Boondocking – Love it or Hate it

We attended a social gathering last month. With the exception of Al and I, all the attendees owned homes here in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. About half also owned some form of RV, but none had ever lived in their RV full-time. These were RVing part-timers and some-timers.

During the ebb and flow of normal social conversation, we discussed RV travels and exchanged a few of our favorite places. Somewhere during the conversation, I mentioned how much I was looking forward to boondocking at Lake Powell at the end of the month. My comment was met with cocked heads and wrinkled noses.

boondocking Lake Powell

Boondocking at Lake Powell, Utah – we experienced harsh storms during that November visit!

Definitions

For those unfamiliar with the term boondocking (aka dispersed camping) it generally means, camping in the “boonies” on public lands where permissible with no fixed sites or services … meaning no electric, water, restrooms, or a designated campground. Boondocking is usually free, but not always. National Forest land along with BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) are the most common places RVers like to boondock. One might even boondock for a night in a retail parking lot like Walmart, Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel or a Casino. When we overnight in a retail parking lot, we usually make a purchase making it a win for both parties.

Dry camping is camping without hook-ups in a designated campground for a fee. Stealth camping is also a form of boondocking, but usually in a big city. Stealth camping is most popular with Van dwellers. They are able to park on any street where street parking is allowed, and overnight. Because they don’t look like a RV, they’re able to overnight ‘under the radar‘ so to speak.

Back to that conversation …

wild burroI found the cocked heads and wrinkled noses perplexing. As the conversation ensued, their common attitude became clear.

Since there’s a fair amount of BLM Land to the north and south of Lake Havasu City, during the winter months, the open land is dotted with RV’s boondocking.

Most of these RVers are like Al and me and living in their RVs full-time (or part-time) by choice, but some are not as fortunate, and I’ve heard these folks referred to as “sketchy people”. It’s this later group that these homeowners associate with boondocking; people who can’t afford to stay in a RV park or campground.

I tried to explain why “I” like to boondock, but sadly my words fell on deaf ears. And that’s fine by me … means there’s more land for me to enjoy without neighbors. We wouldn’t want every RVer out here boondocking.

camping in Utah

God rays in my front yard while boondocking in Utah. This is why I boondock!

Through the eyes of a photographer

Photography has helped me ‘see things‘ and given me purpose in our travels. As such, I love immersing myself in beautiful landscapes. When I can sit in the comfort of my RV enjoying my morning coffee while watching the sunrise, I’m in my happy place.

J. Robb State Park sunset

When I’m surrounded by stunning scenery, landscapes adorned with wildflowers while wildlife drifts about, I feel alive and grateful. Boondocking gives me a sense of freedom, a sense of living on my terms, by my rules. Ah, don’t get me wrong, there are government rules and unspoken etiquette amongst fellow boondockers, but that doesn’t overshadow the overall sense of feeling alive and freedom that I experience when I immerse myself in nature.

Boondocking is hard work

I love RVing and I love boondocking, but it can be hard work, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. While boondocking, there’s the constant concern of electrical usage, water usage, and monitoring tanks. Boondockers are a rare bunch willing to give up conveniences for experiences. We know what it’s like to carry our crap around physically and literally.

Lake Powell beach

Boondocking with a RV is one step above tent camping in my opinion. The RV does provide a fair amount of conveniences not available with a tent, but there are still things to consider.  If the idea of sponges baths or baby wipe baths in lieu of a regular shower doesn’t appeal to you, then most likely RV boondocking won’t either. (I won’t even begin to talk about my boondocking squat and hover talents because that would just be T.M.I. 😆)

I grew up camping and feel the beauty I see and experience while boondocking usually can’t be fully replicated while staying in a private RV Park.

Route 66 ArizonaMost state and regional parks come the closest to the outdoor boondocking experience with the added conveniences of some amenities.

Our Havasu friends are totally fine with private RV Parks and feel they get a very similar nature experience to what I get boondocking, although I might beg to differ.

Don’t misunderstand, I love the comforts of full hook-ups, and we spend 75% of our time camped in either a private RV Park or public Campground, but there are times I’m ready to give up the comforts of normal living for a secluded picturesque spot in the hinterland.

camping at Lake Powell, Utah

But let’s get real! The visual appeal, as seen in the photo above, as well as reading blog posts about folks having a fabulous time free boondocking in stunning locations is enticing, but the realities aren’t always fully disclosed. Do you know why we had this amazing slice of land almost exclusively to ourselves?  That’s because Al and I, along with three other RVs, were the only crazy insane idiots hardy folks willing to brave the elements.

It was November of 2012, and the weather turned cold and windy. During our stay, we experienced winds gusting in the 30-60 mph range. At one point there was sleet blowing sideways and the sand on the beach was being whipped into the air. The RV was rocking and rolling and not in a fun way! It was actually scary at times, and we had concerns about possibly blowing over. We questioned our decision making.

camping at Lake Powell

It was so cold, even our dog wore a jacket.

When we arrived at this location near Page, Arizona, two days earlier, the weather was warm and sunny. People were swimming and boating. There had to be well over twenty other RVs scattered around the area, but once the weather forecast predicted high winds, snow, and plummeting temperatures, the place cleared out quickly, leaving behind only us adventurous RVers.

It was quite the adventure, not one I’d care to repeat too many times. But that scenery and the ever-changing skies were like nothing I had ever seen before. It was a truly amazing experience and sight to behold. It made boondocking at Lake Powell totally worth not showering for three days. Hmm, maybe that’s what our friends meant when they used the term sketchy people …. perhaps the name Pig-Pen might be more fitting 😏 But that certainly wouldn’t pertain to us!  Baby wipes are the best. We always stock up before heading out on any extended boondocking excursion. Sponge baths work too, but we’re usually concerned about water conservation.

I’m in my happy place with this for my yard!

We have friends that love boondocking and do it exclusively. We have friends that hate boondocking and joking say roughing it to them means not having a sewer connection, and then there’s us. We fall into the group who enjoys a combination of camping options … a little bit of everything, but we totally understand the realities and what we’re signing up for. There’s a lot more forethought, planning, sacrifice, and physicality to boondocking. Some folks love it, and some folks hate it!

Would you be willing to give up comforts for scenery?

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”― Osho

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Cost of Full-time RVing – Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous post on what it costs to RV full-time. In my last post, I shared my budgeting list and began to break down that list by sharing costs and additional information to consider for living a nomadic life.

full-time RVing

By keeping track of our expenses, I’m able to see exactly what it costs us to travel and live full-time in the RV. It allows me to compare living a minimalist mobile lifestyle to that of our former life in a sticks and bricks dwelling.

Continuing down the budget list

RV and vehicle maintenance and repairs – With so many diverse RV’s (recreational vehicle) on the market, it’s impossible to generalize this expenditure. So much depends on the type of equipment chosen and its age. It’s also one of the most important things to consider when shopping for a RV. Sure, you might be able to afford the RV, BUT can you afford to maintain and repair it?

Larger RVs cost more in every way. So if you have a smaller budget, buying a smaller RV will set you up for success and be less stressful over the long term. Also the more expensive the RV, the more complex it is to work on. A simpler RV will allow any semi-handy person to save money by doing their own repairs.

The most expensive option is a Diesel Motorhome with a towed (toad) vehicle. Not only is a diesel motorhome the most expensive RV to buy, it’s also the most expensive to maintain and repair. Annual service (oil change, filters, etc.) on the motorhome can cost upwards of a $1,000 annually. New tires can cost well over $4,000. For comparison sake, new tires on a travel trailer or 5th wheel might average around $700 and normal service for a diesel pick-up truck can average around $300 annually (depending on how much you travel and frequency of oil changes). That’s a big difference to consider if budget is important to you.

hummingbirdThe least expensive option is a gas vehicle pulling a travel trailer. The smaller the trailer, the more options you’ll have for a tow vehicle. We’ve seen travel trailers being pulled by a variety of vehicles … everything from a basic pick-up truck to a van to a SUV and even a 4×4 Jeep. The simpler the equipment, the more economical the maintenance and repairs.

Van dwelling is becoming more and more popular and can be a cost-effective option, but you’re also giving up a great deal of space. Al and I would consider a van for part-time travel, but we would never consider the small space for full-time, not if we both intend to stay alive 😆

Expenses are somewhere in the middle for a gas motorhome with a toad (towed car) or a diesel pick-up truck pulling a 5th wheel or travel trailer. These are very popular options. We’re definitely happy with our set up and most years our maintenance and repair costs are minimal. In 2016 we spent $710 on our 2005 F-250 which included two new batteries, and $40 on our Fifth Wheel RV. Not too bad!

Lake Havasu Arizona

2017 wasn’t as kind on our budget. Our truck needed new injectors, repairs from damage incurred by a pack rat, and a few other major things. So along with normal maintenance added to the major repairs, we spent $5,100 on our truck.

The RV – in ’17 we replaced most of the window treatments and repaired a few other items totaling $450 for the year on the 5th Wheel.

Note: Always have an emergency fund and be prepared for breakdowns. Repairs and maintenance are part of the RVing lifestyle regardless of the RV and its age.

cost of Full-time RVing

RV and vehicle insurance and registrations – These fees vary significantly based on equipment and your home state (domicile). Some states charge a flat rate for licensing while other states charge based on value. The same holds true for insurance rates. Where you live (domicile) and what you drive will be the deciding factor on costs.

Another cost that might need to be added here is a payment. I guess if you’re hitting the road with a full-time location independent job, a RV payment is a mere replacement of a mortgage payment and interest might even be tax-deductible (check with a professional tax specialist).

Personally, I couldn’t fathom enjoying this adventurous RV life with the stress of debt hanging over my head. New RV’s depreciate rapidly (poor investment, and yeah, we bought new, but paid cash) and there are so many good quality older RVs which provide a good bang for the buck. Chances are even if you do buy a brand new RV, you’ll still do some remodeling. There’s a big difference between using a RV for vacations versus moving into one full-time. When you live in a RV full-time, it becomes your home, and as such you’ll want to personalize it. So if you can’t afford to pay cash for a new RV, consider buying used, maybe even a fixer upper and tap into your inner Joanna and Chip creativity.

Mail service and domicile – There are so many factors to consider when choosing a domicile. In the U.S. we all have to have a legal residence for the purposes of a driver’s license, registering our vehicles, healthcare, voting, homeland security, etc. The domicile you choose will have a significant impact on your budget as well as your healthcare.

cost of full-time RVingThe three most popular states for domicile for full-time RVing are; Texas, South Dakota, and Florida. All three states do not have a state income tax making them desirable. South Dakota is falling out of favor with a lack of health insurance options for those under the age of 65.

When Al and I were transitioning into full-time RVing, we set up a Texas address with the Escapees RV Club. However, I soon realized that in order to keep my health insurance, we needed to keep a Colorado address. This is when family in Colorado stepped up and we used them for our mail service and domicile for the first two years on the road. We are forever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for helping us out. We’re now based in Arizona, and never did use that Texas address.

Note: I am not an attorney, CPA, or any other professional, and acknowledge I may not know what I’m talking about 🤪 Therefore, do your homework before making any decisions on domicile. There are legal consequences to consider.

My personal advice would be figure out your healthcare needs first. Most insurance companies, medicare, and the VA, require elective procedures be preformed in your home state (domicile). So let’s say you need knee surgery … ask yourself what would be your ideal location for dealing with a medical situation? Would it be in your current home town? Near family or friends? Or maybe it doesn’t matter?

Once you answer those questions, you can research other factors including costs of vehicle licensing, taxes, and if a vehicle inspection is necessary. Most states also require you spend a certain amount of time in their state as a domicile requirement. So will your domicile state be one in which you intend to spend a fair amount of time visiting? Please do your homework, ask questions, and research!

Mail service companies can be found in just about any state, but you’ll want to check exactly what services they offer. America’s Mailbox and Escapees specialize in handling mail for full-time RVers, but some UPS Stores offer similar services and all give you an address that is not a P.O. Box. Please, do not consider using a “P.O. Box” address for full-time RVing. P.O. Boxes are not recognized as a legal residential address.

Full-time RVing cost

Clothing, shoes, and personal items –  Most RVers will tell you that you can expect this expenditure to be a fraction of what you once spent. It’s all about space and needs.This is another category that will vary a lot from person to person. We spend a lot less on clothing and shoes than we ever did living in a standard sticks and bricks home. One – I don’t have enough closest space in the RV to be adding items …. sigh! and Two – this lifestyle has us dressing simply. Simply does not necessarily mean cheaply. I spend more money on hiking shoes than I ever did on dress shoes. But today, I only own two pair of hiking shoes versus the dozens of dress shoes once housed in my former large walk-in closest. Fortunately, the RV has plenty of room for several pairs of flip-flops, sandals, and tennies. This gal has shoe needs after all 🤫

Storage facility – Ah, the cost of storing crap personal heirlooms. Do as I say, not as I do! We moved into the RV full-time on a whim and thought we’d only travel full-time for a year or two. Therefore, we have two 10 x 10 storage units back in Colorado full of stuff. We’re now into year five of full-time RVing, and still paying for that crap stuff to be stored … sigh!

We all have personal mementos, heirlooms or other things we don’t want to part with, so getting a storage unit makes sense. However, be ready for storage rent fees to be increased each year. If you have children, this would be the time to pass down those family treasures.

My recommendation …. purge! If you do find after a year that RVing full-time is not for you, then you’ll have fun redecorating a new sticks and bricks home. I know when I finally do get my stuff out of storage that I’ll end up getting rid of half of it anyway 😣 Al and I are in discussions on how best to eliminate at least one of those storage units, but every time we talk about it, we end up with margarita’s involved and no solution determined 🍹 Ah, to go back in time … learn from my mistake, save money, and purge!

costs of living full-time in a RV

Medical expenses and health insurance – sorry folks … I don’t feel qualified to help on this subject. You can try this site for starters. You might also want to check out how this young couple is dealing with a healthcare issue.

Membership fees – You’ll find through trial and error which memberships are most cost-effective for your needs. We love our Escapees RV Club membership and this is the one membership we’ve maintained from the beginning of our adventure. It is also important to have some sort of Roadside assistance (AAA, Good Sam, Coachnet). Other memberships you might add to your budget; Amazon Prime, Passport America, Harvest Hosts, Campground memberships, just to name a few.

Entertainment – Park passes, museums, concerts, movies, satellite TV, streaming services, etc.

Miscellaneous – pets, alcohol, haircuts. Depending on your interests and habits you might have other costs in this category that I haven’t thought about or we don’t use.

Let’s review that budget list …

  • Camping Fees
  • Gasoline and Propane
  • Groceries and dining out
  • Phone and Internet
  • RV / vehicle maintenance
  • RV / vehicle Insurance and registrations
  • Mail service and domicile
  • Clothing, shoes, personal items
  • Storage facility
  • Medical expenses and health insurance
  • Membership fees
  • Entertainment
  • Miscellaneous

Cost of living in a RV full-time …

So now that we’ve reviewed all the costs associated with full-time RV living, what exactly does it cost? As I mentioned before, one size does not fit all, but I can give you some averages.

The average cost of full-time RVing seems to range from $2,500 to $4,800 a month. We know some folks who manage to live on less than $2,000 a month while others need well over $6,000 a month. Just like living in a traditional home, it’s all about the way you like to live which will ultimately determine your budget. Hope this post was enlightening and helpful.

What Will Your Full-time RV Budget Be?Full-time RVing costs

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Cost of Full-time RVing

Every now and then, I’ll receive an email or comment asking what it costs to RV full-time?  I know a lot of people are either curious for the sake of general curiosity or because they have a genuine interest in the lifestyle. Seems folks either think you need to have a lot of money to travel full-time, or they think you’re down and destitute and the lifestyle barely costs anything. With that said, full-time RVing can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose. It’s all about personal preference.

Lake Havasu State Park Arizona

The first thing to consider when it comes to breaking down monthly costs is the type of  RV you have (or will have), and whether or not you’ll have a  monthly payment or pay cash for the equipment. The next considerations are how often you travel, where you park, and the activities you do in the places you visit.

Budgeting for full-time RVing is a very personal thing with lots of variables, and one size does not fit all. I’ve put together a general list of items most RVers can expect to pay to sustain the nomadic life of full-time RVing.

Budgeting list

  • Camping Fees
  • Gasoline and Propane
  • Groceries and dining out
  • Phone and Internet
  • RV / vehicle maintenance and repairs (perhaps a monthly payment)
  • RV / vehicle Insurance and registrations
  • Mail service – domicile
  • Clothing, shoes, personal items
  • Storage facility
  • Medical expenses and health insurance
  • Membership fees
  • Entertainment
  • Miscellaneous – pets, alcohol, hair cuts, etc. Depending on your interests and habits you might have other costs I haven’t thought of or that don’t pertain to us.

Full-time RVing

Monthly expenses

Camping Fees – Similar to living in a fixed location, you need to consider monthly rent. There are quite a few options available. There are people who boondock year-round and only pay small fees to dump their holding tanks and take on fresh water. A bunch of RVers enjoy workamping in exchange for a free place to park, and then there are others who enjoy all the amenities of a RV Park and budget accordingly.

egretIf you boondock (camping on public lands with no facilities) or you work camp (volunteer at a campground, State Park, National Forest, Wildlife Refuge) in exchange for a free campsite, your camping costs can be zero.

Private RV Parks can range on average between $300 to $900 a month. On the other hand, those looking to splurge might pay upwards of $1,800 or more a month for a fancy resort-style RV Park. Location and amenities are the major factors in such a fluctuation of fees.

Al and I tried work camping once and didn’t find the risk/reward to be worthwhile for us personally. Be sure and do your homework and know what you’re signing up for when you agree to work camp (aka workamp which is a trademark of Workamper News ). The thought of a free campsite is enticing, but do the math and understand the physical demands! Plus ask yourself, “Is this a place we would gladly pay to stay? Is it worth the risk for the reward gained?”

Let’s do the math …. Many state parks now charge about $30 a night (or more). If you were to stay a month, the cost would be $900 for the month (30 days times $30). If you decide working in exchange for a campsite would be ideal, keep in mind these state parks require couples to work 20 hours a week – per person. Thus, between the couple it’s 40 hours a week or 160 hours a month. (Two people for the price of one campsite. A single person would be required to work 20 hours for the same campsite. If you ever wonder why parks prefer couples, you just got your answer. ) So back to the math …. $900 a month divided by 160 work hours = $5.60 an hour per person. For an individual it would be $11.25 an hour ($900 divided by 80 monthly hours).

Colorado wildflowersSome folks love volunteering and don’t care about the numbers, while others are dealing with long-term injuries incurred while work camping.

In lieu of work camping, Al and I manage our monthly rent budget by utilizing a combination of options. When we stay in a private RV Park we go for a monthly stay or at the very least, weekly. The monthly rate is always the most economical.

Daily rates are usually the most expensive unless you’re able to utilize a discount membership rate through an organization like Escapees or Passport America. The nightly discounted rates quite often apply for one night only and are not available on weekends or holidays, but each park is different. So be sure and call ahead for clarification. We’ve actually stayed at places up to three nights at the discounted rate.

We love staying at National Parks, National Forest Campgrounds, and Corp of Engineer Parks, all run by the Federal Government. With Al’s old fart’s card (America the Beautiful Senior Pass), we usually pay half of the nightly fee. There are also special benefits for military personal, veterans, and the disabled. We love those discounts, but not all federal places offer the special discounted rates. As the government turns over the managing of these campgrounds to private management companies, these companies are given free rein to charge what they want and to honor or not honor any special passes. We’ve even noticed these private companies charging higher camping fees for holiday weekends.

State Parks and Regional Parks are always a campers delight, but too many nights at a rate of $30 – $60 a night can really put a crimp in anyone’s budget. This is when a little boondocking (aka dispersed camping) can help off set those monthly expenditures, but dispersed camping is definitely more work and requires much more forethought living off the grid and is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

As you can see, there are so many camping options with a wide range of fees. It took Al and me well over a year of full-time RVing to find our groove, but that doesn’t mean we don’t change it up on a whim and end up throwing the budget out the door, but we always end up back on track.

Since Al and I enjoy the diversity of private RV Parks, state parks, regional parks, and boondocking, by mixing things up in 2017, we managed to keep our monthly rental expenditure under $400 a month. This works for us, and we feel we handled our campground budget well in ’17.

Next on our list

Gasoline and Propane – Gasoline is entirely dependent on how much we travel and the price per gallon we pay. Obviously this number can fluctuate a lot, and it’s something we have no control over other than to drive less when gas prices sky-rocket. But what fun is that?

gas prices in Death Valley

gas prices – February 2012 in Death Valley …. ouch!

Propane use also varies depending on how cold the weather gets, and thus how much we use the furnace. We also use propane for cooking and our refrigerator when we’re not hooked-up to electric. If the weather is cold and I’m baking a lot, then our propane will need to be filled more often. Propane prices also fluctuate.

Last year, we spent about $125 on propane (for the entire year) and an average of about $325 a month for gasoline. Not too bad, but we did slow our travels in 2017. With the exception of our winter excursion to the Texas Gulf Coast, we spent most of the year meandering around the state of Arizona. In previous years, we traveled further with trips to Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Illinois and all parts in between. In 2016 we spent around $350 a month on gasoline and in 2015 it was closer to $410 a month.

Farmer's Market

Groceries and dining out – We find these costs to be very similar to what we used to spend living in our sticks and bricks home. We don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do, it’s usually to socialize or learn more about an area. We enjoy looking for local places that offer lunch specials or visit a local brewery or winery.

Part of the fun of traveling is exploring new places which includes local farmers markets, dining out at local restaurants, and meeting new friends. Connecting with fellow bloggers is always so much fun. And not all my blogging pals RV and yet we seem to have a lot in common. One (of many) upsides to a nomadic life is the people we meet.

Phone and Internet – Staying connected is vital to us. I have an iPhone 5, Al has a dumb flip phone, and we have a Verizon hotspot with 30 Gigabytes of data. If we’re not careful by monitoring our daily gig usage, we can easily gobble up those 30 gigs in a couple of weeks. Therefore, we’re currently shopping around for other plans, including the unlimited ones.

This subject makes my head spin and again there are so many variables. I know RVers who spend around $100 a month for phone and internet while others spend well over $300 a month. It just depends on your needs.

To be continued …

In my next post, we’ll work our way down the rest of that budgeting list 🤑

sunset over Lake Havasu

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Timing, RVing and Chocolate

Since our January 1st arrival at Lake Havasu City, we’ve been staying on private property and enjoying time with our friends. Although we have electric and water hook-ups, we don’t have a sewer connection which requires us to pack up and visit a dump station about every 7-10 days. Earlier in the month, we decided to change-up the scenery when it was time for us to empty our tanks by booking a night at the Lake Havasu State Park. Arizona has some great state parks and the Lake Havasu State Park definitely ranks high on my favorites list.

Lake Havasu State Park

I was in love with this tree at our campsite.

Timing is everything …

The last time we stayed here, the state park was undergoing some serious renovation and this time wasn’t much different. They were doing some major road grading and paving which provided a few obstacles for RVers, but our view more than made up for any inconveniences. Some of the trails were also closed due to the state park adding a new campground complete with cabins. From what we gathered, the cabins will be basic (not much more than a shed) and will adjoin a RV campsite. Interesting concept! Something to keep an eye on for those of us that enjoy sharing our adventures with family or friends who don’t have RVs.

And more about that timing thing …

bloggers meet

Judy and me at Mudshark Brewery in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Blogger pal, Judy, and her husband just happen to be staying at the Lake Havasu State Park during our one night stay on January 9th. Our campsites were actually in view of one another.  Serendipity! I don’t think we could’ve planned this encounter any better.

She and I have tried to connect for quite some time. As a matter of fact, we almost made it happen in Texas last winter. But alas, a year later, we finally managed that meet up in Arizona. A couple of happy hours complete with great conversation ensued. I’m sure we’ll see them down the road sometime!

More about our state park stay, or not …

We made the most of our one night stay at the Lake Havasu State Park, up to the point of sitting at our picnic table until minutes before noon, official check out time. Granted, we were all hooked up and ready to roll by 11:00, but I wanted to enjoy this spectacular site as long as possible. I took a ton of photographs during our stay, and I’d love to share more, but I’ve got a problem …. actually, I’ve got two problems.

One: my computer is acting up and has been ever since the latest Windows 10 update. Two: I’m sick. Yeah, timing sucks! Okay, I’ll admit, there’s never a good time to get sick, but when the weather is glorious, and has been all week … you know, light gentle breezes, an abundant amount of sunshine and temperatures are in a comfortable 70 degree Fahrenheit range in mid January …

(Sorry to those of you in colder climates. I’m not trying to rub it in. Well maybe just a little, cause isn’t that what friends do 😀)

bird photography

Anyway, I didn’t have time to be sick. I wanted to be out and about exploring and taking advantage of the unbelievably gorgeous weather this past week. Fortunately, before I ended up flat on the couch, I did manage to shoot a fair amount of photographs, mostly during our twenty-four hour state park stay, BUT unfortunately, I can’t process the photographs. We’re back to the computer acting up thing again.

I’m no techie, but I do know just enough to get myself, or rather my computer, out of a pickle … at least in the past I’ve managed. Right now, I’m a bit at a loss and may have to seek professional help.

After backing up all of my photographs, documents, downloads, etc. on to three external hard drives (hey this gal wants a backup to the backup to the backup), I reset my computer to factory settings, wiping out everything. “You got this girl”, I said to myself while my heart skipped a beat or two before hitting the return key or rather the key of no return. This computer is like an extension of my life! Lots of minutes later, the computer was started and restarted and appeared to be working well, but before I download Adobe Lightroom, I wanted to double-check the computer was indeed working properly.

After a little use, I closed up the laptop with the intent to reopen it within fifteen minutes (I did not shut it off, just closed the lid). Now here’s the ongoing problem – when I open it up and try to wake it up, I’m greeted with a black screen with occasional white blips or a white screen with what looks like a repetitive pattern. I’m left with no other option than to turn the computer off with the on/off switch.

never alone in the woods

Maybe it’s my heavy, illness filled head talking that makes me feel like I’m in some sort of old 1950’s horror film and being given slide show therapy for mental illness; black screen, white screen, flickering screen. Thank goodness there were no blipped images of clowns. That may have sent me jumping off the London Bridge. I have a serious clown phobia, but shh, don’t tell anyone 🤡

bird photographyWith the computer problem clearly not fixed, I decided to reset the computer yet again. After all, I had only downloaded Chrome and the TD Ameritrade platform along with a few minor changes. All easy enough to redo. This time when the computer restarted, a few of my personal screen saver images greeted me. There shouldn’t have been ANY personal items left on the computer after the first factory reset.

You know that sound from the Twilight Zone – yeah, that tune – it’s been playing in my head a lot the past week dealing with this computer. Perhaps it’s time I admit, I need professional help … for the computer, the computer I say, seriously it’s the computer that needs help. I don’t care what my husband says, it’s the computer, not me 😵

Sharing is a beautiful thing, or not …

After a wonderful, albeit short, stay at the Lake Havasu State Park, Al and I were flying rolling on cloud nine …. smiles from ear to ear! Our little jaunt reminded us why we love RVing and why we embarked on the full-time RV lifestyle. Yeah, we enjoyed it that much.

We had time to kill before we could move into our site at the state park. After driving around, Al thought it would be funny to park the RV on the boat ramp and make it look like he was going to launch it. The lighthouse in the background is Lake Havasu’s newest addition.

Less than forty-eight hours after our blissful state park experience, Al was hacking and coughing and bedridden for a couple of days. He had come down with the crud, but with the aid of nurse Nellie Ingrid and her Southwest Chicken Soup, he was quickly on the road to recovery. As is common with most loving spouses, we enjoy sharing experiences. With that said, Al felt compelled to share his crud induced stupor with his loving wife, moi. However, wife wasn’t satisfied with the basic crud, she felt compelled to out perform her husband by adding in the queasy stomach.

live laugh rv

Dogs! I love dogs and miss mine terribly, but I don’t miss the cleaning up after. (Where is she going with this? Stay with me. I swear it’ll make sense soon enough.) One of the things I always appreciated about dogs is they give you fair warning when they’re about to toss their cookies. And it’s your job to sprint over to them and either guide them outside or off the carpet asap before the nasty deed commences.

Kids on the other hand, rarely give warning. Let’s say it’s a beautiful sunny day as you run a couple of quick errands in your immaculately maintained Honda Accord. As you happily drive to your next destination be-bopping with the tunes on the radio, you pat yourself on the back for your wonderful mothering skills. You’re well-behaved child wild westwho’s sitting quietly in his car seat in the backseat decides then and there that this is the perfect time to showcase his talents and upstage Linda Blair in the Exorcist by sharing his projectile skills. The warm chunky substance slowly slides down mom’s head and a quick U-turn for home commences. Come on kid, a little warning would’ve been nice! Yeah, dogs are great!

So back to me being sick and upstaging Al in the illness department. It all started with a scratchy throat followed by the loss of appetite and energy. Wanting to reciprocate the nursing skills, he thought he’d warm up some soup for me. The result was like that dog warning followed by, “Oh dear God, take it away”. I couldn’t eat a thing for more than twenty-four hours. The mere thought of food put me into pre purging doggy mode. Thankfully, there were no child like Exorcist moments around the RV during the worst of my illness.

When I finally thought about eating something, the only thing that didn’t sound repulsive was chocolate. I didn’t even drink coffee for three days which really concerned Al. Concerned me too because I love my coffee and never go a day without. So my return to eating started with a Kit Kat for breakfast followed by German made Ritter Chocolate later for supper. The next day was a repeat but with the addition of soup for lunch.

I’m still not back to eating normally just yet but I’m definitely on the mends. Now as to my mental state? The jury is still out on that one!

sunset at Lake Havasu State Park

Watching the sunset from our RV at the Lake Havasu State Park.

But let’s face it, chocolate makes everything better. It’s at the top of my must have list of items required for successful RVing. An ample supply of chocolate is the secret to marital bliss while living in less than 300 square feet 24/7. Spousal dispute? Chocolate, but go for Belgian or German … some of the smoothest chocolate you’ll ever taste and it’ll smooth out any dispute.  Europeans make the best chocolate! Flat tire on the RV? Eat chocolate while assessing the situation. I swear the repair will go a heck of a lot better or at least any discussion with your partner will. Sick? Go for your favorite childhood candy bar and bring back fond memories of your youth.

Ah, the medicinal value of chocolate is endless. So while an apple a day may keep the doctor away …. a chocolate bar a day will bring harmony and peace into your life, or at least fill your tummy and make you smile. Namaste!

By the way, if any one thinks they know what might be going on with my computer, I’m all ears and willing to try just about anything. Next week, my sleek Dell girl may have to go in for help 😪 And one final tidbit – I almost wrote down the wrong name of the Exorcist actress. I originally typed Linda Lovelace instead of Linda Blair. I’m used to being corrected by my educated followers with my misnaming of birds, animals, and plants, but this faux paus may have resulted in my face flushing from severe embarrassment. Oh my gosh, my face is red just typing this!

What’s in my pantry? These are affiliate links.

Ritter Chocolate with Whole HazelnutsLindt Lindor Assorted Chocolate Truffles

Holiday Shopping Ideas

Tis the season!

The holiday decorations are in full twinkle mode and they’ve put me in the holiday spirit, and that means it’s time to go shopping.  When Black Friday rolled around, my daughter and I entered our first store before 8:00 a.m. … with coffee in hand, of course.

Gambels Quail

Our lists were short, and although we didn’t need to brave the masses on Black Friday, it’s kind of our mother – daughter tradition. I don’t enjoy shopping as much as I once did, but I still love strolling the stores around the holiday season, especially with my daughter.

Chili Chocolate Festival Desert Botanical Garden

Ashton buys some locally grown honey at the Chili and Chocolate Festival at the  Desert Botanical Garden

However, we did start our shopping a couple of weeks before Black Friday when we visited the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. The garden was hosting a Chili and Chocolate Festival which was too intriguing to miss. Nothing like shopping with a glass of wine in hand while chocolate samples are being passed out. Oh yum! Note to self to attend next years event. Is there such a thing as too much chocolate? I think not!

Shop till you drop

Don’t shop till you drop!

All those extra calories were easily burned off on our Black Friday shopping excursion when Ashton and I walked over 6 miles and 13,000 steps. Between all those steps, we managed to squeeze in a tasty meal at the Yard House and eventually checked off most of the items on our lists.

We had a fun day and didn’t think the crowds here in Phoenix were too overwhelming. We’ve experienced a lot worse during earlier years while shopping near Denver on Black Friday. Hmm, wonder if more folks are choosing to shop online.

I do have a few more gifts to buy, but I too intend to make those purchases online. Yep, Black Friday was fun, but I’ll let my fingers do the walking while fulfilling the rest of my Christmas list. After all, I don’t intend to shop till I drop! Although, after cyber Monday, I may experience signs of carpal tunnel 😆

Have you started shopping yet? Do you need some help with ideas? I’ve put together a list of some of our favorite items. Please note, these are affiliate links.

Desert Botanical Garden Phoenix

This photo was taken mid November in Phoenix. Flowers bloom year round in the desert.

Camera Gear

Okay, for those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know how much I love photography, but I have a hard time calling myself a photographer and refer to myself as a snap-shooter. Sure there are times I pull out the tripod and really focus on composition and camera settings, but that’s not the norm for me. Most of the time, I hand hold the camera, set it to auto or program, and snap away. I do have a ton of fun doing so and don’t take my photography too seriously. With that in mind, here are a few of my recommendations. Note – I do have an entire page dedicated to my camera gear.

If you want to take your photography up a notch but don’t want to be bothered with changing camera lenses, this Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K might be the perfect fit for you. I shoot with an earlier model and absolutely love my camera. My latest edition is a PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70K. This is a powerhouse of a camera in a little package. All of my photos shared on this post were taken with the PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70K

I do travel with a couple of inexpensive tripods – VANGUARD  Tripod  and JOBY GorillaPod

I love gear bags. Thank goodness I don’t have extra storage space. When we moved into the RV full-time my handbag/purse addiction got purged along with everything else 😲 But gotta have someplace to put the camera gear and keep it protected. Ah, so many cute camera bags these days.

In the Kitchen

We don’t go out to eat very often, much preferring to eat at home. However, having a small kitchen can present a few obstacles, one of which is storage. Thus, I’ve had to pick my priorities as to items I can’t live without …. BUT … there are items we can live without, but oh so fun to have.

RV Related Gift Ideas …

And more gift ideas ….


Hope I’ve given you some gift ideas whether it be for a loved one or yourself. I know there’s a couple of items on this list that I’ll be ordering.

I’ve tried to add these links to pop up in a new tab, but not all cooperated 🤔 If you get taken away from my site, hit your back arrow to return.

Happy shopping and just a reminder,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Wish me luck on cyber Monday ….

Salt River Arizona

My search for fall colors continues – not much luck for me this year.

A Sense of Freedom

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

Grand Canyon Black and White photography

south rim of the Grand Canyon

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

company Adirondack chairs on the beach

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

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

Chicago skyscrapers

Willis Tower aka Sears Tower Chicago

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

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

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

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

Dillon Lake, Colorado

Dillon Lake, Colorado

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

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

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

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

sunrise over the Gulf

somewhere along the Texas Gulf Coast

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

trees in the mist

Trees in the mist – somewhere near the Texas Gulf Coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S, 20.3 Megapixel Tripod

Trouble with the Dream

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

south rim Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park – south rim

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

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

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

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

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

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

camping near the Grand Canyon

Our son joined us for a few days. Good times around a campfire!

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

bull elk

one of our neighbors strolling by our campsite

Coyote

This neighbor serenaded us at two in the morning. Al and I were amused – son not so much!

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

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

squirrel

Don’t be dissing one of my relatives!

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

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

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

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

Grand Canyon camping

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

portable air compressor

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

portable Viair air compressor

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

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

5th wheel landing jacks

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

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

Coyote

Hey, you guys need any help?

Kaibab National Forest

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

Arizona state route 64

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

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

sitting ducks

sitting ducks – stalled on Arizona State Route 64

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

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

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

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

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

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

RV mice

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

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

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

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

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

south rim Grand Canyon

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites

How to Pick the Perfect RV

How do you pick the perfect RV for your personal needs? I’ve wanted to write a post on this very subject for a super long time and have enlisted the help from a guest.

But before we get into the meat of the post, let me take a step back …. a few weeks ago my daughter wanted me to meet the parents of one of her friends. You see, these folks were contemplating selling their house and moving into an RV full-time, but didn’t know the first thing about RVing …. total newbies.

on the road againAfter a three-hour luncheon, I had inundated this couple with so much information that their heads were spinning. To make a long story short, in the end, I recommended that they rent at least one RV. They wouldn’t have to travel far, just spend a couple of nights in a nearby state park and test things out. Figure out what they liked, didn’t like, and how they felt about the overall experience.

RVing is not for everyone, and buying the wrong RV can be a very costly endeavor. Remember, RVs are a depreciating asset.  It’s really easy to get caught up in all the pretty bells, horns, and whistles on an RV Dealership lot, especially with an encouraging salesperson eager to spend your money, only to walk away with something that doesn’t fit your personal goals and will lead to unhappy travels.

Without further adieu, I’ll let Gaby from RV share enlighten us all on the benefits of renting an RV – try before you buy. 

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How to Try Out an RV Before Jumping In
An RV is a hefty investment. And, like any good consumer, you need to do your research before investing in one. Because while RVs offer a freer, more fulfilled lifestyle, they can also be a significant strain on your bank account. If you purchase one frivolously, it could turn out to be a nightmare of an expense that you’ll be paying off for many years to come. Thankfully, renting an RV before you commit is a great way to find out if ownership is right for you.

classes o RV's

Peer-to-Peer RV Rentals Help Owners and Renters Alike
More than 9 million Americans own RVs. The industry is undergoing a renaissance, and more people are buying RVs than ever before. The RV age gap is also shifting; Millennials are quickly becoming one of the largest age brackets of full-timers and renters.

Sadly, though, roughly 90% of RVs sit unused for most of the year. The RV’s gather dust while ownership costs, like payments and storage fees, accumulate. RV share and other peer-to-peer rental networks offer a solution to this problem that works for both parties: owners can rent out their RVs and supplement their income, and renters get to try before they buy.

RVing in Moab Utah

Due Diligence: Rent an RV Before You Buy
It’s of the utmost importance that you do your research when buying an RV. We can’t stress this enough. You wouldn’t buy a house without making sure it met your needs first, would you? Considering that some RVs can cost as much as a house or more, it only makes sense that renting an RV should be your first step. Here’s why:

● Renting an RV isn’t difficult or expensive. Depending on the type of RV you rent, you can find rates for as little as $60 per day! It’s a small price to pay for the experience.

● You’ll start learning to see through the eyes of an RV’er. Whether you’re consideringSave money renting a RV buying an RV to live in or to use for weekend camping, you’ll need to know how to downsize and prioritize. Renting an RV for a few days will help you change your perspective and learn how to pack for RV living.

● You’ll learn a lot about how RVs work. This is knowledge you absolutely must have if you want to buy an RV. You need to know how to dump and clean the tanks, maintain the batteries, make minor repairs to appliances, use the slide outs and leveling jacks, and much more. Even a short weekend RV rental will enlighten you to the necessary skills you need to own an RV.

● You’ll figure out which type of RV is best for you. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars on an RV, only to find out it’s too difficult to drive or too small to fit your family?  By renting an RV, you’ll get to try out a variety of different types and sizes, so you can determine what you like and don’t like. RV share has a diverse inventory of hundreds of thousands of RVs for you to check out.

● You’ll get some driving (and lifestyle) practice. Traveling in an RV is a skill in and of itself. You need to plan your routes and campground stays carefully; but you also need to be able to adapt to changes quickly. Taking a road trip in a rented RV will teach you how to be organized and prepared, and how to think on your feet.

RVing Dillon Colorado

How to Choose the Right RV Rental
Before you rent, it would behoove you to narrow down your list of potential RVs. There are millions of different RVs out there, each with their own features, floor plans, and price points. Ask yourself the following questions to help you find some good rental candidates:

● Would you rather tow or drive your RV? Towables are more affordable, roomier, and can be left at the campground if you need to run into town for errands. On the other hand, motorized RVs are much easier to drive, and thus more comfortable for many.

● How many people will travel with you? Small trailers and Class B vans are perfect for two people, plus they’re affordable and easy to drive. Mid-sized RVs, usually between 25 to 30 feet, are good for three or four people. Anything over 35 feet in length is considered large and good for big families or if a couple is considering living in the RV full-time.

● How important is privacy to you? RVs with separate bunks and bedrooms (like Class C’s and large Fifth Wheels) give everyone their own personal space. If privacy isn’t an issue, convertible dinettes and sofa beds might be enough.

● Do you plan on dry camping a lot, or do you prefer campground stays? Maybe you’re not sure. If you like the idea of camping under the stars and away from the crowds, you’ll want an RV that’s adequately equipped for boondocking. Features like solar panels, large holding tanks, and a good-sized generator are key.

● Finally, how do you plan on paying for your RV? Generally, you won’t be able to finance an RV that’s 15 years old or older. So, while older RVs are more affordable, you’ll need to either pay in cash or take out a personal loan to buy one. New RVs can be financed, but can cost close to $100,000 or more. If you’re looking for a middle-ground, look for RVs that are about 10 years old and come with financing.

RVing in Moab Utah

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, start looking for two or three different RVs to try out. Experiment with different types of floor plans and features. Maybe you test out a large Class A with slide outs one weekend, then rent a mid-sized Class C the next. This way, you’ll get a sense of how it feels to drive different types of RVs and how well the layouts suit your needs.

Hit the Road and Find Your Dream RV!
Thanks to peer-to-peer RV rental networks, trying before you buy has never been easier. You can find just about any type of RV you have in mind, whether you want an affordable conversion van, a luxury Class A, or something in between. For just a few hundred dollars, you can rent an RV for the weekend and see what type of RV is best for you – which will save you a lot of hassle if you eventually decide to buy.

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How to make money with your RV

Thanks Gaby for providing my readers with some great information.

Have you ever rented an RV to test out the RVing adventure before buying? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Wildlife on the Trail?

Would you know what to do if you came face to face with wildlife on the trail? Obviously, a lot depends on exactly what kind of animal we’re talking about.  A marmot would have me stopping in my tracks to snap a bunch of photos all the while baby talking to it and letting him know how darn cute he is.

A snake on the other hand gets my heart pounding while exclaiming, “Oh sh*t!” but of course still managing to take a quick snapshot 🐍😮 (which I don’t recommend)

rattlesnake

coming face to face with a rattlesnake on the trail

Even though I should already know the answer(s) considering my past wildlife encounters, lately I find the need to evaluate my trail safety savviness and ask myself, “What should I do if ….. ?” The reason for my review pertains to my recent encounter with a rattlesnake on the trail last week. This was my second time having a close encounter with a diamondback and I’m hoping it’s my last, but when you spend as much time hiking in their habitat as I do, chances are we’ll meet again.

Willow Lake Prescott Arizona

Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

So what did I do when I heard that unmistakable sound only a diamondback rattlesnake can make? My tale about his tail ….

Willow Lake, Prescott, ArizonaLast Thursday was a glorious day offering a much wanted reprieve from the every day rainstorms. However, it is monsoon season here in Arizona and the moisture is very much-needed in this arid climate.

With the sunny blue skies, it didn’t take me long to lace up my hiking shoes and head on over to the Granite Dells area for an exploratory hike with the camera.

I chose an out and back hike at Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona. The trail started off like any other dirt hiking trail, but soon I found myself scrambling across huge boulders and using the white spray painted dots to guide me along the trail.

hiking Willow Lake, Prescott trails, Arizona

white dots highlighting trail

I was a mere fifteen minutes into the hike when the trail went up rather steeply and I began wondering what I had gotten myself into.

To maintain my balance, I leaned forward toward the boulder and steadied myself with one hand on the ground as I climbed following the white spray painted dots.

I continued to pay close attention to those dots as to not veer off the trail. I was focused on my footing and my where abouts and of course the obligatory photo taking.

About 20 to 25 minutes into the hike, the trail had taken me up and over some beautiful scenery. I was enjoying myself and getting in a great workout. The trail had dipped down only for it to head back up over a rock outcropping. I was slightly winded as I climbed and just as the boulder leveled off, there was an unmistakable sound to my right.

diamondback rattlesnake

Is it just me, but I see shoes? I find his skin beautiful … the repetitive pattern, texture, and color is stunning.

“Oh sh*t, not again!!!” There off to my right about 10 to 12 feet away was a rather large diamondback rattlesnake in strike position. Tail was up and rattling. Head was up with tongue dancing. I slowly and gingerly kept walking (which I felt was my safest and quickest option).

Within seconds, he settled down and both of us no longer felt threatened. I quickly, and I mean quickly, snapped a couple of photos while admiring his unique beauty.  Hmm, years ago I owned a pair of snake skin shoes with a similar texture. At the time, I lived in the Chicago area and had never seen a snake in the wild.

For some reason, I kept thinking about those shoes and soon came to the conclusion that it would somehow feel very wrong to me owning a pair of snake skin shoes. Although I didn’t appreciate the encounter on the trail, I do appreciate wildlife and that beautifully textured skin belongs in the wild and not on my feet.

diamondback rattlesnake

I was hiking from left to right when I met Mr. Diamondback

diamondback snake

guess I wasn’t the only one on the move.

rattlesnake

As I was hiking from the left and coming over the ridge, I was more focused on my footing and potential critters in the rock crevices which is why I didn’t immediately notice the snake sunning himself near the ledge.

For a brief second, I thought about hanging around for more photo-ops. He was rather large and a good-looking snake at that, but thank goodness my better judgement took over.  Although he and I seemed to have come to an understanding, you never know what might provoke the guy. He is a snake after all and unpredictable. I’m not afraid of snakes, but I am afraid of being bitten by a snake.

I continued on my hike and once I was on the other side of the ravine, I looked back to see if the snake was still there.

Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona

Looking across the ravine to see if the snake is still on the trail.

I certainly felt somewhat relieved seeing Mr. Diamondback on the move. Remember, I have to hike back this way 😲 This rattlesnake encounter did take some of the joy out of the rest of my hike and I was almost ready to call it quits, but I’m a stubborn gal and I was on a mission to see the red bridge. Thus, it was onward and upward …. figuratively AND literally.

hiking Prescott trails, Arizona

Eek – all those nifty places for snakes to hide. “Please Lord no more diamondback encounters”.

Red Bridge Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona

The red bridge looks more pinkish than red thanks to the Arizona sun

I made it to my destination; the red bridge. I was tempted to continue hiking a little further, and probably would have had it not been for the snake encounter. It was already 85 degrees Fahrenheit at ten in the morning. With the heat and sun shining, this was ideal snake weather and one diamondback meet up was more than enough.

Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

Red Bridge – Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

After a little rest and several photographs later, it was time to turn around and retrace my steps. To say I was on edge or a little jumpy would be an understatement. Each little rustling of vegetation from lizards or grasshoppers would have me whipping my head around in search for the cause of said movement, and lets not even talk about the sounds of crickets or birds.

lizardgrasshopper

 

 

 

 

 

It really was a beautiful day and Willow Lake is a wonderful place to hike, but I couldn’t relax and enjoy the return hike. I was on edge and just wanted to get back to my car.

Prescott trails

I laid my pack down next to the white trail marker to help show the grade – steepness

I navigated the areas of the trail where I was concerned about the steepness of the boulders with a quickness and ease that surprised me. And to think, earlier I thought I’d be scooching back down this trail on my derriere.

Willow Lake trail Prescott, Arizona

follow the white dots – hiking up to see if Mr. Snake is still there!!!

