6 Benefits of Driving Yourself while Traveling

Driving can be one of the most exciting and easiest ways to get around when traveling. Whether I’m traveling with our RV in tow or my daughter and I are off on one of our infamous road trips in her car, driving gives me that sense of freedom I relish.

Even on trips overseas, I enjoy renting a car or even a bike. Although my favorite would be renting an RV or camper van … renting a camper van in New Zealand remains on my bucket list. That freedom to simply hit the open road and explore as much ground as possible is absolutely the best. Traveling on our own terms, our own schedule, and off the beaten path can be an amazing adventure.

RV traveling down the road with scenic Moab, Utah in the background

Personal time

First, traveling anywhere is all about us. Adventure awaits! After all, we’ve set aside time to travel and do things with family, friends, our partner, or even just our self and organizing flights with potential tight schedules can be stressful and can get in the way of all our fun.

Gal taking a photo of a zebraWhen driving ourselves, we get to make our own schedule and if we don’t want to keep to it, we don’t have to. During the process of us driving, if we discover a pristine beach or find that perfect mountain meadow and we want to stay a little longer, we can.

Let’s not forget about photographic opportunities and the freedom to stop, snap, and stay. It’s all solely based on ourselves and how we want to spend our day.

Ah, doesn’t that sound wonderful? Yep, I’m looking forward to our summer excursion!

Ultimate freedom

The number of new things we can discover when driving ourselves is pretty amazing. We’re more likely to go off the beaten path with the freedom we have traveling with our own transportation.

I’ve never been one to enjoy taking public transportation unless I have no other option, and the thought of making plans around an airline schedule no longer appeals to me. And this coming from a former Flight Attendant. These days, air travel is the last resort for me, but necessary at times, especially if I ever want to rent that camper van in New Zealand. Yeah, it would be a necessity to take that long flight from America to New Zealand to check that adventure off my bucket list.

But once I’m in my own transportation, I try to set aside time to explore something new each day to make the most of that sense of freedom.

Road tripping, gal hangs hand and arm out window causing a sense of freedom

Cost efficient

Let’s face it, road trips are usually more cost effective. Flying can be expensive, and taxis can cost a lot of money if we rely on them regularly while on vacation. Sure, sometimes we’re left with no option. Yeah, I don’t think there’s an easy way for me to get my RV to Hawaii (or New Zealand). So, flying it is, and then I’ll rent a car.

By renting my own transportation, I can explore on my terms, stop at a grocery store for healthy eating options, and save some money from having to go out to eat all the time, especially when traveling with a family of four.

One of my families most memorable trips was to Hawaii several years ago. My family still likes to tease me about our day excursion to the top of Haleakala, dormant volcano on the island of Maui. There was a thick layer of low-lying clouds along with a slight drizzle of rain, and I was convinced that if we drove to the top, we’d be above the clouds. Wrong! Once at the top, the thick layer of fog made it nearly impossible to see anything. After a few laughs, we headed back down the mountain. Near the base of the volcano, we noticed a newly opened zipline venue and quickly turned in.

I had packed a picnic lunch that day. The money we saved by not eating out or not booking a guided tour to Haleakala National Park, allowed us to go ziplining for the first time. It was so much fun and made for great family memories.

Transporting luggage

One of the biggest benefits of driving is packing. This is probably my favorite benefit to road tripping. I have the extra room to take a few more frivolous items … you know, like that cute pair of shoes that I may not even wear.

Luggage in an airport can be a nightmare not to mention the fear of it getting lost. Therefore, I’ve always been a ‘carry-on’ only kind of traveler. Even when I’ve traveled to Europe for a week, it was just with my carry-on. So, those cute shoes were always left behind, sigh.

RV traveling down a deserted road in Utah

Comfort

There’s no better feeling than being comfortable when traveling, and with your own mode of transportation, it’s so much easier. I think we’ve all been on a flight or bus with screaming kids. That’s the worst!

With our own vehicle, we don’t have to worry about sitting next to strangers and we can come and go as we please. Yep, that’s the ultimate comfort while traveling.

Chance to be spontaneous

I love the spontaneity and freedom of driving. Spontaneity is an amazing luxury that I don’t take for granted.  A random day trip, a detour along the way, or even just the decision to go somewhere different for happy hour is all at my fingertips when I have my own vehicle.

Final thoughts

Whenever and wherever I travel, I always keep safety in mind. It’s also important to understand the rules and laws of the states or countries we visit.

Did you know there’s a law in France for having an unused breathalyzer in your vehicle? I guess it’s still a controversial law, but even so, I found that tidbit of information interesting.

Here in the U.S., we need to think about laws regarding cell phone usage while driving. Every community, county, and state has its own laws about talking or texting while driving.

As my daughter and I do more research and brainstorming on potential travel locations for our next mother/daughter adventure, we’re finding a lot of useful information. 1Cover’s The Secret Traveler offers tips on how to stay safe while on the road along with other helpful information and travel ideas. Hmm, our travel list seems to be getting longer instead of shorter!

Research and knowledge are the best ways to plan for any travel journey. Happy road tripping!

Benefits of a road trip, #roadtrip, #bestvacations, #drivingwhiletraveling
road tripping, benefits of driving, #lovetravel, #drivingonvacation

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Summer Trip Planning

I don’t know about you, but our winter whizzed by. Even though the weather here in Phoenix was cooler and wetter than usual, we still had a very fun and active season. This was the longest stretch of time that we remained camped in one place since Al and I moved into the RV full-time back in June of 2013. Wow, just saying that … I can’t believe we’re close to completing six years of full-time RV living. So much for doing this for just a year or two!

wildflowers in Arizona, summertime, spring flowers

Although we have slowed down our travels, we are in no way close to giving up the RV lifestyle. And as much as our seven-month stay in Phoenix was awesome, that hitch itch is starting to set in and summer trip planning is in full swing.

