Being Too Busy

Being Too Busy

Although I’m still dreaming about vibrant fall colors, Al and I have been back in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix, Arizona) for a little over a month now. I can’t figure out where the time has gone. Well actually, I do know … our days have been filled with predominantly obligations sprinkled in with a little fun here and there. I wish it were the other way around. You know, more fun and fewer obligations. Ah, such is life!

Both trucks have been in the shop for routine maintenance and then some. My little red Toyota Tacoma was in storage all summer. So basically, all she needed was an oil change and tire rotation along with a good cleaning. The Ford, on the other hand, needed a little more attention, especially after a 6,000-mile workout. (1,900 miles each direction and then all my exploring in Wisconsin and Minnesota.)

Truck trouble!

We are so grateful and lucky that our F-250 held up on our 1,900-mile journey back to Phoenix, Arizona. After a wonderful summer and fall spent in northern Wisconsin, we made it all the way to Arizona before encountering a problem. Once in Arizona, during the ever-changing terrain on Interstate 17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix, the truck came very close to overheating and not making it at the steepest grade just south of Camp Verde. According to our Mountain Directory (a must-have), the grade is about 6%, but anyone who drives this stretch of road regularly will tell you it feels much greater.

Turns out, the F-250 water pump was leaking and probably had this slow leak all summer long. Thus, the engine had trouble cooling, especially pulling the hills with the RV. Considering we were in mostly flat country all summer long with moderate temperatures and not pulling the RV regularly, we never noticed a problem with the truck until we hit Arizona and the ever-changing elevation. Whew! We dodged a close call of getting stuck on the side of the road.

All he needs now is a little exterior TLC, aka wash, wax, and vacuum. The Ford is almost ready for his next trip and is running like a champ and easily passed the Maricopa County (Phoenix) emission test … keeping the air clean – our truck is registered here since this is our legal domicile.

Our overnight stop just north of Des Moines, Iowa
Spent the night in a Cabela’s parking lot. Almost ready to hit the road as the sun was rising.

More appointments!

Along with tending to vehicle appointments, there have been Doctor, Dentist, and Vision appointments. Drilling, poking, prodding, x-rays, tests, scans, and follow-up visits have ensued. Al’s mouth and body are good to go for another year and I’m getting closer. Geez … this getting old stuff ain’t for sissies.🤣

Oh and I can’t forget to add in the water leak and a few other attention grabbing tidbits on the RV. So much for me and my remodeling ideas. That will be taking a backseat for a while, much to Al’s delight and my disappointment.

Family fun!

At least we’ve been able to add in a few fun family visits on a small scale. A Thanksgiving get together this Thursday is still up in the air. The eight of us are all trying to be Covid cautious. Thus, we’ll all check with one another at the last minute, and then if we do get together, we’ll probably eat outside. Fortunately, the weather in Phoenix, Arizona has been beautiful. Perhaps even a tad too warm with record highs being broken. It has been a hot year around here, and I’m glad Al and I were in northern Wisconsin for the worst of the heat.

wild turkey crossing the road
Why did the turkey cross the road? To get to the other side! Wild turkeys in Wisconsin. I found myself needing to stop regularly so I wouldn’t hit one.
turkey's crossing the road
Wild turkeys crossing the road. Dinner, anyone? Run, turkey, run!

Along with getting together with family back here in Arizona, we’re enjoying reconnecting with our RV Park friends (on a limited and socially distanced scenario, of course). We’ve chosen not to engage in any of the park’s social functions even though they are trying to do their best with Covid guidelines. I’ve dealt with my fair share of illnesses the past several years (including flu, Valley Fever, and mononucleosis), so I’d really prefer to avoid this nasty virus.

My to-do list seems to be growing instead of dwindling. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say, I’d really prefer being less busy. I guess you could say, I’ve been a little too busy lately and am looking forward to life slowing down soon. Ah, but with the holiday season in full swing, I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon. On that note, excuse me if I’m a little less active here in the blogosphere. Life!

What a change from my relaxing summer. Calgon, take me away!

Photo Challenges:

As I was putting this post together, I couldn’t help but think about the differences between our summer home and winter home and it’s not just the drastic contrast between the two landscapes. It’s about our mindset. When we visit family property in northern Wisconsin, we’re more in vacation mode and tend to think less of life’s responsibilities, unless we’re talking about an RV tank leak, then it’s all business, in more ways than one 🤣

When we return to AZ, it’s like returning home after being on vacation. It’s time to think about responsibilities and get back to being an adult. Phoenix is our home base where we have an annual RV site. It’s our place of residence and the place we spend the most amount of time. So I guess it’s safe to say, Phoenix, Arizona is our main home, and Hayward, Wisconsin is our second home.