When I retraced my steps on the trail near the rattlesnake encounter, I felt nervous and heard a large sound in my ears. It was a familiar sound, yet unfamiliar. It was so loud that it nearly drowned out the sounds of birds chirping. I stopped for a second to figure out what it was and soon realized it was the pounding of my heart.  “Geez, Ingrid. Get a grip. It’s only a snake”.  “Ah, but not any old snake”, I replied to myself.

critters on the trail

careful of sneaky critters on the trail!

Okay, now I’m talking to myself.  I vowed, when I got home, I’d do some Googling and investigate what to do when encountering wildlife. I felt pretty sure of myself and what to do, but a little review might be helpful and perhaps make me feel a bit more confident in the future.

hiking in Prescott, Arizona

The stick on the trail made me jump thinking it was a snake

I made it past the rattlesnake sighting only to have a hornet keep buzzing around me. Must’ve been the sweet nectar oozing from my pores. Between the heat, blazing sun, and nervous fear this gal, who normally doesn’t sweat, was sweating indeed.

And although I managed to avoid a snake bite or hornet sting, I did return to the RV with a dozen itchy tiny welts from mosquitoes.

At least these were itty bitty mosquitoes when compared to the huge ones found in Minnesota.

hiking in Prescott Arizona

So here are my thoughts on safety guidelines. Although today I’m talking about wildlife, I use the same personal guidelines when visiting a city. Thus, whether I’m in the wilderness surrounded by boulders and vegetation or in a metropolitan area surrounded by concrete and roads, a little street smarts goes a long way.

  • learn an animals habits and potential dangers
  • stay calm and back away slowly
  • appear tall and confident
  • allow a wide berth
  • do NOT turn your back
  • do NOT act threatening or provoke
  • be prepared and always have an exit strategy
  • carry pepper spray/bear spray

I know this is a basic  guideline and each animal reacts differently, but in all cases, I’d say most important is not acting threatening or provoking. So what would I have done if bitten by that rattlesnake?

  • First, distance myself from the snake
  • Second, sit down and stay calm. Try not to move.
  • Third, call 911 (when I’m out and about, I’m always checking my phone for reception) If my phone won’t work, use my whistle or scream for help (I try never to hike remotely when by myself. Although this day, I didn’t run into another hiker on the trail. Thank goodness I had good cell service)
  • Always be familiar with your location and surroundings so you can give good directions should you need rescuing. I stopped at every trail post noting my location.
  • If not dizzy, slowly make my way back to the trailhead
  • Get to a hospital as soon as possible.
  • Additional info on snake bites here and here

Willow Lake Prescott Arizona

Have you ever come across wildlife unexpectedly and feared for your safety?

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Too Much Sunshine?

Is there such a thing as too much sunshine? I grew up in the Midwest and I remember well the days that would turn into weeks where the sun stayed hidden behind a thick layer of cloud cover. The month before we packed up and moved west, we experienced an entire month with seeing the sun shine. Talk about depressing!

sunshine Prescott Arizona

That gloomy weather made it a lot easier to say good-bye to family and friends as we packed up our family of four plus furry dog and moved west to the unknown. We didn’t have jobs. We didn’t know a soul. All we knew was we weren’t meant to stay in the Chicago suburbs.

sunshine in Prescott ArizonaWe purged more than half our stuff. Items we couldn’t part with, like our canoe and a few family heirlooms, were stored at Al’s sister’s farmette in northern Illinois. We packed up our full size van and a small pull behind U-Haul trailer and off we headed west to Las Vegas, Nevada ….. in January, no less. Our larger pieces of furniture were moved by Mayflower.

Yeah, there were a few people who thought we’d lost our marbles moving from Chicago to Las Vegas in the dead of winter with our young children – 3 and 5 years old at the time.

When you know in your heart that it’s time for a change, time to move on, why procrastinate? Al and I share a favorite scene from the movie Paint Your Wagon ….

Elizabeth: Then simplify your life, Jacob. Sell me.
Jacob Woodling: But Elizabeth: you don’t know what you’ll get.
Elizabeth: But I know what I’ve had.

It’s a line Al and I share regularly when discussing a change, a change of any kind, “I don’t know what I’ll get, but I know what I’ve had“. Sure, there’s always that fear of the unknown, but Al and I have never allowed fear to hold us back. Although, I assure you there was a fair amount of fear with an incident or two crossing the Rockies in the middle of January with two small children and a dog in tow.

reflections

The highlight of that cross-country move happened in Colorado. The Eisenhower Tunnel located 60 miles west of Denver, Colorado on Interstate 70 is over a mile and a half long and sits at an elevation exceeding 11,000 feet. The moment we exited that tunnel, we were greeted with the most spectacular sight. Laid out before us were stunning snow-covered mountains in all directions along with the brightest blue sky I had ever seen. I’m sure my mouth dropped open in awe.

On Interstate 70 near the town of Frisco, Colorado, is a scenic pull-out. (I highly recommend this stop when traveling westbound on Interstate 70) We stopped here to stretch our legs and take in the amazing scenery. We no sooner exited the vehicle when all four three of us started complaining, “The sun, the sun! I need sunglasses!”  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such brightness in nature. I started seeing spots like I’d been hit with the flash of a camera.

Although, Mr. Aviator sunshineHusband always sported cool dude aviator shades, the kids and I rarely found the need to wear sunglasses in the mostly overcast Chicago suburbs. Ah, little did we know, but this lack of sunglasses habit was about to change 😎

Three days and 1,800 miles later, we arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada, and our introduction to life in the desert southwest began. We went from an average of 189 days of sunshine a year to over 300 days.  Oh yeah, bye-bye seasonal depression … bring on the sunshine!

But is there such a thing as too much sunshine? It’s a question I’ve recently been asking myself. Now that the forest fire is contained and the air has cleared, I’m getting back to exploring the Prescott area with my camera. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d return to the RV complaining to my husband about a boring blue sky. But that’s exactly what happen the other day.

sunshine
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t dare swap these lovely blue skies for the grey gloomy ones in the Midwest. It’s just nice to change it up every now and then. We’ve gone over six weeks without a drop of rain and hardly a cloud in the sky. I find myself collecting sunglasses and stashing them in all the necessary locations …. a pair in the car, one or two in my purse, another pair on my desk. They seemed to have multiplied and partnered up with my old eye cheater glasses that I also have lying around every where 🤓

Prescott Arizona Willow Lake

Ah, so much sun, but patience is a virtue. I keep my eye on the sky. I’m longing to photograph one of those amazing desert sunsets, and I need a smattering of clouds to fulfill my quest. Considering it is officially “monsoon” season here in Arizona, I shouldn’t have to wait too long. I keep the camera at the ready.

Monsoon season in Arizona

Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona

And finally a storm rolls in. It didn’t exactly produce the shot I was envisioning, but I’ll take it. The storm passed through rather quickly, but it smelled wonderfully refreshing while it lasted. And now that I’ve had that quick little fix of storm clouds, bring on the sunshine. Yeah, I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much sunshine or having too many pairs of sunglasses 😎

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

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