Our plans for the summer

So, where are we going this summer? We’ll be working our way from Arizona toward northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We have a few stops in mind, but our main destination will be visiting family in Wisconsin. We had such a great, albeit short, visit with family when they came out to Arizona for our son’s wedding, that we all realized a lengthier family reunion needs to be arranged.

For our excursion, there won’t be any advanced RV reservations made on our part. Instead, we’ll travel in our preferred winging it fashion. I already know that staying in picturesque state parks probably won’t be in the plans unless we get lucky snagging a last-minute cancellation. There really is a method to my madness and reasoning behind not making reservations – we don’t want a schedule. The whole reason we travel via our RV is the freedom it affords us, and making commitments takes some of the fluidity out of the equation.

Monument Valley, road trip, summer trip planning

Since we expect most RV parks and campgrounds to be full during the summer months (I did try making some reservations to no avail. State Parks are already all booked up), we’re counting on staying with family, friends, casinos, and wherever else we can find a place to park. I assure you, that first year out on the road, there was no way I could’ve traveled like this. I had such a fear of being homeless … fear of not finding a place to camp that I had a well-planned calendar complete with reservations for the first six months and beyond.

First stop Colorado

distance between two cities, our summer road trip, trip planningOur first two days on the road will include more driving than Al and I have done in over a year. We do have a reason or two for our plan to drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Pueblo, Colorado in two days (752 miles/1210 km)

First off, we know this route like the back of our hands. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve traveled this very route ever since our son moved to Phoenix, Arizona back in 2009, and we still lived in Pueblo West, Colorado. We used to make the drive in one long day, but that was without pulling the RV. With the RV in tow, we’ll definitely break it up into a two-day drive.

We won’t have time to dilly or dally along the way since our main focus will be dealing with our storage units (plural, unfortunately) in Pueblo, Colorado. The goal is to purge our stuff down to one unit. And who knows how much time we’ll need to deal with this daunting task. 😕

Fingers crossed that we get the work out-of-the-way quickly and we can get on with the summer fun!

Slowing down

With the storage unit task behind us, we’ll slow our travels down to a more enjoyable pace and work our way up to South Dakota where we hope to mooch-dock on private property with fellow RVers, Jim and Barb. Treats are in their future. 🥧🍹🍪

Jim and I have followed each other’s blogs for several years and have also communicated via email and Facebook. For now, they remain cyber friends with plans to finally meet in person. I love these internet connections, and we’ve developed some amazing friendships via this lifestyle and social media platform.

pronghorn aka antelope

Our length of stay with Jim and Barb will kind of be up to them, but I promise, it won’t be more than a week. What’s that saying … Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days! However, Jim and Barb are avid angler’s and probably aren’t bothered by the smell of fish and therefore, hopefully, we won’t be kicked off their property at that three-day mark. 🐟

Moving on

summer road trip, trip planning, distance between citiesAfter our Black Hills, South Dakota visit, we’ll meander our way toward Hayward, Wisconsin with the intent of arriving before the long 4th of July weekend. Yeah, we don’t want to get stuck out on the road somewhere without reservations over this busy travel time of year.

See, I still do stress about traveling without reservations especially when heading east. Somehow my free-spirited western mind reverts back to that Chicago gal who plans every detail down to the last minute. Oh, and let’s not get into my German heritage where we vill be on time! Boy, I’ve changed. Let me count the ways, I love thee, RV life 😏

So, the plan is to be comfortably parked on Al’s sister’s property in Wisconsin where we’ll be on and off from early July until sometime in mid to late September.

Again, not wanting to overstay our welcome, Al and I plan to do a little out and back from sister’s property to explore in this part of the Midwest all summer long. It has been many, many years since we were last in this area, and we’re looking forward to revisiting some favorite spots along with exploring new ones.

Preparing the RV for travel

Considering the past twelve months we’ve driven very little, Al and I are in serious road travel preparation mode and that includes making sure the RV and truck are in tip-top shape for our anticipated 5,000-mile (guesstimate) road trip.

RV warranty, Will your RV break down, do RV's breakdown, RV repairs

The truck has already had some major work completed and the RV is being spruced up including a new set of shoes. She’s been outfitted with four new tires and two new spare tires. Unfortunately, Al and I are experienced when it comes to blown tires. Seems to be our thing! Experience has taught us to travel with two spares. 😆 I’m sure glad we can laugh about it!

Our long list of to-dos is slowly dwindling and with the southwest weather starting to heat up with temperatures already nearing the 100-degree Fahrenheit range (37c), we’ll be more than ready to roll come the end of May. If it weren’t for a few lingering appointments, i.e. dental, etc., we’d be on the road today.

Recommendations, suggestions from you?

Okay, now that you know what our tentative plans are for the summer, I’d love your help. I’d appreciate any recommendations for places to camp especially any Indian Casinos in Wisconsin and upper Michigan or other options to camp that might have openings … boondocking, mooch-docking, parking lots, we’re not picky. We just don’t like heavily wooded sites, or shall I say, our RV roof doesn’t like trees. Speaking from experience, RV roof boo-boos are no fun. They can be costly and time-consuming. So, we’ll pass on the trees and leave them for everyone else to enjoy 🌳🌲🍃

Also, I’m in that time gate where I don’t mind making reservations since I have a better handle on our schedule (August, September, and late July – we’ll need parking just for a few days here and there because we plan on returning to stay with family in Hayward, WI).

How about things to see and do in northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? I do know, we’ll want to revisit Mackinac Island and may want to overnight at a B&B on the island. Last time Al and I did that was in the early 1980s. 😳 Am I really that old? I revisited Mackinac Island with my daughter in 2011 and we regretted not overnighting on the island.

Mackinac Island, summer road trip, visit Michigan, island vacation
Me biking on Mackinac Island in 2011

Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls are a couple of places I’d like to visit, but not sure where we’ll find an available campsite.

I’m all ears! Please leave your suggestions in the comments below or feel free to email me anytime at livelaughrv@hotmail.com.  Thanks in advance AND if anyone is interested in meeting up, let’s see if our schedules can match up.