I’m so incredibly thankful to still be able to travel via our RV and enjoy two such beautiful worlds while spending time with people we love in both places. With that said, enjoy a few images showcasing how different our two homes are.

Sunday Stills: Terri’s theme this week is Thankful. Amy’s theme: Lens-Artist photo challenge #124: Now and Then.

Then: northern Wisconsin.

Early summer morning at the lake in WI
A crisp fall morning at the lake .
Lush vegetation abounds in the northern Midwest.

Now: Phoenix, Arizona

Lake Pleasant
Sunset over Lake Pleasant, Phoenix Arizona
Hiking in the desert
Golf anyone? Quintaro Golf Course.

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Focus on a Story with Your Photos

Focus on a Story with Your Photos

We all have a story to share, and as bloggers, we love sharing our stories. Some of us tend to lean toward visual inspiration and share our tales via photographs while others are gifted with words and the ability to write. But when photographs and words come together, it’s pure magic. Well, in my book anyway!

Think about it … many of us have a favorite children’s book that is filled with a combination of images and words. I still have a few of those books from my childhood tucked away in storage. And then there’s my collection of cookbooks. I love cookbooks but rarely buy one without a healthy dose of tantalizing food photos to accompany the recipes. But my favorite is a beautiful coffee table book filled with stunning photography taking me on a visual adventure.

Storytelling with photographs is all about the images with just enough words to enhance the story.

This is the road to our summer/fall home.

Visual storytelling with photographs

The photographs we share depend largely on how we want to tell the story. As someone who enjoys travel in an RV, the majority of my photographs, and thus my stories, are centered around the places we visit along with my personal experiences and thoughts. There’s an excitement to traveling, to seeing new sights, meeting new people, having new experiences, and capturing those moments and memories is important to me. The ability to share them with you is a bonus! 😁

When I think about my adventures and how I want to preserve a memory and how I might want to share a story, I keep a few thoughts in mind …

5 Elements to help tell a story.

  • Idea: what, where, when?
  • Plan: execution, how?
  • Memory: preservation, what do I want to remember most?
  • Emotion: feeling, sentiment, how does it make me feel?
  • Narration: words to complement the images and help deliver the story.

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera we use to capture our story. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite recent fall photographs was taken quickly with my iPhone. Al and I had gone on a scenic drive and stopped to explore a national forest campground on Lake Namekagon in northern Wisconsin. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I was easily distracted by the beautiful autumn colors. While Al strolled back to the truck, I ventured down a trail.

Knowing Al would be waiting for me (patiently) and realizing we still had several more places to visit, I was rushed, but I felt compelled to capture snippets of my experience. Without much thought, I pointed the iPhone … click to the left, click to the right, click up high, click down low, time to go! Regrettably, my Panasonic stayed slung across my body.

Trust your instincts when capturing the moment. Try not to overthink the composition … unless your goal is for professional reasons or a wall hanger, in which case you’ll want to pull out the good camera, tripod, and spend some time composing. But for storytelling, go with your gut and capture what makes you happy at that moment … it’s your story.

hiking trail with fall leaves on the ground
This is one of my favorite photos taken this past September.

Memory / Emotion: The image above evokes a calming joy within me and that’s exactly how I felt strolling through those leaves, and for some reason, those leaves almost looked like rose petals guiding me further into the forest. Whenever I look at this photograph, I’m reminded of the wonderful autumn day that I shared with my husband. I realize the way the image impacts me is unique to me personally.

I’m curious though … how does the image make YOU feel? What does it say to you? Perhaps you don’t even care for the photo, and that’s ok, but the photograph is part of my visual story from that day.

Idea / Plan: The whole reason for us to remain in northern Wisconsin into October was so I could capture autumn foliage. So with that in mind, I set about planning where I wanted to go. For three weeks, starting in mid-September, whenever the weather was agreeable, I was off in search of color.

Scenery along the way!

I was rewarded with stunning colors in all directions. Sometimes I was able to pull off to the side of the road and snap some photos and other times I wasn’t so lucky, in which case I would have to savor those views in my memory. I knew when I planned these photo outings that I’d want to share my tales here on the blog. Therefore, I made mental notes and had an idea of what kind of images I wanted to capture to help tell my story … visual storytelling.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Narration: Years ago, long before personal computers, the internet, and digital photography 😵, I was into scrapbooking. I have about three large storage containers filled with photo albums. I treasure those albums, but when I recently started flipping through one, I noticed the lack of narration. Writing has never come easy to me and that was more apparent than ever when reviewing that photo album.

Oh, how I wish I had shared more information about the photographs, about the events, about the places and people. Even though a picture may be worth a thousand words, adding additional information via words will enhance any story. Besides, there’s a little storytelling in all of us.

Color was seen everywhere!

