somewhat connected, but even that was more effort than my ailing mind and body could handle.

I’m finally on the mends … but slowly.

So much for New Year’s goals/resolutions

Ah, the month started out so well. I was focused. I was hitting the trails and getting in my steps. I was eating healthy.  Yep, 2020 was off to a great start. And then … the pain in my left foot (that I’d been ignoring) continued to worsen. Turned out to be a textbook case of Plantar fasciitis. Okay, I got this … nothing I can’t fix!

With new shoe inserts and some at-home therapy, I was ready to jump back into hiking … slowly. Plans were made with friends and I was eager to get back to that list of goals. That is until I was knocked between the eyes with the worst head cold that I’ve experienced in years. My life came to a screeching halt.

flowering cactus

This too shall pass, and with each day, I begin to feel a little more like me again. I’ll give myself the time to fully recover before I start jumping back into active life. The TV remains off as I once again feel brain function returning. Now I’ll need to focus on recovering those lost brain cells.🥴 I hope to do that by getting caught up with you all.

Being interviewed

On a lighter note, before I fell ill, I was interviewed. How cool is that! Doing the interview was actually fun and has once again piqued my interest in doing more of my own videos. Baby steps, I remind myself!

My interviewer: Debbie, “From She to Me“. I first met Debbie and her husband last year via her brother, Dick. Dick and his wife were our winter neighbors last year, and they are also the couple who generously offered us a place to stay last summer while we dealt with our storage units back in Colorado.

I hope you enjoy Debbie’s video. Oh, and if you’re thinking about Van Life or heading up to Alaska, be sure and check out her other videos. BTW – My interview starts about five minutes in – 5:34. Enjoy!

 

Thank you for shopping my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and really appreciate your support ❤)

YouTube Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Following and Making Money
GoPro HERO8 Black Action Camera

How to Live the Snowbird Life

How to Live the Snowbird Life

Sometimes an inclement weather day is exactly what I need to get caught up on computer work and world happenings. Upon opening my computer, I was quickly drawn to the news articles on the weather happenings to the north. Ah, and to think I was a little grumpy about Phoenix, Arizona’s misting rain and 55 degrees Fahrenheit temp (12 celsius) while our neighbors to the north were experiencing temperatures in the minus reading and snow measured in feet. Oh, how I’m glad we snowbird.

The cool, damp, foggy weather felt more like I was camped along the Texas Gulf Coast instead of the desert southwest. It hadn’t rained in weeks and the moisture was very much needed. The desert always feels alive after a rainstorm, and the rain will hopefully aid in a good showing of spring wildflowers. Those blooms should actually start popping up in February, and I assure you, I have my hiking shoes and camera ready.

Spending winters in the southern region of the United States and summers in the north country is a fantastic way to live. I’m sure many can agree that taking a lesson from migrating birds is a great idea. Sure, winters in the north can be beautiful and fun especially when you’re sitting next to a warm fire, wrapped in your favorite blanket, sipping hot cocoa after an enjoyable day spent playing in the snow.

On the other hand, commuting to work in a snowstorm or digging your vehicle out of four feet of snow while wearing three layers of clothing isn’t much fun at all (IMHO). Al and I are enjoying our eighth snowbird season, and although, there are times I miss our winter excursions to the Colorado Rockies, I do not miss the cold and scary driving conditions … nor the shoveling and windshield scraping.

A lone dock at Sunrise across the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.

So what is a snowbird?

Basically, a snowbird is a person who travels from the colder regions of North America to the warmer southern locales during the winter months. These southern locales usually include the Sun Belt region of the United States, along with Mexico and the Caribbean. It used to be, snowbirds were primarily older retired people with plenty of time on their hands. With location independent jobs and work camping opportunities, there has been an increase in all ages living the snowbird life, particularly in the RVing community.

How to start snowbird living – 5 Tips

1. How to pick the best destination. Picking the perfect snowbird destination depends on one’s interests. You’ll want to choose a place that reflects your lifestyle and your interests. You may not want to make a decision based on past vacations. Let’s say your yearly one-week vacation to the beach to chill and relax was something you always looked forward to. That vacation was a break from regular life and being lazy on the beach was exactly what you needed at that time, but the rest of the year your interests and passions are centered around a more physically active lifestyle. If that’s the case, spending 3 to 5 months on a beach in Florida may not fit your active lifestyle. Remember, this isn’t a vacation but a lifestyle. So, if mountain biking and hiking are more to your liking then perhaps Arizona might be a better fit than a coastal location.