Happy travels everyone! Anyone have an epic trip planned this summer?

South Dakota badlands, summer road trip, RVing in South Dakota
Camped in the Badlands, South Dakota 2015

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Crazy Weather Photo Prompt

Is it me, or has this winter weather been absolutely crazy? Talk about challenging winter weather conditions all across the United States, and for those living south of the equator, I hear you’ve had your own weather challenges. Crazy stuff, huh!

We’ve been comfortably parked in an RV Park on the far north side of the Phoenix valley since early October. I use the term “comfortably” loosely. Although, we are enjoying the RV park, our RV site, and the great neighbors, the weather has been anything but “comfortable”.

thick cloud storms rolling over the desert landscape
storms make for interesting skies in the desert southwest

I love my RV, but living in a tin can RV during cold and rainy weather isn’t much fun. Sure, we’ve had some nice days which were perfect for hiking, but the inclement days seem to be more frequent this winter than previous years. And don’t even get me started with the wind, hail, and flash flooding.

With all that said, compared to other parts of the country, I really shouldn’t complain. The upside to all the extra moisture we’ve received here in the desert southwest over the past few months will be a colorful reward – a kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers.

Last year the desert was dry, brown, and sad. This year, she is green, plump, and happy. So, even though the weather has been colder and wetter than I’d prefer, I know there’s an upside. Can you believe those blooms have already started showing up … and it’s only February? March is going to be amazing!

a dusting of snow on a gloomy day in Phoenix
A gloomy winter day in Phoenix, AZ. Where’s the sun and what’s that white stuff?
yellow wildflowers against a dusting of snow in Phoenix, Arizona
The wildflowers were all closed up due to cold and ice

Last week in Phoenix, it actually snowed. Not the fun pretty kind of snow, but rather, the slushy irritating kind we call graupel. This stuff I didn’t enjoy, but I did enjoy a snow outing last month.

Snow in Arizona

Even this desert dweller occasionally longs for white fluffy snow. Yep, I miss snow every once in a while. So, in January, after a substantial snowfall in Sedona (mere rain in Phoenix), I hopped in my little red truck and took the 90 minute drive up the hill (Interstate 17) for a day of fun in the snow. I love Arizona’s diversity!

winter in Sedona Arizona
Winter in Sedona, AZ

After about three hours of traipsing in the snow along ice-covered trails, I’d had my fill of winter … especially after a near fatal fall on my derriere. It all happened in slow motion. While my feet where sliding hither and yon, my arms were flailing in all directions in an attempt to steady my balance …. all the while, at the forefront of my mind was my trusty Panasonic camera and saving her from a deadly fall. In the end 🤭, my naturally well padded bottom took the brunt of the fall while Panny survived unscathed and ready for more shutter clicking. Disaster averted! We don’t need to talk about the softball size bruise on my …..

cairns surrounded by snow in Sedona, Arizona

So yeah, I’m good with winter weather and won’t need a snow fix until next year. I’m ready for spring. How about you?

Weather – a photo prompt

For this week’s photo challenge, let’s share images of what the weather looks like in your neck of the woods.

snow covered ground against stunning red rock in Sedona Arizona
Sedona, Arizona, after a snowfall

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Wednesday is the day I like to share a photograph(s) centered around a theme. Photo challenges/themes are a great way for us to share our love of photography and engage with other like-minded people. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR, or something in-between, I hope you’ll join in on the challenge. Share and connect!

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Benefits of being Organized

Can you believe Al and I are in our sixth year of living in the RV full-time? I know, I can’t! I assure you, we have learned a lot during those six years of living a minimalist RV lifestyle. We’ve also learned the do’s and don’ts of downsizing and the importance of organization. Ah, to go back and be given a do over … hindsight is twenty-twenty!

Summer planning

With summer just a few short months away, Al and I are in full summer planning mode, and at the forefront of our plans is a stop in southern Colorado to visit our storage units, as in plural. Yes, two storage units … sigh! Remember that do over I’d like? Oh, to go back and whittle down all that crap stuff that we’ve hardly missed over the past years.

In our defense, at that time, Al and I weren’t committed to living in the RV full-time for much more than a year or two. Little did we know how addictive this RVing lifestyle can be. Sure, we’ve thought about buying another sticks and bricks home and have even put contracts in on houses during the past six years, but when negotiations would stall, Al and I were always flooded with a sense of relief.

The reality is, we’re not ready to return to a traditional home … just yet, anyway. We know eventually that day will come. Until then, it’s time for us to think about all that stuff we’ve been foolishly storing for the past six years. It’s time to regroup, tidy up, and organize. Where was Marie Kondo when I needed her?  But then again, would I have listened to her advice? Purging stuff is hard work!

What I’ve learned living in an RV

I’ve learned a lot about living a more minimalist lifestyle, but at the top of that list would be the realization that our living space and the items surrounding us can impact mental saguaro cactus at sunset Phoenix Arizonahealth immensely.

If our RV is cluttered or unorganized, I don’t feel my best. As a matter of fact, I feel unsettled, stressed, and less than energetic. Living in a small space requires organization.

Studies have shown that organization can have a positive impact on one’s mental health, and I can vouch for that.

I’ve also learned that I can live with fewer belongings … fewer purses, fewer shoes, fewer kitchen gadgets, fewer everything.

Do I really need six pairs of athletic shoes and eight pairs of sandals shoved in a small cabinet in the RV? Of Course, I do! Well, maybe! Okay, no I don’t! It’s all about that word need.

I haven’t even talked about clothing yet. Did you know, the average person only wears 50% of the clothes in their closet? I can’t believe Al and I have six wardrobe boxes full of clothing in storage. I’m embarrassed even typing this 🤦‍♀️ I’m sure most of those items are still in fashion (not) …. and fit!

How NOT to downsize!

