Celebrations & Catching the Big One

Celebrations & Catching the Big One

Some weeks are more eventful than others, and this past week was one for the books. First, three out of the four of us celebrated a birthday. So of course, there had to be festivities.

And what’s a birthday celebration without plenty of tasty food and fine spirits to toast to another year?

Fine food and drinks

I’m not sure where the time has gone, but all four of us fall into that “senior” category and considered to be in the last quarter of our lives. Eek! That sounds eerie, doesn’t it? So when ya put it into that light, we might as well live it up and throw any thought of diet or restrictions out the window. Right? Bring it on!

Inspiration

Despite all the negative happenings centered around 2020, Al and I have been enjoying a fantastic summer staying on family property, and having a ‘real’ house at our disposal.

mist on a lake with lily pads in the foregroundA real kitchen, a real shower, and a big-screen TV with cable have been huge bonuses.

I’ve been able to watch the Food Network to my heart’s desire which has led to lots of experiments in the kitchen … in both the RV and the sister’s house.

Some recipes have turned out better than others, but there hasn’t been any out and out fails.

There’s something about watching one of my favorite personalities cook (or bake) that inspires me to get in my own kitchen. Believe me, I need all the motivation I can get!

Oh, and I’ve been banned from watching HGTV after trying to talk my husband into doing a complete remodel on the RV … back to that inspiration thing. ūü•ī Little does he know, there’s still Pinterest and Instagram that keep those remodeling ideas alive in my head. Shh, that’ll be our secret!

With new-found cooking inspiration, for Steve’s big day (Al’s sister’s husband), I made filet mignon cooked to perfection in a cast-iron skillet, a Ceasar salad made with homemade dressing, and a side of my version of focaccia bread. Dessert consisted of my favorite chocolate cupcakes drizzled with chocolate liqueur and whip cream. Yum!

While I made a fantastic meal and dessert for my brother-in-law’s birthday, we went out to brunch to celebrate my own birthday. Over the river creek and through the woods, we arrived at the Garmisch Inn located along the shores of Lake Namekagon. Good food, great view, wonderful company … a gal can’t ask for much more!

The fun didn’t end with brunch. The weather was perfect for a boat ride. So when we returned home, we hopped on the pontoon boat for a spin around the lakes and a little fresh air and sunshine. Later in the day, I made my favorite Sloppy Joe’s and Margarita’s, followed by more Margarita’s around a campfire.¬† #LifeisGood

The third birthday occurred at the end of the week. The festivities continued as we celebrated Al’s sister’s birthday. We started off the day with a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, cinnamon toast, and Bloody Mary’s followed by a boat ride. For an early dinner, I made Chicken Marsala, Buttered Egg Noodles, Ceasar Salad (by request), and herb topped dinner rolls. Al popped the cork on some sparkling Prosecco as we toasted to another year and another great summer spent hanging out together.

The day was topped off around a toasty campfire while indulging in my homemade apple crisp and spiked hot cocoa. We are definitely into fall weather. So the hot chocolate was the perfect way to end a great day.

Catching the Big One

Birthday cheers … eating, drinking, boating, and campfires weren’t the only events of the week. Although Al and Steve get out on Teal Lake fishing regularly and do routinely catch fish, they recently enjoyed a very special and rare fishing outing.

My husband had a once in a lifetime experience earlier in the week during an evening of fishing. He caught his biggest fish ever; a 42 inch, 24 pound, Musky. Al is still beaming. According to fishing guide Steve, aka brother-in-law, this Musky was trophy size (especially for this small Hayward lake) and many an angler spends a lifetime trying to catch such a Musky. For the serious and tournament anglers, they choose to try their Musky luck on Wisconsin’s third-largest lake located a mere fifteen minutes away from the family property; Lake Chippewa Flowage.

Al catches a trophy size Musky

And this was Al’s first-time Musky fishing. Beginners luck! Al usually focuses on fishing for Bass, Walleye, or Crappie… the good eating fish. He has never been one to trophy fish.

Happy Birthday to me and congratulations to Al.

So what does one do when they catch such a fish as a Musky? You snap lots of photos, take measurements, and do so quickly. Then you gently lower this freshwater shark back into the water and massage/revive the fish.

Once he starts fighting and you know he’s fine, you let him loose. “Be safe Mr. Musky and go make more Musky’s”.

These days, you never ever keep the fish. First, Musky doesn’t taste good, and second, for those wanting the wall hanger, you provide a taxidermist with the measurements and photos and a plastic replica is made.

If an angler did show up at a taxidermist with the real fish, the angler would be thoroughly chastised for his selfish stupidity. “Not cool, dude. It’s catch and release“. BTW – there won’t be any wall hanger in this RV, and that’s okay. Al is quite content with his Musky photo screen saver.

The summer is wrapping up!

With the cool air blowing in and the leaves beginning to change color, it’s time for Al and me to think about our migration south. But not so fast! I have my camera batteries charged and waiting at the ready for fall colors. I have a few day trips planned to capture that beautiful autumn foliage … fingers crossed! ūü§ě

For my birthday, I received more cooking inspiration. These are¬†affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support‚̧.

Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime – Comfort Classics
Porcelain Tea Pot – Loose Leaf Teapot

Unspoiled Beauty – Apostle Islands

Unspoiled Beauty – Apostle Islands

After a very stormy night, we awoke to an eerily calm, fog-covered morning. Lake Superior’s water was as smooth as glass; a rare treat to behold. Even though the campground is located on Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay, creating some protection from the open waters of this Great Lake, a mere few hours earlier, she was showing her true personality with large whitecaps, waves crashing over the shoreline, and ominous clouds swirling overhead. Lake Superior is a force that demands respect.

As we sat in the comfort of the RV enjoying the view while sipping our morning coffee, Al and I discussed the plan for the day. There was still a heavy layer of cloud cover blocking any sight of the sun rising. Thus, when I suggested we take a scenic cruise of the Apostle Islands, Al thought I wasn’t thinking clearly and proceeded to fill my coffee cup in hopes more caffeine would improve my logic.

