Dealing with Fear & Anxiety

Dealing with Fear & Anxiety

With the world turned upside down at the moment, many of us are conflicted with a range of emotions. I have friends who are dealing with anxiety and fear while others appear to feel slightly concerned or even indifferent to life’s new reality surrounding us.

We all deal with stresses differently and it doesn’t mean there’s a right way or a wrong way, it’s merely an individual process. I think we can all agree, regardless of how we’re dealing with this new world order created by a pandemic, life is anything but normal lately.

orange flowers

Stay Home, Stay Safe

The majority of people aren’t used to staying at home 24/7 with their partner, children, or by themselves. As social animals, being quarantined is not in our genetic makeup and when the days blend into weeks, many of us are getting a little cross-eyed.

Admittedly, my life isn’t vastly different, but it is different. It’s a little quieter in our RV and around the RV Park. Our days are also a little less hectic without places to visit and a list of things to do.

tea and crumpets, KitKat candy barAlthough we are tackling a few RV maintenance projects which offer a sense of accomplishment, I actually feel calmer these days looking at a blank calendar, and with all this calm, Al and I have managed to start a new daily routine.

We’re finally exercising every morning … sometimes together and sometimes alone. We still continue to do some work every day on our computers. And we even started a new afternoon tradition … afternoon tea and crumpets.

Even though our tea is very English, I assure you, our crumpets are not, and may take on the look of a good old-fashioned American KitKat candy bar. Perfect crumpet for me! Yep, accepting our new reality hasn’t been all bad around our RV home.

So in short, Al and I are holding up rather well. We have a pantry full of food, a roof over our heads, and a beautiful spot to call ‘home’. Although I may not feel fearful for myself, I do have plenty of concerns and fear for others, but I try not to allow those emotions to rule my day.

cactus needles
Fear and anxiety can feel like a tangled mess of thorns.

Sitting in fear will make you more fearful. Taking small actionable steps can help you cope, overcome, and feel empowered. And when you feel empowered, you can tackle anything!

7 Actionable Tips to deal with fear and anxiety

Be creative. Now’s the time to tap into your creativity and tackle a project you’ve dreamed of doing. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint, write a book, knit, or refinish furniture. Take an online class or watch YouTube videos on “how-to” … whatever it is that interests you, let the creative juices flow. Personally, I’ve been binging on photography tutorials.

Humorous Pinterest PinFocus on health. Think about proper nourishment and avoid stress eating. Start an at-home exercise regimen. Now more than ever, we need to think about taking control of our health and dealing with any underlying health issues. Perhaps losing weight will assist in improving those issues. Experiment in the kitchen with new recipes and learn to meal prep.

Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water, but when plain water gets boring, brew some tea or coffee. Play around with making your own latte or try replicating that tea you love at the local Chinese restaurant.

Did you know most Chinese restaurants serve a blended tea? Yep, it’s a combination of Oolong Tea and Jasmine Green Tea, and I’ve nailed it – yum! Now if only I could perfect that Orange Chicken entrée

Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine of all. Call a friend, watch a comedian, play with your dog or children, play with your partner and laugh. Laugh about life. Laugh about the craziness of it all. There are plenty of talented YouTubers putting their own humorous spin on this pandemic that can keep you laughing for hours.

Engage in a new activity. When was the last time you had a spare moment for a frivolous activity like doing a jigsaw puzzle? How about family night playing games? How about a virtual happy hour with friends? Now’s a great time to embrace a new form of fun.

Read. Read uplifting, inspirational stories, phrases and quotes. Be inspired to write your own story. Share your favorite story or your writings with others. We could all use a little uplifting inspiration these days.

hiking trail in Phoenix

Get into nature. Go for a stroll. If that’s not currently allowed in your area, then venture into the backyard or onto a deck and breath in some fresh air. Sit outside or near a window and listen to the birds, admire the spring flowers, and feel the breeze.

Slow your breath, calm your mind, and relax. Be okay with doing nothing. Embrace boredom. And when you have nothing left to do, go take a shower. I don’t know about you, but this whole pandemic has messed with my head. I have trouble keeping track of the days. One day blends into another kind of like that movie “Groundhog Day” or perhaps like a GIF … a repetitive reel. So remember to take a shower and change your clothes even if you are working from home.

Don’t allow fear to paralyze you. Take control of your life and have faith.

My signature

(Our version of tea and crumpets . This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support )

Sweese Porcelain Teapot
Harney & Sons Loose Leaf Tea
Guylian Belgium Chocolates

Freedom and Independence Halted

Freedom and Independence Halted

A nomadic lifestyle may seem like a dream and for many, it is especially in the beginning, but there are some disadvantages to the nomadic life that become evident over time and more so now than ever before. Al and I have been living in our RV full-time for the past seven years, and we have a pretty good handle on the slew of emotions, good and bad, that come with living a nomadic life.

The life of an RV nomad is usually filled with a mixture of thoughts and emotions that will ebb and flow from day to day … excitement, dreamy, adventurous, rewarding … along with challenging, uncertainty, and fear. Let’s add in a worldwide pandemic and those challenges, uncertainties, and fear are taken to a whole new level.

a sidewalk meandering through a desert landscape. Social distancing.
No problem social distancing when I take my morning walks.