Hopefully, I’ve offered a few tips that might help you focus on your own storytelling via photography. If interested, here is one of my favorite tales where I take my readers on a hike at the incredible Kasha-Katuwee Tent Rocks.

Do you have a favorite visual story?

I loved the tiny island with the colorful trees in the distance.
blue and pink sunset over a lake with ducks
Beautiful ending to a beautiful day!

Photo Challenges: This week for Sunday Stills, Terri asks us to share photographs of leaves. Another photo challenge is from Patti – Lens-Artists #121 Focus on the Subject. As opposed to focusing my camera on something specific, I chose storytelling as my subject to focus on.

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Compact Tripod
Never Lose Focus T-Shirt
Camera Neck Strap w/Quick Release and Safety Tether

The Perils of Leaves

The Perils of Leaves

Timing is everything when it comes to most things in life, and we seemed to have timed our recent travels perfectly. It was the second full week in October and the leaves were changing from brilliant hues of reds, oranges, and yellows to varying shades of brown. Those dry rust-colored leaves were a clear indication that the trees would soon be bare and winter would be nipping at our heels.

With a memory card full, I was satisfied with my collection of autumn foliage images and ready to get the RV moved to a warmer climate. Bye-bye Wisconsin, hello Arizona. After seven straight days of driving and 1,900 miles later, Al and I made it safely to our destination in Phoenix, Arizona, and managed to escape the snowstorm that targeted the upper Midwest.

Currently, there are six inches of snow covering the ground where our RV once sat. Yep, good timing on our part. Now it’s time for us to settle back into our RVing community in the desert southwest, but first, I need to share a few more photographs of nature’s beautiful landscape.

Our home this past summer and fall.

Beware of what lies beneath.

With our departure date looming, I took every possible opportunity to get out into nature to soak up the colors. I hadn’t been back to this part of the country during this time of year for probably thirty years. Oh, how I’ve missed this! The western United States has its own unique beauty that I love, but these past months back in the Midwest have felt a bit like a homecoming. I was in my comfort zone, in my element, and enjoying every moment and what a treat it was. But as we all know, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

Wanting to capture images of sunrises and morning reflections on the lake required me to set upon my explorations early in the morning. It was usually just me, my camera, and the wildlife wandering the forest before sunrise, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to startle one another. Fortunately, these encounters were in the friendly form of deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, birds, but thankfully no black bear. Mind you, I was ever on the lookout.

When exploring, I do my best to be aware of my surroundings at all times and avoid potential obstacles that could end in injury. So there I was, traipsing through the forest, stepping over and under branches, and immersed in the sights and sounds. The air was crisp and fresh. The leaves crunched beneath each cautious footstep while I listened to Loons calling in the distance.

And then it happened … in a split second … beneath the thick carpet of leaves hid a twig. When I unknowingly stepped on it at just the right angle, it flipped up and one of the edges scraped down my shin. Ouch! Ah, the perils of walking in a leaf-covered forest, but nothing a little time wouldn’t heal.

Injuries happen!
Hey lady, watch where you’re walking!
A beautiful morning in the neighborhood.

What a treat!

Spending time with family on lakefront property these past four months was a treat … add in beautiful fall colors and it just doesn’t get much better … such a treat!

Photo challenge: Lens-Artist Challenge #120 – What a Treat! This week, Tina asks us to share photographs depicting a ‘treat’. Spending the autumn season in northern Wisconsin and seeing the changing of leaves was indeed a very special treat for me.

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Is There a Right Way or Wrong Way?

Is There a Right Way or Wrong Way?

Due to the current circumstances surrounding 2020, travel of any kind can be challenging and that holds true even for those of us with RVs. Restrictions abound! But let’s take the pandemic out of the travel equation and pretend like life is normal.

Is there a right way or a wrong way to RV? How much travel is too little or too much? Is the RV lifestyle about constantly moving to new locations, about seeing all the National Parks, about visiting as many states as possible, or is it about living an alternative lifestyle, or is it a way to see extended family more frequently? Whether we travel part-time or full-time, it’s a personal journey … gosh, life is a personal journey!

Blog comments that make you think!

I originally started this blog to journal about our RV adventure and keep family and friends up to date. A surprising by-product of this little travelogue has been YOU, my reader. I never could’ve imagined the friendships I’ve developed via my simple writings and blog comment interaction. I’m humbled and grateful, but before I get all mushy, let’s jump into the meat of this post.

Several weeks ago, I received a comment that I can’t seem to get out of my head. Fortunately, it has led me down the path of memory lane …

Hi, new reader to your blog and future part-time RVer’s! I am a bit surprised that you have not done that much moving around the USA? Maybe I am missing these posts, but don’t you want to see the west (Washington) and east coast? I realize now is not a good time, but you have been at this for a few years.

The rules of RVing … spoiler alert, there are no rules!