Therefore, figure out what kind of activities most reflect the way YOU like to live. Is dining out something that’s important? Then picking a place with a variety of restaurants should be a consideration. Think about how you want to spend your time? What will a typical day look like? If you’re still working, what are the time demands? Choosing a time zone might be important to think about. Do you prefer a lush landscape or are you drawn to the arid desert southwest?

There are so many things to take into consideration. I actually recommend changing things up your first couple of winters and discover what fits best for you? Al and I spent our first several winters as full-time RVers splitting our snowbird winters between the Texas Gulf Coast and the Arizona desert.

A camera on a beach photography a dock at sunset
I enjoy spending my days behind a camera. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beach, the desert, a city, or wilderness, I embrace it all, but no snow, please!

2. Baby steps. Once you have a few destinations in mind, it’s time to test the snowbird lifestyle. I don’t recommend you go all-in on one location the first year. You really won’t know if you love it until you live it and won’t know if you’ve chosen the right spot until you’ve spent several weeks there. So whether you’re RVing, Airbnb-ing, or hoteling, don’t book the entire winter in one place for your first try at snowbirding.

You may find one or two months is plenty of time away from home during that first winter. We know a lot of people who spend the holidays in the north and then head south for only a month or two, usually January and February. They’ve learned what works for them.

Others, especially RVers, start their southerly trajectory at the beginning of November and don’t return north until sometime in April. For RVers with hitch-itch, you may choose to move every week or two trying out different places in the south. You’ll want a snowbird season or two under your belt to figure out what works best for you.

3. Paying bills. Long before you head off on that snowbird venture, you’ll want to go electronic with all your bills. Years ago, it was difficult to keep up with everyday life when you were away from home. Quite often we’d have to implore the help of a neighbor, family member, or friend. Times have changed and as long as you have internet service, there’s a way to keep up with bills.

IbisSince Al and I live in our RV full-time, we use a UPS Store as our mailing address. Technology has made a mobile lifestyle so much easier, and because of that, you don’t even have to be retired to join this flock of warm weather seekers.

4. Friendships. Leaving familiar territory behind can be scary to many. Fears of loneliness and leaving friends behind are a huge concern.

Fear not! With so many communities in the south catering to snowbirds, lots of folks find themselves with a full social schedule. It’s just a matter of saying hi and introducing yourself to neighbors.

Social engagement is extremely easy in the RVing community. It can be a little more challenging for other types of travel, but in general, the choice is yours to be as social or anti-social as you care to be.

I’ve made so many wonderful friends via this blog … RVers and non-RVers alike, and it’s always fun meeting in person.

5. Slow down. If possible, you’ll want to take your time traveling back and forth between your northern and southern locations. By stretching out the drive, you can see sights along the way. Enjoy the journey and not just the destination.

Last spring, Al and I took almost a month to travel from our snowbird home (RV Park) in Arizona to our summer home in northern Wisconsin (family property). To say we took our time might be an understatement. We had a great time visiting friends and taking in sights along the way.

When we are sure that we are on the right road there is no need to plan our journey too far ahead. No need to burden ourselves with doubts and fears as to the obstacles that may bar our progress. We cannot take more than one step at a time. – Orison Swett Marden

The best thing about RV snowbirding

The best thing about being an RV snowbird is our mobility. We’re able to travel as quickly or slowly as we choose, and if we end up somewhere that we’re not thrilled about, we can easily pack things up and move to a new location.

However … with the increasing popularity in RV travel, without a reservation during those peak winter months, you may find yourself with few to no options to park your RV, especially in highly desirable places. Even in the west, we’ve seen a decrease in boondocking options and RV Parks are at capacity during the months of January, February, and March. So, a little extra planning might be in order.

Although Al and I have settled down for the season in an RV Park in Phoenix, Arizona, we didn’t start off doing so during our early snowbird years. Our first snowbird trip lasted only seven weeks due to work obligations. Wanting to take in as many sights as possible, we moved around the desert southwest exploring.

F250 Truck and a Keystone fifth wheel camped near the shores of Lake Powell, Page, Arizona

We traveled similarly during our second winter, but during our third winter, we had become full-time RVers and changed up our travels. We split up our winter in the south between the Texas Gulf Coast and Arizona desert and continued those winter sojourns for the next three years up until Hurricane Harvey struck and severely damaged several of our favorite Texas locations.

Although Texas has recovered, for the most part, Al and I have found an RV community and developed friendships such that we’re content staying stationary at this RV park in Phoenix for the winter… for now, anyway. With that said, I’m not done traveling to the Gulf Coast. So many choices, so little time!