Shelter in Place – Stay at Home – Social Distance

Those are new phrases that many of us have never used or used on any sort of regular basis prior to March of 2020. These days, stay at home, shelter in place or social distancing are phrases we hear routinely on a daily basis. We’re living in a new reality that has brought to light a major disadvantage for those living a nomadic life.

We’ve seen our favorite nomad YouTuber’s stuck in foreign countries or scrambling to get back home … wherever they consider home. We’ve seen our fellow RV nomads posting on Facebook and RV forums asking for help in finding a spot to shelter in place. Across the United States, campgrounds and public lands are closing left and right and in the process canceling reservations that full-time RVers were counting on as a place to live. RVers are told to return home. The problem for a full-time RVer is they have no physical home to return to. Home is where we park it. So, where are these full-time nomads expected to shelter-in-place?

a bee on a purple wildflower

Fear and uncertainty

When local governments started ordering non-essential businesses to close, that included campgrounds – public and private. Apparently, no one took into consideration the million or so Americans that live in their RVs full-time.

With the help of several RV organizations, a few state governments were flooded with pleas, and fortunately, we’ve seen either a rule reversal or a little leniency regarding the essential need for private RV Parks to remain open.

home is where your honey isThe situation varies from state to state and here in Arizona, the rules aren’t as strict or cut and dry as in other states.

Sure the Grand Canyon is currently closed to all visitors, but private RV Parks throughout Arizona are open and left to make their own judgment call in regards to accepting new guests.

Also, most BLM  (government-owned) land in Arizona is still available as a place for RVers to hunker down.

Considering Arizona is such an RV friendly state with a huge population of full-time RVers living here half the year, I believe our local government is well aware of these facts and realize cutting off RV access would not solve anything but rather cause a whole new problem.

In addition, many of these private RV Parks in Arizona and Florida have year-round residents. Some of these folks live in Park Models while others in an RV. Asking folks to leave an RV Resort would be tantamount to asking anyone in a traditional subdivision that they’d have to move out of their house.

So, since Al and I rent an annual lot, we weren’t in any jeopardy of not having a place to shelter or ‘stay at home‘, and we’ll stay home in Phoenix until we’re told it’s safe to travel again. But many of our RV friends aren’t as lucky and are scrambling to find a solution. No one wants to be the cause of spreading this virus any more than it already has and most full-time RVers aren’t traveling unless forced to by circumstances.

We’ve seen the good in people when complete strangers offer up shelter to those in need. Whether it’s a room in a house or a driveway or piece of land to park the RV, these stories are heartwarming. We’ve also seen the not so good from rude individuals posting nasty comments on social media (biz as usual for some, I guess). But overall, good seems to prevail during this time of crisis.

Freedom and Independence

Pinterest pin, lone tree in grassy meadow, inspirationMost of us choose the RV lifestyle to immerse ourselves in a sense of freedom and independence. We long to discover the country’s deepest secrets and hidden gems. We strive to capture the perfect landscape photo and/or Instagram selfie (guilty of both). After all, it’s the stuff dreams are made of … trading in the traditional nine-to-five routine for a freewheeling, wind in your hair kind of carefree lifestyle – a lifestyle of freedom.

Freedom: the absence of constraint in choice or action. The state of being free, independent, without restrictions.

For RVers, freedom usually means having the ability to go wherever whenever one chooses. We live independently on our terms. We’re adventurers, explorers, and out of the box thinkers.

But what happens when we’re told we can no longer move freely about? What does our life begin to look like? We’re not the kind of people to linger in one spot long enough for the grass to grow under our feet, but we’re living in uncertain times and unchartered waters and the wheels need to stop rolling. Some RVers have found a place to ride this unconventional storm out while others are still struggling and wondering where they can park for the foreseeable future. We’re all in this together and trying to find a new normal.

First weeks of ‘social distancing’ followed by a ‘stay at home’ order

What is normal during a pandemic? I spent the better part of March binge-watching stuff on my computer accompanied by feelings of denial, surreal, and WTF. Now in my defense, I’ll remind everyone that I was extremely ill during the month of February and it took most of March for me to regain my energy. Hey, when I get sick, I get sick, no mild stuff for this gal…. sigh! With that said, I still have an occasional cough that freaks people out every now and then. (always uses arm to cover mouth 😷)

cactus blossom

Yep, it’s just an annoying cough. I’ve been to the doctor, had a CT scan, followed up with other medical stuff and I’m perfectly fine … finer than frog’s hair. Ever since I had Valley Fever a few years ago, I’m more susceptible to coughing than the typical person.

And now that I’ve flipped the calendar to April, I feel renewed, one might even say normal, whatever that is these days. Yeah, the world is still turned upside down, but my energy has returned and instead of being a blob on the couch, I’m once again a productive human being, well kind of. I’ve managed to stock up on way too many groceries, filling every nook and cranny in the RV. I have enough toilet paper, paper towels and kleenex to last us for the next six months. (I am sharing and not hoarding, just so y’all know)

I’ve been having fun in the kitchen playing around with new recipes and getting in some much-needed exercise so I don’t pack on the pounds with my tasty experiments. Life is slow and relaxing at the moment. Life has its stressful moments, but I have confidence that we’ll get through this.