There are so many variables to consider when it comes to traveling; a major factor being finances (yeah, travel costs money), followed by interests and goals, and working around obligations like work or family or both. And just like there are all kinds of different RVs, from inexpensive small pop-up trailers to large expensive motorhomes and everything in between, there are also all kinds of ways in which to RV travel.

camping, boondocking at Lake Powell

It’s not uncommon for RV newbies to get out and explore as much as possible that first year. FOMO is real (fear of missing out). They’ll log ridiculous amounts of mileage and exhaust themselves in the process. Some are smarter and will take it slow. And then there are those that prioritize connections with fellow RVers over destinations. Hence, meetups, convergences, and rallies. I know, we personally have rearranged travel plans so we could connect with blog readers and/or family and friends.

There are no rules for embarking on the RV lifestyle adventure. Whether one travels back and forth between the same two states repeatedly or decides to visit all 50 states, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps there are those that have some preconceived notions about RVing, but that’s merely an opinion. We all need to do what we feel is best for us, and what’s right for us may not be right for others.

Given a choice between visiting a stunning and exciting new location or spending time with loved ones, we’ll pick time with loved ones; whether that be family or friends.

Perhaps when we were younger, we would have chosen the exciting destination. Okay, I know we would’ve gone for the travel destination. 😏 Age has a way of changing one’s priorities; changing our interests and desires.

So yes, we have been at this RVing thing for a while, but we’ve been at life for a while as evidenced by the abundance of grey hair that Al and I are sporting. This means we had a life long before we bought the RV and long before I started writing this blog.

We’re no longer young. (I know, what a surprise 🤣) We’ve lived … we’ve lived an exciting life … we’ve traveled, traveled extensively … we’ve survived tragedies … we’ve persevered … we cooperate, compromise, and prioritize and that means, we don’t always get what we want, but the older we get, the more our interests shift.

No justification needed.

A few years ago, one of my regular commenters practically apologized on a regular basis for not traveling in the RV beyond the southeast corner of the United States. Instead of doing the extensive travel that they thought they would do once they moved into the RV fulltime, they found themselves returning to a town along the east coast routinely to visit with their grandsons. Why did she feel a need to justify their travels or lack of distance traveled?

Another blogger/commenter I met made a remark that resonated with me. She and her husband had just spent the previous three months traveling the west and west coast visiting some of America’s most stunning places. When we got together, they’d already been in Colorado for a week and had reservations to spend another two weeks near a different mountain range that they hadn’t yet explored, but they seemed to have lost interest and all they really wanted to do was return ‘home’ to the Gulf Coast.

She said, “I know this may sound bad, but once you’ve visited several beautiful National Parks with jaw-dropping scenery, seeing another mountain range becomes just that, another set of mountains. Of course, still beautiful but less impactful and less interesting“.

They ended up canceling the rest of their Colorado trip and returned to the Gulf Coast. It appears that the law of diminishing return applies to a lot of things including travel … I get it.

Thank you, blog readers and commenters.

I appreciate every single comment left here on my blog and do my best to respond to each and every one. Although I may find some comments perplexing, that doesn’t mean I don’t value them.

As a matter of fact, they can be thought-provoking like the one noted earlier in the post… “haven’t done that much moving around.” Hmm … haven’t done much moving around? I thank that commenter for her thought-provoking words as it has led to some amazing happy hour conversations recently … reminiscing … lots of travel tales and laughs shared. I know the commenter was referring to travel in our RV, but Al and I didn’t purchase the RV with any specific destination goals in mind. After all, we already had a lot of travel experiences behind us.

Did you know Al and I, separately, each lived abroad? Me in Germany and Al in Turkey, Japan, and the Philippines. He and I together and separately have visited Hawaii a dozen times. Al has resided in Alaska, California, Texas, and Florida. Together, we’ve lived in Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona.

There was a time when Florida and St. Thomas were the two warm-weather winter destinations that we visited frequently. We loved snorkeling in the Caribbean so much so that we even traveled with our own snorkeling gear in tow.

campfire
Tales around a campfire!

