I’m not a huge fan of Halloween in general and never have been. The whole scary costume thing and gory decorations isn’t something I embrace. Scary movies? Not me!
My tastes fall along the lines of cute and funny. I enjoy seeing little kids dressed up as princesses or cartoon characters. Keeping things light and funny is much more to my liking. Throw in some fall colors, the smell of apple cider and cinnamon, pumpkin carvings and there ya have it … I’m all in … fall fun!
In my last post, I already shared photos from my visit to an engaging pumpkin exhibit, but since it’s Halloween, I felt compelled to share even more images from the pumpkin event.
Visiting the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden in Carefree, Arizona, was my kind of autumn entertainment. These pumpkin displays are a delight for people of all ages, but especially for those of us on the mature side. To compliment the amusing display is an equally humorous newspaper.
Check out the Stem Enhancement Clinic …
Check out the big stems on the pumpkins on the left exiting the clinic – those are some huge stems 🤣
Stem enhancement clinic?
(To enlarge photos in a gallery, click on any photo. To return to the post, click on the x at the top. To read the newspaper articles, you may have to zoom in via your internet settings. Sorry, I tried my best scanning the newspaper.)
The jail exhibit was comedic. While the sheriff bends over to pick up money on the ground, a mouse on a stick is lowered down to grab the jail keys from the sheriffs hip. Someone is trying to escape from jail with the help of his buddies!
I had the opportunity to visit the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden on three different occasions, and during each visit, I noticed more pumpkins carved and a few changes here and there in the scenes. Talk about creative, imaginative, and talented!
Carrots used as darts. Now that’s a mouth full.
Someone had a little too much to drink.
Dr. Sanibal Pepper aka The Pumpkin Gutter
Hannibal Lecter? No it’s “the Pumpkin Gutter” waiting for his turn to be hanged.
I really appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting on such an entertaining exhibit. The show ran from October 19-28 and every evening the pumpkins are collected by the local fire department and floated in the fountain pool … 1. to keep the carved pumpkins hydrated and 2. to keep them out of reach of javelinas.
Near the end of the exhibit, rumor has it, the night guard fell asleep in his truck and javelinas started noshing on the 693 pound pumpkin that the sculptors had yet to complete carving.
Every morning, the pumpkins are returned to their display/scene. The sculpted ones are sprayed with water periodically throughout the day to help keep them from dehydrating, but many do not last for the entire show. Thus, new pumpkins are carved regularly. Yep, it takes a lot of talented people to provide us with this free entertainment.
And a few more photos just for fun …
dealing with the septic truck – no wonder his nose is plugged
jumping from a burning barn!
Rock climbing pumpkins
Dog walking with poop bag!
Another drunk pumpkin gets sick!
The sculptors who carve the pumpkins are quite talented.
Each display tells a story. A septic truck pumping up pumpkin seed waste.
Happy Halloween everyone …. hope you enjoy YOUR kind of day!
One of the advantages that I really enjoy about an extended stay in any given area is the ability to explore and discover hidden gems without a rushed schedule. Since both of our children now live in Phoenix, Arizona, Al and I find ourselves spending more and more time in this diverse city. Not only is Phoenix RV friendly, the weather is wonderful most of the time …. well, at least from October into April which makes Phoenix a great vacation destination for those wanting to escape the cold winter months.
Keeping busy …
We pulled into our RV Resort in northern Phoenix in early October and haven’t slowed down since. There has been a fair amount of socializing with our children, especially between my daughter and myself … love my mother/daughter time, but Al has also managed to sneak in some father/daughter time … much to his delight.
October is always a special time around our home considering it’s our daughters birth month. Since her actual birthday fell on a weekday, she took the day off from work and enjoyed the morning skeet shooting with her dad followed by the three of us going to dim sum for lunch. I don’t share Al and Ashton’s taste for dim sum, but I sure enjoyed the tasty tea that the Great Wall Restaurant served.
And speaking of tea …
Due to our RVing travels over the past five years, Al and I haven’t always been in the same location as our daughter during the month of October. So, this year, I wanted to do something special for her birthday and throw her a little party.
After a little collaboration, we decided on a tea party at the English Rose Tea Room located in the northeast part of the Phoenix valley. Ashton and I love this place and it’s the perfect spot for a gals get together.
(to enlarge photos in the photo galleries, simply click on any photo. Click the x in the top corner to return to the post)
A tea party for the birthday girl!
Ashton Elizabeth next to Queen Elizabeth!
The English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, Arizona – perfect place for a tea party!
Our group of ladies make some tea purchases.
Hmm, which tea should we get?
After our little group of ladies leisurely enjoyed tea and crumpets, our party moved across the street to the Carefree Desert Garden. We found a covered pavilion for our group to sing happy birthday to Ashton and enjoy some homemade cake.
A drunk Barbie cake topper had everyone laughing.
The birthday girl steals Barbie’s bottle of whipped cream vodka!!!
Our fun continued as we began strolling around the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden. This is the most unique and entertaining pumpkin display I’ve ever seen. Each year, the town of Carefree, Arizona, hosts this pumpkin event and it never ceases to amaze me. The carvings are intricate and the subject matter comedic.
Enchanted Pumpkin Garden in Carefree, Arizona
Each display is entertaining and filled with detail.
A game of darts!
Each display tells a story. A septic truck pumping up pumpkin seed waste.
The barn is on fire!!!
Looks like a boxing match!
Ashton and Kylee pose with their new friend!
Time for a siesta!
Trying to build a trail cairn?
This year, I managed to visit the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden on three separate occasions. I noticed slight changes and more details during each visit. If you ever find yourself visiting Phoenix, Arizona, during the last two weeks in October, you’ll definitely want to put this place on your must see list. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
A geological marvel … one of America’s most beautiful places … multi-hued red rock formations jutting upwards from the high desert floor creating a mesmerizing setting … ah,yes … I’m talking about stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock Country is unique and exudes a sense of spirituality along with a mood that changes hourly with the light. It’s no wonder this majestic place attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors to Sedona have easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation, but Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.
With such an abundance of public land access, the availability of experiencing this amazing landscape is endless. There are trails for hiking and biking, along with plenty of 4×4 gravel/dirt roads perfect for scenic Jeep tours or ATV excursions. Meandering in the back country among red rock pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes is an absolute must for any visitor, and yet, you’re never far from the conveniences of town.
A birthday weekend …
It was the third weekend in September, and although a few weeks past my actual birth date, it was a great time of year to visit Sedona and celebrate my birthday together with family. This trip was actually all planned by my children as part of a gift … awe!
Since our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all had to work that Friday in Phoenix, we didn’t check into our double-suite condo like lodging until 7:00 p.m., but that still left us a few hours for some socializing over cocktails and snacks before it was time to head off to bed. Sedona is less than a two hours drive and about 116 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. We stayed at a lovely resort called Sedona Summit.
Saturday morning, my daughter and I were out the door by 8:00 a.m. with cameras in hand. As many times as we’ve visited Sedona, there’s always something new on our list that we look forward to exploring.
First stop, spiritual enlightenment
Located near the base of Thunder Mountain is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal. Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park offers its visitors spiritual transformation and healing through the fascinating architecture and geometry of the stupa. Stupas are one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture and Buddhist practitioners have built them to promote spiritual deepening, healing, prosperity, and peace.
Filled with hundreds of prayers for peace, sacred relics and ritual offerings, the Amitabha Stupa is a vortex of enlightened presence and blessings.
Ashton and I were fascinated with this Buddist park, but then again, anything associated with Nepal or the Himalayas seems to captivate our attention and that includes all the Prayer Flags. During her college days, Ashton and her roommate had prayer flags hung around their tiny dorm room. The prayer flags belonged to her roommate and were actually bought in Nepal during a family trip.
My daughter and I share a secret interest in someday traveling to Nepal – a land far away. In reality, I think this Sedona peace park or the time we went to Disney World and experienced Expedition Everest is the closest we’ll ever get to Kathmandu, and in reality, I’m okay with that … but shhh, don’t tell my daughter 😉
(To enlarge photos, click on any image in the photo gallery)
Discovering ancient history
Next on our agenda was heading into the back country in search of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. We originally wanted to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, but hikes are done via a tour, and since Ashton and I were already running a little late, we opted to visit the less popular Honanki ruins where you’re able to stroll without a guide.
After the split in the road (one way to Palatki and another way to Honanki), the road to the Honanki Ruins gets a bit rough in spots, and I was glad to be driving a vehicle that handles these rough roads perfectly. We did see the occasional car, but we mostly saw Jeep Tours or ATV’s. Here’s a quote from the National Park website about the road condition: “Those with high-clearance vehicles and/or a sense of adventure can turn ….. the compensation for abusing your motor vehicle are wonderful views of the red rock formations that Sedona is so famous for“. Alrighty then!
A final note on the road conditions. Older publications will tell you the route to the Palatki Site from Dry Creek Road is rough. Road conditions have improved substantially within the past year. The Enchantment Resort has brought new development to this end of Sedona and the road is now paved beyond Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain Trailheads. Once the pavement ends, the gravel road is still easily accessed by most vehicles all the way to the Palatki Heritage Site. However, you might want to check with the National Park Service for the latest up to date road conditions.
easy stroll to the cliff dwellings
Rock art at Honanki Cultural Site
Yeti … the abominable snowman? Another connection to Nepal?
Honanki cliff dwellings
Once at the Honanki site, we enjoyed a short hike to the cliff dwellings and slowly toured the area taking in the ruins and interesting rock art. Could the ancient cliff dwellers be telling us that Yeti, the abominable snowman, did exist? Another connection to Nepal?
The Honanki cultural site is relatively small and my daughter and I spent less than an hour exploring the area, but we were glad we made the long, bumpy trek out to the site. The drive was all part of the adventure and taking in the beautiful landscape.
Retail Therapy and Dining
Once Ashton and I returned to our lodging, we grabbed a bite to eat with the rest of the family and then the five of us headed to the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little retail therapy.
I love the architecture of this place and always find interesting shops and galleries to stroll through. During a previous visit, my daughter and I enjoyed a little wine tasting, but this time, we stumbled upon Spirits & Spice. This unique shop had the entire family engaged in tasting, and it did not disappoint. I assure you, none of us left the store empty-handed.
Spirits & Spice – just a sample of their amazing products
Interesting stuff, but no room in an RV
Always unique shops to stroll
Spirits & Spice – son and daughter-in-law enjoy the samples
Love the Architecture
Dining … since we had a full kitchen at our accommodations, during this particular visit, we ate in most of the time, but we did enjoy a yummy Sunday breakfast with a great view at the Wildflower Bread Company. Another fun stop for us was at The Art of Wine for a little wine tasting. My daughter ended up buying some Arizona wine.
Awesome outdoor seating at the Wildflower Bread Company in Sedona
Great breakfast at the Wildflower Bread Company
Art of Wine, Sedona
Restaurants we’ve eaten at in the past: The Coffee Pot Restaurant is ideal for a hearty breakfast and serves up some of the best coffee. I enjoyed the coffee so much that I even bought a bag of their beans to brew back at the RV. Javelina’s Cantina is one of Al’s favorite lunch spots. Oaxaca Restaurant is another tasty Mexican restaurant if you happen to be strolling Main Street. And for those looking for specialty foods, Chocola Tree is worth checking out. Their outdoor patio is very zen with a hippie vibe.
Final thoughts on Sedona
Sedona is most definitely a tourist town and on weekends traffic can be congested and challenging, but if you can get beyond the hoards of people, you’ll discover a sense of history, beauty, and well-being like non-other.
The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations as evidenced by the Honanki ruins; AD 1150-1350. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.
And we can’t ignore the energizing vortexes which attract believers from around the world to experience these mystical forces. What is a vortex? They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.
Whether you believe in the power of a vortex or not, I think we can all agree, Sedona is unique, and worth at least one visit. As for my family and I, we aren’t done exploring Sedona, Arizona, and are already planning our next visit. Yes Sedona, we’ll be back!
Top 7 things to do in Sedona
Hike or bike the 300 plus miles of trails. You’ll find a trail for every level of ability, but do note, the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. Sedona’s secret 7 hiking trails.
Take in the incredible red rock landscape by enjoying a Jeep or helicopter tour.
Visit a vortex. Regarded by Native Americans as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many come to experience the vortex centers of Sedona to tap into spiritual energy.
Or simply relax around a luxury resort. Sparkling pools and rejuvenating spas abound.
Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, I was well acquainted with the name Frank Lloyd Wright at an early age. I lovingly blame my father for my interest in design and architecture.
My dad worked in the trades in the city (Chicago) and it wasn’t uncommon for me to see blueprints scattered across our dining room table. Although it would take me years to develop his eye and talent, it was a goal I embraced wholeheartedly.
I was very fortunate to have worked in an industry that I was passionate about, and just because I no longer work in the housing industry does not mean that I’ve lost my interest in architecture … to the contrary.
Travel has only piqued my interest in architecture further, and I love seeking out unique structures.
Photo challenge – theme – prompt
For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of architecture. Show us one of your favorite buildings or structures. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.
After going through all my photographs, I realized I don’t have any images of Prairie Style architecture. Although I’ve studied and toured prairie style homes and visited several Frank Lloyd Wright historical sites in the past, I don’t seem to have any photographs in my archives. Hmm, perhaps this winter, I should visit TaliesinWest in Scottsdale, Arizona 😏
Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations
Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps this will help inspire you to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!
Next weeks photo prompt?
I’ll be taking a short break from these photo challenges for the next couple of weeks, but promise I’ll be back. In the meantime, I’ll be working on some photo prompt ideas and going through my external hard-drives for images. If you have any photo theme ideas, please let me know in the comments. I love brainstorming!
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.
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.
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).
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.
Register and gift table
Walking my son down the isle
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.
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.
And then it was time to celebrate ….
My son and I dance
The dessert table – my cupcakes were a big hit!
A beautiful sunset
mother and son share a moment
the bride and groom’s first dance
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.
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!
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.
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 …… 😉
There was a time when I enjoyed gardening and yard work. My interest began when Al and I were newly married and we purchased our first home in the Chicago suburbs. I started my gardening education by planting annual flowers in the spring, a few perennials during the summer, and by fall my focus was on bulbs. I adore tulips and hyacinths!
As my garden interest grew, I took some perennial gardening classes at the local community college and started adding beds of perennials to our large yard. Illinois is known for its rich farm soil, so even a gardening novice like myself could find success and have things growing without much attention. That is, if a full-out war with the local cottontail bunny rabbits could be averted.
Trouble in the garden
When we moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, everything I thought I knew about gardening was quickly rendered useless. All of a sudden, I found myself living in an arid climate with an elevation over 6,000 feet, and things did not grow as easily as they did in Illinois.
After many perennial and bulb failures, I switched to vegetable gardening. I thought I might have better luck growing veggies than flowers, but that too, proved to be a challenge. Eventually, my interest in gardening waned.
And now that we live in our RV, gardening is no longer an option. Oh, I tried the whole planter thing last summer. I thought it would be wonderful to enjoy some home-grown tomatoes or some fresh herbs, but the intense sun and heat in Arizona were not kind to my plants. Another gardening failure by yours truly. Not to worry, the planter pots were quickly filled with flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby 🤦♀️🌻😁
Illinois has some of the best dirt
I’ve never had the kind of gardening success that my mom and dad enjoyed. Every spring they would look forward to returning to their home in northern Illinois after their Texas Gulf Coast winter sojourn in their Motorhome. They were eager to get the earth tilled and the garden planted. Since their harvest was always way more than they could consume, they would share their bounty of vegetables with delighted neighbors.
I used to time my return visits to Illinois based on their garden. Ah, such fond memories!
Al’s side of the family used to live near Rockford, Illinois. If you’re ever in this part of the state, I highly recommend a visit to the Anderson Japanese Garden. The grounds are tranquil and beautiful and the restaurant tasty. More than once, we’d stop for breakfast or lunch at the restaurant and forgo touring the grounds if we didn’t have time.
Anderson Japanese Garden, Rockford, IL
Must visit – Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois
Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois
Jumping into yard work
Monday night, our son called Al. In a somewhat frantic voice, he informed his dad of his failing water heater and was hoping Al could help. Our son has been working well over 60 hours a week at his job in management plus helping his soon to be bride with wedding day details. To say he’s stressed these days, would be an understatement.
So without hesitation, yesterday morning Al and I hopped in the truck and took the 85 mile drive from Prescott, Arizona, to our son’s home in Phoenix to deal with the leaking water heater.
As soon as we pulled up to Logan’s house, I noticed all the weeds growing up between the rock landscape. Oh don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so bad that the homeowners association had sent a notice …. yet, but in another week or two, I assure you, he’d be receiving a “take care of your weeds” notice. After all, it is the monsoon season in the desert and considering Phoenix has received a fair amount of rain lately, everything is growing including weeds. Actually, the moisture is very welcome!
With that said, the cactus are happy and touches of color from wildflowers dot the landscape. It never ceases to amaze me what will grow and thrive in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.
So while Al was assessing the problematic water heater, I went to work pulling weeds. Now if my son were home, he would never have allowed me to do this. He usually hires out the yard work, but I knew he was too busy to even give the yard a thought and call the landscaper.
The job of pulling weeds didn’t take me long and was relatively easy, BUT the temperature was already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After about 20 minutes of either bending over or squatting, I was done! It was as good as it was gonna get by me.
There’s still a couple of areas that could use a tad more attention, but those areas are on the side of the house and not as easily noticeable.
The heat was brutal and for a gal that doesn’t normally sweat (I merely glisten 😁), I was sweating like a pig and light-headed. (Do pigs actually sweat? Wherever did that phrase come from? 🐷)
But hey, it’s a dry heat…. seriously? … even an oven is a dry heat!!! Yeah, the desert can be a dangerous place. However, it did feel good to accomplish the yard work and have the yard looking more polished.
By the time our son got home from work, the water heater was replaced and the front yard was looking good. Logan was grateful beyond words, and some serious stress was lifted. After a successful and eventful day, an exhausted mom and dad headed back up the hill to Prescott at a higher elevation where temps were almost 20 degrees cooler.
Garden or Gardening – this weeks theme
Today I reflect on the yard work I did yesterday. I don’t miss it. Quite frankly, I don’t miss gardening either, but I do miss seeing a beautiful garden of flowers. That’s when it’s time for me to visit a Botanical Garden or Arboretum. I appreciate the labor of love that goes into the design and care of a garden.
For this weeks photo theme, let’s share images and/or tales of gardens or gardening. Do you have a favorite garden you’ve visited or do you enjoy the task of gardening? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your post.
Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations
Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps you could use a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share and connect!
Upcoming prompts – Birds, Black & White, Reflections …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!
With the impending wedding less than two weeks away, final preparations are in full swing. Oh, what wedding you ask? Did I not mention, my son is getting married in mid August? Yes, exciting times for us around Arizona!
Although, Al and I had several reasons for not traveling outside of the state of Arizona this summer, the number one reason to stay somewhat close to Phoenix was the wedding. Being only an hours drive away from Phoenix has worked out perfectly, and I’ve been able to be included in any and all wedding festivities and preparations.
Even though the children live in Phoenix, the actual wedding venue is on a ranch in Skull Valley, just west of our RV Park in Prescott, Arizona. Thus, the location of the wedding is rather convenient for Al and me, but then again, we did plan accordingly 😀
I haven’t really had much involvement in the whole process. The bride seems to have everything under control, but I’ve been around to attend dress fittings, doing a tour of the venue, and a few other events. The one thing the bride did ask me to do was bake my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding.
Instead of a wedding cake …
You see, the bride and groom don’t intend to have a big wedding cake. Probably just a little one for them to cut for traditional purposes. Instead of serving guests a slice of wedding cake, they’ve chosen to have a dessert bar for their guests so guests can enjoy a variety of desserts. For this, the bride has enlisted the help of several people.
With that said, I’ve been asked to make my famous cheesecake cupcakes for the wedding. My son loves cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert.
I used to make him a yummy New York style cheesecake, but it was always a great deal of work and a tad more challenging to make in my little RV kitchen.
Then I discovered an easy recipe for cheesecake cupcakes, which my son enjoys equally as much. These are so much easier to make than a big cheesecake, especially in the RV.
I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the bride when she asked me if I would make my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding … until … until … until she told me around 90 cupcakes should be about the right amount 😲 Say what?
Okay, I’ve adapted to working in my little RV kitchen and can put out some amazing meals and baked goods. Quite frankly, with a little organization, anything that can be made in a sticks and bricks dwelling, can be made in a RV, but now we’re talking about production … large quantities. No, the RV wouldn’t work. Sure, I could actually make them all in the RV, that’s not the problem. Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated, and therein lies the problem. You know how big my refrigerator is? Six (6) cubic feet! Yeah, that’s small. Let’s compare … how big is yours?
I needed to come up with another plan. That is, after trying logically to enlighten my future daughter-in-law on the wisdom of serving a chilled dessert like cheesecake at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August … I was met with a blank stare. Ah, brides!!!
Cheesecake it is, and for plan B, I enlisted the help of my daughter. I still haven’t totally figured out how we’re going to keep these little cheesecakes chilled at the outdoor wedding venue, but I have a few possible ideas swirling in my head.
So, a couple of weekends ago, I took the 90 mile drive to the Phoenix valley to spend the weekend at my daughter’s place and dive into the baking production challenge.
She and I always have so much fun spending a weekend together. However, during this visit, we were on a mission and the baking task at hand took precedence. Oh, not that we didn’t have fun … we did indeed. There was plenty of laughing and shenanigans in the kitchen all the while binge watching “Nailed It”. We had to keep motivated, and the baking show did just that!
My daughter recently discovered this Netflix original baking show and immediately thought of me. Seriously, if you have never heard of the show, I recommend you Google images of Nailed It, and you too will laugh your a*s off. She thinks I’d make the perfect contestant with my many a Pinterest fail … ah, my baking endeavors and failures 😏
Whew! Five exhausting hours later – success! We had the cupcake containers filled with the requested 90 cheesecake cupcakes. Now it was time to take them over to son’s house to be stored in his deep freezer. The decorating on top of the cheesecakes will be done the morning of the wedding. After all, I have nothing else to do the morning of the wedding other than decorate 90 80 cupcakes 😏
The cupcake container was so heavy that Ashton and I decided to weigh it. Oh my gosh, almost twelve (12) pounds of cupcakes!!!
While I lead the way carrying my pans and utensils down the outdoor apartment steps to load into the car, Ashton followed carrying the cupcakes. She had gone down maybe four steps, when I heard some very unladylike exclamations loudly uttered. I didn’t need to turn around to know what had happened, but I did need to know the extent of the damage. The cupcakes were so heavy that one of the container clips on the side gave way. (Note to self … in the future, do not carry by the handle but rather cradle in arms holding from bottom. Do not trust the clips to hold. Lesson learned!)
Although Ashton was on the verge of tears, I quickly calmed her concerns and gathered up the tossed cupcakes. We returned to her apartment to see what I could salvage.
Turns out about ten of the cheesecake cupcakes were not salvageable to serve to wedding guests. The main problem was the shape. Only two had actually touched the ground while the others remained in the container, but ended up either upside down or smashed to one side. The ones that were still slightly warm were now misshapen and not very pretty … tasty, but not pretty.
I gathered the rejects and placed them on a paper plate, and with a sharpie, I marked the paper liners of the two cupcakes that had touched the ground. This plate of rejects would return with me to the RV. The rest of the cupcakes eventually made it safely into my son’s freezer where they await the big day.
With the cupcake challenge behind us, next on our list was to go to the liquor store and purchase the wine for the wedding which Al and I, parents of the groom, had offered to do. With the wine loaded in my backseat and then dropped off at son’s place, Ashton and I returned to her apartment with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio for ourselves and a healthy take-out dinner order from Panera Bread. We were exhausted and needed an evening of fun and relaxation.
The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking, and eating while we watched a combination of Nailed It and comedian Ali Wong. I’d say we had a very successful and entertaining day in spite of the little mishap on the apartment steps.
Between Al and our RV Park neighbors, the reject cupcakes were devoured in short order with requests for more rejects. And to think, my daughter was going to throw them away! They may not have been pretty, but they were still very tasty as evidenced by their quick disappearance and request for more .
2 – 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Directions – Turn oven on to 325 degrees. Crust – In a food processor, grind graham crackers into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add in melted butter. Using a spoon, combine until all crumbs are coated with butter.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners (do not use foil liners) – 18 cupcakes. With non-stick cooking spray, lightly spray paper liners then add about 1 Tablespoon (or slightly less) of graham cracker mixture to each liner. Firmly press crumbs down.
Filling – In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared graham cracker muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until filling looks baked. Cool completely before decorating. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes.
Top with buttercream frosting and a teaspoon of strawberry or blueberry preserves or instead of frosting, top with strawberry or blueberry preserves and whip cream.
Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com
Tips for making these cheesecake cupcakes
1. Organization is tip number one, especially when working in a small kitchen.
2. Use a Tablespoon to measure out the graham cracker crust into the cupcake liners to try to get an equal amount into each well.3. Use the top of a wine bottle to firmly press down the graham cracker crust. Of course, we washed the top of the bottle well before using. Perk … drink and enjoy when done using the bottle 🤣
4. Cool the cheesecakes completely before decorating or moving them to a new location. Do as I say, not as I do!
Final thoughts …
With the groom’s mother (me) doing her part for the wedding, let’s hope Mother Nature does hers and cooperates by giving us a reprieve from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that we’ve been experiencing since early July.
I don’t know why, but the bride and groom didn’t share my sense of humor when I told them my rubber muck boots and raincoat coordinate with my dress nicely and dad (Al) intended to bring his fishing waders just in case. Hey, when ya live in a RV, as Al and I do, one is always prepared for adversity … it’s part of the RV adventure!
With all the repairs Al and I have done lately on the RV, we’ve asked ourselves many times if perhaps we should have purchased an extended RV warranty. It’s an important question every RV owner should ask themselves. Some RV repairs are easy, but many are difficult and expensive.
RVing is at an all time high and with higher RV demand, the manufacturers are cranking out production at a record high number.
With RVs being rushed down the assembly lines, the quality of the product has slipped and so has customer service.
Once that one year manufacturers warranty is up, RV owners are left to their own devices dealing with failing components.
It’s not a matter of if your RV will need repairs, it’s a matter of when. The first time we blew a tire on our 5th Wheel Trailer, it took out our waterlines and did some body damage. Oh, what fun that was!
Buying a RV Extended Warranty is Like Buying Insurance
An Extended Warranty is very similar to purchasing an Auto Insurance Policy. We never plan on getting into an accident. As a matter of fact, I think we’d all agree that we’d prefer not using that insurance. Yeah, no one wants to get into an accident, but when we do, thank goodness for that insurance.
RV components will fail, and when that happens do you have the knowledge, tools, and ability to fix your RV yourself or do you need to seek professional help?
Al and I are extremely handy and quite capable of working on our RV ourselves, but then again, we own a basic RV with few bells, horns, and whistles.
Even with that said, there are some things beyond our capabilities, and we know those more difficult fixes are expensive ones that will need to be addressed by a professional.
Having an extended RV warranty can offer peace of mind just like any other insurance policy … we hope to never need it, but when we do, we’re very glad we have it.
Reasons to buy a RV Extended Warranty
Complexity of the RV – The bigger and more expensive the RV, the more difficult and more expensive the repairs will be.
Big dollar repairs – RVs are full of many specialized components that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in replacement costs not to mention the cost of labor.
Peace of Mind – having an RV repair emergency fund is crucial but knowing that account wouldn’t be depleted during a major repair offers peace of mind.
Resale Value – If you aren’t sure how long you intend to keep the RV, a transferable warranty may make your RV more marketable.
Should I buy an Extended Warranty for my RV?
Depends! We’ve spoken with many RVers via our travels and via this blog who have shared their horror stories with us about big dollar repair costs on their RV … RVs that are less than five years old. Imagine the cost of things like failing slide outs, cracked waste tanks, bent/broken frames, refrigerators and A/C units that won’t cool, and the list goes on.
Before we bought our new 5th wheel, we owned a truck camper that we also purchased new.
Shortly after the manufacturers warranty ran out, the camper fridge stopped working. The repair and replacement cost was over $1000. Yeah, over a grand for a little RV refrigerator in a simple truck camper.
Another costly situation happened to our 5th wheel when our waste tank cables broke during year two of ownership. Amazing what will break shortly after the manufacturers warranty expires.
So, should you buy an extended warranty? Again, depends! How big is your emergency fund? Do you have the wherewithal to service the RV yourself? We have several RV acquaintances that swear by their extended warranty and have said the warranty paid for itself. Knowing what I know now, we’ll definitely consider buying an extended warranty when we purchase our next RV. Isn’t 20/20 hindsight wonderful 🤔
Dealer sold warranties are money makers for the dealer
Many RV dealers will try to sell you an extended warranty when you buy your RV from them. Be sure you shop around before buying any warranty. Some dealer warranties are backed by the dealership itself and require you to get all the repairs done at that very shop … not very convenient when traveling across the country. Dealer-sold warranties are usually more expensive and less comprehensive than any warranty you can get externally. So, you’ll definitely want to shop around.
Some things to keep in mind when shopping for an extended RV warranty –
Understand transfer and cancellation policies
Know who’s backing the warranty
Are you able to use any repair facility
Verify any restrictions or limitations
Check the reputation of the warranty company
Understand deductibles, claim procedures, and term limits
Who do most RVers recommend?
A name that keeps popping up with positive reviews is Wholesale Warranties. We have several friends who’ve purchased an extended RV warranty from them and have been extremely pleased and more than one has said the extended warranty paid for itself.
What makes Wholesale Warranties a leader in the industry
Wholesale Warranties is dedicated to education and customer service. Their RV Warranty Specialists are fully trained on helping customers find the best policy for them, at the best price. With access to several different warranty companies, levels of coverage, and payment plans, they seek to educate the customer on the options available to them, and eventually help them narrow this down to the perfect policy to suit their needs.
Wholesale Warranties always provides customers with a full copy of the terms and conditions of their contract prior to accepting payment for a policy, and is dedicated to transparency. They want their customers to know exactly what they’re getting into, and this includes what they can expect to be excluded in their policy.
Wholesale Warranties does not simply disappear after the sale of a policy. They have a dedicated internal claims staff that is available to customers at any time during the life of the policy. Their claims specialists are happy to assist customers with any questions they have during the claims process, including facilitating communication between the warranty company and the repair facility, and addressing any questions about approval or denial of a claim. They stand behind the products they sell, and want customers to get the most out of their policies.
Wholesale Warranties is more than just RV Warranties!
They recently launched an RV Repair Facility directory called RV Repair Direct, where customers can find and rate mechanics in their area. This site also allows Wholesale Warranties customers to submit their information if they experience a non-emergency breakdown, and their internal claims staff will find a reputable repair facility or mobile repair technician that is able to complete that repair for them.
Final thoughts about an extended RV warranty
When shopping for an extended RV warranty, you’ll want to evaluate where your concerns lie. Are you mostly concerned about a catastrophic failure or concerned about the whole RV?
Knowing what type of RV repair bills you can and cannot afford will help you choose the best coverage for your personal needs.
If you are worried that RV repairs might blow your travel budget, or are just interested in getting a bit more information, you can click here and a warranty specialist from WholesaleWarranties.com will be happy to assist you. Mention that you are a Live Laugh RV reader and use code D-LLRV for the best price in extended warranties. Happy trails!
Our RV is getting older, and as such, she’s needing a little maintenance and updating. Hmm, couldn’t we all? 🤣 At least twice a year, Al and I head up to the roof of the RV to check things out. More frequent visits would probably be even better, but when we’re confronted with landscapes that are so stunningly beautiful and beg to be explored, who wants to work on RV projects?
But regular RV maintenance is necessary, and most projects aren’t very difficult; therefore, there’s really no excuse. With that said, it is something we consciously try to make a priority if we want to keep the RV in tip-top shape. Thus, the travel and exploring gets put on hold temporarily while we dive into maintenance projects.
So, up on the roof we go. After checking all the vents, caulking, and general condition of the roof, Al and I determine that the sewer vent caps should be replaced. One cap is severely cracked while the other looks compromised. We’re not sure if they were damaged by hail or a tree branch. Regardless, we’ll replace both caps.
For this post, I’ve partnered with a great RV parts company called Road & Home. Although we’ve received some free goodies from them, all opinions regarding their products are my own. We first discovered Road and Home products during a shopping trip to the local Lowe’s.
RV maintenance made easy
It was a Sunday afternoon, and since most RV dealerships in Arizona are closed on Sundays, we headed to Lowe’s for some general plumbing fittings. We’ve had a tiny fresh water leak in our storage bay that only leaks during the clean water flushing stage of dumping our black tank. It wasn’t an urgent repair, but a needed repair nonetheless. A new fitting should fix up the leak, so off to Lowe’s we go.
Lowe’s had everything we needed to fix the plumbing leak, but much to our surprise (a pleasant surprise), they even had the sewer vent caps that we needed for the roof of the RV. We didn’t even realize Lowe’s carried any RV parts, but there we were standing in front of a large display filled with a variety of RV products from Road and Home.
Fifteen minutes later, along with half a dozen products in our shopping cart, it was time to head back to the RV to get to work. With storms expected in the next few days, first and foremost was replacing the roof vent caps.
How to replace a RV sewer vent cap on a rubber roof
Step #1 – The first step is to gently remove the existing vent from the rubber roof. After removing any visible screws, snap off the top cap. With a blow dryer, heat the existing caulk and with a plastic putty knife, gently pry and separate the caulk from the rubber roof. You’ll want to be extremely careful not to rip the rubber roof which is why we don’t recommend using a metal putty knife. This process might be a little slow going, but be patient … we don’t want to compromise the integrity of the rubber roof by damaging it.
Step #2 – Once the old caulk is removed, use a soft clean cloth to wash the area, making sure the surface around the sewer vent pipe is clean. We just used plain water, no soap.
Once the area is dry, lay down a layer of plumber’s putty. We already had a roll of RV sealant/putty in our tool box.
Step #3– Now it’s time to screw down the bottom section of the vent and install the top cap. The top cap snaps on and there’s one screw on top to hold the cap down.
Step #4 – Now comes the cake decorating portion of the install … otherwise known as caulking. This is when I (aka cake decorator) step in to finish up the job. Using Dicor lap sealant with a caulking gun, I liberally apply a large amount of sealant around the base of the vent, and use the plastic putty knife to help spread out the sealant. This stuff is not normal caulk and may take a little practice to make it look somewhat close to factory install. The tube may say self-leveling, but that doesn’t mean self-smoothing!
Although replacing both RV roof sewer vent caps was a little time consuming and tedious, overall it was a relatively easy DIY project. Thank you, Road and Home, for making this RV maintenance project even easier with the convenience of being able to buy everything we needed at Lowe’s (available on Amazon too).
There’s a saying in America’s southwest … “Whiskey’s fer drink’n and water’s fer fight’n over!” In a nutshell, water in the western United States is a precious commodity worth fighting over and fight they did back in the 1800’s. Gosh, even today, states continue to fight over water rights all the time, but instead of gunshots being slung, you’ll find attorney’s slinging water rights paperwork. Yeah, there’s beaucoup bucks in water rights … take note any young aspiring attorney.
I grew up in the Midwest where water was never an issue. Sure, we occasionally experienced a summer drought when communities would implement water usage restrictions. Such restrictions were usually centered around limiting homeowners to the frequency of lawn sprinkling or car washing.
With an abundance of lakes and rivers in the Midwest, Al and I had dreams of one day owning lake front property. Oh, we came close a couple of times buying something in Wisconsin or Minnesota, but eventually logic ruled and our dream was always put on the back burner. Ah, such young responsible adults we were!
Once we moved west, that dream became even more elusive considering lake front property in the western United States is a rarity. Most lakes are used for water storage … reservoirs. Maintaining a clean water source is top priority in a land where water is a precious commodity. Considering water is not taken for granted in Arizona, it makes a body of water that much more special and appreciated.
Because of our love of water, lakes in particular, Al and I enjoy exploring and searching out those bodies of water whenever we have the opportunity.
Lakes around Prescott, Arizona
Within a thirty minute drive or less from our RV Park here in Prescott Valley, we have access to four lovely little lakes. All allow kayaking as well as offer picnic areas and a great trail system. I used to think Watson Lake was my favorite lake around here until I discovered the other lakes in the area.
Last summer I spent a great deal of time hiking around the unique boulder laden landscape titled Granite Dells. Willow Lake and Watson Lake are both man-made reservoirs located within the Granite Dells area of Prescott and the scenery is so unique that it calls for regular visits.
I loved hiking around this fascinating landscape – up and down the various trails, exploring all the nooks and crannies around every boulder until …. until the snake encounter. Yeah, the sound of a rattle from a Diamondback can get the heart pounding and quickly take the joy out of any hike. After that experience, it was time for me to search out a few different trail options.
Once I discovered Lynx Lake and Goldwater Lake, I became smitten with them. Talk about a contrast of landscapes. Where as Watson Lake and Willow Lake are surrounded by a mostly barren, lumpy rock landscape, Lynx Lake and Goldwater Lake are nestled in a forest of wonderfully scented tall pine trees providing some nice cooling shade.
Once again these are man-made reservoirs serving as water storage, but also offer some nice recreation for the public’s enjoyment.
Lynx Lake was the perfect spot for my friend, Rachael, and me to meet for lunch and catch up on our travels. I met Rachael a couple of years ago up in Arco, Idaho. She was on a one year solo RV adventure, and we had an immediate connection once we started talking cameras, which then lead to a couple of photographic outings together. Ever since our Idaho connection, we’ve stayed in touch. Rachael has since given up the RV life and now lives full-time in Sedona, Arizona … not too far from me which made meeting in Prescott easily doable.
During our Idaho time together, Rachael had made lunch for me, and now this was the perfect opportunity for me to reciprocate. Once again, our cameras were brought along for the outing and plenty of shutter time was shared after our tummies were filled. Even Rachael was pleasantly surprised with the beautiful lakes seen around Prescott.
Although these four little lakes might not be impressive to the average Midwesterner, they are a treasure to an Arizonan. I for one appreciate it when these reservoirs are full of water and pristine. I make it a point to take full advantage of their beauty while they’re in my current backyard … okay, I’m not saying they’re literally in my backyard considering it takes me at least twenty minutes to drive to any one of them, but hey, in Arizona I’ll take whatever kind of water front I can. The short drive is worth those water views any day.
More Arizona Lakes worth noting …
Since our children live in Phoenix, Arizona, we spend several months every year during the winter hanging around the Phoenix valley. That has given us the perfect opportunity to search out and explore many of the scenic lakes (rather reservoirs) in the area.
Lake Pleasant is located on the far northwest side of the valley and used to be a regular camping spot for us. The sunsets here are some of the most spectacular that I’ve ever seen. Absolutely stunning!
Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake are all located on the far east side of the valley in the Tonto National Forest. This string of reservoirs are all connected via the Salt River and each body of water offers unique scenery and plenty of boating recreation.
Bartlett Reservoir is located to the far northeast of Scottsdale and also within the Tonto National Forest. This lovely body of water takes a little longer to get to from the heart of Phoenix but so worth the drive, and if you don’t need internet connection, you can enjoy camping right along her beautiful shores.
Eastern Arizona –
We still have yet to spend much time in Arizona’s White Mountains. We enjoyed a brief taste last August during a short visit with our friends in Pinetop. This eastern side of the state reminds me of parts of Colorado. No, you won’t find any tall majestic mountains here, but you will find a landscape of large hills or little mountains surrounded by pine forests and dotted with lakes. Yep, there are lakes all over and stocked with enough fish to satisfy most anglers.
This is a beautiful part of Arizona that should not be missed and begs for more exploring on our part. But do note, this is a summer destination for RVers and plan on sharing this landscape with lots of desert dwellers who like to spend weekends in the White Mountains. The mountains serve as the perfect escape from the extreme summer heat found in the Phoenix valley.
Northern Arizona –
In the northern section of Arizona, you’ll find the city of Flagstaff and the Coconino National Forest. Once again, the forested landscape offers a bunch of little lakes, some of which I’d say are more like an over-sized pond than a lake, but hey it’s Arizona and water is water …. don’t dis the body of water. We’ll take it any which way we can … pond, lake, river, creek … water is life!
But if size matters to you, than it’s time to head to the Arizona-Utah border and the shores of Lake Powell. Here you can boat to your heart’s content or until you run out of gas, which happens to boaters all the time. Yeah, it’ll literally take you days to boat the length of Lake Powell and a boat load of gasoline too.
Western Arizona –
If Lake Powell’s a little too big for your taste, then Lake Havasu on the Arizona-California border might be more to your liking. We’re fortunate to have friends that live in Lake Havasu City and own a pontoon boat. Oh yeah – loved getting out on the water.
Southern Arizona –
Oh my goodness, I haven’t even touched on the southern half of the state where we really enjoyed Patagonia State Park and the lovely water setting seen there. So many more lakes to discover!
Hot and Dusty …
In a state where the words hot and dusty are used often, it’s no wonder the diverse landscape and fresh bodies of water are such a delightful surprise to many a visitor. I know all these picturesque lakes have been a fun and fantastic adventure discovering during our travels throughout the state.
No surprise our wheels have barely rolled across the Arizona state line this past year with so much picturesque scenery to discover and still so much more to see. Now if only I could figure out a way to fold up that pontoon boat and store it in the belly of the RV … then I’d really be in tall cotton!