I was serious though and thought the day would be perfect for a three-hour Apostle Island cruise on Lake Superior, not that I didn’t have my doubts considering how the visibility was currently poor and the overall feel was very gloomy.

Kreher Campground
Our view of Chequamegon Bay from the RV. Lakefront site at Kreher Campground in Ashland, Wisconsin

Visiting the Apostle Islands had been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved looking at maps and am intrigued about places the more I study a map. That little passion of mine has lead us to explore some beautiful locations and this part of northern Wisconsin fits that bill.

As many times as we’ve driven along Lake Superior’s Northshore, her south shore eluded us until the summer of 2019. And believe me, she did not disappoint … Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands

Visiting the Apostle Islands

The picturesque little town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, is the gateway to this national lakeshore. The Apostle Islands consists of 22 coastal islands in Lake Superior that feature lighthouses, sea caves, hiking trails, camping, sailing, and amazing kayaking. It’s said that the area offers some of the best kayaking in the world allowing kayakers to weave in and out of dramatic archways of sea caves.

Tent camping is allowed on several of the islands, but you’ll need to hire a water taxi if you don’t have your own watercraft. There is a vehicle ferry available for visitors interested in touring or camping on Madeline Island. Voted as one of the coolest small towns in the U.S., this Apostle Island is not technically part of the national lakeshore but worthy of a mention. (Personally, I feel¬†the ferry is a tad pricey. Vehicle price is based on length with an additional per person charge.)

During the winter when the waters along the lakeshore freeze over, hikers are able to hike to these ice caves that are adorned with windswept icicles. Although northern Wisconsin winters are no longer something I feel a need to experience, I might change my mind in order to photograph these ice caves. It looks like a really stunning sight and adventure.

(In reality, I’ll stick to viewing pretty images of that winter wonderland from the comfort of my desert located RV. I don’t think I could handle the thirty plus below wind chill conditions anymore ūü•∂ I’m definitely out of practice.)

Our Tour boat!

Cruising the Apostle Islands

Visiting the town of Bayfield is enjoyable, but in order to really see the beauty of the National Lakeshore, you’ll need to get out on the water. Apostle Islands Cruises offers a nice variety of tours to choose from. We loved our cruise and would definitely recommend.

During our visit in the summer of 2019, we chose to take the Sea Caves and Lighthouse Tour. I was really looking forward to taking another one of their cruises this summer, specifically the Lighthouse Tour, but the cruise company ended up canceling that specific tour during the 2020 season in order to accommodate Covid-19 safety guidelines, and thus, tours and schedules were rearranged.

Things to be aware of when cruising on Lake Superior …

  • Temperature – don’t dress for land, dress for the ‘sea’. Temps can be as much as 20 degrees colder once your away from land and the weather can change drastically in mere minutes. Thus, bring a sweatshirt and/or raincoat regardless of what the weather is like on land.
  • Open Water – the lake can get rough. Even though this is a lake, view it as a sea.
  • Wind – we enjoyed sitting on the top deck, but it’s windy as all heck and the wind is always cold. All that wind makes for great sailing though.
  • Camera and info – it’s beautiful so plan on taking lots of photos, and the captain shares fascinating information on the islands and happenings.
Raspberry Island Lighthouse on Lake Superior, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Raspberry Island Lighthouse – Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Lighthouses

The lighthouse on Raspberry Island has long been known as the Showplace of the Apostle Islands. At scheduled times, the Park Service provides a narrated historical dramatization to tourists. In addition to the lighthouse, boaters often anchor about a mile away along Raspberry Island’s shoreline at one of the more scenic sand spits in the Apostle Islands, and hikers who arrive by boat can follow the trail between the lighthouse and the sandspit to explore.

Sand Island Lighthouse
A kayaker’s delight!

Perfect Day

We couldn’t have picked a better day for our tour. Since the morning’s weather was gloomy, misty, and less than optimal for a three-hour scenic cruise, our boat was barely half full that afternoon. Glancing at the sky while boarding the boat, there visually appeared to be more weather rolling in, but according to my weather app radar, it was looking good. The captain concurred that we should have a lovely day for a boat ride.

And what a lovely August afternoon it was! Aside from Captain Mike’s informative narration, he interjected his excitement regarding the rare optimal lake conditions as well as personal lake life tales and experiences. He hails from a generational seafaring family and his passion and love for Lake Superior and the Bayfield Pennisula was obvious.

He and his crew appeared to be enjoying their time out on the lake every bit as much as the passengers considering we were all experiencing a rare treata very calm Lake Superior.

According to Captain Mike, the lake is rarely that calm … happens maybe ten or twelve times a year… a year … and we were fortunate to have experienced it. The afternoon weather was gorgeous combined with the calmness of the lake made for a magical day. I don’t think we could repeat those conditions even if we tried. Luck was definitely on our side that day. A bucket list memory for the books! ‚õĶūüėé‚̧

Where to stay!

The charming town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, offers a unique variety of accommodations; small hotels, historical Bed and Breakfasts, and vacation rentals. The nearby towns of Washburn and Ashland offer additional lodging options.

RVing – There’s a variety of places to camp throughout the Bayfield Peninsula. We stayed in Ashland at the Kreher Campground which is a first-come-first-serve campground and is big rig friendly. Our second choice would have been at the town campground in Herbster purely for the sunsets. The Herbster Campground is also a great spot to stay if your goal is kayaking the sea caves which are accessed via Meyers Beach in Cornucopia. FYI –¬†kayaking tours start in Cornucopia.

We also checked out the county campground in Washburn, and although workable, we thought the sites were pretty close together and the abundance of trees with low branches could be problematic. This CG is better suited for travel trailers, Class C’s, and tents, although we did see a couple of 5th wheels.