Here are just a few travel memories discussed recently around the campfire …

  • Regular visits to Clearwater Beach, Florida, and staying on a 40-foot single-hull sailboat owned by friends.
  • Disney World lots of times. Disneyland once.
  • A Jeep excursion on Aruba. Almost got stuck in the sand.
  • Watching the kids ski in the Colorado mountains. We one time lost our 13-year-old daughter for almost 2 hours at Crested Butte when she got off the chairlift and went down the wrong slope. Another time, our kids, beginner skiers, accidentally found themselves on a mogul run at Copper Mountain. We have lots of mountain stories that always bring on tears of laughter when we reminisce.
  • My mom and I took a train from Brussels, Belgium to Munich, Germany. The sights along the Rhine River were spectacular. Another special moment was visiting the Kölner Dom. I realize now, the time spent with my mom is more precious to me than the actual sights I saw during any of our trips together.
  • After a business trip to Calgary, Canada, Al and I reentered the United States near Waterton Lakes and visited Glacier National Park. Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road over Logan Pass was stunning. We spent the night in the back of our SUV in a resort parking lot because there were no vacancies anywhere … hotel or campsite. Guess we’ve been sleeping in parking lots long before we heard the term “boondocking or stealth camping”. Al and I still laugh about our little adventure and our success at avoiding security.
  • We honeymooned in Ontario, Canada. We could’ve flown anywhere in the world for mere pennies, but chose to rent a remote cabin in the woods along the shore of a lake. We love nature and wildlife and all things outdoors and it was the perfect honeymoon for us!

a woman photographing a pink roseate spoonbill
I’m a lucky gal – I’ve enjoyed some amazing experiences!

inspiration, happiness, quote, Dalai Lama quote, Pinterest PinHmm, haven’t done that much moving around?

I have so many amazing travel adventures that this list could get very very long. I’m so fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout my life, not only in the RV but also during my airline days; travel tales that I’ve never shared on this blog.

Snippets of life … I used to hop on a plane first thing in the morning in Chicago and fly to Boston for the day to pick up fresh lobster or fly to New York City for a day of shopping.

I’ve been to Philidelphia and embraced history by visiting the Liberty Bell and other historical sites. I’ve seen the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom in Washington D.C.

I’ve gotten drunk while strolling the French Quarter in New Orleans and I’ve visited Minneapolis in the dead of winter with a minus 50 degree below F wind chill factor.

Who would’ve thought I would taste some of the yummiest pizza in Lincoln, Nebraska? Or finally find that matching cookware tea kettle in a shop in Topeka, Kansas, after scouring stores throughout Chicagoland and NYC to no avail?

Aside from Al going on a fishing excursion on the Columbia River, the Pacific Northwest remains an area of the United States that we have yet to explore. Is it still on my list of places I’d like to visit? Of course, it is, but I’m left with weighing out travel priorities. Do I spend time with family having our own little adventures or do I travel to new territory?

For now, my priorities lie with spending time with loved ones and revisiting familiar places that feel like home. These past two summers have been spent with family on private property located near a place I used to vacation as a child. It has felt like coming home. I feel a sense of calm and contentment that I haven’t felt in years.

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” —George Santayana

So although I haven’t lost my interest in traveling to new destinations, for now, the shuttle between summers in Wisconsin and winters in Arizona is exactly what we need, what we want. Which goes to show, there’s no right or wrong way to RV travel. It’s whatever makes you happy!

What about you? Are you a homebody or is travel an integral part of your life? Is it about the number of places visited or about the kind of memories created?

A Broken Tooth and Derailed Plans

It’s 110 (bleeping) degrees Fahrenheit outside today without a cloud in the sky. It’s hot! Who would’ve thought Al and I would still be sitting in Phoenix, Arizona during the first week in June? Certainly not I. Thank goodness we have a flexible mindset and were able to readjust our plans after this most recent delay.

But it’s fricken hot 🥵 No sugar coating it by saying it’s a dry heat. Even an oven is a dry heat. Oh well, this ain’t our first rodeo experiencing extreme desert heat. We lived in Las Vegas, Nevada in the nineties. You learn to adjust.

a flowering saguaro cactus with a mountain backdrop

Our initial plan was to depart Phoenix in mid-May and point the RV toward Wisconsin, but a few things happened that derailed those plans. First and foremost is that nasty virus that shut the country down … shut the world down. We wanted to wait for some level of normalcy to return (even just a glimmer) before we hit the road.

In reality, we didn’t mind changing our departure date until after Memorial Day Weekend because one of Al’s sister’s recently (April) moved to Phoenix. We were enjoying visits with her and her husband and assisting any way we could as they settled into their new home. So a couple of extra weeks in the valley spent with family would actually be fun.

a bird with a quizzical look on a saguaro cactus

Extending our stay turned out to be a good thing, a very good thing, as I encountered a potential little hiccup in my health. A couple of medical tests later followed by a teleconference with my doctor and we were once again good to go and set a new departure date. (I’m fine BTW)

The truck was ready. The RV was ready. Al and I were ready, and after one final gathering with the family to say our goodbyes, we’d be hitting the road a couple of days later, or so we thought. The day prior to rolling, Al lost a crown while eating a relatively light lunch. No peanut brittle involved. Well, he didn’t exactly lose it, it ended up in his hand instead of being securely attached to the tooth in his mouth.