So, where do you spend your winter?

(Thank you for using my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and really appreciate your support ❤)

Seven Sundays Blueberry Muesli
Winter Warm Touchscreen Gloves for Women or Men
Land O’ Lakes Hot Cocoa Classics Variety Pack

One of a Kind Sights in Arizona

One of a Kind Sights in Arizona

While resting on a large boulder, I try to quiet my mind and take in my surroundings. I’m on one of my morning nature hikes. The sounds of birds chirping, water trickling in a babbling creek mere steps from my feet, and the sun warming my body remind me why I enjoy wintering in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s January and there are no harsh snowstorms for me to worry about. The occasional rainstorm accompanied by high winds is about as bad as it gets. Sure, the temps on rare occasion may drop into the 30 degrees Fahrenheit range (-1 celsius) for an overnight low, but those nights are few and far between. Even then, the days will warm up into the 50s and 60s … perfect for me to lace up my hiking shoes and hit the trails.

America’s fifth-most-populated city is home to red-rock buttes, beautiful scenery, and the kind of cactus most people see only in cartoons. I don’t know about you, but when I used to envision a desert, thoughts of dull, boring, remote, dry, hot, and maybe even dangerous came to my mind. Boy, was I wrong! The Sonoran Desert is anything but boring … it’s still hot and dry, but never boring, dull, or unattractive.

Saguaro Cactus and a lake reflection at sunset at Lake Pleasant Phoenix Arizona
Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix, Arizona

A few desert facts.

Did you know deserts cover about 20% of the Earth? Deserts are characterized by extreme environmental conditions with little precipitation. Yet with minimal rainfall, they are able to inhabit plant and animal life. I’m totally enamored with deserts, especially the Sonoran Desert here in Arizona. Deserts are a fascinating ecosystem, but not all deserts are created equally. There are four types of deserts;

  • hot and dry (Arizona’s Sonoran Desert)
  • semi-arid (America’s Great Basin)
  • coastal (Atacama Desert in Chile)
  • cold (Greenland)

The Sonoran Desert in Arizona is real.

As a child growing up in the Midwest among lush green vegetation, I never had any aspirations of living in a desert. As a matter of fact, I thought those images of red rock bluffs, three-armed cactus, and ever abundant tumbleweed were a fabrication of cartoonists. I remember watching the cartoon “The Road Runner” which took place in America’s southwest. Ah, poor Wile E. Coyote!

a wild coyote walking through the neighborhood

The thought of art imitating life wasn’t something I had considered. The scenery, vegetation, and animals drawn in the cartoon seemed surreal to me, but real they are. You can imagine my excitement when I saw my first ‘real’ road runner, not to mention laying eyes on the strange yet beautiful landscape of the desert southwest. And the night-time howling of a coyote always brings a smile to my face. Yeah, living in the desert can be exciting.

a wild road runner on a boulder in Arizona
Road Runner in Arizona: beep, beep!

image of the Sonoran Desert with hot air balloons in the sky

The star of Arizona

Although there are so many things that make a desert special, the real star and main attraction of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the saguaro cactus.  It took me weeks of living among these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly – pronounced: sa-wha-ro.

saguaro cactus with interesting clouds Phoenix ArizonaEach saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own.  The Sonoran Desert’s bi-seasonal rainfall pattern results in more plant species than any other desert in the world, and it’s the only place in the world where you’ll see saguaro cactus growing naturally.

The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus that can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters) and is native to the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years. It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop one side-arm.  Arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity … more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.

Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two in its first eight years.  The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location.  Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater and the cactus will visibly expand.  This might explain why the desert feels so alive after a rainfall.  The cacti are doing a happy dance!

Every saguaro cactus seems to have its own individual personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like a cartoon character and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two identical.a forest of saguaro cactus, Tonto National Forest, ArizonaWhat is a Crested Saguaro?

Why are some cactus crested?  Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms.  The growing tip on rare occasions produces a fan-like form which is referred to as crested or cristate.  Biologists disagree about why some saguaro grow in this unusual form.  Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, or freeze damage.  For whatever reason, their pattern growth is fascinating.

Five Favorite Finds

Five Favorite Finds

Happy Sunday everyone! It has been a busy yet productive week around the RV this past week. First off, I’ve been in major cleaning mode and the RV is smelling fresher than ever. It started with cleaning out my closet and then diving into cabinets and drawers. It’s amazing how much stuff two people living in less than 300 square feet can accumulate.