The Legendary Waters Casino in Red Cliff is an option for larger RVs, but expect close neighbors and unlevel sites, but the beautiful views might make up for the cons. The national forest campgrounds that we drove through we’d consider best suited for tents, vans, or popup trailers.

Obviously, we weren’t able to explore all the camping facilities in the area. So, for additional RVing options and more detailed information, please check with your favorite app. Our favorite apps are Allstays and Campendium. Happy trails!

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — Mark Twain

Bayfield, Wisconsin

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A Week in the Life

A Week in the Life

My daughter flew into town last week (July 25th) for some fun at the lake. She had two goals on her list that she wanted to accomplish during her vacation visit. One was fishing with her dad … a first. And two was blueberry picking with her mom (me), another first.

During her visit to northern Wisconsin last year, she arrived at the end of the blueberry season which she found a little disappointing. So, she made sure to schedule this trip with the blueberry season in mind and she wasn’t disappointed.

blueberry picking in northern Wisconsin

Where to go blueberry picking.

Bayfield, Wisconsin, is famously known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, but it’s also considered the Berry Capital of the state. Bayfield‚Äôs local agriculture produces some of the largest crops of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in the Midwest. The rolling hills, lush vegetation, and beautiful Lake Superior shoreline make visiting this part of northern Wisconsin well worth the out of the way drive.

a hand picking blueberries

Mid-week, Ashton and I hopped in the truck and took the hour and a half drive up to Bayfield for a morning of blueberry picking. I took her to my favorite fruit farm; Blue Vista Farm. I’m in love with this property and barn and try to visit at least a couple of times each summer.

Blue Vista Farm, Bayfield, Wisconsin

The weather was gorgeous and the bushes were covered in berries and ripe for the picking. We picked lots of blueberries. Quite frankly, more than I’d have room for in the RV. Thank goodness my sister-in-law has an extra freezer for us to use. However, Ashton was quick to check with me that I’d have plenty of room in my little RV freezer to haul her five pounds of freshly picked berries back to Phoenix on our return this fall. I assured her that my Tetris skills were such that that wouldn’t be a problem.

young gal fishing on a pristine lake

Fishing with her dad

Ashton bought a four-day fishing license and certainly made the most of it. She and Al along with Al’s brother-in-law had their fishing poles in the water regularly. There were some successes and some failures, but enjoyable moments for sure. Ashton had a great time fishing and already looks forward to doing it again. However, she’d prefer daddy to handle any fish she catches ūüėéūüźüūüé£ They feel slimy, ya know!

During the middle of the day when the weather was too warm for fishing, we’d take the boat out for a ride and sometimes pull up to an island and splash in the water.

Other times, we were in the mood to paddle. Al and I will occasionally take the canoe out … something he and I hadn’t done in many, many years. This year, I kayaked for the first time and immediately fell in love with it. Hmm, do you think I can talk him into getting kayaks when we’re back in Phoenix?

Me in the kayak and Ashton on the SUP

Wildlife sightings!

In addition to all the fun activities we did during the week, Ashton also saw some wildlife. Of course, while visiting this part of the country, my favorite sightings and sounds are the Loons. I haven’t been able to capture any nice photos of them this year, but I was thrilled, as were Ashton and Al, with seeing this Loon family.

We’ve also seen two nesting bald eagle families at opposite ends of the lake. All I can say is those juvenile eagles sure do squawk a lot. And I thought a colicky baby was bad ūü•ī

Mama eagle didn’t like us paddling in her territory. She had some fishing to do considering baby eagle kept squawking and wanted to be fed.

We also saw a deer swim, a coyote swim, an otter with a fish in its mouth swim by the boat along with several Great Blue Heron sightings.

Great Blue Heron in flight

It was a fun week … over way too soon. We lucked out with fantastic weather during Ashton’s visit and another first for her was taking a boat to go out to dinner. One of the resorts on the lake serves up a great burger and onion rings. Why take the truck out to dinner when you can take the boat?

We drove Ashton back to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport yesterday and bid her farewell. We already miss her. And now it’s back to lake life as usual.

Despite all the restrictions, I hope you’re enjoying your summer as much as we are and that you’re able to spend a little time with family. We all need moments with our loved ones, especially these days.

 

Adventures at the Arizona – Utah border

What started off as a one to two-week visit to Page, Arizona, ended up turning into four weeks. Yep, an entire month! Changing our travel itinerary on a whim is a wonderful thing and since we didn’t have our next RV Park reservation until May 1st, we took full advantage of the freedom to roll at will.

cairn

After a month of exploring around the Lake Powell / Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in northern Arizona and southern Utah, one might think we’d seen it all, but such is not the case. Although, we did manage to see and do a bunch of things, I know there’s still much more to discover. Guess that means we have to come back!

Our first week whizzed by as our adventures were shared with friends. We hiked a slot canyon with friends. We enjoyed a back road 4×4 excursion¬†with friends, and we also spent a week boondocking with friends. Sharing our adventures made our time in the area that much more enjoyable and entertaining. That week was filled with hikes, campfires, laughs,¬†and beautiful scenery.

Lone Rock Beach
Lone Rock Beach

Camping with friends

Al and I arrived to the Lone Rock Beach area a couple of days ahead of our friends which gave us the opportunity to scope out the lay of the land.

Once our friends arrived, the four of us found a level spot to call home for the week.¬†Faye and I began to gather rocks and set about building a fire ring. I recall there being a lot of laughter, especially when she and I decided to build some trail cairns to aid Dave in finding his way back to the RV from the campfire¬†ūü§£

cairns

Our friend Mona Liza had heard about our antics and expressed concern. Not to worry Mona, we broke no rules gathering the rocks and no rocks were harmed for the sake of our entertainment. All rocks were later returned to their original home ….¬†leave no trace¬†ūüėĀ

Unfortunately, our friends had a travel schedule planned and after a week they moved on leaving Al and me to our own devices. No problem …. I had formulated a list of things to see and do over the coming weeks.