Poor Al! However, after three uncomfortable hours in the dental chair enduring some major work, he’s doing great and currently waiting on the permanent crown to be ready for installation. Turns out, that old crown and root canal were most likely older than the dentist. Now that’ll make ya feel old! 😆 So obviously, that tooth was something that needed to be taken care of before traveling and we’re glad we were still in the valley when the crown fell out.

saguaro cactus flower

As soon as Al gets his new crown installed, my crowned king and I will be hitting the road. Fingers crossed 🤞 we won’t encounter any more faux pas. We’ve already encountered one too many for my taste!

Happy trails!

Trip Planning & Favorite Apps

Trip Planning & Favorite Apps

What do you do when it’s 105 degrees Fahrenheit outside without a cloud in the sky? You stay hunkered down inside the RV with the air-conditioner blaring and do some serious trip planning. Yep, it is definitely time to head north in search of cooler weather. With this year’s Phoenix high temps arriving early and some days soaring well over ten degrees higher than normal, it’s beginning to make a Wisconsin forest infested with man-eating mosquitos look pretty darn inviting. I can hear the buzzing now!

Between COVID and the soaring temps, the interior of my RV is beginning to feel more like a rubber room with a crazy lady holed up inside instead of the free-wheeling vessel of months past. Ah, this too shall pass … soon I hope 🤪

So with a clear date in mind (well, kinda) to finally hit the road and point the RV in a northeasterly trajectory, Al and I pull up Google maps and start discussing the route and timeline for our 1,900-mile journey to the north woods of Wisconsin. This year, we won’t be doing any dilly-dallying along the way. Instead, we’ll focus on the destination and keep the wheels rolling and see if we’re up to some long driving days.

We always have several plans in mind with lots of flexibility built-in. Research is the key to any successful road trip whether it’s via RV or automobile. With a trusty pen and notepad in hand, ideas, mileage, and stops are quickly jotted down.

Favorite Apps for RV trip planning

I have a few apps that I really like that aid us in our trip planning. Some of which, I use more than others. The two apps that I find myself using most frequently, especially while on the road, are Allstays Camp & RV  ($9.99 one time fee) as well as GasBuddy (free).

My favorite feature about the Allstays Camp & RV app is their map. I can zoom in on any given location and find just about anything that’s relevant to my travel day including low bridges. Yeah, when the RV measures out to be 12’6″ tall, we obviously like to avoid bridges under 13′ high and the Allstays app notes those low bridges. Since we mostly stick to main roads and interstates, we’re usually going over and not under these low bridges, thus not too much of a concern. BUT it’s wise not to be surprised!

Gas Buddy AppI know a lot of RVers use a GPS specifically geared toward RVing and trucking. We don’t and only occasionally use our basic Garmin (an old GPS at that). I much prefer to navigate myself via a map. The GPS, named Hildi, has lead us astray more than once. So I don’t always trust her and like to back her up with a paper map and my iPhone.

I also enjoy all the other info noted right on the map including rest stops, Walmarts, Propane (LP), campgrounds, RV Parks, etc.

Although the Allstays app notes diesel gas stations (predominantly truck stops), I prefer using the app called GasBuddy when searching for filling options. Not only does the app list gas stations and addresses near your location, but also, up to date pricing.

We aren’t necessarily price based diesel shoppers, meaning we’re not always looking for the cheapest fuel, but it is nice to know what price to expect before pulling into any given gas station.

When it comes to diesel fuel, going the cheap route will almost always cost you more down the road via maintenance. Yep, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt … expensive lessons learned. I’d recommend talking to your favorite diesel mechanic about what to consider when fueling up.

Apps for finding camping options

When it comes to finding places to stay, I usually start with Allstays because I’m already on the app map, and then I jump over to Campendium (free). The Campendium website was developed over eight(?) years ago by a full-time RVing couple. So they live the RV life, are knowledgeable, and know how to serve the RV community.

I was actually one of their Beta Testers back in their infancy and used to post campground reviews on the site regularly, but since our style of RVing has changed over the past few years, I haven’t engaged on the platform for quite some time, but I still use it routinely for research and ideas.

Campendium is most helpful for finding boondocking/off-grid camping. I especially like the reviews written by fellow RVers and the links to blogs/vlogs providing additional information.

iOverlander (free) is another good app for boondocking/free camping.

The newest app that I just started playing around with is called The Dyrt. I’m still learning the ins and outs and looking into their trip planning feature ($29.99 a year). I’ll let you know what I think.

Saying goodbyes

So with our trip planning pretty much accomplished, we’re spending this Memorial Day Weekend hanging with family and saying our goodbyes. It’s always bittersweet for me. On one hand, I’m excited to get the wheels on the RV rolling, after all, that is why we live the RV lifestyle, and on the other hand, I’m sad to bid farewell to family and friends. But adventure awaits, and I remind myself, 4-5 months down the road, we’ll be returning to our home base back here at the RV Park in Phoenix, Arizona. But today … lake life is calling!

How are you spending your summer? Are you going anywhere exciting or opting for a staycation?

Life is about the moments. Don’t wait for them, create them! – Anthony Robbins

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Encounter with a Game Warden

Encounter with a Game Warden

The RVers were quarantined in their snug little homes, while visions of travel danced in their heads …

“Okay Ingrid, snap out of it”. I do believe the soaring 100 degree plus Fahrenheit temps in Phoenix, Arizona, have caused something to dance in my head, or is it the increase in consumption of brownies and alcohol? 🤫 Staying housebound in a tiny home, aka RV, during the Phoenix hot season is obviously not an ideal scenario.

Weather is temperamental

April is always an interesting month for the weather. The changing of seasons is rarely gradual. When we lived in Colorado, April always found winter making at least one final appearance by dumping a boatload of snow just when we were ready to welcome spring. It’s as if winter is talking to spring and saying, “Ah ah, not so fast”.

But it’s a dry heat! 🤪

It’s somewhat similar here in the desert southwest, but instead of cold, it’s heat. Sometime in April, the weather warns us of the impending summer heat by sending us those soaring hot temps. We’ll get a reprieve (hopefully) before real summer sets in. Last year, we enjoyed lovely weather in May, but so far this first week in May is not looking promising for any kind of break from the soaring temps. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out. Let’s face it, so far 2020 isn’t playing nice. So I don’t have high expectations for anything these days.

With that said, it’s that time of year in the desert southwest when those that can do and those that can’t suffer.

I’m talking about hitting the road and escaping the desert heat. Fortunately, we fall into the lucky category where we get to leave Phoenix for the entire summer.

Others will try and get a reprieve on weekends by traveling either up to northern Arizona or to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona where temperatures can easily drop by at least 20 degrees.

Our plan is to endure the Phoenix weather until the end of May and then hightail it up to northern Wisconsin to stay on Al’s sister’s property. We stayed there last year but took a little over three weeks to drive the 1,900 miles. This time around, Al has fishing on the brain and just wants to get there asap, plus with this whole pandemic thing, it’s probably best not to meander. Beam me up, Scotty!

I don’t think anyone could’ve envisioned something like a pandemic shutting down the country and impacting our freedom to travel, but I think it’ll be okay for us to drive to Al’s sister’s place by the end of May. However, we will be cautious on our drive there and reconsider doing any further excursions this summer once settled on private property. I had a list of places in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula that I wanted to visit, not to mention returning to the north shore of Lake Superior. Time will tell how it’ll all play out this summer!

Guest post

For those of us living a nomadic lifestyle, we’ve had to rethink our travel plans and some nomads have needed to do some serious scrambling just to find suitable accommodations to abide by the ‘stay at home / shelter in place’ orders. Sue and Dave over at Travel Tales of Life have recently written a series of blog posts showcasing folks from around the world and how the pandemic has impacted their lives personally. I was honored to be asked to be a guest writer. You can check out their blog here.

Back to visions dancing in my head

So with visions of Wisconsin dancing in my head, I thought I’d share a lake tale with you …

Reflections in a lake in northern Wisconsin, boat at a dock on a lake

Ingrid and the Game Warden

It was a beautiful summer day in northern Wisconsin. Al had spent the better part of the morning on the boat fishing. After several hours of fishing, he returned home to take a nap.

Considering it was such a lovely day and the lake looked so inviting, while Al napped, I decided to take the boat out. I motored out a short distance to a quiet bay, dropped the anchor, and began reading my book. “Ah, this is the life!”

While turning a page, I glanced up at the approaching boat which appeared to be a Game Warden. He pulls up alongside my boat and says, “Good morning, Ma’am, what are you doing”?

“Reading a book”, I replied, (thinking to myself, “isn’t that obvious”?)
The Game Warden informs me, “You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area”.

In a very polite voice, I responded, “I’m sorry officer, but I’m not fishing, I’m reading”.
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. So, I’ll have to write you up a ticket”.

“For reading a book?”, I asked quizzically.
“You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area, Ma’am”, he says rather matter of factly.

Somewhat exasperated, I stated once again, “Sir, I’m not fishing, I’m reading”.
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I’ll have to write you up a ticket and you’ll have to pay a fine.”

“If you do that, I’ll have to charge you with sexual assault,” I responded.
“But I haven’t even touched you”, explained the Game Warden.
“That’s true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment”.

“Have a nice day ma’am”, he responded and quickly motored away.

campfire
Tales around a campfire!

So maybe this didn’t actually happen in real life, but it could’ve.🤣

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.