When Al and I first moved in together (many, many moons ago), we lived in a small one bedroom condominium in the Chicago suburbs. Between the two of us, we barely had enough stuff to furnish that 700 square foot condo. My how times change.Thirty years, a couple of cross-country moves, and several houses later, we found ourselves downsizing from a fully furnished, every closet full, 4,600 square foot home.

It was overwhelming to say the least. Fortunately, we had a few months to sort, declutter, purge, and organize, but still, we did not get rid of nearly enough stuff. I think subconsciously, all that stuff represented a sense of success to me.

leaves floating in water

From 4,600 sq. ft., we moved into an 1,100 square foot rental. That’s when the first storage unit was rented. While living in the short-term rental, we built an 1,800 square foot home with another 1,800 square feet of unfinished basement. Can you say, “lots of storage space in that basement?” Yeah, most of that stuff in the storage unit, was once again moved and distributed throughout the new house, garage, and basement … only to be moved again two years later. Seriously, what were we thinking!

It was also during this time of multiple moves that we bought our 5th Wheel. She was purchased with the intent to travel in part-time, and was never intended for us to live in full-time. We went full-time RVing on a whim! And we did that downsize within thirty days.

Thirty (30) days to whittle down all our belongings and move into less than 300 square feet of a moving RV. Whatever were we thinking? (did I already say that 😆) Thus, two stuffed 10×10 storage units were rented. Our goal this year is to purge down to one unit. A lofty goal indeed.

junk in the trunk
This is not my stuff (thank goodness). My daughter and I went to a “Junk in the Trunk” event and fortunately walked out empty handed. And yeah, it was mostly junk!

Why organization is key

  • Once you declutter and organize your things, you’ll be more efficient in your day-to-day activities. You might even notice, you actually know where things are placed. Now where’d I put those car keys?
  • Organize your stuff, and your life will be more organized.
  • When it’s time to clean, it isn’t as difficult to tidy up because things are already organized and in their proper place.
  • Purging and decluttering is freeing. It’s like a weight or responsibility is lifted from your shoulders. Less stuff, more freedom!
  • When you work in a tidy and organized space, chances are, you’ll be more productive. Organization helps you think more clearly.
  • There’s a sense of satisfaction when you step back and look at your organized, clean, tidy and decluttered living space.
  • Having an organized home can lead to an organized mind which leads to improved mental health.
  • Keeping your home organized, tidy, and decluttered, will make any future move much easier. Trust me on this one! Can I have a do over, please?

Minimize, simplify, organize

Regardless of the size of home you live in, keeping your space organized and tidy will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life and those surrounding you. And when the time comes for you to move to a new home, the battle is half done. You’ll be ready!

Learn the benefits of organization, why keeping a tidy home is important

 

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Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
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Holiday Decorating Tips for RV’s & Small Homes

Whether you live in an RV, a small apartment, or have nook-like spaces in your home, it’s always fun and festive to add holiday decor to your surroundings regardless of the size of your living space.

Choosing a style, picking a theme and complimenting it with different textures and colors, brings the feeling of home to any space, big or small, mobile or stationary. Here are three things I keep in mind when decorating my RV …
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Big ball holiday decor
My, those are big balls! Yeah, too much for small space living … wouldn’t you agree?

Less Is More

Thinking like a minimalist when decorating for the holidays can be a challenge because there are so many amazing decorations to choose from, but it’s important to remind ourselves that small spaces require self-control. By keeping the scale of the decorations small and maximizing the corners in our home, we won’t encroach on the livability of our space. Remember, we still need a fully functional home with room left for entertaining family and friends.

Instead of a full size Christmas tree, consider a much smaller tabletop tree. I love wreaths, and by hanging a wreath either on a wall, door, cupboard, or even over a window adds a touch of festive decor without taking up any space. Consider hanging garland and lights or even just the lights alone along the tops of your cabinets. By hanging decor, we won’t encroach on any living space. Taking up living space will make the home feel small, cluttered, and less inviting.

Focus On The Details

I try to be intentional with every detail. When I add decor to my RV, I want everything coordinating well together without over-cluttering the space. I’m a huge fan of scented candles and love it when friends pop over and exclaim, “It smells wonderful in here”.

It’s easy to over decorate, but implementing small touches like scented candles, holiday dish towels, a table-cloth or runner, special holiday pillows, or even a simple basket of pine cones to my everyday decor adds that festive holiday feel that I strive for. Incorporating just a few simple yet distinct things, creates an aesthetic look to holiday decorations.

Make It Personal

Above all else, personalize your decor. You can complement your style by creating unique table settings. Since I live in an RV, we entertain guests outdoors most of the time. I use holiday paper plates, napkins, and candles to decorate our outdoor table for entertaining. The use of a table runner and garland placed down the middle of the table adds additional holiday decor and is easily stored. Yeah, storage is an important consideration because once the holidays are over, we need to have a place to pack the decorations away until the next year’s holiday season.

Decorating a lot or a little for the holidays is a personal choice. I’m more of a minimalist and opt for a poinsettia or two in lieu of a Christmas tree and run some rope lighting around the exterior of our RV, and I always manage to go overboard with the scented candles and soaps.

We all have our own style and eye for decor which should be reflected in our homes. Do you have any tips or holiday decorating ideas for those of us living in small spaces?

To enlarge photos in the gallery, click on any image!

 

30 Gift Ideas under $50

Yesterday morning, I was sitting in my chair with my computer on my lap perusing Pinterest for recipe ideas when I happen to glance at the calendar hanging on the wall next to me …. the high-pitched screech that escaped my mouth had Al jumping up the steps into the RV from outside to see what the heck happened. “Do you realize Christmas is less than six weeks away?” I exclaimed. In an annoyed tone, Al responded “Yeah, what about it?”

Sure, he can be all calm about the matter. He’s not the one doing the shopping. I don’t know why the date didn’t register with me sooner. After all, the time and date are clearly visible at the bottom right side of my computer. I guess, there’s something about staring at an old-fashioned wall calendar that made the date resonate with me.