I’m not sure how different life will look on the other side. I do have concerns, especially for the rising unemployment. Al and I know what’s it’s like to have bills, a mortgage, and a couple of small children and lose our income unexpectedly. That’s not a situation I’d wish on my worst enemy, and yet, millions of people around the globe are experiencing this unfortunate dilemma. Tourism in Arizona has been especially hit hard and many of our acquaintances are out of work … temporarily, I hope. My heart aches for these folks!

Arizona Biltmore Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
Arizona Biltmore Resort, Scottsdale, AZ – temporarily closed

Every time I visit the grocery store, Walmart, or the RV dealer for parts (time to tend to those RV repairs), I thank the folks for working and make sure I stand as far away from them as possible. I keep those outings few and far between with hopes we can stop this virus from lingering or spreading any further.

Hitch itch and that desire to get those wheels rolling onto some new scenery are starting to settle in for many of us. I’m in dire need of a new landscape to photograph, but until we can hit the road, I’ll focus on cooking, taking advantage of this slow pace of life, and doing my part binge-watching something.

Stay safe and healthy, my friends. Remember,
alcohol kills germs.😀

survival supply store. liquor store. Total Wine and more
I visit the survival supply store and stock up!

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Bartering for Toilet Paper

Bartering for Toilet Paper

Life is like a rollercoaster. It’s full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s not. There’s solace in knowing we’re all in this together … all in for a heck of a ride … a ride called life. Besides, how boring would it be if it was continuous smooth sailing? After all, couldn’t we all use a little excitement in our lives from time to time? But please, just not too much excitement, huh! Yeah, life has been a little too exciting lately and not in a good way. I’m sure you can agree!

I’ve always been entertained by a good rollercoaster ride at an amusement park despite my propensity for motion sickness. Rollercoasters usually don’t make me sick. However, don’t put me on a tilt-a-whirl. I guarantee motion sickness will rear its ugly head by that spinning dizzying motion, and let’s not even talk about the rolling of a sailboat. 🤢 Nope, no tilt-a-whirls or sailing for this gal. Did I ever tell you guys during my first day on the job as a Flight Attendant, I threw up eleven times? Ah, not a day I’d care to repeat, but those tales are for another day.

Today, let’s talk about viruses … okay, not just any virus … the Coronavirus aka COVID-19 and its nauseating, dizzying effect on everyday life.

Yellow poppies in a field

Dealing with a Pandemic

Illness of any kind isn’t fun, but add in the emotion of fear, and you’re dealing with a whole different animal. So many ups, downs, twists, and turns! Fear makes people panic and act and do things out of character. I understand the importance of getting ahead of the spread of this virus (it’s serious stuff) and containing it as much as possible is very critical. I truly do understand the importance!

And even though we are dealing with extreme matters and doing our part by practicing good hygiene and social distancing, I fail to understand the sudden hoarding of products specifically toilet paper. I guess the fear of running out of TP is on everyone’s mind 💩

purple flowers and a bee in flight

Finding humor in a non-humorous moment

Due to the rush and hoarding of toilet paper, most of us are seeing a shortage. Store shelves are void of this precious commodity and many (me included) are afraid of running out. There’s a couple of local grocery stores here in Phoenix, Arizona that are offering seniors (65 and older) their own special time to shop; from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings.

Taking full advantage of my husband’s old age 🤫, this past Wednesday I kicked him out of bed and loaded him into my little red truck before 5:00 a.m. I bribed him with the promise of a pastry! It was a dark, cold, drizzly morning. I was on a mission … a toilet paper mission. We stood in line outside the store in the drizzling rain with all the other seniors waiting for the doors to open.

a statue at the Arizona Biltmore in Scottsdale AZShopping crowds – so much for social distancing! At exactly 5:00 a.m. we were given entrance. Initially, it seemed very calm and civilized until a few folks broke from the crowd into a gentle sprint. Clearly, they weren’t interested in grabbing a shopping cart but were focused on one thing … toilet paper.

Not one to be outrun by an oxygen tank totting eighty-year-old, Al’s 6’3″+ frame with long legs quickly outstepped his competition and took the lead.

Being one of the first to snag the largest package of toilet paper from the top shelf, Al quickly handed it off to me and then proceeded to help his sprinting competitor. Al’s height and large stature, in comparison to the other senior shoppers, drew attention.

Shortly after helping the oxygen totting gentleman, a frail woman taped Al with her cane and said, “Hey Sonny, can you grab me a package?” Next thing you know, Al was helping hand out packages of toilet paper and in just a few minutes the once well-stocked shelves were once again bare.

Several of us lingered near the aisle and looked at the barren shelves while holding our allotted one package of TP like a trophy and just shook our heads amusingly. “This is crazy”, several folks commented while another said, “I never imagined I would ever see anything like this in my lifetime”.

After our toilet paper mission was accomplished, Al and I picked up a few more staples and with our shopping cart less than half full, we paid for our purchases and headed to the truck. It was still dark, rainy, and cold, but in the truck, we each had a thermal container filled with hot coffee waiting accompanied by a newly purchased fresh pastry as a reward for a job well done.