I hope you enjoyed a little chuckle and you all are having a great day and staying healthy. And although we may have to rethink our travels and possibly make new plans for the summer, we’ll get through this challenging time and may even discover new hobbies in the process. Cyber hugs!

a canoe on a lake at sunset

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Struggling with Motivation

Struggling with Motivation

Another week, another day! It’s Saturday as I sit in front of my computer staring at a blank screen. I usually put out a blog post every Sunday morning, and at four o’clock Saturday afternoon, I still didn’t have anything ready to post. Oh, I have lots of ideas floating around in my head and even have some blog post drafts with paragraphs already started, but I can’t seem to find the motivation to complete any of them.

Why I’m not motivated

I don’t know about you, but I’m about over it … over this new normal, new reality, new whatever we want to call it. I’m tired of cooking. I want to go out to a restaurant (carry-outs don’t count). I want to be able to go shopping and not just for groceries. I need a new purse. I’d like to visit friends face to face and not just via computer or Facetime. I think we’re all ready for this pandemic to be over especially our heroes on the frontline who are surely exhausted.

Last week my spell check and Grammarly crapped out on my computer and I put out a blog post with a typo in the title. Yep, a typo in the title! 🤦‍♀️ Thank goodness for loyal readers/friends who aren’t afraid to DM me and point out my faux pas. Oh, how embarrassing. I reelly am edumicated.🥴

One way shopping aisle – who would’ve imagined?

This whole new world order has me oscillating from being an efficient, organized, productive human being to a total blob on the couch who can’t remember when she last showered. Thank goodness Al’s allergies are bad and he can’t smell a thing 😆. However, I am living in a desert (Phoenix, Arizona) where water is a precious commodity and should be conserved for the greater good of mankind. Therefore, I’m doing my part to conserve water. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Skylight finally getting replaced. The white duct tape worked wonders on the cracked skylight. Me removing screws.

What I have accomplished

In reality, the past couple of weeks, I’ve cranked out a few projects. So my time hasn’t been totally wasted binging things on TV or the computer. Al and I tackled some RV repairs on the roof. We replaced a skylight and two vents. Those projects were long overdue, but hey, that duct tape worked great until we could get around to replacing the broken items.  Next week, we’ll replace the final vent and get the RV closer to being ready for our summer journey to Wisconsin. That stay at home order better be lifted by June 1st or my RV and I may melt. This week temps in Phoenix will be in the 90’s (Fahrenheit) and by June they’ll be hitting the 100’s. But it’s a dry heat!

I also helped my sister-in-law paint two accent walls in her home. I can’t believe she’s never painted before, but after my excellent tutelage (LOL), she’s ready to tackle her next project; a bedroom. And since she and her husband just moved to Phoenix from Denver and were still waiting on the moving truck to arrive, I fixed them a couple of meals that they could just heat up … pulled pork and a lasagna.

Photo prompt – Mother Nature Earth

So, since my brain can’t seem to focus on writing, I thought I’d join a photo challenge. My friend, Terri, posts a “Sunday Still’s” photo prompt every weekend and this Sunday the theme is Mother Nature. Okay, I even read Terri’s prompt incorrectly. It should be Mother Earth and not Mother Nature. Yeah, my mind is total moosh lately. With that said, My first thoughts for the prompt were images of weather. As a full-time RVer and traveler, I’m well acquainted with Mother Nature’s diverse personality when it comes to weather, but lately, certain parts of the U.S. have experienced her wrath. Thus, I’ll turn my focus elsewhere.

desert image

Mother Nature can be defined as caring, nurturing, and life-giving and with that in mind, I’ve decided to share images of flowers which is perfect for the Mother Earth theme. After all, flowers need care, nurturing, and grow in the earth. Besides, they make me smile and we could all use a few extra smiles these days.

And be sure and check out my partner in crime, Teri over at Images by T. Dashfield. She takes amazing floral images and I’m counting on her to provide me with a tulip fix. Oh, how I adore tulips! Keep those photos coming, Teri aka Macro Queen 😀

How did your week go? (Grrr, my spell check still won’t work right. All I get is a red line indicating it’s wrong and no help to correct it. And trust me, I need all the help I can get.)

Every day you have a decision to make …Will you give up, give in, or give it your all?

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Dealing with Fear & Anxiety

Dealing with Fear & Anxiety

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

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

orange flowers

Stay Home, Stay Safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Actionable Tips to deal with fear and anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hiking trail in Phoenix

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

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

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

My signature

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Bartering for Toilet Paper

Bartering for Toilet Paper

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

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

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

Yellow poppies in a field

Dealing with a Pandemic

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

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

purple flowers and a bee in flight

Finding humor in a non-humorous moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RV Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a little white church in a desert landscape

Stocked up

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

Adding a little levity

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

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

think safety sign

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Bounce Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets, Outdoor Fresh
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Bath and Body Works Summer Collection – Foaming Hand Soaps