San Xavier Mission Tucson Arizona

For most of my adult life, I’ve always been one of those people who shops for Christmas early, and it wasn’t unusual for me to have my shopping complete by Thanksgiving. Yeah, how annoying! But that all changed when we moved into the RV and space became an issue. Therefore, shopping for gifts, whether it be for Christmas, a birthday, or other occasion, would need to wait until the gift giving time was near.

Fortunately, our small family has decided to keep Christmas gift giving simple this year and stay within a budget friendly range. As I was jotting down ideas and switching from my recipe search to gift idea search on the internet, I thought I’d share some of the products I was considering for my family members. Maybe you’ll find this list helpful with your own search for the perfect gift. Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

Gift ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether I’m RVing in our 5th wheel with my husband or embarking on one of my crazy camping adventures with my daughter, there’s some equipment that I feel are an absolute must have and a headlamp / head torch is at the top of that list. Tripping over a tree root in the dark is no fun … at least that’s what I hear 😉 and of course, a supply of flashlights are equally important. Flashlights and headlamps make great stocking stuffers or box fillers.

Another important piece of gear is an Emergency Self Powered AM/FM Solar Weather Radio. This is actually a great gift idea for anyone. You never know when a life threatening storm will head your way and you’ll want to be kept up to date. You can’t always count on a cell phone or WiFi signal working during severe weather conditions.

Another great gift idea for anyone is a Multi-tool. My husband uses his regularly, and we gave the kids each one last year for Christmas. My daughter used hers during our Zion camping trip.

On a more fun note, I’d be lost without my comfortable outdoor camping chair and blanket throw … gotta be comfy watching those sunsets during happy hour. We use and abuse our canvas chairs and end up replacing them every couple of years or so. Got a sports fan who loves tailgating? These chairs are perfect!

And let’s not forget about quenching our thirst. I’m considering one of these coolers for my daughter. Hmm, I can’t decide …
Soft-Sided Collapsible Cooler Tote Bag or the Picnic Backpack with Cooler Compartment?

Gift ideas for those that Travel by Air

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

***   Noise Cancelling Headphones
***   Floating Waterproof Phone Case   
***   Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag Purse 
***   Neck Pillow Airplane Travel Kit with Sleep Mask and Earplugs
***   Jewelry Travel Case & Accessory Holder Organizer
***   Cable bag – keep cables and chargers organized
***   Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag
***   Luggage Tags

And More Gift Ideas Under $50

It has been fun researching gift ideas, and although the following items may not be serious contenders for my family this year, I thought I’d list these items for possible gift ideas for next year. My memory doesn’t work like it used to. So, I’ll actually use my own post as a brain jogger.

Perhaps one of these items will be perfect for the people on your list.

***   Solar Charger – Backup Battery Phone Charger with Carabiner and Compass
***   Emergency Paracord Bracelets
***   Car Trunk Organizer – Adjustable Compartments
***   Sling Backpack with Multiple Compartments and Headphone Cord Access

***   Leather Journal for travelers, business sketching and writing
***   Camera Shoulder Neck Strap, Fabric Satin Scarf Strap 
***   Portable Speaker
***   Outdoor Emergency survival Tool Kit
***   Camping Hammock
***   Stainless Steel Tumblers – Customized With Cute Sayings

Books make great gifts!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a few books on my gift giving list idea. I love books … real books. Sure a Kindle comes in handy when storage is an issue, but there’s something about holding a real book in my hands that can’t be replaced by an electronic device, especially cookbooks. My weakness!

I recently purchased The Sprinkles Baking Book . It’ll be a joint gift for my daughter and myself. Yes, I’m one of those who buys gifts for herself, wraps them, and then thanks hubby Christmas morning for getting me exactly what I wanted. “Awe, thank you honey. However did you know?” lol

Books on cooking or travel can serve as inspiration and make for a wonderful gift. Plus, they’re budget friendly and easy to wrap.  I’ve never figured out how to wrap a book on Kindle 🤔🤣😉

When you don’t know what to get them!

When all else fails and you’re at a total loss about what kind of gift to buy, a Gourmet Food Gift Basket filled with tasty treats will usually work for just about anyone. I know it works for me!

So, there ya have it, 30 gifts under $50. I think I’m ready to tackle my holiday shopping list and I’m a lot less stressed about it now than I was yesterday. How about you? Have you started shopping for the holidays yet?

30 gift ideas under fifty dollars

Thank you for your service!

It’s Veteran’s Day … a day we honor the men and women who have served our country. I’m married to a Veteran and have a small understanding of the sacrifices military personnel make to serve our country.

Veterans Memorial in Anthem Arizona
Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona

My dad served in WWII. He was wounded and the only survivor in his squad. Al served during the Vietnam era.

Unfortunately, times were very different in the 1970’s when my husband served. Military service members returning from a tour in Vietnam were not treated well. Instead of thanking them for their service, they were scorned, spit on, cussed at, and even had eggs thrown at them. It was not America’s finest hour, to say the least.

Thank goodness we’ve moved beyond those times, and we now thank those that have served in the military, current and past.

All give some, some give all. Thank you for your service!

In honor to those that have served, I share with you a very unique and interesting Veterans Memorial located in the town of Anthem, Arizona.

Veterans Memorial in Anthem, Arizona

To enlarge photos, click on any image.

(affiliate links)
 

American Pride Flag Baseball Cap

Seasonal Garden Flag Set

 US Canada Friendship Flags

Marketing and Politics

Do you know when you’re being sold? I’m sure images of a used car salesman come to mind as I ask this question. The moment we set foot on a car lot, we expect to be sold. But we are being marketed to and sold everyday in a way much more subtle than the typical sales scenario. Think about it … we can barely open our computers or phones without being inundated with ads. Gosh, even my simple little blog here has ads.game of life via chess

How about that cruise ship brochure depicting images of a Caribbean island with its immaculate white sand beaches? The marketing brochures never share the poverty-stricken areas that the shore excursion bus needs to drive through to get to that beach. And once we get to said beautiful beach, what we envisioned as somewhat secluded, we find ourselves sharing with hoards of other cruise ship tourists. So much for pristine!