Dining at Lake Powell

Our first stop was the Antelope Point Marina.¬† Al and I enjoyed a very tasty lunch at the recently opened J√°di To’oh Restaurant. Great atmosphere and good food. After lunch, we walked the docks looking at boats … boats or yachts?

Yeah, some of these boats were huge and Al and I had fun visualizing the owners, or most likely companies, that own these floating beauties. Walking up and down the docks served as a great way to not only entertain us, but also get in some exercise.

Next up, was a visit to the Wahweap Marina and the Lake Powell Resort. The views from the resort are beautiful and I would highly recommend a visit here. Al and I stopped by for happy hour and enjoyed drinks and a sandwich in the bar area.

But the dining room …. oh my, what a view! I’d venture to say, it might be worthwhile enjoying breakfast or dinner here in the Rainbow Room¬†(no lunch service). I can’t speak for the food or service, but those views are amazing.

While strolling around the Lake Powell Resort, we stumbled upon a wedding. Wow! What a great spot to get married. “Hey honey, wanna renew our vows?”

Hiking, hiking and more hiking

What can I say about the hiking possibilities around northern Arizona and southern Utah? …. Toadstools, slot canyons, mini waves, a rim trail, a hanging garden, and Horseshoe Bend …. and those are just the few trails we hiked. There’s many more.

Hiking a slot canyon in northern ArizonaWhen it comes to hiking, the slot canyons around here are the crème de la crème and a photographers delight. Folks from around the world travel here to experience one of these slots РAntelope Canyon being the most popular. Since the majority of these slot canyons are located on Navajo Indian land, permits and/or guides are required.

We hiked two slot canyons during our stay in Page. First was the Waterholes Canyon and second was Wire Pass Canyon. Both canyons had obstacles to negotiate, and this is when team work came in handy for me. I could not have hiked either canyon by myself, but I did discover several non slot canyon hikes that are easily doable solo.

New Wave trail – The newest trail around Page, Arizona, is what’s called the New Wave¬†and although it doesn’t come close to the real Wave, these¬†mini waves¬†are made up of the same Navajo sandstone with extensive fine detailing and cross bedding.

Rimview trail –¬†This 10 mile scenic Rim Trail loops around the town of Page. Hikers and bikers can access the trail at any number of locations.¬† I hiked this trail several times during my visit, BUT fear not, I never completed that ten mile loop. Nope, not me! Instead, I made my own much shorter hike. I parked at a small parking area near the¬† Lake View Primary School, and by hiking this northern section of the trail, I was able to take in the sparkling blue waters of Lake Powell below me.

Horseshoe Bend overlook – No trip to northern Arizona would be complete without a visit to the Horseshoe Bend overlook, but be forewarned, it’s a crowded tourist attraction that brings in bus loads of people from around the world …. literally, tour buses filled with tourists.

I was lucky to visit during a lull in tourism – spring break was over and ‘the season’ hadn’t yet begun. During spring break, I saw the line of traffic stretch dangerously down Highway 89 and there was no way I was going to join those masses. Currently construction is underway to improve access and parking.

The hike to the overlook is about 3/4 of a mile one way in a sometimes sandy trail and is uphill on the return to the parking lot.

Hanging Garden Trail – This is another short and easy hike not far from the Carl Hayden visitor center (Dam). The trail leads to an interesting rock overhang where vegetation grows out of the rock, but the real fun here begins with a little off trail exploring. Fascinating, perplexing and colorful rock abound with more wave like action.

Scenic drives

If hiking isn’t your thing, how about a scenic drive? We enjoyed two back country 4×4 excursions. Our first outing was to the most amazing scenic overlook known as Alstrom Point, and second was a drive via¬†Cottonwood Road through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

We didn’t need four-wheel drive on either excursion, but found the high clearance on the Toyota Tacoma was helpful, even though not necessary. Also, the weather was very agreeable for both excursions … meaning it hadn’t rained in quite sometime and the ground was extremely dry.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Without the Glen Canyon Dam there would be no Lake Powell, and Lake Powell is obviously the star of northern Arizona, and the Grand Canyon, of course. The Carl Hayden Visit Center is perched on a ledge overlooking the Glen Canyon Dam and the waters of Lake Powell and the Colorado River.

The visitor center is a great place to stop and gather local information, pick up a trail map, take a tour of the dam, or walk the Glen Canyon bridge. Walking across the bridge to take in the sight is a must do, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the bridge vibrating when semi-trucks crossed ūüėģ¬†The bridge and the dam are an engineering marvel, especially amongst such challenging terrain.

Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado River

The above photograph was taken at a scenic overlook located on Scenic View Road near the Wingate, Baymont Inn and Sleep Inn. The overlook requires a short downhill stroll over sandy slick rock. For the more adventurous, hike around the ledges and bluffs for impressive views in all directions.

Lodging in Page

There’s no shortage of hotels around Page with more being built to accommodate the influx of tourism. However, there is a shortage of available RV parking (in my opinion) especially on weekends which is why many end up boondocking out at Lone Rock Beach or Wallie-docking at the local Walmart.

If money is no object, consider staying at the exclusive Amangiri Resort. No lookie- loos allowed beyond the gate …. sorry, I tried. Perhaps, it’s understandable that if guests are paying upwards of $3,000 a night, that they’d like their privacy. Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t allow this hiking clad RVer into their luxury abode for photo-ops¬†ūüėŹ¬†I don’t think they believed me when I told them my Louboutin’s were back at the RV ūüφūü§£

Fenced out ūüėē

Time to move on …

After having more fun in Page – northern Arizona, than we ever imagined, the time has come for us to lift the jacks and move on. It’s what RVers do ūü§ó It was a memorable visit …. one we hope to repeat!