After a few gulps of steaming coffee, we looked at each other and laughed. Al said, “I never thought I’d go grocery shopping at 5:00 in the morning, let alone have a good time doing so”. Al was thanked numerous times by folks who clearly could not have reached the top shelf or been able to bend over easily to pull from the bottom shelf. What an interesting morning, indeed!

RV Life

I’ll admit, I was relieved to snag that large package of toilet paper. I wasn’t feeling so confident two days earlier. You see, after living in the RV (less than 300 square feet) for the past seven years, I’ve developed a routine of sorts. Most RV refrigerator-freezers need to be defrosted routinely. I usually defrost mine about every three months and knowing this, I allow our frozen food supply to dwindle regularly. And with only a 6 cubic foot refrigerator, I’ve increased my Tetris skills drastically. Tetris skills are a prerequisite for RV living.

bee on a purple wildflowerLikewise, when it comes to keeping our little home on wheels (aka RV) organized and clean. I like to use up our provisions before restocking and I take full advantage of poorly stocked RV shelves and a near-empty fridge to clean, reorganize, and strategically plan out the restocking.

I promise you won’t find any packaged or canned food items in our RV that are close to the expiration date. I couldn’t promise that when we lived in our large custom sticks and bricks home with a huge walk-in pantry. My daughter loved pointing out the expired dates on some of the food items that I’d accumulated.

Yeah, when you have more room than you need, things get overlooked, but not so in our RV 5th wheel where storage space is a precious commodity.

With all that said, I was in the low on supplies process for some thorough spring cleaning when the coronavirus hit. I knew COVID-19 was serious, but I never anticipated the fear factor leading to barren shelves at the stores.

Fortunately, we still had three rolls of toilet paper and enough food for at least a couple of weeks. So, I didn’t panic … until I went to Walmart to pick up just a few things. I was smacked in the face with a new reality. I found myself asking, “What if we run out of toilet paper?”

I love my neighbors! It was a beautiful morning in the neighborhood and while my neighbor and I were chit-chatting about this new way of life, she informed me that she was so glad she stocked up on TP from Costco before this whole hoopla began. My ears perked up! Did she say she had lots of toilet paper? Before she could get out another sentence, I asked if I could buy a few rolls of TP from her. My urgency was knowing the fact that they decided to head back to their home in Michigan early and would be leaving soon. So, I didn’t feel I had time to waste.

“Of course”, she responded, “Isn’t that what neighbors do … help each other out?” She refused to take any money for the three rolls of toilet paper which didn’t sit well with me. So I gave her a bottle of hand soap from Bath & Body Works (I love their pump hand soaps). Yep, life has resorted to bartering for toilet paper. Talk about some interesting twists, turns, and ups and downs!

a little white church in a desert landscape

Stocked up

Well, after a few excursions to various stores, my cupboards are full, the fridge and freezer are full, and we pretty much have everything we need for the next month with the exception of fresh fruits and veggies which seem to be in adequate supply at the grocery stores … for now, anyway.

Adding a little levity

So what does one do in the event of no toilet paper? Use Bounce dryer sheets for a wrinkle-free, fresh-smelling bum that’ll put a bounce in your step! Okay, I’m only kidding. It won’t take the wrinkles out of your bum 🤣

Let’s try and stay positive knowing this too shall pass. Sending good vibes and well wishes your way!
How are you dealing with current life?

think safety sign

(This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support ❤)

Bounce Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets, Outdoor Fresh
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Why We Love Phoenix

Why We Love Phoenix

I love the diversity of our RV lifestyle. We’re able to live in a major city one day and move out into nature the next. And when we come across a city such as Phoenix that offers both environments in relatively close proximity, I say this is an RVers dream … jackpot!

“May you live in interesting times.”

BUT … Life is anything but normal these days and I’d be remiss if I jumped right into the content of this post without mentioning a couple of things.

March is usually the busiest and best month to visit Phoenix, Arizona. Wildflowers are in abundance adding vibrant color to our desert landscape, not to mention the beautiful blue skies and near-perfect temperatures that are enjoyed by all. But not his year! Not only has the weather been schizophrenic leaving us wondering what has happened to our wonderful March weather, but the coronavirus has turned the tourism and stock markets into a volatile frenzy.

bee on purple lupine wildflower

Walmart empty isle, no toilet paper at Walmart
Walmart – Where’s the toilet paper?

The Phoenix valley’s robust tourism industry has been severely impacted by potential visitors canceling reservations left and right. Resorts that are normally booked solid and charging premium rates are now half empty and offering discounts. Baseball spring training has also been canceled and all the stores are out of toilet paper. Out of toilet paper! Really?

Ah, but let’s all revel in the fact that this too shall pass and life will return to normal eventually … soon, I hope. For now, I’ll immerse myself in summer trip planning and images of wildflowers. The wildflowers are a given, but our summer travels could be in question if current conditions were to continue.

I’m sure we can all agree that there’s currently too much uncertainty right now that might affect our travels. However, I’m optimistic and think in another month things will turn around, and therefore, our summer travels will continue as planned.

So, let’s get back to talking fun stuff!

An RV friendly city in Arizona

There are so many things to see and do in a big city; museums, restaurants, stores, sporting events, other events, and the list goes on, but the solitude and beauty of nature are always a strong pull for me. What if we can enjoy both?

It’s a rare treat to find an RV friendly city, and when we do, we like to plan a lengthy stay allowing us plenty of time to immerse ourselves in everything big city life has to offer. Since our children live in Phoenix, Arizona and Phoenix is RV friendly, this city has become our winter home.

Golden yellow poppies with a bee flying

The Phoenix valley is not only super popular with RVers but equally popular with all kinds of other visitors; snowbirds, vacationers, convention traffic, seminars, etc. Peak tourist season is January, February, and March … March is the busiest due to Spring Break, excellent weather, and baseball spring training (Cactus League).

The lodging options throughout the Phoenix valley are abundant and diverse. For those of us with RVs, we can find everything from scenic campgrounds to full-on RV Resorts complete with resort-style pools, pickleball courts, and golf courses. For non-RVers, there’s everything from inexpensive hotels, to vacation rentals, to mega-resorts, and everything in between.

An RV camped at Lost Dutchman State Park with the Superstition mountains in the background
Al and I camped at Lost Dutchman State Park located on the far east side of the Phoenix valley in the town of Apache Junction.

If you plan on visiting the Phoenix area and are looking for an RV spot for less than a 2-week stay, I would highly recommend Lost Dutchman State Park. It’s one of our favorite campgrounds. We love the views, hiking trails, and location. Lost Dutchman State Park offers a feeling of being in the backcountry, and yet, shopping and restaurants in nearby Apache Junction are less than a 15-minute drive away … the best of both worlds.

Coming in second to Lost Dutchman State Park would be one of the campgrounds in the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation system. Our personal preference is either Cave Creek Regional Park or Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Our friends prefer McDowell Mountain or Usery Mountain. McDowell Mountain Regional Park is well known for its biking trails while Lake Pleasant is known for its water recreation. There’s definitely a little something for everyone around here.

And of course, there are plenty of private RV parks throughout the valley. So many, that I couldn’t possibly list them all. Most are 55+ communities but there are a few that aren’t age-restricted.

I can't adult today

Valley Talk … The term “Phoenix valley” refers to the actual city of Phoenix as well as her dozen-plus surrounding suburbs. It makes communication easier. You might hear folks comment, “That’s in the east valley (meaning Scottsdale, Mesa, etc.) or that’s in the west valley (meaning Glendale, Goodyear, etc.). Then there’s the north valley near the town of Anthem where I am currently parked. Most people in the U.S. know where Phoenix, Arizona is located, but not everyone has heard of Mesa, Glendale, or Anthem. Therefore, by using the term ‘Phoenix valley’, people have an easy grasp of where in Arizona one is talking about.

Things we like to do in the Phoenix valley …

There’s a never-ending schedule of art shows, craft shows, sporting events, or other events to attend throughout the year in the Phoenix valley. I always discover some unique event worth checking out. Although hiking and photography top my list of favorite activities, there are so many other great recreational and educational opportunities to explore. Yes, RVing in a major city definitely has its pluses.

Scottsdale farmers market
The Farmers Market in Old Town Scottsdale is a great way to start a Saturday morning. I’ll admit, it usually feels a little strange attending a Farmers Market in the middle of winter, but keep in mind, you won’t find a Farmers Market around here during the summer months when temps sore into the 100 degree plus Fahrenheit range. It takes most northerners a little time to wrap their heads around a Farmers Market in the middle of winter, me included.

Corporate conventions and various educational seminars are held throughout the year in Phoenix or Scottsdale. I always keep an eye out for these special events for us to attend. One of our favorites is attending educational TD Ameritrade seminars. We’ve even had the pleasure of meeting Joe ‘JJ’ Kinahan. If you’re a trader or CNBC watcher, then shaking hands with a “celebrity” like JJ might be a real treat like it was for me. We’ve also had the opportunity to meet some of the various traders/instructors from the Think or Swim trading platform. They are always a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Desert Botanical Garden butterfly display
My daughter taking a selfie with a Monarch butterfly at the Desert Botanical Garden
Chili and Chocolate Fest
We enjoyed a cooking demonstration while attending the Chili and Chocolate Festival at the Botanical Garden.
western history
Lots of western history just begging to be explored.

Family and friends Spending time with family is our favorite pastime while visiting Phoenix

Let’s get social

Because Phoenix is such a popular travel destination for RVers and non-RVers alike, we never know who we might bump into. It’s always a pleasure connecting with my social media friends in person. Every winter, we enjoy numerous get-togethers with blog readers, blog writers, or folks from other social media platforms. Over the years, we’ve developed some amazing friendships via social media. Phoenix is the perfect city to physically connect with like-minded people.

Golden yellow poppies with a bee flying

Nature around Phoenix

Although I enjoy most aspects of big city living, I have a need to be close to nature and wildlife. Fortunately, with plenty of parks and open space located throughout Maricopa County, I’m still able to get my nature fix while living in a big city.

There’s some amazing scenery in this part of Arizona. Just outside of the city, in the east valley is one of my favorite scenic drives. Driving the Apache Trail makes for a perfect day trip, but before embarking on this drive, do your homework. The stretch of road between the town of Tortilla Flat and Lake Roosevelt is a gravel road and can be pretty rough in spots. A high clearance vehicle is usually recommended. Always check with the local ranger station for up to date conditions regarding Route 88/Apache Trail.

Have you ever visited Phoenix, Arizona? What’s your favorite city to visit?
And please stay healthy and safe out there!

Golden brittle-bush in the foreground Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale AZ in the background

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How to Take Great Photos with any Camera

How to Take Great Photos with any Camera

Photography has surged in popularity in the past decade with the emergence of social media and smartphones. Even though we’re all taking more photographs, many of us assume we’re limited in our talents due to our equipment. I’m here to say it’s not about the equipment, and you can create great, even amazing, photographs with any camera.

three sandhill cranes in a fieldI’ve had an interest in photography as long as I can remember, but my true passion didn’t emerge until we hit the road full-time in our RV several years ago.

After wearing out a couple of point and shoot cameras, I upgraded to a Bridge camera. I still suffer from camera envy and may one day switch to a Mirrorless Camera, but for now, my Lumix(s) fits my needs … certainly not professional-grade cameras by any means.

We’ve slowed down our travels somewhat and now spend our winters settled in an RV Park in Phoenix, Arizona. I enjoy this RV community and the friendships that have developed.

Although I don’t engage in many activities at the RV Park, I do co-host a photography group … a group of like-minded RVers who share a passion for photography. Not only have I learned a few things, but I’ve also been able to teach and share a few tidbits of my own photography knowledge.

I still consider myself a novice photographer, or rather more of a photo snapper and try to improve my skills with every click of the camera.

Being involved in the RV Park Photo Group has served as a great learning experience for everyone involved. Our group consists of every level of shooter along with every level of camera. Yes, we are indeed a diverse group of photo enthusiasts.

close up of a young deer

Here are a few tips that our RV Park Photo Group discussed on how to create more professional-looking images with any camera.

15 Beginner Tips – How to take better looking photographs

1. Learn your camera inside and out. This might mean diving into that owner’s manual and actually reading it. If you don’t have a manual, no worries, a Google search will come to the rescue. And don’t forget YouTube tutorials. It really is necessary to know how all the settings work and what they mean.  Even if you won’t use all the features, it’s important that you’re comfortable navigating the camera’s menu and settings with ease, especially in the field.

Always half-press the camera’s shutter button before taking the shot. On an iPhone, simply tap the screen for your desired focal-point (a little yellow box appears around the item when you do). Once you know where your camera is focused, you can decide if this is where you want the focal point to be in the image, and if not, start over.

One of the best things I did when I first bought my iPhone 8+ last year was to attend some free seminars at the local Apple store. Needless to say, there were a few ah-ha moments by many of the attendees … me included.

a shadow of a cross reflected on a church

2. Shoot regularly. The best way to improve your photography and get comfortable with your camera is to shoot often. Considering digital photography is free, there’s no reason not to spend hours behind your camera clicking away. Learn to love the delete button but always delete in your computer (unless you’ve taken a complete dud, like your lap or something 😆).  You’ll be surprised by how an image might appear on your LED screen versus your computer screen. Sometimes it looks better in the camera and sometimes an image looks better on the computer. So give the photo a chance and review it on your computer screen before deleting it.

Experiment with different subjects, different camera settings, and different light. Over time you’ll develop a style and voice that will be authentic to you.

bee on a pink flower
Taken handheld with a bridge camera – Panasonic Lumix FZ200

3. Stabilize your camera to achieve sharp photos. Obviously, the best way to stabilize a camera is by using a tripod, but that’s not always convenient, especially if you’re lazy like me and leave the tripod at home. So, the next best thing to do is to use a wall, fence post, or another stable surface to minimize camera shake. Learn to hold your camera correctly and pay attention to your breathing when pressing the shutter. And be sure to have stabilization turned on when handholding and turned off when using a tripod.

4. Use the Camera’s “scene” modes. Cameras and phones are smarter than ever before. Therefore, take advantage of the camera’s preset scene modes. The various modes optimize your camera’s settings and do the thinking for us. Depending on your camera various modes may include; landscape, food, action, portrait, night, and more. I love using these settings, but I always shoot the same image in P (program) mode or A (aperture priority). Remember, taking digital images is free. So shoot away and shoot the same subject using different settings.

On my iPhone 8+, I use the portrait mode to capture food or flowers and create great Bokeh (blurred background).

pinkish red roses in bloom
Taken with iPhone 8+ on Portrait mode

5. See the light. Before clicking that shutter, observe and assess the light. The first step to creating better photographs is understanding light. Think about how the light interacts with the scene and subject. Is the light highlighting an area or casting unique shadows? Light plays a vital role in the mood and interest of a photograph and is the most important element in creating a great photograph.

birds in a dead tree with a setting sun and orange sky
Photography is all about the light … and a little luck!

Composition guidelines for newbies

6. Rule of Thirds. This is one of the most common tips when it comes to improving your photographs. It’s an easy technique and will aid in making an image more interesting. Think about cutting the frame into thirds by using both horizontal and vertical lines. Then place your point of interest over the cross-sections of the grid.

I have the gridlines always turned “on” on both my camera and my iPhone. By doing so, it aids in composing my image and keeping my camera level. Actually, when I attended a seminar at the Apple Store, the first thing they recommended was to turn on the gridlines on the phone.

a hiker and wildflowers at Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, AZ
The trail serves as a leading line while the wildflowers create an interesting foreground. The rule of thirds definitely applies in this image and the single hiker is an odd number of subjects creating balance.

7. Leading Lines. This is probably my favorite form of composition. I’m always looking for leading lines to photograph. This type of composition draws the eye into the image.

8. Interesting foreground. Adding an interesting foreground object will give depth to a photograph, especially in landscape photography.

9. Patterns are a repetition of objects, shapes, or colors. Patterns are everywhere if we once train our eyes to notice them.

texture in photographs
Look for patterns in nature.

10. Negative space. When shooting people, animals, or birds, always leave a little extra room in the image toward the direction the subject is looking. This creates interest and mystery. The viewer may wonder what the subject is looking at.

11. Rule of odds. While composing an image, try to include an odd number of elements in the frame. This is a common practice in interior design. With an odd number of subjects, the image becomes more balanced.

12. Include a frame. A natural frame around the main subject will add depth to the image by drawing the viewer’s attention into the photo. Think about a window or tree framing a subject.

a tunnel frames the winding road
The tunnel serves as a frame around the winding road.

13. Move your feet. Learn to shoot from different angles and varying heights. Moving your body closer to or further away from your subject can often create a more dramatic shot. Walk around looking for a unique perspective. Don’t rely on a zoom lens … move your feet and body and explore the subject’s surroundings.

flowers in front of an official building in Denver
Photograph your subject from a different angle.

Final thoughts for beginner photographers

14. Get good at processing. Every image needs some amount of processing, some images more than others. Embrace the process, learn the software, be creative and comfortable with whatever program you use. I’m a huge fan of Photoshop Lightroom while others prefer Photoshop Elements (similar to Photoshop, but geared toward beginners). These days, there are a number of photographic editing platforms to choose from. Some are free and some subscription-based. Find something that works for you and get good at it.

15. Slow down and don’t rush the process. Take the time to think about what is going on in your viewfinder before pressing the shutter. Think about the composition and what you’re trying to capture. Understand the creative process and make intentional decisions. Learn to tell a story with your photos. See the light, the lines, the moments, the little things, BUT be willing to put the camera down awhile and truly experience your surroundings and then photograph whatever makes you happy.

Happy Clicking!

Gambels Quail
Taken with a point and shoot camera

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How to Stay Healthy and Energetic when Traveling

How to Stay Healthy and Energetic when Traveling

Traveling full-time, part-time, or some-time can be exhilarating but at the same time exhausting. Finding a travel style and pace takes time and practice and will most likely change as you and your desires change.

Long before Al and I bought an RV, we usually traveled by air to our destination, and on occasion, we tent camped. Even when we were younger, whether we were flying or road-tripping, finding a pace that wouldn’t wear us out was always a priority. After all, the whole purpose of traveling was for us to explore and immerse ourselves in new places and that would require good health and plenty of energy. Most times, this was easier said than done!

For the better part of a month, I’ve battled a nasty cold that has kept me housebound, or rather RV bound. All that downtime had my mind wandering aimlessly. I was focused on feeling better. I was reminded of how important it is for us to listen to our bodies. During my illness, my body seemed to crave soup and vegetables. And of course, being the smart gal that I am, I listened to my body and fed it what it wanted.

Japanese Garden

So while downing gallons of warm nourishing soup, (okay, maybe it wasn’t gallons, but I bet it was close 😆) my mind drifted to places I’d like to visit and photograph. My poor camera has been sitting idle in the camera bag for weeks, and that does not make for a happy camper around this RV. Although I’m finally beginning to feel better, I’m still struggling with a lack of energy. Even with an addled mind and lack of energy, I’m still fantasizing about RV adventures.

Energy? … During our travels (and we’ve traveled a lot), Al and I have learned plenty of lessons the hard way … including the importance of food, rest, and listening to our bodies. By fueling ourselves properly and getting a good night’s sleep, we can put in ten-hour driving days. Now mind you, that’s not preferable but sometimes necessary.

Pinterest pin, tips to stay healthy and energetic when travelingI think we’ve all experienced those long road trips … grab some junk food, wash it down with some carbonated soda, and call it good. And an hour later, we’re either ready for a nap or just not feeling well, and we certainly aren’t enjoying the adventure of rolling down the road when we feel less than optimal.

Our bodies are constantly sending us messages in an attempt to find a happy balance. Are we smart enough to listen? I truly believe, the best thing for overall health is to learn what our bodies are telling us. Therefore, we can make better decisions that’ll help keep us healthy, energized, focused, and ready to discover what’s around the next bend.

When we feel great, we can immerse ourselves whole-heartedly in exploring new places, new environments, and new adventures.

And get that camera clicking again!

7 Tips for health and energy when traveling

1. Eating for fuel. Just like we try to put quality gasoline in our vehicle so it’ll perform optimally, we need to do the same for our bodies. This means being aware of what our body needs and eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re full.

Step away from the potato chips and no one will get hurt. Mindless snacking while sitting in a car or airplane due to boredom doesn’t do anyone any favors. That’s not to say, the occasional snack needs to be avoided, but in moderation and only after the body has been properly nourished.

When I know we’re getting ready for a stretch of long travel days, I meal plan ahead of time. Obviously, one of the best things about RVing is bringing my kitchen along. I’m able to keep items easily chilled and when it’s time to eat, all we have to do is find a convenient place to pull over. Badda bing Badda boom, lunch is served!

Bruschetta
Bruschetta board at Postino’s in Scottsdale, AZ. Great place for Happy Hour or Sunday Brunch. Smoked Salmon and Pesto – Ricotta, Dates, and Pistachios – Brie, Apple, and Fig Spread – Proscuitto, Fig, and Mascarpone.

2. Hydration is probably the most important thing we can do to maintain our health and energy, and not just while traveling, but every day. If you’re feeling tired, drink a tall glass of water. If you’re feeling hungry, drink a tall glass of water. If you’re having trouble focusing, drink a tall glass of water. I think you get the idea!

Paying attention to our water intake is even more important when visiting higher elevations or dry arid climates. If you once start feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated and probably feeling somewhat fatigued. Water is the only nutrient that has been shown to enhance performance for all activities including the most demanding endurance activities. So drink up!

I'm a Pilot coffee mug

3. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining health and energy throughout the day. I think many of us may underestimate the effect disrupted or shortened sleep can have on our overall well-being.

Things to consider … avoid exposure to bright screens like phones, computers, or tablets right before going to bed. Studies have shown, the light from these devices interferes with our natural body clock making it more difficult to fall asleep. And speaking of body clock, try to stick to a routine. Al and I go to bed almost every night around 10:00 and get out of bed every morning around 6:00 making for a solid eight hours of sleep.

Avoid caffeine after a given time of day. This is where listening to our body comes into play again. Personally, I stay away from anything caffeinated much after 3:00 in the afternoon. Most people aren’t quite as sensitive as I am, but this is something to take note of and be aware of the effects of caffeine on you personally.

4. Move! Last summer while enduring some very long driving days as we transitioned from northern Wisconsin to Phoenix, Arizona, Al and I frequently stopped at rest areas to stretch our legs. Energy begets energy! If you’ve been sitting for hours on end in a car, RV, or airplane, simply standing up and doing some squats or getting in some walking will immediately get the blood flowing and make you feel more energized.

Don’t forget to get in some deep breathing while you’re at it.

5. Laugh! Al and I are the kind of people that seem to find humor in most situations. We don’t take life or ourselves too seriously. Studies have shown that laughing can boost energy and be a stress reliever. So, while you’re sitting on the side of the road in a broken-down RV waiting for assistance (if you can even get assistance), pull up YouTube on your phone and watch some silly videos. Laugh! Life is too short not to.😁

Or if you’re like us and tend to break down in places without cell service (no internet), then all you can do is laugh at the situation, or make fun of your partner. We’ve been traveling in our RV since 2011 and have made a ton of RVing mistakes. At the beginning of our RV journey, these mishaps and mistakes would overwhelm and stress us and now we just shrug, tackle, and laugh.

Our favorite word to say after an incident is “recalculating“. Not only do we need to reaccess our schedule, but we need to be honest about how we’re feeling. Once again, we listen to our bodies! We may change the pace, grab a healthy snack, hydrate with water, coffee, or tea, or better yet, eat chocolate. Oh yeah, my fave!

6. When all else fails, eat chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better! Chocolate has caffeine which is a quick pick-me-up, and it also has flavonoids that have been shown to boost cognitive skills and improve mood. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m all in for improving my mood and functioning brain. So, we always have a stash of chocolate in the RV.

By the way, I’ll take one for the team, and eat your share of chocolate if cocoa ain’t your thang!🤣

7. Listen to your body and do a mental check-in. We need to check-in with ourselves and travel companions regularly to access how we’re feeling. This is the perfect time to get real with what our bodies are telling us. And this holds true for our furry travel companions as well.

When we worked in the airline industry, we used to call it “get home-itis” (The determination of a pilot to reach a destination even when conditions for flying are dangerous). Don’t fall victim to “get there-itis“. When feeling tired, that’s not the time to ignore what your body is telling you and push through. This is when mistakes and accidents happen. Listen to your body! Be clear on how everyone is feeling and make simple changes as needed.

Pace yourself, drink water and eat more chocolate. If you’re not feeling your best and you’re driving, pull over … if you’re on a cruise, forgo that shore excursion … if you’re flying, take a nap. If you don’t feel well, do whatever is necessary to regain health and energy.

“The single biggest difference between people who get what they want and people who don’t is energy.”

By listening to our body, we can enjoy our travels while also benefiting from good health and plenty of energy. All it takes is a little inner reflection, planning, and flexibility.

Do you have any travel tips to help maintain health and energy?

old bicycle in a flower garden

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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
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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?

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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!

 

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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?

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