Steamboat Lake Colorado

When most of us first start RVing, we have illusions of being camped along some beautiful lake or river in a quiet setting surrounded by nature. After all, isn’t that what we see in all the RV brochures? The brochures never share images of the typical RV park, many of which pack RV’s into sites so tight that you can reach out your window and touch your neighbor. Al and I do our best to stay clear of those sardine kind of RV parks, but sometimes it’s the only option when we have our heart set on visiting some cool city or event.

I know we all believe the ad about buying that macho 4×4 pick-up truck that can drive straight up the side of a mountain, or maybe you should buy that shiny little sports car so gorgeous models will hang all over you.

Those diet pills will guarantee a six-pack stomach in just 30 days without exercising. Add in that wrinkle cream, and you too will look 20 years younger (I want some of that).

These idyllic pictures are marketing fantasy created to sell

Politicians paint those same marketing fantasies in their ads, and I for one can’t wait for Wednesday when the inundation of political ads will come to an end …. temporarily. The pandering for votes seems endless and the promises made aren’t attainable.

Unwritten rules

In the RVing world, there’s an unspoken rule to avoid talking about religion or politics, especially at large social gatherings or when meeting new RVers for the first time. Obviously, these are two subjects which incite strong emotion and opinion. Al and I aren’t good at following unwritten rules and have never shied away from a thought-provoking conversation especially one’s that are enlightening and educational. It’s okay to agree to disagree without slinging expletives or fists.

I remember one in particular social gathering when a few RVers were gathered around a toasty campfire.

No subject was off-limits with this group, or so we thought!

My husband appeared to be having an engaging conversation with the gentleman sitting next to him when all of a sudden, the man covered his ears with both hands and mouthed, “Lalalah, I can’t hear you”. Yep, this grown man was acting like a child.

Once he removed his hands from his ears, he angrily commented “My minister warned me about people like you who would try to make me question my beliefs”. A shocked and apologetic Al responded by saying, “I’m sorry. That was never my intent. I thought we were having an educational conversation about theology”. You see, Al has lived all over the world and spent time in the Middle East and Asia. Therefore, he has been exposed to nearly all faiths and has been educated in religious theology, a subject he finds fascinating. Most historians understand the correlation between religion and war, and since Al is most definitely a history buff, he enjoys talking about the subject.

Was that man insecure about his faith? Did he lack the intellect or desire to understand other faiths? Was he so ingrained in what he had been taught, that he felt his faith was right and others wrong? Or was he merely uncomfortable talking about religion?

Political conversations

I see similar situations in today’s political climate. People’s emotions are running rampant and opinions strong. Logical and intellectual conversation is difficult. The rhetoric and mud-slinging has stooped to new levels on both sides of the fence.

I wonder, do we recognize when our emotions are being manipulated?

Can we tell when we are being sold and marketed to in an effort to inflame emotions? Is one politician better at marketing rhetoric than another? Do we only read articles that reinforce what we already believe, or are we open-minded? Are we able to see and understand both sides of a coin? When we see an advertisement, an article, a newscast, do we take it as truth or do research? After all, we all know the internet never lies and everything on Facebook is real 🙄

Are we all pawns in the political arena as we watch the constant game of power struggle, vendettas, and payback? (Term limits?) And does the media play a role in the game and stir the pot resulting in more emotional outrage?

I recently started watching a PBS series called Jamestown. It takes place in 1619, and follows the first English settlers as they establish a community in the New World. I can’t help but see a similarity in the scenarios that took place then that are taking place now.

One would think that after 400 years, American’s would’ve learned from past mistakes. Instead, I see the same things happening today that happened in the 1600’s. Power always corrupts and accusations, whether real or false, are used against people.

Someone accuses someone of being a witch, so it must be true. Guilty! Burn her at the stake. Same thing is happening today. People are being used as pawns and are being deemed guilty until proven innocent causing the loss of jobs and reputations. What about due process … fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement?

I wouldn’t want to be comedian these days and actually feel badly for them. They can’t say half the sh*t that was said in the 70’s and 80’s. I wonder if George Carlin could survive in today’s sensitive climate.

What a great entertainer. Here’s some fun quotes he made –  “Find the line, and cross it“. “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”

Just a little more and I think I snagged him!

I don’t have the answers

But I do understand marketing and these politicians hire some of the best marketers around. I also feel progress can’t be made until emotions are shelved and logic rules. Emotions are what incites violence. Smart people know this and know exactly how to stir up conflict. It’s important we not be sold, not believe everything we hear or read, and to embrace tolerance. Try and find humor in our current cast of characters and find solace in knowing everything is temporary. This too shall pass!

Diane Feinstein needs to retire
Some politicians won’t be around forever!

Don’t be sold

Did you vote? Is it Wednesday yet? Are those dang political ads over? Did that wrinkle cream make me look 20 years younger? 🤣🤣🤣

“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.” – Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the U.S.

Nameste!

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President

Thanks for listening to my little rant. I’ve never posted about politics before and I doubt I will in the future. Remember, I’m not picking sides. So, if you decide to comment, please be nice!

(affiliate links)
The New Rules of Marketing and PRYogi Tea, Honey Lavender Stress Relief

Inspirational Coffee Mug Christmas Gifts Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

A Wedding to Remember

Okay, I’ll admit, I struggled with the title of this post. After all, aren’t all weddings memorable? However, this wedding for me was one for the books, one I’ll remember and cherish, one that brings a smile to my face … my eldest child, favorite son, only son got married.

Weddings in Arizona

There’s something about your child getting married that brings about an awareness, a knowledge that your child is entering into a new chapter in their life. As parents, we all know these mile-stones in life are forthcoming, and there’s nothing we can do to slow things down … kindergarten, high school, a driver’s license, college. We can only hope and pray that we prepared our child to handle these life changing moments.