 

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Portable Propane Outdoor Campfire

Goodbye Lake Havasu

After almost three months of hanging around Lake Havasu City, Arizona, the itch to roll became too strong to ignore. So today we said goodbye to Lake Havasu City. We’ve hitched up and the wheels are rolling in search of new scenery. However, we won’t be venturing too far from the Colorado River. We’re actually going from one man-made Colorado River lake to another.

sunset at Lake Havasu
The sunsets are always beautiful!

When jello jiggles

lighthouseWe’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Lake Havasu City. It was never our plan to visit western Arizona this winter, but when hurricane Harvey hit our favorite Texas Gulf Coast town square in the middle¬† …. well, let’s just say the jello jiggled ¬†and we were onto plan B.

When an RVer says, “Our plans are written in jello“, they basically mean their travel itinerary is flexible, ever-changing and not firm. Your lesson for the day on RVing jargon ūü§£

Once our friends,¬†the one’s we met last summer in Prescott, heard we weren’t going to Texas, they encouraged us to come spend some time with them on their property in Lake Havasu City (sure, twist my arm).They were eager to share their town with us and show us why they love living in Havasu.

When Al and I sold our Colorado home on a whim five years ago, we thought we’d only be doing this full-time RVing thing for a year or two. Thus, we’re always looking at real estate, especially me. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Hey, you can’t take the home builder/realtor out of me just because I live in an RV. I still love architecture and home design.

golf course
Golf is popular in Lake Havasu City

With that said, our search to find a new home base started the minute we sold that last house. But if we’re being honest here, this RVing gig is kind of addictive and the thought of putting down roots in one¬†location usually finds us hitching up and rolling before putting any ink to paper. To say we can’t (don’t want to) make a commitment would be an understatement.

float plane

We feel very fortunate to have stayed and explored some beautiful parts of this country, and when we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in an area, we think about the possibility of a¬†home base. That certainly doesn’t mean we’d ever give up RVing. Nope, we enjoy RVing way too much to stop anytime soon!

What we like about Lake Havasu City

For starters, there’s a lake here along with a ton of other recreational opportunities. All that recreation makes for a great destination for a variety of people. During winter months, the town attracts retirees from colder regions around the U.S. and Canada. During spring months, the community fills with university students on spring break.

Whatever hobbies or interests you may have, it’s most likely happening around here. There are all kinds of activities available for all ages. There are clubs to join for those living here and festivals to attend for locals and tourists alike.

If you enjoy gambling, there are a bunch of casinos up and down the Colorado River and many offer live entertainment including top name talent.

A variety of competitions take place in Lake Havasu City. Just a few of the events include the International World Jet Ski Races, a pyrotechnics convention, a speedway, professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, charity events, a balloon festival, and more.

Toys, toys, and more toys! It’s all about the toys around Lake Havasu City …. Boats – you’ll see¬†everything from¬†kayaks to jet boats and everything in between. Cars¬†–¬†hot rods, sports cars, old cars.¬†4×4’s¬†–¬†Jeep’s, ATV’s, UTV’s. Aircrafts¬†– large and small.¬†RVs of¬†all shapes and sizes¬†with plenty of RV parks, state parks and boondocks to camp.

Weather РFrom October to April the weather is wonderful and perfect for outdoor activities. The mild winter weather is a snowbirders delight.

A regular part of our day included a three-mile out and back walk along the Bridgewater Channel. Al and I would start our walk at Rotary Park and walk under the iconic London Bridge and turn around at the Lake Havasu State Park. Hiking the stairs at the London Bridge became part of daily exercise routine.

Bridgewater Channel
walking along the Bridgewater Channel is a popular activity

Housing and property taxes are relatively affordable and most lots have room to park those toys. There are some great hiking trails at the south end of town at Sara Park, and where there’s water, there are birds. So even though I didn’t get a chance to do my usual bird photography along the Gulf Coast this winter, I still managed to capture a few bird photos along the shores of Lake Havasu.

lighthouses of Lake Havasu City

Location – the location is great for connecting with like-minded folks. We kept very social¬†during our stay, not only with our Havasu friends¬†and their friends, but with other RVers. With Quartzsite only an hours drive to the south and Laughlin an hour to the north, there’s always someone passing through or stopping in Lake Havasu City.

Our latest meet up was with Debbie and Steve when they spent a week in the area. Then a week later when Al and I needed to make a Sam’s Club run up to Bullhead City, we reconnected not only with them but also with their friends.

RVers meet up at Bubba Gumps in Laughlin, NV. We meet some of Steve and Debbie’s friends. From left to right – Craig, Steve, Debbie, Al, me, Steve Dianne, Jo

The downside to Lake Havasu City

Weather is not only a huge plus half the year, it’s also a negative. Summer gets hot around here. Lake Havasu City is lower in elevation than Phoenix, Arizona, which means summertime temperatures soar into the 100 degree Fahrenheit range regularly. Lake Havasu City holds the all-time record high temperature in Arizona history with 128¬†¬įF recorded on June 29, 1994. However, on December 31, 2014, snow actually fell on the town.

The desert landscape around here is rather barren. You won’t find any majestic saguaro’s¬†or desert wildflowers, but you will find plenty of rock. The longer I was here, the more I was bothered by the lack of vegetation.

Shopping is limited. However, Havasu pretty much has everything I need these days. The biggest draw back for me personally is the distance to the nearest city. The closest major city is Las Vegas which is a 2 1/2 hour drive away while Phoenix is a 3 1/2 hour boring drive away. That means I can’t just pop in on my kids for lunch in Phoenix. Yeah, a bit too far away for a spur of the moment visit with one of the kiddos.

London Bridge
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Recommended businesses

When we spend a prolonged amount of time in a new location, we have the opportunity to learn about the area and that includes where to shop and good places to eat. Just in case you find yourself visiting western Arizona, here are some businesses in Lake Havasu City that we enjoyed and feel comfortable recommending.