Mid-week I ended up doing seven loads of laundry. Only two loads were filled with the everyday clothes that we wore that week, the rest of the loads were bedding, towels, blankets, and jackets. I didn’t start out the day with the intention to do all that laundry, but when I checked the laundry room here at the RV park at 7:00 in the morning and found the place empty, well let’s just say, I took over the machines.

It felt good to get caught up on that part of my to-do list, and what was even better was getting all that laundry done in two hours while chit-chatting with my good friend Faye. She and I could not have timed/planned our laundry day any better. Lucky for her, I didn’t take over all the machines and she was able to do a few loads herself. Love those serendipitous encounters!

a bird on a wire fence

Okay, with some of the chores out of the way, let’s get back to blogging. I’d like to start a new feature here on the blog, and I’d like to know what you think. Once a month, I plan on sharing some of my favorite things. Thanks to other bloggers sharing their favorites, I’ve discovered interesting products, delicious recipes, entertaining books, TV shows, and even places I’d like to visit.

Perhaps this is a topic some of you would like to join in on and share your favorites on your blog. This could be a blog subject similar to the photo challenges that allow us to engage and share. So once a month, we can all post about a favorite find, a thing, a moment, a tasty restaurant, a great book, or any other subject that you are enjoying and think others might also find interesting. What do you think? I’d really love your input.

Without further adieu, let’s jump into my five favorite finds for the month of January.

1. Hangers

I know, I know, how boring are closet hangers? Well, let me tell you, these thin hangers have been a lifesaver. Ok, well maybe not a lifesaver, but a space saver. Just making the switch from those round plastic hangers to these thin guys has eliminated my morning battle of dealing with a jam-packed closet. By simply switching the kind of hangers I was using, I gained about six to eight inches of hanging space which is huge in an RV closet.

While cleaning and reorganizing my closet, these flat plastic clothes hangers allowed me to hold onto a few more clothing items … which may or may not have been a good idea. Although I must say, I’m proud of myself and did end up parting with a pile of T-shirts. Yep, a pile! This gal has a serious T-shirt addiction that I’m working on rectifying in the new year. 2020 is my year not to succumb to purchasing any more of those location tourist T’s. It helps that we won’t be visiting too many new places this year.

I happen to purchase the hangers at Walmart and bought some with the rubber grip while others are just plain. The rubber grips are great for shirts that have a wide neck or for items that require a little more hold. I like the plain ones for my everyday T’s. You can also get the thin hangers covered in a velvet kind of finish, but I’m not a fan of those. They seem like they could be dust collectors plus I’m just not a fan of the way they feel.

(By the way, some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The price remains the same. Should you use a link, I thank you and appreciate your support. ❤)

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent my weekend alone at my daughter’s apartment. No, Al and I did not have a fight … besides, he can’t get rid of me that easily. I was doggie sitting. My daughter agreed to watch her best friend’s two chihuahua’s for the holiday weekend but was later offered an excellent money-making dog/house sit gig. So she was faced with a scheduling dilemma. That’s when I stepped in and offered to watch her friend’s dogs at my daughter’s place. Trust me, there was a little bartering involved. So it wasn’t totally out of the goodness of my heart.

Along with the bartering were a few perks while residing at my daughter’s apartment. Aaahhh, a weekend to myself with a ‘normal‘ toilet, a 40-gallon water heater instead of the 6-gallon in the RV which allowed me to take long hot showers without turning off the water while sudsing up (luxuries nonRVers take for granted), and then there was every streaming service available with unlimited internet. Yeah, I was living in tall cotton!

It was during this dog sitting gig that I discovered the Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I ended up binge-watching season 1 and 2 and now that season 3 is out, I’m trying to convince my daughter that I need to come over to her place and spend the weekend. So far, no luck! BUT I may have another option up my sleeve soon. Seriously, this show is super entertaining.

3. RV Water Filter

Safe clean drinking water is a subject that affects all RVers and some sort of water filter should always be used. With that said, the size and type of RV that you have will have a direct impact on what kind of filtration system you choose. Most RVers start off with a carbon type of filter; ease and size are usually the number one reasons. Large RVs may have a more complex filtration system installed, but most of us struggle with space making a carbon inline water filter the best option.

Drinking water

We were recently gifted a CLEAR2O® RV inline water filter and have been super happy with its performance. The tap water in Phoenix usually has visible particles floating around in it. So when I filled up a glass with tap water directly from my RV kitchen faucet and saw how clear it was, I was impressed.

I’ll admit, I was unfamiliar with the CLEAR2O® product line so I ended up doing a little research namely to see what the differences are between this filter and the blue Camco filter that so many RVers seem to use.

So what are the differences?

  1. Camco uses Granular Activated Carbon for filtration. The CLEAR2O® CRV2006 RV filter uses solid-block carbon for filtration which is said to be a much better filtration medium due to its density.
  2. The CLEAR2O® filters down to the 1-micron level. Camco has several RV filters and only one filters down to 5 microns.
  3. Because of its low-micron filtration level, CLEAR2O® CRV2006 is particularly effective against chlorine, sediment, heavy metals, lead, mercury, chemicals, and pesticides.

clear2O Dirtguard RV filterIn our personal opinion, we think this filter does a better job than the Camco carbon filter. If we change our minds in the future, I’ll be sure and let you know, but so far, so good. And since we’re still in the first month of use, I’m unable to know for sure how long it’ll last, but I’m guessing at least six months or more.

The company is also coming out with a new product called DirtGUARD which will be the first RV inline prefilter that snaps on to any existing RV carbon inline filter (including Camcos), essentially turning it into a dual-stage system. This sounds promising and a product that would be beneficial to a lot of RVers especially for those of us that struggle with extra storage space.

4. Books

Ok, it’s January and a lot of people made a resolution to lose weight, me included. I first came across The How Not to Die Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease at Costco which then lead me to discover the author’s first book; How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. With my curiosity piqued, I headed off to my local library and checked out these two books.

                     

I’m always fascinated by the science behind the power of food and truly believe, we are what we eat. Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that we consume, the better our skin will look, and the better our body will be able to ward off disease.

I’m still working my way through these books and although the focus is on a plant-based diet, I assure you I won’t be giving up my carnivore status anytime soon. I’m one of those people who believe in all things in moderation. Will I go a day or two without consuming meat? Sure, but I believe going strictly meatless can have its negative effects especially if one isn’t consuming enough proteins found from plant-based foods. That’s my two cents, anyway!

In future posts, I plan on sharing how Al and I eat these days and the diets we’ve followed in the past. The RV mobile lifestyle can be challenging when it comes to diet, exercise, and focusing on healthy habits, but we’ve found a system that works for us… well kind of, we’re still a work in progress!

a female hiking across a creek in Arizona

5. Hiking

One of the activities that fall into that healthy category is hiking. Hiking is my favorite form of exercise and I’m loving being back on the trails this winter. Before we embarked on our full-time RV adventure, I rarely hiked. Sure, I walked plenty but mostly city stuff or the occasional vacation trail exploration that I did in tennies. I didn’t own a pair of hiking shoes until seven years ago. After all, you’re talking to someone who used to live in 3-inch heels when she was younger, and the thought of wearing a pair of ugly hiking shoes would never have crossed my mind.

My how times have changed! These days, I live in my Merrells and don’t even own a pair of high heels anymore, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like strolling in natural ingesting the sights, sounds, and smells. It makes me feel alive, it’s my church, my escape, and one of my favorite things to do.

I’m lucky that we spend our winters in Phoenix, Arizona. The valley has one of the best trail systems around offering everything from flat easy hikes to challenging uphill climbs and everything in-between. Phoenix has more land designated for parks and preserves than any other major city in the country. While out on these trails, it’s hard to believe you’re in a metropolitan area. The topography and views vary such that boredom is unlikely to be a factor, and of course, the winter weather in Phoenix is perfect for hiking as well as other outdoor activities.

So there you have it, my five favorite finds in January. Please share some of your favorites!

barrel cactus

 

Are They Goals or Resolutions?

Are They Goals or Resolutions?

As I switch out the calendar hanging on my wall, I’m saddened by the thought that 2019 has come to an end. I had a fantastic year, a year filled with good health, mingling with friends old and new, lots of time connecting with family, and traveling in a relaxing sort of way. So, as I reflect on the passing of yet another year, I look toward the future.

Not only is it a new year but a new decade. 2020 sounds so George Jetson like, doesn’t it? And although we may not have a Rosie in our lives, we do have Alexa, Siri, Roomba, self-driving cars, smartphones, and all the other gadgets out there that supposedly make our lives easier. I’d say, we’ve come a long way in the past decade and it’ll be interesting to see where this new decade takes us.

spreading your wings. a sculpture with wings out stretched
Spreading our wings in 2020

Resolutions are made up of goals.

Yeah, 2019 was a good year for me, an excellent year, but there’s always something refreshing about changing out that calendar. With a new year and a new decade in front of me, I feel a sense of a blank slate that needs to be filled with hopes, dreams, and goals. I don’t usually do the whole New Years Resolution thing per se, but I do think about loosely set goals. However, goal setting, in general, is something I consider regularly and not just yearly.

Hmm, I wonder what’s the difference between resolutions and goals?

While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are intertwinded. Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something. Goal: the object of a person’s amibition or effort; an aim for a desired result.

Goals provide a direction to follow to achieve a desired outcome. Goals involve planning, preparing, and taking action. Ah, I do have goals indeed and perhaps even a resolution thrown in the mix just for fun.

My top five goals for 2020

  1. Eat healthier and hopefully lose a few pounds (isn’t this on everyone’s list?)
  2. Exercise more – get more physically fit (again, popular)
  3. Save more, spend less money (this should be on everyone’s list)
  4. Blog consistently – for fun and to provide helpful information
  5. Embrace cooking and try new recipes regularly.
blueberry coffee cake baked in a cast iron skillet
I wonder, will I be baking as much in 2020?

Ah, I’m sure those top three goals aka resolutions are on most peoples list and usually are every year. Guess I’m not being too original, but I’m ok with that. However, seeing these goals down on paper (or rather computer screen) seems like a lot to be working on all at once. I know I’ll have good days and bad days achieving these goals, but I’m hoping by writing things down via a daily journal that I’ll have more successes than failures. I assure you my computer’s cookies are loaded with how-to “bullet point journal”. Did someone say cookies? 🍪🍩🍪

It also helps that Al, darling husband, shares these same goals … well, except for #4 and #5. First, he doesn’t blog, and second, he doesn’t cook, but rather encourages me to cook and him to suffer through the taste testing. Don’t you feel sorry for him? Actually, he can cook when he has to, but not the kind of dishes I’d eat … very bachelor/guy kind of stuff. Between you and me, I don’t think even he likes his own cooking. He much prefers encouraging me in the kitchen and he’ll even run to the grocery store to help me out. Awe, isn’t he sweet? Did someone say, Sweets? (Diets suck!)

So now that you know my goals for 2020, I’m relying on you to help keep me accountable 😆

a mysterious path in the forest
What does your path look like in 2020?

2020 Travel Plans

Having lived and traveled in our RV fulltime since 2013, we’ve slowed down the last couple of years … not that we ever crisscrossed the country like some RVers or had any specific travel goals in mind like visiting all 50 states. No, we’ve always planned our travels more on a whim and keeping visits with our children in mind.

Now that both kids live in Phoenix, Arizona, it makes travel planning super easy, at least the winter plans. We enjoy spending the winters in Phoenix and the rest of the year is determined by the direction we point the RV.

Last summer, we spent three months camped on Al’s sister’s property near Hayward, Wisconsin … lakefront property I might add. We had a great time, so much so, that we’ll be doing a repeat this summer. We do have a few out and back trips into Minnesota and the Upper Penisula of Michigan planned, but we’ll have to see how that all plays out. Ya know how that goes … plans written in jello with lots of wiggle room.

The main difference between last year’s travels and this year will be the journey between Phoenix and Hayward. Last summer we took almost four weeks to drive the nearly 2,000 miles. This year we don’t plan on meandering but rather focus on the destination and hightailing it in about four days. Our route will be determined by spring storms and the avoidance of running into Dorthy and Toto aka tornados. Yeah, the month of May can be a dicey month crossing the Great Plains and keeping an eye on weather conditions is paramount.

reflections in water
reflecting on life

Happening around our RV

Even though we’re only five days into the New Year, I’m down a pound. My meal planning has been successful and my legs are feeling the activity. So far, so good! And things on the blogging plan front? Well, that still needs a ton of attention. I’m still suffering from a creative block. That’s a real thing, isn’t it? I haven’t been out with the camera much and I certainly haven’t been writing. Perhaps I just need a nudge and if that means staring at a blank computer screen for thirty minutes or just taking random photos of something, that’s what I plan on doing to try and get myself back into a creative mood … ya know, get those creative juices flowing again. After all, that’s when I’m at my happiest; when I’m creating.

I’m excited about the possibilities, goals, and plans for 2020. Whether I’m exploring new places or revisiting some old favorites, my hope is to start the new decade on a positive note and keep it going throughout the new year and beyond.

How about you? What are you looking forward to the most in the new year?

quote carved in a stone bench Where do we go from here
Where do we go from here?

(Thank you for using my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and really appreciate your support ❤)

Star Right Bullet Notebook Journal Set
Bullet It!: A Notebook for Planning Your Days, Chronicling Your Life, and Creating Beauty
Instant Loss: Eat Real, Lose Weight

Happy Holidays and Cyber Friends

Can you believe 2019 is coming to an end? I don’t know about you, but this year really flew by. I’m actually sad to flip the calendar. We had a fantastic year shared with friends new and old and saw sights that were also new and old. Returning to some favorite stomping grounds in 2019 was definitely one of several highlights for me.

This past month, Al and I have been spending time with friends and family and loving every moment. As we get older, the holidays are a sharp reminder of those no longer across the table from us. And although their laughter is truly missed, the loving memories will remain forever in our hearts.

a burning candle surrounded by pine cones

However you celebrate the light in your life, I wish you the very brightest of holidays. Al and I raise a glass to you and yours and wish you another year filled with fun adventures, memory-making, and lots of time spent with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cyber friends I met in person in 2019

Gosh, I hope I haven’t missed anyone. The past couple of years, I’ve slacked off on my blog posts and don’t always share the amazing people we meet living this RV lifestyle. My goal for 2020 is to do better 😏. I’d also like to mention the fine folks out there that don’t blog yet have reached out to us via email. We are always grateful and humbled by complete strangers opening their homes to us.

I love my cyber community and every time I toy with the thought of ending my blog journey, I’m reminded by the amazing friendships that have been forged via this medium with bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Nope, I think I’ll keep writing and sharing my photos as long as you all continue to stop by.

Thank you for visiting and thank you for your friendship ❤

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

three ladies share food on Thanksgiving
Joodie from ‘Chasing Dirt, Mona Liza from Lowes Travels, and me on Thanksgiving Day. A big thank you to Joodie and Mark for hosting!

(Thank you for using my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The price remains the same. I really appreciate your support ❤)

Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot: 60 Easy One-Pot Recipes for Fast Weight Loss
Resistance Bands Set – Workout Bands
National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.

Gift Ideas for Him and Her Under $50

The holiday season is once again upon us and shopping for gifts is in full swing. I think I’m one of those rare people who enjoys the whole holiday shopping frenzy. It doesn’t matter if I’m strolling through stores or scrolling on the internet, I enjoy the Christmas gift shopping process.

Snow Mountain Ranch, renting a winter cabin in Colorado, #cabininthewoods
Are you in the holiday spirit? I am! When our children were young, this is where we used to spend Christmas – Granby, Colorado

This year, our small family has decided to keep Christmas gift-giving simple and stay within a budget-friendly range. As I was jotting down ideas and switching from my recipe search to gift idea search on the internet, I thought I’d share some products that I came across which I believe would make great gifts for him or her. Maybe you’ll find this post helpful with your own quest for the perfect holiday gift. (This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The cost is the same. I appreciate your support.)

Gift Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether I’m RVing in our 5th wheel with my husband or embarking on one of my crazy camping adventures with my daughter, there’s some equipment that I feel are an absolute must-have for any outdoor enthusiast. At the top of that list are a headlamp and flashlights. Tripping over a tree root in the dark is no fun … at least that’s what I’ve heard😉 And flashlights and headlamps make great stocking stuffers or box fillers.

A great gift idea for anyone, whether you RV or not, is an Emergency Weather Radio. You never know when a life-threatening storm will head our way. Weather conditions are definitely something we want to be kept up to date on and we can’t count on a Cell phone or WiFi signal working during those severe weather conditions. Another must-have and great gift idea for anyone is a multi-tool. My husband uses his regularly, and we gave both of our adult children one a few years ago for Christmas. My daughter used her multi-tool during our Zion camping trip … and maybe we used a few things from our first aid/survival kit as well, but I’ll never tell.

Gifts for enjoying the outdoors in comfort.

With the necessary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about some fun stuff. Although, these are still necessary in my book. I’d be lost without my outdoor camping chair and throw blanket … gotta be comfy watching those sunsets during happy hour. We use and abuse our canvas chairs and end up replacing them every couple of years or so. Do you have a sports fan who loves tailgating? These chairs are perfect for camping, tailgating, and going to the beach.

And let’s not forget about quenching our thirst. I love these adventure enamel camping mugs for my morning coffee or campfire hot cocoa, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stainless steel tumblers that are perfect for cold or hot beverages. Wine, anyone? These make the best wine glasses! But my most treasured beverage container is the large travel bottle that I take everywhere with me filled with hydrating water. When ya live in the desert half the year like I do (Phoenix, Arizona), staying hydrated is important.

Living in a tiny home like an RV where space is limited, storage is always an issue. It’s not like we have extra space to store multiple coolers. I found this collapsible cooler bag last year and absolutely love it. It came in super handy on Thanksgiving Day when we visited some fellow RVers and needed to bring/transport cold beer and deviled eggs.🦃🍺🌵

The cooler bag is also perfect for taking to the beach as are these versatile Turkish Bath and Beach Towels. Since these towels fold up small and dry fast, they are perfect for any traveler wanting to take their own towel along. Speaking of traveling, when my daughter and I visited Disneyland and she engaged in the Play Disney App, the app used up quite a bit of her phone battery. Fortunately, she had one of these External Cell Phone Battery packs to recharge her phone. Guess who put one of these on her Christmas list?

Gift ideas for air travelers

My son and his wife enjoy cruise ship vacations which usually require air travel and a little more forethought when it comes to packing. Here are some gift ideas I’ve gathered with them in mind.

Last-minute gift ideas

Ok, let’s face it, there are some people that are more challenging to shop for than others. When all else fails, I turn to food. Ah, but it’s a good idea to know the gift recipient’s tastes, dislikes, and potential food allergies.

Happy shopping!

Do you enjoy holiday shopping? Have you finished your shopping list? 

Wholesale Warranty

Florence’s Greatest Coffee Shops

Have you ever dreamed of international travel? My daughter does and after our recent mother-daughter trip, more travel adventures are being discussed. In our typical fashion, these discussions usually occur over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Many years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Europe a few times, predominantly Germany. Aside from the wonderful architecture, my favorite experience was the tradition of an afternoon cup of coffee accompanied by a delectable pastry. Local cafés are bustling around two or three o’clock in the afternoon. After sharing this experience with my daughter, we started doing a little research … research on Italy and coffee shops.

Sunrise over Italy and Coffee Shops

In search of coffee shops.

Nestled in the Tuscan region of Italy, Florence is a haven of fantastic food, exceptional wine and beautiful coffee. If you are planning a trip to Florence in the near future, you might be wondering which are the best places to enjoy some traditional Italian coffee. If so, then look no further! Here are six of the best places for a coffee-lover to relax in Florence.

1. La Ménagère

If you are looking for a coffee-shop that provides terrific coffee as well as an Instagrammable backdrop, then head on down to La Ménagère for a cup of locally sourced coffee. The inside of this café looks like an old brickwork warehouse which has been transformed into a chic garden terrace.

2. Caffe Gilli

Caffe Gilli was first established in 1733 and worked to provide the finest pastries, chocolates, cakes and coffee to the high society of Florence. The remnants of this luxury can still be seen in the decadent Belle Epoque interior and their open terrace, where you can sit back and enjoy watching the world go by while you sip on a cappuccino. Step back in time by visiting Caffe Gilli and order one of their many delicious handmade cakes to accompany your traditional Italian coffee.

Coffee and biscotti

3. Le Murate Caffè Letterario

The best time to visit Italy is definitely during the Spring and Autumn when the temperatures are still comfortable, but the crowds of tourists have gone home. If you are traveling during these times, you will definitely want to visit Le Murate Literary Café’s uncovered outdoor terrace and enjoy people watching as you indulge in a decadent mocha coffee. The building was originally a monastery and then a prison, but it’s now home to one of the coolest coffee shops in all of Florence.

4. Caffè Concerto Paszkowski

This café is so well-loved by Florentines and tourists alike that it was named a National Monument in 1991. Perhaps the real reason this was declared a national treasure has less to do with the delicious coffee and more to do with the history of the building as a concert hall attended by many great European intellectuals throughout history! In any case, The Caffè Concerto Paszkowski is a great place to sit down (or stand up, as the Italians do) for an espresso and an Italian pastry.

5. Ditta Artigianale

This coffee shop is so good that there are two of them in Florence! The Florentine Starbucks serves a modern coffee menu – which is something of a relief if you have ever tried ordering an americano or café au lait in Italy. Ditta Artigianale offers a comfortable and modern environment for customers, which makes it easy to sit for hours working, reading or just relaxing while enjoying a simple yet intense coffee experience.

coffee cup with blurred background

6. Le Vespe Cafe

This coffee shop not only offers mind-blowingly good coffee, but it also serves one of the best brunches in Florence. So, if you are heading to Florence anytime soon, don’t miss out on their tantalizing menu and reserve a table at Le Vespe Café. This café is popular with tourists and locals, so if you don’t reserve a table you may end up being disappointed when you get there.

The cafés are worth the visit!

Hmm, I’m not sure there’s a European excursion in our future anytime soon, but those coffee shops sure are enticing. And of course, I do have a rather persuasive daughter who is teething at the bit to cross the pond.

Wholesale Warranty