They grow up so fast!

I’ve never considered myself a conventional mother. When the children were little, we were active in various play groups. When we moved to Colorado Springs, we even joined a bible study group, but eventually, I was ostracized from that group 🤦‍♀️ – ah, but that’s a tale for another time.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Minnesota
Al and a four-year old, Logan, head out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in MN for an overnight.

While most mother’s were censoring their children’s videos, books, and treats, I was open to exposing my children to whatever they were curious about and discussing the pros, cons, and issues. I was once met with perplexed stares at a play group when I commented, “It’s not my job to protect my children from society; it’s my job to prepare them for it”.

With that said, I can honesty say on my son’s wedding day, he was ready and excited to walk down that isle. I felt I had done my job, and prepared him the best I could for this next phase in his life.

During the weeks months leading up to the wedding, I had enjoyed numerous mother/son luncheons and embraced the opportunity to discuss various topics with my son.  As a mother, I felt I needed to ask the important questions and pose a number of scenarios for him to think about.

Some conversations, he clearly didn’t appreciate, but he always understood where I was coming from. Obviously with over thirty years of experience coping with my mothering style, he had plenty of practice dealing with me. Poor kid! Therefore, none of this came as a shock to him, nor were these conversations based specifically on his bride.

The Big Day!

It was a warm sunny day in August, and the Van Dickson Ranch in Skull Valley, Arizona, served as a beautiful place for a wedding. Al and I arrived at the wedding venue a few hours before the ceremony (per request).

Wedding venue Van Dickson Ranch, Skull Valley Arizona
Van Dickson Ranch, Skull Valley, Arizona

We quickly found Logan and his groomsmen. After a big hug from Logan, his attention turned toward me to see how I was feeling and if I needed something to drink (meaning water). WTF? When did he grow up and turn into such a thoughtful young man? He was so relaxed, caring, and confident, and he didn’t stop smiling. I was overcome with pride and joy.

He was happy … I was happy … and we were ready to officially welcome Jessica into our family. The ceremony was perfect, personal, and performed by a good friend. We all witnessed some tender moments and some jovial moments.

exchanging of wedding vows
Exchanging of vows!

And I pronounce you husband and wife 🥂

Just as the ceremony was coming to an end, dark ominous clouds started rolling in accompanied by the sound of low rumbling thunder. While the wedding guests made their way to the pavilion, the wedding party managed to get in professional photographs before the first drops of rain fell.

van dickson ranch skull valley arizona wedding venue
heading toward the pavilion for the reception before the storm rolls in

And then it was time to celebrate ….

While we did get hit with a summer storm accompanied by rain, winds, thunder, and lightening, everyone was safely under cover and enjoying the delicious food, desserts, and open bar. The storm didn’t last long and the sky even graced us with a rainbow.

Our daughter, Ashton, was a bridesmaid

With the exception of a few gusts of wind knocking over some things, it was a beautiful wedding overall, and I’m so happy for the newlyweds.

And now that Jess is officially part of our family, I have every intention of treating her like a daughter 😲 Do you think Logan warned her about me and my parenting? Too late, Jess! You’re part of the family now. Perhaps, you can consult your sister-in-law, Ashton, for advice on managing your new mother-in-law 🤣

Out of town guests …

One of the best things about a wedding is the bringing together of family and friends from around the country.

We were thrilled to have members from our own wedding party, from 35 years ago, attend this wedding, along with other family members. We loved seeing everyone and having the opportunity to reconnect and catch up. This was long overdue!

My wedding – We too had an outdoor wedding. It was great seeing everyone again for Logan’s wedding (sadly with the exception of one bridesmaid who passed away)

I absolutely loved hanging out with everyone, but the highlight of my evening was dancing with my son. I seriously can’t recall ever dancing with him before, so this was a first. Can you believe, I didn’t shed a tear the entire day? Nope, not even when we danced, but I guess, we made a couple of other folks teary eyed.

Me dancing with my son

I’d like to send a huge shout out to my brother for recommending the song “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was the perfect song for our Mother – Son dance.

So there you have it – my wedding to remember. I wish I had more photographs to share with you all, but I’m afraid there was a camera intervention on my children’s part. My sister provided the first photo and the mother/son photos and the other’s were quickly taken by me when my kids weren’t looking … not an easy task!

My sincere congratulations go out to Logan and Jess. I wish them many years of joy and happiness together 💞 and if you need any advice ……   😉

(affiliate links)

 Throw Pillow
The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer
Bride and Groom Wedding glass set
Womens Love Heart Design T-shirt 

Citrus Rum Chicken & my Health

I find travel to be exhilarating and energizing but at the same time exhausting. Kind of seems illogical, huh! I also think it’s somewhat difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the go. Not that it can’t be done … it just takes a little more forethought and planning.

sitting on the dock of the bay
Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching my diet slip away …. 🤣

Socializing and traveling …

When I add in a bunch of socializing along with our travels, I find myself getting easily derailed when it comes to my dietary restrictions and healthy eating plan. It’s easy for me to stick to my health plan when we’re hanging with friends that also focus on eating healthy and exercising, but unfortunately, some of our friends do not share those same goals, in which case, I get distracted.

I don’t have what I’d call food allergies, but I do suffer from food sensitivities. In essence, I can eat anything I want without the effects necessitating an EpiPen, but I do struggle with other less obvious aliments caused by eating foods I shouldn’t …. issues that can severely impact my energy, physical well being and ability to travel.

We spent the first three months of the year hanging with dear friends in Lake Havasu City, and as much as we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends and loved exploring western Arizona, we didn’t fair so well with our goal of healthy eating.

Unfortunately, Al and I both gained some weight during that visit which is always frustrating, and I started feeling less than ideal. Hmm, aren’t January and February the months when everyone starts a new diet and exercise regimen? I think we missed that memo!