Palm treesGrocery stores: I’m usually fond of shopping at a Kroger Grocery store (aka Fry’s or Smith’s in Arizona) but in Lake Havasu City, I prefer Arizona’s local supermarket brand, Bashas. The produce is fresh, local (when possible) and reasonably priced. Safeway comes in second. There’s also a RV friendly Walmart in town for non-perishables.

Repair shops: During our drive from Phoenix to Lake Havasu City, we discovered we had a broken shackle on the RV. Once we set up camp and reassessed the situation, Al decided he didn’t feel comfortable doing the job himself. After all, we were on private property plus set up on gravel. With a little research, we scheduled the work with¬†¬†Adrenaline Trailers.¬†They were more than happy to sell us just the parts, but we decided this seemed like a good time to have the bearings repacked and the trailer brakes tested along with having all the shackles replaced. They did a great job, although they were a tad messy with the grease.

My truck needed general maintenance. This was the second time I used this small, two-man shop for service on my Toyota Tacoma and both times I was pleased with the work and the price. I even recommended E & J Auto Repair to fellow RVers, Laura and Kevin, for needed repairs on their Xterra. They too were pleased with Ed’s work. He doesn’t have a website but he can be contacted at – E & J Auto Repair, 1600 W. Acoma Blvd #60, Lake Havasu City, AZ (928) 854-9399.

Lake Havasu Arizona
Lake Havasu, Arizona

RV Parts: The top rubber seals on our RV slides were starting to deteriorate from all the extreme sun that we experience here in the desert southwest. We have used rubber conditioner, but being exposed to over 300 days of sunshine a year and 70-100 degree F temperatures¬†takes a toll on our equipment. (I know, tough job dealing with all that sunshine¬†ūüėĀ) The folks at Sunshine RV were very helpful in making sure we ordered the right rubber slide seal for our RV. Sunshine RV became our go-to shop for RV parts. A new propane valve and shower seals were part of our purchases.

Computer Repair: Whiz Kid was extremely helpful when I encountered some computer issues.

Car wash: Our equipment was in dire need of cleaning. Mesquite Car Wash is owned and operated by a husband and wife team who enjoy RVing. As a matter of fact, they spent a year RVing full-time and would like to hit the road again if they could find a good manager for their business. Al and I had both our trucks detailed and the RV washed. They even have a nice outdoor sitting area and an inside ‘tiki shed’ with TV for entertainment while you wait. Good job and super friendly staff!

Restaurants: Lake Havasu City offers a nice variety of local establishments as well as some of my favorite chain restaurants. This is a tourist town after all. On the local front, our first stop had to be¬†Mudshark Brewery for their Vanilla Caramel Porter and Burger Monday special. Al¬† loves this porter and first discovered it being sold at Total Wine & More in Phoenix. Once Al realized the maker of this tasty porter was located in Lake Havasu City, a visit to Mudshark Brewery became tops on the ‘must do‘ list.

Next up was Hangar 24. Monday through Thursday during lunch they offer all their burgers at a special price of $7 and after 7:00 p.m. the appetizers are $5. The food here is really good, and I insisted we eat here one more time before heading out of town. A fun bonus for me was the ’70’s/’80’s rock music playing in the background. Guess with all the silvers in town, they considered the lunch crowd when choosing what music to play.

Hangar 24

Hangar 24 has a very casual party atmosphere with picnic table seating, occasional live entertainment, and even an outdoor swimming pool. Yeah, you read that right … a brewery/restaurant with a swimming pool. I’m pretty sure this is a popular spot for spring breakers. Silvers for lunch and breakers at night …. smart marketing!

Barley Bros Brewery
Barley Bros Brewery has a great location – check out the view of the London Bridge

I had heard mixed reviews from fellow RVers about Barley Brothers Brewery.¬†So we decided to check it out ourselves. The location is prime. Talk about a view! Of the four breweries we sampled, this one seemed to be the most expensive and didn’t offer any specially priced items. Although we enjoyed our meal and drinks, we enjoyed the view and location more.

College Brewery Lake Havasu City
Meeting up with Steve and Debbie at College Brewery

Near the end of our Lake Havasu City visit, we met Debbie and Steve at College Street Brewery and were pleasantly surprised with the happy hour prices … good food, good drinks, and of course, good company.¬†Steve’s flight of beer was $6 while my margarita was under $4. College Street Brewery turned into one of those restaurants we would definitely return to for happy hour.

Overall, Al thought Mudshark had the best beer. We both thought Hangar 24 had the best burgers. College Street Brewery had the best happy hour and Barley Brothers offered the best view!

The end of our visit

We had a great time hanging around Lake Havasu City and know we’ll be back … just not during the summer months. Hmm, after writing this post, perhaps Lake Havasu City should go on the short list of places to consider when we’re ready for that home base. It’s a thought!Lake Havasu Arizona

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Lighthouses of Lake Havasu

With each visit to Lake Havasu City, I learn more and more interesting and fun tidbits about the area. During our first trip to this part of western Arizona back in February of 2012, we learned about the history of the London Bridge . You can read more about the bridge here.
London Bridge Lake Havasu
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Turns out the land developer, Robert McCulloch, actually thought he had purchased the Tower Bridge and was rather disappointed when the reconstruction of the London Bridge was complete. He wondered where the rest of it was. Where were the towers?
No towers! However, the bridge was reconstructed in Lake Havasu City with one less archway than what was originally used crossing the Thames River in London. The bridge was a tad too long here in Havasu for the span from the island to mainland. Thus, the remaining bricks from one of the archways were stored for safe keeping and are used for necessary repairs, which have been required over the years.
London Bridge Lake Havasu City Arizona
Boating under the London Bridge
If you’re fortunate enough to take a boat ride under the bridge, bullet holes from WWII can be found in the bricks. Imagine, those beautiful stone bricks and the abundance of history they’ve witnessed. And since we’re talking about boating, did you know Lake Havasu City is home to more lighthouses than any other city in the entire country?
lighthouses in Arizona Lake Havasu City

I know, when you think about lighthouses, one would never associate a landlocked desert with lighthouses. However, there are more than twenty-five scaled-down functioning replicas along Lake Havasu’s shores with plans to build even more.

The construction of these lighthouses was originally intended for safety purposes, but have become as much of a landmark as the London Bridge.

The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, a non-profit group of independent people, wanted to make the lake safer for night boating and fishing. All lighthouses are built and  maintained by the folks at the Lighthouse Club and meet the coast guard’s navigational regulations. So not only do they serve as a unique tourist attraction, they assist in safe water navigation.

East Quoddy Lighthouse Arizona
East Quoddy Lighthouse replica – Lake Havasu City

All the lighthouses on the west side of Lake Havasu are replicas of famous lighthouses on the West Coast. On the east side of the lake are replicas from the East Coast, and the lighthouses around the island are all replicas of lighthouses from the Great Lakes.

Each lighthouse replica costs about $5,000 to build, which includes $1,000 or more just for the beacon. The majority of the labor is done by Lighthouse Club members and other volunteers, and many of the lighthouses are sponsored by families as memorials for their loved ones. Some of the lighthouses can easily be viewed from land while others can be seen only from the water.

Durrituck Beach Lighthouse Lake Havasu City Arizona
A few  lighthouses can be seen during a stroll along the canal in Lake Havasu City – Currituck Beach Lighthouse
Currituck Beach Lighthouse Lake Havasu City Arizona
Each lighthouse replica is adorned with a plaque

One of my personal favorites is the Split Rock Lighthouse. When Al and I lived in the Chicago suburbs, every summer we would pack up our canoe and camping gear and head to northern Minnesota. The stretch of road along the north shores of Lake Superior between Duluth and Grand Marais is a beautiful and scenic drive … a drive I always enjoyed.

Lake Havasu Arizona lighthouses

Both sides of the road feature interesting sights. On the north side of the road, we see waterfalls. The iron ore rich land turns the cascading water into an interesting copper color which rapidly flows over huge rocks and drains into Lake Superior.

Split Rock Lighthouse
Split Rock Lighthouse replica – Lake Havasu City

Glancing to the south side of the road is Lake Superior; the largest of the Great Lakes. A rocky cliff shoreline serves as a reminder that these waters can be dangerous. You won’t find many beaches along Lake Superiors north shore but you will find lighthouses.

Split Rock lighthouse Lake Havasu City ArizonaDuring our many travels through this part of Minnesota, a stop or two to capture a photograph of the Split Rock Lighthouse was always on the agenda.

Somewhere in my storage unit back in Colorado are all my vacation photos from those Minnesota vacations.

I had a great time watching the sunset over Lake Havasu. As I stood next to the Split Rock Lighthouse replica, I couldn’t help but reminisce. Ah yes ….  fond memories indeed. Wherever does the time go?

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu City is a great destination for a get away year round. Just remember, this is the desert and temperatures in the summer do soar, but fall, winter, and spring are an RVer’s dream. For info on a lighthouse tour, click here.

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Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? I’ll be keeping a close eye on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Here’s a few items on my list (affiliate links). What’s on yours?

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Best thing about RVing

What’s the best thing about living in a RV full-time? Ah, that list is long, but if I had to choose one thing, that thing might come as a surprise. I know it came as an unexpected surprise to me; a pleasant one at that, I might add.

Lighthouses of Lake Havasu

One of the most popular questions about full-time RVing, seems to revolve around location(s); what’s your favorite place, a must see spot, most memorable scenery? Somewhere toward the bottom of that list of questions might be, “Do you miss family or friends?”

daughter
fun with my daughter

Of course we do! We always miss our children, which is why you’ll find us traveling in and out of Phoenix, Arizona on a regular basis. And although we keep in contact with our non-RVing friends, the biggest surprise, and most fun, has been all the new friendships we’ve forged along this journey.

So back to that question …. What’s the best thing about living in a RV full-time? It’s the community of like minded people and the forging of new friendships that makes this RVing lifestyle so special and so much fun.

Sure, the discovery of beautiful places is always a delight, especially to anyway who enjoys photography as much as I do, but the making of new friends, genuine friends, still tops my list of one of the best things about the RVing lifestyle.

I’ve discovered, the mobile life can turn even the most extreme introvert into a social butterfly. That’s not to say, there isn’t an abundance of solitude. RVing is whatever you want it to be, but know, that you’re never alone and there’s always someone willing to lend a helping hand or share a smile.

White Mountains
The White Mountains in eastern Arizona

Over the past several years of RVing, we’ve developed a core of friends; the kind of friends that would drop what they’re doing and travel miles to come lend a helping hand. We treasure that kind of friendship and do not take it for granted.

While staying at a RV Park in Prescott Valley this past June, we developed an amazing friendship with a couple from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. They had just purchased a new to them Motorhome and were having problems with their television. We offered to take a look and help these folks trouble shoot the issue. To make a long story short, this was just the beginning of our ensuing friendship.

Pinetop Arizona
Friends Park Model in Pinetop, AZ

These new friends were on a quest to find a small summer home to escape the extreme summer heat at their home in Lake Havasu City. Once the Prescott area was ruled out, they moved on, much to our chagrin. However, we stayed in touch regularly as their search continued throughout Arizona.

In early August, we received a phone call from them informing us that they had found their perfect summer get away and they couldn’t wait for us to see it. They urged us to come visit, which I assure you didn’t necessitate any arm twisting.

We left the RV behind for the first time in four years, and took a four-hour drive to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona. It felt like we were on vacation. Our friends purchased an absolutely adorable Park Model in Pinetop, Arizona, and refer to it as their little cabin in the woods. It’s so cute and perfect for their needs.

Corgi
our wonderful host and hostess – Kate and Duke

 

After our two night visit, they insisted encouraged us to come visit them at their home when they returned to Lake Havasu City. The mere mention of the word boating, quickly got my attention. Sure, twist my arm some more!

Lake Havasu City
Our friends had plenty of room for us to park our RV next to their motorhome and pontoon boat

In mid September, we pulled into their place in Lake Havasu City and were quickly directed into a parking spot. Al and I incorrectly assumed we’d be staying in our RV while parked on the property. Instead, they had the Casita in their backyard all set up and ready for us.

Casita living
Friends backyard. The main house is on the right and the Casita (studio apartment) is on the left

So not only did we have a free place to park the RV, we were given a free studio apartment for our extended stay … for however long we wanted to stay. Now, that’s some serious friendship!

Lake HavasuKeeping my mom’s saying at the forefront of our thoughts, “Guests and fish begin to smell after three days“, Al and I didn’t make a commitment as to how long we’d stay. We didn’t have anywhere to be until October 1st, but we also didn’t want to over stay our welcome and accidentally damage our friendship.

Well, our two and a half week visit flew by and both couples agreed it felt more like a mere weekend stay and none of us were ready to bid farewell. Fun times!

I’d say it’s safe to assume, regular visits to Lake Havasu City are in our future.

Adirondack chairs
Friendship is a wonderful thing!


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What’s all the fuss about?

After¬†a few¬†exciting days of crane photography, it was time for us to meander down the road.¬†¬†Three years ago we first heard about¬†Patagonia State Park in southern Arizona.¬† Everyone seemed to have the same response, “You just have to¬†visit Patagonia”.Arizona State ParksWith a piqued curiosity and no firm commitments, we pointed the RV in the direction of Patagonia State Park.¬† Let’s¬†see what all the fuss is about.Arizona State ParkswoodpeckersThis is a very popular state park and it’s usually best to book a reservation, especially on weekends.

We lucked out snagging a big enough site for us during our weekday stay, and although it was near the main entrance road, we didn’t seem to mind.

Once we had the RV all set up, we set off on a stroll around the park to see just what makes this place worth recommending.¬† Within five minutes, we fell in love with the park.¬† Water, woods, and wildlife….¬†wonderful!

The state of Arizona never ceases to amaze me with her diverse beauty.¬† Within a two hours drive, one can go from¬†a desert valley filled with unique cacti, to mountainous hills of pine forests, to fields of agriculture, to peaks of stunning red rocks, to a huge crevice in the earth (Grand Canyon),¬†or to a pristine lake.¬† It’s like being able to pick a different flavor¬†of the¬†week or a combo of flavors to savor and enjoy.Arizona State ParksPatagonia State Park is definitely a combo of flavors… a few of my very favorites.¬† I always jump at the chance to camp near water and I’ve always enjoyed boating of any kind, and although we no longer¬†have our own form of watercraft, it’s nice to be able to rent one and get out on the water.Boating in Arizona

The marina at Patagonia State Park offers several different options for boating; paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, fishing boats, and pontoon boats.  Or sign up for a guided boat tour for only $5.00 per person.boating in Arizona

hiking
obstacles on the hiking trails

PatagoniaAl and I took a pass on the boating and focused on hiking.

It was such a pleasant surprise to discover the trails meandering through a grove of tall trees partly near the lakes edge and then along a bubbling creek.   We did need to beware of some mean looking obstacles though.

With plenty of trees and an abundance of water, Patagonia State Park is an anglers and¬†birders paradise.¬† We routinely encountered “birders” on the hiking trails¬†looking for specific birds.¬† They’d have one or two sets of binoculars hanging¬†around their neck and quite often a list or bird book for reference.Patagonia State Park

Me?¬† I am not a birder.¬† I don’t own a set of binoculars.¬† I’m¬†merely¬†someone who enjoys¬†taking photos of pretty things, and that includes birds.¬† Sometimes I’ll take the effort¬†to learn the name of a bird but most¬†often I don’t.¬† It’s just not that important to me.

birding in ArizonaHowever, at Patagonia State Park one learns very quickly to be on the look out for the rare and illusive Elegant Trogon.¬† Birders from around the country will travel to¬†Patagonia State Park in hopes of seeing this beauty of a bird.birding in Arizonaelegant trogonelegant TroganThere’s only two places in the United States where one can find the South American Elegant Trogon and Patagonia State Park is one of those places.¬† Knowing that seeing the elegant trogon would be a special treat, Al and I would keep our eyes peeled during our hikes.

On our last¬†morning hiking at the park, I spotted¬†a bright green color whiz by me.¬† I grabbed Al’s arm with one hand and point with the other.¬† I said in a hushed but excited tone, “There…. there.¬† I think that’s the trogon”.¬† I started snapping away.

Al saw a group of birders up the trail and quickly strode in their direction to inform them.¬† Excitement filled the forest and the elegant trogon was the focus of everyone’s attention.¬† We were all very fortunate¬†Mr. Trogon¬†stayed around long enough for¬†us all¬†to enjoy before he finally flew off.

With all the excitement behind us, we strolled back to camp for a hearty lunch and to plan Patagonia State Parkout the rest of the day… our last day at the state park ūüė¶

This is the perfect time for me to point out that there is NO internet or TV reception to be found anywhere in the park which¬†can be¬†good and bad.¬† Bring out the Game of Thornes DVD’s… campfires aren’t allowed.

We ended our day with a little of my “special” lemonade while enjoying a fantastic sunset.¬† The perfect ending to a perfect day.Patagonia State ParkActually our whole stay was pretty awesome.¬† So awesome, we tried to extend our visit, but as I mentioned earlier weekends book up, thus no sites were available for us to¬†stay longer.¬† Note to self.birding in ArizonaIt’s obvious Patagonia State Park is a lovely place to relax, unwind, and chill for a few days.¬† I finally understand why it’s a favorite with so many…. us included.Patagonia State Park

Moon Arizona & the Grand Canyon (Moon Handbooks)
Game of Thrones: Season 1