Not everyone understands food sensitivities …. gosh, I’m not even sure I do. However, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to realize, it’s a lot like the straw that broke the camels back .… a cumulative effect of small actions which turns into an unpredictable large reaction.

great egret
No need to get your feathers ruffled

Not wanting to be a party pooper or ruffle anyone’s feathers, I try not to make a big deal about my food issues during social gatherings. After all, it’s not like I’m going to have a life threatening anaphylactic reaction to eating something I shouldn’t.

But after three months of socializing along with all the food indulgences, there was a final straw … the straw that broke this camel’s back. Sometime toward the middle of March, I started feeling like crap. My energy plummeted, I felt physically ill, and my mind was in a constant fog. I had trouble functioning, and I was not having fun!

Fast Forward …

Today, after focusing on diet and exercise the past few months, I’m fortunately feeling better than I have in quite sometime, and Al and I have even lost the weight we gained earlier in the year …. well …. Al more so than me.

One of the reasons (one of several) why we decided to curtail our travels this summer was so we could focus on our health. We wanted to look and feel our best for our son’s wedding this August, and the last thing I wanted was to experience his special day with my head in a fog.

picnic

Even while traveling, we try to stayed focused on our health by having healthy homemade meals and snacks prepared ahead of time, but it isn’t always easy. Sure, when we’re out exploring and hiking we get in plenty of exercise, but it’s also easy to fall into the category of I don’t feeling like cooking, or that restaurant we just passed looks interesting so let’s check it out, or let’s just grab some fast food (something we do our very best to avoid … but occasionally fail). I wish I was more “into” cooking. Perhaps I wouldn’t get distracted so easily and succumb to all those temptations!

During our stay in Page this past April, I got back in the kitchen and started focusing on meal planning. Since we were out and about regularly hiking and exploring in northern Arizona, we didn’t need to think about an exercise plan, at least not until we moved to Prescott.

Once Al and I were settled into a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona, for the summer, we formulated a regular exercise routine complete with the addition of a little yoga. I found this great beginners Yoga DVD that I started doing regularly and all was going great until ….

ducking doing warrior pose yoga
Warrior Pose – my version looked a little different from Mrs. Duck’s version

… until I pulled something in my neck while doing Warrior Pose. Seriously? Oh, but my luck didn’t end there. Oh no! The following week, I twisted my ankle while hiking which has left me unable to perform Tree Pose on my left leg 🤦‍♀️

Egyptian Goose at sunset
tree pose at sunset

Oh well, this too shall pass! After icing the neck and taping up the ankle, I’ve been hobbling over to the local library and returning to the RV with a stack of books on cooking and health … anything to help inspire my active brain while my inactive body recuperates.

With my exercise plan derailed, guess I’ll be wearing Spanx to the wedding. See, there are always options when things don’t go according to plan. RV living has a way of teaching one to be flexible and to expect the unexpected. Actually, flexibility is a prerequisite for RVing. Trust me, it’s in the rule book somewhere!

Back in the kitchen …

Okay, so the exercising hasn’t gone according to plan for me (Al’s doing great 🤬 and getting in all his steps every day), but while he’s out exercising, I’m excelling in the kitchen and feeling so much better for my efforts.

picnic
No, we didn’t eat all that! The muffins were for friends, but I thought they’d look pretty in the photo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Food sensitivities are real!

So back to my food issues … When a person has a severe food allergy or a medical condition like Celiac disease, Western Medicine seems to know exactly what to do, but food sensitivities are not so clear or easily diagnosed.

For many, the journey can be a roller coaster ride, as it has been for me. Ultrasounds and CT Scans were inconclusive and provided no answers for my pain. Several years ago, a visit to a Functional Practitioner was helpful and enlightening. There has been a lot of trial and error along with note taking on my part and the journey continues.

look in the mirror a journey of self-discovery
Looking in the mirror and being honest with myself is the best thing I’ve done for my health.

What might work for me, may not work for another person. One thing I know for sure …. I can’t ignore the fact that I can’t eat what others can. Yes, such a bummer and very frustrating, and when I do ignore that fact, it’s the beginning of a downward spiral for me. Food sensitivities are real regardless if other’s disagree.

Let’s talk food …

So let’s talk about what I can eat …. Yay, I won’t starve! Chicken, my favorite protein and my stomach is never bothered by chicken. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or sauteed … dark meat vs. light meat, doesn’t matter, I like it all.

One of my favorite things to do is marinade and grill a bunch of chicken one day and then use leftovers for the following day – cook once, eat twice, or sometimes even three times. I quite often plan this before a travel day which deters any urge for going out to eat. Not only does this help keep my diet in check, it helps keep us on budget.

Here’s my favorite chicken marinade recipe. The amount listed here is about right for 4 chicken thighs or 2 boneless chicken breasts. If you’d like to make more chicken, just double the recipe. You’ll want to marinade the chicken for at least 2 hours and more is even better. I prefer to then grill the chicken, but baking also works.

Citrus Rum Chicken Marinade recipe

In a large ziplock bag combine:
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of rum (I like to use Captain Morgan spiced rum)
1 Tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

Once all the ingredients are well combined, add the chicken to the ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator to marinade, turning occasionally.

Food photograph of chicken with a side salad
Citrus Rum Chicken

Let me know if you give this chicken recipe a try and what you think about it! I like to grill up a double batch of chicken and use the leftovers the next day to make chicken and lettuce wraps with a drizzle of homemade honey mustard dressing. Yum! The wraps can be seen in the picnic photos further up in the post. Having healthy meals prepared ahead of time for our travel days makes the world of difference. We maintain a higher level of energy and clarity throughout the day. No junk food for this gal!

One thing that has become very clear to me these past few months is staying healthy, active and mobile is the key to an enjoyable life … the key to enjoying our adventurous lifestyle of full-time RVing. Happy noshing!

 

(affiliate links)
Gentle Yoga: 7 Beginning Yoga Practices
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity